Category Archives: Sweden

No, Your Hate Won’t Break Our Love

It is unexpressed emotions harboring latent demands for redress which cause violent disruption to society. The seemingly extremes of heinous actions and vitriolic words each casting blame, instead of assuming responsibility and moving positively forward, actually feed eachother to ever escalating destruction. It is in the never ending cycles of human history rife with the absence of hope which manifest anger and discontent and, in some, a call for ‘retribution’. A politician stands up and speaks ‘on behalf of a nation’ with words that only serve to inflame those who hate, and exacerbate the fear amongst the panicked flock who demand a response to their collective fear with demands of isolation, xenophobia, and more brutality.

As Eve Ensler, poet, so perfectly and simply wrote:

“Bullets are hardened tears”.

We must unharden. We must stop the tears and the subsequent bullets and bombs. We must find a way forward between the madness and genius and that fraction of capability to cope with inequities tipping the balance to terrorist actions.

Anger can be a gift that keeps us sane; anger will make us sit-in, go on strike (hunger, walk off our jobs), meditate, light candles, and engage in activism we never imagined embracing fostering beautiful life affirming change. And, just like hundreds of thousands of cherry blossom petals ‘we’, coming together, cast a pink glow over our hurting world.

In various locations in Stockholm statues of St. George figure prominately – in the 12th and 13th centuries his legend came to include the story of a battle with, and victory over, a voracious dragon. In its purest form St. George’s tale is one of good vs. evil, light vs. darkness, life vs. death. Stockholm, Homs, Paris, Zliten, Baghdad, Nice, Kabul, Brussels, Boston, London, New York, Orlando, and sadly many other cities share a pain created in the absence of love. Our responses in each of the tragedies we have borne has been resilience and community.

“Absence is to love what wind is to fire; it extinguishes the small, it inflames the great.” ~ Roger de Rabutin de Bussy

I believe that within us we are both a cherry blossom petal and St. George and the dragon we must slay is hatred, ignorance and fear. We must be kinder, more compassionate, empower not condescend, find a way to ensure hope remains a constant and together build a great reserve of universal love which cannot be extinguished in the name of any God.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via livelikeadog@gmail.com through PayPal, and do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiPlease click here to order my book, thank you! 

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Tethering our lives to love

It might seem hard to process the concept of being grateful for starting your day in tears. To feel something, anything, so keenly that the only possible response is a clench of your throat, Staples-Mill-Pond-Dam-Break-2-bigfollowed by the flooding of your eyes where salted droplets spill as over a millpond dam. I am not particular in how this happens – only that it does. To feel this alive in sadness, in humility, in joy, in reverence, in gratitude, my truth is that I write best when I am so filled with emotion that the only outlet, after the tears have dried, is my keyboard.

I have been bouncing the concept of tethering around for a couple of days but suddenly it was the bonds of an impossible-to-hold-in-your-hand love that proved to be the greatest measure of tethering.  Tether is an Old Norse word. Traditionally, tether meant a rope, chain, or similar which binds an animal to a fixed object so as to limit its range of movement but it can also mean the utmost extent or limit of one’s ability, endurance or resources. It’s been commandeered by the tech community to refer to connecting one mobile device to another (such as phone to a laptop) to share the Internet connection of one with the other so as to sync mobile tethercontent and actions between the devices either by a wireless LAN (local area network) such as a Wi-Fi or by physical means such as a cable through USB ports. This post about tethering is not about technology… nor is it about animal husbandry, but it is about connection –establishing it, maintaining it and pushing the boundaries of our conceived endurance to be something more.

In just sixteen days I leave the (rather dull) surety of my life of the last six years for something unknown. To be honest the last six years have been the longest I have lived in any single place since marrying out of my childhood home 30 years ago. I am more gypsy than anything and Gypsybeing so planted has caused me to chafe just as any animal would tethered to a fence or a building.  It is a test of my endurance, my abilities and certainly my ability to perform superhuman (all legal) financial machinations, to do this. There is ABSOLUTELY no safety net (though I have listed my apartment on AirBnB and am selling some of my possessions on eBay in hopes of offsetting my collective expenses).  While I have leapt into the void in response to being pulled toward Croatia, I know that whatever awaits me is going to be trans-formative. That’s a good thing, to keep expanding and not to contract into some ever smaller portion of myself where fear rules and which can happen far too easily as we get older. But this action of mine is accompanied by a confluence of apprehension and exhilaration – the Swedes (bless them) have a word for this – Resfeber. With resfeber comes a totally illogical and travel anticipationunexpected need for ‘tethering’ myself with the familiarity of my pantry found in the packing of a duffle bag filled with teabags, Aztec Elixir Vosges drinking chocolate, dark Chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, golden flax seeds, Odwalla Superfood Bars and a long discontinued, exquisitely scented candle (I admit to hording three of these from when they were reasonably priced) from the defunct Henry Slatkin & Co. It’s utterly insane as intellectually I know that foodstuffs are only too easily available to purchase, Split being one of Croatia’s major urban areas as well as having immediate access to the harvest that can be found from the sea literally 50 metres from the apartment I am renting. It is because I currently can’t read more than a half dozen words in Croatian and none of them relates to food that I have taken this action – a safety net of sustenance until I can purchase honey, olive oil, yogurt, butter, flour, sugar and fresh vegetables. Some part of me feels weak to need this tether  yet every nomad has carried provisions with them against uncertainty for tens of thousands of years.  I am managing resfeber with my tether of comfort – uniting the woman that I am in this moment and who I will become beginning the afternoon of the 6th of November – much as a child clings to its softie or binkie.

Earlier this morning the source of my tears was a video posted by a friend on her Facebook wall for two of her friends. Facebook (despite all the less than ethical machinations of the company) has developed something truly beautiful, likely on the success realised by Upworthy, called Facebook Stories. In this video (originally posted on Vimeo) a woman in São Paulo befriends a man who had been homeless for 35 years; a man, who but for the grace of God, who could be any of us. A man who bent by life still had the discipline to write his poetry every single day; this, kindness (2)perhaps more than the happy ending this woman brought about by her acts of compassion and kindness is what made me cry.  Our greatest selves are realised only in the extension of, being a vessel for, the amplification of the universal energy commonly known as love. His words expressed, her energies to empower those words. The connection to one another possible through social media that fostered a real community of support and an endless cascade of tears thousands of miles away; the pebble in the pond manifest, tethering ourselves to another (or a vast unknown collection of others) energetically.  We do as we have been done for – the coding of our DNA and the memories housed within the epigenetics of who we all are, our expectations, our will to survive or to create or to provide comfort it’s all “there” within each of us waiting to be connected, tethered to the rest of humanity. We can be envious, resentful and mean or we can take pleasure from the fact that what we give, who we are, is part of an endless ripple of love.

Friends have suggested that I am leaving them while also cheering my ‘bravery’ for doing this Croatian rentalwithout a plan, this action of mine isn’t either – it simply ‘is’. Life is shortened by each passing day – it is our duty to live it fully whilst we have power to do so, to embrace impermanence with passion and commitment. The recent death of the younger brother of my friend Deborah and  the discovery that both of my parents have been diagnosed with cancer served as the catalyst for booking my ticket. The 2″ square box of my parent’s entire lifetimes chafes at me even though we have not had contact in more than a decade of years. Facing such I recognised that I need to live more fully again. I also need to write again. Not sporadically but wholly committed to six to eight hours a day, every day for 88 days. My second book has no definition as yet but I know I will find it in salty tears at the edge of the Adriatic and the unexpected (but most welcome) kindnesses of people met as a result of social media who have become integral to my journey in this lifetime.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Exploring relationship compatibility

I believe that the structure of any relationship, of establishing trust, of migrating toward rather than pulling away from another is based upon tiny imperceptible nuances of behavior as well as ‘acceptable’ standards. Some people just ‘fit’ together with ease, others find a way of working through to meet someplace in the middle, some compromise better than others. Still, there is the level of self-esteem we cultivate within us which tends to set the bar a bit higher (hopefully) for people entering our lives. I do not believe that culture or religion or geography or age have so much to do with this as the individuals involved – a natural harmony that is easy to feel as well as to recognise in its absence.

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Gustavian-style five arm chandelier – click to reach my Pinterest.

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Click to reach my Pinterest

It’s no secret that I aspire to make a move to Sweden.  As a quasi-realist I recognise the total impracticality of shipping 30 years of my worldly possessions via slow boat and then being hit with any related import duties on my fantastic collection of 18th and 19th century antiques.  No, I am selling most of this before leaving the States.  Given the wonders of the Internet I am able to poke around Stockholm online to source ‘replacements’.  I am currently nominally sick to my stomach over my inability to have negotiated the purchase of two such pieces – one, a slightly damaged (could always be restored) Gustavian-style five arm (non-electrified) chandelier and the other, a very practical, early 19th century bracket foot English mahogany butler’s writing bureau with the original brasses and key!  As anyone could see from the photos, even without knowledge of my specific decorating aesthetic, these two pieces would have been amazing in the same room, my living room ‘to be’ in Stockholm.  In the United States, specifically Boston or NYC, these two pieces combined would have a retail cost someplace considerably north of $10,000 (as I discovered a nearly identical chandelier is priced at $28,500! at Belevdere Antiques they also have a similar writing bureau in stock though it is Swedish); yet their final combed price with 22% auction commission and a ‘whatever fee’ of $60 USD each would have brought their grand total to $364.50 USD.  Yes, you read quite correctly, THREE HUNDRED, SIXTY-FOUR DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS. Now, some of you antique freaks are likely screaming at your computer monitor “WTF! WHY DIDN’T YOU BID??” let me explain. For starters to bid it was requisite to have a Swedish social security number, which I wouldn’t have been able to secure in time for the ending time this afternoon and their offices were closed when I discovered the auction late yesterday and so would have been impossible to come up with a Plan B; the second half of the reason has more to do with my opening paragraph.

You see I DID actually reach out to a man in Sweden that I had met through OKCupid some months ago and with whom there has been a very nice dialogue. He has done some remarkably thoughtful things (such as sharing advertisements for jobs) so I asked him if he would do this favour for me, and in exchange, as he is recently divorced, he could use the bureau until such time as I got myself to Stockholm. It was a practical, logical solution in which everyone would win – and he could have been a hero to me.  To be fair, I proposed the structure of this be such that gave him the amounts I could spare for each item and even strategically framed the “how to” to improve my chances of success. I figured out what I could afford, plus the fees, and gave him the amount and told him that I would transfer the funds to him via PayPal IMMEDIATELY at the close of the auction.

My rationale in purchasing these being that I was going to need a place to write, to store some of my clothes and, for romantic evenings cooking and cuddling with my potential lover that a chandelier with candles was going to be incredibly ‘practical’.  But, despite that I am so transparent, and that this lovely man seemed very interested in exploring some kind of a relationship with me, something was off in his willingness to do ‘my bidding’ as it were. I don’t think it is being American or being Swedish, and I would like to believe that it wasn’t even about the time involved or the technical logistics of my transferring the money, but I am sure it is about trust.  Trust cuts both ways. From my perspective to prove I trusted him enough to assist with my migration, I was willing to hand over the money “in good faith” in advance of actually having physical possession so that he would assume zero financial exposure. I figured in the event that he absconded with the chandelier and the bureau, it would be relatively inexpensive in contrast with something potentially much more costly later on.  But the Skype dialogue made it quickly clear that this wasn’t within his comfort zone. He wasn’t inclined to bid on the pieces without my arranging the money to be sent to him in advance, (as if I had a crystal ball to determine what the end bid would be and the amount I would owe him) and, as he doesn’t have a PayPal account, I couldn’t even (easily) transfer the funds to him post auction; a logistics nightmare.

I have to recognise that when it comes to extending ourselves for other people, or levels of trust, that not everyone is easy with entangling their lives with others to the same degree I am.  There will be other auctions, and other chandeliers and desks and chests of drawers and carpets and art to decorate my new home and I just have to let go of the ones that got away.  (Though my frustration at not ‘getting the look’ for a pittance borders on apoplectic.) I also came to realise two other things from this experience – that although damn inconvenient to live minimally again once I arrive in Sweden, as with most of my life, I need to do these things myself and, this man is so clearly not the right man for me.

Dear Sweden, Hej Sverige:

Dear Sweden/ Hej Sverige:

“I want to go home!” I hear it daily – the whine, the pleading, I feel the insistence that issues forth from my garage and burrows into my psyche that he, born of jets, misses Imagethe land of his birth.

What I have felt at a cellular level, the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) has confirmed; that in terms of ‘happiness’ my co-habitation with you would be one of synergy.  There are, perhaps, a thousand reasons why it makes perfect sense for us to passionately embrace the other but to earn your reciprocity and an invitation Sverige I will confine myself to a handful.

First, how many people wishing to make Sweden their home actually enjoy cold weather more than hot? I mean R-E-A-L-L-Y  P-R-E-F-E-R spending six to eight months out of the year in a wool sweater drinking hot chocolate instead of donning a bathing suit and sipping drinks with parasols and fruit sticking out of the top of their glass?

Second, especially important to our relationship working at every level, I am just as nice and happy as your 9.5 million citizens. HONEST! I have even written a book about happiness and mindfulness that has some lovely reviews (considering how few people take the time to say thank you, let alone write a personal note of gratitude these days that’s saying something!).

Let’s be practical here. In a country where quality of life ranks so high there are nearly 100,000 more single men than available women.  OKCupid’s metrics indicate that Sweden is one of my five ‘hot countries for finding love’ – that I could become the source of further happiness for one man seems of considerable benefit not only to ‘us’ but Swedish society on the whole. I already love the ideology grounded in Swedish culture, your history of innovation and your antiques, practice your example of hot baths and cold plunge, and, swoon at the sheer scope of your physical beauty, why not a tall Viking man to cap it off?

Third, mutual emphasis on integrity (see honest!! above, you might want to my read book). Now this is important – why would I want to live anywhere that had corruption tied to it? When I make a promise I keep my promise – my word is my troth. Life is just too short to be looking over your shoulder and wondering who is going to fleece your pockets (okay, well you do seem to have a little problem with rent gouging and so forth in the ‘staden inom tullarna’ areas of Stockholm but it’s almost excusable given how very pretty your very old city is). On the whole Swedes aren’t just happy they are ethical, integrity is something we can all do more with – don’t you think?

Fourth, as a woman ‘of a certain age’ I am not going to have children so your generous policy of maternity leave is not going to be needed. Maybe someone else can use my allocation? (See? I told you I was nice!)

ImageWhilst seemingly unrelated, my 1989 Saab 900T convertible “Duncan” is kind of like a colicky baby and can be a little demanding and seriously high maintenance – but, you knew that already (see opening sentence).  Overall he is an 11 (that’s him in the picture) so you can see that he’d only further enhance how handsome your country is, the land of his birth, it’ll sure be easier for me, his mommy, to get spare parts for him there then it currently is. He thinks it would totally rock to take a long boat ride ‘home’!! I don’t think seasickness is going to be an issue for him as he’s handled multiple ferry boat crossings on Long Island Sound with ease; how can I deny him such a grand adventure?

Fifth, as an award-winning marketing communications professional (largely in emerging technologies but also, more recently, as a social entrepreneur) I am capable of adding to your economy – not placing a drain on it. MarComm people are behind the scenes folks, most of us loathe being in the spotlight. Since I am accustomed to making other people look good this (hopefully) negates the inherent American tendency of ‘taking up a little more space’ than anyone else (least of all a Swede) and be assured I take up far less than the average American. I give more than I take, am VERY GOOD at playing nice in the sandbox, sharing my (most of) toys, not screaming “look at me, look at me!” or having a tantrum when I don’t get my own way (unlike the sulking that Duncan periodically exhibits).

I understand that your population is largely multilingual but I believe in assimilation so I PROMISE to learn Swedish. Acquaintances in Stockholm have indicated it’ll be a lot easier if I am there and are confident that immersion will make me fluent within 3 months.

And, if someone will let me, I am a ferocious gardener of some talent – give me a go at some related volunteer project and we’ll both be very pleased.

ImageAs refugee status generally isn’t accorded to Americans, I need to find a turnkey solution (a job, contractor role with working papers) that would allow me to PROVE my worthiness of becoming a Swede over the next three years. With all this in mind, Poolia just re-posted their search for an experienced head of communications (erfaren kommunikationschef) for the Nobelmuseet for which I had previously applied – as your most highly regarded musical export, ABBA, perfectly expressed – “take a chance on me”!

With much affection and a hopeful heart,

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