Sunday, 22 December 2013

Three films

During 2013 I started to hang out with a bunch of lovely people who are initially the gang of friends of a good friend of mine. She got married like a year ago now and the stuff for her wedding was all DIY. During  quite a few months all her crowd  gathered in my living room to make table decorations, the bridesmaids’ fascinators, her wedding bouquet, etc. Apart from her wedding we had picnics, afternoon tea parties, dinner parties, outings, etc.That is how they’ve become more than just acquaintances. They all love films and most of the times they end up talking about their favorite characters, their favorite whatever from films they love. I got very curious about the topic and listened but sometimes I didn’t get their point because I haven’t seen most of the films they mentioned. It’s important to highlight here, I have issues with screens: I hardly ever watch TV, I don’t go to the cinema, I never rent films or watch them at home or pay Netflix. Perhaps I’m missing a purpose for watching them or I have never bothered to watch something good enough to sit for some hours without doing anything else but watching.

So, just for the fun of learning something new, I asked each one of them to make a list of three films for me. I tried to watch the three movies during a month like in a special season. After watching each movie I tried to jot down whatever comes to my mind as a way of automatic writing. Then, I gathered the rough notes from the three movies to write a monthly entry in my blog. Watching  would not be just watching but an excuse for writing...but 2014 passed by and I just watched the 3 films by Hayao Miyazaki... and I did write an entry in my blog, that you can read here, but ... I didn´t get hooked by these kind of movies... so I dropped.

Now, it's January 2015 again and here I am again flirting with these movies to see if I get hooked by any of them:





  • Rashomon, el bosque ensangrentado (1950) by Akira Kurosawa
  • La guerra de las galaxias(1977) by George Lucas
  • Computer Chess (2013) by Andrew Bujalski

  • L.A. Confidential (1997) by Curtis Hanson
  • "The Man Who Would Be King" (1975) by John Huston
  • "Some Like It Hot" (1959) by Billy Wilder

  • Faces (1968) by John Cassavettes
  • The night of the living dead (1968) by George Romero

  • "Stranger Than Paradise" (1984) by Jim Jarmusch

  • 500 days of summer
  • Little Miss Sunshine
  • Habana Blues



  • Poetry (2010) by Lee Chang Dong
  • La grande bellezza (2013) by Paolo Sorrentino
  • Dolls (2002) by Takeshi Kitano




  • American Beauty (1999) by Sam Mendes
  • El diario de Bridget Jones (2001) By Sharon Maguire
  • Flashdance (1983) by Adrian Lyne




  • Fearless (1993) by Peter Weir
  • Heaven (2002) by Tom Tykwer
  • Persécution (2009) by Patrice Chéreau



  • The age of inocence (1993) by Martin Scorsese
  • Atonement (2007) by Joe Wright
  • A serious man (2009) by Cohen Brothers



  • Let the right one in (2008) by Tomas Alfredson
  • In the mood for love (2000) by Kar Wai Wong
  • Blade Runner (1982) by Ridley Scott



  • Manhattan (1979) by Woody Allen
  • Blue velvet (1986) by David Lynch
  • Tideland (2005) by Terry Gilliam



  • Alien (1979) by Ridley Scott
  • Hunger (2008) by Steve Mcqueen
  • Colmillo (2009) by Giorgios Lanthimos



  • Waltz With Bashir (2008) by  Ari Folman and Justin Edgar
  • To Rome with Love (2012) or Midnight in Paris (2011) by Woody Allen
  • Argo (2012) by Ben Affleck

  • 500 Days of summer (2009) by Marc Webb
  • Little Miss sunshine (2006) by Jonathan DaytonValerie Faris
  • Habana Blues (2005) by Benito Zambrano


  • Inside Job (2010) by Charles Ferguson
  • Summer Wars (2009) by Mamoru Osoda
  • The city of lost children (1995) by Marc Caro & Jean Pierre Jeunet

  • Melancholia (2011) by Lars Von Trier
  • The Congress (2013) by Ari Folman
  • The Tree of life (2011) by Terrence Malick

  • Kiki la hechicera (1989) by Hayao Miyazaki
  • EL viaje de Chihiro (2001) by Hayao Miyazaki
  • Mi vecino Totoro. (1988) by Hayao Miyazaki




  • Thursday, 19 December 2013

    De cómo lidiar con la valentupidez



    El pasado 28 de Noviembre asistí por primera vez a una sesión de Creative Mornings. Esto es una serie de conferencias mañaneras en las cuales uno va y desayuna mientras escucha a algún experto en procesos creativos y después se queda a conocer gente que está en la misma onda: escuchando y aprendiendo. Entonces, una vez al mes y el mismo día en distintas ciudades del mundo, se habla del mismo tema. En esta ocasión, bravery.


    La conferencista, Carolina Leyva, tradujo esa palabra como valentía. Y comenzó la charla con un concepto bien curioso: La Valentupidez: Ese oscilar entre la valentía y la estupidez que se experimenta al correr riesgos. Muy didácticamente, Carolina explicó las distintas fases de la valentupidez: el miedo, la incertidumbre, el evaluar el riesgo y el salto al vacío. Esto último puede ser más valiente o más estúpido dependiendo de qué tan bien se evalúen los riesgos.


    Tan pronto ella terminó esa explicación, se me vinieron a la mente todas las veces que yo había sido muy valiente y las que había sido muy estúpida en el trabajo, con los chicos y en mi escritura. Ahí me conecté otra vez con Carolina Leyva. El proceso creativo de un diseñador implica saltar al vacío del mismo modo que un escritor cuando intenta escribir una historia verosímil o un ensayo coherente. Se siente el mismo el miedo, la misma incertidumbre cuando a uno se le ocurre una idea y luego de muchos borradores y de dejar añejar el texto, uno evalúa  el riesgo al editar y editar. Finalmente uno salta al vacío publicando de algún modo: entregando el artículo, en el blog, regalándole el texto a alguien, leyendo la tarea en voz alta, etc. Y sí, uno puede acercarse a la estupidez o a la valentía. Pero ¿cómo acercarse a la segunda?

    La estrategia que ella propuso fue la empatía. Empatía. Sorprendente me pareció por dos cosas. La primera, por los diferentes pasos necesarios para lograrla. Me quedó claro que no es algo mágico y que es congénito. Es decir, todos podemos usar la empatía para resolver cosas si hacemos lo siguiente:

    1. Tener la voluntad para empezar. Decidir comenzar un proceso.
    2. Meterse en el cuento. Investigar. Preguntar. Usar herramientas de otros campos del conocimiento si es necesario para conseguir la información que se necesita. No recuerdo si fue ella o algún asistente quien nombró la etnografía como una forma de conocer el grupo objetivo para el que estaba diseñando en un proyecto. Tambien dio el ejemplo de cómo una diseñadora de 24 años, creo, se había vestido y vivido como una mujer de 60 años durante 3 años para poder diseñar productos para el adulto mayor. Con todos estos ejemplos entendí que este paso sirve simplemente para romper los prejuicios que uno como creativo pueda tener sobre lo que está creando.
    3. Luego de "hastiarse" de toda esa información, es necesario alejarse de la cuestión que se busca resolver. La distancia permite tener una visión completa del problema a resolver o del sujeto para quien se diseña. Es muy importante reconocer cuándo tomar distancia. Si no se toma distancia, el que trata de crear o dar una solución tambien se vuelve parte del problema.
    4. Responder con una solución, un producto, una historia que se acerque más a la valentía que a la estupidez. Carolina Leyva ilustró este proceso desde el punto de vista de una diseñadora y del y de lo que tuvo que hacer para producir un juego de cartas que le ayudaban a niñas, que debían hacerse un test Papanicolau, a hablar de su sexualidad frente a sus padres y médicos.

    Mientra ella contaba cómo logró crear este juego de cartas, a mí se me ocurrían todas las veces que me había acercado más a la estupidez que a la valentía por saltarme alguno de estos pasos al escribir. Encontrar lugares comunes en el proceso creativo de ella y el mío me hizo sentir un poco menos extraña entre todos los diseñadores, ilustradores, arquitectos o artistas visuales que la escuchaban también. Y también me hizo pensar que el proceso creativo puede tener los mismos obstáculos para todo el que lo intenta así que, si traduzco la empatía a mi escritura, sonaría así:

    Lo más dificil de la escritura es decidirse a escribir. Aún no entiendo bien como es que mi mente pone tanta resistencia a simplemente teclear o escribir palabras claves en un papel para empezar a escribir. Muchos pensamientos con cara de excusa se atraviesan y siempre, siempre hay alguna razón para postergar la tarea de garabatear por primera vez en una hoja en blanco o teclear las primeras palabras en un procesador de palabra. Cuando al fin me decido a escribir, entonces me doy cuenta que no sé nada del tema en cuestión. Tengo que leer otros libros o historias con las mismas temáticas, cómo un autor presenta un personaje en una historia, tengo que preguntar, investigar. En ese punto entiendo por qué sentía tanta resistencia. El trabajo es inimaginable. Y ya despues de empezar a investigar y descubrir cosas, es imposible parar. Lo único que queda es empezar a hacer borradores, escribir, "hastiarse" mucho de toda esa información que se ha recogido y que se está produciendo. 

    En algún punto, es necesario decidir cuando dejar de corregir. Usualmente es una fecha límite, porque en realidad editar un texto propio es de nunca acabar. Jamás estará lo suficientemente esto o lo otro pero tomar distancia es vital. Eso en un texto de creación literaria, puede que tome una semana, 6 meses, 1 año o 10 años. Sólo al cabo de ese tiempo, realmente se vuelve a mirar un texto propio con nuevos ojos, según le escuché a alguien experto en el tema. Para mí, es ponerse en los zapatos del lector y dejarse llevar por las palabras como si se leyeran por primera vez. Es ahí cuando saltan a la vista los desaciertos, las frases enredadas, la puntuación confusa, y todos los detalles delatores de eso que debo evitar al investigar: dar por hecho que el lector ya sabe lo que quiero decir. Y otra vez a editar y arreglar. Después de todo ese trabajo, no queda más que tomar una decisión todavía más difícil que la primera: dar a conocer el resultado de ese proceso. Pero no termina ahí. Ya después de publicado, entregado o leído el texto, es necesario olvidarse y dejarlo ir porque ya no se puede controlar cómo toma vida en las mentes de los lectores. La pregunta que me asalta es ¿Será que hasta esto último es empatía también?



    Para mí, esta charla sobre el proceso creativo me ha dado una herramienta muy positiva para no rendirme al escribir y que si aprendo a usarla en mi proceso de escritura creativa, puede que me acerque más a la valentía que a la estupidez: Empatía conmigo misma, con el otro, con el lector, con las ideas, con los personajes, con las palabras. 

    Gracias por la empatía, Carolina Leyva.




    Tuesday, 26 November 2013

    What a childhood memory can teach

    Born in Garagoa, a little town in the Andean area in Colombia, I spent most of my childhood in my grandparents' farm. That has been my initial fuel to start telling stories..."  That is how I introduce myself in my blog. Among all the stories I have to tell about my place of origin there is one that has been ringing in my head lately...and it has to do with my grandfather and an issue that is quite problematic nowadays: financial education and financial freedom

    So here's the story:

    My grandfather was a farmer who never went to school. He married my grandmother without having absolutely anything. They lived in a piece of land owned by my great-granfather which, after a few years, was inherited by my grandfather. That was how people, at that time, would ensure coming generations' financial independence: Inheritance. A will. It was 1940 in a rural area where most of the land was still virgin forests and the process of colonization was just beginning. From what I have heard form my Mom and my Grandma, my grandfather's big dream was to have lots of pasture land where fat cattle could graze calmly. That was his dream. He was determined to get it. And this is how he did it: He delegated all domestic expenses to my grandmother. That means she worked during 75 years from dawn to dusk to provide the family with food, clothing, pocket money, health, savings, etc. She woke up early to milk cows, feed the hens, cook for workers, make cheese, feed the pigs, and most important of all: raise the calves. When these calves were fat enough, my grandfather would sell them and save the money he got from that transaction. My grandmother never saw a cent from those transactions. She would just work harder and harder to make ends meet. She did the same for about 75 years. Never stopped. Never complained. When my grandfather gathered enough money, he bought the first piece of land to a former landlord. And he started to take the calves my grandmother raised to graze in that pasture land. The calves became heavier so they were worth more money. He sold them, kept the money and replaced them with more calves that my Grandmother raised at home. 

    This cycle lasted for 75 years and developed many traditions that make most of my childhood memories: baking huge amounts of corn bread, harvest corn, beans, green peas, sugar cane milling seasons, among many other customs that my parents still talk about. This cycle brought so much abundance and financial prosperity that my grandfather started to become a "chieftain". He even got famous as one of the richest farmers in the town. By the time he was 55 years old, he decided not to work anymore. He had achieved his dream of owning pasture lands full of fat cattle and he retired without knowing exactly what retirement meant. He just stopped working and expected everyone around him to take care of him as if he were a king. And everybody did. My uncle took care of the lands and cattle, my grandmother continued working to raise cattle and my mother took care of my grandfather's health until he died. I thought of him as a dictator. A cruel person who didn't care a damn about his family, about his wife who had sacrificed herself to make his fortune grow. There's nothing left now. It was a net worth that got lost in a painful inheritance process that tore away the family too.

    My grandfather never went to school. He was totally iliterate. The only thing he could write was his name to sign important documents in the bank and the like. My question has been always the same: how come he did not study to figure out how to make a fortune? How did he become prosperous? How come all the books I read at university did not teach me how to charge properly for my lessons? My grandfather had the vision to have a dream and achieve it no matter if he had difficulties. They were not even limiting conditions. He could overcome them and achieve what he wanted and retire early. Did he have any kind of financial education? No. Did anyone teach him how to save? Unsure.

    That question was quite puzzling until 3 weeks ago. Three weeks ago, I watched a video about how to thrive financially by Tony Robbins. This is an inspirational speaker who has caused great impact in many people's lives with his testimony and his speeches. Well, in the video I'm telling you, he explains that in order to finance our dreams we have to put our money in three baskets. I'll call "The vital basics" to the first basket. Here you should invest your money in your basic living expenses: housing, food, transportation, clothing, basic entertainment. From all your income, you should spend less than what you earn in your Vital Basics basket and keep what's left. This difference should be kept in a second basket and re-invested it somehow so that your savings grow. When your savings become profitable, you should re-invest the profits so they grow. The idea here is to multiply your savings so that your money works for you. When you have accumulated enough, then and only then, you are ready to spend your multiplied savings into a dream of yours: the house of your dreams, that trip to Bahamas, that farm with a pool and a cottage, your postgraduate degree, etc. And that's what my grandfather did!! He started to save money from the daily expenses, then saved until he had enough to buy some land, then reinvested the profits of his cattle sales until he accumulated enough to buy the lands he dreamed of. And thanks to my grandmother, he made sure there was a steady income. 

    When I realised about this, I got really surprised at how I have been spending my savings I keep from my Vital Basics basket into my "big dreams" like travelling or studying right away, without re-investing my savings so they grow and become profitable by themselves. After 10 years teaching, my main assets in my net worth are my travel journals. When I read them, I still feel the joy of discovery and astonishment of seeing new landscapes and meeting new people. But I spent it all! I didn't keep anything left for my future dreams. When I saved up money to go to England for example, I never thought I was going to feel my dreams were over. I never considered that I had to re-invent myself and find another path in my career. Since I never considered this, I never saved from my savings. That is what my Grandfather didn't do. My question is: how come he knew what to do to e.g. retire early without studying a book and me, after long years at university, having read lots of stuff and after having "seen" the world, I didn't have the vision to afford a change in my career and not even an early retirement? How come is that? How come attending university is not enough anymore to make a decent living?

    These are changing times. Thanks to technology, Internet, globalization and therefore mobility, the possibilities to make a living are endless and they go way beyond from attending university. Actually, most of the skills to become financially free are not taught at school (in Tony robbins' words, creating a money making machine that gives you the chance to work because you like it and you want it and not because you need it). Thanks God there are now tons of resources to get some financial education. We need to learn how to manage money, how to make it grow so it works for us and not viceverza. Steady salaries are no longer a guarantee for happiness, joy or freedom. Steady salaries are becoming quite the opposite now: golden cages where people have to sacrifice their free time, their personal life, their dreams just for a steady income. How come is that? My grandfather never had a situation like that. He had very different conditions and different times and he succeeded. I also want to suceed. I want financial freedom in these changing, complex times. What do I have to do to achieve it? That is what I am figuring out now. If I think about financial education twice, I think it would become a really useful subject that needs to be included urgently in Kingergartens, Primary, Secondary schools and Universities. Financial education and emotional education but that last topic would make another full blog entry...




    Monday, 28 October 2013

    Review: The Book under my Pillow.

    There's this book under my pilllow. It's been there since I finished reading it. It's a reminder to keep present all I have to do to feel aligned with my higher self and proudly alive. Fully. Fearlessly. Those words have become my compass. They are my ultimate goal in life no matter if they change with time or evolve.

    Before having that compass I had a list of goals to achieve in life. I started writing goals when I was 11 years old. In my hometown there was no university and neither of my parents had university education, however I wrote in my diary: I want to go to university no matter what. No matter why. When I was 20 years old, while in college, I wrote a list of professional, personal, and financial goals. I achieved some of them: got a university degree, worked for universities, traveled abroad, met people from distant latitudes...

    And when I achieved all those things, especially when I got back from England after a 2 year stay, I felt I was done. I was going through a not nice reverse-culture-shock phase and I started doubting about everything. My list of goals started to feel pointless because I didn't quite know why I wanted them. I began questioning myself about what, I reckoned, would allow me make a living for my entire life: teaching. It didn't make sense anymore and I couldn't get rid of this unconfortable sensation of chasing goals like a gerbil in a wheel. I felt trapped.  So, I quit my day job and started working as an entrepeneur. At the same time I got to know about Danielle Laporte and bought her book The Fire Starter Sessions. That was like an appetizzer for what was to come from her sleeve: The Desire Map.

    When reading The Desire Map, I got to understand why I felt like a gerbil in a wheel. I started to see my non-sense goal chasing race. I, myself,  had hung a carrot in front of me to chase it and the carrot was my list of goals. In order to get them I was ignoring my feelings, I was denying my intuition. My rationality had invalidated my intuition so badly, that I stopped believing my feelings could be the path to connect with my soul. And being connected with my soul is what really makes me happy, what brings me joy.  Not any consumerist goal or what Colombians conceive as success: a lot of money, a Masters degree, a house, a car, a marriage, a family, a farm. The Desire Map and Danielle Laporte's words have helped me validate my feelings and my intuition as THE compass to make choices, to say no, to say yes.

    The Desire Map has also helped me realize how hungry of recognition I was. Probably I still am but before reading the Desire Map, I hadn't accepted it. And this is how I found out: In one of the many exercises from the book, I had to choose those adjectives that indicated how I wanted to feel regarding an aspect of your life. I selected adjectives that ended in -ing form. She clarified that picking those those -ing form adjectives meant doing things to get validated by people around me. I realized I had done it during my entire life: doing and doing, proving, striving in order to get a pat on my back. And my goals had been written under that exhausting logics but I hadn't realized about it. That was the unconfortable feeling I had after getting back from England. That was why I felt trapped like a gerbil in a wheel and the Desire Map helped me notice. And that noticing felt amazing, the least to say.

    Writing this review is another step in a long journey that started when reading and re-reading the Desire Map: It has meant turning a light where there was only darkness. And the story of the adjectives is only a window that has been lit up in the huge building of my subconscious. No matter if it's Danielle Laporte's words or my own writing in the workbook describing what creative bliss feels like, for example. This book is where I find inspiration and courage to carry on. This book also reminds me that a Masters degree or a house or a marriage is not what makes me happy, but the feelings I get when I try to pursue them. The Desire Map is like a pit stop to get the fuel, to stay tuned with my core desire feelings. And that is why this book is under my pillow and won't be archived in my bookcase any soon.


    In case you would like to read the book and share what it does in your mind, your spirit and your heart, check this out: the Desire Book Club Bogota

    Sunday, 13 January 2013

    Sartorialist-ish


     



    Medellin, Antioquia

    October 14th, 2011


    Yesterday evening I went to bed really early. I was completely knackered. So, I woke up early this morning, did my TEFL homework and arranged private lessons to survive this coming month in the internet cafe at the hostel. Feeling kind of weirdo for working at such early bird hours, I headed to the city center. At Poblado metro station, I tasted a very weird fruit: a mix of guava berry and pear. Tasty but still felt my stomach rumbling. So I checked the map and remembered I had been advised to visit Santa Helena bakery. It's a very traditional place in Medellin where baked goods are extremely nice. After asking for directions and having my coffee, I decided to take a walking tour in the area and ended up in Parque de la Luz. It was sunny and hot. There were performers, jugglers and skateboarders playing their tricks. I stared at them from the top of EPM library and their outfits made me think they make a good shot for a website like the Sartorialist or something. A pic. The maximum answer I could get from them was no if I dared to asked them. And that was not enough excuse to stay up there just looking. 


    Off I went to take my Sartorialist-ish photo. I approached them slowly like a meerkat, I'm exaggerating here, and asked right away if I could take a pic. Sure! they replied. I was thrilled! They reminded me of a similar picture I took in Sao Paulo, Brasil to a complete family of skateboarders. What I like the most about taking pictures of strangers is their attittude. That is why I love the Sartorialist. I still get surprised by the amount of information a photograph can capture. I wish I had these Sartorialist-ish shots everytime I travel or go out of my place. In Bogota it is not easy to get people to pose. It's a cold and hostile city where people just don't trust or flow with strangers, I guess. But I have never dared to ask anyone to pose in the street for me. Probably, it's just a prejudice of mine and there's only one way to crack that down :)

     

     

    Sunday, 6 January 2013

    Easter 2010

    Tues, March 30th, 2010. 10 pm
    San Gil, Santander
    Weather: Cloudy, a bit chilly

    As my tripmate Monica and me had agreed yesterday, we got up early to get ready to go to Parque Nacional del Chicamocha. The travel agent's picked us up in the Inn and took us to Curití first. Curití means " town of weavers". And that is very true! Locals weave "fique" that is a natural fiber taken from a tropical plant (Angiopermae Furcraea). They make decorative items, bags, rugs, hair pins and the like. We visited a factory where locals process this fiber. This process includes shredding, washing, combing and dying. I saw all the devices they use to carry out this steps and they imply a lot of physical work! Everything is done manually. When the fiber is ready, it is given to women who are heads of household. They weave beautiful rugs, bags, earrings, necklaces. They have organized their products in different stores around the principal park of the town and a website too . So nice to see people getting together to make a business work!

     
    After Curití, we headed to Parque Nacional del Chicamocha. When we got there, it started to rain, RAIN! Then it was not just rain, it was pouring and foggy! The idea of visiting this place is to get a great view of the Chicamocha Canyon which is one of the biggest in the world! And it was thickly foggy and cloudy. We couldn't see a thing after taking the cable to climb up 6.3 Km to Mesa de los Santos, a view point where we could have an astonishing view of the canyon but I got astonished by the thickness of the fog and the chilly wind up there. The same had happned to Monica when she visited the Grand Canyon in Arizona, US. Tough Luck, I thought. Nevermind. We had to wait in a shop for 2 long hours until the rain stopped and the cable car started working again. The sky cleared up and Monica could take some pictures, finally. We were relieved to see at least the Chicamocha river in a misty foggy mood.

    After this cold, rainy visit to this park, we visited another town called Aratoca. Another little town with nice colonial architecture. We stopped to taste the typical bread here but we didn't find it nice so we took loads of pictures. We wanted to do some people watching but I think the locals did some good people watching with us instead :) We got back to San Gil for dinner time. With dried clothes on and completely knackered, we went to look for dinner and our day was over. Hopefully tomorrow won't rain!