Dec 31, 2012

Leaving 2012


It's New Year's Eve 2012. I'm in jeans and a wool sweater, not in my high heels and sparkly top. My plans for a productive day and a party for one have been sidetracked.

I feel lazy and low-key. And thoughtful.

My neighbors are not being low-key; they've been shooting fireworks sporadically all evening. I sit here wondering if I should look out my window and see the colors and sparks.

Nah.

I'll wait till midnight.

The neighbors will be bringing out the really fancy stuff then.

***

I usually prepare a meditation of sorts for myself, but not this year. I don't desire anything. Is this lethargy or peace? It's definitely new.

Maybe I just got so engaged in the end of the world December 21 2012 (in a very fun way) that I've already had my end of the year focus.

2012 has been the most low-key year I've had in years. I haven't fussed with anything. I haven't had any drama whatsoever. What new and unusual I have experienced has gone well and been pleasant.

2012 has been about wrapping things up. Bringing closure. Forgiving and moving on. Accepting the march of time. Acknowledging that the next phase of life will be one of aging.

A corner has been turned, with no more fanfare or effort than turning any corner.

***

Buddhism teaches that the only way to be free, to leave this Earthbound existence and its resemblance to Hell, is by giving up all desires, even the good ones. As long as we want something from a bodily existence on this planet, we will keep returning for a bodily existence.

After seeing how wonderfully well ho'oponopono works in my life, I find myself more and more drawn to neutral. The ho'oponopono goal of returning to zero seems to me to be exactly the same as buddhism's search for nirvana.

In 2012 I patched things up with my parents, meaning I ended my life-long expectation of being hurt by them. And with that, a life-long habit of keeping them at arm's length. The new habit needs tweaking and that probably is a good New Year's resolution.

2012 had a number of firsts for me and still I have the feeling of tying up loose ends and packing the past into boxes to finally go into storage instead of being constantly left out to trip over.

That reminds me: Time to get the Christmas stuff stowed away, too.

***

I wonder if my lack of excitement for the evening, my lack of desire to shape the coming year with a midnight meditation is a good thing: A buddhist lack of desire. A lack of interest in one's own life is not good and not what I want. Quite the contrary: I want to get more passionate in the year to come. I want to set the internet and Facebook aside, and focus once again more on reading and writing.

That's actually what prompted this post: Friends posting "Happy New Year's!" on Facebook. I found myself unsatisfied with merely clicking "Like" or replying "Thanks, you too!" I wanted something more -- substantial.

However you mark the end of one year (and calendar) and the start of another, I hope it's safe and joyous.

Sep 17, 2012

Smiling at strangers

He gingerly makes his way slowly down the footpath on two crutches. He is on his way to the mall, the center that is the hub of my part of town, where we shop and socialize.

He looks to be around 70, and seems spry in spite of the slow two-crutched walk. He is tall and skinny.

He walks to the mall every day around 5 pm. I walk home from it, often at that time, and so I pass him. Sometimes just as I come out of the mall, sometimes as I near my apartment. We walk the same path, so we meet.

I don't know him, but I've noticed that he's grown a mustache over the summer. I've noticed that we keep meeting, just the two of us. And because I think he looks nice, and he obviously lives in my neighborhood, and we keep meeting like this, I feel it is time we start saying hello as we pass.

I try a careful smile, one Leonardo da Vinci could paint, well aware that women should not be smiling at male strangers. His blue eyes meet mine, but he doesn't smile back. Rather, he looks startled. My little smile quickly fades.

Still, I do this again every time I meet him. His startled look is getting less startled each time.

Today it is raining and to my relief, he has a hooded jacket on. The last time I saw him, on Friday, he was not covered up in the rain.

I do my Mona Lisa impersonation. He responds with one of his own today. My smile then becomes a proper wide one.

I hope he liked it.

Aug 11, 2012

Have camera, will wander


There were only two things planned today: My haircut and taking some pictures of a Bergen still enjoying summer. OK, a vague third plan: Getting off the bus one stop after the usual one.

That last was due to the surprise I gave myself going to the Paul Simon concert last month: The bus stop closest to the concert arena was no longer in use. I had to get off around the next corner and walk back along the fortress walls. That evening I saw bluebells growing right out of those walls, and today I was going to try to get a picture.


As the bus approached my chosen stop, I discovered that a cruise ship had docked and dozens of people were walking towards the town center. I walked in the back gate to the fortress grounds so I could set my own pace since I had a hair appointment. No bluebells growing out of these walls, but I did see another woman with a camera strapped to her wrist: The "meter maid" photographing possible violators. So I waved my camera at her and exchanged a greeting.

We haven't had much of a summer so today's sunshine and mild temperatures were a welcome change of pace—a chance to get another taste of summer before the inevitable end. So I didn't feel like going straight home when I stepped out into the lovely summer air as I left the hair salon. I decided to go see if my favorite little coffee shop by the funicular station was open.

The funicular station itself had a longish line. The girl in the coffee shop told me that she'd seen that line stretch all the way to the end of the block, and that it was mostly due to cruise tourists. I got my double latte with macademia nut syrup to go and as I walked back to the funicular station, ran into a tourist who wanted to walk up to the top of the funicular, the look-out point on Fløien. I told him to just keep going up. He set off at quite the pace. I saw other tourists and idly wondered if one could get lost "just going up". I've made a wrong turn just going down.


I started up various stairs and twisting roads, pacing myself, stopping to take pictures and sip coffee, working up a sweat in the sunshine. I got up to the old fire station and found some actual firemen. I asked one what they were doing, spraying water onto a pond, and learned that they tested their pumps every Saturday morning. I've never walked in this neighborhood at around 11 am on a Saturday, so I didn't know. By the way, firemen are not macho. So said a fireman. They are primarily nurturing, more concerned with saving human lives and team spirit than being the first to enter a burning building. I did kick myself afterwards for not flirting with the guy I talked to.

I continued on my way up the hill, and having finished my coffee, pondered options: More coffee? More walking? I decided to skip coffee, stop walking up and start walking down. The first bit of road was familiar, but with my decision to aim for the neighborhood of the bus station, I ended up on streets I'd never walked before. I became a true tourist.


The charm of walking around in Bergen are all the tiny alleys. There's no harm in trying out some of the steps and narrow passages; most are public thoroughfares (man, I haven't seen that word in a while!). I followed my own advice and ended up on some of the crookedest stairs I've yet encountered in Bergen. Sometimes you hit a dead-end walking down some steps, but you usually don't get far before discovering that. These narrow passageways were originally the paths of brooks coming down the mountain, and brooks often have rocks that are pretty good for stepping on so they also became paths. Eventually, the brooks were laid in pipes (Bergen was one of the first cities in Norway to get modern plumbing) and paved over with cobble stones or fitted with stone steps. Here's a hint for you, the tourist: If you see a sign that reads "Ingen gjennomgang", then that alley isn't a through street. The sign means "Not a through passage".


Eventually my wandering in unfamiliar streets came to an end. I passed by the train station and main library to my bus stop and discovered that I had about 20 minutes until my next bus. I browsed bus brochures inside the bus station, and donated money to the Salvation Army. I know they are homophobic and I'm not Christian, but Norway's been changing, resulting in increasing numbers of low-income families that get free groceries from the Salvation Army. I wanted to help buy groceries.


Nice weather makes me more tolerant and generous. Today wasn't the first time sunshine not only lightened my mood, but opened my wallet. At the bus stop, a fellow with the slow voice people who have been substance-abusing for a while have hit me up for money. He was Norwegian. I gave him a largish bill and he was very grateful, even shaking my hand.

I was reminded of the last time the sun shone and I gave money to a beggar: Some Asian-looking grandma with five teeth shook my hand and blessed me several times as a thank you. Like most Norwegians, I am conflicted about whether or not to give money to beggars. We are all told that the government will provide food and shelter for anyone in need and yet we meet more and more individuals down on their luck, hoping for the kindness of strangers. Some are foreigners who spend their summers in Norway, hoping to feed their family at home by holding out a cup.

I stood in the sunshine, clean, well-fed, not going to miss what I had given, and decided that if it is true that we are all one, that everyone else is actually a facet of me, then I hope I've set up some good karma for all my me's—in this lifetime and others. (Or maybe there truly is no "recycling" of souls, like the sticker on this garbage can suggests:)


And as I write this, it dawns on me that I didn't tip the barista. Dang.

Jul 23, 2012

Travel and other thought-provoking summer events

10 days in a bus can still teach one a thing or two. Like how asphalt will tent in extreme heat, blocking the whole autobahn. Or how upsetting Norwegians find dealing with older German tourists who speak fondly of their time in Norway back in the 40's (I'm sure some US GI's have made the same faux pas when visiting Europe). Or that whatever may be going on financially, the Germans and Austrians still manage to keep the sides of their roads manicured. Or that words like "cup" and "large" don't translate at all. It's "large cup" in English, "grosse Tasse" (more or less) in German and "stor kopp" in Norwegian. My German was terribly rusty, but I did manage to use it. And I discovered that German-speakers have something in common with the French: They love that you try to use their language.

So, this year's summer vacation was a bit early for me, and it feels like I didn't actually have a vacation. Still, I'm happy I took the bus trip to Bodensee (or Lake Constance, to you foreigners).

My grandparents loved traveling in Germany and Austria. I do, too. Our bus driver was part Austrian (another WWII-related faux pas) and I have roots from the Berlin area and Bavaria. We talked about genetic memory—whether or not our genes not only gave us physical characteristics, but also a bond to the place those genes evolved in. We both felt there is something to the hypothesis. Something about feeling very at ease with the people and the landscape.

Since last I traveled on the continent, I've gone low-carb. Avoiding bread went well. I love that Germans and Austrians like soup. I had several good ones, and our hotel in Bregenz had very good food. I had Steinpilzensuppe in Meersburg for lunch, simply because the waiter knew the English word "mushroom". Also on the menu there was Flädlesuppe but our waiter didn't know enough English to explain, and said something about shellfish, so I took the mushroom soup. I have now learned that "Flädle" means pancake. Just as well.

We ended up in Meersburg on the day we took the ferry from Bregenz, a regular ferry service. Lake Constance is huge, and our ferry took 3 hours to Meersburg with several stops on the way. At one point, the wind picked up and made the sea choppy; on land, we could see lightning striking. I wandered off on my own, only to discover that I should have paid closer attention when the guide said "a good 20 minutes to the top". The top I got to after 10 minutes wasn't the top she meant. Long story (10 minutes of trying to not panic): A taxi took me to the tour bus parking lot. Yes, I got to be a typical tourist: Lost. (I also discovered that cell phones are like currency: They function best in the country of issue. I wish somebody would figure out how to make the things global, like credit cards.)

I was quite charmed by Bregenz. Just the right size, and conveniently located for seeing the Bodensee area. Photos with comments are here. There are three pages and none of them link back here or wherever. The reason for this is that I can't figure out WordPress (after all) to get my website going, and I don't like publishing photos without captions. I'm always wondering what I'm looking at when I view other people's non-captioned photos, so&hellips; If and when I get things fixed, this blog post will have updated links.

When I got back to Norway, I just vegged. Tried to figure out what to do my last week off from work, and did nothing. The newspapers were mostly about the Romani people camping in Oslo and who have received a lot of vitriol in person and in online comments. And then the newspapers started revving up their articles about last year's tragedy and how people were doing now a year later and what the commemoration on the first anniversary would be like.

Sometimes I wonder about the timing of these things. Sometimes it seems to me that the Universe is setting us up deliberately so that we humans can learn our lessons. A traditionally undesired group of foreigners camping in our capital is juxtaposed with the anniversary of one of our own killing other Norwegians because they represented (in his mind) a too lenient attitude towards foreigners.

Norway has traditionally been a homogenous and skeptical country, easily xenophobic even towards strangers from other parts of Norway. There are voices now suggesting that we do need to address this side of ourselves. We can't pick and choose who to like and support. We know now that we too have crazies who will act on their beliefs and with violence, and that the target isn't necessarily the people we don't like. Quite the contrary: Innocents are always the victims.

I found myself swayed by the headlines and comments until some good journalism made me read up a bit on the Romani. I discovered that how they fare in each country they are in depends a lot on the country. The country's own attitude about the Romani determines whether or not they become a problem. Just like with individuals, expectation and assumption influence outcome.

Gypsies in the streets, former German soldiers on vacation… I once said to a friend that ultimately the past doesn't matter; there is no healing those wounds. What matters is how you handle the present. Try not to add to the injury. Try to create something good right now.

Jul 9, 2012

Bats, birds and turbines

Sailing out from Copenhagen, on the ferry bound for Oslo, we pass by a long line of wind turbines standing tall out in the water.


As "green" as I am, I have never liked the looks of the modern three-bladed wind turbine. There is something about them that bothers me. When I watch them turn, I find that there is no evenness to their rotation; visually, it looks to me like three Barbie doll legs, one "falling" down after another. (I have rarely seen these things moving so fast you can't make out the individual blades.)

Apparently, these turbines are not as environmentally friendly as we are led to believe. In the county of Rogaland in Norway, one array is noise polluting a nearby neighborhood. I have read that the maximum three blades on modern turbines is chosen because it makes a minimum of noise. Still, anything that big, rotating in the wind, will make some sound.

Another array was put in a white-tailed eagle breeding area two counties north of where I live, in Smøla. Within months after starting up, more than a half dozen birds—a vulnerable species—had died from colliding with the wind turbines. However, it turns out that birds have a tendency to crash into man-made structures, anyway. It's not just wind turbines, and I saw myself a sparrow (most likely) fly right into the side of our office building one day. I have no idea if the poor thing made it, but since it flew straight into concrete, I doubt it. So, the real issue with the Smøla installation is that man-made structures are placed in a known breeding area for several vulnerable bird species, not that the structures are wind turbines. (A similar issue applies to the Altamont Pass energy farm in California.)

It turns out that the slower moving blades I've observed are due to newer turbine design, with larger blades. This slower movement helps birds detect the blades and avoid them.

Sadly, this doesn't alleviate another problem regarding flying animals. Bats are still crashing into wind turbines—or rather, next to them. Echo location means bats will not collide with the turbines themselves so researchers were baffled by bat deaths around turbines. The likely explanation is that because bat lungs are different from birds (i.e. bats have mammalian lungs—a flexible balloon-like structure which can collapse or over-expand), bats are more vulnerable to a sudden change in air pressure. There is a marked difference in air pressure in front of the turbine blades and behind them - like the difference in air speed flow above and below an airplane wing—and this is what affects bats. Bats are vital to insect control and therefore agriculture, and like birds, many bats are migratory. Bat death in one area could adversely affect all ecosystems along the bat's migration route.

I am sad that this is happening to bats. I like them. I have never found them creepy. Rather, this little flying mammal fascinates me. Happily, people are trying to solve the problem.

I started writing about wind turbines because I think they are creepy-looking, but I now have no reason to believe that they represent an energy source that is harmful to us or wildlife—not if we are careful about placement and try to solve the problems that some flying creatures can have with them.


Footnotes:
  1. How Stuff Works' article on birds and turbines
  2. One of several reports from Smøla wind park on birds
  3. Bat death due to barotrauma

Jul 1, 2012

Writing sensation

There is something about a blank sheet of paper and a comfortable ink pen, and putting those two together. There is also something about having spent years preferring the speed and ease of touch typing and so ruining what legibility my handwriting used to have.

Girls seem to go through stages of testing our longhand more so than boys do. During puberty we try on dotting our i's with hearts or circles or inventing a new way to make the loops on our g's and y's, the same way we try on new shades of eye shadow or doing our hair. Some of the experiments become habit, while others are short-lived fads.

My lettering changed to a predominantly Norwegian style since it is simpler than the US style—even though the Norwegian lower-case "t" had me baffled at first. In school, we regularly practiced stringing letters legibly together with a fountain pen—the kind that uses cartridges; I still have my stainless steel one for sentimental reasons. The bump formed on my middle finger from where the pens and pencils of my youth would press is still there, never to go away even if its attending callous has no matter how much I type. I wonder if any of today's girls will ever experience such an alteration to a finger?

It is said that writing by hand demands a connection between thinking, seeing and doing that typing misses out on. Writing by hand demands that your hand make rather complicated movements to produce lines, loops and circles while you're simultaneously putting an entire unrelated thinking, the whole process monitored by your eyes. Typing takes away the attention to the actual form of the letter. (The things you learn, looking up Indiana school decisions.)

I sometimes think that computers remove us from using our sense of touch. And yet, my sense of touch is one reason why I love to type on a computer. I have the fingers on both hands racing across a jumble of letters. I delight in how speedily my fingers can move with hardly any error (aided by my eyes on the screen), how my digits can produce my thoughts almost as fast as I think them. Or, how my thoughts slow down just enough to let my fingers work, leaving me not knowing exactly where the thought will end, but constantly in the moment.

I type better than I write, and I can type faster legibly than I can write legibly. Therefore, I prefer typing. I don't really like editing handwritten things; I don't like the mess of crossed out words or redrawn letters because the first try (or two) was too sloppy. There are times when I can't read my own handwriting because I was moving too fast, and then I have to go back and retrace. Yes, I could use a pencil with an eraser (I never can use a pencil without), but I press hard and constantly wear down the point. I prefer ball point pens.

In the interest of adding more writing to this blog, I need to write—and write more. Since I don't lug my laptop around, and screen keyboards on tiny screens have obvious limitations, I have to write by hand. I still enjoy the feel of a good pen, a nice medium point, ink that flows smoothly, a grip that rests comfortably against the bump on my middle finger… And maybe, just maybe, I'll get my handwriting back. Maybe I'll be able to fill up page after page without too many retraces of lax s's that look like r's or m's missing some of their humps. I'm actually looking forward to finding out.

Jun 25, 2012

Passing on stuff I've learned: Food

These last 18 months have led me down paths I wasn't expecting to travel. I'm basically challenging my own paradigms. Here are my thoughts about food:

I have come to realize that no one can live well and healthy without animals, not even vegans. According to everything I've been reading and hearing about nutrition since I went low-carb in August of 2010, we need agriculture to continue to feed ourselves, but what we don't need is industrialized or petroleum-based agriculture. That type of farming is destroying our soil (which adds to global warming) and our health (lack of omega-3 in meat, for example, and lack of nutrients in vegetables).

Organic agriculture preserves soil, plant and animal health, and in turn, our health. Humans are not in competition with animals for food. The logic that vegetarians (I used to be one) buy into is that it's better to give the grain directly to people, rather than feed it to cattle because it takes 6 (or 10 or 18 or even just 2, depending on your source) pounds of corn to produce 1 pound of meat. The problem with this "logic" is that cows shouldn't even be eating corn. They should be eating only grass, a food humans cannot eat at all. Cows are fed grains only because the US has a huge surplus of corn.

We should demand that all meat from herbivores be from grass-fed ones only. No exceptions. The vegans and vegetarians should fight for this, too. Without farm animals, there is no source of organic fertilizer for all those healthy, organic vegetables. Without grazing herds cutting and fertilizing grass, grass dies and we get land erosion.

What we really need to do is treat farm animals as well as we treat ourselves, whether or not you choose to eat them. That's how much we depend on them.

By the way, I've learned that cows aren't the only ones not able to digest grains: Humans can't, either. Once I experienced the remission of my IBS simply by eliminating grains in my diet, I threw out my old paradigm of "vegetarianism is the best option". There has never been any human society that evolved on a vegan diet and the only society to never have a medicine man lived exclusively on meat and fish (the Inuits). I followed all the IBS advice, eating more soluble fiber (from grains, naturally) and swearing by brown rice for health. Still I had troubled digestion. So I gave up my beloved müsli; I no longer hurt after a meal. I still have IBS; it comes back whenever I eat grains or too much sugar. And no, it's not about gluten. I wish I knew exactly what it was. Maybe there's something to the blood type diet after all; I'm a cave woman: Type 0.

In order to find inspiration for other breakfast than cold cereal, I got into low-carbing. That put me back in the healthy BMI range, without exercise. This is still a work in progress. I keep listening and reading and learning more stuff. One of the other claims I used to make, I can no longer make: That plain ol' sugar won't hurt you. I am learning that it will. In fact, if one applied the definition for addictive substances (like alcohol) to sugar, sugar too would be a controlled substance, to be kept away from children. I'm still in the process of addressing what's left of sugar in my diet. Dr. Robert Lustig's description of the damage fructose does is downright frightening. Still, I haven't given up chocolate, and I don't yet want to.

Footnotes:
  1. The book "Beyond Broccoli" sums up all the of the current knowledge/research about diet and nutrition that the government won't tell you.
  2. I heard about "Beyond Broccoli" on Jimmy Moore's Livin' La Vida Low-carb show.
  3. Sugar regulation and why, an interview with Dr. Robert Lustig, and a good introduction to our relationship with sweet stuffs.

Jun 18, 2012

TL;DR - and TL;DW

I think the most frustrating experience with the internet is TL;DR—too long, didn't read. I have a long list of longer articles that I know interest me and that I want to read but the energy just isn't there. Or the focus isn't. Or the time.

How annoying! All this knowledge literally in my lap (or at least near it), and still so out of reach!

I was reading about how productivity may be killing creativity over at Lifehacker, an article about how we distract ourselves by staying online rather than allowing ourselves to go offline and "'do' less and 'think' more". There was this long quote from "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" that, at the time, was TL;DR. But I knew I wanted to. I knew it was about my hunger for something more than status updates, for information that feels deep and significant and not like another piece of trivia.

Once again, I find myself wanting to write. To rekindle my existence on my blog, because, honestly, this is where I live—in every sense of the word. This is where I want to share what's happening with me, this is where I want to do my thinking and feeling—not on Facebook or Twitter.

Blogs are still a full meal, while Facebook and Twitter are snacks and lattes. So let me go back to that quote about the loss of the metaphorical "slow food":

The Chautauquas were pushed aside by faster-paced radio, movies and TV, and it seems to me the change was not entirely an improvement. Perhaps because of these changes the stream of national consciousness moves faster now, and is broader, but it seems to run less deep. The old channels cannot contain it and in its search for new ones there seems to be growing havoc and destruction along its banks.

I'm not sure if havoc and destruction apply to the effect the internet is having on us, but everything else Pirsig is saying fits—and we are a good 35 years on since he wrote his maintenance manual. Which, by the way, is actually about mindfulness. In a world where we are inundated with sound bytes and short messages and multi-tasking, mindfulness is becoming the next big thing. People do want depth, and pause, and room to both explore and finish a thought.

Sitting here, ignoring the fact that it's past my dinnertime, losing myself in typing, thinking, wondering how my reader(s) will receive this has been a wonderful moment of down-time, of focusing on one task. This little bit of writing has calmed me.

TL;DW: Too long, didn't write.

Not any more.

Jun 9, 2012

You know that fly-buzzing-against-window thing? Code is cracked.

How many times haven't you had a house fly or some other flying bug buzzing against the inside of a window? You open the window and the insect still bangs and buzzes everywhere else against the window except where it's open.

I've gotten pretty good about talking wasps back out of my apartment when they've flown in. Yes, I talk to them. Or I pray. Basically, I'm trusting the unseen part of nature, the part that instinct relies on, to help me communicate with the critters around me. They sense my energy, my intention. I've experienced this time and again and today I had an experience that drove this point home for me.

If you've ever wondered why a fly casually walking on the window suddenly goes nuts all over it when you approach, here's the answer. I approached such a fly this morning, and opened the window for it. It immediately buzzed and bumped all over the part of the window farthest from me. And suddenly it hit me: The fly was panicking. It assumed I was some kind of threat to it, and it had suddenly gone all desperate, trying to find a way out that wasn't near me.

I stood there, trying to convey calm to it, unsuccessfully. It continued its panicked dance on the inside of my window. It wasn't until my thoughts drifted away from the fly's situation to my own (how long do I stand here holding the window open?) - i.e. my focus moved away from the fly - that the fly itself moved in my direction, this time far enough down to where there was an opening and out it flew.

Coincidence? If you like living in a world where nothing wonderful ever happens, then yes, it's just coincidence. Me, I acquired a new understanding of house fly behavior and the invisible forms of communication.

May 13, 2012

On miracles and mothers

A miracle is an authentic switch from fear to love. When we speak from the ego, we will call up the ego in others. When we speak from Holy Spirit, we will call up their love.

In 1967, my whole family fell apart. Mommy, Daddy, baby sister and I all ended up at separate addresses. I spent the next eight years living with my maternal grandparents—seven of those years in Norway. I saw my mother every two years during this, and my father and sister not at all. No wonder my parents’ divorce left me in such turmoil. It wasn't the end of just a marriage; it was the end of an entire family. The harm done was lessened with the love from my maternal grandparents.

The problem with not growing up under the same roof as your parent(s) is that you end up not knowing them. Nor they you.

For over 40 years, my mother and I struggled with having the label mother and daughter, but not the relationship.

In metaphysical circles, we are told we get the parents we deserve because we planned it that way. Rich parents, abusive parents, no parents—we set it up before we were born.

Today, at the age of 51, I can finally see the wisdom of my spirit’s choice. Without my mother, my path would have been quite different. Because in the middle of the fights and the screams and the passive aggressiveness (we were becoming masters at that), there was also Science of Mind, pride in being an independent woman (my mother taught me how to check the oil on my car), make-up and fashion lessons, a love of puns, and Canasta. And she gave me my awesome name; I love my name! She also gave me a spiritually aware grandmother.

Every time I look in the mirror I see my mother’s eyes and mouth. I apply make-up using skills she taught me decades ago. And I wish I were ambidextrous like her because it would make applying mascara a bit easier.

For the first time in all the years I’ve been seeing her in me, I have not tried to shrug the feeling away; I have not brought up my old desire to be nothing like my mother. Now the features I’ve inherited from her are a welcome reminder of her.

It’s welcomed because of a miracle.


We all come into this life with some lesson to learn, some kink to work out. For those of us into reincarnation, we know that the people we have the most intense (good or bad) relationships with are also the people who love us enough to help us learn in this life.

In spite of knowing this, I have spent over 30 years constantly revisiting and protesting at the injustice of having a difficult mother, at times also claiming I am unloved and unwanted, and I can prove it! The thousands of miles between us have been a blessing, dammit!

The entire world is blessed by the presence of healed people. […] ‘When I am healed, I am not healed alone.’

Last year, I tripped over the word ho’oponopono, a Hawaiian word that means to make right. Ho’oponopono is a forgiveness method. In searching for more information about this method, I heard of the book “Disappearance of the Universe”, which led me to “A Course in Miracles”. That last is still a bit heady of a read, so I detoured via Marianne Williamson’s “A Return to Love” (from which all quotes in this blogpost are from).

Williamson’s book was what I was reading when I visited my friend Ann in California this past Christmas. Just after New Year my mother drove from Nevada for lunch with me. The morning of her visit, I found myself doing the ho’oponopono thing: Acknowledging my responsibility in the situation I was in.

As I thought about meeting my mother again for the first time in over four years, my head filled with Williamson’s description of what loving relationships are, I thought about my difficult mother—and said to myself to be nice to her. After all, she’s had a difficult daughter; I had done my share of keeping my distance over these years.

And with that, something shifted. A calm inner knowing that that acknowledgement was what I needed in order to move forward.

During my mom’s visit, she suddenly started talking about how disappointed she was that I hadn't offered to visit her while in the States, and I mentioned asking for her new street address but getting her P.O. box one. I added something about my turn in making an assumption I probably shouldn't have made. And from there, the conversation shifted to a full apology from my mother about not having been such a good mother to me. The most amazing thing to hear for me! The one thing any hurt daughter wants to hear from her mother.

I told her I loved her. To her face. Something I had been loathe to do before.

And then we hugged, a good, squishy, tight hug, and neither wanted to let go. I can't remember when—if ever—we'd hugged like that. We did it three times.

Decades of pain just … gone. A miracle.

Healing occurs in the present, not the past. We are not held back by the love we didn’t receive in the past, but by the love we’re not extending in the present.

A new pain crept in. Now it hurt to see her leave.

But that’s the one pain we are supposed to feel with our loved ones.

This is my mother (on right) and her formerly difficult daughter:


I am proud of my mother. I am proud of where she’s taken herself over the years, how she has always stayed strong, shouldered her mistakes and learned from each one. Now she’s passing that on to others, as a practitioner at her church. All that life experience bundled into one charming, elegant and witty woman. I genuinely like my mother, and I am happy to introduce her to you.

Mom, thank you for all the healing in this lifetime.

I love you so much.


Your daughter,
Keera Ann

May 10, 2012

Oppholdstillatelse / residence permit - news

Damen hos politiet ba meg bruke jungeltelegrafen. Om hva? Jo, at nå skal det bli slutt på "stempel" i passet, dette innlimte arket med dårlig bilde og gyldighetsdato. I juni begynner ny ordning med et plastkort (sikkert med like dårlig bilde) og to års gyldighet.

Kortet ordnes med personlig fremmøte (som nå), men sendes i posten etter 2 uker. Det vil si at du bør være ute i litt god tid før utløp av oppholdsbeviset i passet i tilfelle du skal reise utenlands. Kortet kan ikke brukes som ID-kort, men må vises sammen med passet i passkontroll.

Det med personlig fremmøte kan også endres i fremtiden. Nå skal de ta fingeravtrykk, men i fremtiden kan det være mulig å ordne mye via nettet - i det minste booke tid så du slipper køsittingen.

Sa den hyggelige damen hos politiet.




This page in my passport tells Norway to let me back in when I've been abroad.

The lady at the police station asked me to use word of mouth. About the changes in the residence permit. Currently, a printed permit (and a horrible picture) is glued into the passport, but starting in June, the permit will be a plastic card.

The card will be valid for two years only. You have to apply in person (like now), but the card will be sent to you via the mail about two weeks' later. Which means you need to give yourself some extra time to renew your permit. The card is not valid ID, but must be presented with your passport when traveling.

They will also fingerprint us foreigners, but it may be possible to get a lot done via the 'net - or at least book an appointment so you don't have to sit around and wait.

Said the nice lady at the police station.