Trip to Valencia in times of COVID

Despite the fact that the world has stopped lately due to the coronavirus pandemic, I still decided to go on a short trip to Valencia and get some ‘fresh air’, as I was desperate to get out of the island. Here’s a 3-day itinerary you can follow if you ever visit this beautiful city!

Trip valencia

Facts about the city:

While Valencia’s official language is Spanish, they have their own language called Valencian, which is a dialect of Catalan. Another insteresting fact, the Túria park in Valencia was once a river which flooded the whole city in the ’50s.



3 Days in Valencia

Trip to Valencia – Day 1

Our brazilian friends, Sérgio and Marina, found some very cheap Ryanair flights (5 euros each way!) to Valencia, Spain. Despite the fact that no one is travelling for leisure nowadays, because the situation with COVID-19 is getting out of control everywhere, we still decided to go.

The truth is that we were all craving to get some ‘fresh air’ and see someplace new and this trip to Valencia seemed like the perfect getaway. Malta can seem quite small an suffocating when you’re forced to stay in the island! Alejandro had visited Valencia before, but for the rest of us, it was the first time.

We booked three nights at Hotel Conqueridor, located in the heart of the city. The hotel was decent, but we were expecting a bit more for a four star hotel, to be honest.

We went to the hotel to leave our backpacks there, and then went for a walk in the city centre. One of the first attractions we saw was Mercado Central. This is one of the oldest public markets in Europe still in operation The Mercado Central is also one of the largest in Europe, with a predominantly Valencian Art Nouveau style.

This is where you can find the flavors and colors of the city, a true temple of gastronomy: with seasonal fruits and vegetables, an abundance of fresh fish, Iberian pork stalls, huge varieties of ham and cheese, bread makers, olive producers, wine traders, and even a section dedicated to saffron (a spice used in the preparation of Valencian paella and Fideuà)!

We found a stall inside the market where they were selling Venezuelan and Brazilian food. Sérgio was delighted to finally find farofa, and Alejandro was also happy to buy some venezuelan arequipe.

Also, right outside the Market, we found another place where you could buy all types of food from Latin America. We bought some empanadas, tequeños and coxinha, and they were delicious!

Right across the market, we saw another landmark – Llotja de la Seda. Built between 1482 and 1533, it was originally used for trading in silk, and it has always been a centre for commerce. It is a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture. 

We continued walking and got to the Ayuntamiento – the City Hall. We only viewed from the outside but the façade of The Town Hall is very impressive. It is situated in a lovely square with a nice dancing fountain which is lit up in the evenings.

On our way to the Cathedral, we stopped to buy some horchata. This is a sweet drink made of grains, ground nuts, and spices, typical from Valencia. You can find it everywhere around the city!

After drinking our horchata, we reached Plaza de la Virgen. The Plaza de la Virgen is one of the most beautiful squares in Valencia and is located behind the Cathedral. Beside it is the Basilica de la Virgen de los Desamparados, from where it gets its name.

We only saw the Catedral de Valencia from the outside. Some people claim the holy grail is inside! The very impressive octagonal bell-tower, El Micalet, is the landmark of Valencia.

The last landmark we visited on the first day was the Torres de Serranos. These towers are considered to be the largest Gothic city gateway in all of Europe, and were constructed at the end of the 14th century as part of the city’s fortification, provisionaly housing prison cells.

Before heading back to the hotel, we stopped at a tapas bar called Barecito to eat something and drink some wine and beers before we passed out. We were super tired because we had to be up at 5am to catch our flight, and without realizing, we had walked non-stop for like 10h around the city! The service was amazing and the tapas (nachos with an amazing guacamole sauce and friend calamares) were great. I totally recommend it!


Trip to Valencia – Day 2

On our second day in Valencia we took a bus to visit the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (City of Arts and Sciences). This place is just incredibly beautiful! This cultural and architectural complex houses several buildings and structures.

One of them is the L’Oceanogràfic, which is the largest aquarium in Europe. This aquarium is a home to over 500 different species. We were tempted to go inside, but the admission tickets are quite expensive! Since Alejandro and I already been to the largest aquarium in the world in Atlanta, we were not that excited about this one. However, I’m sure the Oceanogràfic is worth the visit!

There is also the Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe (Felipe Science Museum), which is an interactive museum of science that resembles the skeleton of a whale, and the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, which is an opera house and performing arts center.

Then there’s the L’Hemisfèric, which houses an IMAX Cinema, planetarium and laserium. The building is meant to resemble a giant eye. The surrounding water pool’s bottom is glass, creating the illusion of the eye as a whole. This was the first building being completed, back in 1998. You can rent little boats and go into the water pool.

The last structure I would like to highlight is L’Umbracle. This is an open structure enveloping a landscaped walk with plant species indigenous to Valencia. This structure, built over a car park, was designed as an entrance to the City of Arts and Sciences. 

After exploring the City of Arts and Sciences, we stopped at a restaurant called La Mar to have lunch. The guys ate lobster paella, and I ate pulpo a la plancha. My octopus was amazing, but they regreted having ordered lobster, because it’s super messy to eat – and not much meat inside!

After lunch, we took a long walk along the Turia Park, which is located right next to the City of Arts and Sciences. This place was the former riverbed of the river Turia, which was drained and rerouted after a catastrophic flood in 1957. The old riverbed was then turned into this picturesque sunken park!

This is the largest purely urban garden of Spain. It runs through the city along 9 km of green space boasting foot paths, leisure and sports areas, and romantic spots. This is the perfect place for runners, cyclists, families and nature enthusiasts. Crossed by 18 bridges full of history, the former riverbed passes by the city’s main museums and monuments on either bank.

After a long walk across the park, we went back to the city center and stopped at a Brazilian place to buy some pão de queijo. We passed in front of nice buildings, like the Plaza de Toros, and did some shopping (Primark, yey!).

We ended the day next to the Central Market again, and sat down for some tapas and Agua de Valencia at a place called Boatella Tapas. Even though this drink has ‘water’ in its name, it is a famous alcoholic drink in Valencia: a mix of cava, orange juice, vodka and gin. After our drinks, we headed back to the hotel.


Trip to Valencia – Day 3

On our last day in Valencia, we took a taxi and went to the Albufera area. This area is where you can eat the most authentic Valencian paella. We had lunch at a restaurant called Bon Aire. I totally recommend it, the paellas were amazing!

After lunch, we did a boat trip in Albufera, around the lake. This is a vast expanse of water with various migratory and resident birds. The natural biodiversity of the nature reserve allows a great variety of flora and fauna to thrive and be observed year-round. Very beautiful and peaceful!

On our way back to the city centre, we’ve decided to stop at a random beach – Playa Autocine, since we wouldn’t have time to see the main beach of Valencia – Playa de la Malvarrosa – in daylight, because we were quite far. Even though this was a ‘random’ beach, we loved being there for a bit, feel the sea breeze in our faces and the sand in our toes!

This stop marked the end of our trip in Valencia. Thankfully, everything went well and none of us felt any virus symptoms. We had to wear the mask at all times, but it was definitely worth it. Valencia is a beautiful city, and I enjoyed every moment of this well-deserved break from reality!


Check other posts about my travel adventures in the Travel section of my blog

Raw Vegan Carrot Bites Recipe

These healthy carrot bites remind you of an indulgent slice of cake, but are actually good for you. They’re vegan, no-bake and seriously delicious!

I love making energy balls because they’re portable, they’re easy, they’re delicious and they’re actually healthy! Just look at these nutrition facts: around 100 calories, 2g of protein, 4g of sugar and 2g of fiber. That’s better than most granola bars!

In order to keep things as traditional as possible with the flavor combo, use pecans, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The coconut and oats are in this recipe mostly for texture, but they also add a little sweetness. The peanut butter and dates both help to bind everything together, but they’re also awesome for flavor – the dates add a natural sweetness to the balls.


Vegan Carrot Bites Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup dates
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut

Instructions

carrot bites

1. Add the carrots into a food processor and blend until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl.

2. Return the bowl of the food processor back onto the base and add the pecans and coconut. Pulse to form a sandy texture. Add the oats and dates and process again until a sand texture has formed. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until a dough comes together.

3. Shape the dough into tablespoon-sized balls. Repeat until all of the mixture has been used.

4. Place the shredded coocnut in a shallow dish and roll each ball in the coconut to coat it. Place balls in an airtight container and store in the fridge for 1 – 2 weeks.


If you’re not a big fan of carrots, you can find other types of no-bake vegan bites, like this one.

Check other posts about food and recipes in the Food & Recipes section of my blog

My Favorite TV Series of All Time

tv series
Here is a list of my favorite TV series of all time. They are not in order, but I really enjoyed them all and got serious withdrawal symptoms when some of them were finished. Enjoy!

Friends

tv series

This follows the personal and professional lives of six twenty to thirty-something-year-old friends living in Manhattan, sitting around complaining about their day jobs, their sex lives, their screwed-up families. It’s a formula countless sitcoms tried to get right over the years, but it took the Central Perk crew to get the right mix of personalities: Joey a struggling actor, Monica a chef, Rachel a waitress who hopes to work in fashion (and manages to do so), Ross a paleontologist, Chandler who hates his job in data processing, and Phoebe a masseuse/musician.

In my opinion, there never has been a sitcom funnier than Friends! The humor is universal. I feel like I’m part of the group every time I watch it because I feel the different emotions they go through. I just love it!


This is Us

tv series

This is a heartwarming and emotional story about a unique set of triplets, their struggles and their wonderful parents. In moments of love, joy, triumph and heartbreak, revelations emerge from parents Jack and Rebecca’s past, while triplets Kate, Randall and Kevin discover deeper meaning in their present day lives. Successful businessman and father Randall searches for information about his biological parents. Kate finds love and self-acceptance while battling obesity. Kevin pursues a more meaningful career, which brings some difficult choices.

The acting is excellent and the script is super well written. This TV series is real. So much so, that it brings tears to my eyes in every since episode. I have absolutely fallen in love with ‘This is Us’ and this is, on par with Friends, my favorite TV series of all times!


Gilmore Girls

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The sublime pleasure of Gilmore Girls lies in its witty, fast-paced dialogue and the heart-warming (occasionally fractious) mother-daughter relationship between Lorelei and Rory Gilmore. The cozy town of Stars Hollow is the setting for a tv series which delights in oddball characters and light dramatic tension, as Rory grows up and Lorelei starts to think about settling down.

This is an intelligent show with lots of references to literature, music, movies, and pop culture. There is something different about this series. The story is good and not boring, somewhat very memorable and it going to make you feel very cozy watching it!


Sex and the City

tv series

This shoe-porn Manhattan fantasy was ubiquitous, to the point where Jay Z could rap that Beyoncé wouldn’t talk to him when Sex and the City was on. Nothing could stop fans from feeling the Carrie fever, as she and her three best friends talk, shop, date and have sex in the late 90s, eventually realizing their only true soulmates are one another.

This series touches on some major issues of singles in the dating world while, at the same time, not having an overly dramatic or depressing tone. It’s fun and light hearted – it celebrates the shallowness in each one of us while also recognizing the basic faults that make us human!


Sons of Anarchy

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This series is about a biker who struggles to balance being a father and being involved in an outlaw motorcycle club in the small town of Charming. The SAMCRO club combines gun-running and a garage, plus involvement in porn film. Clay, the president, likes it old school and violent, while Jax Teller, his stepson and the club’s VP, has thoughts about changing the way things are, based on his dead father’s journal. Their conflict has effects on both the club and their personal relationships. Sons Of Anarchy sees crime, ambition and violence all bleeding together.

This is not just another tv series about a ruthless lawless biker gang, but about ruthless moral filled biker gangs who are well aware of the rights and wrongs of society and human nature. The story line has enough twists to keep you on the edge of your seats through out the episode. Loved it!


Black Mirror

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An anthology series exploring a twisted, high-tech multiverse where humanity’s greatest innovations and darkest instincts collide. This dark sci-fi anthology series taps into very human fears about our relationship with technology and the spiralling paths humanity could be heading down. Every episode set in a slightly different reality with different characters combating different types of technologies. Often set in worryingly plausible possible futures, the storytelling largely leans towards the bleak, shot through with a sardonic sense of humour.

Black Mirror is disturbing in the best possible way. Watching it shook me deeply. The thought provoking subject matter combined with powerful, desolate stories and excellent performances created one of the most unique and brilliant series that I have seen. Definitely worth seeing!


American Horror Story

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This is an anthology series centering on different characters and locations: a house haunted by murderous spirits, a Catholic insane asylum from the 1960s, a coven of witches, a freak show starring some truly twisted characters, a hotel filled with serial killers run by a vampire countess, an isolated haunted shack that may hold the secrets to the disappearance of the Roanoke colony, a cult on the rise after the 2016 Presidential election, an outpost that hides the few survivors of the Apocalypse and a summer camp targeted by a serial killer. Every new season comes all new, wholly American terrors in this interconnected modern horror anthology series.

I personally think its genius how they managed to make every season very different from the ones before but still managed to connect all of them. AHS is officially my most favorite horror/thriller/creepy tv series of all time!


Mad Men

tv series

This is a drama about one of New York’s most prestigious ad agencies at the beginning of the 1960s, focusing on one of the firm’s most mysterious but extremely talented ad executives, Donald Draper. The American dream and how to sell it – except for Don and the hustlers of Sterling Cooper, selling is the American dream. Mad Men became a sensation as soon as it appeared, partly because of its glam surface – a New York ad agency in the JFK era, all sex and money and liquor and cigarettes. Don, is a genius at shaping other people’s dreams and fantasies, but he can’t escape his own loneliness.

Apart from the spectacular 60’s decors and the non predictable story lines, the topics and the characters development is showed in such a refined way, that I couldn’t stop watching it. It is done so sophisticatedly, that the whole tv series has become one big pyschlogy lesson for me!


The Sopranos

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This is a dark, offbeat drama about a New Jersey mob boss, Tony Soprano, who deals with personal and professional issues in his home and business life that affect his mental state, leading him to secretly seek professional psychiatric counseling. He’s stressed: his teenage daughter is giving his wife fits; his mean-spirited mother refuses to move to a retirement community; his aging Uncle Junior, jealous of Tony’s rise to the top, won’t stay in line and engineers a plot to kill Tony; and the feds, armed with RICO, are circling. In therapy, Tony must come to terms with his father’s example, his mother’s manipulations, and his own fears of death and loss of family.

The Sopranos is arguably the greatest show in Dramatic Television history. Its hard to think of another series that boasts so much intelligence, sublime writing or first rate performances. A fusion of sharp, unpredictable writing and powerhouse acting makes this one of my favorites as well!


Game of Thrones

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The action takes place in the mythical continent of Westeros. From the scheming south and the savage eastern lands, to the frozen north and ancient Wall that protects the realm from the mysterious darkness beyond, the powerful families of the Seven Kingdoms are locked in a battle for the Iron Throne. This is a story of duplicity and treachery, nobility and honor, conquest and triumph. In the Game of Thrones, you either win or you die. It might grab attention with the nudity, the dragons and severed heads, but at heart it’s a political thriller.

Despite the fact that the finale was disliked by a lot of people, Game of Thrones is gripping, unpredictable, full of twists, with excellent writing, good use of VFX, good action, and good acting for sure. Really worth watching!


The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

tv series

This is a story about a streetwise, poor young man from Philadelphia is sent by his mother to live with his aunt, uncle and cousins in their Bel-Air mansion. The family is made up of Will’s strict and gruff Uncle Phil, his forthright and career-minded Aunt Vivian, his preppy and arrogant cousin, Carlton Banks, his attractive but dull-witted eldest cousin, Hilary Banks, his youngest cousin who often looks up to him, Ashley Banks, and the family’s cynical Butler, Geoffrey. Will’s working class background ends up clashing in various humorous ways with the upper class world of the Banks and frequently got him or other members of the family into trouble as well.

This 90’s series is as memorable as the intro rap song, from a time when it wasn’t afraid to be creative or witty. The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air is a series you’ll never get tired of. The attitudes of each character only builds up the humour. I cannot ever recall an episode in which I did not laugh!


Malcolm in the Middle

tv series

An offbeat sitcom about a bizarrely dysfunctional family, the center of which is Malcolm, the middle of the two brothers who still live at home. His eldest (and favorite) sibling, Francis, boards at military school because his parents believe it will reform him and keep him out of trouble. Malcolm often has a hard time coping with his family life, but he has more troubles to contend with when he starts receiving special treatment at school after being diagnosed as an intellectually advanced genius.

This has a wonderful ability to tell two or three stories simultaneously and interweave them very well. Plus the humor is unique enough that I honestly can’t say it was like any other show on television. Excellent writing, casting and enough bizarre plot twists to keep you interested!


Six Feet Under

A California family – Nathaniel Fisher, his wife Ruth, and their children David and Claire – run a small funeral business – which means that mortality and grief are never far from anyone’s mind. Prodigal son Nate Jr. arrives home for Christmas just as his father is killed by a bus, and has to stick around when he and David are willed the funeral service together. How does a family who helps others deal with grief deal with its own?

It is meticulous, beautiful, daunting, and powerful. The show displays confusion in the clearest way making it almost impossible not to some how relate to the characters in the tv series. The cast, the sharp writing and an amazing finale offers one of the most emotional wrap-ups in TV history!


Shameless US

Watch the Gallaghers dealing with their alcoholic father Frank. Fiona, the eldest daughter, takes the role of the parent to her five brothers and sisters. Lip, Ian, Debbie, Carl, and Liam deal with life on the South Side of Chicago. Fiona balances her sex life and raising her siblings. Every episode is another crazy situation that one or more of the Gallagher six get into. Watch them grow and learn how to make their way in life with what little they have.

The cast are excellent in their roles and the story which is far from the usual tame fodder of American drama is handled with honesty and realism. The tv series is dynamic and definitely worth the time!


Modern Family

Three different but related families face trials and tribulations in their own uniquely comedic ways. Parents Phil and Claire yearn for an honest, open relationship with their three kids, but a daughter who is trying to grow up too fast, another who is too smart for her own good, and a rambunctious young son make it challenging. Claire’s dad Jay and his Latina wife Gloria are raising two sons together, but people sometimes believe Jay to be Gloria’s father. Jay’s gay son Mitchell and his partner Cameron have adopted a little Asian girl, completing one big, multicultural, happy family.

I just want to say that I love this tv series! It is good family entertainment. It has humor, heart, great acting, great writing and likable characters. The jokes are sharp, believable and it’s also not too hyper like a lot of today’s sitcoms are.


Jane the Virgin

Jane is a religious young Latina who was a waitress in a hotel and then became a full time writer with a published novel. Her life takes a big turn for the unexpected when her doctor mistakenly artificially inseminates her during her checkup and she has a kid, Mateo. The biological father of the kid is Rafael Solano, with whom Jane falls in love. Throughtout the seasons, Jane finds herself in the middle of this love triangle, between Rafael and Michael Cordero, a detective. Through it all, she can always count on her mother, Xiomara, and her abuela, Alba, for the best advices. Her father is Rogelio de la Vega, a famous TV star, shows up in her life and ends up together with Xiomara.

It was the best Latin/American telanovela ever. The switching between English and Spanish dialog – muy bueno! The very witty writing about cultural mores, traditional and contemporary, is something very missing in today’s entertainment.


Sense8

A group of people around the world are suddenly mentally and emotionally connected, and must find a way to survive being hunted by those who see them as a threat to the world’s order. While trying to figure how and why this connection happened and what it means, a stranger called Whispers attempts to hunt them down, using the same sensate power to gain full access to a sensate’s mind (thoughts/sight) after looking into their eyes. Each episode reflects the views of the characters interacting with each other while delving deeper into their backgrounds and what sets them apart and brings them together with the others.

Well directed and written, gorgeously shot and edited. From the opening sequence, you know you’re about to watch something special. Shot in different countries around the world, this show brings it all, and it’s deep! It is impossible to watch it without deeply connecting with the 8 characters. 


The Big Bang Theory

This is a comedy about brilliant physicists, Leonard and Sheldon. Despite being super smart, they don’t know how to interact with people, especially women. All this begins to change when a free-spirited beauty named Penny moves in next door. Sheldon, Leonard’s roommate, is quite content spending his nights playing Klingon Boggle with their socially dysfunctional scientist friends, Wolowitz and Koothrappali. However, it all changes for Leonard when he falls in love with Penny.

This series has some of the most intellectually-stimulating and subtle humour since Seinfeld. Even though the last seasons showed signs of fatigue, the first four seasons are solid gold, funny and with good plotlines!


How I Met your Mother

This series weaved the story that Ted Mosby recounts to his children – through a series of flashbacks – the journey he and his four best friends took leading up to him meeting their mother. Along the way, he spends his time going down romantic cul-de-sacs, while best friends Lily and Marshall marry, pick-up artist Barney plots, and on-again-off-again tough nut Canadian Robin looks for her own path.

Leaving aside for a moment that devastatingly divisive (read: disappointing) ending, How I Met Your Mother updated the classic hang-out sitcom for a new generation, with amidst flashbacks, narrative trickery, unreliable narrators and quick cut-away jokes. It’s legendary!


Seinfeld

The show about nothing that blew up into the great American comedy. Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer: four pathetic friends who happen to be horrible people, living in New York. Even at the time, everybody could tell Seinfeld was the funniest sitcom they had ever witness. The premise of this sitcom is Jerry and his friends going through everyday life, discussing various quirky situations. The eccentric personalities of the offbeat characters contribute to the fun.

As a reflection of society, the image is not a pretty one, but it is a classic. The characters are fantastic, the actors performed so well that you can’t think of them like anything but the character they played, and the writers managed to make each episode funnier than the last one. To sum up, Seinfeld rules!


After Life

After Life follows Tony, a journalist whose life is turned upside down after his wife dies from breast cancer. He contemplates suicide, but instead decides to live long enough to punish the world for his wife’s death by saying and doing whatever he wants. Although he thinks of this as his “superpower”, his plan is undermined when everyone around him tries to make him a better person.

Poignant, funny, heart warming and beautifully acted. This tv series is challeging. It will make you almost cry while making you laugh. It’s genius and I recommend you watch it if you think you are depressed or you see no point in life. And I guess it’s greatest characteristic is that its honest!


Two and a Half Men

Charlie and Alan are brothers with little in common, except their dislike for their mother, Evelyn. Alan, a compulsively neat chiropractor and control-freak, is thrown out by his manipulative wife Judith. Charlie, a freelance jingle composer and irresistible Cassanova who lives in a luxurious beach-house, allows Alan and his son Jake to ”temporarily” move in with him. The sitcom revolves around their conflicting lifestyles, raising Jake, and bantering with Evelyn and various other friends and family.

I personally prefer the first 8 seasons, with Charlie Sheen as the main actor. Ever since they replaced him with Ashton Kutcher, I lost interest in the show. During those 8 seasons, I laughed a lot. The casting and acting was superb and the writing creative and hilarious!


Breaking Bad

Bryan Cranston played Walter White, a bitter high school chemistry teacher, who gets terminal lung cancer and decides to provide for his kids by turning into New Mexico’s premier crystal-meth chef. Unfortunately for his family, his victims and practically everyone he meets, he loves his new secret life as the killer drug lord Heisenberg. “I am not in danger, Skyler,” he tells his wife. “I am the danger!”

Walter is so frightening because he’s so ordinary – an American loser who gets a chance to act on his most criminal fantasies. It shows the grim side of the American dream. That’s what makes this tv series as addictive as the Blue Sky that he cooks. I cannot stress enough how good this show is!


Orange is the New Black

Convicted of a decade old crime of transporting drug money to an ex-girlfriend, normally law-abiding Piper Chapman is sentenced to a year and a half behind bars to face the reality of how life-changing prison can really be. Chapman makes her way through the corrections system and adjusts to life behind bars, making friends with the many eccentric, unusual and unexpected people she meets.

The first couple of seasons were the best. It displayed the true to life stereotyping and racial tensions present in any prison in interesting but constructive ways. The characters were well developed and if not always likable, you understood better where they were coming from.


Cobra Kai

Decades after the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament in ‘Karate Kid’, a middle-aged Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence find themselves martial-arts rivals again. Johnny Lawrence is at rock-bottom as an unemployed handyman haunted by his wasted life. However, when Johnny rescues a bullied kid, Miguel, from bullies, he is inspired to restart the notorious Cobra Kai dojo. Daniel LaRousso is now a successful businessman who may be happily married, but is missing an essential balance in life since the death of his mentor, Mr. Miyagi. Johnny’s estranged miscreant son, Robby, finds himself inadvertently coming under Daniel’s wing and flourishes in ways worthy of Mr. Miyagi.

This is an amazing tv series! It’s not corny or stupid. In fact, it’s the perfect match up of seriousness with a few goofs or references from the 80’s thrown in here and there. This revival could have been a disaster but it looks like they got the perfect combo of writers, directors and actors!


Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

The Teenage Witch as a dark coming-of-age story that traffics in horror, the occult and, of course, witchcraft. Tonally in the vein of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, this adaptation finds Sabrina Spellman wrestling to reconcile her dual nature – half-witch, half-mortal – while standing against the evil forces that threaten her, her family and the daylight world humans inhabit. As her 16th birthday nears, Sabrina must choose between the witch world of her family and the human world of her friends.

I love that they took the original idea and made it modern and dark but the situations don’t really end up keeping my attention. I live Sabrina’s character but I don’t feel very connected to any of the others. I still recommend you watch it, even though it is not amazing!


Californication

Hank Moody – a self loathing, narcissistic author struggles to overcome writer’s block while balancing his occasional drug use, alcoholism, and borderline sex addiction all the while trying to get back together with his girlfriend and raise his teenage daughter.

The name tells you this is going to be about sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll, and it is. The dialog pacing is flawless and the humor timing is spot on. The relationships in the story line are valid and authentic. This has to be one of the best written shows in years!


Freaks and Geeks

A tv series that truly captured the agonies of American adolescence in the 80’s. It tragically lasted only one season, but all 18 episodes hit home, with a rock soundtrack and a cast of future legends. The freaks (“lead” by Daniel Desario), add a new member to there group, Lindsey Weir (a once mathlete) who just wants to fit in. The geeks Bill, Neal, and Sam have a mission of making it through their freshman year of high school. These are kids who don’t fit in, craving a place they might belong.

It’s a shame this show didn’t survive! In my opinion, it counts with terrific acting, excellent music, good clothes, and great storylines. It’s a very honest and low key tv series with a slow narrative but the stories and characters really grab you by the heart. To put it simply, the show is brilliant!


The Handmaid’s Tales

The Handmaid’s Tale is the story of life in the dystopia of Gilead, a totalitarian society in what was the United States. Gilead is ruled by a fundamentalist regime that treats women as property of the state, and is faced with environmental disasters and a plummeting birth rate. In a desperate attempt to repopulate a devastated world, the few remaining fertile women are forced into sexual servitude. One of these women, Offred, is determined to survive the terrifying world she lives in, and find the daughter that was taken from her.

Even with the gloomy, dystopian outlook, there is plenty to recommend it: the amazing acting performances, the sets, the direction, the camera work, the intensity, and the fact that the show marks a stellar example of how to take a novel’s key concept and run with it!


New Girl

Jess, a bubbly, off-beat teacher, who is known to burst into song, catches her boyfriend with another woman. Newly homeless, she moves into a loft with three single guys she’s never met before. Nick, a jaded, law-school dropout isn’t the best of company. Schmidt is a flashy, eccentric businessman who believes he is Yahweh’s gift to women. Winston is a former athlete who doesn’t know what to do, but really needs a win. Can this dysfunctional group handle the adorkable new girl?

This tv series has some of the most loveable/hilarious characters. It genuinely puts a smile on my face without cheap tricks, fake laughter, or annoying punchline tunes trying to convince me what just happened was funny!


The Simpsons

How has America’s favorite cartoon family lasted this long? Because they’re also America’s realest family. Especially Homer, the doofus dad everybody fears turning into, nature’s cruelest mistake: And to think I turned to a cult for mindless happiness, when I had beer all along!” Or maybe especially Lisa, the sax-tooting voice of wisdom. Not to mention Apu, Krusty, Flanders, Monty Burns, Amanda Hugginkiss or any of the other unforgettable kooks who make Springfield just like your town, except funnier!

After 30+ seasons, the continuing misadventures of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and the multitudes surrounding them still find plenty of scope for laughs, commentary and pop culture nonsense. It’s already in the telly hall of fame, and continues to bring out great episodes!


Narcos

This Netflix’s historical crime drama focuses on the exploits of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, as well as the other drug kingpins who plagued the country through the years. Pablo Escobar was the primary target for DEA agents and the government. Despite of his crime, he loved his family and his associates. He obtained a lot of money but couldn’t change his fate.

Narcos has a lot to recommend it – not least, it’s able to show more sides of Escobar’s story than most of the movies that have been made about him. The story is gripping, and while it naturally has to invent some events, it feels largely authentic.


Casa de Papel

Set in Madrid, a mysterious man known as “The Professor” recruits a group of eight people, who choose cities for code-names, to carry out an ambitious plan that involves entering the Royal Mint of Spain, and escaping with €2.4 billion. This unusual group of robbers take hostages and lock themselves in the building, as the criminal mastermind manipulates the police to carry out his plan.

They started with a good idea, intriguing characters and an elaborate plot. By the end of season 2 it became apparent they could not drag this anymore. The first two seasons were great, but in my opinion it started going downhill from there. However, I still enjoyed this show a lot!


2 Broke Girls

Sassy, streetwise Max works two jobs just to get by, one of which is waiting tables during the night shift at the retro-hip Williamsburg Diner. Sophisticated Caroline is an uptown trust fund princess who’s having a run of bad luck that forces her to reluctantly give waitressing a shot. At first, Max sees Caroline as yet another in a long line of inept servers she must cover for, but she’s surprised to find that Caroline has as much substance as she does style. When Caroline discovers Max’s knack for baking amazing cupcakes, she sees a lucrative future for them, but they first need to raise the start-up money.

I find the show easy to watch, the story lines are not complicated and the humour is not too clever for its own good, if you want a show that’s easy to get into, you can have on in the background with a few laughs guaranteed, give it a go.


One Tree Hill

In Tree Hill, the greatest source of pride is the high school basketball team, the Ravens. Its greatest talent ever was Dan Scott, and the present talents are his two sons, Nathan Scott, a beautiful and popular athlete, and Lucas, who was abandoned at birth. When an incident forces the coach to replace players, Lucas soon proves the revelation, and after a while gets accepted and develops a dynamic, in the long run good relationship with his brother, who turns on his dad. Of course the teenage boys have friends, and especially a confusing series of usually short-loved ‘eternal’ love affairs with musical talents Peyton and Haley, also a tutor, and irresistible man-eater Brooke.

I was a teenager when I watched this show, and it really appeals to this audience. The show deals with a lot of sensitive issues that teenagers face such as: sex, drugs,marriage, adoption, affairs, conflicts etc. The actors do an excellent job in getting the emotions across!


Awkward.

The show centers around fifteen-year-old Jenna Hamilton, who, like many, feels invisible to her peers and desperately wants to find her place. Unfortunately, Jenna’s visibility comes on the heels of an accident that gives her a not-so-fun stigma – because people thought it was a suicide attempt. And while the stigma of her accident could be the curse of her life, Jenna’s determined to make it her life’s blessing. Matty is everything she has ever dreamed of in a boyfriend, there’s just one thing: he won’t take her out in public. Jenna is just trying to survive high school!

This is not the typical, American teenagers lives are perfect show. It shows how life can be brutal for kids in school. Everybody can relate to something in there one way or another. It also addresses some serious issues like weight and depression. It’s just a funny and honest show!


Stranger Things

After the mysterious and sudden vanishing of a young boy, the people of a small town begin to uncover secrets of a government lab, portals to another world and sinister monsters. The boy’s mother desperately tries to find him, convinced he is in grave danger, while the police chief searches for answers. Trying to help find him, the boy’s friends discover a strange little girl, who is on the run from “bad men”.

Stranger Things channels the 80’s era perfectly, mixing up a horror and sci-fi blend that hits you right in the Spielberg and Stephen King sweet-spot. It’s one of the most thrilling and intense series to be on TV, it will hook you immediately!


Unorthodox

This tv series tells the story of a young ultra-Orthodox Jewish woman brought up in an ultra-Orthodox community in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg district who flees her arranged marriage and religious community to start a new life abroad in Berlin, leaving behind an arranged marriage and tight-knit faith community in part to pursue her goal discovering her path.

Beautifully told story. Wonderfully acted. Etsy’s journey was relatable not because she was Jewish but because she was a young woman on a journey to womanhood and independence. The languages spoken may be foreign to some, but the happenings within the story line are universally understood!


If you’re more of a reader, here is the post I wrote on my favorite books of all time.

And tell me which TV series I’m missing below in the comments!


Check other posts about other subjects that don’t fit under one of the main categories in the Others section of my blog

My Favorite Books of All Time

favorite books
Reading has always been one of my favorite hobbies. Getting lost in a good book is one of my favorite ways to escape reality. Here is a list of my favorite books of all time, both from foreign and Portuguese authors!

List of My Favorite Books

I’ve been reading all my life, especially this year, since we spend more time at home due to the pandemic of COVID-19. I barely read any fictional books. What I really like are books about self-development and spirituality. Here’s a list with some of my favorite books of all times!

The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

favorite books

This book was written by the Brazilian author Paulo Coelho back in 1988. It is an international bestseller and has been translated to more than 70 languages. The theme is about finding one’s destiny or purpose in life.

This enchanting novel, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and soul-stirring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried near the Pyramids.

Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles in his path. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.

‘The Alchemist’ is a fantastic book and the storytelling is beautiful. The choice of words are impeccable, full of wisdom and philosophy. It became my favorite book of all times ever since! The book shows that the journey to your destiny is as important as the destiny itself. I love how the book emphasizes on the importance of faith, hope and spirituality through the story of an ordinary boy!


The Monk who Sold His Ferrari – Robin Sharma

‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’ is a self-help classic telling the story of fictional lawyer Julian Mantle, who sold his mansion and Ferrari to study the seven virtues of the Sages of Sivana in the Himalayan mountains. It turns out, he didn’t need his Ferrari. He needed wisdom, after collapsing from all the stress!

Robin Sharma published this book in 1997, and this message was passed on to over 6 million people around the world! This book is timeless. It’s a really inspiring story and I think whatever it will be, you’ll find out something interesting about yourself from it!

These are the main 3 lessons I’ve learned from this book from the virtues:

  1. Use The Heart of the Rose exercise to guard your mind against unwanted thoughts: for most of us, our mind looks like a dumpster, not a garden. It’s littered with mental clutter, unnecessary information, ungrounded worries and anxious thoughts. Therefore, the first of the seven virtues of the Sivana system is to control your mind. To practice this exercise you need an actual rose and a quiet space to yourself. Then, you simply stare at the center of the rose and try to fill your mind with thoughts about how beautiful it is. Think of it as a form of basic meditation.
  1. Develop a simple 10-step morning routine with The Ten Rituals of Radiant Living:
The Ritual of Early Awakening

Six hours of sleep and seeing the sunrise. Of course, you have to figure out how much you need yourself, but this is what they suggest.

The Ritual of Solitude

Always make a few minutes to practice silence after waking up.

The Ritual of Physicality

Move, get up, do some exercise. Whatever gets the blood flowing.

The Ritual of Live Nourishment

A vegetarian diet based on fresh food is what the sages follow.

The Ritual of Abundant Knowledge

Keep your mind stimulated with a bit of reading or studying.

The Ritual of Personal Reflection

Did you do your best today? What could you have done better?

The Ritual of Music

Listen to music often to never get stuck in a bad mood.

The Ritual of Spoken Word

Write down a short mantra you can repeat to yourself throughout the day.

The Ritual of Congruent Character

Always follow your principles. Write them down, be aware of them and stick to them.

The Ritual of Simplicity

Ruthlessly live your priorities and remove everything else that’s unnecessary.

  1. Selflessly serving others counterintuitively leaves you better off too: whenever you help someone else, some of the benefits will come back right to you. You rarely know when and how, but karma always comes around. This doesn’t mean you have to join the salvation army, small, simple acts of kindness and compassion go a long way. Every morning, take a few seconds to think about what good you can do today.

Eat Pray Love – Elizabeth Gilbert

favorite books

How liberating it would be to just cast off the reins of your current life and go on a year-long trip to three far flung countries of the world? Elizabeth Gilbert does that in ‘Eat Pray Love’, by embarking on her journey with specific purposes – one country for pleasure of the senses, another for spiritual enlightenment and the third to restore balance in her life. The resultant travelogue is a warm and lively read.

The book begins with Elizabeth lying on the bathroom floor of her house in New York and crying for the 47th consecutive night. She feels the overwhelming need to be free – from her marriage, without fuss. After an ugly divorce and a doomed love affair on the rebound, Elizabeth is a wreck; and completely broke. Leaving New York behind, she sets forth on a trip to Italy, India and Indonesia.

The section on Italy is mouthwatering – savoring a simple Italian meal with wine and tiramisu for dessert on her first day in Rome, roaming around the streets with frequent cappuccino and gelato refreshment breaks, and joining an Italian language class for no practical reason but simply to roll the sounds over her tongue and revel in the texture of the mellifluous language. Leaving Italy, plumper and happier, she is all ready for her four months of meditation in India.

These four months are spent in a Guru’s ashram near Mumbai. Having grown up in a non-religious family, she approaches the road to spiritual enlightenment with a fair degree of skepticism. Now at the ashram, she is keen to practise yoga and find God. By seeking what she had come for, Elizabeth moves on, calm and grateful, to the final destination of her journey.

Finally, in Bali, Elizabeth interacts with a few local Balinese and her impetuous involvement in their personal lives is quirky and amusing. The book then meanders into Elizabeth’s romantic dalliancewith a Brazilian and ends with her finding true love.


The Four Agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz

favorite books

The Four Agreements draws on the long tradition of the Toltecs, an ancient, indigenous people of Mexico, to show you that we have been domesticated from childhood, how these internal, guiding rules hurt us and what we can do to break and replace them with a new set of agreements with ourselves.

Mexican surgeon and author Don Miguel Ruiz, who turned from science to spirituality after a near-fatal car accident, shares the wisdom of the Toltecs in this book published in 1997, that spent eight years on the New York Times bestseller list, selling over six million copies.

These are four guiding principles to live by:

1. Be impeccable with your word

2. Don’t take anything personally

3. Don’t make assumptions

4. Always do your best

I liked The Four Agreements because it draws on a stack of knowledge we don’t bump into too often. These principles aren’t revolutionary, but solid ground to build on! I want to share with you why we need them, which one I think is most important, and how you can work on embedding them into your life. Here are my three favorite lessons from the book:

  1. We’re domesticated from a young age and it leaves us living by a set of rules we haven’t chosen ourselves: parents, peers, teachers, religion, all these influences instill a set of rules in us. As children, we have no power over them. We’re rewarded when we do good and punished when we step out of line. Compound this for almost two decades and eventually, we’re so domesticated we continue to do it ourselves without questioning it
  2. What people say and do to you is a reflection on them, not you. Know who you are and you won’t take things personally: when someone calls you ugly, it says a whole lot more about them and their problems than about you. Whatever issues they’re dealing with has led them to take their frustration out on you
  3. There are three ways to break your old agreements and live with new ones you choose yourself: start noticing the beliefs you have which are based on fear and make you unhappy and pick them apart; learn to forgive the people who hurt you, most of all yourself; and remember that each day could be your last to stay in the present because the initiation of the dead brings clarity about how you want to live.

Conversations with God Volume I – Neale Donald Walsch

favorite books

‘Conversations with God’ is a book trilogy in which the author transcripts the dialog he had with God (the meaning of God is discussed in the book) through the process of automatic writing or channeling. You DON’T need to be a religious person to enjoy this book – in fact, I am not.

With over 7 million copies sold worldwide, this extraordinary dialog was a huge hit in the New Age bookstores due to its groundbreaking and hopeful testimonial on spirituality. Accused of blasphemy and wanting to reinvent Christianism, Neale Donald Walsch didn’t make everyone happy when publishing his books. He was just laying down questions in his notepad and would get answers filled with wisdom directly through his writing.

Highly criticized, the author’s statements put the human experience and free will at the heart of the spiritual experience on earth. He also suggests a new definition of God, more like a best friend than a taciturn father figure whose love would come under certain conditions.

This book often bring up questions that we all once asked ourselves: life, love, purpose of life, the Good, the Evil, guilt, Heaven, Hell, power, health, joy, pain, marriage, money, death… It is definitely one of my favorite books EVER, and it really had an impact on the way I think and see the world.

Here are the main points I took from this book:

To experiment his greatness and his own being, God needs an external point of view

So God (or The Universe, The Energy) divided itself in an infinity of souls – us – and created the concept of Great Polarity: Love and Fear (Yin and Yang). God can only experiment itself though us, its creation

Then, he wanted to also experiment ourselves in materiality

So we, tiny souls, created a collective scheme: we would incarnate ourselves in a physical way in this world to experience life! But somehow, along the way, we forgot that we all came from the same Whole and that we are all tiny pieces of God (would be too easy otherwise!)

The purpose of our soul is to fully thrive while still part of a physical body; to become the incarnation of what it really is

Life experience is a beautiful process of Creation. It is the opportunity for our soul to experiment what it already knows deep down inside: we are divine and our thoughts are creative. We have the power to experiment who we want to be and create our lives with the best version of ourselves in mind.

We can do whatever we want with our lives. God is just observing it, not judging it.

We are fooling ourselves when we think that God decides what happens in our lives. It created the process of life, yet, it gave us Free Will! There are no obligations, no prohibitions. We decide on all choices we make.

All lives are created by choice. We don’t decide in advance, yet, we can choose the people, places, challenges and events with which wewill create our live experience

Nothing is random and there are no coincidences. The process is perfect and each incarnated sould, even in the tiniest body, has a purpose. Even if we don’t always understand it, it’s important to remember that each soul has a purpose and we must let them follow their own path, without being judgmental.

Every human action is motivated by either love or its exact opposite: fear

These are the only Two Emotions in the soul language. Each thought, word or human action is based on fear or love. There are no other choices. But we are free to choose between these two.

Our thoughts are creative and our words are productive

Put together, thoughts and words are remarkably effective to create reality. Each one of us is a giant machine of creation! So, everything that happens to us is created by our own conscious. Collective consciousness is powerful enough to create worldwide events with global consequences!

No concept can exist without its contrary. The whole birth-death cycle is part of a movement of polarity between one another.

Life is a rhythm. Natural disasters are only movements of elements from one point to the other. The events are created by the collective consciousness. It is the entire world that creates these experiences through co-creation.

We collectively and individually create the life and the time we all experience in order to let our souls thrive

All the events and situations that happen to use are just opportunities to experiment who we want to be. By choosing how these events impact us, we modify our inner experiences and master our lives.

God communicates with each one of us through our thoughts, feelings and experiences

Feelings are the language of the soul. If we want to know what’s true for us for something in particular, observe how we feel about it: our innver voice (God) will know how to guide us.

Because our parents love was conditional, we persuaded ourselves that God would act like a parent that judges, rewards and punishes

This reality around love, based on fear, dominates our experience with love and deceives us. Not only, we believe we receive love conditionally but we also believe that we give it in the same way.

Each prayer (each thought, each affirmation, each feeling) is creative

The adequate prayer is never a plea but rather a prayer of Gratitude. When we thank the Universe in advance for the experience we choose to live in our reality. This is how we attract experiences to us.


The 5am Club – Robin Sharma

favorite books

The 5 AM Club helps you get up at 5 AM every morning, build a morning routine, and make time for the self-improvement you need to find success.

You wake up to your alarm, press snooze, and roll back over for an extra few minutes of sleep. This is what your average person does; wake up and let the day take over. But do you want to be average? If you want to be like the top 5%, you need to stop acting like the 95%.

There is a way to start your day with purpose and energy, a pattern that will help you accomplish more and increase your mental and physical health. It all starts with waking up at 5 a.m.

Robin Sharma uses in this book a fictitious story about a billionaire mentor teaching a struggling artist and an entrepreneur about the importance of waking up early to show how revolutionary it is for success. He makes a convincing case that will persuade even the most sleep-loving people that to be truly excellent, we need to start our days intentionally.

Here are the 3 biggest lessons I’ve learned from this book:

  1. Waking up at 5 a.m. will provide you with the solitude and improved brain state to perform like the pros: our minds have a limited amount of “bandwidth.” When we fill our day with social media, interactions with those around us, television, and so on, we fill this bandwidth to the point that we can’t take in anything more before the day is even over. If you wake up at 5 a.m., you will find you can focus on one thing without these distractions and accomplish much more.
  2. Balance your 4 “interior empires” to achieve self-mastery: don’t just focus on Mindset. While thinking optimistic thoughts will help you, there are 3 other “interior empires” when trying to find balance: Healthset (physical health), Heartset (emotional well-being), and Soulset (spirituality).
  3. Don’t waste time when you wake up early, use the 20/20/20 formula: this formula says you should 20 minutes on three highly valuable activities each: the first 20 minutes of that first hour should consist of exercise, the next 20-minute block should consist of reflection and meditation, and finally make time to read and learn something new, instead of wasting time on useless entertainment.

If you’re ready to take your life to the next level and become great, it all starts with an effective morning routine! The science-backed case Sharma makes for joining the 5 AM Club is likely convincing enough for even those who aren’t morning people.


The Secret – Rhonda Byrne

favorite books

This 2006 global bestseller with almost 30 million copies sold is by many considered the perfect blueprint for achieving your goals. These are the three main lessons I learned from this book:

  1. The law of attraction is one of the most prevalent principles in the world: While Byrne packaged the idea in a new way, which appealed to the masses, the law of attraction itself is as old as we are: like attracts like. In essence, the law of attraction states that what you think and feel determines what you’ll attract into your life.
  2. In order to use the law of attraction, you must think about what you want, not what you want to avoid: When it comes to our internal monologue, we’re a lot more worried about losing what we have, rather than getting what we want. That’s why most of us subconsciously play not to lose, instead of playing to win. Fewer people shoot for great than for average.
  3. The three steps of the law of attraction are asking, believing, and receiving: Ask – Use a present tense structure and write down what you want from a perspective of gratitude: “I’m grateful to have [INSERT DESIRE].” / Believe – This is about radiating confidence, so that the people you meet along the way will support you. / Receive – Imagine how you’ll feel once you accomplish your goal. What would life be like? Visualize it!

Ayurveda – Geeta Vara

Ayurveda is a 5000-year-old system of medicine that takes a much needed holistic approach to life and wellbeing. Through balancing the three energy forces in the body known as ‘doshas’, Ayurveda goes beyond the boundaries of conventional practice to reveal your unique physical, emotional and mental needs.

Expert practitioner Geeta Vara BSc and PGDip in Ayurvedic Medicine gives simple, daily applicable rituals and wisdom that can be personalized to suit you, including guidance on food as medicine, detoxification, movement, and meditation. By teaching us to reconnect with our natural bio-circadian rhythms, Ayurveda will lead you on a journey towards self-healing.

With this book, you can discover your mind/body type, learn to identify early signs of imbalance, transform your diet through taste and mindful eating, be empowered to take a preventative approach to healthcare and tackle stress and fatigue, immune system issues, gastro-intestinal problems, disturbed sleep, migraines, weight management and more.

I wrote several articles about some Ayurvedic rituals that I learned from this book, such as oil pulling, using a neti pot, and drinking golden milk. Have a look if this interests you!


Losing my Virginity – Richard Brandson

Losing My Virginity was originally published in 1998. It is amazing to think that Sir Richard Branson had done THIS much by age 48! Magazines, record stores, labels, signing artists, airlines, balloon races, islands, the list goes on and on. It’s tougher to find something the man hasn’t done than what he’s already been through.

Since the blinks and book mostly detail specific adventures, I thought I’d take one step back and look at which general lessons you can learn about entrepreneurship and life from the way he does things. Here’s a list of the main three lessons:

  1. Don’t feel bad if you haven’t been born and bred as an entrepreneur: Don’t let yourself get discouraged if your parents didn’t instill a sense of entrepreneurship in you.
  2. Always look out for the next thing, but take it one adventure at a time: Branson is always on the lookout for the next opportunity, but when he seizes one, he seizes it with all he’s got. So keep your eyes open, but don’t let yourself be fooled into thinking you can do many things at once. One adventure at a time, that’s how you build an empire.
  3. The number one skill you should practice is creativity: The only reason so many of Richard Branson’s businesses work out is that he sees profits where most people don’t even see business. He turns his own quagmire into cash, and the only way you can do that is by being incredibly creative. You can’t make up stuff like this on the spot, unless you’ve practiced the creativity you need way before even getting there.

Quiet – Susan Cain

Here goes another book by a top TED speaker. Susan Cain’s talk about the power of introverts has been viewed over 10 million times. The reason is that her book and talk made a lot of people feel heard for the first time. In the seven years of research leading up to the publication of Quiet in 2012, Susan uncovered the slow rise of the extrovert ideal in the public and American workplace.

  1. Whether you like small talk or not is part of your personality type: Introverts are what’s called “highly sensitive”, meaning they take in the information given to them, for example via stimuli from their environment, a lot more thoroughly than their extrovert peers. For example, an introvert can stand in front of a single big picture in a museum for 10 minutes, continuously observing and looking for new details to be found – a horror fantasy for an extrovert. In a similar manner, introverts don’t like small talk. They are engaged by profound conversations about life, values, morals and ethics, because it allows their highly sensitive information processing to thrive.
  2. Western cultures portray extroversion as the ideal of success: We often perceive whoever’s the most confident to be the most competent as well. That couldn’t be further from the truth, since just being a charming speaker and captivating figure does not make one a good leader.
  3. Companies need to adjust their workplaces to introverts as well: Due to the extrovert success ideal, most companies are tailored to extroverts. Think about it: open offices, meetings, group brainstorming sessions, presentations of PowerPoint slides, workshops and of course, lunch at the canteen. For introverts this means they feel constantly interrupted, overloaded with information and stressed, which makes it hard for them to thrive in such an environment. But when you think about it, not all great things were achieved by extroverts or even groups of people.

You are a Badass – Jen Sincero

Opinions don’t matter. Especially not those of haters. The sad thing about learning this lesson only late in life is that you might not have the energy or time to still achieve your dream, whatever that may be. So the sooner you learn it, the better. If you’re young and worried about what other people think, this book is for you.

After working for a record label, starting a rock band, failing, and then writing a book about that, Jen Sincero became a lesbian, failed at that too and wrote another book about that, before ultimately coaching people to improve their sex lives and later their lives altogether. You Are A Badass is the culmination of several years of helping people transform their lives from loser to happy-go-lucky and it comes packed with fun stories and valuable lessons. Here are my favorite three:

  1. Decide you’ll stop caring what other people think. Right now: Being serious means putting in days, months, years of work. You’ll lose some friends. You’ll go to less happy hours and football games. You’ll be laughed at. Ridiculed. Made fun of. But none of that matters if you’re happy spending time chasing what others don’t dare to: To really go for your dream, you must put your inner badass in charge.
  2. Figure out what you want but don’t obsess about how you’ll get there: Know what you want, but be flexible about the how.
  3. If your habits, surroundings and friends don’t support you, it’s time to change them: If your environment, your habits, your friends, even your family, don’t lift you up in your journey towards a life you’ll be glad to have lived when it’s over, it’s time to make some changes.

The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle

Leading a very troubled and problematic life, coined by many periods of serious depression, Eckhart Tolle found peace overnight, quite literally. Plagued by depressing late-night thoughts, he started questioning what it is that made his life so unbearable and found the answer in his “I” – the self-generated from the power of his thoughts in his mind. The next morning he woke up and felt very much at peace because he’d somehow managed to lose his worrier-self and live entirely in the now, the present moment.

Eckhart published The Power of Now in 1997, which eventually went on to become a New York Times bestseller in 2000 after Oprah Winfrey fell in love with it and recommended it. Here are 3 lessons from it to help you worry and regret less:

  1. Life is just a series of present moments: The reason we regret and worry about a lot of things lies in the way our minds work. The constant stream of consciousness and thoughts in our head, which plays 24/7 in our heads, is mostly preoccupied with 2 things: the past and the future. When you think about it, the past is nothing more than all present moments that have gone by, and the future is just the collection of present moments waiting to arrive.
  2. All pain is a result of resistance to the things you cannot change: We think a lot about the future and the past, but can live only in the present and have therefore no means to change many things from the other two that we’re unhappy about. When you’re angry, that anger usually makes you think and act less rational, which more often than not results in a worse situation and thus, more pain – but it’s really all in your head.
  3. You can free yourself from pain by constantly observing your mind and not judging your thoughts: Constantly ask yourself: “What will my next thought be?” and stop judging your thoughts and urges.

21 Lessons for the 21st Century – Yuval Noah Harari

How do you prepare your children for the year 2050? Or even the year 2100? It’s a great question, especially because nowadays, no one knows what the world will even look like then. In 21 Lessons For The 21st Century, Yuval Noah Harari helps us do just that. After his previous bestsellers Sapiens, which explored the human past, and Homo Deus, which focused on our distant future, this book is about our biggest challenges in the here and now and how we can deal with them.

Here are 3 from his 21 lessons to help us and future generations thrive in the 21st century:

  1. Whoever owns the data wins, which is why everyone struggles for it: Data has become the most valuable asset, which is why technology disrupts all our systems.
  2. We don’t know, we just think we do – and that’s a problem: Basically, we think we know a lot more than our ancestors when, actually, we know less in many regards. For example, we all rely on many experts to live our everyday lives. We can’t hunt our own food, build our own shelter, or make our own clothes. We think we’re smart, but just because we can access all the world’s knowledge doesn’t mean it’s already in our head.
  3. Education must show us how to navigate information, not give us more of it: School needs to start teaching us how to think, not what to think. A basic understanding of history, biology, math, and other subjects is important, no doubt. But beyond that, it’s more important that we learn how to navigate the modern sea of information, how to filter out the important, and how to determine what’s downright false, than just remembering more facts. Future workers won’t need to know as much as possible, but how to find out only that, which they really need to know.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck – Mark Manson

Mark gets that life has become overwhelming and the only way to find our center around the things that really matter to us is to not give a f*ck about anything else. Mark’s writing is funny and to the point. No bullshit, lots of curse words, but lots of insight too. Here are my 3 favorite lessons from this book:

  1. Values you can’t control are bad values to follow: Take your values, for example. I know it’s hard to put them into words, but if you try to describe yourself in, say, three adjectives, you already have a good idea of which values most dictate your life. Let’s say you chose the words honest, punctual and popular. Here’s where Mark makes an interesting remark: Only choose to have values you can control.
  2. Don’t believe you know anything with certainty, for it keeps you from improving: Imagine you could choose between two modes of moving through the world: one in which you think everything you know is 100% true and one in which you think nothing you know is 100% true. Both are stressful, but which one do you think would help you make better decisions? The latter, of course. While there’s some middle ground to be found here, rejecting the idea that you know anything for sure is a great base to start learning from.
  3. Trying to leave a legacy might ruin your life: Here’s an uncomfortable, but important reminder: You’re going to die one day. The more we’re driven to build a great body of work, the more start chasing fame, working too much and focusing on the future. What if instead, we just tried to be useful in the present? We could still help a ton of people, enjoy our days and fully be here, while we’re here.

What I Know for Sure – Oprah Winfrey

Everybody knows Oprah Winfrey. She produced and hosted one of the most influential TV shows in American history. Her ingenuity brought a brand-new format to television with book clubs, self-improvement segments, and calls to philanthropic efforts. But most of all, Oprah has been a champion in shaping her own existence. And in What I Know For Sure she invites you to take responsibility for your own life, too.

In the author’s view, this means working hard to reach your goals. But you must also learn to enjoy the small and big pleasures you may experience on your journey, and create more of them. Here are 3 lessons you can learn from Oprah’s extraordinary life:

  1. Not only can you overcome hardship, but you can leverage it to become stronger, self-sufficient, and happiness-oriented: From bad experiences, you can learn to take responsibility for your own happiness. The biggest problems you may face are a chance to build your courage, discipline, and determination.
  2. The path of progression is easier to walk if you let great stories and great people inspire you: Use inspiration from books and people to strengthen your motivation for achieving greatness. These have inspired Oprah, and they can do the same for you too!
  3. Being grateful for what you have will change your outlook but also enable you to manifest better things in your life: Practicing gratitude makes you feel better but also brings you more things for which to be grateful. Gratitude works because it raises your energy, allowing you to attract more goodness in your life.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey

I’m about to finish reading this one at the moment. The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People teaches you both personal and professional effectiveness by changing your view of how the world works and giving you 7 habits, which, if adopted well, will lead you to immense success.

If you hadn’t at least heard about this book, I’d be shocked. It has sold over 25 million copies. I’m not sure if Stephen R. Covey had any clue about what a success The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People would be when he published it in 1990, but, even several years after his death, it’s still the bible of leadership and modern management.

The original 7 habits are:

1. Be Proactive

2. Begin with the End in Mind

Do the funeral test

3. Put First Things First

You’ll often find that the important things aren’t urgent and vice versa. That means some things don’t deserve to be done at all

4. Think Win-Win

5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

Practice active listening

6. Synergize

7. Sharpen the Saw

The first 3 serve your own independence, so that you may “win in private”, as Covey put it. The second 3 aim to shift your focus to interdependence. When you strive for cooperation instead of competition, you’ll also “win in public” and find worldly success. The last habit serves your own renewal so that you’ll never burn out or overextend yourself. The biggest lesson I’ve learned from this book is: whatever you do, be effective, not efficient!


Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Noah Harari

Even though our existence on Earth is relatively short, we’ve come far. What steps led us to dominate the planet like we do? In Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, he reviews each step that got us here. You’ll learn each of the elements in our history, from language and money to science, that made us who we are. Here are the 3 most interesting lessons this book teaches about our species:

  1. The ability to think gave early humans language, which eventually led to agricultural advances allowing them to grow exponentially:  Language set our species apart from others because it made us able to distribute information more freely. This helped early people share lessons about predators and food with each other. Because humans could cooperate as a society and flexibly, ideas spread which made even more progress possible.
  2. Improvements in trade were only possible with the invention of money and writing: It’s easy to see how having writing and money would make your situation a lot better. With the ability to record your transaction with the farmer, you can make sure he keeps his word if he needs to promise you a pig. And if you don’t have anything he needs, you can just sell your knife for currency, like barley, to make the transaction. From here, advancements for Homo sapiens began happening rapidly. Pretty soon laws helped regulate everything to be safer. With the ability to write, economies and governments could grow. Society began to flourish, and the next step was science.
  3. With better economic and communication means, scientific progress gave our race the abilities necessary to get to where we are today: Now that they had efficient food, trading, and writing methods, our ancestors could begin thinking more. This led to a scientific revolution with many people considering ways to improve their way of life. Governments helping fund explorers and scientists saw great expansions in their empires. 

Although we’ve had our times of war, the history of mankind has now come to a place of great peace and prosperity. Some may see our unification as homogeneous and boring, but the lack of war in recent years is unprecedented. And while we may deal with other modern problems, but we can thank the advancements of each of our ancestors for the pleasant place we find ourselves in now.


The Power of the Heart – Baptiste de Pape

favorite books

With its unprecedented convocation of eighteen of the world’s greatest spiritual thinkers, writers, and scientists, including Maya Angelou, Deepak Chopra, Paulo Coelho, and Eckhart Tolle, this spiritual guide—which ties into a film of the same name—reveals how you can overcome limitations and fulfill your highest potential.

Baptist de Pape, a young lawyer, was mired in anxiety and fears about his future when he felt the call to investigate the incredible power of the heart and how it can lead us to our true purpose in life. On a quest that took him around the world, de Pape interviewed eighteen living icons—all on camera—including Isabel Allende, Jane Goodall, Marci Shimoff, Marianne Williamson, and Gary Zukav. Generously sharing their touching personal stories as well as profound guidance, these leaders co-created with de Pape a multidimensional, illuminating portrait of the heart as an inexhaustible source of love and wisdom that far surpasses that of the mind.

With exciting spiritual and scientific insights, The Power of the Heart presents fascinating evidence that the heart is more than a physical organ. It possesses its own intelligence, capable of transforming your views of money, health, relationships, and success. Mindfulness exercises and contemplations guide you to activate the heart’s special powers—including intuition, intention, gratitude, forgiveness, and love. These unforgettable lessons from the world’s greatest teachers will inspire you to find your hidden talents, hear your inner voice, and fulfill your highest purpose in life.


Books in Portuguese

Liberta-te de Pensamentos Tóxicos – Rute Caldeira

favorite books

We go on diets to lose excess pounds, but we forget that we accumulate toxic thoughts in our minds that condition us on a daily basis. Padlocks like fear, guilt, anger, hurt, low self-esteem, inability to forgive, or impatience, which pollute our souls and prevent us from being happy.

Rute Caldeira, reiki master, yoga instructor, meditation guru, and spiritual retreat organizer, shares in this book ‘Liberta-te de Pensamentos Tóxicos’ (Get Rid of Toxic Thoughts) a diet with 7 simple steps that will help you to free himself from toxic thoughts and negative charges, to find tranquility, and achieve inner well-being. The author shares her own experience of spiritual evolution that included an important visit to India. The book includes practical meditation exercises.


Simplifica a Tua Vida – Rute Caldeira

favorite books

In this book ‘Simplifica a Tua Vida’ (Make your Life Easier), Rute Caldeira shows you 9 steps to simplify your relationships and be happier. If relationships are the foundation of everything, then why is it so difficult to deal with others? Why do most of our anxieties arise in family, loving and friendship relationships? How can we feel more and think less? Why can’t life be simpler? Rute Caldeira guarantees that it can.

Grab the ball you created, full of knots, suffering, pain and fear, and learn to unfold it, thread by thread, with the wisdom of your soul. The author helps you with these 9 steps that will simplify your relationships and teach you how to live in a lighter and happier way. Steps that the author herself had to go through and overcome, at a difficult stage in her life.

First of all, you have to let go of the people who hurt you, the feelings that provoke you, the dependence they create. You cannot put your happiness in the hands of others. Next steps: free yourself from the fear that chains you, awaken your conscience to the signs that appear and show you the way, separate yourself from the Ego that limits you, disconnect from what makes you lose time and wears you out without reason and connect with what is valuable in life.

It is essential not to carry the weight of others, their demands, and expectations, and draw your map of the mind and the world. Only then will you be able to reconcile yourself and others and simplify your life. Where are you not happy? When are you not you? In what situation does your soul go out instead of shining? If you are not happy, then don’t stay. You have everything, you have all the resources, all the answers to make your life uncomplicated.


O Poder da Meditação – Rute Caldeira

favorite books

First of all, this book ‘O Poder da Meditação’ (The Power of Meditation) is the holy grail of meditation. And I will explain why. I had never read a book that was so easy to explain the power of meditation. Easy to read, understand, and apply. With each page we are absorbing more, and more and more.

With each exercise, we want to apply and feel immediately. A writing that takes you to meet the author, and as she says as if she were at your side reading to you. This book is a sharing of her knowledge in years of training and meditation practice. Throughout the book, Ruth takes us to the teaching of what is essential for our survival, the breath. Teaching you to stop and breathe, guided with your sweet, quiet voice in 5-minute meditations every day of the week.

Through this book, she invites us to free our bodies in active meditations and at the same time sharing her stories and those of others who inspired her. As said in a book that is easy to read and understand. It is not a technical book, but a book with easy teachings that lead us to put each of them into practice. Through meditation, we can reach our essence. So if you want to learn the techniques of meditation, I invite you to read that book and apply its teachings.


Alma Feliz – Grace Kelly

favorite books

When she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, Grace Kelly felt that challenge as an opportunity to change, deciding to better listen to her body and integrate healthier options into her lifestyle. He became vegan and created the Yoga Vibes modality with energetic postures to balance the chakras and work on emotions.

In this book ‘Alma Feliz’ (Happy Soul), Grace shares her daily care with you to achieve a balance between body, mind, and soul. Get inspired by this woman with an open and contagious smile and add more color, health, and joy to your life. Fill it with Good Vibes! She shares amazing things, such as her morning rituals, magical affirmations, yoga postures, vegan recipes, lunar rituals, crystals for chakra alignment, and many spiritual exercises.

My blog posts about crystals and about healthy food you should have at home were based on what I learned from her with this book.


Vive a Tua Luz – Inês Nunes Pimentel

favorite books

‘Vive a Tua Luz’ (Live your Light) is a guide that will allow you to truly fall in love with yourself so that you can live the life of your dreams. This book is a sincere sharing of stories, experiences, exercises, and mantras.

With it, you can transform your life from the inside out and become the most authentic and brilliant version of yourself. In a society that constantly tells us that we have to be better, this book reminds you that you are already perfect. Each page will help you to remove each layer that prevents you from feeling it so that you can finally connect with your true essence and live your unique light.

Embark on this journey of self-knowledge. Learn to live for love and to love you unconditionally, to free yourself from toxic fears and thoughts, to nourish your body, mind, and soul, to find your life purpose, to discover the unique gift you are to the world and to manifest the life of your dreams and know that everything is possible. This author also has a podcast that I love and totally recommend!


Em Caso de Dúvida, Escolhe o que Te Faz Feliz – Manuel Clemente

favorite books

Being ourselves may seem simple, but it is not always easy. Since we were born, we have been deeply conditioned and fully formatted. We are the result of a society ruled by fear and ignorance, and empathy is a sign of vulnerability and kindness is easily confused with weakness.

We are told not to take any risks, not to break the rules and to do what we are supposed to do. But what if all this is just a tremendous lie? Why is it that most people do not live satisfied with the life they have and feel lost or suffer for fear of taking risks?

Through his personal experience, Manuel Clemente invites us to see the world through a clearer, pragmatic, and optimistic lens. It motivates us to respect our essence, to relativize the fears that block us, and to accept life as a huge classroom.


Uma Horta em Casa – Isabel Mourão & Miguel Brito

favorite books

Increasingly, urban and community gardens are part of the landscape of modern cities; the next step, very desirable and perfectly attainable, is to bring the garden… into your house! Making creative use of the available space contributes, on a small but considerable scale, to combat climate change; substantially improves the quality of food and helps to reduce family expenditure, and provides a healthy and fun environment for socializing among all family members. ‘Uma Horta Em Casa’ (Creating a Home Garden) teaches you how to grow different plants by the window, on the balcony, or on the terrace, in organic production.

Nowadays, a large part of the world population lives in cities, almost always with limited access to the natural environment. The food we consume is transported from ever-greater distances, which implies that the food is treated and preserved with chemicals, increasing not only our dependence on fossil energy but also the general lack of knowledge about the origin and production of those that are our essential nutrients. On the other hand, this weakening of the link between man and nature – which has already been referred to as “nature’s deficit disorder” – can cause emotional stress associated with urban life. Over the past few years, however, this trend has reversed.

Discover in this book the advantages of having a vegetable garden at home, what plants you can grow (horticultural, aromatic or medicinal or edible flowers), how the life cycle of different plants works, when, where and with what tools you can grow them, how to cultivate organically (from sowing to composting and treating pests and diseases), and you can also find specific indications for the cultivation of more than 50 plants – from pumpkin to mushrooms, from rosemary to thyme, and from home joy to verbena. I just finished this book, and my plan is to start my own home garden next spring!

Google AdWords Guide on How to Create a Campaign

Transform your traffic and sales overnight using Google Adwords and follow the 10 steps below to create your first Adwords campaign today. Avoid the most common mistakes and save yourself hundreds of euros, time and frustration!

Benefits of Google Adwords

Here are three key benefits of online advertising and Google Adwords:

  1. Instant Results: Drive Targeted Round-The-Clock Traffic to Your Website in Minutes.
  2. Highly Targeted: Target by keywords, location, language, time of day & more!
  3. Cost Effective: You’ll only pay when someone clicks your ad. Pay per Click (PPC).

Google Adwords vs. Facebook Ads

Which is more effective? What to use for higher converting traffic? Both can be highly effective but they need a different approach because the users intent is different on both websites:

GoogleFacebook
People use Google to find a solution to their problem. e.g “Emergency plumber”, “wedding venue”. Therefore, AdWords is a good to target these people actively searching because you are theoretically providing that solution.People use Facebook to connect with people and share. Therefore, Facebook Ads can be good to leverage word-of-mouth as it’s already a social venue. This is perfect for problems people might have but not actively search, or problems they don’t yet know they have.

How Google Adwords Works

Ads on Google and it’s display network are sold by auction. Advertisers bid on keywords in order to serve an ad which, when clicked upon, leads the searcher to a website landing page. However, unlike traditional auctions, the highest bidder does not always win. Google takes 2 factors into consideration:

  1. Quality Score (expected clickthrough ratead relevance, and landing page experience).
  2. Bid (e.g. 1 euro)

Google multiple these two factors together to create a new measure: Ad Rank.

Ad Rank = Quality Score * Bid

The bidder with the highest Ad Rank gets the top spot and so on down to either the last ad qualifying.

Recommendation

Focus on consistently improving your quality score so you can reduce costs and out rank higher bidding competitors. See details about that keyword’s Quality Score by clicking the white speech bubble next to any keyword.


10 Steps to Set Up your First AdWords Campaign

1. Define Success and Set Up Tracking

Before paying for a single click, you first need to determine exactly what you want your advertising to accomplish. Always set your goals first and make decisions towards those goals. For example your goals may be to increase:

  • Brand Awareness
  • Online Sales
  • Phone Calls
  • App Dowloads
  • New Leads
  • In Store Purchases
  • Expand into a New Territory

It’s OK to change or refine your goals later on but if you don’t know exactly what you want. While Google can’t determine your goals for you, they try and make it easy for you to track your goals once you figure them out.

Recommendation
  1. Set up Goals in Google Analytics: AdWords may show a Keyword has a great click through rate (CTR) but when you look deeper in Google Analytics, you may see that term doesn’t convert well or has a high Bounce Rate. That kind of information can really help you effectively optimise your account.
  2. Link your Adwords Accounts to Google Analytics and Search ConsoleCreate an AdWords account and go to Google AdWords settings > linked accounts and pick the appropriate Analytics and Search Console profiles.
  3. Link Google Analytics to Adwords: Go to Google Analytics admin area > pick the correct profiles to link and you’ll have Adwords data in Analytics and visa versa.


2. Analyze your PPC Competition

The second huge mistake many people make is not doing any competitor research before they create their first campaign. This exercise gives you an instant advantage when writing your ad copy because you can improve on your competitors best strategies.

Recommendation
  1. Search Google: Check out the ads you’ll be up against by searching for some of your best keywords in Google.
  2. Note Down Compelling Ad Copy: What makes you want to click? Look for great offers, certain prices, deals or product benefits make the ads more compelling.
  3. Review Competitor Landing Pages: See what your competitors landing pages are like. Do they ads go to their homepage and are call to actions visible?
  4. Spy on Your Competitors: Use this free tool Spyfu to get even more insights.

3. Have a Good Landing Page

Having a landing page dedicated to your advertising campaign objective is a huge part of maximizing the return you’ll see from your ad investment.

One of the biggest mistakes that AdWords beginners make is driving paid traffic to their homepage. Your homepage is great for explaining what your business is about, but it’s never going to be as effective as a dedicated landing page at getting conversions. Especially for e-commerce businesses, they should send traffic to the appropriate product or category instead of the homepage.

Good landing pages, take customers exactly where they expect to go, and they don’t need to click to find what they were originally searching for in Google.

Recommendation
  • Begin with the end in mind: Remember, paid search won’t fix a bad landing page or a high-friction shopping cart experience. Before you get started, you should have a mobile optimized website or landing page that you want to send traffic.
  • Match your ad keywords with your landing page headline: Don’t try and reinvent the wheel. Start with a high converting landing page template from a company like Leadpages and add your content from there.

4. Select the Right Campaign Type

When you start setting up your AdWords campaign, you’ll need to choose a campaign type and a campaign sub-type. The campaign type determines things like where your ads can show to customers on Google’s advertising networks, and what format they can be in, such as text or video.

Adwords Ads can be displayed in the Search Network (Google & partners sites) and across their Display Network (YouTube, Gmail, Wall Street Journal, New York Time etc.). There are six main campaigns types you can choose from:

  1. Search Network with Display Select (can be very broad!)
  2. Search Network Only (Google Search and Search partners)
  3. Display Network Only (Google’s network of partner sites)
  4. Shopping (Best ways to create Shopping Ads)
  5. Video (Video Ads on YouTube and across the Web)
  6. Universal App Campaign (Promote app, across Search, Display and YouTube)
Recommendation
  • Login into Google Adwords. For your first campaign, select on “Search Network Only”. Click “all features” and untick “include search partners” to target campaign even further.
  • Budgets are set at the campaign level, so creating separate campaigns if you want to run different types of campaigns for your can manage your budget.

5. Target your Audience

The ability to target your ads is one of the the key benefits of online advertising. It allows you to control your costs and also drive more targeted (and high converting!) traffic to your website.

5 Ways to Target Your Adwords Ads:

  1. Location (city, zip code etc.)
  2. Language
  3. Time of day (ex: show ads during business hours only)
  4. Device targeting (mobile, tablet, desktop, certain operating systems, carriers etc.)
  5. Keywords (target your audience further by selecting keywords – step 9)
Recommendation
  • Use Available Data: To improve the accuracy of your targeting, use available data in Google Analytics and from your Facebook Page.
  • Language: If you want to target two languages, it’s best to create a separate campaign for that language so that you can control the budget separately for that campaign and include only relevant language ads.

6. Determine your Bids and Budgets

Choose the right bidding strategy for your marketing goals.

Set the Bids for your Ads in 7 Ways:

  1. Search Page Location Target: Automated bidding strategy to show your ad on the top of the page or on the first page of Google search results.
  2. CPA Target: Bidding strategy that sets bids to help get as many conversions as possible at the target cost-per-acquisition (CPA) you set.
  3. ROAS Target: Automated bidding strategy across multiple campaigns, ad groups, and keywords to help achieve an average return on ad spend (ROAS) equal to the target you set.
  4. Outranking Share Target: Automated bidding strategy that help your ads outrank ads from another domain.
  5. Maximise Clicks: Automated strategy to help get as many clicks as possible within your budget.
  6. Enhanced CPC: Raises your bid for clicks that seem more likely to lead to a sale or conversion on your website.
  7. Manual CPC: A bidding method that lets you set your own maximum cost-per-click (CPC) for your ads. This differs from automated bid strategies, which set bid amounts for you.
Recommendation

For your first campaign, enter the info below in the 3 fields in Adwords:

  • Bid Strategy: Select “Manual CPC”
  • Default bid. Enter “1 euro”.
  • Budget: Enter “20 euros” a day

7. Write Effective Ads

Follow these 6 tips to write effective text ads:

  1. Match your ad to your landing page: People might leave your website if they don’t find what they expect.
  2. Highlight what makes you unique: Free shipping? Dazzling variety? Tell people! Showcase the products, services, or offers that make you competitive.
  3. Include prices, promotions, and exclusives: If you have a limited-time discount or stock an exclusive product, say so.
  4. Empower customers to take action: Include calls to action like purchase, call today, order, browse, sign up, or get a quote make clear what the next steps are.
  5. Include at least one of your keywords: For example, if you’ve included digital cameras as a keyword, your ad headline could be “Buy Digital Cameras.”
  6. Follow Google’s editorial guidelines: Don’t overuse CAPLOCKS, exclamation points, use GiM!M1CkY TEXT and S.P.A.C.I.NG. More info here.
Recommendation

Use all characters given to write your text ad: Your are paying for space. Get to zero in each line – it helps push other competing ads further down the page.


8. Choose Profitable Keywords

Start with 10-20 keywords for each ad group. Choose phrases that customers would use to search for your products and services. Be specific: avoid one-word keywords. Research Keywords by spying on competitors and also using the Google Adwords Keyword Planner Tool.

Of of the most expensive mistake people make is not using the appropriate match types. These control when your ads appear.

  • Broad Match: Default match type. Shows ads to searches for similar phrases or searches. very broad!
  • Phrase Match: Enter keywords in Adwords using quotes marks on “keyword” for phrase match targeting.
  • Exact Match: Enter keywords in Adwords using square brackets on [keyword] for phrase match targeting.
  • Broad Match Modifier: Add plus sign on +keywords for broad modifier match.
  • Negative Match: -keyword. Ex: free, cheap, torrent, youtube.
Recommendation

Start with 10 keywords for each ad group: Focus on keyword that show intent to buy (not people just learning about a topic).


9. Advanced Campaign Settings

  • Negative Keywords: Add Negative keywords to the negative keywords tabs.  -keyword. e.g. free, cheap, torrent, youtube.
  • Ad Extensions: Create more reasons to click your ad and increase it’s prominence in the search results. Enhance your ad with Site Links, Call Links, Location. More info here.
  • Remarketing: Great to show ads to people who have visited your website or used your app. More info here.

10. Measure and Optimize

Don’t just set it and forget it. Running ads is a constant game of optimization. There’s always new opportunities to pursue for growth so don’t let it just sit there. If you want to get the most out of your AdWords campaigns remember to test things like ad copy, bid price, and landing pages.

Recommendation
  • Optimise or pause underperforming ads.
  • Reinvest budgets in ads that are working have high CTR’s and conversion rates.

Share your experiences using Google AdWords in the comments!

Check other posts about marketing in the Marketing section of my blog

Fingerpicking Exercises to Improve your Technique

fingerpicking exercises
Fingerpicking is the use of one’s fingers to pluck the strings instead of using a pick. This technique has a very distinctive sound and it is used in several music genres. Learn how to position your fingers and practice some patterns with these fingerpicking exercises!

What is Fingerpicking?

Before we move on to the fingerpicking exercises, let’s start by explaining what this is. Fingerpicking is the use of one’s fingers to strike or pluck the strings instead of using a pick. This technique is widely used in classical, flamenco, Spanish, and folk music; however, it has also been used in nearly every genre of music – including pop and rock.

Fingerpicking also has its own distinctive sound. It also allows the player to be more selective regarding what strings should sound when playing the guitar polyphonically (multiple simultaneous notes). For example, if I want to play an E minor chord, but don’t want the fourth and fifth strings to sound, I would either need to mute them or just not play them at all, which is not easy when strumming. However, with the use of fingerpicking, I can just pick strings 1, 2, 3, and 6 easily.


How to Place your Fingers

When reading music that uses fingerpicking, you may see the term P.I.M.A. This is an acrostic for the thumb and the first three fingers of the right hand. Because of its length, the pinky is oftentimes not used. PIMA is often used to indicate which fingers to use in picking:

fingerpicking fingers

Until you get more comfortable with the fingerpicking, start this process by playing an open E minor chord. Now with your fingerpicking hand, place your thumb (P) on the sixth string, your ring finger (A) on the first string, your middle finger (M) on the second string, and your first finger (I) on the third string. Now take a mental picture of how your fingers are sitting on the strings right now, as this is how they should always be like. Remember this one concept and fingerpicking will almost never be an issue for you!


Benefits of These Fingerpicking Exercises

To get you started, I have included 28 exercise patterns in this article. Granted, some of these patterns you will never use, but many of them you will. As an exceptional guitarist, however, we want to be versatile! Practicing all the patterns will not only develop your dexterity in regards to fingerpicking, but it will also get you to start “thinking outside of the box” and coming up with your own patterns.


Fingerpicking Exercises

Fingerpicking can be done in any time signature. However, 4/4 and 6/8 are by far the most common. In fact, they will make up the majority of the songs that you encounter. I’ve included some exercises here for songs in 4 and songs in 6.

Songs in 4

The first example says PIMA. That means if the song count is one, two, three, four, you would pick P, I, M, A, or thumb, index, middle, ring. Once you get this basic feel down, work your way down the list. So the next exercise would be P, I, A, M, and so on. Practice each exercise for a few minutes.

fingerpicking exercises

When you see two finger letters underneath a beat, that means that both of those notes should be sounded simultaneously (at the same time):

fingerpicking exercises

Here you have more of the same, only this time the thumb shares in the combination pick:

Songs in 6

These are songs in 6, which means the song count is one, two, three, four, five, six:

Here you will find more finger combinations or pinch-picks. It is called a pinch-pick because the motion looks much like a pinch if executed properly:


Fingerpicking requires practice, attention, and a lot of patience. This is a technique that feels awkward at first and too, with time and discipline, miraculously gets easier!

PS: If you want the plucking to sound sharper and you have no nails, you can buy these rings online.

Check other posts about guitar in the Guitar section of my blog

How to Improve your Copywriting Skills

copywriting skills
Learn how to improve your copywriting skills using the A.I.D.A formula. This simple process can be used to write landing pages, sales pages, emails, social media posts & more! Avoid many common mistakes and remember: copywriters aren’t born, they practice!

What is Copywriting?

Before telling you how to improve your copywriting skills, it’s important to understand what this is really about. Copywriting is using written words to persuade people to take the action you want them to (e.g. make a purchase, submit an email, request a demo).

How do you do that, exactly? It comes down to presenting an argument strong enough to convince visitors that what you’re going to provide them with (ex: a product, an email newsletter, a free quote) is worth more than what they’re giving you in exchange for it.


Why Are Copywriting Skills Important?

The main benefit of having good copywriting skills is that it increases sales! Ask yourself if you think that doubling your traffic is easier than doubling your conversion rate with better copy. Driving double the traffic to your website is not always easy, as traffic does not come on demand – it can also be a costly choice if you are paying for the traffic. Doubling your conversion rate from 1% to 2% however is much easier with good copy. That is how powerful good copy is!

All these activities will benefit from better copywriting skills:

  • Market Research: Explain the benefits of people completing your survey.
  • Email Marketing: Writing subject lines that people will open.
  • Search Engine Optimization: Creating SEO optimised content.
  • YouTube: Writing video headlines and scripts.
  • Facebook & Twitter: Creating post people will engage with.
  • Google Adwords: Writing effective ads.

How to Write for your Buyer Persona

You cannot write effective copy unless you know:

  • Who you’re writing it for
  • How that person thinks
  • What that person needs

Avoid writing to a large crowd. To write great copy, you need to understand your buyer persona so that you know how you can best serve them. So, start your research by creating a buyer persona and unique selling proposition – I wrote a whole article about this.

Before you write a single word, you need to start by setting goals. When your goals are set, you need to find out how to best achieve them. Each page should have one goal. After choosing your goal, think about which action you are trying to persuade your readers to take, and notice if there is anything on the page distracting visitors from that goal. Also, don’t forget that every headline, image, subject line, etc., should tie back to your buyer persona and persuade them to take action.


A.I.D.A Formula

This is the most powerful way to structure your sales copy:

  1. Attention: Get the readers attention with a magnetic headlines.
  2. Interest: Connect with their problem.
  3. Desire: Make them “feel” the transformation.
  4. Action: Lead the reader to action.

1. Attention: Headlines are Very Important!

If you want your blog post, email, course to have an impact on your readers you must first get their attention and cause them to want to read further. At first, your reader will only be interested in knowing “What’s in it for me?”. That’s why headlines are so important!

On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.

David Ogilvy

Most of us make it harder to get results from copywriting than it needs to be. We pour energy and resources into small gains, instead of focusing our attention on the simple changes that make a huge difference. Improving your copywriting skills is about working smarter, not harder!

My recommendation is that you start with the headline. Think about it this way:

  • Blog posts don’t go viral, headlines do. It’s the headline that people share on Facebook. It is also the headline that people talk about. Complex ideas do not go viral. On the contrary, viral ideas are usually simple, yet impactful.
  • Headlines set the expectation for the rest of the article. If you put the blog post first, only to realize that the idea can’t be summed up into a viral headline, you either settle for a crummy headline, or you write up a misleading one.

11 Tips for Writing Magnetic Headlines

Practice

If you want more clicks, you need to practice. Write 25 Headlines for every piece of content. You’re more creative than you think!

Model the Best In The Business

Look at other blogs or websites that are doing a good job, and try to learn some tips from them! (Ex: http://www.jeffbullas.com/)

Start with Numbers

Try to write titles that start with numbers: “Top 15 Website to Free Images For Your Content Marketing”, “21 Actionable SEO Techniques You Can Use Right Now”, “7 Ways to Make Yourself a Happier Person Every Day”, 7 Secrets, 7 Proven, 7 Reasons, 7 Tips, etc.

Use “How to” Headlines – they still work!

Use headlines that start with ‘How’, because people Google that a lot! Ex: “How to Make Lavender Lemonade to get rid of Headaches & Anxiety“. Use these formulas: How to [Blank] Even if [Common Obstacle] and How to [Blank] Without [Common Objection].

Use Punctuation

It’s a simple technique to use. Place your main keyword before the colon or hyphen, and add your benefit headline after it. This will help you when it comes to SEO. Ex: Marketing Plan Template: Create Your First Marketing Plan in 5 Steps

Be Ultra Specific

Define what the article is about. Remember, headlines set the expectation for the rest of the article. Example of a bad headline: “Write a Song” / Example of a good headline: “How to Compose Your Own Song: Songwriting 101”

Flag Common Mistakes

Examples: “16 Copywriting Mistakes You’re Probably Making (and How to Fix Them)” / “Are You Making These 10 Common Google AdWords Mistakes?”

Ask Questions

Examples: “Do You Want to Build a Snowman? Read This Guide First” / “Think You Know SEO? Quiz Yourself and Find Out!”

Remember the 5Ws

These engaging, interrogative words are used to gather information. By using them in your headlines, you articulate to readers the kind of information you intend to provide: Who, What, When, Where and Why.

Pay Attention to Headline Length

If you want your headlines to look good in Google and prevent them from being cut off, make sure your headlines stay under 60 characters.

 Use an Image to Enhance Your Headline

It’s always a good idea to use a picture – 100% of readers will see it! Use images across all social media post. Communicate the headline in your picture to get attention. Use free images: create your own on Canva or find them on websites like Unsplash or Pexels.


2. Interest: Connect with Their Problem

Once you’ve hooked a reader with the headline, it’s time to turn that attention into interest. If you don’t hold their interest in the first paragraph, you’ve lost them!

Show you understand their problem by sharing any personal experiences or other people’s stories. You can also invent fictional stories to make it entertaining (as long as the humor furthers your goal). The goal here is to create a piece of content that informs, educates, and entertains, to sparkle an emotional reaction.

Remember to make it scannable and visually appealing. In order to do that, you can use bullets and subheadings, and break up the text to make your points stand out.


3. Desire: Make them ‘Feel’ the Transformation

The goal now is to build their interest in what you have to offer, and show how it can solve their problem. In other words, the end goal is to cause a shift in their mind and they start to imagine themselves in the solution.

One common mistake is to sell the product features vs. benefits for the customer. So, focus less on all of the great things about your product and more on how your product will make the visitor’s life better. Be sure to focus on the right benefits. Finally, show the reader what is missing by not trying the product.


4. Action: Lead Readers to Action

Last but not least, the call to action. The CTA is your final instruction to your reader. You’ve worked hard so far. Since you’ve gotten their attention, hooked their interest, created desire, isn’t it appropriate to ask for action?

5 Tips to Create an Irresistible Call to Action

  1. Have a Call-to-Action on Every Page: Everything you write should have a call to action – after all, you’re creating a piece of content for a specific reason.
  2. Start With an Command Verb: Words like “buy,” “shop,” or “order”, “download” or “subscribe”, “watch”, “share”, “fill out a form for…” or “find out how…”
  3. Create Urgency: Use discrete measurements of time in your call to action. For example, phrases like “click now” or “try our software today” give the user an understanding of how easy and immediate the action will be.
  4. Use Contrasting Colours: Contrasting colours can draw the user’s eye to the action you want them to take. If your site is cool blue and gray, use a red or orange graphic.
  5. Use a no-obligation statement that removes or reduces risk: for example, Udemy uses “Take This Course” rather than “Buy Now”. 

Try to pay attention to the call-to-actions you come across and note down what makes you click and what holds you back!


And this is it! If you keep this A.I.D.A formula in mind when you’re writing a piece of content, you will most likely start seeing the results!

Check other posts about marketing in the Marketing section of my blog

Chord Noodling: Creating Cool Melodies from Chords

chord noodling
Chord noodling is a cool way to embellish guitar chords with melodies. For every key, there is a certain set of notes that complement each other. Learn to choose notes that make you sound fierce and make a standard chord progression sound cool!

What is Chord Noodling?

Chord Noodling is a technique where you add notes around the chord shape in order to spice things up. You might already know about adding notes around chords, but chord noodling is a slightly different concept, as you can only add notes around the chord shape you are playing and not up and down the neck.

How to decide which notes to add to the chords?

There are a lot of different possibilities, as you will see below, and it is all about making a choice. There isn’t a magic rule to follow. Just keep trying until you find the notes that you like and stick to it!


Number System Chart

As I mentioned before, for every key, there is a certain set of notes that complement each other. Below is a table with all the notes that ‘go well’ with each key:

chord noodling

Chord Noodling Maps in Open Major Keys

It might be easier for you to visualize it with these maps. In order to do this, you basically have to change some notes within the chord. Just choose a couple of notes from a string from the maps below to complement your chord progression, and see how cool it can sound!

chord noodling
chord noodling

So, in summary, Chord Noodling is playing embellishments around chords, using the scale from which that chord was derived and adding notes in melodic ways. For example, playing an open D then adding/ removing the 4th and 2nd notes from D major on the high E string. Chord embellishments can be found around any chord, and make chords more interesting!


If this technique is still a bit confusing for you, check out this video from YourGuitarSage, who explains everything in detail.

Check other posts about guitar in the Guitar section of my blog

Tips for Starting a Gratitude Journal

gratitude journal
Everyone has something to be grateful for, and writing it down can even boost your happiness. Learn how to start your own gratitude journal now!

The Importance of Being Grateful

Usually it is not enough to simply decide to be grateful – we must actively practice it to cement its place in our lives. Performing simple daily acts of gratitude such as writing in a gratitude journal can have a big impact on your health and happiness!

It only takes a few minutes a day, but it can give you a lasting mood boost that can take you from feeling “okay” to feeling “great” on a more regular basis.


What is a Gratitude Journal?

A gratitude journal is, quite simply, a tool to keep track of the good things in life. No matter how difficult and defeating life can sometimes feel, there is always something to feel grateful for.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them

John F. Kennedy

Regularly journaling about the good things in your life can help prepare and strengthen you to deal with the rough patches when they pop up.

It’s extremely simple to start: simply write down (or type) the things you are grateful for on a daily basis. You can use a journal, diary, notebook, or just a piece of paper. If you’re committed to being green or just find it easier to do things digitally, you can use one of the many gratitude apps! My top 2 favorite apps are Daily Gratitude and Gratitude Journal.

Daily Gratitude App

Below is how Daily Gratitude app looks like. You can select between 2 different views by clicking the ‘Change View’ button, and you can add a new entry by clicking on the top right icon.

Underneath each day you have your daily target progress: a complete circle means that you reached your target! If you always forget to write, go to settings and set a daily reminder so you know when it’s time for your mindful practice.