Interview with Maria Teresa De Donato, Ph.D.
Naturopath, Life Strategist, Author
Rosa: Maria Teresa, You have been living in the United Stastes for some 23 years and have a practice that can be checked by visiting your blog http://holistic-coaching-dedonato.blogspot.com/ and your web site http://www.dedoholistic.com/ What I would really like to highlight in our interview, however, and even before talking about your expertiese and your future projects, is Maria Teresa as a woman, your life path.
You were born in Rome: What are some of your childhood memories that you treasure in your heart the most?
Maria Teresa: As you stated, I was born and raised in Rome, the eternal city. Till the age of five I spent much time with my grandma Rosa who, in her colorful Neapolitan dialect, used to tell me many story tales, which she often invented on the spot. I used to have also much time to play on my own. I used to play with all sorts of toys and dolls, having fun in making up stories full of love and all sorts of adventures. I could have never imagined at that age that, in so doing, I was really visualizing and creating what would have later become my future, the reality of my life.
After my sister and later my brother were born, I went on with these fantasy games, which amused them very much. I have always been attracted to the art, in all its forms and, in fact, at the age of eight, I even started to write a novel, inspired by Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott, of whom I read all the series and I had literarly fallen in love with.
Being both my father and my mother lovers of cultures, books, travels and foreign languages, at the age of seven my parents enrolled me in a private school to study English, language whose knowledge I deepened during my high school years along with that of French and German. Eventually I enrolled myself at the University in Rome to study Foreign Languages but I dropped out since I didn’t find the einvironment very stimulating.
I kept Rome in my heart. Despite having been living in the US for some 23 years, a country of which I have embraced not only the language but its culture as well, I still see myself as a true Roman at heart, and in so many ways, even as a Neapolitan. Thanks to grandma Rosa, it can be said that I have a greater knowledge of the Neapolitan dialect than of the Roman one. Sometimes I do feel nostalgic, “homesick”, especially when I listen to the Italian songs that I truly love, or when I watch Italian movies or look at pictures representing the splendid art that we Italians have, along with our amazing land and cuisine for which the entire world envies us. When I am in Europe, however, I do miss the United States. Simply stated, from this point of view my heart is divided into two.
Over the years I came to the conclusion that there is not such a thing as the perfect place where everything can satisfy you to the fullest. Each country has its own beautiful aspects, its strengths and weaknesses, its own culture, social organization, its own scents, flavors and much more. From this point of view, the most important and wisest thing to do to peacefullu enjoy living abroad is to appreciate whatever beautiful, good, interesting, exciting and upbuilding the place has to offer and to accept diversity, in whatever form or of whatever kind it might be, even though we might not fully understand it. This should be, however, a general rule we should stick to even if we do not live abroad.
Rosa: What I understand is that more than a place, what you really treasure in your heart is a profound relationship with your grandmother, one made of games, fantasy, story tales, that later on you shared with your siblings along with having had parents who, by being lovers of arts and of different cultures paved the way so that, since an early age, you could start studying English.
Going back to your grandmother and to her dialect that you still perceive as your roots, what spiritual heritage do you feel you have received from her?
Maria Teresa: My grandmother has left me a great spiritual heritage. She was a profoundly religious person, while I believe there is a substantial difference between religiosity and spirituality and define myself more as a person naturally inclined towards spirituality. As a practicing and observant catholic, she used to pray God while visualizing Him as a Creator and a loving Father, aspect that was also present in so many of her story tales. Though being a passionate reader of the Bible and of Sacred texts, I am aware that this description [of God] is only a metaphor, a simple way to express concepts as to enable everybody to fully understand them. It’s easier to conceive, imagine and, consequently, love what we call God as a loving Father, rather than seeing It as the Source, the Field, the Supreme Consciuosness, the Universal Consciousness or as Dynamic Energy always in motion, although all of them are, nonetheless, acknoewledged as being provided with will and intelligenze, which would, therefore, explain the symbolic use of concepts such as a God seen as a Father.
Rosa: Your grand mother has allowed you to get in touch with “another” dimension, not linked to the mere visible reality.
Maria Teresa: Yes, my grandma, through her faith, her prayers, her examples of devotion and her love for this “Creator” made it possible for me, since I was a child, to understand that there were realities that, although not visible, they were, nonetheless, as or even more important, beautiful, fascinating and appealing than the material/physical world surrounding me. My understanding and consequent “faith” in the unseen world... has accompanied me all my life... and as a child... might even have contributed, in my view, to develop and refine my creative and perceptive abilities...
Rosa: You have gone, therefore, beyond the bliblical story of creation, which is represented as a metaphor and drawn on to a spirituality I could define as “holistic”, to the One Only Principle that permeates the world.
Maria Teresa: Exactly. Today, and particularly during these last few decades, thanks to breakthroughs in fields such as the Neurosciences, Quantum Physics and Molecular Biology, the western modern Man has finally been able to understand realities he had kept missing, but that had always been there, visible under his very eyes; realities that all ancient civilizations, as well as all primitives/natives cultures still alive today, have always acknowledged and accepted as undisputed truths, although they most likely didn’t completely understand them to the full extent, their dynamics, or the “physical/biological” laws behind them. Hence, faith in the existence and in the validity of a non-material reality surpassed, and has kept surpassing to a great extent, what the mere understanding of the physicality/materiality of things allowed and still allows for.
In those last 200 years, we, westerners, have rejected fundamental realities such as faith and the “scientificity” of non-material realities that, although existent, they could not/cannot be seen, heard... let alone be “proven” by reproducing them in a research laboratory... We have dismissed them as “supertitions”, “baloneys”, “nonsense fantasies” and ended up with accepting as “reality” only all that is visible and provable... In such things we have placed our faith and considered them “Gospel.” Recent discoveries in the above mentioned fields have finally scientifically proven that reality is mostly perceived as such. All that we as human beings perceive as physical/material world... isn’t in reality but energy that vibrates at a lower frequency. EVERYTHING IS ENERGY. Reality is, in fact, much more complex and multidimensional than what we can imagine... Not only, but despite the increased knowledge and the so many discoveries we have made... we, human beings, have to honestly admit, that we have just scratched the tip of the iceberg...
Man is not only a passive observer of his life, hence of the reality he experiences, he faces; he is, to the contrary, also and above all co-creator of it.
The visualizations, present in all cerimonial rituals – be it religious, spiritual, and even pagan – have always been true creative acts, where through a team-work among cells, organs and body functions perfectly tuned to each others, Man, no matter if he is aware of it or not, activates a mechanism at a cellualr level, able to impact his very being at all levels – mental, spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical. This leads him to act in a certain way, to make specific choices rather than others... and to create, therefore, specific realities... even though we might miss this dynamcis...
Briefly stated, by means of these visualizations, therefore, thus of his “faith” (something much more profound and that goes far beyond the simple desire or hope), the prerequisites are being created along with specific circumstances that lead, later on, to the events, the expected results, that is, those that have been visualized. From the “sourceres” of all races and cultures, to the high priests who performed sacred rituals in ancient Egypt, in Solomon’s Temple in Israel or wherever in the world they might have been, they all knew such realities and scrupolously observed their cerimonials according to their own beliefs and their own culture. The “make-up”, so to speak, might have been different, but the essence, goal and intents of their rituals were still the same.
Rosa: You stated: “I was visualizing and creating what later on would have become my future, the reality of my life.”
What do you really mean by saying that? How the games you played during your childhood turned into reality in your adult life?
Maria Teresa: When I was a child I was, of course, far from being aware of these “other” realities, let alone from understanding that I have a holistic view of Life and of the World. I would have reached this conclusion much later in life. However, the fairy tales that I used to invent and that originated from my heart, from my deepest self... laid the fundations, without me knowing it, for what would have become my future.
From the earliest age I felt that there was much more to know, to see out there than my home, my garden, my community... my city... I “felt” the desire and the need for adventures and my heart “dreamed” of different places and people I would have known and circumstances I would have faced. Some stories were also sad... and their characters used to live difficult situations and sometimes they would cry and suffer... But there was always a happy ending. Maybe it was a matter of an inner, Universal wisdom? Maybe natural gifts of foresight and a highly develped intuition? I am not sure about it... The only thing I can say is that, so far, my life has followed exactly the path of the stories I created when I was a child... .
Rosa: You left Italy, therefore, the country of your origins and ended up being “adopted” by the US and this fundamental change in your life has been supported by your great Love for your husband. You left everything to follow him, your roots and your job. To the best of my understanding, however, you were able to perfectly integrate the American culture in your life story.
What did you gain by staying in the US in terms of human and professional path?
Maria Teresa: America has enabled me to start my academic studies again; to obtain degrees I would have never gotten otherwise; to deepen my linguistic knowledge to an extent that in Italy it would have been simply impossible to; and, last but not least, to make one of my biggest dreams come true: that is, become a writer and publish my own books. There has been a cultural enrichment, refinement and a deepening under many aspects, since there is a huge difference between going to a foreign country on vacation or to study for pretty short periods running from a few weeks to a few months... and performing a full-time immersion into its culture, social organization, customs and traditions, and ending up being able to see “beyond” appearances... and comprehend more “hidden aspects: for instance, that the language, as well as its grammatical structure... acts as a mirror to a bigger, and at times, pretty difficult to understand whole, but that, because of its diversity fascinates nonetheless.
Looking back at my experience, I can consider myself satisfied, since, and in spite of everything, there has been an enrichment in so many ways. America, despite the great changes that took place in the country since I moved here in the far 1995, still remains today a country full of possibilities. What has always fascinated me about the US is the abundance of information circulating and how easy it is to get them. Internet has certainly facilitated the whole process, but this aspect (the importance of information and the right to have them) is considered a right and, as a such, profoundly rooted in the American mentality and culture. Burocracy, generally speaking, is quite simplified here when compared to the Italian one and, consequently, the very social organization mirrors a fluidity and a smoothness that to other countries can only appear as utopic.
My love for travel, for foreign languages and cultures, for whatever is “different”, therefore, and my being “intellectually curious” has surely helped me by allowing me to live from start this relocation as a great adventure, with a very positive spirit as well as much enthusiasm. This doesn’t mean at all that I never faced difficulties, even great ones, unexpected, hard to deal with, critical situations, and that I didn’t suffer very much for all that I have experienced and that didn’t work as I would have expected or didn’t happen in the ways, terms and times I had hoped for.
Rosa: I believe that through this interview your life has amply emerged, along with what your roots are and the interests you have, and that in a few words could be summarized as for all that lies beyond appearances.
What are your skills and how do you use them? I am also curious to know about your desires and your projects for the immediate and near future.
Maria Teresa: Here in the US I earned a Bachelor, a Master and a Doctoral degree in Holistic Health, specializing in Naturopathy, Western and Eastern Nutrition and Herbalism (thus including Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine) and in Classic Hahnemannian Homeopathy. To my holistic studies I also added specializations in Anger Management, Conflict Analysis, and in Negotiation and Conflict Management. All of them have enriched and completed my skills along with my coaching activity that, after starting more than 30 years ago as personal and spiritual coaching, ended up including more or less all main areas of the human life, thus also health and wellness, relationships, education and career.
The main goal of my activity consists in helping my client to acquire a higher awareness of
a) How mind, body and spirit are inextricably linked to each other, this implying “reviewing” and “modifying” one’s own understanding of concepts such as symptoms, disease, health and healing (the real one), if we speak of health, for instance;
b) How everything is connected to all that is... even though this might be a concept that eludes us..., but it is too profound and vast to be considered in an appropriate and sufficient manner during just an interview;
c) Of one’s own uniqueness, value and potential.
Whatever the area of life the client might need help with, I put my knowledge, espertiese and skills at their service so that they might acquire a higher awareness and understanding of some fundamental dynamics, put them into practice and turn their lives around, by “healing” at all levels through a change from within.
True healing, as well as any real and constructive change, can only happen from within and through the active involvement of the very subject.
The journalistic studies I undertook both in Italy and in the US and the desire to reach out to and help a wider audience, led me, over the years, to intensify my writing activity, dedicating to it as much time as possible. Since 2015, I have, therefore, published several books focusing on different themes. Right now I am writing other works which I hope to publish very soon. Some of my publications are the result of a collaboration with other professionals whose activities are complementary to mine, while other works are just mine and I am/have been and will be the only author.
My desire is, consequently, to be able to work as a full-time writer.
Those who wish to give a look at my publications or even order them, may do so by visiting and following me on my Amazon Author Page at https://www.amazon.com/Maria-Teresa-De-Donato-PhD/e/B019G68L8Q
Rosa: The title of one of your books perfectly describes your orientation and aspirations: “Conquering the Invisible.”
Thank you, Maria Teresa, for having told us about you.
Thank you, Rosa, for having given me the possibility to do so.
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