Saturday, June 29, 2019

Of life and death

I have no idea whether to a life fully keeps the fear of death away, what I know is that since I was a kid, I have been interested in death. Not in a morbid way, but I asked many times my little self what was the meaning of life, why we have to die and what happens after death. Humankind has always questioned itself about it and created many different theories or beliefs to console itself or to feel better about the fact that one day, we will reach the end of this journey.
Despite the different beliefs and the different concept of the afterlife, one thing it came immediately clear to me, one day willing or not this is going to happen. 
How it's going to happen or when it's going to happen, it is not up to us, unless we decide to end our lives on our own will.
The only thing we know is what has happened in the past and what is going on right now, so with this knowledge we try to forecast and to make a sort of plan for our lives, but then... Yes, then it happens and final day arrives.
I believe the fear of death is not connected with an unfulfilling life, as someone said that for those who are living a life of suffering death is welcomed as a relief. However, for those who are living a happy life, leaving is going to be more difficult. Who would like to leave something pleasant?

From my point of view, the fear of death comes from not being willing to accept it or to even acknowledge it. Once I understood that there was nothing to do about it and that life, as it is designed for this planet, means just fulfilling a biological cycle, the same that is designed for all the living creatures either belonging to the animal kingdom or to the vegetal kingdom (birth, growth, reproduction, death), accepting it came easier.
Yet, death means just a re-arrangement of our molecules, and the creation of food for other forms of life, at least on the material stage. Then if we want to take into account what is going to happen to our soul or to our conscious, that is something that is bound to the different points of view.
Some of us believe in heaven or hell, others believe in returning to our home in the stars, others believe in a cyclical reincarnation based on the way one has lived his/her life... and there are so many points of view about what happens after.
For me, I just wait and see, but meanwhile, I wait, I try to make the most out of this life since it is the place where I can make the difference, and I can act on the direction it has to take.
I personally have no fear of dying, I embraced the concept a long time ago. I have found out that if you accept the fact that all of this is going to end and you keep it in mind, not like something to be afraid of, but something unavoidable, like the rise and set of the sun, or like the days going by and the growth of your hair, your life will get better.
You cannot stop it, so better live and deal with it; to be honest, the original quote from Mark Twain would be better rephrased this way:

Saturday, June 22, 2019

A Writer's block (writers and bloggers)

Have you ever been in front of your blank page planning to do some serious writing to share with the world but then…
Nothing comes to your mind. That page you are staring at remains white, time is passing by, and nothing is happening. Actually the more you stare at the page, the more the blankness seems to spread from the page to your mind.
This is how it started this morning when, diligently I sat down at my desk, with the full intention of writing my weekly blog.
I thought that this is the problem that many writers or bloggers find themselves in a few times in their lives. You feel like you had many ideas, but they all disappear as soon as you sit down in front of the screen.
But is it just the fault of the screen? Would it work better if we would sit down in front of a screen that already has something written on? Would you then, get some extra inspiration about what to write to entertain your audience?
Is the daunting Writer’s Block something that has to do with the fear of dealing with the emptiness of the page or is it just a way your brain conforms with the blank page?
I do not have all the answers to this questions, but at least in my case, as soon as I started to write about having my ideas failing me, as I sat in front of my computer things started to change.
It was like the words found their way from my head to my fingers and to the keyboard, finally. Once I got the flow, I just kept the pace.
The writer’s block is something that each of us experiences in a different way, just like everything else in life, and there isn’t a solution that works for everyone. Some of us need just some rest and think about something else, in order to have their ideas flowing like a river. Other needs to read to get their rhythm back, and so on, I could cite all sort of remedies I have heard about how to fight the writer’s block.
For me, there are two ways, one is just to take a walk in the forest, the other is just starting to type even nonsense on the keyboard. Once I get the writing flow, the right inspiration will arrive, and the writing will be once again restored.
I admit one thing, sometimes it takes writing a lot of nonsense before starting to get things on the right path, but at least I have a good laugh when I am at the purging stage.
Have you ever experienced writer’s block?
How did you overcome it? I guess it would be interesting to list all the ways people have tried and see what it worked and what didn’t work.
I am sure we will find quite an impressive list of solutions and, perhaps we can find new creative ways to fight it next time we will find ourselves stuck in front of the blank screen.
So for this time is all, and as usual, I wish you all a great weekend!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

The strange connection between procrastination and writing

I have no idea how it all has started.
As a child, I do remember my mother's recommendations about always try to take care of my duties before relax and take care of more pleasant activities.
Sure at the kindergarten, the motto was, duty first and pleasure after. At the elementary school too, they taught us that once you have done all your duties, dedicating yourself to your hobbies feels even better, because you don't have anything else to bother yourself with.
For my childhood, complying to these golden rules wasn't really easy, mostly because I couldn't care less about the duties, so I couldn't be bothered about the fact that I had left something unfinished.
This attitude, last for many years, and particularly during high school, with life waiting for me outside my house, deciding whether to study or having fun with friends wasn't a difficult choice.
Nor I was bothered when the teachers called my parents about my performance.
At their inquiries, I always replied, "Life is out NOW! I can study, and I do, but this doesn't mean that because of a number, I will sacrifice something that is not coming back."
Strange enough, during the University years, I was able to find a balance where before it wasn't even possible, I was studying, working and also having fun with my friends.
Procrastination was something that didn't have a place in my life anymore.
With that, it seemed like my life found a direction also following those guidelines I received as a child.
I was indeed scheduling my time in order to take care of my responsibilities and also finding the time to live the life that was happening NOW.
This state of grace lasted for about twenty years.
Then, something happened...
I published my first book...
I became an author too...
I cannot pinpoint in time the exact turning point, the switch that brought me back to the procrastination path.
What I can say is that I am afraid that with all the things that need to be done, I do not really procrastinate, I just start forgetting them, to remember about them a few minutes before the scheduled deadline or just at the last minute.
Though, there is a pattern in this, I have noticed that my job comes first, together with the writing progress.
The rest, which means marketing, connecting, and blogging (sometimes) tends to be selectively ignored by my brain.

Is this a sign of me getting old?
I prefer to think that this is a question my brain tells me what it dislikes to be bothered with.
It might also be that this is a way for my brain to remind me that I am not a machine, and I cannot take care of every little thing in this world.
What is your experience?
Are you a procrastinator, or diligently follow your schedule planning a to-do-list and going through it at any cost?
What kind of things you seem to forget? Is there any sort of connection between things you procrastinate and things you really don't like or they stress you?
Is there such a concept like a serial procrastinator? LOL
Here I do not have any solution, but I believe that by finding the reason for not taking care of certain duties, we might come to a reason why and perhaps even with a personalized solution... who knows?
Some thoughts for the weekend...

Saturday, June 8, 2019

A yearly attraction: the Rhododendron Park in Helsinki

There are attractions that are mainly for tourists and others that give enjoyment to everybody. One of these is the National Rhododendron Park in Helsinki. Every year at the beginning of June, the park offers, to the eyes of the beholder an explosion of colors and scents.
And every year, people are gathering in the Park to enjoy the full flowering of the rhododendron.
In the beginning, the first rhododendron was planted there in 1975, where the city of Helsinki, together with the University of Helsinki started a project for the Helsinki’s plant breeding program. At the same time, were planned and constructed paths along the area.
There, 3000 rhododendrons were planted for research purposes, in order to create a variety that could stand the Finnish climate and produce flowers in different colors.
Rhododendron Park is the only park in Helsinki where special uplifted view platforms were built. Those platforms give the possibility to admire from a better vantage point the beauty of the blooming.
In 1996, the park was extended adding a section where Azaleas were planted, which were the result of another breeding program started in 1986. The park offers a view of many crossbreeding species.
When I arrived in Finland, in 2004, the section was quite small, if we compare it with the extension, it has reached in the late years.

Nevertheless, I considered it large enough to keep me there for most of the summer days. I was lucky enough to live just close by so that my daily strolls would have brought me right there most of the times.
As the years passed by, I have seen the park growing slowly but steadily, until the extent it has reached nowadays. I have no idea whether there are any plans to enlarge it, but since the crossbreeding project gave spectacular results, at least from the beholder’s point of view, I hope more species and colors will be added to the Park.

Personally, I hope there will be added new parts to the park as I believe you never have too much beauty, particularly when we talk about colors and flowers. Then let’s not forget the contribution those flowers give to the pollinator’s colonies.
It is an oasis of peace, where to get connected with nature and, having at hand your mosquito repellent, that is the ideal place to stop by with a book and enjoy your time.
So here is to you another reason to visit Finland, and preferably in early Summer. One suggestion, for those who intend visiting this fantastic country, is to get at least two or three weeks time in June between 1-23.6 because there are a lot of things to be seen.
This is the period with the longest day of the year, and if you push yourself to the north, you will experience the 24h sunlight.
Here in Helsinki, the length of the day during this period is of about 18-20 hours, but the nights are mostly looking like dusk, and not particularly dark.
For the longest day of the year hosting the midsummer fest (Juhannus) you definitely want to participate in the celebrations around the country. Then, of course, the Rhododendron Park, where to chill out and relax, before heading to all the music happenings around the country.

And that will be all for the moment, I wish you a great time and an awesome weekend!

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Some flight experiences

Last time I have written about a new way I am approaching my photography hobby; that is by the use of a drone.

Now we all understand that this is something that also kids can use and that there is no need to stress about, and my first thought was: “if a kid can do it, so can I.”
That is nevertheless a slight understatement as nowadays kids are more used to technology than people of my generation are, so there was a little, if not a lot of confusion.
The main problem was that the manual didn’t include much on how to operate a drone and there were just explained the main command briefly, but to understand what did they really mean and how to use them, it was up to the old ‘trial and error.’
So first flight, I decided to operate it indoors, as I have plenty of space, I needed to have some confidence about how the drone reacts to the different commands and how to master it before bringing it outside.
So, the first it was a series of crashes against everything possible, Carolina included who added to the list of what she hates, also that infernal flying machine.

After those crashes, I finally figured out how should I use the throttle to increase the height more gently and have it at a steady height.
The second achievement was to be able to move it around, and also that needed, of course, some calibrating crashes against walls, furniture, and flowers.
Everything endured perfectly the destructive fury, particularly the drone itself, which seems to have nine(hundred) lives, and all the will to make me become a pro.
The good part is that it is a big load of fun, I can understand the reason why kids like them, they are really cool devices.
After having been able to control the movements of the drone indoor without making any sort of damage, making it fly flawlessly from room to room, I decided it was the time for bringing it where actually it belongs; outdoors.
So having chosen a perfectly sunny and windless day, a perfect clearance on the woods, we left for the adventure.
In the beginning, everything went fine, and the drone amazingly reacted to the commands. I was having a lot of fun when suddenly it started to head towards the trees. It was totally impossible to stop it as it decided to go exploring the world without me.
It got stuck on the branches of a tree. Now I know you think that perhaps this was the end of the flying experience, and you could never be more wrong about it. My husband and I didn’t want to give up, so after a few trials, we decided to retire and plan a solution.
At 7:50 in the evening, we came to the perfect plan. We would have attached a stone to a light rope throw it to fly over the branch, and once the stone has reached the other side, we would have both started to shake the branch to allow the drone to fall down.
Something we need to remember about Finland is the fact that the swamp areas in the woods are kept for their biological and environmental importance. Nevertheless, this means that wherever you are, as the sun starts to set, the mosquitoes are on the hunt.
Try now to imagine a couple of adults shaking a tree branch to allow a drone to fall down and, at the same time, try not to be eaten alive by mosquitoes.
It was a nightmare, BUT… We made it, and the drone is now safe and sound at home, and guess what? It is working still like a charm regardless of the crashes.
Now soon enough I will also start to make some pictures and post them… I am still so excited!

Have a great weekend!

The long road of writing a book.

Publishing a book is a journey on a rocky path that involves several stages, from writing and pre-editing to editing, formatting, selecting ...