My Affair with Italy

Italy. I think everyone wants to see Italy. If they don’t they’re not being honest, or they haven’t connected to that part of them that wants to experience beauty in physical, grandeur expressions. If even then they don’t want to come see Italy, well let me share with you my experience and see if you’d change your mind about it…

I was given the opportunity to visit Italy when I was in my third year of college, where I would study abroad for a semester. I might add I almost wasn’t able to go because I hadn’t taken the language requirement before leaving, and my online course was not being completed because the textbook wasn’t arriving (to Taiwan) and a huge mess occurred about three days before my flight where I had to tell the housing in my school that I might have to return to campus. It had overall been a very messy period of my life in general. I knew I had to stop doing those things that I kept doing (partying, spending time with friends judging and gossiping, having closet relationships that were not even relationships..) but I had no idea how. Either way, I knew I wanted to go to Italy, and the opportunity was in jeopardy.

But armed with my metaphysical studies, I pulled out the book Excuse Me Your Life is Waiting, and went to the chapter on Ye Gads, I’m Feeling! And I poured myself into the knowing that I would see the Duomo of Milan in utter awe and see Italy for around 45 minutes before bedtime..and when I woke up the next day I got my desire! This was my first moment of true gratitude for my opportunity to be in Italy.

Duomo

Visiting Duomo

 

(By the way, when I actually saw the Duomo of Milano for the first time, I literally gasped out of sheer awe of such grandiose beauty)

I remember the moment I landed in Italy..I flew from Taipei to Hong Kong, then Hong Kong to Milan Malpensa. I remember seeing the lush green trees and fields from above, and the uniform red, red

red rooftops and lush green

red rooftops and lush green

rooftops that I had only dreamed of seeing before. It wasn’t that it was a big deal to visit Italy…but I was actually going to LIVE there for THREE MONTHS and I would get to know something I was never even consciously aware existed.

Soon my excitement became tinted with anxiety, as I felt truly like a foreigner for the first time and I didn’t know anything about Italy. I didn’t know when to say Ciao or when to say Salve or Buongiorno. I didn’t know what Italy was, and being someone who always tried to do what everyone else wanted of me, it was pretty nerve-wracking at the beginning!

first meal

first meal I ordered in Italy

I remember my first meal in Italy. I was still living at the hotel because I had a day before I moved into my host family’s house. I was walking along the streets of Milan, feeling very self conscious, but in speechless awe at the architecture around me – I really felt like I was in a movie set. I felt that when I visited New York, but this was on a completely different, heightened level, as every building had incredible sculptures on the balconies and the petunias overflowing from the windows just looked like a dream to me..or at least a movie set! So here I was looking for something to eat – I actually spent about three hours walking around until around 2pm because I felt way too self-conscious to walk into a restaurant and order something! I felt so fish-out-of-water and I had never experienced that before! I still had a lot of investment in what others thought of me, and keeping up with it was TIRING! I eventually chose some place because I knew I had to eat. I ordered, ate, then when it was time to pay,I had an unfortunate realization: AM I SUPPOSED TO TIP? I felt absolutely awkward. If I tip, I don’t like tipping in coins. Yet the biggest bill I had was 10 euros – for a 8 euro meal. I just couldn’t figure out what to do, I remember looking at the waiters and then looking away thinking “Oh crap.” I wish I could access my internet but I had no phone or wifi. I ended up leaving without tipping, then raced to my hotel room to get wifi access and breathed a HUGE sigh of relief that Italy is not a tipping country. PHEW. Meal #1, DONE!

view from outside my window in Italy

Outside my window

 

Italian gma

my Italian grandmother and sister cutting a homemade apple pie

As I mentioned before, I knew I had to stop behaviours that didn’t serve me, and I thought at least in the meantime while I still care about what others think of me, I will not do the things I can control that I know I desire to end. Those things included hanging out with people just to hang out with people, drinking, partying, and I didn’t really have anyone to hook up with so that settled itself, but I also did not go out to seek that anymore. Instead, I spent a lot of time with my host family, just being part of an Italian family. I had a host brother and two host sisters, all younger than me, a host dad (who is the most amazing cook), host mom, and her mother so a host

Making gnocchi from scratch with my Italian grandmother

Making gnocchi from scratch with my Italian grandmother

grandmother who came every week. I remember I approached living with them in a state of awe as well – everything they said and did was just so amazing to me. It was so different from the way my family did things, and I felt enormous privilege to watch and be part of the experience. I also watched Italian movies with them and this really strengthened (along with listening to them talk) my learning Italian.

Along with this, in my second year of college, I drank a lot of alcohol. And I mean a LOT. And this, along with not exercising, made me gain a significant amount of weight. I was never fat, but it was clear that I had gained weight, and in Taiwan I was considered very fat (as everyone there is so skinny), and I had been told I was fat all the time it drove me crazy. I was on this personal development membership site and I had wrote to the author for help with how my family was treating me. He gave me mind tips, but he also suggested if I really have a weight issue, I should look into

started juicing in Italy

started juicing in Italy

Slim4Life by Jason Vale. So I had started reading that in Taipei, and when I arrived in Italy, with all the free time I had (just classes and then going home to wonderful dinner) I calmly finished reading everything. Again, without distractions, once I finished the book I simply went out to the electrodomestics store and purchased a small juicer for 45 euros, and started incorporating juicing into my life for the first time. Some days I would just have juice until dinner, and dinner was always fresh made by scratch and I would be in love. But I really started juicing every single day just like that.

 

Also in my second year of college, I had some crazy backend girlfriend relationship experiences. I won’t go into detail here, but let’s just say they were a bit insane, in the no-tomorrows way (naw come on I was always safe, the whole idea of it was just crazy). I never got to be with anyone who really appreciated me aside from shallow fancies of my no-guarantees exuberance that I adopted when a boy broke up with me from the only relationship I had (I was not in relationships with any other guys I was with). While I was in Milan, I met some cute boys I never got with, just talked to, but I would dream of going to places like Venice with a lover, someone with whom I could hold hands (the ex boyfriend never let me) and croon about how beautiful Italy was. My whole life experience was always shaped by my relationships, and the reason for letting go of the cool, popular front I had built up in college was from a painful experience demonstrating to me that it didn’t give me the relationship I wanted.

Venice

mask from Venice where they celebrate Carnevale

 

On one occasion, I went with a quiet friend to Venice. While we were eating lunch, a waiter, not ours, came up to us and said “Dimmi.” And I was like, “Well we were waiting for the bill if that helps.” He started asking me where I was from and why we were in Venice, and he said to my friend, “Sorry I’m coming in like this, but I really have to at least try to ask her out, you understand I’m hoping.” I was absolutely flattered and embarrassed at the same time, as he was older than me (he was 32 if I recall properly), and coming from being backend girlfriends and never even being asked out on a date, I was absolutely flattered. He took us to Piazza San Marco and showed us around, where he then left us, telling me that he would love to see me again but if I’m here with my friend then I’m here with my friend. I told him I appreciated him showing us around and thanked him for his time. Before leaving Venice, I bought a magnet with the street sign that said “Rialto,” which was where I met him, to remember our interaction. It wasn’t so much about a man talking to me that I felt so in awe for, but that I had stayed open enough to enjoy the interaction even if my mind wanted nothing to do with it really (random older Italian waiter guy hitting on me? Please!) (No, no, no, I stayed in “Maybe” energy, which was who I really am).

Anyways, on normal days, I would go to class every day, learn Italian (I absolutely loved learning Italian), then start my journey home on the bus and tram, but sometimes I would walk. I would just meander aimlessly so that I could see the city. I did this on the weekends too. As long as I could find a tram that went to the Duomo (the central cathedral by the way), there was a tram that had a stop there that would take me back to the neighborhood my family lived. So I just meandered, sometimes with my jaw wide open at what I would find hidden in the city – incredible statutes, a facade of a building that looked like it would be featured in a museum, hidden churches filled with incredible artwork (paintings, architecture, etc), the people on the street trying to sell me touristy things…I was falling in love with Milan by looking for these things actively every day.

I kept hanging around outside in the city, sometimes stopping in stores, sometimes hanging out in a cafe or the [one] bagel store reading more of my personal development or listening to it on the way to places. I’ve lived in a city all my life so I knew how to adapt easily to city life. I was also able to do all the things I had been trying in personal development for a while. I kept a gratitude journal in a way that really meant something to me, I exercised a bit every morning, I did yoga, I meditated, I kept applying programs I had already and kept reading, listening to books, and I would post on the personal development groups and interact with people there. It was fantastic – no distractions, no mind mess. No friends, no parties, no country hopping hustle-traveling.

The mug I manifested

The mug I manifested as a gift from my host mother!

These personal development things I applied just started to work without effort on my part. I didn’t have to remind myself to do any of these things, I just did them. They became part of my life. I soon realized I had stopped caring what anyone thought of me because I simply could not even guess. Like I wrote in a previous blogpost, I did things like manifested a mug I was looking for. These systems started to work when I applied them in a certain way. I was pretty surprised to be honest, as I had never seen such clear evidence of the laws of the universe in play until I had cleaned up my own thoughts.

I eventually reached a point where my mind was pretty clear, and I came across a book by Kamal Ravikant called Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It. And I applied what he wrote, and it worked like he said it would. It worked again with little effort on my part, because I already had been so committed, ready to shed the illusions and following through. From the first thought in the morning to the last thought at night was “I love myself” for about two weeks straight.

Then came the super-magic on top of the magic that oh my gosh I had just fallen in love with myself and wow I didn’t even know it was possible. I had started reading Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch for the first time, and for the first time in my life, I felt like I really wasn’t alone. I had said things just like God did to Neale about fundamentalist Christianity and relationships. I finally felt like what was happening was starting to make sense in my life and felt the presence of something that had been with me the whole time. I bought a piglet in the Disney store at San Babila to remember that someone loved me (this was before I applied Love Yourself).

my love - pimpi!

my love – pimpi!

Then I listened to a recording Neale did (after my love yourself experience), and all the pieces came together for the first time. I felt deep, deep gratitude for every experience in my life – not just the ones that pushed me to change, but the ones that I was absolutely certain should not ever be a part of anyone’s life. I realized that I had been it all the time, I didn’t need to do anything to be loved, unlike I had thought before. I didn’t need to do anything to gain anyone’s approval, I already had the greatest approval of all – being me. I was in a space of pure clarity for another few weeks – even while I was in class or babysitting kids, or sometimes I would just not even go to class..I would sit on the park benches in the middle of day when no one was there, and feel the power of what Neale was saying and feel deep inside me “I really am not alone, nothing has ever gone wrong, and I am already that which I seek to be.” I was having a truly revealing experience, much like the ones people go through in their near death experience. It was a pure merging with love which I have described countless times in my blogposts and with others.

So what happened next?

Well. I met a guy. Wait I really met a guy. He was introduced to me by my host family actually, and he was absolutely gorgeous. He looked literally like an angel and the first moment I saw him my heart floated out of my chest I swear. I felt like I had wings on my heart and they didn’t want to sit still. Well by this time I had remembered who I was and loved myself fully and completely, yet I had never really experienced it. I experienced the opposite of it and was grateful for that, but I hadn’t experienced it yet. I thought of the ways I might approach this guy, and I realized one unfortunate thing: I only knew how to get a guy in my bed, I didn’t know how to inspire a guy to be my lover.

So with relative ease (which was not the case in the past – in the past if I saw some guy I went bananas for I would cling onto him until he couldn’t stand it and shook me off), I just said to myself, “Well, let’s go practice how to be me then!” After all, you can’t just read a book to learn how to play basketball, you have to go out there and touch the ball and do it. So that’s what I did. I went online, set up a profile, and practiced being completely myself. I messaged over 150 guys and kept going. My ONLY intention with this exercise was to practice being completely, femininely myself (instead of masculinely, like I used to approach guys). And I did – no matter what it was, a real date or just being on chat. I would share when I felt uncomfortable or when I felt shy, or when I really didn’t want to continue talking altogether. Everything was all about being, not trying to get anywhere with any of these guys. I stayed completely open to whatever would show up for me so that I could work through these things, instead of push them and run away in embarrassment or shame. And I bravely did a lot of it in Italian! (The other thing was I learned most conversational Italian in about three months time – another joy for me!)

I truly did not intend to stay with any of the guys I met, but I ended up in a very long-term committed engagement with one of them that lasted four years. I kept telling myself this was just for practice, and I am appreciative of ALL of the guys who talk to me because they give me an opportunity to practice being myself.

him taking me to my first live soccer (I mean football) match - Go Inter!

him taking me to my first live soccer (I mean football) match – Go Inter!

And to this day I am still remembering who I am in situations I have never encountered, practicing more and more quantities and ways of being myself. It really never stops – the expansion. What has stopped is the behaviours I described in the beginning of this post I knew I had to let go of..those I have let go of and moved into a much more beautiful expression of myself that I could never have planned out.

But anyways…that was my secret affair with Italy..and I haven’t stopped yet, and I will never stop. I am grateful for the opportunity to share this experience with you, and invite you to look at ways in which you may move into a more authentic expression of who you really are, because the experiences that come with that are nothing short of incredibly absolutely breathtakingly amazing.

xxx,

Catt

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Gratitude

“The beautiful thing about the mind is that we can always change it.” – Lisa Guyman

It has been a pretty long time since I’ve posted, and really because I didn’t really feel there was anything to post for a while. I found myself wondering about what I would post if I were to post, and I come back to gratitude. I feel like it’s really all you ever really need to figure it out, as most anything I write about is related to gratitude in some way.

I used to do gratitude in an extremely egotistical way. Not because I was a nasty person or anything, I was just insecure about myself and felt that this was how to gain confidence. I would write things that I was grateful for that were very judgmental and hinged on the fact that others did not have the same privileges and advantages as I did. Which, I suppose, is a step up from complaining about everything. I also didn’t really do it so consistently. Sometimes whenever I sat down to ‘do gratitude’ it was kind of like a gratitude purge – just get it all out because everything is points. (I started doing gratitude after hearing it being touted by so many personal development programs as the way to bring more in your life and manifest your desires, and ooo boy did I want to bring more STUFF in my life, so I better get going on this gratitude stuff!)

Of course that never lasts. For me it lasted a little less than two months before the blowing event hit the fan, then I had to reconstitute the shattered little parts of me together again. But during that time, it was a constant stress and struggle of how to get the best be the best do the best best best best best best..all just based on how far I could see. I thought that I would have to get the best in the environment I’m in now, then jump to the next group and get the best in that, then jump to the next group until I got to the top. Well I’m genuinely grateful things don’t work out that way!

I started doing a gratitude journal seriously for the first time when I arrived in Milan two years ago. I had been trying to do it for a while, but something magical about being in Milan helped me that time. It wasn’t just because I was in Milan. A large part of it was that, but in actuality, it was how much I had yearned, really yearned, from a young age to be in Europe and see Europe that it instantly shifted me into a more genuine grateful attitude. The other thing was I had no distractions. I didn’t feel pressure in any of the ways I used to – no friends/social pressure, no family pressure. I was in a different place and living with a different family, making it a lot easier for me to focus on gratitude and appreciation. Of course, I could have chosen the route to attempt to keep up with the new social group obsessively and complain about the family I was living with, but thanks to the blowing event that hit the fan, I didn’t take that path.

The gratitude journal entries I did during that time still inspire me when I read them. I got a little wacky and out there, but all for fun. I was also using it as an affirmation and I gave thanks for a lot of things that had not yet come to pass, notably a romantic relationship based on my own self-love and feminine energy.

Here is an example of an entry I had:

Screen shot 2014-10-25 at 12.51.38 PM

As you can see, even though that day I wasn’t having the best day and apparently had a lot of feelings of neediness, I was practicing an art – an art of self-love, an art of appreciating who and where I am no matter where that may be. Because we’re never going to get it done, so at any given point there can be a comparison where in some way it may seem like something negative. But that doesn’t mean it is, and it definitely doesn’t mean the mind needs to get caught onto it. I love the quote from Kamal Ravikant’s book Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It, where he says something along the lines of “It’s your mind. You can do whatever you want with it.”

In my experience, gratitude is the first step in improving your life, getting into spirituality, upgrading your attitude, or whatever positive change it is you seek to create. Think about it – can anything be positive if you’re not grateful for it? The thing about gratitude is it’s really like magic – better things start happening to you. And that’s not because the same crap happens to you and you learn to see it in a different way. That’s part of it, but it’s more of the ripple effect of where you choose to put your attention. There are crappy things you can put your attention on and there are wonderful things you can put your attention on. When you put your attention on the wonderful things, yes you start seeing the crappy things in a better light, but more wonderful things start moving towards you. It’s magic!

It may take a while, but if you’re in the ready space to do it, you get the feeling, you invite it in daily…I guarantee you that it will change you and your life forever.

Why not start a gratitude journal yourself today?

 

Grateful for you,

Catt

The Grass is Always Greener..Where You Water It!

I’ve talked to a lot of people in the past few years I’ve been traveling a lot. No matter where I go, someone is jealous about somewhere I’ve been. It’s true – travel has been a big part of my life. And not just travel, I’ve lived in some of these amazing places for periods of time. It’s actually kind of funny for me because it’s not a big deal for me to travel and “see the world,” but I always find myself in amazing places people dream of traveling to.

tuscanycatherinetung.com

Tuscan vineyard

Taipei city at night

Taipei city at night

I grew up in Taiwan, but always identified myself as more of an American when I was growing up, and wished I lived in the US instead. The worst part was that I read Seventeen magazine, and all those products and outfits that made the girls so pretty were…only available in North America. I’d try to find a replacement products, but smoothing serum and 3-way colour smear was just not a thing in Taiwan at the time. I was a typical sucker for marketing and what’s worse (or probably good when I look back) was that everything was 10,000 kilometres away from me.

lubientancatherinetung.com

street food, the best food 🙂

calicatherinetung.com

Southern California

jiufencatherinetung.com

Jiu Fen in Taiwan

Even though I’ve weaned off those needs, I still find myself wishing I had certain things that aren’t available where I am, no matter where I am. When I am in Taiwan, like I said, shopping for products and outfits isn’t so easy, nor are accessories that are popular in the US, like bose headsets or whatever. When I am in the US, I wish I had the food and the public transportation in Taiwan and Italy, and little products in Taiwan that make things so wonderful, like authentic teas and can openers that make sense. And I can’t forget how cheap and available everything at the computer market in Taiwan is, and how much easier that makes my life. Cooking also isn’t as exciting in the US as it is in Italy; I’m not sure why but pasta I cook always tastes better in Italy, even when I bring it from Italy to the US. When I’m in Italy, I find that the fresh produce selection for my juicing and blending is not as wide and varied as in the US or in Taiwan, and there’s no Trader Joe’s, the saddest part about anywhere that doesn’t have Trader Joe’s.

venicecatherinetung.com

I love Italian balconies

taiwanesefoodwatermarked

delicious street foods from Taiwan

aostacatherinetung.com

Aosta valley in Italy

The grass seems always greener on the other side because when we’re on this side, it’s our vantage point and our perspective. But as I’ve experienced, the grass is really never greener on the other side. Maybe in some ways it can be, and it’s definitely a personal preference thing, but it’s never actually greener. What’s greener is what you water.

the-grass-is-always-greener

When I was in Italy the first time, I didn’t notice that I didn’t have kale and hearts of romaine lettuce. I was noticing that the buildings were the most gigantic gorgeous structures I’ve seen in my entire life! And the food – the food! I’d always been spoiled with amazingly good food in Taiwan, but this was the best food from a totally different cuisine that was just to live for. I loved hearing Italian. It was music to my ears, and the best part was I couldn’t understand it so I couldn’t understand whether someone was complaining and stomping on beautiful Italian grass or not – it all sounded great to me!

The only time I really changed and really felt true pure joy in my life wasn’t from moving to another perfect place and then bam everything fell in place for me. It was the first time I was in Italy, where I was constantly watering and my grass was growing so green, so lush, so abundantly wonderful. I finally “got” the Law of Attraction and experienced it positively firsthand. Everything I was thinking and desiring was coming into my reality in a matter of minutes, and I remember the exhilaration of being so in tune with what the world was offering me because I had (semi-)consciously and deliberately tuned myself to that which I love and appreciate. The grass is always greener where you water it, I know it to be true from my personal experience. And what is the water? I think it’s best described as appreciation, which I achieved through the conscious practice of gratitude. It’s definitely a concept that is worth thinking about and that changed my life, because it’s never greener on the other side – only where you decide to water it. My wish is for me and everyone else to experience the appreciation we innately have of the world and experience what magic that can do for our lives, and that everyone may see how much there really is out there to explore and experience.

Happy Watering,

Catt xxx

The First “Thing” I Consciously But “Undeliberately” Manifested

I’m hoping at this point most people are familiar with The Law of Attraction, but on a day to day basis I actually still run into tons of people who don’t know it never heard of it “the what?”..most people, when I explain it to them, accept it. For me I was like whaaat? But even people who accept it don’t really accept it if they’re not living it. So crash course, Law of Attraction is like attracts like; that which is like itself is drawn unto itself, birds of a feather flock together, the better it gets the better it gets…”Thoughts that are vibrationally similar to one another are drawn magnetically to one another through the powerful Law of Attraction” (Hicks Loc 1793). This law was recently popularized (well…6-8 years ago recent) by the movie “The Secret” produced by Rhonda Byrne and it was sold to look like this was some magic wand we use to manipulate the universe to give us the material objects we want, which is what many people tried and “failed” and thus concluded that there is no such thing. Well, there is, it’s a matter of awareness..but that’s for another day. I wanted to share the first thing I personally manifested – it was not deliberate but it was the first thing I was very aware of and the first conscious “proof” I had of the Law of Attraction from manifesting a material object.

I had just arrived in Italy and I was roaming around Milan on the first day near Naviglio and I saw this store that was closed with mugs that had carp on them, and then a quote in Italian. I understood zero Italian so I didn’t know what the quote said. It looked very zen and pretty, and from that day I decided I wanted to have a mug that had an Italian quote on it, and I wanted to be able to understand it when I got it without using google translate.

Every day after classes I would roam around Milan nearby for at least half an hour. And during this time I would be reminded that I was looking for a mug with a special quote in Italian on it, but I was never attached to finding it right away – there were mugs I could use and I knew that I had three months to find the mug so it was never a pressing issue. But I did spend time thinking about it every day, and I had no resistance on not finding it, nor did I think any limiting thoughts about it.

Literally two weeks after my first thought about the mug when I was roaming around Naviglio that first day, my manifestation showed up as a gift from my host mother. She had done a huge grocery shopping trip and picked me up a buongiorno mug with a quote from Bob Marley on it in Italian, and she said when she saw it she immediately thought of me and bought it for me. I didn’t make the
connection until the next day where I was roaming around after lessons and realized I had received what I was looking for! I was so grateful and happy. It was just a mug but I had never consciously created something in this way before..it was also quite specific so it wasn’t something like “I want to manifest a leaf on the sidewalk,” so I knew for sure as proof that it was something I consciously created.
Catts buongiorno mug

Fantastically, things started happening and manifesting more and more after that..my gratitude and appreciation for Life soared and things were manifesting on demand. That was when I had a very “clean” mind..but really it all starts somewhere.

I encourage people who have never done this kind of stuff before to set an intention to manifest something small like I did that you won’t be attached to (don’t be attached to PROVING the Law of Attraction either). Some people are amazing with it and get it right away. Some people will take a while longer or find inspiration in another post they read or a book…but it’s great to start!

Some guidelines, though they are not necessary, that made this manifestation happen with ease:

  1. I had a very specific “thing” I wanted to manifest and intended it (let the desire out into the ethers!)
  2. I had no resistance to receiving it – I knew I would get it I did not think it would be impossible or anything like that
  3. Every day some of the air time my thoughts had were spent on it because I walked around a lot
  4. I had zero attachment to how it would show up or when it would show up
  5. I had a solid knowing it would show up – certainty of the outcome

Happy Manifesting!
– Catt xxx

References
Abraham, Esther Hicks, and Jerry Hicks. The Law of Attraction: The Basics of the Teachings of Abraham. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, 2006. Print.