Invest in What’s Important

Since I revised my life, moved up the mountain and found my little house, my home has
really become my castle. When I first saw this little chalet I helplessly fell in love
with it! It wasn’t conquered that easily, but finally it became mine. It was an investment
of a lifetime, and now it is also my main source of expenditures… At the same time my financial situation became a bit strained, so every penny spent needs to be thought over.
What do you do when you face major investments?
A new roof was needed, and since the roof is the most important part of the house, there
was no way around this huge expense. The house was built 35 years ago, and the old
eternit roof started to crumble. These kinds of roof tiles are not used anymore because
they contain asbestos, so it felt good to replace them with something else. However, my
main interest in putting on a new roof was the insulation: there was none before, because
the house had always been a vacation home and nobody had lived here all year round. On
winter mornings it was around 12°C (inside!) – a bit too chilly even for my taste. So, last
summer I decided to make this effort and get a new roof with proper insulation.
What a procedure it was to get the What, How, Who and When figured out! With a year’s
delay we finally got it all together and this summer local enterprises did the job. They
put up huge scaffolding and even I had to fold in half trying to get in the front door.
Only one man and one woman (our local hero Flavia, an incredible lady!) did the whole
job. I tried to keep out of the way, but it was really interesting to follow the whole procedure.
With masks on they removed the eternit tiles and then the old wooden construction
underneath, and then they applied a thin protection against humidity under the
insulation. It had not been easy to decide on what to use there: I wanted organic
materials, but unfortunately the organic insulation materials are not (yet) half as
efficient as rock wool, so I decided to use 16 cm of that. Then the builders applied
a new layer of protection and a new wooden construction on top of that. Finally came
the most important part: the new top layer.
In this region slate roofs are tradition, and I just love them. Big, irregular pieces
of slate are used, it’s a real art to lay these roofs and obviously they become very expensive. Alas, no option for me. Normal tiles was one possibility, but then the local builder came up with cupa slate tiles. These come from Spain, are darker than the slate normally used here (nowadays imported from Norway, Italy or even China!). They are cut by machine, and are about the size of normal tiles, so they are easier to work with, and therefore the price was reasonable. I don’t regret this choice a second: this roof is strong and beautiful and it will last a lifetime.
Very rarely I can allow myself this kind of expenditures, but when I do, then I prefer to pay a bit more and get something that will last. Investing properly in what is really important is my credo. And I love the idea that my grandchildren will still be able to benefit from my beloved chalet and its beautiful slate roof in the future.

Isn't it a beauty, my new roof..?

Isn’t it a beauty, my new roof..?

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Life’s Surprises

We met again after ten years and suddenly everything changed. Suddenly my life seems
different, my center of gravity is upset and my feet search for solid ground.
I had installed myself in a world of my own choice and found my own little way of life,
with full freedom, depending on nobody but myself, my wishes and spleens. Of course life
does not want to be lived that neat and orderly. Of course life drew a line through my
bill. A person reappeared in my life and shook it to the core – and I am okay with it!
Now I have to find solid ground again. Or – do I really..? Perhaps it’s time to let go
of the ever thinking, planning and controlling part of me and just see where this
leads me?
Such a chemical reaction between two people is a gift from the universe and I will not
blow this chance to let it change me, to develop and grow “beyond my wildest dreams”.
Thank you life for your teachings and for all the infinite possibilities you present me with!
Have You ever experienced something in your life that felt like destiny?

Running towards something new

Running towards something new

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Enjoy Being Celebrated

With all the firm convictions I have about how to live a good life – eating healthy and doing sports, dropping the ego and being there for others – my life might seem a bit austere. It’s clear that my first command is to practice what I preach, but exceptions must be allowed to reach a good balance.
Once a year I take a day just to indulge in whatever I crave for, to celebrate myself and let others celebrate me too: my birthday! I don’t feel bad about it at all – I just fully enjoy allowing all the light to shine on me. We all need a day when we feel special and unconditionally loved.
This year I have a “zero birthday”, and my daughters wanted to do something special for it. I hesitated because I don’t particularly like being the centre of attention, but then I realised how amazing it is that they actually want to celebrate me! Why shouldn’t I let my near and dear ones show how much they care for me, and enjoy it?
It was an amazing celebration: my daughters organised a wonderful dinner party for a handful of close lady friends in Sweden. It all started earlier that day with my older daughter telling me there was a surprise gift in the closet. Suspecting nothing I opened the door and out jumped my younger daughter!! She lives in England and just started off a new education, so “apparently”  it would not be possible to come. It was the happiest surprise ever! Later we all enjoyed a superb three-course dinner together; an unforgettable evening, full of laughter, wonderful memories, delicious food and wine, fun and play.
Having moved around a lot in my life, my friends are spread out all over Europe, so it’s impossible to do a big party for all of them, and frankly: I prefer smaller, more intimate parties, where you can actually talk to each guest. However, my absent friends joined us on another frequency and were with us in spirit!
After the dinner party, Part II of this amazing birthday celebration will take place on the day itself: an amazing Celebration Day in wonderful Copenhagen with my daughters and my brothers. They planned it all, I only know that there will be some interesting visits, lovely meals, cool places and a surprise guest! And yes: I will certainly enjoy every single second of it without any feeling of “why all this fuss about me..?” I am so totally worth it!
There’s even a Part III of the celebration to follow, and I will most certainly enjoy that to the fullest, too. 🙂

The beginning of a wonderful evening

The beginning of a wonderful evening

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Easy & Exquisite

You can stand in the kitchen preparing a nice meal for hours, and it can be absolutely
worth it. But sometimes, if you get just the right ingredients, you can create something
so easy, and yet so delicious in a very short time.
On one of my latest hikes I passed by the high mountain pasture Le Chiesso above Nax,
two villages further away. This is one of the pastures that also has a little bar and
their own “fromagier”, a cheese maker. In this pasture there are not only cows, but also
sheep and goats, and all their different cheeses are very famous, so I got a “tomme de
chèvre” (a soft goat cheese).
In our common village garden – a garden that people in the village share, both the care taking and the produce – the cherry tomatoes were just ripe, so I picked a bunch,
fried them in olive oil, seasoning with salt, pepper, fresh thyme, winter savoury, oregano
and rosemary.
Then I served a nice chunk of the soft and perfectly ripe cheese with the tangy but still
very sweet tomatoes, a handful of toasted walnuts and some home made bread. The luscious texture of the cheese and its not too strong goat taste married perfectly with the fresh acidity of the tomatoes and was nicely rounded off with the crunchy walnuts and a complementary glass of red wine. Pure delight!
If this this is something you are interested in I would be more than happy to share a
more exact recipe in another blog post.

Ripe for the restaurant!

Ripe for the restaurant!

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Moon Child

Tonight I’m unable to fall asleep. I toss and turn in my bed, thoughts chase each other
and nothing seems able to calm them down. Impossible to control the whirlwind in my
head by counting my breaths or doing a body scan!
So I get up and have some almonds. Perhaps I was hungry? Then I look out of the windows
towards the mountains, and I understand my unrest. The full moon shines brightly and
it is as if it was looking right at me, calling upon my attention. It pulls me into
its spell. Moon, what do you want of me?
I go out on my balcony and stand face to face with the shining planet. Its milky light
embraces me and I feel an urge to communicate with this magical planet. If I were a wolf,
I’d howl! If I were a poet, I’d write wistful verses, expressing my longing. Now I just
stand there, bathing in the cold light.The crickets play and I hear a bird calling.
Suddenly a cloud starts sliding past the moon, hiding its upper part, as if the moon
were closing its eyes. I think it’s telling me to go back to bed. “I’ll help you to calm
your rushing thoughts”, the Moon transmits to me, silently caressing my head with it’s
silvery glow.”There is nothing to be solved. Life will unfold the way it has to unfold,
and you should just relax and enjoy the ride.”
I bid the Moon goodnight and go back to bed. I feel its benevolent glance on me and
there’s peace. Slowly my thoughts come to rest, and shortly after I’m sound asleep.

Note: Research on the effect of the full moon on humans is very contradictory – some
say none at all, and some say it does make us sleep less – but that doesn’t matter to
me: I know it influences me, and I enjoy our special relationship…

Pleine Lune! Photo by Gérard Georges

Pleine Lune! Photo by Gérard Georges

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My Body is My Temple

“Don’t you realise that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)
Most of us probably do, but do we live out the real meaning of this quote: a harmonious
unity of body and mind; equal, simple and straightforward?
We all agree that we should not neglect our bodies. Our lives are very incomplete if we
only live in our minds. Not only is there so much pleasure to be felt through our bodies,
but it is also the form in which our souls manifest on this earth. Without a body, no
human life is possible.
The body’s needs are simple: good quality food in moderate amounts, enough sleep, lots of
time and movement in nature, tenderness, care, and good hygiene. That’s basically it.
The body does not need to be driven to the edge by extreme exercise, nor does it need a
very special fruit, flown in from the other side of the world. It does not require
cupboards full of expensive clothes or the latest fitness gear, or extravagant skin
products at equally extravagant prices.
In our culture we easily overdo things and we are terrified of old age and dying. We think
that the more attention we give our body and the costlier its treatments, the longer it
will stay young and healthy. We worship our bodies and make them as strong and
beautiful as we can afford (time-wise and money-wise) in our constant urge to be seen and
admired by others – and because we think that by looking young we will stay young…
The unbalanced cult of the body is equally insane as an unbalanced cult of the mind &
soul. We need to keep all three healthy in a simple, relaxed way, and in unity enjoy life, show love and care for others and be happy.
My body is my temple. But it’s not my God.

Hiking asks for - and provides - a healthy body

Hiking asks for – and provides – a healthy body

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In Between Seasons

Summer still lingers on up here: temperatures at midday are around 25C and I’ve been
able to hike in shorts and sleeveless tops. Every day like this is a precious gift,
and very consciously I enjoy the fresh breeze against my skin, and try to store away
the late summer warmth and sunshine deep in my soul.
The air is exceptionally crisp and clear this time of year, and the colours start
turning towards a golden yellow, and bright orange, and a warm red. Heather is
blooming, blueberries are ripe and the mountain slopes explode in vibrant autumn
colours. Yes, the season is definitely changing and on my morning hikes I already
need gloves – it’s just above 10C…
However, autumn has not yet fully entered the scene. On some days I can still have
my lunch on the balcony, butterflies still flutter among late blooming flowers and I
can still wear my shorts. Yes, that’s my special summer symbol 🙂
How I love these Indian Summers, and how deeply I enjoy them with all my senses! Well,
isn’t it always when you see the end of something, that you experience it with particular

Those colours...!

Those colours…!

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Closing a Circle

The Circle is one of the most basic symbols of mankind (read more about it here). To a large extent our natural world is made up of circles, starting with the Earth, the Sun and the Moon. Our lives seem to move in circles: we often return to the same places, events, and people. The human life also forms a kind of circle: when we’re babies we don’t move much, we need all the support we can get and in our very old age we return to that state.
At 88 my mother is slowly closing her circle. The last years she has completely stopped walking, her vision and hearing have deteriorated, and she sleeps most of the time. It feels as if we were follow her slow disappearing.
Since I live far away I can only visit her every second month, which feels far too seldom, especially as talking by phone does not work anymore. My only way to keep in touch in between visits is writing a little letter once a week – then at least she knows I’m thinking of her.
Such a sad and strange feeling to follow a dear person taking farewell from life slowly, but surely. It is as if mother were retiring into her centre, only opening up the “windows to the outside world” every now and then. When she does, luckily she is still fully there: she recognises me, asks for my family and friends and sometimes she even comment on what I’m wearing or my perfume. These little glimpses of mother-as-she-used-to-be make me, and all of us, very happy. They help us to understand that after all she is still among us because she wants to. Perhaps she will stay until the circle of life of a new generation is about to start …

Those moments, when she smiles her special smile..

Those moments, when she smiles her special smile..

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When it’s summer my wish to knit is normally zero and my knitting projects rest
peacefully in their big rattan basket. But this year I attacked a new project in
the middle of August – a pillow case. It’s a contract work and the idea wasn’t mine,
but I really like it, and any good ideas for presents are always welcome. If you have
some, please share them!
I don’t know what it is about knitting, but once you’ve started, you easily get obsessed:
you want to knit day and night, all the time. Unfortunately such behaviour can – and
has – result(ed) in inflammations in your tendons, so I have to control my knitting urge
and take it a bit easy.
During decades of knitting I’ve worked with “everything” from intricate lace pattern
scarves to simple potholders, I’ve done large cardigans for XL men and tiny socks for
newborns. Most fun was knitting sweaters for my children when they were small: not
only did they get something unique, but also of as good quality as to last even for
the next generation 😉
Anyone who has ever knitted will agree: it’s definitely addictive. Once I’m busy with
one piece, I immediately want to start with the next one. Colours, patterns, yarns,
other people’s ideas… it’s all so inspiring! Suddenly I remember all the half-finished projects in my rattan basket as well, and pick up a second one directly.
The only way I know to avoid pain in tendons or other negative results of excessive
knitting is to put on the timer: one hour of knitting, the I have to do something else.
Does anybody know any good stretching movements for hard-core knitters…?

Even in a hand-knitted sweater, you're sad when you lost your flower...

Even in a hand-knitted sweater, you’re sad when you lost your flower…

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Books That Inspire

It is not the first time I read “The Untethered Soul” by Michael A. Singer. Already
six years ago, I was struck by the simplicity of the author’s writing and how he treats
the important theme on how to find back to your original self, and to live life lighter
and more fully.
In five Parts Singer writes about Awakening Consciousness, Experiencing Energy,
Freeing Yourself, Going Beyond, and Living Life. It’s about personal development, but
not with superficial bullet action lists on how to change your life. He is more like a soft-
spoken mentor, inspiring us to release and let go of the clutter in our minds and in our
lives, and become more connected to the universe within and around us.
Among other points Singer stresses how important is to realise that you are not the voice
of the mind that never stops talking, commenting, taking sides, and getting all wound up
about what you think is happening. You are the one who hears it and “the best way to free yourself from this incessant chatter is to step back and view it objectively”.
In times of spiritual unrest, this book has inspired me to meditate regularly again, and
to concentrate on what is important in life. I warmly recommend it to anybody who wants to “transcend the part of you that is not okay and needs protection”.

NB: Meaning of untether
1. To disconnect: an opinion that was untethered to reality.
2. To free from restraints: The experience untethered his imagination.

Reading under the trees in my garden enhances the whole experience :-)

Reading under the trees in my garden enhances the whole experience 🙂

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