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…seize the wonder of being alive in this moment.

…seize the wonder of being alive in this moment.

March 22, 2020
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“As well as saving millions of lives by killing rodents, our soft-footed friends have helped heal countless hearts. Sitting quietly at the ends of beds, they’ve waited for human tears to ebb. Curled on the laps of the sick and elderly, they’ve offered comfort impossible to find elsewhere. Having served our physical and emotional health for thousands of years, they deserve recognition. The Egyptians were right. A cat is a sacred being.”

Picked it up in one of those bookshelves at an office, where people can put books they’ve read, and if there’s a book calling out to them, take that one back home to read. I didn’t bring a book with me, but I’ve been generous with donating books both here and there over the years, so I figured I could put this book in my backpack, as it did just that. Call out to me. To take it.

So I did.

“Mothers have powers beyond politics, art and money. We’re the people who give life, nurture babies and make them grow. Without us humanity would wither like seaweed on a rock. Knowledge of our power is so deep we don’t talk about it often, but we use it all the time.”

And what a lovely book it is, Cleo, by Helen Brown.
I’ve written on how Pop the cat is my resident master of self-care, and he continues to teach me how to enjoy every ounce of life.

“Cleo was changing my attitude to indulgence. Guilt isn’t in cat vocabulary. They never suffer remorse for eating too much, sleeping too long or hogging the warmest cushion in the house. They welcome every pleasurable moment as it unravels, and savor it to the full until a butterfly or falling leaf diverts their attention. They don’t waste energy counting the number of calories they’ve consumed or the hours they’ve frittered away sunbathing.”

In a world that is slowing down, the following lines spoke volumes to me.
So I will leave them here, for you, to read.
For you to look within, while you read, to discover what happens within you.

“One of the many ways in which cats are superior to humans is their mastery of time. By making no attempt to dissect years into months, days into hours and minutes into seconds, cats avoid much misery. Free from the slavery of measuring every moment, worrying about whether they are late or early, young or old, or if Christmas is six weeks away, felines appreciate the present in all its multidimensional glory. They never worry about endings or beginnings. The joy of basking on a window ledge can seem eternal, though if measured in human time it’s diminished to a paltry eighteen minutes.

If humans could program themselves to forget time, they would savor a string of pleasures and possibilities. Regrets about our past would dissolve, alongside anxieties for the future. We’d notice the color of the sky and be liberated to seize the wonder of being alive in this moment. If we could be more like cats our lives would seem eternal.”

 

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Winnie-the-Pooh on Management & Problem Solving (book 3 of 12)

March 16, 2020
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I really did not enjoy reading Winnie-the-Pooh on Management & Problem Solving by Roger E. and Stephen D. Allen.

And in a sense… that makes me happy. Oddly enough.
Bear (haha. Pun not intended, would you believe it?) with me, as I try to explain.

You see.
I have a tendency to enjoy most of what I read.
I love books. I read lots.
And I can as easily down a quick-read from the chick-lit genre as a fact-based non-fiction book on leadership and human development, a Science Fantasy-trilogy as a spiritual deep-dive into the world of Mary Magdalen.
And most everything I do enjoy. I find something in them that attracts me, keeps me reading.
Can be the wit of it, the beauty of the language, a totally engrossing story or facts that makes my mind boggle.

“Remember, good judgment is the result of experience, and experience is the result of bad judgment.”

But more and more, I can discern (what a wonderful word that one! Discernment.) what I don’t like, what I don’t enjoy, where the language is not alluring, where I cannot get close to the characters (The Neapolitan Novels of Elena Ferrante is a great example), where something, whatever it might be, just seems off for one reason or another.

I had but read a few pages of this book when I knew it was off. For me! Which is an important caveat, as my taste is just that: mine. Noone elses. I borrowed this book from C, and he swears by it. But if I had not assigned this book a slot in my “read these 12 English books in 2020” I would have closed the book, returned it to C and never thought more of it.

But as I had chosen it, I made myself finish it, even though it took me more or less three months, with it laying on my dressing table as a constant reminder…

Perhaps it’s as simple as me not really being a Winnie-the-Pooh fan?
Perhaps the way the Allen’s emulate the way A.A. Milne writes (and is allowed to use excerpts from his books on Winnie-the-Pooh, both the written stories and the illustrations), but without being as great word-smiths as Milne?
Perhaps it was simply the wrong time for me to read it?

I don’t know, and don’t have to delve into it in-depth, but… at the same time, this is where my happiness comes in. You see, I am currently enrolled in The Creative’s Workshop (workshop run for the first time by Seth Godin on akimbo.com), and in several of the prompts (lessons you might say, three per week, over a 100-day-period) we’ve been asked to look at things such as these:
What is good, in my view? Why is it good? Who crafts good stuff (similar to that which I am working on)?
What don’t I think is good, and why? Who crafts “bad” stuff?
Who do I admire? Who do I want to emulate? And who’s the amateur, the professional and the hack in your line-of-work?

So.
Winnie-the-Pooh is helping me discern my responses to questions like these ones.
And that’s really helpful!

“…creativity […] is a way of being, of looking at things without judging them first, and that it can be learned and improved.”


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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Find what works for you

March 4, 2020
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I just realized today, my tag-along-in-life-question How does this serve me? has the same outcome as Byron Katie’s The Work:

Is it true?
Can you absolutely know it’s true?
How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
Who would you be without this thought?
Turnaround

It doesn’t matter what question you ask yourself, or what practice you implement, for you to be able to get to that space in-between, the space where magic happens.
But don’t stop until you find what works for you.

Have you?

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The power of small steps

February 27, 2020
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Today I hit a(nother) milestone in Seven, the app I use for my daily (minimum) seven-minute-workouts, as today was my 2020th day of doing a daily workout. A milestone on account of it being the year 2020 right now.

2020. Days. In. A. Row.

That’s quite a lot.
And yet. Doing a seven-minute daily workout only requires seven minutes a day.

It sure does point to the power of small steps.

Just imagine.
What else is made possible if I start to take action?
If I stop procrastinating?
If I stop making excuses?
If I stop postponing to another day that which I can start right away?

Imagine what is possible if I Do?
Today. Tomorrow. The day after, and the day after that, and…

On and on, step by step.
Over time it adds up.

Do you have any area in your life where you’d like to start to take a step? What stops you? Do it. Now. Drop what you are doing, and Do. Now.

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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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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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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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Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View (book 12 of 12)

December 29, 2019
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At long last… I started reading Richard Tarnas’s Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View end of February, and just finished it, completing my Goodreads reading challenge of 2019 (75 books read, this is my 75th) as well as my “12 Swedish and 12 English books to read and blog about” of the year.

Cosmos and Psyche opens doors in the reader’s mind, doors towards the future. Yes, it records, analyzes, and interprets events of the past, but its primary relevance points towards the future. Its thorough research fulfills a function that is central to the genuine, hard-nosed pursuit of human knowledge: ‘the elicitation of disbelief and the celebration of surprise’ (Lewis Thomas). Richard Tarnas dares to be far ahead of conventional thought. He broadens our horizons until we suddenly see with delight vistas and connections we never expected. Here at last is a world view which – in contrast to prevailing ones – has a future.” – David Steindl-Rast

The first half of the book I read with no sense of urgency. The latter… Knowing here’s a book preferably read a chapter at a time, and not one iota more, as it is amongst the densest and rich writings I’ve as yet encountered, and knowing the five-hundred pages had to be read come new years…  Well. Let’s just say, I will be re-reading this book, and I will be mining gold-nuggets and jewels from it that I totally overlooked this first time, of that I am certain. You see, it’s easy to get cheesecaked out when reading Cosmos and Psyche which I think Tarnas (or his editor?) was very much aware of, as the chapters are mostly 8-12 pages long or so; just perfect!

“[One is reminded here of] Niels Bohr’s axiom in quantum physics, ‘The opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth’, or Oscar Wilde’s ‘A Truth in art is that whose contradiction is also true’. What is difficult, of course, is to see both images, both truths, simultaneously: to suppress nothing, to remain open to the paradox, to maintain the tension of opposites. Wisdom, like compassion, often seems to require of us that we hold multiple realities in our consciousness at once.”

Cosmos.
Psyche.

Outer.
Inner.

Without.
Within.

Tarnas gives me tankespjärn to last me a lifetime or two, in the most beautiful language. I am stunned, aha-ed, confused and confounded, at times chocked, now and again in total disbelief and throughout it all, flabbergasted at the amount of meticulous work that has gone into the makings of this work. It’s far from an easy read, one I would never have picked up had it not been for the one and only Mr D (who else…). How lucky I am!

“One is unlikely to discover what one is certain cannot possibly exist.”

Being open – in mind, in heart – is perhaps the single most important insight I take with me, from reading Cosmos and Psyche. With openness, the possibility increases to discover that which does exist, however unaware I am of it.


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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Homo Deus (book 11 of 12)

December 26, 2019
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“I encourage all of us, whatever our beliefs, to question the basic narratives of our world, to connect past developments with present concerns, and not to be afraid of controversial issues.” 

Thus Yuval Noah Harari starts Homo Deus, the book after Sapiens, followed by 21 lessons for the 21st century, a book I plan to read next year.

“The physicist Max Plank famously said that science advances one funeral at a time. He meant that only when one generation passes away do new theories have a chance to root out old ones. This is true not only of science.”

Homo Deus gave me some good tankespjärn I must admit. The historical retrospection into religion and science is thought-provoking and aha-generating at the same time, and the way Harari shines a light on the past, present and future make this a book well worth reading.

“Science is not just about predicting the future, though. Scholars in all fields often seek to broaden our horizons, thereby opening before us new and unknown futures. This is especially true of history. Though historians occasionally try their hand at prophecy (without notable success), the study of history aims above all to make us aware of possibilities we don’t normally consider. Historians study the past not in order to repeat it, but in order to be liberated from it.”

My copy of the book is filled with my notes in the margins, pertaining to many a different subject.
School. Religion in juxtaposition to science. Humanism. Artificial Intelligence.
Colonialism. Spirituality. Terrorism. Energy consumption.

“People are usually afraid of change because they fear the unknown. But the single greatest constant of history is that everything changes.”

Everything does change. And so I greatly enjoy reading books such as this one, that span the longer arcs of history and connects dots that I’ve not connected on my own. Helping me point out changes that I’ve not perceived.

“Fiction isn’t bad. It is vital. Without commonly accepted stories about things like money, states or corporations, no complex human society can function. […] But the stories are just tools. They should not become our goals or our yardsticks. When we forget that they are mere fiction, we lose touch with reality. Then we begin entire wars ‘to make a lot of money for the corporation’ or ‘to protect the national interests’. Corporations, money and nations exist only in our imagination. We invented them to serve us; why do we find ourselves sacrificing our lives in their service?”

Stories.
Personal stories. Communal stories. Cultural stories.
The stories I tell, the stories I listen to.
They all play a part in shaping me, making me into the person I am.

“Paradoxically, the more sacrifices we make for an imaginary story, the more tenaciously we hold on to it, because we desperately want to give meaning to these sacrifices and to the suffering we have caused.”

The greater my awareness is to their content and message, the more I am able to lead the life I want to.
I have a choice as to which stories I perpetuate, and so do you.


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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Don’t panic (book 10 of 12)

November 11, 2019
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At long last, a few weeks late, but hey, better late than never. Here’s book number ten of my English book-reading-challenge of the year: Don’t Panic (or why The World No Longer Looks Like Your World) by Lotta Alsén and Troed Troedson is a book I will be rereading. And referencing. And lend to friends, so they can read it as well. I’ve jotted down notes in the margin on 55 of the 285 pages of the book.

“Effect is the outcome of the result. The interesting thing from a systems perspective is not how the result turns out, but how we measure it. It is critical that we measure the effect and describe it in exactly the same terms as the goal. Otherwise, the system will slowly produce something different than that which was intended. If the goal and the outcome are not described in the same terms, the entire enterprise will gradually warp and run askew. Eventually, you’re producing in order to achieve the effect that’s measured instead of the goal you set up from the beginning. If a school system’s goal is ‘responsible and independent contributors to society’, then it had better not measure its results in terms of, say, knowledge and test scores. If it does, the school will get so bent out of shape that it will become impossible to see the connection between the goals outlined in the school’s mission, and the results that the system produces.” 

Having spent many an hour this past decade talking about, dissecting and questioning the school systems of Sweden (and the world at large), there are many gold nuggets in Don’t panic. This is one reason why I will be lending the book to some friends of mine working within the school system.

“The level of knowledge and education among the average adult is now, for the first time, at parity with (and increasingly higher than) teachers and school administrators. Where are the best places for fifteen-year-olds to meet interesting people who can give them new ideas about what life to lead and careers? Probably not in schools. The progression is predictable, inevitable, and irreversible: the 150-year-old revolution of universal education has now come to its end.

This might seem threatening or pessimistic. On the contrary, this is a sign that we succeeded! The only way a school could keep on working, century after century, with the same rationale would be if it completely failed in its original goal.”

But there are plenty of other nuggets of gold in the book as well, giving me ample reason to dig into it further on now, as I am busy developing #tankespjärn. One of the pointers of the book (see below) is one of my foremost hindrances at the moment. My schedule is jam-packed, and I simply have not scheduled (or honored…) enough “empty time” for myself: “Efficiency is the enemy of flexibility and creativity. When you’re efficient, you’ve left yourself no empty time: the time when you are creative.”

A sign as good as any, and one I am getting from many sources right now:
I am not giving myself enough (empty) time for being creative. Are you?


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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