July in Oslo

“We will leave after breakfast,” he said in a half-resigned half-determined tone. I was not sure I believed it; I think he was not convinced himself. The preparations took longer than expected (they always do, what with the last minute additions to the suitcases, searching the cupboards for snacks to take and the pee-or-not-to-pee debate just before leaving…). We kissed goodbye at 11:30am. It took me a while to change my focus from “worry and separation-anxiety” to planning the week that lay ahead, alone in the house. I got over it at 11:32.

I have never liked being alone, though. Whenever I was, I would fill up my time with friends and places to see. I left my place early in the morning and came back late, tired enough to sleep right away. This rhythm kept me from being alone even though there was no one around. I guess in a way I was avoiding being with me. This time is different. I think I missed the person I am or used to be and was happy to meet her again. Anyways, enough with my psychosis: this week is to ENJOY. I plan to stay awake as much as possible to savor every minute of it. After all, I have not done this in 8 years. The weather report promises more sun than I could fit into my phone screen. A good start!

Indeed, it has been sunny and warm all the time. The warmest ever since I moved to Norway. Not only do I get to wake up at 5am in silence, it is also easier to do spontaneous things, like taking my breakfast on the terrace at 5:30am while sun tanning, on a weekday… Did I mention I am not on holiday? I barely believe it.

This is the last week of July, everybody else is still on holiday. I can take the tram, go shopping or go to the gym at rush hour and there will be no one. The city is empty. The tram has A/C so my ride is smooth and relaxed. It is easier to stand the heat in a city like Oslo that has little pollution and lots of green. Not so easy in bigger, more crowded cities.

trikk

I arrive at my desk; the sun comes through the window on the left, warming my left arm. It is hard to look at the screen but I would rather squint for half an hour rather than to take down the curtain. There is no one at the office but a group of students working on a summer project. For a morning person like me, this is like waking up a week before everyone else, and catching up with work at my own pace, while sipping coffee in the sun. Love it 🙂

My favorite part? There is no place I have to be at, at no particular time. I do not have to run after the tram or bus; I walk to and from work seeing things for the first time, even though I take the same path each day. However… – Ehem – even from my Zen cloud of self-development, it is clear to me that I could not do this for long…

Too much peace and quiet…

  • I miss the sound of my colleague’s keyboard, the sudden interruptions, and the pressure of reaching a deadline!
  • The house cracks so much at night that I can’t sleep
  • It’s so warm that working out feels like running around an active volcano
  • It’s so warm I can’t sleep
  • I don’t mind eating alone, but after a while I don’t like it so much…
  • Restaurants are closed, friends are away…. So much for catching up with my social life!

That being said I was happy to rediscover Oslo on my own. I walked the streets of my favorite neighborhoods, I went shopping without stress, I helped tourists… I went to the beach! July is great to experience Norway’s biggest asset: Nature. Of course, the weather helped a lot. beach

…was exactly what I needed!

I discovered that even though I do not like being alone, this experience has been extremely resourcing. There is so much going on all time yet this week has been more relaxing than the two weeks of real holiday I had in the beginning of July.

A holiday should be about clearing your head and reloading, everybody knows that. Yet in practice it’s not so obvious. It is not enough to book a ticket and a hotel, you have to consciously change your mind set to a holiday mode; you have to proactively conduct and control the process of clearing your mind. That means letting go of thoughts that start with “I have to” or “I should”. It’s tough to break thought patterns, they’re addictive. But it is worth it. It’s temporary. And you owe it to yourself.

The most important realization for me was that I don’t have to “leave on holiday” to clear my mind and reload. I was at home, working the whole time. Year after year, we book our summer holiday, assuming that the further we go, the more disconnected we will be. A waste if we don’t manage to disconnect our minds, no matter how far and sunny the destination is. I also used to think that a real holiday is about doing nothing, but as soon as my husband left with the little ones, I started cleaning and tidying up the house. I have done laundry and folding every day and even worked in the garden, something I NEVER do. Having all this time to spend on myself reenergized me. The more I did, the more I wanted to do. I discovered I really like doing these things, when I don’t have to do them (incompatible with our way of life, but interesting to know!).

We should spend more time expressing and analyzing our holiday needs (as a family, as a couple, as an individual) to make sure that these are met. I usually plan holidays based on the requirements and obligations at home. When I analyze my needs, it does not go deeper that “I need a break”. This week happened almost by coincidence yet it was the most rewarding thing ever. Not to mention cheap! Next time I book a holiday, my approach will be different. There will be more focus on individual necessities. Remember that having a proper holiday adapted to your wants and needs is not only a right, it is an individual responsibility! To paraphrase a famous brand: We are all worth it. Enjoy the summer!

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