Life in Italy: So Far, So Good

[This post may contain affiliate links.]

Hey lovelies! 

In today's post I want to talk a little bit about adjusting to Italy. What else do you want to hear about Life in Italy? Leave a comment below!  

Like this post? Share it with your friends! Click To Tweet

So firstly, my anxiety was at an all time high in London. I think I'm starting to believe that different cities mesh with different personalities. When I visited Amsterdam I was completely relaxed (and not just for obvious reasons) but also because the people that live there genuinely seem content. I saw a guy leaving his house one morning...with a smile on his face. It's not a common thing to see in London so I was shocked.

I hate to admit it, but London doesn't vibe with my personality. I guess I needed to live there to truly understand that. I still have trouble accepting it since I was obsessed with living in London for years. But the truth is - it really is a great city - to visit but living there is a whole other story.

After finishing my Postgrad degree in London I struggled to find a job in the film/tv industry. The industry is smaller and far behind what we're doing content-wise in the states therefore people were less willing to be supportive, share information, collaborate. People were also less willing to recognize my previous work experience, which was disheartening. 

During a job interview, the woman whom I was interviewing to work for gazed at my resume and said she felt like, "based on my resume I was overqualified for the position" (I was overqualified for the position). Then she added, "At the same time, you're so relaxed right now that it makes me question whether you'd be competent at this job." Yes. She. Said. That.

It was crazy coming from a woman to whom I'd had to explain what a Masters Degree was and who'd admitted she didn't even have an undergraduate degree. Shocking, really. I didn't even wait for her to not hire me. I withdrew my application via email later on that day. Even if she had hired me there was no way I would've been able to tolerate her British Becky-ing on a daily basis. 

By the time I'd resigned myself to working at a burger restaurant for the Holiday season and had endured sexual harassment from the manager who'd hired me with, "reservations" (apparently you need a Phd to be a waitress in London) I was so ready to leave London.

Grab a bargain Summer Fares to top cities nationwide. Get $15 off with promo code DEAL15. Book Now!

Fortunately, my husband had been feeling the same way. One evening we got to talking about moving to Italy. I was nervous because I didn't know the language and I worried about finding work here too. But then I thought, "Anything's got to be better than my current situation." We agreed that if an opportunity presented itself we would move to Italy and leave London behind. 

The Law of Attraction is a serious thing.

As soon as we spoke those words we breathed life into that reality. A month later a job opportunity presented itself for my husband. Less than six months later we were moved into our new place in Italy.

I've mentioned on my Instagram how much more chill the vibe is here. So my anxiety is so much better. I was also able to get work pretty much right away. It's all about timing. I happened to join a Facebook group and there was an opportunity. So easy, so simple. 

I'm starting an Italian course next week so (hopefully) pretty soon I'll be more confident about speaking with other people and perhaps I'll start making new contacts or (dare I say it) friends. 

It's only been a few months but so far, so good.

That's not to say there aren't drawbacks. There are. For instance, things don't get done when you want or need them to get done. If you need to see a doctor or send a package or apply for residency you have to have a LOT of patience.

The one awesome thing about London (besides the free museums, public transpo and free healthcare) is that it was so easy to get things done. As long as you came prepared with all your documents, had all your ducks in a row, crossed every T and dotted every I - you could pretty much be successful in all your errand endeavours. The massive drawback with the efficiency of London is that everyone is so busy trying to be cheeky and miserable that they make human interaction utterly dismal.

*Take that with a grain of salt, people, please remember I suffer from anxiety and also my experiences won't be the same as yours. But my experiences are valid. 

We are slowly getting settled here. We've already found our favourite spots including a take-away restaurant, an apertivo spot, a casual restaurant with the most amazing beers and burgers and an amazing homestyle Italian restaurant with the most delicious risotto I've had to date. 

 

On the weekends, we have date nights, we do the shopping for the week, we travel to Milan or other nearby areas and we have brunch with the in-laws. Weekends are lovely.

We are also slowly decorating the new place, trying to make it home. I've recently gotten back into DIY projects so I've got several small projects in the works. The new place has space for an office, which my husband and I share. We're still in the process of decorating it, although we have two very distinct styles. 

I'm looking to make my corner of the office space cozy and tranquil so I'm looking to fill the walls with word inspiration, a vision board and photos. I also want to get candles, lights and right now I'm obsessed with making the bookshelves look organized but stylish. 


We also recently adopted a baby kitten called Gatto Paul. He's about 4 months now. He's a gray and white striped European Shorthair and he has stolen our hearts. To the point where I've actually started an Instagram for Gatto Paul! Follow his shenanigans here ----> http://Instagram.com/IamGattoPaul.

We love shopping for Gatto Paul too! He's going to be the most spoiled kitty come Christmas! Honestly, I'm more excited about buying cat furniture than I was about buying new furniture for the house. That's Love!

I think the best part about living here (besides having access to all the amazing wine!) is that my anxiety isn't as bad. When I do feel overwhelmed I have the time and space to really sort through my feelings and get through the bad patches. 

I don't know what new adventures are to come but I am in a good place. 

I'm happy.

Ciao for now, 

That Former Sidekick Girl x

Happy National Boss’s Day!

In honour of National Boss’s Day I’m sharing this post written by Lauren Smith Brody author of: “The Fifth Trimester: The Working Mom’s Guide to Style, Sanity, and Big Success After Baby.” Lauren has partnered with Total Wireless to share her tips on being a Boss Mom and I’m passing on the goods to you. Enjoy!

CELEBRATE BOSS MOMS THIS NATIONAL BOSS’S DAY

By Lauren Smith Brody

Did you know that today (October 16) is National Boss’s Day? Here’s my take: The bosses who should be celebrated with the most cupcakes and flowers today are Boss Moms—working moms who do it all and get it done at all hours of the day, and with only a fraction of that time rewarded with an actual paycheck. In fact, according to a recent survey by Total Wireless, 95 percent of moms say that the most stressful part of being a working mom is the pressure to juggle work and family responsibilities to perfection. Do they always get it done without ever losing their cool? Au contraire, ma mere.

In my version of this national holiday, being a Boss Mom means you bless the mess, celebrate the journey that got you to where you are today and realize that a satisfied life is rarely a balanced one…but a happy one. That’s why I’m teaming up with Total Wireless to celebrate Boss Moms and how they do it all on National Boss’s day and beyond.

1) LEARN THIS TERM: “MENTAL LOAD.” The mental load is the reason that I know how many eggs are in our fridge right now and how high the temperature has to be in order for my boys to be allowed to wear shorts to school (love that dress code). It is also the reason that I occasionally forget to sign a check that I put in the mail (thank you, payment apps for helping me out here). The mental load is the labor we do in our minds keeping track of 1,273,038 things even when we aren’t technically working or parenting. And that work deserves to be acknowledged.

2) HOLD THE JUDGEMENT, PLEASE. Here’s something wonderful about 2017 (an otherwise complicated year, to say the least): We are officially no longer living in a society where it is socially appropriate for working moms to judge stay-at-home moms, and vice versa. I’ve interviewed hundreds of moms for my book and company, and the general consensus was this: We are all just doing our best to raise the next generation. And yet, so many mothers still admitted to judging themselves. Enough, I say! According to the same survey by Total Wireless, 95 percent of moms know that the journey to success hinges on having the confidence to make the necessary choices…and often those choices include sacrifice. Do not feel guilty. Instead, celebrate your accomplishments. It’s all part of the journey of satisfaction we’re modeling for our kids.

3) SKIP SOMETHING. Want to know the best feeling in the world (better than the candle-lit bubble bath you’ve been meaning to take for three years now)? Open up your calendar and delete one thing from next week. Here, I’ll even give you your excuse: “I’m looking ahead and realizing I’ve overscheduled myself for next week. Let’s please cancel/move our lunch/meeting/obligation/endeavor/commitment.” Another option if it’s something you can’t miss entirely: Downgrade an in-person meet-up to a phone call. Everyone’s more efficient that way, and you can order groceries online at the same time if needed.

4) CALL YOUR OWN BOSS MOM. Better yet, FaceTime her (because you know she won’t mind if you’re not wearing any makeup…or if you have to leave her staring at the ceiling while you attend to the 2-year-old’s bloody nose). Whether your mom worked out of the home or not, the list of skills you learned from her is surely long and mighty. (The same survey I reference above found more than half of working women consider their own moms the ultimate “total boss.”) Did she teach you to drive (thus ensuring you can do that last conference call of the day while in the privacy of your own car)? Did she force you and your sister to “work it out between you two” (and give you team-building skills that you use to this day?). It’s vital to acknowledge that stuff, not just because it makes her feel appreciated…but because it makes you realize how much wisdom you’re imparting to your own kids that they’ll use one day. Oh, tell your mom that part too!

This National Boss’s Day, join me and Total Wireless in celebrating working moms for everything they’ve accomplished—including the choices and sacrifices they’ve made to get where they are today.

With great coverage on America’s largest and most dependable 4G LTE† network, Total Wireless gives you the confidence to plan and celebrate the ‘total boss’ mom in your life—all from the palm of your hand with your smartphone. Learn more at TotalWireless.com.

Lauren Smith Brody is the founder of The Fifth Trimester movement to help businesses and families improve workplace culture together; she is the author of the best-selling book, The Fifth Trimester: The Working Mom’s Guide to Style, Sanity, and Big Success After Baby. Prior to launching her own business, Lauren had a 16-year career in magazine publishing, most recently as the executive editor of Glamour magazine. She’s partnering with Total Wireless to share her Total Boss Mom strategies—hectic schedule, two little boys, messy home, and all. Check out TotalWireless.com to learn more about the latest phones and the best deal in wireless.

*The 30-Day cycle for Shared Data Family Plans begins on the day the first line/device is activated. Any line(s)/device(s) activated later in the first 30-Day cycle will receive only the number of days remaining in that cycle. A month equals 30 days.
†To get 4G LTE speed where available you must have a 4G LTE capable device and a 4G LTE SIM card. Actual availability, coverage and speed may vary. LTE is a trademark of ETSI. Please always refer to the latest terms and conditions of service at TotalWireless.com.

This survey was commissioned by Total Wireless and conducted by Survata, an independent research firm in San Francisco. Survata interviewed 1,069 online respondents between September 29, 2017 and October 4, 2017. For further information, visit www.survata.com.

I’d be a better writer if I listened to better music.

I've never had good taste in music.

I'm not being self-deprecating, it's true. I mostly listened to Gospel music growing up (not always by choice) and as I've never been a die hard fan of any music artists (except for Alicia Keys and I was recently re-inducted into the Beyhive. But that's another story) I don't really follow the music scene. Therefore, I listen to whatever's popular.

So my taste in music has always been questionable.

It's not that music isn't important to me. I sang in choirs in high school and won a couple of vocal competitions. I played the trombone and clarinet and was in the marching band. I studied musical theatre. I'm obsessed with Broadway songs! I love music. But I would never volunteer to share my Spotify playlist at parties or on car rides because I know - I know - ain't nobody gon' like my mishmash of eclectic tunes.

There's literally no organization to my playlists. It randomly ranges from Nina Simone's "Ne me quit de pas" to Beyonce's "Rocket" with anything from Katy Perry, Cold Play, The Chainsmokers and Shawn Mendes in between.

My taste in music is all over the place.

And I think my writing suffers because of it.

Lemme explain.

I was up late one night doing some writing. Well trying to but, of course, I was having trouble. I'd put Spotify on 'Discover Weekly' and this song comes on...and all of a sudden I can't move. I'm frozen - like, no joke, my body randomly went into rigormortis. It was as if the song had put some kind of spell on me. It felt like actual sound waves were physically coming out of the speakers and wrapping around my body, holding me in place.

I literally wasn't able to move until the song ended.

When the last strains of the guitar faded out I opened up the Spotify window and looked up the song, intending to save it to my library. The artist was Bibi Bourelly and the song was called "Poet." Bibi's voice is "hauntingly beautiful," but it was the lyrics that really had me transfixed.

"You're like a poet

and every time you say my name

it sounds like the ocean.

Lost in the middle

you're like a riddle

and when I look inside your eyes

you make me feel so little."

Something about these lyrics really got my creative juices flowing and suddenly the words I'd been grasping for came to me in a rush and I was able to write. Like, that song seriously unlocked something in me using the key hidden under the matt, came inside, fixed itself a sandwich and curled up on the couch to watch Wendy Williams. The song got under my skin is what I'm trying to say. 

 

LipstickQueen Week25 Free Delivery Over $30 GIF 120x90

It's not the first time something like this has happened but it's been awhile. Music doesn't usually have this kind of effect on me. Normally, if I like a tune I'll nod my head to the beat, maybe dance a little. If it's a Nicki Minaj song, I'll memorize the lyrics and dress up as Nicki for Halloween. If it's anything from "Lemonade" I'll do a parody of the song for Youtube. If it's Taylor Swift I'll turn it off.

 

That's about the extent of my reactions to music.

Like this post? Tweet it now! Click To Tweet

But every once in awhile I'll get lucky and come upon a song that seduces me, gets under my skin, makes me really explore my thoughts and access my emotions.

It's nice when that happens. I'd like it to happen more often. Maybe it could if I listened to better music. In fact, I'm going to make an effort to seek out new music by artists I don't know very well and see if I can get an inspiration fix on a regular basis. Check out this playlist I put together for Writing Inspiration. Let me know if you like any of the songs.

15% Off Easy Costume Kits via TrendyHalloween.com

Open in Spotify

"Poet" is 5th on the list. Have you heard of this artist or song? What do you think of it? Am I hyping it up too much?

Ciao for now,

Get 10% off your first order

3 Easy But-Kind-of-Obscure Halloween Costume Ideas

[This post contains Affiliate Links]

If you know me then you know I LOVE dressing up for Halloween. I love going to Halloween parties, I loved going to the parades in New York and LA. I love guessing other people's costumes. I love the candy. Did I mention I LOVE the parties?

Even though people in London and Italy don't take Halloween as seriously as we do in the States, my love for (most) things Halloween has never dwindled. The only time I get a little wary about Halloween is when people dress in Black Face or participate in Cultural Appropriation and try to act like we should be flattered by that. Other than that nonsense I truly enjoy Halloween.

 

Anyway, we've decided to have a Halloween party in the new place. It will be kind of a housewarming party since we haven't officially had that yet - though we have hosted a few apertivos.

I'm asking (strongly suggesting) that our guests wear costumes. I don't know if anyone will actually heed my (very strong) suggestion but I hope they'll be good sports and join in the Halloween fun. I certainly intend to!

I love to see other people dress up in elaborate costumes. There have been some great costumes over the years but for me it's more about the creativity and working with what you have. I don't enjoy breaking the bank for a Halloween costume and I'm not all that great at DIY. So I have to use my imagination and simplify.

Here are 3 Easy but somewhat obscure costume ideas that won't cost much time or money to created.

Fancy dress and sexy costumes at Lovehoney.com!

Natalie Portman - Black Swan

Your choice. You can either dress as Natalie Portman as the Black Swan or you can dress as Natalie Portman in Black Swan. 

Natalie Portman as the Black Swan consists of white make-up, black eye shadow/eyeliner and a black corset/leotard/tutu combination. You can add black feathers to make it more like the costume in the movie and if you're so inclined, wear nude or pink tights and grab some ballet slippers.

I love this idea because it's sexy without being obvious and everyone looks great in tights.

Plus you don't have to wear heels, score!

Natalie Portman in Black Swan is a very simple ensemble. It's basically Natalie Portman's character's go-to outfits throughout the film. My favourite outfit is from one of the scenes where she's wearing a grey sweatshirt, pink scarf, pink sweatpants and cozy boots. I think she's also wearing a pink bodysuit so if you want a bit more colour feel free to add the bodysuit!

This costume is perfect if you don't feel like wearing a bunch of make-up to a Halloween party. Just throw on this outfit and let your friends marvel at your ingenuity.

Like these ideas? Click here to share with your friends!Click To Tweet

2. Olivia Pope - Scandal

If you watch the Shonda Rhimes created TV series starring Kerry Washington then you probably already know where I'm going with this.

Yup. Giant wine glass. 


See if you can find the most ridiculously giant wine glass, feel free to actually use it to drink your red wine (or beverage of your choice) at the Halloween party.

Combine it with a giant, cozy blanket OR simply wear a comfortable yet stylish sweater. Make sure your hair and make-up are on point and boom, your costume is Olivia Pope at home watching TV on her awesome couch.

You could also be Olivia Pope at work if you feel inclined to rock a powersuit and heels. Dress like a gladiator, again make sure your hair and make-up are on point. Don't forget your matching  giant handbag and white hat.

At the party, only speak to the other party guests in long, passionate monologues, remembering to repeat many of the same sentences until you drive home the point that "You have half a life" and "It's handled." Then tell them to call you "Sweet Baby." This costume could actually win prizes!

Shop HalloweenCostumes.com

3. Apollonia / Raspberry Beret

You guys know Apollonia? Apollonia 6? Purple Rain? Prince? OK I think we're on the same page now.

I was listening to "Raspberry Beret" recently and I thought, "I should dress as the woman he's talking about int this song." So I watched the music video (for the first time) and sadly learned that the images of the woman were animated and probably wouldn't be a recognizeable costume anyway.

I'm cool with obscurity but that was a bit much. I'd spend most of the night first explaining my costume then explaining why I'd chosen such a random costume and then finally explaining where I'd purchased the raspberry beret. Depending on the party, I might even have to explain who Prince was and play the damn song on my Spotify all night. Too much work.

Open in Spotify

But I wasn't quite ready to give up on the idea. I researched the song a bit and discovered that it's believed to be based on Apollonia or at least inspired by her or in some way referencing the sex scene between The Kid and Apollonia in "Purple Rain." This isn't conclusive but was enough to keep me inspired.

I looked up some images of Apollonia and thought why not combine the two? Just get yourself a raspberry colored beret. So easy.


And to get that Apolonia vibe get yourself a black bodysuit. It can be sexy or modest. Personally, as I'm a grown woman I think I'll lean toward a sexier look. But you do you, boo.

Depending on the weather and the style of bodysuit you may need to add a black cape or a feather boa - do what makes you feel good!

Complete the look with dramatic eye make up, big feathered hair (wigs might be the way to go). Throw on some fishnets and your choice of black boots and boom, you're Apollonia wearing a raspberry beret.

Your friends will seriously worship the ground you walk on.

Which of these costume ideas do you like? How many Halloween party invites have you gotten so far? Can you think of any other obscure costume ideas? Or movie/music video references that might make good costumes? I haven't quite decided what I want to be but I'll definitely post pics to my Instagram when I get my costume together.

Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a very happy and safe Halloween.

Ciao for now,

 

Who Are You Becoming?

"Who are you becoming, Dawn?" 

The 10 minute message came through Whatsapp  about an hour after it'd been sent it and I decided to take a break from housework to have a listen.

As I relax on the bed and press play to hear the message, my gaze lands on the oversized exposed lightbulb hanging over the bed. It's the kind of bulb that looks like it would appear in a cartoon thought bubble after someone gets an idea or has an 'aha' moment. It's cute and surprisingly perfect for our new minimalist bedroom.

We'd hastily chosen it because we hadn't been able to agree on a light fixture and the additional - ahem - input - from the in-laws was adding pressure to the already tedious task. So we'd just grabbed it as a placeholder with the intention of going back to the store for a more suitable light at a later time. But as soon as we'd installed this random light bulb we knew it was here to stay. It was just perfect.

It's happy accidents like that that make me smile.

So I'm staring up at the lightbulb with a smile on my face listening to this voice message when this question comes up and snaps me back to reality. 

Who am I becoming?

I'm shocked as I realize I don't have an immediate answer. My mind was actually blank. In fact, one of my favorite movies, "Back to the Future" pops into my head and I start thinking about the scene where Marty is playing the guitar and he looks at this picture of himself and his siblings and he's slowly disappearing. That's how I imagined I must look to the rest of world - like I'm disappearing. Because if I'm not who I used to be, a sidekick girl, then who am I?

Hmmmmm...

I continue to ponder the words long after the message ends. "Who are you becoming?" A light breeze blows through the open window and I watch the lightbulb swing gently back and forth like a pendulum.

Who. Swing. Are. Swing. You. Swing. Becoming. Swing. Swing. Swing.

And finally a quiet voice whispers, "I don't know."

I'm definitely not a sidekick girl anymore. I say I'm a Former Sidekick Girl. But if I'm being honest (and I truly hate to admit this) he's right when he says that by calling myself a Former Sidekick Girl I'm still attached to that sidekick girl story. And...I don't want that story to continue.

I want a new story.

I want to write a new story that's completely separate from that sidekick girl.

But who am I becoming?

Such a simple question yet I'm at a complete loss for words. I'd never given much thought to it other than calling myself a Leading Lady, it's a question that requires a lot of reflection before I can come up with an answer. 

The wheels are turning though. 

You know you're in good company when said company inquires about your character, your core values and concerns themselves with your personal development. I'm finally starting to understand the importance of Tribes and Squads. You need a power circle of people who inspire you to grow and encourage you to take a long, hard look at yourself. I'm taking a long, hard look at myself now.

I might have an idea of who I'm becoming.

It's not fleshed out quite yet. She's not fully formed but I can see shades of her. Of the person I am becoming.

I am becoming someone who is more responsible with my time, my money, my friendships and relationships.

I am becoming more secure and confident.

I am becoming someone who practices self-love and is adopting a Carefree Black Girl mentality and lifestyle.

I am becoming more comfortable with being alone and with being my own best friend.

What else?

I don't have all the answers right now but that's a start. 

What about you? Do you think about this kind of stuff? Do you have a tribe or squad to turn to for these types of discussions? Who are you becoming?

Ciao for now,   

I’m Back! And I’m Still a (Former) Sidekick Girl

Hi. I'm Dawn Melissa,

And I went away for awhile but I'm back.  

This blog, like me, has done a lot of migrating over the years! It's gone from WordPress to Blogger to Wix to Weebly and even Tumblr. Now it seems That Former Sidekick Girl has come full circle - back to WordPress.

I've also done a lot of moving around! I left Los Angeles and moved to London. I also got married. Now I'm living in Italy and drinking Limoncello every night. I've managed to do a bit of traveling and I've seen a few amazing places including Barcelona, Amsterdam & Prague. I haven't been everywhere but it's on my list. 

I'm not the only one who's undergone a myriad of changes. I'm still in shock at the sad current state of affairs - especially in the States. But along with the horrible agent orange there's been a silver lining of good happening in the world. 

When I left WordPress I was confused, angry and emotional. I was a sidekick girl and I thought  - I thought - I was the only one. I'd been lead to believe that it was all in my imagination or it was my own low self-esteem that created this "sidekick girl" mentality.

I was called a racist for pointing out that the POC in films and on TV were always the sidekicks while the lead actors were always white. That shook me. I didn't want to be racist. I stopped being as vocal about it - but didn't stop being angry.

It turns out a lot of Black girls felt the same way.

Except they were brave enough to stand their ground. Thanks to them we have awesome hashtags like #BlackGirlMagic and #CarefreeBlackGirl to remind us that we are #Queens. Yes, others may appropriate but we are the innovators and creators. I love that we're connecting and building each other up more through social media. If feels so good to look at my Instagram feed and see an beautiful Black women just being magical. 

We also have new terminology to help us (Black Women) articulate our points when we stumble into these unfortunate encounters with YT women. I didn't invent any of them but I'm happy to add them to my lexicon because they make it all so clear in my head.

From white women "white womening" whenever Black Women get any type of praise or accolades to the '5 Types of Becky,' I feel like I can finally - FINALLY - put a label on the crazy situations I've been in with white women. And I have a new understanding of why I received the reactions I got when I first started this blog.

Shout out to Black Women just because!

I had to come back to That Former Sidekick Girl after all that. Not only because I have so many stories I want to share but also as a Former sidekick girl I am transitioning from supporting character to Leading Lady, stepping into the spotlight and telling my own stories.

I'd been discouraged by the lack of support from friends and by the white people who kept trying to tell me to "get the chip off my shoulder" and "racism doesn't exist" and other bullsh*t. I literally almost gave up.

But that's the thing about being magical, being melanated - being LIT - we never quit. We never give up. Our fire never dies. We keep falling but we keep getting back up. We fix OUR crowns and we get back to work.

Then we say 'Thank You' to everyone who tried to discourage us, tried to put us in our place, tried to shame us. Because they kept us motivated and determined.

They brought me right back here - back home.

I'm so happy to be here.

Ciao for now,