Plenty of celebrations

Hi all,

It’s time for a kid appreciation post. It’s been a while and the pandemic changed our ways, our hopes, our dreams, and the way we interact with people. Our kids have been busy and have kept their plans during close downs and online work and school. As I told you before, around where we live everything closed. All schools, even elementary, turned to online teaching. Libraries closed, stores, restaurants, all activities for kids and adults and everything you can imagine. And it is still not back to normal, and I don’t think it ever will. It’s been difficult to travel and it’s still not very pleasant to travel from this part of the world to the other side. We still need tests and flights get canceled more than ever.

Yesterday we went to our last graduation for a while. S finished her Bachelor of Arts at University of Washington. She sped through it and finished a year yearly. English Honors and International Studies. She has been in close relationship with Virginia Woolf and Joan Didion and tried to solve the refugee crisis at the same time. There have been a lot of pages written, lots of research done and I am sure it will continue. She is headed to London over the summer.

C finished a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics at Uppsala University a few months ago. She has been traveling back and forth and spent more time on this side of the world than she planned. She has a nice mix of linguistics, phonetics, French, Icelandic, and Arabic on her resume. I tried to read her final thesis and I had a hard time finishing it. She is digging deep into the roots of sounds. She is back in the PNW and back to work.

J finished her Bachelor of Arts at University of Washington before the pandemic started. She decided to use the lock down and finished a new Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and worked full time during school and she just celebrated 1 year at work, a startup in Seattle.

They have been busy.

And what did I do during the pandemic? Walked the dogs in the forest and grew tomatoes.       

1% better or 20% worse

Watching the news and listening to music at the same time. It makes it more bearable. You really must pick your news channel wisely. On this day in history nothing fun happened. It’s a bunch of war, guns, evil things, storms, blizzards, tornadoes, and stinky weather. I left that all behind and went for a long walk in the forest with the dogs. An hour down to the lake and then up again. Cold in the beginning and then warm, fast little dogs on the way down and very slow up. Ended up carrying both dogs the last 5 minutes. Muddy paws and very tired long bodies. Took a water break in the back of the car and slowly headed back home. Passed my favorite neighborhood, took in the view, the air and listened to the radio. I wish this could be my everyday morning routine.   

On this day 10 years back, I had a 5h run/swim session planned training for ÖtillÖ swimrun world championship. I’m happy that is not today. It was usually 1 mile swim in the lake, run 4 miles, swim one more mile, run 4 miles… you get it. The worst part was getting the wet suit on after every run to get in the lake. Or worse, the days I ran in the wet suit to get used to it. Or in the pool, down to Idlywood and up, shower, swim, out and run, again and again. For some reason I decided to run 20 miles (32km) on the treadmill in the dark room at ProClub the day after, just because I had three hours before picking up the kids. I sure knew a good time back then. The body was like a nice German sportscar, everything tuned and well oiled.   

On this day 6 years back, I had a long 3.5h bike and run planned, this time training for Ironman Coeur D’Alene. Written down in ink on my monthly plan set up by the master. The weather was kind of the same as today, wet, and cold. I am glad I saved all paper copies of my plans and photos on my phone otherwise I would not believe it was true. The only 3.5h sessions I have now are coffee and books.

Today’s workout consisted of a long walk with the dogs and some easy barbell stuff in the garage. Time changed, body changed, type 2 fun stuff changed. The well-oiled body is now very cranky, and it looks like an old folk race car, like an old rusty Saab. It’s raining outside. If the dogs want to stay in, I’m staying in. When you train for a race, event, or competition, of course you train to get better, and the weather is secondary. You want to do your best. But if you work out for health and for the rest of your life, what then?

The mentality of always wanting to go get it, always chasing, always going for the goal. It’s not doable for the rest of your life. We often get to hear that we should be our best selves. Get a little bit better every day, work it out and add on 1% more awesomesauce every single time we work out. I don’t think that is true. What about good enough? Are we ever good enough? Movement is a part of our lives, it’s not a hobby. It should be like eating or sleeping, something we do every day because it’s part of our routine, our lives. A walk, bike ride, a run, weights, a class, yoga, taking the stairs… Why should we get pressured to get better every day, aren’t we good enough as is? I certainly think so. Last few years I have come to terms with that it’s just going downhill. Most days I don’t like it at all but some days I still feel pretty good. Some days you will get 3% better, but we also have those days when we basically suck and are 20% worse than the day before. I have a bad knee and a foot that has been broken too many times and I basically stopped running all together, and I don’t have much hope that I will ever run much again. The strange thing is that in my head I plan every day when and where I should run. Old habit. And after the plan is set, I realize that I wouldn’t get very far, and I must re-plan and have another cup of coffee instead. It takes time to get used to change. That goes both ways. If you want to start to move or get a routine going you need to force yourself many times before it sits. It can take weeks and months or years before it feels natural. A daily walk, eating more vegetables, a daily workout… I’m getting used to less movement and in a different way, that takes time too.      

Dan före dan, före dan, före dan…

You know it’s close to Christmas when you get your Spotify wrapped update. What a treat to learn so much about yourself and your embarrassing habits. Will I ever grow out of Snoop, Arash and Pitbull? And how much opera can one listen to? And is it an obsession when you listen to the same song 158 times? In my defense, Cinema Paradiso by Ennio Morricone (Chris Botti, Yo-Yo Ma) is a gorgeous song and the movie is fabulous too.

I always have great plans and magnificent projects in mind before a trip to Uppsala. The expectations are high, and I want to squeeze in as much as possible. Visit old and new places, meet all the people, eat all the great food. And then I arrive, and everything slows down. I had five days this time and that is too short even to unpack and settle, jet lag never leaves your body. The last few years it’s been hitting me hard with basically no sleep for weeks. It’s always nice to go home, go back to all the familiar places and to see family. This was the first time in 14 years I have been back in December, that’s too long.

Christmas in Sweden is very different from the US. The smells, the darkness, the built-in coziness, somehow I forgot about it all. Things like that fade when you don’t get to live in the middle of it for a long time. The overused word hygge is built into Scandinavia, you don’t create it by buying a candle and a couple of pillows, it’s already there. It’s the Christmas I grew up with and of course we try to recreate it every year. Traditions that are hundreds and hundreds of years old. All the amaryllis, pine, hyacinths, moss, candle lights, the flower stores and bakeries are magnificent. The smell of the food, newly baked Christmas bread vört, the coffee shops, grocery stores. The white lights outdoors, stars and tasteful and sober decorations. It helps that you come from a town that dates to the year 980, with a huge cathedral from 1435 and a university from 1477. The Lucia concerts in the cathedral, the services, glögg gatherings and most importantly, the food. The cold weather, ice and snow on the ground. It is always nice to be back, but to be honest it’s also a bit hard. You feel guilt and sadness heavy on your shoulders.

All the things I forgot about, the ice skating on the neighborhood’s soccer fields, the sparse Christmas trees, the cold toes when you take a walk, the beautiful window decorations, all the stars and lights that light up the darkness, bundled up people taking walks, the quiet steps in the snow, the different city noise, the traditions.

And then I arrive at home and it’s a different kind of holiday season. It’s glitter and loud music. Bright and bold, gold and silver. Big trees and holly and jolly. And that is OK too. Different places, different traditions. A different life.

“I’m not convinced I know how to read. I’ve just memorized a lot of words. “

Hey folks,

Happy fall. The leaves have changed into beautiful red and orange colors, to brown and yellow, and now to empty branches and a lot of slippery leaves on the ground. It’s the best time of the year, right? We are giving nature a restart. The time for new beginnings, almost Christmas, and of course Thanksgiving before that. Who doesn’t love a good turkey, and apple or pumpkin pie? My choice would be strawberry/rhubarb, but America loves apple and pumpkin. I love fall. It’s the best time to run, a little wet but fresh and crisp air. Time for cashmere sweaters, mushrooms, boots, and beef or lamb stews. Fall came fast this year; the rain is never ending and it is so dark for hours in the morning. My lemon tree looks sad, all the grapes on our grapevines are gone, and the olive tree is dropping its leaves and turning yellow. No big harvest, no homemade wine or olive oil but it’s time to plant new bulbs for spring blooms according to the morning news. And if you haven’t started your Christmas shopping you might be in trouble. The cargo ships are still waiting to unload and there’s a shortage of plastic toys, dishwashers, medicine, and handmade pj’s from fair trade factories around the globe.  

Fall is the perfect time to read. A new study about reading levels among students (PISA study for 15y/olds) in Sweden published a few weeks ago. (I know, I’m not working as a teacher or principal now but once a teacher always a teacher.) It’s a sad story. Numbers are basically bigshits, one of the lowest of all included countries. Kids and young adults can’t read and don’t read at all for pleasure, and boys have even lower numbers than girls. Libraries are getting less funds, school libraries are not prioritized at all, and the school is focused on grades and are too digitalized. Kids only read to find information and usually only read fragments of texts to find it. They don’t get the time to read a book from start to finish. This has been an ongoing discussion in our house for the past ten something years and even more since the 12804 days since the pandemic started. I am so sorry to say but our lives are not getting happier in front of the computer. Don’t get me wrong, I really like my Surface, Kindle, iPhone etc. but they’re not doing me much good. I don’t know if you remember the last decade when we have tried to reduce the use of screens for kids. You hear tips and tricks every day for screentime and computer games and how parents are trying to trade time for the screen like it is a punishment. It’s nothing new. And I know computer games (and all that includes) and a school computer screen is different, but we are still talking screens. And since when do young kids have to watch something or play on a phone/iPad in a restaurant/Costco/the mall. Since the pandemic started screens are king. What happened?

Not being able to use your hands, holding a pen and handwriting is another story but very much connected, too. The hand, eye, brain coordination. It is part of our brain’s development and growth, and guess what? Reading, too. Running, climbing trees, crawling, beading, Lego building, drawing, using scissors, painting, stomping or jumping your feet, walking in puddles, sewing, riding a bike, sorting things, memorizing, picking rocks in different shapes…it’s part of growing and developing your brain. Kids need it all. They need activity and stimulation. They need to use their bodies to grow a healthy body. They need dopamine, the happy hormone, that has a part in motivation, focus and learning.

But… kids also need to get the opportunity to read and feel like they have and are in control of time and that it matters. Results are in! Apparently, focus and grades are more important than well-being and knowledge.

What can you do? Have lots and lots of books around, a big selection of material. Difficult and easy. Read out loud. Listen to books. Read newspapers and magazines. Show your kids that you read and enjoy it. Ask questions and be interested. Make time. Libraries are fun and bookstores are fantastic. Find the good spots where you live. I don’t know how many hundreds of books I have downloaded on my Kindle and for a while I stopped buying paper copies thanks to Marie Kondo. I am back to some paper copies, but I don’t have the need to keep books, I read and donate or sell. I also listen to a book occasionally, and I read on my Kindle every day (109 weeks in a row for me). But nothing beats walking around a library or bookstore and turning books and reading the back, the smell, the low voices, the colors… Can you imagine getting that feeling of excitement browsing your Kindle when you are 7 or 11 years old? Not really.    

Screentime is worth discussing among adults too. The pandemic made everything with screens good, social, and superduper. This was the new socializing. I’ve been there too. All meetings online, Happy Hour with friends on Zoom saved us, movies, facetime calls, games with friends… We have done that now, it’s time to move away from it. In our reality, where we live, there are still work from home recommendations and closed offices. But it will open up more and it is time to move on. I know a lot of people get more done and are extremely efficient, and I am incredibly impressed by humans everywhere. But for those of you who can, please get yourself dressed and out and about. Get your shots. Humans are meant to be together. Nothing beats a hug IRL. Or a coffee with friends, a walk in the woods chatting about nothing.

We have been starved of live music for a long time, but the last few weeks have been busy for all family members. Cold Play, Bleachers and last night Andrea Bocelli. Unlike the rest of the family, I am a big opera fan (thanks to my dad) and last night didn’t disappoint. There was a big audience in the new Climate Pledge Arena, crappy arena food, pricey drinks but a great voice. The big finish with “Time to Say Goodnight”, “O sole mio” and “Nessun dorma” didn’t leave anyone untouched. A couple of tears shed, big applause, goosebumps and a slow drive home in the rain. All the good stuff.  

Mt Adams

Here we are. Finally, mask-lessly tackling the world with our own faces, without a cover to hide our expressions. Almost naked in front of everyone, showing our bare skin to the world. After over a year of isolation, cooped up in the house, running on empty trails, it is time to break loose. What do you suggest? Party all night at the closest club, rave with your closest 500 friends, fly to Rio…Well, I ended up being home alone with the dogs for the first time since March last year. Thinking about the next mountain to climb. I guess life is not that different after a long isolation.

Glacier Peak is now a distant memory. And so is Mt Adams. Yay! The last of the five volcanoes in Washington. The one thing remaining is burnt skin on my ears and neck and a few piles of dirty clothes and gear. I might let the the piles stay out waiting for a new adventure. My legs are still sore, my mind is happy and memories are in my soul.

Mt Adams, for me the fifth and final volcano in Washington, 12,281ft (3,743m). Sandy, rocky, slushy, snowy and not interesting. A long slog to the top. Rocks and more rocks. Rainier, Baker, Helens – you kind of know what to expect. Glacier Peak turned out to be a very hard but a very pleasant surprise. My absolute favorite so far. Adams, eh.

I had a really good time; great company and the weather could not have been better. We left Thursday morning and took on the long drive to the middle of Washington, almost 300 miles from here. We drove along the Columbia River for a long time and ended up seeing new places and new roads. Passing Hood River and hundreds of kite surfers, small towns with names I have never heard before, cows, horses, small gas stations with no names…

We started our climb in the afternoon, hot and sunny, moving our way closer to the goal. After hours of walking, we thought we had come to the right spot to set up camp but checking the map closely we realize that we have another hour or so to move. We’re at 8200ft elevation and have about another 1000ft to go. We both feel good, not tired and ready to move on. We get our packs on and move. About ten minutes later I feel like I was hit by a taco truck. My body feels heavy, lungs burning and head hurting. We keep moving and I hear myself complain and whine. Every fifth step I have to stop. What the heck is going on? We reach Lunch Counter, our spot for the night and I can barely make the last 200 yards. Altitude sickness.

I am 100% sure I will throw up and I feel like I have a heavy rock on my chest. Josh is the best adventure partner, cool as a cucumber. He sets up camp, gets water, tells me to drink, to lay down, to do all those things I should do without thinking. I feel better, we eat a little, drink water, lay down, talk for a few hours, try to sleep.

After a very short night we pack up and get ready to move around 2am. The sky is full of stars, so close you can touch them. The top of the mountain is lit by the twinkling sky. It is gorgeous. We head out from camp around 2.30 and so far there are no other headlights visible. At first, I thought I could shake the altitude sickness, thought I had adjusted a little bit better. But no, it just got worse over time. It’s steep with a mix of snow, ice and rocks. I must have been the worst mountain friend. I think weird thoughts and take one step at the time. And we are up, and I get to rest. Josh looks like he took a stroll in the park and I cannot even swallow a sip of water or a Swedish Fish. I spend a lot of time behind a rock with my three jackets on and wrapped up in a safety blanket. The way down is long, I start to feel better. The crampons feel lighter and lighter, I manage to drink some water and I can see our tent from afar.

Hours later we rest up, repack our packs, and head down the mountain. I see hummingbirds and butterflies over our bright green tent greeting us after the climb. It’s time to head back. It’s a long one, we walk over snow fields, over scree fields, rocks, sand, more rocks and it’s hot. We reach the car about 12 hours after we started our day. We drive the other way back, through Yakima. Well, I did not drive, I basically slept the whole way trying to shake off that altitude sickness. And then we are home, and the memories change for the better, it could have been worse. I almost feel okay 24h later.   

Video and some photos borrowed from Josh.

Glacier Peak

Before a climb you read old trail reports, make lists, pack and organize, prepare mentally. Even if you prepare and get ready it is usually never how you imagine it. My last climb was hotter, steeper, longer and so much more of everything. Less trained than usual, with a cranky knee, but with more experience and wisdom since last climb, my friend and I met up with a guide company to climb Glacier Peak last weekend. Glacier Peak (10,525ft/3,207m) is the most remote and isolated volcano in Washington State. It is in the Glacier Peak Wilderness, in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Since it is isolated and far out, it is a long hike in to climb the mountain, which makes it less popular to climb than for instance Mt Rainier and Mt Baker.

Day 1

My friend and I left early on Thursday to meet up with the guides and the rest of the group in Darrington, a couple of hours to drive. We’ve had hot weather the past week and it was already heating up when we started to unpack the car before 8am. Our backpacks felt heavy. We got some extra gear to carry for the group, stoves, fuel, tarps etc. My pack was filled to the top, but I managed to squeeze the helmet in there before we took off to the trailhead. It felt heavy and chunky, and was rubbing against my back and neck. It’s been a while since I did a long hike with a pack like this.

The hike started out at North Fork of Sauk River trail head. We walked through deep forest with Douglas fir and Western red cedar, we crossed the river and worked our way up almost 4000’. With the heavy pack and the extreme heat, it took most of the day. It was hot and humid, and the pack was over 40lbs. The trail starts out pretty mellow but after a few hours it turns into a climb. We cover switch back after switch back, and then it opens up and we emerge from the trees. The views are stunning, green hills, wildflowers, snow, streams, marmots, birds. We made it to White Pass and set up camp for the night.

Day 2

It is almost impossible to sleep. It is so hot. You hear noises, little critters, birds. We had a grouse calling out all night. A little bit uncomfortable, a little bit hard against your back, a little bit crowded… It’s been a while since I spent a night in a tent. And suddenly it is morning and time to stretch out and pack up. A quick breakfast and we all repack our packs and get ready to go. Your body feels a little bit stiff after carrying a heavy pack uphill for close to 10 hours.

The day start relatively easy with some ups and downs. We hike over White Pass and Foam Creek and descend into Glacier Peak meadows. The trail is still covered in snow on many places and an easy traverse turns in to a sketchy and shaky one. The chutes are filled with snow and ice and one wrong step would be quite awful. We traverse the White Chuck Glacier and the heat is almost unbearable, the sun is burning and reflecting on the snow. You can feel the burn through your clothes and the pack feels heavier and heavier.

We reach Glacier Gap Camp at 7300’ that is next to the Suiattle Glacier, set up camp and unpack. The sun is burning, and we are trying to escape the heat. You cannot find shade anywhere. We drink water from the stream, lay in our tent and chat, eat a little, talk about tomorrow and try to get ready for the climb up to the summit.

Day 3

It is so difficult to sleep when you know you are getting up around 2am. We woke up before our wake-up call and chatted for a bit. I do not even know if I slept, it felt like I just waited, looking at the stars all night. That is usually how it is before a summit. It felt a bit chilly for the first time since we started our trip. I get the puffy on and eat a little and drink coffee. Everyone is quiet, moving slowly, looking a bit nervous. We all know it will be long day moving.

We get our gear ready. Crampons and axe accessible with harness and helmet/headlight on. It’s dark outside, the sky is full of bright stars. The stars feel so close you can touch them. The moon is almost full, shining and leading the way. We all walk slow in on long row. Quiet, head down, step after step uphill, deep breaths. We stop after an hour and get our crampons on our boots, get roped up, it is getting steeper. We work our way over Gerdine and Cool Glaciers. We pass some crevasses, hear some rockfall, see big rocks roll over the ice. The sun is working its way up, the sky is magic, and you just want to bottle the feeling of the world’s greatness. I think this is the part that is the most beautiful in every climb.

We stop and prepare for the last push up to the summit. Drink some water, eat a snack, trying to visualize what it will be like. The wind is picking up, the sun is up, and it’s morning. We move through dirt that glides down when you take a step, it feels like moving in thick syrup. We reach some snow and ice and more dirt and rocks. The wind is picking up. And then, the final part up a chute, full of snow that is getting slushier every minute the sun is up. It looks like a steep wall and I am trying to think positive thoughts and holding on to my axe so hard I can feel my fingers cramp. All those feelings of fear come over me, irrational thoughts, and tears. Every time I get close to a summit. Big steps, really steep and I punch through the snow with every step. Axe, step, step, axe, step, step, axe, step, step… using the pole in my other hand to lift myself up. I look back to make sure the rope is on the right side and look down. How on earth am I going to get down? Panic, axe, step, step… and we are up. It is windy, cold and absolutely wonderful. The view, the mountains, the blue sky… I am speechless. Rainier, Adams, Baker… every mountain in Washington in full view. Absolutely gorgeous.   

After a short time on the summit, we prepare to head down. We are five on the rope, my friend leads the way, and I am second. The plunge steps down work like a charm and I forget how steep it was just stepping my way closer to more comfortable terrain. We work our way down the mountain and after hours with crampons and a few without we are back at camp in the afternoon. A quick cup of coffee and we break camp and continue our trip over glaciers and down the mountain. It feels endless, so hot with the sun burning the skin under the clothes.

We get back to the long traverse that now melted more and got even more complicated to finish. After a few scary moments and some try hard times, we get our crampons on. We have been up since 1.30am and it is getting closer to dusk. When we reach White Camp again, we are all tired. We get our tents up, get some food in our tummies, and get some rest before the last day and the big hike back to the trail head.     

Day 4

We decide to head out early because of the heat. We all feel fried after a long weekend with high temps up high with all snow and ice reflecting the sun. I am burned on my neck, ears and in my nostrils even if I applied sunscreen every hour and wore a sun hoodie. We pack up and leave camp at 7.30. It turns out to be a long day again. The first hours we pass a few snow and ice filled chutes that are a bit sketchy, and it takes us some time. Better safe than sorry. It is hot, long and surprisingly hard but we are back by our cars in the afternoon. Dry clothes, car AC and water never felt better.

Glacier Peak was a beast of a mountain. You always think that Rainier is the toughest mountain in our state but this one really kicked my butt. Long days, the extremely hot weather and a heavy pack made it challenging. It was absolutely gorgeous. The views, the air, the company – 100% good times.

Photos: Olivia Race and Charlotte

The great outdoors

Our neighbor called over the fence and told me to bring our dogs in the house. He scared off a huge eagle that has been circulating our houses for a few weeks. We have seen him in one of the trees beside our yard. The eagle had a party on the neighbor’s lawn, eating a rabbit for lunch. Our dogs are not much bigger than a fat rabbit. They bark more but I am not sure what they would do if Mr. Eagle dropped by. My grandparents lost one of their dachshunds to an eagle way back in the day. I have heard the story since I was a kid, but I never thought it could be a problem up until now. Our dogs walk in and out all day, make sure the cars are parked in the right spot, bark at delivery trucks, chase rabbits and squirrels, make life miserable for people walking by. Now, it looks like we have a bird problem in the neighborhood. I am lucky to spot eagles basically every day. I hang out where they hang out, by the water, in the forest, on mountaintops.

The wildlife and the nature around here are amazing. Gigantic trees, mountains, deep forests, rain forests, water, beaches, trails… We have been here so long I often forget how amazed I felt the first few years. The first time I saw an owl up close, sitting on our deck by the kitchen window, staring into my soul. The first few times I saw coyotes on our street, roaming around and howling at night. The first time I met coyotes when running scared me and can still make my heart skip a beat. Caroline and I had to sprint away from one last summer. He was clearly guarding something and did not want to let us pass. Similarly, the fear when I realized I had been followed by a cougar during a late-night orienteering in the forest. The amazing mountain goats climbing around us when hiking. Last year’s stare down with a bobcat in our neighborhood: I froze, she froze. Bears…they do not like getting close but sometimes they pass your route, or maybe vice versa. You live and you learn and try to not disturb and interrupt their lives and their homes.

With the pandemic we have seen big crowds out in nature, and it is great that so many choose to go outside. Our most used trails are like highways. When you hike, try to pick a trail that is not overused. You share the great outdoors with animals and their babies, hikers, runners, mountain bikers, hunters, etc. Be kind and share the space, be respectful and friendly. If it is very muddy, choose another trail to bike, do not go off trail; leave no trace and make sure to leash your pup.

A few days late, but Happy Earth Day! A little goes a long way, small actions have big results.     

Knowing where to go

I am working on a new webinar for an international network of women. I basically have free hands, I can talk about adventure, show photos of magical places far away, tell stories of races, trips, stuff. How to plan, how to train, how to… But does anyone really want to hear about that? Expectations, adventure, magic, and pain. And type 2 fun. I am not sure.

I did a solo run last week. A very cold morning, freezing temps, cold fingers, cold ears, slow steps. As always one of the best parts of running is the clarity, thinking straight, oxygen flowing. In times like this it is refreshing to run and breathe. I had hundreds of geese flying over my head, an eagle gliding around me. The trail was crunchy and the grass white. It was a slower run than usual. Not all runs are about falling over the finish line. In times like this it is a gift with sunshine on your shoulders and new thoughts and ideas in your brain. The birds over me all have one thing in common. A goal, working together but also solo. Gut feeling, goal setting, knowing where to go, what step to take next… When I look back on old posts goalsetting has been one of the recurrent subjects. Not only when it is about training but also in life. I wrote a post around 5 years ago when I decided to ditch my big Ironman goal after thousands of hours of training. A real low point in my life. I set a goal that basically ate me up inside. I followed the plan and worked 100% for it but it felt so wrong. I woke up having nightmares about swimming and hated every single mile on the road bike. I woke up one day and decided to quit. That decision ended up being the best since I found myself in Alaska a few months later. Goalsetting for life, for training, for racing, for adventure… I still have a few goals to figure out. And I need to buy a new sleeping bag.

I also found a few more not so serious goals I set for myself way back that are worth repeating.

If you cannot carry it, you probably do not need it.

Try to learn the rules of football. And cricket.

Get oil changes on time, check tire pressure.

Give lots of hugs to everyone you care for. (Easier said than done right now.)

Choose your battles.

My kids

Hi folks,

Saturday in the suburbs and life feels exhausting. Not really a reason why, but after a year of restrictions and limited social interactions, life is catching up. For some reason I do think I am one of the lucky ones. I have people around me, living in the same house, dogs to snuggle and walk with, food on the table and a fireplace that burns every day. It is good to remind yourself that life is not bad, and it is ok to feel the ups and downs.

I am lucky to have three terrific, magnificent, and marvelous kids. Three individuals with the same upbringing and the same set of genes. Same parents, same food, same house, same schools… and they could not be more different but also so much alike. They are a three-piece puzzle that fits like a glove, the best of friends and three golden nuggets apart. Right now, I am lucky to have two on this side of the world but the third is only a facetime away. The world is getting smaller every day. I am going to repeat part of a post that is over ten years old. They are all adults now, independent, well educated, smart and on their way to bounce, take a big step, fly, or maybe dive into an unknown world. They are brave, beautiful, and absolutely amazing.

  • Be nice to your sisters, always.
  • It is ok to be homesick and long for all loved ones in our other country… they will still be there next summer.
  • Never get in a car with a drunk driver. Call home, any time.
  • Work out. As much as you can and as hard as you can. And it is ok to look sweaty, not very cute and feel like you are going to puke. It is actually good for you.
  • Always work hard in school, it will pay off. But remember, you can only do your best.
  • Never be afraid to ask for help.
  • It is ok to spend a lot of money on shoes, especially running shoes.
  • Don’t worry about love when you are 15, you have plenty of time. I am sure you will not even remember the name of the cutest guy in 9th grade when you turn 30. Life goes on.
  • Accept people around you. Nobody is perfect. Not even you.
  • Do your thing. Be different. But do not wear too short skirts.
  • Travel as much as you can.
  • Laugh often and hard. And laugh at yourself.
  • Keep your eyes on the ball, in sports and in life.
  • Learn how to drive a stick.
  • Learn how to cook and bake bread. Enjoy food, it is good for you and it brings people together.
  • Change is good, scary but good.
  • Do things that scare you.
  • No tattoos or visible piercings. And no, I will not change my mind about this.
  • You are all three so much stronger than you think.
  • If you can’t think, go for a run, a long run.
  • Don’t stress… you have a long life ahead of you.

Let us review this after 10 years.

I failed with the stick shift driving lessons, we only have automatic cars. We still laugh, work out and worry about love. We drive around, play loud music, sing out loud, and eat ice cream. Very often. We get Thai food and do stupid things. And eat French fries. I enjoy every minute we spend together. I still have not changed my mind about tattoos, but I do understand that we are all adults, and it is not my problem if it will happen. We had a good run with sports. Climbing, volleyball, soccer… and I am kind of happy it is now easy going and not dead serious. We all spend money on shoes. The traveling is kind of limited. They are all great at cooking and baking. The long runs are also long walks, bike rides and long reading sessions. We all spend too much time with our dogs. The hard work in school paid off and everyone is on a great path. I never thought I would have a stem kid but here we go – women in tech.


Om man inte fotar sig med den fluffigaste av semlor, inte fotar sitt padelracket och om man inte vinterbadar med den snyggaste mössan, är man ens svensk då? Jag glömde skidspåren på ett stadsnära fält. Ja, inte vet jag. Jag ligger risigt till. Jag skulle kanske kunna producera en och annan semla med puder på toppen. Vinterbadet skulle ju också kunna produceras på bild men jag spar det till sommaren när vattnet i en alpin sjö är närmare +/-0 men solen är framme. Men racketsport och bollsport, det är inte riktigt min grej. Skidorna är ju lättare att fixa. Fast det förstås, jag smaskar ju på Ahlgrens bilar rätt ofta, köper havremjölk och Lingongrova på vår lokala Amazon, och älskar lakrits så jag är i alla fall utlandssvensk.

Frågan om svenskhet kom upp idag igen. Ni vet det här om tillhörighet och samhörighet, hemmahörande och delaktighet. Vi är ju väldigt delaktiga och involverade, fysiskt och med hjärtat, i samhället och staden där vi bor. Det har vi varit sedan vi flyttade hit för många år sedan. (Vi missade Happy Brekkan America Day i januari i år.) Vi är ju också hemmahörande och tillhörande Sverige, med pass och hjärta. Men hur går det ihop? Hjärta och smärta. Ihop och ifrån. Till och från. Närvarande och frånvarande. Aldrig har väl frånvaron varit så påtaglig. Aldrig har vi väl känt oss så långt borta. Pandemin har tryckt ihop oss här hemma men dragit isär oss andra. Vi lever mer mittemellan än någonsin. Men hur är det egentligen, var hör vi hemma? Det har snart gått ett helt år sedan sista besöket, sista rimmade laxen och stuvade potatisen, sista bokshoppingen lajv, sista kramandet av föräldrarna, sista löpturen i hemstaden…och som vi längtar.      

Här har regnet öst ner i veckor och månader. Det har blåst storm och regnat sidledes och ofta samtidigt.  Helt plötsligt klarnade himlen upp och blev blå och med den blå himlen kom kylan och frosten. Och till och med snön. Jag fick leta fram isskrapan vid halv sex igår morse när det bar av ut till närmaste skogsdunge för lite löpning i mörkret. Och om det var mörkt och kallt. Kristallerna glimmade i pannlampans sken, månen lyste genom trädgrenarna och så kom solen sakta upp och värmde luften en aning. Tänk vad friskt det känns med kall luft och frusen mark under sulorna. Luften blir så mycket lättare att andas. Däremot är det svårt att klä sig. Jag glömmer mellan varven vilka lager man behöver, vilket egentligen inte är så mycket eftersom det blir varmt så fort man rör sig. Misstaget varje gång är korta strumpor som lämnar en bar decimeter mellan strumporna och tightsen. Det hade kunnat varit värre. Nu laddar vi inför våren, för visst kommer den snart. Lagom till att vi har knoppar på träden och påskliljor som börjar titta fram så kommer snön. Idag drog jag till min vanliga skog och knatade, skubbade, och hasade runt. En liten utter, några äldre men ärtiga män med stavar och en nygammal bekant var fynden för dagen. Det var trevligt med några korta samtal i buskagen. Jag lyssnade på en vän i lurarna, närmare bestämt den guiden som varit med mig alla gånger på Rainier. Supersherpan som bestigit Everest 17 gånger. Och trevlig är han också. Jag hoppas våra vägar korsas snart igen. Tiden gick fort både i lurarna och i spåret. Jag glömde hänga upp parkeringslappen men tacksamt så påpekade Park Rangern att min bil är känd i skogen och de vet att lappen är betald för den är där ofta och sliter på gruset. Stammis i skogen, finns det något bättre att lägga till på sitt cv? Jag lägger till frekventa skogsbad i ensamhet till mitt cv också.     

Det florerade en artikel i både svenska och amerikanska tidningar ett par dagar tillbaka. Artiklarna handlade i stort om hur man blir formad av musiken man lyssnade på när man var 14 år. Mr Mister, Depeche Mode, Falco, Elton John och Lionel Richie är tydligen väldigt inflytelserika människor i mitt liv. Kul. Jag klämmer till med en gammal goding så här på torsdagsmorgonen.