Hello there! I'm totally chuffed to be welcoming back the Calm Soul Journal interviews. If ever there was a time to glean some wonderful wisdom from these soulful lasses it is now. Calmness and self care is at the top of my list as I continue to navigate the murky waters of grief. So it's with great joy that I introduce you to Greta Solomon, a writer, journalist and so much more. And she has the most amazing smile...enjoy : )
Tell me a bit about yourself?
I’m a writer, author, journalist, PR, mum and expat wife (a Londoner living in Oslo with my Norwegian husband and our daughter). Since 2012, I have run a communications business with a small ‘b’. For me, it’s more about living my mission than becoming the next Richard Branson. I’m also a former vegetarian who would love to be vegan, but eats far too much chicken for that to happen any time soon! 1. What does having a calm soul mean to you?
1. What does having a calm soul mean to you?
Well, one thing I’m working on right now is improving my daughter’s digestion through the use of a healthier diet and probiotics. One day I drew her a picture of a stick figure with a nice round tummy and a smiley face on it. I told her that’s what we want for her – to have a happy tummy.
And I guess that having a calm soul is like that. Feeling in the pit of your stomach that you are happy. You know when you’re not. You know when your gut is telling you that you’re frazzled, burned out, angry or upset. Having a calm soul is a quiet knowing that everything is going to be OK in the end, and if it’s not OK, then it’s not the end.
2. How do you find calm in your everyday life?
They get such a bad press, but I love reading gossip magazines. In fact, I love reading pretty much all women’s magazines. In a typical month, I’ll get through four copies of OK! and New! Plus, Red, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and Psychologies.
Reading a magazine gives me a pocket of time for myself where I can really relax and switch off. And at the same time I can get inspired by new ideas, read the work of talented journalists and see what’s new in the shops.
As a writer, I need time at my desk writing in complete silence, but I also need to be out in the world. So one of my favourite calming things to do is to go to a café to read a magazine and / or write in my journal. Aside from my paid writing work, and the writing I do for my business – being able to write freely and just get all my thoughts out is so important.
I still drink tea, but I cut out coffee last October, and that was one of the best things I’ve done. In hindsight I see just how much coffee made me feel tense and wired. Other than all that, I love listening to Tracy Chapman, especially All That You Have Is Your Soul and The Promise.
3. What happens when you lose your sense of calm?
Physically, I find that my whole body tenses up, and I feel teary – and sometimes like I can’t think straight. I’m a bit of an empath, so if I’m in places where people are super stressed, it’s easy for me to pick up on their turmoil. In that case, I’m also likely to feel drained, or like I want to run to the cupboard to grab something to munch on.
When I married a Norwegian and moved to Oslo, I faced upheaval after upheaval after upheaval, which definitely affected my sense of calm. Within a year, we had met and married and I left London, and a great PR job. I got pregnant less than a year later and started my business at the same time. Four months after my daughter was born, my book Just Write It! was published, but there were lots of things to do before the publication date. I was even doing edits from my hospital bed.
Since becoming an expat, I found the following quote by Anatole France very helpful: “All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves.”
It’s made me realise that despite being happy, and thankful, to have found the love of my life, and to have the child I longed for, it’s OK to feel sad about the people and things I’ve left behind. Luckily, I have a very supportive husband and lovely friends (in Oslo and London) and I make regular trips home.
4. Please can you share any particular calming ritual or process that you have?
If I’m feeling less than calm, then I find that moving my body helps a lot. My favourite thing to do is to walk for at least half an hour. I love to walk through the city – through the life that is happening all around. I need the buzz of the city to swallow up any anguish, as I find the countryside just magnifies it. I’m the kind of person who wants to walk through a busy street, grab a takeaway chai tea and purposefully pound the pavements.
I also like making Spaghetti Bolognese from scratch. Chopping all those vegetables is very therapeutic, as you’re forced to be mindful.
5. What one thing/bit of advice would you recommend to others to create calm in their everyday life?
I recommend carving out a little space to write, and doing journaling, free-writing, object writing – or a mix of all three.
Object writing is a technique I learned nine years ago while studying lyric writing. It was originally invented by Berklee College of Music professor Pat Pattison in order to help songwriters write better lyrics. I love it as it frees you up creatively, which helps you to feel great.
Put simply, it involves taking an object and writing about it using only your seven senses. So, you look at – or imagine – the object and focus on what you can see, hear, touch, taste and smell, the movement of the object and how you feel about it. You then do this in short bursts of 90 seconds, five minutes or 10 minutes.
You have to intensely concentrate while doing object writing which gives a busy mind a rest. Plus, freeing up your creativity in this way can help pave the way for finding solutions to the things that trouble you.
A huge thank you to Greta for this inspiring interview and sharing her wisdom. Greta also writes on her creative personal blog which I can highly recommend, full of poetry, insights and soul.
Greta Solomon is a Journalist turned Public Relations Consultant who lives a curiosity-driven life. She has a psychology degree and has studied life coaching, teaching, lyric writing and acting. Check out her personal, creative blog at www.gretasolomon.com