Writings

The act of noticing things

The act of noticing things

March 26, 2017
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in Tip
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My friend Laura told me she’d listened to Ellen Langer on On Being, and suggested I check it out. So I did (and would have anyway, since On Being is a favorite show of mine. But I am so happy for the suggestion!), and once finished, pressed Play immediately, to listen yet another time. And actually, I’ve listened to the episode more than three times by now! It’s definitely a very good show to listen to, at least if you are in any way interested in mindfulness, or mindlessness, for that matter. Ellen Langer has a purely scientific take on it, and I really like her definition of mindfulness: “the simple act of actively noticing things”

Because that is really what it is all about. And she does have a point. I mean, how do I DO “being in the present”? How do I know I am “being in the now”? And she is spot on with her definition. You are present when you notice things. That is how you know you are in the present moment, and not off on a mental tangent somewhere or other.

Now that’s just one of many precious gems in this episode of On Being, and I will just pinpoint one more, before letting you head on over to On Being to listen for yourself.

Fairly early on in the show Ellen speaks about perspectives, and what she said really got me thinking. She points out how nobody truly believes there is just one way to look at the world at large or a specific detail (unless they are a fundamentalist, my addition), and yet, we so often go through life doing just that. And she gave me a much needed nudge, to look at a specific person in a fairly periferal position of my life, who still somehow seem to take up more energy and space than I want. And wham. All of a sudden, I could see what for me seems like very petty and begrudging behavior, in a totally new light. I all of a sudden developed a lot of empathy for said person, because I realized that a likely cause for the behavior is loneliness and a fear of not having any friends.

noticing things

It’s so amazing when those shifts occur, it’s as if a door opens that I had no clue was there in the first place. And that my friends, is definitely an example of the simple act of noticing things.

So. Stop. Pause. Look around you.
Notice five new things about the space you are in?

In 2015 I ran a series on herothecoach.com with Sunday postings of podcasts to my liking. In 2017 I will be re-posting some of those blog posts – and this is one of them, originally posted here – , mixing them up with new podcast recommendations. 

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#blogg100 – Only a rumor.

March 25, 2017
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“Knowledge is only a rumor until it lives in the muscle.”

So say the Asaro tribe of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, and when I read it in Rising Strong, I nod my head in agreement. Because I can know a lot. But if I do not live it, what good is it to me?

Rising strong bwIt’s like when we force our children to “say you’re sorry” when they’ve hit a friend, or snitched the toy car from baby Jane in the sand box. We tell them to “Say you’re sorry.”, and they do. Not knowing why. Not understanding that a sorry doesn’t give you carte blanche to do the same thing again and again, in the days to come. As if a sorry would be enough, making it ok to keep on acting the same way, hitting a friend, snitching the car. It’s not. It’s an excuse, and if it’s a wholehearted excuse, a sorry that we truly feel, then attached to that is the unvoiced promise, that we will not act like that again. We won’t repeat the behavior that caused the apology in the first place, again, and again. At the very least, we vow to tro to be better, act better, grounding ourselves in values and a worldview on how to treat fellow human beings (and everything else on Earth).

If we do, keep it up, repeat it, over and over again – we’ve not understood anything.

And I claim, when we force kids to say sorry, we are making it into a rote behavior, rather than having them understand – with empathy and compassion – what just transpired and feel the sorrow within, the regret, the knowledge that what just happened was unwelcome, and an apology is one way forward.

“Knowledge is only a rumor until it lives in the muscle.”

Knowledge is of use, when it is used. When I make use of it, having it “live in my muscles”, becoming part of who I am, what I do, and why I do it. When I use it to help me be the better me, become the best me possible. And it’s great to have a repository of knowledge within, that I can use when it’s appropriate. I am n o t stating we should only learn that which we see a direct gain for, a reason for, when we plan an implicit action ahead. Oh no. Having a wealth of knowledge within, to utilize if and when I am faced with a new situation, is vital. Ensuring I have the resources when the time comes. But if I don’t use them, when it is time, that’s a missed opportunity. That’s when I should have practiced what I’ve learned, that’s how you walk your talk. Perhaps insecure, a total beginner, never having utilized the knowledge. And that’s fine. We all know it sometimes take a little bit (or a lot!) of practice to get good at something. But refraining from acting, on the basis that I’ve not done it before, don’t really know how to, unsure if I’ll do it good enough – that’s how knowledge remains a rumor. Don’t let it. Please. Make it live in your muscles, and I’ll be doing the same.

#Blogg100 challenge in 2017 – post number 25 of 100. 
The book “Rising strong” by Brené Brown.
English posts here, Swedish at herothecoach.com.

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#blogg100 – The beginnings of my song.

March 24, 2017
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I’ve just gotten started on the book Born to run by Bruce Springsteen, but I am already smitten. The way he writes, how he crafts words into sentences, carving them to paint pictures within my mind, the tonality and rhythm of the phrases making me rejoice, and sometimes even be completely awestruck.

Bruce Springsteen is a skilled word crafter, creating worlds within me. I should not be surprised, really. From the lyrics of his songs, I know this. But still – with letters turning into words, making up sentences, forming phrases and paragraphs, sometimes direct and extremely explicit, sometimes elusive and coy, leaving me to weave my own image of what is roughly sketched on the page – I am smitten.

“This is the world where I found the beginnings of my song.”

What an alluring sentence. Inviting me to think back, to reflect on the beginnings of my song. And is it a song? For me? For Bruce, oh yeah. Without a doubt. But for me? Maybe. Maybe not. Is it perhaps more of a story for me, a novel? I write. Now. And I am so happy I am. It’s one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever given myself, taking on the challenge of blogging daily for one hundred days, which now is a routine of mine that has me hooked. It is so thrilling. I truly enjoy it.

beginnings of my songAs I write this, sitting in bed, after a long day at a customer writing their quality manual (not exactly thrilling writing in the same way, I admit. But still – quite the challenge, and filled with opportunity for learning!), a smile slowly spreads across my face. My eyes twinkle and I sit here giggling, cherishing the experience of letting come. Not knowing what’s next – what my fingers will get up to, dancing on the small keyboard of my mini IPad, and then – all of a sudden, there it is. A sentence, a paragraph, a blog post, two or perhaps, even three. The beginnings of my song?

#Blogg100 challenge in 2017 – post number 24 of 100.
The book “Born to run” by Bruce Springsteen.
English posts here, Swedish at herothecoach.com.

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#blogg100 – Basis for action.

March 22, 2017
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Sometimes I am accused of being too hopeful. That nothing will come of it. That I should be doing more – in a sense – everything. I sometimes retreat, hurt, wounded, saddened and defeated by these accusations. Worried that I am not doing enough, that my hope for and positive beliefs of a better and more loving world, are futile, pointless, without meaning.

But then I take comfort in the fact that I have hope. I’d rather have that, than be cynical and defeatist.
And I take comfort in the fact that I am not alone. There are others who, like me, are hopeful, and that, like me, use that as the basis for action.

”…it’s important to emphasize that hope is only a beginning; it’s not a substitute for action, only a basis for it.”

Stemming from hope, action can – and should – be taken. But action is not merely something that’s in the doing, which I think a lot of us believe. We’ve forgotten that action can also be in the being, as well as in the more subtle doings that are not visible. In thinking good thoughts. In spreading energies of love and generosity. In staying silent. In letting someone else shine, holding a space for them to be able to do just that.BoldomaticPost_I-am-only-one-but-still-I-am

Like Helen Keller says, I cannot do everything, but I can do something.

And I keep on getting more and more proof that the attitude with which I step into something – regardless of what – matters a great deal. Do I want to get away from something, or am I eager to get to something else? A world of difference in the feeling within. So yes, action stemming from hope is amongst the finest action we can take.

With a spring in our steps, with bounce and eagerness, wanting change, willing change, inspiring change. Being a force for, rather than against. With an eye to today and tomorrow, leaving behind us the thing of the past, which is what is is. But it does not have to be the same tomorrow, not If I take action, if we take action.

So act, by all means. Act!

#Blogg100 challenge in 2017 – post number 22 of 100.
The book “Hope in the dark” by Rebecca Solnit.
English posts here, Swedish at herothecoach.com.

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#blogg100 – Show me a woman.

March 20, 2017
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“Show me a woman who can hold space for a man in real fear and vulnerability, and I’ll show you a woman who’s learned to embrace her own vulnerability and who doesn’t derive her power or status from that man. Show me a man who can sit with a woman in real fear and vulnerability and just hear her struggle without trying to fix it or give advice, and I’ll show you a man who’s comfortable with his own vulnerability and doesn’t derive his power from being Oz, the all-knowing and all-powerful.”

I remember hearing Brené Brown say this, in a podcast I listened to, and I remember how I pressed rewind, to listen to it a few more times, because the way she said it, the feeling behind the words she was using, was so strong, so powerful and with such longing. Longing for more of us to experience this, to simply be held, in a space of love, which is one of the most amazing experiences of life. Rising strong bwNot to be fixed. Not to be told what to do. But simply held. In a space of love.

And I realize that sometimes, in a silence between two people, I am actually n o t being held. That silence rather the sign of a man not knowing how to fix, how to advice; who cannot fathom saying “I don’t know what to do or say when you are so sad and upset. What do you need from me right now?” and hence, simply refrain from doing anything. That place, that space, is not a space of love, trust me. That is a man not comfortable in his own vulnerability, and the feeling behind the non-spoken words reveal that all to clearly.

But am I that woman?

Sometimes yes. Sometimes no.

And often – how weird is this? – I wonder if I am not that man, instead: trying to fix, giving advice. Wanting to h e l p, wanting to get someone out of a muddle… Even when it’s not my muddle, not my action to take, not my responsibility to do anything but simply be there, holding a space of love. I’m practicing though. Practicing holding space for both men and women in real fear and vulnerability, without me having to assert power and status, without me fixing the issue or giving advice how to… Simply holding space. Nothing more, nothing less, and yet, speaking from personal experience, it is somehow the grandest there is. Being held in a space of love is the finest gift we can give each other. And, unfortunately, all too rare.

#Blogg100 challenge in 2017 – post number 20 of 100.
The book “Rising strong” by Brené Brown.
English posts here, Swedish at
herothecoach.com.

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Stillness.

March 19, 2017
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in Tip
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I remember the first time I came across Pico Iyer. He gave a TED Talk on The Art of Stillness that captivated me. His words, his way of showing up in the world, his message. All captivating, and performed in such a way, that something opened up within me.

Stillness was never a word I used to describe myself. Before. Perhaps I’ve been more still in a bodily manner, but definitely not mentally. Mental chatter, constant, busy busy, chatting away at all times. Never knowing how to shut it up, or to stop paying attention to it. Never a still moment. Almost.

Now. I revere the stillness that I find, now and again, often on a daily basis. Meditating for instance. But also in micro moments throughout the day, discovering something beautiful, sensing a smell, or a sound, or even the absence of sound. Captivated, for just a microsecond, as if time stops, ceases to exist, like pressing a pause-button.

Pico Iyer also had a conversation with Krista Tippett, On Being, on the Art of Stillness, and I thought it would be an excellent companion to the reflections on being aware, that have dominated the blog this week. Pico Iyer travels the world, and then travels within his inner world, deciphering the first kind of travels through the second. In a sense, becoming more aware of what goes on outside, by a raised awareness of what goes on inside. travel to be moved

This is what my life journey have started to feel like, a travel, a journey of discovery, of expansion as well as stabilization, of awareness. And the more I travel, roaming the landscape and continents within, the more I am moved by moments of pure presence, in me, as well as outside of me.

Today I will be traveling, and Pico is spot on. I am not traveling for the sake of moving around, I am traveling with the hope of being moved. And I know I will be.

Why do you travel?

In 2015 I ran a series on herothecoach.com with Sunday postings of podcasts to my liking. In 2017 I will be re-posting some of those blog posts – and this is one of them, originally posted here – , mixing them up with new podcast recommendations. Found it fitting with this podcast-tip, as I do a lot of reflecting upon the topic of s t i l l n e s s at the moment. 

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#blogg100 – Rising strong.

March 18, 2017
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The intention I set for 2017 is wholeheartedness, and the book Rising strong by Brené Brown that I read in 2016 played a great part in making it so.

“Rising strong after a fall is how we cultivate wholeheartedness in our lives;
it’s the process that teaches us the most about who we are.”

Rising StrongRising strong. Means what?
To you? I don’t know.
To me – living, falling down, getting up, showing up, vulnerable and courageous; and still to keep on. One step at a time.

“We need more people who are willing to demonstrate what it looks like to risk and endure failure, disappointment, and regret – people willing to feel their own hurt instead of working it out on other people, people willing to own their stories, live their values, and keep showing up.”

When I am with people who do this, who step out on a limb, who demonstrate what life is all about, they grant me space to do the same. They don’t hog the space, don’t steal the lime light from me and you and the rest of us. On the contrary I would say. They make the light shine so brightly, so far and wide, that we are all in it, we all have the space and place to be who we are. With all the trapping of human life on earth.

Brené Brown is a qualitative reasearcher, specifically a grounded theory researcher, and as such, she’s interviewed thousands of people on the topics she’s focussing her theory on. And what she found to be the common trait of people who live wholeheared lives is this:

“They’re curious about the emotional world and they face discomfort straight-on.”

For me, my whole life started to pivot once I stopped being afraid of whom I might meet when I looked within, when I started to be curious instead. Now, meeting me, within me, or in meeting you, is the most fascinating exploration of all – never really knowing what might pop up, and in constant wonderment, rather than the fear of “bad traits”, of jealousy and greed, of stingyness and weakness. No. I don’t fear myself anymore, the light and the shadow both are welcome. More than welcome even, greatly anticipated! Jumping up and down on the spot, eagerly awaiting the coming of what-ever-may-be, like a small child waiting for a favorite uncle. Ready to face it, come what may. Thrills and lows alike, warmly embraced and faced.

#Blogg100 challenge in 2017 – post number 18 of 100.
The book “Rising strong” by Brené Brown.
English posts here, Swedish at
herothecoach.com.

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#blogg100 – Amplify power and reach.

March 16, 2017
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”Activists often speak as though the solutions we need have not yet been launched or invented, as though we are starting from scratch, when often the real goal is to amplify the power and reach of existing alternatives. What we dream of is already present in the world.”

What would be possible if we had less of an attachment to “our personal babies” (be they an idea, a company, a movement, a team, a slogan)? Less attached to making our baby live and prosper, come what may, and more open to opportunities knocking on the door?

Hope in the darkAnd yes, I am speaking from personal experience as well. Many are the discussions I’ve had – both professionally and personally – that are right there on the edge of making a real difference, an impact… just to see it crumble and fall back into old and wellknown ways.

“Oh no, that would never work. Let’s stick to our old way of working, that’s more secure!”

Or even worse:
“We should work together, let’s unite, join forces. As long as the new organization still has our name, because that’s the best name for it!” with the prospective partners equally attached to their name, forgetting, all around, that what we are striving for isn’t in a name, it’s in the action we can achieve, inspire to, accomplish. And united we can make much more of an impact, than divided.

Copyright and patents. Regulations and best practice.
Collaborations between people with the same background, education, business.

We are very good at preserving the status quo, rather than be in constant maker-mode, adding, subtracting, tweaking, combining “what is already present in the world” to amplify the power and reach of existing alternatives. Bogged down into the administrations of setting up a new organization, rather than joining forces with the existing ones. Stuck in competition, over collaboration. Thinking we need to protect “our corner of the world” (be that an idea, a company, a movement, a team, a slogan) and possibly – probably – missing out on golden opportunities, popping up around us like mushrooms in the forest after a week of sun and rain both.

And yes. Of course – sometimes sweeping everything off the table to start from scratch might be the only viable option – but remember, that we are not wiping ourselves clean, are we? I will always bring that which is within my experience to the table, and so will you. That’s why collaboration, cocreation, combination of the unlikely, the diversity of experiences, more often than not will be more effective – but oh so personally challenging, most often! – to amplify power and reach into effecting real change and improvement.

#Blogg100 challenge in 2017 – post number 15 of 100.
The book “Hope in the dark” by Rebecca Solnit.
English posts here, Swedish at
herothecoach.com.

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#blogg100 – Threads of ideas.

March 14, 2017
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One of the aspects of Hope in the dark that makes hope for what can be bubble up within like champagne bubbles, is this:

”So the threads of ideas weave around the world and through the decades and centuries.”

How it all is entwined, how nothing stands alone, but rather, through visible or invisible threads are linked, back and forth, crossing the expanse of time and space, in a web. Weaving us together. All of us; the living, and those long since turned back into start dust, all a part of the tapestry of life.

Arcs of historyThe arcs that oftentimes are longer, much longer, than what we believe them to be. (If we think that way at all… I know I didn’t use to, I’m certain I am not alone in that.) Our perspective often, most understandably, but perhaps not wise, that of a human – that is, looking at what is done, over a few weeks, perhaps years. Seldom going to far as to look at what can be done over a few decades or our entire life span? Perhaps that comes first with age – looking back, reverse engineering our path, linking significant events and decisions together. And then missing what can be done when we string lives together, putting life time to life time, making the arcs of history cross the universe in multiple dimensions.

I can vote. Of course I can vote. Why wouldn’t I?
Well, if not for the suffragette movement, it might not be such a matter-of-fact statement to make, right?

There are still a few countries in the world where female votes is not allowed, but the arcs of history will get to them to. Of that I am certain. When – I don’t know, but That it will occur, that I don’t hesitate on.

And if not for the evolution of democracy, perhaps but a few of us would have the right to make our voices heard at all, let alone to cast a vote, regardless of gender, more a matter of privilege and riches, than anything else.

”Whatever else the Arab Spring was, it’s an extraordinary example of how unpredictable change is and how potent popular power can be. And five years on, it’s too soon to draw conclusions about what it all meant.”

It did not happen as a odd occurrence unlinked to what went before it. Not at all. Many are the possible arcs of history that had a direct correlation to the Arab Spring. And like Rebecca Solnit states – who knows what might come of it? Like Zhou En-Lai, high-ranking member of Chairman Mao’s government said when asked of his opinion on the French Revolution: “Too soon to tell.” 

I wonder if it always is? Or perhaps: Feel free to express an opinion but never loose sight of the threads of ideas, weaving around the world, through decades and centuries, spreading hope for what can be, one day.

#Blogg100 challenge in 2017 – post number 14 of 100.
The book “Hope in the dark” by Rebecca Solnit.
English posts here, Swedish at
herothecoach.com.

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I wanna be a farmer!

March 12, 2017
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in Tip
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Man, this was such a surprising episode with fact upon fact that made me drop my jaw, over and over again. Just incredible! What, what, what, you ask, eagerly, wanting to know what made my mind do cartwheels while listening.

Peak Prosperity on Sustainable farming 2.0 with Paul and Elizabeth Kaiser. That’s the one. That’s the podcast you just must listen to. And I really mean it, even if you have no inkling whatsoever to farming or even cultivating the teeniest carrot in your garden.

I just didn’t know. There’s so much that is wrong with the way humans cultivate the land today, and even though Paul and Elizabeth can only briefly describe some of the things they do differently, the results they are getting speak for themselves. At their farm, Singing Frogs Farm, They gross a whooping 5 times more per acre than the California average gross revenue per acre. Five times. Let me spell that out for you again: FIVE TIMES.

And they do it, possibleby working with nature rather than against it. If I am to sum it up, that’s what I would say. They go with the design of nature, rather than oppose it. Simple eh? Well. Yeah. But apparently not. Since they are a rare exception to the rule. But hopefully, the results they are getting will speak for itself, and will make more people open their eyes to what is possible when we shift from against-ness to with-ness.

After listening to the podcast, I am definitely thinking about what I can do in the garden at home, in the vegetable patches as well as the flower beds and so on. And while I might not pack up and buy a farm, I will definitely be rethinking my current gardening practice. I have no doubt that I will bring some of these things into my gardening from now on. Because it feels like there’s no turning back. I’ve seen something that cannot be unseen. Like cracking the reading-code. Once I got it, it was hard to understand what it felt like before I could read.

Please listen to this episode and let me know if you were as surprised as I. If so – what surprised you the most?

In 2015 I ran a series on herothecoach.com with Sunday postings of podcasts to my liking. In 2017 I will be re-posting some of those blog posts – and this is one of them, originally posted here – , mixing them up with new podcast recommendations.

Read More