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.


Ninehundred and twenty, a sobering thought on stuff

Los Angeles stuff

Los Angeles stuff

I hate to drive, in traffic that is. I love to drive on tranquil mountain roads, with no one about and where I can turn over and take pictures wherever I want to.

I hate noise too. I love to sit peacefully in my car and have hours for thinking, singing, praying and talking to myself. So if there was a way to go from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles without seeing other cars, without hearing other noises, in peace, I would do it, at once. As it is, it isn’t.

So I drove down to Gardena yesterday to pick up my husband who was taking his motorcycle down to have it shipped to Norway. As I was there I handed in the papers for our household goods too, and sat down with my diary while waiting for him.

I guess it was the time and place that induced these sobering thoughts in my mind. I was going to ship 20 boxes, what we had accumulated this year. When we lived in Indiana it was 32, from the Netherlands it was also more than thirty.

When we married 32 years ago, we had next to nothing, well perhaps 10 boxes each. I remember sitting on one of them looking around in our empty apartment when the doorbell rang. Our first-floor neighbor had seen what we carried into the house and told us there was a stove we could have in the basement, if we wanted to. It worked fine, then we got an old sofa and we were good. For a while. We are not spendthrifts, but things keep being needed. Allowing for 10 boxes for the four children and ten each for Stig and me, it would add up to 920 boxes over these years, at this pace. Of course neither cars, motorcycles,beds,stoves nor sofas stay in their boxes, but you get the picture, a continuous stream of stuff.

To be taken care of, washed, polished, mended, looked after, moved and replaced, and to be used, 920 boxes or thereabout. Even worse, if I literrally boxed it all, and placed it on a big floor, the air would be filled with items fluttering and flying from box to box or just playing around. As we kept the big stuff out of this equation, one could easily say that each 6 cubic feet box had 50 things in it. Which in short would say that we are trying to find our way among 4600 items moving more or less aimlessly about.

The truth is still some boxes apart from this nightmare, and yet…even if I keep recycling, reusing, giving away and take care, it all boils down to this:
I hate to drive as the traffic is so heavy, and I pay people to add to the traffic by moving my boxes, by buying, by having it made.
I love silence, but make somebody else suffer traffic noises and add to them so that I can have my stuff.
Somewhere and somehow this does not add up.

Seems there are room for many new year’s resolutions, I just need some peace to think it through. Perhaps I should go for a drive?

life without stuff?

life without stuff?

Who’s there?

These last weeks have been weeks of extreme tides, King Tides. It happens when the orbit of the moon, the pull of the water, the equinox of the sun, the tilt of the earth all work together at their most extreme. Thanks to Linda, who told me about this, I have been wandering and marveling in the low tides for days.

At the average tides, I can sit on the shore and watch dolphins, whales, seals and pelicans. Now, they are further out, but I get to see why they love to roam close to shore. Teeming myriads of sea anemones, sea urchins, cliffs covered in shell and schools of tiny fish. But only at the extreme stress of king tides.

Perhaps it is like that for humans too? At times of extreme stress, the tiny, but vital and real motivators come out in the light. We are on the edge of a tide now, with moving overseas, with me establishing my new firm, with my husband getting back to work, and all other obligations that needs to be handled.

We are doing fine though. I think part of it is because we have learned through 30 years together that these periods of transition is just that. Not who we are, or want to be, but who we are when we are vulnerable, exposed and really out of our element. As with the tide pools. What we see are not meant to be seen, what we see are life forms struggling for their life, gasping in the air, longing for water. Fascinating, yet to be treated with utmost care.

The lesson of the tide pool will be my New Year Resolution this year. Not only to go with the flow, but to look for who we are when  we are at our best, to forgive, to understand. But most of all, to marvel at the resilience and the amount of stress we are able to go through… long as the water will flow back, life returns to normal, and the tide will stay within its limits, one day.

IMG_3354 tidepool wide 7januar

On the tenth day of Christmas

IMG_1125 3.januar

One day at the time
Tomorrow may never be mine

Listen as Tennesee Ernie Ford puts our new years resolutions in perspective, not really a Christmas song, but a simple tune for every day.

Over Christmas I will share the words of my favorite Christmas songs and my favorite winter pictures.
All pictures at Indexyourlife are mine, if not otherwise stated.

On the ninth day of Christmas

IMG_1104 2.januar

This Flow’r whose fragrance tender with sweetness fill the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor The darkness everywhere.

True Man yet very God;
From sin and death he saves us and lightens every load

Stay quiet and listen while Tuva Syvertsen sings “Det hev ei rose sprunge” or “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming”

Over Christmas I will share the words of my favorite Christmas songs and my favorite winter pictures.
All pictures at Indexyourlife are mine, if not otherwise stated.

On the sixth day of Christmas

IMG_3163 30 desember

Soft the drowsy hours are creeping
Hill and vale in slumber sleeping

I my loving vigil keeping
all through the night.

Listen to “All through the night” sung by Aled Jones

Over Christmas I will share the words of my favorite Christmas songs and my favorite winter pictures.
All pictures at Indexyourlife are mine, if not otherwise stated.

On the fifth day of Christmas

IMG_3230 27. desember

O sing, choir of angels,
Sing in exultation,
sing all that hear in heaven God’s holy word.
give to our father glory in the highest;
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Listen to the boy’s choir at the Nidaros Cathedral sing and see the video of them performing at the Sverresborg Museum.

Over Christmas I will share the words of my favorite Christmas songs and my favorite winter pictures.

On the first day of Christmas

IMG_2804 mistletoe2

Joy to the world

The Lord is come

Let earth receive her King!

Let every heart prepare Him room

and heaven and nature sing.

Over Christmas I share my favorite Christmas carols and some winter pictures I love.
All pictures at Indexyourlife are mine, if not otherwise stated.

December15th – me first

IMG_1517laceThe day was lingering in the hour between dark and light. Some faint pink shimmer of sunshine could be seen. Even inside we could feel the frost that was covering every surface in unbelievable crystals. There was no snow.
I was clearing away the dishes after breakfast and our three children were playing quietly on the floor. I caught a glimpse of the rising sun between the big fir trees on the other side of the field.
Then I knew it had to be now, the woods were pulling me to share the morning magic.
For once I just left the dirty dishes and hurried to bundle the kids and me in warm clothes. As none of them was in school and I was at home, they were used to long and lazy mornings and had never been outside this early. It was an adventure. I knew it would be warming up later in the day, so what we had to do had to be done now.
We ventured in among the pines, along the paths which soon would be covered in snow, on the trails that were not normally passable with three small kids and a baby buggy.
IMG_0158 ladesteWe were looking for puddles covered in ice, transformed to jewels by the slanted rays.
We were crashing the ice, laughing at the spindly, glassy, smashing sound.
We were showing each other twigs made of diamonds and stone made of ice.
Then we went home, finished our work and had cocoa and buns for lunch.
It was all for me. I shared and enjoyed with my kids, but frankly, even if they jumped and laughed and had so much fun while it lasted, none of them remembers this day as anything special now.
To me it was what I had to do, and a morning that still glitters in my memory. 
To me the basic rule about having a true joyful Christmas free of tangles is not about forgetting oneself, but to remember to include oneself among the ones worthy of love. Even at Christmastime it is “love your neighbor as yourself” not instead of yourself.IMG_0195 strå
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.


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

There is no time for killing trolls

Kick sleds for kick starts

Kick sleds for kick starts

The time is never right for killing trolls, my great-grandmother used to say, even so they had to be killed.
I think she wanted us to learn that we might as well get the unpleasant chores over with. There was no use waiting for the right mood neither for doing the dishes nor our homework.
Life is more complicated though, the trolls does not only come to stay, they gang up on us. We all know that, no crisis arrives alone. Very seldom are we allowed the luxury of dealing with one difficulty at the time. Most often they are all entangled in each other and becomes the many-headed troll in the norse fairy tales.
The only funny thing about it is that it surprises us.
Even stranger is the fact that the most entangling times are the ones that return at the same time every year and still we are not prepared.
Well how prepared could you be? I remember one day weeks before Christmas a neighbor came sailing at her usual speed into the store where we were waiting in line. “That’s that then” she proclaimed, and continued “The tree is done, the food is ready, the gifts are wrapped, I am all set.” She looked triumphantly at us slackers. The shop-keeper was not impressed “why not do Easter while you are at it?”

She probably considered it a good idea. At least that is how most of us live, always preparing for the future, doing so much work to avoid tangles later. The thing is though that no matter what we prepare for we are not sages and what we visualize is an ideal event, which is not always what happens. We plan as if the Christmas dinner is the only thing in life that week, and seem to forget life itself. I know. This is one of the basics I have learned through a life of lists.

Just too much?

Just too much?

If I can not be prepared for everything that will happen, why not prepare for the things I know will come? Isn’t that a contradiction? To me it isn’t. It is all about using my energy on getting the basic routines to function.
One of them is food. As we know there will be trolls to kill, even at the happiest of times. We also know that the strength to do that will not come from party food or appetizers. No matter how well-coordinated they are to the given holiday. And even if they have to do, they will not do if the person who is exhausted by making them also is supposed to be the troll-slayer.

So these are my not-so-secret tools for being a happy hostess, as ready to handle tangles and trolls as possible:

1. Know, plan and stock up on the healthy basics everybody, and most of all you, needs to function.
For me? If I have whole-wheat bread, coffee,granola and yoghurt, orange juice and eggs, I am in luxury heaven. Without, I am sluggish and tired no matter how many croissants or left over turkey-sandwiches I am offered. All those items can be bought now and stored.

2. Be prepared for life to continue as usual.
Why should anyone have to rush out for detergent, toilet paper or tooth paste on the night before Christmas?
3. Kill of the small trolls ahead of time.
Do it at once. Schedule bills to be paid, arrange for flowers to be delivered, order and pick up tickets now.
4. Weed out the really tiny troll sprouts today, and they will not have time to grow before Thanksgiving or Christmas.
What is that? Could be to check, replace and stock on light bulbs all over your house. Count towels and plates and all the other stuff you will need, restock.
5.Know your plans and obligations, more is not merrier. Back out now if you have too much, so that they will have time to find replacements.
6. Make room.
Holidays fill your home with stuff. It needs places to go. If a total declutter event is too much, clear or toss an item every time you wait for something. When decorating, do the spots that are not in regular use, life needs space too!

7. Remember, all holidays are made to make us cherish, remember and celebrate what is important to us, our family, our culture or the faith we belong to. How would I prepare a holiday  that made that true, still?

Trees inside? Perfect for hiding.

Trees inside? Perfect for hiding.

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.