.: Sunlight and brownies :.

Today was planning to go out for a walk but after baking brownies in the kitchen, I’m feeling a bit tired. Probably the heat doesn’t help either (30 degrees in the living room!)
So instead of going out now, just decided to detox in the room.
I’m actually struggling to find a position where I can actually held my notebook and write while the music is playing in the room and you are moving inside me. It smells brownies all over the house, such a delicious dark chocolate smell.
It would be quite tempting to go back to my computer and get distracted with social media… but sometimes we need to disconnect. No e-mails, no flashing notifications, no distractions, just the here and now. Appreciating the warm light that tries to enter the room, the music playing and the dark chocolate smell.
Considering you are just days before coming out, I should be feeling more stressed and anxious, but actually I’m feeling calm and peaceful. Not because I’m not scared (because I am) but because I’m determined to rest and take it easy. You’ll be born when you decide you are ready, so I’m trying to be ready for you as well.
All I did pretty much this year was to let stress take the best out of me. I felt miserable for a long time (something tells me the hormones had a say on it as well), but it felt I wasn’t being me.
I was moaning and complaining every single day and I even ended up crying on my way back home after a shitty day at the office.
Well you know what? That’s not what I want for me and surely not for you either.
Truth to be told I still don’t know what I want to be and what I should be doing career wise, but I do know who I don’t want to become.
I don’t want to let the child in me die, and I hope the creative me will start to wake up again bit by bit. With so many options out there do I how do I know which road to take? All I know for sure is that I want to spend good quality time with you and dad and give you the same childhood memories as the ones I grew up with.
We never had a luxurious life, on the contrary quite a modest one, but looking back we had the luxury of time well spent together. Running in the beach, gathering sea-shells, building castles in the sand. Running in the fields on the back of our house, grabbing lemons below the tree or grabbing fresh oranges on a sunny day. Or maybe a drive to the mountains where we would jump on the rocks and try not to fall into the river (most likely I would end up doing that and getting my feet wet, whereas my sis would jump faster and more skillfully than clumsy me). We didn’t need any more than that.
Not many of my friends who had better houses, better toys and branded clothing can say the same and I don’t remember being that bothered either even as a kid. Because time is priceless so I want to give the same to you.
There is no point in getting fooled by “lady boss” and “women on leadership” and let’s continue to try to grow as high as I can if that means I won’t have enough time for you. I know for a few years now that I don’t want that life, just haven’t figured out what is my middle ground yet. There’s a part of me that hopes you’ll bring clarity into my head and I’ll end up figuring out what’s best for all of us.
Because in the end all I want is afternoons like this, where I’m here with you, relaxing, stretching my feet, feeling free and enjoying the sun through the windows. Because moments like this have no price, they are memories that will stay with me forever.

.: The cheesecake and the blank page :.

Is there something more liberating than having time for myself and a blank page staring at you? No pressure, no compromises either. It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday or what happens next, just being here now and go with the flow.
If you spend all your life following schedules that you can barely control yourself and rushing against time, isn’t it great when nothing else matters, just enjoying the freedom of every single second? You can stop and just stare outside, you can grab the pen and just follow your own words. So many possibilities left to unfold waiting for you.
This feels something we used to have as kids, this type of freedom of being but as we grow older the world seems to build it’s own special rules on us. Be on time for work, prepare an important meeting, leave on time to reach the doctor appointment or pick the kids from school.
And now, while I’m staring at everyone else around me follow the clock outside I realise this might be one of the last times in a long time I’ll be able to do this. Just me, no one else, not even my own expectations of me. I guess the more the reason for me to enjoy it well. Although I’m not necessarily alone anymore either. You are making sure I don’t forget about you, kicking inside of me (Probably as a reaction to the amazing cheesecake I’m having). It’s hard to believe it’s only a matter of days before we finally meet! That is probably going to be THE moment of my life Because of that I’ve been full of worries in my head: Are you ok? Are you going to reach outside safely? Are you going to be healthy? Am I going to be the Mom you deserve?

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So for now it feels good just to be here: me, you, us. Just enjoying the cheesecake and occupying this once blank page. The world carries on, but for this once I just stop and stare. No distractions (no e-mail, no social medial). That’s right, to make the most of it all I have is pen and paper – and a big window in front of me. I can also stop and just imagine what the other people are doing. There are 2 other people in the room with me, both of them with their own computers. I used to play a game while I was in public transport trying to read people’s minds and creating stories behind their lives. You don’t even notice time goes by. Now I tend to do what everyone else does, which is to stare at stuff on my phone and occasionally read. I miss a bit of the old days, so let’s try to play it again.
The guy on the right and side of the window seems to be a programmer or a web designer doing some work. He looks really quiet actually. He’s probably used to work from places like this, feels somehow better than to work from home. Less lonely I guess, even if you’re not interacting with anyone. Also in London not many people have the luxury of space for an office.
I would probably fancy finding such a job, that would allow me to work from everywhere. Today this lovely cafe, tomorrow maybe sitting in front of the river. That would be quite a creative boost wouldn’t it?
The lady on my left working with a mac I suspect is a creative of some sort. She’s also quite young (not even sure if she’s even 20!). She just ordered another round of coffee. Probably she’s working at a startup in the marketing or fashion industry. She looks the type that could easily be a blogger and actually be working as such (yap, nowadays being a blogger can be a profession as well).
I have a blog too but I use it mostly to share photos and thoughts. Doubt I could ever make a life out of it.
Next to the counter people are chatting and socialising, but my attention keeps getting drawn to these two silently working from different corners of the room.
Would they actually benefit from talking to each other? I suspect so, but that would be awkward for them I guess, because at first glance, aside from both working from the same space they don’t seem to have anything in common. Also I guess in their heads there’s also an invisible cube around them. It doesn’t matter who else is in the room, who comes or goes. The chatter in the counter doesn’t seem to bother them either – I guess the same way it doesn’t bother me either.
Uh…. just realise my cheesecake is almost gone! It’s really good (one can’t resist happy calories, I surely can’t). I wish I could bake like this! Although I’m certainly improving. The brownies we’ve baked over the weekend were really good and my scones tend to make my friends smile (baby I suspect you will like them as well).
Shall we have the last bit of cheesecake? Let’s do it… and that’s it, gone. Now I’m staring at the plate with nostalgia, when the cheesecake was still there. While the last sweet sensation from the cheesecake goes down, you’re kicking (you recognise the sweet taste don’t you?).
I stop to admire the lights in the room as well as my real life telly (I mean the big window) of people coming and going outside. I’m also starting to feel I need a bit of a break because I’m not used to write this long in pen & paper anymore (need to train my hands on that old school process again). While that, I look at the newcomers, a mom and 2 really well behaved kids. They are quietly enjoying their cake and fresh milk. I’m sure our 2 workers are as impressed as me, as probably they thought that they would be disturbed. They haven’t. Although I suspect a bit of distraction would be a good welcome break to whatever they are doing. Ah, guess I was right, as he got up and he’s looking through the window outside. A mini break before getting back to work. Isn’t it amazing how small little breaks can be such a productivity boost? Which reminds me of an interesting paper I wrote back at uni (we were tasked with interview people and explore around the breaks they did at work and how that affected their productivity). I definitely miss writing. But as soon as I would have the pressure to write to meet deadlines that’s it, all the worlds would take holiday from me and vanish somewhere else. So I guess that’s not something I will be doing either. Just stick to blogging when the words come even if no one else reads it.
There’s a newcomer in the room, a nice guy and a dog. Yap, I know, I’m already assuming he’s a nice guy. But you can actually judge people by the way they treat animals. He’s caressing the dog and the dog seems so happy. I’m seriously smiling as it’s such a tender moment happening right in front of me. Mr worker seems to have noticed as well and he’s smiling, while the young lady is still striking back her keyboard completely distracted of what goes around her. I’m happy I’ve noticed and that I’m actually here right now to see it. Dog seems happy and so am I. Happy that I left the house and the distractions to appreciate moments like this.
I have no idea how long I have been here. I didn’t checked time when I arrived and certainly not checking it now either, but it feels time to go for a walk and stretch my legs a little bit.
The luxury of time does indeed wonders . I feel absolutely peaceful and free from any worries. It doesn’t matter what happens next but I’m just happy that I’ve stopped the clock and just came to my once cheesecake and blank page.

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.: Who do you want to be? :.

“If you could be anyone today who would you choose to be? Would you be doing exactly the same things as right now? Why is this a question we only ask ourselves when something really drastic happens in our life?
What if we stop waiting for the turning point and stop the clock right now. Imagine you have a magic clock in your hand and with the turn of the engine you could be anything? What would you be? Would you be a musician? A bailarina? A creative? For a small group of us out there we would rather say: at this point in time I am what I want to be, no change required. For most of us though, that endless door of possibilities is a fiction book we are only allowed to read once in a while in our dreams. But we barely read it so every time we do it we have to start again. What happens with our lives that we just let go of all possibilities and we no longer there. Someone would point out that it’s part of growing up and having responsibilities, that we can’t have everything.
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Deep inside I feel like Peter Pan and refusing to grow up and still feeling that little star within me that keeps on whispering it’s never to late why don’t you try it out? Then the rational side of me says if that was that easy…  You don’t ever know what you want, so just go back to what you know and stick with it until you’re sure. But will I ever be sure?
When I was a little girl I wanted to be a lawyer because I used to believe I could make a difference to people. That soon disappeared from my mind. Then I  don’t think I had any further wishes and was always wondering what I wanted to be. Used to spend hours writing. Oh I loved writing. Would let my feelings guide my pen and just feeling free. Maybe in those pages I could be a hero and be doing all the things I wouldn’t ever dare to dream. Then I would draw stuff although I don’t think I was that good at it, so went back to writing. At that point I was a teenager and had lots of emotions flowing through my veins. There was this constant search for love. A love I felt it would never come. Had no other wish back then but to be loved. I was quite the classical dramatic and emotional teenager. One day I found love but that was at the same time as growing up. Start to work, pay the bills and follow up routine like everyone else. Throughout the years though I always felt that a part of me was missing. That my creative side had felt into a black hole and ever since I’ve been trying to find it. I know its within me somewhere and I hope that by finding it I’ll finally find the answer to who would I be if I could be anyone tomorrow?”

.: How to find motivation to cook just for one :.

I’m sure we’ve all been there at least one. It’s just one of us at home and it’s meal time. Feels like eat a sandwich or some cereals and not bother to cook at all. It’s a lot easier, mentally, to cook at least for 2. Since I struggle with motivation to cook for the 2 of us on a daily basis, when I’m home alone, I’ll typically do something really quick, such as just cereals or maybe pasta with tuna or similar.

My inspiration in this field has to be my sister. Most of the time she does cook just for herself. The way she does it though, is to cook as if it was for 2 and then next day she doesn’t need to buy or cook an additional lunch. Sometimes she will store the leftovers and mix up with something else so she doesn’t get bored of the food.

She says if she wasn’t going to cook, then she would be eating just cereals and rubbish and that’s not healthy. Plus she really likes to eat, and she eats quite well. She’s also really skinny, mostly due to the amount of exercise she does. Although she eats a lot, she actually eats healthy, avoiding fried stuff or too much sugars on a weekly basis.

Here’s some of the things she cooks:

Here’s one of my favourites, this is actually cod, with corn bread and shrimps on the top.

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Corn bread with melted cheese and oregano for the starter

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Stuffed mushrooms

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Peas with chorizo & poached eggs (this is quite a classic in the portuguese menu)

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Not sure what this one was

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And this was her lemon merengue pie, which was absolutely delicious!

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Do you struggle to find motivation to cook just for one? Any main dish you rely on?

.: Capsule wardrobe :.

I believe I have already published something in similar lines before, but it’s always good to remember. I’m in the process right now of starting to check my wardrobe (and stuff in general) as I need space. Because I still have 3 months to go I haven’t really started, but it’s always a good time to start. Every season I check the items I have, the items I need and I create 2 piles: throw away (if it’s no longer in good enough condition) and give away – in our building we have a clothing storage which makes this process easier.

A few years ago I’ve also created 2 boards on pinterest: my wardrobe – so I remember what I already have – and the wishlist – to make me think twice before I buy it. When I finally need something e.g. a dress, I go into the wishlist and see the items I already have in there. I tend to buy most of my clothing online as I don’t have much time for shopping and also, because every time I go to the stores they never have my number, this is why this system works for me.

Recently I’ve been wearing 95% of my time dresses for work and leggings over the weekends – or just PJ in a lazy day like today.

So I’ve really enjoyed this little video as it summarises what I’ve been trying to achieve at home:

The app looks pretty easy to use, so will give it a go and see how it helps.
Any personal ideas on how to de-clutter?

.: Looks for the fall :.

Maybe because I was born in the fall, it’s a season I just love! So let’s see: the landscape becomes red and the daylight is gorgeous and golden. Then we have cinnamon flavours and smells all over, as well as nuts and the looks too!

Hats

Burgundy – One of my favourite colours!

Beige – It’s knit time! And one of my favourite colours is beige, just feels so cosy and warm really

Scarfs

Love wearing scarfs! I always did, and the best time for them? The fall? (Obviously winter as well)

.: Going sabbatical :.

Right…. this is it. I’m seriously considering taking a sabbatical.
Before I jump in the reasons why or what I would plan on doing, let me just say that taking any unpaid time off is completely against my personality and my culture as well. Barely anyone in Portugal could be able to afford to do such a thing, so I’ve been educated in considering my job seriously and doing whatever it takes to stay there. Even moving between jobs was badly perceived in my family.

But I’m reaching a tipping point. I though I was tired before but I guess after 5 years of sleeping always away from home, all the commuting and the high levels of stress most of the time (and again a main caveat which is most of it it’s my own fault, as I take ownership and responsibility when sometimes I should, and should just delegate). But I’m cracking now. It’s quite a step for me to admit it, but I’m really losing the plot. It feels like hell waking up on a Monday morning, I leave the office at 22h swearing and blaming myself for being so stupid and keeping working harder rather than smarter. So I guess I really need proper time off, not the random 1 or 2 weeks. Ever since I’ve started working I never took more than 3 weeks off, not even between jobs (Yeah yeah I know, how stupid is that). Not even when I moved between countries.

So this is something that we’ve started talking at home. We’re now seriously considering taking 2 months off and do our dream travel, go a few weeks to Portugal and get back. This is something that only started to take shape now, and we still need to wait to see what’s happening around us with our jobs to understand if we can do it or not (his project is about to finish so we need to wait a bit to understand what’s going on), but I wish I could go right now!!!

I know most people take at least 6 months and ideally 1 year, but as I’ve said, it’s already very though for me to think that I will be 2 months without any income, 6 months it’s too crazy, moreover I can’t afford travel all over the world, so just the chance to do my dream travel makes me smile already.

Where do I want to go?

Japan!!! We speak about going to Japan one day almost ever since we’ve started dating, and that was more than 10 years ago, so it’s a long wait. It just happens to be one of the most expensive places in the world to travel. Second place is Vietnam. So the plan is something on the lines of:

London > Tokyo (3 days) > Kyoto (3 days) > Hanoi (6 days) > London > 4 days at home doing nothing > Lisbon (2 or 3 weeks) and the rest of the time to be back home doing nothing again and just look back at the pictures and wish I was back

Just for the flights I need lots of money, but I’m counting on saving points from the hotel to be able to pay for my stay in Japan with Marriott Points.

Some pictures for inspiration

 

Kyoto

Tokyo

Vietnam

And the food!!!

There’s quite a big chance that I wouldn’t be able to do any of that. I hope the winds help me out here and next year around April / May I’m out!

 

.: Surrounded… yet alone :.

I wrote a similar post not that long ago here, but this is a topic that is quite close to my heart as this is how I’ve felt most of my life. Yap, while growing up it was hard for me to really connect with people for real, I just couldn’t find easily people that I would relate to, everything seemed so… fake. It was all about pretending, and this was quite before the facebook age. I felt that I could disappear in the middle of the crowd and no one would notice I had vanished – except for my closest family.

It is a powerful feeling that becomes even more real if you live in a big city such as a London. Everyone’s in a hurry, no one cares, no one has time. It’s all about pretending to have a social life, fake conversations that mean nothing, all so fragile. No one cares who you really are except what you are perceived as. If you look someone powerful then people will notice you. As we have more tools to connect we become a lot more selfish, we only care about the me me me.

For a couple of years now I try to care and try to notice with little things such as looking someone in the eye and ask “how are you?” at the supermarket, or wishing a good day at a coffee shop. Normally people smile back to me because they don’t expect to be noticed. In plane english I don’t give a monkey’s if that person is important or not, I practice “the being nice” to everyone – except if they are rude to me. This is why it’s very easy for me to cross the corridor and speak to people and saying hi all the time. Is there something as powerful of being notice and someone honestly caring for your presence?

Here’s a story that happened to me a few years ago (at least twice that I remember). I was feeling very sick in the underground and I was fainting. I managed to get out on one station without even seeing where I was going and throw myself in a seat. I’m sure I was really pale, as I normally get, but do you think anyone noticed? Nop! Not a single person. I woke up on my own with the fresh air on my face and managed to get back into the next underground. More recently I fainted on the train. Yap, I just managed to throw myself on the ground on a crowded train in rush hour. No one asked me if I was ok or if I needed help. Isn’t this a bit sad? Fortunately I was fine and I managed to do everything on my own, but what if this wasn’t the case?

So this is why I could only have a smile on my face when reading this article

The world we live in needs more people like you Jamie!

Any story you would like to share?

.: A broken lens and a whole new perspective :.

One of the street photographers I admire the most is Marius, simply because I totally love his style and because he managed to achieve quite a lot just putting effort and love into it.

Here’s a few samples

Recently I saw a post on his blog where he describes what happened to a $1600 lens, whereas most of us would cry like a baby (I certainly would since I find $500 already quite expensive!)

But he took a whole new approach which I find truly inspiring, check out the video

Isn’t it just amazing? Also the topic is quite a powerful one. The best photography for me is the one that tells the story and captures the moment even if it’s not technically perfect! This is the art I want to perfect, telling a story through a photo.

To follow his blog and check his work click here.

Any inspiring stories you would like to share? Which photographers inspire you the most and why?