2016 Vacation Anticipation – Cantabrias, Spain


The small northern regions of Cantabria and Asturias are a delightful discovery. Green valleys stretch down from snow-topped peaks to beautiful beaches. Locals drink cider and eat fantastic seafood and cheese, and the region’s fascinating history begins with some of the world’s most outstanding cave art.

Spectacular Peaks – Rising majestically only 15km inland, the Picos de Europa mark the greatest, most dramatic heights of the Cordillera Cantábrica, with enough awe-inspiring mountainscapes to make them arguably the finest hill-walking country in Spain. You can ramble past high-level lakes, peer over kilometre-high precipices or traverse the magnificent Garganta del Cares gorge (p494).

Glorious Beaches – Wild, rugged and unspoilt, the hundreds of secluded sandy stretches and mysterious coves that line the 550km-long Cantabrian and Asturian coast are some of Spain’s most beautiful and breathtaking beaches, and when the waves are up, the region’s surf scene comes alive.

Ancient Cave Art – Humanity’s first accomplished art was painted, drawn and engraved on the walls of European caves by Stone Age hunter-gatherers between about 39,000 and 10,000 BC, and reached some of its greatest artistic genius at the World Heritage–listed caves of Altamira (p468), El Castillo (p462) and Covalanas (p464) in Cantabria.


Santillana del Mar – They say this is the town of the three lies, since it is not santi (holy), llana (flat) or del mar (by the sea)! This medieval jewel is in such a perfect state of preservation, with its bright cobbled streets and tanned stone and brick buildings huddling in a muddle of centuries of history, that it seems too good to be true. Surely it’s a film set! Well, no. People still live here, passing their precious houses down from generation to generation. Strict town planning rules were intro­duced back in 1575, and today they include the stipulation that only residents or guests in hotels with garages may bring vehicles into the old heart of town.

Comillas – Sixteen kilometres west from Santillana through verdant countryside, Comillas has a lovely golden beach and a tiny fishing port, but there is more: a pleasant, cobbled old centre, and hilltops crowned by some of the most original buildings in Cantab­ria.

San Vicente de la Barquera – The last town on the Cantabrian coast be­fore you enter Asturias, San Vicente de la Barquera sits handsomely on a point of land between two long inlets, backed by dramatic Picos de Europa mountainscapes. The east­ern inlet, the estuary of the Río Escudo, is spanned by the low-slung, 15th-century Puente de la Maza. San Vicente was one of the Cuatro Villas de la Costa, a federation of four dominant medieval ports that was converted into the province of Cantabria in 1779 (along with Santander, Laredo and Cas­tro Urdiales). The long beaches east of town make San Vicente quite a busy summer spot. (photo below)

Santa B

* Descriptions are taken from Lonely Planet.

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San Sebastian, Spain 


2016 Vacation Anticipation – San Sebastian, Spain

San SebastianVacation anticipation is setting in. Thinking about the deliciousness of San Sebastián, Spain, first stop on our 2016 adventure.


It’s said that nothing is impossible. This is wrong. It’s impossible to lay eyes on San Sebastián (Basque: Donostia) and not fall madly in love. This stunning city is cool, svelte and flirtatious by night, charming and well mannered by day. It’s a city that loves to indulge, and with Michelin stars apparently falling from the heavens onto its restaurants and a pintxo culture almost unmatched anywhere else in Spain, San Sebastián fre­quently tops lists of the world’s best places to eat.

But just as good as the food is the sum­mer fun in the sun. For its setting, form and attitude, Playa de la Concha is the equal of any city beach in Europe. Then there’s Playa de Gros (also known as Playa de la Zurriola), with its surfers and sultry beach-goers. As the sun falls on another sweltering sum­mer’s day, you’ll sit back with a drink and an artistic pintxo and realise that, yes, you too are in love with San Sebastián.

San Sebastián has four main centres of action. The lively Parte Vieja (old town) lies across the neck of Monte Urgull, the bay’s eastern headland, and is where the most popular pintxo bars and many of the cheap lodgings are to be found. South of the Parte Vieja is the commercial and shopping dis­trict, the Centro Romántico, its handsome grid of late-19th-century buildings extend­ing from behind Playa de la Concha to the banks of Río Urumea. On the east side of the river is the district of Gros, a pleasant enclave that, with its relaxed ambience and the surfing beach of Playa de Gros, makes a cheerful alternative to the honeypots on the west side of the river. Right at the opposite, western end of the city is Playa de Ondarre­ta (essentially a continuation of Playa de la Concha), a very upmarket district known as a millionaires’ belt on account of its lavish holiday homes.


Just rolling the word pintxo around your tongue defines the essence of this cheerful, cheeky little slice of Basque cuisine. The perfect pintxo should have exquisite taste, texture and appearance and should be savoured in two elegant bites. The Basque version of a tapa, the pintxo transcends the commonplace by the sheer panache of its culinary campiness. In San Sebastián especially, Basque chefs have refined the pintxo to such an art form that many people would say that there’s simply no other city in Spain that can beat it.

Many pintxos are bedded on small pieces of bread or on tiny half-baguettes, upon which towering creations are constructed and pinned in place by large toothpicks. Some bars specialise in seafood, with much use of marinated anchovies, prawns and strips of squid, all topped with anything from chopped crab to pâté. Others deal in pepper or mushroom del­icacies, or simply offer a mix of everything. And the choice isn’t normally limited to what’s on the bar top in front of you: many of the best pintxos are the hot ones you need to order. These are normally chalked up on a blackboard on the wall somewhere.

Locals tend to just eat one or two of the house specials at each bar before moving on somewhere else. When it comes to ordering, tell the bartender what you want first and never just help yourself to a pintxo off the counter!

* Descriptions are taken from Lonely Planet.

Into the spaciousness life flows


I’ve been cultivating openness. The more I open, the more space I create. And the more space I create, the more abundantly delicious things flow in. Just today it’s been the positive energy of new ideas and co-creating with amazing leaders, creating a piece of art and writing a letter to a friend, and having the brisk north wind literally carry me back home on my afternoon run. And while the tender heart ache of a friend’s cancer diagnosis and a colleague unexpectedly looking for a new job don’t sound very delicious on the surface, the painful emotional turf reminds me that I am alive, that life simply unfolds and carries us.

It’s all about the people


Jennifer Paylor and I met in the IBM Coaching Community of Practice some half dozen years ago. What a sweet day when we made our connection! So many amazing things have flowed from our shared aspirations and vision for what’s possible. We captured our vision in a coaching approach we call PALs to support IBM delivery teams, and it has spread through a volunteer corps of inspired leaders at all levels of the organization. The logo below is festive because we are celebrating one year since we kicked-off the first PALS training.


As if that weren’t enough, Jennifer inspired us to go further. We also applied the concept to an app to help people engage with teammates and clients in ways that take relationships beyond delivery. Recently we were successful applying for a patent with another of our colleagues, Joseph Kozhaya, around the engagement system. We’re excited that IBM’s Watson might one day benefit the world by being a PAL, too!


Grasses that soften the world

Chakra April 2016c

“Honest friends are doorways to our souls, and loving friends are the grasses that soften the world.” ~Mark Nepo

Last night was the March gathering of the “Chakra Group” that I am part of. We close each of our evenings together in a circle, standing hand in hand in silence, and open to a word to inspire us forward. Last nights words of friendship were so delicious I had to share them.

“I love us!” Blair, Ginny, Kate, Lori


Other posts about Chakra Group:

Angel lights create abundant deliciousness

I am a new day rising

Wellness flower essence

A tribute to Libby




In search of wholeness

Another day with inspiring cards

The Book of Awakening cards by Mark Nepo

Nepo-Pledge of Gratitude

Prayer of the deepest kind is more a pledge of gratitude for what has already been received than a request or plea for something not yet experienced. Such an effort refreshes the soul.

Ah, so each morning as I write something I’m grateful for into my gratitude journal, I am actually saying a prayer? That’s beautiful.

PAUSE: 52 Ways to Shift Any Outcome in Less Than A Minute – Practical Mindfulness for Leaders Cards by Jennifer Sellers, Sheri Boone, and Kate Harper


Practice 39 – Give Hope

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement; nothing can be done without hope.”

~Helen Keller

One of the many things I am grateful for the positive outlook my Mother inspired in me from a young age. I invite myself daily to see positive possibility in my life.

Goddess on the Go Cards by Melissa Harris (art by Amy Sophia Marashinsky)


I am choosing to see my challenges as my Highest Good.

With gratitude for each day and what it holds, I open to what I might discover as I take each step, not just the ones that are easy and feel good, but also the ones that stretch me and call on all my strength and perseverance.

You are shining


Today I decided not to let old patterns rule my day. It’s gorgeous in New York today where I’m working so decided to take a running break late morning at a time when I had no meetings. (Usual pattern includes all sorts of excuses about another shower, other work I could/should be doing…)

OMG. It was abundantly delicious, especially when Sarah McLachlan came on my headphones singing “One Dream”. I played it over and over for my 30 minutes out in the sunshine…

breathing life into every heart, a hope for kinder times, find the strength, carry the courage, one dream that finds you standing here, you can make it, you got the whole world in your hands, you are airborne and free, leave all doubt behind…YOU ARE SHINING!

“One Dream”
We can feel a change is coming
Like a kiss upon a tide
Breathing life into every heart
A hope for kinder times
Cause we’ll walk this road together
Though at times we felt alone
In the struggle to leave dissent,
We find the strength yet uefined

You carry your courage, carry the history
Of all have gone before you
Wherever you come from
Your born of the one dream that finds you standing here

And you know you can make it (can make it)
You got the whole world in your hands (whole world in your hand)
And you’ve spent a lifetime working for this moment (working for this moment)
And you are shining
You’re all that you wanted to be

When you’re airborne and free
At peace with gravity
High above everyone can see
The spirit of human ecology
How your flame keeps burning
When you leave all doubt behind
It’s a giant leap for mankind
At peace we all shine

You carry your courage, carry the history
But all have gone before you
Wherever you come from
Your born of the one dream that finds you standing here

And you know that you can make it (you can make it)
You’ve got the whole world in your hands (whole world in your hands)
Cause you’ve spent your lifetime working for this moment
(you are shining)
And you are shining (you are shining)
You are all that you wanted to be
(you are shining)
And you are shining
You’re all that you wanted to be


The graceful giraffe guides me


Yesterday when packing for my upcoming business trip, I noticed for the first time that the beautiful scarf my friend Peg gave me for my birthday last year isn’t just a beautiful array of colorful flowers – the design features giraffes! How could I have missed that before? I got curious about what giraffes symbolize and found myself at these two sites for information: 1) Sun Signs and 2) Universal Symbolism. I will wear my scarf next week, inviting the giraffes to remind me to:

  • Move slowly, deliberately and with grace, propelled by clear intentions, deliberate in my speech
  • “Stick my neck out” and be there for my friends, family, colleagues
  • Believe the ‘sky is the limit’, reach as far as can in my endeavors, putting my best forward
  • Look far into the horizon, see how what I do today and the movements I make create my tomorrows, using my focus to choose the twists and turns on my path
  • Allow my insight and prudence to lead the way, trust in my instincts and listen to my heart

And, I will wrap myself in the friendship that enriches my life. Thanks, Peg!

Like the open field


Like the open field waiting to be planted, I rest with anticipation. 

The resting cornfields of Iowa inspired me today as I drove east to meet my high school friend, Peg, for a birthday lunch. Last year’s the drive was a bit different and inspired the red barn in snow.

Thank you, Peg, for your friendship of too many years to count

* I took this photo along I-80. The corn fields indeed go on and on, often in the form of gently rolling hills.

Opening the geography of one’s soul


How does the Universe know what I need?

Despite having a 3-day weekend to recharge my batteries, the past couple of days I’ve felt worn out, uninspired, with moments of just plain ‘blah’. These darker times sneak up on me. Not sure where they come from…the string of gray, cold winter days? the finally- slowing-down after sprinting a couple of work marathons? the pent up energy of not getting in a few weekly runs?

This morning when I picked up The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have by Mark Nepo, I thought ‘no coincidences’ (those of you who know me aren’t surprised by that phraseology). He delivered just the message I needed in his When Feeling Stuck entry for today:

The same stream of life that runs through the world runs through my veins.               – Rabindranath Tagore

“We are so achievement-oriented…” – oh, yes, definite yes

“…that we often surge right by the true value of relating to what’s before us,…” – I’m thinking it’s time to slow down…

“…because we think that accomplishing things will complete us,…” – goodness, how long my to-do checklist for today is!

“…when it is experiencing life that will.” – maybe what’s happening to me today is that I’ve gotten off the treadmill and am finally just feeling life again?

“…The nineteenth-century poet Gerard Manley Hopkins called this inner terrain ‘inscape’. And just as no landscape can flourish without sun and water, our inscape must be irrigated and drenched with many forms of life if we are to thrive.” – I like that ‘inscape’…what’s the weather like in there, what does the land look like, how is the environment engaging in the dance of life?

“…For life is not a matter of taste, but of awakening, not a matter of finding things pleasing or disturbing, but of finding things completing, not a matter of liking or disliking, but of opening the geography of one’s soul.” – This is medicine! Awakening, completing, opening

Thank you, Mark Nepo. You are a light!