Since I got back to Estonia last week, I've been completely hooked on TED Talks. Others watch tv in the evening, I watch TED Talks. When I started my marathon, I actually wrote in my notebook all the talks that I had watched but now I've given it up, it would be just pages and pages of names and titles. Anyway, I wanted to share a top 5 list of my favourite talks:

My all time favourites are two talks by Dr Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability and Listening to Shame. Actually, it was M.J. who made me watch them about a month and a half ago. I absolutely loved them. We watched them over and over again, talked about them, and then went back and watched them again. It came to the point where we started using phrases from these talks in our own conversations, phrases like 'It was a freakin' spiritual awakening' and 'no family stuff, no childhood ****, just give me strategies' and 'vulnerability hangover' and such. The truth is (and I know exactly how big these words sound), these talks changed my life. Quite literally. They have changed my perception, my views, and they have also changed my actions. I've had to pick myself up and make myself vulnerable and be true to my inmost being and say words that I wouldn't have had courage for if I hadn't heard Dr Brown's talks. And yes, it has led to a vulnerability hangover, but at the same time I believe that vulnerability is a strength and absolutely essential to wholehearted living. And I'm determined to live wholeheartedly.

Next talk that I've loved is Bryan Stevenson's We Need to Talk About an Injustice. It's a beautiful-beautiful speech by a lawyer who fights against poverty and injustice and racial inequality and who has sat at the feet of Rosa Parks (!!!) and who helps youngsters who are in prison. Oh, and when he comes to the 'moral arc of the universe is long but it bends towards justice' bit (one can't imagine a serious talk on this topic without these words), I feel like getting up and applauding. Which the audience does in the end, by the way. A wonderful talk indeed.

And then Elizabeth Gilbert and her Your Elusive Creative Genius. She's the Eat Pray Love lady and she talks about the struggle one has when she discovers that at the age of 40 it is possible that her greatest work as a writer is already behind her. And how to cope with it. Very moving insight to the life of a creative person. But the most beautiful bit comes in the very end when she talks about dancers and the divine power that a dancer gets every now and then. And how the job of that dancer, even if the divine moment is gone, is to show up the next day and to do his thing again and again. And then, maybe, one day, something divine happens again. I've thought about it a lot in the context of my own sermon writing and preaching. And Mrs Gilbert has spoken words of encouragement into my heart again.

And then I think it's Clay Shirky's Institutions vs Collaboration. I remember a conversation about church and institutionalisation that U. and G. had a month ago when we were sitting in a coffee shop in Cambridge. It all came back to me when watching this talk as this guy has something very profound to say about the ways things work or no longer work in this world. If I could, I would make all the church leaders out there watch this talk and to seriously think about it. Because I feel that when Mr Shirky says that 'when an institution faces a problem, its goal immediately shifts from the nominal goal to self-preservation', there's no other institution that has fallen in this pit more often than church. Some serious truth in this talk.

If it was up to me, I would make it compulsory for everyone to watch these talks. Starting with my friends, of course. :)


It has taken me a bit less than a week to read the first book of the LOTR trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring. It means that I've spent long hours every day reading it (it is partly responsible for my yesterday's sunburn). It has completely absorbed me, to say the least. I mean, I knew the story, I've seen the movies, but what this book is doing to me right now - it's indescribable. It has been nothing short of a revelation. And I was not ready for it.

It may sound cheap and corny but Frodo's my man. I can relate to him, I can identify myself with him, I can understand him. And his story, his tale is really my story, my tale. It's really me who was awaken from her little sunny life in a remote corner of the world and was given the... well, the Burden, the Calling, the Cross to bear. I've set forth on a journey that is really far far beyond my own capacity and powers. And I'm small, especially these days I feel so very small. And the evil is powerful and getting more powerful yet. The task before me seems almost impossible. But despite all of that there are days of rest and revival on my way - times when I can renew my strength and get new hope. And the fellowship - yes, the fellowship! I, too, have my people, people who keep speaking words of life and encouragement into my heart, people who keep believing in me and in my task, who rekindle the dreams if they start fading. People whose love and support I really haven't deserved. And although I sometimes feel I'm not the right person for the Calling and that I keep falling short over and over again, there's the voice of the Good One, saying (through the words of Gandalf here), "You have some strength in you, my dear hobbit. I think well of you and the others. It is no small feat to have come so far, and through such dangers, still bearing the Ring." And on I go, on and on, day after day. Towards my fate and towards the Zion.

I'm sure some literary critic would shoot me after reading this. I'm not overtly worried about it. What is more important for me is that maybe, just maybe good ole Tolkien wouldn't. Maybe he'd smile, with a spark in his eye. Maybe he, too, has laboured and journeyed on the same Road.


I promised myself I would take things easy when back home, I said I would keep away from obligations and people for the better part of the summer, just relaxing and trying to make some sense of my life again. Well, you can guess who was the girl up and running from early morning, playing the violin and singing and doing some speaking and a lot of socialising in a bigger church gathering in central Estonia... Sigh. Something must be wrong with me. I can't keep my promises.


It's interesting for me to see how differently I relate to my parents after being gone from home for almost three years. Back in the days I took them for granted, like every kid does. I didn't have a conscious image of them as persons, they were just my mom and dad. Now, being back, I realise that things are different. I'm much much more aware of their personalities, their stories, their feelings, they are not just mom and dad, they are people who have managed to live good lives, who have lived out their Christian calling, a couple who has a fulfilling and happy marriage and who has succeeded as parents. They're strong and wise and fun. And I treasure the moments when I can take a walk on the beach with my mom with her trying to convince me not to go swimming alone (lol!) or when I can hear my dad playing the same tune on the piano for a half a day (happened just yesterday) because he needs to get this new piece on the paper for a composition contest. They're actually cool people. :)


I can tell I'm a modern kid because I constantly feel a need to let everyone know where I am and what I'm doing. I'm the Facebook and Twitter generation. And the Blogger generation. Don't get me wrong - I don't have an illusion that everyone wants to know what I do or how I am all the time but I sure have an illusion that there are few people out there who do. Over the past three years I've kept a blog in Estonian just because I was away from my Estonian family and friends. And now I feel it's time for me to share my life and thought and pictures with my English-speaking family (yes, I mean that) and friends who are physically far. So if you feel like you want to check up on me every now and then, feel free to visit my Scrapbook. I'll keep things sweet and short and random. Word.

So the first glorious blog entry goes like this - I arrived in Estonia today. You wouldn't have guessed, I know.