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  • At age 21: Oh, that man is out-of-date.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:

Pero el que se lleva la palma en mi opinión es el de la noche estrellada, a la que hasta Lego le ha hecho un homenaje, y que también es uno de los cuadros estrella de la exposición interactiva (o como la llaman oficialmente, «la experiencia inmersiva») que hemos visitado este fin de semana en Dublín:

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:

«Si oyes una voz dentro de ti que dice que no puedes pintar, entonces adelante, pinta,,y esa voz será silenciada.»

«Las grandes cosas no se consiguen por impulso, sino a base de ir enlazando una serie de pequeñas cosas»

«El corazón del hombre se parece mucho al mar: tiene sus tormentas, tiene sus mareas, y en sus profundidades también hay perlas.»

«¿Qué sería de la vida si no tuvéramos el coraje de intentar nada?

Y también me acordé de que hace años alguien le compuso una canción preciosa, «Vincent», aquí la tenéis con la letra en inglés y en español:

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

Yo no es que lo planifique todo al detalle precisamente, pero sí que me gusta saber a grandes rasgos lo que voy a hacer en un determinado día, o en una determinada semana, y así poder ir «tachando tareas» de mi lista, y sentirme útil. Pues bien, este fin de semana, tanto el sábado como el domingo, han surgido cosas que me han cambiado los planes sobre la marcha.

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.

Y curiosamente, también he encontrado una ley paralela para la tecnología, la ley de Amara, que sostiene que «en la mayoría de los casos, los seres humanos tendemos a sobrestimar los efectos de una nueva tecnología a corto plazo, mientras que subestimamos su efecto a largo plazo».

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.

Otra frase bastante famosa, esta vez de Woody Allen, dice que «si quieres hacer reír a Dios, cuéntale tus planes», y yo me identifico totalmente con ella, seguro que muchos de vosotros también. Así que, sabiendo ya que así es como funciona la vida, propongo que disfrutemos haciendo planes y averiguando adónde nos llevan 🙂

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.

Hiciera lo que hiciera, me sentía culpable por no hacerlo lo suficientemente bien, o por ser poco productiva y malgastar mi tiempo. Si estaba trabajando, me sentía mal por pasar poco tiempo con mis hijas; si estaba jugando con mis hijas, me sentía mal por no estar haciendo algo «más útil», como limpiar o cocinar… Y así, la lista seguía hasta el infinito, espero que se entienda la 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

Tanto España como Irlanda son países de tradición muy católica, y el concepto de culpa está muy enraizado en el catolicismo (sospecho que en otras religiones también, en mayor o menor medida, pero el catolicismo es la religión con la que me crié, y la que conozco de primera mano). Ahora estamos a punto de empezar la Cuaresma, y en Irlanda es típico elegir algo a lo que renunciar durante estos cuarenta días; por ejemplo, hay mucha gente que renuncia a los dulces. Supongo que de ahí viene luego la costumbre de atiborrarse de chocolate por Pascua de Resurrección, tendríais que ver el tamaño de los «Easter eggs» 🙂

Recuerdo que al poco de mudarme a Irlanda me sorprendía cuando me preguntaban: «¿y tú a qué vas a renunciar esta Cuaresma?» Como en España eso no es costumbre, no se me ocurría qué contestar… Hasta que un año se me encendió la bombillita y apareció en mi cabeza la respuesta: ¡A la culpa! Renuncio a sentirme culpable inútilmente.

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:


It's the result of combining two English words, "family" and "friends", and it refers to a group of friends you feel so close to that you really consider them your family. They're your chosen family, so to speak. If you've ever lived in another country (or in a faraway city) for an extended period of time, you'll probably get this concept very easily.

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.

For example, February 2nd is marked in some places around Spain as the holiday of Candlemas, or "las Candelas", as they call it in Cáceres, my home town. I remember when my sister and I were children; we used to dress up as "campuzas" (wearing traditional costumes from our region), and join the celebrations near the chapel of Saint 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

To be honest, I probably remember this groundhog thing for the same reason as many of you, a movie that became very popular back in the day: "Groundhog day", translated into Spanish as "Atrapado en el tiempo" ("stuck in time"). In this movie, a sarcastic and grumpy TV reporter finds himself having to re-live the same day, February 2nd,, Groundhog Day, over and over again, until he finally learns from the lessons Life is sending him, and becomes a much more authentic person,

This plot is so well known nowadays that when somebody tells us they´re "living in Groundhog Day", we totally get it, right? They feel trapped in a routine where every day looks the same. So how can we get out of there?

Well, maybe the movie itself can give us a few clues. On the one hand, I heard or read somewhere that when every day looks the same to us, and the months and years pass by without us noticing, it´s because we´re not learning anything new... On the other hand, sometimes it feels like Life keeps putting the same situation in front of us again and again, and we keep stumbling over the same thing all the time... Could it be that we need to learn a better way to manage that situation, so that we can "pass" and get to the next level?

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.

Or sometimes we´re so deeply involved in a specific situation that we find it difficult to see it clearly, and as the saying goes, "we can´t see the forest for the trees". That´s when we can benefit most from seeking a different perspective, and a variety of techniques can help us with that, either working individually or with help from a friend, or a professional.

For example, when we´re stuck trying to make a decision for fear of choosing wrong, it may be useful to remind ourselves that in this life, the probabilities of a decision of ours causing irreversible and irreparable damage are very slim. In the majority of cases, regardless of the outcome being "good" or "bad", the consequences are perfectly tolerable, so we can afford to decide, take action, and above all, learn from our results.

By the way, I´m writing "good" or "bad" with quotation marks because as we already know, everything is relative... Except in 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.

It´s "getting out of your own way", which basically means stop being an obstacle in your own path. When I hear it, I imagine a path in front of me, with a gigantic boulder in the middle of it, blocking the way... And I realize that, very often, I´m the one placing that boulder there.

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.

Today my daughter Eva, who´s reading the Harry Potter books, mentioned Dobby, the house elf. If you remember, every time Dobby realized he had done something against the rules, even if it was with the best intentions, he said "bad Dobby!" and tried to injure himself, doing things like banging his head against a wall, etc.

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.

So, when we realize we´re finding it difficult to get closer to our goal, and we´re taking one step forward and two steps back, it´s time to start digging to see what´s hidden below that self-sabotage: there may be beliefs, values, or even aspects of our own identity that are in conflict with whatever it is that we want to achieve. And that´s where a coaching process can help a lot, in order to shine the light on those "hidden forces" that make us get in the way of our own success.

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.

It´s very clear that if we stay lying on the couch, our muscles are not going to develop. In a similar way, we could argue that our social "muscles", as well as our skills and abilities in general, develop through experiences that are a bit uncomfortable, as those are the ones that move us, challenge us and encourage us to learn.

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.

Bringing the same reasoning back to the situations I mentioned at the start, thankfully now I know that feeling uncomfortable for a few minutes is not the end of the world. On the contrary: it´s an opportunity to become aware and notice (myself as well as around me), flex "muscles" I probably didn´t even know I had, and trust that at the end of it all, I will have learned something new.

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