Loving Life Blog

Spur of the Moment Reflections

Begin Again January 13, 2011

1.11.11 Begin Again. If you would write a new chapter in your life…

Herringbone path

THERE’S A HOLE IN MY SIDEWALK – Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
By Portia Nelson

Chapter 1

I walk down the street.

There is a hole in the sidewalk.

I fall in. I am lost. I am helpless.

It isn’t my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter 2

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again.

I can’t believe I am in the same place.

But it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter 3

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it is there. I still fall in. It’s a habit.

My eyes are open. I know where I am.

It is my fault. I get out immediately.

Chapter 4

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.

Chapter 5

I walk down another street.

 

…. what would be the different path you would take this year? This quarter? This month? This Week? Today? Starting now? Just do it. Try it. What’s the worst that can happen? Or the best…? ;)

Enjoy,

Johanna

 

Everything is Waiting for You June 3, 2010

I just finished a coaching call that had such a nice flavor. There was a calm peaceful clarity over the whole situation, role of self and the path forward.

One of the relief’s in the process for the client was the knowing of not being alone with the situation, the experience, the thoughts. That was probably the first step in breaking down one barrier after another to break free and get going on the path of creating what he wanted.

Witnessing the sense of freedom coming from the client, sticking hole in the bubble initially surrounding the old “reality” that no longer exist, is to me so beautiful and quite awesome actually. It makes my whole being smile.

After the session was over I came across a very nice and suiting piece from youtube on Facebook pointing out just that: Your great mistake is to act the drama as if you were alone.

This is an invitation to poetry as a life savior by David Whyte. An invitation to pay attention in a greater way. Everything is waiting for you.

Enjoy,

Johanna

 

Here is Your Life March 6, 2010

I came back from another movie by Jan Troell last night. The Spirit Awards that took place in Los Angeles had nominated the previous film I saw, “Everlasting Moments” for “Best Foreign film” – but Jan Troell himself was present with us in San Rafael.

The movie “Here is your life” (1966), taking place in the early 20th century was based on Eyvind Johnson’s semi-bioautographical books. The film was mainly in black and white and almost 3 hours long, with a built in 10 minutes break. Here are three things that stood out for me in the movie:

1) Business practice reminder. Olof, 16, was about to bike away to set up posters for the next movie at the Cinema graphic Theatre – the owner leans out the window and shouts, “The life of the nation is business! I want you to wear tie – remember that you represent the business.”

Not only is it important that you make sure your employees/colleagues have the same values and represent the company in a unified way – ultimately, you would also want to make sure that your 3rd parties represent the same values. That stroke me earlier this week when I went to yoga. Stressed from not finding parking and eventually finding out about the deal the yoga studio have with a garage close by, I pull up by the entrance to get a ticket by the gatekeeper. That man said “Welcome to your yoga practice” in a way and with a warm smile, so that I felt as if I had already come to the yoga studio. Brilliant. I’d be happy to park there again.

2) Make the Dream significant. As a special effect in the movie, there was a reoccurring sequence of a flying bird with a colored background, which gave a contrast to the otherwise black and white picture. In the Q&A Jan Troell gave the explanation why. The color was a symbol for the dream; the bird was a symbol for Olof’s longing for a new life and freedom; for this boy becoming an author or writer.

Intentional dreaming is powerful. Eyvin Johnson grew up from the working class up north, to receiving the Nobel price in literature 1974.

3) Freeze the frame. In a bicycle lecture scene John Troell had chosen to include a series of frozen frames. “The expressions in the face of the girl was so fantastic and they would just disappear if you did it the normal way.”

If you experience an extraordinary moment – take some time to freeze the frame and enjoy. Take a photo or a note to self, and make the moment last.

Coming home I researched the result from the Spirit Award and came over an article from New York Times with the below photo. I can’t help believing that there is no coincidence why Jan Troell is here right now. The man behind the masterpieces “The Emigrants,” “The New Land,” “The Flight of the Eagle” based on Vilhelm Moberg’s books. Just days after a conversation with Michael E. Gerber about the above, the Law of Jante in Sweden, and the question: where did the Viking spirit go?

Looking at the photos, I believe there are more things than the hat that the two gentlemen have in common. As the last comment was at the Q&A last night: “Jan Troell brings life [and soul] to the movie, and to us”. I would say: “Michael E. Gerber brings life and soul to business, and to us.”

If I can bring just a little bit of joy and love of [or in – or both?!] life to you – I would be happy. Ultimately, I would love for you to capture your journey. Here is your life.

Stay tuned,
Johanna

Michael E. Gerber - Author to "Awakening the Entrepreneur Within"

Michael E. Gerber, author of The E-myth and Awakening the Entrepreneur Within.

Jan Troell filmin "Everlasting Moments"

Jan Troell filming "Everlasting Moments"

Johanna Nilsson and Michael E. Gerber

 

Toast for Spontaneity! November 21, 2009

I so wish I had had a camera to capture the moment… I just came home from an excellent brunch at Pamelo, a small cozy place in Noe Valley. Accompanied by Fran and Zack.

Fran I know through four different connections. She showed up at my a cappella groups concert because she knew one of the singing group members, she came with a colleague of mine and recognized me from the Nia class. Most recently I met her when she was performing in a singing workshop that I also did a couple of years ago. The world is very small. Apropos spontaneity and singing – without getting to far out from the story line – the singing workshop we both did was led by jazz, R&B and soul singer Jesse Foster. The concept is very cool – you work with Jesse as a vocal coach in individual sessions and four Sunday afternoons in a row you perform with his band at  Rasselas Jazzclub on Fillmore in the jazz district together with other vocal students of his. Prepared in the sense that you have chosen and worked on the songs to sing, spontaneous in the sense that there is no practice with the band ahead of time. You just do it. And it is fun! So talented musicians, wonderful people, supportive audience. Safe. I can warmly recommend it!  (Check out the links if you are interested to step out of the shower singing stage and do the same!) Soon you will see Fran on the music scene in San Francisco.

Zack is a multi doer. I participated in one of his first Nia classes at Dance Mission when I was just about to move to San Francisco. The theme was “Transition” – how appropriate. Today he had another excellent class – the fact that he is also an actor and brings in that spontaneous playfulness in the room makes it a lot of fun. And so to the story… towards the end of the brunch today he suddenly reaches for the spoon in my cafe latte, takes his water glass, clinks the glass while standing up. The murmur in the room stops and he has full attention: “I just want to toast for spontaneity!” he says with a steady voice and a big smile and raises the glass. Facing the wall, I’m turning around and every face in the room cracks up to a big smile and a common toast, laughter and joy.  There are many ways you can show up in life. Such a small gesture – such a great impact.

The sense of joy created in the room reminded me of the sense of joy created by the movie Validation (below). Take a moment to watch it – get inspiration and share the beauty! Who can you make smile today?

Zack and Fran, you are awesome!
Cheers,

Johanna

 

Chant Before You Can’t! October 26, 2009

Filed under: coaching,Health,Inspiration,Promotion,Swedish-American — Johanna C. Nilsson @ 11:09 pm
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Keeva! We just had the last rehearsal yesterday before our coming Friday night concert. With wide open windows after a truly hot Indian summer day in San Francisco, the neighbors across the street got a private performance.  They seemed to enjoy it as much as we – because it’s fun! Music is good for you.

There is research showing that music is good for your health and well-being. A year ago there was a World Conference on Health held in the UK that aimed to pave the way for “singing on prescription”. Earlier this year, the Swedish Medical Doctor and Professor Töres Thorell released a book on music and health. Basically – whether you attend a Bruce Springsteen concert, sing in a choir or listen to a Mozart symphony – you’ll get reduced stress, improved immune system, and a sharper mind! If you enjoy music that is. My friend said “- oh, my dad is tone death, but he loves going to the symphony hall. Yes, it’s very likely that he will fall asleep – but he still enjoys it”.

Being brought up in Sweden, where we have a song for every season, the largest per capita number of amateur choirs in the world and being the third largest music exporter in the world (surpassed only by the US and the UK) – I know that music matters. During the first dinner in San Francisco with new connections I was posed the question: “Among all the things you used to do in San Diego – what do you miss the most?” “I’m looking for a group to sing with.” “I’m part of a small group of Talisman Alumni’s from Stanford who has formed an a cappella group. We are looking for a female singer – what part are you?”… Synchronicity – I love it. And I love singing not only because I enjoy it and I feel good doing it – it is also an excellent way to meet great friends, socialize and have fun.

In a different setting – going to a yoga session that incorporates chanting gives you all that. Meeting great people, having fun, feeling good. And by no surprise – I am having Rusty Well’s yoga as my reference. Recently the session started with the chant “Loka samasta sukhino bhavantu…” [May all beings everywhere be happy and free.] But the 100 students didn’t really give it all… Have you ever experienced a hesitation to sing? Rusty goes: “Do you care about being here? Give yourself the benefit – sing! Stretch your mind, stretch your heart, stretch your voice – what happens is that you stretch your breath. Just try. You made it this long, all the way here. Tall spine close your eyes, and chant before you can’t! All right…”

So where ever it is – in the shower or in the car… chant before you can’t – or you can come and enjoy the Keeva concert this upcoming Friday. See details below!

Enjoy,

Johanna

Come hear the Richter Scales and Keeva sing an evening of “Trick or Treat A Cappella” the night before Halloween in SF’s Mission District.

The Richter Scales: So what if many of us are a decade or more past our prime? We still possess the ability to bring an audience to tears. Whether they are tears of laughter or tears of horror is another matter. You’d best hope for the laughter tears.

Keeva A Cappella: A group of SF Bay Area professionals and graduate students who have been singing world music and other culturally significant songs (e.g. “Oh Mickey you’re so fine”) for more than a decade.

Date: Friday, October 30th
Time: 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM

Place: Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez Street at 23rd, San Francisco 
Price: Free for folks in costume; suggested $7 donation for all others
Food: Various tricks and treats will be available

All ages are welcome. We’ll have candy for folks who want to warm up their trick-or-treating muscles. Costume-wearers welcome.

And as a bonus – why not use music changing one or two habbits?

 

Risen From the Dead October 3, 2009

Filed under: coaching,Health,Inspiration — Johanna C. Nilsson @ 12:22 pm
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“I am in a dead man’s pose – not by choice. I agree that relaxation is important. We take too little time to do that in our everyday living. However, what is the recommendation for the opposite situation? When you are stuck in a “dead man” situation and can’t move out of it? Is there a…pose?…for getting yourself moving again? Energizing your brain? Stimulating your thinking to maximum creativity instead of numbness?”

This was a comment from Hannah on my previous postings “When Life Gets Busy” and “Dead Man Attracts Love“. There were 3 distinct actions that came to my mind as a response:

1. Stimulating the thinking – Yes! – The Artist Way

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is a process that will unleash your creativity, and you can make it into a really nice routine. Read about the two basic tools here – they are 1. Morning Pages and 2. The Artist Date. I had heard about The Artist Way several times before, bought the book a couple of years ago, and kept seeing quotes from it (still do today) everywhere – during the passed spring a decided from curiosity to give it a shot – what could come out of it?

As often as I could I started the morning with making myself a cup of tea and a toast (or Wasa Hard bread with Swedish cheese!;), put some nice meditative music on in the back-ground, removed the blinds so I could see the sun rise over the skyline, and sat down comfortably in my reading chair by the window and wrote the 3 morning pages. You are supposed to just write whatever is on your mind, don’t stop and it doesn’t need to make sense, and what ever you write – you are not supposed to go back and read it. 3 pages. 12 weeks. Or however long you want; once you started you may want to continue.

The second tool is the Artist Date. Set a date with yourself once a week and do something that feeds your soul. It could be anything. Visit a museum, hike in the nature, enjoy a concert, paint a painting, cook food, dance on the roof… create a Burning Man Art Car! :O

All I know is – had I not gone through that process – this blog had not been created. Not that fast. ;) I knew I wanted to do it – just not how and exactly about what. And voila! Here it is. What would come out from your creative self?

2. Self-Healing Ritual to get moving – Nia and the 5 Stages

Nia is an expressive workout and lifestyle practice that uses the body’s way to achieve physical, mental, emotional and spiritual fitness and well-being. It combines the grace and spontaneity of dance, the power and explosiveness of martial art and the stillness and concentration of yoga and tai chi. One of the components of the healing art movement forms included is the Feldenkrais Method, which inspired the 5 stages exercise.

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Nia 5 stages
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The Nia 5 Stages is an integrative movement practice based on the five stages of human development: Embryonic, Creeping, Crawling, Standing and Walking. Practiced with awareness, these stages have the power to facilitate optimal alignment, improved function and comfort in the body. Whether practiced at length or for as little as five minutes a day, this system provides a tool for reclaiming and sustaining mobility, flexibility, strength, agility and stability.

Basically, the story I remember was that Moshé Feldenkrais became immobile and reached self-healing by studying newborn babies, observing how they with very fine movements become aware of their bodies, muscles and bones, and gradually increase their ability to move and develop as human beings. Imagine that you are a baby in the womb of your mother. Supported, warm, fed. Moving in water. Use your imagination, be curious about your body, explore and seak awareness of all parts and see what you need to do to move through the five stages above. What are the emotions that arise in the different stages? The Nia Technique book elaborate a little bit on the excursive on page 306-308 for further reference.

This was one of the most profound exercises during my Nia White Belt teacher training in San Diego. Today Nia have developed a certification program for this movement practice alone!  If you want to find out more about that or to find a class in your area – check out the Nia website. This passed Monday Nia was featured in San Francisco Chronicle. I just need to add – Nia needs to be experienced to get it. For those of you who live in San Francisco – go to the Nia Jam tomorrow Oct 4th at UC Berkeley. Soon I will arrange for my favorite teacher Rocco from San Diego to come up and teach – that will be another treat.

And by the way – the five stages are pretty much as the reversed evolution of a photographer below… add that exercise and you can loop back in!

3. Pose that can bridge to action

The more advanced pose after bridge pose is the Upward Bowl or Wheel Pose: Urdhva Dhanurasana. I hear Rusty’s comments from the evening yoga classes “if you don’t won’t to stay up late tonight, don’t do this one [pose], it will give you energy”. Now, I don’t recommend to go straight into an upward bowl pose – the you can risk being stuck in a dead man’s pose even longer – but incorporate the pose in your daily yoga routine. Starting out with warming up your body in a few sun salutations would probably be a nice segway.

Here are the benefits that the Yoga Journal lists for the Upward Bowl pose:

  • Strengthens the arms and wrists, legs, buttocks, abdomen, and spine
  • Stretches the chest and lungs
  • Stimulates the thyroid and pituitary
  • Increases energy and counteracts depression
  • Therapeutic for asthma, back pain, infertility, and osteoporosis

These would be my personal tips and recommendations for a roadmap back to creativity, healing and activity. However, we are all different, and the bottom line is to listen to your body, get active your body’s way, and do what feeds your soul.

And finally, to rise from a Dead Man’s Pose: roll over to your right, put your right arm under your head for support and bend your knees in a comfortable position. Rest here for a while. Take a moment to think of an individual in your surrounding to whom you would dedicate your yoga practice, or for whom you would want to rise up, be present with and support. Slowly – your body’s way – bring your self up to a seated and standing position. Thank you for being here. Now, the practice of yoga begins – bring it to the world!

Enjoy,
Johanna

clipped from lh3.ggpht.com
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From American Idiot to Great American… September 19, 2009

Filed under: coaching,Entrepreneur,Swedish-American — Johanna C. Nilsson @ 1:30 pm
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I had the privilege to get tickets to the World Premier of the Rock Opera “American Idiot”, based on the hit album by Green Day of the same name. It was a tempo filled performance at Berkley Repertory Theater Wednesday night by a very talented group of musical artists. The anticipation was high, the house was full and the standing ovations rocking. So was the opening party. I can warmly recommend the show!

You may recognize this song, Boulevard of Broken Dreams:

However, American idiots and broken dreams were not what I intended to write about – rather the contrary. Something that captures the spirit of the American Dream. One lesson the entrepreneur & CEO freedom fighter Christine Comaford learnt by Bill Gates in terms of growing a business, reducing risk and securing revenue was “Sell first, build later”. Ask provocative questions and find the need of your individual clients. Find the pain of the clients, come up with and sell the solution that will remove it. Know that you with your commitment, capability and connections can make it happen.

You could also market your idea and create a buzz before it actually has been materialized. One individual who did just that was the now entrepreneur and CEO Coach Mark Friedler. As an exchange student [correct me if I’m wrong Mark] in Stockholm, Sweden, 22 years ago he realized in essence that Swedes “suffer from the pain” of not having American Chocolate Chip Cookies. After a successful sample test serving cookies in Humlegården, by the Royal Library in Stockholm, he happened to step into the same elevator as a visiting journalist from the Wall Street Journal. That is literally when an elevator pitch comes handy! Sharing his story resulted in the below notice in the WSJ and later on the creation of what today still exist as American Cookies in Gallerian in Stockholm.

Mark was this weeks keynote speaker at the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce (SACC) San Francisco/Silicon Valley’s monthly luncheon with the topic “10 tools to grow your bottom line”. Life was too busy to let you know ahead of time – but keep your eyes open, I’m sure he will appear elsewhere. The next mothts speaker will be the founder of Craigslist!

What is the pain that you can identify with your clients? What could you create as a solution to remove it? What do you need to do to sell it and close the deal?

I went to the concert yesterday with “The Pain of Being Pure at Heart” at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. The concert was OK, but I have secure sources that say the group will become very big, so I kept the ticket ;). I loved the facility. The promoter in me looked around with the eyes of “what event can be created here?” It would be perfect for a US release party of Spotify – I guess I should sell them the idea! Anyone wanna join?

Go painkillers!
Johanna

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