Thursday, April 30, 2009

Stop

I simply MUST stop reading the news. I'm a worrier, you see, so all the talk about the credit crunch, and the climate change, and the war on terror was bad enough. But I'm also (and specially) a hypochondriac. So, as you can imagine, a pandemic is my worst fear. I'm coming up with all sorts of plans and possible scenarios in my head, and at the same time, all sorts of reasons why I'd never need to put these plans into action, because deep down, I'm an optimistic hypochondriac, if such thing exists.
The newspapers, on the other hand, are pretty sensationalist. So I'm considering starting a "Think before you read" challenge, make sure it's good news before I read it. And I'm happy to report that there WAS a piece of good news on the BBC website for me to read today! The weather forecasters have predicted that the UK will have a "hot and dry" summer. (Now you realize how British I have become, that I even share this weather obsession with my fellow citizens. It's in moments like this that I think maybe it's time to move back to Spain, or go to a completely different country, one with warm weather, and without swine flu, if there is any. One that I may be able to call home.)
Now, I understand the importance of being informed and the many benefits of instant transmission of news, specially in times like this. I studied Journalism at University, four years of listening, thinking, talking about the value of the fourth power. But sometimes, we can get so carried away with the constant dripping of bad news that we think the end of the world is approaching (or is that only me?). The idea of deciding what information I allow to get into my head and what I choose to ignore seems very liberating. If only for a weekend.

Monday, April 27, 2009

From home to home, making things on the way

I’m back in Oxford from Spain and happy to be home. I’ve come to realize that this is home, after all, even if it may be a temporary one. But I've been thinking a lot of what my ideal home would be like, and will post a list soon! You know we love lists...
Spain was fun, but chaotic and more than a bit stressful, so I’m glad to be back and into a routine that doesn't involve meeting friends for dinner at midnight. I'm exhausted!
My routine will from now on include some dressmaking! My dressmaking course started today and I loved the first class! We are a small group of girls, most of us complete beginners and I think the class is going to be fun. Today, the tutor gave us lots of information on patterns and fabrics (we have to get some for our project for next week), all very, very confusing. We also learnt how to measure ourselves and we all chose what we wanted to make. I want to make something fairly straightforward for this class as I don’t want to get frustrated with it and give up the whole idea of dressmaking (yes, it has happened before). The tutor thought making a skirt would be a good idea, so I’m going to do a full length skirt that I can use for my belly dancing class; the rationale for this decision being that I may not end up with something that I can wear in the street but I hope I’d end up with something that I can show to those who have seen me struggle with my belly dancing moves. We’ll see.
Oh! And my rules for life are up in the Five rules for life blog! Yay!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Where is home?

I'm writing this from Spain, where we've come to spend a long weekend. I should be happy to spend some time with friends and family (and I am) but I'm seriously tired and, probably as a result of it, feeling a bit weird and lost. I thought I'd got to a place where I was at peace with being a Spanish in England. I like leaving in England (yes, despite the rain) for lots of reasons and I enjoy spending some of my holiday in Spain.
During the 8 years I've been living in England, I've gone trough different phases. At first, it was hard to live in another country, specially one where I didn't speak the language, and where I didn't understand many of the customs or personality traits. Then, I started to really like England, feeling at ease there, to the point where so many "Spanish things" started to seem strange or even wrong to me. Finally, I enjoyed having two so different homes so close to each other and the fact that I could easily switch from English to Spanish (most of the time).
Now, I'm starting to feel a bit lost in both countries, missing one when I'm in the other, and never completely happy where I am. Where is home? I keep asking myself. I've always thought that at some point in my life I'd go back to Spain and settle down, as my Mum puts it (I think I'm pretty settled in England but this obviously doesn't count for her, since it's in "another country" which means I'm "traveling"), now I'm not so sure. But I don't see myself staying in England either.
I read somewhere that "Home is where my books are", something I completely agree on (because you know that books are my friends). The problem is that at the moment, my books (and many other of my possessions) are in two different places.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hello! (and five rules for life)

I'm so excited to see new people coming to visit my blog! Some of you are coming from Julie's blog, Moments of Perfect Clarity, which was made blog of note this week! (Congratulations, Julie, you truly deserve it!) or I've found you through her blog. So thank you all for stopping by and thank you, Julie!

Among my new readers, I found Lynette, and through her blog My creative fling, I found the Five rules for life blog. I love this idea: people sharing "what they believe are the most important rules to follow for a happy, successful, and fulfilling life. "

So I was inspired to think about my five rules for life. And of course, I'm sharing them with you!

Learn, learn, learn
I’ve said it before. I love learning. Doing new things and discovering new skills really stimulates me. I love the feeling of going back to school, taking notes, thinking about what has been said... I’m interested in lots of random stuff, from languages, to knitting (some friends and I are going to start a knitting group) to literature, cinema, development and human rights issues… almost anything!

Spend time on your own
I think it's important to be comfortable with ourselves, and to not rely on others to define who we are. We're not only someone's partner, or someone's friend, or someone's mum/daughter. We have our own personality and it's important to keep some parts of your life to yourself: do a course on your own, take solitary walks and take photos of what you see, enjoy your own company.
I also think it's important to get to know yourself, what you like, and what you enjoy. When we spend all our time with others, we don't have time or space to listen to what we want and we end up believing that we want what others want. I’ve recently started a journal to record all the things I like, from my favourites movies or books to how I like to spend my weekends. I really think this will help me finding out more about myself.

Change your surroundings
Travel is such an important thing in my life. I love discovering new places, new cultures, and new languages. But I don’t have to go very far, just a change of surroundings, a day in the countryside or a visit to a museum you’ve never been to will help me to open me mind in lots of different way. It’s about leaving your comfort zone, and discovering new ways of doing things.

Don't take anything personally
I’ve unashamedly copied this from Lynette’s list because it really resonated with me. I do take things personally, but this was a real eye opener: People are simply too busy with their own problems! They’re not judging me, they are not talking about me, they are not thinking of how I’d react to their words… at least not most of the time.

Have fun!
Ah, yes! We tend to forget this one! I certainly do! Have fun, make the most of any situation, laugh at yourself! Be silly, jump up and down, sing in the middle street, laugh out loud!

What are yours?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Behind a veil

My belly dancing classes have started again after the Easter break!!! Shimmy, shimmy, shimmy! I'm taking two different classes this term, I'm still taking an improvers class on general dancing technique, and am also taking an intermediate (a big deal!) class on veil work. I really like dancing with a veil. Anything you do looks mysterious and sexy. And of course, the veil can help you cover those parts of the body that you're not supposed to be moving. Although that's not the point of it, of course, don't tell my teacher I said that!
I feel so much freer when I'm dancing with a veil. Belly dancing is not easy, you need to move muscles you probably didn't know you had, and in most cases, keep the rest of your body still (isolation is my teacher's favourite word). It's all too easy to concentrate on doing the movement right and forget about the music, or the feeling of the dance. Which is of course the most important, and most enjoyable part.
When I dance with a veil, I can forget about technique, I don't think about "getting it right". I just move around the room, floating, somehow my hands know what to do, they listen to the music, and this help the rest of my body to move accordingly. And if in doubt, I can always hide behind my veil. I love it!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Earth Mosaic

Have you heard of this photo project? Earth Mosaic wants to "record a day in the life of our planet, in pictures". If you want to take part, you need to take a photo wherever you are on Wednesday, 22nd. You then upload it on the website, and they'll create a mosaic of the Earth, trying to place the photos as close to the location in the map as possible . There is also a Flickr group where people have started uploading photos of their corners of the world (although only photos taken on the 22nd would make it to the mosaic).

I'm trying to decide what part of Oxford I want to show. I could take photos of one of the colleges, the students going to classes, people cycling... but that's the Oxford everyone knows. I love some of the small streets at the back of the colleges, or the parks around the city, the meadow behind my office, the boats at the side.
There are also some interesting neighborhoods, far from the University buildings. Cowley is the multicultural Oxford, Jericho has some hidden coffee shops and pubs, and there is a shark in the roof of one of the houses in Headington!


Photo from here. Even though I lived round the corner from the shark for over a year, I somehow never got round to take a photo of it!

Where would you be taking photos from?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Back from...



The lovely Lake District. Impressive landscape and pretty lakes, but, above all, amazing corners of beauty and tranquility.




... a great place to go on a day long bike ride, stop numerous times to take photos and then have lunch in a proper English pub looking over the valley.


We also visited family (it's more fun now that there are babies!)

... attended a somehow unusual, but lovely, wedding...

... ate lots of Easter chocolate, reread a book that I love, read another one that I didn't like, had several English teas (discovered that fruit cake and cheese are a surprisingly good combination), spent more time than I wanted to inside the car and watched TV (I don't have one, but I discovered a show that I'm going to be watching on the Internet from now on: Homemade home).

All in all, a good Easter break!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Lovely surprises and my first blog award!!


I got back from my holiday (more on that later) and found two lovely surprises waiting for me! One at home, the other online, but both from the amazing Julie of moments of perfect clarity. Hers is a fantastic blog, hilarious, a bit crazy, and always clever, insightful, very honest, and inspiring. You should all go and read it!

Some weeks ago, I won a giveaway at Julie's blog and, earlier than expected, my prize arrived while I was away! A beautiful hand made french press cozy, a Moleskine and delicious chocolate (ginger and lemon, so it's healthy, right?) as well as some of Julie's mini business cards, which I think are great. Everything made by Julie (except the chocolate):


Obviously, one of the first things I did after opening my pressie and unpacking was turning on my Mac (after a week offline!) and checking my Google reader, where I found another nice surprise! Julie has given me my very first blog award!



And not just any award, The Renee award! As explained in Sotto Vocce (who gave the award to Julie):

It's one of the most meaningful awards in the blogworld because it honours someone who is incredibly inspirational in her intelligent and witty writing. And by doing so this award celebrates women's smart, strong and inspirational spirit. These women are like Renee (of Circling My Head): the acorn, a small package becoming a tall and sturdy oak giving more acorns, becoming tall and sturdy oaks, giving acorns…

I'm really honored and I'm already thinking on who I'm going to pass this to, but there are so many inspirational women out there in the blogesphere that it's difficult to chose. Inspiration is one of the things I've found in blogs, but also, I've found people who are not afraid to share their knowledge, their creativity and ideas, in the belief that sharing will enrich them, as well as others. This is so rare in the real world, and it's so refreshing how we all learn and inspire each other. Blog awards represent this sharing and learning together. So, thanks, Julie, for the award and for reminding me of why I love blogs!

Friday, April 10, 2009

On holiday!

I'm enjoying the first day of the Easter break, even more because I'm on holiday next week as well! J and I took time off work and will spend the week in the Lake District, in the north of England.
After 8 years here, I still don't know what many say it's the most beautiful part of the country so I'm looking forward to walking, admiring beautiful landscapes, and visiting pretty villages with nice tea shops where I can have a traditional English tea. The English tea, complete with sandwiches, scones and cream is, most definitely, one of the best things from my adopted country. I must confess I have it with coffee, but I'm allowed, I'm not English, and I love it!


I'm also taking this book, that I'm dying to re-read, and my journal, as I'm feeling very inspired. The Unraveling course that I've been taking has come to an end, and I'm just realizing how much of my I've discovered during the past eight weeks. So it's the perfect time to sit down and reflect some more on what I want.

See you here next week!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

How to wear a summer dress in winter

I always struggle to dress between seasons. I always end up wearing something completely inappropriate, and feeling either too hot, or too cold, or just silly. Obviously, this girl doesn't have the same problem.

Photo from Cachemire & Soie

Sunday, April 5, 2009

She

Julie, from Moments of perfect clarity wrote a post on third person here, and invited us all to do the same. It's incredibly liberating! If you try it, leave a link so we can read it. Here is mine:

She likes pink, the sea and riding her bike. But sometimes, she prefers yellow, the city and going places on the train. She doesn't believe in horoscopes, but she is a real Gemini. More than two, she has multiple personalities.
She enjoys a good conversation (online or offline) with her friends, but sometimes, she'd rather be alone. Or with a book.
Books are her friends. "Books are not the answer to everything", a good friend told her once. But she convinced her that she was wrong. Of course books are the answer to everything.
She is starting to realize that good friends are difficult to find, but keeps on finding good friends in those that she has known for a long time.
She loves going to the cinema. The movie is not that important. The big screen, sharing the experience, leaving the cinema and talking about what you have just seen. Those things, she enjoys. She doesn't have a TV but she spends too long on her computer. She likes writing, but she can always find excuses not to do it.
Sometimes, she'd like to live in a small house in the middle of nowhere. Others, she dreams about living in New York, London or Tokyo, and never stop doing, learning, seeing.
Her home is in England, but her past, and possibly her future, are in Spain. She lives in two worlds, not the same, not too different. In Spain, people tell her she is very English. In England, everyone reminds her that she Spanish. She likes traveling but she is bored of flying. Right now, she'd like to be back in Buenos Aires, walking around Palermo.
Belly dancing makes her feel better. Coffee makes her feel better. Breakfast in bed, a nice surprise, the sun between the clouds, walking in the park. All those things make her feel better.
She is a hypochondriac, with herself and with those she loves. She worries, all the time, about everything. She doesn't know why she is like that, but she is trying to find out.
She'll be 30 soon. She doesn't feel old, but she's starting to realize that time passes too quickly. It's time to take decisions. Or let life take them for you.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

This week...

... had a distinctive South American flavour. I went to see the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, who came to Oxford as part of the Oxford literary festival. He gave a beautiful talk on storytelling: "Perhaps the purpose of the storyteller is to keep the soul (of the group)".


All week I dream of being back in Buenos Aires. Walking around Palermo, going in and out of cool shops, visiting the biggest bookshop in South America, Ateneo, and enjoying the best ice cream and croissants in the world.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Slow down and dress up

I love the dresses in this shop (none of which I'm going to buy, you know why), but my favourite thing is their motto:
"Take time to slow down and dress up." A reminder to stop and appreciate things, to make an effort to enjoy every moment. Maybe I'll dress up for my home cooked dinner tonight.