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…
Thank youread more
I remember the train – it was a hot June afternoon – I was travelling to Warsaw from Poznań and on the phone with my friend who worked in the capital at that time. I needed that conversation a lot. I was just about to attend a job interview I knew very little of.
I had no idea what to think. My mind was in a void then, on the one hand happily in love, on the other grieving. As if I had to choose between the worlds. It matters because the occupied mind did not allow me to worry, stress out or fear any of the new situations that were ahead of me. Good and bad, as always. Then it served me well I suppose. I wasn’t intimidated when I learnt I’m talking to Rupert Murdoch’s right hand in Poland. I got the full picture only when I left the building….
It was a carousel! Within a little over a year I have switched from the PA to HR Specialist and then…to an anchor. An anchor is the name used in News Dept. Those who preset news, are anchors. I was an anchor…nothing less, nothing more, but a weather girl! Oh, that was a joyride indeed!
But the biggest game-changer for me was the time when I worked as a host at a culture program – a daily short conversations on what is currently going on within the world of music, books, ballet, theatre, cinema, exhibitions… anything you could call „art and culture”. The program was called Puls Kultury and I loved it! It was the best tv experience I could imagine! I was getting better and better at what I was doing also because I enjoyed it so much! We would commute around Warsaw, take shots, interview authors, dancers, actors, musicians… I was an amazing possibility to also get to know the city. I still felt as a newcomer back then and this kind of job allowed me to really get our of that „only a tourist here” feeling and see this other, sooo appealing side of Warsaw.
I discovered places and communities that made me believe our capital city has much more ot offer than we think…It just needs some… time and effort, surprise surprise!
I was six weeks into my first pregnancy when Rupert Murdoch decided to pull out of his businesses in Europe – well most of them anyhow. My Dept seized to exist. I took a decision then. That I want to stay home. And I did.
The camera experience stayed with me. When, after few years, I went back to being active professionally, I was able to use this up. And the notion of talking to others, but also to myself, as this is how I felt at times, has been a part of my job ever since. But in a slightly unexpected ways.
I was faced with an exercise that used the metaphor of the camera that fundamentally changed my perspective over values in my life. I have been speaking to crowds as an interpreter or trainer or speaker ever since, I worked as a rep for the beauty sector during EU meetings or as a PR rep for a art&design foundation, CAF, when it was launching the project called OfutureZone, I worked at sailing Championship for two weeks as a onshore reporter… (there’s more on it here) – EVERY single time, the camera experience was there with me. EVERY single time, I drew upon it and grew.
Now, when I work with people on how to talk to others, pitch, present – I often recall those days. I tell them to stay watchful and ready as you never know when a guardian angel my come your way and let you be… a weather girl
My Guardian Angels were plenty. My first boss, Robert, my news Dept boss, Amelia. My dear friend, Aga who recommended me further, the president of the 505Ass, Przemek,… the list goes on and on… The all have one thing in common though – they all believed in me.
And I am thankful for their trust everyday.
I was wondering though, how on earth did this story came to my mind these particular days? Why would I go back in time so much? What was it that I needed to remind myself of?
I’m not sure how about you but in my case it’s around 5:00 am…that’s the time when my mind sends the message – works impeccably! Apparently, it was fear… Fear of the unknown. Yes, I do fear, of the unknown no matter how much I love novelty at the same time. And now, the Unknown is a little bit more than I could handle without reminding myself of the times when every single day was unknown, when I did things for the first time, when I had to stand face to face with the most fierce judge of all – myself. When we knew we are being let go, but no one knew the rules, timing, number…
So, my dear Friend, my subconscious mind did the work for me I suppose…”Look Girl, it’s not that new a feeling here…you’ve been there, done that, you got this. You got this!”
The amount of talks online I’ve been having recently is immense. It’s a different world, requires of me different skills, different approach. But I’m thriving. I want to. As simple as that. It’s worth it.
It is just worth it.
I’ll keep talking to myself. It saved me so many times before. I forgot about it. And you?
Are you talking to yourself?read more
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…
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.
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.read more
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?read more