2 weeks & 1000 memories

Life (Universe, God, Physics, whatever you prefer to call it)
has a funny way of nudging you to the right thing.

Be it timing, place, project, people. 

In September 2016, I got the idea to take up a language course in Romanian. In Romania. 

Letting it mull for about a second, I turned to google. 
I typed in “2 week romanian language course” 
And to my amazement there was one: At Rolang School, Bucharest. 


With trembling fingers and a palpitating heart I sent in my application for march 2017. 
 

Not knowing what would be on the other side. 
Keep in mind, I had barely spent 3 days in Bucharest (and not in a row)
I had no idea what kind of school this would be, where I would be staying or how I would fill my time. 


But I knew, somewhere deep down, that I was called to this. 


Just as I was in 2013, to pack my bags and live in Budapest. 


Isn’t funny that being “called” rarely feels that big, or grand or divine? 


It’s not like an angel steps down in front of you, wrapped in golden light, booming in a big voice (and all caps) 

“THIS IS THE PATH TO YOUR DESTINY!”


It’s more subtle than that. 


A “hmmmm, wouldn’t it be cool if…” kind of thought that creeps in from behind, like it’s peeking at you from around the corner of a big plush arm chair, by the fireplace in an old rustic library. 

In 2013, amid a personal career crisis, breakdown and mental fog, out of the blue the thought “Hungarian classes could be my back up” showed up. 
Then quickly, I realized it was what I really wanted. 
And even though it was a shock to move to Budapest, it was the best decision I’ve ever made. 

Choosing to come to Romania had a similar feel to it.
A subtle little flutter in my heart, a grain-size feeling that this is right and true 


Then, the Universe helped me out to refine. 


Because of an email from my job, I changed the dates from March to February. At the time, I had no idea what it would mean. 



I can’t call it anything other than divine timing. 

As mentioned in a previous post, I got an email to come down to Bucharest to perform at national TV. This performance meant I was able to come back to TVR while staying in Bucharest.
This time to participate in a live show revealing the semi-finalists.  Which, even though I wasn’t selected, was such a cool experience. 

That email from TVR also meant I had to fly down two weeks prior to my studies. 
I decided to test out the hotel I’d booked for my 2-weeks stay. Which then lead to a fantastic free upgrade to a studio apartment when I came back. 

It also just happened that during my two weeks in Bucharest, The Voice Romania (Vocea Romaniei) had their auditions in the city. 
So I applied and went. 
Something that pushed me in new ways to grow and to perform under pressure. 

I even taught myself the lyrics to a Romanian song in 48 hours. Because I had to. 
While having one week of Romanian studies under my belt. 

That my friend, is taking yourself to the limit of what you think you can do 


And what I never could have imagined, 
what I didn’t expect
and honestly what I’m most grateful for is this: 

That during my two weeks I met new friends. 

People so loving, generous, warm and open and amazing.
I could easily fill a 500 page novel with every single moment I had in the city with these incredible individuals. 

Like Hannah who quickly became a new best friend. 
Like Josh, Dan & Helen  - all four (including Hannah) made each day in class a joy. I was, and am, so inspired by you all. 
Like our teachers Elena & Anca who taught us more Romanian than I ever believed possible.
Like Rodica (& Petre & Iount) who I had the craziest night in years with and I feel I can talk about anything with. 
Like Ileana who’s a shining sun of positivity
And Adela & Florin - I still laugh when I think about our night. Plus they taught me how to describe a horse and encouraged me to sing. 
And Raluca, who brought me and my friends to a fantastic club
And Alin, who’ve not only put up with my sense of humor on a semi-daily basis and endless questions about language and politics, but also showed me every nook, every corner, every fascinating, historical, incredible part of the city. 
Plus, I could add Ana & Petre from TVR, talented Bernice plus learning so much about Romanias nature & future from Ana & Alexandra at WWF. 


I still can’t believe the amount of experiences and memories I got to be a part of in just two weeks. 


Frankly, while on the plane to Bucharest, I expected something different. 

I imagined that my class would probably consist of me and three expat businessmen in suits who wanted to learn some basic Romanian. 
I’m so happy I was wrong. 

I imagined that I would probably spend most evenings alone in my hotel room. Or roam the streets & cafés with my laptop. 
I’m so happy I was wrong. 


Gushing aside, let’s circle back to listening to the nudge

That little teeny tiny feeling in your chest that says “this is what I want”. 
The “wouldn’t it be cool if….”

This experience has reinforced my belief that this is the feeling to pay attention to. 

And to not let doubt creep in. 


Yes, a feeling like that will give rise to questions like:
- Can I afford it?
- How will I make the money to do this?
- What will my family think? 
- What will my friends think?
- What if it means I have to quit my job?
- What if it means I have to say no to my friends?
- What if it’s scary and I hate it?
- What if I can’t do it? 
- What if I fail? 


All of these doubts, as questions, are of course valid.

Certainly the money aspect

But don’t let it derail you

 

I had no idea what the singing and performing on TVR would mean
And yes, there was costs involved, just as there was in taking classes and living in Bucharest. 
And just so you know - it’s not like I’m a millionaire (yet) where these costs doesn’t matter
They do. But I trust that I’ll take care of it. 


And every time, in all transparency, that I’ve followed a nudge there’s been the question of paying for it, funding it.

Sometimes it’s been a big number. 


But I’ve always made it back.

And it’s always been worth it.

And I haven’t missed that cash. Not for a second. 


Right now, as I’m typing this, I still don’t know what my performance in Romania will mean - in the long run. Or my audition. 
I just know - as a tiny subtle feeling in my chest - that there was a reason I was there and it is taking me on a big journey. 
There’s something amazing up ahead. 


Now I have a very strong nudge to go back to Bucharest, to live. And quite soon (within the year). 


I don’t know exactly when. 
I don’t know how I will fund it. Yet. 
I don’t know what that will mean. For anything really (relationship, career, money, experience, music, growth)


But I feel the feeling. That little… “Wouldn’t it be cool if…..”


Follow the nudge. It knows where we’re going. 

 

If you want to hear the song I competed with, After You, you have the live performance on the first page (that's here)
If you want to listen on your laptop, phone or other portable device, you can purchase the mp3 by clicking on the image below. This doesn't just mean you're paying for a product, but you're supporting the work - and what's to come. 

When time speeds up.

Romania – te iubesc.

That has never been more true than right now. 

Have you ever found yourself in a time that moved faster than the current, faster than the wind? In something that can only be compared to a whirlwind?

The past weeks have been… I can’t really explain it. It’s like life has been enhanced.
Intensified, brighter colors, stronger emotions.

As I’m writing this, I’m in Bucharest. Bucuresti. 
Three years ago, I entered Romania at the Nadlac/Nagylak border. Things haven’t been the same since. And att that point in time I had no idea I would be here now.

It reminds me of how my life shifted when I moved to Budapest.
Budapest, who’s my home and my security.
Bucharest is my lover. And it's a passionate affair. 

This shift came just two-three weeks ago.
That Wednesday when I, like a nudge from above, checked how things were going for Romania in regards to Eurovison. And to my surprise, they were open for submissions.

So I sent in a song to Eurovision Romania, the national competition to select the country’s entry to Eurovision 2017 in Kiev.

And suddenly, within a week, I was in a gorgeous TV studio, performing.
And suddenly, I was on national TV.
Suddenly, I was in an experience so big, so full of love, so exhilarating that my head still has a hard time catching up with my heart.

And this, in turn, lead to a full page article in the biggest newspaper in my region at home; a radio interview with a person I truly admire and even waking up to find a small article in Romanian about myself. Whirlwind, there's no other word. 

Not only this, but simultaneously the people of Romania has risen up for democracy, for justice for all, for their future.

As a foreigner who’s planted her own roots here, I don’t have words for how much this inspires me.

We should all take note, we should all look at the Romanians as those who pave the way. This is how you hold your leaders accountable, this is why we need to care about politics, about our own society. We’re tied to it whether we want to or not

So with everything combined, my love for Romania grows deeper on a daily basis right now.

During that first adventure here those years ago, I did feel called – like I was meant to be here, even though I didn’t know why. I still don’t really know why, all I know is that it feels right.

Tomorrow, Sunday, we go live around 20 here in Romania, to find out the 15 who’ll move on to the semi-finals.

No matter who go through, this has been such a glorious experience. And each person I’ve met deserve creative success, honestly I’ve been moved with how loving everyone’s been. And when we cheer for one another’s abundance and success, that’s how we create more in our own life. These past few weeks have been a testament to that.

So that's what's happening. Hope you're having your own loving whirlwind. 
 

I lost my heart to Romania

Places, like people, can surprise you. Some you get used to. Some you don’t.  

Yet, I can’t get enough of seeing other people's reaction to Romania.

I’ve been working in this beautiful country for the past three years.
And I simply can’t get enough of it. It's complicated.

This doesn't diminish my feelings for Hungary (or even home).


However, just as I found myself in Budapest at one point - I lost my heart to Romania.

 
 

It’s a landscape that a camera can’t capture. It’s the light in the morning, the early fog that moves through the village streets. It’s the ritual of churches, the crosses, the paintings, the stillness. It’s the shepherds moving cross the lands and their sheep grazing. The close relationship to something long gone from most of us. It’s the fabrics, the lightness, the threads, the meaning of embroidery.

It’s the sound of folklore, the high pitched female voices and the booming depth of the men. 
It’s the language that makes me swoon. It’s melody.

 
 

Then I turn my head and suddenly I’m back in the north.

Coffee-shop. Students. The sound of conversations.

A chill wind that I’m not sure where is comes from. Possibly the western sea, the icy northern mountains or the Russian plains.

And just like that, Romania is gone. 

You see, if I would research you from here, what would I find?

Articles upon articles upon articles, of corruption, poverty, and exclusion of minorities. The EU-funds, the scandals, judgement and prejudice. A discussion that never ends.

“How do we help those who weren’t fortunate enough to be born here?”

“....because we’re always at an advantage - aren’t we?”

“....and a place like Romania can’t carry itself, right?”

“A case for the righteous from the West right? Because we’re better than that.”

Or are we?

And so I look for my Romania, but honestly, it’s hard to find.

Someone mentions Ceausescu and I have to remind them that was years ago.

Someone mentions street corners and I have to tell them there’s more to every story.

Someone mentions the EU and I say, you need more information.

Someone says the word racism and I raise an eyebrow. What makes you think we’re better here? What makes you think it’s different there?

If we’re so open, to seeing people for who they are and what they'd like to be:

We claim we see more than one side, more than the wrongs we do, more than the rights we say, we can see more than what we’ve been. 
If we can view people like this, maybe we can apply this to countries too?

Romania is so much more than communism, corrupted politicians, poverty and ethnic conflicts.

And I’ve yet to meet one person who hasn’t been surprised by everything Romania actually is. 

The beauty of the country.

The history (dacians, romans, royals, well Prince Charles).

The richness of the land (beaches, mountains, fields, vineyards and gold).

To clear up any misconception you might have: 
There’s no racism on paper in Romania. Which doesn’t mean it doesn't exists (of course).

Yes, there’s EU funds but there’s also EU limitations.
Don’t think we’re losing on the deal, because we (as Westerners, as Northerners, as Scandinavians) are not.

Poverty exists, but it's not limited to one ethnic group.

Corruption used to be a big deal but things change. Courts are getting stricter.
(As a side note: I accidentally gave bribing a try and it didn’t work).

Relations between minorities are complicated, yet it’s mostly politics that stand in the way.

People get married and have children no matter their background, history or multi-ethnic compositions. As they do everywhere else.

There’s the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. Just like there is everywhere else.

To quote the song Imperfect (by Carla’s Dreams):

“Eu am gasit pe altcineva ca mine, imperfect.
Daca minus cu minus fac plus.
Legea dragostei mele este defect + defect.”

English translation:
I have found someone else like me, imperfect. 
If minus plus minus equals plus, 
The law of my love is defect plus defect.

Since finishing my latest tour in the country, I’ve become familiar with a sort of longing. One that is stronger than usual.

So until next time, my lovely Romania. Hope to see you soon. 


Recommended Listening: Anything by Carla’s Dreams. Like the nature of their language, everything they touch turns to gold.

Interview with Nicole Bonsol

Art and culture are an important part of anyone’s life, whether you notice it or not. They are also important in business. As a songwriter and creator, I wonder how much music, books, films and fine art influence me. As I explore finding the answer to this question, I thought it would be helpful to interview some of the favorite creators in my life. I hope you enjoy this interview with my fellow singer/songwriter and friend, Nicole Bonsol.

I met Nicole in 2013 when we were two singers enrolled in the same online course. We shared a love for music, a dream of making more art and we had a similar background in the nonprofit world. I instantly knew I liked this woman.

Today, in addition to her work in music, Nicole runs her own business as a copywriter and website designer for healers.

A Sunday in February (a dark cold evening for me in Sweden, a sunny morning for her in California), I talked to Nicole about art and the challenges of infusing creativity in business.

Lina: Nicole, since I know you’re a talented songwriter and you’re having a service business, I’m curious to know: What would you say is your creative work?

Nicole: All work feels creative to me. The work I do for my clients, when I’m writing, coming up with graphic designs for their sites and marketing my own business. Writing a newsletter is creative work,  just as songwriting is creative.

For me, being creative is about problem solving and finding a way to express myself. That’s part of everything I do.

Lina: What kind of art and culture is part of your daily life?

I’m reading fiction every day now, something that’s become even more important to me since I’m in a book club. I want to keep up with the group, so reading has become a priority.

Because of friends, I get invited to things I wouldn’t otherwise go to, like the theater. There’s a lot of theater in the Bay Area, where we live. I have one friend working at a performing arts foundation and one friend studying theater at university. Movies are also a big part of my life because my partner is a big movie buff.

I feel like it was easier to get exposed to all different kinds of art and culture as a kid. I was exposed to more things through school. As an adult it’s become about what is easy to access instead, but I’m realizing now in talking to you is that I think it’s important to get out of my comfort zone with the art I consume.

Lina: I agree, that’s one of the things I’m really grateful for from my school days. I know that you, as me, like to travel. Does it inspire you in any certain way?

Nicole: I love travelling and yes, I feel inspired by it. While I travel I often visit art museums. Last year I went to Japan and everything inspired me. The art, culture and all of the houses were so pretty. When I’m away I notice styles and themes in the artitecture, something I don’t do at home.

Lina: What kind of art or cultural experiences has impact on your work? Both as a songwriter and when you work with your healers?

Nicole: Going to concerts is a sure way to make me feel inspired to write more songs. I go to live concerts about once a month. I’ve realized how important it is for me, because it inspires me to write more music myself and keep working on it.

There’s also ONE TV show, “Mozart in the Jungle” that makes me want to write more. In the series, which is all about love, sex and music. They’re so into their art. Which inspires me to be more into mine.  

Another thing that’s helped, is that I’m in a songwriting circle. We’re 20 people who meet every other week, and in between those meetings we pair up to write new songs. We listen and discuss each other's work. It’s been challenging and very rewarding to work with a new co-writer every week.

For client work related to my business, the inspiration and motivation comes from the clients themselves. And contrary to many (what you might think), I don’t actually listen to music when I work. It’s too distracting. I prefer to work in silence or at a coffee shop.

Lina: I can see that, and I agree. I feel songwriting, that kind of creative writing, needs input from different sources. It’s different from service based work, when you have a client in front of you.

Ok- final question, what would you recommend a new business owner to do or experience to feel more creative in their business?

Nicole: I would advise them to do a little every day. It’s like exercising, it makes it easier.

I tried doing big batch-days for my work but it hasn’t worked so far.

I carved out time for one, I had planned to write 4 articles in one day. But then I stopped writing everyday because I saved all that work for the batch-day. It’s funny, I think that turned the full day for writing into a “full day to hate myself”.

Batching might work for some, but for me it’s important to do a little work every day, to keep it flowing.

Lina: I think that’s brilliant advice, because creativity is a muscle. And as we’re ending our chat, I want to say thank you so much Nicole.

If you want to learn more about Nicole and her work, you can find her on www.nicolebonsol.com.

My hope, for me and you, is that we’ll infuse our lives with more art. Art that makes us happy, energized and focused. Art that add sparkle to the world we live in.

Interview with Steph Schertz of Bushyl

Art and culture are important parts of life. That applies to business too. As a songwriter, I wonder how music, books, films and fine art influence us. Especially as business owners and creators. To explore this, I’ve created an interview series, learning from some of my favorite people.

My hope is for us to be inspired to have more art in our lives. Art that makes us feel happy, energized, focused and that adds beauty in the world.

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In 2015 I became part of a group of incredible business ladies. Steph Schertz was one of them. She helps entrepreneurs with the visual experience of their brand. She’s also a brilliant calligraphist and my personal Instagram idol.

What I really wanted to know from our conversation was: How does art influence Steph’s creativity and her life as a business owner?

Turns out, she has some great tips to share that I’ve already incorporated in my life. So- let’s dive in.

Lina: You have a great business niche. For those who don’t know what it is, what does working with “visual experience” mean?

Steph: It includes everything from branding to social media to client communication and newsletters. I’m a also big proponent of video in your marketing plan, so I create a lot of content and coursework around that.

So many business owners get in their own way by having inconsistent or low-quality visual elements. I want to help them fix that, so they can book high-end clients and start to really enjoy entrepreneurship.

Lina: In your business, what do you define as your own creative work? When are you being creative?

Steph: I feel like I’m constantly trying to find new creative outlets. I can’t make it through the day if I haven’t done some sort of photography, creative writing or brainstorming. I think sometimes it can actually be to my detriment, because I like to explore so many different ideas throughout the day.

The important thing for me is to have structure around my creativity. Some people hate this, but if I don’t schedule a start and stop time, I’ll waste a whole day. As a business owner, that’s just too risky at this point.

That being said, if I get really engrossed in something, I’ll try to give myself some flexibility to stay in that inspired mindset as long as possible!

Lina: I’m impressed that you can schedule your creative work (something I need to learn). When it comes to having art and culture around you, what do you make part of your everyday life?

Steph: I listen to music every day and I feel like my life has been totally changed by Spotify. I love the subscription model that is permeating all industries right now. For me, it makes so much more sense to have access to all this music at once and not have to worry about making the individual purchases over and over when a new album comes out.

My husband also sings to himself (a lot), so I get to listen to that every day ;)

I’m not a huge concert fan, I’m just not the target audience. As an introvert and a morning person, concerts make me feel overwhelmed and exhausted. I feel so old saying that! I’d just much rather experience music as part of a calmer atmosphere.

I really wish I had more time to read fiction. I love a book that sucks you in and makes you stay up late so you can keep reading. I loved the Harry Potter series, like any good human being, and I also love anything with a good twist, like Gone Girl. I hope to make more time for this in 2016.

I'm also a huge, huge fan of television and movies. I don't go a single day without watching television. That might be appalling to some people, but I find it really engaging and fun. 

I think it’s all about what you get out of an art form. I like to hear the way people talk to each other or see how the wardrobe and set design completes a story, that feels really important to me. I definitely balance it with audiobooks and podcasts, though, so I don’t feel like too much of a couch potato.

If movies here weren't so expensive, I'd want to go to the movie theater every single weekend. It's one of my favorite environments. When the lights dim and the previews start, I'm at my happiest.

Lina: I love that you’re a fan of TV (I have it on all the time). When you work, do you have any art around you like music or TV?

Steph: I love to have some sort of background noise while I’m working, so I’m a huge fan of ambient music. Anything with words tends to be too distracting and I just love the way I feel transported into a spa-like environment when I’m listening to some peaceful ambient melodies.

I was also recently inspired by my friend Meghan at Moxie + Grace to create a “brand playlist,” which she defines as a list of songs that exemplify your brand so that you can listen to it while creating your content. I absolutely love this idea and need to do it soon!

Lina: Since you work with visuals, I’m guessing there’s an element of that in your work too.

Steph: When I’m working with entrepreneurs on the visual experience of their brand, I’m a huge fan of using Pinterest, Designspiration.net and Instagram to pull inspiration and create a big picture of what they want.

Lina: I love that, I use Pinterest a lot to capture the mood I want, when I’m doing a bigger project. I wonder, when you have art around you - how does it impact you and your life?

Steph: I really can’t emphasize enough how much my mood is affected by the art I love. The music, movies, visual art that I surround myself with helps me feel centered and focused on my priorities. It’s a reminder of my taste and preferences while I’m creating things myself.

As someone who enjoys writing, I think that music is what helps me transport myself into the right mood for whatever message or story I’m trying to convey.

I think that’s part of what I didn’t like about working in an office where I had no control over these elements - it felt like I was living someone else’s life. I’m thrilled that working from home means that my environment is always in my control and I can change things up based on what I’m feeling that day.

Lina: Does any particular art form have a greater impact on you?

Steph: Oh, this is a great question… one I haven’t really thought of before! I think that movies and television inspire me the most to exercise empathy. I think that art form can transport you into someone else’s life and circumstances in a way that nothing else can.

I think music has the greatest impact on my productivity, without a doubt, and books really settle my mind and help me focus and relax.

Lina: I know this might sound like a leading question but I still want to ask it. Do you feel art is important for the work you do?

Steph: Art is extremely important for my creative work.

My entire brand philosophy centers around the importance of how potential clients and customers interact with a brand visually, so I feel really strongly about the impact it can have from all angles.

Lina: What would you recommend a new business owner to do, to be more creative in their business? I think it’s something we all struggle with at times, since it’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind.

Steph: I love this question! I would say the first step, especially if you work from home, is to create an environment that appeals to all of your senses and gives you a sense of strength, power and inspiration.

I’ve seen this first hand; when we moved into our current apartment, I upgraded to a desk I loved, put it near a window in our apartment, and filled it with items that felt purposeful and beautiful at the same time.

It’s made a huge impact on my productivity and enjoyment of my everyday experiences.

Thank you so much Steph for taking the time to talk. You’ve inspired me to create a dedicated space (with ambient music) of my own.

If you want to learn more about Steph’s work you can find visit her site here or find her on Instagram or Periscope.

Brilliant Creative Work: Utopia

When I find someone doing something brilliantly, I want to talk about them. Note that I’m not an affiliate of what we’re about to jump into.  I just think they’re worthy of our attention. Especially if you want to infuse your own work with personality.
 

Utopia.  Dream, idea, fiction or possibly real? It’s a big word and  a great craving. Who wouldn’t want to live in a perfect world?

We live in a world that has the capacity for great joy and for great pain.

Not far from my quiet home in northern Europe, there’s an ocean where families risk their lives to save themselves from war. We’ve also seen attacks on freedom and our open society.

Yet.

At the same time, it’s a world of abundance and happiness.

I had one of those moment the other day.

Sun shining in through our kitchen window, watching Modern Family, cake rising in the oven, licking the bowl (we all do it, right?).

It was a simple, warm, childlike moment of joy. A flash of true happiness.

Maybe utopia isn’t that far away.

a place of ideal perfection especially in laws, government, and social conditions”

One possible problem thought, with any perfect society, is that one Utopia might not fit all. It’s a personal thing. But it’s a needed dream.

Just as businesses strives for monopoly (which wouldn’t serve them in the end), society needs to strive for Utopia. As the cliché says: reaching towards the stars is the only way to get to the treetops. Yet, without that dream, we wouldn’t come further than the lowest branch.

That would mean accepting pain and scarcity. That’s not my dream.

Utopia is a fascinating thought. Some authors, better than others, have explored that thought. Someone brilliant reminds us of that. Someone who makes candles. 

(cue raised eyebrows. Candles? Oh, now you lost the plot)

If you’ve peeked behind-my-scenes (if not, you can do it here), you know that I love using place as foundation for creative work. Place as in real (where we’ve been) and imaginary (what we’ve read).

Someone who does this amazingly well is The School of Life with their Utopia candles series.

They don’t just sell nice smelling candles that sits in a pretty box. They sell a something more: A candle with a larger than life identity.

In the series, each candle explores the idea of Utopia through a piece of literary work:

Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden” (a life connected to nature)

Le Corbusier’s “City of tomorrow” (a perfect city of rational & contemporary architecture)

Plato’s “Republic” (a community ruled by wisdom)

Make sure you read each description for these candles & what they call  “the Utopia Passport”. It’s mind-blowingly simple, clean and inspirational.

Inspirational because:
They stand out in a crowded market (there’s plenty of candles)
They tell a story worth noting
They make us think - beyond interior design
They make us talk
And buying, they make you feel really smart. Like a person who reads.

It’s clever and it’s creative.

And the lesson: It’s never about the thing you create. It’s about the thought behind it.

Do you need a creative boost to your own work? Sign up to receive my behind-the-scenes-kit. In it you’ll find a worksheet that you can use to find threads of inspiration to use and infuse in what you do.

The Invisible Bridge

“He allowed himself to imagine for the first time
that the rest of his life might not be shaped
by the misery of his past.”

― Julie Orringer, The Invisible Bridge


For the past year, I’ve been circling back to the thirties and forties. Drawn to the past.
Every book and every movie I pick, seem to come back to that time.

I haven’t been a book-reviews-sort-of-person, yet there’s this particular work of fiction that keeps nudging at me to tell you about it. Don't let the 600 pages frighten you.

2016-02-05 10.15.23.jpg

It’s worth every word.

When I bought it, I did expect to love it. It centers around my “hometown”. Budapest.

I can connect the streets on the page to my life. To cafés where I’ve had coffee. To hotels I've slept in, lights I've marveled at and music I've heard. Reading about it, I can feel the overwhelming sense of joy of just being there.

Even when the characters go through the darkest past, I can see the present light.

The book tells the story of Andras, a Hungarian in his early twenties who travels across Europe to study architecture in Paris. Here, he falls in love. With his work, the city and the girl of his dreams.

We follow his life.
The war, though looming in the distance, is not the focal point.

What's happening in Germany is mentioned briefly.
Like today, when we read news articles about something far away from us.
We frown, we wonder and then go on our merry way. We’re certain it won’t happen here. We go back to parties, food, love, friendships, cafés, books, the sweet, warm and mundane.

It’s the same in Andras’s Paris. But war is on the horizon.

And even worse, Andras is Jewish. At the worst time to be Jewish in Europe.
So are his friends, his family and the woman he loves.

It’s heartbreaking knowing the inevitable.
I know what's coming. They don't.

Most fiction describing the holocaust goes into the unbelievable evil.
Introducing their characters, they’re then thrown in the deep end. With them, we experience their life while the devil has them.

Here’s where this story differs. It’s why it moved me so deeply.
The focus is on the people and their life before. The normalcy of their lives.

You can easily get lost, thinking it’s taking place now.

The world back then, was not that different from ours
The people back then, were no different from us.
It’s a feeling I can’t shake.

-----brief pause -----

I started writing this post while in Sweden (my official home) and now, as I'm editing, sifting through it with my eyes peeled, I'm in Budapest (my unofficial, emotional home).
Sitting in a bistro-type-place, enjoying a glass of wine.

This book grows. I keep thinking about Andras and his family (because the characters got so vivid, calling them characters almost feels offensive).

I see old, dark, dilapidated, once gorgeous, buildings and I wonder:
”Were you here when they were?
Did you see the killings, the ghetto, the pain, the punishment, the evil on earth?
Did you see?”

I passed one of the city's synagogues today. A haunting feeling.
It, or a former rendition of it, were probably here when evil came to power.

It's Sunday early evening, beyond the lounge music I can hear the St Istvan Basilica church bells.

And I think: I am so grateful. I am so lucky. We are so lucky.

And the Invisible Bridge is not just a great book.
It’s a bridge to the past.

Fiction and history are two elements that inspire my songwriting the most. Do you yearn for some energy in you creative work? 

Download my behind-the-scenes-kit. There’s a worksheet for your creative adventures in there.

 

 

 

Places where we meet

It's April

For some this means wedding season is kicking off (yes, brides in lace & tulle are gathering all over the globe)
For some it’s travel season (buses loaded with tourists, heading for sunshine and culture abroad)
For some it means shredding heavy layers for shorts
For some it’s bulking up in giant parkas, sitting outside, lapping up as much sun as possible
(this might be a purely Swedish thing though)

And it means we’re heading into “conferences and events season”

I know it’s not an “official” season. (And thank god it’s not. The name doesn’t really hold up. Sounds like businessmen clad in grey, holding stale cups of coffee, trying their best at making “interesting conversation” happen.)

Many of the best events takes place when the sun comes out. 

When flowers blossom and mercury climbs to a reasonable temperature.
And the aforementioned parka won’t take up valuable luggage space.

The word conference might bring up the word “networking” for you, which might bring up painful connotations. I know it does for me.
To begin with: the word “networking”. It makes my eyes roll and my stomach turn. 
It might be the worst buzzword of all time.

Second, I know those grey suits well. Once I had a “normal” job. It included networking.
But I kept running into people who weren’t there to meet anyone new. They didn’t go for the speakers, the other attendees or even the free coffee (my main motivation). They were there to check their “I’ve worked today” box. They were there for show.

But that’s the dark side (ok, semi-gray side).
There’s a light one too.

In 2014 I found out about the conference Alive in Berlin.

Before my brain could register what I’d done, I had my ticket. I did it with verve and spontaneity. I didn’t know a soul who’d go but, for no logical reason,  I knew that I had to.


My experience in the German capital changed a lot for me.

Not just that it was amazing fun, new and thrilling. 

On top of that, I made new friends. 

People who’ve become really important to me. 

 
 

We’re from different countries with different cultures. We have different work. We don’t necessarily agree on politics or on what’s “cool”. Yet, there’s a core within us that's the same.
And it overrides religion, race, opinions and bank accounts.

Alive in Berlin had another great round in 2015, which was the last.
I'll miss it, but it's impact lives on. Friendships lasts.
 

This year, I have my sights set on these:

 

Creative At Heart Conference - Several dates this year.

I’ve got my eye on Memphis this fall. The energy of Kat Schmoyer and the team is so infectious that I have the same inkling to go that I felt for Alive. This kind of “I have to be there no matter what” kind of thing.

Hybrid conference - August.

This seems like a very interesting contender this year. A conference for all creatives, in the same glorious city as Alive: Berlin


And now, the BEST. Yes, if you’re going to ONE event this year, this is it: 

 
 

New Media EuropeJune 18-19

Held in the city of all European cities: London

New Media Europe is lead by Izabela and Mike Russel, two of the loveliest people I've met. Not only that, they have this knack for making things happen and getting the best people join in on the fun.

On the surface, you could think it's just about media & business.

But it’s deeper than that.

It’s about creating the life you want and taking your ideas to fruition. 
It’s about going from waiting for the other shoe to drop, to living the life you aspire to.
It’s about going with your gut, and honor what’s in your heart
I know this might sound cheesy but it doesn’t make it less true.


it's about dreams. 


There’s a reason we have them.


And it’s not to pass the time.


Wouldn’t you know, I have something up my sleeve for this conference. I’m looking forward to sharing the stage and adding some smooth vocals to the evening portion of the conference. Yay and a somersault to that!


Looking to make new friends?

Read up, then join me and other dreamers in June.

 

Not sure it’s for you?

Email me (seriously. I'd love to help you figure out if this is for you or not)
 

I look forward to having coffee with you in June. 
 

 

Budapest be my Valentine

Budapest, Be my Valentine


You’d think I planned it but I didn’t.
I accidentally put me and my man in Europe’s most romantic city on Valentine’s Day, February 14.

Yes, by accident, by chance. Blame the airline. 
Well, I’m not complaining.

And now, when it’s put me in the position to plan an alluring, titillating, rosy cheeked date night with my two loves (sorry T, you share the duplex that is my heart with this city) I’ve decided to do a little inspiring round up for you about my favorite places – my favorites for romance.

So with no further ado, because both you and I have, what I call, “better things to do” (you know, the things we should do that we then put off to do) here we are:

For your (and your beau): A romantic day in Budapest

1. You’ve got to start with breakfast:

Here you have options: either you book a hotel where there’s champagne on the buffet table(I know MGallery Nemzeti by Blaha Lujza tér used to have it. Nagyon romantikus. Fluffy beds too) OR you head on out in the city – because there’s amazing breakfast offers all over.

My choice, with an air of French elegance, is Gerlóczy (you can sleep here too!).

http://www.gerloczy.hu/
1052 Budapest, V. Gerlóczy u. 1


2. Those first precious hours: Hit the pavement

Explore the district of your choice and make sure you’ll stop for a coffee/beer/wine/waffle. Every district in Budapest has it’s own very distinct flavor and feel. I’ve never before (and I’ve been around) met a city that’s so enjoyable to walk in. I can loose myself in the winding streets forever Remember, I’m a tour guide. My sense of direction is near perfection. We’re talking metaphorically)

If you’re here on a Sunday (you know, Valentine happens to fall on one this year) I strongly suggest that you visit Szimpla Kert. They do this warm, friendly, superb farmer’s market on Sundays, a feast for your senses. You’ll feel positively urban, chic and very very local (though you’ll be elbowing your way to the coffee through other foreigners)

buyer farmer market.jpg

http://www.szimpla.hu/
Kazinczy utca 14, 1075


3. Lunch: O.M.G good pizza at Pizzica

My friend Gabriella introduced me to this place very recently.
Her eyes lit up and said “Do you want pizza?”.
It was in her eyes and the tone in her voice. Her enthusiasm was irresistible.


And darling, this is pizza heaven. I would call it high-end, high quality fast food. A MUST. You can thank me later. You’re welcome.  

https://www.facebook.com/pizzicapizza
Nagymező Utca 21, 1065 Budapest


4. Afternoon Delight
Well, you could look up the lyrics to the song….
Or take a note from Ron Burgundy  

Then again, instead, you can head on down to Metro 1, and take the cutest and noisiest metro in Europe to Szechenyi furdö. A classic thermal bath. Budapest just isn’t Budapest without it’s hot springs. Even if you fancy yourself what we Swedes call a “badkruka” (“bathjar”. Basically, one who avoids the water), you need to do this. Yes you do.

Szechenyi is where I go in the cold winter months since the outside pools are open all year round. This means that you can enjoy warm gorgeous water while snowflakes fall like flower petals around you. Does it get more romantic than that?

http://szechenyispabaths.com/
Városliget (the city park, take metro 1)
 


5. Candle light, red wine and meat.

It’s dinner time. Oh friend, I have so many favorites that if I start listing them we’ll be here all night.

Our focus is oh-la-la-love so we need a certain ambiance, right?

To be able to slip into a dark corner, with your face lit up by flattering candlelight I would suggest Bórbirosag or Pesti-Diszno. Both are perfect for that slinky little black dress, elegantly messed up hair, swiveling a glass of wine in a very suggestive way.

ttp://borbirosag.com/
Csarnok tér 5, 1093 Budapest, 

http://pestidiszno.hu/
Nagymező utca 19., 1065 Budapest

Note: you’ll be tempted to eat A LOT. Just remember, too much Hungarian food in one go might make the night end with you both hurtling down on the bed, asleep before you hit the pillow (you know that kind of heavy, drooling, body-plastered-all-over-the-bed-and-you’re-still-in-your-clothes kind of sleep)
 


6. More wine, kisses and maybe some music?
This city rarely sleeps or at least it’s a short one.

To finish on a romantic note you can go to any gorgeous bar in the city. Or what I prefer: polish off that bottle of divine wine, pay the bill and head back to the clean-sheet-down-pillow-heaven of a bed.

Kisses and love and happy Valentine’s day

PS: All on this list can be done Solo too. Budapest is one of THE best places to fly solo. 

The importance of going through books

Hm, finishing the title I realized there might be a slight chance you think I'm about to embark on a journey through economics (it is tax season where I live, true). 

I'm on a mission to declutter. In short: to throw out stuff. 
So I pulled down every single book from the shelf and created this sandcastle-type-pile of books on the floor. Decided which to keep (easy). Which to let go (not always as easy). Which aren't even mine (friends, expect a call). And which are waiting to be read. 

I always keep a pile of unread books waiting in line. Around 10 at a time. 
Turns out the real number is 40.
I was surprised by the number. Feels quite astounding (and I don't want to tell you how many were half-read and forgotten)

Then, there was one who carried another surprise. 

There, by the first page. 500 kronor (that's around 50 euros)
Chills. 

You see, it's one thing to find cash where you think you might have left it. An old purse. Between couch cushions. In a pocket. 
I did not expect this. 

So before you say goodbye to your old books: make sure you look through them.