Awareness

Today I invite you to reflect on this quote by James Thurber:

Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness

What a challenge! Letting go of the obsession for what has already happened or is still to come. Switching off the auto-pilot, stopping for a moment, and really looking, becoming aware, being present in the here and now.

Right now, at this very moment, what is happening around me? And what is happening inside me? What am I thinking? What am I feeling? How am I experiencing this? And what does this all mean to me?

That´s the first step towards transformation: becoming aware.

Tired?

The first week of November here in Ireland could be known as “getting used to the darkness”, or at least that’s how it feels to me… Ireland is located somewhat North within the Northern hemisphere, and the difference in daylight between the summer months and the winter months, while not as radical as in the Nordic countries, is quite noticeable. Interestingly, Dublin is located at a similar latitude to Moscow’s, though luckily for us, its climate is a lot milder.

So now it´s that time of the year when the morning goes by in a flash, and by the time you realize, the sunlight is gone. And then at six in the evening it feels like it´s eleven at night, and you feel like going to bed...

full moon

I find that this impacts my mood considerably: I usually feel more tired, lazier and less motivated , and I don´t feel like getting out of the house... but then, because of not getting out of the house, I don´t get to recharge my batteries, and I end up feeling more tired, lazier and less motivated. It´s a vicious circle.

The good news is that knowing this from previous years, and knowing myself, I can come up with tricks to handle it a bit better. Like for example, looking for (or making up) reasons to leave the house at least once a day, preferably when there´s light outside. It´s my way to move around a little and change the scene, and while I´m at it, do "the photosynthesis", as my friend Juanjo would say 🙂

But even if it´s true that our energy levels tend to go down during the winter months, as our bodies instinctively get ready for hibernation (for at the end of the day, everything in life is a cycle), there may be more factors contributing to our daily tiredness, especially if it has become a regular thing. Let me leave you with this quote from Alexander Den Heijer that I came across a few days ago:

You often feel tired, not because you've done too much, but because you've done too little of what sparks a light in you.

Halloween night

October 31st, All Hallow´s Eve. Halloween.

jack o lantern

I have to admit that this is not one of my favourite times of the year. In part it´s because once the clocks change to an hour earlier, it starts getting dark very early in the evening, the weather gets more unsettled and the temperature drops…

But mostly it´s because I don´t like scary stuff. Not even a little bit.

I´m writing these lines in between rounds of kids ringing my doorbell and shouting “trick or treat”, and I don´t mind that part at all, I even like it. I dress up as something simple and not scary at all (this year, a Harry Potter robe and a tie; on other occasions, a witch´s dress and hat), and I enjoy handing out sweets to the neighbourhood kids.

What I´m not comfortable with are the really scary costumes, horror movies, etc. Luckily, there´s plenty of choice nowadays, and I choose the child friendly version of Halloween, appropriate for all audiences 😊

But it is true that when one thinks about life back in times of our ancestors, with no electricity or central heating or any of the convenient things we´re so used to these days, and on a night like this, dark, cold, windy and rainy, one understands how they believed there were spirits and ghosts roaming around in this world… And also how they wanted to combat them in the best way they knew: with light.

I reckon that´s why fireworks and bonfires are so popular here in Ireland at this time of the year, and they remind me of Saint John´s Eve… Old rituals that have evolved into more modern ones, but that deep down still keep the same fascination with the unknown and the supernatural.

Much more colourful is the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration in Mexico, which I love not only for its aesthetics, but also for that beautiful and joyful way in which the Mexicans remember and honour their ancestors, acknowledging them as part of the family. This way, the world of the dead seems to be a bit closer to the world of the living, and instead of seeing it as a question of “us against them”, it encourages us to accept death as part of the cycle of life, and to understand it instead of fearing it.

To accept and understand. Maybe that´s the key to many of our fears.

To accept the challenge of looking at them face to face, of listening to what they have to say to us.

In Marie Curie´s words:

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.

Version 5

Well, the time has come to add one more number to my version historyversion 5.

Here it goes:

  • V5.0 I develop an interest in coaching
    • 5.1 - I take a three-month-long online course in coaching fundamentals, to see if I like it. I love it.
    • 5.2 - I sign up for a master’s degree in coaching with emotional intelligence and neuro-linguistic programming.

Those of you who know me in person are probably aware that I´ve been interested in the topic of personal growth and development for years… Interestingly, I hadn´t bumped into coaching until last May. When I finally did, it resonated a lot with me, and this weekend I have started my master’s degree :-)

wooden coach lettering

But what is this coaching thing? It’s true that “coach” is a word that is used nowadays for a bunch of different things, which creates confusion, and there are also several definitions of “coaching”, each focusing on a different aspect of it. To simplify, we can say that coaching is a process of accompaniment, in which, through active listening, questions, and other resources, the coach makes it easier for the coachee (or client) to define their own goals, as well as to identify and manage the changes that are needed in order to achieve them.

Going forward, I´ll be sharing in this blog a few things related to the world of coaching, and also about the many tools and resources that it draws from. Regarding definitions, for the moment I´ll leave you with this one, food for thought:

A coach is someone who tells you what you don't want to hear, who has you see what you don't want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.

Tom Landry

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.

Room to grow

Today I´m sharing with you this poem by Khalil Gibran, which I remember hearing years ago at my friend Araceli´s wedding, and which has kept resonating more and more with me since then:

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of your be alone,
Even as the strings of the lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

How beautiful, especially that last line... Let´s give ourselves some room to keep growing with life, flourishing from that seed within us, without casting shadows over each other.

Back home

This week I'm writing to you from Cáceres, my home town. I'm back "home" for a few days, enjoying family, friends and the last few days of summer. And after the year and a half that we've had, I'm truly enjoying it, fully, without taking anything for granted :-)

I'm feeling a bit odd, like I'm at home but also away from home at the same time, as if things had changed while somehow staying the same... I'm a bit like this every time I come, but now even more so, with everything that's been happening during this time.

Searching for quotes related to this topic, I bumped into this one, I hope you like it:

Returning home is the most difficult part of long-distance hiking; you have grown outside the puzzle and your piece no longer fits.

Cindy Ross

Optional

A conversation that plays out quite often in our house, and one that you can probably relate to, is negotiating in a given moment what´s mandatory and what´s optional.

My daughter Alicia is the expert in all this, though her sisters are not far behind. When I ask her to do something she´s not convinced about, Alicia asks: “do I have to?”. And my answer, most of the time, is “yes”.

But not always. So she´s right to ask :-)

In fact, this is something that most of us should ask (ourselves) more often: this thing I have in front of me, this thing “I have to do”, do I really have to do it? ¿According to whom? What happens if I don´t do it, or if I do it differently?

Clearly, the answer can be a yes, it needs to be done, and it may still be yes most times, but it may also surprise us and end up being a no more often than we thought. Or we could come up with another alternative, an intermediate solution that´s even better than the previous one… By asking the question we allow ourselves to see the options, and we have more ability to choose.

Of course, whatever we decide, we have to be responsible and fully accept the consequences. But the key point is that we have options, even if we don´t always see them, even if we don´t always like them. But we do have options. And once we realize this, we can choose whatever we see fit, and “I have to…” becomes “I choose…”, and the burden becomes a little lighter.

Here are a couple of quotes that I love on this topic, as they go a step further, inviting us to choose how to relate to what is happening in our life:

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

Buddha

This one I heard for the first time in a yoga class (thanks Carsun!), and felt it especially close when giving birth to my girls, before realizing that it can really be applied to everything in life, not only physical pain.

And this other one I only heard recently; it seems to me that it´s very fitting to the times we´re now living:

Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.

John C. Maxwell

Now you choose!

Desiderata

Today I´m sharing another text that I kept for many years on my bedroom wall, this time in my parents´ house. Thanks Lucía for reminding me how beautiful and inspiring it is, almost a century after being published:

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, 
and remember what peace there may be in silence. 
As far as possible, without surrender, 
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; 
and listen to others, 
even to the dull and the ignorant; 
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; 
they are vexatious to the spirit. 
If you compare yourself with others, 
you may become vain or bitter, 
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. 
Keep interested in your own career, 
however humble; 
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, 
for the world is full of trickery. 
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; 
many persons strive for high ideals, 
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love; 
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, 
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, 
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. 
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. 
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, 
be gentle with yourself. 
You are a child of the universe, 
no less than the trees and the stars; 
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
sino doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. 
Therefore be at peace with God, 
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, 
in the noisy confusion of life, 
keep peace in your soul. 
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, 
it is still a beautiful world. 
Be cheerful. 
Strive to be happy.

Desiderata, by Max Ehrmann © 1927

Inspiring possibilities

clear light bulb placed on chalkboard

The other day I bumped into this quote, and I liked it so much that I wrote it down on my kitchen whiteboard, that giant whiteboard that I am so fond of and find so useful:

When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this: you haven’t. 

This has been the topic of conversation for a few days at home. It strikes me as a wonderful invitation to open our minds, and appreciate that, for any given situation, there may be other options and perspectives that haven´t even crossed our minds.

At the time I didn´t see who the author of the quote was, I´ve had to look it up now to find out it was Thomas Edison. And next to that quote I´ve found this other one, which for some reason I used to attribute to Albert Einstein:

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.

Or as Pablo Picasso used to say: inspiration exists, but it has to find you working. Another genius, like Einstein and Edison.

And there are many, many more quotes by Edison, but I´m going to stop after this third one, which I also loved:

We don’t know a millionth of one percent about anything.

This last one, depending on how we take it, can make us feel very small in comparison with the immensity of the universe. But we can also turn it around so that it makes us feel excited, for all the room we still have to grow, learn, and discover :-)

And you, what inspires you to think about this world of possibilities?