Posts Tagged With: Marilia

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

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

Happiness, where the blooming hell are ya?

Last night I went to bed earlier than usual, as I have had a busy couple of weeks and have been very tired. Tired ‘to have my eyes closing when I’m on the sofa’ tired. But then I woke up, feeling completely awake and uneasy. I couldn’t find a comfortable position, I couldn’t get back to sleep. Because I went to bed early, I wasn’t tired anymore, as this was about 6 in the morning. So I just stayed there, lying in bed, thinking about how I didn’t want to sleep, but how I didn’t feel like getting up either.

Why are there days like this? Am I the only one? I’m not depressed or sad or anything like that – as far as I know!  – and, still, some days, I just can’t get going. I then picked up my phone and went on the internet. I typed in ‘happiness’ and found some excellend stuff that calmed my spirits. And so I decided to share it with you.

Apparently, there are 4 mistakes we make when we are pursuing happiness. 4, that’s it. And here they are:

1. Let it flow.

When we are thinking about happiness and trying to establish if we are happy, we end up comparing current experiences to past ones. We don’t notice when we do this, exactly, but this alone blocks a happy moment. The minute you start making comparisons, you shift from experiencing mode to evaluating mode. Think of the days when you are enjoying your work so much that when you look again it’s 5pm. Think of the holidays in the sunshine that go so quickly. Think of being immersed in a book that you are really enjoying. Think of savouring  some nice food. Think of having great sex. Think of ice cream, think of a good movie, think of admiring the sunset, think of cold beer when you are really really thirsty.Yes, you’re in the zone. You’re so immersed in the task that you lose track of time and the outside world. This is happiness.

2. Get real.

The second thing that we do that makes us dodge happiness is to overestimate the emotional impact of positive life events. We think that a major promotion, a new partner, a new house or a new car will make us happier, overlooking the fact that we’ll adapt to the new circumstances. Each time something changes for the better in our lives, we get happy… and so we should. However, that something won’t change our lives forever. We will get used to things again and will probably question again if we should be pursuing something or someone else that will bring us happiness. So I guess it’s not about the what, but more about the how.

3. It’s everywhere.

Happiness is an individual state, so we tend to look for it in ourselves. However, in a recent study, the greater the value people placed on happiness, the more lonely they felt every day for the next two weeks. I think the clue here is to get involved with other people, to let them be in our lives and let us be in theirs too. I’m guilty of this myself. Lately, I have found that I like my own company and I like being at home, so I don’t do much socialising. I’m lazy for it, that’s the honest truth. In fact, I’m just like my dad. He is not a person to do much small talk and I’m the same. If it won’t be meaningful, I’d rather read a book, thanks. I don’t do it on purpose, though, I guess I have just learned how to say no when I want to. However, it doesn’t look like this is the right approach. We need contact to be happy. We need to interact. Hermits like me can only get depressed, so I’ll have to sart being really careful and getting my bum off the sofa and out the door. Soon.

4. Mild is fine, thanks very much.

The fourth and last mistake we make is to look for intense happiness. When we want to be happy, we look for strong positive emotions like joy, elation, enthusiasm, and excitement. Research shows, however, that this isn’t the best path to happiness. Apparently, happiness is driven by the frequency, not the intensity, of positive emotions. When we aim for intense positive emotions, we evaluate our experiences against a higher standard, which makes it easier to be disappointed, since an intense positive experience can only lead us to frame ordinary experiences as less positive. So, this one is a given, right? Again, it’s the little things. Receiving a smile from a stranger on the street, finding parking space on a busy road, being driven somewhere by your mum whilst having a nice chat, achieving something before the microwave pings (ha! I knew you’d identify with this one!), lying on the grass on a sunny day. That’s it. No mater how small, happiness is in everything. And if we think about it, there are many more small opportunities that can bring us happiness than massive ones. So mild happiness can become ‘big time’ happiness. If you give it a chance.

So, overall, I think that if we change our actions, and not our circumstances, we have a much better chance to let happiness be in our lives. And then, we probably won’t even notice it, as it will be part of our day, every day, every minute of it.

By the way, I did get up. I also went to work, went to a shop and returned an item that I no longer wanted, came back home, made my dinner and I’m now about to watch a movie with my partner Lee, so I guess the day went fairly well after all. Sometimes all you need is to just get up and get out, without thinking too much.

By the way (2), the source for this post is here.

 

Categories: Happiness | 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

The Dutch

Since my first visit to Amsterdam, in 2000, I have developed some kind of fascination with the Dutch people. They seem to speak right to me and I seem to understand what they are all about – and deeply admire it.

Over the years, I visited Amsterdam four times and I plan to go there again and again and again. The place is magic – and, believe me, magic is a word I definitely use sparingly when describing a place that I like.

To start with, I like the place because it’s beautiful. And my apologies that I can’t speak for the whole of the Netherlands as I have only been to Amsterdam, but I’m sure I’d be just as fascinated had I travelled further within the country.

Amsterdam has a charm that is even hard to explain. The best thing about it is to get lost (and by that I don’t necessarily mean getting lost by a drug high you can achieve legally over there). I’m talking about walking and walking and walking so much that all of a sudden you start recognising that you have been going round in circles a little bit and took a long time to notice. It doesn’t matter one bit, though. The place is so beautiful and so majestic that you simply won’t mind seeing the same sights over and over again.

Lee and I went to spend Easter in Amsterdam a week ago and, once again, the place amazed me. So, with everything fresh in my mind, I compiled a bit of a list of my favourite things about Amsterdam and the Dutch people.

Please note: I’m not an expert and my travels consisted of 4 visits, so please forgive me for not being extremely thorough, I’m only mentioning the things that strike a chord with me.

So here goes…

1. The way of life

The Dutch seem to live a very balanced life style. They cycle everywhere, they all look healthy and fit and, most importantly, they seem to really enjoy life. A recent study said that 75% of  the Dutch women work part-time and are perfectly happy with their decision. In fact, the Dutch don’t work very much at all, when compared to their European fellow countries. They work an average of 30.6 hours a week, which is nearly one day less than in any other European country. Even so, they still manage to be at the top of the list for productivity, so we could say that working less hours seem to make people more productive. It makes sense: if you have a good work-life balance, you will be happier and, in turn, you will have more enthusiasm to do your work. Clever people .

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Life is good, eh?

2. The Food

The supermarkets contribute, in my opinion, to the Dutch being so healthy. Lee and I were amazed, in our last visit, at how beautifully the fruit and veg are displayed on the shelves. They get placed on shelves with these glass doors, making the whole fruit and veg section look like a shop window. It makes everything look so fresh and yummy. Having said that, nothing beats a good stroopwafel with a steamy cup of coffee. Or the marvellous cheese and brown bread they make. Or the most amazing apple pie I’ve ever had (to be found on Winkel 43 – Noordemarkt). Not so healthy, perhaps, but all true Dutch national treasures.

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Stroopwafel and apple pie. Yum!

3. The bikes

The thing you have to get used to quickly in Amsterdam is the bikes. They are everywhere. With over 880,000 bikes in a city where 790,000 people live, no wonder they are seen on every space available on the streets, on top of one another sometimes, and all around the city, with all the Ducth people riding them. And the reason you have to get used to it quick is because the cyclists may run over you if you’re not careful. They do tell you if you are in their way by ringing their bell a bit in advance, but sometimes just before they are about to hit you. Eeek!

The bikes add to the charm of the city and are certainly a major photo opportunity on every corner. And the most curious thing about this bike-obsessed life is that the Dutch really don’t seem to care for really fancy bikes. They prefer theirs to be gearless and rusted, with the odd exception when they paint them in cool colours (see photo). The Dutch don’t thrive on spending money where not necessary – and the bikes, although a main mean of transport, don’t make top of the list for them to spend their (not so hard-earned) money on.

The most amazing thing, though, is what you get to see the Dutch doing on their bikes. They carry their children on it, they carry heavy objects (such as the massive mirror Lee and I saw this guy carrying on our last visit), they eat, they talk on the phone, they have a full conversation with the fellow biker next to them. It looks extremely easy, but I bet it takes years and years of practice.

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Family day out on the left, a very cool bike in the middle and a busy mum on the right

4. The bluntness

I like blunt people. I like when you know where you stand with others. I tend to be like this – which sometimes doesn’t go that well with my polite British fellow colleagues and friends. But hey. I admire it. And the Ducth are just the same.

If you ask them a stupid question, they will look at you like you are, ermm… stupid. And when they stop looking at you that way and decide to help you out by answering your question, expect the answer to be short and sweet. They are straight-forward people and hanging around doesn’t seem like a productive use of their time. However, I may be speaking from a ‘tourist’ point of view here, and they might show a lot more tact with people they actually know. Still, I admire this ‘black and white’ approach (it’s even on the street signs!).

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Lots of the famous Dutch orange on everything, of course – even when they’re being blunt!

5. The houses

Oh my God, they all look so amazing. Outside and inside. And I can say that about the inside because one of my favourite things to do in Amsterdam is to let my inner voyeur out and look inside every single house I have the opportunity to. I think they are amazing. The Dutch have this ability to group things together, but nothing ever looks too matchy-matchy. Everything they seem to own has a purpose to be where it is and the colours they put together sometimes don’t go (in theory), but in practice they just work. They certainly have a gift for making a place look effortlessly welcoming, cosy and modern at the same time. Hats off.

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6. The flowers

They are in almost every house, in restaurants, cafes, stations – pretty much everywhere. And boy do they make the place look colourful, inviting and fresh! I just love how they use flowers for decoration. You see all kinds and they are quite cheap. I wish they were that cheap here in the UK, so my home could have more of it. Flower power.

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7. The 3 kisses

This is something we do in Brazil and, during my few visits to Amsterdam, I noticed a lot of people doing the same. The tradition works in the same way as it does in Brazil: 3 kisses on the cheek (more like ‘blown in the air’ kisses) that start on the right, then left, then right cheek again. The kisses are for family and friends only, though – like in Brazil. It’s just so refreshing to see that, when here in the UK people have this barrier and this personal space that the other person shouldn’t even dare trespass. Refreshing and closer to home.

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Ok, maybe not on the mouth!

 8. The airport

I just love Schiphol Airport – it’s definitely my favourite. Arriving there gives a pretty good picture of what is to come. It’s straight-forward to find where you have to go (very Dutch-like), modern and, to me, the most important thing: it’s colourful. It’s an airport I usually choose for flight connections to Brazil, if I can, and it’s definitely a bonus to be able to buy some stroopwafel on your stopover.

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Vibrant and colourful features make Schiphol special.

9. The passion for life

The Dutch seem to have a special passion for life. They seem to have this eagerness to enjoy every single second, even if it’s by doing nothing. I remember seeing many people just sat at their door step soaking in the sunshine and doing nothing else. They have this ability to enjoy the moment, to relax, to just ‘be’. They don’t seem to be a worried nation, they take life as it comes and cross bridges when they come to them. They don’t get stressed. These are characteristics I really admire, as I can be a stress-head sometimes. We have a lot to learn with the Dutch and their quirky approach to life, me thinks.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA… and relax!

Overall, the Dutch seem to be very happy people and I think this is what fascinates me. Nothing seems to phase them too much. They eat well, they exercise, they are friendly, they don’t mess about, they are proud of who they are. They just seem to go through life in a very well-established manner, like they have all read this secret amazing book of ‘how to live life in the best way’ (but shhh, please don’t tell anyone).

When Lee and I were at the airport, coming back to the UK after our last visit, we were having a chat about how great it would be to live in Amsterdam. We would work less, we would be more relaxed, we would be fitter. We then started talking about how and if this would even be an option for us. I was voting yes, and so was Lee, but then we thought again and found a major obstacle: we’re just not cool enough.

Categories: Amsterdam, Coolness, Dutch People, Living away from home, The Good Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Brazil x England – (Ding Ding!)

It’s now been over two months since I arrived back in the UK from my holiday in Brazil. I’ve had enough time to analyse how the trip went, although when you go to see family and friends it’s bound to be good anyway. In fact, it seems like it happened ages ago and I miss he place and everyone already!

As you may/may not know, I live in the UK and all my family and childhood/teenage years friends live in Brazil, so every time I go I try to see as many people as I can to make sure that the bonds that are so important to me stay as they are: strong.

This time, there was a difference, though. I took the boyfriend with me. I was a little anxious as to what he would think of Brazil… but let the trip run its course without asking him a million times whether he was having a good time or not. I could actually see for myself that he was happy, but I didn’t want to keep on asking the question and annoying the hell out of him.

It turns out that he loves it, which is fantastic! It was funny to watch him around my family and friends. Lee is a naturally quiet person and he’ll only really let go when he has known the person for a little while (or if he is drunk, ha!). Even so, it seemed like he felt pretty comfortable being around everyone, which was a relief. At the end of the holiday, I left Brazil with my parents and friends telling me what a catch he is (and because he now knows what they think, I’ll have to look at his smug face forever!).

Anyway, this post is not about that, really, it’s about me thinking of Brazil and REALLY thinking about the reasons why I chose not to live there. I have written about this here before, mainly about not being able to explain why I chose to live in England over Brazil.

Now here’s the truth: these are two completely different countries in so many ways… age, politics, society, culture, economy, etc. Even so, I find that a few of my top reasons for not living in Brazil are quite shallow considering other issues that could well tip the balance in England’s or Brazil’s favour.

So here they are:

1. Hay fever

Who suffers from this sneezing-evil condition will know what I’m talking about. In Brazil, I am ALWAYS sneezing, my nose is always running and I find that this has a massive impact on my quality of life. In England, I only suffer from hay fever for a couple of months during spring, if that.

England 1 x Brazil 0

2. Security

In England, Lee and I go out at night and walk back home, no matter the distance or the time. I do not worry and I am not scared walking around in England. In Brazil, as everyone knows, the story is very different. Lately, it seems to have been getting  even worse.

England 1 x Brazil 0

3. Food

In England, a much smaller country than Brazil, there seems to be so much more food variety. And although the fruit and veg do taste a lot better in Brazil, England’s selections of cheese make up for it in one go.

England 1 x Brazil 0

4. Travel

In Brazil, the airports can be quite disorganised and the air fares are not always the most friendly on the pocket. In fact, it can be cheaper to travel abroad than it is travelling within the country! England, on the other hand, proves to be a fantastic connection to the world and the amazing places out there.

England 1 x Brazil 0

5. Salary

This was always a positive about England. Not anymore. 13 years ago, I remember working in a restaurant in London, paying for all my bills whilst renting a room in a house with other friends, going out and still being able to save to go travelling. Now, the same recession that seems to have impulsed growth in Brazil, hit England in a bad way. Having a job is a bonus and saving any money can be compared to performing a small miracle. Having said that, I recently read that the cost of living in Brazil has skyrocketed, leaving people with no choice but to swallow hard and carry on.

Brazil 1 x England 0

6. Organisation

For as long as I remember, getting any kind of document in Brazil is a very good reason for a headache. The queues are never-ending, the forms are not straight-forward and there are always obscure rules that no one knows about. In England, everything is so black and white it can even get embarrassing if you don’t understand how things work. They make it easy for everyone and usually things are done pretty quickly.

England 1 x Brazil 0

7. Politics

In Brazil, we all know how messy this scenario is. Year after year, the same corrupt politicians are still part of the government (how?) and most people still seem to sell their votes to the highest bidder. In England, the majority seems to take much more of an interest in politics. They recognise how it affects daily life and make sure they have their say.

England 1 x Brazil 0

8. The climate

Yes, ok, call me crazy, but I prefer to be in the cold than in the scalding hot weather of Brazil. It drives me absolutely mad to be sweating all day every day, to sleep unfomfortably and not be able to function properly if not in the mercy of an air con. I like the cold weather England has to offer which, funnily enough, is what the English try to run away from at any given opportunity. Yes, I like sunny days, but by the beach. For city living and a working life, I’m happy where I am, thank you.

England 1 x Brazil 0

So, if you have done the maths, England wins 7×1. But it’s not just about this list. There is something else. Still, unfortunately, it’s that something I can’t explain. There must be something in the air. Or I might have past connections with this place – yes, I do believe this is possible! I don’t know what it is. I love Brazil to bits and it will always be my favourite country where a lot of people I love are but, to me,  nowhere else says HOME as England does. For now. (ha!)

Categories: Brazil, Home, Living away from home, London, My home, St Annes living, Winter | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Living together

About two weeks ago it completed one year of Lee and I living together, just the two of us in the same house. And what fun have we had so far.

Yes, some adaptation was required and yes, some compromises had to be made by the two of us, but hey, we survived, and coming home to him is one of the best parts of my day. I was married before, so the concept of living together was not a surprise, but people are different, so the experience was completely different again, naturally. I think I developed a little set of rules to make sure we are enjoying the best about sharing the same roof, and not engaging in stupid little bickering about small stuff that really isn’t that important.

So, below are our little rules. It’s worth pointing out that none of them were decided beforehand, they were created with time and adaptations, leaving things to fall into place naturally. I guess that they shouldn’t even be called rules, they should just be called  ‘a gentleman and a lady’s unspoken agreement’… ha!

1. How much stuff have you got?

This was the first thing he brought up, with surprise. When we moved in, it became very clear that my stuff needed a lot more room than his stuff. Oh dear. It was hard to justify the need I had to keep all I had. My reasoning was that I had already done a car boot sale and also given to charity a lot of the things that I didn’t need anymore, so what entered the flat HAD to stay. I was adamant that I would definitely need all that paperwork from 10 years ago, all the clothes that I hadn’t worn in ages and all the shoes that are kept neatly in drawers whilst I always wear my trusted pair of flats. He had to just put up with this. If I hadn’t given away so much beforehand, he would have a point, but I had already gone through that exercise and just couldn’t make myself do it twice in a space of 3 months. Oh, no no no! This, of course, ended up with me having 2 wardrobes against his one and muuuch more cupboard space. The delights of living with a woman, I say.

2. My space, your space

This one we quickly figured out. Lee and I love being together and spending time together, but we absolutely love our own space. We need it. So, quite quickly, it was established (again, without words, this just happened), that his ‘cave’ would be the spare room, whilst mine would be the front room. We didn’t initially intend for this to happen, as when we moved in we put my desk and his desk in the spare room. However, I found myself in the front room the entire time, so it made sense to move my desk there. This way, my ‘office’ is in the living room and his is in the back room. I never complained, because I ended up with a sea view. Cunning move.

3. He cooks, I wash

I’m a terrible cook. Well, I can cook to survive and I do it sometimes, but when you live with someone who does it 1000 times better than you, there is no reason why they shouldn’t take on the task. Lee is a lot more adventurous than me in the kitchen. He buys new spices, he tries different things, he has a good palate and the best thing is that I like his food. So, our unspoken agreement in the kitchen area is that he cooks and I wash the dishes. (I think  I got the best end of the bargain here!)

4. Let me do the cleaning

I’m an extremely organised person. I like to keep paperwork organised, I like to have clean and clutter-free surfaces and I hate piles of stuff that have no place to go – this doesn’t happen in my home. Lee, on the other hand, is more of a laid back type and doesn’t care if the place is messy. My ask on this one is that he just let me do it. Just let me get on with it and be my own tidy self and also tidy him up. I mean, he can easily lie down and watch a movie with lots of stuff out of place in the living room, whilst I can’t. I can only relax when there is no mess around. I’m not saying I’m pedantic, but I’m uncomfortable in an untidy place and, in a situation like that, I can’t think of anything else but getting up and… tidying it all up. Pronto.

5. I do laundry, you take the rubbish out

I enjoy separating the clothes, washing the clothes, hanging them to dry, folding them nicely and putting them away, making sure our wardrobes are always tidy (ish – ok, I’m not that much of a freak!). I refuse to do any ironing, so it’s paramount that the clothes are hung properly and, although I tried leaving the task to Lee a few times, sadly he just doesn’t seem capable enough – the same way it works with me and cooking, I suppose, so each to their own, eh? Lee retributes the favour by taking out the rubbish.

6. My food, your food

Unfortunately, Lee and I have a few very different tastes in food. For example, he hates fish – apart from tuna – and I like fish a lot. I love vegetables and he couldn’t care less about them. So, we decided that during the week, we cook our own dinners, so I can have my fish and he can have whatever he wants. Then, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, he is my personal chef and we eat stuff we both like. Yummy arrangement.

7. Leave me alone

I think I wouldn’t be able to live with someone near me the whole time. I like to be alone. I like my own company. I like being in complete silence sometimes, just me and a book. I like to watch movies on my own, I like to write and I like to re-organise drawers – haha, I AM sad! Lee also enjoys his quiet moments by himself and this mutual respect is amazing. We don’t need to be glued to each other and the fact that we both feel the same way is pure luck.

8. You shall not become cave people

There is a balance between spending time apart and isolating yourself. Instinctively, I think Lee and I know what this time is before we become two strangers! You can’t just indulge in constant isolation and expect your partner to be there for you, just waiting with open arms. The time apart is to do your own thing. But the time together should follow suit and be constant.

9. My way, my way!

I think one of the biggest lessons of living together is to realise that things will not always be your way. I’m a strong-willed person and I can fight to prove a point to great extent, but living together is not always about that. Sometimes, to keep peace, it’s just easier to let go. So what if he forgets his towel on the bed sometimes? So what if he empties the dishwasher but leaves practically all the cupboard doors open afterwards? So what if he never closes a drawer completely (arghhhh!)? I suppose this small stuff is exactly that: small and not worthy of an argument.

10. The enjoyment of two

Living together is a mixture of many things. You get angry, you get frustrated, you feel selfish, you feel like you are getting/giving more than you are giving/getting sometimes. But then you watch movies together, you cook together, you get and give lots of hugs and cuddles and kisses and you have that person to talk to all the time and that’s great. Living together with your partner is like living with your best friend. It’s a huge step, because it’ll tell you black and white if you are compatible for the long run. A rule of thumb to make the decision, I guess, is this: you should only live with someone if you can’t live without them.

Oh, and also on the subject, I recently saw this advert and absolutely loved it! It’s an Ikea one about… erm, living together! Just click here to watch.

Categories: Home, Living together, Relationships, Rules | 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

No regrets

My home country suffered a tragedy a week ago. A fire in a nightclub killed over 230 young people and injured over 100. The reasons for the fire were lack of common sense and the infamous Brazilian way of doing things (by that I mean expired fire assessment certificates, no fire extinguishers in the premises, etc). Total chaos and very ‘Brazil’, I have to admit. Very, very sad.

This post, however, is not about the reasons why this has happened, although this would certainly deserve a post of its own. This post is about the young people that died. They all died almost instantly by the inhalation of carbon monoxide. Doctors said that they didn’t feel any pain, they just sort of fell asleep.

I can’t help but imagine them waking up, though. Waking up in the spiritual sense, I mean, after they had gone to ‘the other side’, after they were already dead. Some people claim that, after you die, your spirit comes out of your body and you can watch what is happening around you. You can see your body there, motionless, lifeless.

This image in my head made me think of what those young spirits would be thinking, how hard it must have been for them to understand what had happened and what they were doing there, lying on the floor of a nightclub full of black smoke, full of other dead people, full of their friends. I wonder if in this situation you think you can go back to your body and make yourself wake up from this bad dream. I wonder if they thought of the things that they still wanted to do in life. And I wonder if there was anything that they felt they should have done before dying. Anything that they regretted.

This week, I had the oportunity of watching a video about a nurse that recorded the top 5 regrets of dying people.

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog and, subsequently, she compiled her observations into a book called ‘The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying’.

The nurse writes about the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. “When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently,” she says, “common themes surfaced again and again.”

Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Ware:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

At the end of their lives, many people realise that they had not honoured half of their own dreams, either because of choices that they made or because of choices that they didn’t make.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

Time with family and friends was sacrified because of work and many of the dying mentioned working too much as one of their main regrets.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

With many of the dying having developed illnesses related to supressing their feelings, it’s no wonder that not making people aware of what’s inside can result in ill health and an unfulfilled life.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Who can’t think of good friends that we lost touch with? Those friendships from our school years that, if cultivated, could have become large parts of our lives? It’s so important to keep in touch with friends and yet so many people leave it ’till later’, when it can be too late.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

Those deaths in Brazil, if anything, have made me think about how fragile life is and how responsible we are for our own happiness. If anything good can come out of it, be it our evaluation of what we are doing with our own lives. We still have time to change things, we still have time to take charge of our own future. We still have time to have no regrets.

Categories: Death, Time | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Winter time!

Having just arrived back from my sunny (and lovely!) holiday in Brazil, it’s no wonder that the icy, snowy and cold weather that welcomed me back to England proved to be a bit of a shock to the system. On my first few days back, I tried to not even leave the house… all I wanted to do was to stay in with all the radiators on full power (was I trying to get the Brazilian sunshine feel back into my life? Probably.).

The radiator trick didn’t last too long, so I just had to come to terms with the change and start embracing it. And when I finally let go off the lack of sunshine in my life, I actually realised that there are many things that I do like about winter.
Here’s my top 10.

1. Hot chocolate

Yum! Nice and hot, creamy and full of marshmallows… who doesn’t love it? But I don’t make mine with hot water only, I always use mainly milk and chocolate powder. This makes it scrummy and delicious!

2. Early crispy mornings

I have been going to the gym in the morning before work (talk about New Year’s resolutions!) and I find myself really enjoying the cold early mornings. They are very fresh and crispy and make me feel really empowered somehow.

3. Snuggling

Of course this one would be on the list. Who doesn’t love snuggling up to someone they love? It’s the perfect time of the year to watch movies in bed, holding each other and fighting over who will get out of bed to make the next round of hot chocolates.

4. Scarves

I’m a scarf-lover and I reckon it makes an outfit most of the time. What better time than winter to try all the ways in which you can wrap a scarf around your neck?

5. Snow

Yes, it’s a nightmare to drive in it, but nothing beats a snow-covered garden, street, park. It’s just so beautiful, calming, quiet… pure bliss!

6. PJs

I’m a PJ girl and by that I mean that if I’m at home, I’m usually wearing pyjamas. The good thing is that in winter at least I have an excuse for doing that and not feel like a lazy sod all the time.

7. Sunshine

There is something about the sunshine in winter. If you care to get up early in the morning when the sun is just coming up, the golden look it gives buildings and gardens is amazing.

8. Books

There is no better season to spend time reading than in winter. I usually do a lot more reading in winter than in summer. It just feels right to be lying down, under the blanket, lost in a good story.

9. Hot baths

Ahhhh, this is always a winner for me in the cold weather. Some candles, some nice bath oil and a good magazine. I say magazine because although I love baths, I’m not patient enough to stay in there too long. Still it’s one of my favourite things in winter.

10. Thinking time

Winter is a good time to think about life, choices and the future. We are usually not so busy and can just chill with the extra time in hand.

So there you go… I love all seasons, really, and I can’t deny I do like the cold weather. My body seems to like it too. I feel energised and ready to take on the world, even if lots of stops happen for a much needed brew along the way.

Categories: Winter | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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