Author Archives Helena Roth

Friction

Friction

August 20, 2019
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Synchronicity. Around… Friction.

On Akimbo.
In a conversation with D and C, a conversation you just might be privy to listening in on one of these days.
With my campfire sisters, as well as in my reflection with D on that conversation we had.

And now.
As my final words of the third Mastermind-session (of 13 total) that we just wrapped up, me and my four participants.

Friction.
It makes the world move.
Without friction. No cars. No bikes. No nothing really.

We would possibly be sliding around haphazardly… might be fun. But it’s not what we have. Because we do have friction.

We even have two kinds.
There’s friction. And then there’s Friction with a capital F. Life-giving. The Friction that makes me grow, rather than just wear me down.

There’s form. And the formless.
For some, oh it’s a stretch to conform to form. Rules. Boundaries. That’s where the friction is at. Play with it. Work it. Use it. See what happens within the form.

For some, so the opposite. The formless, the vast expanse of endless possibilities. Nothing to hang onto, no given starting point. That’s where the friction is at. So play with that. Work it. Use it. See what happens within the formless.

Dance between them.
The Friction and the Frictionless. Between that which is such a stretch and that which is easypeasy.

As you dance – the event horizon for you and your relationship with the form and the formless will shift. Transform. Expand, ever onwards. Might it even constrict?

Yeah. I think it just might. And then… another transformation. Something born, which was always and already there, within you, you just had never opened that specific door within before.

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The Underground Railroad (book 8 of 12)

August 18, 2019
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I remember seeing a blurb of The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, most likely in 2017 when the book and its author was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It hooked me and I put the book in my Want-to-read-list on Goodreads. So I bought it. That’s not so common after all, I am an avid lover of library books, I am proud to say!

But I am glad I did buy it. If nothing else because I now have a great book to gift to someone, because it is truly a worthwhile read.

“She was a stray after all. A stray not only in its plantation meaning – orphaned, with no one to look after her – but in every other sphere as well. Somewhere, years ago, she had stepped off the path of life and could no longer find her way back to the family of people.”

It’s imaginative, the way Colson spins the underground railroad, transforming a historical phenomenon into something which makes my head spin. And he does it so skilfully I catch myself multiple times thinking this is really how it was done…

“Freedom was a thing that shifted as you looked at it, the way a forest is dense with trees up close but from outside, from the empty meadow, you see its true limits. Being free had nothing to do with chains or how much space you had. On the plantation, she was not free, but she moved unrestricted on its acres, tasting the air and tracing the summer stars. The place was big in its smallness. Here, she was free of her master but slunk around a warren so tiny she couldn’t stand.”

It’s a book of ups and downs.
Of friendships and fierceness, of horrors and hardships, of love, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

“To see chains on another person and be glad they are not your own – such was the good fortune permitted colored people, defined by how much worse it could be at any moment. If your eyes met, both parties looked away.”

Whenever I read or hear about the horrors that humans can inflict on other humans… I breakdown. Cry. I have a hard time to accept the things we do to each other, that are anything but kind. And this book… filled with “things we do to each other that are anything but kind”. And, luckily enough, not just that, though. The book leaves me with a sense of hope, strangely enough. Perhaps because things have changed. For the better. Far from good enough in many aspects, but better than it was in the times depicted so skilfully by Whitehead.


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2019, to read and blog about 12 Swedish and 12 English books, one every other week, books that I already own.

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Procrastinating. Again.

August 16, 2019
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Am procrastinating. Again. And it bugs me.

So not only am I not doing that which I want to want to do (apparently I don’t, or else I would be doing it, right?), but I am also bugged at this fact, wasting an extra amount of energy on being irritated at that which I am not doing.

Geez.
What the f*ck is wrong with me?

Just do it.
Stop thinking about this or that.
Stop doing other sh*t, instead of that which I know in the long run definitely holds the most intrinsic value for me (and others!).

Just stop.

Or rather.
Just start.
Just do.

Now.
Not later.
Now.

(Ok. I read you. Signing off, to take action. On that which I want to do. Because I do! It’s just an excuse, just a ruse, me trying to play it small, avoiding going out on a limb simply because I do not know what it will become. I cannot know. No-one can. And that, in and of itself, is all the more reason to do it. Now. Bye!)

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On the fly

August 13, 2019
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Just finished my second Mastermind call, with the group I have initiated. Second one-hour call of a total of thirteen, running from August till the end of October, on a weekly basis. Four participants, and me as moderator.

The fun part is, I sent invitations for this Mastermind, on the fly. Dave the coach gave me a challenge to ”take action” during a coaching call early June, and this was what came to me: I want to start a Mastermind group for coaches and/or people interested in coaching.

When I sent out the email invites, then and there, I had nothing planned, except ”a three-month Mastermind”. I didn’t have a set starting date, no plan for content or anything really. Except, of course, six and a half years of being an active participant in my own Mastermind-group, which, as my wise friend Caspian pointed out, certainly means I am extremely grounded in the Mastermind concept as such. Had it been something which I have no experience or expertise in, I would not have made this type of invitation, that’s for sure.

So.
Just do it, on the fly.
Throw something out into the world.
Chances are (quite good actually) that if it’s something you have found value in – someone else will too.

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Data rights are human rights

August 11, 2019
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The Great Hack. On Netflix.

Jeez.

One of those documentaries I’d almost rather not have seen… because once seen, it’s hard to “unsee”.

Overall, I am public, I am not very considerate of my data. I put a lot of my faith of what is fair and reasonable when it comes to my data rights, to those who are technology and/or human rights and/or legal nerds in various ways, people who seem to be more wired for suspicion as well as being sticklers for the rules… but hey… After watching The Great Hack it is hammered home in no uncertain terms how extremely lazy that is of me.

It’s just… I feel so much better when I view the world from an advantage point of trust. I don’t want to turn into a person of distrust, again, as this is where I came from. The person I was before I made a huge personal transformation was as the most negative and mistrusting person I’ve ever known. And that person, I never want to become again. So how to reconcile the deliberately naive and trusting person that I am today, with the understanding that my data is most definitely for or against me, in ways I simply have no idea of. None. Nada. Zilch. How can that be done? Can it?

Our dignity as humans is at stake. But the hardest part in all of this is that these wreckage sites and crippling divisions begin with the manipulation of one individual. And another. And another. So I can’t help but ask myself: Can I be manipulated? Can you? David Carroll

 

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Streaks

August 8, 2019
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Seth Godin celebrates eleven years of daily blogging, quite an impressive daily runstreak I must admit. I am far from his caliber (in this, as well as in most – all? – things) but I am quite good at runstreaks myself. It’s soon seven years since I started my Swedish blog, and 6,5 years since I commenced my habit of daily blogging. Which I have not kept up as diligently as Seth, but still, in seven years I have published 2249 blog posts. 2250 with this one. And as I started my more-or-less daily blogging habit on January 23rd 2013, which is 2389 days ago, I have missed 139 days. In 6,5 years. Corresponds to roughly 5 %, which inversely means I’ve blogged just short of 95% of the days since then.

Cool.

Yet.
That wasn’t the point I aimed for.

Seth writes “Streaks require commitment at first, but then the commitment turns into a practice, and the practice into a habit. Habits are much easier to maintain than commitments.

He is so spot on here.

In another runstreak of mine I have managed to stick to the 100% daily drill – I did my 1817th Seven-morning workout today upon waking up. Monday August 18th 2014 I started, and since, I have not missed a single day. It’s evolved from being a commitment, which definitely along the way turned into a habit. One I do not question. It’s not a matter of IF I should do my morning Seven. I just do it. I have made the decision, and put it in the Decision Box, to use the words of my friend Caspian.

I made a decision on August 18th, 2014, to start (and finish) the Seven-month challenge that Perigee (the app-makers) promotes. Every day, I could have revisited that decision. But I didn’t, because I’d already made it. And needless to say, by the end of those seven months, I just kept going.

If nothing else, committing to a runstreak, honoring it and making it a practice, to be rewarded by it becoming a habit is energy conserving. I spent my energy d o i n g my morning workout, rather than debating with myself whether or not I should do it.

Now.
This might not work for everyone. At least not if the Four Tendencies come close to describing how people respond to inner and outer expectations. Needless to say, I am an Obliger. I do not question for a second that Seth Godin is one as well.

However. I firmly believe everyone can find ways of transforming commitments into habits. What’s your way to enable this type of transformation for you?

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Follow up – July 2019 – As I am.

August 5, 2019
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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.

July… a month spent travelling with everything that entails. Such as very little blogging!

2019. The year when I will…

* have my bodily wellbeing in focus by:

  • continuing with my daily Seven accompanied by burpees: ✅
  • Headspace daily: ✅
  • run a minimum of  75 runs –> run-when-I-feel-like-it-intention: My bigtoe joint is still acting up. Pains me. So I walk and ide my bike rather than jog.
  • take cold (outdoors) baths as often as I can – and add to this by taking cold showers: Cold showers rather than baths, as the water temperature is above my personally set limit (≤14 degrees).
  • dance Lindy hop as often as I can (taking a class during the spring, and then there’s the social dancing as well!): So far no Lindy hop-dancing this summer. Luckily I have signed up for the continuation class starting in September!
  • continuing to ride my bike and walk as much as possible: walked just short of 60 and biked a bit more than 240 kilometers.

* 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: Read 36/75 böcker. 7 books behind schedule, which is betetr than where I was at two weeks ago, when I was down by 11 books… Blogged about Clapton’s guitar – watching Wayne Henderson build the perfect instrument (book 7 of 12 in English) and the Swedish counterpart is Tankar för dagen, manual för ett snällare liv.
  • 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: Zero. Zero! Geez…
  • I will let the wonderful book The book of Awakening by Mark Nepo be my daily companion: My travels made me slip out of this habit, and I have yet to step into it fully again.
  • hold digital 24-hour sabbats at least twice a month: Digital sabbats on July 6-7 and 26-27. In Augusti I plan for the same on 2-3, 9-10, 16-17.

* have creation in focus by:

  • booking at least four two-day writing retreats during the year: pondering a few ideas about writing retreats, including the possibility of running a digital retreat? My ideas from January remain but I am starting to feel silly writing that. So perhaps I should just plan it? 12-13 September, 28-28 October, 11-12 November, 9-10 December. There. Done. Booked. The chance of these writing retreats actually happening just got a lot higher!
  • keeping up with daily Facebook Lives for as long as there’s energy in doing it: Have deliberately ended this suite of daily lives (in June), and hence I am removing it from my yearly intentions.
  • blog daily: It’s August and my vacation is over. So I step onboard this intention again, as of right now.
  • start to pod: Well, well, well. Borrowed the podstudio of my friend J and hance I have a 2 hour raw file to cut and produce. So there will be new episodes soon, count on it!
  • release (at least) 4 e-books in 2019: thoughts are swirling, nothing concretized as of yet. The chances of this happening might just have gotten better as well, given the fact that I have marked writing retreats in my calendar?

* 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 and March, not in February, April, May, June and July (the two latter not so surprising). Feels like an area to step up my game in!
  • keep an accounts book on private income and expenses: Have a bit of a backlog in my accounts book, I will get on it, I promise.

And finally – on all levels – experiment and play, experience pleasure and exploring and challenging myself, all the while being gentle to myself: July. Well. Me and the youngest one went to England with my mom and aunt to visit relatives and attend a lovely graduation celebration at St John’s. (Pop the cat got to stay at home, or rather, had his own vacation away from home.) Me and the young one then jumped on EuroStar to Brussels, took the train to The Hague (thanks a lot for your kindness and hospitality Vanessa!) and Amsterdam (dito Mayke!) before we got on a Flixbus back home. Took a swim in the North Sea, had a few lovely bike rides and I can warmly recommend Rembrandt’s House, what a lovely and perfectly sized museum! Once back home I had work waiting for me, although I must confess I haven’t worked full time precisely. But still! Lunch with family in Simrishamn, daCapo-party and helping with a move from Limhamn to Oxie, a podclub meetup on attachment theory, two CoachWalks and an assorted amount of hobnobbing at that.

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Earth Overshoot Day 2019

July 29, 2019
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Every year, the Earth Overshoot Day, i.e, the day when we (on a global scale, all of us, together) will have used more resources from nature than the earth can renew in the whole year. In 2019 that date is July 29. That would be today, as I am writing this.

However.
I live in Sweden. Our national overshoot day occurred April 3rd. To quote overshootday.org, the national overshoot day is the date “on which Earth Overshoot Day would fall if all of humanity consumed like the people in this country.”.

April 3rd.
Not a lot to be proud of there.

It’s tricky, though.
To mention something like this, and instill inspiration, hope, drive, and willpower in people – not always the outcome is it? More often it might result in resignation, a sense of impending doom and the common “there’s nothing I can do anyway, so why even try”.

The #movethedate-initiative of the Overshoot organization, a solutions platform intended to share solutions of various kinds as well as connect people with one another, feels especially relevant to counteract that. I hope, more than anything, that this is something that will be looked at by individuals, organizations, businesses, local communities and national governments alike. We need the policy-makers on board, just as we need me, and you, and everyone else on board. Together!

Because this seems true to me: it’s not a matter of One Thing that will “save the planet” as it were (which in and of itself is oxymoronic. It’s not the planet that’s at stake. It’s humanity. Will humans as a species survive, that’s what’s at stake. And a whole bunch of other species, for sure, animals and plants alike.). It’s not a question of either-or, it’s a matter of both and.

What can I do, or stop doing, in order to have an impact?
What can you do, or stop doing, in order to have an impact?
What can we, together, do, or stop doing, in order to have an impact?
What can the society we live in do, or stop doing, in order to have an impact?
What can we, humanity at large, do, or stop doing, in order to have an impact?

I don’t know about you, but off the top of my head I can come up with plenty of things to do, or stop doing, many of which I have already implemented, and my friends, neighbors, fellow citizens as well. We need to continue. I need to continue, doing that which I know has an impact. And I need to – but more importantly, want to! – continuously try on new things to do, or stop doing.

Plant trees. That’s one of the things I do and will continue doing because I know what a huge impact it has.

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Clapton’s guitar – watching Wayne Henderson build the perfect instrument (book 7 of 12)

July 28, 2019
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In 2015 I listened to a riff from Jonathan Fields on Good Life Project, telling a tale about one of Eric Clapton’s guitars. It must have stuck with me (things have a habit to do just that), because when I stumbled upon a book entitled Clapton’s guitar – watching Wayne Henderson build the perfect instrument, by Allen St. John, in a thrift shop in Karlskrona in 2018, I bought it. And now, in 2019, I’ve read it. And what a read it’s been!

There’s this one thing that fascinates me. Professionals. It doesn’t really matter what the profession is, but someone who’s a pro just gets me going. I’ve blogged (and vlogged) about a few of them; massage therapists, physiotherapists and chiropractors, train conductors and smartphone salesmen.

This book. It’s about a pro. Or rather, about pros. Not just the one. There are many a professional featured in this book, but more than anything, it’s about Wayne Henderson, a master acoustic guitar builder. A luthier.

“[…] Wayne Henderson is a genius. His brand of genius harks back to the word’s unsullied origins: the Roman term for ‘begetter’. In the days of Ceasar, a genius wasn’t something you were, it was something you had. A genius was a vaguely protective being like a guardian angel, but most of all this Roman version of a genius was a maker, a conjurer, a genie, who could create very real things out of thin air. And in that old-school sense of the word, Wayne Henderson has a certain genius, an ancient forest nymph that sits on his shoulders and whispers directions every time he picks up a piece of wood.”

And I love it. What a joy, a thrill, a treat, to read this book! I don’t understand the half of it, now and again, when it comes to the technical terms for all of the parts and steps that make up building a handcrafted acoustic guitar but it simply doesn’t matter. I am enraptured anyway.

“Every guitar has its own voice, an individual timbre that’s as distinctive as a human voice – there’s no doubt that some techie could program voice recognition software to respond to the idiosyncratic strum of a particular guitar. Where does this voice come from? In a way, it comes from God or Mother Nature or whatever name you choose to apply to those things we can’t quite fathom and can’t quite control.”

Part of what makes this book such a delight to read are the many characters that congregate in Hendersons guitar work shop. Allen St. John paints their portraits beautifully, and except for the lack of smells from working pieces of wood, I feel as if I am perched on a stool in that workshop, watching skilled hands do their thing, all the while the gentle banter flows back and forth, as jokes and stories are being told.

“‘Number 1 is the state of mind of the person building the guitar’.
I was stunned.
In a single sentence, he [T.J. Thompson] had articulated the hypothesis I had been gradually creeping toward. An instrument is the sum total of not only the builder’s experience, but his experiences. You need to be a good man to build a good guitar. 

[…]

‘When people ask me how to build a better guitar, I always think and sometimes say, ‘Be a better person.’ You can’t keep your personality out of the work. It’s impossible.'”

Those paragraphs from pages 224 and 225 (of my hardcover edition from free press) are part of the insight that Jonathan Field riffed about, and when I read it, I remembered that I had actually blogged about this specific thing. Something with it resonated with me, and I think, perhaps, because I’d like for it to be universally true. I am not sure it is, but I would sure like for it to be!


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2019, to read and blog about 12 Swedish and 12 English books, one every other week, books that I already own.

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Banker to the poor (book 6 of 12)

July 2, 2019
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Sitting at the airport in Nairobi, having just finished reading Banker to the poor by Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace prize winner in 2006. I selected this book very deliberately as I knew I would be visiting a microfinance bank in Kenya, during my trip to Kenya. I’ve done lots more while in Kenya (visiting tree plantations, partner farmers, the microfinance bank, the headquarters of Better Globe Forestry, as well as doing 24 hours of safari and a short stint at the silver beach of Malindi by the Indian Ocean) but having this book to accompany the visit of the Nguni/Mbuvu financial service association made for an enriched experience. The Better Globe Forestry-funded FSA in Nguni is called a village bank, where ”the locals obtain microfinance loans to improve their living standards and to better their economy”.

In conversation with Godemas Motemje, chairman of the Nguni/Mbuvu FSA and  Isabelle Saternus.

”Each person has tremendous potential. She or he alone can influence the lives of others within the communities, nations, within and beyond her or his own time.
Each of us has much more hidden inside us than we have had a chance to explore. Unless we create an environment that enables us to discover the limits of our potential, we will never know what we have inside of us.”

The book was first published in 1998 and a lot has happened since, Yunus himself being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for instance, but even more so, the continued spread of the concept of microfinance loans/banks has truly made a huge difference to the lives of many people across the globe.

Reading Banker to the poor makes me appreciate Yunus himself. He saw something, acted upon it, took notice of the results and their long-term effect, took it to another level – system-wide as well as conceptually – and doggedly kept at it. Did not leave it be, this newfound understanding of his, of the importance of credit. Especially to the poor. Or as he phrases it, to the poorest of the poor even, those without any chance of ever receiving a ”normal loan” from ”a normal bank” as they have absolutely nothing to put in as collateral.

”I also learned that things are never as complicated as we imagine them to be. It is only our arrogance which seeks to find complicated answers to simple problems.”

There’s a phrase I appreciate. Yes lives in the land of No. And boy, did Yunus ever receive his fair number of No’s, that’s for sure. It takes something special to keep on going, upon receiving No upon No upon No. And he did. So I figure, he must have known that Yes lives right there! Because it did. He did get the necessary amount of Yes:es. It took a while, but actually, the impact of Grameen bank (which is what Yunus micro-finance operations was named. Grumman means village.) has been huge. Much bigger than he started off thinking, I would presume. He did not stop when given excuse upon excuse why what he was proposing simply could not be done. It was ”too simple” in the eyes of many. But he – and those he managed to enroll in his vision – kept at it, kept believing and working for keeping it simple.

Is this ”the answer to all that ails the world”? No. But it sure makes a difference, especially to those who are far far away from ever taking a step into a world that, for me, is the normal one. The world where I can get a loan by walking into a bank. Because I do have collateral as safety. And yet – looking at it from a global perspective, what I deem normal, is far from just that, for a majority of people living on earth. Humbling insight, as the entire week-long visit to Kenya has proven to be for me.

”I now focused on the task of unlearning theory, and on learning instead from the real world. I did not have to travel miles to find the real world. It was just outside the doors of the classroom.
It was everywhere except inside the classroom.”

There will be more reflections on Banker to the poor in relation to what I learned while in Kenya in June of 2019. ”From the real world” as it were. A journey of eye-opening insights, as well as a deep appreciation for what I have, along with massive awe at the potential of humans.


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2019, to read and blog about 12 Swedish and 12 English books, one every other week, books that I already own.

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