Tip

I am a beginner.

I am a beginner.

October 8, 2019
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At long last, I switch from Mail to Spark on my MacBook, cheered on by Caspian. And all of a sudden, it’s as if I am a beginner again. Spark works differently than Mail, which in turned worked – and looked – like any other email-software I’ve used at least in the last ten years or so. Not a lot of changes, regardless if I’ve upgraded or changed the software I use to check my email.

But this…
Spark.
Something else.
New functionality.
Completely different mindset compares to ”the old geezers” of email-software.
(And yes, Gmail has played around a bit with new functionality as well.)

So. I am a beginner. Having to start anew. Learn the new functions, how to navigate, archive and delete, how to sync my folders from Mail to here… or rather, the folders from my Exchange server that are visible in Mail but were nowhere to be found in Spark. Until I started to actually do the work of getting to know this new software.

Changes!
Can be challenging. Especially if I am under the illusion of not having enough time, being stressed or at least so busy that every single new thing just feels like a burden.

And yet… oh how I love it. I love changes!
Love feeling like a rookie; it’s almost as if I can feel my neural pathways getting all confused, running around haphazardly up there (in my brain), until… slowly but steadily, the new neural pathways generated by my rookie-ness start to become solidified. By then, the old ones are starting to degenerate, and soon enough I will be a rookie at Spark no more.

Luckily, by then, I will have found something new to be a rookie at!

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Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions (book 9 of 12)

September 29, 2019
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“The way to power is by giving, not by taking.”

I got it from Sara. She read it, marking the pages where she found little gems of wisdom and insight, and then mailed it to me.  And I, in turn, made it one of my twelve English books of the year: Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions by John (Fire) Lame Deer and Richard Erdoes. The book was first published the year I was born, 1972, and the copy I was gifted is an enriched classic published 1994.

“A fascinating story” is a blurb by Library Journal included in the preface. And yes. It is. Spanning high and low, delving into Lame Deers personal life as well as ancient stories such as that of White Buffalo Woman, dipping a toe into the use of herbs as medicine and components of rituals, and much more.

There are several passages I found of great interest, here are two providing me with great amounts of tankespjärn:
“A medicine man shouldn’t be a saint. He should experience and feel all the ups and downs, the despair and joy, the magic and the reality, the courage and the fear, of his people. He should be able to sink as low as a bug, or soar as high as an eagle. Unless he can experience both, he is no good as a medicine man. Sickness, jail, poverty, getting drunk – I had to experience all that myself. Sinning makes the world go round. You can’t be so stuck up, so inhuman that you want to be pure, your soul wrapped up in a plastic bag, all the time. You have to be God and the devil, both of them. Being a good medicine man means being right in the midst of the turmoil, not shielding yourself from it. It means experiencing life in all its phases. It means not being afraid of cutting up and playing the fool now and then. That’s sacred too.
Nature, the Great Spirit – they are not perfect. The world couldn’t stand that perfection. The spirit has a good side and a bad side. Sometimes the bad side gives me more knowledge than the good side.”

“This kind of medicine man is neither good nor bad. He lives – and that’s it, that’s enough. White people pay a preacher to be ‘good’, to behave himself in public, to wear a collar, to keep away from a certain kind of woman. But nobody pays an Indian medicine man to be good, to behave himself and be respectable. The wicasa wakan just acts like himself. He has been given the freedom – the freedom of a tree or a bird. That freedom can be beautiful or ugly; it doesn’t matter much.”

How different this is to the way the culture of the world I perceive myself a part look at it. We strive for goodness, for the perfect gurus, damning each and everyone forever if there were ever a speck of dust marring their perfect image. We do it for politicians and business leaders, for holy men and women and artists, for anyone we want to put on a pedestal.

Being put on a pedestal, never be allowed to slip up, make a mistake, falter. Neither here and now, in the future nor for that matter, in times gone by.  Could there ever be a position I’d want less than that one?


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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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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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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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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Hustling!

June 20, 2019
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Plenty of time… until all of a sudden, I don’t have enough. Story of my life…

And it’s funny – because there seems to be a gene controlling this human feature (flaw?) that skips a generation. Or at least skipped a generation when I am concerned. My father, oh my, he gets something to do, and he does it. He doesn’t bother to wait until there’s a deadline, he simply gets it done. Whereas me and my brother, give us a deadline, and we’re chill up until the very last minute when all of a sudden we scramble and hustle to get whatever-it-is done and handed in on time… or at least try to, occasionally failing miserably. Is it the instant gratification monkey rearing his ugly head?

Anyway. Off I go, hustling for half an hour, before I have to head off!

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