Solgave and Life Abroad-Chapter 6 (Turning a Page)
So here we are….
If it were 1987 I could have had a dramatic moment of wadding up several sheets of paper as I was a few thousand words into an “honest” blog about the journey we call life.
It was the nudge from my wife, who gave me the confidence in Europe to write. I started to feel freer expressing myself through Facebook, but was too out of balance to use it for organized thoughts with intent.
English was always an easy class for me, but anything creative or artistic was not looked at in my peer group as “cool” and I kept away from band, singing, theater, debate, and things I was both socially anxious/shy about and just not part of my peer group. But I had all those interests. It was easy to not spot me as a troubled child, because I excelled in everything else so easy. So from outsiders, I hid my thoughts well.
I had skills on the basketball court after all, and a balanced intellect that made me breeze through the hallways of high school with little impact. Not many could spot the depth of the mind I was acutely aware of by the age of ten, was “different” than others. By that, I mean I was able to observe behavior and my own thoughts in a unique way I sensed others didn’t. This didn’t make me feel cooler or better, just even more weird and alienated in my mind.
The subtle nuances others miss, my little eyes were born to see, or perhaps by circumstance I was forced to examine. I really don’t know. Likely, it was a combination of both.
I kept a little diary from the 5th grade on with a key so nobody could see or read my thoughts, but I started recording them with a pen and paper. What I saw, who I liked, who I didn’t, why life felt painful at times, why this girl had such a draw on my heart. Why do parents yell and throw things? Why does my real dad not bring birthday cards down the road anymore? Typical I suppose for many, but nobody I knew talked about things like this.
By the time I was in college and entered the U of A in 1992 I could express in different ways. Gone were the lace up ropers, or Brass Buckle fashions that made me not stand out, and god did I hate standing out back then. Now I was wearing Beatles shirts, tie dye, Birkenstocks, and growing my hair out with a tribe of pseudo-intellectual hippies.
I took my 4 year academic fully paid scholarship, National Honor Society geek background and went into full on raging rock star. Scholarship was lost after one year and I managed to make enough classes to gather “most” credits the first two years.
I was going to be a physical therapist initially, a sports injury in high school led me to see the blend of science and human therapy would be a good fit. But I wasn’t ready for Cal 1 as a 19 year old more concerned where the party was that night.
So I switched to psychology and began working at Fayetteville Daycare and Preschool for observation, loved it so much I stayed 3 years part time, and saw myself as a Child Psychologist. The developmental classes were the most intriguing to me, but human psychology in general was so fascinating and such a natural academic fit for me. That and sociology was just the wiring of my mind.
I was extremely shy and while I would have done well in debate classes I was asked to join, my social anxiety would not allow it in high school. After dropping communications 4 times for fear of that 10-minute speech, I later gained the confidence and got an A in that class years later.
Isn’t it interesting to see sometimes how your natural strengths, if not noticed or lifted up by the adults around you, will stay stagnant. I think now it’s safe to say communication is one of my greatest gifts. I can speak for an hour to a sales team, or anyone who wants to listen to something I feel passionate about. I love spoken word poetry. I love the power of words.
I was a quiet boy, so how could anyone know that I had so much to say? Nobody’s fault per se. Most of what I said in the home was shown to be factually inaccurate by a logic based thinker who doesn’t see sociologically or psychological aspects naturally. I always felt that was okay, just wanted the understanding to go both ways. This is not a blame blog, I’m just free flow writing, trying to get to the point of my wife’s pain right now, and my uncertainty on what to do for her.
I know that nobody sets out to hurt children, or limit growth, or do anything negative. It is a byproduct of different things that are out of our control. Quite the opposite. They do what they can with what they have in their tool belt. Examples from their own parents and peers as a primary one.
Sunniva and I already wonder if some of the fights and things Gabi has seen will affect her in her adult life. We are both acutely aware of how sensitive some souls are, to these energies. We both come from divorces, both very sensitive to energies. A cool twist of fate has helped lead to using it in the real world through Solgave. Gabi has a stronger shell than most, a fiery Aires that protects a deeply sensitive soul that I think all of us carry around.
Neo feels more sensitive out of the gates like us. I’ve learned so much about the energies you place children around, and why handing off to just anyone was not something Sunniva was comfortable with. It shocked and even upset people in the immediate family and I can see why. They had not known anything else but the traditional “baby is born at a hospital” and the relatives line up to hold the baby whether baby wants it or not. Traditions. We land on the extreme side I suspect of protecting his energy field when he’s so little.
Gabi is a great case of how that can turn a child into a very independent, non-needy person. She was held as close to Sunniva (being worn at all times/etc.), kept away from most people the first year, as that critical bond is made between baby and mother. Some don’t have the choice, and I totally get that. My god do I get that. We live in an age where our jobs and mortgages and 401K’s have kind of ruled our thoughts and children, while important, I think the countries giving way more maternity and paternity leave get that connection and it’s significance. We live in a fast paced society and if you let it grab you, you’ll get sucked into the vortex.
My wife is not doing great. She would not be upset with me saying that. I don’t think anybody today is sure how much of it is her not getting home this spring (the longest she had been away from her home is 1 year, and me 6 months, so she is in uncharted territory) and how much of it is exhaustion of doing everything she believes in her soul is what Neo needs this first year.
I feel for her, I don’t have clear answers. I know her Norwegian friends were all so kind to me, even though Americans were generally looked at as loud, somewhat cocky (our country is better, than all countries kind of attitude) and I had to prove that wasn’t me. I was proud of where I came from, but open and had always been open to other parts of the world. With a deep interest in their culture, their spirit, their way of living so healthy and being so happy, I was certain the data I had read about income inequality being far less was showing me in real life that it was real.
Are there people struggling? Sure. Are there really rich people? Sure. But it’s not the extremes we have here. The welfare states make it a philosophical and moral decision to take care of the bottom and provide as much and as many resources to rise up as they can.
The landscape is beautiful, the air is magical, and the farm where Sunniva lived/owns with her mom is in a very majestic area on the border of Sweden and Norway by the fjords.
While people aren’t as outwardly open as we are here, as Dave Matthews said in an intro to a song he wrote, it’s the good things we need to get back to in America. Putting shopping carts away for strangers. Mowing the elderly persons yard because it’s just the nice thing to do. You don’t see block party BBQ’s as much there, and the stores are strangely quiet. My god you don’t realize how loud we are here…LOL… till living there. You can sit outside a coffee in Old Town (cool part of Fredrikstad) and on a busy day, still here a pin drop. People are talking, but just at normal volumes. And by normal, I mean European normal.
Oslo is an international city and has much more of what you’d expect from any big city. Parties, art, culture, industry, and more Her brother manages a coffee shop in a very cool part of town. It’s a coffee shop chain started by an American and Norwegian. (No Starbucks in the entire country except at the airport)
My god do I miss the coffee in Europe. We are really blessed with good coffee shops in town, but it’s hard to beat those cups I remember. Maybe the cold air and climate made it even that much better, but I think it is truly some of the best in the world.
So we’ve faced some turnover, we faced non compete agreements not getting signed before leaving, and we have faced some untruths, but listen, that is just life. We have gotten hit much harder in the gut of life than those things that at the time stung, but with hindsight they are just mosquito bites on the ass of life.
We had a baby here. We had a second immigration process to go through. We had a commitment to the decision we made in bed that night in Sweden to go forward with SAS, even though I balked with the positive test, and said I need a real job, a good job, for the family. I knew our business could and would grow, but I also was aware of the slow process. The hard work. The sacrifices those first few years.
It’s been this week that words have slipped out by each of us at different times. “I think we made a mistake.” “What do we do now” with tears streaming down our face.
I took a 28-year-old beautiful, sensitive soul, and a 4-year-old wonder child to a new country with a promise of happiness and big dreams. We left with fire in our hearts and a desire to not get rich, but to make a dent in the cosmos in that tiny way I think we are each here to do.
I think our 2014 numbers will be 30-40% higher than 2013 (conservative) and I think 2015 gets us comfortable. But our dilemma right now is this where my wife and my family should settle.
It’s true that geography and people don’t magically make us different, although I was magically healed by the geography and energy and changes when I landed and started “Lessons From Abroad” We are still the soul inside us, just often getting rid of the residue build up and polishing the stone a bit.
We spent thousands to get the dogs here safely with the best equipment. Thousands to get the horses safely where they would have a good life while we had our US adventure. And thousands to fly here. Thousands to move here. Tens of thousands of dollars have been pushed into the middle of the poker table when we said, “All chips are in.” Any “excess” I was privileged to had was used to meet her, travel back here, move here, and in fact led to the miracle of my baby boy. We try to not flaunt our travels, and that was a trigger point at a childhood friend who spewed venom after I went off on a thread about Sweden that was not coincidental after the two weeks prior where a mutual childhood friend chose capitalism over friendship. He said things I still can’t process today. The key is he’s a good man and so am I, I’m just wired to see the world different and resentment of my world travels on his tax dollar dime I’ve come to see as his issue. I pay my taxes. I’ve not been a dreg to society, but one I hope in hindsight he and the ones who know me well see as a contributing member who tried to pay back a world I love so much and had taken from with reckless abandon.
This week we had a short term (hopefully) vision of lose/lose. Somebody will always have a family longing for connection to family visits, seeing the children grow up, travel with them, etc. Our international love story is one that has given people hope, but don’t underestimate how hard it is, and how many people get hurt or have to readjust their views to accommodate living across the globe.
Our plan was by year 5 to establish a business that allows 6 months per year. I’ve realized this week there may need to be a shift in the model soon so that can be a reality for us. It trumps just about everything.
If we can reach a point where we can spend at least 3 months (f not more) in Europe and still survive financially or create a part of the business that is in Norway/Sweden than we have a fire lit again.
It’s the journey and never the destination. I know my wife will come home recharged when she gets there and I hate she didn’t get their in the spring like we planned. Business taxes were much higher than we thought, other bills after catching up left us with not enough to travel until the summer. Part of my promise to her and her family is we’d go to Norway in the spring if we went to the islands with my mom. I knew out of respect and just general principal we should get to Norway first, but we were so desperate for a few days away and the gift of the airfare very generous and too hard to pass up.
We did get recharged for a bit and create a few memories with my own mom. If we were to ever move back I need to cherish the ones on this side of the planet. Our dream spot in the US, and Sunniva swears its where she wants to end up, is the Pacific Northwest. The climate and philosophies of the people are very similar to our own, her homeland and yet it’s still here in the US and easy for us to open up a branch of SAS.
Two months after arriving the largest competitor in our industry (13 years she’s been in business) told me soon after we landed (and she offered to sell me her business before recanting after I told her I thought our brand was stronger) if we did not have one-year savings we would not make it. I lied and said we did. The truth is we likely could have used that, but we are stubborn and driven. I wrote her recently to show respect for how she has played the game, that we made it, and would she want to revisit a buyout.
Ironically enough, that competitor is one we have the most respect. We are head on competitors but she never lied, never deceived, and we have mutual admiration for playing the game fair in an environment where we’ve faced some “out of the bounds of the moral rules IMO”. …But that’s business. J Your only competitor is yourself. If you worry about others, you are slipping in the faith of your own capacity.
I find the modeling of our promotions and copycat of prices and wording to be flattering. We don’t have the client list yet of our big competitor, but we have the soul that has kept us a float because a lot of people believe in our hearts. And that client list grows one at a time. Month by month.
I don’t know if we would change our tough stance on honesty, because we had no allegiance to the rescue/animal world and or a need to hangout personally so it made sense to only be honest. Not live in the grey zone of pretending to like people you don’t. Sunniva just woke up a bit and we realized what I touched on a lot in the blog I “threw away” and that is we adapted our non profit altruistic dream too much to fit and adapt to where we were. We are shifting our Second Chance page to someone whose heart and energy is more focused there and reigniting our Solgave Facebook page that is the core of who we are. More on this in the coming weeks, but it’s been a big epiphany on why Sunniva just expressed a major block that has limited her. Limit may not be the right word, just took the wrong path for a bit, and we are going to take a few steps back, and get right back where Solgave started.
4 new meet and greets the last two weeks and one in Rogers tomorrow! Woot woot! Someone quickly privately messaged me after seeing my status and shared how slowly her house sitting had been last month. I knew it wasn’t just us, but it can feel that way at times, so I appreciate the shout out.
We aren’t going away folks, but we will keep giving you all we have, honest, raw, and driven to find out how we can best serve the community we live in and make a living at the same time.
Our children are the life force that drives what we do, and we care intensely about how we educate them and affect them by the example and experiences they are a part of.
Goodnight world. One ripple at a time, and we can make waves together.