Must read to write

After publishing my previous post, I kept thinking… telling people not to read is not a good message, especially for myself. Life is a contradiction, so here is my new post about a very inspiring book: LEAN IN by Sheryl Sandberg -Chief Operating Officer of Facebook.

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A good friend gave it to me on one of her visits to London. I never knew I had to read it at that time, the earlier you read it -the better. It’s about doing what you love, but really going for it, in order to have more women in leadership jobs. Either you want to be the best at work, a super Mum, a singer, travel the world, whatever else you want.

“Success is making the best choices we can … and accepting them.”

The book tells us (with plenty of statistics, research, and life experiences) how few women are in top roles because of internal obstacles, even before society places more in their way. Prejudices, opportunities, the education we receive, family decisions, all hold us back from what we want. It is a reality that men are earning more than women, men go for leadership roles more often, men are more willing to negotiate salary, men apply for jobs -even when they are not fully skilled, dads-to-be don’t think twice when applying for a job. So what is happening? Why do we women keep stopping ourselves?

I tell you my reasons. I’ve been working since I finished Uni at different advertising agencies, and when I found out I was pregnant I just had finished a contract with Expedia London. Uh oh! There is no perfect time to have a baby, but babies are the most perfect things I’ve seen.

I was more eager to get a job because of my news, so went to interviews camouflaging my belly with winter coats (I shouldn’t say this on my blog, but kids are expensive, so you need a job -it’s a fact). I started contacting people from different agencies and finally, I was very grateful when Ariadna US, an agency based in Miami, took me on board after some freelance work. I had my baby and kept working remotely, it was amazing attending KFC meetings on Skype and presenting Amex campaigns over the phone. Baby sleep time was my office opening hours. How? You just find the energy if you love it. And then a startup called me to join their team, and here I am dividing myself between motherhood and projects. Maybe I stopped myself from working in an office but haven’t slowed down.

There are two faces when you work from home, the crazy and the crazier. I can tell you a lot of stories of multitasking/working Mum moments. The first that comes to mind happened when I was listening to the annual company’s review (while I was potty training my oldest daughter).  Nobody from the meeting knew what was happening on the other end of the line and thank God for the MUTE button.

Or that time, when I spent the entire day, on my own, waiting for the team to get together to hear my presentation. They all had busy agendas and just when I picked my 2 girls from the nursery, very tired and irritable, my team sent me a text: We are ready.  So I gave my girls a couple of ice creams, sat them on a picnic blanket in the middle of the garden and started presenting my ideas from the patio (where I could see them but not hear them). I reckon when working remotely, the main skill you need is availability.

Anyway, this post is not about crazy stories whilst multitasking. Freelancing was my choice and I assumed it. It is about persuading yourself to lean in and go for it. We need a change of mindset, first from us, and them from the people surrounding us. Work-life balance when having kids, it’s not easy, nor is it impossible.

“You can’t have it all”

This is my favorite sentence from the book. CEOs are human too and Sheryl tells how difficult was for her leaving her daughter crying and asking her not to go when she had to fly to a TED Conference. True leaders are human.

There are plenty of quotes and inspiring bits, I’m not going to spoil it for you. I just had to share the fever after reading this book, and when that stops here are my top mantras:

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    1. We are the choices we make. Simple. Life will follow our decisions.
    2. We are what we are thinking about. This is so true. If I’m thinking of strategies, and awards…I’m an ad woman. If I’m thinking about my kids and places to take them… I’m a Mum. If I’m thinking of others all the time, I’m just a bored neighbour.
    3. Compare yourself to yourself. Stop scrolling Instagram (note to myself) where people seem to live the perfect life with the perfect filters. Think of yourself ‘the one you want to be’ and become that person, that will make you the happiest woman/man in the world.

Life won’t become easier but it will become more exciting. If you are not there yet, LEAN IN and good luck!

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No need to read to write

I’ve been trying to finish 3 books in order to write something about them. As you can see by my title: I failed. I keep leaving the books in different parts of the house to give them a fair chance. Downstairs is the book about love and funny stories. When I’m upstairs I read random pages of How to be mindful, and every time I take the train I read about the girl from Google. All in equal positions staring at me and screaming: READ ME.

This time I’m not going to blame the World Cup, busy life, lack of concentration, mobile addiction, etc. This time I just have to admit it: some people love reading, but I love writing.

A lot of articles suggest you must read in order to write. I’m not going to argue that reading improves your writing, widens your vocabulary, gets you inspired, keeps your brain in shape, broadens your imagination, gives you knowledge, and even cultivates the theory of mind (the ability to understand that others have beliefs, desires, feelings, and perspectives that are different from ours).

Although, if the goal is to write, then write.

Don’t fall into the trap and become part of the group of people who stare at others’ work delaying their own. I’m sure there is a masterpiece waiting to be written and if I want to be the author I’m not going to make it happen just by reading. I need to spend time with my keyboard or notepad and write, cross, edit and keep writing. As a good friend of mine said: execution.

 

Paris is not just about love

I always thought Paris was the city of love – films and perfume adverts planted that idea in my mind. However, when you travel there with a friend, it may change your view.  Instead of romantic cafes we walked to local shops and took food on the go, we didn’t go up to the Eiffel Tower – just took the classic picture with the tower in the background, we didn’t speak any French so we spent 15 minutes trying to get a ticket for the metro in English, Spanish, Italian, even a bit of Latin and miming. We didn’t get a French kiss, instead we met friends from Canada, Mexico, and the US. My suitcase lost a wheel and my friend laughed non-stop, I left my hair curly for the first time – forgetting all the style and couture. That was the Paris that we found, with lots of fun and highlights that are not advertised by tour guides.

Stories are waiting

#wheninParis

#wheninParis #wheninParis #wheninParis

Friday song

I usually have a song stuck in my head every day. A lot of times is annoying because they are dreadful. Today for a change, I’m happy with my song, All is not lost by the American band OK Go. Their music and videos are great!

I discovered today their Global gallery and created a video dance message, you can create your own here.

I also researched ‘why do songs get stuck in your head’ and there are many theories, Experts say earworms are the ones to blame, they are not actually parasites, is a way to called the phenomenon when music get lodged in your head and cause a sort of “cognitive itch” or “brain itch”; like mosquito bites, the more you scratch the more you itch. Others suggest, is simply a way to keep the brain busy when it’s idling.

a bailar

Move your ass

Yes, this blogpost is for people like you and me, that keep having a sedentary life in front of the computer.

Last weekend my friends planned a trip to the Jurassic Coast, not the park. When I heard the word ‘coast’ I immediately thought of the beach, sea, relaxing, coco-loco and sun. However my thoughts changed quickly when discussing it further  – as we were actually going there to walk. We went by car, stopped at some point and started walking for 2 days.

I take my hat off to Dorset, it is an a-m-a-z-i-n-g place. Blue sea, blue sky, white cliffs, incredible landforms documenting 180 million years of geological history including the natural arch – Durdle Door, no wonder the Jurassic Coast was named as the 5th greatest natural wonder in Britain.

We had a professional sporty friend (everybody should have one), Hugh. He’s an extraordinary guy that likes hiking, cycling, kayaking, all kind of sports and he also likes to have a pint to celebrate every time we reached the next village. Nice!

I realized Hugh has a job, has meetings, has clients, has a family, has children, has problems like everyone but he has no excuses.

If you want to do something, just go and do it. Move your ass.

Sundays

Sundays are quite tricky, they make you think that you have the entire day to do nothing, In fact it is your busiest day. People do sports, go shopping, cook, clean the house, go to the park, etc…I spent the entire day working with my friend Marcia on her new project as an entrepreneur in the world of accessories.

She showed me all the jewelery for sale and I have to confess I fell in love with most of it, specially the ones with blue bits. She told me her plan and we started putting it into action. After brainstorming, we had a big list of things to do, today we created the name, concept and brand identity ‘Marcia Squirrel’, making things happen step by step.

I’m not an a Graphic Designer but recently I have more tabs open in Photoshop than in other programs. It is interesting that my friend, a Marketing Manager showing her Commercial side, is making me, a writer, show my Art Director side.

Thanks Marcinha!
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My first love

Valentine’s day is here and all I can think about is my mum. Sorry for disappointing you if you wanted to hear some teen gossip stories but it’s the truth. Her birthday is today, on the 14th of February. So while people are thinking were to go for dinner tonight and preparing nice surprises for their loved ones, I’m just looking forward to phoning Colombia in few hours to sing Happy birthday!! Despite her complaints about me spending too much time in front of the computer, I feel like writing a post about her, actually about all mothers.

Mothers are amazing human beings, they have an incredibly developed sixth sense. They usually know everything before it happens, when you like someone, when you kiss someone, when you are going to get dumped; trust me – mums are like prophets. When they say “Don’t go” you better listen, because anything can go wrong. Or maybe it’s that we are too susceptible to the power of suggestion.

My mum

My mother is an incredible woman with an artistic soul, she studied architecture but dedicated her life to her family – although she still finds time to create oil paintings regularly. She has woken up every single morning to prepare breakfast for everyone, even when we are leaving early….really early. She taught me how to write and draw beautiful school cardboards, she is the best chef in the world, (you may be thinking your mum is, but you’re wrong) she prepares tasty seafood, soups, colorful salads, all types of rice and natural juices – from elixirs of eternal youth and healthy skin to medicines that keep colestherol in control. She tried to teach me how to cook but unfortunately I never made it to the lessons. So here I am telling you 5 reasons why you should listen your mum more.

1. She is not in advertising so will give you a real point of view.

2. She’ll keep your feet on the ground; if you ever become famous, talk to her even more often – her advice is like gravity.

3. Rather than talking about herself, she will be willing to hear about you. She doesn’t know the words selfish or ego.

4. If you listen, she wont have a chance to say the ugly sentence “I told you so”.

5. You love her, full stop.

By the way, if you want to say happy birthday to my mum, feel free to leave a comment. Her name is Ludys, not Louis, no Luis, it’s Ludys, with d.

Finding a hobby will find you a job

My 2013 resolutions have led me to read some articles about decision making, time management, career progression and other self-help advice that I thought only worked for Bridget Jones. I read that employers are more interested in what you do in your spare time than in your 9 to 5 routine. That means they look for people with a hobby.

I’ve been thinking what is my hobby? And honestly, I don’t feel attached to partaking in some activity religiously every weekend, apart from doing something new. My volleyball training, candle making and guitar lessons never went further than a couple of months. And socializing, photography and Internet don’t count as became everyday and everyone’s activities. I find it difficult to summarize all the things that I enjoy in a word, unless you say “life”. Hopefully writing a post about it could help me to find one.

Let’s start thinking about other people’s hobbies, that may bring something to mind. My friend Dairo Vargas, when I first I met him he was an Art Director. Advertising was his job and painting was his hobby; 8 years later painting is now his main income. Every three months he prepares an exhibition in London and 50% of its revenue goes to children in his hometown of Huila, Colombia, to a school called “La Escalereta”. He is an incredible human being indeed; my mother says he deserves to go to heaven [of course not yet]. Have a look at his talented work here.

Oil on Canvas, Dairo Vargas.

The moral is…if you feel passionate about something, that must be your main activity, because you will be great at it. You will enjoy spending hours and hours doing it and at the end it will be worth it.

From another perspective, what you do is not as important as what you do for others. That is even more satisfying. If employers are interested in your personal activities, try to do something that benefits others.

Just like you did a week ago, December was all about others, not us. Sharing was trendy at Christmas, we thought of others, we bought gifts, we cared about spending time together. Although, we should do it more often. Imagine what we could achieve if we all start changing the world in our spare time.

Come on Hobbyists! Join me, let’s find a hobby that benefits others rather than just you. If you find one quicker share it with #hobby2013

Escribir sin pensar

Siempre he pensado que uno tiene que pensar antes de hablar pero no antes de escribir. Los mejores escritos salen sin filtro, no tienen razón, no tienen 10 revisiones de texto, ni buscan los temas del momento; no les importa alcanzar la fama, convertirse en un Best Seller o quedar olvidados en una mesa de San Victorino. Los buenos escritos nacen para ser leídos, para contar historias, no entienden de aplausos ni de críticas, no andan esperando un SI y no se desaniman con un NO, simplemente salen del corazón o del cerebro, y  lo mejor, hay para todos los gustos, desde cursis hasta sabiondos.

Este por ejemplo, nace en el día del Blogger Multilingual. Hoy cada Blogger escribe en un lenguage diferente, yo quise hacerle honor a mi idioma Español. Aquel que me enseño la m con la a, seguido de la m con la a, aquel que todos recuerdan con “Nacho lee” aunque a mí nunca me tocó; ese que se desfigura en las calles, con apodos y con el tiempo; y que los extranjeros resumen en tres o cuatro frases “Hola Señorita”, “Cerveza”, “Un, dos, tres, catorce” y “Salud”.

Faltando 10 min. para acabarse el día me pregunto….Cómo se dice Blogger en español? Mmm… creo que esto sólo pasa cuando uno escribe sin pensar.

Linguistic flag of the Spanish language without prehispanic symbols.