I’M GOING ON AN ADVENTURE!
DO YOU WANNA TAG ALONG?

Wow, what a week I’ve had!

So, Tuesday marked the two-year anniversary of my solitary confinement, and I’m not gonna lie – I was dreading this week. Practicalities aside, even the thought of entering into a third year of isolation was enough for my spirits to sink to abysmal levels.

Luckily, for me, I’ve had ample opportunity to practice and master the art of reframing. I know how to trick my brain. 

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The accessible versions of this post can be found in the Access Archives. Let me know if you have any special requirements or suggestions that would help make the content more widely accessible.

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Tuesday was also the second birthday of two of my blogs, As We Write and the Spoonieverse. You see, I knew the day isolation started that there was no way we’d be out of it in 12 weeks’ time. I didn’t have a third year in my cards, there’s no way I would’ve coped if I did, but I was expecting to be locked up for the rest of the year. I knew I had to find some kind of frame to put over that experience. Over that date. So, to reframe the date, I launched the two blogs I had planned to save for last.  One for joy, one for need.

Reframing is one of the techniques, used in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). I’ve taught it in my Personal and Professional Development (PPD) classes, and used it as a coaching tool over the years. Even long before I knew there was a fancy name for it. The idea is as simple as cropping a photo and slapping a pretty frame over it to complement the image and make it stand out. Different frames can give an image different vibes. Different meanings. I needed a frame that would make it possible for me to look back to this date with something other than a feeling of trepidation.

Now, bearing in mind that this is a blog post about my week, not a lesson in reframing, let’s just look at how I could reframe this anniversary. As it is, I can now look back at two years of no talk, no touch, no eye contact – three things I crave – with a sense of loss. Something that meant the world to me is gone, and I can’t see a scenario in which I will get it back (or anew) even if I live to see the end of this pandemic. I could easily lose myself in the pain of that loss and the feeling of hopelessness that comes with it.

But I could also choose Life. 

For me, this means cropping and reframing the picture. Let’s see what happens if we change the image above to something like this: As it is, I can now look back at two years of self-indulgent, uninterrupted creativity – my lifeblood – with a sense of pride. Accomplishment. Something that means a lot to me is taking shape, and I can see a scenario in which it could be meaningful even if I don’t live to see the end of this pandemic. Much better. In this frame, I’m looking at a picture I can take great comfort in. A picture that brings me warm fuzzy feelings of hope and joy.

Reframing doesn’t mean forgetting about the bad. It doesn’t take away whatever it was that hurt you. Is hurting you. But it does give you a chance to look at even the shittiest of situations and find something in there you can hold on to. Something to give you meaning and purpose. Or, if what’s causing you all this pain is in the past, something to help you look back without feeling like it was all for nought.

In setting up two new blogs and allowing myself to dive deep into what was supposed to be the dessert at the end of my last great adventure, I gave myself something to celebrate this week. Not without acknowledging the pain this has caused, but as the blessed rose of hope amongst all the thorns. Instead of endless torment and nightmares, it has been a week of both pleasure and pain. And it’s going down in my records as the week when I jumped off the biggest cliff since 1995. 

See, I didn’t just pull two blogs out of a hat two years ago. Starting them when I did was a spur-of-the-moment decision, but they already existed in my head. In January 2020, when the first words of an impending pandemic reached our ears, I already sat on a number of domains, a ridiculously extensive archive of texts, and the blueprint for my (almost) secret project. I had started working on two coaching blogs, but not in a way that was visible to anyone but me. 

After lockdown, I kept working on those blogs too, but they were not my first priority. Nevertheless, this whole project has continued to grow and take on a life of its own. A week ago, I was very proud of myself for having raised the main mast and moved into the Captain’s quarters on this domain. I had also made enough progress in the two coaching cabins, Växthuset and the Greenhouse that they were now up and running, if not very well stocked. I was pretty sure I’d be able meet my deadlines and announce their existence in time for my birthday in September. From there, I reckoned it would take another year to populate them with enough content for me to be able to call them my coaching blogs with a straight face. 

But then something happened and…

I FELL INTO ANOTHER RABBIT HOLE

“…one can’t believe impossible things.” [Alice laughed.] “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” (Alice in Wonderland)

Not going into details in this post, but Life being Life doing what Life does best led to a meeting that led to a situation that led to me dipping into my past to do something I used to be really good at. So good, in fact, that it used to be my job in a previous life. As in one of the lives I had before I moved to London. I’ve been teaching since I was 14 (!), but it was here I became a professional educator and education professional. Before that, I had a number of strings on my lyre, and not all of them were related to teaching and learning.

Yes, I know I’m talking in riddles, but there will be a separate post about this later on. Patience, my love.

So, this particular dip into my past is something that I’ve kept doing every now and then over the years. However, after my enforced retirement, I never expected to find myself in this situation again. To give someone a helping hand, sure. But in a semi-professional capacity where I’d have to put my name on it? No, it never occurred to me. The prepper in me was tagen på sängen (taken on the bed), as we say in Sweden. I was not prepared for the conundrum this would lead to. 

I’m a Dragon Lady at heart. I want to mark what’s mine, and that includes sitting on the rights to my work. Furthermore, I like to sign my name on things that I’m proud to have been a part of. This was such a thing. The person I did the job for wanted my name to be there, and I was (and still am) deeply humbled that they trusted me with their work, and allowed me to play a small part in their future success story. In other words, it was a simple yes. I did want my name to be associated with theirs and this particular piece of work. But that presented me with the second problem. Which name would I use?

There’s a time to be coy and hide behind anonymous internet handles, and there’s a time to step up your game and be the professional you want to become. I’ve been hammering this lesson into the heads of my MBA and management students, but I had good reason to consider whether it was relevant to me in this situation. My creative alter ego, Linnea Lucifer, is a crafter and some kind of artist who writes. She’s been a part of me since I was a child, and most people know that we are one. But Linnea is not a professional. I wouldn’t let her negotiate any deals or make any executive decisions for me. That’s Evalena’s job. My job. But I’m retired. Unable to work. How do I get around that?

This is where my story kind of circles back to where we started. To my (almost) secret project. Looking at where I wanted it to take me, and how far away from that potential future I was, I did the thing I make my coaching clients do. I brought out my roadmap, looked at how far I’d come since the day I started, and how much further I had to go before I would reach my destination. The answer was about two more years.

Unless…

Unless I’d take another leaf out of my own books and think of the lessons Piet Hein taught us. It’s the route we travel that’s the real destination. In one respect, I had been doing the one thing I keep telling other people not to do. Putting things off for some future point in time. A point that we, quite frankly, don’t know if we’ll ever reach. The one thing that is promised to us is the present. This day.

And sometimes, to get a shot at the future we dream of, we have to brave it and jump off that cliff.

Have you ever faced a pile of beads, screws, lego pieces or something else that needed sorting into individual containers? I love tasks like that, but only if there’s a place to put all the different parts in. If you have beads in 10 different colours, but only three containers, it doesn’t matter how much, or well, you’re sorting. You’re still left with a pile of mixed beads. And a pile is a pile. Take 30% out and it still looks like a pretty daunting task.

What I realised a week ago was that I didn’t have enough containers!

I’ve been harvesting and organising my old texts for years now. (You have no idea how many I have – it’s ridiculous!) When I first started, I did the math and worked out a rough plan for how to sort them into containers *cough blogs* with some kind of theme. I don’t want you to be rolling your eyes at me, so let’s just say I ended up with more than 10. I decided to start in one end and fill them in order. Now, I’ve been a crafter my entire life – I know you can’t sort shit one thing at the time or you’ll never see the end of it.

Why then, one might ask, had I tried to apply a method that I already knew wouldn’t work to the sorting of my texts into blog containers? Well, that, my love, is a bleedin’ mystery.

Doing the math all over again, I realised that if I could have all the containers (blogs) I know that I’m going to need at hand, this game would change drastically. Not only would it make the sorting business a lot easier – It would also propel me to the position I had hoped to achieve: Captain of The Resilience. Semi-professional semi-useless person kinda back in business. The only question that remained was: Could I place all my bets on the same horse and play to win? And could it be done in time for my anniversary? 

WELCOME TO THE RESILIENCE!

“Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.”  ~Rikki Rogers

Welcome to Quarterdeck! This is the meet-and-greet area of my imaginary pirate ship, The Resilience. The home and hearth of my blog world. This is where I keep the Ship’s Log where everything that takes place on my ship that’s worth mentioning or remembering is recorded. I’ll take you on a guided tour in a later post, I promise. 

The Resilience is full of quirky cabins and a few interesting decks. We have shops, entertainment areas, a library and plenty of themed reading rooms in here. At the moment, only one of these rooms is fully stocked, but new lines are added on a weekly basis, so there’s always something new going on somewhere on this ship. I’ve loved every minute of my secret work here, but I must admit that I’m rather excited at the thought of having company and people to talk to on board. Today, it’s with great pride that I officially pull the gangplank out to make it possible for you to come and go as you please.

Happy anniversary to me! And happy adventure times to us all! 

You know how I always say that the impossible is nothing, but miracles take a bit more time? (If the answer to that question is no, you clearly need to make an effort to get to know me better. 😏) Well, holy cow and jädrar anacka – I bloody well did it! I jumped off the cliff and fell for 48 hours straight. Then I slept for 36hrs, on and off, before I woke up to have some tea and take a good look at what I’d done. Turns out there are times miracles can be achieved in two days. 

As a result of my mountain-moving operations last week, we are now sitting onboard a ship with no less than 15 fully functional blogs and three shops! Of these, two are my old personal blogs, All of Me, in English and Allt Jag Är, in Swedish. We also have my two coaching blogs, the Greenhouse and Växthuset, where I’ll be uploading all my PPD and coaching posts from a number of different sites. Apart from these five, we have the Access Archives where you can find the accessible versions of all my posts, and the Spoonieverse where my articles about accessibility, equality and life in the vast parallel universe of the unwell are going to be.

That’s seven sites, right?

Well, I can share two more today. You may have already heard about As We Write, my “dessert” blog dedicated to storytelling and creative writing. The thing that was going to be my amusement project when everything else was up and running, and I was following the road wherever it wanted to take me. Well, that’s the one that I completed first of all and to date, it has about 300 published posts and about as many lined up waiting to go live. Last, but not least, there’s the one that bears my name. Evalena Styf is the domain that hosts my personal blog, All of Me, and it was supposed to become my writer’s page when I felt comfortable enough to step up and call myself an author. I’m not sure what that will look like yet, but technically speaking it is another work in progress, and as I’ve made a point of sharing my writing WIPs I guess I can share the site-building ones too. The last of the ten I’m mentioning today, is the one that’s relevant to the conundrum I faced when I had to decide which name to sign on the thing I’m so proud to have been involved in. But I won’t be sharing the name until that thing is uncovered. Suffice to say it’s something that literally brings my life back to square one.

A return to where it all began. 

Life. I keep marvelling at the beauty of Life. The magic of it all. We spend all our lives striving for the things we want, need or dream of, but somewhere in the background Life has its own plans for us. My ancestors believed in luck and fate – not in the sense most people think of it today, mind you – but it took me years of toils and trouble to embrace this concept. To find a way of balancing the will and the way. These days I just accept that Life will either aid me or hinder me. When I’m on the right path, things will flow, and I choose to believe that’s the reason I’m here right now. 

Right, this turned into quite a ramble, which is not what I had in mind. In my defence, I’m knackered after all the energy that went into this particular jump and I really need a good long rest now. I’m going to spend the rest of March adding little bits here and there while I marvel at the fact that all of the building blocks I was going to put into place over the next two years are done. I have, indeed, levelled up. I can honestly say that I’m the Captain of this ship, even though we’re not free to set sail yet.

A ship is still a ship though. It doesn’t matter if she’s moored or docked or flying full sail across the seas of Life. Perhaps this was always true for me too. I’m still a professional, whether I’m in bed, locked up in a covid shelter or en route to my next port of call. I keep referring to myself as a shipwreck and bemoaning the fact that my brain doesn’t work the way it used to. But I also keep finding ways in which I can adapt and make use of whatever is left inside the fog that’s taken over my mental faculties, and bypass the limitations my treacherous body has imposed on me. 

With The Resilience shipshape and my (almost) secret project no longer a secret, I believe I have reclaimed something I felt was taken away from me. Something that was mine all along. In the next couple of posts, I’ll tell you where the dream of The Resilience came from and why I decided to go ahead and build her. I have already mentioned some of this in passing, but now that I no longer need to be secretive about this I can tell you the full story.

For now, let me just shout it out loud one more: I bloody well did it! I jumped off that cliff, pulled off a kottamn miracle, and am now sitting her on my Quarterdeck looking out over the pirate ship of my dreams. The adventure has officially begun!

On that note, the time has come for me to love you and leave you for this time. You have all the links you need to check out the cabins that are open and see if you can find something you like even though I don’t have an awful lot on offer just yet. Don’t give up on me though. I have loads of stuff lined up for us over the weeks to come, and I’d love to have you onboard for the duration of our maiden voyage.

Puss och kram, 

//Evalena 🖤🏴‍☠️

© Evalena Styf, 2022

PSSST!

    1. Have you seen that I have added a section of stuff to do and things to read here below? It’s obviously not an order, simply a number of suggestions in case you feel like hanging out with me a little bit longer. 
Evalena Styf
The Resilience

After 25+ years of anonymous blogging on a number of free platforms, I decided to go pro and put all of my writings on a private wall in the imaginary pirate ship I have named after one of my most prominent character traits: The Resilience. In my personal blogs, I primarily write about personal and professional development; about living the dream; and how to keep on living and loving when everything around you seems to be falling apart.

My ambition is for The Resilience to become a source of inspiration, motivation, joy and love of Life; but I would also like to see this old imaginary ship of mine become a space where we can talk, teach each other new tricks, and learn together. Using my knack for storytelling, I’ll dive into my pool of personal and professional experiences to bring a wide range of difficult and diverse topics to the surface.

In addition to the professional stuff, you can expect to find posts where I talk about matters close to my heart. This may include funkophobia, social exclusion, chafing societal norms, mental & physical health issues, racism, poverty, identity, creativity, sexuality, nerdiness, my zest for Life and the longing for death.

FINISHED READING? WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO NEXT?

QUESTION OF THE DAY:

Are you an adventurous person?

So, today, as I’ve formally announced the existence of The Resilience and my Big Blogging Experiment to the world, I’m really curious to hear whether you would consider yourself adventurous? For many years I would have claimed I wasn’t, but I’ve come to realise that I am. That I’ve always been adventurous. (In fact, I might have food for another blog post in that statement.) Let’s talk!

Remember, if you don’t want your name or your response to show up on the site, just start your message with the word ANONYMOUS and it will be our secret.

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MS STYF:
HOLD YOUR SEAHORSES!
Let's go living life while we're alive
WHEN YOU WISH
UPON A STAR
OOPS
I DID IT AGAIN!