goals

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!


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

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?


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

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.

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.

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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

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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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

Train ride from Boston to NYC

May has been quite a month.

I worked on a project that took me to Boston and New York City. It was my first roadshow outside Europe – image how nervous (and excited) I was! While I spent most of the time walking and driving from one meeting to another, I was glad I got to see some american landscape during my train ride from Boston to New York and spend the weekend in the heart of Manhattan’s concrete jungle!


Weekend scenes

Sendero Las Breñas, El Sauzal (Tenerife - Canary Islands)

Right after the end of the roadshow, I travelled back to Tenerife for what initially was going to be a long weekend, but ended up being an entire week. Until that moment, I hadn’t really realised how important it was for me to be home when I most needed to be taken care of.

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona (Spain)

One of the many reasons I LOVE May is because, in the UK, the month starts and ends with a long weekend – And this year the latter one converged with my 30th birthday! I hopped on a flight with one of my closest friends and headed to Barcelona to shop for shoes and jewellery, eat tapas, pinchos and arroz caldoso and drink cava, patxarán and real gin tonics. Oh, and were stunned by the Sagrada Familia (but this deserves a post of its own).


Reads

If there is one thing that my recent trip to Tenerife (and multiple trips to the doctor) has taught me is that you should never be too busy to take care of yourself. Shortly after my time at the hospital, I came across Arianna Huffington’s fantastic new book Thrive. I could perfectly see myself in her words – never-ending to do lists, sleep deprivation, constantly checking for new e-mails. Honestly, this book has been eye-opening and life-changing for me, and I strongly recommend it to everyone (whether you walk around claiming you’re busy and stressed, or not!).

And now to my favourite online reads this month.

  • On travelling. I absolutely love Outmeal’s comics, and with all the travelling I’ve been doing lately, I couldn’t stop smiling when I read the crap we put up with getting on and off an airplane.
  • On adventure. I’m all for extraordinary adventures, and living in a yurt is one I still want to experience. Candace spent weeks sleeping beneath the starts. The way she writes about her time in Salt Spring and her incredible sketches have awaken some serious wanderlust!
  • On learning to say no. Saying no sounds fairly easy if it’s something you don’t want to do. But these words only truly become meaningful when you turn down opportunities you actually want.

Mantra

Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.

Mahatma Gandhi


June Goals

Morning run in Wandsworth Park, London

  • Stay Active. Continue to go out on at least 2 mornings runs per week. I never thought I could be an early morning person, but since I’ve started to integrate running into my morning schedule, I begin my days with much brighter energy and enthusiasm!
  • Unplug. Mid-May, I picked one Saturday as my technology detox day. Instead of obsessing over my e-mails and my blog stats, I went for a long run, bought myself a picnic and an iced-coffee and read a book in the park. I want to turn this into a monthly habit, to remind myself that the World doesn’t end if I’m not available 24-hrs.
  • Plan. Although June is probably going to be the busiest month at work so far, I’m determined this to be the month I set a date, destination and budget for my summer holidays. I know, I’m starting a bit late – I might as well improvise it!

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I recently spoke with a good friend about New Year resolutions and how they never seem to last because, well, life gets in our ways. You see, after careful thought I’ve realised that the past few years have always held one huge life changing event that I would have never thought of in January of that year. Some examples:

  • 2013: I moved from London to Barcelona for 4 months on a 3 week notice.
  • 2012: I quit my well-paid and respected job in commodity finance to do something more creative.
  • 2011: I was offered to move from Switzerland to London on a 4 months notice.

Do you see what I mean? How am I supposed to set New Year resolutions if I don’t even know in which country I’ll be in or which sector I’ll be working in?

Playa Ancón, Tenerife (Canary Islands)

My life as it is doesn’t allow me to set very tactical goals on a long-term basis – I want my goals to be more strategic.

As I usually do, I looked for an answer in Google and came across a completely new approach to New Year resolutions that seems to adapt way better to my lifestyle – Choosing three Words that reflect my overall goals of the year (a method created by Chris Bogan).

Grow

30 St Mary Axe, London (UK)

Last year I lived in continuous uncertainty. Even though I learned to enjoy the excitement and curiosity about what’s next, the lack of groundness (is this actually a real word?) made it an impossible scenario to grow professionally. In 2013, I grew experiences – but 2014 is the time to become more intentional about my new career path. Obtaining an official certification in Project Management, learning Brazilian Portuguese and concentrating on developing new business contacts and opportunities are three specific goals I have set myself for this year.

Grow also resonates with my saving goals. I haven’t always been responsbile with my own money (which is rather strange for someone who has specialized in finance). In fact, 2013 beat my savings up hard. Whatever little income I had, I spent it in less than a month and from there on, tapped into my savings. This year, I’m moving into a more affordable flat, setting up a direct debit of 200 GBP a month to go into my savings account and am being more conscious about where I put my money in.

Simplify

Chamonix, France

I’ve learned a valuable lesson in 2013 – Being open to change is way easier when you don’t have other long-term commitments. You see, when I accepted moving to Barcelona, I didn’t really give enough thought to the fact that I was going to be paying for two flats at the same time (one of them being in one of the most expensive cities in the World). How easy would it have been if I didn’t have a long term contract, all my thoughtfully bought furniture and 10 boxes full of clothes!

This doesn’t mean that I’m going to turn all minimalistic (I do enjoy having more than one pair of jeans), but just simplifying things (both, emotionally and physically) whenever possible. I’m starting with decluttering my wardrobe and moving to a more flexible rental in London. I firmly believe that less complexities and clutter around you also brings clarity and reduces stress – an added bonus!

Radiant

Sunset from Las Terrazas del Sauzal, Tenerife

In 2014, I want to feel as radiant as the sun. One of the many definitions given to this beautiful word is having or showing an attractive quality of happiness, love and health. There couldn’t be any word more global than this one.

I want to feel energized, healthy and happy. I’ll continue to exercise regularly, go to bed before 11:30pm and get up in time to have a decent breakfast at home. But I’ll also be consciously reminding myself of the things I’m thankful for (specially on those days I feel like it’s me against the World). If there’s anything that 2013 has taught me is that in the end, everything will be ok.

What are your three words for 2014?

Sunset in London, UK

You see this? This is me giving up on holding this blog on maintenance mode to rework on the layout, design and format. Who am I kidding? I’m not a web designer. In fact, I’m not a tech person. I’m not even very savvy when it comes to social media – and I’m a Gen Y! (How did this happen?).

I’m impatient, unsettled and a bit unstructured at the moment – and that’s exactly how this corner of the internet is as well. Don’t judge – We are both work in progress.

I’m just about to move flats for the 14th time in 11 years (my 4th move in my 2 years in London). I’ve misplaced my photos from my time in Switzerland (but on the flip side just found 6 years worth of Uni pictures – which I’m pretty sure my friends will agree are priceless). I’ve also misplaced a few things on the blog: Some posts are lacking a featured image and some may even contain links that won’t be taking you anywhere. I’m still not happy with the colour of the navigation menu and am on the mission of figuring it out using a highly complex fundamental problem solving method called trial and error.

Under the warmth of winter sunshine in the Canary Islands, I occasionally sit down and stare blankly at the CSS sheets and let my mind wanders to everything else but code. I realized that I was too impatient to get it perfect – what I really wanted to do is write.

I used to think that 2013 was a rather boring year. No treks in Patagonia. No glacier hiking in New Zealand. No climbing the Grest Wall of China. I didn’t leave Europe in 2013. In fact, my longest flight this year has been 4.5 hrs to return home. But looking back I realize that I was wrong – 2013 was eventful and exciting! I travelled, hiked, learned how to ski. I moved to Barcelona and back to London. I worked for a private jet company, experienced the FINA World Swimming Championships and am now continuously surrounded by inspiring people leading a global creative agency. I couldn’t be happier!

If I had to pick one word to define 2013 this would be
UNCERTAINTY.

Before 2013, I linked uncertainty to the lack of security; risk, and the possibility of loss. I was looking at it all wrong. Uncertainty this year has meant freedom of choice, absolute flexibility and dreams as big as they can get. I was anything but settled and at some point in Barcelona it stopped being scary and became exciting.

I always had a choice. I chose to change my career risking my steady paycheck. I decided to temporarily move to Barcelona. I chose to cut on travel to focus on building a new career. I chose to take on a new role and move back to London. I don’t regret any of these choices – they have brought me to where I am now: ready to take on 2014!

I might not have travelled as much as I had in the previous years, but I’ve still had my fair amount of adventures:

January

Chamonix, France

In January, I took off on a week long trip to Chamonix with one clear mission – to learn how to ski. I’ve given up on my hopes of becoming a slope legend, but at least I can glide down blue slopes without major hiccups – it’s a start! During our time in the Mont Blanc region, we also took the highest vertical ascent cable car in the World which took us to Aiguille du Midi (from where I took the above picture). It was amazing to watch people climb the Mont Blanc and ski down off piste some of the steepest parts I’ve ever seen.

February & March

Hiking from Seaford to Eastbourne, UK

While February went unnoticeable, March was quite eventful. Despite the still wintery weather, I took my visit to explore the Seven Sisters from Seaford to Eastbourne. It may not have been the best time of the year to do so (I would erase the hour walking in mud from our already wet itinerary) – but it was still a beautiful sight.

April

Los Gigantes, Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain)

Right before my temporary move to Barcelona, I travelled back home to Tenerife to rest in between jobs. Exploring a new hiking path has become a ritual and this visit was no exception. In April, I was introduced to one of (now) my favourite hiking spots in the island – Masca’s ravine. I’ve set myself a challenge to hike the ravine down to sea level and up again next year.

May

Montserrat, Catalonia (Spain)

May saw me moving into a tiny apartment in Barrio de Gracia, Barcelona, sharing with far more people than I was used to. Having a tiny room and no living room meant spending a lot of time exploring Barcelona. I immediately fell in love with my neighborhood and was fascinated by the martian rock formations in Montserrat.

I managed to squeeze in a quick visit to Madrid to visit old friends and celebrate my birthday with some of my favoruite people in the World.

June

Sitges, Barcelona (Spain)

Whenever I had some time in my hands, I spent it under the sunshine – at roof tops, balconies, beaches – You name it, I did it! This month I also visited Sitges – a beautiful small fisher town south of Barcelona known for its annual film festival and many nudist beaches just next to the waterfront paths.

July & August

FINA 15th World Swimming Championships BCN2013, Barcelona

During July and August I worked. A lot. The FINA World Swimming Championships took place between the 19th of July and the 4th of August, with the weeks leading up to the 19th spent closing contracts, making orders, finishing designs and supervising construction. I met amazing people that became great friends I still keep in touch with.

September

Costa Brava, Catalonia

The end of August marked the time I surrendered to uncertainty. I gave in. I had officially left sunny Barcelona and had no answer to what next. I road tripped around Catalonia – from Barcelona, along Costa Brava, all the way to Cap de Creus and back down through Garrotxa. I took in all its beauty and variety, going from visiting the medieval town of Peratallada to kayaking around Cadaqués. I also took the chance to return home for a few days and celebrate my grandfather’s 80th Anniversary. At the end of September, everything started to fall again place as I accepted my current job and moved back to London.

October

Sushisamba Restaurant, London

Apart from taking a weekend architectural sketching course in London, I visited friends in Frankfurt and had friends hopping over to London. I hardly shared any of this on the blog for one main reason – lack of time. All I was able to write about (because I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I left it out of common knowledge) is Sushisamba!

November & December

Playa Acón, Tenerife (Canary Islands)

…Which brings me to here and now. I was allocated my first project at the agency mid-November and lost track of place and time until it was over, some time early December. This project took me to Milan and Frankfurt (although I hardly saw anything else than the hotel and the streets in fast motion). I fell quiet around here partly to recover my energy and partly to redesign the blog (something I had been hoping to do for ages!). I’m spending Christmas and New Year’s back in Tenerife – taking the chance to spend time with family, go for walks and hikes and just read in the morning sun. There’s no place I’d rather be right now than here.

I will remember 2013 for being the year I discovered Barcelona (a first timer – which is embarrassing to admit for someone who lived in Spain for 22 years). It’s also the year I fully invested in my new career. The year I surrendered to uncertainty and gave in to the risk of failure. The year I took adventure trips in my backyard (so to say) and learned to appreciate what’s closeby.

Happy Holidays – I wish you all a wonderful start to 2014!

It’s funny how life continuously tests your limits.

Most of us were told that if we studied hard, we would get the job we expected; and yet, when it comes to today’s work life, nothing really seems to go as planned.

Hiking from Seaford to Eastbourne, UK

Each time I start to feel a certain confidence and security, the ground begins to move again, reminding me that I live in a World that is not predictable anymore.

A degree no longer leads to a job. An MBA no longer guarantees a generous salary increase. And a career in banking is no longer a stable choice.

This is really not how I was told it was going to be.

Chamonix, France

I’m a devoted planner. I began working on a 2, 5 and 10 year goal a few years back, when I was going to graduate from University. These goals from back then haven’t changed significantly, but my strategy has taken a U-Turn. Instead of working backwards from my perfect job, I choose a direction I like and work on it. There’s no guarantee my perfect job will still exist 10 years from now – but a direction never will. There will always be the need for a planner. A leader. A negotiator.

Sometimes, though, it’s hard to accept that you’re vulnerable to future developments. That you can’t plan and control your way into your dream job anymore. There’s no straight line to becoming who you want to be, but instead, a rocky path full of strong curves without warning signs.

These rocky paths are part of the adventure. But staring at the strong curve without seeing its end makes me nervous and unsettled.

My old self would have a plan lined up. My new self, though, wants to test my sense of adventure.

Walking on Lava, Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain)

Am I capable of walking the entire curve while enjoying the path, without worrying about what’s at the end of it?

Happy New Year to Everyone!

Shanghai, China

I realize I’m slightly late with my 2013 resolutions; I took the past few weeks off to celebrate the holidays at home in Tenerife and in Chamonix. But, oh well, better later than never.

My last post from 2012 summed up my the moments I am most proud of in 2012, and to kick off the start of a brand new year, I want to share my goals and resolutions.

Sailing in the Canary Islands

 

  • Be capable of skipping a small yacht for a day. In 2012, I became a competent crew through a one week experience that taught me a lot – not only about sailing, but about history, weather forecasts and the Canary Islands. This year, I aim to take the next step and become a day skipper to skip a small yacht during day time and navigate along the coast side or between islands.

 

 

  • Erase “I can’t” from my vocabulary. Henry Ford is right: Whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you’re right. Sometimes, I catch myself repeating those words when something isn’t going the way I had planned. In 2013, I won’t let those words sabotage my chances!

 

The 1001 Uses of a Map, in Buenos Aires, Argentina

 

  • Travel solo. I have traveled solo before, but these travels have always fulfilled a purpose (education or work). When it comes to leisure travel, however, I’ve always traveled with family or friends. This year, I want to step out of my comfort one and take at least 5 days off to explore a destination by myself. I’m very much looking forward to the new opportunities this will enable!

 

 

  • 15 minutes of French every day. Not investing more time and efforts in improving my french was one of the things I most regret from my two years in Switzerland – but it’s not too late. I’ve got Rosetta Stone on my laptop and french movies on my shelf, and having a french flatmate won’t hurt the process!

 

Torres del Paine, Chile

 

  • Be fit for a half marathon. I’ve never had big plans of running a marathon – but this level of fitness allows for many other physical activities that I do want to do, such as the Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt. Small weekly steps will hopefully lead to big results this year!

 

 

  • Put more effort into nurturing friendships. My final goal is to focus on nurturing the relationships that make my life better, despite the distance between us. I want to spend more time with them, remember their birthdays and prepare small gestures that will make them smile.