Monthly Archives: July 2009

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Find your passion – Allison “Aegean Designs”

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“Take your passion… make it happen” These were the words sung by Irene Cara in “Flashdance -What a feeling”. The song and the video clip, undoubtedly inspired hundreds of thousands of young kids the world over to become professional dancers. Sometimes … Continue reading

fuzzy language of a building tradesman…

Time is a funny thing… but so is the meaning that we all put on words we use. Recent incidents with local tradesmen have reminded me of something I’ve used  in management workshops to highlight the dangers of fuzzy language (first came across it in an “interpersonal communication” text book).

So, tell me…. you think that you understand and communicate well with the partner in your life?

Hmmmm….

I urge you to do this and tell all of us the results.

The following is a list of words relating to time. If we assume that always=50 and never=1 , please place a number between 2-49 next to all the other words below:

1             Never

…            Often

…            Sometimes

…            Usually

…            Most of the time

…            Occasionally

…            Seldom

…            A lot

…            Almost always

…            Rarely

…            Frequently

…            Quite often

50          Always

 

Let me make a prediction. It is highly unlikely that you and your life partner will get more than 50% of the corresponding numbers exactly right/same. Which means what?

Well… it means that fuzzy meanings have probably caused several hundred arguments between you over the past few years. It also means that when a tradesman tells you he’ll be there “soon”…you need to define what “soon”means ;-)

Would love to hear the results !

Is a holiday a luxury/expense or an investment?

What’s the best investment you can make… at any time, in any economic climate?

Please think about that for a while before you read on!

Is it property?

Is it gold?

Is it equities?

Is it bonds?

Is it a superannuation fund?

I’m certain your trusted financial advisor will give you a cocktail of all of the above. A third, a third, a third he will more than likely say to you (property, equities, cash) and then charge you a nice fee.

Well…dear reader, I don’t subscribe to that crap.

You see, in my humble opinion, the best investment a person can make is in him/herself. There is no investment that will give you a better payback/divident than investing in yourself. If at least 10% of your income, time & effort are not being invested back in yourself… then I believe you are not placing a high enough value on your biggest asset… yourself

It really makes no difference, in my way of thinking, whether all your other financial investments are experiencing exponential growth. If you are not  feeling right, if you are not healthy, if you are not clear in your mind, if you are not doing the things you love to do, seeing the things you enjoy seeing, listening to the music you love, eating the food you love, reading the things you love reading and, most important of all, learning something new each day… then who the hell cares what your investments are doing?  

Talk about being comfortably numb…

The funny thing is… investing in yourself doesn’t cost much at all. Buying a CD that will give you endless hours of listening pleasure, a book that will let you learn or “imagine”, joining a fitness club or giving yourself permission to enjoy a nice walk each day, some “alone” time to think and clear your head, attending a seminar, joining a club or special interest group, doing something you love to do…

Most of these things are in fact free (or almost). All it takes is intent and a willingness to allow yourself to think of “yourself”.

Which brings us to the main question of this post. Are holidays a luxury/expense or an investment?

I guess one needs to define “holiday”…. but in my mind anything you do for yourself in order to unwind, recharge the batteries, clear your mind, allow yourself the pleasure of reconnecting with nature or giving yourself the opportunity to “experience” a new culture, language, food and sights…. is undoubtedly an investment. You don’t have to travel to the other side of the world. You can just as easily go to a beach or a mountain an hour from home… it can be just as rewarding. In fact, you don’t have to even leave home to have a holiday. You can just change your mind-set for a weekend and allow yourself the pleasure of indulging in things you love – a good book, some new music, an afternoon laying on a blanket in your back yard or the nearest park and just relaxing. It’s a matter of considering yourself worthy of such an investment in time.

If you do happen to travel then it becomes a question of seeing how you can extract maximum value for yourself from the holiday. Its not about where you go or where you stay. It’s the mental attitude you go with. Its about seeing it as a reward to yourself, an investment in your “peace of mind” state.

Yesterday I happened to be seeing some people in Oia and I walked past a hotel which is on the cliff and offers fantastic views and great facilities. I noticed a gentleman enjoying a swim alone.

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You can see him in the pool looking out over the cliff. To his left is the volcano… to his right is this:

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I doubt that this man was staying there alone. But he allowed himself the pleasure of standing alone in that pool, just taking in the view. I have no idea who he is, what he does for a living or where he is from. But being in that pool and doing what he was doing was obviously his choice. He was allowing himself the sheer pleasure of taking in the breathtaking view and allowing his mind to drift…lost in his own thoughts. I don’t know what it cost him to be there…. but is it an expense? Or is he investing in his own well being? His own “peace of mind”?

Personally, I don’t think one has to be at a cliff-top hotel in Oia or any other exotic location around the world. It’s the mind-set that’s important. Seeing the benefit in investing in yourself. Whether it’s half an hour alone with your headphones listening to sublime music, or reading a fantastic book, or reading a dozen blogs you love. You can just walk barefoot in a park and feel grass under your feet or have a loooong bath. Learn something new or experience something different.

We should all invest in ourselves a lot more. There are much worse investments out there ;-)  

Comfortably numb !

Hello?
Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me.
Is there anyone at home?

( Few song lyrics have caused more discussions and/or arguments about their meaning. Roger Waters wrote the lyrics and Dave Gilmour wrote the music to this song. Over the years they have each given many accounts on the meaning behind them. My view on the title and lyrics has always been quite different)

The superlative lyrics of Pink Floyd’s timeless song can, in my mind, be applied to a state of being that we have all experienced, whether we were conscious of it or not. I believe the two words in the title of this song combine to deliver the most powerful wake-up call to anyone who is willing or able to listen and understand.

 “I have become… comfortably numb” !

As a realisation, as a self-admission or an awakening, these two words together when referring to yourself must surely be as profound as any in the English language. The feeling of actually being aware that you have allowed yourself to slide into a state of inertia, of finding yourself into a comfortable daily routine where you are not being mentally (or physically) challenged, of doing something that’s making you a comfortable living…but it’s not what you love, of having somehow reasoned with yourself that there is little point in dreaming, or wanting things you were once passionate about…. THAT to me is being comfortably numb.

We have all been there. We grow “accustomed”, we grow lazy, we grow complacent, we fear change and we “avoid” anything that’s going to shake us from our comfort zone. Familiarity is queen and instant gratification is king. Why go through the wrong door, when going through the same door everyday leads us to the familiar, the safe, the comfortable?

The answer of course is that the land of the comfortably numb is the land of the living dead. No dreams, no goals, no desires, no passion, no adventure, no surprises, no new learning, no new experiences, no challenge. Commonly known as “same shit – different day”.

Ever since I first heard this song all those years ago… the first verse has always been in my mind. I have looked at people and silently asked “is there anybody in there…nod if you can hear me” during business meetings, dinner parties or casual conversations. I have asked myself over and over “are you becoming comfortably numb”?

At times the answer has been “yes”.

We all need a simple reminder… a phrase, a word, a nudge. Comfortably numb is the word combination that does it for me.
The song is timeless and my own personal meaning behind the lyrics is like a permanent pinprick that stops me from going numb!

Aegean seachange…

– “What on earth made you move to an island in Greece ? ”
– “If I need t0 explain it to you… you’ll probably never understand ! ”

Its July…. the island is teaming with people from all over the world. All age groups, all kinds of people, seeking to enjoy a holiday on the Greek islands. For many its a holiday they had planned for years, or a dream wedding, or an island-hop adventure, or a second visit to an island they fell in love with years earlier. Each visitor has a story…their own personal story.

Many people have been visiting the Aegean Design studio since it opened. A surprising number of people actually. Some happen to walk passed, others have heard about it somehow and seek it out. Most are very curious as to how it came about and they will ask questions… many questions. They want to know how, when, why and what. They want to understand, they want to hear the story and listen to the rational behind it. However…it often makes me wonder if they really want to know “our” story or do they want to mentally compare it to the story/vision/dream they themselves have deep in their minds.

You see I have a theory… my theory is that there is a seachange lurking inside everyone. Its like a short movie that plays inside their heads, over and over. Sometimes it has taken years to create the movie, other times the movie was started as a result of a more recent event like travel, seeing a documentary/travel show, seeing an image in a magazine or a web site or a blog. Some read a book or they have a long conversation with a friend about an old movie made in an “exotic” location. Whichever way the short “movie” was created in their minds it is now their dream, their personal mental adventure, their ultimate “escape” plan.

According to my theory most people ask a question about life on the island and as soon as I start telling them the story I can see their minds drifting. Their own movie kicks in (so to speak). Its not me they are thinking about…its themselves. How does my adventure compare with theirs, is that what they would’ve done, is that how they would’ve handled things. Their thoughts often spill out and they will say things like “I’ve always wanted to do that” or “my dream is a house in …..” or “I see myself doing that one day”. Other times they say nothing. They just tilt their heads and listen with a broad smile on their face…. and you can tell they are dreaming.

Not everyone dreams of a seachange on an island or another country of course. Some people simply want to move house or change a job, or pursue a career or achieve a goal. The term “seachange’ simply symbolises a burning desire, a passion, a dream (at least in my mind). The interesting thing is that from all the people I meet and talk to its those with a clear dream, passion and/or desire that seem happiest. They may not have accomplished it yet… but they know what it is and they are somehow working towards it.

Having that “short movie” in your mind may seem (to some) as a luxury, an indulgence or a guilty pleasure. But I see it differently. I see it as a driving force, a reason for being, a lifeplan.

I think everyone should purposely become the director of a short movie called “My Life”. Write your own script, scout your own locations and “choose” the role you want to play in it, as well as the roles for anyone else you want in the movie. Choose the soundrack of your life, the scenes you want in it, the surprises and the highlights. Choose your co-star/s and set out to cast your own movie rather than leave it to chance. In short…. be the director  and star of your own movie/life. If you don’t, you’ll probably end up being an “extra’ in someone else’s.

 

PS: promise to post a lot more that I did this past week. Lots of pictures and stories next week ;-)

Bougainvillea – A sexy South American in Santorini

It’s an amazing world we live in… how often have you thought about that lately?  Not often? Perhaps you should.

Lately I have found myself running around a bit too much and realised that its been a while since I took Rex for a long walk through the village. Today I rectified that and although its very hot here… it was an uplifting experience. Its the middle of summer (almost), the light is very bright and the village looks a picture. It struck me as I walked through the narrow paths that there are so many beautiful images all around, quite apart from the views of Oia. It also struck me that you can’t help but gaze towards a particular plant at this time of year…wherever it may be growing.

b1

 

Its bougainvillea… and in Oia, its everywhere. This sexy little climber from the South American tropics has certainly found its way to the Greek islands and in this small village it is almost symbolic. There is good reason for that of course… the colour contrast between the various varieties of bougainvillea and the mostly white-washed walls in Oia is spectacular. The effect of bougainvillea on a landscape can be stunning.
 

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Whether it’s someone’s garden…

 

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Or a small hotel like this. The contrast against white and blue seems completely natural and “right”.

 

b4 
It is used to add colour to our narrow lanes…

 

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and even our clock tower.

 

b5 
Shops use bougainvillea….

 

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so do our restaurants. Some of these are old, very well established plants, adding lots of colour and atmosphere.

 

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Others use them in a very subtle, understated way to achieve sublime results !

 

There are no prerequisites to having a bougainvillea. You don’t need a spectacular villa or a great restaurant. You can just as easily have the good taste to grow one in front of your small island home.

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It certainly makes plain white & blue look like dreamland…. don’t you think?

 

And so it was…walking around my little village, that I realised what an amazing world we live in, if only we take the time to look around us. A gorgeous South American now living and thriving in Greece, adding infinite beauty to the landscape every year.  

Go for a long walk…clear your mind and look around you. I bet you’ll find plenty of beautiful things you haven’t noticed for a while ;-)

Spirit of Oia – a Sunset to remember !

In Oia, on most evenings, something magical happens. People are happy…very very happy. Some come early, some come at the last minute… but all of them have a certain expression on their face. It’s like watching kids about to see a magic show. They come, they take their seats and they wait….

They come as couples mainly, but also as friends, as groups (small and large), or as families. They come from all over the world and its quite special to hear smiling faces speaking in all kinds of languages to each other. Its HAPPY hour in Oia, Santorini. Its “s u n s e t” time.

Since I promised you sunset magic I have gone out a couple of times to take photos. The sunset gods have not been kind, but magic still happens in Oia… even if the weather is not perfect.

As usual the sun-setters are in position early…waiting, chatting and taking photos.

s1

What a lot of them don’t realise is that the best way to get great photos in Oia is by moving around. It’s a moving picture show and unless you move around you’ll miss some magic shots… like this:

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On hazy days the light changes constantly… and the boats (as always) move around trying to get the best views for their passengers. Half the fun is trying to capture “the” shot…. if you’re there for the photos that is and not everyone is there for great photos. Most are there to share a great experience.

My theory on the fundamental need, we have as humans, to share an experience gives rise to many types of “why” questions. We humans are not just social animals. We are pack animals. We live in large cities together and we like to go to places where there are lots of others sharing the same experience with us. Not always of course…as you will see soon !

Sunset time in Oia is special for many reasons. It’s not just the view… as fantastic as it is. It’s the whole atmosphere around you. It’s the architecture, the topography, the people from all over the world around you and the “spirit” of the village. A multi-sensory torrent. Its a total immersion of sorts.

Did you know that humans have more muscles in their face, used for expression, than any other animal? Up to five main muscles and on occasion up to ten more. All used for expression. Useless information…I know, and I can only assume that not all of these are used to express pleasure… but let me tell you that the “pleasure muscles” work overtime at sunset…. I mean that in the cleanest possible way of course ;-)  

So visitors sit and wait…they chat, they drink, they dine or just cuddle – and they take looooots of photos. That’s because there is a lot to take photos of and the scene changes as the night progresses.

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The sunset viewing side of Oia gets filled with visitors during peak season. They sit on roof tops, steps, hotel balconies and of course the old Kastro (fort). They sit and wait for the show to start… anticipation growing.

 

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Other than the position of the sun the first sign that the show is about to start is the sailing ships below. Full of people…they cruise out for a closer glimpse then double back (depending on the weather) to allow their passengers to watch the sunset from inside the caldera.

 

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Watching these old ships down below in the small bay of Ammoudi gives you a feeling you’re watching a live pirate movie. It just adds to the sense of magic of the place and makes the whole experience almost surreal.

But of course… its not just the old sailing ships that come out at sunset. Almost any captain of a ship/yacht/cruise liner tries to time arrival into Santorini at sunset. They all want to give their passengers a look at one of most spectacular sights in the world…. a Santorini sunset.

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Obviously the timing of this particular captain of a privately owned (large, old-style yacht) was impeccable.  Just imagine the thrill of the guests on-board…. arriving in Santorini just as the sun was hugging the horizon. Probably not even aware that they themselves were adding to the magic of the show for all those high on the cliff.

 

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The haze didn’t allow one of the great sunsets for all those viewing on the night… but the atmosphere of the village never fails to capture the imagination of the visitors. They will talk about for years, show their photos and talk of watching the sunset at Oia. They will applaud and they will talk to the people around them. Some will kiss, cuddle or hold hands as they watch. Some will make plans to come back, others will not want to leave.

But there are also some that didn’t want to be with the crowd. They wanted to be alone….wanted to share only with each other.

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High romance…high on the cliffs of Oia.

Now THAT my friends, in my humble opinion, is the way to watch and remember an Oia sunset !