Fun at the Bergen Aquarium

This morning the weather was a bit rainy, so hiking the mountain as we had planned was a no go. The old cobblestone roads were slippery enough, I couldn’t imagine how slippery the trail would have been. In lieu of hiking, we took the kids and went to the Bergen Aquarium with my brother and his family. The aquarium was a quick ten minute walk from our place and reasonably priced.

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The aquarium wasn’t huge, but it was perfectly sized.  It had a nice array of animals all of our attention including some familiar species from back home.  My personal favorite was the flamboyant sea lion that kept making eyes at us as it swam by the group. It was a fun morning.

 

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9,000 steps before noon

We started our morning of 9,000 steps with a ride up to Mt. Floyen on the funicular.  Once up the mountain, we hiked around the lake and through the forest. The views of the city, nearby islands and the North Sea were incredible. Thankfully, they had some coffee and cold water in the gift shop for a post hike refreshment.

Post Mt. Floyen, we got on a bus and headed to Mt. Ulricken. We headed up the gondola to see Bergen from the city’s highest peak. Once at the top, we hiked up to the mountain’s peak. The mountain top was home to a farm and several small lakes. The hike was exhausting, but well worth the hard work.

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Sunset in Bergen

I can’t get over how late the sun sets in Norway. For example, the sunset in Bergen is after 11:00 pm.  It really throws you for a loop as it never gets darker than nautical twilight during July.   Here are some pictures in Bergen on our way to meet family taken around 9:30 and on our walk back to our apartment taken around 11:30.
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Living Life as a Paragon of Perfection (Not!)

In a world dominated by social media and social media influencers, the use of filters and the crafting of a careful social media presence exists far from the glare of the Hollywood lights.  We use Instagram to perpetuate an image of our lives that we want the world to accept regardless if it is accurate or not.  It has a created a society that looks towards almost unattainable and unsustainable happiness based on the false pretense of everyday life the social media has created.

Think about it.  When you select your Insta or Facebook profile picture, you’re going to pick the most flattering picture.  You may even select one with one of those ridiculous and fun Snapchat filters.  We certainly don’t select a picture where we look horrible that’s for damn sure.   The picture where we’ve clearly drank too much and are making the most ridiculous face that are friend tagged us in on Facebook?  We instantaneously remove the tag.

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The thing is we can’t pretend like this didn’t exist before the socials did.  It’s not like people picked their crappiest photos and worst moments to highlight on their Christmas cards.  Just like the photos we post to our profiles now, the photos selected and the moments shared always crafted a good picture.   Was it always accurate? Probably not.

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The problem with socials is that they exacerbate the perception that many of our friends are living lives that are the total paragon of perfection.   Meanwhile, their life may be a complete disaster or completely normal.   As I looked through pictures from graduation last month, I found myself laughing at the outtakes.  We had some great pictures, but there were some completely disastrous photos, which are pretty accurate of how life sometimes feels in a house of all boys.

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For today’s blog post, I’ve interspersed some of my favorite photos of the boys and the numerous outtakes.  You’ll notice one Christmas (2007) the Mayor decided he didn’t want to cooperate at all.  At the end of the day, social media can be a great tool to keep in touch with family and friends across the globe, but we can balance putting our best foot forward with the creation of a completing fake and narcissistic social media persona.

 

Worn With Pride

Uniform, jersey, sweater it has many names.  It is symbolic of the high level of commitment it took to attain it and symbolic of the club which is represents.  There are a number of great quotes involving uniforms about what it means to be an athlete.

Brooks’ quote is legendary and I think most of us remember it from the movie Miracle or from the Lake Placid games.  The philosophy of playing harder for your team than for yourself is a key component of hockey culture.  It is also a critical component of what made his 1980 team so special.  In 1980, the team was comprised of college players mostly from University of Minnesota (Go Gophers!) and Boston University.   Just as they do today, my Gophers and Boston University enjoy a healthy rivalry on the ice.  In order to get his players to put their egos and these college rivalries aside, he needed to unite them around a common goal and that was playing for the name on the front of their jersey Team USA.   Brooks was a genius.

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Clemente’s quote speaks to the pride that athletes feel when they put on the sweater.   At the professional athlete, I cannot imagine how amazing it must feel.  Major League Baseball is the pinnacle of baseball and to make it to that pinnacle after years of hard work must feel otherworldly.  The pride he, and his family, must have felt the first time he put on that MLB jersey are something he will probably never forget.  I remember the first time my sons’ put on their travel hockey jerseys.  The smiles on their face went from ear to ear.  You could see the pride the felt in their achievements and they carried their heads a little bit higher.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with my favorite quote on a uniform and it comes from my favorite brassy gal Mae West, who as always said it best and wasn’t wrong.

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Imaginary Troubles

If you’re like me, ever since children entered the picture, sleep has been an issue.  While you may have been a deep sleeper before, you now wake up at the drop of a pin.  God forbid your dogs bark or your partner snores because then you won’t even be able to fall asleep.  The problem with this of course is that as you try to sleep and can’t, the mind starts racing.  Sadly late at night, the mind never goes to a good place.  It goes into your psyche and taps into your anxieties and fears.

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Once those ruminations start, they are hard to stop and you find yourself struggling to slow your racing mind.  These imaginary obstacles have your heart racing and your brain on overdrive.  When you do finally fall asleep, the anxiety may abate temporarily only to resurface the following day.   It is an odd facet of human nature that we are inclined to ruminate about a past that we cannot change and a future that we cannot predict.  These ruminations can become overwhelming if you allow them.

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If you find yourself obsessing over potential issues or obstacles in the future, stop.  Just as you cannot change your past, you cannot live by focusing on future problems.   To be clear, you can exist, but you cannot live.  Your life will pass you by if your time is focused on your past or on your future.   Focus on your present, the people you love and that which you can control.

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Life will hand you difficult hands, but you are much better equipped to deal with the difficulty than your worries suggest.  The struggles you worry about often seem insurmountable, but when faced with actual struggles you will overcome them.  Have faith in your strength and in the strength of your relationships, which will help carry you through the difficult times.

Tracing Our Roots

Growing up in Minnesota, my family was very proud of its Norwegian heritage.  Like many Minnesotans, our families had immigrated to the United States in the late 19th century from Scandinavia.   While factions of both my mom and dad’s family emigrated from Norway during this period, my mother-in-law’s family emigrated from Finland.  It has always been a dream of ours to trace our roots and understand where our family came from and why they emigrated.

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After many years of dreaming, it will finally become a reality.  This summer we will embark on an epic trip to explore our Norwegian heritage and trace our roots in Norway.  Not only are my kids going, but my mom, dad, grandma and my brothers and their families are going.  Together we will be able to meet our family that still lives in Norway and explore the seaside towns, the countryside and farmland where they once lived.

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We look forward to connecting with our heritage and the rich history of Norway while disconnecting from everyday life.  Kayaking on the beautiful fjords where one can see seals instead of alligators.  The beautiful mountains and mountain valleys will be a site for sore eyes since we barely have what can be called a hill here in Florida.

In the coming years, there will be more trips to plan.  With family having immigrated to the US from Finland, Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, we have plenty of trips to make in order to truly connect with our heritage.   Our heritage is an important part of our identity, but more than that the experience of exploring the world with my boys is priceless.  Nothing beats living a life full of wanderlust.

Support Our Journey

Survive

This year has been an extremely difficult year full of pain and loss, which I had discussed in a previous post.  In these periods of difficulty, it is sometimes difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it is there.  Suffering is part of the human experience.  Learning to thrive and find meaning in the suffering is to survive.   While I’ve lost a lost this year, I have also learned a lot.

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Living in S. Florida, it is easy to get caught up in material things and a hedonistic lifestyle.    In doing so, however, material goods can take the place of experiences and people.  While some people’s budget can support both, mine can’t, but that’s really not the point.  The point is that learning to appreciate experiences with the people you love will help carry you through difficult times.  The shared memories you create will never leave you and are priceless.

Life is seldom stable with changes both positive and negative coming rapid fire. In addition to coping with the suffering, you have to be adept at adapting to change.  If you cannot adapt to the changes in your life, you cannot survive and thrive.  This isn’t something that happens real time or overnight.  It can be gradual or after weeks of nothing it happens all at once.  The goal is to learn to how to roll with the punches and be nimble.   Just like Darwin’s finches, you must adapt if you are to survive.

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Surrounding yourself with people who are your champions is an absolute must. Each and every one of us needs that person that can pull us up when we’re down.  A person that can remind us how fantastically awesome we are when we’re not feeling that spectacular.   Of course, it is just as important to return the favor and be that champion for your friends and family.

Carpe Diem

If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time thinking about the past and the future. For some reason, we like ruminating over what has happened and what may happen.  This presents a number of problems of course.  When you focus on your past, you really never move forward.   Regardless of what has happened in the past, its best to live and learn.   I truly wish there was an easy answer for how to do this, but there really isn’t.

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In the moments unoccupied by thoughts of our past, we worry about our future.  What will happen in your career?  How will your bills get paid? How will your kids do in school?  A myriad of questions and worries that can eat away at you if you let it.  I know I’ve certainly had many sleepless nights worrying about what may be.  Silly, I know, yet I can’t stop.

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Here’s the problem.  As we descend into the madness these preoccupations can bring, we miss out on life.  The reminder of this usually comes as a harsh sad reality via regrets after the loss of someone we love.  I recently lost a dear friend, an excruciatingly painful experience, who taught me and many others about life.  The lesson was about living a life of no regrets.  A lesson about living a life full of love, loved ones, and experiences no matter what cards you are dealt.   Life isn’t always puppies and unicorns.  Although I would love it to be that way.  Instead of descending into the madness, grab life by the horns, carpe diem and #LiveLikeDebbie.

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Mother’s Day part 1

Writer’s block hit me as I tried to write this post.  How does one adequately express the significance and difficulty of this Mother’s Day in the context of Jacob’s forthcoming graduation and the many losses that have occurred over the past several months?  I’m not sure it is possible, but I’ll try.

Motherhood is at once both a supreme gift and a supreme burden.  Before you jump all over me for the word burden, let me explain.  As my mom so wisely warned me when I was pregnant with Jake, there is no bigger emotional investment than   having a child.   Yep, she was right about that and pretty much everything else.  Every up and down our children experience is felt deeply in our heart and soul.  The highs are magnificent, but the lows are devastating.   Even worse as our children experience the lows, sometimes we have to step back, guide them and allow them to figure it out.  It is excruciatingly painful but if we always save them from themselves, they’ll have difficulty as an adult working through problems.

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I would love to say that I’m always super fantastic at this, but I’m not.  I’m still working on it.  Motherhood is really all about OJT (on the job training) as we would say at work.  Yeah, there are books like What to Expect When You’re Expecting or Raising Boys.  However, these guidebooks left a lot of information out.  They didn’t warn me that my youngest would pull his pet beetle out of his pocket during the intermission of Jacob’s choir concert or that they may try to make a lizard habitat out of the buffet table’s drawer.  Yeah, the books left out a lot.  I am fortunate to have an amazing mother, who I think did a great job raising me and my brothers.  She’s always available if I need her advice or just to talk. My grandmothers and great grandmothers were also served as strong examples for me as well.

I understand fully that to be able to call my mom on mother’s day is a luxury.  Mother’s Day for many is reminder of a painful loss and for some it is the exclamation point to their recent loss.  For us it is a reminder of the loss of my mother-in-law Sandy (pictured below with the Mayor.)  Six years later, we miss her immensely.  Today pray for those that have lost their mother, particularly those whose loss is recent, and for those mothers that have experienced the loss of their child.   This Mother’s Day celebrate your mother, spend time with her, appreciate her and spoil her as it is a gift to be able to share this day with her.

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