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.


IMG_2492 easy task 12 januarI knew it would be busy, coming back from a year of sabbatical leisure, and getting back on track. And I knew there would not be time for pictures and much writing, so I picked pictures from our travels in Russia and choose the words I knew would be my personal challenges when I came home.  I knew myself too well, I had of course planned to write something along with these pictures, for two days now the posts have been posted as they were with no thoughts attached. Which is perhaps the truest description of these days, no thoughts, just settling, organizing, arranging and doing.

I have one thought though. To keep my energy from fluttering in the wind like these leaves in Saint Petersburg, I have to keep my feet on the ground and ask, does this have to be done now? The volunteers in this park were planting bulbs, for which there is a definite season. I try too, to keep what I do, connected to what has to be done, and leave the rest.

To understand that there is a season for everything is easy, the hard part is to keep focused on what I am growing, and know when that is in season.

-and I am glad there is not the season for my garden now, as I would not have had time for that!


IMG_3286 New year overview 0801

I am good at knowing what needs to done, even when it’s none of my business. Like how a hotel could be more friendly, how a store could be more efficient, how a church could be truer to it’s calling, how a relationship could be better, an organization more cost effective or a house better organized. Easy, and as I have experience and knowledge in all these fields, I could even be right.
I am not good at waiting to be asked though, as I seem to think the rest of humankind is different from myself and want unsolicited advice as soon as they stumble a small step form the ideal course I think they should stay on.

Then, when I see my own life from a distance, like from the other side of the world, things become clearer, failings more visible, actions more important, in short, an overview makes me think I have more then enough to improve in my own life.

It does not make what I believe others could do less important, it just makes me sure that the best kind of overview is when we take time ourselves to step aside, just for a moment, and remember the big picture. Not so much the how as the why. If that is the reason for our new years resolutions, we have to make them. If our resolutions is just adjusting steps, tweaking and polishing without really knowing or caring where we are going, then we might as well not care. If we do not know where we are heading, or where we want to go it does not really matter does it?

Happy trails!

We have been living in a fairytale for a year, today we are leaving, going back to Norway. New job, new and old obligations.Things do do, expectations and possibilities.

It is sad to leave, but great to take only good things and blessings back from a whole year. To be able to say, this has been a year with only happy memories, marvelous!

And then, it is truly a blessing to have a good life to return to.
IMG_3277 to leave it 9januar

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?