Happy New Year

Christmas and New Year’s was good with all three kids in the house. The house feels busy. Doris has placed herself by the fire, and she is not moving much if we stay around her. The rain is no fun when you are a dog with short legs. She only walks when we go somewhere interesting, like the woods or the lake. I can’t blame her. The neighborhood walks are boring. Monday was first day back at daycare and you could say that she was excited. Yabadabadooo, howling all the way in the car.

The dinner table has been full again. People are coming and going, and something is always cooking in the kitchen. It feels like we constantly whip up something grand and have a dough proving. New Years passed and a lot of beef tenderloin was cooked and eaten. I woke up the other day and checked my list for the day and I felt like I was running a catering business on the side of my day gig. We have a lot of different needs and dietary issues around here. Add on veggie and fish eaters to that and it feels like you are inventing the wheel every night. In how many ways can you cook a potato and if you have fresh herbs you can magically transform any kind of dish. And who knew you could put dill on popcorn. And do you all know that homemade pizza dough tastes so much better. And freshly baked bread… I love bread. The hummus and veggies, chips and salsa are always circling around the kitchen island. And someone is always hungry even if you just cleaned up. All businesses need good names, even pretend ones. What do you think of a catering business called Your Plate or Mine, Basic Kneads, or Loaf and Devotion? It’s a work in progress.

Are we doing new years resolutions? No, not really. Who needs more pressure in life? And letting yourself down is the worst. I’m all for living the best life all the time. Since failing is out of the question, setting up absurd goals will only make you feel bad. Lame stuff like clean the house more often, drink and eat less, cook better food, loose 15lbs; will never happen. There are other things you can do. I’m always for working out more or doing things you like. If you want to follow in Nora Ephron’s footsteps, watch West Wing from the beginning (3rd time), paint your way through life, jump out of a plane… go ahead and do so. Give the world new memories of you, good or bad. Show everyone that you lived. Make the ground shake a little. Do something that make you forget to eat and drink and wake up exhausted. Meet new people, wander empty trails and try something you haven’t tried before. Use your wings. But stay safe. I’ve spent the last two nights reading about mountain rescues and crying my eyes out. Winter around here can be surprising and rough. Bring layers. And tea.

I will try to run more in the dark, in the early mornings. It’s not a resolution, just a wish. It feels like you breathe more when it’s dark, the air feels lighter and colder. The wind beats your face in silence and the world feels clearer. Your mind is free and your thoughts are clear. It’s like getting a fresh start in life.

And just a thought… Around here we don’t have hares, we have rabbits. Why are all little rabbits out in the dark and in the middle of the night? Do they have a difficult time sleeping? Anxiety? Out partying? Just a question.

I wish you all a very happy new year.

 

One of the most played songs at home the last few months and 1980.

An open mind

Let me tell you something. I saw a psychic. Absolutely nothing I planned to do since I really don’t believe in psychics. I’ve been passing the palm reader in our neighborhood for 12 years and been joking about going there to calm my mind about the future. And now it happened. We went to a party and there she was. Sitting at a table with her cards and a little furry hat with a sneaky smile. I could not pass on that opportunity. She was very pleasant; she had a nice and believable voice. We never got to the cards or the tea in the cup or the crystal ball, apparently, I have an open door to my mind.

I sat down and she looked at me and asked about my birthday and first name. That’s it. And she started talking, the clairvoyant lady with a higher knowledge of my spiritual life. Do I believe everything she said? Absolutely not. But let me tell you – it was a bit creepy. She might have had a speedy connection to Facebook, Instagram and everything else semiprivate. Or maybe she had a friend sitting in a room close by giving her all the info. She was spot on.

 

I got it confirmed that I am a tangled mess of wool and silk string. And a tiny bit of glitter and fleece. A little bit of chaos. Champagne on a mountain top. Lobster and caviar by the campfire. Opera mixed with a little bit of country. One foot in a high heel and the other one in a trail shoe or a boot. And I still have a part of my heart in another country. But I guess I already knew that. But how did she know? I’m not sure anymore. But I don’t believe in that kind of stuff. I’m not going to tell you guys anything about the future, but now I know. 😉

Talk about one foot in a boot… I finally found my dream car. But that one requires I move to Cornwall, get a couple of new Barbour coats, at least one or two more dogs and a veterinarian practice. Ahh, so I need to go back to school again. I’m really considering it since I want the car. And I love rain boots. And cows. Maybe I need to find that clairvoyant lady again and ask her some well thought out questions about my future.

Happy Solstice

Today is the day, it’s turning around. It’s the shortest day of the year. The sun will come back. The light in our hearts will burst and the darkness will disappear.
It’s time to start sparkle in the sun, find the rhythm of your heart. The furnace and the fireplace are burning, but crack a window to get some air in your lungs.
Light up all the dark between all the stars in the sky. Your greatest day is in the future. The best laughs and hugs, the sweetest kisses are yet to come.
Don’t wake up and not have lived. See the sunsets on the darkest days.
Happy Solstice!

December slog

It’s getting closer, the wonderful Christmas is almost here. How magic and bright. They just said on the news that it’s seven days until Christmas, but that is not true. It’s six days until the real Christmas, the 24th. Everywhere around me people are asking if I’m ready for Christmas. What do you think? This is a recurring affair, this last-minute prep and shop thing. I am behind, that seem to be the theme of this year, behind on everything. But I am pretty sure it all will happen anyway, it will be merry and bright, magical and marvelous. And I am sorry for sounding a bit sour and bitter. Life is a constant battle, some months you walk up front and wave the flag, on top of things and have time for it all. Friends, cooking, family, fun stuff, training. And some months are like December, an endless slog of shores and not a whole lot of fun until the big day. And then it’s like popping a balloon, all the air just vanishes, and you sit there and watch your kids with a glass in your hand, very satisfied and happy.

I think the problem is that we need light and the magic of light. The sky is grey, and the days are still short and dark. I miss Lucia, the early morning of the 13th. The smell of saffron and coffee. The candles and singing in church. The bright and white classy displays of Christmas lights in dark trees. The slushy snow and the cold air. It’s all about the smells again, I miss the smells of home. It is nothing you can recreate with a Yankee candle, a synthetic mixture of fake Christmas.

The live fast, die young thing might have worked for Jesus. I don’t like the living fast thing. I want long walks in the woods, long runs or hikes in the mountains, endless dinners, lazy mornings in bed.

News this morning covered the impeachment and the ultimate Christmas wrapping and the stress it consists of. The mix is fascinating. Get real people, how hard can it be. They are talking binge wrapping sessions. Honestly. This makes me sad. And the impeachment, not a day too early.

What do you want for Christmas? Meat thermometer, a nerf gun, a cashmere sweater, a car. I always say that I want happy kids and something that smells good. And that is still true. But also, I want light. Light in the sky, light in our minds and hearts (And a new Burberry scarf).

Det går uppför igen

Igår kväll var det lagträning igen. Andra veckan i rad, nu är det en vana och då ska det ju bli lättare för varje gång. Vi har satt igång igen, killarna och jag. Jag har trumpetat ut att jag har gått i pension efter min ganska korta men vansinnigt spännande adventure racing karriär. Långrejstiden var passe. Det var slut på långa nätter med alldeles för tung ryggsäck, aldrig mer skulle jag finna mig själv flyta fram på en kall flod bland höga berg i en uppblåst packraft. Aldrig mer fightas liggande upp och ner i flod med gråten i halsen. Aldrig mer cykla med pannlampa och tung ryggsäck utan att veta när dagen börjar och livet slutar. Jag var färdig och nöjd. Och så fick jag ett kort meddelande att det var dags att börja om en sista gång. Och så fick jag en liten film skickad till mig. Fem minuter senare hade jag sagt ja och nu är vi här.

Expedition Oregon – “Become your own Legend” from Bend Racing on Vimeo.

Gårdagens träning, precis som förra veckans träning, var en kort tre timmars hike på Tiger Mt. Det låter inte som mycket men det är ändå en hel del pepp och hepp som krävs innan jag kommer iväg. Först och främst så går en hel dag med jobb, liv och annat vanligt. Lagom till att det börjar mörkna så är det dags. I ett buskage, vid foten av ett berg möts tre bleka typer med ryggsäckar och starka lampor på huvudet. Det nickas och sägs tjena och hej och så går vi. Det går lite uppför och jag flåsar. Och så börjar det gå starkt uppför och ibland svagt nedför för att gå uppför igen. Det var dimma halva vägen upp, pannlampan sken genom gröttjock fukt och blöt lera låg jämn över hela skogen. Då infinner sig känslan av evighet igen. Nära maxpuls på klockan och tiden går så sakta. Kommer vi någonsin komma upp, orkar jag verkligen hänga med? Steg efter steg, höjdmeter efter höjdmeter. Efter Rainier hade jag lovat mig själv att inte gå uppför med tung ryggsäck igen. Så får man skaka av sig känslan av att det här går inte, jag kommer aldrig hem, och skärpa sig. Vad sjutton är tre mörka timmar en måndag kväll när vi har en vecka i maj att se fram emot. Vi pratar tält, packrafts och lampor. Cyklarna och diverse delar diskuteras ingående och jag funderar på att jag måste ha nya skor. Och hur ska vi kunna surra fast cyklarna på flottarna. Och hur många kolfiberpaddlar har vi som fortfarande funkar. Och jag funderar på skor. Och så pratar vi ryggsäckar och jag tänker på att min stora bergsrygga som rymmer isyxor, rep, everestjackor och sovsäckar skulle varit den sista jag skulle köpa och sedan skulle jag lägga av. Och så halkar jag nedför i leran och sätter mig tungt på rumpan med tummen rakt ner i smeten och tänker att fy sjutton vad glamoröst livet är. Från sammetsjumpsuit och högklackat till smetig lera, kläder som klibbar och svettig pannlampa två dagar senare. Och så har tre timmar passerat, det kurrar i magen och håret ligger blött och stripigt mot huvudet. Ryggsäcken har liksom fastnat, klibbat fast mot ryggen och nöjdheten sprider sig i kroppen. Termosen med te väntar i bilen, Spotify går på och resan hem känns som en njutning. Blodsmaken är bortglömd, tröttheten i kroppen som bortblåst och hemma har barnen gjort soppa som står och väntar på mig rykande varm.

 

Ut ur dimman

Plötsligt händer det. Livet slår till och inget blir som förr. Efter besöket hos optikern för några veckor sedan är jag numera stolt ägare till ett par progressiva glasögon. Läsglasen som hängt på näsan, på huvudet, i fickan, i bilen och lite överallt var enligt optikern ett kraftigt ålderstecken. Det här med att kika under lugg och knöla ihop hakan är tydligen inte något som man ska sträva efter. Men om man tycker att läsglas är ett tecken på hög ålder vad är inte då progressiva glasögon? Men jag måste erkänna att jag ser på livet med andra ögon, det är klart och tydligt. I alla fall i vissa fall.

Helgen har varit av varierande kvalitet. Lite spring och knatande i skogen och lite fest. Det började med superpartaj inne i stan på SAM och slutar i soffan framför tvn. Vi snyggade till oss och såg faktiskt riktigt respektabla ut. Men tror ni att vi lyckades få till ett kort? Nej, bara en något fånig selfie.

Årets julfest, superpartajet krävde ett inköp av en ny trikåtrasa. Det finns ett par i garderoben men det är ju skönt att ha något att välja på. Blindheten slår till och det finns absolut inget att dra på kroppen för en natt på stan. Jag räknar till 1, 2, 3, 4 svarta jumpsuits i garderoben, men… Det blev ett inköp av en något tight jumpsuit i sammet och insåg jag att kroppen, framförallt mittendelen behövde klämmas åt lite för att bekvämligheten skulle infinna sig. Känner man sig inte bekväm så är man ju inte snygg. Och om jag klämde. Jag köpte mig mitt livs första Spanx. Blev det bättre? Lite slätare och plattare blev det ju men jag vet inte om det blev skönare direkt. Men snyggt var det.

Och så blev det söndag kväll. Julmusiken har dundrat högt hela kvällen, KitchenAiden och ugnen har jobbat. Som vanligt kom julpaniken hastigare än kvickt, inget är gjort, inga julklappar inköpta, lussekatterna är uppätna och skumtomtarna är slut på IKEA.

Renew, resume, refresh

I was a totally different person seven years ago. The easiest way to go back in time to 2012 is to check the photos on your phone. I raced Ö till Ö and was in the best shape of my life. I renovated (think coveralls, paint, wooden floors) and sold a house, I ran a few marathons, I did obstacle races, adventure races and traveled. I honestly looked pretty good. I looked strong, wrinkle free and happy.

All cells in the body replace themselves every seven years. Does that mean I am a new person 2019? I hope it means that all broken bones are healed, and all muscles are brand spanking new, that the heart is pumping and that my mind forgot how crappy I felt after my last long race. That’s why cells renew, so you forget and restart. The same as giving birth, once you see and hold the result you forget and move on.

I am checking my body and I am trying to get it all done in the fun month of November. Doctors’ appointments, you know all those fun body parts that need to be checked. So far nothing bad has happened but it’s not good news either. No doctor will say – hey, you look so much better today than 7 years ago. I can see that those gorgeous cells of yours are renewing in a fabulous and terrific way. Way to go! Keep it up!

I went to the optometrist yesterday. Nothing super exciting, just a checkup. It’s been two years or maybe more since last time. I’ve had reading glasses for a few years, nothing major just a little bit of adjustment. Well stuff happens in a few years. My eyes are still there, and the inside looks fantastic. The photo you get of the inside of your eyes are pretty great, almost like a painting. I am now a person with progressive lenses and reading glasses. Apparently not all cells renew and get shiny and bright. It sneaks up on you. But I just realized that maybe all wrinkles around my eyes will disappear when I don’t have to pinch my eyes together to see. That is good news.

Made my way to the chiropractor. He is one of my favorites and I do my best to see him often. I just needed some overall body repair. Three longish bike rides and a very long run in the past few days isn’t good for my new cells. Or maybe they need time to adjust?

I had to google the whole cell renewal business and it is true, almost. All cells have different lifespans and functions. Some cells renew in a few days and some need almost a decade but overall it is correct. I vaguely remember reading about cells and the human body long time ago in biology, but my cells renewed 3-4 times since then so no wonder the connection is lost.

The question is was everything better before? Do you miss your old cells? Or do my cells miss my old life?

I see a new goal in the future. A big race might be in the horizon if the gods are willing and if the stars align. And the big question – will my body cooperate? I’m overusing Resveratrol in different forms, trying to bump up my workouts and relax like a pro when resting. I am, as always, grateful for coffee, massages, hugs and baths. I see a lot of mountain bike rides in the future. And I need to get back in the water. I got a new training program a few weeks ago. For some strange reason I insisted on adding a swim session every week. I somehow felt that it was important to get back in the water. How on earth? And why? My extremely successful swim career started with a broken elbow and wrist, and endless training for Ö till Ö 2012. It’s a mystery that I survived a full day of swimming mile after mile in the Baltic sea combined with running a wet suit. I don’t know how many times people have asked when I’ll do it again. Well, never, duh. I’m not a big fan of swimming. I can swim and obviously I survived swimming in the deep dark and very cold sea in extreme waves. But every time I go to the pool for a workout, I get the feeling that I don’t know how to swim. Maybe my body forgot since last time. Maybe my body will sink, it might not be able to float or move in the water. I went for a swim the other day. I did not sink. I moved around for 45 minutes or so, meter after meter, minute after minute. I still know how to, it’s like riding a bike… Obviously all cells are new, and the memory is lost…race…swim…pack raft…sigh…

Sleep

The simplest thing. Something we all do and after so many years of practice I should master it. I don’t. It comes and goes. Different phases of my life, thoughts, work, races, it all weighs in. Right now, I’m in a wake-up early phase. We are not talking 6am, waking up right before the alarm sets off. We are talking 2.30 to 4 something. Prime sleep time. The time of the night when you can hear the coyotes howl and the bobcats sneak around in your back yard. When the house is quiet and the dog snores. Long before the newspaper arrives. I force myself to stay in bed to 4.30. I’m not allowed to check my phone before 4 but the Kindle is ok. I have high standards; everyone knows that the phone is bad karma and a no-no in the bedroom. Well, at least until insomnia hits. Then it’s a lifeline to the outer world. It is great to have a kid to communicate with in Europe. It’s prime time for her and I get to calm my mind. And when I finally allow myself to get up and walk down the coffee tastes so good, news on and the day goes by.

The last refuge of the insomniac is a sense of superiority to the sleeping world.
~ Leonard Cohen

Don’t worry about all the things you can do to make it better. No caffeine in the afternoon, alcohol, very cold and dark room, good bed and nice sheets, exercise… I’m on it. Only complaint is Doris. She is from time to time extremely annoying. Crawling around my feet. She has fur but thinks she is a nude cat. Skin to skin under the down duvet. Her mission is to keep my feet warm. She is the one that wakes me up. But to her defense, she is always asleep after 2am.

It’s kind of funny that this is going on. I’m a snoozer. I love sleep. From time to time I sleep more than enough. I have a hard time getting up in the morning. I take naps during the day. If I run a lot, I take every chance I can to nap. Doris is usually a candidate for heating cold feet during couch naps. And who can resist that? And now I can’t even nap.

I remember the worst time I went through a phase like this. 18 years ago, 3 kids under the age of 4, went back to school for a second master’s and gave myself a year to finish it. Renovated a house. Exhausted. Woke up every night with three kids around me or in a very small bed counting sheep, minutes, breaths. Kids with asthma. And its endless when you are in the middle of it. And then one day everything is back to normal and sleep is the last thing you must worry about. And you kind of forget about no sleep and tired days.

When you google sleep it’s easy to get a tad bit worried. If you don’t sleep, your brain and your body don’t rest and recoup. Scary stuff. But according to a very serious webpage there is hope. Or a stroke. Since my brain is not getting enough rest, I have a hard time understanding the information about the neurotransmitters and the risk of stroke if you don’t get enough sleep. I turn to WebMD instead, the Bible of real home medicine. And – drumroll – get supplements. It’s not going to happen. My brain and I are going to wait it out. Count sheep, think of life decisions, overthink race scenarios and look forward to the first cup of coffee every day.

“A flock of sheep that leisurely pass by
One after one; the sound of rain, and bees
Murmuring; the fall of rivers, winds and seas,
Smooth fields, white sheets of water, and pure sky –
I’ve thought of all by turns, and still I lie
Sleepless…”
~ William Wordsworth

 

Fredagsvandring

Den här veckan har varit en helt vanlig vecka men med strålande sol och kyla, blå himmel och fågelkvitter. Så är det faktiskt här ganska ofta men vissa veckor är ju bara extra fina. Jag har haft turen att kunna vara ute varje dag, och till och med i skogen varje dag. Det kanske är det som gör att det känns extra bra. Hur lyxigt är inte det? Det är inte så att jag hasat runt i gympapupporna och skubbat på skogsstigar hela dagarna men någon timme här och där, lite då och då. Och så fick jag en riktigt lång fredagsvandring som bonus. Mjuka skogsstigar, krispig luft och gula löv som frasar när man går på dem. Sol på kinderna och röd, droppig näsa. Trött kropp. Det finns inget finare än när solen glimmar mellan träden, letar sig fram och skjuter strålar i ränder långt in i en mörk skog. När man pratar om livskvalité så tror jag att det ligger väldigt högt upp på listan för mig.

Igår var en sådan dag som man minns. Jag drog iväg på en bergsvandring lite mer än en timme hemifrån med några kompisar. Det var en ny trail för oss alla. Tanken var att vi skulle gå några timmar uppför och hamna vid en alpin sjö och sedan gå tillbaka. Och det gjorde vi. Vi såg Rainier skina i solen på långt håll. Känslan att veta att jag varit på toppen är ganska skön faktiskt. Vi knallade på, delade upp oss lite för att vi gick olika fort. Men speciellt med dagen var att vi var mer eller mindre ensamma i skogen. Solen sken, luften var riktigt kall och här och var klev vi över is på stigarna. Vi passerade ljudliga vattenfall där vi balanserade över stock och sten, smög genom ödsliga skogar. Vi vandrade över stora stenpartier där vi klättrade över stenblock, vi gick uppför i flera timmar innan vi sedan började gå nerför igen. Och så kom vi fram till en kall sjö där vi gick några kilometer längs kanten och stannade sedan på en sten i solen och åt lite. Och inget hände. Vi satt tysta och tittade ut över det vackra, tomma. Inte en själ. Hur ofta är det så att det är helt tomt, tyst och solen skiner hela vägen in i hjärtat? Och så gick vi tillbaka över stock och sten i flera timmar genom skogen, uppför och sedan nerför. Det är fint med vänner man kan hasa runt i naturen med och dela tysta stunder.

När man pratar om att ladda batterierna så tror jag att min sladd kopplades in där och då. Hikingbrallorna på, ryggsäcken på ryggen, en banan och en nötcrème, svartvinbärssaft i termosen och 6 timmar vandring i benen.

When you meet a cat

Everything is great. Life is good. I have plans, I’m moving forward and it’s sunny and cold outside. I write notes, lists, blogposts that I never publish. I collect words in my phone, send myself texts and try to remember things that I like. The last note I have in my phone says – stay away from big cats! Good advice.

Today’s run was quite long, almost 2h long. Freezing the whole time, blue fingers in my gloves, bright red nose but so beautiful. I ran into a bobcat a few days ago. Nothing happened but he showed off his pearly whites and made a growling sound all the way from his tummy, scratched the paws on the ground. I look around and realize that we are alone on a street in Kirkland. Weird. He looks at me, I look at him and I freak out a little bit. I tried to talk with a steady voice and said “nothing to see here…move on…turn around…I’m not going to move if you’re not moving…” After what felt like eternity it turned and took off, back to the wetlands on the side of the street. This thing is kind of growing in my mind. Not really a big deal but I freaked out and I had to really talk myself into running the trails today. And about an hour in my run I thought I heard something follow me. Talk about stressing yourself out. Nothing there. My heartrate spiked, and I ran so fast. Well, my speed fast. Kind of pathetic. I would not stand a chance if I had a cat chasing me. Or not even a squirrel.

Running feels good again. I can’t say that it’s been bad for the past ten years or so but sometimes you just got the right feeling in your body. Not too much pain going on and not really getting too tired either. Maybe it’s the weather. Sun and blue skies. We have dry trails around here and snow in the mountains. Isn’t it wonderful to move around among huge trees and moss, leaves on the ground and fresh air? It’s a great warm up for life.

It’s time to clean up the notes in my phone and move on…to move around and be moved.