One Apple A Day #577 – shed the old skin

The other day I was walking in a park surrounded by the sound of thousands of cicadas. A typical soundtrack in the Italian summer.
But this time, a friend showed me all their abandoned skins on the side of the trees.

I’m fascinated by these transformation processes in nature, so I had to learn more.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

The female cicada deposit her eggs within slits in the bark of a tree. When the eggs hatch, the newborn nymphs drop to the ground, dig and hide into the soil.
The nymphs live underground for most of their lives. They have strong front legs for digging. They create their home close to roots, and they feed on their sap.

At some point, when they are ready to transform in their final nymphal state, they create an exit tunnel to the surface and emerge into the light. The find a tree and start climbing. During the climb, they shed their skin – a process called moult – for the last time. The new adult cicada emerges, the one we can hear in summer. The abandoned skins still clinging to the bark of the trees.

I find the whole process magical. When the cicada is ready to move into the adult life, it leaves behind the old skin so the new self can emerge to bring its magic to the world.

What do you have to shed and leave behind to bring your magic into the world?

One Apple A Day #576 – Celebrating change

Change is inevitable. Change is constant. -Benjamin Disraeli

Yep, it’s again that day of the year.
My birthday.
An opportunity to look back with gratitude and acknowledge all the changes I’ve been through.
The ones I choose and the ones that I tried to avoid.
The delightful ones and the painful ones.
The ones that I embraced and the ones I resisted.
And also the ones that didn’t happen or I didn’t remember at all.
They all contribute to getting me where I am and making me who I am.

In this morning card, my friend Vanessa wrote, “if nothing else, you can rely on change“.

I want to use this birthday’s apple to celebrate “change”.

So, here’s to changes and to life.

When you’re finished changing, you’re finished. -Benjamin Franklin

One Apple A Day #575 – alignment and flow

Imagine that you have a field full of crops, and they need water to grow. Luckily for you, there is a big lake close by that can provide all the water that you need. To carry the water where you need it, you build a pipe from the lake to your field.
Because there is quite a distance to cover, the pipe is formed by a few segments. Unfortunately, the terrain is uneven, and the parts do not align correctly. As a result, a lot of water goes wasted while flowing from the source to the field, your crops struggle and they don’t produce all the fruits they could.

Sometimes, I feel like that pipe struggling to get enough water to the crops.

The lake is the infinite source of my human potential, and the field is the manifestation of that potential in the real world.
Only when all the parts of me are aligned, that energy flows freely and fully into my actions. Those parts are my soul, my mind, my heart and my body.
When they are not fully aligned, part of my energy goes wasted, and I can’t express my full potential.

But when they all aligned, oh dear, I can feel the energy flowing through me like a forceful river.

That is the feeling of “flow” or “being in the zone” to me.

Have you experienced it?

One Apple A Day #567 – lesson learned

I confess. This morning I’m so sleepy and sluggish that even moving my fingers on the keyboard requires a lot of effort.
I almost fell asleep during my morning stretching exercises.

You can imagine how hard it has been to find something to write about this morning. All this struggle to think straight and to write brought back a recent memory.
Tuesday morning we took a taxi in Barcelona to go from the train station to the port. The taxi driver was a lovely guy, and we had a chat on our way through the traffic. Nothing special, you know. We started talking about the traffic and how it has changed in the last few years. When we asked if he likes to live in Barcelona, his answer was a small gem.
Of course, he loved to live there.
But the reason he gave was unexpected for me.
He told us that he is always happy; that’s why the city smiles back to him.
His grandmother – abuela – told him something when he was a kid that has been his mantra since then.

“Si tienes comida, come. Si no tienes comida, no come.”

If you have food, eat. If you don’t have food, don’t eat.

Life is simple, he said, just take what you have and get the best out of it.

So, this morning I’m following the advice of a taxi driver from Barcelona. I’m going with what I have, my sleepy brain, getting the best out of it.

One Apple A Day 565 – gratitude & wonder

I just started a journey that will move my life to a new place. So, know I’m in a space in-between of some sort. Where everything is temporary, changing and moving.

It is from this place that I am writing this morning. So, this post may come out confused, or maybe crisp and clear. I don’t know.
I’ll go with the moment.
I am writing from the space in-between.

Everything that lies behind me has prepared me for this moment. Everything that lies before me gives meaning to this moment.
This moment, this place is all that exists, the here and now.
Isn’t this how life is?
Standing like acrobats on the unstable rope between past and future.
Don’t look down, they say.
Just breathe and keep walking.
There is only this moment.
There is only the next step.

We all have experienced failure. We lost our balance and slipped on that thin, unstable rope.
So, we need to choose how we want to look at the past because it will inform how you deal with the here and now.
I choose gratitude because it makes my feet steady.

They also say that to keep my balance on that thin rope, I should point my gaze to a fixed point before me. Though, often the way ahead is lost in the midst. What do you do when the future is uncertain?
I choose to look ahead with wonder because it makes my feet lighter. And if no clear point is visible ahead, then I’ll create it with my imagination.

I breathe.
In and out.
Gratitude and wonder.
Another step forward.

One Apple A Day #564 – pain

“Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.” — Kahlil Gibran

When I read this quote from Gibran, a word stands out; “pain”.
I can’t really say why, but I feel a deep connection with that word.
Maybe because nowadays everyone seems to focus mostly on happiness, considering pain a momentary condition to overcome as soon as possible.

Or maybe it is because it is “pain” that taught me the most powerful lessons in my life.

I’m well aware of the inspiring power of wonder or the energy created by joy. But we should never underestimate the creative potential of pain.

Pain is part of life.  When we feel pain, we can do everything we can to get rid of it. Or we can explore it to find the lesson it carries.

I believe that to awaken the artist within, we must be willing to delve into pain and sadness, to explore our shadows, to face our dragons.

“Our fears are like dragons guarding our deepest treasures.” — Rainer Maria Rilke

One Apple A Day #563 – wealth

It’s scorching everywhere in Europe so, if like me you don’t like air conditioning, having a sound and refreshing sleep is not easy.
This morning I woke up, went out in the terrace and sit there to do my morning meditation. Often, it is through this practice that the ideas for these posts emerge.
But this morning, thanks to the cool sunrise breeze, I fell asleep.
This mundane experience made me think about the importance of having a regenerating rest. How many people are unable, for many reasons, to rest properly?
Isn’t this somehow a measure of wealth?
This question opened up a new stream of reflections about the idea we, or maybe I should say I have about wealth.
Wealth is typically measured in money and stuff.
You’re wealthy if you have money in the bank, houses, cars, clothes, technology and so on.
But what about other essential things like health, love or fulfilment?

Over the last years, I’ve witnessed many times the resourceful support of family and friends through tough moments; that kind of richness can be bought, but it also doesn’t happen on its own. It must be nurtured investing your most significant resource; yourself.

Maybe, we should have a more holistic vision about wealth, one that includes your finance, sure, but also your health, your emotions, your mind and your soul.

One Apple A Day #559 – How do I show up?

Before the challenges of life – the small and personal ones, so close to us to fill up our vision, and the big ones that are shaping the future of humanity – we usually ask ourselves “what can I do?“.

What can I do for climate change?
What can I do for the dear friend who’s going through a tough time?
What can I do to be happier with my partner?

All powerful and essential questions without an easy answer.
As a result, too often the answer is “nothing“.
So, I am wondering. What if “what can I do” is the wrong question?
What if we turn the direction of our quest inward by asking “Who can I be“?

Or, if you want to make it more practical, then you should ask “How do I show up?“.

How do I show up amid climate change?
How do I show up for my dear friend who’s going through a tough time?
How do I show up with my partner?

But be aware, because these are challenging questions. They ask you to look inward, to check your intentions and, above all, you can’t use “nothing” as a valid answer.
Neither you can postpone the action that comes with the answer.
Because this is about your identity, your being.

“The word identity was originally derived from the Latin words essentitas, which means being, and identidem, which means repeatedly. Your identity is literally your repeated beingness.” — James Clear

The way you show up here and now, is how you show up every day in everything.

One Apple A Day #558 – a pause

Sometimes I have the feeling that all our doing, our being busy, our effort in filling up our lives with things, with people, with experiences, it’s just a way to avoid listening to what wants to emerge.
You may give it different names depending on your culture and your upbringing; call, vocation, purpose.
Whatever the label you decide to use, you know what I’m talking about.
It is that feeling like when you fall in love with someone.
And no matter your will or your reasoning, it’s a force that pulls you towards the other person.
It is a beautiful feeling, but it is also scaring.
Because to live it fully we need to let go of our desire to control, we need to surrender and welcome the not knowing.

So, we fill up every space in our lives to block that force from emerging.
What if what wants to emerge is too challenging?
What if it pulls us towards places we don’t know how to reach?
What if it challenges us to step away from the things on which we built the lives we have?

And yet, can you think to something more blissful than falling in love?
What it takes is just slowing down a bit, taking a pause, a step back creating an opening in our crazy life, so we can make space for what wants to emerge.

One Apple A Day #551 – untitled

“Just slap anything on when you see a blank canvas staring you in the face like some imbecile. You don’t know how paralyzing that is, that stare of a blank canvas is, which says to the painter, ‘You can’t do a thing’. The canvas has an idiotic stare and mesmerizes some painters so much that they turn into idiots themselves. Many painters are afraid in front of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the real, passionate painter who dares and who has broken the spell of `you can’t’ once and for all.”

Vincent van Gogh wrote this passionate advice to his brother Theo. As I shared yesterday, I have the same experience when I stare at the blank document on my screen before writing anything. This is why I spend a few minutes to find a starting point before opening the laptop. Some mornings I look back at the experiences or the conversations I had the day before, other mornings, I use the BeTheChange cards, or I can start from something I’ve read.
I believe inspiration is within us, it is a state of the being. All those sources of inspiration are just triggers that allow for something, a story that is already in me to find its way out.

So, this morning I did the same process. But nothing came out. To be honest, I had many ideas, but no one stuck. I find myself staring at the black canvas within. It soon becomes paralyzing.
At that moment, when I felt lost before the void in my mind, I remembered that quote from Van Gogh.

How often in life, we feel stuck staring at a blank canvas? That canvas take may many forms: the story we want to tell, the love we want to share, the journey we want to start, the future we want to paint. And we stand there, without an idea on how to begin while the void of that blank canvas grows into us.
I know the feeling, I’ve been there. And I don’t have an easy trick to get out of it. In the end, the only way to begin something is to do it.
I know, this doesn’t make it any easier.

Though, maybe the first step can be to acknowledge that we are stuck. That we have no idea on how to begin our craft.
Who knows, maybe in accepting our humanness we may create the space for an unexpected story to emerge.
An untitled one.