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.

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What did you love?

Renndølsetra 7There comes a time to most of us, at forty five? Fifty? We seem bewildered in our own lifes, and do not seem to recognize the landscape we are in as the one we set out to find.

Which could be good, life is full of surprises. Even immovable and unsurpassable mountains turn out to have secret doors.

If you find yourself hammering at this mountain trying all the sesam-sesams you are able to imagine while no one works, you might see a coach or read a “Your dream will become true” book.

They will both ask you to remember: “what did you love to do as a kid, what do this love tell you about who you are?”

liten solveig med kanneMost of us are not able to pinpoint the passion of our youth though, we loved a lot of things. I, for instance, loved to sit in the windowsill of my room, watch the roaming fields and read, as well as building playhouses in the woods and running tracks. I would not want to make either into a living.

Perhaps we are blind to the truth all around us? I need to turn this question upside down. Instead of starting the hunt for loves and likes and happiness, I stop now and then and see what I have been doing, even if I had no time for it. What my soul is drawn to and need to do, then I make room for thatstjerneskjerm

Then I take a step back now and then and consider the output of what I have done and what I haven’t done, what did I learn to do it better next time? I have found that the answer to middle age confusion is not necessarily to do something else, but to know the essence of what you do and why.

hvit peonI think the road to middle age wisdom is to learn the lessons from the road we have travelled, and know how to apply our understanding and wisdom to every task, every challenge, every opportunity  life gives us. Mostly.  If we are on the wrong road, no amount of putting mind and soul to the task will set us right. It would be bad though if we actually are on track, but so busy comparing gear and GPS readings that we never get around to enjoy it.

hvit alliumI tried this exercise in my garden today. I already know I need to be there, though I was not really aware of what I have been doing all these years.

Now I know. I have been planting white plants. I have taken care that the sunlight gets to play through the petalshvit rose I have given every flower room to grow and thrive. I have been steadily and unvaryingly watering, tending and working to create place for joy asolveig med vannkannand peace. Hopefully that is what I do wherever else I am too.

And yes I love it, still.

Instant Bliss- planned for years

billedholmen 1On the highway from the airport one may get a glimpse of the sea and a tiny island, often bathed in exceptional light, the reflexes from the high sky and the wide expanse of water.

I always look out for it, expecting beauty. When in a taxi, I always remark on it, and mostly we start talking of the lovely views from the airport and into town.

When driving I stop, and get a quick shot out of the window, almost every time.

billedholmen 2I did not know until this summer that the island had a name, Billedholmen, ( the Picture Island) that you could go there, and that this is a special habitat for several plants and birds.

Last night, on our way back from my fathers birthday party, we found the parking lot, the almost hidden pathway under the highway and walked the rocky path along the ocean.

Every turn on the road revealed magic. Almost there, we had to stop, the rocks were to big to climb. ( or our party shoes were not up to the task). We sat for a while though, a moment of peace, bliss and beauty.

We will be back – with other shoes.

Billedholmen 4

The little garden in the mountains

start innerdalenMy daughters and my husband went for a hike, and came back totally enthralled with their day. “You simply have to go, you will love it!”, they said.

And so a year went by.

Then Kristin visited from the US and we needed I nice place to go, why don’t we go where you went last year? I suggested, and so we did.

InnerdalstårnetInnerdalen has been a hub for mountaineering for more than a hundred years. Even to us, who only hiked the trails, it was breathtaking, beautiful, amazing.

We found a lodge, had lunch, poked around, took pictures, and went back. Then I found my love!

renndølsetra klesvaskAt first, I saw an old mountain farm, Renndølsetra. Cows grassing, hens walking in the tall grass, clothes on the line, a charming place where you may stay for the night, rent boats, have a meal.

Renndølsetra 6 hageWe took deep breaths, and oohed and awed as we strolled the meadows. Then I turned a corner and came upon the perfect garden. Tiny, 5×5 meters, fenced to keep the cow out, a door leading into the kitchen, a small table, a book on the table, a cat sleeping on the doorstep. No lawn, of course, vegetables, salads, herbs in raised wooden beds.

Renndølsetra 5 hageI just ached to jump the fence, pick some leaves and go help getting dinner ready….or even weed a little!

Why did I wait a year to go there?

Renndølsetra 10

Weeding like a viking or for a king?

irisMy favorite way of weeding is to dig everything up, sifting the soil and replanting the plants I want. I call it the viking way. No dithering, no delicate fingers carefully picking tender unwanted shoots.

My favorite way of cleaning a room is to take as much as possible our of it, scrubbing every nook and cranny, and sort thoroughly through what comes back in side.

My favorite way of improving myself is grand plans, I will never… I will always….from now on. As a kid I ate no sugar for a year, just to prove I could, you get the picture?

peonknoppThen I heard the King’s gardener giving advice on how he weeded the king’s gardens. His main rule was, green things need light to grow. Or: if weeds do not get light, they will not grow. The second rule was, focus on what your favorites need to grow, and give them that. That could be to remove weeds, it could be to mulch, to support or to cut down, to divide and to renew.

If you look for weeds to weed, weeds is what you see. You could stay in your garden the whole day and see nothing but weeds.

Perhaps that is true for life too? Do we look at what is wrong? Do we concentrate on what should be changed or on what we have power to strengthen and let grow? Could my life’s garden be more enjoyable if I just cut away the weeds above ground, and start looking for flowers and fruit, even while I weed?

kobberkjelI tried that when cleaning at the cabin this weekend. Instead of grumbling about to few cupboards, muttering about plans for an annex or another room, I looked around for the things I really liked. Then I made them shine and look their best. The old copper coffee pot, the huge copper pan that we use for firewood, all the candlesticks. For an hour I polished cherished memories incorporated in lovely things, at night I could se the flames from the fireside reflected all over our lovely, perfectly clean, just big enough, little cabin.

Our vacation will soon be over, I am tempted to make rigorous plans for all the things I am to achieve this term. Until now my normal approach would be to do all chores on my list, try to make everyone happy, and then hope for some time for my own projects. Weeding away every disturbance, before I enjoy the flowers.

My new plan is to be so absorbed by the blooms that I neither see the weeds or hear the complains.

From now on, I will be weeding as for a king!

blomsterknopp

How to look at weeds..

flyttefotI weed.
Weeds of course, dandelions mostly.
Flowers even, forget-me-nots mainly.

I weed clutter too, things crowding  my life.
I weed my lists every day, by crossing out all the tasks done, by deleting and adding.

I weed my mind too. By making lists of the most mundane details, just so I do not have to remember them.

I keep weeding to make room for the life I want to live, the work I want to do, the love and the values I want to cherish, I may weed and weed, and then the day will be gone, I will go to bed with a clean desk and mind and wake to a new day that presents itself readily cluttered and I might start weeding again.

blå blomstOn that track a whole life could be spent getting ready to live. Even if every thing was in it’s place, there is everything else. Our bodies, careers, relationships, we could always find something that is weaker than it should be, worse than our friends, far from our wishes.Willing or not, most of us weed, we even encourage and admire each other for it. Until we see only weeds, habits to be changed and goals to be reached. Why have flowers at all, isn’t it much easier to weed without them?

There are of course weeds that we should not allow in our lifes. The secret of gardening though is to plant and nourish what will thrive in the given circumstances. The plants that will grow stronger than the weeds.

Or, could it be that my garden would flourish if I turned all the energy spent on weeding, to mulching, tending, digging, nourishing and being amazed and grateful for the beauty, colors, smells and wonders of all my flowers in the middle of the weeds?

Could it even be that my life would suit me more, if the energy spent on getting ready to do, finding time to go, decluttering to find space to be, organizing to make room to create, were turned into just living, reading, writing, creating?

We visited Sofia this spring, guess what, the flowerbeds, the lawns, the woods, were full of dandelions and forget-me-nots, making the perfect backdrop for myriads of tulips.

I might try that!

forglemegei 27.04

 

What’s now won’t be then

IMG_7611When I woke this morning, the sun was lower than the rowan outside my window. From my bed I could see the rays illuminating small bits of bark, every branch and single leaf from below, almost from the ground and up. Specks of copper floating in the morning breeze.

IMG_7608When I woke again the sun was shining straight into the trees. The branches were black, the leaves were golden, a wonderful but still quite ordinary fall day. I tried to reproduce the spectacular light by altering my angle of shooting, no luck, the copper moments had gone.

Sometimes you just have to get out of bed to catch the magic!IMG_7621