On Being Brave

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~Anais Nin

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A lot of people say I’m very brave. Some have even called me ballsy. One friend described me as being someone that seems like I am conservative and afraid of trying new things but  when they get to know me, they realize it’s really not the case.

Someone else told me that I’m brave but not so bold. It’s true. I’m a risk taker, and I love adventure but I’m also terrified at times to really live big. I’ve lived on the safe side of risk. Daring but not delving. Jumping but not flying. I take enough of a risk that it’s considered daring, but not enough to actually go all in.

Until recently.

I got tired of playing it safe. I truly felt it was time to bloom. What I didn’t expect was the amount of backlash and terror I’ve had to overcome in order to take these steps. Walking through this fire has been the most exhilarating, painful and rewarding risk I’ve ever taken.

It seems simple, some of the things I’ve done to challenge myself. Go to breakfast alone and sit at the bar. Call a friend instead of e-mailing or texting. Ask just a few more questions and show that I care. Not react, dare to be seen, be vulnerable and express how I really feel.

I try not to compare myself to others, but it’s hard not to when the things I’m taking a chance with are considered so fundamental or normal for everyone else. Or so it seems.

The fear is real. The trembling, the frantic feelings, the overwhelming anxiety is excruciatingly painful. At least at first it is, until slowly I’ve come to realize that it’s safer than I thought. The man behind the curtain isn’t real.

 

What I’ve also learned is that I don’t have to go “all in.” I’m learning that it’s okay to take baby steps. But it’s funny because the baby steps are actually the most difficult.

What I forget sometimes is that it is “normal” to be anxious about certain things. I somehow expect that I “shouldn’t” feel anxious or nervous. I’ve jumped over the discomfort because I didn’t want to feel it. I never learned that it was “okay” to be myself and feel my natural “normal” feelings.

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Why do we feel we have to be an expert at things we’ve never tried before? Why are we so hard on ourselves for feeling the natural feelings that come up in different situations? Why are we afraid to feel our own fears and embrace ourselves for exactly who we are?

When I feel just how debilitating the fear was when I first started taking these baby steps, I totally understand why I wanted to jump. But it is precisely in these steps that I am learning to be truly courageous.

Now, I’m really being adventurous, not with the risk I’m taking but with feeling my way through the fear of doing it. Testing my limits, holding back when necessary, taking steps forward when I feel ready. Playing the edge instead of letting the unknown scare the bejesus out of me.

I’m taking it nice and slow, and now I am learning to ENJOY the process, learn that it’s okay, and it’s opening up a whole new world.

Finding Happiness

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“Turn your face toward the sun and the shadows will fall behind you.” ~Maori Proverb

Sometimes it is that simple.

I was washing up and feeling a bit disgruntled at the task when suddenly I looked down and saw Mr. Smiley Sponge. In an instant, I decided to change the way I felt about what I was doing and all of a sudden the energy in my body changed.

I went from heavy and constricted to a feeling of lightness.

I realized how easy it really is when we change our relationship to something we dislike, or have an aversion to, and accept the task at hand.

The truth is though that I was tired. I didn’t have the energy to do what I was doing but I had to find the strength inside from somewhere. I HAD to finish the task, I thought.

Maybe it was this precise pressure that I put on myself that made me feel squeezed and this is what caused the negativity and constriction?
Maybe instead of just deciding to put on a happy face, I should set the dishes down and go rest, come back to it later when I have more energy?
I don’t have to do it all at once!
Giving myself this permission slip could be the key to my happiness. Maybe next time I won’t feel like it’s as much of a drag if I don’t pressure myself to do it all in one go?
Maybe I don’t need to do mind Jiu-Jitsu after all!
Sometimes “all” that’s needed is changing our relationship to something, but sometimes maybe it’s as simple as becoming aware of why it might need to change or be changed in the first place and honoring how we feel.

25 Random Things About Me

As part of the new focus of my blog, which is to write more about my personal life and projects, I decided  to list some interesting tidbits, loves, quirks and peculiarities that make me, well, me.

Jeg Kan Tale Dansk. When I was young, I used to say I could speak two languages, “regular,” since I was from Pennsylvania, and “Texan,” since I spent time visiting family there. Later, I studied Spanish in high school and university as part of my communications degree. Later on, I studied Danish while living in Denmark so I understand some Swedish and Norwegian too. While in Europe, I also learned a few words of Italian, French, German, Spanish, Finnish and Russian.

Once a Cheerleader, Always a Cheerleader. Perhaps one of my  greatest gifts is encouraging people to do their best and cheering them on along the way. When I was in second grade, I said I wanted to be a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader, and later went on to become one in grade school and high school. cheer-3

I Love to Write…A lot. I started keeping a journal in high school and is still a big part of my life. I am always amazed at the magic of writing. I also wrote a lot of letters, really, really long letters with my best friend in high school (we would compete to see who could write the longest one), and with a pen pal in California whom I’m still friends with to this day.

Give Me Paper & Pens. Okay, so this isn’t a surprise seeing how much I love to write. But I have an odd kind of fetish for paper and pens. I have a paper collection that I’ve kept for years that I know I will never use. I simply just love the texture of paper.

Mythology, Sci-Fi & Hindu Deities Fascinate me. My favorite movies of all time are “Clash of the Titans,” and “Flash Gordon.” Greek mythology, deities like Hanuman, Shiva and Shakti and working with archetypes are inspiring to me because of the stories they tell and how they highlight our human nature. I will never tire of the killing of Medusa.

Music Makes My World Go Around. Music was my saving grace growing up, and I would feel something was missing if I didn’t listen to music every day. It all started with Queen, Pink Floyd, Men at Work, DEVO, AC/DC, Billy Joel, and the Sound of Music. (Side note: I played the part of a nun in “The Sound of Music,” at the local playhouse).

Social Butterfly. Hermit Crab. I am very social and love talking and going to parties, gatherings, spending time with friends & family, and getting to know people. That said, sometimes I am a total hermit and often prefer my own company and alone time.

The Messiest Neat Freak You’ll Ever Meet. Yes, I am a walking contradiction. I am very neat and organized but at the same time, I am like a tornado when I work and travel. Everything just explodes around me and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Organized chaos liberates me.
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I’m a Nomad. Okay, Maybe More Like a Gypsy.  Originally from the small town of Erie, PA, I’ve lived in too many actual dwellings to count, but my list of cities include, Dallas & Austin, Texas (Go Longhorns!), NYC, Boston, San Francisco, Copenhagen, Denmark, and now back State-side in lovely San Diego.

Tea is My Drink. I love tea. Especially herbal tea, and green & white tea, but lately I’ve been venturing out and exploring Oolong and Pu-erh, pronounce “poo-er”. I have a tea collection and love making infusions. My latest is nettle, fennel seeds and passionflower.

The Silly One. I like to laugh and can find humor in just about anything.

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Dreams Are the Key to Everything. I’ve been a vivid dreamer for as long as I can remember and have learned various ways of interpreting and and working with my dreams. I truly believe it is one of the most powerful healing tools there is, and in fact, is the one of the oldest healing methods dating back to Greek & Roman antiquity.

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Nature is my Drug. I would definitely say being in nature is my drug of choice. I was gifted with an appreciation for nature from my father and it has stayed with me. I especially love living near water and have done so most of my life.

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Walk it Off. I developed the habit of regular walking, usually an average of 2-3 miles a few times week several years ago and now it’s a habit. San Diego has ample opportunity for walking on hiking trails, and of course the ocean. Mother Pacific has taken very good care of me.

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Yoga Forever. My other mainstay is yoga. I’ve been practicing for about 10 years and went through a one-month residential training in Ibiza, Spain, with five other brave and incredibly strong woman. My practice is always changing, on and off the mat.

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I’m Just a Girl in a Boy’s World. I am the only girl of five children. I was surrounded by boys growing up and I guess that explains a lot of my boy-ish tendencies, and why I am not your average chick!

I Can Take a Licking &  Keep on Ticking. Broke my collar bone playing tug-of-war with my brothers (they thought it would be funny to let go), pulled my hamstring doing a split (in front of the entire school when I was 13), fell off a 4-wheeler not wearing a helmet, hurt my knee skiing down a double black diamond ski slope, and hurt my ankle doing a handstand. Still going!

 

Learning to Be My Own Best Friend. Nothing like dating yourself, and really getting to know that person in the mirror. I just took myself on vacation and had an amazing adventure.

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When in Rome. I’ve had pizza in Pisa (I know it’s not from there, I just like how it sounds), where we had to spend the night because we didn’t get to the parking lot in time, and Parmesan cheese in Parma. I’ve had the world’s best gelato (supposedly) in San Gigmignano, seen lavender fields in Provence and walked among a sunflower field in France.

Smile Bright. One of the most common complements I get is about my smile. I guess it’s a good one.

Foodie till The End. I am married to a chef, so I have an appreciation for good food. I also was fortunate to be an author of a “Fodor’s” guidebook to Copenhagen and sample many of the finest restaurants there. Yes, I’m spoiled.

PR is/was My Jam. I love to write, but I decided to go into public relations because I liked the diversity of the job. One of my more recent projects was helping Tokyo during the Olympic Bidding Committee meetings in Copenhagen.

Björk  Made Me Do it. I am a huge fan of the singer Björk and it is because of her that my life’s trajectory took me to Scandinavia. I have followed her work throughout my life and continue to be amazed at her creativity and the way she innovates and pushes boundaries.

Story Teller Through and Through. I love telling stories (if you haven’t figured that out by now), and I especially like to tell them through photographs.

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Jack of All Trades Master of None. I love to read and learn new things and have an extensive library, mostly of non-fiction books. I know a little about a lot and like paper, I have a certain affinity for the feeling of a book in my hands.

Björk Album Released…and New Dreamy Swedish Music

I’ve always loved Scandinavian music. In fact, my infatuation with the Icelandic singer, Björk is what led me to travel to and explore the region and eventually settle there for a while. Big news from Björk is that she’s released her new album, Vulnicura, two weeks early on itunes.

The new album release coincides with a new exhibit at the MoMA in NYC starting March 8 that will chronicle her work “from more than 20 years of the artist’s daring and adventurous projects and her seven full-length albums.”

Another country that produces some great music and has had a long reputation of doing so – think ABBA, Ace of Base, Roxette – has an upcoming artist that’s gotten the attention to Flavorwire. The group, The Amazings’ third album Picture You will be released in February and the album’s single sounds a lot like the dreamy, soft, melodic-type music of other great Swedish bands like Kent.

Have a listen! Tak og Njuta (thanks and enjoy!)

Hugh’s Scandinavian Adventure

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall from the UK’s River Cottage has created a wonderful documentary on Denmark featuring New Nordic food, Danish architecture and sustainability, and the all-important concept of Danish “hygge.” It’s in English, and there are additional episodes on Norway & Sweden as he uncovers what all the hype is about with the recent phenomenon of “Scanimania” led by popularity of crime novels and TV programs including “Nordic Noir” and “The Killing.” Click on the link to watch.

http://www.dr.dk/tv/se/hugh-i-skandinavien/hugh-i-skandinavien-2-3

NYT: New Nordic in the Twin Cities

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Creamed peas on rye toast from Haute Dish 

The New York Times features a number of *new* New Nordic culinary initiatives popping up in the Twin Cities.

Read the article here: A Return to Nordic Roots

The Bachelor Farmer is not the only evidence that cooks in the Twin Cities are suddenly embracing Nordic heritage. A glossy new wing of the American Swedish Institute opened in July, with a cafe called Fika that serves top-quality Swedish treats like a smorgas (open sandwich) made from local ingredients, bakes its own sourdough rye bread daily and serves powerful coffee with kladdkaka (sticky chocolate cake) and thumbprint cookies, crusted with chopped almonds and filled with gooseberry, lingonberry or raspberry jam. Izzy’s, a playful, artisanal ice cream shop in St. Paul, has a flavor called Swedish Garden Party: elderflower ice cream with raspberry swirl and crumbled gingersnap cookies. At Haute Dish, a kitschy spot for reworked Midwestern classics, the chef Landon Schoenefeld has transformed the usual horseradish-spiked Scandinavian steak tartare into a composition of hot brioche toast, runny egg yolk, chilled raw beef and a shot of bloody mary.”

Copenhagen “Most Liveable City”

Monocle chooses Copenhagen as “most liveable city.” 

“World-conquering urban quality of life requires the trickiest of balancing acts between progress and preservation, stimulation and security, global and local. Perfection is unobtainable but Copenhagen is striking one of the best deals right now.” -Monocle Magazine 

See video featuring Copenhagen here: http://monocle.com/film/affairs/most-liveable-city-copenhagen/

Sweet Scandinavian Summer

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Summer Scandinavian dessert prepared by Restaurant Mielcke & Hurtigkarl in Copenhagen

When I lived in Denmark, I would often see rhubarb growing in gardens and wild in open spaces. Around mid-summer when in season, stalks of rhubarb would start to appear in grocery stores and be presented in delectable dessert dishes. Many are familiar with mixing rhubarb with strawberries and nowhere in the world have I tasted better strawberries than in the Nordics. Norway is especially famed for their amazing berries due to the long growing season helping to bring out the natural sugars and tartness. Nordic berries are usually much smaller than is typical but they sure do pack a punch. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try a recipe with just rhubarb, Denmark.dk has published a recipe for rhubarb and merengue that looks pretty tasty.

Another Scandinavian favorite is a simple tangy dessert called koldskål a “cold bowl” filled with buttermilk mixed with eggs, sugar, cream and vanilla and other dairy products such as yogurt or milk. The dish is topped with little vanilla wafers (like Nilla wafers) called “kammerjunkers” and is eaten like a cold dessert soup.

Then, finally, there is Rød Grød Med Fløde  or “red porridge with cream,” the most famous one-liner that Danes LOVE to ask foreigners to repeat because it’s so difficult to pronounce. If I had a dollar for every time a Dane asked me to say these words, well, you know the rest. As a dessert dish however, it’s quite smooth and easy to go down. Again, it mixes berries with dairy — strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, cream and/or milk.

Give these (easy to make) summer treats  a try, and take your taste buds for a sweet (and sour) & sublime Scandinavian spin!