Saturday, April 10, 2010


"She was on the beach with her father, and he asked her to go and see what the temperature of the water was like. She was five years old and glad to be able to help. She we the to water's edge and dipped in a toe. 'I put my feet in and it's cold,' she told him. Her father picked her up and carried her down to the water again, and, without any warning, threw her in. She was shocked at first, but then laughed out loud at the trick he'd played. 'How's the water?' asked her father. 'It's lovely,' she replied. 'Right, from now on, whenever you want to find out about something, plunge straight in.' She had quickly forgotten this lesson. She may only have been twenty-one, but she had already nurtured many enthusiasms, which she had abandoned as quickly as she had taken them up. She wasn't afraid of difficulties; what frightened her was being forced to choose one particular path. Choosing a path meant having to miss out on others. She had a whole life to live and she was always thinking that, in the future, she might regret the choices she made now. 'I'm afraid of committing myself,' she thought to herself. She wanted to follow all possible paths and so ended up following none." -Paulo Coelho, Brida

Friday, April 9, 2010

Mora, Sweden

I am staying in Mora for a couple months. It's farther north than where Oskar lives with his dad, so it's colder, and there is still snow everywhere. Today it is really sunny, so the weather is looking more promising. I am staying with Oskar's mom, his sister Stina (17 on April 28th), and his baby sister Lotta (14 months). So far it has been enjoyable getting to play with the baby everyday and help her mom out. I also bought a swim pass so I can go to the pool everyday. I have a library card, too and just finished my first book: Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It was a pretty good read, and there are 2 more books in the series. I checked out a book on learning Swedish. It comes with a textbook, workbook, and CD. It is really basic stuff, but I think it will help in the long run. Hopefully I can learn a little bit of Swedish from it, so I don't feel totally stupid after spending so much time in this country. I think if you are in a country this long, you have to at least learn a little bit of the language, or else you are just being a bad visitor. I should be getting my resident permit in my passport soon, since I am a temporary resident of Sweden. Sounds exciting. Now it is time to enjoy the sun while I can, after a little swimming of course. I am sure I got some kind of vitamin D deficiency being here for so long. I miss spring in SC, but I hear it's too hot anyway. It will be quite a shock to go back in June.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Witch of Portobello

I’m going in search of the adventure of being alive.

And it’s complicated: why am I not looking for happiness when everyone has taught me that happiness is the only goal worth pursuing?

Why am I going to risk taking a path that no one else is taking? After all, what is happiness?

Love, they tell me. But love doesn’t bring and never has brought happiness.

On the contrary, it's a constant state of anxiety, a battlefield; it's sleepless nights, asking ourselves all the time if we’re doing the right thing. Real love is composed of ecstasy and agony. All right then, peace.

Peace? If we look at the Mother, she’s never at peace. The winter does battle with the summer, the sun and moon never meet, the tiger chases the man, who’s afraid of the dog, who chases the cat, who chases the mouse, who frightens the man.

Money brings happiness. Fine. In that case, everyone who earns enough to have a high standard of living would be able to stop work. But then they’re more troubled than ever, as if they were afraid of losing everything. Money attracts money, that’s true. Poverty might bring unhappiness, but money wont necessarily bring happiness. I spent a lot of my life looking for happiness, now what I want is joy.

Joy is like sex – it begins and ends. I want pleasure. I want to be contended, but happiness? I no longer fall into that trap.

by Paulo Coelho ( “The Witch of Portobello” )

I have read this book about 4 times. I still love it. Everyone should read it. Paulo Coelho is amazing.

Cross Country Skiing

When I got back to Sweden after my trips to Morocco and France, I discovered the wonderful sport of cross country skiing. Needless to say, I mastered it in 2 minutes, and I will be in the next Olympics of course!! Ok, not really. But it is a lot of fun! We went out on the frozen lake in Hjo and I got some pointers on the basics of cross country skiing, then I was off! It is a wonderful full body workout. A few days later, Oskar, his friend Erik (now my friend, too), and I went on the cross country skiing trails in the woods just outside Hjo. We brought snacks and hot chocolate for afterwards. I may have fallen on every downhill, and it may have taken 20 minutes to get up every small uphill, but it was great! We had a wonderful laughter-filled day, even though I got some bruises. I have decided that I need to live somewhere where I can go cross-country skiing a lot in the winter. This could be my second favorite sport now (second to swimming of course). Downhill skiing is something else entirely. I just got back from a three day skiing trip in Sälen. I have a lot of difficulty maneuvering myself with skis on, which ended up in my tripping over a lot of people in line, but that's ok. Though I went on a skiing trip there just after Christmas, I felt like I started over completely in learning. I suppose it didn't take quite as long for me to get used to it, but the second day I had to start getting over my fear again. It's scary going that fast! It's not so bad when it's slower, but once the speed picks up, I feel like I have no control over my skis, and then I am afraid of running into people or into a tree or something. Oh well. We had a great time, and I think I did really well, considering I am pretty much a beginner. Here are some pictures of the slopes and the frozen lake skiing.