Writings

Doing. Being. Causing pain?

Doing. Being. Causing pain?

February 26, 2019
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Back pains again.
Desperately trying to figure out what to do to stop the pain, as well as ensure it doesn’t return.

Got valuable help from the one and only D once more, suggesting I look less at what to do, and more at what I am doing and how I am being it.

Still. Struggled with it.
Frustration and pain. Horrible pain.

Two full days at a customer site – long days.
Busy evenings at that.

So this morning (after 4 full days of pain) I relented and rescheduled a meeting I had this evening, giving myself an evening of rest with an added bonus-online therapy session with D as well. Got to my customer – and an hour before lunch I suddenly noticed: pain gone.

Just like that.

The appearance of these back pains has me looking within, with invaluable help from D. And I have to say, I humbly bow down to those who suffer constant bodily pain. It’s hard to avoid giving my backpain my entire focus, even though I know that’s the best way to ensure I suffer the pain all the more.

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Professional capital – Transforming teaching in every school (book 2 of 12)

February 24, 2019
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in Tip
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Professional capital – Transforming teaching in every school.
A book by Alan Hargreaves and Michael Fullan.

“In the end, nobody can give you professional capital. It’s an investment. […] Nobody’s going to be prepared to invest in anyone unless they are willing to invest in themselves. This is by far the best place, and indeed the first place, to begin.” 

I remember a coachwalk I had with a client, who got a massive insight into exactly this: how he had mistakenly believed that it was the sole responsibility of his employer to invest in him, rather than something he also had responsibility for. By (also) investing in himself, he would be increasing his own human and professional capital, serving both himself as well as his current, and future, employers.

“Working with big ballroom audiences, or conducting training workshops outside of school or using one-to-one coaching to enforce compliance with imposed programs, has little deep or long-standing impact on teachers’ daily practice.
What is crucial is what happens between workshops. Who tries things out? Who supports you? Who gives you feedback? Who picks you up when you make a mistake the first time? Who else can you learn from? How can you take responsibility for change together? The key variable that determines success in any innovation, in other words, is the degree of social capital in the culture of your own school Learning is the work, and social capital is the fuel. If social capital is weak, everything else is destined for failure.”

As I have been working with Pernilla Tillander with all pre-school as well as all school-staff in the commune of Skurup in the south of Sweden during 2017-2018, I am totally onboard here. We have done four half-day workshops with all staff (in groups of maximum 70 people), spread out over two semesters, with process leaders following up b e t w e e n the modules – and those follow-up sessions have been absolutely critical for the success of the personal group development we were hired to provide! Because the truth is this: we can provide an opportunity for personal group development through leadership training. But we, me and Pernilla, are not the ones who makes it happen for real, that is up to the participants. We do our bit of the work, of course, but the rest is up to the participants. They have to do the work: “The best place to begin is always with yourself. Your own experiences, frustrations, ideals, and sense of self are the crucial starting points.”

Now, this is a book with a lot of good stuff. It’s well laid out and presented, and ends with clear and concise suggestions for developing roadmaps ahead, on three levels, for teachers; for school and district administrators; and for state, government and union/federation leaders. And I definitely think there’s a lot of value to be had, in making the suggested changes to ensure a growing and continuously evolving professional capital. (And honestly, they do target teaching and education, but there’s plenty of value for any person, organization or workplace interested in culture and development through learning better, more and continuously.)

Hargreaves and Fullan push all the way to the edges of the box I call the school system. But boy would I like to see them push beyond those edges! Now that would be something extraordinary, that’s for sure. Because although they are great at prodding sore spots, identifying areas that must be transformed…. they are still locked within the paradigm of schools, in the way schools are, and have been, since they were first created. They do make a pass at the unit of the lesson but fail to take their own advice, never fully making a pass at the unit of schools.

“The unit of the lesson that Hattie adopts as the standard currency of teaching and schooling is more than a century old. Yet, lessons have never been the only unit of teaching and they will likely become less and less the unit of teaching in the future. […] If we are saying that it is outdated to base teachers’ contracts on class sizes, using the class as the unit of calculation, then we have to acknowledge that among administrators and researchers, the lesson may be and should be becoming equally outdated as the unit of teaching and learning too.”

Don’t you agree with me that it would be very interesting to see them take this critical viewpoint up a notch or two, encompassing the entire system of schooling and education?


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2019, to read and blog about 12 Swedish and 12 English books, one every other week, books that I already own.

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What’s your superpower?

February 20, 2019
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What’s your superpower?, Dave asked the participants of the Reignite your business challenge. I jotted down a few notes, and realized that I am not sure that I know what my superpower is, given that my superpower is likely something that comes so natural to me, something I just do, something I just am, rather than actually know I do/am.

So I asked a few well-chosen people, and got some great answers back, mirroring me in the best of ways. What they told me I will be pondering, reflecting and likely write about as well.

But not now.
Not yet.
All in due time.

Facebook Live #112 🇬🇧🇱🇷 – What’s your superpower? 💪🏼

Facebook Live #112 🇬🇧🇱🇷 – What’s your superpower? 💪🏼#ReigniteYourBusiness #superpower

Publicerat av Helena Roth Onsdag 20 februari 2019

But I am curious though – what’s your superpower? Does the question raise as many follow-up questions for you as it does for me (as apparent from the Facebook Live)?

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Reigniting my business!

February 18, 2019
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With a little help (or honestly, a huge kick in the behind) from my coach Dave Kibby, I am in the process of reigniting my business. Dave launched a five-day challenge on Facebook, starting today, called Reignite your business. I jumped on it and was thrilled at the assignment for day one: to jot down on post-it’s everything that constitutes my business.

We got the assignment last night, and I got on it immediately. I added a few more notes today, and will likely be playing more with this…. regardless of what Dave has up his sleeve as the other four assignments for the challenge!

At least a quarter of these notes are ideas for the future, things I want to do, alone as well as together with other people. Some might be turned into form in one way or another, others won’t, but just noticing all that my business holds, feels amazing.

Facebook Live #110 🇱🇷🇬🇧 – Reigniting my business with help from Dave Kibby! 🔥🔥🔥

Facebook Live #110 🇱🇷🇬🇧 – Reigniting my business with help from Dave Kibby! 🔥🔥🔥

Publicerat av Helena Roth Måndag 18 februari 2019

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Slow down. Ease up.

February 16, 2019
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As I walked through the door, exclaiming my back is killing me, D picked up on the message. When we sat down to work with the pain, he asked me: What did you feel as you stepped through the door?

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.

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Narrowing my focus

February 12, 2019
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Gown off; my intention for the year. Gown off, as in as I am.

How will this show up to the world?

Well… the year is young, and there’s plenty of time for this to develop in ways unknown to me right now. What I am busy doing though, is making sure that what you see more genuinely reflects me as I am. I want to make sure I show up as I am both in 3D and online, so I am creating congruency between these arenas. Working on updating my website as well as my profile on LinkedIn. But am also using both Instagram and Facebook slightly differently, including my Facebook Live’s.

Working on my LinkedIn profile, and so much more with my coach Dave Kibby; it was in a session with him that gown off was revealed to me (us).
Had a hoot of a day in a photo session with photographer Anders Roos, to take new photos of me. As I am.
Spent a day cutting my soon-to-be-released podcast together with audio producer Søren Lassen Andreassen, getting raw cuts of twenty-two episodes finished. With musician Olof Jennfors putting the final touches to the soundtrack, I look forward to release my first-ever (own) podcast in a few weeks time! More on that, in due time.

Everything for everyone isn’t the best of business ideas, and it’s definitely not mine, as I am also getting much clearer with who I want to work with, separating them from those I can work with. The former is a smaller part of the latter, which means I am narrowing my focus, which feels great!

Who I want to work with? You! Given that you are a person who wants to do the work, to change, to expand. You, if you are a person ready to show up in the world as you are. Are you?

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With a little help from my friends… or with money?

February 11, 2019
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When I have a need, say of a long ladder so the chimney sweeper coming for his annual visit can get up on the roof, or a car for a few hours or a day, or help to take care of Pop the cat for a few days, or whatever really – my first instinct is to think about my friends. Might there amongst them be someone who can help me, or at least point me in a direction that could solve my problem/tend to my need?

I think it always has been my initial reaction. But I’m not sure.
I know I started to get really good at asking for help once my first marriage crashed and burned five weeks before the birth of my eldest child. Have a hard time to recall if I was as good at asking for help before that, but have a feeling I was. At least pretty good at it. But ever since that crash and burn, I’ve gotten really good at asking for help, and am proud of it!

The other possible reaction is to look for a service provider to tend to the need. Buy a ladder. Call a taxi or book a car in a carpool. Get Pop a few days vacation at a cattery.

These two approaches to life, and to solving one’s needs, are just that, two different approaches. I for one instinctively go for the first, and if that doesn’t work out, choose a suitable service provider to ensure I get my needs met. Neither approach is inherently good or bad. But… at the same time, the benefits of the first approach, of asking near and dear ones for help, has some (perhaps not so) hidden advantages to it. If I ask you for help, and you can help, the likelihood of you asking me, or others, for help when you need it increases. In this way, we weave a tapestry of relationship, of friendship, of live, concern and care. If I always turn to a professional service provider to help me out, I am effectively not weaving myself into that tapestry of mutual relationships, and I think that’s a dangerous path to choose.

We know that one of the most significant indicators of happiness is the strength of a person’s relationships. Asking for, and responding to requests for, help, is definitely one important part of relationship-building. We are better together, that’s the superpower of human beings. If I don’t do my bit in giving others the chance to help me, I am holding back on strengthening relationships not just for my own sake, but also for those close to me, am I not? And what message am I sending, by not asking for help? Is it a signal I want to send?

So perhaps… I am wrong in saying there’s nothing inherently good nor bad in these two approaches? Perhaps there is more good to be had from asking for help, than from paying a service provider? At least if I never ever ask anyone for help. But perhaps people like that simply do not exist?

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In pain.

February 10, 2019
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Friday morning it started. Again. My lower back pulsating, sending small hints that soon, in a few hours or at most a day, there will be massive pain, making me so weak that getting out of bed, putting socks on, or sitting down is a major hassle. A painful hassle.

Lying on heated wheat bags, with hips/legs in a 90 degree angle to alleviate the pain.

I know to be in motion when this happens. To not freeze on account of the pain, but rather the opposite. To move as much as I can, to stand, dance, wiggle my body, apply heat (or cold, but heat is so much nicer…) and whatever other ways to try to get through the pain incident as quickly as I can. 

It used to be my neck. Freezing up every now and then… and I finally got the message: speak out, because you’re holding something vital back, that needs to be communicated. Once I got the message, I picked up on the cues, and as I often (always?) knew what it was I was holding back, and to whom, this problem has all but disappeared.

Now it’s my lower back. And it has been for a few years. And I haven’t gotten the message. I’ve gotten a strengthening program for my core, and that’s helped, but out of the blue (or so I thought until today), this back pain would flare up, making life really painful for a few days.

Invited to lunch at D’s place, I knocked, stepped in and exclaimed: my back is killing me! He continued cooking, we talked, we ate (oh my, delicious doesn’t even begin to describe D’s cooking!), had tea, and then he asked if I wanted to work with him on my back. An offer too good to decline.

I showed him, the difficulty I had in leaning down to touch the floor, and with a sense of disgust told him about the sensation of being totally weak, lacking strength and control of my lower back, effectively stopping me from functioning in the world in the way I normally do.

So we got to work.
Him asking. Me responding.
Him paying very close attention to the energies, where they took me, what they had me do.
Scratch my forehead.
Peck on his knee with my finger.
He had me describing the pain; the location of it; the size of it; the shape of it; the sensation of it.

For an hour (or so?! I don’t know…) we continued, with me sensing into the pain, discovering the connection to old Helena (the one I was, before… The one that started to transform into new Helena, i.e. me, a few weeks before the birth of my first child) as well as Warrior Helena, my longings, needs, fears. Delving into my relationship to these two archetypes of Me, as well as noticing the shifting sensation in my back. Melancholy, tears, disgust, disappointment, the disembodied feeling of being a Brain and a Body rather than an integrated Being. Coming to understand the need to make allies with both old Helena and Warrior Helena.

That’s the message.
With the neck, my body told me to communicate with others.
With the lower back, my body is telling me to communicate with me. All of me. All aspects of me. To make all parts of me my allies, and not enemies, or parts to be ignored, taken for granted or be ashamed of. 

It’s hard to put into words, but in a gentle way a lot of ground was covered, a lot of work done. When done, D asked: How’s the back now? I smiled at him, wiggled about on the sofa a bit, afraid to show him what I believed to be true: that the pain was gone. So after stalling for a while – wanting to live in the hope that what I sensed from my lower back was true, rather than the fear of trying it out only to discover it wasn’t – I stood up, bent over, touched the floor without the least bit of problem or pain, danced around a bit, grinning from ear to ear: The pain is gone. Gone!

Oh!
The relief – the constant background pain, similar to the low-murmuring noise of ventilation. The relief when the pain disappears equal to that which occurs when the ventilation suddenly shuts down.
Amazement – how is this possible? Talking, sensing, doing the work, and all of a sudden, the pain is just gone?
Gratitude – how lucky am I, to have a friend like D. Someone who can help me find out more about myself, the messages my body is desperately trying to tell me, guiding me in the process of discovery. He’s done it before, he’ll do it again.
Wonderment!

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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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Automate it!

February 6, 2019
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in Tip
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Automate it, I said, and she frowned. That sounds like robots and stuff, she responded and had me off on a rant about the marvel of automating things, and how it can be robots and stuff, certainly, but also what I make automatic in my life. Like the question Does this serve me? which I’ve asked myself thousands of times since… 2012?

In fact, I’ve asked myself this question so many times, that I no longer have to ask it to answer it. It’s now something I do automatically, whenever (or at least most of the times) I experience a really strong sensation, be it anger, irritation, frustration, fear, sadness, anxiety, worry. Or for that matter extreme elation, joy, curiosity, bubbling eagerness. The script of does this serve me runs automatically, and my response has me make a more conscious decision. It gives me just enough of a pause, or a distance if you will, to be able to observe what I am experiencing and respond to the question.

If the answer is yes I keep on going. If the answer is no sometimes I keep going anyway, taking full responsibility for it, and sometimes (most of the times, I would like to think) I stop, since the pause I’ve given myself gives me a way out somehow.

Insights are amazing. They are one of, if not the best superpowers of human beings. One of the most impactful insights I’ve gotten was that I don’t have to be so hard on myself. Sounds silly almost, but I was actually about… let’s see… 35 years old when I fully got this. So for 35 years, I lived with an extremely harsh inner dialogue. But – and this is important – just because I got the insight, didn’t mean that I automatically stopped being hard on myself. You see, for 35 years, I’d very efficiently built a whole system of neural pathways on how to be hard on myself. And just because I got that insight, those pathways didn’t disintegrate. They didn’t, because neural pathways don’t. (Unless you have a neural degenerative disease of some sort. Luckily, most of us don’t.) So what I had to do, once I got that insight, was learn new ways of interacting with myself.

I was helped along by my willingness to change my inner dialogue (which definitely also affected the way I interacted with everyone else. As above, so below and all that stuff!) and my observatory powers. I started to observe myself being hard on me. At first… it could take me hours (if not days) to spot it, after the fact, that is. After a stint of that, my revelatory observations crept closer and closer to the actual situation, and before I knew it, I was picking up on my soon-to-be-harsh inner dialogue. Before it happened. When that happened, I had a choice. Harsh. Or gentle. And I could pick which route to go down. And once I started picking gentle I started to build new neural pathways, training myself into new patterns of being with me.

Now 10-11 years after that first initial insight of not having to treat myself so harshly, I’ve gotten sooo good at being gentle with me. Not soft. Not weak. Not letting myself off the hook, and never challenging me. No, not even close to that! I challenge myself so much more now that I no longer fear my internal judge! So in a sense, I’ve not just automated does this serve me, but also being gentle with myself.

Both of these are ”automated scripts” that I find truly serve me as well as those around me.

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