Success – an update on Amjed

This is just a quick post to let you know that Amjed got a job ๐Ÿ™‚
I cannot express how happy I felt when he told me. It was just one more way the universe was reinforcing how anything possible if you believe. I had been told by some people that he would have to go home,back to Pakistan as there were too many obstacles in the way of him successfully obtaining a job and living a nice life here. In fact, at a loss for a better solution, I suggested it to him myself but he was determined to stay and find work, probably because he didn’t have the luxury of that option. And his optimism and determination paid off. When I met him the other day he was armed with a big book, a phrase book with each page divided into three columns- Spanish, English and Urdu. Instead of feeling overwhelmed with hopelessness and despair, he decided to spend his time wisely by teaching himself not one, but two new languages, to better prepare himself for the future life he just knew he would succeed in creating here. I felt so proud of him. Witnessing his difficult journey, even from a safe distance, really taught me a lot. It showed me that alot of people would rather look away for fear the poverty of others will make them feel bad. I learned that most people will assess the risk to their own lives first before attempting to help others and in fact, perhaps enter the situation with scepticism as well as caution. Imagine if we saw the world for what it really is, that we are all an extension of one another, therefore to create a better world for ourselves we must help those in need. We cannot receive what we first don’t give.
One of the positive elements I will retain from this experience is that more than ever I realise how lucky I am to have a roof over my head, a family who loves me and supports me and enough to eat every day. It has reinforced for me how we are always in the right place at the right time if we believe it. I am glad I was in the park that day and that I didn’t just walk away when I was being ‘bothered’ by a stranger. I am glad I trusted myself and my instincts and didn’t listen to people suggest that perhaps it was a scam or that I was being taken advantage of. We all have an energy system of intuition inside, available at all times to protect us and guide us in the right direction, hence I had no such negative or doubting thoughts.Amjed showed me that you can always achieve what you want, if you persevere and stay positive. I don’t know if I’ll meet him in the park anymore but that’s ok. Everyone comes into our lives for an unknown period of time to teach us a lesson, about life or about ourselves. I wish him all the best in his new life. X



5 ways to create your best life

I love this quote. We are here on this earth for a purpose. Some people spend their lives wondering what their purpose is whilst others never question it all. Many lose themselves in the daily routines of life and live life less purposefully than they deserve. Why do you wake up in the morning?Recent research shows that a lot of people don’t know the answer to that question. They have lost their purpose in life.

An easy way to regain this sense of purpose is to ask yourself what is your passion. What is the thing that you would do for the rest of your life never getting paid for it? What makes you so passionate that you want to share it with others in your life? It might be something creative, writing, painting, singing. It might be your family, your business. Whatever it is, it is important to acknowledge the importance of this passion in your life and enable it to expand and develop every day.

This quote makes me wonder what our world would be like if we did not impose self limitations in our lives? If we truly believed we could achieve everything we wanted? If we knew in our hearts that we encompass all the skills and knowledge that we need to succeed in making our wildest dreams a reality. We need to start believing in ourselves.

If you ask what is the speed at which a child learns to read, researchers find the average age and schools then build a curriculum that enables children to learn how to read at that average speed. Is this what we want? A world of average? Average achievements? Average abilities? We are capable of so much more than that but unfortunately we do not live in a society that encourages better than average from everyone. Certainly everyone has the innate ability to be better than average in some area of their lives. Some people have a high intellectual ability, others are more talented with their hands, some people have amazing music capabilities. And yet, we all attend the same schools, do the same exams, adhere to the same rules and standards, essentially established to create a more uniform population, an average one at that.

What would you achieve if you knew you could not fail? Positive psychology has proven that instead of attaining a certain level of success and then allowing ourselves to be happy and proud, we should, in fact, first allow ourselves to constantly experience the positive emotions of happiness and fulfilment which produces greater efficiency and hence creating more success in the area of our choosing.

Without focusing on the specific experiences that may have caused you to settle for mediocrity in your life, it is more beneficial to emphasise the ways in which we can influence positive change in our lives, to create our best lives.

1. Gratitude
Be grateful for everything in your life. If it’s 90% perfect don’t spend your time focusing on how to make that 10% better. Instead focus on all the things in your life that give you love, joy and happiness and then whatever was not quite right will come into line with what you want or maybe it just won’t be important anymore.

2. Take control
Many people live their lives believing themselves to be a victim of their circumstances. However, you only need to look at the most successful pop stars to notice that many of them had a less than charmed upbringing. You are the only person in control of your life. No one can make you feel bad without your permission. If some one is rude to you in a shop don’t let that ruin your day. If your thoughts don’t make you feel good, let go of them. Other people have no power over your thoughts and it is only your thoughts that make you happy. Take control.

3. Make time for yourself
Yes, sometimes it’s easier said than done, but it’s so important to even take 5-10 minutes a day just for yourself. This is not a time for you to write out your schedule for the day or plan tonight’s dinner, instead, this is where you switch your thoughts off, focus on your breathing, listen to calming music if you like, sit out in the sun if you can… Whatever it is, take this time to relax and know that you are worthy of it. Appreciate yourself.

4. Make goals/bucket lists/list of inspiring ideas
Life can be so hectic that we often get distracted and lose creative ideas we have or dismiss them with excuses of lack of time, money, freedom etc. Excuses are the disease of the mind to justify not following your dreams. They enable us to block out our true desires in order to save ourselves from potential disappointment (we think) but really everyone knows the biggest regrets are not the things you attempted and failed, but the things you didn’t even have the courage to try. Figure out what it is you are truly passionate about it. It is your calling. Write it down and put it somewhere you will see it everyday, as a constant reminder that you are striving towards something great.

5. Positive affirmations
Every morning, before you get up, give yourself a minute to be grateful for another beautiful day. Predict the wonderful things that will happen during your day. Write out or repeat five positive statements e.g I am healthy. I am loved. If possible repeat these at intervals during the day. In physiology, the repetition of these affirmations strengthens the neural connections in the brain which makes our beliefs stronger and easier to access every day. This repetition of thought which becomes our belief system, is what influences our perception of the reality surrounding us in the physical world. Essentially, we create our beliefs which in turn changes the world we encounter, therefore, thought manifests into reality. Each day it is important we choose our thoughts carefully to create the future we truly desire.

It is my dream that we all become aware of the innate power we have within us, harness it to create positive changes and soon be living the lives of our dreams xxx

10 things you can’t leave home without

imageLong term travel, budget backpacker lifestyles and limited luggage allowances have created a generation of savvy travellers who know how to make every kilo count. So what are the essentials you mustn’t leave without?

1. Ipad/ tablet
This amazing item will give you every thing you need from maps, email, messaging, skype, travel guides, books, music, currency converter and much much more. In fact I went 6 months without a phone because of how efficient my ipad was as a method of communication.

Optional: A travel charger will allow you to charge your appliances so that you’re not stuck on a 16 hour bus in Peru with no phone/email/music/Ereader etc

2. Enough clothes for all weathers
Shorts, flip flops, T-shirts, hoodie and a light raincoat. Most places you can pick up cute little dresses for nights out and also cheap tshirts. In fact in Asia you can choose your material and design and have a dress made specially for you. Might be something to consider if you have a special event or wedding to go to when you return home from your trip.

3. Take a photocopy of your passport with you for emergency purposes.
I wouldn’t recommend bringing it with you during your daily excursions in case it gets lost or stolen. If you are in a country and a dodgy police officer asks you to see your passport, ask to be brought to the local station where you will be happy to show your passport there. Do not show it to anyone on the street.

4. A book
Although I recommend the ipad as you can store so many books on it without the weight, the battery will inevitably die, perhaps on a 3 day rainforest walk. Whenever it is, it is handy to have one book with you, to enjoy on the beach or on your boat cruise on the Amazon River. Many hostels have a book exchange so when you have finished it you can swap it for another one. A girl, I shared a room with in Hawaii, gave me a book and I enjoyed it so much I wanted to give it to my mum so it came with me through a few more countries before I gave it to her in Malta. I believe it is in Berlin now… What travel stories it has I’m sure ๐Ÿ˜‰

5. Travel sized liquids
No one wants massive bottles of hairspray, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion etc weighing down their bags to I’d recommend investing in the small bottles. They are relatively expensive but you can fill up last years empty bottles before you leave home.

6. Universal adapter
I have bought several expensive ones in the airport and for some reason they always break. I think it’s from the different voltages. But if you plan on travelling to a few countries rather than having to buy a few, a universal one is far more sensible.

7. Travel towel
These are lightweight tiny towels that do they same job as a bit fluffy towel and dry super quick so it can go back in your bag if you are leaving tomorrow.
Instead of bringing a big beach towel, you can buy one there and it doubles as your souvenir or, as I do, pack a lightweight sarong. Perfect for those beach days and weighs nothing. Winning!

8. A first aid kit
This should include antiseptic wipes, band aids, burn cream and maybe some painkillers and motilium, which you can’t get everywhere.
Don’t make the same mistake I did which was go into Boots in Ireland and spend a fortune buying some of everything, then arriving in Bangkok two days later and coming across a Boots there ( and it was cheaper grrr!)

9. A camera
Most of us have camera phones but if you don’t, you need to bring a camera with you. Travels are about making memories but I can assure you, when you return home, there’s nothing you’ll love more than reliving those moments looking at the photos you took of crazy nights out, beautiful sunsets and breathtaking landscapes.(leave the selfies to your phone)

10. Earplugs and eye mask ( usually get these free on long haul flights with socks as well). Also a blow up travel pillow is so handy for any method of travel. Yes they’ll give you one on the plane but I always use the one I brought as well. To save money, a lot of people use over night travel on buses and trains to save money on accommodation so these pillow will be your best friend in these situation.I always bring socks in my hand luggage and a hoodie because as flights get cold and a nice pair of fluffy socks makes the experience a lot more comfy ๐Ÿ™‚


I have often succumbed to peoplesย adviceย and bought luggage locks. Once I even bought them at the airport on my way to South America (after checking in my bag) so they went into my hand luggage… and stayed there for the duration of my trip. I never use them. Some might criticise that but I have never had anything taken from my bags and I have stayed in countless hotels, hostels, floating houses, tree houses you name it. I think most people who travel all have the same values and respect one another.

Don’t bring your hair dryer. Nearly all hostels have them and if you’re like me you’ll be travelling to warm countries and can let your hair dry naturally. If you bring a travel hair dryer (I used to during my early travel days!) notice that they will generally have a way to change the voltage which you will need to do if you arrive in a new country and notice there is no strength in it anymore. Definitely, don’t bring your hair straighter. I brought mine to south East Asia where it was dropped on the first week and never worked again… My punishment for bringing it lol!


And here are some other tips

Roll your clothes you get a lot more to fit in.

Always pack another small bag inside your suitcase which you will use on your daily excursions while travelling. Or maybe you’ll just use it to bring all your new stuff that you bought home ๐Ÿ˜‰

In some countries or undeveloped areas, laundrettes may not be at hand so it is sometimes beneficial to bring a clothes line, special packets of hand washing powder and a universal sink plug. I’m not hugely into budget travelling like cooking in the hostel kitchen and hand washing but many travellers I met swear by it.In Asia it is very cheap to give your clothes to local washing service however don’t expect all your clothes to return and your whites will more than likely be yellow! In most good hostels there will washing facilities though especially in Australia.$4 to wash and $4-6 to dry.

For stuff like bikinis and underwear, which take up a surprising amount of space, I pack these in a ziplock bag and then squish the air out!

For a few euro you can buy a luggage weighing scales which can save you arriving at the airport overweight which can be a costly mistake to make.

If you are going to a country where you don’t speak the language, a copy of the hotel name and address written down will help you if you get lost, either when you first arrive or even after you’ve been out for the day. I learned this the hard way after getting lost (with a map) for 7 hours in Beijing, as I only knew the name of the hostel in English and no one there could understand me!!! It’s different in a European country where you can try to phonetically sound out the place you are looking for but when it looked like this ยฅ%*# I had no hope! ( since then I have learned 20 words in mandarin… Just in case!!)

If you arrive via the airport you can usually pick up free city maps which is handy to have with you and will sometimes have vouchers for local attractions.

Sorry of my travel tips are a bit girlie… But I am a girl after all ๐Ÿ™‚

Amjed. Giving homelessness a name and a face.

Please click on this link first to watch this short video of a beautiful act of generosity.

Homeless man receives home

Having watched the video of this generous act of kindness initiated by one that dramatically changed the life of another, I was overwhelmed by emotion and a feeling deep inside me, wanting to help some one like that. It was less than an hour later , while I was sitting in the park, happily reading my book, when I was approached by Amjed. In my peripheral vision I saw him approach but I kept my head down not wanting to be disturbed. He spoke to me. I pretended not to hear. ‘Hola,’ he said again, and this time I looked up. He sat down beside me, much to my dismay and struggled to find words to communicate, not surprisingly, as Amjed is from Pakistan.

My initial reaction was to politely nod and smile and return to my book but then I saw the emotions and sadness across this strange mans face as he rambled unintelligibly and pointed to his dust covered shoes. I could see he needed some one to talk to, some one to listen, some one to be his friend so I put the book away and gave him my full attention.
Amjed, came here to Barcelona 12 days ago. I met him on the 5th day. Having lost his nice office job in Pakistan due to the company closing, he received a phone call from a fellow countryman living in Barcelona, offering him a job. With all his savings, he booked a one way flight, said goodbye to his mother and two sisters and off he went in search of a new life, one that could support him and his family in Pakistan. Upon his arrival, the number of his friend was disconnected and he has no other contact information for him and so he is alone with no friends here in Barcelona.
This exchange of information was mostly conveyed through the use of body language and hand actions as his level of English is minimal and Spanish is non existent. He showed me a photo of his family and his home in Pakistan. He explained that he has no papers to work here and despite spending all day walking around Barcelona in search of work, he is unable to find a job as he has no legal rights to work here and cannot speak Spanish. I gave him the number and address of the Pakistan embassy here which were closed for the weekend so I told him to ring on Monday, hoping that they could speak to him in Urdu, his own language and assist him in finding work. He was so grateful he cried and I hugged him. It was obvious he hadn’t had the luxury of a shower in a while but I let him hug me as long as he wanted and tried to send him calming positive energy and strength to get him through this tough time. I wanted to help so much more but felt a bit helpless so I tried convincing myself that listening to him and talking to him had already helped him feel less alone in this unfamiliar city of strangers. I gave him hope.

Almost a week later, today, I met him again in the park. He had been unsuccessful in his attempt to receive help from the embassy. I asked him would he just go back to Pakistan but he explained that there are no jobs there and he doesn’t have the money to go home. He had rang his mother to tell her there are no jobs here and she cried. He said he has walked and walked in search of a job but I understand that it is near impossible to get a job here if he doesn’t have the language skills to even ask for a job. His money ran out quickly and he is now sleeping in the park beside my apartment and a local shop is letting him keep his bag there. My heart is struggling with the sadness of his situation,wanting to help, but not sure how. I decided I would start by teaching him English and today, in his little milka chocolate notebook, we started with some greetings and the questions. He was eager to learn and picked it up quickly, although it was a little funny explaining the words I and you, while pointing to myself and then him, making him think he should use the word you for himself and I for me! We spoke (tried to) for ages and he told me he is good at bowling and he showed me a little game you play with your hands, again, reinforcing his poor background where they entertain themselves with nothing but their hands.

I spoke to a Spanish employee lawyer today, that informed me legal work rights can only be given to people who prove that they have been here illegally for three years and have integrated well into the Catalan society. What options does that leave for my poor friend Amjed? I could just appease myself with thoughts that I’ve done what I can to help and there’s nothing else I can do, but I cannot. This is a lovely man with a gentle soul, who has fallen victim to unfortunate circumstances. I have always wanted to make the world a better place and I feel that the universe orchestrated it so that our paths would cross so I can help him. He is not begging or stealing, nor has he ever asked me for anything, but I wonder how long until homelessness results in those desperate measures and will he become one of the many people I see every day searching the rubbish bins on the streets of Barcelona?

I would really appreciate any advice in how I can help or what I should do to help this man get back on his feet. I know he would work harder than anyone I know and really deserves to be helped.

A walk in the park

image As I relaxed on my balcony enjoying the warm evenings sun, I casually observed the goings on below me. Several older women, all accessorised with small dogs had stopped to chat on the path and a few cars driving by. A peaceful scene by all means until my thoughts were interrupted by an incessant drumbeat, which actually sounded like a marching band, so I decided to investigate. Upon entering the park, it was clear that from above, the leafy branches of the palm trees cleverly disguised the hive of activity that happening right underneath me. I located the source of the band music which was coming from a practice room under the ground. I decided to sit for awhile and enjoy the music while observing some girls training hard, a little boy blowing bubbles and a few adults rollerblading, beside a large colourful monument. On my walk home I saw the dog enclosure in the park was full of people and their dogs while others sat at the little cafe drinking coffee. A father and his sons practised their basketball skills while moms kept a close eye on their children in the playground. Large groups of people gathered around a game of kickball (like netball I believe) and cheered for their favourite team. Lone joggers expertly weaved themselves between these crowds as they continued their daily exercise routine. Students, with their arms full of books, leaving the library after a hard day of studying. So much was happening here, in this little park, that I was oblivious to from above, in the comfort of my own balcony. It made me think about how life is like that. When we are too busy being caught up in our own lives we miss the beauty of life that constantly surrounds us. Happiness comes from the small things in life so let’s try not to forget to come down from our balconies every once in awhile and enjoy the experiences life has to offer in the small things. 20140507-105056.jpg 20140507-105047.jpg 20140507-105110.jpg 20140507-105128.jpg 20140507-105142.jpg 20140507-105417.jpg

Today’s challenge: Me v.s. Maps

Map of Barcelona This is my new home… And my navigational aid to help me find my way around. Who am I kidding? What bother with maps when you have a phone with google maps?! I do have a map in my bag just in case, as my battery never lasts more than a few hours :/ Anyway, after three days here I figure I have the metro all figured out so I decided to take the train on my shopping expedition, as a challenge. Although both the metro and train only take a few minutes I had to wait more than five minutes for the train to leave so next time I’ll be taking the metro! Now where was the train bringing me to, only on my very first visit to Ikea. Wow is all I can say. Despite my previous post on the advantages of not having lots of ‘stuff’ and proving this by moving here with only 15kg of luggage, I must admit I was very tempted to go crazy and buy everything within reach, especially everything pink, orange, fluffy or shiny lol! And if I thought the city map was a challenge, I was give a rude awakening when I was given the map of the store. I spent well over an hour trawling my way though hundreds of people, exasperated at how they were all getting in my way… Only to realise at the end I was going the wrong way all along oppsy ๐Ÿ™‚ And if you’re curious, I did escape relatively intact with just one (large) bag of ‘essentials’ for my new home. Now I must put it all together. Happy weekend everyone ๐Ÿ™‚

Map of IKEA