My Darling Baby Boy

IMG_1856You are growing within my body and becoming stronger and more beautiful each day. These past six months have gone by so quickly and I am so grateful to be your vessel guiding you upon this Earth. I hope you’re feeling warm and safe inside for the time being and that your Papa and I can always be that safe place for your heart.

We are so madly in love with you already and the idea of holding you in our arms in just a little over three months feels sublime. We have no idea what the future holds but we know in our hearts life will be even more magnificent with you in it. It’s funny how life goes, you know. We were once just like you, and in many ways it still feels the same. It still feels like we are just children or young teenagers falling in love. There will come a day when you are old enough and we can tell you the story of how your father and I met. The story of how we fell in love. And how you, my darling boy, were born out of this love.

You are the epitome of love and forever will be. My heart feels overwhelmed whenever I think about what our love created. How powerful and genuine it is, and how ridiculously happy you will make us. It soothes me knowing you will be entering this world without drama nor pain. We weren’t always this way but we have grown so much throughout the years and I am proud of how far we’ve come. I am proud of your father for he is the kindest, most caring human in the whole world and will do anything to make us happy. I am proud of myself, too for I have overcome many obstacles and insecurities and I finally feel at peace with who I am.

We are still learning everyday and we’ll keep on doing so alongside you, baby bird. You will be our deepest inspiration yet and our greatest adventure. Nothing will ever compare to you. We promise to love you and cherish you day after day, even through sleepless nights and challenging times. For we know even misbehavior is a way of communicating and a signal for help. We won’t be fooled into thinking you can be trained through pain or harsh words and we’ll wholeheartedly focus on building secure bonds instead.

We want you to feel confident and proud of who you are and who you’ll become each day. We want you to know just how special you are, and to always act with love and kindness. We want to empower you the best way we can and we need you to allow yourself to feel. It’s not easy being a man and embracing your feelings in a world that teaches you to toughen up but it’s far more rewarding to let yourself feel rather than flee your emotions and hurt yourself and others along the way.

This will be a long road but we have trust in you, little love. We believe in our family and the goodness and love we’ll create out of it. We hope never to belittle you nor put you down. We hope to build a strong and devoted bond of attachment between us as soon as you enter this world. In fact, we already feel connected to you. Your father doesn’t quite know what it’s like yet but I feel you everyday within me. I feel you growing and kicking around and being your own little person already. I love you every minute of every day and I am so grateful for you.

Pregnancy truly feels empowering in a way I never imagined it to be. Growing up, I had endless insecurities about myself and my body. I thought I would never be able to conceive a child yet here you are, all warmed up inside me. You will always feel like the most perfect miracle we’ve been gifted with. I have since learned to let go of all my insecurities and although I’m the heaviest I have ever been, I have never felt this much love and gratitude for my body and the flow of life passing through it. I am learning to befriend and nurture my body for it’s a vessel of love and a sheltered temple. It carries endless memories, beauty and pain intertwined in the brightest and most effervescent way. My body is a warm light guiding our son upon this Earth and I don’t think I could ever need anything more than this tiny precious life magically flowing through me and turning our world upside down.

It still feels surreal most days. As if it’s all just a dream and the most perfect life I could have ever wanted magically came true. I look back at my younger self and I feel speechless that it all unfolded so beautifully in the end. I was so afraid then. Fascinated by the Earth yet petrified to trust another human being. Meeting Kevin changed everything. We went through so much together and he has breathed life into me and allowed me to grow stronger and more beautiful than I ever thought I could be. He’ll make you feel so special too, my wild sweet boy. He has his way of believing in you so firmly and tenderly that you will feel like you can move mountains. And you will.

I have finally come to terms with the decision of putting myself first and going on rest leave until my maternity leave begins. My hospital shifts were getting more and more intense and although I was becoming more relaxed about my pregnancy, I felt so stressed and had little to no time to connect with our baby. I would come home feeling overwhelmingly tired every night yet still pushing myself to work harder and harder until I could no longer take it. I knew this was the right thing to do and my midwife had been suggesting so for months yet it can be quite challenging to take this step and let go of financial and societal pressures.

We are in the process of buying a home for our family and for weeks, I felt like I would let us down if I were to quit working. I felt pressured into earning more and more money but at the end of the day, our baby needs us more than he needs the trendiest sleeping nest or an exhausted mama too busy to breastfeed him. I’m not sure where I’m heading yet because I love my job as a nurse but if there’s one thing I’m certain of, it’s that there is nothing I will love more than raising our son and nurturing his soul. I want to be there for him and I don’t want society to dictate how I feel. The older I become, the clearer it becomes. Love is my deepest desire and aspiration. It’s my one purpose and it’s not to be wasted.

It’s been four days since I left the hospital and I can finally breathe again. I get to wake up in the morning and interact with our baby for as long as I want to. I can make smoothie bowls every morning and take naps throughout the day. I’m able to focus my whole energy on our growing baby and nothing feels more right than this. I know now just how deeply I needed to pause and cherish this special time with our boy safely wrapped inside me. I’m grateful Kevin works so hard to provide for our family and that he remains kind and loving in every situation. I wouldn’t quite know what to do without him.

My favorite time of the day is when he comes home. After all these years, I always find myself rushing out the front door and jumping straight into his arms. He’ll double kiss me on the lips then on the forehead, just as he always does. I’ll help him take off his shoes, lie on his side and just stare at him until he makes a funny face or tries to chew one of my ears. He’ll make up a silly love song for me and I’ll wonder at how beautiful he looks. I can’t seem to ever tire of him and everything he’s becoming.

My parents and I grew closer through my pregnancy. We have had our ups and downs and I have wanted to break off all ties many times in the past but ultimately they are here for me and I can see just how much they love me. My mother is so proud to be having a grandson and she’s finally getting to know Kevin which warms my heart because I always wanted them to get along. Kevin feels much more at peace now, too and I’m grateful there’s no more pain nor drama between us all.

Kevin allowed his father back into his life about a year ago and they have slowly started to build a relationship and I can see just how deeply he needed this. He’s since learned to forgive himself and everything changed from this moment on. He’s no longer afraid and he finally gets to feel all the love his father has for him. It’s all I ever wanted, for him to know he’s enough and that none of this was his fault.

Was it ever someone’s fault? Why do we constantly feel the need to blame someone, whether it’s us or another human being? I have felt resentment and hatred before and it never helped me nor the person I was resenting. We are entitled to feel these emotions as long as we let them pass through and we don’t become trapped. I was stuck into a very dark place for so long, drowning in the past and blaming myself for my suffering and it gradually became a habit. I still go back there at times but I know better now. I have learned to forgive myself and to acknowledge my worth.

Kevin and I both struggle with low self-esteem and we both know just how damaging this can be to our mental health. I’d say we did a pretty good job at nurturing a new sense of worth and growing more love for ourselves but we still have a long way to go. In raising our son, we hope never to make that mistake. So many of us have been abused, neglected or put down and thus feel unworthy of ever being loved or cared for. This is wrong in so many ways and it’s time we break the cycle. It’s time we raise strong and compassionate children who’ll grow into loving and kind-hearted adults. It’s time we build the new generation.

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Golden hearts

IMG_0551Sometimes I wonder what it all means. What this life I’m experiencing is meant for. While traveling the world made absolute sense in my heart for the last decade, nothing has ever felt more right than this. Carrying life within my body. Feeling all the baby kicks and dreaming about the family we are about to create. I’m no longer looking for the crazy, unreachable things. I’m simply grateful for the simple moments in our lives and the love we get to share for one another. I guess this is what growing up is all about.

One of my coworkers found out I was pregnant and was mind-blown. I’m almost six months pregnant now and can hardly hide it anymore. We first met three years ago when I started working at the hospital and I was a completely different person then. He said ‘Look at you. Three years ago, you were mad at the whole world, running away at every opportunity and now you are having a baby. You look more peaceful than ever‘. It surprised me he thought I was mad. Most people usually perceive me as a candid dreamer who’s lost touch with reality. When I was younger, I wasn’t interested in partying nor being popular and having loads of friends. I was quite an introvert and my days would most likely consist of hiking mountains, writing in my journal and taking photographs. I didn’t think I was mad. I thought I just didn’t belong and needed to go out there and see the world for me to finally live to my fullest potential.

Now I know it wasn’t just about being an adventurer. It was about finding myself through bitter roads and finally coming to terms with traumas from my past. I think it is so important to accept whatever happened to you, forgive yourself and others and just let go. Otherwise blocked emotions build up within your heart and they consume you, wherever you are in this world and wherever you try to escape. Rather than flee my emotions, I now choose to feel them. I make the conscious choice to feel them all equally so I don’t have to be a prisoner of my own thoughts ever again. There’s nothing more beautiful than being alive and able to feel it all.

Love drives me. Love awakens me. It guides me through life and makes every hardship and mistake worth experiencing. I see us all as vessels of light navigating through oceans of love. I take comfort in knowing I’m not alone in this big wide world and we are all just the same. Dazzled by love and affection. Peace and joy. Yearning for long walks by the sea with the people we love the most. Soaking in every ray of sunshine day after day. Opening our wild, golden hearts and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable whatever life might throw at us. It takes courage to love but in the end it’s all we know and there’s nothing purer to life than love.

I ask myself millions of questions regarding our child and how I could become a better parent. It’s so important for Kevin and I to give our child everything he or she needs. To encourage our baby and never belittle him nor her. To acknowledge that while we might want to shape him or her into our own ideals, our child is already its own little person and we shouldn’t try to change that. That the world can indeed be cruel but that doesn’t mean we as a family should fuel more negativity and hatred. I believe there’s actually nothing more powerful than kindness and that we need more of that. More love to give. Freely and without condition.

I’m passionate about offering genuine praise and appreciation so our child doesn’t have to grow up feeling as insecure as we once did. I’m aware we won’t always be able to protect him nor her but we will do our best to ensure our child knows how much we love him or her. So maybe this way our faith can become our child’s guiding light through storms and rainbows.

It’s all going so fast. In two months, we’ll be moving out of our apartment and settling down closer to the sea. We just bought our first home and it will finally be big enough for the three of us. We’ll be waking up to mountains and palm trees and it all feels like a dream. We have worked so hard for this to happen and now it’s all about to come true. We’ll have a real kitchen with a real oven so we can bake an abundance of sweet potatoes and vegan brownies. We’ll have a bedroom dedicated to our baby where we’ll be hanging fairy star lights on every wall.

I’m excited to start maternity leave so I can wholeheartedly focus on myself before our baby is born. I feel like this will be such a special time to just be. Read positive parenting books. Play music in the morning. Drive to the beach and have it all to myself while I sip on green smoothies. Run into the water even if it’s still cold. Buy fruit and vegetables at the local Provence markets. Make colorful and nourishing plant-based bowls of goodness. Write letters of love and gratitude. Go on easy walks so I can still move my body softly. Create golden photographs in the sunset. Run to the door in the evening and spoil my love with kisses and fresh Italian dinner.

I find divine delight in everyday life. Simple yet strong meaning in bathing your spirit in love and cleansing your energy. I thought I would miss my monthly adventures to the ends of the Earth but it’s truly quite the opposite. I’m eager to wander back into the world once our baby is old enough to travel so we can all marvel at the universe’s beauty and strangers’ warmth and gentleness as one family. Brightly flawed but loving nonetheless. Until then, we’ll be nesting and resting.

Pregnancy is teaching me to slow down so I can reconnect with myself. It’s challenging and exhausting but I understand how essential it is I listen. I can’t push my body the way I used to, running and hiking steep mountains. I can’t stay active for too long and often need to nap once or twice throughout the day. I still get nauseous at times and have a hard time falling asleep because somehow our baby has settled on bed time as his or her favorite time to wake up and dance around in my belly. It’s all so surreal and part of me just wants to dance with our baby all night long. I’m sure these thoughts will be long gone four months from now once our little peach has entered the world and sleep deprivation comes to the surface.

Either way, we know our child won’t ever be a burden to us and will add tremendous love and joy into our lives. We are beyond thrilled to become parents and learn from this tiny human who’ll be changing our whole existence. Grateful that we could even conceive and that my body is carrying life right now. We met with very close friends of ours last night. They had a baby last year and their little girl has grown so much since we last saw them. She’s so bright and lively and would slither on her belly and have us all giggle. Kevin looked at her and wore his most sincere smile. The exact same innocent smile I fell for eleven years ago when I would sit next to him on the school bus. Alice – their daughter – grabbed Kevin’s nose and laughed. I never imagined his nose being a baby toy but we’ll definitely have to go along with it with our own baby now for the sake of minimalism.

Watching him interact with Alice as I am carrying our baby got me incredibly sentimental and proud. I would picture him with our own little miracle and I could already imagine the sparkling joy in his eyes and his sweet, childlike smile. I have always known in my heart that Kevin would make an incredible father someday and the fact that someday will become our reality in only four months is truly phenomenal. I could cry happy tears everyday and it still wouldn’t feel real. It might finally sink in when we are holding our daughter or son in our arms or we might just remain in utter awe our whole lives, telling ourselves over and over again our love brought into being the brightest, most precious essence of Life.

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Within my womb

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My womb carries the purest soul we have yet to meet. It feels so empowering and magical yet so daunting and eerie. I never trusted my body enough to believe it could create life. I had cultivated for so long the unrealistic belief that I could never have children. I poisoned my body with birth control pills until it could no longer bleed on its own. I was 22 and had never had my period so something surely must have been off. I refused to see any specialist because I was too afraid to hear the unshakeable truth of infertility. I retreated into fear until I met him.

He changed everything. He proved all my beliefs wrong. He believed in me so fiercely and tenderly I started easing my mind. But I could still never quite let go of all the buried trauma and pain in my heart enough to love myself. It took me running to the ends of the Earth and him sabotaging our love for us to seek our truest sense of inner love. We grew apart long enough for us to nurture the love we had been missing our whole lives. The kind of love you can only reach by exploring the scariest layers of your soul and unfolding them all, one by one. I was petrified to look within. I ran and ran until there was nowhere left to run.

I spent the last decade of my life traveling on my own around the entire world. I was unstoppable. Mountains were my sweetest lullaby. I would push my body beyond its limits and wake up to a different sun each day. I would live for this exhilarating sense of aliveness. The infinite beauty and freedom of life moved me to the core of my being and I would always yearn for more adventures.

I was hungry for love, too. I always was. After I poured my love into Kevin’s soul, I grew love for strangers. Innocent children playing in the busy streets of Yogyakarta. Balinese women giving me a ride on their scooters and welcoming me into their homes. Polish families warming up my heart with cups of tea and captivating tales seconds after I hitchhiked through the Highlands. A loving American couple who listened and soaked in all of my stories with utter kindness and respect while roadtripping across the country. Every soul I encountered shaped the woman I am today. The wild yet insecure girl I once was. They all led me here. To the inner journey within my own heart.

And so it began. It was painful and soul-wrecking but oh so gloriously beautiful, too. I came to realize that even though I had traveled around the Earth, there were still so many unloved parts of myself and that I had not been dealing with them the right way. In fact, I merely took them with me on my adventures while I pretended they weren’t real. I had learned to bury all the pain inside because I didn’t believe I was strong enough to face it, let alone move past it. My suffering was too heavy and I was too fragile. I was sure I would break within seconds. As I opened my heart to the fear and suffering of my past, I finally understood. That it no longer had power over me. That it was okay to break. That this breaking was in fact necessary.

I fumbled my way through the pain. I fell to the ground multiple times but I kept standing up again. That’s when I knew how strong I was. How strong we all are yet fail to see ourselves for who we truly are. I no longer need to be a victim. I don’t want to dwell in the past nor worry about the future because none of this matters. It was when I surrendered to the fear that I expanded into love. I started embracing my body for everything it allowed me to do. I fell in love with the bareness of my skin. Every freckle and every scar. They all had stories to tell and I needed to grow more love for them.

Home started to feel beautiful. It would sound so soothing and effortless and I wondered when things would shatter again because life just couldn’t be this sweet. The truth is by learning to love myself, everything actually became easier. Kevin and I reconnected and found more balance within our relationship. Months went by, then years and our love grew stronger and saner. Life became sweeter with every passing day. I was no longer running away and he was no longer crawling into his shell. Trusting our paths and learning to keep our hearts open through it all changed our whole experience.

Kevin was the first to bring up the idea of building a family. He had always dreamed of becoming a father. And the more I stood by his side, the more convinced I was that he would be the absolute best, most loving Dad in the whole world. He’s the kind of person who loves you without ever expecting anything in return. Who will do anything to make you feel safe and happy. He’s the kind of man who will wash my compression socks and dry them at night so I can wear them again the next day. He’ll do the dishes, the laundry, clean the whole apartment and always have a kind smile on his face when he sees you waking up. He’ll sit down by your side and whisper love words to your sleepy self. He’s just the most devoted human in the universe and there is no doubt in my heart that our children will be loved beyond measure.

Still, it felt impossible for us to ever create life. We wanted this little family so badly but we kind of had the feeling that we would have to struggle for a few years before being able to conceive. We were in Bali when we decided it was time for us to try and trust the universe. I fell pregnant three months after. It felt unreal and overwhelming and I could hardly calm myself down. Kevin, on the other side, was sitting next to me with the biggest and most serene smile on his face. He’s always been the peaceful one. I was three weeks pregnant then. Nothing felt physically different yet a few weeks before taking that pregnancy test – who turned out to be a false negative -, I could feel in my heart that something was up. I couldn’t quite explain it but I felt changed. I told Kevin we had to get a blood test to get it off our chests. We found out on the 8th of October. We were forever changed from then on.

We canceled our travel plans for the year to come. This baby would become our wildest adventure. Sadly I slipped back into old patterns. No matter how confident I wanted to feel, I just couldn’t help but think my body was failing me and that I would not to be able to keep this little baby inside my womb alive. It was absolute torture waiting for December to come so we could have an ultrasound and finally know if our baby was still there. Kevin never really doubted we would lose the baby. He tried everything he could to soothe my troubles away. But I felt too insecure to even trust him.

On the 4th of December, I laid down on an examination table and Kevin held my hand strongly seconds before the most magical miracle appeared on the screen. He or she was already so big. We got to listen to our baby’s heartbeat and tears flew down our cheeks. We were mesmerized and I secretly wanted this moment to last forever. Our baby was already being a wild little pumpkin moving around on its own and we just stood there, proud and speechless.

The extreme fatigue and ‘morning’ sickness came. Everytime I felt like rushing to the bathroom and throwing up, part of me was grateful for how sick I was because in my eyes, it meant our baby was safe and growing. I finally allowed myself to read all the positive parenting books I had bought months ago. Things really started to sink in. We told our closest friends and sharing this kind of joy made us feel unbelievably radiant. It got more and more real.

I had a complete blood check up to make sure I was healthy enough for our baby. My levels all turned out so amazing our midwife said it would prove everyone saying veganism is dangerous wrong. She asked me a few questions about my lifestyle before stating I knew exactly what I was doing. I felt overjoyed beyond words because I have had so many people putting me down in the past for embracing veganism or even friends challenging me and saying I could never be vegan while pregnant. I feel at peace knowing my food choices aren’t hurting any other species and that I am no longer contributing to the cruetly of such a sick industry. I wish everyone would make the connection. My goal is to remain kind and inspire more compassion towards all the animals. Cows and calves. Dogs and puppies. Pigs and piglets. Hens and chicks. We are all the same. We all deserve to live and love.

My belly is growing bigger each day now. I waited for this for so long I am ecstatic when someone tells me I look bigger. Kevin tells me I sleep with my hand on my belly and I smile because I do truly feel so connected to our baby. More than I could have ever imagined. I love that Kevin feels it, too. He’ll put his head on my belly and talk to our baby for hours. Whenever he starts singing cheesy songs, I always burst out laughing because I can perfectly imagine him being an awkward Dad to our child. We’ll both be so awkward, actually. We are eager to show our baby the world someday and teach him or her about love, kindness and compassion but deep down we know we’ll be growing and learning just as much.

Through raising this precious being, we’ll be rising to our own fullest potential and we can only hope to nurture more love for our family. We want to respect our child and acknowledge his or her own special spirit. We want to make him or her feel loved and encouraged at all times. We are dedicated to bettering ourselves everyday and bringing more empathy into this world. We wholeheartedly believe peace on Earth starts at home and through the inevitable trial and error we’ll have to face, love will be our priority. It feels surreal thinking that in just a few months, our baby will be born and that I’ll be breastfeeding him or her while Kevin will bond with our little miracle, skin to skin. I’m thankful for all the lessons pregnancy is teaching me and I feel infinitely blessed that we are embarking on the journey of parenthood. Nothing has ever felt more magnificent.

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Dawn to Dust

1It’s the middle of summer and I escape the warmth and comfort of our home to chase yet another dream. I have packed everything so we can get fully lost in the wild : my loyal tent, mattresses and sleeping bags, pillows, thermal clothing, one gas stove and plenty of vegan food to keep our bellies happy. My dearest friend, Mari-ann, has accepted to join me on this nomadic adventure. She’s flying from England early in the day whereas I’m only supposed to be landing in Oslo late in the evening. As soon as she sets foot in the country, she heads into the city and relentlessly looks for a compatible gas canister. She dedicates her entire day to finding one but there sadly doesn’t seem to be any.

I get out of the plane and hurriedly gather all of my gigantic backpacks but it takes less than minutes before I am stretched out on the floor, facing the evil hooks on my hiking shoes responsible for one epic fall at the baggage claim. I try getting back up but these hooks are quite diabolical and I tumble again. At one point, I surrender and accept my clumsiness and the considerate yet pitiful looks I get from strangers who are probably thinking ‘This girl can’t even walk out of the airport. Is she really going to venture in the wild and live off soy burgers?‘. I sure am.

I can finally spot Mari-ann waiting for me at the car hire agency. She is talking to the seller and she’s looking effortlessly beautiful. She gives me the most welcoming hug, softening my bruised knees and wild beating heart. I have already rented the cheapest car I could find online so we only need to be taken to the parking lot and start driving in the night. The adventure begins. Or so we thought. It turns out the car we had booked isn’t available anymore and we’re getting another one. It’s slightly different, and we won’t have to pay any more money. As we head towards the fanciest, most luxurious convertible car, our hearts start pounding wildly again. This can’t be that car. This can’t be it. This wasn’t the plan. We needed a dirty car to match our greasy hair and filthy clothing.

The seller disappears in a quick second and we’re left with an automatic car I have never driven before. I figure how to switch the radio on but I can’t seem to turn the car on. The radio sounds pretty good though so I tell Mari-ann the parking lot might not be such a bad place to set the tent. It’s dark and mysterious. We can just stay here, read books and listen to Norwegian tunes all day. I finally manage to start driving and we move so slow it is ridiculous. I have no idea what I’m doing. I just keep thinking ‘I am so going to wreck that car‘.

We drive for hours in the night until we’re too exhausted to keep going and stop in a parking lot to get some rest. We head back on the road in the early morning, wanting to reach Kristiansand. It’s where my best friend’s family lives and she’d always tell me peaceful stories about what life was like there. Our stomachs start moaning but we remember we have no gas canisters to cook our food with. It’s Sunday and we’re in the middle of nowhere. We are hopeless but somehow, as we pass a tiny gas station on the side of the road, I have a feeling there might be something here. Mari-ann is legitimately skeptical but we turn around anyway and look inside the shop. There is nothing. We still try asking the lady who holds the shop if she has anything. She disappears behind the counter and comes back with compatible gas canisters. Our eyes light up to the sound of our growling stomachs. We buy two of them and head back to the car while I jump and dance around in excitement.

We stop by a beautiful lake where we decide to have lunch. It’s all getting so real. We are utterly lost, yet so deeply complete. I have traveled quite a lot but nothing beats getting lost in the wild and engaging with nature. It’s the purest way to falling in love with your solitude and embracing the raw beauty this Earth has to offer. I find myself meditating a lot as I hike mountains and push myself beyond my limits. I cherish every bit of truth and freedom this adventure delivers and reflect on my existence and what it all means.

When I was younger, I thought I knew exactly who I’d become and what I wanted out of life. I had high expectations of myself but I gradually became trapped in them. It was mandatory for me to be happy. I never wanted a prestigious job or a fancy car or a big house. I only ever wanted to feel peace and happiness within my heart. I forgot then it took both sunshine and rain to make a rainbow. Although my complicated childhood led me to grow terrified of the rain, I have finally learned to embrace it. I am thankful for all the times I have collapsed and thought I wouldn’t survive. I am thankful for the pain and the heartbreak and I feel no resentment anymore.

Letting go wasn’t easy. I think we as humans have a tendency to resist whatever is out of our control and bury it inside. I have done a terrific job at shutting down my emotions when I felt they were harming me but the truth is, nothing is more damaging to the human spirit than closing your heart over something. I am finally beginning to see just how badly I have treated myself for things that were out of my control. Things I wish hadn’t happened because they were cruel and unfair. People who have done me wrong and never took responsibility for causing so much pain. I am learning that I no longer have to cling to any of this. I can release all the pain I have built up inside me and choose to experience life with an open heart.

It’s a funny thing, really that it takes standing on the edge of the world at five in the morning to see things clearer. Mari-ann is helping me tremendously, too. She’s not only my hiking companion. She’s the girl with the gigantic heart who writes me letters and sends me handmade postcards and gifts on ordinary days. She’s the person who knows every lyric to every song and sings at the top of her lungs. She makes everything sound melodious and if you ever dare to sing along too and inevitably sound so lousy and off-key, she still encourages you and means every word of kindness she spreads. She holds so much wisdom and beauty inside, which I don’t think she’s even aware of. She’s an absolute treasure of a human being, and this adventure in the wild Norwegian mountains would have never been the same without her.

We hike mountains everyday. We pick up ramblers in the rain. We befriend incredible women at the top of Trolltunga. We make ourselves porridge and cherish the taste of hot almond milk in the morning before we explore waterfalls. We snack on cereal bars and bread and head back into the city whenever we’re out of guacamole. We sing the cheesiest songs on the ferry and drive into the most extraordinary sunsets we have ever been blessed to gaze upon. We chase all the rainbows and cherish every bit of rain in-between. We row on lakes and read in the sun. We pick raspberries and redcurrants everywhere we go and I store them away in my tea mug. We set up our tent in muddy backyards and sleep under the stars. Sometimes, it gets too frosty we have no other choice but to huddle up in the car.

We barely get enough sleep and rarely ever shower but we couldn’t care less. Our mere purpose is to chase the sun each day and let life flow through our bodies. We let go of emotional blockages and allow ourselves to shine. We are excruciatingly alive and it’s all we’ll ever need. On our last day in Norway, we decide we haven’t had enough sweating walking up Preikestolen and Trolltunga so we get ourselves into another crazy intense, endless hike at six in the morning. Soaking up the sunrise, we realize how utterly lost in the wild we are. There are lakes and mountains everywhere around us but no sign of the coast yet. We are trying to make our way to a secret gem located by the sea. It’s only reachable by foot and fraught with pitfalls and our journey is starting to feel hopeless. It’s past midday now and we are on the edge of exhaustion. The only thing that keeps me going at this point is the bread and guacamole in our backpacks.

We finally reach Vetvika in the early afternoon. I get rid of my shoes first but the more I stare at the sea, the more I feel drawn to it. Without hesitation, I remove every single layer of clothing I carry and run into the Nordic sea. I don’t remember whether the water was cold, I only recall feeling exquisitely, supremely alive and hearing my heart pounding from joy. In the distance, I think I catch sight of a woman swimming against the tide. Minutes later, a real mermaid comes up to me and tells me she comes from Bremanger and that she’s been swimming all the way from the village to here. Her spirit is contagious and although we don’t know each other, we find ourselves jumping in the waves and roaring with laughter. Mari-ann is taking stunning polaroids of the surroundings while I bathe my soul in colors and find peace in knowing I am still here. Rainbows truly are worth fighting for, and I’m grateful I’ve remained alive to witness it all.

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