ponedeljek, 30. november 2009

Failure is not an option. Says who?

Have you ever felt you have failed (badly) in your life?

I could say I have failed. I have failed to make a career as a scientific researcher. After years of studying to become a researcher all of a sudden the illness hit me. It was schizoaffective disorder and I could not believe it. I somehow came through the first three episodes. However, illness and working day after day in an uncomfortable environment made me say goodbye to my career dreams at the age of 34.

Some people think one has to reach the peak of their career between the age of 30 and 40, for after 40 one starts to get old. Now I am beginning a whole new profession - helping others based on the experiences I went through. I don't plan to start getting particularly old at the age of 40. Actually I plan to be a peak performer as a self-help writer and a motivational speaker sometime around 50. So now at 35 I still have 60 more years to go, so I have time.

I also don't care if I fail, because in all these years of fighting with my schizoaffective disorder I learned to fail properly. Something on the lines of Frank Sinatra's song I did it my way. »I bit off more than I could chew«, but then again I ate it up all by myself. So, frankly speaking: »The record shows I took the blows and did it my way«.

Or if I put it in modern new age terms: I made my decisions, I took action and I accepted all the responsibility for my action. And frankly speaking: I don't care if I fail, since I can always say I did my best.

I have learned that blaming somebody else for your failure is not an option. One has to take responsibility for one's life. However, failure IS an option, because sometimes you have to admit defeat.

ponedeljek, 23. november 2009

Why me? — Part II

Last week I attended another business seminar for beginners. It lasted for three days. It was so intense that after the first day I got up in the morning and I thought to myself: »What if I skip the first lecture? It's going to be a lecture on business negotiation. I don't need that right now. I can attend a similar seminar later.« But there was another thought equally strong going through my head: »I must go. No explanation why. I simply have to go.«

Luckily the second thought won. I went to the seminar. The moment the first lecturer appeared on stage I knew why. It was K. E. S. that stood there and smiled just like 6 years ago, when I first saw her. Her presence filled the whole conference hall. I was dazzled.

Back in 2003 I attended my first business seminar ever. K. E. S. was the first lecturer. Her topic was the basic motivation to start one's own business. Or in other words: How to start doing something we really like before even thinking about the »big money« ahead. Back then I wasn't a bit ready to start my own business, but I remembered two things she said up until now:

- She mentioned that negative thoughts were like weed. If we want our plants (positive thoughts) to grow, we need to keep removing the weed. Up until that moment I had thought that the happy people didn't have any negative thoughts at all. Wrong! We all have them. The happy people are just better gardeners.

- She emphasized how important it was to find out WHAT WE REALLY LIKE DOING. She asked: »Do you ever jump up and down in the morning, because you are so happy to go to work?«

I couldn't relate to that jumping scene at all. I thought she was talking about some science fiction. But she planted a seed in my head. A tricky question that kept popping up evertime I felt dissatisfied with my job. This went on for 5 years. Then in 2008 I finally gave notice and started writing a book. Of course my husband agreed to support me.

Back than in 2003 K. E. S. was one of the stars shimmering on the horizon. One of the stars that made it impossible for me to give up totally no matter how depressed I felt. Yet I needed another psychotic episode later that year to force me to think. So in 2004 I started the mental work described in Louise Hay's books. I knew that it was crucial for me to find out WHAT I REALLY WANT TO DO FOR A LIVING. Yet I was only able to find this out in 2007.

Today I really feel that writing self-help books IS what I want to do for a living. And it makes me happy. Hadn't I had that last psychotic episode in 2003, I would probably still cling to my job and remain semi-miserable for the rest of my life.

So: Why me again? Because everything is perfect. I am grateful for all the good and the bad that had happened to me. It has made me who I am today.

ponedeljek, 16. november 2009

Why me?

I can laugh about it today, but this was a very serious question 13 years ago when I had my first psychotic episode. It seemed sooooooo unfair. My brain was producing numerous questions of self-pity: »What have I done to deserve this? Is this a punishment? For what? Have I not been taking good care of my health? How come it has happened precisely to me and not to somebody else? My class mates are finishing their studies, some are already married. Some have been already promised a job. And here I am – my BA not finished, single, no job perspectives, no boy-friend perspectives. I'm doomed.«

Well everyone has bad moments of self-pity. That's normal. The problem with my self-pity was that this »mode« was »on« 24 hours a day, 365 days per year, for 7 years. In the meantime I had finished BA, got a job and a wonderful boy-friend, but the »self-pity-mode« was still »on«.

How is this possible? It's called thinking patterns. One gets into the habit of self-pity and that's how it stays, even if the outer-world-situation changes. So in the summer of 2004 I decided to change my »inner-world-situation«. I was encouraged by my boy-friend's friend, who lent me a book by Louise Hay You Can Heal Your Life. I started reading. It didn't seem to work. I started doing the mental work described in the book. It didn't seem to work.

I said to myself: »I hit the bottom. I am constantly thinking of committing a suicide. I cannot fall any deeper. I will continue the affirmations and visualizations. It must start working some day.« I was stubborn as hell and so I persisted. Twice a day for about 20 minutes. The first results began to show after a year. They were not real results you could describe. I just began to feel a bit better. And so I went on with the mental work. Later I added the method of Phyllis Krystal. A year ago I joined a school for emotional intelligence. Now after 5 years of working on my ways of thinking I can say I have changed.

It's either the hard way or no way. It's your choice. But don't worry – after a few years you begin to like the mental work so much, you cannot stop doing it.

ponedeljek, 09. november 2009

Take it easy – take a break

It has been almost a month since I first started chatting on healthyplace.com. Some of the stories really broke my heart. I wanted too much to help. I kept thinking about the healthyplace too often. And then a few days ago I realized that even such a lovely place as healthyplace can turn into an unhealthyplace, if I overdo it. So I took a few days off. I have had a most wonderful weekend.

On Saturday me and my husband drove to the Adratic Sea. We had been invited by an old friend of mine to participate in olive-harvest at her parents' olive-farm. The farm is situated on high terraces above the coast. The view of the sea and the calming autumn colors on the terraces behind the coastline was magnificent. To me the most astonishing plant is the ruj-shrub. The color of its leaves ranges from yellow over orange to red. The flowing pallet of these warm colors shimmering in the distance made me feel very alive and full of love for the wonders of nature. And of course also the warm colors of various plants growing on the farm among the olive-trees gave the day a touch of magic. The red vine leaves contrasted the greyish-green olive leaves. We could taste delicious mandarin oranges and take some wild lemon fruits for decoration to our homes. The intense orange color and the special taste of kaki fruits added another color to the pallet and a taste to the day. And not to speak of the red pomegranate fruits and all the wonderful flowers ranging from yellowish-white chrysanthemum over orange tagetes to red bougainvillea.

Compared to this colorful autumn scene the company was even more fine. We would joke the whole day while picking olives. We had a lot of breaks with delicious traditional food ranging from vegetable stew over pickled adriatic fish and Bosnian salty cream cheese to a large variety of cakes. The owners of the farm took really good care of us. We picked over 500 kg of olives and are looking forward to taste the olive oil when it is ready.

I discovered something new about myself this day. Due to all these years of digging into my subconsciousness, into my past and of analysing my thinking patterns and relationships I somehow lost the capability to just chat on the way. So on occasions like these I am re-learning the small talk techniques. I am getting back the feeling for »not going too deep«. When a person changes the subject for example I try not to drag them back. Or for example I don't tell somebody I have just met that I have schizoaffective disorder. I tell them about it if the conversation leads to it. I try to make it casual, not a big thing to announce. Boasting about it or hiding it for any price are just too extremes of not being able to accept it as something very casual. Accepting this illness was crucial for me.

Photos by: Miha Bercko

ponedeljek, 02. november 2009

Why volunteer? Why not!

Do you watch or read the news regularly? How many good things, events, phenomena are presented there? Almost none. Does it mean that good things rarely even happen? So you can look around and try to make them happen. You don't need any spare time to wait a few seconds and hold the door for the neighbor climbing the stairs that lead to the main entrance of the building you live in. Neither do you need any spare time to smile to your neighbors instead of just saying Hi with a dull expression on your face.

Of course if you happen to have spare time, you can inquire in your local neighborhood whether some social institutions like schools or retirement homes or some non-governmental organisations like charity need volunteers.

I read in several books how good it feels to volunteer. So a year and a half ago I volunteered in a retirement home close to where I live. I still visit a lady that lives there every week. She is only 44, but she cannot walk and has nobody to take care of her, so she decided to live in a home.

It was very depressing at first. Every time I came home after my visit in the home, I felt guilty for being able to walk and do all other things she cannot. It was horribly tough to swallow the pain and go visit her again. I even thought of quitting. However I kept saying to myself: »You cannot make her walk again. All you can do is keep her company once a week. If you stop doing that, you are only going to make her life worse.« So I kept going there and after a few months I managed to accept the fact that she cannot walk and also has to put up with a lot of pain.

Now we are friends and I must say she helped me a lot more than I helped her. She always gives me wise advice, she jokes a lot. She is optimistic. She very rarely laments. The most amazing thing is that she - who really has a lot to lament about - hardly ever does it. She is so much fun to chat to. Which is very valuable in these days when there is no time to chat.