GoodReads

The Swan Thieves (book 1 of 12)

The Swan Thieves (book 1 of 12)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Good bye 2019!

December 31, 2019
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This year with the intention As I am has truly been a most wonderful, challenging and rich year. So much has happened, so many meetings have taken place, so many insights and lessons have come my way. 

Monthly follow-up of the intention of the year: As I am
Continuously following up on the fairly detailed ambitions I set within four areas (bodily, mental and spiritual wellbeing, creativity and financial husbandry) has been a very interesting activity, helping me to remain focused, as it has given me at least (!) a monthly reminder on what it is I want to focus on.

Timetravel
The invite to T and Hs 100-year party in Stockholm gave me a day (or two) of time-travelling. The theme of the party was the 1920s, and with my soul sister S and A I was given a chance to truly travel in time. As if I simply stepped outside of my ordinary life during these days… magical!

Cold baths
I started taking cold baths at the end of November 2018, and took it to new heights during 2019, ending on a high with 8 days of cold bathing in a row. Thanks to the deep breathing-practice that’s taken a firm place in my life during 2019, I’ve given up the quick ”in and out”-dips of before, in favor of five-ten minute submersions in cold water, thanks in large part of breathing and focus. It’s absolutely amazing and definitely something I will continue doing!

Coach Dave
In December 2018 I hired coach Dave for a year’s worth of coaching, at substantial cost, a tad more than 100% more than I’ve ever invested in myself before. When the time came to pay the second installment, my Jenny (who does my company finances) if Dave was worth it. My answer was fairly illuminating: No, Dave isn’t worth it, but I am! It’s been a fantastic journey and I have learned a lot, but perhaps the most important insight is just that one. I am worth investing in!

Podcasting
I have released one round of my own pod Doing gentle with an edge, and have twice as many episodes recorded but as yet unreleased. I will, in due time! I have taken part in Caspians Ett samtal (for the second time round; in Swedish) and have, thanks to Caspian, moderated the pod Fria Barn (in Swedish) released in the fall of 2019. Together with Caspian and Mr D I am also busy recording a number of episodes of a new pod in English which will be released in January. Finishing of the year with a couple of days of New Years retreat with those two gentlemen – what a wonderful way to end a year and a decade in!

60 hours of tankespjärn
For many years, tankespjärn has been my companion, as a word, as a concept, even, when I started to reflect upon it, as my life philosophy, since long before the word revealed itself to me. During the year the idea to host 60 hours of tankespjärn was born in a conversation with coach Dave. That’s what happened and there will be more, mark my word, in years to come.

Pecha Kucha and TEDxSlottsparken
As I so often do, once again I say: Thanks to Caspian I did a Pecha Kucha in Lund in April headlined How I broke up with my inner dictator, and that experience in contrast with my June experience as a moderator at TEDxSlottsparken was enormous. I was very nervous to do the Pecha Kucha, whereas I, moderating TEDx felt calm and collected. The difference? My Pecha Kucha was written in advance, and had me timing speech with 20 slides for 20 seconds each, while as a moderator I could act in the moment from what was, which (apparently) suits me much better!

Kenya
Nine days in Kenya after midsummer turned into one of the most rewarding experiences of the year. It’s given me so much, in so many aspects, such as an increased understanding of the tree-savings-scheme I have as a part of my (and the kids) long-term savings since 2015, to an increased network and a very close friendship with my roommate Lena. I finished the blog-year with a 25-days advent calendar here, with images and stories from the trip, something which deepened my gratefulness for going, even more.

Mastermind-pilot
Another thing was born during a coaching conversation with Dave, when he gave me 15 minutes to “do something”, which resulted in my sending out an invite on the fly, to a handful of chosen people, to participate in a Mastermind-pilot. During thirteen Tuesday evenings starting in August, had me spending an hour with four participants and me as the facilitator. What a journey that turned into. A pilot that definitely has me wanting more!

Culture
It’s been a year of many lovely cultural experiences of all kinds. With Heléne I have experienced Patricia Piccininis A World of LoveGuds olydiga revben, sing-a-long to Rocketman på Spegeln as well as Stina Wollters exhibition in Borstahusen. Add to that a fantastic production of Mozart’s Requiem at Malmö Opera with Skånes Dansteater, yet another sing-a-long with Dirty Dancing on the big screen and last but not least, performing Stabat Mater over Easter, the first-ever performance of Missa Brevis at All hallows eve and the choir trip to Jämtland.

Goodreads reading challenge
I set a goal to read 75 books during 2019, and finished my 76th book on New Year’s Eve, so mission accomplished. I also have the 12 Swedish och 12 English books I chose at the start of the year, to read and blog about on a monthly basis. Ever since I invented this challenge in 2018, when I chose 26 + 26 (which was a bit too much) I have realized this to be an excellent way for me to ensure that the books I buy “in order to read” which then end up unread on a bookshelf, actually get read. So I will do the same for 2020, 12 + 12.

Ready to leave the nest
My firstborn headed off to Australia on adventures in January, coming home end November, just having turned twenty. 10,5 months on the other side of the planet, and if I had any doubt before the trip, by now I am 100% certain this kid is ready to leave the nest. This makes me very happy and grateful because this is what parenting is really about, making kids ready to fly on their own!

The year that has passed has, of course, been loaded with a huge number of things besides the few I display here, but in general, it’s been a fabulous year with up’s and down’s, with tears of joy as well as sorrow, with amazing moments in solitude as well as in togetherness, and I am thankful to each and everyone and everything–including myself–that’s participated in making this year so rich.

Finally, I wish for you and yours to have a truly wonderful new year, in joy and love, with warmth and light–take good care of yourself!

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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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A structure to achieve my intentions

January 21, 2019
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Facebook reminded me about a post I made three years ago… that had me a bit confused because I’d forgotten about it. It was a post about 36 books I wanted to read in 2016, with an “I will likely be blogging about some of them” as an aside.

Facebook Live #80 🇱🇷🇬🇧 – Intentions and what makes them transform into action

Facebook Live #80 🇱🇷🇬🇧 – Intentions and what makes them transform into action

Publicerat av Helena Roth Lördag 19 januari 2019

Wanna wager if I succeeded or not?

Well. I didn’t. Not in 2016. Because I hadn’t set up the necessary structure to achieve my intention. So I bombed. However, the similar intention I set in 2018 was a success (reading 26 + 26 books in English and Swedish respectively, and to blog about one of them every Sunday), and I’ve set up a similar structure for 2019:
1) A Goodreads reading challenge (75 books to be read in 2019). I use Goodreads to keep track of the books I read, and what my progress is, so I visit the website at least a few times every week, if not daily.
2) I wrote my intention for the year of 2019-blog post, and in it, I wrote about both the #goodreadsreadingchallenge, but also about the 12 + 12 English/Swedish books I will read this year, and that I will be blogging about two of these books every month.
3) at the end of each month, I will be posting a follow-up-post on the yearly intentions, keeping track of how I am doing. This is a vital part, because it has me reminding myself about my specific intentions at least on a monthly basis. So if all else fails, at the end of the month (or the start of the next month) I will get a kick-in-the-behind to get on track again.
4) I have these 12 + 12 books in my bedroom bookcase, and I look at them every morning and evening.

Do you help yourself achieve your intentions through the structures you design and put in place, and if so, how?

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12 English books to read in 2019

January 5, 2019
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The sub-challenge of 2018 to read 26 English (as well as 26 Swedish) books was enjoyable, to the extent that I will do a version of it this year as well. So I’ve chosen 12 English (and 12 Swedish) books that were in my home come New Years, that I will read in 2019. Just like in 2018, I will blog about these on Sundays, once a month/blog. Besides this sub-challenge, my overall reading challenge for 2019 is to read (a minimum of) 75 books, and you can tag along on my reading journey over on my Goodreads-profile.

A fairly good mix this year as well, and I look forward to getting acquainted with each and every one of them. Three of these I have had warming my bookshelves for quite a few years (Hargreaves/Fullan, Alsén/Troedson and Yunus) but the rest I got in 2018. I have learned my lesson from last year, and will not hold back on reading “the heavy books” until the end of the year, that’s for sure. And the heavy artillery is here, in the English section, I don’t think there are any really heavy reads amongst the Swedish ones (but hey. Who am I to guess?).

Sara gave me Lame deer; D suggested Tarnas; Hargreaves/Fullan I picked up during my school activist-days; I bought Ben David at Ängsbacka during a workshop she held; Homo Deus I ordered before I finished Sapiens because I wanted to read this one as well; Don’t Panic I bought directly from Troed; my sister, and others, praise this Murakami as being his best so when I stumbled upon it at a second-hand shop, I figured I’d give it a go. Banker for the poor is, embarrassingly enough, probably an illegal book copy I bought on the streets of Mumbai ten years ago; Clapton’s guitar I found at another second-hand shop in Karlskrona during a rare in-the-flesh-Mastermind-meeting; Coyle has been recommended to me; Whitehead was my pick from the rewards for having read and reviewed x number of books for the library’s “Summer book-challenge”; and finally: A fine balance. This book is special. Since I read it (in 98? 96? In Thailand anyway, visiting my brother.) I’ve pegged as the best book I’ve ever read. (Funnily enough, my brother says the same, and still does, I brought it up with him this week when we FaceTimed.) I have yet to re-read it, but when it showed up on the shelves of a second-hand store, I thought the time has come to do just that. And to ensure I will read it thoroughly it’s also my chosen book for the Gifted book club. I wonder: will I still think it’s the best book I’ve ever read after my re-read?

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

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26 English books to read during 2018

January 3, 2018
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One of my sub targets for the year, linked with my intention to live a more intentional digital and analog life during 2018, is to read 26 Swedish and 26 English books, books that I already own. There are more books in the house, still unread that I want to read, but of the English books these 26 were the most enticing.

26 English books

As you can see, it’s a mix of new and old books. The Swedish collection has a more diverse touch to it, whereas this collection feels a bit heavier. However, all of these books have one thing in common: I want to read them!

SwopI pondered if I should predetermine which book to read what week, but decided against it. Have entered all the books (both Swedish and English) into my Goodreads-profile under ”To read”, so I have them there, when the time comes to move them, one by one, into ”Currently reading” before filing them under ”Read”.

However, as I did that, I noticed that I actually already read David Whyte’s The house of belonging. So I replaced it with a book I got from a fellow Supercoach in 2014, which I’ve been intending to read ever since.26 English on display

I will read these chosen English books every other week, and blog about them (at least once) by the end of said week. I started off the year with a Swedish book, so you’ll just have to wait for another week before knowing which book I start with out of these 26.

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Good bye 2017

December 31, 2017
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Good bye 2017, the year when…

  • I had Wholeheartedness as my intention, something I’ve blogged about on a monthly basis since.
  • my company Respondi AB turned ten years old. Imagine that!
  • me and Pernilla Tillander started to work together for the ESF-project Include & Meet in Skurup, something which has been among the most fun and rewarding things I’ve done during my ten years as an entrepreneur. We will continue to work together in 2018 in Skurup and I greatly look forward to it!
  • I did two “current state” analyses that made quite the impact, especially in me.
  • my longest running assignment ended, after nearly five years.
  • thoughts on my future business enterprise are starting to become clear.
  • I rediscovered my fascination with husbandry, also in an economic fashion.
  • music played a big part:
    • the musical highlight above all else throughout my life is performing Stabat Mater by Jens Eriksson. The first performance took place already during Easter 2016, but during 2017 Stabat Mater was released on Spotify, and the church choir from Södra Sallerup performed Stabat Mater no less than three times this year. One performance took place in Salzburg where the choir went for a trip in september. Stabat Mater is on repeat at home, and I absolutely love this piece of music!
    • my musical highlight number two took place in twofold this year as well: we recorded an album in the beginning of the year, and this was released (both as an actual CD and on Spotify) at the end of the year, Vi är i advent. Another abum running on repeat in my headphones.

HERO in Edinburgh

  • I turned fortyfive and discovered the thrill of hosting a potluck party – what a smashing idea!
  • sad farewell’s were mixed with the joy of new budding lives.
  • acting legal guardian for unaccompanied minor refugees is an ongoing assignment, a roller coaster of joy, frustration and pride; for my legal guardians as well as others.
  • we decided to stay together but live apart… only to hand in our divorce application a few months later.
  • far later I finally removed my wedding ring, leaving me with the feeling of a phantom ring on my ring finger.
  • I participated in the #blogg100 challenge for the forth time, after refraining for a year. For the first time I trid blogging onehundred days in a row based on a set theme (by myself) – mixing Swedish and English blog posts – which definitely was to my liking.

GoodReads

  • I have read, read, and read some more. 73 books and 22889 pages according to GoodReads. But then I also proof read a book not yet published, so in total I read 74 books and 23014 pages during 2017. My #Goodreadsreadingchallenge for 2017 was fifty books, so I reached my goal by far.
  • The Gifted book club saw the light of day in conjunction with my birthday, and during the fall we’ve read two books. We are starting 2018 with Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, following it up with Foe by J.M. Coetzee and I am thrilled to see what other books we will be reading after that.
  • for the first time ever have I technically proof read a book (and buy what a book. Only available in Swedish, but if you know Swedish, most definitely pick up, and read, a copy of Sigrid sover på soffan!)
  • ChattyMeals made an entrance into my life, an aquaintance I will definitely continue to entertain during 2018.
  • I understood my relationship to inner and outer expectations, this concept that I’ve been reflecting upon for years now, and now have an even greater understanding of, being the Upholder I am.
  • I ran my first ever race!
  • I tried taking a digital sabbat, which definitely wet my appetite, to the extent that it actually served as the basis for my intention for 2018.
  • my firstborn came of age and my lastborn turned teenager and started junior high school. Oh how time flies!
  • for the first time in forever we stayed in Sweden during the summer holidays (o the chagrin of the kids).
  • all four Roths are finishing off the year participating in the largest New Years Eve-street party in the world, the Hogmanay celebrations in Edinburgh.

Roths in Edinburgh

And with that, I wish you and yours a very Happy New Year!

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