Wednesday, February 21, 2018

vegan haircare products

vegan haircare, 2018 - maria nila

I don't know about you, but I'm a tad bit tired of thinking, writing, talking about the sadness and hurt over the project and team situation that went amuck. So from inside my head to literally outside we go - this will simply be a post about vegan haircare products, the good, the bad but never the ugly inside.

paul mitchell hair care revisited ❤️, august 2017 - and snoopervisor zigne

I used to use a lot of Paul Mitchell products, not really sure why I stopped. Because they were darlin', the Awapuhi shampoo, the carrot Detangler and the apple scented Super Sculpt gel were my favourites. As they've changed the design and the content isn't really obvious anymore it was a bit tricky to find the right gel - less than clever people at hair salons had no idea what I was talking about and instead tried to sell other brands... But Google was my friend in this case and I found it. Hooray.

And once I opened the bottles in the shower and used the products it was like coming home. It's so obvious high quality products, the Awapuhi shampoo has a delicious scent and the Detangler is still one of few conditioners that works well on my hair. I always end up looking like Ronia Robbersdaughter anyway, but for a while there's sleek softness and less bristle. The apple gel helps to tame too. Classic animal friendly products still going strong.

vegan skin/haircare -

Had the chance to try this vegan hair care range from Swedish brand disp. last year. First of all, the design of the bottles looks very cheap and outdated to me. The prices however is nothing but cheap. Hydrating shampoo and Conditioner plus a Healing mist. The scent of them all is very strong, luckily it's amazing, think fruit salad and exotic flowers with a dash of sweets shop. The shampoo is alright, but I wouldn't buy it again, for that price it needs to be great. The conditioner is rubbish, turned my hair into dry steel wool.

vegan skin/haircare -

I was really sceptical about the Healing mist, seems like a pretty superfluous product (but I guess you might need it after that conditioner experience...) to me. But guess what, it's lovely. Smells great, obviously, tames the wisps and makes them soft. I will definitely buy this product again, as I know the interior is something quite different from the ugly exterior.

Last but definitely not least there's the Swedish vegan brand Maria Nila - "Animals fill our lives with joy and laughter, and should therefore never be a part of a beautyproduct." They also climate compensate their packaging and plant a tree in Africa for every bottle sold. I'm happy to say that care for animals and the environment is matched by the content in the pretty bottles. Just with the Paul Mitchell products you can tell it's high quality from the first lovely scented dollop.

I thought the True Soft-series would be good for my hair and it really has been. The Head & Hair Heal masque I got only because the True Soft one wasn't available, and it's great. Even though the scent is a bit too after shave-ish for me. Next time I'll go all True Soft.

Funny thing is that it actually does make wonder for the softness of hair. Was talking with a friend about patronizing behaviour and she illustrated it with patting me on my head - and going a surprised "Gosh, how soft your hair is!" Where upon my reply naturally was "Yes, of course, True soft it is."

I'm pretty certain I can thank the fabulous soft haircare products for the recent few great job meetings I've had - I and my super soft hair, irresistable we are.

What are your favourite animal friendly hair care products?

Saturday, February 17, 2018


årstiderna organic vegan food box, january - february 2018 -

Did promise happy things, positive news or just plain silly matters, didn't I?

So let's start. Monday to Friday-ish - 

:: This week's amazingly colourful organic vegan food box made my heart sing! Add delicious, healthy and kind to the gorgeousness, there is truly only guilt-free happiness in plantbased food. I'll show you all the wonderful (with few exceptions) dishes I've cooked lately (as food ambassador on Instagram) soon. Still adore my little assignment.

fru marias bak, älvsjö, stockholm, sweden, february 2018

:: On Tuesday was Fat Tuesday = the importance of having a decent semla. Alas, no baking my own this year, but if you want to here's a decent recipe (vegan if you chose dairy-free butter and plantbased milk of course). I had mine at Fru Maria's Bak, it was lovely, but for the cow's cream. I've finally reached the stage where I'm pretty disgusted by the taste, constant notion of where it comes from, the vast cruelty behind it plus my tummy can't really deal with it anymore. 

Even if I've eaten 98% vegan for the last few years now I do believe I've reached the point where I really need to stick to the 100%. Both for conscience and health reasons. And it certainly isn't a sacrifice, it's a joy and you're just spreading more kindness in the world.

tulips, february 2018

:: I had a really good talk with a person who has been considerably more bruised and awfully treated by this mess, than I. And during that conversation she said so many sweet, kind and caring things - some of which made be blush, laugh and cry tears of relief afterwards, since she actually understood me - had I only got a tiny portion of that care and understanding, instead of patronising, from my (ex)team I would have been so grateful and things would have been very different now.

What we talked about and how we talked raised several questions for me, like

  • Do we really communicate so differently, women and men? Or is it just a coincidence when that happens?
  • Is the male ego more fragile than a woman's? Or is that simply an individual thing? 
  • Is it easier for women to have intellectual humility and a growth mindset than it is for men? To admit they've been wrong, misunderstood things, to apologize? To realize that's in fact a strength, not a weakness?
  • The need for straight talk, is it something prefered by women? Is circumscribing and mollycoddling more of a male thing?
Still, I do prefer to think of it as individual traits, that we all are shaped by our experiences, environment and genes, as individuals not by gender in general. But then again, this project has, in hindsight, been quite a social experiment regarding this. And I don't like what it has shown, so far. 

It's so strange to realise that the obvious patterns in this poisionous mess aren't seen by everyone. The master suppression techniques, the breach of labour laws. Where the blame, responsability and empathy should lay but aren't. Who needs a great big scolding and who doesn't. Is it female intuition? Is it a pathos for justice? Is it easier to look in another direction? Fear of conflict? Every man for himself? So many questions, a complete lack of answers and dialogue, only silence.

I said yes. I said no. I was disappointed. Frustrated. Angry. Hurt. My professional pride was steamrolled. I also promised to be braver in 2018. I said what needed to be said. Fortitude. Still, what broke my heart most in all this is how easily the team was divided, by things and people that shouldn't have been able to do that. Yet they did.

But again, grateful for having met them. It was amazing while it lasted. Wish it had continued. Still I'm proud of showing and telling how I felt, and feel. I wouldn't have been true to myself if I hadn't. And that is the most important thing always. It was my little way of braving the wilderness. If that makes me a bit inconvenient, then so be it.

sonny angel, february 2018

:: I've been working very hard on my coaching gig for these past 8 weeks, and I would lie if I didn't say it has been quite frustrating too. But it seems like, touch wood, things are finally on track as per Friday. Such a great way to end the working week. Especially concidering what happened a week ago

It's good to be reminded of the simple thing that at the end of the day, at the end of the week, I want to be able to say that I contributed more than I criticized

I've also come to realize that I'm actually a pretty decent facilitator. And that it is a trait of mine that was never really appreciated or understood in the project, never tapped into and fully made use of. We could have created magic together, with our different strengths. Ah well, it is what it is, their loss and a thorn in my heart. Back to the drawing board of figuring out where I'll contribute best with being myself.

And on fortitude, of course there is a Haevn song with that name. And it's beautiful. Naturally. I will roll into the weekend on that notion. A weekend of healing from the hurt a little bit more. Practise my resilience. And figuring out where I want to go from here.

PS. For me the natural thing would be to sit down face to face and talk this through properly. When the hurt and dust have settled a bit. The whys and hows. Set aside a day for it, don't stress it but focus. Talk and listen. And write things down. Is it possible to sort this out, rebuild the broken trust, move on, set a proper strategy? Phone calls are just poor poor substitutes for that. But the again, I'm the one with a strong preference for straight and clear communication. Noone else seem to be. DS

Sunday, February 11, 2018

talk to me

ågot and i, february 2018

This current and unexpected situation has really made me examined myself too. What I could have done differently over these past months, to better things. And apart from repeating, SCREAMING COMMUNICATION, PLEASE even more, I'm really clueless as to what I could have done. Asked more questions, demanded clarifications on intentions? Written confirmations on everything? Nagging? Such unpleasantry, nah.

Since we are, well, were, a remote team our communication has almost solely been via Slack, Trello, Skype and phone calls. And that puts extra demands on clarity and straight talk. When you can't see people's facial expressions, body language, look them in the eyes, you have to be extra careful about other people's views and feelings, what you can and can't do. You simply have to put in some extra effort with that. For me that's pretty darn basic.

Of course you can't go through life without never ever hurting other people's feelings. Or get hurt by other people. Part of life. Still, we can do our best to be kind, caring and insightful people. And please, never ever assume other people can read your mind.

As someone wise once told me - assume is short for making an ass of you and me.

I'm also thinking that I could have reacted in different ways when my cup finally runneth over. I could have called and demanded answers as to what the f was going on - not my style, hysteria is not my cup of emotional tea. Maybe it should be? Perhaps it clears the air? But it feels so uncomfortable and unproductive to me.

Instead I wrote a Slack message when I noticed they'd already dismissed the strategy, quality, TOV for something quite different before we had talked about it. What use was talking now? This was the last straw, so many different little things here and there have lead up to this. Small things that on their own would have been insignificant, but as a pattern painted an uncomfortable picture of not being able to trust the situation, the person anymore.

There has been so much drama all through this project, I was not aware of the full scope of it when I signed on. Looking back I would probably have done it anyway, because I would not have been able to grasp just how deep down a rabbit hole this would go. Surely we could have constructive meetings and talks about how to move forward in the best way, you know, grown up style? And nb, I'm saying this in a very unpatronizing way here. Ah, maybe I did ass-u-me to much?

I can't help but thinking back on my years working as a lawyer. All the decisions I had to make for other people, trying to get them to compromise, see their opponent's point of view, being yelled at, trying to keep my calm and explain the whys. Leaving that part of my professional life behind has been one of my best decisions in life. Still very happy I took my Master of Law degree, it has helped me in so many ways, made me see things differently, made me more versatile. But working as a lawyer, never again.

Still, sometimes I apparently find myself in some weird maelstrom of unprofessionalism forcing me to channel my inner lawyer. Which is the best way to try and see other people's reasons for acting in certain ways - as the saying goes, two lawyers, five different sides to a coin. But not even that channeling can make me feel less hurt. And it won't turn me in to a mind reader, alas.

Had I not been so involved in this, and hurt by the careless bulldozing, I can objectively see solutions. Steps that would possibly rectify. But those first steps are not mine to take. And not mine to spell out. I've said so so much already on different occasions.

It has been an intense journey and I'm so incredibly tired of feeling like a pawn. The one that's expected to be available when other people find the time in their schedules, because my time is obviously not as valuable. The inconsistencies of what's being said. I just can't be the greater person here, able to look past all this. Getting hurt and then cosset someone else's ego, gosh no. And obviously I'm the only one in the (ex)team who care about all of this anyway, everything communicates and silence is communication in itself.

There's a time for pride, for taking care of oneself's needs, for forgiveness. Life is short and I try to live by "What would the future Pia thank respectively reproach me for doing or not doing?" - but you know what, in this situation I have no idea what she would say.

The weekend has hold playing my theme song "Where the Heart is" countless of times. I also have a new favourite song - Talk to me by Thomas Azier. Smittened by his voice, the mix of 1980ies emo and 1930s decadence dressed in a 21st century costume.

"Talk to me, talk to me,
tell me how you really feel.
Talk to me, talk to me,
tell me what is fake and what is real."

Life would be so much better and distinctively less complicated if people just communicated better, and didn't just bulldozed forward, wouldn't you agree?


PS Next time I need to blog about happy things, positive news or just plain silly matters. Promise. DS

Friday, February 09, 2018

the unexpected let down

blood grapefruit, 2017

Oh how quickly things can change. Unfortunately my cool cat attitude didn't even last a week until I was treated in a very unprofessional and careless way, by someone I still thought was part of The Team.

Even if things changed a lot in the beginning of January. And then the project abruptly came to a halt at the end of the month, I still thought our little team were on the same page. That we would, given the currently very special circumstances, continue to treat eachother with respect and in the loop as much as possible.

And the fact that just being who I am, the way I am, my experiences, my special USP skill set, has been of a unique fit all through this, well, surely my hard work - naturally alongside everyone else's hard work, one of the nicest thing about this project and our fine team has been that our respective strengths and weaknesses have complimented eachother oh so well - and presence will be as valued as it has seemed to be, when we get through the currently bumpier ride than ever?

Turned out I was wrong.

I've tried to keep an open mind, accepted behaviours, the lack of clear communication, for some time now, that there's more than meet the eye, personal issues, stress, we all have bad days and so forth. But my cup runneth over this past week. I can't be expected to be a mind reader, knowing what's going on behind the scenes, in someone else's mind. How they see or not see the future, if they've changed their mind, path, loyalty. And here I am, no longer a cool cat, in this aspect, I'm just a sad, hurt cat. An angry, frustrated cat.

When I began writing about this, it ended up being a very long, cronological post. However I don't think that's very interesting, for anyone but myself. But if you're interested in how the marketing project journey began this September post is a good start.

This week most of the hard work I've put in to set a consistent on brand, high quality and attention to details standard for copy, photos, TOV and strategy in communication and social channels were basically reduced to meaninglessness.

When I pointed that out, in less strong words but nevertheless clearly that enough is enough for me now, I didn't get the least bit of professional courtesy, civil explanation or something like sorry, it wasn't the intention but... You now, how it works in a decent team. Instead I was told that

a) "We can talk, that's what grown-ups do." 

- Don't, just don't, say that to the one and only person who has all along been grown-up and insisted on straight talk, better communication, regular team updates all through the project. Don't say that to the person who has worked with communication all her life. The one who knows the importance of communication, communication, communication.

b) "No need to be upset just because someone does things differently." 

- Words that spring to mind are patronising, and shudder, mansplaining even. And obviously the situation is not that simple. I'm not that childish.

To be honest I can't believe it's the same decent person that seemed to value and appreciate my work, company and input so much. Whom I had such fun with. Now simply acting like a careless bull in a china shop. In a totally unprofessional way. (Although I'm not sure a bull in a china shop can ever be professional.)

These six months have, needless to say, been very intense. We've had such incredible fun, meaningful discussions, banters on fire, cool, quirky plans, silly nicknames, shared goals and a lot of energy, been frustrated and angry together, worked and played together so well.

With our refreshing mix of differences and similarities it was an unexpected friendship I had come to value. I got the impression of a caring, kindred oddball spirit. I mean, the offer to fly over "because Pia needs the support" and we are a team, that was one of the nicest thing someone has ever done for me. But now suddenly, that is simply a not so distant memory. Trust broken.

I also want to mention that trust is created, and earned, by what you say and most of all by what you do. Not by what you think, and don't share. I thought we suffered through this project turned lopsided together, and that we had other grand plans to be realized on the other side of it all.

Everything we do communicates. And to not communicate, that is communication in itself. Patronising and mansplaining speak even louder. I seem to have lost my team, as I've come to value so much, this week. I also seem to have lost a person I appreciated and thought I would work and play with in many more projects to come. And that hurts. A lot.

Perhaps it just wasn't my time to be a cool cat. My tribe is still out there somewhere, that much I know. And I've grown, learnt, changed and become a better person through all of this. I'm forever deeply, deeply grateful for that.

I still believe what's meant to be will be. I will now continue to lick my wounds from this experience for a while. But who knows what fantastic things, opportunities and people who are out there waiting to cross paths with me?

February, can you please, pretty please, show your kind and benevolent side now?

Saturday, February 03, 2018

on being a cool cat

new glasses, january 2018

If last week went down a path of new interestingness, this past week has most certainly continued on the same trail. Such weird coincidences, slightly more synchronicity than serendipity, a lot of 55. Life right now. And the most interesting thing amidst all this I can't control, is that I'm getting pretty good at just remaining a cool cat. Not much choice other than that at this moment in time.

As may be known by now, patience isn't my greatest sport. I want things to move along, develop, be better, greater, as awesome as they can be as soon as possible. But when life doesn't want that at the same speed, we're forced to listen and adapt. And there are so many benefits to being patient, including health ones. Good things come to those who wait is more than a cliche. Cool cats listen.

The job interview went great. Plus two hours went by so quickly - and no I've never had such long first interviews. It wasn't really like any other interview I've been to, fascinating. Didn't have any obvious gut feelings pro or con afterwards, but a few days later I woke up early and had a sudden insight. And they've kept coming ever since, quite the list by now. I'm obviously not the only party or candidate involved in this process, so who knows what'll happen in the coming weeks. But whatever happens I've learnt a lot more about myself from that long interview, meeting these people, or perhaps it just confirmed what I already knew. What I want. And once again, it's enthralling really, how everything is connected. It's a small world.

To be honest, I do believe last year's grief recovery process unleashed something within me, not only allowed me to let go of certain particular painful parts of the sorrow, but also opened my mind in a way I have only touched on before. I'm not sure how to write about this without possibly sounding a bit doolally. But I'm not. Not in that sense anyway. But these past six months I've had the strangest feelings of premonitions, there's just no other way to describe them. Very tangible things, situations coming true. So much more than your usual gut feeling. Very grateful they've only revolved around positive matters or at least situations and disappointments through which I, and others, have gained valuable insights. Touch wood I might add.

On a lighter note, I'm quite pleased with my new glasses. They are indeed green horn-rims, and the style is not something I'd usually go for, but being basically blind as a bat when I try on new frames I thought they looked decent and pretty cool - remember my dad had something similar when I was little and a bit funky 60ies style is never wrong. And I firmly believe you should try something different whenever you have to get new glasses.

I'm glad I liked them when I picked them up and was able to actually see through the glass. I decided to get a second pair this past week, you always get a second pair for half the price at my optician of choice (for 8 years now). Pink, but not any of the two pink I chose from the other month.

A pretty cool side effect with these glasses is that you apparently get an immediate vampire look. No, my eyes aren't quite as shiny green no, I wish. But the iPhone PS app (one of my favourite photo editing tools) is revamped (oh the pun) into something quite fun to play with, try it if you haven't. Plus it makes those gray hairs look less unbearable, even if I'm getting better every day at not caring... I've been called Snow Queen from this photo a few times by very different people, which made me laugh, it's quite ominous. But I do promise I have no poisonous apple or other vengeful things up my winter sleeve. And I'd much rather be a Cool Cat.

A cool cat who managed to snap one of those much coveted ticket to the annual March 8 Women In Tech day conference in Stockholm. Have always missed out, but this year, after a pretty nerve wrecking 5 minutes with server crash I got one. The 1500 tickets were gone in 2 minutes, so needless to say I'm pretty chuffed I was one of the lucky ones...

Another fun thing that happened during the week was that I found myself stepping into my favourite shoe shop on my way home (ages since I bought shoes, believe it or not), it was a sale and I wasn't going to buy anything, oh no. Then I saw that one of my favourite ART models, one of the pairs that were ruined by the leaky roof in October, were on sale in my size. So what is a gal to do? While trying them on I chatted with another customer about how awesome the brand is, she was so inspired that she got the same shoes. And then we decided to meet up in May in our same shoes and have ice cream. Love little chance meetings like that, who knows what might come from them? In this case, vegan ice cream for sure.

Also, if you haven't already seen this clip from the Ellen show - I can't believe she's 60! Vegan diet, kindness, love, humour and dancing are the not so secret ingredients to that I'm sure - when she got her beautiful birthday gift from her wife, you must. Keep tissues close at hand though, you'll bawl your eyes out.

And what touched me most was the quote "To be loved is good, to be understood is profound." - and that is so true. To be understood, truly, that must be the base on which love is built. Simple and challenging at the same time. As life in general.

What will happen next week? If this first week of February is anything to go by, add to that my expectations of great things of course, it will continue to offer bemusement, delight and surprise. Which are things cool cats naturally appreciate.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

we are

unicorn and friends, january 2018

You know when your professional life has turned into a reality show full of drama, secrets and lies, truths and semi-truths, misinformation, misunderstandings and unexpected let downs? No? Well, me neither until this past week when it seems to have gone down a new path of... interestingness.

The truth is out there. As we are. And most likely it's, as usual, hidden somewhere between the different stories I've been told. I'm still an outsider looking in, and to be honest I think that's for the best. One of the reasons I started my own business was to not have to deal with workplace dramas. Yet, it has been full of it these past months. And I find it a bit sticky and quite uncomfortable.

We all come from different paths of experiences, and I do try my best, from my experience, to not judge people for how they now and then behave - apart from when animal cruelty and other violence is involved, then naturally I'm both judge and jury all the way - even when I initially feel very hurt by it. There's probably more than meets the eye.

Still, an unexpected let down by a team member isn't a nice thing at all. Whether the reason was stress or otherwise, the trust has been seriously chipped. But when someone goes low, I try to rise above it. Not an easy thing always, especially not when you feel like a pawn, a hostage in a situation out of your control. But I find that the best thing is to not blurt out any harsh words immediately, words that can't be taken back. Write by all means, but sleep on it. And mull it over back and forth.

What I've also learnt from all of this, this week in particular, is that I possibly need to chill a bit. In the most intellectual zen sense of the word. It's interesting how every setback, every drama turns into another important life lesson, it's never the hassle free rides and successes that make you into a better, wiser person.

When younger I was much more inclined to see things as either black or white, not in all shades of grey that most things are painted in. That has changed with age, and a certain portion of wisdom acquired. But I'm also aware that I'm not really interested in being involved in basically other people's drama, not having all the information needed to base my own opinion, but desperately trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together from the odd word here and there. Being an unwilling mind reader is also one of my new skills apparently.

As I can't be relying on other people to get to the point where they sort the/ir mess out, neither from an emotional, professional nor financial point of view, I've put other professional wheels in motion. It's never good to put all your vegan eggs in one basket. So on Monday I'm going to a job interview. Yes an actual job interview. It's part time, but still, a job. A new position as communicator in a company with a very high sustainability profile, where my background as a lawyer is perfect. Sounds great on paper. I do hope it will be irl too. Fingers crossed we click.

I've also shamelessly offered my services to another company/organisation that I've only recently come to be completely smittened, impressed and inspired by. Such an amazing why story. Everything we do set things in motion, it may not be exactly the things we expect, but nevertheless I believe it's important to be active and open, never settle or just wait for others to get their things together. Maybe they do, maybe things will work out alright, but wait only, never.

Add to that the distinct feeling of being an odd figurehead and pawn with no information and influence, not to mention not really getting credit for all the work done. And here we are. Who knows what will happen next, what's meant to be will be. And that's the amazing as well as annoying thing with life, you can plan as much as you want, you can't control everything anyway. Life happens as life is meant to. However ungraspable and meaningless it seems at times.

As for music I'm still in love with Haevn, looking forward to their first album to be released in March, and Where the Heart is is now very much my new theme song. Both wistful, soothing and empowering. Listening to it I know everything will be alright.

I've also had a lot of enjoyment from the TV-series Younger, currently streaming on TV here. Smart, funny and relatable.

So conclusions from the week that was -

- A reminder that things are rarely black and white. More greys, pinks and sometimes there are even unicorns.
- One might think that men are more straight forward and problem solving, than they in fact are. It's probably good to get those reminders that gender stereotyping isn't very nice. But I have to say, it would have indeed been very nice to have seen a lot more straight talking and problem solving these past few months, from those who (ought to have been) in control of situation.
- I need to curb both my enthusiasm and disappointment a dash. But all the emotions from highs to lows are the prize you pay AND reward you get for having a passionate nature.
- The best way to not dwell too much on disappointments and nuisances out of your control is to keep busy with things that are within your control.
- When you have impromptu fika it can end in seeing something truly magical - an Eurasian Eagle Owl perched on a high building in the middle of Stockholm. None of us had the big gals' cameras with us, and when it comes to that kind of photography an iPhone is just a poor poor substitute. But trust me, it was an amazingly, heartwarming experience shared with a few die hard bird watchers with supersized cameras and binoculars on a backstreet a chilly January Friday. Such a perfect and beautiful way to end the week of both highs and lows.

Welcome February,
you know I expect greatness from you,
please do your best. And I'll do my mine.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

the meaning of 55

the meaning of 55, july 27, 2017

The major thing I've learnt this past week is that I am not willing to dance to the tune of clients that don't respect me, my skills, my time and only show appreciation when someone, I'd imagine, remind them they should. Too little, too late. To be honest my initial ship of great interest and passion sailed a couple of months ago.

What has driven me since has merely been the fact that I'm adamant to learn as much as possible and doing a great job. And not let anyone down, if I can help it. Now I'm just doing what I signed up for, being professional enough to hand over my part of the project in a fine shape for whomever will take over once my time in it reaches the end. Which will be by the end of February, can't wait. I'm just eager to start something new and exciting, whatever that may be.

Which is something I wish I didn't have to say, because project in question had every sign of being brilliant. And in this case my particular skill set is like a match made in colourful heaven for the job. Which isn't always the case, most of the time you may be a grand asset, but you can also be replaced with no great fuss. I'm curious how they'll sort this out, but I've also, finally, reached the detached phase and it isn't my problem anymore. I've done my part, and I have been angry, frustrated and sad half of the time.

Learnt loads, met fascinating people, had great fun, but at the end of the day, being appreciated, valued, respected and reasonably (not under-) paid are such important aspects too. And those aspects have not been met. Too late for that now. Moving on. Grateful for another important life lesson in the luggage. I would not have wanted to been without it. Because of the good good people also involved, the laughters, the sharing, the team and everything I've accomplished by challenging myself. But enough now.

The teamwork, when it was smooth operating, has been the thing I've treasured most and will miss dearly. But I do hope we'll work together with other projects in the future, with clients that appreciate hard work and know how to communicate.

It may not be a case of serfdom but close enough.

As a self-supporting, independent human being I obviously need to look after myself first and foremost, leaky roof or not. We all have to pay bills and put food on the table, run our own businesses without getting caught up in internal strifes that are not ours to deal with. Etc and so forth. Being happy and proud of our accomplishments, feeling appreciated. Communication, presence, authenticity. You know, the very basic needs in life.

I'm not sure what will happen from now on, professionally, yet. But I do know exactly what I want, which feels a bit a matter of fact strange actually. I won't divulge it in blog, I've only told a few trusted people including talking out loud to myself and the Universe. Yes, for some reason, things do become clearer and easier to sort out when you say things out loud, even when the (obvious) only one that hears it is yourself. I think I grasped how cathartic, inspiring, and emotional even, that is through the grief recovery process. And the Universe is listening, in some way or other. Things and people happen for a reason.

Which brings me to the meaning of 55.

You may remember I've attended a few seances the past 1,5 years. Of which two have been really very touching, the one in January last year quite mindblowing really. And again, completely anonymous and I'm not gullable. One of the written messages I got was the number 55. A number that has never had any special meaning to me, at that time, no year of birth, no age, no lucky number. There are still some messages that I have no idea what they mean, yet. And I may never know. But most of them have been revealed in some really surprising and unexpected ways during this past year. They have helped me to trust the process in a new way. Just when I needed it.

On July 27 2017 I had a brief text message discussion with a friend about the meaning of messages in general and numbers in particular. I was waiting in line at a cafe at the time and when it was my time to order I got number 55. (I remember the date because I took the picture above as a proof.) Which then obviously made me giggle a bit, nothing more.

But ever since it has been rather crazy, the amount of times the number 55 appears out of the blue. And it has intensified the last month, to an extent I now find to be somewhat disturbing. Walking down the street, suddenly I stand in front of doorway 55. How many things cost 55 SEK? In my life a lot of things apparently. How often do you look at the iPhone clock and it's 1.55, 2.55, 3.55, 5.55 ad infinitum? Obviously all the time.

How often do you wake up in the middle of the night, wondering what's the time and it's always .55 something? How often do you stand at traffic lights and the bus number 55 drives past? How many books and magazines do you open and it's at page 55? 55 view, 55 likes, 55 clicks, que tickets number 55, 55%. If I wasn't a reasonably sane and grounded person - but still open to the fact that there's so much more to life that meets the eye, dimensions our mostly limited and not fully used brains can grasp - I would probably feel somewhat haunted.

But, coincidences, life's little messages to say we are not alone. That I find to be a comforting notion.

And now I'm ready, more than ready, for the next phase in my life to begin. It's intriguing, exciting and a mystery waiting to be revealed. Bring it on, 2018. Where the Heart is.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

where are we a year from now

stockholm, sweden, january 2018 -

At the end of whirlwind busy week I find that I'm not the least bit wiser in some parts of my life and very much wiser in others. Every week some new insight, welcome or unwelcome, but all useful and part of the journey of growth called life.

As a friend simply put it, just go with the flow for while now, however difficult as it may be. So, hello flow.

I've never been the one to force things in life in general, but in hindsight I probably should have on some important occasions. When things really haven't worked anylonger I should have forced a decision. The gut said so, but I was a convenient coward. I have forgiven myself for that, because there's no way back only forward, though I would lie if I said a glimmer of that thought doesn't make me sad now and then.

But then there are situations, like meringue or otherwise, where forcing is simply not on the table in anyway. Where the process is pretty much completely out of your hands. The (in)famous trust the process. But what I've come to realise lately, which I've curiously not have grasped until now, at least not the extent of it, is how much of a control freak I am in parts of life. Not in every part, thank goodness, that would be awful, so much anxiety. But still, more than I have ever admitted before. To be honest I think it has been growing ever since that day. The need to control.

Simply because when you suddenly find yourself to be 100% in charge and responsible for every little bit of your life, down to every penny, every cost, every grain of kitty litter, every crazy leaking roof business, carrying every organic carrot you put on the table home yourself, well, then you're forced to be on top of things as best you can.

No one else can help you with the decision making, from big to small. Sometimes that is, to be frank, a pretty sh-tty feeling, sometimes it's empowering. Yes, this ongoing process of rediscovering and reinventing myself is pretty hard, exhausting work.

Admit to having a little professional melt down at the end of the week. The last straw of lack of communication within what I used to call the Dream Team - yes, the jury of one is still out on whether to keep the denomination or not, the honeymoon months are over and I'm not at all sure what lies in the future or even in the now. It hurts to be marginalised. Jeez, whatever where they thinking. And let me tell you, I was this close to saying sayonara, guys, enough now.

I think I got my enraged and disappointed point through, as much as you can on Slack. Apologies accepted. And as nice as it may be that someone says "was trying to protect our best asset", action speaks louder than words. If I am to continue to be part of the team I also need to get first hand information, not just being misguidedly pampered with selected information, out of the loop. Because not having first hand information means you're left to your own devices of an overthinking and imaginative brain.

Not my idea of decent teamwork. Regular updates, first hand information, essential and basic things to keep me onboard and interested. And how darn hard can it be? I haven't had any problems doing that myself all through this project. I do expect the same fundamental decency from everyone else involved, when a team, when (seemingly) working towards the same goal. Simple really. At least in my world.

And the much needed talk? Well, I am not less confused than I was before. That so much talking can give you a distinct feeling of "so weiter ferne, so nah" is confounding. Really good in parts, but also the lack of "real", that illusive feeling, encompassed the experience for me.

Which also brought a much needed look at myself, my actions, non-actions, my wants, needs, the wall I sit upon alternately hide behind, I wish I could shout a bit more from it instead. Or let it fall. I hope I will get there some day. It is after all the year of living and acting more bravely.

In answer to the surprising question I got (that I admittedly waffled away, so much for real), which lent itself to the name of this post - but I have not set my more specific personal and professional goals for 2018 yet - I would summarize what I want for this year like this - love, passion, laughter, realness, personal growth, inspiring new clients and jobs, having made and continue making the world a better place with likeminded good people and financial stability. If I say it, they will come. Not too much to strive for, right? Right.

stockholm, sweden, january 2018 -

Friday, January 05, 2018

finding out more

vegan food at home, dec - jan 2017/18 -

I do believe I have entered a brand new year a little bit braver than I left 2017. I've dared a dash, I've said yes, I've said no, questioned status quo and embraced possibilities. Only a week in. Which doesn't mean I've stopped overthinking things, as my usual self naturally does.

Then suddenly the upcoming week also holds a very tangible situation to talk things through, finding out more, figuring the complex meringue status out. And as much as I do look forward to it, there is so much I want to know, I'm admittedly more emotionally afraid than I've been in a long time. For that I blame this intense past plus year, which has amongst all its lessons taught me I can not be in control of everything, not even my own reactions to every situation, every feeling.

But though I wouldn't call myself a controlfreak, nope not no nah, I don't relish the notion of losing my calm, my control - I've come so far, can I afford to loose myself? Or perhaps the most important questions is, can I afford not to?

Shall I simply trust that life has a much better way to sort things out the way they should be than my fearful soul could ever do by itself? I'm still redefining myself I suppose, and what my gut feeling knows I want and need, it scares my overthinking brain. My little, brave analyzing bestie, who I am so grateful for, but who sometimes need to simply let go but desperately refuses to. Old habits.

Needless to say I'm really looking forward to my oxytocin galore caturday. There are rumours of sun,  there will be cooking, eating, sleeping, music, cat cuddles and if weather permits, walking. And hopefully the overactive brain has decided to take a weekend break.

new glasses, january 2018

The week before the much needed upcoming caturday was spent with an optician visit, where I was told my vision had only had a slight change but that I showed signs of age related sight change. Hrmf, I beg to differ, I thought we had agreed that age is just a silly number? I did order a pair of new glasses (which are not the pink ones in the photo, believe it or not), but I was pretty miffed about that age related statement so even if my usual thing is to order two pairs I didn't. I can always change my mind within a month.

food stockholm, january 2018 -

I've had an ipromptu fika with my childhood friend, which was extra lovely since we hadn't seen eachother for many months. I rarely do impromptu things like this, I'm such a planner. It's good to know I'm able to change little behaviours like that, all is not lost. Despite what the optician said.

new bff, alice, chihuahua <3, january 2018

I've spent time with a new fluffy BFF named Alice. Not my dog, not likely to be, but such a wee darling. Spending time with animals are always good for the soul. And mindfulness naturally rules.

I've worked, put my foot down, written, talked, cooked and done an interview about a fantastic sustainability project in Stockholm, that will be turned into an article (in Swedish). The Plantagon has such an interesting background, from vision, to founders, to organisation, to innovative solutions and technology. Sometimes people can be brilliant. And actually see that we are all connected. Which is heartwarming, in a rather overall bleak, disconnected world void of compassion.

Now, how about some music to get into a good weekend mood?

This week I've diversified a bit from my Haevn crush - but I do recommend Lovelorn (another piece with a mean guitar riff) and this wisfully beautiful We are

- since I adored the Kygo version of Take on me which made me so happy, I've discovered more remix favourites. Which basically are much better than the originals, as far as my ears are concerned. My four favorites are -

Let her go - Passenger remix, I don't like the original version at all, grown ups singing with baby voices does not rock my boat, just gives me the creeps.

I see fire - Ed Sheeran remix, admittedly a bit embarrassing I hadn't heard this before. But then again I really don't like the Lord of the rings movies. Loved the books, the movies are just overrated. And therefore I hadn't really paid attention to the music. Until now obviously. Adore this version!

I see you - Billy Raffoul, now that is on the other hand a great voice!

Seinabo Sey's original version is beautiful in itself, but this one fits my current mood better.

And now, welcome dear weekend, I need you. Let me relax a weary, overthinking mind and prepare to roll into a great week with invigorated steps, enliven thoughts and an open mind.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

communication, communication, communication

kränku tea calendar, december 2017

Communication. Presence. Authenticity. Three keywords essential to any relationship, be it work, friendship, love.

Something I've come to realise even more during this year, and things I've missed so many times before in life without realising and being able to put my finger on the feeling.

You know, the scary stuff, the awkward questions people hesitate to ask, the answers they are afraid of. I've decided I'm going to enter 2018 less afraid of things, I'm going to dare more. And not apologize for how I feel. Or act. Not that I'm timourous as such now of course, but sometimes I get the whiff of that useless impostor syndrome or I just feel 'it's not my place to put my foot down and demand at this time' - realising later down the line that's just what I should have done.

And as I wrote in the pre-Christmas post, I had a serious lack of trust in The Project and would spend the weekend with a good think about how to proceed, in order to be true to myself, hopefully without letting anyone down. And so I did. Neither sleeping, reading or laughing but thinking. A lot.

On Boxing day everything poured out of me on three pages. Of which a tiny portion was this passage - "Applaud that you’re able to detach yourselves from the mess ---- . I’m however not as lucky, partly because that’s my personality (I engage strongly, I need things to be professional, less mollycoddling, more straight talk and visible progress)... That’s one reason why I need change to feel this project is still meaningful."

I should have spoken more clearly earlier on, or perhaps I thought I did. Maybe I shouted "wolf" so repeatedly that noone listened anymore. I'm still not sure about the understanding of everything I mentioned actually. It was A LOT of text to swallow and concider (current situation, issues, my personal viewpoints, solutions/suggestions). Which I personally think is important to avoid misunderstandings as much as possible, short and sweet has its times, long explanations have theirs. Clear communication, communication, communication. I'm not interested in playing guessing games, in neither parts of my life. Or being the one constantly pointing out real problems, with no mandate to fixing them myself. I don't want to be Ms Grump-a-much.

But I know changes are underway now. Changes which will most likely hold less talk, more action. Well overdue but a pretty darn good way to kick start a shiny new year.

Let's leave this situation for now. And talk a bit about a new client I'll start working with in January - where there has also been a bit of communication issues, but nothing nearly as grave as the passion project above, more of the oddly entertaining kind - who said when I mentioned my hourly fee "which also depends on the length and width of project" that "let's not argue this, it's important that you're content and motivated, let's start and see how we work together and take things from there". And I can safely say that's just the matter of fact, healthy approach I do wish more work related situations could be dealt with.

Needless to say I'm very motivated. Not only from a financial aspect of course, it's a very interesting client and it'll be great fun to learn more about their business, the objective, the people and helping them with their social media presence. And the first new client on a new year is always special, setting the tone of the rest of the year one might say.

I've also put in a lot of hours in the coaching project already. In fact I might have accidently found a job, not a traineeship, for one of my participants (a clever hardware development engineer) already. Fingers crossed for her interview in a week. And it warms the heart when someone says "Thank you Pia, you are jette snääääälllll" (werry kiiiiinddddd). The warm and fuzzy feeling.

the catwoman dog whisperer, december 2017

Which was also the feeling I got when I did a stand in as dog sitter last night. I'm adding "Catwoman with serious dog whisperer skills" to my CV. My heart is melting by all that cute overload. Yes, the felines are darling but I miss having a special dog too.

where the heart is, haevn, december 2017

As I've written a fair amount about music that makes my heart sing lately, I'll end this post by doing so again. Yes, I'm absolutely smittened by Dutch band Haevn - "Where the Heart Is" still being the ultimate favourite of course - have listened to them all weekend on repeat, on Spotify, on the computer, on the iPhone, on YouTube and best of all on TV. I mean, whatever did we do before Apple TV and wide screen TVs - its like having a decent concert experience in your own living room without having to deal with people and their noise. Pause and get another cup of tea. Repeat. Pure brilliance.

As you can see the cats are mesmerized by the tunes too. (Of course it has nothing to do with the birds flying over the screen in the video.)

I adore this cover of "Fastlane" too, the voice, the energy, the music, the fun they seem to have and not least that fabulous guitar riff (that makes me seriously thinking about picking up my guitar again all these years later). Overall they're not only wonderful on original tunes, but also on various covers like Adele's "Hello" (which happens to have meant a lot to me this past year, brought me to many tears).

And please listen to this version of A-ha's "Take on me" with Kygo. It makes me happy. Loved the song in my teens - and haven't we all had a crush on Morten? - it has aged well. And so have the band members. Yet another proof that age is just a silly number. And a mindset. 

Which happens to be another thing I'm taking with me into the new year, agelessness and a firm belief it's much more important to live, laugh and love life than worry about a silly number that's basically only visible on your identity card and (fugly) passport. It doesn't say a thing about who you really are. In fact I think I'm gonna cancel birthdays from here on.

Happy New 2018 - 
may it bring an abundance of 
prosperity, love, laughter and kindness.
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