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5. Longing and the need to be accepted

  • Ounasvaara birch. Photo: A. Torvinen

    Ounasvaara birch. Photo: A. Torvinen

5. Longing and the need to be accepted

1 THINK TOGETHER ABOUT WHAT LONGING MEANS

Together, think about what it means to feel longing. Give examples from your own life of when and how you’ve experienced longing. How does longing affect you? How do you deal with longing?


2 READ PART FIVE OF THE OUNASVAARA BIRCH FAIRYTALE

“The winter gale agreed.

‘Out of my way!’ it yelled as it beat the bare arms of the little birch tree.

‘The north is no place for you to bare your arms just because of some new fashion trend,’ said the pine, covered in its thick coat of needles.

The little birch tree heard all of it but didn’t answer. She craned her neck and, between the branches of the conifers, she saw Pöyliövaara Hill where her siblings stood.

‘I wish I could go there,’ she thought to herself.

A spruce sapling heard her sigh. ‘You’ll never get there,’ it said. ‘Us spruces, we can go all the way down to the town and into people’s homes at Christmas, but no one’s going to notice you up here.’

The little birch tree held out her arms and cried bitter tears. The tears streamed down her branches. They came faster and faster, and soon the little birch was soaked and cold.

That night was the first moonlit night of the winter and the wedding of the smallest elf boy and the smallest elf girl. The bride was the youngest and smallest of 365 siblings. That was why her wedding was so late. Her siblings had celebrated theirs in the summer, when the cherry trees and the lilies bloomed.”


3 DRAW YOUR OUTLINE ON THE GROUND OR USE A NEARBY BIRCH TREE

If you cannot draw a person’s outline or a birch tree on the ground, one of you can play the person or birch. You could also gather around a nearby birch tree. Together, think about where different emotions are felt in a person’s body or a birch tree (roots/trunk/branches/leaves), say it out loud and point to the place on the outline or the tree. Think about what colour that emotion is. Take, for example, the emotion of love. You might feel love in your chest, your heart, maybe even your hands. In a birch tree, love could be felt near the top of the trunk, in the roots or in the branches. Love might take the colour red. Start with the emotion of longing and where it’s felt, then take other negative emotions, such as annoyance, hate, grief and anger, and finally move on to positive emotions, such as love and joy.


4 THE LONGING OF THE BIRCH TREE AND EMOTIONS

Everyone start by doing the stages of the birch tree’s growth (seed – roots – trunk – branches – leaves). Next, everyone think about the emotion of longing and what the birch tree longs for, then express the birch tree’s longing through yourself. Then, think about another emotion, such as fear, and consider what the birch tree is afraid of and express that feeling. Then move on to the next emotion, such as joy. Think about what makes your birch tree feel joy and express that feeling. Each of you should think about the birch tree’s emotions independently at the same time. You can either have the leader of the group choose the emotions, or you can choose them together. Then, everyone takes a moment to think about why the birch is feeling this emotion. The leader of the group decides when everyone has had enough time, and then everyone expresses the emotions of their birch tree together. You can repeat this as many times as you want. Alternatively, everyone can present the emotions of the birch as a group or those who want to do so can present them to the rest of the group. After expressing your birch tree’s emotions, you can also optionally explain why it felt the way it did. When moving on to a new emotion, everyone should straighten up to a fully grown birch. You do not need to repeat the growing stages. Simply think about why your birch tree feels that particular emotion and then express it in the character of the tree.


5 THE SOUNDS OF THE BIRCH TREE’S LONGING AND JOY

Together, make sounds that represent the birch tree’s longing by using your mouth and natural materials you find around you. Then, make sounds that represent the birch tree’s joy. Think about how the sounds that represent longing differ from the sounds that represent joy.


6 THE SAD BIRCH, HOW TO DEAL WITH GRIEF AND WHAT OTHERS CAN DO TO HELP

One person plays the part of the sad birch. Everyone else plays the part of pine trees who are verbally and physically comforting the birch. The pine trees can tell an imaginary story about their own experiences to comfort the birch. At the end, the pines are successful, and the birch is no longer sad.


7 I WANT TO BE HEARD

Either split up into pairs (one whisperer and one listener) or have one person play the whisperer and everyone else be the listeners. The whisperer whispers something positive about themselves, either a skill or a characteristic, such as “I can ride a bike” or “I am an honest person”. Repeat the phrase, starting off by whispering it as softly as you can and gradually saying it louder and louder until the listener hears what you are saying. Once the listener hears the phrase, they repeat it back. If the listener does not hear the phrase or repeats it back incorrectly, the whisperer repeats it again. Keep going until the listener repeats the phrase back word for word.

The whisperer should give the listener a moment to repeat the phrase back before whispering it again a little louder. Once the listener hears the whisper clearly and repeats the phrase back word for word, the whisperer and listener swap roles. Repeat this until both people have said 2–4 positive things about themselves.

8 ACCEPTING AND SEEING OTHERS BY MIRRORING THEM

Split up into pairs, with one person playing the role of the mirror by mimicking what the other person does. Start with slow, easy movements, such as raising your hand and laying it on top of your stomach. The mirror tries to repeat whatever the other person does as closely as possible. Once the mirror can easily reflect the other person’s movements, you can increase the difficulty by making quicker and more complicated movements. It is important to maintain a connection with the mirror, so don’t raise the difficulty too quickly. Next, swap roles: The person being mirrored becomes the mirror and vice versa. If you want, you can also make noises that the mirror has to try and repeat.


9 HUG. HOW DOES IT FEEL?

Split up into pairs. Each pair finds a birch that looks weak, small or unwell. First, each person hugs the birch separately, then both hug it at the same time. What do you think this feels like for the birch? Next, the pairs hug each other. Finally, everyone in the group comes together for a group hug.


10 PLAY FOLLOW THE LEADER

Take turns playing the leader. As the leader, everyone else follows your lead. Follow the leader is all about succeeding together, the joy of play and having fun. For example, you can pretend you’re carrying a heavy boulder from one place to another. When you succeed, congratulate each other on the feat you’ve just accomplished. Pat yourself on the knees, stomach, legs or head. Everyone follows the leader’s lead and everyone has fun. The leader can joke around, make funny faces and movements, and everyone else tries to copy them. You can include speaking, making noises, dancing, movements and anything fun. Each player ends their turn as the leader by hugging a birch or a pine, and everyone else follows along.


11 READ THE END OF PART FIVE OF THE OUNASVAARA BIRCH FAIRYTALE AGAIN

That night was the first moonlit night of the winter and the wedding of the smallest elf boy and the smallest elf girl. The bride was the youngest and smallest of 365 siblings. That was why her wedding was so late. Her siblings had celebrated theirs in the summer, when the cherry trees and the lilies bloomed.


12 FINALLY

Discuss how the Ounasvaara Birch fairytale might end. Make guesses together.


Fairytale activity suggestions by Mika Harjumaa.


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