Irmelin Drake. Chapter 6: Before taking off.

It was Sunday night at 10:30 p.m. (22.30) and we were getting up at four next morning to get ready for our big trip to the other side of the world. There were still around ten things left on my “what to do before leaving” list.  Peter and the kids had just walked in the door after having delivered the cats to the families who had volunteered to care for them while we were gone.  (In case you wonder, we have three cats.  They are Mummy cat, Lala, and Turbo.) The kids were debating whether it was right to leave Lala with a family who already have two cats on their own.  – Of our three cats, Lala, is the only one who would settle there, I said, in an attempt to console them.  – You know, she is always the boss wherever she goes or whoever’s around, so she’ll make it.  – Mom’s right, Tim said, – I think she’ll be ok.  The little one seemed to agree and rested her case as well, but Simone was not convinced.  – I wish we didn’t have to leave them, she said with a tiny voice and walked over to me and put her face into my lap.  She had always been such an animal lover.  In the outskirts of our lot, she had made a graveyard where all kinds of dead animals were buried.  Birds, mice, adder, pike, and even a mink, and a beaver had been put to rest there by her.   It was not surprising that it would be difficult for her, leaving behind those cats.  I stroke her hair.  – We are making this trip in part to help the red monkeys in Zanzibar, remember?  So, we’ll still qualify as “animal helpers”, don’t you think (we had as a family coined ourselves “animal helpers”).  – And there is no way we can bring the cats, you know.  They will be fine until we come back, I’m sure.  I lifted her chin and gave her a kiss on her forehead and pushed her lightly away.  – Go now and pack your backpack with the things you are bringing for the plain trip.  And then off to bed.  It’s a lot of hours on a plane, remember.  And be sure to remember your new diary.

She nodded and wandered off.   Hmm, I thought to myself.  I was not sure that our cats would be fine in their respective foster homes.  But there just wasn’t any other way.  I sent a thought out into the universe, hoping for some help from afar.  There were so many practicalities involved in taking this trip that I had not thought of when deciding to do it. But it seemed like a long time since we had reached the point of no return.  Now we simply had to move ahead and stand tall while doing it.

I walked into my home office and sat down. My to-do-list was still long, and my head was full of things to think about.  I needed to prioritize with a sharp determination.  Probably should have done that a long time ago, but hey, welcome to my last minute, working-best-under-time-pressure world.

Ok, I had managed to prepare all the material that I would send off to Amanda for the web site and so could tick that one off.  Not that I was very pleased with what I had been able to dig up, but I had no more time to think it through, and so be it.  Deadlines are a blessing for people like me who have this innate urge for perfectionism at the same time as we find everything equally important and interesting.  There’s always something more to add, something more to explore or rework.  If I hadn’t had deadlines, I wouldn’t finish a thing.  Obviously, deadlines stressed me as much as the next person.  They gave me headaches and made me snap when disturbed at the wrong time, but also helped me stay up half the night in order to complete something that simply had to be completed. I considered deadlines a blessing.

Come to think of it, that’s probably why I left the bullet point “make copy of book script and send to publisher” at the bottom of the to do list.   It was referring to my own personal coffee table manuscript that I had been working on for the last five years.  In fact, it was my number one hobby project which I loved spending time on whenever I had some free time.   I could probably keep working on it for another five years.  Yeah I told you before how it felt ‘unfinished’.  And that I would spend my leisure time at Zanzibar deciding what to do about it.  But I had decided to make one shot at it before leaving, right here, right now.

Actually, I had dreamt of making an inspirational coffee table book ever since I stumbled over the first one at a friend’s house when I was about 20.  (For readers informed on the Norwegian book market, it was “Veien blir til mens du går”, by Ferdinand Finne.)  I had loved that book which was full of illustrations, mixed with self biographical reflections, poems and citations.  The next book that caught my attention in a similar way was the cooking book “Smak”, by the Norwegian chef Trond Moi.  Again, the illustrations were as important as the content, in this case being photos of food and the ingredients going into the recipes.

Ever since I started working on women and leadership issues,  I had tried to come up with ideas about how to present this rather serious topic in a more “light” way. I knew that the content would capture an audience, but I wanted to present in a different way.  (Too many people draw a parallel between gender issues and man hating, masculine feminists who were angry with everyone, unfortunately.)  Thus, the idea of an inspiring coffee table book.

I had made many collage like projects over the years, ever since I was very young in fact.  It started with the women’s magazines my mother used to buy every Tuesday.  After she had finished reading them, I took over, first devouring every sentence there was, including all the novels and articles and whatever else was in there like cartoons and the ‘Dear Abby column’.  Then I would go through all the fashion shots and other photographs and cut out the pictures that I liked. Later I would glue the photos into my diary or make collages that I would frame and hang on the wall in my room, collages that were hopeful and glamorous and colorful and which helped me remember ‘the unbearable lightness of being’ when life otherwise felt rough and tough and heavy during my teenage years.   When the PC programs got more advanced, it was possible to make collages in word documents, by scanning in pictures and designing a layout completely on my own, or even better, taking photos on my own camera and editing them so that they gave the exact feel that I was looking for.  It was such a creative process putting it all together.  However, so far they had purely been for private consumption.

Not to say, that there wasn’t a lot of hope hidden in the work.  In fact, in the back of my mind was this thought of what if….!  What if this could be something that others, too, would enjoy.  What if someone would be willing to publish it.

Thus, here I was, going away on the second sabbatical of a lifetime, and deciding whether I would want to carry that hope with me in the coming years.  But first, I would give fate a chance and send the manuscript off to a publisher.

So, at 11.10 pm that night I found the last version of the document in my folder, made a pdf version of it and sent it off – all within ten minutes.   Off you go, I thought to myself with a smile, – we’ll see how the universe responds.

JJ på Sparket med Torun Nordskaug

JJ på sparket er en serie små spontane filmer laget med kvinner fra – og kommer i takt med programserien JJ og Damene på – landets raskest voksende radiostasjon!

Lørdag  29. oktober, i morgen, er det Torun Nordskaug som er gjest. Neste lørdag, den 4. november kommer Mari Maurstad i studio, og lørdagen etter, den 12. er det Grethe Holter som er på besøk.

Irmelin Drake. Chapter 5: Closing doors, moving on and opening new ones

It is already dark as I walk in the door at my house and I am immediately shanghaied by the kids who start to bombard me with talk about the evening’s big event, the school rally.  – You’re late, my youngest one says, dead serious, – we started to worry that you wouldn’t make it.   – Yeah, where were you, darling, my husband asks as he appear behind her and pick up the bags full of groceries I have been shopping on my way home.  – We just finished eating.

Oh, sorry guys! (Breath, Sam, breath) – The important thing is that now I’m here and ready to join you, don’t you think?  I pick up the little one and give her a warm hug.  My hubby gives me a strange look.  (Had I at least had something important to hide, like having had a date with someone or had gotten drunk in the middle of the day or something….) – I started a company today, that’s why I’m late, darlings, I hear myself say.  Never was made for keeping secrets or telling lies, or having a sense of timing for delivering important news, for that matter!   Might as well say it as it is, yes!?

What was there to hide, come to think of it?  Wasn’t it on the contrary a thing we should celebrate!  – And I think the rally is a proper way to celebrate it.  I hear myself literally speak my thoughts with no pause in between. – I will sell all five bags of wristbands all by myself just because I’m so excited today.  I am not sure I sound all that convincing, but it makes the kids feeling assured that I am truly on board the ‘Hey, hey with the monkeys project’, which means the world to them.

However, I am left with one slightly confused husband.  His face is a big question mark. – You did what today?  He exclaims.  – Started a company????  – Hush, I say, and put my finger over his mouth, sending him the look, so he gets the point that this is absolutely not the right time to start questioning me about this or that, and instead that he must shut up.  – I’ll explain later, darling, I say and try to mobilize a happy, calm and composed face.  – Now, let’s get going to the rally, shall we?   

In the car on the way down to school, Peter discover that he has forgotten the tools we need to put the wristbands properly on (the kids).  I immediately sense the opportunity for some time alone, and volunteer to go back for it after having dropped the rest of the family off at school.  Peter is having a speech to inform all of the parents about the project which among other things involve collecting teddy bears to bring to the school children of Zanzibar, so it is out of the question that he can drive back, and thus the case is closed.

Even a small half hour to myself feels like a blessing right now.   I am so bewildered about what has happened that day, confused and worried and excited and thrilled, all at the same time, and all of a sudden this ’Hey, hey with the monkeys project’ seems like nothing but a distraction.

Obviously, it’s not like I happen to establish a firm every other day.  In fact, this is the third time around.  The first time was about ten years ago, when I set up a firm together with two of my best friends and fellow students from a master’s program some years prior.  We spent at least a year in the planning process while keeping our ordinary jobs (in other words, dedicating most evenings and weekends to the endevour), and had everything thought through beforehand, not the least a business plan covering all kinds of possible future scenarios.   We started out on top and landed a big contract for a customer who had plenty more projects for us in the pipeline.  It was fun and exciting and just like we had hoped and planned for.  Except life came in the way.   One got pregnant again and had to stay away too much because of the little baby, and the two others realized we weren’t fit for self-employment at this time of our lives, and preferred to go back to being employed instead.

In a way it was ok, I think, that it didn’t work out.  We didn’t get scarred for life or lost our friendship or anything like that.  We followed what we thought was our dream, and found out it wasn’t, or at least not at that point in time.  And so we avoided coming in a situation where we would at some future state, sit back and possibly regret not having had the guts to go after our dream way back then, when there was not much to loose.   Instead we gained some valuable lessons, were able to put our theories into practice and moreover, when we realized it was not right to keep going, we closed the door and moved forward our separate ways with no regrets.

Five years later, I made another effort at starting a business, this time with a colleague I had known for ten years. Again, we spent a lot of time planning.  Where our office would be, our image, who our competitors were and what are core customers looked like.   We did marketing surveys and conducted focus groups and adjusted our plans according with what we learned.  We had it all mapped out.  I even convinced my husband to move his business and our family to a different city where more potential customers were located and my travel time would be much more modest.

But only two months into business, I knew it was a mistake.

This time around, however, I got more scarred on an emotional level.  To be honest, it almost broke my heart.  I had had such high hopes.  I remember vividly the day when we found what would become our office and how it felt so right in all kinds of ways.  We walked into this relatively modest building, but as soon as we were inside,   we were taken over by the most amazing atmosphere, so modern and energized, filled with huge photographs and contemporary art on the walls, sculptures and modern furniture.  Add what turned out to be a really trendy and fun crowd of people, and a cantina which reminded me of my favorite San Francisco café; we had found the coolest office space I could have ever dreamed up.  It felt so right, and I felt so in place.   So how come, after two months only, there was no doubt in our minds that it was all wrong.  That she and I had no future together.  So we ended it.

In the months that followed I struggled to pay my bills and find a way to keep my office as she moved out before long.  However, it’s no fun to stay in a fun place if you can’t really afford to be there.  So in the end it was a relief to move out.  So too from the house we had rented on top of the green hill, with the most beautiful view you can imagine.  The children loved it there, but fortunately we hadn’t stayed long enough for them to get really settled in.  Therefore, they didn’t really mind moving back, to the small city where they were born, and to our old house out in the countryside, which we fortunately had kept.

It took some time, but eventually I was able to shift my perspective to one of feeling thankful for the experience rather than dumb.  It was a good thing that we found out so quickly that our partnership had no future.  But I often ask myself how it could have felt so right when it all turned out so wrong?  How could my intuition not have warned me that this would not work out?  Well, you have already heard the story of my intuition, so I guess you’re not surprised, and neither should I be, I presume.  (I refuse to give up, though.  I know that I am as wise as the next guy, and that one day I will know for sure, what’s right for me.)

This time around, I’m trying a different approach.  I’ve just jumped right at it.  No spending years in planning processes (only to discover that your business plan didn’t take into account the most crucial parameters at all).  No having so many stakes involved.  No big dreams that are so important that it will break my heart if they don’t come true.  Just this urge to jump on the train.  Just trusting my notion to just do it.

Let’s see how it goes.










Tänk dig att gå på en fotbollsmatch där de plötsligt ropar ut i högtalarna: «Hörni! Vi tar och slopar halvtid och kör på istället». Jag tror de flesta av oss direkt skulle tänka «Men så kan man väl inte göra! Spelarna måste ju få tid att hämta andan, samla nya krafter och justera taktiken”.

Så är det faktiskt även med livet självt! Pauserna (lunchen, kvällarna, helgen, semestern) är en jätteviktig ”halvtid”! Det är under den som vi äntligen får tid att låta tankarna hinna ikapp, ladda upp batterierna och reflektera kring livet och hur väl det stämmer överens med det vi tänkt oss.

Faktum är att vi som människor är skapta för att ta pauser och ”pulsera”, d.v.s. jobba hårt för att sedan vila. Vår hjärna, våra muskler, vårt hjärta…ja faktiskt hela vår kropp mår som bäst när den får varva hårt arbete med återhämtande vila.

Så även om du är mitt i en period där allting går i ett och pauser känns som det sista du har tid med så se till att investera i små stunder av återhämtning under dagen. Se det som en investering inte en utgift. Och det viktiga är inte hur länge du pausar utan hur väl du gör det. Bästa pausen är stunder där du vilar både kropp och knopp – där även hjärnan får vila lite och slippa ta in ny information. Så ta hellre 5 minuters riktig paus än 20 minuter där du sitter med sociala medier eller annat som kräver hjärnans uppmärksamhet.

Lycka till!


Trine Grönlund er en lidenskapelig verdensborger som jobbet 12 år som leder i IT- og reklamebransjen. I dag er hun en ettertraktet og populær foredragsholder og konsulent, og jobber aktivt med sitt eget «Go Slow»-konsept. Der bekjemper hun tidsfattigdommen blant høyt presterende mennesker og selskaper.

Trine inviterer til banebrytende forelesninger der hun oppfordrer oss alle til å «senke tempoet uten å msite farten», og fylle på med refleksjon, restitusjon og fokus i den travle hverdagen. Håndfaste, verdifulle tips kombineres med aktuell forskning og konkrete cases samt nye veier til økt produktivitet, innovasjonskraft og velbefinnende. Se frem til høy gjenkjennelsesfaktor, inspirerende energi og nye innfallsvinkler.

Kontakt oss på om du er interessert et fordrag med Trine.



Irmelin Drake: Chapter 4. Simply doing it.

Her house is so her.  Flourishing in all kinds of ways.  Flowers in huge vases in front of her door.  Art pieces scattered around, but not in a pretentious way.  The front door, in a bright turquoise color, could have been tacky, but not so; it is perfectly balanced with the color on the panel walls of the house.  A bird bath shaped like the one my grandfather used to have in his garden at the cottage we had visited so often when I was a child.  Modern and vintage, side by side, giving off such an interesting and cool ambiance, perhaps explaining some of the reasons why I always feel so enlightened when hanging with Amanda.

I ring the doorbell, but soon realize there is no one at home.  It is too quiet.  Something must have come up, I think to myself and try to dampen the irritation and disappointment I sense within me.  As if I’m not busy enough in the first place, as if I have the time to sit around here waiting for her, as if I wasn’t the one to take the train ride to her and in turn she didn’t even manage to be here when I arrived…  I walk around the house to her back yard and place myself in one of the big basket chairs that stand under one of the weeping willows in the garden.  There is a cream color blanket folded over the armrest and I put it around me.  – What’s there to get upset about.  Try some mindfulness strategies, I instruct myself in my head.  I am, after all, a coach, helping others to use constructive strategies when encountering problems or difficult situations.

Mindfulness is really about presence; it’s about turning your attention away from the cluttering chit-chat of your mind and instead directing it towards appreciation of the here and now.  It’s about letting go of expectations and instead accepting life as it is, not as you wanted it to be or planned for it to unfold.  One of the strategies of mindfulness it to turn the attention to one’s physical environment, also labeled the ‘stop and smell the flowers approach to being mindful’ (@Wendyparis).  It’s so easy, actually, and with immediate results, by shifting one’s attention to a flower, or a tree, or a bird nearby, truly studying it with all one’s senses, the mind quiets down and the stress goes away.

I’ll use this time as if it were the most precious I was ever given, I tell myself.  After all, was I not placed in a garden of eden, so to speak, with plenty of opportunity for being mindful? I take off my shoes and cuddled into the chair. All my sense of disappointment and irritation evaporates in an instance. Hocus pocus!

As I lean back and take in the positive energies from the trees and grass and flowers around me, I pick up my phone and text her; I’m here, where are you.  Strangely enough, I now wish that she will be even more delayed.  Moments like this are so precious.  Unplanned time in a life filled to the rim. The paradoxical life of a modern woman, I think to myself as the cell phone lits up.  The message reads: SORRY, sorry, sorry. Please be patient!!!!!!!! I’ll be there asap and make u a great lunch.  THANXXXXXXOOOOOO. I have to smile.  Where does she get all her energy from!  Even in the midst of this mild fuck-up, sort of, she makes sure to get in those 7 exclamation marks.  And the Xs and Os.   I send her two JJs back.

Later, when she has served up one of those Amanda-supreme coffee lattes in big bowls and toasted bagels with cream cheese, Italian salami and ruccola salad, and we have shared the latest news from each other’s worlds, we sit at the long white wooden table and get serious.  – You know, it’s absolutely the wrong timing for me, I say and look her straight in the eyes.  – I want to feel free and have absolutely no obligations when I leave for Zanzibar on Monday, I continue.  – That being said, I really believe in the two of us, and I absolutely would love to build up something great with you in the future.  – Samantha, you won’t believe the visions I have about the things we will do together, she blurts and grabb my hands.  – Think about what we’ve managed to create together so far, and there is so much more to be done!    And please, take my word for it, I will expect nothing from you when you’re awayOn the contrary, I will insist that you do nothing in order to maximize the benefit of you taking that time off and getting your head all cleansed.  I’m positive the result will be brilliant!   I like what I hear.  Yeah, maybe this will work anyway.  – I can be assured that there will be no expectations on my part, then, and you are aware that there is work that must be done especially related to setting up the website and that you are the one who will have to do it, I ask to make sure she understands the implications of what she’s just said.  – Sure, Samantha, she continues,- remember, this is not work for me, I love doing this stuff!  I can’t wait to start organizing our “Modern Woman tour” next fall, it’s going to be something so different and so cool, we’ll make the most inspiring multimedia presentation, and serve champagne at noon and just get the bubbles sparkling in those women who are so eager for something different, something more fun and interesting at the same time.  Fun and interesting, that’s you and I, you know.  And we’re going to sit there on the stage, in this old beat up sofa, and have the most interesting conversations with some great female personalities, about modern women and the future and why it’s inevitable that women are going to be key in all kinds of areas in society now.  And finally people will realize that the solution is not to repeat the same mistakes that the guys have made and that we don’t have to put on a man’s suit in order to succeed, and that actually we don’t need those guys at all, if we just realize that we’re already flying this plane[1], there is no way back.

I could feel her energy splashing over me like a tropical rain shower and all I wanted was to keep listening to her as she enthused about what we would do and how things were going to be in the near future.  I pictured it so clearly in my head, how she and I would set the stage for something new and interesting and modern, and how much fun we would have in the process. I felt as if my entire face consisted of one BIG grin.   – It’s going to be so fun, I nod, – Listen, I actually I prepared something last night.   I picked up a sheet of paper from my Modern woman folder.  – Thought  we might use it as a guiding principle as we move forward.  I hand her a document that I authored last night, a start of a mission statement, description of our target audience, etc.

Brilliant, Samantha – she says after having read through it.  -See, what I mean, what would my rambling be without your ability to systematize it all, this is great, you know. You have already delivered so much in terms of coming up with the concept and the substance around it, that you’ve done more than your share. So, you better not worry about taking your well deserved sabbatical and leave the practicalities up to me.   

– Of course, she continues after a small pause, – you will have to make a small effort before you leave.  There are papers that must be signed, etc.  And you have to send me the stuff for the website.  Reports, columns and articles you have written and so forth.  Pictures.  That kind of thing.  We need it so the site will have some clout.

Bang.  And so the daydreaming comes to an abrupt end. Giving her all my stuff?   As if I have pictures of myself that I would want to publish on this new website, presenting the me that I would like to be in my new business adventure?  And reports…sure, I have written quite a few of them over the years, but how relevant would they be for the future perspectives I wanted to promote?   And what about time?? I certainly didn’t have time to squeeze this in before we left.   – OK, I said.  I will send whatever I have readily available before I leave.  But don’t expect the worlds.  I have no time to work on it, so what I have, is what you get.  And now, let’s go through all the practicalities so we get those out of the way. 

[1] She was referring to the following quote by Nami Wolf in the book Fire with Fire; “Women don’t need to beg anyone for a ride.  In electoral terms women are flying this plane.”

And so we did.  But those details, dear reader, I will not bore you with.