The Power of Vulnerability

My friend Soph mentioned this TED Talk to me the other day, advising me to see it. I had never heard of the speaker Brené Brown before but I love that her area of study is human connection, it amazes me (in a good way) that there is such a specification - it's something that comes so easily to some and so difficultly to others, there really must be limitless research possibilities in that field. 

The underlying theme of the TED Talk was 'expanding perception' but more specifically in Brené's case, the power of being vulnerable - she talks about how the biggest barrier to true human connection is shame, thus, to truly connect with others, one must be openly vulnerable. As someone who finds true vulnerability far past daunting, this video really rang true to me.

What do you think of this premise? 

Grenson

My friend Erin introduced me last year to an English based shoe brand by the name of Grenson and I instantly fell for their modern take on the classic derby, oxford, loafer, brogue, etc... William Green, founder of Grenson, learnt the shoe trade from his mother then opened his first factory in 1874; Grenson was one of the first brands to use the Goodyear welt construction method and still dominates the shoe industry thanks to Tim Little who took over the brand in 2005, turning it around and making it into the forward thinking that we know today. I have been enjoying following their Instagram feed, very inspiring as Autumn is upon us...

Here are my Grensons - the Jessie (in tan) and the Jasmine. I must say, they are the most comfortable non-sneaker shoes I own! What are your favorite everyday shoes? 

Missing these two terribly...

Receiving my shipping from the US this week has thrown me onto a melancholic track... Really missing these two great friends, Rye Bread and Crazy Legs! Am a lucky girl to have them in my life, I just wish they weren't so far away as I could really do with having them over for a long boozy dinner just about now!

#howstarbuckskeptonfuckingupmyname

When I moved to the States, one of the things I did not expect was that a lot of people couldn't pronounce my name, Beatrice. I experienced some very strange phonetic attempts... It became a joke with my colleagues, especially on trips to Seattle's very own Starbucks. Here are some examples of #howstarbuckskeptonfuckingupmyname

"The Affair" on Showtime

I just saw the first episode of Showtime's new show, The Affair, and I am utterly gripped as well as I am delighted to see Dominic West in another brilliant TV show (I still mourn HBO's The Wire). I'm not in the mood for writing so here's a review I enjoyed from the New Republic:

For the first half-hour of its first episode, Showtime’s “The Affair” is a well-made, if slightly predictable domestic drama. We meet Noah Solloway (Dominic West), a brownstone-dwelling writer with a lovely wife (Maura Tierney), four rambunctious children, and chiseled good looks. “My life was pretty fucking perfect,” he tells us in Sunday’s premiere, and even as we see Noah’s frustrations—his wealthy, underminey father-in-law; his inability to have sex without being interrupted by those pesky kids—we have little reason to doubt him. He loves his wife! He’s just published his first novel! But the show is called “The Affair,” and so when, en route to his father-in-law’s east Hampton mansion for the summer, Noah meets a flirtatious waitress with piercing eyes, (“Luther”’s Ruth Wilson), we know what to expect: temptation, infidelity, a heavy dose of guilt.

Around the 30-minute mark, though, the episode abruptly takes a turn. Noah’s perspective disappears, and suddenly this story belongs to Alison Lockhart, the Montauk waitress played by Wilson. Alison is also married, to a loving, volatile rancher named Cole (Joshua Jackson—a casting choice that should bring joy to the heart of former teenage girls everywhere), and the couple are wrecked with grief after losing a child.

What gives the show both its novelty and its thrill is the framing device: Noah and Alison are both narrating these events, or their version of it, to a detective in a police interrogation room some time later. Imagine “True Detective,” if that series was concerned with intimacy and relationships instead of Nietzschean grandstanding. Or “Gone Girl,” minus the sociopaths.

And unlike “True Detective,” where the narrators were unreliable but the camera remained trustworthy, subjectivity is threaded into every step of the filmmaking in “The Affair.” In the episode’s second half, we don’t just see the same events from Alison’s vantage point; we see how Alison’s and Noah’s memories diverge. At the diner where Noah eats with his family, Alison’s skirt is longer, her dress buttoned up higher, her hair tied back. His clothes are slimmer, more expensive. (There’s an interesting undercurrent of class tension in the episode that I hope remains an ongoing theme.) Instead of flirtatiously touching his arm, she’s withdrawn, as though anxious that the sight of this still-whole family might prick her. When they run into each other later on a beach, her flimsy sundress has been replaced by sensible shorts and top, with a protective blanket wrapped around. Wilson, one of England’s best and most versatile young actresses, gives an astonishing performance, essentially playing two characters: one coy and knowing, the other wan and depressed, her self-loathing practically oozing out of her skin.

This isn’t the first television show to do the “Rashomon” thing, of course. The device has been used in countless sitcom and cartoon episodes as a gimmicky change of pace, from “All in the Family” to “Spongebob Squarepants.” But “The Affair” fully commits, without promising any definite answers. The first episode leaves us with a mystery—what crime or accident is being investigated?—but gives us other questions that seem more vital. Are Alison and Noah lying? Are they lying to themselves? Who gets closer to the truth? Everyone wants to be the hero of their own story, and these clashing narratives are subtle enough to suggest the vagaries of memory without implying subterfuge. It’s hard to tell where the creators, Sarah Treem and Hagai Levi (previously of “In Treatment”), will take the show from here. (Showtime only made one episode available to critics.) But this warm, sexy character drama, laced with dread, is certainly one of the most promising new shows of the fall.
— Esther Breger, New Republic

Ah Chanterelles, comme je vous aiment...

One of my favorite ingredients is the mushroom, especially the wild one. It's Chanterelle season here in Spain so I was scouring the web & Pinterest for recipes and came across this one from Jamie Oliver - I have yet to make it but will no doubt do so soon... If you try it out, let me know what you think!

This recipe serves 4, takes 20min to prepare and is classified as super easy per Oliver's website.

Ingredients: 350 g chanterelles, 1 small bunch fresh curly parsley, 30 g butter, olive oil, ½ red onion, peeled and finely sliced, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, 150 ml single cream, 1 lemon

Instructions: Preheat your oven to its lowest setting and pop the loaf of bread in to warm through. Spend a few minutes gently brushing along the underside of the mushrooms to get rid of any bugs and dirt that might be hiding there. This is well worth the effort. Finely chop your parsley, stalks and all, reserving a few of the leaves.

Put the butter into a large hot pan and as soon as it starts to melt add a drizzle of olive oil, the mushrooms, sliced onion and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Stir everything around and cook for about 8 minutes, or until the onions have softened and the mushrooms are starting to caramelise and take on colour.

Add the chopped parsley, then pour in the cream. Continue to stir and cook for another minute, until the cream has come to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for a minute before removing from the heat. Add a good squeeze of lemon juice, have a taste, and add more salt, pepper or lemon juice if it needs it. Take your bread out of the oven and tear it into big chunks. Divide the mushrooms between your plates and scatter over the reserved parsley leaves. Serve with your chunks of bread on the side to mop up all the creamy mushroomy juices, and tuck in!

Making friends (and trying not to alienate myself) in a new city

I'm conscious that since I moved to Barcelona, my social life has close to disappeared... I have a couple best friends here which is a luxury for anyone who moves to a new city and that's a start, no? Having said that, I know I need to get out there and make new friends, but...

There are a few roadblocks to my finding these 'new friends': 1. at 35, I have a lot of great people I love and consider part of my friends' family, so the friend quota is more or less full but since only a couple live in Barcelona, I need to get out there and give the newbies a chance; 2. I work from home and mainly on the phone with folks in US/UK so I cannot rely on my work for friend finding which I always have in the past; 3. since moving here, I haven't found myself in a very sociable mood, I've been in a bit of shock resulting from the unwanted life change and as a result, I've grown accustomed to spending a lot of time alone which is not a good long term situation for this single chica; 4. over the years, I have found that I have a hard time making meaningful relationships in a non-international groups and nowadays, I even feel self-conscious about it to an extent, I find myself assuming that my interlocutors must find me unrelatable - I have no doubt that it makes sense as I get older that my circle stretches thinner than wider so I know I have to not make this an issue and accept it as is; 5. my social elevator pitch sucks - it needs work! ;0)

So, I have thought of a few things I can do to meet like minded people -

  • reach out to my friends around the world to see if they have buddies here in BCN - what's the point of having an international network if you don't use it?!
  • take Italian classes: I had my first class today, am not sure I'll be making besties but I am enjoying the social aspect of the class dynamic
  • join a book club: I joined a French book club, reading our 1st assigned book as we speak
  • join social & business networking clubs: I joined an expat club called InterNations (their slogan, "connecting global minds in 390 cities around the world") and will be signing up to this business association called Barcelona Global (their mission is to "actively contribute to making Barcelona one of the most attractive cities in the world to attract and develop talent and economic activity")
  • take on a physical activity: watch this space...

Have you found it hard to make new friends when moving to a new city/country? What have you done to grow your social life? Tips & encouragement please!

I've moved!

I finally moved into my new place this week, and I swear, I'm a new person! It's amazing what the effect an uncomfortable living space can have on my psyche - I just have to remember that about myself and to not take it for granted in the future. My nest is important!

This new apartment is magnificent, it's spacious (120sqm) and has heaps of natural light; another aspect I adore is the design feel of it, it's a combination of Nordic and Barcelona interior style: a mix of grey washed wooden floors and hydraulic tiles. You'll see what I mean when I'm ready to post photos, in the meantime, here are some pictures of a couple furniture pieces I bought - I'm still waiting for their delivery so they're product shots I grabbed off of the website I bought them from (for those in Barcelona, it's called Domestico Shop, a great discovery for us Nordic style design inclined Spanish residents). The table is by Belgian company Ethnicraft and the sofa is by Spanish company called Sancal. I can't wait to see what they look like in my living room + I can entertain again!