Highlights of the 2010s

Summing up another year by looking back at the whole decade.

Kristianopel 09

Every year – now 15 years running – I do some kind of reckoning on this blog. These may not be my most highly read posts, but I do try to keep up the tradition nonetheless, plus rethink the format from time to time.

2019 for us was also Johanna’s first year, and the first full year being a family of five. And as expected it has been tough on us all in terms of energy levels and spirits. The year has also been marred by sickness; nothing life-threatening, mind you, but too many and too long periods of someone in the family being sick. Suffice to say, we’re hoping these things will gradually improve in 2020.

On the upside, I have had a good and stable job with high flexibility. We enjoyed a three-week holiday in Sweden plus a couple of trips to Jutland. And it was a year of spending money: a new car, a new roof on the house, new appliances, and more.

But looking back at 2019, today is also a rare occasion to look back on a full decade. We are finally entering something that makes sense to say. Forget the zeroes, naughties, tens, teens, whatever – let’s bring on the no-nonsense twenties!

Being born in a round-number year, decades coincide with my age, and I am thus ending my fourth decade on this earth. In my quest to simplify and organise things, I wanted to characterise those four decades of my life in a limited number of bullets:

  • 1980s: Early childhood, living in the U.S.
  • 1990s: Adolescence, high school, Vejlefjord, music
  • 2000s: Student life, Aarhus, Aarhus Café Church, travels to Australia
  • 2010s: Marriage, family, career, settling in North Sealand
    Spring 19-56
Summer 19-05Triple-E 07
Christmas 09-22
MI 12-13

You should try the same, although I am lucky to be able to split them into distinct phases.

The 2010s for me has been a decade of building a family and fathering three children (’14, ’16, ’18). It has been a decade of singing in Camerata, one of Denmark’s best classical choirs. And it was the decade where student life irrevocably ended, and I embarked on a career of internal communication, starting in Maersk and proceeding to other large international companies. Another highlight has been travels to the U.S., where my parents lived until a few years ago.

All in all, a good and eventful decade. So what will the 2020s bring? It is nearly impossible to predict that many years, but a few headlines do seem likely: school, growing kids, more work (although I don’t know how or where). As for travels and where to live, etc. – only time will tell.

And now, for 2020. Lily will start school, launching a new phase for the whole family. I will turn a corner, as you might have guessed – and while I’m in a good place in most factors of life, I will confess to some dread for the event. It is difficult to abstain from some soul-searching – for me, at least – and find elements that may be lacking in purpose.

My humble hope for the new year is that I can find the energy to be more purpose-driven in my life, not settling to celebrate the mere survival of another day or week or year as an achievement, but actively making a difference for the things I engage in and the people that surround me.

Happy New Year!

Things I did in 2018

Several new and interesting things, in fact…

Sweden 18-34

Every year I try to do some kind of reckoning, and looking back they take on quite different forms. This year, for instance, did not include a lot of travels, something that used to feature heavily. But other interesting events have occurred, including some firsts.

  • Had a third child. 2018 in our family has been marked by a sub-par pregnancy, but with a perfect resolution with the birth of our third daughter on 22 December.
  • Gave management consulting. Last year’s uncertainty in the work sphere was replaced by several engagements with the SDA Church in Denmark, giving consulting on communication, GDPR, and organisational change.
  • Founded my own company. My foray into consulting culminated with the founding of the company Deja-vu, with a couple of clients. The experience was worth it, even though the ambitions have been put to rest for now.
  • Started a new permanent job. In October, my networking paid off with a job offer from Danske Bank, Denmark’s largest financial institution. I’ve had a great start in an good position with nice colleagues and interesting challenges.
  • Left Camerata. After nine years in Denmark’s best amateur choir, it was time to call it quits to spend more time with my growing family. I did put in a final Passion of St Matthew in spring, and while sad to leave I am happy for the many memories and the extra spare time.
  • Saw Chess in live performance. This musical has been a personal favourite for many years, but it was the first time I got to see it live, which was quite an emotional experience.
  • Became a member of Mensa. Almost by random, I decided to go for a test and was proud to be offered membership. I have not quite figured out how to use my membership, but while trying to be humble about it, it is still a nice recognition.
  • Took a family holiday in Sweden. We filled the car and went for a wonderful 20-day summer holiday to our neighbouring country. It’s a very grown-up thing to do, but we had a great time, and the memories will stay with all of us for years.

All in all, a good and eventful year, and I look forward to an interesting 2019. Happy New Year!

Ten emotions that describe my 2017

Of death, Trump, and everything in between: an alternative look at a turbulent year in my life.

As an introvert, I have often heard that I am not wont to expressions of emotion. I even recognize a similar ‘stone face’ in my daughter at times. You should not let the apparent stolid exterior fool you, however. I choose other means of expression. Music is one; another is writing; hence the theme of this post.

On this day of reckoning, I have to reflect on a year with an unusual number of ups and downs, and no clear conclusion. A chronological approach would not work, neither would a simple list of events.

Instead, I will try to describe my 2017 through a list of emotions in no particular order, but corresponding to the first ten letters of the alphabet.

A. Accomplishment

When we bought our house four years ago, the woodwork was all pink – not our first choice against the yellow bricks. This year, I finally found the time and energy for a colour change. I probably spent around 100 hours in August and September, but now everything is shining white. All our neighbours welcomed the change, and it still makes me happy whenever I look.

B. Bewilderment

Visiting the U.S. in January was a good experience, as usual, but then not quite. Trump’s first travel ban came into effect while we were there. It didn’t affect us personally, but it was further evidence that something is not right in this country.

The actions of the president are difficult to ignore, and half of my blog posts this year comment directly or indirectly on Trump’s leadership. My love for the country has been tainted, which is something I do not take lightly.

C. Change

My parents moved back to Denmark this year, after 17 years abroad. For me, it meant a farewell to trips to Michigan, like the end of the Sydney era eight years ago. It meant house-hunting with my mom in May, and finally having them arrive in their new abode in July. We spent Christmas at their house, just a 25-minute drive away, and look forward to a new, more normalized mode of family relationships.

D. Desperation

Looking for a new job can be a stressful experience, and more than once this year I’ve had the doubtful honour of being runner-up to a good position. I’m good at what I do, but what I do is not primarily job hunting. I crave the experience of using my skills in a more thorough, intense, and value-adding manner. Soon.

E. Elation

Winning the London International A Capella Choir Competition this summer was a pinnacle of my eight-year tenure in Camerata, one of Denmark’s best choirs. To reach this level as amateurs is a true privilege.

F. Faith

This year I have been to church probably more than the previous six years combined. That’s not saying a lot, but it’s a careful, welcome change. A mustard seed, if you will.

G. Grief

Standing in the rain beside the grave of my beloved grandmother, only tears could express the feeling of loss. At 97 it was her time to go, and she was blessed with a long and rich life. Still, the memories are now irreversibly just memories, and the emptiness remains.

With my wife’s grandfather passing away just a month later, our children have no remaining great-grandparents. Indeed, 2017 was a year of loss.

H. Hope

This is the other side of the double-edged sword of unemployment. I have been frustrated, yes, but I have also been fortunate to meet many interesting people in the Copenhagen business community. I value the time spent with new and existing contacts. The positive feedback and good experiences leaves me with hope for the future, despite the uncertainty.

I. Immersion

As our children’s sleeping patterns improve, we have rediscovered time for watching movies and series, a welcome diversion and, at times, immersion.

In 2017 we went through classic series such as Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter, and discovered Game of Thrones (better late than never).

But the most lasting impression on me was made by Interstellar. Something in the premise and the melancholy of that film touched me deeply – a feeling which was intensified by hearing music from the film in concert with DRSO only a few months later.

J. Joy

Despite the challenge and uncertainty of our situation, 2017 has been a good year. There are two very tangible reasons for that: Lily and Edith, now 3 and 1, who continue to amaze us with their love, fun ideas, contagious joy, occasional tantrums, mutual affection, and continuous development. I am privileged with a family whom I love, and who loves me back. At the end of the day (and year), that’s what really matters. Happy New Year!

What hath 2016 wrought?

Lily Edith Christmas 2016
Dear Edith,

Everyone is saying 2016 was a terrible year. Yet years from now, your mother and I will look back at 2016 as one of a single significance: the year you were born.

Yes, right now we remember 2016 for the conflict in Syria, Donald Trump’s election, and the death of celebrities such as Prince, Muhammad Ali, George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and others. But when you are old enough to understand, I hope that these events will no longer give any cause for worry.

For your father, it has been a turbulent year. I began by saying goodbye to my employer of nearly five years, with a promising new start. That new start brought, for one thing, a shorter commute which gave me more time with your sister and mother, and eventually with you. It also brought me the stress of adapting into a new environment. And ultimately, although through no fault of my own, it led to termination, which is why I have been there to play with you every day the past eight weeks. While this has been good family time, I enter 2017 with the burden of finding somewhere else to employ my skills. As the sole provider, you really need a job.

As for your arrival, it has been a joy to see you grow into the smiling and cackling 6-month-old you have become, and witness the mutual love between you and your sister. I do also remember how the first two months were especially tough on me, as I adapted to our new situation and came to know you as a person. You will not and should not understand this until one day you become a parent yourself, at which time I will probably be too old to remember myself.

On a lighter note, we planted the berry bushes and fruit trees which I hope you are enjoying. Before you were born, your sister and parents made a short break in Bologna, Italy, our first proper holiday in several years. And we enjoyed a visit from your paternal grandparents, with the prospect of them moving back to Denmark very soon. We have missed them, and are happy to know that they will be larger part of your life as you grow up.

You celebrated your first Christmas gracefully among family at home, and tonight you will (we hope) sleep through your first New Year’s Eve.

Edith, you have blessed our family beyond measure. It is my prayer that you will be a highlight not only of 2016, but of our entire lives to come. Happy New Year!

Love, Dad

Highlights of 2015

Another year has passed – busy, but somehow less dramatic than last year. How do you top 2014’s first child, first house, and first car? Simple: you don’t.

Spring 15-66But 2015 has brought something different: a cementing of values, not least provided through prioritised family time. In the first months of the year I remained at home to take care of Lily while her mom went to work; a memory I will cherish forever. Later her grandma came to visit and babysit for a month, and in July we took a leap of faith in deciding to keep Lily at home instead of opting for the public day-care option which has become the standard. I am now the sole breadwinner; a decision we have not regretted for a second, when we see how she thrives and develops in the safe haven of our home. It is remarkable how what was the norm just a few generations ago has become counter-cultural.

2015 has not, for a change, been a year of travels. In fact, I will soon have completed a period of 12 consecutive months within the borders of Denmark – for only the second time in my life. Instead we have continued to enjoy our house and garden throughout the seasons.

Much of my spare time has been spent with Camerata, who have had a busy golden jubilee year in 2015. Choir experiences include many splendid concerts, a summer tour of Denmark, a celebration weekend, and of course ending on a high note with another round of Messiahs in December.

For all its harmony, 2015 will pale in comparison with 2016: the final months of this year have seen decisions and developments which promise to make next year eventful indeed. In February I will start my new job in Novo Nordisk, saying goodbye to the world of shipping after 4½ years. This will bring new challenges, a shorter commute, and hopefully many good experiences. And in July, we look forward to welcoming our second child to the family, also altering our in ways we cannot entirely fathom yet.

Spring 15-54

On that happy note, I wish you all a prosperous and interesting 2016! Happy New Year!

Highlights of 2014

Lily 5-27

On this last day of 2014, it’s time to look back on what transpired.

One thing is clear: blogging has not been a highlight of the year. This is the tenth installment in an annual tradition begun at a time when blogs played a different role than they do today. You most likely came here via Facebook; nonetheless the site is convenient for sharing posts like this one.

Another element prevailing in recent years which has not been a highlight of 2014 is running. I never really found the time. I will forgive myself, however, since this year has been one of the most eventful of my life so far.

The irony is that some of the otherwise big and noteworthy events pale in comparison to the life-alteringness of parenthood. Baby Lily Mayrah, born April 5, has been a source of endless joy in expanding our family. She has also given us sleepless nights, newfound worries, and changed priorities. But our lives will from now on never be the same because of our wonderful daughter.

2014 also saw us buying our first car. But this was less dramatic for the fact that we simultaneously became homeowners for the first time, purchasing a house in Allerød, where Katrine grew up. We have thoroughly enjoyed the added space and garden, especially in summer and with a little one in the family.

Autumn was for me season of work travels – busy, but also fun and good experiences. Three overseas trips in two months, one new country (Philippines), three new cities (Warsaw, Shanghai, and Manila). Visiting the newly opened 9/11 memorial in New York was also a highlight. Interesting trips, good outcomes, and nice people.

The year ends in Michigan, in the company of my extended family. It has been great to celebrate the holidays here.

Happy New Year to everyone. Best wishes for 2015!

Highlights of 2013

Every year on this blog, I try to capture the essence of the year that has passed. These posts, dating back to 2005, are not the most read or commented features by any measure. Perhaps they drown in the multitude of end-of-year reckonings that people are flooded with. Or perhaps my life is not really that interesting to other people. Regardless, the tradition endures, if nothing else for my own narcissistic satisfaction.

22 weeks

2013 has been another good year, not the least with abundant travels. My tally for this year is 10 countries, a tie for the first place. Two new ones were added to the list: South Korea and Monaco.

The most important thing that happened in 2013, however, was actually a precursor to the actual event in 2014: the delivery of our first child, scheduled for April. This will of course alter our lives forever, in ways great and small, imaginable and unimaginable. Stay tuned.

The highlights of 2013, in short form:

  • Birthday dinner for Mum (January)
  • Celebrating Norway’s Constitution Day in Oslo (May)
  • Cooking for 45 young people at church retreat (November)
  • Cooking great food at home (as often as possible)
  • Easter break in Paris (March)
  • Flying business class to Korea (June)
  • Katrine being pregnant
  • Katrine’s 30th birthday (May)
  • My fifth season singing The Messiah (December)
  • Running
  • Ski trip to Norway (March)
  • Summer holiday in southern France (June-July)
  • Triple-E (the world’s largest ship) naming ceremony in Busan, Korea (June)
  • Triple-E event in Copenhagen (September)
  • Visiting my parents in Michigan (October)
  • Weekend trip to Jutland (August)
  • Working for Maersk Line (every day)

Happy New Year!