An Interesting Find, Norwegian history, and Introducing Harold Fairhair…

Finding something thought provoking in an unexpected place…..

One of my favourite pastimes is wandering around antique markets and junk shops. Recently I persuaded himself to come with me and whilst I was off rummaging around the various stalls he went off and looked around the book stall. I was very pleased with my purchases: a tiny silver picture frame with its original photograph of a (possibly) Edwardian lady wearing a very large hat,  a set of retro weighing scales with a bowl large enough for a Cornish cook to put to good use, and a vintage Manchester United Football top, among other things.

Later over coffee,  we discussed our purchases and himself showed me the book he had bought, entitled ‘Nazis in Norway’ by Ake Fen: a small book, rather tatty around the edges but he seemed pleased with it. On closer inspection, we found it had been given out to the British Forces during the second world war; a forces book club had been formed to provide ‘a ration of good reading’ to those members of ‘all units of the British, Dominion and Allied fighting services and the Merchant Navy throughout the world.

As my husband (himself) has Norwegian heritage he soon began reading and before long, became engrossed in this short but fascinating book. Soon he was urging me to read it too.

This book focuses on the war and is very descriptive of the history of the times – and covers the period from the outbreak of WW2 up until 1942.

Before the spring of 1940,  Norwegians had ceased to believe in war as a means of solving international problems as they had not known war for a century. They themselves had felt that ‘nothing in life was worth killing people for, even though they knew of things worth dying for’. It is not that they were indifferent, indeed they felt it too frightful to take in the real meaning. They got on well with all nations, and were dependent on none. They were a free country, and desired to be nothing else.

With great wit and courage, the author describes how his country had to adapt to the conditions of war; how they faced up to the horrors of it, yet retained their dignity and their utter inner disdain for the Nazis and their leader.

But this book is so much more than a history of that time. It is a book about backbone and resilience. It is about courage and standing up for beliefs. It is about a race of people who were ‘born of the sea and not used to softness’, but who had, and still have, an inherent individualism, are fiercely protective of their families and are immensely kind and hospitable  when you get to know them.

The Norwegian people have grounded their views on the philosophy of the individual and Norway’s history shows that this trait in her people has had an influence on her political development. The land was made up of many areas but unified into one kingdom in the ninth century under Harold Fairhair (I just love that name!), but many of those who thereby found their freedom hampered decided to leave rather than kneel to an overlord. And this is something that seems to recur throughout their history; they may have preferred exile to oppression. It did not mean they didn’t love their country, they did; with a love that was an integral part of themselves.

I love my country too, and I am glad that I have taken the time to read this book for it has set an example and reinforced my belief that if we all work together for the common good and stand up to bullying politics we can be united.

This wasn’t really meant to be a blog about war or politics or international relations; it is more to illustrate how something we come across by chance can take us back to the beginning of things; another time or place. It is about that moment when you stumble upon something and you realise you were meant to read it. I love the fact I see some of my families’ traits hidden in those descriptions of their ancestors which were written long ago.

So next time you go to an antiques fair you never know what you might find!

Celebrating Our Uniqueness…

It’s time to stop worrying about being different. If you stick with the crowd you will never stand out….

Most parts of the country will have had some snowfalls by the time you read this. Last week, from the cosy warmth of my living room, I stared out of my window and watched the fat, fluffy snowflakes drifting silently downwards, and I got to thinking about snow, and the beauty and individuality of every single snowflake.

In ice crystals, water molecules line up and form a six-sided shape called a hexagon. This is why all snowflakes are six-sided … Even though two snowflakes may form in the same cloud, their different journeys to the ground will affect their shape and size, giving each snowflake its own unique identity.’
Taken from Wonderopolis.org

Scientists estimate that the chances of two snowflakes being exactly alike are about 1 in 1 million trillion (that’s a 1 followed by 18 zeros). Meteorologists think that there are 1 trillion , trillion, trillion, trillion different types of snowflakes. Imagine that!

I think we can liken ourselves to snowflakes. Ok we are not pretty little icy snowflakes but we are just as unique. If you examine two human fingerprints – again no two are the same. How is that possible in a world of billions of people? It is awe-inspiring to think that we are all completely individual.

I love the above quote from Wonderopolis when it talks about the snowflakes being formed in the same clouds but taking different journeys to the ground. Everyone of us has a journey too and we all live through countless different experiences and ups and downs, loves, losses, failures and winning situations. Each experience we encounter shapes us to some degree and makes us the people we are. An individual like no other.

What does it mean to be individual?

Being an individual takes work and dedication yet if only we would stop and think about it we would remember just how individual we really are. Being individual doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stand out in a crowd, but being a true individual means having the courage of your convictions and not being afraid to veer off the beaten path. Do you find yourself caring about what others think about you? It may be time to put aside those worries. If you obsess over what other people think then you will never to be able to please yourself; remember, it is impossible to please everyone.

Gossip may hurt us. We all have times when we get hurt, but if you hear something said about you that you don’t like, remind yourself that it is likely to have come from an insecure person who is coming from a place of weakness. Everyone gets knocked – even film stars or famous singers you may admire. No one is immune.

Don’t be afraid to be yourself.

Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!
Dr. Seuss

As obvious as it sounds, being an individual means just being you. Not needing to present a front to people. If you show the quirky side of your personality to people they will warm to you. You have no need to present a perfect facade to the world. People are attracted to someone who is a bit different. And most people understand if you are struggling, especially if you admit to being vulnerable. Try opening up and being honest when you are in an anxious situation; admit to someone when you are out of your comfort zone and many times you will be met with sympathy. Often too, people will admit to feeling the same in similar situations. Of course, there are times when it may make sense to conform a little – you would probably present yourself differently to your boss at work than you would to someone at a drinks party. But still, apart from avoiding topics that may be sensitive, it’s good to be yourself and show yourself to be the interesting person you are.

At the same time do not force yourself to be different. Wear what suits you but don’t feel you have to wear super trendy clothes if that’s not your style. Be comfortable with your style. We all know that feeling when you go out wearing something you are not happy with – you can feel out of place all day. You cannot make something right if it doesn’t suit you. If getting a tattoo or changing your hair isn’t for you it doesn’t matter. Being individual comes from inside.

I was brought up to be modest and not to boast about my achievements. Of course, no one is drawn to someone who is too ‘full of themselves’ but at the same time, if you have accomplished something you are proud of, don’t be afraid to mention it. Your skills are part of the person you are.

Build up your confidence.

It took me years to become a confident person. An upbringing where it was important to ‘know our place’ and look up to those deemed to be better than us took years to shrug off. Even now I sometimes find I feel inferior in certain situations. Then I remind myself what a ridiculous and counter-productive feeling that is. I have just as much right to be here and voice my opinion as the next person. A great help in building confidence comes from spending time with the right kind of people. Those who make you feel good about yourself. Also, remembering to use confident body language really helps. Standing upright and looking people in the eye and engaging with them really puts you forward in the best way.

If you are thinking of things in your life you want to change and want to enhance your individuality, perhaps it is the time to think about exploring your creative side or accepting new challenges, or spending time with people you admire. Surrounding yourself with independent thinkers is a great way to start looking at life differently and finding inspiration.
Being comfortable in your own skin.

People who are true individuals just aren’t bothered about what people think about them; they just go through life being happy and comfortable. And if you look comfortable and happy with what you are doing, you are well on your way to gaining the respect you deserve.

So, just like the beautiful snowflake, know that there is literally no one else like you in the whole wide world. Think about this. You don’t have to work at trying to be different, you already are different! No one else has had the same upbringing as you, has the same looks, has had all the same experiences as you or has entirely the same values. No one else sees the world exactly as you do. You can be proud of that fact!

Being authentic

This is something I have had to work on. To be an individual you have to be authentic. You have to say what you feel is right and not what others want you to say. People can spot insincerity a mile off. Being authentic becomes easier the more you try to achieve it. It makes you feel so much better about yourself and the path you are trying to follow in life when you say what you really mean and you stand up for what is really important to you.

Be positive

Be positive whenever you can. Your individual cells will respond far better to good thoughts and feelings from inside you; bad thoughts and bad news from the outside will have a negative effect. We are all bombarded with ‘stuff’ from the media, both good and bad 24/7. Learn to know when to turn off. Turn off and turn away. Yes there are times when we need to be informed but there are also times when we need to say to ourselves that the world can turn without us worrying about it for a day.

Life can be hard at times. We know that. But whatever life throws at you, remember to be like that beautiful, individual snowflake when it makes its own particular journey to the ground – remember to land up in just the place you want to be. Be your own individual self.

Though an ordinary woman, nothing about me is plain; Like a single fingerprint traced in dust, no other is the same.’
                                                  Lyn Halvorsen

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Do you find it hard to be yourself? I would love to hear your comments ❤️.