Loving Life Blog

Spur of the Moment Reflections

Dandy Dandelion July 24, 2009

Filed under: Inspiration,Johanna Nilsson,Loving Life — Johanna C. Nilsson @ 7:48 pm
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The last brushstroke got done on my own little summerhouse (for now). It’s beautiful. Such a treat. I am enjoying every second in it. Right now I am hearing the rain pouring, the wind blowing and the waves from the bay. It’s pitch dark outside – strange in the middle of the summer in Sweden. Must be the clouds of course. And it’s midnight.

I have given this little house different nicknames. Pärlan (the pearl) and Smultronstället (Wild Strawberry Place) in particular. After having assembled the lamp “Maskros” from IKEA today, which became the “dot over the i” (the finishing touch which makes something  perfect) in the glass room outside the 10 square meter house overlooking the bay, it was clear: the name of this place will be given after the lamp. Dandelion. Dandy Dandelion.

The meaning of Maskros will never be the same again.


clipped from www.ikea.com
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3 Swedish Radio Hits July 23, 2009

Filed under: Inspiration,Johanna Nilsson,Loving Life,Yoga — Johanna C. Nilsson @ 4:23 am

I heard a discussion about vacations on the radio the other day. The lady who was interviewed always went for reading vacations to a sunny beach with a carry on suitcase filled with books. That way she could experience everything under the sun that she wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. My vacation so far has more been like a work camp with gourmet food and great company, or … yoga retreat. I have listened a lot to the radio, and there are three hits that seem to reoccur constantly:

1. I’m in love in a fairy tale by Alexander Rybak. I guess there is no secret that all Swedes secretly love the Eurovision Song Contest. This years winning song from Norway goes warm on the radio all day long. Last week when the singer Alexander performed at the Allsång på Skansen (Sing Along at Skansen) in Stockholm it also seemed like all Swedish girls are in love in a certain Norwegian fairy tail…

2. Hope and Glory with Måns Zelmerlöw, the Swedish counterpart who apparently also competed with this song in the Swedish Song Contest, but didn’t quite make it to first place. “Don’t stop – I’m still standing for hope and glory, I’ll be fighting for my love story, I’m still standing for hope and glory now. All the battles I lost and the battles I won, this will be the one, this will be the one…” Looking at youtube I find that also Måns apeared at the Sing Along at Skansen – this video made me laugh out loud – it shows more how a classical catchy “schlager” song would be back in the days when I would have recorded the program, written down all the lyrics, learned the choreography and dreamt of winning the contest (and that is a looong time ago… – still dreaming though 😉 ). See here for the 3rd and more soft version:

3. Radio ad for Bauhaus – I can do it myself. Or is it that they talk about the ads for Bauhaus and make parody of the painted idyll picture and a comparison of the families and couples who dogged maintain their summerhouses because they should be able to do it themselves… This week my mom and I have done it ourselves. I found myself standing in a backbend leaning out of the window towards the water grabing in the windowframe inside in order not to fall out, reaching higher, stretching my other arm, raising up in relevé in order to paint the whole area on the facade above the window and under the roof. The pose made me think of my yoga teacher back in San Francisco, Rusty Wells. I heard his voice, as he often state when we are in the more advanced unfomfortable poses: “if I took a photo of you now and sent to your mother she should not be afraid that you were dying – SMILE!” So I smiled. And my mom took a photo. If this had been at a yoga retreat they would have called it karma yoga, I’m sure.

This was a litle report from Sweden, or as they say on the radio show from Minnesota: “the land where the men are beautiful, the women are strong, and all children above average”…



Sunsets are overrated July 20, 2009

Filed under: Inspiration — Johanna C. Nilsson @ 2:23 pm
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Someone told me once “Äh, sunsets are overrated. If you’ve seen one, then you’ve seen them all!” Ja, ja – I know – it was a joke. If you haven’t seen this one… here you go. The view from my summer house deck. Enjoy.



To Talk, or not to Talk – That’s the Question July 19, 2009

Filed under: Entrepreneur,Inspiration — Johanna C. Nilsson @ 3:21 am
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I have for the longest time walked around with this splendid business idea in my mind, without having much time to act on it, and without sharing it with others thinking it may be stolen… it is after all in the same class as Carnegie Hall!

After having opened up a little bit I have realized that it is pretty powerful to actually talk about it… I have:

  1. started to realize “what sticks” and what not, and for whom
  2. identified additional user segments
  3. gotten support and references to people, books and resources
  4. a pool of potential test users and advocates
  5. received input or “wish list” on additional applications or functions
  6. more energy and inspiration to realize the idea from seeing others light up when they hear about it

Now, I think it would be wise to select the group you do share your ideas with. At least make a conscious decision who you don’t share it with. I had a session with a Genius at the Apple store fixing something with my computer, and was curious about the Mac World conference to take place in San Francisco. Would that be something for me? I told him briefly that I have this idea of a software that I think will be a standard application on Mac in the future. “Oh”, he said, “just submit your idea here on the website – Apple would be very keen to hear about it.” Yeah right, I might be blond – but not that blond.

How did I come to think about this? I had my dear friends Jonatan and Maria Kruse visiting the summerhouse over the weekend, and the topic came up for discussion. Thank you Maria – I think your wish list of functions was what was missing in order to hook up the younger generation! Soon I will need some really technical savvy guys, or gals!

One step forward… enjoy the rest of the weekend!



The Art of Making Out! July 16, 2009

When I was on vacation in Sweden two years ago, I went into my mom’s office at one point to use her phone. While being on the phone my eyes swiped over the desk, and there was a book with the title “Hångla mer!” MOM! What is she reading?! She being a fairly conservative Medical Doctor and politician, that title surprised me quite a bit. Or maybe it was me being conservative?! I learnt that she got it as a gift from work, and it pretty much was mandatory reading during the vacation. Pfizer, as many other companies, had hired the audience celebrated author Klas Hallberg as a motivational speaker.

I started reading the book and didn’t put it aside until finished. Very entertaining, thought provoking and inspiring. And I am so excited – it’s about to be published in English! “The Art of Making Out!” Click here to read the first chapters.

In this book, what I’m inviting you to do is to understand “making out”
more as a symbolic expression of surrendering yourself to a juicier
experience of life.

It’s a metaphor for letting go.

The thesis of this book is that letting go is the meaning of life itself.

To make out.

To let go.

Hook, line and sinker.

To experience both grief and joy. Both pleasure and pain

Experience life fully. Your way. Let go, dare to be disappointed and go for your dream… otherwise you will never have a chance to enjoy it.

Do you want to enjoy the full version of “The Art of Making Out!” and Klas Hallberg live in the US? – LET ME KNOW! We’ll send him a collective invitation. Sign up your company, sign up your parents, your partner and yourself. Did you read the first chapters? Do it. And I am serious, let me know through my contact page or comment below.

Let’s dare to be disappointed… and enjoy!

[Update: the first chapter is not still available – but the full book is! Get it here. Enjoy.]


Kill Everyone! – Curiosity is Golden July 14, 2009

Filed under: Inspiration — Johanna C. Nilsson @ 2:14 pm

I am off for vacation. On the airplane from Philadelphia to Stockholm there is a young, dark longhaired guy sitting next to me. Quite thin, with wild grown beard, black t-shirt – looks like a hard rocker. Seems very quiet, calm and focused.  Then he reaches for a book and put in his lap – I could not avoid capturing the title: “KILL EVERYONE”. WHO IS THIS GUY!?

Have you made up your story already?

This was a Swedish professional poker player from a tiny town in Småland on the way back from the World Championship of Poker in Vegas. He couldn’t wait to get back home, to cook some proper food – home made meatballs with boiled potatoes and lingonberry sauce. A door to a new world was opened to me, and the questions were poring…

Apparently there were 6494 competing poker players in Vegas. The cost to enter the competition was $10,000, and the winner this year would bring home the pot of $8.5M. A little less than normal, not as many players this year. Among the players were many low and high profile poker players, also professional athletes and other celebrities like Shannon Elizabeth from American Pie (who would think?!). The oldest participant was a local Vegas man at the age of 96. He made it through the 2nd day just like my neighbor Daniel, and that means 2 days of 12 executive hours focused poker play. Daniel had qualified through a tournament, and was given a package with a suite on the 52nd floor and helicopter tour over the main avenue. The lady at the check-in thought he had a fake ID and that he didn’t even had the age to stay there. I didn’t quite agree with that.

How did it all start? Daniel was working as an electrical engineer and heard about these people making a lot of money on poker, a game he had played for a long time and enjoyed. He got curious and wanted to find out how it all worked, and started to study it – everything he could find about it, as if it was any other high school education. He invested a year of salary playing and loosing, before he became a winning player. About 80% of all the players loose. Last year was the second year of playing and he made his first million – during the best couple of weeks he won as much as I earn in a year, post tax. Although – in the “tax paradise” Sweden, earning money on poker is treated as if you win on lottery – so it is not taxed. Apparently, one of the individuals who have won the most (about $10M) on Internet poker is a 21-year-old guy from Stockholm.

So how does the “work/life” balance look like?  Work days Monday – Friday he plays poker from home on internet from 9am to 4/5pm where he tries to keep 12 hands going at the same time, and then he participates in some big tournaments Sunday nights. On the free time hang out with friends that are more into hard rock. There is always someone who wants to join for the travels to competitions all around the world, where he goes maybe once a month or every other month. Not bad I must say…

And what is the lesson here for me? Maybe I should test my talent in poker – it sounds like it could provide the type of flexibility of location that I am looking for. :O Or maybe not. No, I think the lesson is more connected with curiosity. Curiosity and courage to find out about the path that you want to take in your world. Curiosity to get to know the people you meet. It is so easy to make judgments, assume things and stay on your side, but we have all so vastly different life experience and so much to learn from each other, so the gift from being curious may totally bring you out of your box and get a new reference of life.

By the way, before I forget to mention it – “Kill Everyone” is of course a very advanced poker strategy book. Nothing else.


Join the fight! July 8, 2009

Filed under: coaching — Johanna C. Nilsson @ 4:50 am
Tags: ,

Yesterday we had a grand celebration at Élan together with Johnson & Johnson. J&J had agreed to invest $1B in Élan and partner in our efforts and join the fight to cure Alzheimer’s.

The presentation was very well delivered, the atmosphere was up beat, and the future is promising. All in all very exciting times. What stroke me the most was the presence of our CEO Kelly Martin. Here is someone who came on board 7 years ago, not long after me, in times where the company was bleeding big time. He executed extremely well back then to get us out of the crisis. The third deep dip happened end of last year. The fact that the market was down didn’t help. There was a nasty storm of critics around Kelly Martin and he was even appointed “The worst Biopharma CEO 2008”. You can say what you want about his leadership, all I know is that he was not alone and it is difficult as a leader to cover all fronts. I must say, what comes across very strongly is a clear focus on the stake: making a difference in patient’s life and meet unmet needs. It is probably the focus on that stake and continuous execution towards it that made him come out tall from this storm too.

In the evening I sat watching the covering of the memorial service of Michael Jackson. “Heal the world. Let’s make this a better place. For you and for me and the entire human race…” We all do what we can to make the better for ourselves, our immediate surrounding and in a bigger perspective. Michael Jackson made a huge contribution in many ways. The deal with Élan and J&J is a win-win-win situation for Élan, J&J and our patients with families. The research and clinical studies that we have in the pipeline have huge potential. The “leader stake” is clear: making a difference in the lives of patients and their families by bringing innovations in science to fill significant unmet medical needs.

What is your leader stake? What impact do you want to have in your world – small or big?
My stake right here and now is to share the joy (and if you read the end of the post “And the winner is…” you’ll get some more flavor to it.)

If you know someone with Alzheimer’s – please inform your self by clicking the icon below, share the information and join the fight if you find appropriate.

clipped from elan.com
Alzheimer's join the fight
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Sweat Your Prayers! July 6, 2009

Filed under: Health,Inspiration — Johanna C. Nilsson @ 9:43 pm
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What a weekend. It’s such a treat to have really good friends. Even better to have them nearby. Even if it’s just for a couple of days. My room mate from 10 years back when I lived in Geneva and her boyfriend came visiting. They were up for an American experience… sort of.

The first thing I take them to is my favorite French restaurant Gamine (prev. Chez Maman). There are so many great restaurants in San Francisco – but whenever I get someone close for a visit that’s where I steer my steps. It’s warm, familiar, friendly, intimate, fun – great owners and great steak. The menu worked out perfectly for vegetarians too we learnt.

And so comes 4th of July! How American can it be?? Beautiful weather, sun was shining, and jazz tunes were playing at the Fillmore Jazz Festival. We got a chance to take a photo shot with Obama. The big question was – where are all the flags?!!? We really had to look for them – oops, and there was one! The one who searches he will find… 





Finally!The one who seeks he finds...!
Celebrating the actual independance day on a boat with a melting pot of nationalities, right by Pier 39, with the best view of the fireworks – that’s how good it gets. Thank you Einar for hosting!  


In order to calm our mind and deepen the experience I took them to something very “Californian” Sunday morning. Sweat Your Prayers! – Five Rhythm [The Wave] Moving Meditation Practice. We arrive at the gymnastic hall in Sausalito where it takes place. You need to be there an hour in advance to guarantee a spot – the two 2-hour sessions for 150 people each do get sold out. There is a beautiful crowd of people, from all different paths of life. By the entrance sits a group singing to the guitar “… love is our religion…”   

The intention for the day was Celebrating the Freedom of Movement. The medicine of the dance. To move through limitations of our body. And to celebrate the near and dear who have left us, celebrate that they are no longer captured in their bodies. The moving meditation begins. The wave created with the different rhythms is impactful and the experience is profound. The joy is present. At some point it feels like this would be the best warm-up for the carnival in Rio. But what do I know – I haven’t been there yet. Maybe it’s the other way around! :O “This was a very personal experience. A very special souvenir that I will bring back from San Francisco.” was the comment from my friend. 

After Dim Sums in China town, shopping around Union Square and visit to the Apple Flagship store we go for dinner at Café Gratitude, another local special. Vegan, live food. River of Abundance game. Everywhere on the walls is artwork with different special messages. “What you choose to focus on creates the experience. Choice Choice Choice…. ”  All the menu items are in the form of affirmations – we had among other items “I am rejuvenated”, “I am succulent” and “I am cheerful!”. It was a very cheerful day indeed. 

Coming home today, the house was empty. My friends had left. I walked into the kitchen to make myself some tea and cereal for a light dinner. Opens the cupboard and finds a new green cereal bowl! With the text in it: “What are you grateful for?” Imagine looking down in that bowl during breakfast every morning. What would you say?

I am truly grateful for dear friends. Thank you Simone and Ramun.



What are you Grateful for?

What are you grateful for?



Walking the Talk – Declaring the Independence! July 4, 2009

Filed under: coaching,Entrepreneur,Inspiration,Swedish-American — Johanna C. Nilsson @ 7:06 am
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As you may know, if you read my prior post, I gave my #1 tip to break a bad habit: Make it public! 

“In order to break a bad habit you need to make it public! Broadly. It’s just like creating something positive, making a dream happen. Make yourself heard, let people know what you are up to and repeat it many times – that will make it real.”

This was published by the Toilet Paper Entrepreneur (TPE) along with 38 other tips three days ago. Next thing I know, I get an invitation to participate in the “Business Independence Declaration” blog post, in support and celebration of the independence day. So how can I not? Let’s make it public!:

Freedom of Creation

I declared my own independence by resigning from my full time work in finance* that I enjoy, to start a business that I love.  I am now creating a lifestyle that I dreamed of – creating, promoting, and coaching others to do the same – and I am darn proud of it. Skål and happy July 4th!

The lifestyle that I am about to create will bridge the gap in-between Sweden and where I live. It will allow me to be more free in terms of where I spend my time in order to still live my life where ever it takes me, work with what I love AND be present with my family in good and bad times. Many individuals reach this when they are retired. I want to do it while my parents are retired and my nephew is still a baby. I love you!

I missed the deadline for the TPE post – but do read the full list and get inspired by clicking here. What would be your declaration of independence? And what will it be next year? 😉 Nudge, nudge…

Happy July 4th everyone!

*I have committed to stay on the team until October 31 to work with next years budget. If you know of a company that is either related to Sweden and San Francisco/CA/US or flexible in terms of location, seeking a partner and seem to fit my personality and expertise – please let me know! 


39 Ways How To Break Bad Habits July 2, 2009

I was asked by The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur (TPE) to provide my number one input on “How to break a bad habit”, to change something that stops you in your life. That I did, and you can click here to see the full list – I am number 25.

Alternatively, you can search on “how to break a bad habit fast” were the article snuck up on the front page on Google! (Ha! I guess that was only for a day – I tried it now and it wasn’t… must figure out how this all works…) Now anyway – that is pretty cool, first week of being public with my blog. I guess, that is what happens when you give to others – what goes around comes around. You may have seen the reference to TPE in my previous post Detected.

So now I am really curious – what is your number one tip on breaking a bad habit? Or what is the number one bad habit you will break?



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