practice

Yesterday I went on a strike.

Yesterday I went on a strike.

April 21, 2020
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Yesterday I went on a strike.

I. Did. Not. Blog.

I just didn’t feel like it. I had nothing on my mind worth saying, and no inkling of what I might come up with, and… most importantly, no desire to.
So I let myself off the hook and simply did not blog.

It’s not much of a strike really, but given the ease with which I stick to habits, deliberately not sticking to them once in a while is more of a stretch for me than sticking to them. So, in a sense, by not blogging I was putting myself on the spot, not letting myself off the hook as much as getting me on it, because it takes more for me to break a habit than stick to it.

And I need that.
Once in awhile, I need – want! Thrive on! – to stir the pot, to surprise me by not going on routine and habit, but deliberately, consciously, with engaged awareness, question my habitual choices. Like daily 1) blogging 2) morning seven-minute exercise 3) deep-breathing-practice 4) 10+ kilometers in my body, and a number of other things I do daily or weekly.

Do my habitual practices a l w a y s serve me?

Are there moments when I am best served by not doing them?

What happens to me when I do them without really wanting to? W
ithout being present to what I am doing?
Do they still serve me then?

Is there a threshold when habits go from serving to not-serving, perhaps even becoming harmful?
And what does it take for me to pick up on that?

Who do I need to be, in order to give me the nourishment I need, when what I need shifts?

So many questions.
And luckily, no need to actually answer them as such, but rather, just to let them be. Throw them out there, and see, if anything comes back to me. An answer? Another way to look at things? A new question, deepening my reflection?


#tankespjärn, for those who wish to discover. More. Other. New.
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Advent Calendar – December 19, 2019

December 19, 2019
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Mukau trees at Nyongoro, with one of our two buses in front of the magnificent baobab tree; the green leafage proof that the climate here – closer to the ocean – differs from Kiambere, where there were no leaves on the baobab trees. As stunning as these trees are with their green finery, when the only thing you see is the very peculiar and unique silhouette of the tree itself, without leaves, it’s even more special. Not for nothing are they called the life of trees.

At the Nyongoro plantation which is a total of 32 000 hectares large, only about a thirtieth of the land has been planted, if my memory (and hearing during the visit) serves me. The Kiambere plantation has been visible on Google maps for years, and now you can see the Nyongoro plantation there as well.

However, the plantations are just one aspect of the tree plantation of Better Globe Forestry. Since 2016 there is an active and growing outgrower-program in place with partner farmers, some of whom we got to visit. Once contracted,  the partner farmers (about half of whom are women) basically get free business development from the Agroforestry Agents employed by Better Globe Forestry, helping the farmers in many ways, both relating to the planting and caring for the mukau trees themselves, as to how they can increase their yield by improved irrigation, mulching and so on.

One farmer we talked to told of mukau trees he’d planted before becoming a partner farmer, comparing them to the ones he’d planted since (with his newly gained knowledge, courtesy of the training he’s entitled to as a partner farmer). Guess what? In but a few years, the mukau trees he’d planted after becoming a Better Globe partner farmer had already outgrown the older trees. Knowledge of proper spacing, planting, watering, mulching and so on, transformed into practice makes a difference!


Advent Calendar for 2019: sharing pictures and stories/reflections from my trip to Kenya in June. I went to visit “my trees” and get a hands-on experience of the social entrepreneurship of the Kenyan forestry company that I buy trees through.

Full disclosure: I am proud to say I am both a customer and an ambassador for the company. If you are curious to find out more, let me know and I’ll gladly get in touch with you! Here’s my sponsored link: https://betterglobe.com/27216 

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Willing myself to write

September 30, 2019
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It’s past ten pm, I have yet to blog and finish a meditation challenge-activity as well as send off a challenging activity of my own to my digital #tankespjärn client, before I hop into bed. Pop the cat is draped elegantly across the sofa, right next to me, my guess is he’ll run after me once I get off the couch, to beat me to bed.

I am not really in blogging-mode, and yet, here I am, willing myself to write. You see, these past months I’ve not made time for blogging in my extremely jam-packed calendar, and it affects me. I ground myself when I write; I become aware of what I am, where I am, who I am when I sit down to let my fingers tip-toe across the keyboard. So the fact that I’ve been a busy bee coupled with the fact that I haven’t blogged is starting to take its toll. Blogging is a part of my wellbeing practice.

Had a friend suggest I ”just write, you don’t need to publish it”. But that’s just it. I don’t ”just write”. Or at least, way too seldom. Publishing my writings is what makes me write, especially as I have the intention to blog daily. That means I write daily, and that is of huge benefit to me.

So here I sit. Ten past ten at night, after a long day of three different networking meetings, four almost-half-hour bike rides, and both choir and guitar practice. Writing. Getting into the habit of blogging daily again. A habit that serves me.

Possibly I should take a helicopter view of my blogging routine, and set up a new set of intentions. Perhaps daily isn’t optimal? Perhaps it should be every other day, perhaps only on weekdays, perhaps… well. Who knows. For now, though, getting back on the horse again seems like the wisest thing I can do.

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Streaks

August 8, 2019
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Seth Godin celebrates eleven years of daily blogging, quite an impressive daily runstreak I must admit. I am far from his caliber (in this, as well as in most – all? – things) but I am quite good at runstreaks myself. It’s soon seven years since I started my Swedish blog, and 6,5 years since I commenced my habit of daily blogging. Which I have not kept up as diligently as Seth, but still, in seven years I have published 2249 blog posts. 2250 with this one. And as I started my more-or-less daily blogging habit on January 23rd 2013, which is 2389 days ago, I have missed 139 days. In 6,5 years. Corresponds to roughly 5 %, which inversely means I’ve blogged just short of 95% of the days since then.

Cool.

Yet.
That wasn’t the point I aimed for.

Seth writes “Streaks require commitment at first, but then the commitment turns into a practice, and the practice into a habit. Habits are much easier to maintain than commitments.

He is so spot on here.

In another runstreak of mine I have managed to stick to the 100% daily drill – I did my 1817th Seven-morning workout today upon waking up. Monday August 18th 2014 I started, and since, I have not missed a single day. It’s evolved from being a commitment, which definitely along the way turned into a habit. One I do not question. It’s not a matter of IF I should do my morning Seven. I just do it. I have made the decision, and put it in the Decision Box, to use the words of my friend Caspian.

I made a decision on August 18th, 2014, to start (and finish) the Seven-month challenge that Perigee (the app-makers) promotes. Every day, I could have revisited that decision. But I didn’t, because I’d already made it. And needless to say, by the end of those seven months, I just kept going.

If nothing else, committing to a runstreak, honoring it and making it a practice, to be rewarded by it becoming a habit is energy conserving. I spent my energy d o i n g my morning workout, rather than debating with myself whether or not I should do it.

Now.
This might not work for everyone. At least not if the Four Tendencies come close to describing how people respond to inner and outer expectations. Needless to say, I am an Upholder. I do not question for a second that Seth Godin is one as well.

However. I firmly believe everyone can find ways of transforming commitments into habits. What’s your way to enable this type of transformation for you?

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Advent Calendar 19 – Boost!

December 19, 2018
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In my Mastermind-group every second or third meeting we round off with a boost session, and I love it. Each person has their moment in the spotlight, with the rest of us taking turns appreciating the person in the hot seat. We’ve been going at Masterminding for 6 full years by now, and I’ve gotten good at both aspects – the giving as well as the receiving.

I know giving boost to someone is an act that might scare people. Others might be scared at receiving it.

But scary?
Well. I would challenge that, and say that it’s really about not being used to it. Because there’s nothing to fear. There’s no danger in it. And the more I practice, the better I get. With that, comes the lessened sense of feeling scared…

The gift of a boost can also be lessened by trying to reciprocate in the moment. If I am told Oh Helena, I love the way your mind works, it gives me new perspectives, and say, wholeheartedly, Thank you, really letting the boost land, sink in, reverberate within, the gift of the boost has been fully acknowledged. If, instead, perhaps I say Oh, well, thanks, but you give me new perspectives too, it’s almost as if I belittle the gift. As if I cannot receive without reciprocating in kind – which has the negative side-effect of people not really knowing if I truly mean what I say, or not.

Giving. Receiving.
Acts of kindness, both, whether or not it concerns boosts, or other things.
If one or the other makes you feel a but uncomfortable – practice. Give if you don’t really know how to. Receive if that makes you cringe. Because… when I give, someone else gets to receive. And when I receive, someone else gets to give.


Advent Calendar 2018 – number 19 of 24 – on the theme of being gentle.

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Daring greatly, with my guitar on my lap

September 21, 2017
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A year ago I started to take guitar lessons, every other Monday for forty minutes. That was about all the playing I did, despite having a clear image in my mind of me sitting with friends around a log fire on the beach, playing the guitar and singing. It looks so alluring. As a child I played the piano, and here’s a given: you do not bring the piano down to the beach to sit around a fire, playing and singing.

This summer I decided to play twenty minutes a day, for sixty days, and quickly got results. So when I heard Mandy Harvey sing Try on America’s Got Talent, I googled the chords and lyric and printed them out. I figured out a simple strumming pattern and started to practice.

On my own – no problem. I sing and play with all I’ve got. But as soon as my daily twenty minutes had to take place with people around (my closest family), either I got extremely self-conscius – having me try to play and sing, as opposed to actually playing and singing – or I simply skipped practice altogether.

But when we had a temporary house guest for a week, staying in the living room on account of not having a spare bedroom to offer him, I decided to stop with the “trying”. So I sat down, guitar in hand, and started to play and sing. For real. (The response I got was a “You’re not all bad at that!”.)

That same week we had my youngest niece staying for a night, and when the three youngsters in the house were busy watching YouTube, playing games and cuddle with Pop the cat, I pulled out my guitar and did my daily twenty. When I put the guitar away, my niece turned to me and said Oh, that was so nice!, giving me a bit of good “sitting around the fire on the beach”-vibes for the future.

And then I figured it out: The ultimate challenge for me! I set a reminder on my phone to bring the guitar on Friday morning. So when Pernilla Tillander, my partner-in-crime for a specific assignment for all the pre-school staff in a small Swedish commune, came to pick me up Friday morning, I opened the back door and tossed my guitar in the back. Pernilla turned around, said A guitar? How exciting! and I told her my plan:

We talk a lot about courage, being role models, and daring to do even though you might not be a fully fledged professional, so I figured I’d sing and play the song Try, what do you think about that?

Pernilla being Pernilla, was all for it, of course!

So that Friday I sat, guitar on my lap, and sang, morning and afternoon, for forty and fifty people respectively, after telling them this story. And you know what? I didn’t die, not even once. And the sky didn’t come crashing down. And none of it happened on the following Monday either, when I did a repeat performance for the last group of a total of seventy people!

Singing Try

If I messed up noow and again, both with my singing and my playing?
You bet, several times. That’s on the house!
If I felt less and less nervous each time?
You bet, the third time around my voice carried much better than the first two times.
If I’ve sung and played the guitar in front of pretty large groups?
You bet. Amazing!
If I would consider doing it again?
You bet!

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#blogg100 – Only a rumor.

March 25, 2017
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“Knowledge is only a rumor until it lives in the muscle.”

So say the Asaro tribe of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, and when I read it in Rising Strong, I nod my head in agreement. Because I can know a lot. But if I do not live it, what good is it to me?

Rising strong bwIt’s like when we force our children to “say you’re sorry” when they’ve hit a friend, or snitched the toy car from baby Jane in the sand box. We tell them to “Say you’re sorry.”, and they do. Not knowing why. Not understanding that a sorry doesn’t give you carte blanche to do the same thing again and again, in the days to come. As if a sorry would be enough, making it ok to keep on acting the same way, hitting a friend, snitching the car. It’s not. It’s an excuse, and if it’s a wholehearted excuse, a sorry that we truly feel, then attached to that is the unvoiced promise, that we will not act like that again. We won’t repeat the behavior that caused the apology in the first place, again, and again. At the very least, we vow to tro to be better, act better, grounding ourselves in values and a worldview on how to treat fellow human beings (and everything else on Earth).

If we do, keep it up, repeat it, over and over again – we’ve not understood anything.

And I claim, when we force kids to say sorry, we are making it into a rote behavior, rather than having them understand – with empathy and compassion – what just transpired and feel the sorrow within, the regret, the knowledge that what just happened was unwelcome, and an apology is one way forward.

“Knowledge is only a rumor until it lives in the muscle.”

Knowledge is of use, when it is used. When I make use of it, having it “live in my muscles”, becoming part of who I am, what I do, and why I do it. When I use it to help me be the better me, become the best me possible. And it’s great to have a repository of knowledge within, that I can use when it’s appropriate. I am n o t stating we should only learn that which we see a direct gain for, a reason for, when we plan an implicit action ahead. Oh no. Having a wealth of knowledge within, to utilize if and when I am faced with a new situation, is vital. Ensuring I have the resources when the time comes. But if I don’t use them, when it is time, that’s a missed opportunity. That’s when I should have practiced what I’ve learned, that’s how you walk your talk. Perhaps insecure, a total beginner, never having utilized the knowledge. And that’s fine. We all know it sometimes take a little bit (or a lot!) of practice to get good at something. But refraining from acting, on the basis that I’ve not done it before, don’t really know how to, unsure if I’ll do it good enough – that’s how knowledge remains a rumor. Don’t let it. Please. Make it live in your muscles, and I’ll be doing the same.

#Blogg100 challenge in 2017 – post number 25 of 100. 
The book “Rising strong” by Brené Brown.
English posts here, Swedish at herothecoach.com.

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