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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Power Circles

Every primary school in the Netherlands has 'individual coaching', 'individual training' or 'individual adaptations' in its program for children. Hurray! 

Hurray? It all depends... on the goal of the individual approach. Most often it means that the child that is deviating from the mass, especially when it is functioning below average, will be pulled or pushed in the direction of the mean, so that it will fit in, in the bell curve, at an acceptable distance from the average.
Only rarely will a school state that it will help the child deviating from the normal range, to stay away from the mass and make its deviation even more pronounced.  Unless the child has a high IQ, the overrated trait in this rational society. Yet for some children it would have been the better option.
There's a hidden message in moving a child towards the mean and away from its own spot in the graph. It tells the youngster it's not a good child. That in order to be appreciated it has to do what others like or are good at. That its own inclinations and senses are wrong.

OK, so the extra lessons brought Mary's grade in maths from 2 to 6 ( from E to C) ... that's only good for Mary if she can now calculate with as much ease as the other kids. If she has to struggle for every 6 / C... how healthy is that?  In class she has to concentrate so hard, that she can't join in on the jokes and 'illicit' communications. She gets home tired and grumpy, Her class mates avoid her, so she is playing alone most of the time. She's not exactly developing her social skills.... all she is learning is that she'll have to walk on her toes the rest of her life. Don't be surprised if she's burned out at fifty... not knowing why.
Jack never liked learning, being in the classroom makes him feel overwhelmed, left out and a good for nothing. He is now doing a home schooling program. A little bit of learning, lots of playing... slow progress, but he feels relaxed, happy, proud. People really like this 'urchin' and chances are he'll get hired somewhere some day, and he'll grow into his job at his pace, making a living after all.
Davy likes painting more then anything else in the world. He is not good in English and abominably bad at geography and history. How easy would it be for his  teacher to say that he should do geography while the rest of the class is painting. Because Davy doesn't need to learn anything about that...he's a natural.   No, his teacher knows that Davy's eyes will shine energetically after half an hour of painting and that this good feeling it will help him battle his way through geography and history. And if Davy can learn more history through making a painting of a medieval castle, rather than writing a paper about it... the teacher will ask Davy to make that painting. Davy is allowed put his talent to use, he can stay in his 'power circle' and learn from there. It;s not likely he'll get a burn out at midlife. More likely he is a painter then, because his teacher taught him to believe in his own talent.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Taking a Break

... at home.
Yes, I have to do it. Go on a holiday at home. Simply lay down my worst chores and trade them for some things long overdue.
It's not my son who is tugging at my sleeve, nor my mom or brother. It's me I can't say 'No' to.

I'm trying to build three cities in one day. And when it's not finished before midnight, I'm so annoyed with myself. Suppose I would succeed... it would be done by 'overcropping'. My buildings would be there, but their foundations would be shaky.  And I'm getting to be like that too. By listening to that silly part of me that uses fear and greed as motivators.

I'm retracting my 'short notice' of two weeks ago, I'm going on that holiday!  Where am I going to? I'm going to see  [ sea ;)  ]  whether letting go and NOT working on my dreams with full force is more constructive for them than all my latest investments have been. Funny... I've been here before, I'm back at the well once more

I've already started packing my suitcase: I bought two large plywood planks today... Never worked with my planks on an easel, but I have my mom's easel for working with pastel standing downstairs. Starting this weekend... I'll have dirty hands and jeans but there'll be a tune humming in me. My 'Heartsong' as Matty Stepanek called it.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Suitcases 1

With mobile phones and internet, going off on a holiday is changing. You're not letting go of your 'old' life entirely. But holidays still help you step away from the daily grind and look at what you're doing, accomplishing, heading towards etc. from a distance. The change in daily routine still is characteristic for a holiday and it helps you feel like a different person. Hopefully you'll meet the 'real you' that got covered under the dust of daily life.

But how do you look at your life from that safe distance when your budget is too low for an actual journey? When the only trip you can take is to the supermarket, or maybe a cup of coffee at that one lunchroom where you've never been before? That is.. if the costs aren't so high that it makes you worry about your financial state even while sitting and smelling that magic aroma?

Mental suitcases... that's all that's left.


I see I'm at a two track station here.... I can elaborate on the concept of mental suitcases, or on how to take a break from life and take a holiday in your own home. Will I end up at different points, or will my conclusion be the same, no matter what road I take?

True to my standard mental processing I will take the ride that is less fun, and might remain unexplored if I don't dutifully choose it....  but deeper inside I only agreed to this because I sense that the mental suitcases just lie waiting for me at the end of this ride....

Suitcases 2

Departing from Track 1:  Holiday at Home

Holiday, taking a break. It's the break that we long for: breaking with the present. your present state, your present habits. Why is it so hard to really see what mistakes you make and come up with better plans when you're staying at home?

It could be the fact that you stay in the same surroundings... But a little meditating, making a list of the pros and cons of your life, or even watching a movie or read book to help you look sharper and make up your mind, should be enough, shouldn't it? These things help you look at life from a different viewpoint. 
When I munch on these suggestions, there's two things coming up in me. Two big heavy metal balls, chained to my legs. 

First of all, in my same old surroundings... I don't FEEL different. I'm still covered with the gray dust of daily life and all these new ideas seem distant and unreal. So not applicable too little old me. Maybe I did manage to shake off the dust by putting my foot down and announcing that I am taking a break. Right here, right now... but somehow the dust, now floating through the air, is slowly coming down. Striving to get back to it's old place: all over me. 

Second, one very important ingredient is missing when you do your holiday at home: 'New People'.  
New people are a fantastic mirror to see how you are doing. Their response to you will tell you that.
And they'll help you feel about in yourself.... do I feel comfortable riding a bus, sitting next to Joe Sixpack. Do I feel at ease in a glittering dining room full of -allegedly- smiling people? Or am I just longing for the drone of the ocean waves, sitting next to a friend who doesn't mind that I keep quiet for a while?

Or let me rephrase it: one very important aspect about holidaying at home is that you're still surrounded by 'Old People',  people you know. and who know you! Now THAT is detrimental.... if you plan to change your course in life.

Have you ever heard of people, being firm friends  but getting into a feud during the trip they went on together? 

It doesn't have to happen.. it depends on the type of people you're dealing with, the character of the relationship you have.. 
Is it an open one, where unexpected things are welcome? Or are constancy and predictability King and Queen in your relationship? That has nothing to do with the type of relationship you have... man and wife, parent and child, customer and supplier, friend and foe  :) .

There simply is a certain type of people,  Ulrich Schaffer describes them so eloquently:
Sie wollten nicht die Herausforderung deiner inneren Stärke, nicht die Verunsicherung, die mit deiner Offenheit und Direktheit kam. Sie wollten dich profillos. Sie wollten dich grau und berechenbar.  
<<They didn't want the challenge of your inner strength, nor the uncertainty that came with your openness and directness. They wanted you without profile. They wanted you gray and predictable>>.

I know it's true. Changing your role, or rather the way you play your role, unnerves those around you.
Have you ever tried it? I have and it triggered heavy protests. The loudest from the people closest to me. Which is logical... they have fit you into their lives. Like with falling domino pieces, when you change, you force them to change their life too, though not more than a small part of it.  Which may not be bad -at all-  but just horribly uncomfortable for them.

Don't get me wrong... I love my old friends. 
Not all of them are like that... and those that are... they still are good people, nice people... but not capable of helping you when you are being critical about your own life. 
If their friendship is strong enough though... they will eventually calm down and admire the new you.

So, when these are the type of people that surround you.... they will discourage your plans to change.  By clouding your new viewpoint on life. By dragging your decisions into a thick mist, and by draining your determination to change before you had the chance to gather strength.

Hm, they will even do that if you go on a holiday 5500 miles from home... if you take these people along.
So what is essential to the success of your holiday is the luggage you take along... what do you put into your suitcase? And more importantly:  what do you leave out?

Suitcases 3

Waiting at track 2: the train that only allows Mental Suitcases

"What is essential to the success of your holiday is the luggage you take along: what do you leave out?"

Hah, now we are on familiar ground: turning concrete matters into metaphors.

We are not going on a standard trip, the annual happening that you talk over at length with your colleagues.
You are taking a break, because you've had it, really had it, with the way things are going now. You need clarity, room to think and draw conclusions, make new plans...
So we're not going around the corner or cross the channel. We'll be taking a plane to move through timezones. 

I think I won't take a backpack, but a real suitcase, nice and strong.  I'm going to lock it and make sure that my most precious items don't show up on x-rays... I don't need security people and customs to scrutinize what I value most: my old dreams.
- I want to gather the strength and passion for them. So I can pursue them, even if other people, -those who seem to have made it in life- tell me it's safer not to try. 
I've tried living their way... didn't work out.  Their style is the unsafe way for me.

No, no cell phone.  My family might call on me, asking me how to fix this, to arrange that etc.  When you take no cell phone, it means people will have to call the hotel lobby first and talk in a language foreign to them. A great threshold to block communication. forcing those that stay behind to learn to solve their problems by themselves. That would be the first good change!

Do I take along swimming gear, sun block? Nah, not going to hang out in the sun or be a sportswoman. Those things don't clear my head at all. I rather take along some plywood 
and my crayons.

Maybe even a bit of clay. I saw a very inspiring couple in the waiting room of the animal clinic where I go to for Mario, the white cat. And my daily life doesn't leave much room for art. Being able to create all day will be terribly good for me. It'll cure my numbed sense for who I am.
-  There you go, I pinpointed another problem: I need to spend more time drawing, sculpting and writing!  
It usually makes me feel so good that I do my chores twice as fast afterwards. It pays itself back.  
***  Parents: don't teach your children to do the boring things first!!  

I'm a bit doubtful about taking along a laptop... I love using it for writing and it helps me find my way around at 'Wherever I May Go'. Good info on public transport just broadens my world.  But I must make sure 'the others' won't use it instead of the cell phone that I left behind...   
- That is another thing I might change in daily life: my inaptness at drawing lines, setting limits. No is no. Let others really solve their own problems. Minor problems. Ay, here I go again. I may say 'No' to some major problems to. I'm a human being, I cannot carry the load of everyone around me!

So the laptop is definitely coming along. Even if it's only to teach me to do what I want while my family finds out they cna do without me. 

-That sounds like i'm making myself 'not needed'. Does that mean they'll love me less?  Nah, have you never heard of the lines  " I love you because I need you" and "I need you because I love you" ?   Time to make room available to experience the latter :)

I could go on for hours, but what YOU need to do... is pack your own Mental Suitcase.

Suitcases 4

This train has reached it's final destination...

No matter how you call it, how you write about it: if you really feel you're doing 'something' wrong,   
try taking a look at it from different angles...

(c) 'Lantern Pole being curious' by Jene Jasper.

in any which way. It doesn't have to be by packing your suitcase.
Now , if you come up with ideas for a change for the better... 

- Make sure that this time these ideas are truly yours. Not suggestions taken from others. else you can't stand for your choice when the going gets tough... and it  will get tough if you choose for 'Change'.

- It doesn't matter whether you decide to slowly introduce them or go for the big bang.
Just the plain fact that you are changing course, or tracks, means that your life IS different from now on.

- Don't give in on these ideas, not even after 300 failed attempts... after all, there is beauty even in the attempt: the attempt in itself means you are being true to yourself.  

If the journey means nothing to you, and you are only focusing on reaching your desired destination ....   boy you are closing your eyes for the biggest part of your life. And  you might be disembarking at station "Disappointment" if you turn down the unexpected switches offered to you in your journey.
God [or Fate or Life or Love] 
     may have a better destination in mind for you, than you do yourself!