Mormor and The Queen Mother

On this day (April 9) seventeen years ago, the most nurturing and positively influential woman, to me, took her last breath and left this life.

It was Mum who called me early in the morning whit the sad news. I was on my way from Liverpool Street Station to my office in Shoreditch. I lived in the fast lane then, but at that moment, as Mum’s words sank in, “Mormor died this morning,” everything slowed down and as my eyes filled with tear and my heart broke, I noticed, all of London was dressed in black.

Today a huge event was taking place at Westminster Abbey, for The Queen Mother’s funeral. England was in mourning and suddenly, so was I.

Mormor (Grandma) could not have chosen a better day to take her final curtain call, she loved The Queen mother to a degree of affinity. To my grandmother, the Queen became a beacon of hope and decency during the war years.

Listening to reports on the wireless about the Queen walking the streets of London’s East End, hit by German bombs, impeccably dressed, refusing – against all advice – to leave her King and country.
“Being out there, on the bombed-out streets,” Mormor mesmerized during one of her many storytelling sessions, “she was the Queen and yet she was an ordinary person in a way, and with such compassion for everyone.”

Mormor, like the Queen Mother, was always impeccably dressed leaving the house. Over the years Morfar gifted her some beautiful jewelry, and although she never wore makeup, going out, she always wore her best: “What good is it hanging in the wardrobe? Better to dress as for Sunday every day.” She laughed at herself and remembered a time when her friends and sisters would call her fine-skrinet, hinting to her always wanting to better herself. It upsets her, even though they were right. She believed in a better life, out of the poverty she came from.

Born in June 1908, the eldest of eight children, Mormor was but a child when she discovered the virtues and hardship of honest work. Minding her younger siblings, alongside her mother whom she adored, was not just a chore but a source of joy. Mormor and her sister, Kikki, alternated their days going to school because they only had one pair of shoes between them.

In 1932 her and Morfar (Grandad) married and one month later uncle Lorentz was born. Contraception in Norway was still decades away, in fact, the pill didn’t arrive in Norway until the year I was born. It was Mormor who told me about the intricate system of knowing one’s own womanly body, using the ‘safe times’ in our cycle to prevent pregnancy. Never explicit, she didn’t mind talking about sex, in fact, there wasn’t much we didn’t talk about.

She was my soulspring – she nurtured me, and it was on her lap, on a warm spring day, my very first childhood memory was formed.

For all the joy and laughter we shared, Mormor was also melancholy, and I know why. In August 1939 Mum was born, she was the little girl Mormor wished for and she spoiled her with love. Thought to spoil children, in Mormor’s view, is not possible. “If you want kind children,” she said, “all you need to do is be kind to them.” By now, she had her ‘perfect’ family of four. By choice, Mormor and Morfar, would not have more children.
“There is only one way out of poverty,” Mormor often said, “and that is by having fewer children.”
I imagining them elated by joy and love, looking into a bright future.

But life, sometimes, throws us curveballs and theirs where the Second World War. Less than a year after Mum arrived Nazi Germany invaded Norway, on April 9th, 1940, seventy-nine years ago, today. Plans for the future was halted by rationing stamps and air raid siren.

Though worse, much worse than the war was the horrific accident that happened in 1941. Mormor’s Mum, Lovise, worked at Møre Preservering, a canned food factory, where her job was to make the brown sauce for the meat. Firing up the two massive coal ovens one morning, she wasn’t happy with the heat in one of the ovens and went to move the embers from the hot oven to help increase the heat in the other. Some of the embers must have fallen to the floor. Her dress, most likely drenched in fat, caught fire and the flames took hold instantly. The fire took too long to extinguish and Lovise suffered burn injuries all over her body. Her face and long hair, which she’d twisted into a bun on top of her head, miraculously escaped the flames. After three days, in excruciating pain, she died. The horrific accident left Mormor in a state of grief she never quite recovered from.

We never talked about the accident in our family, but of her Mum, Mormor spoke often and Lovise, whom both my Mum and Ruby are named after, was a big presence in our life, though not even Mum remembers her.

Mormor’s laughing now, when I call her a bit of a philosopher, she would never have thought of her self so wise. Books were not something she read, but she never missed the six o’clock news. She told stories and thought me lessons and instilled beliefs in ways that echo through my life today. To be kind, to be generous with our love, to laugh when times are hard and to make the best of ourselves. There was never anywhere more safe, in my childhood than with Mormor. When I made a mess, broke a glass or spilled the milk, she was there, lovingly teaching me to put it right and be grateful for the lesson of learning from my own mistakes.

She drew and knitted, sang and told stories. Her skin was soft and the whitest of white. She screwed up her face when there was something she didn’t like and when I fell and got hurt, when I got sick or upset, it was a perfect time for her to scoop me onto her lap and hug me to the rhythm of a humming a melody, I couldn’t quite work out. I can still feel her caress today.

After Mormor’s funeral, Mum, Christian, my three cousins and I went to Morfar’s grave, where Mormor’s ashes would be put down next to his and her name added to their family stone.
Suddenly, the sheer loss of Mormor hit me, after the week that had been so serene.

They left me there, Mum and Christian and uncle Lorentz’s daughters, to shed tears into the soft soil, as the world came to a halt.
A whisper, in her voice, made me look up, over the gravestone, and there, just outside the wooden fence surrounding the graveyard, Mormor and Morfar stood smiling and waving, with another woman I’d never seen before.
“Go be with the living.” Mormor’s kind voice, clear as day, took my breath away.
All I could say was “But who’s the other woman?”
The vision faded and the world started moving again, and my breath came back in sharp intakes as my heart filled with love and I knew, that she, nor I would ever feel alone again.

Thank you Mormor – I love you always.


Much Love and Light

Vig ❤️

I’d love to keep in touch, don’t you? Pop your details in below and every few weeks, or so, I’ll send you my musings on writing, life and #TRUTH.Shortcode

Why Don’t you like me?

I always thought there where two kinds of people – those with and those (like me) without confidence. Those WITH confidence seemed more genuine.

I never thought confident/genuine people liked me, maybe it was because I ‘felt’ fake. I was definitely not my self – I didn’t know how. I hadn’t even heard the word authentic.

Do you recognise the ‘feeling’ when you ‘think’ someone doesn’t like you?

Here are a few questions – to myself – I’ve been pondering.

Continue reading “Why Don’t you like me?”

The art and science of achieving goals

Apparently, most new year resolutions have fallen by the wayside by February, so what can March offer us? Is it better to sit back and wait for another year before making a new resolution, a new commitment to move closer to the life we really want? How about making a new resolution just for March?

If you’re still going strong with your commitment for the year, you might know that achieving goals is healthy for your brain. Why is that?

Well, you see it comes down programming our brain neutrons. When we do something daily (like mindfully washing our hands) or once a week (like a class) – every time we achieve the goal our wonderful brain get an injection of dopamine, also known as ‘The Happy Hormone.’
Dopamine instantly gives us a happy feeling in our bodies, mine is a bit like butterflies in my belly or a tingling all over. A feeling of JOY, of achievement, of having done something great.

Continue reading “The art and science of achieving goals”

Getting in sync with the teenage brain

How brain research helped me be a better parent to my teenage daughter. 

This week I had the great fortune to attend a keynote talk in the CAC Theatre by clinical psychologist Dr. David Gleason. In his talk entitled ‘Getting in sync with the teenage brain’ Dr. Gleason drove home the effects performance pressure can have on our adolescent kids. Far from being a wishy-washy psychology speech about taming teenage behavior, Dr. Gleason delivered an engaging introduction to neuroscience and brain development, compassionately told through real-life stories about disorders, self-harm, and suicide amongst teenagers. The audience was stunned as we waited for more.

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A Good Enough New Year Resolution

Whenever I struggle to keep up with my plans I ask myself; – have I broken down the steps into small enough chunks?’

I’ve been writing this book for more than a year and only now do I start to see all the pieces come together, – well, – sort off. Learning to dissect a big goal – like writing to publish a book, have thought me to break my plans into minute – sometimes 10 minute – sessions. It’s a journey that has taken much longer than I thought it would, and it’s been a lot tougher than I ever believed it could be.

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Even Writers . . .

You know, when you go to write the ‘homepage’ of your website, the homage of yourself and the light you want to shine in the world, – you can’t just pluck it out of thin air, – right? Or can you?

As a memoirist, I would love to write fiction, to spin my stories into ancient times of myths and fairytales, of deities and gods more powerful than any world-leaders I’ve seen. Sometimes softly spoken though mostly raging against some foreign enemy, like the rising tide of the Nile. – Ohhhh, I feel the creative juices bubbling over the top of my imagination cauldron by the pure imagery of it all.

I think I made a mistake when I promised myself I would finish my memoir before I started a new story.

Continue reading “Even Writers . . .”

Flow

There is nothing quite so luscious as getting lost in the FLOW, where you forget that you haven’t washed your hair in 3 days and you have a daughter in school, who forgot her lunch money and sent you an SOS email, which you forget to check, and Facebook and Instagram is as far from your mind as the room you’re in, right now, lost in the flow.

There is nothing quite so sumptuous than to feel the tips of my fingers tapping a dance on the smooth Apple keys, notes to a melody uncoiling stories on the page, to the tunes of smooth jazz coming from afar.

There’s nothing quite so delicious as the writer’s flow.

Continue reading “Flow”

Light a Candle

I light a candle, defusing healing incense into the space around me, and settle with my writing. It feels like I’ve been gone forever. I’ve been busy, things needed doing. A Nile Holiday, a video course, parties to go to, friends to meet, a blog to write, tenant turnover in Ireland, and figuring out (baby steps) how to best manage my fathers’ estate in Norway.

With the big projects and jobs done, for now, I find myself back writing my book. Continue reading “Light a Candle”

Egypt ⛵️ Nile Cruise Aswan – Luxor

It’s been 12 years since the last time we went on holidays, just the two of us, without the Awesome Kid.

We tingle with excitement walking through the school gate at 9 on Sunday morning. It’s the first time since Ruby started Middle School I’ve been let walk her onto campus, and today I get to follow her all the way to her classroom, which is abuzz with even more excitement. I hand her passport to Andy, her advisor, and nearly forget to hug her goodbye, and have a great PRIME Trip before I bounce back to the car. She will be in Luxor with her grade level for five days without any electronics and we’re strongly advised against calling her.

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Coffee Break & Ignite Video

Dear Ones,

You’re all invited to my next Coffee Break in Maadi 🙂 I know some of you would be here in a heartbeat was it not for the expensive flights and holiday it would take to get here 🙂 So I’m having virtual Coffee Breaks instead 🙂

I’m working up the courage to ask some of my women guides to record a Coffee Break with me. I’m sure you know some of them. Danielle LaPorte, Linda Sivertsen, Moira Geary, Donna Barker, Jennifer LoudenNiamh Arthur and many more and of course – my Cairo crew. I’m blessed with so many awesome friends here in Maadi ❤️

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The Captain’s Island

Dear Ones,

As you may know, my Dad died in July and I went to Norway for his . . . . . . . – no, I didn’t just go for the funeral or to bury him, I went to find him or to find something I’ve lost. And I did. I write about it in Speak #TRUTH Lies.

The Captain’s Island,’ stands out as a good contender for the first chapter of the book. It starts as I arrive at his island on the ferry. My brother, Ruby and I had been driving all day from Ålesund. It was hot and the sea breeze felt cooling. 

I hadn’t seen Dad in 14 years, which was the last time I visited Atløy, the island where he lived for 17 years.

If you want to read the chapter here’s a link. I’m warning you though, it’s a bit long and still carries a full metal jacket of typos.

Continue reading “The Captain’s Island”

Karl Ove’s Struggle

I’m reading ‘Some Rain Must Fall’ by my fellow countryman and memoirist  Karl Ove Knugsgaard at the moment.

It starts with his student year at the Writing Academy in Bergen. The same year I studied Graphic Design in Stavanger. This is the 5th book and his writing, which dazzled me from the start, hugely improves with each book. I feel like I’m growing as a writer with him. I started with the first book in his ‘My Struggle’ series, which I don’t necessarily think have to be read in chronological order. I couldn’t get book 3 but didn’t feel I had missed anything when I read book 4, which was the book I read on The Captain’s Island.

Continue reading “Karl Ove’s Struggle”

Fear

Today feels like starting all over agin.

The surge of fear swells up from my gut like burning indigestion. Halting my breath as if I’m reacting to a tiger about to eat me alive. Striking at my hip and shoulder where I carry my emotions like numb pain.

At first, fear so vivid, I can see the tiger, before I remember to breathe.

Continue reading “Fear”

Judging Without Why

Last weekend, having lunch, I saw a good mum feeding her 10 year old daughter. It wasn’t a very healthy lunch and the daughter could do with healthy. I judged her, and I don’t even know her WHY.

A few days ago I went on a field trip with Ruby’s school. The day was extra hot and dry with the sun beating down on us in the desert landscape of Waadi Digla. I was in the back troop as we set out on a big hike.  Climbing the steep hill, sand and rocks coursed down the hillside, under our trainers.

Continue reading “Judging Without Why”

Reliving The Hardest Parts of Our Past

One of the hardest chapters for me to write was about what happened in a blue Volvo when I was about 5.

It’s one of those #metoo stories I never told.

Buried in my subconscious, it first raise it’s ugly head, when in my teens, my boyfriend and I played at having sex.

When authors talk about it taking a year, or more, to write a book, they’re not wrong, For it’s stories like these that slows us down.

Continue reading “Reliving The Hardest Parts of Our Past”

On Writing Memoir

I don’t want to write a memoir. It’s too raw and scary. Too ‘laying it all on the line,’ too vulnerable. I’m afraid I won’t find the #TRUTH, I’m afraid my story will be lopsided, with only my point of view. For whatever happened to me, happened because of something else that happened to someone else.

And I don’t know their truth, for if there is one thing I’m learning from writing my memoir, it is that the TRUTH is elusive, it changes and morphs into different forms the closer I get to it.

Continue reading “On Writing Memoir”