Father's day was celebrated today in Spain, as always, coinciding with the festivity of Saint Joseph. And just by pure coincidence, today in Ireland what was celebrated was Mother's day, as it's the fourth Sunday of Lent.

The dates vary from country to country, but the intention is the same: honouring each of our parents in a special way, at least once a year. Thanking them for everything they've done for us, everything they've given us, starting with the gift of life.

A little child's hand grabbing an adult's hand

It's interesting to see how our relationship with our parents evolves over time, we go through different stages... Let me paste here one of the many versions there are out there of how a child sees their dad at different ages:

  • At age 4: My daddy can do anything.
  • At age 7: My dad knows a lot, a whole lot.
  • At age 8: My Father doesn`t know quite everything...
  • At age 12: Oh, well, naturally Father doesn`t know that, either.
  • At age 14: Father? Hopelessly old-fashioned.
  • At age 21: Oh, that man is out-of-date. What did you expect?
  • At age 25: He knows a little bit about it, but not much.
  • At age 30: Maybe we ought to find out what Dad thinks.
  • At age 35: A little patience. Let`s get Dad`s assessment before we do anything.
  • At age 50: I wonder what Dad would have thought about that. He was pretty smart.
  • At age 60: My dad knew absolutely everything!
  • At age 65: I`d give anything if Dad were here so I could talk this over with him. I really miss that man.

What do you think? Do you agree? And we could say the same thing about mothers. If you want proof, you only need to ask your kids what they think of you, especially if they´re teenagers 🙂

By the way, while we´re on the topic of honouring our elders, let´s also take the opportunity to remember our parents´ parents, and the parents of their parents... What I mean to say is, let´s remember where we come from, and celebrate our ancestors, for it´s thanks to all of them that we are here today, even if there are parts of our family history that we don´t particularly like. They all did their best with the knowledge and resources that they had.

From here, I'd like to wish health and happiness to all fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers. And wish for us all not to wait until they´re gone to realize how much we can learn from them.

Starry night

I can´t say that painting is a topic that I´ve always been interested in, or that I´ve dedicated much time to it during my life, but it is true that there are certain works of art that I find especially beautiful (or interesting), and that I´m really fond of.

Among them, there are several pieces by Vincent Van Gogh.

I think this is mainly thanks to a coffee shop that existed years ago in Madrid´s city centre, Van Gogh Café, which my family and I used to visit very frequently, given its lovely atmosphere,, the superb food they offered and the fact that it was located just next to my parents´ apartment. I have very good memories of going to Van Gogh´s when the girls were still little, especially with my parents at lunchtime, and sometimes with the additional company of some of my siblings, siblings in law or nephews and nieces, whoever happened to be in Madrid on those dates. And on a couple of occasions, we also had big celebrations, with the whole family gathered together 🙂

The café was of course decorated with all things Van Gogh, with copies of his best known paintings scattered all over the walls, paper placemats printed with a collection of his many self portraits, and even a reconstruction of one of his scenes, with a real table and two chairs placed next to a big front window. Unfortunately, that venue closed down a few years ago, but the simple style and the vibrant colours of Van Gogh´s paintings stayed in my memory since then.

That´s why I was so happy when I recently got to see some of his paintings at the National Gallery, in London, including the one with the sunflowers (or to be precise, one of them, as he painted several canvases with the sunflowers theme), the chair you can see above, and this landscape with clouds that I didn´t remember seeing before, and that I also found quite cool:

But the clear winner in my opinion is the starry night, a painting that even Lego has paid homage to, and that´s also one of the pieces most highlighted in the interactive exhibition (or as it´s officially called, "the immersive experience") that we visited in Dublin this weekend:

I loved learning a bit more about the life and works of this great painter, who was gifted with very deep sensitivity and an extraordinary talent, both of which sadly came together with a great deal of suffering, as it often happens in the world or artists.

There were several of his quotes that I found really inspiring, like for example:

“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”

“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.”

“The heart of man is very much the sea, it has its storms, it has its tides and in its depths it has its pearls too.”

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”

And I also remembered that years ago, somebody composed a beautiful song about him, "Vincent", here it is with lyrics in English and Spanish:

Change of plans

How good are you at planning? And how well do you cope when there´s a change of plans?'

Tablet device showing a weekly planner page, and a hand holding an electronic pen, hovering over the screen

I don't usually take the time to plan things in great detail, but I do like having a broad idea of what I'll be doing on a particular day or week, so that I can "tick things off my list" and feel that I'm being useful. Well, unexpected things happened on both Saturday and Sunday this weekend that altered my plans as I went along.

OK, truth be told, at least one of those things was due to my own forgetfulness: I had agreed to meet some friends for lunch and a walk today, and I had completely forgotten, because I never added the event to my calendar. When I say calendar I mean Google Calendar, which in the last couple of years has become my best friend, I use it all the time, And I'm not sure whether I should be thankful or put the blame on it, because nowadays, if something is not on the calendar... It simply slips my mind, as it happened today.

Thankfully (and maybe thanks to telepathy), today I happened to check my phone at around the time we had agreed to meet, and thanks to seeing messages from my friends, I remembered and was able to join them. But on the other hand, several of the tasks I had lined up for this weekend ended up not being done, so I'm going to have to squeeze them into the next few days. What was of course not negotiable was this weekly post, which, once again and despite all my good intentions, I'm writing in the middle of the night 😀

Anyway, I could give you multiple explanations (a.k.a., excuses) of how those sudden events altered my plans, and how I wasn't able to achieve everything I wanted to get done... Or I could admit that the to-do list I had to begin with was not realistic for a single weekend, as it often happens to me.

And that reminds me of a quote I heard or read somewhere, years ago, which also came up the other day as I was talking to a friend: we human beings tend to overestimate what we can achieve in the short term, and in contrast, underestimate what we can achieve in the long term.

Now, researching this online, I found similar quotes attributed to both Bill Gates and Tony Robbins, referring to what one can achieve in one year as opposed to ten or twenty years... I'd say the same can also be applied to shorter timelines, like a week or two as opposed to a whole year.

And interestingly, I also found an equivalent law that's applied to technology, Amara's law, which postulates that "in most cases, human beings tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run".

So it's clear that, in general, estimating in the short term is not something we as people are good at, even if we think we are. And anyone who works in software development or any related field will be able to confirm how difficult it is to determine in advance the effort and duration of a certain task.

I believe this is also very relevant to any personal development or coaching process: quite often we define a goal for ourselves to achieve in a certain period of time, come up with an action plan that's too optimistic, and then feel down for not being able to stick to it, or for not achieving the goal as it was defined at the start. But all of that in reality is part of the process: the important thing is that thanks to the goal we get to make progress (even if it's not at the speed we would like), and we also get to learn, for everything that happens along the way are results that give us new information. And once we have that information, we can adjust the plan in order to achieve the goal, or sometimes we may realize that the goal itself is what needs to change.

Another well known quote, this time by Woody Allen, says: "if you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans"; this resonates a lot with me, and I'm sure it will also resonate with many of you. So, knowing that this is how life works, let's enjoy making plans and finding out where they take us 🙂

Updating version history

If you´ve been following this blog for some time, you will have seen me using IT related concepts every now and then. This is partially due to my professional bias: it´s a world that I´m pretty familiar with, having studied Computer Engineering at college, and having worked for many years as a software developer and systems analyst.

But also, I believe that comparing the human mind with a computer (or a mobile phone, which is probably easier to understand) is a really useful metaphor, keeping in mind the differences, of course.

A couple of years ago I wrote a post talking about the concept of version history, which is used for applications and operating systems, and how it can be applied to people as a self reflection exercise that can turn out to be really interesting. It helps us to realize how much we have changed along the years, and above all and most importantly, it reminds us of everything we have achieved.

And the best part is that we can keep it up to date as we overcome new challenges and achieve new goals (my updated version history is available in the about page).

Today I´m adding a new version, one that I feel really proud of: during the past few months, I´ve been training in enneagram, a tool for studying human personality that I´ve found simply amazing; and one that´s been incredibly helpful in getting me to understand myself much better and begin to understand others as well. It´s a very interesting and practical tool, it fits well as a complement to other self-discovery and personal development disciplines, and it can also be applied to a workplace environment. What attracted me, in particular, was its potential in combination with coaching, to facilitate much more personalized coaching processes according to the client´s enneatype.

But please be mindful that it´s really important to learn the enneagram well, as unfortunately there´s a lot of confusion and misinformation on this topic, either due to not going beyond its most superficial aspects and only looking at external behaviours, or due to not fully understanding the key points that are characteristic of each enneatype. I myself spent two years wrongly identified, thinking I was of a certain enneatype when in reality it was a different one... And I´m not the only one, on the contrary, it´s a story that´s often repeated.

The idea of taking a shortcut in the form of a test that tells us our enneatype is very tempting, but at the end of the day, there´s no learning in that, we´ll end up with a number without really knowing what that means... As it always happens in the world of personal development, the learnings come gradually, along the way. And this is a piece of work that nobody can do for us. So if this has piqued your curiosity and you want to start learning about enneagram, I encourage you to search for materials from Alberto Peña Chavarino (in Spanish) or Mario Sikora (in English).

And if you decide to give the version history exercise a try, feel free to let me know how it went 🙂

Giving up guilt

Today, Facebook reminded me of a post I wrote exactly thirteen years ago, quoting a phrase that really resonated with me back then:

God put me on this earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now I am so far behind that I will never die.

Bill Watterson

Does this feeling ring a bell? The feeling of not doing everything you should be doing, of not accomplishing everything you should be accomplishing, of moving too slowly and not being able to catch up...

I can think of a number of things I could say on this topic (and I probably will say them, in future articles), but for the moment, and taking into account the time of the year, today I´m going to focus on what I discovered to be the consequence (or maybe the cause?) of me feeling this way:


I felt guilty about everything.

Whatever I was doing, I felt guilty for not doing it well enough, or for being wasteful with my time and not productive enough. If I was working, I felt bad for spending little time with my daughters; if I was playing with my daughters, I felt bad for not doing something "more useful", like cleaning or cooking... And the list went on forever, hope you get the idea.

But luckily a few years later, I´m not sure exactly when, at some point something clicked in my head, and I realized that guilt was not delivering any productive outcomes for me, in fact it was the opposite. That was when I consciously decided to stop feeding my own guilt.

White page with the words "not guilty" written on it, next to a judge's hammer seen from above

Both Spain and Ireland are countries with a very strong Catholic tradition, and the concept of guilt is deeply rooted in Catholicism (I suspect this is also true of other religions, in varying degrees, but Catholicism is the one I grew up in, so it´s the one I know first hand). Now we are about to begin Lent, and here in Ireland, it´s traditional to choose something to give up during these forty days; for example, many people give up eating sweets. I guess that explains the later tradition of stuffing oneself with chocolate on Easter Sunday, you should see the size of some of the Easter eggs 🙂

I remember that, shortly after moving to Ireland, I used to get surprised when they asked me "what are you giving up for Lent?". As it´s not something usually done in Spain, I didn´t know what to answer... Until one year, when the little lightbulb in my head suddenly lit up, and the answer appeared: Guilt! I´m giving up the feeling of unnecessary guilt.

What about you? What have you decided to give up?


Today I'm bringing you a word that's probably not in the dictionary, but it definitely exists, and it has a beautiful meaning:


Surge de la combinación de dos palabras en inglés, “family” (familia) y “friends” (amigos), y se refiere a un grupo de amigos que son tan cercanos que los consideras realmente familia. Son tu familia elegida, por así decirlo. Si alguna vez has vivido en otro país (o en una ciudad lejana) durante un periodo largo de tiempo, seguramente entiendas muy bien este concepto.

Three little wooden dolls representing a family, next to a amall tippee, with an Earth globe behind them

That's what happened to my husband and me when we moved to Ireland: being so far away from our respective families, we started to rely a lot more on our friends, forming a new circle of loved ones. And that circle expanded with the arrival of our children, and it grew stronger, until it became our framily.

A few years have gone by since then, and due to various circumstances we're a little scattered around these days; but every now and then, stars align and some of us are able to get together, like this weekend (missing those of you who are not here). I've been able to verify once again that the same bond and the same closeness are still there, and it's been great to see that our kids, who grew up together as children but then didn't see each other for years, wmare also greatly enjoing the reunion

Because at the end of the day, it doesn't matter if they're family of friends, or how you first met, the point is noticing the wonderful people that are part of your life, and nurturing your relationship with them.

Stuck in time

This week has seen the start of the month of February, which also has its celebration dates, even if they´re not as well known as those from other months.

Por ejemplo, el 2 de febrero se celebra en algunos lugares de España la fiesta de la Candelaria, o “las Candelas”, como se la llama en Cáceres, mi ciudad natal. Recuerdo que de pequeñas, mi hermana y yo nos vestíamos “de campuzas” (con el traje regional típico cacereño), y nos llevaban de romería junto a la ermita de San Blas.

Ireland also has a celebration for this time of the year, specifically on February 1st: the Celtic tradition used to celebrate the holiday of Imbolc, which later on, with the arrival of Christianity, became Saint Brigid´s day, honouring Ireland´s female patron saint. Interestingly, the Celtic tradition considered this date to be the beginning of spring... Spring? Already? But how can it be, with this cold? Yes, it´s true, it´s still cold, but if you look carefully, around this time you will start to see little new plants sprouting, new life growing, after it all being kind of asleep during the winter.

And speaking of winter, another tradition for this time of the year, this time in the United States (sorry but I forgot the name of the town) is Groundhog Day, which supposedly predicts if the winter will continue for a while or if spring will be arriving soon.

Groundhog standing on their hind legs with a small twig in their hands

Realmente yo lo de la marmota lo recuerdo, como seguro que muchos de vosotros, por una película que se hizo muy famosa en su día: “Groundhog day”, que en España se tradujo como “Atrapado en el tiempo”. En ella, un reportero de televisión sarcástico y malhumorado se ve obligado a vivir una y otra vez el mismo día, el 2 de febrero, Día de la Marmota, hasta que por fin aprende las lecciones que le trae la vida y se convierte en una persona mucho más auténtica.

Tan famosa es esta historia que cuando alguien nos dice que “vive en el día de la marmota”, todos lo entendemos perfectamente, ¿verdad? Se siente atrapado en una rutina en la que todos los días le parecen iguales. ¿Y cómo se puede salir de ahí?

Bueno, pues igual la película misma nos puede dar algunas pistas. Por un lado, en algún sitio oí o leí que si todos los días nos parecen iguales y se nos pasan los meses y los años sin darnos cuenta, es porque no estamos aprendiendo nada nuevo… Por otro lado, a veces parece que la vida nos pone por delante las mismas situaciones una y otra vez, como si nos tropezáramos siempre con la misma piedra. ¿No será que lo que tenemos es que aprender otra manera mejor de gestionar esas situaciones, para así poder “pasar pantalla” y llegar al siguiente nivel?

It´s very easy, and very tempting, to complain about routine and monotony in our day to day life, but that´s how we forget that the power to make every day count is actually in our hands.

So, what do you think? Do you feel like you´re living in Groundhog Day? And which is the song that plays on repeat for you every morning when you wake up?


Has it ever happened to you that, while you were worrying about a problem or a challenge that seemed unsurmountable, suddenly something else happened that completely changed your perspective and made you realize it wasn´t that bad?

Sometimes I remember the beginning of the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy, a book of mostly nonsensical humour that I read many years ago (thanks Hernán for lending it to me), and of which I don´t remember much, except for a couple of details I thought were full of genius geeky wisdom🙂

The story begins with the main character arriving one day at his house, only to discover it´s about to be demolished to build a new highway. Apparently, a notice sign had been put up a few weeks before, but he hadn´t seen it, and as you can imagine, he gets very nervous; he starts shouting at the construction workers, trying with all his might to save his house from getting destroyed... But as it turns out, it doesn´t really matter, because then he finds out that the whole planet Earth is about to be destroyed, in order to build a new intergalactic highway (and there was also a warning sign that nobody had read!).

How often do we get obsessed with a specific thing as if our life depended on it, and it doesn´t occur to us to take a step back, change the way we look at it, and that way get to see the big picture?

Close up of a glass ball on a wooden log, showing a rocky landscape that we can also see out of focus in the background

Another good example, this time from real life, was the beginning of the pandemic: many of our worries from before March 2020 suddenly disappeared, as we realized that what was truly important at that time was being healthy and safe, and everything else was an additional luxury.

And I´m not saying that our previous worries were not valid, on the contrary: every single thing that happens to us generates certain thoughts and feelings, sometimes alongside physical symptoms, that we should process; we should pay attention and give them their space, because they´re here to tell us something, to deliver a warning, or maybe a teaching.

What I´m saying is that the importance of things is relative, and when we don´t have something big to worry about... Sometimes our tendency is to worry about something small as if it were big.

O a veces estamos tan metidos en la situación concreta que sea que nos cuesta verla con claridad, y como dice el dicho, “los árboles nos impiden ver el bosque”. Es entonces cuando mejor nos viene el buscar otra perspectiva, y hay muchas técnicas que nos pueden ayudar a conseguirlo, tanto en solitario como con ayuda de un amigo, o de un profesional.

Por ejemplo, cuando estemos atascados intentando tomar una decisión porque nos da miedo elegir mal, puede ser útil el recordarnos que, en esta vida, son realmente muy pocas las probabilidades de que una decisión nuestra provoque un daño irreversible e irreparable. La mayoría de las veces, tanto si sale “bien” como si sale “mal”, las consecuencias son perfectamente asumibles, así que podemos permitirnos decidir, actuar, y sobre todo aprender de los resultados.

Por cierto, lo de “bien” y “mal” lo pongo entre comillas porque como ya sabemos, todo es relativo… Salvo en the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy, where they were able to find the ultimate specific answer to the Big Question on Life, the Universe, and Everything 🙂

Untranslatable sentences: getting out of your own way

Today we´re talking about another one of those expressions in English that I love, and that I think lose their charm when translated into Spanish.

Se trata de “getting out of your own way”, que básicamente quiere decir dejar de estorbarte a ti mismo, en el sentido de dejar de ser un obstáculo en tu propio camino. Yo cuando lo oigo, me imagino un camino delante de mí, con un pedrusco enorme en todo el medio, bloqueándolo… Y me doy cuenta de que muchas veces ese pedrusco lo pongo yo.

OK, it´s not always a gigantic boulder, sometimes it´s a smaller rock... But the thing is that I do it, I sabotage myself, and that´s something that happens quite frequently to us as humans.

Hoy mi hija Eva, que se está leyendo los libros de Harry Potter, ha mencionado a Dobby, el elfo doméstico. Si os acordáis, Dobby, cuando se daba cuenta de que había hecho algo que iba contra las normas, aunque fuera con la mejor intención, se decía “¡Dobby malo!” y se hacía daño a sí mismo, pegándose de cabezazos contra la pared y cosas así.

Well, I get the feeling that we humans do something similar sometimes, unconsciously of course. Our rational side establishes a goal or objective and wants to make progress in that direction, but it finds itself hindered (and sometimes, sabotaged) by an ever deeper side of ourselves, which somehow believes that achieving that goal would be against how things should be.

Por eso, cuando vemos que nos cuesta avanzar hacia la meta, que damos un paso para adelante y dos para atrás, es hora de empezar a escarbar para ver qué se esconde por debajo de ese autosabotaje: puede que haya creencias, valores, o incluso aspectos de nuestra propia identidad que estén entrando en conflicto con eso que aparentemente queremos conseguir. Ahí es donde un proceso de coaching puede ayudar un montón, para sacar a la luz esas “fuerzas ocultas” que nos hacen interponernos a nuestro propio éxito.

What about you? How are you getting in your own way, blocking your own path? And what would it take to remove those blockers?


There have been a few moments this week when I have felt a little uncomfortable.

Nothing serious, only a bit of discomfort when facing situations outside my usual day-to-day. They were somewhat tense moments (inside my head, at least), in which I didn´t know what to do or say in order to avoid making a mistake, and I felt clumsy and incompetent, a bit like a fish out of the water.

Outside my comfort zone.

But also this week, interestingly, I heard an analogy that worked wonders in making me change my perspective.

Discomfort is something that we naturally tend to avoid, as we find it unpleasant, whether it´s related to a physical sensation or any other kind of uncomfortable feeling, like in certain social situations.

But for example, when we´re practicing a sport, what we´re doing is essentially subjecting our body to a certain degree of discomfort during a set period of time, with the goal of developing our muscles and making them stronger. And bit by bit, with perseverance, our body gets used to it, and becomes capable of doing that exercise more and more easily and with less and less effort.

Está muy claro que si no nos movemos del sillón, nuestros músculos no se desarrollan. Pues de la misma manera, podríamos argumentar que nuestros “músculos” sociales, y nuestras habilidades en general, se desarrollan viviendo experiencias un poco incómodas, que son las que nos remueven, nos desafían y nos impulsan a aprender.

Because, let´s be realistic: when we feel a hundred percent comfortable, it´s because we´re not learning at all...

A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.

John Assaraf

I remember that before moving to Ireland, I was not used to feeling cold at all, and I found it really hard. Then as years went by, I acclimatized, and nowadays, it´s not that I enjoy being cold or anything like that, but that sensation that I used to find so uncomfortable in the past is not such a big deal now, I find it much more bearable. Why? Because at some point I decided to stop avoiding feeling cold at all costs, and I allowed myself to feel a bit of the cold and confirm that it wasn´t the end of the world and that I could still function normally. Now I believe I´ve freed myself from having to always keep an ideal temperature.

Llevando el mismo razonamiento a las situaciones que os comentaba al principio, ahora por suerte sé que el sentirme incómoda durante unos minutos no es el fin del mundo. Todo lo contrario: es una oportunidad para estar atenta y observar (y observar-me), ejercitar “músculos” que a lo mejor no sabía ni que tenía, y confiar en que acabaré aprendiendo algo nuevo.

What about you, what makes you feel uncomfortable? And what is that discomfort trying to teach you?