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Find everything from within!

Find everything from within!

The days passed and we are over six months into the COVID era. We needed to find answers and surprisingly we managed to find everything from within! Yes, everything had changed. We as humans, to survive, we rapidly adapted. We are getting used to the new norms and a young generation of kids are learning it as the only reality they know.

COVID is like a coin with a “Creation side” and a “Devastation one”. During COVID times, some believe they are lucky as the coin felt face up on the opportunity/side for them. Others feel unlucky as it felt facing down for them. I don’t believe in luck. I believe in humans taking responsibility of their destiny as we all have the power to define our future by the actions we take in our journeys. 

Here some positive things COVID brought

  1. Gave permission to do things people were hesitant to try.
  2. Put a magnifying glass on the extremes that existed in our society.
  3. Pushed every individual to redefined terms and priorities.
  4. Catalyzed technological advances.
  5. Time to find everything from within!

1- Permission

How many young moms wanted to homeschool their kids and didn’t dare to go against the grain? “What would happen to the kids?” They were wondering, “Are they going to be socially inadequate?” Now, COVID sent all the kids home and moms are seeing the benefits. Of course, this is not a solution that fits every household or every kid!

The same happened with the home office concept! Companies were hesitant to move and try remote work. The new reality with COVID forced them to experiment with what they were postponing for years. Suddenly lots of data is coming in that will help companies to plan their future moves and views on this topic.

2- The magnifying glass effect

Problems don’t arise overnight. Problems and behaviours live within us in us latency. Throughout our lives, we learned tools to adapt and control ourselves to be socially accepted. Stress can trigger human emotions exposing unwanted behaviours. As COVID showed up suddenly, we didn’t have time to prepare or accept the changes imposed in our daily lives.

Overnight our survival switch was “on”, and all the control we believed to have, was out of our hands.

Losses of jobs and the fact many stayed more time at home living extended hours interacting with the family, change the dynamics. The fusses got snappier than ever and lots of domestic violence is happening. Consumption of alcohol rose considerably which lead to worst outcomes. The personality problems were there!  Now, the lack of communication became obvious, and the new scenario wasn’t favouring those involved in this kind of toxic relationship.

Although, on the flip side of the coin, those who had a good relationship embraced the opportunity to spend more time together, to share things that busy routines were in the way without even noticing. Lots of people became more empathic, more tolerant and less egoistic.

We had time to stop and smell the roses!

3- Redefining terms and priorities

COVID made us stop our life abruptly forcing us to stay at home and preventing us to do anything we were used to doing outside of our houses. The society had time (which we were always craving for) to realize after a few weeks into lockdown, that we were not missing so badly the restaurants or the bar experience, the rushing to meeting friends and having the feeling of running without a destination.

Finally, we started to enjoy our homes, to declutter our lives and fell a sense of stillness.

We accepted the fact we won’t be travelling abroad for a while and maybe it is a good idea of travelling locally to support our country, provinces, cities and neighbourhoods. A sense of community was reborn. My hubby and I buy from the grocery corner store, smaller stores became more desirable and safer than the massive supermarkets.

You and I want the small business owners in our hoods to survive therefore we make a conscious effort to buy from them.

Our priorities shuffle. No better, no worst. Just different. The accent is now put into humanity, into looking around and become part of something bigger. It’s a time to find everything from within!

4- Catalyzed technology advances

Did I need to go to the doctor’s office and wait for an hour in a room full of sick people sometimes for hours? How come the teleconference wasn’t available before COVID? Why people didn’t trust online shopping for produce and now they are doing it and enjoying it? Kids couldn’t attend remote classes or us remote meetings especially in days when heavy snow made so dangerous the driving?

Fear and perfection it’s all that comes to mind. I call this “The polishing effect”. When someone is afraid of failure, rejection or not being good enough, it feels safer to keep polishing the gem believing one day it will become irresistible and impossible to be rejected. But that rarely happens in real life! Especially nowadays that technology moves at a speed very hard to catch for the average person!

The old and wise quote “Better done than perfect” os proving itself during COVID. 

I am a firm believer in disruption as a catalyzer for progress.

COVID disrupted our world in ways we couldn’t imagine or anticipate. As the evolution shows not the stronger are the ones who survive, are the more flexible and adaptable individuals, businesses and societies. The power of our communities is greater than we believed in the past and to our surprise, we could find everything we need within.

This pandemic brought us time to find everything from within! By that, I mean within ourselves, our homes, our families and most importantly our communities and countries. If we always had it all from within then the question reminds… What, why and who told us we needed to be looking outside? Different people, societies and history will remember COVID in different ways. It will all depend on the boat each one was in during the storm.

I naively hope COVID would continue pushing society to reflect on the experience and learn from the rights and wrongs during these uncertain times.

Please leave your thoughts and experiences during COVID! I would love to learn how are you navigating this journey.

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Is food a tool or maybe a metaphor?

Is food a tool or maybe a metaphor?

Food is a tool, isn’t it?

You might be wondering… What does she mean by “food is a tool“?  Well, let me explain myself with an example. As most of you know, Eli is the official chef in my house. He loves to cook! Every morning, as soon as he wakes up, he decides the dish he will cook that day. Then he will plan his day accordingly. After his daily 8 km walk, he will stop by the grocery store to get the fresh produce needed. Sometimes, he would drive to the Turkish, Korean or  Middle Eastern specialty store to find special ingredients he’ll need. Later in the day, the cooking will start with his traditions and rituals. It’s a pleasure to observe him. His creative side comes alive and he gets into a trance similar to meditation. Food is his maximal expression of love and care.

Live to Eat or Eat to live?

Last Sunday I found myself starving. Eli was upset and didn’t cook for a couple of days. One of the things I learned after twenty years of marriage is that cooking is his way of expressing his feeling. On the other hand, cooking for me is an obligation. I cook only when I have to; either when someone depends on me or when I have no other option. Food in my parents’ home was only to cover a necessity. I started cooking that evening because I had no food all day. Suddenly I was deeply thinking about how food is a tool serving different purposes for different people. Here are some of the ideas that came to mind. Of course, it would be amazing if you can add some more to the list!

  • It’s a basic tool to survive.
  • It nurtures our brains and our body.
  • Helps to share our cultural background.
  • Build bridges between people from different cultures.
  • It’s one of the five love languages to express feelings and emotions
  • Develops creativity while following instructions
  • Can be a time to practice mindfulness
  • It’s an expression of art
  • Teaches history
  • Carries traditions

Did you ever think of food as a metaphor?

I find it was fascinating how my imagination was unleashing as I was getting deeper into my creative space. I loved it because helped me realized how everything is connected and intertwined; feelings, emotions, food, words. Furthermore, everything is loaded with meaning, stories, memories and experiences. Food is more than a simple tool. It can be a metaphor for our own existence. The skills learned from our family, friends and mentors throughout life become the ingredients that created each one of us as a unique dish. We are one recipe made with the ingredients life presented us. Did you ever think that some of those ingredients and underused or forgotten? Or that maybe combining them in a different way we could come up with new dishes?

I think life is sending us an invitation to visit OUR own creative spaces allowing OUR imagination to guide us to unknown flavours of ourselves…

I firmly believe COVID had stopped us in our tracks forcing us to reflect. That by itself is a gift in disguise waiting to be recognized. Did you know we have a Book Club twice a month? During those meetings, we analyze chapter by chapter of the book Say YES, Ask questions laterallowing our community of participants to learn and understand others’ perspectives and points of view. Would you like to join us? If you want to watch some short videos inspired by the weekly blogs, make sure to SUBSCRIBE to my YOUTUBE channel.

The superpower of words

The superpower of words

Do you believe in the superpower of words? I started to understand it better after I met Fabi. She was born in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. She was ambitious and had a burning desire to get out of poverty. At the age of fourteen, she started working at the factory where she used to deliver sandwiches to the workers after school.

That allowed her to save up enough money to attend university and buy herself a ticket to freedom. Unfortunately, the needs of her family got in the way and so she went back to work. A few times she tried to finalize her studies but every attempt was overshadowed by the needs of her mom or her younger sister. Her professional career kept growing despite lacking the accreditations. Her witty and sassy personality got her to become the HR manager of a prestigious Spanish bank in Brazil.

I met a very attractive woman, financially independent with a zest for life that only Brazilians have. Yet, she was single. It was hard to believe she didn’t have a long line of pretenders. We went for coffee; the half-hour business meeting turned into a long-lasting friendship. After three hours sharing stories, travels and dreams I dare to ask her about her love life. Her answer shocked me. Why? I asked naively. That’s when Fabi shared with me the superpower of her mom’s words when she was seven years old.

“I need to get my diploma before I get married”

A ten-word-sentence that changed her love-life story forever. The mandate she received from her mom at age seven couldn’t be fulfilled. The mom’s words were tattooed deep in the heart of this strong and successful thirty-year-old woman. She was loyal to this powerful mandate, and was trapped in it for over twenty-three years! I am sure her mom never knew the superpower of her words!

Reflecting…

One of my passions is meeting people and learning from their life stories. After meeting Fabi I started to pay attention to the fact, that in some way or another, we all have strong super powerful words tattooed on our hearts. This is true whether they be from our parents, teachers, friends or mentors. Some of those phrases push us forward in life and some do exactly the opposite. My mom used to say:

“The melons settle in the cart only when the cart is in movement”

That’s a powerful statement that kept me always moving and trying!  I believed problems would resolve on the go not waiting for the perfect solution to show up. I believe if you dig into your memories, you will find super powerful words and phrases that somehow shaped you. It’s important to be aware of them and analyze whether they are affecting us positively or negatively.

“Speak when your words are as sweet as silence”

It also made me reflect on the superpower of my own words. Our words impact others in ways we might never know. Hasn’t it happened to you that you meet someone ten years later and they remind you of a sentence you said? Most of the time we don’t remember it or we didn’t think it was important, but for the other person, it meant so much that they still remember it years later! We need to understand what we say to others is a big responsibility! Especially if you are a parent, a teacher or a doctor.

Kids are looking for the approval of respected authorities. Kids need and want to be seen and liked to develop healthily! By the way, don’t you recognize your younger self in these statements? Don’t you want to be seen and heard by your peers, by people holding authority positions like your spiritual guru, your professor, your fellow researcher or your coach? I do!

Who to trust?

Nobody! Yes, I am dead serious. What is true to each person doesn’t mean it will be true to you! As you know “Say YES, Ask question later” is my life philosophy; a way of living. I don’t believe it is for every person on the planet! For some, it might lead them to disaster! Despite that, I think the exercise of asking yourself the questions will advance you in your personal journey of self-awareness. So my most honest advice is as follows: QUESTION EVERYTHING AND EVERYBODY.

Five questions before trusting or hiring an authority

These are the  5 recommended questions before trusting someone and giving them the benefit of believing their super-powerful words.

  1. Are these statements aligned with my personal believes and values? “Fake it till you make it” is a statement I hear more often than not. I will suffer if I needed to live even one day of my life faking anything!
  2. Do I have the personality type to enjoy living as described by others? I am the type “I”.  So if I was advised to live calculating every penny, every minute and structuring my life with deadlines I would NOT be happy and it wouldn’t be long before I burned out!
  3. What’s the story behind the authority? I always ask what made them decide to do the job they do. When they answer, pay attention to identify words that define dreamers or doers. Always go with the doers!
  4. Why do I need to be rushed? When I hear “only for today” I actually hear “I am desperately in need of your money”
  5. Why is their truth the absolute truth? Only when they are talking about exact sciences, like formulas or theorems, I am OK accepting their truth. Otherwise, “truth” is one of the most subjective ideas. It is based on perceptions, perspective, personality and many other variables.

I hope this article sparks your awareness of the superpower of words and guides you to ONLY believe in the voices of authorities you really TRUST.

 

 

 

What does pleasure mean during COVID?

What does pleasure mean during COVID?

Yesterday I had a meltdown!

What does pleasure mean during COVID?

I am trying the intermittent fasting for the past month. It’s been working quite well. Despite the fact I lost weight yet I am not happy. I started to question myself, “What does pleasure mean during COVID?” I cannot be with friends, I cannot travel the world and now I self-imposed this diet. So where is the pleasure of life? Where can I find that zest that keeps me alive?

If we cannot go to Barcelona, we will bring Barcelona to us!

I dug through my old pictures of travels and food. I was craving for new experiences and adventures. To my surprise, I felt like I was re-living them. I truly enjoyed it! the experience was so great that I decided to turn it into my next project. How about a travel channel with food and stories? As soon as I shared the idea with Eli he was all in. So right away he went to the supermarket, bought a baguette, cured ham, tomatoes olive oil and soon we were feeling in Barcelona. If we cannot go to Barcelona, we will bring Barcelona to us!

Don’t allow COVID to define us!

This doesn’t mean I won’t watch for my food anymore! It means I need to redefine the new terms I want to live my life considering the limitations COVID brought to us. It’s time to say YES to the new reality and ask ourselves the same questions we did before but this time answer them considering the new facts COVID imposed in our lives.

Let’s try to enjoy life and don’t allow COVID to define us. Pleasure means to me re-live old travels and share it with friends.

What does pleasure mean to YOU during COVID?

Please share how you bring pleasure to life during COVID times!

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Should I stay or should I go out during Covid?

Should I stay or should I go out during Covid?

I need to admit, I didn’t leave much of my house since COVID hit. Why? I am not sure. Maybe because last year I was too much in hospitals and I couldn’t even imagine going back there. Maybe because my inner voice is telling me that. I believe the information on COVID is evolving as time pass. This is all new and what was true three months ago is not true today.

GOING TO THE GROCERY STORE

The preparations started; mask, gloves, Lysol wipes, a jacket in the case was cold and an umbrella in the case it rains. I left my apartment praying not to encounter a neighbour at the elevator or that the elevator won’t stop on any floor and I might need to kindly say to someone I don’t feel comfortable sharing the ride with them.

THE NEW REALITY

While I was walking to the grocery store, a memory of the joy I use to experience smelling the flowers and the crisp air came to mind. I realized that I couldn’t enjoy any of that now and to top it up the mask was making me sweat even more than I already do due to my “personal summers”. I cannot feel the textures of the fruits and veggies through the rubber gloves, and the Lysol wipe makes my skin dry. Furthermore! The look of the vibrant street from yesteryears is gone. Lots of empty stores and some you could sense trying to survive. COVID brought devastation and uncertainty.

So I asked myself: “Should I stay home or should I go out during COVID?  I am afraid and I am sad to see what is going on. On the other side of the coin, I am aware of the Cave syndrome: fear of social interaction. I don’t want to develop that! Can you imagine me, the social butterfly afraid of social interaction?

IN SEARCH OF THE NEW NORMAL

I am trying to find my new normal and right balance. It’s time to redefine what works for me and sits right in my heart. I am surrendering to the new reality and detaching myself from what was right for me three months ago. We are evolving as individuals and as a society. I need to admit that I am enjoying my company and getting to know very nice things about myself.

I believe it is an important time to ask ourselves questions like this one to reorganize our priorities and redefine our believes: “Should I stay home or should I go out during COVID?” The world had changed, so do we!

Don’t allow anybody to define what’s right for you. There are no recipes, no certainties in the medical field to tell us what to do. Trust your instinct and follow your heart. We are equipped with the tools to decide.

Say YES.

 

 

Welcome to Uruguay

Welcome to Uruguay

CHALLENGES, CREATIVITY, CREATIVE

Welcome to Uruguay

Less wealth, more creativity

MARIANA KONSOLOS

Traveling to my dear Uruguay from Canada is not an easy journey. There are no straight flights and more than two connections are always required.This time I flew from Ottawa via Boston-Panama City to Montevideo. I should consider myself lucky because my total trip was only 18 hours. Sometimes it takes up to 30 hours.

Connecting flight times were very brief. In Boston, I had 90 minutes to change terminals, then go through security again. The second stop in Panama was even more brief: 50 minutes that I passed, running across an airport packed with people, trying to make it to my gate. Needless to say, I was sweaty and stressed by the time I heard the last call. But I made it! After a final  long 7 hours, I landed in Montevideo – very tired. It was midnight yet my brother and my best friend Tammy were waiting for me. I felt loved and happy because of their welcome!

I slept over at Tammy’s home. Just like old times, we stayed up chatting until 3:30 am. She is one of those friends that time and distance are never a barrier in our 45-year friendship. Everything had gone smoothly after I left Ottawa. I honestly was quite amazed because usually  something goes wrong: either a delay or canceled flight, or something happens on the plane.

But my luck didn’t last long. I woke up the next morning and went to pick up my car at my parents’ home where it had been parked during my time in Canada. As was expected, the battery was dead but that wasn’t all. The car was parked with the driver’s door so close to the wall that no one could access it to get in. I also learned that this brand of cars has only one lock and that was on the driver’s side. What was I to do?

Edward has been the doorman of my parent’s building for over 40 years. He didn’t finish high school but he is a creative and resourceful man. I called him for help. He stood for a while observing the car, trying to come up with a solution. First he tried to get through the car door with a wire and fish for the lock, but he couldn’t. So he climbed onto the top of the car. Lying on his tummy, he reached the other window that was slightly open so was able to fish for the lock and opened it. We were celebrating his achievement when we realized that it didn’t solve the problem as the other door still was closed.

I was ready to call the AMA and pay whatever amount was necessary to solve the problem. He was sweating. I was watching the time nervously as I needed to pick up Eli my husband at the airport in a few hours. Edward came up with another idea! He got a thicker wire and made a hook at the end. After some Sweaty minutes his patience and precision paid off. The door was opened. I could have never come up with such a solution!

What made him capable to create a repertoire of solutions one after another?  I think that’s what happens with people who cannot afford hire others to solve problems. They sharpen their creativity and resolve the difficulty the best way possible. Now,we had an unlocked car but no live battery. He phoned AMA and asked for a boost. Seeing I was stressed, he sent me for coffee. By the time I was back, the car was running and ready to go. I felt blessed and relieved.

He helped load my luggage and I departed for the airport. I decide to stop to fill some gas as it was early. A young lady came to help me and asked me to turn off the engine. I explained that I was afraid to get stuck again without battery. She told me not to worry as they could give me a boost if needed. I turned off the car and that was it. My car wouldn’t  start again.

The gas attendants tried to boost my car with different cables, different cars, but nothing worked. They even offered to change the battery. I agreed out of desperation but they didn’t have the type I needed in stock.  

By that time Eli had already arrived but I couldn’t pick him up because I couldn’t start my car. I was very close to the airport but couldn’t make it. I was so frustrated. The gas attendants tried without luck to find a taxi. They felt bad and guilty! They were trying to help me in every possible way but nothing worked.I called AMA again; I also called my cousin asking her to pick up Eli and bring him to the gas station. I couldn’t do anything else:  I just sat and waited.

The reunion with Eli after a month of traveling separately wasn’t what I would call romantic. It happened at a gas station while the AMA was boosting the battery of my car. However,  I thought to myself: what the heck, we are together recharging our personal batteries and the problem is about to be resolved. I was right. After 10 minutes, the car started. Also,  Eli and I had an opportunity to visit with my cousin and we were ready to go on with our day.

We drove out of town where my parents had been waiting for more than  an hour but  I was afraid to turn off the car. By the time we arrived home, it was late afternoon. Sitting on the balcony while watching a beautiful sunset, I reflected upon my day. It was certainly stressful because nothing went as planned. But I was very thankful for the kindness of the people who bent over backward trying to help me solve every problem I encountered throughout the day.

People’s kindness and willingness to help others is one of the qualities about Uruguayan culture that I most appreciate and love. People who have few financial resources become extremely creative. Solutions to problems are improvised whenever nothing goes as planned. Everything is spontaneous and relaxed. It’s a very warm and helpful culture. Very simple and very neat!

 

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