Do you ever think that some things just happen randomly and turn out to be for a reason? I had one of those moments a couple of weeks ago. For Henning’s 30th birthday, his niece painted a watercolor of their family’s summer house in Mariestad, Sweden. I was at Michaels getting it framed when a woman approached me and started commening on the painting. It turns out that she is Swedish and recognized the style of house right away. We got to chatting and she suggested that I join SWEA, which is an organization for women with the intent of promoting and protecting Swedish language and culture for Swedish women living abroad.
Denver has a local chapter, so I decided to be brave and join. Although I can get by in Swedish (with simple questions/answers) I was not confident that I know enough Swedish to be comfortable among native speakers. I had Henning help my with my application as it was all in Swedish and I had to answer all in Swedish. Now that I look back on it, I think they used the application more as a “get to know you” opportunity than a test.
The first even that I’ve been able to attend was a meeting where they served semlor buns and had a life coach speaker. A semla (semlor is the plural) is a cardamom bun that has it’s top cut off and then is filled with almond paste and whipped cream. The top is then put back on. Traditionally, these buns are eaten throughout Lent. They are not overly sweet, at least not by American standards. I wish we had something similar here as they are quite tasty, but are a fair bit of work to make.
After we had a chance to eat our buns and the other members had a chance to catch up with one another, I had to introduce myself to the group. In Swedish. Needless to say, I was so very nervous! I think it went well for the most part, although there were some gasps/giggles when I said that I learned Swedish because my husband learned English and it’s only fair that I learn Swedish. Everyone was so kind to me and kept complementing my Swedish, but I think some of them were just being nice.
The second half of the meeting was really interesting to me as they got a speaker/life coach who focus on strength based coaching for women. Prior to the talk, she instructed us to take a free strengths assessment. If you’re interested, you can take it here. Everyone who takes the test will get slightly different results. We were instructed to write down our top 3-5 strengths according to the test.
My strengths are Love, Fairness, Leadership, and Kindness. The speaker then went through several of the strengths and helped us understand what that means in our lives. and how we can use those strengths, especially in a business setting. One my my strengths is Love, which is defined here as: You value close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated. The people to whom you feel most close are the same people who feel most close to you. If I were in an interview, I wouldn’t necessarily say that one of my strengths was love, but rather would phrase it as ” I value respect and relationship building”