I received the book at last! It just took me a couple of months waiting 🙂 Apropos waiting. I find it a great way to prolong joy and happiness. It depends on the type of waiting, of course. But what bothers me is the fast-paced culture we are living in, when everything must happen pronto: fast food, fast fashion, 4G network, 24-hours delivery. Isn’t it crazy how quickly we get used to the speed of things, which would take long time – just a decade ago? And I wonder if with all the bonuses of speed and comfort there are side effects. I find, there are. We get stressed, impatient and ungrateful, when we take the fast delivery for granted. While I want to come to the old-fashioned truth: “Waiting for things is as happy, or maybe more happy, than receiving things”. As we move into the holidays season, it is easy to understand. It is not the Christmas Eve that makes us so happy, but also all those weeks of preparation, hearing Christmas songs, joyful expectation that make the season so priceless. I would not hop directly to the December, 24 now – would you?
So I decided to view waiting for this book as an exercise of joyful expectation. And I enjoyed every bit of it. And, oh, another bonus – the book tastes so much sweeter after all those weeks of waiting. The book I am talking about is “A Paris Year” by Janice MacLeod. I was writing about how she seems to capture my dream of Paris and make it true here. I made a wish for this book for my birthday in September, I made a research about which bookstore in Oslo sells it and got a gift card for it from my friend. Some time after my birthday I joyfully (hopped) walked to that store – and found that the book was not there. Neither was it possible to order it in the online version of that store. So I walked out, sat on the bench, made an order on Amazon – and got an estimated delivery period of almost 2 months. Uii. I could choose the faster option for sure, but I thought: ok, this is a present, it is not something you need urgently, so you can wait and find happiness in it. And guess what – that was worth it. Whenever I would think of the book, I would feel happy. And when it finally arrived last week, I even waited a day to unwrap it. I find this version of events even luckier than if I had found it in the store on that very day.
In the previous post I started to write about the movie “Julie and Julia” and was swept away by the inspiration to share the story that has influenced my life in a profound way. But there is one more theme in the movie that is worth writing about. The theme of the work that saved their lives.
Julia Child, played by Meryl Streep, falls in love with France and exclaims: “I feel I AM French!” And, oh, I exclaim it together with her. I too love France, and France in the movie is so pretty and lovable. Julia discovers her taste for the French food, and she plunges with enthusiasm into cooking courses, though she has never been fond of cooking before. With this newfound passion she keeps herself busy in the landscape where it is easy to become a boring expat wife with no meaningful occupation. On her way her interest for this work gives her new meaning, new friends, and later it gives her a professional call and even fame. As Julie Powell says it: “She saved herself by cooking”.
Julie Powell is also saved by the love for cooking. And blogging about it. It fills her grey days with colors and tastes, with meaning and enthusiasm. And that saves her also. Giving her a chance to be a writer as she had always dreamt of, giving her new opportunities.
Do you have a story or a hero that has changed your life? Can you say that some of them have saved you? I think, I have, and I am lucky to have it.
Two days ago I watched the movie “Julie and Julia”. It is a history of two lives, both real: one is of Julia Child, an American lady who lived in France, fell in love with cooking there and wrote a book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”. The second one is of Julie Powell who seems unhappy about her work and moving to Queens, so she starts a project of cooking all the recipes in Child’s book during a year while blogging about it. Her story becomes a book too, and a movie, as we see. According to Julie, Julia Child had saved herself from falling into bored expat wife in Paris by discovering her passion, and she saved Julie. While Julie’s husband says: “No, you have saved yourself”.
“There is no bad weather, only bad clothes”, goes the popular Norwegian saying. That is right – and it is also wrong. I would say, that there is a weather that makes you feel down. While the sunshine makes the body to produce another happy hormone serotonin, the darkness leads to production of melatonin, a hormone that makes us tired and passive, which is necessary at night so we can fall asleep. In autumn there is less light which makes us feel down, sleepy and passive. That’s why it is important to meet the season prepared, with good knowledge of yourself and some strategies.
During those few days I was in Barcelona it was so easy to wake up and feel enthusiasm. Even though it was hard to fall asleep because of the unruly thoughts about the political situation, it was enough to see sun rays through the window and feel the rush of energy. When I was landing in Norway, my eyes were so in love with the colors of autumn, and I joyfully breathed in the cool crispy air. Few rainy days later and I was afraid of S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder) creeping on me as it used to do in the past years. Luckily, I had made a list of activities that I was looking forward to this autumn. My list of joy. I feel moved to share its ideas here – maybe, you can borrow some for making your autumn better and brighter. I want to keep myself off the beaten path and leave out the things like warm teas under fluffy blankets. These tips seem to be well known, and I am sure, that we all do them in autumn 🙂
After I have caught an explorer excitement about the city where I live here, I was inspired to share the collections of things that catch my attention. Like my collection of backyards, or balconies, or details of Oslo. In my first years in this city I was sharing my collections of doors, old cars and lights of Oslo on Facebook. Then when Instagram came, and I have seen shots of the beautiful doors, I was again running around the city looking for the pretty doors and facades. My friend even mentioned that I should post more photos of myself than of doors (but I disagree :)).
I also want to introduce the idea of micro exploring. That concept came to my mind yesterday, but I would not be surprised if it already exists (as it often happens with some ideas occurring to me :)). A quick search of blogs here on WordPress led to the Ted talk by Alastair Humphreys who introduces the notion of micro adventure. A further research is to be done. But here I am not to claim the originality of the idea, but to speak my heart about it. I feel that this is what the world needs right now. Or maybe, this is what I need right now :)) A shift of focus. The discovery of beauty in my immediate surroundings.
I am a lover of colors and think that the life is too short to be less than colorful. When asked about my favorite color I used to answer: the rainbow (before I knew the symbolism of rainbow :)). I love how multiple colors can play together and I find nature to be a perfect example of it. We people got a bit too serious with rules, as well for color combinations, and prefer to wear black if we want to look stylish. I respect stylish people – but really inspired I get by individuals who are not afraid of showing their true color and mixing it up. Like Frida Kahlo. Like those fashion bloggers who make you smile with their sprinkle alert.
If cities were people, what kind of person your city would be? I have lived in several cities around Europe and they were sassy, cosmopolite, rich in culture and history. Staying in Oslo after that was like staying with a relative in a village. Predictable, familiar, but, gosh, somehow boring and uninspiring. It took me several years to hack the code of Oslo. Its charm does not serve itself as a flirty social butterfly at a cocktail party. Instead it is to be explored and discovered, and if you have the appreciation for detail, you will be rewarded in your search for beauty.
Last week my interest for exploring my own city was rekindled. This week I have spent in excitement and inspiration, falling in love with the place that I thought can hold no more surprises for me. So if you feel a bit stuck in your relationship with a place you live in, grab your camera and go out for a walk. For me taking pictures is like a ritual of appreciation. When I notice something and stop to snap it, I feel so alive. It is like showing gratitude to life for all the beauty it sends our way. A happiness-boosting process it is.
Another inspiration came from searching through blogs here on WordPress. I found a post “Oslo is colorful” by Kjersti Lier and was instantly obsessed with her project and her images. She has made the series where she shows that Oslo truly is a colorful city. Go check her vibrant collection, it is so lovely. Can you believe that I used to see Oslo as Northern, bit boring and gray place? I cannot believe it myself! Because Oslo is really full of colors.
I happen to live in the country that has given to this world the great explorers like Roald Amundsen, Fridtjof Nansen, the Vikings (who sailed all the way to North America). These guys have set kind of high standard for what exploring means, and, honestly, sometimes that bothers me. Do you also have this idea of exploring the faraway shores, thick jungles and mountain tops that are untouched by the foot of a man? Then I check the Instagram feeds of travel bloggers with their perfect sets in places that I don’t know how to pronounce, the flowing dresses, hats and hipster backpacks all there. I look at them, I look at me – and in my eyes you can see a reflection of an abyss that seems impossible to jump over.
But where is this distance? It’s only in my head, and no one is really stopping me. And I don’t even need to buy tickets to the exotic destinations, pack my suitcase with mosquito sprays and first aid kits, and risk my life hanging from the cliff with my camera in order to call myself an explorer. My mind is like a kid, it needs a picture attached to the word. So these are the pictures I have attached to the word “explore”. But recently I came to realize that exploring is the spirit, not the destination, or a dangerous activity or a cool shot on Instagram. It is more like an attitude, a mind mode that you can tap into any time and any place.
Now I understand why the school starts in August in this country. As the summer madness fades away (as it does here in Norway), the new appetite for knowledge wakes up. At least, inside of me. I am not happy about summer fading away so soon – but I love this hunger for learning sending its calls. I am not going back to school this year (and sometimes I miss that excitement), but as a self-educating student in the school of life I have found some great material this week. And burning to share it with you.
Is anyone else here in the same trouble? It looks like the summer has brought, with its warm breeze, longer days and vibrant greenery, a break on writing. As I go around in my summer businesses, drifting further from blogging, there is also a rising feeling of guilt about not keeping up with this project. And the longer I feel it, the more difficult it gets to sit down and write something.