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.

How do you wait?

marmeladeskive

I  was in a meeting in Oslo when I saw somebody was calling me from a landline, whoever could it be? Only doctors and hospitals still use them, and I was not waiting for any of them to call, was I?

I just did not know I should have been waiting. While I thought all was well, a team of  doctors had been pondering over my CT scans. While I had been enjoying growing strength and health, something else had been growing in my lungs.”We’d like to see you in hospital as soon as possible”, the calling doctor said and added, “we have decided that surgery is needed.”

This was three weeks ago. Since then I have experienced a lot of things worth writing about, I just have not taken the time, as I have been so busy waiting.

There has been appointments in hospital, more tests to be taken, PET scans, CT scans, blood counts. All the time knowing that the chosen diagnosis is lung cancer, even if it might as well not be, one does not know until during surgery. The “something” has to get our anyhow. Waiting, googling, thinking, but also a needed time to realign and get used to new thoughts about life.

There has been talks with everyone I am working with. Even while a lot of my mind is busy thinking about my lungs, I am truly glad to be given the chance to unravel some mess and clean some clutter, so that the person doing “my” job, will be able to do it. Actually I had had the feeling for a while, too many things are going on, get sorted! A gift to be given waiting time to do it, another gift to see how generous my colleagues are, taking on my tasks, making life easier for me.

tulipaner fra BKThen there has been the hard  task of informing. Somebody told me, “you should not say anything before you know”. Know what? I wondered, neither of us know how long we have to live, besides this is not a question of knowing a diagnosis, it is all about the waiting, the worry, the time to stop and think. The hard part being seeing the shadow of worry and fear on other peoples faces. We all face our own death when we hear about someone else being ill.

Then of course everyone I know has turned their worry into all kinds of blessings.

I could have kept quiet, I could have “suffered” in silence. I could have, and robbed all my friends of the possibility of doing as Jesus said ” carry each other’s burden”.  How should we do that if we do not tell each other of our burdens?

As it is I have received something to rejoice in every single day, yesterday I even woke up with the advent calendar feeling ” wonder what it will be to day?” I have looked at dark skies, and just then a message from someone cheers me up. I fail to smile, just that day, a happy tune is sent. I open my mail box to thoughtful, lovely letters. I have been given time, prayers, thoughts and flowers. Best of all some meaningful conversations, keeping us on track on what really matters. What a gift to be given waiting time to receive all this!

Then there has been such lovely words. Both friends and family has found time to cheer me up with the sweetest praise and memories of what we have done together. I am sure only being with such sweet persons could make me even remotely close to these descriptions, which means I am the one to be grateful, to be surrounded by people who sometimes are able to bring our the best in me. Who knew waiting could be such a blessing?

Then most of all there has been the realization, for me to receive these blessings I had to reach out, I had to admit that waiting is hard to do, I had to allow my weakness to be seen.

No wonder I have not had time for blogging, I have been to busy counting my blessings!

 

tulipaner t+j

 

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

Five ways to care

rose i sol“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it”
William Arthur Ward

These last weeks I have been wrapped in comfort and carried by love, all materialized in different ways. As I lay in bed smelling the summery honey laden scent of freesia on my night table I was marveling at how creative my friends and family have been in showing how they cared. This post is a gratitude post, sharing why it worked on me, hoping to get more ideas from you on when you feel cared for.

Bukett 2Flowers
Small bouquets perfect for the nightstand. The joy of seeing beauty through waking nights.
Armloads of roses filling the windowsill. The joy of a rose-colored view on life.
Creatively made arrangements from artistic florists. The joy of discovering new ways of combining color and texture. The joy of getting gifts like this when I have time to marvel.
Riots of color and scent in yellow and orange freesia and gerberas. The joy of giving not only me, but every nurse entering the room a moment of pleasure as they commented on the summer in my room.
Potted plants. The joy of knowing that some of the beauty will last.
And every flower there for me to play with, enjoying the light through the petals, trying to capture it with my mobile camera.

Fun, joy, colors, scent – Thank you!

tekoppFood
Homemade buns. My youngest baked buns and served us afternoon coffee in the hospital. Enforcing in my heart the joy of having an ordinary, blessed, everyday to long for.
Lunch in a bag.  A dear friend bringing delicious rolls, cheese, my favorite jam and a tin of special tea. The necessary lesson of allowing myself to be served.
Breakfast with colors. The nurse who took time to slice grapes, peppers, cucumbers, apples to decorate my breakfast plate. The healing force of being treated with respect.
Breakfast with friends. The friend who collects me and takes me to breakfast in a shared friends home. The strengthening of ties that makes it worth while to get well.
Chocolate. A golden box with belgian luxury tucked into a bouquet. Double delight.

Comfort, energy, revival, healing- Thanks a lot!

bukett 3Words
Prayers. Being wrapped in a blanket of comfort and blessings, people sharing what they pray for.
Text messages. The comfort of a message that can be answered with a smiley
Long emails. The comfort of knowing the sender also will take time to read a detailed answer.
Information. The thoughtfulness of friends and family who take time to understand so that I do not have to explain.
Visits. The gratitude for dear ones showing that time together is worth more to them than any other thing they could have been doing just then.

Knowledge, wisdom, friendship- Thanks to all!

gerberaReading
Garden magazines. My daughter bringing me garden magazines. Strengthening my will to grow strong. Making my room a place for possibilities and colorful plans.
Books. Giving me other stories to think of, pulling me back to basics.

Dreams, creativity, plans- Thank you!

Time
Driving. My son taking time off to drive me to the doctor, giving me the gift of resting in our own car, of peace.My friend collecting me.
Offering. The friend offering to go for a walk, knowing I would never ask anyone to go as slowly as I still do.
Asking. The friend asking what errands she can do while she is doing her own which makes it possible to ask her pick up the things only she will know where to find.
Patience. When others allow me time, I allow myself to let time do the work.

Friendship and love- words of thanks is not enough.

 

 

 

 

 

Time and tide- and the truth about life

IMG_3331 clear view 7januar

Because of the tilt of the moon on its axis, at the equinox the sun appears to be over the equator, and if there is a new or full moon at about the same time then all the forces contrive to create the highest of high tides. If the moon is also at perigee, closest to the earth in its orbit, then that will produce the biggest tides of all, the King tides.

In short, when the pull of the water is at its most extreme, we get to see what is at the bottom. We experienced this last January in California.

Where we thought there were sandy banks, there is pointy, jarred cliffs and stones. Where we had only seen dolphins, whales, pelicans and seals dominating the seas, we could now see the teeming myriads of life. Anemones, shells, urchins, crabs,schools of tiny fish, actually what really sustains the big life forms. But only at the extreme tides.

Tidepooling and marveling I got to thinking, isn’t that what happens to us humans too? After a big holiday we do not always feel refreshed, actually sometimes a bit washed out. An old norwegian saying is that you do not know a person until you have tried to divide an inheritance with him. I would phrase that differently, you do not know another person until you see what turns up in times if extreme stress. And then, why should I allow their worst behavior to be the truth about anyone?

Just now I am using crutches due to a minor injury. Absolutely not anything serious, but adding stress, more that I would like to allow. My workload is pretty extreme, and all the nice things that I normally do in-between are not done. Tidying, watering, weeding, baking, straightening. No way. Our home, my garden, my desk and myself is at King tide indeed.

Is that how life really is? When I saw all the tiny creatures crawling and sprawling, longing for water to cover them again. I realized this, we thought we saw life as it really was, while in truth we saw what we were not supposed to see. As among us humans, when life appear chaotic, why not add some slack to our judgement?

As I want to be judged as I am when I am at my best, why is it so difficult to allow that grace in my judgement of others? Why not wait for the tides to roll back?

 

IMG_3315 tidepool life 7januar

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.

IMG_7416 (1280x853)

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?

IMG_7370 (1280x853)

Be the rain

At Tindevegen, driving to Bergen

At Tindevegen, driving to Bergen

We were having coffee after dinner, it was May. I was going to Bergen on a business trip and was googling for a hotel. As usual I was distracted. “Guess who is coming to Bergen?” I asked Stig who was seriously studying something important and was not able to shift into quiz mode before I gave him the answer: Neil Young and Crazy Horse! “We’ll go”, he said.

Glacier in the mountains

Glacier in the mountains

A month later he said, did you buy those tickets? I had not, but immediately saw the solution to luxury problem number one, what to give him for his birthday. ( It’s not really a problem to have a guy you want to give gifts to and even have the means to do it, is it?) Some minutes later I was done, Happy birthday! I said. Well, Neil was playing on the 1st and Stig’s birthday is some days later, but who cares! I reserved rooms in a nice hotel too ( as Stig and his buddies would have been happy camping, and I’m not).

Lærdalstunnelen, at 24.51 km, the longest road tunnel in the world

Lærdalstunnelen, at 24.51 km, the longest road tunnel in the world

Thinking of buddies, do you think our rock loving friends will go? I added. “Of course, we’ll go together”, he said instantly. Just some texting later the loose plans were laid. We were indeed going together, in some way or another, and we all wanted both concert, sightseeing, adventures and comfort.

Lærdalsøyri, still blooming after the fire this January

Lærdalsøyri, still blooming after the fire this January

Another month later we met for planning. We ordered one night’s stay at an old farm in Voss. We decided which way to go. We decided where to meet for lunch the first day, for the rest we were going to wing it. And we did! In between frequent stops, where all of us “oohed and awed”, Stig and my friend talked and me and her husband were taking pictures.Lots of pictures! Then we met for coffee at a place we thought would be delicious, found out it was all but, and went on to find a fairytale village.

The first night we were disappointed, an old grey barn, rain and nobody about. Then we entered and were enchanted, Store Ringheim is a tiny hotel with only six rooms, but deliciously decorated and beautifully situated. I was so happy that I spent most of the tasty breakfast taking pictures. Until I discovered I had taken video of a set of old plates. Not all movies manages to be so at the point as this one does!

Voss

Voss

Next morning we moved on towards Bergen. Stig and me stopped to enjoy the knit wear factories along the route. At Oleana they make my favorite cardigans, based on old, norwegian embroidery and weaving patterns.What a treat! I could talk to everyone, feel the yarns, browse the patterns and marvel at the colors.

Oleana, of course I bought something...

Oleana, of course I bought something…

Then Bergen, I’ll write a travel post from that lovely town another time. This saturday it was all crowded with people enjoying the sunshine and looking forward to the concert. Warm, sunny skies. Then the “Waterboys” were on and the rain. Of course Neil Young  had to start with “Be the rain”, and we were…every part and particle of every person soaked and drenched in rain, thunder, rock’n roll and companionship. Say no more!

Bergen, with us, without rain

Bergen, with us, without rain

If you ever want a spectacular drive through the wildest part of Norway, I’ll give you my highlights, even if I think you’ll have just as much fun by just starting to drive and see where the road takes you. Even, and perhaps mostly so, when you have to be the rain!

going back, along the Hardanger fjord

going back, along the Hardanger fjord

The story without a moral

Searching for the cafe at Ringsaker

Searching for the cafe at Ringsaker

Sometimes we have a point to share when sharing our journey through life. At other times, writing is just the joy of remembering, of living through joy and adventure once more. To be shared, of course, but with no moral to it, no indexing, sorting, couching, or any wisdom at all included, just joy.

So this is how the pointless story without any message goes:

” I am going to visit Kristin this summer”, I told Stig in May,” are you coming too?”

“Of course, I’d love that” he says, picturing hikes in the mountains, on the glaciers and in the woods, which is one of the things our friend loves to do.

Some weeks later, he probably feels there has been to little checking on equipment, comparing routes and discussing alternatives. ” Actually, what are the plans for our visit?” he asks.

No tough girl activities planned at all, I can see that he is not happy, and simultaneously we arrive to the same conclusion. He’ll bring the Harley, I’ll bring the dog, and that’s how we went.

Going down to the lake Mjøsa from Hovinsholm

Going down to the lake Mjøsa from Hovinsholm

His stories about the rides in the fierce thunderstorm, at the highest altitudes and the worst roads, the most glorious views and the warmest day ever, are his to tell. Happy trails!

We, Kristin and me, went for rides that would have driven anybody but us crazy. It goes like this: “there should be a lovely cafe here, really? let’s turn around! Oh it’s not here, it’s over there,can we go there? I am not sure, let’s try, oops that was not the right place…did you see those colors!” And then we stop, park the car at the roadside, and takes pictures, stroll along a curvy lane or get soaked in a shower while picking sunflowers.

Stopping for pictures at Helgøya

Stopping for pictures at Helgøya

Then we have coffee, and of course more coffee if another nice place turns up, and then there are honesty stalls with raspberries, interesting people to chat with and the most amazing stories to be told.

Sunflowers to pick, the sign reads "knife on the box"

Sunflowers to pick, the sign reads “knife on the box”

Then we set off searching for a cute store selling exceptional dresses, and we find it! Except it is closed…but we do find the store selling pure linen dish rags, and are happy buying them!

Perfect break at Skafferiet

Perfect break at Skafferiet

Another day we do the lovely ride and short hike to an old restored small-holding high in the hills, the gallery, cafe and home of Egil Thorin Næsheim.

The "outdoor" kitchen at Snekkerstua

The “outdoor” kitchen at Snekkerstua

Pancakes with rhubarb jam in a mountain garden, the dog curled at our feet, the sun smiling.

Snekkerstua, the Næsheim gallery

Snekkerstua, the Næsheim gallery

Later that day we go to another mountain farm, called Ro, or Peace.
No words can catch the buzzing bees, the smell of thyme, the soft grey green of the apples ripeneing on the wall. Then there was coffee served from a copper kettle, with hot cinnamon rolls to go with it.

Coffee, served the peaceful way at "Ro"

Coffee, served the peaceful way at “Ro”

Even so, the best treat, Lina, the creator of the garden pulled up a chair and sat down with us, telling us about her visions, dreams and work.

Kristin and Lina at Kulturstua Ro

Kristin and Lina at Kulturstua Ro

Days do not often come better than these! And then we went home, to Kristin and her mother at the charming, old, small farm, and made the day even better, with nice long meals, raspberries and cream, more talking, more sharing.
Just a couple of days, and Kristin went back to work, we loaded the bike and went back home, full of adventures and pictures to share with each other, and shared memories of a treasured visit with a dear friend.

The living room at Snekkerstua

The living room at Snekkerstua

 

 

Viking ways

IMG_5834 (1280x853)This is how I felt today, crowded. By things I should do, by things I would have loved to be doing, by things I have to do, by things I never will come around to do. In short, from where I stand the only calm person to be seen is the viking surveying his town, sword in hand. I have to admit, if a slashing, sword-swinging bout of action could clear my lists, I would do it. As you can see, I am not in a position to do that. I took the picture while wheeling my heavy laden bike through the market of my town Trondheim, the only way to get going was by carefully weaving my way, stopping, waiting, smiling, not hurrying. I had one item to buy at the market, my summer breakfast favorite, honey cake, and kept going.

IMG_5838 (1280x853)

But wait, I had the best clutter-clearing, worry-killing, task-quitting weapon at my side. Invisible to you, I was walking with a dear, wise and kind friend, Anita. We were heading home after coffee in town. Slowly we worked and talked, shared and sorted through big and small. Halfway we stopped for another coffee with waffles, kept talking, kept laughing, and suddenly we were home. I was ready to tackle my crowd.

IMG_5842 (1280x853)Then I saw it, the crowd was not an illusion. I had tried to make lists like some of my friends do, I even had bought a sweet blue notebook for it. They just add everything as they think of it, and handle it when they get to it, one item at the time. It did not work for me at all, the tasks felt like a swarm of bees or a crowd of vendors crying for my attention.

IMG_5841 (1280x853)I had to sort, not only by talking and sharing. I still and forever is the indexy type. Admitting for the long lists, I found four bigger index cards, still honouring my thought that what I do should be the four cornerstones of my life. Still knowing  the fact that more than that is simply too much. I sorted my tasks, divided them on the cards and are on my way to conquer them. Grouped like that I see what I do as part of a bigger picture and an ongoing life, not as irritating tasks that keep me from living.

No viking way of getting it done, no way to conquer and subdue for ever. As in life, if its is worth doing, keep at it. If not, let it go! And by all means, have some waffles with a friend while deciding! By the way, I did not find my cake, so instead I’ll find my grandmothers recipe book and make one myself, even if it is not on any card.

IMG_5829 (1280x878)

 

Thirst by Mary Oliver

Pat always shares poems or quotes that gives me a new insight, while also resonating with something in my soul. Is that not always so, we can only understand the answer if the question already lives in our heart.

OPreach

The pond God has given us The pond God has given us


Another morning and I wake with thirst

for the goodness I do not have.
I walk
out to the pond and all the way God has


given us such beautiful lessons.
Oh Lord,
I was never a quick scholar but sulked


and hunched over my books past the hour

and the bell; grant me, in your mercy,
a little more time.

Love for the earth
and love for you are having such a long


conversation in my heart.
Who knows what
will finally happen or where I will be sent,


yet already I have given a great many things

away, expecting to be told to pack nothing,

except the prayers which, with this thirst,

I am slowy learning.



— Mary Oliver, Thirst,
  Beacon Press, Boston, 2006, pp. 1, 52, 69

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