My Summer project: creating a children’s book

This Summer, I started working on a big and exciting project: I’m creating a children’s book. The endeavor is a way for me to combine several different passions of mine into one all-encompassing project.


My idea so far:

I want the book to be illustrated, comprising more images than text. I’m using watercolors but am also open to mixing several different drawing media when creating the pictures (pastels, acrylics… ).

The story is about a girl, Luna, who decides to climb the tallest mountain that she knows of. On her adventure, she encounters obstacles. These drawbacks represent memorable learning experiences that I’ve had, or, that I believe are important to go through in life.
Initially, Luna is reactive and caught up in her feelings. Her emotions dictate her actions. One of the major things that Luna therefore learns is how to deal with the strong, often uncomfortable, feelings that she experiences on her journey (fear, anxiety, envy… ).

The turning point for her is when, through an encounter with a creature or animal, she discovers meditation. From then on, Luna practices: she concentrates on the ins-and-outs of her breath. Whenever her mind starts to wander, she learns to let the thoughts go and to come back to the present moment – her breath. Feelings arise but she discovers how to be comfortable with them, no need to immediately and mindlessly react.

Meditation isn’t easy, but with time, the finding enables Luna to change her perception of the world and of her place in it. She gradually feels connected to everything around her and finally, is able to truly choose who she wants to be – her emotions don’t dictate her anymore.

Luna finishes her climb and, as she contemplates the view from the top, she realizes that the mountain she ascended was far from the tallest out there. This isn’t of importance to her any longer. Her journey and its teachings are of bigger value.


What I still need to figure out:

Illustrations:

How realistic do I want the images to be? Should Luna be human or not? Do each illustration represent a specific scene that happens in the story? Or instead, should the pictures be more abstract and/ or aesthetic?

Story:

What are the feelings that Luna experiences at the start? I would like to choose two or three. How can I show that Luna is reactive and not in control of how she reacts to them? How long should the story be?


 

“Love of my life” by Queen

Even-though I’ve wanted to, I haven’t posted anything on this blog in a long time.

Today, I filmed myself playing “Love of my life”, a song by Queen that I like and have been working on for a while. I decided to post the video as a way for me break my silence here on the blog. I still make mistakes when playing the song but I’m proud that I can (kind of) pull off four minutes of it.

Here it is:

Love of My Life – Queen



“Unlimited Memory”, Kevin Horsley

Earlier this week, I finished reading a book called “Unlimited Memory”. As the title might suggest, the book is about memory, and more specifically, about how to train your brain to remember more.

To be honest, I bought the book on a whim and picked it up, sceptical that I would learn anything of great value from it. I have to say, however, that I am happy to have given it a chance. I already knew a lot of the tricks mentioned in “Unlimited Memory”, but, reading it brought them all back to the surface again. It has motivated me to incorporate memory techniques while studying and treat the sometimes “boring” study sessions as memory games. Here are some of the notes that I took while reading:


– THE JOURNEY METHOD

All memory methods work with the formula (LTM + STM = MTM):

Long-term memory + Short-term memory = Medium-term memory

One of the techniques for memorization taught in the book is known as The Journey Method. It’s easy. The first step is choosing a location stored in your long-term memory. This can be anywhere – just make sure that you know the place or route well. Then, the second step is creating clear images of the things that you want to remember and placing these images in distinct spots within the location you’ve chosen.
When imagining the scene, try to use the SEE principles. They are:

  • S for SENSES: Utilize your senses. “Hear a piece of information and three days later you’ll remember 10% of it. Add a picture and you’ll remember 65%.”
  • E for EXAGGERATION: “What is easier to remember: a strawberry that is normal size or one the size of a house?”
  • E for ENERGIZE: give your pictures action.

My mum actually taught me this trick years ago when I was still at school. I used it to memorize difficult quotes for an exam and I remember being so impressed that I knew each quote word for word without having put effort into studying them. All of that to say, the Journey Method definitely works.


– REMEMBERING NUMBERS

A method for remembering numbers was also introduced in the book. This is something I had never heard of before and found interesting. The technique requires you to put a little bit of work at first, but once you’ve started using it a few times, it gets easier. The first step is remembering this table:

0: S, Z or C sound
5: L sound
1: T or D sound
6: J, Sh, Ch or G sound
2: N sound
7: K or C sound
3: M sound8: F or V sound
4: R sound
9: B or P sound

It might look a little tedious but, it’s worth the trouble because, once that’s done, you can memorize any number in a short amount of time. For example: 3472 9401215 721110 is the same as remembering aMeRiCaN PReSiDeNTiaL CaNDiDaTeS. The way that the author remembers dates is by taking the three last digits in the date and then using the code above to remember them. The Nobel Prize was first awarded in 1901. This can be remembered by imagining that the first prize was made of PaSTa (a bit silly but it works).


“Do You Remember” by Jack Johnson

It’s 2019 and I’m finally writing on my blog again! I’m back with the most recent song that I’ve taught myself on the guitar: “Do You Remember” by Jack Johnson.

I like Jack’s music a lot because I associate his songs with my childhood. They remind me of the English lessons that I had in primary school. My teacher, that I really adored, loved Jack Johnson and used to play his albums during class. I remember being so excited to finally be able to speak English and still cherish the memories that I have of these lessons. Jack’s music brings me back to English class 🙂

Little side-note: I made a silly lyric mistake at the start of the video which explains why I sang a part of the song twice.



Here are other songs that I’ve learned:
– Don’t Know Why – Norah Jones
Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley


About love

The past months have been quite intense for me. In a good way. I’ve learned a lot, met plenty of people and have been genuinely happy. But, the intensity of my daily life has meant that I haven’t had as much time for myself, to reflect. Moments spent alone are essential to me and I deeply miss having more of them.

Even though I haven’t been as active on this blog, I’ve kept reading and have kept learning about things that I usually post here. I’ve noticed that the books I currently feel like reading are less ‘educational’ than they used to be. At the moment, I am drawn to books that make me think about ideas rather than teach me about facts. I suppose this is linked to me missing my alone time. Reading books with less objective content probably allows me to reflect more during daily life, as I read in the bus, in between class or anywhere else.

All About Love

Currently, I am reading a book by Bell Hooks entitled “All About Love”. I had previously read another one of her books (“Ain’t I A Woman”) which I liked, and was thus intrigued when I saw that she had written a book on the topic of love.

Personally, the concept of love, especially the romantic kind, brings up a lot of questions for me. Though I did not always relate to what Bell Hooks wrote in the book, it’s been soothing to reflect on this topic.

I wonder, what is love? Is it the intense feeling of wanting to be with someone? Or, is that simply the description of infatuation? Instead, is it the choice that you make, everyday, when you decide to continually commit to the person you love? Or, is it still a feeling, but a calmer one, which comes up when you’ve been with someone for a long time and truly know them?
Is love a combination of all of the above? Or, does it represent something different for everyone?

I also ask myself, does love grow? Or, does love always disappear? Can love and abuse coexist? Why is it possible to love people that aren’t good for you? Is everyone going to know love? Or, do most people settle for something milder? When people say they love me, do they love me? Or, do they love the embellished idea that they’ve created of me? Similarly, when do I know that I truly love someone else rather than the idea that I’ve constructed of them?

I realize that I’ve just flooded this post with difficult and intimate questions. Somehow, just like in my previous post, writing them here feels good and makes it easier for me to find my answers to them.

Sarah Kay

On top of being drawn to books that make me reflect, I have also started watching and reading poetry. I stumbled upon a spoken poetry Youtube channel and have loved watching the performances. This led me to discover Sarah Kay. She inspires me and I therefore wanted to share a video of her here.

In case you are interested to hear some of her poems, here are a few:
* The Type
* Private Parts
* Mrs. Ribeiro

Guitar update

Finally, here is a short guitar progress update. The first part of the video is the intro to Stairway to Heaven. I liked playing it but haven’t learned the rest of the song because I personally think it sounds much better on electric guitar. The other part of the video is a song that I discovered on Youtube. I tried playing it because it looked easy (and it was) and therefore also learned the lyrics to the song.


 

selfish

On selfishness

Am I selfish for being this dedicated to my own self-development? Should I let go of some of my dreams to be there for the people around me? Are all extremely passionate people selfish in some way?
Does it have to go hand in hand? Or am I just doing it wrong?

Am I selfish for needing this much time alone when other people want me to be with them? Does the need for solitude necessarily mean that I care less? Or does it merely mean that I show love differently?

If selfishness is needed for me to be content and for me to love myself, doesn’t it also mean that it is needed for me to love others? Is it ultimately selfish then? Why does it feel as though it is?

I know that I usually only post about things that I learn, but in this case, I’m not exactly sure about how to find the answers to my questions. I guess there isn’t a right or wrong answer to them.
I hope that with time, I’ll find the ones that feel right to me.


Painting by Gustav Klimt

first Python code

My first Python code

I’m currently learning how to program at school and have just finished writing my first Python code.  The game that I’ve made took me a few weeks to write. I am so stoked to be done with it! I enjoyed programming way more than I thought I would and can’t wait to learn more about it.

Because programming is something that I would like to get better at, I thought it would be nice to post my progress here on my blog.

Here is the code.


Bulgarisk Patiens – the instructions:

The game is in Swedish. It’s called: “Bulgarisk Patiens”. These were the instructions (also in Swedish).

In short, the user is first allowed to choose an amount of cards between 2 and 52. This amount is then divided into different stacks, randomly. If the user, for example, chose to play with 10 cards, the stacks could look like this: [4, 4, 2].
3 stacks with 4 cards in the first one, 4 in the second and 2 in the third. The value of the cards isn’t important in this game.

When that is done, a card is then taken from each stack and a new stack is created with these cards. Using the same example as before, the next step of the game would look like this: [3, 3, 1, 3].

The process is repeated until stabilty, called “patiens”, is reached. For example:
(I’ve sorted each list in the order of magnitude)
[2, 2, 2, 4]
[1, 1, 1, 3, 4]
[2, 3, 5]
[1, 2, 3, 4]
[1, 2, 3, 4]
[1, 2, 3, 4]

The game is now over. The process can be repeated indefinetly and the stacks would always end up looking the same: [1, 2, 3, 4].

If “patiens” isn’t reached within 25 steps, the game stops. It also stops when it finds a “cycle”. For example:
[2, 3]
[1, 2, 2]
[1, 1, 3]
[2, 3]
… etc

Second part of the game:

The second option that the user has when playing the game is getting to look at statistics for it. He can choose the amount of games that he wants the computer to play and then gets to see how many times stability has been reached in those games. For example, if the user chooses 5 games, he could see:
“3 games reached ‘patiens’ and 2 didn’t.”

The final instruction that I had was to create a GUI (Grafical User Interface) for the game. Learning how to do this took a bit of time for me but it’s super fun to be able to actually click on buttons and see things happen when playing my game. All in all, I’m so happy to have finished writing the code and I can’t wait to write my next one.


 

“Candles” by Daughter

“Candles” is the most recent song that I have taught myself on the guitar. I liked learning it because it wasn’t too easy, neither too hard. As always, I found that syncing the singing and the playing was the hardest part of the whole learning process.

Here is the original song. Daughter’s voice is very high, which was difficult for me to replicate. I tried my best but, can’t nail it perfectly.

In case you wonder, the video is dark because I filmed it in the morning.


Candles – Daughter

Here are other songs that I’ve learned:
– Don’t Know Why – Norah Jones
Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley


 

On flow and Ayurveda

On Flow and Climbing

A few days ago, I came back to Stockholm after having spent a week with my family in Brussels. To tell the truth, I was sad to leave and felt the characteristic ‘sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach’ as the plane took off. Yes, I know that I’ll see my family again soon and I’m truly happy to be living by myself in Sweden. Nonetheless, knowing this doesn’t make goodbyes any easier. The ‘sinking feeling’ will probably always come back to me when it’s time to say bye to my family and the people that I love.

As soon as I arrived, I went climbing. I hadn’t climbed in almost a month and, as I did, I forgot about all of my prior thoughts and emotions. It’s amazing how a simple activity such as climbing can almost immediately allow you to forget about worries, time and sometimes even about your sense of self. Usually, how well I climb doesn’t even matter. Of course, it’s always nice to send problems that I’ve worked hard on. But, just being there, with a clear challenge in front of me, in an environment that I really like, makes me happy – in a peaceful kind of way.

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

These thoughts made me think of a book called “Flow”. I can’t write a thorough review of it because I read it too long ago, but, I believe the author was right when he argued that incorporating “flow” activities in your life is a key component to happiness. I think, if I remember correctly, that he defined flow as the process of ‘losing yourself’ while engaged in an activity. He mentioned a few conditions that are usually present during flow experiences:

  1. Engagement in a challenging activity.
  2. Concentration on the activity.
  3. Clear and well defined goal(s) that can be reached within our control,
    • winning the lottery is therefore not a good example.
  4. Immediate feedback,
    • with climbing, you fall or you don’t; alternatively, the movements feel good or they don’t.
  5. Effortless involvement in the activity,
    • I never feel like I’m working out while climbing. Of course, some of it is hard but I definitely want to be there and the activity as a whole feels almost relaxing.
  6. Sense of control over actions,
    • the better you get at climbing, the more you can control what you’re doing (obviously) – and that feels good.
  7. Concern for self disappears (= “losing yourself” in what you are doing).
  8. Alteration of time,
    • I can easily spend 7 or 8 hours in the climbing gym and feel like I’ve spent 2.

I thought it was interesting to realise to what extent climbing is a flow activity for me. I’ve also felt a similar flow while playing guitar, reading, practicing yoga or when solving challenging physics problems. The book “Flow” in itself was a bit too long and repetitive for my taste. However, I still liked reading it and it might be interesting for people that are looking to find flow in their daily life.


 

“Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley

A few weeks ago, I decided to learn how to play the typical acoustic guitar players’ song: Hallelujah. I chose Jeff Buckley’s version as it is the one that I prefer.
Because it is a song that a lot of guitar players know, I thought it would be an easy one to learn. Actually, it was harder than I expected and it’s probably the most difficult song that I’ve learned so far. I think it might be because Jeff Buckley’s version is a bit more demanding guitar-wise. I could thus probably have learned an easier version.

I started by playing the intro for a few days, then, progressively added the verse and the chorus. I only started singing a week later. It’s funny how something can seem hard at first but, when you break it down and take it step by step, it becomes easy.


Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley

 

Here are other songs that I’ve learned:
– Don’t Know Why – Norah Jones
– Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd