Be harmless, not helpful

When I was younger, say about 11-15/16, school was always finished at 2.15pm, and I’d always race home to put on 7th Heaven on the TV, and if I was fortunate, I’d only miss the few minutes that were before the intro music. That’s where I first came across this phrase, the title of today’s entry – I don’t remember exactly how it was phrased, I think it was used multiple times, but the gist of it was that it is better to be harmless than to try to be helpful. I think there are a few different ways to look at this and interpret this phrase that we need to talk about.

Firstly, I think we have all been on the receiving end of advice that didn’t go as planned; that made things worse instead of better. To be honest, we’ve probably all given such advice as well – the intent was good, we were trying to help, but the end result did not reflect our intentions. Sometimes trying to help can do more harm than good, and thus backing up the statement that you should be harmless instead of helpful.

Now, what do we mean about being harmless, exactly? I think this is something we should talk about, because a lot of people will say something that seems or sounds harmless to them, but it most definitely is not. Take for example people with any kind of anxiety disorder, or that are struggling with depression – many seemingly harmless statements can actually be hurtful to hear if you’re struggling with anxiety or depression. One of the most well discussed things, going off of my own experience and that of friends and family, and what I see on Twitter for example, is to be told to “just calm down”, “cheer up”, or “just breathe”, or that you’re overreacting. Taking an example from my own life recently, I know, rationally, that I am in fact overreacting, but that doesn’t stop the tightening feeling in my throat, the hyperventilating, or the tears, and I most certainly do not need anyone to tell me to calm down or that I’m overreacting. I know that I’m overreacting, that there is no physical threat to me being sat in front of a computer screen looking at a programme I don’t understand, but if it was so easy as to just breathe or “calm down” don’t you think I would do it? (PS: no one was telling me anything of the sort at the time, this is just me stating what would not have been harmless in the moment). Most of the time, I just need a minute, a little while to let my body catch up to what my brain already knows; that I am fine and in no danger at all. But if someone were to tell me things like the ones above, it might have been intended as good, but cause me harm, because it’ll make me feel worthless, like what I am experiencing isn’t valid, and it might make me feel afraid, and lead to me not being able to be myself around them, it might lead to me wanting and doing everything I can to be invisible, to not make them feel uncomfortable because of what is happening to me.

So you see, phrases that are often intended to be helpful, and perceived as harmless by the person uttering them, can sometimes do more harm than they do good. There is a difference, in my opinion, between being harmless, and saying something you think is harmless. And the above things would fall into the latter category. Being harmless, I think, is a much more passive thing, or it can be – we’ll get to other less passive things in a bit. Being harmless, in some cases, doesn’t require the saying of things. It requires being there for the person who needs it. You should be a safe place for people in your life, a place where they know they won’t be judged or told things like “you don’t look like you have (insert mental state)”, a place where they can just be themselves, where they can rant and scream and cry if that’s what they need. Being harmless, to me, means that people can talk to you, that they can cry on your shoulder, that they can lay with you being held and feeling safe, sit next to you, have their hand held or their back stroked, knowing that no physical harm can come to them in that moment, so they do whatever they need to do, while being with someone who will ensure their safety in the process.

But being harmless can also mean other things. Sometimes, it means being the distraction someone sorely needs, the one who makes them laugh, who takes them places to look at weird stuff or walks  around the city or the country side people-watching or cloud-watching, to be the person that takes their mind off of things. This is a slightly less passive form of harmlessness, I think, where you actively try to be what the person needs, regardless of what that actually is. But I also think it’s important to make sure that this is what the person needs at the time, because they might require other things, such as what I wrote in the previous paragraph, or what I’m about to write about in the next paragraph.

Sometimes, being harmless means letting people go. It might not be forever, it might just be for a  few hours or a few days. Being there for someone, being a harmless place, means giving them what they need, and sometimes what people need is space. It might be time off from social media, it might mean them going away for a while, it might mean that you being in their life is causing them harm, and therefore giving them space is the most harmless thing you can do. This is the one that is hardest to do, this is the one that hurts the most. I can openly say that I have been the person causing harm to someone else simply by being a part of their life, and us trying to stay in each others’ lives ended up causing us both harm. Which sucked. This was a person I cared about a lot, and who cared a lot about me too, but in the end we were no good for each other and went our separate ways. It has been years, and I know this was the kind of letting go that meant forever, even if I didn’t want it at the time. I recently looked them up on social media, without them knowing about it, and discovered that, from what they have been posting, things definitely seem better in their life now, and seeing this made me really happy. It made me realise that we did the most harmless thing we could do, which was remove ourselves from each other, and that made things better, for both of us. And now I am at peace, knowing things are good for them, and I am okay with the fact that what they needed was to not have me in their life, because not all people are good for each other.

This, of course, need not always be the case. I have other people in my life in present time where we’ve taken breaks from each other, time to heal, and have ended up reconnecting after a few weeks or months, and at present time we are no longer causing each other harm. And that’s a wonderful thing. We were causing each other harm, we took a break from each other, which at least for me was hard and painful, but reconnecting and looking back on it in retrospect made me glad we did it because we are positive presences in each others’ lives now. Letting go is not always bad. It might hurt at the time, but the most important thing is that people are safe and not in a harmful place, whether that be physical, mental, or emotional. If someone is causing you pain, would you want to keep them in your life? If you’re causing someone harm by being a presence in their life, do you really want to stay, knowing that you’re hurting them? The selfish answer is, I like having them in my life and losing them will cause me pain so I will do everything I can to keep them in my life. The altruistic answer is, I am causing them pain, I need to remove myself from this situation/their life so that I am no longer causing pain to another human being. I completely understand the logic of the first, no one wants to do anything that will cause themselves harm, but I also think it’s important to consider the harm we might be inflicting on others, and make sure we do as little of that as possible – that we need to focus a little bit more on being harmless.

This entry took a very dark turn, but I think it’s important to talk about it. Dark and painful and difficult topics might be the ones that need talking about the most. But it’s important to remember that being harmless can mean many different things, and people require different things from other people around them. On the internet, where I spend a lot of my time, I see people being so mean to other people, and I always see people talking about how they hate other people, and how animals are better because they are never cruel. As humans, we are the only ones who can change how humans behave, starting with ourselves. If I start by being kinder to you and providing you with a harmless space, you can be kinder and a safe space to the next person, who can then do the same to their next person, and so on. It might be a dream scenario in an imaginary world, but piece by piece the castle gets built, you just have to start somewhere (I don’t know if that is an actual metaphor, I may have just made that up…).

What I wanted to say, above anything else in this entry, and if you didn’t read anything else and just skipped to the end for the TL;DR portion, this is it: People cannot cure other people, you just have to be there for them.

I will end this entry with one of my all-time favourite quotes, which I’ve had written on whiteboards and pieces of paper stuck to the wall and book covers and also really wanted to by a jumper with it on, which is from an organisation called To Write Love On Her Arms, and it is this:

twloha

Feel free to leave a comment and we’ll talk down below!

Xoxo

Julie

 

Related entries: Mission First, People Always

 

Advertisements

Regarding Passion

If you’re with someone and you try to change who they are or what they do, I really don’t understand what kind of person you are.

Take for example gaming. I’ve seen tweets from women saying if your man is in his 20s and still plays video games, ditch him. What kind of bullshit is that?!

It’s important to be passionate about SOMETHING. Passion is hot, it’s attractive. I may not personally enjoy or take part in your hobby but please tell me about it, tell me about what interests you, what you’re passionate about, just seeing the sparkle in your eyes makes it worth my time. People so often are told not to bother people with their weird interests and I think that’s complete and utter bullshit.

I once saw an online article where people had described their ideal partner, and there was a man who said his ideal girlfriend had an interest outside of sitting at home watching TV. He didn’t care what it was, he didn’t care if she’d drag him to museum after museum full of what he called “useless crap”, all that mattered was that she was passionate about something.  And I loved reading those words.

I myself am sometimes a very passive person. I can have days where I don’t get out of bed and I watch every video ever posted by one specific YouTuber, or binge a whole season or two of a TV show. And I enjoy it, but it also makes me incredibly bored sometimes. A lot of times. And I feel so… blah. Recently, I’ve been getting notifications from Instagram while scrolling that I am “all caught up on the last 3 days”. How ridiculous is that? I follow 615 profiles on Instagram, and a few hashtags, and I’ve seen everything that has been posted for multiple days in a row! I need to get back into my hobbies, the things I am passionate about.

But what exactly are these things? I do love going to museums and seeing all kinds of weird stuff, and aquariums and zoos and gardens. But often they cost money to get into, and it costs money to get there, and it has to be planned. So what are some free things I can do that I feel passionate about?

It’s been approximately 18-19 months since I started bullet journaling (my first blog post about that is here). I’m now about 1/4 into my second bullet journal, but I’m not enjoying it as much. I stuck with the same notebook brand but a different design, and the paper is completely different; I get ghosting with some pens, but what’s worse is everything that isn’t a ballpoint pen bleeds. I reached out to the company and they kindly sent me a new one, but I didn’t want to waste a whole big beautiful book, so I stuck with it, and the other one is not available to me at the moment. I switched to only using ballpoint pens for a while, which was fine, but I lost inspiration and didn’t want to keep working on my bullet journal much. Over the past two months, September and October, I’ve been part-taking in a weekly theme challenge by someone I know from the Norwegian bullet journal community, where there’s an umbrella-theme for the month and smaller weekly themes within the bigger one for each week. It’s made me want to work on my journal more, and I even went back into using my brush pens for colour a little – at first it was fine, but then the bleeding started up again. For this last week of October, I actually decided to draw on separate paper and glue it into the book to cover the bleeding from the previous week and avoid more bleeding back onto those pages. It’s a bit disheartening… But I have ideas for things I want to do for November and hopefully they won’t be completely disastrous, and will motivate me to keep going!

Another passion of mine is photography. I always used to love getting disposable cameras for the summer when I was a child, and got my own digital camera as a teenager. I took a photography class in school and learned a little more about composition and some simple editing. Then I went on to do a “folk high school” year in Norway, focusing on travel and photography, and I learned lots. I have a lot of equipment and different programs, although they’re on an ancient computer I can really only use to edit pictures and play Mario Kart…

I kind of put photography aside for a while when I was in uni. There were some days that I went out, and I took some pictures with friends using my camera and tripod and knowledge, but not much. I keep repeating that I want to get back into it, but I feel weird walking around with my camera in small towns like the one I’m from. There was one day last summer however, that I decided not to care and took my camera and some music for a walk. I sat for probably 20-30 minutes on the ground taking pictures of a field in the sunset, and I found a lot of trees, attempted some silhouette shots and such, and I really enjoyed both the process of taking these pictures and the editing afterwards.  Maybe I’ll upload a few in another entry soon.

Yesterday, I watched a YouTuberI subscribe to who had done an “ugly location challenge” photoshoot, and it made me really want to try taking pictures of people again. I wish I had friends that (1) lived where I do, and (2) WANTED to be photographed, so that I could ask them to do a photoshoot and get good pictures and not awkward “if I must”-poses (this is NOT a comment towards any of my current friends, if anyone is reading this!), so that I could start building a portfolio. Naturally, friends that volunteer for this will get the pictures from me, as long as they let me use their pictures in my portfolio. Then, a dream of mine would be to be able to post ads and get photography work I’d get paid to do. The more I think about it, the more I want this kind of job. I never studied photography professionally, I don’t have a degree to show for my skills, but if I could build a portfolio I could let my work speak for itself. God, how I want this now…

What are YOU passionate about? Leave a comment and we’ll talk below!

Xoxo

Julie

It’s Okay Not to be Okay

Two years ago today, I woke up at 6am on a Monday, because I had to take a ferry at 7.30 to go from my hometown to the city, and when I got to the city I went straight up to uni, so I didn’t get home to my apartment until the evening. I remember the skirt, boots, and cardigan I was wearing. I remember talking to my friends in uni. I remember music I listened to while travelling. I remember that I forgot to wish my parents a happy 19th wedding anniversary in the morning and had to message them in the afternoon, and felt bad about that. And then I went to sleep.

Fast forward 9 hours, and my mom called me a little before 8am, something she’s never done, so I knew it had to be bad news. She told me my dad had taken the last ferry last night and driven all night, and just arrived at my grandparents’ place, where he and grandpa was gonna have some food and then go to the hospital. My uncle had called the night before, saying “you have to get down here right now. She’s been asking for you today”. I got up and lit a candle. I didn’t go into uni, I didn’t have any lectures, I tried to work from home. Around 4pm, my phone started to ring. I knew it had to be my mom. It wasn’t. My roommate had had a hair appointment and been told the salon had a customers’ night that evening, and asked if I wanted to come with her. I said yes. Less than 15 minutes went by, then my mom called. She told me my grandma had passed away. Dad and my uncle had been there with her. She told me she had to go check on my brother but I could come home again if I wanted to.

I went to customers’ night at the salon. I remember the trousers and jumper and boots and necklace I was wearing. I called one of my friends on my way to meet my roommate. I talked to my roommate, who said to just let her know and we could leave if I wanted to. Another friend of mine returned my call while we were there. We stayed for the duration of the event, and then went home. I didn’t sleep till 2am. I posted about my grandma on Facebook, after seeing my dad and uncle do the same thing. I woke up again at 6. I got a bag and threw in some clothes and things. I was at a shopping centre in town by the time they opened at 9am. I bought a dress. I was by the ferries before 10, and called my mom to say I was on my way home. She came to pick me up in my brother’s car. I wore nothing but sweatpants and hoodies for several days. Mom and I watched a lot of daytime television; renovation shows, gardening shows, the shows where people want to buy a house and then they do it.

My grandma was the first person I’ve lost. I lost a great-grandpa when I was 1 or 2, and a great-grandma when I was 9, but I don’t remember the first and I didn’t have a close relationship with the second. Then I lost my grandma two years ago tomorrow. 9 months later, my grandpa died, too. And three months after that, a year after my grandma passed away, I lost my last remaining great-grandfather, the only one I’ve ever known. I’m okay for the most part, and I can say without problems that I needed an extension to finish my master’s thesis because I lost three family members in 12 months, and that that’s also why that grade is so different from my average. People look at me with expressions of complete and utter shock when I tell them this though. But for me it’s just something that happened to me.

A year ago, I was busy finishing my master’s thesis before the deadline in November. I don’t remember much how I felt a year ago. This year is different because I don’t have anything like that to keep me busy, and I think that’s why I’m feeling it differently this year, almost like I feel it more. The last couple of days, my emotions have been all over the place. But that’s okay. It’s okay to miss people, and it’s okay not to be okay. You just have to let the feelings come, and go, and you’ll return to being okay again, until the next time. That’s just how it is, and that’s okay. Perfectly normal, in fact.

Xoxo

Julie

 

Older posts about this: Circle of Life & Hallelujah – You’re Home.

Content Moments

I have been reading a book about mindfulness lately. I’ve not yet finished it, and I’m only just now reaching the part about how to practice mindfulness in everyday life, but over the past week I’ve been, perhaps subconsciously, focusing on enjoying the moments and trying to make the best out of whatever is happening at the time.

Something really good happened to me at work today. One of my colleagues came back from his break, and as there were no people who had showed up wanting a tour at that time, he asked if I wanted to go for a walk, to which I agreed. We walked out of the café/shop of the museum, through the courtyard, out the front gate, and followed the path that leads up to the building all the way down to the road. Then we walked back up the path to the gate, and turned left and followed the path to the parking lot on the other side of the building, and back down again. We did this twice, then we walked onto the grass and through the garden of trees, admired our workplace from the garden with the trees framing it, and continued walking for a bit. We met some tourists, who said it was like watching a painting moving towards them, as we were both wearing our historic costumes. We spoke to them for a while, and when we saw other tourists approaching the front gate of the castle we began making our way back through the garden and into the building again.

We talked about many different things while walking, past, present, and future, which I won’t bore you with repeating here. What I really wanted to convey, is this amazingly content feeling I had while walking, or perhaps I should use the word strolling, through the grounds of our workplace. I almost felt like we were a part of some 1800s film scene, where two people in beautiful costumes are walking and having some sort of deep, important conversation. Two people who are comfortable being on this stroll together, comfortable talking to each other about the topic of conversation. I felt so incredibly at peace, and in that moment, nothing was wrong in the world, in my world, everything was calm and peaceful and  good.

I’ve had another similar experience with the same colleague this summer, actually. At that time, it was the start of the day, it was sunny and warm but not yet too warm, and we were sat outside on the curb by the stairs going from the lower to the upper courtyard at work. We were talking about life and the future, which has been uncertain or unpredictable for both of us, and in that moment, I felt like nothing else mattered, despite the anxiety I’d had the previous night, despite all the feelings that had been raging through me for days. In that moment, everything was perfect, and the feeling lingered and I couldn’t remember the last time I felt such serenity.

Last night I was sat wondering, how do people make friends in the real world? I only ever make friends on the internet, except for my two friends from university that pretty much decided to be my friend and that’s how we are where we are, two of us being godmothers to the third’s child, still friends despite studying separate things and living in separate places. I do know work plays an important role in making friends, and a lot of people know each other through work. I repeated this to my colleague today, whose fiancée I happen to know from working in the same place earlier, which lead to us playing Pokemon GO together outside of work and meeting up in uni sometimes as well – although I actually even knew OF her even before that, as we’re from small towns close to each other and have gone to school together. My colleague told me that just for the record, I am able to make friends outside of the Internet too; he likes me, and if I’d been staying in the city he’d hang out with me and play Pokemon GO with us now that he’s started playing again too. So maybe I don’t completely suck at making friends after all…

Xoxo

Julie

Times change

Earlier this summer I was talking to someone on snapchat (digression: I actually use it to have conversations with friends much in the same way as on messenger, just with pictures – not to send nudes that disappear in a few seconds like some people do and think is the purpose of the app), and I’d had my hair up for work which I do on most days. I work as a tour guide and in the café we run on site, two of the shifts have half a day of café, half touring, while the third shift does tours all day, and in the café we can’t have our hair down when we have long hair. So I’d had my hair up for work and left it up all evening, only undid it when I was getting ready for bed. And the person I was talking to said my hair looks really good down (not that it didn’t look good up, but that it looked even better down). I guess it must have been stuck in my head over the last several weeks, because I’ve started to wear my hair down more and more when I’m at home, undoing it when I get home from work, and even leaving it undone at work when I’m a guide and just doing a fast and easy ponytail when I’m on café duty.

I had long hair as a child. Long, fine, and incredibly silky. I used to beg my mom for French braids and she’d give in once in a while but most of the time there was no point, it was so difficult because my hair was too slippery and wouldn’t do anything. As I grew older, up towards my teenage years, I wore ponytails all the time and never had my hair down. In my early teens, when my hair was at its longest, I always had it down and I always carried hair ties on my wrist. My grandma always asked “can’t you tie up that long hair of yours?” when we were about to eat. Then, when I was 17, I chopped it all off. I had short bob styles until I was 22, when I decided I wanted to grow it out, and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 4 years, telling my hair dressers to take off as much as necessary, but as little as possible, ie only what was absolutely necessary to keep it healthy and to keep split ends from spreading up.

As a student, I’ve worn my hair up a lot, and it’s been getting easier and easier the longer my hair has gotten, and with all the studies I’ve done it’s been convenient to have it out of my face, and I also used to go to the gym a lot, so I barely ever had my hair down, only when I was invited to an event and such, sometimes at work in the museum shop. I can do buns, different kinds of braids, headband styles… All kinds of stuff. And I’ve loved doing my hair! I feel classy, elegant, and I can look fun and girly and childish or adult and professional, the opportunities are endless! But over the last few weeks, I’ve found myself gravitating towards having my hair down again. It’s been a long time. But I’m loving this look now, too!

Xoxo

Julie

Summer Freedom

There’s just two weeks left of my summer job and I’m only just now starting to feel like the time I’m not at work is MY time to do whatever I want. I’ve not had uni to deal with since my last exam on June 5th, why has it taken me so long to feel free? My summer job lasts 8 weeks, meaning it’s taken me 6 weeks to get to this point. This really baffles me. What have I been doing for so long? I honestly have no idea.

I think the feelings of freedom started when my parents went away on holiday. The first time I really felt free this summer was a day where I was on nobody’s time but my own. My parents had gone away for the day and were eating dinner out, my brother had plans to go on a hiking trip, and the weather was lovely so instead of going home after work I went on a forest walk by myself, just listening to happy music and playing Pokémon GO and enjoying life, because no one was waiting for me with food or anything like that. It was a lovely feeling.

Whenever I’ve been home for a weekend or even longer, during the past 6 years of living in the city and going to university, I’ve spent a lot of time with my parents. I’ve sat in the living room watching whatever they’re watching on TV, I’ve hung out with them, going for walks, going with them to shops etc. I’ve spent very little time to myself, next to no time in my room except for to sleep. The reason for this, is that I’ve sometimes not known when would be the next time I’d get to come home – it might be weeks or months until the next time, and therefore I’ve felt that I need to spend all the time with them.

Now that they’ve been on holiday, I’ve been entirely on my own. Taking care of the house, cooking for myself, spending time doing whatever I’ve wanted to do. I’ve had a couple of days where I’ve only read, I’ve had a few days where I’ve needed to do a lot of chores but it hasn’t been so bad. I’ve spent two mornings and an evening editing pictures for a friend, watched a movie, played a lot of Mario Kart on my laptop… I’ve taken back my time, even though no one has demanded that I do anything else anyway, it’s been liberating.

I’m moving, in 16 days from today. I’ll need to start packing soon, to prepare for the move as I’ve no idea when I’ll be back to pick up more stuff, and I can only bring a suitcase and my carry-on. But even so, I don’t feel the pressure that I’ve felt before, that I need to spend as much of my waking time with my family as possible. Because it’s not necessary to be around someone 100% of the time or to talk to them all the time to know and show that you love them, care about them, like them… It’s perfectly fine to take time to yourself, be by yourself, do things for yourself. Because YOU are the only one who has to be around you 100% of the time, and it’s important to do things that make YOU happy, that make YOU able to live with the person you are.

xoxo

Julie

Globally Friends

I have a feeling I’ve written about this before, but it’s a topic that can’t really get old so I want to write about it again. The topic is internet friends.

A lot of people receive so much bullshit for having internet friends.

“You can’t know they are who they say they are.”

“You have to be careful, they could be a predator.”

“But they’re not your real friends, you’ve never actually met them.”

Sound familiar? For me, I heard the first two in school and the last one from friends and family. And there is some truth to it of course, back when I was 15-16 and we talked in chat rooms and on MySpace etc, hiding who you are was really easy. But technology has changed, life as we knew it back then has changed. I’ve met a lot of my friends on the internet. Some of my best friends, and my boyfriend, I knew on Twitter first. But we moved from Twitter to other platforms like Snapchat, following each other on Instagram, messaging and calling using Messenger and WhatsApp… We actually talk and use video and send pictures on a daily basis, some of us. The development of the technology we have today has made it so easy to spot fake people.

One of my closest friends is someone I met on Twitter several years ago, we’ve still not been able to meet in person, but hopefully that will happen sometime soon. This friend is someone who has never judged me, who’s helped me through some of my hardest times with heartaches and panic attacks and depression, who’s talked me out of doing stupid shit and made me see things clearly when I’ve not been able to, who’s even been able to explain my feelings and the reason behind them when I’ve been majorly confused. Someone I can talk to about things I couldn’t bring up with my “real life” friends, because this friend understands me in ways others don’t.

I read somewhere that people originate from stars and we’re always trying to find the remaining bits and pieces of the star we originally were, someone said this was the reason why we have soul mates, they’re people originating from the same star as we do. I like to think that this might be true, and that the dust from the multiple stars have mingled together and that’s why we feel different kind of attraction to multiple people, that we’re connected in some sort of way. It’s a force we can’t really deny, it’s just the universe pulling us together like gravity. Some of us belong together. Friendly. Affectionately. Romantically. Sexually. Platonically. In person. Online.

The other day I wanted to throw myself off a cliff, surely that would be less painful than some of the emotions I was feeling at the time. Then I talked to one of those scary people on the internet, the ones I’ve been warned to be careful with, and my friend was able to put words to a lot of the things I couldn’t explain, and understood without me having to go into too much detail. My friend reassured me that there’s nothing unnatural about the feelings I was having, that it’s all just human. My friend, a person I’ve never met in real life, could be there for me in a way no one else that I know could at the time, and I could talk to this friend about things I didn’t feel I was able to talk to anyone else about. This friend wasn’t judging me or telling me I was a bad person, or get weird about anything, this person was just there for me, supported me, talked to me, and made me feel better. At the end of the night I was sat singing A Day To Remember songs at the top of my lungs, and my friend from the internet did that.

See what I did there? My friend from the internet. Just as natural as saying my friend from school, or my friend from home, or my friend from London, New York, Chicago, whatever. My friend from the internet.

They’re people, just like us. If I can be on the internet, so can they, and if they can be the “scary stranger” so can I. There’s really nothing different about it at all. There are 7.6 billion people in the world. Am I supposed to only now people that live where I live?

I want to conclude with an image of a post I came across on Tumblr the other day, when I was browsing my archive from the early days:

online friends

xoxo

Julie

It’s been a long time

Hello!

If you’re reading this post, I want to thank you for doing so. It’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog post, about 9 months I think, and a lot has happened, and I’ve missed blogging. So this is my attempt to get back to it. Some of you may know that I have been blogging on and off for most of my life – it started when I was about 14 years old and joined MySpace, which had a blog function built into the pages back then. Then I created blogs on separate platforms throughout my teens, and ended up here in my early 20s, and I’m now 25.

An Update

People don’t read blogs to read a novel, but I wanted to share a little bit of the last 9 months, and why I’ve been away, and why I’m back. So my last entry was in May; I worked a lot in May because someone quit and I took over her shifts. I also started packing up my room/apartment, as I started my summer job in June and also had to move on July 1st. I worked A LOT during the summer; I had one week off where I read a bit and went to my new place to unpack and put together furniture – on the moving day my parents and I literally just emptied one place, put everything into the new place, and left. In August, my grandfather passed away, and I started uni again. I still had my Master’s thesis to finish, and I started a one-year program in Nordic studies (linguistics and literature). I somehow managed to finish my thesis by the deadline, November 15th, and defended it and got a passing grade on December 15th. I spent most of Christmas sleeping, and my boyfriend came to visit for New Year’s and we had a really good time together. One of my best friend’s gave birth to a baby boy on January 2nd, and my other best friend and I will be god mothers at the Christening later in March, which I’m really excited about!

Where I am now

I don’t mean physically (although that is in the apartment I moved into in July). I’m continuing Nordic studies, I have 4 classes, 37.5 ECTS total, this semester, where two are literature courses and two are language/linguistics courses. My literature courses are called “Theory, Genre, Analysis” (I just call it analysis for short), and “Literary Cultural Meetings and Cultural Identity” (I call this one cultural identity). My linguistics classes are Language History & Development, and The Study of Meaning: Semantics and Pragmatics. I also work every other weekend at the museum now, I got offered a permanent position I’d applied for at the end of October, which is amazing and I love it.

I love my classes, everything is really interesting, and I love learning! But I can feel that I am ready to be done with studies now. I’ve got two degrees and then some, and sitting down to do uni work is becoming more of an annoyance than anything else (I currently have 3 essays to write, and I just don’t want to). I’m ready to get to the part of life where I work, and then I come home to my boyfriend and we can do life things together because when I’m done with the work day I’m done with work for that day, you know? I understand that there will always be things hanging over you, stuff that needs doing and all that, but I’m ready for that next step in life; to go from being a student in university to be an adult contributing to society by working, paying taxes, and spending money (haha).

I’m hoping to be able to keep blogging a bit from now on. I’ve really missed it. I’m really busy, but this is something I want to do for myself, without any pressure for it to be anything specific, just me and the keyboard and whatever is on my mind.

xoxo

Julie

Mission First, People Always

So, I don’t know if you guys know this, and I don’t remember if I’ve ever blogged about this, but I know I haven’t recently, so here we go. My dad is a Major in the Royal Norwegian Air Force. He joined the military when he was 18, met my mom when he was almost 24, and they had me, and my brother. My parents are still together, a rarity these days, so I consider myself lucky.

For the last few years, I’ve noticed it especially since I moved to the city and started uni, every time there’s something involving military families on a TV show, whether it be good or bad, I always tear up and get emotional. Every time I rewatch Army Wives, it’s really just me crying my way through 7 seasons one episode at a time. But occasionally there is military stuff on other shows too, cop shows, medical shows, even comedy/family type shows do episodes dedicated to the armed forces. In Norway, life in a military family is quite different from that we see on shows like Army Wives; I didn’t grow up on a base or post or anything like that, but there are still things that are true for every family, regardless of where they live.

And that is your loved one being away. Whether it is your dad, mom, brother, sister, son, daughter… being away from someone is never easy, especially when you know that they are in a dangerous situation. Thinking back to my childhood, I remember my dad being away three times. Once to Turkey, twice to Italy. I know he was in Italy during the Kosovo war, but back then I didn’t know what that was or meant. I just knew that my dad was away and we didn’t know when he’d be back.

There is particularly one morning that I remember from when my dad was in Italy, and that was the last morning we had together. I remember because I’d had to give my teacher in school (I was in the first grade)  a note beforehand, notifying her that I would be late for school because daddy was going to war and we didn’t know when we’d see him again, so we were gonna have a family breakfast together. And I remember eggs, which we normally only had on Sundays, and orange juice.

I don’t remember much of my dad being away. I remember before I started school, when I was in daycare, my mom was driving me and she let me eat breakfast at home before we left, whereas when my dad took me there on his way to work I had to take breakfast with me and eat it there. I remember my dad coming back. Once, I got a pink kitchen for my Barbie dolls. I think that was from Turkey. I know I have some jewelry from Turkey as well, but I don’t remember getting it. Once, I got roller skates. And my brother got a tiny bike with Mickey Mouse on it that my dad had in his suitcase, which was crazy! I remember ridiculously green aloe-vera. And a giant plastic bag of coins – most of which have disappeared, some I still have in my room at my parents’ house. But I don’t remember asking my mom about him. I don’t remember whether he missed any holidays or birthdays. I don’t remember much of him being gone at all.

Maybe that’s just the way the brain works. Defense mechanisms, blocking out painful memories. After all, this all happened before I turned 7, and how much does one really remember from that age, apart from select memories, good or bad, that somehow made it through? I remember one thing from back when I was 2, my earliest memory is from after I fell off the slide in my back yard, and my mom had to call my dad to take me to the ER to get stitches on my forehead – I remember holding a washcloth to my head, it was red, but I don’t know if that was the washcloth or blood. That was probably traumatic. But that was a single event, not weeks and months at a time.

A few years later, my dad got a job in a different part of the country. I think my mom didn’t want to move, didn’t want to uproot our lives in our hometown, because it was decided that my dad would commute. Apparently he was gone for 2-3 weeks at a time in the beginning, but I don’t remember much of that either. This was towards the end of my mandatory education, I know he had this job for a few years and got a new one while I did my exchange year in high school, so it was at least most of my middle school years, if not all. Towards the end though, he left at 7am on Tuesday mornings and arrived back home around 7.30pm Thursday nights. I remember that time a lot, especially when I was in middle school which ended at 2pm, because I would have a larger meal after school because dinner would be late on Thursdays (we usually eat dinner between 4 and 5). Funny, how many of my memories are related to food, isn’t it?

My dad’s new job required travels to the US, but at least that was only 2-3 weeks every time and only a couple times a year at most. But now he doesn’t have that job anymore either. He did go to the US before Christmas though, I got some nice presents, including a coffee mug and some lovely tea!

Where my dad works now… it’s closer to home, but he has to travel a lot. Sometimes just for a day, sometimes for a few days or a week… but now he’s been gone for 3 weeks and not been able to come home on weekends even. I thought that it wouldn’t affect me, since I’m not home either, but I think a lot about how it affects my mom. My brother lives at home, but he has school and friends and social stuff so he’s not there all the time, and my mom is home alone, which makes me feel bad for not being there. But he got to go home yesterday, and I’m going home on Monday, so at least I’ll get to see my entire family then. I haven’t spoken to my dad since Easter, except for a few text messages, which feels weird. So I’m happy I get to go home and spend our Constitution day (May 17th) with him and the rest of my family!

I wanted to write something earlier this week, as last Monday, May 8th, is a significant day for Norway and for military men and women present and past. We call it Liberation Day, because it is the day that World War II ended and Norway was no longer occupied by the Nazis. It’s also our Veteran’s Day. Some say that the focus should be exclusively on the Veterans of WWII, but I am among those who believe that ALL Veterans should be honored on this day. War, no matter what you call the war, is gruesome, and it affects the people in uniform as well as their families. Happy late Veteran’s Day, dad.

Now, you might be wondering what’s with the title of this entry. It’s a military quote, I first heard it on Army Wives. As I am writing this, I am remembering that I’ve definitely written about this before. I thought at first it was on tumblr, but I couldn’t find it, and then I realized that this will actually be the 2nd entry on my blog with this title; you can read the first one here. You don’t need to read the whole thing, the most important bit is at the top, which I’ll recap for you here now:

This is a quote I learned when I was watching the Lifetime TV show Army Wives. However, I did grow up with a father in uniform. And this is one of my all-time favorite quotes. When I told a friend about it, he didn’t get it. But then I explained.

To me it’s like, people are what matter, people are what’s important. Not all people – but like, the people that matter to you. Your friends, family, who you love… They’re the most important thing in your life. And I’ll always choose them over doing something. Not like, use them to avoid doing something I wanna do but like, if/when they need me, I’ll choose them over sleep and I’ll ditch a lecture and I’ll drop what I’d been looking forward to doing on my day off to be with them because they’re more important than things. Mission first. People always.

The quote within the quote is a bit messy, because that was copy pasted from a conversation I had through some social media or other, and my thoughts aren’t always coherent when I’m trying to explain something. But I hope you get the gist of it.

And speaking of incoherent – this entry might be becoming it. So I think I want to end it here.

Have any of my readers got people close to them in uniform?

~ Julie

Just Not My Night

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen! Or, it’s 2am here, I don’t know how you greet people at 2am… Anyway, story time! 

Today was supposed to be a good day. I watched some TV, called my boyfriend, ordered plane and train tickets to visit him, and then I was supposed to visit a friend who turned in her Master’s thesis today. 

On my way out of the door, however, my beloved Hedwig key chain from the Platform 9 3/4 shop at Kings Cross Station in London, broke. 

And now I can’t get my key back on it at all. I’m considering putting it all in a ziplock bag and taking it with me when I go there at the end of the month, since I only bought it a few months ago, and ask if it would be possible to exchange it for a new one, since I’ve not been abusing it and it just snapped, which it shouldn’t, considering their stuff is quite pricey. Can’t hurt to ask anyway, worst they can do is say no… 

All was well at my friend’s house, we made cupcakes and had a lovely time. She gave me a present for helping her proofreading: a bottle of Riesling white wine with butterflies on the bottle, and three books she knows I’ve been wanting for over a year: The Selection, The Elite, and The One. I’ve read them on my Kindle, but I really enjoyed them and they’re so pretty. I really didn’t expect it – I would’ve been happy with a tub of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. But I’m beyond happy with my present! As I was packing my stuff to leave, she asked if I wanted a plastic bag, but I said I was alright because I had my handbag. In hindsight, I should’ve accepted the bag. 

I’d only walked a few houses down her street, when the shoulder strap on my handbag snapped. The bag hit the ground, and the wine bottle smashed, all over the stuff I had in it. Since it was nearly 1am and not a soul was in sight, I left my stuff and ran back to my friend’s house, knocking frantically on her door. I briefly explained what had happened and she gave me a plastic bag. I ran back. My handbag was full of wine and broken glass, but I managed to get all of my stuff out and into the plastic bag. I carried the handbag all the way home, stopped under a street lamp to make sure I’d got all my stuff out, and then threw it in the trash. 

The books my friend gave me were mostly intact – just a little bit of damage to the edges, mostly due to the other wet stuff in the plastic bag, as they had been wrapped in the wrapping paper when the bottle smashed. Everything else, however, was soaked. My wallet, the little bag I keep my most essential essential oils in, a pack of ibuprofen, sunglasses, powerbank (portable charger), and the bullet journal I’ve only been using for a month. My oils were fine, it’s been proven before that it’s apparently not easy to smash Young Living bottles! My compact powder looked completely untouched, I threw out the powder puff thingy though – it was cheap and from H&M so no huge loss there. Everything else has been rinsed out, and I didn’t have any cash, only cards. It remains to be seen if they will work tomorrow. My powerbank will probably need to be thrown out as I’ll need to get a new one, but I’ll consult my brother tomorrow. I once had an iPod that survived a washing machine and worked for years after, so we’ll see. 

Worst off, then, was my bullet journal, especially this week’s spread and next week’s, that I only made earlier today. 

The following two pages don’t look so great either, so I guess I’ll just skip those, or write this story on them, or something. 

The strap of my handbag was already one being shared by two different bags, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that it broke. But I guess it was about time to get a new one now, then, anyway. It sucks that I’ll probably need a new powerbank, and that I lost a bottle of wine and one of the two CapriSuns I had in my purse, but my books are okay and and the rest of my bullet journal isn’t so bad – it’s mostly just the few pages around where my pen had been left inside it. My pen still works. Everything else will be fine. Depending on the wine smell, I might need to get a new wallet, but that one was old anyway. 

And I’m okay, and thats what’s important, my boyfriend said. Poor thing, I woke him up by calling him after this happened, and he didn’t sleep much last night or today. I feel bad. But I also feel grateful to have someone like him in my life, someone I want to call while walking home in the middle of the night, being upset and annoyed, carrying a handbag full of broken glass and wine. Someone who answers when I call because they know I’m calling because I need to talk to them. Sure, some crappy things happened in the last few hours, but I also spent it with and talking to wonderful people, and for that I am grateful. 

Until next time, 

~ Julie