Coziness at Its Best

The third cultural concept explored comes from Denmark.

Hygge  translates directly as “cozy” — though it actually connotes much more. Combine the ambiance of a warmly glowing fireplace with brightly lit candles surrounded by friends and family snacking on wonderful food where everyone is snuggled under blankets drinking cups of cocoa while the snow falls softly outside.


Hygge (hooga) is the idea that helps Denmark regularly rate as one of the happiest countries in the world — Danes have regularly been some of the most joyful in the world for over 40 years that the U.S. has been studying them — despite long, dark winters.

Loosely translated at “togetherness,” and “coziness,” though it’s not a physical state, it’s a mental one.

According to VisitDenmark (the country’s official tourism site): “The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Friends and family — that’s hygge too. And let’s not forget the eating and drinking — preferably sitting around the table for hours on end discussing the big and small things in life.”


Hygge’s high season is winter, and Christmas lights, candles galore, and other manifestations of warmth and light, including warm alcoholic beverages, are key to the concept.

Still a little confused and wondering how you could cultivate hygge in your life?

This Danish NPR commenter sums up some specifics: “Hygge is a deep sense of cozy that can originate from many different sources. Here is a good example from my life : a cloudy winter Sunday morning at the country house, fire in the stove and 20 candles lit to dispel the gloom. My husband, puppy and I curled up on our sheepskins wearing felt slippers, warm snuggly clothes and hands clasped around hot mugs of tea. A full day ahead with long walks on the cold beach, back for pancake lunch, reading, more snuggling, etc. This is a very hyggligt day.”

Now that sounds do-able, doesn’t it?


When we lived up in the mountains, we were lucky enjoy to have many hyggligt days.

Now that we live in the valley, we still have them but our definition of ‘snowy’ has changed a lot.  🙂

Forest Bathing

The second cultural concept explored comes from Japan.

Shinrin-yoku (森林浴) describes a way to heal ourselves by surrounding ourselves with certain plant pheromones known to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and increase the growth of cancer-fighting white blood cells.


Shinrin-yoku is a Japanese term that means “forest bathing” and unlike the Norwegian to English translations of friluftsliv, this one seems a perfect language fit (though a pretty similar idea).

The idea being that spending time in the forest and natural areas is good preventative medicine, since it lowers stress, which causes or exacerbates some of our most intractable health issues.

As MNN’s Catie Leary details, this isn’t just a nice idea — there’s science behind it: “The “magic” behind forest bathing boils down to the naturally produced allelochemic substances known as phytoncides, which are kind of like pheromones for plants.


Their job is to help ward off pesky insects and slow the growth of fungi and bacteria.

When humans are exposed to phytoncides, these chemicals are scientifically proven to lower blood pressure, relieve stress and boost the growth of cancer-fighting white blood cells.

Some common examples of plants that give off phytoncides include garlic, onion, pine, tea tree and oak, which makes sense considering their potent aromas.”


I’m always amazed at how peaceful I feel in a forest. Calm, serene, and whole.


Free Air Life

The first cultural concept explored comes from Norway.

Friluftsliv (frí-loofts-live) describes a way of life that sets well with my soul — — exploring and appreciating nature.


Friluftsliv (frí-loofts-live) translates directly from Norwegian as “free air life,” which doesn’t quite do it justice.

Coined relatively recently, in 1859, it is the concept that being outside is good for human beings’ mind and spirit.


“It is a term in Norway that is used often to describe a way of life that is spent exploring and appreciating nature,” Anna Stoltenberg, culture coordinator for Sons of Norway, a U.S.-based Norwegian heritage group, told MNN.

Other than that, it’s not a strict definition: it can include sleeping outside, hiking, taking photographs or meditating, playing or dancing outside, for adults or kids.

It doesn’t require any special equipment, includes all four seasons, and needn’t cost much money.

Practicing friluftsliv could be as simple as making a commitment to walking in a natural area five days a week, or doing a day-long hike once a month.


While I’m not a religious person, I am a spiritual person and being  surrounded by nature is the way I connect most with ‘a higher power’. Going to church once a week for me would be covered by getting out in  nature and connecting my feet to dirt. Walking on concrete is the worst, asphalt is a bit better, but on dirt is amazing.

I feel connected to both the earth and the heavens when my feet are on the ground.

A Week of Culture

I first read about this almost a month ago and was intrigued instantly.

Then I promptly lost the article and searched for hours to find it again.

No luck until, Voila! It was front and center on my Facebook home page again yesterday.

I’ll be posting each of seven customs concepts over the next week, one per day.

I think you’ll be intrigued as well.

What I liked best about the examination of different cultures is how easily we can incorporate parts of them into our own lives.


Exploring other cultures helps us learn more about ourselves — and perhaps find a new celebration or concept that speaks to us.

To get started, here’s the intro to the article…


7 cultural concepts we don’t have in the U.S.

From the end of October through the New Year and onto Valentine’s Day, it’s easy to forget that the holidays we celebrate are simply cultural constructs that we can choose to engage in — or not. The concepts and ideas we celebrate — like our spiritual beliefs and daily habits — are a choice, though sometimes it feels like we “have” to celebrate them, even if we don’t feel like it.

Culture is ours to do with as we choose, and that means that we can add, subtract, or edit celebrations or holidays as we see fit — because you and me and everyone reading this makes up our culture, and it is defined by us, for us, after all.

If you want to add a new and different perspective to your life, there are plenty of other ways to recognize joy and beauty outside American traditions. From Scandinavia to Japan, India and Germany, the concepts below may strike a nerve with you and inspire your own personal or familial celebration or — as is the case with a couple of these for me — sound like an acknowledgement of something you have long felt, but didn’t have a word for.

Tune in each of the next seven days to see a different culture construct.


Comfort TV

We all know what comfort food is…

Comfort food is food which provides a nostalgic or sentimental feeling to the consumer, and is often characterized by a high carbohydrate level and simple preparation. The nostalgia may be specific to either the individual or a specific culture. (From Wikipedia)

While recuperating from surgery, the only good news is that I’m not hungry. That doesn’t happen very often, and it’s weird to not even crave my standard go-to comfort foods: cheesecake, candy, popcorn.

Rich was the same way after his surgery. Not only does nothing taste good, but you don’t even want to eat at all.

So what brings comfort?



There’s something post-surgically comforting about watching television shows–especially on TV, not on Netflix.

They have to be reruns of shows you have seen before so that you don’t have to pay complete attention. It’s better on TV than streamed from Netflix because then you can doze off during commercials.

We each have our own comfort television shows.

Rich watched most every episode of NCIS during his long recovery.


I was thrilled with back-to-back-to-back Law and Order episodes all day on Wednesday.


I’ve noticed that different criteria determine different comfort television selections.

I don’t think I would have made it through college without having Die Hard, Die Hard 2, and Die Hard with a Vengeance playing in the background while I did homework.


PS Die Hard is the best Christmas movie ever… 🙂


Wise Words

scaliaSupreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died today.

Scalia served from 1986 and was known as an intellectual conservative. He is well known for his dissenting quotes because he didn’t mince any words and he was often outrageous.

While I may not agree with his legal views, I did agree with some wise advice he gave once.

Joanne, my youngest sister, graduated from Santa Clara University in the late 1980s.

Scalia was the key note speaker at the graduation ceremony.

mscThe university was very familiar to him. He and his wife, Maureen, were married in the chapel on the campus. And one of his sons was graduating from the university the same year as Joanne.

It was the first college graduation ceremony I had ever been to, and it was beautiful. The campus is lovely. Many of the students are from Hawaii, and they wore leis to the graduation ceremony. The floral aroma was divine!


I don’t remember the topic of Antonin Scalia’s speech, but I do remember one line and it became one of my mantras.

You came here to learn how to learn. 

He was talking about how the graduating students would not take specific knowledge away from their education at the university.

They wouldn’t remember what year certain wars were fought.

They wouldn’t remember the details of specific social norms…

But they would remember how their learned those details and ideas.

They had learned how to learn, and that was their most important take away from their education.

His wise words influenced me to enjoy the learning process more than the actual accumulation of wisdom.




The Queen of Grimace

My knee hurts.

And it should.

While my surgery was done through two tiny holes, it still was DQsurgery.

With lots of prodding, lots of cutting, and lots of fluid to make the space around the knee so that the surgeon could see what she was doing while she prodded and cut…

I wasn’t expecting the surgery to hurt so much. I’m guessing that’s because Rich has been through such intense surgeries. In fact his most recent surgery was on his right knee, just like mine. But his involved both arthroscopic surgery and standard surgery with scalpels. So I thought my recovery would be a piece of cake.


While Rich was recuperating, he would grimace and sometimes moan as he moved his knee. That surprised me because he’s usually pretty quiet about pain.

I don’t like to display any emotion except joy, and it has to be a particularly joyous event to express joy.

I work hard to hide my emotions. I NEVER cry in front of people, even my family. I’ve only cried, really sob sucked, in front of another person once. That was on Rich’s shoulders during a particularly difficult accidental death.



While struggling with the post surgery pain, I kept telling anyone who asked that I was fine. After Rich asked for the thirtieth time, I finally admitted that I was hurting.

After talking about it for a few minutes, I decided to up  my pain pill dosage. I would still be within what the doctor prescribed, but I would take more than what Rich took during his more difficult surgery.

The extra pills helped some, but I still hurt–a lot. And it was particularly painful whenever I moved my knee a certain way. And, of course, I kept getting myself into that position as hard as I tried not to.

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I grimaced and let out a long groan when my knee screamed in pain.

I didn’t scream out in pain. I just made an “I’m in pain!” face and let out a soft little groan.


And you know what? It worked!!!! I didn’t feel the pain as much.

I’ve wasted nearly 59 years not grimacing, groaning, or bitching to relieve pain.

Watch out, world! Here comes the new Queen of Groan, crying whenever she needs to!


Snow Rollers

I’ve never heard of these before…


Rare weather event produces spontaneous snowballs in Idaho

BOISE – Thousands of snowballs rolled in a flat central Idaho field look like the work of hundreds of ambitious kids – except there are no human tracks.


A rare weather event caused the spontaneous snowballs at the Nature Conservancy’s Silver Creek Preserve and surrounding fields near the tiny town of Picabo.


Preserve manager Sunny Healey spotted the cylindrical shapes up to 18 inches high on Jan. 30 following an overnight windstorm.


She says she had never seen them before but a local rancher told her he’s spotted them twice in previous decades.


Jay Breidenbach of the National Weather Service says so-called snow rollers are caused by an unusual combination of a couple of inches of snow with the right water density and temperatures near freezing, followed by strong winds.


Best Superbowl Ads

Here’s my favorite from yesterday’s game:

This Doritos 2016 Crash the Super Bowl Finalist commercial, created by Peter Carstairs from Perth, Australia, takes us through a couple’s ultrasound session. The director Peter made one of the best Doritos commercial. In this commercial The husband eats a bag of Doritos loudly, and the wife complains to the doctor about what she has to deal with. He begins to move a chip toward his wife’s belly and the baby reaches for it. Having some fun with this, he moves the chip back and forth and watches as the fetus pushes toward it, causing the woman to yell in pain. Fed up with his nonsense, she grabs the chip and flings it across the room. She suddenly lets out a loud scream, and the doctor and husband join in the screaming as the baby’s cries can be heard.

Followed by this one:

I love most any song by Queen, and the sheep are so cute (and very clean for sheep 🙂 ).

What was your favorite?

My Little Blue Pills

I’m missing my little blue pills.

No, not THAT little blue pill…


THIS little blue pill…


Since I heard a small pop in my knee while playing pickleball two months ago, I’ve been on a steady diet of Aleve.

My knee was getting a bit better until about ten days ago. I was playing pickleball, of course, and heard a bigger POP.


Long story short… I go in for arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday to repair a meniscus tear.

To prepare for surgery, I can’t take any Aleve or aspirin.

I had no idea that the Aleve I was taking was working so very, very well. And I miss it a lot… 🙂