We always have to try to keep a healthy balance in all areas of life, also when doing well. One cannot be only giving all the time; one must also know how to receive.
As a young woman, I used to be the “go getter” type. An independent woman who did everything by herself. The type that was always ready to give and felt weak if I needed assistance with something. I felt very ashamed if I needed to ask for help. I could give just like that, no problem at all.
However, when it came to receiving, I would feel awkward and did not know how to act.
Sentenced to; forever being unable to move at all is horrendous to anyone. It is even more so to a person that use to do everything by herself. I used to do it all by myself, and now even the little details as washing myself or scratching my nose will have to be done for me.
It was not bad enough that I could not give anymore; all of my life was going to be about only receiving. At least it felt like that way at the time.
For my first Christmas of being locked inside myself, I decided to buy presents for everyone. At least, I could be giving again. I did not buy just any presents. I put a deep thought in each present for every single person. It gave me a feeling of satisfaction watching everyone opening their presents and being happy with what they got.
Sharing my story was another way that I could give something back to the world. My life itself gave me something valuable that I could give the world and in return, it gives me purpose. Most of my time I am focused in helping others. Nevertheless, that is not all that my life is. I get plenty in return and with time, I have learned to accept it gracefully because that is what life is about. Giving and receiving. If you want to make someone happy, you should not just give him or her things. You also have to accept their gifts when they want to share their appreciation with you.
This year (2016), I got myself a different level of giving. Three young women with positive attitudes came into my life. These three young ladies who want to do something for themselves and are willing to work for it. Everyone can use some help when they are starting in life and how can I do anything but to help these girls to make their dreams come true.
First was the niece of my best friend. She wants to be a model and is ready to do what it takes to become one. Felicia asks me for my opinion and advice, and I give it gladly. It is incredible to see how much she has progressed in a just few months. It gives me pleasure to lend a helping hand with the start of her career. I give her my knowledge, and I get back from her the chance to relive my younger years. A prove of the magic of giving and receiving. If you are in need of an upcoming young model, check her out Felicia Kivistö.
The other two young women are sisters. Soheila and Zahra have Afghan origins. They have been just one and a half year in Finland, and they already speak the language very well (you can ask anyone; Finnish language is a difficult language). These girls have a super positive and progressive attitude.
Not only do they want to make something for themselves, but they also want to help others to do so too. It is as if we share the same view of life and the spirit to do something about improving the life of others. How can I not take them under my wings?
One of Soheila’s possible career choices is to become an interpreter. One of Zahra’s possible career choices is to become a photographer. As a part of the Kati Lepistö family, they can do just that. Soheila can interpret my story in Farsi (sometimes Finnish) and Zahra can take pictures (something she is very good at). It is a win, win situation. I get to share my story with a bigger audience. They learn and gain experience. The audience will not just be inspired and empowered by my life story, but also by seeing the young girls that are just eighteen months in Finland making it by themselves.
A friend that works at one of the asylum seekers centers asked us to give a talk. He thought that this would be inspiring to the people and that it would lift their spirits.
You never know what kind of audience you get when giving speeches or giving talks. You do not know how they will react to my story and my message (Of course, the story is mostly sad. However, the message is always positive).
This audience was very different from all other audiences I have had before. Never did a group of people react to the story as they did. It was as if they were living my experiences as Henning’s words were being translated into their language. At some points, they interrupted the talk with applause to Henning and I. Never was any other audience so enthusiastic after a talk or speech that I gave. They were not shy to show their emotion. Their tears for what happened to me also their happiness that I am doing well.
These people appreciated me visiting them, and they showed it. They wanted to spell with me. They wanted to take pictures with me. They were offering their help. They even gave me presents. A 73-year-old woman took a ring from her finger to give it to me. A little girl came and offered me some heart earrings she bought for herself. Another girl gave me a wooden rose she made in handcrafts. One man wanted to give me something so bad but did not know what. He ran to his room, came back with a handmade scarf, and offered it to me.
I gave these beautiful people some inspiration, maybe some hope and they gave me so much back. They gave me an amazing feeling, which I will never forget.
We tend to label people. Make groups sorted by race, nationality, culture, religion and political views. Majorities and minorities, skin color and mother language. After doing this, we just refer to people as groups and forget that they are humans just as we.
We should not be afraid of different thoughts. Trust me different thoughts are good for us. It opens our minds to new and better ideas. It opens more and more doors to the future and a better world.
Most importantly, it opens our hearts. It shows us the meaning of life and leads us to true happiness.