Pink Shiny Silk Curtains

When I got married the first house we moved into was a rented house in a cul-de-sac in Coventry. There was one thing I really disliked in that house, and I do mean -really disliked! Imagine if you can, and I will be really impressed if you can, shiny pink silky curtains reminiscent of a puffy ballgown straight out of the 80s. That is what the owner had hung in the master bedroom, and my plan was to definitely get rid of them ASAP. Days turned into weeks, that turned into months, and as long as we lived in that house those curtains never changed. It wasn’t that I suddenly liked them more, and maybe it was lazy, but I never got round to doing anything about them.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the plumbing victory I had recently with the sticky flush, and this weekend I fixed another house thing that could have easily become another pink curtain thing in our lives.

The things that we do not so much like, even find irritating at times, and vow to do something about but get scarily used to them just being there. How many of those things do I keep on ignoring or work around. And in my most philosophical ponderings of the week, what are the pink curtains in my attitudes and personality traits that could do with a replacement or a little adjustment. Something for us all to ponder!

You’ll be happy to know that I do not have any picture evidence of the gloriously ugly curtains. I will leave you with a picture of a ballgown though that will spark your imagination as to why these curtains have made such a lasting impression on me.

Biathlon World Championship

Starting this week feeling a bit of withdrawal symptoms after the last 10 days of the world championship in what I think is one of the most fun sports to watch. Biathlon is such an impressive and tense sport. In this house we all love watching the impressive athletes; after they have skied for a few kilometres with a rifle on their back, they come into the shooting range and whilst their heart is racing and their pulse is high, they shoot at targets that are the size of a golfball 50 meters away. If you miss a target you will have to ski as many penalty loops as targets missed, or sometimes you have three reloads to do, and on a rare occasion it is a minute per miss added to your time. This all means that nothing is really decided to the very end, keeping us all on our toes and making us chew our fingernails until the very end.

Norwegian team who won the mixed relay

Obviously being Norwegian over the last week has been especially fun as the Norwegian biathletes ended up on the top of the medal table with 7 golds, 3 silvers and 4 bronze.

Well done specially to Ingrid Tandrevold who has had a year with health challenges and maybe not the results she wanted and thought she was capable off leading up to the Championship. We cheered so much when she finally got her first individual medal. What a girl -she ended up with 3 medals at the end!

Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold

And then the junior who absolutely bossed it in his first Senior Championship. Cool as a cucumber!

Sturla Holm Laegreid crossing the finishing line after one of his victories.

I am always so impressed with any top sports people. Knowing how hard they work to be where they are. The determination, passion and staying power in these people are something to admire.

So if you have never watched a biathlon race I highly recommend it. (Top tip: start with a Mass start event, or a relay).


This week my musing have been about potential, and realising our abilities. We all know the classic iceberg picture of what you see on top as supposed to the largeness of what lurks underneath the water. In the context of our potential the latter is often used as a picture of our untapped, unexplored potential. Mostly what I have been chewing over this weeks is the fact that psychologists say that most of us seldom use more than 15% of our potential. I think that is Mind-blowing!

If I consider myself included in the phrase ‘most people’, even if I am a little bit above or even below the average, then the untapped potential I am sitting on is quite a lot. What would it look like if we just used another 10% of our potential? I have struggled to even wrap my head around what 100% could look like… as I said: mind-blowing!

An iceberg above and below the water

In the powerful words from one of my favourite films Coach Carter (and yes I know the words are from a poem and that it is well known to have been used by Nelson Mandela)

‘Our deepest fear is NOT that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people the permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.’

PS. If you haven’t seen the film Coach Carter, I strongly recommend you do. Based on a true story, which always is a big win in my books.

Navigating a goal

High on the success of my plumbing the weekend before last, I decided another little niggling thing that needed fixing was the fridge-freezer in our outhouse/utility room. The way they open needed reversing, and quickly using my friend Youtube I realised there was a few videos there that could be used as a teacher. So I decided that fixing the doors was my next goal as Silje the ‘handyman’. Not all superheroes wear capes and all that….

Saturday full off enthusiasm I went outside and tidied away what was in my way (mainly bikes), emptied the content of the fridge-freezer into coolbags, and arranged a variety off tools that could be helpful aiding me in completing my goal. Quickly I realised that most video tutorials was only showing the reversal of ‘basic’ fridge doors, and not blowing my own trumpet or anything, if our spare fridge had only been such a model, this post will have been very different. Instead I realised that our American kind with lots of electrics was not such an easy task to take on. After lots of googling and trying to find the right kind of help for the same kind of model, electrics and door hinges, I was bombarded with warning messages. In short it was saying that if you try this yourself and it doesn’t work you won’t be covered for any parts etc that are damaged. More and more I was starting to think that this was impossible for a very basic diy’er like myself. The obstacle to achieve the goal suddenly seemed too big, it became an impossible task. I started capitulating to the fact that this would be a different Saturday feeling to last weeks high of achieving something great before lunchtime. Whilst I restocked the fridge and freezer I was thinking about the reason the door opening that way was such a little irritation to us all, and realised that maybe if I rearranged the utility room itself it wouldn’t be such a big deal. And so I decided that by clearing the space specially for the new bikes we have accumulated since Christmas, the squeeze to get a new milk out might not need to be such a big hassle. Though it took me a lot longer, and my husband has to find a space in the loft for his golfclubs, I still managed to achieve the ultimate; making the space we have useful and not an irritation.

Did I achieve my goal?! Well no, because the doors are still opening the same way, but actually YES I did because now it doesn’t matter anymore. Ask yourself why your goal is important to you, and what does success look like when you accomplish this? Don’t be afraid to stop and rethink a goal, and even sometimes along the way make a little (or large) tweak. And never give up if it matters to you no matter the obstacles! There might just be another way!

Silje -the successful tidy-up’erer of stuff to make space useful, less successful fridge door reverser’er.

Silje the plumber

Someone wise once said ‘Never stop learning because life never stops teaching’.

Over the last couple of months we have had a toilet flush that keeps on flushing until you press the button again. It is one of those things that is not a big problem so it has been left in the important but not urgent pile of our to-do lists. Also I know absolutely nothing about plumbing. But having left it for this long I made a weekend goal to research and find out if I could attempt to fix the problem myself. Saturday morning I read a bit and watched a very cheesy Youtube video made by a plumber and his wife, with scripted questions and very limited acting skills. But they were the teachers I never knew I needed. You really can find help for almost anything on Youtube these days. Gone is the days where the only way to learn something new was by buying a book that had the words ‘…for dummies’ in the title.

I turned off the water, pulled apart the cistern and I might have even put on my widest joggers in case a builders bum really is an important part of any building solutions -I haven’t read Plumbing for dummies, so didn’t want to jinx anything in case that is a chapter in the book.

By 10am on Saturday morning I had completed my goal, and fixed the flush. I felt SO good about my achievement, SO good that I just had to tell you all as my family had enough of my satisfied smirk and plumbing lessons by lunchtime Saturday.

So when life teaches you things make sure you are tuned into learning, for all other things there is YouTube.

Silje -a goal setter and sometimes a plumber

Man’s search for meaning

So it’s been a little while since I last put down my thoughts on paper (the webform of a notebook -a blog). Sometimes there is so much going on that it is hard to know where to start with putting words on what is happening.

We had a great Christmas, even though it was different to what most people were planning for after the UK prime minister Boris and his gang had another loft conversion added to their covid pyramid -tier 4. New years eve all over the world we celebrated the end to a difficult year, only for us here in the UK to be met by another national lockdown. This means in our house the children are all doing school from home, and we are still working for home. Basically we are spending a lot of time together in the same space. I keep on being reminded how incredibly lucky I am though as we get on so well as a family.

Whilst the whole world is still fighting a pandemic, part of our world is and has also been going through massive political chaos. The US changing the presidency after what can only be described as a child tantrum of epic proportion after the election in November from the now gone president. With Brexit and all that is going on in this country, I think I started to feel so tired and drained by it all. Leadership shouldn’t be about telling half truths or lying, or putting others down to get to the top yourself. How and who runs our countries are so important. Leadership and character is SO important.

With all this churning away in my mind, it can all feel so big and daunting. I did have some more thinking time because I had a new prosthetic leg made before Christmas that really didn’t work out well and made me have to have a lot of leg-off time. So I started listening again to one of my favourite books ‘Man’s search for meaning’, knowing that I needed to hear Viktor Frankl’s story again, and his powerful words about the last human freedom that can never be taken away from you: CHOOSING YOUR ATTITUDE IN ANY GIVEN SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES.

It is not worth using so much mental energy on the things you cannot control, instead look to the things you can do something about. Set some positive goals that excites and brings out the best in you. So I am back to writing and blogging, I am also back walking on my ‘old’ prosthetic, though revision surgery will be happening sometime this year. I have got a new bike and am enjoying having bike rides with my youngest son. Me and my 15 year old son is loving cooking (and the whole family loves eating) some epic curries with Al’s kitchen youtube channel.

So with all that is going on that we cannot do anything about, let’s focus on what we can do. All the best to you all!

Advent time

It’s December! First candle from our advent candlestick was lit on Sunday, and the kids are happily partaking in the traditional countdown to Christmas by having to eat a chocolate everyday.

Yesterday I was in a zoom meeting with some awesome work colleagues and friends. We were talking about our highlights from the previous month, progress and victories, and goals reached. One of the team member was telling us about a development programme he has found very useful, and he mentioned something that stuck with me and has made me think. The programme, as I understood it, asks you to take an aspect from your life (eg. family, mental health, social, physical health) and define what you believe about this. Once you have defined what is important to you about that, it then follows on by asking you ‘what are you doing about that today?’ As I sat pondering this and the Christmas carols where playing in the background, my eyes rested on our advent candlestick/wreath. Not sure how big a part of Christmas this is for people in England (apart from Churches), but advent and it’s meaning is the basis of many a song we Norwegians do, specially in schools. Just as for a lot of people in this country you get a real sense of Christmas when you hear children sing ‘Away in a manger’, for me and many fellow Norwegians it comes with the advent candles being lit, and the accompanying words that goes with that.

Our advent candlestick

Each candle that gets lit in the countdown to Christmas represent one important part of the Christmas message, and life in general. Joy, love, hope and peace!

And as I sat there I thought: what do I believe about this and what about this is important to me. How do I define what I believe about joy? Is it adventures, laughter and fun, or is it a sense of inner satisfaction and a state of happiness. What do I believe about peace? Off course I want a world without war, but what about justice and fighting for equality, and how does ‘peace of mind’ fit into all of this? What am I hoping for, stretching towards, what do I really desire to come to past? What about love? Is it just about my affections or is it something bigger or deeper then that?

Once how this matters to me is defined, then the killer question kicks in. What am I doing today about this?

My advent challenge to you is to take these four words: Joy, Hope, Peace and Love, and define what they really mean to you.


To most people who know me (and maybe even those who don’t) it is no secret that I do love Christmas. I love the celebrations and precious time with family off course, but one of my favourite things is how cosy and atmospheric the house feels this time of the year. Traditions made over the years as a family is so special, from gingerbread house making and all the other baking, hanging up all the decorations together that we have collected over the years, the same songs that fills the house and the old cards the kids have made over the years that still gets put on display. Some traditions are cultural off course. Might be deported for saying this, but turkey really isn’t my favourite. And the fake Christmas trees, surprise surprise, not my cup of tea. Considering that the tree gets put up in this country at the beginning of the Christmas period (many people have already done it this year to brighten up the last bit of a bit of a bleak year), I guess the fake tree became a must. Nothing worse then a sad looking droopy tree when the big day comes around. When I was younger the Norwegian tradition is to get the tree in on Little Christmas eve (23rd of December). We would then go to bed and my dad would decorate it with the lights, baubles, glitter, cotton (as snow) and Norwegian flags. When we woke on Christmas eve (which is the day we celebrate) the house had been transformed into a Christmas wonderland.

Anyway I am digressing, because this wasn’t meant to be a post about all things Christmassy. We will though, according to our Howes family traditions get the house all dressed up this weekend ready for 1st of December. This post was more me pondering the concept of traditions, and how strongly you can be invested in them, or not. Obviously this time of year we see a lot of this around. Traditions contributes to a sense of belonging and can also give a lot of comfort. So this year as our flights back home to Norway got cancelled I thought about the things I would miss by not being able to go home, but I also thought a lot about the things we do here in our family home that brings us together and that we appreciate. In a moment of wanting to make our home even more Christmassy, I did an impulse shop. I bought us all Christmas duvet covers, stylish I thought. But for some adding to traditions, tweaking and changing them up, is not as welcomed as you might expect. I am pretty sure my boys definitely will not carry on this new tradition.

My Christmas duvet on the bed

Anyway – I LOVE my new Christmas duvet cover, and maybe if I had bought the ‘Mickey and Minnie kissing under the mistletoe’ one for the boys they would be more into it.

Be inspired

I love a film based on a true story, or reading about real people and their real experiences. I think there is something really inspiring about learning about other peoples lives, struggles, fights and adventures. At the moment we are in the process of updating the youth program, Making of a Champion, to include a few more British examples. The world out there are full of people who overcomes challenges, who follows their dreams, put in the hours and work hard, those who are determined and dedicated to their goals and purposes. Sometimes you might, like I did this week, stumble upon someone you haven’t heard of, someone who has worked hard to achieve and has shown great dedication to others, and who has changed many lives by what they are doing. This week I read about a lady called Bushra Nasir, the first female Muslim headteacher in the UK. Her story is fascinating, her life has made a big difference to so many children and to a community. She is an inspiration of dedication and to the power of being role models who inspire aspiration. As I watched interviews and read her story, I found my self pondering how many there are out there working tirelessly for a better world that I have never heard of. So my challenge to myself, and to you, is find someone who has done great things who you have not heard of yet. Let them inspire you; learn from their passions, dreams, hard work and dedication. Because the things that inspires you also teaches you something about yourself too.

PS. I am continuing to work on putting the enjoyable into Lockdown 2.0 and so we did a big batch of ‘kanel boller’ this weekend. It is not just the house smelling of fresh baking and cinnamon that is enjoyable, the family LOVES eating them too.

Character matters

It is fair to say that the news for the last week has been mostly covering the US election and the results. It was a few tense days before they named Biden the next president, though he still have to wait for the sitting president to get over his ‘little tantrums’ and graciously step aside admitting he lost. I have to say one thing that really made me laugh a lot was Trumps gang doing a press conference outside a garden centre in Philadelphia after Trump had tweeted announcing a big press conference at the Four season. The famous Four season hotel, who said it wasn’t happening at their premises, quickly got changed to Four seasons Total landscaping, a garden centre situated between a crematorium and an adult erotic book shop. Off course no one is admitting to this being the case of someone messing up a booking, but as someone said ‘I can write jokes for 800 years and I’d never think of something funnier.’ I absolutely agree!

Anyway, funny story aside, the thing that really spoke to me was the comment made by CNN’s news commentator Van Jones after Biden was declared the winner of this election. ‘It is easier to be a parent this morning. It is easier to tell your kids ‘Character matters. It matters. Telling the truth matters. Being a good person matters‘!

I LOVE this! May the truth, what’s right, noble, pure, lovely and praiseworthy, be what we admire and find in our leaders, and work for in ourselves too. Here’s to what matters! Here’s to the hope!