Sunset.

Crazy to realise how many things can change in such a short time.

A waterfall of emotions and frames that will be forever stuck in our minds – moments, instances, or a few brief minutes can change everything.

I do believe that everything changes constantly. The world is always moving, dynamic and nothing, including people, can stay the same. We change as we grow older. We improve and adapt. This is always happening, slowly, and without us realising it. But sometimes, it happens fast, in a second, as a window that suddenly opens up caught in an air current, slamming the doors, wind blowing shaking tree crown. Those times when you open your eyes and you are completely aware of whatever and wherever you are.

I have been traveling around the South Island of New Zealand for the past month and I can’t describe how many things have changed for me and how quickly its happened. Those moments appear like images in my mind and when I just close my eyes I can picture, so vividly, how I felt at that time. I let my consciousness flow in the deep darkness of what’s behind.

Epiphanies. They give such a clear understanding of where you need to go, who you need to become, and what you need to do. A deeply personal and intimate experience of a striking realisation. I’m not sure if I had realise something that changed my whole life in a second, but I lived those moments of a sudden understanding, that somehow made me comprehend a lot about what I truly want to do, and what I need to change in order to achieve it.

It’s not just about moments that brought me to some important conclusions. When I close my eyes I also visualise those flashes that made my day. Those times when I realised how lucky I am to be in this world, and I’m just staring and admiring what’s around me. I see a kiss, a gorgeous view, a friend catching my eye and smiling with her typical smile – moments that I’ve lived. There is times when I’m surrounded in a crowd of people, but I’m alone with myself, gazing at the happiness around me. I love to see people enjoying themselves, laughing, smiling and loving.

Its incredible how intense and vivid some memories can be. Each moment sits like its own sunset in my mind. Like a sunset, there is an explosion of colours – red yellow pink red orange, passionate colours that shine and sparkle on a blue and cold layer. Colours which allow you to see and feel exactly what you saw and how you felt at that particular moment in time. Colours that somehow penetrate our soul breaking into the darkness. Leaving an infinite beauty affiliated to those moments, standing out as if everything else is a black silhouette – a true protagonist of the scene. You see, sunsets are my favourite time of the day, which gives a beautiful irony to the fact that many of these moments in my mind are, in fact related to watching a beautiful sunset somewhere in the world. There is something more special and fascinating about that time of day. These flashbacks just as sunsets do, make up my soul, and are always changing something. They make me smile, but, at the same time, leave a feeling hard to comprehend. But they will never leave me, and just as a sunset repeats each day, they will play over and over again, forever giving me guidance and knowledge of what to do, and who I need to be and at the same time always changing something.

‘Sharing is caring’

I was eight years old when my mum told me I was going to have a brother, and from that moment I knew I was going to share my whole life with him. To be honest, I can remember that I wasn’t entirely happy when she told me – I even remember asking her if she could switch the little human with an elephant instead, as I had and have always liked elephants. Sadly, she informed me, due mainly to size problems, that it wouldn’t be possible. I, at the time, sadly had to accept that he was about to invade my life.

The first thing I found hard to comprehend was that I would no longer be the ‘only one’ for my mother. Other little things like the fact I would now have to share ‘my’ bedroom or the chocolate during Easter. In fact, one thing that I still am not over is when my beloved brother decided to break the Nintendo DS, that we were ‘sharing’, in front of my own eyes. I am 21 and he is now 13 but that broken console is still at the heart of many discussions. However, after my father decided to enlarge his family as well, with first my sister and then my youngest brother, I had to learn and spread that good old saying of “sharing is caring” – whilst always thinking about he fact I could have 3 elephants at this stage.

Being the eldest sibling I knew my parents expected me to set the example for my brothers and sister. I had no choice but to take on this responsibility and accept that the time when everything was about me, had come to an end. I think most people learn the art of sharing and caring for those around you through the relationship you have with your brothers and sisters. I always made sure that I found time to have my moments of quiet and peace, something that is possible in family dynamic. However, my latest experience, working and living with 50/70 people in a hostel in New Zealand’s beautiful north Island, has taught me a whole new system of sharing. You are forced to share everything – showers, pans, plates, forks, Netflix, TV, and bedrooms. In this environment sharing is key, much like within your family but, it becomes near impossible to find your moments of peace and privacy. This loss of privacy whilst sharing every aspect of my life has taught me more than I could ever imagine.

This hostel is where I have lived for the past year but it would be a lie if I told you I saw it as a home when I first arrived there. I was in complete disbelief that a massive, messed up, and different group of people could live amongst each other in such tight circumstances. How can so many, from so many different cultures and walks of life live in harmony? It didn’t take me long to find out their secret – food (and I’m not just saying this because I’m Italian, I promise). Food was the first thing that made me realise that living amongst so many people is possible. Each day I would walk into the kitchen where about 20 people would be cooking, all at the same time, and each day everyone would ask me whether I wanted to try their amazing food. Sometimes I was hesitant like when someone offered me spaghetti with chicken involved – I’m sorry, but from where I’m from, that’s just not right. Most of the time it’s worth giving it a shot (but seriously, not spaghetti with chicken… what were you thinking?). The thing is, in the hostel, once you had begun to share with one another, whether it be food or anything else, a kind of bond begins to form. Where more and more you share with each other. This creates the community and the family, even when it involves up to 70 of you. I never thought a place like this could give you a feeling of family, but with sharing at the heart of it, I can now say that I felt completely at home whilst I was there.

I asked one of my friends what he thinks about sharing. He simply replied: there is no such thing as saying it is bad or good, because it is a natural human need. I couldn’t agree more with him.

Sharing what we do, what we think, who we are, and even what we cook is positive for the mind, and for whoever is around us. Sometimes it allows us to learn so much and there is no better feeling that sharing with someone who does not expect it. You can see the sparkle in the eye and happiness over power. And no matter how you are feeling, you can also feel happiness inside. That’s the beautiful thing about happiness, it’s amazing if it is yours or not.

This year I have shared so much. Not just physical objects but my thoughts and my feelings. And it has taught me so much and made me a better person. Everyone should learn to share more.

So go and share everything.

Share hugs, and smiles and music. Share how you feel, your fears and what makes you proud of yourself. Share a sunny day at the beach, building the biggest sand castle you could ever think of, and share the rainy days you spend on a cozy couch, eating junk food and watching Netflix. Share your experiences and most important – share love. Because this world and everyone in it needs it. We need to discover again the simplicity of gratitude, delights for the smaller things in life. Sharing can turn what may seem irrelevant into something significant and this will help us find again what we are missing the most in our lives. You see, sharing is at the heart of what makes a family great, and it’s what is at the heart of how to make a group of people feel like a family. It’s sharing that allows wherever you are in the world to feel like a home. So share everything, just not spaghetti with chicken in.

Alice.

Family.

Family is a big concept, and everyone has for sure is own musing about it. To me family has a big meaning. I never had the family, mother and father together, having breakfast unitedly on a Sunday morning as in the television advertisement for a biscuit brand; but since I was very little I started living my special reality with my mum and my stepfather one side and my dad, and later on his girlfriend. I’m not gonna lie, at the beginning was hard, not really understanding what was going on and the feeling that something was missing, a lack in my life that every other child didn’t have to face (at least to my eyes), that got worse when my brother was born. Being too young to understand and feeling unable to find a solution to change it made me feel as if the world was against me. Nothing was missing in my life though, I always have been loved and I was able to afford what every other child of my age was doing, sometimes maybe a bit less because my parents were never really wealthy.

The thing that I could realise just with time (precisely at the end of my teenage, the years when everyone is mad at all their relatives for no apparent reason) was the fact that having a bigger family, maybe different from the traditional standards is not as bad as I pictured in my mind, actually is pretty cool having so many people you can trust and rely on the worst times, or when I needed a good advise. Finding a connection is definitely the thing that made me understand that I’m part of my family and I can share so much with them if I want to, without being judge, because as they are part of me, they can relate my way of thinking and some of my experiences to what they lived before. It’s all about this connection that is not easy to create sometimes.

What traveling and my life in New Zealand taught me on the other side is a bigger conception of family, that I could realise growing wiser and digging deeper in myself and thanks to some relationships I create with the people around me: those I’m able to call solid friendships, even more than some I have in my home country, in such a short time. To clarify my point the connection that I’m talking about appears to me as an invisible string that link people for some reasons, and I know I had it because I could easily be able to be myself with them, not afraid of telling even the weirdest stories of my life, the ones that sometimes I felt like hiding from everyone because I was afraid of being deride. Sometimes it was about sharing the same insecurities, the same will of running away from home and not really feeling part of the reality we were born in. Those people I had my connection with are the ones I knew I could always rely on, don’t matter what, I knew that they were not fake with me but it was, it is and will be a give-and-take real relationship. And that’s on conclusion is what me realise that those are not just simple friendships, but as we were living all together, it was more like a family.

Family to me now is of course my mum, my dad and his partner, my stepdad and his wife and all my siblings, but is also the people I’ve met that as my related, they taught me so much, they gave me the possibility of expressing myself without censor and as a proper family they were with my in my darkest time.

I do hope everyone could find this in life, being lucky enough to meet this people that even though they grow up in a completely different situation, another country, used to others traditions, can be part of yourself.

Alice