books

The coolest woman in Norway with one hand

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Finally, after one hour of breastfeeding and singing, my son fell asleep. I was ready to do the same, but by now I was too awake to fall into the Land of dreaming myself. So, I put on an audiobook, as I often do when I have the opportunity and continued listening to a biography about Anne Grete Solberg. It is fascinating reading. Solberg was shot by her ex-husband and lost her arm and almost died. She was also shot in her hip, but did fortunately not loose her foot. At the beginning of her stay in hospital she felt terrible, like her life was over. But, she had worked as a couch for many years and decided to apply the principles to herself. She wanted to set a goal that would make sense to here, and landed on becoming the coolest woman in Norway with one hand.

This goal became her motivator and savior. Every time she felt sorry for herself, she remembered how a cool woman would handle the situation and got herself together. With that goal in sight she gradually built herself up again; She learned to eat with one hand, decided to eat healthy, took a shower as soon as possible, even if that meant wrapping herself in a ‘suit’ so that water wouldn’t touch her wounds, and started to exercise. Ultimately, she also decided to participate in a marathon, a goal that seemed impossible until she did it.

Solberg is an example of how far we can come, no matter our circumstances. She used her thoughts and visualization technique to cheer herself on, and allied herself with people who wanted to fight with her, to achieve her goals. She felt all kinds of emotions, but did not dwell on them until she became depressed, she acknowledged them but then moved on.

Trauma can happen to all of us. Life will throw challenges on us all, I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t suffered some loss. Building yourself up again is never easy, but it was good to listen to a story about somebody who did it.

Her book (translated: Half a body in a whole human being)

Widen the Window: Training Your Brain and Body to Thrive During Stress and Recover from Trauma

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Description

There are a lot of good books about trauma, and this is one I really found helpful and interesting. I would recommend it for survivors and helpers, since everyone will find useful information and tips in it.

Video presentation of the book can be found here

You can find the book on Amazon or as an audiobook on audible.

“I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that paints such a complex and accurate landscape of what it is like to live with the legacy of trauma as this book does, while offering a comprehensive approach to healing.”
–from the foreword by Bessel van der Kolk

A pioneering researcher gives us a new understanding of stress and trauma, as well as the tools to heal and thrive


Stress is our internal response to an experience that our brain perceives as threatening or challenging. Trauma is our response to an experience in which we feel powerless or lacking agency. Until now, researchers have treated these conditions as different, but they actually lie along a continuum. Dr. Elizabeth Stanley explains the significance of this continuum, how it affects our resilience in the face of challenge, and why an event that’s stressful for one person can be traumatizing for another.

This groundbreaking book examines the cultural norms that impede resilience in America, especially our collective tendency to disconnect stress from its potentially extreme consequences and override our need to recover. It explains the science of how to direct our attention to perform under stress and recover from trauma.

With training, we can access agency, even in extreme-stress environments. In fact, any maladaptive behavior or response conditioned through stress or trauma can, with intentionality and understanding, be reconditioned and healed. The key is to use strategies that access not just the thinking brain but also the survival brain.

By directing our attention in particular ways, we can widen the window within which our thinking brain and survival brain work together cooperatively. When we use awareness to regulate our biology this way, we can access our best, uniquely human qualities: our compassion, courage, curiosity, creativity, and connection with others. By building our resilience, we can train ourselves to make wise decisions and access choice–even during times of incredible stress, uncertainty, and change.

With stories from men and women Dr. Stanley has trained in settings as varied as military bases, healthcare facilities, and Capitol Hill, as well as her own striking experiences with stress and trauma, she gives readers hands-on strategies they can use themselves, whether they want to perform under pressure or heal from traumatic experience, while at the same time pointing our understanding in a new direction.

Review

Widen the Window is a comprehensive overview of stress and trauma, responses to it, and tools for healing and thriving. It’s not only for those in high-intensity work, but for everyone.” Mindful Magazine

“This high-octane book could give you back your life. When we experience dysregulation, we have to reclaim our core capacities and develop them to serve our health, performance, and quality of life. Liz Stanley expertly maps an inner adventure through training our attention and ability to stay grounded in highly stressful situations. Time to live the life that is yours to live, one hundred percent.”— Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., author of Full Catastrophe Living and creator of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)

“Our ‘suck it up and drive on’ culture has seriously impaired both our country and ourselves. It is imperative that we find a way to heal so that we don’t just survive but thrive. Liz Stanley give us the tools we need to create a better way of being, both individually and collectively. This book is a must-read for everyone who cares about our future.” — Congressman Tim Ryan, author of Healing America

“Our frantic culture generates trauma and stress that limit our capacity to live full and healthy lives. Widen The Window is a clearly written guide into our shocked physiology and a time-tested, practical method of regaining power over it, through awareness and attention.” —Gabor Maté M.D., author of When The Body Says No: Exploring The Stress-Disease Connection and In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts

“Like all things in life, it is how we manage—not just cope—with the pressures that envelop us all. Dr. Stanley has written an exceptional book of understanding, relating to and controlling stress and trauma.” —Chuck Hagel, 24th Secretary of Defense

About the Author

Elizabeth A. Stanley, PhD, is an associate professor of security studies at Georgetown University. She is the creator of Mindfulness-Based Mind Fitness Training (MMFT)®, taught to thousands in civilian and military high-stress environments. MMFT® research has been featured on 60 MinutesABC Evening News, NPR, and inTime magazine and many other media outlets. An award-winning author and U.S. Army veteran with service in Asia and Europe, she holds degrees from Yale, Harvard, and MIT. She’s also is a certified practitioner of Somatic Experiencing, a body-based trauma therapy.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

In the summer of 2002, I worked incessantly to complete my Ph.D. dissertation on deadline. My faculty advisors at Harvard had already set my defense date so I could begin a prestigious fellowship starting in September. Everything seemed on track for a successful start to my academic career. Well, everything except for that one minor detail I’d neglected to share with my committee: Of the ten chapters and appendixes in my dissertation, I still needed to write seven of them.

In mid-June, I finally quit my full-time job to finish it. Early one August morning, after weeks of pushing myself to write sixteen hours a day without any days off, I carried my coffee mug into my study and turned on the computer. I opened my draft, reread the paragraph I’d finished late the night before, and started writing.

I was halfway through my first sentence when I puked all over the keyboard.

After running for paper towels to clean up my mess, it quickly became apparent that my vomit was permanently lodged under some of the keys. (The space bar was especially hard hit.) No amount of wiping it up could rectify the situation.

I brushed my teeth, washed my spew-speckled arms, and found my shoes and my wallet. Outside, I threw the keyboard into the trash can and climbed into the car. I drove to a shopping center and parked. It was seven fifty in the morning. When Staples opened at eight, I was the first one in the door.

New keyboard in hand, I was back at my computer finishing that first sentence of the morning by eight thirty.

SUCK IT UP AND DRIVE ON
To be clear, I didn’t have a stomach bug or food poisoning. Rather, I’d been living for years with relentless bouts of nausea and lack of appetite.

Here’s a snapshot of me-and my overscheduled, extremely compartmentalized, and rigorously well-organized life-circa 2002: I was compulsively driven to achieve. I was addicted to demanding workouts, to maintain my body’s physical prowess. I was incessantly cheerful at work, while experiencing radical mood swings and crying jags at home. My mind raced with thoughts about my never-ending to-do list and “what-if” worst-case scenarios. My body was hypervigilant and tense from projecting an external aura of self-confidence while internally bracing against when the other shoe would drop. I was severely claustrophobic and hypersensitive to crowds, traffic, loud noises, and bright lights. Between insomnia and terrible nightmares, I rarely slept.

In retrospect, I see that the message that my body transmitted to me that morning was clever, dramatic, and spot on: At that moment, I was literally sick of this (expletive here) project and I desperately needed a break.

However, I didn’t have the time to think about that right then. I had a dissertation to finish, and I was running out of time.

And so I overrode this rather extreme signal from my body and just kept writing.

I delivered my completed manuscript by deadline. I successfully defended my Ph.D. dissertation and started my fellowship on schedule that fall.

I was also an anxious, workaholic wreck.

So how did I get here? How did I end up literally puking out a Harvard Ph.D. dissertation? Why did my body present me with such an extreme signal that morning? And why was my (mostly unconscious) default response simply to ignore and override that signal and keep pushing?

In many ways, finding answers to these questions has motivated my work over the last fifteen years. Perhaps not surprising, since I’m a political scientist who teaches about international security, in 2002 I made sense of the Keyboard Incident as my body waging an insurgency against my mind’s drive to perform and succeed. Of course, inherent in this explanation is its own recommended cure: counterinsurgency. In other words, just dig in, access deep wells of willpower and determination, and power through. Otherwise, it’s just mental weakness and laziness, right?

For many decades, I considered my capacity to ignore and override my body and my emotions in this way to be a good thing-a sign of strength, self-discipline, and determination. And from one perspective, it was. But as I’ll explain in this book, from another perspective, this default strategy was actually undermining my performance and well-being.

Of course, I’m not alone in this conditioning. It’s a common way of relating to experience that many people call “suck it up and drive on” or “powering through.” Contemporary American culture in general-and warrior culture in particular-prizes this approach to life. We’ve all heard and perhaps even admire stories of people overcoming extreme adversity or simply pushing through challenges and setbacks with perseverance to succeed. And, as I’ll explain shortly, many conveniences of our modern world exist almost entirely to facilitate our suck-it-up-and-drive-on addictions. Nonetheless, although the self-determination to power through stressors in this way can be admirable-and during certain immediate life-or-death situations is absolutely critical for survival-this way of approaching life can have some dark consequences over the longer term.

In my life, my habitual reliance on suck it up and drive on not only allowed me to meet my dissertation deadline. To name just a few other examples, it also allowed me to achieve a top-5-percent ranking at a physically demanding military qualification course while still recovering from a massive injury to my Achilles tendon; run a marathon in just over four hours (in barely-above-freezing rain, of course!) seven days after accidentally impaling the claw end of a hammer one inch into my right heel; and attain basic proficiency in a new foreign language while working 120-hour weeks before my U.S. Army unit deployed to Bosnia after the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords.

At the same time, I lived for many years an awkward double life: the outward appearance of success (as our society usually defines it) and the inner sense that I was a failure, struggling secretly with symptoms and barely holding it together. As willful as I was, it would eventually take losing my eyesight and leaving a marriage to finally understand that there’s an easier way. This book is about how I healed that division in myself-and how you can do the same.


THE GOALS OF THIS BOOK
In the course of my personal quest to understand my self-described mind-body insurgency and the devastating effects it was having on my life, I detoured into a parallel professional quest to understand how life adversity, prolonged stress exposure, and trauma affect us-and influence our decision making and performance. Along the way, I created a resilience training program for people working in high-stress environments, called Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training (MMFT), about which I’ll say much more later in the book. I also collaborated with neuroscientists and stress researchers to test MMFT’s efficacy among troops as they prepared to deploy to combat, through four research studies funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and other foundations. In addition to training and certifying others to teach MMFT, I’ve taught MMFT (pronounced “M-fit”) to hundreds of troops before their combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as many other military leaders, service-members, and veterans. I’ve also taught MMFT concepts and skills to thousands of individuals in other high-stress environments, including healthcare providers, intelligence agents, firefighters, police officers and other law enforcement agents, lawyers, diplomats, social workers, students, teachers and academics, inmates at a maximum-security prison, disaster relief workers, athletes, members of Congress, senior government officials, and corporate executives.

On my journey to wholeness, I engaged in many different tools and therapeutic techniques, including several kinds of therapy, yoga, meditation, and shamanic and mind training. Since late 2002, I’ve maintained a daily mindfulness practice. I’ve also completed many long, intensive periods of silent practice, including time as a Buddhist nun at a monastery in Burma. Finally, I sought several years of clinical training and supervision, culminating with certification as a Somatic Experiencing practitioner, perhaps the best known of the body-based trauma therapies.

Despite this wealth of experience, I often found that no one could explain to me, concisely and coherently, how or why particular techniques worked (or didn’t)-or why my responses to them often differed significantly from others’.

Thus, my original intention in creating MMFT-and the first goal of this book-is to share the road map that I discovered with you. I aim to share some of the core scientific and intellectual concepts that undergird MMFT. To be clear, however, this book is not the MMFT course-it covers additional topics not addressed directly in MMFT, but also by necessity it can’t replicate all of MMFT’s experiential practices. I’ll draw on recent scientific findings to explain how to train yourself to be more resilient before, during, and after stressful and traumatic events. My hope is that after finishing this book, you’ll understand your own neurobiology better and thereby make better decisions-without experiencing unnecessary anxiety and without criticizing your imperfections or choices along the way.

Part of why my journey took years is that there is no quick-fix way to achieve these transformations. Rewiring the brain and body to improve our performance and build resilience requires an integrated training regimen and consistent practice over time. Just as muscle growth and improved cardiovascular functioning require months of consistent physical exercise, the benefits that can result from mind fitness training require consistent practice over time, too. With consistent practice, we usually see some shifts relatively quickly, while others take longer to manifest. However, you can’t just achieve them from reading this book. Thus, I don’t want you to take my word for anything in this book-I want you to practice and observe these dynamics in your own life. Rewiring the brain and body is an embodied, experiential process. These are basic laws of nature; there are no shortcuts.

This book draws on a lot of evidence from high-stress occupations, such as the military, firefighters, police, medical personnel, and other first responders. That’s because much of the peer-reviewed empirical research about stress, resilience, performance, and decision making has been conducted with these groups. Likewise, at other points the book may seem a little heavy with clinical findings about people who’ve experienced abuse or trauma. Nonetheless, especially if you don’t work in a high-stress profession or don’t believe you have a history of trauma-and may not feel particularly connected to either category-I want to emphasize: If you are a human being living in today’s world, this book still pertains to you. Scientific evidence about how our minds and bodies work, and how we make decisions before, during, and after stress and trauma, applies to everyone.

However, I don’t just want this book to help you understand and manage your stress better. My second goal is to engage you in a wider reflection about the way that we, individually and collectively, approach stress and trauma. As I’ve noted, the mind-body insurgency I experienced in 2002 was an outgrowth of my conditioning-and thus, it embodied some deep familial, societal, and cultural beliefs, values, coping strategies, and habits. In this book, I hope to expose such underlying structures, which aggravate our stress and trauma and undermine our performance and well-being. These underlying structures not only affect the strategies we individually rely on to cope with our stress-or not. They also affect the way we interact in our families and relationships; nurture and educate our children; train, incentivize, and reward our employees; and organize our companies and public institutions. They even affect the way our nation interacts with the rest of the world.

Are these strategies aligned with and capable of delivering the desired results? Our culture seems to want it both ways: We want better performance, resilience, and even happiness, yet we don’t want to examine the wider blind spots that impede their development. Some of this wanting it both ways manifests in how many of us feel like we don’t have choice-that we’re powerless in the face of job stress, health problems, rapid technological change, or toxicity in the news. Yet it’s possible to change how we interact with these things, to relate to them from a more empowered stance. Ultimately, to feel like we have agency requires clear intentions, consistent practice of the skills that help us develop awareness and self-regulation, and deliberate choices about how we prioritize different aspects of our lives.

Enlightenment now

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If you want to read a book that will change your perspective, enlightenment now is the book for you. Even if you’re a skeptic, not believing that the world is actually getting better contrary to what the news tells us, you should read it. If it just is to argue about what he writes, that’s good too. We need good discussions, and the book gives you plenty of examples to impress others with. It’s so packed with new information that I used months reading it, just to digest everything before I continued with it. The trip to this surprising world, so much better than I though, was refreshing and showered me with hope and inspiration. Still not convinced? Why not check it out yourself ?

You can find the book here: Amazon.

If you want, I can even send it to a lucky follower of my book through audible. Just comment and it will be yours for free.

The speed of life

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Time shifts. I take another sip from a crystal glass, the red liquid slithering down my throat. The glass sits on the table, resting. It can do nothing else than be. It has nothing it to do, it just stays put.

Time shifts yet again. I know I have to go soon, to meet two small kids and N. That we will be walking through the woods and eat pancakes. I will be present, quelling the unease and nervousness that is already here. I must look at the trees and remember I have nothing to prove. I am just here, like the trees. There is nothing I can do wrong. I can just be.

When we think about the future and past, we fail to see the now. Every second ticking by is an illusion. There is nothing else than what we experience at this moment. What was before, was the now then. What will become, is another now that we know nothing about. So right now I am sitting in my bed. The glass next to me, more present in the now than I ever can be. I need to breathe, to feel everything around me without trying to change it.

If the earth was devoid of life, it would be meaningless to ask a tree: What time is it? It would laugh, and say: “It`s now!”. While our clock is ticking, we forget that time has no meaning. The only thing that matters is what you do right now.

Writing my book

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It’s been a while since I’ve been written here. That’s not a bad thing, since my priorities has been elsewhere. In October I started writing a book, concentrating on writing for half an hour each day. It’s been a new experience to finally knit a story together, seeing it becoming a book by taking one step at a time. The next weeks will be devoted to check for spelling mistakes and correct things, and then I finally will have a book created by me.

Other than that I’ve read a lot, and work has been more relaxed since I have been in a process of changing who I work with. I will work with psychosis and will be a group therapist, so I’m currently reading and learning a lot. I still have some trauma-patients, and like that. In my heart I never want to quit working with trauma, and I think that will be achievable. Patients who have been psychotic often have been traumatized as well.

That will be all for now! Hope all my readers are doing well, and I would love to hear from you!

Uncommon therapy by Jay Hayley

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This year I`ve read a lot. Some psychology books, but also fiction. One of the psychology books I`ve read, that I want to review here, is “Uncommon therapy” by Jay Hayley. The book is from my favorite therapist, who I wish I was. I have written about him before, and try to remember that nothing is impossible every time I have a client myself.

Milton H. Erickson, M.D. is generally acknowledged to have been the world’s leading practitioner of medical hypnosis. His “strategic therapy,” using hypnotic techniques with or without actually inducing trance, allows him to get directly to the core of a problem and prescribe a course of action that can lead to rapid recovery.

Milton Erickson was an interesting therapist and scientist: With creativity he tailored therapy to each client so that it fitted perfectly. He was the perfect “mirror” for others, so much that he actually could “talk” exactly like the client in front of him. He strongly believed in the unconscious, and in letting people find their own insights. He could tell little anecdotes that were completely right for the client. An example was an alcoholic that lived in a family where everyone drank (even his own wife) and drunk for several years. He was considered a hopeless case. Milton gave him a task: He should go to a park and sit down to watch a cactus for several minutes. Erickson told him this cactus could live without water ericksonfor three years. 5 years later his sister called Erickson and told him both he and his wife had stopped drinking. He also used Reframing, mirroring and the paradox intervention. And example of the first, is when he sent a rootless client to Flagstaff so that she created new positive associated to a place that just seemed negative before. An example of the second is when he met a patient that tore things apart. She tore and threw everything she saw: Clothes, curtains, wallpaper. Generally, she was acting out. Erickson stood beside her and did the same thing, he tore up pieces of the wallpapers and threw things here and there. He exclaimed: “This was fun! Let`s go somewhere else and do more of it”. They came to a hospital, where he ripped the clothes off a nurse.

After this event, the girl became an angel, not knowing that the nurse in on the whole thing. An example of the paradox intervention was telling a woman who had severe problems with her weight. Erickson told her to try a new method where she first would gain a certain weight before she started with dieting. When she no longer had to restrain herself, she suddenly lost the weight she needed.

The book “uncommon therapy” provides a comprehensive look at Dr. Erickson’s theories in practice, through a series of case studies covering the kinds of problems that are likely to occur at various stages of the human life cycle. The results Dr. Erickson achieves sometimes seem to border on the miraculous, but they are brought about by a finely honed technique used by a wise, intuitive, highly trained psychiatrist-hypnotist whose work is recognized as a major contribution to the field.

I loved the book, even when I was somewhat shock at how brutally honest he could be at times. But it seems like it works, since he always wants the best for his clients. Even if Erickson`s dead, his legacy lives on.

The mummy at the dining room table

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At the moment I`m reading The Mummy at the Dining Room Table.

In the book well known practitioners recount the most memorable case histories of their illustrious careers. Engaging and surprising stories of human behavior are dramatically and often humorously portrayed. Each chapter gives a behind-the-scenes look at how therapists work with clients whose problems and behaviors aren’t found in standard psychology textbooks. The book also shows how these eminent therapists often cure these apparently intractable problems and learn something about themselves in the process. I was especially moved By Robert A. Neimeyer`s case history “Reconstructing the Jigsaw Puzzle of a Meter Man`s Memory”, and wanted to learn more about this fascinating therapist. I found this interview, where he talks about grief. What follow is the interview, and a description of him and his thoughts about grief.

Even though grief and grieving are a natural aspect of life, it can be overwhelming physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  Robert A. Neimeyer, Ph.D. has dedicated his life to the field of thanatology through his extensive research on the topics of death, grief, loss, and suicide intervention.

Dr. Neimeyer is a professor and director of psychotherapy research in the Department of Psychology at the University of Memphis, where he also maintains an active clinical practice.  Additionally, he is the editor of two respected international journals, Death Studies and the Journal of Constructivist Psychology. He has published 24 books and over 300 articles and book chapters.  The Art of Longing, a book of contemporary poetry is his latest creative endeavor.

This interview is the first segment in a two part interview.  In this introduction, Dr. Neimeyer portrays how grief rocks the foundation of our world and how through a newer model of grief therapy called “Meaning Reconstruction”, we can explore and integrate our loss into our life.  Meaning Reconstruction is a process of healing grief through the telling and re-telling of our life stories; seeking new meanings to re-affirm and re-build our life in a world without our loved one.  Dr. Neimeyer is advancing this model of grief in his research, counseling practice and life’s work.

In the second segment of the interview Dr. Neimeyer explains a deeper understanding of meaning reconstruction grief theory and shares more of his personal and professional insights.  The second segment concludes with a reading of  his poem entitled,  The Art of Longing.

The man in an inspiration for therapists and clients who need to find meaning in their work and life.

The sound of cleaning up mess 

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Today I have started to organize things that have been collecting for over a year. When I moved into a new apartment one year ago, I had to prioritize which things to move and what I simply should store away. It took me ages to move it all, as I only had a small car and had to drive back and forth a lot of times. This meant that I didn’t exactly put my things neatly into boxes, and the task of starting to sort through it all has been daunting. But today, my head is clear and I want to make the most of that. Sometimes I need to organize things around me to unclutter my mind too. To be honest, this need doesn’t manifest itself very often, so I have to make the most of it when it happens. My mother once told me that since I am so comfortable with mess around me, I need to untangle others lives. That I need to make sense of the psychological mess people find themselves in. I have thought about that, and even if I don’t think it’s that easy, there might be some truth to it. Recently it’s been quite calm at work, so I haven’t really had many challenges there. Maybe that’s why I need to fix things around me? No matter why, it’s fun to finally go through boxes with books, clothes and dvd’s. I have collected so many things over the years, as I’m incapable of throwing anything away without mental suffering, but the plan is now to actually sell some of the things that I know I won’t need. It will still be like watching my baby grow up without me; separation from my loved belongings is like severing bonds between me and cherished memories. But, throwing away old things leaves place for something new, and I can’t get stuck in the past. 

I’m looking forward to clean up the mess and know I will feel satisfied once I’m done.  

     

The richest country in the world

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It has been a wonderful day. It started far too early, when I went to work to attend the first meeting in the morning. I had one conversation with a patient, and then two other meetings and a long lunch with my collages. In between meetings I did some writing that needed to be done, and then I was finally ready for the weekend. 15:30 I drove to a friend who wanted to borrow some clothes, and talked with her for a bit. I then went home for a quick dinner and some relaxation.

I enjoyed myself with “the body keeps the score”, a brilliant book that I probably will reread many times since it`s packed with tips and knowledge.It is like a coffin filled with gold.

Feeling richer from listening to the audiobook, I drove to one of my best friends to watch “The voice”. We talked before the show, and under it. After a while another friend came, and her boyfriend, and we all had a good evening. We tried to plan what we should do together tomorrow, as there will be a big party with events during the day too. I will go to the library, pick up the new bike I have bought, and then go to the city centre for free concerts. Later I will prepare for the night and meet one of the girls who will join me in the show choir “surround”. She is a mother of two, and needs to do something else for a change. Like me, she works with trauma, and has a hectic life. We will drink some wine, sing and then join my other friends afterwards.

It has been a really good week, and I know tomorrow will be great, too. I feel so lucky, and struggle with not feeling bad about it. Like always, I wonder if I deserve it. I have so many fantastic people around me, the best job in the world, and the chance to do whatever I want. I have finally started taking singing and piano lessons, and can now dedicate myself to music like I always wanted. My heart reaches out to all the people out there who have so little in comparison. Why did I win the lottery by being born in one of the riches countries in the world, where we have every opportunity, while others are born into countries with war and poverty? I try to remember that I have suffered, too,  and that I will help others for as long as I live. That relieves some of the guilt, but it`s still there.

To all my readers: I hope you have the same chance to lead a meaningful life as me. And if you aren`t quite there yet, that you can somehow change your circumstances and fight for the life you want.

Picture credit

The sound of busy bees

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The bees make a buzzing sound that you either run away from in fear, or simply enjoy because it reminds you of lazy summer days when nature feels like a part of you. Right now my thoughts are buzzing around in a hectic tempo. Almost like they are in a frenzy because there is so much that needs to be done. The queen bee, who organizes it all, is my prefrontal cortex. My writing tries to create an overview of the disconnected thoughts so they can work harmoniously together. I haven`t written for some time, so I needed to do so now. The need is like a crawling insect, it itches until I sit down and take my time to get it all down on paper. The bees have a need to get the honey in and I need to collect my experiences and bring them home.

Yesteday I was at a book launch where one of my friends presented his book together with another local author. My heart swells with pride, as he is a dear friend who I have known since I was 17. We have so many memories together, and many of them were reactivated today. I remember visiting him at a writing school when he struggled to produce a text for review. He was so nervous, afraid that his piece wasn´t good enough. I was flabbergasted, as I never would have been able to write anything like that myself. But he was so critical of his own work, and didn`t feel it was good enough. Funny how we compare ourselves to unreasonable standards. This can be harmful when the people we compare ourselves with, are brilliant themselves. That`s when we lose sight of our own talents, that`s when we forget that we actually are up there ourselves. I read Malcom Gladwell`s book “David and Goliat” where he discussed this phenomena. What struck me, was that students who go to Harvard or other prestigious universities, struggle more later in life, than those who choose other universities. One of the reasons, was that only a few make it to the top even if every student are really talented. But they forget that when they start competing. They start to doubt themselves, and their self-esteem are easily attacked when they don´t reach the top three percent where they found themselves in high school. Now my friend has made it, he has written a book that got published, and it proves that he has talent. I think he still doesn`t quite believe it, and I know he is not completely satisfied with some parts of the book. I can understand that, because we are all perfectionists. I am so happy for my friend the busy bee, because after all his hard work, he really deserves it.

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His book