Category Archives: Challenge

Titania’s twelfth month: Doing something for the world

Gosh, I just realized that half of July has already passed, and I still haven’t got going with my twelfth and final project month. The most important reason is that I’m (almost) on holiday (hard to say now that I’m self-employed and don’t get any money for staying away from work), and thus life has less structure than otherwise.

2013-07-12 12.56.04This last week my mind has also been completely filled up by a camp, Circle Way, that I’ve been organizing (OK, so there’s been a bit of work, anyway…) together with my best friend, and where I brought my whole family. In the Circle Way camp we were around 70 people of all ages, coming together at a beautiful place in the Swedish countryside, listening to the wisdom of Manitonquat (or Medicine Story), an 84-year-old North-American Indian, and his Swedish wife Ellika, and practicing supportive listening – in circles and in pairs. It was a challenge arranging the camp with so many people (we did it last year as well, but with less than half the number of people), but I still managed to get a lot out of it for my own personal benefit – and the kids loved it, again!

The atmosphere of Circle Way is very warm, loving and respectful – towards other people and towards Mother Nature. So, the Memento Vivere challenge for my twelfth month seems to fit in very well in the aftermath of the camp. In two years from now, my family and I plan to go staying somewhere abroad for a longer period of time in order to try to do something good for the world. We have talked about India, but might turn up somewhere completely different. I would like to devote what’s left of this month to finding more information about where we could do and what we could do.

The original idea of the Memento Vivere project was to address twelve different areas. It hasn’t turned out exactly like that; sometimes I have needed two months in order to really get going with something. I have also come to realize that I don’t want to stop now! Using the project frame has been very beneficial to my development; I have got started with meditation and physical exercise again, and I have done many other things that make my life richer. I really believe in the idea of focusing on one thing at a time when you want to make a change, rather than trying to do everything at once, with the risk of ending up without having done anything at all.

So, I will go on with Memento Vivere, perhaps for another year, perhaps for life. Whenever it’s useful and feasible, I will use the one-month format. Whenever I need more time, I will use more months. Finding information about what to do for the world will take time, so, unless something else that feels extremely urgent turns up, I will use the coming months (uncertain how many) to dig into this area, until I feel confident about what we will do. If you have experiences of international volunteering – or know someone who does – I would really appreciate your suggestions for where to start looking!

PS. My Spirituality month went great! I’ll tell you all about it some other time. 🙂

Titania

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Filed under Challenge, Circle Way, Titania, Volunteering

I just did it!

The focus of my April month was Just Do It!, with a hope not to procrastinate as much as usual, and dare to do somewhat scary things. On my list was, for instance, PR, phone calls, albums and my annual accounts. I’m proud to say that I’ve put quite a lot of photos in my album and that my annual accounts were finished today (one whole day before deadline!), whereas there haven’t in fact been any scary phone calls to make, and there hasn’t really been time for PR this month.

photoThe main reason for my lack of time for PR, however, is something that goes very well with the theme Just Do It! When I planned my April month I had no idea that a few weeks later I would be invited as a speaker at a TEDx event in my hometown. Having been a fan of the TED talks site for ages, this was a dream come true, and of course I had to say yes – and just do it! I’ve been giving lectures and talks for several years, but even though this was a local independent TEDx event (not the big conference of course), it felt really big to me. The fact that all talks are filmed and put on YouTube and the minuscule chance that your talk will in fact end up at the REAL TED website makes it extremely exciting to be one of the speakers – and quite scary as well. In spite of some technological problems my talk went well, I had a lot of positive reactions afterwards and the local newspaper wrote about it as well, which was great fun. The talk is being edited at the moment, and I might even dare to put it here later on… 🙂

Another challenge, a just-do-it thing I did this month without thinking about it when I decided upon the theme, was to sing in public. Together with my friend and colleague I made two presentations including talking, reading from our book and leading group discussions, and in both places we decided to finish our event by singing a song that tied in very well with what we had been talking about – time and how we use it. I also played the guitar, and even though singing and playing are things I used to do quite a lot before, it’s been about twenty years since I did it in public. And I so very much enjoyed it – and, it seems, so did our audiences. I think there will be more music in my life in the future… I’ll just do it!

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Titania’s ninth month: Just do it!

In spite of the fact that I am a doer – one of those people who actually get quite  a lot of things done – and not just an initiator, I also have a tendency to postpone things that I find boring or scary. This is a type of behaviour I dislike, and this month I’ll try to avoid postponing things that are not at the top of my want-to-do list.

Here are some things that I’ll challenge myself to avoid postponing this month:

  • making unpleasant phone calls (even though I’m 44, have four kids and a PhD, I sometimes still feel quite nervous about phoning people I don’t know very well…)
  • sorting bills, documents from authorities and other paperwork
  • doing my annual accounts (I love my new life as self-employed but I hate the book-keeping part…)
  • making PR for my company (I love my new life as self-employed but I hate selling myself…)
  • putting some hundred or so photos from last year in albums (this is something I actually enjoy, but still postpone getting started with)

I may even stop postponing watching those films I wrote about the other day… 😉

Titania

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Miranda’s ninth month: Priorities

Inspired by Titania’s thoughts on time and priorities, I have decided to turn this month into an experiment. Since my life gets more and more stressful, I think it is time to start prioritizing the right things. Since I came home from Italy, I have been exercising twice a week, and I notice such a tremendous change in my energy and motivation that it would be stupid not to take time to exercise. It simply gives me so much time in return.

One thing that doesn’t give me energy, however, is sugar. This easter weekend has been crazy, with two family dinners and lots of desserts and candy. I don’t need to lose weight, but stomachaches and tiredness is something I could definitely do without. I’m curious to see how it would affect my body and mind to stay away from sweet things for a whole month. I don’t think I have managed more than a week before, but I think that this perspective will help me. Instead of viewing it as a ban, I will prioritize eating healthy because it makes me feel much better and gives me much more energy.

Finally, because of my stress I almost feel guilty when I spend half an hour reading  before I go to bed.  I haven’t touched my guitar for months, and sometimes I would like to draw or take some photos or bake bread or meet a friend, but I usually end up studying instead. This is not okay! I have to squeeze in some free time and fun activities to be able to cope with the stressful days, and I think that if I can make my days more effective by gaining more energy, I will find time for this as well.

So, my goals for April are:

1. Do some kind of physical exercise every day.

2. Eat no candy or cookies.

3. Take time to do something I really enjoy every day.

signatur

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Filed under Body, Challenge, Diet, Food, Goals, Health, Miranda, Physical exercise, Priorities, Productivity, Stress, Wellbeing

Miranda’s fifth month: Creativity

Some say there is a link between depression and creativity, and I must admit that one of the most creative periods in my life so far was during my very worst high school years. I played in a band and wrote most of our songs. I kept a regular diary, made drawings and wrote several poems a week. And now… Nothing. I dream of and think and plan musical and literary masterpieces but I never actually start creating anything anymore. I play some riffs on my guitar but then I realise it sounds like something someone else has already played. I open an empty document and write some words but then I realise it sucks and close it without saving.

So, is it impossible to create good things when you’re not depressed? I don’t think so. I just think I’m too terrified of that first bad draft, whether it’s a song or a novel. I’m painfully aware of its inevitability – I know that I have to write something to ever be able to write something good – and still I’m hopelessly blocked by my own perfectionism. This month it’s time to tear down the walls of doubt by forcing myself to create something, not necessarily something good, but something all the same. My goals for December are as follows:

 – Write every morning

I’m still having trouble rising early, but I will try to revert to a good habit that I formed around this time last year (when I literarily had to work with my bachelor’s essay from early in the morning until I went to bed) and include some writing in the process. My plan is to start the days by taking a short walk when my boyfriend goes to work (which is supposed to be around 6 am) and then write freely for 20 minutes while having breakfast. It would get my body and mind started, and give me some writing practice every day. And by rising earlier I wouldn’t have to go mad on the mornings my boyfriend (who works flexible hours) decides to take the late bus and snoozes with the alarm going off every ten minutes for a whole hour.

 – Improvise

As long as I can remember, improvising has terrified me. I remember the horrors of my elementary school drama lessons, and I still can’t jam with other musicians, not even my guitar teacher or my boyfriend. But practice makes perfect, right? This month, I’ll devote a large part of my guitar routines to improvising, because if I ever want to find another band or create the great songs that are so far only tiny hopeful fragments soaring through my mind, I will have to learn.

 – Make my own christmas gifts

This one is necessary since I’m almost completely broke at the time, but most of all I like to make things for others, and no matter how much I love christmas it feels good to go against to the melting flow of commercialism that it is turning into.

 – Finish something

Whether it’s a poem, a song or a painting, I want to finish at least one work of art that I’m proud of this month. And hopefully this can be combined with the goal above.

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Filed under Challenge, creativity, Goals, Miranda, Music, Perfectionism, Writing

Miranda’s third month: Love

Despite the success of last month’s project, there was one drawback. There is a distinction between self-confidence and self-esteem, and my intention was to work with both last month. However, I was so busy tackling challenges that I forgot about the second part. I do feel better about myself, when it comes to achievements, but I still doubt myself when it comes to just being me. I still feel bad about my appearance, I’m still scared that l’m not good enough and I still stay quiet because I’m afraid people (even my boyfriend) will find me weird or stupid. Conveniently, the focus area of this month is Love. Thus, I’ve decided to focus not only on my relationship, but also on appreciating myself more.

I fear this will be another ridiculously long post, but these are probably my most difficult challenges so far, and I think I need to make things very clear for myself. Anyway, these are my goals for October:

 – Give space
I’ve been terrible at giving space. Not intentionally. I just haven’t realised how important it is for a relationship, probably because, as I mentioned in my last post, my boyfriend has been my life for the last few years. I haven’t had any friends that I’d rather hang out with or a band that I need to spend time with alone. I’ve only had him. So I haven’t realised how trapped my boyfriend has felt, because I’m always there, feeling left out whenever he forgets about me. The last six months up until September were extreme, because he didn’t work and I studied from home, so we were together more or less constantly, getting on each other’s nerves. Besides, because I always worry too much, I tend to contact him too much when we’re not together. He, on the other hand, is terrible at answering texts and calling me back, which only causes me to worry even more. Last month, however, when one of my many challenges was to let him contact me, I noticed that as soon as I kept my hands off my phone, he started calling me and sending random text asking what I was doing. It was such a relief to see that he actually wanted to speak to me, I just had to give him some space. It’s not always easy, but I will keep letting him contact me this month, unless I really need to ask something. I will also keep developing my own social life, so I won’t have to depend on him all the time.

The hardest part of this goal, and something I have dreaded for several months, is the fact that my boyfriend is going on a European tour with his band for ten days this month. That is actually the main reason why I chose to focus on Love during October, because I knew this would be such a huge challenge for me. To not feel jealous or terrified that he’ll do something stupid. To not contact him all the time to make sure that he still loves me and that nothing has happened to him. But after last month, I think I can do it. It will probably be the greatest challenge since we met, but for both our sakes I need to give him that space, show him that trust and be happy for his sake. If I’d ever get to tour with a band I would want him to do that for me. And if I make it through those ten days without freaking out, I think I will be able to do anything.

– Be honest
I played truth or dare with some girlfriends last weekend and one of us had to answer what was the most important quality of a partner. It turned into quite a discussion but I think everyone agreed upon honesty. If you can’t trust someone, that what else about him matters? My boyfriend is very honest and although I tend to forget that when I get anxious, it’s one of the things I like the most about him. I also try to be honest, and that’s lucky, because I’m a terrible liar. Sometimes, though, when I feel bad or sad or scared or jealous for some reason, I just can’t tell my boyfriend about it. I’m not sure why. I’m probably just scared it will lead to a fight and that he’ll hate me. So, I stay quiet, or say that it’s nothing or that I don’t want to talk about it. And he hates that, of course, because he feels shut out and lied to. He’s told me to stop doing it several times. He’s even presented me with an ultimatum. And still I keep doing it. I know this has to stop. It’s not that I always need to tell him everything. But I can’t start crying or sulk for a whole evening and then tell him it’s nothing. I’ve told myself so many times that I have two choices: either tell him or let it go. I don’t know what else to do but keep reminding myself. And be aware of it.

 – Be kind
This is quite simple: nag less and appreciate more.

 – Give (and appreciate) proofs of love
My boyfriend is not very romantic, and sometimes that makes me a bit disappointed. He does give me proofs of love, probably more often than I realise, but because I’m so bad at remembering the good things in life, they tend to slip by unnoticed. I want to get better at appreciating all the small things he does for me, and be able to show what I feel without expecting a heap of red roses in return. In a week, it will be two years since the first time we kissed. It’s a silly thing that you wouldn’t expect any guy to remember. So, I’ve decided to do something romantic for him then, just because it’s important to me and because I want to let him know how much he means to me.

 – Love yourself
Actually, I can’t really imagine how difficult it would be to live with someone who would deny any compliment you give them, who wouldn’t trust you no matter what you did, and who would be terrified you’d leave them no matter what you said. I’ve always been like that, but I need to stop. Now. For his sake. And for my own sake. If I felt that I was good enough, I wouldn’t have to be so anxious or jealous or scared. Life would be so much easier. I’m not quite sure how to do it, though. If I was, I would probably have changed a long time ago. But I will keep writing down good things about myself, and not just achievements, but things that are good about who I am. And I will make an honest attempt to appreciate compliments and exchange my negative thoughts with positive ones. Even if I don’t always believe them.

P.S. If anyone has made it through this post, I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions. What do you think are the most important aspect to focus on in a relationship? Which is the best way to learn to be more open about your feelings? And can you learn to love yourself?

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Filed under Challenge, Fear, Feelings, Giving space, Goals, Honesty, Love, Miranda, Relationships, Self-esteem

Finding myself in the chaos

We’re nearing the end of September, which has been a pretty busy month for me. I’ve started a master’s program at the university, joined a book club, had four guitar lessons and challenged myself almost every single day. I can honestly say that I am very proud of myself. By turning fears into challenges, I have realised that many things aren’t so scary after all: I’ve been to school, talked in groups, been to the first business meetings of my life, made a scary phone call, handled stress without freaking out, let go of my need for control, spent several nights alone, done spontaneous things and made four new friends. And that’s just some of the things. As a finale, I registered my own company tonight. Within a year, when my studies are finished, I will have to fend for myself. But I know I can do it. It may sound like a cliché, but I think I’m starting to find myself – for real. Since I got out of my teenage depression, I’ve kind of just adapted to the life of my boyfriend. I’ve had my own interests and my guitar and my school, sure, but I’ve relied too much on his choices, his happiness, his social life. Our friends have been his friends and our weekend plans have been his plans. I didn’t fully realise until I started this project that I spent all my time trying to please someone else instead of doing what I wanted. And actually that just resulted in my boyfriend feeling rather unpleased, since I forgot my own will, forgot to make my own plans and made him feel trapped in a silly attempt to be a perfect girlfriend. But it’s all changing now. I’m creating my own life, and I feel more independent than ever.

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Filed under Challenge, Confidence, Fear, Independence, Miranda, Personal development, Relationships