La Tela di Carlotta
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Death is all around us. Think about it. Prepare for it.

May 2, 2016

Today our friend’s wife died of a very aggressive tumour that killed her in four months. She was not much older than me. She was healthy, sporty, strong. She and her husband had dreams and hopes similar to ours, they had met their better halves, thought they’d spend their life together.

I only knew her indirectly, because her husband used to work with mine at the beginning of our relationship, but since she was diagnosed with cancer in December, we were following her ups and downs on the blog that he was writing for friends close and far: to keep them up-to-date, to let them know they were fighting it with all their strength, but also because being open about the news helped them tackle the challenges ahead.

Four months. That’s all it took for this disease to bring down a healthy woman in her 30s. It reminded me of just how important it is to think about death, to mentally prepare for it. Today we’re here, we’re healthy, we’re happy, and tomorrow we might be dead.

I’ve never lost family; the closest I’ve been to death was losing an uncle and two friends, one to her own internal demons that made her commit suicide, and the other one to a cancer he fought for six years. But Alex’s mother died when he was six, my friend’s daughter died when she was two, my mum’s friend went to beach one day and drowned right in front of his family.

Death is everywhere and can come to anybody at any time. It’s a real possibility and we should never take life for granted.

I’m not saying we should be dramatic, masochists and live our lives sadly because we might die tomorrow. Thinking about death is sad, yes, but also empowering: it makes us give the right value and priority to what we have today, the love that is given to us, the love that we’re able to give, the happiness we can find in our every day, even the worst ones. Thinking about death helps us put everything in perspective, focus on what really matters.

But not just that.

The more you think about it, prepare for it, the more empowering it is.

It makes me feel sad to think that if I died in the next two years Oliver wouldn’t remember me; in the next five years he’d remember very little of me; any time after that, he’d be heart-broken and it would shape his life forever. Alex would need to raise him alone with this huge hole in his heart.

But thinking about Alex or Oliver dying—and I do think about it often, even more since Oliver came along—doesn’t only make me sad, it scares the hell out of me. I feel it would kill me. And that’s exactly why I need to think about it, I need to visualise myself in that situation and imagine the pain I would feel; imagine how I would react, how I would like to react, what kind of parent I’d like to be for my children if we lost Alex.

My mum’s dad died when she was 17 and my teenage mum had to take over, because my grandma couldn’t take it. I don’t want to be that kind of mother for my children, forcing them to grow up quickly and take care of me when they’re feeling the same pain I’m feeling.

My friend’s husband died last year (almost exactly a year ago—you’re always in our hearts) and his wife was a rock for herself and for their two teenage children. She treated them as adults, she pushed them, but she was there for them when and if they needed her. That’s the kind of mother I’d like to be.

Death is frightening, and nothing—not even preparing for it—will make it easier, the pain less excruciating, the challenges ahead less overwhelming. But like everything that scares us—our personal demons—the best way to handle it is to face it. And since I’m hoping to face my personal lethal demon as far in the future as possible, the only way I can feel more in control now is to think about it, and prepare for it.

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The blog

I write mainly about Montessori, parenthood, and multilingualism. Here are some recent posts.

Montessori
One day a few years ago my husband came home and said, "Why don't we put a mattress on the floor in the baby room? It'd be much more natural". "Never" was my reply. That's how our Montessori journey started. Since then we've been living, breathing and applying the philosophy at home day in and day out, starting from ourselves. Because educating children starts from the parents.
Terrible twos
The organs of the body: workshop for kids
Kids understand if you give them honesty
Bean and seed mosaic
I'm not perfect. I'm aware
DIY yoga cards for kids
Children at the restaurant: let's recalibrate expectations
Don't ask your children to share their toys
Those "good job" that erode our children's confidence
Our Montessori birthday
Living sustainably
Living sustainably for me doesn’t only mean to have a more eco-friendly lifestyle. It means to make decisions that are sustainable for our planet, the people on it, but also for our life, our lifestyle, and our happiness. It means to take any daily chance to evolve and be happier, healthier, kinder, more responsible and more caring human beings—the only sustainable way for a meaningful future.
Face yoga is an act of self love
Why you should wear the same outfit twice on Instagram
The power of creating habits (and why you should do it, even if you then break them!)
Responsible eating is the diet of the future (Would you like to teach it to your kids?)
The power of NOT complaining: can you do it for a whole month?
Clean up your planet, please!
Infographic: 8 steps to switch to cloth nappies (a guide for reluctant parents)
A personal note on happiness
A personal note on social media
A change of life always widens your horizons
New to La Tela?
I’ve prepared collections on various topics that I’ve written over the years. Perhaps you’ll find one that interests you.

Travel

We sold everything to travel the world for two years. We're currently in New Zealand.

Books

In 2020 I wrote 4 books for the Italian collection “Gioca and Impara con il metodo Montessori” curated by Grazia Honegger Fresco. The collection is a project by Il Corriere della Sera and La Gazzetta dello Sport.

We also implemented the workshops of the last 15 volumes of the collection with Oliver and Emily.

Podcast

On my podcast, “Educare con calma”, I talk about various topics, from Montessori to sustainability. Only in Italian!

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I update Instagram almost every day to be "close" to my family far away.

Why La Tela di Carlotta?
I dreamed of the name La Tela di Carlotta. One morning I woke up and in my dreams I had created a blog named just like the American novel (Charlotte's Web). Many years and endless ups and downs later, this web of thoughts and stories is my work. It took me a long time to understand what kind of online presence I wanted and today I know: I'm transparent, I show real life, I don't advertise, I only recommend sustainable brands (and not only because they pay me) and I believe in the value of my blog and my courses—because if we don't believe in the value of our work, no one will believe in it for us.
Carlotta
Carlotta dreaming of La Tela
I know! I don't want it to be over yet either.