The TED talk all women should see

I try to start my workday with a TED talk. I wish I could say I do this daily, but sometimes I can’t. I usually do it when my work energy level is low or when I feel I need motivation to go with the work routine. Today I came across with “Why do ambitious women have flat heads?” by Dame Stephanie Shirley.  The title was enough to call my attention since sometimes when the talk’s title is too predictable, I might just pass it. But this one wasn’t and I’m glad I clicked it.

Dame Stephanie Shirley had it rough. She was one of the Jewish kids saved by being sent to families in northern England during the Second World War . She grew up in an era where women’s only objective was to get married and have kids. There were scarce work opportunities for them. I work in the software industry. Women in the 60’s didn’t just pursuit that area at all. But one woman did it. And this terrific woman showed nothing is impossible. Yes, there was a programming market in that era, believe it or not. If you want to know exactly how it worked, then you have to check the video.

Stephanie Shirley went through all the fights my generation didn’t have too. My generation won’t suffer that gender discrimination again. We have it easy. And what are we doing with our lives? We don’t aim high enough. We don’t dream big enough. We don’t do the fights for the next generations.

I invite you to watch the following TED talk (only 13 minutes of your time but worth your life change).

Weirdness: Embracing it…

I always describe myself as “weird”. People around me hear “bicho raro” an expression in Spanish that would mean something like “weird bug.” Some friends are fast to point out that I’m not weird but “unique”. I appreciate their good intetions, but I actually don’t feel bad about being weird. I love being weird. I embrace my weirdness.

So what do I mean by being weird? I thought it would be to check up the exact definition of the word:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/weird  says: involving or suggesting the supernatural; unearthly or uncanny. fantastic; bizarre.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/weird says: Strikingly odd or unusual, especially in an unsettling way; strange. Suggestive of the supernatural.

But I like the definition of the Merriam-Webster: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/weird  :

  1. of, relating to, or caused by witchcraft or the supernatural :  magical

  2. 2:  of strange or extraordinary character:  odd, fantastic

And I’m almost sure the latter is the best reputable source as well.

When reading the first two definitions, one would see why people react to the word “weird” as a bad adjective. This word for them describes something  not very nice – an “unsettling” word. The expression “weirdo” is a commonly expression used to tag people in a despicable way. However, I insist on relying on the Merriam-Webster definition: “supernatural, extraordinary, fantastic, unusual… etc.” In this interpretation, I love the word; it describes how my usual perspective towards life is.

I always like to believe I don’t fit social standards as normally other people do. I love going against the trends and against the expected behaviors. Even the way I dress, reflects in some way, who  I am as a person. And if people expect you to celebrate a holiday, I do exactly the opposite. But for me this weirdness is not about being stubborn or trying to make a point, it’s only about behaving according to my feelings and without regard to social expectations. For me being weird is nice. It’s about expressing myself in the most extraordinary fashion, living my life defying any social foolish conceptions. It would be nice for a change people wouldn’t chastise or try to fix weird people.

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Crazy starts of year

The first post of this year! 🙂 I couldn’t be happier. Isn’t it funny how some numbers in the date can affect your life perspective goal wise? If we think of this well enough, years, months, dates, etc. are only numbers. We really don’t need the first of january of each year to assess our life objectives, but we’re human influenced by numbers, and our nature, and society partly, makes us reset every beginning of each year, restart our goals, focus, and start fresh.

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The last days of the year have been surreal, with some (not serious) health problems, a minor surgery, and medical rest, but enough for me to assess how much I take care of  myself physically.

2015 has been all about my book and writing as priority number one, and this year it will continue to be. But I’ll have to work this year on a forgotten goal: exercise and good eating habits. I have been telling myself that the latter were not priorities at all. That exercise would only take me time away from my writing objectives. That life was too short to not eat what I like. But I confess that a lot of lazy writeless time has gone through 2015 that could have been used for physical activity. And that not eating well has its consequences no matter the age…

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In addition, I’ve been assessing other aspects as well. I’m not for vanity and long is the time that I indulged myself in taking care of my looks. In the name of saving for my trips, I’ve left many self-care aspects forgotten. I don’t mean to spend now tons of money on hairdressers and related stuff, but once in a while won’t do bad. So 2016 has to bring a little bit more of pampering, exercise, and good eating habits in my life.  I won’t have another life to look fresh and radiant, will I?

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I hope to find better balance this year. I hope to strive through writing even more. But more than anything, I hope to seize each day! Carpe Diem!

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I don’t give up

And I’m back. I’ve missed my blog so much. All this time I haven’t been able to write it because of an extra job. It finished and I’m ready to continue. I must confess it was hard, hard to stay ok these weeks because I was at the point of exhaustion and burnout. And many things in my life were left in a standby.

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When you put so much hope into something, into a new career chance, it’s very hard to accept that at the end you didn’t get your chance. But life is like this.  And I’m so grateful I had this opportunity because I’ve learnt I’m stronger that I think. I’ve learnt I can achieve everything, even if it doesn’t turn out like I always want. I’ve learnt that I can be as strong as steel and hardworking as million people together, and the most important thing I’ve learnt is that “I don’t give up”. I’m willing to accept those words are no longer part of my vocabulary.

I’ve learnt life is better when you learn things the hard way. It makes you tougher and ready for the next challenges. But mostly, I’ve learnt that this blog should never be left aside. I’m thankful for all the people I shared this blog with. I’m thankful that I have a way to connect to them. I’m thankful that my words are read.

Oh men! we´d better achieve our dreams or….

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Oh men, If I thought I would had a weekend like the previous one, years ago, I would have laughed really hard. I´ve always envisioned myself writing a novel in the late years of my life. I would say “SOMEDAY I will write a book, when I´m retired, and have time, and blah blah…”, but then one day I just decided to say that is BS!  I will accomplish this dream “RIGHT NOW RIGHT HERE”, not in the near future, or someday when I´m in a retirement house, but NOW, when I have a day job and almost no time. I made the right decision…

For the past months, I´ve been trying to write my first novel. I started writing short stories first but when I got what I thought an interesting idea for a novel, I decided to give it a go. I decided I was going to put ‘writing´ as number one in my priorities list. No more “extra activities” that would drive me away from it. I would write everyday, if possible, until I actually made a habit of it.

Then, to not bore you anymore with the process to achieve this goal, I started to research about the process of writing books, how to build up characters, plots, etc. So much material about it, you wouldn´t believe me.

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Finally, I decided to enroll myself in the Writer´s Digest bootcamp: Agent One-on-One: First ten pages, which basically focused in the first ten pages of a novel. We got a video tutorial from Ms. Paula Munier of Talcott Notch Literary Agency, who was brilliant, the cleverest person I´ve ever listened to. She gave excellent advice of what Agents were looking for and what she expected to find in the first pages of a novel. She also talked about all clichés, and all the times she got to reject queries from writers. I was “Oh my, I´ve never going to make it!” I did some research about her clients, looked in the web for their books, and believe me , those were quality material, beautiful books, written so amazingly that I was “I don’t stand a chance, English is not even my native language! I´ve never going to be at that level” But I was already registered in the course, with 200 $us invested, which here in my country is a LOT of money.

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So to shorten things, Paula Munier was assigned as the agent who would review my pages (out of five agents in the bootcamp). I was thrilled, maybe she was the toughest one, but the one I´ve imagined myself working with. I sent my pages, expecting to receive a critique that would say “this is not good, you really have to improve, you should consider changing careers, or are you sure you want to be a writer?” I was already mentally preparing myself for that, telling me that I would try not to take it so bad, that I would improve, that this was just a course, and that I was there to learn and to improve.

What I got was: “Nice work, Easy and Fun to read, Engaging premise, Likable hero, Colorful cast of characters, Unique great style” and I was … My god I was stunned.

Of course she also described the parts where I could improve, like improving the flow of the scenes, avoiding overwriting, American grammar and punctuation (the British influence of course), and some issues with my second scene.  But nonetheless, I was thrilled.

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And true, there is still a lot to improve, but it is all about the HARD WORK, and nothing else. If you want to write, you have to do it all the time. You have to read millions of books, if you want to improve your craft. It´s hard work and nothing else. Revision after revision and craziness along the way of course! I usually find myself about to go nuts when I get into one of those hard “revision” sessions, like I would dream with characters and get traumatized with grammar rules. But it is worth it.

In the end, we don´t get a second life, we only have this one, we´d better make the best of it. That means we only have NOW and THIS LIFE to make our dreams come true. We’d better devote ourselves and work our asses off to achieve our dreams, or else when are we going to do it? There is no other way around.

Believe in your dreams and just work the hell out of yourself to make them come true!