Words of Love
Teacher, always teacher.
Photo- Marion Asld
“I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart)I am never without it (anywhere
I go you go,my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing,my darling)
I fear no fate (for you are my fate,my sweet)I want no world (for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)”
― E.E. Cummings
First couple to arrive and survive. Skill right thurr.
It’s my turn to say goodbye. It’s graduation day, and there is the morning ceremony, a busy afternoon, photos in the rose garden and then a fancy dinner in the Kulturhuset. I have a terrible headache I am exhausted and depleted from lack of sleep and surges of emotion that rattle my being. After dinner there is dancing and writing in books. I dance some and write my last words of love. Then Irvine comes for his last hug and I can’t hold back anymore, I sob into his shoulder. Then Nil comes for his good bye and I am leaking tears from every corner of my heart into his hands that cup my face.
Danika had told us that morning before she recited, 'I carry your heart', about her Yippie goody bye about how she had been on a train and one of her Yippies was chasing it out while she sobbed in her seat. She described this feeling as a combination of the deepest sadness and most power she had ever felt. At 3:00 am I know exactly what she means. I’m trying to be brave in the face of good bye with no promise of a shared tomorrow. But I just can’t , and as I cry through different arms and faces I also laugh and my heart screams and shouts into my ear, ‘your alive, your alive, your alive.” I look out the van window and I am alive, in the fields of the Kulturhuset, in the sky of the early morning and into the highway that carries me away. I hold Levi’s hand so hard into the whitneness of my fingers and reach back to hold the roundness of Oona’s face. Linda comes to hold my shuddering body, and it is here that the reason for this whole year comes to me.
“Why am I here?” I think.
“To be cracked open. To come alive” is the reply.
Our best friend back home explains death to his two young sons, by telling them that it is a transformation a never ending unbroken cycle. We yippies came here to experience life but the other side of the coin is death. One cannot exist without the other, and I see now that this is the last and final lesson of my year here in Sweden. In our basic understanding of loss there is only pain, but I feel now that my loss is multi layered. In my tears I taste the unbound joy of the completing of a cycle, and the transformation of a silenced heart to that of one that cannot stop screaming, “I’m Alive!”.
I understand now that we are all here to quite literally “be alive”. YIP is just one way of falling into this becoming. I want to remember this always. I want to remember that I tasted my power and flirted with ever shifting boundaries, and that my heart is here to feel in order to guide.
Dear Kailea of June 2014, you are powerful, unstoppable and ready. The horizon may limit the eye but that is only because the eye believes in the boundaries that your heart will never know.
Dear Kailea of June 2014, I love you. I always will.
We are taking our last steps in the name of, 'The Essence.'
On Thursday we picked her up from the printer. On Friday we shared her with our family.
It was here in yesterdays sharing that the joy of the start came back to meet us. We had cake and champaigne on the ready that lay untouched as the room became quieter and quieter with each copy handed out.
Within the room were several of our contributors and I was again reminded of the richness that lives here.
In the evening we handed over a copy to one of our alumni contributors and as I watched her turn to her page, and read her words in print, I remembered one of our original intentions; To give back to this network and to the individuals that make it up. And still, the gift that has been given to me from my time here is far greater that I could ever return. I've been given the opportunity to glimpse my capacities, and now I can't look back.
The days are slipping through my fingers like sand, and I'm trying to hang on to each grain, each moment. We say our first goodbye to one of our 20 and this brings what was just a feeling in the air, down to the ground at our feet. The end is near.
What was just months, and then weeks has now become days and I'm lost somewhere in between 'ready' and 'too soon'. There is a part of me that still doesn't fully comprehend that the beginning and the middle have been completed and all that is left is the end. All that is left is the end. But what is the end?
We have an over said quote here, that says it so perfectly that you one can't help but join the pack and repeat it.
"YIP is for the first year of the rest of your life."
It could not be said any more concisely that this. What has begun here for me is just the beginning. Just the beginning. And although yesterday still tastes so sweet I know that the road to tomorrow must be walked, and that hands must be released and goodbyes spoken into eyes. I'm trying to be in today with one foot in June and the other in July and the struggle that is 'this moment' is ever present every day.
"As part of the Core Curriculum, participants of YIP are given the opportunity and encouragement to work on a project called the Personal Initiative. The project is worked on throughout the year and comes to fruition with a presentation and written report at the end of the program. One of the intentions is to support YIP participants while they work with deepening questions and themes that challenge and inspire them." - Linda Kleinhenz
A week before the outdoor experience our Personal Initiative (P.I) presentations were held. Through the second semester this theme of the Personal Initiative was personally very difficult for me. Throughout the year we have had quite a few large projects that have taken much energy and time. I started out the year with a clear idea of what I wanted to do for my P.I, but as the year wore on I realized that between everything else I would have to set it down in order to finish other projects. This was a painful realization and process which left me feeling incredibly resentful towards the whole of the P.I.
Regardless, this week of presentations was in the end very important to me. Never before have I exhausted myself to such a degree from crying. This week was an opportunity to see each and every single one of my dear friends share the whole of their YIP experience and for some a project they had been working on throughout the year.
Before Sweden, I knew that I was seeking experiences with other human beings that I couldn't quite name yet. This is what these five days were about for me. Giving presence and attention to to who we each were and who we each have become. Through these 10 months I have been bearing witness to the unfolding of what was once perhaps fear, pain, shyness and doubt into something that speaks of an ownership. An acceptance of not only who we are, but of also who we are becoming. This week was about standing on our cliff edges and staring out past the horizons into the glaring brilliance of our futures.
I have faith in each and every one of us.
Above- Blood paintings of the heart and the reproductive system.
Below- Sophie's diagram that draws the parallels between the woman's cycle and the seasons.
Moments of Bravery.
A reoccurring theme for our year was the senses. While exploring we would often do so without our eyes as a distraction. Sometimes blindfolded we would eat, walk, dance, the list goes on. Here Marion dances for us while blindfolded. Watching her was a sensory experience in itself.
Kalani brought us through his year from start to end by showing us his application video.
Needless to say, there has been change.
Felix, our friendly wizard spent much of his year working on his theories. It was always very mysterious. He would often skips weeks of courses in lieu of giving attention to what I believe is his life work. This was an incredible moment, as we finally got to here a bit of what he had been up to.
Below is a poem written by Olga, pictured here, that she read during her presentation. I don't know if I have ever seen Kalani choke up, but as she read this, I could hear him responding to what I can only call the the plight of what it means to be a young adult today. Olga was able to pin it down with her pen, and the truth that she speaks of, speaks to every crevice in my body.
How to just 'be' today in this world?
just to fall back on the grass
just to fall down on my bed
to be just a being on this earth
my head objects
there's a life to be lived
a path to be followed
a skill to be learnt
a friend to be seen
a change to be made
a corner to be cleaned
a standard to be reached
to see everything i could pursue
in this world
and to stay sane
to know all that could be done
in this world
and to choose not to
just to fall back on the grass
- Olga Bloeman
"It feels safe here ate home. Too safe." These are my first thoughts when I exist the car back at Ytterjarna. The nature is beautiful yet tamed here, and its almost surprising that when I walk I don't have move aside branches and brush. The floor feels unnaturally flat when I take my fist steps into our house.
I'm so tired. I take a shower cringing in the heat and step out so clean.
Everything is so clean.
All that is left that speaks of the woods is the water in my water bottle. Theres a lingering aftertaste of smoke from the boiling, mixed with bits of debris.
But even that is gone now. Kalani dumps it out and refills it fresh, and when I drink I can actually taste that the water is now clear instead of muddy brown.
The computer seems boring yet necessary, and I find myself trying to make sense of dates and times while sorting laundry. Our, 'Outdoor Experience' held true to the literal with an emphasis on, 'Experience.'
We had a conversation two days ago on spirtuality. I cannot seem to separate my understanding of myself and spirituality from nature. Yet we are separate. How can this be?
In the woods I would spend hours in one spot watching the weather roll through overhead. There was never a need to move. And still, somehow in the evenings when I knew the boars were around, every sound had me turning, watching, wondering.
Bjorne, our guide tells us over and over that there is nothing to fear. After all we are the scary creature, we are the one that destroys, and not the other way around. Bjorne is insistent but always kind. He seems to know everything there could be to know about just anything. One night he talks to us about chemistry. In the days he shows us how to create our own shelters, make fire, purify water, find food, the list goes on.
Bjorne is a wonder. He even teaches us a few songs, and improvises into ours. he gives us weather forecasts shares stories and even breaks into small jigs every now and then.
I was never bored, and somehow I can't think of what exactly I was doing. Sometimes I drank coffee for what could have been 5 min. or an hour. On sunny days I chased the sun through the trees, making beds in the moss and....
There were many precious conversations.
Sometimes the overwhelm of the end and the beginning all mixed up in one would leave me empty.
The End & The Beginning.
Building the fireplace.
The first fire.
Irvine's first fish.
Dressed up with some herbs.
A few wild, a few store bought.
Our water purification system.
Layers of stone, sand, charcoal and dried reeds = drinking water.
In one image, what this year has been all about.
Heartfelt friendships and conversations.
Excerpt from 'The Alchemist'. My friend and guide during this week.
" My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer," the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky.
Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse that the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second's encounter with God and with eternity."
We went into full print today for 'The Essence'. The past weeks, but really more like month has been one giant push in order to meet our deadline. Tomorrow I get into a car, and then a canoe, and paddle away from this computer. Before I leave though I wanted to leave you with a smidge of what this whole journey has been about. As YIP is coming to a close, I find myself with a whole new set of questions. Instead of the usual, "what is YIP?" I find myself currently posed by, "what have you learned at YIP?" That answer in full is really to big to put down all at once, but here is a sample.
Last Friday myself and Oona, who is the project initiator behind, IoY gave our final presentation on this project. At the end we brought our other two teammates up and we each answered these three questions.
What does it mean for me:
To be in a leadership role?
To co-create with others?
Realize a dream into reality?
I remember that one dammed YIP flyer, that I'd written about before. I remember the words, 'social entrepreneurship'. It was the first time I had ever read these words, and I spent the following years and through my time here at YIP, trying to understand what they meant. For me this project and these questions, not only seem to be the start to some sort of understanding but also to the rest of this life journey for me.
On Sunday, our last full work day (we started in the am and ended in the am), I found myself at Danika's door, a contributor and alumni. We were in the final hours and after days of non-stop work, I had lost the point. I asked, "does it matter, does it really matter?" It was here that she stopped me, handed me an article she had written last year while she was a Yippie, on this same thought, waited for me to finish reading it, and then handed me a piece of pie.
Here's the conclusion.
I will never be able to measure what this body of work will mean in the greater world, just as attempting to sum up what I have learned here or how it will profit me is also nearly impossible. What I do know is that by being given the supportive space to dream, plan, act and ultimately create, I have done something from what was nothing. And this will forever carry me. These three questions will forever guide me, because I now know that I can do. We started on this project with no money, no skills in project management or editing, and really no clue. All we had was a desire to give back and a hope that if we continued to take one step forward we would eventually get there.
Next Thursday, we pick up 700 copies. And if any one of these copies is picked up and read by an individual who is then moved into action, we have done our job. More than likely, I will not know this person, and they will not know me. This is just part of the beauty.
So on the thought of "what have I learned", I can rest easy saying - "I've learned to walk".
*If you want to know what was in Danika's article, you'll just have to purchase a copy.
It was so good we had to publish it.*
below is a few snippets from March onwards of what this adventure looked like.
The Month of March
- The first time we printed out all of our content. At the time we couldn't believe how much we had. Looking back, I almost can't believe how little we had! Nonetheless, this was a proud day for our team.
The Month of April
- Oona and I with our IoY stand at YIP's annual Initiative Forum. We had a Preview copy with just a few articles printed out and an opportunity for pre-purchase. There were many beautiful moments, meeting some of the faces that had contributed content to our little publication, as well as others that had sent love and support our way through our online campaign. Thank you to each and everyone of you!
The Month of May
- Much of the practical aspects of our work went into full swing. There were articles to be edited, people to contact, formatting to be done and much coffee to drink. Our lil team went into overdrive and we were determined to stick it out till the end!
The Month of June
June 10, 2014
- Today at the printers going over the rough print. I spent weeks imagining this exact moment over and over. Even though the draft wasn't cut or stapled, to be able to see the actual size, and the colour of the printing without our usual faded, streaked prints was amazing. We oohed and aahhed over every page.
Next Thursday we pick up our copies and begin sending them all over the world!
This collection of stories and images that we have compiled are fueled by questions that we all carry. We cannot pin these questions down to any one country, race or nationality. They are timeless and have no boundries.
These stories are meant to move and be shared, given to those that are ready to try something new.
Are you ready?
PS. Shipping is Free. Thats right :)
I'm not sure if I ever got a full explanation of Slava Theatre. It happened already more than a month ago, right after our adventures into Art of Hosting World. We arrived home and quickly dropped into three full days where our movement was marked by breath and each step was in tune with our neighbours. This was us learning how to physically move together as a group, and verbal agreements were generally not apart of the exercise.
Everything was familiar, yet entirely different.
Here we were singing folk songs in brain twisting sounds after a half hour of trotting in sync to, "two breaths out, one breath in, two breaths out, one breath in."
Here we are falling off of speakers and running across rooms with our eyes closed having small panic attacks,"because aren't their arms supposed to be there now?!" and then they are, and everything is okay. A few afternoons we were those strange people that you sometimes see in public parks doing something but your not quite sure what....?
We were in fact learning how to let our limbs be set free, so that our bodies could collide for only a few moments before being set off into a slow motion spiral of what mimicked tree limbs in the wind. And then there were activities such as, 'Your Body is My Earth', where strangers eating lunch looked on at us through the glass as we eagerly partnered up and took turns curling onto others bodies, in whatever formation we could figure. The only rule is that the one who was finding their earth on another's body could not let their feet touch the ground.
And so it goes here at YIP.
It's an inside out world where suddenly you might be the one that sticks out because your too afraid to embarrass yourself. And running with 'the crowd means being, weird, so you try it, and then all of a sudden you realize, your just being yourself.
Thats right, I'm just being myself.
Photo- Lena Otte
Photo- Lena Otte
Photo- Lena Otte
"The more I look at this picture, the more I like it...Theatre, singing, movement, and bodywork are great ways to become confident in groups and practice authentic leadership. We need more people who are at home in themselves before they go out to 'change the world'."
- Thijs Moonen
Photo- Lena Otte
Someone's a little off.... :)
I realized several times in these few days how unnatural it is for me to see a man being held. It's funny how I consider myself to be, 'so open' and yet the simple act of seeing this type of role reversal makes me take a second look. When I do I am suddenly confronted with the strange beauty that is love.
Always love, because love knows no boundaries.
My Dear Friends,
I'm reaching out to you because there is a story that I haven't told you yet.
It's a really special and unique one that completely changed my life.
It took me a long time to find the words and the courage to express my emotions because it is really precious to my heart.
About 8 months ago I got into this community, this place in Järna, Sweden,
I live with 19 people from all over the world who opened my eyes, my mind, my understanding, my own world and the most important my HEART!
It's not just a simple story, it is way more . . .
I discovered my own self through the group and individuals that are surrounding me, I'm sharing my every day life with them and they know more about me than any other individual or my own family!
They are respecting me for who I am and because of that I got to know who I really am and what I really love doing, what I'm good at and I made a choice, today: It's to always listen to my heart because I AM the only one who knows what is the good decision for my life !
YIP is the education I want to see in the world because you learn about values of life, how to communicate in a healthy way and how to express your fullest potential, It is aMAZing !!!
"How can we cultivate a leadership practice that invites creative disruption, co-learning and co-creation, to address the complex challenges of our times and collectively build the future we want to be a part of?"
- Art of Hosting and Harvesting Conversations That Matter-
All of the Yippies have returned some weeks ago now from their internships and our lives have been a flurry of transitions. Beginning and ends are overlapped creating shocking contrasts of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
We've started preparing for Initiative Forum while simultaneously our group is learning to cope and work through growing pains, as all of us become a little more comfortable with each other and saying "no".
On Wednesday I hurriedly pack my bags among the chaos of 18 other individuals also doing last minute gathering and landed in the backseat of a car. I watch landscape slide by for five hours as I slowly fit puzzle piece to puzzle piece of where exactly were headed and what we are in for. We park in a little town down south called Karlskrona, that sits on the water.
I know that the next four days will be dedicated to participating in an 'Art of Hosting (AoH)' training and that our whole group will be hosted by various locals that will be in the training, but beyond that much of what will go on is unknown to me. When we arrive at the campus of the Blekinge College of Technology, I am immediately struck by the beauty. The campus is bordered by water on one side and I can see a trail that slips past the buildings and winds somewhere away into the trees. I want to know where, but it is dusk so we head into one of the looming, clean buildings to register our names.
Inside I am again surprised by the two young girls sitting at the makeshift registration desk. I really did not know what would meet us here in Karlskrona, but I somehow did not picture people my age. The whole room in fact is filled with young adults and everyone that I meet is from somewhere besides Sweden, and everywhere I hear whispers of something called MSLS.
About an hour later we are lead into a completely round building outlined by chairs that slowly begin to fill, and then we begin. I learn then that our hosting teams and house hosts are all made up of students that are participating in the Master's in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability (MSLS) programme, which explains many of the young faces. The MSLS programme has striking similarities to YIP.
40 international participants averaging in their mid 20's that have 10 months together.
Except that this is a Master's programme and besides facilitating a four day workshop and welcoming us into their homes, many of them are currently in the process of writing their thesis.
I was humbled, to say the least.
There are many of us and everyone is excited. We are split into smaller groups to make the meet and greet a little more manageable and talk about common points of interests and why we are here. I am still barely fitting pieces of all of this together and everything is feeling a little extreme.
The thing that I will learn in the following days, is that everything is actually very extreme. The Art of Hosting Community brings together action orientated individuals from all walks of life. From the corporate world to the alternative minded, everyone is welcome and everyone has a story.
So what is, 'The Art of Hosting and Harvesting Conversations that Matter'?
- "The Art of Hosting is an approach to leadership that scales up from the personal to the systemic using personal practice, dialogue, facilitation and the co-creation of innovation to address complex challenges." -
The training presented various methodologies that make up AoH and that one can began to become familiar with through participation and practice. The whole training in fact wove us, the participants into the actual framework of what was being delivered. Sign up sheets were made available with slots open to anyone to fill in their name and have the opportunity to host various exercises throughout our day.
Many of the methodologies and even language were already familiar to me. I realized that AoH and MSLS are communities that are very closely related to YIP and that many individuals have cross pollinated many times over weaving such a large network, that the area I've been introduced to is only one small corner.
Much of what followed in the four days fell into this same understanding. One could easily spend years diving into and mastering just one of the many tools we were introduced to. What we were instead being offered was four days, an equivalent of a plate full of appetizers. Even if I had could have taken more we were encouraged not to.
I was reminded today, it takes time to chew, swallow and digest.
Below are a few clips from the dining table.
This was what our time in Karlskrona was about, conversing all day, err day.
A glimpse of the campus from the pier. For those of you that may be interested in the MSLS programme, I've attached a link below. Every participant I met was an exceptional human being, and the actual programme itself was incredibly intriguing.
"The question of reaching sustainability is not about if we will have enough energy, enough food, or other tangible resources - those we have. The question is: will there be enough leaders in time?"
- Dr. Göran Broman and Dr. Karl-Henrik Robèrt, programme founders
An Open Space looking at the question, " For those of you that are doing the work that you love, how do you both replenish and sustain your energy."
This was a great question posed by Maira, a YIP alumni, and all of the ones that found herself at her table were current Yippies, including myself. Sometimes myself and the group is just tired.
Sometimes I forget how much I am learning. I guess you could say that I've acclimated somewhat to the constant stream of information that I am attempting to integrate and process in order to call it my own, but if I don't closely watch myself I could easily start forgetting just how lucky I am.
This scares me.
It was questions and processes like this at the AoH training that enabled me to gain a birds eye view of my time here in Sweden. I was able to remember why I am here and reclaim a part of my purpose and foundation.
Stop- Listen- See the Pattern- Go Forward
Waking up with a group Haka.
"Fierceness and gentleness are not just in the same family, they are one"
Olga and I, asking for support and insight on YIP's Initiative Forum during Design For Wiser Action.
"If your nervous it means your stepping into something that matters."
Design For Wiser Action
Designing for Wiser Action is an exercise in asking for help and giving help. Utilizing peer coaching and a template we were able to state the need and purpose of I.F as well as review the group process. From here we were able to gain a clearer picture of where our group is and how best to step forward into action. Our group could not have attended this training at a better time as I know that starting tomorrow we will be actively practising and sharing all of these new tools.
Much of AoH is built upon constructing and refining the right questions in order for them to become invitations that others will want to respond to. After going through my notes over the past days, the questions below from fellow participants are the ones that I continue to carry.
For those that asked, please continue to do so. You may not have known the full effect of the gift you have given. Thank you.
- How can I lead from the silence inside me?
- How do I ask questions that really matter?
- How can gentleness be the creative disruption that will help a new society emerge?
- How can we use AoH methods in a corporate business world?
- How can I turn my deepest wounds into the greatest gifts in the world?
- When do you feel the most happy about being you?
Stepping into, "The Trembling".
Working with the prompt, "what are your next wise steps?"
Just one small section from our daily Harvest wall. Harvesting is a way of working with documentation that creates meaning for a collective. This an incredibly useful tool that all of us unconsciously use in our world today. This blog is a harvest of my time here at YIP.
During our training we were introduced to conscious way of gathering and processing documentation that could actually enable an individual or group to plan for the harvest they would like when putting together any time of meeting or gathering. This thought in itself has completely changed my understanding of how to approach all future projects!
Photo- Raquel Viggiani
"Friends, don't scatter or sleep. Our friendship is made of staying awake."
On our last day in Karlskrona we woke up late. It was a Sunday.
A few of us met up and made our way to a small local farm for lunch that had catered amazing food to our training. From our first morning in town, we have been blessed by the first sun in months, and yesterday was no exception. I was finally able to fully enjoy feeling warmth on my skin as we had a walk to the water. As Olga and I were cutting up through the woods to catch a better glimpse of what seemed to be a very random tower in the middle of the grass, I caught a glimpse of colour out of the corner of my eye.
Lo and behold, flowers! Spring flowers!
For those of you that have also just had a winter, I know you understand. We quite literally got down on the ground and laid our heads as close as we could to the colour. I've attempted a few times since to relay this story to other Yippies, because I could not get over the feeling of new life actually happening here in Sweden right now.
This morning I woke up back in Jarna, and it seems the sun has followed us back. I put on a dress, without leggings and stood for a moment on our balcony without shivering.
It's about to get really good.
Spring has Sprung!
The sun is out! It's warm enough to sit outside and say goodbye :)
Late night, gas station, feeding frenzies.
The International Youth Initiative Program
I am a Yippie class of 2013/2014. These are findings, thoughts and captured moments of mine from here in Jarna, Sweden.