Every time of the year has its own traditions, and nowadays in the Northern hemisphere, it´s time for the autumn ones.

En Cáceres (España), donde you nací y crecí, al día 1 de noviembre se le conoce como “el día de las castañas”. Es el día de Todos los Santos, seguido del día de Todos los Difuntos, cuando muchas familias visitan los cementerios para recordar a los seres queridos que ya no están.

When I was a child we didn´t know anything about Halloween, or Diwali, or even the Mexican Dia de los Muertos traditions. And my family doesn´t usually visit the cemetery. But what we did do every year around this time was roasting chestnuts, so yummy!

Raw chestnuts

As years go by and we get older, we have the option to continue certain traditions, park them if they no longer make much sense to us, or transform them according to what we consider important. I keep many good memories (and a stack of photos, developed on paper!) from my secondary school and college times, when our group of friends used to go out on a trip to a nearby field to roast chestnuts. Then years later, when we arrived in Ireland, we were fascinated by the Halloween celebrations, especially in their most original celtic version, which includes bonfires, as well of other traditions that had arrived from Noth America, like trick or treating or carving pumpkins.

Pero incluso aquí en Irlanda y rodeados del espíritu de Halloween, casi todos los años nos seguimos juntando unos cuantos irreductibles españolitos a hacer una “castanyada”, como dicen los catalanes, pasándolas canutas a veces para encontrar las dichosas castañas 😀 Aunque en realidad da igual, las castañas son otra excusa más para reunirnos, al igual que principios de verano nos reunimos por San Juan para “saltar la hoguera”.

Now in more recent years, thanks to living in a multicultural neighbourhood and having work colleagues from India, we have also learned about the tradition of Diwali, the triumph of light over darkness, which makes a lot of sense at this time of the year when the days get shorter and the nights seem to last forever. We have just changed the clocks here in Europe, next week it will be America´s turn, and the dark evenings seem to invite us all to enter hibernation mode.

That´s why I Iove Diwali lights, Halloween lights and even Christmas lights (despite it being a bit too early for those), I think they add a spark of joy at such a grey time of the year… At the end of the day, deep down, everything comes back to the same; lights and shadows, hope in seeing that darkness is temporary, and that better times are definitely coming.

We keep traditions because they give us a sense of familiarity, of comfort, of security. But as it happens with everything in life, if we take them too seriously, they can end up becoming a source of stress rather than a source of enjoyment, so let me leave you with a couple of quotes I like about this topic:

Just because something is traditional is no reason to do it, of course.

Lemony Snicket, The Black Book

Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.

W. Somerset Maugham

What about you? What traditions, new or old, do you have planned for this autumn?


This week I´m late writing my usual post. I normally publish it on Sunday night, but this time I wasn´t able to make it, and I honestly feel bad for not having done it.

For failing to meet expectations.

Man dressing in a business outfit sitting in front of his laptop, checking his wristwatch and frowning

And if I stop to think about it, I realize this is a feeling that´s been with me for my entire life. Feeling that I´m not doing it well enough, that I´m not living up to expectations.

But, who´s expectations are those? Good question. Very often, the first answer that comes up for us is that they´re other people´s expectations, but do we really know for sure if that´s the case? Could it what we believe other people´s expectations to be? Or what we expect for ourselves?

In any case, I think it´s always useful to reflect a bit and talk to whoever we need to talk to in order to clarify those expectations, it can save us a lot of stress and plenty of headaches (sometimes literally!)

So let me take this opportunity and ask you: did you miss my weekly post this morning? Did you even notice it wasn´t there?

Nihil volitum…

…Nisi praecognitum. This is one of the few phrases I know in Latin, and it roughly means that you cannot desire what you do not know.

Monkey with a mirror in their hands, looking at their reflection

It came to my mind today, along with this other phrase I read in a book by Laura Chica: Accept yourself. Love yourself. Improve yourself. In this order.

Muchas veces, en el mundo del desarrollo personal, queremos empezar por el final: nos empeñamos en intentar ser mejores, en superar nuestros defectos, y en “solucionar” las partes de nuestra vida que creemos que no funcionan bien. Intentamos cambiar nuestros “malos hábitos” a base de fuerza de voluntad, con el tremendo esfuerzo que ello supone, a menudo para conseguir resultados escasos y poco sostenibles. Es como como si estuviéramos nadando a contracorriente.

Wanting to change, to evolve, to improve, is a very positive thing. But if we approach it from a place of judgment and self-criticism, then all we´re really doing is beating ourselves up. Loving and accepting ourselves as we are is the necessary previous step for any long-lasting and successful life change.

But of course, this is much easier said than done; how can we get to the point of accepting and loving ourselves? The answer also comes to us from old wisdom, this time in Greek, through the famous inscription that used to decorate the front of Apollo´s temple in Delfos: γνωθι σεαυτόν. Know thyself.

It makes sense, doesn´t it? How are we going to love ourselves if we don´t even know ourselves? The better we know ourselves, the more we will understand ourselves, it´s that simple. As we dive deeper into the adventure of self-discovery, we will start becoming aware of what motivates us and what scares us, what our deepest desire is, why we do what we do (and what for), and it will become easier for us to forgive, accept, and finally love ourselves. And once we love ourselves, change happens from the inside out, without the need to force anything.

So, instead of starting at the end as so many times before, I encourage you to start at the beginning, by looking at yourself in the mirror and setting out on your inward journey:

Know yourself, accept yourself, love yourself, improve yourself. In this order.


It´s already mid-October, and Halloween costumes and decorations are everywhere in the shops these days.

I can´t say Halloween is my favourite time of the year. As I said last year, I don´t like scary things, not even a little bit.

Child hiding in a fort made of sofa cushions

Siempre me ha parecido curioso el que haya gente que disfrute viendo películas de terror y esas cosas; me imagino que en parte será porque el miedo que se pasa es “de mentiras”, es decir, que se sabe que es una historia inventada, no la realidad.

¿Pero que pasa cuando el miedo es “de verdad”? What is fear, how does it appear, and what´s its purpose?

Fear is one of the emotions that are recognized as universal, that is, all human beings experiment it since birth. We also share this emotion with the animal kingdom, and as you can imagine, it´s very closely related to our survival instinct.

Every emotion is an indicator, an alert sent by our brain to let us know that something important is happening, and each emotion brings us a different message. In the case of fear in particular, the message talks to us about danger, about a situation that can threaten our safety; that´s why our body reacts by staying still and sharpening its senses, to get ready to face the danger.

But the most interesting thing of it all is that our brain can´t distinguish a real threat from an imaginary one, and on top of that, when faced with an unknown situation and lacking information, it also thinks that there may be a danger, and sets off the alarm just in case. Es su manera de decirnos “más allá de aquí ya no te puedo proteger, porque no sé lo que hay”. Aparece de esta forma el miedo a lo desconocido, que tanto nos dificulta el salir de nuestra zona de confort.

Of course, fear is a tremendously useful emotion when there´s a real danger: thanks to its warning we can get to safety. But, what about situations when it shows up for other reasons, for example when faced with an important decision and worrying about the consequences, or in an uncertain situation that reaches out into the unknown? Here are a few suggestions:

  • First of all, stop fearing fear itself 🙂 It´s nothing but a messenger, an emotion that may feel a bit uncomfortable, but is here to help us.
  • Dare to dig a little deeper into that fear and discover the reason that brought it here: what is it trying to protect us from? What´s the danger in this case? And to what extent is it really a danger?
  • Use that information to make a more conscious decision: what´s hiding behind that fear? What´s the worst that can happen if you go ahead? And the best?

Interesting topic, this of fear, right? Just to finish, I´d like to mention two books on this topic that I think are very cool:

  • “Aunque tenga miedo, hágalo igual”, by Susan Jeffers - it´s based on the idea that our deepest fear is not being able to face whatever happens to us in life, but in reality, we humans are extraordinarily capable of adapting, and overcoming all kinds of situations. By practicing going ahead despite feeling fear, we gain confidence and get ready to face bigger and bigger challenges.
  • “Yes, yes, hell no! The little book for making big decisions”, by Brian Whetten - this one I have to confess I haven´t read yet, but I love its premise: when presented with an important decision to make, we can first ask reason, then intuition, and lastly, fear, and if the first two say yes and fear is the one saying no… Then the answer is a yes 🙂

Sustainable pace

¿Alguna vez te ha pasado que, tras una temporada de trabajo o estudio muy intenso, una vez que terminas ese proyecto o ese examen tan importante, o a lo mejor cuando llegan las vacaciones, tu cuerpo dice “hasta aquí”, y caes agotado o enfermo?

That´s how life lets us know when our current pace is not sustainable.

This has happened to me several times, thankfully in a much less dramatic way, as I´ve been learning to read the signs. Signs like, for example, a head cold or a sore throat that interestingly start showing on a Friday evening, when the work week is over and my body knows it´s allowed…

Gray newtons cradle (perpetual motion device) in close up photogaphy

En el mundo del desarrollo de software, y cada vez más en otros ámbitos laborales, muchas empresas trabajan con metodologías Agile, que se basan en avanzar y conseguir resultados rápidos mediante un proceso iterativo de trabajo, adaptándose continuamente a los cambios. Y un factor clave para el éxito de estas metodologías es que ese “avanzar” suceda a un ritmo que se pueda mantener a largo plazo, que sea sostenible, en teoría indefinidamente. Porque se sabe a ciencia cierta que mantener un ritmo de trabajo demasiado fuerte durante demasiado tiempo acaba siendo perjudicial para el equipo.

This sustainable pace that companies seek for their employees also applies to each person individually, and it´s our own responsibility to achieve it for ourselves. At the end of the day, at work as well as in life, the to-do list is infinite, it never ends… In reality, it´s a long-distance race, more like a marathon than a 100-metre sprint, so the best strategy is to economize our energy, and if at one point we need to run faster for a little while, then later on we´ll have to slow down for another while, or even stop so that we can properly recover.

But even though this seems pretty easy to understand, we often forget about it. Why? Maybe because we don´t realize it´s a long-distance race, and we only see the 100 metres in front of us. Or maybe because we´re so engrossed in the race that we forget to stop for a moment and listen to ourselves, pay attention to how we feel, and what our body is trying to tell us.

I love this quote that says that life first whispers to you, if you don´t listen, it talks to you, and if you still don´t listen, it screams at you. Setting aside a little time for ourselves every day, without distractions, and really listening to ourselves, will help us to identify those whispers before they become screams.

What about you? How are you making sure you maintain a sustainable pace?