Life

Last Week

July 27, 2015

Last week has been quite a crazy ride for me, you guys. Before I got back from Madrid, I knew I wanted to gain new experiences when I got back to Bergen. I knew I needed to experience a new job—a job in a more social setting where I could meet all kinds of people, preferably tourists. What was better than working in a restaurant or hotel lobby by Bergen’s infamous Bryggen, I thought.

I knew working at a restaurant or hotel lobby would be a great personal challenge to me. I’ve just fallen in love with constantly pushing myself out of my comfort zone, trying to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. And so far, that mindset has served me very well.

To make an extremely long story short, my last week looked like this: Monday, distribution of CVs. Tuesday, interview at a restaurant. Wednesday to Friday, three consecutive days of trial at the restaurant. Saturday and Sunday, off.

If you’ve read my recent posts, I’ve briefly mentioned the personal project I’m undertaking. Working at a restaurant and being in the city center almost every day help me a great deal with the said project. I see my work as a means to socialize, first and foremost, which is key to my project’s success. And on the first day, I realized how much of a workout it is! And then, of course, I earn by it, which sustains my personal project.

I can’t remember when I was last so excited about life, you guys! The project I’m working on feels like a secret I’m dying to share with you all. Its vision goes beyond generating income. What drives me to see this project through is the one most important lesson Madrid taught me—community and connection. Life is all about people.

The challenge to it is that I don’t have the means to outsource any part of it. Juggling this project with my new job at the restaurant, while spending as much quality time with my family when they’re around, is not an easy task. But although it takes its time, my vision for the project only gets more sharp and focused. And it excites me so!

I have another long crazy week ahead of me, and I know it’s going to be better than the last one. We have an uncle visiting from Sweden this week, and I can’t wait to show him around the few gems of places I’ve been fortunate to have discovered in the city since I got back. I wish you all a wonderful week. ♥︎

Bergen, Life

Golta

July 18, 2015

I haven’t shaken off the Madrid fever, you guys!

I arrived three days ago. Two days ago, I created a Couchsurfing event for the next day (yesterday) to walk up Fløyen. Since it was created just a day before the event, I really didn’t expect anyone to show up. Two people had given me notice they wouldn’t be joining me, however, which was better than not getting any notice at all. But I went up Fløyen anyway! In fact, I brisk-walked it up and made it in half an hour. While I was waiting in line for the toilets up top, I checked my phone and got an invitation to join a Couchsurfer host with his two guests to go grilling in Golta! I had thirty minutes to get down again, so I just skipped peeing and ran down!

I honestly didn’t believe what I was doing. I didn’t recognize myself anymore. I was just so hungry to continue meeting people that I didn’t give a care in the world what I was doing! I’ve just become so hungry for experiencing more and meeting more people. While running down, trying my hardest not to fall flat on my face, I kept telling myself: This is what makes me come alive.

And then fast-forward to Sotra, where Golta is, we parked and started walking to the coast.

Once we had gotten past the meadows and made it high enough to see the coast, I just couldn’t believe my eyes, you guys. It was just magical. It was hard to see the horizon line; where the sea and sky separated. It was blurred beautifully together that it seemed like the ground was floating in the sky.

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Pastels of pinks and blues painted our view. There was a calm in the air and we could hear the faint sound of boat engines in the distance.

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It was quite a butt-and-leg workout climbing up and down just to get where we eventually settled for a grill. I was with a Lithuanian engineer who works in Bergen, and his guests, a Spanish couple who had been in Bergen for only two days. Before we drove to Golta, we passed by a grocery store and I decided they’d have to try the typical grill sausages with Idun ketchup and deep-fried onion (sprøstekt løk) on top!

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We were quite starved and munched on marshmallows while waiting for the grill to settle. It’s quite an experience being gathered with people you don’t know—spontaneously at that. And what must they have thought of me? Just saying yes to going with them out of the blue? Well the answer is simple: They were open to it, and that’s all that counts. They were happy to have me, and that was good enough for me.

While we sat and ate we talked about the difference of lifestyles between Spain and Norway. About how the Spanish live for the moment, and how Norwegians lean heavily on stability. Wherever one chooses to settle relies entirely upon one’s preference, which is heavily influenced by how and where s/he was raised. That’s how I see it anyway.

How is it coming back to Bergen after a month of being surrounded by such affectionate Spanish? How is it coming back to the gloom and rain after being soaked in heat and brightness? Maybe it takes a while to get into the hang of “real life” after such an amazing experience in Madrid, but I really want to chase that feeling of truly living. I’ve had a taste of it, and now, it’s all I crave.

On a lighter note, after we ate, they went down to fish while I stayed behind and walked around to snap photos. I thought it would be nice listening to Canon in D by Pachelbel while I sat by myself, but they were right—the sound of the waves crashing into the rocks was enough music. ♥

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Inspiration, Life

My Month in Madrid

July 18, 2015

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It was a longing for something more and something bigger that compelled me to spend a whole month by myself in Madrid. I can honestly say it was the best investment I have ever made in myself. At first, I thought it was selfish of me to experience something amazing without sharing it with a loved one, but I eventually realized that I had to be selfish to be selfless.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” 
— Howard Thurman

That quote resounds in my heart louder than ever. Before Madrid, it was only an inspiration to me. Now, it motivates me to keep on feeling alive. To maintain this feeling of truly living.

As I write, I honestly don’t know if I’ll have the words to express just a taste of how much I’ve grown from my one-month experience. But I must try.

The first days were the hardest for me. I had to confront my loneliness, and it was torturous. I’m quite an introvert, finding it scary meeting and talking to strangers. But on just my third day, I realized that what I truly needed was to be surrounded by people. So I looked up Madrid events online and just pushed myself out of my comfort zone and messaged the host right away and said I’d come so that I wouldn’t back down. And that changed the rest of my trip for me.

When I walked up to the group of travelers who were gathered to meet other strangers, my heart was racing and my hands were cold and sweaty. I was so relieved that instead of doing hand shakes in Spain, they do kisses on both cheeks: I didn’t have to make hand contact with anyone, which would reveal how nervous I really was. But after introductions and hearing myself speak, I realized I wasn’t as scared to meet strangers as I had made up in my head to be. And that was just the first wall that slowly broke down, day after day.

Meeting all kinds of people—young and old, locals, au-pairs and tourists, introverts and extroverts, unsettled and settled—opened up my eyes to who I truly was. It became clearer to me what I liked and what I didn’t like, in others, in life and more importantly, in myself. And it gave me a clearer picture of what I truly wanted in life; the kind of lifestyle I craved, the kind of person I wanted to be, the kind of people I want to be surrounded by. In short, I started to finally find myself. It inspired me so much.

Most people, I met only once. Because I got to know myself more, I knew what kind of people I didn’t want to meet again, and instead freed up time to those I found were worth my attention and effort. Those who were more or less in line with my way of thinking. And that was empowering to me; being able to say no to what I didn’t like and didn’t want more of. I gained so much self-confidence in the process.

I also eventually realized how blessed I was to be able to live in Norway and earn and save up while I stay at my parents’. It compelled me to make the biggest step towards a personal project I’m currently undertaking. It was spending time away from what had become my home that made me realize how much of an opportunity lay in front of my eyes. But I hadn’t realized the treasure in front of me because I was too self-absorbed in my personal issues and dramas.

I spent a few days building the foundation of my idea for the said personal project I felt compelled to see through. Then the rest of my time was spent continuing to experience all that Madrid had to offer me: Its food, its wine, its energy, its art, and most importantly, its people.

And the days only got better and better.

It was having the attitude of just saying yes to everything that was the key to my amazing experience. One of the best experiences I had was being forced to face my fear of heights. I had asked someone who became a really good friend of mine to take me hiking outside of Madrid. He had organized a trip with two others, and little did we know we’d go to Aventura Amazonia, an adventure park with challenges to move from tree to tree with varying balancing and cling-on challenges—one to at least seven meters above ground! 

I know it’s not a big deal to most people, but you have to understand that by just watching a video of someone bungee jumping would completely soak my palms! So although we were a hundred percent secure from falling by wearing tactical rappelling gear, I experienced too many moments of shaky legs and feeling as if I was going to faint! But that feeling was so empowering, realizing how fear is just all in our head. And after a while, I found myself quite enjoying the thrill.

I had never in a million years imagined I’d be able to do something like that. But just having a yes attitude and just going for it regardless of the intense fear pulsing through me, was what helped me to somehow overcome the psychological barrier I had set up for myself. And it was clearer to me more than ever how much potential we all have inside of us to do things we once thought impossible.

The mind is incredible like that. There I was thinking I’d only overcome certain challenges during my month in Madrid. Little did I know I’d face my fear of heights as well! 

The most beautiful thing I experienced was realizing how well-accepted I was to most of the people I met. It was empowering to realize that when I was one hundred percent transparent about who I truly was—without withholding my opinions, my taste, my preferences, my knowledge, my values and my beliefs—I was very much accepted. Don’t think for one second I haven’t felt accepted by my loved ones. I have, but I’d never opened up myself to so many people in such a short time before.

Every new person I met, I observed myself. And it was scary to be honest about certain things about myself at times, but I just did it anyway, and it was motivating to see how they appreciated the honesty in me. And that motivated me to keep on being vulnerable.

When I got back to Bergen three days ago, I felt so high on the collective experience Madrid had offered me. It felt as though my family couldn’t handle the huge change I’d gone through, and how was I going to explain everything to them? Later that evening, I broke down, fearing that I’d go back to my old way of fretting the future and getting up to just get the day over with, trying my best to mask the unhappiness within. But the next morning, I woke up with such a peace in me and I just knew it was impossible for me to go back to that.

Because Madrid had truly changed me forever. ♥