As the saying goes: L’Opera lirica è un posto dove un uomo viene pugnalato e, invece di morire, canta; Italian opera is the only place a man can be stabbed, and instead of dying, he sings. The moral is: Even when you are down and out, you must never give up! Going forward through tough times, when we seem defeated, requires stepping strongly out of our comfort zone and opening up to new experiences. Just like that. Decide to do something constructive that you may never have done before–and then do it. In Rome they say unless a mouse risks being seen when looking for food, it will starve to death anyway. As with all other apparent paradoxes of the culture, Italians balance their distinct conservative side with their need to rischiare, take a risk. This is evident from their great strides in science, the arts, technology, fashion, and most importantly, in love. Taking a risk, rischiare, to seek new adventures is the energy that drives Italian genius and creativity. We must dig deep and reconnect with the courage we have inside of us to do the same, each and every day. The skill of wise risk-taking helps us grow in love, work, and play, because it is the only path that leads to the authenticity of the soul.
The metaphor of the non finito, a technique that Michelangelo and many of his contemporaries used, is meant to convey how we are all masterpieces in progress; with infinite possibilities for self development and deeper beauty, inside and out. The non finito is a sculpture which is partially carved out, leaving the rest of the block of marble as is; thus as the figure emerges from the unfinished marble, the breathtaking possibilities are limited only by your imagination. Unveiling the best of what is inside us requires continuous personal enrichment, and reflection on who we really want to be. Here are five ways to continue being the work of art in progress that you are:
1. Take a moment of reflection in the morning upon wakening and in the evening before going to sleep. What do you want your energy to feel like today? Were you feeling joyful throughout the day? If not, what kept you from your happiness? How can I make it happen tomorrow?
2. Find ways to honor your body, so that it feels and looks like the masterpiece of God. Perhaps you need to get out and get more sunshine, get back to eating foods that do your body good, donate the clothes that don’t flatter you and buy something that does.
3. Read good personal development materials, books that inspire you, articles that give you a lift. Consider a life coach to help you clear away the distractions that keep you from living the life you really want to be living.
4. Choose to spend time with people who enrich you , encourage you, and support your journey. Life has enough sharp edges without having constant exposure to those who gratuitously criticize or put you down .
5. Think of each day as your personal singular masterpiece. Neither hang on to yesterday’s sorrows nor the fear of tomorrow. We have only the moment we are in right now for sure. Make each moment one that beautifies your inner character and your outer appearance.
I thank you for taking this precious moment of YOUR masterpiece to read my words. Please comment below, and tell me how you intend to make this day YOUR life’s work of art.
Raeleenmautner@gmail.com for more information on my six-week summer teleseries on rebuilding your life after loss, with the sweetness of Italy. I am looking forward to having YOU in this content-rich, life-changing class.
A treasured photo of me and Zia Immacolata in the 70’s
- Italians are not motivated by riches; rather, a few special possessions bring immense pleasure to our life. A friend of mine in Ostia might spend a week’s salary on an original painting and forgo the new shoes she had her eye on for months. Her home is filled with meaning. Like me, Anna still uses her grandmother’s out-dated macchinetta (coffee maker), accents her sweaters with a broche her great-aunt once wore, and displays a yellowed photograph of her parents wedding day as you walk through the front door—these artifacts tell the story of her personal history, so surrounding herself with them makes her feel grounded. They give her a clear reminder of who she is and where she came from. When my friend purchases something new it is most always because it enhances the richness of her life, and compliments what she already has. Today, think about how to round up YOUR precious artifacts—objects that tell of your personal history— and find ways to wear or display them. When you shop for new items, make purchasing decisions based on how well they fit into your total life portrait. Avoid clutter, and the chaos of hoarding. You don’t need quantity. MEANING is what gives you a sense of belonging.
- I am putting together my 6-week summer teleclass for rebuilding your life after loss with the sweetness of Italy. Please email me if you’d like more information, and let me know what kind of loss or personal change you have recently gone through so I can tailor this series for YOU. email@example.com. Looking forward to hearing from you!
The Roman orators were riveting in the elegance of their communication skills. They drew in audiences with the content of their message, their gestures, the crescendos and diminuendos of their voices. Have we lost those communication skills today, with email, texting, twitter, and abbreviated facebook updates? I love technology as much as the person, but I sometimes think that interpersonal communication skills may be falling by the wayside–especially when it comes to telling people things that could help them in the workplace, but co-workers may be reluctant to approach the subject. Case in point: Do you tell someone with whom you share an office that you’d appreciate it if they would pass wind in another area? Do you mention to a colleague that the shrill register of his voice may be grating on the boss’s nerves? Do you tell an older adult at work that you don’t want to have a “y” attached to your name because it makes you feel like a baby? Dr. Norman Davis (author of The Black Quarterback Syndrome) is an expert in the field of the “undiscussables” and YES, in most cases he feels there IS a way to have an honest discussion about everything. That doesnt’ however, mean that our words should gratuitously hurt someone. Before you speak, take a quick check of your own motives. Are you saying something for no other reason than to zing someone else? If so, don’t do it. The old rhyme that “sticks and stones can break my bones but names can never hurt me” is false. Hateful words have been known to drive people to commit suicide. Always speak with kindness and approach your fellow human being with good positive intentions. Know the difference between being helpful and being insensitive or unkind.
Tune in to “The Art of Living Well” tomorrow morning at 7AM EST on 88.7FM WNHU or stream in live www.wnhu.net for a discussion about the undiscussables with my special guest Dr. Norm Davis.
Now that the weather is nice many of us are tempted to go out at lunchtime for a walk. I am all for it . A bit of sunshine, fresh air, and physical activity can make us more alert and productive when we get back to our desks. But another alternative might be just as good for you: A short nap! In the smaller southern Italian towns, the siesta (from the latin “sixth hour” of the day=noon) is still honored as a way to maintain quality of life. A nice home-cooked meal, perhaps even a few “z’s” before the store is re-opened is a way to make life slow its rythmn and self-care come to the forefront. Nothing ultimately gets done if you are too tired, exhausted, or run-down to do it well.
Brisk walk versus short nap? It depends on how you feel, and how sleep deprived you are. According to the national sleep foundation:
- Naps can restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes and accidents. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%.
- Naps can increase alertness in the period directly following the nap and may extend alertness a few hours later in the day.
- Scheduled napping has also been prescribed for those who are affected by narcolepsy.
- Napping has psychological benefits. A nap can be a pleasant luxury, a mini-vacation. It can provide an easy way to get some relaxation and rejuvenation.
So now you have a choice. You decide on a daily basis what you need in the middle of your own workday, then follow through with the best action plan to refresh your body and mind!
After a major loss in my life, one of my first entries back into the world when most of the grief had lifted was to sign up for a ballroom dance class. No, I had no visions of being invited on to Dancing With The Stars, but I recall that as soon as I entered through the doors fo the dance hall, I was transported by the loveliness of couples swirling and floating along the perimiters of the floor as the silver ball sprinkled them with specs of silver light. Sinatra was singing (a recording of course) “The Way You Look Tonight”, and I knew I had made a good decision to step into the world of dance.
In a study on geriatric depression, researchers randomly assigned older adults in the community to two conditions. The “treatment” condition received eight ballroom dance lessons (foxtrot, waltz, cha-cha, swing, etc); the control group did not. Measures were taken before and after. Findings indicated that those who took dance were less depressed, felt less hoplessness, and had more of a sense of self-confidence. Furthermore, their feedback indicated that they plain just had fun!
I know I can’t sit still when I hear Sinatra, whose voice to me, is synonymous with ballroom dance. But what about you? How can YOU integrate dance into your life to feel happier? Ballroom dance is a wonderful and emotionally safe way to heal a wounded heart. Why not polish up those dance shoes and give it a try.