The worry dolls- an untangling post on sleeping

The pictures were taken, finally

The pictures were taken, finally

Just to make everything “easy” on ourselves we had scheduled an outdoor photo session for the whole family, in the same week that we were painting our house. If you really think that sounds easy you have to consider that the location was in Trondheim, in august, when it normally rains. We were all to be pictured in our national costumes which takes time to put on. Then our housepainter had left the job half done, as it was impossible to finish it when it was raining all the time. Our garden was ruined by the big scaffolding he had left in our flower beds the whole wet summer, and of course, the house had to be painted, impossible or not. Which meant the job was going to be an involuntary character-building exercise for the whole family.

At times like this, when I feel the day really does not have enough hours, when I really need to sleep to be able to do anything- then I feel like I am hovering in the air above the bed, never able to sink into the refreshing sleep that I need. It is not that the tasks are impossible, I just keep going over my game plans, rearranging and thinking it through. Never quite believing that it will all add up to a day well spent, which is my goal everyday.

So it kept raining, every time it stopped we ran out to paint. The deal was that the photographer should also call the next time it did not rain and she was able to make it. Just to complicate it all, we wanted the shots to be taken in the woods, not near her studio. The first time she called we were able to change from overalls to national costumes and be at the spot in two hours. We arrived  just as the photographer came, and just as it started to rain again. We waited for a while, overcast is actually a very good light for portraits, but not rainstorms. No luck. The next day we were quicker, even so I had to do some extra breathing exercises to look as if if strolling through the woods in my best finery was my favorite pass time, any day. We managed, she got great pictures. The kids cooperated on the experimental shots she wanted to do for an exhibition, we all were happy, but quite worn out. Not she though, she was just laughing.

The day I picked up the pictures had also been hectic, she was still calm while she talked to the customer in front of me. Then I saw that she had a bowl with tiny woven dolls on her desk. They did not look neither as toys or collectibles, I had to ask, “what’s the thing with the dolls?”
“Oh, them, they take care of my worries so I don’t forget them,'” she said,” It is my Mexican worry dolls, at night I tell a worry to each of them, then I put them in a small bag, and stuff it under my pillow. It is very relaxing, I never worry that I forget to worry about the things I should be worried about anymore!”

To me that’s often it, to be able to sleep I have to know that my worries are taken care of. It works to write a list. It also works to mention each in a prayer, often prayer is just that. It is not God that needs to be reminded of all the things we are worried about, it is I who need the reminder that he knows. The dolls were cute though, and they never loose a worry.

In November I take part in the NaNoBloMo not 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.


The table of fellowship- an untangling post on eating

IMG_0860lagunaIt is not always the big problems that weighs me down. The saying “don’t sweat the small stuff” do not really take into account that a bag filled with pebbles is as heavy as the same bag filled with one stone. Actually, if it is only one stone, it is easy to spot. It is easy to ask for help heaving it out of the bag, and it is easy to have everyone understand that this stone is too heavy to carry. So a pebble called “make reservations” or ‘file these bills”  looks like tasks one should be able to handle, and definitely not ones that calls for sympathy. Even so, life’s tangles are often made up of countless simple tasks that can not be bundled or done in a logical sequence. When done there is no value added, nothing has been produced. The only effect is that chaos has been avoided one more day so that hopefully, tomorrow will be the day when the big stuff can be done.

I know, prioritize, delegate, sort and simplify. Yes, I do that. Even so, some days ago, I was quite unexpectedly blue and sad. All those mundane tasks had became too much and threatened to make me feel nothing I did was worth doing. As it filled my whole week, the next thought could be, nothing I ever did was worth doing. I left my pebbles on our bed though, quite literally. The bed is the best place to sort all those piles, and I had done that, I just had to do what each pile of papers asked for. Resolutely I paper clipped each pile with a note on top on what it was all about. Then I went out. Instead of skipping lunch to get it all done, I biked over to the university and joined my husband for lunch. Not even an hour, no deep conversation, just a burger, just belonging.

Almost every day now I get mail from different charities that are setting up Thanksgiving dinners for the lonely and homeless. Surprisingly small amounts will make them able to supply the traditional meal. In Norway Christmas Eve is the night most people fear to spend alone. Again it is not enough to set up a place, the essence is to sit down at a table, together and to have the expected food. If you say, I was alone at Christmas, everyone else will feel guilty that they did not invite you.

It is so much more than a meal, it is about belonging.
At home, my husband and me often feel the need to call our kids when we are having a meal, that is when we miss them most. When friends come over we want to feed them, or at least give them something to drink.
In both Christianity and Judaism the meal is a sacred place for fellowship. The food itself takes on a ritual character even if it is not very advanced or costly food, bread and wine, the basics.

This weekend we will have dear friends to stay. Even if there are lots of things to do and places we could go, what we look forward to most is the long meals with the long conversations. Time to dwell, together.

Why? My unscientific opinion is that when we take time to eat together, to share the resources and not fight over them, to allow each of us the same position around the table, we know deep in our soul that we belong together. We will meet diversities and problems as a unit, not as individuals. A shared meal tells us, we are not alone.

IMG_3634 picnicSo should the untangling tool be to set up a big dinner or plan a family reunion? Would not that just add another thread in your tangle? It would. You need people though!
I just talked to a woman who is mentor to students that need extra encouragement. What did she do? Meet them for ice-cream, and let them talk. Could you do that? Just text a friend and meet for coffee, soon? You do not need to mention your problems, you do not need to ask for advice, what you do need, is to know that we are meant to be in this life together. Or could you offer that to someone else? It is all about fellowship, to know that neither of us should have to be alone. Your tangle will not disappear. Your life will not get less complicated. If you are lucky you will get another perspective on it all, you will get a reminder of what is important to you. If you are really blessed you will have been able to laugh together and tell each other, this too will pass.

In November I take part in the NaNoBloMo not 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. These are from the Laguna at the UCSB and from the traditional 17.May picnic for Norwegian Americans.

Quite ordinary holiness

IMG_6675 bare jordeI was searching for something to listen to while driving, a warm and quiet voice got my attention. “I think we hide the holiness of life in all the trappings we think is necessary,’he said. I did not get his name, but I have thought a lot of what he said.

“If you feel life is too much to handle”, he said, “start with the basics”

He went on to talk about bread and prayer.

Try to scale back, do not think about complicated meals, nourishment plans, vitamins and diets. Do not think about how every meal should be different, appetizing and pleasing.
Just place yourself together with most of this worlds population, start with your daily bread. Have a slice,or tear of a bite, eat so as not to be hungry.
Give thanks that this day also you will not starve. Realize that most of all, food is about being alive in the holiness of life, for another day. Everything else is an abundance and a God given gift, but not necessary to survive.

Then be just as simple when it comes to your spiritual life. If the Lord taught us a prayer, and told us this was how our communication with our Creator was meant to be, why do we need it to be more?
There could be other spiritual gifts and more to be had through mediation, through serving, through fellowship. “Most of us will never need more than the Lord’s prayer though,” he continued. I almost felt offended, who was he to know, if I want the luxury edition, why should I not have it?
He went on, “as most of us need a lifetime to truly rest in the trust, the forgiveness, the vast opportunities and the golden promises, in the holiness of the ordinary that is given us through this prayer.”

The most sustainable and rewarding untangling tool of them all turns out to be the easiest, just stay simple in the quite ordinary holiness of your daily bread, but eat it!