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!

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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?

 

What I forgot to tell you

IMG_0775I have my own advent calendar. No, that is not true, I have two advent calendars,if you do not count my calendar candle, that makes it three, I guess.  I am the only one in the family still childish enough to enjoy counting down to Christmas.

IMG_0313To me it does not have so much to do with expectations anymore though, it is my tool to stay present, to enjoy each day and take time to stop, reflect and pray.

The third calendar is the marked candle on my kitchen table. I light it when we are in the kitchen, for meals and for work. It’s single flame, reminds us, be here, now.

The second calendar is my music collection. For years I have collected Christmas music. Every day, when having after dinner coffee, we listen to one CD. Another reminder to take time, to listen, to be here, now. Not rushing ahead thinking of all the things that could have been done.

IMG_8333 julemarkedThe first calendar is our advent blog. My brother Trygve, and I write every day at Julefryd ,our norwegian advent blog. This is our fourth year. This year we are pondering and wondering on the theme “gifts and giving”.

As I try to calm down before Christmas, I do not write much on my other blogs during advent and Christmas, I’ll be back in 2015.

Until then, peace be with you in the holiday season and in the new year, see you!

 

Great expectations- the heart beat of Christmas

IMG_0782In april we were working like crazy to hand in a tender for a new clinic. The deadlines were looming, no breaks, little sleep and intense teamwork. In the middle of some calculations I heard myself singing Christmas carols. I was not surprised. My favorites are songs like “In the bleak Midwinter” and others with a slow, calming rhythm and with texts that places the Christmas wonder in the middle of our lives. No matter how hectic Christmas preparations may be, I hum these carols and know in my heart that it does not matter at all what you do or not do. Sooner or later Christmas will come, and I will be happy and content.

In fact Christmas never leaves my heart completely, and as I was finishing the spreadsheet in the spring sunshine, I hummed along, “Frosty snow did fall” .My song reminded me of all the times chaos has ended in cosmos and all the times we have been able to finish in time. Of course we did this time too, working through weekends and nights, but we did it, and succeeded. The new rehab clinic will open in January.

In december I write an advent blog in Norwegian together with my brother, Trygve. This year our theme is Gifts. My thinking will go along these lines, how to strain the ears of your soul to listen through the stress, through what you have to do, to who you are. Having read the books by Jan-Phillip Sender this fall, I call it listening for the heartbeat of Christmas. To me, that is the peaceful, comforting, steady pulse that makes me able to stay through real challenges. I just have to listen past the jingle bells, through to the falling snow.

I will occasionally post the texts in english too, but not every day. For those of you who want to see my photos in advent or who understand norwegian, this is the link www.julefryd.com see you there!

 

 

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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Saving for a rainy day

IMG_5627 (1280x765)Being inside, with an open window, listening to the patter of raindrops on green summery leaves.

Walking outside, like passing through layers of soft silk, feeling the warm rain drenching  and reviving my whole body.

Digging the garden, sensing the energy of every seed stretching to make the most of the moisture.

No need to save anything for rainy days, which are so full of their own blessings, even so I had done that. I had saved one task for the first rainy day, that was also a day off, and yesterday was it.

IMG_5701 (1280x853)As a true clutter quitter, organizer and striving to get orderly person, some of my treasures brought back from the States was red and green fabric boxes for my Christmas stuff. For ornaments, for wreaths, for strings of light, for wrappings.

I carried the old boxes, bags and what nots up from the basement and had the most lovely, sentimental, tearful, joyful, de-cluttering day, with the window open, the leaves rustling and the rain falling.

The rest of the family thought I was overdoing it, could it not wait until packing away the ornaments in january? It could not. My sorting days are my way of getting grounded, getting back on track, getting ready. Now, I am ready for summer, knowing that Christmas is ready to be taken down from the shelves in all its orderly glory, hopefully not on a rainy day. But if it rains….I’ll have another favorite task to handle that day in the coming December, and that’s my secret, making the most of any day, especially the rainy ones.

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A nap in time, saves nine?

IMG_4618 (1280x418)So here’s the thing, norwegians go skiing or sailing or hiking or visiting at Easter. And then they go to church, to conserts, to exhibits. In between they do crosswords or sudoko or read ( crime novels, mostly) watch tv or eat. Except me.

Since coming home from California I have been so happy doing all kinds of things to get my business started, and did not want to slow down. First a cold, then bronchitis, then pneumonia, so instead of slowing down I had to spend the last week at full stop. IMG_4600 (1280x853)

No reading, no writing, just moping at the coach waiting for some air to get down into my lungs.

Is that not often the case? I do tell my friends to take care, I do tell others that rest is essential.

I once gave a client the task of trying to do to herself what she would do for her best friend. She knew what herself in the role as her best friend needed, she felt guilty for giving it.

IMG_4610 (1280x853)What did she need? Someone to tell her to put her feet up, while fetching her a cup of soup. Why is it, that what we give without thinking to others is so hard to give ourselves?

IMG_4625 (1280x853)Today is Easter day. My big excursion was going out in the garden, considering if I should sit on the bench, taking the  pictures for this blog, and then going inside for another nap.

IMG_4622 (1280x853)And you know? Since I was in my garden last the whole world had awakened, teeming with energy and beauty, without me writing a single list, or making even a tiny plan for it to happen. To me, an allegory of the Easter Miracle, as well a reminder, nap in time!

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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?

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?