A beautifully sad day

My partner’s mother’s health has been very fragile since I got to know her. With time, her health deteriorated, so much so that the last coupe of months she was bedridden, unable to perform basic functions. As she laid in her bed with both her legs in open wounds, her stance to pain and immobility was an example of the great. She was a ray of positivity, calmness, kindness and wisdom.

For the past few days, her condition reached a point of no return. But she kept shining even then. This morning, her last one, while in deep sleep, my partner, like every morning, greeted her: “Goodmorning mana”. “Goodmorning” she responded with difficulty, in a fragile voice coming from her depths. She gave her beloved son, her characteristic peaceful smile, the one that she always reserved for him and then started her journey to the world of light.

2023: Let’s make it happy!

Dear friends

As we face a full New Year in front of us, the words of Albert D’Souza, seem more important than ever:

“For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin—real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. This perspective has helped me to see there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.

The truth is, there’s no better time to be happy than right now. If not now, when? Your life will always be filled with challenges.

It’s best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway.

So, treasure every moment that you have and treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time…and remember that time waits for no one.

So, stop waiting until you lose ten pounds, until you gain ten pounds, until you have kids, until your kids leave the house, until you start work, until you retire, until you get married, until you get divorced, until Friday night, until Sunday morning, until you get a new car or home, until your car or home is paid off, until spring, until summer, until winter, until your song comes on, until you’ve had a drink…. there is no better time than right now to be happy”.

The start and the end of 2022

One of the first emails I received in 2022:

“I wanted to reach out to you as I’m about to start a next phase in my career and thought this could be a good moment to join the Parallaxis movement. Of course we haven’t spoken in detail, so I don’t know where your focus is, but with several early/mid career years experience I believe I could be of value to people earlier in their career. Also, I am sorted on my next position, and myself would benefit from a listening ear and supportive coach on the first couple of months of that journey. Would this be something to discuss further on a call together? Please let me know, looking forward to reconnect.”

…And one of the last ones, from the same person:

“It’s been some time since we initially spoke as I started my new role. The guidance you gave me at that call has helped me big time to get through the initial months of turmoil and getting my feet under the table as new manager for the team, set direction collaboratively and drive for success in the first year. 

I would like to setup a follow-on conversation with you to reflect on the past year and share with you some of the opportunities and challenges ahead.  

Do you have availability in the next two weeks for a follow up chat?”

In 2023, let’s keep trying to do good, in what each one of us can influence!

Parallaxis dedications

This year, I reached out to the Parallaxis receivers asking them to send me a book. I wanted a book that had inspired their personal journey containing a hand-written dedication for me. My idea was to keep these books in my new home library, in a separate section that I have created for Parallaxis. In this way, I would keep a live memory close to me of the people I have supported/helped through the years.

So, for some months, I have been receiving books on diverse topics which are also a source of inspiration for me. Holding each book and reading its dedication, makes me feel that I have achieved something tangible. It makes me feel that it’s a life worth living.

I wanted to say a BIG Thank you to all of you who have been/are and/or will be part of my Parallaxis journey!

Below are some of the dedications:

” Dear Joanna,

This book was given to me by a dear friend who helped me a lot. Now, I am giving it to you as a great thank you for helping me being here for me. I wish you all the best!”

“I wish that this book will open up new horizons for you, like you do for me.. With respect and love”

“Dear lady, I hope you enjoy this book – one of my favourites – there is no real East or West, only unique humans with their own cross to carry! Much respect”

” This is an honor to be part of the Parallaxis network – what a wonderful gift you have given to the world! I am grateful for the guidance you have given me and have so enjoyed being able to connect and offer ideas to others. What a valuable and meaningful community! This is one of my go-to books on leadership and Brene is one of my heroes. I hope you enjoy her work as much as I do. All the best to you”

” Dearest Joanna,

I am dedicating this book to you since it represents examples of strength, wisdom and giving. For me, your life can also be described in the same way. I thank you for all your support and can only wish you health and continued happiness and success in all you do. All my very best always”

“I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the advice, strength and time that you have given me these years. Although the conditions were unknown, difficult and turned everyone’s life upside down, you always help me to see things differently and to find the strength to continue. The work you do is valuable and I respect every move you make.”

“…This book gave me strength to chose my dreams fearlessly. And this is why it reminds me of you. I hope you like it, as it is as special as you are, to me”

“…Thank you very much for your help in my cosmological journey; I am grateful that I have you close to me in this universe and most probably in infinite others! With love”

“Inspired by your photos”

I am part of a WhatsApp group (70 in total) with my IMD classmates which are spread all over the world. It’s a very active group; we very often exchange messages, share views and information, give support and updates and above all, we send birthday wishes! When it’s someone’s birthday, usually our class representative sends out the first message in the morning; then, during the day, the rest of us wish the person a “Happy Birthday”. Each one does it in his/her own way.

I have chosen to accompany my birthday wishes with a different picture or video depicting images from my daily walks in Epidavros. I started doing this during the lockdown, thinking that I could try to sooth my classmates from the lockdown effect. To my surprise, this has been very well received and although the lockdown has ceased, I keep on doing it, due to popular demand!

Sometime ago, one of our classmates, chose an original way to accompany her birthday wishes: for every birthday person, she also makes a painting using Artifical Intelligence (AI) and posts it to our WhatsApp group.

Today, she sent me a personal message with an AI painting of hers, saying: ” Dear Joanna, inspired by your photo today , I made this. I hope you like it! I started using AI for our classmate birthdays, inspired by your very beautiful photos”

Wow! It hadn’t even crossed my mind that something that is a (wonderful) routine for me, can inspire someone else to express their creativity!

A cause to go for!

For those that know me, you know that something very close to my heart are the stray animals which you find in abundance in Greece as well as the cruelty of many Greeks towards those animals. In Athens, the situation has improved over the years, manly as a result of many individuals who took the situation in their hands and decided to take action, since the state did nothing.

But in the countryside, things are still bad. Ever since I moved to live in Epidavros, I have adopted a couple of stray cats which have been living with me at home. But one day, when I was walking by the beach at the end of the port, I saw a stray cat drinking water from the sea! I felt terrible! That’s when I adopted a huge number of stray cats along the beaches of the port,too . I go there every day to feed them.Every month, I spend a serious amount of money (and time) to feed all these stray cats . I have also made about 25 sterilizations (with money out of my own pocket) which is the only way to control the population. There have been many times when I feel helpless but there have also been times when I feel good especially when I see the happy animals following me as soon as I appear with my blue bag full of food and water. Also, along my way, I have run into a few people who do the same. as me. But the situation has reached a point, where the animals are too many and doing things individually is like a drop in the ocean. So, we gathered all together (8 people in total) to join forces.

We decided to create a (Non Profit) Stray Animal Association which will be run , on a voluntary basis, by us and will cover the stray animals of the Municipality of Epidavros. As a start, we talked with other similar Associations in Greece and got enough iinformation on how to get started. The first step, is to officially register our Association, with the help of a lawyer. We contacted a lawyer already who informed us that the registration will cost approx. 700 Euros. We decided to go for it! Now we are in the process of spreading the word, informing our network about what we passionately plan to do.

As a start, we need a minimum number of people to become members of our Association (no need for the members to reside in Epidavros) . We also need to gather our first funds to cover the registration costs and to start the first mass sterilizations.

So, my dear friends, I thought of also letting you know about our cause.

If any of you wants to contribute, do let me know. We do have a long way to go, but I strongly believe that it’s in our hands to eliminamy the suffering of the stray animals and create a more civilized and balanced society.

The first on-site visit

I have been thinking for sometime, that it would be great for friends (their children and/or friends of friends) to come to our olive fields to experience, first hand, the harvest of our olives in the months of November/December. Although I have been too busy to make something more of these thought, I was very happy when I received a message from a friend, telling me that her son wants to see how the olive harvest is done. ” I thought of you” she said. “Are you still harvesting? Could we come to visit you in the fields?”

So, today they came from Athens for an on-site visit. I had told them to dress comfortably, wear good hiking-type shoes and bring hats and gloves. They did their best. They brought 3 types of gloves: one pair that is used to wash the dishes, another the “one-time-use covid” gloves, and a third the gloves that handymen use. None of the three are suitable for the olives! That made me realize what a long way I have gone to have gained so much knowledge about olives and the tools we use ;-). And that long are gone the days, when, in my corporate days, we organized off-sites, which included some activity in nature. By now, I have reversed my life to have as a daily on-site what used to be an occasional offsite.

Overall, we had a wonderful day: it included “education” in action – participating in the harvest – with lots of smiles and nice conversations. Later on, we had home-made lunch all together under the olive trees. As a bonus, we had the neighbour’s sheep to give our olive branches to eat and had the unique chance to see a newborn baby sheep – born just today!

Next year, I hope that more will decide to come and live, with us, the olive harvest experience on-site.

A day of rain

As it was a rainy day yesterday, we couldn’t be in the fields. So, we decided tosatisfy our cultural instincts and visit the National Gallery of Nafplion. It’s a wonderful neoclassical two-storey building, which currently hosts an exhibition dedicated to the 1821 Greek Revolution of Independence.

I love art in all its forms, and given that living in the countryside, provides little opportunities for culture, this was one not to miss!

…And the season kicked off!

Dear friends

It’s the time of the year to start harvesting our olive trees! We have two months of very hard work ahead of us, since we do everything with our four hands, to ensure the highest quality. of our certified, organic, extra virgin olive oil.

This year, I am super excited that our oil will be delivered, door-to-door, to 7 counries (apart from Greece): The US, Spain, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden.

My goal is to make the world understand what a trully excellent olive oil is all about 🙂

Seeing the invisible

I went to visit the exhibition “Seeing the Invisible” in the National Gardens, in Athens. It’s an international exhibition – which takes place in 10 botanical gardens around the world. This is a totally new experience : it’s an augmented reality exhibition, which means that you can only see the modern art works, through your mobile phone! With your bare eyes, you just see the gardens and its visitors. To see the exhibits, you have to download an app on your phone, follow the proposed route as it appears on the screen and search for each piece of art. Although the virtual objects are visible only through your mobile phone, you can have your picture taken with them! And although you do not see the exhibit yourself, you are both visible in the picture . And all that makes you wonder: what is real and what is not? How is it possible to see nothing with my eyes, but to have my picture taken with that that I cannot see?

An amazing person!

I met a young lady called Gina recently. She was sitting outdoors, by the port, having dinner with a friend . I was walking by when I noticed a blouse underneath their table, that Gina had placed for a stray kitten to sleep on. That was the trigger for the start of our talk. Gina is dutch and speaks some greek, as her father comes from Greece. We had a lot to talk about, so we agreed to meet 2 days later, before she returned to her base in The Netherlands.

She was late for our meeting. But she did come apologizing because something terrible had happened:

as she was driving to Nafplion earlier that day with her friend, they saw people gathered by the road. An accident had just taken place: a motorcycle had crashed into a car. The driver of the motorcycle was lying on the road. Gina stopped and was shocked to see that the crowd that had gathered did nothing to help the seriously injured man. “Is he alive?” she asked the crowd. ” I am not sure! He is a drug addict” someone said, looking away. Gina approached the injured man and saw blood coming out of his mouth. He was hardly breathing. She touched his face and started talking to him softly to establish communication. and give him some relief. She asked him to breathe slowly and not to worry. She was there to help him! Gina shouted to the crowd to call an ambulance. It took some time. They threw him on the strether as if he was dead already. Gina gathered the man’s arms and legs that were hanging off the stretcher. She followed the ambulance with her car and went along to the hospital. She lied that she was a doctor from Holland and wanted to know what would happen to him. She was told that the man was critically injured and would be immediately transported to a hospital in Athens.

Then, she came to meet me!

While waiting for her, I met up with a friend who happens to be the village doctor. When Gina arrived and I introduced her, Gina begged the doctor to find out all the information possible about the man: “Which hospital was he taken to in Athens? Was he still alive? Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity, even if he is a drug addict. I want him to know that there is at least one person in this world that cares for his life” Gina said. And my doctor friend did find out the information. In the meantime, Gina had found out his name and his sister’s name. She had already sent an invitation to connect with the sister on Facebook!

The following day, Gina was flying back to The Netherlands. But before that, she wanted to go to the hospital, in Athens, to leave a card for the man, wishing him to get well soon and give him some of her positive energy! “He made it through the first night” she said. “This is very good news!”.

She texted me that she managed to enter the hospital, without having a PCR test, to go to the ICU floor and deliver the card to the doctor on duty. Then she went to board her plane. Just before take off, she received the following message from the injured man’s sister. which made her cry, she wrote to me!

The two extremes

The text below is a translated copy of the post my partner wrote in Greek today, which I loved:

DEFICIENY AND EXAGGERATION

Deficiency and excess: both cases/states require some form of payment; thay are two extremes representing a state of intense imbalance which bear consequences. 

Example: the fact that half the population of Greece lives in Athens, is an exaggeration, with tragic consequences for human existence.
On the other side, the fact that Greek villages are deserted, this indicates a deficiency, where the small population is not sufficient to form a healthy society that covers even the basic needs of its people.

...And it doesn't really matter what we think; because both little girls in India who were brought up with wolves, walked on their four legs and arms and behaved like animals, they considered that normal... 
And when they were found, and people tried to humanize them, they couldn't stand it and died."

An uncommon pet

My friend’s house is the last one touching the mountain. As long as I remeber her, she has always been surrounded by animals providing shelter, food and love to stray dogs and cats which she has saved from the streets and -when needed – cured. The animals live in paradise: they have guaranteed food and have an entire mountain all to themselves to entertain! They are happy!

Recently my friend send me some photos of her new, unusual pet: a hedgehog! Her spiny new friend, appears only at night since it has a nocturnal way of life. Although hedgehogs, I read, feed on insects, snails, frogs, snakes, bird eggs, grass roots, etc., this one, likes to eat the cat dried food from the plate that my friend has in the garden. Apart from the food though, the hedgehog has become friends with the cats, too and they are all a happy family eating and socializing together!

The cake

It was a day of celebration for my mother; and so, she invited some friends for lunch, to a restaurant. My sister also joined them and brought, as a present, a cake from a nice pastry shop in Athens. Upon arrival, my sister handed the cake to someone from the restaurant to keep it in the fridge. They would eat it at dessert time, after they finish their meal.

That day, the restaurant was packed with customers, all the tables were full, but the food and the service were very good, as always! Nothing to complain about. The only complain was that everyone in my mother’s table, had too much food to eat, but they unanimously agreed that there was always room for a fine dessert. Actually, they couldn’t wait to have the dessert since during lunch, my sister had described to them the very light blending of flavours of lime, forest fruit and cream she had selected!

The moment came when my sister waived to the waiter to bring the cake. Everyone’s palates were ready to welcome it. But a few minutes later, the waiter came back with no cake in his hands! “There is no cake in the fridge” he said with a lost look. The alarm was sent inside where all the waiter’s and the owner gathered to solve the mystery. Sure they had seen the cake in the fridge at some point. And then, one waiter solved the riddle: he said that he had served 2 cakes to a table of clients, asking them whether they both belonged to them. They answered a definite yes and started eating both cakes; but they had lied: one of the cakes was not destined for them!

The table of 2 cakes had already eaten a good part of my mother’s cake, by the time the waiter went to save it! The sinners didn’t bother to apologize. The waiter took what was left – what you see in the picture – and brought it to my mother’s table. At least her table also got to taste something!

A surprise!

As we grow old, it becomes harder and harder to find (material) presents to offer to our beloved ones for their birthday, nameday, anniversary. By now, not only do we all have what we need, but we also have the eagerness to throw away things that we have been accumulating throughout the years!

While all these thoughts were going on in my head, I was wondering what present I could offer my partner for his birthday (which is one day after mine.)

And then I thought: why don’t I do something that money does not touch! So, in full secrecy, in the past couple of months, I have been orchestrating a conspiracy of contacting people, collecting videos, photos, music. I asked friends and family to prepare short videos with their birthday wishes for him. From time to time, I would ask him about a favourite piece of music. Then another time to show me photos from his childhood.

I was lucky that a friend volunteered to compile everything together into a film, since I am useless with technology. We ended up making a 40 minute film containing the birthday videos, and photos from his entire life accompanied by some of his favourite pieces of music.

On August 13th, I gave him his present: a tiny bag with a computer stick. Once he opened the bag, I asked him to sit in a comfortable setting that I had prepared., in front of the computer.

That was a surprise for life!

My 57th Birthday

My 57th birthday, finds me still alive and kicking, happy to have a fulfilled life, with lots of trees and sea around me and peace – most of the times – on my exterior and interior worlds. Here are some highlights:

Moved to the countryside, for good. I share my existence with my partner who is the most wonderful gift life gave me. My hair is grey and I wish no other. Organic eating is a daily routine. My health seems to be good. Set to exhaust my extensive wardrobe and thus stopped buying new clothes; continue to invest in good quality shoes, though. Swim. Walk. Picked up reading books, again. Stopped going to crowded cultural events with the exception of all performances in the small and big ancient theaters of Epidavros. Caring for stray cats. Highly committed to helping people in their career transitions via Parallaxis. Actively keeping in touch with people that are important in my life and looking for opportunities to connect and meet in the post covid era.

Oh! And ice cream continues to be my Achilles heel!

An actor’s dream

It is an actor’s dream, to play in an ancient greek play, in the theater of Epidavros. I am neither an actor nor did I ever have such a dream; actually, the closest I got to the 4th century BC theater, is to go annually – during the months of July and August – to watch the plays that are performed there, as part of the renowed Athens & Epidavros Festival. It is the same plays written by Sophocles, Euripides, Aeschylus, Aristophanis that were performed there since antiquity . Like the ancient times, today too, thousands of people come to watch the plays.

This year, had a surprise for me (and my partner) : we were given the opportunity to take part in the play “The Persians” of Aeschylus. We had a small supporting role, as Persians. No matter the importantance of our role, this has been a one in a lifetime experience. To step on the soil of the theater as an actor, to be guided by top artists, to see how the play folded and unfolded during the rehearsals was preciless. And on July 15th & 16th to feel the eyes of thousands of people wathing us and the lights falling on us, felt like we lived moments of magic!

A living postcard

In the past, when social media didn’t exist, we would pick the most impactful postcard, usually a photo of the place we were in or visited, wrote a message on its back , something like: “it feels like I am in paradise, wish you were here”, signed it and post it to our loved ones.

Nowdays, I find myself daily in a live postcard; the experience and the images are so intense that it’s impossible to resist not to take my phone and capture, with its camera, the beauty that surrounds me. The difference with the past is that I didn’t buy my postcard – I made it myself – and I didn’t send it by post – I posted it on my blog; the message that accompanies it though, is still the same: “it feels like I am in paradise, wish you were here”

Completing the look

We just received – from the Basil and Elise Goulandris Museum – the indispensable piece we had ordered: a replica of Vincent Van Gogh’s painting titled: “The olive harvest”.

Only now, we can declare the completion of our living room renovation.

Move # 10

  1. Greece to Denmark

2. Greece to France

3. Greece to Spain

4. Spain to Germany

5. Germany to Switzerland

6, Switzerland to Belgium

7. Belgium to the UK

8. UK to the Netherlands

9. Netherlands to Athens

10. Athens to Epidavros

Yes! I can claim many moves in my life. Each one, gave me the opportunity to step into a new country & culture, a new job and to meet a variety of wonderful people. Each one has helped me grow personally and professionally, taught me to be curious, to explore, to dare, to not take things for granted, to have no fixations, to adapt, to stand on my own feet, to focus on the essence, to be a citizen of the world, to value who I am and to cherish my relationships with humans, animals and nature.

These days, I am in the process of finalizing Move #10; the most profound and impactful of all. You might ask why is that? While the trigger for all my previous moves was my job, my current decision to quit Athens and move permanently to Epidavros, is trigerred by my inner need to have a permanent base – my home – away from the big cities, their noise and traffic, and to follow nature’s pace while developing my inner self and giving back to others, by:

  • helping people to make their next career steps, through Parallaxis,
  • producing and offering the world the highest quality organic olive oil
  • giving a chance to the suffering stray cats of Epidavros to have a decent life, by providing them food, daily, and sterilizing as many as I can, at my own expense

In a nutshell, Move #10 is about shaping and living my life exactly how I want it to be!

Time, for me, to burn

It is the time of the year to prune our olive trees, to help them get enough strength to grow their fruit, in a balanced way, so that the fruit doesn’t grow scattered all over an untidy bush. Wrongly pruned trees, make the picking of the olives very time consuming, painful and difficult.

Pruning is not only hard work; above all, it is an art: which tree you prune , which parts of it you cut and how much, require deep knowledge of each tree. I have come to the conclusion, that the best pruning is done by the person who has developed a special relationship with each tree.

Part of the pruning process is to burn all the parts that have been cut. This is my job!

Although it requires less art and experience, it is hard work: carrying cut branches of all sizes, from all over the field, to the place where the fire has been lit, placing them on the fire making sure that the flames will not burn any trees around. But it is work that pays off: it trains so many different muscles in my body that a gym would be difficult to match!

Hidden painter

I see brushes of white clouds on the blue sky and I try to guess what the next move of this heavenly painter’s brush will be. How far will his hidden brush paint the white colour on the blue? What shape will it give it and in what direction? Will he add other colours?

Oh! Where is this amazingly talented artist hidding?

My blue walks

I go walking every day. Especially now that Epidavros is still not hit by the tourist waves, I love to do the “blue walks” : along the coast, touching the water. There, where the sky and the sea become one and I cannot see where one starts and the other one ends – there, where I can only see shades of the mediterranean blue. The sun is also there, caressing me and ensuring that my senses indulge in all that the nature around me abundantly offers. Oh! And how priviledged I am when I meet my walking friends: they keep me company by swimming along the same direction as I walk. We do not speak – we prefer to share the moment’s joy of living in nature’s arms.

Parallaxis – 5 year anniversary

Dear friends

Many of you might know that when I left behind a 30 year international career in the corporate world, I asked myself: How can I use my experiences, skills, network to help others build their careers?

Parallaxis was the answer! I created it in 2017 to offer, pro-bono, customized support to individuals who are in career transition.

It has been a 5 year wonderful journey!

Don’t hesitate to share the Parallaxis journey with anyone who can benefit.

Wild greens expedition

Iit’s only in Greece that I have seen eating wild greens which grow on their own, are hand-picked from the ground, are boiled and served with lots of olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon. Most accompany these greens – which have a slight bitter taste – with feta cheese and hard crust bread which they dip into the lemon/olive oil sauce.

Oh! I just love this dish! I could eat it everyday!

You can get cultivated greens in a shop but it is rare to find the wild ones. The only way to get them, is to go out in the countryside looking patiently for them, with a sharp knife and a bag (or two) in your hands. In most places, the exact location where these wild greens are grown, is a well kept secret by the locals. And even if one finds such a place, the timing might be wrong: they only grow a few days after it has rained.

We tried our luck, too by embarking on a wild greens expedition: we wore special clothes and shoes and drove to a nearby village, high up the mountains. We eventually reached a remote area, where only sheep and goats inhabit. Having our eyes fixed on the ground and the sharp knife in our hands, we shouted with excitement, everytime we found some greens good enough to put in our bag. We managed to collect two bags!

Once back home, we realized that cleaning and preparing them for boiling, requires a special technique. Therefore, I had to make a few calls to my mother to get exact instructions! The cleaning took a few hours; the boiling was also tedious: we had to do it in batches, paying attention not to overcook them.

A day later, our expendition had a great end : an exquisite dish to enjoy for the coming days!

First international shipments of our olive oil

Dear friends

It is with full emotion that I would like to share with you some wonderful news: we just shipped our first olive oil abroad. During the years, I have been trying to find transport companies to ship internationally and have been very frustrated in the process: it seemed like an impossible task. Finally this year, I managed to figure things out!

Our first shipments, will be delivered (door-to-door) to friends in the US, Spain and The Netherlands. Like we do in Greece, our goal, internationally, is also to cut the intermediaries and deliver to the home of the end consumer. By developing word-of-mouth sales and not investing in marketing and advertising, we can charge a fair price for an extremely high quality product that is impossible to find in the market! It’s a product that we make with our own hands and values from beggining till the end. It is us!

Oh! How I am excited, happy, grateful, pleased, inspired, moved, eager to finally be able to deliver, to the door of my international friends and their network,too, the fruits of our work which is the result of treating our land and trees with respect and admiration.

The case of pomegranates

One of the things that I like about autumn, is that it is the season of pomegranates in Greece. I can’t wait to take the fruit in my hands and open it up, with caution, not to injure any of the precious seeds, that are sitting in its interior. If I am lucky, the seeds will be red like rubins, and will have a unique sweet tart taste that I really love! I specifically buy one variety from Ermioni, that is my favourite: it has big red seeds and it is more sweet.

Oh! I never-never buy one fruit, because the case about pomegranates is that you never know just by looking at it from outside, whether it is ripe and ready to eat. Its exterior can be deceiving: it could have a ripe red colour, with cracks all over it, as if the seeds want to burst out, but the seeds inside could be white and too bitter to eat!

So, every time I hold a pomegranate in my hands, I feel I become a bit wiser: it gives me a life lesson not to trust appearances!

2021 rating – most beautiful town

Every year, Greece is consistently rated as a top destination in terms of beauty. Now I read that CNN Travel, included one particular city of Greece to its top 10 list of the most beautiful towns in Europe. The city is Nafplion. It is a 30 minute drive from Epidavros, where I live. The region overall is stunning! I feel priviledged to live here.Oh! My dear friends, when covid is all over, do come to visit me; it is a life experience 😉

https://neoskosmos.com/en/2017/10/02/news/greece/nafplion-voted-best-city-in-greece-culture-trip/

The tractor road

So, every morning nowdays, we take the tractor road to take us out in the fields of our olive trees, surrounded by mountains and blue blue skies. The birds are singing all over us. Occasionally, a hawk appears in the sky, watching us, with his wings wide open, flying into cirles. What an honest and meaningful relationship nature offers us! It gives us the example to work hard – we spent the entire day collecting olives – and to treat our trees with the same respect that nature treats us. By the end of the day, we are exhausted, but happy!

One more drop!

I talked with my cousin who knows my life trajectory ever since she was born.

“Do you remember Sylvie Guillem?” she asked me.

“Of course I do” I immediately responded.

Some years ago, we had gone together to watch this legend of dance perform live. It was an extraordinary experience! Actually, it is through my cousin, who is into dance, that I first got to hear about this amazing dancer.

“She has retired by now, and she lives like you!” she told me and sent me the following video.

In a nutshell: living in the countryside, surrounded by animals, picking olives, being vegan, letting her hair show their natural colour, not being nostalgic of the past, being happy!

One more drop – as Sylvie says in the interview…

https://www.dance-masterclass.com/sylvie-documentary

This star is for all of us

This poem , “This star is for all of us” is of Tassos Livaditis (1922-1988), a greek poet that I recently started reading:

When I was a child and my mother would see me sad
she would lean down and ask. What is it my boy? I wouldn’t talk. I would only look behind her shoulder
at a world without you.
And as I would go back and forth with the pencil
it was as if I learned to write songs for you.
When I would touch the wet glass of the window it was
because you were late
when at night I would gaze the stars it was
because I missed your eyes
and when my doorbell rang and I opened
no one was there. However somewhere in the world
your heart was beating.

I’ve lived this way. Always.
And when we first met—you remember?—you
opened your arms ever so tenderly
as though you had known me for years. But of course
you knew me. Because before you came to my life
you had lived in my dreams
my beloved.

Olive oil: my lessons learned

Ever since I got seriously involved with the olive oil, I realized how little I knew and some misconceptions I had until then. I also learned that to produce a top quality, organically certified olive oil, requires a cumbersome process that few can trully master. Only those that do it with passion and conviction,- like with so many other things in life- will make the difference!

Below are a few of my learnings:

– What really makes an “excellent/top quality” organic olive oil?

  • It’s not enough to have your own organically grown trees in the countryside and have someone else take care of them who will produce the olive oil on your behalf (often with a % of sharing agreement). This is because you can never be sure that this third person will give you the olive oil that correponds to your trees or that you will be getting olive oil from the current year’s production!
  • Only an organically certified production guarantees that:
    • whatever product goes to feed and protect the soil, the trees and the fruit, is approved by a specialized organization that follows the (international) rules for organic farming. Many people use non organically approved products and just because they work on the fields, collect and/or produce the olive oil themselves, they call it top quality and organic. It is not!
    • The olive mill, where the oil is extracted, should be organically certified to ensure that only organic oil is produced there – if the mill is not certified there is no guarantee that an organic produce will not be mixed with a non organic one!
  • To get the most nutrients out of the fruit and therefore the highest quality, it is important:
    • to collect the fruit when it is not too ripe. Most people collect their olives when they are too ripe (black), in order to get more quantity (and therefore less quality)
    • to extract the olive oil shortly after the fruit is collected – this is because the longer the fruit stays collected waiting for the olive oil to be extracted from it, the more the fruit rottens and loses its nutrients and quality. (In our case, we collect and extract the olive oil the same day!)
  • Even if all the above have been met, what can destroy a top quality olive oil, is where it is preserved and packed. Many people wonder why after a while, the excellent olive oil they had originally bought no longer has a wonderful smell, taste and colour. This is because, every time a bottle or container is opened, it lets oxygen enter; also if the bottle/container allows light to enter, soon an initially excellent product, will be destroyed. Oxygen and light are oil’s big enemies (this is why we use a special “bag in a box” packaging which keeps both enemies away). Last but not least, the ideal temperature to keep the olive oil is ~ 16 degrees C.

How can I use my top quality olive oil to get the maximum of its nutrients in my cooking?

  • Many people say to me: “I use your certified organic olive oil for salads, since it is so good. For the rest of my cooking, I buy cheaper olive oil”. This is what I also used to do in the past. But I gradually started finding out how I can cook healthier and use a top quality olive oil in all my cooking: by now, whether it is something in the oven, caserole or a pan, my secret is:
    • to cook in low heat and
    • use no olive oil (or sometimes very little) at the start of the cooking.
    • I let the food cook slowly with its juices and I put the olive oil at the very end.

In this way, it keeps all its nutrients and makes tastier and healthier food.

Last but not least, I have learned that a really top quality olive oil, like any other top quality product, will carry a higher price tag than a non quality one.

My one and only cardigan

I got this wonderful hand-knitted cardigan, from my mother who made it herself. It reminds me of the knitwork she also used to make for me when I was a child.

Although so many things have changed since I was going around dressed with all the things she used to knit and sew for me – my mother (and I ) grew old, she got seriously ill – her knitting talent and thirst for creativity have remained intact. I find it amazing that she picked up knitting while she is recovering from her breast cancer operation – especially because knitting also requires the use of the breast muscles!

Oh! I can’t stop wearing my new cardigan; it makes me feel like a little girl again . It makes my soul and face shine!

Why?

  • Why do we live and die?
  • Why do we like to fly?
  • Why does my mother still think I am a child?
  • Why do people lie?
  • Why is there a sky?
  • Why do so many seek a “like”?
  • Why is there so much beauty in front of my eye?
  • Why do we buy and buy?
  • Why do we hate to say goodbye?
  • Why do humans only cry?
  • Why do we prefer a fry?
  • Why are some so shy?
  • Why do we need to spy?
  • Why do we not always give it a try?
  • Why do we gossip this guy?
  • Why was our summer so dry?
  • Why can we not reply?

Transferable skills

At first, I tried to rely on my memory to name all the daily medication my parents take and the dosage of each. But as they grow in age and their health deteriorates, the number of pills keeps increasing. This makes it an impossible task, to reliably keep track of their medication. I became clear to me, when, during an emergency, a doctor asked me for “your mother’s daily medication in detail” – I was tired, sad, confused then and could hardly remember any. How could one possibly remember my father’s 15 different daily pills, with different portions on different times of the day and my mother’s 10+ pills? I had tried to contact some of her doctors at the moment of the request, but not all were available when I needed the answer and one couldn’t even remember the exact medication he had given her!

So, I decided to put my Excel skills into practice and instead of making sophisticated financial models, I created a spreadsheet, which contains,for each one of my parents, their daily medication, split into morning, mid-day and evening. I update it every time there is a change in their prescriptions. I keep the historic information which alows us – and the doctors – to see what different therapies they have followed through time. I take it with me whenever I go to a doctor, hospital, etc. That list is also at home for my parents to follow. Also, by now, the doctors ask for the list – it makes their life easier, too.

So, this is how I make use of my transferable skills, nowdays 🙂

The path to spirituality – Jorge Bucay

We travel on roads more open …

with minds more and more narrow.

We have more comforts …

but we live more unhappily.

We have more knowledge …

and less awareness.

More specialists … and fewer solutions.

Most drugs … and less health.

It is the era of fast food …

and of slow digestion.

The era of luxurious houses… with broken families.

We get angry easily …

but we forgive with difficulty.

We leave very early …

and we always come back late.

We raise the flag of equality,

but we still keep prejudices.

We have our agenda full

of friends’ phones …

that we never call.

And our library-shelves,

are full of books

we will never read.

Future shock: Alvin Toffler

I catch myself reading less and less books nowdays – the internet seems to have taken its toll on me! Dedicating less time to reading, means that I have become much more selective in terms of which book I read.

I highly recommend a powerful book I just finished: it’s called “Future shock” written by the futurist Alvin Toffler. Although it was written in the 70’s, it couldn’t be more contemporary. It talks about the death of permanence, how “too much change in too short period of time” profoundly effects people, society, the planet and proposes ways to go about it. I could quote the entire book, if possible!

If you manage to find it, do read it and let me know what you thought about it!

Future shock.png

56 and going!

Today, I complete one more year of life. I do not like the idea of growing older, but at least it finds me:

  • healthy
  • still eager to make and chase new dreams
  • very conscious about my decision to live permanetely close to nature
  • happy with my natural hair colour (I stopped dying it)
  • priviledged to have my parents alive
  • fulfilled from helping people in their career transitions through Parallaxis
  • blessed to share my days with an exceptional partner
  • surrounded by friends that we care for each other (albeit most are physically far away)

Emerson said it!

I hadn’t heard of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) until today; his name came up in my philosophy class. I looked him up and I loved what I read. Below are two of his many quotes that I really liked:

  • ” To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else, is the greatest accomplishment”
  • “To be great, is to be misundestood”

Wanted!

One of our clients gave some of our olive oil to her mother. The mother recently had health issues, so a woman was contracted to come and stay with her, in her house, for help. As soon as the woman- helper tried our olive oil, she was thrilled! She had never tasted anything like it!

A few days later, the woman-helper turned out to be unsuitable for the job. So, she was asked to leave. It turned out, that before leaving she decided to sneak out some valuables with her: among those was our olive oil 🙂

Wise words from a “funny” man

What follows are words from Charlie Chaplin, full of wisdom and meaningI thought you might enjoy reading them as much as I did:

” As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY”.

As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody if I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me. Today I call it “RESPECT”.

As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call it “MATURITY”.

As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm. Today I call it “SELF-CONFIDENCE”.

As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call it “SIMPLICITY”.

As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF”.

As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is “MODESTY”.

As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worrying about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where everything is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT”.

As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART”.

We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born. Today I know “THAT IS LIFE!

The call of the coach

Back in 2016/17 when I was trying to gather feedback about my Parallaxis concept, a crucial step was to get in touch with different professional coaches who had first built their career working in various business roles and later on turned into coaching. I wanted to learn from them and use their lessons and experiences as valuable input to formulate my model.

I talked with many helpful and inspiring individuals, in different parts of the world, who accepted to be interviewed by me – a potential competitor – without hesitation. I learned a lot from them and I feel grateful that they opened up sharing their insights full of truthfulness. Among all these people, there was one particular coach who stood out: when I explained to him my thinking and the phase I was in, he offered his services to guide me in my important transition, for free. We had wonderful discussions: he challenged me often and enough, shared valuable material with me and helped me clarify my thoughts. Once I launched Parallaxis, we kept in touch, but as time went by we lost contact.

Now, 4 years on, I got a message from him asking me “how are you doing after aaaaall these years?”. We talked and shared our news. Interestingly, he is now in a phase of his life that he is going through a full transition! At some point of our discussion, I challenged him, like he used to do with me. “So, I will be the coach of the coach” I told him. “And I will do it with great pleasure”. “I’ll be in Greece in a few weeks, we can pick it up from there” he said.

A call from the past

“I am testing if you get my messages – call me when you get the time” – the note I received read. It was from an ex-boss of mine. “My life has changed but my number has remained the same!” I answered back jokingly.

We eventually talked. He told me that they (he and a few others from the business) often thought of me and wondered how I was doing. “And now, we are in a phase to define our Retail strategy; there is noone more suitable than you to help us out!”

His comments came like a thunder in a clear sky. It’s been 7 years that I put a stop to my corporate life and not once, during this period, have I thought of going back. On one hand, it feels like a distant past, almost like another life. On the other hand, the fact that, after all these years, someone recalls me and takes the initiative to praise my work and professional skillset, is a kind of honour.

Life doesn’t stop to surprise us!

One day difference

We went eagerly to visit our apricot trees. Oh! We saw happy trees looking straight up in the sky. They were in full blossom: their branches – small, big, old, new – were decorated with beautifully fragile flowers. No leaves (The leaves would come along with the fruit that would follow some weeks later). Just flowers everywhere, lots and lots of them. Each flower is a new birth that nature wiselly prepares. How wonderful to be given so many pretty children!

The day after our visit, the weather turned bad: the temperature dropped more than 20 degrees. This lasted some hours, but, sadly, it was enough to burn the flowers of our apricot trees and turn their white/pink colour into dead brownish. This was it! Within a day, our flowers died. That means no fruit will be produced. And consequently, no marmelade either 😦

My covid-19 rapid test

I take a free corona rapid test, daily, when I go walking in Epidavros. The village is renowned, among other things, for its vast number of orange groves; the trees are in full blossom right now.

One of the symptoms of corona is the loss of smell, I read. So, what a better rapid test with every step I take, to breath deeply; to inhale all the aromas from the orange flowers around me, to keep my breath until my lungs are filled with their perfumed oxygen and to let my nostrils test the adequacy of my smell!