Here are 3 podcasts on personal development I've listened to recently (more than once):
Happy Monday, happy week.
Here are 3 podcasts on personal development I've listened to recently (more than once):
Happy Monday, happy week.
Reading my journal, getting in touch with people, thinking about lessons learned, this is how I've spent the last weeks of 2017. Overall it was an incredible year, I got closer to my life goals, to what I love doing and how I want to spend my time. It was a year filled with life-changing books and connecting with inspiring people. I dedicated a lot of time and energy developing all sorts of skills, from longboarding, to cooking, getting back to meditating, and to fitness, becoming more patience with people (including myself), and more accepting.
Here are last year's highlights:
I kickstarted the year as the head chef of a small cafe in a boutique hotel called Ceylon Sliders, in Sri Lanka, and very determined to surf as much as I could. Talk about creating myself! In 6 months I went from engineer to chef, from mountaineer to surfer, from Scotland to Sri Lanka.
January was specially meaningful because I got to meet (and cook for) Lola Mignot, my greatest surfing inspiration. This short surf film was shot in Sri Lanka while Lola and other incredible longboarders were there promoting the beautiful swim and surf suits brand The Seea:
The months that followed my arrival to Sri Lanka were bittersweet. While my environment and lifestyle were apparently dreamy, surfing almost everyday and cooking on a tropical island, my relationship with people, with those who surrounded me, was far from pleasant. With a few exceptions obviously since I did meet incredible people who remain sweet friends. But I noticed that my behaviour, my presence was not welcomed or cherished, as it had been in past situations. This unpleasant and ambiguous feeling of being and not being at the right place was very hard to manage, leaving me feeling lonely very often. Worse: feeling like a failed human being. This state of absolute sense of failure unveiled a precious lesson: it's ok to feel a failure, it's ok that it hurts, it's ok to feel lonely, because everything in life is just temporary. And while I waited for a better side of life to come back I learned to forgive myself by myself.
My journal became my best friend in 2017. It's sad to realise this but it is so true. It was a good friend nonetheless, one that was always ready to know about what was bothering me, to embrace my nonsenses, deepest fears and joys. No judgements attached. Pure therapy.
This one comes from the best book I read in 2017, I dare to say in my whole life. Every page I turned I got goosebumps from all the revelations and connections regarding life, thinking, consciousness, knowledge, cognition, biology, evolution. I've learned that in the natural world function follows structure, that structures are emergent not designed, meaning that they were formed during the evolution of life and survived through natural selection, that a living system can only be disturbed and not controlled, that it responds to the environment autonomously, with structural changes, that the mind is not a thing but a process, that in the ancient times the words soul and breath meant the same thing in several languages and that was perceived as a moving force, the idea of knowledge and perception, which left the body at death. I could go on and on with hundreds of insights I got from reading this book and how acknowledging them changed a lot of my perception of life.
When facing an action towards me I instantly think: what's the fairest reaction I should have? Mahatma Gandhi once said something like an eye for and eye makes the whole world blind. So regardless of what came, there was a time this year when I tried to reply with goodness and/or compassion instead of what I thought to be fair. If not in action at least in thought. It gave me peace of mind and a sense of wholeness to not just see my side, my response, but going to a place of understanding the other side before reacting. A lot of misunderstanding can be spared by doing this, if only we don't see certain actions as attacks to ourselves but as uncontrolled expressions of emotional beings. Now that I'm writing this I feel guilty for not having kept this behaviour for longer and I pledge that I'll have this more present in my life.
Another life changing book I read this year about how can we change the way we make things. It's so out of the box in a way but very in tune with how nature operates: where waste equals food, efficiency is almost a nonsense concept, and growth should always be a good, healthy thing.
I started reading this book while I was still in Scotland in 2016 and finished it by the end of November last year. It's a long, deep, interesting read about how we live, consume, behave, and how that impacts our life, wellbeing, relationships and planet. The author brilliantly hits a lot of soft spots of our western society and made me so much more aware of a lot of default behaviours I used to have.
Would you like to enjoy all those spicy citrusy flavours of mulled wine in a herbal kind of way? Hibiscus tea is definitely an option! The tea's deep red color resembles that of a bright red wine and its aromatic flavour blends perfectly with the traditional mulling spices.
Mulled Hibiscus Tea
1 tbsp dried hibiscus calyces
3 orange rinds
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
2 cups of boiling water honey to taste
In a pot mix the hibiscus, the orange and the spices. Add the boiling water and let it steep for 5 minutes. Add honey to taste and enjoy very hot!
Wishing you a warm Winter Solstice and Happy Holidays!
Here are some memorable moments from the Botanical Popup Dinner that Chef João Ricardo Alves and I hosted last Friday at A Sociedade.
It was such a special night! We had the lovely Kckliko team decorating the place with elegant flower and leaves arrangements and Cláudia, the charismatic owner of A Sociedade, taking care of all sorts of details that enriched the experienced, such as little individual paper bags filled with aromatic leaves that the guests were to smell with their eyes closed and connect with our dear, bountiful mother nature.
The dinner was 100% plant-based and inspired in what was in season. Pumpkin, beetroot, celery, kale, watercress, parsnip, leek, mushrooms, apple, persimmon and chestnuts, they all made it to our plates, combined with herbs and nuts in an Autumnal mood.
The guests were lively and chatty creating an ambience of friendliness and joy during the whole dinner. João, his incredible girlfriend Maria and I did our little magic in the open kitchen and had a blast plating this 4-course meal (plus a surprise amuse bouche). We enjoyed it so much that we might even repeat the feat very soon!
All images captured by A Sociedade.
I came across this quote a few days ago when I was searching an old document on my computer. Along with it, I wrote at the time - which was around the end of 2014 - a few more words on the theme which I'd like to share with you. It made sense back then and it still does.
To me there's nothing in this world that compares to peace of mind and spirit, and nothing that can give us more courage, calmness and hope than being truthful with ourselves. This is not an arrogant and egocentric exercise, but one of humbleness and detachment.
All of us have opinionated people around us, people that express strong beliefs about how life should be lived, including our own. Even if we hold some of them in high esteem they will not live our lives for us. More so, most of us live in society, which being obviously great it could also be that whatever is happening around us might be blurring the vision we have for our life, and these two things together leave us without truly knowing if what we want is coming from within ourselves or from others.
It was late September and all the wild blackberries had already dried out on their bushes. "Next year", I said to myself, "I need to pick them earlier".
So this year, on a cloudy August afternoon, I decided to go and check on the wild blackberry bushes that are abundant near Serra da Arrábida. It was just at the right moment. Some of them were already dried but my mother and me still managed to pick a lot of plump, shiny and sweet wild blackberries.
As I drove back home I couldn't stop thinking about a berry pound cake recipe I had tried from the wonderful book A Homemade Life - one of my favourite cookbooks ever - by Molly Wizenberg, the creator of one of my longtime favourite blogs, Orangette.
For this recipe I've followed her advice on using blackberries instead of blueberries and raspberries, and did the suggested correction of flavourings, adding lemon and orange zest to the recipe. I've also opted for coconut sugar, with the correspondent adjustment of quantity, since coconut sugar is much sweeter than the regular one.
Wild Blackberry Pound Cake
2 cups + 2 tbsp flour, preferably spelt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups coconut sugar
250g unsalted butter, diced and at room temperature
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp orange zest
2 cups blackberries
Start by pre-heating the oven to 180ºC and placing your oven rack in the middle position. Grease and flour a bundt pan (I used a silicone one). In a bowl whisk 2 cups of flour, baking powder and salt. In a food processor blend sugar with eggs for about 1 minute. Then add the the diced butter,lemon and orange zest and blend again, not forgetting to scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the dry ingredients and process until just combined. In a large bowl toss the blackberries with the 2 tbsp of flour. Pour the batter over the berries and gently fold to combine. Pour the batter into the pan and spread it evenly on the top. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let it cool at least 20 minutes before serving.
As you've might already noticed, this is not just a place about food. Well, at least not food as we commonly know it. Just as I believe that food isn't only a means to get energy for our body, I also believe that life is more than getting things done. I won't deny that there's a kind of sense of accomplishment when you tick that certain item off your bucket list. But I wonder, without meaning how long does that sense of accomplishment lasts? Maybe just one moment, as you will surely look for the next item to focus on. I'm completely guilty of doing this. When I'm not doing something I feel like I'm just waisting my time. Except I'm not.
I have my dear friend Maria João to thank for an incredible exercise that she suggested me to do some months ago:
MJ: "Just go outside, sit in your garden and do nothing for half an hour."
Me: "But that's what I do everyday when I meditate!"
MJ: "No, it's not the same thing. Just sit and do nothing."
And what an incredible experience it was. Weird at first for sure, but I felt like I gained something else. I believe it was presence. An overwhelming presence. I've felt this before. I feel this every time I'm deeply connected with nature or engaged in a deep conversation with someone. Or even when I'm meditating. So what is the difference between all these examples and the exercise your friend suggested, you might ask. Well, I guess is the courage to assume that you're about to do nothing in a time where productivity rules, where you are what you do or accomplish. And having the courage to do that empowers you.