Have another look

IMG_7414 (1280x1030)Last weekend I joined a photowalk in my own hometown Trondheim. A two hour stroll along a stretch less than a mile, the theme Contrasts.

I know those streets.

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I have shared photos from these walks for years.

My family has walked on the same cobblestones for a century.

IMG_7409 (1280x818)And yet, always something new, even when everything is old.

Always something I have never seen, even if I have seen it all.

IMG_7362 (1280x1079)Could it be that way with people too? Do we ever take the time to really look for something new in the people we love or in the people we see every day?

IMG_7425 (1280x1042)What would we find if we spent two hours concentrating on seeing another side of the persons, the conflicts, the situations, the very life that we think we know?

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You’ll never walk alone

IMG_5662 (1280x853)Yesterday I was present when the congregation at Tiller started to use their new liturgical clothes. The process of designing and making them is worthy of several blog posts that maybe will be told, one day. Today I’ll just share the beginning and the end.

I always start with the biblical texts for the Sundays when the liturgical clothes, or paraments, will be used.IMG_5618 (1280x853) This set is red, the color of blood, the color of martyrdom, the color of fire, the liturgical color for Pentecost, for ordination, for the day of the apostles. The texts speak about being a witness, about martyrdom, about baptism by fire and by the holy spirit. To me, most of all it speaks about the God who walks with each and one of us through all this. Be not afraid, one texts says. I will not leave you fatherless, another tells us. Yet another, I will stay with you to the end of the world.IMG_5641 (1280x767) So I wanted the textiles to show God surrounding us, enfolding us, walking with us, in every moment, in sorrow and in joy. Which made me start with the Fibonacci numbers. Fibonacci did not invent them, but told the west about ancient indian and arabic knowledge, the sequence and order you’ll find in nature, the golden ratio. Like the seeds of a pine cone or a sunflower, every row being the sum of the two before it. IMG_5639 (1280x853)To later theologians this sequence became a witness of how God’s ordering principles rule nature. To me, I used this sequence to make a cross, and the world where we live. Sometimes you do not immediately see it, like in life, it may look chaotic, it may look without order. If you keep looking, it is there to be found.IMG_5651 (854x1280)

 

Finse, May 9th, the hash mash of truth

IMG_5269 solskinn1This has been the most “eavesdroppingly” week of my life. It is not that I do not want to listen to the person I am talking to, but I want to listen to everyone, and this truly has been a week of strange confessions to listen in to. We’re at a small hotel, surrounded by ice and snow, and in every corner, at every table something exceptional is being told.

IMG_5291småhusAre they going out for a smoke? My friend asked me. The sunburned anorak clad guy in the breakfast room is putting two fingers on his lips. No, he is telling her to put sunscreen on her lips, I tell her. Being in the lucky position of knowing the language. The other information I gathered this week is more uncertified, and I keep wondering, how often do we think we know something as fact, that never was one? I have had several test groups this week.

First the group of code experts from all over the world, there are no limits to how I am able to combine their knowledge into total rubbish.

Then the group of explorers, even inside, they are fighting the arctic winds when they share their stories. One tale taller than the other, how they survived, and how they almost not. The glimpses they give into their hearts are cruel, cold and terrible, or brave, courageous and impressive, depending on your mindset.At breakfast this morning their plates were piled with eggs, bacon, sausages and porridge, their boots stomped on the floor, and then they were off into the white.

Then the group of actors and crew, impressive to witness all the people working to get that going. Then the tidbits, on how you train a hen to play ill ( you do not, but you are not allowed to drug it without an veterinarian present). Or me, sitting next to an Academy Award winning actor at breakfast, my favorite from several films, and not recognizing her. She told me she was a french actress, and I thought she was joking.

IMG_5295solskinn3But that’s another tale, if I got that one right. For now, I am off into the mountains, as her departing salute was.

Seeing is not believeing

IMG_4507As I did go, even if I was not feeling well, I might as well make the most of it. Due to the connections I arrived hours before the others, and could go looking for things, in a most happy place to do that. A misty, unknown wood, sprinkled with steady spring rain and full of surprises.

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First I saw golden glimmers among the trees, old rotten leaves, but still a burning orange, so lovely.

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Then I saw golden glimmers among the trees, except these were reflection of trees in the water, and the glimmer was fiery red carps, golden moment.

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The next orange flutter was a bird hopping close to my feet, obviously trying to remind me that others had brought food…

I did not pay attention, as that was when I saw a bundle of unbelievable, flaming orange leaping over the carpet of pine needles and laying down to rest among the trees. Neither leaves, nor fish, nor birds, but a couple of Siberian tigers jumping for joy in the rainy spring morning.

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Sometimes, even seeing is almost not believing, and as I did not capture them until they took a rest, you might believe what you want to. Isn’t that always so, no matter what we are told, even no matter what we see, we believe only what we are prepared to see.

We see only what we think it is possible to see? Sometimes, we do. And then at other times, there are tigers in norwegian woods.

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Grounded

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 10th – to everything it’s place

Christmas in Solvang

Christmas in Solvang

It was our first Christmas as a married couple. Our small apartment had all the Christmas touches I thought was essential, the only thing was i had not been the one responsible for keeping them beautiful before! As our first guests arrived I was truly dismayed when they just used our home like if it was, well a home! They put clothes in the hallway, books on the tables, cameras on my newly ironed tablecloths, wash bags in the bathroom! They did not want to sit quietly and not move so that my decorations stayed decorative.

Luckily it did not take me long to rearrange my ideal looking Christmas from an advertisement to a place where  friendship could thrive, without Santas getting in the way. Since then I have some untangling rules about the things I do put up for Christmas and any other festive occasion.

Do not add, deduct.
Holidays takes place, not only in our hearts, but very much in  real space and time. Holidays normally crowds these physical spaces more than the rest of the year, with people, with stuff, with food. Which should make it evident that for all of us who live in normal houses, we need to make room for the holiday to happen, not fill up the space we have with clutter.

Decorate only surfaces where no-one sits, eats,perches or lounges.
Oh yes, to have a meal in a magic forest of snow-fairies and angels is a thing to remember for every child that has experienced it, as I did when growing up. Oh no, having to take these darling creatures off the table and rearrange them every time someone spills something is not. Now I decorate the banisters, the fireplace and the windows. The place is transformed, and keeps that way.

Too much?

Too much?

Make it big and make it again. 

I always decorate the mantel. It looks impressive, it never is. The stuff I use for this decoration stays in one box, then I add water and greenery and I am done.My wreaths are big, green, undecorated and go on the same hooks and the same doors every year…and the outdoor ones are fake. Out of the box, on the hook, back into the box. I add one big thing every year, but always something that will be reused or recycled or can be used the whole year. This year I have bought a big clam shell and filled it with pine cones.

If you need it make it nice.
Instead of adding stuff, I replace. I use my green towels all year of course, at Christmas I make sure they are on top of the stack. I put red flannels on the bed and Christmas towels in the kitchen. Very sensible. Then I do something totally unnecessary, which I love. I push our ordinary mugs, cups and plates to the back of the cabinets and put my Christmas China to work. Some settings are left on a tray on the dresser, signalizing to everyone that enters: just a minute and we’ll have coffee!

Which is what it’s all about isn’t it? Making time and space for friends and family to enjoy the company of each other, to strengthen what binds us together. You are welcome!

What's all the fuss?

What’s all the fuss?

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.Today they are from yesterday’s visit to Solvang.

December 9th – I don’t decorate

IMG_1392 kakebakerWhile we were having lunch the world was transformed. From rain to the most wonderful ice storm. Every single twig was frozen into a magical crystal. So beautiful!

Except we were going to a Christmas party out in the country, should we really brave those slippery roads? In the end we did, and had a true winter wonderland experience, which even got better when we finally where inside the big old farmhouse. No inch was undecorated, every spot was filled with something beautiful or funny or interesting. Every possible theme for Christmas decoration was exhausted. As it was so tastefully done, it was a marvel to behold. I did not know the people we were visiting, but  as I praised her collection of Christmas stockings, she took me on a tour of the whole house. Never before or since have I seen anything like it, the cats had their own tree, the deer in the park had their own tree.As I thanked her for the tour, I asked innocently ” And what do you do?”. She looked seriously at me with big blue eyes : “I  decorate!”

IMG_1393 julealvIndeed she did. To me it was an awakening in many ways. First of all I realized that what I aimed at when I decorated was not possible to achieve in between, before and after everything else I had to do. Even if I love to decorate, it is not what I do.I do a lot of other things, but I could never be willing to set aside the energy, time and money involved in a transformation like this.

Having realized that freed me from taking part in the “Perfect Christmas” competition that every magazine wants to enroll us in. Being free from comparison i could concentrate on how my Christmas touches would enhance the celebration we wanted, the life we want to build, the faith we want to share.

From then on decoration is not about decorating, it is all about picking symbols that makes real and tactile all that is difficult to put into words.

So, even in a house filled with greenery, candles, wreaths, angels and gifts, it is not about decorating. It is my way of letting our home remind ourselves and our visitors about what is important to us.
It is love without words, but with evergreens and lights.

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. Today they are from the Christmas windows in Copenhagen this year.

December 8th – fairytale joy

Snowmen playing in the tree

Snowmen playing in the tree

I was  placing a tiny snowman in a wintry wonderland in one of the windowsills. He was enjoying himself with his sled and all the other snowmen, Santas, fairies and reindeer that was populated every windowsill, some tabletops and part of the kitchen counter. Just then our youngest came home from school with all his friends in tow and found their places around the kitchen table. They loved to do their homework together and of course do some testing on whatever I had baked. Marveling they went from one tableau to another, finding all the tiny details.

It was fun of course, and part of the tradition. I remember how we always looked for the small Santas my parents hid all over the house. Then I had a weird feeling, as if I saw it all from the outside. I saw myself spending the rest of my life, or at least Decembers, carrying boxes up from the basement, doing everything just as it used to be. I saw children growing older, coming home from college, coming home with their kids, always expecting everything to be as it used to be. To someone with limitless energy, it would be fun. I, on the other hand, was ill much of the time, and my decorating bouts had to be done on the days I was able to do it. Did I really have to, or want to, do it?

That made me think, I’d better rethink this decorating thing. If this is what I am going to do, I’d better make it what I  would love to keep doing no matter what.

Resolutely I said to our son, this is a Christmas decoration contest. You may decide what you like most! They decided on the six woolen snowmen I had made to look like small children playing in the snow. The rest? I put most of it back in its boxes, labeled them carefully, put the date on them, 1999, and took them back into the basement. Where they still are. Not gone, the children may take all they want when they leave home. The rest was donated to a thrift store. Since then the six snowmen are playing happily every winter, sometimes in the window, sometimes hidden in the tree. Pure joy, totally free of fuss.

Come play in the snow

Come play in the snow

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.

December 7th – homemade with stress…or love?

IMG_1905 garn“Why don’t you just knit some socks for my kids for Christmas?” I will not tell you who said this, he probably thought he was making it simple for me. He caught me in the middle of gift making and did not meet a jolly elf, he met a fuming one. “Of course I can, then you can give each of our children what you earn in 8 hours, I retorted”. Not an answer to be proud of, I know, but it made me think. When did I allow it to become a question of money?

At times it is, with good ideas, time on your hand and free materials, making gifts could be cheap. It normally isn’t. The Alpacca wool mittens I am working on now, takes 25 Dollars worth of yarn and at least 10 hours work. The strange thing is, I have been giving self-made gifts since I was five years old, and I should know by now that quite a few people do not really appreciate a home made gift, so why so I keep doing it?

It took me years to shift my mind from having to make gifts, to wanting to make gifts, to being allowed to make gifts, to enjoying to make gifts, to craving to make gifts. Which is where I am now.

I realized it was not so much about giving as it was about being.
It was not about money, it was all about values.
It was actually not about the product, it was about the process.

I have to be a person who makes things, that is the simple truth.
I love the way my house looks with a basket of knitting next to my chair.
I love the way I feel when thoughts are allowed to come and go, dusk is slowly falling, the fire is roaring, the music is playing and soft yarn runs through my fingers.

To be honest, making gifts is about who I am, not about what I do. When I finally saw that truth I was able to let go of all the hassle of gift making and keep the love of making gifts.

For some weeks in fall and early winter I have a project waiting for me in my knitting basket. I steal moments of pure joy with those bundles of softness and color. Sometimes there will be results too, which I am thrilled to share with friends and family.

At all times the result is a happy me, which around the 15th of december congratulate myself with work well done, clears away all craft supplies and knitting, and ventures out to buy my dear ones what I can truly afford, with love. Next year perhaps a new person will be the one who get’s something crafted straight from my heart, who knows. They all get peace and gifts with no hassle or stress attached, and with no hours counted.

IMG_1907 knitting

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.

December 6th – to all a good night

Even Santa needs a rest

Even Santa needs a rest

Did you ever hear the theory of the sleep train? According to some experts we are not able to go to sleep any time, we have to wait for the right train to the land of Nod. Like in the real world, we get ready for the journey, we wait at the platform, we board and then, on the sleep train, we fall asleep. If we fail to catch it the next train leaves in two hours. The thing is, if we do not board the right train we will be late. If we keep boarding the wrong train we will get desperately late, and never be able to catch up.

Our problem, according this study, is when we are ready at the platform, but as soon as  the right train is approaching we turn around and run in the other direction so that the train won’t catch up on us. Silly. I used to do that, especially at Christmas time.

longing for a soft pillow

longing for a soft pillow

When getting the kids ready for bed I was so tired I could hardly stand on my feet. Instead of catching that train I would do chores to keep awake. As soon as the train was pulling out of the platform I would feel awake and start on a Christmas project. Making gifts, baking or organizing. In a couple of hours the next train would pull up, and I would fold laundry or stack the dishwasher until it left. Then I would be going at the sewing machine for some more hours, until finally waiting for the next train while tossing and turning in my bed.

I never felt like I was a top of all I had to do. Luckily I saw this program on sleep disorders and recognized how i was depriving myself of the one thing I needed most. From then on I tried a different tactic. I gave myself set hours. If paid workers could leave their work in the evening, so could I. When the children were in bed, I would curl up on the coach with knitting or a book. Then, as soon as I felt tired at all, I would just go to bed. No need to say that Christmas has arrived every year since then, so all my late nights were totally not necessary.

It took me thirty years to grow up and not wait for somebody else to call it a day. As for the knitting, that will be tomorrow’s post!

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.