Posts Tagged ‘Choice’
I know I may be the only one smiling,
as the snowflakes whirl down on the streets of Stockholm.
Other Swedes can’t wait for winter to be over!
But I have missed this.
A friend spontaneously invited me to his holiday house in Knysna, a beautiful seaside place about five hours away from Cape Town, along the scenic Garden Route. And how could I possibly say no to the fresh sea breeze, an amazing house on Thesen Island, the company of two great South Africans, boat rides in the sunset and some of the greatest food and wine this country has to offer.
I caught myself thinking I was in a fairy tale. As if I had stepped into someone else’s life. And in a way, I had.
But every now and then the tickling sensation in the corners of my mouth reminded me that these thoughts and feelings are real.
And they’re mine.
The only thing I own.
Go seek a love like this, if you truly live.
Or else remain the slave of time.
And whatever state you seek,
Your lips so dry, must always drink,
Drink up and up,
Till dry lipped still, you reach the source.
For all your skills here given wealth,
Your quest, your handicrafts and works,
Don’t they begin in thought,
Begin beside the river?
Jalaluddin al Balkhi Rumi
I know it’s tempting to want to get up on those friendly looking elephant’s backs, bumping along the roads of Thailand, feeling like you are transferred to another time, connected with nature and the wild. And I don’t judge, I’ve ridden an elephant myself.
But think twice before you support a tourism industry that is torturing these elephants and literally ‘crushing’ (that is the term used to tame the elephants) natural instincts and will power.
Elephant Nature Park is a sanctuary park north of Chiang Mai where 32 elephants that have been beaten, abused or abandoned, are taken care of and given a better life.
If you are around, please pay a visit!
The monsoon rain is hammering on the plastic roof top of the Reggae Mansion Hostel, on the island of Penang in South West Malaysia.
It is Sunday morning and me and Pete, and English guy in my dorm, were just about to head out for a day trip to Penang Hill for a nice lookout on the island. But now we sit and wait.
Pete is fascinated by sounds and travels with a sound recorder to catch the calls for prayers, bustling bazaars and sweeping waves. I wonder if he is recording the rain. I am afraid he might record my sleep-talking tonight.
I need to decide whether to go to Langkawi Islands, further North in Malaysia tomorrow, or if that is just asking for more rain. I could catch a flight to Bangkok, in which case I should notice my friend who lives there. There are also flights to Phuket from where I could head over to Phi Phi Islands.
Oh, the daily troubles of backpacking.
I spent two days in Kuala Lumpur with Mikaela, a Swedish friend, not because we really liked the city, but because it provided huge, well-planned and practical shopping malls, where I picked up bargain clothes, of which I shipped half home for the cost of a Swedish sandwich.
I am loving this travelling life and feel so fortunate, fantastic and free!
Whether you are on the road, at work or cuddled up in bed on this Sunday morning, I wish you the same!
For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, or a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.
~ Fr. Alfred D’Souza
My days are like snowflakes: I wake up and they are there, around me, as I walk to and from work. Sometimes they are cold and in my face and I am trying to get where I’m going. Other times they are twirling beautifully around me and I stop and absorb the miracle of nature changing form. At all times, the snowflakes fall to the ground and melt away.
I’m trying my best to enjoy this winter, but I’ve been working so much and fallen into a routine where I basically eat and sleep.
I rarely get fresh air, or daylight.
No wonder I’m tired.
So today I decided to make it an energy boost day. I slept until I woke up from the buzz on the street outside. I got up and made myself coffee and a crisp bread sandwich with avocado and coriander. My room mate Charlotte was getting ready in the bathroom. I put music on loud and we danced around in our robes, and joked about how the Swedish term for “morning robe” translates to “morning rock”. How appropriate.
I talked to a couple of friends. I called my grandma who’s in the hospital since two weeks and she sounded better. I helped a friend out with her CV and checked for train tickets to go visit my little sister in Gothenburg.
And then I took a long walk around the city…
I walked around the designer shops in Vika and down to the trendy, over-priced restaurants by the harbor where I had coffee at Kaffebrenneriet with a half nude David Beckham spinning on a poster outside.
When I got home, my other room mate Maria told me how happy the little note I’d left had made her and then we discussed whether it would be best to buy an apartment in Sweden or Norway.
I went to a Shape Pulse class at the gym while Maria made us pesto and feta-baked salmon with salad, which we ate late in our little kitchen. Charlotte stayed over at her boyfriend’s since they are leaving for a ski trip this weekend.
Me, I’m invited up to Karoline’s cabin in a few weeks. Until then, I’ll just have to make the most out of what Oslo has to offer. And try not fall too deep into hibernation.
Tell me, do you feel you make the most of the seasons?
You live like this, sheltered, in a delicate world, and you believe you are living. Then you read a book… or you take a trip… and you discover that you are not living, that you are hibernating.
The symptoms of hibernating are easily detectable: first, restlessness. The second symptom (when hibernating becomes dangerous and might degenerate into death): absence of pleasure. That is all.
It appears like an innocuous illness. Monotony, boredom, death. Millions live like this (or die like this) without knowing it. They work in offices. They drive a car. They picnic with their families. They raise children. And then some shock treatment takes place, a person, a book, a song, and it awakens them and saves them from death.
From The Diary of Anaïs Nin: 1931-1934
Remember to THINK before you speak:
T: is it True ?
H: is it Helpful ?
I: is it Inspiring ?
N: is it Necessary ?
K: is it Kind ?
* A modern version of a quote by Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Indian Spiritual Leader born in 1926: Before you speak, think: Is it necessary? Is it true? Is it kind? Will it hurt anyone? Will it improve on the silence?
I slept fifteen hours yesterday and still today I was a little out of sync’. Maybe I’m catching a cold, maybe I still haven’t recovered from the annual Nordic Choice Winter Conference in Stockholm last weekend.
VK isn’t your average conference. But then again, Petter A. Stordalen, owner and chairman of Choice Hotels Scandinavia, isn’t your average leader.
That he appears on stage to flashing fireworks, blasting party music and sprinkling confetti doesn’t shock the 2300 management teams and co-workers that have gathered at Hovet, next to the Globe Arena. That he holds an hour long almost religious revival speech in true Nordic Choice spirit; with energy, guts and enthusiasm is to be expected. Not even the fact that he launches a “VK on tour” – a mini conference crew in a party bus, going to the major cities in Sweden and Stockholm, surprises anyone.
Nordic Choice Hotels has a business culture that is open, progressive, engaged and personal.
And I think much of the core values and guide lines for the hotels are transmitted during VK. When Petter Stordalen highlights single co-workers out of the 10 000 staff members, speaking about their accomplishments, underlining that his fortune (of at least $1 Billion) isn’t his, but the fruit that each of the Nordic Choice Hotels bears, and expressing over and over again how proud he is of everyone, it creates a team spirit that other companies only dream of. A whole evening is set aside for awards, ranging from the hotel that has done most for the corporate social responsibility project WeCare, to the Employee of the Year.
I represented the employee from my hotel, Clarion Collection Hotel Savoy, which was a great honour and I felt very excited and fortunate that I got to join my General Manager and Hotel Manager to the event and see for myself what everyone had been talking about.
We arrived on Saturday and checked in to one of the three hotels that had been booked entirely for Nordic Choice Hotel staff. We had dinner at an Italian restaurant and got into the mood of the weekend with some wine and drinks.
In my case, a lot of drinks, because I wanted to seize the opportunity to meet up with my old room mate Micke and his friend, so we went to Skrapan Sky Bar and finished off the night with quite a few drinks in the hotel bar.
The next day the conference began at Hovet, with different lecturers, talk shows and performances. The one that inspired me the most was definitely Mike Walsh CEO of the innovation research agency Tomorrow and author of the best-selling book Futuretainment.
For a fast-paced, full-on 1,5 hours he let us in on the future realization of technology and advised us that companies willing to fill in the knowledge gap with anthropologists and the ones that pay attention to the behavior of the next generation of children and consumers are the ones that will be successful, because when it comes to the future, it is a matter of change, happening today.
Here’s a good intro to Mike Walsh:
That evening there was huge party at the Clarion Hotel Sign, offering a delicious buffet, dance lessons with TV-star Tony Irving, great live acts and the best floor fillers until late. I mingled around with many of the people I know in Oslo, like my colleague Elin and room mate Charlotte and our friends from other Clarion Collection Hotels, but I also met some new, fun people.
The next day, the conference started at 8 a.m, and just like the day before it was packed with interesting information and inspiration.
The theme for this year’s conference was Face 2 Face: face to face with reality; the challenges of today, face to face with the future; cultural changes, travel patterns, future technology, and face to face with our dreams and fears.
And on the subject of the latter, professional free-skier and base-jumper Karina Hollekim, offered a very inspiring perspective on dreams. In kindergarten, when asked what her dream was, she said flying, to be able to feel free as a bird. Her teacher told her she should choose something more realistic. But Karina fulfilled her dream in base jumping and was on top of her world, when she suffered a terrible accident that confronted her with her biggest fear. She had hit the ground at over 100 km/h (60 mph), and her legs had been crushed in 25 pieces. She miraculously survived but the doctors told her she would never be able to walk again. And that’s when the real struggle began. To get up in the morning when it felt pointless, to hold on to the dream that she would be able not only to walk, but to be back skiing. It took her almost four years but she succeeded. So, she concluded: don’t let anyone tell you what is more realistic; flying or walking.
VK 2012 ended in the Globe, with a huge banquet dinner and award ceremony and lots and lots of great entertainment. I had a fantastic time with my friends and colleagues and wasn’t back at the hotel room until 4.30 in the morning.
Before talking our flight back to Oslo on Tuesday, me, Elin and Pernille from Savoy, took a stroll around Stockholm with lunch in the Old Town.
Now, we’re back in business.
Only, with more energy, guts and enthusiasm!