The crooked path to truth

IMG_3781We arrive at the mall, and head for the entrance.

For some reason I am always there first, my friend last, and every time she is just as surprised as last time. And no, it is not because I want to go there most. The secret is that I am easily distracted by small things, though never from my goal. She is never distracted by anything, she just waits for it to pass. So I dart here and there, avoid cars and people and weave my way towards my goal. While she stops and waits when somebody gets in her way, never wavering a yard from her true path.

It does not really matter of course, who comes first to a mall. I do try to apply my whimsical walks to other paths of life though.

What if I, discussing truth, life, death, the big questions, am so sure of the right path and just forces my way to my chosen solution?

What if I, not heeding any hinders, just insists on what the best course is?

Or, what happens in real life, when we stop the considering other people as hindering us from our set path, and see each other as our only way of discovering our true path?


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!

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.

To start, start

IMG_4056 sleep

I said: “do nothing”, I did not say “do not ever do anything”. In a real crisis, we need to consider, to stop and think, before we do anything, as the next step is crucial.

On the other hand, to keep doing nothing, will not only keep you in the middle of the mess, it will also make you a victim, not a responsible adult.

To keep doing nothing will also make most people depressed and tired. Even to keep mulling over your situation, to keep organizing and sorting, to keep asking and praying, to keep walking and talking it over, will not take you anywhere. It will point you in a direction, but to go there, you have to start going. One day we have to stop practicing for life, to rest to be able to handle life, to discuss how it all could be, and just start living.

Even if it means backtracking a couple of steps. Even if it means admitting we were wrong. Even if it means starting afresh. If you just realized you were going in the wrong direction, you will actually get closer to where you want to be if you turn around and go back.

And by all means, remember to sleep, but start going.

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?

All pictures in this blog are taken by me, Solveig Mjolsnes. This cute sleeping koala lives in the San Fransisco Zoo.

Well started is not finished

IMG_3124 start“If you begin well, you  are halfway there”

This old norwegian saying may be true, but half way is not there. And where is there exactly? Even if we have very set goals and achieve them by jumping from stone to stone and organizing our time, ourselves and our values, do we really want to have arrived? Before dying that is?

At the end of the nineteenth century Otto von Bismarck introduced a set retirement age and pension in Germany. If you worked until 70, the state would take care of you. With a life expectancy at 40 years, that was hardly too generous. As we know, it is different now. We tend to discuss that as an economic challenge. The cost is not in money though. What does it do to a society that expects it inhabitants to contribute only a third of their life? Where did the idea come from that if you are not a salary worker anymore your life is yours to waste?

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?

 All pictures in this blog are taken by me, Solveig Mjolsnes. This is a stone stair made by three norwegian brothers 70 years ago to make it easier to take their cattle up to their mountain farm.

Thank you friday


I was to go back to Norway for a meeting and was ordering tickets. Oh now, I will miss thanksgiving! I tried, but as there were no flights out of San Fransisco, I arrived there midday yesterday and spent five hours at the airport. Since we lived in Indiana I have loved thanksgiving, and we celebrate it every year. The first year with a box full of goodies sent to us in Norway from Steve and Susan!

Think of that, a holiday for giving thanks! As I do not have all the emotional strings attached to how and when and who, I also love the home cooked traditional fare. If you do not care which sides and pies you cook, cooking a turkey is a lot easier than say a barbecue. In short, I did not want to miss thanksgiving, even if it seemed I had too.

Did I miss thanksgiving? Not at all. What I did was being allowed to experience even more of the things I am thankful for and love about America.

It started in Oslo. While passing through our headquarters on my way to the meeting I saw four dressed up people eagerly waiting for to be picked up. Why? They were invited to the American Embassy for a big thanksgiving dinner. Not a publicity stunt, but as a true thank you for the way this non-profit contributes to the Norwegian and the world community.

Thank you, America, for the times you show us how to appreciate charity and volunteers!

Then I landed in San Fransisco. Everyone greeted me, and I them, with happy holidays. And of course I thanked them for their service. That is another thing I appreciate here. I see people thank any teacher they meet for their service. I see people bake cookies for the fire brigade and hand out gifts for their mailman. Just to say thank you, we know we need each other.

Thank you, America, for the times you show us that making a society takes everybody!

Then, as I was sitting on the not too comfy chairs, so tired I hardly could keep my head up, I was awakened by a familiar, enticing smell and tingling laughter. Two airport workers were going down the corridors, each carrying a roasted turkey, and surrounded by lots of others, carrying drinks and sides. As they passed me, I heard a woman say to a young hispanic boy. “Now you won’t be that sorry that you miss thanksgiving with your family!” They were so close that  I could hear his answer. “You at the airport is the only family I’ve got.”

Thank you, America, for the times you take care of the fatherless and those in need!

Then, as I was sitting there, my husband and daughter were having a really special thanksgiving party with our new-found friends in Santa Barbara. Included in the family circle, enjoying themselves immensely, and sent home with left overs for me to have when I come home.

Thank you, Dale and Steve, for showing us America at the best. The country that reaches out, includes, and creates a new community. We are grateful.

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?

All pictures in this blog are taken by me, Solveig Mjolsnes. This is a house of an old farm in Norway. A story which will be told later!

Call your mother


Our third child was seriously ill, and I were in the hospital with him. My husband was at home with the two others, and were supposed to do his dissertation the same week. Then my mother-in-law called. How is everything? She asked, expecting the usual stories of the funny things the children did and said. My husband told her, how everything was, really. I am coming, she said. And she did. Shooed him off to the office and took care of everything else than his PhD work.
The thing was we had not thought of asking her, because she never had done something like that before. I think that even those of us who try to be adults as soon as possible, should realize that it is not defeat to tell somebody how it really is. Most of all it is not defeat to admit to our parents that this situation needs more adults than we are. Some parents will come to the rescue.

Then again, some will not.

When our life is in tangles this is also often a part of the package. The wounds and disappointments,or for some the direct cruelty that would make it out of the question to ask for help from a parent. Still we all need to deal with that. If calling a parent is not a tool, then it could very well be part of the tangle. Then that has to be dealt with, perhaps with professional help.

The result could be to engage or create groups of adults that support each other. Not necessarily as friends, but as the ” mother” who comes to the rescue, or the father who supports.

Even if, as me, you do not have a mother anymore, I call my mother often. Not for real of course, but as a way of keeping in touch with the legacy she left. Sometimes it takes forgiving on my part, she was human after all, sometimes it opens up for new ways of seeing things. It always gives me the peace to keep looking for another way, to keep looking for the “logical” solution, as she often said.

The rocker in the corner? That is my great grandfathers, the best place to connect, to rethink and to realize that if they could so can I.

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?

All pictures in this blog are taken by me, Solveig Mjolsnes.

Call a friend

IMG_1681We are still figuring out what untangling tools we think help us best when life is tangled. Even if I list the ten best steps, I do not think they have to be steps on the same ladder. At times, life looks different after a night’s sleep. Then sleep wa the tool you needed. There even are times when everything turns out for the best if we just are able to wait a little bit and not making the mess worse by pulling all the strings we see. Then nothing was the tool you needed.

Even if there was a ten step plan I do not think it would be the same for everyone. I do think most of us should have “call a friend” on our list, I also think we could evaluate when we do that. I respect my close friends too much to use them as scetching boards. I respect my own experience and the responsibility I have over my own life too much to not use it. Even so , calling a friend is not so much about solutions as it is about confirming the “we and us”. Most of us have friends that look at us as humans, while we ourselves tend to think we should be superhumans. Isn’t that often the case when life gets too much? We just are dissapointed in our selves for not being able to handle it all? For not having foresight to understand what would happen, for not being able to keep everybody happy? A friend will tell me both that I am OK and that I should put my act together as I have handled worse before. Most of all a friend stays with you, no matter what.

Alas, friends like that are hard to come by. To find a kindred spirit is a gift that we do not receive in every setting we are in.
That is the time for writing your best friend a letter, and then read it. You will be surprised how wise you are! Then it could be the time for writing a blog. Actually being your own best friend is not a second best, it is the only way of knowing how to be a friend to others.

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?

All pictures in this blog are taken by me, Solveig Mjolsnes. This one has is taken at my dear friend Britt Arnhilds house, I”ll tell the story later! Have a look at her blog!

Organize your values

IMG_0573We were discussing value creating boards in class. What actually is the difference between tangible and intangible values?  We agreed on this definition:
“Tangible values are diminished when used, intangible values have to be in use to have any value.”
To me that is not true only in business. I even think that what I value most, will guide my decisions both in business and in my private life. Even if words like “ethical, just, respect” looks nice on a strategy document or when describing my values, they are not of any value if they are not used. At times they even look false, as the values I actually use signals something else.

To come to a place in life when everything seems tossed and tangled is the perfect time to take another look on your values. You could of course go through your valuables too, but my guess is that if they have governed your life so far, you are at this cross roads because you are not satisfied with that.

Have you ever stated your core values? Make a list of what is most important to you, see what guides your action, see what you have forgotten to be. My experience that this is the most powerful untangling tool of all. Do not decide what you are going to do, remind yourself of which values are so important to you that you are not willing to give them up. Then act on that, be true to your intangible values. Make them strong by living by them, make your self strong by being true to what you know to be true.

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?

All pictures in this blog are taken by me, Solveig Mjolsnes.

Organize your time

IMG_1566How would my book of hours look like?

Time management is often presented as a tool to be able to do all the things you have to do in a given time. More often than not it is what your board or boss demands of you. You have to organize your time.The stress is on time.

I think the stress should be on your.

If you have to work for someone else to be able to pay your bills, it is still your life, and your time. Even when someone buys that amount of hours to fill it with their tasks, it is still you doing it. To organize your time in that setting is to make sure you are stewarding that time as wisely as anything else somebody has paid you to look after. I have met many woman who feel entangled in the demands of others, without realizing that they themselves are responsible of spending their time or standing up for themselves if it is impossible to do what is demanded.

Then of course you may be so lucky to be paid to do something that you know will make the world a better place. The investment you make is a part of your life, you  are the one to decide if that investment is going to give a positive return or not. Of course that  goes for voluntary work to, you do not give that for free. Nothing can buy your time back, be sure to spend it as wise as possible, not grudgingly and sparingly, but where it will be of best use to the cause you are giving it to. I have met many women entangled in the snares of volunteering. No matter what needs you are surrounded with you are the one to decide how much time to give. If you are into volunteering for getting praise from others you are in for taking on more than you can manage. I do think we are all to do as much as possible to create a better world together. I also believe that no one should think themselves above any honest task.

Just remember God knows that he gave each day and night 24 hours. He created you with the need of food and sleep. The tasks he gives you will fill your life, but not more than that.

Even so the most important place for time management and organizing your time is when you have nothing to do.
First of all because that never is true, there is always someone you could do something for, even if you  are not able to think of what you can do for yourself.

Second because it still is not true. If it is your life, it is your time, no matter how little money, acknowledgement or recognition the use of that time gives you. Perhaps you will never again be given time that you can manage to fill you life to the fullest of what makes life valuable to you. Perhaps now, with no external demand on your time, is the time for you to take time for reflection and re-assessing your true values. No matter what, it won’t happen if you stay in bed. It won’t happen if you just keep busy either.

Even when you feel your life to be a mess with neither tail nor end. Even if the horizon you see for your life is stretching endlessly into the same grey cloud, the best tool you can apply is structure. If only to get up in the morning and get dressed. Take regular meals and regular walks. Go to bed at night. If you ever had the opportunity to try it on a child for a week, you know how it works wonders. If you try it on yourself, you could even discover that there is just the right amount of hours in your day. To organize your life, is not really about your things, it is about you time, your life.

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?

All pictures in this blog are taken by me, Solveig Mjolsnes. This is the astronomical clock in the Cathedral in Lund, Sweden