Books That Inspire

It is not the first time I read “The Untethered Soul” by Michael A. Singer. Already
six years ago, I was struck by the simplicity of the author’s writing and how he treats
the important theme on how to find back to your original self, and to live life lighter
and more fully.
In five Parts Singer writes about Awakening Consciousness, Experiencing Energy,
Freeing Yourself, Going Beyond, and Living Life. It’s about personal development, but
not with superficial bullet action lists on how to change your life. He is more like a soft-
spoken mentor, inspiring us to release and let go of the clutter in our minds and in our
lives, and become more connected to the universe within and around us.
Among other points Singer stresses how important is to realise that you are not the voice
of the mind that never stops talking, commenting, taking sides, and getting all wound up
about what you think is happening. You are the one who hears it and “the best way to free yourself from this incessant chatter is to step back and view it objectively”.
In times of spiritual unrest, this book has inspired me to meditate regularly again, and
to concentrate on what is important in life. I warmly recommend it to anybody who wants to “transcend the part of you that is not okay and needs protection”.

NB: Meaning of untether
1. To disconnect: an opinion that was untethered to reality.
2. To free from restraints: The experience untethered his imagination.

Reading under the trees in my garden enhances the whole experience :-)

Reading under the trees in my garden enhances the whole experience :-)

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The Stunningly Sage Sage

Out of all medicinal herbs, sage (salvia officials) is one of the most common ones –
and most versatile. Its curative qualities have been known for thousands of years:
already the Romans said “Cur moreretur homo dum salvia crosscut horto?”, i.e.
“How can a man die, when sage grows in his garden?”. Another good reason to grow
sage is that it is also one of the bees’ favourite flowers!
Wild sage, with its beautiful dark blue flowers, can be found in nature, but the most
efficient variety is the garden sage, originating from the isle of Crete. It is very
robust, and grows in almost any climate. The content of its essential oils rises a lot
on warm, sunny days and therefore you should always harvest sage in such weather, and
then let it dry in a warm place, but out of direct sunlight.
A strong infusion of sage makes your hair soft and shiny and if you gargle it, that’s
good for your teeth, prevents bad breath, and soothes an aching throat.
Sage has an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effect, calms down an overproducing
thyroid gland and helps with digestive problems.
The essential oil in sage prevents (excessive) transpiration, for a Sage cure drink
a strong infusion twice a day for 3-4 months, taking a break one day per week,
to relive your liver.
Similar to Rosemary, sage is said to improve brain function and memory, and is
actually used as a treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
The herb also has a superior level of vitamin K, which is a crucial element in
developing bone density, so if you suffer from early signs of osteoporosis try to
add sage leaves to your diet.
That brings me to sage in cuisine: it goes well with eggplant, fish, peas
tomatoes, potatoes, cheese, and beans. Sage, fried in butter, is a great condiment
to your pasta, and why not try a risotto with apple, walnuts, and sage?

Wild sage, for once without bees in it ;-)

Wild sage, for once without bees ;-)

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Heritage & Environment

Up to a certain point we are the fruit of our heritage and environment. What our parents, teachers and other “authorities” taught us has formed us much more than we sometimes want to admit. However, even if we do admit and accept it, at some point in our lives we have to critically consider the influence of these inherited opinions and values. Do they still suit us in our lives right now, do they fit our deepest wishes? Do we really want to live according to them, or do we actually have different values deep inside?
One example could be our working morale. The older generation sometimes had quite a different way of seeing and valuing their working relationships than we have. Still we continue to work very hard and feel overly responsible towards a company that might not even properly value our contribution.
Do you stick to values and opinions that don’t really express your own deepest convictions as the person you are today? It is a good idea to reconsider the way you live your life from time to time, to question your habits and choices. You might have developed and grown, and they might not be valid anymore. If there is one thing that is sure in life, it’s that it is constantly changing. And so are we, wether we realise and welcome it, or cling to outdated values and standards.

In some parts, the values of my parents - and Grandma - were different from mine

Some of the values of my parents – and Grandma – were different from mine

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Summer Happiness

For many, vacation is the time when they can do what they most love to do. Finally
there’s enough time to start an eagerly awaited project, to travel and discover new
places, to read that thousand page book, take up a new, interesting hobby, or just
lie on your back in the grass under a tree and enjoy the summer breeze. Of course we
have to take into account our beloved one’s wishes too, but there is always time that
we can spend only for ourselves.
These summer pleasures often bring us back to childhood days: we might go fishing,
or bathing in the sea, to a fun fair or flying a kite. We dive into an activity where
we get so immersed that we forget the world around us.
I am blessed with lots of free time all through the year, but some of my favourite
things can only be done in summer. Like discovering flowers. During spring and
summer hikes it brings me immense happiness to look for flowers and plants along
my path and I can get completely high when discovering a species that’s new to me.
I take lots of pictures of different parts of the plant and once back home I consult
my flower Bible, the “Flora Helvetica”, which includes all plants in Switzerland.
Sometimes I have to look through all 3.000 species in the book, so you can imagine
my joy when I finally find my plant! Next step is to learn its name, at least in
Latin and Swedish, and yes, I actually enjoy that too 😉
What is your favourite summer activity? When do you loose track of time and are
fully THERE only for what you’re doing right in that moment? What brings you so
much summer happiness that it lasts within you to brighten up even the dreariest
of November days?

Botany makes me enter "the Zone"

Botany makes me enter “the Zone”

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Village Life

After one and a half year up in my little village, suddenly I notice that I really
feel at home. That feeling is not related to my house or the surroundings (where I
settled in directly after moving here) but has to do with people. I’ve become acquainted
with many more of the villagers, and nowadays when I’m up and about I always meet
somebody to greet, wave at, or have a little “Bonjour, ça va?”-chat with. I feel seen
and acknowledged, and like being a part of this community.
This is one of the big advantages of living in a small place: eventually you come
to know almost everybody, at least enough to say “hello”. You’re not an anonymous
being anymore who passes by almost invisibly, but a fellow human being that it’s
worthwhile to greet and smile at.
Of course it has its disadvantages living in a small village. Everybody has their
eyes on everybody else and gossiping about people is probably one of the main
distractions, but I don’t care. As long as I live my life according to my convictions
and in a way that does not harm anybody, others can talk as much as they want.
And honestly, isn’t being talked about the smaller of inconveniences, compared to the
good feeling of being surrounded by fellow human beings, of being seen and cared
about? If ever I were in any serious trouble, I’m convinced that many of them would
not hesitate a second to help out. And they other way round too, of course.
I feel welcome and safe where I live and I really appreciate that, knowing that far
too many people don’t…

Passing by Tilly's house on my morning walk

Passing by Tilly’s house on my morning walk

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Yellow As The Sun

Botany is one of my main interests in life, and especially the knowledge of medicinal
plants. During the last two years I’ve learned a lot from books and from the internet,
but the best way remains being taught “in the filed” by knowledgeable people (I might
offer such hikes myself one day!). It’s not always obvious to recognise the plants and
to be sure that you’ve got the right one. Some have poisonous false friends, so you
need to watch out.
One of this year’s discoveries is the mullein (verbascum thapsus). As with many other
medicinal herbs you can use both flowers, leaves, and roots, but for now I’ve only used
the flowers. With lots of delicacy and patience they should be picked at midday when
they’re no longer moist, and dried quickly and carefully. The reward is a wonderfully
golden yellow herbal infusion with noticeable relaxant qualities.
Mullein flower tea can be used as treatment for the Herpes Simplex virus, especially
for women where triggered by hormonal fluctuations combined with stress. The plant
has antibacterial and antiviral properties, and is useful against pectoral complaints,
but honestly, I mainly drink it because of its colour: it’s like having the sun in
my teacup 🙂

Yellow as the SUN

Yellow as the SUN

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The Greatest Gift

I know, they were not really “given” to me, but still I consider my daughters to be Life’s
greatest gift to me. Without them, I would never be the person I am today: thanks to their presence in my life, my ego and my need to prove myself have shrunk a lot.
Living with and raising children, you get to question a lot of your certainties. It can be
quite humbling, if you allow yourself to learn from them. And that’s really not obvious –
pride, insecurity and carelessness often come in between.
Once your children have grown up it’s wonderful to let go of the burden of responsibility
and, if you’re lucky, become good friends with them. That’s the stage I’m in now, and I
enjoy every second of it. Thank you, Life, for these two invaluable gifts!

Their visits are like whiffs of energy and love

Their visits are like whiffs of energy and love

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Free Inner and Outer Spaces

Where I live should reflect who I am. I want my need for inner peace to be
reflected by a harmonious, uncluttered home. I’m not striving for Japanese
purity, but I need free surfaces.
Alas, I am still attached to too many objects. A’s chandeliers, B’s painting, V’s
red-dressed angel, and the black cat out of wood my dad did for our childhood summer
house – I want to keep these things to remind me of people dear to me.
How do I match these two wishes? Restraining my tendency to be radical and get rid
of everything at once, I go step by step. What I’ve done so far is to
• sort the objects I’m affectionate about, keeping one from each person
• range things with a practical purpose in drawers close to where they’re used
• get rid of things I will not keep (and not just hide them in the basement ;-).
The last one is the hardest. I don’t want to simply throw away what’s still useable.
Family and old friends live fare away, so I cannot leave anything to them and in my
village there’s no second hand store. Luckily there is a solution: the wall around
our waste sorting area has become a kind of show-case for unbroken, proper things
that people don’t want anymore. There I place my “leftovers”, even if – I admit it –
it sometimes hurts. Well, “anything that can be lost in a shipwreck isn’t yours”

Neat and orderly

Neat and orderly

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When a Friendship Ends

The first time this happened to me I was a child, and it struck me very hard. Since
then I have learned to handle it better, but there is no denying it: when a friendship
ends, you experience an important loss. You have to pick yourself up and realise that
this relationship that wasn’t benefiting either of you, and you will both feel free.
I was close to X. for a long time, we shared our inner feelings, joys and worries –
and now it’s over. It doesn’t hurt like a love affair coming to an end, but still:
it hurts.
I’ve asked myself all kind of questions, and come to the conclusion that both of us
weren’t always as open as we should have been towards the other with our intentions,
needs, and reactions. People also change over the years and grow in different
directions. I just have to accept that this happens in life, most likely to us all,
and to carry on.
Friendships aren’t that different from love affairs. Old wounds inside us make
us put up barriers, blocking closeness and progress. However, sometimes I feel that
these barriers also protect us: we can take in only so much suffering from others
– our cups are not bottomless and can also overflow.
That’s perhaps the hardest thing to accept: you can’t always be there for others the
way they want or need without taking harm yourself. And nobody can reproach you for
your limits – not even yourself.

My brother and his close friend since 40 years

My brother and his close friend since 40 years

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Green, Greener, the Greenest

Already as a child, my favourite colour was green. When us siblings were to choose among
different colours, my older brother chose red, my younger blue and I went for green. And
green has stayed with me through the years: during my years at Uni I did a couple of
bicycle vacations on my beloved green Monark, the first baby jacket I knitted was green
and my preferred tea cup for breakfast, a gift from my dear friend B., is green.
Why green? Reading up about the meaning of green I understand why: this colour is often
associated with balance, harmony, and growth. Green is closely connected to Nature and
has come to  symbolise an environmental-friendly lifestyle, something that is close to
my heart. Speaking of heart, green is also the colour of the heart chakra, and it is said
to create an equilibrium between the head and the heart – two poles that it’s essential
to balance out.
Apart from green, I love other colours too! The times when my wardrobe was almost
entirely black are gone. Yes, it’s elegant and practical, but oh, so …sad. I’ve returned
to my old preferences and revel in colours: orange when I feel energised, blue when
I’m calm and serene, and (off) white when I need a boost of lightness.
Interested in the meaning of different colours? Here’s an interesting link!
So: what’s your favourite colour?

Greener than Green (Emmental, CH)

Greener than Green (Emmental, CH)

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