Author Archives: federicavalabrega

the hardest thing I had to do…

26116358_10155442079427734_8928227768374140566_o… I did it on the 1st of the month of January 2018: I let my boyfriend of almost three years go back alone to the city we had chosen to be the place where we wanted to live in together. Mumbai had been a wake-up call for me until that day. A very hard, slap-in-the-face wake-up call, but one I could not ignore anymore. Something in my life needed change and the change had to come from within and I was not able to listen to that within in the chaos of that city where 23 million people live in the myst of honking, shouting and strive to survive. I took a step back and came back to my home town of Rome, Italy. I took refuge where I knew I could not but find peace of  mind and soul. I had been debating for years to come back home, to retrieve to my roots to where it all began, and I finally did it. I had to put on hold the life with the partner I have chosen to be my rock, my companion and my friend, to come search for my crazy, little self in a city I thought I knew, but barely felt as mine anymore.

I know the answers are here already. I know I have them. I just chose not to listen to them over and over again, until now, when it became blatantly obvious I had not more choice: The spoke to loudly to be ignored anymore.

I know now, the light in the end of this hard tunnel I chose to embark in, exists. I know it does, because I see it, it is just up to me to keep seeing it daily and reminding myself I am not alone and I am not walking this path for no reasons whatsoever, but I am re-directioning my energy in the right way toward something I feel very strongly I must answer for myself and for the person I have next to me. Only once I will find peace with it, I will be able to embark in a tandem-life in full-force. I do not regret anything, I do not feel like a loss has been created, but I actually strongly believe in the process of self-discovery and liberation I am feeling right now. Love oneself is a must to be able to love the other with all you got.

I will let nobody and nothing stop me in this discovery and 2018 is the year I decided to take charge of my fears and face them straight in the eyes for once and for all. Bring it on!


In the Maximum city of Mumbai there is a space for everyone.

In the Maximum city of Mumbai there is a space for everyone.

I have only been here for a little over a month. I was shocked for most of it and wanted to go back and leave this all behind several times. I felt there would not be a true purpose for me in such e mega-city where everyone was just doing what they wanted.

But, I am starting to realize I was wrong.

In the Maximum city of Mumbai there is a space for everyone.


You just have to find it and keep moving with it. Don’t stop; never stop. Keep the vortex always turning.

There is a way for every means here. A slot for any creed, idea, job type, family and social extractions. It is a city that with its largeness does not dive, but it strangely unifies.

It is incredible that even though the city is over-crowded, filthy and perpetually in chaos, everyone finds a way of being and existing that fits them.

And everyone is close in proximity. You cannot avoid being smacked in the face by Dharavi or seeing the most expensive real estate in Asia while driving south. It is all there, close, undivided, unsolicited, just there for you to see and accept, because Mumbai is not to be controlled, or planned or directed.

Mumbai leads you where it wants, and it does so ruthlessly and unapologetically so and at a pace it gives New York City a kick in the rear.

In the Maximum city of Mumbai there is a space for everyone.

You just have to claim it and hang on it until the flow takes you somewhere else.

peaceful desert

This summer I spent two weeks getting lost in the west with a friend. The thing I had not figured out was that, while traveling, I was also finding bits and pieces of myself along the way. The silence and quietness of the desert was exactly what I needed to reconnect to my wild self.  And so it all began. The process of self-exploration and reconnection *(as cheesy as this may sound) started once and for all. And now that I am about to depart once again for another desert, one dear to my hear and soul, one of discoveries, deep down in the Middle East in just five days, I cannot begin to imagine the many more steps I will be taking toward those peaceful discoveries of mine while always with camera at hand.

Take Refuge

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Take Refuge

Take refuge in the place you know
it all resides.
where it all makes sense
where you are you at your best
do not be afraid, go there and stay.

Breath deeply in that place where it all
seems still and nothing ever shakes
every time you feel a sudden jolt
a push or a pull, do not despair
it is reality coming to compare
whether you still know
which one is right and which one is not.

We first come to see this clarity of being
we first realize that all can be demised,
but the strength of the dance is in keep
dancing when nothing seems to
be making sense. Where nothing is right
where you cannot quiet arrive
to see it all but only in one way.
The way you despise, the easiest you can
whenever you try. The blindest of all.

But seeing is training to see.
Seeing is not seeing when you ask to see
seeing is seeing when you feel to see
when you deeply desire to see things
differently, separately, distinctively.

The difference is in the eyes
not in the image you see
perception is key
you control it on your own.
You decided what to do with it all.
But it only works if you train at it
with moral discipline and love
and compassion and grace and gentleness
of the heart for at each mistake at each
short comings it is not a bash on the self,
but a lesson learned to be better next time.
An obstacle to be cherish for without it
we would be constantly blind and
never would we care to see it arise.

the illusion of self


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It’s me, it’s not me, it’s me. What is it?

I am angry, I am scared, I am dull, I am cautious.

I am afraid, I dwell.

Rebel to what I think is me, the truest form of me.

But it is not, it is just an illusion.

A splendid challenge of the mind

For me to cherish the truest nature of all.

The one I am not even sure I posses

But it’s there, no matter the odd feelings and the rush

of blood to my head.

It’s me it’s not me, it’s me. What is it?

How can one define? How can one see the difference?

How can one adjust to the jazz of it all.

Be still. Be still and receive the flood of calmness and joy

That comes from accepting it all.

Not as a challenge, nor as a fight, but as a battle

To where one will demise the true friend of it all

The one who we are deepest in ourselves, the one we

Collect, respect, listen to and adjust to in all its colorful self.

It’s me it’s not me, it’s me. What is it?

It is not you, it is it. The it that corrupts,

the one who scares you, who impedes you

to breath and to speak, the one who cannot be explained

the one who can only be confusing and abusing.

I want to be right. I want to fight, I want to feel constantly

perfectly bliss, no problems, no doubts, never distraught.

I want it to be without a doubt an obstacle a fault and a

draught, dismay of it all, I want it to be cool.

Intense, felt, immense, obstacle-less.

Easy, breezy, panic-less, without distress, amicable,

Passionable, but I always forget, it is not so difficult to fret

to feel in dismay, completely disarray, lost, confuse and

forever abused by the self and the mind and all I would

like would a short break.

One of a minute or so, to distract my worries and

catch my breath for once and for all in acceptance of it all.

I often ask myself…is it ok to be selfish?

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Yes it is. As far as you do it with intention and not with spite or revenge.
It is ok to be taking time for yourself if it helps you pave the road toward a better version of who you are.
We are so worried about pleasing everyone and doing everything for everybody all the time, we forget about us.
As cheesy as it feels/seems, that’s as simple as that. We can exist and do so much better for the world if we take a constant and continuing effort to find out what we want and act upon this desire daily. No exception, no excuses, no buts, no people in our ways to stop us, not even our “very judgmental version” of ourselves telling us when we are selfish we should feel guilty.

We, too often, walk in this daze of coffee drinking, wine sipping, cheese eating and recurrent meetings with friends to speak about the life we wish we had, the job we have been searching for for four years, but never found and then we get back home wishing we hadn’t done it, because we felt more depressed than the moment before. While all we had to do in these moments is take action for yourself: don’t speak, be quiet and do. No words, just actions. And when the actions do not come as easily and the words come faster and better, stop and let yourself be forgiven, it is ok not to be perfect after all. It is ok to lose it and ok to feel “not in control” all the time. We are humans, we get lost, we fall down, we trip on our own insecurities all the time. The step forward is to recognize it, feel it inside, and stand back-up with the willingness to change something about it not for anyone else, but yourself.

Even when you get as low as not liking anything about yourself, anything at all, you must endure it, you must carry on the pieces shattered on the floor and rebuild that wonderful puzzle of self you are, and move in any directions you can. Just this step is moving forward, just this little action is an action toward self-realization, self-knowledge, self-acceptance. Once this is there, day in and day out, we can lose some of our selfishness and we will feel so much more giving and caring and loving towards everyone out there, because we love ourselves always in every little step of the way, in every facet, in every shape and form.

This journey is the most wonderful journey life has given us the chance to join. It is also the hardest one, but the end fulfillment is one of a life time. I assure you.
Good luck and easy walking.

some moments can…

…absolutely be filled with silence and infinite green prairies and red rocks and all the

winding roads in the world as far as you have a camera to document all of this.

And then yes, this silence could also last forever after all.

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Pope Francis comes to East Harlem, NYC

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Being an Italian from Rome and all does make me forget how big the figure of the Pope really is outside of my own country. How his persona is worshipped by so many more people that you could ever imagine. I admire Pope Francis and I strongly believe his reasoning for abolishing the death penalty, suggesting to every Christian and family around the world to take in one or more refugees and believing in love as the stronger form of faith no matter the sexual preferences, but I take him for granted. I alway did. Until today.

I am spoiled to know he will give Mass on every Wednesday and every Sunday in Saint Peter’s Cathedral, which is about 20 minutes from my house in Rome. I am fortunate enough to know his face in real life having see him around my city more than once. But, today in East Harlem I saw a woman who was 82 from Porto Rico and she has been a fedele or worshipper since she was a little girl, then I met Gabriela all dressed-up in Pope paraphernalia and a little girl Nadia, from Mexico, who was ready to film when the little Fiat Cinquecento passed-by with Sua Santita` inside it. I saw all this and I felt privileged. I saw the Pope myself, but hearing the crowds screaming of joy at his presence made me have goose bumps on my arms. These people had only once chance to see the spiritual guidance they have been following for years and it was today and I could participate as well. It may feel cheesy or even too fairy tally, but, especially in East Harlem, where luck and money is not evenly distributed about people who truly need it, the Pope’s presence and his follower’s smiles and giggles, gave the neighborhood a whole different feel. A feel of peace and happiness we should all search for more daily.
And I am still smiling back at the excitement in this kids faces while they waved back at the Pope’s arm barley visibile outside of his car saluting them back.
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yom kippur 5776

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You and I and most of us are afraid of check-in. Terrorized to take the time and focus on our doubts, our fears, our shortcomings and our flaws and faults. In the Jewish faith there are an entire 40 days dedicated to this process once a year, which sums it all up in the 24-hour-fasting day of Yom Kippur after which technically G-d inscribes you in the book of life and all of your sins are cancelled for the new year to start.

It is obvious that for modern thinker like myself and other Jews among us, this is a silly thought, why would there be a day where all of our bad actions were to be erased and why is this day today? But, most of all, why shall I be re-inscribed in the book of life, I am a human with or without my flaws, my sins and all of it. Actually, I am more so of one with them all. Get off my lawn and stop telling me pre-temple mount lies. But…wait…wait if the reason of having a set-day for such process is what we all need to come together and make a collective effort to pardon one another and, first of all, and most important of it all, ourselves? What if this day was extended to non-Jews as well, but to all of us for the sake of being a lot calmer and a lot more patient with our million judgments towards one another and ourselves? What if we make this day a day to do nothing, but reflecting on your present and past action to be able to look forward and change something about it.

I am afraid and scared of this day all year around, I still dwell on many Bible passages we read tonight and tomorrow and why should I ask pardon to G-d and not myself and other, which are G-dly creatures and indeed part of my own self? I am and always will be a very controversial believer in Judaism and its contorted laws of love and respect, but I still fast, I still walk to synagogue every year since I turned 12 and I wait all year for this day to happen with impatience and with eagerness, because at the end of every Yom Kippur, I feel free. Quiet clique to say, but no word are worth using to explain this feeling of complete emptiness of body and mind. I feel as if I were re-born to start it all new. Maybe it only lasts few minutes or few days, but it is the best feeling one can have.

And no, it is not as if every questions I have in life will be solved or answered to in these days of repentement and I would walk out of the temple with a shiny wise hat on, but I will have a chance to look at things differently, with more detachment and maybe even more compassion and less grief and clinginess. And yes, once again, words are not right or strong enough to explain the feeling one has in this day, in this very moment where I can feel close to every single member of my family doing the same thing or, at least, stopping and thinking about it. And remembering the ones who left us and yet are still with us everyday in every thoughts.

Chatima` Tova` to you all. May this be a new beginning and a very good one.

back-staging it on a nyc rainy day

Hair and makeup credit to Red Door Spa.