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Posts tagged ‘Hiking’

When my life is viewed from a mountain top

I was standing at a mountain top looking down at the world. From my point of view it all looked so small, like a toy-world.  Inside the houses people may have been arguing or making pancakes. Perhaps they were cleaning the fridge or reading a book. It was impossible to tell. And, quite frankly, from where I was standing, it didn’t matter at all. All I could sense was the calm of a world at peace. From my point of view the people in the houses became freakishly insignificant.


I was taking a peak at my own heart and it was going loopy with thoughts, worries, dreams, nightmares, poems, questions and ideas that I hope nobody else would ever see. There were deadlines I couldn’t possibly meet, bills I didn’t know how to pay, friends I didn’t know what to do with, laundry I didn’t want to deal with, books I wouldn’t ever write and emotions I didn’t know how to control.

I wondered how it was possible to be so noisy on the inside when what I was surrounded by was peace. It was a little bit like my shell was hard as desert tortoises’ shell, when it needed to be porous like sandstone.

You may think I am writing this in an attempt to be deep and poetic. That is actually not the case, because I have realized over the years that I am neither. I am writing it because I am trying to learn that in the big, big picture, my problems are really quite small. In the big, big picture, my problems don’t even show. The fruit flies in my kitchen that are driving my nutso-bananas? In the perspective I saw on the mountain they don’t matter at all. The lack of perfection in my life?  It is a nothing issue. The person who hurt me with remarks that actually stung? Can’t be seen from up on the mountain. The very important paper I need to write, but haven’t started yet? From the mountain top it is of no significance whatsoever.

It is liberating to be in a place where the perspective is different. It is really rather calming to understand that from a distance, big things become very small.


I think for that reason, we all need to climb some more mountains. We will then see that the things we thought were as important as air, and as big as giants, become small specks that hardly can be seen.

On the other hand…

Our small issues do matter, and they should be given some space. The broken heart? It may seem insignificant from a distance, but close-up, it hurts like a thousand bee-stings. The feeling of failure? It may only be a big deal for you, but it still makes you feel like shit. The worries about the future? It is a worry that can take on the personality of a hungry tiger, and eat you up right there.

See, our big and small problems and worries may be as small as flies poop in the big picture, but when you are the one experiencing it, they feel as big as Mt. Everest.

I think it is weird and confusing, and in the end, I feel like the one who can help me make sense of it, is the One who I believe created me. He cares about my big and small problems. At the same time, He wants me to remember that He is above it all and from his point of view, in the view of eternity, I can just take a chill pill.

His friend, and follower, the Psalmist says it better than I can:

When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them

Psalm 8:3-4

5 things that guaranteed will make you happy

Nobody can guarantee happiness. Not me. Not the richest, sexiest man in the world. Actually, happiness has a lot more to do with our attitude towards our circumstances, than with the actual circumstances.

So, sorry. If you wanted to read this blog to get happy, I may disappoint you. But, do give it a try. You may be surprised at what you will find.

I really wanted people to read my blog, you see, and I figured out that guaranteeing happiness had a bigger chance of succeeding than having a headline that says: Life really sucks, and if you read this, you may just feel much worse about yourself. 

So, what are 5 things that can make you happy?

I will tell you.

I bought this coffee cup at a thrift store. It reminds me of my Grandma. Makes me happy.

I bought this coffee cup at a thrift store. It reminds me of my Grandma. Makes me happy.

5. Grind some good coffee beans and make a good cup of coffee to drink in the afternoon while you are working by your computer, reading a book or perhaps listening to some music. You will be even happier if you also have some chocolate to eat with your newly brewed coffee. And, another idea is to share a cup of coffee with a friend. Can’t go wrong with these three ingredients: Fresh coffee, chocolate and friend (a spouse will also do).

I made this bread some days ago. It is full of goodness such as sesame seeds, flax seeds, quinua flakes and more. Now, if you also have some Norwegian brown cheese you will for sure feel happiness go through your blood.

I made this bread some days ago. It is full of goodness such as sesame seeds, flax seeds, quinua flakes and more. Now, if you also have some Norwegian brown cheese you will for sure feel happiness go through your blood.

4. Bake bread. You will be surprised at how easy it is to bake bread. While doing so, you will be able to reflect, use your upper body muscles and your imagination. A lot more can be put into a bread dough that you thought. For example seeds, nuts, a mix of different grains, old cereal, milk that has expired, spices such as anise and fennel. And when you bake the bread in the oven you and everybody in your house will be happy because it smells so wonderful. And did I mention the health benefits, and the savings? They are in the thousands.

I pay my kids to read. It is true. I want them to appreciate the joy of reading so much that I am willing to pay them to get them away from the TV and the internet. Sometimes they will read instead of doing chores. Fine with me.

I pay my kids to read. It is true. I want them to appreciate the joy of reading so much that I am willing to pay them to get them away from the TV and the internet. Sometimes they will read instead of doing chores. Fine with me.

3. Read a great novel. Fiction is underrated. People should read a lot more than they do. Whenever I read good fiction I feel like I live in two different worlds and this can be very helpful if my real world is full of worries, rainy weather and dirty dishes. Just to get you started, I thought I could mention that I just read a great couple of books that you may like too:

I Been in Sorrow’s Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots by Susan Straight is one. Another one that kept me awake when I should have been sleeping was: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. A good read. And when you are done, you will be a lot happier. Even though parts of the books will make you cry.

Having people over for dinner! What fun!

Having people over for dinner! What fun!

2. Meet somebody. Invite somebody over for soup. I know the dishes are a hustle, and so is getting the house ready for guests. But, you tell me, isn’t it worth it in order to have some fellowship with interesting and energy-giving friends. And another benefit will be that since you now invited them for soup, chances are that they will invite you next. Then you get to do all the fellowshipping, but not the stress of being the hostess. Or, invite guests and have them bring their own food. Anything will work if the goal is to be together.

Go for walks. Do I need to say more?

Go for walks. Do I need to say more? Here we have Elise and Kristin some years ago. Our kids have had to walk a lot in their childhood. I think that is why they are such fine young ladies today.

1. Go for a walk. This is the number one happiness-booster. Don’t let the weather decide if you should go for a walk. Dress up or dress down. Take your body outside and get into something that resembles nature. For some people, like people living in Bangkok, that may be hard. But, there are parks. Walk, breathe, think, walk, breathe, think. It is that easy. Now, if walking is too slow, then run. Or if there is snow, cross-country ski. Or if you like more speed, ride your bike. Whatever your preference is, I have the solution. The main two things to remember are: Move body and Outside.

So, there you have it. Five things to make you happy that will not even cost you anything. Try one or all, and see if I am not right.

Next time you hear from me, I may have thought of other things that will make you smile inside your heart, and when your heart smiles, your face does too.

Good luck.

BTW. What makes you happy?

These are a few of my favorite things

This has got to be one of my favorite ways to spend time.

This has got to be one of my favorite ways to spend time, on my bicycle with my family.

Here is another reblog from me. I wrote it in 2011, during the cold of winter.

These are my favoritest times (Yes, I know Favoritest is not actually a word).

Disclaimer: Obviously, like any mother and wife, my favorite thing is when my kids say they love me and Steve kisses me, but these are my favoritest things beside the obvious ones:

 -When I have  a whole playlist of new music when I go for my run.

-When I go cross country skiing and don’t meet a single person.

-When there is lasagna leftovers.

-When the whole house was just cleaned (usually on Saturday afternoons).

-When I have a pretty new and really cool outfit to wear that makes me look like I know my style.

-When somebody does the dishes without me asking (read: Nagging).

-When I smell spring (which usually is the smell of mud and melting snow, mixed with rotten leaves from last year).

-When I am reading a really good book and have the time to sit and read it while drinking coffee and eating chocolate.

-When I noticed that my tricepts and bicepts have gotten a tiny bit bigger.

-When it is crisp, but warm (Norway warm, like 4 degrees or more) outside, the sun is shining and I have the time to be outside.

-When my dog obeys me. (I should not even have to write this, but it is a rare occurrence)

-When I finally did get around to changing the sheets, and they are clean and fresh and smell nice.

-When I have slippers to wear.

-When I have a real nice cold beer waiting for me in the fridge and potato chips (just a very small bag, ten chips.)

-When I have crossed out all the things on my to do list (yes, I do write things like: Get dressed and put food in the fridge on my list. Is that so bad? I also write things like: Find 84000 dollars for starving kids. Have not crossed that off yet.)

-When George Clooney comes over for dinner. (Ha, I got you there. I just wrote this to see if you were still awake. George Clooney rarely comes over. In fact, he never does.)

So these are my favorite times today. Tomorrow they may be different. I should add too that I like it when I have tissue paper in my pocket to wipe my nose when I go skiing or running.

What are your favorite times?

The things I dream about

Today I have dreamt about taking some time off and enjoying a real vacation. I would like no emails, no meetings, no deadlines, and no dishes for about three weeks. I would like to read my book without getting interrupted. I would like to go for runs, hikes, and bike rides as often as I want to with no worries of time limits. I would like to do my writing in a setting that gets my creative juices flowing. I would like to go to sleep when I feel like it, and to get up when I feel like it. Today vacation is my dream.

My idea of a vacation

My idea of a vacation

Other days my dreams are about my children succeeding, about my book becoming a best-seller, and about being able to speak to all kinds of people all over the world about things that I think matter, and that I think should matter to them too.

Or perhaps this is

Or perhaps this is my dream

Some of my dreams are about having more money. Others are about owning a second car. I have dreams of running a marathon and finishing a PhD.

We all have dreams. Don’t tell me you don’t have any, because I won’t believe you. When we stop dreaming we have lost something very essential in our lives.

Our talented people at Partners have made a great little video about the dreams of children who are refugees from Burma. To watch it made me happy and sad at the same time. Happy because the children have not stopped dreaming. Sad because for so many of them their dreams will not become reality. You can watch it here

Screenshot vimeo

I want to invite you to watch the video and ask yourself what your dreams are, big and small. Let me know what they are. I would love to hear about them.

Life is too short to not pick strawberries

The other day Steve and I went biking. It was a beautiful day, one of the few where it was warm enough to wear shorts in Norway this year. After spending the day by our desks using only our butt and finger muscles by sitting and typing, it felt good to move the whole body.

This is me biking on a different day. Not so sporty-looking, you may say, and I agree. 100%. But the surroundings are spectacular though. Or what?

I had gotten a pulse watch from Steve for my birthday so it was fun to keep track of our pace and distance ridden. I was amazed at my speed. We have nice bikes, all high-tech and light weight. Steve was in a rebellious mood and did not put on his helmet. I wore mine, because, quite frankly, the downhills scare me. The helmet on my head gave me a small sense of security. Still I used my breaks diligently as I made my way down.

We wanted a real workout. We wanted to sweat and hurt a little. We wanted to see if our time was better this time than last time. So we trotted on. There was just one problem: there were wild strawberries on the side of the road. Every few meters there were big amounts of them (not big, because wild strawberries are small, but you get my point). At first I kept looking past the strawberries and changed gears to make the impact on my body a bit more intense. This was not the time for picking strawberries. This was the time for sweating. This was the time for high pulse. This was the time for calorie-burning.

Sweet, red and tempting

But finally it got too much. I could not resist the temptation. I stopped, got off my bike and started picking strawberries. They were delicious! Sweet and tart at the same time, bright red and vulnerable. When we had picked them all, we got on our bikes and went a little further, until we saw more strawberries. Then we got off and picked more.

We finally made it home, but not in record time. And, in the end, it didn’t matter at all.

This is what I thought: How many chances like this will I get this year? A sunny day, a beautiful place and strawberries on the side of the road. Next week they may be gone. Next month fall is already here. Next year this road may be a be paved and the strawberries gone. Why not enjoy them now? Why am I in too much of a hurry to stop and pick strawberries?

To experience the joy of strawberries to the max, thread them on a straw like Kristin and her cousin did here. If you do that in a hurry, you will fail. If you take the time required you will end up with the finest jewelry.

While adding handfuls into my mouth I thought that my experience as a good illustration of real life too. Often we hurry along, trying to break our own records in efficiency and perfection. Often we get so busy that we forget to look for the strawberries in our lives. And if we see them we don’t take the time to pick them. And when we finally decide to make time for the stopping, picking and enjoying it may be too late. Winter is already there, the strawberries are gone—either picked by others or rotted.

So I committed to not pass up strawberries. Not on my bike rides, not on my walks and not in my own life.

Rebuilding a blogger

Not really sure what went wrong there. It was like…I stopped blogging.

I had my reasons. My daughters and I got the worst possible flight to go to the US, and we travelled for three whole days and saw more airports and breathed more bad airplane air than all of you perhaps have in a lifetime. At one point where we were starting to get violent. That was in Chicago when the flight attendant informed us that she didn’t know when the pilot was going to show up because, actually, he was at that moment at a different airport. 

This family has seen more airports than the average family. This is in Australia many years ago, but it was no more fun then.

During those days I did not feel like writing a blog.

Then we zigzagged around America, spreading the good news about Partners, and when not doing that we did stuff like hiking, canoeing, shopping and drinking beer from local breweries.

No blogging opportunities at the Boundary Waters. We were just busy following the tracks of the Indians and the beavers.

Somehow, every time I wanted to write a blog, we were either on a lake, or at our campsite without my computer, and with no internet. Or my computer was out of battery and one of the girls had all the chargers. (No matter how many chargers we have, there is never one for me, and the girls always manage to get one. Of course, they have first priority, considering how much catching up they have to do on Facebook.)

At the few moments when I was at a place with my computer, with Internet and with a charger, I just did not feel like writing. I just thought that if I had to write anything right then I would start to feel sick. So rather than getting sick from blogging, I simply kept reading my book or I did another workout. Some times I even checked Facebook instead. But that was VERY rare.

On nights like this, I wrote blogs to God in my heart.

All this is to say that I am sorry that so many of you, faithful followers, have not heard from me for a very long time. I feel like I have let you down. But I am also glad to report that I am back to stay. Just look at this spot from time to time, and you will find that I have been here. 

For now, this is all I have to say.

When the sarong of perfection falls off

Kristin and I taking a bath in Burma.

Some of  you may have read my latest book, Picking Flowers on Dusty Roads, already. But if you haven’t, I thought I may give you a taste, just to tempt your appetite for more. Here are a few paragraphs from page 103:

“Obviously, we are from different worlds: the Western world with all its trinkets, and the jungle world with all its jungle gadgets. It’s only natural that we behave like clumsy amateurs in a world that is not our own. I can keep wishing that they could see me in my element, with my hair a different style than the mop-look I have been forced to adopt during these weeks. But I can also decide to give up my pride and let go.

I have no problem being totally honest and sincere while I’m just uttering my silent prayers to the only One whom I believe knows me just the way I am while here. Often it goes like this: ‘Help me, help me, help me.’ ‘Please, please.’ ‘Say something, will you?’ My prayers aren’t any more eloquent or impressive than the clumsy climbing moves I’ve had to make as I crawled up steep hills to get here. But they’re all I have. I can’t make them any better. If I did, I’d be a liar. Maybe I have come here to learn not to be too impressed by myself, but instead to see that I am weak and dependent. In the convenience of my own world, I often don’t see this, because I can do so much, and the rest I can fake. It’s a humbling feeling, but also freeing. In a way it is like the sarong has fallen off and here I am in my imperfection. You can take it or leave it, but this really is who I am.”

If you want to read more, then that is possible. You will just have to buy the book! You can get it at Partners or at Amazon.

Why not dance? It’s spring.

Kristin, one of the world's biggest lovers of spring

It’s spring-time in Norway. Nothing can compare to the feeling of spring in a country that has winter from November until April. Like jolly calves who have just been let outside, we too dance around like dorks. Well, not exactly dancing. We just dance in our heads. Norwegians are reserved people after all, and one does not usually do anything that one’s neighbor isn’t doing.

It’s like we have been in hibernation for six months, and now, when the sun comes out and warms our bodies, we crawl out of our dens. You can see Norwegians outside wherever you turn (in Norway I mean. You can’t usually see them in the rest of the world). It’s not hot by any means, but it feels hot compared to how it has been. So although the temperature only is around 10 degrees Celsius (which is 50 F) we put on our sweaters, take a blanket with us and eat our dinner outside. The nice weather is just too nice to waste.

We go for walks, we rake the lawn, we have visions of our future gardens, and we close our eyes and face the sun. Mmm, the warmth it produces is better than ice-cream.

No snow, no ice, no need to spend more than a minute to get dressed. It is nice going for walks during spring-time.

I think that people who have not lived through a long, dark winter cannot appreciate how nice spring is. They may find it lovely and smile, but they won’t long to be outside like we do, they won’t fall in love left and right like we do, they won’t get all excited when they found the first flower of the year like we do. But we, having lived through the darkness and the cold, see the beauty of spring with all new eyes. It makes us smile. It makes us talk about it at the store. “Now spring is here,” we say to the strangers in line at the grocery store. It’s like the world is smiling at us. Do you have any idea how nice it is to go outside without three layers of clothes on?

It’s like life. Without the harsh realities of life’s winters we cannot appreciate spring as much.

It’s what I am trying to teach my kids when they have a hard time; when they don’t get the best grades, when they don’t get picked for the A team, when they don’t get as much money as their peers, when they don’t seem like perfect people that always get the best of everything. I tell them that this hurts right now, but later in life they will be glad for the experience. It will teach them endurance and it will make them appreciate spring more when it comes.

The same is true for me.


What is luxury anyhow?


Once I was watching Steve as he took a half-a-liter vanilla yogurt container and poured most of it into his cereal. “What are you doing?” I half shouted in despair and shock. “You cannot use all that yogurt and you cannot pour it out of the container like that.” Steve looked pretty surprised at my violent reaction. He had no idea he had done anything wrong.

Yogurt is not particularly expensive in Norway, not compared to other groceries at least. But to me, yogurt is a luxury that one should eat sparingly and with much gratefulness. One should not take yogurt for granted.

When I grew up they did not sell the yogurt in big containers, just small ones that was enough for a nice little snack. In my family with four kids and one income, yogurt was a luxury we only got some times. And when we did, it was very special. We would never open the fridge and just pull out and eat a container of yogurt. Never. At least we would have to ask first, and that was after behaving well for a while.

So even now, a hundred years later, I have the feeling that yogurt is always sparse and we need to treat it with respect and modesty. To not do so violates my yogurt values.

I feel the same way with OJ. It is cheaper to buy than milk, and I can probably have it in my fridge for the rest of my life. But still, I always feel like to fill a whole glass with OJ is a luxury I don’t deserve. I always just fill it half way up. Twice. I honestly don’t think there was OJ in our fridge more than a handful of times when I grew up. The few times we tasted it, I felt like I had tasted Paradise.

Russian Caviar? Luxury? Well, I guess in most people’s eyes it is because it is so darn expensive. But for me, that is less luxurious than OJ and Vanilla yogurt. I am not even sure if I would have eaten the Russian caviar had I had it in my fridge. It does not go well with musli or with homemade bread.

A free light show on the sky

Last night at 11 PM I sat with Steve at our balcony, all bundled up in warm clothes. The temperature was minus 10 and on the sky the northern lights were dancing salsa. It was a show more spectacular than one you could watch in Vegas. And it cost us nothing (except from lack of sleep). Luxury? Oh, yes.

What else do I think is luxurious?

Avocados. I will never take an avocado for granted. It is luxury in pale green.

Walking my dog on a dirt road with the mountain and and the forest on one side, and the ocean on the other. After living in a big city for 20 years, that is luxury.

Sleeping past 6 AM. That is decadence actually. 16 years as a mom has taught me to value my sleep.

A good cup of cafe latte. And by that I mean a good cup. And it can’t be in a paper cup, and it can’t be drunk in the car or while walking. What is the pleasure and the luxurious feeling of rushing through a cup of coffee like that. No, my friend, sit down, listen to jazz, watch something pretty or read something stimulating, savor the coffee with a piece of good chocolate. Get in touch with the inner you.

A good marriage. How many can honestly say their spouse is their best friend after 21 years? To have a person to share one’s joys, fears, frustrations, thoughts or laughs with is worth more than the jackpot.

Time alone. Baby, that is my biggest treat to myself. Time spent alone when I can do absolutely what I want to do. Is there a better gift? What can be more luxurious than reading a whole chapter of your book without getting interrupted?

Pine nuts. They are more scarce than yogurt and taste so good when I on a rare occasion splurge and buy them.

Time and ability to exercise. I have lived through times in my life when I had to move as little as possible. That was enough for me to realize what an incredible luxury it is to have a body I can move.

And the list goes on. What is luxury for you? Not a new diamond, I hope.

What is your favorite word?

A journalist recently did a long interview with me. I hope it will not make me look too bad…

After hours of talking, she also had a few very basic questions, that are standard questions for the type of article she would be writing, like what is your birthdate and your current title and where do you live.

There were some fun questions as well:

They are not cute. They are scary.

Do you have any phobias?

I did not need to think long about that one. I am scared to death by rats and mice. Cockroaches are gross, but I can handle them. Snakes too. And spiders. Mice and rats however make me lose my breath. Those beady eyes, the nose that moves all the time, the long tail, the stiff fur. I get the creeps.

Then they asked what did I want to become when I was a child.

I remember wanting to become a nurse because I liked their uniforms—starched hats and white dresses. In the early seventies when I was a small sprout in the farmlands of Norway, a nurse’s uniform was a dream outfit. I also wanted to become the prime minister, but that was later.

What am I good at, they asked.

I thought about what I am good at and felt like while I can do a lot, I am not super good at much. Like, I can go for a run, but not win a race. I can read books, but never get the best score in class. I think that I am a pretty good mother. I help my kids with homework and I feed them well. But I did not want to write that in case it sounded cheesy. So I said that I am good at making good food. Because this is really true. I make delicious food. Better than most.

Cooking is my secret weapon

What is your favorite word they also wanted to know.

I thought that was a hard question. I thought of it for a long time. I thought I probably should have said Love, Forgiveness, Generosity, Integrity or something big like that. But I thought about what word makes me happy without fail, what word that makes me excited to be alive and ready to take on anything. It’s not beer (although I thought about saying that that was my best word too). It is the Norwegian word for going for a walk, going for a hike, going skiing, trekking: TUR. That is my favorite word. TUR.


If I had been the newspaper I would have added a few more questions: What is your favorite possession? (Maybe they thought that was too materialistic.)

I have a lot of favorite possessions and I guess it depends on the situation. I love my slippers and they are the first thing I look for when I come home. I can’t walk in the house without my slippers. But something else I love is my computer. It is sad to say so, but so much of my life depends on my computer. I think I love it and hate it. It used to be my iPod. I could not run without it. But now I am bored of my music and too busy too find new so I don’t use it much. I love my desk. It is my own messy world.  My desk and my slippers. Boy, do I ever sound boring.

I think I would have asked what five items would I have brought to a desolate island too.

Let’s see: My journal, a pen, a blanket, a lighter and a knife. Or: My journal, a pen, a knife, a pot and a lighter. Or: A devotional like My utmost for his highest with blank pages in the back to journal, a pen, a knife, a lighter, a pot. Should I prioritize the journal? Such a hard choice.

I can go on and on. What would I bring if my house was on fire? Easy: All our photos. What’s the most useless item in my house? A potato washing glove.

How about you? What is your favorite word, your phobias, your childhood dreams and favorite possession? Who is the person you would like to have lunch with right now (except your spouse or mother)? I think…not Johnny Depp. I would feel too awkward. Perhaps Meryl Streep. I think we would have a lot to talk about. And of course: Aung San Suu Kyi. But she is so busy right now, running for an election and all.

In any case. I hate rats and I can cook great enchiladas, I like my slippers and to go for walks in all kinds of weather. I want to have Meryl Streep over for lunch, and I don’t want to become a nurse any more. My little exercise made me look quite eccentric. Sorry about that. I am a lot more exciting than you think. I hope.



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