Thursday 28 September 2017

Pockets of bliss in a sea of loneliness

I wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Automatically, I reach up to put the toilet seat down - only to realize that it's down already. And my sleepy brain remembers that he's not here.

It's the smallest things that give you a painful reminder of your lover's absence. I used to be annoyed when he left the toilet seat up, and we had silly arguments about it. "WHY CAN'T YOU PUT THE SEAT DOWN?" I would yell.
He would shout back: "WHY CAN'T YOU PUT IT UP?" Touché.

But now I miss it. I miss all the stupid little things that I like to complain about: The little cutting board with the remnants of the apple he ate late at night, left on the coffee table. The half-finished cups of tea all over the house. The used teabags in the sink that used to annoy me so much. I miss them. 
It's too quiet in the house. I always think I will like finding the house exactly how I left it, but I don't.
I miss the welcome-hugs after coming home from work.
I miss having him there to tell him all about my day.
I miss being able to share good news with him. Do you know how hard it is when something good happens and you can't share it right away? IT'S AGONY.
I miss our midday phone calls when I'm at work. We always talk at least once, and I miss these talks so much.
I miss his assurances that "everything will be okay". When I get insecure, or worried about the future, or just have a bad day, he can talk me down the ledge like nobody else can.

He's been gone 12 days now. Another 6, and he will be back.
It worries me that I miss him so much. The little voice in my head never tires to remind me that some day? The separation may be permanent.

So I try to enjoy my time as "single" girl.
I binge-watch Netflix, eat junk food and drink wine.
I get a lot of work done; that's good.
I go to a wedding celebration and have a fantastic time. That night, I don't miss him at all!
I get a phone call from a friend, offering his help. The next day, he comes by, just to make sure I'm doing okay.
I go to the neighbourhood pub and have a nice time; everybody knows my name (just like in Cheers!), and a 67-year old man mildly hits on me. It's both awkward and strangely flattering at the same time.

My "single" girl days are okay. I'm fine. I have some great moments, where I feel strong and happy and proud of myself.
But mostly? I'm lonely.

I haven't been a single girl in 15 years. And I'm very happy about it. I have never been good at being alone; I love being in love. 
I know that you're supposed to be alone. Figure out who you are. Know that you can make it on your own.
I was alone for a couple years in my early twenties, and I was so miserable and lost, I think of those years as the bleakest and most depressing ones of my life. I did learn things about myself: That I'm stronger and braver than I think I am; that no matter how desperate things are, I never lose hope; that I can survive.


Monday 25 September 2017

Boss Women: Mariah

One of the best things in life is when you meet someone new and you connect right away. Something clicks, and you feel like you have known this person all your life. It's awesome.
That's how I felt when I first met Mariah.
For a few years before meeting her I had been wrestling with the question of whether or not to have kids. Deep down I knew that I didn't want to have my own children, but the surprising resistance of people around me rattled me. I felt alone and alien in my decision, because seemingly every single woman in my life was all about the babies, and made me think something about me must be wrong.

But then I found Mariah. Not only was I drawn to her wit, get-shit-done attitude and her openness, but she was a fellow 'child-free' woman! She provided a space on her previous blog to bring women like me together, and she managed to finally make me feel confident in my decision.

Together with another blog-friend we ran a link-up for several months, and have stayed in touch ever since. Oh, and we have never met IRL - she's one of those special people who can touch your life in the most positive way from behind a computer screen!
When she started her own business, I was ecstatic for her. In the 4 years I have known Mariah, she has been cheering me on consistently in all my small and big endeavours, and I knew that she had found her calling. Supporting other women turning their dreams into reality is what she is meant to do! Take it away, Mariah!

Q: Can you tell us about your business?
A: I run Bloom Hustle Grow where I help women bring their business dreams to life. If you have the desire and passion to share your special skill/talent with the world, you can make it your business. I love getting to be a part of that by helping you establish strategic direction, actionable steps, and build processes that allow you to hustle easier. You should be running your business, and not feel like it is running you. I don't want to see anyone give up on their dreams just because they can't figure out the business side or tech side of getting it all organized.
Q: How did you come up with the idea?
A: I really struggled with coming up with my “passion.” I always loved hearing people share their passions and was always inspired by other’s going after their thing but just felt like I was not going to find my thing. Until I realized my passion was helping other people follow their passion. My passion is the business of it all!
Q: How did you get started?
A: Well, I knew I wanted to have a business helping other business owners, but I wasn’t exactly sure what that looked like. I met with a few other business coaches who encouraged me to pursue that path. I have more of a strategic/processes focus than some coaches and waiver between the title of coach or strategist/consultant. But I’ve never been one to fit into a neat box anyway so why should my biz title be any different. Personally, I like the title of a get shit done coach but I’m not really edgy enough to give out cards that have shit in print, and it’s not great for SEO. 😂
I have a business background with an MBA and a B.S. in business. Most of my prior 9-5s were figuring it out project by project and building a business is not all that different. I’ve always been great at planning and seeing the big picture but also not missing out on the details which comes in handy with helping others focus and get a plan in place.

Q: You quit your job in order to start on your own. What gave you the final push to take such a big step?
A: I was unhappy with my job and wanted to do something that I really enjoyed and got to show my talents. While I would like to have an “I am woman hear me roar” kind of story, I would have taken a lot longer (maybe never) if my husband didn’t give me the push and encouragement to go for it.
No riveting story here. After months of my husband saying just quit and figure it out.  I gave notice, and then 3 days later we found out we were moving to California, so it kind of worked out anyway.
Q: Do you have help, or do you do it alone?
A: I’m a solopreneur so no assistants or anything at this time. But of course, there are all kinds of wonderful fellow bosses who have definitely helped me (and continue to help me) along the way in less of an official capacity.
Q: How do you find clients? Do you advertise/use social media/network?
A: Networking is a big part of getting coaching clients since it’s more of a one-on-one relationship. But certainly social media and doing guest posting, joint collaborations/webinars help to make those initial contacts.
Most of building an online business is establishing that like, know, trust factor, especially for service-based businesses. Any way that you can become and show you are a “real” person is going to help you, which is why connections/collaborations are so important. If someone invites you to do a collaboration (guest post, webinar, podcast, etc.) that shows a certain level of trust by that other party.

Q: What does a typical day look like?
A: I love a good routine, but not too much of a routine. 😉  No two days are the same since I work with clients and those happen on different days and times. Most days include some kind of call/meeting, social media time, content writing (whether blog posts, newsletters or other content like courses/webinars/social media postings), and email/administrative work.
Q: What’s the best part about being your own boss?
A: The freedom!! You don’t have to worry about dwindling vacation days or commuting/clocking-in.
Q: What's the worst?
A: The worst part is that you are basically on the clock all the time. It’s a bit all consuming at least for me. You have to learn to be very intentional with your time, and that includes self-care/down-time.
Q: Did you always want to own your own biz, or did you decide that more recently?
A: It’s something I’ve always thought about since being in college, but not necessarily a life long dream. I’ve always been a bit bossy, so I guess it comes naturally. 😉
Q: Who is your ideal client? Is it primarily catered to businesses selling something, or do you also help bloggers/writers?
A: I work mostly with female entrepreneurs selling their services or products (but primarily services). Many of my clients come to me because they are overwhelmed with #allthethings, can’t stick to a plan or build a plan, are tired of being stuck or feeling disorganized in their business. They know they want to do their thing (whatever their passion is), but they are just struggling to make progress in the day to day and need some guidance on how to run a business.
I don’t work with bloggers who are looking to make their primary income from affiliate or sponsorships mainly because I feel they would be better served by someone who has direct experience in that kind of marketing. Blogging as a business and blogging for your business does have a lot of overlap but the goals are quite different, and the marketing needs to be approached differently.
Now, if you are a “blogger” but decide you want to start for example offering design services, we might be a good match.

Q: What are your goals for the future?

A: Hmmm, goals for the future. I view becoming an entrepreneur as a journey that has lots of twists and turns. Essentially my goal is to be able to help as many women as I can build their biggest and best dreams into a business. How that grows from my little one woman shop into something bigger, I’m not really sure yet. My nearer future goal would be to hire a VA and maybe a copywriter so more of my time can be spent on more of my core business.

Thank you so much for your time, Mariah! 
To check out her services, take a look at Bloom Hustle Grow's 
↠ Website
↠ Twitter
↠ Instagram
↠ Pinterest

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Wednesday 20 September 2017

10 reasons why you should do THE SCARY THING

Life – if lived right – is a daring adventure. If we want to live it to the fullest, if we want to suck every last drop out of it and take advantage of new opportunities, we will be scared. 

Unfortunately, adventure doesn’t come without risk, and risk scares us. So do new things. And change. And putting ourselves out there. We are afraid of what other people may think. We are worried that we may fail. 
And we are scared that the change we are contemplating may be for the worse. That we are making a mistake. The list goes on! 
I’m sure you’re as familiar with fear as I am, because fear is part of human life. Everybody is scared. Many of us let fear rule our life, and don’t dare try the thing they dream of, because of all the reasons listed above.  
However, there are the people who go for it despite the fear. Who push through it, and find out that life beyond fear? It’s the best damn thing. 
I’ve tried a few things in my life that scared the shit out of me, and I noticed something interesting. 
There are two kinds of fear: The good kind and the bad kind. 
The good kind is when you have butterflies in your stomach, and when you feel queasy, but also excited. That sort of fear gives you energy, and makes you look forward to what’s coming. 
The bad kind is when the fear is so heavy, it pulls you down. You literally want to hide under your covers. That fear is a lead blanket, holding you down, paralyzing you.    

I’ve identified 10 signs that will tell you that you should absolutely continue doing THE SCARY THING despite the fear: 
1. Excitement is mixed into the fear. 
You are scared, sure. But there are also moments of pure bliss, where you have to pinch yourself to make sure you’re not dreaming. Because you’re doing it! You’re doing THE SCARY THING you have dreamed of and thought about and agonized over for so long! And in between feeling nauseous and wanting to puke, you’re damn proud of yourself. 


Monday 18 September 2017

Boss Women: Janne

Welcome to the fourth edition of Boss Women!
When I started this series 4 weeks ago, I had no idea how it would be received. All I knew was that I was brimming with excitement for this new venture, not only because it was something fresh and new, but also because it's so great to talk about someone else for a change.
As much as I enjoy sharing bits of my life and talking about personal growth and life lessons learnt, it's SO nice to learn more about other people!

I'm blown away by the positive reception to the series. My page Boss Women has over 5,000 hits in 4 short weeks, which is crazy for me. I share all my posts on my Facebook page, and the Boss Women posts consistently get the highest number of pageviews, likes, and comments.
Thank you all so very much for the overwhelming support!
It shows that celebrating each other makes us happy, and that another woman's success doesn't diminish our own. On the contrary, there's nothing more motivating to me than seeing someone else succeed - after all, if they can do it, so can we, right? 💪 


Wednesday 13 September 2017

Can we become one of the successful ones?

I used to think that there are two kinds of people in the world: The successful ones, and the rest of us. I was clearly in the second category, because I was way too ordinary to be anybody special. My parents were ordinary, middle-class people, and I knew that I was destined to be the same: Working a job I didn't much like, paying bills, and being vaguely dissatisfied with my life, just like everybody else around me. 
I would look at doctors, journalists, or "business people" with awe. What would it feel like to be so confident and successful? I would never know. I was sure that they were born destined to greatness, and I envied them. Sometimes I wished that I would have been one of the lucky ones, but alas, I wasn't. I was insecure, of mediocre wit and intelligence, and I would always be one of the small, insignificant people. That's how I was made.

Or so I thought.

Over the last few years, I have slowly learnt how absolutely, ridiculously wrong I was. There aren't two different kinds of people - we are all way more alike than I ever knew! 
What makes some people much more successful than others are just a few key techniques - and the good news is, we can learn them. 


Monday 11 September 2017

Boss women: Liz

Happy Monday! I'm excited to introduce the next inspiring boss lady to you: Liz.
Liz and I have never met in real life, yet I feel that I know her well. We found each other's blogs several years ago, and have been following each other and communicating ever since.
When I came up with the idea of this series, I knew right away that I wanted Liz to be a part of it. She is such a special person: She is a life coach, blogger, podcaster, amazing photographer, counsellor, and an expat. 
Her story is unique and awe-inspiring - I'll let her tell it.  

Q: You are a life coach. What is a life coach? 
A: Oh, I loooove talking about being a life coach. Ok. Here’s my take on it. A life coach, in my opinion, is a fellow pilgrim who acts as a guide. A mentor. One who has experience, specific skills, and a love for the journey of life; but who is also on her own journey as well. It is a professional relationship, but something more akin to seeking out a spiritual guide, guru, yogi, mentor, and/or, well… coach.
Life coaching is about helping others to help themselves. It is a journey of self-discovery. Of discovering who we are + what we want through focused, goal-oriented conversations . It is about coming alive to our own lives.

Life coaching is not therapy or counseling, but rather it is a journey of discovery of seeking + fulfilling. It is present-based + future-oriented, free-spirited + well-organized, beginning with where we are now and uncovering the path that leads us to create, right now, one moment at a time, the life that we envision for ourselves. This is what Joseph Campbell (one of my heroes in life) calls following your bliss.
So, a life coach works to provide tools and support you in finding your own answers. It is about helping you realize + bring forth all of the power that already lies within you. A life coach challenges you to take the necessary steps towards the desired change.  Life coaches listen, guide, and help clients decide on certain, concrete steps to take toward an active change in life. For me, because of my training + experience, that includes spiritual guidance, existential questions as well (Who am I? Why am I here?, etc.). It is a very personal, present and future-oriented way of guiding a client in creating the life that he/she envisions.

The idea is to release, through life coaching sessions, your full potential in order to achieve the goals and the life that you dream of. Our individual goals and interests are at the center of it all, and through coaching, we realize that we have all of the answers already within us. A life coach simply helps us to discover the power within to create the life that we want.

Q:What made you decide to become a life coach? 
A: I have experienced a few life-changing rebirths in my life. In fact, I dare say that the cycle of birth, life, and death, the cycle of constant renewal + transformation, is exactly what life is all about.  It’s that journey that I mentioned above. In fact, it is this mystery and magic and simplicity of continuous cycle of life that is so evidently seen in nature.
For me, this is spirituality. This is why I am here. To constantly plant, grow, sow, and evolve. To continually learn and transform. Ultimately to discover, with each passing day, more and more of my true authentic self. And to live life from that authentic place in my soul, so as to be of benefit to this world.

9 years ago I was studying theology and spirituality. I explored all of the ways (from a Christian perspective) that we “know” god and what it means to live a spiritual life. 
My heart + soul challenged me to find my own path back then. But that process of finding my own path has taken a while. Back then, I felt the call to take all of the religious bullshit that made no sense, and inspire others to see that it’s not about the religion, but about relationships. It’s about living a connected, grounded, authentic life.
It’s often assumed that to be religious or spiritual means that one also is holy, above others, closed-minded, untouchable, perfect. Like a guru or a saint. That religion + spirituality actually have nothing to do with everyday life. And so, it is a big turn-off.
Over time, I formulated my ideas and beliefs on how we can know that life is meant to be lived more deeply, how we are here to do more than exist, and how spirituality is actually a part of everyday life. The creative energies that connect us all (whether you call them god, magic, allah, tao, spirit, or anything else or nothing at all) move in and among us at all times. Empowering + inspiring us, and teaching us to live life from our soul. And when we do that, then we are in creation with each other + the whole world, making a difference, spreading love + light, and living a deeper more meaningful life that is true to who we are.

In the past 10 years, I have found a way of living with the mystery and magic that brings that meaning to my life– by learning to be, love, and live. And that’s where Life Coaching comes in.

My intention has always been to guide and inspire others in finding their own bliss, in discovering who they are, in listening to their own souls, in living a mindful, intentional life filled with spirit and peace. Becoming a life coach is my way of answering my call to minister, guide, teach, and journey with others, as they discover their own souls + create their own lives.
Now, being a life coach does not mean that I have it all figured out, but it does mean that I am much more comfortable than I ever have been before on this crazy journey that we call life.
Becoming a life coach is my way to raise my voice and share my story – in an effort to make a difference in the world. The best way I know to do that is to write and talk about the life that I live – because I believe that, while we each have a story to tell, we are all a part of each others’ stories and the one, great, story of being human. What we seek individually, we all seek collectively: love and hope and peace and equality.
What I seek to offer is a way to discover how others can create a meaningful life filled with simple moments, that allow you to be authentically you, and to follow your own bliss.

Q: Can you tell us in what situation one might need a life coach?
A: At different points in our lives we all need a little outside ear to listen, frame, and help us find the answers that we already have tucked deep inside us. And, there are so many different reasons we may be searching for answers. And so many different moments in life that we find ourselves seeking a little guidance. Here are just a few of the common times in life when it just might be good to ring up your friendly neighborhood life coach (whether it’s me or someone else), to help you start to dig deep + find what you are seeking. Here are 11 good reasons that you just might want to meet with a Life Coach:

 You have experienced a dramatic (good or bad) change in life lately
 You find yourself pondering life questions
 You are dissatisfied with work
 You want to do something you feel passionate about
 You want to improve your quality of life (health, love, work, spirituality, etc.)
 You are questioning who you are, what you believe, and/or your values
 You have peaked in what you set out to do and want to find something else that excites you
 You are entering a new stage of life and want something meaningful to pursue
 You feel you have a purpose or destiny in life and want to discover and fulfill it
 You are simply ready for a change

Q: You and your wife also have a podcast. What is it about? What inspired you to start it?
A: Gaaaah. The podcast! I love having a podcast with my wife, Lina. We started it a year ago and have 27 or 28 episodes out there in the podcast world. We started it because we were invited to be interviewed on a podcast in Asheville, North Carolina (my hometown). And it was so much fun that we thought, “We can do this!”. So, we did!

The Liz + Lina podcast is all about life. Our life. What we do. Where we go. How we think. Who we are. And how we feel about all different kinds of things. It’s about learning and discovering how to live life to the fullest, on our terms. A life full of celebration and adventure, creativity and coziness. It’s even about the things that we struggle with and how we try to slow down and stay connected to ourselves, to each other, and the world. We laugh a lot. Get pretty silly. And hope that somewhere, in all of our conversations, we just might sprinkle a little joy and light and magic out into the world.

Q: You are American, but moved to Sweden several years ago. Why did you move? 
A: In 2010, after nine months of marriage of a mix of living in two separate countries + visiting each other as much as possible, I finally was able to move to Sweden to be with my wife. She’s Swedish and I’m American, and we’re two girls. So, for obvious (sad, but true) reasons, we decided that Sweden would be the place where we made our first home together. We took our little American cat, Zola, packed my bags, and flew across the great wide Atlantic to begin our new life together.

Q: How is life as an expat? What's the best/what's the worst part about it?
A: To say that I am blessed is utterly ridiculous. It is the understatement of the decade. My life is so full, so rich, so amazing. I am unbelievably grateful for this crazy life that I live… and even more grateful for finding the courage within me to finally break free and live the life that I felt called to live. Slow, meaningful, adventurous, inspiring, bi-national.

Yes, expat life is filled with all of those dreamy dreams, but it is also tough (as Miriam knows!). 

It is a dream come true for me. Something I lay on my bed, plotting and imagining as a little girl; and then, later, as a young woman, felt a very real, deep yearning for. To live out that dream is indescribable. To have two countries that I truly call home blesses me day after day, especially when it comes to holidays. My wife and I are celebrating some kind of holiday constantly! 

But, expat life is heartbreaking as well. The hardest thing I know is to be away from my parents and my brother. To not be near my family and friends. Some days I wonder if I am wasting precious time by being so far away. And, yet, I am still as close as ever with them. So, it aches deep in my heart on many days.

Perhaps living an expat life has deepened everything about my way of living, opened me to feeling and exploring and living life to the fullest, embracing each and every moment with intensity and gratitude. And I would not change any of it for anything.

Q: You have been blogging for 6 years. What made you start? What's the best thing about blogging for you?
A: As a new ex-pat, every single day was an adventure. I was living my dream (thirteen years in the making) of living in Europe. I was in love. And life was pretty crazy and amazing. So, I decided to start a blog to celebrate my new life in Sweden and to share what life was like in in this Nordic country with all of my friends & family “back home” in the States.
But, pretty soon, it was much more than that. The name of my blog (belovelive )became my inspiration – an outward expression of what I believed in most; and of the life that I yearned to live.
Somehow, my blog began to grow and I began to gain friends from countries spread all over the globe. Some of these blogging friends have even become real-life friends. In addition to creating relationships through the blog, I have found myself creating almost daily, documenting my thoughts, inspirations, photos, travels, and adventures.
I dreamed up belovelive in 2011, as a way to discover how to turn my thoughts + beliefs in to my actual life. And, what began as an online diary after turning my life upside-down and becoming an expat, has since turned into the inspiration for me to discover how to truly align my life with the way I want to live.

Q: You meditate daily. Any tips for newbies who can't shut up their crazy mind?
A: Yes, I do meditate regularly… and it has changed my life. These days, it is like breathing. It is the foundation of my being, of each and every day. Though, it took years of practice to get me to this point. And it’s all about being patient, and slowly and intentionally creating a routine.

I do think that, whether it is 5 minutes or 2 hours, engaging in some sort of ritual and routine, the more grounded + prepared we are for the day. The more we remember and focus on what truly matters. And the more inspiration we receive that empowers us to make changes + make a difference throughout the rest of the day. I highly recommend exploring what works for you. And adding in time to just be yourself… if only for 5 minutes, as I said.

But, the worst thing about meditation, I think, is that freaking wandering mind. We think we must be perfect yogi, guru meditators. And, even if we don’t believe that, we still feel guilty if we try to meditate, only find ourselves making grocery lists, scratching our noses, listening to dogs bark and cars whiz by, and feeling stressed about feeling so stressed. We feel like a failure if we “wasted” our meditation time with a wandering mind.
So, what to do when your mind wanders and thinks and analyzes and pays attention to every little thing except calming down? Well, I have a tiny, little tip: 

Embrace the thoughts. Actually, meditation is not about emptying our mind. It’s not about fighting against everything that is going on. Meditation is all about acceptance. Accepting and simply being with all that is.
So, try this: Imagine that you are standing at a window watching all of your thoughts go by.
Silly, huh? But, I have done this sometimes. And you know what? It is freeing. I did not reprimand myself for the random thoughts that came to mind as I (tried to) meditated. In my mind I imagined that I was watching myself as I stood at a window, and that my thoughts came by from right to left, like a parade. Each thought was a different float in the parade. And, stupid as it sounds, what that did was free me up to see the thought, acknowledge it, and then let it pass. Usually another thought was right behind it, but sometimes there as a little silent break. A gap. And that gap is that coveted, amazing mediation moment of nothingness.
So, if you are into meditating, then give the parade thing a try. See what happens. And remember this: do not reprimand yourself for having thoughts that interrupt your meditation. Do not get mad at yourself if your mind never settles down. It happens to all of us, and it doesn’t mean that you cannot meditate. But, keep practicing, keep watching your thoughts, as you become someone who lets go and settles the mind more and more with each passing day. That’s my goal. And, it takes time. But, I think I’m getting better.

Q: Do you have a big goal you want to achieve in your life? 
A: You know, I have an interesting relationship with goals. I don’t make them. Strange, huh? I have had them in the past, and I have reached many of them. And, of course, I understand the importance of them. I even use them in my life coaching. But, I do not focus on them. 

See, life happens and changes so much… and what I might set for a goal today, may be completely irrelevant next week, next month or next year. Therefore, I live by setting intentions and casting visions. 

To me, intentions and visions fit right into my desire to live a slow life that unfolds and evolves. My intentions and visions allow me to cast my dreams and ideas and goals out there into the future, while at the same time recognizing the importance of living in the present moment, flowing with the energy, remaining aligned, and adjusting the sails as I journey through my days.

So, my big intention and vision is to inspire. One of the ways I want to do that is through writing and photography and speaking and life coaching. Should I publish a book and travel around speaking about that, I would be unbelievably ecstatic about that. So, I cast that vision out there, and I focus on intentionally on doing all I can right here, right now to stay faithful to my truth and continuing to create the life that I want to live. 

Thank you Liz!

To learn more about Liz, go check out her
↠ Blog
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xo Miriam

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