Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Wake up! Interview with the Miserable Man

On a cloudy English day that makes you feel a bit sad, you might finally decide to walk randomly through the street of Norwich city centre. If you are lucky you might be captured with a joyful and energetic reggae that makes your feet move without control. The Miserable Man is busking in the street: trumpets and drums come from his mouth while he beats the time with the guitar and the tambour beneath his foot. His voice warms up the air and his music moves the clouds away.

Filippo Masè, or Miserable Man, believes in the power of dreams but, as he explains, what really matters is “to wake up” and start to act in order to turn dreams into reality. He is Italian and plays in the street for happy and sad people, for children, for rich and for poor, from city to city, from Europe to Asia. He lives his life with joy just doing what he really loves: playing and travelling.

Sometimes dreams are only few steps away from you, but you need a bit of courage to move forward, maybe just some words, some music or someone else’s example.

AL: What did you dream about when you were a kid?  

MM: When I was a very young boy I used to live with my grandmother most of the time. She was helping missionaries in Africa and South America so we used to receive their publication magazines. At that time I had two dreams: I wanted to breed dogs and I wanted to be a missionary. I had the idea of myself in villages with lots of kids (I love kids). Moreover, as my grandfather was sailing in the 50s in Africa and Asia, I had images of Java, Singapore, Hong Kong, and India so I grew up with these memories in my mind and, maybe without being very conscious, I started to work to make my dreams come true. Nowadays I think that in a way I am a missionary with my guitar and I am in the process of the realization of my dream.

AL: Was playing around the world the dream you wanted to realize? 

MM: In the past I used to do lots of boring jobs and I never really had dreams. I wanted to play music and I always played. Maybe if I had a dream it was to be able to have a band, maybe a typical job in a café in order to go on a six months tour later, in a very American style. In Italy you can’t do that. If you leave a job when you are around 30 or something you are going to be “in the box”. When I started busking three years ago, it was because I had nothing left. I lost my job and my friend Richie, who was in Norwich, told me to come here.  I remember I sent him an email saying that I had no money, I had lost my job, the Police got my Vespa and I was left with little money. Winter was coming and I was a gardener so there was no work. At that time I actually thought about my grandfather and more in general about all the people that emigrated to Russia, Germany, America. I remember thinking: “This is the perfect moment. You can turn this bad luck into an opportunity”. I think you get power when you don’t have anything to lose and so I came here in Norwich. 

AL: Could you tell me anything about your first step toward the realization of your dream? 

MM: For ten years I used to work, save money and travel. One year before I came here I was in Indonesia, and I remember I was having a really good time playing ukulele on the beach. I was thinking: “There must be a way to do this for living, being in a nice place where people want to have fun, enjoy the nature and be involved in the environment”. Sometimes you have to visualize things because this is the way things come true. So I had a very clear picture of me playing and now I play in Bali, Malaysia, Thailand, Italy, and I think I play a kind of music which is perfect  for the places I want to be in: beaches,  holiday and tropical places. 

AL: Did anything happen or did you meet anyone who gave you hope to realize your dream? 

MM: My ex-girlfriend has been very important because she believed in me and pushed me towards the realization of my dreams. Also my friend Richie has been a very important piece of the puzzle. I met him while travelling in India and he has been the person who technically made this possible because he encouraged me by saying: “Come to Norwich, I will give you a place to stay, free of charge.” I would say that nowadays everybody helps me: all the people who follow me on Facebook, the people who buy my cd, those ones who give me work… People who support me in any way are the people who contribute to keep my dream alive.  

AL: When did you first play in the street? 

The first time I played guitar in the street I was very young and it was 1996, during a holiday in Greece. I was playing guitar for beer money. I never thought I could do it. When I came here I remember spending one week locked in Richie’s house, completely terrified, I was like: “No, I can’t do it”.  I remember Richie showing me the habitat and saying: “You know, if you want to make some money, that’s the place!” And I remember feeling like my legs were shaking, but there was a voice in my head saying: “Man, you are going to go on, you carry on. Go through!” So a week after I was busking with Jade (a local singer and writer) for the first time. We made 18 pounds and I gave her all the money because she needed to buy new socks. And there was my first real busking day. And I remember in Italy, before leaving, telling to myself: “You are scared but the first time someone will throw a pound coin in your case, it will help your confidence.”  And so it was! I remember a woman throwing 2 pound coins in my case. I was playing Wish you were here in an original reggae version and she said: “Very interesting version!” And I was really happy because she not only enjoyed the song but she also recognized that was a Pink Floyd song.  

AL: Why did you choose the name Miserable Man? 

MM: I don’t know technically how it came to my mind, but in Italian “Miserabile” is more like pitiful, something that has to do with God, living life, being humble. That was my idea at the beginning. And maybe it reflects in my life style: I still wear the 70s old school shoes, and I follow my grandmother’s advice. Then I also had hard times in my life, so probably Miserable Man was a name to say: “Why do I have to hide the pain, why pretending to always be happy?” I’m not always happy. I’m happy when I play. When I play music, I make people happy and this makes me feel happy.

AL: What kind of music are you inspired by?

MM: A lot of different stuff: African, Jamaican, Latin, Cuban, Indian and Arabian, lot of world music. Then I love pop. I like to be able to write songs that are easy to catch for people.  I was also influenced by people such as Tracy Chapman for the acoustic guitar, and the Police because they made good melodies and basically for the way white people were playing in a very black way. They were able to play black people music for a wide audience and this is what I am doing. I take Reggae, Ska, Calypso, Soul, Funk, Jazz and Blues and I filtered it to my way. I’ve also been inspired by grunge and alternative rock of the 90s maybe. 

AL: How can a dreamer become the Miserable Man? 

MM: When people tell me: “Ah your life is like a dream” I always tell them: “Well, it is a dream if you still sleep; but I’m awake now, so it’s not a dream anymore! I don’t need to dream now. I was dreaming when I was working in factories or doing gardening and hard jobs. Maybe I was more miserable then than now. I keep doing what I like and I work hard and I don’t really have the time to dream. Of course I have ideas but I try to be very practical. I think the key is stop being afraid, have confidence in yourself and in the universe and follow what you like because this is the only way you can be yourself. I think the only secret of my success is doing what comes naturally to me. I can play at weddings, in the street, in a bar. For me it is the same. So dreaming is a very functional thing. 

AL: What are you dreaming about in this period of your life? 

MM: Sometimes I dream about not having to play gigs and just busking all the time in order to not have responsibility. The dream of being a Miserable Man Is a dream of a world where I can go and play everywhere simply setting up my amplifier and I don’t get crazy because an airline wants to charge me 200 dollars for my guitar on board. So the reality makes me dream about a world where I can just do music, playing for people, getting some money day by day, but the reality is planning a little bit for the future and invest some money for the business side of my work. My dream is playing in the street, making some money and seeing that people are happy with my music and children are smiling. I would do it every day of my life. 

AL: What are your future plans? 

MM: To be able to stay independent and reach a big audience. I‘d be happy if I could play in all the beautiful places where I want to go to. I’d be happy if I could have the time to organize myself in a way that I can be free, independent, efficient and organized. This is possible but it takes a lot of work. My plans are to keep working with the connections I have so far in Italy, England, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand to reach a wider audience and going where I can go. I also would love to have a band. 

AL: Do you think are we able to realize all our dreams as humans?

MM: Potentially we can do everything. The problem is that we sleep, we believe what all the news reports say, we watch TV, we eat crap food, we give too much importance to money, business position, what family and friends say. The reality is that no one really gives a shit about your life, apart from you. So definitely we can realize our dreams but it is all about trust, faith and hope. I know it sounds very hippie but it really works. Moreover it’s about a very fine balance between understanding what type of energy you can develop and how you can reach the world. Each one of us has different ways: you can be a musician, a painter, a writer, a cook, a sailor. The first thing you can do is to understand what you can do for yourself and for the world and then find a way to do it. At that point I think half of the job is done. 

AL: Would you like to give any advice to all those people who have dreams?

MM: Stop dreaming, wake up! If you dream too much this means you are sleeping too much. It’s all right if you are dreaming, but if you are awake dreams are worth much more. You should be very honest with yourself and focus on what your fears are because fear is the main obstacle in people’s realization so get rid of cultural conditioning: what your family thinks, what your friends think, what your culture thinks. This is you and this is your life to experience and you will die. This life is short and you have to understand it and if you are not afraid of living, then you are not afraid of dying and then you can start living your dreams. But if you don‘t get to this stage you will keep dreaming while sleeping.  

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Me as you

Probably you are suffering in this moment: probably you lost someone in your family, you have cancer, you are suffering from anger, you are feeling the lack of love, or you are depressed, you had an abortion, you were abused when you were young, your relationship with your partner or your best friend has ended…or maybe you just hate your job, you miss home, your mind is always in the mode of “being sad”. Maybe some feelings are worse than others; maybe you hate the world and yourself, God and all the life around you. What does it matter? Suffering is suffering.  And you suffer, as I do. Probably you suffer more than me and there are other people who suffer more than you and others more and more… It doesn’t matter how and for what you are suffering. Just assume that suffering is part of life. As a human being I’m often unhappy, sad and scared. I judge and I feel judged, I cause pain in other people and I receive the same. I could beat my head against the wall time and time again until I finally realize that some things have to go in a direction and I can’t do anything to change them. With all my effort I will fail. And I will suffer.  Simply because I’m under this sky and I’m not perfect at all. Me as you.

So what I (you) can only do is taking one step at a time, looking around me (you) and start to appreciate again the nice things I (you) can enjoy.  Things like the sun that rises up in the sky, the smile of an innocent child, a hug received from a stranger, the beauty of a landscape, the music offered by a musician in the street, the hot coffee in the cold days, the shining warm sand under my (your) feet, an interesting book, a piece of bread, the sound of the rain.

You (I) can’t ignore what hurts you (me) but you (I) can also choose to focus your (my) attention on things that make your (my) path sweeter and nicer. And you (I) can walk slowly. Until you (I) will realize that you are (I am) smiling again and you are (I am) strong enough to feel your (my) pain and not be stuck in it.

We can reach our dreams, but only when we start focusing our attention on things we really love, more than on our pain, when we will understand that we can realize something really big with small steps.  No one really knows which one is the right path; it is all about failures and following attempts, all about going and believing we can do what we really love.

Let’s get off the ground, then. Let’s walk together. I am your reflex, you are my reflex. We are all one.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The way to my dream

I walked a long way to find my dream.

When I was a little girl, I always felt lonely. Rather than playing with others, I liked walking to an unknown destination alone to discover something different. At that time, I didn't have my own dream and no direction at all. But I still believed that there must be something waiting for me in the future. So, although sometimes I was so depressed and even attempted to suicide, this belief gave me courage to go on.

In my whole teenagers and earlier twenties, I was still groping in the dark and didn't know who I was and what I wanted to be. I knew nothing about my major before I went to college, knew nothing about my first job until I were there. All things had just happened and seemed wrong to me. I was distressed and complained all day.

The situation changed when I met the spiritual part of my life. One of my best friends coached me to "balance cycles" and the whole life spread out slowly like a scroll painting in front of me at the first time. Since that great moment, my journal to find myself began. I attended some courses and workshops in the psychology field and finally got to know that all the difficult moments are present from the destiny to teach me. Nothing can help you except yourself. Happiness is a state of mind and it's not something you can find outside but inside yourself. The power to change is in your own hand and everyone has enough capabilities to take charge of one's own life.

I finally encountered my dream in a workshop. When I was required to imagine what I will be doing after 10 years, the imagine that I was working and helping others in my own office came to mind suddenly. And my values also settled as Love, Joy and Inner Peace. After that workshop, I kept this dream in mind. The feeling that I had a dream comforted me when I met problems, but the dream was just a dream and looked still far away from my daily life. I thought about it less then 3 times in more than 3 years and didn't know when, where, how, who to achieve my dream with.

I must show my great gratitude to Coursera's CIC course. I'm attending it because I have interest in creativity, but the course has changed my mind in a deep way. The "Life Ring" exercise recalled the memory of my dream, the "Ventures" exercise let me being committed to my dream. On the12th of Sep, a day to remember, I finally decided to start my project : Focus on your dream 10 minutes per day, and I posted it in the course's forum. I had never imagined that this project could  help to focus on my dream not only myself but also other people.

Here, I got a lot of amazing ideas. With Dawn Lagunas's suggestion, I reviewed my values and turned them into Love, Being Positive, Active, Supporting others and Inner Peace. With Alessandra Lacaita and Arnoldo Del Toro's great help, we even made a blog for dreamers to tell their stories. The great stories of Emili Bermudez, Francois Brillon and Freen also inspired me and enhanced my confidence. I took so many actions in only 21 days and realized how powerful the actions are. I never felt as energized, confident and enthusiastic as these days in my whole life.

I am still on the way to accomplish my dream and I would like to call myself a WALKER of life. Of course I want to achieve success in one day, but the way itself is beautiful enough to learn, share, enjoy and to deeply communicate with myself.

Let's keep going on to dreams together! Thanks you all!

Lucy Cao

Thursday, 3 October 2013

"Freen" and her dream of peace

Just a short time ago, I couldn't answer the question, "what's your dream about?" Not even to myself.
Actually, I never had a real dream, something to canalise into study, work, and career. My dreams were more like vague fantasies of romance or rebellion, often unachievable.
The only answer I could think was "I just want to get away from here".
I didn't know where, when, how. Just, away. Freedom, that was my dream, I thought.
Freedom from my family, from the small village I was forced to live in, from all those infertile friendships, from all my sick relationships, from school, jobs and every annoying situation I was living.
I often wondered why I had this overwhelming need to escape, why couldn't I just be quiet and enjoy what I did have instead of craving what I did not. I tried to; sometimes it almost worked, until all I was trying to repress would explode so badly that it scared me. I was tired and desperate because I knew how positive I could be, but I couldn't see how. It was crazy, but I didn't give up and eventually I left.
Once I was finally far from my parent's house and that Godforsaken village, I always felt less the pressure of judgements, apathy, narrow-mindedness, flaunted ignorance, labels and people you would never have to deal with, if you only had the chance.
I was feeling better, more comfortable with myself and, as I grew up, I realised that my dream was not to escape, but rather to feel at home. My peace would be my real freedom: finding somewhere I belonged to.
Now that I knew what my goal was, I started focusing on my life and on what I could do to reach it.
One of the most difficult things I had to learn was to stop thinking I was worthless and did not deserve anything. Then, I began to say goodbye to people who didn't allow me to be happy, one by one.
I was almost reborn. A new blossom of me who really loved itself, for the first time.
There was only one big issue left, the most difficult and hurtful. A man, from whom I just couldn't get away from after all. I used to come back to him every time, willing to forgive him and forget all the pain he gave me, all the times he wasn't there for me, to start over again with all the love I could.
But this man was not my friend, nor boyfriend. He was my dad. The first man in my life, the first one who was supposed to love and protect me and make me feel important, which he never did. How could I love myself, if even my dad never did?
Clearly, the wall between me and my peace was my relationship with my own father.
Luckily, I was trying to rebuild my life, when, one day, I met the man who made it complete, for real.
We found each other and loved each other from the very start, with a new kind of love, so different from the ones I had known so far: it was healthy, fun but peaceful. Without violence, jealousy, tears, madness.
The path I chose for me had brought me straight into my dream's arms!
Patiently and kindly, he taught me how to face my deepest issues, one by one, rationally, together. He taught me how to trust him and let him love me. Maybe he learned something from me too, but actually he did so much for me I can't really tell what I've done for him.
We got married very soon, so strange for someone like me, always wanting to run away, yet I never had a doubt.
Here it was my peace, everything I wanted.
I feel free now, because I'm happy to be here, I don't want to be anywhere else.
My husband gave me more and more strength and the awareness of what I really deserve. Every time I suffered I felt less involved and closer to freedom. And then, suddenly, the final push: a little boy, not yet even born and yet so important. He is my dream that comes true.
Now everything changes, now I feel the strength I always needed, the strength to say goodbye to the past. The same strength you feel when breaking up with somebody that makes you insensitive to tears, promises, and memories and forces you to look further! Like a friend.
Well I've found that strength, it's right here inside me now.
It's my son's voice telling me: "Mom, I never saw you like this".
If one day my son will tell me these words, I will not be afraid of his answer when I will ask him: "Like what?"
He will simply answer: "So beautiful".

By Freen.
Freen's blog

Friday, 27 September 2013

Even Superheroes need Sidekicks

As this is a blog for dreamers, I assume that most of us have thought about making something worthy in their life such as changing a bad habit, founding a non-profit organization and saving the planet from global warming.

People all over the world are doing great things, but there are also millions bursting people with bright ideas who fail in turning them into action. Does this mean that some people are better than others?

Of course not! We all have the opportunity to try, try again and then keep trying until our dreams come true and we become superheroes in real life.

Now, I'm developing the superpower to write and post in blogs, share my dreams and inspire people all over the world (or at least I'm trying to). It's great, isn't it? But how is this possible? I have never thought I could do it, before this month!

The answer is really simple: I'm not doing this alone.

Recently I enrolled a Massive Online Open Course in Coursera.org about creativity and innovation. Here is where I met Alessandra, who kindly invited me and Lucy to join her crusade to find dreamers all over the world and collect all their inspiring stories together.

Dreamers, we truly encourage you to contact us and share your experiences, dreams, ambitions and successes. If you are currently working for your dream you will find here people willing to give you advice or a boost to succeed.

Arnoldo Del Toro
Jr. Dreamer

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

"Just decide what you want and it will happen". Francois Brillon's words.

Two years ago, my life was going so-so. I was going nowhere with my career, my situation at home was difficult as well. Our schedule was sometimes way too crazy and was causing lot of stress. Other parents would know what it is to have 2 young children starting at school while managing our full -time jobs at the same time!

I'm not sure exactly why, but one day, I decided that was enough and that I was going to fix all of it. I had no idea how, just decided that it will get fixed, and fixed soon. That was the turning point. Deciding to fix it make all the difference for what happened after.

Starting from this moment, I stopped complaining to myself and to others. To my surprise, I then started seeing opportunities to fix it. And then, almost without noticing it, I started to act toward fixing all of it, just like I had decided.

I managed to get help from a counselor who helped me understand a few things I needed to change myself. Then, I registered to a course on a related subject and discovered there the neuro-linguistic programming. This is a proven technique in psychology which explains how your thinking influence the way you act and therefore your destiny. I then read a book about it and started applying the principles on my day-to-day life.

This excellent book is Get The Life You Want by Richard Bandler. The title may let you think that this is yet another book selling dreams without giving you practical means to realize them. In fact, it's the complete opposite. The book is well-written, easy to read and is serious at the same time. It gives concrete advice on how to apply the neuro-linguistic programming in your day-to-day life. Those tips are easy to follow and furthermore, they work! Trust me, that's an independent opinion. I'm not at all related with the author, editor or anything. I'm just a fan of this technique!

As of now, I can say that some of my dreams and wishes came true already and I'm in good shape to get to the greatest ones done too, especially now with the CIC (Creativity, Innovation and Change) course I'm attending.

For example: I started and keep exercising, something I never did all my life. The most I lasted in a gym was 1-2 months! I'm now green belt in karate and have been practicing for more than 2 years. I also lost 10 pounds, consulted a nutritionist and am now eating way healthier than before. Taking care of myself was the very first and important point.

Then, new opportunities opened at work, allowing me to shift to do something I like better. As a consequence, the relationship with my colleagues and supervisor improved drastically. I then decided I was going to take great vacation with my family (after couple of years not taking real vacations). Some opportunities showed up as well regarding this shortly after and it happened, 2-3 times in fact, not just once. At the beginning of this year, I decided that I was going to work on improving the situation at home too. I read a book, learned a few things and the situation is improving as well now. :-)

Finally, seeing that investment in funds for retirement are going nowhere and having the profound desire of communicating what I learned over the last 2 years, I started a longer-term project (see Millions of Stories). I had an overall idea, but wasn't too sure where this was going. I paused it for a while but it was still in the back of my mind. I then fall on the CIC in Coursera this summer, decided to take the course and discovered that it is opening me to a wide network of resources which now make my huge dream look closer to me than never before. Would you believe that I decided that for my project I was going to tell more than 1 millions of stories to children all around the world? Yes, that's the goal I've set to myself. Ambitious right? Especially starting from nothing. No longer than 2 years ago, I wouldn't even think of setting myself such a goal. Now, I'm realizing that by simply deciding that it was going to happen, again it is happening!

In short, I learned something very important in those last 2 years : I need to first decide what I want and be convinced that it will happen because I want it. If I do, I can stick to my goals no matter if at this very moment it seems not possible or too far ahead to be achievable. All the rest show up by itself, opportunities come to me and I just have to take them and move on with them.

A simple example to show you this is so true... have you noticed how sometimes you decide you want something, like new clothes, a new car or anything. You start imagining it, how it would be if you have it... then you start seeing it in the real world around you more often than before. That's because by deciding you want it, you setup your brain to be alert of anything around you that would lead you to what you want. We do this all the time for little things in our life without even noticing. Now, you know that this is also possible for greater things, much greater ones!

Just decide what you want and it will happen. :-)

Francois B.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

From words to images: Emili's dream.

en el borde
de los sueños

Emili Bermudez is a Spanish artist from Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Canary Islands). To have a look to her work click here: Emili's photos

She tells us her story:

Since I was born I've been surrounded by love and art, in all their manifestations. My father was a great reader, a professional singer, amateur photographer, and apprentice carpenter. In my house there was always music, books, the smell of sawdust and developing products. With him I learned to appreciate beautiful things: visits to art galleries, walks with him carrying a camera around his neck, car trips with music ... And so I grew up. So no wonder I started scribbling on blank sheets with little thoughts, I got lost in bookstores looking at works of great artists, caressed the keys of a piano. Gradually my imagination, my creativity grew, as well as my need to express myself, to take outside everything that was inside me. I started writing little poems in prose, but felt it was not enough and I needed to express more. Like an iceberg, there was very little that appeared on the surface. Then, out of nowhere, the picture appeared. I used to couple my texts with images of other artists and, after many years training my eyes with wonderful visual works, I was buying my first secondhand camera. Almost without realizing it, I was surprised by merging two passions: I took pictures which I edited until they could almost talk by themselves and I coupled them with my prose. Gradually, without realizing it, I was fulfilling a childhood dream: I wanted to be like all those people who taught me that expressing themselves through art, words, light, sound, enriches the soul and brings us closer to our true selves.
Now I'm really close to realizing my dream: editing a photographic and prose book which shows how I learned to appreciate the world and its beauty: Emili's project.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Why this blog?

Hi dreamers,
this first post aims to let you understand the utility of this blog.
I firmly believe that having dreams is essential to have a good life and to spread happiness in the world. 
This blog wants to collect stories about people who dream, who have managed to realize their dream or who want to learn about the "art of having dreams". Reading about dreams' realisation will generate hope in the world and will help you to think that turning your dream into reality is possible.