This blue marble

– and yet it spins


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Finding the South Bank

CPH-3The riverside, Borough markets, and all the sights – how come I have never in my years of commute discovered the South Bank of London? Save for targeted visits to the Shakespeare Globe, the London Eye and the Oxo Tower restaurant, I now know I have missed out on much exploration! There is the Belfast ship, Sea Life, the food scene, boutiques, and much more to discover – but when?

Fortunately there was time to get started: a food tour of the Borough Markets was a splendid dig into all that unhealthy deliciousness that twist my belly up into a knot the next day: fish and chips, cheese platters, hipster cocktails, sticky toffee pudding, and the most magnificent Argentinian empanadas. Yum. If only I were carrying digestive enzymes on this trip.

(London, United Kingdom; February 2020)


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New views

CPH-4After one week’s intensive writing, spiced up by a proper common cold, I extracted myself from my quarters long enough to go for a walk. Without the ultimate purpose of either obtaining groceries or visiting an apartment up for rent, which had been my only outdoors activities in Copenhagen sofar.

What luxury. Even if the Nordhavn quays were windy. And so I followed my sister’s advice and continued the luxury with an insanely expensive lunch high in restaurant Silo. Up here above the harbor I found business people having open sandwiches and aquavit for lunch, on a working day. Well then, I enjoyed two glasses of Provence rosé and the tales of Mary Kingsley in West Africa. Why not, on a Thursday?

(Copenhagen, Denmark; January 2020)

 


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In Copenhagen, confused and concerned

CPH-1Lovely ones, my new slow life has begun. In Copenhagen. For now. After two weeks in a lovely apartment in Østerbro I found myself in a furnished, bright little place in Nørrebro, with a view over the ring of lakes that divide the North half of town.

Instead of weekly travels to London and criss-cross the Nordics I now find myself on a monthly travel schedule to Belgium, plus a tour of a handful other European countries this spring (provided I can avoid coronavirus hotspots). Instead of crazy 8-9 hour workdays I find myself deeply entrenched in one project for 6-7 hours a day. Instead of dragging myself out for a run or onto the yoga mat at 5 pm I find myself running around the lakes mid-afternoon, before going back to work with more energy.

It all sounds wonderful, right? In truth this is a tough training in how to live with uncertainty: where will I live after May 1st? Where will I work next year? What if I can’t find a job if I really like? What if nobody will like me well enough to hire me? Is there a future for the relationship I’m in, now that I had to move out? What if I just can’t muster the energy to work all this out?

And the biggest question of all: I will turn 40 this year. How will I set myself up for success for the next 10 years, including healthy aging? CPH-2(Copenhagen, Denmark; January 2020)


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Silence

Devon-2Life is in a flux again, and how hard it was to just be present in silence for a long weekend in the Devon countryside. Instead I found myself thinking of the future, the past, or an alternative present. When work-hour sign-up was open I signed up for garden duty, to get outside. And when garden duty started I signed up to shovel compost, so I would be worn out by the time daily meditation sessions would begin.

The young man assigned to the same task quit after one day. So for an hour it was just me, a wheelbarrow, a spade, the compost, and a hungry robin fluttering around my wheelbarrow, taking good chances of being covered in muck before breakfast was done.

And then, then it was silence in sitting, and silence in walking. And some reflective words every night. And so much silent kindness, from fellow retreaters of all ages. It is what impresses on me most deeply each time I retreat into silence: an expression of kindness needs no words.(Devon, United Kingdom; December 2019)


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Going West

Devon-3Last time I was on the train to Cornwall it hit a tree (on the tracks, off the tracks, nobody knows). We had to continue the journey further by cab as the buses requested to pick us stranded passengers up were all busy doing school rides. A mother needing to breastfeed her baby wanted to hijack the cab we called because breastfeeding ”is a medical emergency”. Here’s to a less eventful journey this time around.

(London, United Kingdom; November 2019)


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Slow life soon

sunsetAnother sunset, above some kind of continent or sea. I forget which one. After 8 busy years in business it is time to wind down – at least for a short while. This was not a luxury choice I made, but rather something I was forced to face due to changed work circumstances. Instead of having my headcount moved to London I was told, last-minute, that the transfer would not happen. Instead of stepping into a slightly tweaked role I was told I would need to find a new work-home.

The upside: my tri-weekly visits to London will not become weekly commutes. The downside: I have no idea what I will do after the summer.

But first, it’s time to take on a new and exciting 5-month pan-European assignment. And most immediately: it’s time to take 1.5 months off before beginning anything new.

In a sense this will be a luxury break. I will have time to get back to the drawing board and paint the picture of what the next 10 successful life-years should look like. Who do I want to be when I turn 50? Where do I want to be on my life journey, and where, geographically? What skills do I want to have acquired? What impact would I like to have made, on this planet and the people on it?

(Vejle, November 2019)


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Sleep stories

There is something soothing about focusing one’s attention on a single voice which calmly and contentedly goes on about unimportant but poetic details. Like fuzzy, friendly bumblebees visiting a strawberry planting, or a base guitarist in a rock band who discovered that flowers were his true calling and opened a flower shop. I discovered the Headspace Sleepcasts when they were launched and have loved them since.

Like someone said, I, too, would love to listen to the Night Town sleepcast lady read a phone book. Who is she? Also the narrator of Rainday Antiques and Slow Train seems to have friends. He does sound a little like Sir David Attenborough. Wish it was less of a mystery!

(Copenhagen, Denmark; February 2020)


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Basque food

Biarritz-7I know I complained endlessly about the (endless) pintxos in San Sebastián earlier this year. But honestly, the other kind of Basque food is really quite delicious and staying strictly vegetarian is a challenge I never even attempt. Hence, the lovely squid in pepper and herbs ended up being perfect nourishment, along with a Provençal dry rosé and some fresh greens with vinaigrette.

The tables at the Biarritz casino beachfront restaurant are big enough for a laptop and some tea, I discovered. And nobody seemed to mind me clomping in every day in wet wellies and waterproof gear just to eat and write for hours on end.Biarritz-3(Biarritz, France; November 2019)


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My happy place for headspace

Biarritz-1Headspace. I swear it was one of my favorite words way before the eponymous app (which I also love). But boy does Biarritz in November give headspace. Possibly partly because I cannot think straight when the wind puffs up my windbreaker hood, blowing around my ears anyway.

In the middle of last-quarter work stress I took a long weekend, just for myself. Going from one regional airport to another out-of-season was half a day’s work: Billund to Paris CDG, bus to Paris Orly, and then plane hop to Biarritz airport. The return only involved a layover in Amsterdam, but a lot of walking. But as I peeked out of my hotel room balcony, past the church and out to sea I was happy to have made a journey to clear my head.

Three days in stormy Biarritz alone, a laptop to write on, and walks on the beach when a break is better is heaven to someone in her late thirties.Biarritz-4(Biarritz, France; November 2019)