Reading sample #1

My Language Is My Action

“Life begins outside of your comfort zone.”

― Neale Donald Walsh

Do you believe in the power of words? 

Well, I do. Words can make you sad or smile! They can break your heart or make you fly. We hear words every day, which influence us in a good or bad way.

I know one little girl, who was very shy. She liked long speeches at school, especially when they were delivered by her teachers. When they talked, they did not have time to ask her. But when she heard whose three words, “You answer now!” Her heart started to beat like a high-speed train. Even now, when I look at the mirror, I ask myself, “What happened to that little shy girl in me?” 

My life completely changed when I was 19 years old and for the first time left my home country Ukraine, flew on the plan and visited a new country, USA. For me, it was a country of Hollywood, movie stars and McDonald's. Who does not like McDonald's, especially children? 

I came to American camp as a counsellor and trainer for swimming and diving. I received such a warm welcome at the camp. Hugs made me feel great; smiles made me happy, but jokes in English were a shock for me. I kept smiling, understanding nothing.   In Ukraine, you learn English for ten years at school by reading and writing. And what you can actually say is just your name and where are you from.

I still remember my very first lesson at the camp. It was a board diving class, and I was the coach. Ten kids were sitting around me at the edge of the swimming pool and waiting for my instructions. “Hello! My name is Viktoriya. I am from Ukraine.” I said, looking at the kids and smiled. They looked back at me and were so quiet that I could hear a mosquito flying by. “Do you like diving?” I continued. There was still silence. Perhaps, kids were waiting for more explanations about diving.  

Ok, I thought, it is time for action. “Guys, look at me and follow me!” I said to the kids, went on the diving board and did a double forward flip without a splash. Kids were amazed, with their jaws open; I could not close their jaws. The next thing I did was simply jumped off the diving board, and they jumped after me. If they jumped well, like a dolphin, I would applaud them. If they jumped like a small frog, I would jump like a big frog to show all mistakes; then I would run back to the board and jump again to demonstrate the right way to do it. I managed to do a hundred jumps in one hour; it was all because I could not speak English. My language was my action. Kids loved it. They were laughing, playing and having a lot of fun. I was happy but also exhausted at the same time. Do I want to teach? Of course. Was I prepared to teach? You guess.

Have you ever felt you were drowning? 

That time I felt overwhelmed and insecure. I was going my best in teaching classes, but the pressure increased with each passing day. However, my skills were also improving.

One week later, we had our first outdoor hiking with kids. They were very excited to go out of the camp, play in woodland, bake potatoes over fire and sleep in a sleeping bag. This day was my turning point in this whole story. 

I had a night dream that my camp director came to me and said, “Viktoriya, you have done such a great job! Thank you, you were a great counsellor. You are now free to fly back home.” I was happy to hear his words of appreciation, my mission at the camp was completed and, in my dreams, I flew back home, where my parents were already waiting for me. I was at home again in my comfortable surrounding speaking my mother language. What could be better? My heart was full of joy and happiness. 

“Viktoriya, wake up!” I opened my eyes just to know that I was dreaming. I was now back to the reality, a shocking reality. It seemed as if electricity ran through my bones. Looking at the sweet little girl standing in front of me, I realised that it was just a dream. I wanted to go back in my beautiful night dream and escape from all duties, challenges and responsibilities which I was facing in my reality. But I also learned that taking a deep breath, counting till ten and looking inside of yourself help you focus on Here and Now

Was it really so bad, or was it just the negative power of my thoughts that accumulated inside me for the last few weeks and created stress? Could I bring my feelings under control and focus on my strengths in the moment?   Could my action change my emotions? 

Step by step, I was convincing myself that it was just a life lesson, and if I didn't give up, I would learn and grow further. 

I looked at the small sweet girl, who was still standing next to me and trying to wake me up. Her lovely smile was amazing; she was happy to see me. I saw in her eyes that she had something special for me. I looked around and could not believe my eyes. Kids from my cabin had woken up earlier and prepared breakfast for me. What could be better? It was their way to show how they valued and cared about me; no words were needed. It was an international language understandable for everyone. 

“You are our best counsellor, Viktoriya!” The kids said together. These words gave me confidence and the power to move forward. How important it was for me to hear the right words, at the right place from people who loved me and cared about me, it was magic!

This was an unforgettable journey with many impressions. For the first time, I was all by myself; a new language, a new culture and of course, new challenges. This journey and its challenges gave me a great experience and taught me to believe in myself. I also learned that if I wanted to achieve something, I could do by the following steps,

Dream – Plan – Take Action

Remember, that the only way to grow and reach your full potential is by stepping outside of your comfort zone. 

Reading sample #2

Stress Is Good

“Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax.”

– Mark Black

Do you know how to keep your emotions under control? How to stay calm and relax during stressful situations? Studies prove that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain in control. And it is also demonstrated that the ability to manage your emotions and stay calm under pressure has a direct influence on your successful performance at work and in everyday life. 

For me, stress is a moving factor. Do you remember how you usually feel when you have to do something exciting - your first date, first performance on stage, meeting your best friend after a long time or buying a new car? Being excited and being in stress are physiologically almost the same processes. When you are stressed for a short time, for your brain, it is nearly the same as being excited. Do you know how you can transform your worry into excitement? Let me share with you one story from my experience of being a mother.   

One day my daughter came to me and asked, “Mom, what do you do when you are afraid or worried about something?”

“My darling, it is normal sometimes to be afraid, because it is a protective reaction of our body to environment around us,” I explained my daughter. “Of course,” I continued, “a lot depends on us and our behaviour, because motivations create emotions.” I told my daughter a story about a little girl who went for a walk to a forest. It was getting dark and started to rain; the lightning was followed by thunder. The mother, who was waiting for her daughter at home began to worry about her. She ran to the forest to look for her daughter and what she found there was very surprising for her. Her little girl instead of being afraid, as her mother thought, was relaxed and in a good mood. Every time when the lightning came, she stopped walking, looked at the sky and smiled. Unbelievable! The mother gave her daughter a hug and asked her, “Sweetheart, aren't you afraid of the lightning?”  

“Why should I?” Wondered the little girl, “God is just taking photos of me!” 

My little daughter was impressed by this story. “Mom!” she said, “I want to be this little brave girl!” 

If you want to transform your worry into excitement and get a good feeling about the current situation, just change your thinking about the whole situation or your point of view. Ask yourself, what would be the worst-case scenario if you would fail; then make a funny story of that. 

Take some actions to energise yourself – as motions create emotions!

But what to do if stress turns out to be over your expectations? There are some strategies which you can follow. First of all, start with an appreciation. Be thankful for what you have. Stop asking “What if?” because usually, only about 10% happens from what we imagine can really happen. So, stop thinking negative and stay positive. If you cannot change your thinking, change your behaviour and your action. And exactly this order works very well – action, behaviour and thinking. For example, when I am in stress, I take action and go jogging. This brings me in a good mood, and automatically, my thinking becomes more positive. And in a positive state of mind, we tend to look for solutions instead of just talking about the problems.

Moreover, it is also very helpful to disconnect yourself from social networks for some time. Switch off your phone and just be by yourself. Make sure that you limit your caffeine consumption and get enough sleep. And what is very important is to breathe. When we are in stress, we forget to breathe, but breathing is the most fundamental of physical activities, and it is directly linked to the nervous system. Breathing you can consciously control and can influence all other functions in your body!

Another essential point is to ask for help and support. Sometimes people forget about it and try to solve all problems by themselves, which is harder or maybe not possible at all. Allow your surroundings to help you if you need help, ask what you need, and you will definitely get it.