To walk without going

IMG_0158 ladestienFor years I was ill, for days I would vomit if I moved my head or faint if I tried to stand up. I would be lying in my bed tormented with pain and not able to fulfill any of my obligations. Still, the memory is so painful that I prefer not to write or talk about it. I was eventually healed through surgery, today only extreme exertion will trigger a new attack. Needless to say, this gives a special glow to every ordinary day, as to me the ability to live an ordinary life fills me with wonder and gratefulness every day. Even so, in the middle of it all, for all these years I did not know how it all would turn out, I did not really dare to believe that I would live through it, this side of heaven. Gradually I am able to look back and search for the tools that helped me through it all, even when I had no hope for it ever to end.
I read the amazing book “The diving Bell and the Butterfly” by Jean-Dominique Bauby some years ago. The author wrote the book by blinking his left eye, and told the story of living with locked-in syndrome. One of his tools was to go for walks, at once I recognized my own treasured walks when I actually could not walk at all.
He never left his bed, I of course had quite normal days in between. He died, I am very much alive. He wrote his book by blinking his left eye for four hours each day. I have all the tools and time I need and still are not able to concentrate on writing. So of course I do not compare my life to his, what we share is the gift of walking while lying absolutely still.

IMG_0205 winterwalkHere is how I would do it. I would savor and scan every beautiful place I saw. I would look for the details, I would stop and feel the breeze in my face, I would pick flowers and smell them, I would feel the sun or the wind in every limb, then I saved it all in my soul. When I was in bed, I would start trying to recollect as many details as possible. I would tell my self that my pain would not go anywhere so I could safely leave it with my body and take my mind and soul for a walk. Most times I returned to the same morning in the spanish highlands, where I now know every stone,in my mind. Did it take away the pain? No, not to me. Did it make me heal sooner? No, i do not think so. Did it take care of the tangle of the life on the other side of my bedroom door? It did not sound like it.

What it did was to remind me, life is worth living. What it did was to keep me believing that “this too will pass”. What it did was most of all to keep me knowing that I would be carried through this ordeal too. To me it made the promise of the Bible real, there was pastures of green, even close to the valley of death.


In my stride- another post on walking

P1030587 going uphill Solveig

“I will walk this road a while, I will walk it with a smile, I will take it in my stride, someday I’ll be satisfied”
Allen Reynolds, My Ship will sail

As you can see the weather last Sunday was glorious. The air was so clear that the whole world looked different. The road you see far away is HW101. From our climb up to Gaviota peak it was nothing more than a line running through the hills. The speed and traffic down there was nothing. As we went up I did not really think about that, I just enjoyed, and obviously I took my time, as the picture is taken by my husband, waiting for me further uphill.

Then, two miles into the hike my knees told me that they were not happy. I was surprised, “you have never complained before, what is this all about”, I asked my body.  Pain and more pain was the answer, until my right knee locked and would not bend at all. As this was new to me, I just told my husband to keep going. I would turn around and slowly start going back. He would join me when returning.

I started to walk, slowly. I am used to pain, but this knee did not only hurt, it alternated between being locked and being all loose so I could not trust my leg. Gradually my thoughts got all tangled, with anxiety, with fear, with resentment, and well…with pain. What if I tumbled down the ravine, what if I fell in the grass, where were the snakes and the mountain lions, was that a turkey vulture? Then, what if I had to do surgery on my knees, how should a helicopter be able to pick me up if I gave in, and oh, there was no phone service.. You see, pretty pessimistic for a normally sunny soul.

As my steps were only inches long, as I had to stop and hold on to every tree, stone or gate I found, I had lots of time for thinking, and for reflecting on my own thinking. As I slowly eked forward I tried to focus on what fear was real, and what was fear for “could be real”. The fact was I was outside, I could enjoy the vistas, I had not seen a dangerous animal at all. And later, rather than sooner I had to be somewhere were my phone worked and where I could be picked up. The knee hurt just as much when moving as when resting. There was only one thing to do, leave all the worries in a tangle to be dealt with if their time came, and keep walking.

So I did. I took pictures when I rested, I inhaled the crisp mountain air, and of course I sang, of course I prayed. No one else was around, and the hills got a consert of my whole repertoire from Bach’s “Ich Halte treulich Still” to Cash’s “I’ll take it in my stride”. Three hours later I was back in our car, knee throbbing but none of my other worries had materialized yet. Then Stig came, and we drove home.

The next morning my knees were good. I do not know why. Unfortunately I know too well that most problems won’t go away just by me plodding and singing along. Some of them do though, and for those that don’t, at least it helps to take some strides at the time and let the other wait their time. And then of course, praying, singing and smiling are untangling tools by themselves.

Walk it off!

IMG_0053 knot“I try to think, but nothing happens”

Sometimes my thoughts are all entangled. Especially if I am angry.  Even if I know I have to sort it out, and know I have to find a solution, nothing happens when I try to think about it, as Winnie The Pooh says. Even worse, to me more often than not, too much happens, at  once.

As in this tree, where the saplings were too close. Even if they were growing, they were stifling each other. It is just too much going on, at the same spot, at the same time. Even if there is lots of energy spent considering the mess of thoughts in my head, there isn’t actually any thinking going on. As these saplings could have grown into two big trees if they only had been rooted a bit apart, my thoughts get so much clearer if I am able to view them from a distance.

This is not a parable or a spiritual exercise, even if it works as both, it is just a very simple thing to do. The walking solution is not mine. To go for a walk when things get entangled has been the tried and true go-to solution  for ages. The old greek philosophers did it, Soren Kierkegaard did it, and every angry teenager still does it, when storming out of the door, slamming it and running “out of here”. It works. Not as solution, but as a tool. To me it is as if my body tells me, you are too much part of this to think clearly, get out of it so you can view it all from a distance.

Of course this is a walk that has to be done in circles, when I have cooled down, when I have got a new perspective on things, I need to get back to the persons or problems I left. Hopefully I had  been able to leave without doing anything that makes it difficult to apply my calmed down reason on it all. And sometimes, well even if it is hard to admit, sometimes it is not even a problem anymore…..which leaves me pondering what was this all about? Which actually could set me off on another walk.

“I have walked away from all my sorrows and illnesses…just keep going and it all goes well”
Soren Kierkegaard

Any thing better than no thing?


I have an erratic creative process. When making a quilt, painting a picture, knitting a sweater or writing a piece I start with a vague idea. As when we were chopping firewood up in the mountains. I looked down and saw the sun filtered through the fall-colored leaves of the wild blueberries. They were vivid green, dark blue, purple, orange and all hues of red, all at once. Set against a background of wet glittering moss, it was beautiful beyond words. I knew I had to make something to carry that moment with me into the winter.

As soon as we were inside, I started to pull out all the knitting wool, embroidery floss, quilting fabrics I had. Surprisingly much, as we were at the cabin, I had fun though, well into the evening, and then nothing made sense. I was one step further and had an idea board of colors, I did not have a project, the living room was a total mess, everyone was hungry, I was tired.
To me a well known, creative tangle. My first thought was I have to do something, after all this mess, I cannot just clear everything away! I was just reaching for my cutter, to at least do the pieces for a quilt. I envisioned myself in my rocking chair in front of the fire, sewing the most glorious quilt, as soon as dinner was over. I did ruin some golden batik, I was stressed, and did not feel the joyous calm I do when I am in a creative flow.

This is when I know I have to stop, and do nothing. Almost,nothing that is.
The nothing that helps me on at this stage is to clear and sort. To fold the big pieces of fabric, to put the small ones in a nice basket. I make all the wool into neat balls, as I go everything that did not make it to my idea board is cleared away. I wonder where the empty teacups came from, and take them to the kitchen. I lay the rest out on my work table, and then I do nothing, I quit, for now. IMG_1662plansWhen I come back to the project, my mind has been playing with the elements of a possible project, not a mess.
To me, this approach work in any mess, especially when my brain has come to a stop. No matter how much I try to force on, it only gets worse.
Then I stop. I clear my desk, or the space I am working at. If it is a mental problem, I make it visible by putting it on paper. Every big and small thread of thought that disturbs me. Then I sort. Normally the problem has fewer pieces than I thought, it was just entangled by all the other stuff I tried to remember. When everything is on its own list, I take a break, I do nothing on the problem. When I come back, the elements of the problem has not altered a bit, but I can see them clearly and hopefully make some sense of it. By doing nothing, actually before I have done nothing at all.

And the blueberry leaves? They ended up as a knitted jacket, well, they will be as I have not figured out which buttons to use. Guess it is time to do…something.

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

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



Our house was getting too small.
Or our lives were too crowded. We were to busy to do anything about it. I was not able to go to sleep, tossing and turning, worrying and thinking. When I finally drifted into a troubled dream it suddenly all made sense. I had just dreamt that we had an extra room that we did not know anything about. I felt calm, relaxed and happy and slept soundly the rest of the night. The next morning I was halfway down the stairs, going to open the door to that new room, before I realized how impossible that would be in a house that we had built ourselves.

I still knew the dream to be true though, I just was waiting to understand how. 

I prayed and waited, thought and wondered. 

For several weeks I did not understand the answer, even if I got one clue after another.

 I was asked to write some texts. I was asked to design some book covers. I was asked to do some creative sewing projects. I had some paintings framed, and sold them. I was asked to sit on a board. 

Not out of the blue, I had always done these things, I had just not known that I had to do them. 

Now I know, I am happy only if I create something. 

Not necessarily things, even peace has to be made. That is how I regard counseling, coaching and board work. To create in these settings is to visualize and to make a setting where reflection is possible.

My soul told me that it was not really the physical space that was too crowded.My whole family was suffering because I had acted as there was no place for my soul. 

Now I know the dream was true, now I know it is up to me to make it possible.

Small steps won’t take you there

Long path, small steps

Long path, small steps

I just finished mopping the kitchen floor. Which is good, I suppose. I like having a clean house. The question is, do I like it most of all?

My mother in law and me was just finishing up the preparations for a party. We both love that, and she is really good at it. Even so, we were running, doing too much, as the wrong things had been left for the last minutes. “It’s the small steps, every day, that takes you there”, she said, ” it’s a pity they are so boring,” she added.

Lot's of the same, boring?

Lot’s of the same, boring?

I just read Julia Cameron’s advice, to do a few simple things, each day, and keep doing them, is what gets her creativity flowing and her books coming.

I know they are right. Just yesterday I was trying to find the rhythm and the habits, the long road with the small steps that actually will take me there. Wherever that is! In my mind, having a year off is a gift to cherish, and too precious to waste. Which makes me set lots of goals and make plans to get there, the only thing is I get frustrated by not seeing any results.

And it is not because I am lazy, it is not because I am unstructured, it is not because I waste my time. I had just forgotten the most basic strategic knowledge of all.

IMG_5709 dunesIf you are going in the wrong direction, even small steps won’t take you there.

As for boring? Don’t ask me, I am never bored. I might not know where I am heading though.

Look! Sand!

Look! Sand!

Wisdom and knowledge- a dailypost on mastery

IMG_1532 land i sikte

Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

This is among my favorite quotes from T.S. Eliot. Even if I really am curious about almost everything, I did not think I was going to do any other exams in my whole life. There is a time for everything.  I thought the time was come for applying my knowledge, let it merge with my experiences, reflect upon it and mature into wisdom.

Not anymore!

Not anymore!

Then we moved to California. I bike along the not so quiet Pacific every day, marvelling at the view, and my wanderlust paired up with my curiosity, wouldn’t it be fun to sail over those waves? I could have lived with the dream, but my husband seized the opportunity to get his Country Girl join him on the seas. Now we’re in the middle of the first course, the exam is tomorrow, and my brain is crowded with all those words that I honestly did not think anyone was using anymore. “Helms-alee” and “ready about” for instance.

P1020743 st[ kursWhat I do find that learning a new skill, just for fun, helps me see new aspects of everything I thought I knew. For me, it releases creativity and reflection, and do make me wiser. While I will never be a master sailor, I know that just using my brain, my hands and my body in new settings enriches my life and helps me living it to the full. To me learning is not about amassing theoretical knowledge anymore, it is all about getting to see more and more pieces of the wonderful puzzle called life.IMG_1190 b;lge