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.

Faith without google

heavenly cellThe ceiling was white from sulphur deposits. The walls had nine oblong caves, big enough to lie down in, but never raise from. In between the bigger holes were numerous tiny ones. Hardly big enough to stuff the body of a child into. We were fourteen people, pressing close to the walls, around a stone slab, covered in white, with four candles burning. It was the day of All Saints. We were deep in the catacombs, in silence, taking a moment to remember.

Then our guide, a priest from the Philippines told us a story. “I had a group of students here some days ago,” he said, “and I asked them: what is faith?

In an instant all of them had their phones out, but soon had to put them down. There’s no signal, I do not know, one of them said.”

“I invite you too take the time to know what’s written in your heart, to respond to this sacred space”, he continued, “and then answer yourself: what is faith?”

We were older, we were not invited to answer out loud, we cherished the silence. Even so, who knows what we had done if only our phones had been working?1.11.15 tente lys, alle helgen

The moment to say no

FredssenterI was enjoying the afternoon sun at a street cafe just outside the Nobel Peace center in Oslo. My husband was fetching coffee. It was peaceful, I shut my eyes and enjoyed the calm, the warmth of the sun, the luxury of a leisurely afternoon.

I woke up by someone swatting with a newspaper, I looked around, and saw a woman hitting another, a gypsy beggar, with a rolled up newspaper. The gypsy woman was standing close to a couple on a neighboring table, shaking a paper-cup, not saying anything. At first I thought the attacking lady was chasing a wasp or something away from the poor woman, then I heard her: “go away, we do not like the likes of you around here!”

Instantly the couple got up, left their coffee and started to leave the cafe. “Are you leaving then?”, the indignant, paper-wielding woman said. “Oh yes, “the man said, “we do not want to be seen near the likes of you.”

This rumpled the norwegian lady, she made some grumbling noises and left too.

It was all over in a couple of seconds. I could hardly believe it had happened. But the rolled up paper was still on her table.

It was all over in a couple of seconds, the shame of it has lived with me for a week. Not as much that a fellow citizen acted on her prejudices, but that I was not quick enough. That I was not brave enough, that my values had not propelled me into action, but into bewilderment and fear. The moment to say” no” had come and gone, and I had not said anything. This time, somebody else did. What if they had not?

Just up the street we passed the Gestapo headquarters during the 2nd world war. What happens when nobody dares to be the one to say no?

Victoria terrasse

The little garden in the mountains

start innerdalenMy daughters and my husband went for a hike, and came back totally enthralled with their day. “You simply have to go, you will love it!”, they said.

And so a year went by.

Then Kristin visited from the US and we needed I nice place to go, why don’t we go where you went last year? I suggested, and so we did.

InnerdalstårnetInnerdalen has been a hub for mountaineering for more than a hundred years. Even to us, who only hiked the trails, it was breathtaking, beautiful, amazing.

We found a lodge, had lunch, poked around, took pictures, and went back. Then I found my love!

renndølsetra klesvaskAt first, I saw an old mountain farm, Renndølsetra. Cows grassing, hens walking in the tall grass, clothes on the line, a charming place where you may stay for the night, rent boats, have a meal.

Renndølsetra 6 hageWe took deep breaths, and oohed and awed as we strolled the meadows. Then I turned a corner and came upon the perfect garden. Tiny, 5×5 meters, fenced to keep the cow out, a door leading into the kitchen, a small table, a book on the table, a cat sleeping on the doorstep. No lawn, of course, vegetables, salads, herbs in raised wooden beds.

Renndølsetra 5 hageI just ached to jump the fence, pick some leaves and go help getting dinner ready….or even weed a little!

Why did I wait a year to go there?

Renndølsetra 10

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!

forglemegei 27.04

 

Chinese whispers and emerging strategies

spor ivann

If you wrote me a letter, to tell me who you are, would I recognize that person if we met?

If you were able to shadow me for a day, would you see the connection between my words and my acts?

Or do we play an internal game of chinese whispers? To me at least, what starts as a perfectly well-defined intention, might go through tiny alterations through my acts, and end up as something totally different.

målestokk

Using my Ipad for instance. I grab it to get some information on a project I really want to do, I just check the news, then Facebook, then my mail…..you know. I would tell you that it is important to set goals and focus on them, my acts will tell you that what truly is important to me is checking out what my friends are doing. Or looking for antiques at eBay or catching up with the news.

Nothing wrong with that. As in chinese whispers, the word coming out at the end more often than not is a perfectly normal word, it is just totally unrelated to the initial one. How fun it is to hear everyone saying, “I thought you said” or “really, that’s not what I heard” .The surprise is fun when playing and disappointing when living.

morgen

In business language we call these surprises an emerging strategy. We may print our strategies on glossy paper and publish them on our webpages, they still are just words. Our true strategy is the one emerging from our choices, priorities and acts.

Happily there are times when our bodies are wiser than our minds, what we do is what we really should do, and will take us to a surprising goal we will be happy to reach. The emerging strategy might be the best possible way. How would we know?

Just now I am backtracking my internal whispers, trying to recognize the first whisper. What is truly important to me, will my acts take me there? Or do the innocent, perfectly normal, diversions take me somewhere else, perhaps the place I should be?

prinsessestol

Driving in LA

IMG_1680 trafikklysYou will not be able to drive in LA, it’s the craziest traffic, our friends in the Midwest told us, just as we were going to move to California.

I believed them. The first week I got my CA drivers license. Did I go anywhere? Hardly. Half a mile for groceries doesn’t count does it?

The first month I gradually drove further afield. All the way staying away from the highway, taking the very scenic route for everything.

Then one morning I was going to the doctor’s office, and I could not find it. I drove in circles, the GPS insisted I was close by, I was getting late, and suddenly I was on my way onto the highway. I stopped.

Then a police officer on a motorbike drove up on my left side. He stopped too, leaned over, and said, very quietly :You may go now….

And I did. I still did not go into LA though.

Until the last week of our stay. My husband was driving down to have  his Harley shipped and I took the car to pick him up. And suddenly I was driving alone in LA. The tarmac was just like any other paving. The signs were the same as the rest of the state, the cars behaved like cars all over the world. The sun was shining, I had the top down, and I was driving through LA. I even arrived at the shipping company way before my husband did.

I keep telling myself that story. Never let others define what you can do or not. At least give it a try! And I’ll let you in on a secret, a lot of others were driving in LA, and they do it every day….

Now, when a whisper tell me it can’t be done, at least not by me, I get my LA cup, have a sip of coffee and just go for it. You can see me on the cup can’t you!

IMG_7579 LA cup