This is all the time we have for today

“This is all the time we have for today,” said the instructor at the end of the class. We bowed, thanked each other for the practice and one by one left the dojo.

I put my jogging hoodie over my half wet t-shirt and went to the grocery store to get some plastic cups for the birthday party tomorrow. I forgot to get them in the morning when I did the rest of the shopping for the party. I was tired but not exhausted. In my mind I pictured each move we learnt today and how I did the moves and thought that I could have done them better. I could have put at least 20% more effort in each move, even if it hurt and at that moment it seemed impossible. This is all the time we have for today. Just one hour. There were three of us and David, the instructor, in this takedown class. And one hour of time. What we did in this hour, what we achieved in this hour, how well we worked with the partner depended on each of us. We could just show up or we could make a difference. The time allocated was the same, the space was the same, but the impact each of us created was different.  I heard this phrase, about the time we have for today, many many times, may be every day.

And I thought that at the end of my life it will be no different. As I drove back home I imagined a man’s voice saying “This is all the time you have” and then there will be the end. This is all the time I have. A life like a day. Like one hour of a day. Finite. And may be I will think that I did not do enough effort. That I could have tried a little bit harder and the impact would have been multiplied by ten.

Thinking this I push myself a little bit more every day. Much more. We do not know how much we are capable of till we actually do it.  And there is a reason to push ourselves to do better.

MMA is not an end in itself. It is not even about fighting per ce. True, I enjoy fighting and competitions. And yes, of course it allows me to defend myself and people around me, but more than that it helps me to be strong and to create enough energy to pass to others, so they can become stronger and live better. It allows me to empower them. One day, many years ago, I said to a friend that all we need is love and sunshine. And I believe it is true.

When it comes to love advice is the worst thing we can give to a people. A hug is the best. And a hug with strong and reassuring hands is slightly better than “the best”. I want my hands to be strong so I can give a long hug to those who need it. And it is this need to impact people’s lives for the better that makes me wake up in the morning, read more, fight better, never slack, work on building a company, travel easily and lightly, do the impossible and bring up two kids while doing all this.

Because if I do not do it now I will not do it later. There is no later. This is all the time we have for today.

Casablanca

It was the end of 1999 and I was a student in Barcelona. I had split that week with my first serious boyfriend who I dated for about 3 months then. It was December and I was walking on the Passeig de Gracia among all the beautiful houses and expensive boutiques thinking about the relationship. Probably angry and sad at the same time. Those feelings right now seem blurry and I am not sure what I really felt. I ended up at an old movie theater where they were showing black and white films and that day it was Casablanca. I watched it. When I got out of the movie theater it was late. I found an open cafe and sat there and drunk carajillos. I was looking at the dark city streets through the cafe window and thinking how small my problems were comparing to those of the people in the movie. My love was so simple comparing to theirs. It was just a small bump on a road and I cut the relationship. I got out of the cafe, put on my long black winter coat and started walking. The coat was new and very black and still smelled like the new things smell. I do not remember the streets I walked through but I remember the smell of the coat and that I was smoking. I liked smoking in winter, when the air was cold and the cigarette kept the air around the face warm. When I reached his house it was close to 4am and I sat for a few minutes on the steps leading to the entrance door. I thought about the movie I just saw and hummed the song. I rang the doorbell and he answered after a short silence. He said he will be down in a few minutes. And I waited.

We split again a few months after that. Because things did not work for both of us. And because I met somebody from Pamplona and we drove to San Sebastian together, where they served huge sandwiches with tortilla and where we swam in an ice-cold water in May to prove our bravery and make life fascinating. But this was later that year and of course I did not know anything that was going to happen.  Then, sitting on the steps, I wanted things between us to work and he was my first serious boyfriend. And I thought that love was just that simple. The love between man and woman.

He came down and we walked towards the sea. We reached the beach when it was still night. It was windy and the wind sounded like a trombone. And we stood there and kissed and watched the boats move in the water. We did not talk much. It was cold before the daylight and there was not much to say. He held me by the waist and I put my head on his shoulder and we walked like that. Slowly, not to shorten the moment of calmness. As the daylight settled in we found a cafe that had just opened and had croissants and coffee there. And I told him about the movie and how our love was simple and beautiful. And he said that I was crazy. But he loved me that way and we were very happy then.

Nice people…

I did not make a picture with him. Because I liked talking to him. I liked it so much that I knew picturing would break the reality of it. Everybody else made pictures with him, because he was the star.

-Were you aggressive as a child?

-Yes. Very.

-Me too. Once I broke a hand of a boy who hit my brother… I got almost expelled from school then.

-Me too, – and he smiled with a serious smile.

And I liked how his head looked. When he left the party I could still see the shape of his head.

-Well, you really had good time talking to him,- one of the masters approached me while I was getting a piece of grilled meat and eating it with baguette.

-He is a nice guy.

-Nice guy? Hmm,  – he chuckled – this is the first time I hear him called “nice guy”.

-I do not mean nice like people mean it here. I do not like nice people. They are nice on the surface and then they betray you and hurt you.

-Me too. I know what you say. People tell me I am mean, and I know I am mean, but my heart is kind, – and he put a hand on his chest.

I love quietness and peace. I believe in kindness. What I also know is that since child you have to protect these values. You have to defend them. You have to fight for them. You have to fight a lot to keep the peace.

….

“Happy mothers day! You are the best mo….”. I did not open the email. I looked at the email in my mailbox and deleted it. It was from my ex-husband. It was all fake. Just words.

I was sitting in my bed with an ice-pack over my left foot. My pinkie painfully broken since Friday. All the house chores became slow. I thought that I had to do the laundry and to do the breakfast for the kids. The kids were hungry. I made a list in my head of all the things I had to do. It made me want not to get out of bed at all and I wanted to cry. But I pulled myself out and went to make a coffee. Walking was painful and slow. My parents called and wished me happy mothers day. Then friends texted. Somebody asked for a date on Monday. And I did not reply. I just sighted.

I was absolutely alone with two kids. And people were nice and never helped.

Now I had to make breakfast. To clean the table. To do some work. We had a birthday party in the afternoon and a dinner with friends afterwards. Then we found out that my daughter had fever and I gave her some ibuprofen and told her to stay in bed and read.

By noon I was tired from pain and from this feeling of betrayal. I did not like nice people, they hurt you the most. I wanted to go and train at the dojo. To feel stronger. Not to break down. The dominator. The aggressive one. But I could not train. I knew that. I felt weak. I wished I had a shoulder to lean on. I wished I could hug somebody longer than usual friendship.

I took the laptop and sat in my bed with an ice-pack. And then my son came and lay down next to me. And he felt asleep.

And after all the fighting and pain it felt peaceful.

 

Candle Wax

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It felt light inside the church. You stood there and listened to the mass and all the singing. The candles were lit. Women had their hair done and wore elegant summer dresses, probably for the first time this year. The kids were dolled up and pretty. All of them holding decorated Easter candles.

The church walls were covered with mostly blue mosaic and the sunlight reflected in its golden details. Festive. This was all you could feel; Light and festive. Through the singing your body became peaceful. You wanted to breathe this blue air inside of you and make you light.

“May I have the willpower… the willpower to follow the sports diet; the willpower to never have fear and fight well; the willpower to pull my company through; to make it all work; …to be honest with myself; and more… not to destroy others. May I have the willpower not to destroy the ones I love.”

To keep the love inside and keep walking. Candles, flowers, people.

My son was playing with his friend, blowing out and lighting his candle. His new dark blue pants were covered with candle wax. He saw me looking at his pants and said “oops”. I smiled, put my hand in his hair, caressed him gently and told him not to worry about the pants, we will wash them. He smiled back. With a funny laughing smile that only a six-year old has.

The mass was finishing and I looked at the white candle in my hands. Its flame was steady and reassuring. And then after the candlelight there were people, kids, my children, the flowers, the rest of the church. The voices. It was probably noisy at the church, but all I remember is silence. As if we all stood there in silence, looking at the blue mosaic and thinking about ourselves and feeling light. This and caressing my son’s hair.

And then we made a line and the priest gave each of us a bright red Easter egg and candy bags to the kids. And we went into the sunlight and stood on the green grass. And the kids run around with the unleashed happinesses. Skirts, and dresses, and white shirts and small golden crosses. And I knew I waited for this day to feel exactly this. The lightness…

I thought that you have to be brave to feel the lightness.

Our friends came out and we went to our cars and drove to their house. There the meat was roasting, the tables were set, the wine bottles were open and the music was playing. We ate and drunk till late evening. We talked about summer that was coming and where we all were going. The kids run around and wanted to dance. I wanted to dance too. The old Greek woman approached me and pointing at my son’s pants asked me if I knew how to get those candle wax spots out. And I said I did not. And she told me to iron those with a tissue in between and the tissue will suck all the wax out of the pants. And I thanked her. And we filled our glasses and said Christos Anesti.

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Looking at the sky

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In about 40 years, when I turn 75 or 80, here are the things I will regret not having done. Meaning, if I do not do them now, in the next few years. Just from the top of my head:

-not having lived in Paris for a while (may be even a few months a year)

-not having spent a week or two in summer in Southern France; in some small village, just laying in a hammock and reading a book and feeling the fresh breeze from the street. And being in love and making love, a lot

-not having lived some months in some northern village in a house buried under snow in winter and with all the silence around (when the nights last 23h and days have almost no light, and the skies are green at nights)

-not having fought hard enough; having spent my time “just doing things”, half way, without putting all my effort into it

-not having spent vacations with the kids, even if those are just week-ends skiing, sailing or exploring new cities

-not having put this “seed” into the kids of being dreamers and fighters; and making them be real, feel the life with every breeze, with every word, with every breath

-not having created something useful; a business I would be proud of; that would support lives of hundreds of employees and change lives of many people for the better

-not having loved somebody again; strong enough and “pure” enough as to really feel light and careless and feel the infinity of it

-not having baked more cakes and pies and cookies and cupcakes; I used to love baking desserts for kids and guests; I put my heart into it and it felt rewarding… however now I rarely have time

…………….

I was sitting on the kids’ school playground this afternoon looking at the sky. I saw the tree moving and the clouds going fast with the wind. And I thought about these things that I would regret in the future not having done now. And so I said I am doing them.

Mountains in April

DSC_4733I always get insomnia at the hotels. First I can’t fall asleep, then I wake up every half an hour till the sun is up and we can go and have breakfast. It was no different this time. Even though I had woke up that day at 6am to drive to the lake and we spent the whole day skiing I still could not fall sleep.

I was laying in the big and comfortable bed, in a ski resort hotel suite that was almost as big as my apartment. And I could see the stars through the large window. And I was thinking about this perfect slope that we skied today. It was white and vast and shiny. You could feel the sun on your lips when you stood on the top of the slope  before heading downhill. And then I thought that a kiss would have made that moment even more perfect. Like if you could kiss somebody, silently and passionately, and then ski down the slope. When you start going down you feel the cold air and your face and lips get frozen for a moment and all you can think of is maintaining your posture and your balance. And then you do not feel the cold any longer.

I was awake in between of the white sheets of the king size hotel bed. I looked at the stars and remembered how this summer somebody sung behind my back a little song with the words, “if you wish upon a star, it does not matter where you are”. And I turned my head and looked at the man who was singing. It was close to midnight, we were standing next to a fire in an outdoor restaurant in these same mountains, I had a glass of wine in my hand and he had a beer. And I asked him if this was true, if it really did not matter where you were when you wished upon a star. And he sung more and we chatted and towards the end of the night he jokingly asked me if I would marry him, because he liked my eyes. And I smiled and told him that I will not marry him, but I loved his comment about the eyes. I told him that nobody said that to me. And this was true. And he looked past me and carefully pacing his words said into the night air, “Are they all blind that they do not see the beauty of the blue?”. And I smiled again and left the place. It was way past midnight, it was July and I could not sleep anyway.

And right now I was laying in the bed looking at the stars. I’ve always believed that the best thing about the stars was that two people could see them from different parts of the globe. The stars and the moon are the only things that can unite two people on different continents. I used to think so when I lived in Barcelona. I would look at the stars at night and think that somebody half way across the globe can see the same stars too. And the distances shrank and became inexistent. And everything was bearable then. Because two people can see the same stars, as if they were sitting next to each other.

It was around 4am when I saw the moon. It was huge. It was also deep yellow. You only see the moon like this when you are high in the mountains. I got out of bed and went to the balcony. The air was cold. The silence was like a blanket. You could not hear anything. You just stood there with the stars and the moon. The moon was setting behind the mountains. I watched it disappear and then it looked as if the mountains were on fire. Mountains were still covered with snow in late April. And the snow became bright orange. I stood there for a while, till I could not stand the cold any longer. I went inside and crawled into my bed.

I felt asleep towards the morning, when the sun was up and the kids were ready for another day on the slopes. I pushed myself out of bed and we went down for breakfast. The coffee tasted good and the mountains shined with some fresh snow. And I was happy skiing in late April.

Silence

There are all these different silences in my life now…

The silence between me and my ex-husband who is getting married again tomorrow. The silence of dull pain of not caring. Like a slow motion picture. That hurts slowly and over time without visibly hurting. And you can’t say anything about it, because at any given moment it all looks perfectly fine.

The silence between me and a friend who stopped being a friend because his words were neither true nor kind. The silence of not sharing, the silence of shutting up. No words are necessary where human touch has vanished… there will be unavoidable emptiness for a long while.

The silence between me and a man from Palo Alto I dated for the past months. It was good but it became motionless. We both were into the pursuit of our companies. Slowly and naturally, liking each other, we felt into delicate silence… we both liked flowers.

The silence between me and another man… A pure fantasy. Still truer than anything else that is tangible and real. The silence that wakes me up at nights. The silence that comes from within. Like a secret. Like a smile. Across the ocean. Into unknown continent.

As I am driving on a highway by myself I fall into silence. It is late at night. And I have been drinking wine with my friends. And now all I can feel is silence. The beauty of the night and silence.

Live near the ocean

IMG_4198Live near the ocean. Walk under the rain. Buy flowers. Buy flowers often for yourself and for others. Smile at people. Go to cafes and work from there. Look around. Look people in the eyes. Travel a lot. Travel to the end of the world.

Life is just that. It is now. Do not think about what you did wrong. Do not analyze your errors. Do not try to “learn” anything from your mistakes. We never learn from analyzing logically our past. Our past is us. Our future decisions will include our past experiences. Those decisions will be made in less than a second. What we did before will be used on the subconscious level, without us even knowing it.

Our life is defined by decisions we make. By our ability to make decisions. And our body and mind are the ones that make the decisions. Take care of your body, take care of your mind. Train them, keep them strong. Every day invest in your body and mind.

Do not think about your mistakes in the past. It will only make you a sour and resentful person. It will make you lose your faith in people, it will make you be small, and it will not help you build anything new. It will not make you love more, trust more, enjoy your life more.

Your day is today. Right now. Love the person you are when you wake up in the morning. Love the person you are when you go to sleep at night. You will build great things if you look towards the future.

Enjoy the sun on your skin. Love the sound of the waves. Walk on the border of the ocean. Feel the cold water. Step on the shells. Play music. Play music every day, for yourself. Always have fresh flowers at home. Look at the sky. Notice the rain on your face. Tell people you love them. Not just tell, show them. Hug longer than usual. Do small things that matter. Travel, love, build, smile, laugh.

And live near the ocean…

Repeating

I need to play a song at least 100 times on the violin to make it sound “ok”. I need to practice more than 100 times any jiu-jitsu or kick-boxing move, and this just to get it a little bit right. Not even close to perfection.

When I hear a great talk that I want to incorporate in my work or when I read a page of a business book that will be groundbreaking for what I do, why do I just read it once? My mind probably needs to hear it more than 100 times to make it mine.

I will listen this TED talk by Simon Sinek around 100 times in the next 3 or 4 months to make it part of my performance.  I will see if this helps building the technique.

A gift

Today there was absolutely no traffic on our way from kids’ school to MMA. Thus, we arrived one hour earlier. I had one extra hour of training and it felt like a gift. It was a gift. We are not entitled to anything. Everything we take for granted is such a gift.

Being able to play violin is a gift. Because I only started doing it a year ago and I have been practicing almost every day since. This time, this ability to practice, this motivation are a gift. Desire to play is a gift. I love that I take the violin and listen to the sounds it makes and it still enchants me. It is like having my head on somebody’s shoulder and listening to beautiful stories from the insider point of view.

Being able to practice jiu-jitsu and kick-boxing is a gift too. None of us is entitled to it. It is great to have people around who want to practice with you, to have the arms and the legs and the body that is so akin to sport. It is great to be able to come here every day. Because it builds you up, it gives you energy, willpower and it helps you to work on your goals in all areas in life.  Still, it is not granted to all of us and I appreciate every hour I can train.

It is a gift to be able to see and meet people every day. Some of them we meet daily, at work, at school, some of them not so often. It is a gift to see them, to hug them, to see them smile, to talk to them. Their time and words are a gift to us. Nobody owes us anything. We do not owe anything to anybody. Everything that we make happen is a gift.

To work at our jobs and on our projects is a gift. To have problems and to solve them is a gift too.

I was in the changing room at MMA and I told somebody after training, “There was no traffic, so I arrived one hour earlier and it feels like a gift.” Because this is exactly how it felt.