Sunday, September 24, 2017

you are unlimited

Ever since I began gulping down tea pot after tea pot like there was no tomorrow back in high school, accompanied by philosophical discussions about life - 

because that's what the Humaniora students did. Well, at least us who actually thought a lot did, which to be honest, looking back, the majority of my class mates probably didn't. I loved high school, I just  didn't have much in common with most of my class mates though. But then again I've never been interested in having a gazillion superficial friends when I can have a few close and important ones. And that I had, hence the philosophical discussions over lots of tea

I've known that in tea is wisdom.

It's even better when that fact is proven by the tea's equivalent to fortune cookies - Yogi tea quotes.

These above and below ones I got recently and they both struck a special cord for me. Because you see, I've been spending the majority of these past few weeks working hard on a special work project - yes it has finally begun! -, which has left me in different measures exhilarated, stressed, amazed, confused and dash annoyed. I guess this is what agile teamwork is, which is great in a way - especially when our different skills seemingly blend together so very well, that's the amazed part, because I don't know these people and they don't know me yet and still, smooth working... - but I also think there's a need for more structure.

Things like, can we please schedule the online meetings and the most important update phone calls a few days ahead. And since I'm obviously the last one onboard I don't have the full story of the project and its background, beginning to grasp it obviously after these intense weeks, but still, the lawyer and (semi)control freak would have liked to be a *bit* more in the loop before I got started.

On the other important hand though, and here's the exhilarating part, I've learnt so much during these weeks only. Thrown headfirst into a project with no clear roles or really specific tasks as such I've done so much more than I thought I signed up for or was suppose to do. Simply because a) it's such a worthy cause (brand), b) I always approach things as a great opportunity to learn new things (and practice old ones) even if there might be initial kinks and c) when there seemingly aren't any specific roles I might as well do the most of it, enjoy the headfirst situation and get to work. 

Because you know what, the upside of slightly hazy areas of responsibilities is that noone can really object to who's getting things done, as long as it's within the brief and with the mutual goal in mind. This part we're working on now is only a first step of many in a long project. It will hopefully get a sign off this week so we can move on to the next. 

Going above and beyond what I intitially thought would be my role, well it has been fun, really fun. Somewhere down the line it will pay off in different ways, opportunities, karma etc. And when I was feeling stressed and confused a few days in the project I got this tea quote telling me I'm unlimited and yes, yes of course I am! And since I am a Jill of many trades, why not expand on that?

For me this experience so far has also been a real tangible test on that thing I have such difficulties doing, the one thing I've been blog talking about for years now, but also the one thing that has been coming much easier for me to do ever since the grief recovery process. To trust the process. To breath, relax and let my inner (semi) control freak have an extended holiday on some tropical island far far away.

And even if I'm well-used in working with overseas clients and remote work we've basically worked via emails and Skype. This time there have been other project management tools as well as more phone calls in 2 weeks than I've probably had in the last 2 years - you know, I the odd phoney... And since our little team are situated in Finland, Sweden and England respectively we communicate it some delightful blend of Swedish and English. Which has actually added to the fun.

The curious thing is that when I began writing this post I thought I was going to write about how much more we needed structure, specific areas of responsabilities, what do we expect from eachother, to be able to perform better, avoid misunderstandings and unnecessary stress. I still partly think that would help, but at the same time it has been a fascinating and unusual ride of trust. And a more positive experience and full of learning in a reasonably short amount of time than I ever thought it would be. Looking forward to whatever will be next.

And then the first few weeks in September there was a sudden, unexpected influx of various new job/clients opportunites. Even if I well know by now that over 50% of them always fall through in general, for various reasons, I got a bit flustered. Because what if many of them would lead to something more substantial than just a thought and initial meeting, and that they paid enough and/or were interesting enough, which would I have to chose to decline? And could I really afford to not say yes (both from a financially and the FearOfMissingOut point of view)? 

Or should I just see the next 6 months as a gritty working period, adding to my portolio of experiences and building financial stability? And the silver lining is of course, for a free spirit like me, that I mostly work from home - proud place of awesome pink office - and can usually set my own work schedule just as long as I meet the deadlines.

But as a part of my new trust the process stand that has so far worked out for the best, things partly fell through as usual, partly will begin shortly and more later this autumn. Things happen when they are meant to. Life is much better enjoyed when you bear that in mind. Which, again, is not the same as just sit back relax and wait for things to happen. Be active in a way that your comfortable with, and step out of your comfort zone regularly, and take responsability for the energy you put out into the world - which will be the topic of my next post, the wise words doesn't come from me, but more of that next time.

Not only over these past few weeks, but over these past few months I've been grateful for so many things, for so many experiences, for so many people that have suddenly come into my life and changed me and my path forever. And when I feel flustered, disappointed, even deflated at times, I always remember all those things I'm grateful for. What has truly been the worst 1,5 years of my life has also been one of the most evolving and yes magical even, 1,5 years of my life. Especially these past six months. Which brings me to this second quote I got a few days after the above one.

Grateful. Always.

Friday, September 08, 2017

happy 12th blogoversary

The Blog, this blog, turns 12 today. 

After a both emotionally and physically exhausting week, mostly in a good way but not only, I alas don't feel very witty or capable of writing something profound about the blog journey of 12 years.

But I will say as much as it has been a true haven during both ups and downs in my life. Not least in my most challenging, heartbreaking as well developing, insightful and healing last one and a half year of growth.

When I look back on my post from the first few years I admittedly sometimes shudder of embarrassment, the way I wrote then and in parts how I looked at the world, the topics I chose, it was a very different me. That said I let them be were they are, available to be read, a testament of 12 years of development and finding my voice, both as a human being and in writing style. 

My blogoversary was spent with a lovely LinkedIn-lunch, a possible new client getting in touch, an unexpected meet cute of the doggie kind and not least a cup of tea and a perfect cinnamon bun contemplating 12 years of blogging. Who knew this would be where I'd find myself after a decade plus?

And of course, thank you, dear readers, who keep coming back for more, and sometimes leave those kind and heartfelt comments. I treasure them all.

Happy 12th Blogoversary to me, may it feel meaningful for many more years to come!

Sunday, September 03, 2017

the b project

First, let's have a cup of coffee. Or contemplate having a cup of coffee. Or in this case muse over a picture of a cup of coffee. Specifically the above picture of a cup of excellent oat latte that looks like it has been one third drunk.

Which it hasn't. Not the littlest sip has been taken from it yet. The one third gone was partly spilled when I tried to put the cup down on the table at the same time as my backpack slid down my shoulder. The rest of it spilled right before this picture.

Because what isn't visible - but would have made an excellent cautionary video - is that the outdoor seating at this cafe is partly pretty unsafe. My chair fell backwards from the elevated veranda when I prepared to take the picture, and I managed to grab on to the table in a very awkward position while flashing an uncomfortable amount of my underwear to the good people of Stockholm. I was hanging on there for some very long seconds before I decided that we. would. not. fall. down on street level the chair and I.

Had this happened some years ago I would probably have been so embarassed I would have avoided the cafe for years. Now I'm just glad I survived. And was a source of a hearty laugh. Which certainly is one of the perks of growing older and wiser, embarassing things just aren't that embarassing anymore. Grey hair still is a nuisance though.

Someone called this a Bridget Jones-moment, which I think perfectly illustrates it. I'm still waiting for my Mark Darcy to appear though.

Once again, this wasn't really what I was going to write about, but the arm in the picture with a delightful bracelet belongs to the B-project partner. B as in B personality, specifically the bit that focus on us not being morning people but often night owls. And the introvert/ambivert traits. 

We've talked about creating something really lovely with this, having mulled over the perfect name for the project and suddenly it just came to me the other day. Eureka! In fact it's such a brilliant name for us who are really nerdy about word plays that I would like to shout it from the roof tops, but I won't even mention it in blog because the project is still in early planning stage. Let's just say I'm a bit giddy over it. It's not a big project per se, but I think it will be a lovely, social and fun project. For B people.

I'm currently giddy over quite a few things really. Several great job opportunities/clients (new and old). Like the great meeting I had a month ago, things finally began to happen this past week, but it's still pretty unstructured so I'm looking forward to straightening out question marks and start working, creating a bit of magic, getting to know people and learning new things. It will be great to have natural sounding boards while still being trusted to do my thing. Can it actually be that I have found my tribe? Time will tell.

This weekend I'm preparing a proposal for a very neat and unexpected communication project - thank you again, LinkedIn! - which I had a very nice meeting about last week. Fingers crossed.

It also looks like I'm going to continue with the career coaching part time this autumn too, but this time as a consultant not subconsultant which will mean a more reasonable payment. Plus I have so many new contacts and leads from this spring that a lot of ground work is already done, by myself. Since it was a job that gave me so many warm and fuzzy feelings and fueled my soul it felt like it was too soon to let it go, I'm grateful if we're able to work the details out in a mutual beneficial way.

And in October one of my old clients from 2015 probably will return in a new shape, that will be fun. It's all about cats, dogs, wildlife projects and nature, so right up my alley that too.

I'm really looking forward to doing a work schedule for my autumn.

When things keep slowly falling in place like this, with different pieces in the work puzzle coming together, I can't help but remembering a question someone asked me earlier this year when I sent out an SOS for a part time job - "Do you really want that part time job or would you be happier with having your schedule as full of clients as you want instead?"

It isn't a question with an obvious answer. 

I do miss working with likeminded others with a shared vision and common goals, but that doesn't mean I have to or even want to work with them side by side part day in part day out. Just a touch down and a chat now and then would be perfect.

I love having overseas clients but I wouldn't want my work schedule filled with them because that would basically be like working in an office just doing it from home. With no offline touchdown ever.

The brain exercise and constant creativity flow that comes from having a varied set of clients and assignments, meeting different people on a regular basis, owning my days and never having to feel confined by the restrictions of a physical workplace, that is simply gold worth in my world. (That it will be worth its financial stability weight in gold is obviously also the ultimate goal.) 

And I'm honestly not sure that would be possible to have as an employee. That you feel the job is as challenging, exciting and evolving in the long run as running your own business. Free spirit me talking. Ambivert me.

Then again, if something truly irresistable would turn up, who knows? 

For now, I'm just really stoked about my work autumn. And grateful for this past summer of completions and new beginnings - which I do hope will turn into a glorious Indian summer of course. Not at all ready to say bye to summer dresses, bare legs and sandals just yet. Or outdoor coffees.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

excuse me, may i adopt you?

This will be a post of very, very random reflections.

In April I posted a photo on Instagram of my mother and I under the cherry blossom trees. And for some reason that prompted the comment "You two should start a YouTube channel!" - I found it hilarious. We would certainly fill a gap. But none of us are the least bit keen on being in front of the camera (unless it's under cherry blossoms obviously) and even less in front of a video camera/phone. 

It would have to be in Swedish. And what would we talk about? Food? Wind forward a few months, I've done the grief recovery process which obviously has opened up a veritable flood of emotions and I've spent a good portion of the summer of reflection talking the ears of said mother about relationships, life, love and human behaviour. And every time, just before her ears might have been ready to fall off, she replied with a simple, thoughtprovoking comment that (almost) shut me up.

And that made me think it would actually be pretty neat making a podcast instead. It's a really tiny seed of a thought still. And the emotional flooding has been a part of my grief recovery process and redefining myself, it's very likely it's a stage that has passed. Not sure if it's material enough for it anymore. Although I suppose when it comes to human behaviour and relationships there's always new material to dig from. 

It's just that I think that this summer of so many reflections have been so so full of insights and it would have been nice to make something more... substantial of it. Just a thought.

Maybe we could even discuss the weirdness of internet dating - which will never ever happen for me, I've kept my carefully crafted profile at the first site, but it's just a weird, creepy, uncomfortable and desperate world. I would never ever be comfortable giving my phone number or last name to anyone I'd met on a dating site. Which really says it all. And if you can't even spell your name or your job title right (!) do not bother to flirt me, mister. It obviously makes for good, little stories to giggle and sigh over, but really it's like a parallell, artificial universe. At least I can now say I gave it two months, but I know it's just too creepy and unnatural for me and soon is the time to just delete my profile - how to combat Weltschmerz, or how many cats you can employ before you're considered a crazy cat lady? I'm a great listener, but I'm pretty good at talking too.

Talk about talking. Even if I've always talked a lot with the cats it was only until I went to Schwarzwald last October and spent my solo week there I realised how inclined I was to make small talk with myself even in public. Embarrassing, I know. And how chatty I've become with shop clerks, something which I've always found a rather annoying trait. 

I had pre-booked a taxi when I landed at the airport late on Saturday night and I saw myself chilling in the backseat with the iPhone. But instead I was so grateful to finally have someone but myself to speak Swedish with again, starved even, that it was completely natural to sit in the front passenger seat and chat constantly for 45 minutes with a taxi driver I'd never met. It was surreal.

Something else that feels surreal right now is that suddenly a lot of things seem to happen on the job/new clients front. When it rains it pours. Nothing is signed as such. But several things feel very promising. And exciting. Old and new. I suppose if it's anything to the law of attraction notion this is certainly the time for it, with me being where I am in life. With emotional burdens I didn't even realised I carried to that extent having been lifted.

A friend I hadn't met for many months said I ooze a special kind of calmness now. And that my current charisma is fantastic. How about that for a fabulous compliment? I can't stop marvel about the fact that I feel more grounded, calm, comfortable and yes, happy than I have been for many years. It's a strange and exhilarating feeling. And very welcome. Very welcome indeed. And what I feel on the inside might show on the outside. To be in The Zone is a great thing. I've seen the light. In a very atheist way of course.

Another strange feeling I had recently, very unlike me, who basically never had the urge to adopt anything else than small, furry animals. But I met such a delightful, grown-up person that was so cute I got the strangest idea it would be perfect to adopt said person and possibly carry around as a feelgood, good luck charm. I can't remember I've ever had such an urge before. Maybe this is an in The Zone side effect? 

Be as that may, paws up for groundedness and bubbly feelings.

Friday, August 25, 2017

homage to the wind and the heart

wind turbines <3 on the road to berlin, germany, june 2015

Whilst the original grief recovery process ended last week, we've decided to work with another unfinished relationship to get into a different mindshift, which will be so useful in life from here on. Admittedly I struggled to find one important enough to process, the only one which I apparently isn't as over as I thought - given my reaction to something on my Instagram feed some weeks ago - is my crushed professional long lasting dream of innocent.

But even if one can grief process that as such it felt a bit awkward and silly - though I have promised myself to never ever feel so passionate about a brand again that I allow it to actually crush my heart a bit - so I settled for a friendship that ended abruptly some years ago. In a hurtful, unexpected way but still not something I really dwell over since people are weird sometimes. And why they say and act in certain ways has nothing to do with you, but them and their experiences.

I think we all felt much much calmer today after saying farewell to so much pain last week. It was much more a matter of fact to read and share today. We were all grounded and empowered.

And for some reason - not only because it was a distinct autumny feeling in the air alas - I decided to wear this organic cotton sweater I got some years ago which never really has felt appropriate to wear - and not only because it's beige, analyze that if you will... - with a quote that resonated so much in me when I saw it back then. And still does.

The heart is a compass. And so is the gut feeling. (Also, today was a great hair day, despite the dreaded greys...)

It was so lovely to hear how much we could relate to eachother today, the way we look at relationships and the importance of communication. Again, I'm so very grateful to have met these women. One of life's little miracles. You are not alone.

Which brings me to the wind homage of this post. We're in it together.

These days most commercials leave me either completely uninterested or really annoyed, angry even. Very, very few make me happy, touch me or leave me in awe. But there are some precious exceptions to that rule of indifference and annoyance. And this is one. The Swedish energy company E.on produced a brilliant TV commercial this spring with ingredients that actually brought me to tears.

For you who have read this blog for some time, you know about my love for wind turbines. Fields of wind turbines, wind farms, row upon row of them on hills, in the sea, they are mesmerizingly beautiful to me.

In fact, tall, strong, confident and environmental friendly, one of these gentle giants would make the perfect partner in my book of ideals. Well, at least if it weren't for the not so minor details that the conversations would be very onesided as would the meals, plus zero cuddles to be expected. Oh, I digress.

The ingredients in this commercial that blew me away - no pun intended, really - were;

- the beautiful filming and storytelling
- that they managed to make such a beautiful, melancholic version of a really cheesy, awful Eurovision song contest winner (Fångad av en stormvind/Caught by a heavy gale) that captured both the mood and the energy source perfectly. (The artist that sings is actually the woman in the commercial.)
- the fact that you can apparently go up in the turbines and stand there on top of the world of gentle giants. Yes I know it's for installing, repairing and maintenance, but still I would absolutely love to do it. It went straight onto my dreamy bucket list of things to experience.

You can see the making of the commercial and other clips on YouTube, which will paint a fuller, not so glamourous, picture of it. And needless to say, "Fångad av en stormvind" with El perro del mar is currently one of my absolute favourites on Spotify since a few months.

Thank you heart. Thank you wind. Much love.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

grey hair i don't care

I wish I could wholeheartedly say that was true, that I didn't care about the grey hairs. But I do. 

My father's hair went grey in his 20ies, my mum's in her 50ies and I was *blessed* with it in my 30ies. Ever since then I've coloured and highlighted my once natural rich, red chestnut colour. But for partly chemical reasons partly it's really in vain-reasons I stopped doing it in 2015. Decided to work with not against the greys.

In April this year I suddenly realised it was so grey I could probably go into retirement. And this past year of sorrow and struggle has not exactly helped either. Luckily I neither look nor feel like a little ol' grey haired lady. But still, it's kind of a struggle to come to terms with the fact that it will never be that chestnut colour again, unless I colour it. I won't be the brunette that's me. Ever again.

It doesn't really matter if friends say it looks cool and intended. To me it looks like my hair is covered in cobwebs (very age befitting). It doesn't matter that I think women my age or younger look supercool and stylish because they actually don't care about their hair going grey. Or if they even colour it grey - and yes I've made Instagram albums of cool grey haircuts and styles to be inspired by. Not sure that works very well so far though.

I definitely find it much easier to accept my wobbly bits than those grey hairs.

Used to visit my hairdresser every 10 weeks or so. Now I haven't been since January. Partly because I'm in the mood for it to just (scarecrow) grow - and I know she'll want to put scissors to it. Partly because I don't really trust myself to not be talked into doing something about it when I feel miserable in those always unflattering hairdresser mirrors.

At the same time I'm defiant. I won't be one of those ridiculous persons who fight age in unnatural ways, instead of simply enjoying life and having a healthy lifestyle in general. With or without grey hairs. I will not let something as natural and superficial as my hair colour define me.

But the struggle is real. Especially with a looming birthday in October. Other's have made it past it and survived. Strangely enough. And it does scare me. Age is just a number. But it can be a rather scary number.

Currently I have a decent tan and natural sunbleached highlights, that will most certainly change in the coming months. And it won't feel glamorous and natural at all. But maybe coming to terms with this new me is also a part of redefining myself?

I'm also thinking about how I want that looming, dreaded birthday, with lots of grey hairs to show for it, to be. I have no interest whatsoever to *celebrate* it with a party, partly because I have little or no interest in parties as such, partly because I don't think it's anything to celebrate. 

I've always prefered to travel somewhere for a long weekend trip on my birthday. But then we've always been two on that birthday trip. And as much as I actually loved my Schwarzwald trip last October and how great it was to be a solo traveller, I'm not sure I'm really ready to solo travel for my birthday. Or perhaps I just think I'm not?

But I really love good irl conversations on my trips too, and talking to myself and random chats with strangers isn't what I call good and meaningful conversations. 

In my head I see myself having one of those amazing breakfasts at Café Im Literaturhaus in Berlin on my birthday, and dinner at a fancy vegan restaurant. But then again, Berlin is so much connected with our lovely trips over the years and I don't think I'm ready to just go there alone for my birthday. I think it's better to spend that dreaded birthday in a yet unvisited city where I can create my own memories only. I suspect it will be a bit sad anyway. To meet it on my own. But I also think it would be even more sad to stay at home and not travel anywhere, so far destination unknown.

What's your relationship with your grey hairs? And age and birthdays, especially your own dreaded ones? The former just is what it is I suppose, something to come to terms with. But any great suggestions for the latter much welcome.

Friday, August 18, 2017

the completion letter

Yesterday we had our last meeting in the grief recovery process group. Our last task was to write a completion letter to that person (or situation for that matter) we felt we had unfinished communication with. For every meeting we've had - 6 of them - I've felt lighter and lighter, until the 5th meeting last Monday. 

Suddenly I was really low for a couple of days, which isn't a surprising reaction. Grief recovery isn't a straight forward process, the only thing straight forward are the steps we take. And my dip came late in the process. Saying goodbye to a situation, a person (alive or deceased), a relationship you have adapted yourself to, that no longer serves you or have stopped served you a long time ago, that's a sorrow in itself. All these layers of sorrow, who knew they come in so many shapes and forms?

Good thing I know how to talk myself out of the blues and worry by now. And as sad as writing that honest completion letter was, I read it out loud to myself, cried, danced and slept well. It was easy enough to read it in the group but I did cry some more, we all did. It's strange how sad it is to say goodbye to sorrow, in this particular brooding form. But I can't stress enough how grateful I am to have been given this chance to this process at a reasonably early stage, but not too soon after either, and not after years and years of possible brooding and self-analyzing the whys and why nots ad finitum. 

Of course it isn't as turning on and off a switch and suddenly everything is hunky dory just because you've written and read that completion letter. But, at least when it comes to a deceased person, you have worked the unfinished things through via this process, you have said I'm sorry for, I forgive you for, I had wished that, Thank you for and farewell and that is quite a big deal for the recovery. Being at peace is too.

The relationship, the love that was will always be, the happy memories too. But I will not keep on processing the sad memories, the questions I will never get answers to. Dwell on anger, disappointments, the things that might turn bitter and toxic. The things I wanted more or less of, or different, the things I can't change, they are accepted now, for me to heal and be well.

Being where I am now, being more open to new beginnings, things, people, happenings, life in general than I've been in a long time - that is actually quite scary too. Like a veil has been lifted and I can't really hide anymore. At the same time it is wistful, saying goodbye to a loss is a loss in itself, it is also exciting. What will happen now? What will come next? My next steps in life? What will make complete sense?

After the meeting yesterday I had decided to buy some special tea, and biscuits, to accompany my own private ceremony of burning some significant papers when I got home. The reason for this was that one of the heartwarming messages I got at that seance in January - 11 in pictures, 14 in words (and even more in talk), out of which 15 made complete and mindblowing sense right there and then, some have made sense since and a couple have begun to make strange, serendipitous sense these past few weeks only. And for new readers; it's a completely anonymous group seance, noone knows who is coming, noone knows if someone is coming, it's a spur of the moment thing at least for me. I may be open to possibilities but I'm never gullible - was simply "English tea and biscuits. Go to a tea shop." (For you who know me, you know I drink so much tea it practically pours out of my ears.)

For some reason I got an image of an old tea shop in Stockholm that I strangely enough had never visited before, when I read that sentence back then. So yesterday was the day for it. And such a lovely lovely shop it was! In the posh part of the city, a place where little ol' ladies have bought tea and coffee since 1916. They only sell their own tea and coffee blends, the packaging is very colourful, basic and stylish and oh the scent, the wonderful tea scent. I will most certainly visit more regularly from now on. The friendly staff offered some teas I might enjoy (black or red fruity, flowery notes are my tea tune of choice) and I settled for one of each. Plus a package of shortbread-ish biscuits.

It was only on the train home I realised the black tea was called Angel tea.

Coincidences, life's little messages to tell you you're not alone.

And it's perfectly alright to be an atheist like me and still believe life is pretty magical sometimes. I just think most of us have lost that sense of openness and wonder in our busy, sometimes stressful, sometimes difficult lives.

I burned some papers, I drank the Angel tea (which was lovely and my whole kitchen smells with it from the paper bag), ate some biscuits, was exhausted in that liberating way when your brain is just completely empty and had a really good night's sleep. Today I had to ran some errands in the city, it was too rainy to go for a long walk, but I picked up some lunch and enjoyed it al fresco on a bench by the waters. Me and my semi-empty brain needed peace and time to collect thoughts and adjust to my shift in both focus and life. It was a perfect day for it.

Completion. Life. Gratitude. And tea.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

on being a free spirit

Someone said I look like a fairy today. As much as I can't for my life see why - dirty bedhead hair and shabby, old sun dress etc. - it was a fun and sweet compliment. Presumably one of those fairies who dance around at misty meadows on summer nights with flowers in their hair and not the willowy ones in Lord of the rings.

And it got me thinking  about how truly liberating this grief recovery process has been. How I feel lighter, brighter, strangely more me for it. So perhaps the (giggle worthy) fairy-like appearance is something that shine through from within rather than the outside appearance. When it feels like a heavy weight has been lifted off your tense shoulders, it's visible not just feelable. In fact I feel more like my free spirit self than I have in a long long time.

We have a few sessions left and I have to say, without exaggerating, it has been one of my best experiences in life. Sad it had to come through a heartbreaking event, but looking back at my life - and people that inspire me - it's not the happy days and circumstances - no matter how grateful I am for those - that has led to true growth, deeper understanding and compassion, a step up the ladder of becoming a better human being, fellow earthling. It is the hardship, the sorrow, the troublesome days.

Though I most certainly do not advocate a positive, upbeat attitude and outlook at all costs at all times, because I think that creates a false image of life, living and the world. However, the way you react to those tragedies we all go through in one way or the other, those hardship, setbacks, troubles and what we decide to focus our energy on, that's completely up to ourselves.

Don't become bitter, learn another life lesson and move on to greatness instead.

Which quite possibly is easier said than done for some, being born where I am, brought up in a loving family, being fortunate in so many ways and grateful for so much, I know I can't begin to grasp the hardship some, less fortunate people go through in life. But I'm sure you get my point here.

Since I wouldn't have had the chance to go through this process if it hadn't been for my British Shorthair breeding, - 

which as far as I'm concerned is a thing of the past, another thing I'm so grateful to have been a part of, all the lovely lovely kittens over the years, cat show successes, happy new owners, my own quirky, darling snoopervisors. But as much as I love the breed itself I also think there are enough cats, dogs, animals and yes, humans too out there wanting love and a safe family to call their own and no need to produce new ones. Quite the opposite imho. Oh, I digress.

Instagram and LinkedIn I posted this (in Swedish) in both channels -

"To work with this book has been a large and important part of my summer. Never would I have thought that I would share deeply personal things in a group of unknown people, but it has been an amazing experience. Liberating, cathartic, challenging, evoluting, healing and something of the most important things  I've done in my life.

And why do I write this on LinkedIn? Because partly, we are complex people, our private and professional lives influence eachother much more than we might grasp. And I know this book/process would make many people feel much better. And with that become better professionals, colleagues and business owners.

Partly, without (my British Shorthair breeding), Instagram and LinkedIn I wouldn't have had this valuable opportunity - you who have been a part of this journey, you know who you are, you are worth your weight in gold and I am so grateful to have been a part of your journey too!

..... "

Which brings me to the free spirit part of this post. Many many years ago, during my sick leave for burn out and as a part of the settlement with my former employer - situation briefly described here - I went to a career coach. I think we had about 6 sessions together, I don't think I was any closer to what I wanted to do after those sessions as such, but he was a likeable guy and I got some reasonable good advice and food for thought. 

At one of those sessions he suddenly went quiet, looked at me and said "Your skepticism towards authorities really is very deep. You're truly a free spirit!". I laughed and said that it was probably true, just that I hadn't seen it like that before. All these years later it's actually one of the best and most insightful compliments I've ever gotten.

I should have started my own business back then already I suppose. But at the same time I don't think I was quite ready for it. And for some reason I still had faith in the Swedish labour market. Many, many, many hard lessons later I took the jump and it has been fantastic in oh so many ways, still is. At the same time as I admittedly more and more miss working with others towards a common goal, you know, the my kind of people thing and fuzzy feelings galore.

In general the labour market has changed so much since back then, I believe that today, in certain organisations and companies, there is room for free spirits to flutter and sprinkle magic dust. So I remain hopeful and stoked that will soon be the next logic step for me.

The free spirit card above? Well, that's from a blog reader turned friend - the day I spent with you in Heidelberg in October was one of my best in 2016, thank you again! And yes, I will blog about the Schwarzwald trip one of these days, I will... - and arrived a while back. Apparently she thought of me when she saw it at Trader Joe's; hedgehog, pink boots, Midsummer flowers in the hair add a free spirit. I was touched! It's pretty amazing when someone actually pinpoints me that well by reading the blog. Even if I suppose nearly 12 years of wording is a decent source for pinpointing. Nevertheless, touched.

And tomorrow, the commuter trains are back on track - doing a special free spirit happy dance under the stars!

Friday, August 11, 2017

as close as i'll ever get to colin firth in a wet shirt

One of my favourite castles in the whole wide world, Skokloster, currently has an exhibition called 'Jane Austens värld' (Jane Austen's world), with original clothes from 'Pride and Prejudice', 'Sense and Sensibility' and 'Emma', with focus on women's roles in society back then (late 18th - early 19th century). And as much as I adore the television and movie adaptions of Austen's books, oh my am I grateful I live here and now...

The guided tour was really good but I have to say that this particular piece was the highlight of the exhibition. For all of you who, like me, swooned over a certain someone in a certain scene in 'Pride and Prejudice' - you know why.

After the tour we could play dress-up and try on regency clothes, for some reason it wasn't a popular feature for the visitors in my group. But I decided to try on some hats at least. With an ever present Colin Firth.

It was the wonkiest mirror ever which made me in an A-line dress look even wonkier and as much as I love playing dress-up it's not much fun when you just look weird and there's noone around to laugh with, but a stern Colin. - Oh why couldn't you have smiled just a little bit during our brief moments together?

All in all a lovely day though. You can't go wrong with castle + waffles + tiny dog company. And a close encounter with Mr Darcy's once very wet shirt.

PS On August 19 they apparently host a Jane Austen ball at the castle, tickets sold out, but it does sounds pretty fabulous, wouldn't you agree? DS

Friday, August 04, 2017

dancing under the stars

The long, light, warm summer evenings and dark, starry lit nights lately have been a truly treasured thing for me. In the perfect seclusion of my garden I put on headphones and dance like nobody's watching but the bewildered cats - who demand regular belly rubs, back pats and cheek scratches before they continue chasing night insects and eachother through the dry, summer grass and shrubs - and the ever watchful stars above. It has been a lovely source for me to collect my thoughts and impressions of the day, feeling empowered and inspired. 

And I'm so grateful nobody can see me.

You know how last summer in the city was kind of cancelled due to the chaotic, stressful public transport situation with replacement buses for the commuter trains? This has been the case this summer too (which makes it the third summer for it). However this time it hasn't been the same stations involved as previous years so the replacement buses and options have been a few more. Slightly less stressful, but very time consuming and annoying just the same. 

Since I did have a few business meetings during these summer months I had to get a travel card, because single tickets would just be ridiculously expensive. And with a travel card and no real plans other than a workation staycation kind of summer I've been experimenting with those different travel options, buying lunch or coffee to go, sitting myself down on a bench with a view and simply feeling very fortunate in life, circumstances and not least the beautiful city I call home. Always followed by a long, brisk walk with my own thoughts as company alone. Which make me all but alone. 

Those days when I have no particular job to finish, no particular place to be or time to meet, when I can just stroll, sit, think, take silly pictures and be mindful of my place in time - they've been blissful. Such a lovely breathing space and reminder that amongst worry and searching for my place in life, my kind of people, that special feeling, life is quite spectacular. 

Filled with tiny moments of wonder.

And then yesterday I had a job meeting. I'm not sure if it was an interview, because that was my mindset going there but in the end it was just a really great meeting for a position that I feel would be perfect for me, my background and skillset. And I got the impression that feeling was mutual.

What's extra fascinating is that pretty much a year ago I was involved in a recruitment process for a similar position in a similar company, which turned out to be so very awkward and completely wrong for me, with my gut feeling basically screaming at me to get out when I stepped into the room. I have never felt so out of place in an interview situation before or after. It was like we were from two different planets, speaking different languages. 

I really didn't get their product/service, they had basically zero enthusiasm and vision and how could anyone thrive in such an environment? And how was I suppose to be able to market and sell it with no passion to be found?

This meeting yesterday, this product/service (beautiful design, great potential), this vision, this enthusiasm, it was the complete opposite, this I completely got. And embrace. Without reservation. And for you who know me by now, irl or by words only, you know I'm not easily smitten - if it's not a furry animal - rather the opposite. So I'm *a bit* surprised, but perhaps this reaction is how it's suppose to be when it's right? And honestly, things are so much better when you don't have this and that reservation about the product/service you're supposed to work with and what value you can bring to the table, when it just simply makes perfect sense.

When someone actually seem to appreciate me for being me because of my particular skillset and broad background - where the common denominators have been communication and text production in various forms - and not despite it. Rather liberating. And surprising. As much as I got them they seem to get me. 

Not sure what will happen now, but I've decided to feel stoked because it's a great feeling. I've also decided to trust the process - which isn't my strongest feature (hello impatience my ol' friend) - and when things happen they are meant to.

My weekend will now be spent working with the next chapters in the grief recovery process handbook and prepare for our next group session, first after a month's break, next week. It is a time for healing, tears, laughter and meaningful insights. It is the time for moving on. 

And dancing under the stars.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

the way the mind works

Or in this case specifically my mind. But it's also a 

a) reminding lesson in how we react to seemingly minor, mundane things and behaviours is based on previous experiences (and values)

b) more often than not you're your own great therapist (given you're reasonally sane and insightful of course)

The first time I really really grasped this was when I was on my lengthy burnout sick-leave (now over ten years ago) - 

sure the workload was heavy, but the real reason was it was basically a workplace from hell with a very unhealthy company culture of bullying, insecure bosses and lackeys who kept targeting one of the lawyers until s/he broke down and was replaced by a new, unsuspecting target. Specifically those who did the best job, thought outside the box and weren't afraid (initially) to speak their mind. And yes I was soon the perfect target. -

I could write a long long post about this of course, and I have written several touching on the subject when I began blogging - hey it's almost 12 years ago now! - but I'll just say as much that even if I was in that hell for too long, and the recovery took years, I'm also a much much better and healthier human being for it. One of my best life lessons, even if it felt like far far from that back then, deep under the duvet. And of course, Little Loaf would't have moved in here if it hadn't been for that dark period in my life.

That workplace experience also shaped me and my reactions to a lot of ways people behave - hello master suppression techniques, you don't escape me - when I shy away, when I genuinely dislike or embrace people and organisations. And yes, back then I got it why we all react in ways that seem logical to ourselves but possibly spaced out and irrational to others, our previous experiences set the stage for actions and reactions. Fight or flight mode.

And that was merely the prelude to the recent event I was to write about. A mundane and genuinely kind offer that threw me into a calm panic mode. Calm as in it wasn't a scary situation at all, quite the opposite, but my mind went into overdrive and I realised I've come so far in this past year and at the same time I'm so shaped by both my values and all those years before that it's both great and sad really.

A month ago I had a business meeting. The journey there by commuter train would take about 1,5 hours followed by a walk for about 15 minutes through a depressing industrial area trafficed by heavy vehicles. It was raining when I left home, it kept drizzling outside the train window for 1,5 hours but when I reached my station the sun suddenly appeared which felt like a great sign for the meeting to come.

After 300 metres the heavens opened and an absolutely mad rain began to fall. Never mind, I have a fancy Marimekko umbrella that will keep me dry. But then the sudden gusts appeared and I soon realised having a fancy schmancy umbrella would not make much of a difference from not having one at all. Half there I was basically soaking wet from shoes to shoulders. And got a crazy painful blister from nowhere. The rest of the walk I frantically sang 'High ho high ho it's off to work I go' to cheer myself up.

Had some time to try and sort out my drenched look before the meeting but it was quite obvious it had been a *rather* wet walk to get there and the person I was meeting was quick to offer me a ride back to the station after the meeting. I was needless to say grateful for the kind offer but these were my three instant reactions -

1. No way I'm accepting if the person driving doesn't pass the station on his way to something work related to where it's necessary to drive. Just because it might be convenient for me doesn't mean it's a sound environmental choice. I'm already wet, I can walk back too.

2. I'm an independent, grown up, professional person that can cope with annoying things like very wet weather and blisters. I must not get used to accepting rides when there's really no need for them.

3. The realisation that for most of all those years with M I was far too accepting to taking the car instead of the bus/train when we did things together. The car was like an extra limb to him, when it was more of an environmental and health issue for me, yet it was so very convenient... And time saving. And... I am now effectively weaned from that.

I could have declined the offer after the meeting. I didn't. I kept debating with myself when I waited. When I saw the car, a company car with logos but still your usual modern car much like M's car, it put me in some kind of weird 'oh no, I can't open the door and step inside because I will now be back in the passenger seat of my life with someone else driving' panic mode. 

You know, your average irrational behaviour and thought that seems so obviously logical to the person with a certain experience. The thing that saved me from saying 'thanks, but no thanks the weather is clearing up' and just run was that I hate making a fool of myself, especially in a professional situation and I'm insightful enough to know why I reacted the way I did. 

But the 5 minute car ride felt really awkward, I played normal, - albeit still a rather wet and damp version of normal - chatting away and to make it even worse my glasses broke. One of the sidepieces just bizarrely fell off. I didn't mention it and tried to keep the glasses on my nose like it was the most normal thing in the world to have one sidepiece only. Soon that world looked really lopsided and I almost fell out of the car at the station because I couldn't see properly and for all the tension of acting normal for 5 minutes while my inside was in turmoil.

I hope I was a good actress. And I seriously doubt the person in question read this blog. (If you do, feel free to have a good laugh at my weirdness.)

At the same time as it was an encouring realisation in how far I've come on the journey of redefining myself as a me alone it was also a bewildering feeling of being ridiculously childish, a stubbornly independent weirdo who blow things out of complete proportions as well as an insightfully wise and value driven human that makes/wants to make conscious decisions for the greater good not only my own convenience in the moment.

Sometimes I'm just so liberatingly uncomplicated, easy to grasp and please, others my brain take me on the wildest rides over seemingly random, mundane things. I guess that's just a case of being a multi-layered human being. An odd bird. And growing up with an always analyzing, deep thinker father like mine.

All in all, high five to me for realising the whys and the hows for my calm panic reaction to something as simple as a kind gesture. I have no idea how I will react when something similar happens again one day.

But at least I got a blog post out of the ride that turned into two quite different rides, outside, inside.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

that special feeling

Remember I wrote about a new and interesting project I accepted in the beginning of the year? But also a project that initially left a bad aftertaste due to financial reasons - I'm a freelancer not a serf, and seriously, if companies don't pay reasonable money to the ones that actually do the very job in the end, us freelancers, then that will never ever be good practice or decent behaviour, is that really what your company wants to stand for?

That said, to not be engulfed in the financial resentment of not being reasonably paid - which have and will happen to us all one way or another sooner or later - I've decided to always, always look at it as an opportunity to learn new things, grow and be a more well-rounded (professional) person, add skills to the CV and not least do a great job before I move on. Because badly paid or not, moving on is the fabulous option at the end of a gig we freelancers have, we're rarely bound to any lengthy contracts.

So what have I done these past few months then, part time? Well, I've been contracted subconsultant in the role of career coach for international talents. An integration project specifically targeting immigrants from different backgrounds and countries with the common denominator being they have an academic degree.

I've put in lots and lots of hours, I've been moved, nagging, hopeful, annoyed, impressed, angry and very happy. But for the financial reasons it has been a fantastic learning and growth experience. And as it turned out, surprisingly enough, also a great way to make a real difference both in a single person's life as well as in society. Noone can change everything but we can all make something change for the better.

The heartwarming outcome for one of my participants - an electrical engineer from the African continent - has been that after finishing his 12 weeks traineeship, at a large Swedish corporate group that's also one of Europe's leading generators of electricity, he has been offered a permanent position with them.

Which made me so incredibly happy to hear. And not least seriously proud to be a part of the process. The company itself, or rather the employees I've been in contact with, have also impressed me a lot, their honest solution orientation, getting people on board in the project and openness. Kind of blown away about it all actually.

To be a subconsultant is obviously not financially sustainable, but I will forever be grateful for this experience. And the people I've met, the stories I've listened to, it has made me into a better human being. And made a real difference. On so many levels.

I've always seen myself as a champion for animals and animal rights - because those rights are intricately linked to women's rights and human rights (and not least sustainability), I just wish more people could connect those darn dots by now! - and obviously deeply concerned about environmental issues, climate change and sustainability.

But as much as I know integration is an important issue that hasn't been taken very seriously for decades - and look what that's led us - I've never, for various reasons, seen myself as someone working with such matters. Nor have I seen it as a sustainability issue, but I've come to realise social sustainability is equally important to environmental sustainability, without either we can't have a stable and sound society and world. Or a healthy future, if there's still a chance of that.

I don't know where the road will lead me from here on, professionally and privately, but I'm open and expectant for whatever exciting things, opportunities and people that will cross my path. And again, so very grateful to have been a part of this. Turned out I was pretty great at connecting with the right kind of people and doing a job I'd never even concidered. And somehow this experience has tickled my ol' lawyer-gene and background. Who knew.

And that special feeling? Well, that's the magic blend of stepping outside your comfort zone, learning new things while applying your skills, doing a great job, meeting new, interesting people, making a real difference working with others, being a part of something more hands on substantial than writing web copy, content or managing social media channels. Even if its always rewarding with satisfied customers, and fun tasks, I have to admit that so far those assignments haven't touched my soul in quite the same way as this one did.

This was simply rewarding on a whole other level. And that's a warm and fuzzy feeling I want more of in my professional life. Though from here on, accompanied by a reasonable payment, thank you very much, Future.

Yours truly with gratitude,

EDIT: On July 26 I had my very last project meeting with my last participant from Syria - the outcome was just as happy as for the electrical engineer, he got a job offer! This time in hotel management and booking in the largest Swedish hotel chain, with hotels mainly in the Nordic countries but also in the rest of Europe. Once again, hello warm and fuzzy feeling! 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

hello emotional flooding

Who knew active work with the grief recovery process would open up a veritable flooding of emotions? As if I wasn't an (over)analyzing person before, now my mind is on some crazy overdrive with thoughts and feelings everywhere. I know it'll be all good in the end, but current status: exhausted. Mainly. When I'm not feeling exhilarated and expectant or wistful and blue.

Just before this summer's period with substitute buses for the commuter trains begun - 

three years in a row, hopefully this will be that last year... It's been such a stressful hassle, and I haven't even been forced to commute for a job every day. This summer it basically means a journey from door to door takes double the time ie for me getting to the city takes about 2 hours. Which is just crazy. So as much as I'd love to just take the train to the fair capital and enjoy unpretentious walks, views and fika I can't stand the hassle so unless I have booked meetings I need to attend my city trips will be very scarce until the trains are on again on August 14. Which means I have  a  l o t of time with my brain as my company alone this summer (as last year)... Hooray -

it was an intense period of meetings and meaningful conversations. It felt like a great idea to cram in as much as possible of that before the substitute period/most people's holidays begun. In hindsight perhaps it wasn't a very wise move.

Life right now is like a bowl of summer strawberries - some juicy and sweet making me go all week at the knees, others sour with a bitter tang and some are even moudly and inedible. But the overall impression is sweet and delicious, I think.

My intuition and gut feelings are stronger than ever, but at the same time I'm not really comfortable following their every instinct. What I am comfortable doing is saying no to things my intuition says is not for me. I'm working on becoming comfortable in saying yes more often. And being more proactive in certain situations - but that's scary...

Stronger and more determined for every day - except for the blue days, but they shall always pass - I'm just incredibly grateful for so many beings and things I've had, have and will have in my life.

Referring to my last post and the internet dating thing - that isn't me at all but one must brave one's prejudices now and then. My experiences so far (which have made me think of a making a podcast on the subject):

:: The first site I tried has continued to disappoint and entertain (because it's so poorly user experience designed). With few exceptions the men seem obsessively interested in sports, training and drinking wine, intellectual interests are far and few apart. Add to that bad selfies and badly written profiles. 

As I have no interest in paying for the *service* I can't search for vegans/vegetarians which is my basic criteria. I have also purposefully written my profile in a way that's either pretty scary or intriguing. The only one who has dared to contact me so far was a very short guy who had pictures of himself drinking supersized champagne bottles. I. Can't. Even. 

I have no interest whatsoever in depicting myself as a graceful damsel in distress-like woman with no real views or values of importance. Of course I don't have a sign around my neck irl with all my views and preferences/demands, I'm actually quite easy to talk to and grown up enough to realise you can't mould someone into some ideal person that tick your every dream box. But really, some basic standards isn't too much to ask for and if you can't be really clear about who you are and what you're looking for (in a way that some might find intimidating, no pun intended) on a dating site, then when can you?

I'm not desperate, I'm discerning. And will forever continue to be.

:: I then remembered there's a dating site for vegans/vegetarians, perhaps that would be a better bet? 

It turned out to be a like a chat room for teenagers and full of pimply 20 something guys. I deleted my profile after five minutes.

:: There's a dating site that actually has a rather cute TV commerical, well, might as well try that one too while I'm at it.

That was a mistake. In fact it was truly scary. About five seconds after I had registered a profil with a photo it had a gazillion visitors, messages, flirts and likes. So many desperate men (or stalkers) looking for love, who knew. I must have lived a very sheltered life. The experience was so creepy I promptly deleted the profile.

As this experience so far has surpassed my every prejudice my only conclusion is that I was right, it isn't for me. And it will never be. I'm sure it suits some, their stars align and that's just lovely. The answer to most everything is love. But the answer on how to find it differs. Which is great, because how boring would life be if we all looked for meaningful relationships in the same way, in the same places?

Next blog post - job related. Promise.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

the grief recovery process

Hi, hello, long time no blog.

And again so much, yet so little, has happened I don't know where to start really. But I suppose the most important thing I've done since we last met online is that I'm doing grief recovery in a small group. Turned out it was both really difficult to find a good tip on grief counsellors and they were really expensive. And in order to get a therapist that is connected to the public health care system (ie you only pay a fixed sum) you first had to go see a doctor to get a referal. A lengthy, emotional process to get there.

And then a friend suggested I'd connect with her former manager who had experience in this. To cut a longer story short I'm now doing much of the work myself and then we meet in this group and talk, listen, cry and laugh together with the help of my friend's former manager as the guide. It's so cathartic. We're going through the grief recovery process with help of "The Grief Recovery Handbook", we're half way through it and will reconvene in August after the summer holidays.

I never ever thought I'd enjoy (possibly not the right word here, but "find it useful" sounds too dull and unengaging) group sessions, talking about deeply private and intimate things, some of which I've never told anyone before. But I think 4 people is just the right number for it.

Friends and my mother have commented I'm looking more relaxed and open since I began with this. And I have to say I'm feeling much calmer. And the strange thing is that I discover things about myself and why I act, react, do and feel things the way I do in life in general through this process. I'm getting much more out of it than the grief recovery itself. Which is amazing.

When it comes to work I've accomplished a lot of things, but not as much as I would have liked. I still worry about my finances and am still looking for that brilliant part time job. Not a lot you can do about it over the summer though, in Sweden, where pretty much everything closes down in July. Especially one work thing I've accomplished, as part of a project, has made me truly happy. It deserves a post of its own - and will hopefully be written in a not too distant future.

With all this recent and current liberating of emotions and thoughts, talking with friends about relationships and what the future might (hopefully) hold I did something today I've sworn I'd never do - I've signed up to a match making site. I see it as part of a study process of human behaviour and not really something that suits me.

But every decision you make move life forward, one way or the other.

I'm open to meeting new people, of course, but I'm not really open to dating yet. I'm not sure I'll ever be. It just feels like a really awkward thing to do. But feel free to laugh about it. I know I have, when I've looked through all the so called matches of men that has been lined up for me.

Seriously, after all the questionnaires I filled in, after being VERY clear with the importance of vegan, vegetarian, sustainability, animal rights values, these are the men your algorithms match me with.

If this is what the world has to offer I will be forever single. 

Or quite possibly the best people, my kind of people, as I suspect, don't use dating sites. I'm just too opinionated and strong-willed to have any "success" at this, too odd. And that's fine, adapting and compromising too much would not make me (or anyone else) happy.

The best thing about this though is that when I read through my eloquently written - compared to the well-educated guys in my age group that apparently haven't bothered about writing since they graduated high school - descriptions, I kind of fall in love with myself instead. I'm just a quirky adorable person, with amazing values and pretty decent writing skills.

And I believe in magic, serendipity and when the time, place and person is right it just happens.

At least I got a good laugh from it all, and confirmation of my suspicions/prejudices. I will now continue with the grief recovery process, my part-time job hunt and being as happy as I can be with just amazing me, myself and I. And the fabulous felines.
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