Monthly Archives December 2018

Advent Calendar 17 – Putting a spin on things

Advent Calendar 17 – Putting a spin on things

December 17, 2018
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Selling.

In Sweden, the land of the Jante-law, there isn’t anything quite as bad as selling. The image of a slick used car-dealer comes to mind, a lowlife, busy talking, never listening, wanting to trick me into buying a cheap car for more than it’s worth…

As I am self-employed since October of 2007, selling is a vital part of my professional life. If I didn’t “sell myself and my competence”, I would not be able to continue to be self-employed. It just wouldn’t work. But the inner resistance to selling has been massive, let me tell you.

So when I heard from someone that selling isn’t about tricking people into buying stuff they don’t really need, it’s about inviting people to look at something that I have found provides value to me something shifted within! All of a sudden, instead of selling being hard, uncomfortable, and something I wasn’t really proud of doing, there was a free-flowing energy, champagne bubbles and a playfulness in its place. From this viewpoint – selling is like asking someone to dance. I get a Yes or a No, and either way, I know what my next step will be; Either I start to dance, or I move on to the next person, inviting them to dance with me.

Both these viewpoints on selling are simply stories I’m telling myself. Neither is Truth. Both are opinions. The GPS-facts of a sale concern a transaction between two (or more) parties. The negative and the positive spin I put on that fact, is my opinion on it. So, why choose to put a spin on selling which doesn’t serve me (making me feel like a slick car salesman, pushing you into a sale), instead of a spin which does serve me (Wanna dance? Yes? Whoop! Great, let’s dance! No? Whoop, great, thanks for telling me! I’ll ask the next one in line to dance.)?

And selling is, of course, but one of all the words, actions and activities I am involved with, where I place opinions on a fact that might or might not serve me. The more aware I get about this, the better choices I can make!


Advent Calendar 2018 – number 17 of 24 – on the theme of being gentle.

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Advent Calendar 16 – To “bumblebee”

December 16, 2018
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A bumblebee is called humla in Swedish. I made a verb out of that many years ago, “att humla” i.e. “to bumblebee”. It sounds a bit weird in English, but I kinda like it.

“To bumblebee” means to go from one person to another, picking up little nuggets of wisdom, and sharing bits of that which I had previously picked up, moving on, and sharing more, just like a bumblebee flying from one flower to another gathering and giving pollen along the way. Connecting people, spreading a wider understanding and knowledge of who we are and what we know.

I toyed with the idea of putting bumblebee on my business card, as my title. I never did though, and now it’s too late as I never use business cards anymore. But I haven’t given up on bumblebeeing. I do it quite often. Sharing. Receiving. Getting and giving new perspectives and thoughts. It’s a big part of my growth, my expansion. As a person. Learning from my own experiences and insights, as well as from others, helping me grow and expand as a human being.


Advent Calendar 2018 – number 16 of 24 – on the theme of being gentle.

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Thinking, Fast and Slow (book 25 of 26)

December 16, 2018
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Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman is not an easy read. It’s not an impossibly hard read either. But sure, it’s not a book one breezes through in a day or two, at least not me. And yet, that’s almost what I made myself do, as I had my Sunday deadline, and had only gotten about 20% of the book read earlier in the week.

“You think with your body, not only with your brain.”

Kahneman won the Nobel prize of Economics in 2002 for the discovery he writes about in Thinking, Fast and Slow, describing the two different sets of “systems” in our brains, causing us to think fast (most of the time) and slow (as little as possible, from what I gather) when (fairly) appropriate.

“‘Risk’ does not exist ‘out there’, independent of our minds and culture, waiting to be measured. Human beings have invented the concept of ‘risk’ to help them understand and cope with the dangers and uncertainties of life. Although these dangers are real, there is no such thing as ‘real risk’ or ‘objective risk’.” – Paul Slovic

When I posted a blurb on Facebook about having 40% of reading left in this book, I got a comment from a friend stating “Haha. The book that most people never finish. Me included.” and I completely understand. I admit, that this is one of those books that I would have stopped reading was it not for my reading challenge. The first part is super-interesting, but parts of part two, three and four are a bit heavy, I have to say.

“To think clearly about the future, we need to clean up the language that we use in labeling the beliefs we had in the past.”

I had no problem finding lots of passages from the book to share, and there are plenty more where these came from. But still, unless you are really nerdy about the brain and behavior, I bet you can find a great video on You Tube explaining the concepts of Kahneman in 10-15 minutes or so. (Just did a quick search on YT. Yes. You can. Better bet than picking up a copy of the actual book.)

“Optimism is normal, but some fortunate people are more optimistic than the rest of us. If you are genetically endowed with an optimistic bias, you hardly need to be told that you are a lucky person – you already feel fortunate. An optimistic attitude is largely inherited, and it is part of a general disposition for well-being, which may also include a preference for seeing the bright side of everything. If you were allowed one wish for your child, seriously consider wishing him or her optimism. Optimists are normally cheerful and happy, and therefore popular; they are resilient in adapting to failures and hardships, their chances of clinical depression are reduced, their immune system is stronger, they take better care of their health, they feel healthier than others and are in fact likely to live longer.”

The part about optimism I find really interesting because based on the experience I have of living life as Helena, I’ve changed from being a pessimist to becoming an optimist. I even have a hard time spending time with die-hard pessimists nowadays… So I don’t know about the genetic disposition? Or perhaps, that’s just one way of being a fortunate optimist, the other is by intentionally deciding to become one?

“Some experimenters have reported that an angry face ‘pops out’ of a crowd of happy faces, but a single happy face does not stand out in an angry crowd. The brains of humans and other animals contain a mechanism that is designed to give priority to bad news.”

Given the way we (modern human beings) live our life, I dare say being aware of this negativity bias is a really good idea, also because of the focusing illusion: “Any aspect of life to which attention is directed will loom large in a global evaluation. This is the essence of the focusing illusion, which can be described in a single sentence: Nothing in life is as important as you think it is when you are thinking about it.”

Or the way I usually express it: we get more of that which we focus on. So be mindful of what you think about!


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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Advent Calendar 15 – It’s on me!

December 15, 2018
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I screwed up.

The screw up has consequences, for me as well as others, involving time, effort and money.

And it’s on me. I take full responsibility for it because I screwed up.
Of course, I could blame other people. For not being more observant. For not informing me. For whatever…

But I don’t. It’s on me.
I wasn’t observant enough. I didn’t ensure I was informed enough.
It’s. On. Me.

And guess what?
That feels good.
Taking responsibility for what I did, feels great, actually.

And it also helps me to accept what has happened. Thereby I avoid wasting my energy on banging myself over the head for what I did. Thoughts like You dumb idiot, Helena, how stupid you are? Why on earth didn’t you stop this from happening? pop into my head, sure. But why waste time and energy entertaining this and similar thoughts? Thoughts that don’t serve me or anyone else, in any way, what so ever. Because it has happened. I cannot undo it, however much I try.

I can learn from it though. Take steps to ensure it will not happen again. Cast a wider net on the screw up; perhaps my learnings from today can be utilized in other types of situations?

All in all, accepting and taking responsibility for what happened, it is the most gentle thing I can do.


Advent Calendar 2018 – number 15 of 24 – on the theme of being gentle.

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Advent Calendar 14 – Caressed by life

December 14, 2018
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Caressed by life. 

The words popped into my mind as I was brushing my teeth this morning.
I feel caressed by life, and it’s the most wondrous of feelings.

Before brushing my teeth, I had already had a morning of letting come whatever wanted to come. Woke early, rearing to go. Settled into bed with pen and paper, and started to let words flow. Idea upon idea bubbled out of me; an explosion of creativity, captured on paper.

Went for a run, before heading into town for a creative meeting at Caspian’s invitation. A lovely meeting, making me tug at the bit, wanting to continue the exploration that we started today. At the end of the meeting, Caspian asked us for our take-away’s from the meeting. I couldn’t contain myself, blurting out I have just realized that I truly have a lot to contribute. I know stuff, have experiences and wisdom worth sharing, and I want to share it!

With another two meetings – as wonderful as my morning meetings (including the one with myself and my bubbling idea-volcano) and totally different at the same time! – during the afternoon, I’ve had a rich day. And I feel rich. Caressed by life!


Advent Calendar 2018 – number 14 of 24 – on the theme of being gentle.

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Advent Calendar 13 – Take good care of yourself

December 13, 2018
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If I don’t take care of me, who will?

No one. That’s who.

So the job falls on me – which is just the way I want it. It has me taking charge of my life, ensuring I get what I need. Enough sleep. Plenty of movement and exercise. Daylight! Friendship and love. Mental challenges. Being meticulous with what I ingest – not just food and drink. Mental ingestion is as important, if not more… That’s why I stopped watching news on the telly, twenty years ago. I have recently decided to stop subscribing to my morning newspaper. And I stopped reading crime novels and thrillers 5-7 years ago or so, but not because I don’t like them. I do. I did. There are some extremely skilled authors in this genre. But I simply did not want to fill my mind with horror and terror. So I stopped.

Perhaps that’s an idea for you to try as well? Or not?
Because even though I believe our basic needs are more or less the same, the How of them can vary greatly! And if you don’t try different things on – how will you know?

Yesterday I worked all day, then went to the silent after work, and straight from there to social lindy hop dancing organized by Cat’s corner at Moriskan… and guess what? Giving myself a few hours of swing music (put a tune on, and see if you can keep from smiling and tapping your feet, wanting to daaaaance?! I can’t!), dancing this coolest of dances, and being surrounded by other smiling people. What a treat, for me! And who knows, maybe you’d love lindy hop as well?!

If you take good care of you. And I take good care of me.
Then I can be my best me when we meet.
And you can be your best you.
Imagine the quality of the us we create between us then…

Doesn’t get much better than that, does it?


Advent Calendar 2018 – number 13 of 24 – on the theme of being gentle.

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Advent Calendar 12 – To try new things with a curious mind

December 12, 2018
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To try new things, with a curious mind – what a gift that is. To me. For everything I try, I can stop to think I might like it, or not. Because I know, since I have tried it. I’ve just given myself one of these gifts, having just attended my first ever silent after work – two hours of complete silence, sitting, standing, lying down, in a room with others, and the possibility to have a cup of tea or a sip of water. Two hours went by much faster than expected. And it felt really good. Perhaps because I’ve befriended Silence? My old self, the one with the extremely harsh inner dialogue, wasn’t all that thrilled about silence, as it made the harshness so much more apparent and obvious. But nowadays, with my gentle and curious inner dialogue, I have gotten to love silence. And new stuff as well.

Because the two go together.

I mean – silence and trying new stuff go together with respect to my changed inner dialogue. As you might imagine, having a harsh inner dialogue isn’t the best encourager of trying new things… dreading the response from within if I would fail (How stupid you are Helena! Did you really think you could do that?), or not like it (Come off it Helena, stop wasting your time on stupid things like this!) or any other discouraging response you could think of.

There’s also something special about firsts. So my first silent after work deserves a bit of special attention simply because it is a first. When my eldest child was born, and I was a single mom, I missed having someone to share all of my child’s firsts with. So I created an email list of everyone that I cared of – and I shared with them all, whenever there was something special. And often, when there wasn’t anything special as well – simply for the joy of sharing our day with others.

Since then, I’ve been extra attentive to firsts of all kinds. The first snow of the year. The first spring flower of the year. The first time visiting a new country, eating a new dish, trying something new and so on. There are so many firsts available for us, and I enjoy celebrating them, in one form or another. Just for the fun of it.


Advent Calendar 2018 – number 12 of 24 – on the theme of being gentle.

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Advent Calendar 11 – I was the most negative person I knew

December 11, 2018
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I have been the most negative person I knew.

For real.

The shift came about when I was nine months pregnant with my first child, when my then-husband called to break up with me. I was shaken, understandably, but at the same time took the opportunity to ask do you like who you are Helena? I also dared answer, truthfully, and the answer was heck no. I am so fed up being me!

Because I did hate. Or rather, I used the word hate. Possibly what I intended was disliked, but the word I used was h a t e. And it’s a word I am extremely restrictive with today. I can’t even say that I know there’s anything I hate, honestly. Hate takes a lot of energy. And I don’t want to put my energy on to that which I don’t want more of. I would much rather put my energy on that which I do want to see more of.

It is also very powerful for me to state this:
I have been and no longer am the most negative person I know! 

Once in a while, I do fall into negativity. Of course. I am human.
But it’s hard for me – truly hard – to remain negative for long. I simply cannot stay there. My mind automatically starts to look at what-ever-is-the-issue-at-hand from different perspectives, making it impossible to stay negative. Guess three times if I prefer being the most negative person in the world, or the opposite?


Advent Calendar 2018 – number 11 of 24 – on the theme of being gentle.

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Advent Calendar 10 – Close your eyes

December 10, 2018
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I blogged about the heightened sensations I experience when I close my eyes, in September 2013. Since then, I close my eyes more and more. When I sing with my choir, when I listen to a podcast, when I do my daily morning exercise or put a freshly-picked raspberry from the garden in my mouth. When I take a shower, dance to a favorite song, hug someone. Meeting life with closed eyes increases my awareness of the present moment (which is what life is. A moment of Now, replaced by a new moment of Now, and so on…).

Funnily enough, the other day I listened to a lecture on “The brain – what everyone should know” by Anna Tebelius Bodin, and she chocked me when she informed me that the brain receives 11 million inputs… per second! A ridiculous amount of inputs, and 10 million of these come from the eyes. (Valid for me as a seeing person. Someone who lacks eye sight have compensated and receives a larger part of their inputs from the other senses.) So when I close my eyes, it’s no wonder that the inputs from other senses get more attention.

I don’t know why, really, but in some instances, it is easier for me to say YES with my eyes closed. With eyes open, it’s easier for the brain to get engaged, to rationally think, to let my intellectual abilities be acting gate keeper. With eyes closed, the rest of me, my body and spirit, have a greater chance to be in on the decision.

Like my stints of digital sabbat makes me more grateful to be “back on my devices”, when I close my eyes, I experience more. Or perhaps just different?


Advent Calendar 2018 – number 10 of 24 – on the theme of being gentle.

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Advent Calendar 9 – Dream!

December 9, 2018
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Do you dream?
And more importantly, do you act on your dreams?

To dream is important. And sadly, I think there are a lot of people who don’t dare to dream… or perhaps rather don’t act on making dreams come true, whether or not they are big or small dreams. (It doesn’t matter if your dreams are big or small. As long as you dream.)

And I do think that is sad, because most of us, who have the type of life I do, live lives of such comfort and safety, that dreaming and acting upon our dreams is definitely something for us to do. There are many others, who actually have a much harder time to dream, who perhaps don’t even know how to. But that is far from my reality. I am a citizen of one of the most rich countries of the world, I own a company, have a house, a family and the Swedish social security system to back me up. That is my reality. And likely your reality is akin to mine, where you are not struggling to survive on a daily basis.

So. Dream. And act on it. Try, rather thank think you can, or cannot. And why not use design thinking, where you iterate loops of planning – doing – analyzing – tweaking and then starting over again. Rather than try to eat the elephant whole, go at it in smaller pieces, starting with a tail or an ear. Bite-sized actions, taking steps towards achieving your dreams. That’s what it means to live, rather than to be in survival mode.

I mean… what have you got to loose by acting upon your dreams?


Advent Calendar 2018 – number 9 of 24 – on the theme of being gentle

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