I’LL BE THERE FOR YOU

Admit it, as soon as you read the title of this entry you started singing Friend’s song (I know, because I did the same and now I can’t stop it playing in my head. AAAHHHH!!!). Here is the link in case you feel the need to blast it out loud!

I have a very big issue with trust and relying on other people, developed in years and years of having to fend for myself, of being surrounded by irresponsible, unreliable, childish people, of being extremely disappointed at the answer of a simple “could you please do that for me?” and, generally, because I have always portrayed myself as the strong, can-do-everything-anytime woman who mothers everyone around her because “if I don’t do it then nobody will or they’ll fuck it up, so I might as well put up with this shit now”.

If there is one thing I’m extremely grateful to my parents is the way they drilled in my mind the importance of being independent, strong, fierce and ready to face anything in life. It took me years to discover that, like any other medal, even this one has two faces, and even if one is very positive, the opposite…. Not so much. My mother always said to me “whatever happens in your life, good or bad, make sure you can always walk with your legs only, should you need to: this is the essence of freedom. If you know that you can count on yourself (especially financially), you don’t have to worry about relationships ending, work not being there, illness striking etc”.
“Hope for the best but prepare for the worst” the famous quote says, and this has been my attitude in life so far. I worked my ass off to always be in a position where, whatever happened to me, I was able to handle it, whether it was an extra bill I wasn’t expecting, a problem suddenly exploding on my face, any issue whatsoever, you name it. I think that this is why, ultimately, I ended up being in relationships with reckless and irresponsible people, because not only I was trained to sort my life, I was also convinced I could handle their shit without breaking a sweat. Also, I was totally fascinated on how they managed to survive, living day by day if not hour by hour, without a care in the world whilst I was frantically thinking of ways to cope with life.

And here is the opposite side of the medal for you… and I soon discovered how nasty it is by marrying the Chief Reckless and Irresponsible Officer of the world.

I can tell you, hand on heart, that I rarely have been more frustrated than having to fuck my credit score up by getting extra cash from those short-term loan sharks to pay for mortgage and food, all because my ex-husband was a “misunderstood talent”, or “this job is not for me”, or “they are all cowboys and don’t get fine dining” in yet another restaurant, meaning that he was yet again jobless and with no income, our household was again one salary down and we were big time fucked up. I ended up maxing out credit card after credit card, I lived payday by payday, spending endless sleepless night thinking “ok what bill can I delay this month? What service can be suspended without being too much of a hassle? What credit can I put my hands on to drag my family till the next salary” and I’m telling you, fighting post-natal depression plus being in a permanent state of anxiety was not a piece of cake. In all of this, he has been totally, delightfully at peace because to him, a life of constant struggles was not an issue and, anyway, he knew I’d fix it eventually, so why worrying?
I sat down with him so, so many times telling him “for fuck sake, you are on the brink of being forty years old, you are not a teenager, you have a family, you need to be responsible, you need to get yourself in a position where, should anything happen to me (and I was suicidal when I said those words, mind you), you’d be able to provide for you and our son! You cannot rely on me, what if a car hits me and I cannot work for months because I’m bedridden in an hospital room?” and so on. The answer? “yeah, you are right, but it’s not me, it’s them, they don’t understand me, I’m doing my best, but, but, but…”. And just as he predicted, there I was, fighting to live another day, counting pennies in my pocket and praying to survive another month with food on the table and a roof above our heads, eventually managing to putting a patch on yet another issue, giving him freedom to fuck it up again and again until, eventually, I left him and he almost ended up in jail (and, as far as I’m aware, his problems are all still there and counting).

After all of this, I became wiser and savvier, right? Do you think, after my marriage finally broke up for good, that I have learned my lesson? Of course not.
So there I was, bailing out people from their issues just because I hoped that, by doing so, they’d love me and fill the void I had inside, and maybe, just maybe, return the favour once. Yeah right, if I had to get back all the money I’m owed, I’d could easily repay one of my credit cards and cut it for good. What a dumb ass I have been.

Eventually, I toughened up, and especially after being dumped and, consequently, starting therapy, if anything I became extra super duper closed up in my own world: there was me, my son and no one else. No fucks given, no taking care of anyone else’s shit, your issues are not my issues, go beg someone else, goodbye, good luck, fuck off. Just like any other day in my life, it was me against the world, fighting all these wars alone, scarred but undefeated: all these experiences taught me once again that, unless I was by myself for myself, I would only end up in more mess than what I already was in. There was no trust, no ability to rely on anyone but myself.

For the record, this applies (and still does, to a certain extent) at work as well: if I start a list of all the shit I decided to deal with because I couldn’t trust anyone to do it by themselves, with a “I rather work 73485728 hours a day and do it correctly once, than having to then put up with the aftermath of a mess caused by incompetent people” mindset, oh boy, I would be able to fill the biggest encyclopaedia of the world and more. If it wasn’t for my dear friend and colleague Marge, who I know she has my back just as much as I have hers, I’d still be doing meaningless stuff to this day, end up pissed off big time, then frustrated, then miserable because “I have so much to do and I’m underappreciated”. This is one of the first thing I managed to get rid of, because now I’m so “I don’t really care if you fuck it up, it’s your problem not mine” that I managed to finally keep the bullshit away from me: I don’t care if your corporate card gets blocked, it’s not my responsibility if you can’t dial a phone number on a phone, I’m not your event planner so you can go to the pub by yourself, I’m no Michelin restaurant guide so you can book a restaurant by yourself and so on. Leave me out of it, thank you.

Things have changed in my personal life quite dramatically when my boyfriend came back in my life, moths ago, as a brand-new person, and being a brand-new person myself as well, we started to get to know each other again and, once we re-discovered how strong we are together (this time, in a positive way), we started to lay down the foundation of our relationship step by step. Amongst the things I’m having to learn now there’s trusting him to not only be there for me, but to also take care of me and my son. I’m still coming to terms with the fact that I don’t have to fight anymore, that there are no enemies of my physical, mental or financial wellbeing out there, just few clouds passing by, annoying me a bit; we are walking together in this journey, side by side, strolling through this journey of life. I have never experienced such thing (aside from Marge and few other people in my life). Old me and new me are having a war of words against each other, with the old me trying to take me back to perceive the world as a threat, and the new me thinking how it’s so blissful to be able to shut down the noise of “did you think about that? What about that issue? How about that bill? How can you pay this or that? The nanny? The school? The house? Etc…” because I know, deep inside, that I can rely on him whenever I can’t do it by myself; it feels like my brain can, at times, be on a little vacation, stretch a bit and relax.

This week it’s going to be a challenging one and my boss already came round, asking me to be a good girl and not bite the head off anyone… I couldn’t promise him that, but whatever will happens, I know now there is help at hand.  

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THE ONLY WAY IS UP BABY

You can see I istill have “the shoulders” and some abs, but the rest? bye bye……

I promised I’d do it, I feel ready for it, so here we go: this is me, right now, no shame or hiding, two months and something without stepping foot into the gym and one big surgery procedure to my shoulder later. There is no sugar-coating the truth: I lost all my body definition, all the muscles I had are practically gone, some of the weight I worked hard to gain is gone too, I’m very far away from the body I would love to achieve and yes, even though I know that everything is just dormant, ready to snap up back again as soon as I put some work in it,  I feel like a jelly who has never set foot in a gym since the day she was born. I know, I’m so dramatic at times!

Having said that, I’m ok with it. I really am. If this happened to me a year ago, I would have been on the brink of depression and I would have hated myself even more for “putting the effort and then look at you, you failed again, what’s the point of even trying if you are not capable of continuing, you stupid idiot”. I would have massively regretted the journey at the gym, treating myself like a deluded fool for even starting it in the first place, all because I didn’t manage to achieve (as usual, I would have specified) what I set myself to achieve so fuck this shit, let me go back at hiding under the covers to hide, let me get those black baggy hoodies and trousers so that nobody sees me ever again. I’m so glad that the music in my head is very, very different right now!
Yes, I don’t look exactly like I want to look. Yes, I am not exactly a mega fan of my body right now. Of course, if instead of Christmas, New Year’s Eve and surgery I had other two months of training, right now I’d be very fit and happy, but you know what? It’s ok. I am really not (too) upset.

I have learned during these months of therapy and hard work on myself, physically and mentally, that it’s ok to not be ok, and that I have always two ways to see things happening in my life: a negative one, and a positive one. Now, if I were the old me, I’d see this situation I am in now as I explained above. The new me, right now, prefers to think “ok, it happened, it’s a bit upsetting, BUT: I had a massive thing happening (surgery), that I had to have it, because if I didn’t, my body would have stopped me anyway down the line, probably with a ruptured tendon, and the dream about deadlifting and shit? Oh, forget about that. I’d be in constant pain all my life and maybe, maybe, I would not be able to hit the gym period. Yes, it is a stop, but it’s only a pause on a bigger, more fulfilling journey”. It’s just that. There is no hating myself, no holding a grudge, no banging my head on a wall in total despair. I’m on a pause to recover and be better, and just like any pause, once you press “play” again, everything will go back to normal, even if in my “gym-body” situation it’s like I press “rewind” a bit and now I have to re-live the beginning of my journey to progress further.

Another very important factor that changed my mindset is that I learned to love and be more caring towards myself. It’s so weird how I’ve always been able to do so for everyone, but never for myself. I could have never had a down moment, I have never allowed myself to be sick, to be tired, to be unwell, and to “cuddle” myself to feel better. No: I was a failure, I was stupid, I was weak, I was useless, I was proving to the world I was fighting against that I was not worthy, that I couldn’t make it etc… Even when I had my post-natal depression hell, and I was suicidal, I didn’t think “I need caring, I need help, it’s a medical condition and I must help myself rather that fight against myself”. There was no empathy or anything. I’m so glad things changed in a very positive way for me, because now I’m here, staring at myself in the mirror thinking “oh well, next challenge is now officially on, let’s see what I can do now…. And what I will be able to do once my shoulder heals!”.

You know how much energy you waste when you hate yourself? Uuuuh, let me tell you, an awful lot. And you know what you gain out of that? Nothing. Actually, you only lose. You lose self-esteem, you lose self-respect, you lose confidence, you lose yourself. Yeah, ok, you (just like me) may not be the exact replica of Charlize Theron or Jason Momoa, but who cares? It’s what you have inside you that will beautify the way you look outside. Ohhhh, let me tell you this, because this has been the bane of my life for years and years.

This is so true and yes, I was ugly to the bone too for a long while

You know that horrible, negative way of seeing the world and relationships like “I can’t believe that those ugly people there have beautiful relationships and me, meeeeeee (!!!!!) I am all alone, and nobody wants me (insert sad, grumpy face, and attitude like “I don’t get why the universe hates me so much”)”. I raise my hand in shame and include myself in the people who had that thought (more than once), and who have voiced it out loud too, only with the slight difference that I was sure I belonged with the “ugly people” and therefore why this miracle of “being loved” never happened to me? Boo-ooooh. You know why that “miracle” never happened? Because first, it is not a miracle and second, because I may have been average-looking on the outside, but I was such a negative, ugly person on the inside that, of course (duh!) I was not attracting positivity! Of course the “ugly people” were not at the receiving end of miracles, they were just smart, funny, loving, caring, beautiful people, no matter how they looked or I chose to look at them (with infinite jealousy), and they were shining so much of their positivity that they attracted exactly positive things and nothing less. It took me more years that

I’m happy to admit in realising this simple concept, and only after I experienced it myself I was able to see how truly important it is to focus first on what’s going on inside you, and then act on the outside, rather than doing the other way round. Because of this, I’m not too bothered about my body being a bit off at the moment, and being at the stage where I have to start again my quest on being “the Italian version of JLo”. I’m still the beautiful person I was two or three months ago, and with this positive, strong attitude, I’m sure I will quickly bring my body back to what I left it when I had to stop, and take it even further to achieve more and more. Negativity must not have a place in my life, I don’t want it to drag me down and cloud my head any longer. Besides, I LOVE a good challenge, I love when I test myself and I beat all my odds so…. Dear body, bring it on!!!

HERE’S TO NEW BEGINNINGS

For the first time ever, I’m really excited and looking forward to the new year that is about to start in few hours. It is an amazing feeling. I generally dreaded New Year’s Eve, and even more so everyone asking “what are your plans for the night?”. Well, my plans have always been feeling miserable, ensuring I saw the back of the previous, awful year and dreading the thought of starting another, equally (if not worse) horrible one. I used to go crazy trying to fit as many superstitions “bringer of good lucks” things or actions as possible, and then I would have spent my time being resentful and negative. I had a look at my Facebook entries for the previous years: djeeezuz the drama!

Not this time.

I’m very excited for tonight. I wrote down my menu, I planned my grocery shopping, I’ll wear my nice dress, my very sexy lingerie, and instead of being a miserable sod, I’ll use this night to thank 2018 profusely for all the things that happened, and welcome 2019 with open arms for all the things it will bring. There will be no stupid superstitions, only nice food, good laughter with my son, good Italian bubbly wine and positivity all around.

I would have never dreamed, six months ago, that I’d be this mentally at peace by now. Heck, I would have never dreamed I’d be seeing the end of this year, quite frankly. I’m grateful for all that happened, even though when it did, I felt like I was about to drown for good and I couldn’t see the point of keep fighting. I couldn’t see that I was fighting a lost cause, and that it was a useless, tiring exercise that was only bringing more frustrations in, rather than any good. I had to go through one final round of hell before I could begin to see the light of a new day.

Something my Law degree has taught me is that it is important to factually assess any situation, before trying to find solutions, so I want to take this moment before I’ll head to the kitchen and start cooking a shitload of food to think back at this year to get ready for what is to come. A kind of “last day of the year recap”, sort of speak. Brace yourself, it’s going to be a bit long!

This year I reached my personal breaking point.
Funny thing is, I’m so happy and grateful it happened, and that it was such a dramatic, “no going back” thing, otherwise, nothing would have ever changed for me.
I can see it clearly now that time has passed, that the emotional storm is over and I’m more detached to the events, how lucky I have been to ended up hitting my lowest of the low in such a hard and dramatic way.
I have been adding up misery on top of frustrations on top of mental issues for years and years; I have been bottling up my issues, taking on board problems after problems, mostly not even belonging or generated by myself. I have been keeping my mouth shut too many times “for the greater good”, I have been forcing myself to suppress my anger and my feelings to not look mean and hurt people (when they actually deserved a proper “FUCK OFF” shouted in their stupid faces), I have been draging my sorry self like a heavy corpse day after day after day, without even thinking “hold on a second, why am I doing this?”, I have been gladly suffering fools and enduring abuse left right and centre because I thought that was what my life was supposed to be and, since it could have been even worse, I should have better not moan and put up with it.

This massive baggage of negativity, resentment and frustration was what I carried with me in 2018. I started the year with my best friend, which seemed the perfect way to have a great new beginning, but my spirit was definitely not the most positive one. I desperately wanted to raise the middle finger at the year before, and welcome 2018 in the exact same way.
Well, I should have seen the writings on the wall straight away, because on the 2nd of January my then au pair, a Spanish girl my son and I loved dearly, texted me saying that she was not coming back as promised, goodbye and good luck. I had a feeling this was about to happen, since she took all her belongings from her bedroom before going home leaving only the gifts I gave her behind, but still, when reality hit me, it hurt like hell. In a mega rush, during festive times and with the re-opening of school fast approaching, I had to fish another one asap.
I felt luck was on my side when I found a new one quickly, another Spanish one from the same city as my previous one, and we seemed to be a perfect match: this time it was a guy, loving sports and studying to become a teacher. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long to discover he was so not what it seemed: he was totally uncapable of looking after my son, he raided my cupboards without a care in the world, left my house a complete, dirty mess every day and felt entitled to do as he pleased because “he was a teacher and he knew things”. After a month, I sent him packing back to Spain.

I was angry. I was incredibly angry. Forget the guy, I wasn’t necessarily angry at him, I was angry because it was my ex-husband’s fault I ended up having to have strangers in my house to take care for my son, because he has been so stupid beyond any human comprehension that he ended up breaking the law and get social services in my life, and yes, I was still pissed off at having social services breathing on my neck, making me paranoid at my every move in case they’d use it against me to take my son away because I married a useless dumbass. I was angry at my life, because I kept having problems after problems, and when something good happened, it felt like a tiny moment where I could get my head momentarily above water, breathe, then drown again in my misery.
The next au pair arrived a bit like Mary Poppins. I not only desperately wanted to love her, but I just as equally desperately wanted her to love me and my son. She seemed amazing in every way. I couldn’t believe my luck. I felt she had the magic power to solve my issues all at once. When the-guy-I-was-kind-of-seeing moved in with me as well, I thought I hit the jackpot big time: I had the perfect au pair, and the guy I was madly in love with who finally decided to take things seriously with me.

Yey.

Well… not exactly, no. The perfect au pair became quite less perfect. She had issues of her own, she was a restless soul who just couldn’t settle for more than few months in a row, so when a new adventure came in and my ex-husband kept not paying her on time (did I already mention how useless and unreliable he is?), out of the blue she told me she was leaving by the end of the week. Actually, she told my boyfriend first, and he broke the news to me before she did. I felt I was in a nightmare again. I was truly broken-hearted. I thought “we were in for the long run”, and I just couldn’t bear the thought of welcoming another person in my life again. Not in mine, and even less so in my son’s. To rub more salt to my very open wounds, we had terrible news at work: we officially entered restructuring mode, everyone went to work not knowing whether there’d be an office to go to the next day, the mood was truly awful, and I panicked at the thought of losing my precious job. The only thing that seemed to bring me happiness was love, but that was not meant to last either: problems started creeping up, I was too negative, too needy, too desperate to hold on to him because he was “my everything”, and he was just too in need to run away, too poisoned by his friend wanting to break us up, too negative in his own way, it was just too much and the situation, eventually, exploded like a nuclear bomb, bringing devastation and destroying everything.

I hated everything. My ex boyfriend for dumping me, betraying all the promises he made, ripping apart our dreams and happy life together; my ex husband, the root of all evils, for basically screwing up my life big time from the moment I married him and who kept screwing me up even when I got rid of him; all my au pairs for abandoning me even though I gave them all and some more; myself, for being in such a mental state that I couldn’t just fight another day.

I remember the day my then-ex boyfriend finally took his things and I saw the back of him. I felt like an extremely injured survivor of an apocalyptic scenario. I was hurt, my heart was bleeding, everything around me was destroyed, my body had enough, my mind had enough, and I finally broke down for good. That was the end of the person I was. There was no going back. There was no “I’ll keep dragging myself through another storm”, there was no “I’ll fight some more”. That was it.
The end.

Or so I thought.
Like a phoenix rising from her ashes, the end of “the old me” brought the birth of the new me.
Since I lost everything, including myself, I had nothing else to lose. My negative, miserable, depressed ways were no more, they died with my old self, and since they belonged to the past, I decided to give a go at doing the exact opposite: as hard as it was, in a time where I was supposed to feel desperate and sad beyond belief, I forced myself to smile.
I forced myself to appreciate me.
I forced myself to meditate on positive things, to let go of the hate and the negativity to welcome the exact opposite. I read millions of self-help books and actively put all the positive advices into practice, till I reached to point I was strong enough to get rid of my stupid “I’m a superwoman who does everything alone” attitude and I did the bravest, craziest, “I will never ever do that” thing that I dumbly dreaded to do till that point: I asked for help. Psychotherapy help. From that moment onwards, my life changed in ways I would have never, ever expected or dreamed.

I became confident.
I learned to love myself.
I went to the gym and worked hard to improve my body.
I developed a positive attitude.
I worked (and I’m still working) on my issues, no holds barred, embracing my flaws for what they are.
Most importantly, I learned to be kind to myself.
I learned to love and be loved, to appreciate and be appreciated, to stand my ground firmly when I’m right and to apologise and learn when I’m not.
The positive people in my life stayed, the negative ones either left or I made them leave.
The more progresses I made, the more positivity I received, and the more positivity I received, the further I progressed in my journey. There is still a lot of work to do, don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe for a second that “I’m done”, but yeah, it feels like I’m in a cosy mental place that can only get better if I can keep working hard. My work caught up and got back at being the usual, crazy environment as ever, I hired a fantastic baby sitter, an amazing Personal Trainer, I got to do some wonderful photoshoots and everything is heading in the right direction.

So, 2019. I cannot wait.
I don’t want any bullshit resolutions because, let’s be honest, nobody sticks with them ever including myself (I know, I’m that bad). What I want to do in the new year that is about to start is very simple: I want to keep working hard, physically and mentally. I want to face my surgery and any challenges that will come my way with a positive spirit, I want to bring with me all the lessons learned this year and use them to develop myself even more.
That’s it!

To all of you who have read my blog and supported me so far, I wish you all the best for this new year coming: may you accomplish all your goals, may your lives be filled with peace and serenity, and I hope we’ll keep walking together in this incredible journey of life for many years to come.

All the best!

Silvia

OOOPS I DID AGAIN, ANOTHER PHOTOSHOOT!

Last week I had a moment of craziness, one of those “fuck it, I’m so doing it” and I ended up at Dollhouse Photography studio in Birmingham for my third (THIRD!!!!) photoshoot.

What can I say? I love that place way too much, and if I could, I’d be there every day, even just to see what amazing things those ladies can do to all their clients. That place is like a beautiful, empowering dream: you get there looking plain and normal, wearing your comfy clothes (I always go there in something that’s just one tiny step from being my pyjama), and after couple of hours you become one smoking hot and super jaw-dropping babe, wearing the most luxurious lingerie and accessories, ready to pose like a professional model (because yes, they guide you into posing like one even if your only shoot experience is the pictures with your family and friends – told you they are amazing!!!).

The first time I went there, I took it as a challenge on myself: I was at the beginning of my journey, my therapy sessions started having breakthroughs in the way my brain was (badly) wired, I was more committed to my gym workouts (rather than just hanging around the gym pretending to do stuff) and I wanted to prove to myself that I was up to get out of my comfort, ugly zone and into a world I never even dared to dream. I will never forget the total panic I had when walking through the studio’s door: all I was thinking was “I’m so fucked – this is such a big mistake”. I wanted to run away. The “ugly, zero self-esteem” me wanted badly to hide. BADLY. I told myself “there you go, stupid idiot, you’ll see now how you’ll end up feeling even uglier and more stupid than before you walked through that door”.

Well, it didn’t take long before I discovered how massively wrong I was, and yes, I felt stupid as well: not for the reason I was predicting though, but because I was so so so so so so so succumbing to all my fears and negativity in thinking the way I was thinking.
Amie, the amazing PA (who I love dearly, not only because we share the same job, but also because she is the kindest, sweetest, most caring person ever), gave me the warmest welcome and made me feel sooooo at ease, like I was amongst friends I have always known. She made me feel extra welcome, so much than when she asked me why I decided to have this shoot, I didn’t shy away from telling her the truth: I came out of a very bad breakup, my life has been in tatters, I always thought I was ugly, I had zero self-esteem and yes, I have been suicidal too; this was a challenge for me to see the woman I was working hard to get out in the world, and I was there because I felt they were the only ones capable to make me see her for real. The makeup artist, Nav, listened carefully to what I had to say, and once we settled on what looks and poses we were going to do, she made me steer clear from the mirror till she finished her magic: she decided I needed a “shock” wake-up call there and then, rather than seeing each step of my transformation. Hand on heart, I can tell you, when I finally saw myself, I almost had a heart attack: it was me, it was me the woman I saw staring back at the mirror, only I was looking like a million-dollar Vegas babe. I just couldn’t believe my eyes.

Me trying outfits, feeling AbFab!

You see, I was scared I’d be looking like “fake”, you know, that kind of look where you say “yeah but that’s not me”. No, no, no. That was really me. That was “Yes, of course I’m smoking hot thanks to a very talented makeup artist, but if I wanted to, I could be like that every day with some efforts on my part”. Amie then came round with the most amazing lingerie sets, and wow…. All my worries, stupid self-doubts, low self-esteem, any issue I had just disappeared: I was feeling great in my skin and I was having such good fun. I felt the most gorgeous creature on Earth. Me. It was so unreal. I never felt like that, not even remotely, it was an amazing first and I was so happy it was happening whilst surrounded by such a supportive group of women. Shooting has been amazing, though I must say, holding a pose is not as easy as you can think!
I remember being in what I thought was a very awkward pose, and my body language (not to mention my face) must have screamed “da fuck am I doing” because Monica, the photographer, stopped everything and she showed me the way I looked through her camera’s screen: my jaw dropped. I could not believe that, with no editing or else, I looked that stunning, and that the pose I was desperately trying to hold whilst feeling dumb was making perfectly sense – I just couldn’t know because I’m no model and I don’t “see” what the photographer sees. Needless to say, from that moment onwards, I trusted her and didn’t question anything she was saying. When I left that day, I felt on top of the world, so much that I immediately booked another shoot! Before I left the studio, Monica said to me “now that “the magic” is over, and you go home, hold on to these feeling, because yes, the makeup will be washed away and the clothes can change, but the million dollar woman was you and will still be you, so don’t forget that”. It was something “small”, but it truly changed my life: during the struggles I faced between then and now, I always held on to the million dollar babe feeling, to that confident, fierce, beautiful woman, because that was the “me” I want to be every day from that moment onwards, not the ugly old sad me.

Oh, the day Chrissy (who founded Dollhouse and who’s the outstanding, incredibly talented photographer and picture editing queen) sent me the pictures… I cried. I cried for what it felt like an eternity. I was so, so happy. No, I was more than happy. I was over the moon. Not only the pictures were simply outstanding, but Chrissy and her fantastic team managed to portrait exactly what I needed to see: a mega pink and feminine babe on one side, and a super cool fierce queen on the other. They heard my most secret, hidden-in-my-head dreams and turned them into spectacular pictures. To this day, I look at them in total awe.

one of the pictures I’m most proud of!
Me before Jennifer did her magic….

The second photoshoot… that was something else entirely.
To begin with, I was way more relaxed: I knew what was about to happen, so I was not overwhelmed by the whole thing. I knew the team already (and became friend with Amie in the meantime) so I was more in the mindset of “going to see my friends and have a jolly got time” rather than “I’m going for a photoshoot”. And then… to be really, really honest… I killed myself at the gym every day for a month: my confidence lever was pretty high, I couldn’t wait to show how different I looked since the first shoot. Oh my, we had so much fun. I think I never laughed so much in my life. My body felt just ace. My mind, after all the therapy, was on a totally different planet. This time, I didn’t do it for a challenge: I did it as a celebration.

…and after Jennifer’s amazing makeup session!

A celebration of who I am, of all the things I’ve done, of the war I so hardly fought to be happy and healthy. Jennifer, the super amazing makeup artist, created three killer looks for me, each one fiercer and sexier than the previous one. Monica came up with some awesome and very daring poses whilst Amie made me wear the raciest lingerie sets she found in the magical Dollhouse wardrobe to turn me into three different goddesses. I haven’t seen the results yet, but I can tell you, it’s going to be a blast!!

with Jennifer few moments before the shoot happened – I love her so much!!!!

Last week? Well, that was a decision I took on the spot. Chrissy released a special Christmas promotion, I took it without even thinking too much about it and bam! Here I was again at Dollhouse! I don’t want to say anything about this shoot because… aaahhh it’s too exciting. Potentially, the best so far. All I can say is that, again, Jessica, Monica, Amie and Chrissy blew my mind, and I had the best day ever.

I know, I sound way over excited about this place and the team who runs it, but you know what? I have never met such a group of sweet, caring, kind and talented ladies. It’s so special what they do. It’s way, way more than just “taking a very fancy picture”. It’s even more than “I get to be a model for an hour or two”. I told them more than once that these shoots should be prescribed as a special anti-depressant and self-esteem therapy. Forget the clothes, the makeup, the editing: at the core of what they do, is empowering every woman, no matter how they look, their age, their past, their imperfections, their issues. There is no way you can feel anything but the most special human being living and breathing on this planet when you are in their caring hands. To me, what they did was like a very special therapy session in self-love and self-appreciation. Every time I am tired, and I feel a bit low, I just have to think of what happened to make me smile again. I just need a glimpse at one of my pictures to remember those awesome feelings, and suddenly my day goes to “meh…” to “no, come on, cheer up dude!!”. I think I’ve annoyed the shit out of everyone I know in telling them to go and have one shoot done. It changes you forever, in the most positive, incredibly magic way. You cannot possibly see yourself in the same way afterwards.
Besides, it also helps you understand A LOT of what you see in the media etc. I never look at pictures in the media with the same eyes, now that I know what it takes to make them that way: yes, everyone tells you that “it’s all photoshop, perfect lights and makeup” but until you are there, living it and see it with your eyes, you never really “understand” it.

Anyway, for the record, guess what is my after-surgery prize? That’s right: a fourth shoot! This time it will be a Pinup birthday celebration and I’m telling you, it doesn’t matter how hard and painful my recovery will be, I’ll do everything in my power to be ready to pose and celebrate my birthday (something I NEVER do, and maybe I’ll write about why in another entry) with my dearest amazing ladies. Chrissy, Amie, Monica, Jennifer, brace yourselves, cause hammer time is coming soon!!!

RUNNING OUT OF FU@%S IS MY CARDIO

Another week has gone, I haven’t been writing, I have been extra, extra busy at work and at home… aaaahhh!! I’m doing great though. Actually, I never felt this good. I dare to say it, I’m even happy at the way things are progressing. Unfortunately, though, being busy means little to zero time for the blog, and on top of that I have been in an out of the hospital a bit because of my shoulder. In this chaotic times there has been some stuff boiling up at work that made me think of how I changed, thanks to therapy and my own self-improvement. I basically went from “caring too much” to “caring ZERO”.

I think I said it already so many times that I used to be a rescuer. I thought that all I had to do in order to be loved an appreciated was to focus and spend all my energies, money and time on others. There was never a “me” moment, because if that chance happened, I would have used it to please someone else but myself. Imagine: 24/7, every single day of your life, working your ass off for others and feeling grateful for the opportunity of doing so.

Learning to curb this behaviour and attitude towards others has been a real struggle. You’d think “oh, I’ll just stop right now, cold turkey”, but when you are trying to terminate a behaviour that has been present throughout all your life, and that you most often trigger automatically because that is how you have always done, quitting it is as hard as quitting smoking or any other bad habit, with withdrawal symptoms in the form of pure guilt and fear: guilt of “not being as useful” and fear of “now nobody will ever love me because they will learn to not need me therefore I won’t have a purpose in their lives”.

I am facepalming myself as I write this tripe.

1335298036781_3013300I am doing so much better now, I have learned to say no (even though at times it feels like a violence against myself), to manage my guilt and to be less dependent on my need of being needed at all times, but the other face of this behavioural coin is that now…. I kind of not care that much. Actually, I don’t care anymore at all. Worse: I feel guilty of not feeling guilty about not giving a single fuck. My friend Marge always laughs when I say “my fucks bucket has now an extremely limited capacity and this thing is not worth any of those precious fucks that I could give”. Unfortunately (or, maybe, not unfortunately) it is what I feel at the moment. What do you expect anyway? When you’ve been used and abused for years, and you are done investing feelings and your emotional wellbeing only to be treated like scum, you raise your walls and make sure they won’t come down that easily.

I reached the limit of my self-imposed martyrdom a while ago and I’m so, so fed up. Now I don’t have time or care for (almost) anyone but me. I don’t chase, I don’t beg, I don’t ask. I don’t force my help down other people’s throat, I don’t do my all to be there for everyone at any time of the day or night, I don’t put myself down to make someone else feel better. The new rules are: if I don’t care, then I won’t force myself to pretend I do to please someone else, and I will act and only go the extra mile if I want to do it because I’m happy anyway, whether it is appreciated or not.

Another thing that I stopped doing is pandering to other people’s needs just because I don’t want to hurt / upset them and, most importantly, because I fear I will lose them should I dare to say things how they are. That has been outrageously difficult to implement, but once I ran out of fucks to give to everyone randomly, being able to just express my true feelings proved to be such a relief. To be clear, I’m not saying I’m offending people or being a bitch for the sake of it; simply, if I feel like something does not sit well with me, I won’t be putting up with it for the sake of “not rocking the boat”. Examples? I had a very long and deep chat with someone close to my heart that yes, as much as enjoy this person being in my life and all the things that are happening, if I’m just nothing but a cheap entertainment then I am not interested in investing my time, energies, and feelings. This is a deal-breaker and I’m ready to walk away should this be the case. It felt incredibly hard to “lay down the law”, but you know what? In this new chapter I only want people who want to be here because they love me, anyone else can go waste someone else’s time. Zero fucks given. I have no time, nor interest for those permanently offended, for the narcissists, for the soul-drainers, for anyone who’s only a taker and never a giver. I gave them my whole life, I got only negativity and pain in return, I think it’s about to time I move on.

You don’t approve what I do? I ran out of fucks, sorry.9c312a5ef7b685543862e1c9b9cc56ef0672819f8bf650e2fa4c307e6e115d17
You don’t like my opinion on the matter? See above.
You don’t like that I refuse to put up with your shit? Aaand again, see above.

I had a very interesting talk about this aspect with my therapist, because my surgeon made the dreaded call (7th of January… how to start my new year in style) and I was chatting about how this time, compared to when I had my elbow surgery, I’m actually pretty chilled and looking forward to it. I ran out of fucks to give about what anyone would think about the call I made, what impact has on me, my son, my life, whatever…. You should have seen me when the surgeon said “ok, so, your choice: you either put up with the pain for life or we do surgery but expect to be in pain and recovery is going to be long” and I yelled back at him “NO WAY I’M PUTTING UP WITH THIS BOOK ME IN!!!!”. Put up with what? You crazy man? Hell no! Anyway, I was telling my therapist how happy I was that, one way or another, I would have solved my problem and that I was looking forward to some blissful time at home, high as a kite post-op, to just be with myself. She asked “would you need help though? Have you thought about asking someone to help you? I suppose you won’t be able to move, or cook, or lift stuff…”. Suddenly, I felt extremely uncomfortable: what? someone around the house to help me? No no no no no no.

She started digging into my refusal of getting help… till the point when it came clear why I am so against that: I see help as the old me would, as a “put up a smile, pretend it’s ok, entertain who is pretending to help till you finally go back being alone”. We discussed in depth at why I see it that way, and why I just don’t accept honest, heartfelt help from those who really want to give it. Why my “ran out of fucks” attitude crumbles when faced with me being in need? Why do I feel the need to hide my true feelings, and why I can’t just let the helpers in and, instead of “entertaining them”, I just lower my guard, let them take care of me and just be the person who had surgery and needs resting? We both agreed that this surgery will be a pivotal moment in this journey: it will be a personal test for me to see how much progress I made, I will have to face few phobias (like taking medicines to cope with the pain) and to see if I indeed have “run out of fucks” about rescuing others when all I have to do is recovering. Guess what? I already made the (I must admit, painful) effort to ask for help on the day of the surgery. Oh boy, uttering those “would you please sleep with me the night I come home? I need help, and this would mean a lot to me” words took me a massive amount of stress and anxiety… and I’m trying hard not to regret saying them!!!!!

See? progress!!!!

I’M STILL “JENNY FROM THE BLOCK”

After surviving a very miserable week, last week I decided to do my best to snap out of that dark cloud and put myself back on track: clean eating, no cheating, the whole lot. I had a very gruelling gym session on Tuesday, the first proper bodybuilding class, it went down like a treat: I felt super strong and on top of the world, but boy oh boy, my legs hurt for three days solid. Work has been a madhouse, emails fired at me left, right and centre, I barely ate or slept to keep up with the drama, and it ended up on Friday night answering emails from A&E where I had to take my son because he went from “mummy I’m feeling great” to “40C temperature, rash on his face and shivering” in the space of an hour. The joy! I had amazing plans for the weekend: attending a very special wedding in my hometown, finally visiting my parents’ new place, stuffing myself with Italian food…. It ended up cleaning vomit for 2 days non-stop. Yet, despite being very upset at ending up being stuck at home, I feel good, like I carved a little happy corner in my mind and I’m wrapped in a warm duvet inside it.

You know what? I think the gym, and my amazing personal trainer Farrah, have been the best thing ever happened to me since going to psychotherapy. I had to break down, mentally and physically, to the point where I became just a clean, white piece of paper, before I could re-write who I want to be in this new chapter. Believe me, my old gym-hating self put up a massive fight, MASSIVE, in order to stop making me change. I have been on the verge to give up so many times. I am so grateful I never did – thank goodness for my resilience!

People have started to properly notice my change. What at the beginning seemed like a temporary gimmick, now it is a rather established “norm” and I’ve left few people a bit unsettled. The main moans I got are that I may be showing off a bit too much, and that I’m not “the metalhead I used to be”. Yes, I am not scared of showing off myself and my hard work (after all, as my Personal Trainer says, we are not putting the hard work in just to go back at hiding, right?). Yes, I may not be all black, metal band t-shirts and leather as I used to. Yes, I may be “in your face”, I don’t do hiding or holding back anymore, but I’m still me. You know, the tomboy woman who swears like a sailor when Formula 1 is on, who would rather roll in the mud than do shopping, who prefers going to the stadium than a club, who likes to be “one with the boys” and all that.

Jenny-From-The-Block-Video-jennifer-lopez-26797479-600-400
Don’t be fooled by the rocks that I’ve got, I’m still – I’m still Jenny from the Block

However, like a snake, I’m changing my skin, embracing my entire self, not just few bits and pieces because I struggle with the rest, and instead of basking in my own self-inflicted misery at my numerous flaws and issues, I am learning to enhance and celebrate my strengths and either embrace my issues or work hard to get rid of them. Not wearing my Slayer t-shirt anymore doesn’t automatically mean “I betrayed the metal oath”: I have a nice body and I rather squeeze in a bodycon, colourful dress now, but you bet your ass I’ll still be raising hell next week when I’ll be at Slayer’s gig with my friends. Again, I just changed my skin and I’m working hard on being the best person I’ve always wanted to be, but at the core “I’m still Jenny from the block”.

I’ve heard it multiple times lately: “wouldn’t it be better at being more like this – more like that – less exposed / like you were once”; then again, when I was exactly those things, I should have been something different anyway, and I was negative, and I should have been more other stuff. I’m breaking out of all the labels that I have put on myself, or that people put on me without me even asking, and this is very destabilising for some. Hey, I used to be a total rescuer and a people-pleaser: whatever made people happy, I’d do or be. No question asked. It didn’t go down well, did it? It backfired spectacularly, actually. I ended up just as lonely as I was, with all my unresolved issues still there and with the additional “I have been such a dumb idiot” feeling making everything worse.

Lesson learned here: do what you think it’s best for you. Listen to your inner voice. Stay true to yourself. By all means, improve, experiment, test, try, fail, re-try, give it a go, challenge yourself, but do it in your own terms. You know what is right for you, and if you feel that something is too much / too little, well, if it is right for you then so be it. The truth is, you will not be liked by anyone anyway, not matter how much you try, and anyone will have an opinion about who you are, what you do etc, but you are the only one living your life. My ex-boyfriend always used to say “when someone points the finger at you, he is pointing one at you but three back at himself”: I never ever listened to him (and he loved upsetting me by calling me every name under the sun to teach me a lesson on “listening to your inner voice only”, and thank you so much I finally learned it!) till only recently and it has been a life-changing moment.

16fbabd310762143e12c9418dcfa844aHow many people objected my daring photoshoot? A lot. What do I think of it? Best day of my life (that I will replicate in a week). What opinion matters? Mine. How many people are telling me (my mum included) that I am training to hard, too much, that I will become a manly muscle monster etc? Do I care? Not one single bit, especially when I look at myself in the mirror and I see the potential starting to show off, which makes me want to train even harder. My friendships, my relationships, who I keep in or out of my life, I do what I feel good doing, and if I’m disappointing people on the way, well, tough luck for them. Whoever truly appreciates me and my efforts will love me even more and stay because they want to, not because I’m going above and beyond the call of duty to make them stay. Whoever feels the new me doesn’t meet their standards, well… I wish them well, but our journey together ends now.

I WANT IT ALL AND I WANT IT NOW

(Queen fan till death!)

Do you want to change?
Do you want to see change happening in your life?
Do you want to quit your bad habit, whichever it is?
Do you want to improve your life, whatever that means to you?
You lucky person, you ended up in the right place, because in this blog entry I am going to tell you the most ground-breaking piece of information ever existed amongst us fellow human beings that will change your life forever, I promise. I will save you tons of money on self-help books, endless hours on YouTube watching motivational speakers, TED talks, life gurus and coaches, you name it, because I’ve done the homework for you mate. Aren’t I so kind?

One of the most annoying things I have heard so far, when people asks me about my ongoing journey, is the following “oh, I wish I had your determination to change, but”. Generally, I just shrug my shoulders and smile, but inside I know I’m dying to answer “oh, well, what do you expect me to do, extract determination like a serum from my body and inject it into you?”. I wish it would be possible, I’d be millionaire in the space of couple of weeks, but it’s not. However, I am about to reveal the unspoken secret that will leave me just as cashflow strapped as I am, but that hopefully will spare me hearing that sentence ever again.

Brace yourself.

You know what the real, simple, dead stupid secret to “making change happen” is? WANTING IT.
That’s it. You are one decision away from the change you want to make happening. One single decision, which sounds along the line of “I WANT IT”. No ifs, no buts, no maybes, not wishes.

I want it. Full stop.

There is you on one side, your goal on the other, and the only thing you have to do to get to your goal closer is wanting to reach it. Sounds to simple? I thought that too. Especially when I was with my arse on the floor crying in total misery because I got dumped, my life was shit, I looked like shit, my mental health was shit, my finances where shit (thank you boiler for making it even worse), my au pair left me fending for myself, it was fucking nightmare everywhere I looked. This is where I took the most important decision of my life: wanting to change. Enough of living a life I hate: it’s 2018, there are options out there, I was born in the lucky side of the world where I can access these information, the help, the knowledge etc. just by clicking on a search engine, there are endless possibilities to make my life better: enough crying, let’s start working, because I don’t want to be the person that a dumb asshole can shatter in a moment by dumping her; I don’t want to be the person struggling to cope with her mind; I don’t want to be the person who looks herself in the mirror thinking “my body is just shit”.

Ok, I have to admit, there is a catch. Ah-ha, you’d think, here is the “small print” part of this. Yes, there is. See, there is “wanting” and “wanting”. You may want something, you may dreaming about, I don’t know, Jennifer Lopez body like me, or quitting smoking (been there, done that), quitting bad habits (yep, got that one too), stop stalking and texting your ex (…cough cough…), having a more balanced mental health (thumbs up), getting a degree, changing your career, the list is endless. It’s all fine. The only obstacle between you and your goal is that nasty “BUT” in your head that stops you from acting. You have to want your object of desire so badly that you are ready to do anything it takes to get it, like your life depends on it. This is the only catch.

If you are not 100% fully committed, it won’t happen. You won’t be able to put up with the struggles that you’ll find along the line. You can tell yourself “Tomorrow I’m going to stop smoking / start dieting / going to the gym….” And you’ll see that that tomorrow never comes. Or maybe it will, but the next day you will be back at square one. You can tell yourself all the lies you want to hear, you can come up with a myriad of excuses to keep your ass solid on your comfy couch, you can pretend to have all impairments existing in the world, fine by me, I’ve been there and done that for all my life so far, but: don’t cry when things will not happen, when the scale will not show any weight loss, when you’ll still be puffing that cigarette, when your liver will burn at the sight of any degree celebration, or when you still haven’t saved a penny for your desired boob job (ehm ehm….), or when you’ll cry in bed staring at your ex-boyfriend new collection of whor…ehm…..

You have to want it that badly. Once you do finally want it, like you never wanted anything before, like whatever life throws at you it’s “fuck you life, I’m unstoppable”, like you go full speed ahead no matter what, guess what? change will happen. Guaranteed, 100%, would bet my house on it.

I have been the queen of half-arsed efforts all my life. It was sooooo easy to barely try, fail, moan, blame how life is so unfair, tell myself I was too stupid to achieve stuff etc. All around me people were busy doing and improving, getting nice jobs, doing this and that, and all I was able to do was sitting at the window, jealous as fuck, wishing a fairy godmother would come round, do some magic and ta-dah! Life sorted. I’m sorry to break this news to you (and myself, every time I wake up hoping to be reborn in JLo and instead finding I’m still myself), but it doesn’t work like that. All successful people, the real successful people, they are who they are because they worked hard. Yes, even the Kardashian: do you think it’s that easy being filmed 24/7, keeping the looks, the money, the “K-Empire” just by sitting on your arse? You wished! As much as they all make me cringe and vomit, you can’t deny that it takes work to keep staying in the limelight, plotting the next big scandal, arranging the next paparazzi shot and earning money.

You won’t become a musician just because you have a bit of talent if you don’t put the hard work in. You won’t win an Olympic game if you don’t train every single day as hard as you can. You won’t lose weight if you are not prepared to follow a proper diet, tailored to you by a proper medical expert dietician, and throw some exercise in the mix (and maybe some psychological support, because let’s face it, it’s not easy at all). Every time a “but” comes in your mind, this is where the temptation to fuck it all up and be back at not changing comes: this is when you can either choose to overcome that “but” in your head, or to succumb to it. I always chose to succumb up till June this year, where I was so low, so beaten up, sad, shit, disaster all around that I decided it was time to be the phoenix who rises from her ashes, rather than just be ashes.

I read somewhere on Facebook a woman claiming, “I’m sick and tired of hearing people saying “you have to want to change, like you could snap out of mental illnesses or else just because you want to”. Part of me agrees with the sentiment, naturally: of course, you can’t just tell yourself “I want to not be depressed” and boom! You are dancing in the streets celebrating your newly-found glorious mental health. Of course I am not talking about serious illnesses which require medical expertise and treatments (if only people could beat cancer just by wanting it, wouldn’t that be great?). Of course, I ain’t that dumb to think “the power of the mind conquers it all”. And yet again, I also don’t agree with what that woman said. The fact that your situation is difficult doesn’t mean that your only option is to just be passive to whatever is happening to you. You can help yourself to improve your situation, whatever that may be, if you really, really want to, and there are amazing examples out there (Katie Piper anyone? I mean, if she is not inspirational, who else can it be! Nobel prize winner Malala Yousafzai? Shot in the head, left for dead, now studying at Oxford?). Of course it is not easy, but you face struggles with a different mindset when you really, really want something, rather than when you decide you are defeated even before you begin.

Mel Robbins, a very amazing motivational speaker, yesterday put a post on Instagram saying “It’s not that you can’t, it’s just that you don’t”, suggesting that you should give a go and swap your “I can’t” with “ I don’t” every time you face something – and see how it sting. Her point (which I fully agree with) is “Taking action is a choice… and so is telling yourself you can’t”. So yes, if you are currently reading this thinking “just bullshit, I wish I could… but”, try to overcome that “but” and see what happens.

You won’t be disappointed.

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I believe in you. And today, I want to remind you— that you CAN do this. You can lose the weight. You can build that business. You can finish school. You can survive this breakup. You can save enough money for that bucket list trip. You can fall in love again. You can do whatever you are willing to work for. And here's the deal, I know you "know" what I'm saying is as true as a compass pointing north. So today, try this little trick to make yourself "do" it. – Today, when you start saying “I can’t” swap in “I don’t” and see how that feels when you admit the truth to your self. I'll tell you how it feels— it stings. Taking action is a choice… and so is telling yourself you can't. I'm betting that if you say "don't" it will be a slap of reality. And, that sting you feel might snap out of the "can't" excuse and jolt you forward into action. Today, call yourself out – me know if you’re going to take this challenge and comment #ICAN

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