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

 

Shake it off and let it go

ruffy rister seg, sept 2014

Blessed are the peacemakers, Jesus said. I remember that far too well, trying to ease conflicts, smoothing over disagreements, making amendments, giving way.

Peace is not equal to absence of sound. Conflicts not heard as words will still be felt as sorrow, rage, and pain. Not peace at all.

I talked this over with a psychiatrist friend this summer. Sometimes peace can only be made by getting out, not by giving in, she said. Even to us “good girls” who wants to be liked by everybody, who wants to make peace, there are situations and relations where quitting is the only solution.

Perhaps the peacemaking needs to be balanced by some other commands?

One could be :If they do not accept you, shake the dust off your feet and move on, as Jesus also told his disciples.

The most important: Love yourself as you love your neighbor, sometimes means, shake it off and move on.

Perhaps advent could be a time for shaking our furs and letting go? To fight and to make peace, but only where we do it from the heart of our souls, and where there is a will to work together for peace. Never to make peace by quenching what we believe in, by silencing the voice of our hearts.

As usual, I will be blogging on our advent blog, julefryd (Christmas Joy) until Christmas. This is the fifth year my brother Trygve and me share our advent thoughts together. We’ll see you there! I’ll be back on Indexyourlife after Christmas.

Happy advent and Christmas to all!

How does your heart sound?

sommerfugl med gresstråI was having an ultra sound of my heart last week. As I biked down to the hospital and were feeling well, I did not expect anything to be the matter. Just a follow-up to search for scars of the adventures of last fall. Even so, being examined, on a table, with all kinds of equipments attached to my body, makes me attentive. What if there is something to find, and they overlook it?

I felt myself stretching my mind and ears to listen, to know. I did not hear anything, at least not the pitter-patter of a tiny heart. Then I realized, for the first time I had an ultrasound where I was not supposed to listen for a baby’s heartbeat. Only then did I hear that my own heart had been swishing and swooshing healthily along all the time. For the first time in my life I literally listened to my heart.

If that took some getting used to, what with the heartbeat of our souls? As I biked on into town I wondered, how do we make ourselves attentive, to listen, and to alter the course when the core of our being is not in rhythm? Most of our life, it is, sometimes though we are so busy listening for, adjusting to, and taking care of the hearts of everybody else, that nobody is left to listen for us, and why should they? If we can take care of others, should we not be able to take care of ourselves?

Ultimately, to me happiness is found in community, in serving, in togetherness. I also know that my responsibility is to serve where I do not make myself a martyr, but where the joy of my heart wells forth. Swishing and swooshing. I’ll be listening for that.

gjemt bak engel

The happy blues of new worries

bjørkeskogI am exceptionally good at spotting a worry. I am not a master of letting go of my worries though.

Last Sunday we were hiking the mountains around our cabin. The intense sunshine made the Monkshood flowers sparkle like agate on the hillside. As I walked on I wondered, as they are so beautiful, so plentiful, and totally dominating the alpine meadows, how could I not have dozens of photos of them?

sau og lamThen an ewe stopped in the middle of the path, her little lamb hiding ( and having some milk) behind her, and suddenly I knew. As the monkshood, or wolf’s bane, are extremely poisonous, I have eyed them as potential dangers, protecting my children, worrying.

I almost laughed as I realized how many years I have been walking these woods since our kids needed that kind of guidance. Still, I had not taken time to de-clutter my bag of worries!

Tyrihjlm og gjevilvatnetAs cliffs, as waves, as dark woods and lonely walks – not my worry any more, they can handle it.

Which sets me free to marvel at the colors, to be amazed at the canyons, to be impressed by the force of the ocean, to enjoy the enchanted dark forests, all for my self.

KorsknappOur Sunday walk became a treasure hunt for the other happy dots of blues coloring the woods, my Sunday pondering made me think, what other outdated worries or problems keep me from seeing the blessings and beauty in my everyday walk?

And then of course, the son who does not run after a ball into the street anymore, now rides a Harley..

Someone said that worries grow with the children. I’d better not carry any useless worries around then. Come to think of it, perhaps they all are?

Tyrihjelm

 

What did you love?

Renndølsetra 7There comes a time to most of us, at forty five? Fifty? We seem bewildered in our own lifes, and do not seem to recognize the landscape we are in as the one we set out to find.

Which could be good, life is full of surprises. Even immovable and unsurpassable mountains turn out to have secret doors.

If you find yourself hammering at this mountain trying all the sesam-sesams you are able to imagine while no one works, you might see a coach or read a “Your dream will become true” book.

They will both ask you to remember: “what did you love to do as a kid, what do this love tell you about who you are?”

liten solveig med kanneMost of us are not able to pinpoint the passion of our youth though, we loved a lot of things. I, for instance, loved to sit in the windowsill of my room, watch the roaming fields and read, as well as building playhouses in the woods and running tracks. I would not want to make either into a living.

Perhaps we are blind to the truth all around us? I need to turn this question upside down. Instead of starting the hunt for loves and likes and happiness, I stop now and then and see what I have been doing, even if I had no time for it. What my soul is drawn to and need to do, then I make room for thatstjerneskjerm

Then I take a step back now and then and consider the output of what I have done and what I haven’t done, what did I learn to do it better next time? I have found that the answer to middle age confusion is not necessarily to do something else, but to know the essence of what you do and why.

hvit peonI think the road to middle age wisdom is to learn the lessons from the road we have travelled, and know how to apply our understanding and wisdom to every task, every challenge, every opportunity  life gives us. Mostly.  If we are on the wrong road, no amount of putting mind and soul to the task will set us right. It would be bad though if we actually are on track, but so busy comparing gear and GPS readings that we never get around to enjoy it.

hvit alliumI tried this exercise in my garden today. I already know I need to be there, though I was not really aware of what I have been doing all these years.

Now I know. I have been planting white plants. I have taken care that the sunlight gets to play through the petalshvit rose I have given every flower room to grow and thrive. I have been steadily and unvaryingly watering, tending and working to create place for joy asolveig med vannkannand peace. Hopefully that is what I do wherever else I am too.

And yes I love it, still.

Weeding like a viking or for a king?

irisMy favorite way of weeding is to dig everything up, sifting the soil and replanting the plants I want. I call it the viking way. No dithering, no delicate fingers carefully picking tender unwanted shoots.

My favorite way of cleaning a room is to take as much as possible our of it, scrubbing every nook and cranny, and sort thoroughly through what comes back in side.

My favorite way of improving myself is grand plans, I will never… I will always….from now on. As a kid I ate no sugar for a year, just to prove I could, you get the picture?

peonknoppThen I heard the King’s gardener giving advice on how he weeded the king’s gardens. His main rule was, green things need light to grow. Or: if weeds do not get light, they will not grow. The second rule was, focus on what your favorites need to grow, and give them that. That could be to remove weeds, it could be to mulch, to support or to cut down, to divide and to renew.

If you look for weeds to weed, weeds is what you see. You could stay in your garden the whole day and see nothing but weeds.

Perhaps that is true for life too? Do we look at what is wrong? Do we concentrate on what should be changed or on what we have power to strengthen and let grow? Could my life’s garden be more enjoyable if I just cut away the weeds above ground, and start looking for flowers and fruit, even while I weed?

kobberkjelI tried that when cleaning at the cabin this weekend. Instead of grumbling about to few cupboards, muttering about plans for an annex or another room, I looked around for the things I really liked. Then I made them shine and look their best. The old copper coffee pot, the huge copper pan that we use for firewood, all the candlesticks. For an hour I polished cherished memories incorporated in lovely things, at night I could se the flames from the fireside reflected all over our lovely, perfectly clean, just big enough, little cabin.

Our vacation will soon be over, I am tempted to make rigorous plans for all the things I am to achieve this term. Until now my normal approach would be to do all chores on my list, try to make everyone happy, and then hope for some time for my own projects. Weeding away every disturbance, before I enjoy the flowers.

My new plan is to be so absorbed by the blooms that I neither see the weeds or hear the complains.

From now on, I will be weeding as for a king!

blomsterknopp

How to look at weeds..

flyttefotI weed.
Weeds of course, dandelions mostly.
Flowers even, forget-me-nots mainly.

I weed clutter too, things crowding  my life.
I weed my lists every day, by crossing out all the tasks done, by deleting and adding.

I weed my mind too. By making lists of the most mundane details, just so I do not have to remember them.

I keep weeding to make room for the life I want to live, the work I want to do, the love and the values I want to cherish, I may weed and weed, and then the day will be gone, I will go to bed with a clean desk and mind and wake to a new day that presents itself readily cluttered and I might start weeding again.

blå blomstOn that track a whole life could be spent getting ready to live. Even if every thing was in it’s place, there is everything else. Our bodies, careers, relationships, we could always find something that is weaker than it should be, worse than our friends, far from our wishes.Willing or not, most of us weed, we even encourage and admire each other for it. Until we see only weeds, habits to be changed and goals to be reached. Why have flowers at all, isn’t it much easier to weed without them?

There are of course weeds that we should not allow in our lifes. The secret of gardening though is to plant and nourish what will thrive in the given circumstances. The plants that will grow stronger than the weeds.

Or, could it be that my garden would flourish if I turned all the energy spent on weeding, to mulching, tending, digging, nourishing and being amazed and grateful for the beauty, colors, smells and wonders of all my flowers in the middle of the weeds?

Could it even be that my life would suit me more, if the energy spent on getting ready to do, finding time to go, decluttering to find space to be, organizing to make room to create, were turned into just living, reading, writing, creating?

We visited Sofia this spring, guess what, the flowerbeds, the lawns, the woods, were full of dandelions and forget-me-nots, making the perfect backdrop for myriads of tulips.

I might try that!

forglemegei 27.04

 

New beginnings?

For some reason New Year is the time for resolutions. “I am going to do this, or I’ll stop doing that” To me it is the most important de-cluttering, habits grow on us, and could make us settle in routines that will not take us where we want to go. What puzzles me is how we tend to adopt popular resolutions, and allow other people’s goals  be our defeats. Why should any article in any magazine know what I should focus on this year?

Dawn at the first day at the new year

Dawn at the first day at the new year

It is quite simple really, nothing can grow from nothing, a failure to deliver on prescribed goals may not be my failure, but an attempt to force nothing to grow. Magazines and even self-help books do not know which fruits  can grow when the seeds of my abilities and limitations interact with the people, challenges and tasks that I will meet during this year.

If my life is a garden, the perennials need weeding and dividing, the fruit trees need cutting back, and the flowerbeds are spiffed up with new seeds. I do not expect any apples,even if my neighbor will have them, as I have no apple trees. I do not wait for roses where my daffodils are, and I am experienced enough to know that dirt, water and sunlight are as important as the toil and fertilizer I will add.

New beginnings

New beginnings

I also know that some seeds may wait in the ground for years before they start growing. Nothing new has been added, only the possible beginnings have been given room.

My new year garden will have this plan, give room for growth and expect to be surprised by the seeds sprouting in your garden. Perhaps allowing other people or accepted standards to define my goals is not taking charge of my life, but avoiding taking responsibility?

 

Driving in LA

IMG_1680 trafikklysYou will not be able to drive in LA, it’s the craziest traffic, our friends in the Midwest told us, just as we were going to move to California.

I believed them. The first week I got my CA drivers license. Did I go anywhere? Hardly. Half a mile for groceries doesn’t count does it?

The first month I gradually drove further afield. All the way staying away from the highway, taking the very scenic route for everything.

Then one morning I was going to the doctor’s office, and I could not find it. I drove in circles, the GPS insisted I was close by, I was getting late, and suddenly I was on my way onto the highway. I stopped.

Then a police officer on a motorbike drove up on my left side. He stopped too, leaned over, and said, very quietly :You may go now….

And I did. I still did not go into LA though.

Until the last week of our stay. My husband was driving down to have  his Harley shipped and I took the car to pick him up. And suddenly I was driving alone in LA. The tarmac was just like any other paving. The signs were the same as the rest of the state, the cars behaved like cars all over the world. The sun was shining, I had the top down, and I was driving through LA. I even arrived at the shipping company way before my husband did.

I keep telling myself that story. Never let others define what you can do or not. At least give it a try! And I’ll let you in on a secret, a lot of others were driving in LA, and they do it every day….

Now, when a whisper tell me it can’t be done, at least not by me, I get my LA cup, have a sip of coffee and just go for it. You can see me on the cup can’t you!

IMG_7579 LA cup