I did not get to play

I was four, going alone to a birthday party for the first time. New dress, pleated hair with white ribbons, white tights and shiny shoes, I could hardly wait for the party to start. Half an hour later I was back home, went straight into my room and started to play with my building blocks. What happened? My parents were worried, they kept asking for some days,and I still did not answer. 


Half a year later I was building with my blocks again, in another town, another house, living next to other people. Then I looked up at my mother and said quite calmly, “I did not get to play with her toys”. It took some seconds before anyone knew what I was referring to, they all had forgotten.

These days, I am getting closer to my answer on this year’s puzzling question: what did you do and why? So many people say that when they learn that I have had a serious illness and surgery this spring. I have made some polite and correct answers, as I am no longer four. I know though that only recently am I getting closer to understand my own reactions. I needed months to be able to reflect on and not only live through this troublesome times. I am still me, I act fast and think slow.


I have learned, again, that when in trouble I still return to my basic building blocks. I have come to see that what I do when a crisis looms is who I really are. These are the tools I have sharpened in good, untroubled, sunny days which gives me rest, joy and strength in stormy times. 

So what did I do? The first night I went into a new bookstore, and came home with soothing titles and lovely stories. Strangely enough I did not start reading though, I just put them in the bag I planned to take to hospital. 

I need reading like I need air.

Then I bought the most beautiful notebook, for the next weeks I made notes of every song I was reminded of, every Bible word I read that was special to me.

I need a comforting blanket of blessings, ready to wrap around my soul in the days I know will be hard.

It was still February, and I filled my window with spring flowers.

 I was worried I would not see another spring, and knew I had to make one myself to believe in growth and new life.


I bought the loveliest blue and white China I know.I have wished for it since we got married 35 years ago, but always made myself think they were too expensive.

I know my heart leaps when I see something beautiful, I need to let my heart rejoice in every beauty given us in this world.

I sorted through all my fabrics, and made ready kits for all the ideas I have postponed. 

I know I have to create something to be happy.

I sorted through and shredded the content of rows upon rows of binders.

I had to make room for new things to happen.


I saved all cards and greetings, and took photos of all the flowers my dear ones sent me.

I knew I needed to be reminded of the outpouring of love and comfort I was given.

I made orange marmalade and lemon curd. I made homemade bread.

I know how I truly relax when putting my feet up, sharing a meal with someone dear to me.


I stayed close to my husband, talking and wondering, sharing information, cherishing memories.


I tried to think of a letter to write to my children, and found one should never postpone saying how much we love each other. Everything else is just words.

This is who I am, these are the tools I am given and know how to use, and I did.

Why? When life was threatened, I did not need to do what I had not done, I needed to reassure myself that I have had a life filled with the grace of God, the love of my family and friends, the gift of beauty and the joy of creating.

I am healing, I have been given new possibilities. I am stronger and happier than ever. I know I did get to play after all.

Advertisements

Shake it off and let it go

ruffy rister seg, sept 2014

Blessed are the peacemakers, Jesus said. I remember that far too well, trying to ease conflicts, smoothing over disagreements, making amendments, giving way.

Peace is not equal to absence of sound. Conflicts not heard as words will still be felt as sorrow, rage, and pain. Not peace at all.

I talked this over with a psychiatrist friend this summer. Sometimes peace can only be made by getting out, not by giving in, she said. Even to us “good girls” who wants to be liked by everybody, who wants to make peace, there are situations and relations where quitting is the only solution.

Perhaps the peacemaking needs to be balanced by some other commands?

One could be :If they do not accept you, shake the dust off your feet and move on, as Jesus also told his disciples.

The most important: Love yourself as you love your neighbor, sometimes means, shake it off and move on.

Perhaps advent could be a time for shaking our furs and letting go? To fight and to make peace, but only where we do it from the heart of our souls, and where there is a will to work together for peace. Never to make peace by quenching what we believe in, by silencing the voice of our hearts.

As usual, I will be blogging on our advent blog, julefryd (Christmas Joy) until Christmas. This is the fifth year my brother Trygve and me share our advent thoughts together. We’ll see you there! I’ll be back on Indexyourlife after Christmas.

Happy advent and Christmas to all!

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!

 

 

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.

image

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

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.

IMG_5838 (1280x853)

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.

IMG_5829 (1280x878)

 

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.