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Posts Tagged ‘values’

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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Authenticity is invaluable. Originality is non-existent.
Paul Arden

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 node, I Teach, was the topic of yesterday’s post. The next node that blossomed on the paper was the green one.

I Create.

At the moment, the biggest creation I’m brewing is my MA thesis. Despite all the drama, trauma and self-work associated with it – or maybe because of them – I really want to do some amount of research after graduating, too. There’s a certain appeal to processing volumes upon volumes of information and data, slicing it, sieving it, and distilling it into a bottle of This Is What I Found Out.

In my thesis process, I’m knee-deep in analysis. I can’t see the bigger picture yet, but some shapes and flavors are starting to emerge. The creative process is bubbling within me and within the data, and the scent of something not-quite-finished-but-on-its-way is almost tangible. It’s frustrating, it’s hard work – it’s a prime example of the boulder (the video contains the kind of vocabulary teenagers invariably learn first in whatever foreign language they choose to take up) that has to be pushed up the hill.

But it’s fabulous. It’s a chance to actually create new ways of thinking so others don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Furthermore, it’s learning in the most profound way you could imagine. And after learning whatever there is to learn in the data, you have to write a research report to communicate your new knowledge to the scientific community. Awesome.

Creating through research is also intimately linked to teaching. First, by learning through my research I will become better at my chosen profession, assuming I keep researching the teaching situation. Second, the process of planning what to teach and how is very much a creative one. And finally, if I manage to get a position as a postgraduate student at the university, my job description will most probably include lecturing and teaching, too.

Besides research and teaching, I’d love to be able to create on the fields of music and drama. For the most part, I’m drawn to improvisation. Over the years, I’ve become more or less addicted to the carpe diem effect that comes joining an improvisation, whether dramatic or musical. There is something about a good impro that heals the soul. I wouldn’t mind performing, either, but I’d be surprised if I ended up earning my keep as a professional musician or actress. Happily surprised, mind you. 🙂

One more important channel of creativity is my writing and especially the blog. I’m so happy I’ve managed to recreate a relationship with the blog, since there was a long period (at least in Internet time) of blocks and not feeling like writing anything much at all. The blog allows me to process things out loud and come up with new ways of thinking, much like research – but without as much bibliography or analytical rigidity. 🙂 It is a space for me to spitball, as it were, about phenomena that I find fascinating.

(Some of the areas in this node will hopefully become Contribution ones. While doodling my Time Capsule, I was acutely aware of the fact that all the passion in the world won’t pay the mortgage on its own. Since making “I Earn Money” a node in itself was not an option, I drew a yellow bubble between the I Create and I Help nodes. The yellow bubble represents the money people are willing to pay in exchange for the value my contribution creates in their life.)

Why teach? Why create? There’s a strong undercurrent of wanting to help others. Quite naturally, the following node was I Help. More on that in a few days.

Thank you for tuning in! And, as always, keep catching your own insightings!

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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Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing
Lao Tzu quotes

Thanks to a brilliant post by Joely Black about taking care of yourself and a conversation I had with a fellow teacher trainee today, I started thinking about the culture of busy from a few different perspectives.

I’m a person who loves doing all kinds of things and participating in everything. Consequently, some of my weeks tend to be a bit hectic, because I’m still learning the whole don’t-schedule-yourself-into-oblivion thing. For several years, the end of spring and late autumn have been all about a jam-packed schedule and three meetings a night.

I know very well that I spread myself too thin with all this. Add to the equation the tendency to forget lunch and to drink more coffee than water during the day, and it’s no wonder it gets rough. It’s not something to be proud of.

Except that in some circles, it strangely seems to be just that. During the past two weeks alone, I’ve been in conversations that strangely resemble status battles, and the game is “who has the tightest schedule and less free time”. There is of course an element of complaint in there as well, but at the same time it’s a sort of martyr duel.

You know, “yesterday, I spent eight hours at the training school and wrote my lesson plans until midnight.” “Well, yeah, I had to write mine three times and I only got five hours of sleep last night.”

It’s not just the teacher trainees, either. It seems to be a badge of honor to do so much work. Furthermore, it seems to be a badge of honor to work yourself to the bone without taking care of your own basic needs.

My brain knows it’s stupid. Some part of me, though, does resonate with the glorification of too much work. Maybe that’s why we’re not complaining about the ridiculous imbalances of work between one student group and the next – the ones who get off easy have nothing to complain about, and the ones who do the extra work can boast about how much they had to do to get the grade.

I’m not even going to go into the topic of whether or not you’re actually accomplishing anything or whether or not you love what you do. I know I’m working hard to get my teacher qualifications, and it’s something I love doing. Someone else might be working hard for a cause that’s completely irrelevant to me but very important to them.

Either way, though, there is something profoundly wrong about glorifying a schedule that’s packed full from morning to midnight. Or to be less judgmental – there is something profoundly contradictory about glorifying the culture of busy and my own values.

Now if I could only find a way to convince myself of this – and find a constructive alternative mindset – before I drive myself into a burnout. Here’s to hoping.

Thank you for stopping by, keep catching your own insightings!

Love,

Sari

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Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company.
Lord Byron

I assure you, Havi is not the only person in the world to inspire me. But she does it so well, and so often, that the traces of that inspiration sometimes find their way back here. This time, her post about writing a personal letter budged me. All that mixture of intentions, communicating with yourself and – when writing it out in public – communicating with the entire world really struck a chord.

Seeing as I’m studying to be a teacher, I’ve obviously got a hunch of the things I’d like to do when I grow up. However, I feel I have more to give than just (and by just I don’t mean I don’t respect the awesome professional skill of teachers) my teaching side. So let’s see if we can get something rolling here.

Dear Dream Job,

I know you’re out there, and we’re looking for each other. You give me a chance to be creative in several ways – writing, singing, acting, communicating in both of “my” languages – and yet you provide a reliable framework for me to build my life on.

You lavish me with loving individuals and a supportive work community, while allowing me all the independence I need. You give me responsibility in suitable doses, and I get to share that responsibility with my colleagues. You are fun.

When I go home, you stay at work and don’t follow me. You allow me to have plenty of free time.

You give me a feeling of security, emotional as well as financial, and allow me to flourish to my fullest potential. You appreciate my talent and intelligence. You resonate with my values: love, respect, learning, honesty. You make me happy to wake up in the morning and energized after the day is done. You inspire me to develop my skills further without pressuring me to change who I am.

Is this you? Is this a job you know? Pop me a comment or a Twitter message, and we’ll see if we’re meant for each other.

Eagerly waiting to fall in love with you,

Sari

Writing this has suddenly spurred up an “isn’t it preposterous to think I could have all that?” reaction. I’m sure that’s only natural, and I will keep gently reminding myself that yes, honey, you can have all that. It’s all out there, waiting for you to find it. Or better yet, making its way to you as we speak.

(…that’s still preposterous…)

Yes, you deserve to have a wonderful job that makes you happy.

Yes, you do.

… I guess this might take some time for some parts of me to believe. [Deep breath.] And that’s okay. This job will be there for me once I believe it. 🙂

Thank you so much for popping by. If this inspired you to write your own personal letter, I’d love to hear about it in the comments, and until we meet again –  keep catching your own insightings!

Love,

Sari

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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.
Ovid

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.

Bummer.

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.

Priorities

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!

Love,

Sari

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