Ana Consuelo Matiella
What keeps you sane at this time of your life?
On the days when I choose to be sane, I wake up at 5:30 am, and make a cup of espresso with foamy milk. I sprinkle cinnamon on it and go upstairs to my little attic bedroom, put on some soft music and read from John O’Donohue’s Anam Cara. His poetic prose puts my mind at ease. No matter what my worries are, I can always count on him to introduce a calming thought, or a different way to look at things that might otherwise drive me out of my mind. After I have coffee with John O’Donohue, I meditate. So this is the way I start a ‘good’ day. If something upsets me, I seem to handle it better after a good cup of espresso, some words of wisdom and a quiet, if caffeinated mind.
There are other amenities that keep me sane. They are as follows:
My dog Guapa and how important I am to her. I am her hero. She lives for me, a romp in the school playground and big bones from Gartner, the butcher. She is my beast and my shadow. I cannot live without a dog.
My bike. I love my bike almost as much as I love my dog. If I ride every day for at least 30 minutes, even around the block like a little kid, or just to go buy tomatoes for the spaghetti sauce, or fritos for the frito pie, my life is much saner. There is no bad computer problem or demanding client that cannot be remedied and/or put into perspective with a bike ride.
Chocolate cake. This one is like the bad boyfriend. How can something that makes you feel so good make you feel so bad? I don’t know the answer to that, but chocolate cake is one of the best things life has to offer, and a strong contributor to my sanity for many years. This is a life-long commitment.
Friends. When I am feeling really bonkers, saying it out loud to a friend either makes me feel really out of my mind, in which case, I am willing to be talked down from the ledge, OR, validated OR vindicated depending on what I have already done with my insanity. A good conversation with a friend, and preferably on with a good sense of humor, is like medicine.
What kept you sane when you were 25?
I am so much better now than I was at 25. I know young women that are 25 or 28, for that matter, that are so much saner than I was at 25. When I was 25, I had no idea what I was doing with my life. I only knew how I felt politically. My politics were the only thing I was sure of and heaven help you if you disagreed with them, my politics, that is. I was so hostile, it is now embarrassing. (That poor guy in Sociology class! ¡Ay vey! If you are reading this, please accept my apologies.) Everything else in the personal, spiritual and professional aspiration categories was up for grabs. Somehow, and at the expense of other people’s sanity, being hostile politically really helped me from going off the deep end.
How is it different?
I have always loved dogs, bikes, chocolate cake, and friends. These passions I bring from my childhood and on to each graceful phase of my aging process. I try, unsuccessfully, not to be hostile when someone disagrees with me politically, but I think the only thing that has changed is that I now meditate every morning after a strong cup of coffee.
What advice might you have for younger women?
If you haven’t already done so, get a dog, buy a bike, eat chocolate cake in moderation and surround yourself with people who love and accept you and are willing to talk you down when you’re on the ledge. As you get older and your nerves start to fray, buy yourself a copy of Anam Cara, and one of those cute little Italian espresso pots. Every morning, after coffee, close your eyes and take many deep breaths. Sometimes it helps to say, “Om.”