Eating disorders are wasting your time

Dear reader,

This is a very personal post and I have never written about this subject so openly.

For some reason, I remembered some of my teen idols. I was so in love with a French dancing figure skating pair, Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat, especially with their performance of “Esmeralda” and “Time to Say Goodbye” in the early 2000’s. Watching them skate again today, brought many memories of my early, young, fragile age, so I decided to go on with my orange-reddish hairstyle 🙂

Another recent idol has been Yulia Lipnitskaya, a young Russian figure skater, who, at the age of only 15 won the gold medal (well deserved!). I was wondering what she might be up to today, 4 years later, and found out that she’s retired from sport, due to severe anorexia.

I couldn’t believe it. It made me so so sad. She is far from lonely case. I dedicated my whole life to classical ballet, up to the age of 21. For years I was suffering from eating disorders. It started as I was getting ready for Ballet Nationals and my teacher made some crude remarks about my weight. At the age of 16, I wanted to do my best to “fit in”, succeed, meet the standards, regardless of how inhumane or devastating they were. I forced my body to do things most people couldn’t even imagine was possible. I pushed it beyond every limit and won the second place, dancing with a torn calf muscle. I could go on not eating for days, or bring every single meal out whenever I wanted. Still, no signs of fatigue or lost strength or physical ability. I had complete control over it. It was my absolute slave.

I made my best friend my slave. And as most things I was up to, I succeeded 100%.

It all got worse at about the same time, when I was almost expelled from school for anonymously publishing an article about certain practices and behaviours at our school. What I’d written was nothing but truth, but the reaction I got from my teacher was awful. I was excluded, humiliated, yelled at so that the entire school could hear and after that I learned to keep quiet, swallow all the injustices and simply pretend everything was fine. Pretend I was okay. Suppress all the emotions, desires, hopes. Just work, work, work. At the age of 16 my wings were broken. Crushed. I thought it was my fault. Everybody was pointing at me, confirming it was my fault. People watching me go down the road of slowly getting more and more exhausted, bystanders not knowing what to do, friends disappearing.

Eating disorders are lethal. They are one of the most damaging addictions. Vicious things, lurking in the back, taking over your life slowly, while you are fooling yourself believing you are in control.

I was so sad to read about Yulia. Such talents, such beautiful souls carried away by this disease. Many professionals are claiming, one cannot escape this circle. That the victim will always stay trapped in the cold hands of anorexia or bulimia. I say they are wrong.

I managed to recover myself. It happened as everyone else gave up. Doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, all sort of professionals. They gave up because they failed to ask me one single question:

What are your best hopes?

All of them were focused on ways how the disease was messing up with my life, or worse, how it’s become my life. None of them bothered to ask me about my other sides, my passions or hopes, probably because they assumed I had none. I believed that too. But it was not true. It was only that my wings were broken, but that doesn’t have to mean that I would not be able to grow new ones. Being kept in an environment where everybody was constantly reminding me that I have “screwed up”, “will not make it again” and “can’t do it myself” has been more damaging than the wounds I cut myself.

So at one point, after years of suffering, I decided that I won’t let my 16-year old down. I’ll never hide again and will never bow, even if and when my mouth will get me in trouble. I’ll never stand people for having the wrong energy, because I learned to be protective of myself and of people around me. People who are affected by eating disorders have several wonderful traits – they take it all on them, which makes them very pleasant company. They are incredibly talented, intelligent and resilient. But they simply don’t know that yet or don’t believe it. Eating disorders are a way of withdrawing, distracting from pain, focusing the punishment onto yourself, even when someone else is guilty. But in the cold light of dawn, eating disorders are a waste of your time. And a terrible waste of your potential.

Again, I was so sad to read the news about Yulia. And I know many girls like her, even some boys. I used to be one. And I can also show you that you, YOU ALONE, can manage to spread your wings again, fly, or grow whatever you need in order to lead the life you want. Yes, you can, without medication, painful questions and all sort of experts, who will pretend they care and will pretend they know better than you. No-one knows better than you.

Connect with me, if this sounds appealing and you might benefit from my experience. I was extremely lucky, that a couple of years after recovering, I accidentally bumped into Solution Focused Brief Therapy, which was exactly how I managed to restore my best version. The version that will never shut up and will never ever bend again. So naturally, I became a SFBT therapist and am now trying to make a difference with the approach and care, I needed, but was simply not there. With all my love and all my passion, both of which at some point I thought will never be on the menu of my feelings again. So I got lucky, but not because faith had it, but because I looked out for it.

With so much love to all the Yulias,

Biba

 

There are no rules in life. There are only roles in life

Dear reader,

my hands are shaking from excitement as I’m writing this. Finished a videoconference call with a client from Germany in the morning and she pulled the trigger for this post.

She was diagnosed with pathological shyness in the past, as she was unable develop or keep normal relationships. She lived with this diagnosis her entire teenage life and is currently in the final year of her undergraduate studies. She sought my help because she asked for a coaching conversation with someone unknown, unbiased, who is keen on student population, their concerns and problems and would help her find a way forward.

As we talked, it turned out she is thinking about moving out of her country and continuing her studies on the masters level somewhere abroad. She was struggling with her indecisiveness, her fear that she would be unable to cope with unknown people and situations, as well as feeling frightened what would happen in case she doesn’t succeed.  It was pretty much a story that takes place quite often with young people at that age. Then something beautiful happened and I’m copying a section from our conversation (with her approval). Let’s call her Anna and I leave it up to you to decide whether this girl is truly pathologically shy:

Anna: … you know, it’s like first you have to go to school. Then you have to go to university. You have to perform with top scores, otherwise you won’t feel like you’re worth anything. Be the top of your class. Lend notes to your colleagues. Go to parties you don’t like. Get a boyfriend. Have sex because it’s embarrassing if you don’t at the age of 20. Then think about your masters. Get into the top schools, because this is how you’ll get an offer in a company. I’m trapped, I don’t think I can manage all that. And I can’t tell anybody, these thoughts are not good thoughts to have. It’s embarrassing.

Biba: what would the situation you could manage look like?

Anna: I couldn’t. I never could manage. You know I was diagnosed with being antisocial. I can’t cope because of that.

Biba: and if you somehow could? Suppose you could imagine a situation where you could manage, how might that look like?

Anna (long pause): I don’t know if I get your question. It’s a fact I can’t manage.

Biba: and if you could, how would you know you are managing?

Anna: this would be a totally different situation then!

Biba: like?

Anna (again long pause): first of all I wouldn’t be where I am right now. I wouldn’t be the person I am.

Biba: what might you be?

Anna: I would be simply … enough being me, being as I am. I would do what I like to do. At the moment I don’t really think there’s much I actually like to do. I’ve even forgotten what is it that I really like!

Biba: and what do you like?

Anna: I like to read. I like to cook. I hate numbers [note: she was enrolled in a course that contained a lot of numbers]. I hate staying up late, just because my roomate does. I actually don’t even want to go to masters.

Biba: so you’re very clear about what you don’t want.

Anna: it’s quite a surprise really. I think I hate my entire life! This is not me! I’m not shy, I just don’t like to talk to people! I don’t want to be a good quiet girl anymore either!

Biba: so if you could define it brand new …?

Anna: I would love to, but I can’t … [long pause] I can’t do it because the picture that I like doesn’t fit with what I’m supposed to do right now. And it’s already too late. You know, I don’t mean to hurt anybody or cause anybody problems, nor my parents, teachers, nobody. I was always told to be a good girl and so I was. Trying to please everybody. And I thought they would like me for doing so. But it seems like I can never be enough, just being me. I will never be enough. So I have to do the masters to achieve something. Then get a decent job to earn enough money to be independent. That’s what I would like.

Biba: that’s what you would like, is this how your preferred situation might look like that you could manage?

Anna: no! That’s my current reality and it’s overwhelming! It’s like I’m choking here.

Biba: okay. So if we keep it where you are now, you get the masters, get the job that pays your bills, where do you hope this would lead to?

Anna: I don’t know. I might wake up one day and say my life was … meaningless. Even though I might achieve everything that is expected from me to achieve … Why do we do that, why do I do that, is this normal?

Biba: I think we all try to more or less fit within the rules of our society. What do you think?

Anna: Not sure. It seems like everybody I know is pretty happy with that. They like where they are and where they go. And I’m torn inside.

Biba: I meet many people that are unhappy with that.

Anna: You know what? I actually think there are no rules in life. We invented them just because everybody does it. It doesn’t mean that everybody SHOULD do it.

Biba: it doesn’t, no.

Anna: but I am afraid to do anything about it. I could probably still turn it around when I was younger. You know, before I enrolled to this stupid class. It’s too late for me now, I can’t reverse it.

Biba: imagine we would have your 15 year old and your 30 year old arguing about who is more right to be too late, what sort of arguments might they both use to convince you?

Anna: they would both have pretty strong arguments!

Biba: so what might be their strongest anti-arguments to convince you that it is the perfect time to start over?

Anna: well I could as well be 60. I could just kill myself then.

Biba: you could as well be 23 [she was currently 22].

Anna: I know. I don’t want to waste another year. I want something better, this time for me. But it scares me, you know, it really scares me, because if I do it, I won’t have any support. Nobody knows me like that, nobody is interested in what do I want. Nobody will like who I really am.

Biba: good, it is supposed to be scary! It means it is worth it.

She was perfectly right. There are no rules in life. Sure, you are born, you go to school, you find a decent job when you are 25, you find a partner, have kids by 30, get a dog by 35, buy a house and a family car, go on vacation, pay for children’s schooling, go into menopause, possibly divorce, maybe get grandchildren, retire by 65 and hopefully, have someone to grow old with. Life has a certain natural cycle, we all get older and so far no one has survived yet. But the rules of when you should do what and how were invented because the majority does it that way, not because it should be done that way. You are supposed to eat breakfast. Exercise. Not take drugs. Learn how to drive. Sleep at night. Be faithful. Be on time. Make money. Consume a lot. Park on marked places. All these are the rules that were invented and some of them indeed make most of our lives easier to manage. It is easier if you sleep at night and if you try to follow the principles of a healthy diet. But you don’t HAVE TO do it, if you found something different that works for you. Especially if you found something that is more beneficial for you and others around you.

You don’t have to force yourself to wake up early in the morning if you are more of a night type. You don’t have to get married if you don’t believe in marriage. You don’t have to do the masters or go to university just because everybody does it. You don’t have to eat bananas because they are rich in potassium, if you hate it. You don’t have to run if you prefer swimming. Also don’t have to watch the news if it doesn’t interest you. You don’t have to participate in conversations that you find meaningless or boring.

There are no rules. There are only roles and even the roles change. If you are a parent, you are in a role of a caregiver. Once your children are adults, they might become caregivers and your role will change. If you are a spouse, you are in a role of giving and receiving love and affection. If you are 60, your body probably isn’t the same as it was when you were 20. That doesn’t mean it has to hurt or that you are unable to have regular walks if you like to.

Everything is fluid. Everything constantly changes. You don’t have to be obedient in life just because you were told you should be when you were little. It might help though in certain contexts, but there is no one out there, to whom you should kneel because they are superior. Nobody is better or worse than you are. Nobody is allowed to take the leading part of your life, as this is YOUR part and YOUR life, and it’s ending one minute at a time. So don’t take the part of a victim and don’t bend down. It is your responsibility to discover what you like, what fits you and find your passion to share and express yourself in this world.

Sure, not everybody will like you because of that and you might disappoint quite some number of people. But those who will like you for who you are and how you are, will support you. Someone I love deeply said once to me that he’s been stupid nearly all of his life. And he doesn’t mind being stupid with me as well. There is nearly 9 billion people on this planet. You will find people that share similar interests and who are happy to be your kind of stupid. Even if it’s just a few, these few can support you in your authentic happiness that comes from within your true self when you find your integrity to dare being you.

DARE to be who you are and who want to be! You have nothing to loose, you might only get rid of certain clutter you don’t need in life. There are no rules, only roles, and roles change. Constantly.

Biba

skype sf mindfulness

I’ve chosen my kind of people – Solution Focused community. Together we create miracles.

Meet a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts

A very special day today and I want to share it with you, my friends and readers.
 
A couple of weeks ago I got recommended to become a part of the ROYAL SOCIETY OF ARTS from a British distinguished fellow who noticed my work and found it meaningful. The Royal Society of Arts was founded in Covent Garden in 1754 and included Dickens, Marx, Hawking, Diefenbaker, Berners-Lee and many others among its fellows, who wanted to change the world for the better. You can only get in by invitation and recommendation to be viewed as a meaningful member. Today I got admitted and have become a full member.
 
The Royal Society of Arts has been a source of innovation, ideas and inspiration for over 260 years and is a platform for the world’s leading thinkers,sharing their ideas online, while its Action and Research Centre searches for new and innovative ways to solve society’s greatest challenges. The Society consists of 27,000 worldwide fellows, has its own funding and venue in London available for use and is a great entity that helps turn ideas into action. Now you know where I’ll spend my spare time while in London!
 
So now I’ve become a part of this network and society – the first and only one in Slovenia ever. Meaning I now have access and privilege to connect to the world greatest thinkers and trend-setters. This is also news for you – Slovenia now has a fellow through which you can benefit and be engaged as well. The RSA has funding available for projects that make a positive difference in our society – so if you have ideas and need funding, step in touch with me and I can help you make your project come true.
 
This is such a special moment. I’m being really emotional right now and can’t even write or think in my mother tongue. But it looks like all my years of voluntary work have finally paid off … 🙂 and my Ribalon can continue being an autonomous, independent institution who does what it thinks is right, not what its funders and financers expect it to do. This is big, it is very big. Some say dream big and big things will happen to you. I always dream small and yet huge things happen to me.
Here’s to us – to you and me and to all the upcoming projects we’ll do together that will make a difference!
 
Biba, FRSA
RSA profile.png

A. Biba Rebolj

When dealing with your own issues, use your head. When dealing with other people’s issues, use your heart.

This is my personal motto.

A few days ago, my former client made a comment she’s missing information about me on my webpage. Her words were: “There is so much about your organization, but so little about yourself. People are interested and would love to hear about you!” And when she heard I never sign my blog posts, she thought I was mad. Since she’s very good at her business, I trust her words and intuition. I’ll sign my posts from now on 🙂

I’m not the kind of person who likes talking about herself. I always feel I don’t have anything special to say about me. If I would be able to choose, I would stay in the shadow and would preferably observe what’s going on from the distance. If I could choose between talking or listening, I would go for the latter. Same stands when choosing between answering or asking.

However, life never goes according to our plans and someone or something had different plans for me and a different path in mind.

I was born in an average family in one working class town where alcoholism was more of a natural state than an exception. My father (an alcoholic) died of stroke when I was 5 and he was diagnosed with manic depression. My mother was suffering from anxiety. Though I perceive my childhood as a happy one, I ran away from home when I was 13 and headed off to the capitol city, where I wanted to follow my dreams thus become a ballet dancer. I was gifted and had demonstrated hard discipline, but was nothing truly exceptional. Teachers recommended I rather choose career in music because of my perfect pitch or go study languages, but I felt otherwise. Didn’t succeed as a dancer, so I headed towards university after more than a year of severe depression and eating disorder, because my world and my identity collapsed in as short period as just one day.

My undergraduate studies were in library and information science. I selected this course because I had doubts I would be able to finish anything more demanding, even though my scores were high enough to grant me a place in medicine or psychology. But my self esteem was lower than the height of a chihuahua dog and I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Soon after the first few lectures passed, it appeared to me that this study course would allow me plenty of time, which I  spared engaging in extracurricular activities, such as student council, student associations, etc., which soon got me to be an elected MP for my faculty. I didn’t like the MP’s position, though very prestigious, partly because I don’t aspire to be under flashlights and partly because I hate pretension. However through that function, I met some very nice people and my network grew. At about the same time I was appointed to take a leading role of a coordinator for student tutors and students with disabilities. It was a brand new role, so I established the entire support system from scratch. This was something that really suited me and I loved my work, for the first time after being a failed artist. Loved helping others who were facing difficult situations, especially because I myself have had an experience what it feels like being stigmatized, hurt, abandoned or very scared. I could also have little understanding of the weight of having a disability label, because I’ve self-recovered from a 5-year eating disorder which was proclaimed lethal and unhealable. I figured doctors and specialists were not always the best option. Nor was psychiatry, digging in the past, or discussing whose fault it was. They labelled me “hopeless”, but they were wrong. I resisted their “help”, because all they did, was looking down at me from their expert positions through diagnosis and nobody took the time to really listen. And none of them cared. I promised myself I would treat people differently. I managed to completely recover and put myself up again, without any professional help. But I didn’t look at this as an achievement, because nobody really cared. At least I thought so.

In 2010, university MP’s got the opportunity to be subjects for IQ testing at Mensa. It was a rainy afternoon and I just had a big lunch, so I thought I could afford to spend an hour or two playing with some funny tests to avoid falling asleep. My expectations towards the outcomes were rather low, because I was still holding a belief I’m below average. When the results came several weeks later, they delivered a huge surprise. It turned out I have such a strong mental capacity to fit within top 3-4% of the mankind population. It then occured to me that funny looks I got sometimes weren’t happening because people wouldn’t like me, but were there because people wouldn’t understand what I was saying or they couldn’t catch up with my thoughts of rapid speed and my ability to get to the bottom much earlier.

So suddenly I was proven more intelligent than most people. Such a rare ability comes with huge responsibility. It is not my achievement that I found myself in a privileged place like that, though I could feel superior to others. I viewed it simply in terms that I was extremely lucky to be born with such amazing brain function. So I should make some use of this and make a difference in the world. But how?

Since I liked my work as a disability coordinator and my students liked it too, I decided that after my graduation, I should do something and gain real expertise, because my undergraduate studies were a joke (with all the respect towards the library&information profession which I really admire and feel sympathetic towards, but it was not challenging enough for me). So I was admitted to doctoral degree in education, which was quite daring, because I switched profession and academic fields completely and this meant double or tripple work to catch up with others. I couldn’t afford to pay for the PhD of course, but somehow managed to get in the top 5% of the student population to obtain an EU scholarship that paid for my tuition as well as for my living expenses. It was smply meant to be. During my PhD I got an opportunity to go on a research study visit abroad. I chose United Kingdom and was supposed to stay there for half a year. Instead I stayed a year and a half and now call UK my second home. Solution Focused Brief Therapy found me while being there and it felt like coming home. It was love at first sight and I knew I found exactly what I’ve been waiting for and I was a good asset for it as well. This was exactly what I needed in order to be able to help others achieve their aspirations – it works, it is brief and it is in alignment with my personal values. The Solution Focused community soon recognized my efforts and my activities caught the eyes of many, so I won the award that enabled me intensive Solution Focused training in the USA in 2014. The year 2014 was a year of travelling and a year of intense studying. Have a look at blog index to read some notes about that, if interested.

So I came back from the UK and felt really energized. Couldn’t wait to pass this new knowledge to others and make a difference in their lives. I had it all – the tools, the expertise, motivation, passion … so I opened the Ribalon Institute as the first Solution Focused institution in Slovenia in February 2015. Since then, my work has gradually been gaining impact and recognition. People in my workshops and trainings often claim, these are the best workshops/trainings they’ve ever been to. And I feel for them, because that’s exactly how I felt when I first encountered Solution Focused Approach. In april 2015 I finished my training with BRIEF, which is the largest institution providing SF training in Europe and also one with the longest tradition. As a cherry on top, BRIEF sponsored my attendance at the European Brief Therapy Association annual conference in Vienna in September 2015. From there I got an invitation to host a masterclass at the next EU conference in Brugges in 2016. I’m currently the first certified Solution Focused practitioner in Slovenia. So (un)fortunately once again, I couldn’t stay in the shadows, quietly as an observer, as someone/something had other plans for me.

My life is a story and stories are better than theories, because people learn better by telling stories rather than talking theories. I met many people whose life stories were amazing and I’m really grateful, life has brought me so many lessons. My humble opinion about the whole story is, that I couldn’t possibly ask for anything more, but to be able to spend my life the way I like it the most – making a positive difference in other people’s lives, doing things I want to do and leaving this Earth a bit nicer place because of that. I still believe I’m nothing special. Hence if I managed to “recover straight up from the ashes”, why wouldn’t others also be able to do it as well. Why wouldn’t you be able to do it? Also, I’m now slowly accepting that life has ascribed me a different position and I’m getting used to obviously being a leader and not a follower. Also, I would like to create leaders, not followers. So it would be an honour for me to meet you and offer you a little bit of this joy and flow as well.

With love and from life,

Biba

moja Biba

May I Present to You …

A Certified Solution Focused Practitioner! I recently came back from England and brought an important paper in my pocket. My first part of solution focused training is behind me and I’m now officially fully qualified to pursue Solution Focused Practice.

The difference for me is rather minor, but it makes huge difference when I present my work and qualification to others. Clients usually don’t mind as well, they are more interested in the outcomes. However other practitioners of all kinds are VERY interested. And I think this is a good sign, they should be, because it does matter where you’ve been trained, by whom, how long and what the structure of your training was. You don’t want to be coached by someone who has only pursued a brief training on a weekend seminar, do you?

So for you dear fellow workers, who are in the helping professions and others who are interested, here’s what my training so far looked like:

Prior to entering the Solution Focused training, I was already engaged in working with students. Counselling and help has been offered through the university tutor system and I was the head of tutors for students with disabilities. I’ve been doing it for 8 years and have been granted two faculty awards for my work.

As I’ve told you in a past post, a miracle has happened and SF found me. My training at BRIEF (London, United Kingdom) has lasted from March 2014 until April 2015. Though I haven’t been in London the whole time, meanwhile I’ve participated in European Brief Therapy Association Conference 2014 in the Netherlands, Solution Focused Brief Therapy Association of America’s 2014 conference and additional training (not included in my primary training at BRIEF) and SOL CEE Conference 2015 in Hungary. And I was at home, working with my clients.

In total, so far I’ve experienced more than 150 hours of intensive training in Solution Focused Practice, about 30 hours of supervision and more than 120 hours with clients (only individual clients are included in the number, not the workshops). I’ve been really lucky to be trained or coached by the world’s famous Solution Focused Therapists and Coaches: Chris Iveson (my number one consultant and supervisor), Harvey Ratner, Evan George, dr. Peter De Jong, dr. Heather Fiske, dr. Harry Korman, dr. Janet Beavin Bavelas, Katalin Hankovszky Christiansen, Marco Matera, dr. Susanne Burgstaller, Hannes Couvreur and have sought consultation and guidance from dr. John Wheeler, dr. Mark Beyebach, Randa Fent, dr. Alasdair J. MacDonald, dr. Lance Taylor and Anne-Marie Wulf. I’m omitting the official titles other than PhD’s, because there are so many and I will probably make a mistake listing all of it. And because they made a difference to my life as people, not as doctors and specialists. What’s consisted a huge amount of my professional development was the EBTA, SFBTA and SOL World Community’s support. I had constant access to resources and immediate feedback from Solution Focused Practitioners whenever I needed one. My work has been recognized as meaningful, so the communities have enabled me to participate in training and conference in the US and in Hungary. I cannot find the right gratitude words to express what difference this has made to my professional standing, so I didn’t say it in words, but have showed it in action by opening the Ribalon Institute. All the above named and unnamed people have contributed to it.

What is coming next, is another year of extensive training for a Solution Focused Therapist and attendance in other Solution Focused events that currently I can’t tell how many will be. Anyhow, I believe I’ll be learning for life and in the end, my best teachers will be my clients. If things continue this way, you’ll be able to read about it as it happens.

It has been a long and arduous time and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

So my dear readers, proudly to present a marvellous journey that has escalated in a certificate paper. In case you’d ask.

porridge

Good and lasting results don’t come overnight. It takes time to be able to perform and produce something meaningful. Like a good porridge for example.

Miracles DO happen

Dear reader,

I can’t believe it’s February already. I’ve had a meeting today with the faculty leadership, because we need to establish our relationship in more details now that I’m opening my own institute. It was a heavy meeting, because we went through the same debates all over again that we already had in the summer (see the post Sorry I can’t deal with your situation). And at the same time this is good, because this project is really important to me and I’d like to set a clear and strong foundation so that there are less possibilities on conflicts later on.

Now I’ll tell you a miracle story. I’ve been to another conference. Yes, another. This one was a regional conference of Solution Focused coaches and practitioners in organizations (not therapeutic kind). As I’m an ambassador for Slovenia, I was also invited, but because I’ve been to USA and am dealing with my company, there was simply no way how I could financially manage to participate on this conference. The organizers tried very much and even offered me a place as their own scholar (with reduced fee) but even that wouldn’t work for me. So I didn’t think about it anymore, because there is no use to cry about something you cannot have and there will always be a next time. Hopefully.

Then one day an email came. Just two weeks prior to the conference. I was just at the study fair and saw it on my phone. Saying they don’t want to mess with my plans and decision, but they got a scholarship offer to cover the expenses, so that I can participate. No pressure, just to let me know. I fell off my chair. This is clearly a sign, it could not be anything but a miracle. Of course I said yes. Yes yes yesssss!

Then the humoresque began. My husband has friends in Hungary and they wanted to meet. So we both went. Wanted to go by car, because M (my husband) had an urgent event he had to participate and that would mean me driving the whole night so that we can be in Budapest the morning after, when the conference starts. I was ok with that, only the weather wasn’t. It was supposed to be heavy snow with red alarm, so we had to choose a different option. I went on a night bus. It was a bus from France to Romania and you can imagine that the inside looked like a circus. And yet cosy and warm. We were supposed to arrive to Budapest at 6am, but we were there already at 3.30. There were no cabs and I had no idea how to call them, because for some reason my phone decided not to cooperate. Luckily there were some guys (the only people alive at 3.30 am) and they called the taxi for me. And then it was sunny the whole time without a single snowflake!

The conference was a huge success. I didn’t know anyone and yet it felt like home. I’ve soon enough met some crazy guys that were as crazy as me and we prepared a piece for the cabaret and made the whole group laugh. And I spontaneously gave my SOL talk and invited people to join my EU project. Caught much much interest! And learned many new friends who do amazing things. Then the last day T., a very interesting and friendly guy came and said he must talk to me. When we found a cosy place right after lunch he asked whether I know anything about basketball. I said yes, I know it’s about tall guys and an orange ball. Then he told me about the European championship, league and these frameworks. Described a team that participated as a novice at the EU challenge. The team won 3 matches and lost 3 and yet was declared to be the best debut team of the championship. Then he said that I’m like that basketball team. That he’s been at the SOL conferences for the last 7 years and he’s never met anyone like me – to appear for the first time, have a performance at the banquet and give SOL talk. I was flattered. Then as a reward I gave him some ballet lessons. It was just hilarious for the others and he was a very talented and promising student. Only my stomach was full and I began to think that I’m getting too old for this.

Miracles definitely happen!

freedom

I found support in Budapest. Thank you so much!!!

A Word about Support

Dear reader,

in case you ever worry about whether you’ll make it and what would happen if you fail, you’re not alone. It’s a human thing to worry and to think through all possible negative things that could happen as well as constantly asking yourself questions what if things go wrong.

How many times have you experienced complete failure? I mean really complete, absolute, total? That nobody was there, that nobody helped you, lifted you up, not even you yourself? If the answer is yes, think again. How come you survived? Even with all that struggle? That alone shows great strength already …

I’ve been in doubts many times. Some stories about it I’ve told you in my previous posts. Today, dear reader, let’s not ask what if things go wrong, instead let’s ask what it they go right. I’ll tell you about my fairy from the sky. She came totally unexpected and made my path a bit easier. I’ve met her at the American conference (the one with the long walk from the airport, remember?). She was at the preconference workshop and I don’t know what I did or didn’t do, anyway, we ended up having a conversation (but so does everybody at events like that). The next day she came and asked me to write my home address. I thought why not, she might want to come to my country and it’s a wise thing to have the address of someone you know. Then I returned home to Europe and life went on.

One day, an email came with good wishes for 2015. And then another one. It wrote (short version):

Your enthusiasm about SF is so refreshing to see. For now I just want to say that a small package went by mail this morning that you should receive within 2 weeks. It contains some SF articles for your perusal & enjoyment I hope. I will select a few books and send them to you in the next few weeks. All the best,

I was shocked. Why on Earth would someone bother to send a package of precious materials to such a distant destination. Why making extra efforts and work? What’s in it for her? Then I realized this is not the first time something like that has happened to me. People have made a great diference in my life by offering me support, help, advice, material, opportunity, a kind word, whatever I needed in a certain period of time. I didn’t ask and they came anyway. And they gave me a little part of them that helped me grow. So suddenly an African proverb totally makes sense: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

airmail

My fairy has sent me a present over sky.

So another email came:

A small package of books was sent this morning and I am told it should take up to 6 weeks to receive them.  They include authors you have met at the conference. Thorana Nelson and Frank Thomas, Joel Simons, Teri Pichot, Heather Fiske, Fredrike Bannink & maybe one other.  I hope you make good use of them. Really enjoy your posts on FB they always carry a sweet & powerful message in them. Have a great 2015 friend,

So the package came in today. With all these precious articles. I view this as a sign that:

a) support always comes when you need it, even though you might not expect it

b) I have a huge responsibility to pass this on by helping someone else.

Or maybe this has happened because I did something like that for someone one day and don’t even realize it? So this now is my turn? Karma?

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A Word About Trust

Dear reader,

Is it easy to trust? Do you sometimes feel that you should and could trust someone or something, but under certain conditions, like be aware even though you trust and at the same time make your own assumptions, just in case something unexpected might happen? You know – not to be disappointed if it doesn’t work out?

Trust is simple. And because it is simple in theory, it is tremendously difficult in practice. I’ve seen several clients this week and some of them were already in their following sessions. It was only natural of course that a question of effect has come in sight. I always try to do a good job, believing if you decide to do it, do it well or if you cannot do it the best way it can be done, drop it or don’t even go there if you are not going to do it properly. Perfectionism?

Since I’m a beginner, I do not have many reference points to take refuge in, so I’m working in the dark. I have several clients whose best hopes are finding motivation and energy to finish their studies or prepare for their exams (it is currently the exam period at our university). So we do “At your best” scenarios in order to create possible context and hence add to possible behaviour patterns. I had no idea whether what we did has been useful for them, and one day, sitting in front of my laptop, I so much wished I could read/watch some similar session from experienced SF therapist so I could see if I’m moving in the right direction. It was only a brief thought and then I had other stuff to do.

Also later that day, I did some reflection and wondered whether others doing Brief Therapy encounter the same dilemmas as I do or am I just wandering in a fog, because I’m alone in this. Quietly asked for some sign that would tell me where I was and whether I’m moving or just standing. The sign came to me in a form of transcribed “At your best” session I accidentally found when browsing the internet. And another one, an interview with a well-respected therapist confirming I was not alone. The article in a book The Art of Solution Focused Therapy (2009) confirmed that others had similar or same dilemmas as I currently have and that this is part of making progress. It may sound banal, but it’s not, because I found it now, not before, and I needed it now. I realized I had to give up the struggle and all the stress fearing something might go wrong. Instead I had to let go of worries and welcome the signs, trusting they will come. And they did.

Then I remembered I’ve done this before – let go and trust. By letting go I don’t mean that you don’t have to do anything, quite the opposite, you are very active! What you let go is the worry of HOW you are going to make/do it. You trust that the path will emerge itself. And it does if you trust. I’m not sure if this can be learned, but it certainly is possible (even though I still constantly fall out of this state and begin to struggle and doubt again and again). Several years ago as my husband and I were considering getting a new car, because our old one was in its last bits of being alive. I don’t care much about cars, but I’ve always favoured Peugeot 206 (old model). I trusted this will be my dream car one day, it was just the fact. I was not bothered why and how at all. We got an orange one and didn’t even look for it very much, so I’m proudly driving my dream car now and it is indeed a really nice car. Silly I know, but let a child have some fun.

Another story, happened about one year later in 2011: I was in the last stage of writing my diploma thesis. Those of you who’ve done it know, it is hard work and takes much time and efforts. I was no different. I was writing my thesis for 9 months, and it was a fine piece of work that was later awarded with the highest prize for academic achievements at my university. But during the process of writing of course I thought it is going nowhere and it is taking forever and I just want this to be over … blabla. Then, realising I was almost there and finishing it will mean a certain breaking point in my life, as it will mean that the period of my student life will come to an end (I didn’t even think about continuing studying on doctoral level), I should reward myself with something I’ll remember for good. And since the reward will be meaningful, I should put myself together and finish my work in a way that it will justify the award. As a child I wanted to play a piano and even learned to play it myself, but my family couldn’t afford it and I refused to have the electric one, because it’s just not real sound, so I played violin, as I’ve told you before. But the dream remained, and as a child I promised myself that one day I’ll have a piano, a grand piano.

So maybe the time was right for this dream to come true. But you know, these things cost a fortune and it is really difficult to find the right one (the instrument finds you, not any instrument will do, but it has to be “yours” and has to feel like a part of you – to complete you. I trusted it will be there when I finish my thesis. How and what and when exactly was left to the process. So when the time was right we found a maestro who had it custom made for me. I can remember as if it were yesterday when I first played it, it was still in maestro’s workshop and the piano didn’t even have the cover and all. I knew he was mine the moment my fingers touched his keyboard. It has a really warm and gentle sound, I wouldn’t trade it for any other piano in the world. The thing is, by sharing these two stories I remembered I’ve trusted before and sort of miracles have happened.

Guess when you make a wish and the wish is right for you and you really want this with pure intentions, it will happen in the way that is right for you. I know this may sound like a pink fairy tale, I’m sorry for that. It may be so, but the ugly truth is, that this moments are rare and it is really difficult to let go. But it can be done. So today I trust my work that it will do good, because my intentions are pure and I’m really curious about the solutions my clients will come up with. But I have absolutely no intention to do this instead of them or to have any doubts in their abilities, because they can do it way better than anyone else.

sulci

The photo was taken on the day the piano came to us and moved in. I remember playing till 3 o’clock in that morning.