Costs of living and shifting down

The very first thing Mike and I did after we had decided that we were going to move from New York to Sweden and take one year “off” from “normal life” was sit down and draw up a budget for… well, for everything. We listed categories such as monthly costs (inevitable, after all), ski trips (we knew we wanted to go on many of those), renovation of the house we were going to buy and move to, setting up a garden, unexpected expenses, savings we always want to have as backup etc. And then we put a certain amount for each category (the monthly costs-category was multiplied by 12), added them all up and voilà – that was the sum we’d need to pull off the move and the year off. We added up our current funds at the time and calculated how much was left to save up. And then we got to work.

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Intentions for 2019

I might have mentioned at some point that I’m a daydreamer extraordinaire – and always have been. I can still remember this one recurring daydream I used to have as a little girl, that would pop into my head the times I walked home from school in the rain. Holding my umbrella, I envisioned how there would be a button to press on the umbrella handle, and how – once I pushed the button – the umbrella would shoot up in the air, and underneath it, there would be a giant sort of ‘net sack’, full of pillows and blankets, where I could sit and be cozy, all the while I’d be flying through the air. And thanks to the umbrella, I wouldn’t even get wet! My point isn’t so much that I drifted off into imaginary worlds as a child, because most of us did, but that daydreaming has been a big thing for me my whole life. And more importantly, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to treat my daydreams as my number one place for my visions – no longer a place of childish fantasies, I have my daydreams be what I want to become, reach, accomplish, do, witness, make come true and all of that. I find infinite strength in allowing my mind to paint the picture of, for example, scoring a book deal one day. Or winning a big race. Or becoming completely self-sustaining. I have (finally) left flying net sacks behind and moved on to their perfectly possible yet (somewhat) far-fetched goals that fill me with endless motivation, inspiration, drive and eagerness to work hard. Not hard as in all-consuming, stress-filled work, but work… my way. Our way. And how does this relate to what I want my/our 2019 to hold, you might wonder? Well, because my daydreams are what I want, essentially – so the answer is right in there.

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I Am an Adult Child of Divorce

When I was 24 years old, my parents separated. I was an adult, perfectly capable of taking care of myself – I had traveled the world, lived by myself for several years, created my own life – yet it completely destroyed me. I felt as if I couldn’t breathe, as if life was over, as if everything had been a lie. I didn’t want to live as a part of this new family scene, to be honest. And I felt ashamed. Deeply, painfully, excruciatingly ashamed. See, all throughout my childhood, our family had always seemed the steady one. The family where there was lots of time spent together, where there was no drama, where we laughed plenty. You know. It was… all good. My parents always held hands when they went for walks. They never fought, or even raised their voices. We traveled together. Played cards together. Dealt with life together. Our little group of four (I have an older brother) was always my rock, my point of safety. And I thought of it very highly. But ever since I was a little girl, I’d been scared to death my parents would one day divorce. I had them promise me that would never happen every single night for years when they tucked me in at night. I asked them if they loved each other often, I asked them to tell me exactly how much. I couldn’t stand the idea of them even disagreeing about the smallest thing. Due to the disconnect between what I lived (a safe, solid family life) and what I was afraid of (that it would all come tumbling down), it’s hard to understand why my fear was so pronounced at such an early age. Until my parents actually did divorce, I didn’t suffer any traumatic separations. I have – thankfully – never lost a loved one or been left by someone I cared for. And, as I’ve already touched upon, my parents’ behavior never indicated to me that something was seriously messed up. Yet, I was terrified. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that I must have been picking up on subtle signals and maybe even subconscious actions and reactions without reflecting upon it myself. All 5-year-old me felt was a deep, endless fear that I would end up as one of those kids with divorced parents. From as early as I can remember, that was my absolute nightmare. I can still, at the age of 31, feel the fear I felt then. That I would be one of those kids. The kids with a troubled family situation. The kids who had to keep track of mom-week and dad-week. The kids who were sent to school without a properly packed backpack because one parent thought the other one would take care of that snack, that change of clothes, that signed note, that homework. I feared being forgotten about. Left to fend for myself. And what others would think.

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Dual Cultures, One Marriage

Thanksgiving is approaching quickly, and so is our upcoming trip to New York. We decided this summer that we’d go celebrate it with the American half of our family, and as much as it weighs on my climate conscience to be hopping on a flight across the Atlantic, I’m really looking forward to going. Before we get started, speaking of flying and living eco-consciously: you all know that we’re doing our very best to minimize our carbon footprint and live in harmony with nature as much as possible. We are both painfully aware of how detrimental air travel is for our climate, but opting out would mean we’d never see one of our families ever again (unless we jumped on a ship to America, I guess – what a journey back in time that would feel like!). Instead, we try to be smart about how we travel – or at least as smart as possible. We go for a longer period of time when we do go, we make sure to combine holidays/birthdays/important events to avoid “unnecessary” trips and we always fly direct. We usually go with Norwegian, knowing that their Boeing 787 (Dreamliner) is at least a tad better when it comes to fuel efficiency than other aircrafts. This Thanksgiving trip, we’re going for 15 days and will manage one wedding, Thanksgiving with the whole family, celebrating my father-in-law’s recent retirement, seeing plenty of friends (some even out of state) and checking out my brother-in-law’s new apartment he just moved into… among other things. I know this is just as much for myself as it is for you guys reading (and potentially judging us a little), but at least this makes me feel a tiny bit less burdened. Enough about that for now though.

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About saying no (but really, more about saying yes)

I’ve had this blog post brewing in the back of my head for a while now. I wanted to share some thoughts on the theme of saying “no” – whether to the party one doesn’t want to go to, to stressing too much, to conforming to ideals or to any other thing that just doesn’t feel right. And as I set out to draft this piece, I started out by typing that I’m such a people pleaser and that I have an incredibly hard time saying no to stuff, no matter what they are. But then I realized – heck, I’ve changed! While that used to be my thing – being constantly buried in things I deeply dreaded but had committed to – I don’t think I live life that way anymore. I’m not sure I have the words to convey exactly how powerful this insight feels to me, to be honest. My almost compulsive, consuming yes-saying has certainly taken its toll on me over the years, and sitting here now, slowly realizing I’ve actually taken on a different behavior… that’s quite powerful in my world. And just so you know – if I could get my butt out of that pattern, you can. I used to be (until a few minutes ago, apparently) the indisputable superstar of saying yes to all things burdensome and no to all things enjoyable. I’ve chosen so many things over the years because I thought others expected it from me. I’ve made so many decisions based on what I thought others wanted. I’ve said yes to so many things I didn’t want to do and silenced my inner voice screaming so many times, I’m surprised it’s still talking to me. But it is (that in itself is a miracle, no?). They say you should treat yourself as if you were your own best friend, and in that case, I’ve been one shitty example of a friend. Somehow though, I’ve been able to reconnect with myself, reach out a hand and say ‘I’m sorry’.

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A few thoughts on food and nutrition

While the previous post was written on some sort of utopian late summer day, this one is coming together as the fireplace is crackling for the first time of the season and my wool sock covered feet are resting comfortably on the coffee table. Just one week apart, and the shift from late summer to fall has pronounced itself ever so clearly. We like it though. As days are getting shorter, there’s more room made for relaxing inside. The “pressure” to be constantly active, to do stuff, to live as intensely as summer and spring do is subsiding, making way for a wonderful slow-down. Living in a place with four such distinct seasons – plus very drastic changes in daylight hours – makes for a very cyclical life. Once one season is coming to end, we’re ready for the next. Fall and winter bring stillness and time for contemplation, spring and summer are celebrations of life and bursting with activity. When we’re now waving goodbye to summer and welcoming fall, it’s with plenty of excitement – hey, long days are lovely but please give us lit candles, warming food, a fireplace to gather around. Let’s bring on the most grounding time of the year, shall we?

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Decompression

As I’m writing this, dragonflies are hovering over my naked feet. Ah, September. If somehow the cool breeze and the longer shadows would fail to hint that fall is here, you can trust that the ever so punctual dragonflies sure won’t. We did, however, go for a swim just two days ago (60 F/16 C water temperature tastes remarkably sweet post long run) and this is being typed while sitting barelegged in a reclined chair, soaking up the last sunrays of this beautiful Sunday – and perhaps this summer. I’ve just washed my hands about five times to get all the dirt off after hours worth of butt-up-in-the-air, hands-in-the-dirt kind of activities. Michael has been busy inside, making granola, fresh mint ice cream and flatbread. In our world, the definition of a quite lovely afternoon, actually. This inaugural harvest time for us has taught us one big thing – September is a busy month! There are crates and crates worth of apples that need to be taken care of. Plums spread out to ripen wherever you look. Tomatoes screaming for your attention. A garden that needs to get out of its summer costume and dressed for fall. Lingonberries, chanterelles, blackberries and rosehips filling up the ditches and the woods, asking to be foraged and turned into something hearty and warming. And while this might seem stressful to some (and sure as heck to us too, from time to time), living in close contact with nature is so grounding, so decompressing, so healing. At least, that’s what we’re realizing.

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Thank you, life (part 2)

First of all, I would like to say thank you to each and every one who has read the previous post (whether just the initial words or the whole darn thing). Your encouragement and kind comments mean so much to me. For someone who has always preferred the anonymous life and so far gone the non-sharing route, this is one big challenge that I’ve (we’ve) chosen to take on. Chosen it because I’ve learned how powerful it can be to get an insight into others’ journeys, others’ struggles, others’ heavy hearts. Chosen it because I know how inspirational it can be to be allowed into others’ spheres of happiness, others’ fulfilled dreams, others’ way of life. So as much as I’m completely anti the over-sharing and the seeking of validation that occur throughout social media, I do believe in saying – hey, my heart was heavy too. But it got better. And then it got awesome.

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Thank you, life (part 1)

Blogging! Oh, this will be fun. The plan is for this blog to be about the same things as our Instagram account @intabagreen, i.e. a lot of vegetables and small scale farming, all our running endeavors, and some delicious vegetarian food to top it off. But plans often change direction and become something else (thank you life – you’re awesome), so we’ll just go with the flow and see where this takes us. Read more