opportunity

Disagreement as bridge

Disagreement as bridge

November 6, 2020
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The bottom line:
Disagreement, not to be feared, or avoided, but rather, providing an opportunity to learn, gain insight and lean towards one another, bridging the gap.

Disagreement.
Twelve people.
Monthly Zoom-call in the tankespjärn-community.

I had shared three plus one links, and another community-member added yet another link, pieces speaking to the topic on disagreement.
The Future of Marriage
Dare to Disagree
Extreme Listening
Befriending Radical Disagreement
How democracies fall apart

I did something new on this call, as I normally doodle during the hour. This time, I asked permission to record the call, so I could doodle afterward instead, while watching the replay. All in all, an interesting experiment, because the actual energy of the call, in real time, poured into a doodle, is energizing and heightens the experience for me. Now, 1,5 weeks after the call, I’ve yet to post a reflecting ”here’s the October Zoom-call-summary” (i.e. this blog post), and I wonder if this is not the reason. In a sense, I am in disagreement with myself, as I fear people experience me as distant and not paying attention, when doodling during the call, but not doodling during the call in a sense makes me less present. Interesting.

However, the call itself gave me many thoughts, as these calls are wont to do, as the doodle reveals to a greater extent than what follows. One of them being the signal disagreement carries, that here’s (possibly) a relationship needing my attention. The possibility lies in whether or not this is a relationship I care about. If not, perhaps the signal sent by the disagreement is to walk away. If yes, disagreement tells me here’s an opportunity to listen. Give the other person/s the gift of feeling heard, truly heard. Might be uncomfortable, within, but when listening, most often there’s the chance to find something to grab onto, something which connects us, something we have in common. A bridge, from you, to me, finding that place of sameness that you can then truly grow from. Where we agree on the foundational value but disagree on the how to get there.

The physicality of disagreement can take varying forms, one of the more subtle ones displayed in what happens when I put my hand out in front of me, like a stop-sign. If I then ask you to do the same, placing your hand up against mine, without fail, if I start to push, you will push back. I’ve yet to come across anyone n o t pushing back (except perhaps others who also uses this method to get their point across), and when I let go, when I release the pressure I am exerting, letting my hand fall away, the others hand follows along, because the resistance is gone. And with resistance gone, the stand-still comes to a close, and movement is possible. Again. Anew. If there’s a disagreement on the horizon, instead of sitting down opposite each other, try taking a walk. Side by side, disagreements have a harder time finding its foothold.

How the fear of disagreement might make me shut up, not express myself, not voice my opinion. Sometimes it’s not fear stopping me, sometimes I simply cannot be bothered. My take; this speaks to a lack of interest in the person and/or the argument.

Disagreement creates friction, which can initiate movement, making us come closer (or drive us farther apart), and how that friction often manifests as d i s c o m f o r t. How discomfort always, inherently, carries with it the opportunity for healing, which led to this powerful statement: Addiction is avoidance of discomfort. Logically, what follows then would be, with addiction, no healing?! If the path of least resistance (the addictive behavior) is chosen, facing discomfort not being chosen, the opportunity to burn through some emotional baggage gone.

And also, how thank god we do disagree. On what is beautiful, important, significant, thrilling, interesting. Without that type of disagreement, there would only be one type of art, and can you imagine a more boring world than one with only one artistic expression present? Disagreement thus helps generate change, providing the necessary friction and traction that makes movement possible.

Disagreement can make me lean towards, rather than away, and that to me, brings the feeling of hope, a feeling I naturally opt for, when given a choice (and when am I not given a choice? As the choice is mine, the choice is always given. I do not always choose it though.). All in all, I left this conversation with much greater regard, even fondness, for disagreement. Quite something, isn’t it?


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

October 20, 2020
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The bottom line:
No matter who I come across, whether a professional or a hack, there’s an opportunity to learn. Being conscious of this, and expressing gratitude for the possible learning, might help me stop judging the hacks I meet. 

I am enamored with professionals.
The way T asked me a gazillion questions during our Zoom-call the other week, question after relevant question, trying to tease out of me what it is I envision for tankespjärn. What a pro! She’s done this many times, that much is apparent, but sometimes that actually turns into a disadvantage, if it also means you go through the motions rather than actually still engage, fully, with the process.

Needless to say, T engaged fully, as the pro she is.
I was quite impressed by myself as well, able to reply to almost all of the questions, something I would only have been able to do half-assed six months ago, and basically not at all a year ago. The idea and vision I have for tankespjärn is getting clearer and clearer, that much is apparent, and a result of letting things take the time they need. The value of not rushing things is obvious to me, it’s something I truly believe in, and at the same time, it’s not always easy to live by.

However.
When I am met by someone who is supposedly a professional, a hack who doesn’t even go through the motion of pretending to do his/her work properly, cutting corners to the extent that the end result will be far from the agreed-upon, that I do not like. And even worse, I have very little patience with it. This is one of my remaining Achilles heels, where I can get very judgmental and with that, possibly a bit mean as well?!

I am not proud of that.

I do try to conduct myself in such a way that my professionalism is not compromised, biting my tongue to stop from blurting out any one of a number of thoughts running through my head…
Come on, do the work I’ve paid you to do!
Are you insane, how on earth…?
For crying out loud, snap to attention!

Instead, I clarify, when clarification is needed.
I explain, when understanding is lacking.
I point to reference documents, refer to praxis, ask for clarification, as appropriate.
Do my best, to help the process along, but inside… it’s hard not to get resentful. People who so clearly are done, spent, should not do what they do anymore. Or even don’t want to be and do what they are being and doing. As if serving the final years of a prison sentence, biding their time, before escaping, released from their responsibilities, their position, their work.

Possibly… what triggers me is my fear of becoming like that?
Or the discomfort I receive when picking up on the energy exuded?
Whatever it is, there’s both a physical and a mental rejection within me, informing me this is not a road I want to head down. Quite the opposite.

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.
This gives me a choice.
If I don’t find it worth doing, either I get to find something else to do, or I get to shift my approach, to find the worth of doing within me.

Easier said than done?
Sure.
But that’s life, isn’t it?
And I for one would not want a life of easy, honestly.
I want to butt up against the edges of my capacity, my capability, my comfort.

Perhaps that’s why, now and again, I come across a full-fledged professional, right after having met a hack? Both of them challenge me. Both of them have me up against the edges of my capacity, capability, comfort zone. In totally different ways, but still. I learn and grow from the experience.

What if, from now on, when I come across the pro, I say thanks for the learnings?
What if, from now on, when I come across the hack, I say thanks for the learnings?
Might that make it easier for me to refrain from the judgment? Worth a try!


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

August 16, 2020
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Lying on the bench beneath the apple tree, reading, a weird noise had me look up at the lime tree arbor, only to see a lovely red squirrel making its way up and across the arbor, into the neighbor’s trees. According to Animal-Speak Pocket Guide by Ted Andrews, the message from me is:
Balance your work and play. Prepare for the future, but do not get lost in preparations. Find ways to gather and to gift.

Given how my work plans for the upcoming 1-2 years has just gotten upended, and how I’ve not balanced work and play properly for the past year, I acknowledge that message. Then, dove number two for the week, comes into my life, as the neighbor texts me late at night, asking if I’ve seen the odd-looking dove sitting on the roof of the joint garden shed. I hadn’t but hoped it would stay on high ground to ensure Pop the cat wouldn’t make a repeat performance of the dove-incident earlier in the week.

In the morning, I opened the blinds, and there s/he was, perched atop the roof still. By the time I was headed off around lunch, the neighbor texted again, saying it had flown away… into my garden, unfortunately. Nervously, I let it be, and jumped on my bike, fingers crossed that Pop (or any of the neighboring cats) would stay away, as it sure seemed an easy target at ground level.

Got back in the afternoon, to see my youngest having spent an hour in the deck chair, hanging out with the bird, which definitely isn’t your garden-variety type dove, that’s for sure.

Luckily, in the days of internet, with a few clicks and shared pictures in SoMe, I got a DM and found out this type of dove is an ”Iranian dove, called baghdadi”, usually bought in pairs, and quite pricey at that. (It’s amazing the things you have no idea you will learn in a day!)

I took over the deck chair from Mr B, book in hand, with ears on high alert, scanning the area for the sound of Pop the cat approaching (thank god for that bell!), and all of a sudden, there it was! I jumped out of the deck chair and latched onto Pop so quick he must’ve wondered how come I was in such a hurry to get him inside, serving up a new scoop of kibbles without him having to make even the tiniest of miaow’s.

By now, we’re approaching 20 hours of this dove hanging out here, and it’s clear beyond any reasonable doubt that it’s 1) not gonna fly away on its own and 2) not a wild dove. I call the police, wanting to report the find, as well as check to see if anyone had reported it missing, but no such luck. So I bring out the kitty carrier, a blanket and Mr B, intent on catching it. After a few botched attempts, we borrow a net from the neighbors, and Mr B, quick as lightning, got him/her! I got it transferred to the blanket, we try to find a band on its legs, but cannot see any, so I pop it into the carrier and take it for a walk… a few blocks away, to my friend with chickens and both a winter and a summer coop. Luckily, that meant the winter coop was up for grabs, and the little one settled in perfectly, oohed and aahed over by it’s new (temporary?!) caretaker-family.

Knowing my new-found feathered friend would now be safe and sound (from cats and birds of prey), and extremely well cared for, I walked home with my empty pet carrier, quite pleased with myself, while simultaneously wondering at the message of the dove, as this was my second encounter in the same week. The Pocket Guide tells me: A new cycle of opportunities is at hand. They bring a time of peace and prophecy. Mourn and release what has passed for new birth.

I was curious enough to google and find some more, that resonates greatly:
The dove spirit animal is associated with transitional periods. It will usually appear to you if you need a break from your stressful and hectic life. The dove meaning is amplified when you are craving for peace and quiet, or stillness and clarity. When the dove totem appears, it’s a sign for you to make that new beginning and look forward to a fresh new start.

Also, this:
The dove represents peace of the deepest kind. It soothes and quiets our worried or troubled thoughts, enabling us to find renewal in the silence of the mind. Doves teach us that, regardless of external circumstances, peace is always a touch a way – within us – and always available. It is said that if a dove flies into your life, you are being asked to go within and release your emotional disharmony. The dove helps us to rid the trauma stored deep within our cellular memory. Doves carry the energy of promise. When inner conflicts are banished from our thoughts, words and feelings, goodness awaits.

Given the way my summer has evolved, with me more or less doing nothing, going nowhere (physically, at least), it’s definitely been a time of finding renewal in the silence of the mind. Given that I’ve not just got the one dove messenger, but two, in but a few days, it seems it’s time to release whatever emotional disharmony I am harboring…

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I am not alone.

June 20, 2020
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Today we recorded another episode of Buddhas by the Roadside, spending most of the time talking about (dis)embodiment. Somewhere along the lines of conversation, jumping from bare feet, to menstrual cycles, to what gets schooled out of humans during childhood and in adult life, the amazement of the designs behind the human body as well as the bodies of tigers and penguins and house-cats, I was reminded of this passage, which I’d read earlier in the morning. It can be found on June 19th in The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo.

”This is why it helps to share our journey with others, because in so doing we become a chorus of voices, and the stress of going solo lessens once we discover that we are not alone.”

I don’t remember what stepping stone(s) brought me to it in the Buddhas-conversation, but I remember why I’d snapped a photo of it upon reading it. When I went for the shotgun-approach *again*, caught myself in the act, and then sort-of did a combo shotgun/sniper rifle-approach instead, one of my fellow The Creative’s Workshoppers got inspired and wrote something along the lines of taking my lead.

”This is why it helps to share our journey with others, because in so doing we become a chorus of voices, and the stress of going solo lessens once we discover that we are not alone.”

As I read these lines, I was reminded of how happy that made me. The knowing (!) that I am not alone.

For some reason (I believe it to be deep, the need to know we are not alone. Deeply existential. The most basic fear of humans is that of being shunned. We are not solitary creatures.) knowing she’d follow along, had me exhale. In relief. Knowing (!) I am not alone.

And. If I hold it in, whatever it is that has me think I am the only person on Earth feeling this… If I hold it in, not giving anyone the opportunity, the possibility, to reach out a hand, tap me on the shoulder, and gently say Oh my friend, I know what you are feeling. Been there, done that. You are not alone.

Indeed, sharing is caring holds multiple meanings.
And I am enamored with them all.


#tankespjärn, for those who wish to discover. More. Other. New.
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Women Who Run With the Wolves (book 5 of 12)

June 13, 2020
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Women Who Run With the Wolves.
By Clarissa Pinkola Estés.

In a sense. That’s enough.
You should simply get a hold of this book and read it. Regardless if you’ve read it before or not. Read it.

”Creativity is a shapechanger.”

550 pages of gold. Pure gold.
I would estimate that less than 20% of those pages have escaped my pen, my marginalia is on most every page. And there’s probably at least 100 dog-ears as well, pointing to the absolute gems of the book. The pieces I simply cannot imagine not being able to easily find again.

”As we create, this wild and mysterious being is creating us in return, filling us with love. We are evoked in the way creatures are evoked by sun and water. we are made so alive that we in turn give life out; we burst, we bloom, we divide and multiply, we impregnate, incubate, impart, give forth.”

The quotes I’ve chosen are from the chapter named Clear Water: Nourishing the Creative Life, and this book will forever be intimately linked within me, with The Creative’s Workshop, which I started about the same time I picked up the book. Even more so the weekly Reading Retreats I’ve shared with a few of my fellow workshoppers, which is where I’ve gotten a lot of hours into this book.

”If you are scared, scared to fail, I say begin already, fail if you must, pick yourself up, start again. If you fail again, you fail. So what? Begin again. It is not the failure that holds us back but the reluctance to begin over again that causes us to stagnate. If you’re scared, so what? If you’re afraid something’s going to leap out and bite you, then for heaven’s sake, get it over with already. Let your fear leap out and bite you so you can get it over with and go on. You will get over it. The fear will pass. In this case, it is better if you meet it head-on, feel it, and get it over with, than to keep using it to avoid cleaning up the river.”

As this is one of the twelve English books I’ve chosen to do book reflections on upon finishing them, the simple fact that I’ve written not just one, but two blog posts referring to Women Who Run With the Wolves before the official blog post on it, says a lot.

The fact that I’ve brought it up in threads in The Creative’s Workshop more than ten times, adds even more weight.

And then there’s the realization that this is The Book I would bring with me to a deserted island if ever asked that somewhat cheesy question What book would you bring with you to a deserted island? I imagine I will be rereading it over and over again. Or simply use this book as my daily companion (replacing The Book of Awakening, perchance?), picking it up, flicking to a random page, and reading a stanza or two.

”A powerful way to renew or strengthen one’s intention or action that has become fatigued is to throw some ideas away, and focus.
Take three hairs out of your endeavor and throw them to the ground. There they become like a wake-up call. Throwing them down makes a psychic noise, a chime, a resonance in the woman’s spirit that causes activity to occur again. The sound of some of one’s many ideas falling away becomes like an announcement of a new era or a new opportunity.”

Now you’ve gotten even more, and yet, only from one chapter. And there’s. So. Much. More.
So. If you weren’t convinced when I wrote this to start with, I write it again:
Get a hold of this book and read it. Regardless if you’ve read it before or not. Read it.


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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Betrayal occurs

June 12, 2020
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Betrayal occurs when those who have power see the trouble and look away. Betrayal occurs when people break promises, hedge on vows of help, protection, speaking for, standing with, withdrawing from acts of courage and acting preoccupied, indifferent, unaware, and so forth instead.

– Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run with the Wolves

I haven’t finished reading this book yet.
I thought I would be done by now because I did finish the book part of it earlier this week, but then, I peeked at the notes. And was hooked.

Imagine.
A book where the notes section – you know, with minuscule font size, page upon page, referring to something you simply cannot be bothered to flick back through the book to find… – draws you in. Where it contains almost the same amount of marginalia-worthy, dog-ear-enticing phrases and pieces of information as the book part of the book. Like this stanza.

Betrayal occurs when those who have power see the trouble and look away. Betrayal occurs when people break promises, hedge on vows of help, protection, speaking for, standing with, withdrawing from acts of courage and acting preoccupied, indifferent, unaware, and so forth instead.

Have you been betrayed?
I have.

Have you betrayed?
Looked away? Broken a promise, hedged on vows to help, stayed silent, pretending to be busy with other things?
I have.

I think there’s not a person on earth who would answer these questions differently.
And I don’t know that that is something to strive for.

But getting conscious about it.
When I betray – or even better, when I am about to. Giving me an opportunity to n o t.

Betrayal occurs when those who have power see the trouble and look away.

Daring to witness me, call me out on my own bullshit.
To n o t look away.
Not from the trouble, and not from me, trying to escape – myself?


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

March 12, 2020
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And slowly… it’s as if the world – my world yes, but also The world – is slowing down on account of COVID-19 aka the Coronavirus. And as weird as it might sound, I breathe out; a sigh of relief.

This does not mean that I am happy about the situation. Of course not. It will cause human suffering and deaths, and I hope we will be able to flatten the curve enough to give more people a chance to come through the ordeal that we are facing alive and well.

But I think there are many who, like me, can benefit from having to do a retake on life. For the past eight months I’ve been working much more away from home, at the offices of my clients, than in years prior. I’ve been struggling, not having as much time with myself as I’m used to. I am lucky that much of the work I do can be done from home, even though I’ve been doing a lot of it on client sites recently.

With the world slowing down anyway, I’ve taken the opportunity to look at my priorities, to look at what signals my calendar transmits. What of my top priorities are visible in my calendar, and what is not? Reflecting on what I want in life, and what I don’t want, realizing many things.

A lot of what I do want is there. I make room for it. But I’d want to make more room for it.

What I don’t want, is to a large extent not there. But prioritizing amongst my multiverse of assignments and projects and commitments makes it easier to ensure my calendar properly mirrors that order of priority.

This also means, that there are a few things present in my life without me necessarily wanting them to be. Prioritizing had me cancel a few upcoming trips (which, in view of the current pandemic, also is the most rational and responsible thing I can do); it also had me turn down an assignment that I would have said Yes to just a few days ago, has I not opened my own eyes to my responsibility to ensure my life is set up, as best I can, according to what is truly important to me, that which resides in my core.

No wonder I breathe a sigh of relief at having my world slow down, as it already had me gain clarity on life, on what’s important – truly important – and making sure there’s both room, energy and action to match that.

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Approaching the event horizon from the unknown

February 25, 2020
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There’s that blank stare… from me. Looking out. At nothing. Past everything, into the void beyond, the unknown, into the depths of that which contains multitudes…. but it’s as if I simply cannot see. As if I am blind. As if I am unhooked, uncoupled, unconnected. A single entity floating around in space, all alone, with nothing to latch onto.

What to write about?

Writer’s block doesn’t exist.

Nah.
True.

And yet… sometimes I have to prompt myself with precisely what I do now. Not knowing what to write, having no clear sense of purpose, no ideas popping, eagerly awaiting being put down on paper… so I just start typing. Seeing what comes out.

Sometimes utter rubbish.
Sometimes surprising myself, with content or form.
Sometimes publishing it.
Sometimes not.

But many times, just the simple fact of putting pen to paper (finger to keyboard. I have to come up with a more poetic and beautiful analogy to the pen to paper-one, can you help?) eases me out of that void, into the world of the living, pulling me back from the depths of despair (slight exaggeration, but it’s a lovely alliteration!) and having me stumble onto the event horizon, from the other way, as it were. Normally I come onto it from the known, slowly, gently, softly, inch by inch getting closer to it. Not so now. Now, it’s more as if I am hurled around in space, and there it is, the event horizon, the semblance of things I do no visible beyond the edge, I’d better grab a hold of it. Tossing out my arm, making contact with the event horizon, getting my breath beaten out of me from the impact.

There.
Breathing. Gently. In. Out. In. Out.

Coming from that place, the unknown, the void within (without?), the event horizon has a surprisingly solid feel to it, in contrast to when I ease onto it from the known.

Shifting perspectives (and this is what #tankespjärn is for me) provides that opportunity.
Opening up for an exploration of new vistas, new experiences, new possibilities.

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