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!


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.

Ninehundred and twenty, a sobering thought on stuff

Los Angeles stuff

Los Angeles stuff

I hate to drive, in traffic that is. I love to drive on tranquil mountain roads, with no one about and where I can turn over and take pictures wherever I want to.

I hate noise too. I love to sit peacefully in my car and have hours for thinking, singing, praying and talking to myself. So if there was a way to go from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles without seeing other cars, without hearing other noises, in peace, I would do it, at once. As it is, it isn’t.

So I drove down to Gardena yesterday to pick up my husband who was taking his motorcycle down to have it shipped to Norway. As I was there I handed in the papers for our household goods too, and sat down with my diary while waiting for him.

I guess it was the time and place that induced these sobering thoughts in my mind. I was going to ship 20 boxes, what we had accumulated this year. When we lived in Indiana it was 32, from the Netherlands it was also more than thirty.

When we married 32 years ago, we had next to nothing, well perhaps 10 boxes each. I remember sitting on one of them looking around in our empty apartment when the doorbell rang. Our first-floor neighbor had seen what we carried into the house and told us there was a stove we could have in the basement, if we wanted to. It worked fine, then we got an old sofa and we were good. For a while. We are not spendthrifts, but things keep being needed. Allowing for 10 boxes for the four children and ten each for Stig and me, it would add up to 920 boxes over these years, at this pace. Of course neither cars, motorcycles,beds,stoves nor sofas stay in their boxes, but you get the picture, a continuous stream of stuff.

To be taken care of, washed, polished, mended, looked after, moved and replaced, and to be used, 920 boxes or thereabout. Even worse, if I literrally boxed it all, and placed it on a big floor, the air would be filled with items fluttering and flying from box to box or just playing around. As we kept the big stuff out of this equation, one could easily say that each 6 cubic feet box had 50 things in it. Which in short would say that we are trying to find our way among 4600 items moving more or less aimlessly about.

The truth is still some boxes apart from this nightmare, and yet…even if I keep recycling, reusing, giving away and take care, it all boils down to this:
I hate to drive as the traffic is so heavy, and I pay people to add to the traffic by moving my boxes, by buying, by having it made.
I love silence, but make somebody else suffer traffic noises and add to them so that I can have my stuff.
Somewhere and somehow this does not add up.

Seems there are room for many new year’s resolutions, I just need some peace to think it through. Perhaps I should go for a drive?

life without stuff?

life without stuff?

Who’s there?

These last weeks have been weeks of extreme tides, King Tides. It happens when the orbit of the moon, the pull of the water, the equinox of the sun, the tilt of the earth all work together at their most extreme. Thanks to Linda, who told me about this, I have been wandering and marveling in the low tides for days.

At the average tides, I can sit on the shore and watch dolphins, whales, seals and pelicans. Now, they are further out, but I get to see why they love to roam close to shore. Teeming myriads of sea anemones, sea urchins, cliffs covered in shell and schools of tiny fish. But only at the extreme stress of king tides.

Perhaps it is like that for humans too? At times of extreme stress, the tiny, but vital and real motivators come out in the light. We are on the edge of a tide now, with moving overseas, with me establishing my new firm, with my husband getting back to work, and all other obligations that needs to be handled.

We are doing fine though. I think part of it is because we have learned through 30 years together that these periods of transition is just that. Not who we are, or want to be, but who we are when we are vulnerable, exposed and really out of our element. As with the tide pools. What we see are not meant to be seen, what we see are life forms struggling for their life, gasping in the air, longing for water. Fascinating, yet to be treated with utmost care.

The lesson of the tide pool will be my New Year Resolution this year. Not only to go with the flow, but to look for who we are when  we are at our best, to forgive, to understand. But most of all, to marvel at the resilience and the amount of stress we are able to go through… long as the water will flow back, life returns to normal, and the tide will stay within its limits, one day.

IMG_3354 tidepool wide 7januar

On the tenth day of Christmas

IMG_1125 3.januar

One day at the time
Tomorrow may never be mine

Listen as Tennesee Ernie Ford puts our new years resolutions in perspective, not really a Christmas song, but a simple tune for every day.

Over Christmas I will share the words of my favorite Christmas songs and my favorite winter pictures.
All pictures at Indexyourlife are mine, if not otherwise stated.

December 24th- the everyday saints

Creche from Provence, picture by ThyThy on Wikipedia Commons

Years ago I stumbled upon a book about the Christmas tree at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Loretta Hines amazing collection of santos and angels from 17th century Italy. It is one of the things I really long to see. For it’s beauty, yes. For the size and scope, yes, that too. For the artisanship that went into creating them, oh yes, I want to see that. But most of all I’d love to see the display of ordinariness around the nativity. Italian and french nativities are not describing something out of this world, but an event just in the middle of our ordinary, everyday world.

Each figure is called a santos, a saint. More often than not the small doll is an ordinary person, going about her day to day business, and then the miracle happens. I wondered why God did not choose more fancy surroundings when he came to earth. Would it not have helped his case to be born among the well connected, those with money, influence and power? I am quite sure some of them knew the Lord, and would have been eager to help. For him as God I think he wants to make sure no human will be able to take credit for what only God can do. For him as man, for us as men, I think he wants to show us that being human is glory enough. Nothing can be added to make human life more valuable, except life itself, nothing can be taken away. He came to restore the possibility and promise in being human, not to make us angels or gods, just humans. Saints of every day.

IMG_2647 julestjerneWishing you a Christmas of joy and blessing, the next twelve days will be posts with my favorite winter pictures and Christmas songs.
All pictures at Indexyourlife are mine, if not otherwise stated.

December 23rd – the Christmas martyrs

IMG_2382 17.des lysBut Martha was busy with all the things that had to be done. She came to Jesus and said,
Lord, my sister had left ME to do ALL the work by myself.
Don’t you care?
Tell her to help me!

Martha, Martha, the Lord answered.
You are worried and upset about many things.
But only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better.
And it will not be taken away from her.

No matter what you believe, the reading for today should be this one from Luke 10:40-42.

You see we have a choice.
You are probably kinder and milder than me, I on the other hand tend to act like Martha, especially around Christmas. “Hey, I do all this to make it the best holiday ever, for everybody, and yes, I do remember why we celebrate Christmas! Come on, appreciate it, get everybody to help!”

I am sure Jesus wants us to help each other. What is more uncomfortable is that he pokes our self-made halos. Do  we dare to be quiet long enough to question our motives? Could there be just a tiny hint of self deserving martyrdom in all the busy housewifery? Are we sure what we do has any thing to do with the one thing needed? Do we dare to make new choices or do we hide behind other people’s choices and demand validation because we doubt the worth of these acts?

If what I do is worth doing I would do it no matter who recognized it, wouldn’t I?

Just asking.

Believe me, I know better than most how frantic and exhausting it is possible to make the season of peace and goodwill. The main story on Indexyourlife in December will be my way to a Christmas free of tangles.

All pictures at Indexyourlife are mine, if not otherwise stated.