About Bravery

I’ve never considered myself a brave person or a strong one. Not in a unique, special way. I just think of myself as a person, an individual, with its own path in life. They say what you experience in life makes you who you are. I do not deny that, but I do deeply believe that most of what makes you who you are, are the choices, the decisions you’ve made.

When people say I am brave for leaving my country and move to somewhere else, I experience surprise and that weird, strange feeling that “I’ve never really thought about that“.

Let’s start by clarifying what it feels to leave your country.

Continue reading “About Bravery”

The Palpitations before the Earthquake

A chapter is about to be closed.  Usually, the writer feels accomplishment when finishing a chapter, by giving a deep breath, knowing that there is something that he can leave behind. However, a few moments later, the weight of the expectations for the beginning of the next chapter awakes him as if it was the annoying song of the clock in the morning.

In life, the same happens. When closing a stage in life, we get that pleasant feeling of having innumerous possibilities for the new one. But then, after a while, it doesn’t matter how brave we might be, the uncertainty about these same possibilities, when thinking in the diversity of paths we can choose, freaks us out. We can’t stop thinking about it, every single moment. We dream about it. We go to the beach trying to just admire the blue of the ocean, and the pressure is always there. We try to hold off these upsetting thoughts about everything going terribly wrong when going out with friends, having drinks, and we can’t! It is like a parasite lodging in our brains, feeding on our despair and driving us mad!

Did anyone ever felt like this before? I am supposed to believe that I am normal when I just can’t make my brain to stop thinking?

I got completely sick with my job, so I am not continuing there. It is my decision, one of the bravest I have taken in my entire life, but I am feeling incredibly well with it. I know I am doing the right thing for me, ‘cause the job is really killing me. Remain true to myself is one of the few things I have left (well, that and my growing closet and bookshelves). But what about now? That’s the feeling. This fucked up mind of mine can’t stop weighting the consequences of this. Since I am quite used to things to go wrong, regardless of my efforts and hard work, I am so insanely afraid of things not getting better. And if it gets worse, I just don’t know what to do. (Unfortunately) I am a girl with GREAT EXPECTATIONS (Charles Dickens ref.)!

There is this adrenaline rush in my veins, to be honest. Adrenaline transformed into fear, turned into adrenaline all over again. Sometimes, I want to cry and I can’t. I just really can’t, my body won’t allow me the pleasure. My body also seems to think that I don’t need to sleep. I think my brain is consciously trying to kill me, sometimes. And, I feel these pointing things in my head and in my heart, and I start to feel a bit dizzy, without being drunk or doing crazy shopping.

My studies are finally finishing too. This chapter that I am currently closing has a lot of stuff in it. At least, I think I can categorize this as a good thing (besides the travelling, and the bookish and fashionista addiction that led me to spend a lot of money in this chapter of my life). At least there is something.

These are the palpitations before the earthquake. When everything gets suddenly quiet, animals start to behave in a strange way, and the earth makes movements so soft that humans cannot possibly feel it.  When the sky is a bit odd, with a yellow-oranged color, when it seems there is no wind or air circulating at all, and everything is stopped in expectation. And then, the floor trembles and it shakes every single structure, every single being, every rock, river and even the insignificant dust in the surface of this earth.

I just hope that the earthquake will shake my life in good ways, in amazingly awesome ways.

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Coimbra, Portugal (2012)

The Dream Ripper – a Tale on Depression

Once upon a time there was a Dream Ripper.

It wasn’t a man or a woman. He had no shape, no color, no smell. People couldn’t see it; they don’t even suspect of its existence. However, he used to crumble inside their heads, using its talent to distort reality and make them forget their passions, their ambitions, their spirit… he was so talented that grabbed every bit of the everyday life and manipulated its truth so each person would feel weak, unconfident, and unable to do whatever they once wanted to do. The “thing” literally destroyed the dreams of every single victim. And what was more disgusting about this crime was that anyone realized what had happened. They just become depressed, and somewhat erratic, limited to do what any animal need to do: to survive. Their hearts were full of distress and unhappiness. People attacked by this criminal didn’t even know who they were anymore. They used to be lighter and now their heads were heavy as if just the act of “living” was a terrible responsibility to carry just because they didn’t have the courage of ending it.

Cities became even grayer. Villages were dead with anyone left in it – there wasn’t anyone to take care of the elders, no children to bring joy to the streets. People were so unhappy that even the artists only could paint, and draw and create on grayscale. Clothes were gray, black or white. Any book cover had a sad or morbid title in it. Any sculpture or painting was on something or someone dying or crying, mostly suffering.

Even animals run away or started dying with no apparent reason. Cats and dogs were found dead in the streets and there wasn’t sign of birds in the sky or in public gardens. In the farms, animals started to die because their owners had lost ambition and willingness. Businesses closed every single day because employees stopped going to work, managers of once loved brands were sick of life, a wave of discouragement was reaching every layer of any hierarchical organization. Even the Government was silent. Universities were suddenly with no students, with no investigators, rooms and labs abandoned.

 Supermarkets had to throw away food because suddenly people weren’t eating anymore. Bars, discos, restaurants, any other place for entertainment or leisure had to close. Nobody wanted to enjoy life, nobody wanted to be with anyone. The social part of being human was gone.

Suicides were uncountable. Eventually people stopped to talk about it because it was spreading like the plague. Even children started to do the same, imitating what their parents and family members did. Nobody saw a reason to live anymore. The planet was a cold and unfriendly place.

The criminal just got away with it. Anyone was willing to investigate why everyone was so depressed, why everything was stopping and dying because of it.

Eventually the ripper started to feel lost. There wasn’t any dream left for him to destroy. Children’s were his favorite victim, because their minds were full of expectations and imagination. Their dreams were abundant and, once one was destroyed, another appeared right away. However, the world was now only full of adults and elders. Couples were separated by depression and there were no families wanting to have children.

Adults had no more dreams and elders just wanted to die.

Everything seemed to have ended when the Dream Ripper found a light in the middle of his darkness. A girl was still full of dreams. “Great”, thought the Dream Ripper, “I can enjoy a little longer”. He tried and tried to destroy that girl expectation, but for the first time the girl recognized him. “You can’t destroy my dream, since my dream is to kill you ”,  she said in a peremptory tone, yet with a unique sweetness in her voice. The Dream Ripper stepped back, confused and chocked. However, he recomposed himself quite fast, since he didn’t want to show weakness to that little girl. “And how do you intend to do that, little girl?”, he asked, in a facetious tone.

“It is simple. Like any other human being,  I want to accomplish my position in this life. I have dreams and I am not ever giving up on them. I’ll learn with my mistakes and deceptions, and I’ll suffer and cry sometimes. However, I am also enjoy every single minute on this Earth. I  will be happy, and I’ll smile. I will make every single survivor of your crimes to believe in this because it is the truth. And then you’ll starve to death, because you feed on disappointment and depression since you, yourself, have no dreams at all. And that would be your own grave”

The Dream Ripper laugh at this not believing. However, the girl survived in the inhospitable place the world had become. Her light was visible and her fierce was the strength that inspired her parents to live, her neighbors become stronger, her teachers in school had the willing to teach again. Her story was spread across borders and inspired people everywhere. The Dream Ripper couldn’t reach any mind. He was desperate and weak.

So finally, with anyone left to rip off dreams, the Dream Ripper had no dreams at all. And eventually, he became nothing.

And nothing is easily forgotten.

Nicole I.

“Let it go” – a way to survive life

Sometimes you just need to let it go. It is an advice given by many in the last few days. And I do understand the importance of doing that, and I wish it could be that easy. Let it go, let it go, let it go. Ooh, I have to do it everyday… just let all the bad feelings, all the bad thoughts go away, free myself from anger and distress. In my workplace, I constantly have to do it. I never felt more like a Cinderella; I do all the “dirty” work, they treat me as an office accessory. I just hope that someday I’ll be laughing at this, in a job where I can grow professionally, where I can actually do what I like, where my ideas wouldn’t be ignored.

I am a person who lives everything very deeply and lively. As a person who has its career has a big priority in life, I’ve always been very hardworking, proactive and exigent. So, if something is important, like my job, I am all in.  However, I’ve learned to keep many of my emotions off, hidden somewhere in my mind. To conceal it and to not feel it, like Elsa in Frozen. But I have also to learn to not let the way people treat you define who you are, like has happened with Ella, from Cinderella. Amazing how Disney can still be so representative of my life, even when I’m a 22 year-old girl.

So, my conclusion is: I have to let go all the bad feelings, at least try to the bestI can. I have to focus on the good things. But there is one thing I can’t let go of. Hope. Hope that someday I will be happier and able to achieve my goals and dreams.

This feeling reminded me of a photo I took in El Escorial, Spain. It was a cold winter, and all trees were naked. But this one little leaf was holding on the branch, in spite of the cold wind, it was resisting and couldn’t let go the tree. I thought It was adorable, a metaphor for life. No matter how hard things go, we have to have the courage to not let hope die, to keep focus on your dreams and never, but never give up.

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How Books have been Saving me from Madness

Even when I didn’t know how to read, books were saving me. Born in a family that doesn’t have a great predilection for books, the reason why I was so eager to devour them was quite a mystery. I have been the different one, always feeling as an outsider. I was so desperate to learn how to read those books that  I used to make up the stories from the pictures. I remember that my friends from preschool thought I was already able to read because I was carrying books everywhere and telling them the stories.

When I was finally able to decipher the meaning of all those letters together, NOBODY could stop me. I used to whine, to beg my parents to buy me books. Then I would spend hours reading and reading. Books have given me more than anything in this world or even anyone could. Great knowledge and the ability to write fluently with no effort.  However, the most important is that they have literally saved me from madness. At times when I felt abnormal because I didn’t like the same stuff other kids liked or, even in times, as a teen, when I used to think I was surrounded by idiots, because everyone was so stupid, books were my saviors.  I’ve grown up in a small village, where nothing happens, where everybody is basically the same. I always wanted more than the provincial life I was in. And books offered me that. They have shown me a way out, that there was more in the world than that.

In my books, that was my story, my life. I could be whoever I wanted, I could do whatever I wanted. I felt part of something. I travelled this world and others, through magical lands, with dragons, sorcerers, vampires, knights, elves… Nobody can ever take me the pleasure of living those stories. I got to know in depth the human soul and nature, I felt the fear, the happiness, the sadness. I still remember the first time I cried while reading a book. It was deeply emotional. I felt connected with it, it was almost magical. I was able to travel to Argentina, Mexico, US, UK, Australia, Ecuador, China, Japan, India and so many other places! With my imagination, I could sense everything. The smells, the flavors, the textures…

 My parents didn’t and don’t understand. My mother used to ground me, because I used to spend my vacation days reading and I didn’t complete my domestic tasks. My father laugh ironically  and condescendingly and he used to ask “what the hell do you learn reading those things?”. Well, father, a lot.

Without quite realizing, I was accumulating precious knowledge, even while reading fiction. In conversations, it happens quite a lot to be able to say something about a random topic just because I read it somewhere. My brains have gained elasticity, adaptability.

The only thing bothered me was that I hadn’t anyone to speak about books. So I had to learn by myself what books to read. However, the task wasn’t easy. Nobody could lend me books, because I didn’t know anyone who actually like to read. Because I lived in a small village, there was no library.  Books were expensive and I didn’t have much money. Later, my kind neighbor started to lend me some books, when she discovered that I really loved to read. However, they were mostly cheap romances that were likable, but not really my cup of tea. So, when I was able to get Internet in my home, I used it to search for titles, and then I found the Classics.

I started to read them vigorously. I’ve just found my drug. And then, when I went to college, one of my professors started to suggest more and more classics. I found a used bookstore in the city and I was spending the little money I had in there.

Now, even working and studying at the same time, I just have to read before going to bed. Those pages really save me from madness. When I was an awkward kid and then an awkward teen. When I had to submit myself to a surgery that killed great part of my teenage years. When my family was falling apart, among discussions, fights and suicides. When I was in college and everything was so disappointing that I just wanted to drown myself in alcohol.  When I had break ups, lost friends, when I was betrayed. When I finished those years and I found myself without expectations. And finally now, when I am in a shitty job, and I feel lonely again, books are my constant companions.

My shelves will always be full of books. For me they are living things in there, hiding their stories, their characters, their despair, their happiness. Hiding all those incredible lands with incredible sights. And one day I will have a library in my own home!

Happy World Book Day for every bookworm out there!

 A sample of my shelf.

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Cinderella’s “Have courage and be kind” motto and mine’s “True kindness is in my dog’s eyes”

Sunday afternoons are great for childhood reminders. On afternoons like the one I’ve had, feeling a bit chilly, what fits perfectly is a Disney movie. The new live motion of Cinderella was my choice. I was super curious about this movie, since it has so many actors I’ve been following in series and mainly because of the magical scenarios and I, being passionate about clothing, was in an urge to see the dresses.

I may add that the blue dress is dreamy and it didn’t disappoint me. Cinderella wasn’t my favorite Disney princess as I was growing old – I’ve always seen her as too passive, too innocent, too submissive – but that blue dress, even in the cartoon version, has always been fascinating me.

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Well, I am not here to write about dresses. I am here writing because this movie reminded me why I become so disappointed with life. Disney movies made me believe that dreams may actually come true if you are kind, generous, if you work hard, if you always keep your principles and values. That’s a myth. A Disney myth, that I much adore, but it is not real.

Have courage and be kind. That’s the advice that Cinderella’s mother gave to her before her death, and all movie goes around that one principle. Have courage and be kind. A dream is a wish your heart makes. It is deeply beautiful, don’t you think? If the real world was like that, then I will be happier. But it isn’t. The real world is not a fairy tale and the raw truth is that if you are as Cinderella, you’ll always be downtrodden by others. In the real world nobody cares about your dreams, about your values. Nobody cares. Everything is done to get what is needed.

Kindness is actually a myth, I must say and highlight. Being kind has brought me nothing but sorrow and loneliness. In people, I don’t see kindness. Only greed, jealousy, corruption, falsehood, perfidy.  This is our sad world and truth.

Do you want to know where I see true honesty? Pure joy, pure feelings? True kindness? In my dog’s eyes. Those eyes can’t hide anything.  This may sound as a cliché, but I believe this is why we are told that a dog is a man’s best friend. There are no greedy feelings.  Loyalty and pure joy with a rub toy or just a stick.

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