I’ve just had the best conversation of my life

Dear reader,

thank you for your patience. You had to wait quite a while for this post. I’ve got so much going on in so many different fields that I find it challenging to keep up with everything. I have been doing lots of clinical work. Had delivered Solution Focused training in Slovenia. Just finished a 5-day training for European Voluntary Service volunteers. Will be doing lots of facilitation of various small or large scale events in the upcoming week. And then back to London. Not to mention writing articles, doing research analysis, selecting coworkers for our upcoming 3-year project, etc. Sometimes I think it’s way too much for just one person.

Many people would say the most meaningful learning and AHA moments happen out of your comfort zone and are accompanied with stress, discomfort, perhaps even a crisis and pain. I’ve got no opinion on this, but I do have a very recent experience that I’d like to share with you.

I nearly experienced a crisis yesterday. Something happened that completely removed the ground from my feet and I found myself in a situation where I felt angry, hurt, crushed and above all, terribly disappointed in somebody. I was working, had been away from home for several days. The training had been successful and going well, though it required lots of energy, flexibility and trust. I am generally always good at maintaining balance while working. Not so much if something happens to me personally. That crisis had nothing to do with my work, but it happened while I was working, in the middle of the day. And it had to do with something somebody else had done or hadn’t and should have. At least in my opinion.

So we closed the day. Nobody noticed. I went up into my room. Hotel rooms (single ones) can be devastating. I had about 30 minutes of spare time before the final party. And I felt this extreme tension, caused by the action of this another person that triggered my crisis. I sat on the floor next to my phone charger and wrote a message to one of my most precious people with whom we were to meet in Skype on that day, but he sort of stood me up and hurt me some more. He did not respond, which added to my irritation and the sense of imbalance. I felt so abandoned. And lonely, even though I had been immensely successful and efficient at my work only an hour ago.

I went into the bathroom. There was nothing to do there. I searched my bags and found some food and snacks. Was just about to open that chocolate bar without any reflection or mindfulness. And for some reason I didn’t. Then I saw a bottle of wine I bought earlier in the day for our evening party. I went back to the bathroom and searched for a glass. I opened the bottle, poured myself a glass and sat on the floor again. It must have looked pretty miserable, being alone in a hotel room, sitting on the floor drinking wine in sorrow, listening to some pathetic music. No wonder people commit suicide in moments like this one.

After the second glug of wine I took a deep breath. And another one. Then I changed the music. And then something magical happened. My thoughts started leaving my head. One by one. Until there were no more thoughts. I’ve no idea how long this no-thought mode lasted, and what happened next was the best conversation I ever had. A conversation inside my head. For the first time, I spoke nothing but kindly to myself.

I opened my eyes. And I smiled. It was such a pure and natural thing to do. And then I realised:

I don’t need anybody. All I need is already here.

This has never happened to me before. It was a moment of supreme balance, imperfect perfection and beauty. I felt so strong. And for the first time, I realised that no matter what happens:

I will be fine.

I’m sure that wine glug made a contribution. But I was not drunk, far from it, my head was crystal clear and I felt at peace. So I got up, went into the bathroom, brushed my hair, left my room and joined the party in my brilliance. And had a very nice evening afterwards.

I am certain life will bring numerous situations where people will hurt me, deliberately or not. I am 100% positive that there will be challenges bigger than I will be able to handle. And from now on I also know that there is an enormous force and strength in me with which no matter what happens:

I will be fine.

Love, Biba


Stronger. Together.


Slovenians Rock!

Dear reader,

when I was 13, I ran away from home. I was a huge rebellion and my family had it tough with me, especially my mom (love you mom!). I hated my town where I had spent my childhood and elementary school and I couldn’t wait to move to the big city. Eventually, even Ljubljana became too small. But in the meantime, I grew out of puberty, fortunately.

Now living across different countries in Europe and constantly on the road, I began to love my small city of childhood. I am proud to have grown up in a besieged working class town together with ex-Yugoslavian refugees from the 1990’s war. And yesterday I hosted two workshops there. It’s much fun coming back, not having the slightest accent and not knowing anyone, yet I felt like coming home.

Let me tell you a bit about this town and region. It isn’t rich. In Slovenia, pretty much everything outside Ljubljana is considered undeveloped. And Ljubljana on its own is not more than a big village. Not much’s going on. People lacking jobs, cultural life, social life activities (weekend getting drunk parties excluded of course), etc. There are fewer opportunities, especially for young people. And people feel this. They are not happy about it, but not much they can do. Or they don’t recognise the injustices in wealth and other goods distribution, and are falling in despair anyhow.

And in the middle of such an environment and mindset, there happen to be two organisations. That make a difference. Young people have joined their forces together and launched a co-working space. They are fostering entrepreneurship, active citizenship and engaging individuals into a sharing community.

I had a privilege to meet some of their members yesterday. I saw dedicated, kind and resourceful individuals who are trying to survive, to fight and to enjoy their lives. They were full of passion, energy, enthusiasm and ideas as we had discussion around Solution Focused questions. They were collaborative. Great listeners. Great people to talk to. Amazing creative spirits. With crazily stunning ongoing projects. I was so impressed and proud of their achievements as well as genuinely happy that they were not among those who are trying to find a way to either steal from common good or escape abroad. They were there. Standing strong. Having it difficult of course and constantly questioning how to survive. And they were managing, somehow, by doing something right.

I observed some of their conversations after the workshops. They were really kind to each other and honest. They asked me why I came to work with them all the way from London and not charging them to do that. Isn’t it obvious? Because it was most rewarding to be able to support a growing community that wants to make a difference in their local environments. I like working with engaging, kind people. Somehow, I  always have a privilege to meet such people.

This blog has about 3,000 international readers (you are awesome and you know it). If you ever have a chance to work with a Slovenian, you most likely won’t be disappointed. They might be a bit slow and cold at first, but once opened up, they will deliver results. And won’t praise themselves for it. They work, work, work hard, until they drop. And if in supporting environments, they generate awesome ideas, supported by strong arguments.

So honestly, Slovenians rock. I know I will spend my old days in this country. Because I love and believe in its people. Because it’s my home.



Unlocking people’s potential – priceless.

I was faking it

Dear reader,

it will soon be three years since I first went to study in England. Another three months will have to pass and it will be three years since I first saw Solution Focused Approach in action. I am still amazed. But I know one thing now:

I was faking it.

I was faking my skills, my knowledge and my competencies. Three years after, I know that

I don’t know anything anymore.

Talking about Solution Focus is very different to doing Solution Focus. And I think until now I was only talking about it and not really doing it. My departure to the UK this September has left me blank, confused, doubtful and modest.

I’ve been such a narcissistic lazy egocentric. This is to confirm that talking about your skills won’t make you skilful and talking about excellency won’t make you excellent.

So I am starting over … I have lost some of my shine or pride and have stepped aside one or several steps down to bow to my ignorance and the greatness of proficient SF practitioners.

Now I have truly realised what it means that Solution Focused Approach is simple, but far from easy. It is not difficult to learn it, yet it takes hours, maybe even years to practice before one can say one knows what they are doing. Maybe knowing and understanding is beyond our horizon anyways. My teacher said that once I will figure out what I am doing, I should start doing something else. He is right of course, yet my limited capacity understands his wise word with huge delays.

So I am cutting down now and trying to eliminate everything that distracts my focus. I am eager to learn. And I suspect I will probably never understand. Yet I still want to master SF one day. If this is to happen, it will happen from a modest position, not a glorious one. So I could very much use your help if you want to go on this journey with me. Let us practice, let us make mistakes, let us learn together. Contact me and practice with me – let’s experience and discover Solution Focused magic together! Step by step.



I have more questions than I will ever have the answers to …

How to make a Win-Win situation out of conflict

Dear reader,

Do you like church bells? Our street doesn’t. In fact, in the last half a year or so, most neighbours (including us) began to hate it. Our village church is a big proud heavy building and so are the church bells. Since we live in a valley beneath, the sound doubles or even triples. Moreover, since our Christian community lives a colourful and active life, they celebrate every special occasion with ecclesial music. In our view every 15 minutes, relatively.

The neighbours as usual and everywhere in the world talk a lot. Complain a lot. In addition, as soon as they find enough think-alike partners, the party begins. Especially, according to Slovenian stereotype, this is a rather typical Slovenian situation.

We wanted to do something about it. My husband started online conversation with our priest and the priest invited our whole community for a meeting that took place on Tuesday. I went along not because the bells would bother me (in fact I don’t care much about things like that), but more because I wanted to be there in case the group would fall too deep into conflict and argument and would need mediation. Also, I wanted to be a support for my husband in case he would get stuck with words.

The meeting started. There were about 25 people – about 7 bell ringers, the priest and the rest of us, angry neighbours. The priest invited my husband to start. My husband, ladies and gentlemen, is a natural talent when it comes to nonviolent communication. He’s also a master of natural solution-focused orientation. I had to go through a long training and hours of learning, but he manages it as a piece of cake. What he’s not so good at, is managing group dynamics in terms of deciding when enough is enough and how to break with a topic that’s leading nowhere and bring it to a topic that does. Since I was aware of this, it was rather easy for me to know what to do. If I knew the group dynamics, which I did not …

Things got heated up as the neighbours took over complaints and everybody wanted to state how much they are bothered, when and what the situation was as well as how bad it is. The priest and his team eventually started losing patience. As soon as this happens, there’s only one tiny step towards defence. From there, there is little chance of reaching consensus.

As it turns out, the priest and my husband (with my minor interventions as leading from behind) managed to start a discussion about the solutions. As a result, we will get some special window shutters by August 15th. How was it possible this happened and the whole group felt satisfied with the agreement? Because the leaders (the priest and my husband) agreed upon the following statements:

  1. We want to communicate
  2. We want to make a common improvement
  3. We don’t take things personally
  4. We understand the needs of the other
  5. We understand our own needs.

I only wished I could take a picture of before/after situation. A picture with red faces in the complaint phase and smiles in the conclusion phase.

As the meeting closed and we started to say goodbye, our close neighbour introduced me to the priest, saying I do some activities the priest might find interesting and valuable. This resulted in an offered space for our workshops and meetings! So dear reader, in the next newsletter if you are subscribed, you’ll find information about a new location!

yes mhh

Picture from cherry on the cake training (see previous blog post) that seemed to suit the conflict management situation

How to quit smoking and other easy stuff

Dear reader,

Most of us have at least one habit we’re not proud of. We would like to quit it, but can’t. In my language there’s an idiom similar to “old habits die hard” and trying to translate it literally, it goes something like “a habit is an iron shirt”.

Today’s Solution Focused story is about quitting smoking. My friend says it’s easy – she’s done it about a hundred times already. Although this sounds like an amazing achievement, all of you who’ve been smokers know it’s not really a compliment. Quitting once would do 🙂

In one of the past posts I told you I used to be a professional ballet dancer. Which correlates to smoking and coffee as two main nutrition courses. No kidding. So I’d say I used to be a smoker. Maybe not a regular one, but I’d smoke 10 cigarettes/day or more if there was a coffee meeting or a party (and I used to be quite outgoing when I was younger). For ummm maybe 10 years. Started in high school because one particular character in one particular novel that I really liked, smoked. So did I, in order to be a little bit like her (I hope I’ll remember this when my yet to be born kids are teenagers and will come up with nonsense like that!).

I never tried to quit because I liked smoking. Liked the company, the tiny pretty smoking tools, etc. Now I don’t really remember what it was, but it must have been something to keep me in the dusty arms. Cigarettes were a means to clear my head. That was the excuse at least, but in fact it was more of a “let’s just forget about the crap” and my head and thoughts were even more vague after one stick. After a while, the general public attitudes towards smokers have changed. We were not welcomed or allowed to smoke inside coffee shops. Or public places. Even the smokers eventually sensed the bad smell that comes from smoking in a non-smoking place. That’s when I first thought that what I do is somewhat humiliating. But it was not enough to be willing to quit.

Then my husband got ill. He had tumour cancer and things were very serious. Looking back now, he took the news way better than I did. I was a nervous wreck and as he was admitted to the hospital and I was not allowed to be with him, I remember sitting on our balcony for hours, thinking all sorts of thoughts, drinking water and smoking. A lot. I was so worried about him that couldn’t do anything but sitting in the balcony or watching some stupid TV series. Then one day, as I was still alone at home, I felt sick. It was a bit too much. Went to bed, felt asleep and as I woke up, I went out for a cigarette again. Then asked myself: “Why are you doing this to you, why do you torture yourself so much? You need to be fit and strong, so you could be useful and helpful to your husband when he returns. You need your body to rely on it when times will be rough. And there will be such times, you know that!”

I slowly took another inhale. Then turned off the cigarette. Then went in. Turned on the computer. Looked in google about the benefits of quitting smoking. There were many! It caught my interest, so I’d keep browsing. I found out my smell would improve. So would my skin. And teeth. And physical condition. So I really felt for the benefits and also explored the expected time it would take for them to occur. Then I read about how to quit smoking. It was all big words about a strong will, about how it is an addiction and how much struggle it causes, people get fat and stressed … it was not very appealing so I knew this wasn’t something that would work for me.

So then I said to myself: “Let’s not smoke today anymore, shall we? And let’s see what happens.” And I had a picture of my body and what will happen in it with nicotine withdrawal. First three hours, a day, a week and so on. What will the benefits be? The first day turned into a second one. So I repeated: “How about not smoking the second day and see what happens.” Again, looking for benefits and literally starting to feel them. And the second day was then a week. A second week. A third one. A month. Then I read somewhere that the first month was the hardest and from then it goes way easier. I was so happy I didn’t see this one before, because it would change my focus on the difficulties. But instead, I was only focusing on one day. Not in terms “DON’T SMOKE DON’T SMOKE” but more in terms of “let’s see what happens”. Gently. Calmly. And though it may seem my entire focus was on smoking, it was actually not. The main focus was on what I could do with saved time (and money) that my new experiment will bring along. And how to use that to prepare myself for the return of my husband.

As he returned, I gained two things: him back and myself back. As the days passed, I was more and more happy that I started this little experiment. And proud too. But still, it was just an experiment, it was no big plan, big deal and also I didn’t talk to anybody about that in terms of big announcement how I decided to stop smoking. As my friends began to notice, I said I’m not doing it anymore. For now. So they didn’t ask. I thought I’ll tell when I’m sure I can do it. It’s now more than 2 years since that last cigarette and I haven’t been tempted to smoke again. And still I didn’t tell anybody about that, but now I don’t feel the need to do so.

So eventually I stopped counting the days. I knew I didn’t have to. I stopped looking for benefits, because I had them and was happy. Some might be wondering what would happen if a crisis came. It is often the case that you return to your old habits if something terrible happens to you. I’m not excluding the option. It’s just that I don’t see smoking as an only option now. And the other options sound much better 🙂

To sum up: a plausible and manageable timeframe, focusing on benefits, doing what works and do more of it (like when I felt pekish, I’d drink lots and lots of water), imagining what would my life look like when smoking is not on stage anymore … worked for me.  I’m looking forward to hear about your experience!

ginko tree