Friday, 25 March 2011

The Magic Room

There's something secret and totally delicious about most Norwegian houses and i don't mean an edible gingerbread type thing. I mean that there is under floor heating under the bathroom floors (and if you're lucky this extends into other rooms in the house like the sittingroom) which in the winter makes it the most desirable room to be in hands down. My mum says she would like to move in there for the winter because it's so toastey. No longer do i loath the winter mornings when i barely dared to undress, almost prefering to wear my pyjamas all day under my normal clothes than to have to brave the cold, or i would have to steal myself to get out of the shower/bath at either end of the day. Now i can prance about naked in a wonderful tropical heat, no longer freezing except when i step out of the house! But we've discovered something else quite magical about this room. Our now 2 month old son Sebastian can just lie happily for hours on the mat on the floor just gazing around him and smiling and if he wont settle i can just take him to this room and he immediately calms down and starts to chat to whoever seems to be sitting at the top right corner of the mat. He's loved it from day one and i can see why!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

The Magic and the Mystery

A friend sent me this beautiful film yesterday of the Northern lights/aurora borealis seen here in the north of Norway. It's stunnng and made me feel that there is more than a little magic in the world. It also made me think, gosh 2 years now in Norway and not a even a glimpse of these famous lights, i must get a wriggle on and get up north to see them.....

It was my 33rd birthday yesterday, a day of spring sunshine, fabulous people and spoiling treats and celebrations. The day started with a delicious birthday breakfast and dancing, then adventures in the sun, including a picnic at our new house (yes we've bought a house, a house, our own house. We're totally overexcited, it's our first house and we move in on June 1st. It's such a relief after months of looking) and a raucous evening with lovely girlfriends and a delicious meal that my husband cooked for us all, the darling, he was totally amazing and i was thoroughly spoilt by everyone. Thank you for the magic!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Sweet Potatoe and Courgette Scones

Scones are my comfort food, they'te totally delicious and remind me of home and the wonderful steaming scones of my childhood spread with my grandmothers homemade raspberry jam- mmm yum! While i'm breastfeeding i find that i am constantly ravenous and in a bid to eat something healthy rather stuffing myself with more chocolate i have adapted the 'Savoury herb Scones' from Barbara Cousins book "Vegetarian Cooking Without" ( a book i found invaluable when first starting to make gluten and dairy free food) by among other things, adding grated courgette and sweet potatoe, to delicious effect.

Sweet Potatoe and Courgette Scones
Makes 16 scones 

8 oz/250g Gluten free flour  
2 tbsps/good sprinkling of oregano
1 peeled and grated sweet potatoe (small)
1 grated courgette
120g/4 oz dairy free margarine (or coconut oil)
1 tbsp baking powder
2 eggs
250 ml/ 8 floz / 1 cup soya milk or enough to mix 

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C/ 400 degrees F. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl to form a wet doughy mix. Spoon into a greased muffin tray and bake for roughly 15 minutes or until risen and golden brown.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

So small yet so culmulatively powerful

"The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.” William James

My mum, apart from being the most wonderful person and the most fabulous mother anyone could ever wish for, is also a very talented NLP/life coach, trainer, consultant and educator. She has a wonderful website that advertises what she does and recently she's added a blog. I love her recent blog post and so with her permission i have included it below:

How debilitating is your habit?

March 10th, 2011
Watching the snow falling softly, silently – a few flakes at first, growing in numbers until it was snowing heavily, blotting out the sky in a hushed, swirling, mesmerising dance.  Visibility was reduced to a few feet in front of my nose.  As flakes came to settle on my gloved hands I marvelled at each perfect crystal, knowing that each one was unique in structure. Softly innocent, silently innocuous.  Each flake was so tiny and yet, in combination with others, held such immense power to bring our lives to a standstill.

So miniscule and yet so cumulatively powerful as to transform our lives.

Remembering that spell before Christmas, in England, when it snowed persistently and relentlessly until airports were closed, flights cancelled and roads across Britain brought to a standstill.  It caused unprecedented chaos to travellers and would-be-travellers – people camping at airports until flights resumed, others incaserated in their vehicles on blocked motorways for days.

It was not all negative of course – it depended on your viewpoint.  The thick snow was a delight for children and the young at heart who spent happy hours tobogganing and skiing down any slope or hill they could find.
So miniscule and yet so cumulatively powerful as to transform our lives – for good or ill.
This power of small things to potentially immobilise us, set me thinking….
Clients often come to me saying that they feel stuck in their lives and held back by something – although they often don’t know just what it might be.  Sometimes, however, they know exactly what the imprisoning “snowdrift” is – a negative emotion, a lack of confidence, a persistent way of doing something which is detrimental to them in some way – but they feel powerless to be able to change and move forward.

The challenge is that we are all creatures of habit.  We are programmed to remember and repeat what we have learnt.  Human behaviour is almost completely made up of small habits or patterns of behaviour (snowflakes with the power to accumulate into impassable snow drifts).  A habit, after all, is only a small action that we repeat, sometimes in combination with other small actions, until it becomes our default way of acting in certain situations.  What starts as a conscious action becomes, with repetition, an unconscious part of who we are and how we act.  What was once gently fluid is now rigidly set and potentially hard to shift.  On the positive side, habits allow us to do things without having to think about them.  They free us up to make repetitive actions easily and without conscious thought so that we have time to focus on more interesting things – new things.  The draw back is when we become aware that they are not serving us any more, in fact they are holding us back, and we want to change them.  Then we discover that they have grown cumulatively very powerful and we are potentially imprisoned in their grip.  Dr Johnson (1790 – 1784) summed it up perfectly, to my mind, when he said:
The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken”.
Held back by chains
First we form habits, and then our habits form us.  Before we know it, we see the world only from our own perspective.  When that happens we begin to stagnate” – Anon

One of my clients had not been able to have holidays abroad with her family because of her phobia of flying.  Even the mere thought of checking in at the airport would render her breathless with a severe panic attack.  Another client kept thinking he must be stupid which consolidated over time into an emotional block to learning anything new and having panic attacks before exams to the point that he was refusing to sit any.  Yet another, a senior partner in a law firm, was rendered literally speechless when thinking about standing up and giving the end of year presentation to the firm.  At some level there was once a reason for the habit to have formed in the first place and had since been perpetuated, at a subconscious level, gaining in strength with each repetition.  None of these habits of thought serve these individuals any more – they are very real, immobilising snowdrifts.
All is not lost – we are not condemned to be at the mercy of our self-destructive habits indefinitely.  The snow plough can come to the rescue (find a good therapeutic coach!); the airport reopens, the cars once more drive down the motorway.  We can perform Houdini-esque escapes from the chains.  The first step is to wake up and be aware that we are imprisoned and then we can do something about it.  The key to changing any unwanted behaviour or habit is not found in our muscles but in our innermost thoughts.
We can choose to replace these old habits of thought that no longer serve us and choose to think differently.  As with an individual snowflake which is unique in its structure – each habit is unique and we can learn to identify its triggers and its many strands in order to understand it, melt it, dissolve it, and replace it with a fresh new habit that is supportive to our goals and aims in the current chapter of our lives.
My client with the phobia of flying now happily flies to new exciting destinations, with her family and friends, for holidays.  The student who was incapacitated by blocks to learning is now proudly getting “A” grades.  The lawyer who was frozen to ineffectiveness in public speaking went on to get a standing ovation.

Life changes when we change how we choose to think about things – one step or one habit at a time.  Change the little habits in our lives and the big things magically and effortlessly transform.

So miniscule and yet so cumulatively powerful as to transform our lives.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

The Unexpected

The Help Japan poster designed by Daniel Freytag in response to the Japanese disaster on the 11.03.11.  He's donating 100% of the proceeds to the British Red Cross Japan Tsunami Appeal so go and get your limited edition print.

I wonder how we all, in Norway or in Britain, would respond to a disaster like the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan? I like Laura Bruno's Blog on the subject so much that i have included the whole thing here: 

Beautiful Letter from Japan 

I found this letter circulating on Facebook and just wanted to share it here. The letter remains exactly as posted by Samantha Roddick, who says: “this is a letter my dad’s girlfriend’s friend sent her from Japan – you have to read it – it is completely surprising and inspiring.”
Before sharing the letter, I wanted to post a message from the Mayan Elders, who are now speaking openly about their calendar: “We need to work together for peace, and balance with the other side. We need to take care of the Earth that feeds and shelters us. We need to put our entire mind and heart into pursuing unity and unity now, to confront the other side and preserve life.”
They are doing this in Japan! We don’t know what will or will not happen in our own countries, but we can take hope from this beautiful letter that even in the midst of great challenge, we can rise up and embrace what it truly means to be human:
Hello My Lovely Friends,
“First I want to thank you so very much for your concern for me. I am very touched. I also wish to apologize for a generic message to you all. But it seems the best way at the moment to get my message to you.
“Things here in Sendai have been rather surreal. But I am very blessed to have wonderful friends who are helping me a lot. Since my shack is even more worthy of that name, I am now staying at a friend’s home. We share supplies like water, food and a kerosene heater. We sleep lined up in one room, eat by candlelight, share stories. It is warm, friendly, and beautiful.
“During the day we help each other clean up the mess in our homes. People sit in their cars, looking at news on their navigation screens, or line up to get drinking water when a source is open. If someone has water running in their home, they put out sign so people can come to fill up their jugs and buckets.
“Utterly amazingly where I am there has been no looting, no pushing in lines. People leave their front door open, as it is safer when an earthquake strikes. People keep saying, “Oh, this is how it used to be in the old days when everyone helped one another.”
“Quakes keep coming. Last night they struck about every 15 minutes. Sirens are constant and helicopters pass overhead often.
“We got water for a few hours in our homes last night, and now it is for half a day. Electricity came on this afternoon. Gas has not yet come on. But all of this is by area. Some people have these things, others do not. No one has washed for several days. We feel grubby, but there are so much more important concerns than that for us now. I love this peeling away of non-essentials. Living fully on the level of instinct, of intuition, of caring, of what is needed for survival, not just of me, but of the entire group.
“There are strange parallel universes happening. Houses a mess in some places, yet then a house with futons or laundry out drying in the sun. People lining up for water and food, and yet a few people out walking their dogs. All happening at the same time.
“Other unexpected touches of beauty are first, the silence at night. No cars. No one out on the streets. And the heavens at night are scattered with stars. I usually can see about two, but now the whole sky is filled. The mountains are Sendai are solid and with the crisp air we can see them silhouetted against the sky magnificently.
“And the Japanese themselves are so wonderful. I come back to my shack to check on it each day, now to send this e-mail since the electricity is on, and I find food and water left in my entranceway. I have no idea from whom, but it is there. Old men in green hats go from door to door checking to see if everyone is OK. People talk to complete strangers asking if they need help. I see no signs of fear. Resignation, yes, but fear or panic, no.
“They tell us we can expect aftershocks, and even other major quakes, for another month or more. And we are getting constant tremors, rolls, shaking, rumbling. I am blessed in that I live in a part of Sendai that is a bit elevated, a bit more solid than other parts. So, so far this area is better off than others. Last night my friend’s husband came in from the country, bringing food and water. Blessed again.
“Somehow at this time I realize from direct experience that there is indeed an enormous Cosmic evolutionary step that is occurring all over the world right at this moment. And somehow as I experience the events happening now in Japan, I can feel my heart opening very wide. My brother asked me if I felt so small because of all that is happening. I don’t. Rather, I feel as part of something happening that much larger than myself. This wave of birthing (worldwide) is hard, and yet magnificent.
“Thank you again for your care and Love of me,
“With Love in return, to you all,
Many, many abundant blessings and much love!!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Exciting Times

What is is about having a baby and needing to move on and find a new home? When my first son Theodore was just 4 months old we moved to Norway, wow, and with my second son still in the womb we heard that our lovely rented house that we've lived in since moving to Norway, and have loved, was to be put on the market. Sadly for us it then sold in january for far more than we could offer. BUT after the initial errgg of this and thinking of moving with a young baby (and toddler) we then got really excited at the thought of actually looking for the first time for a house to buy. It's definately an exciting time because who knows where we will actually move to or which house we will end up in!

We've been looking now for two months now and in the process have really explored Oslo by going to viewings all over the city, which in itself has been a cool thing. We even went to view a house we really liked when i was in the first stages of labour thinking that we didn't want to miss out on a good house and that the walk there would get things moving. The house wasn't for us but it certainly speeded things up because we went to the birth unit not long after we got home and Sebastian was born just 4 hours after that. I think the estate agent however was rather shocked when Andreas, in response to the question "is your wife all right?" as she viewed me heavy breathing on her clients sofa, said "Oh she's fine she's just in labour!"
 It's also been an interesting process in helping us to narrow down what we want in a house/ a home. We've decided more than ever that the area you live in and therefore the community around you is far more important than the actual house. Of course we don't want to live in a horrible house and there have been some horrors, but for us there is no point living in a dream house if we're isolated and miserable in it. Wherever you move to it of course takes time to build connections with people around you even if you move within the same city, which we are planning to do, so for that reason we don't want to be in an area that feels too alien in terms of the mix of people or the feel. If we could move the people we've become friends with and love from where we are right now it would be ideal, but at least we are only moving 19 minutes by tram from here so we hopefully wont lose touch with them anyway.
With every house we've ever moved into we've always written down our ideal wish list for the house in order to put it out there and strongly bring it our way. Every time it's done just that, it has attracted the exact house we've asked for down to the last detail, including anything we've forgotten to put on the list......note to self!!!Now we just need to trust that again that 'our' house will find us as long as we hold our dream house in mind and keep looking. We have 2 months before we have to move out and i'm excited to see where we end up!

Update: We found our new house in mid march and guess what, it was everything we asked for on our list, no joke! I really do believe in the cosmic wish list and here is another blog post to illustrate this point, totally unscientific but then i was never one for needing that kind of proof anyway.

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