Vulnerability – The Birthplace of Innovation, Creativity, and Change.

I captured the title for this wave of Fika for Your Soul in the TED talk about vulnerability by Brené Brown. Towards the end of the talk she says, “Vulnerability is the birthplace for innovation, creativity, and change.”

It’s hard not to notice the level of vulnerability we’re facing in mundane everyday tasks right now. There’s no rule book any more. The world as we know it is gone. We can’t point to someone else and demand that they fix things. As a collective, we’re forced to engage in a way we haven’t done for a long time, maybe never. It’s fascinating to think that all countries around the world, rich or poor, big or small, are facing the same challenge – at the same time.

Personally, I appreciate that we are being given the chance to slow down. I have noticed that a deeper level of thinking and deeper inspiration have come to light thanks to life no longer ticking along ‘as usual’.

Continue reading Vulnerability – The Birthplace of Innovation, Creativity, and Change.

3 helpful things for our current Hero’s Journey.

It’s been a while since my last Fika for Your Soul. I imagine that most of us are doing the same thing right now – finding our feet in this new world of ours.

At the time of writing, The Guardian’s daily news update reports that a third of the world’s population is in lockdown. I’ve worked from home for 12 years, and I have lived far away from my family for even longer, so my day-to-day situation isn’t much different now that the UK is in lockdown. But I know that day-to-day life has changed dramatically for many of you!

It’s interesting how the virus is affecting everything.

It ripples into every area and layer of society. No border can escape it. It’s quite telling. This forces us to rethink our way of life, whether we want to or not. Now we’re all forced to look at our humanity and how we show up. It’s no longer possible to ‘go it alone’, whether we are a country or an individual.

For me, in all of this, a question beckons… What does the world need from me right now; how can I be my best self? Whether in business, at work, or life in general….

In aid of this question, I thought I’d share three things that recently crossed my path. Things that can help us ground in all the new that we’re currently facing.


(1) Documentary by Patrick Takaya Solomon, called FINDING JOE, about Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. It’s available on YouTube for free.

Most of us have heard of The Hero’s Journey before, and you may have read books about it. This film (80 minutes) is a wonderful reminder of how we go through our own hero’s journeys and it gives us an opportunity to reframe challenges that we may be facing. And considering what we as a collective are going through right now, this is a wonderful guide and it helps to structure and paint our bigger picture.

Don’t miss it. I highly recommend it.

Synopsis: In the early 20th century, while studying world mythology, Joseph Campbell discovered a pattern hidden in every story ever told and he called it “The Hero’s Journey”. A truly inspirational film, FINDING JOE takes us on the ultimate hero’s journey: the journey of self discovery. As you slay dragons and uncover treasures, you just may find that the holy grail you seek is closer than you think.

(2) Breathing tip for calming our energy.

Put your left hand on your heart and your right hand on your abdomen. Take a breath in, counting to four. Then breathe out, counting to more than four. Repeat.

A very simple and quick way to slow mind and body down, to calm our energy.

(3) Technique for coming back to the present moment.

Referred to by some, as the ‘Five, Four, Three, Two, One’ technique. It’s a wonderful way to come back to the present, to stop your mind from running around in the past or in the future.

To bring you back into the present, identify:

5 things you can see right now
4 things you can touch (and touch them)
3 things you can hear
2 things you can smell
1 thing you can taste

Doing this we can’t not be here, which in turn gives us a moment to breathe.

Number 2 and 3 are both courtesy of Jay Shetty. Some of you may have come across him before. He is one of two guests in the most recent episode of Red Table Talk on Facebook, ‘Managing Our Anxiety & Fear During COVID-19’, which is where I heard him mention these techniques.


In closing…

These are confusing times but there’s also a huge opportunity for evolution, should we choose it. Now, more than ever before, it’s about leadership in life.

If you’re thinking about a version of, What does the world need from me right now; how can I be my best self?, feel free to reach out for a chat by leaving a comment below or find a time to chat here.

In this new world we’re invited to live and lead from our soul, from our best self, and knowing what that looks like is becoming more and more important. I’m considering setting up a Facebook group where we can explore questions such as the one above (or any other question or inquiry you may have in relation to living and leading from a different place). If you’d be interested in joining a group like this, on Facebook or somewhere else, let me know by sending me a message or leaving a comment.

We’re in this together.

..from my soul to yours,

Maria

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

10 Ways to Raise Our Awareness

Welcome to the latest wave of Fika for Your Soul!

I announced a little while ago in a Facebook Live that I’ll be including a series of different themes in my posts, newsletters, and videos this year. The reason for this is what I have come to know as ‘Spiral to Freedom’.

Spiral to Freedom is a series of principles and practices that help us get clear on, implement, and integrate a deeper connection, learn to trust our intuition, and experience greater inner and outer freedom in everyday life.

I’ve not yet decided if the theme will be monthly or longer than that, but what I can say is that the current theme is PRESENCE. 🙂

I’ve always loved words. If you’re like me, you experience huge satisfaction when you get it ‘right’. That said, as strange as it may sound, it doesn’t have to be grammatically correct or right for it to ‘feel’ right. It’s about it hitting ‘the right spot’ (and only you know what that is for you).

But my love for words go beyond that.

When it comes to the energy of words, I’m a total geek. I love to listen for, and explore, the energy and vibe that a word or a concept carries. To me, the energy of a word or concept can feel spacious, light, dense, bubbly, edgy, steely, to give a few examples.  

What does the word PRESENCE invoke in you?

I find that it comes with an invitation to expand, to hone, to pay attention, to observe, to take inventory, to acknowledge and appreciate.

For me, PRESENCE is about ‘being it’. About raising my awareness, being open, and being present in the moment.

When we’re in the present moment we’re showing openness, and we’ll automatically connect with and associate with the situation we’re in. In presence, we’ll also find our inner pulse, our energetic signature. But looking for our inner pulse isn’t all that useful unless we’ve also opened the door to increasing our awareness.

Back in 2010, after a meditation, I was inspired to write down 10 aspects that help us raise our awareness. What I recognise is that this list came to me at a time when I was going through massive change. For years, I had been striving in a certain direction. I’d continuously bumped my head into a number of walls, leaving me frustrated that I didn’t get anywhere.

Access 10 Ways to Raise Your Awareness here

Round about the time when this list showed up, my intuition had been signalling to me for some time that I wasn’t meant to find another job (employment), it was time for me to strike out on my own, to become a consultant and a contractor. Taking this step felt like doing a 180, moving in the diametrically opposite direction. Moving away from the path that I’d known to be the one forward.

I was terrified, but you know what it’s like when your gut is telling you something. It won’t go away. It’ll hang around and nudge you continuously until you take action. So, after a while I accepted it and made the change that felt like the right next step, not really knowing where it would take me.

I’m grateful I took that step. I’m amazed at my life, how I live my life, what it looks like. Based on my awareness at the time and my lived experience, I could not have thought this into being. I would have limited myself to what I knew, and where I am today is far beyond my horizon at the time.

I’ve not done much with the list in terms of sharing it with others. Today, I feel inspired to share the list with you all as we’re going through massive changes at the moment, collectively but also personally. It brought me a sense of comfort and grounding in turbulent times.

Access 10 Ways to Raise Your Awareness here

I’ll close with this thought…

When we become more present, we’re activated in a new way. Things will start to accelerate as we have said yes to becoming more aware – being more of a participant, more of an observer.

It’s as if we’re somehow uplifted by divine forces that takes us to new places, new experiences, new domains.

..from my soul to yours,

Maria


*Fika for Your Soul* is about connecting with inspiration from everyday situations and conversations. It’s about discovery, reflection, leaning into, and stretching beyond…how we may see, understand, and express freedom, exploration, and leadership (among other things), all in the context of our daily lives. Fika (pronounced ‘Feeka’) is Swedish and means taking a [coffee/tea] break.

Photo by Marianne Krohn on Unsplash

Agency and Grace, and the Story about my friend’s third Ear

Happy New Decade! Welcome to the latest wave of *Fika for Your Soul*!

First off, I’d like to say thank you. It’s pure enjoyment connecting with you in this way. As 2020 is looking to be another year of collective growth and expansion, I’m looking forward to continuing to create pockets of space for reflection and the opportunity to take a breather right here, right now.

Listening seems to be on the agenda for many people these days. Whether we listen too much, or we don’t listen enough…

Typically we think of listening in two ways—the outer listening and the inner listening, where the outer listening (listening to and for external impulses), more often than not, takes precedence. At least consciously. 

In a conversation with a friend recently, she surprised me by sharing the story about her “third ear”. I liked it very much and got her permission to share it.

My friend, Anne, has been an Open Space facilitator for as long as Open Space  has been a thing (30+ years). Open Space is a form of self-organising and a powerful and simple way to run productive meetings, workshops, or conferences. In its most common form, the process centres around issue(s) of importance to any person willing to take some responsibility for it.

For those of you who have not come across Open Space Technology before, I recommend checking it out. It’s a fascinating, inspiring, and empowering meeting technology. It has Four Rules and One Law—the Law of Two Feet.

The Four Rules are:
1. Whoever come are the right people.
2. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have.
3. Whenever it starts is the right time.
4. When it’s over, it’s over.

The Law of Two Feet says: “If, during the course of the gathering, any person finds themselves in a situation where they are neither learning nor contributing, they can go to some more productive place.”  

The first time I participated in an Open Space facilitated conference I was bewildered by the lack of structure. I remember feeling very uncomfortable as my conditioned perspective had me wonder what could possibly come out of such an unstructured approach?

Well, it turns out, a lot.

One of the basic premises of Open Space is that you take responsibility for what interests you. For example, if you’re at a conference or workshop and you have something that you’d like others’ input on, you offer it as a topic for conversation. Each topic or issue is then assigned a meeting space. Participants are invited to decide which topics they are interested in and they apply the law of two feet and wander over to the relevant discussion. Sometimes lots of people show up, sometimes only a few. Other times none at all.

There’s no judgment. The law of two feet. 

As an Open Space beginner, I felt incredibly awkward, rude, and disrespectful if I decided to leave a discussion and go someplace else. But there’s no judgment as I am taking responsibility for what is important to me. Over time I have gotten used to the law of two feet as part of how Open Space works, but it clashes sometimes with how the world at large is run.

As I’m writing this, I’m reminded that I ought to make the principle of the law of two feet conscious in all areas of my life because…

…what the principle is really about is agency and grace. Two things we can’t have too much of.

So, what about the story of my friend’s third ear?

Well, Anne and I had been talking about how we both follow resonance and divine (inner) guidance. How both are fundamental principles for how we make decisions and decide on next steps in our lives.

Working as a facilitator of groups where you open space for emergence, as Anne does, it’s important to give that emergence a voice. As Anne shared her story with me she explained how she had to learn to be present in every moment and just respond to each moment as it showed up and trust that her response would continue to hold the open space of agency and grace. She learned to listen to the energy of the group and follow it meticulously using her “third ear”, her ability to listen for resonance and dissonance in a group using her whole being, not just her physical ears.

I’ve never thought of my own practice of listening with my whole being as a third ear. I like it very much. Thanks, Anne!

If you were to describe your third ear, what would you say?

It’s a new year and a new decade. Last year was a fire hose of experiences and learning that took me way beyond my comfort zone. As a result, I have revisited my values and have come to some inspiring and interesting insights—insights that I’ll be coming back to in the not too distant future.

In the spirit of Open Space, I’ll close with some of the things that I’m bringing with me into this new year and decade. Things that will help me to show up fully in this year of 20/20 vision : agency, grace, and the principle of the law of two feet.

What things are you bringing with you into this new year and new decade?

Until next time…

..from my soul to yours,

Maria


*Fika for Your Soul* is about connecting with inspiration from everyday situations and conversations. It’s about discovery, reflection, leaning into, and stretching beyond…how we may see, understand, and express freedom, exploration, and leadership (among other things), all in the context of our daily lives. Fika (pronounced ‘Feeka’) is Swedish and means taking a [coffee/tea] break.

Meet your Freedom Zone

Welcome to the latest wave of *Fika for Your Soul*!

Let me set the stage. At the time I’m writing this, we’re gearing up to Christmas. Some will celebrate massively, others not so much. I fall in the latter category. By choice.

For me, the Christmas and New Year season is an opportunity to rest, to create space, to catch-up, to prepare for the new year. Living in a different country than my family, there’s always a balancing between traveling to visit family and friends (which will be full-on), or wishing my friends and family Merry Christmas from afar and carving out some much needed time and space for rest and recharge.

My decision and choice not to see family over Christmas used to come with heavy feelings of guilt. I know my parents would love me to visit, yet they respect my need and desire to take a break during Christmas. So, I’ve learned not to feel guilty about my choice. Instead of Christmas, I visit them in Nov/Dec and then again in Jan/Feb, when the madness and leftovers from the holiday season are long gone.

So, what’s this thing about ‘Freedom Zone’? What is it, and what it may look like?

I’ll tell you in a minute.

As you may have gathered, my top value – my main motivation – is FREEDOM. I feel a deeply rooted peace, and my whole being is sighing with relief when I connect with the energy of freedom and what it means to me.

The pull towards freedom doesn’t come from a need to escape or run away from things. The motivation runs deeper than that, beyond any surface level challenges or opportunities that may present themselves in my life. It’s on the soul level.

I believe that there are two landscapes to freedom: the INNER and the OUTER.

…The INNER landscape contains the building blocks that help us in the external world. It contains characteristics and strengths. Understanding how we perceive our sense of freedom internally can equip us with most of what is needed to be a great leader in life.

…The OUTER landscape is our lived experience of freedom. If we understand our map to freedom, and what it means to us, then we have a map to help us navigate life. 

“Inner and outer freedom exists when we have access to what makes us tick. When we have a framework in place that supports our growth, evolution, and explorations in life.

My version of freedom…?

Mmm…it includes having the freedom to choose, to be who I am, to take responsibility for who I am, to be curious, and to operate beyond constricting boundaries and expectations – mine and others.

You see, FREEDOM fires me up. It makes me want to take action, to change, to grow, to evolve. It connects me to instinct and deeper wisdom, to inspiration, awareness, and autonomy. It expands my perspective and it keeps me on my toes.

So, what’s a ‘Freedom Zone’?

A Freedom Zone is a space for exploration and expansion. We all have one.

If you’ve never thought about it before, this is a chance to get acquainted. If the concept is new to you, I invite you to sit with the question, “What does my Freedom Zone look like?”.

What’s coming to you?

There are no right or wrong answers. Only what matters to you.

Some of you will know that the theme for me this year is ‘showing up fully’. This means having the confidence, clarity, and courage to walk my talk, to walk my own path.

When I do this, I know that I’m in my Freedom Zone, the zone where I’m in alignment, in balance, and where I experience meaning, fulfilment, and deep joy.

I’ve got 30+ years of experience from business operations in the high-tech electronics industry. About 15 years ago I recognised that something was missing. I was living my life based on other people’s ideas, not my own. I gave myself permission to explore my Freedom Zone. I’ve learned what it looks like and what makes it ‘hum’. My Christmas break is part of this. Taking it one step further and actually living in it has been a great pleasure over the last 15 years.

Rediscovering and consciously sculpting and cultivating my Freedom Zone is a continuous journey. The purpose of knowing what your Freedom Zone looks like is to help you stand strong in what you care deeply about and who you are in this phase of your life. It doesn’t have to have a focus on spirituality. Your Freedom Zone is your Freedom Zone, no matter what it looks like.

My wish for you is that you’ll take the opportunity to explore what your Freedom Zone looks like, so that you can live your life with confidence, clarity, and contentment, and be fully connected to all that you are.

Until next time…

..from my soul to yours,

Maria


*Fika for Your Soul* is about connecting with inspiration from everyday situations and conversations. It’s about discovery, reflection, leaning into, and stretching beyond…how we may see, understand, and express freedom, exploration, and leadership (among other things), all in the context of our daily lives. Fika (pronounced ‘Feeka’) is Swedish for taking a [coffee/tea] break.

Photo by Fuu J on Unsplash

Three keys to overturning blind spots

Welcome to the latest wave of *Fika for Your Soul*!

Some of you know that ‘showing up fully’ is a theme for me this year. And looking at what’s going on around us, the world at large seems to be pointing in a similar direction…to how it’s time for humanity to show up.

My definition of showing up fully includes having the confidence, clarity, and courage to forge my own path, to walk my own way. When I do that, I know that I’m in my freedom zone—the zone where I’m in alignment and in balance, and where I experience meaning, fulfillment, and delight.

A new opportunity to show up further appeared the other day and inspired what I’m sharing with you now. It’s linked to the human propensity for making decisions ahead of time, the deals we make with ourselves, and how these paint our freedom zone a certain way….

I’m the reflective type. In preparation for a session with coach Alex I pondered what was at the top of the list, what wanted to be the entry point for our upcoming conversation. For all the previous sessions, I had known in advance what wanted to be looked at.

This time…

Nothing. Nada. Crickets.

I was bewildered. There are plenty of topics to talk about, but, somehow, nothing came to the forefront.

It felt like a vacuum. At a loss, and being possibly somewhat unorthodox, at the time of our call I invited coach Alex to provide a doorway.

I was confused (and a bit frustrated) by how ‘blank’ I felt and how everything we approached seemed like decoys. Then, BOOM! After almost an hour, we stumbled upon a blind spot that has been ducking attention for decades.

It became clear to me that I’ve been operating with a ‘retreat’ tactic from an early age. I heard myself say that I’m afraid of sensory overload and so in any situation where that may be a possibility, I retreat in advance. Or put another way, I create an energetic boundary that keeps me from experiencing said sensory overload.

I’ve gotten so used to doing this for myself that I never ask if it’s needed. It happens automatically.

For me, the magnitude of this discovery is enormous.

I get why it happened way back when. It was a means to protect myself at a time when I didn’t know how else to handle what was going on and I made a deal with myself that retreating was the best way to cope.

At the end of the coaching session it became clear why I had felt so ‘blank’, why I had been unable to provide an entry point for our conversation. I’d embodied the very thing that was ready to be found!

Yep. Somehow, the avoidance pattern had queued itself up to be discovered and my embodying it— by going blank—was the clue. How weird and wonderful!

As coach Alex and I named this tactic that wanted to be found, I could feel things shift. Still, I was a bit bewildered by how this would affect my daily life. Then a dear friend, upon hearing about this weird and wonderful call, helped this discovery to land.

My friend said something along the lines of, “Wow, Maria, what if this tactic hadn’t been…!”

I so appreciate her saying this as it helped me feel what is now possible. It isn’t about what could have been or what I may have missed out on. That isn’t what she meant. It’s about what’s now possible as I step into situations with a different presence and awareness.

Don’t get me wrong, the sensory overload is a real thing. However, instead of deciding in advance that that’s what’s going to happen, from here on I will check in with myself. That way, my ‘retreat tactic’ blind spot won’t have the power to blind me.

Let me close by sharing three things that can help you recognize, and see through, blind spots. None are rocket science, just helpful reminders.

…Be aware of situations, scenarios, or circumstances where you may have auto-pilot switched on. Could there be a blind spot in there somewhere?

…Remember to check in with yourself. Ask yourself the question, “What’s my confidence, clarity, and courage level right now?”

…Ask someone you trust to reflect back what they see. Do they notice certain patterns or behaviour that you are unaware of?

I hope this has been helpful. In terms of my own discovery, I’m still surprised at how this one almost got away. How tricky it was to catch it, and how incredibly deeply it had nested itself into my everyday. As this continues to unravel, my guess is that I’ll be given opportunities to come back to this topic again.

..from my soul to yours,

Maria

PS! I’ve mentioned the concept of a ‘freedom zone’ a few times. We all have one. If this concept is new to you, I invite you to sit with the question, “What might/does my freedom zone look like?” What comes to you? I’ll be speaking more about this in the coming few weeks. If you are intrigued and inspired, and you’d like to share, I’d love to know. 🙂


*Fika for Your Soul* is about connecting with inspiration from everyday situations and conversations. It’s about discovery, reflection, leaning into, and stretching beyond…how we may see, understand, and express freedom, exploration, and leadership (among other things), all in the context of our daily lives. Fika (pronounced ‘Feka’) is Swedish and means taking a [coffee/tea] break.

Photo by Johannes Plenio from Pexels

Three keys to keeping any type of love alive

Welcome to the latest wave of *Fika for Your Soul*!

My theme for the past week and a bit has been LOVE. And although the topic is vast, this is probably one of the shortest waves yet. 🙂

This most recent exploration started when I brought the following question to one of my sessions with coach Alex: “What does love look like at this point in my life?”.

Being a somewhat biggish question…it felt like throwing myself in at the deep end. Plus, I had no idea where the question would take me.

For me, this question goes beyond romantic love. Although it started in the personal sphere, it’s just as relevant for personal and professional relationships as it is for my relationship with the world at large.

Knowing what I know about myself, my lifestyle, and my approach to life… How do I characterise LOVE? What does it mean to me? How do I know when it’s present? What’s important?

Being an ongoing exploration, there’s no definitive answer yet…

…but summarising the outcome of my coaching session (and taking it beyond just describing what love looks like), I have identified three things that I consider important to keeping any type of love alive:

  • Openness to see a different and wider perspective.
  • Laughing with someone and laughing at ourselves.
  • Willingness to expand beyond what we know.

I bring this list to you today because the world we live in is growing seemingly more bizarre every day. I think it’s safe to say that many of us find our jaws dropping almost daily in response to what we see happening in the world around us.

I read Brené Brown’s recent blogpost, “Doubling Down on Love” this morning. Lots of goodness, but one key takeaway: whether we feel fearful, angry, or frustrated with the world at large, approaching any action or reaction with an energy of love will power a constructive momentum. Brené ends her post: “We have to live love to give love.” Awesomely true.

My list of three keys to keeping love alive — openness to a wider perspective, a shared gift of laughter, and willingness to learn — opens a door to keeping an open mind, forgiveness, and compassion. I consider these three nuggets a way to show love to self, to those we come into contact with in our everyday lives, and to the world at large. They’re one way to keep the energy of love, any type of love, alive.

How do you feel about these three keys to keeping love alive? Is there something you would add?

..from my soul to yours,

Maria


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*Fika for Your Soul* is about connecting with inspiration from everyday situations and conversations. It’s about discovery, reflection, leaning into, and stretching beyond…how we may see, understand, and express freedom, exploration, and leadership (among other things), all in the context of our daily lives. Fika (pronounced ‘Feka’) is Swedish and means taking a [coffee/tea] break.

Image courtesy Pexels and Pixabay.