Gardening and happiness

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If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.

– Marcus Tullius Cicero 

Opening your eyes to a new hobby can sometimes feel strange, unfamiliar and even hopeless at times. This is because we are so used to our own patterns in life; Our routines, our hobbies, our way of dealing with stress or anxiety. 

Before Yoga came into fashion – no one wanted try it out. To many, it seemed like some spiritual fixation, a ritual that only belonged to the hippie-communities. The exercise that now carries living proof to have helped many people in need (both with mental and with physical issues) was being stereotyped as the guy/girl with dreadlocks, sleeping in tents, smoking pot all day, reading horoscopes and predicting the future. Now, EVERYONE does yoga. Even the most preppy people, who live in the cities with normal jobs – do yoga. 

So why not explore gardening, for a change? Another stereotype which hasn’t yet earned it’s glory in today’s pop-culture … 

Ask yourself now:

Perhaps gardening is not only for retired people or housewives who live on farms? 

Perhaps it’s something that young people ALSO can do? 

Dear readers … if you haven’t yet read “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett – READ IT NOW. It will open your eyes to, not only a new hobby – but to a new world. 

The idea that changing your mentality can actually cure a physical illness – will no longer just be a myth to you – it will be a fact. Because this book explains in detail, how it’s possible – with gardening. 

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“At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done–then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.”

– Frances Hodgson Burnett, “The Secret Garden” 

 

If Yoga can do it for you – so can gardening.

You don’t even have to have a garden. All you need is a couple of plants, a windowsill/balcony, water and a little bit of sunlight!

But before you decide to say no – read the little list I’ve made of reasons to why gardening has helped me and many others through a difficult path: 

  1. It involves being outdoors. if you’re a person who has a job which requires a lot of sitting inside by your desk – gardening is a perfect way of escaping a stiff posture and soar muscles. Also, you get to clear your mind before returning to your office work! Breath in that fresh air. Feel the sun tickle your lower back while you’re down on all four – planting some seeds that will eventually, either grow to be colourful, delicious carrots or some beautiful fragrant roses that you can put in your windowsill for decorations. 
  2. Your plants will become your babies. Seeing your very own work grow into something beautiful – is just the most magical feeling ever. Your plants will be your family, and you’ll want to do everything in your power to keep them healthy and alive. 
  3. It will become a new commitment. Which is scary for some, but fun for others! I always say there are two kinds of people in this world: those who fear commitment and those who don’t. I belive that those who are open to committing to either their work, their relationship, their faith or (in this case) their garden – will always win the lottery in the end. Because theres nothing quite like working on something for a long time – seeing its ups and downs (still refusing to give up) and in the very end – you’ll have created your own eternal masterpiece. And those who fear – well, they’ll have a nice time with few hardships … but in the end, they’ll regret the risks they didn’t take. Gardening might be one of them for you ….? 
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Last remaining question is; Are you in or are you out? 

 

Love, 

Aftur S. Nerdrum 

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Uncovering the shielded truth: Who is the actual Jane Austen Hero?

Is it the pompous, macho-like – yet incredibly noble and kind, Mr. Darcy

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Or is it the secretive, dauntless, muslin-expert, Henry Tilney

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Perhaps it’s the moralising lecturer, Mr. Knightley – with his unfailing gentleness and understanding for women? 

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Could it be the slightly confused – yet unquestionably affectionate Edmund Bertram? 

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Oh wait! It must be the romantic, passionate, long-distance lover – Captain Frederick Wentworth! 

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But did we really miss out on the adorably shy, quirky gentleman – Edward Ferrars – the one who’s intentions are truly good, but he is just too shy to express them at first ….? 

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Dear reader. I know it’s tempting to say the classic line: “Are you kidding me? It’s Mr. Darcy of course!” 

Or perhaps you think you already know what my choice is, since you’ve read the name of my blog? 

I’m sorry to say, but no. It’s not Mr. Knightley, and it’s not Mr. Darcy either. In fact, none of the mentioned above is a true Jane Austen hero for me. Belive it or not. We actually missed out on one crucial male character in her books; Someone really important. Someone who actually changes someone else’s life by helping them out of a devastating heartbreak. Yes, I’m talking about you – Colonel Brandon – from “Sense and Sensibility”. 

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After doing a bunch of research, asking myself the same question again and again: Who would make the best husband out of all these dashing young gentleman – I ended up in a place I never thought I’d be – Is it possible that Colonel Brandon is the most underrated Jane Austen character of all time?

 Ok. Let’s dig deep into the development of this man. Step by step. (I’m sure I will succeed in persuading you!)

  1. Meets Marianne. Falls head over heals immediately. 
  2. Tries to befriend her in the most gentlemanly way possible. 
  3. Appears as rather dull and wearisome in the beginning, making Marianne completely disinterested (judging by her blossoming youth and her wish to walk on the wild-side for a little bit before settling – this doesn’t come off as too surprising for either Colonel or the reader. After all, the age-gap isn’t precisely small).
  4. Colonel decides to take a step back when it comes to courting her – however (attraction set aside) he continues appreciating Marianne’s music and interest for poetry. 
  5. Marianne is swept off her feet by a young, extrovert bachelor called Willoughby. He is everything Colonel is not. Charming, flirtatious and good with the ladies. While Marianne and her new man engage in a small romance – no one is able to foresee Willoughby’s cruel intentions – EXCPEPT FOR Colonel. Since Colonel’s past has Willoughby in it – he knows a little something more about him than anyone else. STILL he respects Marianne’s choice, because he loves her and he wants her to be happy. Uhmm – HELLO? MAJOR GENTLEMAN ALLERT or what?
  6. As expected – Willoughby leaves Marianne to marry a woman with better prospects.
  7. Marianne falls into a depression.
  8. Marianne falls dangerously ill. 
  9. When Colonel hears of her poor condition, he is soon to be by her side. 
  10. When Marianne is close to recovery, he keeps her company everyday; reading poetry out loud, making sure she stays outside to get some sun … just … HOW CAN A MAN BE THIS PERFECT? 
  11. Oh and last but not least – Marianne understands how wrong she’s been and ends up marrying the one and only Jane Austen hero, Colonel Brandon. And of course, they live happily ever after, because how can you not be happy with a man who loves you unconditionally, helps your family out whenever it’s needed and takes care of you whenever you’re sick? 

 

So – do you see my point now? 

Colonel stayed with Marianne through thick and thin, in sickness and in health – even before they got married and promised each other exactly these things! If you ask me, he’s the safest choice when it comes to matrimony. Therefor, a TRUE Jane Austen hero. 

Do you agree with my choice, or did you think I would have someone else in mind? 

Either way, I would like to hear your opinion on the matter! Comment down below or give me a message, and I’ll keep it up with more of these articles:) 

Love, 

Aftur S. Nerdrum 

 

Paintings that have inspired my writing

A book. A friend’s story of a friend. Your mother’s childhood. Your father’s employee’s childhood. A piece of music. A theatre play. A conversation happening two tables behind you at a caffe-shop. Two children playing in the park. A mother kissing her infant child. Writers can get inspired by anything, anywhere, at any time. And as much as all these things have captured my interest for another side-story in a book – narrative paintings have also done a remarkable job for me. 

My wish is to welcome you, writers, to another world of great inspirations, namely figurative painting.

So I hope you’ll enjoy my little list of paintings that have guided me throughout a very fun (although hopeless at times) writing-process! 

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 1. Thomas Wilmer Dewing – “La Pêche” 

This one inspired me to write about a place in one of my character’s imagination; a utopia, where nymph-looking women run freely around, sings, dances and creates beauty wherever they go. 

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2. John William Waterhouse – “The Decameron” 

This painting made me want to include a scene; explaining a very charming and seductive (but deceiving) character. 

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 3. John William Waterhouse – “Lamia and the Soldier” 

“Lamia and the Soldier” is a perfect illustration of every girl’s fantasy when growing up. Meeting a handsome soldier in the middle of a wild forest is just about everything a 13-year old little girl wishes to happen to her – so I took the liberty to use this image to describe an innocent fantasy of a young character. 

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 4. Odd Nerdrum – “Embrace” 

This one is also a fantasy, but a little bit more dramatic, not so sweet. Therefor, closer to reality. It’s a timeless motif of two lovers, either meeting each other after a long time apart – or holding on to each other, making sure the other one doesn’t slip away. Either way, it’s perfectly usable in literature. 

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5. Odd Nerdrum – “Memorosa” 

One can make many symbols out of this. For example; the big men on the left with the weapons are the government, in power over the individual (the individual being the mother of course.) Personally, I have always been drawn to death in literature. Especially the death of a mother. So I look at this motif quite literary: A mother is being executed right in front of the innocent eyes of a child. Now, the child has to survive on it’s own in a harsh, cruel world, full of big men with weapons.  

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 6. Odd Nerdrum – “Refugees at the Ocean”

When I was little, I saw this painting in one of my father’s books. Later that night, I had the most terrible nightmare. I dreamt that this ship, full of refugees, came and took me as their child-prisoner. During my imprisonment, I was beaten, tortured and treated very badly by all of them. All I wanted was to go back to my family, but I couldn’t – because they had already killed them. You can say this painting had a huge impact on me for many years. Of course, I ignored looking at it again for a very long time – until one day, when I was writing on my story.  I ended up writing about this character who had the exact same dream, although this time, it had a more symbolic meaning behind it. 

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 7. Rembrandt – “Jacob Blessing the Sons of Joseph” 

I first saw this painting in a museum, together with my parents. For some reason, I thought the old man (Jacob) was dying – and so I instantly started envisioning my own father lying on his deathbed, and us, saying farewell to him. As you can imagine, I got really sad, because I made up this whole story in my head. Obviously, I have used it in my writing later. 

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8. Rembrandt – “Philosopher in Meditation” 

When I saw this, I felt so inspired. Not because of the meditating philosopher, but because of the way this house and it’s furnitures are built. The stairs curling up towards the ceiling, the little door behind the old man. It looks a little bit like the house of a hobbit. And so I sat down and began to describe an old man’s house. Detailed and thorough. I wanted it to sound exactly like what the viewer sees in this painting. 

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 9. Raúl Campos – “Mujer con Pájaro” 

There is a chapter in my story which is all about this young girl, trying to survive on her own, without any money or any caretakers. So she goes out to hunt for something to eat, and comes home with a dead bird in her hands, looking more dramatic than anyone, debating in her mind wether or not she just did the right thing. Obviously, this painting inspired this scene.

 

Be sure to give me a message if any of you guys have felt inspiration flowing by any figurative, narrative paintings. If not – what inspires you the most? Should painting, music and literature always go together in the same category? Let me know your thoughts on this in the comments below! 

Love, 

Aftur S. Nerdrum