Powerful absence of presence! Women’s Day Off!

Powerful absence of presence! Women’s Day Off!

On the 24th of October 1975 – 90% of women in Iceland went on a strike.
They wanted to draw attention to the economic importance of women’s work contribution. They wanted same wages for the same work.

Women stopped working and rallied downtown, 25.000 women filled the streets of Reykjavik. Comparable rallies took place around Iceland.

This day has since then been known as “The Women’s Day Off” in Iceland. An act that paralysed the country and opened the eyes of many men who, as a consequence, had to feed their children and take them to work. 

This had a big influence, according to the former  President of Iceland, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir on the fact that five years later, Vigdís a divorced, single mother, became the first democratically elected head of state in the world. 

Vigdís Finnbogadóttir former president of Iceland on the balcony of her home the election day 29th June 1980

Can a man be a president?

Vigdís Finnbogadóttir was the president of Iceland for 16 years or long enough to change the role models of the sexes for the children growing up. When Ólafur Ragnar Grimsson became our next president, children asked; can a man be a president? 

The absence of women in their traditional roles demonstrates clearly the importance of all the parts women play in society. These are often jobs that are regarded as less important. This day was a game changer in our fight for equal rights for men and women, and Iceland has since then been in that highest rank in gender equality. In 2020 the parliament agreed on “Act on Equal Status and Equal Rights Irrespective of Gender” to enforce that even further.

The fact is that the gap in wages between the genders is still 22,8 %
This means that after 15:10 women are giving their work for free.

Our leading ladies

In society we have quite powerful women and women in Iceland have the same opportunities for education and life as men.
At least on the paper. Let’s remember not to take that for granted. It wasn’t always like that. Female Mayors of Reykjavík we can still count on one hand, Auður Auðuns, Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, Steinunn Valdís Óskarsdóttir and Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir.  

We’ve had more than one female Prime Minister, today Katrín Jakobsdóttir, 2009-2012 Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir  the worlds first openly gay Prime Minister. The sitting government has five female Ministers. The last parliament elections almost gave us exact equality of women and men in our parliament.  Until the last minute we even were very close to getting a female  majority which had never happened in history.

The Government of Iceland. Our female Ministers; Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir Minister of Tourism-, Industry and Innovation, Svandís Svavarsdóttir Minister of Health, Katrín Jakobsdóttir Prime Minister, Lilja Alfreðsdóttir Minister of Culture and Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir Minister of Justice.

The world needs to hear the voices of women!

We can see many successful women taking place in powerful positions and that is great. I still meet women in my courses that are fighting, as so many do, with the classical fear of public speaking. The fear of claiming their space, and speaking up, using their authentic voice!

Is it because women have a tendency to need to be perfect in everything they do? They don’t want to open their mouth unless they are really sure that they will not be judged?
Or is it because they want to be professional and one way of being professional is to train your skills to speak to the public. Could the reason be that women have many ages to recap in having a voice in society, the heritage of the generations?

25.000 women stopped working and rallied for equal rights of the genders in Reykjavik. A moment in time nobody forgets that lived it!

Why do we still judge women for their voices and appearance?

Because we do. It is interesting to think about the way we talk about men’s voices and then how we describe the voices of women.
Often connected to the stereotype idea we have about women. Being surprised if a woman has a strong voice.
The most famous example of a woman who achieved a further political career by training her voice, is Mrs.Margaret Thatcher.

Mrs. Thatcher had been criticised for the way she dressed, her teeth and her “shrill” voice.

Mrs. Thatcher, being professional and quite self critical, took action. She had her teeth straightened, got a stylist that built her unique power dressing style and she hired a vocal coach from the National Theatre to work on her voice and speech. 

There we might be looking at the make or break, in the voice training. Mrs Thatcher realised the voice is a magical powerful tool if you put it into practice. You really can hear a huge difference in her voice before and after. The voice has gone from the head into the body.

What is an Authentic Voice?

The voice is a very interesting tool indeed and such a big part of our identity. We really judge people by their voices and that is probably why we are so often afraid to raise it. We think people with powerful voices are strong characters and people with tiny little voices  are judged by their appearance. Can you think of an example in your life? 

Constant fight and flight mode?

I have wondered about women working in “male orientated working places”  like the National Parliament. I often hear people referring to female politicians as an example of how awful female voices can sound.

My theory is (not based on any science, just feeling) that the female politicians are still in such an “unsafe” place, that they mostly act out of the fight and flight mode. Or unconsciously fall into that pit, .

In doing that they lose the body connection with their voice and that is why sometimes their voices can be described as “shrill”.
As  they described Mrs. Margaret Thatcher until she started to train her voice. An embodied voice is an authentic voice.
An authentic voice  is a powerful tool, in life and in politics.

How to build trust with your audience

Ásdís Emilsdóttir Petersen, an Icelandic Anthropologist working on her Masters project on Human Resources Management at The University of Iceland, did an interesting research on the voices of leading politicians.

What Ásdís used for her research were political speeches, from the leaders of all the political parties in Iceland at the time. Sadly there was no woman among them. The aim was to research what kind of voices would build the most trust with their audience. This was only an audio.

Two different groups listened and answered questions about the impact the politicians had on the audience with their speeches.

The result was a bit surprising since the myth is that the deepest voices are the most trustworthy.

But it turned out to be the voices that had the most relaxation in them, or the least of tension and those that spoke fewest word per minute. So if you want to build trust with your audience you speak slowly without tension.

I guess you need a lot of training to be able pull that off on a daily basis, being in politics!

 

When to plant the seed for your vision?

When to plant the seed for your vision?

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

Yesterday we had Autumnal eEquinox (Jafndægur að hausti). “For ancient societies, the autumnal equinox marked the end of summer and the vernal (or spring) equinox marked the end of winter, which helped people track time-sensitive activity, such as when to plant crops. According to the Farmers’ Almanac, the changing colors of the leaves on deciduous trees is actually triggered by the shorter days with reduced amounts of daylight.

I am always fascinated by moments in time carved out by nature. It must be the influence from an ancient DNA in me, leading back to the time when we were in connection with nature and had to listen to it, to find our balance and make our living possible. Harvesting food at the right time, planting seeds at the right time. The same applies to me in so many ways even if I am not planting actual seeds into the earth, it is  about the seed planted in my mind. The seeds of vision of where I  want to grow. What is my vision with this performance? What is my vision about my life, what are my dreams?

During the autumnal equinox, the sun shines directly on the equator, and the northern and southern hemispheres get the same amount of rays.”  Today it is all about balance, looking at the right time to plant the seed. Where would I want to have more balance in my life? In my work and life situation? In my financial situation? In my body? 

GROWING A SENSE OF AWARENESS

Training the voice, the first thing we look at, is awareness. What am I doing now? What good habits would I like to grow to expand my voice, to expand my awareness, to expand in creative communication? We, human beings are a part of nature. Getting in touch with our voice is like discovering our inner landscape. The seed planted through breath, to build your voice, will make you grow, like a plant or a flower. Beautiful in its own right. 

A  plant opening it’s flower buds is what I see in action when I work with people, building their skills in public speaking, to o become better communicators. It is as if I have been watering a flower that comes alive with new force. People have the tendency to withdraw into their body. A natural mechanic defence of the brain, to protect us from danger in all the stimuli of our surroundings. The brain often interprets innocent circumstances as a life threatening danger and turns on the fight and flight response as if we were in immediate danger, facing a lion. 

The fight and flight response is exactly what happens when we are facing our audience, going on stage, giving a presentation, going live online or if we need to speak up and we don’t believe anyone will listen. Our heart starts to beat faster, the breath gets shallow and we feel the voice starting trembling. We all know this feeling. This is where our breath comes to our rescue. With our awareness and physical connection, we can tell the brain that we are safe. By breathing deep down into our body, slowly we tell our body and mind that all is good. We are not facing a lion. The lion is a figment of our mind.  This is why training our skills at public speaking is an inside job on a deep level. Not only physical. We have to go into our subconscious mind and take control of our thoughts. Plant new seeds. New thoughts that don’t limit us. When we do that, we can grow from inside, like a beautiful flower, strong and resilient. When we get into connection with our inner landscape we can feel the balance. We can sense how much tension to use where and when, to support our breath and voice. Where to open the “flower bud” for our communication and we can present what we want to say, as a wonderful bouquet of flowers that we have chosen from our ever growing, blossoming garden. All in the right balance of the light and dark. 

WHAT DO YOU WANT?

Where do you want to grow? Where do you want to have balance? Where do you want to be “in equinox” knowing when it is the right time to plant the seeds of your visions. If you take a stand and become pro-active in pursuing your dreams you will see that things start to change for the better. You are the one person who knows best what it is that gives you balance in life. Make sure you provide yourself with these things and plant the seeds to grow into the person that you want to be in the world. If now now, when?

Thank you for reading
Have a wonderful day, full of light and love and balance!

Thorey


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How the birthday celebration of a friend changed my life!

How the birthday celebration of a friend changed my life!

Being a free-lancer in the “gig-business” as we call it,  I rarely took time off to have a proper holiday. Most of my travels abroad were linked to my work or participation in workshops and performances. For holidays I just would find a couple of days here and there to enjoy a little break but always ready to say yes to the next “gig”. 

In 2018 there was a change. A good friend of mine had a big birthday coming up in 2019. She was planning to make her dream come true and book a hiking trip, doing the Inca Trail in Peru, for two weeks, visiting Machu Picchu, which already was on my bucket list. She told me there were still tickets available and I decided in a blink of an eye to go with her. I booked  the ticket and felt amazing and weird at the same time. I had never planned a trip with such a long advance. It was more than a year until we would go. This was a completely new experience for me and started to open new possibilities. 


On top of the world in Machu Picchu with my friends.

Soon after this happened I saw an ad about a biking trip, cycling the Way of St.James or El Camino de Santiago. Cycling the pilgrimage from Seville to Santiago De Compostela. Wow! I always wanted to hike the Way! Now I could bike it in only two weeks. What an opportunity! But oh… no! This was planned in September. I would not be able to leave because at this time I was always busy teaching courses in different schools. The disappointment washed over me. Then when I was just about to give into that feeling I realised, but I am free-lance. I will just say I am not available for these two weeks! And plan around that. If that wouldn’t work,so be it. This is my time and it suddenly came back to me why I prefer the choice of being a free-lancer, working independently, or being my own boss. It was so I can choose the way I live my life. Wow the feeling that now washed over me was pure freedom. So I booked the trip and when the time came to schedule my teachings I had blocked out time for my trip. Guess what? This didn’t become a problem at all, I just planned around my trip and I felt so empowered by taking this decision. A decision that should be so obviously in my hands but being a free-lancer it is so  easy to  fall into the scarcity mode. You often don’t dare to say no to any work or projects since it might be the last one you will be offered.


Cycling the pilgrimage from Seville to Santiago De Compostela.

So I have become brave about planning my vacations, being proactive and taking action. Having in mind these good words of Mehmet Murat İldan; “Neglecting vacation is neglecting success because every success needs an accumulated positive energy!” – 

This year I had planned this wonderful trip to Italy. Hiking in Cinque Terre, enjoying a few days in Florence and of course at the end of the trip participating in a theatre festival, Cosmonauti, in Tuscania. Finally seeing the possibility after all traveling away from Iceland had been out of the picture because of the pandemic. But then the CoronaVirus struck again and it became a risk leaving the country, rules and regulations changing all the time. I had to surrender and cancel all my plans about Italy. But of course there is always a silver lining in every situation. I could still visit many beautiful places in Iceland. 

Me and my partner decided to follow the sun to the north of Iceland and for the first time we took the bikes with us. I can’t understand why I hadn’t tried that before. Camping, yes I still love camping, and then taking long  good cycling  tours exploring the area was this great fun. Mixture of hiking and biking, slow traveling, physical action, revisiting places and discovering the landscape in a completely new way. 


Biking towards Asbyrgi in Iceland in the midnight sun.

I have to say that I will never go back to the times I would neglect my vacations to be able to take whatever job that came along. The soul and body need to be allowed to go places, be inspired and breathe fresh oxygen to be able to fly and experience the real success of wellbeing. That will eventually feed into your projects when you are back in the room working on your professional success!

Ok well I have to admit, I actually started blogging from the first camping site. Inspired I guess from the fresh air in the north to finally start writing. But after that I put all my work aside for a bit. 

What I want to leave with you from this story is this. It is you that you have the power in your life. Whatever choices you are making; deciding on your vacation, what to have for dinner, deciding to speak up. Putting out your boundaries. Modeling life as you want it to be. It is all in your own power and remember not to give it a way. Claim your time, claim your voice, claim your power! 

Thank you for reading, have a wonderful day

Love,
Thorey


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9/11 2001 Twenty years today from this day

9/11 2001 Twenty years today from this day

“My husband calls me from the drama school where he was teaching “have you heard the news” with an apocalypse sound in his voice and my immediate response was “no and don’t tell me”. This was the day we will never forget. This was 9/11 2001 My bed at the hospital happened to be in the room just opposite the tv-room where everybody gathered to look at the television streaming life images from NY with the airplanes flying into the World Trade Centre building.

I had just given birth to a child into a world that was collapsing. Nobody knew what was going to happen, if world war III had just started or what. I only knew I didn’t want to hear any of this. I needed to protect myself and be there for my baby. I needed all my strength to take care of my child.” I would love to have had the opportunity  to talk about this experience with my grandmother, Svava Gísladóttir, (11.9.1922-16.12.1997)  who would have celebrated her 99th birthday today. 

My grandparents Svava and Geiri with their first children, my mother Sólrún and her brother Gísli Thor.

Svava “amma” was fortunate enough not to live through this day of horror. She on the other hand had the  traumatic experience of giving birth to a still born child. I never heard my grandmother speak about this, ever.  My mother told me the story as I grew up, of her mother coming back from the hospital, having gone from home fully pregnant to give birth to a new sister or brother. But my grandmother returned home alone and none of the children at home got any explanation about what happened. My mother was around 10 years old.  My mother later found out the back story from her aunt. My grandmother had been infected by rubella (rauðir hundar) in her eight month of pregnancy and the baby didn’t survive. Probably it wasn’t clear until when she gave birth, since there were no sonars or equipment to really make sure.  This was never spoken about at home when my mother was growing up. I can’t imagine how it was to deal with this in the times you just had to bury your grief deep down and live with it. 

My mother Sólrún, my grandmother Svava, and my great grandmother Magðalena Lára have all been called home. ❤️ Today I wish that I could sit down with them both and enjoy a good talk over a good coffee. Listen to their words, their story coming from them and how this event affected their life and their relationships. 

Four generations on my mothers side at my christening.

Then I would create safe space for us and offer them some of the healing tools that have helped me through difficult times. Tools that are accessible for me as a woman today that our ancestors did not have access to and I am so grateful for. Then after that we would have some tea and talk about that experience and have a good laugh and maybe some good cry on the way. 

I am grateful for the fact that today I will have a session with my Shamanic group. Maybe they will be with us in spirit. I will send them good thoughts.  Today it is also the first session with my group “The Magic of Gratitude” and I am really looking forward to that journey with the amazing healer Jóhanna jónasdóttir: Link

Thank you for reading.
I wish you a wonderful day.
Full of gratitude for all the little things in your life that one day your realize were big.

Love Thorey


Featured image is of me and my daughter Hera and my son Oddur Sigthor, born 7.9.2001

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Welcome to my new blog! 

Welcome to my new blog! 

I am Thorey Sigthorsdottir (yes from Iceland daughter of Sigthor) Many of you here that have worked with me before know who I am and what I do but for you that have just dropped in I want to give you a brief introduction. I am blogging from the camping site Kjarnaskógur, Akureyri in the north (see photo). 

I have inspired creative introverts to present their projects, I have guided business owners to master their skills in online speaking and I have supported academics to find their authentic voice to stand out from the crowd. Me? You could say I am an introverted extrovert that used to get the behavior grades in school as a kid “Excellent – but talks too much”.  Becoming a teenager I became really shy since I used to blush all the time! So I took all the courses I could to improve my skills in communication.

All my life I loved role playing and theatre so I became an actress, graduated from the Icelandic Drama School after four years of studying, in 1991. I wouldn’t have dreamed of that as a kid growing up in a little village in the west-fjords of Iceland but today I make my living from speaking and acting and helping others to practice doing the same! 

I love my job. I also love traveling so every now and then I jump on a tour with people visiting Iceland. I became a professional tour-guide in 2000 and I am always inspired by nature and  by the many interesting people I meet and for the actor in me, a part of my work is to study human behaviour and stories of people.  We all have many stories to share and it is important that people listen. One of the best presents you can give to people is actually really listening. The other side of that coin is to have a voice. To have a voice in your life and have the courage to use it. That is why I find my job supporting people, especially women, to find their voice and empower themself in life, so rewarding. 

I have just written a part of my story in a book 

Women Like Me: A Tribute to the Brave and Wise

How does that link to what I do? Well everything we go through reflects in  our voice or somehow is mirrored in it. I wrote it to inspire people to realise what healing tool they can find in their voice. The voice is with you all the time. It reflects your soul and presence.  The voice can surely be a magical tool for you both professionally in public speaking but also as a great tool for successful communication in all parts of your life. I encourage you to have a look, I would be interested to hear your feedback. 

This is all from me for now…

Have a wonderful day!

Love

Thorey


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