Dare to shine

Today I got my present from the family Kris Kindle (thanks Mercedes!), and I´m really excited about it, here it is:

It´s the kind of thing I would never have bought for myself, but that I loved receiving as a present… It´s my letter! With shining lights! And I think it looks super cool on my bedroom shelf 🙂

But why do I know that I would never have bought it? Because I don’t normally like being in the spotlight, I prefer to avoid standing out… That’s been my style in most situations for as long as I can remember: going unnoticed insofar as possible. But also doing my job really well, hoping that others would notice (which of course, sometimes happened and sometimes didn’t).

Reflecting on all of this now, I realize that I’ve spent many of my years tiptoeing through life, so as to not be an inconvenience. And now that I am conscious of my way of being in this world, I have the option to keep it as it is or change it, as I see fit.

That’s why I like this metaphor of switching “my light” on, to start shining. And I remembered this quote, attributed by many to Nelson Mandela, though in reality it is from Marianne Williamson:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

What about you? Do you dare switching on your light? 😉

Another phrase up on the wall

Continuing with the art tour around my house, let me show you another phrase that´s decorating the walls, in this case in my daughters´ room. It was a present from their cousin Isabel:

No te estoy diciendo que será fácil, te estoy diciendo que valdrá la pena / I´m not telling you it will be easy, I´m telling you it will be worth it.

“I´m not telling you it will be easy, I´m telling you it will be worth it.”

I love this phrase for two reasons: one, I really believe this is true in many situations, and two, I think the choice of words here is very very clever. Because even though in theory this is telling us that, whatever it is, is not going to be easy, given that our brains find it difficult to process the “not” bit, deep down what this is telling us is that it IS going to be easy… or at least, not that difficult.

The words that we use when speaking (and thinking) do matter, and they matter a lot. Saying that something is difficult is not the same as saying that it´s not easy: the latter is somehow a “lighter” expression than the former, and our brains find it easier to digest… In fact, the practice of using the word “not” this way is a little NLP trick that I´ll tell you more about some other time.

And for you, what is this thing that may not be easy, but will surely be worth it? You decide 🙂

Conscious songs: Imagine

This morning I heard on the radio that today would be John Lennon´s birthday, he would be 81 years old today. Let´s remember him with this song, which I find both beautiful and profound: Imagine.

And please, even if we have listened to it a thousand times, even if we think we know it by heart, today let´s give ourselves the luxury of really paying attention to the lyrics, immersing ourselves in their meaning, and closing our eyes to imagine how it would feel to live in such a world...

And then, if you feel like going a step further, I propose that you consider which sentence is the one that impacts you most, that confronts you most, and reflect on it a little, because in order to achieve that world that we imagine, everything starts within each one of us :-)

And I leave you with this quote, attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, that´s also very relevant to this topic:

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Conscious songs: The colour of hope

Continuing with the conscious songs theme, let me tell you about another song that cheers me up and motivates me every time I listen to it, this time in Spanish.

It's Color esperanza (The colour of hope), by Diego Torres, and it's dedicated to those of you who are facing a challenge right now, whether it's something that you chose yourselves, or something that came to you for whatever reason (and there's always a reason, although we don't always see it right at that moment).

This video includes the original song, with lyrics in Spanish, and also a translation into English. There are some sentences I would have translated differently, but hey... Perfectionism aside, I hope at least the gist of it is understandable :-)

Rubber ducks

Have you ever been in a situation where you have a problem or a question, and simply by explaining it to another person, you find the solution yourself? And not because the other person did anything in particular...

In fact, “the other person” doesn´t even have to be a person at all. It can even be an object, like a rubber duck for example.

yellow duck toy beside green duck toy

And I say rubber duck because this is exactly the name that´s been given to this technique in the IT world: the rubber duck debugging method., o en inglés, the rubber duck debugging method.

This method proves really useful when you´re programming and get stuck trying to resolve an error (or bug) that´s preventing your application from behaving as it should. The idea is to explain the situation to the rubber duck, and to do it in great detail because of course, the duck knows absolutely nothing about your application. So you have to explain the context, the exact problem you´re trying to solve, how you´re trying to solve it, the code you´ve written line by line… And very often what happens as you´re going through it with such a level of detail is that you suddenly realize where the problem is, and how you can solve it.

Super cool, right?

You might be wondering: ¿why a rubber duck? Honestly, I don’t know, maybe it all started out as a joke, but the truth is that this method is as useful as it is simple (once you get over the awkwardness of talking to a duck, or any other inanimate object of your choosing), and can be used not only for debugging code but for life in general.

I imagine this technique works so well because it forces you to take the problem out of your head and see it from the outside, from a different perspective, so you stop going about it in your head the same way again and again. Moreover, the action of going through it step by step and out loud helps you to focus on details that you may have overlooked before, that way increasing the chances of identifying the real problem and finding a solution.

What do you think? Are you willing to give it a try? Perhaps next time I see a rubber duck in a shop, I´ll buy it to keep it here by my computer :-)

Conscious songs: Unwritten

When you´re listening to music, do you pay attention to what the lyrics are saying? I do it sometimes, and to be honest, I find all kinds of things in there...

Every once in a while I´m going to share with your the lyrics of a song I particularly like. Let´s start with Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield, I hope you like it:

Original lyrics in English:

Spanish translation of the lyrics:

Life, laughter, love

Continuing with the art tour of my own house, this picture is patiently waiting for us to hang it on my bedroom wall:

Irish words for Life, Laughter, Love, written with latin alphabet and Ogham

Beatha, Gáire, Grá are the three Irish words for Life, Laughter, Love… The only one I know how to pronounce properly is Beatha [ba-ha], and it’s a word I’m very fond of, those who work with me will know why ;-)

The lines are the same three words written in Ogham, the earliest written form of primitive Irish. The Ogham alphabet has twenty letters, each represented by one or more lines, and when it´s written vertically like here, it´s read from bottom to top.

Three simple yet powerful words, written in three different ways, reminding me to pay attention to what really matters.

An unexpected present

I´m not much into sea swimming in general; I grew up inland and it´s not something I´m used to. But what I do love is walking along the beach, dipping my feet in the water. 

Yesterday evening I had the pleasure of doing exactly that, as I watched a gorgeous sunset. It had been a very hot day, but at that time it had cooled down a little, and the temperature was ideal, even the water felt less cold than usual to me… Most people had already returned home, there were only a few left. And at that moment, it was all peace and quiet.

What a joy.

So there I was peacefully walking, enjoying the scenery, deep in my own world of thoughts, feeling happy for having set aside my to-do list for a little while to live the present moment (and in my head giving shape to a blog post about priorities, which I will write some other day) when another visitor of the beach took this cool picture:

Bea walking along the beach at dusk, her reflection showing in the water

An unexpected little present, and a lovely memory, thanks Sharon!

Recharged batteries

Every once in a while it´s good to have a change of scenery, even if it´s just for a couple of days, to set aside the daily routine, change perspective, and recharge batteries. This summer, for the second year in a row, I took the girls on a mini-vacation in Ireland, or using a popular expression nowadays, on a staycation (holidaying without leaving the country).

It´s really such a joy to go out and visit new places, or return to places you visited years ago... And these lockdown times have made me appreciate these opportunities more than ever. I´ve loved going back to the ring of Kerry, and we´ve had the privilege of seeing it at our own pace, without rushing, and without the endless row of tourist buses that usually invade these lands during the summer months. 

During this family trip, we´ve had a bit of everything: surprises, changes of plans, lots of music on the radio (of varying quality), lots of ice cream (and chocolate!), and above all, lots of amazing landscapes. Here´s an example, the Kerry cliffs:

View of the Kerry cliffs and the sea

So in summary, we´re bringing back a big load of good memories, enough to keep us going until the next break. And if going away on a holiday for a few days feels great, equally great is coming back home afterward :-)

After having this little rest (more of a mental break than a physical one, I must say), I´m resuming my day to day with renewed energy, especially the couple of projects I´m working on, that I´m really excited about, one of them this blog of course. I´ll keep you posted.

Fridge magnets

I´m not sure how the tradition first started, but it was a long time ago: in my family, whoever goes on a holiday usually brings back fridge magnets as souvenirs. It may seem silly, but I think it´s a nice gesture... Every time I visit my parents or siblings, I spend a good while inspecting their fridge magnets, going over the old familiar ones, and looking for new additions. I have contributed with a few of them myself, of course. And sometimes the same magnet can be found in several houses, in either the same or a slightly different version.

That is perhaps why I have a soft spot for fridge magnets, which together with my fondness of magnetic whiteboards, results in a considerable amount of magnets at home :-)

Some of them I keep always on display, some others I rotate over time. Some of them are presents from family or friends, while others are presents to myself! Today I´m leaving these three here for you, with their cool messages:

Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful
Worry is like a rocking chair. It will give you something to do, but it won´t get you anywhere
I literally love literature
  • Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful.
  • Worry is like a rocking chair. It will give you something to do, but it won´t get you anywhere.
  • I literally love literature.