Monthly Archives May 2018

Freakonomics (book 10 of 26)

Freakonomics (book 10 of 26)

May 20, 2018
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FreakonomicsFreakonomics – A rogue economist explains the hidden side of everything, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. I like this book. It’s fun, provocative, asks some super-odd questions that I’d never have come up with myself, and generally makes my mind bend in new and intriguing ways. Levitt (the economist in the pair, Dubner is the writer) certainly has made some significant inroads to what he himself sees as a shortage in the field of economics: As Levitt sees it, economics is a science with excellent tools for gaining answers but a serious shortage of interesting questions. 

While crunching data to get at the answer to the query of what schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common, data from Chicago was used, resulting in this mind boggling statement: An analysis of the entire Chicago data reveals evidence of teacher cheating in more than two hundred classrooms per year, roughly 5 percent of the total. This is followed up with an in-depth account of ways teachers cheat (in standardized testing), and how the data set available can show this. Quite amazing, I must say. Fortunately, the algorithms used to crunch the data also revealed the best teachers in Chicago. The analysis was used, the worst of the cheating teachers were sacked, and the best teachers were rewarded.

Another thing Steven and Stephen make very clear, is the difference between correlation and causality, the former being a statistical term that indicate whether two variables move together or not, whereas causality proves cause (x can cause y; y can cause x; or some other factor is causing both x and y). The chapter on What makes a perfect parent give ample evidence to how conventional wisdom is not necessarily true. For instance, everyone knows that parents should read to their kids, right? The more, the better. Well. No. It actually doesn’t matter that much, as there is no direct causality between reading to one’s kid every day and his/her school grades and success further on in adulthood.

Huh! Who would have known? Not me, that’s fore sure. I have most definitely bought into the conventional wisdom (is the modern name for it alternative fact?!) that parents must read aloud to kids, and since I’ve always been really bad at that, there’s been this little nagging thought, that I should have read more, I must be such a bad mother, have I condemned my kids to eternal failure…

An enjoyable read, humorous, odd-ball, giving me insights into things I’ve simply never ever considered before, I mean, these are the questions (and hence, chapters) of the book:
What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?
How is the Ku Klux Klan like a group of real-estate agents?
Why do drug dealers still live with their moms?
Where have all the criminals gone?
What makes a perfect parent?
Perfect parenting, part II; or:Would a Roshanda by any other name smell as sweet?

So yes, quite possibly the result of me reading this book will be just what Steven and Stephen hope for: The most likely result of having read this book is a simple one: you may find yourself asking a lot of questions. Many of them will lead to nothing. But some will produce answers that are interesting, even surprising. 


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

 

 

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Sources of joy

May 16, 2018
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Sources of joyThe GIFTED book club.
Choir practice.
An evening of playing cards with my eldest.
Deeply immersed in a book that is riveting in one way or another.
Knitting!
Recording my upcoming podcast.
Receiving feedback from a participant in the pre-school-staff programme me and Pernilla have been running for a year, bringing tears to my eyes as I read about life-changing experiences.
Laughing with a friend.
Feeling the strength of my body as it takes me back and forth across town on my bike.
Slowly tilting my face up towards the sun, feeling the warmth of it, after months of cold weather.
The butterfly flitting around in my flowering garden.

You know what?
I could write and write and write here, boring you all to bits, because there’s so much joy to be found. Everywhere! I mean – truly!

God.
I’ve gone all Pollyanna here, haven’t I?

I mean… who would have thought I’d ever be able to state, emphatically, that I find sources of joy in things such as folding dry laundry, boiling some water and pouring it in a cup with a few leaves from the garden (walnut, back currant, raspberry and a moroccan mint-leaf), pouring a large glass of green smoothie and plonking myself down with it on the stairs to the garden to drink it while reading the morning paper, receiving a surprise postcard from a friend and colleague from a spur-of-the-moment visit to New York and any number of small and seemingly insignificant events, activities and interactions.

Well. This is the way it is. Most of the time. Not always, of course not always, but surprisingly often, I don’t see ”drab everyday life”. I see sparkles and magic, experience gratefulness and joy; so if you want to, feel free to call me Pollyanna.

Do you have any sources of joy that are a surprise to you, as you start to reflect upon the concept?

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A world of chance

May 15, 2018
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The-questions-echoed-in-my-head-without-answerIn a world of chance, is there a better and a worse? We yield to a stranger’s embrace or give ourselves to the waves; for the blink of an eyelid our vigilance relaxes, we are asleep; and when we awake, we have lost the direction of our lives. What are these blinks of an eyelid, against which the only defense is an eternal and inhuman wakefulness? Might they not be the cracks and chinks through which another voice, other voices, speak in our lives? By what right to we close our eyes to them? The questions echoed in my head without answer.

A paragraph from Foe, a book written by J. M. Coetzee. A book I read for The Gifted Book Club, chosen by Mr D. As I finished reading it, I wrote thisIt’s so interesting to read a book chosen by someone else (this is the book for my upcoming book club), a book I would not have picked up on my own volition. That in itself is a gift – to get to read a text written in a way that “most books I read isn’t written in”. Because it is an odd book, that’s for sure. I spent a few pleasant hours reading it last night.

What’s even more fascinating is that after, or honestly, during our conversation about the book that March evening, I felt a strong urge to reread it. To see if next time around, I would spot some of the things we talked about, things that deeply affected one or two of the other book club members, things which I didn’t pick up on at all, but definitely spark my curiosity.

That in itself is a gift – how our talk made me want to read the book again, with a different lens on. Or possibly two or three different lenses, besides my own. How wonderful: I look forward to it already!


Inspired to continue blogging on the theme from the #blogg100-challenge in 2017 I give you:
The book ”Foe” by J. M. Coetzee, which also happen to be the fourth book of The Gifted Book club, discussed March 21st 2018.

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Podcasts recorded!

May 14, 2018
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Got myself all set up, outside, with all the gear arranged around me. Time to start. To record my first podcast-series. A series on Doing gentle, using the specific Doing gentle-posts as well as more general reflections, all presented as short episodes. I think. (Who know’s once I get further along in the process…)

PoddingMy gear? Nope. At a friend’s place – a friend with three decades worth of radio experience – using his gear, and with expert guidance at that. He’ll slowly “break me in”, having me learn more and more as we go along, but initially, just prompting me on how to sit, how to talk, where to direct my voice and such. And yes – we assembled it all outside at that!

Once I got started, he left me to my own devices. Had so much fun reading my posts – and you know what? Some of them are really good. It’s interesting to read them out loud, something completely different to reading them silently. I hear what I don’t see, and they come across as something slightly different. I like it. It’s like discovering them all over again, these posts from two years hence.

Next step has me listening to the recordings, making notations of what to keep and what to cut away. After that it’s time to find some sounds, intro/outro and possibly an ambient sound theme in the background as well… So much to learn!

In other words, it will be some time yet before this is available “where you normally find your podcasts”, but good things come to those who wait, or so I am told.

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Magic trick?

May 12, 2018
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As I reflect on recent weeks, it hit’s me, hard: I’ve gotten really good at being gentle towards myself. This ”quest” of mine, that I’ve worked at for so long. It all started right before my first child was born, when me and my then husband split up. I wasn’t aware that what I was aiming for was the concept of being gentle towards myself, but in hindsight, it was. The time I didn’t have cash in hand to pay for a therapy session some six or seven years later was my first conscious experience that I actually did have a choice. That I could be gentler with myself, than was my habit (since forever…).

Now. In situations I’d previously label ”difficult”, it’s as if I see what’s the core issue, and I go straight for it, rather than get lost in the potential drama and upset;which, don’t get me wrong, isn’t ”wrong”. It simply doesn’t do anything for me anymore. It does not serve me, or the situation at hand. At all.

And no. Of course this isn’t my demeanor 100% of the time when it would be prudent. But more and more. And each time, I learn, and so, chances are I will respond wiser, more discerning (new favorite word!), based on what serves – not just me, but all involved! – the situation best.

The magic trick!Another typical situation, which also has me coming to this conclusion, is when I’m in conversation with friends and loved ones, them sharing their inner turmoil with me; how their inner dialogue is both harsh and judgmental, making me see, again and again, that my inner dictators truly have left the building. And what a difference it makes. As I told myself the other day in a morning walking meditation ending up with five minutes of personal pep talk, ”It’s wonderful to be Helena today, so much nicer than just a few years ago!”. It really is, making it much easier for me to continue with a gentle and loving acceptance of myself (and as a fantastic bonus: of everyone around me as well!).

So. Is it the combo, then? The ”doing gentle” hooking up with discernment (best question ever: How is this serving me/the situation? Is it?) – is that the magic trick?

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Shame.

May 10, 2018
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Shame.

Hm.

Silence within.

Where to start? What do I want to communicate? What do I really feel after the 75 minute long session on Shame?

Held.
Seen.
Heard.
Acknowledged.

You did it well, long-distance and all. As if you were in the same room, the distance between Malmö-Stockholm annihilated by the SKYPE-connection that gave me your voice into my ears, straight into my head, into my body. When I closed my eyes, it was as if you held me, which you really did, with the help of the sofa I sat in.

I honor myself, and my choice to reach out to you, to start – in a pace dictated solely by the urgings of my Self – to deal with this that has been long forgotten, deeply hidden away; that which I have yet to shine a light on. A good start today, a start that did me good, and felt nice.

During the session thought upon thought was born, associations to various events throughout my life, memories slowly floating up to the surface, connections made – that I had never before seen – that docked into one another like a well-oiled mechanical machinery.

Went for a walk afterwards – just took off, letting the energy stream continue to flow; walked barefoot, threading softly on grassy lawns and pebbled pathways, earthing myself. Landed. Breathed in and let come. And more than that, breathed out and let go.

I can see how I did the best I could, under the circumstances. Clever was your word for it. Yes, I dealt with it in a clever way! But not just me. Others did the best they could, given their circumstances; they also acted clever, based on their perspective, needs, defense mechanisms and abilities.

I can see that too, and with tenderness I gaze into history, at both myself and the others. Not judging. That doesn’t serve me. Knowing there is a chance – in due time. I’m in no rush. This can take as little or as long time as it needs to – to let go, to let the ball dissolve, in the same way that I, with patience and calm untangle skeins of yarn that have become horribly entangled. I am good at untangling knots others believe were impossible to untangle, and that’s what will happen here as well. Only – without any demands for achievement. No deadline. No explicit goal.

And above all else, I do this for me. In my way. For my wellbeing.
Not controlled, not according to a fixed (time) plan. No. What will happen will happen, because it’s what wants to happen, in the moment. Not what I want to happen, definitely not what someone else wants to – or feels should – happen. But what wants to happen.

That’s where I exhale and let go – and enjoy the moment of Now!

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Judgment vs discernment

May 7, 2018
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With curiosity and a wish for more, Tess picked up on the distinction between judgment and discernment in the post on Intuitive living, and I can only agree: it is a distinction which piqued my curiosity as well.

Discernment-is-an-important-skill-to-develop“You may have notices that we have never discussed forgiveness. Forgiveness is not a concept of the All. Forgiveness implies judgment. Forgiveness implies right and wrong. Your Western culture and religions have created the concepts of sin and forgiveness as a way of controlling people’s minds. Judgment was created in this way. (You must understand judgment as being different from discernment. Discernment is an important skill to develop.) There is no place for judgment. The concepts of sin and forgiveness and redemption are not concepts borne out of Love. Love is within each one of you, bestowing mercy upon you in each moment of your existence.” [As voiced by Spirit.]

Judgment is a concept I am very familiar with. I have judged others, but more than that, I have judged myself. Over and over again. And harshly, at that. For me, judgment is centered around right and wrong. I judge you as being wrong – and instantly I place myself on the rung above you, because I know the difference, I know what’s wrong, and what’s right, and you are failing, miserably. And the same goes for myself, even though it’s an internal hierarchical set-up enabling me some how to place myself above myself.

I’ve let go of my default setting to judge, something which I know my surroundings also pick up on. In the words of a friend who’s known me for thirty plus years: “You used to be so black and white, Helena, but nowadays you reside in the grey shades in-between; you always see both sides of a situation, and are not prone to judge either side as right or wrong”, which I took as a great compliment.

I haven’t really given any thought whatsoever – consciously at least – to the concept of discernment, but I do find it intriguing. It does go hand in hand with my favorite saying though, that being: How does this serve me/you? That’s discernment for me, now that I think of it.

To discern (According to my Apple Thesaurus: perceivemake outpick outdetectrecognizenoticeobserveseespotidentifydeterminedistinguishdifferentiatediscriminatetell apartbecome cognizant ofbecome aware ofbecome conscious of) what works right now, and what doesn’t. What will further my path ahead, and what will not. What will serve me – or not. That, for me, is discernment.

And I can be very clear when I communicate from my place of discernment. I don’t have to be wishy-washy (Thesaurus again: feebleineffectualweakvapidmilk-and-watereffetespinelesslimplimp-wristednamby-pambyhalf-heartedspiritlessirresoluteindecisiveinformal wetpatheticweak-kneedBrit. informal half-arsed. Love that last one!) about it at all, I can stand very firm in what serves me or not.

Just because I don’t go for judging a situation any more, whatever it is, doesn’t mean I cannot make my meaning, my belief, my understanding, my needs even, heard. On the contrary. I can do just that but I come from a context of non-judgment, which to my experience, makes it so much easier for the people in my surrounding to accept whatever it is I am asking or pointing out. And this I think is the clue: I am not saying “I am right, you are wrong, and anyone who’s wrong is inherently bad!“. I am saying “This is what I need right now. You might need something other than me, which is fine. I respect your needs, and you respect mine, and we’ll deal with the consequences. Together.

Thank you Tess for asking me to expand on the concepts of judgment vs discernment – this has been most helpful. I feel elated to have discovered that my default setting of today (since letting go of judgment) of asking how this serves me, is an excellent guide in helping me be more discerning in life.

And by the way – as I look in the Thesaurus, judgment is a word that pops up to define discernment, so I cannot say that my understanding of these two concepts and how they relate to one another is accurate. For you, that is. Because it certainly holds true for me.

 

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Intuitive living: A sacred path (book 9 of 26)

May 6, 2018
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Personal dedicationI don’t even remember when I bought Intuitive living: A sacred path by (and directly from) Alan Seale, but it’s been at least five years I’d wager. I know I have bought it from Alan in person though at CoachWalk Academy, as he’s written a lovely dedication to me in it.

Anyway. So I chose this book, one I’ve had in my possession for years on end, and almost laugh at the synchronicity of it: this was definitely the right moment for me to read this book. Now, as I sit here blogging about it, I flick through the pages, and there are so many passages I’ve highlighted – passages that speak to me, that encourage me, that validate beliefs and concepts that I use as a coach and trainer, but also stuff that I have never thought about, and – a few times – stuff I’m not altogether certain if I agree with – that I just pick a few in random to share here: “Freedom and peace are inner states of being. Peace is not the absence of conflict, but rather your response to conflict. Being free and at peace means knowing without doubt that no matter what is happening around you, nothing can harm you at your center.”

“Being rigid in our beliefs and harsh in our judgments only leads to inflexibility in life. This makes any kind of adjustment to situations and conditions all the more difficult.”

“You may have notices that we have never discussed forgiveness. Forgiveness is not a concept of the All. Forgiveness implies judgment. Forgiveness implies right and wrong. Your Western culture and religions have created the concepts of sin and forgiveness as a way of controlling people’s minds. Judgment was created in this way. (You must understand judgment as being different from discernment. Discernment is an important skill to develop.) There is no place for judgment. The concepts of sin and forgiveness and redemption are not concepts borne out of Love. Love is within each one of you, bestowing mercy upon you in each moment of your existence.” [As voiced by Spirit.]

“Develop your craft. Take the journey. Light the light. Dance the dance. Be Love.”

There are plenty of exercises in this book, that I intend to try out, and I already know this to be a book I will revisit, likely more than once. (And isn’t that the best feeling? It’s a bit like making a new best friend!)

The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

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