Posts Tagged ‘mistakes’

I do not recall spending long hours in front of a mirror loving my reflection.
Gene Tierney


That’s the main reason I have yet to finish my MA thesis.

Sure, there are some other minor factors involved, including the baby and a work project. Still, I’m the type of person who gets things done when she wants something done.

However, analysing your own behavior in something, bit by bit, sentence by sentence, is about as inviting as sticking needles under your fingernails. At least when there’s a significant gap between how you behaved in the situation then and how you would behave now, knowing what you know.

I actually blogged about the same phenomenon when I was working on my teacher training research paper on the same data. That was two years ago. Since then, I’ve read through volumes of theory and research on teaching.

And yes, I feel quite embarrassed for myself back then. It’s like looking through old photos and seeing yourself wearing the most hideous outfit that, back then, seemed like the height of awesome.

It’s not me, though

One of the highly useful concepts that come from Havi is the thought of Me from Then, Now and the Future. As in, they are all different people with different knowledge, different thoughts, different goals and all around different outlooks on life.

They all do share some characteristics (well, mainly the characteristic of inhabiting my body at some moment in time) and some history. Still, they are not Me, in the sense that they are not in the place, mentally or temporally, that I am right this moment.

When it comes to self-compassion, it’s very useful to treat those versions of me as if they were completely different individuals. The different Past Me versions did what they felt was best at that moment, based on the knowledge they had then. They had their own blocks and stucks, they dealt with them as best they could, and they got me where I am today.

The best course of action for me right now is to be compassionate towards them.

Case in point: The Thesis Data Me

I’ve transcribed my data and finished one layer of analysis on it. That means I’ve bumped into the cringe-worthy moments of the lesson several times. Whenever I encounter one of those moments, I have a few choices.

The first choice, and the one I’ve mostly been picking: get embarrassed and beat Present Me up for the stuff Thesis Data Me is doing, quit working on my thesis for now, and come back to it when I’ve gathered enough mental strength to face the mistakes.

The other choice would be to allow Present Me to view Thesis Data Me as the person she was, strengths and weaknesses and all, and let go of wanting to change the behavior of Thesis Data Me. I can welcome the thought that if Present Me would do things differently, that must mean some learning has happened.

Furthermore, if I allow Thesis Data Me to be as she was, it is easier for me to give her compassion instead of disapproving of her. By giving Thesis Data Me some approval, I’m getting a slice of it myself, and I won’t feel as sorry for her for not getting that approval from the pupils in the data.

And that would probably help Present Me work on my thesis more enthusiastically. 😉

Thank you again for stopping by! If this sparked any ideas of how you relate to Past Me vs. Present Me, please do share in the comments, and subscribe to the feed if you want to stay updated in the fascinating journey that is finishing my thesis.

Oh, and keep catching your own insightings!



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If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.
Lawrence J. Peter

As I’m writing this, my husband is watching the England vs. USA soccer game. He’s been waiting for the World Cup since last summer, and apparently intends to watch every game. *sigh* He grew up in a very soccer-ey home – both his parents have coached soccer, and his first pair of shoes were a pair of soccer shoes.

I’m not a big sports fan myself. In fact, I’m quite the opposite – the sound of sports commentary instantly pushes my buttons and ruins my day. This has caused – how should I put it – a number of conversations during the years we’ve been together. This is why I’ve decided to open myself to the thought of learning to understand soccer. You know, the game where a 90-minute game ending 0-0 can be “incredibly eventful”. It’s either that, or I’m facing a looooong month of the World Cup, not to mention a few looooong decades of marriage. 😉

Where to aim?

When I watch a soccer game, I see a bunch of people running around on a field. When he watches the game, he sees a web consisting of the players and the potential passing lanes between them. There are two teams, so the webs are constantly interacting, and the connections are constantly breaking up and new ones are emerging. Add to that the offense-defence tactics that the teams employ to confuse the other team and make a goal, and it’s no wonder I have a hard time understanding what the heck is going on.

One of the most difficult things for me to grasp has been the whole passing-the-ball dance. How do they know where to kick the ball? I mean, they’re constantly running, and the other team is constantly running, and the ball bounces around, and there’s just no point to the whole game. Is there?

The key that unlocked this conundrum was trying to imagine the web of passing lanes between the players. The other epiphany moment was when I realized that they actually try to pass the ball not to player X, but to the point Y where player X will be in a few moments’ time. In other words, they’re planning ahead.

*enter sound of mind blowing*

The way I’m trying to practice watching soccer is to look at the game and try to find the passing lanes. When I become better at that, I can start educating myself on tactics.

The “planning ahead” caveat

In a slightly unrelated note, we had our daughter’s christening today. It was a beautiful ceremony, and a lovely reception afterwards. It was a small gathering of 20 people, consisting of our daughter’s godparents, grandparents and a few other family members. Our daughter was a veritable sunshine, admired by everyone. Being the center of attention takes its toll, however, and by the end of the day she was exhausted.

Note to self: just because relatives want to cuddle your baby, it’s okay and necessary to take her to the other room for a nap when she’s showing signs of fatigue. The relatives will get over it. Fortunately, I realized this about halfway through the party, so she wasn’t completely wiped out.

In a christening, the child (or adult, if it’s an adult christening) wears white. After our daughter was born, I decided I wanted to crochet a christening dress, because neither of our families had a family christening dress and I wanted to start a tradition. I couldn’t find a pattern, so I decided to make it up as I went along. I took one of her onesies to size the dress after, and started working.

I’d worked on the dress for several hours during the past weeks, and it was coming along nicely. Last Tuesday, I decided to try it on her to see how much longer the train should be.

We couldn’t get the dress on her.

It seems I’d both underestimated her growth rate and overestimated the stretch in the crocheted cotton. Long story short, I unraveled about 30 centimeters, or a foot, of the dress, so I could extend the slit at the back of the dress. This was on Tuesday, five days before the christening.


I eventually finished the dress the night before the christening (i.e. last night) around midnight. I had to change the pattern on the hem a bit to finish it on time. The dress was beautiful, and I’m glad I decided to make a dress instead of just buying or borrowing one. Still, I won’t be crocheting anything anytime soon. 🙂

Things change. Situations change. Children grow. If you’ve planned ahead, great. Just be sure to check the proverbial passing lanes at regular intervals, especially if it’s a huge project that takes a while to finish. And especially if you don’t have a ready-made pattern and decide to just wing it. Otherwise you might just find yourself in damage-control mode at one in the morning when you really, really should be sleeping already.

Thanks for stopping by in my corner of the internet, and keep catching your own insightings!



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Why should I go into details, we have nothing that is not perishable except what our hearts and our intellects endows us with.

So my hard drive called it quits on Saturday. My darling tech-savvy fiancé did everything he could, but unfortunately the data is apparently beyond restoration, at least in any DIY manner. My last incomplete backup was from October. Let’s just say there was a lot of data I’ll probably never get back.


But not in vain, I hope. After finding, buying, installing and formatting a new hard drive, and after five hours of installing, I actually have a functioning, albeit quite empty, computer at my disposal again. And all during the weekend, I kept having these little *ding* *ding* insightings that relate to this whole crash. At least I’m learning. 🙂

Way to ignore your intuition, bonehead!

This is what my intuition kept yelling at me all through Saturday and Sunday. I didn’t get offended, because it was right, of course.

I’d just switched computers two or three days earlier, transfering all my data from one hard drive to another by cable. There were at least three separate occasions when I remember thinking to myself, “I should really do a backup one of these days,” and following up with “Nah, I’ll get to it tomorrow.”

Before this, I hadn’t given a second thought to backing up my files for months – as is probably evident  from the fact that the last backup was ancient.

Remembering this made me even more intent on listening to my gut feelings, and possibly even making physical notes about things I have to do. You know, in addition to the mental ones I kept making and then forgetting.


When my computer stopped responding, I called out to my fiancé to come and help me. He did a bit of online research, asked me a few questions about what I had been doing the moment the computer started beachballing me (browsing a discussion forum, in fact – nothing extremely demanding), and then said “I’m afraid I might have bad news.”

Me, jokingly: “What, like, all my files are gone or something?”

Fiancé: “Yeah, it looks like that’s the case.”

Me: “Oh.”

And then I waited for the huge emotional reaction. You know, of rage, of disappointment, of grief.

And waited.

And waited.

And it never came.

Fiancé: “I feel really bad for you.”

Me: “I do too, I guess.”

Even when I started to go over all the stuff I had on my hard drive that hadn’t been saved – my schoolwork from the past four months save for a few files I’d worked on at the uni, my music, my photos, my wedding planning files, my e-books and mp3-audiobooks – I still didn’t get the panic reaction. I still haven’t, and it’s been two days.

Two possible reasons for this:

One, I’m still in shock, and will break down crying two months from now.

Two, and the one I consider more probable, I know I’m going to live.

Of course I’m annoyed at myself for not backing up my work. Since there’s no-one else to blame, though, I chose to not reprimand myself over and over again for this. I’ll just feel worse and it wouldn’t help anyway. The more useful way to cope with this is to consciously start creating a habit of backing up my stuff every day.

What’s even more important is that what I lost was information and effort, nothing more. Sure, information and effort are important, and I would probably be more frazzled if I had lost e.g. a week’s worth of billable work due tomorrow. The most important thing, though, is that no-one died. No-one was injured. No-one had to give up their home or livelihood because of my mistake.

Realizing this made me really happy, since it means I’m moving towards having reactions that are actually congruent with my values. Losing all that information, money and effort doesn’t bother me as much as it could, since those things are not at the top five of my list of values.

Things you can do something about

All this got me thinking about loss and ephemerality. There are some things we lose in life that we can’t really help. Others, like the contents of my hard drive, can be saved with a bit of time and effort before they disappear completely.

Which is why I finally decided to send an email to a friend I’ve been thinking about a lot. All through this fall, I’ve been pondering about whether or not to contact him and tell him that I’d really enjoy it if we could go out for a cup of coffee every now and again.

Before Saturday, something had always stopped me. Maybe the possibility of making a fool of myself in assuming he’d want any contact with me. Maybe the fear of not saying it right and giving out the wrong message. Maybe the assumption that if he wanted to hang out with me, he’d contact me himself.

Now, though, I decided I didn’t want to lose the possibility of a wonderful friendship simply due to the lack of effort. If he never answers me, that’s fine. At least I won’t wonder about it. He now knows I think he’s awesome. What he does with that information is up to him.

If I make a fool of myself in the process, it’s the lesser of two evils and nothing I haven’t done a zillion times before. 🙂

Thank you for stopping by! If you feel like sharing your own insightings in the comments, please do – and until we meet again, keep catching those insightings!



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Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t waste energy trying to cover up failure. Learn from your failures and go on to the next challenge. It’s OK to fail. If you’re not failing, you’re not growing.
H. Stanley Judd

When I grow up, I’m going to be a teacher.

By definition, a teacher is someone who helps others do things they are not able to do on their own yet. Or, more specifically, helps others so they could eventually do these things on their own. The entire purpose of a teacher is to make herself redundant. What a career!

Since teachers deal with development, learning, and growth, the question of challenge is often central. In order to learn something, we must first face and recognize a challenge, then find ways to overcome that challenge, and then practice those ways so they become automatic.

The easy way out?

At the uni, there are different kinds of lecturers and professors. Depending on the tutorial group you’re in, you might have to do 15 hours of work or 75 hours of work for the same exact amount of credit.

Fair? Not really, no.

First of all, it’s not fair to the people who do the 75 hour work load for the credits, while the others get their degree with a lot less work.

However, I think the ones doing the 15 hour work load are getting unfair treatment as well. By letting the students get away with a minimal work load, the professor is not giving them enough of a challenge. As a result, they learn far less than the other group.

When the 15-hour students then graduate and get out into the real world, chances are they know substantially less than the 75-our students. As a result, they’ll have to put in more effort to learn the same information while working. For a job as gruelling as the teaching profession, it’s a huge effort to keep the lessons rolling while you try to internalize the more conceptual stuff you missed out on during your studies.

Of course there are those who celebrate the chance to sweep in easy credits and spend their time with other things. Personally, though, I’m grateful I’m in a group where the professor really makes us work for our credits.

By making us read the necessary material and report it in the form of practical tasks, she prompts us to try ways of overcoming this specific challenge before we submit anything to actual students. In the safety of the classroom, we get to give each other feedback and pay attention to the things that need tweaking. That way, we’re a lot closer to having these processes be automatic and effortless.

The Zone of Proximal Development

One of the big concepts in our current Finnish teacher training is the sociocultural theory of learning. From this perspective, learning is a social task that happens both within and between individuals.

For me, the most interesting concept of the entire sociocultural context is Lev Vygotsky’s idea of the Zone of Proximal Development.

The basic idea is that whatever you can do with help today, you can do on your own in the future.

The Zone of Proximal Development is activated in social interaction, which is a logical explanation to the old adage “Two heads are better than one.”

The challenge can’t be too overwhelming, or the learner cannot perform the task even with the help of a teacher or a peer. There has to be some challenge, though, for the aspect of development to activate.

For me, the social support zone extends to any other type of learning as well, not just to language learning. It’s easier to venture towards the outskirts of your comfort zone if you have support. You might need someone who already feels comfortable on your Terrifying Zone, ready to support you while you take your first tentative steps.

If you’re venturing on to previously uncharted terrain, that’s also way more secure when there’s someone there to hold your hand –even if they don’t know where you two are going, either.

And then there’s failure.

Which you will undoubtedly face whenever you try something you’re not already good at.

Edison is quoted as having said, “I haven’t failed, I’ve found 10,000 ways that don’t work”.  The bigger the challenge, the more ways you probably need to try before finding the one that solves your problem.

Again, thanks for stopping by. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, and until we meet again – keep catching those insightings!



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It’s like liquid math. Only you don’t have to understand it to have it work for you.
Havi Brooks

Shiva Nata is a mind-bogglingly difficult system of forms that is based on eight basic arm positions and all the possible combinations and configurations of those positions.

When you’re doing it wrong, you’re doing it right.

When you’re doing it right, it’s time to up the stakes.

And there’s no way you’ll ever get to a level where you’re done.

For some time now, I’ve been hooked on it, both for the physical aspects and the mental ones. Activating your entire body and rewiring your brain? Brilliant.

How I started?

First, there was Havi’s blog.  Or that’s what I found first. Eventually I found my way to the Shiva Nata Starter Kit page, and read it at least five times during the course of a week before I was finally brave enough to invest in it. Sure, it was a bit of a splurge on a student budget, but I figured I’d get it for myself for an early birthday present.

Background: I’m not what you’d call an athlete. I used to do folk dance for ten years, and I guess that taught me to isolate arm and leg movements, but other than that, I was far from graceful. In fact, just the previous year, I’d given myself a concussion as I hit my head on a wall.

In other words, the prospect of gaining more grace and coordination was very welcome. I was also as flexible as concrete, and I have a genetically wonky back that requires daily attention and exercise. Which I was skipping. And reaping the *ouch* benefits.

Since the DVD took a few days to ship, I started out with the printable arm position sheet and level 1 sequences.

There I was, standing in our kitchen, arms sticking out in weird positions that I never knew my shoulders could bend into, trying to remember the next movement, feeling my brain boiling. Brilliant.

The thing that stuck with me from the starter kit was the permission to only do five minutes. Especially when I did it without the DVD, five minutes of trying to remember how the sequence went was plenty.

With the DVD, I could outsource the remembering process and was able to do ten or fifteen minutes before I felt my brain and arms were about to fry.

Meditation and journaling

Doing Shiva Nata also introduced me to meditation – something I’d been too jittery to do before. I mean, sitting still for five minutes and breathing and not thinking about anything? Yeah, right.

The recommendation was that after doing a practice of Shiva Nata, it’s wise to take a few moments to sit still and let everything absorb and connect.

For me, it’s also something I need to even out my focus so I’m able to communicate with others without snapping. If someone (read: my darling fiancé) interrupts me during my Shiva Nata sequence and asks me a question, I’m literally so focused on the practice that I can’t answer him in polysyllabic words.

In addition to the sitting-still-and-absorbing (or what the more enlightened ones call meditation), I’ve started journaling after the practice as well. Whatever comes up, I write down. It helps me catch the ideas and insightings whirring in my head and put them into a form I can process further.

Where am I now?

I won’t even go into the spectacular pattern-busting powers of Shiva Nata. You can read all about that from the spectacular Havi Brooks herself. Spectacular.

As far as patterns go, though, I have managed to create myself a morning practice of Shiva Nata, yoga, meditation and journaling. So much so that I feel I can’t really function before I get a few starting positions done. Kind of like a morning cup of coffee for some people.

Whenever I’m stuck with a brain project – blogging, studies, writing – I take a few minutes to do a few starting positions from level 1 or 2 followed by a few minutes of sitting down. More often than not, I get a *ding* insighting about the project when I get back to work.

So far, I haven’t had a life-changing, mind-blowing, *BOOM* epiphany or insighting during my practice. Instead, I have these little *ding* *ding* insightings more or less every day. Some I blog about. Some I talk about with my friends. Some I only journal about.

I do get scaredy-pants about the practice as well. Skipping days or doing sequences that are not holy-baloney difficult.

The cool thing is I can often catch myself mid-process. I can see the motives for skipping or procrastinating – in this and in other things – and I can try to be all accepting about it.

And my back sings the praise of Shiva Nata. All the standing-on-one-leg-waving-arms-around stuff really targets your core muscles, y’know? The yoga helps too, of course. I mean, I’ve actually learned to like yoga. Imagine that. 🙂

I don’t think I’d ever started blogging, either, if it wasn’t for Shiva Nata. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to put myself out there, or the security that I can come up with things to write about several times a week.

Incidentally, before I started crafting today’s post, I did a few starting positions of level 3 with square feet, and got royally lost. Halfway through one cycle I realized I was doing something terribly wrong. My reaction? “Yess.” For a recovering perfectionist, this is a big deal.

I’ll try and write about my Shiva Nata practice (that word still sounds so official) as I progress.

In the meantime, if you want to read more, I recommend visiting Havi and James, who are both totally awesome. And cool enough to call themselves Shivanauts* – I’m still wrestling the we’re-not-worthy syndrome with that. Say hi from me if you decide to pop over for a visit. 🙂

*a term that makes me think of a four-arm Shiva statue with a space helmet. Funnily enough, when I started doing Shiva Nata, my fiancé called it “the astro dance” without ever having heard the term. I might be the only person in the world who finds that funny.

And until we meet again – keep catching your own, possibly Shiva Nata -inspired, insightings!



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