No one likes to die

Last night, my husband and I had to put our cat on a short fasting. This morning, around 04.29, the lovely, tiny, black panther was pocking on my head with his velvety, merciless paw.

“Are you planning to make me starve?”

My battered temples translated from the Morse code made of iron thuds.

I could not satisfy my cat’s request, so I pulled up the duvet and pushed myself down, to disappear into the bed, saying to myself: “wait here, and he’ll go away. You’ll be fine”.

At that moment, I recalled the last dialogue I had with my husband before I fell asleep.

“No! Don’t take it away from me! I demand the right to complain!”

He had said imitating my voice amidst a laugh. To which I tried to replay that I wasn’t complaining, just exposing a fact, while, in fact, I was complaining.

As soon as I recalled that memory, I said in my mind: “What if everything is fine?”

I felt confused by that thought. So, I tried to put it out better.

“What will be of me if everything turns out just fine?”

You should know that yesterday I had the first out of eight sessions of a procedure that will make my legs hairless. That is what I was talking about with my husband. I know, it’s something trivial which you think you really didn’t need to know, but let me explain.

I dreamed to undergo a laser hair removal procedure since I knew it existed, and I dreamed of making my body hair disappear since it had first appeared, at eleven years old. Yeah, I was eleven! Now I am 41. You do the math.

I know that for most women this is not a big issue. And I know that for the hardcore feminists every self-respecting adult woman should claim the right to body hair with proud. But it’s not my case. I hate it. It is my fixation – one of many, to be honest – and, after years of shaving and complaining, I decided to take the big step and spend a not so little sum to get rid of it – the shaving & complaining – once and for all.

“Ok – you may say – you’re a good girl, you did it! Why speaking about dying in the title?”

Because, if all my plans to improve myself go well, what will it be of me? If everything goes right and all the good things I’m planning are successful what will it be of the old, complaining me?

You never ask your old selves if they are happy with all your New Year resolutions, self-help books, diets, and therapeutic sessions. Well, I can tell you, your old, soon-to-be-former selves are not happy. They are not happy that you want to kill them. Because no one likes to die, even if they are an unhappy, ever-complaining, ever-postponing mess.

All throughout your planning, your self-help reading, your working out, your committing to new, better habits, your going to your therapy, they are there, poking on your temples:

“Are you planning to make me starve?”

And you can pull up the duvet, and wait hidden inside your New-You cradle till they resolve to go do something else, but you should be prepared to their come back.

“Where is my bowl of self-loathing?”

And, even if it is cruel, you should not listen. You should stick to your plans, your books, your workouts, your diets, your therapies. But you should also be aware of them, be aware that they will fight back because no one likes to die. Even the ones who want to die, I don’t think they like it. And if you want to show some mercy, to your old and your new self as well, next time your old-self comes poking, be honest.

“Are you planning to make me starve?”

“Yes, I do.”



Re-set from black

Hi guys, how do you reset yourself for a clean start?

To me, is all about drastic, simple decision. But let me start with a detour. Because.

Some people – not many to be honest – but some people ask me:

“Waking up at 05.00 am. What for?”

Well. On a common day, when I have to:

  • write in my diary
  • make breakfast + pack lunch
  • workout
  • making myself decent for work
  • actually, walk out the house

I can really use the hours between 05.00 and 08.30 am to do the things I mentioned up there and feel a whole person, instead of a puppet wearing a job description who wakes up early enough to make it at work just on time.

The issues are my off-work days. I have so much time and so little structure that I lose the focus for hours, and I end up writing my journal at 09.25, after hours spent on Youtube, watching the most varied and mostly useless videos. I need a strategy for my off-duty days and a different one for when I start my shift later in the day, since I’m still mumbling the idea to stop working extra hours.

The idea to work extra hours entered my mind around the end of August last year and I thought it would have led me to work some extra hours here and there, just to help out in the store – which at the time was understaffed – and gain me some extra money to help me save for some major expenses I had in mind.

It ended up being a full commitment with my boss putting me on fulltime shifts every single week from September 2017 to this very month. For a moment, it seemed that even the chance for a small promotion was in the air, but then we had to add a new member to the team who came with that position from another branch, things got a little sour in the store, and I remembered that my initial plans were just to add some extra money and go on with my minimalist lifestyle.

So, now that I have purchased what I was saving for, it’s time for me to pull back there and return to a full commitment on here. One of the reasons I wasn’t doing it is that I don’t trust myself on this. I have no trust in my ability to schedule my day and stick to the plan. Yeah, I have trust issues, with myself. Does it happen to you as well?

Experience tells me out there, there are a lot of people with self-esteem issues who don’t find themselves reliable. Am I wrong?

But I have to do it. You have to do it. People can’t count on you if you don’t do it first.

So, here I am. Ready to go back to my parttime commitment at work and my fulltime commitment to better myself. Actually, to change myself into another person, one I trust.

Ence, the title: re-set to black.

I say re-set, because I want to set new goals and strategies to became what I want to be.

And I say to black, because, after reading a lot of style blogs, after watching too many style videos, after listening to many minimalist podcasts, I came to the conclusion that simple, drastic decisions are the best way to simplify your life, help your budget and build you a stile. So I took my drastic, simple, and money-saving decision: from now on all the bottoms in my wardrobe will be black. 

The decision went something like this: for a long time, I deluded myself with the idea that I could, at the same time, embrace a minimalistic style and avoid the colour black. I could not. I was trying to re-invent the wheel and I wanted to do it square shaped. So, since I can’t win over black, I’ll wear it. From the waist down.

I will buy just:

  • black trousers –> no jeans, only trousers, preferably cigarette or palazzo trousers
  • black skirts –> round midi skirts, short pleated ones
  • black shorts –> wool ones, for the winter
  • black pantyhose –> but also nude pantyhose
  • black shoes –> mainly flat or medium heels black shoes, but also nude shoes and sandals

And I’ll buy all these things no sooner than 2019. Because for this year I established a moratorium on buying clothes. I have all I need and something more, like, for example, blue trousers and jeans shorts. The moratorium, though, works on all the tops as well, since I’ll be buying tops all the year-long as work uniforms, and I don’t want to overstuff my wardrobe.

At the same time, I want to free my time from work, I want to free some space in my mind from thoughts about buying stuff, matching stuff, saving for stuff. I need those terrible blank hours, I have to put myself on the test of filling those hours and doing it productively. I need to re-set from black.

And you? Do you think you need to reset? And from there would you like to start? Are you thinking about it? As always, thank you for your precious time and have a great week! 

What’s your plan?

Good morning old friends, how is going this 2018, so long?

Here in England, it’s snowing. At this moment, it looks more like someone is fluffing up a huge dawn cushion but it’s freezing cold so I think I’ll agree with yesterday forecast and say that actually it’s snow.

I didn’t ask you about your plans at the end of 2017 or the beginning of 2018 because I don’t believe in the New Year’s resolution ritual. And also because I prefer starting new things on odd days, like dieting on a Thursday, then wait till the appropriate Monday. Yes, I know, today it is Monday, but why wait till the next Thursday when Monday it’s passing by?

So… what are your plans for this year?

I have some mismatched ones that I like to pair up and share with you.

Plan 1: write a note in my personal diary every day. I started on the 6th January and I didn’t miss a day so far.

Plan 2: don’t buy a single item of clothing until 2019. My true Year of Savings was 2018, even if I did some big purchases, like a handmade bag, coats and boots, a new sofa… but this year I plan to really re-build my personal style and as a first step, I should not add anything to what I already own.

Plan 3: wake up at 05.00 am for at least 5 days out of 7.

Plan 4: fill my mornings with reasons for waking up at 05.00. I’m still putting up a list.

Plan 5: going through all the 3 phases of the Emily Skye FIT program all the year around. Today, I’m on Day 6 of Phase 2.

Plan 6: read the classics of Stoicism. I have a copy of the complete works of Seneca, the Enchiridion from the words of Epictetus, and the Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. I just began the Enchiridion.

Plan 7: don’t give a fuck. It is a hard plan to follow.

Plan 8: write to my closest friends once a week.

Plan 9 (from outer space): conquer the world.

And you, my guys? Do you have plans for this 2018? Are you onto them, already? Maybe you are not interested but here this fluffy, faint snow, is starting to piling up.

Pocket money and spare thoughts

Hi, guys. How are you?

I’m fine but I had been piling post drafts without posting anything new since… well, since forever. During this period of writing negligence, I’ve been busy having a day job and telling myself that I didn’t have any time left to write. That was a lie. And a blatant one.

I was simply embittered by the notion that to have some pocket money I had to find a regular day job. So, since writing, and blogging were reminders of my inability to make a profit out of my creativity, I stopped writing and abandoned my blog. The notion still hurts a little but I’m making progress. For instance, I’m here.

During this period, I persisted with physical training and I had an on/off relationship with meditation. Currently, I ignore the email from Headspace while I’m becoming a fangirl of this other guy, Marcus Aurelius. I’m sure you’ve heard about him.

I’m still building my personal morning ritual. Will I introduce again cold showers? Mm… my recurrent sinusitis tells me don’t you dare! But I am open to other sorts of self-discipline. It has to be something less punitive on my frontal sinus cavities, though.

More or less, I reprised reading fiction, which I take as a sign of a more positive approach towards humanity, in general, and the part of it who call themselves narrators, specifically.

After my last possessions purge, I pulled the brakes on minimalism. Why?

  • Reason 1: I mistakenly donated to the charity a book I cherished.
  • Reason 2: I’m not the kind of woman who can survive an entire winter with a single coat. And, as you all know: winter is coming.

I have ideas about new post series.

Have a great day.

– Nina –

Self improvement: one year recap

Hello friends, how are you? I am rather fine, thank you.

Through this recap post, I’d like to share the progress I’ve done along the road to becoming a better, more serene and satisfied version of myself, in the hope that my experience could help you in your personal struggle. More than one year ago, I was spending my days emotionally laying on the floor, (like the woman in this short tale) and since I didn’t like it, I started reading books, watching videos and following blogs about self-improvement.

In a post from 14th March 2016, I stated that I wanted to achieve three things in a year:

  • publish a book
  • be truly fit
  • be a more seductive person

I achieved two out three of those goals and it’s ok to me since to publish a book you first have to write one, and I couldn’t bring myself to do it. But let’s analyse the list from the bottom.

Be a more seductive person

I feel more confident in my own skin, that I smile more (even if I still struggle accepting my crooked and not perfectly white teeth) and that I’m not always complaining about my hair, my looks or my wardrobe as I use to do. So, maybe, I am not more seductive in a strict sense, but I am more confident, and that goes a long way in the seductiveness of a person.

I can explain better through an example. About a month ago, I was going crazy with my hair. I was utterly unsatisfied with it and I was anxious to find a new cut or colour or treatment to fix it. So I consulted more than one hairdresser. I looked for tips and hair product brands on the web. I asked the opinion of friends and co-workers and then… I waited. I didn’t want to rush a decision as the old me would have done. I wanted to see what could happen just waiting one week before taking any course of action and I saw that my hair didn’t need any of the things I was planning. During that anxious week, I washed my hair without the conditioner, again just to see what could happen, and the result was that it looked a lot better, so I just stopped using conditioner.

Currently, my hair is growing longer and whiter and I plan not to do a thing about it at least for another year. Even if I have some split ends, my hair is too short to cut those ends out without messing with an overall shape that I like. And about the white strands, at the moment they are too few for colouring or bleaching wisely. In the end, as someone wiser than me once said: it’s just hair.

Be truly fit

In the past, I tried going to the gym and lift by myself, I tried following cardio courses, I tried using the Wii Fit. I didn’t stick to any of those fitness practices and none of them changed really my body. Even though following my sister-in-law’ step lessons increased my resistance, and lifting added something to my strength, my body didn’t change in a noticeable way. Then, I started the F.I.T. program and just in a couple of weeks it turned my body and my metabolism upside down. 

The changes that surprised me the most and that I like the most are two:

  • my belly fat disappeared
  • I eat like a lorry driver

Being able to eat plenty to fuel a lean body is the thing that brings me more joy than anything else. Now I can really enjoy going out to dinner with my husband. It is true that my food choices have changed but I feel a lot better and so I don’t miss pasta.

Publish a book

As anticipated, I didn’t publish a book, the main reason being that I didn’t write one. I realised that writing with that goal in mind was painful because I measured every sentence I wrote by that criteria. Writing became an unpleasant chore to the point that I stopped writing fiction. At the same time, my new job brought me enough joy and fulfilment and took from me so much time, that I stopped writing as a whole. Currently, I am more organised and also calm enough to enjoy writing again. More importantly, I abandoned the idea to give writing an ulterior goal other than bringing me joy and ideas have started to come back. 

After stating my goals, in a post dated 23rd March 2016, I declared that one of the strategies I was going to use was following a Spartan-like morning routine.

These are the 8 things I had planned to do before 08.00 am:

  1. a 7 hours sleep
  2. prayer and meditation
  3.  hard physical activity
  4. consume 30 gr of protein
  5. take a cold shower
  6. listen to uplifting content
  7. review your life vision
  8. do at list one thing towards long-term goals.

I tried for a long time to follow this routine and, even though it gave me some good results for a while, it didn’t become a second nature to me. To stick to it I had to write it down somewhere (my calendar, my diary, a board in Trello) and when something came to interfere with one of the eight points, I fell off the waggon completely.

 Fourteen months after, this is what I do almost every morning:

  • I wake up around 05.30, after a good 7 hours sleep
  • I write down my gratitude list
  • I have my first breakfast (mainly porridge)
  • I watch or read something instructive or uplifting
  • I exercise and shower (not in cold water)
  • I have my second breakfast (mainly proteins) and prepare my bag for work
  • Then, If I have the late shift or the day off:
    • I write something
    • I bake some bread
  • I ride my bicycle to work

I don’t have to write down this list but I almost never fail following it, and when I do, I shrug my shoulders and go on doing what contingency dictates.

As you can see, I stopped meditating. I think about it as a temporary interruption and not a goodbye but I’m not able to say when I’m going to meditate again. As absurd as it can sound, discovering a song about mindfulness (Here comes a thought) in a cartoon and keep on playing it in my mind is helping me more than meditating.

So, in the morning, I take a moment to think of just flexibility, love and trust.

Along these fourteen months, what has been so far, the biggest game changer? Actually, I think the game changers were two:

  • working out in an effective way –> because it gave me a more general sense that I could really change things in my life.
  • finding a job –> because of everything else. Working outside my house, even if not doing my dream job, increased my self-esteem, my finances, my English, my organisational abilities, and the frequency I ride my bike.

All these words just to say that, emotionally, I don’t lie on the floor anymore. I have too much to do. Do I still write lists of goals? This is a more tricky question. I know it’s important to have goals and there are things that I’d like to reach, to achieve, but now I have just one general goal. I want to savour my life. I want to feel the time passing, and being satisfied with what I am doing while it’s passing. At the same time, I write and edit lists of small goals that could help me grasp the big one.

And that’s it for today and for a recap of fourteen months of self-improving. I hope the long post didn’t bore you too much and that you might find it of some inspiration. As for always, thank you for your precious time and have a nice day.