There is a concept that is said to only exist in Swedish. The term indicates a satisfactory amount adapted for its purpose, neither too much that destroys nor too little that is not enough to achieve the desired result. I think it is called “quantum satis” in Latin, in Swedish it is called “lagom”. The English translation could be “just right” or “adequate” but the meaning is not quite the same.
Anyway, in love relationships, I’m way too kind and compliant. I have a lot of psychological explanations for this but they are not very helpful, and I’m not getting better at being “just right kind enough”. Of course, it is a good quality to be kind, but it can be overvalued. Too much kindness can be uncomfortable and unpleasant, but it can also be exploited, depending on the recipient. The risk being you focusing too much on the other person’s needs and ignoring your own, to be a better person and to be liked.
Next time I fall in love, again, I will really try not to be overly kind. I will try to focus more on myself, try to know my own priorities, and try to set reasonable boundaries. Now I have written about it in this blog and it is public. I cannot hide (and just be overly kind)!
This summer I actually read a really thick book! I rarely indulge in reading novels or a thicker book that cannot be read in one go. I have learned that I am worthy of being liked only when I perform or am obedient and compliant. To “just” read and to devote myself to me is frightening! On the other hand, I love to learn and to understand and there is a lot of wisdom written in books.
The book I have read is not really a novel but can probably be classified as a manual in humanity. It assumes that man is good and describes it in a convincing way. It is man’s natural goodness that has made us what we are today. Helpfulness and cohesion have been a prerequisite for our success as a species. For the most part, we work together and feel trust in each other. In meetings with others, we usually experience kindness.
But, how does this go together with all the evil deeds that humans are capable of? Based on a series of crucial historical events and research studies, the book’s author sheds new light on human actions. The notion that man is basically selfish and controlled by self-interest is deeply rooted in our Western tradition of thought. Our societal debate assumes that we are egoistic and only think of ourselves. Our view of ourselves is of crucial importance for how we solve the societal challenges of the future.
It is high time for a new discussion about human nature. The book provides an opportunity to see humanity in a new way. The book is an international bestseller! I read the Swedish translation called “I grunden god“. The author is Rutger Bregman, a Dutch historian. The English title is “Humankind: A Hopeful History“.
If you, like me, feel guilty when you are lazy and “only” read a book, I can warmly recommend this book. It really makes a difference to understanding!
Very soon, the year 2020 will end. In many ways, it has been a terrible year. In Sweden, it turns out that new public management and the just-in-time economy have made us very vulnerable to a plague like the Corona pandemic. Hopefully we will learn something from the ordeal that the Covid-19 virus entails. In any case, we did not want to listen to the warnings and we should have understood better.
With joint efforts, we will pass this torment as well. But the year has not only been miserable. Just before the year started, I fell very much in love even though I had actually given up the opportunity to meet someone who would put up with me. It has turned out that she is crazy enough and has enough humor to accept me and I can see her whims from the bright side.
It has not been a dance on roses all the time and it probably will not be in the future either. But I feel the security I need to not let my inner fears take over and not listen to all the nonsense that my ego tells me. It’s not bad at all and then I have come a long way.
You learn as long as you live. Finally, I have learned and may have grown up in love too. So, despite all the misery of the pandemic, my year has been wonderful, and I look forward to the next. In this post, I share various photos from the year that has now come to an end.
It always does, gets brighter, when it is dark. Right now there are many reasons to see everything in black. Among them the pandemic and the lack of respect for democracy here and there in the world. I choose to believe in the good of humanity and that it will become brighter in time.
Up here in the northern hemisphere, the days are short now. Last weekend the sun shone for a while, enough for a walk along Edsviken to Ulriksdal Castle. We have not yet received snow. It is dark most of the day. But today is the first Sunday in Advent and we turn on the winter lights in our gardens, and candlesticks and Advent stars in the windows. Suddenly it gets brighter. Now it’s only four weeks until Christmas!
There are indeed many wise and kind people on the Internet who share their wisdom. It’s just a matter of finding them in all the information noise and among all the loudmouths. Like when I felt abandoned and unsuccessful because I could not find love but found a wisdom that a friend posted (1).
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It’s not about finding someone to live with, but finding the one you do not want to live without!
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Many before me have probably understood this. To me, that wisdom made all the difference anyway. It gave me the insight I needed. Today a friend wrote about the meaning of life in her blog on WordPress (2).
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It is not about finding the meaning of life but about finding the meaning in life.
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It may seem a very small difference between “of” and “in” but it really made my thinking about the meaning of life evolve to something else. An absolutely wonderful insight!
The first time crayfish is mentioned in Swedish gastronomy is in a letter from king Erik XIV dated 1562. King Erik grew crayfish in the water-filled moats around Kalmar Castle. Crayfish were not eaten whole and cold as they are today. Kajsa Warg’s cookbook from the 18th century contains old recipes on how to make crayfish cake, crayfish sausages and stewed pans with crayfish tails. The crayfish party (Kräftskivan), as we know it today, was formed during the first decades of the 20th century. Since then, it has increased in popularity, and today it is one of the holidays associated with Swedish identity and Swedishness.
Previously, crayfish fishing was only allowed from the first Wednesday in August, but the fishing ban was lifted in 1994. Most people still choose to start eating crayfish in early August. The ideal August night is warm and tender, just perfect for a traditional crayfish party. All you need is some friends, a heap of freshly boiled crayfish, dill, Västerbotten cheese pie, some beer and schnapps, and funny drinking songs.
The other night we had our crayfish party under the awning on the patio in my townhouse garden. My love, my sons, and me. It was a hilarious and lively party! Now, I’m looking forward to a sour herring party.
There is so much to experience not too far from home. Yesterday we made a car trip to the town Mariefred some 60 kilometres west of Stockholm. Mariefred means “Peace of Mary” and the city got its name from a former monastery “Pax Mariae” which was the only catholic Carthusian monastery in the Nordic countries, and one of the last established monasteries in Sweden before the Reformation.
The monastery was built on the hill where Mariefred’s church is now located, opposite Gripsholm’s castle. The monastery church was inaugurated in 1504. Above ground, there are no remains from the monastery today. The king Gustav Vasa, who led the Protestant Reformation in Sweden, had the buildings demolished and the brick was used when the Gripsholm castle was built.
On the shores of Lake Mälaren, the Gripsholm castle is towering powerfully and fairytale-like over the idyllic small town of Mariefred. Gripsholm is known as Gustav Vasa’s castle, as it was he who built the castle here in 1537. Since Gustav Vasa, Gripsholm has belonged to the Royal Family and is part of the Crown palaces in Sweden. In 1773, Gripsholm Castle was renovated by King Gustav III. The perhaps most famous addition to the castle during his reign was a theater, which was added in one of the castle towers.
In 1822, the building came to host the National Portrait Gallery which contains a collection of portraits of prominent Swedes from the 1500s to the present. Each year the Gripsholm Society commissions and donates portraits of internationally prominent Swedish citizens to the collection. Many portraits are the work of renown Swedish artists. Now the castle is a museum which is open to the public.
Since long, I am well known as a ”bathing coward”. Google translate doesn’t translate the Swedish word “badkruka”, but I am talking about outdoor swimming in cold waters, I didn’t use to appreciate it. Mostly, it’s rather chilly in the waters of the Baltic sea. Ever since I got a boat of my own, gradually I’ve had to learn to appreciate swimming in cold waters.
Like most of Europe, in recent weeks we have had high pressure weather and a heat wave. The water in the sea has become really comfortable. This weekend, it didn’t take much courage to swim. I could even wash the water line!
Summer has really come to Sweden. We have a heat wave with temperatures above 30 degrees (Celsius). The weather was also exceptionally good recently during the important Midsummer weekend. Almost as if nature comforts us in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.
We had a walk on Djurgården, an island in central Stockholm. There, in the middle of the capital, you will find beautiful and soothing scenery with stretches of forest and meadows, in addition to historical buildings and monuments, museums, galleries, an amusement park, the open-air museum Skansen, a small residential area, and yacht harbours.
The Swedish monarch has held the right of disposition of Djurgården since the 15th century. We walked Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel’s love path in the forest area by the marsh “Isbladskärret” on the island’s northeastern part. There was peace and quiet with cows, herons, trees and wild roses. Finally we reached the channel “Djurgårdsbrunnskanalen” and saw the TV tower “Kaknästornet” in the distance. The Royal Djurgården can be recommended, if you ever come to Stockholm.
Contrary to what some domestic and foreign politicians believe, we in Sweden have taken strong measures to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus in the population. The future, when the pandemic is over, will tell us which actions around the world were the most effective. This year’s National Day celebration was different. Among other things, a distance choir was formed with more than 700 participants to welcome the summer and together sing “Uti vår hage”.
“Uti vår hage” (“In our pasture or meadow”) is a traditional Swedish folk song first published around the 1880s, though it is considered to have origins as far back as the 1600s. The song is well known in Sweden, frequently performed by choral groups. It belongs to the national song treasure, the most popular arrangement being by the composer Hugo Alfvén in 1923. An English translation of the lyrics can be found at: https://lyricstranslate.com/en/uti-vår-hage-our-pasture.html
I attended the big choir as a bass as well as tenor. A video of the recording can be seen at the Facebook wall of the radio program “Klassisk morgon” (Classical morning) at channel P2.
We all carry inner fears. I think that when we recognize them and know them, we have the conditions necessary to reach the final stage of our ”adult development”. In our minds we have an idea of who we are. We have learned the idea of ourselves during life. Thoughts about ourselves have been shaped by success and adversity. We have learned to live our lives. But even if the thoughts, once formed, were appropriate, in adulthood they may have become an inner fear, a fear that complicates life.
We are happy to defend our inner fear of discovery. Wouldn’t it be awful if someone discovered that we are inadequate and not worthy of love? Whenever we are in a defensive position, we really are not in our favor. The notion of ourselves and our inner fear is then easily confirmed, especially in love relationships.
I know, it sounds hopeless but you can actually learn again. It’s hard to get rid of the inner fears but you can stop being afraid of them. Recognize them and learn to deal with them as a fully-grown person. Do not be afraid!
Whenever we want to communicate, we are usually anxious to be understood and to understand. Why do we overlook this when we try to communicate love? Is inner fear hindering us, or are there simply different languages of love? Do we talk past each other because we have different languages?
Do you think your partner doesn’t understand you? Do you know what you need to understand love expressions? Have you thought about what makes your partner feel love? How do you communicate love with each other?
I like manuals of living! They make me think and sometimes I learn. I stumbled across a book by Gary Chapman that describes a theory about the different languages of love. Broadly speaking, there are five love languages: “Affirmative Words”, “Time Together”, “Gifts”, “Services”, and “Physical Touch”.
The book has been translated into Swedish and is called “Upptäck kärlekens olika språk“. The original title is “Five Love Languages”. The photographs are from a walk recently in Nacka outside Stockholm.
Trust is the foundation of love, and we can only truly love someone that we can trust. Love by itself isn’t enough, and really does not conquer all. I now know that I have to trust the one I Love. To have a healthy love relationship, I must have the guts to believe in my partner. Trust is necessary.
Trust is a feature of love. Trust enhances love. A real love relationship is built upon trust. If your partner tends to break your trust in any way, it simply isn’t true love. Building trust requires commitment, and trust must be maintained. Trust requires listening to and communicating both our desires and needs. Most importantly, trust requires honesty.
Once the trust is broken it is hard to avoid doubt and fear of trust and love being broken again. You become more cautious about whom to trust, and to love again. Fortunately, trust actually can allow us to love again! When you are aware that trusting someone is a risk, and when the falling in love comes with a hope that your lover will deliver on all the promises the earlier relationships failed to fulfil, you must dare to take the risk. That risk can create a wonderful, everlasting love!
Very much happens by chance or at random. Admittedly, the right conditions need to prevail, but chance mostly has a big impact. Being lucky seems necessary! When it comes to love, I think we create the conditions ourselves.
Brusquely expressed, I lost faith in love about six months ago. I was well on my way to become bitter and almost misogynous! But, I’m basically unhelpfully romantic and couldn’t stop believing that even for me, somewhere there was a great answered love.
I just had to take it easy and stop hunting, but still be open to love! Suddenly and completely unexpectedly she was there. I fell in love and realized that the love is answered. Now, our love develops and we get to know each other. It is wonderful. Random is not enough to explain that we have met. It really feels like a higher power is involved in the fact that we two met each other!
There is saying “Treat others the way you want to be treated”. In love relations this seems safe and easy, and you will probably get what you want in return. But imagine if you act completely unaware of the other’s wishes. Then you might become too selfish, simply a jerk. No one wants to be like that, right?
I’d rather say “Treat others the way they want to be treated”. I enjoy being responsive, loving and generous but risk being perceived as too soft and without my own will. Fortunately, that’s a risk I’m prepared to take, and it seems to pay off!
I now know that there is a love for each of us. You just have to give yourself time to understand what you are longing for. How to treat each other is an essential part of the language of love. When you have met your love, and when you speak the same language of love, then you know that you have found the one you do not want to live without.
The three first pictures are from the Pride parade in Stockholm, and the last is from Regent’s Canal in London.
In the Swedish everyday language there are several words for love, kind of reflecting the different stages of the “love relation process”. The first stage, when we are falling in love, is called “förälskad” and may translate into English as “enamoured”, or “amorous”, or simply “in love with”. I am into research and maybe I theorise too much. Anyway, I mean that stage when it all feels great and we are full of hope and dreams. We hope that our lover will deliver on all the promises our earlier relationships failed to fulfil, and we dream of remaining in love forever. All our love hormones are overflowing. This truly is a wonderful stage, and it is probably necessary for the relation to develop into the next stage when we really love each other, in Swedish “när vi älskar varann”. When the love deepens and develop, and when you really feel you have found the one you don’t want to live without. (It’s just some thoughts of enamoured hope!)
It is really not sustainable to give up the belief in love. I am absolutely convinced that love even can last a long time. The vast majority of my friends do live with love in long-term relationships. Yes, I know it may not always have been a dance on roses, but still, they stick together and seem to appreciate each other.
Nowadays I feel completely convinced that there is a wonderful person also for me. A great and loving woman whom I appreciate and who can appreciate me. I am an incurable romantic and believe we can find a love that is genuine, in which I and she recognize each other for who we really are — as wonderful, not entirely flawless, but loving human beings.
The photos in this post are various old ones from my Lightroom library.
I find love and expectations difficult and it doesn’t seem to get easier with age. I am a romantic and think that practical or comfortable love is boring, but what are realistic expectations? Does it mean I can forget a great love, forget that person who makes it feel like bumblebees are buzzing in my chest?
Does having realistic expectations mean that I should settle for someone who is okay, and that I should be happy with a partner who isn’t great? Actually, I would generally be okay with a partner who is human, just like me, and who, like me, is imperfect.
I don’t expect myself and my partner to fulfill a romantic ideal; to always be in sync, to always know what the other person is thinking, to always do the right thing. Things are never always perfect. All I want is a love that’s real, in which me and my partner recognize each other for who we really are—as wonderful, flawed human beings.
The pictures show wonderful, flawed and withering flowers in my garden, now in November.
In the autumn it is easy to feel sadness, yet many people like the autumn. Nature changes color and the air becomes cold and clear. It gets dark in the evenings and you can crawl up on the couch under a blanket, and light candles. It’s cozy!
Even if you have everything important in life, and life is good, you can always find something to feel sorry for, if you really want to. Sometimes it may even feel cozy to feel a little sorry for oneself. Is it perhaps so that the cozy thing about autumn is because it attracts one to self-pity. When it is cold, dark and rainy outside, and when the green vegetation has died down, when the candle flame flutters, when the sofa is comfortable, and when it is warm under the blanket, it feels extra cozy to feel a little sorry for oneself. Is that why many people think autumn is cozy?
To experience the beauty of autumn, I went to Rosersbergs slott, one of the Royal Palaces of Sweden situated on the shores of Lake Mälaren, on the outskirts of Stockholm. The palace was built in the 1630s and modernized in the late 17th century. By the palace is an English garden with winding paths. Autumn is looking particularly good in the park!
In the park, I was inspired to plant flower bulbs. I have grown tired of feeling sorry for myself and am already longing for spring. I want tulips, crocus, and daffodils. Lucky for me to remember that it is now in the autumn that I have to plant the bulbs. In the evening I lit a candle!
The fourth season with my boat is over. It’s been a great boating season, the Stockholm archipelago is really amazing and discovering it by motorboat suits me perfectly. The boat has everything needed for a holiday and with a reasonably large crew you have comfort. With just two on board, it is pure luxury!
It has never been the idea of having a boat, but on the longer archipelago trip, I had new company, even this season. If I were the least superstitious, I would think that there is a curse on the boat when it comes to companionship. It doesn’t matter, I love the boat anyway! Mange and Lollo, and my sons are happy to come along.
At the end of the summer, I gathered the courage to spend the night alone in a natural harbor, but instead I ended up with Anita and Staffan at a cozy barbecue party at Vega Segelsällskap’s club island. If you take the boat trip as it comes then wonderful things happen!
Mange, as seen in the pictures, helped me pick up the boat. Now the boat will rest over the winter. Next spring I will make her shine nice again. If you think you can stand up to a middle-aged skipper who thinks too much, get in touch!