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Hope and sacrifice

Sixth day of Christmas – and today it was hard to find a topic; I have been surprised about how easy it was the other days.

After some contemplation I realised that I had been reading about hope many times today. I went to Moesgaard Museum today with two 18-year olds; it is a marvellous museum that has great exhibitions – not only do they have the items of the past, they also tell stories that make the things come alive. If you are ever in Århus, I recommend going.

First we went to the special exhibition on Pompeji and Herculaneum that were destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvio in AD79, and hope was everywhere. Hopes that were about the disaster: The hope of escape, the ship that was sent out in hope of being able to save the people, the hope of protection your kids. All hopes that were not fulfilled as people died on the spot from burns, toxic gases, or ashes… And there was the hope of the daily lives: the baker’s hope of becoming a mayor in the city, or the hope of fertility of the land and the loins, which was helped along by having phallus around the house… Something you would not see today 🙂

As we moved through the exhibitions of the first humans in Denmark, of the first farmers, Vikings, bog man from the Iron Age, there were elements of hope everywhere. There were tales of sacrifices in the hope of better future, better crops, better health, better luck in war; sacrifices of food, people, dogs, pots, necklaces, weapons… the list goes on and on… Did it work? We will never know; all we know is that people in many ages throughout history made sacrifices to gain hope…

I wonder if we do that today. And if we do, what do we sacrifice? Time with loved ones in hope of a better career? Time in hope of money? Career? A better lifestyle?

What do you sacrifice? And is it worth the hope you gain?

Removing hope

Fifth day of Christmas and still going strong. Well maybe not strong, but at least I am sticking to producing a blog post about hope every day. So far is has worked out that I got inspiration somehow during the day. And though the posts may not be profound, I still hope that they will cause some reflection and contemplation.

Today it will be about removing hope.

The inspiration came as I was going through my expenses. For several years I have supported a bunch of charities with money every month no matter what my financial situation was. I have come to realise that I will not be able to help everyone and that some of the charities are closer to my heart than others.

But it pains me. I know that some of the charities are really struggling and they need the support. And as I was looking for email addresses to tell the organisations that I will no longer support them, I look at the messages saying how supporting them creates hope for people. Which makes me feel like I am now removing hope, and that gives me a knot in the stomach. I am removing hope from bullied kids, sick kids, people in need.

That sucks. I also know that I have helped them over the years and that I can use the money to help in other places. I gave up supporting hospital clowns, Folkekirkens nødhjælp, and julemærkehjem. All really great causes – as many charities are.

I kept two charities:

  • “Verdens skove” (World’s forests) that helps protect and grow forests and vegetation in Denmark and abroad. Originally they helped only in the rain forest, but now they also help locally.
  • And TUBA – terapi til unge og børn af alkoholikere (Therapy for young and children of alcoholics); this therapy is not covered by the state and I know from experience how much that is needed, so this is personal to me.

I have the same problem, when it comes to helping people: I find it extremely hard to say no to people, if I know that I can help them, that I can make them feel better about themselves, that I can listen, that I can give them hope. And yet I must learn to say no to some.

I can’t help everyone, so all I can do is hope someone else will help where I cannot.

Is there room for hope?

Fourth day of Christmas and it is not getting easier to find topics 🙂

As I was packing one of my suitcases, my friend came by and said: “I think you should write about hoping to have room for things”, so I will give that a shot.

She was off course saying this, because I was trying to fit in my new dinosaur, other Christmas gifts and some kitchen stuff from my storage in Denmark. And yes I was hoping that it would all fit. Just as I am hoping that I can make all my things fit in my apartment in Stockholm. It is fairly small and I have a bunch of stuff despite getting rid of a lot the last few years.

It also got me thinking: do we leave room for hope in our lives?

As I wrote the other day, I am not very good at having hopes for myself; I am so much better at helping others finding new hope. So I am not good at leaving room for it.

But what about other people? Do they leave room for hope in their lives? Or do they just go on their way? Do what they are supposed to do? Get caught up in the daily life?

I don’t  know.

Do you leave room in your life for hope?

Sharing hope

Third day of Christmas and my third blog post.

Today I have been contemplating about sharing hope.

I had a conversation with an 18-year old boy, who is struggling with not feeling good enough always, feeling like he is the one doing everything wrong, and trying not to be in the way. In short many of the things I have been struggling with when I was younger… And sometimes still struggle with.

So I told parts of my story; how my mom could make me feel like the worst person even when I logically knew that I was not the one at fault. I talked about how I felt relieved when my mom died. Despite not having seen her the last six years of her life, I felt like a burden was lifted from my shoulders; I never had to be afraid of her again.

I almost lost my sister then; because unlike me she felt huge sorrow and our different reactions almost drove us apart. I am glad that it didn’t.

“So what does this have to do with sharing hope?”, you might think.

I am glad you asked 🙂

By sharing my stories, how I suffered, how I evolved, and where I am now, I gave this young man hope. Hope that one day he can feel differently; that one day he can be the success that he sees me as.

So share your stories; you never know who needs to hear it.

Who is hope for?

Second day of Christmas means second day of my hope blogging challenge.

As I wrote yesterday, I am doing this as a challenge together with a guy from New Zealand. This also means that he posts ahead of me every day.

Today in my morning (his evening) we talked about how it is nice that we have this common challenge, because otherwise we would not get it done. Then Ed wrote “I am giving myself permission to do it mainly for me” – and I realised that I am doing this mainly for other.

I took up the challenge because I wanted to induce hope to others and that has worried me. So I put a lot of pressure on me to make it good enough. Will I be able to help people find hope with what I write? Will it be good enough? Will it make a difference for anyone?

Besides that I put a lot of pressure on myself, it is also a typical thing for me to do: helping others before thinking about myself, so it got me thinking.

Once again it made me aware that I am much better at caring for others than for myself. I still do not have any solutions for what to do, but I do know that I need to start creating hope for me and not only for others.

There is still hope

On the 14th of December, Dave Snowden tweeted and asked for inspiration for themes for 12 days of Christmas blog.

I suggested gratitude, and Ed Strafford from New Zealand suggested hope. I really liked having positive themes and found that those could be inspirational, which I find lacking in the world.

Somehow it ended up with a mutual challenge for Ed and I: We will each make blog posts on hope for the 12 days of Christmas.

The modern world is magical: two people, who never met, from opposites of the world – almost as far apart as you can get, who did not even know of each other 11 days ago, will go on a common mission: spreading hope into the world for 12 days.

On to the first post:

Yesterday was Christmas evening, which is the time, where we get presents in Denmark. I was celebrating with my extra family – my chosen family – Elisabeth and I met in “gymnasium” in 1987 and have been friends ever since. Now we are as close as sisters and her kids are my kids as well.

Her and her family have supported me as I have grown from being afraid to stand outside the norm to being my whole self with all that is. I think they have not just supported me; they have enabled me to grow.

The whole family: husband and kids, parents, siblings, and all.

A really good example of the acceptance and care is the gift that I got from my boy and his girlfriend: a big fluffy dinosaur in perfect colour 🙂

Niels remarked that I looked like a seven-year-old girl sitting on the floor unwrapping my plush toy – and that is how I felt as well.

If I can go from using all my energy to fit in to a person that will appreciate a plush dinosaur gift, then there is hope.

We can change, we can embrace who we are, we can be all of ourselves.

Taking care of yourself by asking for help

Sometimes the same thing seems to pop up again and again within a short period of time. It might be coincidence, or it could be that I am just particular aware of that thing.

At the moment that thing is about help – especially help in connection with mental challenges.

 

Two weeks ago, it was #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek in England, and a lot of tweets appeared concerning this.

This is an area that matters a lot to me. A lot of people living with mental health problems including me, and in many cases, it is a taboo; we don’t talk about it as if it disappears when we don’t talk about it.

It won’t.

In fact, it might get stronger.

 

By talking about it and being aware of it, we can start addressing the problems and taking care of the people, who suffer from problems. And equally important, we can start working on good mental health.

I talk about taking care of others, and I believe, we can all help each other. We also need to take care of ourselves, but boy can that be hard. It is so much easier to take care of others; to see how others can help themselves and care for themselves.

 

I am getting better at it; I have not worked much this year as I was getting exhausted last year doing too many things; awesome things, but never the less too many.

I am not that good at saying no to awesome things 🙂

So, this year I mostly rested, try to eat healthier, drink more water; I might even start this exercise thing.

 

Still, I have fluctuated a lot and have felt quite down at times. Doubting myself, and my abilities as an agile coach and as a person. Feeling lost, feeling exhausted despite sleep, and I am struggling to find my energy and my joy.

 

And then I ask for help. Sometimes the help I need is that someone listens to me, sometimes I need something active I can do, some advice. Like when I asked on Twitter about how other people find energy.

Mostly I need someone to care enough to listen. I am in the lucky position to have a bunch of good friends who help me. Who encourages without judging and who cares for me.

 

One of my friends sends me pictures 2-3 times a week; pictures of his two cats sleeping to encourage me to rest 🙂

 

Another place where mental health popped up was in conversations with friends. At the moment I have a few friends, who are in a fragile mental state and who have been wise enough to reach out.

 

So, I also help people. Since I suffer from depressions, struggle with self-worth and imposter syndrome, not to mention had two burnouts myself, I know a lot about what not to do, and what to do to prevent it. Or at least I know what works for me, and some tips & tricks besides that. Some need me to listen, some need encouragement, and some need advice.

Not only because they are stressed, but also because they may have had a shitty day at work, a lot of things on their mind, lack of confidence, etc.

We all need emotional support once in a while <3

 

A specific tool I use is something I call “Getting permission from someone else.”

As mentioned earlier we often know how to take care of other and not ourselves. And part of that for me is to allow myself to do the thing that would help me right now. Often that means saying no to someone or something, and I have problems doing that as I begin to feel I am being a bad person.

For example, when I am really stressed, I do see the signals, but I am not yet able to stop. And luckily, I have a friend, I can call and say “please give me permission to cancel x.” Like in late 2014, where I had to cancel a talk at a conference. It was almost two months before, so the conference had plenty of time to find a new speaker, and still, it felt like I was letting the conference down. So, I got his permission to cancel.

I don’t really need his permission, as I am a grown woman – but it helps, and that is what matters.

At the moment, I am one of my friend’s “permission slip.” We talked about her taking breaks and taking care of herself. Saying no to meetings, and pulling a bit back at work. She knows it is necessary and yet it feels hard.

I so know that feeling; it feels like you are not doing enough, almost like you are cheating.

So, when she feels bad, I am her safety line. She calls me and gets permission to care for herself.

 

Most of us know we need to take care of ourselves; when we fly, the staff say, “remember to secure your own oxygen mask before aiding others.” Yet we find it hard to do.

We need to take care of ourselves, and sometimes asking for help is the best way of doing that.

When was the last time, you asked for help to take care of yourself?

You are worth it.

This post was first published as a guest post on http://marcloeffler.eu/2017/05/30/taking-care-of-yourself-by-asking-for-help/?lang=en

Guest Blog: Glitter on the Day Job

Today I got lots of curious looks from the people noticing my newest gadget: a butterfly glitter tattoo on my arm. And odd it is, wearing a child’s decorative art as an adult, isn’t it? After all we have to do serious work here, right? And we need to be efficient. And produce solutions that work in this reality. Within time and within budget. Solutions that create revenue.

Okay, so we have advanced from a working model where people are nothing but resources. And we tolerate enjoyment at the workplace – because we acknowledge that it makes people more motivated and maybe that pays in to the primary goal of making money that every company has. Might also prove useful as people tend to get diseases as burn-out more and more often these days.

But a glitter tattoo? That surely is going too far, right? I mean, imagine how the world would be if everyone focused on whatever gave them inspiration. Just because they found it beautiful. People not working because they have to and doing what they are told. But freely following their own creativity and bringing forward their topic by heart. Imagine the happiness they’d share in their breaks and the inspiration they’d exchange. Imagine the energy buzzing in this “working sandpit”. The enthusiasm that would find its way into the products they created.

Well… actually that is a world I would like to work in. It is the world I lived in last weekend at the Agile Coach Camp Germany 2017 (which is also where I got the awesome tattoo). Yes, we need to focus also on what it takes to survive. As people and as a company. But is this such a contradiction? I think it isn’t. And that’s also what several empirical approaches suggest, e.g. the Agile Manifesto or this study of the Social Market Foundation.

That is why I’m wearing my glitter tattoos with pride and with joy. They are an anchor in daily life, inspiring me and reminding me of what the world can be like. If we only want it.

 

Guest Blog by Anke Maerz

Anke Maerz started to work as a Scrum Master in 2014. Really getting involved with the agile mindset, she is now persuing appreciation, vulnerability and wholeheartedness with her teams and with the world.

Why it took me so long to make my playpplication

So for play4agile we are asked to make a playpplication (application to play: clever, right?)
See here what a playpplication is

Some things are just so important that you have to do what it takes to get to that goal – and play4agile is that important.

Basically I hate doing playpplications – so why am I doing this?

My big problem is that whenever someone asks me to do something creative or make art, I totally freeze; my brain goes into lalalallala mode and pretends not to hear me. It almost feels like a physical barriere.

2015 was the first year that we were asked to make a playpplication – not only that, but a video… Brain panicked totally; I struggled with it so long and even considered not to go. I never filmed myself, I have never made a video, and I have no clue about how I even get a video from my phone to anywhere..

I really struggled – torn between going home to my play4agile and making a video – luckily my friends Sam and Karen decided that I had to go and made a video for me with the help of Steve. And even watching them was hard to do.

So why now?

You might be thinking “but now you are in the organisor team, so we do we have to make a playpplication this year?”.

Well I am not alone in the organisor team 😉
And to be honest, I still hate making one

So why?

  1. This time you can choose, so it is not limited to video
  2. There is no quality criteria, so anything goes (as you can see from this)
  3. You do not have to make it public (which might scare some away)
  4. And I do like the idea of people needing to make an effort to get in, so we get people, who are truly interested.

So this is my playpplication:

Because it is my agile family, my wonderful Rückersbach, my play4agile, my eventbrite – I have no choice, I have to go..

 

First created as a page, now a post 🙂

She/hers/her

Today I attended a talk with a new friend that I met at GOTO Amsterdam, Michael Brunton-Spall. (Twitter profile).

He was giving a great talk about security and agile, but that is besides the point of this blog.

What struck me was his introduction, where he said his name, what he did and that his pronouns were He/His/Him. I liked it, but couldn’t but my finger on why.

I have several trans friends and I do my best to always use their proper pronouns. I do sometimes forget when I have known them before the transition, but I try.

And I have seen twitter profile where people state their pronouns, but never heard someone in the non-virtual world introduce himself, themselves, or herself this way.

So after the talk, I asked Michael: “Why did you use your pronouns when introducing yourselves?”

He told me that many trans feel compelled to explain their pronouns and this is one of the few things he can do as a white-cis-male to help normalise gender awareness and to open peoples mind to the possibility that those may not have been his pronouns.

I never considered this. I like the idea and it feels like something that is easy to do, and could mean a lot to a bunch of people. So I am strongly considering to start doing this.

My only worry is: what would trans people think about me white-cis-female doing this? Would they feel offended? Would they appreciate it? Would it help them?

 

What do you think?

Update:

One of my friends showed me this page on pronouns, so if you want to look more, check out this: Gender Pronouns