This site contains the archives of my travel blogs from 2010-2016.

I'm now blogging via Medium. For other life updates, including opportunities or requests to collaborate, visit my personal website.




Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sniffing Around Nepal


I just found this diary entry from my first week in Nepal. Already, just six months since I moved away, the daily sights and smells of the country are fading.  Past reflections like this are such a treasure!

I'm certain that what I will remember most about Nepal is its smells and the sensory overload which assaulted my nose upon stepping out of the safe haven of my home and into the street. 

The "welcome smell" as Emma dubs it - the overpowering scent of urine that penetrates every vehicle entering the city.

The hostel kitchen which smells of propane gas mixed with layers of grime - the type of grime that is a result of fairly frequent wipe-ups but never gets a good scrub-down or deep clean. 

The smell of daal bhaat, made over and over with the same spices which have become all too familiar. 

The smell of roadside butcher stands: meat covered in so many flies that you can't even tell it's meat, growing bacteria in the sun and collecting dust churned up by the busy street.

The smell of death. Literally. I'll never forget my visit to Pashupati Mandir in Kathmandu, one of the city's biggest Hindu temples, where bodies of the recently deceased were burned in bonfires  on pires in the open air, just over the river laden with litter where their ashes would be disposed, as onlookers - not mourners, but just anyone walking by - stood or sat and watched, chatting among themselves. I pulled the collar of my tunic up to cover my mouth and nose as I walked by - down wind - over the bridge no more than 50 feet away and was assaulted by a barrage of ash and the unmistakable scent of death.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Barcelona Street Performer


I ran into this gem of a street performance while walking along the boardwalk / seafront. It seems that this amazing gal belongs in Cirque du Soleil!

P1150309 from shirah-eden on Vimeo.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Barcelona in February


I spent the first week of this month in Barcelona, where we kicked off a course comprised of joint collaboration between my university (Aalto) and ESADE, called Innovation in Action.  I didn't have an exorbitant amount of time to explore the city, but I definitely made the most of the time I did have!  After a long, dark winter in Finland, my #1 goal was to maximize sunlight absorption!

Tip: click any photo to enlarge! 

Walking thru the neighborhood of Gracia, I looked up to see this magnificent dwelling on the hill.

A design by famed Spanish Catalan architect
Antoni Gaudi.  He's known as the face of
Catalonian Modernist architecture, and his
buildings are spread out all over the city.

First meal: Fresh Spanish Quesadillas. Ham & Mushroom for
me, oozing some kind of delicious Spanish cheese. Yum.
This is the coolest sundial I've seen in a while. Definitely a
piece I could enjoy having in my garden.
a tribute to my collection of doorways from around the world

Here's part of our group in front of another Gaudi masterpiece - La Sagrada Familia.
This church has been under construction for 40 years, using only donations from the public.
Still a ways to go, but already staggeringly beautiful.

Façade detail on one side of La Sagrada Familia

The inside of the church supposedly looks like a forest. It's a
25 euro entrance fee, so I didn't want to invest while I only
had time to run through it. Hoping for a long visit when I go
back in May!
Old meets new

I've just fallen in love with these balconies!

The Catalan flag is proudly displayed in many homes and
balconies.  Tensions between the Catalan people and Spanish
government aren't especially high at the moment, but they tend
to fluctuate. I was able to learn a lot about the unique culture
and language of Catalunya from some local students.

They say that if you drink from this fountain, you are sure to
come back to Barcelona. I must have slurped a few litres, such
was my enthusiasm for the sun, beauty, and charm of this place.
Fresh baked bread

local graffiti

An incredible street performer. Video to come.

Views from my window in Muntaner

In La Boqueria - an open air market
red hot chili peppers

authentic oven-baked nachos

home grown garden graffiti

afternoon espresso in Plaça de Catalunya

watching the sun rise with these men & women of old

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Next Speaking Gig: DoDay // Helsinki Feb 28


A few weeks ago Dreamdo's community engagement gal asked me to host an event for their DoDay.   Dreamdo is a Finnish startup committed to inspiring people to dream more and do more.

I've been using the Dreamdo web service for a bit over a month now, and I'm so pleased with the way their streamlined platform allows me to track and reflect on my own dreams, and also follow other people's dreams.  Here are two of my dreams that are most liked by the Dreamdo community:

- Building a tree house
- Writing a book about my travels

It's been really neat to get comments, questions, and encouragement from the people following my dreams, and I've so enjoyed the opportunity to contribute to theirs.  I can honestly say that, out of all the websites out there, this is one of the few that have actually increased my quality of life in a tangible way.  When I'm feeling overwhelmed with the tasks of one day, I take 5 minutes to review my life dreams, to see how far I've come and the huge possibilities still ahead, and I'm immediately re-motivated and re-inspired.

I'm really excited about the opportunity to share some of my experiences in a seminar / workshop as part of next week's DoDay.  Here's what I'll be speaking on:

31 Countries & Counting
I embarked on a journey around the world when I was 16. Alone. 7 years, 7 languages, and 31 countries later, it's no longer just a trip. I'm convinced that traveling can be more than a vacation. More than a moment you experience passively in an unfamiliar place. The most enriching travel moments take place when you're committed to an intentional and meaningful learning experience. 

Here's a link to the event registration page. Limit 10 people; we're keeping this group small and cozy for maximum dreaming comfort. I hear that a glass of red wine might be involved ;) If you're in Helsinki, you're invited!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Put Today in Perspective

Every so often, a story comes along which should be shared, spread, and celebrated.
Zach is living one of those stories.

Listen, and let his attitude re-frame your perspective on the day.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Leaders: 5 Ways to Wield Your Super-Hero Power


As a leader, you have an effect on people. When you leave the room, people ether feel taller or smaller. This is an almost super-hero power, but, unfortunately, leaders are often unconscious of it.

At the end of the day, everyone is a volunteer. People will only go so far in the performance of a duty. If you want their very best, you have to have their hearts. You can’t demand this or even buy it with a paycheck. You have to earn it.
In my experience, there are five ways to do this:

1. Assume others are smart and working hard.
2. Listen intently and ask thoughtful questions.
3. Acknowledge the sacrifices others have made on your behalf.
4. Express gratitude for their effort and their results.
5. Remind them why their work is so important and the difference they are making.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Foy's Law of Necessity


This is how it goes:

While preparing for a shopping excursion or while packing a bag, make a list of everything you need.
Then, cut it in half. Cross off half the list.
Now, cut it in half again.

The Law:  You only really need 25% of what you think you need.

This works especially well when dealing with limited resources (e.g. budgets) and small bags. Good luck!
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