ponedeljek, 31. maj 2010

The Happy Hacienda

It's not really a hacienda. This is only a nick-name for a cute little plantation of olive-trees on a hill overlooking the sea. It’s a magical place, where the retired parents of a good friend of mine live and grow olive-trees for a hobby. Among the olive trees they are also happy to show their guests the lemon-trees flowering in May and to offer them fresh fruits in late summer: apples, peaches, figs and grapes. Giving the prevailing pale green color of the olive-leaves a touch of colorfulness there are red poppies, pink honeysuckle, yellow Spanish broom and indigo colored sage blossoms stretching up towards the sun. Next to this dazzling array of sunbathing plants there is a group of oak trees believed to be inhabited by dwarfs.

The dwarfs may represent an unpleasant issue for the skeptics, but my husband and I were surely being spoiled all the afternoon and throughout the evening by the human inhabitants of the olive-trees-plantation. All the carefully prepared food, all the laughs we had together have left a smile on our faces instantly popping up whenever we remember the soft smell of jasmine shrubs, the soothing light of the sunset and the delicious taste of homemade salt fish.

We came to meet my friend at her parents’ house in order to give her a set of earrings and a necklace as a small token of our gratitude for her peer-review of my book. It’s amazing how much we get back, if we are ready to give. Next to all the fairy-tale-like feelings described above I also discovered something very practical we got as a feedback. Later in the evening my friend’s aunt and uncle came to visit. They noticed the new earrings and the necklace she was wearing. My friend began to explain enthusiastically, how she had received this gift for having peer-reviewed my book. Suddenly it dawned on me that the earrings-plus-necklace-set is going to add to promotion, although totally unintentionally. That’s what I call little every-day boomerangs of our gratitude. When we give without expectation, we actually get a lot back. It’s not just a saying.

You can ask me more about my new book: bb.bukle@gmail.com

ponedeljek, 24. maj 2010

Society expects

I have read a paragraph in a leading national newspaper just recently: “Nowadays the society expects a lot from a woman. We have to be successful at work, be good wives, good mothers, look like models and keep smiling.” It’s interesting that such statements appear quite often and are usually written by women.

Coming across sentences like this we gradually get the impression that the society sets a list of priorities for us. Give me a break! Who precisely is this “society”? Society in my opinion is nothing but a sociological notion. How could something that is not even a human being expect anything from me? I choose to take care of my health in the first place for example. My husband comes second. I am not a mother yet, but work definitely comes last. This is my list of priorities. And I definitely don’t need any “society” to approve my choice, for I take full responsibility for my decision to put my health first at all times.

Of course I am “lucky” in a certain sense. I had my lesson – 3 times in a locked ward of a psychiatric clinic. An experience like this makes it very easy for a person to put one’s health on the top of the list of priorities. Those of you who are healthy and thus lucky in another way of course could maybe use my advice. Watch out for silly phrases like “society expects”. And decide what is your list of priorities yourself. Oh, and yes, please try to squeeze health somewhere towards the top — you know, just in case.

You can ask me more about taking responsibility for my own life: bb.bukle@gmail.com

ponedeljek, 17. maj 2010

Love Thy Neighbor

In my previous blog I was writing about the real karma. There were a lot of »should«-s. Surely some of you must have thought to themselves: »She preaches, but does she practice it in real life too? Posting on the net and getting all those sky-blue stars is one thing. Facing real people in need is another.« I couldn't agree more.

I hate to preach what I don't practice and luckily this time I have some real life stories to tell.

The first story started in autumn of 2007. I had my first volunteering experience. A went to the local old pensioners’ home and ask the social worker who was in charge of volunteering, if they need me. She assigned me to a relatively young lady in her 40-ies that is in a wheel-chair and is thus somehow forced to live in such a home. It was her decision to come there and she took full responsibility for this decision. I needed a year or so to stop feeling sorry for her. Now, after a year and a half, I view her as so normal and casual that I sometimes suggest some activities, that can clearly only be done by walking-people. Then I must apologize: “Sorry, I completely forgot you cannot walk.” And we laugh about it. I visit her every Tuesday, except during holidays when she has enough other visits anyway. I have written more about her in my blog Why volunteer? —Why not?
The upper example shows planned volunteering for which one needs time. But let me give you a very simple example of a half-an-hour-long volunteering done on the spur of the moment. In my block of flats there is a deaf couple. I do not speak the hand language. So I always restricted myself to nodding my head, smiling at them and moving on. The other day they seemed very motivated to talk to me. Of course I had no clue of what they were trying to say with their hands. Then all of a sudden I got a brilliant idea. I hopped to my apartment, took a pen and a piece of paper and hurried back downstairs. We spent a most delightful half an hour writing short sentences to each other and laughing. The part of our conversation that I found most amusing was the man’s occasional very short answer. When he agreed with something I had said, he simply ticked my sentence off.

And guess what – good will catches on. Some days later I noticed some other normally hearing neighbor talking with a pen and a piece of paper to the deaf couple. Isn’t this planet just beautiful?

You can ask me more about my experience with volunteering: bb.bukle@gmail.com.

ponedeljek, 10. maj 2010

The Real Karma

When I first started posting on www.healthyplace.com, I noticed the concept Karma in my Profile. Next to the concept Karma there were 5 grey stars. I had no clue what this meant. After a few months I noticed that slowly more and more of the five stars were lighting up in sky-blue color. The more active you are on Healthyplace, the better your Karma.

The “grey-stars-turning-to-sky-blue-stars-concept” is very aligned with what I believe about karma. For me karma is a very practical notion. Good karma doesn't come only with regular meditation or prayer. It comes from doing good deeds for the people around you or for the people on the net.

Of course it helps, if you meditate, because in that way you are more inclined to do good deeds. However, being spiritual only when you say your prayers or utter your “Oom”-s and then going out of your room and yelling at somebody for no righteous reason is definitely no good karma. The real good karma is a real-life good deed or a virtual-life supportive post on the net.

Of course there is a limitation to this general rule. Hereby I mean situations when we are exploited by selfish people. In such situations we are supposed to “pack our bags” and go do good deeds somewhere else.

In addition to that there is another limitation: your well-being. If you are going through a mental illness episode or suffer from a physical illness, it’s your duty to take care of yourself first. Take your time, get well and you will be back later. Of course sometimes it feels good to help others and forget about one’s own trouble for a while. Nonetheless be cautious. If you notice that www-chat makes you even more tired, it’s time for a break, a walk in nature for example.

Writing posts can also be viewed as writing therapy and too much therapy can bring trouble. We need the right dosage.

You can ask me more about my experience with self-help forums: bb.bukle@gmail.com.

ponedeljek, 03. maj 2010

The Power of Humor

I had this thing bothering me – it's called family gatherings. I couldn’t listen to huge quantities of lamenting and statements spoken from pessimistic viewpoints. I dedicated a lot of time and energy to somehow tackling the problem. All the different meditations and affirmations I did helped a lot, but in the end they seemed to be insufficient. What sorted things out entirely in the end was the power of humor. I start making jokes the moment I sit behind the table and then laughing catches on and it lasts.

Similarly I have an acquaintance who likes lamenting. It’s her habit, her attitude and her way of life. To my big surprise she noticed pretty soon that I don’t really like this attitude of hers. And guess what — she started telling jokes and developed a new habit. Hence she jokes in my presence almost all the time. And I surely like that a lot.

The point I am trying to make here is the following: People that keep lamenting and therefore take a lot of energy from you are not doing it on purpose. They are not even aware of what they are doing. Thus be gentle and diplomatic in showing them the way to a more positive approach in life.

And last but not least important: may I warn you that some people will fight very hard to keep their negativity, for in their world the negativity is all they have got. In such cases you have to take care of yourself first and protect yourself by avoiding them to some extent.

Of course humor also cheers up those who suffer from a mental illness. It makes it easier for us to accept our illness. Surfing on the internet I lately found very cool stand up comedians that are trying to make mental illness more casual by making jokes about it: http://www.standupformentalhealth.com/

You can ask me more about my experience with telling jokes: bb.bukle@gmail.com.