Loving Life Blog

Spur of the Moment Reflections

Where did the Vikings go? March 17, 2010

Jantelagen – or, the Jante Law – I find it interesting. 1) How come that everyone in Scandinavia knows about it and refers to it as a limiting factor for self-expression and self-realization? 2) How come international analysts recognize Jantelagen as the factor holding back Swedish brands? 3) How come no one wants to be supporters of it, and yet it continues to permeate our society??? “A typical Scandinavian pattern of group behaviour that negatively portrays and criticizes success and achievement as unworthy and inappropriate.”

Don’t think you’re anyone special or that you’re better than us. That is the bottom line.

Isn’t it time to revert this, once and for all? I know, I know – change is in the air. And that is good. But I did get the comment when I was home – “Well, if you want to start your own business – do it in America. It would be much easier over there than here.”

In a conversation with Michael E. Gerber about entrepreneurship and the Jante Law, he asked, “How did it start? Where did Sweden come from?” I laughed and said “The Vikings!” He responded “Well – that is one kind of an answer – so, where did the Vikings go? Are you one?”

As my friend from Leadership said when reading the laws: “the Chinese culture is also very much about putting the “we” before the “I”, it is about sacrificing the self for the greater good of the group, and in reading these “laws” – it sounds more like degrading the “I” rather than raising the “we”.” Now that is a perspective to think of.

Another comment was “This sounds all very related to Shame… and what is behind it. Particularly taught shame, passed down from shame-based parents. If it is at the very core of your community, it may be that healing is required.” Could there actually be a connection?! Do we all need to heal the scars from the behavior of the Vikings?

What would it mean to bring the Viking Spirit back? Not to steal and rape, but to honor and collaborate? A Viking Spirit that has evolved from “power over” to “power within”.

And if I am a Viking? Of course I am. Are you? New Age Viking. How about that?

(Click for the documentary) And by the way – here is an example of a team in training, with Viking Spirit – the Swedish cross-country skiing team. In total 2 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze medals in the Olympic Games. Remarkably well-edited documentary by Johan Serrander! Click this link for Gröt Svett och Klistervalla. The film is available on svtplay until April 5, 2010

While on the go, I can also recommend the documentary “In the mind of Anja Pärson” (available limited time on svtplay). Did you know that behind every successful athlete stands an outstanding naprapath? Today I came accross the article in Aftonbladet with heading “Anja Pärson is flying in her own naprapath”. That was true – Carl-Fredrik Andersson resides at Spinex Naprapater in Stockholm. Always good to know good-to-go-to people.

And if you are too late for the films – the below is the alternative I can offer…

Which medal are you off to win? Let’s celebrate!

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

 

Everlasting Moments March 3, 2010

May I introduce to you, one of the world’s greatest filmmakers: Jan Troell.

That was the beginning of a very impactful experience Saturday evening at The Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael, CA. Had I known which treat I was up for, I would have let you know and spread the word ahead of time. And luckily I just realized that there will be a warmly recommended repeat at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley Thursday night. And more. Check out the above links for details of the complete program.

“Jan Troell is to me a genuine, outstanding genius…an extraordinarily singular, totally original and deeply inspirational director.” Ingmar Bergman (1997)

If I would add to this statement, there are three things that I have learnt about Jan Troell: he is humble, self-taught and his personal favorite among his movies is “The land of dreams” (1988).

Saturday night he said that the reason for the pick of that movie was 1) his daughter Yohanna had the leading role in it at the age of 3.5 and 2) it started as a need to express a feeling at the time being Swedish. In an article in SFGate where he was interviewed last week he said to explain what it was about “I tried to put it in one sentence and it was something like this: “the increasing absence of life in Sweden.” If the state interferes too much with the individual, with the best intentions, it can backfire. That’s to simplify it very much.”

It makes me think of a comment by Michael E Gerber, calling the entrepreneurial spirit in the American population: “We don’t need Obama, just as we didn’t need Bush – we need you”. And you don’t need to have an MBA or a high degree of some sort, to make a difference. Start with what really moves you.

Jan and Agneta Troell at Smith Rafael Film Center, February 27 2010

What made the evening with Jan Troell very special was the beautiful and touching movie, the personal introduction of it, and the presentation of its origination and Q&A together with his wife Agneta. At a deeper level it connected to what is important for me, thoughts about my deceased father’s family’s history that I wish I new more about, and to the product I am about to create. What if you can document your own history as you go? Not only in words and pictures, but also in a way that has structure and supports you in reaching your goals and dreams; and provides you with inspiration from your own progress.

I won’t tell you about the story. To quote Jan Troell: “I never read reviews of movies that I will see. I want to get my own impression. What’s good to know though is the name of it…”

The name is “Everlasting Moments”. And seriously – what if you can create them?

Enjoy,

Johanna

The Cinema of Jan Troell: Sat. through March 6, Smith Rafael Film Center, 1118 Fourth St., San Rafael. Troell will be present at several screenings. (415) 454-1222, links.sfgate.com/ZJEY. Troell will attend a screening of “Everlasting Moments” at 7 p.m. March 4 at the Pacific Film Archive, 2575 Bancroft, Berkeley. (510) 642-1412, bampfa.berkeley.edu.

The film series is organized by the California Film Institute in association with the Swedish Institute, Stockholm, and the Consulate General of Sweden, San Francisco

 

Rule #1… It’s Golden. March 2, 2010

Yesterday morning I took time to open an email from Simple Truths titled “Rule #1… It’s Golden”. Click this link to see the 3-minute inspirational movie, filled with powerful quotes, colorful pictures and moving music:

http://www.simpletruths.tv/store/movies.php?movie=tpoa

Dreams – A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. (Chinese proverb).

Purpose – your vision becomes clear when you look inside your heart.

Passion – Belief fuels passion, and passion rarely fails. (M. Anderson)

People are like sticks of dynamite: The power on the inside… but nothing happens, until the fuse gets it.

Courage – is not always the roar. Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day that says, “I will try again tomorrow”.

Goals – take the long view, one day at a time.

Stay positive. You become what you think about. (Earl Nightingale)

Attitudes truly are contagious – so ask yourself one question: is mine worth catching?

Really – what is the impact of your attitude? Does it help you? Will that carry you to your goal? Business results? Create the ambiance you want? Relationships and interactions?

Rule #1: The power of attitude… This was a little piece of reminder that served me when kicking off my day yesterday. Hope it can serve you as well. Let’s make the journey enjoyable, and the impact mind-blowing. Why not? Go for it!

Enjoy your day!

Johanna

 

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

 

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

 

Who Sets the Limits? August 29, 2009

During my five years living in San Diego – nothing could beat kicking off the weekend with a 9am Saturday Nia class with Rocco Ragano at Eight Elements West. Outstanding Nia teacher and excellent dancer. Rounding it off with a Cafe Latte from Vahik’s Coffee brought down to Windansea Beach to breathe in the ocean breeze, watch the surfer pro’s and catch up on life with the girlfriends or myself. Unbeatable. Keep your eyes and ears open – Rocco will be visiting San Francisco to teach Nia this fall. I’ll let you know the details.

Rocco posted the below youtube movie on his Facebook wall. Beautiful and very touching. It is quite an inspiration and great reminder of: What is really possible? Who sets the limits? Take a moment to watch it!

In your situation right now – what is really important to you? What would you like to achieve or create? With a beginners mind, what do you commit to?

You set the limit. Don’t let anyone else do it. Lift the bar! You can do it!

Johanna

 

 
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