Norway is a world-leader in terms of engagement in voluntary work, with half the Norwegian population contributing in some way. These efforts benefit both individuals and society in general. It might seem strange that one of the riches countries in the world also has such high numbers when it comes to volunteering, but I find it logical. When you have met the most basic needs, for food, shelter and protection, first then you have the energy or possibility to devote time to other things. In Norway we have manageable working hours, earning enough to live a comfortable life. Off course we have poor people here to, but our social system protects those who cannot work for different reasons. Being a volunteer is good both for others, but also for yourself. I have been a volunteer several times myself, and there really is no feeling like doing something for others without expecting anything in return. Even if I help others in my job, that’s payed work, so It doesn’t always make me feel like I have contributed enough. Volunteering, on the other hand, I do at the cost of my own time that I could have used for recreation.
My son is soon one year, and I plan to take him with me doing volunteer work. In that way he will see the value of doing something for others and experience how that feels. We are so privileged to live here in Norway, so we should appreciate that and do what we can for those who need it.
Yesterday I finally had the courage to see 22 July. In Norway that day will never be the same. It’s our 9/11, our tragedy. Norway is a small country, so we were all directly or indirectly touched by Anders Behring Breivik’s mass murder of 77 innocent people the 22th of July. Seeing the movie was hard, but necessary. I remember how surprised I was by the reactions after the attack. How the trial focused on our core values, democracy and not giving in to fear and love. I remember how people gathered in our cities, showing their respect with roses that littered the streets. News headlines from other countries also reflected the surprise: Where was the outrage ? We were suffering, but we didn’t respond with bullets or hate.
Fear is dangerous. Maybe I’m a bit naive, but the answer is not to monitor everyone to be more secure. Crimes does occur and we must always try to minimize it. I have worked with trauma through my career, and know the pain sufferers and survivors endure. But the solution is not to become overly suspicious. Some countries are closing their borders after terror attacks, to protect their own people. But we are all humans, and by having a court system where we defend people who’s committed crimes we condone, we feel stronger. Revenge seldom helps, but trying to move on and focusing on what’s important, can. This doesn’t mean that feelings of hate and rage aren’t valid. We must be allowed to feel grief and the unfairness of meaningless acts from a person like Breivik. Healing is being able to feel different emotions at the same time and realize that it’s okay. We can feel strong and weak at the same time, love and hate. But how we act on those feelings, is what matters.
I am at the airport right now, waiting for my flight to Stavanger. In Stavanger I will attend a three-day long conference where the main theme is ‘connections’. One of the main headliners is Judith Beck, widely known for her work with developing cognitive behavioral therapy. I’ve read some of what she’s written, and am excited to hear her talk about the therapeutic relationship. There will also be other known scientists and others who will talk about their work, and it will actually be hard to decide which mini-seminars I should attend while I’m there.
In addition to getting inspired, I will finally meet some old class-mates again. I’ve kept in contact with both of them since we became psychologists together, but since then one of my friends now has a little baby I still haven’t seen.
It is nice to sit here and wait for the plane. The last couple of weeks has been filled with everyday chores. We recently moved house, and that is a challenge in the best of circumstances. With two kids, it is even more busy and stressful, so sitting here, not needing to do anything, is luxurious.
I went swimming earlier today, and although I was energized there and then, now I’m dead wood. Tomorrow will be a hectic day too, since work will be busy and then I have to go right to the city center for an memory event I’ve arranged together with the library in Bergen. The memory expert is a well-known man who almost won the Norwegian talent-show, and I am lucky enough to know him. I love arranging events, but I get tired, too.
My boyfriend and his twins are traveling to Canada on Tuesday, and although I will miss them, it will also give me some peace and quiet. We have bought a new apartment and are in the middle of selling his, so some of the time I should be relaxing will be used for preparing the place for a photo-shoot. In addition to that I have planned another event, for children. A friend can paint faces, and if the weather is good on Saturday, we will be in the park and make little children happy.
On Friday I am meeting some friends for drinks, and Saturday I have to go to another party. That one will hopefully be fun, since it’s arranged by a doctor I work with. She is so nice and I have a little girl crush on her. There will be lots of people there I don’t know, but usually that is exciting and energizing. Next week I will really try to relax, by reading, making songs and puzzling. I hope my batteries will be filled to the maximum when the week ends, because this autumn will be a challenge. The mother of my boyfriends twins has moved, so we will have them full-time. They are super-cute, but also a handful when they get angry from some slight. But I think that the stability we will provide in our new home, will calm them. Hopefully.
Life is stressful sometimes, so I must remember to draw my breath and go with the flow. Only then can I handle the challenges coming up.
Two weeks ago I went home to my birthplace. One of the things I did, was walking to the mountain. Finally. High up there I breathed freely, watching the high mountains on the other side of our lake. It was beautiful. At the top I found an architectural wonder, where I could snuggle up between blankets and a good book. It was so quiet and peaceful, feeling the heartbeat of from the mountain. The sound of a rivulet, the heavy breathing as a climbed up to another top, the warm wind caressing the trees. But the loudest sound were born in the silence, where you can hear your thoughts and feel your emotions. That’s where you hear the steady heartbeat the most. It’s the sound of being alive.
The moon is hanging in the sky, looking down at my hometown. Jølster, a beautiful spot on the Norwegian map, sits under the blanket of stars, almost touching the sky with its mountain tops.
It’s eastern, and that means finally spending time with my family. We’ve eaten dinner and played board games, laughing and talking. I’ve made some songs while playing on the piano and taken a walk, watching the glittering snow relaxing on the ground. The only thing that’s been irritating me is how changed the landscape has become. Scarred by excavators eating away the green fields, have made Jølster unrecognizable. Hopefully this will lead to better roads eventually, but right now my home place has turned into a troll.
My psychologist heart tries to convince me that I shouldn’t focus on this. Instead it reminds me how lucky I am. I get to be with my loved ones and create new memories. That’s all that matters.