CHOOSING CITIZENSHIP

We are born of Earth, in a place that becomes our nationality, where most of us grow up and grow old. At times we visit other places to explore, trade, learn or simply relax. But what happens when we constantly feel happier elsewhere? Is there a difference between being a citizen and having a nationality?

pink_tulipYes, to me there is. A citizen is someone who wants to serve his/her country, feel connected to and part of with a sense of hope for the future, aligning one’s own values with the collective values of the culture and system of his/her national country with a sense of loyalty in exchange for respect, appreciation and recognition where our contribution matters whether with our knowledge, money, skills, ideas or compassion and ethics.

One of the most common examples we can see is through sports where we cheer on our national teams in the world cup. Or in other competitions. Or simply when disasters hit, conflicts arise elsewhere and we compare how we would react or respond.

tulipsTo me, the culture is very important because it becomes part of the environment which always affect us to some degree, both physically and socially.

When I am in Sweden I feel like I have to constantly hold back, shrink myself, and become met with negativity or indifference, often based on someone else’s hopelessness or envy, but usually never receiving any kind of feedback, while I feel like I don’t fit in with Average Joes, nor immigrants. I like and welcome the increasing diversity here, but how can the Swedish culture evolve when there is little to none discussion about integration, weak leadership, enforcing learning Swedish or simple things like explaining environmental care-taking with recycling, eco-friendly branding, public places of nature etc for new Swedes, but instead more minority groups are created which grows in polarity with increased racism and discrimination.

blossomWhen I am in the United States, I am met with a much more positive attitude, interest, acceptance, pride and permission to express myself in terms of personality and faith, where making contact with others is welcome in contrast to the Swedish way, as I experience it, both on a personal level, in community and in media. In the US, I receive opportunities all the time, whether for friendships, dating or jobs. In Sweden I can apply for hundreds and never be called to an interview and I become met with suspicion when I take initiative myself whether towards being active in society in non-profit organizations, professionally or individually on a more personal intimate level, while becoming hindered to receive therapy and legal aid, becoming exhausted and getting stuck in a financial bureaucracy loosing more than I earn over and over again, where the Law of Jante seems to still rule, especially for entrepreneurs. I don’t see any joy, less feel free, loved or safe.

This is why I like to become a US citizen where I feel valued and welcome.

IDENTIFYING OURSELVES

How can I describe myself? Am I acting towards others based on my own values? What is important to me and how can I contribute to someone else’s life?

444I am open, sincere, honest, curious, non-judgmental, social and strive for harmony and balance. I like to have it organized and de-cluttered where I live, with matching colors and pretty, well thought out things. I like to combine new and old as long as it has good quality to provide me with a sense of personalized style. I crave beauty, especially through Mother Nature where I find inspiration and serenity.

I like to eat organic food that is beneficial for my health, but what few people know, especially in our society, is that I rather gain weight than loose, that I eat chocolate, whipped cream and chips without ever considering anything but needing energy and enjoying it. I eat gluten-free half-vegetarian food because it is easier for my body to receive nutrition and easier on my stomach, especially since I am sensitive to the environment. And I have a tendency to be a night-owl who likes to sleep late in the morning.

I prefer to work with projects to see a clear beginning and end, with a product in my hand. Even though I always make sure that everybody feel included, I seem to find myself taking charge in most group settings, sometimes out of impatience and frustration because I am a fast thinker and doer who simply prefers efficiency over processing, although I am trying to improve myself in that area and found ways to become a better leader through becoming a Professional Lifecoach.

I have had many serious traumas to deal with, but this has also enabled me to feel grateful for little, to not become upset with a bad hair-day but rather enjoy the hidden blessings and lessons my life journey has provided me with.

I feel most happy dancing (and I don’t say no to perform on stage, acting as a comedian) or simply expressing my creativity with words and pictures. I love children and animals, because they tend to express sincere love and wonder without any pretenses, social games, or false personas.

I have been told many times that I am really easy to talk to about everything and have passion, which I am grateful for because I do think it is important to stand our ground, as well as to stand up for other people but yet remain flexible and open to learning new perspectives and ways. To approach others with the language (tone, choice of words, etc) that seems fit for them to understand better which ever message I am trying to get through, but always truthfully without playing games. At the end of the day, a yes means yes and a no means no, but few seems comfortable with truth.

Light_gardenI believe in a Higher power that I call God which is working through our Higher Selves and our Collective Heart, with a mystery that can never be solved including experiences of unexplained phenomena like angels, which can be defined as ancestral spirits or simply etheric beings and Ascended Masters like Jesus. I believe that we are all connected on a spiritual level where we exchange inspiration and compassion and can find a sense of oneness and unity with all that is, which is something I began to experience when I was horse-back riding as a teen. My faith also enables me to have a spiritual identity that is detached from my personality traits, ie someone I am regardless of what I do, and this is also how I look at others.

Regardless of what other people think of us, we must find a sense of personal identity and define who we are to ourselves in order to create personal brands or simply be at home within. To be who we are in all settings and environments, but also making sure that we receive what we need in terms of love, friendships and professional support by having our choices respected.

Photo of me at YWCA Fernhurst in Honolulu 2011 with a light that I can’t explain…

APPLYING ALOHA IN SWEDEN

When I returned to Sweden in 2005 after my first longer stay in Hawaii, and dealing with the inner transformation that had taken place, I decided that I should try to implement the Aloha-spirit (Loving-Kindness) in the Swedish culture, where we seldom even say hello to strangers, less see each other. And when I say see, I mean really being present and validate the other person. That was, and is, the solemn goal with my book “The Call for Divine Mothering“; to increase compassion and gratitude. To make people understand that everybody can contribute to another’s wellbeing and that we are in fact important pieces of a puzzle for another even when we are not aware. So, in April 2007, I wrote this little column for the local city paper (which I later translated into my book “The Call for Divine Mothering” in 2009 and 2010 from my Swedish version).

kronika_2007Other than that, I was met with resistance everywhere. One example is that I sent an idea as part of job-application for a Swedish TV-channel proposing a program-series about honoring “Aloha-heroes”; which was adapted six months later together with a newspaper and called “Every day-heroes”. It is still running. Yet I didn’t get the job, nor a thank you. Why is that? Why is the source of inspiration not respected?

And even so, now six years later, everyone agrees that Sweden has a cold climate, not only physically but also emotionally, yet I wonder if there is a will to change? People live in closed social circles with little willingness to make new contacts, more than merely superficially with negative expectations with little or no encouragement and support for free expressions or improved behavior, where envy seems to rule even among famous people. Because if there isn’t a will, people will keep treading the same water and use it as an excuse for their own unhappiness or feeling of lack of love. Sometimes we find love in the privacy of our home, with one or perhaps a few close friends and family. And in some cases, these relationships have to carry too much or break for some other reason down the line and suddenly we have no-one else because we lack a sense of community. The Swedish way is to shut everyone out and the journey towards an “us” and “them” begins, which according to my opinion increases segregation.  We don’t even have a Swedish word for community the way it means in the American society, where the culture has evolved based on similar ideals like I experienced in Hawaii. Because just like every flower is dependent on soil, water and light, so is every person dependent on others. Can you then blame me for seeking my soil, water and light elsewhere than in Sweden?

The solution is learning to extend our loving-kindness to embrace those outside our inner circle. THAT is Divine Mothering to me. Of course I still live aloha on my own, by being and doing what feels aloha to me but unfortunately I don’t feel welcome to in Sweden.

KAHOLO THROUGH LIFE

I watched Hula the first time at Waikiki Beach in Honolulu in September 2004. I watched almost every night those weeks I stayed there. I cried most times too, because I was moved by the dancers’ beauty. Not just because of their pretty dresses and flowers in their hair, but because my own longing to be beautiful was found as I found myself feeling the motions within, resonating with my former experience as a dancer. I thought to myself: ”That is the kind of woman I want to be” only to later learn that I already am; I just needed to reclaim that truth for myself and dare to live out that feminine side while learning to find and express pride and tenderness in a healthy and humble way. I have always felt too humble, too nice, too tolerant, too abused.

The first thing I thought of when I returned in December 2004 (on St Lucia-day; the day we celebrate Divine Light in Sweden), was to find a dance-studio where I could learn to dance Hula. I browsed online at the hostel and found ”Halau Hula O’Kawaiiho’omalu” that was located at the premises of University of Hawaii Center for Hawaiian studies, led by Jared Kukaho’omalu Souza, who then was finishing his degree and learning how to become a Kumu, both as Kumu Hula and Kumu ‘Olelo. I was thrilled to be allowed to enter and dance with a small group with about eight women. Darryl-Lynn was usually standing in front of me so she was the one who taught me most of the motions. Leihua was the most pretty one, I thought, and also a great dancer. Nadine in the middle front was the most flexible and youngest one, dancing a solo number. They had also  performed at Waikiki Beach… Sometimes the  group of young men practicing before stayed and danced with us. And there was Neil, who I always watched because he was doing the motions really well, even though I at first learnt how to do the ‘Uwehe-step like men. I felt grateful to be allowed to learn from Native Hawaiians. But perhaps I was a little too western, anticipating and expecting to be taught like a ”regular” dance-class. And by far was I not in tune with my own beauty, trying to get my hair to grow out, not accepting my natural style and trying to fit in and be accepted. Which I grew into being during the months to come.

I love performing on stage and was happy to learn a couple of choreographies that we were supposed to show at a local festival during fall 2005, but I couldn’t stay because of the duration of my visa and had to return to Sweden because someone had broken into my apartment in Malmö, but the fact that I had become good enough to be part of a local Hula show even just for a couple of numbers, was such a confirmation to me. I never thought of performing in Sweden, because I needed the group. I just surrendered to the group’s dance talents and followed by being one with the music as well as learn how to chant and dance Kahiko.

When I returned to Sweden in 2005, I wanted to continue to dance Hula but found nobody else here. I brought with me the Merrie Monarch DVD from 2005 that I had watched on TV in my little studio on Kaipiolani Boulevard and the CD with music from Kumu Jared and of course ”Some call it Aloha” by Brothers Cazimero who I had watched live once in Honolulu. I still love their music. I obviously couldn’t remember all the choreographies that I had tried following but focused on a couple of motions and tried to set them together based on the lyrics that I did understand so that I could practice and learn more. I recorded a couple of videos, mostly for my own memory and to receive feedback and soon others’ interest in me started growing.

I danced at birthday and bachelorette parties, at a club with a Hawaiian theme and held workshops at Dansstudion No1, Forum Fitness Academy and a Swedish Dance High School.

Online I was contacted by a woman from Florida who taught me how to do a better ‘Uwehe for example, who also sent me a real Ti-leaf-skirt but made out of banana-leaves to Sweden. I started to do some choreographies to Swedish songs instead since I don’t know enough Hawaiian language to interpret it correctly and out of respect for the Hawaiian culture.

In 2007 I auditioned for ”Sweden’s Got Talent” for their pilot show and was invited to perform live on national TV for 1.5 million viewers. My goal was to win of course but oddly enough when I was asked what I would do with the money, I had responded that I wanted to invite ”my” Halau to come and perform in Sweden to show what real Hula is about. it wasn’t to the judges’ liking, seemingly based on their assumptions of coconut-bras and grass-skirts that I didn’t wear. I was X-ed out before the singing even began of the song I was going to dance to, as to purposely make fun of me even though I tried to show the authentic kind of Hawaiian dance.

In 2010 I was finally able to return to Honolulu, to finish my Master’s degree and of course to learn more Hula. I found Kumu Jared and went to his Hale in Waimanalo, happy to learn that he had become a teacher in the Hawaiian language at Kailua High School, but also just teaching Hula for younger people and old ladies. I didn’t really fit in with either, and commuting to Waimanalo for practice with the Bus wasn’t really a good option so I asked for his permission to seek another Kumu.

During spring 2010, I went to a lecture by Olin Lagon, held at University of Hawaii, about entrepreneurship and Kanu Hawaii (an environmental organization for building a community) but before he started his speech, Kumu Marian Ka’ipo Park introduced  herself with the song ”Maunaleo” by Keali’i Reichel and for some reason that song touched me really deep, together with her story about her own way to become a Kumu, not always accepted with her style either by some people of the traditional style.

A culture so rich and so profoundly important for many to learn must preserve its heritage, but at the same time, it must also evolve according to its members and the diversity that follows – an increasingly hot topic it seems. I met with Marian again and was accepted in her “Halau Healing Hula”. She also got my former Kumu’s permission to teach me. This was the perfect group for me, with a couple of other immigrants, most members in the same age like me with similar interests, values and ambitions. Melissa was a fun fairy, Kathy excellent as a friend (and great at Lomilomi and introducing me to Healer Lisa), Andrea to provide rides and comments, Karen with her relationship issues, Kimmo was one of two guys who introduced me to Mochi ice-cream and gave me a ride to one of our rituals for the Solstice in Kailua, to where I returned on my own many times, together with our Kahu Camilia, and Lauren who will become a great dance instructor if she isn’t already, among others. I loved Kumu Marian’s choreographies and learning how to use the Pu’ili – bamboo-sticks. I hope I eventually can house different Halaus among other activities to practice at Telluselle Living Center.

Due to all the hassle that Hawaii Pacific University put me through, I couldn’t continue. In 2011 when I moved in to YWCA Fernhurst, I met Jocelyn, who has a line of ancestral knowledge of Hawaiian practioning and Hula, who helped me find my center again and practice a little healing. I also became a member of Unity Church of Hawaii where I performed together with the church Halau, led by Daniel De Castro, for Christmas and Easter.

Back in Sweden again in 2013 and 2014, I have continued to practice and share dances at small venues. What I do know is, God wants me to dance Hula, for me, for others and for Earth to pass forward the torch of the Aloha-spirit.

Kaholo is a motion that means to travel. Here is a link to a great movie about becoming a Hula-dancer and teacher.

 

LIVE ALOHA!

While I was living in Hawaii 2004-2005 and 2010-12, one of the most important gifts I received was learning about and embodying the Sacred Feminine in terms of sincere Compassion carried out in our daily lives. This loving-kindness is often referred to as the Aloha-spirit or Living Aloha. The word Aloha can be defined like this:

Aloha is to “Joyfully share breath“, which means that every time we greet one another with an “Aloha!“, we acknowledge our very human existence with respect. Aloha can also be defined as an acronym where each letter stands for a word:

A – ala – watchful, alertness
L – lokahi – creative harmony from diversity
O – oia’i’o – truthful honesty
H – ha’aha’a – humility
A – ahonui – patient perseverance

With this foundation paired with living on an island far away, the Hawaiians have developed a care-taking to embrace all with a shared responsibility towards oneself, others and the land.

So, how do we live Aloha? Here are some examples:

* Offering your help to carry someone else’s heavy load
* Smile and greet all people you meet; friends and strangers alike
* Allow someone to cut in line in front of you
* Open the door for someone else
* Respect and value the wisdom of the elderly
* Recycle, don’t litter and leave the place nicer than when you got there
* Express gratitude towards the land for the food and be moderate
* Solve conflicts as soon as possible with equally respected dialogs perhaps with a mediator present
* Walk softly and never remove any rocks because you don’t know which ancestor lies buried there
* Bring food to those who need it and always share yours
* Offer your seat to someone else on the bus
* Don’t hesitate to give someone a compliment or start chatting with a stranger at the bus-stop or in the elevator
* Be generous with your time
* Help when you can
* Buy local to ensure sustainability

Is it possible to conduct ourselves this way in other places than Hawaii to elevate the feeling of integration, belonging, validation and safety? To apply compassion in action, not just by being nice in order to be polite, but to meet and greet other people, both friends and strangers, with an open heart and positive attitude and a sincere sense of being of service with generosity and hospitality coming from the heart. Try for yourself!

When I dance Hula, it enables me to feel and express Aloha from within.

FINDING OUR PASSION

How do we find our passion and purpose in the midst of the rat-race? Take a deep breath and examine your motivation. What is the driving forces behind your behavior and are you happy with what you are doing?

When I changed my professional field from advertising to human resources and wellness, I received much inspiration through the Oprah-show where presentations and examples were made in the Life-makeover series in 2002. One of the profound questions for me was to define the main three characteristics or simply put; the gratification we receive if we live our childhood dream; ie What makes you feel fulfilled doing what you love to do?

To me it is:

* Expressing myself creatively

* Performing on stage

* Wearing flowing skirts and dresses

But to make ends meet, it isn’t always possible to live our dream as a paid profession, but we can balance our insights with the conditions we live under, so that we still feel that our work is carried out for the same sense of gratification, until we are presented with new opportunities. By using these answers, we can find new ways, arenas and methods to still feel fulfilled, such as in my example I can hold a speech, write, or simply choose to wear clothes that make me feel beautiful that resembles the feeling of being a ballerina.

Three years later in 2005 I started to dance Hula and suddenly I realized I could live my dream and define my purpose which is to Live Aloha.

 

THE SACRED PATH

The foundation for our lives stands on faith. How we define this is a life-long journey. Some people choose not to believe in God or a Supreme Loving Presence at all, where others believe in the same but use different names.

My spiritual journey started in my teens when I began to get interested in North American Shamanism, while growing up in a family where my mother used to be a Christian but had turned towards Buddhism and my father had turned his interest towards Islam while letting me choose for myself what to belong to.

During my mid 20’s I started looking for tools to heal, to cope with my experiences and something to guide me forward while immersing myself into mysticism and New Age. I also read some of the Bhagavad Gita and the Tao Te Ching, while learning how to meditate and practice Chinese-Tibetan Medical Qigong.

In my 30’s I focused on Coaching as a tool for personal development to clarify my values, assessing my skills and how to use the Law of Attraction, affirmations and similar exercises which can border on both religion and psychology, still looking for faith, while chanting both Hindu and Buddhist mantras and doing Yoga.

But the only prayer I knew had worked for me was a Christian child-prayer my school counselor had taught me in my teens which goes:

“Gud, som haver barnen kär, se till mig som liten är, vart jag än i världen vänder, är jag i Guds trygga händer ~ God, who holds children dear, look to me who is small, wherever I in the world turn, I am in God’s safe hands.” (my translation without editing)

It wasn’t until after the passing of my mother in 2004 that I surrendered to Christianity, growing an interest to use the Bible for advice and learning how to dance Hawaiian Hula. This has helped me to trust my own intuition for discerning what I refer to as Divine interventions which always has to have the root in our hearts, whereas the power of our intentions come from our minds, not always aligned with Love, which is when we can become tricked into believing in ourselves more than God.

Now in my 40’s, what I do to ensure that I walk on a sacred path is to always relate to Mother Earth which is also where I find inspiration and insight, connecting me with both the material world and the spiritual, like a Christian shaman, while also being able to detach from the Human Ego and choose to be more mindfully present in my interactions with others.

Regardless of which faith we like to devote ourselves to, it is based on an intimate and vulnerable inner dialogue which at times can be the only thing a person has and faith should always be treated with respect and sincere humility.

 

 

SAVING FACE

“‘A’ohe pau ka’ike i ka Hālau Ho’okahi

~ All knowledge isn’t taught in the same school.”

How do we best show our emotions, if not in our faces. This is one of the most important things for a Hawaiian Hula-dancer to learn as part of a performance. But in order to express the song in a dance, one must also learn how to process and find an authentic sensation to give to the audience. It is this that is one of my strengths once I have mastered the choreography and feel present, simply because my face tend to show what I feel very openly, wherefore my own personal healing is a must in order to forward Aloha again. To do this, require different types of practices for me, given my current location and luckily I have found a great source.

dancestudioNow I am learning more through practicing Lyrical Contemporary at Balettakademien in Stockholm for Alex Araya, where we learn that the content of the song is to be portrayed not only with dynamic motions but also through facial expression; dancing our feelings.

Lyrical Contemporary is a Modern dance-form; free and fluid, much alike the style I used to practice for José Silva in Honolulu and a little for Jonas Hedqvist in Malmö but mostly through Val Jean Charles (Graham) and Anette Svensson (Luigi) who has taught me both Modern and Jazz technique, before I turned to Isadora Duncan for Kathleen Quinlan, beginning as a young girl with Classical Ballet for Birgit Wettergren.

By combining and learning the best from each, it also enables us to cross-over to find our own.

BALANCE FOCUS

LogoWhen a dancer makes a pirouette, she needs to spot (ie aim your eyes at a point) in order to maintain balance during the turns. The common way to do it is to spot forward in the direction of the motion. However this past summer I learned through an Isadora Duncan class, that I could spot backwards but still move forward. This made a huge difference because it creates another type of stability for me who has this as my weak spot. While practicing a little yesterday, I realized that this is also why we so often tend to look backwards at our lives, given where we are coming from sets the foundation for what we are trying to create in the now.

My father has been a self-employed and self-published author most of my life, so naturally this was easy for me to apply myself, even as I turned my entrepreneurship towards other trades.  When I went from being employed to freelancing paid as an independent contractor, was when I was a copywriter in the 90’s both with my own customers and with clients as a supplier to different advertising agencies, followed by lifecoaching in the early 00’s also with private clients and through other organizations, when my first business name was Balancefocus (Balansfokus) framed in an Eco-friendly way with green, and later green and orange profile colors for communication and personal growth. Now that I am focusing on creating Telluselle Living Center, it is a way to expand my previous freelancing into a collaboration with others on a bigger arena, with many colors, in a cooperative model that I am developing.

WHICH SOIL IS BEST FOR OUR ROOTS?

Why is it important where we are coming from? Why do we always ask others which nationality they have and judge based on their race if we accept and respect it or not? Why is someone’s age and gender important?

Everything we learn in life becomes accumulated and processed through our roots, which is where we were born. It is through our upbringing our first filter towards others is created, for us to understand ourselves and others. But, the pitfall is that most of us have a tendency to make assumptions and judge others based on the discriminating factors such as nationality, religion, gender, age, race and so forth.

Not wanting to be judged or judge another is important, but this shouldn’t exclude that we need to show respect for the same factors, which is included in our competence (knowledge, skills, experience, talent). For example, I look at life through a woman’s body, which simply means that my perspective will always differ from a man’s and that perspective should be respected and valued to the same extent as a man’s.

Yesterday, I talked a little with a younger man from a different background than mine, but the issue wasn’t that, but of culture. From his point of view, he wanted to learn how to interact better with his superior in a tech-company in Sweden. When we talked about it, I noticed that his behavior was founded from his culture so the answer to how he could improve his interactions, is different than how I should be advised myself in Sweden, for example based on how we define and exercise communication through organizational settings. This is what I learned through my graduate education at Hawaii Pacific University (besides my own work and life experience) and how to coach others while taking the cultural context into consideration alongside profession which together with national culture founds the organizational culture that I interpret as a coach and mentor.

The culture is our conditioning – the soil in which we are supposed to nurture and grow together. It is the culture and environment in Sweden where I was born that I, personally, don’t feel appreciated, respected, valued, welcome or belong to based on traditional Swedish values which is why I still prefer the American way with its approach, attitude, values, beliefs; ie culture.

We need to clarify our own values first, then the values and structure in our groups and communities, whereupon we can take it to an organizational and national level, which becomes international until we realize that we are all of Earth.

BREAK YOUR BARRIERS

I participated in a career coaching workshop with qualified internationals facilitated by Molood today through Meet-up, where we discussed how to make a great first impression, trying new ways of interacting and improving our communication skills, while being aware of our cultural context. I love being able to add my knowledge, experience and skills in these type of settings!

Me_MaloodSomething I was reminded of, was how we can find most personality traits in each and everyone of us, regardless of which we choose to present ourselves with. Likewise, when we choose to share our purpose in what we do, rather than making our career our identity, it opens up our path for including our true passions in our conversations while being ourselves.

These kind of meetings are exactly what I would like to host at Telluselle Living Center.

I will hold a workshop for making visionboards later this month. More details about that later!

CLAIMING OUR TRUE IDENTITY

I have always had a special relation to Mother Nature. Animals are my friends and as a teenager I learned a little horse-psychology which I practiced while exchanging work with mocking and feeding two dozen horses at the local riding-club for free classes and participating in a couple of dressage and jumping competitions, when I wasn’t just sitting in the stall with my favorite pony, sharing my thoughts.

Whenever our plants at home seemed to become a little depressed, I would be the one to replant and find new pots, carefully choosing and applying new soil to each, and removing weeds in our garden, which is still something I enjoy doing.

Trees whisper comfort through their leaves and by being the connection between Heaven and Earth. I put my hand on the bark and feel grounded, while observing the migration of birds and interact with them carrying spirit.

treepose3What is it to be human? Where do we belong? And how can we validate our own sense of self? Can we also be that connection?

When we are born, it is said that we are already whole and complete, but through our conditioning through our family, peers and society as well as the environment we live in, we develop behavioral patterns and coping mechanisms to fit in and be accepted, meanwhile at times hiding our core.  Our core is those values and beliefs which govern our behavior (approach, attitude and actions), often altered unconsciously depending on our conditions and experiences, not without trauma.

When we grow in awareness and aim to heal ourselves, a good way is to change our habitat so that we may make a fresh start and try new ways of relating and interacting without others holding us back into their comfort zones and societal norms based on the culture in which we have been held captive.

Unlayering the conditioning is a long process of grieving and rediscovery of the choices and decisions we have made, or being forced to make, and sort out what we want to keep building upon.

When my mother died in 2004, I traveled to Hawaii to start this process, which I underwent also when I returned to Sweden the following year, upon focusing my studies of the organizational level, as opposed to the individual, to see which motivational factors are collective.

Eventually I found a way to express my true nature again, which I celebrated by choosing to call myself Alexandra, like my mother wanted to when I was a child (instead of Camilla) and a unique new last name (instead of Charpentier) that was approved by the Swedish Patent and Registration Bureau in 2006 ~ Telluselle ~ meaning Mother Earth’s Daughter.

Photos of me by Richard Laitila from Honolulu 2010.

OUR COLORFUL WORLD

todayAccording to my parents, my first travel was to India when I was 6 months old. They conceived me at the ages of 24 and 22 so they literally put me on a baby backpack carrier and explored the world through jungles and dark city alleys. Before the age of four, I received stamps in my passport from India, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Syria, Portugal, Norway and Denmark.

When I was four years old we lived in Heidelberg, Germany for six months while my father wrote his dissertation paper in Ethnography, with a photo of me on the cover. Soon enough my younger brother was born and our travels became more focused towards Europe where we visited: Greece, Romania, France, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Vatican City, formerly East and West Germany and Turkey. As a young adult, I added Hungary to the list and revisited a couple of different countries in Europe over the years.

Yet, it was the adventure of going to the United States, where my own father had never been, that became where my own sense of exploration awakened. During my adult years I have visited and/or lived in: New York, Connecticut, Vermont, Maine, Maryland, Washington DC, Florida, Texas, California and Hawaii (and a short day-trip to Canada).

One of the most fun things I liked doing in the waiting areas of the transit halls at train-stations and airports as a little girl, was to try to understand which language someone spoke and where they came from. I am happy to know that I still often can relate to others that way; to be able to be friendly with strangers that are no strangers but simply speaking with a different dialect than my own. Because at the end of the day; the only language one needs to learn is the one of the heart.

BE MOVED

Ever since I was a little girl, I have felt something stir inside of me when I have listened to certain music, beckoning me to dance. My heart and soul yearning to express itself through the art of motions with my body as the instrument.

pliéI have taken dance classes in a broad variety of styles, ranging from classical Ballet, jazz and showjazz, to Isadora Duncan and Hawaiian Hula. And somewhere in between lies contemporary Modern and Lyrical, in Sweden and in Hawaii. I remember the sense of relief when I re-entered practicing about eight years ago with a dance teacher I used to learn from also at the age of 25. Relief, because now that I am 44, I have a whole different mindset and being at home in my body with less pressure to achieve and more joy and grief to express with authenticity.

dans3I have always loved being on stage, also as an actress and a little singing, mostly in plays for children when I was younger and been an extra for a TV-comedy and commercials, been interviewed for a variety of media channels (radio about gender discrimination in advertising, TV about social security and newspapers about performances etc) and not to mention my own participation as a columnist in media.

When I was in my mid-20’s, one of my colleagues introduced me to an artist who needed a nude model for her croquis classes and it was quite an eye-opening experience to see my body portrayed in so many different ways with full respect. That is also how I learned to realize that we all perceive each other differently and our own self-perception is always a matter of how we feel and not how we look.

heartmotionThen my job took over, my relationships and life became too serious and my sense of child’s play disappeared for a decade due to encapsulated pain, which of course could only be released properly through dancing with a renewed alignment with my heart, where Hawaiian Hula became the ultimate combination for spiritual, emotional, mental and physical practice in 2005, which I can do for many more years.

Hula_roseWe all dance for different reasons; yet the common ground is the interaction we have with each other, the music and the audience, while creating a language without words.

MY FRIEND ANNICA

When I was a teenager 30 years ago, I had a friend named Annica. She was short like me and had short hair too. We laid in her girl’s room in Eslöv and listened to Madonna’s “Like a virgin” and discussed boys and dreams. We also saw the x-rated movie “Breathless” featuring Richard Gere together, and later the Bond-movie “The Living Daylights“… I don’t remember how we met, I believe it was at a dance practice called “Fame-dance” based on the same style like the TV-show. I shared my dream of becoming a ballerina when I was a little girl and she told me how she wanted to become a pilot.

When we were in our early 20’s we backpacked across Europe by train for a couple of weeks with three guys, got drunk and I snuck one of her friends to be my boyfriend for a while… These were good times and I learned a lot from her self-esteem, her struggle to overcome a back-problem while I had to heal my own knee.

It was also one of the most gratifying moments to me, when I later learned that she not only became a pilot, but an Air Force instructor in New Mexico in the US. It was then I knew I could help others to achieve their dreams with my support and belief and feel allowed to follow mine.