Once upon a time…no, just kidding… It was exactly three years ago, when I moved into my new flat. The very first moment I saw it, I knew – it is my place to recover. Since then, I’ve lived every inch of that place. The balcony in particular.
Plants never grew around me. When I was a girl, I had few cactuses and that was it. But they dried.
My mother, on the other hand, grew a blooming cascades on our balcony. I recall the photos so well, of her, surrounded by those flowers. I rarely saw her proud. Then, I did. She loved geraniums and petunias. I couldn’t stand them.
No flowers have ever bloomed in my flat. When I moved to Warsaw, or earlier, when we bought a house with my dad – never ever did anything grow. I’d never lived in a house before. Approaching the garden was as far from my world as lack of diversity is nowadays. It was my dad then who after a while befriended gardening, flower pots, bushes, the beautiful pine tree in front or the vines at the back.
All flowers would die in my flat. When I moved to Warsaw, I tried. With tall ones, already fully prepared for the battle. Nope. Or with petunias and geraniums – thought this might work. Nope. No wonder there though, but I had to learn the hard way.
Then, I moved. Literally, I moved every inch of me. Inside out. Back and forth, top to bottom. I once saw a framed quote put on my cousin’s wall saying: „I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m going. Are you going with me?” That’s how life was for me then. I constantly asked Life – Are you going with me? I asked my Body, my Mind – are you going with me? I wasn’t always sure. A lot of those days I’d spend on trainings – yes the ones led by Marek, from this post: A FAREWELL
My plants never grew. Until I grew. I remember well the first one. It was a tiny ivy – I’ve always liked the name. And I heard Ivy is a strong one, a fighter, a thriving paragon. Well, let’s see how she (yep… saw her as a she) handles me. I remember even better the moment when I went to buy some soil and a new pot as my Ivy grew out of her old one. I learnt how to take care of her – the right amount of water, the watering frequency, the amount of light – not so obvious at all to me. Then what to do with my Ivy in the winter to let her rest.
We begun to cooperate, learn our routines, moods, co-existing in our environment.
My Ivy grew, survived another winter, stayed throughout hot summers and cold winters. She now is the biggest plant on my balcony, residing in the corner in the biggest pot I could find, enjoying the shade and light breeze, currently growing so fast and so untamed…
I had never been able to keep a plant alive. I have had my Ivy for three years now.
And my boxtree, and my citrus tree, who went to hell and back with me. Currently blooming like never before. He lost his leaves at the beginning. But endured – his will to fight is immense, he holds for a while and then…the unstoppable power unleashed. My Citrus impresses me so much, and every day. I love him.
And the herbs… oh, the herbs – that is such a big deal. To me, herbs were the weakest… how wrong was I! The are on the flow now, so strong-minded now. I’ve two mints – one decided to die a little at first, but then we had a serious conversation about not letting go, my mint decided to flourish…and the second one, well I didn’t have to tell him twice! This mint is having his way in everything. Strong, overwhelming, willing.
They are accompanied by thyme. Thyme was so shy at the beginning, as if on a halt. Holding his breath, a bit anxious what is this house about here… Now, he grows steadily, constantly, mildly, always knowing how to reach the right amount of sun.
We also have flowers now. I mean like real flower flowers, with colorful petals and everything – M had an idea to bind them together – with one rack to climb. The red and the pink. Just starting that journey now.
I didn’t know how to cherish plants. I learnt. The hard way. But I learnt. And I’m so grateful for that. I still need to learn their power of recovery and not giving up.
Another one is Kindness – still a lesson to learn, but I can see that my kindness and mindfulness with the plants is crucial, never just a rule, more of an adjustment, careful watch, love. After all, as Brene Brown says, „Clear is Kind” – but that’s a whole another story…
Are your fingers green?
P.S. I also love the movie The Life of Piread more
I write when I feel I have something to say, something important. Not just anything. On the other hand, I realize regularity is the key if you really want to connect with this one-sided communication mode called blog. And I’m torn. I haven’t written here for a long time now although there was so much much going on. Or maybe that’s why. Sometimes I simply feel a story worth telling needs space, time, nurture. Perhaps, giving myself the permission for that time and space was my biggest lesson in recent weeks. Perhaps. Or a major setback, no idea yet…
Nevertheless… Oh, I love that phrase, I repeat it to my Students on writing classes over and over again… you should see their faces! Anyhow (another one…), so anyhow, I’ve recently found myself sitting in my favorite spot in our flat – the balcony, on my dream deckchair (it’s one of my weaknesses – deckchairs), sipping chilled Prosecco, with tears in my eyes. Then I decided.
Some time two years ago my friend contacted me and asked if she could recommend me to this school she works at, for English, perhaps some minor coaching project, let’s see.
I agreed – I trust her, if she thought I’m a fit, I’d go for it! After some meetings and several cups of coffee I found myself supporting some Students with their daily education, English language skills, and the university applications abroad. At first, it was just incidental meetings, some diagnostic work, sometimes a bit of English. Very varied – „yes” I thought „exactly how I like it the most.” Within few months, I had some ideas too how to facilitate some processes within what I was doing. It was a great adventure for few months.
And then. suddenly, I as the summer went by and September came, there it was… My own timetable! I had a timetable!
Let me stop here and elaborate… I haven’t had a timetable or a schedule since… well, I don’t know when…I am a master of my time, that’s how I chose, with all the ups and downs connected with it (and boy, there are many…). If I decide to work long hours, I decide, If I decide not to work, I decide (yeah, like that ever happened…). But still, even for the trainings – it is always a mutual decision when and how, never a timetable…
So, here I am, with set hours weekly, caught in the middle of a game really. I even got a name from the head of the College… I was the Educational Coach. You know this state of mixed feelings, highly mixed? Like: „Ok, I got it! There’s the change I wanted.” And then: „Oh no, I’m stuck, how on earth am I ever going to blend it into my unsteady work life?”
It took a while. I’m still not sure if the „while” was short or long. After two weeks all was ready. Actually, I was ready. And then…
…and them it turned out that my greatest fear was just…a fear. I currently work at a place where change is our daily routine. Where we adjust, sometimes within hours. Where those few stable hours a week became a blessing.
The lockdown was and will remain a game-changer. Also for me at the college. But I think in a different way you may suspect.
No, we didn’t stop even for a day. This place happened to be more than technically ready for online teaching and learning. Within two hours, the place was empty, everyone sent home with the promise of support and help. And yes, these were the days when the frontdesk girls used their amazing superpowers to aid us all.
Strange days spent in front of Skype followed. No A-Levels exams, predicted grades instead, mountains of written assignments, amounting signs of social distancing, tiredness, full house, empty house, no space, too much space… all at once.
I will always remember and tell stories about it when I’m gray and old. Stories of this one morning when I was holding classes on resilience, one of our children was randomly shouting words in English with headphones on (yep, online English lessons), the other one running around the house for PE classes – BT headphones naturally on… and the third one away in the other room occasionally commenting on the poor IT skills of the teacher (seriously, how???) And my M on a morning meeting with his team assigning daily tasks… Crazy place I thought, not clearly remembering if the next one is on Skype, Zoom or Teams… Crazy but a bit of a dream come true too. I loved it! Of course, it was tiring, exhausting even, at times. But the gratitude in the shape of „we are together, we are handing” was and is enough. And real-life resilience lesson for all.
This time of online turned out to be a gift that I enjoyed immensely, doing all I can to empower, support, accompany – whatever was the utmost current need. I had a chance to enter the world of a beautiful secret garden leading to grandma’s house, the space where an adorable kitten is the family’s love, the moments when a child wanted to join, when I shared the feeling of pride when deliciously looking buns were ready… I said yes to it all, allowing those I worked with feel comfortable – that’s how I like it, want it… as I praise honesty higher than an ideal image.
As days went by, I suddenly (yes, still suddenly) found myself finishing off the classes at my college. The days became warmer, the workload slowly lessened, the summer mood was gradually taking over…
And you know what, they did it! I did it! We all did it!
So, the school year was about to end. Phew I thought, finally… oh, wait, actually, so soon..? Really? That’s it?
One of them goes to study in the USA, the Other in the UK, another One in Barcelona (BARCELONA!!!!)… We say goodbye, thank you, enjoy the summer, good job, I’m proud…
And then suddenly I am overwhelmed. My throat goes dry, the voice trembles, my eyes get watery… What the… I’m thinking…. And the Unexpected happens. I got attached.
I have no doubt when I say, from the bottom of my heart, I wish you all there is to wish for the game-changers, badasses, rulers, visionaries, creators… you certainly changed my way of working, perceiving, planning…
May the odds be ever at your favor Dear Friends! And the Unexpected visit you as often as possible…
Remember, you are worth it!
We are worth it!
And you? When was the last time you noticed the Unexpected?
I’ve been struggling. This text was supposed to be „thriving on a storm”. This text was supposed to be published almost two weeks ago. This text was supposed to be about coping.
But none of this happened. Or maybe it actually did? But not in the way I expected, wanted, thought it’s best, necessary?
So, the story goes like this. My work is primarily about being with people, letting them grow. My current most rewarding and overwhelming sometimes job is educational coaching. For over a year now, I have been a part of a great team at Akademeia Tutorial College. We focus on letting our Students do what is needed at present, aiding them as much as we can remotely. I speak to Students on a weekly basis about staying in good state, using stress to their advantage, accepting the unavoidable frustration…
It seems I forgot about myself. I became so occupied with preaching that I forgot the practice part…
Bad idea, very bad.
To me, a sheer rookie at blogging, this is the place where I want to share something I perceive as important. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t I suppose. Telling you my stories, I need to have a purpose. An idea that is worth mentioning, naming, addressing as perhaps reading it will, eventually, evoke the „me too” reaction. I’m writing about the previous weeks to tell you and myself for that matter something you probably know, but I still consider important enough to repeat and remind…
we’re in this together
What has been worrying me the most during the last several weeks is the pressure we feel to „stay positive”, „look at the bright side”, „accept the reality”, „learn something new”… It is all true to me – I believe in the all above but not at any lengths less than in the simple act of trust. The Trust you place in yourself, in your mind, in your body, combined. My mind tells me it’s ok. My body tells me it is not at all. My emotions are wild, my thoughts are racing. So where’s my trust? In all of these. I have learnt, the hard way, that neglecting any of the above never works for me. But here comes the hard part. In my case, and perhaps not only in mine, one-time enlightenment is not enough.
It is a process, a never-ending story of perpetual dance, always one step further but still always on the move.
So, here I am realizing to what extent I have forgotten about myself and my process. And mind you, this „realising” itself took time. Once this ball lights above my head, the wheel’s spinning as…been there, done that – feel a bit more ready, many a time. Fortunately or not, haven’t decided yet… But I feel also lucky enough and ready enough to use the world around to help in these rather critical moments of struggle. In my case, this means reading the signs, making sense of what comes my way. This time it was a computer with some lovely design in the form of a spilt coffee on it…
”Have a break girl!” – my unconscious mind said.
„OMG, seriously?!” – siad the conscious one…
All in all, I needed to leave home, travel, ask for help…to begin with. Taking into account my state before, it turned into a lesson of humbleness, accompanied by a rather vast range of other emotions…to put it mildly. A sort of an emotional ride I gave myself. Or the world did. Or, I don’t know exactly… But as with every ride of mine (yours too?), there’s a feeling of liberation in the horizon somewhere there…and an overwhelming feeling as if I was in a washing machine, cleaning my ideas, checking which ones survive the washing powder test of bringing me closer to my values, and the softener test of letting me be vulnerable in Brene Brown’s way. Is it a pretty moment? Oh no. Easy? Oh no. Worth it? Every single time. Does it get easier? Nope… And that’s my revelation really.
It doesn’t get any easier. You get stronger, calmer, more loving, accepting, happier…
And there, in the cyclone’s eye, I found it. The key – there’s one thing that helps me every single time. An aim stable, broad, far enough to let me still crave it no matter the present turbulence. This time, the world gave it to me in two forms. As I was going through my data on my Mac in order to organise myself back after the coffee-gate, I came across this pic you see above.
It’s my older son during our holiday five years ago in Croatia. We’re at Peljesac peninsula, my fav place in the world. He’s looking towards a spot we visited earlier that day. He’s facing the route towards a village where I want to live one day… And there it was, a dear memory of mine. A memory of a great training during which one of the tasks was to describe, in detail and all modalities: audio, visual, and kinesthetic, the brave, audacious aim of ours in the form of a letter. In seconds, I had it. I read it. Went back with my thoughts and feelings to that moment of writing the letter and to being in that spot. It caught me by surprise, at my dinner table and it took me few minutes.
It will pass? It will pass! It will pass.
All this mess, this emotional ride and this washing of mine is for a purpose, and will pass. This simple yet not so obvious to me, idea appeared truly soothing. Gave the perspective I needed.
I’m still healing. Going through my process, remembering what Winston Churchill would say…
Are you going through hell? Are you on a not-so-joyous ride? How is the washing going?
Because, we’re all in it – being a human.
For me, moving the horizon is apparently the key. Thank you, Martyna Wojciechowska for that.
And you? What is your key? Would you have a letter to yourself with the great audacious aim? Or a photo of Stas in Croatia?
What helps you? What keeps you going through your hell?
One of my students told me today that she hates rhetorical questions in emails…
Well, I hope you can forgive me these ones, my Dear Friend.
If not, I believe it is not the questions that are annoying but rather the answers that come…
Oh, I almost forgot. The cherry on the cake… Remember my cousin who had to call off her wedding? Well… we’ve got a new date! And I cannot wait! Yet, another grand moment to look forward to…
Dear World, Annie, Ola, Marek, Stas, Croatia…
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