Dec 14, 2007

Destination happiness

I have recently discovered that I’m a very happy person. Most of the time I feel good or at least know what should I do to get out of my misery. Here I have listed some of the lessons I have learned and continue learning every day.

Take responsibility over your life. No one else can make you happy. If you don’t like something, change your attitude. Or change something in your life. Never place your happiness in other peoples hands, this is your only life.

Focus. Worrying about the next moment doesn’t help you much in the current. Use the ones you have. Don’t carry with you the burden of worries, make your mind sharp and focus on what is here and now. There is a way through, but to find it you need resources which stay hidden if you are not concentrated.

You are not perfect. This is nor an excuse nor a motivation. This is just a fact. Accept it. Accept every weakness you have, look right into the face of it, make it yours, feel comfortable with that. Your weaknesses are actually part of your strenghts.

Stay positive. No matter what. Enjoy the little things if big ones are broken, see the perspective if the moment is painful, look into yourself if others have lost their faith. You see what you want to see. And yes, stuff happens, get angry if needed, be emotional if you don’t see other way, but never about the person or life as such, it’s only the situation that you don’t like.

Love yourself, you are the best version of you. Only the ones who love themselves are capable of loving others. So not all people will like you, you will love them despite of that, they too are on their way.

Nov 22, 2007

Hidden deep message

So - what is the deep message of the following video? There definitely is...I'm sure...when we were making it it seemed that it's there:)


PS: LC Tartu, you made magic this year with the Pancake party! Thank you!

Nov 11, 2007

All you get are opportunities

My neighbors have a baby. I have never seen him, but I hear him quite often. When I’m already in my bed, enjoying the last moments of the day, I can hear him crying. When I wake up in the morning and eat my porridge I hear him again. Sometimes I also catch the voices of the parents, the rulers – or prisoners - of the little kingdom.

I can imagine the little room next door . It is filled with specific smell, a mixture of milk, diapers, urine, cream for baby's sensitive skin. In this room seems that even the toys, baby clothes and all the widgets to make the mothers life easier are part of the smell, because the reality is so packed and small that it’s hard to break it into smells, physical objects, feelings and state of minds.

When the mother goes out, she looks like a normal woman with her baby carriage. I’m quite sure she puts on her make up before going out (she is a young girl, a student), washes hair and maybe also irons her clothes. So the carriage looks more like an accessory while the girl wonders on the streets, shops and cafes.

But she’s not an ordinary woman. She is a mother who has a little baby. The fact that she is out with her baby carriage is only possible because the baby has sleeping time and wherever the woman has to go it can’t take too long and she is back at home – or a safe harbor where it’s possible to feed the child – before the child wakes up – or his demanding starts to annoy other people.

The life in the next door has a specific rhythm. Every now and then there are events that break the routine or actually add new elements to it - a new teeth, time to switch from breast milk to puree, first hair cut, suddenly the first words. And so the story goes till I don’t hear the crying anymore, which just means that life has moved on to new era, no worse or better than the previous one, but definitely with new routines and challenges.

The weird thing is that life in the next door is no different than the any other life we people are having. Life is made of small pieces – events, people, smells, moments of exhaustion and moments of happiness, sicknesses, headaches, fights, truce, aging, silence, noise. Life is as it is, it has it’s way, ups and downs. It goes and goes like a river, until it’s over.

So whatever is there – it’s nor good nor bad, but it’s life and it’s all you have. Life itself is wonderful enough to stay curious and grateful for everything it brings, not trying to control everything and gaining control by being flexible enough to go with the flow. There is no real reason to admire, to be jealous or to pity anyone else, as this is just how the story goes – all you get are opportunities, which sometimes might look like dead ends or just ordinary days in a row.

So I wouldn’t like to discuss if this or that event that happens to you in life is good or bad, but rather what you do with the events you have.

Oct 15, 2007

Only stories

A while now I haven’t directly written about AIESEC. I’m working as a president of this organization in Estonia, being involved full time and working daily with topics that I’m personally passionate about – individual development, discovering your strengths and finding your future career, problems in the society around us etc. Yet I’m discovering every day that I’m not working for AIESEC.

There is no such thing as AIESEC, it doesn’t exist in itself. It gets the meaning only through different stories, through people who are living their life in a dynamic and challenging way (is there any other way to your true self, at least in the beginning of your journey?) and giving the meaning to the organization by caring what is happening in the world and gaining deeper understanding about themselves.

It sounds easier than it really is.

When you start your journey you have no idea what you are connecting yourself with. There have been times when I’ve asked myself: „Why is this organization doing this to it’s members?” Once you start going it’s inevitable that you meet challenges, a lot of them. Staying awake in the night to cope with your responsibilities in AIESEC, finish your school works, reply all the e-mails and be able to face your sweetheart in the morning while trying to explain why you put so much effort in your work isn’t the hardest one. Yet this is something you can solve with learning time management.

The hardest part is to start facing yourself. Start realizing who you could be and seeing the gap between your dreams and reality. Facing the feeling of failure when you are not meeting your own expectations, which you soon don’t even know are your own or coming from other people.

AIESEC makes your life hard. You can’t stay in your box anymore. You move on or you give up. And as you move on you don't expect someone else to help you to reach wherever you want to go. It's about you, standing up, going on, learning and finding the meaning every day.

I believe living your dreams is not easy. No-one tells you how you can reach your dreams, there are no books written on the topic „10 steps for your personal success, Marjam Vaher!” (and the ones about Richard Branson, Nelson Mandela and Jack Welch are about Richard Branson, Nelson Mandela and Jack Welch, not you).

Starting to realize that reaching your dreams or even recognizing the right one is harder than dreaming itself makes you humble. How can you judge others when you know the work behind it?

So AIESEC is nothing more than a playground for people who are yearning to find out where the dream could lead. Challenged by the environment, expectations, responsibilities, people, tasks I feel I’m growing every day to become more connected with what I could be. Me and the rest of the 23 000 members.

So there is no AIESEC. Only stories.


This is EuroCo facilitators dance video. Every time I hear this song I remember the moments I had during past 10 days in Lithuania. I have to smile every time and feel grateful for being able to experience such times, people, fun and happiness.

Sep 28, 2007

Time for questions

What is busy? Is busy a choice or an inevitability?

What makes you feel good? Are you working to feel good or hoping to find the key to your happiness by filling your days with activities?

Are we being perfectionists because we want to have a great result? When is great GREAT enough? Do people want to do great things because it makes them feel great or it makes others think they are great?

Are we afraid to feel good about ourselves because we are not perfect? Are we judging ourselves because we want to please other people? Can we be perfect? And if not – is continous forgiving an automatic ingredient of love? Should we ask forgiveness for not being perfect or should we wait for acceptance? Is judging the problem of the judger or the one being judged?

Why people don’t appreciate themselves? Why is it so hard to love the imperfect self? Can you love others before loving yourself? Is the criticism coming from hurt self-picture? Can you open the door outside before it’s being open inside?

Is the ability to ask right questions coming through doing wrong things? Can you seek for balance before being out of balance and touching the opposite border of perfect peace? Are hard experiences send to teach us the most important lessons we wouldn’t be able to learn through happy experiences?

Nothing is better than being in peace with yourself. Knowing you are not perfect and still love every day you have. Makes you appreciate others as they are, even if you not always agree with them. Makes you judge the situation, not the person. Makes it easy to forget and forgive, makes you want to contribute without wanting back, because in the end it’s still about you – feeling alive, connected, loved and happy about your life.

Sep 20, 2007

Inspired by failure

Having an opinion is not easy, right? There are many opinions in the world, having yours means you disagree with some. So the easy way is a) not to share yours 2) change your with the direction of wind 3) speak in such mild words that no one understand what you mean 4) not to have yours and go with the flow etc

We can and have to be able to change our opinions. We need to listen and we need to understand other point of views. But I think there are things we can’t make compromises and there are times when we have to make a point. Not because we want to create a conflict, but because the matter is too important to watch silently.

I think there are some universal principles in the world we should never make compromises about and trying to respond to external expectations is never going to work out. Good intentions are not good enough. Good intentions to make others happy create confusion in you, distract you from your inner path and actually make your story in this world quite irrelevant as it doesn’t go anywhere, just stays in the middle.

So yes, I have an opinion, which sometimes has made me feel as a lighting rod for negative energy, but is also a base of my inner satisfaction.

I think that complaining is a waste of time and complaining makes me bored. I think that arrogance is a highway to loneliness and I don’t want to spend too much time with people who are arrogant. I also think that arrogance can easily be mixed with fighting for a cause and that people who truly fight for something are bound to create conflicts around them.

I think that avoiding a conflict ends up in a mildness and mild people have lost contact with their true self. I believe that living up to your potential is not easy and that you need support to succeed. And I think that most of us are scared and lonely, but we are equally scared of losing our social status to talk about it (maybe only not when we’re drunk or also as referring to past experience).

I think that what distinguishes some from the others is the fact that some keep going even if they are scared and through that keep finding what they are looking for. Others put majority of their time on talking, complaining, excusing or are just occupied with irrelevant details to keep them busy that this makes them internally unhappy and not fully satisfied with their life.

There is so much around us that tries to make us give up. I have found out that the truly inspiring stories are not about success. They are usually about failure. They are about people who did a bad mistake, who insulted someone, who screwed up a big project, who didn’t manage with their tasks, who were beaten at school, who didn’t have any friends etc. They are usually inspiring because they are only told by extremely brave people, who have succeeded neither the less.

People who truly fail never speak, they hide.

People who CAN talk about their failure can do it just because they kept going though no one else thought they could, even more – that they should move on. And it’s inspiring exactly because it’s so human to fail, we all do it every day, we all have expectations we are unable to meet – or others have expectations we are not meeting. And as sharing your failures is not a common thing, we might think we are the only freaks.

But the fact is that we are not. And realizing that the only way to succeed is through a failure – just always standing up and moving on, a little bit wiser and more experienced – is giving the needed hope.

That’s why the real, authentic leaders are humble, they know the price. I believe that success and failure are so connected that you can't have one without the other.

Why I love writing?

Clean sheet.

I can freely fill it with all kind of thoughts I have. With thoughts that have nothing to do with my work, my to-do list, my daily hurries. I’m free to think and create freedom around me. Out of routine, to a different world that maybe will exist some day because I’m thinking about it now, maybe just stays as an inner conversation, maybe influences someone else. But it creates freedom around me, fresh air, new ideas.

I need new ideas as oxygen (my God, it sounds as such a cliche, but there couldn’t be any deeper meaning in it then there is for me), I can’t live in routine. I need to have emotions, colors, bravery, adventure. I need to have meaning in my life, I need to feel I’m alive.

Clean white paper has always been most inspiring for me. It contains so much potential, it hasn’t been influenced by any idea and it’s up to my fantasy what I do with it.

Aug 19, 2007

Answer to my grandmother

In past two years I've been traveling quite a lot, which has mainly been to different AIESEC conferences and international meetings. As I've also written before - going to an AIESEC conference is not the same as traveling to some specific country. Yes, the conference takes place in Egypt or Macedonia or Turkey as now, but during the conference you are dragged into a different world that is put together from different nations, set schedule, knowledge and ideas and you barely sense the culture and world outside of the plenary.

Before coming to Turkey my grandmother asked me in a concerned way (yes, she still thinks life outside of your known area is more dangerous than the one you have tried already): "Why are you going to all these conferences? What do you really get out of communicating with all these people?"

In a way the impact of my experiences from conferences might be hard to measure. The international network I have built might not last more than 5 years (if even so much) after AIESEC and I might not use it to the full potential for making business or something else concrete out of it. So if the size of my international network would be the only measure of my success coming from conferences (and I'm talking about personal gains, not organizational, which are obviously bigger) then it would be very hard to explain to my grandmother why am I actually investing so much time into conferences.

But as I've realized the network itself is not that important as the ability to build the network again in any given situation. Simple communication skills, art to talk to people and feel comfortable among different mindsets coming from various religions and cultures. You learn all of this also in your everyday work in AIESEC which is very much team based, but conference situation is the most intense and practical lesson to learn the art of networking.

During my stay in Turkey I won't update my personal blog, but will write regularly in our MC blog which can be found here

Jul 10, 2007

Where Marjam got the nice tan

Here I am in Torino, relaxed, brown, energized, full of pizza and pear juice. It's the last stop of the 10-days trip we made from South-Croatia to Italy, probably the best vaccation-like vaccation I've had. Among other things I discovered during the past days that I really enjoy working and it's unusual for me to be too long departed from the work I love and care about. But it's another story and a serious issue for me to think about :) Right now I will go and drive with Torinos new, full-automatic metro made for Olympic games, take advantage (just kidding, ofcourse) of Italian hospitality and practice the stupid smile I have in store for relaxed times.

Some highlights of the journey:

- glazing streets of Dubrovnik, the city I would love to visit once more and take time to fully discover and enjoy
- tropical rain that almost blew us over in Split oldtown
- waterfalls and wild, untouched nature in Plitvice national park - lakes full of fishes who look as if you can feed them from your hand, ducks who look you as a sight, views that take your breath away
- clear and bright blue water everywhere in Crotia, salt that attaches to your body and face
- home-made icecream in Krk island (the name sounds as if sand was between your teeth), the place my sister was on an AIESEC internship
- jumping from 7 meters cliff right into the Adriatric sea (took me 5 minutes to get over from the fear)
- autocamps - some with the view on the sea, some on the neighbors tent, making dinner and eating it on the mattress, preparing the tent, walking in the neighborhood, waking up in the hot tent
- mountains outside of the car window - changing their face during our journey from South-Croatia to the North
- signs of passed war - houses with bulletholes, abandoned villages and burnt down villas
- car - reading in the car, sleeping in the car, talking in the car, looking for more comfortable position to sit in the car, laughing, singing, looking outside of the car-window. General - car. Volvo.
- Venice, the town that surprised me with the unfriendliness, high prices and feeling of being ripped off all the time, but also gave some unique, memorable moments
- Verona, town of peace and harmony, feeling of belonging (Romeo and Juliet balcony is pointless, btw)

Now soon back to Estonia. Let's drink some Coca Cola light for that.

Jul 1, 2007

Learning from people

Couple of weeks ago we made an interview for AIESEC E-book project, where famous and successful Estonian entrepreneurs share their stories. It’s published and distributed in autumn as an CD to inspire and educate young people to become entrepreneurs or just to get new ideas for their own future.

Our interviewee Andres Koger is the top executive of one of the biggest construction companies in Estonia. The area his working in is masculine – construction. He has been in this business over 20 years, gone through some really tough times, started from a scratch with no-one believing he could succeed and built despite of the tough competition and lack of support in the beginning a profitable and strong company.

What would you expect a person with such background would stress? Hard work, determination, setting high goals, being better than your competitor? Where have his experiences taken him?

Seems so that there is something connecting successful people, at least according to my experiences – they all care about some spiritual values that matter more than material ones. He even told: “Setting money as your goal is a formula of failure,” which was based on his own experience when he went down with his business.

It was assuring to hear him talking about some really simple and humanistic values – sincerity, honesty, passion for your work, caring about people, family.

Some lessons he shared and that stayed in my mind:

Everyone wants to be loved.

Good leader is sincere, honest and opened and knows thoroughly his/her field of work.

To get you have to give, the more you give the more you get.

Searching for balance is the meaning of life.

To love means taking risks. You have to open yourself – both for love and both for getting hurt.

He told us that people tend to surround themselves with thick walls to protect themselves from getting hurt. But the weird paradox here is that the thicker the wall, the stronger the attacks. So the more you try to protect yourself from the cruel world, the crueler it gets and you have the impression that world is full of tensions and all bad things happen to you. So you get even more closed and stony, moving away from your personal happiness.

So how weird it might sound – giving to others only serves your own interests. You can be happy only if you give away, not keep for yourself.

The other thing that related with my personal experiences and redefined them in somewhat new way was this: children are sent to you to teach you.

He has five children and all of them are different. His wife has asked: “How come they are all so different? I have raised all of them the same way!” He believes the child is sent to you for a certain lessons, the right child for the right moment for the right person. And if someone doesn’t get any children – it’s again the way it was supposed to be.


Talking to people is a great source of learning for me, especially when people have something to say. I will most probably always stay a student, because the more I learn the more I realize how little I know and especially how far is my theory from practice. Older generation doesn’t give me much hope either – the brighter ones of them say they are learning themselves as well. As Andres Koger put it: “I’m still a student myself.”

May 14, 2007

Lost in translation

This weekend I decided to cut my school to-do list short and finish some things I should have already some time ago. With enthusiasm I opened the file - and felt how my energy is absorbed by the first sentence (I wouldn't dare to translate it into English:):

Oma paradigmaatilisel kujul on poliitiline kohustus igal legitiimsele poliitilisele autoriteedile legitiimselt alluval isikul või isikute rühmal lasuv kohus kuuletuda selle võimu legitiimsetele korraldustele.

Translating philosophical and scientific texts into Estonian is something to be grateful for.

Yes, I agree, I support.

But please - not directly from the other language, some "ABC of Estonian" would help to popularize the texts among students.

I'd end this posting with the very last sentence from the same text:
Et aga püsiks rahu, võib meil alati vabalt vaja minna Leviathanit - ja vaja minna lausa hädasti!

Golden words, golden words!

PS: If you need advice who you should NOT hire as your personal translator, ask for hints:)

May 12, 2007

Memories take over

I came yesterday to Saaremaa, the greatest place to be from (it's OK to say it also about Narva, Puka and Kõpu – but for me it's this special island). My parents are divorced, so only my dad, brother and cats Vasja and Valdo Kuubik are living in my childhood big house (Kuubik is the one, who would have died in Tartus winter unless brought here).

Often when I'm here I get the chance to rest and reflect, as the environment has this special calming effect on me. Even falling asleep in my old room, surrounded by my cheap, but valuable children book collection, pictures and poems on walls and diaries in the bookcase I feel connected with something I can't really describe.

Compared to my childhood days things have changed here. My dad is running a small company now and unlike being a farmer as 15 years ago it obviously means more spare money. My dad is from a very poor family, because living in a countryside at '50s and '60s in Estonia meant struggling for your everyday bread. After Estonia gained independence my parents tried to establish a eco-farm, but as ecologically pure food wasn't exactly a hit these days, it was a waste of time and resources.

I was raised in the spirit of valuing education and achievements from my mother side and humanity, spirituality and learning from my father. I never wondered too long over the question, if we have enough money or not, because material values weren't in a too high place in my world view (that before my late teenage years, where I protested heavily against many things, including having too little clothes and others things I felt I desperately needed). I was living as a normal city-girl (yes, 15 000 people in my hometown Kuressaare sounds more like a village to some, but for me it was always a normal town, though I wanted to escape to “free world” since I went to high school).

Now I see it's a bliss to be from a simple family. And always great to come to your roots, see how things change for better and feel happy for the ones who have given you your memories and if I'd want to be very sentimental, I'd also add "life". But this gets too philosophical, because defining "life" is beyond the act of being born and raised. I still have this feeling of gratitude then being here, which mixed with many other little positive pieces influence my ability to concentrate on school-work and other everyday hurries.

Actually I wanted to write about something totally different in the beginning, but ended up in a history trip. My topic today was: “How I cleaned the fridge”, because it was the most colorful event I've had in past days. I wanted to tell what happens to a household, when there is no woman living in it and it's totally left for guys. While I was cleaning the fridge, where I found food with best before date January 2007, expensive salmon gone bad and of course lot of fresh food, which was in such amounts, that no way two men are able to eat them before the best before has passed, I was thinking about womens role in Western society. I wondered if women maybe try to be too equal sometimes and resist of taking the role of the spirit of the household. And how wonderful it is sometimes just to be the simple cleaning lady and create order in chaos.

But I guess about gender roles and balancing your life in the future.

May 11, 2007

Games we play

Today I happened to be at one meeting where I didn’t know anybody too well. There were around 15 people, a person responsible for the meeting and one man, who was making a presentation. The topic isn’t important, but the fact is that he was a lousy speaker. Lot of pauses, no structure, repeating obvious facts, insincere, thoughts jumping from one place to another, so you could go mad by just trying to track one sentence.

As I had to be there, I was trying to concentrate and act politely. Yet my impatience was growing with every sentence, as I felt my time was being wasted and I gained no new information. So I looked out of the window, played with my fingers, observed other listeners and searched any other way of entertainment.

At one point I started to look more and more often at the person responsible for the meeting, growing agony naked in my eyes: “Please, lady, do something, end it!”. But as she had invited the speaker, she obviously felt more responsible and was listening with special care, asking additional questions and ignoring my and many others sufferings. Truly, I hadn’t felt a long time as when I was a child, sitting in church and listening to speech I don’t understand a word of and my parents have accidentally left my color pencils at home.

So I came to the stage where I was already playing fantasy games. I imagined how I would stand up and just sincerely express my feelings. I’m sure you’ve all played with thoughts you never really plan to realize. And suddenly I noticed the huge contrast between the thought-level and reality. All the people accepted the situation as it was and smiled. The lady and the speaker had a conversation like: “Yes, this is so relevant and informative what you are saying! I wish people like you would speak more often” and reply going in the same bureaucratic jargon: “I’m pleased and thrilled to be here. I’m sure you are all busy people and have your other obligations, but you took some time from your schedule to come here and contribute to this debate we are having.. etc etc”.

Suddenly everything seemed almost unreal as if it was a big play and we all were actors in it. Everyone knew their part is if someone had taught it to them.

You know children, the impolite creatures, they are always the ones who say improper things to strangers and make the parents feel uncomfortable. For example tell a neighbor, who has rang the door-bell, that mother can’t come, she is changing her sanitary towels in the bathroom (as happened to one woman I read from a magazine). Or ask: “Why does this uncle look so angry?” with a loud voice (which is just a common situation for any parent). Children don’t know that life is full of different games and you have to know the rules. So they are sincere and shock us, because we have forgotten, that there is world outside of the rules set by our environment.

Next time you spend time with a random group of people try to look the situation as if it was a play, where everyone have their part. If you are among your friends where people feel totally comfortable you probably meet some difficulties. But when you are in a situation, where people see each other the first time and the set is more formal, you most probably will be surprised (and have much of silent fun). I can imagine, that a person from a different cultural background (might even say, that from Estonian countryside, where etiquette is something different) would have felt very confused in my described meeting and wondered, why no-one says what they really think.

I don’t encourage now to set aside all the rules, games are part of the everyday communication and make our life easier. But I’m sure it’s possible to play these games in a more authentic way and even then meeting a important CEO or any other opinion leader, where the rules should be even more fixed, some out of the box sincerity doesn’t hurt. In fact – I think being human is always the best choice and desperately needed in the world, where people sometimes wear masks just because they’ve forgotten alternatives.

I’m glad we have children, though, to remind us the “ABC of being human”. Raw material, I admit, but better than crap already carved in stone.

May 4, 2007

See the beauty all around and in yourself

Yesterday morning I woke up covered with cold sweat. I made a few steps and almost fainted on the floor. It was quite unexpected to lie on the floor at 7AM and think: “Something is wrong with me. I’m not quite sure what, but seems so that not some ordinary sore throat.” Later in the hospital it turned out I had a bad tonsil infection and I had to be operated the same day.

It’s very easy to be happy and energetic in a situation you control. When it comes to your health you might get scared and lose much of your rational thinking. It might seem that you’ve lost everything you’ve learned by this point of your life and you are just defenseless against some powers stronger than you. I’m sure the first minute I wasn’t quite my usual me and if someone would have asked me how I feel, I would have replied with some empty complaining I usually deeply despise.

But when lying there and thinking through my logical next steps, the words of the PR-professor Kaja Tampere with whom I made an interview several months ago came to my head: “Success comes from the abundance of your experiences.”

She told me to experience different kind of things in life, this is the base of success and happiness.

Abundance of your experiences.

What if any kind of situation you ever get in is just a new learning experience? Unknown, yes, but not scary. What is the worst thing that could happen to you? You die? What if even death is just a new experience? I’ve always found comfort from the thought, that I won’t be sad about my unlived life after I’m gone, because I just don’t care then anymore. I better do my best when I’m still here, so I have nothing to be sad of when my time runs out.

These thoughts are again something much easier to think than to do, but aren’t our actions always first determined by our thoughts? If I don’t dream and imagine things bigger than I am right now, how could I ever reach there?

So I decided then not to get scared, after all – this in only a new experience. All the meanings come through our evaluations, life is very simple and natural, there are no judgments in it.

I became curious about the operation, about the general anesthesia, about other patients in the hospital room, even about the pain. I wondered if my relaxed mind will help me to recover quicker and if I will suffer more after the operation when I did the week before it. And I was curious to see if I lose my balance when it gets really painful and uncomfortable, how will I act and how will I overcome it.

I feel thankful for all kind of experiences. Of course I’m not especially looking for bad and painful things, neither do I justify doing purposely something illegal or harmful to yourself or others. But life is as it is and it sends you different kinds of experiences and sometimes the only thing you can choose is your reaction.

I feel as if I’m going from a learning to learning and get stronger in my journey. It very often frees me from anger and leaves me the right to observe the situation and leave a bit wiser. Whenever life offers me an opportunity to get mad, to feel as if I’m losing or as if I’m being judged or someone is unfair – I give my best to see in it a way to learn. Not always do I succeed and sometimes I feel overwhelmed of my emotions, but even in these moments I find the comfort from the thought: “The abundance of your experiences is what really matters.”

So it’s not about my tonsils operation, this is nothing. It’s about the parallel I can take with other situations I might get into. After all - all the feelings are similar, even if the cause is different. And being able to cope with some you are free to move to new, unknown fields or just to be able to act more wisely and bravely in the future.

I named my blog "Keep moving", it was a random key-word that came to my mind then, but it seems to make sense. I guess this is the main thing in life, to keep moving.

And in the end I want to share a song. I found it several days ago from youtube and got inspired to make a supporting ppt for it for AIESEC conference we have this weekend and that I sadly have to miss. I still have to figure out how to share youtube videos in my blog, it doesn't seem to work for me, but here is the link anyway:)

Apr 27, 2007

Tensions on the surface

I turned on the television yesterday night and was caught into some events that are not very unexpected, but still managed to surprise me. Estonian way of solving the Bronze soldier problem had another backlash and young Russians came to the streets to burn kiosks, break shop windows and throw police with stones and bottles.

Though the events took place in quite a limited area in Tallinns’ center, you got an impression from the TV as if a war had broken down. The news-lady seemed to be nervous, gave some very anxious information and asked such questions from minister of internal affairs, which made the situation seem even worse. TV lady: “But the turmoil has spread around the center. Don’t you think it could spread all around Estonia?” And the cameras show drunk youngsters wandering around the center, a kiosk burning and trash on the streets.

Could it spread outside Tallinn? Hell yes it could, when you guys are showing in national television as if a war has broken down and ask provocative questions, which make the situation seem even worse. The commentators showed no sign of trying to understand why this is happening, they labeled youngsters merely as vandals and set Estonians against Russians. Is this the objective projection of the reality and journalists are just doing their job? Or does media has also some other responsibility and “objective projection” is sometimes just not the best choice? Or at least would urgently need some balancing comments.

I’m so angry right now that I’m not making many suggestions, but instead blaming people who I feel have certain responsibility, which they have abused. I truly apologize, I might be also deepening the problem myself (emotions have the tendency to do that), but I don’t want to watch this silently and accept if I feel it’s just not right.

We have Russians here in Estonia and they don’t feel very much appreciated right now. They truly feel that their voice isn’t heard and their rights have been violated (and if not all feel this way then obviously a big part of them). It doesn’t matter whether it has been caused by the media and Russian government propaganda or does it also have some objective truth in it. It’s how people perceive the situation, so we can’t ignore it by just saying: “It’s not the truth, we actually like Russians, they have just misunderstood us!”

I hate to see that we build fences in the center, hide the information from public, start working with highly sensitive issues in the dawn and hope that it will all calm down. Even if it does in physical level, people go home and the monument will be taken to another place, the society will be more split. Russians vs Estonians.

I’m not saying that little Estonia should just do what big and almighty Russia expects us to do and that we should be ignoring the problem. No, we have to deal with problems, but we should do it with dignity. Right now I see a big ego-fight, just proving that we can do whatever we want on our own territory and we don’t care about Russian propaganda. By using force we make it worse. We should use the situation to unite the society, to start a dialogue with Estonian Russians. We are not in a rush, we have to find an agreement that suits the whole society, at least also a large part of the minority.

Right now it seems as if the youngsters who are rioting on the streets of Tallinn are the really bad ones. To be honest - I would be there too if I’d truly believe that no-one really cares about my opinion and there is no other way to make my voice heard when to join my fellows and go trouble making on the streets. I’m young and the feeling of doing something important is just interesting. Yes, maybe it’s illegal, but it’s exciting, makes my blood go around and after all – it seems justified, because I feel how the government is acting the same way by violating my rights. You don’t have to be exactly an expert to understand that simple emotions of an individual are sometimes far more important than all international and national laws.

I have to admit that so far the problem has seemed to be a bit far away. Something not very important, because after all – we are talking about some statue in the center, it can’t be that big thing?!? I even didn’t have strong opinion about it, because I just didn’t get the point. After all – the problem was mainly raised by Estonian media, later tripled by Russian and international media, the real issue was really never that big. Come on – all Estonia is full of such statues, we have several in Tartu!

But now I see that the issue is raising the tensions hidden in Estonian society. We have been talking about integration, we have programs to integrate Russians into our society, but seems that the issue hasn’t been really understood. You can say that you have good intentions, give money for some language programs, make some projects and campaigns, but when you think that solving an sensitive and emotional problem by showing your power and authority, I think you haven’t been dealing with the issue with good-will and sincere intentions.

I’m not proud of the macho-mentality Estonians are showing. I’m not eagerly waiting for Estonians self-centered reactions that follow tonights events. I’d like to admire our politicians for making responsible and mature decisions, right now I’m just afraid to hear another moralizing lecture from them: “Bad-bad vandals!” Damnit, I really like Estonia, we are a great country, but right now I’m just ashamed.

I’m not justifying violence. I’m convinced it deepens the problems, not solves them. The question is – who should be the mature side, who should be showing example in Estonian society?

And in the news I can hear again: “Don’t worry people, by the morning the situation has calmed down!” Yes, police does their job, they will calm the situation down. But short-sigthed solutions just aren’t enough, I want to see politicians with long-term vision.

Apr 19, 2007

The meaning of it all

Everybody is looking for the meaning of life. Something, that would give it all some sense. Why are we doing things? We are all going to die anyway, what does it matter then what we do?

All the big leaders in the worlds have died, we can now talk about them, but it doesn’t really seem, that they had some influence. Times and people who have come after them have changed it all. All the past sufferings have ended and past joys as well, intelligence and evil has died with people and it’s not in this world anymore. So how does it matter anyway how I live my life, do I cause joy or pain and do I try to change something or waste my life.

The truth is that our lives will end and no matter how many people we are able to help, the world still goes on and new generations with new needs come without gaining anything from our work. Or if they do (for example some medical or technical innovation) does it make new generations really happier or they will just have a different environment for the same human challenges we’ve had already for thousands of years? Is it pointless even to try?

I’ve recently talked to several people, who challenge my understanding about each one of us should do something to improve the world. They tell me, that really, there is no difference between good and bad, because it all will end. Or – whatever you do with your life it will only influence a very small, tiny part of the world (if it does more today, then put it in the perspective of history), so you will give up as soon as you realize how pointless your striving really is.

So should we really seek for trying to change the world? Isn’t the thought a bit too overwhelming, so that it’s inevitable that at one point we’ll arrive to a conclusion, that we’ve wasted our lives trying to change something, which is actually out of our reach? And does it justify of giving up?

I’ve found my needed answer from the conclusion, that each one of us has an individual responsibility over our own lives. We all have our individual talents, we meet different people during our days, we come across unique situations and challenges. And we have responsibility over what reaches our reality and what we do with our talents. According to my understanding you don’t have to change the world as a planet or the flow of universal history in history books (is there such thing?), but the world as your reality. You have influence over it and it’s not anything too overwhelming or elusive. Some of us have talents for influencing big masses, some are relators in more intimate environment. But we all have abilities to improve our surroundings. The though about all of us trying to do it is inspiring.

Still – why it matters, that we give our best in our reality? It will still end. Yes, what’s the point of living? I don’t even pretend to be the one with answers, I can only demonstrate my stupididty by answering such fundamental questions with ease. But to maintain my joy and zest of life, I need to have some ground on which to rely my efforts in this world. So my ground is, that the meaning of life is living my life the way I was meant to live it. And I think that we all have our specific meaning in the world, depending of our talents, environment etc.

Right now, when sitting behind the computer in this beautiful morning, I feel that people tend to abuse their ability to think. They spend their days wondering over the meaning of life, when they should actually live it. They get depressed, because they are not sure, why they are doing things, then actually the meaning is exactly doing it. Why to overanalyse everything and drain yourself out of energy by searching desperately some ultimate meaning? Why can’t the meaning be the most simple thing and the biggest challenge is to accept that? Isn’t life actually very simple and easy, but we tend to see complexities in the biggest clarity?

To accept, act and enjoy.

Apr 16, 2007

For the brilliant tomorrow

Today has been the weirdest day I’ve had a long time. I say “weird” because I’m an Estonian and I have limited skills of using words describing emotions. Otherwise I’d probably choose some other word, but “weird” more or less summarises everything.

Where do the most interesting adventures come from? Yes, right – people! Not only easy and good lessons come from them, but also those that make you feel so bad about yourself, that you think: “Will I ever be a GOOD person I want to be?”

Among other things I realized today that taking time for your friends is a must-do. It might sound extremely funny, but for me it was a discovery – they really want that! I had to be reminded to just call and ask my friends out or do some other ordinary things that people do to maintain the contact. Yes, friends give you energy, I will prioritize my important ones more.

But fortunately also good lessons come from people. I’m happy to meet people who surprise me and make me stretch my brain with new questions.

But what next? Next is – ofcourse – tomorrow! And what will happen tomorrow is partly determined by my previous experiences, habitpatterns and genes, but mainly about my bravery. Yes, bravery. Just dare, though it might require taking the risk of seeming stupid and failing bad, maybe even risk your good name in the eyes of some, but without daring life just doesn’t make sense.

I want to celebrate the beautiful TODAY by deciding something for tomorrow.

Dare more.

A quote for today from Robin Sharma:

So make tomorrow special. No, make it ridiculously great. Breathtakingly brilliant. A piece of art you can tell your grandkids about. Just amazing what one can do in a day. To be what we are meant to be.”

Apr 14, 2007

Make Estonians smile

Estonians don’t smile in a public place, especially for strangers. That's a wide-spread understanding. To make your life more interesting - and to improve your surroundings - do some experiments to challenge this notion.

If you have a car, it’s easy. Every time you stop behind the traffic light, look at your right and smile the person who has stopped next to you. If you think that smiling might be perceived as too agressive, just look optimistic. And a miracle will happen! People will lighten up! Yes, it’s true, Estonians will start to smile in the public place and they actually do make a human connection with you. Yesterday I managed to make the world a better place for one old man, who was probably stunned because he was noticed by a young girl. But what a beautiful smile he had!

Another option for car-users is to go to a car-wash. I’m not sure what actually happened today, but an Estonian guy let me pass him in the queue and looked as if he had met a old friend then doing it. All I did was I stepped outside of the car and was thinking about some good stuff, he thought I was smiling to him and suddenly I was very close to find out, how Estonians get hooked up in the super-markets, post-offices or other random places with very limited time to connect. I can’t tell how the smiling-thing would have worked on a woman, but positive impressions shared with your co-Estonians can really have interesting consequences.

But anyway if you don’t have a car, you still can make some nice experiments. Go to a super-market and act polite. Between the food-shells there isn’t much room, so when someone comes with a big food-cart, step politely aside, smile and let the person pass. You will be stunned about the effect! Today a woman was actually looking confused when I gave her enough room to act and didn’t try to crab things to be the first. The key here is to pay attention, not to rush around, focused on your target food-article, but to notice people around you and give them the little piece of polite attention they need. It’s the most rewarding experimenting I’ve recently tried.

This is now a bit off-topic, but supermarkets are my favourite places, when I’m in the mood of observing people. Quite often there are couples, who have obviously “lost it”. You can just feel the lack of energy in their presence, they look tired and joyless, their children look as if they didn’t belong there. I wonder if normal people turn to energy-vampires because they just don’t fit together or they have too big egos? I think mainly the problems are about ego-fight, so the question is – should it be possible to be together with anyone and there’s no such things as “perfect match” and “solemate”? So you can see how deep philosophical places are actually supermarkets. I’ve said recently, that Maksimarket is the next big thing – I might have been right!:)

Visit supermarkets with eyes wide open and become human-soul expert...or just use the chance to create more positive vibrations in the world.

Apr 13, 2007

Inside the slaughterhouse

Watch this film only if you need more reasons to reduce the amounts of meat in your everyday menu. Though some of the cases shown in the film are in reality exception, but are here generalised over the whole and there are some exaggerations, but it's still something you would better not know, equals with personalising your sausage.

Depressed over bad things vs energized over helping to fix

I live in my current house in Tartu already for four years. My appartment is upstairs and downstairs lives an old alcoholic. He is spending most of his time in another dimension and the rest of the time walking between the nearby shop and home to bring another round of “medicine”. As we have separate entrances we meet rarely and I’m mainly aware of his existence, when he has a bad day and he turns off the water in the whole house or is having an accordion party with friends.

But he has a cat and a dog. Or it would be fair to say: he had a cat, because for the moment the cat has multiplied several times. Every once in a while there are suddenly little wild kittens gazing at me from the bush-shadow, hungry, dirty, scared and most probably dead when winter arrives. Just now I came home and found a pair of big eyes looking at me with only one question: “Food? FOOOD??” When I said “kiss-kiss-kiss” (sound that Estonians make to attract cats), his two siblings also appeared from somewhere and ran towards me with an impression of lunatics.

The dog seems to be at the first glance the most annoying creature you’ve ever seen. He is so dirty, that his coat isn’t made of separate hairs, but of greasy and shaggy lumps. He barks at you with a cowardly impression, ready to jump to the bush, each time you come home. Sometimes when it’s dark and he manages to take you by surpirse, he feels your temporary fright and bites you from the ankle. You don’t see his eyes, because they are covered with junks made of hairs, but you can imagine, that his deep stupidity, deep even for a dog, is showing there.

But when you look at him more closely you understand, that the dog is just extremely frustrated. He is so hungry that he doesn’t know what to bark to make his voice heard, he feels uncomfortable in his coat full of fleas, excrements and his masters saliva, he is forgotten outside when the rain is freezing and he is beaten for random reasons, so he is not sure what to expect.

I’ve grown up surrounded by animals. Their sufferings touch me and it’s hard for me to resist “saving them”. Last year I saw two kittens of the neighbors mother-cat growing bigger and bigger and the winter got closer and closer. I knew they are soon going to die, but I didn’t want to take the responsibility over them. But when the first autumn-winter storms had arrived, I spent 2 hours trying to catch these wild cats and when I finally did we lived 3 weeks together with the most unfriendly creatures I’ve shared my apparment with. They were terrified by people, shit under the bathtub, cried all the time and did every other thing to make me have serious second-thoughts about if “saving them” was a good idea. Finally we found new masters for them and they turned out to be the most loyal and trusting creatures as if they knew they were saved from death. One is now living at my parents-place and is purring so often and loud, that I can’t imagine he is the same animal who used to bite me when I touched him.

Now I don’t know what to do. I can’t be ignorant when I see potential suffering right in front of my eyes, but at the same time I don’t have enough resources to take responsibility over each error I see in the world. I will move from here very soon and I know there is nobody who would care if these three fellows will die a slow death or live a normal pet life. And in the next place where I’ll live I will meet similar sufferings. I know there are people who advise me to be ignorant, because my little deeds won’t change anything in the big picture. They are right, as long as I havn’t made this thing my life mission. And becoming a animal saviour isn’t my mission.

But sinder, this irresponsiblity really energizes me and makes me ask: “If not me, then who?” After all only limited events and situations ever reach my reality and if I’m always ignoring them with the reference to the world full of sufferings, I’m not only deepening the problem, but also keeping myself away from experiencing the little wonders that come from doing good. I guess it’s hard to compare the special powerful feeling you get from doing selfless good with anything.

Additional story connected with the dog: The dog is my leadership experience every day. First I tried the strategy of getting mad: every time I met him I told him that he should better get lost, before I get really angry. Well, he didn’t and it seemed that he got some extra power from my frustration. I decided I won’t be ruled by a dog and I don’t want to feel taunted every time I come home. So I tried another strategy, which was “look confident and ignore”. I’ve been improving this strategy ever since and learn something new every time I meet him. Just ignoring isn’t enough, there are some extra tricks you have to use to make him also respect you. So my lesson of not hating him, but instead accepting and trying to understand has really started to produce some results.