Equal Rights for Elves!

Here is your chance to first hand information on how elves see us and our world. Enjoy!

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Today I want to introduce you to Addi. Addi is an elf and lives both on Kopavogur Álfahóll near Reykjavík in Iceland and in an elf dimension. He is so happy that he can share his views in this blog-article.

“Hey, my name is Addi and I belong to what you call Huldufólk. Finally I get the chance to speak to you. Thank you Inge for giving me a voice here!

We demand equal rights for elves!

We don´t understand why you trampling humans keep on moving big chunks of earth around to create flat and angular surfaces that are very unnatural and simply hideous. You level our homes and fill our beautiful ponds! Are you aware of the damage you do and how much energy it takes to stop your machines? We are not happy even if we do have fun playing with your equipment.

(There are lots of stories of construction machines having sudden unexplainable failures in the vicinity of elf dwellings.)

It would be great if you could stop the box building nonsense and show a little more respect for our places and homes. We need to be equally seen and talked to!

It is not difficult to speak with us, it is just different from what you are used to. You only have to widen your awareness a bit to be able to communicate with us. Your eyes are perfectly fine and you only need to alter the way you engage your adult brains a little.

Feenkirche

Open your eyes and ears

Most children can see us. It is a shame that a lot of grown-ups have forgotten how to perceive us.

Why would anybody want to limit himself so severely and cut himself off from such a big part of their reality?

There are some of you who do make an effort. But they are not taken seriously and laughed at even though they could teach you something. I dare you to be a little more open-minded and I assure you it does not hurt at all. It might even open your mind for new possibilities.

Multiple dimensions intersect in Iceland and the veils between them are very thin. This enables us to live in more than one place. Sadly you do not recognise how much work we put into that.

I don´t understand why grown people are scared and run away when they do see us. We are no danger to anyone. I assure you that this is going to happen more often now.  The veils between the dimensions are thinning and we are working on making it easier for you to notice us.

Remember your playfulness

You need not be afraid; we love to play and creat fun things. Something many of you seem to have forgotten. This is such a shame. What else do you believe your life is there for?

We love Iceland as many of you do: People yearn for the clear crisp air and open landscape. They cannot pinpoint it but they feel drawn to the promise of new possibilities and adventures because they can connect with a part of themselves that they seem to have long forgotten.

But you can meet us everywhere should you want to connect with us. You can find us in your favourite places in nature, for example. Just sit down and connect with us in consciousness, we will listen to you. Wouldn´t this be fun?

We can offer you another way of seeing the world: Through the eyes of us elves. Together we could figure out ways to express equal rights for everything that is. We can show you ways to help heal your earth, which is in desperate need of help. We are all part of the bigger picture and we can all contribute.

Wake up!

Lets start to really get to know each other! Give equal rights to everything that is around you and we will all flourish!”

Thank you Addi for your open words.

It has become normal for me to have elves zipping around my home and garden. They simply are part of our lives. But okay, I am a key figure in the Fairy Tale Dimension after all.

Dear reader: Where is the place you can best connect with elves?

Godafoss

Ég hlakka til þess að heimsækja undurfagra Ísland aftur.

(Translation: I am looking forward to visiting beautiful Iceland again.)

 

Pictures: Private

© Inge Schumacher

 

 

Sleep Better after an Energetic House Cleaning

My expertise is working with the invisible. I am very good at identifying causes of blockages and standstill in people´s lives and supporting them in getting back into their flow.

My energy work also includes energetic house cleaning and it still amazes me what a big difference this can make in the life of my clients: The have more energy and less conflicts as well as much better sleep.

(You can read this article in German here.)

Every place on earth has a unique energy

Places that draw some people to them turn others away. There are locations we feel comfortable in; these places resonate with us. In others we feel easily exhausted without finding any obvious reasons.

Places of Power have especially high levels of positive energy. Some of the sites best known for their high energy levels are the pyramids in Egypt, Stonehenge in the UK or Ayers Rock in Australia.

How can the energies in our environment affect our sleep?

Many people react sensitively to specific energies in their environment. When we sleep badly or feel unwell an energetic cleaning of the apartment, house and property can make a big difference. My job is to identify the irritating energies, calm them and harmonise them. Here I share some of the reasons that can cause us to feel uncomfortable in our home or workplace:

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1. Geobiological Stress

Geobiology describes the influence of the earth on living beings.

1.1 Water veins

Water veins are part of our groundwater system. They are a frequent cause of geobiological stress. A lot of people react with disturbed sleep when they sleep right on one of these veins. Even water that flows in a depth of 1,000 meters can have an impact on the people living above.

1.2 Earth fissures

The earth is always in motion. In Germany we live in the middle of the Eurasian continental plate with no active volcanoes around. In spite of this we register a few hundred minor earthquakes every year. Worldwide there are a few hundred earthquakes a day. We don´t feel them but sensitive seismological instruments record them.

Every earth movement changes the energy flowing through the crust of the earth. These small earthquakes occur everywhere. They are the results of small movements of our earth always aiming for balance. They create new small earth fissures and cause a different flow of energy. Pets, especially cats, like to rest right on these fissures. When other disturbances like water veins add to this more people are affected.

1.3 Hartman Net

The Hartmann net is probably the best-known grid. It is named after the German Dr Ernst Hartmann who described this net first. It consists of naturally occurring energy lines running North-South and East-West all over the earth with 2 to 4 meters in-between. Alternate lines are positively and negatively charged. The intersections of these lines can be a source of energetic disturbances when they cross other nets or water veins.

1.4 Curry Grid

Dr Manfred Curry discovered diagonal energy lines in the earth (Northeast-Southwest and Northwest-Southeast). The strength of the Curry Grid varies with the lunar cycle and is felt more at night than during the day. Sensitive people react to intersections of Curry lines with other grids with sleeping problems.

2. Other energetic stress sources

Besides energies originating from the earth and its movements there are others that people can react sensitive to:

2.1 Nature spirits and elves

During an energy cleaning I often find entities that have strong connections to nature or to the inhabitants of the homes I work in. Here are three examples:

2.1.1 Earth spirits

Visiting a client with a green thumb I discovered an earth spirit in one of the rooms. Many of these beings live in her garden and one had paid a visit in the house. I always check what kind of energy these entities have. In this case the energy of the earth spirit felt good to my client and me and we left it where it was.

2.1.2 Elves and fairies

In children´s rooms I often meet diverse beings children love to play with. They naturally attract them. Often these beings visit from the Fairy Tale Dimension, which is one of the main subjects of this blog. After we visited Iceland one of my daughters hosted a whole bunch of elves in her room. Elves have a very playful energy and love untidy rooms. You can imagine what her room looked like!

Most of the time these beings have positive energies and I let my clients decide whether they want to continue to share their roof with them or not. I only advise to send them away when their energy is irritating.

Example

Once I was called to an old lady. She could not sleep anymore because her bed shook every night. I thought that she was exaggerating. When I was on-site I realised that these creatures scared the hell out of the poor woman. She was living alone and felt very lonely which was picked up by the beings, who just wanted to keep her company. Because she did not react, they made themselves known quite fiercely. I communicated with these beings and explained to them how much terror they caused. Henceforth they were much quieter.

You can read all about it here: The story of the little green people

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2.1.3 Close friends and relatives

Other visitors that I find during energy cleansings are dead relatives or people who had close relationships with the inhabitants of a house. They use this occasion to make themselves known and leave a loving greeting.

When my children were small my dead grandmother was there often. She was so present that I could sometimes see her out of the corners of my eyes. Although they never met her, my children recognised her from a photo. I felt very loved and protected having her around.

2.2 Energy legacies 

In many houses I discover energy heirlooms of previous inhabitants. I have even found irritating residual people-energies in a newly built building.

It is no accident that we like to clean our new home thoroughly before we move in. That way we get rid of strange energies as well as the visible dust and dirt.

Especially in rooms that are used by many people, e.g. practises, it is wise to do an energy cleansing regularly. It does not matter which method you use. A lot of people successfully employ salt or incense for example.

2.3 Historical energies

Places where many people died or were executed often still show residual energies of these events. I live north of Hamburg and have repeatedly found energies from the 30 Years War (1618-1648) there. A lot of harm was caused at the time not only by battles but also by marauding soldiers. I cannot imagine how cruel these times must have been.

2.4 Electromagnetic radiation

Electronic devices have electromagnetic fields and emanate radiation. In Germany we have official limits and directives for the allowed strength of these electromagnetic fields.

Even though this radiation does not hurt our body some people react to it: They are sensitive. When I cleanse a house energetically I routinely clear all radiation sources from sockets to Wifi-routers.

There is a whole industry that is specialised in the protection of this radiation. You can spend a lot of money on expensive gadgets that, in my experience, are not necessary. I don´t mind, if people feel better using these products and don´t overspend.

3. How I work

I have learned how to do energetic cleaning in 2007 during my training to be an energy healer. Since then I have acquired lots of practical knowledge in this area.

I do the energy cleansing on-site. The time I need and therefore the fees depend on the size of the property and my travel times.

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I work with a tensor that works like a pendulum. It helps me to identify irritating energy fields. I walk through each room and investigate thoroughly every nook and cranny including the basement, the attic and the garden.

An Example

In a 200-year-old house a client has always been feeling cold and uncomfortable in one room. I discovered that in this room a child had died a long time ago from a grave illness. The pain and hurt of the family I could still sense after all this time. I sent the family´s energies back to where they belonged and harmonised and healed it. After finishing cleansing the house we revisited the room and it felt much brighter.

My Approach

The wellbeing of the inhabitants is always my main objective. First I gather information about the situation:

  • How is the health of the inhabitants?
  • Is there anything out of the ordinary?
  • How is the quality of their sleep?
  • What is the history of the house?

Then I walk through each room and scan carefully for energies that don´t belong there.  I harmonise these energies and leave a vibrant and healthy home.

I give you as much information as you want throughout the cleaning process and I appreciate your active participation. I plan 2 hours for a normal sized house and garden. You also get tips on how to maintain the clean condition of your home or workplace.

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4. Trust yourself

People who consult with me are aware that they have a problem I can help them with. Most clients have either been searching for a solution for long-term sleeping problems or are have just moved house: Recurring nightmares or a tendency to delay going to bed can be indicators that something is off about the sleep environment.

Others sense that something just doesn´t feel right. When there is trouble with the neighbours it can also be a good idea to look at the energy situation.

Trust your intuition and your perception! When you have the impression that something is not okay you are correct.

My method is not the only effective way to get rid of irritating energies. I have seen lasting protection from water veins when people have worked with Reiki, for example. Just be sure to choose a method that you feel comfortable with.

Everybody should have a harmonious environment to sleep in and thereby have more energy during the day.

Should you want use my expertise for energy cleansing when you don´t live in the vicinity of Hamburg it might be a good idea to get together with other people and share my travel expenses. I also work abroad when my schedule permits it.

Contact me about your personal situation! I offer you a half hour phone consultation free of charge.

 

Pictures: Pixabay and Private

© Inge Schumacher

 

Christmas fairy tale of Iceland: The Yule Lads

A big portion of my Christmas decorations consists of Santa Clauses. I have a very strong connection to the country of the Santa Clauses in the Fairy Tale Dimension and that explains why I am such a big fan of the red and white clad figures. I am not the only fan of this country. Thousands of movies, books and songs about Santas attest to the love for this fairy tale country we have. The Santa country is one of the biggest and most divers fairy tale countries in the Fairy Tale Dimension. Hundreds of different Santa Claus stories are played there.

The Christian Santa Claus

A lot of different pagan rituals and stories around the winter solstice were absorbed by Christianity over the centuries. The Christian Santa figure got his name from Saint Nicholas, He lived in the Roman Empire in the fourth century and he was a bishop who was famous for his miracles. Originally from a wealthy family he distributed his wealth to the poor. He set the example and sharing and helping that have been a big part of our Christian Christmas traditions ever since.

The Santas living in the fairy tale dimension are not always the benevolent present distributors I am so fond of. Today I want to introduce you to some pretty scary Santas who are trolls. They are part of the Iceland Christmas traditions.

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Life in Iceland used to be very hard

Until the twentieth century life in Iceland was very harsh and the people were very poor. The hundreds of years old Icelandic sagas mirror the adverse environment in which Icelanders had to fight hard for survival. Only a limited variety of food grew in the cold climate and people relied mainly on fish and sheep for food. Hunger was common.

Perhaps because of this history Iceland has the most hair-raising Christmas creatures I have heard of. The Icelandic Santa Clause family: The Yule Lads (jólasveinar in Icelandic) and their parents.

The 13 Icelandic Santas are living in a family

According to different legends The Icelandic Yule Lads live either in the highlands in the middle of Iceland or in the Dimmuborgir region in the north near lake Mývatn with their troll parents Grýla and Leppalúði and their pet-beast the Christmas Cat. There are historical records of up to 70 Yule Lads, but only 13 Yule lads have survived until today. Even though they are not as bad as their parents, they have very bad manners. Considering who raised them this is no wonder.

The parents of Yule Lads in Iceland 

Grýla – the mother – is a big troll. She looks rather intimidating and is reported to have a tail and multiple heads. As trolls are often cannibals she likes human meat and hunts for misbehaving children in the Christmas season, whom she cooks in a large pot to make stew. There seems to be no shortage of food because she is always depicted as being very well nourished.

Leppalúði is Gryla´s third husband and the father of the 13 Yule lads. He is said to be a quite useless chap. This dumb skinny troll does whatever Grýla commands him to do. He helps her to catch naughty kids for her stew and carries them home in his big sack.

The Christmas Cat

As if the parents are not frightful enough, there is also the scary Christmas Cat (Jólakötturinn) to evade during the Christmas season. This giant black cat shares Grýla´s taste for humans. She is rumoured to devour everybody who does not receive a new piece of clothing before Christmas. So if you don’t want your loved ones to be eaten by this giant troll cat, you better give them at least a pair of new socks or a scarf. 

In 1932 Jóhannes úr Kötlum wrote the still popular poetry book about the Yule Lads. There he gives descriptions of each of the 13 Christmas trolls and describes their comings and goings. Some Icelanders still know it by heart. Hallberg Hallmundsson translated this long poem in English.

The Christmas Season in Iceland

The Icelandic Christmas season lasts for 26 days, from the 11th of December until the 6th of January. It starts when the first Yule Lad arrives 13 days before Christmas Eve and finishes when the last one of them leaves on the 6th of January. They arrive singly until Christmas Eve and then leave in the same order starting on Christmas Day one by one to head home again not to be seen until next season.

The 13 Yule Lads of Iceland

The Icelandic troll Santa Clauses get their peculiar names after their individual characteristics. They are skinny because they are always hungry. Their mother  does not seem to feed them well. These guys are troublemakers who steal food and play tricks on people. This is why the Icelanders have to look well after their food during the Christmas season.

Besides being a nuisance and stealing food the Yule Lads are also ugly and pretty stupid. Here are the descriptions of each Yule Lad in order of the night he visits:

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Illustration by Hugleikur Dagsson

1. Sheep-Cote Clod (Stekkjarstaur)

He has two wooden legs, which make him slow to move. He likes to harass the sheep that have been brought in for the winter. In Icelandic farms the barn used to be part of the house so that the sheep running around in panic could easily be heard.

2. Gully-Gawk (Giljagaur)

He hides in gullies looking for a chance to steal milk from the cows when the farmers do not pay attention.

3. Stubby (Stúfur)

As his name suggests he is very short. He tries to steal pans that have food dried on them because he loves to eat the crusts.

4. Spoon-Licker (Þvörusleikir)

He is abnormally tall and thin as a rake because he is only eating by licking spoons clean. He prefers the long-handled ones that are used for stirring in big pots.

5. Pot-Scraper (Pottaskefill)

steals pots to eat the leftovers. To get to the pots he likes to trick children to make them think that someone is at the door and when they run to see who it is he sneaks in and snatches the pots.

6. Bowl-Licker (Askasleikir)

When the Bowl-Licker is in the house you can find him lurking under the bed. There he waits until somebody puts a bowl with food on the floor, which was happening a lot in the old days because beds were also used as chairs and there were not many tables. Then he reaches out from under the bed, steals the bowl and eats everything in it.

7. Door-Slammer (Hurðaskellir)

is a really annoying lad. True to his name he likes slamming doors loudly, preferably at night. When you have just drifted off to sleep he wakes you up with slamming another door.

8. Skyr-Gobbler (Skyrgármur)

When he has been visiting you can easily tell because he leaves his finger marks all over the skyr. He is also a very messy eater so that you have to clean up a lot after him. Skyr is a delicious Icelandic dairy product. Everybody tries to copy it nowadays but in my opinion nobody succeeds in making it taste as good as the Icelanders do.

9. Sausage –Swiper (Bjúgnakrækir)

He hides in the rafts under the roof and raids food from sitting up on a crossbeam. At the first chance he gets he snatches and gobbles up every sausage he can find.

10. Window-Peeper (Gluggagægir)

He is one of the more creepy Yule lads. With his enormous eyes he peers through the windows and steals everything he can see and get his hands on. This makes him perhaps the worst thief of the group.

11. Doorway-Sniffer (Gáttaþefur)

With his huge nose he can make out delicious Christmas treats from far away. He sneaks around outside of Icelandic houses and hopes that someone forgets to close the door so he can get inside to steal the food.

12. Meet-Hook (Ketkrókur)

This Yule lad steals meat by lowering a hook through the chimney. He uses the hook to grab smoked meat that is hanging from the rafts. Luckily his hook is often too short to reach everything.

13. Candle-Stealer (Kertasníkir)

He sneaks up on the children who run around the farm at night with their tallow lights to steal them. These candles were made of fat and he did not want them because of their light but to eat them.

When Christmas is finally there

the Icelandic farmers have a lot of their food stolen and are probably hungry. They are also tired from waking up several times a night, spooked because of strange sounds coming from the doors, sheep pens, the roof or the stables. They wonder why they cannot find any candles. Still they are lucky not to have been eaten by either Grýla or her cat.

You see that the Christmas season in Iceland used to be a very scary part of the year. The sun only managed to creep over the horizon for about 4 hours and people imagined all kinds of ghosts lurking outside.

Only ghosts were said to knock on doors at night. In the old days if a visitor came in the dark he went to the window and said: Here is God (Hér sé guð) to distinguish himself from the dangerous beings lurking outside.

The Icelandic Santa Clauses today

The fairy tale of the 13 Icelandic Yule lads, their parents and pet makes me glad that I grew up with stories of benevolent fat red clad Santa Clauses. I feel sorry for the Icelandic children who have been raised with tales of these intimidating dangerous creatures over the centuries.

The old stories are still very much alive today in Iceland and you can meet Icelandic Yule Lads at Christmas parties, in schools and pre-schools. Nowadays these lads have softened up though. The Icelandic Santas have even started to leave presents for children in their shoes if they put them in the windows.

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How do you feel about the Icelandic Yule Lads? What kind of Santa Clause is your favourite? Please share!

 

Pictures: private and Hugleikur Dagsson

© Inge Schumacher

 

 

 

 

 

My 6 tips for a relaxed Christmas

Christmas is not for wimps.

At no other time of the year expectations are so high and are disappointed so easily. Media and advertisements dazzle us with pictures of peace and bliss: In soft candle light a big family is sitting happily around a big table and exchanges gifts that everybody is crazy about. (You can read this article in German here.)

Even though I am very much aware of these manipulations I still catch myself succumbing to them.

How plausible is it that a big group of people, who don´t meet very often will understand each other blindly?

Reality-Check: Are you clear about your expectations for Christmas?

My own experiences

When I was a child there was always stress and conflict on Christmas. My mother, left alone with all the preparations was totally exhausted by Christmas Eve. My father did not feel responsible for either household chores or Christmas arrangements.

We 4 kids were so excited that we were probably quite a handful. I was the oldest and I felt responsible for keeping the peace, which was more than I could handle, of course. This was probably the reason for my growing apprehension. When I moved out I avoided spending Christmas at home.

Since then I have been working on making Christmas less stressful for me.

I have known my husband for almost 30 years now and we have had children for 18 years. This means that I had lots of time to practise. It was a long learning process.

Here I share 6 tips for a more tranquil Christmas:

1. Be mindful in the pre-Christmas period

It is not a good idea to exhaust yourself by the Christmas preparations. When I have a busy work schedule I bake less Christmas cookies and our house is less orderly. Every year I used to pack 24 little gifts for the advent calendar of my three children. This year we agreed on pre-manufactured ones and this saved lots of time and energy.

I also cut back on volunteering in December. I do not stop everything, but I don´t feel responsible for baking at the school any more, for example. I see this as a good investment for me in a more relaxed Christmas season.

2. Less presents can be a good idea

I have very good experiences with cutting back on presents for friends and my extended family. The adults in our families – my husband and I have 3 siblings – have been skipping presents for a long time. Before we had children we rented a house in Denmark instead, which was very relaxing.

Since I don´t like to go shopping I have a list with ideas for Christmas presents that I add to during the year. Last minute Christmas shopping is nothing for me and I try to avoid that.

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Last year working on several Advent wreaths.

3. Communication, communication, communication

The most important thing for me is to get to know the individual expectations of everybody who participates in my Christmas: Children, parents, grandparents, siblings or friends.

Who expects what and which expectations do we want to meet? It is not as easy as one might think to uncover the true expectations of everybody involved. Often you will get vague answers: “Oh, you know…” but this is not helpful. To express oneself clearly helps both the listener and the talker.

When people don´t communicate openly and say: “I am okay with everything” even though this is not true, there will be problems. My mother-in-law always had a hard time to clearly state her wishes and this way she was sometimes disappointed.

Achieving transparency about the individual expectations is a process that takes time. But it is very much worth it. In my experience the more transparency we generate the less conflicts we have at Christmas.

4. Reflection

When we have children it is particularly important to be as clear as possible about our own wishes. Here are some questions that can help:

  • Which values do we have and which ones do we want to live?
  • What are our goals this Christmas and what do we want to avoid?
  • What did we enjoy in previous years and what do we want to repeat?
  • What are Christmas rituals that are important to us and do they still fit?
  • Set clear priorities: What is most important for us? (For me it is stress-reduction.)

Recognising and getting rid of obsolete automatisms

Especially at Christmas time we tend to stick to traditions because we somehow feel as if our Christmas would die when we change something. This is nonsense of course; there are much more possibilities than we are aware of.

In Germany we have a Christmas tradition to eat goose on Christmas day. Just like the Thanksgiving turkey in the States the preparations are time-consuming. Luckily there are alternatives to cooking your own goose now: They can either eat out or order goose-to-go.

To have creative ideas and new solutions we have to be open for new possibilities. We need to be aware that we are running on autopilot mode even more at Christmas time than on other occasions.

When I am feeling stressed about something I do creative sessions with my husband where we evaluate alternative ways to reach my goal together.

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5. Planning

My Christmas holidays profit from structure. The more persons are involved the more a plan can help. This plan should include lots of free spaces and breathing room to prevent pressure building up because of a tight schedule.

Free space in the Christmas plan is most important.

How detailed you plan for the holidays depends on you. Here are some ideas:

  • Prepare a rough approximate timetable (make sure to include enough breathing space).
  • Create a general overview: Who is where when?
  • Make a meal-plan: Who is responsible for what and what can be prepared ahead of time? This food-plan relaxes me a lot.
  • Include time for individual or joint breaks: Watch a film, go for a walk or play together.

I have learned that Christmas is not the right time for experiments. Things we are used to doing feel comfortable to us. Playing board games when you never do this is not a good idea.

Children need breathing room

Small children have short attention spans and cannot occupy themselves for a long time. I advise against planning an elaborate meal that gives children too little space. When my children are happy and relaxed, so am I.

Big children can be included in the preparations and take responsibility for some chores. My children even enjoy to help at Christmas time, probably because they don´t enjoy a stressed-out mother! For me as the head planner it is important to be as clear as possible when delegating.

6. You are responsible for yourself

Everybody is responsible for creating the conditions they feel well in. It is not possible to delegate this. This is especially true at Christmas time where people tend to create extremes more easily and may suddenly find themselves in explosive situations.

My kids often realise before I do when I start to get agitated and ask me: What is the matter, Mom? I am thankful for this warning that enables me to become aware and react.

What is good for you at Christmas time?

  • When you need a time-out it is okay to skip Christmas altogether.
  • Dare to change old structures when they are a burden for you.
  • Include family and participants early on in the Christmas preparations. Beware that you have to live with other people doing stuff differently from you, which is a good exercise in acceptance.
  • Do you really have to invite relatives who are annoying just because they are family?
  • Very important: You are not responsible for what others think of you.

When the situation is escalating:

  • Get help bringing down your stress level.
  • Note your stress triggers and get back to them after the holidays.
  • Don´t expect easy Christmas holidays only because you changed some things.

Christmas time is always a good test for me that shows how much progress I have made in my personal development.

My offer for a more relaxed Christmas season:

Especially at Christmastime issues we are working on will pop up. Don´t hesitate to ask for help. I offer special energy-coachings before Christmas.

Pictures: private

© Inge Schumacher

 Book-tip: Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg

 

Leadership in Times of Transformation

We live in volatile times and cannot accurately predict what will happen next.

  • In the near future climate and earth changes and wars might cause more displacements of millions of people
  • The world economy is far from stable: Shaky banks, unstable trade relations and inequality attest to that
  • Old structures are crumbling
  • Authority that used to come automatically with the office is gone: The president of the United States and the CEO of Volkswagen are examples

A buzzword that illustrates the situation very well is VUCA. It is the acronym for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity, which is just a complicated way of saying:

There are too many moving parts

 

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To meet the challenges we face today and in the future we need new ways for coping. The structures that have been working for us so far don´t suffice. We need to make international cooperation more efficient.

We have a good base to build upon

In case of earthquakes or other environmental disasters international rescue teams are able to fly in with only a few hours notice. This is a great accomplishment. I think we should opt for complementing this with informal networks in every country that can call to action people for whatever needs to be done.

To manage this we need responsible leaders

When 1 million refugees came to Germany in 2015 there were no structures that could have coped with this. Millions of individuals taking action made all the difference. I have personally met many responsible leaders in this situation: They saw the need, stepped in and helped. They seemed to come out of nowhere. Nobody told them what to do and how to do it.

We have all the resources we need

The digital age gives us a solid base for international networking. We only have to put our human ingenuity and creativity to good use to master these turbulent times. Sounds easy doesn´t it?

We have great human resources to build on and I am witnessing many people learning and educating themselves to be able to play a responsible part in this.

Balanced personalities

It is our responsibility to take care of ourselves first. People who don´t know how to properly care for themselves cannot take care of others. I believe that only when we take good care of ourselves we are able to develop balanced personalities and bring balance back to this planet.

We are becoming more aware of our interconnectedness

I see this clearly in my clients of all ages: They are actively working on becoming more aware of themselves and they start to see our interconnectedness.

The generation Y is another good example: They are digital natives. Born between 1980 and 2000 they prefer to work in teams rather than in deep hierarchies, they long for more freedom and personal-fulfilment and less for status and prestige. They want to make a contribution that matters.

International cooperation will save us

We are in the age of self-empowerment and cooperation. To manage the many moving parts we need to juggle it is very helpful to cooperate worldwide. More and more people are realising this.

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What skills do responsible leaders need?

I compare responsible leaders with bus drivers because for bus drivers many hard skills we believe to be important are secondary.

They don´t need a university degree or specific professional skills other than knowing how to handle a bus. The people who want to travel to a destination are focused on getting there. They choose a driver they trust. Together the two groups make efficient teams.

Soft skills are essential for responsible leaders

Soft skills are a combination of people skills, social skills and communication skills.

Bus drivers care for the wellbeing of the people they drive. They need soft skills to be good at that. Leading responsibly is all about self-awareness: Responsible leaders lead by example. They go first and don´t dictate what others should do. They demonstrate how something can be done and others will follow.

Characteristics of responsible leaders

The responsible leaders I have met or follow in the media have these characteristics:

  • They are unpretentious: They are not motivated primarily by prestige, fame or status.
  • They are interested in making a contribution that matters.
  • They see the bigger picture and care for the wellbeing of others.
  • They risk exploring new paths thereby creating opportunities for themselves and for others.
  • They are motivated by the problem or the task at hand and don´t necessarily care for long-term commitments. When they reach their goals they search for a new challenge or drop the role of the leader altogether.
  • They walk their talk and thus earn their authority: They are authentic.

In times of turmoil we need leaders who are at peace with themselves

  • They have to be self-confident enough to not be thrown off course easily.
  • They respect and accept themselves and their fellow humans.
  • They see and acknowledge the talents of the people around them and encourage them use them.
  • They inspire cooperation and teamwork.

How to cultivate and develop responsible leaders

We are the examples for the younger generations. The most important thing we need to teach everybody is how to become responsible for themselves and to take care of themselves.

In my workshops and in my practise I see people of all generations working on educating themselves and getting to know themselves better. This is great, because we need more people who are aware of their potentials, who know that they have what it takes to become responsible leaders.

Examples of responsible leaders today

There already are many responsible leaders today. Here are some examples:

  • Jóhannesson, president of Iceland,
  • Pope Francis
  • Khan, founder of the non-profit educational organisation Khan Academy
  • Kayango: The global soap project
  • Check TED talks on Youtube, you can meet more there

One way of supporting responsible leaders is to establish more informal international connections between individuals.

Examples of successful international connections

  • Exchange programs for teenagers and students
  • International work camps for young people all over the world
  • Conferences like the ICSR in Cologne for networking
  • The Panama Papers: International journalists collaborated for years and published simultaneously: A revolution in investigative journalism

The good thing is that we are getting to know and to work with each other worldwide that way.

How we can support responsible leaders

In Germany during the last 3 years we built informal networks involving volunteer organisations, state officials and politics.

In my hometown of Hamburg it took a long time to establish cross-sectional communication across the different government agencies. This is not working perfectly yet, but we have established these networks and we will surely need them again.

We are all responsible for our future

The weight of our future is not only resting on the shoulders of responsible leaders. Quite the contrary:

Responsible leaders are the ones who are stepping in when they see the need. They go first and start driving a bus. Their passengers are the people who support them. They see the need to get to the destination themselves. The drivers set the example and the passengers make their own responsible choices.

We are all in this together. We all are responsible for creating our joint future. Together we can make things happen we would never have thought possible.

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Are you working on taking care of yourself?

To be able to shape a better future together we have to know how to take care of ourselves and accept ourselves first. You think you are already taking good care of yourself? Really? Think again!

Just try to monitor for one day how often you tell yourself that you are stupid for forgetting this, that you are dumb for making that wrong decision. This is not taking care of yourself or acceptance! Believe me, I have been working on this for ages and it still is work in progress. But I have learned that when I accept myself more it is much easier to accept others.

Why is it so hard to accept ourselves? We were brought up to always look at what we lack and what we are deficient at. As a consequence we treat us habitually bad so often that we don´t even realise what we are doing. Only when we become aware of what we are doing we are able to change this.

Not all of us have to be leaders, but the world needs all of us to take responsibility for ourselves. My own experience shows how important it is to be responsible for myself. People who know themselves better are more able to see the bigger picture and make a difference.

Living in a VUCA world

We have to remind ourselves that we are the ones who create our reality. We have to own our authority and be courageous enough to jump into processes with unknown ends. We need more positive pictures of the future to interest more people to involve themselves in the coming transformations.

The situation is going to stay volatile. But panicking is not helping. We can do this. Together we are able to ride the waves of transformation and not get drowned by them. Responsible people and responsible leaders will make the difference. Because:

Everybody can cause considerable rippling effects by being truly himself.

 

Pictures: pixabay and private

© Inge Schumacher

 

Get Started! 8 Exercises for Letting Go

These exercises are part of my blog-article on Letting Go. I put them together for my clients because I value practical tips. Because they are so important to me, I put them in a separate article. You can read this article in German here.

I share here eight exercises of the many good ones I know. I especially like exercises that include the body. This signals our brain that loves to have input from all sides, that we are really getting serious.

Letting Go is clearing up on the inside

We tidy and clean our home to feel comfortable in it. We take care of our body by having a shower regularly. Many people are becoming aware that it is important for their well-being to also take good care of their inner home: By devoting time to this important part of themselves they are getting more familiar with it.

When I realised that my inner home likes to be sorted once in a while I started to do letting go sessions every once in a while. In these sessions I evaluate what I really need and what only takes space and energy that I could use much better elsewhere.

Exercises facilitate change

1. Clarity

An exercise forces you to get to the point. To be really precise can be more difficult than you might think. It is so important to write down precisely what we want to consciously let go. Being precise at the beginning of the letting go process helps to focus. I also found out that writing things down by hand brings greater clarity than tapping on the computer keyboard.

2. Setting the signals on change

With doing an exercise you are signalling to yourself that you are serious. To permanently change a habit you need at least three weeks. It takes that long to convince your whole being that you really want to implement something new. This is why it is so easy to fall back into old habits. So please don´t give up too early!

3. Select an exercise that feels good to you

The exercise that you choose should fit to you. You do not need to do the hardest, longest or most complex exercise. Be creative and vary an exercise to your liking. What matters most is that you set the signs for a new beginning.

4. Define an objective

At the beginning you have ideally put down a goal you want to reach with an exercise. It  helps to decide how often you want to do the exercise and you can better monitor your success.

5. Don´t forget to appreciate yourself

You did it! Party when you have finished with an exercise. Pat yourself on the back! You have deserved a reward. This way you reinforce the positive change you initiated.

Eight letting go exercises

When doing your exercise find a place where you feel comfortable and safe.

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1. Discovering what exactly you want to let go of: Evaluating your habits

  • Write down what your thoughts are busy with often. Everything that we repeat a lot of times becomes more and more important to us. What subjects are your thoughts revolving around most?
  • Why is that so (thoughts, emotions, actions)? Which beliefs are behind this that are consistently reinforced that way?
  • Do these beliefs still fit to you?

2. Being aware of emotions and letting them go

This exercise is for self-awareness. Define as exactly as possible what you want to let go: People, conflicts or beliefs. Now imagine releasing them. Because this is a process you need to repeat this exercise.

  1. In this exercise you watch yourself: What do you feel? How much can you allow? Please don´t go too far. To make this process more tangible please write down the recurring thoughts.
  2. What emotions can you allow? What impulses and automatic responses can you detect that you use to supress these feelings? Can you look at them without judging yourself? When you realise that you are going on a negative spiral stop and start with 1. again. The feelings will get less dramatic over time.
  3. Repetition: Are you able to let the feelings come and go? E-motion is energy in motion. Look at your feelings from a distance. Over time you will get used to releasing feelings more easily.
  4. Now you can manage to observe the emotions you wrote down travelling through you. Be careful not to overwhelm yourself.
  5. The more negative emotions you can let go, the more space you have for positive ones. Fill the space you create with acceptance and love for yourself.
  6. Be thankful for the time and help that you had from the people or beliefs you let go.

3. A letting go ritual: Let a piece of paper fall to the ground

Write down what you want to let go of in only 1 to 3 words. This helps you to be precise. Fold the paper, stand up, open your hand and the paper go. Watch how it is sailing to the ground and monitor your feelings. Please repeat this at least 3 times the same day and on the following days.

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4. The exercise with the ball makes letting go tangible

Hold a small ball not bigger than a tennis ball in your hand. Press it hard until it is really uncomfortable. The ball is the symbol for an emotion, a person, or something else you want to let go. The hand represents you.

Open the hand and let the ball roll around on your palm. It is not part of you and therefore doesn´t stick to your hand. Let it fall to the ground and observe yourself and your feelings. Repeat the exercise.

5. Remove the connection to people, who are not good for you

  • Visualise the connection as a tie.
  • Say thank you for the time you have spent together and say good-bye.
  • Imagine how you are undoing the tie, rolling it up and putting it in your pocket.
  • Repeat the exercise.

6. Forgive yourself and others

  • You cannot change other people but you can change the way you react to them.
  • Write down as exactly as possible what is hurting you and what you keep thinking about.
  • Accept the situation. You know that we all decide at any given moment as best as we can.
  • Affirmation: Say aloud: “I forgive me and I forgive you.”
  • Do a symbolic act: Burn the paper or bury it. (Exercise number 3).

7. Visualisations

  1. Imagine how old issues are getting smaller. Visualise a block of ice melting and becoming liquid. Transfer this to your situation. With this you can now water a plant. What kind of plant is it?
  2. Envision a big untidy knot in a long rope exactly where your problem is. Start to slowly untangle the rope and roll it up. When you have a real ball of tangled yarn at home, great, you can also use that.
  3. Fake it until you make it: Imagine in detail how free you are feeling when you have finished the letting go process. This is a psychological trick that really helps.

Repeat the visualisations.

8. Clearing up

Tidying on the outside is a nice symbol for letting go on the inside. This can feel so liberating! No matter what you put in order: Car, closet, basement, desk or handbag. When I feel the strong impulse to tidy, my inner home is often very much in need of a clearing up session.

Pictures: pixabay and private

© Inge Schumacher

 

Easing the Burden by Letting Go

Sometimes it helps to pause a little and reflect where I am going. What do I carry around with me that I don´t need any more?

I learned that life is much easier when I regularly take some time to make an inventory and tidy up the clutter in my life. This is true for material things as well as for intangibles. I not only create time and freedom this way, but I am also more open for change. (You can read this article in German here.)

1. What do we hold on to?

We carry around a lot of things in our everyday lives that we are not aware of. There are three fields to check for unnecessary burdens:

  • Material things: clothes, mementos
  • People: parents, children, friends
  • Intangibles: responsibilities, guilt, injuries, beliefs

 2. To let go we need calmness and peace of mind

To identify the dead weight I am carrying around with me I need to pause. Only then I can switch off my automatic pilot and get out of the hamster wheel.

a. The hamster-wheel

Often we rush mindlessly through our days. Our body supports us by producing adrenaline and cortisol. This gives us the much-needed energy but it also makes us tense. I call this the hamster-wheel. In the hamster-wheel we are constantly in survival mode. This is efficient if we need maximum power but it is not supposed to be the norm.

Our body does not recognise whether we are really in need to be in survival mode or whether the stress just exists in our mind. He serves us by fabricating the hormones we ask for. If this goes on too long we are out of balance and our body and psyche suffer. In survival mode our body does not have the time or the energy to regenerate or to heal. Our immune system does not have priority.

I am amazed at how long we can stand the hamster-wheel before we finally break down. For me this is one of the main reasons for burnout and depression. We drive ourselves until we are literally paralysed.

drivingSkitterphoto

b. The autopilot

As we become adults the circuits in our brain are firmly established. In our everyday lives we are 95% in automatic mode. This autopilot is a clever institution because it makes our life easier. We don´t have to think about how to set one foot in front of the other in order to walk. When we want to change something in our lives however, we have to switch the autopilot off.

3. Making an inventory

I can only take stock when I am present in the Here and Now. Only here I can identify what still serves me and what I want to let go.

When I keep creating problems and conflicts, it is time for an evaluation.

a. Reasons to let go:

  • Lack of time
  • Discontent
  • No opportunities for development
  • Constraining limitations
  • Searching for new paths
  • Our boundaries are violated too much and we become ill as a consequence
  • The effects of too much holding on: negative feelings, thought-circles, fears, depression, hate and rage

Why do I hold on to many things far too long? Often my family and friends can see much more clearly when it would be good for me to let go of something. What prevents me? Why do we often keep running in the hamster wheel in spite of the fact that we desperately need a break to regenerate?

b. Reasons to hold on:

  • Security and habit
  • Old rules: Loyalty, this is the way things are always done
  • Basically positive things: Love and sympathy

The Christmas example

A client told me about her horror of the next Christmas holidays: She drives with her family with two small kids all over Germany two visit both her parents and her in-laws. Afterwards everybody is exhausted and cranky.

I asked her why she could not change this Christmas routine and invite both parents home. She could not imagine changing the routine because it had always been this way.

4. How can we let go?

I show a comprehensive letting go process here. Of course this process is individual and different for everybody.

First I need to be aware that I want to change something in my life. Then I can decide how I want to go about it. When I know what is superfluous it is often easy. When I am stuck I ask friends and family for help.

The Process of Letting go

  1. Becoming aware: Do I still need this?
  2. Honesty to oneself and to others: Is this good for me, if not why? Since when?
  3. Recognise excuses: Do I ride a dead horse?
  4. Do I hold on because I think that nothing better is coming? Do I do this because of low self-esteem?
  5. Mind games: How would it be without…? I look at my feelings and fears.
  6. Forgive myself: I have made the best decisions I could at the time.
  7. I say thank you for what has served me.
  8. Finding a ritual to help me to let go. For example write what I want to separate from on a piece of paper and burn it.
  9. Get help: I don´t have to do everything on my own.
  10. I give myself time for grieving, healing and establishing new habits.

Fest

a. Letting go is uncomfortable

When I am thinking of letting go I sometimes feel sadness. This is because I am going to say good-bye to something that I am used to and that has worked for me. It is normal when this process is painful.

b. Monitoring the thought-process

I try not to take my mind too seriously when I let go because it loves the safe status quo. My brain is not enthusiastic about me trying new ways. It signals caution: You don´t have to do this. It is okay the way things are at the moment.

c. Letting go of feelings

We hold on to feelings by fighting against them, suppressing them or trying to forcefully change them. It is exhausting to protect oneself constantly from feelings.

Emotions are signals that we give ourselves. We have feelings, but we are not defined by them.

E-motion is energy in motion, Joe Dispenza writes. Emotions are not fixed, they come and go. When we let them they can be gone in 2 minutes. This is hard to believe since we are so used to reconnecting with them all the time and thereby reactivating them again.

d. Letting go of conflicts

I am vulnerable because I have self-limiting beliefs: I can´t do this, I am not good enough. These beliefs build a bridge that makes injuries and violations possible.

I cannot change other people but I can change the way I react to them.

What I can do is to look at my limiting beliefs and work on getting rid of them. At the same time I need to build up my self-esteem. When I have successfully let go of a conflict the other person can rant and rave and this does not touch me any more because the connection is gone. This process is not easy but it is very much worth engaging it.

e. Fake it until you make it

When letting go is hard, I like to use a trick. I imagine that I have already accomplished it. I imagine in detail how free I feel, how great my life is without the thing I want to let go of.

This works like the well-known one-minute-smile-exercise. Our brain does not recognise that the smile is not real. The smiling mouth signals the brain that we are happy and it complies by producing happiness hormones.

5. Letting go eases your burden and enables change

Taking inventory and letting go is easiest for me on holidays because then I am more relaxed. My experiences with letting go in Iceland you can read about here. Being out of my hamster-wheel I have the energy to regenerate and time to get clear what is really important for me. I can let go of the dead weight I am carrying around and change automated habits.

I have let go a lot of rigidity in my daily life lately. Much too long I bore too many responsibilities and tasks. This was exhausting. Some of them I let go after discussing them with my family. This way I could create time pockets for myself. These are mine and I can fill them with my personal priorities: Family, meditation, work or just relaxing.

Be easy on yourself

Try not to overwhelm yourself when embarking on a journey to let go. When you realise that it is going to be difficult reduce your speed. Letting go is a process that sometimes needs time and please give it the time that is needed. This is a good investment in your health and your future.

 

Recommended reading:

Joe Dispenza, Becoming Supernatural 2017

© Inge Schumacher