I did not get to play

I was four, going alone to a birthday party for the first time. New dress, pleated hair with white ribbons, white tights and shiny shoes, I could hardly wait for the party to start. Half an hour later I was back home, went straight into my room and started to play with my building blocks. What happened? My parents were worried, they kept asking for some days,and I still did not answer. 

Half a year later I was building with my blocks again, in another town, another house, living next to other people. Then I looked up at my mother and said quite calmly, “I did not get to play with her toys”. It took some seconds before anyone knew what I was referring to, they all had forgotten.

These days, I am getting closer to my answer on this year’s puzzling question: what did you do and why? So many people say that when they learn that I have had a serious illness and surgery this spring. I have made some polite and correct answers, as I am no longer four. I know though that only recently am I getting closer to understand my own reactions. I needed months to be able to reflect on and not only live through this troublesome times. I am still me, I act fast and think slow.

I have learned, again, that when in trouble I still return to my basic building blocks. I have come to see that what I do when a crisis looms is who I really are. These are the tools I have sharpened in good, untroubled, sunny days which gives me rest, joy and strength in stormy times. 

So what did I do? The first night I went into a new bookstore, and came home with soothing titles and lovely stories. Strangely enough I did not start reading though, I just put them in the bag I planned to take to hospital. 

I need reading like I need air.

Then I bought the most beautiful notebook, for the next weeks I made notes of every song I was reminded of, every Bible word I read that was special to me.

I need a comforting blanket of blessings, ready to wrap around my soul in the days I know will be hard.

It was still February, and I filled my window with spring flowers.

 I was worried I would not see another spring, and knew I had to make one myself to believe in growth and new life.

I bought the loveliest blue and white China I know.I have wished for it since we got married 35 years ago, but always made myself think they were too expensive.

I know my heart leaps when I see something beautiful, I need to let my heart rejoice in every beauty given us in this world.

I sorted through all my fabrics, and made ready kits for all the ideas I have postponed. 

I know I have to create something to be happy.

I sorted through and shredded the content of rows upon rows of binders.

I had to make room for new things to happen.

I saved all cards and greetings, and took photos of all the flowers my dear ones sent me.

I knew I needed to be reminded of the outpouring of love and comfort I was given.

I made orange marmalade and lemon curd. I made homemade bread.

I know how I truly relax when putting my feet up, sharing a meal with someone dear to me.

I stayed close to my husband, talking and wondering, sharing information, cherishing memories.

I tried to think of a letter to write to my children, and found one should never postpone saying how much we love each other. Everything else is just words.

This is who I am, these are the tools I am given and know how to use, and I did.

Why? When life was threatened, I did not need to do what I had not done, I needed to reassure myself that I have had a life filled with the grace of God, the love of my family and friends, the gift of beauty and the joy of creating.

I am healing, I have been given new possibilities. I am stronger and happier than ever. I know I did get to play after all.

How do you wait?


I  was in a meeting in Oslo when I saw somebody was calling me from a landline, whoever could it be? Only doctors and hospitals still use them, and I was not waiting for any of them to call, was I?

I just did not know I should have been waiting. While I thought all was well, a team of  doctors had been pondering over my CT scans. While I had been enjoying growing strength and health, something else had been growing in my lungs.”We’d like to see you in hospital as soon as possible”, the calling doctor said and added, “we have decided that surgery is needed.”

This was three weeks ago. Since then I have experienced a lot of things worth writing about, I just have not taken the time, as I have been so busy waiting.

There has been appointments in hospital, more tests to be taken, PET scans, CT scans, blood counts. All the time knowing that the chosen diagnosis is lung cancer, even if it might as well not be, one does not know until during surgery. The “something” has to get our anyhow. Waiting, googling, thinking, but also a needed time to realign and get used to new thoughts about life.

There has been talks with everyone I am working with. Even while a lot of my mind is busy thinking about my lungs, I am truly glad to be given the chance to unravel some mess and clean some clutter, so that the person doing “my” job, will be able to do it. Actually I had had the feeling for a while, too many things are going on, get sorted! A gift to be given waiting time to do it, another gift to see how generous my colleagues are, taking on my tasks, making life easier for me.

tulipaner fra BKThen there has been the hard  task of informing. Somebody told me, “you should not say anything before you know”. Know what? I wondered, neither of us know how long we have to live, besides this is not a question of knowing a diagnosis, it is all about the waiting, the worry, the time to stop and think. The hard part being seeing the shadow of worry and fear on other peoples faces. We all face our own death when we hear about someone else being ill.

Then of course everyone I know has turned their worry into all kinds of blessings.

I could have kept quiet, I could have “suffered” in silence. I could have, and robbed all my friends of the possibility of doing as Jesus said ” carry each other’s burden”.  How should we do that if we do not tell each other of our burdens?

As it is I have received something to rejoice in every single day, yesterday I even woke up with the advent calendar feeling ” wonder what it will be to day?” I have looked at dark skies, and just then a message from someone cheers me up. I fail to smile, just that day, a happy tune is sent. I open my mail box to thoughtful, lovely letters. I have been given time, prayers, thoughts and flowers. Best of all some meaningful conversations, keeping us on track on what really matters. What a gift to be given waiting time to receive all this!

Then there has been such lovely words. Both friends and family has found time to cheer me up with the sweetest praise and memories of what we have done together. I am sure only being with such sweet persons could make me even remotely close to these descriptions, which means I am the one to be grateful, to be surrounded by people who sometimes are able to bring our the best in me. Who knew waiting could be such a blessing?

Then most of all there has been the realization, for me to receive these blessings I had to reach out, I had to admit that waiting is hard to do, I had to allow my weakness to be seen.

No wonder I have not had time for blogging, I have been to busy counting my blessings!


tulipaner t+j


Shake it off and let it go

ruffy rister seg, sept 2014

Blessed are the peacemakers, Jesus said. I remember that far too well, trying to ease conflicts, smoothing over disagreements, making amendments, giving way.

Peace is not equal to absence of sound. Conflicts not heard as words will still be felt as sorrow, rage, and pain. Not peace at all.

I talked this over with a psychiatrist friend this summer. Sometimes peace can only be made by getting out, not by giving in, she said. Even to us “good girls” who wants to be liked by everybody, who wants to make peace, there are situations and relations where quitting is the only solution.

Perhaps the peacemaking needs to be balanced by some other commands?

One could be :If they do not accept you, shake the dust off your feet and move on, as Jesus also told his disciples.

The most important: Love yourself as you love your neighbor, sometimes means, shake it off and move on.

Perhaps advent could be a time for shaking our furs and letting go? To fight and to make peace, but only where we do it from the heart of our souls, and where there is a will to work together for peace. Never to make peace by quenching what we believe in, by silencing the voice of our hearts.

As usual, I will be blogging on our advent blog, julefryd (Christmas Joy) until Christmas. This is the fifth year my brother Trygve and me share our advent thoughts together. We’ll see you there! I’ll be back on Indexyourlife after Christmas.

Happy advent and Christmas to all!

Faith without google

heavenly cellThe ceiling was white from sulphur deposits. The walls had nine oblong caves, big enough to lie down in, but never raise from. In between the bigger holes were numerous tiny ones. Hardly big enough to stuff the body of a child into. We were fourteen people, pressing close to the walls, around a stone slab, covered in white, with four candles burning. It was the day of All Saints. We were deep in the catacombs, in silence, taking a moment to remember.

Then our guide, a priest from the Philippines told us a story. “I had a group of students here some days ago,” he said, “and I asked them: what is faith?

In an instant all of them had their phones out, but soon had to put them down. There’s no signal, I do not know, one of them said.”

“I invite you too take the time to know what’s written in your heart, to respond to this sacred space”, he continued, “and then answer yourself: what is faith?”

We were older, we were not invited to answer out loud, we cherished the silence. Even so, who knows what we had done if only our phones had been working?1.11.15 tente lys, alle helgen

The moment to say no

FredssenterI was enjoying the afternoon sun at a street cafe just outside the Nobel Peace center in Oslo. My husband was fetching coffee. It was peaceful, I shut my eyes and enjoyed the calm, the warmth of the sun, the luxury of a leisurely afternoon.

I woke up by someone swatting with a newspaper, I looked around, and saw a woman hitting another, a gypsy beggar, with a rolled up newspaper. The gypsy woman was standing close to a couple on a neighboring table, shaking a paper-cup, not saying anything. At first I thought the attacking lady was chasing a wasp or something away from the poor woman, then I heard her: “go away, we do not like the likes of you around here!”

Instantly the couple got up, left their coffee and started to leave the cafe. “Are you leaving then?”, the indignant, paper-wielding woman said. “Oh yes, “the man said, “we do not want to be seen near the likes of you.”

This rumpled the norwegian lady, she made some grumbling noises and left too.

It was all over in a couple of seconds. I could hardly believe it had happened. But the rolled up paper was still on her table.

It was all over in a couple of seconds, the shame of it has lived with me for a week. Not as much that a fellow citizen acted on her prejudices, but that I was not quick enough. That I was not brave enough, that my values had not propelled me into action, but into bewilderment and fear. The moment to say” no” had come and gone, and I had not said anything. This time, somebody else did. What if they had not?

Just up the street we passed the Gestapo headquarters during the 2nd world war. What happens when nobody dares to be the one to say no?

Victoria terrasse

How does your heart sound?

sommerfugl med gresstråI was having an ultra sound of my heart last week. As I biked down to the hospital and were feeling well, I did not expect anything to be the matter. Just a follow-up to search for scars of the adventures of last fall. Even so, being examined, on a table, with all kinds of equipments attached to my body, makes me attentive. What if there is something to find, and they overlook it?

I felt myself stretching my mind and ears to listen, to know. I did not hear anything, at least not the pitter-patter of a tiny heart. Then I realized, for the first time I had an ultrasound where I was not supposed to listen for a baby’s heartbeat. Only then did I hear that my own heart had been swishing and swooshing healthily along all the time. For the first time in my life I literally listened to my heart.

If that took some getting used to, what with the heartbeat of our souls? As I biked on into town I wondered, how do we make ourselves attentive, to listen, and to alter the course when the core of our being is not in rhythm? Most of our life, it is, sometimes though we are so busy listening for, adjusting to, and taking care of the hearts of everybody else, that nobody is left to listen for us, and why should they? If we can take care of others, should we not be able to take care of ourselves?

Ultimately, to me happiness is found in community, in serving, in togetherness. I also know that my responsibility is to serve where I do not make myself a martyr, but where the joy of my heart wells forth. Swishing and swooshing. I’ll be listening for that.

gjemt bak engel

The happy blues of new worries

bjørkeskogI am exceptionally good at spotting a worry. I am not a master of letting go of my worries though.

Last Sunday we were hiking the mountains around our cabin. The intense sunshine made the Monkshood flowers sparkle like agate on the hillside. As I walked on I wondered, as they are so beautiful, so plentiful, and totally dominating the alpine meadows, how could I not have dozens of photos of them?

sau og lamThen an ewe stopped in the middle of the path, her little lamb hiding ( and having some milk) behind her, and suddenly I knew. As the monkshood, or wolf’s bane, are extremely poisonous, I have eyed them as potential dangers, protecting my children, worrying.

I almost laughed as I realized how many years I have been walking these woods since our kids needed that kind of guidance. Still, I had not taken time to de-clutter my bag of worries!

Tyrihjlm og gjevilvatnetAs cliffs, as waves, as dark woods and lonely walks – not my worry any more, they can handle it.

Which sets me free to marvel at the colors, to be amazed at the canyons, to be impressed by the force of the ocean, to enjoy the enchanted dark forests, all for my self.

KorsknappOur Sunday walk became a treasure hunt for the other happy dots of blues coloring the woods, my Sunday pondering made me think, what other outdated worries or problems keep me from seeing the blessings and beauty in my everyday walk?

And then of course, the son who does not run after a ball into the street anymore, now rides a Harley..

Someone said that worries grow with the children. I’d better not carry any useless worries around then. Come to think of it, perhaps they all are?