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sunnuntai 9. heinäkuuta 2017

Patterns of Life

Two teardrops make a heart, an idea once occurred to me. Perhaps this pattern idea matches well together with the purifying nature of the text. 

Somehow energies this week have been very weird, but it has been a good time to do some creative writing. I sometimes write morning pages (Julia Cameron), sometimes I write some other time of the day. This is my creative project of the week, it is long and it has been healing to write down. I mentioned once before how I have been following Susannah Conway and her “word for the year” these last years with the theme quietness in 2015 and gentle living in 2016. The word for the year 2017 has been connection. And this is the most difficult theme so far for me who would rather hide myself and stay in the background. That is in my very core being. Therefore I thought to write this long text here, as honest as I today can, and where I am in my journey. And as a language enthusiast and teacher, words and writing seem to be my way of seeing and organizing thoughts.  

When I two years ago took the papers to Patent and registration office and started with Hilja Design I just thought: "Oh well, I start somewhere". I knew very well that there would be an inner work to be done first, but I didn’t quite know the magnitude of it. My mind was so full and so was my home that there was no space for anything new. The big questions I have been repeating to myself are what is it that I want to say as a maker and what is it this art of living. It is obvious now that the key question has rather been, who I am. When it comes to making I can try to see with my eyes and mind only - colors, proportions and patterns - but there is this deeper kind of seeing I have been practicing these last years, seeing with my heart. I have tried to see the patterns in my own life, to break free from old patterns and to try to create new ones. So inwards I have been going with curiosity, decluttering as well as my home as my mind and my heart, and wondering what is it that I am not seeing yet. Somehow home tends to be the direction I turn to when there is a need to work with myself. And whenever I create softness around me, anything is easier to tackle with and I say to myself: “Okay, I can’t figure out these things yet, but at least I can do this today.” 

There is of course also a lot of gratitude in having the possibility to turn inwards and spend time with oneself like I have done so much lately. I do believe though that it is our obligation to learn the song in our heart and then try to sing it for the benefit of others – no matter how small the song is, but it is our unique voice and the world needs more love, beauty, compassion, healing and authenticity which we all carry in our hearts. So, I try to sing my song now and here.

I am happy that the physical decluttering is quite well done now and I have released old feelings with them and created new habits. Otherwise I am not sure how far I have come so far in my pattern making, but lately some sort of new inner peace, calm and confidence have been evolving and bubbling inside and making me smile. These last couple of years have also been years of struggle and loss of direction. I have been working a lot, but I am not getting anywhere I feel, and don’t see the direction which would give me the energy to go that way. The energy levels have also physically been on the lower side as I wrote in the last post. I juggle between teaching and creative projects and haven’t been able to solve this equation in a satisfying way or how to somehow incorporate both. The struggle has been good though, perhaps during these years I have finally understood that the best way to measure success is to measure the amount of heart I manage to put into each day. Any previous success in work life has left me quite empty inside, it is different with the things I do nowadays, making, teaching and just living the everyday life. Of course I have known this wisdom, also coming from the tale of the Little Prince, but it can sometimes take a long time for the life’s wisdom's to travel from the mind into the heart, I have noticed. And one of the things I now tackle with is how much joy and happiness I can bare, so I need to adjust myself to it gradually. And if you wonder what on earth she is talking about, can’t stand happiness (?), perhaps I better explain myself what the battles of mine have been, key words being history and sensitivity.

There was this girl who believed that everything in her was wrong both on the inside and outside. That is what she was told to over and over again and no one was on her side except of a few loving eyes every now and then and acceptance she got in the outer world having a good memory and doing well at school. There were fights and too much alcohol and no space and support for her to grow and to become herself. Luckily she was curious and active. She was also very sensitive so it was all too easy for her to believe what was said about her and she took it all in, also the fears and shames of previous generations who had been wounded by the wars. Unfortunately they hadn't had much love in their lives so they didn't have much to pass on, so they are not to blame. So in order to survive, she had to hide her heart very carefully and therefore hide herself mostly in her mind and in those things in the outer world where she felt safe. Inner wisdom whispered to her ear though that one day she would break free and start finding herself if she just keeps on searching for answers. Perhaps it is the core in her, the inner child, which was luckily intact - or perhaps we just call it her heart, locked up for safety reasons. She has also been so stubborn that giving up has never been an option. The younger self looked for herself for example in history and in languages to find her voice which was silenced. Obviously the answer wasn’t in the outside world, but mastering languages gave her richness to her life and international encounters, new point of views, new things to wonder and because of that she doesn’t believe in simple truths. She gradually also found out that she was quite good at coming up with new ideas, imagination having been one of her safe places. She then used her ideas in different arenas and it felt good inside, bringing happiness to other people as well. Perhaps she can also see some of her growth here on the blog in many ways if she sometimes has the courage to take a closer look at the past and feel a bit proud of herself. So journey has been long in many ways, both at the skill level and with herself. She has every now and then been fearful to publish posts here, especially the little fairy tales told by the little girl inside in adult supervision, but a bit of fear is often good. It usually means we are opening up to life, opening up to love. 

Life teaches us all, and the lessons are not always gentle, she had to repeat the same harmful patterns she had inherited over and over again in her life. The amount of self-development she has done for years and years is huge, but it is easy to get entangled into the yarns of the old patterns still. Of course she has wondered why she has had to carry so much on her shoulders, so much need to heal and so much of it shouldn’t have been her job to tackle with. Perhaps it is exactly this she has had to learn, to carry only the things that are hers to carry in the first place, and let the others do their part. And there is a lot of love in that. We are all wandering around here with varying levels of self-awareness and ability to carry ourselves, seeking for connection, love, meaning and healing to our wounds and so often we don’t get it right. Life gets quite easy when we accept that pretty much everyone is doing their best and that we are only able to see in others what we see in ourselves. So when we talk about other people, let us be kind and wise because it always tells about us too. And it makes it easy to stop gossiping, blaming and shaming after that. Words can always build or destroy, but of course we can’t be too sensitive to every word said to us either (between adults), those often have nothing to do with us. What comes to the surface is so often different than what is inside each and one of us - and there are so many things to disturb us nowadays. Therefore her word of the year is connection. 

Perhaps she has also had to carry all this on her shoulders and just keep on looking inwards so that she can then tell about her journeys to others in different arenas and different ways, less and more direct, just like some of us make great journeys outwards during our lives. Perhaps some of us carry within us a message about humanity for humanity and some message about the world outside. Both types of people are needed and then we can come home and tell about the great adventures to each other. Or perhaps life has its different seasons and it is time for she/me to come out of this soft cocoon I’ve needed for healing and building myself again in a different way. Instead of using the pronoun “she”, go forward with the pronoun “I” in this text from now on. There is no other way to be free than by owning our stories, the opposite doesn’t work, stories owning us. 

This text is on the heavier side so it needs spaces to exhale. I didn't have any good enough pics on the camera roll than these cows taken in May. Perhaps these are just proper, cows have a good life attitude. This is also one of my places to exhale, a farm called Haltiala and the surroundings nearby. And if I someday have cows (you never know what life brings) I want the hairy Highlanders. We would match well together with our bangs.   

I guess we makers also know very well that no beautiful thing is perfect, not a handmade object nor a person. And we all start to show our beauty if and when we have had the fortune to be seen with loving and accepting eyes just as we are. For some of us this happens later in life, we can do a lot for ourselves and learn self-love and self-compassion, but we humans always need each other. Listening ears without any judgement and space to exhale, express ourselves without having to be afraid of saying or being or doing wrong. And then we can start to love others with real love and acceptance  -and the expressions, deeds and words etc. can also flow. In this point, there has been an old wound healing in me, I have of course encountered men to whom I haven’t been good enough or who think that I don’t seem to manage to do anything the right way. My childhood wound repeating itself. Perhaps I was looking for acceptance and got the other persons wounds and defenses back and there was a belief that my love was not so strong, even though it was just behind all the fear. I don’t know, that is not my story to tell. Luckily the wound is somewhere in the girl inside me, not in the woman I am today and the girl starts to be okay as well and what is left is love and acceptance. And perhaps there is someone special for whom the girl will always hold her hand open for if the boy will ever need it somehow. He has helped her to heal even though the lesson has been tough. The woman in her will only be there if there is a man to meet her. And just to explain my thinking here with a few more words, I believe that all the layers, all the years are alive inside all of us just like in trees. And if we are not aware of the layers, our story, then there is a minefield around us hurting others. 

Love also touches the parts within you where your deepest wounds are. And when they have been as deep as mine - and for my gratitude the love has been deep as well - the pain has been intolerable and I have lost my capability to act. So it is easier to look the other way. But that is also where the healing starts, gradually, and then you can break free. Step by step you start to feel yourself worthy and enough and can start standing tall and look people in the eyes just as you are. So therefore the inner journeys are also needed, to break down the barriers into authenticity and courage. Therefore it is true that mind training matters, but I think that heart training matters as well. In my case it has been the place I have needed to open up and when the heart is strong the mind starts to follow. I don't know, that is just my personal experience and way of thinking. 

Few are those people who can meet – I mean really be present – for all kinds of people, no matter where they are in their inner or outer journeys and they have that peaceful energy around them. I hope to become one. That is my aim. I have also started asking for the same kindness and treatment towards myself as I have given to others and therefore setting my boundaries right. And there I am somewhere in the middle of it all figuring out, this thing with human relationships of all kind, in a new way, with a new pattern. 

I have tried to thank people for their help, for their love and acceptance during my journey, but there are still many to thank for and it is always important to remember to thank. One being the craft community of course, this is such a warm-hearted community. One very big group are the adult students I have had the pleasure to walk together during the short journey we take with the Swedish language. This may come off as bragging, but all the little thank you notes from students during the last years have helped me in my rebuilding process, so I owe them a lot (hope to still keep my salary though if someone hears that the teaching goes the other way). Most of them work within the social sector so their words count more in my books. And perhaps it is one of life’s mysterious ways that even though I didn’t have any social workers helping me in my childhood, I have now encountered many and we encourage each other. Perhaps life always has a way to balance out everything if we have the ability to see. And seeing the students go bravely forward with the language they might not have talked for many years or even decades and all the work they put into the learning process and find stronger voices in Swedish is just such a joyful experience. I just hope I can help them the best way during their journey in learning a skill that is so nearly attached to our personalities as languages are, and therefore it can also be a delicate matter. Not learning the skill itself but the feelings behind and getting free of them so that learning can occur. There is something in here cooking inside me pedagogically, but I can’t quite reach to that part yet, and it is a matter to be discussed in another arena.

I know though that I am very much a #wip as Tif Fussell/Dottie Angel has so wonderfully said and I have no plans to graduate from the school of life for a long, long time. I still fight with self-worth, anxiety and fear every day. Luckily self-compassion, acceptance and laughter are my biggest allies and together we are powerful – and my yarn and linen storage is big too which helps of course as well. I think it is good to remember that our stories are always more about our strength than our weakness. Therefore I always try to push out a bit of joy and amusement and give that to others even though the inner feeling wouldn’t be that. And that is my biggest fault as well, not speaking when I should. I just easily get mixed up with everyone else’s feelings and thoughts that I need my time to go everything through thoroughly and find the right proportions and my thought errors in everything before I can speak. And because of my background, speaking up always takes more courage. I understand that for many more extroverted people this is weird.

When it comes to introversion and sensitivity, I find myself very much in the books and articles talking about them and they have been one source for self-knowledge and have given me tools. Bréne Brown is also one of my pick me ups if I get lost in somewhere in my thoughts. There is a sense of humor in her work which I like. I don’t much like categorizing anyone though, there are so many universes in all of us and we are free to choose to create our lives our own way. I must add though that when we talk about sensitivity, it is a serious business. Mastering the sensitivity is a skill that takes practice in order to be able to live in this world today with its needs I haven’t mastered it always very well. Finding the balance with right amount of activity and rest is sometimes challenging and it would be tempting to spend more time in the richness of the inner world and among the books etc., where the world is always more gentle and there are so often happy ends. You see, I have seen sensitive people who have been hurt too much, and not having the tools or love around them to tackle with the sensitive side in them, they have disappeared in their own world almost altogether and that is just heart-breaking. Some of them have disappeared in the deep depths of a bottle.

The other day I also had a discussion with an acquaintance over a cup of coffee which let me a bit exhausted. I was eager to change the topic to something lighter and brighter than some parts in my life and I felt diminished to only my sorrows and difficulties which are a very small part of me (oh, those boundaries!). Then it occurred to me that perhaps it was the other part that needed to see her own life through my story and there were wounds looking for healing. When we heal ourselves, others can heal too and then the world heals, one by one. There is interdependence in everything and I wonder if this is the ultimate form of beauty, ultimate form of love. Healing. Therefore also this text.

I made a pot holder pattern for a Finnish magazine a year ago. Now you can find the pattern in Finnish here. The pattern includes a chart and together with the basic pattern for crocheting diamonds (in my Ravelry store, link on Pattern-page) you can make one for yourself too if you like.  Pictures above by Kodin Kuvalehti, hope I have the right to share these here.

So, it is all this that is weaved in every stitch I crochet, in every diamond or every item I make, my maker story. It is also how the quietness, gentle living and connection all are weaved in together and I wonder what kind of pattern is in the making here. I could have made the story fuller, tie the threads better together, but I let it be like this for now. I also wonder and ponder if I should break free from the name Hilja Design, to get a clean break with the patterns of previous generations – or is it rather so that I just go forward and own my story, even though those patterns have been so broken. Perhaps writing these lines here have already revealed me that it is time to let go. I don’t know what lies ahead in the future, I know I have to look for some education in textiles, I need more co-operation and feedback. And I know I work best at the level of ideas. I have spent 20 years in figuring out the 20 first ones. Now I send a wish to the universe that I get 40 happier ones. I’ll do my part.  

Let us end this text with crocheted diamonds though, I wonder if they have also tried to give me a new pattern to live by. You see, you find the diamonds naturally in the rows of half double crochet, and with a few simple color changes they donate their shine to you. All the beauty of them is in the ease and giving yourself the time to find the right pattern among the rows. Then you just follow the stitches with trust. I guess this is what I have been doing the last years. Colors you can choose to your liking.

And then let us go and create new (crochet) patterns. Love and hugs,


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