Today, Bianca, my daughter, is turning seven. First, and foremost: happy birthday, Bianca, may you live a blessed life, just like you blessed and enriched beyond measure the life of your parents.
Each year, on Bianca’s birthday, I used to write an article about some of the things I learned from her. And boy, I learned a lot.
But this year will be different: this time it won’t be about learning anymore. Enough with learning, for a while. Let’s focus on the joy. Let’s focus on the simple things, let’s focus on just living life as it is. And here, in this simple realm of living life as it is, I received the most precious gifts from my daughter. Lets take them one at a time.
I wasn’t big on smiling, I admit it. I always thought it’s better to project an image of toughness and seriousness if you want to make an impact. Being what you usually call a business man for more than 14 years now, this approach may sound reasonable. But it isn’t, believe me.
Since Bianca came into my life, I learned to smile just by mirroring her face. I didn’t have to do anything more than that: just look at her and mirror the beautiful smile on her face. And, somehow, the muscles on my face retained these moves and then, out of the blue, I surprised myself smiling at business meetings. At important negotiations. I even surprised myself smiling at one of my competitors.
It was a long process, but in the end I learned, because of Bianca’s constant smiling, the difference between competition and connection.
Many of my close friends told me that I was born kinda old, in a way. I was always a bit too mature, or too grown up for my age. Too serious. Even when I played, I did it in a very applied, formal and exact way. Until Bianca came into my life, that is.
We played thousands of games. We invented new languages, we inflated balloons at playgrounds and created unbelievably complicated mazes in our living room. We wrote in our books of life and we solved puzzles. I finally made room for playing in my life.
I seriously think that at the root of my passion for tango (at least the improvisation part of the tango) lies this gift I got from my daughter.
3. Telling And Getting What I Want
The world is bad, it will crush down and you’d better be humble about it, if you want to get around. That’s what I’ve been told, as a kid. That’s what many of us heard, while they were kids. Well, when Bianca was an infant, there wasn’t any force in the Universe capable of preventing her from getting what she wanted.
In fact, any healthy kid, if not exposed to limiting beliefs like the ones above, will act the same: he or she will ask what he or she wants until he or she gets it. Period. It took a while for me to unweave those limiting patterns in my head, but I eventually succeeded. Or I think I did.
Fact is that, because of this gift from Bianca, now I have little, if any, concerns about what others may think of me if I freely express what I want, or, more commonly, what I don’t want from them.
When Bianca is ill, I’m mad. I really am, I don’t react normally. So, if you know Bianca is having the flu, or is feverish, you’d better not talk to me. Because the reaction may be way out of proportion. I simply cannot stand the fact that my daughter is suffering or is in pain. I just can’t.
So, when this happens, I simply stop the entire outside world and focus every drop of energy on taking care of her. I will never count the sleepless nights, the moments of panic or despair. I will always remember, though, the beautiful mornings when she was recovered, the smile on her face when the fever was gone.
And I will always remember also that this, the fact that you can actually have the chance to care for somebody that way, is a gift.
5. Story Telling
Each evening, when Bianca stays over night (she lives with her mother), I tell her a story. She picks 5-6 characters (mainly animals, like unicorns, owls or babbling rabbits) and then I invent a story on the spot. Sometimes it’s a long story and she falls asleep before the end. Sometimes it’s a short one and she asks me to tell her another one.
I think I told her hundreds of stories so far. When she is not around, I surprise myself assembling fragments of stories in my mind with some fictional characters, just to keep the habit in place. And sometimes, I realize how lucky I am to receive this gift of learning how to tell stories.
Many of the hundreds of articles published on this blog are, in fact, stories I learned to tell because of Bianca.
So far, Bianca was lucky enough to change a few schools and kindergartens. In each place she made a lot of friends. Some of them were from the other side of the world, literally, like this boy from Mexico, who declared that he loved her before they had to go back home. At that time, Bianca was 4, but she still remembers that little boy. His name is Rodrigo, by the way.
I was amazed about how easily she’s able to make friends. How little she asks from them. How much she is willing to give, just because they are they friends. And I was also amazed about how bad I was at making and keeping friends.
So, I started to follow her steps. To learn from her how to make and maintain friends. And I’m thoroughly enjoying these friendships as we speak.
But the greatest gift of all is love. All of the above will mean nothing without love. Pure, simple and unconditional.
Thank you, Bianca 🙂
Running For My Life - from zero to ultramarathoner
The spooky thing about depression is that it sneaks in. There aren’t really trumpets and loud voices announcing: “Hail, hail, this is depression entering the room, all rise!” Nope. It’s slow, silent, creepy. It doesn’t even look like depression. It starts with small isolation thoughts like: “Maybe I shouldn’t get out today, I just don’t feel like going out”. And then it does the same next day. And then the day after that and so on. And then it starts to whisper louder and louder in your ears: “Why would you go outside, you loser? Didn’t have enough yet? Want more people to make fun of how much of a big, fat loser you are?”
And then you start to breath in guilt and shame, instead of air. Every breathe you take is putting more dark thoughts into your body.
Until you get stuck. You can’t move anymore. At all.
If you want to know how I got out of this space, eventually, check out my latest book on Amazon and Kindle.