Loving Life Blog

Spur of the Moment Reflections

Time to Steal Second Base! October 30, 2009

Late night and I am reading an email from Simple Truths promoting a book with motivational quotes… and there is a selection of the 20 best.  I stripped it down to 3 – for clear reasons they spoke to me right now:

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.~Henry Ford

Makes me think back to the leadership program where we did a number of exercises that required true teamwork, creativity and persistence. Whether the task was to figure out the rules and each time we broke one we had to start over, or the rules were laid out loud and clear but the task was very difficult and each time we broke one rule we had to start over – the spoken word was “begin again!”; and that’s what we did.  (It’s like in yoga when meditating – as soon as your mind starts wondering away you tell yourself “Thinking!” and get back to focus on the breathing). Back to base line. The amount of energy that was created in the process was huge; all derived from the wanting to figure it out, to reach the finish line and make it happen. We had a purpose. And doing it over and over again creates a pattern – there wasn’t even a thought of failure – it was just a little recap and thinking and on it again! With that attitude you will reach the finish line.

You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.~Wayne Gretsky

I haven’t come across this quote before, but a close friend of mine just told it to me an hour ago. With other words, as my father said on the phone this morning: you can’t win if you don’t try.

Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.~Frederick B. Wilcox

That is so true. That quote brings me back to a couple of years ago when I wrote a proposal for a new responsibility structure for my group at work. I can smile at it now, but I was a little concerned thinking, “If I give all of these responsibilities away to my proposed direct report – what will I then do?” Did I make myself jobless? No. Did I get my plate full? Yes, and more than. Was there growth? Plenty. Was there risk? Probably not as much as I thought. But the lesson is still there – had I not created time and space by delegating responsibilities – or leaving the first base – there wouldn’t have been room to take on new responsibilities and expand the horizon with those. Which first base are you sticking to although you are long past due to move on? What is stopping you? How big is the risk really? What would the worst case look like if it didn’t work out?

You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first… my tired slightly creative mind imagine the scenario of leaving the first base, full force forward – and then half way to second base pops this question up – then what?  What if you don’t know the rules of the game? Because I clearly don’t. My friend’s comment pops up in my mind from when we played tennis in Budapest 1993 “but Johanna – this isn’t ballet” [I was just reaching with the racquet for the ball, but apparently in a ballerina fashion]… which turned my imaginary scenario into a dance – free dance. What if you really would apply the principle of Nia, to dance your body’s way? To create from nothing… or from your own core. Then it will end up like a lesson with my legendary ever so energetic and enthusiastic statistic professor from Stockholm School of Economics, who would give us a lesson on derivatives, and very involved fill the black board writing this extremely long formula from top left to bottom right three times over that magically will end up with the solution. Tada! All the students will sit there with big eyes, quietly and frenetically trying to capture everything he says and write. And Professor Håkan Lyckeborg will always end up with a big smile, turn to the students and say “Isn’t that beautiful!?” Like magic. I like it. And I do need sleep – that is important!

Last day tomorrow as full time employee. It’s time to gradually leave the first base and create space for a new. A new.

Join me on the joy ride! At least The Ride. I’ll be happy to join yours (as a cheering, loving, kick-ass coach down in the corner)!
Hold tight!
Johanna

By the way – stealing the second base was not what we ended up doing after that I posted on Facebook that Keeva was looking for bases… But we did find two great bass singers – come and hear them at the concert tomorrow!

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

 

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?

 

Cooking is an Art Not a Science October 4, 2009

Cooking is an art not a science! This was a statement that I heard (or was I told?) when spending two summers with a British family in New Jersey 91/92. And for some reason it stuck with me. Maybe because I am acutely aware that I am taking the more scientific approach when I cook… you got to start somewhere, right?

The reason why I was reminded about it this week is because I reached out to my old roommate Linda – the scientist and yet very artistic chef. I didn’t know of anyone else who could through together an excellent meal for the 20 friends of ours in a heartbeat. How often do you spontaneously invite a group of 20 – at least 10 – to a dinner in 30 minutes? She did. Several times. And it was a pleasure to be her room mate for that reason, and many many more. I reached out to her this week because I remembered the smell of the outstanding lasagna that she used to do. “Do you happen to have the recipe easily available so you can share it with me?”

Sure thing – five minutes later and I have a response in my inbox…

Lasagna: hm.. menar du en vegetarisk eller?
Röda linser (koka typ 8-10 min)
Lök
Tomatkross
kryddor efter smak 🙂 – spiskummin,salt o peppar är ju gott
Blanda dessa till en “tomat-lins-sås” som en fyllning.

Andra fyllningen kan göras på bladspenat, vitlök, Keso.
bara steka spenat o vitlök, o blanda sen i Keso.

Varva de 2 fyllningarna med lasagneplattorna, o lägg lite keso på toppen, så behövs ingen ostsås.

Done! Easy! Do you get it? Spices after taste!? “Red lentils – should it be 1-3 cans? ;)” “Ha ha! You can start with 1.5 dl dry!”

Suddenly I remembered my roommate in France, who cleary stated that she is “useless in the kitchen” before she diligently followed the recipe for chocolate balls and added “1.5 table spoon of [dry instant nes]coffee”! He laughs best who laughs last, as we say in Sweden.  That would be her now.

Being a professional living in San Francisco, with an unlimited number of decently priced outstanding restaurants, it is very easy to get a life style of eating out. Or bringing food home. Or order for delivery. The ones who are a little more conscious about what they eat and still put in the same number of ours at work, may choose the alternative of delivered food for lunch and dinner for the week (I have seen my neighbor receive that). But is there something nicer than a home cooked meal? In your own environment? Mmmmm. I so much enjoy that.

What if you are not the king or queen in the kitchen? Start explore! Get inspiration from others. I stumbled over and keep following the blog Chocolate & Zucchini. In this weeks newsletter Clotilde Dusoulier announced that she had published a translated and adapted version of the old best-seller on French home cooking from 1932: I Know How To Cook (Je Sais Cuisiner), by Ginette Mathiot. If you want to be inspired while doing it, I would warmly recommend Cooking with Julie in Napa Valley. I brought my visiting mom to the Farmers Market Tour and Cooking Class, which was excellent. You start off with a tour at the farmers market and taste and choose the ingredients for the 3-meal lunch. Have a cheese and wine tasting before you pass the bakery on the way home and cook. The Private Class for a special occasion (50th birthday for example with girlfriends) is also very nice, and a perfect gift. All in a very personal setting at the home of Julie’s. And then of course there is the Scandinavian Cooking on TV…! See here for a trailer relating to the Crayfish Party preparations with Tina. I hear the season isn’t quite over yet for that Swedish tradition. (Crayfish is still available at IKEA!).

Learning to cook is just like anything else in life – just do it! Practice makes perfect. Who will you invite for dinner next?
Enjoy,

Johanna

 

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.

clipped from www.nianow.com
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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

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