Tuesday, May 31, 2016

thank you, may

Thank you, May, I do believe you've been a kind and useful month. 

Full-time work for pretty much the whole month has been quite exhausting, mainly due to the rush hour commuting. But it has also been really good for the brain having been forced to concentrate on working and learning. And socialising. 

I may be an extrovert social introvert (or closet extrovert as some might say), but to be honest, having to chat regularly or listen to others chatting every single day 8 to 6 is too much for me. And it doesn't matter if they're nice and friendly, I want more space of my own.

That said it has been a great gig, I've had a room on the opposite side of the office from rest of the communication department and that has suited me perfect (for the above reasons). Yes, the people have been very friendly and uncomplicated - and overwhelmingly grateful for my work it seems (hooray) - I've been left to my own devices in a very liberating way and I've learnt a lot on various levels. The gig is finished now and I've been able to relax a wee bit in the sun the last couple of days of May. Gratitude.

Just what I needed really. I'm ever so grateful for the opportunity and not least the person who tipped me about the project on Facebook - which is a place I rarely visit, it mainly annoys me in all sorts of ways, but see, now it has proven to be very useful too, go figure! - I'm a bit amazed really how well things aligned for me in May.

But the month of May has not been all work and no play. Oh no, the gig also helped me discover some new, great places for lunch and food in that part of town. Which is a part I've mainly seen as a thoroughfare and these days a supersized building site. But now I see it as something much more. Not least a place that helped me forward in a very difficult time in my life.

So I've discovered a fantastic little Indian street food lunch restaurant, foodtruck turned restaurant, which serves both flavourful vegetarian and vegan food too. I've discovered an organic food-shop/lunch restaurant (a part of well-known Swedish foodstore chain) which is pretty brilliant. And gotten tips about other places to explore. Which I may write a bit about later.

I went to a really great Yelp breakfast club-event and discovered a new-ish organic, muesli brand which is right up my alley from brand philosophy, copy, packaging to of course flavour. I've been munching on grand muesli pretty much every morning ever since the event. And if I hadn't worked early mornings already then I would never have decided to go up as early as 5.15 in order to be at an morning event 7.30. But now I did and did and it was such a nice experience.

The weather has been great, from really hot summer days - too hot for comfort, both personally and on an environmental level - to very cold ones - which too is uncomfortable for the same reasons - and some well-needed rain. From always gorgeous cherry blossoms, to apple blossoms to wonderful, generous lilacs, nature has been ever so beautiful.

And the charity shop's pick up of all my bags and boxes of clothes and stuff early in May gave me such a liberating feeling. I'm planning to do it again during the summer. There are lots and lots of stuff out in the garden shed which needs sorting through (many boxes which I haven't opened since I moved here in 2001. Yes, really...) and possibly in the wardrobes too. Even if granted, I've done a lot of much needed, liberating wardrobe cleansing already.

But of course I haven't been all practical and busy, I've had days off on my own with my thoughts. And the sorrow continues to be striped, a couple of months after the passing, but it also makes more and more room for self-reflection. What could have, should I have done differently and most of all of course, what can I, must I do differently from now on. To create the life I want and need.

As devastatingly sad and unexpected as the reason for all this is I can safely say that it has forced me to grow a lot in a very short time. Some days the problems and issues that need sorting seem overwhelming, others I'm just doing them. But no matter the daily mood shape I'm always aware that sorting has to be done and I'm the one that has to do it. Though perhaps I can be kind to myself today and leave it until tomorrow.

In general I'm not really good at asking for help, when it comes to everyday practical stuff, but I'm ever so grateful for the best mum in the world and her nearby friend with car who kindly help no-car-me getting the cat litter and food home. 

My next thing is to get help with transporting many big bags of garden waste, the old kitchen sofa and old bathtub to the nearby waste site. Which currently seems like one of those huge, overwhelming deals when you don't have a car or a trailer or know someone obvious who has or can. But as problem-sorting alongside 'everything will be alright because it has to' are my new mantras that will be done one way or the other.

It's interesting how the really mundane things suddenly become so complicated when you can't lean on someone else but yourself. 

Obviously I have no travel plans for the summer this year. It would certainly be good for the soul to get away for a while, just be in a new environment but any such ideas are simply not viable financially. But as the Swedish summer is a thing of wonder and I have lots of things to potter with at home I'm alright with that. Circumstances are so very different now from a year ago when we planned for Berlin in a few weeks... Instead I'm looking forward to my Schwarzwald-trip I've decided to take in September.

I have a great joint work project I hope will kick off soon, but I would also love to get new gigs during the summer. Sweden is notorious for closing down during June-August for holidays (yes, I know, crazy) but really there are always need for telecommuting freelancers and temps during the summer months so hey, Universe, please get in touch on that subject. Keep them gigs rolling in, thank you kindly in advance.

Goodbye, May, and thank you ever so much again. 
Hello, June, please be helpful, kind and soul-soothing - and full of hedgehogs.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

a pug in a mug

This teastrainer certainly falls into the category of most awesome and delightful, wouldn't you agree?

Pug in a mug. And littlest Ågot.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

to cultivate resilience

Little over a year ago I wrote a post about cultivating resilience - little did I know then that that in a not too far future I would have to use that cultivated capacity to "to greet change and difficulty as an opportunity for self-reflection, learning and growing". Because believe you me, these almost two months now, have been spent doing that a lot. In both practical and emotional ways. 

This is a really good article on the subject and how you can work on increasing your resiliance. Which is essential for your well-being.

Death appears sooner or later in everyone's life, that is perhaps the one undisputable truth in this world. There is absolutely no way to turn back the clock, act and say things differently, get answers, explanations. And letting oneself being engulfed in sorrow and the what ifs over and over and over again isn't meaningful for anyone. So despite the fact that the sorrow is still striped, but in another striped way than in the beginning, and melancholy is a constant companion, some days more than others, I also chose happiness. Because there is no way but forward and making a productive and active choice is to take control. As much as anyone of us can take control, who knows what will happen tomorrow?

And the financial worries I had in the beginning - still do, but I also choose to not let them overwhelm me, because it will be alright - perhaps they were a blessing in disguise. They have forced me to be active, to take control, find solutions, a week at a time. Instead of perhaps wallowing in sadness every day, all the time had the financial issues not been a fact. I already feel I have grown quite a bit by necessities. 

So how has the second week of May been? Grateful to say also a good one. The weather continued to be glorious. I enjoyed discovering new, fine places for lunch in the work neighbourhood. Met friends after work for long chats. Went to an informal interview. Which happened to be above the cafe were we used to have the perfect Saturday breakfast - also a place where I've had so many productive meetings both social and work related - so I had lunch there by myself, it was both wistful and lovely.

My short gig has been prolonged for two more weeks, I must be doing something right, so I'm grateful for that. Still loath the rush hours commuting, but at least my tasks allow me to work from home a couple of days. Hopefully I will be able to do that some more days the following weeks. I also find I'm even more productive at home, so it's a win-win for everyone.

May May continue to show kindness. And I resilience. Everything will be alright. Better than alright, much better.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

the soft help of cat cuddles

The best remedy for everything sad and troublesome in life - cat cuddles.

Or time spent in the company with any kind of animals of course. But in my case the access to felines is of course easy and uncomplicated.

So how has the first week of May been? 

For me it has been a rather pleasing blend of busy and relaxing. The project gig has gone well, good workplace, good people and the work falls in the practical category of get things ticked off a list. Which is satisfying in its own way, if not something that get my creative juices flowing obviously.

But having to adjust to 9 to 5 days in an office, rush hours commuting, interacting with a lot of different people in various ways every day - it's exhausting. 

The good thing is that it certainly takes my mind of difficult thoughts, forcing me to concentrate on getting the job done well.

Also, as grateful as I am for this opportunity to help, meeting new people, learning new things, it also confirms that I'm not a person that thrives and delights at the 9-5 office life, every day. I may not love how unpredictable the income flow may be for freelancing, but I do love the freedom and opportunities with no limits it brings in other ways.

The weather has been absolutely glorious all week. With May came sun and hot weather. I do wish it would rain during the nights because this much relentless sun alone is certainly not good for nature alas. But for now, I've been enjoying the natural vitamin D. Good for the soul and body alike.

It had also been wonderful to have a long 4 days weekend, not doing much at all, pottering around, relaxing, simple cooking, trying to look forward, not dwelling on things I possibly could have/should have done differently in the past. I think I'm getting a bit better at it day by day. Even if still some days are better than others.

But the sun helps. So does plenty of soft cat cuddles. And life goes on, one step, one day, one weekend, one week at a time.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

and life continues

It has been a good week. Surprisingly so. For which I'm deeply grateful. (Which includes the heartfelt comments and emails, treasured as always, I hope you know that even if I haven't replied to them all yet.)

** Together with M's parents, brother and sister-in-law - I'm okay, we've spent some time together this week, talked (if not about the really hurtful matters) a lot and it has been friendly like it once was - I've been to his apartment twice during the week to sort out memories and things of importance. It has been both mentally and physically exhausting. But also an important step on the way to a new normal. Have cried, laughed, been practical, melancholic, sad and also very appreciative of things I picked up to now come and live with me. And grateful for all the memories.

They gave me a lift home this evening and the car was full - next week I've booked an appointment with a charity shop to come and pick up stuff I need to get rid off and with the long weekend to come before that I have plenty of time to sort through all this too. To see which things and memories to actually keep, the most important. The useful and the happy memories. Not stuff for stuff's sake. (Which is THE one thing I've been really good at doing on my list of personal goals for 2016...)

** I was on an interview for a very short Wordpress web gig on Monday. I'll begin working for a couple of days on Tuesday and continue next week, possibly a few days more depending on how much work that's needed. It may not be super creative or super well-paid, but it's a fun and useful way to use my language-police and stickler for details and proofreading skills on. For a good cause. And it's another important, little step towards my new normal.

** I visited my new accountant with a lot of papers and it was a really nice meeting. Partly because she was well aware of the current sad situation (she knows friends of ours and have met M), partly because she's very helpful, keeps it simple so I can understand - the fact that accounting and tax law were two of my best subjects when I studied law is now a mystery... - and isn't at all patronising (unlike my previous accountant). 

The drawback is that her company is situated in Norrtälje, which isn't an issue if you have a car, but from door to door one way it takes me around 2,5 hours. Not ideal, but luckily most things can be sorted via email, mail and telephone so we probably don't have to have meetings more than 1-2 times per year. And the bus ride was really nice.

After the meeting I had lunch with my mum and was so happy that a cafe I used to love in Norrtälje, which sadly had declined now has new owners who are really keen on serving more vegan options! Two lovely dishes on the menu already and we had a good chat about the importance of flavours and textures.

Also I was really pleased that my favourite coffee chain Espresso House had opened in Norrtälje - thus a more than decent soy-latte in a keepcup was my friendly company on the bus home.

** There have been plenty of sunshine all week. Pretty cold April weather overall, but oh the sunshine, good for body and mind.

** Have had two really great and inspiring conversations with fine friends over coffee. Inspiring, soothing and thought-provoking. Grateful.

Same day I also visited the Stockholm Foodtruck Lounge - too bad it was absolutely freezing that evening which cut the visit very short - and tried a new (to me) vegan foodtruck. Turned out I was so hungry I completely forgot to  snap a photo of the Seitan Schwarma Wrap (*insert shocked emoji*), but it was really good.

I've shyed away from social events and crowds ever since life drastically changed. But it was good to get out in an unpretentious way, to distract the mind a bit. To see that life somehow goes on, in parts actually not that different from how it once was.

And now it's May already. May May be a lovely lovely month, in every way. Much needed, thank you in advance, life.
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