My Samurai hike – A dream come true

For years I dreamt of travelling Japan and specially hiking the famous Nakasendo trail one of the oldest Samurai trails in the Japan Alps.

A network of trails first developed in the 8th Century connecting the capital of Edo (Tokyo) with regional towns from Tohoku down to Kyoto. The trail network reached its most-trafficked period during the 17th to 18th Centuries, when the Shogun rulers in Tokyo used it regularly, accompanied by their retinues of samurai warrior guards, giving the paths their unofficial moniker as the “Samurai Trail”.

It took me quite some time to prepare the travel itinerary by myself, must say “Thank God” for the smartphones, cause without them & WIFI, you couldn’t travel Japan as easy as today.

Japan to me is the Switzerland of Asia, incredibly beautiful, organized and clean as it can be.

Usually the travellers do 2/3 days in the Nakasendo trail from south up, but in the dates that I was there all “Riyokan” (a traditional Japanese style house or ‘inn’ icluding meals) were fully booked, so I decided to do the trail from north down. We started at the great city of Matsumoto, with a special visit to the museum and the art of Yayoi Kusama.

We hike around 20-25 kms per day going through the old villages and paths.

As we hiked into the hilly forest, crossing streams and passing rock formations and the ruins of ancient shrines, I was struck not so much by the natural beauty, but by the silence.

In some of the trail crossings, a large bell hung from a wooden frame. Beneath it, a sign in English instructed readers to “Ring the bell hard against bears”. We didn’t understand if it was a joke or really are many bears in the area around the forest, better no to think about it 🙂

We stayed at family run ryokan or minshuku, received in every one of them the traditional yukata robes and wooden geta sandals, sleeping on a futon rolled out on the tatami mat floor, this was the samurai dream I had long waited for.

The dinner at 6 pm – a kaiseki-style meal with meticulously prepared but tiny helpings of meats, vegetables and fruits and many new things for me, it was quite a discovery .

Every town – Post Town had something unique to them, Magome and Tsumago are the more famous of them, I loved the upper towns specially, less touristic.

A must in Japan and around the Nakasendo, are the Natural hot springs (温泉, onsen), quite an experience for a westeren people, Onsens are hot spring baths in many varieties, indoors and outdoors, gender separated and mixed, developed and undeveloped.

So I must say that now more than ever I beleive in writting your dreams, goals and contracts with yourself and for yourself. The card that keeps you on track is really good and it worked for me so it will work for you.

Mindset landlord’s game vs monopoly

In 1903, a woman called Lizzy Magie patented the board game that we now know as Monopoly – but she never gets the credit.

Lizzy Magie, inventor of the Landlord's Game, which we now know as Monopoly, in 1936.
Lizzy Magie, inventor of the Landlord’s Game, which we now know as Monopoly, in 1936. Photograph: Anspach Archives

One night in late 1932, a Philadelphia businessman named Charles Todd and his wife, Olive, introduced their friends Charles and Esther Darrow to a real-estate board game they had recently learned. The game didn’t have an official name: it wasn’t sold in a box, but passed from friend to friend. But everybody called it ‘the monopoly game’, but in fact it was the game designed by Elizabeth Magie.

Together with other friends, they played many times. One day, despite all of his exposure to the game, Darrow – who was unemployed, and desperate for money to support his family – asked Charles Todd for a written copy of the rules. Todd was slightly perplexed, as he had never written them up. Nor did it appear that written rules existed elsewhere.

In fact, the rules to the game had been invented in Washington DC in 1903 by a bold, progressive woman named Elizabeth Magie. But her place in the game’s folk history was lost for decades and ceded to the man who had picked it up at his friend’s house: Charles Darrow. Today, Magie’s story can be told in full. But even though much of the story has been around for 40 years, the Charles Darrow myth persists as an inspirational parable of American innovation – thanks in no small part to Monopoly’s publisher and the man himself. After he sold a version of the game to Parker Brothers and it became a phenomenal success, eventually making him millions, one journalist after another asked him how he had managed to invent Monopoly out of thin air – a seeming sleight of hand that had brought joy into so many households. “It’s a freak,” Darrow told the Germantown Bulletin, a Philadelphia paper. “Entirely unexpected and illogical.”

Lizzy Magie's original board design for the Landlord's Game, which she patented in 1903
Magie’s original board design for the Landlord’s Game, which she patented in 1903. Photograph: United States Patent and Trademark Office

To Elizabeth Magie, known to her friends as Lizzie, the problems of the new century were so vast, the income inequalities so massive and the monopolists so mighty that it seemed impossible that an unknown woman working as a stenographer stood a chance at easing society’s ills with something as trivial as a board game. But she had to try.Advertisement

Night after night, after her work at her office was done, Lizzie sat in her home, drawing and redrawing, thinking and rethinking. It was the early 1900s, and she wanted her board game to reflect her progressive political views – that was the whole point of it.

She lived in Prince George’s county, a Washington DC neighbourhood. Lizzie shared her house with a male actor who paid rent, and a black female servant. She was also intensely political, teaching classes about her political beliefs in the evenings after work. But she wasn’t reaching enough people. She needed a new medium – something more interactive and creative.

There was one obvious outlet. At the turn of the 20th century, board games were becoming increasingly commonplace in middle-class homes. In addition, more and more inventors were discovering that the games were not just a pastime but also a means of communication. And so Lizzie set to work.

She began speaking in public about a new concept of hers, which she called the Landlord’s Game. “It is a practical demonstration of the present system of land-grabbing with all its usual outcomes and consequences,” she wrote in a political magazine. “It might well have been called the ‘Game of Life’, as it contains all the elements of success and failure in the real world, and the object is the same as the human race in general seem[s] to have, ie, the accumulation of wealth.”

The Landlord's Game
The Landlord’s Game. Photograph: Tom Forsyth

Lizzie’s game featured play money and deeds and properties that could be bought and sold. Players borrowed money, either from the bank or from each other, and they had to pay taxes.

From its inception, the Landlord’s Game aimed to seize on the natural human instinct to compete. And, somewhat surprisingly, Lizzie created two sets of rules: an anti-monopolist set in which all were rewarded when wealth was created, and a monopolist set in which the goal was to create monopolies and crush opponents. Her vision was an embrace of dualism and contained a contradiction within itself, a tension trying to be resolved between opposing philosophies. However, and of course unbeknownst to Lizzie at the time, it was the monopolist rules that would later capture the public’s imagination.

In total, the game that Darrow brought to Parker Brothers has now sold hundreds of millions copies worldwide, and he received royalties throughout his life.

Lizzie was paid by Parker Brothers, too. When the game started to take off in the mid-1930s, the company bought up the rights to other related games to preserve its territory. For the patent to the Landlord’s Game and two other game ideas, Lizzie reportedly received $500 — and no royalties.

At first, Lizzie did not suspect the true motives for the purchase of her game. When a prototype of Parker Brothers’ version of the Landlord’s Game arrived at her home in Arlington, she was delighted. In a letter to Foster Parker, nephew of George and the company’s treasurer, she wrote that there had been “a song in my heart” ever since the game had arrived. “Some day, I hope,” she went on, “you will publish other games of mine, but I don’t think any one of them will be as much trouble to you or as important to me as this one, and I’m sure I wouldn’t make so much fuss over them.”

Eventually, though, the truth dawned on her – and she became publicly angry. In January of 1936 she gave interviews to the Washington Post and the Washington Evening Star. In a picture accompanying the Evening Star piece, she held up game boards from the Landlord’s Game and another game that had the word MONOPOLY written across its center four times in bold black letters; on the table in front of her was the now-familiar “Darrow” board, fresh out of the Parker Brothers box. The image of Lizzie painted by the reporter couldn’t have been clearer. She was angry, hurt and in search of revenge against a company that she felt had stolen her now-best-selling idea. Parker Brothers might have the rights to her 1924-patented Landlord’s Game, but they didn’t tell the story of her game invention dating back to 1904 or that the game had been in the public domain for decades. She had invented the game, and she could prove it.

It was to little avail. Much to Lizzie’s dismay, the other two games that she invented for Parker Brothers, King’s Men and Bargain Day, received little publicity and faded into board-game obscurity. The newer, Parker Brothers version of the Landlord’s Game appeared to have done so as well. And so did Lizzie Magie. She died in 1948, a widow with no children, whose obituary and headstone made no mention of her game invention. One of her last jobs was at the US Office of Education, where her colleagues knew her only as an elderly typist who talked about inventing games.

As Charles Darrow reaped the rewards of the game’s success, Lizzie Magie’s role in the invention of Monopoly remained obscure. But in 1973, Ralph Anspach, a leftwing academic who was under legal attack from Parker Brothers over his creation of an Anti-Monopoly game, learned her story as he researched his case, seeking to undermine the company’s hold on the intellectual property. The case lasted a decade, but in the end, Anspach prevailed, in the process putting Magie’s vital role in the game’s history beyond dispute – and building up an extraordinary archive of material, which forms the backbone of this account.

Time for a Change

By the end of year 2020, we all ask ourselves, is it the end of the pandemic? Is the end of this agony? Are we embracing the changes in our humanity and life?

For sure it was a stressful year, for almost everyone a difficult one, for others a year to work from home, for better or worst relationships and so on …

Now is the time to attract the change from within, to ask what is what you love to do, where to be, feel good about yourself, ask yourself and take action, in 2021 you can make those changes and embrace the abundance that will flow towards you.

Take a piece of paper and do as I suggest, magic will appear in your life.

  • Write down 3 things that you are grateful for in this strange year of 2020. (Being healthy, being courageous, having love …)
  • Write down a list of the things that make you angry, irritable, sad, unhappy and feeling bad.
  • Write a forgiveness sentences for all those things that bad influence you, for the pandemic, to let it go …
  • Write the goals, changes for good that you want to embrace in your life, focus on the good things that will make you prosper. Loved!

Take 3 deep breaths and burn this letter.

Release the energy within these words and let it go.

It is time for a change!

Mindset for a crazy 2020

Mindset and attitude are the filters through which you see the world. It determines how you spend your time, what decisions you make, and where you invest your resources.

If you’ve been following developments in AI, you know that we can train neural nets to do image recognition. The challenge with these neural nets is that they’re only as good as the data you feed them.

For example, if you show the neural nets thousands of pictures of cats, and then you show them a picture of a dog, the algorithm will tell you that the dog is actually a cat. It doesn’t know any better.

The same is true for our brains, which are also neural nets.

If you constantly feed your brain with negative perspectives, your outlook will be negative. You won’t know any better.

So, how are you training your neural net?

So, what shapes your mindset? What are the things that have you trapped thinking the way you do? What would you need to change or adapt?

The two key inputs that shape our mindsets are: the people we spend time with and the media we consume.

Just as you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, the same is true for ideas.

The news and media we consume are data that we allow to flow into our brains ,What is your news diet? What kind of movies or documentaries are you watching?

What books or blogs are you reading?

In times like this (Covid-19), we better be carefull with what we consume, read and watch.

Look into yourself, ask yourself questions about what is that you want, imagine, dream and focus on positive outcomes for you and your family. Write them down, visualize them and keep clear about the results, there is magic in this world.

Find your “Why”

Your “Why” Is Always Bigger Than You

So what is your “why” ?

What is the reason you get up in the morning and do what you do?

Is it to look after someone you love and care about…?

Is it to be able to help friends and people in need you really want to help…?

Is it to build a lifestyle with more time freedom so you can be with those that matter to you more often?

Whatever your reasons are…

Put them before you every day. And remind yourself constantly why you do what you do.

They will fuel you.

They will drive you.

And they will give you energy to do things that you never thought possible.

Write down in a piece of paper NOW, without too much thinking your Whys.

Keep it close, in your wallet, look at them every day, Magic will appear in your life.

Business Meditation

Most meditations are geared toward relaxation, inner values,
and spiritual awareness.  You can use it in a different way for concentration and
affirmation strategies to increase work performance.

Try this “recipe” at the beginning of a busy workday, or when
you are feeling stressed out by a specific problem:

Find a single word that captures the quality that will help you

Use that word in this phrase: “I breathe in _____.”

As you breathe out, you can use another positive word, or
you can think of a quality you want to eliminate.

Examples: “I breathe in confidence; I breathe out stress.” Or “I breathe in
power, I breathe out integrity.”

Repeat this phrase for at least 60 seconds. You’ll immediately feel more capable of
achieving any goal you desire. Why? Your ancient emotional
brain responds to any thought you have – positive or
negative, real or imaginary – as though it was an actual
stimulus in the world.

Give it a try now!

Buen Camino! to Santiago de Compostela

Buen Camino this is the word that you hear and say all the way (in every part of the Camino, Saint James Way, the french camino, the north camino, the portugues and many others trough Santiago the Compostela).

I just finished 6.5 days from Valenca Portugal to Santiago, part of the portugues camino. It is a remarkable experience, hiking around 20 km per day with 7 kilos of backpack, meeting people form around the world, every corner of the world.

I flew to Porto which is a stunning city, beautiful and lively and got to taste the Ribeira and Verde wines from the Duoro area. Arriving at Valenca by train in the afternoon, we (Rami and I) started to walk the pilgrim’s way to Santiago, always looking at the yellow arrows and the symbol of Compostela.

We arrive at the old medieval wall and the old city of Valenca late at night, found ourselves alone in time, surprised by the beauty and calm of the place but in a rush to get to Tui around 5 km away in time to the hotel.

We crossed the bridge above the Duoro river, which later understood had an incredible history between Spain and Portugal during all years.

A stunish Galician girl played the Gaita for us in the forest, and told me that her grandmother use to crossed the river with goods under her long skirt in Franco’s time in the 50’s and 60’s.

Walked pass nice parks at night and arrived to a medieval city of Tui at 11 pm. Stonish!!

Our host was expecting us in the incredible Torre de Xudeo, which I felt touch by the name of the place and my ancestors. A strange feeling being in that place late at night.

Woke up early with a good breakfast and started walking towards Porriño. Not bad for the first 20 km, nice hike and then it struck me, a lot of people on the way, a huge group of loudly italians, many 70’s old couples from Germany, England, Canada, many group of women, many by themselves of all ages few with skirts, 2 couples from Catalonia, mexican old and young ladies and many more.

At the beginning it bothered me to walk along so many people, because it drawn my attention towards them, after 15 kms started to pay attention to the way.

Arrive at Porriño which is a small town in Galicia. Usually in Spain all towns looked deserted  around noon, but after 5 pm all come alive, so this peatonal road, main road became very lively with children and families.

Next was the town of Redondela, nice place close to the Atlantic cost in Galicia, walked around 20 kms, and seeing that there was no albergue or hotel close to the sea, we decided to continue to Cesantes, further away.

Found a fantastic private house for pilgrims called A Vella with few rooms, and we got the best A room with a View.

Great host that tell you stories. Very warm and nice people.

The walk to the beach surprise me, because I wasn’t expecting to get so close to the Atlantic and just had this remarkable sunset that we had.

In the morning started to head towards Pontevedra. Ohh such a treat this city is.

The second largest in Galicia, I didn’t learn anything before comming, so it was the best surprise to have. Gorgeous city a fantastic casco aintiguo, plenty of great Cathedrals and churches.  We were lucky to find a room in the Plaza de la Verdura, I must say this city is a must in Galicia, just get lost in the old city, drink caña, cerveza o vino and just relax from the long hike.

We were told by chance to go the museum of arts El Sexto in Pontevedra and even so we were exhausted we visited this amazing place, again it struck me the quality and great art of the Gallegos, it is also FREE.





At this time my feet were aching, it is not easy to wake up in the morning and be ready for another half marathon, but it is so worthy and fulfill the way that you just get going, the moment you are in the path and see all these pilgrims walking by, you forget everything. A smile appears in your face.

Met two gallegos from Bayona that explain to me about the Horreos.  All foreigners asked themselves what is this?. We all had different assumptions about it, Horreo is a typical granary from the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula built in wood or stone, keep corn or potatos above so the mice couldn’t eat it.




The same with the lavaderos women used to gather around them to do their laundry in the past.


A lot of the forest areas we crossed today were full of eucaliptos (eucalyptus), the smell remainds me of Bogota Colombia, were I was born.

In the way you see new faces, people from before, you see a lot of bicigrimos, pilgrims on bikes, when they come down a hill make some noise and seems that there is a party in town. Always with Buen Camino!

I walked pass a 3 generation guys, the grandfather, the adult son and a boy, love to see the way the walked one after the other, the grandfather looked the best in shape, what a remember trip this will be for all of them!

Had a nice chat with a couple from Vancouver, Vincent and Huan Le (Juanita to me!), she is 73 and walks like a young woman! Also with Gerard and Lucy grandparents of 6 from Canada, all speak also french with this funny accent.

Arriving to Caldas de Reis ( Termal springs) I had a treat to Rami my husband, booked at the Balneario Acuña a building that was built in the XIX, had a nice treatment to relax and a swimming pool with heated water, very good. Nice stone bridge.

I was lucky not to have any blisters in my feet, just a litle tired, every morning you smell foot cream all over the place!!

So we headed towards Padron, beautiful scenery, bushes, types of trees, now I am enjoying every part of it, I walked better, have a nice rythm, say Buen Camino to new faces and also to old faces, another 20 kms and arrive to this empty and sad city, it is by the river with a road of trees that can be gorgeous, but I saw and felt sadness, many shops closed, a lot of signs se vende, se alquila, not pilgrims in the roads where are they??  Few restaurants opened at 8 pm, so we sat in one of them and by chance all my new friends from Canada arrived at the same one (maybe the only one open) and had a great dinner together! This is Saint James way.

Next and last day for us towards Santiago de Compostela, around 24 kms, rainy day, put on our rainy covers, here you see all types of covers, it is a whole new business, some are extremely practical and some are really uncomfortable.

It is nice to walk with rain, it changes the scenery completely, the colours change and the smell and noises are different. Of course I loved it because was only one day, I understood that who ever started the way on a day like this can have a week of rain, so painful.

It is a long day and you prepared yourself  to the big destination, took quite a while inside Santiago to arrive to the Cathedral but once you arrive, ohh the feeling of joy it is enormous even with the rain.

I made it, I loved it. In Spanish they say “Tu pasas por el Camino o el Camino pasa por ti”.  (You go trough the path or the path goes trough you)

I read in a pilgrim’s post that the best way to end it, is it staying at the Hostal de Reyes (Parador) next to the Cathedral, so I was lucky to booked it 3 weeks in advance, and it is a treat!! One of the oldest hotels in the world, 500 years of hospitality.

They still offer 10 free meals daily to the first pilgrims that arrive with the Compostela. Well done.

It was on my list of The Card that Keeps you on Track. Keep dream big and small but keep doing it.


You deserve to hear it for yourself and by yourself

Is your self-talk positive and uplifting, or is it negative and destructive?

There are things that we need to say to ourselves that will help us face every day with our heads a little higher and our hearts a little lighter.

Here are 4 simple phrases that I encourage you to use as you face the new day:


It’s always flattering when we receive compliments about our looks, especially on days when we feel a little under par with our self esteem.

We can also try being the bearer of good news by telling ourselves that we are beautiful. Yeah, it feels great hearing it from others, but it also does wonders for our soul when we acknowledge our own beauty.

You have to see your own glow before you can truly radiate it for others to see.


When you believe in yourself and the goodness in your heart, it’s easier to make it even truer.
Telling yourself that you are good will help keep you on the path to greatness.

It’s different when you just know it, and when you voice it out or you affirm its truth.

When you say it out loud, it becomes bolder, and it becomes the ruling principle of everything that you do.


To get yourself psyched and ready to take on your day, you need to tell yourself that you’re strong and capable of meeting deadlines, overcoming hurdles, and basically ready for anything that comes along!

If you wake up feeling tired or defeated from yesterday’s difficulties, then you’re already miles behind even before your day starts.

But if you start it right, with thoughts of being at your best, armed and at the ready, then nothing can get you down.


Sometimes we can get a bit insecure, especially when we see that there are people busier than us, doing more things with their lives than we are.
We are more than capable of getting what we want for ourselves.

You are wonderful believe how great you are.

Anything your heart desires can come true if you believe that you can make it come true.