My home is my castle

I join the many that believe that life only gets better as we grow older. With age, we get to know ourselves and our place in the world. These things have to do with inner values and our sense of purpose in life. Sometimes they also materialize into the things we do and surround ourselves with, so they become an expression of who we are.

In 2017 I became the sole owner of my house. For the first time in my life I have my very own mortgage 😊 This apparently simple action is the culmination of decades of consistent hard work to become financially self-sufficient. To me it symbolizes my independence and freedom and it gives me a sense of pride. And on a practical level, it provides me and my children with a safe base where we can rest, love and thrive.

We have lived in Jonstrup, in the municipality of Furesø om the Copenhagen area for seven years now. It’s a typical Danish middle class neighborhood. What makes it particularly attractive is the proximity to Søndersø lake, the woods of Jonstrup Vang, and the former Værløse military airport which is now turned into recreational grounds. There is plenty of nature right outside our doorstep. It’s 25 minutes by car or train to downtown Copenhagen. And in our case, it is also very conveniently close to the kids schools and their dad.

I love this area and my house fits me like a glove. It is light, functional and there is enough space for a family living together and for having a bit of privacy too, which is something to appreciate in a household with a couple of teenagers. My home is unpretentious on the outside but high quality of life on the inside. It does not promise more than it delivers. What you see is what you get. Strong structure built with cement blocks, but flexible on the inside so it can adapt to changing needs.

It sits in the middle of a row of three, which also provides me with a sense of security, having neighbors to both sides.

As a child, I moved a lot. My dad had a bit of a home neurosis and was always searching for the next best thing. It did not help things when my parents divorced. I stopped counting how many homes I had lived in or been a guest at. As an adult, I wondered whether I had the same bug as my dad. Maybe not as big a bug.

In my 21 years in Denmark I have had 5 homes, so on average I have moved every 4 years. Which in itself makes my current home a record breaker, as I have lived here over 7 years.

This house has grown on me to the point of symbiosis, we take care of one another. I hope we will have many years together. I feel like staying here. At home.

#homeiswheretheheartis

Time to speak up

You…Yes, you! I want to ask you something…

Have you ever been with close friends and felt left out or ignored as you were talking?

Have you ever been in a group of 3 and felt there was some underlying competition to get “the preferred friend’s favor”?

Have you ever had a friend visiting and felt exhausted when he/she left? Or did you feel saddened by your friend’s comments about you or your loved ones?

Did you ever feel bad about yourself after your boyfriend told you that you are always moaning? Or when he means to be supportive by directing you?

If you can relate to any of these situations, you might be like me. Too eager to please and be liked. Not speaking up when it hurts, just to avoid potential conflict or an unpleasant situation. Insecure, vulnerable. Programmed with “Have to behave, have to be good. Must not disappoint.” So much so that you take all kinds of crap for too long with a smile and a brave face.

Well, the blessing of being over 40 should be that I officially can no longer afford to waste my time and energy. I have gone into the second half and every minute is precious. I have earned my right NOT to give a toss. I can say: this is who I am, and you don’t have to be here if you don’t like it.

Why is it so difficult to speak up then? To say: I am talking and you don’t listen, your comment hurt me, please don’t patronize me, please don’t tell me what to do.

I think in my case it’s bad habits. Like the habit of believing what others think rather than believing in myself. Accommodating others’ needs before my own. Fearing painful confrontations.

Relationships are my true north. I am blessed with great friendships and a large family. However anything won’t work, I want quality rather than quantity. I’ll choose more carefully where to pour my time and love, and will avoid draining situations as much as possible.

And I’ll try to speak up more, because true friendship and love is built on trust and not on fear.

Bats (II)

The little creatures have been located today. One quick look and the specialist told me where and how they had built their nest in my roof over the balcony. 

We have a plan to encourage them to find another place to reside. By start September, the Specialists will carefully go through and close the small holes on the roof with particular attention to the angles joining roof and wood, they will close the holes in the insulation, etc. Then they will install a small conduct that allows the bats to come out of the nest, but prevents them from re-entering. I am told that the whole process of emptying the nest will take about a month, so hopefully the bats will be gone elsewhere by the first week of October. 

However, the conduct stays until may next year just to be on the safe side.

I did purchase a spray with some liquid that is supposed to stink badly to bats and would be sufficient to get them to move away. I have decided not to use it though, firstly I might just push them further into the roof, secondly this will be a 100% friendly eviction, no molestation involved. 

Most likely the little Gremlins will find another way into our roofs next spring anyway. All they need is 0,5 cms. So I just need to ensure there is no entrance to my roof. 

My house sits in the middle of a row of 3, I have neighbors to each side of me. So ideally we would join efforts to secure all 3 houses, so as to avoid moving the bats from one house to the next, which does not solve the issue of excrements and dead bat youths on our balconies around July. 

It seems that I am the only interested party in bringing a professional in to do the job and that my neighbors would rather DIY, which is fine too. There are economic options, like establishing a net that will prevent bats from getting in. I get anxious just by thinking of standing on a ladder on the balcony and installing the net myself, so this is definitely something I’d happily delegate.

I’m told bats are more scared of me than I am of them, but I sincerely doubt that 😊I’m sure they are harmless enough if you disregard things like rabies or parasites or their toxic excrements, but I am not keen on putting my hand anywhere near a bat’s nest. 

I am hoping that living here will gradually make me  more comfortable with nature’s small creatures, but must concede that there is some way to go… I still have to ask my daughter to remove spiders for me 😁

Bats (I)

We have returned home after the summer break to find that a colony of bats has found residence in our roof over the balcony!

Bats are a protected species in Denmark and cannot be exterminated. They can be encouraged to move somewhere else from end August to mid-September but only through natural means and without force.

I should probably tell now that I am a born and raised city girl and have major rodent/bat/large insects-phobia.

We moved out of the city when we got kids and now live 25 minutes from the center of Copenhagen in a large green area close to both lake and woods. I have gradually learned to cope with things about nature that provoke my anxiety and have become a bit more relaxed over the years. My kids will tell you that I am obsessed about tics and wasps among others. “You can take the girl out of the city but you can’t take the city out of the girl”, or something like that anyway.

We have dealt with a few minor insect plagues but nothing like bats before. I am still trying to talk myself into opening the balcony door, and step out to remove hundreds of bat droppings on the floor, walls and windows.

I have called a specialist and he will explain what can be done and what it costs, but if we locate them in the roof as I fear, this will be a lengthy effort and it won’t be cheap.

We have so far counted 4 dead bat youths, 1 on the balcony and 3 on the terrace below. I am hoping that they were just temporary residing here and that there was not enough food to make our place attractive as a permanent home.

To be continued…

Walking in Donostia

I knew that I wasn’t moving, and I knew something had to be done about it. A quick look at the Health app on my phone reveals that I sometimes walk less than 500 meters in one day. It’s appallingly little physical movement in a day typically consisting of many hours sitting in front of my computer and driving back and forth to the office. 

This is in no way the life I want to lead, so I had a goal to walk everyday during our vacation in San Sebastián (also known as Donostia in Euskera or Basque language)

I’m happy to report that I walked on average 10 kilometers daily during my vacation. This was a great start, and I am hoping that I can keep myself committed to moving daily when work starts again on Monday. 

How I will fit that commitment into a busy day I’m not quite sure yet, but I know that none other than I can make it a priority to take care of my body. I feel better about myself when physically active and that is its own reward.

Mental Health awareness

A couple of posts about mental health awareness caught my attention this week. 

The first was a FB friend’s petition to copy and paste a mental health awareness post on our wall to show support. 

The second was a tweet from an American employee that had taken a couple of days off work for mental health issues and was congratulated by her CEO for doing so. 

As the CEO expressed, in 2017 and with 1 out of 6 Americans on medication for mental health reasons, we have to acknowledge the need for downtime and recovery, especially in economies increasingly consisting of knowledge workers. 

I am happy to see that (work) culture is evolving towards breaking down the barriers and stigmatization of mental illness. I hope it may become as socially acceptable to have a mental breakdown as having cancer or broken legs. I wish the levels of support, empathy and compassion were the same whatever the nature of the illness. 

Many of us are no strangers to this and have seen or experienced the difficulties, judgement and social isolation that is often connected to mental illness. 

Hopefully by raising awareness and sensitivity around mental health issues, we will all become better at reaching out and helping each other upwards and onwards instead of building a wall around the uncomfortable and the different. 

2017 Returns

2017 has brought so many blessings to my life already! It feels like a luscious harvest of all kinds of beautiful fruits after years of draught and poor crops, disappointments and hunger. 

There is so much joy in following our own hearts, not compromising our core values, living in harmony with what we believe is important, standing up for ourselves. 

Somehow we need to be prepared to lose everything and start from scratch, in order to set ourselves free to lead the life we really want. 

What is the life I really want? It is actually what I already have. The health, the family and friends, the job. Everything that disturbs that will be avoided. Everything that adds on top of that will be the icing on the cake. 

The misery of being half a human being and not being able to be myself is over. I feel like shouting from the top of a mountain: Halleluya! I am FREE!