Writings

Advent Calendar 12 – To try new things with a curious mind

Advent Calendar 12 – To try new things with a curious mind

December 12, 2018
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To try new things, with a curious mind – what a gift that is. To me. For everything I try, I can stop to think I might like it, or not. Because I know, since I have tried it. I’ve just given myself one of these gifts, having just attended my first ever silent after work – two hours of complete silence, sitting, standing, lying down, in a room with others, and the possibility to have a cup of tea or a sip of water. Two hours went by much faster than expected. And it felt really good. Perhaps because I’ve befriended Silence? My old self, the one with the extremely harsh inner dialogue, wasn’t all that thrilled about silence, as it made the harshness so much more apparent and obvious. But nowadays, with my gentle and curious inner dialogue, I have gotten to love silence. And new stuff as well.

Because the two go together.

I mean – silence and trying new stuff go together with respect to my changed inner dialogue. As you might imagine, having a harsh inner dialogue isn’t the best encourager of trying new things… dreading the response from within if I would fail (How stupid you are Helena! Did you really think you could do that?), or not like it (Come off it Helena, stop wasting your time on stupid things like this!) or any other discouraging response you could think of.

There’s also something special about firsts. So my first silent after work deserves a bit of special attention simply because it is a first. When my eldest child was born, and I was a single mom, I missed having someone to share all of my child’s firsts with. So I created an email list of everyone that I cared of – and I shared with them all, whenever there was something special. And often, when there wasn’t anything special as well – simply for the joy of sharing our day with others.

Since then, I’ve been extra attentive to firsts of all kinds. The first snow of the year. The first spring flower of the year. The first time visiting a new country, eating a new dish, trying something new and so on. There are so many firsts available for us, and I enjoy celebrating them, in one form or another. Just for the fun of it.


Advent Calendar 2018 – number 12 of 24 – on the theme of being gentle.

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Advent Calendar 11 – I was the most negative person I knew

December 11, 2018
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I have been the most negative person I knew.

For real.

The shift came about when I was nine months pregnant with my first child, when my then-husband called to break up with me. I was shaken, understandably, but at the same time took the opportunity to ask do you like who you are Helena? I also dared answer, truthfully, and the answer was heck no. I am so fed up being me!

Because I did hate. Or rather, I used the word hate. Possibly what I intended was disliked, but the word I used was h a t e. And it’s a word I am extremely restrictive with today. I can’t even say that I know there’s anything I hate, honestly. Hate takes a lot of energy. And I don’t want to put my energy on to that which I don’t want more of. I would much rather put my energy on that which I do want to see more of.

It is also very powerful for me to state this:
I have been and no longer am the most negative person I know! 

Once in a while, I do fall into negativity. Of course. I am human.
But it’s hard for me – truly hard – to remain negative for long. I simply cannot stay there. My mind automatically starts to look at what-ever-is-the-issue-at-hand from different perspectives, making it impossible to stay negative. Guess three times if I prefer being the most negative person in the world, or the opposite?


Advent Calendar 2018 – number 11 of 24 – on the theme of being gentle.

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Advent Calendar 10 – Close your eyes

December 10, 2018
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I blogged about the heightened sensations I experience when I close my eyes, in September 2013. Since then, I close my eyes more and more. When I sing with my choir, when I listen to a podcast, when I do my daily morning exercise or put a freshly-picked raspberry from the garden in my mouth. When I take a shower, dance to a favorite song, hug someone. Meeting life with closed eyes increases my awareness of the present moment (which is what life is. A moment of Now, replaced by a new moment of Now, and so on…).

Funnily enough, the other day I listened to a lecture on “The brain – what everyone should know” by Anna Tebelius Bodin, and she chocked me when she informed me that the brain receives 11 million inputs… per second! A ridiculous amount of inputs, and 10 million of these come from the eyes. (Valid for me as a seeing person. Someone who lacks eye sight have compensated and receives a larger part of their inputs from the other senses.) So when I close my eyes, it’s no wonder that the inputs from other senses get more attention.

I don’t know why, really, but in some instances, it is easier for me to say YES with my eyes closed. With eyes open, it’s easier for the brain to get engaged, to rationally think, to let my intellectual abilities be acting gate keeper. With eyes closed, the rest of me, my body and spirit, have a greater chance to be in on the decision.

Like my stints of digital sabbat makes me more grateful to be “back on my devices”, when I close my eyes, I experience more. Or perhaps just different?


Advent Calendar 2018 – number 10 of 24 – on the theme of being gentle.

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Advent Calendar 9 – Dream!

December 9, 2018
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Do you dream?
And more importantly, do you act on your dreams?

To dream is important. And sadly, I think there are a lot of people who don’t dare to dream… or perhaps rather don’t act on making dreams come true, whether or not they are big or small dreams. (It doesn’t matter if your dreams are big or small. As long as you dream.)

And I do think that is sad, because most of us, who have the type of life I do, live lives of such comfort and safety, that dreaming and acting upon our dreams is definitely something for us to do. There are many others, who actually have a much harder time to dream, who perhaps don’t even know how to. But that is far from my reality. I am a citizen of one of the most rich countries of the world, I own a company, have a house, a family and the Swedish social security system to back me up. That is my reality. And likely your reality is akin to mine, where you are not struggling to survive on a daily basis.

So. Dream. And act on it. Try, rather thank think you can, or cannot. And why not use design thinking, where you iterate loops of planning – doing – analyzing – tweaking and then starting over again. Rather than try to eat the elephant whole, go at it in smaller pieces, starting with a tail or an ear. Bite-sized actions, taking steps towards achieving your dreams. That’s what it means to live, rather than to be in survival mode.

I mean… what have you got to loose by acting upon your dreams?


Advent Calendar 2018 – number 9 of 24 – on the theme of being gentle

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Advent Calendar 8 – Digital sabbat

December 8, 2018
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Every month I take a digital sabbat (or two, or three) for at least 24 hours, sometimes more, a few times a bit less. I stop using my phone as the multimedia machine and powerful computer that it is, and revert to treating it as a phone with the added feature of texting. But that’s it. I refrain from using social media, Spotify and pod-listening app’s, Google, Netflix, checking email and everything else I do, using my phone (and, of course, my other devices also go unused during this time).

It’s intentional, and I really enjoy these moments of change – because that’s what they are to me. A type of shape-shifting occurs, where I go from having a digital mindset to going analog. Reading books (which I do a lot anyway) instead of watching something on Netflix or SVT Play, playing cards with the kid/s instead of blogging or commenting and sharing on social media, going for a walk with nothing but the sounds of nature (and mankind) in my ears as opposed to the latest pod, having people over for dinner, enjoying the company and conversation that takes place in 3D as a change from chatting in Messenger.

Digital is not bad, in the same way that analog is not good. But deliberately shifting from one to the other makes me more aware of what I do and how. It’s the difference I am after, and it’s the difference I revel in.

Going without my phone and other devices for a day or two makes me so enamoured with them when I start to use them again. The silence I experience during my digital sabbat is like going on a mini-retreat (free of charge). I like the juxtaposition of my experiences when I am ”living my life as I normally do” and ”when I don’t”, in the same way that I thoroughly enjoy taking a vacation in a small cottage with out electricity and/or tap water. Not necessarily how I want to live my life, but once in a while, certainly. Because it opens my eyes to the luxury of the life I live. Same with my digital sabbats, helping me be more grateful for all that I have.


Advent Calendar 2018 – number 8 of 24 – on the theme of being gentle

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Advent Calendar 7 – Loving the unknown

December 7, 2018
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Encyclopedia Helenica. This was one of the roles I took on, being the one in the know, the one who always had the knowledge and facts. Never daring to admit to not knowing, so I would even pretend I knew… as I was under the belief that my self-worth came from knowing. To say I have no clue what/whom you are talking about was not part of my vocabulary for the longest of time.

But no more.
Since 5-6 years I’ve gotten better and better at owning what I know, as well as what I don’t know. And I love not knowing, which is a big shift from absolutely fearing it before.

In not knowing – there’s a potential for learning, which is absent in knowing. To listen for that which I don’t know, rather than listening for that which confirms what I already know. Trying new things, new experiences, new flavors, new thoughts. Oh, I love it nowadays, love the unknown, am drawn to the unknown… both within as well as without myself.

Imagine what the world would look like, if humans were encouraged to look for the unknown. With curiosity. With an open mind. With playfulness.
To try. To feel. To think. To taste the unknown. Rather than to consolidate that which I (you?) already know.

Being humble enough to know that there is so much more to find out than that which I already know – and the wondrous world of discovery made possible when I stop fearing the unknown, and instead start to love it!


Advent Calendar 2018 – number 7 of 24 – on the theme of being gentle.

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Advent Calendar 6 – To feel.

December 6, 2018
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I sing in a choir. In this choir we have the luxury of having a wonderful choir master, Jens Eriksson, who is also a composer. A couple of years ago, he wrote a Stabat Mater for my choir, and it is the musical highlight of my life – I absolutely love this musical work.

In the sixth piece Fac, ut portem Christi mortem about three minutes in (the Spotify version), there’s a sequence for the string quartet, and at 3:20 one of the instruments has a solo note, a high F (I think). This single note, lasting for a few seconds, is so beautiful that I cannot even keep my eyes open. I feel this note throughout my entire body; in a way I totally let myself float away on this note… while still being completely present to the sensation, with awareness of myself and the pleasure I take in being a part of this musical creation.

Allowing myself to feel, to enjoy, to take pleasure in what is, in the moment. Letting me experience what is there to experience, without drowning in the emotion. Being aware, being present, stops me from drowning, giving me an anchor of sorts, to my innate wellbeing. It makes me open to feel, to dare to feel it all.

This duality, of feeling fully, of experiencing, while at the same time witnessing the experience taking place. This is one way for me to be gentle with myself, as I am no longer afraid to feel what I feel.


Advent Calendar 2018 – number 6 of 24 – on the theme of being gentle.

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Advent Calendar 5 – Find in ME?

December 5, 2018
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When I stopped banging myself over the head on the inside, my life shifted. Gradually starting to see that the harsh voices on the inside weren’t necessarily the Truth, and learning to speak more gently to myself, made a world of difference.

It also enabled me meeting myself, as well as you. Because I was no longer afraid to meet myself, neither the light nor the darkness, it gave me the opening to truly meet people. And I am quite adamant that these meetings take place both with me meeting me as well as others. They are both significant – as I can mirror myself in all kinds of meetings.

I talked about this in my Facebook-live of the day, and a few hours later, Vanessa of Crafting Connections posted this image.

What might I find in ME when I meet YOU?

Synchronicity. I never stop being amazed at the synchronicities of the world around me – and the more aware I get of myself and my surroundings, the more synchronicity I spot.

This question is one I bring with me, but softly, like music playing in the background. Not in-your-face, but off in the distance. When I do my CoachWalks I have this question with me as well. Never as a goal in and of itself, because my CoachWalks are for my clients, so what I might find in me when meeting them is not something I have as a focal point – but it’s definitely something I am open to, being curious with an openness for what wants to happen. This openness I find benefits my clients as well, as it means I can pick up on minute shifts, both within me and them, that might very well be just what wants to be discovered in the moment.

To think… none of this might have occurred to me had I not stopped knocking myself over the head with a shovel. 


Advent Calendar 2018 – number 5 of 24 – on the theme of being gentle.

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Advent Calendar 4 – What is is.

December 4, 2018
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What is is.

And how I relate to what is is a large determinant on how much energy I have left for creations, let alone for living my life.

I can fight what is, which in essence means waisting my energy without getting anything of value in return.

Or I can accept what is, and use my energy in a way that serves me (and those around me).

I’ve struggled with this concept myself – because I had the sense that I would be like a doormat if I ‘accepted what is’. But I don’t view it like that anymore. Far from it – because by accepting what is means I have more energy left to do something with  it might be that I want something else to be ‘what is’ in the future, or perhaps not at all related to ‘what is’. In either case, I am not wasting my energy fighting against that which is.


Advent Calendar 2018 – number 4 of 24 – on the theme of being gentle.

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Advent Calendar 3 – Letting my body sing with joy

December 3, 2018
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The importance of being in physical motion isn’t new to anyone reading this. Of this I am so sure I’d be willing to bet money. However – many of us (including me!) aren’t in motion even close to the amount we need, to do our bit to ensure wellbeing in all ways, physical as well as mental and spiritual. Because they are connected, as we as human beings are an integrated system, not a body separated from our mind.

I don’t have a car anymore (not since 2014), and live in Malmö in Sweden, which is a city well attuned to riding bikes as well as walking and with a fairly ok-functioning public transportation system. As I don’t need a car to get to work, being without a car works just peachy for me. And if I need one, I have friends who are wonderful, as they let me borrow theirs if possible. And if that fails, there’s always Sunfleet carpool.

If possible, I do use my bike, so this morning, when I had a walk n talk at a park in the center of town, I rode my bike there and back. All in all this means I have gotten two hours of movement in my body, and my body loves it. But not just my body – it’s the perfect “cure” for ensuring mental movement as well. As Anna Tebelius Bodin told me and the others at a seminar last week, just by standing up, our human brains are alerted. They wake up, going “What’s up? I am ready for what ever may come!”. Our brains were evolved to our current functionality approximately 40 000 years ago, when human beings were in almost constant movement, at least 17-18 000 steps per day. So when these ancestors of ours finally did sit down, their brains were allowed to take a rest. So the way us modern humans live and work today, with many if not most of us, being practically immobile for hours upon hours, sitting in front of a computer screen, or a lecture for that matter, we are not giving our brains an optimal setting to ensure learning. Because just by sitting down, the brain has already entered rest mode.

In the spring of 2017, my body all of a sudden started to tell me it wasn’t satisfied with “just” walking and biking any more. It told me to start to jog. Me, jog? Well… if the body tells me so, who am I to disagree, right? So I started to jog, slowly, and set a goal for myself this year of jogging at least every week. Which I have done, except for weeks when I’ve had a cold, but then I do two jogs the next week to compensate.

Come spring of 2018, my body whispered more and more, that it wanted about 10-20 kilometers of movement a day. So I’ve listened. Letting my body sing with joy at being able to move, at wanting to move, of being used the way it is meant to be used – for movement. That makes me feel great!


Advent Calendar 2018 – number 3 of 24 – on the theme of being gentle.

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