With strings attached

imageA friend visited a church convention in Kenya. While in line at the restroom she commented on the exquisite colors of another woman’s block printed tunic. Resolutely the lady stripped to her  t- shirt and held out the tunic for my friend to have.” I’d be happy to give it to you!”, she smiled. My friend refused, how could she take the very clothes away from another person! The smile faded on the face of the Kenyan woman, “why is it that you Americans always want to give and are not able to receive?” she said.

In many ways she could be right. To be thankful is a key to a happy life. It is also another way of knowing what is important in your life, and what just adds to the tangles. Unfortunately we sometimes mix up the rituals of gift giving, the understanding of the strings attached and the supposed obligations, and adds thankfulness as another chore.

To be grateful is an altogether different sentiment.”Grateful” is etymologically derived from grace, gratis. To be truly grateful is to live in the knowledge that life itself and the magic of being alive is given free of charge, as a grace, totally gratis. To me that is a mindset and a way of life.It is not the Polyanna game of looking for the bright side of life. It is not a reciprocal payback game. To be grateful is to be free to give and free to receive, untangled from some obligations, happy to fulfill others. Gratis, undeserved,in grace.

In November I take part in the NaBloPoMo,  in the BlogHer network. I post every day on “The Untangling Tens” what women do when life gets tangled. These are the ten tools that worked for those I have asked, what are yours?

All pictures in this blog are taken by me, Solveig Mjolsnes.

Advertisements

Light a candle for the world

293I have listed ” light a candle” as a tool that women use to untangle their tangles. I said to light a candle is a way of focusing a way of praying. So accordingly I said to get where you need to be, you should start by lighting a candle for your soul. then I said you should light a candle for “us” for the fellowship you belong to, for the ground where your roots will grow. Lastly I say we should light a candle for the world.

Hey, did I get that right? Isn’t that selfishness itself, the me and the us first and the world last? A wise lady I knew, Edith Schaeffer, said : “if you want to feed the world, you do not open your window and trow flour and yeast over the waiting multitudes. You have to bake the bread first.” Or at least, I would add, take time to learn how to do it. Then of course the most profound knowledge is to allow yourself to taste the bread that others are serving you, fellowship is not
Or as Jesus said, love your neighbor as yourself, never “you are not worthy of love, only your neighbors are.” Accordingly, knowing who I am and where I belong is my starting point for loving and serving the world.
OK, even if that is true, you say, I was looking for tools to untangle my troubles, not taking on another task.
Start by lighting your third candle I would say.
Light it and allow your thoughts to convene to a cause outside yourself. It is not a tool to make you think your own problems are not worth solving, it is a tool to make your remember why you are here. When you have refocused on that,some of the threads of your tangle will seem irrelevant,. Start the other way, by thinking of everything that is wrong I the world and chances are you will be overwhelmed and burnt out. Start by knowing that you are loved and belong somewhere and your service will give you strength and joy. Then again, don’t think too much, just light your candle. Or as Mother Theresa said: “just show up and something will happen.”

In November I take part in the NaBloPoMo,  in the BlogHer network. I post every day on “The Untangling Tens” what women do when life gets tangled. These are the ten tools that worked for those I have asked, what are yours?

All pictures in this blog are taken by me, Solveig Mjolsnes.

 

Light a candle for us

P1030619 tangled rootsWhere do you belong? Who are the us in you life? Sometimes our tangles are just that, relationships that destroys us, friends that hurt us. At other times the tangle is the feeling of being left alone when everyone else is having fun. Or it could be a dawning realization that I am not where I am supposed to be.
We are meant to belong somewhere, what we do are meant to have significance in a fellowship. We are meant to know that we contribute for the good of everybody. Aristotle even called it the true meaning of life, and the only road to happiness: I will be happy if I use my life experience to make the world better for everybody.
It does not always seem like that.
When I light a candle for us, I focus on the relations and fellowships I am part of. I look at my obligations. I light a candle to concentrate, to remember where I need to be, and to go away from the places I do not belong. I light a candle to remind myself that I am never alone, there is always a “us”. Perhaps not where I can see it, perhaps I have to search for it.

As we were hiking at the Refugio road some days ago, I saw this tree. It reminded me that to be a tree that gives it fruits for the world to enjoy, it is not enough to have roots. It is also not enough to look at those roots and examine the tangle they form. To grow, the roots need to be in the ground, on a place where they belong.

I light a candle for us, for all the fellowships I belong to, and pray my roots will be rooted where they will grow.

In November I take part in the NaBloPoMo,  in the BlogHer network. I post every day on “The Untangling Tens” what women do when life gets tangled. These are the ten tools that worked for those I have asked, what are yours?

All pictures in this blog are taken by me, Solveig Mjolsnes

Light a candle for your soul

IMG_8280 national cathedralWe were at a concert. John Hiatt were singing “Have a little faith in me”, Lyle Lovett was singing, Ryan Bingham was singing. We all lived and breathed with the music. As I do. Singing in the Choir in a big cathedral is one of the most soul centering things I ever did. I sing when I walk, when I drive, when I work.
If so, why is not Music one of my untangling tools? I thought about that last night, perhaps because I always have music in me. If I listen I will always hear which tune my soul is reverberating with just now. Sometimes I open my mouth so everybody can hear it, most of the time it is just my silent tune. When I am really troubled though, the tune sometimes stop.
That is when I have to light a candle. Lighting a candle makes me focus, this is what I need, a prayer forms, this is the most important thing, this is how my soul looks like.
So even as I light a candle as prayer, a cry for help, it is also a cry for guidance, help me back on track. Help me remember and keep doing what I need to do, help me stay where I need to be. I have not listed prayer either, as music, prayer is not a tool that I use, it is a way of breathing. When I forget to breath, lighting a candle makes me stop, rest, inhale deeply and know, not what I have to do to untangle my tangle, but how I have to live to be able to start untangling it.
How do you breath? What does your soul look like?

In November I take part in the NaBloPoMo,  in the BlogHer network. I post every day on “The Untangling Tens” what women do when life gets tangled. These are the ten tools that worked for those I have asked, what are yours?

All pictures in this blog are taken by me, Solveig Mjolsnes. This is from the National Cathedral in Washington

The apple tree in my sock’s drawer

IMG_1168 retusj golden hills2“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”
Martin Luther

I used to think Martin Luther was quite silly and irresponsible to say so. Come on, a minister! Shouldn’t he be comforting, evangelizing or praying if he really knew this was the last day?

Then I thought he was stubborn. Really how arrogant can you be? As if he said, I do not care what you say will happen, I dare you to challenge my priorities!

Nowadays I regard Martin Luther as I do Sam in the Lord Of the Rings. As the real hero. Motivated by life, not by the forces that threatens it. When Frodo get’s all puffed up by the importance of his task, he is tempted to yield to the power of  the Ring. The big political issues and the possible powers clouds his mind. The ring entangles his thoughts so that in the end he is not able to perform the simple task that should complete the excruciating journey to the top of Mount Doom. The true hero is Sam. His life is what he wants it to be, his motivation is to keep it that way. He is not fighting Sauron, he is clearing away the forces that will ruin what he loves and keep him from his loved ones.

When life get’s entangled, the aim is always to get back to the life we want The other tools help us remember that, to sort out, to fight, to prioritize, to list. To make room for what is true and to cherish that.
I think Martin Luther tells me that if my task is to plant an apple tree, it is not a prosaic unimportant task, it is why I am here. I am also challenged. As I will never know when my world will end, if what I do is worth doing it should be worth doing every day, to the end.

So I keep de-cluttering, I keep sorting my socks, I keep trying to be organized. Never as it was life itself, always because I need to be able to find my spade when planting trees, because that could be why I am here.

In November I take part in the NaBloPoMo,  in the BlogHer network. I post every day on “The Untangling Tens” what women do when life gets tangled. These are the ten tools that worked for those I have asked, what are yours?

All pictures in this blog are taken by me, Solveig Mjolsnes.

There is no time for killing trolls

Kick sleds for kick starts

Kick sleds for kick starts

The time is never right for killing trolls, my great-grandmother used to say, even so they had to be killed.
I think she wanted us to learn that we might as well get the unpleasant chores over with. There was no use waiting for the right mood neither for doing the dishes nor our homework.
Life is more complicated though, the trolls does not only come to stay, they gang up on us. We all know that, no crisis arrives alone. Very seldom are we allowed the luxury of dealing with one difficulty at the time. Most often they are all entangled in each other and becomes the many-headed troll in the norse fairy tales.
The only funny thing about it is that it surprises us.
Even stranger is the fact that the most entangling times are the ones that return at the same time every year and still we are not prepared.
Well how prepared could you be? I remember one day weeks before Christmas a neighbor came sailing at her usual speed into the store where we were waiting in line. “That’s that then” she proclaimed, and continued “The tree is done, the food is ready, the gifts are wrapped, I am all set.” She looked triumphantly at us slackers. The shop-keeper was not impressed “why not do Easter while you are at it?”

She probably considered it a good idea. At least that is how most of us live, always preparing for the future, doing so much work to avoid tangles later. The thing is though that no matter what we prepare for we are not sages and what we visualize is an ideal event, which is not always what happens. We plan as if the Christmas dinner is the only thing in life that week, and seem to forget life itself. I know. This is one of the basics I have learned through a life of lists.

Just too much?

Just too much?

If I can not be prepared for everything that will happen, why not prepare for the things I know will come? Isn’t that a contradiction? To me it isn’t. It is all about using my energy on getting the basic routines to function.
One of them is food. As we know there will be trolls to kill, even at the happiest of times. We also know that the strength to do that will not come from party food or appetizers. No matter how well-coordinated they are to the given holiday. And even if they have to do, they will not do if the person who is exhausted by making them also is supposed to be the troll-slayer.

So these are my not-so-secret tools for being a happy hostess, as ready to handle tangles and trolls as possible:

1. Know, plan and stock up on the healthy basics everybody, and most of all you, needs to function.
For me? If I have whole-wheat bread, coffee,granola and yoghurt, orange juice and eggs, I am in luxury heaven. Without, I am sluggish and tired no matter how many croissants or left over turkey-sandwiches I am offered. All those items can be bought now and stored.

2. Be prepared for life to continue as usual.
Why should anyone have to rush out for detergent, toilet paper or tooth paste on the night before Christmas?
3. Kill of the small trolls ahead of time.
Do it at once. Schedule bills to be paid, arrange for flowers to be delivered, order and pick up tickets now.
4. Weed out the really tiny troll sprouts today, and they will not have time to grow before Thanksgiving or Christmas.
What is that? Could be to check, replace and stock on light bulbs all over your house. Count towels and plates and all the other stuff you will need, restock.
5.Know your plans and obligations, more is not merrier. Back out now if you have too much, so that they will have time to find replacements.
6. Make room.
Holidays fill your home with stuff. It needs places to go. If a total declutter event is too much, clear or toss an item every time you wait for something. When decorating, do the spots that are not in regular use, life needs space too!

7. Remember, all holidays are made to make us cherish, remember and celebrate what is important to us, our family, our culture or the faith we belong to. How would I prepare a holiday  that made that true, still?

Trees inside? Perfect for hiding.

Trees inside? Perfect for hiding.

In November I take part in the NaBloPoMo,  in the BlogHer network. I post every day on “The Untangling Tens” what women do when life gets tangled. These are the ten tools that worked for those I have asked, what are yours?

All pictures in this blog are taken by me, Solveig Mjolsnes.

Lazy mind, beating heart

IMG_1261 solnedgang1Totally spoiled, I know, but that is how it is to belong to the privileged part of the world. The thing is, I have a personal valet. He follows close behind me wherever I go. He is in charge of my appointments and my bank accounts, he maps out the route when I am going somewhere, he even wakes me in the morning. If I feel creative he has most of my pictures and music in his archives and retrieves them for me to play with. Actually he knows everything that goes on in this household.

Then, on thursday night, he was kidnapped. One minute he was there, the next he was gone. I did not realize it until hours later, and panicked. Could we really trust him or would he share everything he knew with his captors? I immediately went out to look for him, no luck. I did not sleep well that night.

Early friday morning I went back to all the places I had been the day before, talked to people, emailed others, left my contact information, looked and asked, searched for clues. Nowhere. I went home to inform the police and the company where I got him. First I had to vacuum and prepare for the guest that were coming though.

And there he was. Mr. Android Samsung himself, hiding under the seat cushions in the couch, camouflaged in his black leather gear in the black leather sofa, safely asleep, out of battery with the sound turned off.

There is not much you can do to avoid your valets to take this vacations. For now, mine has got some tracking devices and stuff, and then I’ll see if he improve, I do not really feel I can trust him anymore.

IMG_1253 blå timeFrom the untangling point of view I am worried though. I really did not like the way I reacted when he was gone, stressed out and totally unable to concentrate. What is this? Could it be that I have allowed my self to be too dependent on external memory? A part of the problem is having some valets of the Android family and some Apples, that absolutely do not talk to each other. The main problem, I think, is the way I store everything as if it was of equal importance, everything jumbled together. Which in turn makes me dependent on the memory, battery and compability of these devices for everything. What then of the few important bits of information that I could need when the electricity is gone, or my phone is lost or there is no coverage? Could it be an idea just to write it down on an index card? Trusting a valet that can disappear in a sofa, how silly is that?

In November I take part in the NaBloPoMo,  in the BlogHer network. I post every day on “The Untangling Tens” what women do when life gets tangled. These are the ten tools that worked for those I have asked, what are yours?

All pictures in this blog are taken by me, Solveig Mjolsnes. Today’s pictures is from the calming walk at Summerland beach after I found my phone.