Sunday, 22 March 2015

Ramblings on Gratitude - week 12

There are 3 principal means of acquiring knowledge… observation of nature, reflection, and experimentation. Observations collects facts; reflection combines them; experimentation verifies the result of that combination. Denis Diderot; French philosopher, art critic and writer; 1713-1784.

I’m pretty content with my ability to observe and act on those observations. This ability serves me well as a researcher but also as a teacher. I’ve learned to tune in and pay attention to new things. This has taken years of practice. And I realize I will never stop learning. Our brains aren’t meant to see everything. We have learned to focus on specific things and then filter out everything else. I like to challenge myself to pay attention to new things. Expand my skillset. It is important to realize, to expand your skillset; you need to retrain your brain to pay attention to what’s important at that moment.

When observing you have to realize that your memory is lousy. You really can’t rely on your memory. So when you need to really pay attention, you need to take all sorts of notes and keep careful track of the things that are likely to matter. So you have to decide what you want to look for to retrain your eye. Actually you need to sometimes be aware that you need to retrain all your senses. Your brain can play funny tricks on you. Keeping a logbook all of a sudden seems a very handy tool. But making a photo of film clip is just as effective to improve your observation skills.

Challenging yourself by training your observational skills is easy.  Just take field notes. Pick a place, sit down, and write out everything you see. This trains your brain to pay more attention and observe more.

I would love to be a profiler. I love observing people. Trying to understand why people act as they do is another area of interest. But first I need to understand why I do things as I do them. I’m really better at observing others, than I am about understanding myself. Why is that, I ask?

Reading body language and expressions is a great pastime. I’m not so good in detecting lies. I always look for the good and expect that the ‘others‘ have good intentions too. As you may realize I get disappointed often.  People aren’t as nice as I want to believe.

Observing is great but it becomes useful once you learn how to pick out the patterns. Detecting those patterns is a great intellectual endeavor. At the moment I’m trying to teach ‘others‘ to detect those patterns. The more you observe, the more you ask why. The more you ask why, the more you learn. The critical thinking that follows is what can help you come up with new ideas, new insights. It is amazing when you see this happen. I make a happy dance, when I realize I’ve enabled others to experience the wonders of observation.

HMB Endeavor (replica of Captain Cook's ship)
the British Royal Navy Vessel that Captain Cook commanded
on his first voyage of discovery of Australia & New Zealand

Combining the observed patterns with your own experience allows you to predict what happens next. Predicting the effect of my teaching makes me glad. A sense of joy arises.

I’m trying to slow down and stop to pay attention a little more than usual on Sundays. Sunday is my slow day. I try to focus on one thing. Today I’m focusing on observing. My observations turn into new ideas by critically analyzing what I observe. It is important to ask yourself lots of questions. This improves your deduction skills. You will be amazed how many questions pop into my head every moment. It is tiring sometimes. To question everything! I’m training my brain to make connections between things and build a greater body of knowledge. Inductive reasoning is my preferred approach.  But using top-down logic (deductive reasoning) comes just as easy to me. This really comes in handy when you are a teacher, who teaches about research methods.

All of a sudden I’m pondering about abductive reasoning. Need to understand this a little more than I do at this moment.

As a quiltmaker observation is a very important skill. I first need to study how the technique is done before I can do it myself. Actually, to be truthful, I just copy and before I know it I’ve become a practitioner.

A practitioner is a person who regularly does an activity that requires skill or practice. As a quiltmaker, I can say making quilts by hand requires skill and practice. Synonym for practitioner is interpreter. To understand something, you first need to observe.

I’m learning a new technique. I’m learning to make my first Cathedral window quilt. I’m using the pink fat quarters cut into tiny little bits of fabric for my cathedral windows. 

The start of my own Cathedral Window quilt

Hopefully it will look like something like this, one day!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Ramblings on Gratitude - week 10

Life sends us serendipities; it drops little miracles into our laps.
~ Michelle Wildgen ~

I really wish I could say, I thought up these words and made them into this sentence. It depicts how I really feel at the moment. It is like I’m floating effortlessly with grace through every moment at the moment. I know that these moments of happiness are fleeting states, but this feeling is very addictive. This high needs to be feed, as I don’t want to relapse from feeling in grace. Addiction isn’t about substance – you aren’t addicted to the substance (happiness), you are addicted to the alteration of mood that the substance brings (Susan Cheever). I’m in a great mood. Mentoring and tutoring students to learn how to apply their research knowledge and skills is my regeneration. I’m cultivating grace and nurturing it like a garden so that I won’t relapse. What I love in those fleeting moments of mentoring and tutoring is that I’m learning too. Those new insights are my serendipities.

Grace for me is the experience of awe, gratitude and being in harmony with myself. It is the harmonious integration of my body, mind and spirit. This harmony creates a profound feeling of happiness as well as spiritual, emotional and mental freedom. Grace is a precious present, that I want to nurture for ever. Grace is gratitude for all that I have now. I’ve re-found grace and will do anything not to lose it. As soon as I feel my mood changing, I’m starting to discover how to reconnect with grace. Isn’t that great?

Happiness is wearing your Capri jeans because in your mind it is spring while it is only 10 ˚Celsius outside. But the sun is shining and the skies are blue, which is all I need to make me happy.

Feeling elated, as I’m back blogging again.

Feeling content, as I’m able to show some progress as a quiltmaker.

I’m going to be doing the Mountmellick workshop at Pour l’Amour du Fil in Nantes. Sadly I won’t be able to go to the Pendle Hill workshop that Di Ford is giving on Friday. I would also have loved to have gotten a pre-view of her new quilt and see how this quilt is made. But I will be going home on Friday. On the bright side, I will finally start with the Mountmellick!!! I’m probably the last one on earth to be starting on this quilt, LOL. But this does have some advantages: I’ll be getting personal instructions from Di her self, I don't need to look at the videos when I encounter a challenging block. I can also change some aspects of this quilt and give it a personal touch. I'm thinking of choosing another border fabric. This is a picture of the quilt, one of the quiltmakers in the Stonefields Bee has made.

Did you know that I’m also doing a workshop with Irene Blanck in Nantes? I’m going to be making the Miz Kelly Flower Vase block. Sadly, no pictures to show. Will post my progress sometime in May.

But coming Wednesday I’m going to learn another new technique. Going to learn how to make a Cathedral Window. Bought these lovely fabrics for this quilt. I’m going to start out by making a small quilt. Who knows I might like doing this so much that I will continue and make a large quilt. There is nothing like having lots of WIPs (Works in Progress).

I had a lovely day yesterday in Zutphen. We had our monthly Stonefields Bee. Yes, I'm also making the Stonefields by Susan Smith. My list of WIPs is becoming longer and longer. 

The Stonefields quilt above and the blocks shown are not made by me! They are made by other quiltmakers in the Bee. We are lucky quiltmakers as it looks like we will be able to continue working on this quilt next quilt season (2015-2016). 

To end this post, I'm letting you know I'm going outside to bask in the sun now (it is 12am) and read a book about learning how to teach. I need to substantiate my competencies and skills with knowledge and theory, LOL. Doing this while being able to bask in the sun makes me happy.

Cheerio blog readers, 

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Ramblings on Gratitude - week 9

Pondering on reflection. This solo retreat last week was awesome. Some would call it Spring Break but for me it was a retreat.  It was therefore also a time of reflection. The full definition of reflection: 1. An instance of reflecting, 2. The production of an image, 3. Something that shows the effect, existence, or character of something else, 4. The action of bending, 5. Indirect criticism, 6. a though, idea, or opinion formed or a remark made as a result of meditation, 7. Obsolete, 8. Consideration of some subject matter, idea, or purpose, and 9. A transformation of a figure in which each point is replaced by a point symmetric with respect to a line or plane.
It is an old word. First known use was in the 14th century although its origins are from the Latin word reflexio (source Merriam-Webster).

I’m reflecting on my learning style. I prefer focused, structured, and complex with an emphasis on concepts and relationships. This is so scary, this insight.  It explains why I’m curious, a true researcher at heart. What is even scarier is to realise, I only buy into a team that is trying to achieve something special or that will help do something worthwhile. I’m committed to my job, as I truly believe that research skills can help you become a reflective professional. I’m not motivated to ‘doing a job’. The job, chore, needs to be important (to me), I need to believe in what I do.  I’m either reflecting or crusading, nothing in between. I’m choosing reflection over crusading. It is hard for me to channel my energy, as I’m incredibly serious and earnest. Crusading takes up too much energy. I’m always on a quest to better understand myself, but also to better the world. I spend more time than most on reflecting on the complex nuances or shades of grey in issues. This sometimes leads me to battle for ‘change‘.  I’m starting to wonder if  I act like a lose projectile. Need to focus more on my goals and not on those of others.

This week was great because I was able to think deeply and intensely about my actions.  I have to accept that not everything fits into my values ecosystem. It is not realistic to assume  (wish) that work, life, beliefs; people are all connected as a whole. Harmony cannot always reign.

I’m coming to accept that I need lots of ‘recharge‘ time. Well the great thing about this week was that I feel ‘recharged‘. Got back into walking. Something I need to do a little later this day too. On average I walked 3.5 kilometers every day.  In no time I’ll be back walking 4 to 5 km per day.  I also finished 4 blocks of the Dear Jane this week. Nearly completed the 5th one!

The above picture is of the G-3

 J-8 in progress

I’m happier than I have been for a long time and that makes me feel good. My physical health is slowly improving too. Feeling a lot healthier than a week ago! I’m grateful for this week. When is my next vacation? Or should I call it ‘recharge‘ week? The upside of working in education is that in 8 weeks I have another week off.

My challenge for coming week: May I learn to practice holy indifference when it comes to others opinions of me. May I lose my sharp ability to discern disapproval, be it real or perceived, so that I may move toward others without fear or agendas. Keep my heart light like a sacred balloon. Emily P. Freeman, 2015  Thank you Emily, for providing me with this quote and inspiration.