skiing

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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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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View of the Alps from Vevey, Vaud

Although I’m a beach person, I confess there’s something that fascinates me about mountains. They’re dramatic, uneven and somewhat mysterious. The view on the Alps and Lac Leman is the main reason for choosing the apartment I’m currently living in – I can spend hours hypnotized staring at the high peaks covered with snow during the day, and fall asleep watching the sparking lights of little french villages reflecting on the lake every night.

I’ve rarely visited the Alps. Weather had been playing against most ski and snowboard enthusiasts this winter, and, besides, it’s not an easy task to arrive there from where I live without the privileges of having a car. But last week we made an exception – skies were clear, temperatures were mild and we drove our way toward the Pennine Alps (in canton Valais).

Starting in Siviez (which belongs to Nendaz, the land of bisses), we took a chairlift and two cable cars and enjoyed watching some of the scariest ski pistes I had ever seen (not sure if they were officially “pistes”, people were probably just going off-piste).

Chairlift ride to Mont Fort

View from the Cable Car to Mont Fort

Once we reached the top of Mont Fort, with its 3,329m height, view was breathtaking – we could see some of the highest peaks in Switzerland, Italy and France!

View from the top of Mont Fort

View from the top of Mont Fort

In theory, we could have also had a glance of Mont Blanc – the highest mountain in the Alps and western Europe, rising 4,810m above sea level – but clouds were hanging below this level, hiding away the peak of the mountain.

View from the Top of Mont Fort, towards Mont Blanc

What I was most impressed about (besides for the extremely steep and uneven ski slopes) was that from one peak (Mont Fort), which does not even belong to the highest ones in Europe, I could look over to Italy, France and Switzerland. The Matterhorn is on the border between Switzerland and Italy, Grand Combin and Dent Blanche both are located in Switzerland and Mont Blanc is on the border between France and Italy.

With *only* 3,329m hight, Mont Fort already felt like the top of Europe.