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?

 

What do you hold on to?

IMG_3617 one valueTwo and a half years ago a man was facing the world press, holding on to his integrity and a yellow post-it-note.

Last Tuesday this note  brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart.
A yellow piece of paper, crumpled, with three words:

dignified, calm, honest

I was listening, as the norwegian attorney of law, Geir Lippestad, shared how this note helped him through the hardest task any defender has had in Norway since the second world war. He defended the killer in the massacres on the 22nd of July 2011.

He told us how he did not want to.

The police called early in the morning of the 23rd and told him that the suspect had asked for Lippestad as his defender, that more bombs and more assassins were ready for action, and that the suspect would not explain  himself until he had a defender.

But why should and how could anyone defend a person that in cold blood had killed 77 people? Who would be able to listen to a person that had assassinated 69 youths? Lippestad did not see himself as that person. His decision was made in spite of what he wanted to do. Until then,his reason for being a lawyer was his belief that democracy depended on equality for the law. Until then,his core belief as a man was the dignity and intrinsic value of every human being.
It still had to be, it still was, it still is, this belief made him say yes.

After hours talking to the offender he made a break and was asked to meet the world press gathering outside the police station.

This is when he tells us about the yellow note.
“Before facing them I had to collect myself,” he said. Then he went on to tell how he sat down outside the interrogation room, trying to sort out how to present the case to the press, reassessing to himself what values he wanted to come through.

His challenge: to convey the why of his defense without condoning the why of the act.

He knew this was the start of a long process where everything he would do had the purpose of making sure that equality for the law was true in our society. He could not give in, neither to his own nor the nation’s despair.

How should he present the case, how should he answer to make that stay true? This is when he knew that whatever he said and did he had to stay calm, that what he said should be honest and true, and most of all that he should front the dignity belonging to every human being.

He scribbled three words on his post-it-note, “verdig, rolig, ærlig.” He clutched it in his hand and held on to his principles. The note stayed in his pockets for six months. Again and again he had to remind himself. Again and again he and his partners held each other accountable to these values, to this note.

IMG_3831LippestadI would not have been moved to tears if this man had told us that holding on to truth was easy. It was not and it is not. Even profiled lawyers need to keep themselves accountable to their values. Even grown men may need something to hold on to. What fills my heart with joy is that they did.

What fills my heart with strength and hope is that if someone could do this when weak and afraid, so can I, so can we.

What would you hold on to?

IMG_3811fyrtårn

Just today

IMG_3776My great-grandfather built a house. When his wife died my grandparents moved in with their three girls and took care of him. Which was what they did. No matter what setting, no matter what challenge, they always was awake to the calling to serve, to be present for a fellow human being. They did not talk about mindfulness. They did not dream up grand plans to happen one day, later. They just lived.

When you entered their home, the first thing you would see in the hallway was this embroidered saying. When you left their home, the last thing you would see when adjusting your hair or hat in the mirror was this saying on the wall over the mirror.

Yesterday is done,
tomorrow is still to come,
but today, today the Lord is your helper.

This was the memento I wanted most from their home, and as you see I keep it in my study. So that I wont disappear in all the musing and dreaming I am apt to do, but come back to earth, to here and now.

Perhaps, sometime when worrying how to understand or bear or handle what is to come, or when mulling over whatever was, we should just try to be where life is, just here, just now?

Rotten fish and black stars

January in Trondheim

January in Trondheim, the river is frozen

Did you ever go to sunday school? I did. Every time we brought our attendance card, either with a picture of a nativity scene or the disciples trying to catch fish. At the end we got a golden star in the blue sky or a silver fish in the empty net. Just for showing up, listening to exciting stories, doing crafts and having buns and lemonade, I loved it.

We did not get stickers in school, as my kids did, but I was blessed with teachers that wrote encouraging comments for the slightest effort. Which made me want to do better, to improve.
I am on Instagram and on Facebook, and of course I “like” most pictures my friends post, if I see them. I praise and comment, and love it when someone remarks on my doings or postings.
I hand out verbal golden stars to friends and family, just because it makes life nicer to be nice.

I know that. I have known that since I was a small girl, jumping along the road in the early sunday morning with my card in the red song book. I do better when I get praised. I do not do better if somebody yells at me or is disappointed. I would have stopped going at once if the sunday school teacher for instance put stickers of rotten fish for every no- show, or blackened a star for every giggle or joke.

The thing is they did not,  I do that to my self. Peter Drucker wrote a lovely little book called “Managing yourself”, which is all about understanding your own mode of learning and achieving. I know that I sometimes act contrary to my own knowledge. Instead of giving myself credit for what I have done, I let the undone “smell” like a rotten fish. Instead of allowing myself a small dance in the glow of a star of accomplishment, I diminish my achievement by comparing to others.

I know it is not wise, I know it drains energy and actually is quite silly.

So, as I like to consider myself wise, energetic and just a little bit silly I have devised my own “attendance card” for this year. First I have to tell you that I am experimenting with going back to paper calendars and that we have numerous trivial chores waiting for us. Upkeep, maintenance, chores that did not go away when we went away for a year.

This is how my calendar is filled with stars. After some worrying I discovered that four categories were most crucial; paper, clothes, things, garden. January became the “show up for paper” month. Every day  I have been clearing, shredding, filing for an hour, I jot a mark in the calendar. I am not done, but as of today I have seven golden hours of attending my papers. I am going there! And then there is all the small goals of exercise, eating healthy, going to bed early and so on, I thrive when I pat my self on the shoulder and comment on the good works done.

As it is the 26th I could also blame myself for 19 days of no attendance, but who could concentrate with nineteen rotten fish on their desk?

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!

Breath in, breath out

IMG_3290What if?

A lady, well I have to admit she was a blonde, as I am, walked into the hair dresser’s wearing big ear phones. The stylist told her, politely of course, to take them off.
“I am so sorry, but I can not cut your hair while you are wearing those.”He said.
“Well, I have to keep them on, you see I die if I remove them!” She answered.
The stylist just laughed,” That’s a good one, of course you have to take them off!”

She kept insisting that she would die, and he kept insisting she was fooling him. In the end  the stylist lost his temper and tore the headphones off her.

And as she had said, she fell lifeless to the floor.

Filled with fear and curiosity the stylist put the headphone to his own ear and heard the crucial message:

“Breath In, breath out”

I have much fun and fresh thoughts reading D:s blog on her way to perfection  

Check her blog and read what she says about a simple life! To me, that is the point with lists and organizing. Not to remember all the details, but to get an overview and to remove the details and focus on the really basic all important stuff.

Frozen? A place for everyone?

IMG_3679To say that Norway is colder than Southern California is a no-brainer.
To me, that grew up in a valley where school in winter meant no recess if the temperature dropped beyond -40 F, it should at least be no surprise.

Even so I, I had “forgotten” how much energy, ingenuity, thinking and hard work goes into just going from A to B, when the world is icy, cold, dark and frozen.  You do not just zip out for an errand, you plan. You do not just go for a drive, you prepare.

This is a shared handicap for all and easy to spot as we wobble and glide on the icy streets. We manage, somehow. And we expect each other to manage. Which is how it has to be, I guess. There are tools, there are clothes.

But what about the icy conditions that do not show? What about the demands we make of each other without understanding the extra effort it sometimes takes to accomplish the smallest task?

No one has to go hungry in Norway, but a lot of people go without being allowed to take part in what builds society. You will hardly find anybody with a severe disability doing ordinary tasks. It will always be part of some program or other, together with others with challenges. No one will pack your groceries. No one will sweep the parking lot.  Does a society that delivers in extreme conditions become hard and unforgiving? Does a community of achievers make it harder for those with less credits to achieve anything?

I do not know. We do take care of each other in Norway. At times though, we are better at making an official survival program than acknowledging the quirky individual survival kits each of us has patched together.

Walk in the light

IMG_3295 walk in light 8 januarOn New Year’s Eve I was sitting on the bluff in Goleta, looking out at the Pacific, taking a deep breath and knowing that this, the ocean, is what I will miss most. Just to be there, be silent, to realign, re-prioritize. Just then I saw another new year’s wanderer step into the light of the setting sun, and I was reminded of my everlasting life resolution and the most untangling tool of them all.On our wedding day my grandmother said; my only advice for a happy and peaceful marriage is to walk in the light, that is she said :

to never let the sun set on your anger
to be willing to ask for forgiveness
to live openly and truthfully

To allow the light of God and your fellow beings enlighten you

Happy light wanderings!

Get going

IMG_2522new start 15 januarEven the most daunting project has to be started to be finished.

I walked along Nevsky Prospect after a nice cappuccino on the Singer Cafe, thinking of all the things I would have to do to get my next project going.

As I passed the neglected, dirty, old cathedral that was closed for upcoming restoration I saw two guys in front of me. They carried some lumber and a couple of buckets and placed them on the steps of the church. I do not understand Russian, but from their faces, and from the way they straightened their backs and brushed dust of their hands I knew they thought the work was well underway now, they had started had they not? As I had seen other glorious and completed restoration projects, I am sure they were right!

I have been thinking of that these last days, small steps in the right direction always take you closer to your goal than just thinking about the big steps that has to be taken.

This last year I have been pondering on what to call my new firm, I had not concluded, and made a much bigger problem of it than it really is. I guess I have asked at least ten friends what they think. Every time I thought up something neat, it was already taken.

Today I had a meeting with the bank to set up the business accounts and had to set the name. Small, but necessary steps. In the right direction, so now I will straighten my back, light the fire in the fireplace and tell myself that this was a good start.

The name? From now on all strategy, couching and consulting work will be done through SolVei Inc, I told you it was a small step didn’t I!

Late

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.