Author Archives Helena Roth

Whatever happened to those 12 books?

Whatever happened to those 12 books?

January 15, 2021
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On January 4th, 2020, I posted a post on 12 English books to read in 2020. At the same time, I picked 12 books in Swedish ones too. This was the third time I chose a given set of books to read, as a way to actually read those unread books already in my possession.

For the first time, I did  n o t  follow through.

I read ten of the English, ten of the Swedish, leaving two + two unread, and those I just might donate/give away, because even though they spoke to me at the beginning of 2020, they sure didn’t for the duration of the year, and still don’t. On the other hand, two of the books I did read were really good, and I’ve already started to reread Women Who Run With the Wolves, because it is simply that good. Being Wrong is also a book I know I will reread in years to come.

Given how good I am at living up to internal (as well as external) expectations, you might be entertaining questions such as:

What happened to her, why didn’t she follow through?

She’s loosing it, isn’t she? I mean, she couldn’t even live up to this publicly displayed reading challenge. 

Or, for that matter, you might be thinking:

Oh. My. God. She’s human, after all! 

She must be feeling so upset at not living up to this promise!

The thing is, I neither feel I am loosing it, nor do I feel upset. Not even close. On the contrary.
My strong Upholder-tendency is simply being tempered, fine-tuned, used by me with more discernment, specifically what to let go of, even though it might be something that’s served me in the past. If it doesn’t any more, it’s Bye Bye! So if anything, that’s what happened.

The fact that I can temper this tendency, and that I should temper it, might be one of the more important lessons I grasped in 2020. So for this year, I haven’t, and won’t, do a repeat of this practice. I do have an intention to reread books in 2021 though, books that have made a big impact in me, for any number of reasons. And even though I shot way past my Goodreads reading challenge of reading 65 books last year (I read 88), I set the same target, 65 books in 2021.

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The Book of Awakening

January 2, 2021
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The Book of Awakening, a daybook to accompany you, providing comfort, beauty and tankespjärn, in the words of Mark Nepo. It’s been my more-or-less daily companion. During 2020. In 2019. And now and again, in 2018, when I believe I first picked it up.

It’s a beautiful book.
A quote followed by a text for each day of the year. These are what I’ve read. Over and over. The marginalia becoming more and more prevalent, for each pass. Exclamation marks. Stars. Hearts. Squiggly lines or arrows marking specific sentences/passages. A note, referring to a friend, a thought, another concept or book, dots my mind connected with whatever I was reading. 

At the end of each text, there’s a suggested action.
Almost always (always?) these are about connecting with Being. Looking within, with closed eyes. Or stepping out in Nature, connecting to a leaf, a flower bud, a puddle. Some are to be done in solitude, others with a partner, a friend, a relative or family member. Some can be done immediately. Others ask you to step out of wherever you are upon reading.
These, I’ve yet to dive into.
Fully.
I skim them, sometimes, many times simply flick my eyes across them, picking up a word, connecting to whatever the daily awakening has opened within me. 

I’ve decided I will pick another daily companion for the upcoming year, and yet. I know (Know) I will come back to The Book of Awakenings. This is a life-companion, and I know (Know) I will dive ever deeper the next time I choose this book to accompany me for a full year. Know that I will then, step more fully into the suggested actions/meditations/reflections/asks. 

Closing my eyes, listening to the quiet yet insisting voice within saying this could be a lovely morning ritual to share with someone. To take turns, reading, reflecting, sharing what stirs within and then, to do those actions, together. 

”Like most gifts, it is the passing of something meaningful between people that awakens us to our potential.” – Mark Nepo


Tankespjärn, for those who wish to discover. More. Other. New.
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Setting the tone: On gifting

January 1, 2021
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The bottom line:
Pick a topic. Any topic.
Bring it up in a circle of people, people open, curious and willing to contribute.
Behold: magic will unfold. 

Setting the tone, the tankespjärn-community monthly Zoom-call for December of 2020 on gifting, might well have been a major influence on what transpired a few days later, on Christmas Eve, as me and my children celebrated Christmas together. A Christmas different from all other Christmases, perhaps because of that fact alone, perhaps not, but regardless, the most magical of Christmases ever (another story, another time). And yes. A gift. To me.
And yes. A gift. To my kids.
And yes. A gift. To the three of us, to Us. 

We gifted each other one of the finest and most sought-after of gifts: time and attention. Presence. Respectful, loving, open and curious presence. Which, it just so happens, is also my major take-away from the Zoom-call, that being with someone, truly with, is one of the most valuable gifts a person can give anyone. Including oneself – tending to myself is (perhaps?) the biggest gift of all. If I do not, I will not, sustainably, be able to provide for others. 

In the Zoom-call on gifting we touched upon so many facets of gifting, the light, bright, shiny ones. Yes.
How a gift well-received, with grace and a heartfelt thank you, is a gift in and of itself.
How whatever it is that you do, and share, with a small or large circle, is a gift. Say, writing a book. Painting a picture. Baking a cake. 

And also, the darker, more murky and off-center-aspects.
How I am powerless over others, and thus, even if I act with the best of intentions, in gifting time and attention, or a thing, it might backfire, because those others respond in anger, in the same way I can, when I receive something I’ve not asked for, which isn’t what I want.
How the opportunities to bear gifts are so rife, it can be daunting in itself, freezing me in in-action, stuck in the thousands of opportunities arising each minute. 

And.
Then. This:
Compassion for self.
Empathy for others.

As it was spoken into the (Zoom-)room, God bumps spread across my limbs, a sign I always receive as the gift I know it to be, suggesting I pay extra attention right here, right now, because there’s Truth being told/shared. 

It is with the utmost grace I host, participate, and doodle, these community-meet up’s. To be able to do this, in the company of openhearted, respectful and loving souls, is such a gift to me, a priceless gift.


#tankespjärn, for those who wish to discover. More. Other. New. And yes. I mean you.
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2020, a year to remember 

December 31, 2020
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The bottom line: 2020. One of the best years of my life, in large part due to new connections I’ve made this year, as well as the old ones that have deepened. 

When asked, I say that 2020 has been one of –if not The– best years of my life.
I mean it. It has.
In no way does that diminish the fact that’s it’s been one of the worst years for many, which pains me. However, it is my understanding that my experience of 2020, all the riches, connections and insights I’ve been given, also means that I emit nurturing and nourishing energy to a world in desperate need for just that. 

If I had to single out one aspect of 2020 that makes it the best year ever, it would be connection. The depth of connection, of communion even, I’ve experienced this year, goes beyond any and all things I’ve ever experienced. Ever. Starting the year off with a hide-away together with my two Buddhas Caspian and Dominic certainly set the tone for just this aspect of 2020, and then, for some reason, I finally signed up for an AKIMBO-workshop, after having thought about it for years on end. The Creative’s Workshop started in February. The Corona-virus beginning to sweep across the world just then had some participants lean out and leave the workshop, whereas the rest of us leaned in, fully, completely, the global community a life-line in so many ways during the months to come. 

Covid also caused me, Caspian and Dominic to set sail with Buddhas by the roadside, our podcast. We’d been experimenting since the summer of 2019, but never got the ship ready to actually set sail. When covid hit, we all felt a great need to talk with each other with covid as a central theme. Deeming it better to get our conversations out there then not, made us release the pod into the world, no matter how rough, raw and rambling our conversations are.

The Creative’s Workshop also spawned a number of groups I am still enjoying the company of, the Monday afternoon Reading retreat being one of the most consistent of them all. The void left upon the closing of the Discourse-platform the workshop ran on gave way to a Creative Community that’s now as vital and natural a part of my day as air and breath is. But then again, TCW also gave birth to my tankespjärn-community, which gifts me one of the highlights of my life, the monthly Zoom-calls. I love, love, love the way tankespjärn flows freely from heart to heart, from head to head, from soul to soul. 

At the end of the year, my time is spent in another AKIMBO-workshop, The Story Skills Workshop, where yet again, I am like a little goat kid let loose on a field filled with interesting things and fascinating creatures to discover, play and have fun with. This part of me in not only on display in online-workshops though. I’d dare say this is an accurate description of how I’ve showed up in the pharma-project I’ve invested many working hours to this year too. And not just me, my colleagues were game to discover, play and have fun right alongside me.

A new website will see the light of day come the new year, and with Lena I’ve set up an advisory board, meeting every third week to dive deep into what’s and how’s, anchoring them firmly in personal why’s. And those personal why’s… identifying with the Upholder-tendency with regards to internal and external expectations, this year has helped me level up. May 17th as I planned to head out to get my daily 10K in my body… something whispered No. Not today. You are not to leave the premises today. I listened. And I stayed put, letting go of that intention of mine, to move at least 10K/day, one which I’d adhered to for the better part of a year. But no more. 

This was the final piece of the puzzle I needed to be able to see that for me, with my strong Upholder-tendencies, being open to letting go of routines and habits that no longer serve, is of vital importance to me. Otherwise, I risk running myself to the ground, doing things I rationally perceive to be good for me. My rational self serves me. And, if I am not careful, it might well topple me over at times too. Looking back at the summer, which is when the pharma-project was put on hold, I am grateful it happened as I was severely singed around the edges, not far from burnout. Doing absolutely nothing for the better part of not just three weeks of vacation, but a few more weeks, having learned how to listen to that inner voice that told me to stay put was of immense value to me recovering, regaining strength, energy and capacity.

Besides gardening, the only this I did over the summer was read. Being 10-15 books behind my Goodreads reading challenge for 2020 (to read 65 books) at the beginning of summer, by the end I was 10-15 books ahead instead. Today, I finished my 88th book of the year, having read 23 087 pages in all. folklore played more or less around the clock during the summer holidays too, and I’ve binged a significant number of series too, Vikings, Game of Thrones, Handmaid’s Tale, The 100’s and currently Orphan Black, to name but a few. Given that, my fingers got a bit restless so I’ve knitted, crochet and even started to mend my own jeans curled up in the cozy corner of the sofa, watching Netflix, HBO and SVT Play. 

The book that made the most impact out of the 88 was, without hesitation, Women who run with the wolves, a book I’ve dubbed my take-to-a-deserted-island-book. I imagine I could reread it every year for the rest of my life and still find new gems and gain new insights from it. I’m actually of a mind to start a recurring book-circle to help me get it on a deeper level. For sure, this book helped me finally take the plunge into what I call my deep dive into shame, that I initiated around the half-year mark of 2020. It will continue on in 2021, who knows for how long. I do sessions with D on the topic, as well as write. A lot. 53 000 words so far, and who knows what this will turn into. In due time. At the moment, I share it in a small and select community, where I’ve received endless support to continue diving ever deeper. Which I do. 

With my body in focus being my intention of the year, I started off with an undefined idea. I knew there was to be an element of play, but I had no idea how little what I thought the year would focus on (strength, suppleness, endurance) I have focussed on. Or… perhaps that’s not true. Perhaps that is what the year has been focused on, only not in the images I had in mind when I wrote it. With Wivan as my Walkfeeling-coach since April or May, I am not surprised that I’ve started to become much more attuned to the signals my body emits, and the cyclic pattern of them. Plenty of barefoot-walks, daily cold showers since October, starting to ask my body for advice, and even going indoor-climbing with Caspian. Lindy hop-classes have been sadly interrupted by Covid, not so surprising, and unfortunately the same is true for choir-practice. But not until we’d managed to do a live-streamed spring concert, and then, before the second wave was upon us, an All Saint’s Day concert too. 

Christmas Eve was spent with my children, at home, and turned into an evening I will forever remember, in sync with my sentiment for the rest of the year, possibly the best Christmas Eve I’ve ever experienced. (That’s a story all in itself, and one I will share, in time. Rest assured.) And today, as the children will have New Years Eve-dinner with their father, I look forward to an evening all on my own. Going deep within, luxuriating in my own company, I cannot imagine ending this year in a better way. 

I’ve already set the intentions for next year, which, for me this time around, won’t start tomorrow, on January 1st, 20201, but actually started already on December 22nd, 2020, the first day after the winter solstice. The intention reads Ask – Listen, to and with All of Me – Act, and it is with that intention top of mind and deep in heart, that I bid 2020 farewell. A year I will always remember.

 

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With only one pair of jeans to choose from…

December 27, 2020
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The bottom line: The thrill and joy of using my hands to turn a pair of jeans on the to-be-mended-pile into a pair of fully functioning jeans again.

For many years now, I’ve taken my worn-out jeans to the tailor, so I can continue using them. I always thought they got so worn out in the crotch because I my thighs aren’t distanced, but rather chafe on each other as I walk… but one time, dropping off three pairs of jeans for mending, he looked at me, and asked, kindness in his eyes, if I biked a lot? I responded Yes, you mean…? He nodded, saying, Oh yeah, biking a lot wears out your jeans in a jiffy! 

Oh. The relief. It wasn’t my build, but rather the fact that I live in Malmö, a city perfect for biking, and I bike. A lot. Like, a LOT. 3000+ kilometers/year, easily. Which made so much sense, as my build hasn’t really changed at all, but the worn-out-jeans issue had only started around the time when I started biking more, and even more after I sold the car. 

But now, one pair after another, I’d had to put the jeans on a to-be-mended-pile, when it wasn’t the crotch at issue, but rather holes, holes well within my ability to mend, and even more so, holes I wanted to mend experimenting with Sashiko, a Japanese visible mending technique I’ve been fascinated by for a long time, but never really got into… 

But… if necessity is the mother of all invention I’d like to add that only having one pair of jeans to use, with the rest in varying stages of un-presentability, sure is the driving force for taking action. 

So as I sat down to watch Orphan Black on the recommendation of my youngest, I grabbed a pair of jeans, two colors of embroidery floss (that I bought, for this specific purpose, some 2- years ago…), my recently bought embroidery hoops, a couple of cut-off-T-shirt arms I’d kept for just such an occasion (might come in handy, you know!), a needle and a pair of scissors and settled in. 

The beginning of a hole mid-thigh and fraying hems of both legs as well as on one back-pocket is what I was dealing with. So I reused the frayed cuff from the backpocket to mend the hole in the leg, the ends of the snipped of T-shirt sleeves to line the fraying hems of the trouser-legs, and a cut off part from the T-shirt for the back-pocket. Playing around with free-hand embroidering, far from perfect, very obviously hand-made and most definitely visible, as I put the final touches to the back-pocket I was very pleased with myself. 

Yes.
It took me many hours (roughly 5 episodes of Orphan Black), but I did it, the hoops worked well, and I had fun experimenting with different patterns. This morning, I stepped into the newly mended pair of jeans, and liked what I saw. I will, for sure, get started on the other pairs of jeans as well, as I do need a few more pants to choose from in the mornings. 

More than anything though, it strengthens my inclination to not waste resources, but to make the most of them. Mending my clothes, myself, or having the tailor do it, is but one way to make sure I do just that. 

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Ask – Listen, to and with All of Me – Act.

December 23, 2020
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The bottom line: Expanding my yearly intention to more fully encompass what I perceive it to be about, it now reads Ask – Listen, to and with All of Me – Act.

Upon waking, I realized that there’s more to say about my winter solstice 2020 to winter solstice 2021 intention. 

When I write listen, I mean listen through all the ways I am open to taking in information. Through my ears, yes, but also using those other most common senses, sight, smell, taste, touch. But it goes beyond that. I can listen using my intuition. My intellect. My heart (oh yes, my heart!). My gut sure speaks loudly sometimes, as does my back, my feet, my head. And there’s proprioception, thermoception, baroreceptors and any number of other ingeniously designed sensory detectors spread throughout my body. 

So. Yes. I do mean listen, to All of Me.
I also mean listen, with All of Me. 

What D also helped me see yesterday (Oh my. Only yesterday? Feels like forever and a day ago, and yet, as I sit here, I have not seen/known this for more than 24 hours.) is how there’s an unlearning-process taking place here, needing to take place here. To be able to listen to all of me, with all of me, there are filters composed of restrictive believes to remove. There are dampeners in place that makes it oh-so-hard to hear vital signals, misconceptions as to what signals actually mean, and most likely, a lot of debris to clear out of the way, in order for all signals to be able to reach me. 

Ask – Listen, to and with All of Me – Act.

As I sit with this, my feeling is that yearly intentions of years gone past have been more outward facing, about me for sure, but more with regards to how I am perceived by others, at least in my mind. This one, feels completely different, even though, paradoxically enough, perhaps this intention will impact those around me more than any intention I’ve committed to before.  


#tankespjärn, for those who wish to discover. More. Other. New.
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2020 – Winter solstice – 2021: Ask – Listen, to All of Me – Act.

December 22, 2020
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C has been asking me, every two weeks or so, for the better part of the past few months Do you know what your intention for the year will be next year? I kept answering No, it hasn’t come to me yet, and But I can sense something, it’s slowly revealing itself to me. 

Then I woke up Monday the 14th knowing. I grabbed a small postIt-pad I keep on my bedside table, and wrote:
Intuition. Ask me. Embody. Listen. Books. Food. Activities. 2021. 21th. 

I texted C and told him I had it, the intention for the upcoming year, and that I was gonna make a shift, from starting my year on the first of January, to going with the energy and presence of sun. So I will be starting the intention of the upcoming year, today, the 22nd, the first day after the solstice, i.e. the longest day of the year, ending it on the 21st of December of 2021. 

The day after this intention came to me, I had a session with D.
I told him about it, as being about me doing the following: Ask – intuit – listen – act

D being D, he asked me what I meant with intuit, and when I expanded upon it, he helped me see that in essence, what I mean is this:

For the next year, I want to integrate all parts of me, my intuition, my senses, my felt experiences, my intellect and rationality, all of me, learning to play the instrument that is me better, fuller, learning when to do more of intuition, when to go all in with my intellect and so on. This has me leaning in to all of me, to ask, and then to listen, very carefully and closely. 

Given all of that, my intention for the upcoming year is to Ask – Listen, to All of Me – Act.

I can see a number of ways this will inform me.
What to eat. When to eat. When to get off the sofa to dance and move my body, how and when to move, when to go to bed, what book to read, film to see, person to call, when to step into a conversation and when to stay out of it. In a sense, I see it as me connecting any doing on my part more closely to the being of me. That the doing I will be doing, will be informed by my being, all of my being, and I hope to both calibrate and fine-tune my ability to hear, truly hear, what all of me has to bring to the table. 

You see, with a strong Upholder-tendency, my issue is not to adhere to commitments (to name but one, today I did my 2319rd day of morning-Seven’s) but rather, to not push myself into doing because I said I would. Sometimes, yes, absolutely. But I can push too hard, too far, to the detriment of me, and I want to practice self-honoring instead of self-punishment. In a sense, I am leveling up with regards to doing gentle with an edge, something I’ve learned how to do over the years. Now, I am taking it up a notch. 

So.
For the next year, the mantra that will be the lighthouse guiding me, ever onwards in expansion:
Ask – Listen, to All of Me – Act.


#tankespjärn, for those who wish to discover. More. Other. New.
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A moral dilemma

December 8, 2020
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The bottom line: A permission slip, to myself, to write to my heart’s content. And then, after I’ve finished writing, apply my new-found skills of the story scaffolding to the piece, to help me determine whether or not this is a story or a non-story. Depending on the answer, there might be some value in going back to the piece to shape, embellish, clarify it. Or not.

I spent an hour and a half in the company of four newfound friends, all of whom are co-travellers in the Story Skills Workshop. One of the assignments is to record yourself telling (or reading. Yeah. There’s a difference. One I’d not been fully aware of before.) a story, and then invite others into a live story-telling-session. 

It was a lot of fun, very rewarding in terms of feedback given and received, and, as always, feedback given by someone to another story-teller, is sometimes as helpful, or perhaps even more helpful, than feedback directed straight at me. The round-about-way is, perhaps, more palatable, in the sense that I am more easily open to take in what is being said, when it is not me, my story, my performance, my telling, that’s in the spotlight. 

The direct feedback I got was extremely valuable though, and here I am, contemplating a re-write of my story, to encompass all of the insights and nudges I got after my first round of telling it. 

However, as I woke this morning I remembered… I’d recently read  s o m e t h i n g  that spoke precisely to this. To the re-telling, the embellishment, the ’making more of’ that I was busy doing, in my mind’s eye. But what was that something? And where did I read it? 

I turned towards one of the four books I am currently reading, neatly stacked on my nightstand, and picked it up. I was hoping it was this one (A Primer for Forgetting, by Lewis Hyde), and not The Naked Now by Richard Rohr that I’d finished a week prior, and subsequently had borrowed to a friend. If it was that one I was in trouble, as I didn’t have it at hand. 

Flicking through the pages of Hyde’s book, going backwards from my bookmark firmly lodged on page 126, I glance at my marginalia, hoping that it will pop up. Luckily, it does. On page 100, so not even that many pages back. It’s a chapter titled FEED ON THE PRESENT and in it Hyde recounts a  story he’s heard recounted, of a man coming to a realization on the actual recounting of his story. 

As I am extra fond of these meta-me (or meta-Larry, in this case) conversations, here’s a few paragraphs from the book:

”… when he got home and recounted the story to various friends, ’the telling started to change a bit, from it just being a straight report of a fact and what I went through. I saw that it was promoting the self. […]’ The story had picked up self-importance along the way; ’there was some mileage coming from it.’”

’… this kind of self-making may be unavoidable and often harmless, but as a matter of Buddhist practice it should at least be noticed, be brought to mind. ’I saw what the mind was doing; the mind was taking materials from the pastas first they were just ’factual’ but then immediately started to use them for the present, the present sense of myself… The self if constantly using the materials of the past and the future to nourish itself, to build itself up… I didn’t do it consciously… It just happened. The ego is going to work, and that’s what it knows how to do.’

[…] to describe how the ego functions: it feeds on the past and the future.

– Lewis Hyde, A Primer for Forgetting

Now.
I am not a journalist.
Embellishing texts and stories is well within my prerogative, and yet.
I do believe there’s something to the awareness alluded to by Hyde (and Larry). If I am conscious of what I am doing, as I am embellishing my stories… I don’t know. There’s a greater chance of me being careful with the message? Or intentful? My stories are often centered around me – my learnings, insights, difficulties – and I honestly don’t want to make me into a person far removed from the people I am trying to reach, be it through writing or telling. I want the threshold to be lowered, rather than increased, and if I were to simply embellish as much as I can, I fear that wouldn’t be the case. 

Perhaps this is simply a message for me, as this is part of the usefulness I make of my writing:
I discover myself while writing, and if I then embellish freely, is it me I am discovering, or an imaginary me? 

(My old me did stop here, leaving you, as well as me, hanging. But, in having a story scaffolding to drape my story across, when I did, I came to the realization that this is an incomplete story, if I want it to actually read as a story. The missing part is the consequence. Where will this all lead to? What will this all lead to? 

Again. I don’t  h a v e  to make it into a full story. That’s my prerogative. Each and every time. But, for the purpose of the learning and discovery-journey I am on, let’s say I do want that:)

I’d say, my answer to this moral dilemma, centers around what my purpose is.
Am I writing only to find me? If so. Go ahead, make it less story-telling-worthy. Don’t embellish, stick to what helps me find me. 

But if I am also, or only, writing in order to get a point across, to publish a text that I hope will resonate with others too… then by all means. Put a bit more effort into it. Check to see that the story scaffolding is active in each and every step. Make sure I do engage my audience, that the challenge is clearly seen/felt/understood, so that the resolution points to a change, leaving no-one in question as to where the story ended for the heroine. 

Only… that leaves me with the worst answer of them all: It all depends. 

However. I actually think this speaks to what the Story Skills Workshop is truly about. For me. (Important bit, that last one. For me!) I write, a lot, and seldom am I intentional with my writings. Neither when sitting down to write, nor when I ship. And honestly, I don’t necessarily want to be more intentional when setting out to write. I do so enjoy writing only to discover when I am knee-deep in, what I am actually writing about. 

But the latter part. Doing the post-analysis, using the story scaffolding, helps me see what the piece is all about. And prompts me to ask myself: What’s the purpose of this piece? What do I want it to be? What do I want it to do? Does it want to become a story, or is it (I!) content with having it be a non-story?

Depending on the answer, I might, or might not, do what I did here. Go back to the writing, deliberately and intentionally shaping it (or not), embellishing it (or not), clarifying it (or not), so that I know I’ve done my best to give it the necessary prerequisites of being able to live up to my intention/s. Story or non-story alike.


#tankespjärn, for those who wish to discover. More. Other. New.
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I write to discover

December 7, 2020
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The bottom line:
When to use the framework and tools I am learning from the Story Skills Workshop, and when not to. A great discernment to make!

I know now why I resist the story scaffolding.
When I write, I mostly write to discover. Not to learn, and definitely not to teach.

When I write to discover, it is as much a surprise to me, as to anyone else, what will come.
It’s truly a matter of what wants to happen here, very far from I want this to happen now.

Like this piece.
I had the start – the insight that I write to discover. But that was it. Nothing else, nothing more. Once I put fingers to keyboard, it comes, whatever it is. I let it, and I love letting it, sometimes chuckling to myself over what is revealed to me, sometimes confused or surprised, now and again moved to tears.

Given this, I am seeing the use of the story scaffolding for me to vary on account of what type of writing it is. A piece such as this, I’d best put it out of my mind until it’s done, all has come out. Then it might well be of use to me to play with analyzing the text, seeing if I can discover all the elements of a story in it, and depending upon what type of text I’ve written, if it is a story, an actual story, that analysis can help me make the story a better story, a more succinct story, a more complete story.

If I set out knowing that I am writing a proper story, one where I know the beginning, middle and end, and the point I want to get across, why, then performing the analysis according to the story scaffolding ahead of time makes perfect sense. That will help me structure the story, get the arc of it in place in a way that serves the reader.

And then… there’s all the other stuff I write.
The non-stories.
The stream-of-consciousness-pieces as well as the poems, the book reflections and anecdotes, the invitations and…
At a loss for words, I’ve realized I’ve batched most everything into the concept of story, something the Story Skills Workshop has shone a light on, making me discern more consciously what is a story and what isn’t, but I am far from on firm ground here. So I don’t know, what else might I be writing that is a non-story?

I don’t know, and I am eager to discover more on that topic, as well as what will happen when I start to use the framework and tools from the workshop more actively, more deliberately. And I wonder… will you notice? Will there be a sudden shift, in what I write, how I write, how you, the reader, will perceive it (I don’t think so. But if I am wrong, please tell me!), or will it be a gradual shift, invisible in each and every piece to its own, but when put together, next to one another, small incremental spets will be discernable, when looking back (Yes. If anything, this!)?


#tankespjärn, for those who wish to discover. More. Other. New.
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Shame. Top of mind.

December 6, 2020
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The monthly tankespjärn-community Zoom-sessions stay with me, very much top of mind, as the saying goes, and the November-session on shame is no exception. 

The sensation of shame in the body – the way it can feel both hot and cold, all at once, how it makes me hide, freeze, become almost paralyzed, in words as well as movement. Have I done something wrong? Am I wrong? I AM wrong, and there’s nothing I can do to NOT be wrong. The connection to guilt is obvious, and regardless of what the shame is about, it can be so utterly debilitating. Shame can wrap me inside a cocoon, and, paradoxically, if I numb myself enough, that can even become a place of happiness… if I have numbed myself enough! 

It’s a heavy topic, and yet… witnessing nine souls brave it, fills me with compassion and hope. My eyes were opened to the concept of carried shame, which, I’ve discovered in the days since the call, is not just valid for shame. There’s so much I can carry that’s not mine… we are all potential carriers of things that do not belong to us, and this… helps. Weirdly enough. 

Have you seen the meme of a person stopping a bus from running over a child?
This is what I imagine when I look at my –and your– potential to stop carried shame (and other sentiments) from being passed down. I carry ”stuff” that comes from previous generations, in the same way they carry ”stuff” from the generations that preceded them, and so on. The cycle only breaks, if someone actually deals with what has been carried over from the past. Otherwise it will continue to build and build and build… 

It’s strangely emboldening to think that it is within my capability to stop this. I can put a stop to some, if not all, of what I’ve had to carry, making sure it is not carried forward anymore. (No. I don’t think I can, ever, get to the all of it, but I do believe that whatever I can address, will be an act of service for those who come after me. But also, equally as important, also for those who have gone before me. So I try. I do my best. And then, when I stumble, when I fall, when I stagger at the sheer weight of it all, I am reminded that every little bit counts.) 

Shame lives in darkness. And heals when brought to light.
Shame is processed, and heals, when brought to light; when it is witnessed.
This is why I believe my deep-dive into shame has been so revelatory, I am doing the work, and I am sharing it.
The hiding aspect of shame is what keeps shame alive, vibrant, continuing. When unhidden, when brought into light, when no longer kept under wraps, it cannot not transform. The only way to stop the hiding is to stop the hiding. 

And.
At the same time, discernment in what I am sharing and with whom is most important.
Not everyone will be able to meet me in the shame I carry, in the shame I am trying, wanting, needing to shine a light on.

And.
As with everything else, there is information in shame.
When I feel shame, I am being informed. Of beliefs (mine and/or from the cultural context I am steeped in), of energies not tended to, of the situation at hand. If I approach it thus, perhaps the felt experience will not shepherd me into darkness, paralysis and hiding, but rather, give me an opportunity to bear witness to what is going on, so that I can address it, tend to it, tend to me. In this way, shame (as much as every other felt experience) acts as a magnifying glass. It is virtually impossible to not pick up on signals of shame, they are so effective in their communication that I, at least, find it very hard to ignore. 

And when I don’t, I have a chance to ask Is it mine? And even if the answer is yes, what of it? What is the message? What is the information carried forth through the sensation of shame?


#tankespjärn, for those who wish to discover. More. Other. New.
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