2020 – a leap year

You know how the kitchen always ends up a mess when you cook, even if you’re one of the clean-as-you-go folks? There will be a delicious meal – and there will be splashes and spots and dirty dishes. 2019 was like that. I learned so much but it was a hard year.

2019 has left me with two words: Trust and self-care. I have to learn to trust the process and not worry or panic when something is new or unfamiliar. And I need to get better at self-care. I’ve already learned to say “no” quicker, to avoid panic, but there’s more to do in that area. I’ve made lists with good ideas for myself for self-care. Like, “Accept not-knowing as a legitimate state of being.”

I’ve changed in the last couple of years. I’m not sure if the change is permanent, but for the time being I am more introverted and less energetic than before. I’ve decided not to dwell on why or label it something like “old age”. Instead, I’m just going to live with this new me, get to know her, and see what gifts this new, more reserved personality will bring. There are some priorities, like not saying “no” to friends, but I notice I’m more silent; I listen more to what others say. I tell myself to let them talk, see where it goes. I learn more about others doing that. I may not be sharing much of myself in such situations, but I expect that that will also depend on the situation.

I also have a sense of loss. I miss who I used to be. But I know I can’t go back. I can only go forward. Time will tell how this journey will go.

Today is New Year’s Day, a peaceful day where I’ve been going over ideas I’ve had, planning my budget for 2020, rebooting my blog, watching the New Year’s concert live from Vienna.

As I start a new year and with it a new calendar, I think the most important step to self-care is to truly take one day at a time and focus on making each day in itself a good day. I’m not the first to say this; so many others have before me. But sometimes good advice cannot be heard until nothing else works.

May this new year take a leap towards greater peace and joy!

Brave enough, after all

Prologue: I am no longer on partial sick leave. I am considered well and am back to work 100%! I have new tasks but am the master of my day, even though my work calendar has never been as full as it is now!

Now: I was tasked with teaching some part-time workers about what a beta tester does at work, the temporary position I was in for over 18 months while on partial sick leave. And having not ever done this before, I was easily driving myself crazy. Eventually, after trying to plan the lesson and more or less succeeding, I got to a point where I started to settle down. Where I realized that it was hard to know if I was doing this right because it had never been done before. There is no measure for success for this yet.

It started with a couple of things: A visit to my doctor’s where I realized that “Trust, not doubt” (in Norwegian: “Tillit, ikke tvil”) was my new mantra or motto. That was followed by an instruction from an online course that read, “Breathe in the words ‘I choose ease’; breathe out ‘I release.'”

I tried. I tried to calm the monkey brain, the atoms of fear that insist on making up my molecules. I ended up bringing the one anti-anxiety “drug” I have to work: A Bach flower remedy (Aspen).

At some point, a part of me realized that I had done enough. Still, I had almost too many butterflies leading up to the day I was supposed to have the actual class. Today was the day for the class.

A friend on Facebook posted this:

—Jon Acuff on Twitter

What a wonderful message on today of all days!

During a morning team meeting another inspiring and apropos thing happened: We were discussing how to handle changes and new technology, when a co-worker quoted Pippi Longstocking, a character from Astrid Lindgren’s children book: “I’ve never done that before so I’m sure I’ll be able to do it.”

What totally different approaches to the new and unknown! Instead of fearing failure, why not either embrace it or just assume it won’t even happen?

This afternoon I found my two students and started our two-hour lesson with “Be brave enough to be bad at something new”—a message they needed, too, since what I was about to teach them was totally unknown to them. It lightened the mood and gave us a good start.

We ended up having a good session, and I have two co-workers who are eager to try out their new skills.

Epilogue: As I sum up my day, which ended on a wonderful high note—no failures!—I have to take a moment to be grateful for the guidance I got. Thank you, Universe

If you had lived

If you had lived
we’d be still talking
If you had lived
we’d be hanging out at our favorite café
If you had lived
I’d be visiting you in the nursing home
If you had lived
We’d still be creating memories together
But you didn’t live
You didn’t make it this far
with me
I am left to create
memories with other people
I am left
with memories of you
of us
I have memories
Because you once lived

My neighbor says she’ll be 91 next month. A quick calculation tells me she was born in 1928. And I remembered a friend I used to have, who was born in 1929. And started musing on the might-have-beens had she lived passed 73.

There are other might-have-beens, too, with other people.

Such is life.

It contains death.

And memories.

Clearing out

I think I’ve mentioned Daily Om before, a website that offers life affirming essays and online courses. I’m currently taking a course on clearing. On any other website, it would be called decluttering, but it’s not just getting rid of stuff. It’s the why we hang on to things and how it feels to have them or let go of them. Not quite Marie Kondo, either, this. But rather a supplement to firm tossing and saying thank you to stuff. The course starts with exploring one’s attitude to things and to clearing them.

It’s slow going, which I like. I really do not understand “housework”. I’m not good with routines. I’ve followed other flaky people and their systems and have learned something from each of them. Still, I hunt for The One Method that will get me decluttering and cleaning and all that.

So why is this different? Maybe because it starts from the inside and you make the outside happen according to that. For example, one lesson was about movement. About how we get stuck in an attitude or a belief. We need to get ourselves unstuck. So act that out by moving something in your home: Find something that’s out of place and put it in place, or find something that is trash and toss it out.

That idea I could embrace: That the little household chore was about getting me moving, not about establishing some routine in the home. And that right there is the “hook” I need, the attitudinal approach that helps it make sense to me.

All the emptied and washed spice jars,
ready for the recycling bin.
This is the only “spice rack” I have
ever had or will need

And from that desire, from wanting to get unstuck, from wanting more energy, I then get a routine: Every day I do that little thing in my home for me.

The course has motivated me to declutter all my spices today. That’s another thing: Understanding who I truly am, and what I’m actually likely to do. I will never do all the cooking all those spices suggest. Most of them were covered with a thin layer of gray concrete dust, so they haven’t been touched in the over 2.5 years since my bathroom was remodeled (!). So out the vast majority went. I even got a rhythm going emptying the little jars for recycling and felt really good about my little task. I was honoring my true nature: Salt and pepper go a long way with how I cook. And I finished, too!

I think that’s what has been missing: Feeling personal about the task at hand. Weird that I treat routines in my home like a service I do for a stranger. But housekeeping truly isn’t something I “get”. I do it because I understand intellectually that that’s what one does. (I admit, I do this quite irregularly.) I don’t understand it intuitively. It’s not second nature to me at all.

The things I do that “feed” me, that give me meaning on a personal or emotional level, those things I tend to do regularly. The penny dropped when I finally timed how long it takes to do dishes and realized it wasn’t that much of a chore. Now it’s something I do with pleasure. Also: The first place I can see in my home that my mental health is starting to stumble is my kitchen counter: the longer the dirty dishes don’t get done, the more “down” I’ve been. I’m back to my happy self again when I want to go into the kitchen and wash the dishes. Sometimes I’ll wash them anyway, because I know the cleared counters will make me feel better.

See, it’s an emotional thing, not a “let’s keep the house clean” thing.

And maybe, also, this is why apps don’t work for me. Lists somebody else comes up with overwhelm me because I don’t know how to use them for my own stuff. I don’t know where to start. Oh, yes, on an intellectual basis I know. I’ve read enough emails from FlyLady to have a pretty good grasp of what a daily routine should look like. But it’s not my routine. I can’t feel it. (FlyLady did help me finally do the dishes regularly, though.)

Happy accomplishment, Saturday’s decluttered travel stuff.
How many of those plastic toothbrush head covers
does one person need?

What works? Oddly, it’s writing a daily list by hand. Same thing with the grocery shopping. I can’t get comfortable with apps. I write my lists from scratch in Google Keep and when I’m done, “delete all checked items” and start over again next time. I think maybe this is how I focus and organize my thoughts.

Sometime last year I started writing daily to-do’s in a notebook I leave open on my kitchen table. It became a part of my healing journey through this past fall and winter. I saw the so-called “dot journals” or “bullet journals” and instantly felt overwhelmed by all the effort people put into those things. But I liked the idea of a dot in front of task and if you do it, write an X through the dot, else put a > there if you’re carrying the task over to the next day. I used to actually write little boxes to check, but the dot method is quicker and clearer. I also like that if I end up getting around to a task after all, the > easily becomes an X.

So finally, at age 58, I’m starting to understand myself, how I actually approach things, how I get meaning out of something.

Thank you for reading all this! Here’s your reward: Edvard Grieg in the Bergen city park (byparken).

Spring magic

This year I seem to be more aware of budding trees. At this point in the season, where nights are still cold, although days are warmer, growth is slow, careful. I woke up to frost this morning, but now, as we approach sunset, my balcony is baking at a whole 26C/78F in the sun!

Won’t be long until leaves are bigger, blooms show better, branches are less naked.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying the magic of the slow awakening.


The beech tree is next to my balcony. This is the first year I’ve noticed flowers on it. It was planted about 25 years ago and barely reached up to my balcony then. Now it’s reached up to my upstairs neighbor’s balcony. One of things that happens when I blog, is that I end up doing a little research on behalf of my reader(s). The pink flowers mean that this is a copper or purple beech, a native of Europe. I did not know I had a purple beech!


The rosehip bush is right below my living room window. I’ve watched its progress through the seasons many, many times. One of the sounds of summer is to hear a bumble bee’s buzz amplified by its wings touching the side of the rosehip petals while it hunts for nectar. And of course I love the scent of rosehip roses! I’ve even learned to like rosehip tea. But first we need to get more leaves!



The Japanese cherry tree is at the other end of my building and is purely for decoration. It is lovely, though, and will be at its showiest in May.


The magnolia is by the main theater in town. I have wandered around in downtown Bergen and by the theater since 1981, and this is the first time I’ve ever noticed this tree. If it weren’t for the flowers, I’d never know there were magnolia trees in amongst the cherry trees lining the park below “Den Nationale Scene”. But this year I caught it blooming on naked branches. I have seen a magnolia tree in person only once before: Tucked in a cozy corner of the botanical gardens by the university. But that was memorable enough to help me identify this other tree, a snow magnolia. This particular species also comes from Japan.

Magic everywhere!


“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others their trespasses.” Matthew 6:12

I remember when I first started to seriously forgive people with whom I had a difficult relationship. I thought forgiving them would end something. It didn’t. It started something (I wish I’d been warned). I thought forgiveness was a way to pull a bandaid off, revealing the healing wound underneath (warning: if you’re squeamish, this next part may be icky but it’s what I’ve got). But it was more like draining a cyst (I’ve done that a couple of times) and then the doctor packs the emptied hole and you have to keep getting that changed for up to a month while the wound heals from the bottom up, from the inside out.

That’s what forgiveness starts: A process of healing you from within yourself. Surprisingly little to do with the other person, actually. It’s not about justice or lack of; it’s about masochism. By forgiving the other person (or even yourself), you’re basically no longer hurting yourself. The other person already hurt you. They hurt you that time. You may or may not have gotten justice or an apology for that hurt. The thing is, it’s in the past, but every time you think about it and react to it. you hurt yourself. So instead of that other person having hurt you badly that time back in May of 2006, here you are, 13 years later, still seething about it. The other person doesn’t even know!

See how useless that is? See why forgiveness sets you free? Because that’s what it’s doing. It’s letting you off the hook, not the other person. It’s putting the past where it belongs: In the past.

I’ve mentioned ho’oponopono a few times. I come back to it because it is so easy. You don’t have to know what’s bothering you, you don’t have to know what’s stuck, you don’t have to know anything. These four deceptively simple sentences do a lot of work for you. Just keep repeating and repeating and repeating (in any order you want):

I love you
I’m sorry
Please forgive me
Thank you

Any time a thought that isn’t the most supportive crosses your mind, do ho’oponopono. (I really need to remember to take my own advice.) Or fudge and play Jasons Stephenson’s wonderful track on repeat (I go to sleep to this).

Just let your wounds heal.

Another battle

Obviously, something deep in my subconscious wants to imitate Nedry’s lock screen in “Jurassic Park”, doing his finger-wagging “Ah-ah-ah”.

I had bronchitis in February. Was out sick for two weeks.

Bronchitis was something I had a lot as a kid. Usually when the bullying over time finally got to me, my body would react with bronchitis. When I finally recovered, I blogged, intending to keep blogging. But I lost my routines, my momentum while sick and it took me until the end of March to get it back.

That’s when I hurt a knee, just standing with a very straight leg on my living room floor. Sheesh.

Got my PC from work delivered home because brain works, but dang, if this knee stuff isn’t darned distracting!

After a week at home, a friend shopped for me and showed me a good exercise for knees. Can’t overdo it, though. Can’t do the steepest hill between my place and the office so have been taking the bus to work.

It’s like everything just says “Ah-ah-ah” and I realize there’s something deep inside me I’m not addressing or even aware of. Time to go in deep and see if I can find it. And heal it.

I have always had a copy of Louise Hay’s “You Can Heal Your Life” and all the affirmations for all the ills. Bronchitis: The family is fighting. Knees: Stubborn ego and pride. So peace and harmony and forgiveness.

I think the bronchitis is a matter of feeling safe with the ones around me. Weirdly, I had it last year, too, at about the same time. I sure hope it’s not going to become a tradition!

But the knees… They’re about fear and the solution is forgiveness and compassion.

In a discussion with friends, we were talking about how forgiveness is the one thing that heals everything. I said something about being done forgiving others; now it was about forgiving myself.

But I wonder…

I may have peeled so many layers off the onion that is all me and my experiences that I’ve found fresh stuff to forgive, and it may involve others, after all. Some little remnant is left, like not quite emptying the existing bottle of shampoo or sauce before opening a new one.

Time to stop this battle and dig into healing.

Apple blossoms

The battle for spring

Of all the seasonal transitions, the one between winter and spring seems to be the most violent.

I’ve tried to predict weather using astrology (astrometeorology). The starting point are the seasonal ingress charts, i.e. the charts for the equinoxes and the solstices or the cardinal signs. For the spring equinox the chart is made for 0 degrees of Aries, which is ruled by Mars. For the summer solstice, it’s 0 degrees of Cancer and Moon ruling. For autumn, it’s 0 degrees of Libra and Venus ruling. And for winter solstice, the chart is for 0 degrees of Capricorn and Saturn ruling. These dates are approximately around the 21st of March, June, September and December, respectively.

I live where we have four seasons and am used to how they flow into each other, and how it can vary from year to year exactly when one can say that one season is officially over and we are fully in the next season. Spring glides into summer by budding, one type of bush or tree at a time, and growing the leaves and turning a deeper green by the summer solstice. July and August are rich thick foliage, but during August, ripening of berries breaks up the solid green. Still, the trees can look quite lush well into September. October is the month of changing colors, and November is the first month of naked trees. The first snow or frost may appear where I live at this time but not stay. In fact, a true winter chill doesn’t happen until January, well into the winter season.

But the part that has my attention, is the transition between winter and spring. This seems to be the most obvious conflict of interest. Whereas the other seasons move into each other on a gliding scale, even weather-wise, Winter seems to arm itself and do serious battle with Spring.

The hedge had started to leaf, and then the snow returned

I mentioned ruling planets above. I think they may be key. In traditional astrology, Saturn and Mars are called malefic. In more modern terms, they are challenging or difficult. These two planets require more self-discipline to use correctly than, say, Venus or Mercury do. In a person, Saturn and Mars in a bad relationship to each other can be volatile; it can mean a bad temper or bad impulse control. I have this myself, but maturity, meditation and some therapy have tempered these two for me.

But weatherwise, we have two planets both known for high energy, high winds and a desire to make bad weather. Saturn is the ultimate low pressure significator, while Mars is just volatile. Venus is a moderating influence on the weather (though she can misbehave if in bad company) and the Moon is about clouds and rain and wind, but the normal stuff, not the extreme that Saturn can be. Mars emphasises whatever is there, and brings on heat and movement, usually.

So in the transition from a Mars season to a Moon season, the force necessary to generate new life gives way easily to the force necessary to grow life (watering the plants). And later that growth force transitions calmly into the final ripening and harvesting energy of a Venus season. Venus then quietly passes the torch on to Saturn who sets about making sure everything acts dead.

And so Life reappears, with the Mars energy of spring (and of course, the increase in hours the Sun is up), and starts to throw its weight around old, cold Saturn who isn’t having any of that. Saturn demands proof that you are viable, that you deserve respect, and so throws whatever it has at the budding life lured by some mild weather. It’s snowing out as I write this, and I’ve already seen fresh dandelion leaves on our lawns.

The other seasons do battle too. It’s just so obvious with Winter and Spring and perhaps more so because we humans need to see life and warmth and growth again. We want Spring to win. We need to know the dead of Winter is not permanent. We’ve all had our rest. It’s time to get moving again.

Ultimately, Life wins. Aided by warmth and ever lengthening days, growth takes hold, and the dead of winter gives way until next time.

Moon landing

I cannot remember when men first landed on the moon, in 1969. I was alive and old enough to remember something like that. We had a TV. That is to say, my granduncle had a TV—up on the old farm, in a little valley above a fjord. There was nothing on it until 6 pm, when a children’s program would come on, then the news. All in glorious black and white.

Actually, everything was in black and white until 1974 when Norway decided to allow the broadcasting of color TV even though protesters thought it would be bad for people.

People have the weirdest reasons for not wanting change.

My folks kept their black and white TV for quite a while. It wasn’t broken and we were used to it. The first thing I saw in color was at a friend’s house, a scene from a British series, “Black Beauty” (yes, the one about the horse). The only thing strikingly different from seeing the same show in B&W was the grass. Incredibly green in color. Black Beauty was still black.

But why can’t I remember the moon landing?

Because I was asleep. It was night time in Norway when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. I was 8 years old. I couldn’t stay awake even if I wanted to. But I remember my grandma telling me they stayed up to watch it.

My grandparents saw astronauts onto another world in real time. On a TV on the old farm Grandpa was born on in 1901.

Today’s prompt: stripes, lemonade, astronaut