versión español aquí
I met Meri, as co-founder and president of Casa Eslava at a meeting of NGOs in Barcelona many years ago; she seemed omnipresent in a variety of intercultural activities in Barcelona. Little by little we had been discovering her many-sided personality: writer, storyteller, author and actress of mini plays, organizer of international folklore festivals, therapeutic workshops and soul coach. After nine years of leading the association Casa Eslava she left us speechless having decided to leave Barcelona and make her first around the world trip.
On her return, she invited us to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the association that continues to function despite the absence of the president. I could not afford to miss this opportunity and invited her to give me an interview.
Nadia: Could you present your life by numbers?
Meri: One granddaughter, two sons, one around the world trip, three books, one blog and 58 years
Nadia: “Love is the only thing that grows when shared.” Meri, for me this phrase describes you. Great heart with a broad smile, an excellent trainer and blogger (blog.knowmadsfamily.com), regressive therapist, writer and a friend. Restless soul traveling around the world. For me, you were always a fairy godmother sharing love and knowledge. You took me on the coaching training path, and I’m very grateful for it.
Meri: I am very happy for the possibility to have this influence in your life, but I believe that sooner or later, you would be on the same path. Where the heart leads us, there we come in this life. I’ve read that you had received a gold medal of the European Association of Economics and Competitiveness for the professional career with an acknowledgment of merits, relevant services and work for the European Union in the coaching sector. It is a well-deserved prize, and apart from this, I am glad that recognition has come to the hands of a coach who is involved in many humanitarian activities.
Nadia: When I think how to define you, I get words like cheerful, adventurous, calm but at the same time active, familiar and affectionate, positive… full of energy.
Meri: Some people define me as stubborn, confusing persistence with being obstinate. Once the goal is specified, I will not lose sight of it even if it takes ten years to adapt it to the real situation, I will wait, but I will not easily leave it unfulfilled. My first coaching course I did online, at a time where this profession was not yet known in Europe. Often, seeing the word “Coach” on my business card, people asked me if I was training Barcelona club. But I was not discouraged, I continued to learn from world leaders and later from Spanish experts, and gradually I created my Coaching Puzzle.
Nadia: And it’s not just any puzzle. You have learned from Robert Dilts, Stephen Gilligan, T. Harv Eker, Joe Dispenza among others, also by Miguel Ángel Romero and José Pedro García. And now your last piece of training has been Brian Weiss and his past-life regression therapy.
Meri: Yes, our soul is eternal, and in remembering what had happened to us in previous lives, we help it to solve more easily the obstacles of the present life. Fast progress has brought us consequences, every day we have more information and less communication. We are losing our relationship with the Soul. We have left the Ego as the protagonist, and the noise made by many egos in conflict blurred out a vision of the world. The Soul does not dare to speak; the wisdom of the heart is not heard. Words like love, respect, pity, empathy are words of books; life is lived by opening step by nudging. We need to make a distance from the Ego and speak with the Soul, and there the shouting is not understood. The Soul whispers and understands only tenderness.
Nadia: You talk a lot about Soul in all your books. I have read “The Princess with Braids” and “Slav Soul” and the tenderness is on every page.
Meri: I am a Soul explorer, I have always been interested in the stories of others, apart from explaining mine. I have a great curiosity to hear other minds talking about their way to love. Everything, pain, and happiness begins and ends with Love. And when we can relive it, through our histories, it is time to speak whispering to the Soul. According to Thomas Mur in his book “Care of the Soul” therapists have a homeopathic role and not allopathic. By regressing to past lives we do not heal the heart, but we facilitate communication with the problem that hurts now, but whose roots are in the distant past. Often having more intelligence and education does not help us; it is all about having a harmonious relationship between all aspects of our personality and the Soul to progress; there the logic of reason has no place.
Nadia: How do you define the Soul from a therapeutic point of view?
Meri: There is no need for definition; it is like a Poetry that is not sought, only seen through intuition, felt by the heart. By letting materialism reign our reality we move away from Soul and only remember it in times of pain.
Nadia: Your philosophy and attitude in life are reflected in your books; it seems you are also whispering to the Soul there.
Meri: It’s true; this is not sought, comes out by itself in some characters of my stories. Readers tell me that reading my books they recognize themselves and find answers to their problems. Mainly they see the magic of “The princess with braids” and explain that when having read a chapter and thinking about their question before bed, they would get an answer in the dream or in a symbolic way in the early hours of the morning.
Nadia: At thirty-six you said goodbye to your country and started to build a new life in Barcelona without knowing the language.
Meri: Yes, my first career has been as an English teacher. After having divorced, I worked for UNESCO in Croatia as part of a humanitarian team, and it became apparent that the future prepared for Yugoslavia was not what I would have liked for my family to live. I came here with two children of nine and thirteen years old without having any acquaintance or speaking the language.
Nadia: And after twenty-one years you said goodbye again, at that time to Barcelona, and for the second time, you started again from Zero.
Meri: Starting from ZERO is just an illusion, we always carry hidden skills, some from past lives and others learned in this one.
Nadia: I am not the only one with the experience of having been supported by you in my personal and professional life. At first sight, you are seen as a strong woman and at the same time a delicate beauty of the characters of fairy tales. However, when I’d known you more deeply, I’d met a sociable, funny, intelligent and spontaneous woman.
Meri: It has taken me a long time to fall in love with myself; there are parts of me that I had rejected until recently. This trip around the world helped me a lot to learn to accept myself, practicing meditation, yoga, and self-knowledge. The most difficult area is to understand oneself, it is easier to have empathy for others. We can justify the acts of others, but we find it difficult to recognize and forgive our mistakes.
Nadia: Now you’re going to start a second trip around the world. Aren’t you tired?
Meri: A trip around the world are not counted kilometers, rather it is a permission of freedom, to be able to fly towards the unknown, the unspoken, the unwritten of many diverse cultures. It is a path of self-knowledge, self-acceptance, understanding your invisible prejudices, the definition of words in your particular dictionary about freedom, provocation, happiness, suffering. The beauty is different in each country, in some the extravagance is worshiped in others the uniformity; also the happiness is different for each person.
Nadia: What does it mean for you to get to know the world in this way?
Meri: I have allowed myself the freedom of not knowing where I am going to live, where my next home will be and this opened the abyss of insecurity and helped me to overcome my fears to the unknown and the constant movement. Traveling without knowing where the final goal will be is like going through the water that is opening in front of you at each moment and letting you go.
Nadia: I am sure you are carrying many stories in your backpack.
Meri: Yes, for this reason, I am writing the blog of Knowmads Family: blog.knowmadsfamily.com. I meet fascinating people, diverse cultures, and their stories stay with me. I also leave my footprints in their way, sometimes after a few days or months, different messages arrive at me. People explain that the encounter with me has been very inspiring for them, they have gotten a change or they’ve made an in-depth analysis if they are living the life they want or are fulfilling the dreams of others.
Nadia: This reminds me of a scene from your book “Princess with the Braids” where you talk about people trapped in the networks of dreams of others. It helped me a lot at a particular moment of my life.
Meri: I’m glad to hear it. You’ve found your mission. We are all born with skills and weaknesses, and in life, we must exercise the gifts and improve our weaknesses, putting love to all, including enemies. Writing books helps me and helps others, this way I let my Soul speak.
Nadia: Can you give us a message for the end of our meeting?
Meri: Find your Paradise and the way there and do not forget that by walking, without realizing it, you can be a Lighthouse in the storm of others.
- Meri Ilich