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Bury me standing.

Bury me standing.

August 22, 2018
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I should not be sitting here, in the sofa, closer to 11 pm, after a long day, when I still haven’t even begun packing my trip to Stockholm tomorrow morning… but I am. Tonight was the first GIFTED book club meet-up after the summer, and the book of the day was Bury me standing by Isabel Fonseca.

Bury-me-standing-I-ve-been-on-my-knees-all-my-lif“Bury me standing.
I’ve been on my knees all my life.”

A Roma proverb by Manush Romanov, which he called out to Isabel at the end of a mutual visit in Sofia.

First of all – this meet-up marks our one-year-anniversary, and I have to say, I’ve read books I most likely would not have read, had it not been for the book club. For that I am very grateful. It is one way to combat the narrowing of my filter bubble, for sure.

Secondly, Bury me standing is a daunting read. Informative, detailed, perplexing, shocking and sometimes even downright horrendous. It evokes so much in me, it’s hard to know where to start. But… I think…. maybe what strikes me first and foremost, is, truly, how hard it is for me to u n d e r s t a n d the Roma way of life, sentiment and culture. It is a culture very alien to me. Here we have a culture, a people (even though even the classification of the Roma as “a people” is not unproblematic in itself, see the quote below), that seem so foreign, to what almost all cultures across the globe have “assimilated into”. I mean, look at schooling. Most people across the globe go to school, regardless if you are 10 years old in Cuba, Nairobi, Shanghai or Malmö. And those schools, more or less, are very similar. Superficial differences exist for sure, but the basic structure is the same. And here we have a group of people, who just doesn’t buy into what I, what we, what the Western society (for lack of a better word), have deemed good, worthwhile, necessary.

And from the book, it’s made perfectly clear (in all to graphic descriptions sometimes) how we have not been able to stand this, for five hundred years or so. In fact, it seems we’ve done our very best throughout the centuries to thwart every possibility for Gypsies (the term Isabel Fonseca uses throughout the book; the library copy I’m reading was published in 1996) to become a part of society. Shunning them. Ostracizing them. Killing them. Making up laws and regulations (still in effect today. I mean, t o d a y, in 2018!) that are specifically designed to make it as hard as possible for them to live their life, their way.

Why can’t we live and let live? Why is “the other” so frightening to us?

I don’t know. It’s hard even to write about this book.
We did have a really good GIFTED conversation about it though, and somehow, I find it easier to talk about my thoughts, insights, questions and curiosities both towards the book and the Roma people, than to pin them down on paper.

“The Jews have responded to persecution and dispersal with a monumental industry of remembrance. The Gypsies – with their peculiar picture of fatalism and the spirit, or wit, to seize the day – have made an art of forgetting. 
Historically the Gypsies have not had an idea of, or word for, themselves as a group. In place of a nation, they recognize different tribes and, more locally, extended families or clans. Their European names – like Gypsy or Zigeuner – suggest a monolithic what. This isn’t an accurate reflection of how they see themselves: it is a reflection of how they are seen by outsiders.”

Outsider who, like me, have such a hard time understanding what it is we are seeing, that we cannot comprehend it. Perhaps (even likely) we cannot even see what it is we should, or could, be seeing, because our frame of reference is so vastly different.

“But things are changing. Just as Eskimos have chosen to call themselves the Inuit – which means “people” – “Roma” is emerging as a common name and signaling the arrival of a new collective identity.”

I hope, oh, how I hope, that the coming five hundred years will not be a continuation of what has gone on for far too long. So… what to do?

Listen.
Be there. Curiously. Non-judgmentally. Not wanting/needing/aiming to “solve the problem/s”.
Letting go of the idea that the Western way of living is “the right way of living”, letting come… a broadened perspective? A deeper understanding? Self-determination (truly)?

Listen (and learn).

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The trainable cat

November 5, 2017
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in Tip
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Pop and me out walkingI’m a cat person. Love them, and have since I knew how. Have had cats most of my life, one or more, at most I’ve had three cats at the same time. Bilbo and Bombadil were joined by Pippin when Bilbo went on a walkabout for six weeks and Bombadil was desperate for a pal. So we got Pippin the kitten, and a few weeks later, Bilbo returned. Three cats is actually a lot more than two, somehow. But we made it work.

Have never been able to train my cats much. Walking on a leash is something none of my cats have ever learned. Bilbo would flop down on the floor as if he’d become instantly paralysed whenever I put the leash on him, totally unable to walk. Pop actually knows how…. but he moved in when he was three years old and already knew this skill. Besides that, he will gladly join us for walk around the neighborhood even without a leash, so he’s a special cat, that’s for sure.

Tummy to petSo when I saw the episode title “How to train your cat” on Fresh Air, I was intrigued and started to listen to it. Rapidly I understood, that in reality, I’m the one who’s been trained, by all my cats! They seem to know instinctively how to train their humans to do precisely what they want, whether it’s letting them out at four am, providing more food than planned, petting an upturned hairy tummy or, for that matter, immediately to stop petting that very same upturned hairy tummy. I’m a well-trained human I admit. But this is all about to change, as the podcast actually gave me a new perspective on this. Or perhaps it’s more just to say, I intend to even the odds a bit.

I will no longer let Pop the cat out at four am in the morning when he’s walking around screaming to be let out. Because every time I do, I am reinforcing his knowledge that this is how it works: If i miow loud enough and long enough, she’ll crawl groggily out of bed and let me out. And he did train me well! But no more.

Pop the catSo for a couple of early mornings, when Pop has let me know he want’s to go out (pressing needs perhaps? There is a litter box, he’s in no dire straits, I promise) somewhere around four five am, I’ve not let him out. I’ve invited him up onto the bed, but that’s the extent of my interaction with him in the wee hours of morning. And lo and behold, after a few frustrated minutes walking about, up and down the stairs, miowing, he relents. Sometimes he plonks down on my bed. The other day he chose Almas bed instead. Today he chose the sofa downstairs, so that when I got up around seven and went downstairs to pick up my phone and iPad (morning writing you know), me met me by the front door, and – without him making a sound – I let him out the door.

Same goes for food. Miowing in the past has meant that we relent, and give him some food, more than he actually should receive. If nothing else simply to shut him up. See – he’s trained us well, this cat! But no more. I am on to his training scheme and will refuse to play according to his rules anymore.

What I didn’t get from the podcast, which might be available in the book The trainable cat, is how to get Pop to indicate, with one (1) and only one miow, the desire to be let out and so on, but to stop after the one miow. Because I see him and hear him, and will – unless it’s five am in the morning – oblige. If we reach that point, I would be a very happy cat-owned human, that’s for sure. I’ll see if I can get a hold of that book – the story of me training Pop the cat and vise versa is to be continued…

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Doing gentle – 22 – Listen to your body

June 12, 2016
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I admit. I confess. I am a recovering addict of the disembodied Western culture. I have lived most of my life as a brain with two feet. All in my head, very intellectual and to a large part, totally oblivious to my body, and its needs.

I’d hear people say Oh no, I cannot eat raw onion because it gives me gas, and I would think – really? They see those connections? They connect the dots between what they ate, or drank, the other day, with their current state? Wow. I had no clue. Truly, no clue what so ever.

A brain on two feet. With this bulk in-between that sometimes made life hard, but mostly sort of just was around. And then, I started to listen to my body. Slowly I am rediscovering it, rediscovering myself, and am turning into a full human being, with a body of emotions and sensations, as well as a brain. I’m all of that, and there doesn’t have to be a disconnect at all. In fact, I think the separation of body and mind, might actually be setting us (at least me!) up for imagining there is a disconnect there, that is not real, that is simply a figment of my imagination.

I’ve had personal experiences of my body trying to inform me, but being too dense to pick up on the message. Knowing there’s something amiss, but not astute enough in the language of the body to decipher the message. I had a kink in my neck for almost two years. Had to go see a chiropractor every other month, just to maintain a reasonable level of movability and comfort. And then… I made a life-decision. A decision I’ve been avoiding for years. And wham – all of a sudden, the kink is gone. It’s been five months since I went to the chiropractor and the problem is simply not there anymore.

I also suffered from dry patches on my lower legs for decades. listenFlaring up in stressful situations, but never really gone, except some summers when sun and warmth would make them go away. Then I went to see a hypnotherapist, and we started to explore anger, my anger. Three sessions scheduled, and between session two and three, I got undressed to go to bed. And I saw it! I put my bare leg onto the bed, and asked my husband Do you see? He looked at me, at my leg, and said Your dry patches are gone. What have you done? What had I done? Well. I don’t really know, except that I’d made peace with myself, with my anger, and no longer felt the need to express my anger in the same way as before.

So. Listen to your body.

Even though it might be a wee tad hard to know what the message is, your body is telling you if there is something amiss or not. So listen. I know I am, nowadays. My body has won me over, and I know it’s informing me in the best way it knows how to.

Welcome to my humble abode, where the underlying tone centers around being gentle to oneself. On Sundays I share thoughts on how I do gentle, and I hope you enjoy it. If you do, please subscribe to updates so you won’t miss out on future posts in this series.

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Doing gentle – 20 – Listen. Read. Watch.

May 29, 2016
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I take in a lot, and wasn’t all that surprised when Strengths Finder indicated that Input is one of my foremost strengths.

I listen. To podcasts. To people around me. To documentaries, wise friends, to nature. To myself, the inner voice.

I read. Books. Fiction as well as non-fiction. Blogs. Articles. Snippets on social media.

I watch. Myself. Those around me. Society at large. TED Talks. Inspirational movies, shows, clips.

I’ve always done this.

readBut there’s been a shift, these past three-four years. I used to bounce good things, that is, I’d get it, read it, listen to it, watch it, and immediately send it back out into the world. As is. And I grew dissatisfied with that habit of bouncing. I wanted to sit with stuff more, reflect, put my own twist to it. Send it back out into the world, yes, but with the addition of my own words to it. With my images. Adding a layer, a tone, adding me. Explaining why I felt this was important, inspiring, innovative.

And in doing that – mostly through my daily blogging – the level of my intake has shifted. Possibly I take in less, in numbers. But I definitely take in more, in depth. I go deeper. That which calls out to me, I often read, more than once. I often listen to, or watch, more than once. I want to get deeper, find the nuances. And every iteration means I hear, or see, or notice, something new. I experience more.

This has made life richer. Less black-and-white, less either-or. More flavors. More colors.

It’s as if I am a consumer. And a producer. At the same time. I used to consume. Period. And when I started to produce (for me, blog posts, mainly, but also the work I put into the coaching I do, and the non-profits I am involved in) I realized that consumption is simply part of the deal. It’s one side of the coin, and both are needed for the coin to have any real value.

So. Listen. Read. Watch. And then – make something of it. If only for yourself, within yourself, making it come alive within you. Nothing more is needed. If you want to put it out into the world. Do. If you don’t. Don’t. But regardless, be open to, reflect and learn from that which you hear, read, watch.

Welcome to my humble abode, where the underlying tone centers around being gentle to oneself. On Sundays I share thoughts on how I do gentle, and I hope you enjoy it. If you do, please subscribe to updates so you won’t miss out on future posts in this series.

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