Meet Nina Sandvik, Jenny Sandvik and Kristin Yttredal.
I truly love a great conversation with interesting people. Last week I had a chance to pick the brains of three inspiring women. Oh, I enjoyed my self, and I’m so grateful and happy they’re okay with me sharing some of our reflections here.
Nina is from Stavanger, living in Los Angeles, Jenny is from New York, (married to Nina’s brother), and living in Stavanger. Kristin is one of my dearest friends, going all the way back to earlydays at Stord, and we have so much in common. I think it’s safe to say we are both light spirited – and we share many memories of lots of fun growing up on this beautiful island, on the South-Western coast of Norway. I lived in Africa for two years as a child, and she lived on Svalbard for a couple of years. We actually talked about that, and about how much that probably have influenced the choices we’ve made becoming grown-ups.
I was going to see Nina when I was in LA before Christmas, but I didn’t have very much time, so we decided to meet up when she was back in Stavanger for the holidays. I normally meet with Jenny through Kristin, and every time we’re together we have these great chats, and I just love being around her. In addition to her being a fantastic person, she also has this wonderful, lovable and fun American personality. Oh, how often i miss that kindred spirit I remember so well from living in the States. As much as I love being a Norwegian, and living in what I think is the greatest country in the world, in so many ways, I find us being somewhat reticent and shy as a people. Although we are truly warm and caring people, quite possibly we are holding each other back way too much, instead of inspiring and cheering one another, nudging our children and friends to seek their full potential. Maybe that’s why I find it so easy to understand Nina’s choice of living in California, and in that regard I also must add, I’m a bit curious to how Jenny finds it living in Norway. I think Stavanger is the most internationalized city in Norway because of our oil-history. (The city is the oil and energy capital of Norway, and in addition to 30-40 years of an economic (exponential?) growth, this city is also home to so many expats who’ve decided to settle down here).
So what are Nina and Jenny’s thoughts on women in USA and Norway? Do we share the same mindsets and through that – do we make the same typical choices for ourselves? Or are there cultural differences?
Jenny is a working mom. She works in communications with a large Norwegian company that operates globally. She has four kids, and I must say – I don’t know how she does that – I have three girls, but they are so far apart in age that we’ve never felt the daily life challenges from following up more than one child at a time. How on earth is it possible when you have four?
“As an only child, I have always wanted 4 children. It’s been my number since I was probably 8 years old. But I feel really fortunate to live in Norway because the support networks of the government – especially when you don’t have any family support – makes it doable.” We talk about women in Norway, and how incredibly high expectations they set for themselves. According to Jenny and Nina, the American women are not as fixed on creating this perfect image on all “arenas” that we operate. American women are not judged for being stay-at-home-moms. It’s very acceptable there probably because it is, in many cases, necessary. “Many of my childhood girlfriends went to good universities, have degrees, worked several years and then stayed at home with children after that, because the high cost of childcare didn’t make working a viable choice. Also, if you are lucky enough to have a great, fulfilling AND well-paid career as a woman in America, you can afford to buy the help you need to manage the home and family-life as well. In Norway, it’s expected that you can do it all…. and do it all well.”
In Norway women define their identity more by what job they have. And here – is it not enough to have a job? Are you supposed to LOVE it too? Sometimes a job is just that – a job – and there are those who would rather be homemakers… if it were more socially acceptable here. I think they’re right….. At least I recognize that for myself, and I think Kristin does too. We (Norwegian women) also strive to have impeccable and beautiful homes, bodies, children, hobbies, interests, minds…. We need to constantly work on taking care of ourselves with workouts, facials, nutritious food and intellectual input like reading, going to movies, theatre, galleries and traveling….. Just to mention some of it. And where does it leave us at the end of the day? Are we truly happy and fulfilled? Or are we on a constant rollercoaster searching and looking for continual improvement on all our operating arenas?
Friends know her as warm and caring. Every year she comes home to Stavanger for a month during summer, and continues to be the one holding the whole extended family close together. Nina’s story on moving to LA, as a single mom, not knowing anyone, impresses me, and I find it so inspiring to learn how you can establish a wonderful life by realizing that it’s actually all up to you. Having settled in LA, her open mind, curiosity and courage took her to events, classes and workout-groups to meet new people. As I have been working in marketing for so many years, I know the importance of making yourself “get out there”. Meet people, stay openminded, make new relations, talk to people completely different from you. I have picked this up through age, experience, work and colleagues. But this is something everyone should do. (I know our nation would prosper on it.) No matter what field you’re in or where you live, we all need to broaden our minds and make new relations. Yet, so many people don’t. They choose the comfortable life of sticking to the safety of their homes, no more than their existing friends and all the familiar places. I’m fascinated by Nina who could so easily have moved back to her friends and family in Norway, yet she chose the new, exciting and unfamiliar. She told us about the years of making herself go out, meeting up with new people, broadening horizons and learning new things all the time. She also talked about how this have given her such an interesting and wide variety of friends now. #Diversity #Curiosity #Learning Might that be quite a cultural difference as well?
As mentioned, Kristin and I share a history of growing up at the same place, hanging out with the same people, we’re the same age and so on. Not so diverse…. Yet, Kristin had these years on Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic ocean. I remember her telling me about life there, so different from the south of Norway. Seem like they didn’t have the same boundaries as we did, and I’m also recognizing now the value of living in a place where most people don’t know each other from before, every one coming from different places in Norway and from foreign countries. #diversity After high school I remember Kristin studied in Germany, England and Oslo, and I was so fascinated by her stories, all the exciting new people she met – and that pretty early she got an inspiring insight on living and working abroad. Still she inspires me with her network of so many interesting women. She has stayed curious and open, and I’m positive – by doing that, she might be close to a magician when it comes to networking and making new friends. I love that about her, and I’m thinking that is something we all should be inspired by. And then pay it forward to our children. #relationships
I’ve seen a TED talk (several times….) about the world’s longest study on happiness, “What makes a good life”. I love it, and I think you will too, it’s only around 10 minutes. Spoiler alert; The study concludes that what a good life is about is having good relationships. They found that the people who were most happy with their relationships in their 50s, were the most healthy in their 80s. Safe relationships protect, and loneliness isolates and kills.
So – I want to end this post by encouraging all Norwegian women who find themselves somewhat trapped on the never-ending improvement-rollercoaster: Lets learn from Nina, Kristin, Jenny and the rest of our American sisters – take all the constant work down a notch – have more fun and build meaningful relationships 😍
Peace & love to all of you – and have a great week!