Saturday, December 30, 2017

communication, communication, communication

kränku tea calendar, december 2017

Communication. Presence. Authenticity. Three keywords essential to any relationship, be it work, friendship, love.

Something I've come to realise even more during this year, and things I've missed so many times before in life without realising and being able to put my finger on the feeling.

You know, the scary stuff, the awkward questions people hesitate to ask, the answers they are afraid of. I've decided I'm going to enter 2018 less afraid of things, I'm going to dare more. And not apologize for how I feel. Or act. Not that I'm timourous as such now of course, but sometimes I get the whiff of that useless impostor syndrome or I just feel 'it's not my place to put my foot down and demand at this time' - realising later down the line that's just what I should have done.

And as I wrote in the pre-Christmas post, I had a serious lack of trust in The Project and would spend the weekend with a good think about how to proceed, in order to be true to myself, hopefully without letting anyone down. And so I did. Neither sleeping, reading or laughing but thinking. A lot.

On Boxing day everything poured out of me on three pages. Of which a tiny portion was this passage - "Applaud that you’re able to detach yourselves from the mess ---- . I’m however not as lucky, partly because that’s my personality (I engage strongly, I need things to be professional, less mollycoddling, more straight talk and visible progress)... That’s one reason why I need change to feel this project is still meaningful."

I should have spoken more clearly earlier on, or perhaps I thought I did. Maybe I shouted "wolf" so repeatedly that noone listened anymore. I'm still not sure about the understanding of everything I mentioned actually. It was A LOT of text to swallow and concider (current situation, issues, my personal viewpoints, solutions/suggestions). Which I personally think is important to avoid misunderstandings as much as possible, short and sweet has its times, long explanations have theirs. Clear communication, communication, communication. I'm not interested in playing guessing games, in neither parts of my life. Or being the one constantly pointing out real problems, with no mandate to fixing them myself. I don't want to be Ms Grump-a-much.

But I know changes are underway now. Changes which will most likely hold less talk, more action. Well overdue but a pretty darn good way to kick start a shiny new year.

Let's leave this situation for now. And talk a bit about a new client I'll start working with in January - where there has also been a bit of communication issues, but nothing nearly as grave as the passion project above, more of the oddly entertaining kind - who said when I mentioned my hourly fee "which also depends on the length and width of project" that "let's not argue this, it's important that you're content and motivated, let's start and see how we work together and take things from there". And I can safely say that's just the matter of fact, healthy approach I do wish more work related situations could be dealt with.

Needless to say I'm very motivated. Not only from a financial aspect of course, it's a very interesting client and it'll be great fun to learn more about their business, the objective, the people and helping them with their social media presence. And the first new client on a new year is always special, setting the tone of the rest of the year one might say.

I've also put in a lot of hours in the coaching project already. In fact I might have accidently found a job, not a traineeship, for one of my participants (a clever hardware development engineer) already. Fingers crossed for her interview in a week. And it warms the heart when someone says "Thank you Pia, you are jette snääääälllll" (werry kiiiiinddddd). The warm and fuzzy feeling.

the catwoman dog whisperer, december 2017

Which was also the feeling I got when I did a stand in as dog sitter last night. I'm adding "Catwoman with serious dog whisperer skills" to my CV. My heart is melting by all that cute overload. Yes, the felines are darling but I miss having a special dog too.

where the heart is, haevn, december 2017

As I've written a fair amount about music that makes my heart sing lately, I'll end this post by doing so again. Yes, I'm absolutely smittened by Dutch band Haevn - "Where the Heart Is" still being the ultimate favourite of course - have listened to them all weekend on repeat, on Spotify, on the computer, on the iPhone, on YouTube and best of all on TV. I mean, whatever did we do before Apple TV and wide screen TVs - its like having a decent concert experience in your own living room without having to deal with people and their noise. Pause and get another cup of tea. Repeat. Pure brilliance.

As you can see the cats are mesmerized by the tunes too. (Of course it has nothing to do with the birds flying over the screen in the video.)

I adore this cover of "Fastlane" too, the voice, the energy, the music, the fun they seem to have and not least that fabulous guitar riff (that makes me seriously thinking about picking up my guitar again all these years later). Overall they're not only wonderful on original tunes, but also on various covers like Adele's "Hello" (which happens to have meant a lot to me this past year, brought me to many tears).

And please listen to this version of A-ha's "Take on me" with Kygo. It makes me happy. Loved the song in my teens - and haven't we all had a crush on Morten? - it has aged well. And so have the band members. Yet another proof that age is just a silly number. And a mindset. 

Which happens to be another thing I'm taking with me into the new year, agelessness and a firm belief it's much more important to live, laugh and love life than worry about a silly number that's basically only visible on your identity card and (fugly) passport. It doesn't say a thing about who you really are. In fact I think I'm gonna cancel birthdays from here on.

Happy New 2018 - 
may it bring an abundance of 
prosperity, love, laughter and kindness.

Friday, December 22, 2017

where the heart is

my 2017 music accoding to spotify (not sure how accurate really, but pet shop boys still going strong) 💗

Luckily I've been busy with other work this past week, but I haven't really been able to cast off the frustration, anger and calm down from the time out situation, for various reasons. And things on that front have most certainly not had a positive development during the week that was. Not the least bit surprised about that am I.

When you really don't like how this make you feel or act, when you start to question and resent decent people you're grateful for and fond of but who you feel don't listen to what you're saying anymore.

Most likely because they have enough on their own plates, in their own lives, to really care for your views and feelings. And in the end we can't rely on the support of others, we have to rely on ourselves for the support. To make the decisions that are best for our own wellbeing.

When your sleep is affected and you start crying for seemingly no reason at all. When you wish you could be professionally detached, but your soul is feeling suffocated and a little bit crushed by it all. Over-worked, under-appreciated, so incredibly tired.

And when you know you're the happiest, work your best when you can be your quirky, passionate self, to be trusted and free to do what needs to be done. Where structure, freedom and sprinkles of spontaneity play together. And you still have different, clear areas of responsabilities, not constantly feel you're stepping on eachother's toes. When all this overwhelms you, change needs to happen.

To be quite honest, as things have developed, I don't really see myself playing an important role in this particular project anymore. It's dispiriting, and fills me with sadness, since it has been such fun, so much shared energy, fantastic teamwork. But I just don't get it anymore. And when nobody's really listening, taking decisions I play no part in, but that still affects me. And the project, the objective, which leads to the inconsistency of TOV. The, frankly, blatant lack of regular and clear communication. Well, I think it's high time to have a serious think if this is the right route for me.

I don't want to let anyone down, including myself. And I'm really confused as to what is the right thing to do here to stay true to myself.

"At the end of the day I want to be able to say I contributed more than I criticized" - and I'm not sure I can say that in this case anymore. Or at least it'll be a lot of mulling over, planning and talking things through to get back there. And I do want to re-connect with my spark again.

I'll have a good long thought over the Christmas weekend, what I want, what needs to change and which direction I need to move on in. Because as far as I can see, what I know, at this time, this seems a futile situation. Hopefully I'll get some good nights sleep too, that would be lovely. Obviously I'm not great at trusting the process right now. Perhaps the logging out and sleeping my way through the weekend can rectify that. I need to read more, and laugh more. And watch 'Love Actually' for the umpteenth time.

That said, let's talk music. Music that soothes the soul, as music does.

I got the above compilation from Spotify the other week, let's just say my musical habits here doesn't really reflect my late autumn listening. My favourite tunes are quite different from the five mentioned here. As are the favourite artists. But I love that my old, longtime favourites Pet Shop Boys are still number one.

My favourite genre is apparently New Wave Pop, I didn't even know there is such a thing.

So what is my current music crush? Well, just as the blog post title says, the number one is "Where the heart is", by Haevn. It's just pure love for me now. The lyrics are so beautiful, speak to my soul, in the most profound way. And this live video is unpretentious loveliness.

"High above the tallest trees
Courage will come your way
It's the need that burns the trust that shines
When you climb out of the shade

Your high awakes the things you wanna be
Where the air is thin and sweeps you off your feet"

Overall I adore their simple videos, as far from 1980ies style you can get. I'm not sure if it's me who've picked my current most listened to list or Spotify's clever algorithms, but here goes -

Finding out more - Haevn
Fuel to fire - Agnes Obel
Frail love - Cloves
You there - Aquilo
Every little thing she does is magic - Sleeping at last
Where's my love - SYML
All we do - Oh Wonder
Oblivion - Bastille
Need it - Half Moon Run

And the irony that they are all basically seamlessly intertwined with eachother isn't lost on me.

Now and then I dance still, but I allow myself to be in this mood now. This is life too. It's the time of the year, with dark days, long nights, many thoughts. I'm looking forward to positive change, lighter days, a new and amazing, love and happiness filled year. And, to quote "Where the heart is" - Take the leap of my life, falling to the stars.

May your Christmas weekend be kind, warm and relaxing.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

hello time out, i need you

kränku tea calendar, 2017

These past few days I've experienced stress symptoms I've not known or heard of before. And as they are pretty scary, but as I've understood not uncommon and luckily harmless, I still see them as a warning sign to take a step back.

I will stick my neck out a bit and say it doesn't fill me with joy to put in a lot of hours of hard work above and beyond, where you're basically taken for granted, don't get the least bit of positive feedback from client. Or engagement, trust and much needed mandate. I don't even have the energy to be angry and frustrated anymore. I'm just tired. Jaded.

No matter how much I appreciate my Dream Team and all the amazing things they are, have done and do, the fun we've had (and hopefully will continue to have) I also feel there's only as much that can be done, since the project situation seems endlessly complicated in layers upon layers. I'm open to major changes for the better, but I'm also realist enough to see that most likely will not happen.

I'll of course continue to do everything I've signed up for, because that's the only right and professional thing to do, for the time set. But I'm putting my firm foot down now and setting my limits. I'm still not a serf. None of us are.

What started as a passion project, that gave a lot of energy and fun has turned into something energy draining. An uphill struggle of Sisyphean proportions. Like wading in treacle. I've lost my sparkle. Not in general, never, but for this.

It's just not productive to work with seemingly grown up people who can't treat others with decency, trust, respect and at least a moderate amount of appreciation.

Also. It isn't really nice to find yourself in a situation that brings about too much grump, anger, frustration and annoyance. It's just utterly tiresome. Stressful and unproductive. Thank goodness for the "grounded in happiness" personality. Still, when you loose your much enjoyed, loved mojo and feeling of such fun within a certain situation, it's so darn difficult to get it back knowing it would take so much change from other people than yourself. And you can only be responsible for your own change.

My reaction has been building up during the autumn, the only reason it hasn't reached its boiling point until now is the team. But now it has and there's no point denying it. It has been an amazing journey. Learnt so much, had such fun. I will still put in my hours, but unless something drastically positive happens I will not see this as a part of a longterm puzzle for goodness. Just a job I signed up for, nothing more, nothing less. And my passion belongs somewhere else.

I have no idea how this will unfold in the weeks to come, it's Christmas and New Year's, which most always is another excuse to not take responsability for anything but the holidays. And I say that without the least bit of Grinch, just establish a fact of December life.

My coming weeks will be revolving around other clients and jobs that don't fill me with this much frustration and stress reactions (and sadness because of all the obvious awesomeness, perfection, action that could, should happen here but doesn't because of the above reasons).

And while I'm in the process of analyzing myself, my feelings and reactions, putting my (happy shoes clad) feet down, setting boundaries this has also made me scrutinize how and what I want the pink vegan meringue situation to evolve into. Yes, I trust my instinct, yes I trust the process, I know it's right despite the oddness of it all. But this week has been even more confusing. And the first step will not be mine, it will be welcome, necessary, but not mine. Just so you know. I will leave it up to you to figure that one out. I'm sure you can. To talk, listen, ironing things out a bit. Life is precious. And much shorter than we think.

Or we could just back down to neutral gear. Keep it short and unsweetened. There's always that option. To be honest, I'm not even sure this delightful, unexpected, pink, vegan meringue situation give me energy anymore. Oh, I don't know. Feeling a bit lost, free falling. I just wish life, this, could be less complicated and more straight forward. What's meant to be will be. Life has a special talent for sorting these things out.

Today was also the Lucia Day in Sweden. In a winter wonderland. With icy streets. The only celebration I did was having the above cup of tea calendar love tea and a sweet breakfast with a friend. I haven't even baked this year's first batch of lussebullar (insert a face in utter shock). And I also had a really nice lunch with a LinkedIn-contact, who happens to live in my suburb.

And while I waited for her outside the restaurant today I noticed a little ol' lady with a walker coming my way. Suddenly I realised she had stopped in front of me. Thought she was having a rest or wanted to ask something so I smiled at her. And she said the sweetest thing "I just want to say that you are so cute. One gets happy by looking at you. Yes really cute." (I wore my fabulous happy coat number 1.) Oh thank you so much, how sweet of you to say so! True story. Apparently I appeal to the old folks of my suburb, remember the older gentlemen who complimented me in another sweet, unexpected way a couple of months ago. With all the things above going on, I needed this. The unexpected sweetness from a random stranger.

It's a funny thing, that when you get complimented by senior citizens on the looks, outfits, exterior features it's endearing and appreciated. It makes me happy, in an uncomplicated way. But if it is by people closer to my own age, if it isn't a very casual 'great dress, cute blouse, fab shoes' I so prefer to be complimented for my accomplishments, values and quirky intellect. Even if it's an incomprehensibly intellectual one.

From stress reactions, grump galore to the sweetness of unexpected compliments. Getting things written down, thoughts sorted, in blog public, is always liberatingly cathartic.

Hello, time out, much needed, we will get along swell, I'm sure. Tea and candles galore.

kränku tea calendar, 2017

Friday, December 08, 2017

the midnight falafel and other stories

fabulastic original drawing by jessica ritar, finally mine, december 2017

The downside of not blogging as much anymore is that you have an awful lot to write about once you do. So I thought I'd start with the above original drawing that I'd coveted for some time and which is now finally mine. I've always loved the quote "I'm incomprehensibly intellectual", had it for years on my travel card protective sleeve, which makes me smile whenever I use it. When I saw this drawing on Instagram a few months ago I knew it was meant to be.

The hair, the glasses, the slightly raised eyebrows, the not wanting to be in the picture, simply me. When it came on sale last week I went for it. Made by talented Jessica Johansson, @jessicaritar on Instagram, you can get both original drawings and prints (with a feminist vibe) in her shop plus she makes special orders. I'll get a frame soon and put it in pink office.

the tribe (fantastic dig sculptures by christina rosén), stockholm, sweden, december 2017
My spirit animal, much fiercer than she looks.

And continue to be incomprehensibly intellectual. Seeing connections where very few seem to understand. The oddball seemingly living in a parallell world not really getting people and the way they behave. Hello Weltschmerz. Some days more than others. And now and then you find people you vibe with, they get you and you get them. Then everything is alright in this world, that can be both beautiful and magical.

falafel at midnight, årstiderna organic food box, december 2017

Talking about odd balls, say hello to my first ever homemade from scratch falafels! My midnight falafels. Because being a vegan food ambassador this time of the Swedish year means you have to get cooking at very odd hours in order to be able to take pictures in the few hours of daylight you hopefully get. Thus at midnight the other day I cooked these so I could take pictures in the morning before I left for meetings. I think they turned out really well for a first time. Not really sure I will ever make the again though, I find the deep frying to be scary stuff, rapeseed oil is good for you, but the actual frying in a big pot with oil, creepy. And despite the kitchen fan the whole house reeked with the frying for a few days afterwards. But it was a great new experience, the process to make your very own falafels.

stockholm, sweden, december 2017 - christmas lights

Almost 2 years ago I signed up for a mentor/friendship programme for people new to Sweden, via Kompis Sverige. Never heard anything from them, I had important wishes about vegetarianism and non religiousness. I guess that sadly can be a tricky thing to match. However, now it has happened! I got a call a few weeks ago, and met my new friend via the programme this week. She's a vegetarian teacher from China. We talked about food, culture, philosophy, books, sustainability, you know, all awesome topics. Next time she wanted to see where I lived as child, so we'll take a walk around the now very hipster parts of Hornstull, Sodermalm ~

my keyboard is currently all wonky, I blame a certain cat for sitting on it when I turned my back. Be as that may, despite having looked through the internetz for a solution the Swedish letters and some symbols remain lost. Such a nuisance, that I will have to look into for real of course. I miss the precious dots over A, A, O. ~

which was nothing hipster whatsoever back then. Looking forward to learn about a culture so very different from ours, talk more about philosophy, books, life and plantbased food. And show the gems of Stockholm.

food stockholm, december 2017 -

Next week I'll rekindle with the career coach for international talents assignment ~ with a slightly changed client, which for some reason gave me new business cards, and spelled my name correctly without asking, life's little miracles ~ it will be good to do something hands on that can give great results for individuals and society within a reasonably short amount of time.

the tribe (fantastic dig sculptures by christina rosén), stockholm, sweden, december 2017

I think I've showed these quirky, adorable dog characters in blog before, but now in another context. When I stopped to take a picture of them the other day I realised that they remind me a lot of my team, in the most hilariously endearing way of course. Unfortunately I didn't find anyone who symbolized me so aptly.

the tribe (fantastic dog sculptures by christina rosén), stockholm, sweden, december 2017

But when I walked past the shop again later in the week I saw the above little sad, pensive dog though, which I immediately saw as my spirit animal. By her side was this grinning character. And that's me too, both sad and happy, brooding and proudly content. Passion and fierceness hidden behind a calm, innocent exterior.

If they weren't so expensive, which I think is quite right given all the work and talent that obviously have gone into making them (sculptor's name is Christina Rosen), I'd possibly buy them all. But also if I had that kind of money lying around I'd much rather get a shelter dog or two to love and care for. Plus my home isn't really that kind of stylish home that would make the perfect backdrop for these larger than life sculptures. So I settle for them making me very happy whenever I pass the gallery windows. And I got a few postcards of them. Also they have some limited lithographies of the characterful dogs, within a less daunting price range. And you should support local artists, in anyway you can.

vegan dinner and moctails, surfers stockholm, sweden,  december 2017 -

Apart from meetings and work I also had the pleasure to meet up with a friend via Twitter ~ Instagram ~ LinkedIn (social media, such a great source for meeting really good, interesting people, whom you can officially stalk to get to know) for vegan dinner at a restaurant I hadn't visited yet but had been on my Yelp~list for ages, Surfers. Nothing to do with surfing (except the interior) but food from the Sichuan province of China. A lot of spices and flavours. And delightful coctails and moctails too. I'm a lunch, brunch, fika kind of gal, not drinks and dinner, but when I on the odd occasion meet for dinner it's really lovely.

vegan dinner and moctails, surfers stockholm, sweden,  december 2017 -

I was going to write a few words on music, marketing, work, photography, Stockholm and Christmas time of the year too. But I do believe I've reached my self~appointed blogpost quota. There's always a next time for that.

I will however touch briefly on the pink vegan meringue~situation, which continues to obfuscate as well as delight me, and honestly, frustrate. If it was possible to just sit down and talk this through, find out more, I'm certain it would make complete and perfect sense. But as things would have it, it's factually impossible. Currently. Well, I said it was complicated in all sorts of ways, didn't I? And it's kind of typically me to find myself in a situation like this, not that I've experienced anything like it before, not at all. It's just the oddness, serendipitiousness, complicatedness of it that seems very me somehow. In the meantime I'm having many fascinating, illuminating conversations about the status with myself over a cup of tea in the company of cats. As one incomprehensibly intellectual naturally does.

Friday, December 01, 2017

hello december

kränku tea calendar 2017 - 40 years jubilee
Kränku tea advent calendar of 2017 - whatever did you do all through December before you found this brilliance?

Feels like pretty much every month this year calls for a "gosh, really gosh, where did the month go??". December first is no exception. I mean, only a few shivering weeks left of this year, how did that happened? How is it even physically possible?

After 2016 being one of my life's worst years, 2017 turned out to have been one of my best. Not without struggles, roadbumps and backlashes, since life isn't meant to be that way. But all and all, a year full of amazing insights and personal growth, great jobs, fantastic people - my tribe! - conversations, laughters. If last year was more about tears than laughter, taking a day at a time, surviving, this year has been more about laughter than tears. Momentum and moving forward. Pieces of the puzzle falling in to place in seemingly serendipitous ways. The best kind of way.

And there's still one lovely month left, if you can see past the glaring consumerism, people's silly self-imposed stress, gluttony and food waste of December, it's a pretty cosy month. When you can light lots of candles, listen to Christmassy music, drink copious amounts of tea and the odd glühwein, eat vegan lussebullar - just realised I haven't posted the vegan recipe of them yet, but it's very similar to this old one, just omit the quark, dairy and egg and use oat milk instead - and just be.

Admittedly the lack of daylight and sun these past few weeks - with global warming there's less snow and with that darker days - with it getting dark at 1 pm already (I kid you not) have turned me into a semi-zombie state. And it's pretty awful. There's only as much as vitamin D supplements and an overall healthy lifestyle can do to beat that. I basically fall asleep in the sofa in front of the TV every evening, completely tied down by a gazillion cats who think I'm the best human heater in the whole wide world. And I'm so darn cold all the time, because even if it's not very low winter temperatures these days (around +/-0 C) there's some crazy clammy nastiness indoors that not even the heat pump can completely beat. I bundle up like the Michelin man and try keeping busy. Dancing helps too.

On the topic of music I've been listening a lot to Cock Robin lately. Had forgot how much I adored them in my late teens. Looking at the videos is quite embarrassing, incomprehensible and daft like videos from the 80-90ies were. Were they even cool back then? And then there's the fashion, the hair styles. Oh dear. But the tunes have aged well I think. The singer's voice is still amazing, the sense of melancholy and sense of urgency is irresistable (even if he looks like he's going to wet his pants any minute. Watch this video for proof of that.) But as a thumb rule, you should never ever watch videos from the 80ies because they always completely destroy the magic of the music.

As it is December I thought I'd make a little summary of how many of the personal and professional goals I did reach this year. On the personal, merely two, but at least the best two. The skin condition and the new recipe every week. The skin condition, which is not back to normal but still so much better. Stress and worry are most probably a big reason behind it all, and with working a lot with that this year it has at least improved conciderably. Also I believe all that sun bathing past summer played a part of improvement. Plus possibly the recent addition of the Dermalogica Ultracalming serum to my skin regime.

And the try new recipes, well I have the vegan food ambassador gig to thank for that of course. Who knew such a thing would appear late in the year and help me with a personal goal? And the three personal goals I haven't ticked, they have been replaced with other things instead. The grief recovery process trumps everything, it has been worth its weight in many chests of gold.

As far as professional goals are concerned I'm happy to report that I've ticked them all. I may not "commute to work every day", but some days I "commute" so much more instead.

Looking forward to setting meaningful goals for next year. It will be fun. Especially when you see great results from previous year.

Last but not least, when someone you haven't known for a long time seems to know you a little bit better than you know yourself. And by that also pushes you outside your comfort zone. How do you react? Of course there isn't one easy for all answer to that. As it falls in the category of pink vegan meringues - which I've come to think of as an analogy for how much humans complicate things - my reaction now is a whirlwind of emotions, bewilderment being one of them. I don't know how it even is possible, as I don't concider myself an open book. Surely not, not even if you read this blog. Nah, obviously I'm an enigma wrapped in a mystery caught in a riddle.

Yet the fact that someone has managed to decipher me, challenge me, unlock things that have apparently been dormant, it does make perfect sense. It has after all been a year of constant revelations. And as one of my best decisions of 2017 has been to trust the process, I'm doing that in this case too. It's not easy to stop being my impatient self, but it is quite liberating. And as I did make a promise to myself last year, one that I'm not about to break, something I have only told one person, it's easier to be patient, intuitive, curious and a dash pious.

It is after all my Latin derived name. Not a name in accord with my personality, but that makes it just a little more... entertaining and easier to emotionally deal with meringue-wise. Which is more... interesting than being boring. Since it's equally important to be both serious and fun, to grow, but I refuse to be boring. Both on the personal and professional arena.

Welcome, dear December, please be as awesome and amazing as you possibly can be.
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