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Posts Tagged ‘growing up’

This…whatever-it-was…has now been joined by another…whatever-it-is… and they are now proceeding in company. Would you mind coming with me, Piglet, in case they turn out to be Hostile Animals?
Winnie the Pooh (A. A. Milne)

The above quote is from the Winnie the Pooh story where Pooh and Piglet follow the tracks of a potential Woozle – until they realize they’ve been following their own paw prints around a little group of trees.

That’s kind of how I feel whenever the holidays and the turn of the year come along. My mental image of a year is a circle quite like the face of a clock, with New Year up around 12 and the beginning of July on the bottom. (Unlike a clock, however, my year goes – and has always gone – counter-clockwise, so January ticks along from 12 to 11 and so on.) And the proverbial clock is about to strike twelve tonight, which makes me want to look up from the paw prints I’ve been following and figure out if I’m going in circles as well.

Not that going in circles is a bad thing, mind you. Or rather noticing you’re going in circles.

Just before I started writing this post, I did a bit of Shiva Nata for the first time in a while. I did Horizontal level 1 arms to warm up and then started with Level 4 arms. The number pattern is the same, but in level 4 you go from horizontal to vertical and back to horizontal with each step. So if Level 1 begins H1H1-H2H2-H3H3-H4H4, Level 4 begins H1H1-V2V2-H3H3-V4V4. And so on and so forth.

It’s the same circle, but on a different level. There’s an underlying pattern – the number sequence – that gives you a road map for going through the new part.

And that, to me, is the beauty of going in circles. The fact that you notice you’re going in circles is evidence to your pattern perception abilities. The geographical equivalent is the “there’s that wonky tree again, we must have passed it three times already – what’s wrong?”. In social situations, the wonky tree might be the nasty treatment you get from yet another lover, or the way every conversation with a family member always ends up with them blaming you for something you didn’t do. You’ve gone around in a circle, and it’s time to notice the wonky tree.

When you notice the pattern, you can do something about it. You can also observe whether it’s the exact same pattern or if there’s something new to it.

This New Year, as many times before, I’m trying to get my house organized and start with the Flylady system. The first step is to shine your sink, and the idea is to make it a habit and build from there. I must have started the habit ten times since finding Flylady in December 2006 (funnily enough, around the year clock’s strike of twelve again). It’s a pattern that many others have, too, judging by the magazine stand covers – Get fit, organized, out of debt and into your new swimsuit in just days! seems to be a good selling point in January, whatever the year.

The interesting thing was that I noticed a change in the pattern. Or rather, I noticed that something had indeed stuck with me from the previous X times of starting with the system. We routinely make the bed now, which was something that really really didn’t happen, say, five years ago when we first moved in together. I’ve also acquired a decluttering mindset, almost by accident. Giving stuff to charity when new stuff comes in is no longer a gruelling process, it’s a natural consequence of noticing how much happier I am when things actually fit in their closets and drawers.

Some cultures apparently think of time as not linear but spiral. That is, life flows in concentric circles like a staircase, and when you notice you’re back in the same spot in the horizontal axis, your vertical position has changed so you have a new perspective on the past – taking a look down the stairwell, if you will.

To me, the thought makes a lot of sense. In fact, I tend to think the spiral has an expanding quality as well, at least ideally. When you see the familiar wonky tree coming up, you might be able to avoid it beforehand. Whatever you learn, whatever you encounter, if you reflect back on it and observe the landscape, you have the opportunity to expand the circle and acquire more perspective.

That way, you won’t end up chasing yourself around a group of trees forever.

Thank you for stopping by, and may your year 2011 be plentiful in insightings and all that is wonderful!

Love,

Sari

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To love what you do and feel that it matters—how could anything be more fun?
Katherine Graham

To honor 10/10/10, I created my five-year-plan i.e. the Time Capsule. I started writing my Time Capsule by writing my name and the date five years from now in the middle of a blank sheet of paper. I’m totally a mind map kind of person, so the format was a no-brainer. I didn’t really want to focus on practicalities at all, so I started with a basic question – what do I want to fill my days with in five years? The answer consisted of four key verbs that became the nodes of my mind map and a series of four posts.

The first three nodes were the red one and the green one, and the orange one. The fourth and final node became the pink one.

A bit more than a year ago, I first encountered Barbara Sher’s brilliant book, Wishcraft. Towards the beginning of the book, there’s a simple exercise: write down twenty things that you love doing. They don’t have to be grand or lofty – if you’re stuck at nineteen, make the last one be “eating ice cream”.

I completed that exercise right then and there, and among the things I loved were (as far as I remember) “improvising”, “singing”, “knitting”, “doing Shiva Nata”, “having coffee with friends” et cetera. As I read my list, I realized that there was a shortage of those things in my life during the time. However, the realization came and went as fall turned to winter and my todo-list filled up at and outside work.

I came across Wishcraft again a few months ago, after having forgotten the name of the book (I hadn’t downloaded the free copy but rather read it off my screen) and finally managing to find it again. (Note to self: if you do exercises that feel borderline life-changing, make sure you write the exercises in a notebook or a journal, not separate sheets of paper, and for heaven’s sake include the source! 🙂 ) As I read the book, a thought started to emerge within: could it indeed be possible to align my life in such a way that most of the things I love be included?

I’m a realist in the sense that I don’t imagine getting a fat paycheck every month for just sitting in a cafe and chatting with my friends. I also flinch at the mention of the word “monetize”. However, I also flinch at the thought of having a job where every day is a depressing swamp to push through before “real” life begins at the stroke of five. If I’m aware of the things I love spending time on, I can make conscious choices about jobs to apply for and channels through which to contact people for freelance gigs.

Doing what I love for a living is just one part of the equation, though. In five years, I want to have time to spend with people I love, too. If that means forgoing huge paychecks (since, you know, the Arts majors always get the highest salaries 😉 ) that would involve round-the-clock hours, then so be it. For instance, I’m planning to stay home and take care of our daughter for at least another six months as I finish my MA thesis, and possibly after that as well. We could find a day care for her if I really wanted to go and earn a second income, but so far I’m (quite selfishly, in fact) prioritizing the time with her over a few hundred euros extra per month. However, if an opportunity arises for me to take a few teaching gigs or translation jobs while mainly staying at home, all the better.

Spending time with the ones I love includes spending time with myself, too. My brain knows the whole deal about taking care of yourself so you can take care of others, putting on your own oxygen mask and so forth. Still, it’s ever so easy to forget that it’s actually really important. I’ve been journaling almost every night for months now, and I’ve also been trying to reincorporate Shiva Nata into my routines, as well as yoga. In five years, I hope, I will be able to say “I love myself” without the slightest bit of irony, sarcasm or doubt.

After creating the original Time Capsule mind map, I read a fabulous book by a former Special Needs Educator (in Finnish) recounting her experiences of children who were mistreated by the school system one way or another. The further I got in the book, the more I felt that this, too, is something where I want to contribute. There are children in every school who need love, appreciation and acceptance. I want to spend some part of my career providing those things to children, and helping them provide those things to each other. As a drama teacher, I will have an exceptional opportunity to strengthen the students’ skills in empathy, listening, positive feedback, acceptance and general communicative skills. That, to me, is a wonderful way of spreading love in this world.

Reflections on the whole Time Capsule process

Making the Time Capsule was a spur-of-the-moment thing, as was blogging about it. As it turns out, though, a lot of the thoughts required some percolating before they became blog posts. It was interesting how effortlessly the four nodes and their sub-nodes emerged on paper as I first started doodling the Time Capsule. And as I wrote each post, I was surprised how much sense it all made (at least in my head if not in writing), how many levels of connectedness there were between the nodes.

The original, physical mind map is in an envelope in our bookshelf, addressed to me to be opened in five years. However, the process of mapping out my ideal future opened a lot of things in my present, too. For instance, after realizing how much I crave creativity in my life, we brought in my husband’s old keyboard that had been in storage. I don’t play the piano yet, but the simple fact that it’s in our living room reminds me to play every now and again. Realizing how much I want to teach has motivated me to speak up about my Shiva Nata in Finland project to friends who might be interested.

In general, framing my life in terms of these four verbs today will help motivate me to get more done – if I think of my MA thesis as being a creative work that’s aimed at teaching and helping people, not a necessary evil, I’ll be much more driven to put in the hours.

It seems that by looking into my ideal future for the qualities I want to experience right now, I’ve been able to inch my life towards that ideal future. Huh. Imagine that. 🙂

Thank you so much for stopping by again! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, so you’re more than welcome to leave one. Have an insightingful holiday season!

Love,

Sari

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If you’re too busy to give your neighbor a helping hand, then you’re just too darned busy.
Marie T. Freeman

To honor 10/10/10, I created my five-year-plan i.e. the Time Capsule. I started writing my Time Capsule by writing my name and the date five years from now in the middle of a blank sheet of paper. I’m totally a mind map kind of person, so the format was a no-brainer. I didn’t really want to focus on practicalities at all, so I started with a basic question – what do I want to fill my days with in five years? The answer consisted of four key verbs that became the nodes of my mind map and a series of four posts.

The first two nodes were the red one and the green one. What followed was the orange one – I Help.

One of the key parts of what I want to do in the future is help others. I know this on several levels. Still, this post has been hiding in the dark for several weeks. See, after creating my Time Capsule, I started to question whether I really really want to help people. Or rather, if helping people is what I want, instead of thinking it’s what others want me to want.

Tricky and complicated? Yes.

In a previous post, I mulled over the need to feel useful.  In other words, the belief says that if I’m not useful, I’m worth nothing. I’m trying my best to let go of that belief, but it’s not easy. After all, it’s been present in my life for at least a decade, if not two. Seeing how I’m only 27, it’s a large part of my life. 🙂 Whenever I end up doing something that is not ultimately useful, I feel like I’m wasting time, for me and those around me.

So is the whole “I help” thing really only a thinly veiled channel to feed that mistaken belief? Am I building myself a life of living on someone else’s terms and not my own? These were the questions I thought about for the past few weeks, as I was trying to write this post.

Because on the one hand, there’s inherent value in helping other people. I know that, and I’ve experienced it time and time again. And on the other hand, there’s the bitterness that comes from only ever doing what others want you to do and never pursuing your own dreams. I don’t want to end up being an eighty-year-old grandma who only ever talks about how she could have been this and could have been that, but she ended up taking the conventional route and helping others succeed instead.

I think the solution lies in the kind of help I want to provide others. I’ve done a fair share of altruistic helping, and of course that bears its own rewards when you see how happy the recipient is. I’ve also helped people out of a sense of duty or debt – or to receive praise, admiration and gratitude. But that is not what I want to be doing for the rest of my life.

In my ideal world, I would get to do what I love and, almost incidentally, help people as a side product. I want to teach others and help them improve their skills in communication, among other things. I want to write about my experiences and provide inspiration and comfort for people who are struggling with the same questions. I want to sing, dance, laugh and play from the bottom of my creative heart, and then let others see what I’ve created and feel moved in one way or another.

In other words, I want to do what I Love – the fourth and final node of my Time Capsule.

More on that sooner rather than later, I hope.

Thank you again for tuning in, and plentiful insightings in your neck of the woods!

Love,

Sari

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Life is all about timing… the unreachable becomes reachable, the unavailable become available, the unattainable… attainable. Have the patience, wait it out. It’s all about timing.
Stacey Charter

For those of you wondering, I do read other things besides Havi’s blog. 🙂 The fact is, though, that her writing inspires me so often that I end up giving you links to her posts a lot more than to any other writers combined. This time, her post about plans inspired me to craft a five-year-plan of my very own. (Truth be told it wasn’t as much the actual post as the word “Time Capsule” in JoVE’s comment – which led me to find another brilliant addition to my feed – that sparked my imagination and pushed me into grabbing my pencil case and a sheet of paper and get cracking.)

I started writing my Time Capsule by writing my name and the date five years from now in the middle of a blank sheet of paper. I’m totally a mind map kind of person, so the format was a no-brainer. I didn’t really want to focus on practicalities at all, so I started with a basic question – what do I want to fill my days with in five years?

The answer consisted of four key verbs that became the nodes of my mind map. Being my life’s passions, I think each node deserves its own post. 🙂

The first node I came up with was the red one.

I teach

Sooner or later, I’ll graduate as a teacher. However, it’s not just the education that pushes me towards teaching. Rather, it’s been the drive to teach that has led me to seek out the education I’m about to finish. Since I’m pretty passionate about communication, it will probably be the core of what I teach.

As an English as a Foreign Language teacher, I want to give students the possibility to actually communicate in the foreign language from the very beginning. Language is a tool for expressing emotions and opinions, influencing others, navigating in social situations and creating a shared understanding of the world around us.

The big, painful task is to convey this fabulousness to students who might not even realize that some people actually speak English. As, you know, their mother tongue. As in, they don’t speak any other language. By the time they finish compulsory education in Finland, most students will have studied at least two languages besides their mother tongue, so learning a foreign language and its culture may turn into a chore, not a gift. My passion is to help them see it as a gift.

I also want to teach communication and social skills using my drama teacher education. Nonverbal communication, listening and awareness of status changes are among the things I want my students to learn. Drama also has a big element of self-communication – reflecting on the things you’ve done and seen is a key part of learning in drama, as well as a key skill in life.

Besides communication, I would love to teach Shiva Nata for a living. In a way, it does link to communication, though – Shiva Nata is to self-work what cable Internet is to communication. If you don’t believe me, you haven’t tried it. 🙂

Furthermore, I have a feeling that the whole “embrace the failures” mentality of Shiva Nata would be an interesting spice to the activities of any improvisational theater activity. I will hopefully have a chance to try out a session of Shiva Nata and impro later this fall, and I will report back as soon as I recover from the experience.

Why, then, do I want to teach? Teaching is inherently linked to the other nodes in my Time Capsule Mind Map – I Create, I Help, and I Love. More on those in following posts.

Thank you so much for reading, once again – keep catching your own insightings!

Love,

Sari

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“The greatest weakness of all is the great fear of appearing weak”
Jacques Benigne Bossuel

For several months now, my life has been different from what it used to be. My husband and I are expecting our first child in early April. Of course I knew pregnancy throws curve balls at you and changes your life. I just never realized all the changes that were coming.

Oh, the weakness

Despite the fact the pregnancy  has gone well, I’ve been surprised that my physical stamina has decreased so much. On the one hand, the physical changes are the easiest ones to understand. After all, there’s a whole new person in there to carry around and feed and nurture. Weight distribution as well as hormonal changes in ligaments and muscles play a part, of course.

It’s still amusing, though. Anything I drop on the floor I have to struggle to get up, because there’s a baby bump in the way. My walking speed has decreased to a third of what it used to be. I can’t really lift anything or climb anywhere.  Not that I was an olympic gymnast or a triathlete before – still, the distinction is obvious.

The funny thing is, though, that physical weakness is not the only effect I’ve noticed.

Not getting things done

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been efficient at everything. Studying full-time while working part-time and having several hobbies and activities has been the norm. Sure, there have been times when I’ve felt exhausted in the process, but I’ve always enjoyed having a stack of plates spinning in the air.

I tried that this past fall and winter, too. Result? I was about five minutes away from burning out completely, when I finally realized I had to cut back on the stress and activities. I was constantly exhausted, procrastinating and missing deadlines, simply because I did not have the energy to do everything. Missing deadlines led to guilt, which kept eating at what little resources I had left. Even though I kept to eight hours of sleep each night and tried my best to unwind during weekends, I was beat.

I finally realized I had to slow down. If not for my own sake then for the sake of my baby. Giving up interesting projects and rescheduling my studies was incredibly difficult – mentally, that is. People were very understanding when I told them I had to take it easy because of the pregnancy. In my head, though, I struggled for quite a while before I dared to pull out the pregnancy card. Everyone says pregnancy is not an illness or a disease. I didn’t want to be the “ooh, I’m pregnant, I can’t do that” girl. The thing was, though, that I couldn’t do all of it.

Pregnancy brain

Being inefficient and tired is, of course, pretty unpleasant. The one thing that has really annoyed me about the pregnancy symptoms, though, is pregnancy brain. I don’t know if it’s caused by the tiredness and stress or if there’s some other reason for it, but I notice I’ve lost some of my mental mojo during the past few months.

The thing is, I’m used to being the sharp one. I know I’m intelligent, and with the added bonus of Shiva Nata, there have been times when I’ve probably been exceptionally smart. This pregnancy, though, has not been one of those times.

True, my Shiva Nata practice has been on the back burner, partly due to the fatigue. Still, it’s incredibly annoying to forget things, to not think of something perfectly logical, or to have to ask others to explain things to me. It’s somewhat scary, too – does this mean my wit and smarts are gone for good? Am I regressing to the level where I’m fit to communicate with an infant and nobody else? Geesh.

Um, embrace it?

For the past month, I’ve been trying to wrap my pregnancy brain around all this. It seems I have two choices: either I accept what’s going on and admit I’m this mentally, physically and intellectually weak person, or I don’t. If I choose not to accept it, I’ll have to draw up a plan of action to energise and invigorate myself.

Either way, I still have to start with the realisation that yes, this is where I am now. At the moment, my body-mind is going crazy with hormonal and other changes, and the only thing that will stop that from happening is having the baby. And since I’m hoping not to do that in the next month, I’ll have to live with the weaknesses.

For what it’s worth, for the next two months I still have the pregnancy card I can whip out whenever anyone asks. 🙂

Because of my pregnancy brain, I can’t think of a good way to end the post except saying thank you again for stopping by and reading these thoughts. And, as always, keep catching your own insightings!

Love,

Sari

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Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.
John Ed Pearce

Somehow, it seems, there is a transition underway. One of the things that reflects that transition is the recurring theme of moving house.

A few months ago, my parents sold my childhood home and moved to a new apartment. A few weeks after their move, I and my fiancé bought our very own apartment. Well, technically it still belongs to the bank, but we’re paying them back bit by bit. In the following two weeks, we should get the floors and walls done at the new place and then transport every single one of our earthly possessions from the old apartment to the new one.

And we haven’t even started packing.

When is home really home?

Last night, a group of relatives were visiting my parents in their new place, and I stopped by to say hi. One of the things they asked me, in jest, was how I felt about my parents giving up my home. I laughed and answered that it hadn’t been my home for years, and so I really didn’t mind.

But there is a slight change in tone between their old place and the new one. The old place was, as I mentioned, my childhood home. We moved there when I was four, and I first moved out at the age of nineteen. I returned a couple of years later to live there for a few months as I started university and was looking for a place of my own. When I moved out, I still lived in the same city, so I visited every few weeks, and I never gave up the keys.

This was the place where I started school, and where I celebrated my confirmation. This was where I stressed about my Finnish matriculation exam so much I spent the previous night vomiting, and where I returned at eight in the morning after a long graduation day-turned-night party. This was where my sister spent the last months of her life and where she passed away. Decades and decades of memories.

The new place, on the other hand, is clearly my parents’ home. I’m welcome, of course, but it’s different. When I go visit, I’m a guest. In a way, it’s refreshing, too – imagine the 22 years of emotional baggage that had proverbially piled up in the corners of the old place. There’s something very promising about a new home – even if it’s not my home anymore.

Settling down

If my parents didn’t move house for 22 years, I sure have done my best to balance the stakes. I know that in the grand scheme of things, moving house six times in the past seven years is not exactly a world record. It does make me ponder, though, whether I’ve really felt at home where I’ve been staying.

During the time I’ve been with my fiancé, we’ve had a total of four moves between us, three of them together from one shared apartment to another. The upcoming one will be our fourth one.

What has made each of those apartments a home? Since we both lead unnecessarily busy lives, our home does sometimes feel like a depot for quick pit stops. Our home feels most like a home when both of us have enough time to take care of the home – doing the dishes, folding the laundry, the regular stuff. I feel most at home when I’m folding laundry in a relatively tidy bedroom, or I’m doing the dishes after cleaning up the entire kitchen.

Our home feels like a home when we put in the effort of taking care of it so it can take care of us in return.

I guess that might be one of the secrets to settling down and having a great home that feels like a home. When you routinely maintain a tidy, pretty home, you feel appreciated – even though the appreciation really only reflects your own actions. If you ignore your home, it will reflect back on to you as well. Settling down means taking the whole “having a home” thing seriously, I guess.

How lovely of you to stop by again – keep catching your own insightings and feel free to share them in the comments!

Love,

Sari

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The basis of human trust is established through play signals.
Dr. Stuart Brown

As I mentioned earlier, I’m hooked on TED.com. Since I don’t really have time to just sit down and watch the lectures all day, I multi-task. While doing the dishes last week, I listened to Dr. Stuart Brown’s lecture on the importance of play throughout our lives. Something clicked.

Doubt

Since I’m approaching the final stages of my studies and the dreaded G word (graduation), I’m inevitably thinking about what I’ll do when I no longer have the security of school and student status. Sure, I’ll be a teacher, and teachers are always needed. How long will it take, though, for me to be old, wise and experienced enough for someone to employ me full-time?

Since jobseeking is a relevant topic for others I know as well, I’ve been keeping an eye on the job market for Arts majors without significant financial or technological expertise. You know what? It’s not hot. Every now and then, I find myself thinking I maybe should have done a more marketable degree, read more relevant minors, acquired more financial expertise and so on.

During one of these soul-searches, I happened to listen to Dr. Stuart Brown’s lecture. Much of it I already knew, having studied drama education for a year and a half now. Still, there were a few points that really resonated. One was the notion quoted above that trust is established through play signals.

Another was the story about play-deprived rats and regular rats. When presented with a cat-smelling object, the rats all ran and hid, regardless of their play history. The play-deprived ones, however, never came out. They didn’t have whatever it takes to start exploring the surroundings to find out if the danger is still imminent or already gone.

Drama as play

Essentially, drama is about play and make-believe. In English, the word play encompasses both the fun, frivolous, unorganized activity and the theatrical presentation of a drama text. All in all, one of the central concepts in drama and drama education is that of play, playfulness and a shared understanding of “creating an elsewhere”.

That shared understanding, I’d imagine, is the very thing that builds trust.

Jokes, flirtation, throwing someone a baseball or watching a soap opera all require a certain mindset both from the initiator and from the respondent. If the initiator wants to play catch as she throws the ball, and the respondent thinks they’re being attacked, there’s a huge miscommunication that might well result in bruising and bitter words. Jokes work in much the same way, only verbally. There, too, the danger of bitter words and emotional bruising is obvious.

That same trust – in oneself and in others – could again be the reason why the undeprived rats started to explore their surroundings and why the play-deprived ones didn’t.

Play is that significant.

*ding*

I’m training to be a drama teacher. That means I’ll be teaching, instructing and guiding kids, teenagers and adults how to play without feeling stupid about it. Or, better yet, how to play and feel stupid and not care.

Which will improve their communication skills, their risk-taking skills, their trusting skills, and more.

How is that not the single most awesome thing in the world?

How could that not be something people want to learn?

My goal for the rest of my studies will be to figure out and build myself a way to bring that to the people who need it most. A school is a good context for that, but it’s definitely not the only one. By focusing on my future title – teacher – I’m probably limiting my career possibilities.

I feel my dream job is getting closer and closer. 🙂

Thank you for popping by and taking the time to read this – I hope you enjoy(ed) the Stuart Brown lecture! Until next time, keep catching your own insightings!

Love,

Sari

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