Nine Months into the Process

Posted by on October 5, 2012 in Blog, Lessons From Abroad | 2 comments

Nine Months into the Process

It’s been awhile folks. Lessons from abroad.

When my plane landed at Heathrow, most of you were there with me (virtually) as the ground moved and I hugged the woman I had never met in 3D, but would soon become my wife.

You were there with me that week on the boat as we navigated life without technology, without much food on the boat or even changing clothes for that matter…as the weather that week was gnarly, to say the least.  You were all there, with us…

I had a bag packed with some clothes for the boat, some for our time in clubs in London the last three days of that trip, but we didn’t make it to London.  Too many incredible experiences that first week.  That part of the story is well told, and we knew that our life on that narrow boat with no TV, no distractions, small spaces, intense weather that changed by the day and a seamless energy of figuring out how the canal and lock system worked together would define our existence.

This was the beginning…this theme is as true then as it is today.  My wife and I married less than 3 months from my arrival in Norway where I landed on a tourist visa, with nothing known for sure, except that in the depth of our eyes we knew before that hug we had found the one, we had found the eyes we had searched for our whole life.

Today on a bike road into Stromstad, I had a lot of time to think and some of the freshest air and most beautiful scenery in the world.  It’s been a rainy September and today, just three days into October, the sun decided to shine at the exact moment I had our visit home girl picked up and the horse stables tended to and decided to make the 25 kilometer ride into town to see Sunniva as she was getting off work.

If you travel to Norway or Sweden, I highly suggest the summer season (unless you are a skier and then it’s some of the best in the world) because it’s as mild, wet, green, and lush as you could imagine. With the backdrop of the fjords it’s awe-inspiring.   I have shots from some trail runs and hikes where the pictures don’t look real; the moss is so vivid, the mushrooms so bright and large, full of colors and textures. It feels more like you’ve dropped into some type of magical land, down some kind of rabbit hole.

Since the wedding, my wife and I have spent a few weeks in the US and done more soul searching than most couples SHOULD DO in a lifetime…. LOL. I say, should do, because in my observation and psychological insights it’s not healthy for everyone to go that deep.  You need two willing people, with the capacity and desire to examine flaws, to stay respectful, and remain humble along the way of deep internal analysis and healing.

It’s a journey into dark lands that scare most away, and it should, but like the best fantasy movie you can imagine out today, there is a climax, there is light through those trees. More on this later…

The idea of groups hit me about 5 kilometers in.  I have gone through many phases in my life in terms of “groups.” Social systems if you will.  From the spelling bee kids that traveled around together on buses when we were in elementary (same friends and I won each year and got to travel together, all of these friends by the way are some of my closest in life, over 30 years later) to the driven athlete who would spend more hours with my basketball than I can hardly fathom. Watching TV at night, I would lie on my back and work on the roll off of my fingers to get the release perfected.  Perfection I was after.  Life is about continuing to swing the bat, or practice those free throws. Rituals right…life is so much about rituals. (Tying this together later) It would be dark and I’d have to get called in by my mom to eat supper.  With no brothers or sisters, that basketball court was my sanity.

From there you move through academics, then apathy towards academics, girls, parties, and the era of just discovering who you are and rebelling a bit against some of the conformity you were around.

From there I think I shifted by the cultures of the companies I worked for.  I could not be part of an organization I did not BELIEVE IN. We didn’t sell rock climbing gear, kayaks, bikes, and high-end apparel at Lewis and Clark, we as part of our mission statement that was defined set out to “bring families together.” No sales pitch, just a culture built around people that loved the outdoors, understood selling is about getting people into things that can enhance.  Studies show that if you get down the five memories from childhood that mean the most to you, it’s almost always one spent outside. Camping, canoeing, hiking, whatever…so it was very easy for me to find my love, mountain biking, and embrace the outdoor industry. It defined health, and it did as the mission statement and founder desired to in terms of teaching the staff that you are there bring families closer together. Within that company, was a social system, a culture, if you will.  We are social creatures and really designed to find cultures, or systems we fit into.

This evolution is interesting to me because as I think about my life and interests and jobs and how my psychology changed along the way, my ideas about the world were so largely guided by where I put my thoughts. The simple, yet profound truth I wrote about earlier this week inspired by something Tony Robbins says reminding us that where we FOCUS our thoughts and emotions is where we go. Our brain, simply finds a way.

That young boy with the basketball had focus.  I just wanted to be the best free throw shooter there was. Life was simpler then, even though with my perception being that of a young boy I dealt with things that seemed tough, and were…but with hindsight I had a blessed childhood.  Looking back, where I focused my emotions and thoughts took me.

The guy in his early twenties who fit into a social system of music loving, traveling hippies, the intellectual Dead Head types, and we still had focus.  Where I put my attention, where I put my emotions, the brain always got me there.  Focus, you see… is the consistent theme here that I’m really leading up to.

Now back to the veils of perception and conditions and the dark forest of our mind and bright lights of our soul.  On todays ride, I looked at the sun setting to my side and realized that I am almost 300 days into a project I designed with intent.

Viewing no television at all, primarily to avoid the drone of white noise and commercials that I felt might have pronounced effects on my thinking was a big change for me.  No mindless chatter with friends for one year if I could avoid it all costs was another. Seeking healthy dialogue, deeper.   I used to pick up the phone a lot and ask so and so, what in the hell is up with so and so.  “Shooting the breeze” so to speak, but it was more about me needing to know that I was okay because others might not be and we love to rate ourselves against others, usually subconsciously.

We humans are fascinating and “rituals” and “focus” are the tone of today’s blog.  Because of that sudden move I took late last year, I had a unique chance to take ideas I had been thinking about for a couple of years and finally put into action.

Gossip, the third on my list of six.    As hard as it may be, I wrote down and vowed to myself to try to go to the person who was bothering me directly, instead of talking about them to someone else.  A gut instinct that I felt would lead to culling out some friends who weren’t really friends, and deepen all the others.  Real relationships for me are about sharing life. Tough questions. Respect.  People who’ve likely fallen and got back up, which leads to humility and deep empathy.  I’m not going to lie I had a lot of feeding friendships.

Next, eliminate any toxic relationship that was damaging or not enhancing my growth. This is now from observation a huge thing in holding people back.  It’s in our nature to “not want to be left behind.” So parents even, friends, will subtly prefer you to be where they are as it’s just human nature.  Takes awareness and some guts to move past this.  It was perhaps the toughest thing to do in the beginning of this process, but 9 months later I’ll say it’s up there with no TV in terms of how powerful my lens of the world has changed.

Yeah, the roads today into town on the bike were rolling with subtle hills, and just cool enough to not sweat. I went down the memory lane I just shared to think about how Sunniva and I met, how much has happened in just under a year.  Marriage, me getting residence here, us finding a way to make it work, building a brand called Solgave, and having the courage and flexibility to see it as organic and changing.  Today it’s now launching it’s first real arm, Solgave Animal Solutions, a business written about in this blog, Solgave Animal Solutions – Defined, and we are now into the deep process of the VISA issues to get her and Gabi into the US and logistics of moving all of us, two dogs, and eventually a horse as we begin the next chapter of our dream.

We have a fully functioning website that you are reading this blog that all came about from a morning at the kitchen table with a hunger to make something work, something that blended who we were.

Surreal to me, to think I’m writing tonight on a blog, a brand that we created. Surreal to think that I’m doing market research and developing our business model for something I don’t just think will work, but will be an exciting and profitable business that is perfect for who we are and what we set out to do in the next few years.

My god, what a ride…

On our page, you will see beautiful pictures and lots of smiles, but what you don’t see is the tears, the pulling back of the layers each of us were so clever at hiding behind.  We knew what you wanted to see and were good at showing it.  We played the “I don’t give a fuck card” really well. The truth is, we do give a fuck.  We care so much it pains us at times…. we care about the world, we care about our growth, we care about you, we care about Gabi, and we care about the kind of kids we raise along side her.  We really do care……….and because of this depth of caring we vowed, and not just vowed knew we had to go deep. Face fears.

For us, it took mounting a big horse, going into some dark, scary forests and knowing what was on the other side was worth it…but like you’d see in a fantasy movie, do you give the horse the signal to go or just casually stroll back around where it’s safe, comfortable, easy?

Neither of us are big fans of comfortable, safe, and easy. This isn’t to say we are reckless today, we are just aware of the massive potential for ones growth when you go deep, deep inside your own soul.  That means the darkest of dark to see the lightest of light.

Yeah, my mind works a lot when I’m riding a bike, mowing the lawn, or just laying in bed.  Today on that 25K stroll into Stromstad I replayed a great deal of what’s happened in 9 months and smiled along the way.

I couldn’t help but think how divided the US is right now with an election year and how so many “spiritual” folks get just as ramped up.  I will be writing an E-Book after 365 days of following this set of new rituals because I am here to tell you, things will change. Your mind will be wired a bit differently.

I know that Obama and Romney are not far off, meaning more a like than not. I know that the system is flawed. I recognized before this project how much TV, friends, and my Facebook feed could affect me.  I know that corruption exists…BUT…through my commitment to this process and spiritually believing in a guiding force, no, having “gnosis.” A sense of “knowing” the other side doesn’t just exist but is going to be, well who knows for sure, but it’s something I don’t fear, let’s just say that.

Immersion in nature is the final thing on that list of 6 I wrote out.  I see people get really fired up, but wonder how much time they spend in the woods, or meditate on a lookout point that might even require a 30 minute drive but would be so worth it.  Source, God (whatever you call it) exists in those rocks, the leaves, not the white walls surrounding you, not the gossip circles, not your Facebook feed, and not the car you drive, ……but in the quiet recess of your mind, in the middle of a solo canoe trip, you’ll hear God.

I am a team guy and out of these two choices today I hope Obama wins and I won’t say why (another blog) but you know what, we made it through Bush, Clinton, Bush again, we’ll make it through whoever wins.  If you look to your country and your friends and your TV and see fear, anger, resentments then I’d want to make an adjustment to my sails.  We have that power. Being off grid is not just a concept. When our spirit is at peace, the rest just seems to matter less.

Turn off that TV.  Change some friends if you really want to change you, because no matter what you claim to be or try to be we bleed in the energy of those we surround ourselves with. Science now shows this.  Calcination is a process and all the books in the world won’t help man evolve if he can’t assess his own patterns, rituals, relationships and make changes.

Whether I live in Iowa, Sweden, Canada or Peru I’ll find exactly what I’m looking for.  On the news today I can find 18 articles of things that will move me to tears of joy, and 18 things to disgust me and make me want to give up on humanity.

Try planting a garden, never fear changing friends, and keep your thoughts and emotions focused on what you want because your brain, will find a way to get you there….

If you want peace, Zen, happiness, then focus on how to get it, and really become aware of what is in its way.  There are a few valid reasons to complain, but not many.

Starting your day with prayer, gratitude, a walk outdoors, and a day with no TV may just be the beginning of a world you never imagined because you just couldn’t see it yet.

One bike ride into town on a beautiful October day, filled with intense gratitude for the growth, amazed at how much I’ve changed because of this project, this process.  Huge thanks to my wife and the work we put in on ourselves with courage to keep on going places I used to fear, seeing shades of me I’d rather wish were not there versus us seeing them in each other and desiring to change.  Not an overnight process, not easy, but my god….it’s worth it.

Focus on whatever it is you want because your actions and emotions will follow…that’s a promise I can make to you and this is coming from a guy who’s thoughts and emotions were focused on the wrong things for a long time.

It’s never too late…thoughts today on a great bike ride into town.



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  1. You are so passionate in your writing Jared. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you for the comments. Stream of consciousness writing that is often heading several directions at once, but guided by the power of what’s happened in 9 months I got a lot out. Exciting physiological and personal changes. Thanks again..

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