reading retreat

2020, a year to remember 

2020, a year to remember 

December 31, 2020
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The bottom line: 2020. One of the best years of my life, in large part due to new connections I’ve made this year, as well as the old ones that have deepened. 

When asked, I say that 2020 has been one of –if not The– best years of my life.
I mean it. It has.
In no way does that diminish the fact that’s it’s been one of the worst years for many, which pains me. However, it is my understanding that my experience of 2020, all the riches, connections and insights I’ve been given, also means that I emit nurturing and nourishing energy to a world in desperate need for just that. 

If I had to single out one aspect of 2020 that makes it the best year ever, it would be connection. The depth of connection, of communion even, I’ve experienced this year, goes beyond any and all things I’ve ever experienced. Ever. Starting the year off with a hide-away together with my two Buddhas Caspian and Dominic certainly set the tone for just this aspect of 2020, and then, for some reason, I finally signed up for an AKIMBO-workshop, after having thought about it for years on end. The Creative’s Workshop started in February. The Corona-virus beginning to sweep across the world just then had some participants lean out and leave the workshop, whereas the rest of us leaned in, fully, completely, the global community a life-line in so many ways during the months to come. 

Covid also caused me, Caspian and Dominic to set sail with Buddhas by the roadside, our podcast. We’d been experimenting since the summer of 2019, but never got the ship ready to actually set sail. When covid hit, we all felt a great need to talk with each other with covid as a central theme. Deeming it better to get our conversations out there then not, made us release the pod into the world, no matter how rough, raw and rambling our conversations are.

The Creative’s Workshop also spawned a number of groups I am still enjoying the company of, the Monday afternoon Reading retreat being one of the most consistent of them all. The void left upon the closing of the Discourse-platform the workshop ran on gave way to a Creative Community that’s now as vital and natural a part of my day as air and breath is. But then again, TCW also gave birth to my tankespjärn-community, which gifts me one of the highlights of my life, the monthly Zoom-calls. I love, love, love the way tankespjärn flows freely from heart to heart, from head to head, from soul to soul. 

At the end of the year, my time is spent in another AKIMBO-workshop, The Story Skills Workshop, where yet again, I am like a little goat kid let loose on a field filled with interesting things and fascinating creatures to discover, play and have fun with. This part of me in not only on display in online-workshops though. I’d dare say this is an accurate description of how I’ve showed up in the pharma-project I’ve invested many working hours to this year too. And not just me, my colleagues were game to discover, play and have fun right alongside me.

A new website will see the light of day come the new year, and with Lena I’ve set up an advisory board, meeting every third week to dive deep into what’s and how’s, anchoring them firmly in personal why’s. And those personal why’s… identifying with the Upholder-tendency with regards to internal and external expectations, this year has helped me level up. May 17th as I planned to head out to get my daily 10K in my body… something whispered No. Not today. You are not to leave the premises today. I listened. And I stayed put, letting go of that intention of mine, to move at least 10K/day, one which I’d adhered to for the better part of a year. But no more. 

This was the final piece of the puzzle I needed to be able to see that for me, with my strong Upholder-tendencies, being open to letting go of routines and habits that no longer serve, is of vital importance to me. Otherwise, I risk running myself to the ground, doing things I rationally perceive to be good for me. My rational self serves me. And, if I am not careful, it might well topple me over at times too. Looking back at the summer, which is when the pharma-project was put on hold, I am grateful it happened as I was severely singed around the edges, not far from burnout. Doing absolutely nothing for the better part of not just three weeks of vacation, but a few more weeks, having learned how to listen to that inner voice that told me to stay put was of immense value to me recovering, regaining strength, energy and capacity.

Besides gardening, the only this I did over the summer was read. Being 10-15 books behind my Goodreads reading challenge for 2020 (to read 65 books) at the beginning of summer, by the end I was 10-15 books ahead instead. Today, I finished my 88th book of the year, having read 23 087 pages in all. folklore played more or less around the clock during the summer holidays too, and I’ve binged a significant number of series too, Vikings, Game of Thrones, Handmaid’s Tale, The 100’s and currently Orphan Black, to name but a few. Given that, my fingers got a bit restless so I’ve knitted, crochet and even started to mend my own jeans curled up in the cozy corner of the sofa, watching Netflix, HBO and SVT Play. 

The book that made the most impact out of the 88 was, without hesitation, Women who run with the wolves, a book I’ve dubbed my take-to-a-deserted-island-book. I imagine I could reread it every year for the rest of my life and still find new gems and gain new insights from it. I’m actually of a mind to start a recurring book-circle to help me get it on a deeper level. For sure, this book helped me finally take the plunge into what I call my deep dive into shame, that I initiated around the half-year mark of 2020. It will continue on in 2021, who knows for how long. I do sessions with D on the topic, as well as write. A lot. 53 000 words so far, and who knows what this will turn into. In due time. At the moment, I share it in a small and select community, where I’ve received endless support to continue diving ever deeper. Which I do. 

With my body in focus being my intention of the year, I started off with an undefined idea. I knew there was to be an element of play, but I had no idea how little what I thought the year would focus on (strength, suppleness, endurance) I have focussed on. Or… perhaps that’s not true. Perhaps that is what the year has been focused on, only not in the images I had in mind when I wrote it. With Wivan as my Walkfeeling-coach since April or May, I am not surprised that I’ve started to become much more attuned to the signals my body emits, and the cyclic pattern of them. Plenty of barefoot-walks, daily cold showers since October, starting to ask my body for advice, and even going indoor-climbing with Caspian. Lindy hop-classes have been sadly interrupted by Covid, not so surprising, and unfortunately the same is true for choir-practice. But not until we’d managed to do a live-streamed spring concert, and then, before the second wave was upon us, an All Saint’s Day concert too. 

Christmas Eve was spent with my children, at home, and turned into an evening I will forever remember, in sync with my sentiment for the rest of the year, possibly the best Christmas Eve I’ve ever experienced. (That’s a story all in itself, and one I will share, in time. Rest assured.) And today, as the children will have New Years Eve-dinner with their father, I look forward to an evening all on my own. Going deep within, luxuriating in my own company, I cannot imagine ending this year in a better way. 

I’ve already set the intentions for next year, which, for me this time around, won’t start tomorrow, on January 1st, 20201, but actually started already on December 22nd, 2020, the first day after the winter solstice. The intention reads Ask – Listen, to and with All of Me – Act, and it is with that intention top of mind and deep in heart, that I bid 2020 farewell. A year I will always remember.

 

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100 days later…

May 21, 2020
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A celebratory hour in lieu of 100 dailies in The Creative’s Workshop. An hour in honor of the letter S, in the form of:
Sensational (work, engagement, cohort!)
Shift (what has been the shift?)
Stranger (who was your unexpected stranger and what did they give you?)
Shipping (What have you shipped and what has it meant to you/those you serve?)
Step (Next step? How to continue doing your work?)
Salute (100 dailies later!)

What was it like for you 100 days ago?
Less energy. More lethargy. Ready to step into the land of ”don’t know what”.

What has changed in 100 days?
Me!
Energized. Awed and wowed!
A tankespjärn-community launched. Friendships forged.
INSIGHTS & CLARITY!

Who was your unexpected stranger and what did they give you?
Mary Ellen Bratu and our Reading Retreats, a gift I will carry with me for life!

What have you shipped and what has it meant to you (and those you serve)?
My tankespjärn-community on Patreon. Taking baby-steps.
I’ve truly seen the generosity inherent to shipping.

What’s the next step? How will you continue doing the work?
One day at a time, generously sharing and shipping.

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I. Have. To. Write. About. It. Now.

May 18, 2020
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One of my 12 English books to read and blog about this year, is Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. Normally, I never write about the book until it’s finished, which is when I write my book reflection. However, this book, which I am approximately 60% through, has certainly challenged me, as almost not a page goes by without me making copious notes in the margin and the number of dog ears is just ridiculous! I usually don’t mark pages with dog ears, but the best of the best of this book has me crying out for me to make it easily accessible in years to come, and alas, the book probably has 50 dog ears by now….

Anyway, as I was reading this book during my weekly Monday Reading Retreat, a paragraph jumped out at me, and I simply cannot hold it in anymore. I. Have. To. Write. About. It. Now.

”Creating one thing at a certain point in the river feeds those who come to the river, feeds creatures far downstream, yet others in the deep. Creativity is not a solitary movement. That is its power. Whatever is touched by it, whoever hears it, sees it, senses it, knows it, is fed. That is why beholding someone else’s creative word, image, idea, fills us up, inspires us to our own creative work. A single creative act has the potential to feed a continent. One creative act can cause a torrent to break through stone.”

This.
This is what The Creative’s Workshop is to me.
It feeds me.
There is so much creativity just whizzing and bouncing along in the workshop, it’s almost ridiculous, and it feeds me and my creativity to levels I’ve not experienced for many years.

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The reading retreat.

April 6, 2020
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Writing retreats, I’ve done. Alone. Together.
A day, two, three.

But never an official reading retreat.

One could argue I’ve been doing reading retreats ever since I learned how to read, because, to quote my mom, once I did I never stopped. Countless weekends I’ve spent immersed in great novels; laying away many a night, reading, totally engrossed in a story, making me experience life as a Viking slave, an Egyptian princess, a Vietnamese poet, a cave-woman, or explore the vast skies astride a flying dragon in some magical universe, similar and yet so different to my own.

But thanks to a The Creative’s Workshop-colleague writing about wanting to take time to read, I suggested she do a reading retreat, and all of a sudden, we had a date, going from idea to fruition in the space of three days. 90 minutes, over Zoom, all in all, four people, even though two sort of played a relay-game with each other, with one leaving as another entered the room. The Zoom-room.

…to be, without the intent to talk I said when we checked in prior to one reader leaving for another meetup. I’ve done many a type of meeting online, but never, truly, one where the intention was not to talk, but to be, and to read.

And I loved it.

As we shared half-time my co-creator was reminded of a quote by Lynda Barry, who has said about art-making that it’s this thing that we do alone together.

And I loved it. Alone. Together.
It felt so good. You know, like sitting in a room with a best friend, in total silence, and absolute companionship, doing whatever one pleases, but together? That’s what it felt like.

A gift.
One I want more of.

Would you like to join me sometime?

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