La Tela di Carlotta
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What makes you feel complete? (aka, when you feel lonely in a foreign country)

Jul 23, 2018

The other day, I was watching Oliver and Emily play at the playground, and I realised something that made me think: I rarely do it.

I’m with them all the time, yet I rarely just sit and watch them back at home. I’m always having a chat with mom friends, or working at my laptop while they play in the kid area, or I’m on my phone getting some Facebook and Instagram work done.

That day, I saw how much Oliver involves Emily in his games, how much he calls her to go here and there, how he helps her go up the hardest bits, how he looks for her when other kids join the playground.

I noticed how Emily is more independent in her playing, that if there’s water and sand involved she can play happily for hours, how she always goes to Oliver if he calls her, how she tries to do everything he does without getting frustrated if she can’t or if I don’t respond to her calling me.

The list goes on.

Living a new country (we’re staying in East Canada for this summer 2018) while doing normal life — working routine, babysitters, spending lots of time by myself with the kids — is beautiful. It’s made me realise how much I love traveling, and how much I want to go more and more towards a minimalistic and nomadic lifestyle.

While I appreciate spending more quality time with the kids and Alex, though, it can also be extremely lonely. When you don’t know anybody at the playground to chat with; when you don’t have friends yet to go out for a coffee; when you struggle calling your friends back home because the different time zone makes it hard to coincide.

But I also found out that being lonely is a trigger for self-analysis. Loneliness is a powerful feeling — one that I hadn’t felt in years and one I never particularly liked — and it works in different ways for different people. For me, it made me realise three things:

  • I’m very picky when it comes to friends, and I actually prefer being alone than having meaningless friendships. Also, I can count the friends I miss on the fingers on one hand.
  • When you have kids, though, friends sometimes ensure your own survival. Loneliness can also force you to find creative ways and get out of your comfort zone in order to build potential friendships. After the first week — when I noticed that a chit-chat at the playground wasn’t enough — I went to print business cards and when I now see that Oliver connects with another child, I give his parents my business card to try and meet again (which is also good publicity for my blog, two birds with one stone!).
  • As soon as I started my dance classes here (after 10 days of being in Montreal) I felt an immediate sense of relief from loneliness. I felt complete again, at home. From now on, every time I temporarily move to another city, finding a dance studio will be a top priority.

Feeling whole. I guess for me that’s what makes me feel at home. When you feel incomplete, there’s no place in the world you can call home, and for me all it took was to ask myself one question, “What makes me feel complete?”. My family, my blog and my dancing is what defines me and makes me feel at home in myself.

Don’t get me wrong, though. Loneliness (real, or perceived) is no fun. But even if you’re a social being like me, feeling lonely isn’t necessarily bad. Embrace it for as long as you feel comfortable with it; then get creative, burst your bubble, take initiative, and use it as a tool to understand what makes you feel complete.

Because sometimes the fix is just a dance studio away.

PS. The same day I wrote this post, I was walking down the street with the kids and I heard my name. It was a girl I had met the week before who wanted to say hi. A simple gesture, a casual and spontaneous hand wave that immediately fed my sense of belonging to this beautiful city. At the of the day, it’s always the little things…

Tell me what you think

Did you like it? Do you agree or disagree? I'd love to hear from you.

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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.
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
Two alternatives to screens that my kids love
Using fear and threats to control children is never right!
"Stop crying!" doesn't work
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!

Oct 16, 2020 • 19m
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Oct 9, 2020 • 24m
Sostenibilità: come sensibilizzare i bambini e i giovani adulti | Con Cristiana Cerri Gambarelli
In questa puntata a due voci di Educare con Calma – divisa a metà perché amo gli episodi corti - parliamo di sostenibilità e per farlo ho invitato mia sorella, Cristiana Cerri Gambarelli, project manager della Federazione dei Giovani Verdi Europei e un esempio per chiunque voglia intraprendere un viaggio nella sostenibilità: negli ultimi ha cambiato tutta la sua vita per ridurre la sua impronta di carbonio e per prendere ogni giorno decisioni più sostenibili per il nostro pianeta e in questa ...
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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.