Writings

Wanderlust (book 24 of 26)

Wanderlust (book 24 of 26)

December 2, 2018
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Wanderlust. Rebecca Solnit. Subtitled A History of Walking.

“[…] each walk moves through space like a thread through fabric, sewing it together into a continuous experience – so unlike the way air travel chops up time and space and even cars and trains do. This continuity is one of the things I think we lost in the industrial age – but we can choose to reclaim it, again and again, and some do. The fields and streets are waiting.”

The most beautiful of languages she has, Rebecca Solnit. There are passages in this book where I am enraptured, of the sheer beauty of the words strung together with intelligence and tender loving care, all at once. The first two pages of chapter three Rising and Falling: The Theorists of Bipedalism is one of those places. I marked it in my copy of the book, with the words What a magnificently beautiful passage!

“[..] the sense of place that can only be gained on foot. Many people nowadays live in a series of interiors – home, car, gym, office, shops – disconnected from each other. On foot everything stays connected, for while walking one occupies the spaces between those interiors in the same way one occupies those interiors. One lives in the whole world rather than in interiors built up against it.”

Rebecca Solnit manages to write an expose on walking that takes it far wider than my imagination could have conceived. Making me realize just how important walking is, how it has roots in our hominid-background, and how it is, perhaps, on the verge of extinction…

“When you give yourself to places, they give you yourself back; the more one comes to know them, the more one seeds them with the invisible crop of memories and associations that will be waiting for you when you come back, while new places offer up new thoughts, new possibilities. Exploring the world is one of the best ways of exploring the mind, and walking travels both terrains.”

The passages I bring forth here are all linked together; all relate to the sense of place and space of walking that Solnit circles back to, over and over again in Wanderlust. I could as easily have chosen the topic of revolutions or perhaps of citizenship, and how walking has played an integral part in shaping the history of humankind. Or perhaps the apparent gendered bias making public spaces available for walking by men, and not women, for millennia. But I didn’t. As I write these reflections, I flick though the pages of the books I’m to write about, and as my eye falls on my pencil-scribbles in the margins, what tugs at me shapes my writing. And thus, this is what wants to be reflected upon.

“But there are three prerequisites to going out into the world to walk for pleasure. One must have free time, a place to go, and a body unhindered by illness or social restraints.”

I go for walks. By my very lonesome. Revelling in the different vistas my neighboring recreational area of Bulltofta grant me as seasons pass.

I take walk n talks as often as I can. Whenever someone asks me to join them for a cup of tea (usually they suggest coffee which I don’t even drink…), I almost always suggest a walk n talk instead.

And. I do CoachWalks, talking my clients walking with me, often along the paths of Bulltofta where I spend so much of my time. I usually look up, throw my arms to the side and exult Welcome to my office! When in physical motion, it’s hard – not to say impossible – for the mind to be immobile. So walking is one of my secret tools in my coaching tool box.

“Walking has been one of the constellations in the starry sky of human culture, a constellation whose three stars are the body, the imagination, and the wide-open world, and though all three exist independently, it is the lines drawn between them – drawn by the act of walking for cultural purposes – that makes them a constellation. Constellations are not natural phenomena but cultural impositions; the lines drawn between stars are like paths worn by the imagination of those who have gone before. This constellation called walking has a history., the history trod out by all those poets and philosophers and insurrectionairies, by jaywalkers, streetwalkers, pilgrims, tourists, hikers, mountaineers, but whether it has a future depends on whether those connecting paths are travelled still.”

Wanderlust. And important book.
Pick it up. Read it. And never look upon Walking quite the same way ever again.


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

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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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Advent Calendar 1 – Being gentle

December 1, 2018
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I decided to join the #BusinessBoomutmaning (i.e. challenge) in December as well, doing 21 FB Live’s, just like I did in November. This time around, I will be doing my live’s in Swedish, and as an Advent Calendar on the theme of being gentle. But I also wanted to share my current thoughts on this subject here, as this entire site is centered around Being and Doing Gentle. So I will do a written advent calendar here on the blog, in writing sharing what I share in words on Facebook (in Swedish). The background for why I landed in Being Gentle is simply thus: I have spent 75% of my life in the opposite corner, being extremely harsh with myself.

My inner dialogue was hard up until around ten years ago when the following occurred: 
I was headed to my therapist, and as I hadn’t taken the time to withdraw cash from the ATM the day before, I went to the small kiosk along the way, with the intent of buying something small and withdrawing cash at the same time. However, as I came there, the phone lines were down, so they could not accept my credit card. Hence… I came to my therapist without cash to pay her. And I felt awful. Horrendous. Disrespectful towards her, with the knowledge that I was a dreadful and despicable person for not living up to my end of the bargain.

I told her as much… and she looked at me (with the kindest and most curious of gazes) and stated the obvious: You are very hard on yourself. 

I nodded, a bit perplexed, and asked: Don’t you have to? 

She shrugged her shoulders, and said, gently: No. If it had been me, I would simply have said that I’ll bring double the money next time. 

And, like the wrecking ball that Miley Cyrus sings about, my beliefs shattered. The beliefs that I had to be hard on myself… or perhaps rather, the belief that that was the only way to be me in the world. All of a sudden, I got a glimpse that perhaps there was another way of talking to myself, one that did not make me feel so bad, much (most…) of the time.

From then on, I have worked at transforming the ingrained habits of 30+ years of living life being hard on myself, into living a life of being gentle towards myself. Have found ways of being and doing gentle towards myself, and today, wholeheartedly, I can say: I like being me. I enjoy the way I am with myself, and how I show up as me. And I love myself. But that was not the basis for this transformation, that has been a bonus effect!


Advent Calendar 2018 – number 1 of 24 – on the theme of being gentle.

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A gift? Or a present?

November 28, 2018
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53. What do you want to gift to the world? #teachingoftheday on gifting, and on creating things that matter to you. I think we need to rethink our concept of gifts, just as we need to adjust our expectations of the receivers of gifts.

Publicerat av Caspian Almerud Onsdag 28 november 2018

I listen to Caspian in #teachingoftheday number 53: What do you want to gift to the world?

#teachingoftheday on gifting, and on creating things that matter to you. I think we need to rethink our concept of gifts, just as we need to adjust our expectations of the receivers of gifts.

I listen. And agree. Perhaps not so surprising, as I gifted him (twice!) It’s you turn by Seth Godin, (a book I in turn have been gifted by Seth himself!) that gave him these thoughts. I am onboard, completely, having thought a lot about that which I gift to the world.

But. When Caspian differentiates between gifts and presents (from 5:20 onwards), my mind started to spin.

He says Of course there is a difference between gifts and presents, I am aware of that.

And immediately my mind went Really? Is there? Isn’t a gift a present? Isn’t a present a gift? Is there an obvious difference between these two words? 

This fascinates me; how all of a sudden my mind opened to seeing a connection (or perhaps a dissonance?) that I’ve never picked up on before. The words gift and present are words I’ve used hundreds or thousands of times. And I have never ever put them next to each other, comparing them, in a sense I’ve never really looked at them. It’s as if I right now, am tasting these two words for the very first time.

 

 

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Show up and respond to what shows up

November 24, 2018
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During Supercoach Academy, more than once, Michael Neill told me and my fellow classmates the two secrets to coaching (and life):

  1. Show up
  2. Respond to what shows up

Nah, I hear you saying. It can’t be that simple. 

Well.
Why not?
I mean – what if it truly is that simple?

Showing up (present. Fully present) and responding to what shows up.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

This coach (and life) motto was the topic of a Facebook live I recently streamed:

FB Live #5 – Showing up – two rules! 🎯

FB Live #5 – Showing up as a coach (and as a human being)!Sharing two rules for coaching (as well as being a human being).https://helenaroth.com/#BusinessBoomUtmaning

Publicerat av Helena Roth Måndag 5 november 2018

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Good enough for now, safe enough to try

November 22, 2018
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Good enough for now, safe enough to try.

Caspian talks in his #teachingoftheday on “just doing things” and not falling prey to the trap of perfection and endless planning. Those two aspects (perfection and excessive planning) likely make a lot less happen in the world than what would otherwise be the case.

49. What could you accomplish without perfection? #teachingoftheday from a small laundry room, and on holiday!This is one of my favourite topics, and I’ll most probably get back to it.

Publicerat av Caspian Almerud Torsdag 22 november 2018

When asked What could you accomplish without perfection? my reply was: My #teachingoftheday:s for instance – and my FB live:s – just doing it, and not really worrying about it. 

And as I was typing my response, Caspian said just as much, because for him as well, the #teachingoftheday-vlogs are good enough to ship in the moment, and definitely safe enough to try, with no real harm imaginable for Caspian. Or for me. Because I feel the same.

Having blogged for six years and in that sense getting used to “shipping content” on an almost daily basis, has definitely prepared me for the vlog-experience. And it’s been fun. Once I had filmed my first #teachingoftheday, I immediately filmed another one, and I’ve done a couple more since. And then I started doing FB-live:s, and truly enjoyed myself. With no aim for perfection what so ever!

What might you be able to do (for yourself, for your close ones, for the world, the scope doesn’t really matter) that would be good enough for now, safe enough to try?

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On the issue of the day

November 20, 2018
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I often return to blog posts of the past. My blog posts of the past. As I’ve been blogging for 6 years – more or less daily for 5 of those years – there are quite a few blog posts to choose from.

When there’s an interesting article or question or observation asked, many times I am reminded of something I’ve written that is relevant to whatever prompted the connection being made in my mind. So I search for it (and oftentimes find what I am looking for. Not always though) and can share what I’ve written and pondered about… about whatever really. Fear. Mistakes. Dancing. Coaching. Existential questions. Anything really!

And what is apparent, is how timeless many of my posts are. They can be recent or have 5 years to them, and still be as relevant today as when I wrote them. It’s not valid for all of them though, and listening to Seth Godin on Good Life Project, I got some insight into why that is. Seth was telling Jonathan Fields about “the issue of the day” and how he makes a point n o t to write about is – in specifics (listen from about 49 minutes in):

I care enough about my vision of the world that if I thought that I could change the way we did things by blogging about it, specifically, I would do it. But I feel like, a) chiming in on the issue of the day is a trap because it protects us from having to take responsibility for a larger view. […]
I think you can read at least half my blog posts as political, but none of them are saying Today, I think this person is wrong and this person is right, because as soon as I do that it’s so easy to ignore what I said because I am not on the right team, what ever team you want to be on. And so, I don’t want to play that sort of short-term tribal thing. Instead I want to say thank you to people from where ever you are coming from for giving me two minutes of your time, think about this. And if you think about this and still want to support that, well that’s your choice because you are a grown-up. Because I don’t believe what you believe, I don’t know what you know, I don’t want what you want. But here, here is a thought that feels to me coherent, and hard to argue with, and I notice things, do you notice this? And I know that that kind of input has influenced my life coming up, particularly as a teenager and surely thereafter, way more than when someone says this person is right, that person is wrong.

This is truly food for thought for me, and in how and what I write. Because I do chime in, now and again, on the specifics of the issues of the day. And those are posts that have a much shorter lifespan than posts that take the larger view.

I love how a new thought can open up for new perspectives – will this lead to changes in how and what I write? Or not?

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The Tibetan Art of Positive Thinking (book 23 of 26)

November 18, 2018
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Coming closer to the end of my reading challenge of 2018, the part which has me reading 26 books in Swedish and 26 in English, books I already had in my possession at the start of the year. The Tibetan Art of Positive Thinking by Christopher Hansard, is a book I got a year or two ago, on the recommendation of D.

“From the beating of our hearts at birth to our final breath in death, a continual stram of thought flows through us, making us, forming all our desires and directing unconscious actions, yet always guiding us towards greater self-knowledge. The power of thought is immense.”

It is. And the difference in how living life as me, before and after I realized exactly how powerful thought is… Huge.

“‘You are what you think.’ […] ‘Thoughts directs all things’, he said. ‘People pride themselves on how they think, but really it is thought that moves through people. Our thoughts create our lives, they make us sick, happy or successful. Our thoughts can pollute our planet through the actions we take. Thoughts on their own will gather like clouds in the sky, good thoughts coming together with other good thoughts and unskilful thoughts attracting other unskilful thoughts.'”

Or said in another way: we get more of that which we focus on. Another one of those clichés that I see people sharing, without fully realizing what it actually means. It means what it says. I do get more of that which I focus on. It’s simple physics. Like attracts like.

“Emotions are the teachers of human experience and we must always give thanks for them. They must not be denied but understood, loved and transformed.”

Allowing myself to feel what I feel, while at the same time, not necessarily take it so bloody seriously, or, for that matter, react upon every emotion that pops up within. Asking myself, how does this serve me, giving me that tiniest of distances towards myself, which can stop me from reacting, and instead having me choose my action.

Those are just a few of all the passages I’ve marked up until page 22. With another 250 pages to go, you do the math. So pick up a copy of this book, and find out for yourself what the ancient Tibetans (the Bön tradition, which began 17 000 years ago!) discovered about the world, our place in it and how everything connects.

“Complaining is damaging because words are the houses in which our thoughts live. They way you speak will indicate the way you think.”

That’s one reason why I have consciously chosen to be very restrictive with certain words. Such as right/wrong, good/bad, must/should/would/ought to. To name a few.

“If we become softer and slow our rush [in our search for happiness and meaning], the fear of desperation will fall away and we can then hear the tender voice of pure thought energy wishing only to guide us.
Make things simple in your life. Let your life become simple in its actions, communicate simply and let your love be simple, for then it will be profound.”

This reminds me of the phrase “Slowing down to the speed of life“, which actually is a book title, of a book I have yet to read. I will though, one of these days…


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own. 

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The answer is No…

November 16, 2018
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A few weeks ago, Vanessa of Crafting Connection (remember, the one with the amaaaazing Be the change-cards) shared an image on Facebook and Instagram, and I made a screen shot, because I found it do to the point:
If you don’t ask the answer is NO!!

So simple. So brilliant. And so ridiculously true. If you don’t ask the answer is NO!!

And still… here I am (possibly you as well?) hesitant to ask. Fearing the possible no. Totally missing the super-obvious, that if I don’t ask… the answer is given. No. Because I will n o t get what I don’t ask for (yes. Of course. Given that it is a something that I have to ask for to get. If it was something I could do myself, I would. Duh…).

Reminds me of something I have kept coming back to these past weeks, in various situations. That most of us would raise our hands if asked if we like to help other people. And – here comes the sad part – most of us would not raise our hands if asked if we like to ask for help from others.

I wonder how much the fear of getting a No is at the root of this behaviour? Probably quite a lot. And it’s a shame. Because if I, and you, and everybody else who refrains from asking for help, would start to look at is as providing others with an opportunity to do what people in general like doing, i.e. being of assistance, being helpful, perhaps more of us would raise our hands when asked Do you like to ask for help?

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Written on the body

November 15, 2018
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What do you think about the book, he asked me?

I am not sure, I answered. It’s mixed. There is a sense of distance, like I cannot really get i n t o the characters, i n t o the book, in the way I like, to get engulfed. There are parts written in a way that I cannot fathom how any one person can actually come up with something like that (specifically the parts written about the tissues of the body). That fascinates me as it’s not something I could ever in a million year see myself doing. And then… at times, there are passages that absolutely knocks the breath out of me, with stunning clarity, beauty, punch.

“Bigger questions, questions with more than one answer, questions without an answer are harder to cope with in silence. Once asked they do not evaporate and leave the mind to its serener musings. Once asked they gain dimension and texture, trip you on the stairs, wake you at night-time. A black hole sucks up its surroundings and even light never escapes. Better then to ask no questions? Better then to be a contented pig than an unhappy Socrates? Since factory farming is tougher on pigs than it is on philosophers I’ll take a chance.”

These passages in Written on the body, they are not a soft pastel aquarelle painting. This is a book of oil on canvas, thick, rich colours and textures, dramatic and real.

“The earliest pilgrims shared a cathedral for a heart. They were the temple not made with hands. The Eklasia of God. The song that carried them over the waves was the hymn that rung the rafters. Their throats were bare for God. Look at them now, heads thrown back, mouths open, alone but for the gulls that dip the prow. Against the too salt sea and the inhospitable sky, their voices made a screen of praise. 
Love it was that drove them forth. Love that brought them home again. Love hardened their hands against the oar and heated their sinews against the rain. The journeys they made were beyond common sense; who leaves the hearth for the open sea? especially without a compass, especially in winter, especially alone. What you risk reveals what you value. In the presence of love, hearth and quest become one.”

Written on the body was the book-du-jour of the GIFTED book club meet up today. D chose the book, and boy, did he ever open it up for me (and the others I think). There are layers and layers to be discovered in this book. A spider web intricately woven by Jeanette Winterson, and D, with his passion and love for the beauty and hidden meaning/s of this (and other) books, pushed the door open for me. Made me realize there’s a whole universe to discover with this book as the entry way.

All of a sudden…. it’s a book I am more curious about now, that I was when I had first read it. Makes me want to read it again, to see if I can discover a few of the references and subtly hidden messages D talked so passionately about tonight!

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