Darwin awards and disarming techniques

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

In mid-September I shared my own material in person for the first time. It was a 90-minute talk to a small-ish group. It was titled, “6 Keys to Wholeness – Your Map to Inner and Outer Magic”, and it covered how we can bridge our inner and outer worlds and an exercise showing the participants where their learning or growing edge is currently, based on the 6 Keys to Wholeness model.

On the surface, doing the talk might not seem like much…but it’s actually massive. Sharing my material is something that I’ve been putting off for years.

undefined

Having done the talk and seeing it received well is an awesome feeling. And, at the same time, it feels very strange because I’ve spent most of my life in the background, supporting other people.

As you might imagine, preparing the talk was at the front of my mind, so I didn’t write this post as planned…

…I figured I could record a video instead. Great idea! I brought out my phone and opened the camera app and spent the next 10 minutes talking about what I was going to talk about, only to realise that I hadn’t actually switched to video and hit record. Duh!

No further along. 🙂 Back to square one.

This reminds me of something I got introduced to recently – the notion of the Darwin Awards. It came up in conversation thanks to some daft action-taking.

What are the Darwin Awards, you may wonder? Well, Wikipedia has this to say:

“The Darwin Awards are a tongue-in-cheek honor, originating in Usenet newsgroup discussions around 1985. They recognize individuals who have supposedly contributed to human evolution by selecting themselves out of the gene pool via death or sterilization by their own actions.”

I laughed out loud when my friend told me about it as it’s a loving and not too brutal way of owning up to having done something not too clever.

Early on in my career I recognised the power of admitting to screw-ups, instead of trying to blame other people or circumstances, or in any other way try and run away from what might not have turned out so great. In my experience, still to this day, it’s the best disarming technique there is. Most of the time it prevents blown fuses and dominating anger. Sure, there can still be telling-off and stern talking, but they become more constructive.

I’ve applied the same approach in my personal life, with the difference that here I’ve added bucket loads of inner scorning and criticising of myself to no end. Which has had me play small, as the thought of sharing those ‘misfortunes’ made me feel like a failure at living life.

Somehow, now, the knee-jerk reaction of self-scorn is gone, and I’ll happily share my not-so-fine moments. 😉

…Maybe this side of openness is a result of having done the talk and seeing that the world didn’t implode. And that whatever mistakes I made didn’t catapult us into a different planetary orbit.

…Maybe it’s having had the courage to step into a conversation about intimacy and vulnerability and what it means to be feminine…with my male coach. Conversations that have had me come out the other end a different person.

But, as I say this, I know that I don’t need to figure this one out.

What I do know is that post-talk I feel increased appreciation for being human. We’re pretty awesome. All of us.

I’m curious. How do you feel about sharing mishaps? What’s your top disarming technique? If you feel inspired, let me know.

Coming back to Darwin Awards… I’ll leave you with another qualifier:

I started smoking fairly young. At the age of 13. One fine day, I and my closest friend “went for a walk”. We sat on a bench by the lake near where we lived, puffing away. As I lit my cigarette, I thought to myself that the lighter felt a bit odd and sounded “crackly”.

What possessed me to do what I did, I’ll never know. I lifted the lighter to my ear and lit it. Whofff! Hair on fire! Hair on fire!

There are no words for it other than – incredibly stupid.

Happily, the fire was put out quickly. 🙂 No massive damage, just the horrible smell of burnt hair, and a slight imbalance comparing left and right…

And, as luck would have it, my way out of experiencing total humiliation for my stupidity was that I could still tuck my hair behind my ears so no one was the wiser. 🙂

..from my soul to yours,

Maria


Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels

*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.

On being passport-less, reconnecting your engine, and having a persona make-over.

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

The summer is coming to an end here in the UK. That said, the weather has been and continues to be stellar. Living by the sea is such a treat.

Reflecting on the summer months, I’m made aware of a bigger pattern that’s up.

…The pattern of IDENTITY.

Yep. Why go for the small stuff, eh?! 🙂

Whether our focus is personal, local, regional, or global, it seems that the collective pot that contains our identity – who we are and how we show up – is being royally stirred at present. With some of our leaders challenging our understanding of what leadership is…it provokes an intimate look at what we consider decent behaviour and, in extension, who we want to be. For some this is a welcome nudge, for others not so much.

Back in May, I had to send my passport to the Home Office in connection with my EU Settlement Status application.

As an expat, I take my passport *everywhere* as it’s my only means of identification. Being passport-less…crikey, massive DISCOMFORT!

Having said a temporary good-bye to my burgundy friend I felt vulnerable.

I felt trapped because I couldn’t travel, but I discovered…

…being without my passport was also exciting. Sending it off meant I had to “let go” of my passport, and metaphorically speaking, my persona. (Truth be told, only upon reflection did I see this deeper meaning.) 🙂

To give some context: I think of “persona” as the amalgamation of the roles I inhabit in different parts of my life. It’s filled with conditioning and beliefs. It’s made up of stories that I’ve told myself about me, or that others have told me about me. It’s built upon my knowledge and experiences, my education in life.

I’m sharing all this here today because a good few years ago I realised that my version of ME (my persona) wasn’t my own. I woke up one day not recognising who I was. I felt disconnected from my own life. It felt like my soul had fallen silent.

Back then, on the surface, my life was a brilliant one. But, on looking under the proverbial hood, I saw many cables and connectors were loose, detached from the engine’s components. How could the vehicle that is my life run (anywhere!) unless everything was fully connected?

So, I made the decision to re-connect with myself. To figure out who I was at that time. Who I wanted to be, how I wanted to show up in life.

Fast-forward quite a few years…

As an extension of this exploration, I’ve reoriented my work to have soul-leadership be my focus, to guide people to rediscover their soul’s voice, and to help them align their inner and outer worlds (no need to choose one over the other). To help them create freedom and wholeness. Just as I did for myself. 

That isn’t to say that I’m all done. No. It’s a continuous journey. But now, my engine is connected and my vehicle is taking me to places that are meaningful to me.

I’ll close by circling back to identity.

…Not surprisingly, our everyday situations and circumstances give clear pointers to our identity, and how we identify ourselves.

If it’s been a while since you thought about the words and language you use to describe yourself, or you’ve recently felt a desire, nudge, or even a yearning to revisit how you describe today’s version of you, here are a few tips to get you started.

Ask a few of your closest and most trusted friends or connections to share:

  • Three characteristics that would describe you.
  • Your top three strengths.
  • Three words that would signify how you show up.
  • How you make them feel.
  • What’s your special sauce.
  • What colour and shape they would ascribe to you, if they were to describe you this way.

These are just examples; I’m sure this will spark alternative versions that are perfect for you. No matter which questions or characteristics you use, you’ll be surprised at what others see in you that you may not see in yourself. I did this a few years ago myself. At first it was terrifying, so I started with a small circle, then expanded it a bit the feedback took me by surprise. I found out that the way I described myself was seriously out of date. We would benefit from doing this exercise regularly as we change and evolve with every interaction. (Not leave it for 20 years like I did!) 

I’m happy to report that my passport was safely returned from the Home Office, and the application for settled status was approved. I’m no longer in no man’s land. I can travel again. And, in terms of the right to live and work in the UK…I’m prepped for Brexit. 🙂

..from my soul to yours,

Maria

If someone has forwarded this email to you and you’d like to receive your own copy in the future, let me know here.

*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.

Quantum Flirting with Something Bigger?

Wow, what an incredible couple of weeks! Have you felt it too? It’s been absolute bonkers (and wonderful!) in so many ways.

I did a short Facebook Live a while back where I mentioned how it felt like the Universe was taking a breath, that the energy had calmed down from having been quite intense a few days prior. That was temporary. 🙂

Some are experiencing that the world is seemingly going to hell in a hand basket, and the more light that is shone on us all, the more darkness and fear are bubbling to the surface.

I’ve always felt connected to something bigger, something in the subtler and unseen realms. I bring this connection into my work as a coach, mentor, sounding board, and sensing partner. It takes the form of listening to the unsaid and the unseen, the invisible. My listening to and including the invisible in the work I do is the reason I’ve decided to share what I’m about to share here today.

Some of you may think that I’m going a bit nuts as I try and describe what I notice and experience in the seen and unseen world, but it feels important to push the boundaries…

…so, without further ado, welcome to the next wave of *Fika for Your Soul*!


My experience of feeling connected to something bigger, to the field of invisible energy around me, to the collective, has grown exponentially over the last 15 years I’ve spent in the personal development field.

Although the world is still heavily driven by individualism, the notion of interconnectedness and ‘oneness’ is less fringe today as a result of spiritual evolution and the rise of, for example, the practice of compassion…

Continue reading Quantum Flirting with Something Bigger?

Have you switched on what deeply motivates you?

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

…In the context of freedom, what role do values play?

I’ve been given the chance to reflect on this this week. Challenges and opportunities alike have had me tune into my values and energetically realign myself and find the recharge I was looking for.

Values are usually a way to organise our beliefs, to separate good from bad, and right from wrong. To make sense of what we consider moral and ethical.

…The more I explore and work with values, the more I see how powerful it is to have them be an active part of our lives and not just a list hanging on the wall somewhere.

I’ve come to see that my values are a sacred part of me.

This is actually the first time I’ve phrased it this way. As I do so, I feel a jolt in my stomach, which for me is a sure pointer to a deeper truth in the words. They’re worth repeating: My values are a sacred part of me.

What comes up for you when I suggest that our values are a sacred part of who we are?

Is there a feeling of recognition?
A lifted eyebrow?
Rolling eyes?
Or, swoosh, don’t get it?

…In my work with values I often ask, “Do your values inspire you?” (If they don’t, it may be time for a review and a refresh.) Do they bring you a sense of expansion and depth? Of coherence and wholeness? Do they nudge you to take action? To change, grow, and evolve?

Recently, while reflecting on the state of the world…as one does…I was reminded of why keeping our values alive and active in our lives is so important. But I was also reminded of the reason why I started working with values the way I do, in the first place.

One weekday morning a few years ago I woke up to the usual news. Drama, devastation, dreary predictions and projections. Something erupted in me, “The world is going mad! It’s utterly bonkers! The greed. The divisive push-pull in politics and business. The ego-manic self-interest. The demonisation. The dehumanisation. For f@*k’s sake! We’re all grown ups. Take responsibility for your actions, reactions, and projections! What happened to truth, to decency? To seeing and treating each other as human beings? To seeing that we all have equal value?

In my heart I felt disappointed, and that particular morning it felt like life had lost some of its magic.

That said, not long after my silent rant I felt an inner nudge to ‘go back to basics’…

…’Basics’ in the sense of it no longer being helpful to rely on the outside world for my bearings, for my comfort, direction, and stability. I had to find my own.

Fast forward to now.

The state of the world is still topsy turvy, but since I identified my soul’s values I no longer feel lost at sea with nothing to hold on to. I am connected to my ‘something bigger’. I can channel any overwhelm through my values and quickly find my bearings again. Part of the values process I created back then specifically identifies what I experience when I am aligned with my values (which makes it super easy to know when I’m not), and how I need to show up, who I need to be, to be true to those values. That understanding of my own inner compass helps me keep my values front and center when I consider situations and choices from the most personal to the most global.    

This awareness, knowledge, and clarity provide a deep sense of freedom, as I’m no longer swept up by the hurricanes of the world. And if I were to get swept up, thanks to being connected to my values I know I could quickly find my bearings, my equilibrium, and my flow once again.

…As we discover and switch on what deeply motivates us (our values), our energy changes. We find ourselves being empowered, more open, and more attractive because we’re coming from a deeper place. And coming from a deeper and inspired place affects our decision-making, our confidence, our creativity, and our ability to show up with integrity, compassion, and ease.

There are three core questions that I ask in relation to finding one’s soul’s or higher values. To give you an idea of what the answers can look like, I’ve added my own.

(1) What are my values, what’s the desired outcome (or purpose)?
Freedom, Light, Truth, Courage, Deep Joy, Magic, Coherence.

(2) What’s my experience when my values are present, when I’m aligned?
There’s Gnosis, Inspiration, Unconditional Love, Engagement, Excitement, Transparency, Flow.

(3) Who do I need to be, what’s my daily practice?
Being Present, Showing Courage, Listening Deeply, Being Open, Being Humble, Being Expanded, Staying Tuned to Inner Wisdom.

Combined, the answers provide touch points at three levels: mind, heart, and gut. Super easy access to staying centred, grounded, clear, and in flow. 🙂

If you know someone who could do with a chat about their values, feel free to share this post with them. Alternatively, they can reach me directly by scheduling a free call here.  

As always, I’ll close with a question. What might your answers to the three questions be? How would you answer them if you explored what deeply motivates you?

..from my soul to yours,

Maria

Maria teased out, through brilliant questioning…and lots of Swedish chill out reflective vibe/ listening, that my actual values are Exploration, Gnosis, Leadership, Vision, Freedom & Growth. I highly recommend Maria to draw out and reflect back your highest values. Knowing my values makes me fearless, attractive, and confident in every decision I take because I’ve tested it against my values set.” –Frea O’Brien, The Prosperity Map

*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.

Photo by James Wheeler from Pexels

Choice, Change, and Gordon Bennett

Welcome to the latest wave of *Fika for Your Soul*. Today I’m going to lean in without much of an introduction.

When I first came across this image and its message, I almost missed it. It’s so easy for us to scroll and read on the fly. This one needed more than just a few seconds. I did what was suggested; I read the text again.


"What you are not changing you are choosing. Read that again."
“What you are not changing you are choosing. Read that again.”

…A jaw dropping and gut knocking punch later, I read it a third time.

Gordon Bennett! (read: OMG!)

Powerful, yet mind-boggling in its simplicity.

The penny dropped, there’s no escape.

…What we are not changing, we are choosing.

The reasoning that got us to where we are may seem to have been full of flaws, but here it is…

…It’s what we do from now on that matters.

As a self proclaimed anglo-linguaphile…(not sure I know how to pronounce it or if the combo exists, but I like it)…I’ve had what feels like a full blown immersion in the English language since returning to the UK in 2005. The nuances, the rich vocabulary, and the wicked ways you can express yourself makes my inner linguaphile dance with joy every day.

In a recent conversation with a Swedish friend, we talked about some of the videos and Facebook Live items that I’ve posted in the past few weeks. I’d asked her for some feedback, and I shared with her that I’d been thinking about doing videos in Swedish as well but that, somehow, that didn’t feel right.

Her response was, “You’re right, the mother-tongue for your work is not Swedish, it’s English.”

Wowzers.

…The first language for my passion, the work I do, is English.

Surprised laughter, an OMFG!, and tear-filled eyes were my spontaneous reactions. My friend’s feedback may not seem like a big thing to you, but for me it felt like a tectonic-sized shift. I suddenly perceived myself being on the proverbial inside looking out, instead of the outside looking in. Which in turn means opening myself up to being observed and not just being the observer.

(I add the bit about the observer because, as some of you know, my focus, commitment, and dedication this year is to make sure that I show up, and that I do so fully.)

The language thing is also significant because, although I’ve been speaking more English than Swedish for many years, I see now that I’ve been speaking English mostly from my head, not my heart.

Speaking English from my heart means owning it. And it means another shift in identity.

In one Facebook Live I mentioned how important it is to say an “internal Yes” when we choose to take action, as that Yes communicates our decision to our cells.

Internal Yes to speaking English from my heart now taken care of! 🙂

In closing, I’ll leave you with this big-ish question: What would you say is the easiest way to recognise when we’re not including our heart in the equation and only approaching something from our head?

(And, sneakily, I’ll add another question… How may this be connected to choice and change?)

…from my soul to yours,

Maria

PPS! Oh, and for those who are curious about “Gordon Bennett!”. I’ve been on the look-out for an expression that I can use for moments that I refer to as “OMG” or “f*#k me” moments. Tectonic or watershed moments. With “Gordon Bennett!” I may have found it. 🙂 This expression is primarily used in the UK, and is a possible euphemism for “gorblimey”:

“Gordon Bennett!” is an expression of incredulity which alludes to the outrageous behaviour of the American sportsman, publisher and all-round hell-raiser James Gordon Bennett Jr. (more information)


*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.

Championing the Game of Life

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

*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’ [feeka] is Swedish for, among other things, taking a break.


From time to time I watch Marie Forleo’s MarieTV. The other day, she aired an episode with Abby Wambach, a retired US football/soccer player, coach, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and FIFA Women’s World Cup champion, a pay-equality advocate, and much much more.

Marie welcomed us to the episode by saying, and I paraphrase… “If you want to be a champion in the game of life, this is for you”.

My ears perked up.

Something sparked in me when I heard those words. I repeated them to myself.

The vibe they carry is that of growth, confidence, expansion, and freedom. And to me, “being a champion in the game of life” translates to taking personal responsibility, something that is dear to my heart.

Some of the nuggets that stayed with me from this episode include…

…the importance of defying labels,
…stepping off the safe path into unchartered territory, and 
…leaving the pack.

Although these three points stand out to me because they’re what’s up for me right now, I’m going to stick my neck out and offer that they are universal; most of us face these one way or another, in some shape or form.

So, a few thoughts on…

Defying labels

No matter how safe they make us feel, labels also have the power to “dumb us down”. Labels make things easy. It’s easy to hide behind them. They help us conform; they help us fit in. And just as much as they can help us feel like we belong…they can also create division.

Labels help organise the world as we know it, so it’s not that labels are pointless or useless, it’s just that they can easily obscure what’s important and make us forget who and what we truly are.

As I’m writing this, I’m reminded that there’s a difference between me giving myself a label and having someone else attaching a label to me. Still, whether added by me or someone else, labels added without awareness can easily create debilitating limitations.

Stepping off the safe path

Labels have a role to play here as well. They create boxes we live in. I think of these boxes as a safe path.

One label or box, in particular, has seemed like an especially difficult one to let go of for me personally—the “employee mindset”.

Historically, the label “employee” or the box “employee mindset” is all I’ve known. It’s been sold to me as the safe, sensible, and sincere option. More or less everyone I knew growing up operated within this same box.

Looking at it this way, it’s no surprise how deep its foundation goes. Yet, I’m still taken by surprise by how solid some of this foundation remains.

Extracting myself from this “employee mindset” box…

…There’s fear, both subtle and not so subtle, of not being safe, of making “unsensible” decisions. And fear that choosing something different means being insincere about my direction and choices in life.

The way I create frameworks or boundaries for myself has been heavily influenced by this box. I constantly have to remind myself that the knee-jerk reaction or choice might not be the whole story. That there is an expanded version available that I have yet to experience.

Leaving the pack

“Successful” people’s stories seem to always have a part where they deviate from the most trodden path. Where they strike out on their own. Where they make choices that are deeply meaningful to them, which in turn take them further than they ever imagined.

A few thoughts on leaving the pack… (notes to self)

…It doesn’t have to look or feel dramatic. It can…but it doesn’t have to.

…Striking out on our own doesn’t mean we’re predatorily competitive.

…By making choices that are deeply meaningful we build strength in following our soul.

In closing, I’ll end with this…

In the conversation, Abby Wambach refers to how she used to cling to labels because they gave her what she thought she was. I can relate to this, and at the same time I find myself feeling like I’ve just woken up from a slumber thanks to a new deeper awareness of how labels play a role in who I am and the choices I make.

What’s your relationship with labels? How would you say that you are championing your life?

If you feel inspired to share, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

…from my soul to yours,

Maria

PS! I highly recommend watching the whole MarieTV episode (on Facebook). It contains many good points we can use as we take ownership of who we are and how we show up. The video is also available on YouTube.

Taking stock, and what do frogs have to do with summer solstice?

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

*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.


A couple of weeks ago it was Midsummer’s Eve. In Sweden, if April 30th (Walpurgis Night or Valborgsmässoafton) is a celebration of Spring, then Midsummer (Midsommar) is when summer begins.

Midsommar is the most important holiday in Sweden all year. Even more so than Christmas and New Year. I may have moved away from Sweden in 2005, but I still feel a strong pull towards Midsommar and I suspect it’s the pagan in me that’s stirring the pot.

Having said that, I don’t know much about the origin of the modern day celebrations and practices, such as for example the dancing (read: jumping with both feet around a maypole that’s covered in leaves and flowers, singing ‘Little frogs…’!)

Continue reading Taking stock, and what do frogs have to do with summer solstice?