Monthly Archives January 2020

The Swan Thieves (book 1 of 12)

The Swan Thieves (book 1 of 12)

January 30, 2020
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“It was as if he simply did not know how not to be himself, and I felt his selfhood go down through me like lightning–I who doubted and second-guessed and analyzed every second of my own life.”

Started reading one of the books on my reading challenge… but was somehow drawn to pick up The Swan Thieves by Elisabeth Kostova instead. And why resist? If a book is calling to me, why not go with the flow?

“But most women were remarkably strong, I’d always thought; those who healed themselves were full of a deeper life afterward.”And how I loved this book. Thick, deliciously thick; weaving together now with then, through the eyes of not one, not two, but many more. Once I finished it, I gave the book 5 stars on Goodreads, only to have my eyes fall upon a couple of reviews by other readers. Some low ratings, and then, a very interesting 4- or 5-star review saying something along the lines of understanding the low ratings, as “nothing really happens” in the book. That got me thinking… and I agree. It is a very slow novel, with a lot of technicalities into the art of painting, about colors and brush-technique and fading light… and yet. What I love about it is just that. I am given a glimpse into the ordinary day-to-day-life of not just the main character, but of his wife, his psychiatrist, his art student, and of others, such as not just one, but at least two, and in a sense, even three artists, of a century long since passed.

Then there are the beautiful passages that I’ve marked.
And others that I simply let enter me as my eyes gently span page after page, sentence after sentence.

I love how I can find a sentence or two, or longer passages, that speak to me, in basically any book I read. Speak to my sense of aesthetics, curiosity, to my longing for romance, love, human touch. Sometimes making me connect dots to other books, other pieces of fact, of questions or ponderings I have. Sometimes tapping into my sense of justice, outrage; making me cry, laugh, strive to do, to be, better at being me, of letting more of me out, refraining from holding myself back.

“It’s a shame for a woman’s history to be all about men–first boys, then other boys, then men, men, men. It reminds me of the way our school history textbooks were all about wars and elections, one war after another, with the dull periods of peace skimmed over whenever they occurred. […] I don’t know why women so often tell stories that way, but I guess I’ve just started to do the same thing myself […].”

The Swan Thieves is a story of strength. Of skill and talent.
Of love, of sleuthing, of daring to live. Or not.
Of hope. Longing. Courage.

“Aren’t there things greater than public censure, things that ought to be attempted and cherished?”

Yes.
There is.
And to do so requires me to be me. And you to be you.


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2020, to read and blog monthly about 12 Swedish and 12 English books, books that I already own.

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What is it you found so funny?

January 19, 2020
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What is it you find so funny, the man in the car asked, as he stuck his head out the open window by the driver’s seat.

What he wondered about was me and my three friends, busy taking pictures of a dilapidated shed, locked down, closed, with no activities anywhere near it.

The name, we said, and he nodded.

The name was God’s favour cafe, and the shed might have been three times three meters, the front of the building (if it can be called a building? What is the actual definition of a building, I wonder…) painted a lovely turquoise color, and above the sturdy (?) and padlocked door, handpainted: God’s favour cafe.

I’d seen the shed the day before when we arrived at the Ideal Palace Hotel in Mwingi, while visiting tree plantations, partner farmers and a microfinance institute supported by my savings in trees, in the rural areas of Kenya, NorthEast of Nairobi. I’d seen it, and a bunch of other absolutely hilarious and funny and often surprisingly witty and imaginative names, on everything from hardware stores (Paradise Hardware), to hotels about the size of God’s favour cafe, like Glorious Hotel, making me wonder where potential guests stay. Perhaps room only for one guest?

Tipsy Wines & Spirits. Investment City. New Age Electricals. Plan B Bar & Restaurant. Grace of God shop.

So many wonderful names, spotted off the side of the road, as I crisscross the countryside by bus. Too quick for me to manage to snap photos of them all, which somewhat takes away part of the full experience of the combination of these glorious names with the buildings themselves.

So while on foot in Mwingi, me snapping a picture of God’s favour cafe was a given.

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Why hold back?

January 10, 2020
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Why hold back?

Let those tears flow. Freely.

Tears of joy. Of sorrow. Of gratitude. Of despair. Of fond memories. Of all that is and has been. Of all that never was and never will be. 

Here I am. On the train. Watching an episode from the third season of I am Anne (of Greengables) on Netflix and I am letting those tears flow. Freely. Because why not? What do I care if others think me odd or weird? I don’t. 

What is it to me if others think me brave for showing my emotions (without drama. No intrusion unto others bar the fact that I may be sniveling a wee bit, dabbing my eyes dry now and again)? A gift. From me. 

What do I care that I will be going to work with slightly puffed eyes? Well. I don’t. I am human. And proud of it. What better way to show my humanity than letting my tears flow in a moment when tears are what I have, what I am?

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Big love-meditation

January 9, 2020
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A friend asks me how to be a support to someone close, in dire need of just that. It reminds me of the Big love-meditation my coach Carla gave me in the fall of 2014. I practiced it for months on end and remember–now that I look back at it–on how great it felt to start every day with five minutes of channeling love to myself and my nearest family.

This was my set up:

Minute one: Channeling the love of the universe to me, letting it fill me. 

Minute two: Channeling the love of the universe to my loved one, letting it fill me.

Minute three: Channeling the love of the universe to my oldest child, letting it fill me.  

Minute four: Channeling the love of the universe to my youngest child, letting it fill me. 

Minute five: Channeling the love of the universe to the family, to us all, to our relationships, letting it fill me. 

No expectations on anyone or anything. Just do it.

Try it. Replace my set up with whatever suits your specific situation, and try it. Five minutes… less, or more, depending on the number of people dear to your heart, to include in your Big love-meditation.

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Follow up – December 2019 – As I am.

January 7, 2020
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I intend to go through my intentions for the year at the end of each month. This gives me a monthly reminder of my intentions as well as ample space for reflection and possible adjustment.

December. The time of Advent, Christmas, New Year’s. A month filled with all sorts of undertakings, a new job assignment taking off properly in conjunction with other assignments to put to rest over the holidays.

2019. The year when I will…

* have my bodily wellbeing in focus by:

  • continuing with my daily Seven accompanied by burpees: ✅
  • Headspace Meditate daily: ✅ 159 days with Wim Hof deep breathing.
  • run a minimum of  75 runs –> run-when-I-feel-like-it-intention: Not even once.
  • take cold (outdoors) baths as often as I can – and add to this by taking cold showers: Finishing off strong with 8 days of colkd bathing in a row, and with a total of 13 cold baths (or showers) in December.
  • dance Lindy hop as often as I can (taking a class during the spring, and then there’s the social dancing as well!): No dancing in December, but have been accepted to the D-class beginning in February.
  • continuing to ride my bike and walk as much as possible: walked 55 and biked barely 400 kilometers. 77 days with “at least 10 kilometers in my body” at that!

* have my mental and spiritual wellbeing in focus by:

  • reading at least 75 books, of which 12 in Swedish and 12 in English already have been chosen. These 12 + 12 I will be blogging about: When December came aknocking on my door, I had ten books left to read, which honestly gave me a bit of a fright… but, I made it, amongst other things thanks to finding a few classics as audiobooks on Spotidy to listen to. 76 books under my belt in the goodreadschallenge for 2019. I also managed to finish my twelweth Swedish book Du sköna nya värld (book 12 of 12 in Swedish) as well as the remaining two English ones Homo Deus (book 11 of 12) and Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View (book 12 of 12).
  • learn at least five songs by heart including lyrics on the guitar, which will be made possible by my aim at ten minutes of guitar playing on a daily basis: Have played every day, for a total of 67 days in a row.
  • I will let the wonderful book The book of Awakening by Mark Nepo be my daily companion: Yes! The book is finished, and I even brought it on my New Year’s retreat in the woods outside Motala.
  • hold digital 24-hour sabbats at least twice a month: In December I held two digital sabbats, on 13-14th and 24-25th.

* have creation in focus by:

  • booking at least four two-day writing retreats during the year: These are the dates: 13-14 September, 28-28 October, 11-12 November, 9-10 December. Here I am, in the forest outside Motala, not really writing anything more than the usual ”fare the well” and ”welcome” blog posts for the year that has passed and the year that is commencing. But on the other hand I am writing them. And on a spiritual level, it’s most definitely a retreat well worth its weight in gold, thanks to my wonderful friends C and D.
  • keeping up with daily Facebook Lives for as long as there’s energy in doing it:
  • blog daily: YES! I was in a dismay after November, but on the first of Advent, I came up with the idea to do an English Advent Calendar here, with images and stories from my trip to Kenya, and since then I just kept going, so I’ve actually blogged every day in December.
  • start to pod: I recommend that you check out the pod Fria Barn (in Swedish), and wait until January for the other pod I am a part of. When it comes to Doing gentle with an edge I will simply have to get back on track in 2020.
  • release (at least) 4 e-books in 2019: There is a started ebook on my computer, but nothing else has happened.

* have financial husbandry in focus by:

  • sowing, sowing and sowing a little bit more; on a weekly basis intentionally work on my various income streams: ✅
  • keep tabs on my set invoicing goal on a monthly basis: ✅I reached my set goals in January, March, August, October, November and in December! Whoop! Did not in February, April, May, June, July or September.
  • keep an accounts book on private income and expenses: Remains to be done for December, but I will. 

And finally – on all levels – experiment and play, experience pleasure and exploring and challenging myself, all the while being gentle to myself: A month with the Advent calendar here that’s been very rewarding for me, a way to revisit my summer trip to Kenya. My youngest surprised me with making home made ravioli, while the oldes has been a sheer joy to have at home (imagine, a kid who helps around the house without any nudges. If ever there’s proof for a kid being ready to leave the nest, that’s it!). Wonderful nature experiences, with cold baths as well as ocean- and forest walks, the Stina Wollter-exhibition in Borstahusen with Heléne, and a lovely Christmas holiday. And to top it all off, a retreat in the woods outside Motala with C and D. What a lovely month!

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12 English books to read in 2020

January 4, 2020
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Third time’s a charm, so here I go, having chosen a given number of books in English and Swedish books I had at home around New Year’s, to read and blog about in 2020. Besides this sub-challenge, my overall reading challenge for 2020 is to read (a minimum of) 65 books, and you can tag along on my reading journey over on my Goodreads-profile.

Tess sent me the Wolves-book that I am really looking forward to reading, Goldratt and Mathiesssen have warmed my bookshelves for decades, Pernilla lent me the Buddhist book, Caspian the Pooh-book, and at least another three of them (Schulz, Eker and Priestley; possibly Friedman too?) have also been gifted to me. Anderson, Kostova and Liedman are books I’ve bought second hand (even though they are in more or less pristine condition).

Have you read any of the books above, and if so, what did you think of it/them?

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2020 – with my body in focus

January 1, 2020
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These past years, the intention of the coming year has come to mind around New Years, when I’ve been busy gathering my thoughts on the experiences of the year past, high’s and low’s alike, to sum up, and clean my slate for what is to come. The intention for 2020 came to me a couple of months ago, when I, in a moment of total clarity, just knew that it is with my body in focus that I will start off the new decade.

With my body in focus Is as yet undefined. I will not write a detailed list of exactly what I will be doing this year, like a minimum of x runs/bike trips/swims/walks/gym sessions per week/month/year and so on. No. Not like that. Because I do not know. Instead, I will play around with my body as the theme, the challenge is (being gentle with myself, not to worry about that) to develop more strength, suppleness, endurance. I want to better my ability to stand on one leg, to squat, to get a stronger and supple back that can sleep in beds not my own without causing me pain, want to be able to do proper and more sit-ups and push-ups, chin-ups och pull-ups, want to build strength and movement in my feet and get rid of the big toe joint pains I suffer since biking into a rock foot first, November 2018. I will dance lindy hop as much and often as I can, both taking classes and attending social dance’s, and more than anything, I will take regular movement-breaks when I do what I am doing right now: sitting in front of the computer.

Last year’s intention As I am was easy to follow up on a monthly basis, precisely because I’d written it so detailed and specific. Even though this intention is far from just that, I still want to commit to a monthly follow up on with my body in focus because it’s such a good way to keep the intention top of mind. I will surely reflect on the actual facts of what I’ve done each month, the number of kilometers on my bike and on foot I’ve been logging since September 2009, so that type of data (and habit!) is easily accessible. But I want to compliment my monthly reflections with what I experience, the feelings the theme awakens within, the differences I observe and what it means to me.

So.
With my body in focus, I start 2020 by taking a walk down to lake Boren for the first cold bath of the year as well as the decade.

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