20121225-074604.jpg It’s Christmas day, but as many of you probably remember, I don’t celebrate Christmas. Nonetheless, the end of the year is a time of reflection; a time to take stock of where we are and reevaluate where we are going.
It’s been a difficult few weeks here at L&S HQ. I came back from Egypt feeling physically strong but emotionally tired. I spent the last 3 days in Sharm crying like a little baby, blaming the hormones, but realising that the reason why I was so upset was that I didn’t want to leave a place that, despite all its faults, felt like home. When I say home, I’m not referring to Milan, or to my actual home in Italy. I’m referring to all those small things that remind me of Italy, the place that I’ve spent most of my adulthood loving or hating so much – the people, the warmth, the friendliness, the weather, the sea, new friends that felt like old friends…

I spent the first leg of our flight back to England with my eyes glued to the window, looking at Egypt vanishing under my eyes. And then, cold and rainy, was London. I was trying to tell myself “It’s ok, just 4 weeks and you’ll be back home (Italy)”, but all my mind wanted was to wake up the next day, put my bikini on, get on a boat and swim with the fishes in the Red Sea. Spoilt, I know. But these are the things that make me happy. Not an iPad, not a computer nor diamonds.

Four weeks on and my mood has improved, but my connection to Egypt feels as strong as ever. Music kept me company. The Lumineers. I love their recent album. I recently told one of my friends that music is one of the most beautiful gifts God has given us. I asked him: “What music do you listen to?” and he answered: “Depends on my mood”. And it’s so true. Music is one of the most powerful things I know. The Lumineers made me dance alone in my room, with my eyes closed, knowing no one was watching, just because it made me feel good.

Sometimes you need to face reality. Life is not a big holiday. You always have to go back to reality, and when you do, the cure to that feeling that somehow makes you feel disconnected from the real life is to try and make mental lists of all the things you can and should be grateful for.

So here is mine…

A husband that loves me dearly. I drive him crazy, and yet he stands by me. He drives me crazy sometimes too, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My family. Just the fact that they know how you are without you even speaking blows my mind.

My friends – old and new (not many, in fact you can count them on the fingers of one hand). I call them friends, but I should really say my brother and sisters, because that’s what they feel like. I have to force myself not to focus on the fact that they are far from me, but just knowing that no matter where I am and no matter what I do, they are ready to help and support me, it’s the most beautiful feeling in the world. Thank YOUUUUUUU!

My health. I’m not lying, living with a chronic condition can be a challenge, but it’s all to do with mindset. I choose to live a normal life and sometimes ignore the effects it has on me, but the bottom line is: I’m relatively healthy. I’m alive and all the people I love are too. Happy days!

My work. Until 2 years ago, I used to go to work and cry all the way from the train station to the office. Now I jump out of bed and thank God for the fact that my job is genuinely awesome. Starting your own business and being self employed is not the easiest thing, but the freedom it gives me is amazing. Yes, if I don’t work, I don’t earn; but it’s my choice and my choice only. The peace of mind it gives me is just great.

Travelling. It makes me happy and grateful to God for the beauties he’s put on this earth for us to enjoy. Meeting people of different cultures is one of the most beautiful experiences. It makes your life richer. It opens your mind. It allows you to see the reality for what it is. For as long as I’m alive and our circumstances allow us to, travelling will be one of those things my husband and I will never give up to.

Italian food. Predictable? Yes. But boy, I can’t help it. There is nothing like home food. As I’m here at home with my family, I get spoilt by my mum who cooks the most flavorsome Italian dishes. Food makes me so happy. My dad always says: “Never eat just because you have a mouth!”… Wise words!

Reading and writing. Seriously, some people can’t. But I can. And I will make the most of it. And on this note, The Little Prince of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is my favorite book. One that makes me happy because of the lessons about friendship it teaches me. If you haven’t bought it yet, then you should. And every few years, as you meet new people, as your friendships evolve, re-read it.

Here’s my favourite quote:

“I am looking for friends. What does that mean — tame?”

“It is an act too often neglected,” said the fox. “It means to establish ties.”

“To establish ties?”

“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world….”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

My iPhone. Before you judge me, here is why: the freedom it gives me to explore the world whenever and wherever I am feels great. I think back to the time when we didn’t have this technology (yes, I’m that old!), and I wonder how I managed. I know we did, and I know our life was just as great. But I LOVE the freedom my iPhone gives me. I listen to music on the go, I speak to my friends on the other side of the world and I satisfy my curiosity whenever I want. What a great feeling…

And now, some of the other things that make happy, ‘just because…’: my soft and hugging mattress / talking to my friends until my eyes can’t stay open anymore / learning how to use my Canon 60D / reading a new book that has me hooked after just 10pages / dark chocolate that isn’t too bitter / staying in my PJs until lunch time / snorkelling in the Red Sea / sunsets behind the desert / listening to Jovanotti (aka Lorenzo Cherubini) / eating prosciutto cotto / my Chanel foundation / surprising my friends and family / my crazy nieces and nephews / freshly ironed bed linens / receiving my Elle magazine through the letter box / a new Moleskine notebook / looking at my husband sleeping like a baby / booking a plane ticket

There is so much more I’m grateful for. But this will suffice.

Writing this list felt good. It’s a like a katartik experience. If you haven’t done it yet, do it. The end of the year is always a good time to do this exercise as it lets you focus on 2013 with a fresh outlook. A more positive one.

Have a great break and see you again on 7th January!

xx Betta
Image via The Day Book Blog