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Fundraising for “Kids” Project is ongoing!!!

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How to conect more with Nature?

No one wants to watch the world getting sick, but nobody seems to know very well what´s the solution.

Long time ago Maslow introduced the Pyramid needs, going from the basic ones like food, to the more complex ones (like the sense of belonging). I believe (like other authors) that what distinguishes us as a species are emotions and for many reasons we are losing the habit of practice them. This was the main reason that inspired me to create an Emotion Tool Kit for Families. But, if I propose to create an Emotion Tool Kit for Families, I have to go back to basics, leave the most complex level of things and go to the base of the bases. If necessary, go back to our ancestors and build from there. It was this existential crisis that attacked me in the middle of the Colombian Amazon and put me in contact with nature. It was there that I looked at nature as “a place” where the basics (like food) and the complex (like the feeling of belonging) merge. So today, I focus on the benefits of connecting with nature as a solution, not only for global warming, but also for emotional well-being.

The typical western formality was lost when I felt a swaying hammock at 4:15 a.m. Rogelio’s granddaughters wanted me to wake up before sunrise so we could hear the nighty birds and look for the Jaguar’s eyes.

It´s hard to describe how it feels when you face a rainforest like the Amazon.

With limited access, it is the tiny rivers that crosses the jungle and lead us to deeper places. On the banks, many indigenous communities try to pick up the rhythm of “plata” (money) and thus mingle their values. Among the densest forest there are other tribes, who hide in indigenous territory and fight daily to keep their customs away from the occidental and white people´s law. The Colombian World Organization registers a total of 87 indigenous groups in which 18 are in danger of extinction.

Here we wake up before the sun rises, bathe when it still warms us, discover north and south in it´s shade; we make campfires for the ajuri (collective meal) and drink the pajuaru (fermented cassava drink). We hike for hours to find fresh water and drink with our shell hand. We sleep lined up in the amak when the sun goes down and we count stars. We also pray for frogs not to procreate that nights, otherwise they unite and practice a deafening chorus.

Rogelio’s family is an indigenous family living in one of the Amazon River flows and welcomed me. They live in houses near each other, built on stakes and facing the river. Rogélio belongs to the Cocama tribe.

The story says that Cocamas suffered a rejection of an intergenerational ethnic identity and led to a disintegration, from which grew the marriages between people of different groups, mainly the Ticuna. The Cocama communities are formed by relatives with strong ties and the proximity of the houses demonstrates their genealogical relationship. Women often prepare food and help their husbands in the agriculture and family gardens. Fishing and hunting are practiced by all.

Rogelio is only 85 years old (this is how he introduces himself, adding that he is ready to marry again) at the age of 11 discovered that he was a shaman “It is not enough to know the cycles of nature, to be a Shaman, i had to accept my gift and learn how to use it.”

The shaman is someone who manifests unusual powers, such as the gift of invoking spirits or the power of plants, an altered state of consciousness. Communication with these aspects of life is achieved through drum beats, dances, dreams and many herbs.

He admitted that at that time life in the Amazon became frightening, since he was receiving many revelations from nature, so he decided to go out and get some air. 11 years later he returned home, already with a medical course and many miles of nature on the way. He felt the weight of the legacy, but nothing was so heavy, as the shame of facing a mother who never left the house while waiting for him. Today he lives in a another side of the river, and is in that place that he practices its shamanism and heals people and more people. He told me that only with what nature gives us, he has healed thousands of people, some with simple diseases, such as floe, others with complicated diseases, such as cancers.

Jessica, 9, and Maria, 6 (granddaughters of Rogelio) were my guides. It has not yet been discovered if any inherit the same gift as the grandfather. Although the knowledge is shared by the elements of the family, the gift is only revealed in a ceremony when they are 11 years old.

From the time I arrived they tried to teach me every little sound and movement of that river flows. They were the ones who showed me 36 possible jokes with only one grasshopper. They presented me with the eatable mushrooms and the poisonous ones. With them, I learned the power of the “Dragon’s Blood” and the divine spirit of the Ayoasca plant. With them I learned to fish tadpoles. It was also Jessica who helped me to dive on the shores of the Amazon and recognize the noise of a canoe paddle to hide. After all a women deserves privacy when bathing in the river. The awareness and connection we must have, when crossing a stream populated by crocodiles and anacondas is not on the screen, it is a fact. Cooperation among all a real need.

These girls have shown me that it is important to look at nature, not as a whole, but as a starting point. If Mary loved the little animals of the lamas, Jess vibrated with the plants and species of grasshoppers. Rogelio depended on the seasons, and his children from the tides of the rivers. The way they deal with time and interact with nature is undoubtedly inspiring.

These children play outdoors and live from and with Nature. This interaction shows that there are cycles of life, seasons of the year, that things have their time: birth, growth or development, and death.

The engagement of this family with nature gives them a greater awareness of protection, preservation and conservation. After all Nature, for them is like a human being.

When I realized that one of the millenium’s concerns remains the environment and global warming. That most of the children’s responses from Sierra Leone, Japan, Portugal, Colombia and Brazil to the question “what advice would you give to adults to be happier? It was: PROTECT NATURE!! “I decided to include it in the kit and to understand how the Portuguese live this topic.

In the United States a study shows that American children have less contact with nature than prisoners. Another study shows that Portuguese children have an average of 63 minutes of contact with the open pure air. The mains reason for this goes back to insecurity, to dangers of neighborhood life… Already the impact of this gap between new generations and Mother Nature is overwhelming: At the level of the immune system (deficiencies of Vitamins like Vit D) as the NO engagement and protection that children end up having, with an entity with which they do not interact and they do not know , Nature.

Because future generations deserve to grow up with meaningful interactions with the planet, deserve to grow up healthy, physically, socially and emotionally, here are some tips on how we can promote our children´s connection with nature and contribute to solve this millennium concern: environmental protection.

  1. Do not look at nature as a single entity. There are people who love birds, others who prefer insects. Discover the interests of everyone at home. Take a walk with your children and see what hypnotizes them, whether the flowers, the insects or the types of wood textures. Enjoy the fact that a piece of wood can hypnotizes more than a game of Ps4.
  2. In family observe the sky at various times of the day: Morning, afternoon and evening. Identify the big differences, make a drawing where everyone collaborates.
  3. Ideal program for an end of day or Sunday: Walk in a park with vegetation. Take sales and one to one make the directions ride. Blindfold, the goal is to use all senses to discover the park through smells, sounds or sensations on the skin.
  4. Take a walk in a forest with active hearing. The mission? Discover the noise of the water or a fountain and drink with a “shelly” hand.
  5. Create a season ritual: Celebrate the beginning of each season with a walk in the field. Throughout this tour the family is encouraged to live through their senses (with their eyes closed, feel the smells, sounds and temperatures of each season. A visit to the park closer to home is ideal. Ideally a park with tree, flowers and other elements of nature other than a swings park).
  6. Take a walk to pick up leaves. Make a showcase of dry leaves.
  7. Make a fire.
  8. Do a clean up plastic in beach near by

Livro”Uma caixa de primeiros socorros das Emoções”

Sinopse do Livro:


Saber gerir as emoções é uma tarefa fundamental para o nosso bem-estar. No entanto, a sociedade ocidental privilegia a racionalidade e negligencia a educação emocional, e por isso muitos de nós não sabemos sequer identificar e compreender as emoções, e faltam-nos ferramentas adequadas para lidar com elas. Ao longo deste livro, a psicóloga Maria Palha ajuda o leitor a construir o seu próprio Kit SOS das emoções. Se fizer um corte na mão certamente que tem em casa uma caixa de primeiros socorros com um penso rápido. E o que acontece quando se sente triste ou frustrado? Quando não sabe lidar com a culpa, a solidão, ou o medo do futuro? Uns procuram ignorar as emoções negativas, outros deixam-se arrastar por elas, sem controlo. Com este livro vai passar a ter uma caixa, pessoal e intransmissível, de primeiros socorros para o seu bem estar mental e emocional.Uma caixa que inclui técnicas e métodos que a autora foi acumulando ao longo de anos a dar consultas e em missões humanitárias, sobretudo em zonas de conflito armado. Com exemplos de vida reais e conselhos práticos, a autora ajuda o leitor a reconhecer, monitorizar e gerir as suas emoções, e a ser mais feliz

Pode comprar o livro numa livraria perto de si ou encomendar autografado pela autora online:

Preço: 14,90euros

Changing year, Changing Life, Changing your hair: How to deal with changes?

New year, New life. But when we talk about Project Kids, new year means different continent.
I land in another continent with Project Kids (know how they can support in the Projects section / Kids project)

This time I left Far East Japan and landed in Latin America, more precisely in Colombia.

In the last chronicle I spoke about losses. I have shared one activity for adults and another for children, so that we can all develop emotional skills to deal with loss. Today, taking advantage of the new year and all the resolutions that it involves I focus in change.

Latin America, and in this case Colombia, appears in this project for several reasons.

The first is that the idea is to create an emotional tool KIT for families, enriched with children’s tips, children´s from contexts that required them to improve certain emotional competencies.

The second reason is related to numbers. The Gallup Institute shared a study that shows that this continent has the largest register of pleasurable emotions experienced in everyday life. Colombia is in second place (I dont resist sharing a curiosity about this study, the fact that Afghanistan  has highest rate of laughter given each day – but today we will not go there).

The third and more focused reason is that, besides being on the list of countries with the greatest register of pleasurable emotions, Colombia is also the country with the largest number of internally displaced people in the world due to conflicts. I would say that these facts transform Colombia into a true incubator of change managers.

With a population of 48 million in 2014 the records showed that about 5.4 million people had been forced to leave their homes and change their lives due to conflicts.

The nearly 50 years of instability and violence caused by paramilitaries by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – F.A.R.C. – and the drug cartels were at the bottom of these numbers. If I say that the country’s biggest narco-trafficker, Pablo Escobar, died only in 1993 and the 67th peace agreement between the FARC and the government was only approved in 2016, I can say that this past is still very much present in the Colombian day to day life. And I feel that I only realized this when I met Jose.

José is an 87-year-old hunter and accept the challenge of taking me to the village where I had to interview children. Along our way he told me that he was Pablo Escobar’s private hunter. Whenever Pablo visited that bush José was the one that hunted for his men “although he had his hands with blood, he had a great soul. We need more people with souls, “shared José.

The typical Colombian is the one who is born in Bogotá, takes his parents and moves to La Guajira, spends some years in Guatapé with his wife, of course. He lives and have children in Quibdó, but his current tax address is with Leticía.

Meringue, salsa, religion and family are essential to carry on and to deal with all the life changes.

Without comparison, but with many similarities, we can see how Colombia can add value to Portugal, especially in what concerns to “reinvent”, change, innovate, without breaking with values ​​or tradition.

Portugal, is one of the oldest countries in Europe, with a strong culture of tradition and religious rituals difficult to break through. Strong mentalities, with absolute certainties, conservative and afraid to change. However we are also a significant receptor of migratory populations, from African countries, Brazil, Ukraine and even China. And there are more than five million Portuguese spread around the world. This fact shows us that we should and can develop better change management skills.

In addition, we live in a world that demands a constant reinvention of ourselves, our sources of income, our family models, our strategies, concepts and prejudices. A world where change is the rule and not the exception.

I believe that what Colombia has to show us is essentially its capacity for change, keeping its values ​​of worship untouchable: the Catholic Church, the sense of family and hospitality.

This has shown me that after all, changing, innovating, daring to be different, does not mean loss of identity, a break in values ​​or tradition. On the contrary, innovating, trying to do differently, can bring to a culture a practical dimension, of humanity and empathy for others, more genuine and liberating relationships and less prejudice.

In times, a Portuguese friend told me that every 10 years he changed his profession. He had been a cook, a photographer, and now he was preparing to take the nursing course. In fact these life paths are not common in Portugal and can even be judged as something “without direction”, “without career”. Social pressure can be of such a heavy order that they are even discouraged.

As soon as I arrived in Bogotá I met many people living their sixth / seventh life.

I admit that I always had a great admiration for those who are able to use change to grow and develop as Human Beings.

Mama Gloria, 58, Colombian, with a brilliant look and easy laughter, after a disastrous marriage (but who gave her 4 beautiful children) decided to ask for a divorce, to leave Bogotá and to be based in Guatapé. From his home he made a small local lodging. He told me that after years of solitude and isolation in marriage, he longed to know the world, to know how to live differently. Since he was terrified of flying, the best way would be to have the world come to his house.
In fact, in an accommodation with only 8 beds, sometimes it had 8 different nationalities. He told me that he had not felt so well in a long time, that it had been the most drastic change of his life, a change that had brought him more resistance and fear, but to what more self-realization and honesty he had achieved.

Sónia, a 47-year-old music teacher, also marked me for her change. She was the seventh wife of a family of 8 sisters born in a village near Putumayo. The region of Putumayo is one of the regions that still suffers from insecurity due to narco-traffic. About 2 years ago, Sonia, decided to leave Mocoa and to be based in the middle of the mountain of Sierra Nevada, in a land of 1 hectare inherited by its daughter. Sonia has always believed that life can be of more personal and spiritual growth, but for this it has to be done in community with others.

So he decided to build a small hut (bamboo and plastic) on the ground and start planting coffee. Even without having a true agricultural knowledge, he decides to make his small house available to travelers interested in collaborating with the new coffee production. I know that in 2 years, Sónia has a cabin with more than 10 hammocks to sleep in and is often crowded. Volunteers help her take care of her coffee. During the days I was there interviewing children, I had the privilege to start the morning with the best coffee in the world. The coffee of the Estancia Madre Terra was made by one of the women with one of the most accomplished smiles I have ever known, that of Sonia.

All changes begin with an “urgency,” an urgent need to change. They all carry with them emotions, some pleasurable others difficult.

While pleasures are usually well accepted, the difficult ones are tended to be rejected. Because of this, changes bring so many challenges to those who live them.

Therefore, because we are men of habits and comfort, I decided to include this dimension in the interviews with children.

What have you learned from a change you had in your life?

The 7-year-old Japanese, like her 6-year-old cousin, said it was really important to help other people that when we do, we stop thinking about our problem and feel better about the changes. Shizuku (5 years old) argued against saying that helping others helped, but asking for help from an adult could also be a good idea.

Marta and Diogo, Portuguese brothers aged 5 and 7, both said that it was best not to be alone. Play with the cousins. They said that with the divorce of the Parents began to stay in the house of the cousins ​​and today it seems that instead of two brothers, they are 5.

In Colombia, Javier, 6, shared that in these moments he is very angry, but usually prays, and realizes that God hears when he stops being angry, he can stop crying and start solving things.

Simona, 9, told me that it cost her a lot when she lost her journal, but one thing she learned from this change was that she had an opportunity to renew it and create a new way of registering her things.

The only five-year-old Julia advises her to stop drinking so much coffee and to start drinking tea. It costs less and it’s easier to stop crying.

Guga, 7, said the best thing to let us be afraid when things change is to have a dog. “When I was without my grandmother every day I would go to the garden, play with my dog ​​until I got used to the idea that he would not come back.”

Usually when one puts the hypothesis that a change is approaching, apprehension, anxiety, or fear, are the first emotions to emerge. Faced with change, there is a tendency to resist in order to try to preserve the old patterns, forms of thought and action. If it is a new condition, it may require new strategies. During a period (and this varies from person to person) the tendency will be to negotiate, that is, I try to use my old strategies, I see if they work, I try to readjust them, and I feel bad about the readjustment I have to make an adult always feels that he must know how to do everything, and this type of flexibility is often felt as a test of his performance and therefore it is a stadium with many emotions such as fear, low self-esteem, feeling of “not being good enough” , doubts and insecurities regarding the future). After this moment we enter into an acceptance phase “okay, this is different, but it does not have to be worse” and soon afterwards there is usually a creative exploration phase, where one begins to try to do things differently, without this bring difficult emotions. On the contrary, it often brings a feeling of “This can even be fun”, “I am capable” until the change eventually sets in.

Here is a playful activity that we can do at home and that can help develop some skills.

Activity “A recipe book for the changes”

In this activity you will create a cookbook to deal with changes.
You must have a book with blank sheets. Drawing material and collages
The idea is that the family identifies moments of change, situations that the family has passed and have demanded change. Then, each one must identify personal situations where they felt a change, or that they had to change. Everyone must identify at least 1 situation.

After a list of changes, everyone should write and illustrate at least one recipe for emotional management:

A Recipe able to soothe the heart and help you feel better with this change.
A recipe able to calm the thoughts that came with the change, help you have quiet thoughts, without worries.
A recipe that can reduce the physical reactions we normally feel with the changes, The knots in the belly or the malaise that you feel in the body, and that can help you sleep well every night.

Good changes for 2018


How to deal with Loss since childhood

I was bewildered. But, by the way I never understood very well why is it so common to hear “I lost my north” whenever someone feels lost. I think that this reflection did not begin with what happened to me in southern Japan, it came from the time I lived in the southern hemisphere in Brazil. There, I often felt that this expression was somehow a way of prejudiced and misleading in relation to the south. Why would only the North give meaning to things, to our life? Why were not we accustomed to say “I found my South?”

Anyway, philosophies aside I was on the island of Southeast Japan in Kyushu, when I got sick.

Lately in “Project Kids” I talked about the importance of dreams to children. I already gone through tolerance, social harmony or empathy, and today I will focus in loss. Soon I will go to Colombia, where I will interview even indigenous children (you can follow all details in

I decided to visit Southern Japan at last minute. There were many many reasons to visit this region, from the natural beauty, to surf, the active volcanoes like Kagushima, or the sacred spots where Japanese history started. Chintoists Gods of the Sun, islands populated by ghosts, ancient seaports, cities full of natural stream baths, like Beppu, or even the largest sacred waterfalls in Takachi-ho where I fell ill.

It is also the place where there were bloody wars, like the samurai one. I suspect that unconsciously, this was the biggest reason that took me to the South. I couldn’t leave Japan without finding some Samorai descent children.

I had just arrived from a Za Zen retreat (where I learned to practice meditation and followed the rituals of the Japanese monks who lived there for more than two decades). Before I left Beppu, where the only rule was to try all the natural hot springs baths for 2 days. That’s why I felt invigorated for many more interviews with children.

Takachi-ho was the only village where I had no contact and I also knew that it would be difficult to find English speakers. Characterized by being a remote and sacred place, its legend also made it unmissable.  The legend happed in a cave near the big cascades of this village, where the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu, brought light to the darkness world.

According to the legend, Amaterasu was angry with the bad behavior of her brother, and for this reason she decided to hide in a cave (now considered sacred), taking the light and leaving the world in the dark. Alarmed with the latest happenings, the other Gods gathered to decide what to do to illuminate everything again. Until one of the gods, Ame-in-Uzume, decided to dance to Amaterasu, leaving her surrendered and, above all, curious. Motivating her to leave the basement. At this moment, she not only left, but returned the light to the world.

This is exactly how I felt when I became ill in Takachi-ho. Unable to move, in a remote family house, about 5 kms from the small village. In the darkness, hoping that some Ame-no-Uzume could help me to explain to the responsible of the house (Non English speaker) that I needed a doctor.

Three days later, without a doctor or Ame-no-Uzume, I was able to regain some strength to catch the famous 15-hour Shinkazen that would take me to Tokyo airport.

I have a belief that in Europe we are not used to be seriously ill, and if we talk about losing the north, we usually talk about losing things, money, friends or people, and we never include disease or trust in this topic. Perhaps in the southern hemisphere, when we speak about losses, disease arises as one of the most important things that can loose… perhaps…

If we look to Portugal in the last month of October, we losted more than 50,000 hectares of forest due to fires, more than 108 mortal victims and hundreds of displaced people.We even lost more than 80% of Pinhal D’el Rei and only in Tocha we had more than 25 thousand euros of dept.

We this calamity I would say that it is urgent for the Portuguese society to learn how to deal with loss, especially in moments like this. Its urgent to understand what can happen when we lose something, how we process this losses, what we may feel, and what we can do to recover from what seems irretrievable.

On the top of all this, we should teach our children, future generations, to do the same, so they are able to create their emotional savings.

Losing is a part of life as well as winning. And this is why I’ve included a few questions about loss in the interviews i´m doing to children around the world.

I ask if they have lost something and I also ask them some prescription on how to deal with the loss.

I believed that Sierra Leonean children were the real loss specialists, given the generations they lived in civil war or the recent outbreak of Ebola in 2015, but as always I was surprised.

Answers like “Wait for it to pass. It always ends up happening “,” Surfing with friends “or” Doing things we like until we feel better “were some of the answers in Sierra Leone.

In Japan prowled “writing a letter makes you feel better”, “lose? Never lost anything … just a trolley … ”

But in Portugal the stories were different: “when we loose things, we can always buy other things … but when we loose people … I know… if I had a molecule of that person I would create her again.”, “I lost my dog, I think if I had a room full of puppies to give me licks, I would feel better again.” “I lost my confidence when I discovered that santa claus did not exist …. but that was when I was 2 years old, of course (child is 9 years old now) I also saw that the socks we put in the chimneys are always too small to be his socks, but then I accepted. Sometimes we have to accept things as they are. ”

When we talk about losses, perhaps because it is a difficult topic, we are hardly aware of what we can lose. I would say that the first step of recovery is to identify what we feel we loose, then identify how I feel about it, and finally, activate strategies to deal with the situation.

Moving from theory to practice.

We can lose 5 important things: People, Objects, Animals, Trust and Health.

Each of these losses refers to different emotions, with different layers. If there are rules when we speak of losses, it is undoubtedly the fact that there are no assumptions about what one should or should not feel. Some of the most common emotions when faced with a loss are: anger, anger, anxiety, fear, calmness, contentment, sadness, acceptance, denial.

Here is an activity you can do with the kids at home and an activity for adults.

For children from 6 to 10 years old (also for older children, but not for younger ones).

  1. Illustrate the story of what I lost:

Together you and the child should fill the following story:

1.1 When I lost …

1.2 I was sad because …

1.3 I remember that …

1.4 I was happy when …

1.5 I felt sad when …

1.6 One funny thing I remember right now is …

1.7 What other people told me at the time was …

1.8 What made me feel better at the time was …

After filling in the history of loss, you can illustrate, with cutouts, drawings and collages.

2.For Adults:

During the 3 months following a major loss, there is often a deal of emotional instability. However, there are a number of exercises that can be done that can calm those emotions. And like all the adults who have suffered the impact of the country’s fire losses deserve a special treat, here is an exercise that, over these 3 months, can help transform some of the difficult emotions that are experienced at this stage.

Here goes:

Imagine you were given the opportunity to create the ideal village / town / village. A place that could give you more quality of life in several levels.

Answer the instructions:

  1. Services: What kind of services would you like your new locality to have?
  2. Places with nature. How did you like them to be? Near or far from your home? Affordable, green or wet? Just a lake, or a beach?
  3. Transport. Would you like to ride your bike, your car, your horse, or just walk? Would it be a place with easy access or difficult?
  4. Now imagine the relationship between neighbors. How would you like people who lived closer to you to relate? Would there be a community association? Just occasional grocery shopping with shy greetings?
  5. And children: A place with many or few children?
  6. The services. Were there many services, few? What kind of services? Just the essentials more than that? Would you like to provide some service in your community?

Healing of difficult emotions is possible and this is an activity that may fit you.