I know it, you I know it. Everyone has already seen this symbol. You might not know its name for sure, but it is everywhere. On that hippie t-shirt your weird tree-hugger cousin wears, tattooed on a yoga practicing friend´s arm or hanging from the neck of some esoteric old aunt.

We see it so much we don´t even notice it anymore. So take a good look at it now.

It is divided in two halves, can you see? Two equal parts, two different colours and, on each one of the two halves, a dot of the opposite colour. Balance, harmony, easy to grasp, right? But if that was all about it, wouldn´t the two accurately equal halves be enough?

Everything, absolutely everything in the world as we know it, is duality. Everything exists as a counterpart for something else, whatever it is. So simple I don´t have to exemplify. I´m sure you thought about night and day, winter and summer, courage and fear, and so on. Opposites? Look again.

In the middle of winter, there´s something buried deep in the frozen earth, which is not yet green, not yet plant. But it is promise. If you lived where it snows and dug a hole, you´d see it. There´s summer in the middle of winter.

At five in the morning it´s pitch black night. At five thirty east turns into a bluish radiance, not yet sun but already light. If you woke up so early, you´d see it. There´s day in the middle of the night.

I am not, you are not, nobody is simply one and only thing. We are duality, parts, pieces and still whole. It is this completeness that allows us to be full of self confidence in the morning and cry our eyes out by nightfall, be faithful and optimistic at breakfast time and want to throw ourselves from a bridge by noon, wake up brave and strong and beg for help as soon as it gets dark.
Shadow and light, shadow and light and never one thing or the other.

So observe the symbol once again. Yes, that one you saw a hundred times before. Think of it as if it were you. See how you are?

You, me, all of us, are wholeness. So cry when you feel like it not forgetting you´re strong. Laugh but remember you can be sadness. Be afraid whenever it´s needed but keep in mind you´re the one who said it, made it, did it. Fight if you have to but don´t forget you’re sweet.

By the way, the symbol is known as YinYang. It is the perfect translation of the Tao, the dynamic and dual energy that Is - and pervades - Everything.


I follow

Once there were clothes hanging in a shared closet, witnesses to a sense of permanence, observers of the solidity of dreams woven together by two fellow needles.

Once there were books lying on a shared shelf, photographs kept in a shared drawer, songs that contained a meaning only to those who have listened to them together. With togetherness.
Once there was a silence which didn´t need statements as it could grasp understanding out of thin air.

Once there were hopeful eyes that could gaze into an unknown future and yet be bright with the colours of a yet to come tranquility of lives fixed with the glue of affection. Lives of shared closets, shelves, drawers, books, songs, hidden meaning words, secret meaning gestures and furtive dialect understood only by those two shared souls who created it.

Once there was.

Today a cold wind blows and embraces me and urges me. And demands that I go as there must be a place where I fit. Where life isn´t shared but where wholeness is. Undivided, intact, all I can do is but follow.



Sammasati. This is supposed to be the last word spoken by Buddha. Osho says that all knowledge that matters, all that´s truly important, is enclosed in this single word. One sound, one unadorned meaning: remember.

Sammasati. Remember who you are. Not body, not mind, least of all that nasty presence that detaches us from our true core, the ego.

Sammasati. There´s nothing to become. We already are. All we have searched for, our interminable pursuit, walking different paths, living other lives, has always been there.

Remember. Buddha is a title. It means the Enlighted One. Osho says we´re buddhas in our true nature but there´s one thing we keep forgetting: to look inside. To dive deep, not afraid, not hesitant, to go into the profoundness of ourselves and see.

The journey is not a long one. Just close your eyes and relax. You´ll be on your own but there´s nothing to fear. In this shrine of you is where light duels. And there, into light, into truth, you´ll find... you.

Sammasati. Close your eyes and be a witness. Sit there in the quietness of this sacred place in you where stillness speaks. Yield, give in. Enjoy the vital understanding of not being body, not being mind, your ego humbly silent as you dissolve into essence.

Remember. In this mindless space, no longer yourself, you merge with the Flow, one with the stream of life, one with the vastness of the Universe.

This is where you´ll find something I have from time to time acknowledged and recognized in a glimpse, but couldn´t name.

This is Freedom.


The Way of Santiago

Once I met Paulo Coelho. Yes, I do mean the world famous author of The Alchemist and many other best-sellers. It was 1989, he wasn´t the outstanding writer translated into 67 languages, I was a girl and not a woman about to reach a turning point in my life.

He was in my city visiting bookshops and promoting his work. When I handed him my copy of The Pilgrimage, his book about the legendary medieval Way of Saint James – or El Camino de Santiago – he was very surprised to see I owned a first edition copy. He told me he used to count how many books he´d sold at that time. I told him I´d love to make that pilgrimage but didn´t have the money or the guts to do it. So, before signing my book, he wrote me something that spoke deeply to my heart: Ana Paula, don´t you ever forget the Way of Santiago is also inside us.

Today, going through some old texts I´ve written, I found something about this craving I have to simply hit the road and drive. No thinking, no planning, no route, no return date. It was written 7 years ago when I was stuck at a dead end job and quite broke which probably made the longing worst. I could only dream about an adventure of the sort. I couldn’t afford it in many ways. All I wish I had were one month and something like five thousand dollars.

But to hit the road and disappear? Mind you this can also be called escaping or running away. Your problems will follow right behind you, tracking you down. This is what the character in my book is doing. Perhaps that´s why it´s been on my mind lately.

But to go on a journey - that doesn´t necessarily have to be spiritual or least the Way of Santiago – is to go in search of. Answers, questions, adventure or purely chance in a broader sense.

So today to my amazement I realize I don´t want to hit the road anymore. I want to go on a Way. And on the Way there´ll be questions, answers, crossroads and detours, rivers to cross, rocks blocking my path. There´s only this one thing I can be certain of: somebody will be waiting for me in the end. That would be myself.

I´m not stuck at anything. I´m not broke. Quite contrary, I´ve got loads of time and yes, I can afford it. So perhaps it´s time I do it. It doesn´t matter if I drive north or south. I know what I´m seeking, I know what I´ll hit upon, I know what I´ll get back. The time has come. Forty is a good age to discover who you really are and most important of all, who you can become.

I wish I could tell Paulo Coelho - wasn´t he such a celebrity now - that 20 years after he wrote me a few lines I´ll never forget, that I´m finally ready to reach Compostela. I´m sure he´d be very proud of me.

A writing life

My writing life began in my childhood room, in my parents’ house. It was roomy and airy, I could see palm trees from the large window and hear the wind that caressed their long shaped leaves, I could smell the earth in the garden when it rained. The desk where I sat to study and read was gorgeously carved and made of solid, velvety wood. I felt safe and at ease every time I put pen to paper. From there I wrote journals, poems, letters, stories my teenage mind made up.

That´s probably why I find writing so comfortable. It feels as cozy as coming home. All the way through my life I have written for several reasons. To keep sane, to go crazy, to unwind, to slow down, to speed up. I never really stopped to consider why I wrote but one day, not long ago, after the internet and weblogs, I realized I was writing to impress. I stopped.

For a good part of two years notebooks were kept in drawers and ideas kept away. Motivation vanished when I understood I was writing for the wrong reasons and that´s why my texts felt so unfamiliar to me. Instead of soothing, writing began to feel straining.

But once you´re a writer – and I believe we´re writers when we write, not when we get published or acknowledged – the addiction will eventually catch you off guard and you´ll find yourself staring at a blank page craving to toy with words again.

So here I am. I´m writing. But I can´t help asking myself why.

Some people are born to do something. My younger brother for example, was born to be a jet pilot. My husband is a natural web developer. My older brother is an expert in finances. They skillfully do what they do in such an inherent way you can´t imagine them doing anything else.

What was I born to do? What felt stimulating and yet comfortable enough to make me leap out of bed every morning and do it with passion?

Writing. The answer came to me in a vigorous insight the day I realized why I wanted to do it. I want to touch people with words. To keep them sane, to help them go crazy, to let them unwind, to slow them down, to speed them up.

I´m a writer. I´m home.


She was in her early 20´s when they met. Together they felt adventurous and free. He took her on long outdoor walks and taught her how to plunge into cold waterfalls. She taught him about commitment. They got married. One day something changed. She still can´t quite explain what it was. But the joy wasn´t there anymore. Instead there was jealousy and control. She left.

He was her second husband. It fascinated her that they were from such different cultures and backgrounds but still had so much in common: a love for art, books, history. They travelled a lot together. One day he betrayed her. Or at least she took it that way. He should have standed by her side. But he didn´t want to take sides. She felt out of love instantly, as she couldn´t love someone she didn´t respect anymore.

F. was 10 years younger than her. He seemed mature enough for 24. He looked sensitive, loving, almost fragile. She was happy she could finally be nice to someone. When she dug deeper she found a soul made of selfishness and full of boundaries. From him she learnt what it was to be in a relationship - by herself.

E. was gorgeous and seemed to be a rare combination of looks, wit and intelligence. It´s true that in the beginning she wasn´t really interested. But it flattered her that he could be interested despite the fact that he had this beautiful girlfriend. He wrote to her. Poems, messages, long fluid texts about life being meaningless without Love. Yes, Love with capital letters. Shame he knew so little about it. When she finally fell in love he fell silent.

She met V. on the internet. He used to read her friend´s blog. One day he read hers. It happened to be a text she wrote to someone she knew was coming. She didn´t know who or when but the way she wrote it felt like a prayer. Or a spell. He fell in love with her words. Then they fell in love with each other.

There was something that scared her deeply. She wouldn´t dare to think about it as the very idea of it hurt too much. Her father was her rock, her fortress and the person she loved most in the entire world. She liked to pretend he was immortal. Only he wasn´t. She knew - and still believes - life will never be the same without him.

It was a Saturday night. Her husband was travelling on business. She was alone in bed reading a book when she touched her breast and found a lump. At first she didn´t want to believe it and she hoped it wouldn´t be there in the morning when she woke up. But it only disappeared when they removed it in surgery. Today she´s used to the word cancer. Especially because she overcame it.

They have so much in common, these women. They lived large and weren´t afraid to learn. About love and surrender, pain and regret, hurt and forgiveness, loss and rebirth. And above all, about fortitude and faith.

They have so much in common, these women. The even share the same name. I´m proud of them, actually. They are all me.

I´m Ana. Glad to meet you.


As I walked into the shower and the water started pouring on me I realised that was the day I was really going to loose my hair. Handfuls of it were lying on the bathroom floor. There was no postponing it.

I came out of the shower and shaved my head. Not a drop fell from my eyes. But I cried when I was done. Not because of the hair itself, as it would grow back, but because it felt like a strong rite of passage.

In the mirror, looking back at me, I saw a woman with no unnecessary adornments. To my surprise, I thought her beautiful. And it was then that I realised I was not hair, not appearance, but essence. And those who loved me would go on loving me for what I am. They could see beyond the looks.

It was so liberating.