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How's the road condition?

"Drive as if you had eggs under the pedal," my mom used to say when I was younger and taking practice lessons to get my driver's license. The temperature had started to creep down and winter was approaching. “No hasty movements; you never know if there might be patches of ice.” I'm someone who finds visual instructions handy because it's easier for me to learn things when I can picture them in my mind, and this is something I've reminded myself of every winter since. Lately, I've been pondering about whether this way of thinking and navigating could also be useful in our communication – the one we have with others in our life and the one we direct towards ourselves. And if so, what is an ice patch? I think an ice patch can be several different things. It can be how we are feeling at the moment. It can be things that affect our margins in life, our patience, our ability to be flexible. It can be the interpretations we make about events that happen in our everyday life, interpretations that may not always bring a favorable image of ourselves or others. It can be fear, worry, guilt or thoughts about how things – or we – should be. Our patches of ice can make it easier for us to slip, easier to lose our balance, in ourselves and in relation to others. As a parent, I've noticed that driving with hasty movements rarely works well, regardless of the season, especially if we need to be somewhere at a certain hour and there is a sense of urgency is in the air. Driving with eggs under the pedal in those moments, i.e. slowing down and trying to tune into everybody's needs, is not about being unclear and vague in my communication, something I believed for a long time. Nor is it about letting go of the things we need to do. And nor is it about tiptoeing or being overly careful in order not to rock the boat.

It's about respect and understanding. Respect for the fact that we all need an extra dose of kindness and care sometimes. Respect for the need to process what has been said, let information settle, adjust our thoughts. It's about understanding that we all have patches of ice – some of which we can clearly see and others that we can't possibly know in advance. Understanding that our margins and our abilities and our self-image are not always at their best. It's about driving with more gentle movements so as not to skid, so that no one has to lose control unnecessarily. And when things still turn out differently than I had imagined or hoped for, when I might have said things I regret or when I think I should have acted in a different way, can I then drive with eggs under the pedal even towards myself? I know this can be really hard to do sometimes. But I want this to be a reminder that it's okay. It's more than okay. It's okay to slow down and tune into our own needs. It's okay to take a bath or call a friend. It's also okay to take one of those eggs, fry it and make ourselves a good egg sandwich and a cup of tea. Or whatever it is that helps us feel a little better. We all have things that make us feel extra vulnerable from time to time. That make it easier for us to slip. That doesn't make us bad navigators. It makes us human. In warmth and gentleness, Karolina

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