Moon landing

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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. 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. 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 in real time step onto another world. On a TV on the old farm Grandpa was born on in 1901.

Today’s prompt: stripes, lemonade, astronaut



Apples, APP and another abbreviation

Apples makes me think of the old gold mining town of Julian in Southern California, a charming and tiny place that today specializes in apple pie. Warm apple pie with cheddar cheese on it is a wonderfully delicious combo!

Lasers make me think of when laserium shows were new. Started in Los Angeles, at the Griffith Observatory, and I loved it!  I didn't have the sense then to appreciate the show’s choice of music from Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon". I appreciate the music more now, but it's still not an album I play much. It is, however, produced by Alan Parsons and I love Alan Parsons Project (APP).

Michigan's two letter postal code is MI. I didn't have to look that up. I actually know all the state postal codes by heart.  

I have no good pictures of the city itself, only Julian’s plaque explaining its history

I have no good pictures of the city itself, only Julian’s plaque explaining its history

Today's prompt: apples, laser, Michigan.

Seashells

So something a bit shorter today, rather than the lengthy letter home of yesterday’s two blog posts (wherein I mention yoga).

I can’t ever seem to go to a beach and not want to pick up a seashell or smoothed rock. Bad habit, really. It sadly just becomes clutter because I’ll never do something fancy with these things like paint a face on the rock or glue the seashells to a picture frame “for interest”.

My dust-gathering finds do remind me of where I found them, but so do pictures. Here’s one of the last beach I collected seashells from. It’s in Normandy, France.

I like how the waves are making waves in the sand

I like how the waves are making waves in the sand

Today’s prompt: letter, seashells, yoga

Five year journey, part 2

(Part 1 here)

Sometimes, I think that I have undiagnosed ADHD. I relate too well to descriptions of people with ADD etc. Apparently, December children are overrepresented on the ADD spectrum. I am a December child. My therapist did point out that it doesn’t really matter if I have ADD or not; I hold down a job, own my own condo, have no bill collectors chasing me, etc. I adult just fine.

The thing about being scatterbrained (besides needing to write everything down) is that things requiring a lot of discipline remain out of reach. I have, for years, disappointed myself in not being driven to try a 90 minute daily practice of yoga and meditation because enlightenment sounds so cool!

Instead, I’ve done the spiritual equivalent of the buffet: A little of this, a little of that. Restless, curious, easily wowed, easily bored. Some things seep in and stick, though. 

A few of my spiritual books. The wide unnamed one is a worn copy of “A Course in Miracles”, I gave a new cover.

A few of my spiritual books. The wide unnamed one is a worn copy of “A Course in Miracles”, I gave a new cover.

I was raised by a grandma who was into New Thought, theosophy and astrology. Her wisdom and guidance and free thinking guided me during some crucial years. The idea that God is not a being but Love has stuck with me ever since my mother introduced me to Science of Mind at age 17. Affirmations have stuck with me. I used guided meditation a lot in college and it mitigated my scatteredness; I was able to focus and remember better. But I did that sort of thing on a whim or once a week or whenever. The experience and knowledge didn’t leave me; it became what I call my spiritual toolbox.

My spiritual toolbox contains the fruit of many classes, books, sermons and seminars over the years. Affirmations, faith, astrology,  meditations, yoga, etheric oils, reiki, crystals, Tarot, etc. I can tell you this: There is one constant and that is Love. If whatever you are being taught or told is not promoting goodness, it’s not True. I have also remembered Grandma’s words that God will always be stronger than any tool I use (such as astrology); a reminder to commune with spiritual source. 

The thing is, I have disappointed myself by not having routines, for not having a regular practice, for not being disciplined. This has applied to both the spiritual and the physical.

Yet, here at the start of 2019, I know I’m not the same as in 2018. When panic starts, I recognize it far more quickly than before and I stop it far more quickly. It no longer becomes something I must care about; it’s just there and I shove it aside. 

It has occured to me that this is something to be proud of. That I have, in spite of my monkey brain, been able to do the work that has changed my thinking and beliefs and will continue to do so. I know that it’s very important not to get frustrated. Feeling forced or “shoulding” myself is not healthy or helpful and just makes me want to abandon whatever it is I’m trying.

I took small steps. I talked with my therapists and healers and friends, sorted my thoughts and my beliefs, journaled a bit, found a meditation that let me visit my childhood, and talked some more. Bit by bit, a new structure took form. The thing is, it wasn’t just one thing and it certainly wasn’t just one steady thing, as in daily or regularly. My curiosity drove me to books and articles, learning about complex PTSD, about mantras that can heal depression, about my own family dynamics.

Learning the Gayatri mantra by heart in the shower

Learning the Gayatri mantra by heart in the shower

And I have realized something: Having variety is what works for me. The moment the novelty wears off, so does my dedication. But switching it up a bit or keeping it short is doable. For example, my I-planned-to-this-daily yoga routine is 15 minutes long and I choose to target different body parts each time. My morning Om chanting takes only as long as it takes for my tea kettle to boil (about 2 minutes), maybe a minute longer. That’s it.

For years, I’ve recited a “prayer” on my walk to work. I’ve used it for so many years, I can’t remember its source. It goes like this:

Close your eyes or focus on something natural, like clouds or trees or a flower. Hold your palms open and facing up, if you can. Breathe in while saying silently to yourself, “I breathe in the cosmic forces of the Universe, asking for strength protection and guidance.” Exhale. Repeat once. 

If you want something extra, do this a third time, changing what you say after the comma. My standard is “…asking that each and every encounter with each and every person be a joy and a blessing for all concerned.” If I have more things I’m concerned about, I end up holding my breath for quite a bit!

The above is now part of a new morning routine, one that got tacked onto a regular activity I do. The best way to start a new habit is to stick it to an existing one. (My problem is that I don’t have many existing regular habits.) So, while my tea kettle boils water for my morning coffee, I do 9 Om chants (because I like 9) while raising and lowering my arms, then I do the cosmic forces prayer. I now also start with some yoga forward bends which help loosen me up.

I’ve tried apps. They are rarely a perfect fit so I lose interest or get frustrated. I also don’t want my cell phone in bed with me. So something I can do myself, that involves my body, seems to be a better method.

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I finally own my flighty self; I acknowledge and accept that buffet-style is what works for me. I no longer want to be someone else, be different. I can accept who I am, how I function. I’m not stupid or irresponsible; I just have to understand what motivates me and what helps me.

When it comes to my own mental health, I have done what matters. I have listened to all my helpers, and I continue to listen to them. I have taken responsibility for my healing, in my own way.

I’m not usually proud of myself, but this time I am! Yes!

Five year journey, part 1

I’m thinking about the last five years, because the blog I started in 2014 went poof as I switched providers. (Always read the instructions thoroughly before switching website hosts, kids.) Then a bit of magic happened and I could save my texts and restore posts; the photos were already saved. 

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As I went through and relinked photos, I saw that I’d been talking about stress and things bothering me on and off. It isn’t just a process to heal; it can also be a process getting sick. (These posts now have the tag “personal” for my own purposes, but they may serve you, too.)

The communists of the Cold War era would make five year plans. Life coaches and career advisers often ask you where you see yourself in five years’ time. That’s a question I’ve never been able to answer. In 2014, I was on a healing path, having explored A Course in Miracles and finding ho’oponopono since 2009. A big rift in my family relations had been healed at this point. I was feeling pretty darned good in 2014. 

I remember I found myself in a situation a couple of years earlier, where I had to learn a lot of new things. Nothing like doing that to confirm that an old dog can indeed learn new tricks. And a good thing that was, because in 2014, I lost my job in one department due to downsizing, but got another job in another department, requiring me to learn entirely new things. And I did. 

I was still riding high on whatever wave this was through 2015. Slowly, in 2016, something was catching up to me. Not the age of my bathroom (a museum piece at this point, and finally renovated in 2016), but something else. We were downsized again; everybody in my (new) department had to reapply for their jobs. I got lucky, once again, and got my job back, but it was one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had at work because of what it did to all of us. So the winter of 2016/2017 sucked. Easter week of 2017 came and sucked with only one day of warmth and sunshine; the rest was chilly, cloudy and wet.

Summer of 2017 as seen from inside a boat

Summer of 2017 as seen from inside a boat

I had family visiting that Easter and the visit became rather challenging and disappointing. It did feed the thing catching up to me. By the fall of 2017, I was not doing well, calling in sick to work after a panic attack. I basically stood at my own front door in tears because I couldn’t bear the thought of walking through and going to work. That’s  a pretty strong message! I’m sure that a rainy, cool summer with no trip abroad hadn’t helped my spirits, either. My boss thought transfering me to a temporary position as a beta tester for IT would be a good fit. And for a while it was.

In the midst of all this, I was taking evening classes, dealing with a frozen shoulder, catching up on US tax filing in order to renounce my US citizenship, getting a Norwegian citizenship, and finally severing one of the last ties to my country of birth on January 30, 2018. (Still have final tax return to go as of this writing.)

The summer of 2018 the thing catching up to me finally introduced itself. “Hi, my full name is Depression Anxiety Panic-Attack. I’m moving in. I’m going to terrify you and make you feel useless and helpless and keep you from going on vacation. For starters.”

Well, this was unfamiliar territory. I’ve always been a worry-wort but I’ve also been able to think it away. But this time, two things happened: This new feeling was stronger than anything I’d experienced before—and I seemed to be locked into it, not thinking about my spiritual toolbox and how it could help. The library was open but I didn’t think to go in. 

But, even when shit happens, I’m a lucky girl. A friend had been through the same thing and was ready to spend time with me and let me talk. I got a full refund on the vacation trip I had to cancel. I had the satisfaction of knowing that canceling had been the right thing. I enjoyed a relaxing “staycation” with a few museum visits and lots of sunshine and heat. (2018 was a record-breaking hot and dry summer.) Back at work after my summer vacation was over, I seemed to be all right—until I wasn’t. 

On August 30 2018, I went on partial sick leave. It’s almost 6 months later, and I’m still on partial sick leave. 

I talked to the company psychologist back in September/October. That handful of meetings did me a lot of good, and helped me be gentle with myself. I identified the triggers and the latent self-talk I didn’t know I had. Childhood stuff, of course. A whole story of good and bad, of guilt, loss and confusion. Of me trying to be a Good Girl so the family will start being loving and supportive again like it used to be. I didn’t know I was still trying to be a Good Girl 40-50 years later.

My insurance through my employer then got me another therapist for 10 more sessions. As I built myself back up with her help, I stretched the sessions out more. I have two left. Here too was some lovely synchronicity: I’d discovered yoga mantras and my therapist practiced yoga and gave me some tips.

My GP, who is fresh out of med school, also turned out to be a fantastic listener and the one who reminded me that no matter what I learned in therapy, that was just the start, getting the necessary tools. All the healing and work was going to come after and take time. Bless him for reminding me that this stuff takes time! And for a constant diet of partial sick leave.

So here I am. Feeling a lot better than in a long while. So good, in fact, that I feel like applying for work. I realize now that the job that saved me in 2014 is not a good fit in the long run. 2019 will be the year I figure out where to go next. I’m too old to leave my employer, but changing departments is no problem. I’ve just got to make myself ready.

But baby steps. Bit by bit.

A version of the Gayatri mantra that I learned by heart to help myself. More about that in part 2.

Elevenie "Darkness"

Inspired by Paula’s “elevenie” poem (“Elfchen” in German) ending in darkness, here’s mine about the end of short winter days:

Darkness

Occupies daytime

In the winter

Until a climbing sun

Returns


An elevenie poem has 5 lines with one word on line 1, two words on line 2, three words on line 3, four words on line 4 and one word on line 5 that is different from the word on line 1.

Unpacking after a move

What takes as long as packing for a move, is the unpacking afterward. Especially if everything is marked “kitchen”.

I switched hosts and am no longer using Wordpress. So new ways of navigating, creating posts and pages and all that.

And of course, in the move, things have been misplaced. I simply have to go through all my posts (yes, ALL) and relink/refind the photos.

This is what coffee and lengthy playlists on shuffle are for, though.

Well, that wasn't what I thought I bought

So I ended up thinking another site provider was cheaper because I can't math after all, but the deed is done. I am leaving the host I've had for 5 years (that hosts this blog) and headed for a new one once the domain transfer is complete.

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Here's a Luddite for you: I miss FTP. I miss writing pages and having a website and just uploading stuff. I sort of did that here, but it never became second nature. And sometimes, when I look at my old Blogger blog, I… miss it. It was easier. I just wrote. I had more fun playing with the look of it, too. I understood the technical behinds-the-scene stuff better. Perhaps because I could actually see it.

I am in the same situation as a car mechanic. "I remember when you looked at an engine by popping the hood. Now it's all electronics and looking at a screen." Yeah, some things are more "user friendly", but I am frustrated by not being allowed to actually pop the hood.

Anyway, today's mistake means learning about another webhost, my blog/site getting a different look, and hopefully, me having a whale of a time tweaking and poking around and having some fun because I do like that stuff.

As I write this I realize something: I'm finally getting used to Wordpress. Only took me 5 years. :-D

Paved versus cobblestoned

The charm of Bergen is its old streets and equally old houses. The classic tourist photos look something like this:

An old residential street

An old residential street

So I thought I'd show you the less charming, more modern side. The side of the city I usually see. Honestly, I like this part, too. It's just not the most photographed.

Bergen is a constantly growing city. The population has doubled to 250  000 in the last 40 years. As for most cities, at some point you can't expand out; you have to start expanding up. So we've been seeing more and more taller buildings, although not in the city center itself (regulation rules and stuff).

I live in one of the suburbs, Fyllingsdalen, a mere 10-20 minute bus ride into town, depending on time and route. It's a trip I take a lot because I love going to "the city".

Mt Løvstakken, watching over Fyllingsdalen, one morning. In front, the local mall on the left and an apartment building on the right. This is what I see on my walk to work.

Mt Løvstakken, watching over Fyllingsdalen, one morning. In front, the local mall on the left and an apartment building on the right. This is what I see on my walk to work.

Downtown Bergen is the big draw for me: Tradition, cobblestones, bars and restaurants and the easiest place to meet friends from other suburbs. But before you get to that medieval city center, there are the more modern edges. Two of them—a 2 km tunnel (Løvstakktunnelen) and a bridge (Puddefjordsbroen)—are the first ones I constantly encounter going to town.

So on a lovely late autumn afternoon two months ago, I got off the bus right after the tunnel. First thing you see starting up the bridge that goes across the Puddefjord is one our newest apartment buildings, and is (as of this writing) the tallest modern structure made out of wood, named Treet (The Tree or The Wood as in what a tree is made of; wood for burning is "ved"). All I can think is that there's not much privacy on those balconies; you can see everything, including the beginnings of hoarding.

Heading to town; "Treet"

Heading to town; "Treet"

Behind me, the tunnel home

Behind me, the tunnel home

They do have an awesome view of Damsgårdssundet, Damsgård sound. On Treet's side of the sound (south side) is a neighborhood built mostly after WWI in one of the city's earlier suburban sprawls. Across from Treet is a mix of newish and not so new apartment buildings, several built by union members for union members, also from a good 100 years ago. Hence the little neighborhood called Trikkebyen, "Street Car Town" on the north side of Damsgårdsundet. The fjord continues to Solheimsviken, an old industrial area, now all modern office buildings. And of course, off in the distance, our tallest mountain, Ulriken (642 m).

West, Treet

West, Treet

South, Mt. Ulriken

South, Mt. Ulriken

East, Trikkebyen

East, Trikkebyen

"Trikkebyen" is a nickname for a few blocks within a larger and much older neighborhood, Møhlenpris, named after a guy with a mill. When I was studying insurance a couple of autumns ago, I walked through this neighborhood to one of the most modern buildings on Damsgårdsund. Rather charming area and I want to go back and walk the new pedestrian bridge across the sound. Møhlenpris itself was the Jewish neighborhood of Bergen, back when we had Jews. There are memorial stones commemorating the lives lost during WWII. Today's population tends to be ethnically mixed, too, but everyone is proud of their neighborhood and it shows in their creativity:

As you approach Møhlenpris bus stop towards downtown Bergen

As you approach Møhlenpris bus stop towards downtown Bergen

Mural in Møhlenpris, depicting children from different eras

Mural in Møhlenpris, depicting children from different eras

From here, I go up the stairs from the bus stop at Møhlenpris (optionally, up the hill under the cultural history museum). At the top of the stairs is our Human Rights Square, next to the human rights organization the Rafto Foundation. And now we get into what is now considered downtown Bergen, but even this area is a relatively new development, not being part of the original downtown area, but one of the first extensions of the city. We are now near the university, museums and where the rich first built modern (for that era) homes on this side of the city bay. The original botanical gardens are also here, currently in hibernation.

Human Rights Square

Human Rights Square

Fish(less) pond; former fancy homes in background

Fish(less) pond; former fancy homes in background

Our museum of natural history backs onto the gardens

Our museum of natural history backs onto the gardens

From here, the neighborhood consists of a lot of late 1800's buildings. Norway, and Bergen, were experiencing a population explosion, and were also trying to keep the number of city fires down, so larger, stucco buildings became the norm, then. Seen with today's eyes, the neighborhoods are still charming. Here are a few examples as I leave the university area:

Sydneshaugen (South Point Hill)

Sydneshaugen (South Point Hill)

Roadworks and streetcar tracks

Roadworks and streetcar tracks

It isn’t just dogs that use lampposts for messages

It isn’t just dogs that use lampposts for messages

And then we get back down into one of the older parts of town again. The neighborhood between the university and back towards Puddefjorden is called Sydnes (South Point). This is one neighborhood that still has the charming jumble of small wooden houses and cobblestoned streets that Bergen is known for.

Sydnes neighborhood

Sydnes neighborhood

A map of my walk - sort of. Tunnels confuse teh Google. :-)

A map of my walk - sort of. Tunnels confuse teh Google. :-)