Finding your voice

I have always thought I was not a very creative person, mostly because when I heard the word "creativity", what usually came to my mind were artistic skills like painting, design, arts & crafts... Precisely those things I was quite bad at.

Then over the years I´ve changed that perception, not because I started getting good at painting, design or arts & crafts, I´m still awful at all of them. It´s because I have realized two things:

First, that trying something once or twice and finding you´re not good at it doesn´t mean you´re never going to be good at it, it just means you don´t have enough practice (this seems really obvious when you see it written here, but it´s not always easy to see in the moment, especially when you´re used to getting other things done right the first time round without much effort)

Second, that you can be creative in so many different ways! You just need to find the creative outlet that better suits you personally. Your own way to express what´s inside you.

Your voice.

A couple of years ago I "found my voice" in the most literal sense, upon signing up for my company´s workplace choir and starting weekly practices with Nicola, our choir director. I had always liked music, but never realized before how much I really enjoy singing, it truly lifts my spirit.

Whether I´m good at it or not is another matter entirely; that will only be seen once we can reunite again and put together a performance, although I would say that that´s the least of my worries... The most important thing is how much we enjoy singing (and laughing) together as a group, and if other people also enjoy listening to us, then that´s brilliant, double reward.

Also in my life there are and have been other ways to express my creative side: during my childhood and adolescence it was dancing, when I moved to Ireland it was blogging, and when the gils were younger (and even now that they´re a bit older), you can imagine, being a parent also demands a fair amount of creativity :-)

How do you express your own creative side? Have you found your voice yet?

A sentence up on the wall

Every now and then I´m going to leave around here one of the quotes and sayings that most resonate with me. This one I saw for the first time as a child, in a magazine, and even though I didn´t fully understand it at the time, it caught my attention:

A man only possesses what he cannot lose in a shipwreck

Hindu proverb
Hook Head lighthouse, in county Wexford (Ireland), where the rocks and the mighty winds have surely caused more than one shipwreck.

Create, consume, connect

This week, with all the excitement of starting with the blog again, I have felt full of energy. More than once the hours went by in front of my screen without realizing... And all this after having already spent my usual working hours also in front of a screen.

Sum them up and they are many, many hours of screen time.

semi opened laptop computer turned on on table

The fact that the hours go by without realizing is a good sign, I know, I´m enjoying it a lot, and also learning at the same time. On top of writing the posts, I´m also configuring the website myself (now with WordPress, much better than with what I had previously), and I want to do it properly, fully accessible and bilingual Spanish-English. So my time is split between configuring the various plugins and settings (thanks a million Maria for all your advice), thinking of ideas to write about, writing about them, and translating everything that´s already written, not only the posts but also all of the text strings scattered around the site. Let me take this opportunity to ask you: if you see any errors or typos, please let me know so I can fix them, some of you have already done that and I´m grateful for it :-)

Another thing I´m doing this week is taking a crash course in social media, as things have progressed a lot in the last few years. In the old times, writing a blog post was enough; people woud see it in their RSS feed reader, or would subscribe via email, or would visit the website every now and then checking for new content... Now you have to be on social media, the more the better, so I took the plunge and created a Facebook page, Twitter account and Instagram account, so that whoever wants to follow me can do it easily.

But of course, all that brings a new challenge: more social network connections, more interesting content available, more notifications and more screen time, as soon as you drop your guard for a moment. That´s why it´s so important to use the internet consciously, and take advantage of the infinite possibilities it gives us without letting it interfere with our life more than it´s necessary.

Not long ago, in a very interesting video I watched on Youtube (more screens), they mentioned that the activities we do on the internet can be divided into creating, consuming and connecting. After months and months of basically consuming content and learning passively, I am really excited about creating (in this case writing, translating and bringing the blog to life), and I even enjoy connecting and reconnecting in new ways through social networks. But I´m also looking forward to being able to go out into the real world again, and connect, create and learn there as well, in a more tangible way and in three dimensions. I´m finding it a bit hard to get started due to lack of habit, but I know the effort will be worth it.

So in summary; walk away from your screen for a while and find something else to do! :-)

Version history

The extraordinary circumstances we have lived in this past year have resulted in many of us thinking about reinventing ourselves, be it out of necessity, due to changes in our lives and our surroundings, or simply due to having more time for reflection, for taking an honest look at our life and evaluating the possibility of altering our course.

The word "reinvention" used to sound to me as very radical, and I have to say I was almost afraid of it. Until I remembered what my good friend Bea told me once: that along the way in our own history we are really living many lives; every time we turn a page, it´s a new life.

And I realized I had already reinvented myself, and more than once.

Life cycles of man and woman.

Coming as I am from the IT world, what came to my mind was comparing each of those reinventions with a "version change" in my life. Every significant change has meant some progress, some learning, which I´ve been able to incorporate to the next version of myself. Some of those life events I chose, others I didn´t. Some of them were bigger than others, the same way an operating system or application can get upgraded to a "major" or "minor" version (if I´ve lost you already, here´s more information about software versioning).

So I got to work and ended up building my own version history:

  • V0 (version zero) - I arrive in this world (more specifically in Cáceres, Spain) on March 10th 1978.
  • V1.0 I decide to study Computer Engineering - the first "real" decision of my life.
    • V1.1 - I get a boyfriend.
    • V1.2 - I finish college and move to Madrid, searching for a job.
    • V1.3 - I get my first job, in a consulting firm.
    • V1.4 - I change jobs, my assigned project gets cancelled and they let me go.
    • V1.5 - I find another job, in another consulting firm.
    • V1.6 - I get interested in translating, and take a course - university expert in translation Spanish-English
  • V2.0 - I get married and move to Dublin, Ireland
    • V2.1 - I find my first job in Ireland, as an analyst/programmer, in a great company (bye-bye consulting)
    • V2.2 - Mi daughter Irene is born - I become a mother.
    • V2.3 - I have a miscarriage with my second pregnancy.
    • V2.4 - My daughter Alicia is born.
    • V2.5 - I take a Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) course.
  • V3.0 I decide to take a career break, and spend more time with my daughters
    • V3.1 - I take a course in teaching Spanish as a second language.
    • V3.2 - My daughter Eva is born.
  • V4 I separate from my husband (later on I get divorced).
    • V4.1 - I start working in another great company, as a systems analyst.
    • V4.2 - I buy my own house to live in, with my daughters.
    • V4.3 - I transition from IT to a business role within the same company.
    • V4.4 - I adapt myself to working from home and changing the shared custody routine.

So there you go: at least three reinventions, three big changes, with their little gradual changes in between... Funnily enough, my first calculation ended up in version 4.3, now that I´m 43 years old :-)

I hope this example motivates you to reflect on your own experiences, on how you have upgraded versions so many times already, facing big and small challenges, and how you have succeeded and learned with all of them... that will give you confidence to face whatever comes next, continuing to evolve.

In the meantime, as it couldn´t be any other way, I´m already working on my fourth reinvention, preparing version 5.0.

This is your life

Well, here I am, starting to write blog entries again, after what feels like an eternity.

A lot can happen in eight years... Some of the topics I used to write about back then are less relevant to my life nowadays. Some others remain constant, if one can call them that, given that they also evolve over time, like life itself :-)

And what better way to begin again than with the Holstee manifest, which I have hanging in my living room, and which inspires me every time I look at it:

Holstee manifesto (Spanish)
Holstee manifesto (Spanish)
Holstee manifest (English)
Holstee manifesto (English)