How ten makes three

IMG_3032I do lists, that is no secret.
The secret trick to my lists is that I don’t write a “to do” list, it normally turns out as a “do not do” list.

I make a list of all and every thought that bothers me and cries for attention, like: remember, call, fetch, buy, arrange, cancel, repair this and that and who and where.

Then I look at my list, regroup, cross out and rethink and cut it down to what really has to be done. Not to get through the day, but in a longer perspective. Suzy Welch  uses the 10-10-10 rule when cutting. What happens in 10 minutes, 10 months, 10 years, if I do this or if I don’t do that? It calms me down and help me focus. I thought there was an insurmountable pile of tasks that had to be done, and then, it really wasn’t.

Then I got another idea from reading Deborah’s blog, write only three things on your list, the three things you have to do that day. All three methods end up with a short, to the point list, that has to be done. Perhaps a mixture of the three approaches is best?

What do you think?

By the way, check Deborahs homepage and her awardwinning book, Into the wilderness!


IMG_2519 old sins  14 januarIn my childhood I knew grown ups that smuggled Bibles to Russia, they told tales of hold-ups, interrogations and people in prison. Russia seemed very far away. For 60 years this cathedral was repurposed as a pro-Marxist museum of religion and atheism. To believers it was still the home of Our Lady of Kazan, the most revered Russian Saint. To those in power it was a symbol that had to be crushed. It was neglected, the polluted air took its toll, it was not a beauty anymore.

Then in 1992 services was allowed again and four years later the church got it back. As a matter of fact all churches threw off their disguises as swimming pools, libraries, museums and ware houses and were given back to their congregations. Slowly they are even restored. When we visited Russia last fall, Saint Petersburg was like a box of jewels with the colors and spires of the churches all over town.

Does it matter? On a cultural level, of course it does, on a religious level? That’s not for me to say, I treasure the fact that there has been christians in Russia all through the Soviet era.

In a very small-scale I try to keep that picture with me these days, as there is so many things that should be done. I have had this feeling that I am too late, that irreparable damage has been done, that I have too much to do, that I have to run.

It is not true of course, it all has to do with things. To me the most important value, and the most difficult priority is to keep remembering this:

Only humans have eternal value

In theory it should make it easier, in reality I am still working on that, but I do not think I am too late anymore, I am just where I should be, now.


IMG_2492 easy task 12 januarI knew it would be busy, coming back from a year of sabbatical leisure, and getting back on track. And I knew there would not be time for pictures and much writing, so I picked pictures from our travels in Russia and choose the words I knew would be my personal challenges when I came home.  I knew myself too well, I had of course planned to write something along with these pictures, for two days now the posts have been posted as they were with no thoughts attached. Which is perhaps the truest description of these days, no thoughts, just settling, organizing, arranging and doing.

I have one thought though. To keep my energy from fluttering in the wind like these leaves in Saint Petersburg, I have to keep my feet on the ground and ask, does this have to be done now? The volunteers in this park were planting bulbs, for which there is a definite season. I try too, to keep what I do, connected to what has to be done, and leave the rest.

To understand that there is a season for everything is easy, the hard part is to keep focused on what I am growing, and know when that is in season.

-and I am glad there is not the season for my garden now, as I would not have had time for that!

December 2nd – the merry newspaperboy

IMG_1714 peisgirlanderIt was still dark outside as I opened the door to hang out the Christmas wreath on our front door. The day before there was no Christmas anywhere in our house. Now the tree was glittering, every surface was decorated, the stockings were full, the windows had Christmas curtains. The tables had Christmas tablecloths, and yes, the teddy bears and dolls had Christmas ribbons on.

I put the wreath in place and stepped back to admire my work. Then a happy voice called out: ” Merry Christmas!” it was the newspaperboy trudging through the snow at six o’clock in the morning. Then he added: “Why are you up so early? Isn’t it a holiday?” I am sure I smiled, I am sure I said the right thing, I did not tell him the truth though. I had not been in bed at all. When the kids finally where in bed the night before I had started a whirlwind of activity that had taken me through the whole night.

Now I was ready to stagger with bloodshot eyes into Christmas, ready to fight to keep my eyes open, longing to be in bed, while everybody else was getting ready. Later that day we sat next to my good friend and her family at Christmas Eve service. We both fell asleep. I did not keep my secret from her, “when did you go to bed?”I said. It was when she answered “not yet” we both knew that we had to keep this secret, as no-one would agree that any Christmas decorations was worth it.

I think that was the start of our decline. From the mountain of self-declared queens of Christmas  into the calm vallies and peaceful meadows of being Christmas friends.

The first step was leaving the tradition of magical transformation behind. From then on I allowed Christmas to tiptoe silently and graciously into my home from the first of December. Every day I do one thing that could evolve into the Christmas I want. Make a wreath, buy some gifts, prepare some food. Then, at the 24th of December, Christmas is here and I embrace it as it is. Now a days I might even be enjoy greeting the newspaperboy, as it will never be at the ending of the night, but at the crisp, magical beginning of Christmas, with me, rested and happy in the middle of it all.

Just now though, I will light the fire, curl up on the couch and listen to Christmas music. In my heart there will be Christmas already!

Believe me, I know better than most how frantic and exhausting it is possible to make the season of peace and goodwill. The main story on Indexyourlife in December will be my way to a Christmas free of tangles.

In December my brother and I write an advent calendar blog together in norwegian.You may visit at  JULEFRYD or Christmas Joy. This year we will be writing or sharing thoughts and joys of gifts, giving and sharing. We will post there every day, and I will share some of that blog here on indexyourlife too.

All pictures at Indexyourlife are mine, if not otherwise stated.

Simplest of the simple, and yet….

IMG_0923Life is a messy business. I really do not know why I keep adding to the mess. Open my cupboards and you will wonder, why does she not keep it tidy? As just now, why is the cheese slicer in the same drawer as the matches? Are they ever used together? Well, sometimes…

Is it more time-consuming to put the named cheese slicer with the cutlery. Well it could be, but I am not that busy am I?

The thing is, I need space and order to think, but I do not naturally create space and order. Another of my great-grandmother’s sayings is “everything that is not stolen or burnt up will return,” could be true,  I just am to impatient to wait for that.

Accordingly this is how I keep just enough organized.

1. I bundle.
For instance :When I empty one garbage can, say in the kitchen, I try to go through the house and do the others as well.
If I buy one gift, I think of others that would like the same and buy more.

2. I use the time I have.
For instance: I clear out my purse, when I change into another. I clear out the named cutlery drawer and not my whole kitchen, while emptying the dish washer. I delete messages when waiting in line.

3. I sort when I need it.
For instance: filing all email concerning one case when I am dealing with that.

4. I always de clutter when looking for something

5. I clear out one space every day, which means I pretty much go through my house once a year.

6. Most of all and through it all, I prioritize. Not according to what others think is important, but according to the bigger goals of my life. Does searching for a cheese slicer make me a bad person? Of course it does not. Using time to search for the slicer, when I could have called someone, written a note, or just being quiet is, if not bad, it sure is wasteful.

Order is never about systems, it is always about what would you rather do than search. On the other hand, if looking for things keeps the treasure hunter alive in you, go ahead. Keep messy, you could even have a go at my drawers.

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?

The pictures in this blog are always by me, Solveig Mjolsnes. This one is of my 150 years old sewing table, which I probably think will help me keep my threads in order.

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

My dream home

Building a nest.

Building a nest.

It was a rainy, cold sunday afternoon, one of many in a rainy, cold summer. We would have loved to curl up with a book and a cup of coffee. Our children were running wild though, back and forth in the living room, having so much pent-up energy. We just looked at them and each other, and went for our rain gear. Come on, we are going for a walk, in the woods! They were jumping and running in front of us for a little while, then they stopped and walked very silently close to us. What’s the matter with you guys? You may jump and shout as much as you like here, why are you so timid? The youngest looked up at us, with eyes that said “you do not really understand much, do you?” then he explained it all to us. “You know, when I am at home the world is this big and I can run everywhere” he said and stretched his small arms in front of him. ” But when I am outside” he continued, and crossed his arms in front of him and made himself even smaller ” when I am outside the world stops just here”, he said and wiggled his little finger in the crook of his arms. His words ring in my heart whenever I get too ambitious in any homemaking projects. Building a dream home means nothing if it does not make its inhabitants able to call the world their home. Building my dream home is done by nourishing and supporting everything in myself, my husband, our children and our guests that make us feel happy, content, safe and also daring, confident and able to be at home wherever and with whoever.

I love flights of fancy, I do dream of beautiful homes and wonderful settings. I do spend lots of time making our houses lovely and welcoming. But most of all I dream of a world where all of us, no matter who we are or where we live, may safely and happily go out into the world, jump and shout for joy, and know, I am at home. I think I already won that lottery, I am building my dream home, every day.