Life right now

Well, that was quite a week! It’s such a strange situation we’re living in, when the whole world is in the same boat.

My parents were stuck in Spain, but fortunately got to come home yesterday, so now I can finally relax at least a little bit. I’ve been so tired as a result, and even took a nap today, but that is so necessary right now – I need to be the family cheerleader so that my kids have a good time despite all the awfulness around the globe.

As a result of all this strangeness, we as a family suddenly have much more patience. Things that used to annoy us to no end barely even register. We have so much time all of a sudden, so in the midst of all this awfulness there is this warm feeling of abundance, of closeness and warmth.

I’ve also talked to my kids about being patient with their teachers. They are all doing their very best to keep the schools running, and if my kids sometimes get confusing instructions it’s just because this is a new situation for everyone. We all need to adjust to this new normal, and instead of becoming angry at people we can try to be more understanding. In fact, I don’t think I’ve been angry more than once this past week, and usually I’m annoyed with at least something, usually kids bickering. But they haven’t even been doing that too much. I think they understand that these are special circumstances, and I’m sure we’ll have arguments and disagreements as the weeks go by, but for now I’m happy that these past days have gone well.

One day at a time is my new mantra. One day, one hour, one breath.

I can feel my hands start to shake when I get too stressed, so I try to limit my access to the news and social media. That’s the hardest part! I’m drawn to all the online newspaper, and I read so many articles until I feel sick. And then I watch bunny videos to calm myself down, or look through Instagram stories – my new favorite pastime.

And in the evenings, the whole family gathers to watch Gossip Girl – our new ritual. We get up at 8 every morning, have breakfast and then the kids start their school on weekdays. We eat healthy food for lunch, and the kids cook and bake when they feel like it. And in the evening we do yoga, meditate and watch TV together.

If everything in the world wasn’t so awful, this would actually be rather lovely. We’re living our best lives in the midst of all the chaos, and I hope to keep doing it for as long as needed.

Hope you all are safe and loved and taking care of yourself!

 

RSS | Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook

The end of one very strange school week

It’s Friday, but what a strange Friday! I usually wait for Monday, so that I get a few hours to myself to do all my own projects and to just relax. But now all our routines are turned upside-down, and I’m looking forward to the weekend, and perhaps some hours to myself?

I feel like my main job right now is to be the cheerleader of the family, so that everyone will have a good time and not stress too much about the situation that the whole world finds itself in.

So. Now more than ever I try to focus on self-care. I sit in the infrared sauna almost every morning. I do yoga. I meditate and make a gratitude journal as I always do. And above all, I try to just go with the flow and not have any expectations of the day.

I watch opera with my kids if the mood strikes us.

I cook and enjoy the food.

I just lie on the floor if I feel like I need it.

And I try to be there for the kids when they need help with the school work.

I almost don’t say no to any suggestions from the kids. ”Can we have X or Y for dinner?” ”Yes!” (except when they suggest something unhealthy – we really focus on health right now. And those no’s the kids accept without complaining)

”Can I watch Netflix?” ”Yes, go ahead!”

”Do you want to watch Detective Pikachu with me?” ”Absolutely!”

”Do you want to play a video game with me, Mom?” ”Yes!” (although it ended with me falling asleep in front of the computer…!)

And the kids are having the best time! Many of their friends complain about being bored at home – not my kids! We’re going on little mini-adventures each day, with the kids doing presentations on different countries and us cooking some food from that particular country. My daughter does gym sessions for her friends over the computer. My oldest son lives life almost like before (the perks of being a nerd and a gamer!), only with a bit more opera thrown in! My youngest is a bit stressed out over letting down his teacher, but I try to encourage him and explain that nobody expects things to go perfectly in this very unusual situation.

And I’m so grateful that we started a meditation practice before all this happened! The kids have been meditating twice a day now, and do their gratitude journal at night. And every night, the whole family watch ”Gossip Girl” as our new ritual.

It’s strange living in this very mindful bubble, but it’s exactly what I need at the moment with all the horrific news from all over the world. Mindfulness and bunny videos!

   

P.S. I’m so grateful for the kids’ teachers who are doing such a great job! Thank you each and every one of you! <3 It was awesome talking to you all today, and we here at home will do our best to help you with your work!

 

 

RSS | Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook

The weirdness that is now

I took these photos just a few days ago, but it might as well have been years – the world has changed so much in so little time.

We’re all at home, all five of us, and so far it is going great. I’m technically an extrovert, but I usually need space to gather my thoughts and relax. And there isn’t much of that at the moment!

So I’m thinking: this is my challenge right now. To find space for myself while living with all these other people. To be able to write and create despite being interrupted. To find calm and happiness amidst all the anxiety.

I need to prioritize self-care at the moment, and I can feel how it is especially important right now! I need to be a good example for the kids, and I can’t be that if I’m not calm and happy. So I need to get my stress levels down, eat good food, enjoy nature, and be mindful and just accept everything as it happens.

I’m stress-crafting a bit at the moment! I watch opera and make flowers and take breaks and help the kids with whatever they need help with. We all meditate and exercise in the morning, and if it wasn’t for the small thingy that is the pandemic life would be pretty sweet.

We have each other, we have a big house and a garden (courtesy of me always wanting to be prepared – I’ve mentally prepared for this ever since the bird flu, when we lived in a small apartment in Copenhagen).

It feels so odd to go outside where nature continues as if nothing has happened.

Weird.

”May you live in interesting times” – an old supposedly Chinese proverb/curse. And these are definitely interesting times!

I try to take one day at a time. I am so grateful for my meditation practice. I am so grateful that my kids have a meditation practice. I am so grateful that my kids value their school and do their homework diligently every day. I am so grateful that I somehow through all this found a love of cooking that just popped out of nothing.

I stand in the kitchen and slice ginger and garlic, and smell the scents wafting through the house. I savor the tomato sauce that has been cooking for an hour, the aroma infused in every little bit of the stew. And the lemon peel that gives a slight after-flavor.

We cook food from different countries each day – Japan, France and Thailand so far. And I send bunny-videos to people, and watch funny stories online.

We’ll get through this, we will, and hopefully all of us will take with us valuable lessons into the unknown future. It’s weird times, folks, and my family are trying to make the best of it!

Go check out:

Kitchen quarantine with Massimo Bottura

He’s a master chef who streams from his kitchen every night – such a wonderful happy family! It lifts our spirits to watch them!

 

And look, dolphins in Venice!:

Dolphins in Venice!

 

 

RSS | Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook

What we do when we’re quarantined

How’s everybody doing?

We’re doing fine, and are having fun staying at home – which is essential if you want too keep your stress levels low. That’s one thing that everyone should really focus on right now, try to get the stress levels down through having fun, talking to loved ones over the internet, staying connected.

I do my best to give the kids a fun, everyday life, and so far they have been so motivated and lovely to be around (are these actually my kids?!)

They’ve been doing their schoolwork so well, they’ve even done voluntary assignments! The kids have been doing presentations about different countries, and then we eat food from those countries.

First up, Japan:

My daughter made some lovely sushi – some using salmon, and some just a veggie version for us that are allergic.

We even had ginger and soy sauce and ate with chopsticks! But first we got to listen to her presentation and watch some pictures from Japan.

Such a delicious meal! It’s odd  how now when we have all the time in the world, family life also changes. We prepare dinner for hours instead of just a few minutes. We aren’t in a hurry anywhere, and can just go with the flow and do what we like. Clothing optional! 😀 Apart from that we’ve introduced a new family rule – mediation twice a day instead of only just one time. I always meditate twice, but the kids have so far managed to wriggle out of it, but now they’re sitting still just like the rest of us both morning and evening.

We also do a gratitude journal every evening.

And we have a short workout session in the morning. I usually work out by myself, so it’s no biggie to simply have the kids join in.

Today we watched Carmen while I braided the hair of my youngest. It was definitely relaxing!

I try to take care of myself – I craft while I watch the news, and I try to find some time for writing. Haven’t been able to pick up a book yet, I can’t just seem to concentrate. Luckily my To Be Read-pile at home is quite large!

 

Here are some more online resources:

Räkna med mig – teorifilmer för åk 7-9

If you speak Danish, Randers Regnskov holds daily half-hour talks about an interesting topic.

450 free Ivy League courses

Free classical concerts online

 

There are free meditations, workouts and sleep stories on Calm

 

RSS | Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook

Self care and the care of others in the time of Coronavirus

Well, this turned out to be a much different March than I had thought! I’ve been sick on and off the last 6 months (several bouts of the shingles), and I tend to get asthma and my immune system is definitely down. We decided to voluntarily self quarantine and keep the kids away from school.

This dystopia we live in is so far not at all the way dystopias are usually described as in books and films. People are usually mean and selfish in those, but in real life, there are so many loving and giving people.

Here are some free online resources to help us all cope with the current situation:

2 months free yoga from the lovely do yoga with me-team

Parenting and Coronavirus Webinar – what choices should we make, how to talk to your kids about this whole situation

 

Skype a scientist

The Metropolitan Opera offers free streaming of some of their live performances

 

 

These two articles about health are really good:

Lifextension’s article

Examine’s article

We have upped our intake of probiotics in the form of kefir. Kefir can help stave off infections or make them milder.

 

Don’t forget to support small businesses as much as you can! We’re living in strange interesting times, that’s for sure, and how the world will look at the end of this is anyone’s guess. But what is certain is that we all create our future together, so let the love flow as much as you can!

 

P.S. If you have a great link to a free resource – please feel free to share it! My family and many more need everyday life in this very special situation to be a bit more fun, a bit more mindful and filled with gratitude!

 

RSS | Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook

Waiting for spring

It felt as if winter would never come, but just when we had given up old King Bore (the Swedish Winterking) decided to make his entrance – snow everywhere, and rain the next day!

I had already started to imagine it was spring. Then I realized – but it is spring, inside our home! Colorful things everywhere, lots of prettiness to see, and with some nice music in the background, the spring feeling becomes enhanced, no matter what the weather is like outside!

…but on good weather-days I simply go out in the garden and look at the flowers!

 

RSS | Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook

Happy Kalevala Day!

It was bound to happen – I got hooked on Kalevala and the whole Finnish mythos! And now I can’t get enough of articles, books and even plays on it.

Kalevala is a Finnish epic, a collection of songs about myths especially from Karelia, a region in eastern Finland. It holds its own alongside the Odyssey, the Iliad, the Eddas and all the rest of the world’s local epics.

And it’s just something else – a look into the psyche of a people who lived hundreds of years ago. Not frozen in time in the same way as those previous epics were, because these songs were amazingly written down only in the 18th & 19th century! That gives them a completely different narrative curve than written epics have. The stories don’t seem to follow our western ideas about narrative. Which can make them a bit challenging to read, but also fun and very, very interesting for a geek like me!

We recently attended the Kalevala-play at Åbo Svenska Teater, and I think it must have been one of my top 3 best theater experiences ever! The choreography, the scenography, the stories told – it all lifted the Kalevala in a way you rarely see. Unfortunately the show isn’t still running at ÅST, but the book is still available in multiple languages – I read Kalevala in Swedish, and the translation by Lars and Mats Huldén is excellent!

My favorite story (for the moment) has to be the allegory about how Christianity came to Karelia and kicked out the old gods (Väinämöinen). In this story, Marjatta is a maiden so chaste that she can’t eat the meat of hens who have known roosters etc. Then she goes to the woods and sees a lingonberry bush. And one of the lingonberries travels up across her body, through her mouth and she becomes fat, even fatter, the fattest. Until she gives birth to a boy. That particular story was just hilarious at ÅST, with the round red berry-theme.

P.S. Tolkien borrowed heavily from both the Kalevala and the Eddas – which is why you can’t simply use old Norse and Finnish mythology when you write your stories! It’s so much fun to read the old mythologies and see what he was inspired from. And perhaps get inspired yourself.

RSS | Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook

In my own little corner

Another Granny blanket finished, this one was a mistake made when I was very, very tired and forgot I had a whole bag full of Granny hexagons somewhere in my study! I was planning on giving away the blanket as a gift, and thought I had counted wrong. Turned out, I hadn’t, so I ended up mistakenly crocheting an extra 80-100 hexagons or so…

When life gives you an extra bag full of hexagons – make a blanket!

We slowly unpacked after visiting Vasa and the TV-show Strömsö last week. I haven’t gotten around to editing the pictures from that trip yet, but I have gotten around to unpacking all the DIY-jewelry etc that I brought for the TV-show. They are strewn here and there in my room, being decorative (unlike their very tired creator!)

The panda on the craft cupboard is one my daughter made one day. She thought we needed a panda! We obviously did, because it’s been hanging on the cupboard door ever since, after a brief stint on another door.

I sometimes collect souvenirs – other people’s, not my own! When I travel I don’t want to lug home a lot of cheap souvenirs, but I don’t mind buying them second hand when people get tired of their own souvenirs. And then I only buy things that remind me of places I’ve been.

But right now I’m quite happy staying where I am! The sun is shining, our house is warm thanks to our stack of firewood and the kids are growing up and becoming really interesting awesome people to be around!

 

 

 

RSS | Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook

The Enneagram – a shortcut to mental health

If there is one tool I would wish every parent has in their tool-box, it’s the Enneagram.

I’m always searching for tools that can facilitate communication and through a lot of research (including becoming a psychologist myself), I finally stumbled upon the Enneagram. The Ennagram is a symbol for the fears and defensive mechanism that all people have. In short, it’s a roadmap to what would make you unhinged. What are your hang-ups. Which is your brand of crazy! And it also offers a way out – the way of growth.

Finding this tool has made such a huge impact on our family. It took a while to find the right resources, because there is so much bad stuff written on the Internet about just about anything, and especially about this too. I especially like Beatrice Chestnut’s material. She is a psychotherapist, so she speaks the language of a scientist and can help others use the Enneagram in a meaningful way, not just as a parlor game trick or something. (here’s her article on Object Relations and The Enneagram)

Beatrice Chestnut’s book is called The Complete Ennegram. There are also panel discussions with her that are super-useful, and now she even has her own podcast on Spotify, along with her partner Uranio Paes.

This has by far been the most helpful tool for our family. We have each found our numbers (2, 6, 7 and 8) and subtypes (mostly sx) and that has given us the roadmap for why there are tensions in the family and what to do about them. We are all growing so much thanks to that, because now instead of guesswork we have a map to use.

Our defensive mechanisms are seemingly there from birth, and the traumas in our lives only sharpen them and make them stronger (which is their purpose – they are meant to defend our egos). And if you walk too long on an unhealthy path it can be difficult to find your way back to a healthier place. That’s where the Enneagram comes in. It can shave off years of therapy if you’re lucky, so that you know the exact area where you need to focus your attention.

It took me about a year to find my own number (I don’t think there is a good test for this – the best way to learn is through studying it or through an expert), and when I did it was really painful! It can sometimes take a lot of courage to look yourself in the eye and see yourself for who you really are, but when you do you can also grow. Not everyone wants to do the work of growing, but for those who do – this is a really handy shortcut. Cultivated probably for millenniums, because humans have always had a yearning to understand themselves and others. Learning what emotions and defensive mechanisms drive each of us can lead to so much more peace in the world, starting with your own little family.

 

 

RSS | Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook

The gingerbread house that was

one of the things I love most about gingerbread houses is that they are made for eating.

And one fine day when the feeling is just right, the house gets smashed and ruined!

Edible art at its best, and it wouldn’t be so delicious if it wasn’t for the fact that it has been standing there looking pretty and enticing.

A reminder of how fragile everything is – we just see the destruction of some things a little bit quicker.

And there is something beautiful also in ruins!

The gingerbread ruin – not made to be a ruin, but that’s how it turned out!

And I kind of like it. It makes room for us to make another house next Christmas. The little tomte has definitely moved out! But I have a suspicion he, and his friends, might move back into our house in ten months’ time or so!

 

 

RSS | Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook