There was a time in Milan where things were not going well in many areas of my life. It was the beginning of the recession and there wasn’t much work. I was sending out my resume and making calls but nothing was happening. So I decided it was about time to launch my first business (this was before my Theater days).
By the time I was living with my ex-boyfriend YuX, a talented Italian artist. We were happy together and years before, we had bought a beautiful loft in a very artistic and bohemian area in Milan called “Navigli”. YuX’s work had been slowing down as well for the same reasons, so we decided to join our creativity and to create a T-shirt line together. We called it “Fish Market”, YuX created the prints from some of his most popular paintings and I designed the t-shirts and the packaging. We invested some money in it, created the first samples and presented the collection to our friends and acquaintances. People went crazy about the t-shirts and the first samples sold out fast, so we invested more money, created new t-shirts, presented them again and sold out again.
We were on the right track, however, we were facing some big challenges: 1. We didn’t have a steady income as we were both not working as much as before 2. We had a mortgage and bills to pay every month 3. We had invested our money in the business and although we had been successful, we had just been able to cover part of the start-up expenses. That’s when my aunt, my cousin and his ex-girlfriend came into the game. They proposed to be part of the business and handle operations, marketing, sales and accounting, YuX and I would have to focus on the creative and the product development. It sounded like a good idea so we accepted. Unfortunately doing business with family is not always easy and if there’s no balance in the business, relationships can be affected.
To make a long story short, although we had a great idea in our hands, the business failed, compromising my relationship with my family and YuX. I was feeling humiliated and I blamed everyone and everything except myself for what was going on.
One night, I was sitting at the table of a Cafe, with my dear friend Valerio. I was complaining non-stop and looking for his validation and approval. He didn’t give me any of that and instead taught me a lesson I have never forgotten. The Cafe had paper tablecloths, Valerio asked to borrow a pen from the waiter, he handed it to me and said: “Draw me your story”. His request surprised me at first but I executed what I was told. While I was drawing and explaining the events, Valerio would ask me questions like “who made that choice?” or “how did you react to such event?” or “How did you feel in that moment?” The more I was drawing and adding elements to the Big Picture, the more I was realizing how everything was connected.
Have you ever played to one of those puzzle games where there’s a series of numbers and you have to link them with lines so that a picture can appear? That’s exactly what was happening before my eyes, except that the picture appearing was the painting of my life. Valerio pointed out how every event was a consequence of a decision that I had made, every reaction or behavior was coming from experiences occurred in my past and how I had chosen to feel about everything.
It was so powerful that I spent the whole night with Valerio at the table and ended up filling the entire tablecloth with the story of my life. When we were done, Valerio told me “We’re humans, we all make mistakes, we all screw up for a reason or another and it’s all right. What matters is that we recognize our patterns and stop repeating them over and over again”. I was mind blown. I looked at my drawing and saw all of them: my addictions, my abandonment issues, the times I lied to myself, the times I pretended to be ok, the times I didn’t express my feelings as I wanted, the times I hurt people I loved, the shame that I had about myself for screwing up so much and above all that I was not loving myself enough.
What is your story?
What do you stand for?
What are your dreams?
What is your purpose?
Don’t be afraid to share your failures or your mistakes, we ALL make them. Don’t be afraid to share your wildest dreams because if you deny them to yourself, you’ll most likely be on the path of never seeing them realized.
Here’s a gift for you (you can thank my friend Vale for it ;).
THE STORYBOARD GAME.
Usually, before shooting a film, the director, and his team put together a storyboard. Essentially, it consists of drawing the entire movie scene by scene and frame by frame in order to have a complete visual overview of how the movie is going to unfold. The storyboard game is pretty much the same. It puts you in the position of the observer and makes you aware of the life patterns, choices, and coincidences that took you where you are now.
Take a big piece of paper, if you have flip chart paper you can use that, if not you can use a paper tablecloth just like the one I’ve used with Valerio. Start at the very left of the sheet and as the very first thing, draw the day you were born. Then close your eyes and project on your inner screen your Life and all the major events that occurred from your childhood to the present moment. Look at them objectively and with no judgment, the only purpose of the game is to come up with the big picture and gain awareness. Now open your eyes and start drawing what you saw on the paper.
Draw your childhood, your teenage, your adulthood, draw your best moments, your traumas and the things that happened after those; draw your relationships with your family, your partners, your kids. Keep drawing, don’t stop, don’t think, just draw. It doesn’t have to be linear, sometimes past events will evoke present events. Draw them in another space on the sheet and link them to the past event.
You don’t have to be an artist to do it, Just do it! Draw like I kid, I don’t care. Do kids ever care about how their drawings will come out? No! they just enjoy doing it and don’t judge. Your drawing won’t be exposed to any Art Gallery I promise, although you might discover a hidden talent you didn’t know you had #Justsaying. The more you draw, the more you’ll get clarity, the more you get clarity, the more you’ll be able to recognize your patterns and take complete charge of your Story and of your Life.
’Til the next one!