Wednesday evening. I just finished watching a TEDx talk – crying.
The talk was by Debbie Sterling. The founder of goldieblox. She invented a toy for girls to develop their interest in science and technology from a very young age. I absolutely love her idea, her product and everything she stands for. The marketing of the company is super well made.
But most of all the story of her growing up in a world where she just did not fit in touched my heart and resonated with me like nothing else.
When I was just a toddler my mom tried to get me interested in “boys toys”. While she leaned over handing me a car to play with I leaned over to grab something else – her earring. I was a princess. But mom did not give up.
I remember having building blocks when I was a little girl. First there were wooden building blocks, I really liked them – but what I liked even more the little people that came with the building blocks and after a short while I got really bored by the blocks. Instead I would arrange the blocks into a house-shape for my people to live in. Later on I had Legos and a pirate ship and other things like that. As soon as I was done building the ship from lego blocks the story repeated itself. The pirates as well as the skeleton (man I loved that skeleton!) that came with the ship took all my attention away from the building blocks.
My favorite subject in highschool was math and I even attended an extra math class my teacher had set up for students who needed some “extra help”. Well, those kids never showed up. Instead it was me and my best girlfriend who were interested in solving extra tasks. Back then I was attending a catholic girl´s school. And the teachers took a lot of time to explain everything to us in detail. If necessary in different or “out of the box” ways.
The teaching methods changed as soon as I entered college. Suddenly the classes were mixed again. And boys seemed to understand technical stuff way faster than me. I chose a major in science. I loved tanks and I wanted to become an engineer for the army. (At that time I did not think much about war. I just loved tanks.) For the first time in my life I had the worst grades in my class. I was one of three girls – and definitely the only one looking like one. The teacher would sometimes ask me a question he knew I did not have an answer to. And when I was not able to reply he would say things like “Well, physics is not for girls” “Can somebody please explain it to our lady?” or “Come on, it´s really easy.”
After one year torturing myself I decided science was just not for me. Debbie Sterling is a girl from my generation. She did not grow up in Germany. But our cultures seem to be rather similar.
Thank you Debbie for inventing goldieblox for our girls. I wish I have had your toy back when I was still a kid.
Her TED talk
First GoldieBlox advertisement “Princess Machine”
A new GoldieBlox advertisement introducing the first action figure for girls. (MUCH needed. I had a ninja action man. My barbies loved him.)
Monday night. It´s just me and my headphones. The song has been playing over and over again and I can´t help myself. I start to dance. My feet are moving on their own. I would not call it moonwalk but something similar – in less perfection – takes place. This beat, lovely lyrics and …
… a car honks at me. Whops. I am in public! I smile and wave at the girl in the car and think to myself “that´s Berlin.”.
This incident makes me think about the impact of music on us. Research has shown that music has greater impact on teenagers as they are developing their brains rapidly generating new synapses. They show strong reactions when exposed to music leading them to feel everything from depression to full ecstasy. Am I still in the teenager development state?
Biologically not. But I have noticed how my mood is strongly influenced by music. A couple of days back I found a note to myself. It stated “Have you ever noticed how you are completely in your own world with headphones? You can walk through a crowd of people and don´t get affected by their mood. Even when people are stressed and angry around you it is possible to stay calm.”
Isn´t that interesting? Music can be a stress repellant barrier between yourself and others? If music is taking the mind away from absorbing how others around you are feeling – mustn´t it be possible to set your mind to such a state at all time? A state where you feel this happiness inside, where you don´t absorbe negative energy from others and a place where you simply start to dance in the streets?
Until I figure out how, I´ll experiment some more with my research on the influence of music on my mood…
“Wow, it´s so nice here. I have to come again some times.” Or “We had such a great time. Let´s catch up soon.”
Do you know that feeling when you visit a new restaurant, or generally a new place, or you hang out with a nice person for the first time?
It seems like such a normal thing to do and sometimes it might just be an expression of how much we are enjoying ourselves. However, many of us try to extend the good time we had into the future without fully experiencing the present.
What do I mean with that?
If you are already thinking about when to come back to this place, whom to bring and what to talk about, maybe even what you could do better next time – it´s not possible to live the moment to the fullest. E.g. you are hiking alongside a beautiful lake and your mind goes: “Next time I should bring food. We could make a picknick here. Oh and let´s ask Linda and John if they want to come along. Their dog would have a great time. This could be our small hide-away. Let´s come back at least once per year.” Wow. You have build a whole imaginary future for yourself based on a snippet of your current experience. Are you then REALLY enjoying the moment and living this experience to the fullest? Nope, you are not even present. You are living in the future. And you probably missed a great chance to experience happiness NOW. In that very moment.
Many times when we do something without having any expectations we get surprised by how much fun we can have. If we give ourselves to the moment and allow ourselves to experience this moment without clinging to the fun parts we can actually have EVEN MORE fun! Nice.
Subways are a great place to experience stuff.
On a hot, humid summer day you may meet prespiring strangers who unknowingly rub their moist backs against your arm. Whereas on weekend nights, especially the first weekend of the month, when everybody just received their paychecks, trains are THE place to extend your circles. Drunk strangers are willing specimen to practice small talk, hugs, or improve your skills on how to serve as a human sleeping pillow. (apply as needed)
But most of all, I think subways are a good place to get enlightened and practice mindfulness.
Staying calm can be challenging at times. After all, taking the subway is much more a necessity than a choice for most of us. Cultures, generations and different mindsets collide in a tiny little space. This can lead to loaded feelings and a general “I hate everybody” attitude. But they are a great place for people watching.
And if we look closely we can see random acts of kindness everywhere on our subway rides.
Kindness unfolds in all different ways. The young girl offering a seat to an older man with a walking stick. The guy who blocks the door for the lady who runs to catch the train. The teenager giving his last coins to a homeless man. The musicians performing with a smile. Yes, even the drunk person giving me a hug or using me as a human pillow.
You never know what the person next to you is going through right now. Next time you think “what the ** is this ** thinking?” just take a deep breath and remember:
A smile or an understanding nod is maybe all they need.
After all, we are all sitting in the same boat, ehm train.
Oh my life is taking dramatical turns ever since I don´t have internet at home. Does this sound pathetic? yeah… maybe a bit. But let me describe my day to you and you might understand. Or at least maybe develop some much needed empathy for me!?
When I got up I decided to carry my laptop with me because I have not been able to post on my projects blog since my last extended starbucks visit. Well, my laptop weighs like a ton – at least. And I´ve been walking around with paint and other heavy stuff in my bag for ages. When I finally was ready to settle down for the afternoon to write some blog posts I accidentally ended up in the wrong train. 2 hours later I was finally back in the city and went to the nearest starbucks. Crowded and full as usual.
Decided to go somewhere else. Balzac coffee – feel free to laugh here.
First question: do you have wifi?
Second question: Do you have food?
Well, they provided food and drinks. But only 30 minutes of free wifi. I think I am going to die. Beam me up, scotty!