Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Dos and Don'ts

Last year, few hours before I was due to deliver a speech at a Toastmasters Conference in Lisbon, the contest chair asked me few questions to introduce myself to the audience.  One thing she asked me was: "What are the things you like doing?"

Surprise, surprise -- I got stuck!  Yes, for a lapse of time I couldn’t list what are the things that I do like. To get away from that frozen moment, which seemed to last an eternity, I answered something -- liketo read, to travel, to dance…. whatever.

I could see in her face that she was somehow disappointed by my lack of creativity. I’m sure she thought I was a bit more interesting. And so did I.

I couldn’t get rid of that unpleasant feeling, and I started wondering why I had that reaction.

After baking it in my mind for a considerable time, I realized that it always seems much easier to say what we don’t like, don’t want, don’t care for, don’t love; than what we do like, do want, do care for, do love. Why is that?

I've heard many people say, “I don’t know what I want, but I do know what I don’t want.”

Why do we spend time making sure of our don’ts? Wouldn’t it be more productive to make sure of our dos?

I challenge you to ask yourself what you do like, and then check how long it takes you to come up with a small list of your dos. Then ask yourself what you don’t like (in this order), and check the time. You might be surprised.

The fact is, if you are absolutely clear of what you do want for yourself, for your life, for your family, then when something is presented to you, if your dos are not there, you don’t even need to bother to look at it. You don’t even need to check about the don’ts.  If the dos are not there, then it's not for you. Simple! 

As a result, you will always be looking at things, opportunities, people, through a positive prism. Won't that be more pleasant? 

Mother Theresa once said: "Don't ask me to campaign against war, ask me to campaign Pro-Peace!"

It is all about choices. Whether you look at things from a positive or negative point of view, it's always your choice...

One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree.
“Which road do I take?” she asked.
“Where do you want to go?” he asked.
“I don’t know.” She answered.
“Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.”*

*Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Caroll

Sunday, 15 April 2012


Rapunzel was one of my favourite's fairy tales. I had it in LP and used to listen to it over and over again, and to sing along with Rapunzel... "I'm 15 years old, living in this tower alone, braiding my hair and singing along, while waiting for my prince to come, rescue me, and take me home..."

I'm from a generation where too many fairy tales were told to us. There was always a poor girl, somehow under the spell of a certain witch and/or witchcraft, always waiting for a prince to rescue her.

Unfortunately, to add to her suffering, the witch (another woman) was always there to put her under stress, to take the prince away from her. Therefore, she could never be happy until the day the prince; 1) would choose her, and 2) would finally come to rescue her...

The side effect of this was, a prince expectation was really built in our brains, in our lives. And it has been a cause of a lot of misery of many women of my generation, I believe.  Even when we refused to admit it, deep down, we believed that we could only be whole, and happy, when the male figure became part of our lives.

Don't take me wrong. I love the male figure. I love to have one in my life. But, despite the fact that Rapunzel's story has first written in 1812, I have to confess that I also bumped into a lot of walls before I realised that I had to be whole myself in order to really welcome the other whole in my life
It is not about looking for your half-orange. It is about being a full orange yourself and meet another full orange, and together make a very rich and concentrated orange juice.

Back to Rapunzel's tale: she was locked in a tower, with just one window, with no way to escape. And what did she do? She sang, melancholically, while wrapping her long hair, waiting for the only "thing" that could save her, could make her happy, could give her future some meaning: a prince to come to rescue her. But, in the meantime, while the prince didn't show up, she had to cope with the visits of the witch who was there to confirm her misery, to remind her of her unlucky fate.
As all other girls from story tales, Rapunzel was always a victim.

The bad news is, there are still too many Rapunzels around.

However, there are some good news. You can always change your fate.
I truly believe so.

What about giving another meaning to Rapunzel's story...?

"Once upon a time there was a wonderful woman called Rapunzel. She was taken to a tower, with no way to escape. The door was locked from outside, and there was only one window. 
She knew, from the stories that were told to her, that she should be there singing and waiting, until the day, somehow, from somewhere, A prince would come to rescue her. 
She should be ready, and for that she should grow her hair to be long enough for the prince to climb up to her, when the so longed day would arrive.
But, this lady Rapunzel, was not like the other ones before, and instead of feeling miserable, waiting for A prince to rescue her, as her predecessors did, she took the time in the tower to learn about herself, to listen to her inner voice and, above all, to learn how to love herself deeply. 
As time passed, the more she learned about herself, more peaceful she felt, and with the realization of  how precious she was, instead of growing a long hair to help someone to reach her, to rescue her, she grew wings and through the window she flew away and set herself free..." 


Friday, 6 April 2012

Weeds and Vampires

Some of you might not know but I have an old dog. A 13 year old Golden Retriever, who is now almost blind, almost deaf, and has almost no sense of smell.

A long time ago, I read a book about dogs' behaviour and psychology, and in this book one thing that struck me was: when dogs get old, or become a hazard to their pack, they are either left to die, or killed by the pack leader. Shocking right?

Lately, when walking my dog, I’ve observed that every time another dog comes to meet him, even when from the distance the other dog comes wagging his tale (which means he is in a friendly mood), once he gets closer he attacks my old one.

This wouldn’t happen before. And I started wondering why.

I got to the conclusion, that the other dog might sense my dog’s weakness. Therefore my dog is a hazard to be eliminated.
Not fair, I thought at first. But, giving it a second thought I realised that this is typical  human misunderstanding of nature's wisdom.

Take a look at your plants. All old and dying leaves, the weeds, have to be removed in order to allow the plant to keep growing and blossoming.

Now take a look at our own lives. How many times we have experienced relationships at work, within our family and close ones, where there are some people who are like weeds and vampires. They are sucking our vital energy, our blood, and we are still feeling guilty because we know we don’t have enough for both of us.

Well, you shouldn’t. You shouldn’t allow those weeds and vampires take over you. You shouldn’t weaken yourself to give to others. It is against nature.

As for my dog, I can say he is not a burden to me. But I can fully understand why he is a hazard to his pack mattes.

Think about that and do yourself a favour: "Follow nature's wisdom and start your spring cleaning by cutting off all weeds and exorcising all vampires of your life, and start blossoming."

Happy Easter!