Monthly Archives: January 2008

Exploring the Backstreets in Barcelona

I’ve been involved in long meetings for the last three days. Our meeting room was down in the basement which meant there were no windows to the outside. After being couped up during most of the daylight hours for these three days, I decided to have a nice walk alone, outside, in the sun and air when we got off early today (4:15 p.m.).

I walked a little over two miles north of my hotel (Meliá Barcelona) through the back and side streets. I wanted to get a little bit of the feel of the neighborhoods in the area. The first half of the walk was mostly uphill. I found several small parks and ended up a nice park called Turó de Monterols.

There’s nothing quite like some fresh air, sun and exercise to adjust your attitude. It’s important to listen when our body, heart, mind or soul give us some guidance. It’s usually beneficial. I’m glad I listened today.

Have a great day!

Michael

Barcelona Cooking Class

It’s been a long two days of meetings. Tonight, we all went to a place near La Boquiria, which is the largest open market in Spain and I believe in all of Europe. Lots and lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, chocolate, meat, fish, cheese and etc. Very busy place. We had a tour here first and then walked to the back where the cooking class was located.

We started by making fresh Sangria from scratch. Very tasty and easy to make!

We had a starter dish made from salt cured codfish. Unfortunately I cannot remember the name. Basically, it is made from green and red bell peppers, onions with balsamic vinegar, re-hydrated salt cured cod fish, olive oil, black olives and parsley. The ingredients are layered with the fish and olive oil on top and served at room temperature.

Our main course was a paella made from chicken, pork, mussels, three types of shrimp, bell peppers, onions, olive oil and rice. It took about 1 1/2 hours to make but it was spectacular.

Our dessert consisted of peeled whole pears cooked in a red wine sauce sweetened with sugar, cinnamon and other spices. This was cooked over a low flame until the wine mixture made its way inside the pear. Very sweet with a wonderful flavor.

We had a lot of fun. It was probably one of the better corporate “events” I’ve ever gone to.

Michael

Barcelona Tapas with Friends

Tonight we ate at a fabulous restaurant called Taller De Tapas. The amount of food was outrageous even considering the number of people we had on this outing. I’m so stuffed right now, I can barely remain conscious. Sad but true.

I have to say though that every item (except one for me) was outstanding. We shared 18 tapas dishes with generous portions of water, wine, liquor, beer and coffee. I’m listing the menu of all the dishes we ate for dramatic purposes only.

Course 1:

Toasted coca bread from Vic with Tomato and extra virgin olive oil
Tomato and Nuri’s goat’s cheese salad
Oven roasted red pepper, sweet onion and aubergine with anchovies
Cured acorn ham from Jabugo

Course 2:

Cured acorn ham croquettes
Malagan style baby squid
Fried potatoes with a spicy paprika sauce and garlic mayonnaise
Cod fritters

Course 3:

Sautéed seasonal wild mushrooms
Grilled green asparagus with extra virgin oil and Maldon salt
Pan fried chickpeas with spinach and Galician pancetta
Steamed mussels

Course 4:

Sizzling king prawns cooked in a clay pot with garlic and chili
Grilled Catalan farmhouse sausage with white beans from Santa Pau
Grilled squid
Chorizos braised in Asturian cider

Desert:

Crema catalana (Crème brûlée)
Fresh fruit soup (fresh fruit cup)

Dinner started at 9:00 p.m. which is really typical for Spain and lasted until midnight. I believe it will take several days to recover from this one. :-)

Have a great day!

Michael

Walking the Streets of Barcelona

We walked about 8 miles today through the streets of Barcelona. It’s a great walking city. Our starting place was near the Pl. Francesc Macia on the Av. Diagonal. Since most of us had not slept crossing the Atlantic, the first order of business was espresso.

Our walk took us down the Av. Diagonal to Pg. Gracia, a main thoroughfare that goes to the Mediterranean. After we reached La Rambla, our walk became more leisurely so that we could enjoy the street performers and peruse the many vendors along the sides of the street. We found a fantastic fresh market that was full of every kind of vegetable, fruit, nut, cheese, meat that you could imagine. I wonder what this place is like on a Saturday as many of the small shops were closed.

Lunch was at a small tapas bar. We tried about 10 different dishes. Very nice plus we were starving. After meandering around the very narrow streets in this part of Barcelona, we decided to walk to the Sagrada Familia, which is under construction. Gaudi started this church early in the 20th century, but it was never finished. It is a massive building with a very unusual style. Quite stunning to see up close.

Please view the travel snapshots from my walk. You’ll see many of the places we visited.

Michael

Treasure Maps

I recently had the pleasure of meeting with local Art Therapist/Yoga Instructor Andrea Atherton-Nollet and four other creative souls for a few hours of treasure mapping.

Andrea presented insights from Lynn Siprelle  who discusses the art of treasure mapping and her treasure mapping process.  She writes of its role in her life in creating visual pictures of things she wanted and how after 15 years, it all has come true.

Although we were a small group, we intently focused on the task at Andrea’s art table.  Tearing magazines, drawing with pastels, and cutting with scissors, we searched for pictures of the Eiffel Tower, discussed the recent talk we heard by Caroline Myss and created our 2008 Treasure Maps.

I hung mine up immediately in my office when I got home.  Never one to declare myself an artist, the circular shape is unusual for me, with the outside representing my outer self and the inner part representing my quiet, secret inner self.  Parts of it continue to roll around my head.  Each day I see it inviting me to move, step, even jump in the direction where the pictures and words beckon. I’m sometimes slow to approach things. Maybe that will change this year.

Namaste’

[If you’re interested in pursuing this creative method for manifesting, many suggestions are available online.]

Spain is 15

I’m on my way to Spain this evening and will arrive by 10:00 a.m. tomorrow. This marks the 15th country I’ve visited. One of my “goals” before I die is to visit 100 countries. I have a quite a ways to go, but that’s not a problem at all. Barcelona is my actual destination in Spain. I’ve wanted to visit this city for several years. I’m actually surprised it has taken this long for me to get here. :-)

Travel has become one of my passions. My current job has allowed me to fulfill a lot of my travel desires and quest for adventure. Or to look at it another way, I have engineered my career to satisfy my travel needs.

My anticipation level increases dramatically as I board the plane. I love the feeling. I’m fulfilling a big goal of mine, having a new adventure, seeing new sights and experiencing new things. For me, it doesn’t get much better than this.

As an added bonus, I got upgraded to business class on the leg of the trip from Boston to Frankfurt. That’s always welcome! It makes the almost 7 hour flight much more bearable. And it’s a real treat for me as I typically fly economy when I travel to Europe.

Remember that you can find adventure anywhere you want. Just go to a place you have never been; i.e. another city, state, country, museum, park and etc. All you need to do is get out of the house. Expand your horizons. You’ll enjoy it.

More on Barcelona later this week.

Have a great day!

Michael

Things Could Be Different

Stop the mindless wishing that things would be different. Rather than wasting time and emotional and spiritual energy in explaining why we don’t have what we want, we can start to pursue other ways to get it. – Greg Anderson

You probably know someone who thinks like this. A lot of people (I used to be one of the worst) tend to complain or try to explain that all of their unfulfilled desires are due to external reasons. The human mind has an infinite capacity to justify anything. It’s quite amazing how we can convince ourselves that we have no part or responsibility in our current situation.

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I believe we are completely responsible and have total control over the course of our lives. I resisted this concept for most of my life. I found it much easier to blame anything else for my problems. I found it much easier to believe that the world was giving me a bad life. The idea that I had control was too much for me to handle. I couldn’t accept responsibility as this would mean I was the sole reason for all the “problems” in my life.

How did I get out of this mental block? I started to focus on what I wanted. I shifted my thoughts to what I desired to do or be. I thought less about fixing problems than I did about doing something I would rather do. Over time, this subtle change of thinking, produced results that have made my life much better.

This shift in thinking is important. Instead of viewing my problems as challenges or things that needed fixing, I focused on doing something I enjoyed. Instead of thinking about the lack of money, I started thinking about what it would be like to have money. What would I do different? How would my life change? Instead of thinking about the lack of a relationship, I started thinking about how much I liked myself.

War is another good example. Thinking about war or thinking about how we stop war keeps us in the mindset of war. Thinking about peace completely changes our direction. What I’m trying to say is that thinking about a problem or thinking about how to solve a problem produces the same result. The problem persists. But replacing that thinking with something else, something that makes you feel better, happier or doing something that feels better will work wonders. As you focus on what you enjoy, desire or want you generate hope, good feelings and thoughts. Your “problem” slowly dissolves because you aren’t focused on it anymore.

As I got used to thinking this way, it became easier, just like anything else. To summarize…..Dreaming about having more money is more beneficial than thinking about not having any money. Visualizing your perfect relationship is better than thinking about being lonely. Practice. Practice. Practice.

Have a great day!

Michael

Opportunity

Opportunity often comes disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat. – Napoleon Hill

I’m a firm believer in this philosophy. In fact, I think it’s more than a philosophy. I believe it is a fundamental “law” that most people either don’t know about or can’t see when they are in the middle of a crisis.

Misfortune, temporary defeat and other types of crisis events in our lives are messages that something needs to change. The stories of many successful people (not just financially successful) typically start with a challenge, problem, crisis or etc. from where they make some change in their life. This “change” propels them towards the success they are now famous for. The misfortune or failure was the pivotal moment. What they did different than most was view this strained period of their lives as an opportunity for renewed creativity, a different mode of thinking or a chance to change outmoded belief systems.

It has taken most of my life to fully appreciate what Napoleon Hill so eloquently states. When events happen now that would be judged as bad, misfortunate or viewed as a defeat, I am able to quickly get back into a positive viewpoint.

You can do this to. When “bad” things happen to you, take the opportunity to review your life. Do you have out of date beliefs that can be adjusted? Have you been following some sort of negative behavior pattern repeatedly? Are you really unhappy in your current situation but need a kick in the rear to make a change? Are you not doing something you love because of other “responsibilities”?

Opportunity is as close as you want or think it to be. Foster this belief and watch your life change. Remember we are supposed to be having fun and enjoying our life.

Have a great day!

Michael

Variety in Life

Variety’s the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavor. – William Cowper

We’ve all heard this quote and I bet a lot of you say it periodically. But, do you follow the advice? Are you a proponent of this most basic belief? Do you watch others enjoying life’s richness, but take no action yourself?

I’m a huge believer in trying lots of different things. I use to think this philosophy was only for children, but it really is important for all ages. Variety is one of the secrets of happiness. As we try many different things, we become excited about what we are doing. Our minds become more active and clear. A sense of euphoria can develop just because of the newness of the activity.

I think the real benefit is that we find people, activities, places, food, hobbies, passions and a host of other items that we end up really enjoying. If you don’t try a bunch of different things than you may miss out on some very fun times. That’s what it is all about; having fun and exploring the world.

So, step out of that rut you’ve been digging and try something; anything different. It doesn’t have to be big. Try something small.  But, everyday think of things to do that you either don’t ever do, have never tried or have always been curious about. Then, once a week or some other time period that you like, go and try out your ideas. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the transformation that happens inside.

Have a great day!

Michael

Fun with the Guitar

It is better to create than to be learned, creating is the true essence of life – Barthold Georg Niebuhr

Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things. – Ray Bradbury

I started taking guitar lessons last October 7th. I have a fantastic guitar teacher who keeps me quite challenged. I’ve had to deal with feelings of intimidation at least initially, but not really any more. What’s really fulfilling is that the past few months of lessons and practicing are starting to pay off. I’m working on two guitar pieces that are still quite small in duration but I like the sound and the flow of the melodies. I talked to my teacher today about adding and expanding what I had created. It was a great discussion that encompassed a lot of the theory and techniques he had been teaching me. I got some great ideas on how take my new creations in some other directions. I’m having a lot of fun.

The creative process has always been a little challenging for me whether I’m playing music, taking photographs or writing. I’m learning how much you have to “let go”, stop thinking and allow the creative process work on its own. I liken it to going on a ride and enjoying the scenery. I’m also discovering that creating requires you to open up and bare yourself. That’s difficult for me. But, bearing your soul is what makes the creation real. It doesn’t really matter whether your creation is “judged” good or bad by others. The important part is to create. So, here I am today creating, sharing the creation, generating new ideas plus being excited about the entire process.

Life is good.

Michael