opportunity

Usually, I would publish an end-of-month Behind the Scenes recap but given the circumstances (not having published one, like, since February) I figured – maybe this is the perfect time to post a big picture update! While it’s fun to come up with random stats (like minutes spent on a plane in a given month), this info becomes kind of meaningless when there have been so many other weird and wonderful things happening over the past 3 months.

I quit my job

Blue Sea in Tenerife, Spain

This was a tough one. I had a great team of extremely talented and fun people. We did some amazing things that clients and banks thought were almost impossible. Worked in a beautiful office in one of my favourite parts of London (Fitzrovia). Got invited to extravagant drinks and dinners. Flew across the Globe, ramping up frequent flyer miles like there’s no tomorrow and staying at hotels I could otherwise only dream of.

So, I had a project-based job that combined the creative and financial industries, paid the bills and allowed me to travel around the World – which I thought was all I wanted. But it turns out – it wasn’t. What happened?

To be honest, my decision wasn’t as much about enjoying my job but, instead, about a shift in my definition of ambition.

Over the past few years, I had grown to the idea that ambition was putting your career in front of everything else. But now I believe that my definition of ambition and success have evolved: they no longer means pulling all-nighters and constantly sacrificing personal stuff to deliver flawless projects or win over new accounts.

Don’t get me wrong: I still believe I’m ambitious – Maybe even more than I had ever been before. Now, I’m not willing to settle down for a life that doesn’t make me happy in more than just one aspect of my life!

I moved back to Spain

Hiking in Tenerife, Spain

Have you ever felt the need to simply reset

I had been pushing away this feeling for a while – after all, to me, London was for a long time the land of advancement and opportunities. But it was also a land of expensive flats, long commutes and cold rainy days. So, following my resignation, I gave myself a fresh start altogether.

Now I’m back in the Canary Islands as a resident (first time in over 12 years!). I wake up early, eat healthy and spend a lot of time with my family. I signed up for my local gym, go for regular walks / hikes and explore new beaches. After only 6 weeks, I’m already feeling more rested and energised. It’s like being in a retreat – but instead of being in India, I’m on a tiny island in the Atlantic Ocean off the African coast.

I read all the books

Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife (Canary Islands)

If there’s one thing I’ve done consistently every single day it has been this: reading. From crime to comedy and from business to psychology research (though mainly psychological thrillers!) – Here’s a list of some of my latest reads:

The girl on the train by Paula Hawkins – ♦♦♦♦♦

I’m a sucker for psychological thrillers but must admit that this one is among the best I’ve read over the past year – I literally couldn’t put it down!

Elizabeth is missing by Emma Healey – ♦♦♦♦♦

What first attracted me to this thriller was the unconventional narrator: an 82-year old woman with dementia. I was immediately hooked with this brilliant mix of mystery and dark comedy – highly recommended.

Snow white must die by Nele Neuhaus – ♦♦♦♦

I admit that, at first, I was put off by the title. However, this book (the #4 in a mystery series) quickly caught my attention due to its suspenseful setting in a small German town that deals with gossip, power and appearances.

The good girl by Mary Kubica – ♦♦♦

Another psychological triller – this one, however, centres around the abduction of a young school teacher. Although it’s not as twisted as others mentioned above, it does contain some brilliant surprises.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion – ♦♦♦

I’m not sure what just got into me. I must have bought this book after binge-reading thrillers until I could no longer sleep at night. Granted, I’m not strong on romantic chick-lit – although I admit that this one had its charm.

I’m currently reading Boo by Neil Smith and am loving how the characters and storyline so far (very imaginative!). After Boo, I’m short on books – any good recommendations?

I applied to Business School

Sunset in Tenerife, Spain

If money was no problem, I would be a student for life – not because of the parties and student discounts (ehem), but because there’s so much out there to dive into, that the thought of sticking to only one topic/career path to specialise in and work on for the rest of my life is a wee bit overwhelming.

I had been toying with the idea of business school for about a year now – and after months of thinking, researching, deciding (then not-deciding) and finally committing to apply: I’m done. Unlike many other MBA Applicants out in the blog world, I have only applied to one school: one I believe is a perfect fit. 

There are a million +1 reasons that led me to decide for business school, but probably the main one (together with the whole learning something new part) was the realisation that an MBA would open the door to plenty of amazing opportunities and provide me with a strong network of like-minded innovative and ambitious people from all over the Globe.

Maybe it was a risky move – there’s no guarantee that this will actually materialise, but I’m staying positive. *fingers crossed*

I celebrated my birthday (with lots of wine)

Wine in La Rioja, Spain

Two weeks ago, I flew off to Bilbao to spend my birthday weekend exploring the Basque Country – a place that, despite being so close, was completely foreign to me. It made me realise how much of my own country I still need to explore (and also wonder: why is it that we always tend to favour international travel when we’ve got so much beauty right here?).

Needless to say, the Basque Country was absolutely stunning. We went on wine tastings, visited some of the region’s most notorious vineyards, took a leisure hike to a waterfall, bought lots of wine and cheese (and by now, already ate about half of it!), explored industrial and historical Bilbao and took a day trip to Portugalete and Playa la Arena. The 3.5 days felt far too short and now I’m already planning my next  trip to Northern Spain later this summer!

PS: a post about my long weekend is soon to come, but if you’re curious about this place on Earth I highly recommend you visit Christine in Spain, who avidly blogs about her life in el País Vasco. 

So, what have you been up to the last few months?

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While I work my way through the over a thousand pictures I took during my trip to Argentina and Chile, I thought it to be a good time to take a look at what 2011 brought me.

2011 was the year I learned to appreciate winter, got promoted, moved to London and traveled solo for the first time.

January

Sunset from the Empire State, New York

I kicked off last year in a steampunk themed underground party. After years of resentment, I revisited Paris and remembered what made me fall in love with the city in the first place. At the end of the month, I travelled to New York with my best friend and experienced one of the most beautiful urban sunsets from the top of the Empire State (at -17ºC, but it was totally worth it).

February

February was a busy month at work – I traveled to Amsterdam and Rotterdam, and attended a week of cocktails in London. Aside from gaining at least 2 kilos from dunking anything possible into a massive chocolate fountain, I drank champagne at London’s Natural History Museum and had dinner at the city’s oldest restaurant!

March

Edinburgh, Scotland

In March, I went on my first solo trip – a long weekend in Edinburgh. I learned that travelling solo doesn’t mean being solo all the time, as I met lots of interesting people throughout my stay (among them, Kash from Budget Traveller and Keith from Traveling Savage. Great whiskeys. Great company!

April

Tulip Festival in Morges

We had beautiful weather in April, so I spent a lot of time outdoors. I visited Morges during its yearly Tulip Festival and, over Easter, drove around Switzerland discovering the Mont Fort – a peak from which I could appreciate 3 countries (Italy, France and Switzerland).

May

Switzerland

I celebrated my 27th Birthday throwing a massive expat BBQ party at Lac Leman that went into the late hours that night. May was a perfect month in so many ways – filled with sunshine, wine and beautiful walks along the riverside.

June

Royal Ascot Horse Race

In June, I had my first taste of English culture at the Royal Ascot horse race – celebrating 300 years of this royal tradition. I quite quickly lost all the money I was ready to gamble and focussed on spotting the craziest hat and outfit!

July

Lavaux, SwitzerlandHoping to find the most appropriate way to say goodbye to Switzerland, I spent most of July revisiting my favourite corners of Lausanne and hiking through the Lavaux vineyards overlooking the lake and the Alps. I also hiked the Aletsch Glacier – which is my favourite day-hike so far!

August

Es Ram, Formentera, Balearic Islands (Spain)

In August, I had a fantastic time with 3 girlfriends in Formentera – a tiny island off Mallorca, frequented by Shakira and Giorgio Armani. We visited every beach, hired a zodiac to dive into remote coves and swim in crystalline water and celebrated every sunset with a perfect made mojito at our favourite beach water. Ah, heaven!

September & October

St Paul's Cathedral and Millennium Bridge, London

In September, I left my swiss life behind me and moved to London. Life in the city hit me hard and I was an emotional wreck – the crowds, the fog, the rain, the wind, the commute, the anonymity… I was missing Lausanne like crazy.

November

Whale Watching in Tenerife

I managed to escape London for a bit of home-therapy in November. Aside from soaking up some sunshine, I took a boat ride to watch whales along the island’s coastline.

December

Penguin in Isla Magdalena, Chile

December passed very quickly as I counted the days to go on a trip I had been dreaming of for so long – Southern Patagonia. I went hiking in Torres del Paine, visited an island inhabited by penguins, hopped on Cape Horn and watched glaciers tearing apart. There was no better way of closing this year!

What are your proudest moments of 2011?