You were born to count the stars PART 1

A Touch of sLOVEnia broadcasting internationally.

A youth exchange in an organic farm, somewhere far away from factories and shopping malls. About 25 people from all over Europe. And my very first time as a trainer in a setting as such.

Dear reader,

all you really need is not a great pair of shoes. I just came back from the above event and as I’m going through the photos and am trying to organize memories. I feel the time is right to share with you what’s up.

This youth exchange was something beyond special. It was an opportunity to stop time, unplug wifi, forget the phone charger and throw makeup into a trash. As always, at the beginning when I have a group to lead and a message to deliver, I get a bit nervous. But not this negative nervousness, but more of an excited one. I was worried whether the group members would understand the message and whether they would have it difficult adapting and simplifying their way of life for the time being at this exchange. Besides solar showers and compost toilets, there was also very strict non alcohol and drug policy as well as vegetarian food.  Not everybody is able adapt to this, yet alone to understand what to do and how to spend the time instead of browsing and tweeting. Will the group of people who don’t know most of the others and are aged between 16-25 be able to manage?

This group managed and they managed the first day already. The energy we created was so inspiring and I think they (and hope) learned soooo much in such a short period of time. For example, take an exercise: you get a certain social role assigned and you have to place yourself up the scale according to what the facilitator asks. Questions like “can you vote, are you able to bring your friends over for dinner, are your children going to be safe in the future, can you afford to buy new clothes every 3 months”, etc. etc. Each member had a different role. And as we climbed up the scale, many were left behind and some were progressing forward. In the debriefing phase we discussed about this. And people who were way in front (privileged) noticed that none of them was there because of their own efforts. Maybe it was a rich daddy’s influence, maybe a political party they belonged to or maybe they were children of successful traders. But none of them was privileged because of their own work.

It touched us deeply. As we shared the emotions in the end, a girl who was among “well off” members said, she was disappointed. And she was right. Society isn’t just. And the position we are in, has most of the time nothing to do with our work or efforts. Equal opportunities suddenly gain importance and at the same time become a vague concept.

Anyhow, this was just to illustrate about the group’s maturity.

I’m sitting in front of this stupidd screen now. And am going through what has happened in the 3 days we’ve been together. The exchange isn’t over yet, just I had to leave because I have some other obligations to fulfill. So I think right now the group is having dinner and is hopefully checking their “gossip box”. I hope they will find something nice in there.

More to follow …

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Mandala of trust, understanding, respect and love.

Blackberry Kiss

Fancy blackberries? Me too. Fruit is my favourite food and I’m a very lucky person in summer, because there’s plenty of it.

Being a child of nature, always picking fruit from bushes or trees or whatever, I still as an adult keep this habit as my one time favourite to acquire desired delicious pieces. And for several weeks now, I steadily pick our blackberry bushes every morning for our breakfast.

But guess what. Our BB bushes grow steep up the hill. Not far, but very steep. Second, as I’m clearly not the only blackberry fan around here, there are many other delegates, such as wasps. Third, blackberries have thorns. Not thorns like roses, but teeny tiny thorns that you can hardly see, but are a curse if you get wraped. The more you resist, the more they come at you and wedge you. Seriously, it’s like a trap, it gets to you slowly, but thoroughly, and neither your clothes, nor your skin are safe.

Our bushes seemed to have won quite many battles and I got scars, but still won a prize, regarding our breakfast cereal bowls. Then after a while back and forth, strange things began to happen. Bushes started talking to me. One day, I was climbing my way up to the battle field and suddenly I didn’t try to scare the wasps away. I just joined and while they were upset for a moment, the next one they let me merge with them. Not even one wasp would attack me, but I had to be really slow and in a peaceful mood. Then I started to pick the berries. The bush whispered. It was very early in the morning and not even the sun was up. The bush and wasps and me. Communicating. Getting to really know each other. Learning how to co-exist in a way that is right for all of us. I realized that I have to take it real slow. With gentle moves. With absolute calm, no rush, no hurry. No thoughts, just trying to go along the frequence that was already there. It worked. I realized that going slow and staying on the surface provided me with great strength and I could achieve my goal without getting wounded.

I wondered if I could transfer this lesson from the nature into human relationships.

It turned out I can. I have an acquaintance who is a big complainer about everything and everybody. Since he knows I’m in the helping profession and am trained to help people deal with difficult situations, he uses every opportunity to brings his complaints to me. But when I ask him if he would like to work with me, he refuses and says he has no problems to resolve. So eventually, I got irritated to be the doormat ready to listen to his complaints and not to make any use of it. I’m a person who doesn’t like to perform meaningless actions that lead nowhere. And just because somebody else does, doesn’t mean I need to be involved.

The next time he came, I was ready. I was the blackberry bush. I didn’t interrupt him or ask questions. I was thinking how I could wrap him around gently, yet still keeping his attention and point to a direction where he would begin to think about his behaviour in a different way. So I just waited until he finished what he had to say for that day and then replied with:

I’m really impressed how you manage to devote so much of your time and energy for others. I think that you care a great deal and am wondering what do you think how they might respond, should they know about you caring so much?

It was not a question, just a plain, genuine compliment. He looked at me for a while, trying to translate my words and then he said:

Gee. You know, I never thought of that from this perspective. I don’t know. I need to think.

I saw him again two days after our last conversation. He approached me, as usual, but now told me everything about what others did that he liked. He was still talking much, but instead of complaining, he was proudly announcing all the good things he had noticed in others.

I love Blackberries.

berry bowl

Blackberries are leading from behind – hidden under raspberries and blueberries. The best way to lead, is leading from behind.