Sunday, 12 April 2015

Ramblings on Gratitude - week 15

Coming weeks these words will dominate my thoughts: affirmation, attention and affection.

In trying to make a better world around me, giving all to ‘the others’ (reference to #Lost), I’ve lost a sense of myself. I’m on a new journey and re-discovering myself. I need to pay more attention to myself.  Act on what makes me really happy. I really need to stop picking up the emotions of ‘the others’ and focus on those I have. I’m sensitive to those who surround me.  I sometimes get lost trying to figure out if I’m solving my own problem or that of ‘the others’. I’m slowly starting to understand it is not my own problem I’m tackling. The resistance I encounter is actually not mine but theirs. Wow, getting lost in my trail of thought.  That happens to me often too. My thoughts get all jumbled.

I can not always control what goes on outside. But I can always control what goes on insideWayne Dyer. My affirmation ~I attract only peace into my life. I need to remind myself of this many times a day. I need to practice this at work, while doing errands, shopping and standing in line at the check-out, greeting new people, driving my car, taking the elevator, talking with people on the phone. I need to remind myself of this affirmation many times on a given day.

Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. Have the courage to follow your own heart and intuition.” Steve Jobs. This quote popped up on my Momentum dashboard. Have you discovered Momentum? Do check it out.

I have mental toughness! But you knew that didn’t you? Like so many of you, I too get slapped by the irrational or unfairness of what ‘the others‘ put out there. Irrational people suck the life out of me. I go numb and tune out at meetings. And now I will suffer the consequences! At least that is what they want me to think. Lucky for me I developed over time the inner strength to respond to adversity in a resilient and dignified way. I’m taking responsibility and not blaming myself or ‘the others‘ for everything that happens. I’m creating a calming space for me to be at my best. I’m moving forward with focused action. I’m learning from this experience and developing new skills that will serve me well in the future. I will not join and mimic bad behavior. I’m choosing to spend time with like-minded peers. I’ve found my gift; I’ve found my purpose. I have the ‘grit’ to get there.  For that I’m grateful.  

Brené Brown again is able to voice what is happening to me. “If we are brave enough, often enough, we will fall”. ~ Rising Strong ~ is the book about what it takes to get back up. I want a ‘wholehearted life’. I know I’m on track but just in case I will go and read her new book. Sadly I have to wait till coming September when it is released.

I am the woman in the arena!

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. Theodore Roosevelt, 23 april 1910.

I am a gladiator. If you are curious, just look up the traits of a gladiator. But to be cheeky, gladiators always do the right thing, they step up and make tough decisions, they lead by example, they respect and appreciate the efforts of others and they learn what works and implement replicable processes to succeed. Gladiators have a mission for which they feel real passion. Gladiators create a vision. Gladiators lead from the front, they don’t dictate from the back! Gladiators know there is strength in teams and encourage risk-taking. Gladiators keep their heads in a crisis and prepare for battle 24 hours a day. But most important gladiators are teachers and mentors. Greg Smith.

So with affection I will step into the arena again and again. I am a gladiator!

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Stonefields Bee - Zutphen

Well I have to share the lovely photos of some of the blocks that the other quilters made from the Stonefields bee that I visited yesterday. Even I have something to show. Naturally I had to take some pictures while walking from the carpark to the shop.

Spring has sprong!

Look at all those lovely blocks

One of the quilters wasn't that happy with this block, that is shown underneath. I think it is pretty.

Well all the photos from now on are from the block I'm working on. The backside. Very important to show. Will iron this a little later on! Need to make the backside look pretty too. 

The front side

The perfect circles being sewn on

Oops, these little blocks are not mine. Bep is doing an alternative for the hexies. I was allowed to make a picture of them.

The sun is showing itself on the way back to the car

Here the continuing progress of me sewing on the perfect circles

This is amazing glue. Have you discovered Roxanne's Glue-Baste-it? This incredible appliqué glue is 100% water-soluble and dries in minutes. Holds firmly and it does not feel stiff when dry. I was a little scared to use it, but another quilter convinced me when I was allowed to try some of hers first. So guess who bought her own unique syringe applicator? I just have to place a droplet of glue and the perfect circle stays where I want it and I can appliqué it on. No pins. Appliqué has become easy.

Okay, one done, another to go!

On my way to finish this last block.

Ramblings on Gratitude - week 14

The transformative power of gratitude to me is huge. At the moment I’m preparing myself to go on a new journey. I’m facing one of my fears and accepting that ‘others‘ have the power to define this journey. I’m feeling the fear. I’m anxious since someone threw me a curveball at a time I least expected it. I was on a roll the past couple of weeks. Having one of the best experiences in my life. Find my niche and enjoying this gift. I’m now however waiting for the euphoria that comes after meeting your fears and totally proving them to be groundless (Mike Dooley, 2015). I’m hoping that my fear is groundless.

When you feel fear, it invariably means you're:
1. Exactly where you're supposed to be.
2. Doing exactly what you're supposed to be doing.
3. Becoming more than you've ever been before! (Mike Dooley,2015).

I know that worrying is a total waste of time. It doesn’t change anything. All it does is steel your joy and keep you very busy doing nothing (Lionel Willard). I've tried it and it doesn't work!

It is kind of funny that my attitude gets me in trouble every time, especially my inquisitive attitude. I’m critical and insightful. Usually I’m praised for this. I try to understand the person, and people in general. I listen! I love sharing my knowledge, views and vision. Trying out new things is the explorative part of me. Being innovative and not being scared of change is me (this trait usually curves me well). Putting this experience into practice makes me rather successful and enables me to achieve my goals and the goals of others. Being a researcher is not just a role it is who I am. Sadly, this trait convokes fear in others.  People in general are scared to move forward and embrace change. I love change and new experiences. Exploring is what I need to do.

Every time I think I’ve got fear figured out, I learn something new that helps me to understand me. Fear isn’t something to deal with and get past it. It is a signal that I need to take action ‘now’. I realise a window of opportunity is opening for me. This is what Mike Dooley means: becoming more than you’ve ever been before. I’m grateful for this insight.

The bells in the part of me that ‘knows’ that I need to go for IT are ringing. Since Thursday my mind and body are on full alert, the neck pain and backache are signs that my body is in stress. Getting past my fears is more important than ever. My body can’t handle this stress for long!

Maybe I just should be grateful that that someone threw me that curveball. Maybe I’ve stopped growing and I’ve achieved what I was meant to do. I have to stop avoiding being chained by this fear that I’m not happy when I feel not being accepted for who I am, the inquisitive Helen. I have to stop seeking tranquility and trying to conform.

Seeking this tranquility is crippling. Me trying to fit in is blocking my ability to be the best at what I do. It seems I’m not the only one who is being encouraged to be like everyone else. The organizations we work in, the society we live in, is teaching us to avoid unpleasantness, deny reality and miss opportunities, by showing us that when you don’t conform you will be dismissed. We are learning to live with the fear to fail, the fear of dismissal, the loss of social status and income. Ultimately this can lead to depressive feelings. The prevalence of depression is high in the Netherlands. The percentage of people with anxiety or depression varies between 34 to 45% in the Netherlands (RIVM). Usually this also affects the quality of life. Quality of life declines! This also affects absenteeism! The percentage of employees that were absent from work in 2010 is above the EU27 average (RIVM). In the Netherlands 40% of the working force is one to 15 days absent from work. Who would have thought? Heinz Bude, a German sociologist, proposes and interesting perspective.

We live in constant fear and either become depressed, conform or never meet our expectations. The message society is trying to give is to be yourself and seek your full potential in our individualistic society. But underneath on a relational level we hear that we prefer everyone to be the same. I wish I could read German. I would really like to read Heinz Bude’s (2014) essay, Gesellschaft der Angst (Hamburger Edition). If someone who is reading my blog and know where I can find a translation of this essay, please message me.

It is hard to teach a dog a new trick. I can’t change my inquisitive personality. I do realize that this leads to irritations, envy, and discomfort in some people. Let’s just decide we need to accept each other’s habits; the good ones as well as the bad habits. Is this too easy to expect that we can accept each others habits?

I’m listening to my fear but I won’t obey it. I’m at a crossroads. Wondering where this path will go.

As you know I have an INFJ personality (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator). I therefore flourish in a career that involves developing deep insights into people, and helping them to change for the better. I like a good working atmosphere where I can use innovative ways to give people insight, build relationships and reduce conflict. I like a workplace where there is more:

  • thinking about ideas and information (Introversion)
  • dealing with possibilities and potential (iNtuition)
  • making decisions using subjective values (Feeling)
  • using a well-defined and structured workstyle (Judgment)
I need to know that what I do has meaning, helps others, and leads to personal growth. It really helps when this is possible in line with my values, principles and beliefs. Usually my strengths make me easy to work with. Sadly, there is always someone who will take advantage of INFJs’ commitment to their responsibilities by simply shifting their burdens onto me. I usually don’t even mind. However, there are times it becomes an issue, when that person isn’t happy with the result. Especially when that person doesn’t feel appreciated and isn’t getting the attention that person believes she deserves.

Wondering what your personality type is?

A flaw in my character/personality is that I don't tolerate someone who undermines my ethics or values. I have no tolerance for lapses in reliability or morality. I'm also not good with attention seekers. How hard I try not to show or act on this, some how it shows. I can't hide my true feelings and emotions. The usual sensitive, understanding, and principled person becomes dysfunctional. Yes, I don't react well in such cases. I therefore need to step back and act the lone wolf from time to time, pursuing my own goals in my own ways. I avoid (certain) people and this doesn’t make me popular. My weaknesses are my sensitivity, that I’m extremely private (although you might not think so when you have been following my blog for some time or are reading this post), and I always need a cause (goal). I can burn out easily. I find it hard to balance my ideals with the realities of day-to-day living. I'm a little perfectionistic. 

I crave working in a meaningful setting where creativity is a necessity. Using my insight to connect events and situations to effect change is where I’m happiest. I like being independent, following my heart, applying a personal touch, creativity and altruism to everything I do. Teaching gives me that satisfaction. It is rewarding and gives me energy. 

At the moment it feels like I’m under scrutiny, I’m wilting under the criticism and pressure of some people who want me to conform. I’m trying to figure out how to remain being me and not be confined by what the ‘others‘ want me to be. Although when I ask how they want me to act, they can't be specific in their answer. I really need some clarity. I really hope to understand what they want from me. 

So lets do IT and hopefully I can handle the consequence. I’m on a crossroads (again) and wondering which path to take. Both paths seem attractive. I’m grateful I'm conquering my fear and that I’m up for another challenge. 

Sunday, 29 March 2015

What have 'I' learned in March?

1. Teaching is my gift! To teach others to become critical thinkers, to understand and apply their knowledge, to share this knowledge with others and be creative is a very satisfying job. I absolutely love mentoring their learning process. The greatest thing of all is that I learn too.

2. I’ve also learned that when ‘others‘ acknowledge this gift, it makes me happy. I seem to need this re-enforcement. Knowing it myself is just not enough.

3. Sharing your successes is not the way to go in Dutch society. What frustrates me is that it is so hard to remain positive, when you are surrounded by naggers.  I’ve learned that I only need one or two people who are more focused on the negative than the positive, to affect my mood.

4. There are only 24 hours in a day and work shouldn’t take up all of them. I have this compelling need to try and finish all the tasks on my to-do list. I feel guilty when I’m not working, as my list is very long. I’m learning to prioritize and make choices! I’m even getting help to tackle this problem. But I have to admit that I’m a little scared that when I have the courage to 'voice' my choices some people might not be so happy with me. To be really truthful, I can prioritize and I can make choices. The reason I don’t voice them is that I’m scared of the consequences.

5. I’ve learned that writing has a healing affect. Blogging is not dead.

6. I like discovering. I’m a curious person. I loved discovering Zwolle with my mum.

7. Listening to Jason Mraz in the morning is a great way to start your day, next to your first cup of coffee

8. I’m the happiest in my work when I care the least about what happens.

9. This quote says a lot about who I am. ‘Identity is never simply a creation. It is always a discovery‘ ~ Dr. David Benner (2004)

10. When the wind is blowing hard and rain is added to the equation, I don’t like to walk. I can’t wait for spring to really arrive so that I can get back into the rhythm of walking.

11. I really love this block, one of the 225 blocks in the Dear Jane Quilt.

Here are the 11 things I’ve learned in March.

I need to add one more! I don’t like odd numbers. 12. I’ve learned, I like to ponder and wonder about things. I also like to share my thoughts with you. At the end of April I will share with you what I’ve learned in April.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Ramblings on Gratitude - week 12

There are 3 principal means of acquiring knowledge… observation of nature, reflection, and experimentation. Observations collects facts; reflection combines them; experimentation verifies the result of that combination. Denis Diderot; French philosopher, art critic and writer; 1713-1784.

I’m pretty content with my ability to observe and act on those observations. This ability serves me well as a researcher but also as a teacher. I’ve learned to tune in and pay attention to new things. This has taken years of practice. And I realize I will never stop learning. Our brains aren’t meant to see everything. We have learned to focus on specific things and then filter out everything else. I like to challenge myself to pay attention to new things. Expand my skillset. It is important to realize, to expand your skillset; you need to retrain your brain to pay attention to what’s important at that moment.

When observing you have to realize that your memory is lousy. You really can’t rely on your memory. So when you need to really pay attention, you need to take all sorts of notes and keep careful track of the things that are likely to matter. So you have to decide what you want to look for to retrain your eye. Actually you need to sometimes be aware that you need to retrain all your senses. Your brain can play funny tricks on you. Keeping a logbook all of a sudden seems a very handy tool. But making a photo of film clip is just as effective to improve your observation skills.

Challenging yourself by training your observational skills is easy.  Just take field notes. Pick a place, sit down, and write out everything you see. This trains your brain to pay more attention and observe more.

I would love to be a profiler. I love observing people. Trying to understand why people act as they do is another area of interest. But first I need to understand why I do things as I do them. I’m really better at observing others, than I am about understanding myself. Why is that, I ask?

Reading body language and expressions is a great pastime. I’m not so good in detecting lies. I always look for the good and expect that the ‘others‘ have good intentions too. As you may realize I get disappointed often.  People aren’t as nice as I want to believe.

Observing is great but it becomes useful once you learn how to pick out the patterns. Detecting those patterns is a great intellectual endeavor. At the moment I’m trying to teach ‘others‘ to detect those patterns. The more you observe, the more you ask why. The more you ask why, the more you learn. The critical thinking that follows is what can help you come up with new ideas, new insights. It is amazing when you see this happen. I make a happy dance, when I realize I’ve enabled others to experience the wonders of observation.

HMB Endeavor (replica of Captain Cook's ship)
the British Royal Navy Vessel that Captain Cook commanded
on his first voyage of discovery of Australia & New Zealand

Combining the observed patterns with your own experience allows you to predict what happens next. Predicting the effect of my teaching makes me glad. A sense of joy arises.

I’m trying to slow down and stop to pay attention a little more than usual on Sundays. Sunday is my slow day. I try to focus on one thing. Today I’m focusing on observing. My observations turn into new ideas by critically analyzing what I observe. It is important to ask yourself lots of questions. This improves your deduction skills. You will be amazed how many questions pop into my head every moment. It is tiring sometimes. To question everything! I’m training my brain to make connections between things and build a greater body of knowledge. Inductive reasoning is my preferred approach.  But using top-down logic (deductive reasoning) comes just as easy to me. This really comes in handy when you are a teacher, who teaches about research methods.

All of a sudden I’m pondering about abductive reasoning. Need to understand this a little more than I do at this moment.

As a quiltmaker observation is a very important skill. I first need to study how the technique is done before I can do it myself. Actually, to be truthful, I just copy and before I know it I’ve become a practitioner.

A practitioner is a person who regularly does an activity that requires skill or practice. As a quiltmaker, I can say making quilts by hand requires skill and practice. Synonym for practitioner is interpreter. To understand something, you first need to observe.

I’m learning a new technique. I’m learning to make my first Cathedral window quilt. I’m using the pink fat quarters cut into tiny little bits of fabric for my cathedral windows. 

The start of my own Cathedral Window quilt

Hopefully it will look like something like this, one day!