Oct 6, 2012

"I haven't lived for the past 5 years."

She leaned in over the lunch table, looked me straight in the eyes and whispered in a loud, clear voice:

"Marjam, I haven't lived for the past 5 years."


That was the last thing I had expected to hear from her.

We had just spent the last 20 minutes discussing how exciting our work is. She's a woman who inspires me with her confidence, looks and intelligence. A beautiful, successful woman flying high in the corporate world and rubbing elbows with the most outstanding entrepreneurs in Estonia.

Until I mentioned how much I love the freedom of what my lifestyle gives me - despite the challenges here and there - I'm free. Free to choose whom I work with, to whom I work and what I work on. I can spend the New Years Eve in Florida with a beloved client, journaling and manifesting an awesome year around the campfire, I'm free to take my few possessions and move to Florida for a 2 months creative retreat. I can decide when I work and even take 4-day working weeks if it feels best.

"Wow, Marjam, I've worked so hard for the past 5 years. I've been running every day non-stop - and now when I think about it it feels that I haven't lived."

Despite her high salary she misses out on life. She misses the soul in what she does. The feeling that what you do makes a difference. That you LIVE, not just make money.

Life is so precious. It's worth to stop every once in a while and ask yourself: "Why am I doing what I'm doing?"

And see if the answer does make sense. If it doesn't - time for a radical change.

Sep 19, 2012

Experiment: Experiencing the world as a bitter old woman

I saw an old lady today. She had sat herself on the edge of the pavement and looked out of breath. The wrinkles on her face made her look constantly worried and even angry. She looked worn out. Maybe it was this moment only, maybe it was the story of her life.

Somehow you don't see a young person very often who'd be worn out. Most of the young people look happy, excited and motivated. Seems that this juice of life gets lost somewhere along the way. They suddenly lose it - just keep existing and not living anymore.

Looking at that woman I started to wonder what had happened to her. But how could I know? I've never walked in her shoes, I don't know what happened to her that she became hopeless and a little bitter.

An experiment: Experiencing the world how as the old woman

Then I tried something else. I imagined that I'm suddenly inside of her body. I feel what she feels. I see what she sees. I hear what she hears. I feel the pain in her back, the dryness of her skin, the wind on her face. I see the cars driving in front of her eyes and splashing dirty water on her clothes.

And I start thinking different thoughts. About the world. About myself. About life.

Then I switched from her to the middle aged woman who was limping. I imagined how it would feel like to walk so slowly. How would the world look and feel different? What would I think about myself? What would I plan for the future? How would I experience the world?

And suddenly I felt such a deep empathy, such inspiration from all these people living their lives and having their everyday experiences. So different from me. No judgement. Just understanding. Just empathy.

Whenever I feel disconnected from other people, judgmental, misunderstood or confused I can always try the world from their own skin. Such a deep understanding and new perspective becomes available.

Sep 16, 2012

To all the good people

What an absolute bliss it is to talk to someone who's shining! Someone who's grateful, powerful, full of the delightful juice of life and shines it out to the world.

After spending some time with one of these sun people - the opportunities suddenly appear and more becomes available. The good and yummy things in my life stand out as bright stars and I feel overflowed with happiness and such tender gratitude that makes my hair stand.

Now doesn't it only make sense to spend more time with people like this? To choose them as your clients, partners, colleagues, friends?

Aug 22, 2012

Office Bliss: How Having an Office Can Fuel Success at Work

They say that start ups shouldn't invest into having their own office. There's a popular myth about garages - if you listen to the stories you would think that every huge success started from someones garage.

Well, I've now worked from home (read: cafeterias and other improvised working spaces) for about 4 months I can say something I never believed I would say - I LOVE working from the OFFICE!

We just rented a new space and everyone in the team was so eager to move in that we signed the contract even before having any furniture. I'm now sitting on the office floor on a bunch of pillows and am getting double of the things done when I did when working from my living room couch.

Here's why I LOVE having an office:

  • It gives the team a space to work together - you don't have to send out an e-mail for every single question you have, you can simply turn to your neighbor and ask.
  • It saves money. They say that having an office is a luxury, I'd say that it's an investment. I spent more money on buying coffee and snacks in all the temporary working spaces I worked, instead I should have paid it for the office space and have a proper lunch every day.
  • It puts you in the mindset of work. You go to your kitchen to eat, to your bedroom to sleep (well, most of the times), your living room to chill out - so you're in a different mindset. Office is for working and it's easy for the brain to switch to the right mode.
  • As a result - you get more things done. And that's what it's all about.

That mostly applies when you're working in a team who's equally involved in the project.

These 4 months without a shared space cost us a lot more in lost productivity and poor communication than it would have cost on renting an office. I'm all for flexibility and love to have my work in my laptop, but I must say - I LOVE working from an office.

Jul 26, 2012

Who's making up your agenda?

A couple of months ago I accepted the invitation to go to Tartu, 2,5 hours ride away from Tallinn. The reason was quite tempting - the University 5 years reunion, a chance to meet up with the guys that we once shared the drinks, notes and compendiums together.

An hour before I was about to take off to Tartu I found myself thinking: "How come that I have time for partying and hanging out with friends, but I don't have time to work on my life vision and review what's REALLY going on underneath?"

Somehow it felt that I have to go to Tartu, that this evening is already planned and that there is no other option.

How often we make our decision unconsciously, without really thinking about what we really want and what's the hidden cost of this decision.

It's like someone else is making our agenda and we just go with the flow.

"Do you want to hang out tonight?"

"Yeah, sure, why not?"

And your Monday night is booked.

It almost feels that you had no choice in the matter, that you just did what was the right thing to do.

It's a very subtle process, it's not obvious that someone else creates your agenda.

It's you who's in charge. You're the one who makes the decisions where and how you spend your time. I love hanging out with my friends and I continue to do so, but if 40% of your time goes on your family, 40% on your business and 20% on your social life then it's wise to make some serious decisions.

And there's really a very simple cure - listen what's really going on inside of you and what are your real needs.

In reality it's YOU who's making the decisions.

So I decided that what I really want is not to go to the reunion and take time for myself. Feeling a little guilty I told to my supportive man that I'm going to take the night off to be by myself (how funny that it's easier to ask for a "permission" to go to a uni reunion than to simply take a break from the family:)?

So I was sitting in Pirita beach, looking at the sunset and letting go of every identity that I have recently taken. I'm not a mother. I'm not a partner. I'm not an entrepreneur.

What I really am deep down is an amazing simplicity, pure clarity, just BEING. I really don't have to be anyone, I don't have to do anything, I already am all these things that I need to be. And some part of me always knows what's the right action to take, where should be my focus and how I should be spending my time.

It's just about taking the time to listen, uninterrupted.

May 25, 2012

Mother's confession: I'd rather not send my son to school at all

I'm tired on this school system. In fact - after Maru's first year in school - a year that started with such hopes and celebration - I'm at a point where I feel great resentment to send him there for another year.

I wish that in the summer of 2012 a wonderful school would magically appear, which recognizes the absolutely amazing potential that every human being has. A school where I could send my child without being afraid that he'll be turned into a zombie. 

As it's highly unlikely that such miracle would happen - as it feels that nothing, absolutely NOTHING has fundamentally changed in the school system since I walked away from there 10 years ago - the minimum I can do is to share my opinion (and thank god that my son is not reading my blog, as I'm doing a hard labor every day trying to give him reasons why it's important for him to put up with this s''''t that they call "educating").

Every child is born with an amazing potential

I gave birth to this beautiful boy 8 years ago. If you've ever seen a newborn baby you probably remember one thing very clearly - their eyes are full of wisdom. When you expect to see a helpless, mindless creature, you find an "alien" who seems to possess a godly intelligence and gives you a look of a king, who owns the world and the universe.

This is PURE POTENTIAL. And every caring parent who has ever seen this look in a baby's eyes is instantly sent off on a mission to do whatever is in their power to help this human to achieve as much from his potential as possible.

Then - countless amount of love and care, also countless number mistakes and errors later - my baby is 8 and is about to finish his first year in school. And we're back talking about his pure potential - but in a very different key.

Schools are focusing on weaknesses

I find myself discussing with Maru's teachers his WEAKNESSES - different situations in school where he didn't excel, where he misbehaved, where he didn't measure up to different standards. And when asked about Maru's strengths I hear an answer that makes me sick to my stomach: "He's a bright kid, he has a lot of potential."

It's not the first time I hear this good-sounding phrase, which is a clever way to say: "I haven't noticed any good sides in your son, I was so captured by recording and fixing his shortcomings." In a development-talk a few years ago in Maru's kindergarten I got the same phrase: "Well, he has a lot of potential."

Seriously? Every child is a born genius and I've witnessed this pure potential being turned into an amazing human being. I have no reason to doubt in my child potential unless he'd be born as a complete medical idiot.

As fortunately he wasn't, then I'm rightfully asking - what is the school doing today about this potential besides disciplining, warning, talking and homeworking it into a comfortable "box"?

Strong average schools are not enough

Maru's school is not bad, in fact - it's strong average. His teacher is not bad, she's strong average. Could be better, could be worse, can't complain.

What sucks is the system. The system that puts the child as the LAST and focuses on creating listen-carefully-and-follow-all-the-rules type of people.

Am I happy with this?


In fact - it makes me feel completely unsafe to send my child back to school. Unsafe because the world has changed and doesn't need the follow-all-the-rules type of people.

We need entrepreneurs. Connectors. Networkers. Creators. People with IDENTITY to be able to manage the HUGE amount of information we're dealing here every day.

It feels that schools are robbing children from this future.

There are better tools available

Now if you think that I'm too critical and radical then you're probably right.

Does this mean I should accept the system as it is? You bet no.

I know for fact there are better tools available. There are better and more flexible systems available that actually encourage learning.

It just feels that everyones too busy doing what has always been done, just keeping the system going so that there's no time for innovation. And it feels that the ones who once suffered in the same system have now grown into busy adults who have forgot to care (and forgot how much time they spent in various forms of rehap in healing the wounds that the system created).

I've come to the point where I'm open to every possible alternative.

PS: All the teachers who are EDUCATING children in the noblest sense of this word and who have managed to do so despite the school system - oh I wish you would all join under one roof, being led by an enlightened headmaster and showered by blessings by the lucky parents who's children can develop under your guidance. You're my heroes!