Do not let

Today I´m bringing you a poem by Walt Whitman, for those days when you feel like saying “stop the world, I´m getting down…”

close up of open book on a table, against dark background
Do not let the day end without having grown a little, without being happy, without having risen your dreams.

Do not let yourself be overcome by disappointment. Do not let anyone take away the right to express yourself, which is almost a duty.

Do not forsake the yearning to make your life something extraordinary.

Do not stop believing that words and poetry can change the world.

Whatever happens, our essence is intact. We are passion-full beings.

Life is a desert and an oasis. It knocks us down, it hurts us, it teaches us, it makes us protagonists of our own history.

Although the wind blows against, The powerful work continues: You can make a stanza.

Never stop dreaming, because in dreams man is free.

Do not fall into the worst of errors: silence.

The majority lives in a dreadful silence. Do not resign escape.

Run away. “I create my screams through the roofs of this world”, says the poet.

Appreciates the beauty of simple things. You can make beautiful poetry about little things, but we can not row against ourselves. That transforms life into hell.

Enjoy the panic that causes you the life you have ahead.

Live it intensely, without mediocrity.

Think that the future is in you and face that task with pride and with no fear.

Learn from those who can teach you. The experiences of those who preceded us, of our “dead poets”, they help you walk through life.

Today’s society is us: The “living poets”.

Do not let life happen to you without you living it.

I only knew the beginning of this poem, I read it in full today for the first time, and I have to say that I love it, each line has so much to extract and reflect on…

By the way, thanks to this, now we know where the “Dead poets´ society” movie got its name from 🙂 (If you haven´t watched that movie, I totally recommend it, and if you already have, I´d recommend it again, it´s worth a re-watch after all these years)

Blank page

Today I sat down to write a post… And couldn´t think of anything.

Absolutely nothing.

What a strange feeling.

Usually by the time I sit down to write, I already have a topic in mind, and if I don´t have it yet, it just comes up on the spot as if by magic. But today, who knows why, time was slipping away and my page was still blank. No matter how hard I thought, or how much I searched for inspiration.

A bit disconcerting, isn´t it? An empty page. Ideas, words, answers that haven´t arrived yet.

It occurs to me that, in general, we humans are not great at dealing with empty spaces. Like when we are in a conversation and suddenly there´s a silence, and out of discomfort we try to fill it as soon as possible, saying something at random. Or like when we´re queuing somewhere, or waiting to be served at a restaurant, and we turn to our smartphones so that we don´t have to deal with not knowing what to do until it´s our turn.

There´s a lot of talk nowadays about our society being used to getting instant gratification. And interestingly, when we think about our kids, we know that it´s good for them to get bored sometimes, because that´s what´s going to foster their imagination and creativity… But let´s be honest, up to what extent do we apply the same to ourselves as adults?

Maybe when we finally learn to come to terms with that empty space, with that blank page, and discover that we don´t need to have all the answers (much less have them immediately!), we will allow our imagination and creativity to flow. And then we will realize that there are infinite ways to fill in that page, and that we can truly enjoy experimenting and finding our own style.

Every new day is a blank page of your book waiting to be written

Energy

Sometimes at certain times of the day, or the week, or even the year, we find ourselves with low energy levels… Like for example, on a Sunday night in January.

Proof of this is that I´m publishing this on a Monday, after having fell asleep in the middle of writing this post on Sunday 😀

red and black car speedometer at neutral

Beyond the basic solutions of resting and sleeping, which are great, and much needed, ways of recharging batteries (apart from good nourishment, hydration, etc.), it helps a lot to find out what things in particular give us energy, not only physically but emotionally as well. Identifying those things from everyday life that lift our mood and motivate us, so that when we are in those moments of lower energy, we have resources at hand that can help us.

Here are a few suggestions that give me energy when I need it, I would love to hear yours:

  • Listening to music, singing and dancing.
  • Doing yoga or stretching.
  • A few good laughs with my daughters, or with friends.
  • Finishing my shower with cold water (I’m sure this one’s going to spark conversations worth another post!)
  • Walking, in a variety of versions: by myself or in company, in the street or in nature, by the sea, in the mountains, in a park, exploring a town or village…

And just by coincidence (or not), today Google has chosen to show me a quote that’s perfect for today’s topic, by Howard Thurman, I hope you like it:

Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

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? 😉

Arab proverb

Cáceres, like many other towns and villages across the Iberian peninsula, has a multicultural historic past: the Romans were the first ones to settle here, and later on during the middle ages, Arabs, Jewish and Christians lived together in relative harmony for several centuries.

A few days ago, the girls and I went to visit a traditional Arab house from the 12th century, now turned into a museum. We were able to walk through the different rooms in it, and admire objects from daily life back in the day, many of them found in excavations around the area. I have to say we thought it was very cool, and the guide told us a ton of interesting facts.

This Arab house-museum, in case you ever want to visit it, is called Yusuf Al Borch. I´m not a big fan of taking pictures, but I did take one of this courtyard window (I love Arab style arches):

And I also took a photo of this proverb, which I remember having written somewhere, years ago:

Do not say everything you know,
Do not do everything you can,
Do not believe everything you hear,
Do not spend everything you earn.
Because…
The one who says everything they know,
The one who does everything they can,
The one who believes everything they hear, 
(And spends everything they hear)
Often…
Says what is not convenient,
Does what they should not do,
Judges what they do not see,
And spends what they do not own.

Uncertainty

Christmas is almost upon us, and I don´t know about you, but this year I´m finding it a bit difficult to get into the holiday spirit. In a time of the year when people usually make lots of plans, uncertainty feels heavier than usual... And I mention "than usual" because I would dare say that over the last two years, we have all adapted to a certain level of constantly not knowing what´s going to happen. And we know that at one point or another, we´re going to keep bumping into uncertain situations.

snowy pathway surrounded by bare tree

But given that our brain doesn´t like uncertainty at all, what happens is that if we leave it in auto-pilot, it spends loads of energy staying alert and imagining the worst case scenario, causing us unnecessary stress until we end up exhausted. And that´s not sustainable in the long term.

The solution? Learning to feel comfortable with the discomfort of not having absolute certainty, of not knowing how things are going to turn out, of not having everything under control.

And what can be super helpful here? Trusting.

Trusting that everything is going to turn out in the best possible way, in the way it's supposed to turn out, even if it's not the way that we want, or we´re not able to understand why. When we dare to let go and trust life, the story changes. The uncertainty may still be there, but the fear disappears.

Let me copy here a few words from Brené Brown on this, linking with the topic of vulnerability:

I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name a few.

Happy holidays. May uncertainty not prevent you from living them fully, perhaps this year in a new and different way.

The journey and the destination

We´ve heard it multiple times: it´s the journey that counts, not the final destination.

But sometimes we need to set a destination, even if it´s not clear to us if we´ll ever arrive, because otherwise we won´t even start the journey...

man facing road

Does it have to be the perfect destination? No, it doesn´t, what it has to do is get us excited, give us the strength that we need to get started.

And from that point onwards, it´s all an adventure: what will we find along the way? How will we be able to adapt and learn from it? What will we discover that we didn´t know before we started?

Sometimes during the journey, we may feel a bit lost or demotivated, and in those moments it´s a great help to be able to count on someone to walk alongside us for a while, encouraging us to get over that fallen tree trunk that´s blocking the way and doesn´t let us see what´s beyond (sometimes quite literally, thanks Rasmi! 🙂 )

And even after getting over that obstacle, we may not be able to see the whole path, but we don´t really need to. As Martin Luther King said:

You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.

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.