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All the other work

The worst part about having your own company is all the work that is not your core work. I really just want to coach, train, do talks and workshops, mentor – well I want to help individuals and organisations become better versions of themselves.

But it is not enough to run a company…

Potential clients need to know that I exist and what I can do – how else can they find me and get my help?

I have been spoiled with a really good market in most of the years that I have been self-employed, so I have not had to do much besides speaking at conferences and tweeting to get work. And of course network network network.

Well Musk killed twitter and the market is very different now for me as well as for my network… I need to make an effort (gasp).

So I am updating my webpage, which is not my favorite thing to do. Right now I am trying to write about my speaking; things like where I will speak this year, and what I normally speak about in case someone wants to hire me. Eventually I plan to have links to former talks there as well.

Cartman from the tv series South Park is standing at a barrier saying "under construction" and he is using a big drill

On the side I am working on describing what I do in more words than “work on whatever is the most important thing with frequent feedback and collaboration with the client”. I have a variety of skills and knowledge in my toolbox, and since each context is different, different tools apply in each situation. I have worked on creating better planning, on going from vision to something applicable in daily lives, communication, OKRs, psychological safety, conflicts, collaboration, retrospective etc – and that is just for the organisations…

I am collecting testimonials for my webpage as well. But then I have to ask for them, which is probably one of the hardest things for me. Asking people to say nice things about me, if I helped them, feels wrong somehow; I have learned to receive nice statements about me, and even appreciating them and take them in for the most part. Asking for them is a whole other ballgame. That is the hard part. My logic knows that people will often like to help, or they will tell me if not. People also say yes to writing one and then they don’t; they forget, they become busy, they don’t know what to write or maybe they didn’t like to say no to writing something for me. I am practicing asking and have even made a list of people to ask. I haven’t asked that many yet… working on it 🙂

If I helped you somehow whether it was as an individual or as an organisation, please consider writing a nice testimonial to me that I can put on my webpage 🙂

Gitte

Doing marketing and promoting myself is another non-favorite. Things like writing regular blog posts, when I am used to doing my writing, when I am inspired and only then; or writing about some of my successes. I have been brought up to not talk about the good stuff that I do; if I worked hard and did well, people around me would notice. Which is sometimes true, but people are not always around me, my best work is not noticed as it elevates others; and besides promoting yourself is mostly to people, who do not know you yet. Even though I have learned to be proud of my achievements, it is still hard to speak up about it 🙂

There is writing on linked-in and then doing the right things to be seen. Ask friends to comment and share, post at the right time.. So many things to think about.

And don’t get me started on design – because I really don’t know much about it 😉

If you follow me anywhere, you will also know that I dislike accounting. I have been doing the stuff myself the last three years – and messed up two years. So I now found an accountant, who will start with figuring out what I messed up, and try to fix it. I guess it is a bit like debugging 🙂

I think that all these other parts of running a company are super important. I am just not very good at them and I don’t like to do them. Some things you can pay others to do and some things you can’t. Plus you need to make money before you buy services, and you need to promote yourself before you get money… darn I guess I need to get to work on it 😉

The good thing about being self-employed is that you get to decide for yourself; which jobs you take, which conferences you go to, which things you want to work on – all the things. You also face the consequences of your choices and that is how it should be. With freedom comes responsibility 🙂

I like my core work and I really like my freedom. So I guess there is no other way. At least I got some of my frustration out now 😉

A story of courage and friendship

Ten years ago I was at Booster Conference in Bergen.  

My friend Torbjörn Gyllebring alias drunkcod and I met for the third time in person. We had become friends via twitter in the good old days, and I felt like we had known each other forever despite meeting for the first time in October 2013.

Courage workshop

We had wanted to create something for a conference together, and decided on a workshop on exploring courage as we were both inspired by Brene Brown and her talk on the power of vulnerabilty.

We discussed the workshop via dms in twitter (when it was still only 144 characters 😉 ), and ended up with a good abstract – at least we liked it.

To our surprise we got accepted at Booster Conference, so now we had to create the workshop. For this we had a google doc and got started on slides. I can’t even remember if we had a call or if all was done via DM.

The rest of the slides and small add-ons were done the evening before in Torbjörn’s room as it had the best wifi. We had not rehearsed the  workshop, and we had never worked together, so all we had the content – and courage. I felt super relaxed about it, and only found out after the workshop that Torbjörn was really nervous 🙂

Next day we prepared the room, made flipcharts, and ten minutes before the workshop, we realised that we had not talked about who would do which part; well too late for that 🙂

Picture of Gitte Klitgaard and Torbjörn Gyllebring before doing a workshop together. They are wearing tops with hot pink and dark jeans to match.They are standing with an arm around the other and smiling to the camera.
In the background is a flipchart and a screen.

We started and it was so smooth. It felt like we were an extention of each other 💕 It was an amazing and powerful experience for us, and created a good space for the participants.

Torbjörn and I so enjoyed doing the workshop and being at the conference; you should go some time; we did not get as much time to talk as we wanted, but we would be on the same flight and booked seats next to each other, so we would have time. Except that we sat down and fell asleep hand in hand.

The results were surprising to us

The workshop was a success; people explored their courage, and they felt safe enough to share with each other and be brave. The workshop helped and helps people, and I found close friends.

Torbjörn and I just wanted to do something together and share our knowledge; we did not expect that we had created something so powerful!

Many great people helped make that first workshop great like the amazing tester and author @lisacrispin.bsky.social  that I had met for the first time that morning; little did I know that we would become close friends 💕. She still talks of the workshop as a truly transforming experience.

@mfloryan.bsky.social was also there; he later hired me to fill in for a coach on parental leave, which lead me to move permanently to Stockholm. And both he and his family became close friends. 💕

The afterglow

It turned out that it cost Torbjörn a lot of energy to do the workshop, so he only did it a few times. I on the other hand get energy, so I still do this workshop once in a while, and I love seeing the effect it has on people 🙂

Torbjörn and I realised that we have a connection that is truly special, and we became even closer friends. We give each other the longest hugs and it feels like creating a small bubble of care 💕. He gets me like very few people do. I only have to say a little, and he knows what I mean 🙂
And his girlfriend has also become a friend after I moved here 🙂

Over the years I keep being in awe about how much people can do once they find their courage. I cannot tell you about it as those are their stories to tell.

I had never imagined that so many good things could come from one workshop. Especially not one created via twitter 🙂

Contemplations on AIDS day 2023

This post is based on a thread I did on Bluesky yesterday, which became much longer than I had intended. I only planned to write about AIDS day and WHO’s campaign. And then I started thinking. Remembering how it was for me as a young teenager when AIDS started. Many more thoughts appeared and words just came out of my brain and into my hands. I therefore decided to write a blog post and add some things that are not as easy to add on Bluesky. This is the long post that came from that.

Yesterday was World AIDS Day and WHO celebrate the role of communities in driving progress towards ending aids. This would not be possible without communities.

Today most people can live with HIV if they get the right medications – and if it is discovered early enough. Please go get tested if you have a suspicion that you might be infected.

There is research going on about how to cure it. The research that developed the medication for HIV patients have helped in other areas as well. You can read more about AIDS and HIV here or watch a video with an NHS speciality doctor in HIV.

Memories

I recall the 80s, when AIDS was a deadly disease – to begin with no-one even knew about HIV and it was difficult to figure out what the disease was all about; we were afraid to be infected with touch, some even after scientist found out it only infected through bodily fluids.

Many healthcare professionals were afraid to help treat people in the beginning- well to touch people; and some did not want to help as it seemed to only hit gay men. It was late 80s before all started get help. Well almost all in the Western world that is.

I still remember the picture of Princess Diana holding hands with an HIV patient; she gave them hugs as well; she did this to comfort and to show that it was not dangerous to touch patients. And because they needed it. We all need care.

HIV does not make people dangerous to know. You can shake their hands and give them a hug. Heaven knows they need it. What’s more, you can share their homes, their workplaces, and their playgrounds and toys.

Princess Diana of Wales, 1987

Princess Diana’s role modelling changed the narrative and remove (some of) the stigma. She remained an HIV activist till her death.

As a young teenager it was somewhat scary, but didn’t feel super relevant to me.

I recall that gay people had it, but I didn’t know anyone except my cousin, who I lost touch with when he moved to Copenhagen. He ended up dying from aids after having been sick for 4 years.

My cousin was disowned by his dad as soon as he told him that he was gay. Furthermore he forbad his wife to see their son ever again. She was not even allowed to go see him when he was sick and dying from HIV. I never talked to my uncle again even when we were in the same room. This was the first time I encountered homophobia, and even then in my early teens I could not grok how anyone could disown their own kids just because they love people of their own gender. I still don’t understand it.

Homophobia then

In the 1980s I did not see what was going on in the gay community. I was young, not sexually active, and not gay, so my information was mainly from the news, which I did not watch very much. It was not until later that I learned my cousin had died from HIV.

In school we got this cute little comic in 1989 with two young people meeting at a disco, having sex with a condom and talking about how AIDS spreads and does not spread. A very mild way of learning about AIDS and condoms. No fear, just a fun little comic.

So back then I did not see what really happened to the gay community. Aids had spread there first and it was killing people in large numbers; some say that the gay community lost a whole generation. People died at first because no-one knew what was happening; then they died because it was a “not important” minority group. The already exiting homophobia grew.

My friend @the-qa-guy.bsky.social shared this article with me about San Francisco Men Chorus ; they lost many members to AIDS and created a very powerful picture illustrating just how many did. It gives me the chills. It really shows how the gay community suffered from this and how many lives was lost. Shocking. And then the harassment is not even mentioned. It is like it is forgotten somehow.

Bare with me with the following, you will see the context soon: I saw a mini-series “Des” a week ago about a serial killer. The series shows the time from the killer getting caught until the trial and prison, showing how the police tried to identify victims and collect evidence while being shocked about the case. The killer killed 15-16 young men 1978-1983 until he was caught because he clogged a drain with human remains – only 8 were ever identified. He picked the victims that no-one would miss; those living on the streets; hungry people; young gay men who had run away from home. At that time many people went missing in London and few were found.

The series was scary but well presented, and I wanted to know more, so I found three different documentaries. All of them showed how homophobia had allowed the killer to kill without being discovered for so long. Afterwards the press had main focus on the killer and not the victims. They were just gays (or worse terms); even if not all victims were gay, there were put in that box, and there was nothing interesting to write about. No interest in how it could have gone this badly.

At least four young men had escaped the killer and reported it to the police, but it was pushed aside as lovers’ quarrel and nothing was done. Not all police was homophobic, but it was widespread.

It was terrible to watch. I knew that there was a lot of homophobia then, but I was not aware that it was so bad and so ingrained in police, in the press, well in society. Even if it had not been about a killer, it would have been terrible to watch. The way people talked about the gay community as if they were not even humans.

Because of the stigma the police struggled to find witnesses, because people were not willing to be seen as gay in public, or they were terrified. The investigators convinced some of them to be witnesses which helped convict the killer and put him away for life.

One of the documentaries not only showed the stigma and the homophobia in connection with the case, but also how AIDS affected that. The homophobia that was already strong in society grew stronger, and it became even harder to be gay. Papers talked of “the gay plague”, gay papers and bars were burned down etc. And it was seen as a punishment for gay men for their lifestyle.

While I logically knew it was bad for the gay community, I did not know just how horrible it was; I was really just a big kid, but so were some of the people who died then.

Homophobia and other phobias today

Is it better today?

Yes it is; for the most parts gay people are accepted in the Western society; there are actors, football players, politicians, writers who are openly gay. Gay and lesbians can legally marry in a growing amount of countries – latest in Nepal. And not just better for gay people, but for all queers; I hear young people talking about these things as if it is not special; it is one part of people but not their identity. LGBTQIA+ people are visible.

Is it good enough?

NO

This week Russia decided that the “LGBT movement” is an extremist movement. Several countries have death penalties for being gay. Hungary has laws against promoting these “things” to kids (what the rest of us call sexual education).

Yes these are extreme, but even when it is not , there are still hate crimes (some deadly), homophobia, harrassments, homophobs telling horrible stories that are not true about gays. And it seems to get worse – or maybe I am more aware, so I see it more.

I have friends who have to consider if it is safe to hold the hand of the person they are in relationship with, because they might get bullied or worse: beating up or killed.

In Denmark one of the nationalist politicians said that gays and lesbians refugees should be sent back to the countries they come from even if there is death penalty for that. They could just pretend not to be gay and not act it out.

There are libraries that have story time for kids with drag queens, who have had to cancel or get guards because they got so many threats. Last year there was a session planned in a library in Denmark, where the head of the library had to stop answering the phone due to harrassment, and had to tell their staff to never says their last name in case the harassers tried to find them. We are talking about a drag queen reading a story to kids. The excuse for harassing and trying to stop story time is the lie that the drag queens are “grooming the kids”. They are not. They are telling a story- the only ones sexualising the situation are the homophobes.

There are even gay and lesbian communities who go against trans people, which I totally don’t get. Not to mention the discussions on pronouns. Oh I could go on and on.

All the LGBTQIA+ “movement” wants to do is live normal lives, be able to love who they love, be able to walk down the streets without being afraid, be represented in society and just be people.

That is what they are: humans just like us. There are differences but no more than with other people.

Why do I care? I am cis and straight – none of this is relevant for me. I can love and marry who I want (if I can find someone); I can walk safely in so many places in the world. Places where other people cannot.

I care because I believe that you should be allowed to love, who you love, as long as there is consent and all parties are grown-up humans. Love is hard enough to find as it is. I once saw a post saying “You don’t like gay marriage? Don’t marry someone your own gender.” and that is so true.

I care because I have seen what a difference it makes for people to be able to be themselves. These people can be themselves, and we can make a difference for them by seeing them as they are.

We can make a difference for these people even by small things. It can be a bit difficult to learn new pronouns, but it is still a small thing if it helps someone else feel better in their skin. We can see them as they are. We can stand up for them. We can help those less privileged than us no matter what our privilege is.

Allowing people to be who they are and love, who they love does not harm the rest of us.

Gitte Klitgaard 2023

Mostly I care because LGBTQIA+ are humans. Humans have human rights. Giving them these rights do not hurt us. In fact human kind would be better off if we followed human rights in more places. The world is bad enough as it is.

This blog post started with me just wanting to create a small post about AIDS and how communities help; then my thoughs went into the care and worry I have for the LGBTQIA+ people and I ended up with this post.

Please be kind to other people; we are all humans that deserve respect, acceptance, to love and to live. Also be kind to people that are different than you; especially to people that are different than you. And be kind to yourself.

Know that you all matter and you are loved! 💕

Ready to Work

Two weeks ago I did a workshop on psychological safety. Preparing and doing this workshop felt good; and the participants were pleased; I am back in the game 🙂

I wish to stay self-employed, and I am looking for work. So I am available, if you want a workshop/course or a talk from me. I can also be booked for advising, mentoring, 1-1 coaching, facilitation, and coaching. I work with leadership as well as teams, organisations, and individuals on any level.

I prefer working in person especially when working with several people; individual coaching works well remotely and there are several of my clients that I have not met in person. I am willing to travel to some extend.

In consulting I see it as my job to help you find your solution. There is no golden bullet that can solve all there are good solutions that work in a context. This means that I can’t always tell you up front what you need; this is somethings we will find out together. It works best if it is a collaboration between you and me.

I am known for being honest in kind way and for taking difficult topics; making them very concrete and understandable. I may not tell you what you want to hear; if that is what you want, you should hire someone else.

With my background I have a broad knowledge about how an organisation works from strategy, vision, OKRs, finance, organisational health, organisational structure to tech. I have a very deep knowledge about psychological safety, courage, communication, collaboration, leadership, team collaboration, engineering culture, individual and team coaching, not to mention many aspects of agile and other ways of working. I pull in what ever is needed, whether that is risk management or retrospectives. Most tools have value in some context.

Most of my work involve elements of psychological safety, vulnerability and courage, trust, communication, learning environments, helping people think and reflect; retrospectives, working with responsibility, accountability, and clear expectations. These are things I believe matter the most. Engineering culture, agile, going from vision to daily work, processes, structure, planning – my palette is big. I enjoy my work the most, when I can help people grow and do better work.

So what kind of services do I offer?

Common for all my services are that I help people think better, reflect, make decisions, and not least: getting the things done as well as plan them.

I have off the shelf workshops and talks, which can also be customized to fit your needs/wishes. All talks can be done in person or remotely; all workshops can be done in person, and some of them work remotely as well.

The themes of the talks and workshops range from courage, mental health, how to structure work, communication, leadership, working in teams, accountability and responsibility over various topics around psychological safety and more.

I offer individual coaching to people in leadership and teams; I offer regular coaching, where you find the answers by me helping you to think. I also offer a mix of coaching, mentoring, and advising, which is the one that most people are looking for. We will always decide which of these two you want, before we start.

I work with leadership about being modern leaders; on how to implement accountability and responsibility – not just for others, but for themselves; on setting the frames for autonomous/empowered teams; on going from visions and strategy to something that can be used in the work of teams; on how to communicate and choose the right words; on how to get better at creating psychological safety; and I work with leadership on how to listen.

I work with teams on being teams, on taking responsibility, on communicating and collaborating, and much more.

If this sounds interesting, get in touch and let’s see if we are a match 🙂

🧐 So.. What is next?

As I finished my work at Mentimeter, many colleagues asked “What is next?” or “Where are you going?”, and my honest answer was: “I don’t know –  yet”. The only thing I do know is that I will be staying in Stockholm. This is where I feel at home.

Priority one has been taking some rest and taking care of some tough private matters that needed handling. As I now start to feel my head is above water, I have started contemplating what to pursue next.

Stairs made of stones going upwards in a green forest. There are trees on both sides of the stairs and small hedges following the border of the stairs.
The photo is there to symbolise moving forward into something green and fruitful.
Photo by Sebin Thomas on Unsplash

In the meantime I will be doing shorter engagements, meaning I am available, if you want to buy a workshop/courses or a talk from me. I can also be booked for advising, 1-1 coaching, facilitation or coaching short term.

Feel free to reach out if you would like to talk to me about an opportunity.

I will be speaking at conferences like Agile on the Beach and more that are yet to be confirmed/revealed. I might even take part in some podcasts if they sound interesting 🙂

I am holding the door open for longterm things, so if you have just the right employment or consultant gig for me, I am open for input and inspiration 🙂

Maybe I will go back to being an agile coach? Maybe I will be a manager? Perhaps an organisational coach? Do more 1-1 coaching or advising as I have done before? Maybe something totally different? Maybe I will be employed again? Or be a consultant in my own company? 

There are many options. All I know for now is that it will be about helping people grow and feel safe. Working with people and creating good environments is what I do best.

It will most likely involve elements of psychological safety, vulnerability and courage, trust, communication, learning environments, helping people think and reflect; retrospectives, working with responsibility, accountability, and clear expectations. These are things I believe matter the most. It could be working with individuals, teams, leadership, or organisations… Engineering culture, agile, going from vision to daily work, processes, structure, planning – my palette is big. I prefer working onsite as many of the interpersonal skills benefit from being in the same room. 

For now I will continue my contemplations…

What do you think I should do? Leave me a comment please!

Depression – what you see and what you don’t

In connection with #mentalhealthawarenessmonth I wanted to share this to show what it can also look like with high-functioning mid- to severe depression, stress, and taking care of others before yourself.

I am not doing this to get pity or support; I am doing this to create awareness about the difference of what is going on inside and what is going on on the outside.

What you see:

On the surface I am a smiling woman with new t-shirt for the summer, freshly coloured hair, and makeup.

I am functioning fairly well, helping people, listening to the people I am manager for – and others who come to me because I create a safe space for them. I do what I am supposed to do. I smile, I eat.

What you don’t see

What you don’t see, is that I am sad inside, that I was hoping it would help to dress up, but it didn’t. That I didn’t take part in reverse casual Friday for a while – after having posted in twitter, facebook, and instagram it quite consistently for two years.

What you don’t see, is that I had to buy new t-shirts because I gained a lot of weight and I am now on my max ever. Weight from eating too much, eating comfort food, not having the energy, headspace or urge to cook, not having the energy to move (and this is before my post-covid). That I managed to still move out of being pre-diabetic but still becoming more obese.

What you don’t see, is that I cooked once in the three weeks I have lived in my current apartment, because I don’t have the energy – long live microwave food and McDonalds. McDonalds is my guilty pleasure, but I haven’t enjoyed it for a long time. I just eat it because it is fast.

What you don’t see is that I am not done unpacking because it feels like such an enormous tasks and I finally made it to the box with the makeup.

What you don’t see, is that I had my hair coloured a month later than usual, because it is hard to make appointments – especially appointments for me. That I was hoping it would bring me joy; and it is pretty but I have no joy.

What you don’t see, is that most evenings  and weekends the last six months, I did nothing – sleeping a bit, a few sudokus, but I really don’t know what I did with all that time. I used to watch tv, read stuff, meet people. I do still sometimes but almost never on my initiative – and I say no to things. Wanting to be with people, but not wanting to be a burden, so I don’t.

What you don’t see is how I struggle with the question of “How are you?” – do I lie or do I put all this burden on the other person. More darkness than most can handle.

What you don’t see is the frustration, dark pits and sadness and self doubt that I share with my closest friends. Or how often I have the need to do so just so I get it out of my head. Or how often I don’t because I don’t want to be a burden

What you don’t see is friends saying “your dark days become more and more often”, and me brushing it away.

What you don’t see is the weird paradox of knowing that I am good at working with people, organisations, safety, coaching, and at the same tie knowing that I am not providing any value… I deliberately write “knowing”, because that is what it feels like.

What you don’t see is that the energy is used on helping others, and little is left for me. And that I don’t know how to do it any other way (yet – I really hope it is yet).

What you don’t see, is the frustration of realising that I need to reach out for help, and finding it almost impossible to do so – or figure out what to do. Or how hard it is to get help, and not just have a psychologist say “this is not for you, call a doctor” once I finally got around to asking for help (thanks to my boss that pushed me).

What you don’t see is how the mood deteriorating over the last six months into not finding joy in things that I used to enjoy. And not really realising how bad it has become until I filled out a self-assessment sheet.

What you don’t see, is that this week I had meeting where I was crying most of the time, then ate a box of cookies and then going to bed for the rest of the day crying. 

It will be all right.


So the point is: you can’t see what is on the inside. And I can’t tell you what is inside others.

What I can tell you is that I am getting help and talking to a doctor tonight. It will be all right.

I have been here before and I have won every single time.


“Everything will be all right in the end. If it’s not all right, it is not yet the end”…….

Patel, Hotel Manager, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”

See more about what depression looks like from the inside in this video from The Black Dog Institute

Please take care of yourself and get help if you need it – you are worth it <3

Wrapping up things

As I have now done the last two years, I will attempt to write a blog post a day for the 12 days of Christmas; the first year the topic was “Hope”, the second I wrote about what ever comes to mind; seems that this year will be the same. This is the blog post for the fifth day of Christmas 21/22.

Eleven months and 7 days ago I finally moved properly to Sweden; well at least I went and got properly registered as a resident in Sweden after having lived there on and off for more than three years.

Becoming a resident is one thing, and then there are all the other practical things that need to be done like getting a bank account in Sweden, or filling out four pages to be able to keep my Danish account; so much information like where I got my money from; I really had an urge to write “I just want to keep the same account as I have had the last 20 years, so you know where the money comes from..” Sometimes I really had the all the rules that prevent money laundry; I see why they are there, but they sure make it difficult for people like me.

As the year passed, I slowly closed down anything having to do with my Danish company like ending subscriptions, moving the phone number to myself. Where I “owner of Native Wired” signed that I “private person” could take over the number, and then I “private person” signed that I wanted to take our.. Gotta love red tape.

Now the year is ending and I have finished up all the papers from the company; all that is left is to send it to my accountant, who will finish of the financial reporting and very important: calculate my taxes. It is hard enough to figure out under normal circumstances, but with changing countries and closing a company I have no clue. Well worth the money to have my accountant do it. It costs a bit more and then I know that things are settled and I can look forward. I have started my Swedish company and made a bit of money there, so next “fun” thing will be to figure out taxes there..

I am also trying to wrap up the medical things. A year ago I sat for two hours trying to document my Danish medical history, so I could bring it to Sweden. That I have, but the Swedish healthcare seems decades behind on electronic journals, so I am still working on making everything registered there. A good (bad?) example of that is that I got my third shot of Pfizer in Denmark, as they use the leftovers at the end of the day for people without appointments to not waste it. Once an ampoule has been open it has to be used the same day. However it is not possible for me to have my third shot registered in Sweden. The other way works fine: my two Swedish shots are registered in Denmark…

The wrapping up of things feels good. I am starting to really feel the need to build my nest in Sweden. I walk around in shops and remember the stuff I have in storage or look at Christmas decorations and think of those there. I have very little furniture there, but I do have a bunch of personal things, books, kitchen stuff, Yoda and dragon collection, a “tiny bit” of LEGO, and a chest that was my great grandmother’s. I know that once I get the boxes to a home, I will get rid of some of it as I have not had access to it for more than two years, but there is also stuff I miss.

I am luckier than most: I have an apartment in Sweden, and I have a home in Denmark as I have my own room in my best friend’s house, when I am here. Not all have that privilege. And yet I long for my own.

I want to live in an apartment, where I pick the furniture, where I can buy things that I like and not think “why buy something just to put it in storage?”, which happened to me recently when I found an amazing wooden table. A place that is mine, where my roots can start seettling.

To do that I need to get more things wrapped up. I need to close my Danish company, to pay my last Danish taxes, some more Swedish taxes, to get my medical things in order.

And then; then I can move on; I can start building my nest in my new country. I will always be Danish, but Stockholm is the place I have always felt the most at home in.

Now to wrap things up so I can truly be in my place.

Blog post for the first day of Christmas 21/22: Love is all around
Blog post for the second day of Christmas 21/22: The Voice of Reason
Blog post for the third day of Christmas 21/22: Resting to get headspace
Blog post for the fourth day of Christmas 21/22: Building bridges

Building Bridges

A few days ago Archbishop Desmond Tutu died. More than anything he was known to fight for what is morally right – and doing so in a non-violent way. I think this is very important; it played a big part in bringing down the apartheid regime in South Africa (though remains of it still lingers).

But even more important and inspiring, I find his message of compassion, of doing good, of reconciliation and of embracing that we are one people on the planet. That we need to do what is good and right. A man who saw his country suffer and still believed in healing and building bridges.

When we see others as the enemy, we risk becoming what we hate. When we oppress others, we end up oppressing ourselves. All of our humanity is dependent upon recognizing the humanity in others.

Desmond Tutu

He lead The Truth and Reconciliation Commission to promote forgiveness and reconciliation by facing the things that happened. Bringing the truth to people’s attention, allowing victims and perpetrators to meet. From what I have read, this work was very draining and hard for him, and yet he did so because he believed that this was the right thing. That we need to build bridges, to forgive and to embrace differences.

I think we need this today; maybe more than we ever did. Sometimes it feels like our world is becoming more divided, more alienated. That we see others almost as enemies; that we fear what is not from us. That even a thing like covid is splitting us into different sections. And so many nationalist parties are getting traction all over the world; wanting to protect “our own” over what “the others” are bringing, sometimes to keep the others out, sometimes just to keep things as they “have always been“. Which is kind of interesting as nothing we do today is as it has always been. We have not always lived in houses, we have not always celebrated Christmas, we have not always had borders. Even the fact that we have borders is something that we humans invented – to some extend it is an artificial line in the sand…

And while we are different, we are also the same: we are all humans and it would be good if we could see that and we could embrace that our differences can help us. None of us can do all the things; I may have good listening skills, but I cannot work with my hands… Just as one example.

So maybe we should read some of the things Desmond Tutu said and take them to heart, like this quote:

Differences are not intended to separate, to alienate. We are different precisely in order to realize our need of one another.

Desmond Tutu

We do need each other; we can do so much good for each other and while we cannot do everything, we can do something. I tend to want to save the whole world, to make the world a better place, to have people respect, accept, and embrace each other. This is what I have wanted for a long time – most of my life. And we can do something:

If we do things that matter a little to us, and a lot to someone else, we can make the world a better place

Me at 9 years old

It can be very small things like holding the door for someone that carries stuff; smiling at someone and make them feel seen; spend ten min to give someone a lift instead of them spend half an hour on the bus; doing things that matter. And it all adds up in the end.

Don’t just take my word for it. I will end with another quote from Desmond Tutu, who will hopefully be remembered for his kindness, his laughter and his compassion as well as his politics. And may we build the bridges it takes to make the world better.

Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.

Desmond Tutu

Blog post for the first day of Christmas 21/22: Love is all around
Blog post for the second day of Christmas 21/22: The Voice of Reason
Blog post for the third day of Christmas 21/22: Resting to get headspace
Blogpost for the fifth day of Christmas 21/22: Wrapping up things

Resting to get headspace

As I have now done the last two years, I will attempt to write a blog post a day for the 12 days of Christmas; the first year the topic was “Hope”, the second I wrote about what ever comes to mind; not sure what this year will bring yet. This is the blog post for the third day of Christmas 21/22.

When I started this year, I had the idea that I would at least start with a few blog posts about love, but my brain decided to take me in different directions 🙂

This year has been stressful in many ways. Corona is still the haunting us with all that it entails of fear and uncertain; my last gig as independent was so stressful that I would sometimes cry myself to sleep. My first boss as an employee drained me, and I am still recovering from that. My job now is very exciting, we are doing a lot of things at the same time and we could really use some more engineering managers to help pull the load, so it also takes its toll.

I am working on it getting better and started seeing a stress therapist that is helping me figure out why I get there. She is really good and helps me feel things that I only knew logically before. Things like saying out loud that I value myself lower than others, which means that I will take care of them even when I am already running on fumes. I logically know that I need to take care of myself to take care of others, and yet that is not what I feel. I do some self-care, but not nearly enough and it is draining. It does mean that others feel safe, feel better, feel taken care of – or maybe don’t see what things would have been, if I had done nothing. It is good that others are taken care of; it is not good that it sometimes comes with a high cost for me.

I have learned to take better care of myself; I have not yet learned how to do that if it means that something important does not get done.

One of the results of this year has been that so many things have fallen between chairs for me, and I feel constantly behind on things. Some of them are small, but still feel like impossible tasks to get done. I get a bit done here and there – mostly when others depend on me, and I prioritize my own things lower to the extend that I may not ever get there.

Today I actually got a lot of stuff done; from accounting to sending a package, from laundry to looking at nice Christmas Trolls and figuring out which of these cuties go on my wish list. I finally had the headspace.

I think it is because of the resting. I have been off work for ten days now and except for some small things with family and the friends, I live with when I am in Denmark, I have done a lot of nothing. I have done small things like taking part in the chores of the house, I have celebrated Christmas, but most of all I have chilled, rested, watched movies, taken naps, talked, listened to music… resting…

Today started the same way.. Slow breakfast with a paper newspaper including doing the daily crossword and sudoku, small walk in the sun to send a package, putting on facemask, eating leftovers. And then my head was back and I got so much done in not very long time. I still have a few tough ones on my todo list, but I feel hopeful that I will get them done.. Now that I have the headspace 🙂

Do you rest enough to get things done?

Blog post for the first day of Christmas 21/22: Love is all around
Blog post for the second day of Christmas 21/22: The Voice of Reason
Blog post for the fourth day of Christmas 21/22: Building bridges
Blogpost for the fifth day of Christmas 21/22: Wrapping up things

The Voice of Reason

As I have now done the last two years, I will attempt to write a blogpost a day for the 12 days of Christmas; the first year the topic was “Hope”, the second I wrote about what ever comes to mind; not sure what this year will bring yet. This is the blog post for the second day of Christmas 21/22.

Yesterday when I talked about starting on these 12 posts, my girl reminded me that the last two years I have sometimes been very frustrated as I was not inspired and really felt like I need to write something. I couldn’t recall feeling that way; sure I was a bit late with some posts, but I didn’t recall the frustrations…

And yet here I am in the evening of the second day frustrated that I do not know what to write, and that I decided to write these posts. I could of course just write two posts tomorrow – but then that would be cheating. And once again Cathrine comes with the voice of reason:

“How is that cheating? There is no rule that says you have to write a blog post a day.
You set up the constraints and only you can decide if you break the constraints that you have set up for yourself.

paraphrased Cathrine, as she said it in Danish 🙂

She is right. I set up the rules and the constraints, and I am the one, who can choose to break them. It is not a law, it is not a rule, it has no consequence if I don’t do it.

Well except that it would be wrong!

For as long as I can remember, I have had a very strong sense of what is right and what is wrong. Which can be good in many cases; being fair is a very good virtue in my eyes. This means that I don’t cheat as that would be wrong.

When we organize the German Agile Coach Camp, we have a lottery as we have more people interested in participating than we have places. And I spend a lot of time making sure that this is done in a fair way. I use randomized numbers, I don’t skip anyone, I fit people into the rooms, check if they want to share or not, I do my best to make people share with the ones they want (if the other person got in), which means that is a lot of shifting people around in a spreadsheet until it fits and it is fair. I hope we can get back to organizing it in 2022 after these two covid years…

Back to focus: I have a very strong feeling of right and wrong – such as “a blog post a day” means writing it on that day; maybe stretching it to “before going to bed that day” like last year, where I wrote the blog post for 31rst of December as people were outside watching the fireworks after midnight.

But not only that; I also make rules all the time. And I find it very hard to break these rules even though they are rules that I make up myself for myself. I think I have always done this and I am not sure why. One of my friends told me that kids, who grow up with one or more substance abusing parent make all sort of rules to survive, and that resonated so much with me – so maybe I do know why.

Well isn’t it good to have rules?”, you may ask.

Yes sometimes it is; it helps us to interact with others, it helps us to make structure. I have a rule that if I mess up, I try to fix it, whether that is apologizing or cleaning up – because that is the right thing to do. I think that is a good rule as I take responsibility for my actions – even when I don’t feel like doing what it takes.

And sometimes the rules don’t help us at all. Sometimes they are old legacy from family that may have made sense once, but make no sense anymore to us; yet we still follow them. Sometimes they are obligations – “shoulds” that pushes us to do things that we may not want – but maybe if we do it, we will be loved. If you want to know more about shoulds and family rules, and how to change them into guides, I recommend looking into Virginia Satir’s work, this post by Esther Derby – or ask me .

And sometimes we continue to make rules for ourselves as we grow up. I even have rules about peeling potatoes; as I like raw potatoes, I can only eat a bite of the raw potate for every three potatoes that I peel – that way I don’t eat too much. And I still follow it.

Can I decide to break my own rules and constraints?
Yes I can as my girl made me aware.

Will I?

That is a much bigger question and one that won’t be answered tonight as I have made the question into a blog post, so I still follow the rule of one blog post a day for the 12 days of Christmas.

Blog post for the first day of Christmas 21/22: Love is all around
Blog post for the third day of Christmas 21/22: Resting to get headspace
Blog post for the fourth day of Christmas 21/22: Building bridges
Blogpost for the fifth day of Christmas 21/22: Wrapping up things