Question of the day.

Do you like to cook and/or bake?

My answer:

I thought I’d do a bit of a rambly post of this. Just so you know. πŸ˜€

Whether I like is one thing, whether I can is another, lol. Because my dexterity is out of kilter – mildly but enough that it does affect some areas of my life and functioning – I never really had any spectacular achievements in the culinary field, in fact it often was exactly the opposite but at least the perk of it is that it can get interesting. πŸ˜€ When we had such class at school which involved cooking or baking among other things (I’ll write about that a bit more in detail later) I always preferred to have a bit of distance to my lack of abilities in this field so would tell people that I’d rather allow my creativity to flow freely rather than have some damn recipe rule my brain and tell me what I’m supposed to do. Who cares if it comes out inedible, lumpy or something? It’s a piece of art so it would be a sacrilege if you tried to eat it anyway. And esspecially when baking, I would openly show my weird creations around the class to the great amusement of the other kids. It’s always been one of my coping strategies that I’ll either laugh at myself or things that are happening, or distract people from something I don’t want them to talk about/notice by making them laugh, but in this case I didn’t really have a huge problem with my lack of culinary abilities, I don’t think they’re necessary these days in the age of caterings, though are certainly extremely useful. Probably a factor influencing this was that these classes were generally not very competitive as the few other kids who took part in them with me had some form of learning disability, which for most of them didn’t affect their dexterity or coordination so that they didn’t have exactly the same problems as me and with the same activities, but had others, often more challenging ones, instead, and so if they were laughing that was not really in a mean way, and I even sort of liked entertaining them. I had also a very good relationship with the teacher, she was in fact one of those adults there with whom I had quite a good relationship and liked them, I know she liked me a lot as well, and she was often very supportive of me.

I do not either cook or bake independently and never have, but when I do get enough individual support and guidance with that, the results can be tolerable, but then again, I feel like it’s not really exactly my merrit then, but rather the person’s helping me. This is quite an interesting and to a degree even fascinating field (maybe not hugely fascinating like to a degree my languages are to me or some other things but it’s interesting for me to observe how people cook or bake especially when they’re particularly talented and how something they’ve had in mind or some recipe on a piece of paper develops into something very specific it’s a little bit black magic to me πŸ˜€ ). My Mum says cooking is all about chemistry and physics, which I think is very true, but might be just another reason why I find it as tricky and a bit abstractive as I do, also with all the proportions in recipes and all that.

Going back to that class thing, what it was in fact was a sort of fusion of art class with stuff like knitting, cooking, baking and other manually focused activities. I have no clue how you call it in English if at all, but in mainstream schools here in Poland, children have class which is called the same but they learn things like calligraphy or how to pass a bike licence or such. In our blind school, that class probably wouldn’t work out or even have much sense in its mainstream point, so I guess they must have adapted it to be something more suitable to our abilities and useful at the same time. It was more like what people my parents’ age had at schools during the communism period which was called practical and technical activities, or something like that.

So as you can imagine knowing the above about my coordination and culinary skills already, I was generally super lame at that subject, but the teacher was always very understanding of me and I always got B’s at the end of the year, though wondered for what. πŸ˜€ I liked the cooking and baking because we typically did some very yummy things but at the same time felt useless because rather than contributing to it as much as everyone else did, I was more likely to screw something up, possibly ruining everyone else’s efforts as well, or at least come out with bleeding fingers or something unless I got a lot of help, and even if the other kids wouldn’t have additional difficulties, they were still blind, and blind people even when they’re only blind, do need to at least be shown individually how to do some things if they’ve never done them before, so she couldn’t focus all her attention on me even in such a small class where there were only like 4 people or so. So even if I didn’t have particular problems with the sole fact that I wasn’t able to cook or bake, it was still quite distressing in that class, at first.

Until somehow one day, I guess it was Mother’s Day, we were making cards for our mums, and I wanted to include a poem on mine, and I came up with it myself and the teacher wrote it on my card. I’ve always considered myself much better at prose than poetry and I do like writing prose much more thann poetry, but she decided that my poem was great and witty and long and to my huge embarrassment showed it to my class teacher and everyone else who was in the teachers’ room must have heard it as well although it was just for my Mum, and she couldn’t get over it as if I wrote God knows what a masterpiece. And since then, we’d developed an unwritten agreement of sorts with her. She would help me greatly with all the technical stuff – not just cooking and baking but anything that I found more challenging to do by myself so basically almost anything in that class – or would do the whole job for me if it needed to be done well and quickly, or I wouldn’t have to do it at all if there was something else I could do, and instead I would do a lot of writing if there was any need, especially for poems because these were typically writings on cards or other occasional stuff. For example there was one boy in the class for whom I wrote poems for his aunt who was his main carer I believe and he always seemed to like it so much. Or I would write for school – Teacher’s Day, enf of school year, Christmas etc. – I can’t say it was something I liked a lot, because just like I said I don’t really feel very comfortable in the world of poetry either as a writer or reader (except of Vreeswijk and a few other poets), and I found especially the school poems quite an annoying chore, but at least I could rhyme well and make even verses which were even a bit witty sometimes which seemed to be enough for everyone so I was glad there was something I could do better than cooking and make myself kinda sorta useful. The only type of poetry I enjoyed writing, for myself, were some spontaneous, weird, long-winded, full of wordplay, immature- or black-humoured poems whose topics I found hilarious and which made my roommates laugh. I guess though what must have been most funny about them was the language, the way I wrote them, rather than what I was writing about, that’s at least how I see it now, the plots themselves were mostly rather immature just like I said.

The good thing about that whole writing thing though was that sometimes there were art competitions organised somewhere in the country, and our school often took part in such thiings, especially if they were for people with disability. And since art competitions are often also literary competitions at the same time and you can choose which form you prefer, and my teacher knew I’m better at literature than art, she would always encourage me to take part in such things and then I could do a bit of prose. While everyone else was making their artworks, I would be making up some short story and then dictating it to the teacher (as they had to be in normal print typically). I didn’t like the dictating part really because, well, you often change your mind about stuff while writing, and with dictation there isn’t really as much room for that, you have to form your sentences well from the start, know what you want to be happening next in the plotline so that the other person doesn’t have to wait for ages until your creativity strikes, and at the same time it also requires a lot of spontaneity and is a bit like stream of consciousness writing in my view, only more stressful because you have to be mindful of the quality. I don’t know why I simply didn’t write these things on the computer or something, but I guess there must have been a reason. But overall it was always an exciting experience and one such time my dictated short story must have actually turned out quite good quality to the judges, because it got a first place – it was a Bible-inspired contest and I wrote a story inspired by the parable of the prodigal son and based on a real life story from my family. –

When I was out of school, I asked Mum to teach me some basic culinary stuff. I also thought I’d like to be able to help her a bit, because my Mum is the only person who cooks and bakes in our house –
Zofijka now does some occasional cooking or baking but only when she’s in the mood really, although she’s extremely good at it when she does do something. – And I thought it could be interesting and that maybe now that I’d have my Mum’s undivided attention it would be easier for me to learn and practice and for her to actually teach me things than for my teacher. It wasn’t really as good an idea as I expected though, because having to instruct me and often help me with more complex things made meal preparations longer and actually my input didn’t help at all, but instead contributed to Mum having to spend more time in the kitchen. Plus she didn’t really have the patience or the skills to teach, which I guess is a common thing with people who are self-taught at something. Finally one beautiful day I was grating vegetables and cut my finger really badly, and that was the end of my cooking adventures practically. πŸ˜€

Still, because I feel a bit sorry for Mum, even though she hardly ever complains, I traditionally ask her whether she wants help when she’s making some food but that’s more of politeness or something rather than I actually expect her to need/want my help or think I could be helpful, she’ll always say no but I ask anyway I guess to show her that I appreciate her efforts and would help if I could, in case she needed it. Sometimes she does say yes and then we do something together but that’s when she’s really got the time and energy to spare.

Given all that I wrote above, I don’t really know which of these activities I like more as I have very limited experience of them, but if I really had to choose I think I’d go with baking, there’s something atmospheric about it.

Okay, your turn now. πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

What’s your favourite season? Why?

My answer:

I used to love summer. If someone would ask me why, I’d typically say that because holidays are in summer (so I could be home from the boarding school for a longer time), because you can be in the sea, and because you can pick berries (I loved berries as a kid, I still do, but back then I lived in the countryside so we had a forest on the other side of our gate and we would often go there to pick them. But I never really had high tolerance for heat so for that reason summer also really sucked for me. Now that I’m out of school and don’t have to wait for holidays, and still hate heat, it doesn’t have all that appeal to me anymore. I think these days I like winter more, when it’s cold outside but you can keep yourself cosy inside if it gets too cold and feel happy that you don’t have to be outside. Misha is also so delightfully sleepy in winter. He’s also super sleepy in summer but that’s more of the heat and it feels more lethargic and apathetic, while in winter he’s just kinda lazy and often even a bit more cuddly. And generally the feel of winter feels somehow friendly to me these days. My ex-pen pal said once that he thinks that winter is a very friendly season for introverts. I got very curious and asked him why he thought so (with all my current liking for winter I think Christmas, New Year celebrations and the like don’t necessarily have to be the best thing for all introverts, in my family we also have a lot of winter birthdays, myself included, so I wasn’t really sure if I shared this opinion) but he couldn’t really specify. But when I think of it more, even with all the Christmas shopping, socialising and what not, there is something about winter indeed that makes it friendly for introverts and other asocial individuals. What do you think? πŸ™‚

And what about your favourite season? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

What’s one video that never fails to make you laugh?

My answer:

The one I could think of off the top of my head is that about the Scottish guys and the voice recognition-operated lift. I believe it was quite popular at some point as I’ve seen it circulating around the web in many different places and many people from different countries that I know know about it, but all these people have some linguistic interests so maybe that’s just the only reason, so in case you have not seen it I’ll include it below. The first time my friend Jacek from Helsinki showed it to me we were both laughing like crazy. It still makes me giggle after like 5 years. But I also find it interesting because it just shows how people with not so standard accents, not so popular languages are often discriminated when technology like that is created. I’ve heard that Scottish people also have regular problems with Siri when they speak to her in their natural accent. But Apple has made Irish Siri so maybe Scottish will come at some point too, I personally think Scottish is a bit more difficult to understand than Irish accent though so it may be even harder to make an AI stuff that will understand it. But oh my it would be so cool if there were even more accent/language (or maybe even dialect??? well I’m probably asking for too much right now πŸ˜€ ) diversity in technology like that.

How about you? πŸ™‚

The challenging life lessons.

I don’t have anything more constructive to do for the time being, so thought I’d write another list inspired by Listify by Marina Greenway. Here goes the prompt:

Β Β  Difficult challenges that I pushed through (and what I learned). You have been through a lot. Pushed yourself, faced difficult situations, overcome challenges – all of it. List those moments and look back every now and then to acknowledge your journey and appreciate how far you’ve come.

The following list is not going to be exhaustive, we all have too many challenges to list and I’m too lazy to that, that would be endlessly pathetic and also too intimate, and I’m probably going to overshare massively anyway. I’ll write about major things. Because I’m supposed to include both the challenges/events and what I learned from them, and I want you to know the context and also just write more about it so it’s not just a dry list, it may not be your typical list with short elements. Actually, on second thoughts, I decided to make it a bit unconventional and will simply put each point under a separate heading because sometimes it may get lengthy and I don’t want to be limited to one paragraph which will be hellish to read. πŸ˜€ Now it’s actually no longer a list, but oh well. Does it matter a lot?

Also, before I begin, I feel like some minor, just-in-case trigger warnings are due. Brief mention of suicidal thoughts from the past, mention of accused suicidal thoughts (however absurd that may sound), brief mention of self-harm, in-depth discussion on false accusations of child sexual abuse, and generally challenging topics so if you feel like anything may be difficult be careful and don’t feel obliged to anything. Another disclaimer is for the length – it did turn out huge haha, and I was writing it for ages. Again, don’t feel any obligations to read everything or if you don’t think like reading a lengthy post don’t pressure yourself at all and do something more relaxing.

Β Β  I was born blind

Not like I remember any of it, haha, but blindness, even when it’s congenital thing and you can’t imagine your life any other way, is still more or less of a challenge. I don’t know if I learned anything specific from this… I mean, being blind you definitely learn things that you wouldn’t otherwise, but I never knew anything else so I can’t really compare it with anything I’d know before. Someone who lost their sight later on could have said that they have learnt to accept their blindness over the years – I was saved the problem as that has always been the only reality for me so I didn’t have to adjust to it in such a dramatic way. – It certainly was a difficult lesson for my parents though. Speaking of my parents, perhaps what I can say could be that I learned from quite an early age that I have a really loving and accepting family and not every disabled or non-disabled child is as lucky as I was.

Living 10 years in a boarding school

That was a huge challenge for me. It’s always difficult for any child to separate from their parents at the age of 5 and see them every two weeks at the very best, often much less frequently. If the environment where they live is friendly and there are other kids, as is the case with boarding schools (I want to be an optimist in this case and do hope most boarding schools are child-friendly and mine generally was, though I realise it’s not always the case), most kids grow to like it over time and bond with people there, though obviously they still miss their parents and, given the choice, would much prefer to live with them. But when they do go home, they’re often so used to being with their peers and the boarding school staff all the time that, while they’re happy to be at home, they may even miss their school and then be happy when going back there, to hang out with people they know well and have things in common with. That was not the case with me. I never fully adapted to living in such a way. Not because my school was scary or awful, though there were many things that I strongly believe shouldn’t take place. I guess I just wasn’t the type of kid to thrive in such conditions. Often when I’m close enough with someone to tell them about my experiences with this more in-depth, people will readily assume that my, or any other child’s in a similar situation, parents are to blame here. I don’t think so. There’s no way you can tell at such a young age whether this will be a good choice for your child or not. You can have a very extroverted, outgoing kid who loves spending time with their peers all the time, going to sleepovers, being in charge maybe, but stay in a boarding school and separation from family or any other subjectively negative experiences they may encounter there might make them much less self-confident and unhappy. An introverted child who hates leaving home even for family holidays and can’t find their place in a group may discover their true self in a good boarding school and make longer-lasting relationships because they can get to know their peers more deeply. And as for my personal case, my parents didn’t have another viable choice, or didn’t know about any. It had quite a destabilising effect on me that I had to change places so often. The result was that I didn’t feel at home anywhere and I didn’t have any sense of belonging. Because I hated the boarding school and didn’t want to have anything to do with it and that I felt like it smothered my sense of individuality (though I only fully realised what that feeling was exactly and the extend to which it happened after I left), I felt repulsed by what people were saying there a lot of the time that we should think of it as our second home. I didn’t understand those who actually treated it as such. I hated whenever someone would say about themselves, or moreover about me, that I “lived” there (we have two separate words in Polish for living, one for living as in being alive and another for living as in dwelling somewhere long-term, and I’m obviously talking about the latter). I wasn’t living there, I just was staying there at the time. I was scared thinking of girls in like their 20’s who were still there (most of them because of doing some higher education (most people there started proper schooling later than in mainstream school so it wasn’t that unusual for someone in their early 20’s to still be in higher education, that was actually the case with me too, only not in there) or studying at a mainstream university which was located nearby so it was easier for them to still reside in the same place that they’ve known for years and which was adapted to blind people in every possible way) or even older blind people who lived in this whole centre permanently (either because they worked somewhere there or just felt safest there and didn’t want/weren’t able for some reason to face the big wild sighted world) and I was wondering when I was little whether that was going to happen to me too, and then even later too but in a more cynical way rather than because I just didn’t know. I always waited when I’d be able to go home but I never felt truly at home either. It was like a holiday both for me and for my family, the more that often I’d come for summer holidays, or Christmas, or Easter, winter breaks or other. I loved it there but always felt more like a guest. I never was up to date with whatever was happening in our community or in the family. I felt like some very dignified stranger in some ways and didn’t like it. My relationship with my brother – which was never strong and kind of ambivalent, was particularly affected by it. I could never truly enjoy my stay at home because I was constantly thinking about how I needed to go back there soon and stressing over it. I hated being sort of on the move all the time. Yes, I did get used to living there, like you get used to living with one arm when you have it amputated at some point, but I was never comfortable with it and never fully accepted it. I did have kinda sorta friendships in there, liked many people, many people liked me, but these didn’t feel like true friendships, often felt either not really satisfying to me or sort of forced on the other end. I never had anyone there that I would miss when at home or think about what we’d be doing after the holidays/weekend/school break. I felt awfully inadequate and moreover awfully guilty for being so inadequate and not being able to feel good there. I tried to pretend and I think I was quite good at it or at least at stifling negative emotions (though sometimes in my first years of mastering this skill things would get really wild when there was no space left and it all popped out at once, until I learned that you can also implode and not just explode) but ultimately at least the staff knew that I didn’t feel good there, though it’s possible they knew it mainly from my Mum who couldn’t get over it naturally and her way of trying to get over something is talking and talking and talking and crying, they surely learned from my Mum that I was cutting myself, for example, which my Mum was supposing. During my whole long stay there, I only met one girl much younger than me who had very similar issues to me. Sometimes I thought everyone must feel exactly the same as me and they must be just acting, but why would we even be acting in front of each other so much that absolutely nothing would show. Some of the girls in my group that I was closer with knew that I didn’t feel exactly great there, but they never mentioned feeling the same. Yes, of course, everyone misses their parents, I often asked some of them about whether they do and most naturally they always did, and school work is always boring for most kids, no matter where you are, right? But no one seemed to feel the same desperate kind of thing and instead enjoyed being able to be around other people with whom they shared so much in common because of living together for so long, being blind and often some common interests. People bonded with the staff a lot, some girls sometimes jokingly called some staff members their another mum or something. Many happily went on summer camps with the group despite spending with these people all year. Or devote one holiday weekend to spend it doing some fun things with the group as well, like going for a trip or something. my parents strongly encouraged me to take part in these things as they thought that would integrate me with them more but it was always quite nightmarish for me. There was only that one primary school girl, whom I happened to get to know more closely because she was from the same region as me so we would often go home together – like I would go with her parents and she with mine so that made it more possible for us to be at home more often. – I know she was self-harming and also finding it difficult to adapt there. She’s a teenager now though and a few years ago I saw her on Twitter where she wrote a lot about her school life – still in the same school – and very positively. So I’m very happy for her that she did eventually found her place there, even though after I got out of there me and my Mum were strongly encouraging her mum to take her out as well. Only now I have even bigger problem with myself, as that just confirms my… ahem! uniqueness. πŸ˜€

What have I learnt from that? First I have to say I learned some independent living skills there. Not as many as a lot of other people there and not always as well, I think due to a whole mix of factors, but I definitely did learn things that I likely would not have learnt otherwise at all, and so for that I am grateful. As well as for learning to read, I’m so flippin happy to be able to read Braille. I know there are screen readers, audiobooks etc. and many blind people live happy lives without using Braille at all or say it’s impractical but for me, being able to read something vs hear makes a world of difference.

Not to invalidate other people’s negative or traumatic experiences, no matter how minor they may seem to me. I hate the word trigger or trauma in context of myself about which I wrote here a few times earlier, because it feels like trivialising people’s serious traumatic experiences, but at the same time, paradoxically, I’d say if I do have any actual triggers it’s when someone else invalidates someone’s negative experience in any way, for example tell them that it’s impossible for them to be traumatised by something. I only recently discovered how much it can upset me and drive me absolutely nuts, much more than when someone does that to me.

It taught me to appreciate the good things while they last. To cherish my private space and time I can spend alone. To appreciate music that I love and that I can listen to it any time as I couldn’t do that for many years of my stay there. To appreciate my family, my roots, anything or anyone that I feel a close connection to. In hintsight, it made me appreciate my individuality, quirkiness and realise that I am not, can’t be and don’t have to be like other people. It works both in a negative and positive way because while I love being different and quirky and don’t have any interest in being normal and average, at the same time I have strong feelings of inadequacy and strongly feel all the downsides of not being normal. I try to have a distance to it though. It made me understanding and more aware of the differences of other people and more interested in them and in what they’re actually feeling. Because what they’re showing or saying or doing or not doesn’t always have to mean it’s in line with what they’re feeling. Just in case you didn’t know. πŸ˜‰ Also in hintsight as well, I learned to accept my mental illnesses to which that experience had largely contributed, but I was only able to do that after I left, despite I knew deep down much earlier that things weren’t okay. It took me a long time to accept what was going on and put my finger on what it was exactly, and obviously I needed the help of other people. And oh yeah, I learned how to be a defensive pessimist, which skill serves me very well to this day, yay! But I can assure you that the learning process was quite shitty haha. I’ve learnt that different people may see one situation entirely differently. I’ve also learnt not so positive things, like have gotten quite an ingrained belief of being extremely not resilient and mentally weak, or the bottling up stuff I mentioned before.

I experienced two years in an integration school

If you don’t know what I mean by integration school, it’s like a cross between a special school and mainstream school, where disabled children learn with able-bodied children, but it’s meant to be more inclusive and generally supposed to be better prepared for the needs of disabled children or children with any special needs, like there may be teaching assistants more readily available as teaching assistants are not something you’ll encounter in every normal mainstream school in Poland (not necessarily even in an integration school either). As you can imagine from what I wrote earlier, my Mum was also quite desperate and not happy with the boarding school situation and wanted to help me. So when I was 10, when my parents left me at the boarding school at the beginning of a school year and I was doing quite visibly unwell emotionally, my Mum started to look for some alternatives and she asked in a nearby integration school kind of specialising in teaching visually impaired students or in any case most of their disabled students were visually impaired, whether they perhaps could admit me, without huge hopes as she’d already asked before. Miraculously, this time round there was a different headmistress and she agreed. When I learned about this from my Dad I was absolutely euphoric. To fully understand my euphoria, you have to realise that my idea about what an integration school is was rather peculiar. My absolute biggest, secret unrealistic dream was to be homeschooled. Or if not homeschooled, then I wanted at least to be in an integration school. Probably because most kids who left the special blind school I was in while still being in education, went to an integration school (naturally closer to home), I thought an integration school is any school that is not a boarding school, from which you go home straight away. When I was in nursery, there was one girl in my group who lived close enough to the blind school to be able to go home every day. One day as I witnessed when someone was coming for this girl, I said: “Wow, she has such an integration!” I couldn’t understand why all the teachers burst out with laughter. πŸ˜€

I don’t think I thought much about what it was going to be like, in practice, except for what I knew from Mum that the classes there were similarly small as in my school and that some kids there were blind and some were not and some were in between. And, of course, that I’d be at home every day.

The experience wasn’t bad in itself. It was just that a lot of nasty things happened in the meantime, that my brain state at the time was really awful and I was one super neurotic and constantly ruminating mess and got my first major depressive episode diagnosis around that time, as well as that I simply wasn’t a fit for that place either. My Mum says now that integration schools might be good for children who use wheelchairs or such but that they aren’t good for most if any blind children. I’m not sure I agree with that, it may not be the perfect idea but nothing is perfect and I know a bunch of blind people who thrived in integration schools or even completed their whole education until high school/college in such a way and are all for integration and it’s great. It’s just not a fit for everyone. For me, perhaps the more with the other issues that I mentioned that started surfacing big time, it was quite challenging. Practically – because I wasn’t independent enough – socially – because I couldn’t find my place in there and get along with people at all – and to a lesser extent academically. My Mum struggled with the idea that, rather than having the school books provided by the school as was the case previously, she’d have to get them printed in Braille and pay for them herself (which is not a cheap business), so I only got the most necessary books. My Mum was expected to help me with more complex/less easily adaptable school work or the things I struggled with the most, aka math, which is typical and mostly understandable practice in integration schools but my Mum wasn’t ready for it nor used to it, and hardly able to do it with baby Zofijka, the more that she isn’t particularly good at math either. I wasn’t used to needing this much help with school work either, before that I usually wanted to deal with it as fast as possible to be able to do other, more interesting things, had no time and patience for waiting for someone to come and help me, even if I sometimes needed it, so it was frustrating for us both. Eventually, after the two years, I left it. The final reason was not my not coping there though, but something more major. And, as there weren’t any more options, I went back to the boarding school for another five years.

From this experience, I learned more about the sighted people’s world. It’s a commonly mentioned disadvantage of blind schools that people in there are in their own, blind environment and, if they don’t have other, sighted friends or some other circle they would spend time with it’s easy to lose touch with what it’s like to live in the sighted world, and connect and relate to sighted people, especially with people who really spent there years and had few chances to really engage with sighted folks more. My primary source of such knowledge were books, just as books taught me about any other things that average people do, not just related to sight but socialising for example, haha, but that was an interesting early experience too.

I’ve learnt that integration school is another place where I don’t fit in, which instilled in me the conviction that there are real many places, situations and groups of people where I don’t fit in. Today I’m more okay with that than I was then. I got to learn some Swedish and generally my knowledge about a whole lot of things increased a lot.

I learned the same thing that I previously learned at the boarding school and also later on in all the other schools I went to, that the education system is evil and I still think very much the same and delight in ranting about it with whoever has similar views – which at this point is most often Sofi. – πŸ˜€ –

During my time in the integration, I had an Achilles tendons lengthening surgery, after which I was recovering in casts for 6 weeks and then getting back to life for a few months

2007 was a horrific year for me. At least it was balanced with only two but both great things – Sofi was born, and I received First Communion, although the significance of the latter didn’t fully sink in until much later even though my family was very religious. This horrific thing happened at the very start of my integration adventure – I started out in there in the middle of September and had the surgery in early October. – It was a possibility that was talked about previously a lot, I visited a few orthopaedists who all said I’d need it at some point. Finally I had even some very distant date for it in some huge faraway clinic and a hazy idea of what this surgery would entail, and just one day after coming back from that clinic, my orthopaedist said that he can fit me in for the surgery right away, here, in 5 days’ time. So obviously my parents jumped at the chance to have it dealt with and not have to think about it longer than necessary. I was quite stressed about it but I was also stressed out about a billion other things and didn’t really know what it would be like so tried to believe what everyone was saying that it would be okay, and by that possibly minimise the amount of stressful things, you can’t ruminate about everything at once. And it actually was okay. Except for that the surgery didn’t really work long-term at all, and for some reason the whole experience was really creepy for me. Again, perhaps it was just that I was generally in a rather bad emotional condition so anything would crush me. Or what I’m more inclined to think, my overall mental capabilities and the level of resilience are such that it would crush me any time. Or maybe, as my therapist later said, it was a shock for me because no one really took the time to explain to me the details of it. Maybe it were the accompanying circumstances – my Mum being chronically busy with Sofi and the building of our new house, me not having much to do and being chronically bored etc. – I only know it was super creepy and still when someone has something broken and is in a cast, and I happen to touch it, I get nausea and chills, and sometimes I still have dreams about the damn thing.

My Mum really wanted me to be admitted to the hospital for as short as possible and the doctor agreed, so I was only admitted one day before surgery and was discharged almost as soon as I woke up afterwards and they made sure everything was alright. That was scary too. Not just because I never was in an actual hospital by myself, but also one particular creepy thing comes to mind when I think about it, which may be as much important for the whole picture that it could have added significantly to my overall perception of the situation. In the hospital room with me, there was a girl my age after an awful car accident and another, much older one with something more complex. She needed a lot of assistance with everything, but one of her issues were also contracted Achilles tendons. I didn’t know what conditions she had or anything. I only knew she had some sort of a surgery a few days ago and accidentally learned about her Achilles tendons. The doctor was passing by our room while talking to someone and said: “There is a girl with contracted Achilles tendons here and we’ll be discharging her tomorrow”. This other girl thought he was talking about her and was overjoyed as she’d been in the hospital for a long time. I don’t know what sent my brain in such an irrational direction but I thought that OMG, she has the Achilles tendons too, so will that be how I’ll be after this surgery? She had to be fed and needed help with changing positions, a whole lot of other things that I’d always taken for granted.

So in the hours leading up to the surgery I was massively stressed. Finally, after I woke up from it, of course I was so foggy I could barely make sense of anything. The first thing I felt was that my legs were stuck in something, and I thought these were some sort of huge buckets, and I wondered why I can’t get out. Then my Dad said something like: “Wow, what fashionable winter boots you have! Aren’t they a bit too warm for autumn?” I laughed and then it sank in and I realised that I almost couldn’t move my legs. From what I know now, my doctor was really generous in covering me in casts, because they’re not normally quite as huge with this surgery as the ones I had. They went from slightly above my knees all the way to my feet, so that only my toes were sticking out. So essentially, I had my legs in pretty much one position all the time and couldn’t bend them even slightly. I absolutely didn’t realise that it would impact me so much. I think I wasn’t aware that it would change my life in any way beyond just the surgery itself. I often saw people – particularly my Dad – with broken limbs – which was the only comparison with that I could make – and for what I knew, he almost lived on as normal except for using crutches or having his hand in a splint/cast. He didn’t have his limb stuck in one place for weeks, didn’t need rehabilitation or anything, sometimes he’d even go to work or pick me up from school with Mum. I remember that my grandad, before I had the surgery, talked about it to me a little, and he said my legs would be in stagnation for a while. I didn’t know what stagnation was, so he explained to me that if I would spend all the time in one room, without seeing anyone, without ever going out, without being able to read anything, listen to music or radio, watch TV, talk to anyone, I would be in stagnation and that the same thing would be happening to my feet now. I thought that would be super scary if that happened to me, but didn’t really apply the allegory to my feet, or don’t think I did.

But it turned out my grandad had great intuition because, while it wasn’t as radical as what he described, my brain also went into some sort of a stagnation for all that time. As I said, my Mum was busy all the time with Sofi who was very demanding or at the building site of our new house or picking furniture for it etc. and all other people naturally also went on with their lives. I spent most of the time on my own, which I typically find absolutely fabulous, but not really when there isn’t much to do. My only regular company in those weeks was Polish Radio BIS, which I loved and listened to all the time and even called them and stuff. Sometimes Mum would get me talking books on tapes from the nearest library which had it, but I was done with them in no time as there was a limited amount of them you could borrow at once and I could listen to them all the time, while it wasn’t close enough that my Mum with her busy schedule could pop in there any time I wanted it. I had a lot of old children’s magazines in Braille, as well as a Dictionary of Foreign Words and Phrases which I got from a sort of organisation which printed it – I was always fascinated with words and wanted to have my own dictionary and that was the only one my Mum found out about that she could get me. – So I had that to read any time and I did, only I had a whole tall bookshelf of these children’s magazines and another one with all the volumes of the dictionary (Braille books are very clunky in case you don’t know so there are almost always multiple volumes even when it is a novel, let alone with something like a dictionary) and both of these shelves were quite a distance away from my bed. So I had to ask someone to give me something to read and as these things weren’t labelled in standard print, I’d often get the same thing to read multiple times because they’d just pick whatever was nearest randomly. A few times I attempted getting something myself, I slid off the bed and moved to the shelves on my butt so that I could get something specific from the lower shelves, but then I couldn’t make it back up on to the bed as my legs wouldn’t move almost at all and the casts were heavy enough that I couldn’t drag myself up on the arms. Eventually I managed it somehow one time I tried it and can’t remember how but that required a bit of inventiveness, haha, the more that at this time my Dad was back from work napping on my bed so I didn’t want to slog him with my leg accidentally, or with the book, lol. Sometimes Mum would bring Sofi to me and leave her with me but she was very small so that wasn’t often or for long. My class teacher visited me sometimes to help me catch up with what my class was doing, though that was rather rarely and more often when I was already out of the casts.

So I had rather little stimulation in general, not too much contact with people, and as I wasn’t very active either cognitively or physically, my circadian rhythm was crazy in that I slept very little so I often also had to figure out what to do with my stagnating brain at nights. All these things alone can contribute more or less to my sensory anxiety, and together they really made me feel like my nervous system was on fire all the time. My generalised anxiety and other mental health difficulties I was struggling with also got much worse, and I developed lots of weird specific phobias or the ones I already had to some small degree became much more of a problem, I still struggle some of these to a variable degree particularly the emetophobia but it’s much better most of the time. My thinking was generally super weird in a lot of ways, I can’t even describe it. And my imagination was extremely wild, which sometimes was very helpful, and other times very unhelpful. I didn’t have a computer yet, or any other technology really, my Mum had applied for funding for a computer and some specialised equipment for me earlier and it came right at the end of my cast stagnation, but it took a few more months until I had some training on how to use these things. I was suicidal for all sorts of reasons but also because I felt like an extreme burden for my family since they were so busy but also Mum had to help me with showering, and as we didn’t have any wheelchair for the occasion I also needed someone to transport me to the loo which sometimes was tricky when Dad wasn’t at home.

When the time came for me to have the casts taken off, and they actually got them off me, and the doctor who was on duty at the time was talking to my parents about me, I suddenly started crying and couldn’t stop. No one knew what was going on and my Dad was a bit annoyed as he didn’t understand why now that I’m no longer in the cast, I suddenly start crying. And I didn’t knew either but I was just crying and crying and crying like I was going to do this forever. Also now that I didn’t have the casts I realised that my feet were hurting a fair bit whenever I moved them. A few days after that I started rehabilitation and that was really scary too. The first few weeks it hurt like shit, probably not just or not at all as a side effect of the surgery but more because of the muscles in my whole legs not being able to move for so long. He wanted me to do a few squats during our first session already, and I was very surprised how am I going to do a squat if I’m not even able to stand up. It scared me a little but I figured he’s a physiotherapist so he knows what he’s saying, so I stood up rather confidently with his assistance and totally wasn’t ready for all the sharp pain that was coming. So I was very resistant to doing anything with him but I was also scared of the prospect of not being able to walk so I did it anyway and it felt like a torture, and any time I was waiting for him I was shaking like a leaf.

Years later, another orthopaedist said that because that Achilles surgery wasn’t effective, I should have another one called Grice-Green’s. I was still a minor then so I didn’t really have a say, but for some reason it never happened. And as long as I get to decide, it won’t. I don’t know what would have to be going on with my legs for me to have another surgery, someone would really have to give me a very good reason.

But I learned loads of things from that experience! I learned loads new, weird words and useless things. Some of these useless things interested me enough that I developed shorter- or longer-lasting interests in the very narrow fields they were connected to. πŸ˜€ I learned a lot about myself and the murky side of my brain, and got to test the limits of my imagination. I learned what it feels like to be suicidal. I’ve had depressive tendencies ever since but that was the first time I was actively suicidal. I learned lots of internal strategies to cope with boredom, though still this is one of the things I despise the most, the good thing of it is just that I’m not very easily bored at all thanks to this experience. All these things were very difficult, but also very enriching for my personality and my inner world.

My Dad was falsely accused of abusing me sexually

I still don’t know how exactly that happened. There was a school psychologist I started seeing when I got back to school after I recovered from the surgery. She was weird. Made a very strange impression on me. She had a weird way of talking, both in terms of modulation and the words she used, there was something very serious and pompous about her, and she always seemed very sad and very sad about anything you’d tell her. I’d always loved to make my therapists/psychologists laugh to lighten up the atmosphere when needed, and many of those I dealt with weren’t easy but I always succeeded and quite impressively, except for this one lady, I never heard her laughing not even a little bit. Perhaps also because, just like I said earlier, I myself was in a weird mental place at the time so not as capable of it. Sometimes when a class would behave badly she would come to the whole class and tell them how they should behave well, and one time she came to us – our class mostly consisted of boys and could be rather unruly sometimes. – The incident that she was called for included someone who had jabbed someone else with a pin. And, what stayed with me from that lesson, was how she addressed that person: “It’s not allowed to jab thy neighbour with a pin!” And no, I really don’t think she got “thy neighbour” or her general way of talking and acting directly from reading a lot of the Bible (she didn’t even say “Thou shalt not”), in fact my Mum said that to her she seemed like she had some strong preference for new age related things, which is possible, I was too young to see or not see that myself and that doesn’t matter, it was just funny and portrays her quite well.

Talking to her made me feel quite awkward as she herself would say very little and there was something very depressing about the whole experience. She asked me often about my relationships with my family and seemed to draw not the most favourable conclusions. At some point, I don’t know what led to it, but I was talking to her about how my Dad sometimes plays with me that he is a hamster and my fingers or toes are his food and bites them slightly and how I consider that funny. She didn’t seem to share my feelings about it. Either after this same appointment or the next one, she was also supposed to see my Mum to talk to her about my depression. And at the end of that appointment where she was supposed to see my Mum, she told me what she was going to tell my Mum. And among these things was one thing that made me feel sort of uneasy. She said that she’s going to tell my Mum about my Dad’s “erotic” behaviour towards me. I did very basically know what erotic was, and didn’t think it could have anything to do with my Dad and me. I suppose though I must have been thinking that she knows what she’s talking about and she wants to help me, or maybe after all I didn’t know exactly what the word erotic implied, anyway I said that okay, you can talk to my Mum about all this, and felt very happy that perhaps she’ll be able to help me somehow. Didn’t really know with what exactly, or the more how, but I definitely felt like I needed someone to help me so that was good that she wanted, right? I sat outside of her office as they were talking and I could hear that my Mum was crying and some broken sentences about something sexual, and how my Mum thinks it’s important to have physical contact with a child, especially when the child is blind and you can’t have eye contact or communicate things through body language. Mum cried afterwards too but I don’t think we talked about that much until later when my Dad learned about the accusations. It only sank in with me then, and I talked about that to Mum and told her that I didn’t say anything about such things, or nothing that I’d realise would be about it. I felt awfully guilty and sorry for Dad and couldn’t really understand the situation and how it happened. I still can’t fully. My Dad was mad and so I didn’t even talk much to him at the time but he wasn’t mad at me, only at the psychologist and the school. I apologised to him and things went back to normal.

One day during summer holidays I was at my grandma’s, when Mum came and called me to come quickly back home. When I came, there was some lawyer lady – I don’t know now what exactly her function was – who wanted to go into my room and chat with me. She asked me weird questions about my family and my Dad that seemed totally stupid to me and that I felt quite uncomfortable with – most of them weren’t even sexual I guess but just general about my home, but I can’t give you any examples. – Then she asked about me, how I was doing, if I was often sad or thought about death etc. I was all like: “Why???” I kept asking her directly why, but she wouldn’t say anything specific until finally she started asking me about some sexual things and Dad and then I had a lightbulb moment and remembered the situation with the psychologist. “Aha! Now I know why you came here!” So obviously I told her that no, my Dad is not an incestophile – well that wasn’t probably what I said but I got really quite mad – and told her a bit about my Dad and what he is and what he’s most certainly not. But then it turned out it wasn’t just that! Apparently, a girl I was closest with in the class – not really because I liked her so much but because as I joined this class she was the only other girl and was also visually impaired to a degree so she was most willing to help me get around, as she both was able to do it with the sight she had and could understand my situatioon better than the rest who were able-bodied. – I can’t say though that we got along well and I mostly hung out with her sort of out of duty and gratitude that she’s willing to help. But we didn’t have any common interests and clashed in terms of characters a lot. And I don’t know exactly what was the deal with her, were they asking her about an opinion on me, whether she saw something weird or what, anyway she apparently said to a teacher or someone else in school that I told her that I am going to hang myself! Really… If I wanted to kill myself I most definitely wouldn’t go this route. And I don’t think she’d be the first to know, haha. So I also gave the lawyer lady a piece of my mind about that (I wasn’t mad at her, obviously, but at the situation) and let her in on how I generally saw the situation between me and that girl. She seemed quite relieved and actually became more human after I told her that (I’m sorry to all the actual sexual abuse victims if it’s always the case with people who interview them that they appear so unfeeling and detached and difficult to connect to) and apologised for the fuss and made sure that I understood her motives which I did. Good thing that she actually decided to mention that to me, I’m curious how it would go otherwise.

The thing eventually ended well although I had to go to a psychological assessment or something and another psychologist was supposed to judge based on my behaviour whether my Dad was a paedophile, or maybe not.

Is there a lot to learn from such an experience? I know I learned one thing which is not really very good, or at least it’s not good that I had to learn it but the goodness or badness of the thing itself probably depends on the context, namely I learned not to trust therapists easily and be really, really, extremely careful of whatever I tell them, if it’s anything of significant importance, and make sure that they understood exactly what I wanted to say. That means therapy was generally a bumpy road for me because therapists want you to be spontaneous.

Β Β  I was treated “like a piece of furniture” by the superior of the boarding school

And bless her for that, because otherwise I might have been in there still, or gone totally bonkers if I haven’t already. πŸ˜€ The inventive “piece of furniture” analogy is my Mum’s, I just didn’t know how to put it in short. The whole thing is even more complicated than the incest drama and very specific to the environment it took place in – not in that such stories happen there frequently (I hope) but in terms of dynamics and the way it all happened – so I’ll spare you the whole picture and just say that whenn I was 17, the superior sister (this place was founded and at least partly led by nuns) decided a major change about what would be going to happenn to me, without taking anyone’s opinion on that into account. The thing was of huge significance for me, as, from what you already know, I struggled there already without major changes like that, and a lot of people actually did try to speak up on my behalf and tell her it wasn’t the best idea. But she knew what was good for me better than me, my Mum, the group staff or I suppose anyone else, despite working in there for only a year and having to do with me perhaps once or twice for longer than 5 minutes, and she was going to do that no matter what. After some time, she decided that, actually, no, she won’t. So I breathed a half-hearted sigh of relief – as there were already other major changes coming for the next school year, but at least the biggest one and such that was affecting me personally was a thing of the past. – Then in the end it turned out not to be so because sister changed her mind yet again, a day before the start of the school year, and decided that after all she does think that that change would be the best for me. My Mum, and one staff member who worked with me for many years and knew me well still tried to talk her out of it and my Mum kindly didn’t even let me know about the whole comotion, thinking that I’m probably feeling sick about school already anyway and hoping that they will be able to talk her out of it so I won’t need to know about that. Well this time she didn’t change her mind, so my Mum had to tell me about it. I honestly said I really couldn’t imagine how I was going to deal in there, entirely practically. It was also a time where I perhaps wasn’t as neurotic as I was in the integration school but felt very depressed and the thing was just totally beyond me, I didn’t know how I was supposed to cope, also with other things on top of it. Actually, as time went on, over the years rather than feeling more part of that place I felt more and more weary of all that and like I had less and less energy for coping. I had a brief period of intense escapism into all things esoteric, because I felt very lost and pretended I was an atheist or Wiccan or something, I didn’t even know what. I did lucid dreaming and out of body experiences whenever I could and used the kind of binaural sounds that can work like drugs. That all helped me going, but then I re-converted to Christianity with the guidance and help of my Mum and some other events that occurred and helped me come to this, and while that made me feel more of a purpose in my life, I wasn’t mature in my faith enough to use it like I did those other things, to help me cope in any way. Also my fazas were of some help, but generally I felt gradually more and more like I was slowly, lethargically sinking.

We talked and talked about that with Mum but nothing was coming out of it. My Dad came in to the kitchen and we filled him in and he was all indignant but didn’t see any other option than that I’ll have to carry on with that. My Mum said it’s not an option. My grandad happened to visit and we filled him in, he was raging and said it’s time for me to leave that place or else I’ll go mad and that he’d rather have me sane than academically accomplished. Which was a huge thing for such an intellectual like him to say but he always stands by me and sometimes I think that whatever I’d decide to do, even if it was a mass shooting, he’d say that I absolutely should do it if I want and that he also thinks it’s a good idea. πŸ˜€ But if you have only one person like this in your life, it’s not yet very harmful, I think it’s actually highly recommended as long as you have other, more critically thinking people around you and some reasoning skills of your own. He couldn’t do anything, but he hugged me and from his words and presence I felt the confidence that things can get better and that perhaps indeed I don’t have to, or shouldn’t even, go there.

So my Mum started looking for a different school for me which was obviously a trick, but in the end one was found, but I wrote about this fascinating situation many times before. The point is that, thanks to that sister, I got my sanity back! In a way, I’d like her to know that and sometimes I regret I didn’t send her some thank you letter or something. But I try to remember to pray for her. Another thing that we regret even more, is that we didn’t notify the headmistress about the event, about why exactly I left, so that no one else would have a similar situation, which they may be not as intolerant to as I was or not have parents who would take such strong action, but it’s still something that absolutely shouldn’t happen. Making decisions about your subjects may be a common practice in religious orders, but we were not nuns in training.

I learned from it that even the most awful, scary, enraging things can lead to the most fabulous things that you wouldn’t expect. Perhaps not always immediately, and you have to go through some things first but sometimes it really does happen. And that sometimes situations where someone wants to be malicious can grotesquely turn around.

Β Β  My friend, Jacek from Helsinki, passed away

You all regular readers know about Jacek. He was a good friend of mine that I met online shortly after leaving the school and had a lot in common with in that we both loved Cornelis Vreeswijk, learned Swedish, loved Finnish, vikings, all things Norse and had some Gothic tendencies – Gothic as in referring to the subculture, not the historical Goths. – He was actually Jacek from Poland, but a large part of the time when we knew each other he spent studying in Helsinki. He was also not the easiest person to interact with and there was a lot of clashing, he was a very strong character just as quirky as me but in his own unique way. He introduced me to so many new, fascinating things and had his own part in pulling me out of the black reactive hole I was in still at the time when I first met him. We made lots of happy, strange and funny memories together. But after a few years since our friendship started Jacek was diagnosed with a malignant bone cancer and a few months after that he progressed quite rapidly and passed away. It was a huge shock for everyone who knew him and I only recently realised that I didn’t process it fully. I was just in such deep denial of his death, it didn’t even fully register. Yes, I knew he was death but still couldn’t believe it, until earlier this year, and that was hard. He was so lively, fiery and spontaneous it felt like some physical law was broken when he died. But now it sort of makes sense that someone with such a huge personality wouldn’t live long, there can’t be too many suchh people on Earth at once, they wouldn’t fit.

His death taught me a very cliche thing that I knew but only then truly realised, because such a thing had never happened to me before – that yes, even people I am close to, they also die. – And it taught me even more about the importance of praying for the purgatory souls and how satisfying it can feel in making you feel useful for them.

I failed my maths final exam

I wrote about it quite recently so I won’t be going into much detail as you may know about it already. I was studying for it a lot, but knew from the beginning that I just may not pass it because I’ve always had huge difficulties with maths on a lot of levels. This wasn’t a big deal for me as I didn’t know what to do with my future yet anyway and I told everyone in my surroundings that I thought should know that in case I fail it, I won’t be trying to rewrite it until I clearly see the need for passing all my finals because I will want to do something that will require it and I will know what this something is. I failed indeed and quite spectacularly, which was sad but as I knew it could happen, I didn’t dwell much on it and as my score was so low, I was even more confident about doing, or not doing, what I intended. Turned out though that my family were less accepting about my decision than they seemed at first. They got over it quickly though, so that’s good, as while I was convinced I was not going to change my mind I don’t like when people feel bad because of me and it wouldn’t be fun to live in a conflict over such a thing for too long. I still haven’t passed it. Sometimes it contributes to making me feel like a failure but ultimately I try not to think to much about this.

It taught me that you doon’t always have to have a schematic life to have a good life. You don’t need a piece of paper to prove a skill you have if you can do something well. That’s something my Swedish teacher always said to me, as he knew I may not end up having a PHD. in linguistics or whatever else someone may have expected. And yeah, screw the education system. πŸ˜›

So that is, my lovely people, the conclusion of this very lengthy post! Well no, I’m just kidding a bit, I hope you don’t have a reason to agree with me and have only positive associations with your formal education. πŸ™‚

If you feel like this post needs a conclusion – which I guess I do after writing so much just about myself – let it be that it all really proves how our brains are extremely plastic – we’re learning something all the time, even from going crazy. –

And now, sleepy time for me, and in the meantime you tell me: how about your challenges, and in what ways did they improve the plasticity of your brain? How did they enrich you? I’m very curious. πŸ™‚

Ways of showing gratitude to others. And how about yourself? List of the former, and my (probably biased) musings about the latter.

Gosh, what a wordy and clumsy title! But I didn’t have any more graceful-sounding ideas and didn’t want it to be too bland either.

A while back, I bought myself another book to work with for my journal, and also for blog post inspirations, about the existence of which, again, I learned from Astrid at

A Multitude of Musings.

It’s Listify, written by Marina Greenway, and as you can guess from the title, it focuses mostly on lists. The first part of this book is all about gratitude, and the first list idea is the following:

Β Β  Ways I can show gratitude to myself and others

It’s important to show others we appreciate and care about them, but it’s equally important to acknowledge ourselves and all we do. List the ways you can do so, and challenge yourself to do one from each list everyday.

As for the challenging myself part, I wrote the original list in my journal a few days ago and decided to indeed do these things to show my gratitude to people. So far I don’t find it particularly difficult as it’s mostly my close family, and of course I’m doing the MIMRA which is also one huge act of gratitude but also a whole lot of fun for me. I suppose though with people I’d feel less comfortable around I’d have more problems with some of these points, but I’ll try anyway when there will be an opportunity, as gratitude is a good thing, obviously.

Below is the list of ways of showing gratitude to others that I’ve come up with so far.

Β Β  Gratitude to others

  • Β Β  Simply say “thank you” or acknowledge in any other verbal way that I appreciate what they did.
  • Give them an appreciative hug or show them affection in some other way.
  • Compliment or praise them, or say anything nice that could boost their mood or confidence.
  • Help in any way I can.
  • Be attentive to their needs and show them my interest in them and that I care about them.
  • Listen carefully and actively.
  • Do something that may make them happier or even just make them laugh or smile.
  • smile to them.
  • spend time with them.
  • Do random acts of kindness for them.
  • Be there for them when they need it.
  • Do the same thing for them that they did to me, if applicable.
  • Give them something nice that they will enjoy, like a care package.
  • Give some of my free time and energy to them, even when I could use it to do something else that I may like more.
  • Be patient with them.
  • Offer advice if wanted.
  • Remember about them – for example, when doing shopping for myself I may do it for them as well if they need it, or if I see something that I know they like I can get it for them, or at least tell them that I saw it and where so that they know I often think about them and know what they like. –
  • Write something nice about them, or for them, as writing often feels easier than talking to me.
  • Give them their favourite meal or treat.
  • Find a book or music they could like, again, to show them that I care and know something about them.

Can you come up with anything more? Please do share in the comments, unless you prefer to write a separate post and pingback, whatever feels better. πŸ™‚

Β Β  Self-gratitude

Now that was (and is) a tricky thing to me. Not just implementing it, but generally the concept. I don’t know, perhaps I’m seeing it in a very inflexible way, and most likely, just like I wrote in the title, my view of this is very biased, but I can’t really see much sense in self-gratitude. Maybe I just don’t understand it well. As I was preparing to write this post, after I read some things online about it, thinking that perhaps they will enlighten me (which they didn’t) I asked my Mum what she thinks about it, whether she has ever felt it, and if she has any ideas about how one could express it, and also how it’s different from self-care or taking pride in your accomplishments. My Mum had a similar view on this and actually started laughing and said that to her it also doesn’t make much sense, because according to her in a way it implies that there would be another self inside of you to whom you could be grateful for example for doing something you yourself wouldn’t think about doing, or wouldn’t be able. Like: “Oh, thanks, self, for reminding me that I should set my alarm at 6 AM, I don’t want to sleep in”. πŸ˜€ I mean, do any of you really think like this – say you’re driving somewhere, and instead of taking your usual route you have a gut feeling to take a roundabout one, and later you learn that on your usual route there was a huge traffic jam because there was an accident earlier – would you think: “Oh yay, thank me!”? If you would, it’s not at all that I think it’s wrong for anyone to do this and I think you shouldn’t, I’m just curious and would like to know because it’s certainly not my default reaction and I would probably burst out with laughter if I tried to force myself to it.

What I assume people understand as self-gratitude, is for example when you had an exam and passed it very well, you learned for ages until your brain got so swollen it nearly burst out of your skull and you mainly focused on this goal of passing this particular exam because it’s important for you, so perhaps you often refused yourself many things you liked and spent most of your time with your nose in the books despite you didn’t particularly enjoy it. But you did pass the exam and you’re euphoric, so now you can go for a huge dinner plus some very fancy coffee and an ice-cream dessert, then go to the spa and have a massage and then go shopping for things you really enjoy shopping for, because this is your way of thanking yourself for your perseverance, determination and for achieving your goal.

And that’s all good. But, just like I said earlier when asking my Mum, how’s that different from just regular self-care or celebrating your accomplishments? It seems like it should if it has a different name, and when I was thinking about a potential list of ways to show myself gratitude, I thought it was just a list of self-care activities.

Perhaps I don’t think in such a “Thank me” way, because I am a Christian, and rather than thank myself, a much more natural thing for me is to thank God. Like, when it’s a nice day and the weather is lovely and there’s a lot of crunchy, fallen leaves for Misha outside, I’d rather say “Thank you, God, for giving me the idea to go out and refresh my brain, and thank you for the lovely weather and that there are so many beautiful leaves for Misha here” than something like “Thank me for going out”. It just feels totally unnatural to me, and I’m not just talking about the “thank me” form which I’m mostly using in a humourous way to emphasise just how unnatural and awkward the whole thing seems to me. I may rather say: “Oh, I’m so glad I went out” or: “What a great idea I had that I got some leaves for Misha” (that’s still not my typical inner dialogue as I’m normally way more self-critical and sarcastic with myself but at least something I’m trying to aim for).

When thinking about any accomplishments, I don’t really think of them in a way that I’m grateful to myself for them. For example, I am quite proud of my language learning accomplishments but am not grateful to myself for them. It’s not my merit that I have good linguistic skills, I didn’t get to choose them at birth or program my brain to pick up languages easily. Neither is it really my merit that I’m learning Welsh now, because I wouldn’t be able to do it if the people who did the course wouldn’t create it, if my Swedish teacher didn’t show me how to learn a language on my own and didn’t always believe in me and that I can do it, if I wasn’t taught how to use technology and if my Dad wouldn’t be employing me so I could actually allow myself for paying for the courses, buying Welsh speech synths, Welsh books and what not without stressing myself about it. Thinking according to Christian faith, I wouldn’t even be able to take any action having all these things if I wouldn’t get the idea from Holy Spirit. Okay, I guess I could be grateful to myself for acting upon that idea and not wasting the skills I have, but in what special way should I show this gratitude to myself? Sometimes I also have a sort of self-gratitude feeling when I feel really euphoric about something so my self-esteem also goes up but that’s very much fleeting and not a mature, serious kind of feeling so the more I don’t know in what way I could act on it.

Going my Mum’s trail of thought, that it sounds like we should be grateful to some other self, well, perhaps that makes some sense when we think that our personalities are made up of different parts. There may be, speaking in a very basic way, a part of us that is more prone to do good things, and another one that makes us do things that we regret later. So we may be grateful to that “good” part. Perhaps that’s what it’s all about. Or I’ve mentioned on this blog sometimes how I have this part of myself that I call Bibiel, who is very childlike and humourous and eccentric and always talks about Bibiel-self in first person and who is like a mentally healthier sort of, less inhibited version of me whom I actually genuinely like. So maybe the clue is that I should feel grateful to Bibiel? Actually I sort of am, because without Bibiel I’m not sure where I’d be now, and Bibiel helps me with a lot of things. Perhaps I should be more grateful to my inner self-critic Maggie when she’s not as critical of me as she is usually, and maybe that will make her feel better?

My Mum goes as far as to say that all these self- things only make people more conceited. I think that’s a rather huge overstatement because it’s definitely important to be kind to yourself and love yourself, as much for your mental, physical and emotional, as spiritual wellbeing and even the wellbeing of others, though there is certainly a risk of this as these days we hear about alll things self- all the time and it’s easy to lose balance between what’s still self-love and what’s already conceit, in my opinion.

So my view of this is definitely strongly influenced by the fact that I’m a practicing Christian, someone who is not might think differently, as well as the fact that I have avoidant personality disorder, which has quite a strong influence on how I feel about myself. And it’s because of AVPD that I think I may be biased here.

So I’d like to hear your thoughts about this. Do you practice self-gratitude? If so, in what ways and how would you define it? In what ways would you say is it different from self-care and celebrating your accomplishments? Am I missing out on something huge here? Let me know. I may not be able to share your opinion, but that doesn’t matter as far as I’m concerned, and who knows, you may even convince me. πŸ™‚ Oh yeah, and let me know if you can think of some other ways to show gratitude to other people perhaps ones that you use yourself that I didn’t list.

 

I can deal with it.

I thought that I’d write another prompt-inspired, or at least partly inspired, post today. It’ll probably be long, so get yourself something yummy to drink and a snack and brace yourself.

The prompt I chose comes from one of my two books of journaling prompts – The Goddess Journaling Workbook by Beatrice Minerva Linden, and goes as follows:

“I can deal with it. You can. (…) Think about something which overwhelms you and imagine your life when that issue is resolved.”

I thought I’d twist it a little, or maybe a lot. Instead of writing about something currently overwhelming, I am going to write about something the perspective of which was always incredibly overwhelming for me, and I never thought I could deal with it, but, as it seems, better or worse, I can.

This thing is using my iPhone. As those of you who know me well or are regular readers know, I’d been loyal to my good old Nokia with Symbian OS for over 10 years, and I don’t even mean Nokia as a brand but one particular Nokia phone that I wasn’t changing as there was just no need for it. It was my first phone that I ever got and the only one until June this year. It was possible because, while in the past, my Nokia was through all sorts of things with me and survived a lot, in the last five years I used it very little. The people I usually text or call are my family, and now that I live with them there was little need for me to text or call them, and as I hate phone calls and always have the computer or Braille-Sense with me, I was always telling people that it’s easiest and fastest to reach me via email anyway. So it had very tranquil and idyllic retirement years with very little to do. I always joked that I stick to it because of my undying love for Finland (as Nokia is from Finland). But in fact I simply felt like, since Symbian had died, I had few alternatives.

As many of you also may know, the reason why I didn’t have a smartphone unlike a lot of blind people do now was that I had rather poor experience with touch screens when playing around with phones of other people, whether Androids or iPhones, they seemed extremely abstractive to me as I have poor spatial orientation and a coompletely flat surface doesn’t help you feel more oriented, and my coordination/fine motor skills are also a challenge – it’s generally a very mild and apparently not even diagnoseable problem, yet at the same time challenging enough that it affects my functioning in some ways and is evident for those who know me closely in real life. At the same time I had a terrifying feeling, that after all, at some point my Nokia will eventually die, and I felt clueless what I’ll do then. I contemplated buying another, used Nokia online, the same model as mine, or perhaps, what I would truly hate to do, get myself one of a few smartphones that have been developed with the blind (especially older blind people in mind). Why was it such an awful thought for me? Well, because the target market of these products is pretty small, they’re very expensive compared to their actual abilities and specs. They’re Android phones and run some pretty outdated Android versions, have very few capacities so you can barely call it a smartphone really, can be very sluggish, but they do have a physical keyboard and typically come with a screenreader onboard and running from the start, as far as I know. Apart from the physical keyboard, such a thing wasn’t really what I’d need. If I have to have a smartphone, I’d rather have it actually smart rather than just pretending to be smart and cost more than an averagely smart phone. I also contemplated on and off purchasing the dreaded iPhone and just using it to an extend that it would be possible for me. Which still felt far from satisfying because I didn’t feel like I’d be able to do more with it and iPhones are not the cheapest, and I’d probably be a little frustrated having a premium phone and not really being able to use its full potential, just because there wasn’t a better alternative for me. Yes, I’d of course heard that you can use iPhone with a Bluetooth keyboard, but I’d also thought somehow that the things you can do with it this way are limited quite a lot. But at least, I figured, I could learn iPhone better than I could Android phone, as I’ve heard about a lot of blind people who were less tech savvy or perhaps had some coordination issues like me or other motor problems, and were scared of the big wild world of smartphones and it took them a lot of time to make the transition, and found it easier to find their way around iOS rather than Android as it’s more accessible and kind of friendlier for this group of people.

So I was happy while my Nokia was still alive and clinging to it for dear life and praying that it would last for as long as possible, as I couldn’t make up my mind for years and felt mortified of the after-Nokia life. Deep down I knew I should change my phone or at least attempt to change it already while Nokia was still alive so I could see if it’s actually doable for me or should I better stick to archaic Symbian phones but I couldn’t get over my anxiety and doubts and thus had no motivation.

Despite that, it wasn’t my trusty Nokia’s death which finally prompted me to make a decision, which was good as otherwise it would probably be a little traumatising. I can’t really pinpoint what exactly it was, perhaps I just matured enough and ruminated it through thoroughly enough to be ready to make the big jump, or, which I personally think is more likely, it was a combination of different things.

My Nokia was visibly (or rather audibly) doing much worse, or to be more exact it wasn’t really the Nokia itself but its charger deteriorating. Whenever I plugged it in, it constantly emitted a high-pitched, ultrasound but nevertheless audible peep, just like a lot of obsolete chargers do. It was annoying but, worse still, it wasn’t even me who was most annoyed by it, but Misha! What better motivation for me to change my phone than have Misha tell me that he doesn’t like it! πŸ˜€ Very unfortunately, the power strip with the charger was right next to my bed, and on its – the strip’s – other side was Misha’s snack bowl, so whenever he had a snack, or slept in my room (his bed is up on my bed) and I happened to have the charger plugged in, he was clearly upset or even avoided coming near, and it took some time to figure out what was the problem. Well I’m still not perfectly sure, he didn’t tell me, but he always calmed down a bit when I switched it off and after I ditched the charger the problem magically disappeared so…

All the cool kids in Sofi’s class have iPhones. Sofi doesn’t aspire to be cool, I mean she already is in a way but doesn’t meet all the requirements, the key one being that the cool kids don’t really like her and are jealous of something about her, I guess it must be her confidence and perhaps that she’s so tall and has her own fashion style, but nevertheless the appeal of iPhone was huge for her. So last school year my parents prommised her that if she’ll have a certificate with honours, they’ll buy her an iPhone. She didn’t really, because there was lockdown and she had remote schooling and she didn’t do really well with this grade-wise, but she said that she sort of did and my parents didn’t double check, and bought her an iPhone, although a used (very heavily, as it seems) one and not in the best condition (so typical of my Dad πŸ˜› ).

Sofi kindly let me play around with her phone and VoiceOver (the built-in screen-reader in most Apple products) a lot, and I asked her tons of questions while she was also figuring out how to use it so I could get a better idea what it’s like, though Sofi wasn’t really particularly knowledgeable or exhaustive at answering my questions nor was she a good teacher. The whole idea was scaring me big time but at the same time I was feeling more and more like I’d actually like to try it out for myself and have my own iPhone, at least for a while, to see how much I can get out of it, how much I could achieve.

Finally, some time later I read about the new iPhone SE and that it has a physical Home button, unlike most other newer models, and read a review of it written by a blind guy who actually has… er… apraxia? (I guess, or something similar) and so definitely has coordination and motor difficulties bigger than mine. He seemed a long-time iPhone user and really liked the new SE, and that made me think. ‘Cause if he has apraxia and can deal with it, why can’t I? I mean, yeah, it’s possible that I can’t, because even if my difficulties are milder than his we’re still different people and there may be things that I find more difficult than he does or just differently difficult, but isn’t it a huge miss not to try it if blind people with apraxia do? I would probably regret it my whole life if I didn’t, especially that for most blind smartphone users, their smartphones are more than just devices for communication and such but also help make things easier in daily life, like recognising bar codes, to give you an example off the top of my brain, or doing other things that otherwise may be only doable with some fancy specialised devices.

So, all jittery, on 12th June I went to the nearest Apple store and got an iPhone with all the necessary accessories plus a Logitech Bluetooth keyboard.

It was all very different than what I imagined it to be.

My Mum helped me set it up even though she didn’t have an iPhone in her hand for longer than a few seconds ever before, and it all went well. I remember my cousin was staying for the weekend at Sofi’s and I had a proper cheerleader team consisting of Mum, Sofi and Dominika – my cousin – supporting me morally and helping practically as I tried to familiarise myself with iPhoneland. The first few days were so hectic and all over the place and it was all so abstractive, but, and it was very much an uphill struggle all the time but at the same time a very rewarding one and I never had weird problems like you sometimes do when acquainting yourself with a new device/technology that something is not working and you have no clue why, whether it’s your ignorance or the thing itself being so buggy or glitchy. Here the only things that went wrong were only down to me not knowing something which made things less stressful and easier.

I hate any major changes and typically don’t deal well with them, and to add to it I had a fresh but really nerve-wracking experience of transitioning computers earlier this year – and that’s only a Windows 7 laptop to a Windows 10 desktop, and it was harrowing! I may be not a tech geek but I’m also not totally clueless, but found it difficult to adapt probably because the whole process was very much over-extended and there were a lot of major glitches and other stressful stuff going on with this new computer thing.

The leap from Nokia to iPhone felt much more intimidating, and the change in terms of how my whole life could change due to this felt infinitely more significant, and so I expected being just the same bundle of nerves this time, especially that the level of difficulty of this challenge was waaay higher, but perhaps because there weren’t any major problems that would be beyond my control, and I didn’t feel pressured that I needed to learn it quickly, I wasn’t a bundle of nerves. Yes, I was anxious, I couldn’t sleep, I bit my nails raw as I always do when things are a-changin’, but the dominating feeling I had was some sort of healthy excitement, rather than pure freak out mode which is typical of me with huge changes. What surely helped me was that, as I said, I didn’t feel the pressure. I told myself that there’s no rush with it and if I decide that iPhone is not for me, it’s okay, I can sell it, I can give it to Sofi, I can throw it in the loo, I don’t have to feel obliged to anything, no oone can make me like or use it other than myself. I gave myself a month for at least the initial figuring out whether it’s worth exploring further or whether I want to give up on it. Already after a week or so, even though I was still struggling a lot with learning to use it, I was sure that I was not going to sell it and that I’ll stick to it, even if my usage of it will be limited by my limitations. I quickly grew to like it, probably largely because it provided me with the possibility of finally being able to listen to my music at night on something else than my loudly humming computer and because learning new things about it was (and continues to be) quite rewarding.

My Mum helped me a lot in the first days and then later with various tests and experiments I was undertaking, as did Sofi (I really don’t think it’d go as smoothly as it did if I didn’t have Sofi nearby to consult with sometimes).

I struggled, and still do, with some gestures. Actually, to an extend, I struggle with all gestures, even basic flicking/swiping and can get lost on the screen, which can be frustrating, but not hugely because I use a physical keyboard most of the time anyway, and even if I don’t, with more basic activities it’s usually somehow manageable and I do try to use my iPhone just via the touch screen and not run for a keyboard in every single situation when I don’t have it at hand and I need to do something on my phone, or for Mummy when something is not doable from the keyboard, although it does take me significantly more time than with the keyboard, and even with the keyboard I still do things way faster on the computer so I don’t have the experience of many people that it’s more convenient and faster to do things on the phone, it’s just totally the opposite for me. Longer writing/editing is the prime example. I mean from the on-screen keyboard it’s a torture but I don’t really know why it’s such a pain in the brain for me to do it from keyboard, but it’s really a lot of hassle and a good patience training.

But I consider myself a fairly efficient iPhone user by now nevertheless, perhaps not necessarily advanced but I do know where everything is in it, how to use things properly, how it works in theory, dare I say better than some sighted users I know, what all the settings do and how to change them, how all gestures work in theory, how to do everything with VoiceOver etc. etc. Though it’s not a huge achievement in itself because, apart from learning the touchscreen for me, the system itself is very intuitive in my experience. A huge help and source of knowledge in this for me was AppleVis, which is a website with all sorts of information on accessibility of Apple products for visually impaired users.

One of the more difficult things for me at the beginning was the so called rotor in VoiceOver (this is a feature that makes it possible to change different settings of VoiceOver), and it seems like I wasn’t alone with it at all. To move between different rotor settings you have to move both your hands in a clockwise or counter-clockwise motion, people often explain it that it’s like turning a door knob. It felt very abstractive to me at first, then it made sense to my brain and imagination, but my hands responded with: “What the flip are you saying?!” I just couldn’t make it happen in the outside world for the life of me! But then I learned that you can change the gesture for rotor and that saved me. These days I can sort of make it with the original gesture but it’s too much thinking and trouble for me to put up with for such a vital thing because I do use the rotor a lot.

And I had to change a lot of other things as well to be more suitable for me because of what is not really doable for me and am so glad that these things actually are changeable.

My Mum says that she’s never seen it with me that I’d change my mind on something so radically in such a short time because from someone who thought smartphones are evil I suddenly magically changed into someone who claims that iPhones are the best and who likes Apple (even though I am not planning to equip myself with other Apple products any time soon but, as you can see from this post, you never know, right?…)

Despite I do have more or less touch screen trouble all the time, I use my iPhone extensively now, the more that I have set it up with my Braille-Sense, so these days more often than using the Logitech Bluetooth keyboard I use Braille-Sense to navigate on the screen and also to read what’s on the screen as I prefer to read things myself a lot of the time. And it’s easier to use it with the Braille-Sense as a physical keyboard. I only take the Logitech with me if I’m going out somewhere and really need keyboard because it’s very slim, dust-proof and not as valuable and flimsy as Braille-Sense.

I have got myself a great speaker and headphones just for the iPhone so that I can enjoy my music, especially overnight, even more. I have created Family Cloud for myself and Sofi, because my Mum is very wary of Sofi using the Internet and wants her to be safe and not overdose on screentime, and this is the only way which she agreed for Sofi to have any access to the Internet in her phone at all, so I monitor her screentime usage and do the bad guy job but also the good guy because otherwise she couldn’t really do much with her phone except for calling and texting.

I feel like I may need to start cutting down on my own iPhone screentime soon because I’ve become totally addicted to a game called BitLife lately (if you’ve ever played Alter Ego it’s something similar only more extensive and detailed). πŸ˜€ Just like Sofi is addicted to Brawl Stars.

So yeah, to sum up this elaborate post, my experience has shown that I can deal with it! And I feel really happy about it. I think I can even say proud and it won’t be a very big overstatement. I feel so especially because, except for the help of my Mum and Sofi’s, and referring a lot to AppleVis, I didn’t have any more external help, I mean, a lot of blind people have some training. I didn’t have that, and still, I figured it out. Perhaps if I did have someone who would come to me and show me things I could be better at it, but somehow I feel really sceptical.

Did I imagine that it could be this way if I managed to overcome the whole overwhelming touch screen hurdle? To a degree, yes. I knew that if I could make friends with iPhone it could potentially change my life in a good way and be very enriching. But I guess I didn’t imagine that it could be such a big change.

What’s something that you find very overwhelming and difficult to deal with, and how do you imagine your life if you could get rid of the problem? Or what was such a thing for you, and why/how did things change so that you now know you can deal with it? πŸ™‚

My core strengths.

A while back, I wrote about

my core values

using Hannah Braime’s book The Year of You as an inspiration. Today, I thought I’d publicly tackle the very next prompt from the same book, which is very similar and asks about “What are your core strengths? (…)”.

The author suggests using the

Via Strengths Survey

for those who are not familiar with the concept.

I did this prompt in my diary before, and was not familiar with the strengths thing, so I did the test, and if you haven’t so far and would like to know about your strengths and share them in the comments – give it a go. πŸ™‚ – Unlike many other personality tests, it seems to be quite reasonable or at least my results make a lot of sense to me. So here’s what Via Character thinks to be my core/signature strengths and what I think about it, join in and let me know about yours and how you feel about them. πŸ™‚

Β Β Β Β Β  Perspective.

Perspective is definitely something important for me. I like to look at things from different perspectives and angles, think out of the box, put myself in others’ shoes. Via Characters says that if your core strength is perspective, it means that people come to you for counsel and advice. Well yeah, a lot of people do and I sometimes wonder why because I’m not that very experienced in life at all. It especially makes me laugh how a lot of people, including my own mother, come to me to rant or ask for advice when they have problems in their relationships with their significant others. It’s funny because I’ve always been single and people ask me sometimes as if I was some couple therapist or something. It’s funny and sometimes I find it challenging because if a person has come to me with this they expect some sort of help and I’m always worried that I won’t be able to do that so I try my best to empathise with them and imagine myself in the same situation even if it’s very abstractive because I never experienced anything like it. But if people ask me so often, I figure I must be good at it, after all. No idea if that’s true though. πŸ˜€ I like to imagine how it must be to be other people, which helps me to be more empathetic. I think I am more empathetic because of my imagination than because of actual ability to feel the same things as others do. I like my often broad way of thinking. But I must say it was a surprise for me that perspective is my #1 strength.

Β Β  Kindness.

This was another sort of surprise for me, because, yeah, I do try to be kind and helpful to people, but I somehow wouldn’t think of it to be as strong a trait in me to be considered a core strength. On the other hand a lot of people tell me that I’m kind, and my Mum is always extremely kind to people and goes out of her way to help them so I may have it after her to an extend. I often find it difficult though to be as kind to people as I’d like to be and express my kindness fully, because of my struggles with human interactions and expressing emotions, so to some people I come across as icy and not particularly kind.

Β Β  Humour.

This is a trait I feel really grateful to have. It is one of my most helpful and most used coping skills. I think if I didn’t have a sense of humour and a distance to things my life would be much more difficult. As it is, things can still be difficult, but I can find funny/absurd things to it anyway and I don’t have to put an effort into finding them which would be difficult when you’re depressed, I just notice them anyway. I believe it must be so much worse to have depression in particular when you have no sense of humour to help you out, not even the most cynical and dark one. Actually after some thinking I realised that what I just wrote sounded like cynical or dark humour is worse than any other but in fact I think it’s far more superior and practical in life. πŸ˜€

Β Β  Creativity.

I’m no artsy type, or as Sofi hilariously calls it “plast plast” (as in plasticine, there was a TV programme years ago called “Plastelinek I Przyjaciele” (Plastelinek And Friends), where Plastelinek was a sort of creature made of plasticine and he encouraged kids to do art and visited schools and when he was excited about something he exclaimed “Plast plast!) Sofi is very plast plast, but I never was and never even particularly wanted to be. I used to do some music but was very mediocre at it, perhaps except for singing judging from people’s reactions but I didn’t particularly enjoy in the long-term any of the ways of making music that I tried, and decided that I feel much better as a listener and observer of it rather than a performer. I’ve done some creative writing but have always felt very self-conscious about it and don’t think it’s particularly good, and now I do much less of it. Yet I still consider myself very creative because of how I think. I have lots of ideas, I am a synaesthete and I love to play around with words. I have weird associations with things, even beyond the synaesthesia, which enable me to see things differently than most people may. I have (or at least used to have, as I’m still in a very painful limbo) fazas, which have always been a huge boost for my creativity. And I’m very imaginative. I think it’s enough to have the right to call oneself creative.

Β Β  Judgment.

I consider myself a good judge of character indeed. Other people seem to agree with that a lot too. I think it’s a very useful trait to have. I like to observe people and think what they might be like. I also have the whole name and personality theory that you know about if you’re a regular reader, and if you don’t, better don’t get me started as I can’t go on about this for ages. πŸ˜€ I used to trust in this ability of mine a bit too much though, usually without even realising it, and instead of thinking that the person might be as I think they should be given my observations/any other evidence for that that I may have, I readily assumed that they must be how I imagined them to be. A lot of the time, I was right, but I had to have a few strong reality checks before I realised what I was actually doing and that I didn’t have to always be right because people can seriously be so complicated. I still love to figure out people’s characters and play around with the name characterisations but it’s not like I start out with the assumption that it has to be how I think, it’s more like a help for me with what I can possibly expect from a person but I don’t form my opinion about people based on what I imagine they must be like. It’s also a good coping skill for me which is why I used it to such an extend. I like to know what someone may be like, their reactions to things etc. in advance, it feels safer. This judgment thing also prevent me from disliking people. A lot of people who are socially anxious or struggling with similar things say they don’t like people and I can very well understand it. But while mingling with people is an awful chore for me, I love to analyse their behaviours, observe people, they can be so very fascinating! So I just can’t say I don’t like or hate people! I am also very careful when making any more important decisions, and careful with everything really, and have to consider everything when making a decision. Like yesterday, I was facing a potentially at least somewhat life-changing decision and I’m still digging deep into it, learning about all pros and cons and still haven’t made the final, actual decision.

In conclusion, overall I think this was pretty accurate, and I feel very grateful for these strengths I have and that I can make use of them.

Now you tell me about yours. πŸ™‚

 

 

My top 5 core values.

I haven’t written in quite a while, so I thought I’d do some longer piece today using one of the journaling workbooks. This time, I chose a prompt from The Year of You by Hannah Braime, which goes as follows:

What are your top five core values? Core values are the qualities and experiences that are most important to us to embody and have present in our lives. These might include things like trust, love, connection, freedom, growth, etc. (…)

I’ve written such a list of values already in my diary a while ago, but here I’ll try to expand on the topic of each of them at least a bit so that this post is more substantial. In my diary I also mentioned some of my negative core values, but here I decided not to do so for a few reasons, but mostly because typically when we think core values we think about the positive and helpful ones.

Β Β  Belief in God and Christian values

This is extremely important to me. As I wrote in the post about the roles I play, I may not always feel like I’m doing a great job with this, but nevertheless, I’m trying to do my best and do and think what and how I believe a Christiann should do and think. Obviously I don’t only mean things like praying or going to church, but also things like being helpful to other people, not judging them, making big and small decisions in my life so that they’re intact with my conscience and Christian rules, like not voting for a party who promotes killing unborn children or not celebrating Halloween. It’s also an important quality for me in other people which I deeply respect, but at the same time I have no problem associating with people who believe in God differently or believe in a different God, or don’t believe in any God whatsoever. Some Christian people have a weird problem with that but I think that, while common values of this importance in friendship make things way easier, having some different values and beliefs can make things more interesting, as long as both sides are willing to respect each other and not argue about that. Which sometimes means it’s just safer not to discuss the topics in which your opinions differ, or otherwise you just most definitely will argue, while at other times exchanging your different beliefs can be enriching and fascinating. In short, this is the most important value, or perhaps I should say set of values I am always trying to follow in my life, with varying success, also probably the most difficult to follow, but normally if something I’m making a decision about is contrary to these values, I am not going to do this.

Β Β  Intelligence, versatility and open-mindedness.

I’m putting them together because while they’re three different things, I think as values they have a whole lot in common. Intelligence is a quality I really appreciate having, as it’s proven so helpful for me in countless situations. I guess it’s my biggest strength and one of my most effective protective mechanisms, and seems like one of the things that people value me for. My brains are a crucial part of my identity, therefore my brain health is important to me and I’m utterly scared of all sorts of neurodegenerative diseases. I also very highly value intelligence in other people and love having such people around me. It’s a very important quality in a friend for me. As for open-mindedness, I value thinking outside of the box, outside of my own perspective, or just in some unobvious way. It isn’t always easy, as it’s in our nature to think from our own point of view, and it can feel very abstractive to do it the other way around, but it’s an intriguing brain challenge and can be a powerful experience. Similarly, I appreciate people who are capable of doing so. The more so that, as a blind, mentally ill and just all round very quirky person with strange experiences and ideas, it seems like my perspective is not always easily understandable for other people, so it’s great when someone does take an effort to try and understand things from my point of view. Or even not from my point of view, but generally when I see someone who can easily think very flexibly, I have a lot of admiration for such a person. I think the most open-minded person in this way that I know was my Swedish teacher and I often think that if not his open-mindedness, his courage in taking up different, weird challenges with me and his flexibility of thinking my Swedish learning may have been much more difficult, or I may have even become completely discouraged from learning languages altogether, and this is not at all an overstatement, in case you’re new here and don’t know my a bit tumultuous language learning history and are wondering. πŸ˜€ By versatility I mean taking an interest in lots of different things, as well as having knowledge about them, or being capable of doing lots of different things. This is a very impressive quality for me and I always say that it’s one of the most important qualities for me in a faza object, haha, or at least they always do end up being quite versatile people. I do have a whole lot of different interests, and I believe I know a fair bit also about things that don’t directly interest me quite as much, but I am somehow not sure I am quite as versatile as I would like to be. Still, I am probably more versatile than most people I know in person.

Β Β  Traditions.

Yeah, I often say when someone asks me about my views, usually in the context of politics, that I am an open-minded traditionalist. I like combining innovation with tradition. In any field, be it music, religion, food, politics, baby naming, language, fashion or interior design, etc. Always with a bit more of tradition than innovation, but enough innovation that it doesn’t feel plain, boring, or, God forbid, totally backward, but tasteful, fresh, niche and unexpected. I’m thinking about tradition and traditionalism here as a very broad thing. My religious beliefs are very traditional, apparently these days they might even classify as orthodox for some Christians, though I personally don’t consider myself orthodox, however I admire truly orthodox (not to be confused with fanatic, as these are yet another kettle of fish) Christian people. I love folk music, which speaks for itself, folk is obviously traditional, though just as I said earlier I do like tradition with innovation so things like neofolk, electrofolk, folk pop, folk metal etc. are close to my heart and brain just as well. I am passionate about keeping endangered and minority/indigenous languages alive, and same applies to all sorts of cultural traditions. I love learning about folklore of different areas and people’s customs, and always feel sad whenever I hear about such things extincting, though a lot of such traditional treasures – especially languages – are so unbelievably resilient and can thrive in the most unfavourable circumstances. – By the way I think we humans can really take an inspiratioon from languages, when we’re going through rough things in life. πŸ™‚ People typically think of trees, especially oaks, as symbols of resilience, but I think of languages. Oh yeah and on a more personal level I absolutely dread changes and have a hard time adapting to them, which I think also goes in line with the whole traditional thing, though probably has a bit different etiology. πŸ˜€ However it’s not like I’m totally against change, if I can see its positive aspects, just that it’s a totally dreadful process and adjusting to it usually takes me ages and a lot of rumination in the meantime.

Β Β  Helpfulness.

I even like the way the word helpful looks in English. I have fun synaesthetic associations! πŸ˜€ Would describe them to you but it’s too complicated and would take up too much space and this post is not about this. That’s why I wrote “helpfulness” rather than “helping people” which would probably look a bit more natural. I really like that feeling, when you know you have helped someone. Well I guess it’s a natural thing for all of us who are empathetic beings to have that feeling and to like it. This thing alone can drive us to want to be more helpful. I don’t know, however, if I help people as much as I could. I often feel effectively inhibited from doing it by different factors. I am rubbish at helping people in person because of all the difficulties I have with communicating with people like social anxiety. I have a hard time initiating the simplest conversations with most people, so while I am a good observer and very often easily notice that someone may need some kind of help, I don’t know how to offer it to them, or how to ask them what they need, or don’t know what to do about it altogether, or maybe even know but it feels too scary and overwhelming a process so I only watch the situation from a distance hoping that there will be someone else who can help them and feeling awful for not helping them myself. If I do try to make the effort and help them, I feel awful for helping them not the right way, or not adequately, or making things worse rather than better. Also I usually feel like I’m not even the right person to help people because of my own various limitations and that I just won’t be able to give them the help they need. Thankfully there are some areas where I do feel a bit more confident when helping people, like listening to people (unless they clearly expect me to say something, as then I usually feel like there’s nothing I can say that could be particularly helpful), or supporting people online, or helping people financially, or sharing something with them, or sharing some of my skills with them, with the latter I’m thinking things like translating something for my Mum, for example. These are usually very small areas and I feel like most people help others much more, but I comfort myself in that at least a lot of the people whom I have helped have said I was helpful to them so perhaps my help is more a quality over quantity kinda thing. I’ve always lived by that rule, as quantity is something largely abstractive to me, so if it seriously works like this with my help, it’s probably not as bad as I usually imagine. πŸ˜€

Β Β  Family.

I actually wondered whether I should really include this value or perhaps leave it out and write about something possibly more interesting, because this whole family thing is complex and I’m not sure it’s indeed this high among my values, but I decided to write about it nevertheless, because even though I struggle with sense of belonging and don’t really feel a strong connection to my extended family, my closest family are pretty much the only people in real life that I’m close to and they are important to me, also I do respect all of my family, and am loyal to them, never mind that I don’t really feel anything more towards most of them. Also family as a more general term – as in roots, origin, heritage etc. – is an important thing for me. Loyalty towards family is, as I said, an important thing to me and I think family members sort of owe it to each other. I try to keep good relationships with them as muchh as it’s possible, though I don’t give a shit about it if they don’t try as well. My most immediate family – by which I mean my parents and siblings and grandparents – are people for whom I am capable of making a lot of sacrifices, for example attending family gatherings even when I don’t feel at all like doing this mentally and have to deal with the consequences of this afterwards, which include a substantial increase in Maggie’s (my inner critic) activity, feeling mentally and physically drained and a general brain overload. I know they won’t really care about my actual presence there in itself, but if I won’t be there they’ll have a problem either with me that I am so unfeeling and neglectful, or with my Mum, which I don’t understand, it appears that some of my family think that somehow my Mum is to blame if I don’t appear on their birthday party. I want to spare her that, because she has so much stronger ties with her family, so unless I really really can’t, or it’s someone I can’t be bothered about, like some people from my Dad’s side of my family whom I have a hard time genuinely respecting, I just deal with it and go. It’s awful, it’s pointless and I don’t think they realise how much mental energy it sometimes can cost me while it’s happening as well as before and afterwards (though perhaps it’s not okay that I actually expect people to care, and most likely makes me sound terribly whiney,) but I do this because I feel obliged towards them as my family. I also deeply value the connection I have with my Mum, she is so very important to me, as well as Sofi. Sofi is very valuable.

So there you have it, these are the top five of my values.

What are yours? Have you thought about this before and made a more comprehensive list?

 

Question of the day.

Hi people! πŸ™‚

Describe to me, what is your family like?

My answer:

Depends which side of the family we’re talking about. My Mum’s family are emotional, exuberant, touchy-feely (my Mum’s is the exact opposite of touchy-feely but the rest of them are), caring, sometimes way too caring about other people’s business and meddling into things that don’t concern them. They are very spontaneous and change their minds all the time, especially my Mum and her siblings, and as a consequence, they’re also very moody. They’re sentimental and almost all of them are easily moved and cry, They have a tendency to impose their own opinions on others but usually aren’t even fully aware of the extend of it and are well-meaning. They say they’re typical eastern Slavs as they have roots in all of the eastern Slavic countries plus Lithuania. They like to dance, have fun and many of them are a bit impulsive. They are all religious and very serious about it and have a very genuine relationship with God. My grandad is a bit of an exception, as he is an introvert, not quite as chatty and much more of a loner, deeply thinking through everything he’s going to say and a bit melancholic, he’s also much less emotional and makes a very haughty and proud impression, which is absolutely correct, but it doesn’t mean he can’t be very loving and caring when he wants to. Most of them are very intelligent and appreciate intelligent conversations, highly value knowledge and have a need for beauty in their lives. They are mostly traditionalists. They have a great sense of solidarity and genuinely like to meet up. They can be quite overwhelming and I don’t feel much of an emotional connection with them, which probably just stems from my lack of sense of belonging in general rather than anything else, but I much prefer my Mum’s family to my Dad’s and have a bit better contact with them. They’re more open-minded and just kinder and more genuine and I respect them far more.

My Dad’s family is quite different. They are secretive but in a weird way. They have those strange cliques where someone is talking to X, but not to Y because they had an arguement with Y in 1993. So you’ve got to be careful when inviting people sometimes, ’cause you can end up with a roomful of very emphatically quiet people. They do like to meet up though, nevertheless, and also have quite a strong sense of community, they know a lot about their ancestors and are proud Kashubs (though only my gran can actually speak Kashubian fluently and uses it in daily life in a serious way). They are narrow-minded and not the most subtle people in the world, they even always have such a weird way of talking to each other as if they were constantly mad or unfriendly at best. They are rather superficial in their judging of others or making their opinions on anything, it seems like they can’t have a deeper look into anything, and there is something cold, coarse and I’d even say unfeeling about them. Like, you wouldn’t go to my gran, or not even to my Dad (though he’s quite different than most of his family because of interacting so much with Mum’s family, and has been kind of polished over the years), anyway, you wouldn’t go to any of them if you had some problem and wanted someone to seriously listen to you and be compassionate and comforting. They can’t listen, only talk about themselves. They’re kinda self-absorbed and have a very stereotypical, one-dimensional view of the world and people. Politically, most of them are rightists and some are leftists but in overall views on life they all are very conservative, and not quite like my Mum’s family for whom their traditions are very valuable and of emotional significance but it seems more like some habits they stick to just for the sake of it, and have a hard time making any changes to their thinking or acting. They like to gossip. Sometimes when people gossip, it’s interesting to listen to because even if it’s not true, interesting stories come out of it and it’s intriguing to think of it what of it might actually be true and what exactly are the people about whom they’re gossipping, and sometimes it sounds like some fascinating fairytales, but in my Dad’s family gossipping is much more boring, they can’t even find interesting topics to gossip about, and it has a fair bit of toxicity in it. My Dad and his brothers have a weird common trait that they love to make fun of other people as a way of dealing with their own insecurities. It’s a very nasty habit. If they have a problem with you, something about you they’re envious about, or they feel insecure around you, expect that anything you’ll say will be met with a cynical laughter and some stupid comment that’s supposed to ridicule you. They don’t have quite the same loyalty as my Mum’s family have. They don’t really have imagination –
except for one of my cousins who has been gifted in this area and is generally incredibly different from them also in that she is more sensitive to other people – and most of them don’t even enjoy reading or anything like this, although they’re passionate about watching TV, some 24/7 and if it’s any less they get bad withdrawal symptoms.

As for my most immediate family, we are quite a close family, at least we are closer with each other than many other families I know. We all love and care about each other and I think we spend more time together than most families do these days. But generally we’re a rather typical family I guess and there’s nothing overly unusual about us. We do have our fair share of misunderstandings and a lot of differences between each other but at this point we don’t have any serious family problems or arguments and we get along well with each other. I think though it all wouldn’t be quite as well if not our Mum. She is like an adhesive for us. I often think that if she died suddenly, we would all fall apart in all sorts of different directions. She is often the mediator between us and brings us all together, and I know she sometimes makes big sacrifices and compromises in order for things to stay calm and peaceful, which isn’t always easy with a character like my Dad. Also we are always thankful for the blessing that we have Zofijka here. I often say that if not Zofijka, our house would turn into a Camaldolese monaster – the house would be so eerily quiet and no one would talk. –
And everyone agrees, because while Mum can be very chatty, she gets those moods when she doesn’t talk at all and seems annoyed with everyone, making the atmosphere a bit stale, Dad is generally rather quiet at home and he’s not too talkative, and me and Olek have our own worlds, and our own rooms where we like to spend the time, and are both introverts, plus Olek is at work most of the day anyway. So it would feel really eery over here without Sofi long-term. Though she’s very absorbing and very loud so it’s good to have a break from her once in a while.

What about your family? πŸ™‚

Question of the day (9th August).

Hey people! πŸ™‚

I’ve found an interesting question online and thought I’d ask you:

Have you ever had anyone ask you, (How did you get so smart)? If so, how did you answer them?

My answer:

Oh yes, and that’s partly why I found this question interesting, haha. I get a lotof questions like this from people and I usually don’t really know how to react. My intelligence is one thing about myself I think I have a reasonably rational view on despite the AVPD thing and I do think I’m intelligent, I’ve always heard that I’m above average and I also feel this is true, also my brains are something that have helped me to cope in all sorts of situations and I’m so very grateful for being gifted in this area, but I also don’t know how it happened that I am “so” smart. People usually say that because they’re surprised that I know a lot of different things not everyone knows or that they wouldn’t expect me to know. So when people ask me such questions, I don’t know what to say because I just don’t know why it is how it is, other than it’s just is this way and that some people in my family are highly intelligent, and I also don’t know what kind of answer they expect. Is it supposed to be some sort of a bit odd compliment in the form of a rhetorical question? πŸ˜€ Or do they really want me to explain the whole process, or whatever? Also I really don’t want to sound like I’m bragging or something.

So how I usually respond is either saying something light along the lines of: “Oh really, did I?!” or “It’s because I never add lemon to hot tea so I probably don’t have that much alluminium in my brain” or that “It’s my grandad’s fault” or “I wonder about that too, y’know? My Mum says it’s a bit of a miracle” or “It’s because I trained my memory so well as a kid by learning all the name days in the calendar” etc. etc. or I get all confused and don’t say anything really, or I tell them seriously that I don’t know, but I read a lot as a kid and seem to have some weird ability to retain loads of information and have always had and am learning things quite quickly, at least some things. It depends on a situation, the other person and how I’m feeling, which approach I take.

The first time I remember I was asked a similar thing and that really made me think hard, was when I was at my classmate’s house for a few days, and her brother once asked me how it is that me, or his sister are quite smart, while some other blind kids are not and why (he was referring to another girl from our class who visited them earlier and who also had some mild intellectual disability and was a preemie and had other problems). And I was literally dumbstruck. I often wondered about similar things but now that someone has actually said this aloud, and asked me, I had to think about it seriously and figure it out somehow. I really wasn’t able to tell him something more insightful at the time, and I think it would be hard for anyone of any age because well, how do you explain why some people are smart and some aren’t, regardless of whether there are some disabilities at play or not. So I just told him something about that that girl was a preemie and I was not, and that my family at least on Mum’s side are smart people, and my Dad was teaching me things like capitals of countries and such when I was very little so maybe that was why my brain was quite well-developed. But I was thinking about it for a reeeally long time, and I don’t think my answer was satisfying for him, either.

Have you ever had similar situations or is it just me? πŸ˜€

What roles do I play?

This post is going to be long, the more that before I get to the actual topic of it, I’d like to fill you in a little on what’s been happening in my life so that you have an idea if you’ve been wondering what was going on, but feel free to skip a few paragraphs to the actual topic. πŸ™‚

As you know, I’ve been getting used to my new iPhone the last couple of weeks, which is one of the reason I hadn’t blogged much at all lately. I’m getting better with it, though still, there are things I have to figure out, and I’m still pretty slow at using it, and I suppose it may just be the case that, despite it seems to be the opposite for most people, I will not be able to use the iPhone as fast and efficiently as my computer. But I do know how to do the basics, and even some things that aren’t basic by now.

Also, we had a bit of a heatwave and that really affected my energy and generally my wellbeing, and last week was migraine-filled and also difficult emotionally as I was really low, which was followed by our short family trip during the weekend. The trip wasn’t that very fun at all, as it wasn’t a particularly interesting place and there wasn’t much at all to do, also it was terribly hot for all of us and the conditions in our hotel were rather poor, but we mostly just went to keep Dad company as he was having some work related training and exams there, and because Zofijka loves staying at hotels, so we thought it could be fun for her. I’m really happy to be back home and now appreciate it even more than I did before that I can sleep in my own bed and do things I want when I want and just be in my safe space. We also went to the seaside on Sunday and that was so much more fun, I just love the sea. Except that I got badly sunburnt and now it hurts like shit but oh well, luckily it’s going to pass at some point. So that was, in a nutshell, why I was less active in the blogosphere in the last few weeks.

Another thing I started doing recently is I’ve got more ebooks to read in English. I’ve always wanted to read Kindle ebooks which I theoretically can do as there’s a pretty accessible Kindle for PC app, or was I really determined I could get myself a Kindle device with text to speech functionalities, but I’m very picky about the ways I read, and I want to be able to read my books on my PlexTalk, as well as Braille-Sense. Which I can only do with Kindle ebooks if I remove the DRM. I know, I know, it’s illegal, but I believe that if I buy a book, I have every right to read it however is convenient for me, and the mere fact that I’ve removed the DRM doesn’t immediately have to mean that I’m going to give it away to all the people I know IRL and online, or to anyone at all, for that matter, does it? There is a pretty uncomplicated little app that converts ebooks from and to lots of different formats and can remove DRM protection so that you can copy your book on to your preferred device and have it in a format that your device is able to recognise. But despite this app is very easy, for some reason I’ve been struggling to remove the DRM with it from Kindle ebooks specifically, it just doesn’t seem to recognise them properly or something or can’t locate them, even when I select the Kindle folder and a specific file manually, there’s just something wrong and I can’t figure it out on my own. I contacted the developer but so far haven’t heard from him, it seems like he’s been inactive online for a while so I may have to just wait. Meanwhile, because the app is able to work with other types of files on my computer with no issues, I decided to give Kobo books a go. And Kobo works really well for me, I don’t have to convert their books, as my devices read epub, so I only have to remove the DRM. I also may give iBooks a try soon, now that I have an iPhone.

Anyways, since I’ve started using Kobo, I’ve got myself quite a few ebooks, all of which I’m still going to read, and amongΒ  them are two books with journaling prompts that I learned about from Astrid of

A Multitude of Musings

who uses them. One is The Goddess Journaling Workbook” by Beatrix Minerva Linden, which sounded really good to me as a folklore junkie, and the other is “The Year of You” by Hannah Braime. I really like the idea of books for journaling and I think I may be getting more of them. I’ve already used a few prompts from both in my diary, but also thought that I’d like to do some of them on my blog, and this is going to be the case today.

I thought I’d use the very first prompt in Hannah Braime book, which I already did in my diary in a bit of a more extended and personal form, but I think I could just as well write about this one on my blog. The prompt goes as follows:

What are the different roles you play in your life (e.g. mother, partner, sister, etc.) List as many as you can think of.

So here goes, in mostly random order. To make it more interesting than just a mere list, I will write a bit about each of these roles. I am not including roles as in masks, like who I may pretend to be for all sorts of purposes that isn’t actually me, and also I’m not including very small roles that don’t really matter for my life as a whole and that I simply don’t have much to say about.

  • Β Β  I am a human being. This sounds very obvious and we rarely think much about the fact that we are humans but I think it is a very important role that we should remember that we have and that one of our responsibilities as human beings is to act in a humane way and be proud of all the things that make us human, that distinguish us from any other beings in the world. It’s especially important in times like these when you see so many different situations where people as individuals and as a whole are being dehumanised in so many different ways, some very overt and some very subtle, that have become casual to us over the years and that we rarely think about as dehumanising, or that we may even perceive as good and beneficial because of how our collective thinking has twisted over the years. I personally think I often underestimate how important this role is. And I guess I don’t often take it seriously, for example in the situations where I feel a lot of self-loathing I definitely tend not to think about it at all.
  • Β Β  I am a daughter. – It is also one of the main roles, in my case. I am really grateful to have my parents and that my parents are the way they are. From what I have observed, it seems common for children to want their parents to be more like someone else’s parents, or to idealise other kids’ parents and think that theirs aren’t quite as good. But I remember when I was younger and thought about it sometimes, whether I would like to have different parents, and with which of my school friends I’d be happiest to swap, and, especially when it comes to a mum, I couldn’t think of one from those that I knew that I would like more as my mum. This doesn’t mean that my parents are perfect, as neither am I so I couldn’t expect them to be, or that there certainly are no other people on Earth who would make better parents for me, but that I think I’m really lucky to have the parents I have. Perhaps it’s my AVPD speaking, or something else irrational like that, but I often have a strong impression that I’m not quite as good in this role as I could be, and as I should be. I know that I often disappoint them, but it’s not even this that makes me think that I’m not as good a daughter as I could be, because children usually tend to disappoint parents in some way, I guess, just because they hardly ever are exactly the same as the parents expected them to be. I’m always more concerned about that I am mainly a burden for them, especially for my Mum, more than my siblings. I feel like there’s little balance in our relationship, and I guess that’s how most of my relationships actually work. What I mean by that is that I often have, or in any case, feel like I have, relationships with people where I either give too much and the other person keeps overstepping my boundaries, so that I don’t really have much satisfaction out of it long-term, or take too much than I give and feel like I am not able to recompensate as much as I should and would like. And it’s the same here. I know that my parents, especially my Mum, like to chat with me, my Mum often says that she would go crazy here if not me because I am the only person in this house with whom she can have a more intelligent discussion or share some of her thoughts that no one else in this house would be able to understand, and I am also a good listener and both of my parents like to come to me for advice, which I find pretty hilarious since obviously I am much younger than them and don’t have quite as much life experience, my Dad seems to appreciate my sense of humour because we’re on the same wavelength and no one else here gets some bits of our sense of humour, but overall it feels very little compared with what they do for me.
      • Β Β  I am a sister. – As you likely know if you’re a regular reader of my blog, I have a brother and a sister. I get along worse with Olek than I do with Zofijka. I’m happy to be his sister and I like him overall, but our relationship isn’t and has never been very strong. These days it looks so that we barely talk to each other unless there’s a clear need for it, we hardly just do small talk. Not because there’s any resentment, conflict or anything, although we used to argue a lot as kids and at least I openly disliked him and was really nasty to him at times, though I mostly don’t remember that, but it just feels awkward these days. With Zofijka, we have a very strong relationship, despite she is much younger than me than Olek is. We often argue with Sofi and get on each other nerves, sometimes it can be very harsh, explosive and difficult because we are very, very, very different from each other and often have trouble understanding each other and our personalities can just clash in a big way, but we can also have lots of fun together and I think in a way I could say that Zofijka is my best friend, we’re sort of like yin and yang and despite there’s a ten years old difference between us we interact with each other very much like peers. I very clearly remember when Mum was pregnant with her, and I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep at nights because I was thinking about “Helenka” (we referred to her as Helena throughout the pregnancy and only after she was born was she named Zofia) and I just couldn’t wait for her to be born and was so badly frustrated that I had to wait for so long, I would think all the time what it would be like and what we would do together. And after all I didn’t have to wait that long as Zofijka was born prematurely. That was so much different than with Olek, whose birth is my very first memory and I wrote about it in detail here which was definitely not so pleasant for me. While I’m not sure I am a good sister for Olek, I think I am a pretty good sister for Zofijka, I try to be helpful for her when I can and she often comes to me when she wants to talk about things that she isn’t comfortable talking about with Mum, even though our Mum is the kind of parent with whom you can talk about most things, but about some things Sofi seems to prefer to talk to me. I want her to have a happy childhood and so I do what is possible for me to do to contribute to it, we spend a lot of time together and I teach her a lot of things and I’ve created the Jim guy for her about whom she still likes to hear, and about whom I wroteΒ here.
      • I am Polish. I love being Polish! I feel an affinity with all “my” countries (that is all that speak my favourite languages) and their nations, I love their languages, but I can’t imagine being something else other than Polish myself. πŸ˜€ I am very proud of my country and language and I love the Polish language to pieces. Speaking of being Polish, we just had presidential election a few days ago, so I was able to fulfill one of the duties associated with that role, and I was very happy that that our current president, for whom I voted, has got the majority of votes this time round as well, but We’ll still have to have another round, as one of his opponents also got quite a lot of votes and at the same time no one had at least 50%, and to be the president in Poland you have to have at least 50% of votes. So we’ll see yet how it goes, but I’m very hopeful.
      • I am a Christian, and a Catholic. This is a hugely important role for me and to me personally it has a lot of overlap with the human being bit. This has been something that I’ve had a different view on throughout my life and I didn’t always identify as Christian, I was born to a devout family and raised Catholic but there was a period in my life where I considered myself agnostic/atheist, and later also something like Wiccan or along these lines, but I’ve sort of “reconverted” to Christianity after some deep thinking and I’m really happy I did it. It isn’t easy to be a good Christian, especially when you have a mental illness and stuff, some days are harder than others, but I think it’s still really worth the effort. What I struggle with the most in regards to my faith is that I often don’t feel the connection to God as much as I would like, I often feel lost, or don’t feel much towards Him, or not as much as I think I should when I listen to other people. I’d really like to be the “hot” kind of Christian, and I really envy people who are, but I think I’m still really lukewarm and more intellectual than emotional/spiritual in my faith, and I’d like to be able to love God more and have a more genuine relationship with Him. I even envy people like my Mum, who are able to dissolve into spontaneous and genuine tears when contemplating Way of the Cross, or feel deeply moved on a spiritual level by a homily or a hymn, cry during confession or feel a deep spiritual need to receive Communion when they haven’t been able to for weeks, and awful sadness when they cannot, like Zofijka does. I guess it’s already something that I want it, but I don’t know how to make it. I try to be the best Christian I can be without being able to feel such extreme things and think that perhaps I am just meant to live like this and need to accept it, and that there’s some meaning to it, I don’t know. Another huge obstacle I’m facing every day is that I have real real trouble focusing on prayer, my brain doesn’t seem to be cut out for thinking about just one thing at a time. πŸ˜€ I realise though that these things are probably also partly a consequence of how things used to look in the past for me.
      • Β Β  I am a cat mummy. I love my Misha to pieces, am immensely grateful and happy to have him and so glad that I can take care of him as much as I can, feed him, sleep with him, cuddle with him and receive so much love and beauty in return. This is a relatively new role in my life but I love it, it is a pure pleasure to take care of Misha. I only think it’s a pity that I can’t do all the things that a cat mummy should do, whether it comes to his hygiene or our relationship. Contact with Misha is mostly visual, so that makes the situation more difficult for both of us. For me, because I don’t have the ability to read many of the cues he’s sending, so I often feel confused about what he wants or needs or how he’s feeling, and for him, because that means I have to touch him more than I would otherwise, and that he would like, because he isn’t the most touchy-feely and is often fearful of touch and closeness.
      • I am a friend. At this point in my life, I have no friends in real life (unless we count Misha and people like Zofijka and my Mum in, then I have three), and I’m pretty happy about this fact because I don’t really feel the need to have them in real life just for the sake of having friends. I wouldn’t mind having friends in real life, if there were people in my surroundings that I would feel we have a lot in common with each other and if they’d also want to be my friends, but I’m not desperate and happy to be friends with just anyone just because it looks better to have friends. I do have a few people online though that I consider friends. Some in the blogosphere, and some who are my more long-term pen pals. This can be challenging at times too because I still have some struggles with social interactions or expressing myself even online, so I find it difficult to have really close relationships with people, but it is easier and I really appreciate having friends who think similarly, have similar interests and like me. I know I can’t always be as supportive for them as I’d like, but I do like to be, and I want to be helpful, or at least kind. And, when it comes to writing with my pen pals, especially those with whom I’m closer and have known them for a while, I treat it very seriously and even when I have little time or don’t feel that well or when sometimes I don’t feel very much like writing, I try to write back as soon, as much and as interestingly as I can. Which means that sometimes I can spend a large portion of my day, or even more than that, typing away to people. Not because I have so very many penfriends but because if you’re committed to it, it can consume a lot of time, unless you’re instant messaging or something. ALso sometimes there indeed are a lot of people to write back to, because I still try to make new penfriends, or people initiate contact with me, and there are times when I get like waves of emails, and after a while it gets much quieter because a few people fell off for all sorts of reasons or just have a temporarily a more busy time. Usually when you want to have penfriends you do snail mail or email and typically both of you want to get long mails and possibly regularly, get to know the other person and their life and anything that may be interesting about them and their life, and also know that they are genuinely interested in you. So, if you want to get long mails, you have to write them, too. Some people get easily discouraged from pen palling after a bit of initial enthusiasm when they realise that they won’t get long, beautiful letters every week automatically just because they wrote to someone once, and that they need to put some effort into it as well. So I would say it’s not really for very busy people, because they won’t be able to keep up, unless they’re very organised and motivated. It pays off definitely, if you can find people with whom you actually click and who are equally committed, which may take some trials and errors, some disappointments on both sides and some time, a lot of time in some cases. I am grateful for all of my friends, especially that not so long ago I didn’t have friends like these at all, and now life feels much better.
      • I am a granddaughter. I rarely think of this role of mine. I love my grandparents because they are my grandparents (though I dislike my (paternal) gran and it’s hard to love someone when you dislike them and when you know that they dislike you even more), but, except for my (maternal) grandad, I find it difficult to connect or even just interact with my grandparents. I often think that I am a very bad granddaughter, because I know they generally really like it when their grandchildren visit them and consider it a primary sign of respect or something like that, while I don’t visit them nearly as willingly, nor as often as I and other people think I should, as I find all the socialising exhausting, and, don’t really have a personal bond with them, again except for my grandad with whom we have some sort of an understanding without words and he’s always stood by my side even when no one else did and I will be eternally grateful for that to him. Emily Starr [of New Moon] wrote in her diary in context of her cousin Jimmy that it’s good to have one such person in your life who only sees the good things about you and none of your flaws, more of such people would spoil you. For me such person is my grandad. Therefore I feel even more guilty these days that I don’t live close to him anymore that I don’t visit him more often, and I’m not sure he understands actually why. But what I can do is to try to be nice and kind to my grandparents and show it as much as I can while we are together. I guess though that the lack of relationships with my grandmas (my paternal grandpa died when I was rather little), isn’t entirely my fault. They have a hard time connecting to me just as well, the way I see it, I guess mostly because I’ve been away from home for most of my childhood.
      • Β Β  I am a goddaughter. This is another role I hardly think about on a conscious level. But the way I was brought up, since I am a Christian, I was often told by my parents that it’s important to pray for your godparents and support them this way just like they are obliged to support you in your spiritual development. I think it makes sense, so while I don’t have close relationships with my godparents either, and actually don’t really like them, I pray for them every day, especially that they both have very difficult life situations. My godmother is someone with whom I find it really difficult to talk and she usually ends up triggering all my shit so I hardly feel normal after talking to her. We used to get along a bit better when I was younger, and I can enjoy talking to her still because we have a lot in common, but you have to know how to interact with her and which topics are better to be avoided. I am not the only one person in our family who finds her extremely difficult, though. She is generally the type of person who will always give you unsolicited advice and ask lots of questions you definitely don’t want her to ask, and she always knows best what’s best for you but you simply happen not to have discovered it yet, she can be also very hurtful. I suppose attending her birthdays, name days and such also belongs to my duties associated with this role, but as I usually can’t bring myself to do that, I just call my godparents on their special days. This is one of the few instances where I actually prefer to call people rather than see them. πŸ˜€
      • Β Β  I am a blogger. I have been a blogger for years, almost a half of my life, haha! I’ve always really liked it and I’m proud that I’m doing it. I’m especially proud now, that I have an English blog, this was a really big decision for me and a big dream of mine and it has helped me very much both with my mental health and my language development.
      • I am a language learner. I am not sure if something you do mostly as a hobby can also be your role, but I guess so in a way. What I perceive as a role about it is particularly the bit with endangered languages. My role is learning them so that they are still in use and can survive, or at the very least, even if I don’t get to use them that much in practice, I am still able to speak them. For now, the only minority language I speak is Welsh, and I’m nowhere near fluent yet, but I am learning and I’m going to learn more languages – endangered and not endangered. –

What are the roles you play in your life? πŸ™‚

 

Bloggerz.

Hey people! πŸ™‚

I feel a little crappy with energy levels today and haven’t come up with or found a question of the day for you for today, just don’t feel like it, but I decided to answer some questions of Rory’s, aka

A Guy Called Bloke,

and if you would also like to do it, either on Rory’s blog or on your own, go ahead! πŸ™‚

Here are Rory’s questions:

How spontaneous are you?
If you mean emotional spontaneity, generally not at all. It also depends on a setting, like, my surroundings and who I am with, sometimes I may be a little bit more spontaneous than not at all but that’s really rare. I am more spontaneous in writing though, sometimes much more. If you mean spontaneity as in going with the flow and not planning your life, I think I must be somewhere in the middle. I do like my routines and sticking to what I know, I hate change, but I am not the type of person to rigidly plan my whole life or even a whole day ahead, I’m too disorganised for that kind of thing and it seems boring to me.

How flirtatious would you say you are and if that is not the word you would use then try the alternatives of β€˜teasing or playful’ either way – how much are you of this?
Flirtatious – not at all. Teasing – if I know someone well enough and/or it’s some relatively mild teasing than sometimes I can be if I know that they know that I’m just teasing them or being sarcastic and don’t mean to offend them or anything. Playful – yes, I do have that very playful part of me, the inner child or however you want to call it, I call her Bibiel, aka Bibielle or Bibielka but Bibiel is what she’s used to the most, and she is very playful, humourous and childish and she especially loves playing with Zofijka.

How serious are you as a person?
Apparently lots of people think I’m serious and I guess I do make such an impression, I’m not playful and humourous with just everyone, and also my mental health/social difficulties prevent me from truly expressing myself around people in person. Plus I have some qualities that, while don’t necessarily mean the same as being serious, are often sort of associated by an average person with seriousness, like I’m very analytical and overthinking, quite naturally depressive and usually not too talkative unless I know someone very well and feel at ease with them. I can be outwardly serious or very serious when need be, but because I have Bibiel, I can be never fully serious in my mind and I have frequent situations when I can barely hold back laughter in generally inappropriate situations because some minor, funny detail caught my attention or something grotesque about the whole situation or because I just remembered something similar that I think is funny. Sometimes I myself am worried about it that I can find things to laugh about even in the most serious/sad situations that shouldn’t really be laughed at, and while I never do it openly/ fully intentionally, I often feel a bit guilty when my inner Bibiel makes fun of absolutely everything. But usually it is a very helpful trait. Has helped me to get through life on numerous occasions. Also a lot of people don’t get my sense of humour which can sometimes be very immature and childish, while other times rather sarcastic and dry and when it’s the latter people often don’t know that I’m joking or saying something ironically and their impression is that I’m being very serious.

Do you think the older we become certain emotions are easier to handle – say as an example β€˜grief?’
I think it’s hugely personal. Of course there is that developmental psychology thing and it makes a lot of sense and is kind of obvious that we go through different stages of emotional development and growth as we age, but I think emotions are a very individual, as well as fairly intangible matter, and depend on so many factors for everyone, so you really can’t generalise in this case and measure it. Perhaps for someone who is as emotionally mature as their age would indicate, it’s true, but then emotionally mature people can at the same time still be very sensitive and I believe their grief would still be rather intense then.So it probably also depends on some other individual traits like resilience or such. I don’t know.

What is the most adventurous thing you have done to date?
I’m not really overly adventurous, but one thing that comes to my mind at the moment was when we wanted to run away from home with Olek, I think I was about 11 so he would be 9 at the time. Not for any particular reason, I think we had some minor tension with Mum but mostly just for the sake of it. It didn’t work out at all, I don’t really remember how it all ended up but we didn’t go very far at all. We weren’t prepared for that, plus it would be quite difficult to achieve for me as I was only getting around with Olek as my guide so that just wouldn’t do more long-term I guess when running away in any circumstances.:D

What’s the craziest or riskiest thing you have ever done and simply got away with it or gotten caught doing it?
It would have to be when I used Doses, I think, Doses are those binaural sounds I’ve told you guys about that are meant to have a similar effect on your brain as drugs or other psychoactive substances do or evoke some other strange sensations in your mind. I had gotten caught, so there were some external consequences for me and the other kids I persuaded into it, but I believe that I got away with it in a different way, because apparently, while those things are apparently not addictive as drugs are, they can still cause brain damage, and I don’t feel it had such an effect on me because this was a relatively short period when I was doing this. Also as a Christian I believe that it could have had far worse spiritual consequences for me than it did.

What do you think the future is of dating and other β€˜other’ now that social distancing has become part of your life? Will your life β€˜up close and personal’ with people now be different?
Dating apps and websites have been already popular for quite a while, so I think this time now might be good for them and more people might start to use them. Which I think is generally good, though it does have its associated downsides and risks, but so does dating face to face. Still, I think after some time passes, and the threat of contracting COVID will lessen, there will still be people who will prefer meeting up for dates because it feels more genuine to them. For some people meeting people in person is too important to just give up on it plus some believe that it’s a much more reliable/genuine way of finding a potential partner and that you can get to know each other better over a coffee when you look each other in the eye rather than online.And as for my life, hm, I’m not sure. I’ve never been one for meeting up with people. My contacts with my immediate family with whom I live are as normal. When I go out, my Mum is my guide so we can’t keep the distance. With other relatives whom we see more or less regularly we try not to get too close, no kissing, hand shaking or such but we’ve had people in our house and such. I don’t think we’re seriously going to keep it for a very long time and only keep our relationships with people from a distance, but it also depends on how things evolve. It’s a completely new situation for all of us so it’s hard to say.

How different do you really think you are to the next person – are you prim and proper, or straight laced and serious, wild and abandoned or rebellious and controversial?
I don’t think any of these particular adjectives fit me well really, haha. I am certainly not prim and proper, although I do have a strong sense of morality or so I think and a lot of so called traditional values are important to me, I’m not straight laced and serious either. Some people do say I’m wild, but rather in the sense of a hermit who is not used to people than someone who is very adventurous, impulsive and uninhibited, I have nothing against being wild. Some of my views or opinions are controversial but I’m not the type of person who has the kind of opinions she has just to provoke controversy, and I don’t think I’m controversial at all as a whole, neither am I rebellious the way most people see rebellion, though I am very quirky. I do think I’m very different, which is both great and difficult, I love it and hate it, but if I got a chance I don’t think I would change it. I like my unusual brain and that I like things that not everyone else likes, I like that my experiences are different than many people’s.I’m just Bibiel lol.

During this time of global concern how has your thinking changed with regards the planet, conservation, climate issues …..or has it not changed one little bit?
It hasn’t really changed at all. SInce the Earth is where I currently live, I’ve always tried to live in harmony with it, that was what my family had taught me, I believe it’s our responsibility both as simply its inhabitants and as human beings. The nature has been created to serve us but that does not mean we can act disrespectfully towards it and destroy it or flood the world with our rubbish just because we feel like it, quite the opposite. We are obliged to care for the Earth and protect every single life on it as much as we can. However I am not an ecology freak nor an alarmist and I believe that moderation is key. I don’t think I believe in climate change the way most media portray it and some things that people apparently do to take action against it seem downright illogical, if not counterproductive to me, or at least pointless. Climate IS changing, but it always has been.

What β€˜topical issues’ considered β€˜taboo’ by society are you deeply passionate with and about to the point of doing something about it?
Mental health and disability. Since I myself am both disabled as well as mentally ill, I try to raise awareness of those issues by blogging about what they mean to me, in my life. There’s no taboo around these things on my blog.I also like to support other mentally ill people if and how much I can, though I’m not sure how good I’m at it actually.

What’s more important and or is there a difference between β€˜Friendship and Companionship and if so what is that difference?
I don’t know about what’s more important, I believe companionship may be more fulfilling but since I’ve never experienced it I don’t really have an idea. I think the difference is that companionship is more intimate. I’d think that it’s something between friendship and romance, and at the same time something on the next level. The people are in love with each other, could be romantic but not necessarily, spend a lot of time with each other, are used to each other’s company, know each other very well for a long time, both the good qualities and flaws of one another. The image that comes to my mind when I think of companionship is a couple who has been together for many years, they’ve already gone through the phase of friendship, romance, and now are at a stage where they have been with each other for too long and have gone through too many different situations to be madly in love, perhaps they don’t even need sex anymore, but they feel very comfortable with each other. Whereas friendship can be when two people like each other very much, have a lot in common, either in terms of interests, or life in general, or how they think or what they like, and they like to talk to each other, can count on each other and support one another. But it’s not quite as intimate as companionship and people don’t know each other quite as well.

What is your passion with regards writing genres – 1] what is your chosen genre and 2] what is the genre you might like to write about but lack confidence to start?

I mostly just do journaling type posts on my blog. Misha’s posts are also usually diary-like, though some are fiction (The Human Life of Misha Hhrrru?). I used to write a lot of short stories just for myself and enjoy it, though I hardly ever enjoyed the final effects and usually deleted them straight away, but these days I write much less fiction. I wrote a few stories in English on my blog, separate from Misha’s series, and that was fun, I’d like to do it more often but I think I lack confidence in terms of writing fiction in English and writing fiction in general, and also I don’t really have that many ideas.

 

Question of the day.

When did you join WordPress and when did you start blogging? How did it feel like at the beginning? How much has changed since then?

My answer:

I started blogging when I was 13 I guess, in a programme developed for the blind. It served as a way to get blind people together, or something like that, it was fully accessible of course, people could message each other, there were forums, groups, people could have their sound avatars, it could play a variety of multimedia, stream Internet radio, YouTube videos, had a very simple browser, some audiogames etc. etc. and also blogs. It was very easy to make a blog there, you didn’t have to do much except agree that you want to start a blog and write. No making up a URL, choosing a theme, playing around with widgets, SEO or plugins. It was both good and bad. Good because of course it was easy and fun, very quick and absolutely everyone could blog and pretty much everyone did blog, more or less consistently. You didn’t have to worry about how your blog looks or that something doesn’t work with a screenreader or whatever. Bad, because despite it was built somehow based on WordPress, there was a very slim chance that someone outside of the community, who didn’t have an account there, would find your blog, unless you’d give them the URL address. And you weren’t able to make it more personalised, like adjust things and make them more your own, which would annoy me right now but I didn’t care about that back thenn at all. I started blogging out of curiosity, it felt very interesting and cool to me, and people were telling me I’m good at writing so I thought I could do that well and enjoy it. I did. I wrote mainly about my daily life I guess, and some other silly stuff like logging my dreams, I don’t remember really… I had 3 different blogs there over the years, one after another. The programme was soon left by its developers and it was hanging in the Internet for some more years before they killed it completely, but slowly different features were dying, for example YouTube was gone when YouTube got an update, stuff like Google search and Wikipedia browser followed and so – very slowly – did the blogs since they were based on WordPress so people were migrating to different platforms, seeing that things are getting less and less stable, before their old blogs would disappear completely, or they just stopped blogging altogether.

And that was more or less when I started blogging on WordPress, no idea which year it was but I guess I could be about 17. I’m not sure. I had little to no technical idea how one sets up a blog properly, I don’t think I have it now but the second time round I guess I either had more luck, more help or more determination to do it right. That first time was a disaster and the blog wasn’t even very accessible for myself, let alone for my blind readers, and my readers were mostly blind, mostly people from that old community, because my blog wouldn’t even show up in Google, unless you’d search for its actual name, which wasn’t very generic at all so not many random people would think about that. πŸ˜€ It was called Drimolandia, so kind of like Dreamland (it doesn’t mean Dreamland in Polish but I’d say you could call it a polonisation of the English word Dreamland, drim is how you would phonetically spell dream in Polish, and -landia is like English suffix -land, in countries). So, my traffic was just absolutely, extremely, unbelievably low, how low I can fully comprehend only now that I have a (much) better performing blog, seriously, in the whole career of that blog my record daily amount of views was 35! πŸ˜€ I think I could also blame Polish WordPress, there is a lot of Polish blogs set up on pl.wordpress.com but, at least from my observations, people don’t get many comments usually, and forget about the kind of community that is in the English blogosphere, with stuff like writing prompts or blog awards (okay I’ve seen a blog award post once). I copy-pasted all my posts from the previous blog I had onto Drimolandia, hoping to expand that further and write new posts over time, but because working with WordPress editor was a really painful, slow process – I don’t know if WordPress was so inaccessible then or if I had such a rubbish theme or what – that I had less and less motivation and finally abandoned it altogether and just left it hanging in the Internet by itself.

Then I joined another blind app which is still alive and being developed, based on that first one in terms of the general idea, created by one of the former users of that old app who is also a programmer. It had blogs too and I was blogging there for virtually a couple months. That was about the time when I started having my wild ideas about having an English blog, and not necessarily, preferably not, in the blind community. I really enjoyed being there and I liked a lot of people, I know many of them in real life from school or other places. And that was fun in a way, and in a way it wasn’t. I’d been thinking for a long time that I actually don’t like the fact that a lot of people there knew me in real life, or knew someone who knew me, that they had their own idea about me and had every right to it of course, and I felt like that was holding me back from making all those blogs what I really wanted them to be and I felt that I had to hold myself back and wasn’t really writing for myself and was censoring myself all the time or I felt very exposed otherwise. Maybe freaky for some, but that’s how I felt about it. Also, I was interested in things, or involved in things, that I wanted to write about, but even when I did, I didn’t really feel it was interesting for my readers and that they got it, because they didn’t feel it. I felt weird, I mean, I know I’m weird and I like being weird and if someone tells me I’m weird I take it as a compliment, but it wasn’t that kind of weird. I wanted to have a wider group of readers and for it to be more likely that someone who can really relate and/or will be interested can read it, whether they will let me know about that and comment or not, so that I could seriously feel that my opening up is useful and pays off somehow. Otherwise I could write in my diary, which I’ve had for years and write freely in it about everything that comes to my brain. Then also all the mental health stuff started to come up to the surface for me and I couldn’t ignore it any longer, some time later I started diving deeper into the English Internet, writing with people, learning more about myself and people in general, finally it felt necessary for me to have an outlet, for all that was going on in my brain, especially the mental health struggles as I had little support then, and that community wasn’t an option for me to write about such private things , and I also felt for other reasons that I needed to leave it.

And that’s how My Inner MishMash started out, in 2018! I’m so glad that I actually did it, and made this idea come true, it was beneficial to me in so many ways. I wonder now if I have written a post on that, if not, one would definitely be necessary at some point. My Inner MishMash was born on January 24th, but more officially on January 26th, as I was setting it up for 2 days, I was so scared not to screw it up! πŸ˜€ I don’t think it has changed very significantly over those two years (though maybe it’s different from a reader’s perspective?), other than when I sometimes look back at my older posts I can see that my English has improved a bit more and I have developed a bit more of an individual writing style, though it’s still very far from my very characteristic Polish writing style and sometimes I feel like that sucks, but I guess such things take time. On the other hand, as I’ve said many times, I feel much more emotionally expressive in English so everything has its good and bad aspects.

How about your blogging? πŸ™‚

Question of the day (3rd April).

Hey people! πŸ™‚

Do you like to buy physical copies of CDs or download the digital version? Or do you only download the singles? (or do you just listen to the radio or something?)

My answer:

As I wrote in my answer to an earlier question of the day, I don’t have a CD player right now and I don’t listen to CD’s anymore. I have two main ways of listening to music these days. First I use streaming services – for me it’s Spotify because I find it the most accessible, most of all I like that they have an accessible desktop app, and it’s Swedish, haha. – I have a bit of a love-hate attitude and relationship with Spotify and streaming services in general. I love them because they offer a comfortable, easy and relatively cheap (or even free if you like even lower sound quality and enjoy the ads) access to loads of music and if you need it, and have a lot of devices, you can listen to it pretty much anywhere you are, and stuff like family subscription plans are helpful, in our house three people have Spotify and it’s handy to be on a family plan. Also I really like that you can discover a lot of other music which is very handy as well if you are picky and won’t fall in love with every other song playing on the radio. πŸ˜‰ I hate it for the low sound quality, even though I understand that it’s not possible to be higher since millions of people are listening to music at the same time and Spotify doesn’t want to be sluggish. I hate it because, in practice, it only supports those artists and music labels who are already famous and popular. I mean, I’ve discovered a lot of great, barely known, niche artists from niche genres thanks to Spotify and I’m very happy about it, the list includes my last faza/music crush Gwilym Bowen Rhys and a lot of other great people, but from the moment you open Spotify and look through their browse tab, their own ready-made playlists, features like those regional filters for specific countries that they have or however they call them, you’ll be flooded by loads of mainstream music that you’d have easy access too otherwise as well and that you most likely already know either by name or have heard their songs, or both, or if yoou haven’t heard of them they’ll soon go viral anyway and every radio station will be playing them, or if that miraculously will not happen for this or that reason, they still make very easily digestible music and very much in line with what is currently most popular thanks to the media. And, okay, there is some good mainstream music out there, there are artists who are famous for a reason and are really talented, but it’s sad that artists who are lesser known, also those who do not want to go viral or whose music simply isn’t fit for that despite being really great and good quality, or who are independent and self-producing or something, and who could potentially make much more money on the music and be noticed by more people, are so little promoted by streamers and it’s all intentional and purposeful action, despite that with the possibilities that those streamers have, they could really transform the music industry, the way people listen to music, make people more conscious, more selective, and show them some good music, promote it so that those who don’t know much more beyond the charts and what has been popular throughout the last couple of years/decades can find something more that they would like but don’t know that they would like, because they don’t know it exists and where/how to look for it, and what they would actually be into. Of course if you are interested and determined and want to, you’ll find such underappreciated artists on Spotify and great music that they do not feature on their own playlists, but you really have to be interested yourself and most people just want to listen to something, are not interested in digging too much and have no time for that which is absolutely understandable, so they’d have to get it shoved in their faces to be able to notice that there is also other music and that it exists. It’s a shame that so many people just listen to what is forced into their ears by radio stations or other such and that those “trend setters” decide for them what they are supposed to like, instead of that people could actually choose what to listen to on their own, and decide on their own what is their favourite kind of music. It feels like brainwashing to me and makes me think that one can’t really be a self-aware person when they don’t know what music they truly like, but just takes what’s lying nearest to them. I don’t blame the individuals for that though because that’s how things have been for ages and we are used to listening to music this way. I also hate that those less popular artists aren’t paid enough as a result, I mean not as much as they would be paid if someone bought their album, and I feel it’s not fair whatsoever, but as my Mum rightly says the words justice and fair only exist in the dictionary. πŸ˜€ Not to mention that some independent artists are not on Spotify whatsoever despite making lots of great music, for various reasons.

The cons are quite heavy, and I guess there are more of them, but anyway, as I said, Spotify is my main way of listening to music despite that, and probably will be for a while yet, because it’s very accessible and easy, and sometimes the easy option is the only practically possible one. And I listen to a lot of music on Spotify these days, or mostly nights actually. Spotify is my main base for discovering new music and being up to date with my most favourite artists that I want to be up to date with, and music from Spotify serves me as a background noise when doing stuff on the computer during the day, unless I happen to be listening to the radio but I’ll write about that later. I also listen to music from YouTube sometimes but that’s not very often, only when there’s something I like that’s not on Spotify, usually something that I happened to discover years ago back when I was using Last.fm as my main source of discoveries and taste-shaping so to say.

As I said though, it really bothers me what Spotify is doing to the lesser known artists, for example those singing in extincting languages. My other way of listening to music is on my PlexTalk Linio Pocket. PlexTalk is a specialised device for the blind which is small, and thus portable, fitting into a pocket, as you can guess, and it can read books – audiobooks, texts – play podcasts, radio from Internet, play any audiofiles in most formats, so music as well, it can also work as a recorder and has a couple other features like a calendar, alarm, etc. It uses SD memory cards so all my actual music that I have for myself is on SD cards. If I like and respect an artist and their music particularly much, I’ll buy their album, or if I don’t like a whole album I’ll buy some single songs in a digital format. It also is very handy to have this kind of music collection because I take my PlexTalk everywhere with me so I can have my own, bought music there with me regardless of whether there is Internet connectioon or not, I can listen to my PlexTalk in my bed, in the car, etc. I can play the music from some other device if I don’t want to listen to it from PlexTalk’s small speaker or headphones but for example my computer speakers which have much better quality. And I know that I’ll always have this music and not just as long as the artist will be willing to cooperate with Spotify. Well except for things like if I lose or break a card or format it by accident, haha.

Also I do listen to the radio, but that’s rarely for the music. I was hugely into radio as a kid, I mean more like in theory, what it’s like to work in there, changes in specific radio stations over time, lots of such details, that was very interesting to me, and I still do find it interesting but not to such a geeky degree, and I listen much less to the radio right now. First of all I hardly listen to Polish radio stations now, if I do, it is because some programme really interests me. Or because it is playing in the background – in the kitchen, in the bathroom, even in the loo (we have a radio in the loo which turns on and off with the lights and it scares some people or at least surprises them very much when they visit for the first time and go to the loo), I like to switch it on if I’m alone somewhere if I don’t have my Plextalk with me there so that my sensory/silence anxiety is more manageable. – My school friend used to laugh at me that I am such a snob that I only listen to mainstream music and get a chance to catch up with what’s popular and form my opinion when I’m sitting on the toilet, lol, but that’s not the case. Well, not always. πŸ˜€ Otherwise, if I listen to the radio, it’s usually some public radio from another country, or in any case a radiostation where they talk a lot so it can boost my language skills. Like today I’m listening to Sveriges Radio p4 Stockholm all day. They do play a lot of music, very normal music, but I mostly just care about the language. Sometimes I like to make radio discoveries though from foreign radio stations. It was very hard for me, for example, to find Welsh language music on Spotify at the beginning of my Welsh language journey. I mean, there are playlists made by people which were helpful but when I wanted to go beyond that and see what’s more, I found it difficult, especially that Spotify’s algorithms picked up very late on my Welsh language mania and I couldn’t count on them that they would give me some further recommendations. BBC Radio Cymru was extremely helpful in that, as was Cymru FM, the latter plays almost exclusively music, with barely any talking ever in between, almost exclusively in Welsh (with some occasional, almost like accidental, Cornish or Breton songs) in a variety of genres but mostly pop, rock, folk and alternative/indie stuff, I’d say. Also I love learning about how different are music trends in different countries, no matter if I’m gonna like them or not, I like to see for example what Swedish songs are currently popular in Sweden, or even English ones that are either by Swedish artists or simply didn’t make their way to Poland to such a degree for some reason. I actually end up liking a lot of foreign pop or hits or stuff, lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Finnish pop in the radio stations. So I’m not such a big snob, after all. I myself don’t think I am at all, because seriously I do like a lot of “normal” stuff, but even Zofijka thinks I’m snobbish.

So, that’s about it, for me. How about you? πŸ™‚

A letter to my 33-year-old self.

Continuing with the

Letter Writing Challenge

today I am writing a letter to my older – 33-year-old – self.

Dear Bibiel, because I believe that, if you are still there, you are still Bibiel, deep down, aren’t you?

Remember me? I’m your younger self. How’s life going for you right now? What are you doing today? I must say I’m quite curious what you would write to me, but since you have more important things to do at the moment, I assume, I decided to write to you first, and hope to get a response, someday.

I wanted to remind you that, wherever you are at in your life right now, whether you like it and are satisfied with it, or not and are struggling a lot, everything is transient in life. I’m sure you know that better than me but it’s easy to forget about it in everyday life. I also want to remind you about another cliche thing that I’m sure you know, but I want you to never forget it, that no matter where you are, and what people are surrounding you, or maybe you’re alone or lonely, no matter whether you like it or not, what you are doing and what life is like, what is going on with the world and what challenges you are having to face, you have your brain. Use it. You know I am not talking about thinking, although that’s important too especially that we humans seem to be worse and worse at it and get tired of thinking more and more easily, and I don’t expect this trend has changed in the world where you live. I am talking about coping with things. I hope you are surrounded by supportive people, even if it is mostly or exclusively online as is the case with me, and that you are privileged to be able to support other people and do it as much as you can, but even if you do, and especially if you do not, it is important to know that no one will help you more than you can help yourself, and that you can’t rely too much on other people. Your brain is your fortress so do use it, as much as possible, especially when all else fails, and don’t forget about your Brainworld, it is always there.

How is Misha doing?… Does he still live with you or did you move somewhere and leave Misha with your family? I hope that if you live on your own, you weren’t selfish and possessive enough to take him with you, if you did, know that I loathe you for that. Well, unless some miracle happened and you are able to take proper care of him and provide him with all that he deserves. On the other hand I hope you do not live with Zofijka, because as much as she is a sweet kid, I know you would have a very hard life living just with her, or possibly her family, since you both are quite clashy and neither of you would be happy long term. I also hope that you didn’t have to bring your emergency plan into life, if it did have to happen by now, I hope you are managing and have something that brings joy into your life, and that it isn’t as bad as it used to be. At the same time I congratulate you for being a very courageous Bibiel, courageous enough to make it happen and I know it must have been a very difficult decision, and its outcomes are certainly no less difficult. Most of all though, I hope you will never have to do that.

How is your language learning going? I hope you can continue with it and it’s exciting to think that you may be able to speak even more languages than I can. As you may realise, I am in a faza limbo right now, or I hope that this is a limbo, and not the end of everything, as I sometimes feel. Please tell me that it’s not the end, and that you have a faza!

You may also remember, that at the time I’m writing to you, the world is going through the coronavirus outbreak. I’d be curious to hear from you what you think about it, looking back. Were you scared of it at any point? Did it affect you?

Looking forward to hear from you in the future and sending you a little piece of Mishfur, and a little Mishpurrr, with this letter, in case you forgot how it feels and sounds.

Bibiell

*****

I thought I’d clarify one thing in the letter, so that no one has any doubts. One of my readers was concerned that my “emergency plan” was suicide, and after re-reading this, I agree that it is easy to draw such a conclusion. But it was not what I meant, and it isn’t anything dangerous and unsafe. Just something I am not particularly looking forward to, but will do if I have to. I may have a lot of passive suicidal ideations in the background of my brain but I am stable enough at this time in my life that I don’t make active plans or anything like that, and I would definitely trigger warn this post if it was about suicide even indirectly.

 

A letter to my 13-year-old self.

Today starts

10-Day Letter Writing Challenge

and, as I mentioned in the original post that I reblogged earlier today, or rather yesterday as it’s past midnight, I really liked the idea. I have never participated in those kind of challenges where you write every day for a certain amount of time, so I don’t know how it will go and I don’t promise that I will stick to it on my blog, but I do plan to write those letters for sure in my diary because I like to expand it in such ways and not just plain write about my daily life.

Here’s a letter to my 13-year-old self:

Hi Bisbis [Bisbis/Bibiel was the way I used to mostly call myself as a child and teen]

I am your future self, however strange that may sound to you. You may wonder why I am writing to you in English then, and I am sure that it will take you a looong time to figure this letter out, but this will at least improve your English skills and occupy your mind with something interesting for a while. You will need it in the future – the English, I mean. – One day, when life will get better, you will have an English blog. You have heard from people that you have a talent for languages and you sometimes wonder if it is true and what you should do about it, if anything. And you have already learnt some Swedish. I know how painful it is for you that you cannot do it anymore. Please don’t suppress this one thing at least. I think it will be of some comfort to you if I’ll tell you that you will be able to return to your Swedish in future. It will bring you a lot of pleasure and you will also learn to love many other languages, which will make your life feel more purposeful. You will have to thank one of your faza objects for that. Soon after that, you will also find the greatest love of your life (so far at least), whom you will love with all your brain and soul, who will live with you and sleep with you and who will be your best friend. No, obviously I’m not talking about any guy, I’m sure you know it! Nor about a girl, if you’re wondering, or maybe being concerned, hehe. His name will be Misha, not Jacek, and that’s all I’m gonna tell you. Believe me, seriously, the things will not always be the way they are right now, even though it really looks like they will. Change will come sooner than you think, although you will have to get through a lot before it happens, and then learn a lot of things that you might find unpleasant or uncomfortable.

I know that you wrote a letter to me as well, like Emily of the New Moon did to herself, but unfortunately I am not able to read it now and look back at all those things you wanted to know and respond to you properly because you lost it. You do have to learn to be less chaotic. But so far it hasn’t happened. πŸ˜€ And I think we agree that being chaotic is more interesting, right? I still like Emily of the New Moon a lot, although not as frenziedly as you. I can assure you that your current dream will come true and that you will change your name to Emilia legally soon after you turn 18. It was a good idea so you don’t have to worry, you were right and I thank you for that.

At this point, I live in a different house than the one that is your family home, but not far away from there, just in a town nearby. It is also big, and you will move in it about 7 years from where you are at, if I’m counting correctly. You will like it here. As we’re talking about counting, I have some bad news for you too. Well, at least for you it will probably sound bad, I feel quite neutral about it and I don’t perceive it as a tragedy or even anything near it. You will not pass your math final exam after high school. Moreover, you will decide not to rewrite it.

There was that man who told you that you won’t fix yourself by studying psychology and becoming a therapist, and you felt offended because he was assuming and implying that something was wrong with you and that you were selfish, and I think you also felt very insecure because you knew he could be on to something. I know that your intentions weren’t selfish at all, but, as you’ll see for yourself later on, he was actually right, in a lot of ways. Because, you do know deep down that it is not normal to feel the way you feel, all the time, don’t you? And you do realise that many things in your life and functioning aren’t the way they should be? Well, you will need time to come to terms with this, and one day you will understand that it is yourself who needs help, before you can give it to others. But also, this is not your fault, as you think and as everyone is making you feel or even telling you, indirectly. I do not like you much more than you like yourself, if I’m being honest with you, but I want you to know that this is not your fault and that some people, even those you seriously wouldn’t suspect to be, are way more selfish than you think, others are clueless. You are clueless too. You will learn and discover some difficult things about yourself and your life circumstances, I am still doing that and in a way it’s getting overwhelming, and so confusing, but you will learn to live and cope with those things you learn about yourself, but also making those discoveries will be helpful, as life and your whole situation will become a bit clearer for yourself and others, and it is always easier to deal with something that you know at least a bit. As I said, life will really get better. Your brain will get better. The mere relief from having to pretend that everything is OK will make a difference. You will find a lot of friends online, not the same ones as you have right now, although I know many of them are cool, and don’t let anyone tell you that online friendships are any less valuable or real or something. You will find very supportive and understanding people with whom you will often have a lot of things in common, in one way or another. I know it feels awful right now but don’t give up just yet. And, while you will still have a deep interest in psychology, maybe even deeper in some ways, I think you will grow out of that idea, and instead you will decide to focus on your languages more. Well, that’s at least what I know now, who knows how things will get in the more distant future. As for more distant future, currently I have no idea how it will go, and it feels somewhat scary even to me, but I am trying to be hopeful because otherwise I would have no right to tell you not to give up, as my life is way easier than yours.

Zofijka is almost your age now and a lot of what you thought she’d be like has come true. She is very bubbly and energetic and talks all the time, and she loves sports and One Direction and currently has become enamoured with Japanese men, and yes, she loves clothes shopping and changes her clothes all the time, but she has a very distinctive style despite being a very average girl in a lot of ways, and you’d be surprised how very mature she is deep down. I think you would like her. Though she is very different from you, and thus very different from me, and so we not always get along.

I really don’t know what else to tell you, other than that there is hope, so I will be finishing, because it’s 2 AM and I feel like I should go to sleep. Yeah, I still tend to write at nights, but now it’s my choice, and not a necessity, and I realise it’s a luxury not only for people like you who feel they lack privacy but most people actually, who aren’t able to manage their time on their own. Ah, and I can tell you that you will live in times of a pandemic, which is happening right now, I guess you’d find that interesting, for example to observe how people are behaving. I find it interesting myself, but while it’s changed our lives all around the world very much, it doesn’t feel scary for myself so far. Maybe just because it is not a norovirus pandemic, haha.

Your future Bibiel self (I no longer call myself Bibiel all the time, only sometimes, you have to adjust to the society at some point, but I still am Bibiel and am loving it no less than you do)

Question of the day.

What is the most useless piece of advice anyone ever gave you?

My answer:

I probably can’t remember what was THE MOST useless one, but my Mum, who can generally be a good advisor, sometimes has given me quite crappy advice, and she seems to be especially crappy advisor when it comes to thinking. Or we just think in very different ways and are not able to imagine the way the other one does. Or my thinking is too strongly impacted by the anxiety and all that shit. Anyway, her best advice for me was: “You just have to stop thinking sometimes. Just switch your brain off for a while”. I asked her if she can seriously switch her brain off on demand, or does it happen randomly. In any case, if that happened to me, I don’t think I’d be particularly happy. My brain can be an uncooperative bitch, and obviously I hate anxiety and overthinking or when my thoughts are racing or other things that my brain is either hyperactive or not efficient enough at doing, but still, I do like my brain, I guess I have a real love-hate relationship with it, and I believe that, since I already have it, it would be a bit nonsense if I wanted to switch it off. I’d be afraid that if I did, I wouldn’t be able to switch it on again, and I don’t want to be a brainless Zombie, that’s way worse than having anxiety, even a lot of it. Yes, I know that some people who meditate can get into such a state that they practically don’t think, and some say it is relaxing and healthy for the mind and soul and all that, but I don’t like the idea at all, and some things about some of such meditative techniques don’t go in line with my beliefs. I did use to try doing some lighter meditation, as well as Christian meditation, but it was always extremely hard for me to focus on. I think I can’t say I have low attention span because I can do quite a few things at once as long as it doesn’t involve being able to coordinate your movements well, but I do have a hard time focusing on thinking about just one thing for an extended period of time, it’s boring and quite exhausting in a way. I just think about a lot of things at the same time always. Another thing my Mum used to say frequently that pissed me off incredibly was: “Don’t think about it”. Yeah, don’t think about the white bear. πŸ˜€ I think it is possible to just stop thinking about something if you try hard, but, well, at least for me, it takes a lot of effort, so usually I prefer to distract myself with something productive or do something relaxing rather than force the damn thing out of my brain for all means, doesn’t really pay off, or not for long. But I guess that works for my Mum somehow, because it seems like she frequently deals with negative things by just “erasing” them. Not if they are serious things that require some action, but, to give you an example, you may or may not remember Sasha, the other Russian blue kitty who used to live with us for some weeks. Mum decided to get him very spontaneously, without really thinking it through, what that would mean, for us and for him and for Misha, and we were all elated, everything was arranged literally at last minute, and it was quite a massively selfish act of us to do that and very much on a whim. Then it turned out there were various complications, they didn’t get along with Misha whatsoever, were both awfully stressed out and got sick from it, and Mum got quite depressed about it, I mean it seriously looked as if she was depressed, she would lie with Sasha on the sofa hardly able to do anything and was very dejected and overwhelmed by the whole situation, so very much unlike her. So we had to find a new home for Sasha, when things got really bad. We did, and he seems to have a great family, and we were happy for him that he will have a better life after all, but we were also really sad quite naturally and missed him, and a bit sorry for ourselves. The way my Mum coped with this situation was she didn’t speak about Sasha at all, and didn’t want to hear anything about him, or otherwise she snapped at people, so there was a bit of a taboo in our house for a while. It seemed like she wanted to ignore that he ever lived with us and forget about the whole thing, erase it from her brain and not think about it. And she really seems quite successful at it. I know that people often do it in an unhealthy way, that they try to stop thinking about things and make them disappear this way rather than do something about them, but, as far as I can tell, it is not unhealthy in her case. It is certainly not the way my brain works, though, so for me, that was absolutely useless advice. In the Sasha situation, neither me nor Zofijka wanted that to happen that we would forget about him completely, because despite the sadness, we were also very fond of him and we did want to talk about him and remember him so we did with each other. And while we all can still be sad when something reminds us of him, I think all of us coped and adjusted to the situation to a similar extend, despite applying different measures.

How about you? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

Do you follow your country’s politics? What do you think about the current political climate?

My answer:

I do have an interest in it and it matters to me, although it’s not like one of my main interests or something that I’d give a lot of thought to every single day or be regularly very worried about the state of things like some people are. I like to be up to date and oriented in the most important things or those that matter to me particularly strongly, and I like to be able to have concrete views on them, but I don’t get FOMO if I sometimes am not up to date and I don’t like to overwhelm my brain with too much news or political speculations every single day because I generally tend to overthink things, and politics is not something I’d have a direct impact on so it’s pointless to ruminate on that overly. My Mum and grandma tend to care about politics so very much which is great in a way, because it’s important to care about your country I think, but on the other hand it’s awful to stress so much over things you cannot really change and catastrophise like my grandma does. I don’t like though when people go for the other extreme – are not involved at all in what’s going on saying that they no have any influence over it, don’t vote and have no real views of their own, but still complain about all that’s going wrong in their country according to them, and selfishly take for granted all that is positive.

As for the political climate, I am really happy that, since the 2015, the party I’ve been supporting ever since I’ve gotten some clearer idea about politics (PiS, or Law and Justice in English), has been in majority government, and that our current President (Andrzej Duda) is of the same political option, as, to put it shortly and simply, since the fall of communism until the above mentioned 2015 Poland has been ruled by “former” communists (from parties like Civic Platform or Polish People’s Party or Democratic Left ALliance), or their children or close relatives. Actually, the first Polish president after the communist period – Lech WaΕ‚Δ™sa – who was given Nobel Peace Prize and whom people glorified and authentically perceived as a true statesman and someone who was going to make a real change, was a pawn in hands of the communist government and spied for them, but of course that came up officially only recently. Our current government is far from flawless, as is the situation in Poland, but I don’t think there are flawless politicians anywhere in the world, just as there are no flawless people in general, and, at least for now, I don’t think there is a better option, and they do a whole lot of good, and actually visible, change, even though it’s going slowly, because it takes time to rebuild the country after so many years of inefficient reigns, and some people are complaining about that, including those who actually have voted on them, like my Dad for example, because they seem to think it’s such an effortless process.

How about you? πŸ™‚

Reasons why I’m learning English.

Nearly a month after starting up this blog, I wrote a post about all the

Reasons why I’m learning Welsh

and a year ago, I wrote a similar post concerning my

Swedish.

With each of them I felt like they got quite a bit of interest, so I’m going to continue it this year as well, and write about English. Let’s see how many reasons I can come up with

1.

Isn’t it obvious? English is obligatory in schools in most countries, I guess. Or at least in all countries in Europe. So, you could say I didn’t have much choice. πŸ˜€ Before I went to school though, I was already subjected to English thanks to my Godmother, whose English was on a pretty good level for a person growing up in the 80’s (communist period – learning Russian as a second language at school) and not needing English for professional purposes. I guess it’s more common for people about her age or older to learn English now even if you don’t need it for work, but I guess back then in early 2000’s there wasn’t as much pressure yet. I believe she started learning English around college and took private lessons and while she wasn’t and is not fluent, as I said, the degree to which she knew English could feel a bit unexpected, plus she’s very communicative by nature so such people don’t need a whole lot of vocabulary to be understood. Anyways, she taught me a lot of things before I went to school, and one of them was some very basic English vocabulary and a bit of fondness for English, which probably helped me more than I normally realise to remain positive about the language itself even when I started to see that English as a school subject is MEH, and pushed me to learn it anyway. So by the time I reached school, I remember I was actually euphoric when I heard on my first actual day of school that our next lesson is going to be English. I associated it with home and with fun things and I liked it as I said, so I was super happy that I would be able to learn it at school. Sadly, I didn’t have particularly much luck with good English teachers throughout my education. I’m not saying they weren’t competent or anything like that, probably some were more, and some were less, some were very nice, some were very unpleasant, some rather bland, but the great majority of them just didn’t do anything to me more than help me prepare for the necessary tests and exams. Of course I had to learn basics at school and I did, but after that, although I was learning English throughout my whole education, I feel like school didn’t give me much in that respect and I taught myself the most. Neither did school motivate me to learn English, in fact, my first English teacher wasn’t particularly likeable person and I don’t think she cared much if we liked her subject or not. I became disillusioned quite quickly and realised that, while English may be a cool language, the subject is just deadly boring. And my view on that became even stronger when I started to seriously learn on my own and became actively interested in learning English and not just ticking off exercises in the textbook. I don’t think it is solely that I just happened to have bad teachers. I think it’s the case with most people here, and that simply the way language learning and teaching is perceived in our country and the level of English education in our schools is terrible. Basically, unless someone has some extra English classes, or wants to learn on their own or something like that, most people go out of education being barely able to communicate. And since Polish language is way more complex than English, the problem cannot be with people”s brains. People get out of schools with the mentality that they are supposed to speak perfectly, with no grammar mistakes or otherwise someone will kill them, and if they can’t do that, they won’t speak at all, even if they do have enough vocabulary to speak decently. And English lessons are not interesting, or at least they are rarely as interesting and fun as language learning could be. My Sofi writes down tons of words and rules she doesn’t understand, and when someone in her class is thinking independently enough to ask the teacher for some explanation and say that they don’t understand something, the only thing she’ll say will typically be: “*sighs theatrically* Oh my, what do you still can’t understand? It’s easy. You have to practice more at home. How many more times am I going to have to explain it?”. Well, the majority of Sofi’s class go to extracurricular English at a language school. Those who do not, have very bad grades. And I assure you that Sofi’s school is not an exception. But OMG I could rant about education system and terrible attitudes of people towards language learning for ages. πŸ˜€ Anyway, I did get the basics of English at school and I’m grateful for that, but that’s all that any school or individual teacher did for my foreign language education. There also was that teacher who was having conversations with me for a year in preparation for my final exams, and admittedly he helped me to feel a bit more confident in speaking, and most certainly contributed to the fact that I got 100% from oral English,but not much else, although I hoped he would be able to teach me some new things. He was most keen on talking about himself though. πŸ˜€

2.

Because English is everywhere. That’s why I kind of feel for English natives. On one hand it’s so cool when you can go almost anywhere in the world, read almost anything you want and not have to make the effort of translating, understanding or learning another language. But on the other hand, people miss out on so much when they don’t learn a new language, and when everyone speaks your language, what motivation can you have to do that? So it’s a bit unfair on the English-speaking folks and only for their sake I wish we had some artificial or dead language to use internationally, rather than deprive a certain group of people – a large group of people – from the benefits of learning a language and developing their brains even more. Anyways, the rest of us does have to learn English if we want to have a somewhat broader perspective on the world. Internet is huge and you can read a lot in it, do a lot with it and learn a lot, but Polish-language part of the Internet seems so mini mini compared to English. I wouldn’t be able to do so many things that I do if I didn’t speak decent English. I wouldn’t be able to restore my synths, to give you a recent example, haha. My Mum tells me that about once a week “You’re so lucky that you speak English” or “I’d like to know half of your English”, so I am constantly reminded that I should be grateful for that, and that I was given enough determination to learn it myself, and, more than determination, just plain luck, because I don’t really feel like I made some huge effort with my English, from some point on it just came to me on its own, I guess via a lot of exposure. But perhaps not everyone can be that lucky, or not everyone can make use of it or realises it. Some people like my Mum constantly complain that they can’t speak English but when you actually confront them about it “So why won’t you try to learn it?” they will have tons of arguments, including that they are too old, too stupid, too busy, too lazy, don’t have a talent (there’s no such thing as talent for learning languages unless you want to have a native accent, you just have to find the right method for yourself and that can be tricky) to name a few.

3.

Because I plain like it. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I didn’t like English though. Would I still be so keen on learning it? My experiences with other languages show that not necessarily, because my effects at it seem to be strongly correlated with my feelings for it. I can’t quite imagine learning and being good at Esperanto for example, even if it was the international language. Of course I would learn it at school if need be, and would continue it if I really needed it, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be anything more than average. I was learning German at school (and I like German more than Esperanto, because I don’t like Esperanto at all) and, unless I put a lot of conscious effort into learning it, I was just having rather mediocre results, and forgot most of it very quickly after finishing my German education, even though I did have an ambitious plan to continue learning it on my own, but that just went out the window before it started properly.

But I do like English, and I do like the culture surrounding it, the diversity of its accents, which we don’t have in Polish, and – what I’ve mentioned in both Swedish and Welsh posts, I feel a kind of bond with the nations speaking my favourite languages. English is also the most boring of my languages because it’s so mainstream-y and it’s everywhere and it spoils the experience massively, but still, it’s so cool and so rich!

4.

Because it can serve as a bridge to the whole Celtic world for me. Of course English is used in Britain and all its Celtic regions, and as a Celtophile it’s very important to me. It helps me to develop my Celtic passions and discover more about all the Celtic stuff, the folklore, the languages, the people…

5.

Because it enables me to meet interesting people whom I wouldn’t be able to meet otherwise. As well as like-minded people. Actually, the most development of my English skills is largely due to all of my pen pals. With some of them I’d onnly written for a while, more or less short, but with some I have developed great connections and friendships and I am so thankful for that.

6.

Because it helps me with blogging, and generally expressing myself. I used to blog in Polish for years but it wasn’t quite as fun as it is now. I feel like I can be more candid about a lot of things on my English blog and that it was one of my better ideas in my whole life to start an English blog. It works both ways – my English learning makes my blogging better, and my blogging stimulates my English learning in an incredibly effective way. – As for expressing myself, since my English skills have improved so dramatically over the last few years due to a lot of exposure, penpalling and blogging, I also write my diary mostly in English. I’ve written frequently about that I find each language useful for different kind of writing, and that it also corresponds with different kinds of emotions for me. I will write about the specific emotions of English in a while, but first, I want to say more generally that I find it much easier nowadays to express myself emotionally in English. Where feelings are concerned, but also more specifically, any kind of mental health difficulties, especially more complex stuff, somehow it’s much easier to put it in English. I’ve come to the point where sometimes it’s easier for me to find words describing some things in English, rather than in Polish, and what I want to say sounds more clunky in Polish. πŸ˜€ The emotions that in my synaesthetic view correspond particularly strongly with English are especially love, pain, sarcasm, playfulness, sadness, emptiness, anxiety, comfort, passion, euphoria and loneliness.

7.

Because it has enabled me to build a more stable support network and become both more aware of my mental health struggles, as well as deal better with them. Again blogosphere and penpalling have helped me immensely with that. Previously, I couldn’t really say I felt free to talk to anyone about what I was experiencing. Partly because I didn’t really understand it myself but also because I simply either didn’t feel like I could trust them, or I knew they wouldn’t understand. Now, thanks to my English, I have found a lot of people who have similar experiences to me or even if they don’t, they are still very supportive and I want to support them as well, and I feel like I’ve made more meaningful connections with people even though they are just online. All this keeps me motivated to develop my English further, and actually makes it develop on its own because obviously the more you use a language, the more it develops.

8.

Because there’s lots of great music in English and I want to know what it’s about.

9.

Because then I can be helpful to my immediate family who are all practical monoglots and sometimes need to translate something from English. Especially my Dad who is a tanker driver, and it’s hard to be a tanker driver and often supply foreign ships with fuel and speak no English. I often don’t have the vocabulary that he needs anyway, but some vocabulary is better than none. At least I can help him how to describe the word he needs to use and then because they are oriented in the field, they understand quickly what he wants to say, unless their English is poor too. πŸ˜€

10.

Because there are so many cool accents. I’ve already said that, but it deserves a separate mention. I LOVE that feature of English that it’s so rich in dialects and accents! You can tell where someone’s from just by their accent, and here we can’t really do that, or at least not to such an extend as you! Polish language is much more universal. There are several major dialects that are commonly recognisable, but they aren’t many and not many people choose to speak them on a daily basis, and our dialects are mostly different because of specific words that we use in different regions, rather than accents as in pronunciation differences. That doesn’t mean there are none, but an average person who is not a language geek and has no interest in such things will not hear those subtle differences or at least certainly won’t be able to tell someone’s location by them, unless someone’s accent is really super strong and very commonly associated with a specific area which mainly concerns eastern accents that are influenced by languages like Russian or Belarussian or Ukrainian or perhaps Lithuanian. My grandma has roots in all of the above mentioned countries and despite living in the north for years people can usually hear her long and soft vowels and identify correctly and always ask if she’s from the east or something. But that’s a rare case. I consider myself a language geek and the only things I can recognise are those Eastern accents, some subtle things that are specific to Silesia or Lublin area, and some stuff specific to the highlands and that’s it pretty much. This is due to the fact that after WWII people were massively migrating from countryside to towns and moving around different regions, so the accent has unified a lot. I think it’s such a pity. That’s why for some people the whole concept of an accent is a bit out there and they don’t really know what it is in terms of English. For example my Dad asked me not long ago what that whole accent thing is in English, is it about word stress (because that’s what we call akcent in Polish), or that people have some speech deffects or what, hahaha. And for a long time I didn’t get that either. Like how can you hear that someone is from Sheffield or New York or Glasgow or wherever unless they tell you? πŸ˜€ I didn’t hear those differences for a long time either. Only at some point one of my earliest English online friends started to teach me about accents and then one day something clicked in my brain and I started to gradually hear them and now I think for a non native I’m pretty good at distinguishing at least the British ones and of course between which one is British, which Australian and which American, though I have a very hard time distinguishing American accents from each other or I can barely recognise English US from Canadian or New Zealand from Australian. With understanding it really depends on how out there someone’s accent is and how quickly they are speaking. I also like to think that my own accent is very good for a non native, and that’s what people have been telling me, both natives and non natives, though I’m sure I do have to have still at least a bit of Polish accent, not that I can hear it myself (I can’t, but you can’t be a good judge of your own accent I suppose), but because I don’t know many people who have just gotten rid of their accent, and also it is not something I am aiming to in itself, because I guess it would feel weird if people couldn’t tell at all that I’m Polish, as if I was a bit less Polish or something and I don’t want that, and I like to imitate different English accents though, while I can speak some kind of US English (or so I believe) I am much better and more comfortable at British and I have more clue about how to imitate different British accents than American ones, especially the of more or less general southern-ish/Rp and more or less general northern-ish. The only British accents that I know that I cannot imitate convincingly are Geordie and Scottish. But being able to fake different accents has come to me much later on and after a lot of immersion and listening, before than my accent was just kind of Ponglish. Now the only Ponglish I can make is the very extreme one, I believe I can’t speak sort of in-between any longer like I used to – with not overly strong but definitely audible Polish accent – it’s either hardcore Ponglish or normal English (with a possible little bit of Polish as I said), and the extreme Ponglish one I use either for making fun of some kind or with Poles who can’t understand my normal, English English otherwise like Sofi. πŸ˜€ Playing with accents is so fun.

11.

Because English is so rich in colourful phrases, idioms, sayings and words. I believe that must come from the very wide variety of influences on this language. Polish is a very rich language in this too, but English seems much more than any of the languages I’ve learnt and sometimes it overwhelms me how many brilliant and fascinating words I don’t know how to use yet. Every language has its words that are untranslatable, but English has just so many! Or maybe it’s just my impression? It’s so flexible and you can do so much with it. Swedish is also flexible and you can make a lot with it, but I guess not to such an extent. I really lack some of the English expressions in Polish these days, especially when talking to someone who speaks only Polish. πŸ˜€

12.

Because it lets me read more books, and because reading in English is fun. And because I want to read even more in English. I already read most of stuff on the Internet in English, but with books so far the majority of what I read is still Polish, even thoughh there are more and more English ones thrown into the mix.

13.

Because it lets me learn more about my music crushes/fazas. Even if they aren’t English natives. Usually, especially at the beginning of a faza, it’s easiest for me to find info on my crush in English.

14.

Because, apart from helping me to develop my already existing interests, it helps me to build new ones.

15.

Because I can learn other languages through it. Like I do with Welsh right now. It has its upsides and downsides, but if not my English skills, I wouldn’t be able to access Welsh resources that I can.

16.

Because it shares a lot of similarities with other languages. Swedish for example – when I first started it, I was told it’s just a blend of English and German. – It’s very simply put but it’s true to a large degree, and my English and Swedish definitely help each other. Also while English is a Germanic language and Welsh is Celtic, they influence each other so that helps to some extent as well. And I’m going to learn some more Germanic and Celtic languages in the future, so I am sure English is going to be helpful with those too. Both because I am most likely going to learn them through the medium of English, as well as because they share more or less similarities.

17.

To develop my brain. I’ve written on my brain paranoia and wanting to avoid cognitive issues especially in the Welsh post. It’s hugely important to me.

18.

So I can talk to Misha in English or to myself. If you want to read about my experiments with Misha and foreign languages, I recommend you reading the above mentioned posts. Of all the foreign languages, my English is the best, and so I can communicate with Misha the most easily, if I want to talk to him in a language other than Polish. I also think he responds to it the best except for Polish of course, but that could be due to many reasons, including my autosuggestion.

19.

Every language makes your perspective broader, and kind of adds you a new personality. This is just interesting to observe, but is also great in some self-development, or just self-discovery. It’s interesting to see your thinking pathways in Polish vs in English vs in Swedish, for example. It’s interesting to see in which moments and in what kind of situations my thinking switches from Polish to English or back to Polish or to Swedish, or when it’s a mix of all that plus Welsh. I definitely tend to think about more emotional stuff in English, the same as with writing. Recently I’ve even started automatically praying in English. πŸ˜€ The first time when that happened, I only realised that I’m praying in English a few minutes after I’ve started, and that was so hilarious. But obviously God is very multilingual so I let my soul and brain pray in whichever language it’s convenient as long as that doesn’t get in the way of prayer itself because for example I think more of how I should put things rather than focus on praying itself and on God. My dreams have been a linguistic mix for years now.

20.

Because it’s fun to have more than one language to swear in. Even though Welsh or Finnish is better for that than English, English is quite bland and cliche I don’t know why, and most people here know the basic words like fuck or shit so it doesn’t feel the same.

 

21.

Because it can help me with anxiety, as well as with depression, see the posts above for details.

22.

To be able to understand at least some slangs to whatever extent possible, as well as dialects and other such interesting language creations.

23.

To have access to English-language media, like radiostations, and actually understand what they are saying, and not just immerse myself in the language as I’d been doing for years.

24.

To challenge my social anxiety. See the posts above for details.

25.

Because it’s easy. So why not?

26.

Because people wouldn’t treat me seriously if I only were learning some endangered, minority languages. I wrote more on that in the Swedish post. But also, even if I spoke Swedish, I guess that still wouldn’t look as serious if I didn’t speak any English. πŸ˜€

27.

Because, just like with Swedish, I hope it will be also useful in a more practical way, occupational for example. Who knows.

Yay! I thought there will be less reasons for English because it’s so obvious but there are even more!

If you are a native speaker of English, what do you like it for, or why do you not like it? If you are an English learner, what are your reasons for learning it? πŸ™‚

 

This year so far.

A couple of days ago, the writing prompt at Word of the Day Challenge was

year

and so I decided to write a bit on how this year has been so far for me.

The first thing I immediately think of when thinking of this year are the dreaded tech issues of all sorts, as well as changes. As you know, I had my computer changed, which was planned for months in advance, and was supposed to take place much earlier that I’d finally transition to it but in the end there were a lot of unexpected things happening. At first, the fan in the new computer got broken on the delivery to me, which was back in September of last year. That made it useless but the delivery company decided to cover the costs of a new one for me and then the new one was sent to me not long before Christmas. And just some time around Christmas as you may remember, this one stopped working too, as it turned out later on, also due to the fan being loose, but the ways in which it manifested were so weird and puzzling to everyone that it took a while to figure it out. I had it sent back to the company who helped me with choosing it and setting it up and they fixed it – luckily I didn’t need to buy a completely new computer this time – and then they sent it again back to me. And, surprise – after a few days, some time mid January – the fan was loose again. Obviously this time I didn’t send it anywhere but just my Mum took it to a nearby servicing place but we were scared doing even that ’cause what if such simple transportation will make something else go loose. The guy at the servicing place put it in place more firmly and since then, I’ve had no fan issues thank God and hopefully it will stay this way. As you can imagine, this has been very stressful to me, and made my transition process even more difficult, as it was a rather unwelcome but necessary thing to do for me to begin with, and presenting a lot of small but at the same time significant changes in itself. Not only was it a transition from a laptop to a desktop computer, but also I switched systems and had to stop using or replace a lot of apps I had been using. With all that glitching at the beginning, and such a huge delay, my brain was ruminating like crazy and the whole thing was much more scary than it probably would be in other circumstances. I’ve mostly gotten used to my new computer by now and I like that it’s more efficient than my laptop, and I’m usually quick at learning things, but I still have some getting used to and figuring out to do, especially that, at least for me, learning is one thing, and adapting a completely different one. And to this day, whenever I hear the slightest click or creek inside of it, I freak out that something is loose again, and my tolerance to tech issues is not very high these days haha. After the fan saga has finished though, I was still left without most of my speech synthesisers and had only a few of those I actually own. For some, I lost the licence because in that loose fans havoc there was a lot of major and deep system digging and repairs done on my computer because people didn’t know what was the problem and it looked like a system error. That all led to my licence being irretrievable. As I shared in the last Weekend Coffee Share, I’ve been contacting the company producing those speech synths, who were very unresponsive to begin with, but once they did respond to me things started to happen relatively quickly, and I am happy to announce that yesterday I finally had that remote session with the support guy, the one I was so strangely anxious about, and it turned out my anxiety was not adequate this time round, because it was not only super quick but also – yes – successful! So quick and successful that for a good while I couldn’t believe that it was all OK and was sure something will soon come up and be wrong again. πŸ˜€ But now I have my new licence working and my English, Scottish, Finnish, Sami, Faroese and Dutch speech synthesisers. As soon as we were done with that I also wrote their distributors who are closest to me from whom I’ve got my original licence and asked them if they could upgrade my licence to Scandinavian, because I need Swedish voices now (I had had a very good Swedish voice on my laptop but it’s no longer produced and seems like I am not able to activate it anymore so I need to look for something different). But I am so happy I’ve regained so many of my voices and that all my stalking them via email and phone, in English, Swedish and Swenglish which was probably much more stressful to me than to them paid off. πŸ˜€

Also, another piece of good news regarding synths is that, it seems like there is a slight glimmer of hope I may yet get back my Jacek synth – the Polish one that I love so much. – I just need to experiment a little bit with something I just discovered and who knows, that would be so cool! I’m still disconsolate that, just like with my Swedish voice, it’s very unlikely I’ll ever get the Welsh one back, and it was very helpful with my Welsh learning, even though I am learning north Welsh and it was south Welsh and that was getting in the way sometimes, but still, it was a lot of help especially with reading longer texts because my own reading in Welsh is still a bit sluggish. On the other hand though, it will probably just motivate me to read more myself even if it will take ages. πŸ˜€

Those first two months were also very gloomy and depressive to me. You know that I have dysthymia, so, while the way I feel can often be shitty, externally I am usually rather high-functioning as long as not too much overwhelming stuff is going on. My physical energy levels are usually also not that bad that it would be noticeable for outsiders that something is wrong in this particular regard or at least I think so, unless my blood pressure is particularly low or something which does tend to happen a fair bit of time if I don’t stimulate myself with something in the morning or if it’s hot etc. While I often have to force myself to do even small things especially if I feel worse than my dysthymic baseline, and force myself to feel things sometimes, to be more enthusiastic and all, I generally don’t tend to experience very bad anhedonia or at my better times (especially when a crush peak is involved) none at all, and as you probably know my fazas and passions (plus now also Misha since I have him) are the only things that keep me going and wanting to keep going, even if as I said there are times when I have to force myself to feel some enthusiasm to them, and sometimes the only thing I can force myself to do is only faking it for the sake of other people. Towards the end of last year, and at the beginning of this year, my anhedonia has gotten worse. I associate it with the fact that my current or last dominant faza/crush on Gwilym Bowen Rhys has been slowly fading (which absolutely doesn’t mean anything like that it’s going to fade completely or that I don’t like him anymore – fazas for me are a bit different than what most people understand by a crush and so far none of the major ones I’ve had has just gone away, they are still there but just in the background) and as I said my fazas are very important to my wellbeing, they inspire me, help me to develop, learn new things, discover new things, make my life more bright and add more dimensions to it, and the so called crush peaks – that is periods when faza is particularly strong are especially pleasant and make you feel a bit high, kind of more creative. – Generally I’d say fazas are like fuel for my brain, my creativity, but also what drives my passions. Usually, when one of my fazas starts to fade discreetly (at least that is how it had been before) soon, before it fades to any serious degree, I come across a new one. Well not this time. And so, as you also probably know, I’m trying to help my brain and frantically looking for some new faza myself. Normally I don’t have to look for them, they just come to me. Sometimes via other people, sometimes a string of events, or somehow else accidentally. I associate my recent anhedonic tendency and lower energy and feeling flat and having to fake things with that, but it’s possible that other things have been also involved, possibly something deeper that also doesn’t let me develop another faza, who knows. And I’m sure the recent stressful stuff hasn’t been without an impact either especially that my anxiety, specifically the more kind of situational one, always drives the depression very much. I’ve been at very different points with my dysthymia and I’d had a few major depressive episodes before I was even suspected to have dysthymia, but I’ve never been on any antidepressants as such. And I’ve always felt like, as long as it will be possible for me to cope at least somehow, I’d rather not be. I would really not like to become overweight due to them, for some reason this has always felt the yuckiest effect of them for me, even though theoretically I shouldn’t worry perhaps because I’ve been either bordering on or underweight for years now. But the recent state of things got me thinking whether perhaps getting some medication to boost my mood wouldn’t be wiser. I haven’t made up my mind on that, but since a week or so, I’ve noticed a bit of an improvement, despite I still don’t have a major faza. Perhaps it’s again due to the stressful stuff resolving a bit. It’s good to feel more pleasure out of life again, it’s a really yucky feeling when you have to fake things and force yourself to everything and just nothing makes you feel better. On one hand I want people not to see the way I really feel because it’s pathetic and doo all I can for them not to see but on the other when someone who knows about my struggles says it doesn’t show I feel like I’m just attention-seeking or manipulating people or just evil or what not, even though what I want is definitely not for people to pay attention to my depression as I said. I know it’s Monkey Maggie talking but I don’t have enough bananas to stuff her with to keep her quiet, as I don’t like them at all. That’s a dilemma… πŸ™ƒ My anxiety has still been pretty high though, or rather it’s like different of my anxieties are coming to play at different times.

I’m pretty happy with the way my relationship with Misha has been evolving this year. I have an impression like we’ve become closer in those two months. Recently I am trying to help him the way I feel could help with his fear, I’ve mentioned many times that he is so afraid of closeness and touch and movements and is generally very fearful and on one hand he does like to be cuddled, petted and spoilt and wants to show us his affection, but on the other he’s scared of it, the reasons of which I don’t fully understand other than that he’s afraid of touch, so then there are frequent situations like that when Misha comes to someone very closely and then suddenly turns back and runs away, or hhrrru?’s at someone to come over and stretches on the floor and as soon as this person comes closer he goes away as well, or he is afraid to come over to his food bowl when someone’s close to it, or hides under big objects when there are people around, or something. It’s not always like this but like I wrote recently sometimes he’s much more courageous than at other times. Anyway, I’ve been doing one thing with him every evening before bed – that is on days when he decides to sleep with me. – I don’t know if it’s right because I have very little idea what is on his mind and what his fears really are, and a huge obstacle for me is that in contact with Misha – and probably all other cats – it’s eye contact that can tell you the most about him, and in Misha’s case it’s even more important because he doesn’t always respond to touch very well and is not particularly vocal, so it’s just what I think could be helpful. – I simply sit on my bed with his mini sausage, and I ask him to come to me, and once he manages to go on my lap, then I give him the sausage. I have to ask him repeatedly and it can last even 15 minutes but even I can feel how his mind is working and analysing, whether to come or not, and when he comes to me he does it very slowly and cautiously so I can’t even move too much or otherwise it discourages him. But, sooner or later, he does it, and I can give him the sausage, so I think in fact he is a very brave Mish, don’t you think? My Mum is laughing that brave is the last word one could describe Misha with but brave is not the one who doesn’t feel fear, right? When he manages to do that, so far he has always slept soundly with me, without showing much distress and having to leave as he often did before, so perhaps it’s seriously working. But apart from that sausage challenge, even before that, I feel we’ve been getting along better and understanding each other better.

My language learning hasn’t been as dynamic so far this year. I’ve been doing a lot of Welsh repetitions but not much new material, mostly because of having to get used to all new stuff, also my new situation with learning that I do not have a Welsh synth any longer. Besides I didn’t have any good English synths until yesterday either and I am learning Welsh via English. While I can read things like blogs or emails or websites etc. in English with a Polish synth with no problem and I’m used to it and sometimes it’s even better, in language learning, it’s not such a good option, not for me anyway. Also the most plain reason was that simply my motivation hasn’t been great lately due to feeling blah and I was just being lazy. I am hoping to get more consistent with it now that I do have English synths.

Okay, I guess that would be all about my beginning of this year, I can’t think of any other major stuff going on that would be worth mentioning.

How has this year been for you? πŸ™‚