Gran Canaria – Celebrating the Mini-Continent

Today is a special day for yours truly. A very special day, actually. And I am not saying that because I know how perhaps half of the world (if not the whole world already!) may well be enjoying the various different celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day. So, if you are celebrating it, Happy St. Patrick’s Day nonetheless! Hope you are all having a good time with your loved ones, family and friends. The reason why I am very joyous and rather happy today though is because it’s exactly 10 years ago today that I decided to reboot my life, restart with a clean slate, and make a move to Gran Canaria, where I might find a new home and a new life altogether. That’s right, March 17th, 2004, I took a flight from The Netherlands (Rotterdam, to be more precise) to Gran Canaria to start a new life and 10 years later only thing I can say is that I’m rather privileged and grateful for having found it and for still going strong. 

There are no regrets. None whatsoever. In fact, all along, I have always felt it was probably the best decision I have ever made in my life, next perhaps to the one I have made 10 years later when, just recently, a bit over a month ago, I decided to make a move from IBM after 17 years of service in three different countries: The Netherlands, Ireland and Spain. Interestingly enough, I have always felt a rather close connection with Ireland myself, even more so when I spent a year over there in Dublin on an assignment for some project work I did back in the day. There are just so many things that I truly heart from that country, so when I decided I was moving back home from The Netherlands, I knew I would have to pick up a special date. One that I would remember forever with plenty of fond memories all around. And that date chosen is St. Patrick’s Day. 

Throughout the whole day I’ve been having lots of really good friends congratulating me and wishing me well for my birthday. I guess I have been a little bit of a naughty boy, because it’s actually not my birthday today. It was already in February (Another fellow Aquarian, I know, hehe), so I lied on the Web :-) 

On most social networking tools out there where I keep getting asked about my date of birth for my profile I never put my real one, since with it and a couple of other pieces of data, it’s relatively easy to impersonate someone. I mostly put the year I was born next to March 17th, perhaps more than anything else, because when I came over here it all felt like I was being re-born again, so what a better tribute one could pay to such a special date than to celebrate it as if it were your real (Internet) birthday, right? 

For all of those folks who have been sending along their kind and best wishes I would want to take this opportunity to thank each and everyone of you for making this day even more special. For helping me get a reminder of what it was like moving over here, to Gran Canaria, to begin everything again from scratch. 10 years later, I am only now just getting started, although it feels like I have been living over here forever. It’s not there just yet. It’s the second longest place I have ever lived in, apart from my family place, back in mainland Spain (León). So it does feel like I have been here for a long long time. 

And, of course, it was time to celebrate such milestone, don’t you think? Well, that’s exactly what I have been doing whole weekend long, including today!, of course :) by spending most of the time visiting one of my favourite places on the whole island: Puerto de Mogán, to just be reminded, once again, why I moved over here 10 years ago: 

Those of you who may have visited Puerto de Mogán at some point in time would know, and probably agree, what a stunning place that little fishermen’s village is to not only just walk out and about, but also to enjoy some stunning scenery that can be, if anything, rather breath taking: 

But not only that. Little Venice, as it is very well known for, has got a lot more to offer, like rather long walks along the harbour enjoying spring in full bloom in almost every single corner of the village making it a true pleasure for your eyes and your sense of smell to be taken away while the rest of the senses are just getting started to experience beauty and charm in equal doses: 

And, finally, the last stroll along the beach that acts as a clear reminder as to why I felt in love with Gran Canaria 10 years ago and why, 10 years later, it is just as strong as ever! Yes, it probably doesn’t get any better than this: 

I don’t know how much longer I may be living in Gran Canaria. Only time would know for sure, perhaps different various circumstances as well, I guess. At this point in time, I am taking each year as another gracious gift that I have been given without asking for anything in return and, as such, the only thing that I have got left is to write down this blog post as a token of immense gratitude for having Gran Canaria make me feel right at home in paradise. Carpe diem, as some of you may be thinking about at this very moment. For me, it’s a sincere Thanks! for changing my life back 10 years ago and for continuing to do so today.

March 17th, 2014! Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone and here’s to many many more years in paradise to come further along! And, remember, if you ever come over to Gran Canaria, get in touch. I would love to share with you all plenty of the hidden, golden gems this gorgeous island has got to offer to every single explorer

Me, included! :-D

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Finding Time to Reflect while on Vacation

Leon - CathedralOnce again, it’s been nearly a couple of weeks since my last blog post over here on The Perks of Being an Early Riser  and I am sure at this point in time folks out there may be thinking that, once more, I have failed to keep up with restoring my social presence as I mentioned on that last article. Far from the truth, I am afraid. Over the last few days I have been doing something that I have been looking forward to for quite some time and that it’s always something that I can never get tired of: Vacation. And this time around a very special kind of holiday, because it’s been a rather disconnected one, too! Not by choice though, although the world works in mysterious ways, so perhaps that was what I needed all along in the first place: a time to strike for “the best opportunity to take a step back, inhale, exhale, think about life, and ask: am I happy?

Indeed, every year, during the course of the summer I have been enjoying tremendously that pilgrimage back home to see my family in León, Spain, where I was born and raised, and catch up with them for a few days to see what they have been up to. And time and time again, it’s been a fun experience, specially, when this time around you try to explain to your mum what you do for a living and you realise that she has never seen, played, enjoyed the Web. Quite an interesting and thrilling challenge I would encourage you all to go through, if you haven’t just yet! 

Even worse when you try to show her what it is like from your laptop and there isn’t any ADSL or wi-fi around. Or you try to show her on your mobile smartphone and tablet through a so-called rather robust 3G network and you see that it fails to keep getting connected to the point of embarrassment. And you eventually give up, because you know that so-called pervasive connectivity isn’t just coming around. Yes, indeed, someone had to say it out loud, I guess, there are parts in this world where broadband and the Internet are just … not … there! 

Goodness! I can’t believe that I am writing about this in 2013, where everyone keeps claiming that we are now more connected than ever before in our history through the (Social) Web, where wi-fi and ADSL lines are pervasive enough to make it an enjoyable experience and where, as a last resort, 3G may come to the rescue. Well, not really. Not everywhere as I have been able to experience fully in the last 10 days or so. And this is happening right here, in Spain, not some kind of remote island, in the middle of the ocean, where the 21st century may not have arrived just yet! 

See? Disconnected holiday not by choice, but then again perhaps it was better that way, because I had a real blast altogether! And for a good number of reasons, starting off with having an opportunity to do a proper catch-up with family and friends face-to-face and without any smartphone or tablet devices getting on the way. Never mind that wonderful opportunity as well to find plenty of time to pause and reflect wondering about things, in general, whether I have been enjoying work, my personal life, and so forth. You name it. It’s amazing to see how much one gets to think when you do have all of the time of the world without the so-called distractions we are all pretty familiar with. What Ted Leonsis brilliantly described on a recent article under the suggestive heading “Find Time to Reflect“.

Anyway, I am not too sure whether I eventually succeeded in explaining to my mum what I do for a living, or not, but I can tell you she was right on when she threw back at me a rather short, sharp question that I guess summarises everything and that it certainly puts things into perspective: “Are you happy, son? (Because that’s what really matters at the end of the day, you know)“. 

Whoahhh!! Mums are wonderful, aren’t they? They just know us inside out, and without having to say much, to find out really quick everything they would want to know and in just 4 words she was capable of detailing whether I am on the right track or not, and not just in my professional career, but also on a personal level. The intriguing thing is that I failed to utter some words as a response. Instead, I just got a huge smile coming across my entire face that she received warmly with a nod of approval and That’s all that matters, really, that you are happy with yourself and those around you and that you keep smiling. The world needs that, son“. 

You can see why I am getting goose bumps all over again as I get to write down those few words of wisdom, right? And she didn’t even need to be aware of what the Internet is or have access to it or for me to explain what I do for work. Some things are just so profound, so touching and mind-blowing altogether, yet so simple and uncomplicated that it’s incredibly difficult to not just feel overwhelmed by that feeling of immense gratitude. She has done all right with all of her children all along throughout all of these years. And me being worried all along about not being connected to the Web to be in the know and everything, when all I needed was just right in front of my face! Right there! How could I possibly miss that? 

I guess that’s what I meant earlier on in this post when talking about taking that disconnected holiday to visit my family and to pause and reflect on things, the smallest things, you know, the ones which seem to be the ones that keep driving us towards whatever our goals may well have been all along, but that, for whatever the reason, we may have deviated a bit in our directions and / or intent. I suppose that’s, amongst several other zillion things!, what mums are really good at over the course of time when they keep reminding you what you are here for in this world and everything, helping you focus on what you really need to focus on… those around you who you care for and … yourself.

In finding time to reflect Ted talks about several common steps that would surely help us all towards becoming happy and successful. To quote them briefly: 

  1. “Goal-Setting
  2. Communities of Interest
  3. Personal Expression
  4. Gratitude
  5. Empathy and Giving Back
  6. Higher Calling”

It is a rather fascinating and inspiring read all along for sure and I highly recommend going through it, specially, if you are still enjoying some time off and could do with some additional hints & tips on what that thinking time could be like. I can tell you, after the 10 days I have spent back home, with my family, in mainland Spain, there are a couple of them that truly resonate with what I have experienced during that time: personal expression, gratitude and empathy and giving back, understanding fully that all of the above will eventually help me figure out the biggie, that is, the higher calling (Whatever that may well be, whenever … time will tell). 

Ether way, you can probably sense from this blog post how after that holiday break my batteries are fully charged, and ready for plenty more to come along! I will be back to work next Monday. That outrageous, heretic, corporate rebel optimist, that hippie 2.0, is back in full throttle and interestingly enough with a new focus (I told you, that thinking time was going to have its toll as well! hehe) that will start unfolding itself from next week onwards, when as an early riser back into the social grid, will start unleashing his personal expression. But for now, I thought I would share over here a couple of photos I had the chance to take as well of the town where I grew up back in the day… 

Leon - San Isidoro

Leon - Cathedral

Leon - San Marcos

León - Casa Botines

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On the Road Again, on Another Special Day

Today, March 17th 2013, is St. Patrick’s Day. So while the rest of the world has already embarked on a massive celebration (Happy St. Patrick’s Day, by the way!!), I am also celebrating something rather special, so I thought I would let folks out there know about it, since I keep getting asked time and time again. No, it’s *not* my birthday, as the Social Web keeps proclaiming to the world and beyond. Actually, I have lied on the Social InterWebs, because my birthday already took place a few weeks back. However, on the Web, and a few years ago already, I updated all of my social networking profiles to put an incorrect birth date, just because I didn’t feel the world needed to know that personal detail. Oh, not to worry, I am not too fussed about my age, 41 this year, but it’s the principle that with that accurate date and a couple of other details people could impersonate you and steal your identity. So I thought I would lie about it and instead pick up a date that still is rather special and dear to me: St. Patrick’s Day.

Why is March 17th such an important date to yours truly?, you may be wondering, right? Well, mainly because 9 years ago, exactly today, I moved from The Netherlands to Gran Canaria, my home base, making it by now the second longest time that I have ever lived in a place, outside of my parents home. So, in a way, it is my home, don’t you think? That’s right! I wasn’t really sure whether I was going to be able to make it for that long, but I guess that once you settle in a place and you decide that’s going to be it, it kind of becomes a special place. One that is part of you, and you are part of it. And that, to me, is Gran Canaria. 

I guess time flies pretty quickly when you are having fun, right? Because even though it looks like as if it was yesterday, with the odd blink here and there, it’s already been 9 years since I moved to the island. And I wouldn’t change a single one of those years. It does feel like a re-birth, for sure, since when it happened I was going through one of those life changing experiences that you know you are going to bump into at some point in your life that makes you question and wonder about the small things, i.e. you know, the things that matter. So, perhaps in a way, I am celebrating today my re-birthday after all. Who knows… 

The thing is that life works in mysterious ways and does magical and wonderful things, because how ironic it is that today I’m celebrating that 9th year anniversary of having moved to Gran Canaria, in Utrecht, The Netherlands, where I am staying for a couple of days to participate and present at the Congres Intranet 2013 (#intra13 is the Twitter hash tag, if you would want to follow it up over the next couple of days…). Yes, I know, very ironic, isn’t it? 

Anyway, it’s still a wonderful celebration and I just couldn’t help dropping by over here in this blog and, like every year, share a short note of appreciation for how much of an impact such a tiny island can have in a person, like myself and everyone else who may have lived or visited there. So perhaps I thought I would share over here a couple of snapshots that would give you a glimpse of why Gran Canaria has got a special place in my heart for over the last 9 years and still going strong … 

 Gran Canaria - Maspalomas Dunes

 Gran Canaria - Roque Nublo

 

And those pictures surely remind me of the warm weather that I am already missing while over here in Utrecht, where it’s rather cold [Brrr] despite spring being just around the corner! So I guess it will also help me as an incentive of what awaits me in a couple of weeks when I return back home. Yes, that’s right, Utrecht is not the only city I’m going to visit during this business trip. I’m going to be on a little bit of a European Tour that will take me in a couple of days to Paris (Where I will be attending and presenting at the Enterprise 2.0 Summit - Follow the hash tag #e20s on Twitter, if you would be interested), then from there onwards on to Leuven, Belgium, to present at BLUG (#blug) and over the coming weekend onto Prague, to present as well at the Heutagogy Conference event on March 27th. 

Goodness! I told you, a little bit of a European Tour, wasn’t it? I am excited already and I haven’t started it just yet! Either way, like I said, in two weeks time I will be enjoying the lovely warm weather, the lovely people, the lovely food from the one island that decided to become my new home 9 years ago: Gran Canaria.

Thus happy re-birthday to me!


PS: As usual, if you are going to be around any of those cities while I’m on the road, throughout this business trip, and would want to meet up for a drink or a coffee, or even a quick “Hi!”, feel free to reach out through the usual social spaces … I’m just about to end the self-inflicted Twitter and G+ silence, provoked by something I talked about a little while ago …

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