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Writing is a key way to refine my thoughts and keep a clean record of my experiences. I love composing thoughtful post ideas and choose and work on the photos that best go with the topic. However, sometimes I just want to share my thoughts, goals and the little things that make me smile on a day to day basis.

At the end of each month, I will put together a behind the scenes post in which I’ll give you a peek of my weekends, business travels, goals and favourite links.

Click here to read my previous Behind the Scenes.


On Traveling

Skiing in Lech, Austria

Visiting snowy Austria has been, without any doubt, one of my favourite holidays from the past few years. I can’t believe it was only a month ago when I gearing up my adrenaline on the slopes. Where did January go?


Weekend Scenes

Milan, Italy

Well, I know where 3 days in January went – to Milan, Italy! I took a long weekend with my girlfriends to explore the architectural and artistic beauty this exuberant city has to offer.

I’m going to be very honest with you: I never thought I’d say this – but I truly loved Milan. It was my 3rd visit (I had visited once for business and once for fun before) and it was only now that I learned to appreciate the city beyond its tourist attractions and business centers. With our base in the lovely district of Navigli – one of the most romantic neighbourhoods named after the canals in the area – we went shopping for quality leather, explored the italian art and design scene and took full advantage of every aperitivo.

It really makes a difference to visit Milan with someone local!


December / January by the Numbers

Street Art in Milan, Italy

I missed last months’s Behind the Scenes – for a good reason though (I was skiing!). To make it up for you, below a summary of December & January.

  • 6 flights (5 of which were international)
  • 3 countries visited – Spain (Tenerife & overnight in Madrid), Austria (Lech & trip to Zug) and Milan (Italy)
  • over 9030 km travelled (8650 km of which were by plane) – that’s over 5600 miles!
  • 22 Instagram photos posted over the two months – the above being the one you’ve liked most! (are we friends?)
  • 1 Get Gutsy winning essay written – read it here!

Reads

Flying over the Swiss Alps

I finished reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed before the movie came out, and oh was I glad I did. The story is both, an incredible adventure and a deep meditation on the nature of grief and recovery. Her writing is so compelling that it was extremely hard to put the book down at night (highly recommended!).

And now on to my favourite online reads this month:

  • Bivvy Bags: Tickets To Certain Death? – I first came to the concept of divvy bags in my frequented outdoor shop in Tenerife. The store manager spoke enthusiastically about watching the stars before falling asleep in the outdoors, and all I could think of was: isn’t this really dangerous?  I’m certainly not the only one with this initial thought, but Mike is up for proving wrong this and many other misconceptions. I’m really curious about it!
  • Why are some croissants straight, and others curved? – Well yes, there’s an entirely rational explanation to this (and it includes funny doodles).
  • El Camino de Santiago: I’m walking “The Way” across Spain – You know I love hiking, right? So, how come I’ve never walked the Camino de Santiago? I’m not entirely sure. I guess I’ve always waited for someone else to join me on this adventure, but I’ve read so many stories about fellow bloggers walking the way by themselves that I feel really excited about it now.

Words

Lech, Austria

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”

Robert Frost


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Looking out to my left, I felt equally excited and terrified – I was sitting on a  chair lift up to Kriegerhorn (2173m), Austria, watching the pros slide down a steep mountain. So graceful, so confident – so fearless.

Skiing in Lech, Austria

Weeks before, I had spent a day browsing through winter sports apparel in London – convincing myself that, to ski well, I required the perfect equipment. I watched videos, trying hard to remember what I had to do with my weight in order to make a turn. I wanted to hit the pistes skiing with confidence, like I’ve never done before.

Back on that chair lift, though, I began to have my doubts.

Hmmm… Visibility isn’t that good, I need to go extra slow. But wait, this is getting a bit too steep for me. Oh, look how fast they go! I can’t control my speed that well. Heck, I can’t even turn that well! What am I doing? What was I thinking?! Can you please take me back down again?

I have a secret: I’m afraid of falling (ok, so it’s not that much of a secret anymore…). The truth is, whenever I am faced with a steep slope or a narrow uneven path (whether I’m on skis or just on my own feet), I have the feeling that I may loose my balance. I recognise the pattern: my heart beat accelerates, my breathing quickens and overall I feel tense. In the worst cases, though – I am literally paralysed. It might only be a few seconds or it might be 10 minutes. All I know is that to me it feels like a lifetime.

Hiking Guajara, Tenerife (Spain)

I should limit my activities to snorkelling and sunbathing (both of which I love, too). But I can’t. I love the outdoors – particularly mountains. And volcanoes. Oh, and challenging hikes around mountains and volcanoes!

While it hasn’t always been easy, I constantly aim to challenge my irrational fear of loosing balance and falling. The thought of all the breathtaking views and unforgettable experiences that await at the top of those mountains give me enough courage to break through my limiting thoughts and reach higher. 

Skiing in Lech, Austria

So, back on the chair lift in Austria, I could have let my thoughts send me back down the same way I went up. But instead, I gracefully got off the chair lift with a heart that felt like it was going to jump out of my chest and fall down the mountains all by itself any second.

I moved slow – so slow that sometimes it felt I was actually skiing up the mountain, not down. But I kept on moving – and each time new scary thoughts came into my mind, I tried my best to imagine a mental door and let them go.

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that all went great on this trip.

I did fall (not as often as I expected) and it was embarrassing (specially that one time I lost both skis!). I twisted my wrist trying to get up again after falling into deep powder snow (which, otherwise, is more fun that Christmas itself!). And I froze of fear. Once. It wasn’t pretty.

But you know what? I got over it. 

Skiing in Lech, Austria

Note: see the goofy girl in blue over there? That’s me getting over it.

What I learned from this trip is that skiing might be a lot about technique – but a lot of it is trust, too. Trust in your equipment, your skills and your balance – but over everything else: trust in yourself – specially when the scary gets particularly tough.

Getting gutsy for me is precisely that – trusting myself when it gets challenging. Pushing myself to the limit, getting uncomfortable and constantly confront my fear of falling. It’s  beyond bravery. It’s daring to go ahead in spite of the doubtful part of my conscience. It’s doing something that scares me.


Getting gutsy is all about stepping outside your comfort zone to reach your goals and live a life that makes you truly happy. This post is my entry for Jessica Lawlor’s Get Gutsy Essay Contest. To get involved and share your own gutsy story, check out this post for contest details and download a free copy of the inspiring Get Gutsy ebook.


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Last year I quit making New Year’s resolutions. They were far too easy for me to break! Instead, I chose 3 words that frame what I wanted my year to be.

My 3 words of 2014: Grow. Simplicity. Radiant.

Picking 3 words instead of coming up with a wish list of (mostly unrealistic) resolutions may seem like an easy task at first, but trust me – framing an entire year in just 3 words is a tough job!

After reviewing my the past twelve months and carefully contemplating what I would like 2015 to look like, I chose the following 3 words to lead me through the year:

Rise. Dare. Unplug. 

Rise

Sunrise from the highest peak in Spain (Teide, Tenerife)

I have never been an early riser, but after devouring Laura Vanderkam’s What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast early May last year, I was ready to give it a go. Surprisingly, waking up early became one of my favourite things during the summer months! I loved the quiet mornings – when the world hadn’t yet properly began to pick up its usual hectic pace. I used this extra time to go for a run in the park, study for the GMAT or even write a few paragraphs for my next post.

The thing is, as the days became shorter, I began to hit the all too tempting snooze button for longer. I certainly admire those that can get up at 5:00 AM (or even earlier!) for pleasure all year round.

So here’s to the word rise. To get up with commitment and energy. To not hit snooze more than twice. To become comfortable getting up while its dark outside. To squeeze in a morning work out or two each week. To continue to make a full and healthy breakfast before leaving for work. To arrive earlier to the office. To appreciate the quiet in London.

Dare

Skiing in Lech, Austria

Do you know that little feeling you get, when you’re pondering whether to go ahead with a big decision? Like when you’re standing on an edge and could either turn around and run back to safer ground or just jump into deep water? While I feel like 2014 has been fairly stable (which was good – for a change!), this year, I want to dare to jump deep into new challenges.

Here’s the thing – I really love challenges that involve risk and adventure (you know, like moving to Barcelona on temporary contract and a month notice). I kind of miss the great stories and life lessons that come with these challenges – and quite honestly, I also enjoy proving myself I can win a challenging dare!

So I call 2015 the year I learn to let go of limiting thoughts and take more action. Learn to appreciate progress and let go of the idea of perfection. Take more risks, and be willing to fail (fast) and get up again. After all – nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

Unplug

Tarifa, Spain

I’m busy, you’re busy… hey, we are all busy people. We love having lots of things on our plate, right? And we constantly strive to become more productive. Do more and do it better! Ok, sure – but then, I don´t know about you, but I don’t feel happy running around at a frenetic pace, trying to juggle too much. Yet still I found myself in this situation more than once in 2014.

As much as I enjoy the thrill of my job, I’ve also learned to appreciate disconnecting from the constant buzzing. Over my last holidays, I even allowed my BlackBerry to run out of battery and didn’t charge it for 2 entire days (naughty, I know). In 2015, I intend to unplug more often by muting my phones before I go to sleep (if not on a live project) and not allowing laptops in bed after 10 PM.

That’s not all, though – I also aim to unplug from the feeling of constantly having to work on feeding my professional credentials and, instead, add a hobby that feeds my soul (does that sound cheesy?). I want to give myself some space for creativity – to do something just because I enjoy it (like, writing and taking photos for this blog!) and not feel guilty about having fun!

What are your 3 words of 2015?


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Following my travel-heavy 2014 review, I was ready to start writing about my three words for 2015 but felt there was something missing. You see, 2014 definitely took me to places (even if I didn’t get to immerse in almost ay of them) – but I also did lots of other pretty cool stuff last year that I didn’t want to leave out. So, without further ado – my kickass moments of 2014!

Kickass moment #1: watching the sun rise from the highest peak in Spain

Sunrise from the highest peak in Spain (Teide, Tenerife)

Probably my proudest moment of 2014 – this challenging hike up a dormant volcano including a 500 meter elevation completed at night / dusk to reach the peak on time for a spectacular sun rise.

Kickass moment #2: turning 30 without experiencing a mental breakdown 

I never thought that turning 30 would be a big deal, so I was surprised to hear the stories from friends and colleagues that met the textbook-kind of anxiety. Why should 30 be such a turning point? Sure, I don’t own a house, I don’t have a mortgage, I’m not married nor do I have kids. But hey, assuming that this is where my life should be at 30 is so passé anyway!

Kickass moment #3: winning a team award for a tremendously successful roadshow

St Paul's Cathedral, London

On my last day in the office before my winter holidays, the company awards were granted to those teams that delivered the most impressive projects. This year, we won a company award for making history: we delivered the largest financial roadshow in history – I’m damn proud of our team!

Kickass moment #4: forming a new habit 

Creating a habit takes a lot of time and perseverance.  I haven’t yet managed to create a habit of exercising in the morning (I am not sure I’ll ever be able to make a habit out of it), but I’ve formed a new habit, and it’s here to stay: I wake up early enough to prepare and have a nutritious breakfast at home before my commute from hell (granted – it feels a bit less hell when I’ve had a good breakfast and some strong coffee).

Kickass moment #5: saving more money than I had intended to without giving up fun

The Power of Summer - Outdoor Cinema, London

Do you know what’s the most difficult thing to do in London? It’s not finding a nice flat. It’s not commuting in rush hour. It’s not even trying to find a Christmas gift in Covent Garden the weekend before Christmas day. It’s saving money. The city is a money sucking machine – everything screams come in here and spend your cash! (Or does it only scream this at me?). Anyway, I’m proud of having been able to save money for the first time since 2011 – while still eating healthy and having fun!

Kickass moment #6: navigating through Gatwick and Heathrow airports in record times

At this time, I’m fairly certain that I can navigate through both airports as well as I do through my own neighbourhood. I’m close to becoming the female version of George Clooney in Up in the Air (I do avoid queues with kids or obvious holidayers!).

Kickass moment #7: still having what it takes to party like a Spaniard

sunsets in Formentera, Spain

England and Spain couldn’t be any more different when it comes to the social scene. In London, I pop down to the pub in the afternoon and will most likely be at home asleep by midnight. In Madrid (or anywhere else in Spain, really)? Not so much. In fact, the night is just getting started at midnight. Last summer I may have turned 30, but I was (and still am!) still fit to party all night like a Spaniard!

Which have been some of your kickass moments of 2014?


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Early this year I confessed why I’m not fond of New Year resolutions and, instead, created a more strategic (or maybe I should say flexible) approach to goal setting – I picked 3 words that would reflect my year:

Grow. Simplify. Radiant. 

I reminded myself of these 3 words throughout 2014 – when I had to take difficult decisions at work, when I decided (or not) to spend money on something, when I was tempted to hit the alarm snooze one more time or when I found myself browsing past 10:30 PM.

Did it work well? Sometimes (hitting snooze once again is way too tempting when it’s cold, rainy and dark outside!).

Anyway, below is a recap of my ups and downs this year together with my favourite Instagram shot of the month. Brace yourself, this is a long one!


 January

London rooftops

I started off 2014 with a lot of logistics – I was just about to move flats (and neighbourhoods) for the 4th time in London. I sold some stuff, donated a lot more and sent some of my most valuable furniture back to Spain. I took simplifying rather seriously!

It was a grey and gloomy month in London – so I was extremely thankful to have had the chance to meet 3 girlfriends in Frankfurt for a weekend of music, wine and laughs!

About the Instagram shot: During my move, I spent 2 nights in Marylebone looking over these rooftops. Walking around these streets is still one of my favourite things to do on an afternoon, and one of my top recommendations for any London visitor!

February

Las Salinas, Lanzarote (Canary Islands)

My February highlight was, with no doubt, my escape to Lanzarote (Canary Islands). With 2 of my closest friends, we spent our days eating fresh caught fish, sunbathing next to our pool, exploring volcanic caves and craters and drinking local wine. Total bliss.

About the Instagram shot: The Salinas del Janubio (Lanzarote) is the largest sea salt production in the Canary Islands. We drove there to watch the sunset over these salt flats and the black sand beach attached to them – pretty special!

March

Sunset in Los Abrigos, Tenerife (Canary Islands)

March was pretty uneventful most of the time. I did manage somehow to pick a weekend to fly home to Tenerife for a quick fix of fish and sunshine. I’m grateful to live somewhere  with a manageable distance from home – because, I mean, taking a 4.5 hr flight for a weekend trip is totally normal, right? I’ve definitely seen worse.

About the Instagram shot: I took this shot from one of my favourite restaurants in Los Abrigos in Tenerife. It summarises my weekend escapes to the island quite well – great weather, fresh caught fish and a warm sea breeze. Take me back!

April

Always take the scenic route - from Boston to New York by train

Work picked up really quickly in April and I was suddenly facing weeks filled with new big challenges and late nights in the office. At the end of the month, I traveled to New York and Boston – Boston for the first time! Even though I could hardly think of anything else other than work, I loved the architecture and vibe both cities and started to count my days until my return.

About the Instagram shot: When I left Boston on that Saturday morning, it was grey and rainy. After 4 hours, as I slowly approached New York, the skies cleared up allowing me to see the city’s skyscrapers from afar. I love the contrasts in this picture – the suburban and urban New York all in one. 

May

Barcelona, Spain

May was quite a month.

To start with – I turned 30! Surprisingly, this milestone didn’t come in hand with an existential crisis. Or, hm, wait – I did book a last minute trip to Barcelona, partly to regain my youth on the dance floor (and partly to completely lose it again while curing my hangover).

But flashback a few weeks before and you’d find me in a comatose state at home, after having my first (and hopefully last ever) blood transfusion. How did I get to this point? I’m still not sure, but let me share this valuable lesson: you should never be too busy to take care of yourself.

About the Instagram shot: I took this picture while strolling along the tiny streets of EL Borne in Barcelona (one of my favourite neighbourhoods!) on a Saturday afternoon.

June

Lisbon, Portugal

June was work-intensive – with a successful European roadshow that travelled through London, Copenhagen, Paris and Lisbon in just about a week time. It was my first time in Copenhagen! Though grey and far colder than the rest of my visits, it sparked my curiosity – I can’t wait to return for fun next time.

I was also incredibly grateful to get the time to go to a good Uni friend’s wedding in Valladolid (Spain). It was so much fun to get together with so many people I hadn’t seen in such a long time – there was lots to catch up on over tapas and gin & tonics and lots to celebrate with great champagne, of course!

About the Instagram shot: My room with a view in Lisbon (Portugal). As is usual during business travel, I didn’t get to see much of the city (aside for a few streets around our hotel) – but this amazing view partly made up for that loss. 

July

Tarifa, Spain

In July, I travelled to Tarifa – a small but trendy town on the south coast of Spain. Together with 3 close friends, I explored its beaches and sand dunes and worked on my tan during the day and fully enjoyed its vibrant restaurant scene and nightlife during the night.

About the Instagram shot: Here’s the thing about Tarifa – its beaches are absolutely beautiful, but can also be incredibly windy (it’s a hotspot for kite- and windsurfers). On the day I took this shot, the wind was almost unbearable in the sand and the only *safe* place was close to the water!

August

Tenerife from above, Spain

At the end of July, I realised that I still had plenty of holidays that I had to take before the end of August, so I packed all those days together and, after looking for two-week retreats in Costa Rica and group treks in Iceland, I finally decided to go home. Not the most exciting alternative, at first sight – but I did manage to combine all I wanted in one place (wellness and hiking) while also saving money (self high five!)

My favourite moment of those two weeks was, without doubt, watching the sun rise from the highest peak in Spain (Mount Teide) – an experience I can’t recommend enough for anyone hoping to see the island from an entire different perspective.

About the Instagram shot: Approaching Tenerife brings up the butterflies in my stomach. This has been my favourite plane picture so far. It shows its vast geological diversity and oh, hello, that’s Mount Teide over there!

September

St Paul's Cathedral, London

… And then September came. The month could be easily summarised as work, work and more work. I previously described September as exhausting, chaotic and extremely challenging – but this would still be an understatement. I got through the month with rather few personal highlights but a lot of rewarding professional accomplishments!

About the Instagram shot: St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of my favourite city landmarks. I can’t stop myself from taking a picture each time I’m outside the London Stock Exchange. 

October

New York (USA)

It’s strange to think about October as a work-filled month (compared to September, it was a breeze!), but the truth is, it was pretty hectic too. I travelled to Paris, Zürich, New York, Boston and Frankfurt – and also held several events in London.

At the end of it all, I was pretty exhausted and went home to Tenerife to sleep under the sun. I actually didn’t even blog in October… I had a proper technology detox and it felt great!

About the shot: The above picture was taken from the roof top bar at The Peninsula in New York on a sunny Sunday afternoon. I’ve got a thing for skyscrapers – and I am constantly wishing London had more of them. 

November

Weekend in Paris

This year the World commemorated the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. Remembrance Day in London saw a completed work of art made of over 800,000 ceramic poppies – one for each British or colonial life lost during the war. 

In November, I also travelled to Paris on my first fam trip!

About the shot: Ah, this is one of my favourite photographs of the year – and also your most liked one (thank you!). While in Paris, I stayed at Le Maurice. I got up early on Sunday to watch the sun rise over Paris *sigh*

December

Lech, Austria

December came, and so did lots of social events (work and personal), yearly reviews and exciting travels. After spending a few days for Christmas at home in Tenerife, I am now writing these final words from a snowy ski town in Arlberg, Austria. It’s been 2 years since I last took the slopes and my first time in Austria.

About the shot: I just arrived in Austria less than 2 days ago and this is the view from the hotel’s reception. It has been snowing almost non-stop since we’ve arrived – perfect timing!


The next time you hear from me it will be 2015! I hope you have a great holiday and start of the new year. Thank you so much for your support in 2014 – I’m really looking forward to what 2015 brings!


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Writing is a key way to refine my thoughts and keep a clean record of my experiences. I love composing thoughtful post ideas and choose and work on the photos that best go with the topic. However, sometimes I just want to share my thoughts, goals and the little things that make me smile on a day to day basis.

At the end of each month, I will put together a behind the scenes post in which I’ll give you a peek of my weekends, business travels, goals and favourite links.

Click here to read my previous Behind the Scenes.


On the road

Weekend in Paris

One of the great perks from working in a travel-intensive industry is, well, travel. Two or three times a year, a team members gets invited to a fam trip – a marketing program designed to acquaint travel agents or event planners with a specific city or region. This November, I had my first fan trip – but instead of exploring a city, we were invited to explore two of the most luxurious hotels in Paris – Plaza Athénée and Le Maurice.

Our fully packed Saturday in Paris included lunch at Le Relais Plaza (at the Plaza Athénée), a behind the scenes tour of the Eiffel Tower, champagne at a private roof top and dinner at Le Dalí (at Le Maurice). Needless to say, we spent most a lot of time swooning over Alain Ducasse‘s food creations.

I only arrived to my room at Le Maurice in the evening. Imagine my surprise when, on the next morning, I stepped outside the balcony and realised I was watching the sun rise over Paris!

Believe me – I never wanted to leave.


 Weekend Scenes

Blood swept lands and seas of red

On the 11th of November, Armistice Day, the last of 888,246 poppies was planted at The Tower of London, transforming the attraction into an incredible art installation that commemorates the start of World War One.

Early november, I grabbed my camera and left home to immerse in British History. Unfortunately I wasn’t the only one with this idea – that Saturday was the busiest one since the beginning of the installation. Even though I’m not usually a crowds person, the experience was absolutely worth it.


Reads

Coffee at Milk, London

I’ve had an ebook filled month – but my favourite read has been by far the psychological thriller by Sibel Hodge, Look Behind You. Anyone who enjoys dark, mysterious thrillers with twists and turns should definitely grab this one for the next flight!

And now onto my favourite online reads this month:

  • Nobody hikes like the Germans. If you ever wondered why, you should schedule in a visit to the Black Forrest. What makes this place so special is, among others, is its timeless presence – perfectly captured by Becki on her fall hiking trip. With landscapes like these, you would hike like no other, too!
  • Torre DeRoche is one of my favourite writers on the web. I might not be living in Australia, be an admired writer or sail across the Pacific (yet?), but a lot of what Torre puts down on words resonates strongly with how I feel. We even share an irrational fear of falling – which we’ve both faced during a tough hike. I love how vividly she writes about confronting this fear while climbing Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia.
  • The first time I came across the word sonder was on Christine’s article. It’s incredible how your life perspective can change with the simple realisation that each person you cross paths with is living their own life, has their own world fitted with personal worries, routines, ambitions, etc. It makes all of your worries loose importance in the grand scheme of things.

 Mantra

 “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”

– Thomas A. Edison


November Goals Review

Modern architecture in London

  • Blog more often. What high achieving bar did I set this time… 5 blog posts in November? I certainly fell a bit short (3 in total) – but hey, this one could almost count as two, right? 
  • Take more photos. Mission accomplished. In November, I carried my camera  around London and took it for an amazing trip to Paris (more on that to come!).
  • Run twice a week. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, but… I’ve been more like a once-a-week runner. It’s cold. It’s rainy. On a related note, though, I’ve started Bikram (Hot) Yoga. It might have something to do with the fact that the studio is heated to 40ºC and it kind of feels like you’re in Bali instead of London.

December Goals

Weekend in Paris

  • Let go of perfectionism. 80% of the time I’m incredibly excited about going skiing in Austria this month. It was my idea – I wanted winter, snow and a challenge. The other 20%, though, I worry about having forgotten how to turn, falling and making a fool of myself. This month I need to learn to focus on progress, not on perfection (specially when it comes to skiing!).
  • Review my mid- and long-term plan and readjust if necessary. One year later, it’s time to put aside a few days to reflect on where I am, where I want to be and how I will get there. I have lots of plans for 2015!
  • Unplug and immerse in family time. I have a confession to make – whenever I’m away from my desk, I’m usually glued to my blackberry and iPhone. I’ve found that it has been increasingly difficult to unplug from my obligations. I don’t like people who constantly excuse their absence with conference calls and stop listening the second their Blackberry starts to light up. But to a certain level – I’ve slowly become one of them. I’m going to take my Christmas holidays as a chance to forget I have a Blackberry and, instead, focus on family time.

What are you planning this month?


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“Confidence is the purity of action produced by a mind free of doubt”
– The Confidence Code (Katty Kay and Claire Shipman)

A few weeks ago, I finished reading The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance- What Women Should Know. The book carries an important message: “confidence” – it turns out – “matters more than competence when it comes to achieve success and getting ahead”.

Even though the book itself has quite a strong career focus, there are definitely parallels with other aspects in our lives  – travelling, hobbies, relationships, etc. The book is, in my opinion, a wake-up call for any near-perfectionist. 

As a recovering near-perfectionist, I thought I’d go ahead and share my personal take on confidence – Follow along!

Don’t ruminate – rewire

Don't ruminate - Rewire (Kate goes Global)

I’m not good enough. How can I still not pronounce literature correctly? I’m never going to get promoted! I don’t have enough savings. I’m not in good shape. I’m never going to run a race. Or ski without making a fool of myself. I just can’t do it!

Does this sound familiar to you? It definitely does to me! I’m pretty good at overthinking and giving myself a hard time when I don’t get things right on the first, second or third try.

After my first attempt at skiing, I swore never to step on skis again. Instead of laughing it off and continue to practice, I focused my energy on all the times I fell on my bum and couldn’t, for the life of me, get up again without help. I listed all the excuses I could come up with to not go skiing again (it’s expensive, it’s far, I don’t have a car, my friends don’t ski, and I don’t speak french! – yeah, I’m not proud of that one).

Looking back, I can only laugh at my behaviour – what made me think that one (snowy) day on a swiss resort without an actual instructor would bring out my inner Suzy Chaffee? It took me another 1.5 years to decide to throw my ski-insecurities down a hill and learn on my own terms and pace (and oh am I grateful I did!).

Confidence Tip: Overthinking and overanalysing stops us from taking action, stepping out of our comfort zones. What I do now to restrain myself from worrying too much and holding on to past mistakes is to focus on what I did well. You can only imagine how ecstatic I felt when I actually managed to ski down through 2 blues and 1 red without falling over (who cares if it took me 4 x as long to reach the base!).

Strive for progress – not perfection

Strive for Progress Not Perfection

When I was younger, I would crumple a paper and start all over again if I had made one only mistake. My hand writing was (and still is!) extremely clean and neat. When I sketch, I start with a 5H pencil and will gradually move to softer ones when I’m confident that the lines are where there should actually be.

As a perfectionist, nothing will ever be good enough. While my teacher praised the quality of my work, I couldn’t avoid comparing my architectural sketches to all the architects and designers in the room, and feeling like a penny.

Talk about unreasonably high standards!

Perfectionism does not only increase our self-doubt but also leads to procrastination. We stop ourselves from doing something if we know that the result won’t be even near to perfect. When I first started preparing for the GMAT, the course recommended me to take a first CAT (test) to assess my level. Instead, I didn’t do one until I was halfway through the books because I was worried about not reaching a minimum score I thought was reasonable.

But here’s the thing though: not reaching my desired GMAT score on the first CAT shouldn’t be seen as failure, but instead, an opportunity for progress and improvement!

Confidence Tip: Just abandon perfectionism. Seriously. Holding on to unreachable standards is a recipe for disaster. Instead, break your end goal down into smaller manageable goals and don’t give up – Focus on progress, instead of the end goal!

Step outside your comfort zone

Step outside your comfort zone (Kate goes Global)

We need to take more action, more risks and be willing to face failure. By simply stepping outside our comfort zones and realising that the World doesn’t end if we get the first step wrong is one of the most encouraging feelings you can get!

When I started to consider a career change back in early 2012, I was a nerve wreck. I pondered all the things that could go wrong (what if I can’t find a job? what if I realise I made a mistake? what if this is the closest to my ideal job that I can ever get?) and held on to my fear of getting it wrong for months before I took the leap. And guess what: once I did, the World didn’t end. Instead, it turned to open many doors I wasn’t even aware existed.

So what is constantly stopping us from stepping outside our comfort zone? Self-doubt, overthinking, fear of rejection and fear of failure all cause us to freeze and avoid taking action. But being confident doesn’t mean that you believe you are naturally good at something, but that you can learn and improve through work and repetition.

Confidence Tip: Take more action. And if the action itself is too big and scary to cope with all at once, divide it into smaller manageable actions that trick your brain into feeling no risk at all.


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Blood swept lands and seas of red

Over the past months, the Tower of London has been transformed into a red sea of hand-made ceramic poppies to commemorate the start of World War One. The first poppy was planted in July – ever since, 16,000 volunteers from across the World have donated their time to help plant the 888,246 flowers – each of which represents a British or colonial life lost during the war.

Blood swept lands and seas of red

Blood swept lands and seas of red

The evolving installation by ceramic artist Paul Cummins and set designer Tom Piper has a remarkable theatrical effect. I felt overwhelmed by the number of flowers filling the moat and moved by the flow of poppies pouring over the walls of the tower and out its windows. It really provides a sense of perspective to the vast consequences of World War One (or, any war, really!).

Sure, the installation only commemorates the loss of british allied services’ lives, but the truth is – any life lost to war is one life too many. I can’t even imagine how the installation would look like if we added all +16 million lost lives, regardless where they came from.

Blood swept lands and seas of red

Blood swept lands and seas of red

Each poppy has been sold to the public for £25 each, with a share of the proceeds going to six service charities in the UK – and they’ve already been sold out!

Blood swept lands and seas of red

Blood swept lands and seas of red

Blood swept lands and seas of red

The last poppy will be planted on the 11th of November, Armistice Day. If you’re in London before this day, I strongly encourage you to pay a visit this installation – it truly reflects the magnitude of this event.

Writing is a key way to refine my thoughts and keep a clean record of my experiences. I love composing thoughtful post ideas and choose and work on the photos that best go with the topic. However, sometimes I just want to share my thoughts, goals and the little things that make me smile on a day to day basis.

At the end of each month, I will put together a behind the scenes post in which I’ll give you a peek of my weekends, business travels, goals and favourite links.

Click here to read my previous Behind the Scenes.


On the road

IMG_2279

There are 3 things I’ve learned over the past month: a) the more stuff you travel with, the more you’re risking to loose something on the road, b) It’s impossible to keep everyone happy all the time and c) long-haul business tickets are totally worth their price (trust me).

October has taken me to Paris, Zurich, New York, Boston, Frankfurt and Tenerife (this last one was mainly to nap under a palm tree). 7 flights, 1 (delayed) Eurostar and countless cabs and cars later – I’m back to my more conventional self!


 Weekend Scenes

London, UK

Recovering from such a crazy start of the month has meant spending my weekends locally – after all, the last thing I wanted to travel somewhere else. I wandered around my neighbourhood – discovering amazing cafes, food markets and spotting beautiful doors along my way (ah, yes – doors have become an obsession!).


Reads

Over the clouds

A few days ago, I finished reading #Girlboss (I know, I’m a bit late to the party!). While I can’t say that this book has made it to my Top 10 favourites, it’s no doubt an exceptional story in which Sophia Amoruso recalls how she went from being an anarchist to becoming a CEO. My favourite word of advice is:

“When your goal is to gain experience and knowledge, failure is no longer your possibility, failure is your invention.”

And now to my favourite online reads.

  • After 10 years filled with amazing travel stories, Kaleena writes a goodbye letter to her first passport. I still remember retiring my last passport back in 2010!
  • I don’t like being told that I’m lucky to be where I am, and so does Liz. It undermines all the hard work we have poured into our lives! Admitting we’ve been lucky would mean that we don’t own our own achievements – Stop giving luck so much credit!
  • While I have a serious obsession with doors lately, Anna’s got a thing for floors. I love exploring new perspectives – and this post prompts me to look down more often!

Mantra

“Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.”

– Winston Churchill


October Goals Review

New York

  • Slow down. After returning from the roadshow earlier this month, I took this goal quite seriously and enjoyed doing nothing. I’ve spent weekends strolling around cafes, reading books and magazines and sleeping an average of 9 hours a day. I know, 9! That’s a luxury!
  • Walk without a destination in mind. Early October, I spent a weekend in New York. Even though I worked most of the weekend, I did squeeze in a long walk down to Madison Square (where I met the cutie in the picture above!). Back in London, I explored Balham, Wandsworth and Clapham Common – there’s always something new popping up in this area.
  • Move – no matter what! Ok so this one has been a bit trickier than I had thought. I went for a run through Central Park in New York and a few gym classes (hey, I even gave yoga another try and I liked it!) – but the truth is, when the weather isn’t playing along, I actually like to stay indoors. Maybe a new coat would help me break this habit?

 November Goals

Boston

  • Blog more often. I admit I’ve been a bad blogger over the past few months – only posting once or twice a month! While I’m aware that some bloggers are joining NaBloPoMo in November, I… am not ready to commit to a post per day. However, I do commit to 4 to 5 blog posts this month (you’ve got to start with something, right?).
  • Take more photos. This shouldn’t be a problem! This month, I have a visit to London, a trip to Paris and an Awards Ceremony. I can’t wait!
  • Run twice a week. I enjoy running, I really do. But ever since we’ve moved on from summer to fall, I’m finding it incredibly difficult to go out for a run in the park. The mornings are chilly and the evenings are dark. Don’t laugh – I’m a girl from the south!

 

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Writing is a key way to refine my thoughts and keep a clean record of my experiences. I love composing thoughtful post ideas and choose and work on the photos that best go with the topic. However, sometimes I just want to share my thoughts, goals and the little things that make me smile on a day to day basis.

At the end of each month, I will put together a behind the scenes post in which I’ll give you a peek of my weekends, business travels, goals and favourite links.

Click here to read my previous Behind the Scenes.


On the road

New York

September – what a month. Exhausting, chaotic and extremely challenging would still be an understatement. Early September, my team was appointed to project manage a global roadshow for what has now officially been titled the largest Initial Public Offering in history. While I partly assisted with managing logistics for this project, I also project managed a smaller (but incredibly high-profile) roadshow in London and New York, and pitched another project – which we’ve ultimately won as well (if all things stay the same – I should be flying to Paris at the time of publishing this post!).


Reads

New York

I’m currently reading the Confidence Code and am loving every little bit of it – I can’t wait to get hold of some free time on the planes to dive back into the book!

With my crazy schedule, I haven’t had time to read through many of my favourite blogs this month. But from those few times I did read online, the following two stood out to me:

  • On hiking along the Aletsch Glacier in Switzerland. So, yes – I love hiking, Specially when I’m surrounded by breath-taking landscape. And even more when this landscape includes volcanoes or glaciers. My hike along the Aletsch Glacier in Switzerland a few years ago still remains one of my favourite hikes of all times (you can read about my experience here: Part I and Part II). When I saw Simon’s dramatic photographs – I wandered back to that time. It has been too long since I last went to Switzerland. It’s time to plan a return!
  • On life-lessons learned from yoga.  The truth is, I haven’t yet been hooked by yoga. Maybe I haven’t been to the right places or maybe I just wasn’t in the right mind-frame up to now. One year ago, Jessica started out like me – joining a class reluctantly (because, you know, yoga is not a real workout). She fell in love with the exercise and has ever since managed to take over 100 classes! In her article, she lists 100 lessons she has learned from yoga . Her article has inspired me to give yoga another chance!

Mantra

“Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith”

– Margaret Shepard

September goals

London Stock Exchange

  • More GMAT. The past month has seen me struggle with keeping up with my GMAT schedule. When you work 70+ hours a week in an extremely fast-paced industry, it’s difficult to still have enough energy left to drill on tricky maths problems and power read scientific text in record times. Therefore, after experiencing increasing pressure and anxiety, I’ve deliberately decided to put the test aside for a couple of months. While I had been hoping to apply in Round 2 (January 2015), I also realised that it wasn’t right to apply in a rush – I want to be able to present the best of me after all!
  • School selection. Funnily, I do have a pretty good idea of the top 6 schools I like most (some in Europe, some in the US). I am planning to visit at least 3 of them when I get the chance, as I think that a decision that big can’t be based on a brochure.
  • Getting back to the habit of running. Does going for 2 runs in a month count at all?

October goals

St Paul's Cathedral, London

  • Slow down. At the end of this month, I felt like I was juggling one too many balls at the same time. I was close to entirely loosing balance and having all balls hit me on my head. It’s time to slow down and find time to just enjoy doing nothing productive.
  • Walk without a destination in mind. Do you know what I missed the most during this busy month? Walking. It’s like therapy to me! Some days I just walked around the block once before returning back to a never-ending inbox. I miss 1-2 hour walks without a destination in mind – I’m really looking forward to doing this in New York this weekend!
  • Move – no matter what! With all this newly acquired free time (you know, those 8-15 hrs per week I had been preparing for the GMAT), there’s really no excuse to just sit in front of a screen. In October, I want to move – no matter what! It’s sunny outside? Go for a run. It’s too cold? Go to Zumba. It’s fully booked? go climbing at the gym. On a roadshow? walk in between meetings or hit the hotel gym in the evening.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Writing is a key way to refine my thoughts and keep a clean record of my experiences. I love composing thoughtful post ideas and choose and work on the photos that best go with the topic. However, sometimes I just want to share my thoughts, goals and the little things that make me smile on a day to day basis.

At the end of each month, I will put together a behind the scenes post in which I’ll give you a peek of my weekends, business travels, goals and favourite links.

Click here to read my previous Behind the Scenes.


On the road

Tenerife from above, Spain

August was shorter than May, June and July all combined. How is that even possible? The past month still feels like one big blur. So much beauty. So much sunshine. So much food. So much wine. Each time I return home for a few days, it becomes harder to leave. As I arrived at the airport to check in for my return and couldn’t find my passport, I felt a guilty relief. I thought that it was just meant to be.

Fortunately or not, life has other plans. We found my passport and I left Tenerife once again – but not without plenty of great memories and adventures, such as watching the sun rise from the highest peak in Spain.


Weekend scenes

The Power of Summer - Outdoor Cinema, London

Whenever I feel grumpy about London, I remind myself of the amazing things you can do on a sunny weekend in the city.

One of my summer favourites has been The Power of Summer – a pop-up food & film festival set at one of London’s coolest landmarks – Battersea Power Station (an old power station south of the Thames). After working our way through the food market, we grabbed a mojito and entered the silent cinema area, filled with colourful bean bags and set with the power station as a trendy industrial back drop.


Mantra

“I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”

– Thomas Jefferson

July goals

View from Guajara, Tenerife (Spain)

  • GMAT. August has definitely seen me struggle. While some days I thought I could totally beat it, others I felt like giving up. It just felt disheartening to spend so many hours devoted to something, only to see you fail. But there’s one valuable thing I’ve learned from this: making  mistakes is not a bad thing – it’s actually a good thing, it forces me to learn something new! I’m repeating this over and over until I breathe this new mantra.
  • Hiking. My two weeks in Tenerife were adorned with great escapes to the outdoors. Aside from watching the sun rise from the top of an active volcano, I also peaked over lava fields (picture above) and watched the sun set in between lunar landscapes. I just love volcanic landscapes!
  • Photography. I have a confession to make. I forgot to pack my camera! I think I’ve gotten so used to not carrying one that I don’t miss it. And that’s not a good thing. Instagram may do miracles, but I really want to get back to the time in which I had photo memories of my travels that I could print in large size if I wanted to.

September goals

Sunset in Tenerife, Spain

  • More GMAT. I can’t believe I’m half way through my GMAT course already! There’s still plenty of new material and revisions to do before the exam though. I aim to take my first test end of October-Mid November, so I really need to speed up during the next two months!
  • School selection. and am starting to get a better sense of what exactly I’m looking for, so it’s time to dig deeper into my top programs and develop an application strategy to describe my story. This month, I aim to narrow down my selection to 4 programs I truly love and reaching out to at least one current student or alumni.
  • Getting back to the habit of running. Can you imagine what I enjoyed even more than hiking? The lunches and dinners afterwards. Spain, I love you to bits – but these 3-course late lunches that last the entire afternoon have serious side-effects! So I want to make use of the (still) late sunsets and (occasional) rain-free evenings in London to head to the park before it’s too cold. P.S.: No. I don’t run outside in winter. I hibernate.

Sunrise from the highest peak in Spain (Teide, Tenerife)

One of the many reasons I love to return home to Tenerife is to decompress from the 24-hour buzz of life in London and reconnect with nature. Sure, the city has plenty of beautiful parks I love – but there’s nothing that really compares to a 3-4 hour hike in the mountains or even a 1-hour stroll along a sunny coast.

In the heart of the Tenerife, lies El Teide, which at 3718 M (roughly 12,198 feet) above sea level is the highest point in Spain and also the 3rd highest volcano in the World as measured from its base on the Atlantic floor (right after Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa in Hawaii). You might be surprised to read that El Teide is still active – with its most recent eruption as late as 1909.

After a few months of regular training, I was ready to take on a new challenge: climbing Mount Teide to watch the sunrise from the highest peak in Spain.

First Section – From Montaña Blanca to the Base

Hiking Montaña Blanca - Teide (Tenerife, Spain)

Our path began at roughly 4:00 PM the afternoon before at the car park located on km 40.3 of the TF-21 road. The track is a very easy walk that offers impressive views of the volcano and its surroundings – largely covered with pumice (a light coloured volcanic rock). After about 30 minutes, we reached a set of volcanic bombs known as the Huevos del Teide. These solidified lava balls rolled down the mountain side from the front of advancing lava flows during the volcanic eruptions.

45 minutes later, we arrived at the bottom or base of the volcano itself – where the real adventure began!

Second Section – From the Base to Refugio Altavista

Hiking Montaña Blanca - Teide (Tenerife, Spain)

The road we had been following throughout the past 5KM turned into a steep, narrow and rocky path (Route 7 – La Rambleta).

The ascent from the base (at roughly 2700 M) to Refugio Altavista (at 3260 M) is short in distance, but quite tough because of its slope (almost 600 M hight in roughly 2 KM). With each step, I noticed the increasing lack of oxygen – What would normally take me 30 minutes to hike, took almost double the time.

Occasionally, we were overtaken by some super-humans who probably spent every one of their holidays racing up and down volcanoes. I wasn’t there to compete though – so I walked my own pace to allow my body to adjust to the height and avoid running out of breath.

Hiking Montaña Blanca - Teide (Tenerife, Spain)

Roughly two hours on, we arrived at what would be our accommodation (Refugio Altavista) – right on time to quickly freshen up before watching the sun set over the mountains.

The Refugio Altavista consists of two buildings with a capacity of 54 people. Everybody staying in the refuge had one common goal – to reach the crater before sunrise! For this reason, the maximum stay is one night only and you asked to leave the Refuge before 8:00 AM (who stays until that late anyway?).

I was in bed by 9:45 PM.

Note: The panoramic picture above is the view from the refugio – showing the shadow of the volcano.

Third Section – From Refugio Altavista to the Crater

Sunrise from the highest peak in Spain (Teide, Tenerife)

I didn’t sleep much that night. I’m not sure if it was the excitement, the altitude or the snoring (or maybe a combination of all three) – but time flew and it felt like only minutes had passed when I started to hear the first early-risers getting ready for the big climb. At 5:15 AM I slowly climbed down my bunk bed, put on my headlamp and packed my backpack.

At 6:00 AM, after a light breakfast and a strong coffee, it was time to go!

Sunrise from the highest peak in Spain (Teide, Tenerife)

Starting at over 3200 M above sea level and having another 500 M height difference ahead of us, we calculated we’d need one and a half hours to reach the summit. I thought I’d have a tough time getting up early to go out for a challenging hike in the dark, but I was wrong – I felt like a kid on a very important mission.

The wind had picked up a bit, which made the walk in the dark even more interesting. Every now and then I could catch a flickering headlamp and hear low voices drifting from above. Sometimes, I stopped to look back just to confirm that I indeed wasn’t alone up there. 

When the sun began to rise, I was still a short walk away from the summit. I had to stop for a picture, though – the panoramic view was breathtaking.

Sunrise from the highest peak in Spain (Teide, Tenerife)

One final push and I reached the summit on time for the grand opening!

Sunrise from the highest peak in Spain (Teide, Tenerife)

Sunrise from the highest peak in Spain (Teide, Tenerife)

My hands were trembling (it was cold!) and my heart felt like it was going to pack up and leave. While I attempted to recover my breath, I explored the rest of the summit and found the the other side of the sunrise – the shadow of the volcano.

Sunrise from the highest peak in Spain (Teide, Tenerife)

The skies began to transcend from pink to yellow. Some hikers (probably those with another long day of adventure ahead of them) began their descend. Others (me included) didn’t really want to leave at all. I could have stayed all day, if it wasn’t for the strong smell of sulphur!

Sunrise from the highest peak in Spain (Teide, Tenerife)

Fourth Section – from the Crater to the Cable car

It was only once we began to descend the crater that I could fully appreciate the lunar landscape. The trip down wasn’t easy as there was plenty of loose rock and gravel – another perfect excuse to stop to take photos.

Hiking Montaña Blanca - Teide (Tenerife, Spain)

Hiking Montaña Blanca - Teide (Tenerife, Spain)

Hiking Montaña Blanca - Teide (Tenerife, Spain)

Many hikers (me included) took the easier way back down the volcano by getting on the cable car. The first one runs at 9:00 AM, which gave me some more extra time to capture the rocky landscape.

Hiking Montaña Blanca - Teide (Tenerife, Spain)

Too soon, it was 9:00 AM and we hopped on the cable car together with another 20 glowing hikers – all of us sharing photos and experiences of that crazy time we watched the sun rise from the highest peak in Spain.

Hiking Montaña Blanca - Teide (Tenerife, Spain)

Note: while a number of enthusiastic hikers challenge themselves to reach the crater before sunrise, this is far from being the only way to go. From the Upper Station of the cable car, Route No. 10 (Telesforo Bravo) also leads to the summit. This hike, while still challenging because of the altitude and the loose rocks and gravel, is much shorter! Remember: you will need a permit to access the crater during daytime (you can request the permit here). 

Practical Information

Route: Montaña Blanca – Pico del Teide
Elevation gain uphill: 1450 m approx.
Elevation gain downhill: 170 m approx.
Length: around 12 km
Duration: from Montaña Blanca to the Refugio Altavista, around 2.5 to 3.5 hrs // from Refugio Altavista to the summit between 1.5 and 2.5 hrs (depends on how you cope with altitude).
Difficulty: Moderate – Difficult (depends on your shoes and condition)
Wikiloc: Ruta Montaña Blanca-Pico Teide (does not include the descend to the cable car)
Accommodation link: Refugio Altavista

Click here to go to all my hiking adventures.


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Writing is a key way to refine my thoughts and keep a clean record of my experiences. I love composing thoughtful post ideas and choose and work on the photos that best go with the topic. However, sometimes I just want to share my thoughts, goals and the little things that make me smile on a day to day basis.

At the end of each month, I will put together a behind the scenes post in which I’ll give you a peek of my weekends, business travels, goals and favourite links.

Click here to read my previous Behind the Scenes.


Where to begin… I guess it’s been a while is a bit of an understatement. The whole reason I redesigned and rebranded this blog was to start over. It hasn’t been easy to keep up to my expectations: when I haven’t been working, I’ve spent most of my time preparing to take the GMAT. Whenever I sat down to write a new post – I felt guilty for not using this time to do something related to the test. I guess it’s become my priority!

While I’m still working through endless books about Quant and Verbal reasoning, I’ve decided to set aside a little time to indulge in blogging to share what has been going on for the past month.


On the road

Tarifa, Spain

By far my favourite experience in July was my short escape to Tarifa (Cádiz), via Madrid. The heat, the sunshine, the fresh fish and sea breeze, the 4€ mojitos and sharing all this with some of my closest friends was exactly what I needed. I would have extended it for a bit longer (maybe 6 months instead of 6 days!) – Why does always time fly when you’re having fun?

Since returning to responsible life in London, I’ve been adding some holiday flair to my daily routines – like having a Coronita after work in the sun!


Weekend scenes

Coronita Extra

Who said England doesn’t do summer? Ok, maybe it was me.

Well, England proved me wrong: this past month turned out to be one of the warmest and sunniest months in the UK since – wait for it – 1910. Ok, it hasn’t been ridiculously hot (at least not above ground). But still – it has been the sunniest and warmest month since I’ve moved to London already 3 years ago.

Weekends have been spent reading in the park or on the balcony with a cold Coronita next to me. Heaven. 


Reads

Sunset

Even though the GMAT is taking most of my reading time, I occasionally indulged in some fun and lighter reading – my latest addiction was Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet by Helen Poole. Confession: for a brief time in my teens, I dreamt of becoming a flight attendant (who didn’t?). One of my closest friends’ mom was one herself and, as soon as I told her about my dreams, she made it clear that I was no flight attendant material. I now thank her for her honesty.

Not only is Cruising Attitude witty and fun to read, but it provides a real insight into the life of a flight attendant. You’ll gain a whole new level of respect towards them on your next flight!

And now to my favourite online reads.

  • On feeling out of sync. Incredibly well put, Candace explores what caused a series of hapless travel blunders: “We find our rhythms in life, and we fall out of them.” I’ve felt this way many times before, and while it feels like you’ve completely lost your mojo – it soon enough returns, once you’ve adapted to the new rhythm.
  • On airport security checks. Every now and then, new airport security is introduced to our already stressful travel concerns – now, you won’t be able to fly to the US unless all of your bazillion electronic devices switch on. Nice one. Ché (aka. IndieBerries) has a charming way of showing the World the new security check routine – an absolute must for any traveler!
  • On acts of kindness. We’re all always wanting to be better people – but most of the time, we don’t have the time (or, well, at least that’s what we tell ourselves). Sarah explores 19 super easy ways to make the World a better place. No more excuses!

Mantra

Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tip toe if you must, but take the step.

– Anonymous

July goals

Sand dunes, Tarifa (Spain)

  • Stay active. My goal was to run 2/3 times per week and try to reach 5K in 30min. Maybe that was a bit optimistic. I’ve gone for an average of 1/2 runs per week and am still a good 7-10min away from the 5K in 30min goal – which is still better than my June average!
  • GMAT. I’m very proud of the efforts I’m doing to spend my 15 to 20 weekly hours working on the test. I took my very first CAT test without keeping track of time (I know that’s not the way I’m supposed to do it… but I wanted to check my skills, not my speed). I scored a 590 (Q35 / V35). Nothing to be particularly proud of – but it was a start!
  • Health. During July, I slept like a Queen and ate like one, too. I haven’t fully regained my energy yet so I’m wondering what else could be causing this drowsiness. Any ideas to regain more energy?

August goals

Sunset in Tenerife, Spain

  • More GMAT. Throughout the month of August, I’ll still have the GMAT as a top priority, which may or may not mean that this space over here will be quiet for another few weeks.
  • Hiking. The great thing about August is that I’m spending all of the month on holidays. I don’t have anything very exciting going on (I didn’t have the time to plan it!), so I’ll be heading home to the Canary Islands for 2 entire weeks! I’m hoping to go on a day hiking trip at least once a week (or maybe even a 3 day journey on a different island!).
  • PhotographyI’ve realised that, since I got an iPhone, I’ve been drifting away from my DSLR. Most of the time, the reason I don’t take it with me is because it’s heavy and bulky. But I miss it. I’ll be taking it with me this time and hopefully will return with hundreds of beautiful landscapes of one of my favourite places on Earth.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Writing is a key way to refine my thoughts and keep a clean record of my experiences. I love composing thoughtful post ideas and choose and work on the photos that best go with the topic. However, sometimes I just want to share my thoughts, goals and the little things that make me smile on a day to day basis.

At the end of each month, I will put together a behind the scenes post in which I’ll give you a peek of my weekends, business travels, goals and favourite links.

Click here to read my previous Behind the Scenes.


On the road

Lisbon, Portugal
Early June I worked on a Roadshow that took me through London, Copenhagen, Paris and Lisbon. Unfortunately in this business we hardly ever get to see much of any of the cities we go to – after all, we’re working around the clock and cramming in as many investor meetings as physically possible.

However, I always find some small travel joys along my way – like this fabulous view from my room in Lisbon!


Weekend scenes

Wedding in Spain

One of the difficult things about being an expat is to accept that you won’t be able to be home for every birthday, promotion, wedding or baby shower. It’s heartbreaking.

Mid-June, a friend from University was getting married in his hometown. For months I knew that it was going to be the biggest (and most legendary) get together since graduation in 2008 but my business agenda wasn’t looking great for that weekend at all… until things suddenly freed up that same week. I didn’t hesitate – I booked a flight, bought a dress, shoes and a beautiful necklace and flew to Spain for a long weekend of delicious food, hilarious toasts, incredibly successful congas, a few broken plates and non-stop dancing.

The weekend reminded me that true friendship isn’t about being inseparable, it’s being separated and nothing changes. 


Reads

Over the past months, I’ve become increasingly interested in the psychology of businesses and management. I recently stumbled across Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, and even though I am an extravert I can see many characteristics of introversion in my character (in fact, Cain’s  Quiet test shows I’m actually ambivert – falling smack in the middle of the introvert-extrovert spectrum).

And now to my favourite online reads this month.

  • On extraversion and introversion. A few years ago, I took the Myers-Briggs test and learned that I’m an ENFP (as in Extraversion, Intuition, Feeling, and Perception). I’m still an ENFP today, but, just as Jessica, I have some of the characteristics  that describe an Introvert, too.
  • On treating your body like a temple. I can completely relate to Sarah, as she tries to re-educate herself on eating, drinking and using those products that she really likes – not just because otherwise they would go to waste.
  • On traveling. I loved Christine’s travel article questions whether we were really all born to travel and what our experience would be like without the locals.

Mantra

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”

– Jim Rohn


June Goals – Review

Morning run in Wandsworth Park, London

  • Stay Active. My specific goal was to create a habit of running twice a week. I’ve kept my word and have reached my first 5 km mark!
  • Unplug. Except for the time I was on the road for work, I’ve been able to keep a fairly good technology break every evening. My sleep is much deeper – and there’s no temptation to rush to a flashing red light in the middle of the night.
  • Plan. During June, I also had a mission set to plan my summer holidays. Well, this hasn’t happened. I have been dreaming and planning it up in my head, but haven’t gotten an approval for my leave request. I’m afraid I’ve given up on planning and will just go with the flow…

July Goals

  • Stay active.  In July, I want to concentrate on my speed and run 2/3 morning runs per week, hoping to reach 5 km in 30 minutes by the end of the month.
  • GMAT. It’s getting serious, guys – I’ve signed up for a complete online course which includes 16 books with hundreds of drill sets and access to millions of online test questions. The course recommend 15 hours of individual work per week – so I better get started!
  • Health. With my full-time work schedule, the GMAT and a mini side project I’m working on at the moment, I’m risking overload, so during July I aim to take special care of myself with regular green smoothies, easy home cooked meals and 7-8 hours of sleep. I’m currently a bit low on energy, so my mission is to be fully back on track by the end of the month.

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Next month, it’ll be 5 years since I landed my first real job and moved abroad without a clear idea of when I would return.

Lavaux, Switzerland

Lavaux’s vineyards became my weekend escape

I remember the blend of contradicting feelings I had when I formally accepted that first job offer in Lausanne, Switzerland. On one side, I was happy to have a job in the field I wanted and excited about all the new experiences ahead of me. On the other, though, I was worried I wasn’t good enough for the job and wouldn’t fit into the new culture.

I was moving long-term to a new city, in a new country. I didn’t know anyone nor did I speak the language. And yet, I had to hit the ground running.

Skiing in Chamonix, France

Even better than hitting the ground running, was hitting it skiing

As I settled into my life in Switzerland, I learned a lot about self-sufficiency. Sometimes, I learned it the hard way – like that time I had to kick someone out of my flat using all the French words I had learned over those 2 years. But most of the time, all those new challenges – like flat hunting, moving or going to a doctor – were easier than I had thought.

Moving abroad has taught me a lot about what I can accomplish by myself once I break outside my comfort zone and step into the new and unknown. With every step I take outside, my comfort zone expands – and the more it expands, the bigger and more powerful the experiences I live.

Es Ram, Formentera, Balearic Islands (Spain)

Like that time I escaped the crowds in Formentera, Spain

At times, returning to Spain seems like an incredibly appealing idea – Spain is, after all, the heart of my comfort zone and London is, in many ways, the exact opposite of what I feel comfortable with – It’s noisy, big and crowded. But this kind of daily challenge keeps me on my toes. It pushes me to continue learning, developing and adapting every day.

London Eye, London (UK)

Of course, not all learning paths are a straight line. I have struggled, failed repeatedly and made a fool of myself – but most of the time I have come out on the other side knowing that this struggle has helped me grow and develop my strengths.

I don’t know how long I will continue in London or where I would go next if an opportunity rose. But I do know that I’m not done with being an expat – and I’m not sure I ever will.

In which ways has living abroad expanded your comfort zone?


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