Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A lesson in abundance

This year we planned to have slightly fewer dishes for Christmas. I should have been happy about that, considering what a horror it is for me to  realize that a holiday where we sing of the modest manger has turned in so many ways into a time we gorge ourselves in food and almost eat ourselves sick. Of course we do it out of a good intention of enjoyment and sharing, but it's kind of painful for me to hear all the time "I've eaten so much that I can barely move" or "No, no we cannot possibly take more cake home, we wouldn't know what to do with it". Sometimes I feel I am a part of some crazy game, we know we will have too much food, we know we will eat too much, but we still do it anyway because  we want to make our best foods and taste them with our loved ones and friends. 

It has taken me a bit of time to realize I don't actually have to eat everything there is on the table to taste the best things and enjoy myself. But it is much harder to stop myself from thinking "I need to cook, I need to cook, there won't be enough". And it seems like our plan to make maybe two or three dishes less woke up some inner panic in me, that we would be short of something. So instead of making one principal dish I planned (in our family we divide the cooking and each of each us makes something), I added a few more... Now, I don't have to tell you, that even if I hadn't made them, we would have had enough. Enough to go around, enough to share, enough to enjoy, enough new tastes to discover and traditional ones to savor. 

And so here is my lesson in abundance. My abundance at Christmas does not come from worrying, from calculating and making lots of food. My abundance comes from the fact that when you have a big, loving family and friends who will come for a visit and whom you visit, there will be enough, there will be sharing, there will be variety, and there will be all those special dishes that need to be there.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A place where it's okay to cry

Recently I have talked with some friends about how our culture is uncomfortable with crying. We never know how to react when someone is crying, we want to look away or try to fix things as quickly as possible.
Tears can be so much more than just a sign that something is wrong and needs to be mended. I cry when I am deeply moved by something, I cry when I realize something important, I cry when I need to let go of some things and cleanse my soul. Sometimes I cry out of rage. I do cry when I am in pain, when I am upset and helpless. In these moments it means so much to have another human being notice my tears and be there for me. But maybe instead of saying "Don't cry, be strong" we could say "Cry all you need to be strong?"

I spent ten days in an Non-Violent Communication training where it was okay to cry. At every session there was a box of tissues ready, in case someone got in touch with their emotions. They did come in handy. It's not that we always knew how to react to other's tears. Some people wanted to have their hand held, some didn't. Some wanted to talk about it, some wanted to stay in silence. But there was space for tears as a way to say " I am feeling something important right now and my tears are freeing the passage to it."

 As a parting gift each participant got a bracelet with a little dangling giraffe, the symbol of empathic communication. One of the things it reminds me is to make more space for myself and others to show and receive tears, even it it's not always easy.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

That other reader

He sat in the corner of the room, a newcomer to our book club. He was quiet, listening to our chatter and banter. Of course when you are new to something, you don't want to say anything first. You need to test the ground. After a while our moderator turned to him with a smile "And what do you think?".
The newcomer raised his eyebrows and gave us all a defiant look.
" First of all, if you had really read the stories you would have seen how inaccurate some of your theories are..." he stated.
" Could you point us to some examples?" continued the moderator pleasantly.
" No. Read the texts and you will know" he retorted. He didn't want to say anything more.   
 Still you don't give up on trying to engage new people, right?
 After a while I turned to him. 
"Maybe you would have other ideas of how to interpret the story?" I asked with a smile. 
"If I will want to speak, I will" he answered. 

I think at that point (the first time I was slightly taken aback and stunned) I might have given a meaningful look to the moderators or even rolled my eyes... Did I? I don't remember. There was definitely a feeling of discomfort, a wall between him and us. I think I even thought of him as plainly rude. 

He seemed to imply that were not being serious enough, trying to put the missing pieces of the literary puzzle based on our vague memory. We weren't backing up every argument with a quotation, we were jumping from general impressions to details, we were bringing up literary associations in a very free way.  He didn't approve of our mocking tone. 

I remembered how I  used to feel about the codes, the style of discussion in this club. How at times I do not feel totally comfortable with the Monty-Pyntonish tone. Today I was enjoying it. Have I started to feel at home here?

But then there is that itch, that question whether the newcomer will come again, whether we will be able to continue making efforts to make him welcome and at the same time show that even if we are not perfect readers, we would like some kindness and understanding too...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


As long as I remember this cuckoo clock was in the house where my Grandmother was born.  This house is no longer habited and I saw it empty, its habitants having moved to a larger and more comfortable house. I am glad that they have moved and have a better life. It overshadows the nostalgia over the empty rooms.  It was sweet to look at the clock once again and remember its ticking sound at meals at my Grandmother's sister house. 

Family visits indeed have a bitter-sweet taste or shall I say sweetly- bitter.

They remind me of who  I am and where I come from. I feel my own distinctiveness and how our family has moved on from the days when my Grandmother grew up in that village in the mountains, but it is all about understanding this path and feeling we breathe the same air. To laugh at the same jokes, and remember the taste of the same recipes. There is also an immense sweetness in discovering that with so many of your relatives it's not just the blood kin that bonds you, but also a sense of friendship and camaraderie. 

And then there is the bitterness of not being able to talk about the most important things, because they have been pronounced taboos. It creates clods in the flow of communication and damps the joy of being together.  There is also a bitter taste in the way it is easy to tell your family what is best for them because you think that coming from outside you know better. Finally, it feels so rushed because you want to see and satisfy everyone, but there just isn't enough time. 

All the same  the bitterness is worth the sweetness.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Talking about heaven and hell

 Today I read a striking comment of a  Polish well known feminist, moral philosopher and advocate of women's rights on how unwelcome she feels as an atheist in the Polish culture. All Saints Day,  is a moment for her to remind that not everybody believes in heaven and hell. Then she ridicules these concepts and shows how little meaning they have to her, and at the same time she does not feel less alive or less reflective on death because of that. 

I was sad to read the tone of this comment. The author is right that we shouldn't treat atheistic views on after life and death less seriously than those of people of faith. On the other hand, I do not want people's beliefs in after life to be simplified and mocked either. In fact, I think that there is neither nothing easy in believing in life after death  nor as it is in believing that there is nothing afterwards.  

 I hate these stereotypes that "atheists are careless about death" or "Christians have an easy consolation because there is heaven". We all have to face the inevitable perspective of death.  Whether we believe in eternity or not, we might experience fear, incertitude, curiosity. We  wonder about what will happen, how much of us will stay behind, what dying means to the present life and how to make the best of it. How to be live the fullest of lives (which what actually being saint means to Christians).

Why is it then that we cannot talk about it in the spirit of respect? Let heaven and hell be a metaphor, a point of debate, if they are not a reality of everyone, but let them start a real conversation.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I like it all

I like the quiet days when it's just me and my home, when I have all the time I need to focus on work.

I like the days buzzing with excitement at a training, where the learning and challenging my beliefs never stops.

I like the days  which are filled with meetings with  my friends,  and as our hearts unravel  I know that I belong. 

And yes, I do get tired and frustrated about the "having it all", deepening what I already have and reaching out to what is new.

Still, I like it all. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Beauty of anger

I used to think that anger was something to be repressed, avoided  and feared. 

But after a workshop I attended recently I  looked at anger with new eyes.

That wave of fever that runs through my body when I feel angry, that sudden splash of somebody else's anger  in my face  brings an energy that can take me somewhere important. 
What is my anger trying to tell me? 

Just as I was writing this post I got an e-mail with news that brought a hot flush to my cheeks.  I do have to say it didn't feel so beautiful at that moment, rather uncomfortable and disstressing.  I stopped for a moment asking myself what my anger was alarming me about. I tried to follow its energy and yet find a more compassionate side to it.   

And there it was showing its not so obvious beauty, softening and ready to guide me into something deeper. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

There's something about October

I have read already a few posts on my favourite blogs which are "odes" to October. I guess not much has changed since Keats and the beauty of seasons simply must be told over and over again. 

The way apples are crunchier than at any other time.

The way  the intense coulours of changing leaves remind me that change can be beautiful. 

The way with the days getting shorter the rays of sun become even more precious.

The way  the air is still crisp, but not too moist nor frosty. 

The way there is some more seriousness, maturity than in September,  which still belongs to the summer, and yet  it is filled with energy and briskness that is later swept by the melancholy of November.

The way it takes us gently into the autumn season. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Conversations with the heart

This is something I have been thinking a lot in the last years. Unrequited love. 

It can be an act of courage and living from your deepest conviction to care for someone even if  they won't love you back. 

But it can also mean a kind of withdrawal from life and holding back to something that doesn't change. 

It can mean that you have found something so precious that you put loving someone before fulfillment, you trust in your choices and intuition.

On the other hand it might bring your self-worth down to the point to believe "I don't deserve to be with anyone".

Is it unselfish, beautiful and romantic? Or is  it foolish, obsessive, delusional? 

Maybe it's the question how to live this kind of love. How to give that other person the freedom, and at the same time look after yourself, after your heart.  Be faithful to yourself and value your choice, even if the world should say otherwise, but at the same always be ready to question if that's what you really want. 

And the most important question of all: does it make you grow or does it withhold you. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Miss Representation

When I take the metro I often watch the women around me.  I observe how they are dressed,  their hairstyles  and the look on their faces. Obviously, I think about their age. When I look at a  woman who is younger than me I think "I am never going to  look like her again" and then when I look at an older woman I wonder how will I look at her age.  I think about what shapes beauty and whether it lasts.  Obviously I think of aging.
In a time when older women can be fit,  active and succeed, why should  I be afraid of aging?  As time passes why do I worry about changes if when I think of older women that I know and admire, all I see is their class and grace?...

I started writing this post before attending the Women's Congress in Warsaw on 15 September where I saw the documentary Miss Representation. 
The picture is now sharper to me, I understand more.  The film made me realize to what extent, almost subconsciously, the model of perfect beauty and youth influences me when  I look at myself and other women. 

I could say it's the media that promotes ideals I don't agree with, I could say that I value the heart and the intellect more than the looks (and I do), and I know age is just an etiquette and I would never let anyone judge my professional value on looks but... The truth is that there is always that moment, that incidental slip, that instinctive (though culturally acquired?) look and comparison.  

And I need to be aware of that, embrace naturality and imperfection even more.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Some thoughts on empathy for the "me, myself and I"


 When I  think of the things this world might need the most, empathy comes to my mind. Empathy is kind of a gentle power (gentle vs. soft which often means simply getting your way in a nicely-coated fashion)- the power to change how we feel in this world, and how we are with other people.

To me empathy is  for example trying to listen to the other person first before making a judgment, or at least noticing the judgment when it comes, and talking to yourself in a loving way. 

I wonder why sometimes being empathic toward yourself is so hard. It's easy to be over-critical ("I always screw up"), it's no so hard to be sympathetic ("Poor me"). 
But it's not so easy being  a gentle observer of oneself: (''Hmm I am not feeling so great right now, because I did something I didn't like, but maybe there is something I could do about this?")

This has been puzzling me, because I have been practicing empathy in many ways and I am becoming acutely aware of situations when my "I-need-empathy-alert" goes on. But empathy seems a gentle remedy, and in situations when my inner critic goes wild or my pity party wailing voices sing, I want to be drugged. "Let's pretend it never happened", "It just doesn't make sense"

I have felt the positive effects of self-empathy, it calms and soothes  the "me, myself and I" and makes me look around and ahead. But it takes time to absorb it, to learn to talk to myself this way.

So even though self-empathy can be spontaneous, is always there if I take the effort to switch my thoughts and words, but it's not a quick fix once for all, rather something that is (at least for now)  conscious decision and effort.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

It's all about the voice


Film critique writing workshops in  a little town Sokołowsko earlier this September at Hommage a Kieślowski Festival. I was surprised to discover to what extent writing film reviews  is about the essential  steps of writing process I have been learning about till now- finding your own writing voice, building up your knowledge and inspiration, writing about what draws you in, being brave and honest, taking the risk to write knowing not everyone might like it. We did talk about the structure, dos and don'ts, but that came second. 

It struck me also that being a film critic has all these shades that being a freelancer carries: the struggle for people to notice you, building your own brand, finding your way in the changing market, constant self-development, crossing that magic line between looking for projects and them finding you.

I might not become a film critic, but I recognize the path is so many ways...

Friday, August 24, 2012

Snow White and the Hunstman

As a birthday present one of my best friends took me out to the movies to the see "Snow White and Huntsman". We were actually lured into watching the movie because of the beautiful video "Breath of life" by Florence and the Machine, and it's sombre yet magical poetics. 

Fairy tales are magical. I felt instinctively that I would like this adaptation, and I did (even if it's perhaps nothing more than a Hollywood fantasy with a slight English touch). What struck me  was the feminist portrait of the two women: Snow White and the Queen. So let me a bit sentimental and ponder about them...

We usually see the two characters through the two archetypes: the  innocent maiden and the evil queen. But in this story we learn where the Queen's obsessions come from. She is not all but evil, she is also torn by pain and by the messages that her own mother and the society gave her about beauty. She has all the power in the world, but she does not feel safe. Perhaps it would be a little exaggerated to say that she is a metaphor of a woman with inner insecurities, who relies on the outer world to tell her she is of value, but don't we all sometimes wish for a magic mirror to reassure us?

Snow White is portrayed as a young woman finding her identity. She has to grow up, face her fears and uncertainties. When she runs away from the prison cell where she grew up, confined and in the darkness, yet separated physically of all the horrors of the queen's reign,  to the dark forest, she finds out that freedom has a high price. That she will have to keep on finding courage on and on again. She also faces guilt because people close to her get hurt and die.  In a powerful scene of the final confrontation with the queen, the queen questions her. How does she feel leading all those people to an unknown fate? Will she be able to stab the queen and kill her? 

The thread of the love story is shown very subtly. The hunter is not a perfect prince, rather a broken down man, who needs to be inspired and reawakened by a woman to find his nobleness and bravery.  Even the kiss that wakes her up, is a kiss of desperation, asking for forgiveness that he failed. 

When Snow White stands as the queen on her regained throne, she exchanges a look with the hunter. That is all, but it expresses their understanding, that things are as they should be. He is at her side, but it was her  that led the crowd to victory. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

August break -culinary delights

Joining other bloggers in the August Break fun of sharing those lovely  little summer moments.

                                                          Tastes of  August


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What is saving my life right now

There are two things saving my life right now, in the midst of this  summer when a part of me just wants to be on vacation, when I am figuring plans for next year, when things haven't slowed down just because it's summer
Gratitude.  Kind and tender words. 

Gratitude has become a practice for me. I learned this from Ike Lasater, my NVC mediation teacher. It happens usually when I go for my walk, sometimes I sit on a swing in our garden, but sometimes I simply catch a moment on the metro. I recall all the things I am grateful for, that somebody did for me said to me or that I did for myself or for others. Sometimes these are the things that happen without anybody's influence, like the blue sky. I am always amazed how naturally a wave of joy sweeps over me and I suddenly see all the good things in the day. There is no forced  biting the tongue of complaints. Things may still be turbulent and hectic, but I find the pieces that do makes sense. These are the kind words to myself. 

And then there are the tender words that I hear from others. They come unexpected, sometimes it's an e-mail, sometimes a call, sometimes in person. "I am happy to hear your voice", "I understand", "What you said or did the other day was helpful". "I enjoyed your cooking". Sometimes it's just as simple as that. I find myself instinctively waiting for them, I think we all do. It gives hope that what we try to do or be matters. And even if I spend the whole day in front the computer when I hear these things I know I am not alone. 

In writing this post I am joining the invitation of Sarah Bessey  who  was inspired by the question from Barbara Brown Taylor’s book “Leaving Church". I haven't read the book yet, but that one question makes it worth it to be on my reading list.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Book club girl

For the last year or so I have been trying to become a book club girl or put  it simply attend book club meetings.  Maybe in between the summer reads it's a good moment to look back at my experiences on the way to becoming a book club girl. 

Ever since I have heard about book clubs I have wanted to join one.  It's one of those things that sounds so nice if you can say about yourself "I belong to a book club" (makes you feel more so much more sophisticated and intellectual, but ouch is that my real motivation?). 

It is a  wonderful way to be reading regularly. I love reading, but it does not mean I am committed to it. I often choose the easy way and settle for reading blogs and journal articles because to actually read a book I need to make an effort to go to the library or bookshop (or in the very least put an order on a book on-line).  And so attending book clubs meetings is in a practice of self-discipline and commitment. The book clubs I belong have an easygoing framework. You don't have to announce you will come beforehand, you are free to come to all meetings or only some. There is a lot of freedom in this, but then life often gets in the way. Even if a meeting is once a month or every other two weeks often something comes up. So I must say that coming to the meetings is a already a challenge. 

There are some things about book clubs that are as I had imagined. It is  amazing  to have this time with people who want to discuss literature for hours, are happy to dwell on the characters' motivations (or the authors) and come together just for the pleasure of intellectual discussion. How often in our hectic world do feel that just to meet up and talk about something is purposeful? 

Hoverer, I did not think that being with book clubs with their seemingly relaxed format (we sit in a cafe talk and laugh) could create a tense atmosphere.  In the book clubs I go to there is such a variety of opinions, of readership experience that our discussions can be quite heated. It is not that people are unkind, that sometimes it is unbelievable how a book can arouse opposite opinions of love and hatred. So do the characters and their motivations. 

This is definitely a place to practice self-expression and self-confidence. Especially that usually there is usually one or two people who have a very strong personality, persuasive tone of voice and radical views on what is literary value. They are simply intimidating. I am one of those readers that has somewhat of old fashioned tastes- I like good, innocent characters, happy endings and nostalgic ambiance. The "sophisticated readers" as I call them will often complain and criticize what I enjoy about literature.  If there is no postmodern fragmentation, ambiguity, formal experiments, a sombre (aka realistic portrait) of the human nature they consider the books uninteresting. In those moments I begin to question my tastes and choices and my voices becomes somewhat timid. 

But in fact the real debate begins when from the plot, characters and style we move on to discussing the themes and problems depicted in the book.We  all bring in our life experiences and confront about our values and systems of conviction. You become even more vulnerable because you don't hide behind the book any longer but say what you think. 

Here I must say that there is something magical about literature that you can end up discussing everything you want. After all isn't that what books are also for? In the book club you don't just discuss books, you discuss the world. Literature becomes alive.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Lady Greville

The beautiful woman on the portrait is Margaret Greville. She was only Mrs Greville, but I like to think of her as lady Greville. I guess it fuels my romantic ideas about the England and its aristocracy. And possibly if you entertained the monarchs in your house and were a friend of queen Mary, isn't that enough to be called a lady?  

I visited her estate Polesden Lacey and was intrigued by her character. She was famous for being a gracious society hostess and her parties and events were known all over England in  the Edwardian times. The beautiful interiors take your breath away. But what caught my attention was that hosting and entertaining people was more than just a pass time for her, way to build connections (although her husband was a politician so it was important) or a social obligation. It was a certain choice of what to do with her life, the opportunities and wealth that was given to her.  As one of the volunteer guides in the house told me ,,Many rich people sit on money they have. She enjoyed it". 

Not that organizing parties is a noble mission itself (although she held many charity events and was involved in patriotic actions during the Great War), but how she did it. Every little detail in the house arrangement as well as in the planning of the parties was thought as to please her guests and make them feel as comfortable as possible.  I don't think that it was just the money she spent on having exquisite food or house (although the menus and the decor are impressive)  that attracted her friends and acquaintances. After all these were all rich people who could afford good food and probably had beautiful houses too.  I like to think it was her warm spirit and the intention she put in welcoming them. This is certainly the impression that I got looking at the thank you notes and listening to stories told by the guides. 

And then there was the fact that she quickly became a widow. She did not remarry nor did she have any children. Perhaps that is also why she wanted her house  filled with laughter and chatter.

Lady Greville  was a very discreet person. She asked all her personal writing to be destroyed after her death. Her final gesture was to leave the house to the National Trust, so that other people could come and enjoy the house. In the end I felt more as a guest than a tourist.

It was by chance that on the day I visited Polsdenlace was the anniversary of passing away of someone very close to me. However little I know of the real Margaret Grenville, she made me think of the woman I loved and lost.  She too opened her house family, friends and acquaintances. My "Lady Greville" did not have parlors  with gilded walls nor did she make miniature sandwiches that looked like works of art, just a big kitchen and a china set made of various bits and pieces. But she put on so much passion in the food she made, greeted her guests with so much happiness, that she will always be the perfect hostess to me. 

To me inviting someone for tea, dinner or party will always have a deeper meaning- an act of friendship and love.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Walk in the clouds

I have been angry at the weather lately. Wherever I am it just isn't warm. It is not cold either. I just don't feel at ease at outside anymore. There is a strange humidity and restlessness in the air. 

In the last days I have been staring at the clouds a lot. Trying to figure out if there is a glimpse of sunshine coming through or not. And then after the silly staring and useless predictions, the clouds have got me.

 I have forgotten somehow, how beautiful and majestic they are. How they glide through the sky smoothly and effortlessly. How change from an angry, gray  mass  to a gentle brush of white three thousand times a day. How you can stare at them for hours and think of the hidden kingdoms beneath them. 

My anger has turned into a meditation. I look at the clouds and don't care for the weather anymore. I am curious what shapes they will take, what shade of grey and white, what drama they will play...

                                         ( photo by my brilliant nephew)

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Stopping to travel

In a book on motor development I have read that the most  sophisticated form of movement is stillness, because that's when it's the hardest to keep the balance. 

It's a bit like with traveling. To really let the traveling experiences sink into you, you need to find the time after the travel to reflect on it, to write, to talk to other people about it.

Such days maybe seem uneventful and slow, and actually hard to fit in the schedule, because when you come back from travel or go on to the next one, there are so many urgent things calling you...

In a way all of my travels have been incomplete because I have been missing up on days like that, the days in-between, where you can be with your head and heart  before you embark on another journey.

This is my travel resolution: to find times to stop in order to travel more fully. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Loving the process

While doing some procrastination today (though I have been fighting hard!) I read a compelling post by Tara Sophia Mohr on how we look at our career (but other life goals too) mostly through the moments of completion and achievement. Tara notices  that we can have the false impression that these are the moments which constitute our happiness. What about everything that is in between? What about living the present moment? And here comes Tara's important point: if we don't love what we do, if we are not driven by the inner joy and passion the way towards the goal/deadline/completion of project might not be more than blood and tears.

This made me think how I view my work. How sometimes it is so fragmented, bouncing between the moments of completion and maybe achievement and all those days when I cannot get into the process, and then end up doing things last minute, stretching my limits and resilience, fighting off the little voice of imperfection. What does that mean? How can find love for the process of the things I do?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

In between writing

I have missed my blog.  It has been waiting here, patient yet eager to be nourished. 

There is some joyfully sweet sadness in me right now. This little blog of mine has become an important part of my life and if I miss it, it's because I want to write here.  I am starting to understand what I have been reading about in the last months that in order to live a creative life you need to make a commitment to it.   For so long I have been struggling to make writing an every day commitment. And this blog is becoming my commitment, my  stepping stone to a creative life.

When I tell people that I started blogging, some of them sigh nostalgically "I tried blogging for some time but didn't manage to keep it up."  It's not about comparing myself with them. Probably blogging was not their way to nourish the creative muse and I am sure that they will find their own path.  But being that  person who could  never stick  to  new habits I can see that little change coming. After my first longer blogging absence I am back. And I want to stay.

Me and my blog  need to build some more trust. It needs a place in my life between my work, travels and thousand of other things. I need to learn how to look after it and make it grow as you grow a garden. Because it promised me that something in my life will bloom. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The curse of May

Don't get me wrong, there are some things I love about May. The world looks so beautiful in May, people start to walk around with this dreamy, joyful look in their faces and there is a bubble of excitement in the air.  But because everything happens in May, sometimes it is too much. 

May is a month of graduations, conferences, exams, project completion (or beginnings), parties-you name it.  Take this week for example. I could be at:

- 2 interesting trainings 
- birthday party of a friend  in France
- an interesting event on employment in Brussels
- an important event on the future of an NGO I am involved with
- a social (possibly networking?) event in Warsaw for translators
- one of the most important documentary film festivals in Warsaw 

...and to add up to this I am leaving for work for Paris to work  next Sunday

Of course there is no way I can make it everywhere. I have tried to make the best choice I could, this time thinking about the commitments I had already made. 

This is May though.  So much is about choices, priorities and strategies that it's hard to just breathe in its beauty

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The world from the sandbox

Today was my first outing with both of my niece and  nephew. I have been out with my niece before, but logistics is much more sophisticated when you have got one in a stroller and the other one running around freely.  

We spent the morning on a playground in the park. Luckily that even though I felt clumsy   (how do you take out and put back in a six month old gracefully into the stroller) my little group was confident. It was their world after all, and  I was only a guest.  They were so angelic too, simply wanting to have fun and asking for my attention when they needed it, but no tempers on that day.

I did a lot of bench watching. I wondered who all these women were (there were mostly women). I thought I could identify mothers and grandmothers, but now I am wondering if there were  any babysitters or aunts like me.

It was quite a social scene, especially in the mythical sandbox. First lessons on cooperation and sharing (do I let the others make the sandcastle with me?), age differences (a three year old and a one year old are ages apart!) and  different visions of creative process (one sandcastle mold doesn't equal the other!).  And adults navigating in all that, trying to teach manners, solve conflicts and showing how to find  the wet sand to make a real sandcastle.

The playground seemed like a very safe and protective place on that day.  Adults were looking out for children, not just their own-it was nice to see that mothers actually played with the kids, and how they accommodated other children,  into the play. (Not that I did not try to have my eyes everywhere).

The pure joy children find in play, it was good to be away from intellectual work, from the computer, and wonder when to serve snack.

And next time I will be the experienced aunty- I will handle the stroller more gracefully, know how to divide the time between  my little guy and  my little lady, and definitely bring the suncream!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Resistance and serenity

Gorgeously warm, sunny long May holiday week.  I have been wiggling in my chair on the garden balcony, trying to focus on the work I planned to do, but a part of me kept pouting that I am not soaking the sun far from civilization.

I took this picture on an evening walk near by my flat where there is a little pond, a touch of nature among the  expanding blocks of flats. I thought of all the people that I saw going for lazy walks and even making small picnics on what ever small spaces of green they could find. And a wave of gratitude came to me that this one of those times when people are remembering to stop, to spend some time with their friends and family, to just breathe in life. Even if I cannot do this completely right now, my time will come. Resistance  to what I chose to do is neither helping me to get the work which is important to get done neither to relax. And what ever I do I can still enjoy the moments of beauty like at that pond. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Why I can't seem to get to the post office

I love getting letters.  I always look into my mailbox with this kind of hopefulness (but no expectations) as if it was still the era of sending letters. And I am always thinking to whom I would like to send a letter or a package and I imagine the joy they could have from receiving it. 

Yet when it comes to actually getting that letter written/package wrapped up and then actually going to post office and sticking on a stamp it's such a dread to actually make it happen. 

The post office is right behind the corner. I have a set of nice cards at home. And even some envelopes. 

True, the post office no matter what time of the day I  go  is always crowded. And there is that reminiscence of irrational post-communist era fear that when dealing with public servants you will do something wrong and they will tell you off or say something unpleasant.  Not to mention that horrible sound of post marks being stamped with full force on the envelopes. 

But there must be more to it. Is it about writing the perfect letter? Is about the big decision what to put in the package (it must be perfect after all)?  Is about that impatience ( I will have to wait so long for the letter to reach its destination)? Or maybe because sending letters and packages feels so real, has its own procedure and pace that you cannot control. 

Not that writing e-mails feels any easier, but there is such a difference when you actually write, seal and stamp an envelope. There is a  gravity and solemnity to the whole process that sending e-mails will never have.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lost in translation

Now that I have started writing this blog, I am writing a lot in English. And it is delightful. However, Polish is still my mother tongue, my first language, the language of my thoughts and prayers. And I have noticed that I do not have many opportunities to free-write in Polish. I translate, I write e-mails and that is all for my Polish.

And then there is French. Writing in French will never be easy, although I have learned to feel this language better. French is crying "when is it going to be my turn? You do not own me enough and you do nothing to do it!"

Choosing the language for this blog was not an easy choice. Shouldn't I be writing in Polish? But I want to write in English. I just do.  Oh, I will never be able to show it to my French-speaking-only  friends... 

I hoped that writing would help me to weave together the different bits of my life. But when it comes to languages they just symbolize the different pieces of my heart that  need translation...

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Blessed time

Even though I am not perfectly spiritually prepared let this be a time  to feel the joy that comes after the sorrow, the hope that comes even when we have no proof.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Ordinary courage

Courage is my word for the year 2012. I was inspired  to  choose the word of the year by

I am not acting very courageously, not yet. But whenever I feel afraid to do even a small thing and I remember that my word is courage this helps me to stay on track. I found this a very powerful exercise. Whenever I consciously remind myself what the word is, then I have the power to act. 

The courage I am seeking  is the "ordinary courage" that Brene Browns talks about in her wonderful books and articles.

The courage to be myself- acknowledge that what I think, what I want, what I feel is important and mine-even if it goes against what other people might think
The courage to take responsibility for what I do  and choose
The courage to be authentic-to say no even if it is easier to say yes
The courage to make phone calls
The courage to let go of relationships, actions, beliefs that do not make me grow
The courage to make decisions
The courage to be the first person  talk to new people
The courage to be the first to reconnect with old friends and acquaintances
The courage to do things without praise and approval 
The courage to carry out my ideas
The courage to ask for feedback
The courage to make requests....

I plant this list here, to watch it grow, to understand  my word for 2012 better. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

 The moments we stop to really be with the people we love something grows  in us...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Rabbit Hole

The "Rabbit Hole", my Saturday night movie, has turned out completely different than what I thought it would be. I was lured to watch it because of the poster I had seen with allusions to the "Others" and "Sixth Sense". I expected that the film would take me for a journey on verge of two worlds, an intense mix of psychological suspense and thriller.

 But the film doesn't really explore the other reality (although it it becomes an important motive in the story), only gently hints it. There are no stunning plot twists or double personalities. It is not a thriller. Not a mystery.

And yet I cannot say it let me down. There is such an emotional intensity, that is slowly being built up, until the climax.

I watched the drifting apart of Becca and Howie with growing anxiousness. And maybe now that I think about it  for a moment I was in some way irritated with Becca for being cold. I could not entirely connect with her pain through her anger until paradoxically she showed the deep anger, that was at the core of her grief. 

I am not sure I can quite explain the difference between this anger or irritation that is on the surface of things and the one that really shares what is going in inside you. That lets you connect.

It's like with that difference in talking about things  and being heard and sharing. Becca and Howie try talking with each other, they talk with their friends with their family. They try being honest. They seem to be doing the "right" things. Do something. Cope. And yet it seems to just create more distance.

At some point the changes do happen in the film. Heart- to-heart conversations do take place. There is a way to find some relief. To reconnect.

But if you asked me to describe what has to happen to get there, I cannot say exactly.  That's part of the mystery of the film. Of grieving itself.  And I like the way "The Rabbit Hole" portrays that. That is real.

Maybe it's about giving yourself the time and the space to live this time the way you need to, to follow your intuition, even if it seems the way Becca does meeting that young boy. But how do you that so that you don't cut others off?

Maybe it's about keeping constantly ready to reach out they way Howie is, or Becca's mother, to keep on showing love. But how do you do it in a way that you don't find yourself being over nice and blow up in the end because you don't feel cared for?

How to be there for the other person without giving advice, recipes, and yet being authentic--because there are things you want to say?

I think it was a film I needed to see that night.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

On not knowing

Yesterday I had a morning tea  with a dear friend of mine and we ended up talking about whether it is fair/right/proper/normal* not to know what you want to do in life when you are thirty-ish.

*Now that I think about it  I think what we were really asking ourselves was it is nurishing for me not to know  what I want to do with my life? Is it supportive for me? Does it move me forward? Does it sustain me?
If someone looked at the situation from the outside perhaps they might say that  we are both doing things we enjoy doing and we are hopefully good at, we are both working (although perhaps we are not working the regular number of hours a week), we are more less financially independent (although the situation is far from perfect) and yet there is something missing. The general sense of direction. Setting goals. Saying "this is it".

But then as I shared with my friend, there are things we do know. We have had some experiences and we know some of the things we don't want to do. We do know the things we do want to experience and do. We do have some goals. We know what makes us passionate. We know some of things we do well.

So what don't we know? I wonder if we both know what our mission statement is. What we were born here to give to the world. 

And I don't know what is the thing which is the most important thing for me right now.

I don't know if deep down I am okay with giving myself time not to know (because I worry other people are not okay with that). I don't know if I am consciously giving myself this time to find out.

I don't know if I am okay with not being able to define myself with the job I do.

I know some of the things I want to do or achieve, but deep down I don't know if I want them because  there is always that little voice telling me are you sure they are worth it? Are you worthy?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Here comes the sun...

I experienced a sweet moment with the sun  today as I was coming home from my coaching session.

I left that coaching sessions full of emotions. I don't know what I was feeling exactly. I felt I had dug deep, to my emotions and beliefs, I felt more alive and alert.  But there was no exact conclusion. I felt a mixture of fear and incertitude about finding my path. And then there was that part of me filled with quiet resignation, that I had know this session would not be easy.

The sun was trying to uplift me, I could feel it. It was time for it to leave, to settle down for the night, and yet it spent a moment with me, accompanied me on some of the way.

,,Don't worry" it seemed to smile" Just be with what is. It is all beautiful. Just be with what you experienced there, what you learned. Even if you cannot make the decision right now. "

It seemed strange to me to let myself feel happiness in a moment, when I was no closer to solutions.  Yet, sun's gentleness swept over me. It was so bright, so intense, that last moment  before it  settled for the night. And shone just for me.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Revolutionary Road-That's where it all started

I wrote this post back in 2009... But I actually came up with it already in 2008. That's when I saw the film that shook me up. That was the year when I started dreaming of creating a blog, of coming back to/starting writing. I decided to keep this post in my attempt once again to bring this blog to life. How many times can we fall down and start up again? As long as it takes I guess. And this post talks about what I wanted this blog originally to be about-asking my burning, provoking, inspiring and touching questions. About the things I care about. 

Don’t we all have our “Paris” like April in "Revolutionary Road":  a place, a time, a situation or condition if only it happened we’d be happy, fulfilled? This little illusion that sparkles in the darkness of the dread of the everyday existence. Of course as we all know it turns out that when we find ourselves in Paris it is not as we had thought it would be and it might turn as a total disaster. But there is that little voice inside which cannot be ushered no matter what. I’ve had mine too.

There is a certain temptation to read the film as what the costs are of not being able to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, about missing what is close. After all April in her absolute quest for Paris was missing on a lot of things. The baby she carries, a fruit of that passionate moment on the kitchen counter, does not remind her that she is capable of being happy with her husband, even if those moments where so brief and fragile. She seems not to notice that she has made a difference in somebody’s life, someone who is not a part of that little suburban theater she dreads. It is as if she was wearing blinds on her eyes and could not turn around to see that even in the golden cage as she called it there could be a chance for discovery.

 But then what if she did want to go to Paris? Was it wrong of her to hope for it? Just because it was naive, unrealistic and probably would not change much? Is it wrong for April to trust her instinct, her institution?

Frank and April keep talking about compromise. Mature, stable loving couples, or maybe all relationships, are about reaching a compromise, aren’t they?. A compromise which is about giving up something and get something in return. A compromise means peace, doesn’t it? But what kind of compromise do April and Frank have? At all times there is one person who gives in more than the other. Especially at the end it seems that April clenches her teeth, at that terrible breakfast which hides so much violence and pain under her terrible perfect smile, that even Frank senses something is wrong. April was the one who made her first move out to change anything and now ironically she ends up with no bright perspectives.

Staying at home, throwing yourself out there, compromising... none of these seem to work in the film. The film doesn't give easy answers. Only questions. Which burn and sting.