What you do is who you are

A couple of times every year I see A Weird Person in the mirror, she has a mix between a lampshade and a crow’s nest on her head and looks very surprised at what she sees. That is when I call the hairdresser and tell her I need to cut my hair, now.

Even so, having got an appointment early yesterday morning, I was running late because I was doing the beds and tidying up the kitchen.

frossen bilComing out I discovered that my car was ready for a part in Dr. Zhivago, being transformed from black to pearly, glittering, frosty magic. How beautiful! I went inside for may camera before removing the ice. Then I saw the rubies in our rose hip hedge, I was so happy, and of course had to grab some shots. As I did I felt my whole being filled with wonder and joy, as I often do when I stop and stay in the moment of something beautiful.

rubinnype 2I was late for my appointment of course, which is bad, because others will be kept waiting too. I apologized and settled for a lovely talk with the sweet hairdresser who loves dogs, nature and christmas as I do.

Soon my hair was done. I was back in my garden just in time to catch the sun as it was raising, turning the hedge into gold filigree.

gullhekkOf course, we tend to think bigger when we try to define ourselves. I know for sure that I want to be a person that does good deeds, that take part in building a better world. I find the truth is that any “big deed” consists of tiny, everyday choices, that adds up to a life. What we do show our true priorities, even when our schedule tells us something else is important.

The challenge, to me at least, is to create a life where the things I just have to do, no matter how “busy” I am supposed to be, add up to something making life better for all of us. At least as long as I do not have to put getting my hair done as my top priority.

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The happy corner of my eye

imageI posted this picture of the truth on Instagram. It is the view from my bed. What I did not mention that if I looked the other way, this is what I see.

imageAnd of course I did not tell you that if I just look straight ahead, where the loud noice and serious action is, the coming picture is the true view.image

The first picture is the truth about me though, and what I look for. This last week I have been in hospital with embolisms in my lungs. The serious condition tries to crowd my mind and vision like the rescue helicopter commands my view. I do not allow it though. I accept it, I handle it, I do what I have to do, but I keep looking for the happy corner of the picture. The glimpse of beauty and love that tells me, this too is true.

The pulsating, vibrant fall colors that insists, we are all dying, take care that you live with love, truth and beauty before you do.

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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

Do you really care?

2014-07-31 at 04-59-58I was tired, coming into my hotel late at night, the hotel who has big signs all over their walls saying “We care”.
I was walking through endless corridors where slogans, like “you are finally here”, were painted on the floor.
I stumbled into my room, to discover that it was stuffy, tiny and dark.
I went to open the window, and looked straight into a corridor.
I tried to adjust the air-condition, but there was none.
I did not even sit down at the minuscule desk while I called the reception. I was right, there was no way to adjust the airflow, and there was no other room to be had. The receptionist was kind and tried to be helpful,but he could do nothing. I did not even think it was funny when I saw the folder announcing the values of this chain, “with energy, courage and enthusiasm, we create a better world.” I sat down to search for another hotel nearby, one where you could breath, one with two sockets so you could recharge both the phone and the computer, one where you could walk around the bed without getting stuck. I had to give in. No rooms to be had, and I was too tired to  go out for dinner, so I just went to bed. Bad night.

2014-07-31 at 05-08-53Next morning I had a cold and a headache when I went down for breakfast. As I passed the front desk, the receptionist called me. “I am so sorry I could not help you last night, thanks for being so patient” and “I’ll find you something better tonight”. And he did, and I slept well, and I had a nice chat with him, and I guess I’ll stay there again. I can not help but wonder though, how much nicer it would have been if the building, the technical installations, and the very booking system showed that they really cared? The people were doing their best, but the bricks and stones got in the way for their very best. Sometimes we have to do with what we got, but why would you give your employees a bad hand just to make it harder to make something good?

I ended up having a good time. I was cared for.
Thanks to the people who were not only repeating slogans but trying to live them.

The pictures are from the old church at Lom, the true test on integrity, to do what we say we believe.

The hotel made it in the end, so I will not tell you where it was. I’d rather question myself: where, when, how or even if, do I do what I say I will do?

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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.

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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?

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Content of being content

IMG_6499 (1280x853)There’s a fountain in our garden, the drops form a triad of continuous music, one drop that hits the water, one that hits the grass and one that hits the paving stones keep playing together.

There’s a wind-chime in our copper-beech. Six carefully baritone tuned pipes sounds softly, one after another.

There’s a dog under the birch-tree. Snoring the midday heat away.

IMG_6467 (1280x853)There’s a charming husband high in our cherry tree, collecting everything out of my reach.

There’s a pick up truck in our yard as our oldest son arrives with more sugar for the cherry jam.

In the middle of this am I. Standing at a garden table, tanning my back in the sun, pitting cherries. Bucket after bucket.

I am content. I am happy.

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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.

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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.

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Feeding the boys

IMG_4577 (1280x853)One sunday evening, more than 60 years ago, my grandparents went to chapel, as they did every sunday. Church in the morning and chapel in the evening. Except this sunday they were surprised to see some young soldiers attending. We’re glad you have found time to join us, they told the young boys. We would come every sunday if we could, they answered. So why can you not? They was almost ashamed to admit the truth, having to walk the sixteen kilometers made them so hungry that it was extra hard to miss the evening meal in camp. No  buses, no cafe and no meal from noon to next morning, hard.

I am sure my grandmother laughed and was surprised that this could be a problem. Of course you’ll join us for supper!

And of course you are welcome to do so every sunday, and of course you may bring your friends! And they did. From then on a steady flow of sandwiches, kringle, coffee and lemonade sustained young soldiers, year after year. My mother and her sisters grew up having lots of big “brothers” from all over the country. When my parents took over this service, I grew up having lots of big “brothers” to play with. And my gran kept baking kringle, sending them by the bus in the morning, so my mother could keep up feeding the boys.

IMG_4581 (1280x853)Some weeks ago, my aunt gave me my grandmothers recipe book. As many housewives of her day she had a year training at a household academy, and carefully wrote down everything they were taught. Through all her years these were the only recipes she used. As for me, I have several shelves of books on cooking, as well as her kringle recipe. I have her coffee sets, as well as several others. I have a much bigger house. I have much more money. Neither of that will bring the blessings my grandmothers suppers brought.

To me, I pray for the wisdom to leave the big plans, and just do the small service in front of me, with a laugh, with an open heart, one step and one kringle at the time.

 

When life hands you lemons- take a nap!

IMG_4456 (1280x815)I thought I were getting wiser, and in theory I am.

So here’s the history and the lesson it tries to offer: I have always had way more ideas than anyone can fulfill in a lifetime. Sometimes I try share my ideas with others, and sometimes I just try harder. I also have way more energy in my soul than in my body, having had my share of ill health through the years, but never giving in, always planning for something. I used to say, I’ll be ill on friday, or next week, or whenever I had a gap in my schedule. I tell myself it is because I want to fulfill my obligations, while in truth I guess I want people to admire what I am able to do.

Through the years I have had countless reminders that life does not work that way. If my body gets loud enough for me to hear it, I should have listened a long time ago.

So, I thought I had learned that. When life is too much, it just is! There is only so much decluttering and reorganisation I can do, if I forget to sleep and rest, no amount of neat drawers can keep me healthy. Or any of us, for that matter. Perhaps all decluttering should start with getting to bed at a set time and rising at a set time, and then see if life doesn’t change?

Just now, with a bad cough, and plane tickets for tomorrow, I am still working on that lesson. Perhaps I should have known as much on friday already? I wanted a nap, I needed a nap, and then I found 10 lemons in the fridge. If I were not going to be at home, they would be wasted. So I made my favorite, lemon curd.

I am wondering though if I really think I am worth less than two pounds of lemons? I’ll have a nap and rethink that.

 

What you do not find, is still there

Hidden threats

Hidden threats

After dinner I went back to the business lounge to finish my report for the day. I was very comfortable, in a red velvety wing chair, with a cup of steaming coffee and my iPad. But I was not hidden.

In comes a group of business people. They occupy the next table, get coffee and open their laptops. At first I do not listen to their strategies, they are planning how to present their added value to their client next day, which is what business is always about. Even when one of them says  to the young and aspiring one ” remember added value is not supposed to cost us anything”, I am not surprised. He does continue though,” it is all about giving them something that is understood by their customers as added value, when in truth it they are not given what they pay for.” This makes me listen.

I am still not hidden, I am not eavesdropping, as this experienced executive is sitting a yard away from me, talking loud and clear.

Rotten is rotten, even if the view is nice

Rotten is rotten, even if the view is nice

Then they compare their notes and slides and statistics, concluding that their best chance of closing the deal is to present their business client with an IT system that hides as many consumer rights as possible. The consumer that orders something through this site will then give up before discovering their legal rights. The consumer is not cheated, as the truth is still there. As an added bonus, this program could also make the order appear as it was processed at an earlier date than it was, thus giving the customer less time to file his claim. They even discussed the possibility of selling things the customer could not possibly use, as connecting flights before your first flight has landed, and then keep some of the fare. They did not go there though, not to protect the customer, but  it was not really legal, or was it?

I was still not hiding, there was no way they could not see me, smell my coffee or hear me drinking it. Even so, they did not think their plans was worth hiding.

I did not discover what firm this was, except that they were americans. I do not know who they were meeting the next day. I slowly discovered a chilling truth though, I think they did not bother to hide, because they thought every business person would think like them. They were not divulging secrets, but showing off their business acumen.They knew their client, and knew the possibility of holding truth and rights away from their customers was indeed added value.

I was not impressed, and even if I was not hiding I do not think they realized that I left. By then they were too busy toasting to the success of tomorrow.

What I do know though is that truth is still truth, even if it is hidden. I also know that no amount of that kind of added value will be worth the lack of trust in businesses that implements systems to cheat their customers.

In earlier days bakers added a roll to your order of a dozen, just to not risk the death penalty of selling less than paid for.

Rolls are easy to count,  but how do we count what we do not see, and do not know that we should be looking for? There is no use to blame the systems, they are all made by people like you and me. There is no use to blame the law, at least in Norway customers are protected, if they only know what to look  and ask for.

The client could refuse of course, which I hope they did. The customers could be more wary, investigating their rights and insisiting on truths, as I do. Not only for my own sake, but to stir up routines on behalf of those who do not know they may. We all could be more wary, not trusting each other. We could demand more government control, compliance systems and ethical regulations.

Or we could encourage each other to voice our concern, to make heard the stories of companies doing success by being fair, we could dare to challenge each other and hold each other accountable. Not only to a legal framework, but to the ethical choices we need to take to make the world better for everyone. It is still all about doing as you would be done to, isn’t it?