The human math- integer or fractions

P1020956 common groundSome words are like puffed up celebrities, good for upping publicity and adding sparkle on any event.

Even so,we apply those words as if they were powerful incantations, able to conjure something by just being said. That’s just it, the something. We act if as these words implied a given outcome.

Equality is a word like that.
To be considered equal is not good if all are equally  bad off. To be equal to other slaves, do not make you free. To say something meaningful about equality you need an ideal and a way to describe what lives up to that ideal and what does not.

Quality is another, quality in itself just says that, this thing can be felt or seen, if measured to a standard, it could be good or bad, without that standard it is just a word.

Peace is another strange word.
In international as well as in personal relations, peace as a non fighting agreement looks as peace from the outside. No one is killed, nothing is ruined. This is a peace based on fear, but it’s still peace.

Sharing some values, not all

Sharing some values, not all

More than anything else, integrity is a word like that.

As a word it actually has nothing to do with morals, it is about integers, or a number or entity that is whole, undivided, an entity in its own.
If used on people or businesses it could be true either way. When we expect someone to be a person of integrity, we want to know that we can trust them to do what they said they would. We want them to be accountable to a moral code. The thing is that we act as if the code was given. If a person does not act according to my values, if a company does not comply to the values of our society, we will judge it as a break of integrity. I once did a study on Integrity as a strategic asset, where my presupposition was that  integrity would a common value, which would be shared across cultural divides.

It is, but only if those involved are aware which values makes up the integrity everyone should be measured against. An instance could be the Italian Mafia. They always do what they say they will do, they take care of their own, and they are completely loyal to their cause. Which all could be good. Even so, as their moral code only partly overlaps with most other sectors of society, they are not often used as a an example of integrity.

An other instance could be a local manager in an international company. His moral code, what his society and himself hold him accountable to, could be whether he takes care of his own or not.  From our viewpoint corruption, from his an obligation.

I am not discussing what code integrity should be held accountable to, I am not writing about the necessity of your own personal integrity. What I do claim is that to do business or to live together we need trust, based on the expectation that people act consistently. The basic challenge when establishing value based organizations is not to put forth nice sounding words, and claim that they are our common values. The real challenge is to take the time necessary to understand which implications that value has for each person and each operation.

IMG_0678 trustOh, no, we could not have everybody dancing to their own tune, you would think. Of course not, a company or a society’s shared values are not a melting pot of everything that everyone finds valuable.
The key is in shared, but only those values that truly are shared, not as a word but as a common obligation. Those are the ones we with any moral right could keep each other accountable to. On the other hand, if I work in a company that insists on installing values that run contrary to my own conscience, I have to leave. As an individual I am accountable to myself and my own integrity. As stakeholders in society and in a company we need to create the reflective processes necessary to establish the common ground, the shared values,  not as words, but as expected and consistent acts.

My experience from all the organizations I have worked with is that establishing this common set of values is a strategic asset, the core of a culture that works together towards shared goals. Unfortunately, when that is not the case, when the values a firm claims to live by, does not match how their clients perceive them, their spoken or stated values are a liability.


Myself in the work of others

Reflected in the work of Chihuly

Reflected in the work of Chihuly, Seattle

I do not remember where, really, I am not that organized. Anyways, some weeks ago, at some official WordPress site, someone told about conferences for bloggers. Really? What? Like spending time with lots of people who thought blogging was serious? The thought had never occurred to me, of course I had to check out some links.To go all way I even registered at the BlogHerPro conference in Silicon valley. These bloggers were not only blogging, they were doing it for a living.

Truth to be told, I did not know what  to expect, indeed I did not even know if it was for real. “Are you sure it is not a scam?” My nearest and dearest absolutely nonblogging husband was not so sure either. At least the hotel was for real, I told myself, so my last resort was to stay in my room and blog.

IMG_0842 dale chihulyOf course I did not get to blog. I did not even have time for taking pictures. The only one was the Dale Chihuly chandelier in the lobby while checking out. A fitting illustration for an inspiring, thought-provoking and amazing experience. I got legal and marketing advice, technical support and got to talk to people who have achieved great results in short time.

To me, it was all about life, how we grow when we share. Blogging just happened to be the chosen medium.

I am glad, people who are generous and willing to give, share and enjoy will always be what makes us better and braver. My only challenge is to believe that each of us is needed, each of us have a unique voice. Some of those amazing people have a big social network, their voices are heard, their blogs are read. I need not to be intimidated by their success, even if I sometimes am. Quite the opposite, I keep learning that when I read another true voice I get better at listening to my own heart, I’ll just have to keep finding the words of that often timid voice. I am still amazed where that voice will take me.

Magic adventure with Chihuly boats, Seattle

Magic adventure with Chihuly boats, Seattle

The runaway train of thoughts

IMG_5705 bridge“Hilarious, fun, once more, neat!”
That’s what the kids said as we emerged from five minutes of dodging rocks and water, being hurled up, down and sideways, into the dark and out on the cliffs on the Rocky Mountain ride. A passerby saw me, and immediately offered her arm as support, “do you need a doctor?” she said. I did get over that, sort of. It just seems like runaway trains is the best description of my thought process as I get older.

IMG_7596 bartlovIt used to be different. My train of thought was a train gliding fast over the vast prairie. It knew the small towns where it was supposed to stop and pick up cargo and deliver necessities, and it did. It was totally reliable and always on time.

IMG_7585 rusty trainNow my train of thoughts is at best like the train that runs in the underground tunnels in Gringott, you know the Harry Potter movie. My train roars high up in the air, goes all around, and arrives at totally unexpected places. As I swoosh past I can see some wagons on a side track that I absolutely should have connected too, and then it is too late. Then my train screechingly halts at an other sidetrack, picks up whats there and takes off in a second.

IMG_4694 railroadmapsI can not rely on my brain to be calm, intellectual, always remember the right facts and knowing when to present the correct answers any more. At times I miss that youthful self-confident brain that thought life could be untangled through logic, books and exams. Reliable maps, that took you somewhere.

What I do know, now, even if I hate roller coasters , is that the jumble of life is not placed along a set railroad. To see it all, to discover all those crazy, funny, creative connections that I so love, I’ll have to come along on the bumpy line. My rusty thinking machine keeps taking me to the most unexpected places, and I love it!IMG_7592 rusty bolts

A train in the night – a daily prompt on seasons

IMG_0204 winter 2It was winter. As cold, crunchy, white and freezing as only a Norwegian afternoon at the end of January can be.

We rushed into the steaming compartment the minute the doors opened, making ourself comfortable. Settling in for the seven hour train ride through the mountains north to Trondheim. Scarves, jackets, mittens and boots were off. Crosswords, coffee, books, knitting and snacks were out.

Except for one traveller. His heavy boots, the sheepskin jacket, the green muffler, all stayed on – even if he finally tore his gloves off. An hour into the ride the passenger next to him leaned over and asked:” Why don’t you take off your winter gear?” ” Oh, I couldn’t do that,” he answered, ” You see, I am changing trains in Trondheim.”

IMG_3795 vinter skogWhen we first moved to the states, I was surprised at how everyone jumped into each season, no regrets, no anticipation, just :hey! It’s memorial day! It’s summer! Let’s celebrate! Or the day after Halloween, filling their carts at Hobby Lobby with decorations for Thanksgiving. Making the most of each season, even while they always were saving for something, college, retirement, vacation.

I love it! Just now I am having a pumpkin spice latte, in the october sunshine, it is fall!

I know, winter will come. Next week will be busy. Next month I will be traveling. After that we will be ” changing trains” and go back to Norway. But just not now, in this moment I am here, to the full, in fall.IMG_0054 fall Indiana

True courage

IMG_2701 cheeringMy mother’s mother is one of God’s silent heroes. I use the present term, even if she has been gone for years now. I am sure she is cheering me on, up in the bleachers, as Paul says those who are dead do. Eagerly watching to see if we have the support we need, if we are staying the course, if we have heeded the warnings and stored the loving advice they gave us through their lives.

She used to be timid, just as me, able to conjure the worst catastrophes, not always trusting her own abilities. Yet always doing what she thought was right, with a serving and loving heart.

IMG_0275 dark cloudsThen one summer morning our world was shattered. My aunt and her husband had been stabbed to death by their neighbor.

I will not write about the anguish and pain, the grief and the fear. Months went by, the shadows of that day adding darkness to the other tragedies we had lived through as a family.

I thought my grandmother would never be able to straighten her back after that blow. She kept praying, serving and believing though.

I had to ask her: Why? How are you able to live?

She stopped knitting, but she did not answer at once. Then she looked at me, her voice still quiet, her eyes glowing strong.

” The worst has happened, after this nothing can frighten me. The worst has happened and God carried me through even that. That gives me courage to face my days, and to know that the small tasks he reminds me to do is important.”

IMG_5888 hortensiaI have seen illness, evil, death and  sorrow afflict my own family. I have listened to patients,clients and victims of evil hurt by violence, illness, shock, grief and death. I do not need to be reminded of the scary, terrible facts and deeds of life. I do need to be  inspired by everyone who keeps believing in beauty and love. I do need to share joy and laughter to pick up strength to keep striving for justice and a good life.

I need to stock up on beauty, truth and love to take me trough whatever fears I still will need to face in my life.

To do that I heed another advice Paul gave the Philippians : Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

That’s a lot, and enough for me!
IMG_5859 rose

The unplugged voice

P1020880 bottlepostWow, it looks like a message in a bottle! And it was! We opened it carefully, used all our ingenuity to get it out of its container. Put it to dry on a paper towel, and waited eagerly to read the message. As it was, two young people had met, were sitting together in their car at the beach, and wanted to communicate how special it all was to the world. Facebook was not enough.The bottle was washed ashore in the first tide, just some miles from where they had been.

Let's go into the world!

Let’s go into the world!

It is still like that, and I think it will always be; the touch, the feel, the interaction between people needs to be present in the material world to be felt as significant. Even our social media, is social only as long as we know there are people out there. I do know when I have been to long at my computer because I get restless from lack of fresh air, but I never tire of hearing other people’s reflections on life, their stories, their joys. to me it not a question of plugged or unplugged, it is all about life.

Two in one, time for thought and a garden!

Two in one, time for thought and a garden!

I just looked through some of my pictures when writing this post, and I realized that I always do the same, writing, talking, reflecting, creating, caring, taking pictures, reading, traveling.

This is more like it!

This is more like it!

Either connected or unplugged, I always look for light, beauty, joy and truth.

And then there is totally unplugged coffee time

And then there is totally unplugged coffee time

Venus of the rags – a daily prompt on clothing

The lilies of the field

The lilies of the field

When it comes to clothes, Jesus tells us not to worry, as even the lilies in the field in their short-lived robes are more glorious than a kings garments. Just so, they are.

The bit about worrying gets a new meaning in our part of the world though. I still never have been cold, naked or dressed in rags from pure need.  Still, in our abundance, we tend to worry.

Venus of the rags, by Michelangelo Pistoletto

Venus of the rags, by Michelangelo Pistoletto

Not about having something to wear, but about what our outfit signalize to the world around us. As we are part of a material world what we do, and how we look do signalize something,  if we want it to or not. As any other way of being, what we do, what we say, how we use our resources and talents, how we dress signals values. It is not  only as in how I use money, but in what my appearance tells others of how I regard them, and myself.

Clothes that speak of freedom...

Clothes that speak of freedom…

I like my clothes to do what Jesus said, look at the lilies, or the birds, or the fish, the sky, the water. I like to listen to the rustle of fresh tulips or brittle eucalyptus, I like to understand how the design of a flower is created both to be beautiful and practical. I love to learn how the fur of my dog keeps him warm and dries quickly when he has been swimming. In short, I love to create, buy, find and use clothes that are beautiful, practical and comfortable. I like my clothes to tell the world that as a human, I am one of God’s creations made to create, work, comfort, love and enjoy.

IMG_1573 seasonalSo there are clothes for serving, for spreading love and cheer.

IMG_7279 practicalThere are clothes for working.

IMG_2348 enjoyingThere are clothes made for exploring and enjoying the world, and what could inspire more than the colors of a norwegian mountain in fall?

No creepers

No creepers

I do not like to blend in, as I believe every one of us deserves to be seen, to be useful and to recognize the special talents and calling that each of us has.

P1030362 workmanshipI like structure, texture and workmanship that matches what I am planning to do!

I once made this quilt, describing how I sometimes feel like an ice bird together with tropical beauties, as what I love, do not always show on the outside.IMG_3021 tropical scrap


But most of all, oh to be dressed like a flower!IMG_4548 peony 2

Do nothing, do no thing



We were in Disney World, me and four children.
We laughed, had hotdogs, did the rides, had the best day ever, until we strolled away from the ghost train and I suddenly discovered that we were me and three children. When did we last see the four-year old?

I grabbed an attendant who stopped the ride and searched the train, no little boy.
An alert was made, and I was told to go back the way we came, back to the entrance.

More running than walking down a little hill we saw people assembled at a plaza, I feared the worst and forced my way through the crowd, children in hand.

There he was, like a bird in a cage, running back and forth, crying, not hearing any of the kind voices trying to reach him, not seeing any of the ways out, just running.
He did not hear me either. I crouched down, in the middle of the square, stretched my arms wide open and caught him in an embrace when he whisked by.

He collapsed, shaking, sobbing: “I did not know what to do!”

We sorted it out, we celebrated the reunion, we had a tale to tell when my husband came home from work.
I am often reminded of this day though, every time panic is almost taking control.
Every time I hear my own fretful voice:” I do not know what to do!”

Then I stop my self, just before I start running in circles, doing everything, trying anything, working up a frenzy.
Just then I tell myself, If you really do not know what to do, it is probably best to do nothing.

Not forever, not never doing anything, just now. Relax, breath, stop.
If there really is not anything you can do, the best thing is to do that, nothing.

If  there should be a thing you can do, one tiny step in the mess you are in, you’ll have to be real quiet to find it.

More often than not there are things we could do, there are things we should do, and in hard times the way forward will take strength, integrity and effort.

Perhaps our running about is just the lazy way of spending our strength in a way that does not demand anything? It is easier to wring our hands, cry, do a lot of activity and then say to everybody I am totally exhausted, and there is nothing more I can do. Everybody would sympathize with that, poor you, you have done everything you could have done.

No one will be willing to say, perhaps you did the wrong things, perhaps you wasted your energy doing pointless things, when your strength was given you for the task only you could do?

I think that is what God is doing. Looking down on the earth he sees us running about, busy, busy, and he wonders, did I not tell them clearly what is important? And he does it again: In quietness and trust is your strength (Isaiah 30:15). Not never to do anything, just now to do nothing, nothing else than stop, wait and trust.