Archive for the ‘Self Improvement’ Category

Coming October 2011

Coming October 2011

Little by little all our items on the massive to do list are starting to be ticked off. Or at least they feel a bit more under control by now. We have had so many things happen to us over the last two months that I feel quite overwhealmed and exhausted almost about it all. However, it’s definitely been both good stuff and sad stuff..

First of all our car broke down ūüė¶ The first sad thing to happen to us. My lovely Ford started coughing like an old smoker and had to be sent to the garage where it has now spent almost a month in pieces while we awaited the verdict first of all, then the new parts that were to be shipped in from the states and now finally the assembly and ultimate “all clear” status that should arrive next Tuesday.. Fingers crossed..

Then we had J’s mum and husband over for two weeks (the good stuff), which was absolutely lovely (and you can read more about in my entry about Arenal) but still tiring since we ended up doing lots of fun stuff with them.

Unfortunately by the time they left, our second car also broke down (very sad stuff) due to an exhausted ignition motor or whatever it was called again.. Thankfully we found an amazing mechanic who came to our house and took care of it for us so now he is purring like a kitten again!

Then on Thursday this week (Cinco de Mayo!) I finally got my cedula sorted! I am not oficially a temporary resident of Costa Rica ūüôā Pretty cool! What is even more amazing is that during the same week J got his papers that he is “in process” as well, meaning neither one of us will have to leave the country now unless we choose to do so ourselves! No more visa runs!

And well last but not least.. We also found out that we are expecting a little baby girl. She is due in October 2011 and I cannot wait to meet her. Well, I knew about the baby for a while, but on the 29th April we decided we wanted to know a bit more about who we are soon about to meet and that is when we found out its a lovely little baby girl.

Due to this not just good stuff, but amazing stuff, we are planning to move into the smaller house next door this coming weekend. Even if I do very much like where we live at the moment, this move is mainly so that I dont have to waddle around up and down spiral staircases as well as providing us with a smaller, cosier set up for when the baby gets here. Not to mention saving some rent…

But hopefully we now have a few quieter months when we can focus on what is to come, as well as for me to deal with all my inner thoughts, feelings and hormones that I currently have going on.. So maybe calling the next months “quieter” is not really the right word. At least I am not getting bored over here ūüėČ

Health and Happiness in January

I always thought January was such a dreadful month full och darkness and coldness, when I once again had lots of homework on my table while I was a student or simply lots of work on my desk every year after I had entered the wonderful world of working. In general it was a month that I didn’t really feel like doing much during due to all of the above, as well as feeling the need to detox and revamp myself and my diet following the usual holiday excesses of December.

This year has been a bit different. I have noticed the usual tiredness, but in contrast to what seems like forever, this tiredness was coming mainly from having tried to squeeze too much into my life for quite a few months now and not really listening to myself and my body, instead of the usual food and drink and compulsory merriment of the Christmas season.

The biggest change I have noticed over the last two years is that little by little I have started to listen to what I want and what me and my body would like and would want to do instead of what I should do. I admit, this January I have not been as social as I used to be a few years back, but I have definitely felt much better.

Having failed miserably with my attempts to write more on my Burning Fat blog (and to actually burn a little bit more in the tummy area), as well as my high ambitions to get some websites up I am now looking at February and the rest of 2011 with an interest I haven’t had in a while now thank to doing too much in general. I think doing too much is a total creativity killer, and I notice I blossom with regards to actually doing things and producing things when I have had a slight ‘draught’ in things to do for a few hours, days or weeks.

So in that respect, I do hope that the next few weeks will carry with them lots of moments of, if not boredom, then at least less activities planned in so that I will properly have the chance to actually get some of my grand plans going and off the ground. So on this last day of January, a January that has already show to be a great start to 2011, I hope the rest of 2011 will be as promising, but even more filled with idle days, ready to fill with exciting projects and fun future plans!

New Years Resolutions

2010 was a year of changes. The biggest changes came from me changing my work as well as us changing the country and continent where we live, but along the big changes there were also a lot of other small things that changed. I purged a lot from my life (mainly in the form of foods); I reduced my drinking, I ate less sweets and sugars, I stopped drinking coffee, I reduced my intake of white flour and fast foods, I stopped drinking diet sodas…

I also added a lot to my life (partly in the form of foods and partly in the form of adding new habits to my life); I started walking 30mins almost every morning thanks to Sofia, I started eating linseed/beepollen/fresh fruits/protein powder, I started sleeping at least 8hrs each night, I started drinking lots more tea, I started working my lats more (pullups!), I started working on my emotional responses to everything that happens as well as dealing with frustration in a more productive way… The list goes on and on and on.

Change can be difficult and possibly much less fun than just sticking to what you know and enjoy, but it can also be very rewarding as you see how well you do and how well you feel following the implementation of the changes. Most change comes from yourself and from within, you have to want to change, which I guess I did since I managed to include so much into my past year. But most of all Id like to thank my lovely J for all the support he has given me in going through with it all. x Anyways, here is my list of new years resolutions for 2011:

1. Eat Clean

Eating well and with the aim of eating as healthily as possibly will be my top goal this year. This resolution gets the first position since it is almost like the main idea from which a lot of my other resolutions have arisen from and in the end this resolution will help me achieve many of my other resolutions.

During the last two quarters of 2010 I have been massively inspired by Oxygen Magazine as well as Tosca Reno‘s ideas about eating clean, so this year I finally feel ready to grab the bull by its horns and to finally start to eat according to her advice. I will start slowly, doing my first week of clean eating from the 10th January till the 17th January to see how it goes. If it goes well Ill keep going for another week but adjusting for any learnings and improvements I have found during my first week of clean eating.

If all this goes well I will do two more weeks of clean eating in February and a full month of it during March 2011 in order to celebrate the month when I turn 30!

2. Cooking more

In order to support my clean eating I want to cook more. I want to reduce my intake of preservatives, sugars and food additives, chemicals and colorants in general and clean up my diet. I have already started slowly with this, Ive made my own strawberry jam last year but want to make papaya jam and try making a chutney as well this year. I havent yet tried making my own cordial but that is also on the list of things to do this year.

3. Handicrafts Galore

I started knitting again last year, and I really want to keep this up. I am currently knitting a bedspread (yes that’s right, I started with a “small” project – a 1.2m x 1.8m bedspread…) but Id like to make myself a knitted scarf as well by the end of this year. Something to keep here at work for moments when the air conditioning goes mad..

Id also like to buy an electronic sewing machine… I am not yet 100% sure what I would do with it, but I think all that would dawn on me as soon as I got one… So gotta keep my eyes on Craigslist to see if I could find a cheap one on there. I also want to go to more garage sales and flee markets this year. Didnt manage many last year, and I bet Costa Rica is full of treasures…

4. Keeping Fit

This goal is divided up in to three separate sections: Light, Medium, Hard. Just to keep me challenged throught the year.. ūüôā Having been inspired by Jacqueline Kothbauer’s goal of 150 work out sessions a year, I have also tried to set up quantifiable goals so I can actually properly make myself accountable for my actions… Let me run through them one at a time:

Light: A 30 minute morning walk five days a week (preferably mon – fri) will be my aim for all this year. That means 260 tmies 30 minutes. Maybe a bit ambitious but my little lovely doggy Sofia will definitely support this resolution! Any extra weekend walks will be a bonus (both for me and for Sofia!)

Medium: I will try to go to the gym five times a week as well for a minium of 30 mins. I havent decided yet how this 30 mins will be divided up between aerobic exercise and weights training, but I definitely need to add more weights to my sessions this year. I would ideally like to be able to do 10 pull ups by the end of the year (I can currently do about 1 and 2 semi ones or three semi ones or.. well you get the point, not that many) and to do 3 x 12 sets of proper sit ups (properly using and targeting my “dead zone” as my pilates teacher calls it).

Hard: Put all this together and use my improving fitness level to surf better. (And hopefully also dance a bit.. The hard part with that will be finding a place where I can practice my belowed Salsa en Linia over here.) I would also like to lower my fat percentage.. I just need to find out what my current one is and then burn fat to reach my ideal level (which I assume will be around 15%)

5. Improving my Patience

This one is a difficult one. Then again, I have already improved it massively during this year and I think I am definitely better at it now than I was even just a year ago. But I want to be even less influenced by external factors and not allow them to stress me, frustrate me or make me feel like I have “ants in my pants”..

6. Heirloom Gardening

I want to do much more gardening this year. And I really have to remember to water my plants twice a day instead of my miserable “every now and then” strategy that has been predominant over the last few months.

Really got to change that if I want to actually get any tomatoes from my poor dry plants on the terrace. (I might post a picture later on of what they look like now.. Just to turn the usual idea of before – after pictures on its head)

Anyhow, this year I want to get my hands on some Heirloom Seeds (as well as a proper gardener hat like this guy has in the image from Rare Seeds) and plant real vegetables, mainly tomatoes and zucchinis. Yum, yum, yum!

(This resolution is actually just a way to practice before doing it on a bigger scale once I have a little farm…)

7. Improve and excel at work

This year I want to be able to show great numbers from my work. The first year I feel has just flown by and I dont really feel I have had the time to properly perform, mainly since everything has just been kicked off, its been slow to begin with, we havent had the right partners to work with etc. But this year I want to be able to show great KPIs from my work and to really begin to build up my professional reputation over here.

And I think I should stop here, otherwise a year wont be enough for all of my ambitous goals and plans, and most importantly I do want to leave something up to chance and let life surprise me.

Last day of 2010

The last day of 2010 is about to begin, approximately 30 minutes to go over here in Costa Rica but I guess there will be lots of celebrations shared with us from over in Europe already starting at about 4pm our time. Time difference is a strange thing, thinking that in Finland its already almost 8am and a lot of my family and friends over there are at work already while I am about to tuck myself in for the last full night of 2010.

My Christmas Fairy Lights on the TerraceWe have been back up in the central valley for a few days, spending some time at the office (which I did find quite difficult following the working from home flexibility of Monday and Tuesday) and enjoying our lovely house. My youngest sister arrived today with her boyfriend and tomorrow we are heading back to the beach for some more surfing, a new years dinner at the Los Almendros restaurant as well as some hotness and sunshine. A weird but wonderful way to end the year!

Mum brought over a couple of bottles of champagne so we get to have that tomorrow since we missed the traditional Christmas Champagne on the 24th. But I think its much better this way, to get to enjoy it with my sister as well.

I think 2010 has been an absolutely wonderful year, I would not want to change a thing.. I guess I almost wish I could have squeezed a few more days into the year, days that I wouldnt have had to work during so that I could have spent them just enjoying J’s company, life in general and this wonderful country. But then again, I am very much looking forwards to what the future and 2011 brings… Happy New Year everyone!

P.s. New years resolutions for this year:

– Work on my frustrations to reduce them and control them more (in general – not let my emotions take over)

– Get fitter ūüėČ

– Appreciate what I have in life

– Spend lots of time with J and Sofia and as much time as possible with the people I hold dear

Ps 2: What I was striving for in 2005-2006

 

Del dicho al hecho hay mucho trecho

I was reminded of this Costa Rican saying this weekend when once again I had compiled a long to do list but actually managed ¬†to get so little done… Anyways, it seems like the Costa Ricans, just like the rest of the world, are writing a lot of verbal checks that they are not willing to cash in the end..

I have always been an advocate of “Actions speak louder than words” but this month I (well, my big mouth) have put myself to shame even more than usual. I have had big plans to make home made preservative free strawberry jam for weeks now and it just hasnt happened. (Although, to be a bit less harsh on myself, at least I got the strawberries sorted this weekend from the Santa Ana Farmers Market.) So tonight I have decided that since I am not doing the gym due to my cold I will finally have the time to do something about this. Or well, thats the plan. Ill let you know how it goes or if once again I have written verbal checks that wont be cashed…

But at least I have learned that its the same wherever you go. Humans in general just dont seem to be able to shut up. So therefore I think for the last few months of this year I will work on this and especially on promises made to myself and rather than continuously overpromising and then underdelivering, I will try to do the opposite and for a whole two months underpromise and then overdeliver to myself!

cogito ergo sum

After a heated discussion this afternoon with my boyfriend about how understanding things will remove fear and how emotions are largly based on misunderstandings and misreadings, I have been sent away to think about my wrongs and misunderstandings in the company of Descartes, Plato, Hume and Kant.

So I have never studied filosophy. Or well, let me rephrase that, I have never properly studied much filosophy. While in high school we all had to do a course called Theory of Knowledge, unfortunately it was just not very good at all in unwrapping the world of thought, or providing you with any theories to base your knowledge on. I remember us touching upon Plato and Socrates, but I remember the essay competition we were taking part in for my German class at that moment much better. ( I revamped a cheesy comment from Forrest Gump, you know which one I mean, and won a trip to Germany..)

Anyways, so here I am then. Unable to escape the great filosophers (or my boyfriend) and their insights into life and all that is. I started off with Descartes, well the Wikipedia entry about Descartes, and had a bit of a “Oopa” moment halfway through the text already¬†(I hadn’t even reached “Discourse on the Method” yet!) when his famous comment cogito ergo sum (“I think, therefore I am”) came up and how it more or less says that existence is questioning things. Right, I can see that, but what really touched a nerve was a bit further down the page:

“He perceives his body through the use of the senses; however, these have previously been unreliable. So Descartes determines that the only indubitable knowledge is that he is a thinking thing. Thinking is his essence as it is the only thing about him that cannot be doubted.”

God damn. 1 Р0 to J and Descartes. My arguments from the discussion before about my extremely overwhealming feelings being uncontrollable and me shutting down into animal mode when faced with any form of fear and becoming unable to deal with them in a rational manner is starting to crumble already. How annoying.

I must say though that I really enjoyed reading up a bit on Descartes. I continued with a summary of his “Discourse on the Method” and I am intrigued to read more. Found a link to the audio book for this that I think I will download just in time now for our 8hrs long trip over to Nicaragua in a few weeks. I think some deep filosophical teachings might be an excellent thing to drill down into while bumping along on the Costa Rican highways towards a new Tourist Visa.

But for now I think Id better stop my filosophical musings on Descartes in order to focus fully on the next filosopher in line, Plato. More on that later. I promise.

The Five Pillars of Happiness

So this is turning into a bit of a self help blog me thinks.. ūüôā I assure you, this was not really the main aim with the blog, and it will not become the main aim, but since its MY blog I get to chose what we talk about here.. ūüėČ And at least for me, this is a very interesting topic at the moment. Those of you who are not in need of any realignment or any more happiness, do not¬†despair, I will move on to other topics after this, in the mean time though, I hope you can try to find this topic interesting anyway for what it is. After all, everyone is searching for happiness, aren’t they?

Just to be clear on something, it is not the holy grail of happiness I am about to reveal to you. My apologies for any high expectations I might have raised in the first paragraph. This is simply the first post in a series of 6, discussing a few areas and things related to them that I try to maintain as well as I can for a healthy balance in life, something that will then facilitate my Happiness. Its as simple as that, but believe me, sometimes it feels much more complicated, especially when you try to appease all five areas at the same time.

The idea for this series of posts is to one by one lay out my five pillars of happiness, clearly define them in writing instead of just having them in my head and then hopefully have a clearer idea of what I need to work on when I feel a slight shiver in my happiness foundation. The seeds for the idea of the five pillars were sown already during my time in Barcelona, but over the years the idea has slowly grown into something I realise is of great meaning to me. Unfortunately even after many years, I still feel the structure in my mind is not yet crystal clear, but I hope these blog posts will help me get a clearer, final picture in my mind of all of this.

This whole thing started with the sudden realization that three areas of my life were massively faulty and not stable enough to serve as the foundation that I want to base my life on. Having three areas so out of place made me feel unbalanced, out of place and unhappy, and this in turn made me continuously striving towards something that would correct the situation. Unfortunately I was never really sure what needed correction and what was already ok, making it difficult to single out the things I needed to focus on.

So I kept on being all wishy washy with everything, searching for happiness all over the place, and especially in the wrong places, before I realised its not ONE thing I need to make me happy, I need MANY things. To be specific, I realised there were five specific things I liked having in my life and that it was exactly these areas I needed to focus on in order to achieve my foundation for happiness.

I do admit that the reason I was in this mess was because I had ignored my true self for quite a few years, I also admit I had not been paying any attention to the faulty pillars while they were slowly eroding and crumbling to pieces, and lastly I admit that they did so exactly because of this lack of attention to them. But having slowly realised where the fault was has made it easier to little by little start building the pillars up again, and as a result, restating the balance into my life.

Without further ado, let me introduce you to My Five Pillars of Happiness (as well as the following blog posts):

Pillar 1: Home

Pillar 2: Family and Friends

Pillar 3: Love

Pillar 4: Work

Pillar 5: Health and Fitness

I wont go into these topics any more in this post, we will be here all evening if I do. Instead, I will discuss one pillar at a time over the next few days so there is enough time to reflect between each pillar, and I think by next week or so the complete picture will be revealed. Enjoy!

Stumbling on Happiness

I¬†don’t¬†mean to brag, but I have lots of books. I am already starting to have quite the collection here, as well as a bit of a collection over in England where I set up camp last. Then there are the ones that are neatly stored in boxes over in Finland and the ones that are still kicking around in Spain. Not to mention all the books I have lent people that are currently floating around all over the world. Well, in general it has become somewhat difficult to keep track of them all.

The book I was missing the most at the moment is “Stumbling on Happiness” by Dan Gilbert, well, that was until I realized that I had been clever enough to bring it with me so I could finally finish it! I started the book about 2 years ago, and I think I am still only on page 80 or so.. Its a bit ironic that I havent managed to read the book yet, especially considering I have read a lot of online stuff about it as well as just today rewatched the excellent TEDtalk that Dan Gilbert gave about this exact topic.. I will have to try to pick it up again soon, if only so I can finally find out more about where to locate Happiness.

Actually, after a bit of soul searching these last few years, I think I am finally, little by little realising what makes me happy and what keeps me happy on a day to day basis. Nevertheless, I still have quite a long way to go to really “get it”, but then again, what fun would it be if it was just around the corner? At least I hope the journey there will be as fun as the destination.

Anyways, in the meantime, while you and I are both stumbling around, why not watch the below video and pay some attention to Dan’s hypothesis that we as human beings are actually better off in a world of limits and boundaries that are helping us “make do” and “settle for things” in order to lead a happier life, instead of a world of freedom? Its quite an interesting thought, but I think he is on to something here. Watch it and let me know what you think..

Deep in Thought

Jack Vettriano PaintingAll my life I have been a slave of my mind while wearing my heart on my sleeve. Anyone who has made this same mistake will recognise how exhausting it can be to let your mind control your thoughts while leaving your heart exposed to life’s twists and turns.

Interestingly enough, I didn’t really realise how much this was affecting me until recently. I think I managed to miss the point for so long, mainly because I never had the tools to really deal with negative thoughts or overwhelming emotion, but also because I never really questioned them as being bad for me.

For as long as I can remember, my way of dealing with emotion is to wallow in it till it subdues. No matter if its positive emotions, that can take you on such amazing personal highs, or negative emotions, that can plunge you down into the deepest valley’s of darkness. For years I actually loved my highs, but did feel quite¬†wiped¬†out by the lows. Nevertheless I thought the lows were acceptable and worth it, even just as a contrast and to make the highs even better.

Whatever it was, I was stuck on this¬†roller-coaster¬†ride and what was keeping me on was my own mind I realise now. And this is where the whole concept of “slave to my own mind” comes into the picture. (I know, it was a long way to get to the point but now we are finally here!) I didnt realise it at the time, but I had given over so much influence to my mind and was letting it run havoc with ¬†my thoughts on a daily basis, and worse still, I¬†didn’t¬†even question it.

The change finally started slowly and quite innocently by me giving myself a big kick in the a** and pushing myself to make small efforts to get back into dancing and all other things I adore in life. Thanks to these small actions and changes in my way of acting, I started affecting my thinking as well. I started to manage to almost chose when to be happy and when to allow a little bit of sadness in my life, something that made me realise how big a deal my own thoughts were playing in how I was feeling.

Surprisingly though for someone who would consider themselves pretty switched on, the real “Aha!” experience with regards to this¬†didn’t¬†come to me until recently when I read about it in a book my mum suggested to me. The book in question is¬†“The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle and it discusses awareness of the moment and awareness of everything within you and around you at every single moment, rather than stressing about what has happened or what will happen. Well, it has some other stuff thrown in as well, but this is the gist of it.

This book, along with its follow up “A New Earth”, are widely regarded as two of the most influential spiritual books of our time, and even more impressive, the author had his spiritual awakening at the age of 29! My gosh.. What have I done by the age of 29, except for wallow in negative thoughts? I finished the book and decided that I really should not allow so much freedom to my mind and so much negativity into my life.

So, inspired by this book, I have started focussing more on the presence, the small positives and the small victories of every day life. Its going ok, but I must say I do fail miserably at this at least once a day thanks to my stubborn mind still wanting to sabotage my daily happiness. But I think we are starting to learn how to coexist, and most importantly, I am learning to shoot down most negative thoughts my mind comes up with before they do much harm.

Having been given some insights about the mind and a few initial tools to handle it with, I am starting to realise how little attention we in the Western World actually give to self exploration during most of our youth and the years we spend attempting to become somewhat educated. It has made me wonder how much you could affect people’s well being by making these tools readily available to them at an early stage, instead of waiting for them to hit a point when they will either succumb to the lows or finally start searching for the tools they need to deal with it all. Why not provide them with the wheel instead of having every single person reinvent it themselves once they realise they need it? I know I would have appreciated having at least a few of the pieces of the damn wheel instead of having had to start from scratch.

Lately, I have been pleased to find myself back on the roller-coaster at times, experiencing fabulous highs, but most of the time I am extremely pleased with the fact that I feel so much more balanced and peaceful if I do focus on blocking out the negativity and just letting in positive thoughts. Funny how easy it is for negativity to sneak into our minds, while positive thinking takes so much more work. What a cruel joke by our creator.

PGaD

I am feeling a bit lost at the moment.. Well, actually, its not really that widespread. Its more like being lost with certain things, details in the big general picture. Its like fumbling around in one of the rooms in a big house of many rooms, but unfortunately exactly the room you happen to be in happens to be dark within that otherwise lit up house..

I hope you get the picture.

Basically, I am feeling very settled and happy with so many things in life, but seem to have constant issues with what I want to do with my 8hours a day that I have to spend at work. I have had a few weeks now of feeling a bit in limbo with things, these few weeks things in general have not been moving that much at all and this has made my itch for learning new things and doing challenging things quite unbearable.

I know, I know, and yes, I am being told I should sit back and relax and enjoy the ride instead of worrying about the fact that the scenery could be a tiny bit more interesting, or the ride a bit faster or just a tiny bit more exciting and challenging etc. But I have slight problems with doing that. I have always been a bit of a doer. Actually, I am more of an initiator, and I am an excellent initiator if I can hand over the project to someone else as soon as I have initiated it so that someone with more patience can finish it while I get to go on and initiate more stuff..I hear this is typical for people born in the Aries sign, so at least I have an excuse for my behaviour.

Anyways, I have felt this annoying itch now for a while and I think I need to look into adding some PGaD into my life as soon as possible, in other words, I need to look over my Personal Growth and Development strategy. My main problem is I feel totally stagnant at the moment, professionally that is, and unfortunately also somewhat unchallenged. The problem is not that there are no challenges, there are massive challenges in my work. The problem is I have not got the tools to properly approach these challenges.

Secondly, I can count the new things I have learned (at work) these last few months on the fingers of one hand, which according to me is quite unacceptable. You would think that starting a new job would mean that the first few months would be quite tiring and exhausting due to all the new stuff you have to internalize, unfortunately that was not the case in this situation.

So I am considering looking over my PGaD strategy again with the aim of reassessing it, and basically myself adding whatever is needed to it to make me feel a bit more challenged. Its not the end of the world, but I am a bit disappointed that once again everything will be up to me. And yes, I do admit that I was a spoiled brat who did not appreciate all the great trainings and educational opportunities I got to enjoy at Hewlett Packard and Accenture  while I worked with them. If I get another chance like that of trainings on the job I will definitely not waste it or not appreciate it.

But for now, I think I will listen to some more interesting videos about web 2.0 and about my new professional infatuation Sheryl Sandberg and then enjoy my cup of mint tea in silent contemplation with the lovely Sofia in my lap. And after all, things could definitely be worse so I will stop whining now and go look for some challenges. After all, usually in life its up to you to make the most of each day.