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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!

 

I am ADDICTED! Would you like to join me?

I am ADDICTED! Would you like to join me?

I am ADDICTED!

Would you like to join me?

MARIANA KONSOLOS

15 September 2017

A sense of peace and fullness has settled in my heart this afternoon. I’m wondering what the right word would be to describe the undefined feeling of fulfillment inside of me after helping a stranger? To give just for the sake of giving. No rewards expected or paybacks asked.

It is simply a smile I see in another and the relief I sense in a person’s heart after they feel seen, heard and acknowledged that makes me ask myself, Am I addicted to goodness?

It’s hard to explain, to understand, even to believe. Some days it doesn’t even make sense! It is simply a way of living. It has become my lifestyle.  

People seem fearful and suspicious. They ask themselves, Why? What is she doing this for? Do I need to pay? How am going to return the favor? Can I do a trade? I have had these questions time and again.  Yet I offer no answers.This kind of behavior for many is unknown, unheard of and basically odd. They call it STRANGE… a powerful word that takes me back to my playground years.

I had so much fun helping Gaby, the daughter of Delfin, the doorman of our building! I will never forget the water fights while cleaning the windows of the lobby; they were the best!

I was called “STRANGE” because the cute little girl with fancy blue polka dot pants and perfectly braided blonde hair, was expected to be enjoying tea-parties with her classmates.  

I was the same one who sneaked cookies for years to share with my friend Pedro, the beggar on the corner of my fancy school, who would make me laugh by telling me stories like no one else could. I was STRANGE because I befriended them, I loved them, I had fun with them, I heard their stories and shared my privileged kid’s lessons and stories with them.

At this point in time, I intentionally and actively choose to be “STRANGE” every day of my life. I do it because I am a lover and a dreamer, and lovers and dreamers are strange in the eyes of a society that was taught to pay or trade, not to simply give. A society that up to date teaches us to be cautious rather than curious.

I dare you to experience giving without expecting a thing in return. Feel the unique pleasure of peace and fulfillment that only GIVING could bring to your soul. GIVE your time, your knowledge, your kindness, your compassion. JUST GIVE! Lead by caring, doing, smiling and helping a new person every day.

“Don’t be surprised to notice that the day everybody will GIVE unconditionally will be the same day everybody will RECEIVE endlessly.”

 

What FREEDOM means to you?

What FREEDOM means to you?

Life, Inspiration, Challenges, Choices

What FREEDOM means to you?

5  basic principles that help me to achieve FREEDOM

MARIANA KONSOLOS
16 May 2017

There is a lot to say about freedom. There are tons of poems and songs about it too. But … What does FREEDOM really mean?

I think it can mean different things to different people along the  different stages of our lives:

  • When I was a kid it was when my mom would allow me to eat by myself even if I made a mess. That was freedom.
  • Later on, having permission to come back home with no carefew gave me great sense of freedom as well!
  • When I drove my parents car to go places with friends I was feeling very free.

The problem started when I wanted to do things I couldn’t afford or my parents wouldn’t agree with. Soon enough I learnt that  freedom was attached to VALUES and MONEY!

Very early, at the age of seventeen, I realized that I had to generate my own resources to have the real freedom I needed to live the life of my dreams. The goal was so clear and powerful that nothing stopped me since. No job was small enough or hard enough if it would generate any kind of income. I discovered that the real fuel to all my adventures were 5 key basic principles :

  1. Have a crystal clear GOAL There is ALWAYS a way! Nothing distracted me because I knew I wanted so badly to be free. If I would try one way and wouldn’t work, I would try many different ways until I would find the way to get me there.
  2. Every job is an OPPORTUNITY I never knew who I was going to meet being a server, cleaning a house or ironing! I learnt skill that were key for other jobs that came up later. Watching different bosses taught me good and bad management practices .
  3.  Freedom comes with a PRICE ATTACHED. The price can be emotional, social or financial. Can be your time or your priorities. It can mean compromising, negociating or even giving up. But you need to decide if you can live with it, in order to achieve your ultimate goal: to be FREE. It might come with criticisms, jealousy or being singled out. Be ready to pay the price!
  4. BE HUNGRY to achieve your goal The goal needs to be strong enough and powerful enough to make you continue your journey on the hardest days and the toughest conditions. Because there will be lots of those! You need to prefer suffering rather staying dependant!
  5. DEFINE freedom to your own standards. Because we are all different, our definitions will be different. Don’t get caught up on others standards of freedom. I don’t need a bigger car or a luxurious home. In my eyes that makes me more of a slave!  I might need to work more hours to pay more bills and spend more time of my day in things that are not memorable. I am free if I can go for a walk and take care of myself or have coffee with my daughter rather than take care of a bigger house.

I don’t deny that financial freedom is very important. But it doesn’t guarantee anything! I’ve met lots of wealthy people in my lifetime that they are enslaved to their husband or their lifestyles.

My personal definition of freedom is to be able to choose my priorities every day of my life. Basically to do what I want when I want with who I want. What is yours? I would love to hear your opinion! By sharing we are learning to understand each other better!

 

 Thank you, and if you liked it, please share it with a friend!

Kindly,

Mariana Konsolos

 

GIVING BACK is a Gift to Our Souls

GIVING BACK is a Gift to Our Souls

TRADITIONS

GIVING BACK is a Gift to Our Souls

Sharing traditions and making memories by baking Jalá.

MARIANA KONSOLOS

29 March 2017

I made my first Jalá at the age seventeen, when I lived with a group of friends in a kibbutz, a socialist community that today no longer exists in Israel. I think of it today and I was just a girl!

There, I worked tending children with Edna, an Iranian lady who had hands of gold and a giant heart.

Every Friday, we kneaded enormous amounts of dough to make the traditional Jala bread. She taught us the right measurements so the dough was soft and fluffy, and she also taught me to make the braids more beautiful with three and five strips.

It was a ritual that both children and I looked forward to at the end of the week.

There was nothing nicer than the smell of jalot baking on Friday afternoons. It was a feeling of peace, of almost religious serenity.

What I learned years later is that the recipe she made was nothing religious since it contained milk and butter, ingredients that no Jalá recipe had, as it contradicted the laws of kashrut.

Months later, upon returning to Uruguay, I tried to transform this into a family tradition by kneading Jalot for my parents on Fridays. Sadly my parents were away almost every weekend so the intention faded away in a short time.

It was many years before I started braiding jalot with my daughter, Florencia. It was in those years in Canada that she couldn’t go to school. When my ability to create new activities to do with her were running low, I remembered what Edna had taught me and I decided to pass on this beautiful tradition to my daughter.

For many years, we enjoyed the delicious aroma in the house, announcing the arrival of a well-deserved rest and delicious Jalot for dinner.

Returning to Uruguay, on one of my visits, Grandma Sara was spending time with my parents. At that time my grandmother was about a hundred years old. I remembered that she made Jalot delectable.

I asked her why she stopped baking. She said it was because she no longer had the necessary strength in her hands and couldn’t knead. I suggested that she could guide me and that I would be her hands.

At first, she was not convinced. She told me she would think about it. When I got up in the morning, my grandmother waited anxiously for me. She did not need to tell me anything. I could understand that she wanted to start cooking.

“You have to buy yeast, but you have to buy the good one,” she told me, “not that powder they sell nowadays. And bring the whitest flour you can find.”

I asked her whether I should bring milk or butter and she looked at me in surprise. “Did you not know that we make it parve so we can eat it with meat?” No, I did not know. That quiet, silent woman came alive.

When I returned from shopping, she asked me for a bowl to prepare the dough. She began to give me instructions.

“The yeast has to be put with warm water and a teaspoon of sugar. Let’s see, let me touch the water, do not make it too hot.”

I put in the eggs and immediately stirred the flour with the oil. “Stir harder,” she told me.

Without realizing it, she was kneading with the energy of yesteryear. The hands moved alone with surprising rapidity. Her joyful face and her satisfaction moved me.

The scent of the Friday jalot returned to impregnate our hearts and our homes. Now it all made sense: traditions from generation to generation…

And the circle ended when we visited Granada, Spain, the Palace of the Forgotten, where the Jewish Museum is. We learned that to date, the so-called Anise Bread or Bread of Oil is nothing more than the Jala masked at the time of the Inquisition by the Marranos Jews in order to continue consuming it without taking risks.

It is the only bread that has neither butter nor milk! Anise bread is parve!

My grandmother Sara is no longer with us, but there are more than a hundred grandmothers and grandparents in the Home waiting to teach us their recipes and culinary tricks. Their hands are willing to knead with ours and flood our minds with memories of past traditions.

I invite you to be grandchildren for a day, to braid your stories with theirs. It is a real gift to your soul and theirs!

 

A Fundraising Event

A Fundraising Event

OVERCOMING OBSTACLES

A Fundraising Event

Getting out of the comfort zone is one of the biggest strengths an entrepreneur should have.

MARIANA KONSOLOS

27 March 2017

Getting out of the comfort zone is one of the biggest strengths an entrepreneur should have.

Tonight was one of THOSE nights for me. It was certainly a challenge.

The Browns, a lovely family that I met through Debbie (the mom), decided to host a soccer meeting and try to fundraise money for the team by gathering at our new store.

Debbie showed up with her two beautiful young girls and her kind husband.

In 15 minutes, they had everything organized: the food, the drinks and suddenly she mentioned something about having activities for the girls.

“Girls!?” I asked, startled.

I should admit that I was in shock when Debbie said that they were expecting 15 girls and their parents!

How could we possible host over 45 people at the same time at our store AND entertain them?

What could I do to keep such a diverse crowd occupied?

Well, the meeting went on and I decided to take a break to have some dinner and think.

I finished my dinner and when I came downstairs, to my amusement, there was a group of 15 beautiful girls sitting on the floor in the backroom of the store, participating in some fun activity lead by one of Debbie’s girls!

They asked me to teach them to count up to ten in Spanish, so I showed them how. It was so cool and really helped me relax.

I started to go upstairs when I heard Debbie introduce me. OMG!

When I saw the crowd, I realized that I was going to do my presentation in front of men and women for the first time!

I was going to need to use some creativity to adapt and improvise my presentation!!

And guess what?? I DID IT!!

To my own surprise, the ideas just flew out of me!

I added some humorous touches, such as when I demonstrated my scarves, I asked the men not to take the “choking part” as an idea to actually apply it.

Also, when I showed the super versatile shawl, I ended my presentation by saying,  “If you are super good to your wife by buying her everything she wants, she will be instructed to use this beautiful shawl as a nighty for you tonight!”

Everybody thought that it was hilarious! And I even heard some ladies saying: “I should take her home with me.”

The energy after that was AMAZING!!

Everybody was excited, shopping and having fun! The girls had a blast! I got some new fans out there for sure! And we sold way more than expected!

Lisa, one of the soccer moms, is going to be starting part time with us, and I got an offer to be featured at CTV by Michelle, another soccer mom!

I am home, relaxing with a cup of tea, and happy with this fulfilling experience!

Challenges won’t stop me!
Fear can’t paralyze me!
Creativity will be always be the answer.
Courage will be my partner forever.

Good night world!
Let’s see what tomorrow will bring us!

 

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