Writings

Sensations

Sensations

March 2, 2018
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SensationsI crave sensations.
Not the ”wow, that’s so cool!”-type of sensations, but rather the sensations of feeling, of touch, of sound and movement. The lightest of touch, the softest of whisper.

What can I feel?
What do I want to feel?
What do I like?
What do I want? What don’t I want?
What do I desire, what makes me aroused, what drives me over the edge?

From having been an it’s-all-in-my-head-gal, for the past few years slowly but steadily I’ve been reconnecting with my body, with all of me. I am still… hm… possibly a bit scared of it all? But more than that, it’s mostly a matter of not knowing what and how to do, being acutely aware of that fact, and fearing ridicule, so yes, fear is at the root of me depriving myself of the sensations I crave.

That won’t stop me though.
I want to sense life – in all manners possible – and I will.

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Letters from a Stoic (book 4 of 26)

February 25, 2018
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Letters from a StoicTim Ferriss talks about it a lot.
My brother read it this summer when we met up at mom’s place.
And I got it in the fall, when picking up a few books from an online bookstore, so when the reading challenge of 2018 crystallized in my mind, including Letters from a Stoic by Seneca was an easy choice.

It’s amazing that this book is made up of letters written almost two thousand years ago, and here I sit, reading them. Two thousand (!) years later. That is mind-blowing. Aside from that, there are parts of the book that really resonate with me, and other parts I struggle with. I do like the Stoic drive to “learn in order to be a better human”, but at the same time, the prescriptiveness of the Stoic way of living jars with my fairly recent understanding that what works for me, doesn’t necessarily work for you.

But how can I object to advice such as this on reading:
“You should be extending your stay among writers whose genius is unquestionable, deriving constant nourishment from them if you wish to gain anything from your reading that will find lasting place in your mind.”

Or thoughts such as this on friendship:
“But if you are looking on anyone as a friend when you do not trust him as you trust yourself, you are making a grave mistake, and have failed to grasp sufficiently the full force of true friendship.”

And trust (in my naivety I do go for the first one, perhaps that’s why I like this line?):
“Trusting everyone is as much a fault as trusting no one (though I should call the first the worthier and the second the safer behavior).”

And this, taken from a longer conversation on traveling, which I find to be of extraordinary value today, what with the migration issues we are facing, which I believe will only get worse. Unless, that is, we heed Seneca’s words:
“Where you arrive does not matter so much as what sort of person you are when you arrive there. We ought not, therefore, give over our hearts for good to any one part of the world. We should live with the conviction: ‘I wasn’t born for one particular corner; the whole world’s my home country.'”

As I flip through this book that I just finished reading this morning, I gaze upon page after page of my scribbles in the margins, marking a passage here, a phrase there, a sentence or two and quote after quote, and I realize, here’s a book I want to re-read soon, at least once more. Makes me understand what Ferriss is talking about, when he says about Letters from a Stoic that “I’ve read it dozens of times, and I loved it so much that I turned it into The Tao of Seneca, a three-volume set of audiobooks. If you prefer a written version of the Tao of Seneca, you can find it here for free.

Throughout the letters, Seneca is clear on one thing above all else, coming back to it again and again, and that is how philosophy, the love of wisdom, is to be put to practical use:
“What we hear the philosophers saying and what we find in their writings should be applied in our pursuit of the happy life. We should hunt out the helpful pieces of teaching, and the spirited and nobel-minded sayings which are capable of immediate practical application – not far-fetched or archaic expressions or extravagant metaphors and figures of speech – and learn them so well that words becomes works.”

This cuts to the core of one of my pet peeves concerning the self-help genre, which is that many people don’t seem willing to do the work. Reading book after book, without actually trying it on for size. Somehow believing that just reading it, will make whatever the book is talking about come true? Laziness? An unwillingness to step outside both comfort and possibly safety zones? To use Senecas words, reading, but not applying the advice. And that will not make a change in how life is perceived, not in the least. And to finish off where I started this post, how will I ever know if what works for you (or the Stoics), might work for me, unless I try it?

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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Kids, you have me in tears!

February 24, 2018
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I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and stumbled upon a post shared by a friend, originally posted by a Zoë Carpenter, who the other day got swept up in something quite amazing:

Kids on Capitol

I clicked Play, and almost immediately started crying, desperately crying, from a combination of being so moved, touched and proud of these wise souls making a stand, and at the same time so dreadfully upset at the absurdity of it all.

The promise I see in these kids, who just won’t take it no more; now, there’s a force to be reckoned with!

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

February 20, 2018
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Three billboards outside Ebbing, MissouriWent to the movies with my eldest child (child. How long can I write that and not misrepresent her, born in 1999 that she is, and thus, have come of age in so many ways the word child doesn’t really fit the bill any more. She is my child, and always will be, though. Interesting conundrum this!), my cousin and her husband. We saw Three billboards outside Ebbings, Missouri, a movie I’d watched a short trailer of, and immediately decided it was one I wanted to watch.

What a fascinating movie!
And the acting. Holy moly, Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell. Worth watching simply for the world-class acting.

This is a movie that gripped me. Far from a feelgood-movie, it rather left me with a lingering feeling of… the complexity of humans? That there’s light and darkness in us all – this movie certainly let me utilize my ability to see both sides in each individual character. Ample evidence of how self-destructive negativity, hatred, violence and distrust is. And as much evidence to the contrary; one of the most moving scenes has one man pouring and offering a glass of orange juice to another man, both admitted to the hospital. Heartbreaking vulnerability, from both men.

Gripped I am, and as I sit here, a few weeks after watching it – that lingering feeling remains. Value for money!

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Isn’t it strange?

February 15, 2018
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CompetencesI’m asked to fill out a profile page and get stuck.
Competences – mine.

What are they?

What am I good at?
Good enough at to make whatever it is worth mentioning as core competences?

Writing? Seeing the full picture; drawing quick connections?
Reading. I know I’m good at that, but I mean… that’s not something to stress, is it?

Oh well. Hopefully my friends will help me. Have sent off a few queries, in the hope that they will help me. And I think it’s easier for them, than it is for me. As it would be for me, if I was to provide five competences for each of those I asked now. No problem at all. It would be quite easy, even, I think.

Isn’t it strange that it’s so hard for me to see me, and so much easier to see you? Or is it simply a clever design of human beings? Another reason why we are better together, than apart?

Because then I can see you, can reflect back to you that which you send out, so that you can see for yourself. And you can see me, can reflect back to me that which I send out, so that I can see for myself. Stronger, smarter and more competent together, than apart. Perhaps it isnät so strange, after all.

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Start with why (book 3 of 26)

February 11, 2018
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It’s a bit surprising I haven’t read this book before, I agree. I mean, I even helped initiate a movement in Sweden that asked #WhySchool, so undoubtedly asking Why to find the underlying purpose, the driving force, the reason for What and How, is a habit close to my heart. And yet, I’ve not actually read the book before. I’ve watched his (Simon Sinek that is) TED Talk, many times, I’ve listened to podcasts with him, and oftentimes use his Golden Circle, and now, finally, I can honestly say I’ve read the book Start with why.

Golden Circle

The Why in the Golden Circle is the why of “WHY do you do what you do?”, that which is your purpose, the driving force behind all that you do, and how you do it – your reason for getting out of bed in the morning; the meaning of your life, in a manner of speaking. In the words of Simon Sinek:
Everything you say and everything you do has to prove what you believe. A WHY is just a belief. That’s all it is. HOWs are the actions you take to realize that belief. And WHATs are the results of those actions – everything you say and do: your products, services, marketing, PR, culture and whom you hire. 

I can see my why, and have clearly seen it for about 8-10 years or so, but I haven’t truly mastered the art of voicing it clearly (which is not uncommon, and there’s a logical reason for it as well, as the two inner circles of the Golden Circle correspond to our “emotional” limbic brain, with the outer What-circle corresponding to the rational and language-centered neocortex. So, it’s easier to explain what it is I do, and harder to tell you why.). Yet. What gave it away to me, was me lying in bed on a lazy Sunday morning, looking backwards to all the jobs and positions I’ve filled in my life, and finding the common thread, that which all of those experiences has in common: I encourage change. I see that which is, and also, what it could be, and work relentlessly as an agent of change, to help (people, departments, companies or organizations) reach a greater level of potential.

On page 214, Simon Sinek tells me why that is “the way to finding one’s why”:
The WHY does not come from looking ahead at what you want to achieve and figuring out an appropriate strategy to get there. It is not born out of any market research. It does not come from extensive interviews with customers or even employees. It comes from looking in the completely opposite direction from where you are now. Finding WHY is a process of discovery, not invention.

About the same time as I saw that common thread, I woke in the middle of the night with clarity on the meaning of my life: to make a positive imprint. So, I am an agent of change wanting that change to be for the better. Now I just need to be able to voice this clearly and succinctly, to make it communicable.

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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A matter of perspective

February 10, 2018
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There is not one truth, there are many, all depending upon our perspective. It’s all a matter of perspective, and the sooner we actually start to live our lives based on that understanding, I think the world will change for the better, both for the individual as well as society at large.

Hillary Diane Andales impressed me with her entry into the Breakthrough Junior Challenge of 2017 (a challenge she actually won!), where she explains this very clearly:

So the really mind-blowing idea here is that observer’s in different frames will perceive different version of the same reality. And every observer’s frame is equally valid. So before you start to make any observational arguments with others, first imagine yourself observing through their reference frames. 

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The world needs more of it!

February 5, 2018
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Generosity-Curiosity-Warmth-and-laughter-opennessGenerosity. Curiosity. Warmth and laughter, openness. Depth and honesty, respect, sincerity and a willingness to stay put, to not shy away from the tough and hard questions. People with enormous integrity, making me want to find out more, to listen more, to read more, about them, but more than that, I want to listen and read more by them.

Who?

An imam and a rabbi, in conversation with Krista Tippett in On Being. I start to listen to the edited version, and immediately thereafter I press Play on the unedited version. Which I then proceed to listen to yet once again. And I don’t feel satisfied yet, I’ll be relistening more, mark my words.

Krista starts the conversation thus:
It sounds like the beginning of a joke, and in truth, there’s a lot of laughter in what comes next: an imam and a rabbi walk into a conference of reform Jews. But amidst reports of rising anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, there are also friendships — and conversations like this — taking place.

Imam Abdullah Antepli and Rabbi Sarah Bassin – I listen to them, and fill up with hope. The way these two people work, and the impact they are having, one heart at a time, is just amazing. There is humility here, loads of it, these are humble people, in my view, and yet, at the same time, they are so strong, flexible and far from easy push-overs. Far from it, by the sound of it!

At one time, Imam Antepli touches on something that is well tuned to my intention for the year:

Imam Antepli: That’s really beautiful. And my biggest holy envy of Judaism is, absolutely, Shabbat. This is something — the world needs more of it. Imagine — when the world’s largest, most effective and influential religion, capitalism, is telling you, “Work more, harder. Buy more. Study harder,” there’s one voice from Sinai for 5,000 years, saying, “Once a week, don’t do that.” 

Wise words, those. The entire show is inspirational, truly. And since I started writing this post a day has passed, and I’ve listened to the show no less than five times. This is a record! And I’m not done. I’ll press Play at least once more. At least.

This – people in true conversation – is what the world needs more of. And one of the ways I use to get more of it – besides engaging in conversations myself – is to listen to On Being, still going strong as my favorite podcast!

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Time travelling

February 2, 2018
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I sit here, headed home by train, after being away for a night and a day, on assignment for a new client. The sounds and movements of the train help lull me into an experience of timelessness; the sense of time passing, and yet… not. I’ve ridden a lot of train in my days, and I gather all those memories weigh in, to awaken the sensation of being outside time, somehow.

Perhaps I’ve also been influenced by the fact that I’ve travelled through time while the trains have been taking me first north, and then south. Time travelling through a multitude of episodes of the second season of Outlander, this favorite series of mine. Season one is my absolute favorite, and I recently viewed it yet again, for the umpteenth time. In season two, which I just finished re-watching, there’s more sadness, more sorrow, more darkness. A series worthwhile watching, definitely. Especially if you, like I, have a taste for the ways of the past. A few weeks ago I watched the third season for the first time, and now, that I’ve finished re-watching season one and two, I will revisit the third season once more. I already look forward to it, a smile not far from that of the Cheshire cat upon my face.

Season 1, episode 9 The Reckoning

Season 1, episode 9 The Reckoning

Nowadays it’s easy for me to experience the full spectrum of available emotions, from deep love, to the most wondrous joy, to dark despair and heartwrenching sorrow. Place me in front of a clip from Britain’s got talent, and I cry my eyes out – from joy, from pride, from the nerves so visibly strung, sometimes breaking, sometimes making the sweetest art. So watching Outlander most definitely has me on an emotional rollercoaster, let me tell you. And I love it. As I get to f e e l.

I am not afraid of feeling, of experiencing emotions, from the darkest to the lightest. I relish in it. In the experience. In having my heart constrict along with my throat as my eyes well up… to laughing out loud revelling in the humor of the moment at hand… to sensing my blood heat up and rush to erogenous zones spread out across my body as I watch a hand stroke a thigh, a chest, a breast; as two mouths meet up in a kiss, be it soft and tender, or hungry and desperate for more.

I know it will pass, as all emotions, feelings and sensations do – but as they pass through me, I get to f e e l them. And the more I enjoy the actual feeling of them all, the less afraid I am of experiencing whatever feeling comes to pass. It enriches my life, making it easier for me to acknowledge what I feel as I feel it, to stand up for myself and what I sense, while at the same time, not take myself too seriously.

Because that is not a contradiction – feeling it all, all the while not taking myself seriously -, though I fear many believe it is? I know the sensation in the moment will pass, and my old-time companion – the query “Is this serving me?” – helps me to act when it does serve me to, and to refrain from acting when it doesn’t. Except for then I say bugger all, and act full well knowing it is not serving me (whatever it might be!), just because I stubbornly want to. Deliberate and intentional, not blaming my actions on anyone but myself. Taking full responsibility, knowing full well, that no one else can make me feel anything, that’s my prerogative, solely.

So.
Time travel is up, for now.
The train rolled in to Malmö Central, I got off and got on my bike, and am now plonked in ”my spot” on my sofa, with Pop the cat cuddled up beside me, the soft and melodious sounds of
Myrra Ros accompanying me as I finish writing this.

Long. Rambling.
Not especially coherent.
As blog posts go, far from a master piece of mine.

Don’t really give a hoot though.

Getting back on track with daily blogging will likely have me ship stuff, that could – should? – be improved upon. But hey – sometimes there’s a point to that as well. In Lund there’s even a museum dedicated to it, a museum of sketches, called the Museum of Artistic Process and Public Art. I’ve never been there. Think I might go visit it soon. Get inspired by watching ”the birth of a work of art”, as the founder of the museum intended.

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From me to me

January 31, 2018
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from me to meThe other day I took part in a conversation amongst precious souls, my circle of Camp fire sisters, that meet up about once a month over Skype. As always, deep connection took place, as we each shared what wanted to be heard.

Afterwards, Mayke sent us all this amazing piece of writing, spurred on by the virtual camp fire-conversation. I asked her if she could not release this text into the world, and if she didn’t have a place for that, that I’d love to feature her as a guest blogger here. So, without further ado, I give you:

From me to me, by Mayke Vullings

Some words, from me to me:

Today I am

In a child’s carousel

Twirling around in endless circles

The laughter long gone

Loudspeakers on full force

Bombarding my ears

With questions I cannot answer

Shouting my inadequacies for everyone to hear

Blocking deep truth I lost touch with

I am lost

In thoughts who keep me prisoner

Dictating a perspective

That leaves no space to breath

Now frantically looking for a way out

 

My friend whispers: that is the way in

Become your own Mum

Force yourself up

And go to the stove

Heat the water

Pour yourself a hot cup of tea

Sit down wrap your hands around the cup

Follow the steam with your eyes

As thoughts vapouring in thin air

walk to the couch

Cuddle into a blanket

Next to you a bottle of silence,

Your glasses and a good book to read

Breathing, breathing

Staying on this island as long as you need

 

Somewhere in the room

You know for sure –

are your ballet shoes

patiently waiting for your return

to step into

start dancing your life

again & again & again

recognizing yourself in the now

for who you truly are.

 

Amsterdam, 29th of January 2018

Mayke

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