My year in numbers:
- 9 different jobs/projects.
- 7 festivals
- 2 tours
- 2 different homes
- 1500 km of running
- 2 marathons
- 1 ultra
- 1 deep love
- 1 heartbreak
- 1000 tears
- …and some more tears
- 1000 hugs
- 1000 moments of laughter and feelings of contentment
- 22 podcast episodes
- 6 countries visited
- 5000 spectators
2019… woah man, it’s been a hell of a year. An intense rollercoaster ride of a year. It feels like I’ve gone through the whole spectrum and felt it ALL. But with every encounter, with every moment, with every step I take forward in my life I always end up learning something. The big challenge sometimes when we stumble upon hardship is to not shutdown and close down our hearts. Sometimes it’s the hardest thing when life humbles us with unescapable pain. But my 2019 has also been filled of so many incredible moments and unforgettable memories that will stay on my retina for the rest of my life. I’ve met people that has changed my life’s trajectory and I’m so glad to have established connection with new friends.
But somehow for every year that passes it seems like life just gets better and better, that’s how it’s felt for me as I grow older and hopefully more wiser for each year I travel around the sun. I have felt more grounded, calmer and more at ease with myself on a more regular basis than earlier years. But you know… Sometimes the pendulum can swing back, nothing in this life is for certain.
As I presented in the beginning of this post there’s a lot of numbers, numbers and statistics that has been a foundation in my 2019, let’s break them all down and see what’s happened and what I’ve learned during this year. Maybe I have some wisdom that resonates with you, or maybe this is just pure entertainment for you to read.
This year started where I am currently writing this from: Ängsbacka retreat center in Värmland, Sweden which is also my home now for the coming year. After have had quite a rough fall with lethargy and a void in my life I wanted to spend New Years Eve in a more conscious way than just getting wasted at a flashy part. Since a couple of years back alcohol has been pretty much been non-existent in my life. My friend who had visited the New Years Festival in Ängsbacka the previous year urged me to apply as a volunteer for the festival. And so I did.
For those of you who don’t know Ängsbacka, it’s known for its festival and courses that circles around personal growth and self exploration. It’s also a drug and alcohol free place which fits me very well. I came here with an open mind to see what this place had in store for me. And as the time passed in to 2019 I had found myself in the arms of a beautiful woman and we had our first kiss on the first minute of 2019. My year has been really been characterized by both Ängsbacka and this woman.
I feel head over heels in love and we started a long distance relationship and it felt so good that I wanted to see if this love of ours would fly and take us even higher than where we were. I had plans to keep on working hours for the family business during the summer but when I was back at Ängsbacka again for the Easter Festival there was a soft whisper in my head in that last morning meeting before I left for that time. It said: “You should come for the summer.”
And to my boss (and also brother) dissatisfaction I declined the job that I promised to take on and instead I went to apply as a all summer coordinator in the Site & Safety team. And to my dissatisfaction my request to take on that role I got moved to Housekeeping as the Site & Safety role was already covered. I accepted a bit reluctant and thought: “eh, what the heck”.
And I knew that coming here this summer would indeed be a challenge, but if I’d known how challenging it would be I never would have agreed to even come here this summer…
The love that I thought were more rooted and secure than it actually was came crumbling down. As I wrote earlier I wanted to come to Ängsbacka to see if this love could soar to even greater heights. Well sometimes in life when we dare to take that leap of faith… it doesn’t always pan out the way we thought it would.
You could mildly say that the wings of our love wasn’t a Boeing 747 it was more like the wings of Icarus. It came crashing down with chaos and havoc. Already on the first day in Ängsbacka (june 3rd) it started to slowly but surely deteriorate to a grand demise. But I’m not going to go in to storyland and details of what tore everything apart. It was quite clear that we weren’t on the same page and understanding of what we both wanted from our relationship. I realised that I had held a lot of silent expectations that I thought was understood, but if you don’t communicate that, how will your partner ever know?
So with this failing relationship and having to be at the same place as this person for 7 weeks (if you’ve been to Ängsbacka, you know what I’m talking about) I went through deep sadness and grief. It was interesting to see how something that made you feel so good and in love could throw you just as easily to the other side of the spectrum in the matter of days, hours, even minutes. I’ve never cried so much during my first month here EVER. There was a deep grief in losing what I loved the most. To have to let go of what you hold most dear, to set that person free and let that person live life according to their needs and wants. That’s one of the most hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life so far.
But in order to feel that deep sense of love and connection we must open ourselves up. And with that level of opening up we also must be willing to risk the feeling of getting hurt and rejected. The pendulum swings both ways and we live in this world of duality for a reason. We learn most through these insights of contrast, adversity and resistance.
Giving Acroyoga safety flightinstructions with Saskia in Upper Barn on the first day of Midsummers festival @ Ängsbacka
That was pretty much my summer. What was interesting through this summer was that even though I went through this rough patch I was still doing quite okay, I could still function in other areas of my life even though my area of love was thrown out the window. And I have the community vibe of Ängsbacka to thank for that. There was always a shoulder to cry on, always a pair of ears that listened to my pains and struggles, always a hug to share with somebody else that went through the exact same thing. And that’s one of the magic and beautiful thing here in Ängsbacka.
I loved her, and for me “I love you” has never come easy, as I’ve rarely heard it in my family when I grew up. But I knew from the start that there was something special about her and for me those three words felt natural to express to her. Those words were never returned to me, I don’t know why. And I don’t need to know why, I just know that I fucking gave it my all, truly, and it still didn’t fly. I think that’s one of my greatest lessons learned this year: You can do your best but it doesn’t mean that it will have the desired outcome that you asked for.
That’s fucking life right there. And with giving myself wholeheartedly I couldn’t have done it any other way. I tried my best, but it still didn’t work. And do you know what’s the best thing about giving your all is? That there’s no regrets, because I couldn’t have done it any other way.
Do I regret meeting her? Fuck no! It’s easy to shutdown, blame and shame somebody, hold a grudge and hold on to anger towards somebody who once gave us love and joy in our life. It’s easy to view the relationship through the lens of the last breaking and hurtful moments. When in reality there’s been so much love previously. For 6 months this woman made me feel seen, heard, loved, blessed, happy and inspired through meetings, videochats and beautiful nights spent together. She made me feel special and I know that I made her feel the same. For 6 months I carried tons of love in my chest and most days I found myself smiling because of a simple text or a funny photo.
But I could easily view our relationship through the last stage of our relationship, the break up. How I felt like shit. How I cried myself to sleep. How I felt used. How I felt replaced. How I felt abandoned. How I felt lost. How I felt confused. How I felt alone. But it’s not that. It’s both.
I’m grateful to have met this woman. I’m grateful for the love that was shared. I feel in love with her and then I fell more and more in love with the place she was living at, where I’m writing this from right now, in the white elk barrack in Ängsbacka. Without her I wouldn’t be here. And that’s how life is, we go through it meeting other people, some people affect us more than others and some affects us a huge deal. It’s like all people are a canvas of it’s own and whenever we meet another person we rub our canvases against each other, affect and colour each other for good and bad.
The love for her drawed me to the place where I’m at right now and got me the job that I have now as a co-workleader of housekeeping here at the course and festival center. And it’s the first time I have another full time employer outside of my family business where I was in the beginning of this year. I was working night shift delivering packets and pallets roaming desolated roads listening to podcast and audiobooks. It’s a great contrast to what I’m working with today.
My year has been filled with so many different jobs and projects. The main two has been working as a courier and the other has been here at Ängsbacka. But I’ve also worked as a substitute teacher at a high school, I’ve been on 2 tours, co-hosted 2 yoga retreats, hosted my trailrunning race for the 5th year, launched a website and video series around masculinity and finally started to put out youtube episodes of “The Freeloading Trip” which I did with my good friend Hugo Mattsson 2 years ago.
One of the hardest of these things was being a substitute teacher. And it was quite funny how I got that job. I was contacted by the school to come and lecture and talk about my history with anxiety and mental issues and got asked to work for the school and fill in for a teacher that had resigned. And I thought to myself: “How hard could it be?” Turns out it was more challenging and demanding of me than I thought. Before some classes I was quite nervous and intrigued by how the position made me feel. How I felt like a fraud and that I didn’t know enough to teach the kids anything. I wanted everybody to pass my class but realised quickly that it would be an impossible mission. My biggest lesson learnt from the teacher experience is this: Even though you have the best of intentions and give your all, the person on the receiving end might not even want to grab your helping hand. You can never help or change someone who doesn’t want help or change.
The lecture that got me the job as a substitute teacher @ Birger Sjöberg Gymnasiet, Vänersborg. February 2019.
Almost half of the students in my class failed and I don’t blame them, it was quite a boring subject that I got to teach and maybe I wasn’t the best teacher either…
This year I’ve also had the privilege to come back to Asa Herrgård in Småland to co-host yoga retreats with Sanna Lohm (@black_pearl_of_sweden_).
I’ve also launched a website and videoseries with my friend Eric Lebert Hirvi called www.mansrollen.com. It’s been a fun process of creating it and we’ve been having fantastic conversations on there but this project didn’t really stick. Or maybe it just needs to be tweaked and have a few more adjustments in order for it to become more known and successful. The project is around the topic of men and masculinity and alternative ways of looking at it compared to an old and outdated way of looking at it. It’s definitely something that I want to work more with and I’ve held some men’s circles here at Ängsbacka as well where it’s shows how much men’s work is needed in this day and age. A lot of men are suffering in silence and it hurts me to see that.
Another project that has been launched is “Snyltresan” or how we translate it to English: “The Freeloading Trip”. Finally we’ve gotten time to get a couple of episodes out from the trip that me and Hugo Mattsson (@hugo.mats) did 2 years ago where we traveled from the southernmost part of Sweden to the northest peak without spending a dime. The trip started with us posting our creditcards to our end destination. Much thanks to Hugo we’ve managed to put out 5 episodes so far. He’s doing all the editing while I’m doing the subtitles. The job that he has put in has been amazing and I’m blessed to have him as a friend. Here’s the trailer!
The awesome illustration made by Katja Schreiber for our project.
I’ve also hosted my selfmade trailrunning competition Ragges Runda (www.raggesrunda.se) for the 5th time this year. Compared to last year this was a budget version of last years grand project where I had Looptroop Rockers playing at the afterrun event. It was one of the best day of my life, truly a dream come true to have my favourite band have a gig in my barn at my childhood home. But it was also costly, even though the event itself was a great success, both the competition and the afterrun. The turnup wasn’t what I expected, only half of the people that I estimated to attend to break even showed up resulting in me losing 4000 €. (It took me 8 months to work in that amount.)
That was one of the biggest reason for me to go a bit smaller this year. Instead of preparing almost a year in advance I just put up a FB-event, asked people to donate their desired starting fee and then just see how many would show up. This year 60 people came to run on my grandpas footprints and I was as happy as last year. How many days did I need to put in to make this year work? Around 3, compared to last years months of hard work to get things organized.
And it showed me one thing: Bigger isn’t always better, sometimes things are just as good when made in smaller scale.
This years event showed me that I was just as fine with having a small afterrun bbq with my neighbours as I was having the grandiose afterrun. To be content with what is and the present moment. This mindset save me more mental power and energy and I could enjoy this year even more as it was more relaxed. And I also didn’t go 4000 € in losses.
Interestingly enough with last years event having Looptroop play at my home probably was the thing that landed me the job as selling merch on Promoes tour “The Art Of Losing”. One day he called me up out of the blue a monday in february and asked if I was interested to go on tour with him. Getting that question was surreal, to have one of the most influential artist in my life call you up and ask if you want to tour with them. My answer: Hell yeah. I didn’t care so much about the conditions, just give me food and a bed to sleep on and I’ll be happy.
11 shows in 12 days, Germany, Czech Republic and Switzerland. It was my first time coming along for a music tour and it’s more hard work than you’d think. I thought that there was going to be more time to chill and check out the cities that we were in. But it was more driving 4-5 hours a day, setting up everything, soundcheck, dinner at the venue, showtime, sell merch after the show, pack up, go to hotel, wake up for hotel breakfast and do it all over again.
Me holding a red “Tattoo The City” t-shirt that I just taken off ready to throw it at the crowd during the song “Tattoo The City” in Futurum Bar in Prague, Czech Republic. Together with Promoe and Cosmic on stage 18th of November 2019.
It wasn’t exactly as I expected it to be and that was just perfect. I learnt a lot and just getting the privilege to see Promoes shows was worth it. It was more hectic than expected and a lot of things to keep track of. After the tour I was quite tired and also a bit sick.
And sickness and injury has been a part of my autumn this year. This year I’ve never trained this much running as I’ve done. This is the first year that I’ve been more serious in my approach to running and I’ve been logging everything on Strava. And at the halfway point of 2019 I realised that I might be able to do 2000 km this year. Even though it’s just a number it was something that felt doable and like a good challenge to keep chipping away at…
…but after doing 1 ultra and 1 mountaintrail marathon within 14 days in august my body started to ask for more rest. The ultra (57km) that I did with my good friend and elite runner Julius Strömberg (@tagelgatan) was actually easier than the marathon. We did it unassisted on a day when we both had a gap in our calender. We did a 9-5 working day but on the trails. The trail we did is an old pilgrimage trail that goes through my home county and it was beautiful to do this together as it was my furthest distance so far in my life. With our bags packed with powerbars, water and a good chunk of positivity we enjoyed the trail slowly but surely, had a little lunchstop at the 41 km mark, drank a beer and finished strong. What was most surprising to me was that we could run the next day as well, we did a 13 km recovery run. The body is amazing if you really test its limits.
Me and Julius at the county border between Mellerud and Åmål on the pilgrimage trail through Dalsland, 7th of August 2019.
But after the mountaintrail marathon I started to have problems with a runners knee on my left side. I had to lower the volume big time and slowly give up the goal of making 2000 km by the end of the year. I’ve been smart enough to hold up a little and give the body more stretching and rest instead of pushing and pushing which sometimes can be my default mode.
As I’m coming closer to 2020 I can look in my Strava profile that I’ve reached 1500 km and for me that’s huge. A lot of hours has been put into it this year and I’m proud of my strong body who has carried me so far. Through 1 ultra and 2 marathons. My record months was may and august where I managed to put 250 km under my feet. The farthest distance I did in a week was 92 km.
I’ve taken great inspiration from the book “Born To Run” as I listened to it on Audible for the first time this summer. David Goggins, Rich Roll, Cameron Hanes, Joe Rogan, Mårten “Promoe” Edh, Julius Strömberg has also been names that has inspired me to go harder, longer and faster both in the trails and in life itself. I can highly recommend the books “Can’t Hurt Me” (Goggins) and “Finding Ultra” (Roll) for some good biography inspirations.
I intend to run longer, faster and harder in the coming years, I’m looking forward to to my first 100 mile run but I don’t know when that will happen yet.
Long distance running is a good metaphor for life. It’s not a 10 second 100 m dash it’s a long ass marathon. And it will take you up, down, side to side, and everywhere possible. The only thing we can do is to keep moving forward. To not lose track or hope, no matter how gruesome, painful or hopeless it might feel and get. There will be moments of absolute bliss and joy and there will also be times when we feel down and out, ready to throw in the towel for good but remember: Keep. Fucking. Going.
My tour with Promoe wasn’t the only one this fall. I also toured around Scandinavia with Pathfinder Travels and Banff Mountain Film Festival. I was present at 16 out of the 28 screenings and did Stockholm, Gothenburg, Oslo and Norrköping. If I did a smaller and more anonymous part during the Promoe tour, this tour was completely different. I was the master of ceremony and presented every night and every film and stood in front of roughly 5000 people in total during those 14 shows out of the 16 that I presented. The biggest crowd we had was 4 sold out nights at Draken in Gothenburg that held 700 seats. And yes I was a wee bit tingly when I did the first show there.
Crowd is getting seated for the nights Banff screening. I’m getting ready to present @ Draken, Gothenburg, 23rd of September 2019.
It’s interesting when you do such a tour when no one really knows who I am. People weren’t there to see me, they were there to see the amazing programs and mountaineering movies that we screened. I was just a puzzle piece in the show, the glue and red thread that gets it all wrapped up together. It’s quite relieving to be in that kind of position, especially when you get a kick out of standing on stage like that as I do. But I do want to do more stuff in front of large crowds with my own material one day, it feels like I’m saving up for that material right now with life experience and wisdom. We’ll see what the future will hold.
If you’re reading this you probably already know that I have a podcast that is available on all podcast apps and platforms. What was once called “Biography” is now called “The Robin Hallsten Experience”. I renamed it last year when I did a reboot of it after having almost a year of absence from not doing any episodes at all. I set out this year with an intention to release an episode every week (52 in one year). That plan went well… until I came to Ängsbacka. Life was too interesting for me to just try to sit down, book and schedule new guest and even just sitting down with myself and doing solocasts was a challenge. We’re in December now and if I don’t put out 3 episodes a day til the new year rings in, I’ll fail miserably with that goal that I put up for myself. Am I shedding tears because of not reaching my goal? Nope. It’s always good to set goals for yourself but also be willing to release the expectations and outcomes.
Sure I didn’t do 52, but I managed to put out 22 and that’s not too bad either, at least I got something done. Amongst those episodes I got to talk to one of my favourite artists Fia:
and one of my other favourite episodes this year was with Nico Becker :
Feel free to check them out and what people would you want me to have on in the future?
And whilst we are talking about the future, let’s try and look into what’s ahead… Oh yeah that’s right, life is unpredictable as fuck. I heard a quote this year that resonated deeply with me: “Life is what happens to us when we are busy making plans.”
You could repeat that again.
I didn’t plan to fall in love last new year.
I didn’t plan to get my heart broken.
I didn’t plan to go on tour with Promoe.
I didn’t plan to run 1500 km.
I didn’t plan to change workplace and start with housekeeping.
I didn’t plan to move to a community.
…and I sure did not at all planned that this blog post would become 9 pages long.
… stuff… just… happened and it seems like it keeps happening. Things just unravel and fall into place and in some aspects I think that sometimes things are determined before we have any say in it.
“Maktub” comes to my mind when I write these words. The arabic word that’s mentioned in Paolo Coelho’s book “The Alchemist”. It means something along the lines that everything is already destined and written in the stars, and we have little or no control at all to the external things that comes our way.
The only thing that we can control is our reaction to the things that happens to us.
And that’s why meditation is such a powerful tool for me, to time and time again come back to myself and my breath, to constantly recenter myself.
But if I try to put on the prophethat for a few minutes, where do I see myself heading in the next years, where do I see myself and what do I long for?
For each year that passes it feels like I grow more and more, I become wiser and more grounded. It feels like the more I open myself up to life the more it comes back. And if I stay persistent on my path of becoming the strongest version of myself everyday I hope that things will gradually transform to the better.
I want to work more with people and inspire and plant seeds of hope for people that lives seemingly hopeless lives. I want to show these people that there’s more to life than just pain and anxiety by showing my scars and tribulations I can help others see that there’s other ways of looking at life than being a victim. I want to keep on doing lectures around topics like self improvement, how to deal with anxiety, help other men become stronger and more balanced. I want to become a beacon of light. I want to connect deeper to myself and also find a deeper connection with a woman that’s also on a similar path as I am. I want to co-create with other like minded people and grow as a tribe and community. I want to be more economically free and experience this world through travels, meeting other cultures and languages. I want to be happy, healthy and strong, take care of my body and fuel it properly. I want to work with something meaningful and something that nurtures my soul from the inside out.
… Guess it’s time for me to create a new vision board. Maybe everything already is decided, but I’ll make my best in trying to set my compass in the right direction. And you know what? Everything starts right here, right now. From the place where I’m sitting right now in Ängsbacka. And it’s never too late to start.
How was your 2019? And what do you look forward to in 2020?
If you made it through this whole post, send me a message on FB, IG or email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org and write “persistent savage”.