Small steps won’t take you there

Long path, small steps

Long path, small steps

I just finished mopping the kitchen floor. Which is good, I suppose. I like having a clean house. The question is, do I like it most of all?

My mother in law and me was just finishing up the preparations for a party. We both love that, and she is really good at it. Even so, we were running, doing too much, as the wrong things had been left for the last minutes. “It’s the small steps, every day, that takes you there”, she said, ” it’s a pity they are so boring,” she added.

Lot's of the same, boring?

Lot’s of the same, boring?

I just read Julia Cameron’s advice, to do a few simple things, each day, and keep doing them, is what gets her creativity flowing and her books coming.

I know they are right. Just yesterday I was trying to find the rhythm and the habits, the long road with the small steps that actually will take me there. Wherever that is! In my mind, having a year off is a gift to cherish, and too precious to waste. Which makes me set lots of goals and make plans to get there, the only thing is I get frustrated by not seeing any results.

And it is not because I am lazy, it is not because I am unstructured, it is not because I waste my time. I had just forgotten the most basic strategic knowledge of all.

IMG_5709 dunesIf you are going in the wrong direction, even small steps won’t take you there.

As for boring? Don’t ask me, I am never bored. I might not know where I am heading though.

Look! Sand!

Look! Sand!

Wisdom and knowledge- a dailypost on mastery

IMG_1532 land i sikte

Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

This is among my favorite quotes from T.S. Eliot. Even if I really am curious about almost everything, I did not think I was going to do any other exams in my whole life. There is a time for everything.  I thought the time was come for applying my knowledge, let it merge with my experiences, reflect upon it and mature into wisdom.

Not anymore!

Not anymore!

Then we moved to California. I bike along the not so quiet Pacific every day, marvelling at the view, and my wanderlust paired up with my curiosity, wouldn’t it be fun to sail over those waves? I could have lived with the dream, but my husband seized the opportunity to get his Country Girl join him on the seas. Now we’re in the middle of the first course, the exam is tomorrow, and my brain is crowded with all those words that I honestly did not think anyone was using anymore. “Helms-alee” and “ready about” for instance.

P1020743 st[ kursWhat I do find that learning a new skill, just for fun, helps me see new aspects of everything I thought I knew. For me, it releases creativity and reflection, and do make me wiser. While I will never be a master sailor, I know that just using my brain, my hands and my body in new settings enriches my life and helps me living it to the full. To me learning is not about amassing theoretical knowledge anymore, it is all about getting to see more and more pieces of the wonderful puzzle called life.IMG_1190 b;lge

My dream home

Building a nest.

Building a nest.

It was a rainy, cold sunday afternoon, one of many in a rainy, cold summer. We would have loved to curl up with a book and a cup of coffee. Our children were running wild though, back and forth in the living room, having so much pent-up energy. We just looked at them and each other, and went for our rain gear. Come on, we are going for a walk, in the woods! They were jumping and running in front of us for a little while, then they stopped and walked very silently close to us. What’s the matter with you guys? You may jump and shout as much as you like here, why are you so timid? The youngest looked up at us, with eyes that said “you do not really understand much, do you?” then he explained it all to us. “You know, when I am at home the world is this big and I can run everywhere” he said and stretched his small arms in front of him. ” But when I am outside” he continued, and crossed his arms in front of him and made himself even smaller ” when I am outside the world stops just here”, he said and wiggled his little finger in the crook of his arms. His words ring in my heart whenever I get too ambitious in any homemaking projects. Building a dream home means nothing if it does not make its inhabitants able to call the world their home. Building my dream home is done by nourishing and supporting everything in myself, my husband, our children and our guests that make us feel happy, content, safe and also daring, confident and able to be at home wherever and with whoever.

I love flights of fancy, I do dream of beautiful homes and wonderful settings. I do spend lots of time making our houses lovely and welcoming. But most of all I dream of a world where all of us, no matter who we are or where we live, may safely and happily go out into the world, jump and shout for joy, and know, I am at home. I think I already won that lottery, I am building my dream home, every day.

TIME magazine, dare to be the person of the year 2013, daily prompt

Big waves at Jalama

Big waves at Jalama

If life only was as simple as that, I’d start indexing and cataloguing every known person, right this minute. Would it not be neat if we could label a person once and for all? HAH, don’t YOU try to do something good, I know your sort! Or the other way around, I am sure he did not mean that, he is such a wonderful person!

IMG_0948 snartIf we had humankind labeled like this it would save such a lot of time. No need to sit down and reflect together, no need to ask for forgiveness and absolutely not grant it. Aristotle says “One swallow does not make summer”. He elaborates that by stating that our main business in life is to learn from every situation we are in, how we can create the good life for one another, and until our life is complete, we do not know if or how we did that. It takes many swallows, made of good choices and deeds to make summer of our shared existence.

IMG_1027 touchdownI do think we can learn from another, and I do think that persons who do good things and show integrity and truth through their lives may inspire us to go on, to try once more. I know that they can do that only when we let them be humans, not less and not more than any other human. I know that we each have a calling to be” person of the year” in our own life. Not as heroes, not as celebrities, but by not holding back the wisdom we are given through our experiences. To be a person is to show your face, your persona, who you really are. If we do that we can grow and learn together. If not, we will have heroes and villains, masses and mobs. But we will not have persons, neither this year nor the next.

IMG_1042 slutt

It is not my story – writing challenge on what I never would tell

IMG_0196 heart of heartsWhen I saw the picture of those two chefs in this weeks writing challenge I knew at once what the story was. It would not be fiction though, as it is one of my treasured memories. An impromptu wedding in an alpine flower field. A poetic wedding service with towering, snow-clad swiss alps as backdrop. A glowing bride walking up to the improvised altar while the wind played with her veil and someone played a joyful tune on a wooden flute. Leading up to this was only two days of preparing, an unprecedented whirl of activity. There was not much money, but everyone had searched their hearts and mind to find what they could contribute. Those two chefs, who never had worked together before, were able to  create a colorful and well tasting feast from meagre ingredients. One girl knew how to give a massage and went through the preparing crowds easing the strain, some of us picked wild flowers, some were scrubbing floors or doing laundry to prepare for guests. The strongest carried tables and chairs from all the village to the biggest lawn.

Setting of another marvellous wedding

Setting of another marvellous wedding

Then, this is what I saw, and what I took part in, which would only be romantic, not fabulous if it were not for the rest of the story. Why this haste? Who were married? When was this? Did they live happily forever after? I know only part of those answers, I have no way to check up on what I do not know, and I know that if I write more, someone could recognize this setting and be hurt if I did not tell the story right. I know what version I have of the truth, and that is enough to know that the rest is not my story to tell. To me that goes with all blogging and writing, knowing what to tell and what to keep. If I was listening to someone sharing their troubles or joys in confidence, I would not open the windows and shout into the streets, listen to this great story! Even when I took part in the story, only my part is the one to share. You would have loved to be in that wedding though, and then we could have shared our memories of the probably most glorious romantic story we ever witnessed. As it is, it’s up to you to imagine!

ABSee, a daily post weaving thoughts on seeing and being

IMG_3407 dovre 3A. I sit on a bench, under the eucalyptus trees, looking out over the slough. Silently and majestically a great white egret takes flight and sails over the water. It’s reflection is perfectly mirrored in the silent water. It seems a sacrilege to reach for my camera, and I don’t. Anyway, no matter how I captured this moment I would not be able to convey the glory and the mystery of the moment. You had to be there, so go! Find a bench, a silent spot, and stay in what you see.

IMG_3332 VINGROMB. We are driving through the french countryside, approaching the swiss border, as the traffic comes to a sudden halt. Soon there are long lines, and we settle in for some waiting time. Hot and boring to everyone it seems. This is many years ago, I was fourteen, with my first camera and film and developing had to be taken from my pocket-money. Which means I was very careful about what I shot. I roll down the window and look around, curious as I am. Then, close by, I see an old tree, golden grasses at its foot, a tumble-down fence, and two brown horses, silently eating grass, not going anywhere, not caring about all the tourists who think their day is ruined. I take their picture, out of the window. It turned out just as peaceful as I remembered it. I still have it, it still reminds me to look for the silent spot in the middle of chaos.

IMG_3378 Dovre 1See. We are driving through the norwegian mountains, we parents become aware of our youngest daughter who is looking intently ahead of her. “What is the matter?” We ask. “Don’t disturb me,” she says,” I am making C memories”. “What? What are A and B memories if this is C? “We ask. “Silly you,” she responds.” I said See, not C. I want to take what I see with me, And then I have to look real hard to make see memories.” She still does, and we are still reminded to do it, stay silent, and be in the moment, and see.

The song of my heart – a daily prompt on ear worm

All alone

Sometimes it feels we have to manage all alone

I went to a new ( to me) hair dresser last week. Not vintage looking but vintage being, not overly cool and fashionable, but overwhelmingly and positively warm and welcoming. A surf board on the wall, a guitar in the corner, smile, laughter and comments that I for once believed (like Nice! This looks good on you!) On the radio they were playing : we all need somebody too lean on.

I always have a song in my heart, sometimes sad, sometimes jubilant, sometimes heard by others, sometimes just felt in my moves and steps. Some times the song in my ears and the song in my heart collides. I hear something that I do not want to support, do not want to be a part of, and still it goes on and on. Then again, sometimes I hear music that I happily allows to stay, not always profound or “quality” music, but music that in a simple way reflects parts of the truth I hold important. So, we all need somebody to lean on!

Sometimes it may be difficult to see that we are worthy of support

Sometimes it may be difficult to see that we are worthy of support

To me, that is not about one being weak and others strong, it is about being together, strengthening the bonds between us, so that we know that I can be a support for one, even when somebody else is a support for me. And I do not think this is so much listening and counseling as it is about leading a life that is true and whole.

Sometimes we just need a railing, even if the steps has to be climbed

Sometimes we just need a railing, even if the steps has to be climbed

Being true to myself so that I know when and how to ask others for support. Being true to my self so that when others turn to me for support they will know I will be true to them. The salon I visited, the people and the song had the same message, let us be here for one another, it all felt true. I was not going there for neither comfort nor coaching, it felt good just to soak up the atmosphere.
I do think it all adds up, the settings we are in, even the mundane and ordinary ones, like grocery stores or hairdressers.

Sometimes we can be a support to others, even when we need to lean on someone

Sometimes we can be a support to others, even when we need to lean on someone

More basically the atmosphere at home, school, church and workplace will either make us closer or drive us apart. They could  make us able to be a support and also have someone to lean on when we are weak. Or we could end up  forlorn, unable to support ourselves or others and without someone to turn to. It is never about what those environments claim to be, it is always about what they are in their core. What we need is wisdom to soak up the good and let go of the bad
I do believe the song in our hearts shows in our steps, I try to keep it songs worth living. And I do know there are songs worth singing!

Song of my heart

Song of my heart

Done is dead – a daily prompt on imperfection

Quite imperfectly perfect

Quite imperfectly perfect

There was a time, when I was young, that I could read the 13th chapter of Corinthians, the one about love endures everything, and think: I will find that love.

There came a later time, when I was older and thought: If I show perfect love, I will be given perfect love in return.

There came an even later time, when I read the whole chapter, and saw that Paul was telling a story about maturing and understanding what life and love is all about.

Who lived here, what would they tell?

Who lived here, what would they tell?

He says that love will never end, and then that we understand in bits and pieces.When I was a child, he says, I thought as a child ,I understood what  a child may understand. But now, as I am grown, I see that I see everything as pieces, as glimpses in a clouded mirror.

Not quite clearly

Not quite clearly

And then he goes on to say that love is still  the greatest. He relates to the love and complete understanding God has for each of us. While doing so he tells me, it is OK not to be perfect. To be grown is to know that we see different pieces of the puzzle of life. To love is to live that truth, tell me what you see from where you’re at!  I’ll tell you what I see, together we see more, but still pieces, still through a glass darkly.

Then I read Aristotle,the book where he tells his son Nichomachus, about what’s most important in life. One swallow makes no summer, he sais. To us it is a proverb telling us not to be too optimistic, thinking spring is here. To him it was a profound truth, the truth about the deepest wisdom, what he called phronesis, or the practical wisdom.

IMG_2850 dark trees

The true meaning of life, the essential ethical question, he tells me is: What can I do, to contribute to  “the good life ” for everyone? Anyone can learn things through reading or doing, he continues. To be wise, to know what to do in a given situation, to use the phronesis needed to create this good life, we need to reflect. Every situation will teach us something that could be better, every new person we meet is a potential source of reflection, a way of knowing more.

OK, close to perfect...

OK, close to perfect…

Every time we do contribute in a good way, every time we know what to do, our deed is a swallow, a token of a summer to come. To grow and to mature, to come closer to the good life, takes reflection on practise and reflection in practise. It will never be complete though, only when our life is over, is it possible to judge if it was a good life, still according to Aristotle.

A room for reflection

A room for reflection

Then I remembered what we were thought in physics in high school, the law of reflection. The angle of reflection equals the angle of incidence. Perhaps that’s true for mental reflection too? It is not very complicated, it is not a challenge, it has nothing to do with brain power, and it has nothing to do with perfection. For every angle there is another picture, from every soul there is another thing to see, as we all see what we see from where we stand.

In bits and pieces

In bits and pieces

The greatest puzzle of them all, never perfect, still imperfect, life and love. So what do I cherish about imperfection? The fact that imperfect means not quite done yet, which means I got my whole life to collect and gather wisdom. Every day to live this truth, that in the middle of imperfection we get to create the good life for each other.

Never perfect, still working on that....still alive!

Never perfect, still working on that….still alive!

To give is to keep – a daily post on prized possessions

Things tend to fall apart...

Things tend to fall apart…

Before going on my bike ride this morning, I read the daily prompt, what was you most prizes possession as a kid and what became of it? The question kept mulling in my head, even if I had written a post already today…I think I could be called a transient hoarder. That is ,I have always liked to have a lot of something, but I also like to give it away. Like in having enough plates and cutlery for  a big party on the ready in my pantry, and lending it to everybody. Or baking an enormous amount of cookies and let the boys and their friends have it all. Or giving away most of my books when I have read them. One time I gave away all my summer clothes in fall and forgot all about it, when next summer came around I got to clear out and sort through every closet in our house looking for them, added bonus! It has nothing to do with generosity. It has all to do with having moved a lot and knowing that it is what you use your things for that it is important. Plates are for serving friends and family, not for storing.I love it if someone needs something I am able to give.

I own the the beauty if not the plates!

I own the the beauty if not the plates!

On the other hand I love beauty. While I subscribe to the idea of William Morris ” have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”, I have transcribed it for my own use to “have nothing in your home but love, truth and beauty”. As my friends know, that makes me obsessed with having lovely dinnerware, table linens and cutlery…and flowers. The point is that the things I treasured in childhood are gone, the settings and the atmosphere the things were used in lives as fresh memories in my heart. I remember the blue china children’s tea set….how I longed for that, what parties I planned! I got it and we had so much fun. Years later my brothers used my play house for raising turkeys, and I found a blue cup used as scoop for their feed. I just laughed, I did not need that. Quite accidentally I still have three items from my childhood though.

Somebody else's treasures

Somebody else’s treasures

They were all treasured in their time and they each tell a tale of what truly makes something precious. The one is a sterling silver porridge scraper, don’t you know what that is? My mother did not either, I got it for my baptism. My mother tried to find a way of using it both for me and for all my siblings, but never got the hang of it. It was constantly referred to as a most valuable item though, it is still in my silverware drawer. I keep it as a reminder that monetary value is a funny thing. The other is the small rocking chair that I got for my fourth birthday. I loved that chair and was able to sit in far up in my teens. I have read so many adventurous stories in that chair! My brothers turned it upside down, unhinged the door of a closet and made a slide of it, someone has cut letters in it, it has moved with me into eleven different houses. Now it sits in the living room of our cabin, waiting for  new adventures.

These brothers do not make slides of chairs anymore! Still playing though!

These brothers do not make slides of chairs anymore! Still playing though!

I keep that one because it is so well done and is still doing its job. It also reminds me that even things that keep, never grow, while a human has to grow to keep. And then I remember the same birthday, a friend gave me a tiny mercury glass bell to hang on the Christmas tree. That was a totally new idea to me, that I as a child could own  something so grown up, something not a toy! Through all those years and all those moves that is one of the few Christmas decorations that have survived in my family. I took it with me when I married,  for 31 years it has been shining on the up most branch of our Christmas tree. One day it will break, or one day I will give it to one of our children for their Christmas, neither way it does not really matter. The treasure to me is not the bell itself, rather  the reflections of all the Christmases that bell has mirrored. Those glimmers of joy are for always a part of who I am.

watering can

And then some years ago I got my grandfather’s watering can, never a treasure , always the one thing that reminded me of his steadfast nurturing and caring for every living thing, me included. A life filled with memories of love, my true and lasting childhood treasure.

Second thoughts

bare trærIn Norway every holiday has its second day, a great invention. It used to be a necessity, churches were far apart and ministers were few and each minister was serving many congregations.Then the minister had to travel and services in the far out places were long between, some places only at the holidays, and then on the second, third, fourth day. This still lingers on, now the second days are part of the regulated vacation days and everyone wants to keep them, even if the ministers often have the day off now a days.
bare marker A second day, that is a wonderful tool for getting back on track.Not quite holiday, not quite workday. Try it, even if they are not in the official calendar! Do not rush into your normal schedule, as schedules tend to get in the way of real life they need to be tweaked and pruned ever so often. Most of us live a life where we have to establish time for reflections and transition, our surroundings expect us to be ready for totally different tasks without changing gears.I think that attitude has its root in considering man a tool or a piece of machinery, ready to be used for whatever purpose.

vinstokker
If man is indeed part of nature the most elementary knowledge about life is that there is a season to everything, that growing and maturing has to come before bearing fruit. Second days are the perfect opportunity for second thoughts. Not necessarily radically new thoughts, but a chance to stop and to think. Instead of rushing from bustling celebration to hectic workday schedule, take time to let the joy of the holiday settle and take root in your heart so that your life will be richer.

kale

Come to think of it, while we know that time is what makes good fruit in a simple tree, one could be forgiven for thinking we value the fruits of our life to be of lesser value than an apple. Why else do we demand instant results and rewards, why else do we not take time for the reflection that combines knowledge and experience, wisdom and love into fruits worth sharing?