I am not alone.
I am not unloved.
I am simply not walking next to someone on a daily basis
Am not waking up next to someone on a daily basis either.
Except now and then, when Pop the cat obliges me…
Woke early. Tossed for a bit, and then turned on the light and finished reading The End of the Ocean by Maja Lunde, a book which in Norwegian and Swedish is titled Blue. (Yes. A very worthwhile read.) Did a Deepak Chopra meditation prior to my 15 minutes of deep-breathing according to Wim Hof, before getting up, accompanied throughout by Pop the cat. Finished with the morning routine and went to grab my computer to put it in my backpack when I remembered…
I prompted myself to get back to morning blogging late last night, and so. Here I am.
Ready to leave for work, with a slight headache, the type of slight hangover-sensation-from-working-too-much-headache, that has been a shadowy companion for the past few weeks, when, indeed, I have been working a bit too much.
I love it.
There’s a lot of work to do right now, and for that I am truly grateful, and yet, I should take my own advice and look just a wee bit at what I could possibly subtract.
Wim Hof, meditation, Seven-exercise, cold bathing and such? No.
Or rather. All of these I say Yes to, vehemently Yes!
Now. I could continue listing all of my Yes:es. But I won’t. There’s a-plenty, that’s for sure.
But the interesting thing is, that as I sit here… I struggle to find even one thing I want to give up, to pause, to stop. Forever, or just for a while.
(And yeah. I know. I did this exercise not too long ago. But hey, bear with me. I’m still learning, and am definitely but a human being, having a very human experience here on Earth, so… now and again, it takes a couple of tries before insights truly land. By which I mean, that the shift they imply, whatever it may be, is actually implemented. By Being. By Doing.)
So perhaps it’s more a matter of finding the balance within the project I am working at the moment, where we are in a very intense phase at the moment, a phase that will last at least until the first week of July. Refraining from checking my emails as often when I am ”not at the office”? Getting a bit more diligent with my digital sabbats? Ensuring I have resting time, me-time, be-time, more than I do now?
That might be worth looking into and taking action on (ironically, as the resting time in a sense implies less action-taking).
But hey. It’s 8:20 am, and I have done my daily blog! Whoop!
(Celebrate what you can, when you can – what a great mantra to bring into daily life!)
I have to say, those 30 minutes of daily gardening, have proven to be something that’s truly turned into a wonderful gift. For myself.
And I want to do it, but I don’t have to do it. It is a choice, one I’ve made, and I don’t have to remake it every day, but then again, if there’s neither room nor energy for gardening, then I will not beat myself up for skipping a day.
I know I am Champion of Runstreaks (2090 days of Seven-morning workouts in a row, is all the proof I need; not that I need it) and hence, the 30 minutes of daily gardening doesn’t have to do with that. But rather… ever since my ex-husband and I separated in the fall of 2016, the garden has fallen into greater and greater disarray, as he was the one who spent a lot of time tugging at weeds, cutting the miniature lawn and trimming the hedges. Last year when I thought to ask Mr D if he wanted to assist me in cultivating my garden I had also promised myself not to vacation away from home… which definitely isn’t how it turned out. Instead, I spent 10 days in Kenya and 12 days touring UK, Belgium and the Netherlands… not to mention working like crazy.
This year, I will spend my summer here. At home. Which is just what I want, and have wanted for a couple of years, and finally will have the opportunity to do. I made myself the promise to not leave home come the summer of 2020, and on account of the pandemic that’s a promise I can easily live up to… but hey, if I can find something positive in the current situation, that’s a good thing, in my view. So I won’t beat myself up over that either.
And I enjoy it.
Sticking my hands in the dirt. Sowing a row of carrots here, a row or two of radishes there. Watering the prepared beds, tugging at some weeds. Getting rid of last year’s rasp- and blackberry brambles, starting to attack the wild roses going rogue at the front of the house.
Being bathed in the soft evening sunshine, listening to the birds chirping away. Now and again sharing a word or two with my lovely neighbors, or for that matter, passing seedlings back and forth across the fence. Sitting underneath the apple tree overfilled with blossoms, talking to and petting Pop the cat, coming to keep tabs on me.
All the while, supported and aided by Mr D, either here, in person, helping me dig, plant, prepare, telling me what goes where, and in what combinations. Or there, online, cheering me on when I send him a daily text with photos, sharing my daily gardening-session with him.
I enjoy it.
I love it!
“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.”
“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.”
I didn’t really have an answer, so he asked if I wanted to hear his impression. Yes, please tell me, I responded. What else could I say, being a Curious George and all that…
So he said, slow down. That’s the message I got, to slow down. Ease up a little.
I’ve carried the message with me, this past week, using it as a baseline to reflect on what I am doing, in which areas, and how it all serves me. Or doesn’t, for that matter.
Coming to a realization that for quite some time I’ve been pushing all my own buttons. At the same time. Working on all areas, simultaneously. Pushing against the boundaries of my comfort zone… no, that’s untrue. I’ve been pushing against the boundaries of my stretch zone, going dangerously into the red snap zone… in many, if not all, areas of life.
I realized, as I took in the message I was sending but not picking up on, that I don’t have to work in all areas, everywhere, all the time. It is not only reasonable but actually wise, to heed the advice of the master of self-care, Pop the cat. Let myself rest, consolidate, push fewer buttons, letting come that which wants to come, given that I let go of that which has done its job.
So I breathe in. Hold it, for a few seconds. Then… exhale, letting go of a bit of the urge within, to be done. Knowing it’s not at the finishing line the reward of this journey lies. It is the journey itself. That is the reward. The growth. The expansion. The learning. That which is life. Living it. Loving it. Letting go to let come, and reveling in each twist and turn, each nook and cranny, falling through internal trap doors, one after the other. All the while being open. And gentle. Knowing my gentleness towards myself is that which ensures the openness, the willingness, the ability to step without hesitation into the next inch of the unknown.
As a direct result of the reflective process of this past week, I honored myself today.
Saying No to others. Saying Yes to me.
Slowing down. Easing up.
What are you thinking about?, I asked.
He looked at Pop the cat lying next to him on the sofa, carefully grooming himself, and said I am thinking about the self-care of cats. They are absolute masters at self-care. Look at him – carefully, meticulously and with the greatest care in the world, he’s gently taking really good care of himself. Licking his front leg, over and over, slowly brushing his leg over his face, licking once more, brushing his face. He, like all cats, simply excels at self-care.
That is what cats are, the self-care masters of the world!
I greatly enjoy watching Pop when he wakes up in the morning (often at the foot end of my bed, where he gladly can stay the entire night – never too long in one place, in one position, knowing, albeit he’s deep in sleep, that his body still needs to move to be supple in the morning), slowly stretching, growing to twice his length by reaching as far as he can with both front and hind legs. Twisting and turning his spine, getting vertebraes, blood, muscles and sinews going – mimicking Turning Torso, or rather, giving a perfect example of why Calatrava called his building just that.
And as I sit here, in the sofa once more (yes. I like my sofa.), guess who just came to snuggle up close to me? Yup, Pop the cat. And guess what he’s doing? Yup, practicing self-care! He’s a great role model, and an even greater reminder for me to practice self-care, as he’s around a lot (which he is because he’s a truly sociable cat, enjoying the company of people young and old alike).
My morning green smoothie, my Seven, my Headspace-meditation, my blogging, my reading, my moving around – a walk, a bike ride, a slow run. Those are the self-care-practices that come to mind, when I think about it. Having deep conversations with significant friends is another one, that is high on the list.
What type of self-care do you practice? And who is your guiding light, your role model, reminding you about taking good care of yourself?
I’m a cat person. Love them, and have since I knew how. Have had cats most of my life, one or more, at most I’ve had three cats at the same time. Bilbo and Bombadil were joined by Pippin when Bilbo went on a walkabout for six weeks and Bombadil was desperate for a pal. So we got Pippin the kitten, and a few weeks later, Bilbo returned. Three cats is actually a lot more than two, somehow. But we made it work.
Have never been able to train my cats much. Walking on a leash is something none of my cats have ever learned. Bilbo would flop down on the floor as if he’d become instantly paralysed whenever I put the leash on him, totally unable to walk. Pop actually knows how…. but he moved in when he was three years old and already knew this skill. Besides that, he will gladly join us for walk around the neighborhood even without a leash, so he’s a special cat, that’s for sure.
So when I saw the episode title “How to train your cat” on Fresh Air, I was intrigued and started to listen to it. Rapidly I understood, that in reality, I’m the one who’s been trained, by all my cats! They seem to know instinctively how to train their humans to do precisely what they want, whether it’s letting them out at four am, providing more food than planned, petting an upturned hairy tummy or, for that matter, immediately to stop petting that very same upturned hairy tummy. I’m a well-trained human I admit. But this is all about to change, as the podcast actually gave me a new perspective on this. Or perhaps it’s more just to say, I intend to even the odds a bit.
I will no longer let Pop the cat out at four am in the morning when he’s walking around screaming to be let out. Because every time I do, I am reinforcing his knowledge that this is how it works: If i miow loud enough and long enough, she’ll crawl groggily out of bed and let me out. And he did train me well! But no more.
So for a couple of early mornings, when Pop has let me know he want’s to go out (pressing needs perhaps? There is a litter box, he’s in no dire straits, I promise) somewhere around four five am, I’ve not let him out. I’ve invited him up onto the bed, but that’s the extent of my interaction with him in the wee hours of morning. And lo and behold, after a few frustrated minutes walking about, up and down the stairs, miowing, he relents. Sometimes he plonks down on my bed. The other day he chose Almas bed instead. Today he chose the sofa downstairs, so that when I got up around seven and went downstairs to pick up my phone and iPad (morning writing you know), me met me by the front door, and – without him making a sound – I let him out the door.
Same goes for food. Miowing in the past has meant that we relent, and give him some food, more than he actually should receive. If nothing else simply to shut him up. See – he’s trained us well, this cat! But no more. I am on to his training scheme and will refuse to play according to his rules anymore.
What I didn’t get from the podcast, which might be available in the book The trainable cat, is how to get Pop to indicate, with one (1) and only one miow, the desire to be let out and so on, but to stop after the one miow. Because I see him and hear him, and will – unless it’s five am in the morning – oblige. If we reach that point, I would be a very happy cat-owned human, that’s for sure. I’ll see if I can get a hold of that book – the story of me training Pop the cat and vise versa is to be continued…Read More
Part of living wholeheartedly, for me, means sharing. Sharing what I experience, what I think about, what I struggle with and what I rejoice in. This past week has been a good example, as Pop the cat went awol on Sunday the 23rd of October. We called for him, went looking all over, posted about him being gone all over Facebook, Instagram and other “cat’s gone awol”-sites available out there. Reported him missing to the police, put up Missing-posters in the neighborhood, called the local veterinarian and in all manners made it clear that we needed help to find him again.
And how people responded!
Came with tips and ideas, shared the Missing-cat-post all over the web, kept an eye out whenever they were out and about in the neighborhood as well as contacted me with possible Pop-sightings.
And then today, six days after he went missing, me and the kids were coming home from a festive gathering outside of town, and as we were being dropped off on the street outside our house, we all heard a cat meowing really loudly, not pleased with life at all. It sure sounded like Pop, but we’d all gone down that road so many times the past week, that we had a hard time believing it could actually be. So we took off down the street, once again, with hope bubbling up in our bellies, to find whatever cat was making such a ruckus, and a few houses down the street, there he was! In the garden of a neighbor, just let out of their garage. They’d been away, and came home to weird noises in the garage.
Right now, Pop is sitting on the sofa table staring me down, pissed at me for not letting him out. Or, at least, for not providing enough food to make up for the lost food intake of the past week. I’m figuring I’ll go easy on both – wanting him inside the house at least until the morning, and a little food now and again, to make sure his system doesn’t crash and burn after going on an involuntary diet for six days.
So now I’ve been sharing my joy at this moment, all over the Internet, calling the police to retract the missing-cat-report, letting everyone know Pop’s back in da house!Read More
Sitting in bed reflecting on the past year. As always when I write these yearly reflections I start off slow, not really remembering… and then, slowly, the paper is filled up, with travels, experiences and moment of learning. One by one they add up, to form an amazing cavalcade of (parts of) what 2016 brought forth for me.
Pop the cat
A year ago he moved in with us, Pop the cat. This wonderfully friendly cat, who’s managed to charm not just us, but most of the neighborhood. He likes to take walks with us, but as the generous cat he is, he doesn’t restrict himself to family only, but gladly hooks up with anyone going for a walk along the neighborhood.
Finally got my act together to set up my very own, personal, writers retreat in January. My friend Therese let me use her sweet little guest house in the deep forests of Småland, and I wrote, wrote and wrote some more. A wonderful experience, that I promised myself on a quarterly basis. I didn’t manage that – but the ambition still holds! – but I did manage a second writers retreat in October. This time around Sus in Sävsjö provided the location (Småland again!), and me and Sara wrote, wrote and wrote some more on our joint book project. We booked several more writers retreats in the spring, to ensure that we – in 2017 – will create all the material we deem necessary, to take the project to the next phase.
A course in a special type of falsetto singing used traditionally in Sweden to get the cattle to come home
I don’t even know how to translate kulning, which is the Swedish word for this course. Anyway, it was great fun, and absolutely crazy! I found a course in my Facebook-feed, which I shared because it was enticing to me. I hesitated though, until Sara from the writers retreat actually went and registered for it. Then and there I decided to join her, so in June we spent two days singing this special type of sone, in the wonderful surroundings of Stenshuvud. We let loose strong forces of nature, that’s for sure!
Seattle/Vancouver-trip with the family
The first item that I actually managed to cross off my Bucket List! Almost three weeks together in Seattle, on the Olympic Peninsula, in Vancouver and with a shorter trip on Iceland than planned – however, still long enough to give us the opportunity to experience the Blue Lagoon.I want to give you a tip as well, AirHelp assisted us when the final flight back from Iceland was more than four hours delayed. We ended up getting a quarter of the flight cost for the entire trip back!
This has been a turbulent year – on the inside! – which culminated this fall, when me and hubby separated after fourteen years. This has resulted in many a reflections and countless tears, but also lots of love, closeness, laughter and wamrth, in so many levels. I am trying my best to stay open through out the ongoing process, rather than closed off. Because who says a love relationship has to look a certain way? Why not create the form that makes me and my loved ones feel the best we can, regardless if that would deviate from the norm or not? The exploration will continue in 2017, and I know this: together we are taking responsibility for the wellbeing of the entire family, which feels really good.
The book! What a journey. And what marvellous co-travellers I’ve been honored to co-create the book Medvetna Val – från offerkofta till möjlighetsmantel with! (The book is in Swedish and the title talks about the intentional decision to go from victimhood to acting on possibilities.) And the adventure will continue, that’s for sure. I look forward to it all, with the possible exception of the Swedish Book fair in Gothenburg in the fall. I was there this fall, and would gladly skip it next time around. Perhaps it was due to the impending separation and lots of uncertainty in my personal life at the moment, but regardless, there’s so much energy in the air in such occasions, that it drains me, more than rejuvenates me. Although I was thrilled at finally meeting up with the one and only Klas Parknäs in 3D and that was a great gift!
God Man – acting legal guardian for unaccompanied minors
My first Good Child (the Swedish term God Man, litteralt translates into Good Man so I call the children under my charge my Good Children!) turned eighteen which meant he no longer was deemed in need of my services, but in the nick of time, I got him registered for school, thanks to the willingness and flowing humanity of various officials. My second Good Child who has a permanent residence permit, also turned eighteen this fall, and he’s got enough drive to last him his entire lifetime. It will take him far! Am no longer God Man for him either, for the same reason (turned eighteen) but we stay in touch and each time I see him I rejoice! When my youngest Good Child turned thirteen, and two months later got a permanent residence permit, I cried from happiness and relief. All of this warms my heart!
But sometimes, my heart breaks instead. Since two months back, my forth Good Child (also turned eighteen, so I am no longer acting legal guardian) sleep in my living room on a cot we set up for him. In the middle of January we are called to the Migration court as a result of having appealed the ruling of the Swedish Migration Board not to let him stay in Sweden. I would like to ask you to keep us in your thoughts – the odds that the court will overturn the ruling are not good. But there is a chance, and that’s what we try to keep in mind! And if you, or anyone you know, can assist us with arranging better living accommodations for him than a spare bed in my living room, please get in touch!
Two blogs and writing
A year ago, at long last, I separated my Swedish and English writings. My blog up till then had become a jumble of Swedish and English posts, and it felt messy. Now it’s purely Swedish and English respectively, and it feels much better to me. I often write in the mornings, and when I sit down, I just start writing, in one of the two languages. Whatever comes comes. Very interesting, as I never really know what language it will be. I do enjoy writing, that’s for sure, and I’ve got several book projects cooking, so the story will continue…
In Seattle, during the summer, Pokémon Go was released, which had my son immediately expropriate my cell phone, to toks balls hither and dither. I started an account myself, but not until we got back to Sweden and organized the youngsters cell phone-problems, did I start playing for real. And what joy this has given me this past fall! I’ve walked and walked, alone and with my son, and since Christmas Day, much to our mutual delight, my daughter has also joined us in playing. So you can bet on us continuing to chase Pokémons in the vicinity. It’s a very easygoing and humble way to hang with the kids, and at the same time be outside in motion. Cat the Pop often joins us when we take our Pokémon-chasing-walks, which adds to the charm.
Getting issues on the roof fixed; re-planting the front yard; repairing the kitchen cooker hood fan and exchanging the refrigerator door seal; finally ordering a large amount of fire wood for the fireplace.
Odds and ends (called sourdoughs in Swedish, which gives you a bit of colloquialism to enjoy) that haven’t made it off the To-Do-list in years, now actually got done. And actual sourdough as well! I attended a cooking class in September with Jan Hedh, a famous Swedish pastry cook and baker, who gave us all a bit of a rye sourdough originating in San Fransisco 1969. It’s thriving at home with us, and I bake a couple of times every month.
Took a Walk n Talk with Anders Roos the first week of January, connected by Inga-Lill, who had a hunch that we should meet. She didn’t know why, but boy was she ever right! Our Walk led me and Anders Nordgren to join Anders inco-creating a project that he came up with, and had started to act upon.
The project ”Våra Berättelser – vi som flytt(at) hit” (which means “Stories of those who’ve moved or fled here”) is a photo- and text project where people who’ve enriched our country for more than half a century will tell their stories. The public debate centers on fear, with a focus on difficulties and costs. We need a material that shows all the benefits we’ve received from the people who’ve come here, but more than that, material that will show who they are.
That’s how we describe it, this very important project close to my heart, where I will be the one producing the texts. And for certain, this is not the last you will hear about this!
Ann had a big birthday so she invited ladies close to her heart for a castle weekend. Not a lot of ladies actually made it to the weekend, which perhaps was for the best, because it surely was a god’s send! Spending the weekend just being, held in love, by some of my closest friends, was rejuvenating. You know how important this was for me, just then, just there, but still: thank you, from the bottom of my heart!
My hands have started to work again. I am in creation mode! I’ve knotted caps, wrist warmers, wash cloths, a wonderful shawl and am busy making a sweater. I cannot even remember last time I knitted myself a sweater… but now I’ve got one going!
To be precise, 4806 burpees since May 28th 2016, when I was invited to joined a 100-day-burpee-challenge by a friend. 3000 burpees in the first one hundred days, and since then, I just kept going. I do burpees every day – haven’t gone a day without at least a few, since May 28th! – and have, in 2016, done four thousand eight hundred six of them.
This, and so much more, is the gifts 2016 brought for me! I collect all these memories of the past year, and let go of what I don’t need to bring with me into 2017. Letting go of that which no longer serves, to be able to let come what which want’s to happen!
With the warmest gratitude I send you wishes of a wonderful new and happy year ahead. I surely look forward to what will manifest for us all in 2017!Read More
I’ve always been to impatient to ever train my cats to walk by the leash. However, several times I’ve lived with cat’s who have been trained by others, and I’ve occasionally enjoyed taking a walk with them. But more than anything I enjoy taking a walk with a cat, as equal partners. Not putting the leash on, but rather, me headed out for a walk and a cat joining me. On their own volition.
Now that I think about it, I remember the walks I used to take with my cat Bilbo, who died, oh, quite a few years ago. Eight-nine years ago possibly? Anyway. He was a special cat and highly loved. Me and him used to go mushroom picking in the forest surrounding the small cottage in Småland that my extended family utilized many years ago. I would take the wicker basket on my arm, and head out, and he’d join me. We would continuously talk to each other, meowing back and forth, as we walked, loosing visual, but always within hearing distance. I enjoyed that so much.
The other day, my three-year old cat Pop, who’s only been with us since January 2016, came with me, as I headed out for an after-lunch-walk in Bulltofta, the recreational area across the street from where we live. And he did the same as Bilbo used to do. Kept talking to me, so I talked back. We passed the allotments, keeping in close contact.
As I tried to walk along the gravel path, he disagreed with my choice and led me across the frisbee-golf field, up onto another path, where I marveled about the wondrous design of dandelions.
Most often I took the lead and he followed behind. Sometimes he had me retrace my steps, because he clearly found a better route for us. I obeyed, of course, and he was always right.
After roughly one kilometer walking together, he dumped me. I went to the library, and to the grocery shop, and he went his own way, on his walk-about in the woods.
And then… a well-deserved rest on the sofa. What a treat, to have such a sweet presence staying with us, clearly enjoying our company, completely safe in the bosom of the family. How grateful I am that our paths crossed!Read More