Posts Tagged With: feeling good

Where do I even start? / Por onde eu começo?

(O texto em português está disponível abaixo)

It’s the end of the year… and once again it’s time to reflect on what happened and how life treated me (and I treated it). If I think of what my life surprised me with since I last wrote on here (May 2014), I don’t even know where to start describing how much my life has changed. So much has happened! I had a baby (10 weeks earlier than expected!), I had my mum visiting us in the UK for the first time (super special), I had my sister over too (she is still here), I started my maternity leave, my relationship with Lee (partner in crime) has become something else… something different, something even better. There is a gorgeous human being called Louisa in our lives now and I guess when you have a baby you see your partner in a different light. It’s almost like you get each other more, small stuff stops being an issue and you realise that together you are stronger than you ever thought you could be.

2014 has been by far the best year of my life, without a doubt. I thought I had done it already, but, really, it’s the year when I met the love of my life, which is the way my friend Estelle describes having a child. When I saw my baby for the first time, it changed my world…

So here are the main things that I realised/found out in life post-Louisa…

1. You have more strength than you think… lots more!

A premature birth requires strength. I know it happens all the time, but when you are in that situation, you have no choice but to stay strong and believe things are going to work out. Louisa was born very early and the first few hours were very difficult. However, Lee and I never for one second believed that things wouldn’t work out just fine. And although Louisa is still being monitored, we have so much faith in our little one… so I guess the more strength you show, the more you have.

2. Patience comes when you need it

The first days of Louisa’s life were touch and go. We were eager to know if everything would be ok but, somehow, I was just patient with everything. I just felt calm. I have no idea where this serenity came from, but I just had it. Those who know me will know that I’m far from what you’d describe as a patient person, but I surprised myself. I wasn’t asking questions I knew couldn’t be answered, I wasn’t feeling anxious, I wasn’t panicking. I was happy to take a day at a time, to go with the flow. I quickly learned that the whole thing wasn’t a race, but a marathon.

3. You are not just you anymore

Ohhh… this is a big one. There will be a time in the life of every person that has a child when you suddenly realise that you are not on your own anymore. No, it doesn’t matter how much you wanted that child, how much you planned and prepared for that moment. One day, when you least expect it, you will realise that you will share countless experiences with them, help them with their problems, be there for them and go through happiness and sorrow with them. And you will realise that your job is to make sure that they can be the best they can be to go through life, with and without you. It’s scary to realise you have that much responsibility, but also reassuring to find out that you are more than up for the job.

4. A half ‘reflex’ smile can change your mood

No sleep, no time to eat, have a shower, to exercise, to meet friends, all those things that were so common in pre-baby life and that you miss dearly… all to be completely forgotten when your little one gives you half a reflex smile, that is not even a ‘real’ one yet. I know this real one will happen, though… in her own time. And when it does, I might just melt. (Gosh, this is all so cheesy and yet I can’t help myself!)

5. It’s true what they say… there is no time for anything

I know this is a cliche, but what did I do with all the time I had before? Lie-ins, lazy nights, movies, pub sessions… ermmm… not anymore! You sort of learn very quickly (well, you are forced to) to compartmentalize your life in little chunks of a couple of hours (if you are lucky), because this is the time you have between one feed and the next. Everything you do becomes a bit of a mission and the alarm to stop all you are doing (aka hungry cry) may go off at any time. Going out of the house becomes another crazy happening and sort of military operation. It needs to be carefully timed so that baby doesn’t start screaming when you are queuing at the post office. Adventurous stuff.

6. Your family and your true friends will be there for you

This is by far my main realisation with all that has happened this year. I decided to post on Facebook what was happening with our little Louisa, since she stayed in hospital for two months and people wanted news. The response I got was completely overwhelming. I am convinced that the positive thoughts everyone sent our way had a massive effect on Louisa’s recovery and it’s partly why she is now home with us.

My mum and sister also came to visit us for the first time since I’ve been living in the UK (13 years), my dad Kao and mum Iris were always in touch, sending messages every day (thanks, Whattsapp!) and many of my friends were there for me, to help, to hug me, to offer advice, to listen, to ask how things were going or simply to talk about something else and take my mind off it all. Some new friendships started in the midst of all that was happening, some others strengthened, others dissipated somehow but, whoever stayed, confirmed they are by my side for the long haul. And I’m so glad that they are.

7. Perspective is everything

Louisa is absolutely fine now. She is at home with no medical apparatus or anything like that. She is putting on weight steadily and growing each day. But we do know that the brain bleed that she had will need monitoring in the coming years. And this is fine. It doesn’t scare me, or Lee. It doesn’t phase us, really. We are in love with our girl and believe in her, whatever the future brings.

8. Love is all around!

The amount of love you feel when you look at your baby is something out of this world. Ok, cliche again. But I just feel so blessed for having been able to experience this in my life. It’s crazy that all the love that I felt pre-Louisa cannot compare in any way to the love I feel for her. It’s just on a different league. I know that this love got me through the tough times and I know that this love is what will keep me positive for the future.

All in all, what a year!

So long, 2014. Bring us all a brand new year, full of joy, health, family gatherings, happy moments, sincere smiles. And even more love, because there is always more space for it in our hearts.


 2014-11-28 23.09.49

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Texto em português

É o final do ano e, mais uma vez, é hora de refletir sobre o que aconteceu na vida da gente. Se eu começo a pensar em como a minha vida me surpreendeu desde a última vez que eu escrevi aqui (Maio de 2014), eu nem sei como começar a descrever o quanto a minha vida mudou. Tanta coisa aconteceu! Eu tive um bebê (10 semanas mais cedo do que o esperado), minha mãe veio nos visitar aqui na Inglaterra pela primeira vez (o que foi muito especial), minha irmã também veio (e ainda está aqui), eu comecei a minha licença-maternidade, meu relacionamento com o Lee (parceiro de vida) se transformou em algo diferente, algo ainda melhor. Um serzinho lindo chamado Louisa faz parte da nossa vida agora e eu acho que, quando se tem um filho, é inevitável ver o seu/sua parceiro/a com outros olhos. É como se a gente se entendesse ainda melhor. As pequenas coisas já não importam e a gente se dá conta de que juntos somos mais fortes do que jamais achamos que poderíamos ser.

2014 foi o melhor ano da minha vida, sem dúvida nenhuma. Eu achei que isso já tinha acontecido, mas foi o ano em que eu conheci o amor da minha vida, que é como a minha amiga Estelle descreve ter um filho. Quando eu vi a minha bebê pela primeira vez, o meu mundo mudou…

Então aqui vai uma listinha do que eu percebi nesta vida pós-Louisa…

1. Você tem mais força do que imagina… muito mais!

O nascimento de um bebê prematuro requer força dos pais. Eu sei que isso acontece a toda hora, mas quando você se encontra naquela situação, a única opção é ser forte e acreditar que tudo vai dar certo. A Louisa nasceu muito cedo e as primeiras horas da vida dela foram muito difíceis. Contudo, o Lee e eu nunca paramos de acreditar que tudo daria certo. E, embora a Louisa ainda precise ser monitorada nos próximos anos, nós temos muita fé na nossa pequena. Isso tudo me faz crer que quanto mais força mostramos, mais surge de algum lugar.

2. A paciência vem quando precisamos dela

Os primeiros dias da Louisa foram bastante críticos. Nós queríamos muito saber se ela ficaria bem mas, de alguma maneira, eu consegui ser paciente com tudo. Sei lá, eu simplesmente me sentia calma todo o tempo. Eu não tenho nem ideia de onde surgiu toda essa serenidade, ela simplesmente começou a fazer parte de mim. Aqueles que me conhecem sabem que eu não sou muito paciente, mas eu me surpreendi comigo mesma. Eu não fiz perguntas que não tinham respostas, eu não me senti ansiosa, eu não me desesperei. Eu estava feliz em simplesmente viver um dia de cada vez, cada um com seus desafios, e deixar o barco correr. Eu logo aprendi que a situação toda não era uma corrida, mas uma maratona.

3. Você não é mais apenas você

Ohhh… esse é um ponto importante. Vai chegar um dia na vida de cada novo papai ou mamãe em que você vai se dar conta de que não está mais sozinho neste mundo. Não, não importa o quanto você queria aquele filho, não importan o quando você planejou tudo e se preparou para aquele momento da vida. Um dia, quando você menos esperar, você vai se dar conta de que vai dividir inúmeras experiências com aquele serzinho novo na sua vida, ajudá-lo com seus problemas, comemorar seus feitos e estar na vida deles para sempre, na alegria e na tristeza. E você também vai perceber que o seu papel é ter certeza de que ele/a possa ser o melhor possível, com ou sem você ao seu lado. Dá medo perceber que se tem tanta responsabilidade, mas também uma certa segurança de notar que se está mais do que pronto para o trabalho em questão.

4. Um meio sorriso de reflexo pode mudar o seu humor

Sono, sem tempo para comer, tomar banho, se exercitar, ver filmes, ver os amigos, todas aquelas coisas que eram tão comuns antes do bebê chegar e das quais agora você tem saudades… tudo é esquecido quando o bebê te dá um meio sorriso, que não é nem um sorriso real ainda. Eu sei que o sorriso de verdade vai acontecer logo… quando a Louisa estiver pronta. E quando acontecer, acho que vou derreter como um sorvete no sol (nossa, isso tudo é muito cliche, mas mesmo assim não consigo me conter!)

5. É verdade o que eles dizem… não se tem mais tempo pra nada

Eu sei que todo mundo fala a mesma coisa, mas o que eu fazia com todo o tempo que eu tinha antes? Dormir até mais tarde, noites preguiçosas, idas ao pub… ermmm, não mais! Logo você aprende a dividir a vida em pedaços de 2 horas aqui e ali, pois este é o tempo que você tem entre uma mamada e outra. Tudo o que você faz se torna uma missão e o alarme que manda você parar o que está fazendo (também conhecido como ‘choro faminto’) pode começar a tocar a qualquer minuto. Sair de casa se torna um acontecimento e meio que uma operação militar. Tudo tem que ser cronometrado para que não se corra o risco de o bebê começar a berrar de fome quando você está na fila do correio. Uma aventura e tanto.

6. A sua família e os seus verdadeiros amigos vão estar presentes

Esta é, sem dúvida, a maior revelação depois de tudo o que aconteceu este ano. Eu decidi postar no Facebook o que estava acontecendo com a Louisa, já que ela ficou no hospital por dois meses e as pessoas queriam notícias. O envolvimento das pessoas foi imenso. E eu estou convencida de que todo o pensamento positivo teve um efeito enorme na recuperação da Louisa.

A minha mãe e irmã vieram me visitar pela primeira vez aqui na Inglaterra desde que eu moro aqui (13 anos), meu pai Kao e mãe Iris estavam sempre em contato, mandando mensagens todos os dias (obrigada, Whatsapp!) e muitos dos meus amigos estiveram presentes, ajudando, me abraçando, me dando conselhos, me escutando, perguntando como estavam as coisas ou simplesmente falando de coisas completamente diferentes para me distrair. Algumas amizades começaram no meio de tudo o que estava se passando, outras se fortaleceram e outras se dissiparam, mas quem ficou do meu lado confirmou que está do meu lado pro que der e vier. E eu fico muito feliz com isso.

7. Perspectiva é tudo

A Louisa está super bem agora. Ela está em casa com nenhum equipamento médico. Ela está engordando todas as semanas e crescendo a cada dia. Mas nós sabemos que o sangramento no cérebro dela vai ter que ser monitorado pelos próximos anos. E isso não amedronta a mim ou ao Lee. Nós estamos apaixonados pela nossa menininha e nós acreditamos nela. Estamos prontos para o que o futuro nos trouxer.

8. O amor está por tudo

O amor que se sente quando se olha para um filho/a é indescritível. Ok, mais um cliché. Mas eu me sinto tão abençoada por estar podendo vivenciar isso na minha vida. É muito louco pensar que todo o amor que eu sentia antes dela nascer nem se compara ao amor que eu agora tenho por ela. É um amor que está em outro plano. Eu sei que este amor me ajudou a enfrentar momentos difíceis e eu sei que é este mesmo amor que vai me manter positiva no futuro.

Resumindo… que ano!

Tchau tchau, 2014. E que venha um ano novinho em folha, cheio de alegria, saúde, encontros familiares, momentos felizes e sorrisos sinceros. E ainda mais amor, porque sempre tem mais espaço nos nossos corações.

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Categories: Babies, Being a mummy, Energy, Friendship, Happiness, Living away from home, Love matters, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The secret of happiness… by me.

I have discovered the secret of happiness. Oh yes, I have. It’s something all of us can do, all of us sometimes already do, but may not even realise. I found out about it only this morning, and quickly thought I’d share it with whomever cares to read this post. Are you ready?

This morning, I woke up and got out of bed. I like to get up, go to the kitchen and put the kettle on. Then, whilst the water is boiling, I usually just stand around the kitchen, trying to wake myself up a little more. Today, however, it was almost like the noise of the kettle put me into some kind of trance, for I started looking around as if I was in a different world. An Alice in Wonderland World.

I started looking at all the things that make me happy. Some books I had in the kitchen, some magazines, lovely food, pictures of family and friends… and then a realised… Gosh, I have everything I need. Yes, I still look for more, I still want more (to learn more, to improve more, to travel more…) – I guess this is what keeps us moving forward. But that realisation, there in the kitchen, was such a bliss.

I then made a coffee and left it on the kitchen table, as I felt this urge to go around the house and look for more things that would make me realise how lucky I actually am in life. Entering the living room, I saw my guitar. I absolutely love my guitar and I adore playing it, even though I’m not that good. It makes me feel alive when I play and sing, it’s such a good feeling. Then I saw another pile of books that I can’t wait to read, my laptop that puts me into contact with my lovely family, and then I remembered that I’m going to be seeing them all in a month’s time. And then I started crying because that kind of happiness was just too much.

happiness-is-a-way-of-travel1

I left the living room with tears going down my face and went into the bedroom. There, sleeping like a baby, Lee was just making that very subtle breathing sound that we make when we sleep. I just looked at him for a little while, thinking: ‘Gosh, how did I get so lucky? How did I find this amazing person that loves me and puts up with me?’ And then he woke up and asked me why I was crying. I couldn’t really explain, so I just said: ‘Because I’m happy.’ To which he said, opening his arms and displaying a bit of a puzzled face: ‘Come here…’.  And there I was, embraced by the love of my life, in a warm bed, in silence, thinking about all these little things that make my life and make it so very special. If you really think about it, it’s not much, it’s not stuff. It’s feelings. It’s realisation.

So the secret of happiness, to me,  (I know you have been waiting for this bit) is PERCEPTION. It’s seeing what’s around you but not just seeing it, feeling it and realising how much each of these little things contribute to your well-being and your ‘feeling good’ factor. It’s valuing the people around you and the things that you can do yourself to make your life happier. This is my happiness secret.

So how about you, what is the secret of your happiness?

 

 

Categories: Happiness, Living away from home, Love matters | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

The next right thing

I was reading a story of this woman that was an addict and then became pregnant (yes, it was in Cosmo, but I’m a sucker for reality so excuse me!). She was saying that she felt like a ‘walking contradiction’ when she was a teenager, always pretending to be someone she wasn’t. She pretended very well and was very popular, but deep inside she knew how much she was lying to the outside world – and to herself. Then, she found herself pregnant and finally decided to take action to destroy her worst habits of drinking, bulimia and drug usage. At this point, I thought to myself:  ‘Crickey, that can’t have been easy’. And, because it got me intrigued, I carried on reading.

The story unfolded well and in the end she managed to break free of all of her bad habits. She says that she now accepts that she will never be totally happy, so she is happy to accept to be happy-ish most of the time (I personally find this a bit hard to understand, but she must have her reasons). But this story of struggle is not the reason I’m writing this today. The reason I’m writing is because she mentioned something that struck a chord with me. She had a technique to get rid of her old habits that made her so unhappy but at the same time were so consuming. And I thought that this technique could be of use to anyone, hence this post. It can certainly be useful to me (and I have already started using it).

next

Now, I’m not saying that everyone needs help or anything like that (and I certainly don’t want people to think this is a self-help kind of blog), but who doesn’t find themselves in times of trouble sometimes? Who sometimes doesn’t quite know what to do next? Exactly. The technique is called ‘the next right thing’. If you find yourself in a position where everything is getting on top of you and you don’t know if you are coming or going, just think small and think to yourself: what is the next right thing that I could do? And then do it. And then, if you do this often, it will become a way of life and you will find it much easier to take action when you need to.

Let me translate this into practical examples: you messed up at work. You made a mistake and don’t know what to do now… don’t think about losing your job, how hard it’ll be to find a new one or how people will judge you. Just think of the next right thing you can do to try and resolve the situation. It doesn’t need to be something big, but it will get you moving, rather than freezing because the prospect of all the negative things you thought in the first place. Another example: you feel that you don’t spend enough time with your children and you fear that they will not remember you in the future in the way you hope they would. Yes, this is a very sad prospect, but don’t think that far ahead. Think about the next right thing you can do to never get to that negative outcome. See? It works when you are already in a sticky situation or when you are trying to prevent one.

When I’m overwhelmed, I freeze… I think things like: ‘oh Gosh, this will take ages’ or ‘ ahhhh, I have so much to do, I don’t know how to get started!’ or ‘I want to stop going to bed so late every night, but can never accomplish it’. You can apply this thinking to everything, really (I have been applying it to work, with it being so busy and crazy at the moment).

Taking-small-steps

For a worrier-type like myself, this is a wonderful solution. Instead of over-reacting and thinking ‘this will never be possible’ or ‘I’ll never get out of this situation’, this approach puts things into a much smaller perspective and makes you act. It’ll be a small act, but because you’ll be asking yourself constantly ‘what is the next right thing to do?’, one small act will follow the next and you will end up just doing things instead of thinking them through too much. You will also do what is possible for you at the time, rather than waiting for ‘when the time is right’. Sometimes thinking too much, I find, hinders action. And without doing, we are hardly achieving anything, aren’t we?

Please don’t think that I’m being patronising here. Everyone is different. I’m just saying that this little sentence has already had an effect in my sometimes lazy approach to things… I think, think, think and sometimes don’t really act, and then start thinking ‘why aren’t things happening how I wanted them to?’ Well, it’s my own fault for doing fxxx all about it! Thinking about the next right thing to do makes you constantly do something. And achieve results that can change your life. One step at a time.

Categories: Happiness, Next right thing, Quirky thoughts | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chasing dreams

Today I watched the Wimbledon men’s singles final and saw a very controlled Andy Murray play a fantastic game that gave him a well deserved victory. The whole tennis thing is quite magnetic, you can’t stop watching it and you can almost feel the tension and the players’ strategies changing with each point that is won or lost. It’s an individual game, you are there on your own and your decisions alone can make it or break it.

I couldn’t help it but relate this to life. We analyse everything in so much detail sometimes that I think we miss the window to actually do something in some cases. It’s all good and well to analyse everything to be able to make the best decision, but sometimes life throws you a challenge that requires a quick response. Like a tennis ball that needs to be caught by a racket with no delay, or the point is lost.

In a competition, we can be winners or losers, but what makes us winner in life? If we relate the approach a player would have to a tennis match to our approach to life and what we want to achieve, here is what I think makes us win every time:

1. You’ve got to have a dream

You need to aspire to something, be something, have something, start something that you feel passionate about. Then, you’ve got to put this into action.

2. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

The second step is to get your act together and make a plan – a route that will take you from where you are to your dream.

3. Think NOW

Winners have the ability to think about the ‘right now’ and not focus too much on the long road ahead. They overcome every challenge and slowly build up victories that put them closer to their ultimate dream. They don’t spend time thinking about how difficult things might get, they focus on the NOW and just go with the flow.

4. LOVE it

Whatever your dream is in life, you’ve got to love it. This passion is what will drive you forward and what will make your journey worthwhile. Achieving a dream that isn’t yours will not feel like victory, it’ll feel like hard work and no pleasure. If you love the final destination, every step of the way will feel like a step forward to getting there, which is pleasurable too.

5. Work it

Oh yes, hard work is required, of course. A dream that is easy to achieve doesn’t feel like it’s worthy. You’ve got to put the time and effort in, to make sure you are taking yourself steadily through the journey that will lead to a deserved victory.

6. Own it

You have to take responsibility for all you do, either to achieve your dream or if you let things slip. You can’t just blame others, blame situations and find excuses. You have to own it. It’s your dream, after all.

7. Set goals

Any dream will not be achieved without milestones conquered on the way. These need to be set in advance and carefully and you need to commit to them. It’s a bit like losing weight. You won’t lose 40 kg in 2 weeks, but you can lose 2 kg. As long as you commit to each step of the way, you are moving into the right direction.

8. Carry on, always

Don’t give up. Achieving a dream isn’t an easy task. But think about achieving it. How would it feel? How would YOU feel? Carry on to find out. You won’t be disappointed, I’m sure.

9. Deal with it

Some people say that we are always in one of three positions: we’ve just come out of a storm, we’re in a storm, or we’re headed into a storm. Be prepared for any of these 3 situations and you’ll always come out on top. You might get drenched, but you’ll have learnt invaluable lessons.

10. Be positive

You get to pick your attitude, it’s the one thing you always have control over. So, choose to pick a good one. There’s no reason to be grumpy (like Andy Murray is sometimes! hehe). Enjoy the ride and have faith in the fact that the end of the road will feel amazing.

There you have it. Some inspirational words that I reckon I wrote to inspire myself, more than anything. I would like to start a project that will lead to a dream of mine being accomplished and I guess I just needed to get myself in the zone. It’ll be a long road (and many words!), I know, but milestones is my new favourite word from now on – as is word count! I shall do it. Because it’s my dream. It has been for a long time and I would be stupid if I didn’t chase it.

I hope you feel slightly inspired to chase your own dreams too.

Categories: Dreams, Energy | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dubrovnik – a “Wow!” on each corner…

In our more than relaxed way of travelling, we found out in Split that the only way to go from Split to Dubrovnik was by bus, on a trip that takes 5 hours. Oh, dear… 5 hours on a bus? Mmmmm, I even quickly considered not going at all for a second, but our flight back was from there, so there really was no choice.

I couldn’t have been more mistaken by a bus trip, though, and I can safely say that this was probably the most beautiful bus journey I have ever been on. With an amazing skyline and blue waters everywhere you look, each corner is a new opportunity to let your jaw drop that little bit more whilst you slowly say ‘WOW!’.

The bus also goes through Bosnia, which I heard is an amazing place to visit (maybe next time, eh?). The trip is so amazing that you don’t even realise how long you have been on it.


On the way to Dubrovnik


Scenery seen from the bus

When we arrived in Dubrovnik, the first thing we did was to go to the hotel. This time, since it was the last leg of the holiday, we went for a nicer one, as one of the intentions was to just chill by the lovely torquise waters. Now when I say ‘nicer’ I never imagined it was going to be as nice as it was. From our room, we had a fantastic sea view and the hotel had its own access to the sea, with lots of sun loungers by the rocks. So I don’t even have to tell you that we quickly decided to give our feet a deserved rest from walking and just enjoy the day by the sun. And there were no regrets.

At night, all relaxed and sun-kissed, we went to the Old Town, which was about 15 minutes from the hotel by bus. When we arrived, another ‘WOW!’ Completely iluminated, the place is magnificent and almost hipnotizing. The Old Town is surrounded by the City Walls, which were extremely important during various wars. Today, the walls are part of the UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. The preservation of the site is impecable, even after the damage caused in 1991, when the city was bombarded by military forces, in the process of Yugoslavia’s fragmentation.


City Walls


View from the top of the City Walls

On our second day, we went all the way up the stairs and then allll the way around (no, it’s not free, it costs about £10, but I would highly reccommend it). It took us about 2 and a half hours to walk the whole thing. The highest point is almost 2 metres high (oh, yes, you go a bit dizzy if you look down!), and the views are magnificent! Me and my friend were even joking that it was so beautiful that we found ourselves taking it for granted, so we were not even noticing it that much anymore. That was until we realised it and then started stopping at every corner again.

The best bit for me, though, was to be able to observe the people within the city walls. A lot of people live in many buildings in that area and you can get a pretty good idea of what life is like over there. In fact, you can even get a bit too much information, judging by the pic I took, below. Hehe… You can witness the daily life, you can feel the place breathing and you can gauge people’s habits by just looking around. To me, this is the best bit of travelling:  to see how people go about their lives in a place that is unfamiliar to me.


Local life… literally

Dubrovnik is on the east coast of the Adriatic sea and one of Croatia’s most popular tourist destinations. It’s also a harbour and the most important city of the Dubrovnik-Neretva county. For its natural and urban beauty, Dubrovnik is called ‘the pearl of the Adriatic’.


Harbour


View from the top of the City Walls

It can’t be denied that Dubrovnik has already been ‘discovered’, though. And by that I mean discovered by the tourists. They are everywhere! And lots and lots of them! The place is nothing like peaceful Vis, with its calmness, silence and lots of space to walk around without bumping into anyone. No, no. Dubrovnik is busy, busy, busy.  You see people taking photographs from any angle you can imagine, you get grabbed by the waiter by the hand so he can show you the restaurant menu, you can hardly talk to your friend right next to you as the place is full of noise coming from everywhere. If I was to spend a full week’s holiday in Dubrovnik, I’d probably come home wanting another holiday after that, but I guess this is part of the places’ charm. The place is so nice it’s no wonder it’s full of people all the time.


View from the top of the City Walls


Old Town from the top of the City Walls

One of the advantadges of being in a busy place is to be able to people watch, one of my favourite past times. Just pick one of the many cafés and forget about the time. Look at everyone… the ones in a rush to go to the next site, the loved-up couples, the groups of teenagers, the older couples re-discovering the beauty of travelling on their own again… they all have a story to tell if you look close enough. And surrounded by the medieval, renascentist and baroque architecture, you have the perfect seeting for your story already!

The Irish author and journalist George Bernard Shaw once referred to Dubrovnik as the ‘paradise on Earth’. Mmmm… I’m still to decide if Dubrovnik is my favourite place in Croacia but, regardless of my opinion, you can’t deny that the place is magical and a feast for the eyes. The architecture is great, the city is fantastic at night, the beaches are beautiful and the sea… ah, the sea… I would definitely visit again, I’d just have to find out first which is the month that all the other tourists don’t have the same idea.

Categories: Croatia, Holiday, Travel tips | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vis – the island of tranquility

From the catamaran, you already get the feeling that there is no such thing as high speed in this island. People walk in no rush at all, car drivers don’t even think about going over the speed limits, the water is calm and serene. Even the birds translate the tranquility of the island into their long and lazy singing.

View of the island from the catamaran

The hugs of the people who are meeting after the journey are long and sincere, with no time limit, with no reservations. People seem to have time for one another. They seem to appreciate their time together. No running, no rushing.

Early morning in Vis

On our arrival, we meet our host. Yes, she went to pick us up to take us to the house we booked for two nights. My friend and I prefer to stay in actual local houses whenever possible instead of big hotels. Of course, this depends on each person’s travelling style, but come on… how many times have you been picked up by your host to be taken to the place you booked over the internet with no added charges and with a big smile on their face? Exactly.

Komiza’s local woman

Komiza’s streets

Vis island is about 100 Kilometres from the Italian coast and has an average of 3,000 inhabitants. They work in agriculture, they fish, they make wine or they work in tourism. The island has magnificent beaches, 3 restaurants, a couple of bars, many boats and not many people. Ideal to relax.

Scenery of wars and disputes along he years, Vis started being populated by the Croatians in the 7th century. The island belonged, over the years, to Italy, Austria, France, England and Yugoslavia. In the years of socialist Yugoslavia, Vis became its army base because of its strategic position and Tito, the Yugoslavian leader, hid in the island with all his army for a long time. Vis only started to be inhabited again in 1989.

This isolation, however difficult it was for the inhabitants of the island, placed Vis amongst some of the favourite destinations of the entire Mediterranean when Croatia  became independent. Vis’ beautiful beaches, preserved nature, ecological agriculture and preserved traditional architecture bring more and more visitors to the island each year. It’s still considered a ‘best kept secret’, though, as many people are just not ready to take things slow – and, believe me, this is a requirement when you visit Vis.

On my first day on the island, I witnessed a magnificent sunset. The skies went orange, then red, then pink, until purple slowly took over and covered the entire sky, like a blanket. In a sacred silence I took pictures, looked at the many boats and appreciated the singing of the birds. My friend and I didn’t even speak much, as if breaking the silence would be like committing a sin. A sin against nature.

The most amazing sunset

On our second day, we ‘hired’ a tour guide and his taxi to explore the island for a few hours. Ideally we would have done this by foot, since the entire island is marked for trekking, but our short time didn’t allow us to do so. Our tour guide was a sweet and talkative local and my friend and I came to the conclusion that people in the island must get lonely sometimes – he wouldn’t stop talking, even for one full minute.

Having said that, he gave us a pretty god picture of what life is like in the island. He told us about the relations between people and how sometimes people just need to get out of the island or they might go insane (his own words!). I can only imagine, though. Think about being in one place that is quite remote for a long period of time. I’d probably go crazy too. Don’t get me wrong, I really appreciate peace and quiet, but all the time? Nah, thanks.

One of Vis’ beaches

The tour took us to the highest point of the island, called Hum. There, you’ll find a tiny church where you would only fit about 10 people, if that many. We also went to Komiza, an island of fishermen with shiny sea and weird stuff up on the walls.

Komiza’s walls – what IS that?

Tiny church

Komiza

We visited the beaches (all with pebbles – no sand. Boo!)  and also stopped by a bar to appreciate the sea. Our guide, with his cheeks going slightly red and a big smile on his face, told us then that right there, at that bar, he met his wife, years ago. Sweet.

Where Harry met Sally (haha, where our guide met his wife)

Walking around Vis is the equivalent of stopping in time for a few hours or for a day or two. Everything slows down. The mind starts thinking slower, ideas find their slots within our usually hurried thinking, as if all that was necessary for this to happen was to get out of the rush of real life. Visiting Vis is like putting all the stress you may be going through inside a bottle and then letting the sea take it away, slowly. A luxury I certainly recommend.

* Pictures: Marilia Spindler

Categories: Croatia, Relaxation, Travel tips | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Take it all in

It was my birthday this week. I’m not as excited as I used to be about my birthday for whatever reason, but it’s always something to celebrate all the same. I didn’t think about my birthday until the day before, really, so it was with great surprise that I ended up having a magnificent day.

There is a programme on at the moment on BBC. It’s called The Voice, and I’m sure lots of countries around the world have done their own version of it (through a costly franchise, that is). Yes, I’m a sucker for singing programmes. I just watch them all. Yes, yes, yes, you can think whatever you want. I just like it.

The judges in the UK always say something to the contestants when they finish a song and the audience is going mad. They say: “Take it in, take it all in”. I, for some reason, remembered this on my birthday. I had such an amazing day and just kept thinking to myself: “Take it in, Marilia, take it all in, you deserve it!”. I felt so good about myself and, literally, felt the love in all the messages I received and in all the celebrations: at work, with my boyfriend, with my family, with my friends. It was a superb day and the best of it was that none of it was planned. It was a spontaneous day, full of joy and love.

birthday

Alternatively, birthdays can be planned and filled with quirky things to do. Here’s a list to get you inspired (if your birthday hasn’t come up yet this year):

1. Buy gifts for other people and wish them happy birthday.

2. Wear a cape!

3. Make people sing the Happy Birthday song to you. (backwards)

4. Tell people your new age + 10 years, just to watch their jaw drop.

5. Randomly scream “It’s my birthday!!! Woohoo!” at odd moments (be creative).

6. Ask stangers what they got you for your birthday. If they respond in any way, run and scream, “Ahhhhh, I’m not suposed to talk to people!”

7. Hum (or whistle) the birthday song all day.

8. Take a picture of yourself (and do the same every year after that). You can check out your wrinkles. (nooooo!)

9. Make yourself a birthday cake. And eat it all on your own.

10. Throw a proper party (maybe I’ll do this one next year).

So there you have it. A few tips about what to do on your birthday and an overview of what made me happy on mine. Getting older is not so bad after all…

Categories: Birthday, Creativity, Love matters, Quirky thoughts | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Life’s little surprises

Sometimes life’s a bitch! Or so we think.

I’m usually the type of person that likes to have a plan B (as mentioned in my previous post). If I don’t have one, I get nervous. However, sometimes there is no time to conjecture a plan B, especially when Plan A turns out to be going terribly wrong (or so it seems). Sometimes, things happen beyond our control and the only choice, the only ‘plan’ is to deal with it. There is no Plan B. Or, rather, Plan B is to fix Plan A.

Life’s little surprises can take many forms. A death, the end of a relationship, a redundancy, a betrayal – to name but a  few. In many of these situations, there is little that can be done apart from just keeping it together and moving forward.

For someone like me, that likes to be in control of things, it’s hard to imagine what I’d do in some of those situations. I’d probably panic first and think second – like, 2 days later. But this is exactly where your friends have to act.

Friends will be able to see the bigger picture. You will be there, trapped in all the ins and outs of the situation, all the detail, but they will remind you of what really matters: that you spent quality time with the person that died, that your ex wasn’t all that anyway, that exciting new jobs are waiting for you in the big wide world, that the person that betrayed you never deserved your friendship. They will remind you of what a great person you are, how capable you are and how much they believe in you.

I’m a great believer of the old cliche sentence ‘things happen for a reason’. I stand by that as it proved right far too many times for me to just ignore its truth. Much more often that not, a brand new horizon awaits around the corner and life gets even better! I remember when I ended a long relationship and all my friends and family told me the same thing: ‘one day, all this will be well in the past and you won’t even remember this terrible feeling’. At the time, this was very hard to believe, almost impossible. And now… well, now I have a different partner and, shall I say, a completely different take on life as part of a couple.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the only way to really get out of an unplanned situation is to hold your head high and deal with it. Tackle it like you have no fear. You will feel better for it.You will feel in control of your life again and will start thinking that you are the one dealing the cards. You will make new choices, you will plan ahead, you will decide.

When you come out the other end, you will look at it all in a much different light. Life has a funny way of changing our paths. Sometimes we don’t see it, but the right things happen anyway, even when we feel they weren’t right at the time. Opportunities come up, people appear in your life, lessons are learned. And all this sometimes happens because of a little unplanned detour along the way.

Hard times are not good, of course not. It’s hard to say goodbye, it’s hard to lose your job, it’s hard to be turned down. However, accept it. Embrace it. Make it work for you. If there is one good thing about going through hard times is that the good times are much more appreciated. And better times will come, just believe. And you can be sure that your true friends will be there to celebrate your new victories with you.

 

Categories: Destiny, Energy, Friendship | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Me, myself and… erm… myself

This post will surely bore the hell out of you all, but I’ll post it anyway. Yes, it’s all about me, but the reason for posting it is because, if anything, it can only be a good thing to encourage each of you to do this as well.

This year (and it’s only February!), I have been told by three different people in three separate occasions that I am a very self-aware person. No one ever told me that before. Mmmm… that got me thinking… I wasn’t aware that I was a self-aware person (no pun intended!) and therefore tried to figure out what this meant for me and in my life in general.

It’s no secret that we know more and more about ourselves as the years go by. It’s only logical, really, as the more we ‘live’ with ourselves, the more we will know about our likes and dislikes. And the beauty of it is that the more we know, the more we respond to life’s requests in accordance to our tastes and beliefs. This is if you are brave, though, and not a pushover.

This whole thing got me thinking about myself, what I’m like, what makes me tick, what I want from life, what makes me happy… and after a couple of weeks of making notes, here are my results. Some things are really silly and some reflect my personality on a deeper level, but either way I believe that both make me the person I am. It’s on a list and it’s not in much of an order as they were scattered thoughts that I put down on paper at first. I’m sure this list is not conclusive by any means either but, for now, I think I got a pretty good idea of who I am.

My little list, then:

1. I like eating something sweet before savoury food. Not sure why but I frequently do it.

2. I wash my hair every other day.

3. I always, ALWAYS have to have a Plan B or I get really nervous.

4. I absolutely love butterflies, they are my favourite animal. However, recently I have taken a liking to penguins.

5. I frequently ‘shut off” and don’t listen to people when they are talking to me for several seconds, even though I’ll be looking intently at them. I think they call this ‘selective hearing’.

6. I like to be a recluse sometimes.

7. I like night time a little more than day time.

8. I love the silence of the mornings.

9. I love looking at an empty street (do this all the time from my balcony). I like the silence.

10. I love making jokes and coming up with funny comments. I love making people laugh. I guess this is ‘my thing’ (I hope! ha!).

11. I have a strange passion for whistling. I’m always doing it.

12. I love judging TV adverts (did they pass on a straight forward message, did they convince me to action on something, was it pleasant on the eye, was it clever, etc, etc, etc).

13. I love Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep. In my opinion, they are the best.

14. I love the sea.

15. I hate peas with a passion. Weird little green balls!

16. I am terrified of motorways.

17. I have always been in love with the sunset. It’s always been my favourite part of the day.

18. I love the moon too.

19. I love trees and I like to hug them from time to time. There is an incredible energy that comes from them.

20. I am very easily distracted.

21. I get bored easily. (this can be a problem sometimes!)

22. At work (and even at home), I tend to jump from one task to another without finishing the first. I’ll then end up with 100 things started and none completed. I do tend to complete them, but it’s a funny way of doing things!

23. I love riding bikes.

24. I always like people at first. And then sometimes I just get disappointed. Even so, I’d rather it be this way.

25. I usually change my mind about things.

26. I am a very blunt person. And I can’t really control it. Things just ‘come out’. (area for improvement, me thinks!)

27. I love movies with no happy ending, or with no ending at all. I like that they can just represent a passage in someone’s life.

28. Family is the most important thing in my life.

29. Followed by friends. I don’t have millions, but the ones I have are ultra special. I know them well, they know me well. Quality beats quantity.

30. I like reading and writing and I feel lost if I don’t do both for a while.

Ok, enough about me. Yes, I agree it can be boring reading about someone else’s characteristics. If you reached the end of this post, however, it’s because you have some interest in how people operate. This means that you may be interested in finding out things about yourself. You probably know it all already, but I found it so helpful to put it all on paper. It kind of helped me figure out areas for improvement and also made me happy to realise that I do and I am a few things that I’m proud of.

If anything, I found this a good exercise. And if people think I’m ‘self aware’, good! I had to write it all down, but yes, I suppose I can agree with that. The more we know ourselves, the more corageous we are with our life decisions. The clearer is our path and what we have to do next. It’s almost like looking at yourself with a magnifying glass. Just be ready to find out all sorts.

Categories: Personality traits, Quirky thoughts | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

My neck of the woods…

When I first came to England, I lived in London for 3 years. Then, I went back to Brazil to finish university (I was half way through it at that point) and then moved back to the UK to be with the person I (then) loved. We then went to live in Lancashire because of his work. We are no longer together, but I’m still here! I ended up in this little part of the world by chance and now feel so at home that I miss it when I’m not here. Talk about destiny…

I’m originally from Novo Hamburgo, a city in the south of Brazil and, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the place. It’s where I was born, where my family and best friends are and it’s the place that I know like the palm of my hand. However, I think that sometimes you just connect with other places and this is exactly what happened when I moved to Lytham St Annes. As the expression goes, this is my neck of the woods.

Lytham St Annes is a conurbation in the Fylde district of Lancashire. The neighbouring towns of Lytham and Lytham St Annes form a seaside resort. These towns are situated to the south of Blackpool at the point where the coastline turns east to form the estuary of the River Ribble (often called Ribble Ribble by the locals) inland to Preston. St Annes, like Blackpool, overlooks the Irish sea.

St Annes is internationally renowned for golf and has four golf courses and links, the most famous being the Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club, one of the hosts for the Open Championship (also known as the ‘British Open’), which has been a competition course since first hosting the Open in 1926. Approximately once every ten years, the coming of The Open—a major sporting event—brings a major influx of visitors, including the world’s media, into our fairly peaceful community. Celebrities come to appreciate the golf championship and cause a bit of a havoc in the community. As you can see, the place is nothing like London, where celebrities can be spotted at Nando’s anytime. This year St Annes was the host for The Open again and I could witness the buzz for myself. Many people are out and about and the athmosphere is great!

St Annes, as the place is usually called (dropping the ‘Lytham’) is magical. You have sea, sand, nice people, nice pubs, international sport events (once every ten years so it doesn’t spoil the calmness of the place), amazing sunsets and a peaceful life. What more can you ask for?

Below are some of my snaps of St Annes, so I can share what all the fuss is about… there is a lot to see and do, but you’ll still feel like you are on a peaceful holiday.

The St Annes Pier…

The band stand…

The beach huts on the prom…

The swam and the ducks… Awww…

The ice cream stand…

The little café on the prom…

The local pub…

The main promenade…

A carefully placed bench…

Another great local pub, 5 minutes from home…

And yet another pub… no shortage here. This is 2 minutes from home!

Part of the lovely ‘square’, which is the main shopping area of S Annes…

The train station…

And even if all of the above didn’t exist, I’d still want to live here because of this one below… the sunset is the most amazing I have ever seen!

So there you have it… my little tribute to St Annes, a little town that welcomed me with arms wide open and that makes me feel at home every single day. So much so that I can’t think of living anywhere else anymore…

Categories: Living away from home, St Annes living | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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