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Dream Team

`The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.´- Babe Ruth

Picture by Coach Jan Tore Stø

Dana Cup

With the exception of the Copenhagen Airport during layovers, I have never been to Denmark.

So, when Esten´s soccer team signed themselves up for Dana Cup, a week long soccer tournament, I became excited!

Dana Cup claims to be one of the biggest and most prestigious soccer tournaments in the world, and takes place in Hjørring, Denmark.

And since I have never been there I showed up with a list of MUST DOs.

Most important for me was to take a day trip to see some of the German bunkers that are now washing up from their hiding places in the sand and are slowly eroding out to sea.

And thank goodness we arrived a day before the tournament began to experience the history, and the uncommonly good weather.

We ate the famous Skagen Salad,

and marveled at the sight of two seas coming together in Grenen.

Then we found our way home to our tiny ocean front cabin, where we discovered many of our neighbors to be vacationing German parasailers.  So cool to watch!

Our view:

We took our bikes and loved how flat Denmark is compared to Norway! Biking in Norway is not for the gear-less beach bikes from my childhood!

The next morning we went to Esten´s first scheduled soccer game, a game in the qualifying round against a Frankfurt, Germany team, and our boys lost.

It was clear they were nervous. They have never played in such a big tournament before and it showed.

Ironically, at the end of the game one of the the German trainers approached the parents and trainers of the Lillehammer, Norway team. Evidently, he felt our team was special and particularly difficult to beat!?!

ANYWAY…If and when they lose out of the tournament, my itinerary of things to see and do in Denmark for the rest of the week was ready.

But, after the qualifying round, THE DREAM TEAM CONTINUED TO WIN!

And wow was it exciting….

I began to text updates to Dad in LA (Lower Alabama). He was on the edge of his seat til the final second.

We ended up watching a LOT of soccer, and seeing very little Denmark.

NRK 1 news showed up and filmed the games so all of Norway could follow along on the nightly news. Other teams and coaches started showing up to watch our games, and the boys were beside themselves.

You could see our coaches were having a difficult time hiding their excitement as well.

Anyway, our thirteen year olds, made it to the finals of The Dana Cup!

A pretty big crowd showed up for the rainy 10:00 am final game on Saturday morning to see Norway vs Mexico.

We could see our guys warming up on a practice field in the background, then they disappeared into the locker room.

The official introduced the Lillehammer team first, and the boys nervously paraded onto the field. They were stretching and bouncing around like they had ingested too much sugar.


to everyone´s surprise, there was an announcement that Mexico had booked their return flights the day before due to a scheduling misunderstanding!

You should have seen the looks on the boy´s faces when it finally became clear that they had just won The Dana Cup for 1012!

YouTube Promotional Video of The Dana Cup

Meeting The Neighbors

The wretched sound of our antique doorbell startled me.

It is missing it´s metal bell cover, and sounds like an old, broken, wind-up, alarm clock.

I find the sound  more irritating than fingernails scraping down a chalkboard.

When I answered the door,

A tiny bald man stood there smiling, and in perfect English  asked, `Are those Toll House cookies I smell?´

`Yes,´ I responded, and  a sense of calm descended upon me.

I then questioned, `Are you American?´

`My name is Tom, and I´m from Oregon.  Your husband asked me to cut down your trees.´

`Oh that´s right! I had forgotten.´

And then…

with the use of chains, a crane, a tractor, and of course a chainsaw,  Tom and Dream Baby cut down 15 trees.

That´s right, Fifteen!

Five Burch, seven apple, 2 Spruce, and some giant weed thing.

Doing so captured the attention of the neighborhood, and drew quite the crowd.

Many looked skeptical, but no one complained to our faces.

Our children and my in-laws found our adventurous day as interesting as the neighbors, but it was Dream Baby that got the most excited when Tom yelled,

`You got anything valuable in that garage?´

`It´s not mine! Hold on!´

Dream Baby ran to the only neighbor not outside witnessing the great clearance, and then I notice a pristine sports car quickly back out of the garage in question.

The ginormous Burch tree came down, and thank goodness there was no damage to the neighbor´s garage. But our yard was a mess!

Whew, what a way to meet the neighbors!

I nervously asked one elderly onlooker for her thoughts, and she sweetly responded,

`It´s reminiscent of the day I moved into this neighborhood, over sixty years ago. I like it.´

But the next day, the local newspaper read, Where will all the birds live?

If you missed the first part of this story, you must read On Foreign Ground!

Stay tuned for EXTREME RENOVATION posts!

A Passionate Fling with Yogic Desire

David Swenson and I between classes.

It should be mentioned that it has been over twenty years since I was first seduced by yoga. It was a romantic fling that began with Iyengar, where my yoga virginity was gently taken upon a colorful handmade cotton mat. And with the help of bolsters, belts, chairs, and blocks, I gained experience in patience and technique through the use of my body and drishti (focal point, intelligence and wisdom).

Then I fell head over heels for Bikram, a hot and strong class that was a force that overtook me like a bad addiction. Bikram has the ability to change everything. He has a way of making you crazy, and will leave you lying on the floor dripping wet, exhausted, and wanting more.

Unfortunately, a sudden move caused a painful break-up between Bikram and I. Things do happen for a reason, and looking back, I understand now that I wasn’t ready for such an affair. I was rushing, and needed to slow down. Bikram was too young and egotistical for me, at the time, but I desperately hope to bump into him again someday.

An older and wiser Hatha class in my new home town served as a temporary bandage for my broken heart. This slow and nurturing classic was as therapeutic as a trip home. However, it wasn´t too long after my introduction to Hatha that I met Energy Yoga, a vinyasa class based on Ashtanga. I had no idea what Ashtanga was, but it was invigorating, and seemed to satisfy me more than the classic classes; yet, something was missing.

I started studying Ashtanga on my own, and applying the tips and tricks I had absorbed spongelike from books, DVDs, and YouTube to the led vinyasa classes I was attending. The sweat I had been missing from Bikram returned, stirring passion once again.

About a year later, my virtual guru David Swenson and his wife Shelly Washington came to Oslo to teach a course. Nothing could keep me from attending, and the result was insanely emotional. David and Shelly leavened my infatuation which gave rise to love. Through flow and flight, they inverted my senses and encouraged me to become more serious about my personal yoga practice. But I still felt empty.

Years of studying and practice go by, and I notice the thing I am desperately awaiting begins to slowly appear. Like blurry letters coming into focus, I see the answer becoming clear. It isn´t the excitement of passion I am missing, it is the commitment.

Yoga isn´t training. It is a way of life. And although I have heard and read this repeatedly, the ah-ha moment took it’s sweet time meandering through my super-thick layer of denial.

This realization prompts the weight to shift on my mental pendulum. And before charting a course through troubled waters, a sense of calm descends. I am ready.

For more Goodness and Grit yoga posts read:  Extreme Yoga Under the Influence of Gold

Morning Bliss

The crunch of snow beneath my feet,
the lap of waves against the shore,
the tingle of blood in circulation,
my pounding heart rate dramatically soars.
The ice cold water against my skin,
the total darkness surrounding friends,
the breath of fog rising up,
invigorates more
than coffee from a cup.

February 2013- picture in the Lillehammer Community Calendar

On Foreign Soil

Eight years ago:

The last evening in front of our home in Franklin, TN. June 2004

And then…

24 or so hours later:

I stood there in shorts, a golf shirt, and flip-flops dumb founded.

Jet lagged, holding a baby on my hip like a sack of potatoes, as a preschooler and a 2nd grader clung to my legs and made standing a challenge.

I was feeling as if I had just been smacked in the head with a snowball.

It was a cold day in June, and all my winter clothes were in one of two 44 ft containers floating somewhere in the Atlantic. This Florida girl had NO IDEA a summer morning could be in the 30s.

Thank goodness I brought all the children´s clothes!

Seventeen years prior, when Dream Baby proposed, he amended the proposal with,

`You can live in Norway can´t you?´

“Of course!” I answered.

I had never been to Norway.

In fact, I had never been outside the states.

The thought, a scene from a Disney animation, sounded like an adventure.

It would be fun and exciting!

But I didn´t really believe the day would come that we would move out of the country.

After all we were living the American Dream, perfectly happy, right there where we were.

My father-in-law´s Parkinson’s diagnosis prompted Dream Baby and I to purchase a property in Lillehammer, his home town, site unseen. That´s after living happily in the states for nineteen years.

The first time I saw our new home was four months prior to moving when we traveled over to sign the closing papers. The blanket of snow, and leafless trees were a bit deceiving.

February 2004

Our new home was built in the 1800s, had not been renovated since the early seventies, and had spent most of modern time rented out to college students.

It had an earth cellar that I was certain contained dead people.

There was a separate garage barely big enough for a lawn mower, much less anything I have ever driven, and was smack in the middle of this cultured, yet sleepy little town of 27,000 people.

Standing there looking at it for the second time, across a field of gravel and through a forest of trees, I wanted to cry, but didn´t dare.

Our new home hidden behind the trees.

I cut my eyes to Dream Baby and he snickered as he said, `Trust me, you are going to love it here.´

I responded as a train went by, `Yes! It´s getting more charming by the second.´

We walked inside.

There were cork floors, some of which had been painted with dark green paint.

One room had old hardwood floors and an original fireplace,

the bedrooms had wall to wall carpet.

Did I mention the ceiling tiles?

Did you notice the ventilation system to the right of the window above?

Every room of the tiny house was a completely different color.

The kitchen was two-toned.

I felt as though I had too much coffee.

It was a case of traditional Norwegian gone psychedelically bad.

Someone named Berit had scribbled her name childlike all over the walls.

Numbness began to overtake my brain as I noticed the white kitchen appliances yellowed from years of cigarette smoke.

I wondered if I had bitten off more than I could chew.

The two bedroom, one and a half bathroom house had seven sinks.


Ok, so the five of us would not be fighting over where to brush our teeth.

I heard Dream Baby asking the seller, `Have you really parked a car in that garage?´

The Detached Garage

I made my way upstairs and walked out onto a tiny balcony off the smallest bedroom,

and through a forest of ancient birch, spruce, and apple trees I found relief.

A slight hint of a water view.

Dream Baby walked up behind me and with a hug said, `Those trees will be gone tomorrow.´

I scanned the perimeter of of the half acre yard and counted seven houses adjoining the property, and couldn´t help but wonder which neighbor would be most pissed off.

Stay tuned for Meeting the Neighbors……..