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torstai 24. elokuuta 2017

Learning a new language

Just a note from my journal, something a friend made me to think about when it comes to personal growth. I am just finishing summer courses in Swedish so perhaps therefore I also came to think about the following: 

“I wonder if it is possible to draw a parallel between personal growth and learning a new language - or learning a new word in a foreign language. I think there is something similar in them. Both processes are more complex than we would think, more than just a definition in a dictionary we need to memorize - and we need to be merciful towards ourselves and others. 

First you learn to understand a word, you hear it and you read it, look it up and memorize it. Then you can start using it step by step, but it can take a lot of time to get it right, to really own a word, to grow. The different meanings and how a word is used in different contexts compared to your mother tongue, what you have learned as a child, can sometimes be tricky to learn and there is a different way of seeing behind (each language) which you need to start understanding. I guess the only thing you can do is to have the courage to make enough many mistakes before you start owning a word. And perhaps therefore it takes time to any of the life’s wisdom's to reach from the mind into heart and personal growth is so demanding. 

Sometimes we also face tremendous words in life which make us fear and to feel insecure. Many times have I asked myself that do I have the capacity to handle something or shall I just give up. Like the Finnish-Swedish word barnträdgårdslärare, kindergarten teacher, which many of my adult students have had to face this summer in order to be able to tell about their profession. I tell them to tackle it step by step: barn – trädgårds – lärare and it is okay to use words like dagislärare or the Swedish-Swedish word förskolelärare instead when learning. You can always find a way around and does it really matter if you pronounce/write a word incorrectly, if some letters are missing. You’ll still be understood and get the confidence to try again and again and master it later. And just a side note. I have always been very fond of this word, kindergarten teacher, and seeing children as flowers we need to nourish the best way so that they can then bloom, all different and together make a garden.  

And of course, some words you never seem to learn. Or you easily mix them with other words like the Swedish words ganska and kanske, just like it can be easy to mix for example pleasing and giving from the heart. We learn with time and some words we just simply forget. Exactly as our psyche has its limitations when it comes to growth. I also tend to say to students at the end of each course that remember to be proud of every word you have learned. You have worked for it, it is your capital. Obviously it is then a task in itself to put the new words together and use in the sentences you master from before and to make the sentences fuller - and whole - with time. And both in learning a language and personal growth, we need others, as mirrors. And when it is time for one of the many exams in life, I hope we always try to look at what we have learned and what we can, not what we can’t. We are always enough with our imperfect vocabularies." 

Perhaps I tried to explain personal growth, and the hardships co-dependencies and other issues some of us have to go through in life through another phenomenon, more common for all of us. Metaphors are used to explain more complicated matters with something we all can relate to. For example in politics we often see metaphorical language, negotiations are seen as a war or as a game, EU and other international organizations are seen as a family and so on. If you are more of an analytical mind perhaps you think that whatever it is in life, just deal with it. In my own experience I haven't found it to be such a straight forward way though. I haven’t thought this text through in every point, but perhaps the thinking behind holds well enough so I put it out here just in case there is something useful for anyone. 

I also have body parts for a new crocheted critter on my work table waiting for assembling, so crochet coming as well :-). 


maanantai 31. heinäkuuta 2017

Good luck symbols and a few words to live by

The other day I happened to click a following title on one of the Finnish radio stations websites: “What is your horoscope sign obsessed about?” According the article, my sign has a serious obsession with number 7. Touché. It is my lucky number and I had just finished this second knitted bag and as you look at the pattern and the amount of stitches below, well ... Here is a short pattern description as well for my "Lucky Number Seven -bag", in case someone would be interested.

2 kg = about 540 meters Lilli Ribbon Yarn from Filatex (or for example some other ribbon yarn/yarn)

Circular needle, 12 mm with 80 cm cable

approximately 50 cm x 60 cm

Cast on 70 stitches. Work in round.  K = knit. This bag is knitted from the bottom up. There are many instructions on YouTube to make the stripes even when changing color if needed.

*K 7 rounds with blue, K 7 rounds with white*, repeat *-* 3 more time (7 stripes + 7 rounds white = 50 rounds).

During the 8th round of the upper part (with white) make handles. K 12 stitches, end 11 stitches, K 24 stitches, end 11 stitches, K 12 stitches. During the 9th round, cast on 11 stitches x 2 to replace the stitches ended during the previous round. Knit 5 more rounds, or as much yarn you have left and end all stitches and weave in the ends during the 6th round (=58 rounds).

Crochet the bottom seam together with slip stitches and weave in the ends.  

Couch has got and extra mattress as well, made of two old mattresses. Have to work with the cover yet though. Perhaps I will take the other mattress away, but this is the very first version I show here and a work in progress. This couch is over 10 years old and I have already talked with a charity organisation to take it when they were picking up some other old furniture from my home. Now with this new cover I think I will be happy with the couch for a while and the color code seems to be good for autumn time. At least it is cozy for some crochet time and there is a splendid view outside when sitting in the other corner with a cup of coffee or tea in hand.

I also stitched a tiny semamori in one of the corners of the mattress. Semamori is a Japanese good luck symbol, these were stitched on the back of children’s kimonos to protect them from harm. I guess this is now protecting the derrières of the people sitting on this couch, just some everyday silliness. Of course there is also a rich history behind these symbols and it is not to joke about.

Here are two fragments from my journals, to end up this month with. A couple of words I find to be central for us makers, creatives and humans. I try to cultivate these words in my profession as well. The words are childlike and creativity. These are also words I think we adults don’t always understand. And it is the language teacher in me that likes to think about the meaning of the words. These are not ready thoughts, just me wondering and pondering and here we go: 

“I try to be childLIKE as often as possible. And there is nothing childISH in that (I guess I learned this from Liz Gilbert). There is a big difference here, and I guess we often mix and misunderstand them. I like people who are childlike, you usually recognize them in their eyes. There is a curiosity and playfulness in them, and it can disappear if you don’t take care of it. I think word childlike must be the word which will always keep us alive inside.”

I Also remember from my teacher studies the following famous quote by Finnish philosopher Esa Saarinen: 

“There are lots of people who give their all and have that inner glow on. It's a shame that majority of them are under seven years old.” 

And then there is the word creativity I have also been thinking about. 

“They say it is devious pact - when you struggle, you usually have your most creative periods in life. I rather think it is the opposite. Creativity is a force given to us, a force which will always take us to the other side, no matter what we have going on in our lives. And so often you hear the following sentence: “You have that creativity in you”. We all have that force waiting for us inside. Creativity is about surrendering to the process, never about the outcome, which all the wonderful wips in the closet prove as well ;-). Unfinished creative projects serve an important purpose even though not being useful or used. They tell about moments spent well, when you feel excited about a new project, those childlike moments – even though you just then didn’t have the patience to work your way through the creative U-curve you need to tackle with in every project. Skill is then a different thing, it develops with time if you keep on practicing and develop your resilience. There is the magical number of working with something for 10 000 hours and then your master the skill – and not always even then do we master something professionally (but it doesn't prevent us from enjoying the skill). And creativity is never about the comparison, outside expectations or our expectations towards ourselves. It exist outside time and deadlines. And here within lies the power and the therapeutic nature of creativity. It is so often the opposite to what we are told and taught to: have to do, should do and what we aim for in our busy daily lives. 

And perhaps a creative project becomes art when it touches someone else.” 

I have also been reading two books this summer, which I can recommend. Perhaps the titles already reveal some new words I have started defining in my life. The other one is Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking. This book needs to be read slowly, it is full of life and wisdom. There is for example the following sentence which has been on my mind lately: “Än gör det inte ont nog”, It doesn’t hurt enough yet (I read the book in Swedish). It usually is so, our reptile brains keep us in safety and comfortable situations and the change occurs when staying in the same place hurts more than the change. Earlier this summer I also loaned a book called You are a Badass by Jen Sincero from the local library. It was uncomfortable to read, so I need to buy it for myself. And I must admit I rather hope to be “a goodass” (and also having a good ass would be nice, but let us just write the words together). 

I think I leave this text here now, a mixture of this and that. Hopefully with a hint of smile on your face and wish a lovely month of August!