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

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

It’s Summer! Time for Fresh Books and Reading Lists!

It’s that time of the year again – summer. Which means people are out enjoying time on the beach and warmer weather to be outside..which means more reading? 🙂 I’d like to think so. I always had to force myself to read no matter what genre, until I discovered personal development (I know). The other kinds of books I loved were those “child/young adult psychology” books that have a fictional story but from the perspective of a very real and relatable person (which would pertain specifically to me I suppose, but I loved reading from all different characters’ perspectives). I wanted to share some of my summer reading books that I completely have not started yet (I have at least 30 I’m in the middle of), and then recommend a few of my top picks if anyone was interested in some books that I loved!

Catt’s Summer Reading List

  1. The Astonishing Power of Emotions (Esther and Jerry Hicks)
    I just love the books of Abraham, Esther, and Jerry. They’re always great reminders and I’ve been reading loads of their books. While they’re all a little similar, the repetition is really helpful for me. I’m really looking forward to solidifying my knowing by reading this book and getting in tune with my emotions!
  2. Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus (John Gray)
    It’s pretty old but it’s a classic isn’t it? I’m also going to be reading David Deida which I have also personally enjoyed immensely, but I’m in the middle of a bunch of those. Relationships take maintenance, but it should be enjoyable maintenance. I’m putting this one in my list of books because I really want to be better at what I know I can do.
  3. Sara Book 2: Solomon’s Fine Featherless Friends (Esther and Jerry Hicks)
    I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while since I enjoyed the first book so much! I loved the first book, so I’m curious to see what the second book is going to be talking about!
  4. Juice Yourself Slim (Jason Vale)
    Since I’ve been juicing for almost two years now, I want to get into this book as well which includes some soups! No time to try making soups like when I have a kitchen in Italy 🙂 I also want to have a fresh perspective on juicing again, which I’m hoping this book will do. It’s also so pretty so I’m excited to read it!
  5. Thoughts Without Cigarettes (Oscar Hijuelos)
    A graduation gift from one of my fondest friends during my college career. I think I’m going to enjoy this one I’m really excited!

 

Catt’s Top Picks

  1. Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It (Kamal Ravikant)
    Can’t do anything without this. I feel disappointed when I see so many of those 1-star comments on amazon because it meant they didn’t get the amazing message of this fantastic book. It was everything I had been asking for. I was in therapy for months asking and checking in on how I could love myself. I would say three to four months later I came across this book and finally made it happen for the first time in this life consciously. I have to be honest it’s been hard to repeat for me recently but I know I’ll be ready when I’m ready. When you’re ready to love yourself and you’ve truly been asking for the sake of your true heart’s desire, this book will break all the barriers. I’ve read this book at least six times (it’s very short).
  2. Sara Book 1: Sara Learns the Secret About the Law of Attraction (Esther and Jerry Hicks)
    I laughed and cried and felt sooo connected when I read this fantastic book. It was written in the kind of child-psychology fiction books I discussed before but it actually teaches you the principles of the Law of Attraction. I love this book so much and hold it very dear to me. It is a beautifully written book and it answered my questions about clarifying the Law of Attraction. I read this book twice already and don’t mind to read it again!
  3. Slim4Life: Freedom From the Food Trap (Jason Vale)
    This book is also on my summer reading list since I only read it once! It is an amazing book, you’ll never look at food the same way again, and it’s not weird or hokey or try this new diet weird crap. It’s really logical, though not all of the arguments are sound (Jason sometimes comes up with some weird arguments and I can’t remember the ones from this book, but Jason, the vegan large land animal argument is not good enough take it out of 5lbs in 5days!), they make you realize that the justification we’ve been having in our heads about food and exercise are certainly not sound either. It’s a whole new approach to looking at food and it changed me forever. It got me serious about juicing! I have to read it again though since I’ve been eating a lot of things I don’t want recently but have been craving. I read this book once only, but I remember how much I enjoyed it.
  4. Conversations with God, Book 1 (Neale Donald Walsch)
    This book really changed everything for me. I always “believed” in the principles it shared before I discovered them. I would argue for the exact arguments God would present to Neale in life in general before I read this book. I was always missing the last bits and pieces though, they never seemed to be expressed properly by me. Until I found this book and read it. It changed me, as I have very little religious/spiritual background aside from self-improvement. I didn’t know what spirituality meant, and I had no concept of God. This book was a major turning point in my life, and it is beautiful. Paradoxes that make complete sense and clarity to the questions I had been asking. Classic. I’ve read this book 5 times already and plan to read it again. I literally could not put the book down in each reread I’ve done. Thank you Neale, thank you!
  5. Just Ask the Universe (Michael Samuels)
    I bought this book for my fiance’ as a present because I enjoyed it so much! It’s a pretty short book and I feel like Michael had a similar experience to many people who write off personal development as airy-fairy woo-woo stuff. I had a lot of similar thoughts as Michael too – just general doubts and skepticism until I experienced something for the first time in my life. Michael writes beautifully and honestly about his experience with the Law of Attraction and how he achieved his dream life with a personal development program by Tony Robbins when he was at his lowest. It’s a truly inspiring read and gets you to start asking! I’ve read this twice so I’d like to read it again also.
  6. A Simple Act of Gratitude (John Kralik)
    Jumping off the last one, I just remembered this beautiful book. I was trying to order it off amazon and I could not find a suitable seller for me. Then I went to the Barnes and Noble and would you guess it was in the only section I look in – the discount book section. Sitting right there, pretty and hardcover. Wow, what an amazing book. Truly, truly inspirational. I started writing my own thank you letters after that although I felt his were always more magical than mine. I personally didn’t get the same experience from writing Thank you notes – I have some weird energy around them even though I did give them a go! 🙂 – but I did go back to my gratitude practices and it allowed me improve my life a lot. If you ever wondered why gratitude even matters and think its just for hippies and ignorant optimists, READ THIS BOOK it will change you. I’ve read this book just once, but once was enough for me..I still feel the goosebumps as I type now when I think of how magical and beautiful the story is.

 

Some other books I’m definitely re-reading or finishing up and highly recommend!

  • Success with a Positive Mental Attitude (Napoleon Hill&W. Clement Stone) – been halfway through this since the beginning of the school year!
  • Creating my Dream Body (Tris Satori) – Just finished reading this fantastic book! It’s the foundations for creating a body you love forever and I am going through it a second time to get all the exercises down!
  • Have the Relationship You Want (Rori Raye) – read this twice already but slip up often on its powerful principles.
  • You Can Heal Your Life (Louise Hay) – I’ve actually been in the middle of this one for a while as well, but I really like it too!
  • CWG Book 2, CWG Book 3, Friendship with God, and Communion with God (Neale Donald Walsch) – beautiful books I’ve read each once and CWG2 twice, could definitely use re-reads!
  • The Power of Now (Eckhart Tolle) – another classic I’ve only read once!
  • Frequency (Penney Pierce) – I have been reading this book for SO long and haven’t yet finished it even though it’s so good!
  • The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things (Carolyn Mackler) – one of the classics for me I absolutely loved and changed my life growing up. I also loved two of her other books, Vegan, Virgin, Valentine and Guyaholic. I’ve read her books so many times and it’s always an adventure.
  • One Square Inch (Claudia Mills) – an amazingly beautiful book..mine is in Taipei unfortunately but it was a gift I received as well and I loved it..heartbreaking but so touching. I am feeling goosebumps remembering it as well 🙂
  • Ask and it is Given and The Law of Attraction (Esther and Jerry Hicks) – classics. I’ve read Ask and It Is Given twice and loved it..I love how there are 22 processes in the book that you can use to help you no matter where you are! And I am enjoying The Law of Attraction right now these days.

There are actually so many more books on my list..I know this is why I don’t finish them often haha but I just love remembering the Truths about who we are! I know there’s something for everyone when we embrace these truths. Luckily I have so much fun and joy reading these things! What books are you reading for the summer?

Happy Reading!

-Catt xxx