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Meditations (book 13 of 26)

Meditations (book 13 of 26)

July 1, 2018
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MeditationsMeditations. Written by Marcus Aurelius. Not intended to be published as a book (containing a total of 12 books or sections, presumably written at different times in his latter life.), at all. Rather this is something he wrote to himself, of for himself, seemingly daily musings.

Treat with respect the power you have to form an opinion. By it alone can the helmsman within you avoid forming opinions that are at variance with nature and with the constitution of a reasonable being. From it you may look to attain circumspection, good relations with your fellow-men, and conformity with the will of heaven. Book 3, #9

Put from you the belief that “I have been wronged”, and with it will go the feeling. Reject your sense of injury, and the injury itself disappears. Book 4, #7

Once dismiss the view you take, and you are out of danger. Who, then, is hindering such dismissal? Book 12, #25

Several things strike me as I read it, the first is how non-foreign it seems. I mean, this is a book of daily musings written about two thousand years ago, and yet, it doesn’t feel that foreign to me, even though on the surface me and Marcus certainly doesn’t have a lot in common. And yet, many of these musings are ones I’ve entertained myself.

Think it no shame to be helped. Your business is to do your appointed duty, like a soldier in the breach. How, then, if you are lame, and unable to scale the battlements yourself, but could do it if you had the aid of a comrade? Book 7, #7

The second thing is the emphasis on self – not in a self-centered and egotistical manner, but rather: don’t point a finger at anyone else, whatever they might have done or not done, is really not for you to judge. At least, that’s how I interpret it.

When men are inhuman, take care not to feel towards them as they do towards other humans. Book 7, #65

Thirdly, the focus on love and unity, how we are all one, part of a greater whole (even though, looking at when he wrote this, and what he was doing at the time, being emperor of the Roman Empire, this certainly must have been fairly “filtered” in his understanding, to those of similar standing and heritage/nationality).

Would you wish for the praise of one who thrice and hour calls down curses on his own head? Would you please one who cannot even please himself? And how can a man be pleased with himself, when he repents of well-nigh everything he does? Book 8, #54

I like it though, this book. And in my view, it proved one of the most interesting GIFTED book club conversations we’ve had, at that. The book was my choice, and I wisely chose it for this specific week, knowing I could blog about it with the book fresh in my mind.

Today I have gotten myself out of all my perplexities; or rather, I have got the perplexities out of myself – for they were not without, but within; they lay in my own outlook. Book 9, #13

The quotes I’ve chosen here ring true for me. There are a lot of them that I have a hard time understanding though, or downright disagree with. I might blog about them as well, but for now, you’ve have to suffice with these few that I found great pleasure in.

Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one. Book 10, #16


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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Daring Greatly (book 12 of 26)

June 17, 2018
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“When we stop caring about what other people think, we lose our capacity for connection. When we become defined by what people think, we lose our willingness to be vulnerable. If we dismiss all the criticism, we lose out on important feedback, but if we subject ourselves to the hatefulness, our spirits get crushed. It’s a tightrope, shame resilience is the balance bar, and the safety new below is the one or two people in our lives who can help us reality-check the criticism and cynicism.”

Daring Greatly, subtitled How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead, is a book by Brené Brown, shame- and vulnerability-researcher, made famous by her TEDxHouston Talk, which is well worth a look if you’ve yet to see it.

The-gap-starts-here-We-can-t-give-people-what-we“Here’s the question: We don’t intentionally create cultures in our families, schools, communities, and organizations that fuel disengagement and disconnection, so how does it happen? Where’s the gap?

The gap starts here: We can’t give people what we don’t have. Who we are matters immeasurably more than what we know or who we want to be.

This is the first of her books that I’m reading in English, which I strongly recommend, compared to the lousy translation to Swedish of one of her earlier works that I suffered through a while back. Daring Greatly is an easy read, and there’s loads of stuff within it to think about, to try out, to discuss with family, friends and colleagues, for sure. All the while, having listened to her in numerous pod’s, it’s as if I already know most of this.

“Minding the gap is a daring strategy. We have to pay attention to the space between where we’re actually standing and where we want to be. More importantly, we have to practice the values that we’re holding out as important in our culture.”

There were a few tender moments while reading though, centering on recent events, making me cringe a bit…. knowing I’ve n o t been vulnerable enough, knowing full well that I am trying to skirt the issues at hand. Grateful for the reminder, most definitely, and getting ready to shed my armor.

“Giving and soliciting feedback is about learning and growth, and understanding who we are and how we respond to the people around us is the foundation in this process.”

Voicing my discomfort, to someone in a position to help me reality-check the feedback, as well as help me through it (not around, not away from: through!), certainly is one of the best ways for me to keep me on a road of expansion, or growth, of a deepening understanding and knowing of who I am, and how I am. Voicing my discomfort, the shame and fear and disgust and confusion, makes it all real, bringing it outside of the dark recesses of my brain, where it would otherwise – perhaps – be lurking around for ages, doing no one any good. Better to bring it out into the light to see what it’s actually about. Starting to dance with it, sooner or later I know I will have learned new dance moves, that will help me as I dance along in life.


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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Educated. A must-read.

May 25, 2018
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A few months ago, my brother sent me a podcast tip, of Tara Westover in conversation on Talking politics. I listened, intrigued and curious after reading this blurb:
David talks to Tara Westover about her incredible new book Educated, which tells the story of how a girl brought up by survivalists in Idaho and who never went to school ended up with a PhD from Cambridge.  Along the way we discuss what education means and what Tara’s journey has taught her about politics and about life.  Really, this is a conversation about the important stuff.

I searched for the book in my local library database, didn’t find it, and sent in a purchase request. As often happens, the library got the book, and sent me an email saying I could come pick it up. I did. And didn’t start to read, busy busy, with all the other books I’ve been reading (this being the 38th book I’ve read so far this year). Got another email from the library, saying I had to return it – managed to extend my loan, and still didn’t start to read, busy busy… Third email dropped into my inbox, saying the book was due back again. Tried to repeat my action to extend my loan, but alas, someone else has requested the book, due back this past Monday.

EducatedSo… I immediately returned it? No. Despicable me did not return it, but rather, finally got around to reading it! I just finished it, and I promise I will return it to the library come Monday, cross my heart and hope to die. And boy. What a book. What a story. I am very glad I took the time to read it.

Educated is…
impressive.
haunting.
hard to wrap my head around.
and a definite must-read!

During a visit to Cambridge in the UK; Tara get’s to walk atop the chapel of King’s College (it’s beautiful!), and walks up there, amazed at the sights. Her fellow students and the professor accompanying them, stays close to the walls, walking slowly and crab-like, afraid to fall to the ground. Tara doesn’t, and the professor points it out to her, asking how come she’s comfortable way up high on this roof.

“I can stand in this wind, because I’m not trying to stand in it,” I said. “The wind is just wind. You could withstand these gusts on the ground, so you can withstand them in the air. There is no difference. Except the difference you make in your head.”
He stared at me blankly. He hadn’t understood.
“I’m just standing,” I said. “You are all trying to compensate, to get your bodies lower because the height scares you. But the crouching and the sidestepping is not natural. You’ve made yourselves vulnerable. If you could just control your panic, this wind would be nothing.”
“The way it is nothing to you,” he said.

I’ve never actually thought about it, but she’s right. Why would it be harder to walk atop that roof, than down on the street below? Why is it harder to walk along a plank laid across a creek, that it is to walk across the kitchen floor? There is really not much of a difference, except the difference you make in your head. And once again, I am pointed back to the truth of how our thinking creates our experience of the world, in each and every moment.


Inspired to continue blogging on the theme from the #blogg100-challenge in 2017 I give you:
The book ”Educated” by Tara Westover

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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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Wealth Warrior: The Personal Prosperity Revolution (book 5 of 26)

March 11, 2018
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Wealth warriorHaving met Steve Chandler as well as having listened to many of his audios (one of which, the one on Expectations vs Agreement has made a huge difference in my life!), Wealth Warrior: The Personal Prosperity Revolution reads in my mind the way he talks; this is Steve, straight up. And I really enjoy it.

Great literature this is not – but it sure is a great book! It’s easy to read, I get to laugh and smile quite often, and all the while, there’s this really important message sent, that I for one definitely receive: ACT. Or to quote the author himself: The transformation is in the actions you take. 

As I read, I see that to a large part, I do what Steve does. I use me. I am the tool I use, my experiences, my insights, my struggles, fears, stumbling blocks and aha-moments. All of what I am, all that I have been through, that’s what I use, when I am in service (the concept all of Steve Chandler‘s work centers around, service in his view being all about helping someone else, assisting another person, and delivering actual value). Steve does the same. And he is so generous, doesn’t hold back at all, neither in his books, audios or at trainings. He gives freely of himself, the up’s and the down’s, the pro’s and the con’s. And in doing that, he is gifting us all the act of being human, because that is the spectrum that the human experience span – from the high’s to the low’s, from us being at our very worst, to our very best. All of it. To me, that is inspiring. It’s also something I’ve gotten much better at enjoying – I mean: all of life, and truly, all of it. From the part that has me sobbing my heart out, to the part that has me laughing so hard I almost wet my pants. All. Of. It.

And one of the things that has enabled me to use myself and my experiences this way, is my transformed relationship to change. Generally speaking, it’s no longer something I shy away from, rather the opposite. Steve writes:
All change occurs outside your comfort zone.
This is true physically, mentally, spiritually and financially. No change can occur inside your comfort zone.
Push your body past the weight it is comfortable lifting and it will grow stronger. Push your self past its own comfort zone and you will grow stronger.

Mentally and spiritually, stepping outside of my comfort zone is something that I do. Regularly. Physically, well, more and more. I mean, hey, I did the running race in the fall, have started to run every week, as well as doing my daily Seven for no less than three and a half years in a row (!). Challenging myself physically is definitely on my this-I-want-to-do-more-of-list, so what about financial challenges? Well. I am on it, that’s for sure. Divorce is almost finalize now, and of course that has a financial impact. So it’s definitely something I am looking into seriously at the moment – taking great care not to do “serious as in no laughs” but rather “serious as in scheduling time to dig down deep and doing the math”.

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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Creating tomorrow’s schools today (book 2 of 26)

January 28, 2018
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First time I met Richard Gerver he attended an ENTRIS-conference in Sweden, in 2013. Almost five years ago – time sure does fly by when one’s having a lot of fun! I started talking to him during one of the breaks, and then we continued the conversation over email. He also guest blogged for #skolvåren (aka school spring), a movement initiated by me and a few others on Twitter a few month before I met Gerver.

Susanne, Ann, Richard, yours truly and Therese, Oct 27th, 2014.

Susanne, Ann, Richard, yours truly and Therese, in Huddinge, in October, 2014.

A year and a half later I met up with him again, as he was talking at a conference hosted by the schools in Huddinge outside Stockholm. Four fifths of the #skolvåren back office attended and got a nice chat with Richard as you can see in the accompanying wefie.

Around that time, in 2013-14, I also bought two books written by him, but never got around to reading either of them, until now, that is. I tackled Creating tomorrow’s schools today as the second English book-I-already-own-but-haven’t-yet-read. I have a copy published in 2012, although the book was first released in 2010. And it is a bit dated, with references to Second Life as well as the hope installed in the US and the world by Barack Obama in his first term as President. That just feels a bit… well… outdated, there’s no other word for it really.

Disregarding that though, I did enjoy the read, especially the second part which tells the tale of the transformation of Grange Primary School – a very inspiring read I must say! There’s a lot I can say about the educational systems around the world, but one of the things I strongly believe in is the need for more diversity. It’s impossible to create one type of learning environment that will suit everyone. I just don’t believe in it. And in the diversity of educational settings that I envision (including both home and un-schooling), what was created (and is alive and kicking still today!) at Grange Primary School certainly fits the bill as well.

Or in the words of Richard Gerver:
“Up to now we have educated all children with one model, with one set of values and for one perceived purpose; that education is the answer. It can only be the answer if we understand that we are living in a different world and that the education on offer needs to meet the needs of the diversity of society. To do that we must stop believing that education is something that must be done to children and that one size will fit all. We must do more to value children, their cultures and their backgrounds.” (page 17)

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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The Icarus Deception (book 1 of 26)

January 14, 2018
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The first English book in my reading challenge of 2018 is The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin, a book he actually gave me himself, signed, sealed, delivered. I went to #SethinLondon in 2015 (Boy, times sure flies, can you imagine it’s been 2+ years already Michael?) and got two books to bring home.

My dear friend Michael Sillion, Seth himself, and yours truly at #SethinLondon, November 2015

My dear friend Michael Sillion, Seth himself, and yours truly at #SethinLondon, November 2015

Now, the book is… Seth. That’s one of his most prominent features I must say, having read his blog for years on end, listened to a number of podcasts with/by him, and having read a few books as well; he is Seth, where ever he is, whatever medium he’s coming across. He speaks the way he writes, and he writes the way he speaks.

And I love it. I am totally fascinated by the way this man’s brain operates, how he can see things that I am blind to, and how he shares it all – generously, and with such great warmth. I was totally star-struck upon meeting him, and he “brought me down” (or rather, brought himself down by being absolutely human, in the best possible manner!) in the most gentle fashion, asking my name, making small talk in a way that took away my anxiety, leaving only a great feeling behind.

The Icarus Deception is no exception – it’s Seth. His style of writing, his style of pointing out the would-be-obvious stuff that I (and you?) just miss, don’t even give a passing thought to – but which, when he put’s the magnifying glass upon it, I realize has immense value.

Sure – it’s filled with sentences that are very “quotable”, short, snazzy, to the point, and packing quite a lot of punch, a bunch of them. And I guess some people might not be into that. But for me it works. And I can see how being drip-fed “Seth-isms” for ten (or more likely fifteen?) years or so, has made a huge impact in my life.

Am I doing more art (he’s very particular about art!) now? Yes.

And I being more vulnerable, and sharing my art? Yes.

Do I constantly expand my comfort and safety zones, by putting myself on the edge? Yes. That’s what I am doing at the moment, holding a 9-day course in a subject that is far from “my home base”. Is it scary? You bet, but do I let fear stop me, from putting my stuff out there? No, except sometimes, so the better answer is: less and less. Or as Seth expresses it:
For the first time in history, most of us have the chance to decide what to do next, what to make, how to deliver it. Most of us won’t take that chance, but it’s there.

Take the chance!

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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Will you tell me?

December 15, 2017
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As I read page after page of Humble inquiry by Edgar H. Schein, I am guessing a bystander would have wondered what I was up to, with all that humming and hawing. Humming from recognition and having flashbacks to my own experiences, hawing from making mental notes of and agreeing with great aspects of humble inquiry.

Then I got to a question, that made me stop. Reflect. Ponder.

Making yourself vulnerable will elicit a more personal conversation, and through successive rounds of asking, telling, and acknowledging, trust and openness will build to the point where you can ask the difficult question, ”If I am about to make a mistake, will you tell me?”. You can then assess whether you have achieved the climate of psychological safety in which all of you will help each other and communicate openly. If it still feels uncomfortable, you can humbly ask, ”What do we need to do differently to get to that point of perpetual, mutual help?”.

Have I ever been humble enough to ask? Have I ever been humble enough to listen if someone told me I this?
Where have I ever been, that have a culture inductive to making such an ask? Have I?

humble inquiry

(And yes, I have. But not in as many places and/or relationships as I would like to – so there’s room for improvement.)

Inspired to continue blogging on the theme from the #blogg100-challenge in 2017 I give you:
The book ”Humble inquiry” by Edgar H. Schein.

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Symbols of loyalty

October 2, 2017
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“You might one day be offered the opportunity to display symbols of loyalty. Make sure that such symbols include your fellow citizens rather than exclude them.”

Timothy Snyder puts his finger on something that I’ve not been able to pinpoint before, but with this sentence the significance of symbols of loyalty becomes very clear. The chapter title reads Take responsibility for the face of the world, and he continues:

The symbols of today enable the reality of tomorrow. Notice the swastikas and the other signs of hate. Do not look away, and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.

It is so easy to set standards of Us and Them, to separate, distinguish, exclude. It doesn’t take much at all. To some extent, I think it comes naturally for us (as a species); but that doesn’t negate the individual responsibility I have, to be observant of myself, to notice when I do exclude, when I divide the world into good and bad guys, into Us and Them. Because me noticing, and gently nudging myself towards unity, inclusion, connection, makes my life so much lovelier to live, truth be told. And I think that makes your life lovelier as well. That’s me taking responsibility for the face of the world.

Inspired to continue blogging on the theme from the #blogg100-challenge in 2017 I give you: The book ”On tyranny: Twenty lessons from the twentieth century” by Timothy Snyder, which also happen to be the first book of The Gifted Book club, having the first meeting come October 4th 2017.

 

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I’m an Upholder. You?

September 24, 2017
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Listening to Jonathan Fields in conversation with his longtime friend Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project if you’ve read that book? I have. Enjoyed it. This conversation centers around The four tendencies, something which Gretchen apparently touched on in one of her earlier books, and then dove deeper into, making it the topic for her current book The four tendencies, a book I most definitely want to read after listening to this podcast.

The four tendencies centers on how we, as human beings, relate to inner and outer expectations – being prone to or resisting one or the other. The four tendencies are given names; Upholder, Obliger, Questioner, Rebel. More than 800 000 people have taken Gretchens simple online test to get a feel for ones own core tendency, and I turned out to be an Upholder. Not surprising, just from the podcast itself I felt the most connected to this tendency, and the online test confirmed it.

As I listen to the podcast (over and over again), clarity arises.

Clarity in why I am good at keeping promises to myself (such as meditating every morning and doing my daily Seven, such as promising myself to practice the guitar for twenty minutes a day for sixty days, and following through) but also towards others (meeting deadlines, keeping promises, getting the job done).

Clarity in why some people struggle with things that come naturally to me, because I can see other tendencies in them, giving me a greater understanding in what makes them tick, one way or another, which might make me become a better coach, mother, business partner and friend in the future.

Clarity as to how the assignment “to make people better at motivating others” isn’t about what works for me, but rather about the four ways there are to have people gain the most traction from their own inner driving forces. A Upholder meets both inner and outer expectations. For a Questioner understanding why is central making them meet their own inner expecations. The Obliger struggles and fails to meet inner expectations but readily meets outer ones. And at last the Rebel, resisting both outer and inner expectations, which to me sounds really tricky. I mean, what remains then? Spur of the moment, I guess?

Four tendencies

If we all knew our own tendencies, and had sufficient knowledge about the other three, for sure that would make a huge difference in any setting we find ourselves in. At school, at work, with the closest family, with friends. Knowing my own tendency, which is actually quite rare, which means what works for me, won’t necessarily work for you. And if you and I both have some knowledge about our respective core tendencies, perhaps there is a greater opportunity for us to find common ground, to be able to stand by one another, being there for each other in ways that are truly helpful?

I am an Upholder, with leanings towards Questioner, I think. The test online doesn’t dig deep enough for me to truly distinguish the nuances in great detail; am hoping the book will. What are you?

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