Practicing gratitude

[mysidebar id=”discpt”]

As every year, on the fourth Thursday of November, in a huge part of Western culture, and mostly in the United States of America, people celebrated Thanksgiving.
Although I don’t belong to the American culture, so different from mine, I have been feeling very close to that ceremony and to the profound meaning it has for millions of people around the world.
So, since last year, I have been inspired by Thanksgiving for reflecting on some particular cues of our family life and of the way we choose to live it.

What I mostly appreciate about Thanksgiving, is the mindful celebration of the abundance we have been conceded by, everyday and of the several blessings we can count, especially the ones coming from remarkable human relationships.
Thanksgiving , isn’t just about a dinner, an yearly get-together around the family table, laid with all kind of delicious foods. Actually, Thanksgiving is a way of living.

Indeed, pursuing Gratitude, is not a gift, or something related to a particular good nature behavior. But it’s a skill, everyone of us can practice, train and cultivate, everyday.
I really want my children to master it. In fact, it’s been said it is one of the most important aspects for building up happy lives.

I think there is no better moment than the Holiday season to help my children focusing on spiritual aspects. This path allows them to take the right distance form what can be called the abundance syndrome, that particular state of mind where the more you own, the more you want to get. Also, taking advantage of spiritual practices, helps children taking out pressure from media saturation, that, particularly during the Holiday season, wants to induct children in the need of owing useless and expensive items.

Last year, we made a small project about Gratitude. Every evening, right after dinner, everyone of us wrote a note on a card about the most significant thing to have been grateful of during the day and put it in a bowl placed on the family table. On Christmas morning, we read aloud together all the cards and thought about the huge amount of blessings we could count of, just in a month.
It was a simple and fun way to help children mastering the practice of gratitude. What I have noticed so far, is the fact children progressively and only led by their own instinct, expressed more gratitude towards get-togethers, emotional expectations or human relationships, than towards material items.

Additionally, it moved me so much looking at them as they showed up thankfulness to aspects they before used to perceive entitled, such food on the table, daily hot showers, dinners at family table, or a great afternoon spent at granny’s, just for noticing few.

Psychologists refer to this aspect as Economy of Gratitude, highlighting the skill of gratitude helps children and adults to feel happier and also stocks up such a huge added value as becoming an economy of proficts, where human energies are the main result.

This year, we have been thinking about some gratitude projects, as well.
One, is more directly related to preparing our hearts to Holy Christmas. But I will tell you about it, very soon.
The other is more about my own personal path through faith.

However, even if you are not Christian, you can perceive great value from practicing gratitude through several projects that involves you as a family and help it growing.

For instance, as parents, considering the fact our older children are now 6 and 8, we have been gradually involving them on focusing on aspects of our everyday life related to suffering: as children living in scarcity or orphans, children who are born in war lands, little babies in hospitals and so on, trying to answer the better we can to their specific questions about them.

These issues must be taken straightly, only if they are paired with mindfulness about our own privileged state of living.
Letting children mindfully practicing altruism, compassion and empathy in alleviating others’ sufferings, not only helps people in need, but also allows children to find a peaceful place in their soul, knowing every little crumb can comfort and lift someone who suffers.
And, what’s more, it helps children to face several inadequacies and injustices of our world, letting them mindful about the fact they can really make the difference, even if they are only 6 and 8 years old, and being part of a human movement of compassion and fraternity.

As a family we are slowly approaching to enjoy the Christmas season. Trying to savour every moment together and hoping to transform the waiting in a mindful path towards the Birth.
Do you want to join us?

Here is, just for cheering on you, a wonderful video about the inner meaning of Gratitude.

[mysidebar id=”discpt”]

Digitizing memories

[mysidebar id=”discgt”]

image

Since the school years of childhood, but perhaps to think of it, even while those of the nest, our house was invaded daily by a huge amount of paper , under different forms of touching, vibrant, beautiful and eclectic art forms of expression.

The initial joy and the miraculous feeling of being able to touch, the power and capacity of our young artists iconography of the house, which accoglievamo initially enraptured expression and cries of wonder, with the passage of time, he left as the place to smiles and happy faces always a bit ‘more concerned that the time already pregustavano little sublime in which, those wonderful jobs, those fun and colorful amplification of the self-changing of our children would have to enter force pushes accortacciamenti and lightning raids and decided, in our, by now, too small, closet hobby.

Oh yes, because now, of space, there no more and despite our good intentions, piles of paper stacked on the desk stand designed , waiting to be looked at with due attention and then being placed in some ring binders, now overflowing, I am sorry admit it, of perhaps too many wonderful works of art of our children.

How to happen to many parents, find extreme discomfort to part with these memories , particular expressions and shiny testimonies of the different stages of their childhood, of specific moments in their lives of children, but also that of us parents.

Yes, because many of those drawings, they helped us on many occasions, to feel more united and grow together as a family for a long time in fact, during the years of the pre-school, the designs of our children have played a role in so to speak, letters, or have allowed us as parents, to read those iconographic traits, as if they were real letters, through which our children are talking and communicating with us in a very effective . Through this interview is not written, but in fact, designed, we knew a lot about the state of their souls, their hardships, their questions. And not only that. Their designs in fact, there have only shown what was and made their world, but just as often , had the task of mostarci what was not there, that was missing and that he needed to find his way out and come forward.

Therefore, addressing the fateful moment when, inevitably, we must also deal with the need to make a selection, it is not for me thing.
But not for this, I do ‘pervinta. Like everywhere else, the important thing is clear ideas and start with small steps.

image

Reflecting a little on the issue, in fact, I realized that I had about being too emotionally confused , which led me to keep everything, in the name of an idea of ​​the past but a bit ‘too theoretical and, certainly, a bit ‘too superficial.

consciously move the focus from the negative feeling, totally understandable, detachment from the past to the positive instead of the opening confident towards the future , has allowed me to actually keep only one who has a real value, not only as an element of the past, which concerns the childhood of our children, but also as an element that can tell us a lot about our present again as a family.

Use these parameters we are using, to take care of the most important memories and to ensure that they, and only they, have to actually be preserved with due care and attention.

1. Collect the drawings into a single point in the home. Ok, it is not elegant, but as the Americans say, an elephant is eaten one bite at a time. And if you do not know how big this elephant, will be completely diffcile understand how many bites you should eat it! We chose a corner of a room near a window. The battery makes us feel, but the fact that it is quite visible to our eyes all day, makes us always remember that this is a task to take care of as soon as there is occasion.

2. From that pile of papers, we started, in small bites, in fact, to make a selection , eliminating designs that can actually be trashed, which are not you have particular memory or that there seem to be more sighnificativi.

3. After this (lunga!) phase, begin to divide drawings by author and then by period precise (some had previously affixed to the date) or orientation (year or season). This task, which seems hard to say, it is really easy, if we have done a good job in preserving only the designs that we have memory!

image

4. With the group selected sheets in hand, we can proceed to aupicabilmente digital scanning of them. We intend to devote a specific folder on your hard drive and make a backup copy of DVD or dedicated keys, dividing into sub-folders by period and author.
Convert to digital works will allow us to have many designs on hand and you can even work on it, presenting perhaps in a digital editing to be reviewed on-screen, as in a virtual art gallery.

5. And the originals? Depending on the number of scans, we will decide whether to proceed or save them all to a further selection of originals (50 to child?), Giving them new life (in a binder with a clear file divided by year and author), or choose to frame them rolling in their room.

6. Advantage for the future : certainly hope that this method will help us to better evaluate and weigh the designs of recent production, keeping only the works that respond to the ideas expressed above, making a selection at the moment and putting only those to be retained, author, year, before scanning them.

And you? What methods used to preserve (and not be constrained by) the family memories

[mysidebar id=”discgt”]

Less meat…at our table!

[mysidebar id=”discgt”]

image

For a certain period of time, I have been vegetarian.

The reasons why I have been, continue to be the same ones why, after some time, I came back to be omnivorous : the respect of the species killed and the uniqueness of their life, the care of my personal and my loved ones’ health and being mindful of the consequences of my choices and actions, even in the food compartment.

For me, these statements are not insignificant. In fact, they have a ‘fundamental importance in my life and still guide the ethical and food choices of our family.

“If nothing matters, there’s nothing to save.”

 

These few words have been printed inside me since few years, after having read a very famous book by Jonathan Safran Foer . A novel, or an essay, or an investigation, I do not know how to define it well, which for many has become the banner of vegetarians or vegans, but, in my opinion, is much more than that.

Indeed, this book, in my opinion, speaks more to omnivores than to vegetarians or vegans. In fact, it has no intention of dividing the world into categories of human meat eaters, ugly and bad, and of who does not eat it, good and compassionate. It would be too easy and, indeed, there would be no need for another book on the subject.

Who wants to know, in fact, as it is highly inhuman and horribly cruel, and the ‘ intensive livestock designed and kept alive, if you can still speak of life, exclusively for meat slaughter ready for the indiscriminate use of such (un) human will already have way of knowing. And, if they pursues theirs actions , they will certainly have their own reasons, which justify such behavior.

Into Who does not want to know, continues to quietly think this overall situation of our entire ecosystem, does not concern him at all , and really the meat they buy, cut and packaged, or already turned into food ready to be consumed, has been taken from animals killed without any kind of pain and that were grazing placidly until a few hours before the green lawns and courtyards clean and spacious depicted in advertising, which also unconsciously choose to eat every day.

Into Instead, what the author shows us very simply, with grace, sweetness and genuineness of those who move with purity of heart in the harshness of the world and among the diversity of people with whom they compare respectfully, is that, although man is born omnivorous and hunter, as well as collector and then, grower, has on his side the opportunity to choose to eat food that the animal (meat and fish for vegetarians, but also dairy products and eggs for vegans) can be consciously excluded or drastically reduced, in view of ethical values based on compassion for living beings on our planet and in the name of human existence that is raised in a equal and respectful towards other forms of life.

all this, first of all, because the consumption of meat, especially on the part of American civilization (on which the author bases his investigation, but that also reflects our European way of life) is absolutely disproportionate to the needs of the population of the U.S.: so that the total quantity could even feed the entire world population.

And, secondly, because this orientation is unidirectional, is not dictated by cultural propensities, and even less for geographical reasons, but by a gradual and calculated planning of ‘ flattening the taste according to rules of ruthless economic market , which produces meat for slaughter at very low cost and very high gain, exploiting animals now completely distorted both quality of life for genetic factors built in the laboratory.

Tthis political-economic strategy, which has over time changed the entire look of geo-territorial thousands and thousands of acres of American lands, used exclusively for the cultivation of maize for fodder, also GM , based on the consumption of meat and fish from intensive farming it is the base of nutrition (and health) of an entire nation, but not only of it.

However, what is clear from any segetarian, vegan or simply between omnivores aware, is that the world of food available to us, is rather vast and varied . Often (and this speech goes beyond direct analysis of meat and fish, but concerns all food) we are all mentally imprisoned by types of food preparation and consumption of it, dictated more by cultural habits, that choices , while it would be desirable to have a greater openness to other foods and ingredients, likewise nutrients that we simply do not know or are not relevant to our culture.

While it is true that you have to favor the consumption of local food, both for quality issues, but also for reasons of sustainability, it is true that nobody forces us to conceive the way we eat solely based on what that most of our peers or parents, have done and continues to do , just because we live in a certain place or belong to a certain food culture.

Let us take as an example the structure of an Italian dining, made of a temporal sequence of a cereal-based first course, of a protein main course and a vegetable side. If we think about it, this is a completely absurd law, if it means limited to stay within the boundaries of this theoretical framework. And everyone can, without detracting from the healthy and enviable tradition of Italian cuisine, enjoy the same nutritional components in a single course or in a different sequence or composition of them.

This kind of reasons, must be applied when it comes to meat and fish, too: essential for our daily protein intake, are absolutely replaceable with other plant foods (legumes , cereal protein, algae, oil seeds) or fleshless protein foods (dairy, eggs) that can and should support the diversity of our food choices both for our health and for that of our entire planet.

Everyone, even the most skeptical and reluctant to this kind of awareness, are aware of how many precious resources are used and depleted to support the intensive rearing and the industrial production of meat and fish. And in a cross-cultural and globalized world, it is equally absurd to focus on consumer choices and market-driven economic reasons, rather than to personal taste or ideological choices.

In my opinion, we must always have in mind that we all, as consumers, have the power to weigh our choices in the food department. Take as an example, fresh fish: from personal experience I know that the local markets in my area, are stocked with almost always the same types of not raised fresh fish: cod, sole, sea bass and sea bream, or fish already filleted (and for God’s sake, without thorns!) as Pangasius. Only rarely is another type of fish, but the seafood. Yet our Mediterranean Sea is full of oily fish, such as anchovies, sardines, anchovies, herring, mackerel or mackerel, sea bream, or pagello. But this fish, it is very little, if you ask why, all the merchants I’ve heard, they told me that mostly, all this kind of fish, not even is able to reach the general markets, because there is little demand from consumers. I can surely wonder it’s true, as a mackerel, absolutely comparable in taste and nutritional qualities to salmon and tuna, costs at least 5 times less per kilo compared to a noble sole!. Yet, on the rare occasions that I found it, I bought it and we all have tasted its delicacy and versatility. And for once, some cods and soles, were able to swim a little longer in the sea.

That is to say, that in our small way, we consumers can do much in directing the laws of the market. Ultimately, the final word belongs really to us and nobody else. Being able to diversify our food choices, especially for us omnivores, is a matter of great ethical value, as well as for health and economic developmental reasons.

In our family, we have never been of greatest consumers of meat. We have always tried to vary the protein alternatives on the table. However, since the children have become older and have started eating school lunches and taking part to social events, we noticed that both had suddenly changed their taste, preferring far produced and ready for use foods, almost always meat, to those based on vegetables or fish. Not to mention the vegetables, which at one point seemed not to tolerate even the sight of them!

It was not easy, and in some cases still is, getting progressively with the patience and tenacity of a Chinese drop, to redirect their converted taste , to the path of variety and to the attractiveness of a non-synthetic, but natural taste. I must say that I got great results. Even the most stubborn and recalcitrant one, that if it depended only on him, would go on with meat, pasta, pizza and fries only.

It’s been a gradual, but consistent path, and nowadays we are seated on a once a week consumption of meat (local, organic and comes from animals that have had room to move around and eat grass pasture or bean), without counting the Sunday lunch at grandparents’ or those children eat at the school canteen (which in 60-70% of cases unfortunately involves prepared, although fortunately, organic, meat or frozen fish. ). And for the rest a varied choice of vegetables, dairy products, eggs and oil seeds.

Actually, we don’t miss meat at all, especially because over time we have learned to use legumes as protein-based and absolutely equivalent meal to flesh based ones, even in methods of preparation. In fact, I must admit, on many occasions, it has earned us a additional great taste!

 

To give you an example, here is be the best veggie burgers we have ever eaten!

And plus, we usually serve them the American way, with lots of ketchup and in an homemade bun!

[gmc_recipe 2170]

[mysidebar id=”discgt”]