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This “Letter to boys” that an uncle wrote to his nephews resonated deeply with me. Sharing a small piece with you:
“The company you avoid defines you.
Eliminating people gently, discreetly, is an art, and you must learn this early on. Otherwise too much of your adult life will be devoted to avoiding people you do not like, and not enough of your hours can be spent with the ones you love”
I would add: Flush regularly your nose passages and your cluttered relationships.
Make sure your energy flows easily around you and the people you share your life with.
Clean your desk, your cupboards. Give away the stuff you don’t need or use daily. Relinquish burdensome friendships. Keep the main thing, the main thing. Empty your inner (and outer) house and your heart will be full!
So many things happened in one year…and I am relieved it is over, as it has been among the toughest…and as you may know those are also the best teachers.
I am now a confirmed PhD Scholar and somehow managed to pull an amazing presentation last week. So what?
This has been by far the most unexpected, challenging and overwhelming year in terms of exploring my own personal knowledge boundaries, the way I think about knowledge(s), how I construct meaning around myself, and how I interpret the world (research and work just follows). I can now fully state that the more I dig and read and write, the less I know. There are, though, times of insights. Snippets of light. States of flow. When all of a sudden you climb up invisible stairs and you are able to look down and discern a pattern, a shape, a link…and that’s when I know this is my path, and I go on blindly following.
Ok, heavy speech I know, but what I mean is, I am super hyped that I was given this hardship, and that this bit is over, it is past me, I am on the other side now! Doing what we do, is not for the faint-hearted (as it turns out I am one)…support support and more support is what one needs not only when doing a full-time PhD, full-time mothering, and when you also what to be fully present for your partner, your home, community, interests, etc. When support is lacking or none, you end up like me. Totally overwhelmed, lost, and ultimately sick. My body has been struggling for the past 9 months to get me through, and not without fall-backs. I spent this first year permanently ill, all infections, maladies, fatigue, depression, anxiety, migraines, you name it… Naturally, when a cold persists for that long and you cannot catch up on rest, it gets into your mind and the way you start thinking about yourself. It consumes you. It conquers you. It wins.
Well, to bring out the light in all this, my illnesses and body, had ultimately thought me the best of lessons! Not until I began to listen, I managed to prioritize and pull myself together…Insightfully, at once and also very slowly, slowly opening up to my senses, listening to my feet, my stomach, my ears, my nose, my hair, my heart. I am determined to selfishly and selflessly devote myself to a better me, a healthier me, a sane me. With no better purpose such as to be a better mum, a better scholar, a better wife, a better friend. No.
Just for my own sake this time. And this is to be ME. Just ME. To accept me. No better versions of me, but this one. No better future ME, the one that comes with “if’s” and “should’s” and “oh, must-have’s”. I am who I am. It is what it is. And it is now. And now is all I have got.
You may try to give it a go. close-up the last chapter, the last year, the last project…and just be.
Have a brilliant YOU-day!
we feel like little thieves every Thursday morning when we drop off Sami to kindy, and instead of heading to the office, we head to… a date! No lipstick and heels, no fine dinner and bubbly, no dancing and midnight swims…those are long forgotten (for now, until Sami is off to college calling his parents on the weekend only to get to their voice mail, a-haa!).
We now go for a much humbler experience. A minute or two of uninterrupted coffee. We order, we sit, we wait, we gaze at each other, filled with the effort of recognizing and slowly remembering WHO that person was, how their hands felt, what their voice was, and then we are just walking and talking, and then some more talking. We sometimes have lunch, we sometimes have a picnic by the river, we go watch a movie. We even had a couple’s massage.
Then Stoyan goes for a late shift at the emptying campus. I pick Sami up, holding him a tad stronger, sniffing his hair a tad longer.
these are our date days. we like them.
Do you know about flow? That intense state of being, when you are engulfed in the present moment, totally devoted to what you are doing…immersed, to the point of no sleep (or getting up at 3 am to write), no food (I completely forget about meals, me? the foodie? yes!), no external world whatsoever, and totally loving it?!
Yes, I skipped my morning shower yesterday. And I even got to notice it, so maybe there is still some times when I switch off and leave my realm. On top of all, I am still recovering from a nasty cold, but I have found this to be a very flow-like time for me.
When I started my doctorate 6 months ago, I was initially completely lost, almost drowned in all the information out there that I just had to take in with no theoretical framework to hold it together, to contain it. And you know what this means? Just that. No. Framework.
It’s like a very complex painting that has no frame, and it is all over the wall, spreading outside of the room, leaving the premises of your house only to explode in a big blotch of colours, shapes and meanings. Quite post-modern, I may say…but only recently I became aware of this, and even of the above comparison. Because, clearly, we don’t know what we don’t know, until we go back and realize what we did not know.
Naturally, there was a havoc. All previous ideas, quite influenced by others, went to hell and I started my project from scratch.I am building it right now. Reading and writing, then doing more reading, and more and more…At times, I just want to throw it all away, as learning more about things and all the ramifications that come from a single piece of information, are utterly confusing. It creates tons of anxieties. It makes me feel so little.
I think I am beginning to see the scaffolding of things and this is what keeps me going, as I now have the shoulders of a giant to sit on, and this is very reassuring. As much as I wanted to be a pioneer I still need others’ shoulders (and other body parts presumably) to begin my own adventure from.
I guess what this all means is that I find meaning in what I do! And it is so rewarding! It is flow.
And thank goodness for husbands who take care of children in moments like these! I would have never done this without you. Period.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Menawhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clear blue air,
are hearing home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
from Mary Oliver, “Dream Work”
Yesterday I had the most inspiring talk in a long while with my mentor and supervisor. After that we had pizza with the boys at a piano bar on campus! I also did yoga while wearing a dress (don’t ask). What a great way to start my doctorate! I can actually express my OWN passion in this project and do just that – create!
I couldn’t be more grateful for all the opportunities that I am given. I am a true believer in FIRSTS and I put lots of energy ensuring that whatever we do for the 1st time forbears a special meaning. Things like Sami’s first movement in my belly, his first smile, his first questions, his first book, drawing, his first plane ride, his first country to travel to or to live in,…I keep a diary of all our important firsts and we usually toast them regularly.
Here is to a magnificent one!