It took time & effort (I still have work to do and I always will) but right now I am able to say that I love myself over anything or anyone else in this world.
I love not only the physical aspects of myself but also, and most importantly, the inner ones. For instance:
♥ I used to hate my belly so deeply and for so long! It was always there in the middle, ruining every tight dress or coming out of the sexiest bikinis. Now, however, I enjoy my little belly and I rest my hands on it in the evenings when I go to sleep, sending it all my love and gratitude for being there supporting me, right in the middle, giving me balance.
♥ Another example: I used to think I was shy & useless when mixing with people, unable to stand up & talk for myself. Now I realise that I have a great capacity to be quiet, listening, looking, doing nothing, just being. It becomes truly useful with my job and also when meeting new people, so I can always offer a quality active listening. And on top of that, I love doing it!
There is too much going on around us these days, too much to do, too many things happening at once. I felt I was getting lost. My true being was going missing within all the lights, colours, trends & social regulations. I seemed to spend my life seeking something, looking to fill up some spaces, making myself complete, occupied, busy, entertained, engaged, loved…
Enough of all that, now! I need to create some distance so I can get away from all that noise in order to hear & see my true self, and if I’ve learnt anything about what that means and how it feels, I’ve done it through yoga first and then thanks to meditation.
I began my yoga practice in 2003. I joined a huge fancy gym and started attending yoga and taichi classes with excitement. Taichi did not bring much to me but yoga was different. At first it only felt like a very different way to exercise: in silence instead of having loud music around, and not competing with anyone but with myself, trying to push my boundaries a little bit further with each pose, for another few more seconds.
It was a mental combat with my own mind. She was saying: ‘that’s it, enough now, it is too painful, plus you are not a flexible person anyway, you are going to break it!’. I was saying: ‘I can do it, I want to do it, I am going to do it. I am in charge of my own body, not my body in charge of me. If other people can do it and we are all made of the same tissue & bones, then I can do it too’. The feeling afterwards was great: I was light, almost like a feather, nothing was hurting or pulling, there was no pressure anywhere in my body, my mind was still & peaceful and I could sleep incredibly well the evenings after my practice. I am not surprised that yoga is actually the exercise that Masters of meditation do before sitting for hours of deep practice.
Through these years I've been lucky enough to have 4 different yoga teachers & I've shared my time with classmates of all ages & nationalities. I’ve done my yoga indoor & outdoor, in the morning & in the evening, in English & in Spanish, with natural & with artificial light, with music in the background & in silence. But what I’ve always felt was the beauty of being there, present, with myself, enjoying my practice & its evolution within my body, thanking & loving every cell for doing its job, helping me to go further in order to feel better & be better.
When practising yoga, meditation is something that might come naturally at some point, if the person is ready for it. Meditation is that space that I give to myself as a precious gift. I sit comfortably on my cushion, with the right clothes (depending on the season) and the right light, in & with my 3 ‘S’: silence, stillness & solitude. It is all about enjoying time with the person that I’ve learnt to love the most in this world. ME!!!
Sitting on my cushion, allowing myself to be as I am right at that moment, unfolding my fears & certainties, just breathing. There is nothing else to do, nowhere to go. It is just me with myself there, focusing on my breathing first, making it deeper & abdominal, following the path that the air follows through my body, amazing myself with the perfection & wisdom of this machine that my body is.
Then other thoughts will start to visit me, of course: ‘What am I going to cook for dinner tonight? I must send that article to this client, he will love it. When did I speak last to my Mum? I had better ring her later anyway. Gosh, that dog is noisy... Off he goes with the barking again… Maybe I should go back to salsa lessons… Am I breathing? Ups, I lost it again…’ That’s how it goes always, every time. And after thoughts, feelings come into stage too: ‘I am so cold! I am shivering! My head is beating; I cannot concentrate with this headache. How can I be so useless? Here I am, unable to focus on something so simple... What am I going to do with myself? I feel anxious right now and angry with myself, and that anger is warming me up actually which is good but…, no, my feet are still freezing. Damn it! I am off again…’.
My mind never stops, always wanting to be listened to, to be the shining star. I let the thoughts and the feelings in, embracing them at first with love & compassion, then letting them go. I smile from the inside showing gratitude to my mind & my body for being so capable to file all these thoughts & feelings that design my daily life & make me human. But it is not time for planning dinners or agendas. It is time to simply be there: still, silent, on my own. ‘But what’s the point? What are you getting out of this? Come on! There is so much to do and you are sitting there, doing nothing other than breathing! I want you to do real productive things! ’ That was my mind talking again, by the way. She thinks she knows best but she doesn’t. I do. I deserve this space. I want it for me. That's it.
I read somewhere that when that moment of confusion comes, it is when I am entering into the path of awakening. And it makes sense, because when those moments arise, all of a sudden I am so right there, open to my own awareness, sensing what existence is really about through my breathing and the incredible beauty & knowledge that I treasure.
I need that space. I choose to spend time on my own, in my own company. This is where I find my answers. I decide not to fill myself up with outside things or people anymore. There isn't anybody or anything other than me that can fill my emptiness, if there is such a thing. Searching for distractions is only a way to escape. Looking within with the ears & the eyes of my soul is the route for me to find the peace of mind I long for. Of course I love people: my perfect partner in love, my great family, my wonderful friends, my amazing clients… I love things too: my books, my terrace, my photographs & clothes, the sea, the trees. But I don’t need anyone or anything to be me and that’s where the beauty lies. I want all these people and things to be part of my life but I come first, I don’t need them to be & they don’t need me either. They don’t have my solutions and I don’t tie them to any sort of expectations. Now is all about freedom, individual responsibility & personal choice.
Some might not understand it sometimes and it is ok like that. Some things cannot be explained. They must be experienced & felt. I guess this is one of them. As long as I am in charge of my own life everything will be fine.
P.S.: Thanks to my dear friend Fer for his Cambodian Buddha pic.
Some people avoid or reject the term ‘spirituality’. I wonder if the reason is that they connect it with some kind of religious perspective unsuitable for them or maybe because they don’t see themselves as spiritual beings at all. It is true as well that not all of us build up our reality with the same concepts. For example: my Grandma knows nothing about Twitter, sushi, boarding passes, yoga, indie music or original version films. These realities are not part of her world and probably never will be (unless I force her into it, which is totally pointless anyway). So, maybe some people feel that the spiritual side of life has nothing to do with them. Fair enough.
What is the spirit at the end of the day? I think that, within those who use the term, we all have our own definition. To me the spirit has to do with the genuine being, the authentic person behind & underneath all the layouts. The spirit is related to the soul, the deep expression of someone’s personality and energy, an aura of vibrations that communicates essential information about that person. We might see it as something weird or paranormal but we can all feel it, whether we like to admit it or not.
So let’s accept, at least during the time that it will take you to read this post, that the spirit exists, that our spiritual being is something real even within its invisibility. Taking that into account and according to Indian sources, spirituality is based on 4 main laws (for those interested in Indian culture follow Arise India Forum):
1- ‘The person who arrives in our life is always the correct one’.
Which means that there is no such thing as coincidence and every person that enters our life comes for a reason, to teach us something that is relevant to our experience & development. There is another thought connected to this one that says something like this: ‘people come to our life for a reason, for a season or for a life time’. Even if they stay for a short period of time there is a point for that presence and we must honour & embrace the learning brought up by that person into our life.
2- ‘Whatever happens to us is the only thing that could have happened’.
There is no room for thoughts such as: ‘if I hadn’t picked up that phone call I would have left 10 minutes earlier and as a consequence I would never have been involved in that car accident’. Every single thing that happens to us is meant to happen that way. Some might call this ‘destiny’ and many can be very much against this term (history repeating) but according to this law the character played by Gwyneth Paltrow in Sliding doors did not have a choice either, even if her mind refused to accept it.
3- ‘Every moment in our life happens only when it has to happen’.
Not before or after but only when we are prepared. So when we say that something is taking too long, that we are slow or we are not getting the results we were expecting by then, we are very much avoiding this law. Everything is perfect the way it is and it is not supposed to happen any other way (this makes me think about two conversations I had recently with two dear friends & colleagues. Mr Nutini, just let it be, my friend, all is well as it is; @logropersonal, well done with all your progressions, you are getting there at your pace, which is the right way for you).
4- ‘When something has to end, it just ends’.
The thing that finishes is letting space, room and energy to something new, and our role here is to learn how to let go in order to allow new things coming in. The Buddhist ‘non-attachment’ leads into individual freedom & peace of mind because most of the times it is not in our hands to control when things come to an end. Dalai Lama states that “attachment is the origin, the root of suffering; hence it is the cause of suffering.” It is just a matter of acceptance instead of fighting, flowing instead of reacting to life’s movements. Nothing lasts forever. Everything is exposed to changes all the time.
These 4 laws make total sense to me & apply to my life and experiences in every single example that I choose to analyse. It doesn’t matter about religions really because true spirituality can be Christian, Buddhist, Muslim or atheist. I can see & feel a genuine spirit, or a fake one, behind any of those labels. Jesus Christ and Buddha share the same true spirit. We can get together & live as one. All is well. Just live and let it be.
When I was a child I dreamt of becoming a writer, a teacher or/and an artist like Madonna (and it had to be Madonna and no one else, because to me she was at the top of the podium. She could sing, dance, set up trends, surprise audiences, move masses, connect, be passionate and enjoy her job always. That’s how I used to see her & I still admire her and follow her today).
There were no limits to my dreams. I could write amazing stories about creative & brave kids getting involved in all sort of fabulous adventures, and other kids & youngsters all over the world could read my books and get hooked like I used to with the books I was reading at the time. Becoming a teacher was a more earthly choice, moved as I was by the loving & devoted examples (not many, I must say, but at least two) I found at playground & school.
Then I grew up and I could sense that awful feeling, I am sure you know it too: I couldn’t become any of those things really. They were unreachable, miles away, available only in far away kingdoms that I could not even visit, approachable to very talented people only who were already focused from their young ages. I wasted too much time, it was too late for me and it was too difficult. Impossible.
Unless I become a teacher... That I could do. I could teach my favourite subject (literature) to young people. I could share with them my enthusiasm about poetry, metaphors & language as a communication tool. I kept growing & with time I got to understand how the system worked & what I needed to do get a job as a teacher. I didn’t like it at all and it was too late to copy Madonna, plus there is only one like her so, what was the point? What could I do? Become a writer? What a stupid idea! Who would wish to publish a book written by me in the first place, and even more important, who would want to buy it and read it afterwards?
Ups... I was in trouble. What could I do with my life? How could I find a way out? Time was ticking & I was lost.
The day I realised I could do anything really to make a living was a relief. I was reasonably clever, I had a degree, I could speak (not too well at the time) a second language and the world was wider than my city, my region, my country. I could travel & find a job doing anything. And that is when I lost my compass.
I can do anything, or nearly anything, but do I want to? Because when looking back now I realised that by following other compasses instead of mine I left my purpose behind. What happened to those childhood dreams? How did they move from being glittered dreams to stupid ideas? How come, when they used to make me feel so fine and full of life when I was little? Nothing to do with how I felt then. But of course, that ‘now’ was the ‘real world’. What was childhood then? A lie?
I’ve worked for others quite a few times. I have had different jobs performing various roles. Sometimes I enjoyed it, others I hated, deeply. I met some amazing professionals & also people that were worthless. I’ve learnt loads from all of them but I must admit that my only purpose then was to make a living, to earn the money, to pay the bills and get myself new books, clothes, plane tickets & dinners out. All that was good until it stopped being good and became not enough anymore. Nobody taught me how valuable & satisfying it is to live with purpose. I never learnt about my talents, how to develop or follow them.
That feeling didn’t come all of a sudden. It is fair to say that it was there all the time, from the very beginning. There was always something deep inside me pointing at the dark side, telling me: ‘what’s the point of all this? What difference do I make in the world by carrying on doing this? How valuable is this job that I am doing?’ However, I chose not to find those answers & decided to bury them deep. At the end of the day how could I be so ungrateful? I was twenty-something & healthy; I was lucky enough to have access to a great education; I managed to find a good job in a good company earning some good money that allowed me to have a good living. What was the problem? What was wrong with me?
The charade didn’t last very long. The odd feeling was growing bigger & wider inside me. It didn’t matter anymore what other people could think. I was not feeling right and everything pointed to the same direction so I had to redefine the route and start from scratch nearly all over again.
I am very proud to say that I am a professional coach now (thanks not only to my efforts and commitment but also to the support of my beloved family & their unconditional love; the trust received from all my wonderful & very special friends; and of course, the encouragement & constant faith in me from my beautiful partner, who has always been right there believing in me, backing up every new idea, every project. I love you all so much! I couldn’t do it without you).
Have you ever felt that annoying call coming from your guts, from the deepest corner of your heart? Do you listen to it? Do you honour it? Do you have a compass? Do you follow it?
When we fail to acknowledge any of the signs and keep reaching for the wrong goals, other areas in our lives start loosing shape and brightness. Things start to fail. Then we focus on the symptom & go for a quick fix without realising that the issue goes deeper, down in the roots. That’s where we have to go, not fix it but to nourish it and give it attention & care.
If we listen carefully enough, deeply enough, with patience and giving it time, we will know what to do, how to do it. Just like we knew when we were kids. Kids know because they are not corrupted with rational ideas & practical schemes. They just feel & let themselves go with their feelings.
Finding your purpose will make you happier because you will find a genuine reason to be here. That goal will drive your steps and every choice will take you closer to your dreams, which already is as good as living them.
Allow me to suggest an exercise, and give it a try, please: give yourself a few minutes & stand in front of a mirror. Move your hand ahead as if you were going to take something from that image of you in the mirror. As expected, the image does the same and tries to take something away from you. That’s how we experience lack in our life, because we keep taking things away from ourselves and from others. Now, instead of taking, give something to that reflection in the mirror: an object, a kiss, a smile… Whatever it might be. Of course, your reflection also has a present back for you. Isn’t it simple & great at the same time?
I found out this powerful metaphor in a marvellous book-process that will be part of my life journey forever (thanks to Mar, my yoga teacher over the last 3 years, for sharing such an incredible gift with us). Why am I taking things away from me instead of giving them? ‘Giving unconditionally is receiving’, the author says in his book.
Today I am a teacher somehow, as I share with people my experiences & the little I know. I am a writer already: I wrote this that you are reading (in two languages as well!) and there is much more to come! I don’t want to be a pop star anymore but I do wish to gather the passion & enthusiasm that Madonna brings into her fans so I can connect with my very own audience. I even started to sing more (and my gorgeous boyfriend loves it, so that’s all I need) and the dancing lessons are first on my list of investments for my short term future. All I want will come. It is just a matter of time. I just have to live on purpose, following my compass. I will make it happen, you will see. Keep an eye on me. I’ll show you ;-)
(P.S.: That orange stone heart on the picture is a love anchorage for me. My very dear friends Rocío & Manolo gave it to us as a gift the day of their wedding. Beautiful!
To finish this post one last thing: I used to, and still do, love Michael Jackson as much as Madonna, and his ‘Man in the mirror’ is an anthem for me. Enjoy it and let your feelings flow).
We are not isolated creatures playing a separate role. Everything that each of us does or says has an impact and affects the others around, whether they are human beings, animals, plants or even objects.
If we talk about living beings in general there is no gap between us, no separation whatsoever. We are linked, united, sharing this current moment right here, right now. If we just refer to human beings, it doesn’t matter how much effort many of us dedicate to convince the rest that we are all different, belonging to different races, continents, countries or religions. We are just the same thing, the same energy in motion, formed by the same type of cells. Our skin is always flexible & our blood looks dark red. We need the water & the air to exist. We all have a purpose in life and follow a path to fulfil it. We strive for better opportunities & hold feelings deep inside that drive us in one direction or another.
We are one. And because of that I can feel empathy & enjoy your success or beauty, whether your skin is black, yellow or white. If you suffer in Japan I can feel your struggling. If you laugh with joy in New Zealand I can smile with you too. If you sing an old traditional song from your homeland & play instruments that I’ve never seen or heard before, I can still feel the rhythm pounding inside of me. If you speak in a language that sounds foreign to me, I could be able to understand if you are annoyed, frustrated or overwhelmed by happiness.
Within this oneness we are simply pieces of the same puzzle. All of them are necessary to create the whole picture. So I rely on you & you can also rely on me. I do my bit trusting that you will do yours so this whole mechanism keeps rolling, fulfilling its purpose.
Sometimes I will need help because I cannot do everything by myself. Then I will come to you looking for knowledge, support, strength, supervision or advice. Through that help that you provide me with, our link becomes stronger, just as we do too. Living is a constant feeding process, so, the more I give, the better I become. The more you share with me, the better you help me become. With each one of your helping actions I get wiser, stronger, cleverer, or more patient. After every time I give you my help you turn into someone more able too. We are perfect as we are, all complete. But when joined together we are simply elevating ourselves higher, growing into superior beings.
That’s why I look for a partner with great qualities who makes me see life from a wider perspective. That’s the reason to embrace friendships that bring in brighter colours & ideas or to work for a boss with a giant vision who can take mine miles away from my sight.
I love & admire all these people for many different reasons. My life was ok without them but since I met them I want them around whatever happens. I will not relinquish their presence & wonderful gifts but at the same time I strive to do my best so I can pay it forward. I want to be great for them just as they are the best for me. I look after them, I am around, present. I think of them always & let them know I am here for them. And our chain grows longer & stronger every single day.
I could not be me without all these beautiful souls. I feel blessed for having them around. Some of them are physically very close while others are miles away. I meet some of them quite often & it might take years to see others. There are some very famous ones and it will be nearly impossible to meet them at all, but they still inspire me or help me with their words, music or looks. Some are not alive anymore, however they are not gone & their spirit & drive still stand up straight as a firm lighthouse for me.
How could I possibly feel lonely ever when I am lucky enough to have all that beauty around me? How on earth can I be anything but the best version of me to pay back all the joy they provide me with on a daily basis? Well, I confess, that’s my trick: whenever I feel down I don’t let myself stay absorbed for too long by that feeling. I give it its space but afterwards I think about my people, my treasure, and I stand up tall again to honour the amazing gift they offer me every single minute of their lives.
‘Things that are not said are usually the most important’, says one of Isabel Coixet’s characters in her film Things I never told you.
It is really sad to think that we keep for ourselves those feelings or thoughts that truly mean the world to us just because we might let ourselves be driven by fears, then maybe lack of confidence, embarrassment, pride…
The things that are not said then become shadows that can grow darker inside and slowly begin taking over, until one day we might realise that the unsaid took place and became the host within ourselves.
A very dear friend & colleague that I love & admire once told meabout a very powerful tool called ‘letters of anger’. They become useful when we have a ‘ghost’ or fear, something or someone that makes our life hard, difficult or painful somehow, something that you cannot manage in the way you would like to. It could be an illness; a very difficult subject or exam that seems impossible to pass; a work colleague who makes things very tough for you; an apology that you could not express or that you deserved to receive but was not delivered; a relationship that finished and you never got to tell your truth...
The exercise is very simple: you write a letter to that person/illness/subject, your recipient, expressing through your writing all your feelings and ideas, releasing all that stuck energy that you were carrying around. Finally you close the ritual by burning those letters so the fire acts as a purifying element for those angry & frustrated feelings, disintegrating them forever within its flames (Pilar, my friend, I’ve shortened the ending to get to the point here).
I’ve not tried this tool myself but I can see the point of it. However, I can think of an exercise running parallel to this one but in the opposite direction: instead (or on top) of a letter of anger we can also write a ‘gratitude letter’. The purpose of this letter is to release & let go positive ‘luggage’ this time, and even make the recipient feel good about it. You can maybe explain how this person/thing makes a difference in your life, or what things you admire about them, or why you are so thankful to this person or thing, what their greatest qualities are or what makes you feel proud of them, for example.
The list can go on forever as the whole idea is to express how you love and appreciate them and how your life is better because they are or were in it.
You can write this type of letter at any time or for a special occasion (birthday, anniversary, recovery…). You can choose to keep it for yourself and you will benefit from the positive effect that it will have on you for sure. But if your gratitude letter is dedicated to a person you can also deliver it and enjoy not just your own satisfaction but also the huge positive impact on the recipient, especially if your letter comes at a time when this person needs it the most.
We should always say & share those very important things, even if we do it afterwards, maybe when we think it is already too late. It is never too late to get rid of a burden or to share the energy of a beautiful feeling. Who knows? You might end up writing a wonderful song or poem that will inspire and move people forever. It is worth trying, don’t you think so?
Just think about it carefully. There is no need whatsoever to hurt anyone in any way, shape or form. Being kind is the most important thing for human beings. And it is free!! Whether I am making a claim, setting up an official complaint, arguing about something, expressing my opinion against other people's, training someone on a new subject or defending an idea, I can always choose kindness over any other attitude such as arrogance, anger, annoyance, harshness or pride.
I find it difficult to understand how some people still feel that being rough, harsh or hard on others will take them further or make them more efficient. How come? The end doesn’t justify the means, ever.
Have you ever felt pushed, unfairly treated, ashamed by another person’s words or hurt because of the way someone talked to you or about you? How could they possibly help you by doing that? Have you actually done it to someone? What feelings did you have afterwards?
I used to be quite impatient & pretty harsh with some people in the past and when I think about it now I realise that after showing that sort of behaviour I was left with a sense of pride, maybe because I made my point or won the case, but also I could always sense a bitter taste deep inside me. On top of my own perceptions there were the other person’s feelings as well, which sometimes I didn’t consider but when I did I used to ask myself: ‘Was it worth it? Could I have done it in a nicer way?’
Today I know that it is only through soft touch, gentleness, love, care & dedication that the most beautiful flowers glow in all their glory. You can ask the constant gardener for his advice. Then you can give it a try yourself: act with kindness and check out your own feelings. Then pay attention to the people involved and to their feelings too.
I worked with someone once who taught me loads about people. Unfortunately the learning was not in a constructive way but through stress & anxiety. This person told me at some point that we were there to be feared and as a consequence, respected. For me, respect hasn’t ever been a consequence of fear but a fruit of tolerance & love. I am not in this world to be feared by anything or anyone. My aim is to be loved and to give love away. Some people say they do too but they don’t really know what that means. They react to things, attack with sharp words, and listen to others from their brains instead of from their hearts & souls.
I am just saying let's be kind and then harvest the fruit. It will be much more juicier & definitely sweeter!
At some point in 2006, when the pain & the fear were sharp & deep, I felt an urgent urge to have photographs around me of myself from childhood. Images of that other me being happy, laughing around, playing, enjoying life. So I got some old pics from my parents’ albums, made copies, bought some photo frames and placed them with care in my bedroom & living room.
In one of them I am there in a close-up, my 4 year old face, so close to the lens that the image looks slightly blurred, showing such a big bright smile! I placed that photo right on my bedside table so I could see it when going to sleep, in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep at all and first thing in the morning when waking up. Looking at that little girl, focusing on that wide & open smile I could feel relieved & I also could ease the pain inside. I could not recognize myself in those eyes, face or smile. I felt so far away from her!! Miles away from that joy of living… But I kept telling myself: ‘I am that girl therefore she is within me. If I once felt that joyful & happy then I can recover those feelings, I can be joyful & happy again. I just need to cling to her. She is my hope & my life ring. I will get out of here with her help’.
All that happened naturally, through spontaneous insights & truthful conversations I was having with myself.
To complement the photos I also started to connect with her in other ways. I dedicated time & attention to recover memories & mementos of those times, remembering what she used to enjoy doing, what she was excited about, what feelings were moving her. I rescued her old collection of Gloria Fuertes’ books and looked through those surreal poems & lively illustrations, feeling her feelings of free fantasies & dreams.
I bathed near the shore, walking with my hands on the sand, building castles, spending time on the beach where she used to have so much fun. I felt like playing more so I dug out my bicycle & I also remembered that hula-hoop that she could keep spinning for minutes & got myself a big yellow one. I put her little gold earrings on & bought some fun hair bands to wear. I stared more at the flowers, the plants, the trees & the animals. I began to talk to them, admiring their colours & shapes, wishing them a great day. I started to look at babies & children with different eyes, recognising myself in them. It was amazing to see how they smiled at me, giving me funny faces. We were communicating! It was so magical & so true!
It was easy talking to her, asking what to do, which way to go. My girl always seemed to have the right answers, and when she didn’t, she always offered a wide range of options to choose between, so the answers to my questions where always laying somewhere within that palette of possibilities she showed me.
She cried when she had to without feeling ashamed. She hugged & kissed, jumped & sang. She sensed who wasn’t her type & moved away from those darker energies. She dressed up for fun & did silly things just for the sake of it. She used to love reading, writing, drawing, dancing & singing, swimming & riding her bicycle around in all sorts of adventures.
Slowly but surely that 4 year old helped me coming out of the darkness into a colourful world. Not that I left all the responsibility on her but it is fair to say that she did most of the job. She truly did so much for me in those difficult times!
Afterwards I’ve read & heard in many places statements such as ‘the solutions are within you; the potential is in you…’ Now I know that it is so true! I have the solutions; I know the why & the how. I just need to be connected with my inner self, with the child that I was and that I still am. She never left. She is always here, with me, she is not going anywhere anymore and I am not going to neglect her but care for her, love her deeply, listen to her, always taking her into account. She is my compass now, she knows and I truly believe that she is pointing in the right direction. Compasses always do, don’t they?
She used to perform ‘Bewitched’ at every party, standing up right next to the piano, holding always the eternal Champaign glass in one hand and her delicate golden pipe in the other. She didn’t have Ella’s sweet swing or Lauren Bacall’s elegant spell but she was beautiful and still so young… She could have learnt so much, given so much, felt so much more… However, she was so selfish every minute and she loved herself so very little! She chose to get lost and like that she lost everything she could ever be.
Hers was not the best journey but touching the ground is a relief after being drawn by the in darkness for so long. Only then she realised that she couldn’t go any deeper or harm herself anymore. The only way was up but she couldn’t take any exit. Pain lasted forever. Fear only a second.
From there she went to transit, wandering around again in the middle of a gray and unknown wet silent mist. She was on her own, looking for other paths, other places, hoping to find something better at the next destination, wherever it might be.
And at some point, in the middle of that limbo, the hope becomes certainty all of the sudden and she can see the end of the path clearly knowing that there, waiting for her, is the peace she is longing for.
Only then, when tasting that certainty, they greet her smiling with their deep almond-shaped eyes, wrapped in saffron and light with naked and wide open cinnamon arms, brimming with love and immense kindness, transcendent and pounding.
They embrace her, they tell her that all is fine the way it is, that there is a reason for everything, that she knows the way and only needs to follow her heart, the same heart that leaded her to her home, the place where she belongs. She is safe now. She made it. There is no music or noise, neither pearls nor laces. Here there is only a harmonious & great silence that covers everything, still leaving space for every single thing. She is sure about it now: this is home.
She cries overcome by emotion with tears of happiness because she finally gets to feel peace. There are no more doubts, no fear or pain. Just another chance, a new path to discover and those smiles guiding her forever…
As we are in the middle of the Olympics, I keep thinking these days about human beings’ infinite ability to overcome themselves, to improve, to reach even further every time.
It is a fact that behind elite sports there is manipulation, doping, money, big investments and vested interests in certain countries. However that’s not the view I am interested in. What really moves me is the willpower that many people have to work, no matter what for a goal, engaging their mind, body and emotion in it, ready to pay whatever price it takes. That price means sacrifices, including emotional ones. They have to be away from their homes quite a lot, separated from family and friends, working truly hard and long hours every day from their early ages, being present & focused at all times in order to achieve their highest performance.
Living at that level of dedication is hard work. I find fascinating that most of these sports people talk about their sacrifices with pride & joy because they feel they’ve been given the opportunity to do what they love the most. They can get up every day feeling enthusiastic about the work that is waiting for them, a job that completely fulfills them, and their final reward will be the next competition, a new chance to better themselves, willing to get there a second sooner or a centimetre further. That’s genuine commitment.
The coaches also better themselves by planning success strategies that bring out all the potential of these sports people. The engineers work on the design, the materials and the performance of a new type of swimming suit, ball, racquet or trainers. The endocrinologists, dieticians and chefs suggest the best menus & diets for each champion. All of them are working behind the ones who will be wearing the medals afterwards (Redes magazine dedicated an interesting article to all these in its nº 28 issue, in Spanish).
At the end of the chain we find the visible link who lets himself be guided, investing effort & dedication, hours of training & enthusiasm, competing and showing his face in the name of all the ones who are working in the background. He becomes the banner of many others, representing his team and also a whole country.
And there we are sitting in our armchairs at home, identifying ourselves with those fighters. We admire them and support them. We cheer for their victories and suffer their defeats. We cry with them when they are listening to their national anthem at the podium or when they have to give up due to an injury after all the effort… We feel proud of their achievements and share their sorrow. We even feel champions as well because maybe we’ve been faithful supporters for so long, because we are compatriots or because we feel close to them for whatever reason.
We are not elite sports people but we do know what effort is and we do work to better ourselves everyday, setting new goals and moving forward. We’ve also won many times and on other occasions things didn’t work out the way we planned. Failure is always there, like a shadow, but satisfaction prevails most of the time. It is always worth it to face a challenge and to go for it. Being part of something so great feels wonderful. How could anyone not be proud of participating in an Olympics even if they go back home without a medal on! Just being there is already an award. It means that you’ve been one of the best, that you’ve worked hard and that work took you to the place where only a few can be. Winning is wonderful but enjoying the journey is even better. Loving your job and giving yourself to it, taking notice & listening to those who are there to help you & support you, having the opportunity to be better every day and resting every night feeling satisfied for that job well done, knowing that there is more of the same to come tomorrow… That’s something that money cannot buy!
I have a very dear friend. We’ve been friends since we were born (well, actually since I was born, as she came to this world 23 days before me). We were around 20 at the time and, without giving any further details about the situation, all of a sudden my friend shouted: “WE ARE CHAMPIONS!”, meaning we could achieve anything we wanted if we were really going for it and believing that we could get it. She was so right! Over the years we've always used that motivational slogan every time we were facing new challenges or generating new goals: “Just remember that you are a champion!”. Saying those magic words out loud would lead us to laughter and that into cheering each other: “Of course, I can do it!”. It was a proper anchorage, no doubts about it. We were so wise! That’s how we've achieved many of the things we went for (by the way, my friend was a champion that night, of course).
Quite often we don’t put on all the medals that we deserve. We don’t remember the achievements we’ve reached. We don’t congratulate ourselves for all the knowledge we gained from our defeats. Are you aware of all the things you’ve done? Do you realise how much you’ve learnt and how much you’ve grown? We are champions and many of us don’t even know it!
I would like to congratulate myself today and congratulate you too. WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS, so very well done!
I thought I saw you so many times… Walking on the street, at the supermarket, driving, on the beach, ordering a drink at the bar, queuing at the bank desk, wearing a suit & tie, swimming trunks, t-shirt & shorts… But it was not you. They were only people who looked like you and not even that sometimes. Quite often it was only my unconscious imagination looking for you in every face because I needed to see you in three dimensions and moving around. My heart was beating really fast for a split second, my pupils were faltering and all my senses sharpened in order to freeze that moment and to freeze you in it. Then it felt like floating in the mists of time & space. The world’s noises disappeared and it was only you and me there. But the bubble exploded so fast! A car horn, a child shouting, some music around and the magic spell wrecked just like that. So disheartening… My stomach then writhed in a huge knot and I only wanted to get home to find you there, even if it was only in two dimensions.
You came to see me a few times afterwards and my surprise was even bigger then, the fright was deeper and I felt scared. It was fear for seeing you looking so real and even after wishing it so badly so many times before. During your visits you always looked happy, healthy, smiling, showing a beautiful tan, dress in black or wearing that military green t-shirt that I used to like so much. Once I handled the fear I was feeling so happy to see you and I kept asking you questions while crying and staring at you. You smiled and answered all my queries always, even with silences. I could understand everything. There was no room for blame but only for doubts and help petitions that you were dealing with so generously. That’s why I wanted to see you more often, because those encounters were helping me so much! I wanted to choose when to meet again, make an arrangement somehow but I didn’t know how to do it, where could I find you, what to do to make it happen. So I could only wait for you to surprise me again. It was also very painful anyway when you vanished. It was only emptiness left then, the illusion of a transient and non-sufficient moment and loneliness again until who knew when… And then grief and anguish settled free on my chest.
Time passes by and we keep changing on the way. I hardly see you now and you don’t come here anymore. I think of you a lot, nearly every day and I do know that you think of me too. We are both better than ever and very possibly everything that happened was supposed to happen that way so we could reach this point today. I know now that I could not make it this far without you, without you leaving. I also know that you had another path to follow which was actually far from my own. But what a bliss to meet each other during that time! We learnt so much and we gave so many things to each other! I would never be able to thank Life enough for all that.
This month you would turn 44. It is going to be 6 years now since you left. And, by the way, that military green t-shirt of yours that I used to like so much is still wandering around the drawers :)