A principios de semana, recibí una carta de una lectora Fearless. Recibir esta carta fue un regalo inesperado. Un regalo que no sabía que necesitaba y no solo por las palabras. Para mí, escribirle una carta a alguien, es uno de los más grandes elogios y muestras de atención que le podemos dar a una persona.
El hecho de sentarnos frente a una computadora o un cuaderno, con una persona en la mente mientras buscamos las palabras que realmente expresan lo que sentimos, es realmente un acto de amor. Les comparto mi carta de respuesta con la intención de inspirarlos este fin de semana a escribirle una tarjeta o carta a una persona especial.
Creo que si nos parecemos mucho. ¿Sabes? Como bien lo dijiste en la última línea de tu carta, somos dos mujeres tratando de ser un poquito mejor de lo que fuimos ayer. Un libro, una conversación o un algo no te cambian la vida de un día para otro. ¿Te imaginas que fuera así de simple? La suma de muchos libros, de muchas conversaciones con personas valiosas, la suma de muchos ALGOS sí, nos pueden inspirar y nos pueden dar fuerza para ir construyendo cada día–quien queremos ser.
Uno de esos algos importantes, es el conocernos. Conocer quienes somos, conocer nuestros sentimientos, nombrarlos. Pedir ayuda si no los podemos nombrar. Sos muy valiente. Tener el valor de conocernos realmente (Con todo. Lo simple y lo complicado. Las partes que brillan por si solas y las otras donde necesitamos un foquito que nos guíe.) es uno de los actos más valientes.
Gracias por tus palabras. Gracias por contarme tu historia. En este año tan duro para todos, tus palabras llegaron en un día muy triste y lleno de ansiedad para mi y me sentí mejor. Después de leerte, me sentí un poco menos triste. Me diste un regalo.
Espero que la vida, nos permita pronto encontrarnos y tomarnos un café.
Este fin de semana, bríndenle un regalo a alguien y también a ustedes. Escriban una carta.
Ayer termine de leer un libro. Me gusto mucho, lo disfrute, y lo mejor de todo es que me dejo una reflexión profunda.
En el libro, la autora describe un abrazo entre la pareja protagonista. Durante el abrazo, la protagonista tiene este pensamiento: “Siempre decimos “Todo va a salir bien”; y, aunque es una frase poderosa, optimista y una que siempre nos tenemos que repetir, esta frase es sobre el futuro. Muchas veces, se nos olvida pensar o decir: “Todo está bien”, en presente.” La escena del libro continua y la protagonista piensa que justo en ese momento, en ese abrazo con él, todo está bien.
“Todo va a salir bien” es una de mis frases favoritas. Me conforta y motiva pensar que al final de cualquier cosa, todo realmente va a salir bien. Pero, confieso, que casi nunca me detengo y digo: “Todo está bien.”
Yo soy una soñadora desde siempre, me cuesta mucho no pensar en el mañana. Y no solo en el mañana literal, sino en todas sus líneas de tiempo—en una semana, en un año, en dos, en diez. No creo que esto sea malo, pero, el hoy y el mañana al menos merecen el mismo respeto. La existencia de ambos (el hoy y el mañana) merecen reconocimiento.
Sigamos optimistas, sigamos diciendo—y sintiendo—que, “todo va a salir bien.” Pero, también apreciemos los momentos presentes donde, “todo está bien.”
Quisiera pensar que, el “todo va a salir bien” es la suma de todos esos momentos en el hoy, donde todo está bien.
Hoy, estemos atentos y reconozcamos esos momentos donde, “todo está bien.”
(En este preciso momento, son las 9:05 de la mañana y ya desayunamos. Yo estoy escribiendo este post desde la cama. Escucho a Fer a la par, en la oficina, tecleando. Todo está bien.)
Un abrazo de inspiración,
Les comparto algunas fotos que he tomado en las últimas dos semanas.
En septiembre del año pasado, mudarnos a Dinamarca se sintió como un capitulo de vida nuevo y poderoso, uno que requirió muchos ajustes no solo en perspectivas y maneras de hacer las cosas, pero también en rutinas personales. Hace un año empecé este camino como escritora—y todavía—a diario se siente como que estoy volviendo a comenzar.
El sentir de “volver a comenzar” puede ser frustrante o inspirador. En los días donde conscientemente elijo la inspiración sobre el sentimiento de frustración, siento una paz que es difícil de describir, la paz que me dice: “Marce, todo va a salir bien.”
A pesar de ese sentimiento de paz tan reconfortante y bonito; ciertos días debo confesar que me he dejado llevar por el sentimiento contrario. Y qué frustrante es sentirse frustrado. No se si les ha pasado, pero yo hasta me enojo conmigo misma en los días donde permito que se me escape esa paz. Escribir, meditar, leer, salir a caminar me ayudan a encontrar la paz, a elegir la paz.
Descubrí algo recientemente y se los quiero compartir. La respuesta y la pregunta son las mismas. La pregunta a la respuesta que me da la paz es la misma.
Respiro y me pregunto, ¿Todo va a salir bien, verdad?
Me respondo en paz: “Marce, todo va a salir bien.”
Debemos aprender que cosas nos disparan pensamientos negativos (fotos, redes sociales, comparaciones); pero igual (talvez más) importante es aprender que cosas nos disparan pensamientos positivos. Hacerme preguntas a mi me ayuda mucho, hablarme me ayuda mucho. Hablarme como le hablaría a una persona que amo, me ayuda.
Hoy elijo inspiración, elijo paz. Elijo decirme a mi misma que todo va a salir bien, y creerme. Elijo confiar, confiar en mi y en las pequeñas acciones de impacto que se van acumulando a diario. Elijo volver a comenzar y ser un poquito mejor que ayer.
Gracias por estar aquí hoy, en este nuevo comienzo. Los invito a que se pregunten hoy si todo va a salir bien y a contestarse con palabras llenas de amor. A contestarse como le contestarían a su mejor amiga, a su mamá, a su pareja, a una persona que aman.
Everything we do must have an intention. This last sentence is not just a quote, but one of my firmest beliefs. Take Fearless (my first book), for example, every single part of Fearless has a purpose, an intention.
Have you heard about the term–easter eggs? Easter eggs are the “secret” references a musician or artist includes in their songs or art for people to figure them out. It references easter eggs, as they are hidden, and people need to “hunt” or find them within a song or a piece of writing or art.
I like the “easter eggs” concept. I find it kind of fun. But for me, it is much simpler (and profound) than that. For me, it is about the thought process behind choosing every word, every part of something. In other words, having an intention for each thing, even the little things.
Using my two last names in the book cover had an intention—the dots gracing the book cover and those dots’ color. The fact that I only mentioned three people by name in the book, the quotes I chose, the books I decided to mention, the nods and references I give to specific friends, people, and places. Every single one of those things was not a coincidence but a conscious, well-thought decision.
With that being said, I have some news. I am currently working on two separate projects–in Spanish. And because I firmly believe in intentions, purpose, and the statement: “To become a writer, one must write,” as per October 1st, I will start transitioning this blog to Spanish. I say transition because the blog will always have some English content. Most of the books and podcasts I listen to are in English; however, the blog posts will be mostly, Spanish.
To become a writer in Spanish, I must write in Spanish. I must practice. And to me, it feels like I need to reconnect somehow, with the language by experimenting and enriching my vocabulary.
I also debated how to do this “transition.” After too much thought, I found myself choosing honesty and authenticity while feeling guilty at the same for overthinking this so much. Intention matters, purpose matters, our why’s matter. This is the sentence that I wish sticks with you if you choose to unfollow and I totally understand if you do : )
Lastly, I want to say thank you. Thank you to all of you that started following this blog since day 1.
To say thank you dearly, I am gifting you a free digital version (e-book)of Fearless.
On August 23rd, 2019, I wrote one of my first blog posts. It was called The Day after my Last, and it recounted how I was feeling after my last day in the company where I worked for eight years. Yes, it has been a year already! And it has gone very different than what I or everyone expected.
This year on January 2nd, I shared part of my 2020 goals; in the center of the blog photo, the words, “Publish my Book,” stood out. Many of my goals for this year haven’t happened and probably will not occur. 2020 so far, has been a year that demanded everyone take a collective pause, a collective breath to regroup and reinvent, and then reinvent some more.
Most days, I feel grounded and grateful. These days, I feel like the wealthiest woman on Earth because my entire family is healthy. Other days feeling grateful requires a lot of effort, and disappointment lurks in for the if’s, the canceled trips, plans, and the “should have.”
Reflecting back, the words that stood out–the goal the stood out this year, did happen, and I am respectfully celebrating the achievement while consciously being aware of everything that is happening.
Today I feel grounded and grateful. I am grateful for the fact that my book is out there in the world. I am thankful for the support system that helped me when the path became unclear. And grateful for you, my life cheerleaders spread across so many places.
It’s been a year since I decided to walk this path. Thank you for being here and walking along with me. And as one of my friend says: “Dreams continue even in chaos.” Let’s not ever forget that!
Dear All, thank you for being here. I am deeply sorry I have been so inconsistent with the blog lately, in the words of Dr. Maya Angelou: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” This quote describes my exact feelings for the past weeks. In between many scribbles, half-done poems, and ideas, I had a sense of agony. One that came from the feeling that I have an untold story within me. Ironically, that feeling also came with a lack of inspiration.
Between the scribbles and poems and the agony of untold stories and Hondurassickness (the equivalent of homesick), I found these old podcasts of conversations between Maya Angelou and Oprah.
Maya Angelou was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights, activist. Fair to say, her poems Still I Rise, and Phenomenal Woman are two of my all-time favorites.
These podcasts were a sublime combination of a reality check, an inspirational snack, and the certitude that there are things out there, that are worth seeing, reading, and listening to. (To be honest, I have been feeling overwhelmed by social media lately).
In the words of Dr. Maya Angelou, “Nothing will work unless you do.” This quote has been my motto this week. It has been a good week so far, filled with inspiration, and definitely filled with work done. If you need it, it is yours too, because nothing will work unless we do the work.
For better days with more words in the form of blogs and the possibility of family hugs,
In Fearless, I wrote, “…a unique network of life cheerleaders–people who love me, support me and genuinely wish me the very best. [..] Life cheerleaders do not (necessarily) need to be close friends or part of our intimate support system. Life cheerleaders are just people who radiate positivity and well wishes towards us every time we cross their minds.”
This post is dedicated to three of my favorite nerds and life cheerleaders. Dani, Jere, and Marco love Star Wars to death just like me; they are sassy and cannot talk without swearing. They are also engineers and three of the brightest men I know. Unapologetic, genuine, and witty as they come and definitely NOT politically correct. NOT. AT. ALL–which I admire and love about them. I think they also want to be avengers and try to save Honduras and then the world.
They were one of the firsts to support Fearless. They invited me to their podcast, and we talked about Harry Potter and fears and the fact that I haven’t seen them for almost ten years. Yes! I haven’t seen two of them in a long time, and they didn’t hesitate for a second to support me and my book. This type of support, the one that does not consider closeness, time, or geographical location–is what life cheerleading is about.
El podcast esta disponible en español.
A couple of weeks ago, they also did a review of the book, and it made me happy and teary to hear them share about how Fearless inspired them or made them reflect. It validated something I already knew, Fearless is universal, because of the question “what would I do if I weren’t afraid?” That question will get a reaction all the time–no matter who we are, where we come from, our background, gender, preferences. That question is the bridge.
El podcast esta disponible en español. El review de Fearless es a partir del minuto 45:00
Thank you, Dani, Jere, and Marco, for your words and support. I hope you get to be wizards or avengers in your next life or even better get to be Dr. Strange, a wizard-avenger. Your life cheerleader, M.
Someone recently asked me if I believe in magic, and it was one of the most certain yesses I have said in my life. This is just a little glimpse of what magic means to me:
Magic is finding solace in a quote, in a hug, in a view. Magic is connecting the dots and understanding how past decisions, life detours, and the past ten years make sense because they have brought me where I am today. Magic is the need to keep walking and moving forward, even though where I am is a happy place, probably one of the happiest. Magic is appreciating the beauty of here, today, while wanting to keep walking. Magic is a sublime certitude that this too shall pass, and a deep understanding of what THIS means.
Magic is thinking of someone and telling yourself: “I am calling or texting him/her in a little while,” and then having your phone ring or ping and being absolutely sure that it’s them. Because, who else could it be?
Magic is how cheap wine tastes on a Friday at 5:30 p.m. or even a little earlier. Magic is the moment you stop and look at the mirror and focus only on the progress. Magic is seeing something and saying aloud, “thank you, life for allowing ME to see this.”
Magic is when one of the women that I admire the most, describes herself as someone who “fiercely believes in magic and the power of intuition.”
Magic is when you wake up thinking about writing a blog post about magic and experiencing many magical things just before noon.
Magic is knowing by heart “The Prayer of Jabez,” magic is finding the right book at the perfect time. Magic are little miracles and soul-shaking, “who am I to deserve this?” miracles. Magic is prayers, and prayers are magic.
Magic is so much more.
Have a magical weekend, and if you can have a moment to ask yourself these two questions:
Do I believe in magic? 2. If I do, what does it mean to me?
I have missed writing to you. I’m trying to do better. I’m trying a lot of things right now, but mostly to do better and be better.
A couple of weeks ago, a lovely lady asked me if I preferred printed or digital books. That was an easy answer. I am still an old soul utterly enamored with the feeling of holding a book in my hands or the sight of them on shelves and nightstands. I told her that the best way to answer that questions is for her to ask me another question, “what are my most valuable possessions?” Of course, the answer to that question is my collection of books (safe to say I have more than 500 by now) and my grandma’s pictures.
However, COVID-19 has made us reinvent ourselves in many ways or at least change our habits or create new habits. Recently I have been trying to give e-books and most recently audiobooks a chance. And I must admit, my skepticism has been replaced with excitement and wonder. And with a newfound delight: walks and/or runs with audiobooks instead of music.
I thought about it a lot, and I think it comes to this: I am sure I’ll be in love with printed books all my life, but that does not mean that I can’t enjoy a good e-book or audiobook from time to time. Plus, I’m an ambassador of trying things at least once and learning from the experience.
Yesterday, I finished reading/hearing “The Rural Diaries” by Hilarie Burton Morgan. Fresh, lovely, and inspiring book narrated by the author. For the past two days, I cooked, walked, and run listening to the author recount her life reinvention, family struggles, motherhood, miscarriages, and her farm experiences. Audible by Amazon is giving a free trial that includes two audiobooks completely free. There are books in Spanish as well!
You should give it a try! The worst thing that could happen is that you enjoy one or two books for free and then decide not to subscribe. (To be honest, I’m still flirting with the idea).The best thing that could happen is finding a new hobby: AUDIOBOOKS–which is better than NO-BOOKS.
Click the image below and it will take you directly to the promotion.
Girl, Woman, Other; The Rural Diaries; The Choice; Cien Años de Soledad; Say Nothing and Animal Farm are available in Audible.
Fearless is the perfect book if you want to try a digital book for the first time.
100 pages of inspirational easy, honest reading. Click the image to buy Fearless today!
Below is a short essay I wrote around 2016. It perfectly describes how I have felt these past few weeks.
Ideas about ideas
“A wise friend recently told me that whenever I felt my mind too crowded with ideas or thoughts, I should just write the ideas down.
This advice got me thinking about dealing with ideas and overall thoughts. The first thought that came to my mind was: Is it right to have too many ideas rambling around my mind, or does this mean creativity or mental multitasking? Or is this just a sign of lack of concentration or prioritization? Is it better to concentrate on only a few? What is too much? What are a few?
Meanwhile, I look for the answers to the above questions, I am following my friend’s advice. Currently, writing down ideas gives me the sense that I am freeing my mind, and that I am consciously granting space for new ideas to come. It also provides a sense of goal, as seeing them on paper has felt like the first acknowledgment that they are there and that they exist. For me, it is also the first step towards materialization. Writing them down also gives me a sense of protection, as I am keeping them somewhere, not just in my head. They are there, safe in the paper.
I do not know if I want to keep ALL my ideas safe, but what I do know is that some ideas must be kept, they should be protected, accomplished, and implemented. After deselection occurs, those ideas that stick should turn into goals. They should become a reality, and they should translate to change and improvement. The ideas that hold should HAPPEN.
As I just free my mind, I will keep thinking, crowding my mind, and writing all down.”
Writing sometimes can be therapeutic. If you feel like your mind needs decluttering, write a list of your ideas or start a journal this weekend. Even post-its can help to free your mind.
Wishing you a weekend full of inspiring ideas, M.
Looking for an inspirational weekend reading? Click the pictures to buy Fearless e-book today.
Available in Apple Books, Amazon Kindle and other digital platforms.
Dear readers, thank you for sticking around during this self-indulging series about my publishing journey. I would like to imagine that at least one person reading these posts, has dusted their manuscript or even started one. And that same person now feels hopeful about the fact that there is a reachable option for their book.
Today, I want to write about marketing your book, specifically through social media. This year so far has been especially challenging with Covid-19. Still, even before the virus, I learned and understood the critical role that social media plays when promoting basically anything these days.
Here is what I have learned so far:
This first question is crucial: Are you writing a book for yourself or your closed ones? Or are you writing a book with another purpose? Say–inspiring or motivating or entertaining. There is no right or wrong answer. If your answer is the latter, you need to accept that you need to do online marketing. And embrace it.
Choose your channels based on your audience: first, identify who your reader is first and then choose the social media platform accordingly. In my case, Instagram is my preferred channel.
Make a plan: at the beginning being active in social media was giving me anxiety. I was overthinking everything, and I had a lot of questions about “the ideal number of posts per day.” I created a simple spreadsheet with weekly objectives, and that gave me a sense of order and control.
Keep learning: keep reading about trends, hashtags, audiences, reach, attract readers, etc., Keep asking questions, keep taking courses, keep improving your page, your blog.
My self-publishing journey is not over yet. I see it as a marathon, and it is safe to say I’m probably just crossing the half. The Fearless e-book comes out next week (June 10th-YAY). The printed book will start being distributed worldwide until later in the summer (August 17th-YAY!). This means that I need to keep pushing. I want my writing to reach broader audiences, and in 2020 if I wish to have the slightest chance to achieve that, I need to use social media wisely and positively. But most importantly, authentically.
That is my final learning (and probably one of the most important ones) when it comes to social media and putting myself out there, authenticity matters. Even if you feel that things take longer than expected. Even if you think you need to go with the flow. As in all things in life, authenticity is vital.
This is the end of the self-publishing series. Again, thank you for sticking around and sorry if I wasn’t diligent enough with keeping Em’s Extras to Fridays only. Starting next week, my plan is to send you only one blog post weekly. Let me know if you have anything, in particular, you wish to see.
It’s 1944, and sixteen-year-old ballerina and gymnast Edith Eger is sent to Auschwitz. Separated from her parents on arrival, she endures unimaginable experiences, including being made to dance for the infamous Josef Mengele.
Within every woman, there is a wild and natural creature, a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. Her name is Wild Woman, but she is an endangered species.
George Orwell’s timeless and timely allegorical novel—a scathing satire on a downtrodden society’s blind march towards totalitarianism.
One of my 2020 resolutions is to be more mindful of my book selection process and to try my best to ensure my reading is diverse enough. Also, I pledged to myself to read mostly books written by females authors. The above list makes me really proud. Let me know if you add any of these books to your summer shelf or even better share yours.
I will, of course, share all the book reviews through @emandtheshelf’s Instagram account. And I might feature some books here at the blog as well.
Hace un par de semanas tuve el placer de ser la invitada del podcast Latino Greatness. En el siguiente link lo pueden escuchar!
One of my best friends just did a kick-ass out of this world playlist for her birthday. It has songs in order from 1983 to the date.
While finishing my manuscript, I went into several online rabbit holes trying to research as much as possible about every self-publishing option. During one of those winter afternoons glued to my laptop, and after too many cups of coffee, I found Bookbaby. And so thankful I did!
I am writing this blog today, from a happy customer’s perspective–nothing more. I’ll include all the Bookbaby’s links here for you to check them out. They have a lot of resources available, and their customer service team is excellent, so I encourage you to call them if you are interested.
For the purpose of this series, I believe it is more important for me to share why I chose Bookbaby instead of listing their services. So, here is why I chose them:
After using 99designsfor my first book cover, I learn that the interior design of the printed and digital book was as important as the cover. 99designs works by bids, and even though I had a good experience with them, I wanted to try another platform.
My preference was to outsource all the remaining steps from one or maybe two platforms at the most. This is were Bookbaby caught first my attention since the company is a one-stop-shop for all self-publishing related services.
Until this step, most of the “Fearless” process was strictly online (edition & design). Even though my editor was great, all communication was through email. So, when I called Bookbaby, and a very professional, wise, and helpful lady answered, it felt nice.
When I first decided to go through the self-publishing journey, I knew that I wanted to outsource edition and design. I initially thought that I could handle distribution (which in essence is a separate Amazon process). But, after reading a couple of manuals, I started getting extremely anxious.
Candidly, I didn’t want the transactional parts of the process to steal the joy of this journey. This realization led me to consider one of the self-publishing packages that Bookbaby offers, which includes worldwide distribution.
I think I spoke 6 times with Bookbaby’s Consultant–Ramona, before deciding on a package deal with them. Every time I spoke with her, I learned something new. This made me add the learning component to my investment. I knew that if I chose Bookbaby, I could learn exponentially about the whole process vs., doing online research by myself.
In Fearless, I wrote: “Taking charge of my life, to me, means not just having control by choosing a specific decision but the real commitment to the process that will make a choice a reality. And not just a simple reality— the best possible reality within the framework of that decision.”
Choosing Bookbaby was my way of taking charge of the process. Of aiming for the best possible reality for Fearless. Of committing to the process not only financially but backed up by learnings and care.
Next week I’ll be ending this series with a brief post about my online marketing learnings.
Thank you for reading me and for supporting my journey, M.
Self-Doubt is a sneaky guest that seems to pop-up anywhere and everywhere, uninvited and unannounced. Self-Doubt is keen to hang out with women in general (believe me, have asked plenty of my girlfriends). But it is fair to assume that everyone has dealt with or is dealing with this unwanted guest.
Must confess that a couple of months ago, Self-Doubt was not being sneaky on me. To my surprise, I was consciously sending it invitations to tag along. We were chatting daily. Every morning, we would have long conversations during breakfast. I found myself practically saving Self-Doubt a seat at my table.
One of those mornings, while refilling my favorite mug with dark roasted Colombian coffee (my favorite), it hit me. I had coffee dates with Self-Doubt daily. I could not help to laugh about the irony of it all. Here I was, drinking coffee from a mug that literally said in bright pink and gold letters: “She believed she could, so she did,” about to go back to the table and consciously dissect every one of my negative thoughts.
The only coffee dates that are not encouraged.
Standing in my kitchen, staring blankly at the coffee maker, I could feel an epiphany rising not just in my mind, but in my chest. At that moment, I asked myself these three questions: Where does Self-Doubt come from? Why it seems to be always present? Why does it always find its way back to me?
Almost instantly, a fourth and more powerful question came to me: Why do you care?
I had to admit to myself that these so-called coffee dates were part of my routine now. I was hosting and entertaining Self-Doubt, but I didn’t like this guest. I didn’t want it at my home. I didn’t wish for Self-Doubt to have a seat on my table.
Maybe it was a bit overdramatic, but that day I felt I needed to do it. I sat at my table, pulled up a chair, and said (out loud), “Coffee dates are over starting now, you are not welcome here. I do not want or need you, so just go the hell away.”
Of course, this is not the end of the story. Self-doubt is persistent. After that conversation, I reflected a lot about why I was feeling that way. Self-doubt will always be around and will always try to sneak back. It is powerful, though, to acknowledge its presence and to dismiss it. Loud and clear.
The acknowledgment part seems to be the trickiest. Acknowledging its presence could take one minute, one hour, or way longer. I do not know precisely why, but I have learned that perceived weakness and vulnerability are involved.
By acknowledging Self-Doubt, we are accepting that we are vulnerable to this self-made negative guest, and sometimes that is scary. It is scary to consciously accept not just its presence but the impacts it has brought to our lives and to specific situations, choices, decisions, and interactions.
Accepting that I had these dates daily was hard. It was scary to look back four weeks or even a week before and realize the role Self-Doubt was playing in my life. It had had a protagonist role everywhere, lately. At work, in my feelings towards my body and in my mood. Self-doubt was taking a front seat in conversations with my partner and in how I envisioned my future goals at the time.
Be Fearless. Allowing Self-Doubt to hang out with you does not make you weak. It is just a moment of weakness; nothing more. Be Fearless to remind yourself of this and move on. Acknowledging its presence only makes us stronger. The ability to identify and understand our fears is critical not just in the path of reinvention or following our dreams, but in the actual act of living.
There will be times were a loud-voiced dismissal will be enough. Sometimes, however, the effort to not make conversation or entertain this intruder will be tremendous. It gets easier, with time. And with reflection.
Reflection can mean pulling up a chair and having a coffee with yourself. Reflection can mean meditating or writing about how you feel. Reflection can be talking with a friend, mentor, or coach. When reflecting, try to answer two questions. Why do you care about Self-Doubt’s opinion? What is triggering its presence?
Self-Doubt is a fierce enemy, one of the toughest there is. So as with every enemy, the final step is to assemble. After acknowledgment and reflection, it is time to fight against it. Be relentless. Resist the urge to pull up a chair and give it a seat at your table. Be merciless, and never be afraid of saying to its face (sometimes out loud): Go the hell away!
So, dear YOU, my Fearless friend, let’s take action and spread the voice: Acknowledge, Reflect & Assemble!
Time to talk about Design! You have already arrived at the best possible version of your book after one, two, or more rounds of edition and revision. After that, you celebrated loudly the fact that your book is ready to be read. Now, it is time to focus on the Cover Design.
Learnings and Helpful insights:
Do proper research. Which means, see other book covers. See the colors, the font, the proportions. Make interpretations as to why the author decided to go with that specific color, font, or image.
Consider the genre, title, and subtitle of your book. Your cover needs to be coherent, not only with the title.
Do not underestimate the importance of the subtitle. (It could be the final push someone needs to decide to read your book.)
Consider your target audience. Who is your reader? What is the type of cover that will appeal to YOUR reader?
Don’t forget the back cover. Think thoroughly about your back cover’s text, just as the subtitle, don’t underestimate its importance.
Thank you. Thank you, because you have chosen to let a piece of my soul in your life. Thank you for wanting to read my book, and thank you for choosing to.
I want to thank your eyes, in advance, because they will be the ones to see the words I have chosen for you. By seeing the words, your eyes will see me. In today’s world, we have SO many things to see, and the fact that you have chosen to see me is priceless.
While writing this, the hair in my arms bristle. They bristle, just by the thought, that just maybe, your arm hairs could bristle too while reading Fearless, because you feel connected and inspired. Because you relate, and now you yearn to reflect.
I also want to thank your hands, the ones that will hold my book. It is quite magical, how by holding those 90 pages, bound together, you will be holding my heart. Even if you are holding it through your phone or tablet, don’t doubt it. It is my heart in your hands. So let me tell you in advance how much I love your hands.
I also want to thank your spine. Because your spine will allow you to tilt your head forward to read. Your spine will flex depending on the position you take to let Fearless in. I imagine you, smiling or closing your eyes. I imagine you reading, first sitting up, and then laying on your back. What do I know? Maybe it’s the other way around.
Last but not least, I want to thank your legs, I am not sure if literally or figuratively. What I know is that I hope that when you finish reading Fearless, you feel inspired to move forward. To move towards your goals. To move away from guilt, to move deeper into forgiveness, and that you start or continue your path towards naked happiness.
So dear reader, I thank your eyes, your arm hairs, your hands, your spine, and your legs in advance. But especially your heart that made you choose this book.
I’m calling this post, part 3.5 instead of 4. Because after one, two, or whatever number of rounds of editing and revision, you decide to do. At the end of the Editing & Revision path, you will arrive at the final version of your book! YES, the final version of YOUR book!
And I want you to take a pause and celebrate. Take it all in. Because you have the final version of your book in your hands. And if it is your first book, you will never experience that feeling again. The feeling of arriving at the best possible version.
Celebrate loudly, because yes, it is not bound as a book–yet, you probably haven’t started to think about the cover or format, but those white pages with words on them, that is YOUR book.
This celebration is essential and deserved. Take the advice from someone that didn’t pause. This is one of those occasions where I should have ignore my doer’s voice and just converse avidly with the dreamer in me.
Instead of taking a pause and celebrate and scream and dance around, I went from a state of shock to action immediately. I don’t want you to miss the bliss that comes when you have ultimately reached a fantastic and much-desired destination.
Click the picture, and it will take you to all the Fearless pre-order and purchase options!
When you finished your manuscript, the next significant milestone is editing. In my experience, informal editing was as crucial as formal editing.
Both types of editing can involve correction, organization of ideas, modification of chapters, replacement, deleting, or even rewriting. Be open to ALL of it!
I think that informal editing could be two things: self-revision and all of those opportunities to show people around you, your work, and get feedback.
For the self-revision process, Grammarly Premium is a fantastic tool! Grammarly corrects grammar, spelling, and even helps with style. It is effortless and fun to use. I would highly recommend this tool for anyone writing non-fiction, fiction, or even social media and/or business communications.
Showing people you trust your work not only helps with confidence but also helps to overcome the fear of critique. While writing Fearless, I did three reading parties with girlfriends in Honduras, Spain, and Mexico. I printed some chapters, and we talked about them over wine. One important thing is to prepare prompts or specific questions in advance, not just ask them, “what did you think?”.
Formal editing needs to be seen as an investment, never an expense. It is truly an investment in your work, is more than just “polishing” your work. It is sharing your work with a professional neutral party, with someone that would enhance what you have written. And not just in terms of the actual writing but also in terms of the reader’s experience.
Learnings from my (formal) editing journey:
Do your research: I spent a lot of time reading reviews and submitting free samples to various online editing platforms. I wanted to get a sense of what they were offering, response time, quality, and overall vibe. I recommend using Scribendi or Bookbaby services.
2. Understanding the different types of the editing process is critical: I did two editing rounds for my book. The first one I did is called manuscript editing. It is an in-depth line by line revision; it identifies language issues, and the editor gives advice about content. The second round is called proofreading, which provides a careful final review focusing on grammar and spelling.
3. If you are happy with your first editor, stick with her/him. If you are not satisfied, find another one: my first editor (manuscript editor) was great! I felt she really connected with my book’s purpose. She really understood what I was trying to accomplish. I asked her to do the second round as well.
4. Trust your editor, but also trust yourself. It needs to be a two-way relationship, I think that is why I enjoyed so much the process with Scribendi. The editor was really mindful of all the proposed changes-even with the ones I didn’t agree with.
If this is a path you are curious about, I’m happy to answer any questions.
These past few days have been tough, I keep thinking that right this second I should be in Honduras enjoying time with my family and with the book events at full-speed. I allow myself to think about that and even dwell a little. Still, I consciously make an effort to summoned gratitude feelings. Because people are suffering around the world, and I know I’m blessed with my health and my family’s health.
They are still serving as a kind reminder to enjoy the journey (no matter what) and to kick anxiety’s ass. I intentionally did the affirmations cards, just with Copenhagen photos, to purposefully remind myself of how beautiful my current home is.
What we tell ourselves matter! I hope this inspires you, who knows maybe it’s time for you to adjust what you are saying to yourself, as well.
This is one of my favorite articles of all time, it is super inspiring and well written. And I absolutely love how the ending phrase. I recently re-read it and loved it more.
Quarantine Book: Fun!
Funny enough, a lot of friends have asked me to please recommend a quarantine book, nothing dense, something fun, and entertaining! My reply has been the same: You need to read “Daisy Jones & The Six.”
Commencement Speech by Admiral William H. McRaven
One of the best speeches I have heard, not only because of how it is written but of the way it is delivered.
Free Online Yoga Sessions in English and Spanish
You can find all the details in pachamanita’s Instagram profile.
I wanted to share with you today, the chapter list of my upcoming book Fearless. Each chapter is an answer to the question, “What would I do if I were not afraid?” Some chapters are lighter, others are heavier, but everyone one of them is filled with honesty, learnings, personal anecdotes, and reflections.
I started to write Fearless back in 2017; the essays were written over a span of three years.
Chapter 1: I Would Be the Best Version of Myself
Chapter 2: I Would Forgive Myself
Chapter 3: I Would Continue to Be Relevant
Chapter 4: I Would Take Charge of My Life
Chapter 5: I Would Stop Feeling Guilty
Chapter 6: I Would Embrace My Impact
Chapter 7: I Would Mourn Freely
Chapter 8: I Would Start Saying No
Chapter 9: I Would Live Honoring Naked Happiness
Is there a chapter that instantly caught your attention? Write it in the comments, and I will pick one or two people to send that specific chapter before the release date! (This giveaway is only for Em’s blog community, so there are more chances!)
The first step in the self-publishing journey is, of course, finishing your book!
For that to happen, you don’t necessarily need to quit your job-like I did-but you definitely need time. In my perspective, one of the first questions that you need to answer is, “how can I create time to write?”
Creating time requires effort-yes-but one to two hours a week to start is more than enough to get you going.
Practical Suggestions to start your writing:
Relentlessly reserve at least 1-2 hours weekly to start: starting is difficult, but like any habit, once you start and put your mind and heart in it, things start moving. And sometimes faster than you expected.
Pick your creative incubator: also known as “writing spot.” Make it your own. Make it inspirational; make it private if you can.
Pick your genre: knowing what sort of book (novel, memoir, inspirational, self-help, short stories) you want to write, gives you a more robust base and a guiding star.
Just write: it sounds too simplistic because somedays it is. Other days it is hard, and it requires extra discipline. But the key is to just do it.
Tell self-doubt to go away: don’t judge your writing. Don’t think about the next steps. Don’t label your writing right, lousy good or genius.
Key Learnings from my Writing Journey:
Reading is the fuel of my writing: to me, reading is a critical part of writing.
Hard work always pays off: the hard days where you write out of discipline and will and not inspiration, those are the ones that teach you to appreciate the days where the words flow. Don’t underestimate the writing that comes from pure relentless hard-work.
When inspiration kicks-in, hold on to it for dear life: even if it means canceling a social event or rescheduling something or asking your partner for help with some of your house tasks.
Make a list of topics or chapter titles: this helped me a lot; it gave a guiding star. The topics or chapters maybe will change or evolve along the way, but it gives you a reference point.
Identify your writing moods: call me crazy, but some days paper and pen worked better for me. Other days I would be glued to my laptop for hours.
Sharing your journey makes a difference: even if it is just with your mom, your partner, your best friend. Share your dream, share your plan, sharing about a good writing day or not-so-great-one in a blog, or with a loved one makes it real and holds you accountable to keep trying.
If this is something you want to pursue, I really hope you find this useful, and you start creating the time!
Fearless is a compilation of inspirational and personal answers to the question: “What would I do if I weren’t afraid?” The answers are written in the form of essays. I thought today was a good day to share with you a reading snack. Below is an excerpt from the fourth essay of the book.
Chapter 4: I Would take Charge of my Life
“When I took the decision to leave my job and take a year to focus on finishing this book, I felt in control of my life. To me, feeling in control and taking charge differ in meaning. I have always seen control as more linked to making a specific decision, with taking charge being more related to the actual commitment of executing the decision.
I believe an example might clarify this self-defined concept better. When I decided to run a marathon, I felt in control. I was controlling my running journey. I remember saying out loud to myself, family, and friends, “I will do a marathon as my next running goal.” Taking the decision was scary, saying it out loud even more. However, making the decision was just the first and most natural step. The commitment to training, to run five to six times a week for 16 weeks, waking up earlier, changing or canceling plans to accommodate the weekend long runs, feeling exhausted—those were the hardest parts.
Taking charge of my life, to me, means not just having control by choosing a specific decision but the real commitment to the process that will make a choice a reality. And not just a simple reality—the best possible reality within the framework of that decision. In other words, not just doing it for the sake of doing it or, worse, doing it half-assed. On the contrary, it means committing to the process with the strongest intent, profound will, focus, and yes, excellency. (…)”
I was having a tough day, letting overthinking and anxiety get the best of me. I needed something to zap me out of it, and writing and sharing always help me. Let me know what you think.
I started flirting with the idea of self-publishing late last year. It was around the time when I started thinking about my 2020 goals. I am a dreamer, so of course, I dreamt for a long time about sending my finished manuscript to a publishing house. Having it picked, and experiencing all the different creative processes with the support of experts. I daydreamed intensely about seeing my book sitting on bookstore shelves. I found myself romanticizing the idea so much that I began to think more about the publishing process than in the actual book way before I had even finished it.
I knew that writing the book required discipline and hard work. And that the publishing process needed a different kind of discipline, one that comes from being relentless and self-motivated. And that I needed to accept the fact that if it did happen (if I was part of that tiny statistic of “aspiring author being picked by publisher”), it could take a LONG time. And I mean, a long long time.
I am a dreamer, but I am also a doer, so the doer in me started talking loudly. And I started listening.
If you are interested in the self-publishing process, every Friday, I’ll be sharing all of my learnings from the past 4 months as well as tips and other helpful information. Keep an eye for the Self-Publishing Series!
In one of my previous blog posts (Reset), I shared that one of my coping mechanisms for the quarantine has been learning. The course “The Science of Well Being” has been one of my most reliable quarantine alleys. The course discusses all the misconceptions we have about what truly makes us happy. But most importantly provides concrete actions and habits one can take to feel better and happier.
One of the habits mentioned by the course is Meditation. I have always been curious and drawn to Meditation. I have been trying to practice it for almost 3 years now in connection with my yoga practice, but have never really committed to it. I have always felt like I was not doing it right, and just leave it, and then it try again and so on.
To complete the course, the professor invites the learners to commit for 4 weeks to one of the habits discussed (gratitude, Meditation, sleep, exercise, savoring, amongst others). And I chose that as a gift from me to me, I would commit to meditating for 10-15 minutes daily without judgment-without entertaining right or wrong thoughts.
Today was my 10th day meditating, and it really does feel like a gift. And in celebration, I wrote what Meditation has been for me in the last days.
A kaleidoscope of breaths. A nap with my inner eyes open. Ocean waves singing me a love song. My grandma and my sister closer to me. A prayer. A warm woolen danish-pink quilt caressing my folded legs. A commitment to myself. A gift to myself.
I wanted to share with all of you this idea of gifting yourself something during this time. The gift could be an online course or a book you have always wanted to read, decorating a corner for your “me time”, buying a gift card to use later, or opening that bottle of wine you have been saving for a special occasion or even a new habit!
Kindness and gratitude matter-and that includes being kind and grateful to yourself.
Happy Easter Week to everyone that celebrates, M.
PS: If you are interested in meditation specifically, Headspace has inspiring articles about its benefits and how to begin.
I am extremely passionate about the self-empowerment-especially for women-that comes with overcoming fears. I really-really- wanted to write about this!
For the past five years, the question-“what would I do if I weren’t afraid?” has been one of my guiding lights. And I wanted to share my ideas and perspectives about the immeasurable power of that question.
But most importantly, because to me, a FEARLESS person is not someone that has zero fears. On the contrary, it is someone that acknowledges their fears and is relentless in seeking ways and actions to overcome them.
I really hope that we can be FEARLESS together!
Thank you for reading me,
I will be sharing more details about the cover and chapter reveals very soon! Click on below image, to go to emandtheshelf’s Instagram and see all of today’s fun videos in stories- I speak a little about my journey and some of my plans with FEARLESS.
I would be present and take it one breath at the time.
I would follow my book plan.
I would try my very best to inspire you.
I would read, write, and exist happily in my home.
I would be grateful with every cell in my body.
I WOULD SHARE MY BOOK’S NAME WITH THE WORLD.
What would I do if I weren’t afraid?-This question has been my guiding star. This one question has paved my path, and I am honoring it this week by sharing with all of you my book’s name. So, SAVE THE DATE!!
Click the picture below to go to Em and the Shelf’s instagram account to join the countdown!
I always, always read a book’s Acknowledgments. I don’t remember exactly when I started to pay attention to them, but it has been a long time. I really enjoy reading the kind and marvelous phrases an author uses to thank or praise their support system, their loved ones, their life cheerleaders.
Acknowledgments fascinate me. They are a testimony that-the best-things in life are never an individual endeavor. Even a task usually associated with solitude and isolation-such as writing a book.
I have shared my book’s dedication already in a previous post and today in the spirit of gratitude-most needed during this times-I am sharing my book’s Acknowledgments. These people deserve so much more than the few words next to their names. They read, edit, inspire, motivate, cheer, reassure, critique, and praise (me and) my book with love always.
I am fortunate to have the support of many other amazing people. I wish I could include everyone, but I wanted to honor these extra-special book cheerleaders.
Even though I love book Acknowledgements, real-life ones are better. Acknowledging is gratitude, and we need it now more than ever.
Today is a perfect time to acknowledge your support system, your team, your loved ones, and your life cheerleaders.
I hope this inspires you to go and say, “Thank you”!
“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.”
(From Harry Potter by J.K Rowling)
Above is one of my favorite quotes of all time. I genuinely believe in the power of words, so I hope my words bring you a little bit of inspiration.
I know that days have been hard and filled with so many emotions. I think it is essential to acknowledge all of the feelings, but equally important is to have a reset mechanism to go back to a state of mental peace. My go-to resets are reading, writing, or running, but my mind has been fighting back. While doing these three things, my mind takes me very quickly to thoughts about the news. I haven’t stopped doing these activities, but I felt I needed to find one that drives me faster and closer-at least momentarily-towards a state of peace.
My reset for the past week has been learning. I know that my working-from-home situation is different and that I may have more time and flexibility. Or that it may sound a little (or a lot) nerdy. But if you have extra time or are looking to add or replace activities in your schedule, maybe you should give online courses a try. And Coursera is a great place to start!
I have been taking a Yale free course called The Science of Well Being, and I love it. This class became the most popular class in Yale’s history back in 2018. It teaches how to become happier with concrete, fun, and practical examples. It touches upon several topics, including misconceptions about happiness, how to overcome them as well as actions and activities to boost it.
My favorite things about the class are the simple and clear structure, the fact that it is taught entirely by videos and the Professor. Hearing her speak feels like a breath of fresh air while on my desk or couch.
I encourage you to take this course, we all need more happiness these days. But mostly, I encourage you to experiment with your schedule (as much as it allows for it) to find that reset that gives you peace.
Let’s try to replace fear and anxiety with ______________! ( The blank is yours to fill) Let’s reset!
I was afraid of sounding selfish, not empathetic, because of the news I wanted to share with all of you. I was fearful of having the worst timing ever in the midst of what we are living as a human community.
Yesterday during the peak of my overthinking, I saw a message popped up on my Instagram. It was from a college friend, one that I have not seen in almost 10 years. She sent me a picture of a quote and the message: “This made me think of you.”
I have written before that sometimes, “realizations can be explosions.” Her gesture-more so than the quote- caused a boom. It made me think that sharing a dream that has come true could never be selfish. It made me realize that sharing and hearing good and happy news helps. These thoughts brought me a much-needed sense of peace, one that comes from an ever bigger realization. We are at our best when we are rooting for each other. And the coronavirus is proving just that, we, humans, are at our best when we root for each other.
So, here are my big news: My book is officially in production! After a few rounds of editing and the initial design cycle, it is on the works! I found a great self-publishing platform called Bookbaby. If all goes well, it will be available on Amazon International, Barnes and Nobles’ website, and other channels during the summer!
During the next few weeks, I am planning to do the title reveal and share more about the editing, design, and other relevant steps!
Let’s allow gratitude to guide our days, during these difficult times and then beyond.
This picture was taken the day I printed my finish manuscript for the first time.
Thoughts from an Eternal (and very anxious) Optimist.
Yesterday I did one of my infamous self-interventions (many of my friends know about this and find it funny, but I promise you they are real). Basically, a self-intervention is when I called myself to a meeting to have a talk out loud. These meetings usually take place in the shower or while having a cup of coffee.
Around 2:00 p.m., after going twice to the supermarket, cleaning our entire apartment, and going into several online rabbit holes about coronavirus, I told myself to stop, to breathe, and to regroup.
I am an optimist by heart, but when my anxiety kicks in, it creates a fog that distracts me from the positive. On the other hand, I have come to realize that (at least for me), positivity IS one of my greatest tools to keep my anxiety in control. Yesterday I struggled, it was hard to find the positive in this situation. Mainly because I caught myself reading and dissecting every article about the virus from every possible source. So, yesterday, during my self-intervention, this is what I told myself:
This is a not-so-kind-reminder of what immeasurable wealth is all about (our own and our loved one’s health). Yes-it is a shitty reminder-but it is a reminder.
There is a fine line between taking precautions, getting provisions responsibly, and panicking.
You need to be a responsible adult and be informed, but that does not mean you need to check the news every hour. (And PLEASE stop with the crappy sources!)
If you want to know specific details about what is happening in Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, and the US because of your loved ones, stop obsessing, trying to read everything. Instead, call and text them more often (be there for them!). They will tell you anything worth knowing.
You work from home every day so it shouldn’t be as big of a change. Focus on what you can still do.
You will actually have more time with your loved ones.
K I N D N E S S (always) M A T T E R. Everyone has specific worries, fears, and situations. Be kind to yourself and be kind and empathetic towards your loved ones and people in general.
Remember, this, too, shall pass.
In the spirit of focusing on things we can still do, have compiled below a list for your inspiration.
For your inspiration. Will try to keep adding to the list. : )
Extended breakfasts, coffee breaks, or epic Facetime catch-up calls with your loved one(s).
Free Online Courses: Coursera offers a great variety of free courses. To the right some of my favorites so far.
In-house Training: There are a lot of apps and accounts that you can use if you want to exercise at home. Sharing an account I really like, she has an app with a 7 day free trial. Also outdoor runs and walks if not against local recommendations.
Through my window, I can see the first signs of spring. I instantly think of jacarandas and how the Mexican streets transform into a Monet painting every spring. Believe me, you don’t know deep, rich purple until you have seen the streets of Mexico City decorated by jacarandas.
Today, March 9th, 2020, will be one for the ages. Today the women of Mexico are on a national strike, but a very different kind. Today the women of Mexico are disappearing from the streets. They are staying home, not going to work, not buying anything, and totally silent in social media. The message transcends the economic impact, it is a message of “what if one day I actually disappear, for real, because someone thinks my life is worthless.”
Yesterday millions of women in Mexico and around the world marched against gender inequality and female violence. In Mexico, many of my best friends marched against the extreme rise of violence against women. And the indifference of the government towards the crimes. I cried a little bit today when I saw the photos and messages they shared.
Mexico will always be one of my homes, a big part of my chosen family lives there. My dearest cousin’s wife is Mexican, their daughter-my niece-is Mexican. I know that today will be a milestone. It has to. I am eager and full of hope to see what happens next.
Every girl and woman in the world has the right to walk her streets looking up instead of back. Every Mexican girl and woman has the right to blossom, to stop freely at any corner, and enjoy the unique purple shade of a jacaranda tree, just before returning safely home.
I am sure that in 20 years we will still be talking of what happened during March of 2020.
Un Dia Extraordinario en México
A través de mi ventana, veo un parque con los primeros signos de primavera. Inmediatamente, pienso en jacarandas y en como las calles mexicanas se transforman en una pintura cada primavera. Créanme, no sabrán lo que es el color morado hasta que hayan visto las calles de la Ciudad de México decoradas de jacarandas.
Hoy, 9 de marzo de 2020, es un día épico. Hoy, las mujeres de México están en paro nacional, pero esta, es una huelga diferente. Hoy, las mujeres de México desaparecieron de las calles. Se quedaron en casa, no salieron a trabajar, no compraron nada en ningún local comercial y están totalmente en silencio en las redes sociales. El mensaje real trasciende el impacto económico de este acto. El mensaje real es “¿y si algún día realmente desapareciera, de verdad, porque alguien piensa que mi vida no tiene valor?”
Ayer millones de mujeres en México y alrededor del mundo marcharon en contra de la desigualdad y la violencia femenina. En México, muchas de mis mejores amigas marcharon contra el aumento extremo de la violencia hacia las mujeres. Y la indiferencia del gobierno hacia los crímenes. Confieso, que hoy llore al ver las fotos y mensajes que compartieron de la marcha.
México siempre será uno de mis hogares, una gran parte de mi familia elegida vive allí. México hizo muchos de mis sueños realidad, durante los tres años que lo llame, mi casa. La esposa de un primo querido, ahora mi prima, es mexicana. Mi sobrina es mexicana. Se que hoy es un día trascendental. Tiene que serlo. Estoy ansiosa y emocionada de ver que sucede después de hoy.
Todas las niñas y mujeres del mundo tienen derecho a caminar por sus calles mirando hacia arriba en lugar de mirar hacia atrás. Todas las niñas y mujeres mexicanas tienen el derecho de florecer, detenerse libremente en cualquier esquina y disfrutar de la sombra púrpura única de un árbol de jacarandas, justo antes de regresar a su hogar a salvo.
Se que, en veinte años, seguiremos hablando de lo que sucedió en marzo del 2020.
I want to dedicate this post entirely to praise a book that reminded me this week, why people write books and why we read them.
Educated by Tara Westover will blow your mind. It is not only beautifully written, but it is also told in a tone and in a rhythm so particular that it makes you feel somehow part of the story. This book affected me; it is one of those stories that makes you want to sleep, take a breather, have a cup of tea, all at the same time.
Thank God for books like this. Books like Educated are little physical certitudes that the need for storytelling and story sharing is and will be eternal.
In her memoir, Tara Westover recounts her journey growing up in rural Idaho with parents that genuinely believed that the End of Days was coming. Her upbringing was traumatic and filled with brutal experiences, which she shares in the book, however, this story is more about self-preservation and the astonishing power of education.
If you like books that cause emotional and physical reactions, if you require inspiration, if you want to feel in awe of women’s conviction, this should be your next book!
I have been hooked recently with these emotional and insightful conversations between Oprah and her guest speakers. The interviews touch upon realizations, living a fulfilling life, mental health, self-love, making a difference, amongst other inspiring topics. These conversations are part of Oprah’s 2020 Vision Tour. Below my favorites so far, but to be fair everyone of the interviews is great. Conversations with Lady Gaga, Tina Fey, The Rock and Amy Schumer can also be found in https://www.instagram.com/ww.now/
I love me some good metaphors. Metaphors in books, music, and everyday lingo always inspire me. Hence, I will use one to describe the past few weeks: Obstacle race with museum days as aid stations. Museum days is a term I started using after reading The Big Five for Life.
I know I talk a lot about this book, but I really do love it. The book invites us to think, what if every day of our life was cataloged? Every feeling, interaction, and how we spent our time. And what if at the end of our life, our own museum was built? The museum would have a picture of every single day of our lives. Would we be satisfied with what we are seeing? Do we look happy in the photos? Fulfilled? Would we be proud of having visitors to our museum? Do we want them to see what is in there?
I absolutely love this, I usually find myself thinking wow, today was a real museum day or wishing people museum days on their birthdays. I also find myself thinking: “Wow, I wouldn’t like this day to be pictured in my museum.”
The past few weeks have felt like an obstacle course, mainly due to delays with my residency process in Denmark. It has been a long and very tedious process, one that has sucked a lot of our energy. But it made us make the following reflection, also inspired by TBFFL. We all have highs and lows, what we need to make sure is that our life curve ascends. This means reaching new highs, not just oscillate between the same highs and the same lows. We all have lows, we are experiencing some lows right now, but it is only because we are reaching out for higher highs.
The two pictures below explain TBFFL life curve better. The first one shows a life curve oscillating between the same two points. The second picture shows ascension; it still has lows but also higher highs
Everyday is a good day to have a museum day. Let’s go and make it happen!
I share the feeling with what seems to be the whole world. January indeed felt like it had 57 days. However, for me, this was actually a good thing!
If you read my post about winter in Copenhagen, you already know that after the holidays, I was cruising a writing flow. January felt eternal, but this little eternity helped me much. I finish my manuscript.
Yes, I finish my manuscript! I have been in utter shock for the past week. My brain and heart feel blissfully tired. But it is the type of fatigue you feel after you had a fantastic trip, or after you do an important presentation and made a customer happy. Or, the tiredness that comes after a race where you gave your best. It is the that-was-so-worth-it type of tired.
I am pretty sure this is the reason why I have been so intermittent with the blog and em’s Instagram page. The initial shock has started to slowly transform, and I am feeling incandescently happy.
This week I just wanted to share part of the definition of Feminism by American activist Bettina Aptheker. (Below is an excerpt).
“Feminism means that women shall have at least as much to say as men about everything in the arrangement of human affairs, including especially the meaning, purpose, and activities of their own lives.
Feminism means the collective empowerment of women.(…)
(…)women cannot achieve a collective empowerment without economic independence from men, full and gainful and meaningful employment, (and the education and training required for it) and freedom from poverty. Similarly, women’s collective empowerment requires that women have control over their own bodies.(…)
Likewise, women cannot achieve a collective empowerment unless they are free from all forms of violence and sexual coercion. (…)
Feminism is the complicated enterprise of achieving equality between women and men, and among all peoples. Feminism is about the elimination of all forms of hierarchy, and all systems of domination. It is about honoring the preciousness of all life. (…)
For these reasons feminism, as defined here, requires a radical reconstruction of human society.”
Feel free to share in the comment section or via direct email (Contact Tab) any insights you may have.
This week Em’s Extras is actually Em’s extra. I was feeling a little blue since I had nothing extra-interesting to share with you this week. (Yes, it was one of those weeks!) But then, this morning, one of my best friends sent me this video.
The Secret to Superhuman Performance: personally, I am most identified with the novelty trigger. This trigger goes on whenever I seek inspiration. It could be a new book, a new spot to write, a new online class, a trip to a place I have never been to, a conversation, a new idea, or concept.
The video was a good reminder, to actively search for triggers. What’s your favorite trigger? Are you actively seeking them?
Have an amazing weekend filled with flow triggers,
A little over a year ago, while having a girl’s night with my friends, my mind got sidetracked from the actual conversation and had the following realization. “There are some topics within the vast array of universal, essential, and transcendental world issues that demand not just an opinion; but a well-thought, informed, deeply reflected eloquent and respectful opinion.”
With some topics, you cannot just wing it. With some topics, reading the latest news, or the trending Facebook article is utterly not enough.
Some topics deserve a higher level of attention, conscious research, mindful personal conclusions. Not because we want to necessarily, influence or convince others of our opinion. But because the topics are so important to us and are so intertwined with our values and purpose, that we absolutely cannot improvise or give half-assed answers.
Feminism is one of those topics for me. That night with my girlfriends, I found myself talking about feminism and giving my honest opinion. It was nothing more than that, it was just my honest opinion at that exact moment. And it felt shallow somehow. If this is such an important topic for me, then it deserves the very best of me.
As part of my 2020 goals, I made a commitment to myself. I would choose my topics, my causes, and give them my best. I started a class a week ago about Feminism and Social Justice. Another reason is that there is a chapter in my book that touches upon one’s causes and the power of “respectfully disagreeing.”
There are topics where I do not want to just opine, suggest, or remark. There are topics where I want to enrich, contribute, and act.
What are the topics that deserve your best? What are your causes?
Recently one of my best and wisest friends shared with me her daily affirmations. I am a note-taker by heart, and I love quotes. I am always noting down words or phrases that inspire me or underlining sentences in books. I have been doing this since forever but never with a further intention other than perhaps momentarily inspiration.
Her beautiful, color-coded, plastered cards inspired me this week to do my collection of affirmations with extra-intention. I stole with pride some of hers and added others.
I am sharing with you this week, my daily affirmations. They are serving as an extra-kind reminder to enjoy this journey, to work hard and to kick self-doubt’s ass.
“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” Jennifer Lee
“Mindfulness, being present, without judgement, in every moment.” Unknown
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery
“Who are you is defined by what you are willing to struggle for.” Mark Manson
“Porque el utiliza su miedo como motor, y no como freno.” Paulo Coelho.
“Yo creo en los milagros.” My mom.
In need of extra-kind reminders? May this inspire you to work on your own collection.
Wishing you a weekend filled with kindness and intention, M.
This post is dedicated to all of the remarkable women out there, trying their best. To all of you, who day after day pour your heart and soul to your families, to your friends, to your jobs, and to your dreams. Hope this makes you smile.
Your strength is extraordinary. Your presence astonishing in so many ways. When I am standing close to you, I feel lighter, stronger. I feel amazed.
You go beyond. You go through. Exceptional is your middle name.
You mesmerize me. Thank you for what you did. Thank you for what you are doing. I will use admiration until I can find a better word.
Keep giving yourself to us and the rest of the world. The youer you are, the more fortunate we are.
Sharing 3 extra-interesting things I discovered or re-discovered this first week of the year:
Daniel Habif’s Instagram account: This is mainly for my Spanish-speaking readers, @danielhabif has extra interesting and extra inspirational quotes. He is a writer and public speaker with an extraordinary story.
Barack Obama’s Reading List: Go to @barackobama on Instagram to find his 2019 reading recommendations. Perfect for non-fiction lovers. From his list, I added to my list: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo and Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami.
Admiral McRaven Commencement Speech: this was a re-discovery, one of my favorite motivational speeches of all time. If it catches your attention, listened till the end, the last advice is the best.
Enjoy and let us never ever ring bell. Wishing you a memorable weekend, M.
I woke up extra early on December 30th and wrote down in a fresh new notebook, my 2020 goals.
For the past 5 years, I have listed my goals into these categories: 1) Mental and Spiritual Health, 2) Physical Health, 3) Family 4) Work & Career, 5) Books & Travel.
Even though I absolutely love making lists and crossing out items that are done, I made some changes this year. Now it looks, like an interconnected bubble, all goals lifting and supporting the BIG goal of this year, which is to publish my book. Work & Career has a specific name now: Em and the Shelf and there is a new category, Inspiration which includes all of the inspirational sources: books, travel, museums, classes, etc.,
The way the goals are phrased also changed.
Let me give you an example, one of my health goals last year was to maintain a weight of XXX pounds. This year, my goal is to focus on getting my core and back muscles stronger, as I have back pains constantly. Instead of focusing on a number on the scale, in 2020, my goal encompasses having 20-25 days a month of healthy eating. To me, this means 3 liters of water daily, vitamins, lots of greens, 1-2 carb portions a day, and no wine.
Here is another example, before I would set my book goals something like: read XX number of books per month or read one book per week for 52 weeks. In 2020, my goal is to take more time in carefully selecting my reading list, review every book I read, and share it via Instagram.
2020 is about focusing on my goals but going deeper into the process. 2020 is about taking control but also taking charge, which I have come to believe is not the same thing.
Taking charge of my life, to me, means not just taking control by choosing a specific goal but, the actual commitment to the process that will make that goal a reality. And not just a simple reality. The best possible reality within the framework of the goal.
In 2020 I will keep calm and write on. I will chase all of my goals. But, most importantly, will commit to the process of making those goals a reality. My commitment will have the strongest intent and a profound will.
Let’s be fearless and chase our goals in 2020!
Words fail to describe how thankful I am of YOU reading me, M.
This is the new format. Let me know if you are interested in more examples of how I have changed the phrasing of my goals.
This post dedicated to another M, a true inspiration of goal chasing and commitment.
So sorry I haven’t been consistent with the extras, but the good news is that they are back!
Oprah’s Super Soul Conversation with Paul Coelho: it is so inspirational to hear Paulo Coelho’s journey not only as a writer but also as a person in search of his personal legend. He talks about how he lives life, honoring all the learnings, concepts, and beliefs that are found in The Alchemist. The interview is divided into two parts, I liked the first one better. Below you can find the Youtube link; you can also find it directly in Spotify.
12 days of Christmas @emandtheshelf Instagram: For the past 7 days, I have been posting a daily review of my favorite books in honor. I will continue to publish one daily until Christmas Eve. If you are working on your Reading List for 2020 or want some extra inspiration for holiday gifts, go to Instagram and take a look!
The Arrogance of Belonging Concept: I first read this concept a couple of years ago in the book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (Author of the International Best Seller: Eat, Pray, Love). It refers to the importance of belonging and how it is necessary to live our most fearless and creative life. Recently found below article, it has extracts from the book and other helpful and interesting information.
Handwritten Christmas Letter and Cards: Can we please bring back handwritten Christmas letters and cards? Please! Watched A Marriage Story in Netflix yesterday, in one of the scenes, the protagonists read long handwritten letters of all the things they love about each other. Even though in the movie, the context of the letters is kind of sad, I thought, “what a great Christmas present for a loved one.” I may write a couple of long letters this holiday season.
It’s not that I insist on mostly using Harry Potter references. Sometimes things are just better explained with the poetic metaphors of J.K Rowling.
One of my favorite magical artifacts from the books and movies has always been, the Hogwarts’s Mirror of Erised. This magic mirror shows the user his or her heart’s deepest desire. When Harry used it the first time, he could see his dead parents standing next to him.
J.K Rowling once explained that the happiest man (or woman) on earth would be able to use this mirror like a normal one. He would look into it and see himself exactly as he is.
In the past weeks, there were three times where I felt that if I had The Mirror of Erised with me, it would show me just my reflection in that exact moment. In those three events during November, my magical mirror was a normal one.
During October, I sent 3 invitations to 3 different groups of girlfriends to attend reading parties, my reading parties in November. The idea was to share chapters of my non-fiction book and get their first impressions and feedback. I was lucky enough to share my writing with friends in Barcelona, Mexico, and Honduras, and it was a dream come true.
The reading parties surpassed my expectations, not just because they took it extremely seriously (I love them so much for that!), but because they were so invested. They were so open at sharing their thoughts, so honest at sharing their opposing views. They were direct yet gentle when they told me, “in this chapter you need to dig deeper” or “are you absolutely sure you want to share such a personal anecdote?
The reading parties were filled with hugs, tears, stories, realizations, wine, cheeseboards, pajamas, pictures, questions, more cheese, and many laughs.
The interactions, conversations, and feedback fueled my dream; it was more than just validation, it was a sublime sense of certitude of what the future can look like.
It was an intense “Keep Calm (no matter how hard it gets) and Write on.”
I want to thank my girlfriends, for taking the time, for sharing, and oversharing, for the challenging questions, the feedback but above all for being remarkable life cheerleaders.
This post is dedicated to my fearless girls: A, A, C, C, M, C, G & J.
You could say November and December were wordless months; I know I definitely feel this way. As per my last post, the three weeks I spent in Honduras with my family were blissful. Family time is always a gift.
I haven’t written much, but much has happened in the past four weeks. To begin with, I had my very first conversation with an editor! The mom of one of my girlfriend’s works in a publishing house in Chile, and she was kind enough to set up a call with the in-house editor.
As I told the smart and lovely editor lady in my thank you note, it was my first real conversation with someone from the book industry. We did not talk about my book per se, but she did shed light on the publishing process-at least in Latin America. She was very open while sharing the steps and complexities of traditional publishing channels and her own selection process.
Wanted to share the highlights of that conversation:
• Identifying the genre is vital. If the book is too complex to categorize, this becomes a roadblock. • An author should have clear and consistent answers to the following questions: Why am I writing what I am writing? Where does the voice come from? What moves me? What is the most unique element of my work? Who am I as an author? Who is the reader? • Transforming oneself from a person to an author is an intimate process that requires extensive reflection and self-criticism.
We also talked about the selection process and how cumbersome it can get. I will try to talk more about it in my next post.
After the call, I felt overwhelmed, to say the least. I knew writing a book and publishing would be hard, but it just feels more real now. I acknowledged the overwhelming feeling and immediately conducted a self-intervention. I told myself a phrase that is often used by one of my (wisest) friends: “Those are situations that Marcela of the future will handle.” The most important thing to do now is write!
I am settling back in my routine in Copenhagen, getting ready to enjoy Christmas while reminding myself every day to: Keep Calm and Write on!
Hola dear readers, I know I have been wordless for a while. It was definitely not on purpose. I came to San Pedro Sula, Honduras (my hometown) almost two weeks ago. In 7 years, this is the longest time I have stayed in a single visit. I wanted to come to have extended quality with my family, to hug my mom, to grieve my grandpa, and to write from home.
I thought my heart needed to write from San Pedro Sula, but I was wrong. My heart and soul both needed to just be in San Pedro Sula. To enjoy my family’s routine, noise, and sometimes chaos. My heart needed to run around the city, to do errands with my mom, and not be glued to my phone. My heart needed to spend time with my sister and look at old pictures of my grandparents. My heart needed my dad sending me flowers and listening to my brother sing from the shower. My heart needed so many things, things I can only find here.
I am staying ten more days; my plans are just to be. To be present and to really be here for the next ten days.
In that spirit, please find my first official holiday wish list for you.
Wishing you all just two things for this holiday season: Family and Mindfulness.
Be there, but really be there;
Observe your mom’s hands and your dad’s wrinkles.
Take your grandparents’ hands.
Listen to every laugh and pay attention.
Not just hug, embrace.
Savor the wine, savor the coffee, but mostly the company.
Take mental pictures to keep them in your heart and mind.
Talk, make conversation, read, and share.
Eat, stay longer at the table, cook, and share again.
Be there, but really be there.
Happy (almost) December Eve and thanks for reading me, M.
We had Chris-giving yesterday; since I am flying back to Denmark on the 10th. My mom made the perfect turkey. Thanksgiving became one of my favorite holidays while living in the US.
In my last post, I told you that some days, I wish I could just cast the “Accio” charm and make inspiration come to me. I have been dedicated solely to writing for almost two months now. On the days where I do not write because-simply put-nothing comes out, I usually feel frustrated and annoyed with myself. Sometimes, I even feel lazy.
Those days (our blank days) are just reminders to pay close attention to our surroundings. Recently I have needed to remind myself that blank days exist for a reason. Without blank days, we would miss so much! Those days are needed to dig deeper, to run faster, to hug tighter, and especially to listen attentively.
Let me tell you a story about one of my most “uninspired” days. One that I know I will never forget. First a little back story. In 2017, I was working in Mexico. A senior finance leader was visiting our office, and I gave him a presentation about our most pressing financial issues. He liked it so much that he personally invited me to go to India to share the same presentation in a global workshop. I’ll admit (with shame), I was not thrilled at all about the invitation. I knew it was a fantastic opportunity, but personally, it was not great timing. My boss basically told me I couldn’t say no, so I half-hearted agreed. The visa and travel process had lots of hiccups, which did not help with my general feeling about the trip. After traveling for more than a day and having a no-sleep night, I was feeling extremely irritated while waiting for the taxi that would take me from the hotel to the workshop venue.
While waiting, I felt moody, tired, uninspired. I felt blank. The last thing I wanted to do was to spend 8 hours talking about Finance issues. All of a sudden, a very smiley young man approached me. He completely changed my (uninspired) day. The following story takes place in a taxi:
Short Story: Muti
M: “Hi, what is your name?” Taxi Driver: “Muti, ma’am.” M: “My name is Marcela.” M: “Do you like working in Chennai?” Muti: Chennai, sand, and tropic. Chennai really good.” M: “Are you from Chennai?” Muti: “No, ma’am, village.” M: “Where do you like the most? Chennai or village?” Muti: “Chennai, work. Village, family. Village always best.”
The feeling of belonging and family is universal. My conversation with Muti was the best way to start my day. It made me miss my village very much.
I wrote above in my phone seconds after Muti left me at the office stairs. I wanted to remember the exact conversation. The reason why I did not want to go on this trip had to do with the dates clashing with a trip to Honduras to visit my family. With his raw and simple answers, Muti described precisely what I was feeling. We were two foreigners working while missing our family; the only difference was that Muti was enjoying the sand and tropic, and that felt like a slap. That conversation changed my day; it completely changed that trip for me.
Listening has power. Listening is inspiration in its purest forms. We need those blank days; we need them to do less and listen more. Eventually, inspiration will come, and when inspiration comes by, grab it and act on it.
Are you feeling uninspired today? But that’s not the right question, is it? This is: Are you listening?