And I’m both excited and terrified.
I’m excited because I’m finishing a project that I set out to do in May last year. A project of creating something. Something I felt missing before. It’s thrilling, tingling in my legs and hopping around in my belly.
And I’m terrified (a sensation that wants to pull all this tingling inside under my sternum) because I have told so many people about this and now it’s getting real. I spent an hour crying today because suddenly this doubt is creeping up. Why would these word matter, just because I think something was missing before? And I have told so many people about this project now, so I feel like I created an expectation around me. And of course, this also helped me finish it.
Aargh the combination of will and fear, pride and the painful awareness that this really is not a serious problem.
And in the conversation with my friend, who I called in order not to be alone with this and figure out, how not to drown in self-pity, I realized something:
People tell me they benefit and are inspired by me showing vulnerability and strength. They say it is inspiring that I share stories that are so personal. They appreciate it and at the same time ask me if I’m not scared to publish those stories.
And of course, I am! Every time. It is super uncomfortable.
Any time I post or publish something, I am wondering, how people are going to react and if they are going to put me down in some way. If I’m being too much or too vulnerable, too personal, too…
And so far the opposite has happened.
Of course, this can be because I’m not important enough or I don’t spell tap with two ‚p’s. (But then again, this is a description of most people.)
And if actually, we all enjoy vulnerability so much. And we get touched by it. And all we need to do is do it, to notice that it’s actually not that dangerous (certainly here. in “safe country”. where we can say what we want. and where we can leave when we want)…
Then all we need is to learn to do it. To continue to do it. And make sure we can. Right?
I started this vulnerability thing out of a necessity.
I didn’t know what else to do. So I’m sure there is something personal about the way I do it. But I didn’t do it without being afraid. I didn’t do it without doubt or feeling like a failure in between. I do it despite all of this.
And with the realisation, that I’m really not important enough for people to hurt me for it. And after noticing that people often reacted with relief for needing to hide less with their own vulnerabilities or questions around me, when they heard/read my story.
Last year someone asked me, how I live my life so easily. She asked me at a time when I was considering to write something more substantial than a single blog post. A book of sorts, that can go a bit deeper and elaborate on some terms I’m using. Trying to find a language, that is simple, personal, vulnerable and still doesn’t need to cautiously touch things with velvet gloves (literal translations from German, sorry ???? )
I was thinking of a book, to share an example how I use everyday life as the training ground for dealing with crazy moments, that sometimes seem to make life „hard“.
Everyday Presence. (Is the title of the book.)
Because I believe that the attention I pay to my body in meaningless, random moments trains for the moments that are intense. Because learning to pay attention and stop automatic reactions – even if they are silly like whether I have the same breakfast every day, always go in the sauna three times or which kind of coffee I drink, allows me to train being in a slightly uncomfortable moment. It also shows me so clearly, how discomfort can come from simply doing something other than I used to (because clearly there is nothing to worry about, if I only go in the sauna for two rounds and yet, it feels almost superstitiously wrong). It allows me to train with this discomfort and train my humour, my ability to see how absurd feelings can sometimes be. And how – no matter how absurd they are – feelings need attention for a moment, need to be acknowledged and then I can move on.
I didn’t write about the weird divorce. I didn’t write about how I dealt with the deaths of two important people in my life during the past three years. I didn’t write about the bliss of the summer with two weeks of play and amazing connections last year. I didn’t write about the pain of the abortion and the loneliness in it, despite taking a decision consciously and together four years ago. I didn’t write about how I decided to have cats and then noticed that the experiment didn’t work and the shame involved in giving them away again. I didn’t write about the feeling of freedom in that moment where a dance with a stranger turns into a kiss and a night becomes special.
I don’t present huge transformational experiences or encounters, I don’t talk about the great changes in life – that I have experienced. There are many books about those. I have found many inspiring stories. And I have experienced big transformation, big loss and big love. But the ease that people ask me about, I find, comes from training to adjust and play with discomfort, habits, feelings at any time. (And ease is also different seen from outside and in, I think… But yes, I do move on and movement is a key word in my experience of life.)
In the book that I just sent to be printed, I write about everyday life. I write about un-dramatic things like how I bike or am at a random dance-event. Aiming at staying honest and direct in any little conversation, not doing something that’s against my values, even in a little ‚unimportant‘ moment. I know I fail. I know I hurt. And I am sorry for those times. It’s not about being perfect. But to me, the difference from being overwhelmed by huge feelings and challenges to actually being able to just be there, move through it and be curious to distinguish if anything is really dangerous right now, comes from taking the everyday practice seriously. Prioritising integrity in any part of my life. Humour, with kindness and directness to practice attention in everyday life. So that this is a skill that is strong, when everything turns intense and the time to practice is over.
I’m living an intense life at an intense time… So I still experience the waves of those bigger moments. They take me by surprise. They touch me, they take me with them every now and then for a moment. But I don’t drown anymore or give up on enjoying. On connecting. On my values. Even if everything is thrown up in the air, I know I will be able to land eventually.
And I can still concentrate on other things, too. I can still be with other people. Even when things go down or are crazy in my life, I can hold space for them.
And in the end THAT is what I’m curious about. People and how they grow.
How we learn. Different perspectives on lives. Bodies, stories and experiences. In the end, that is why I’m curious and why I aim to create trustful, silly spaces – because I’m curious to hear those stories and be amazed by all that is part of the human experience. And because telling these stories in a safe space can be such a relief.
So… I have no idea what I’m doing, but this is the kickoff.
If you are curious and want to follow the progress of this process and the book
– you can sign up here: Email list about Everyday Presence
(and nothing else, I promise.)
I’ll invite to a release party sometime soon as well as I will share other activities that might happen around the release.
Thank you for being part of my safe space.
PS. My German friends told me not to call it a book because it is easy to read and short. So: it’s thoughts in the format of a book.
PPS. It will also be very, very beautiful, as the wonderful Emma Ekstam
agreed to draw illustrations.