This was 2017..
I'm sitting alone in my apartment in Helsingborg. I'm playing my favourite Spotify playlist this year, 'Your Favourite Coffeehouse' (yes, that's how simple I am) and trying to get me into the reflective writing mood to summerize this year. The year 2017.
2017 has been an interesting year for many reasons. Mostly though because it has been a very 'up and down' year and I've certainly gotten to practise serenity.
Perla, Childcare and a Sustainable Future
My biggest concern this year has been my presence with Perla. This is on top of my mind every single day and my biggest worry and stress-factor. Her dad and I have not managed to discuss her future, which I find unacceptable, and it keeps me in a very insecure position. She is still registered with him due to him still living where we used to live and he refuses to make any changes, and due to that she gets a place at kindergarten there and not here with me. Given that he doesn't want to discuss any other solutions for her future and stubbornly refuses to look out of his narrow world view, I've been forced to find temporary solutions.
I started therefore the year with no support for childcare here in Helsingborg. My prior AuPair left before Christmas according to our contract and I had hoped for getting P a place in kindergarten. But after months of trial I got the final declining letter stating that she would not get a place here, despite her home town being willing to pay for her place.
Luckily, the first week in January I found a lovely girl who moved in with us 2 weeks later. As happy I was that it worked out so fast, my world fell apart just as fast when she 3 months later decided to go back to Iceland. From April to September I therefore had to work it out with no childcare. I worked some from home, brought her with me to work, my mom came over to help and then I used both my maternity leave days and summer vacation.
You can just imagine how hard it can be to try to make it all work out as a single mother, far away from family and friends, with no access to childcare and having to fight the system as it sides with the parent 'that stays', leaving the parent that leaves the household with no clear rights.
My patience, positivity, compassion, serenity and the ability to forgive and solve problems quickly and effectively has therefore truly been put on prove this year. Most often I pass the test, but sometimes I break down and cry my eyes out. I need that too, just to be able to get it out and refill the energy needed to continue. Because this is still an ongoing journey.
Luckily I've had a wonderful autumn with our new, wonderful AuPair, Halla, who has made our life so much better, simpler and easier. That kind of support is invaluable and I'm so grateful for having such a good person living with us. Her help at home gives me the opportunity to spend more time with Perla and even to work out (when I succeed planning for it, which was a while ago..), which means everything to me.
But that is still a temporary solution and I know that going forward, soon, I must again go into the state of finding new solutions. I wish to be able through dialogue with her father to create a sustainable solution for her future, and will do everything I can to meet that challenge with compassion, kindness and fairness - still without giving in submissively.
The Thing People Call 'Work'
Then there is this other thing that takes plenty of our time spent awake. Work. When this year started I knew that I had to find my next step after the Management Trainee Programme by the end of August. Still, I felt no rush. I was rather content in my phase of exploring out of curiosity and passion. I didn't want to 'work'. I still just want to add value by doing what I love and believe in. And I wanted to believe that it is also possible in large organization.
Long story very short: I put a faith into that everything would turn out just fine, and I didn't apply for any job. Instead I found a gap in the organisation and had the opportunity to suggest solutions to fill that gap, adding value to the organisation as whole by doing what I love and am good at. I am privileged to have gained trust within the organisation and within the leadership team, and from September 1st I've had the honour to serve as a Sustainability Manager at IKEA IT, responsible for making our IT operations more sustainable and aligned with our overall strategy and ambitions. I also have a seat in the leadership team where I'm part of leading the organization forward. I'm working with great people, leading a complex area on a global level. I'm both learning and growing, challenged and rewarded every single day.
Stability vs. Uncertainty
Again, once again, in my life I've found stability. I've a nice place I call home, I'm financially independent, I'm trusted and appreciated at work, I've many good friends around me and I'm working with something I myself created in one of the world's largest companies. By all standard means I'm doing well. But I would be lying if I would saying that I'm content. I'm right there where people want to have me because it's conforming - living the normal life.
I always go back to there, to the norm, because the entire society points that way. But every time I reach there I feel how I don't belong there, and I long back to the feeling I had where I owned nothing, was alone on a bike somewhere where I had no clue, and faced a challenge after challenge, trying to create something that will change the world to the better. I guess though that both is good. The contrasts. Maybe I even need them for my growth.
There are also new things to be learned all the time when you have a kid. The surrounding has strong opinions on what is best for a kid, and most if it is according to the norms. The norms that I don't fit into. How do you do then if you want to live your life and bring up your child according to your values and beliefs, but only few people understand it because it's so far from their own reality? How do you make that alignment without being perceived as unstable and not a responsible person? I hope to have proved that I can deliver a stable and responsible life. I've already few times in my life gone from zero to 'success' in a short amount of time. I've done things that require discipline and responsible actions, like completing engineering degree from prestigious universities and providing financial stability for me and my daughter on my own from having nothing. I can do the straight path and I could do it well. But it's not me, it's not what I want. I just don't. But I admit, I'm scared to be judged. Normally I don't care, but I fear that the judgement might negatively impact how other people view my upbringing. And - there I said it out loud. And it's limiting. Very very limiting.
Which lead to another important part of this year. I met someone. To start meeting someone for the first time as a single mother was different. And very, very vulnerable. It happened fast and naturally, but I cognitively hesitated for a long time. Took my time. Allowed him and P to meet together with other people, as any other friend. But it all evolved naturally. I haven't smiled or laughed so much in years. We have deep, open discussions about everything and nothing. He is already my biggest challenger as well as supporter. He is extremely emotionally intelligent, curious, vital, spontaneous, fun, caring and thoughtful. And he is wonderful to Perla, and he adores him. He is like an extreme version of me: his good sides are better than mine, his 'bad' sides are worse. Examples? He has higher emotional intelligence than I have, reads people better and is better at staying in the now. On the other hand he is more messy, more time-optimistic and forgets his stuff frequently.
I, though, realise that I took a chance with him. Or did I? I never expected at this stage in my life I would start dating someone who was totally 'out of order' with no stability whatsoever, except - which is of highest importance - extreme stability in being open, genuine and transparent. He has no financial security, no stable home, no direction. But he has endless care, empathy and is honest to both himself and honest at every moment, qualities I value higher than any material stability in the world. And I love him for being exactly that person, and I see how he grows every week, and I see endless possibilities together with him. But I also find it hard to be with someone who is so alike me, and is living it out at the moment. Then again, it gives me the perspective of how uncomfortable other people can feel around me, when I'm finding myself in that kind of uncertainty. It's and interesting balance that I'm curious to see evolving. I'm also curious to learn about my reactions, as I feel how I'm struggling a lot between living in the moment and planning ahead. Right now he wants to take one day at a time, right now I want to feel secure in us so we can build good prerequisites for the life we want.
I guess time will tell - and very soon indeed - where this goes. But whatever happens, I'm highly grateful for everything I've gotten to experience together with him and what I've learned from him during this year.
Everything Else I Did..
Of course there are many other things to be be brought up, but are just not on top of my mind at this very moment. I'm extremely proud of my mom who realised her dream of hiking Camino de Santiago. I went to celebrate my best childhood friend's wedding in Iceland and I got a new, little cousin. A loved family member passed away, reminding me and everyone of that life is short and that life is now. I had a lovely vacation with Perla in Skåne, I got good visits from both Iceland and other places in Sweden, I visited friends in Stockholm, I had a wonderful birthday in the archipelago, danced my feet off at both highschool and university jubileum, travelled to both China and the US, completed various runs and have signed up for more during 2018. Ohh, and I turned vegetarian on my 31st birthday.
... And Didn't
There were also things this year that I did not do, that I would liked to have had the opportunity to prioritise. For instance, I declined all public speaking and external mentorship requests, something I would love to do. I did not follow up the publishing of my book with any marketing and sales campaign. I read way fewer books than I would have liked, and I wrote very, very little. I did not start any new project nor did I continue with book writing. I met my family way too seldom and I would have loved to spend more time in Iceland with them. I wish I was better at making 'that phone call' and I also wish that I would be less addicted to my mobile device. I did not work out properly either.
Writing this down makes me realise where I find myself at the moment, and gives me insights into where I want to go 2018.
For 2016 I chose to focus on following values: Positivity, Harmony, Kindness, Presence and Courage. Unfortunately I can't find if I made this kind of reflection for 2017. But for 2018 following values I want to honour and allow to guide me: Clarity, Compassion, Authenticity, Courage, Relations and Vitality.
I will ask tough questions to understand both limitations and possibilities. I will rather go for the bitter truth that enables me to take conscious actions, than to be paralysed by uncertainty and inability to take a stand.
I will meet everyone, in my relations and in my daily meetings, with understanding. I will not judge but I will listen to feel what the other person feels. I will make the effort to be kind in the most difficult situations and always act out of care and kindness.
I will not compromise on my core values, and I will take the time to reflect upon the decisions I make going forward in order to not violate my dreams, visions and feelings. I will chose 'my way' over 'the highway'.
I will have the courage to make bold decisions towards my authenticity and clarity. I will have the courage to create my own story and tell it in a vulnerable way, even though it may be difficult and painful. I will have the courage to be true to myself at any given time.
I will nurture my relationship with my family in Iceland, friends all around, and to dare to connect and commit to the people I love.
I will do things that makes me come alive. I will prioritise experiences that increase my wellbeing and happiness, both physical and mental.
And then, for the more concrete goals (beside performance goals at work):
1. Finish Vasaloppet (finally!), run 1. half marathon, one off-road race and one obstacle run (min).
2. Write and publish my first Children book.
3. Travel around Iceland/Westfjords
4. Prepare for the lifestyle that will give me energy every day (for: own company, one day)
5. Perform a minimum 2 public speaking events (external) (for: TED Talk, one day)
...all while being present to Perla, including her in every part of the adventure of life.