To the Winter Hoods with the Migrating Birds

kivetSummer faded into autumn as August came to an end. We, summer residents in Finland, returned to our winter hoods with the migrating birds. Darkening nights, chilly northern wind and coloring leaves of birch trees were the first signs of nature hinting it’s time to go. I’m sad to leave the family behind but thrilled of the new beginnings in September; a new academic year starting for the children and exciting professional challenges for us parents.

paris-640_mediumIn France, it’s the time of the rentrée; the schools begin the first week of September, and Parisian streets fill with cars and people. It’s inspiring to exchange summer experiences with the friends who have returned from their corners of the world; to discover what they have seen, heard, read and learned.

A friend who spent her summer in the Silicon Valley told me about “fashioneering” – a discipline where fashion meets engineering. Maybe wearable computers and electronics built into clothing could inspire girls to code. Imagine jewelry that you could program to fit your outfit or a handbag with touch sensors and a siren to keep intruders away.

It’s time to share our dazzling adventures with the friends because those great summer ventures might encourage us all to try something new this fall.

On Learning and Running Marathons

marathon-640_mediumLong distance running, my oldest and dearest recreational activity, has thought me how to focus and be determined to overcome drawbacks and fatigue. The same willpower that got me through marathons or out there running when it was raining cats and dogs works now for my strength in other disciplines and areas of life.

During a long run or a marathon, the body and mind experience numerous sensations. The run starts typically easily because you’ve trained for it for months by running hundreds of kilometers. At the marathon, the difficulties usually begin after the halfway point. Your body starts showing signs of extreme exhaustion after the 30-kilometer mark: legs are painful and cramp, you feel nauseous and just want this all to end soon. You swear to yourself that you will never put yourself in this pain again, yet you’ll find yourself signing up for a new effort a week later. Your mind has to work on overcoming these unpleasant feelings you are experiencing; Your brain needs to focus on your goal – the finish line!

Becoming proficient requires discipline and perseverance. You have to be determined to continue your training despite disappointments or delays in achieving success. This isn’t easy if you are a naturally impatient type or if you let small – or significant – setbacks discourage you. You can, however, learn to be more persistent.

Firstly, set a goal. Then consider the steps you need to take in reaching it. Break down your grand task into smaller chunks and start working on them one by one. Focus on what you want to learn and drop all unnecessary from your schedule. When you face an obstacle, think how to overcome it. Don’t quit even if it feels exasperating; keep on trying!

marathondeparis 2I’ve been self-observing my progress over a year now in my two new hobbies, drawing and tennis, as well as aiming towards a new career. I notice that I progress gradually, but slowly and am content with the small accomplishments that motivate me to go on. Got that forehand shot quite right – so it is time to boost the backhand!

I’ve practiced tennis twice a week, drawing less regularly, and am still far from fully understanding, without mentioning putting in practice, all different types of tennis shots or drawing techniques. I’ve improved my play a great deal but also understood that getting even better will require more hours of regular training. The same applies to the drawing – more strokes on paper will necessarily lead to advancement in arts, but achieving results takes longer when the exercise schedule is irregular.

I intend to improve my drawing and tennis skills. I have set myself short-term and long-term goals. Sooner, I need to get that serve right; Later, I want to participate in a tennis tournament. The road to the long-term goal is windy and passes by many stops and I need to, hence, stay focused and determined. Here the lessons learned through the long distance running become handy. At the moment of despair, I’ll set my mind to my long-term goal. I will not stress out if something does not stick immediately but try again, and again, until one short-term goal has been achieved; then I’ll move on.

 

Endless Source of Inspiration

smileycafe-640_mediumI’ve troubles in finding inspiration. I’m sipping my morning coffee in a beautifully designed Parisian coffee shop while writing this post. Flavor of the Belleville coffee and the ambiance of Bleu Olive should toss me into it, but no, it’s no go, again today. The energy of a young adult has vanished long ago, and bourgeois lifestyle might have drained the rest of it like those dementors in Harry Potter, who gradually deprive human minds of happiness and intelligence.

Or maybe it’s the urban way of life. Running back and forth – being busy. Too many stimuli. Personal characteristics add up to this lack of motivation – tendency to overdo and get tired, trouble in finding a perfect balance between labor and leisure. Labor meaning not only work but strenuous physical activity in the form of any sports. I do tell my kids that downtime is critical, but my example is contradictory.

Google search provides me with many self-help lists for finding the inspiration. According to many disconnecting and giving yourself a pressure-free moment or creative expression would do the trick. Also contemplating everything you’ve learned and achieved and how you’ve made a positive difference in the world would fill the bill.

I’d add recalling your goals to this list. Those reasons that pushed you to the exercise at first place. I’ve scribbled mine in a notebook and will revisit them right now.