30 May, 2010
How are the above 3 topics linked? Well, the last two are easy to put together, but it would seem a bit of a stretch to join them to achievement!
Firstly, the achievement. It’s been a dream of my son’s – a bucket dream (“what I’d like to do before I kick the …….”!) – to jump from a plane, freefall and land safely. I certainly concur with the last bit of that sentence!! Anyway, it was his 21st birthday on Friday, and he’s not a lad who has asked for much for Christmas or birthdays, ever, so his Dad and I decided that we would like to splurge out and give him an experience that he would never forget for this landmark birthday. His choice was to do accelerated freefall from 15,000 feet.
Anyhow, (and slightly envious), I signed him up for a course. What neither of us had realised was that there was an intensive day’s training in the classroom before he would be allowed up to jump. Obviously safety is the paramount focus, and students are drilled in techniques designed to keep them alert, focussed and safe whilst in the air, having to report in to their instructors all the way until chute deployment.
Accelerated freefall is when you jump solo (ie not strapped to anyone), but you do have two professional instructors holding on to your suit to ensure that you are safe. The suits have stuffed padded tubes attached to the side of the arms, body and legs, which the instructors can hold on to. As you get more experienced, they hold on less, until eventually, after several assisted jumps, they don’t hold on at all.
Chris was initially disappointed that he wouldn’t be likely to jump on his birthday, but he got over it quickly and decided to enjoy the day which was amazing. 9 hours of training in body position, drills, parachute checks, alertness checks etc, was quite challenging mentally. Then the forecast came up that wiped out Saturday and Sunday because of rain and high winds. That was a disappointment.
They sent up a scout plane to check on conditions at the end of the day, and with only light cloud cover at 7,000 feet, (they deploy the canopy at 6,000 feet), and wind velocity within safe parameters, and because he had done well with the course, Chris was offered a jump on Friday evening which he took with alacrity! So he experienced his first free fall jump on his 21st birthday! And what an experience. He was thrilled and elated!
Who knows whether he will decide to extend his course and become a qualified freefaller, or whether he treasures this one jump as an experience of a lifetime – he was really pleased with his parachute and landing skills, but not impressed with his freefall technique! – but this one jump has been a tremendous achievement in his life! And I am so proud of both his achievement and his attitude to disappointment!
Back to procrastination and laziness – ok, so whilst they may not have a direct correlation with Chris’ achievement, in one way they do. I have always thought of procrastination and laziness as inaction or the inability to decide on action. However, I have now been shown another way to look at them. Everything we do is an action – even if we decide to sit on our butts watching TV all day! Procrastination and laziness are ineffective action. For me, that is enough of a mind shift to eradicate them in my life. If they are an action, then I choose to do them. If I don’t choose to do them, then I eradicate them. So the connection with achievement is the opposite side of the same coin - achievement is a positive action, whilst procrastination and laziness are negative actions. I can still choose to sit and watch TV (although life is much more interesting than that!!), but now I know that I have chosen to do that!
24 May, 2010
This year is a bumper year for family celebrations in my family. My father recently celebrated his 80th birthday, and he is a very young 80 – more like in his 60s, mentally! It’s wonderful to see him so enjoying his life and being really active in many organisations, including recently joining a choir!
This weekend, it was the turn of my Gran – Dad’s mum. She reached the stalwart age of 100 this last week and received her card from the Queen!! We had a big family re-union in Gosport, on the south coast of England, closest to the Isle of Wight, which is where Gran has lived for a number of years, and were able to re-connect with cousins and second cousins and see the entire 5 generations together in one place! It was amazing. Gran has 4 children, 7 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great grandchild who flew in with his mum (he’s only a few months old) from Canada.
We all came together from different parts of the world and the UK, with one common purpose – to celebrate the life of an amazing lady. Gran has seen so much change in the course of her long life, and lived through the two world wars, losing her father to the first one. While she may not have instant recall of everyone’s names, she certainly takes in what is going on, and is far more astute mentally than she lets on!! She was watching her great grandchildren with such love, and although a little overwhelmed at times, she is far more alert and focussed than many people twenty or thirty years younger!
Families can be wonderful or dreadful! I am so blessed to have families on both sides – both my husband’s and my own families – where everyone gets on and enjoys each other’s company. Each family has their characters, each one has clowns that entertain, and each one a core of love and affection. Individual relationships may get a bit strained at one time or another, but deep within the wider core of the extended family is a well of love and respect and belonging.
Celebrations can take many forms – next week, my son is celebrating his 21st birthday with an accelerated free-fall jump from 15,000 feet - but underpinning everything is a deep connection to each other, a trust that we are always there for each other, and that we are joined together in a familial bond that will always be there.
I feel very blessed to be part of that.
11 May, 2010
Hunches and instinct are quite often dismissed by people as not important. If you are an emotional sort of person, and you believe in hunches and instincts, do you find, as I often do, that more left-brain types look down their noses at you, believing you to be in thrall to your emotions and over-reactionary? If you are more considered, do you become uncomfortable by feeling things that don’t fall into measurable compartments? Like most people, I am a mixture of both, and on occasion have decided to ignore that feeling that something isn’t quite as it should be, usually to my detriment!
One of the books I’m reading at the moment is ‘Blink‘ by Malcolm Gladwell (he of the famous Tipping Point). The basic premise of the book is about how we make quality snap decisions about things and learning when and how to trust these feelings. Most of us have this ability although it can sometimes be wrong, but it can more often than not be right. The reason I’m writing about it in this blog is that it follows on really nicely from a previous post about spotting patterns.
You may recall that I was wondering about how mathematicians, scientists, doctors and musicians also can make good weavers, and that my observation is that those kinds of minds are good at spotting patterns. Well, in the first main chapter of Blink, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the “critical part of rapid cognition known as ‘thin-slicing’.” He goes on to explain that “thin-slicing refers to the ability of our unconscious to find patterns in situations and behaviour based on very narrow slices of experience.” It is fascinating reading, and if you are interested in why we can make effective snap decisions, it is a worth while book to read!
For me, one of those instant cognition moments came several years ago, during a walk with my previous dog, Kym. It was winter (have I already told you this story? Apologies if I have, but it’s worth repeating!) The trees were bare and stark against the winter sky, and I looked up at the silhouette of a hawthorn tree and thought to myself – “that’s a fractal“.
Then I did a kind of mental double-take. I know I stopped walking and stared up at the tree, whilst my mind was frantically running around in speed-time, thinking things like “where did that word come from?” “What on earth’s a fractal?” “How do I know this?” “Where should I go to find out about fractals?” “Is this a proper word?” I also know that I asked the dog what on earth a fractal is?
We’ve probably also all had those moments of suspicion, when somone doesn’t seem to be acting quite right, only to find out later that they just went on to committ a crime or hurt themselves. There may not be anything obvious either in their behaviour or their demeanour, but we are aware of something slightly off – something not quite fitting the pattern. Also, there have been those moments when you feel that you shouldn’t do something just yet, and later you find out that you avoided a tragedy. That feels like it’s crossing into spiritual realms, but it could be because your subconscious spotted something out of kilter and warned you off…
I’ve only read the first main chapter so far, but the book has me hooked! It has an easy reading style and is full of real-life examples that get you thinking! The subtitle of Blink is ‘The Power of Thinking Without Thinking’. If you have a curiousity about things, you’ll love this book!
5 May, 2010
You’d have thought we’d all have had enough of volcanoes just recently, wouldn’t you? But it seems I just can’t help myself! I’m now weaving them! Yesterday it was dunes and waves, today it’s volcanoes!
I was watching The Wonders of the Solar System on BBC iplayer last night – The Thin Blue Line episode – and I was struck time again by the textures of both volcanoes and their inverted form, craters. The creasing, pleating and puckering on the side walls, the pinnacle or central depression.
I looked back through some textural weaving samples I’ve done previously, and decided I could adapt them into volcanoes, so that’s my challenge for the day. If successful, I’ll show them alongside the dunes and waves in my lectures in Complex Weavers seminars and Convergence, the Handweavers Guild of America’s biennial conference, at Albequerque this July. If they’re not successful, I’ll try again with a different technique!!
Nature is just wonderful for inspiration – as is the BBC! And National Geographic, and Discovery Channel…. It’s amazing any work gets done with all this beauty around us. All we have to do is look.
And then work out a way to weave it!