Friends, Honesty and Loyalty - Distinguish between real and fake friends

It's not easy to distinguish between real and fake friends

Over the last few days, I have been thinking about what I value or look for in my friends. I realize that two things are very important for me: 

Honesty and Loyalty

Photo by Adriana Tarin -

Never give up - It's never over until it's over!

My 7-years old son, Elijah, plays competitive tennis. His hero is Rafael (Rafa) Nadal.

Elijah is passionate about tennis and would love to play tennis each day of his life...I know that he is only 7, but it's is fascinating to see a young kid expressing so much passion for a sport.

I love the energy and intensity that Elijah shows when playing tennis, and in many ways, I understand why Nadal is his hero. If you follow tennis, you probably know that Rafa Nadal is intense, passionate and most of all, a real fighter - He never gives up.

When my son Elijah plays matches, he continually repeats himself a sentence that helps him to be mentally present and remain positive even when he is losing a match:
 "It's never over, until is over"

 I find it this sentence very powerful and I try to use for many things in life. I am sharing it with you now... try it!
Photo by Katherine Brooks -

Value YOURSELF - Positive Thinking

Don't let the opinion of others dictate your yourself!

A second letter: Napoli...chaotically beautiful!

Dear Friend,

During our trip to Europe, we spent about two days in Napoli (Naples). While visiting this unique city, I discovered that Napoli is the third largest city of Italy and also one the poorest places in Europe. I have to admit that this was particularly obvious when walking on the back streets of Napoli, a very unique experience. 

But, Napoli is special and I place it at the top of my list of all the cities that we visited during our trip. It's messy, chaotic, noisy...but, it's a city that is really alive.  People are friendly, but curious. Our taxi driver told us that Neapolitans are proud people who feel different from other Italians. Napoli is a very old city with lots of history and a very unique culture and dialect. Related or unrelated to this (you decide!), our taxi driver told us that Neapolitans still love deeply Diego Maradona who is still considered a hero and a legend for them. 

I am not certain where to start when describing Napoli because there is so much to say about it. If you are interested in history, the center of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage site with numerous churches, ancient monuments, and historical places to visit. Clearly, two days was insufficient to visit this amazing city, but we managed to visit places such as the Castel dell'Ovo and the Duomo di Napoli. Another fantastic thing about Napoli is that it has a whole city underground with incredible ancient Greek aqueducts and Christian catacombs.

Napoli is also a city that never goes sleep. When walking on the streets of Napoli, I had the impression that I was part of one of those old Italian movies where chaos dominates each one of the scenes. The roads were filled with motorcycles or scooters carrying 2-3 people....even worse, most people were not wearing helmets! You don't really see this in Canada...chaotic, unsafe, crazy! 

Traffic is completely crazy in Napoli. I am not certain why there is traffic lights since most people simply ignore them. You really have to be awake or mentally present when crossing the streets in we often say, you need to be in the moment! Interestingly, however, we never saw any traffic accident during the time that we stayed in Napoli. Perhaps, we were lucky...or perhaps, a certain order is actually possible within the chaos that characterizes Napoli. 

Pizza, pizza and more pizza!

There is no question that the best Italian pizza comes from Napoli. Margherita and Marinara Pizzas were just amazing in Napoli...even the gluten free versions! My stepson has celiac disease, so we often ate in pizzerias that offered both gluten and gluten-free pizzas.

The Ancient city of Pompeii

As it is often said, a visit to Napoli is not completed if we don't visit Pompeii. So, we took the train (which was more like a "bus-train") and visited the ancient city of Pompeii.

The first thing to say about Pompeii is that is a vast city, bigger that I expected. Apparently, Pompeii was a classic port town filled with sailor’s hotels, bars, public baths, taverns and brothels. Archeological work taking place in Pompeii give visitors to Pompeii the best look there is on ancient Roman life. We spent a few hours visiting the different buildings and sites in need for a guide when you visit Pompeii, especially if you have children with you.

Next Stop, Padova and Venezia...

Love is like swimming in turbulent waters...

Although humans often like to separate themselves from other species, we have to accept that we are just another animal species!

Many of our behaviors or actions are still very similar to those of other animal species. Research studies have found that animals negotiate turbulent waters using a special energy-conserving method that allows them to go with the flow — literally. In other words, animals stay in the turbulent waters and just go with the flow, like floating or following the movement of the water...because it's energetically efficient. 

Don't you feel sometimes that you are swimming in turbulent waters, and you don't have any other option than going with the flow ...hoping that love will calm the troubled waters eventually? Perhaps, natural selection has favoured this option!

A first letter to my Italian friend - Our visit to Rome

Dear Maria Linda,

It's been 25 years since I last saw you. It's hard to believe that time has passed so rapidly.  As you know, I have a little bit of Italian blood running through my veins. Thus, it was always my desire to visit Italy - the land of some of my ancestors.  Well, I was able to achieve this dream two years ago, when I turned 50 years old. My big birthday gift was a family trip to Europe, precisely Italy, France and Spain. 

As part of our 3-weeks European vacation, we spent about 10 days in ItalyAs I expected, I fell in love with's a spectacular country! We knew that 10 days would not be enough time to visit the whole country, so we visited 4 major cities: Rome (Roma), Naples (Napoli), Venice (Venezia) and Padua (Padova). 

Recently, I read a message that you sent two years ago via Facebook regarding the trip. I never had the chance to answer your message. Since I believe that it's never too late to talk with a friend about a fabulous life experience, I decided to write some posts/letters about the time that we spent in Italy. 

In this first letter, I like to tell you about the time that we spent in Rome


The first Italian city that we visited during our trip was Rome or Roma - personally, I prefer to call it Roma! 

We were there for ~4 1/2 days (2 1/2 at the beginning & 2 at the end of the trip). Four days was certainly not enough to see all that Roma has to offer. We opted for visiting the "must see places" - including the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Palatine Hill, the Vatican and all its museums, Piazza di Spagna and the Villa Borghese. 

The Colosseum and the Roman Forum - All simply really feel that you are transported to the time of the Roman Empire! The Roman Forum and its associated buildings are big, so we actually spent a few hours there. In particular, we enjoyed the Arch of Titus, the Vestal Complex and of course the Palatine.

The Vatican --> a must to see whether you are Catholic or not. I still don't know how we did the tour with the kids (especially Elijah who was only 5 years old at that time), but we managed to have a 4-hour guided tour of the St. Peter's Basilica, the various museums and all of the grounds on a super hot (at least 30 degrees Celsius) and sunny day. The architecture, the paintings and sculptures and the history that characterizes the Vatican is simply unique - so much history; a really unforgettable experience!

Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps --> A very busy place - my son and I loved especially the Fontana della Barcaccia or the boat fountain.

Coffee and Italian Cuisine

Italian coffee is really, really good - especially if you drink it black and without sugar. My husband and I enjoyed very much the coffee shops in Italy. Of course, we had coffee at famous places such as Caffè Sant'Eustachio and Antico Caffè Greco, but the reality is that coffee in Italy was always very good regardless of the place (especially true for coffee places in Rome).

I have always loved Italian food. So, I was particularly excited about the idea of trying Italian cuisine. One of our kids has celiac disease, so we limited ourselves to restaurants that offered gluten free options. Surprisingly, out of the three European countries that we visited during this trip, Italy offered the most, and more delicious, gluten free options. Although Italian cuisine is refined and diverse, we found that Italian food is also simple in terms of the number of ingredients that are used for a given dish. Like any tourist who visits Rome, I had to try "cacio e pepe" - the simplest, but delicious pasta ever! 

You know, Nelson Mandela once said:

 "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.  

In other words, show that you care for the culture you’re in, and the culture you’re in will care for you. These are very powerful words that I always take into consideration when traveling. When visiting Italy, I realize how proud I am of my Italian heritage...more exactly, my "Paganini" heritage. Thus, when visiting Rome, I did not hesitate in using the little Italian that I know. Talking with people in Italian helped me to connect emotionally with the places and the people that we met or saw during our trip.

I enjoyed immensely our time in Rome, everything was so special. I really, really hope that I will have the chance to return once again because 4 days in Rome was not enough. 

In my next letter, I will tell you about our visit to the fascinating city of Napoli.

Featured Post

Antlers for Dogs and Puppies