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    WEBINAR aka Cabin Fever…

    Beautiful photo by Ross Findon, taken from Unsplash

     

    It was supposed to be about skis. Then, about grit itself. Then, I thought it will a good idea to write about the stages one may have once grieving (yes, what we’re going through globally now can be seen as this exactly). Then, again, I went back to the idea of skis…Ideas are plenty in my head, too plenty at times to be honest. It becomes even more complicated when I try to see them in perspective, in context. Of my future readers, of my current situation, of my family’s needs that seem to be sooo overwhelming these days. 

    And then, it figured… the ever present word that I seem to dream about now is… WEBINAR. Webinar as an answer to all the work problems. A webinar to let our clients stay in touch and not forget… a webinar to keep myself busy, a webinar to do a webinar… after all, let’s move on with the digital.

    In the times of insecurity pushed to the limits, a webinar became an answer to everything. Yes, we can do Judo classes for your son online. Yes, you can learn totally new things just by looking at our instructors… Yes, of course there were things you’ve always wanted to acquire! Now’s the time!

    Or, maybe not!?” Whatever you were doing – just carry on” is the other option. Like the English during World War II – just keep calm and carry on.  Routine will help – stick to your routine. Don’t let others destroy it. But remember, be kind – to yourself, to them, help out, support, find time. You’ve plenty of time now, right?

    So, which free webinar do you want? The one to help you stay sane? Or the one to support your online work? Or maybe yoga? Or, none as you should helping your kids out instead with their homeschooling…

    I lost it. Last week I did. It was Thursday afternoon. I was so proud – we got ready the week before. We planned it all. Got the shopping in time for seven days of feeding five people. We rescheduled, prepared for kids’ classes to be taken online, meetings and tutorials too. All was there. And indeed it was a success! That first week went smoothly, with no bigger issues, no major frustration or quarrels over lost connection during social science classes or unstable skype conversation with one of the Clients…We did it I thought! We got a grip, we know how to handle this thing called the lockdown. 

    My ordered new skiing set came. I decided to go big there….Atomic Redster s9, Atomic Redster club sport 130 boots… Again, I thought – yes, my anchor or metaphor if you prefer of endurance and grit is here, nothing can go wrong now! It was a bit of a hustle though, the primary point of collection of the parcel was closed, the DPD courier did a lot to help me out. I was even more grateful – „woow, people are so nice, so graceful in this huge mess.

    But still, I lost it. My poise I mean. Out of the blue, as if on some idle Tuesday afternoon. With no warning.  I am currently working on a grit program, reading about it, doing my research, getting to know growth mindset even better. Still, didn’t protect me from the blues. That’s what I was thinking that Thursday afternoon already spiraling into the depths of doubt. Self-doubt mostly. 

    And then, Friday came. We had a meeting scheduled with my dear friend to discuss… a webinar. What else. The plan is to come up with something that allows us both to share with you the knowledge and expertise we both have  – partly overlapping and partly not at all. These were one of the most demanding two hours that previous week. I believe in this project with all my heart! But that time, my heart was filled with fear. Fear I haven’t addressed being too busy planning, executing, and bragging about it. 

    The webinar became a symbol – a symbol of my fears for my work. We all share that I suppose. Will I have any work? Will we be able to hold certain trainings online? OR will webinars – literally seminars online take over? How will such webinars change the training market? How to restructure my coaching sessions when done online? Will I have any? I’m sure you know such lists can go on and on – we all have them at times. 

    And then, the webinar became a symbol of not doing enough. Maybe I should write more? Maybe I should be more active, maybe… My fear always drags me to the perfectionist in me. I hate it. The perfect Ewa is a lethal weapon. Do you know this state when a small thing triggers a huge reaction? It happens when certain feelings were held hidden for too long, consciously or subconsciously. 

    Well, my webinar meeting became a trigger. The mess on the weekend was…well, messy. Let’s leave it at that. Those honest with themselves, know how it looks like. The messy mess of unexpected but needed burst of feelings usually is nothing even close to pleasant. But here comes the growth mindset and grit again. I learnt the hard way that grit and your mindset will never be that visible in the times of calm and quiet. It’s the moments during AND when coming back to life after a fight, breakdown, panic attack, you name it, that the mindset you have will or will not support you in regaining the balance with lessons learnt.  This part is crucial to me – with lessons learnt! Not just „to forget” but to grow, still, even in the hardest moments. Or maybe especially then! 

    Is that a new part of life for me? No, not at all. But what is new and a lesson learnt to me here is the fact that learning means repeating, reminding, and redoing the whole thing again…sounds ridiculous? Possibly. Sounds obvious? Probably even more. But apparently in my case, I haven’t learnt that lesson yet. The overwhelming presence of COVID-19 made a difference. 

    So, my new mantra is…”I’m an ongoing process…”

    Are you?

     

    Michal, thank you – wouldn’t have done it without you. 

    Annie, I am sure we will celebrate your wedding when the time is right!

     

    To all of you, stay home, stay safe! Have a webinar. Or not!

    IT IS ALWAYS UP TO YOU!

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    GRIT…OR IS IT?

    During my knee op; photo by Adam Ciereszko (adamciereszko.pl)

     

    Some of us run for health, some for status, to show off, to stay fit. Some, again, to escape, have some time for oneself, become a part of something bigger, a part of a group. 

    In my case, well, to be honest it was a mix I guess. I was fascinated with the amount of people who liked it. I wanted to check for myself.

    So I did. I remember my first run, in Poznan, close to my dad’s home. Then, another one, with a bit less frustration… And suddenly, I was running. Running away. That was my way to get out. Primarily out of my own head. The more I was running away, the better I got at it. Till the moment after my first 10k RunWarsaw, I couldn’t move. The muscles – naturally, I didn’t mind that pain. But my knee was the problem – I broke it skiing a decade earlier. It took a while to get better, a lot of effort, not just mine. After a year I went back to skiing. Yes, it hurt a bit sometimes, but hey, wasn’t that normal when you’re carrying not only your own body but also some additional 11k in the shape of a baby? 

    So, going back to running – here I am, running indeed. Running away or running for the time just for myself, for any break from the spinning thoughts. My getaway, suddenly taken away with the knee that wasn’t working. With the help of my great friend, I ended up in a sports clinic for tests, it turned out that the ligament, ACL, is in fact torn. So now, instead of running I had time to get ready for the op. Another beautiful runaway… Then, getting better after. I did it religiously, day by day. After three months I was back on my feet. Slowly coming  back to my sports life, I took to swimming too. Swimming away….well, why not. 

    A year later, my first half-marathon, in Poznań. I went so well (no, not time-wise, satisfaction-wise) that I didn’t stop…I was sooooo good at this running… I spend whole summer training regularly – stunning surprise to me as I have always had this belief about myself that I am simply unable to be regular at anything. So, why not go faster, bigger, more engaged… I was preparing for my first survival race followed by a second half-marathon that year. Any sane and smart runner will tell you it was far from clever… I know that now, but back then, it didn’t matter. I felt so safe, so far, so… not in my life. 

    While training on he beach, something hurt in my hip, a bit, just slightly, unnoticeably… Like quiet cry „Ewa, maybe not?”. Did I listen? Well, you know the answer, right?

    The survival went great, I had fun, I enjoyed the company of great people, I hurt my hip to the point I couldn’t walk to the car. But surely, I could get on the plane three days later to fly to Cheltenham for yet another run. And to meet my beloved family. Almost anyone has this favourite family member. This aunt, grandpa, cousin… whoever – the one that shows you a different kind of the world, helps to understand what’s going on, tell the family secrets…Well, my family in England has been the One for me. Their place is my safe place. What a combination, running and Cheltenham! A combo. For what? Who cared…

     

    Cheltenham Half finish line; photo by my aunt Debbie Lange

     

    I broke it. The 13.1 miles took almost three hours. I walked, cried, got angry. I was limping already at the start line. I remember strangers talking to me at the finish line „we saw in town, you were suffering, are you ok?”

    The VIP flight home was unforgettable. The pain also. The mess around figuring out what exactly is wrong with my hip too. Altogether it took over twelve months. Hours of physio, diet (I hate diets! I see them as a limitation only unfortunately – still an area to address ;D), four MRIs as no other imaging deciphered the fracture… it was well-hidden. Right in the core of the bone. As if you stuck a tiny needle in it – excruciating pain with no visible cause. 

    This was supposed to be a text about grit. The way Angela Duckworth and her team in Character Lab see it. The way we can practice it with Dr. Dweck’s Growth Mindset. 

    Dr. Duckworth says grit is more important than talent. That having a mission, life philosophy, a greater cause that organise your actions is of great significance. In her book, „Grit. The power of Passion and Perseverance” she also describes what she found as necessary to work on your grit. To me, the most moving part was about acceptance though. The readiness to do boring, repetitive, simple tasks seems to be the core here. The ability to see your actions in a longer time perspective combined with the willingness to sacrifice remains present throughout the whole book. 

    The willingness. To sacrifice. Not the kind of sacrifice that makes a martyr. None of the stories quoted by Angela are of sorrow, they are all about the gritty people who are able to accept and believe in the growth that comes with time. There is a lot about effort and perseverance. 

    Am I a gritty person? I thought I wasn’t. Then, maybe I am. 

    I am certainly gritty when it comes to running. 

    Running away. 

    Gritty at not reading the signs I fear to read. Gritty at pretending.

    At least I was.

    I lost my escape. I cannot run now more than 5k, my hip and, knee for that matter, are in the best condition possible but my urgent need to run away made it impossible for the joints to heal fully. 

    I lost my escape. But most probably gained something far more monumental. My self -awareness.

    Damn, it’s been a hard lesson and an even harder path to follow. 

    But these days, I dare – I have learnt how. I daresay I do not want to run anymore. I want to live my life, be in my life, grittily fight for the growth and truth. Big words, I realise that painfully well. This is where I begin as putting them into aims and action is yet another story…

    #lifeexperience #experiencelife #grit #growthmindset #selfawareness

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    PEOPLE.PEOPLE.PEOPLE.

    In one of her books, Brene Brown tells a story of a speech she was to give on a conference. The whole thing starts with her peeking at the audience and realising what the „C-level managers” meant… While panicking, she received comfort and advice from another speaker, a sound advice she took wholeheartedly, and did too. It’s all about people. People. People. People. That’s a quote actually. Brene continues with her story to say that the moment she saw simply human beings there, all became much clearer, more real, more honest. 

    It was less than two years ago. Can’t really believe it’s that far away in time. One of my greatest adventures – a perfect combination of work and private life I’d seen as impossible before.

    My Michal is a sailor, or a water-sports lover I should say. For some time he had been competing with the 505 class – a rather concise dinghy with immense sails and great speeds. 

    At some point in time, we started travelling together for the Polish Cup regatta. Everything was new to me back then. But already within one season, I had the greatest opportunity to meet wonderful, passionate bunch of crazies, in love with their boats, in love with the speed and with the water. With their minds and hearts wide open, even for someone who is so unexperienced as I was back then, they welcomed me with curiosity that you see with those who care. As simple as that.

    I never sailed, I never even wanted to.

    But it was all about people there. People.People. People. 

    From one event to another, we got to know each other better and better, made friends, travelled together, helped each other, enjoyed the evenings, and the days too for that matter. 

    It turned out that having somebody on the shore may be of use to the Polish 505 Class Association that organised the regatta and trainings. I would spend time among most passionate people I’d ever met doing a job that was both satisfactory and demanding for me. With my lack of experience and their trust in me, I got the change to grow in the area I never expected I would. I loved it. Novelty is a strong driver for me, especially if done with the right people around me. 

    Again. People. People. People. 

    So, when the then president of the Association, Przemek Zagórski, asked us all for help with translation I had no doubts. I called him and we agreed on some minor work. The minor work turned into a bit bigger work that then turned into an even bigger task. I was to host the international regatta in Poland. And by hosting I mean become the journalist of daily videos and partly a press officer as well as the anchor for all official events… Let me repeat myself… I LOVED IT!

    You know this feeling, somewhere deep in your guts, sometimes close to your heart, sometimes in the feet… the one that tells you – this is it, this is my place, that’s what happiness feels like..?

    Well, that was it for me. Although, there was nothing light about this job. I was only partly involved in the prep phase, I had only a short glimpse at what an amazing work Przemek did back then, almost on his own. I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to have this cooperation going as it was exactly him who taught me the most. It was him who let me to do my job at my best. 

    So, here I am, getting ready, hosting a press conference, getting more and more excited about it. Few weeks to go…I was thinking, how’s going to be? How many guests and participants woudl come. Will I manage?

    It was grand… Almost 130 boats, from 14 countries worldwide. Literally. Over two weeks of work, non-stop during hot summertime in Gdynia. The 505SAPWorlds2018 – World championship that take place yearly, on two sides of the globe interchangeably. This time it was Poland – a great success for us, ensured by the one and only Przemek who worked closely with Michal and Paulina – it’s all their doing, worth highlighting. 

    I voluntarily gave up lying on a beach for working twelve hours a day, each day, in any weather conditions, on land and on water (I’m not a fan of RIBs really…now I know for sure). Hours of material – writing, shooting, managing the international teams, jury, guests, dealing with setbacks, simply an ongoing project management. Madness one may say. Oh yes, it was pure craziness incarnated. But, again, there was nothing I’d change. Literally nothing! It made me happy…

    SAP 505 World Championship 2018 || 2018-07-27, Gdynia, Poland || © Copyright 2018 || Polskie Stowarzyszenie Klasy 505 || All Rights Reserved || photo: Robert Hajduk – ShutterSail.com

    Every second was a pleasure. The writing, seeing the sailors off in the morning, welcoming them back in the afternoon, awarding them daily, celebrating birthdays, celebrating records, celebrating life&diversity. No matter how my feet or my throat hurt, my skin sunburnt, none of it was a burden. Why? Well, yes, you guessed it! People. People. People.

    The videography was done by two artists of their profession – I owe them a huge thanks for understanding my multiple roles at the marina, their patience and sense of humour that saved us so many times. The photos, including the one here, were taken by an already walking legend of sailing photography, Robert Hajduk. I just couldn’t believe how blessed I was. I still can’t. Now when I reminisce the days, I remind myself that such work is possible. That the right people combined with good intentions and grit make my ideal work reality. My greatest lesson learnt… it’s always and all about…

    PEOPLE PEOPLE PEOPLE.

    The SAP2018Worlds have their site: https://sap505worlds2018.com/news and a fanpage: https://www.facebook.com/505worlds2018/

    I think we must have done it well as there is still interest in it 🙂

    The photo I used here was taken on the last evening, during the farewell party, by Robert Hajduk (https://www.facebook.com/shuttersail) whereas the daily videography was orchastrated by Łukasz Dzida together with his friend Bartek (https://www.facebook.com/dzidaproduction/)

    Enjoy as these are masterpieces. 

    Przemek, thank you.

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    My and my whale

    Shortly after my 35th Birthday I watched „The life of PI”. And I fell in love. No, not in Piscine. In the whale. The huge blue whale ( at least I think it was the blue one). I watched that scene again and again. Do you get that sometimes? The moments in songs, in movies that you want to return to as they make you feel… hm, alive, happy, strong, willing..?

    Well, there it was. My new Dream. Dream to see the whale live till I’m 40. I made a decision. All I had to do is take some action.

    Right… So here I am, not exactly sure what to do with my life, but so damn sure I want to see a whale…as crazy as it sounded, it made sense. Ok, so where do I star? How do I tackle this? Wait. so where exactly do people get to see the whales?

    That’s how general my knowledge was… Al I knew was that was my grand goal and need. Martyna Wojciechowska, a traveller and a very brave woman to me once wrote a book on moving the horizon – when going gets tough, make the effort of finding a far-distance goal and let the current situation be just a step on the way, not an objective at all. I suppose that was my whale then. I needed an incredibly distant and great aim as the changes I was going through were simply harsh.

    Harsh, and as it turned out, also energy, emotions, attention-consuming. A needed although difficult step on my way in life. The whale still there, had to stay a dream for a while.

    Then, a year later, here I am building my new life, testing my priorities and checking for my needs. The whale seems to remain a dream. There are so many other important things to attend to now. The”real stuff…” So, how many of you have that? The „real stuff” that precedes dreams? It could be anything. A trip somewhere far, learning to snowboard, try paragliding, visit Taj Mahal. Your pick.

    But Dear Life has much in store for me – I have come to learn that 😉 And I have come to grateful (not such an easy task for me to be honest).

    One of the first things I learnt about my partner was that he has two sisters and one of them lives in Australia. No, it didn’t ring the bell just yet… Then, few months later, Australia introduced gay marriages. So the girls got engaged. Well, by that time, I had a gut feeling… Then we got the invitation! A wedding, in Australia, in August…

    There is this magical place called the Hervey Bay. It’s a unique place where humpbacks come on their way back from breeding and mating journey to the North. The difference here is that  those who come to watch them do not stop them on the path back home. They swim into the bay plainly for fun and rest, to enjoy the time with their new mates or babies.

    Hervey Bay 1661km from where Joanna and Kristy live. We took a camper van, drove the distance in few days, and one beautiful August 2019 morning boarded a speed boat. We saw six of them, the humpbacks. As the guide said: „I’m not sure who’s watching who here. Is it us, coming to see the whales or is it the whales coming over to show their offspring the people… look baby, these are people, they make funny noises and movements to attract us.”

     

    If I were to pick the greatest disappointments in my life, there is a clear answer in my case. The unexploited opportunities. Nothing else. The moments when I had it – the Life was giving it to me and I didn’t see it/ was too afraid/intimidated… I wasted many chances like that. A chance to say thank you to Martyna Wojciechowska for her book is my newest „achievement”.

    But you know, no more. It’s time. It”s time to swim with the whales.

    My next great, audacious plan is a trip to the US to meet and learn from Brene Brown. And then a conference with Ursula Dudziak in Atlas Arena, Łódź. Both till my 45th Birthday.

    Will keep you posted I’m afraid…

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    A FAREWELL

    I thrive on life experience. Being a kinesthetic, actually feeling the touch smell, scent, makes me going, allows me to grow. When I think of life, I immediately think of experiencing it, testing, trying, seeing for myself if something is for me or not… It’s the diversity that I love. Multiple tasks, multiple cultures, multiple careers.

    Throughout all those years, I have come to the point where I can enjoy this need to change. As change is my thing. I am aware that my effectiveness is based in staying with variety.

     

    I met Marek almost four years ago during a workshop called Synergy and Communicating.

    Here I go, enter the room, smiley as always. There I see the trainer with quick moves, sharp words and a bright jumper. And here comes the first question… „Why is your name Ewa?” Unexpected. Rattling. Curious.

    That was the beginning. The following days consisted of a discovery after a discovery. Was it easy? Oh no! Demanding? Oh yes… Worth it? Absolutely!

     

    I spent the next three years with Marek, going through the certification process. That’s when I could fully build on my previous experiences and turn knowledge into wisdom. Till today, I use what have learnt and praise who I have become then.

    This was my way to #ExperienceLife to the fullest, with no fear, no whatifs, no blaming. Just experiencing.

     

    We have cooperated ever since – I loved our meetings at Marek’s office, me with my English and him and his business partner Agata with their training expertise and skills. That was a win-win. That was the time when everything was possible…We put friendship

    in business into practice!

    I am more than grateful for these years. This #LifeExperience shaped me into who I am now. That is why I have decided to put this as the first post from me.

    I’d like to tell you one more thing, and hopefully will be able to stick it whenever I’ll be writing here…:

    „You can choose courage or you can choose comfort. But you cannot choose both.”

    Brene Brown

     

    I have been choosing courage for a while now. Which does not mean I am not prone to the escape of comfort. I am. It’s a struggle. And always will be I suppose. And that’s my change… I agree to the struggle. I agree to discomfort, pain, need for a break sometimes.

    Marek Rożalski died on 1st, May 2019, in the mountains in Italy while paragliding – his great love and passion.

    We’re here – his friends, family, the trainers who believe in his legacy. We will stand and carry on.

     

    That’s my #LifeExperience

    The photo shows my wishes sent to Marek from my beloved place in Zagreb, Maximir Park.

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    LET ME INTORDUCE YOU TO MY #LIFEEXPERIENCE BLOG

    When I was five years old, we went with my mum to the UK, to visit her brother. He and his wife, Debbie, just had their second daughter. My mum was to become her godmother. Back then, in 1986, flying a plane abroad was a big thing…especially for a five-year-old whose never left the country before.

    I remember the British Airways flight attendant looking so beautiful ( then I decided I’ll be like her one day…), I remember the huge wings of the airplane…although it certainly was not a jumbo jet…I remember Heathrow airport…then I understood how little I was.

    I remember „Toys’r’Us” Store… where I cried as the choice was way too overwhelming… And I remember meeting Santa Claus… I remember playing with no words with my cousins, or with other children at a kindergarten… boy, that was something!

    But what I remember best is my aunt in one particular situation. My mum left with her brother for some shopping and my aunt was putting us all to bed. My cousin were already asleep and Debbie was stuck with me and… Cinderella. Stuck as I didn’t know what a fan was. She wasn’t happy with the drawing in the book and mind you we were already doing the Polenglish communication level master… So she ventured to find her old fan. She took out a shoebox from the attic. And the magic started! The whole universe opened to me. There it was, just in front of my eyes, my aunt’s life, where each and every item had a story, had a life, had an experience written into it.

    This evening changed the way I thought about shoeboxes… It made me realise meaningful shoeboxes actually existed 😉

    Now, I collect shoeboxes. No, not the actual ones but the stories. Stories that picture #lifeexperience. My own, but not only. Stories of love, sadness, pain, courage, struggle, anger. Stories that show us as human beings capable of all the spectrum of emotions and feelings. My work is very much about communication, on multiple levels. That’s how want it to be. And storytelling plays an important role in that meaningful and courageous communication I work with.

    The #lifeexperience blog is dedicated to sharing some of the stories I heard or lived through – I find sharing stories important, tribal in nature, even community building.  Yes, my intention is to build a community that will share stories that help others, show them we’re not alone in this world, show courage in action – something I believe we all need desperately all across the globe these days.

    You’ll find here stories of struggle, stories of life-changing experiences, stories of beauty, love and freedom. We all love stories, Joe Stanton from Pixar says, and my beloved Brene Brown claims that stories are data with a soul. The soul is what I’m searching for. The laughter and faith is what usually come with good stories.

    I love mottos… this one’s been with me since the beginning of my work: „Will it be easy? Nope. Worth it? Definitely!”

    I may not know exactly where this journey will take me. But I’m going. Are you going with me?

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