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Fare-thee-well

Fare-thee-well

April 12, 2019
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It’s as if I’ve awakened, after a long hibernation.
Or perhaps, I truly was born again, born anew, on the bus to Sjöbo, listening to Arvo Pärt giving a commencement speech?

Something has shifted.

There is more energy.
More drive. More guts.
Courage. Clarity.

More more more…
Yes.

But.
Not in a sense of needing more; that Sisyphus-like struggle to push the rock up the hill, only to have it roll down to the bottom again. Endlessly striving, struggling. A hopeless mission of trying to fill a void, impossible to fill.

Not that type of more.

Rather, the type where it is simply more because I’ve released yet another layer of limits. Of boundaries that no longer serve me. Of protective coverings, put in place at a time when I was served by them. Kept in place, year upon year, decade upon decade, if nothing else but for the fact that other layers of protection were added on top. Layer upon layer.

Slowly. Throughout these past twenty years, one by one, I’ve dismantled them. Torn at them. Ripping them apart. Tossing them to the side. Letting yet older layers be exposed to light, making me ask: How does this particular layer serve me?

And when the answer is It doesn’t. Not anymore, I’ve learned to thank it. Filled with reverence for what it has done for me. Because at one time or another, this particular layer has done me a service. But the time has come to shed yet another layer, and when time’s up, time’s up. 

With grace and gratitude, I bid that which is no longer needed to keep me safe, strong and sheltered, fare-thee-well.
With curiosity and care, I turn to the next layer, ready to ask that very same question, starting all over again.
All the while, I rejoice in letting my light shine just a tad brighter than before. 

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I write. But not lyrics. Yet?

February 9, 2019
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I write.
Not as much as I read. But I write.
Since August 2012 in the form of blogging, before that (and also after) more writing at work… the number of routines, and test protocols and reports of various kinds I’ve written during the years, you’d not want to know, neither would I.

This will be my 2105th blog post (Swedish and English, the latter 20% of the total), and I intend to continue blogging as long as I find value in it. It serves me, and I enjoy it. So I write and will continue writing.

Recently, a glimmer of an opportunity to write lyrics have arisen, and I wonder… how to write lyrics? Lyrics first, and then someone will put music to it? Or music first, and I put lyrics to it? Can I? Should I?

Smile at me, shake my head a bit, and know full well that the answer is this:
Try it. Experiment. Play with it. See what happens, how it unfolds, if there’s something there – it will become obvious. If not, that will also become obvious. Why make it harder than it has to be?

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Advent Calendar 17 – Putting a spin on things

December 17, 2018
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Selling.

In Sweden, the land of the Jante-law, there isn’t anything quite as bad as selling. The image of a slick used car-dealer comes to mind, a lowlife, busy talking, never listening, wanting to trick me into buying a cheap car for more than it’s worth…

As I am self-employed since October of 2007, selling is a vital part of my professional life. If I didn’t “sell myself and my competence”, I would not be able to continue to be self-employed. It just wouldn’t work. But the inner resistance to selling has been massive, let me tell you.

So when I heard from someone that selling isn’t about tricking people into buying stuff they don’t really need, it’s about inviting people to look at something that I have found provides value to me something shifted within! All of a sudden, instead of selling being hard, uncomfortable, and something I wasn’t really proud of doing, there was a free-flowing energy, champagne bubbles and a playfulness in its place. From this viewpoint – selling is like asking someone to dance. I get a Yes or a No, and either way, I know what my next step will be; Either I start to dance, or I move on to the next person, inviting them to dance with me.

Both these viewpoints on selling are simply stories I’m telling myself. Neither is Truth. Both are opinions. The GPS-facts of a sale concern a transaction between two (or more) parties. The negative and the positive spin I put on that fact, is my opinion on it. So, why choose to put a spin on selling which doesn’t serve me (making me feel like a slick car salesman, pushing you into a sale), instead of a spin which does serve me (Wanna dance? Yes? Whoop! Great, let’s dance! No? Whoop, great, thanks for telling me! I’ll ask the next one in line to dance.)?

And selling is, of course, but one of all the words, actions and activities I am involved with, where I place opinions on a fact that might or might not serve me. The more aware I get about this, the better choices I can make!


Advent Calendar 2018 – number 17 of 24 – on the theme of being gentle.

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Advent Calendar 2 – Help en route to become gentle with myself

December 2, 2018
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Pondering what has helped me learn how to be gentle with myself, I realize me, myself and I have been my foremost help and aide on this journey. I have let myself open up for insight, for new thoughts. For asking questions, and listening for the reply. I excel at intake, reading, listening, talking, taking in new stuff, getting hints and ideas worth trying, to see what I might gain from them.

Leonard Cohen famously wrote that there’s a crack in everything, and that’s where the light comes in. Then I recently read somewhere, that the crack is also where the light shines through from within. And that’s what I’ve let myself do (and become), a person where light can both enter, but also exit. I take in light – and I transmit light.

My loved ones have also been an integral part in me learning to be gentle towards myself. My ex-husband played a big part, and my children. They are the reason why I started therapy some 12-13 years ago or so. I didn’t want to be such an angry mom for them, and took help, because I was at a loss on how to transform myself.

I’ve attended a myriad of different courses, specifically coaching courses and summits of various kinds, but neither of these courses I’ve picked with the specific purpose of becoming gentle to me. And yet… they have all helped me reach the place where I can say, with complete honesty, that I am. Not 100% of the time and in all situations. Of course not. But that’s not a goal I strive for, becoming “perfect” in this sense.

My Mastermind-group and my #skolvåren back office-gang. Funnily enough these two major parts of my personal development (in many ways) both have their moment of birth in the first months of 2013.  The amount of stuff we’ve worked through together, sharing beliefs, knowledge, questions, fear, longings and bas the basis has been a general sense of curiosity, we’ve helped each other grow and expand. Enriching ourselves through continuous discussions  where the underlying love and respect we all have for each other sets the tone.

And then… all the conversations I’ve had. These have been a huge factor as well. Conversations with myself, as well as others. I have a few very intimate friends whom I’ve shared so much with – and thanks to their knowledge and wisdom, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of myself. And that in turn has also helped me become gentle towards myself.

And the benefits are massive. For myself, of course. Being harsh or gentle in my inner dialogue definitely makes a huge difference. For me. But it also impacts those I meet. If I am harsh with myself – it’s much more likely I will be harsh with you as well. Even thought that isn’t what I aim for. And logically, the opposite is true as well. The more gentle I am with me, the easier it is for me to be gentle with those in my vicinity.

Thanks to me opening up to both myself as those around me, letting these different avenues all help me learn to be more gentle with myself, my experience of life today is one which has me smile softly just writing these words. And I love how my body and my emotions so visibly guides me by showing me what serves me, and what doesn’t.


Advent Calendar 2018 – number 2 of 24 – on the theme of being gentle.

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Shame.

May 10, 2018
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Shame.

Hm.

Silence within.

Where to start? What do I want to communicate? What do I really feel after the 75 minute long session on Shame?

Held.
Seen.
Heard.
Acknowledged.

You did it well, long-distance and all. As if you were in the same room, the distance between Malmö-Stockholm annihilated by the SKYPE-connection that gave me your voice into my ears, straight into my head, into my body. When I closed my eyes, it was as if you held me, which you really did, with the help of the sofa I sat in.

I honor myself, and my choice to reach out to you, to start – in a pace dictated solely by the urgings of my Self – to deal with this that has been long forgotten, deeply hidden away; that which I have yet to shine a light on. A good start today, a start that did me good, and felt nice.

During the session thought upon thought was born, associations to various events throughout my life, memories slowly floating up to the surface, connections made – that I had never before seen – that docked into one another like a well-oiled mechanical machinery.

Went for a walk afterwards – just took off, letting the energy stream continue to flow; walked barefoot, threading softly on grassy lawns and pebbled pathways, earthing myself. Landed. Breathed in and let come. And more than that, breathed out and let go.

I can see how I did the best I could, under the circumstances. Clever was your word for it. Yes, I dealt with it in a clever way! But not just me. Others did the best they could, given their circumstances; they also acted clever, based on their perspective, needs, defense mechanisms and abilities.

I can see that too, and with tenderness I gaze into history, at both myself and the others. Not judging. That doesn’t serve me. Knowing there is a chance – in due time. I’m in no rush. This can take as little or as long time as it needs to – to let go, to let the ball dissolve, in the same way that I, with patience and calm untangle skeins of yarn that have become horribly entangled. I am good at untangling knots others believe were impossible to untangle, and that’s what will happen here as well. Only – without any demands for achievement. No deadline. No explicit goal.

And above all else, I do this for me. In my way. For my wellbeing.
Not controlled, not according to a fixed (time) plan. No. What will happen will happen, because it’s what wants to happen, in the moment. Not what I want to happen, definitely not what someone else wants to – or feels should – happen. But what wants to happen.

That’s where I exhale and let go – and enjoy the moment of Now!

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Judgment vs discernment

May 7, 2018
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With curiosity and a wish for more, Tess picked up on the distinction between judgment and discernment in the post on Intuitive living, and I can only agree: it is a distinction which piqued my curiosity as well.

Discernment-is-an-important-skill-to-develop“You may have notices that we have never discussed forgiveness. Forgiveness is not a concept of the All. Forgiveness implies judgment. Forgiveness implies right and wrong. Your Western culture and religions have created the concepts of sin and forgiveness as a way of controlling people’s minds. Judgment was created in this way. (You must understand judgment as being different from discernment. Discernment is an important skill to develop.) There is no place for judgment. The concepts of sin and forgiveness and redemption are not concepts borne out of Love. Love is within each one of you, bestowing mercy upon you in each moment of your existence.” [As voiced by Spirit.]

Judgment is a concept I am very familiar with. I have judged others, but more than that, I have judged myself. Over and over again. And harshly, at that. For me, judgment is centered around right and wrong. I judge you as being wrong – and instantly I place myself on the rung above you, because I know the difference, I know what’s wrong, and what’s right, and you are failing, miserably. And the same goes for myself, even though it’s an internal hierarchical set-up enabling me some how to place myself above myself.

I’ve let go of my default setting to judge, something which I know my surroundings also pick up on. In the words of a friend who’s known me for thirty plus years: “You used to be so black and white, Helena, but nowadays you reside in the grey shades in-between; you always see both sides of a situation, and are not prone to judge either side as right or wrong”, which I took as a great compliment.

I haven’t really given any thought whatsoever – consciously at least – to the concept of discernment, but I do find it intriguing. It does go hand in hand with my favorite saying though, that being: How does this serve me/you? That’s discernment for me, now that I think of it.

To discern (According to my Apple Thesaurus: perceivemake outpick outdetectrecognizenoticeobserveseespotidentifydeterminedistinguishdifferentiatediscriminatetell apartbecome cognizant ofbecome aware ofbecome conscious of) what works right now, and what doesn’t. What will further my path ahead, and what will not. What will serve me – or not. That, for me, is discernment.

And I can be very clear when I communicate from my place of discernment. I don’t have to be wishy-washy (Thesaurus again: feebleineffectualweakvapidmilk-and-watereffetespinelesslimplimp-wristednamby-pambyhalf-heartedspiritlessirresoluteindecisiveinformal wetpatheticweak-kneedBrit. informal half-arsed. Love that last one!) about it at all, I can stand very firm in what serves me or not.

Just because I don’t go for judging a situation any more, whatever it is, doesn’t mean I cannot make my meaning, my belief, my understanding, my needs even, heard. On the contrary. I can do just that but I come from a context of non-judgment, which to my experience, makes it so much easier for the people in my surrounding to accept whatever it is I am asking or pointing out. And this I think is the clue: I am not saying “I am right, you are wrong, and anyone who’s wrong is inherently bad!“. I am saying “This is what I need right now. You might need something other than me, which is fine. I respect your needs, and you respect mine, and we’ll deal with the consequences. Together.

Thank you Tess for asking me to expand on the concepts of judgment vs discernment – this has been most helpful. I feel elated to have discovered that my default setting of today (since letting go of judgment) of asking how this serves me, is an excellent guide in helping me be more discerning in life.

And by the way – as I look in the Thesaurus, judgment is a word that pops up to define discernment, so I cannot say that my understanding of these two concepts and how they relate to one another is accurate. For you, that is. Because it certainly holds true for me.

 

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Our past is a story we tell

April 28, 2018
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in Tip
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I think that something that was a real turning point for me was the realization that we have a choice how we view our past. I could have come out of dad’s incarceration, that time of separation, this kind of wild years, when I was a teenager and really hurting a great deal and seen it as a tragedy that this had happened to us, and told the story, that our dad abandoned us you know, and he made this choice to be a drug trafficker when he had young children, and can you believe that?

Our-past-is-a-story-we-tellI could have decided to tell the story that way, and then I would be a different person, and a less happy person. But I chose to tell it differently, and I chose to see it differently, and I believe in my version of events very truly but it is a choice that we make. Our past is a story we tell, and how we tell that story is a choice we make about who we are, and how we want to be perceived, and who we want to be, and I think being aware of that certainly empowers you to rethink in some ways. 

These are the words of Tyler Wetherall, a woman who grew up with a dad on the run, at the end of her long conversation with Jonathan Fields on the Good Life Project podcast. She touches a topic very dear to me, something which I certainly have given a lot of thought to these past years.

The realization that it is I who give value to my experiences, I color them, I make them significant or insignificant, meaningful or meaningless. With each layer I wrap around my experiences I have a choice. Each layer presents itself as an opportunity for me. I get to choose victimhood or ownership. Love or hate. Making myself large, or small. Helpless or in charge. At the mercy of someone else’s choices, or at the helm of my own life.

Does this mean I always make “the right” choice? No. Of course not.
But the more I practice (with ample help in my most valued question How does this serve me?) the easier it is to make decisions in the moment that do me good rather than the opposite. We get better at that which we focus on, at that which we practice – so I’ve made a choice to focus on being gentle towards myself, and being aware of the choices I have, is one way of honoring myself.

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Doing gentle – 45 – Source of information

November 20, 2016
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What’s your source of information, the therapist asked of Mary Karr, and she’s honest enough to see that most of the time, it’s her imagination that’s the source of imagination.

She tells the story in On Being with Krista Tippett, an episode I’ve listened to over and over again. There’s a lot of gold in that episode. Little snippets of conversation that, in it’s raw honesty and vulnerability with an ever-present humor, enters me, completely. Goes straight to my heart and lodges there, as little crystals to carry with me. Crystals to energize me, when I have a need for it.

What’s your source of information, I ask myself, as I paint a picture of what certain experiences, interactions, activities undertaken or not, mean. And I know, it’s I. I’m the source of information, as the picture within my mind is painted from a palette of opinions and expectations, rather than fact, data points, that just are.

pathAnd here’s the catch for me. There’s nothing wrong with painting a picture out of opinions and expectations, as long as I am aware of it. If I mistakenly believe the picture to be painted using fact and data points that just are, that’s when and where I might end up in some serious trouble. That’s where I deceive myself, lure myself down a treacherous path, of mistakenly (oh so innocently!) believing that what I paint, for my inner eye, is Truth. Which it is not. It is a picture made up of make-belief, some of which might be more in line with what was intended than other parts of it; the knowing of which is of great benefit to me.

When would it serve you, to ask yourself that question:
What’s your source of information?

Welcome to my humble abode, where the underlying tone centers around being gentle to oneself. On Sundays I share thoughts on how I do gentle, and I hope you enjoy it. If you do, please subscribe to updates so you won’t miss out on future posts in this series.
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Being gentle to me – Reflection August ’16

August 27, 2016
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In my daily Headspace meditation, this morning I heard Andy Puddicombe say, in the first out of thirty sessions on the topic of stress, that stress is wanting things to be different, from how they are right now. Little did I know that shortly thereafter I would get the perfect opportunity to practice this lesson.

Reacting. Or not. Falling into the abyss of a reactive emotion. Or not.
Anger. Irritation. Frustration.

I reacted. And fell. Deep and hard.
Made good use of the angry energy though, digging for hours on end in the front yard. But at a price.

And yeah, sure, I would have liked to have been a person, earlier today, who responded with grace and humility, rather than irritation and annoyance. I didn’t though. And as I sit here reflecting, here my second training opportunity for the day arrives, served on a silver platter.

React. Or not? Fall into the abyss of a reactive emotion. Or not?
Shame. Regret. Self-contempt.

No. This time, I gently, but firmly, bid those emotions to leave by the door that I leave open for then. And as they make their way over there – slowly, going in circles, hoping I will let up and start to engage with them despite having bid them good bye – I take the opportunity instead to reflect with a gentle perspective upon the day. On the choices I made, and the consequences those choices led to. Accepting. Fully. The outcomes that serves me – having done a really good day’s work in the front yard at the top of the list – as well as the ones that clearly doesn’t serve me – relationships bruised by me falling into the abyss, dragging others down there with me in the fall.cooling summer evening

A stressful situation? Well. I guess that’s the thing. It could be. But I don’t choose to want things to be different, from how they are right now. Because what was, is past. And I cannot turn back time, and retrace my steps, making other choices that those I did. So no, I sit here, in the cooling summer evening, accepting what is. Accepting what was. The only thing I can do, is apologize for my behavior, and learn from the happenings of the day. When a similar situation arise in the future, I might be able to make a different choice from the get-go, one with fewer non-serving outcomes. Or not. Regardless, I chose to be gentle to me. Because the opposite, being harsh and judgmental towards myself, doesn’t make life better for anyone.

This is what being gentle to me means in the month of August 2016. What does it mean to you?

Welcome to my humble abode, where the underlying tone centers around being gentle to oneself. I will be reflecting on a monthly basis on what that means to me, in the moment, and this is one of those reflections. I hope you enjoy it. If you do, please subscribe to updates so you won’t miss out on future reflections.

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Doing gentle – 8 – Does it serve me?

March 6, 2016
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angryI don’t know how many times I’ve asked myself variations on this theme:

How does this serve me?
Does this serve me?
What would serve me right now?

At first. A really strange concept. As if I could choose?

I was living under the assumption that I was a victim to my circumstances, not having a choice in how to proceed.

If I was angry, angry I was. Nothing to do but suffer through it, and boy, was I ever angry.

And yeah, there’s a chemical aspect to that, true. If something happens and my anger is set off, a surge of signal substance is released from my neurons. However. It takes approximately 90 seconds for those to have gone through my entire system, and break down. Disappear. So, after a few minutes, the choice of remaining angry or not, is mine. I do get to have that choice.

I resented that thought, at first. I wanted to hang on to my anger, and I wanted it to be automatic, so I didn’t have to take responsibility for it. It’s just there, and I can’t do anything about it. 

But over time, I realized that sometimes my anger didn’t serve me at all. To remain angry after the initial reaction was not serving me, perhaps even hurting me. So I got used to asking the question, of myself. How does this serve me? 

And you know what.
Sometimes I choose to stay angry. Because I really feel like being angry. And I let myself run with that feeling, surging through my body, my spirit, full out anger. The all-hands-on-deck-type of anger.
Sometimes. I choose to let it go. It can simmer in the background, but it’s as if I no longer pay attention to it. I no longer feed it. And it’s not what I front with, not how I show up in the world.
Once in a while, I choose to let my anger go, and have a hard time to not show up as angry anyway. Then I take full responsibility for it, and withdraw. Telling those around me that I have a hard time not to act angry, that I don’t want to, so would you please excuse me, while I cool off over here, in solitude.

And yes. It works the same way whatever emotion you are currently experiencing. You do have a choice. Not whether or not to feel what you feel. That’s not at stake. Because you feel what you feel. Nothing more, nothing less. The choice is rather if you want to keep feeding that feeling, or not. And as I said, just because I choose not to, doesn’t mean it goes away immediately. But in time. It will. It dissipates. Fades away. Might take a minute. Might take a day. Ten years, for all I know. But if you keep on feeding it, for sure it will stay longer than if you don’t.

So next time you experience a rush of feelings, ask yourself the question: How does this serve me?

Welcome to my new website, where the underlying tone centers around being gentle to oneself. On Sundays I will be sharing thoughts on how I do gentle, and this is the eight of those. I hope you enjoy it and if you do, please subscribe to updates so you won’t miss out on future posts in this series.
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