Easter in Norrland

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Each Easter, we fly up to Northern Sweden, Norrland, where only approximately 12 percent of Sweden’s nearly 10  million inhabitants reside.  My sambo (live in boyfriend) grew up in a small village here a stone’s throw from the Baltic Sea.  Year round, it is the most breathtaking, picturesque part of the world I have ever seen.  Even the quality of the air feels different.

We arrived on Thursday and have since tasted some of the best local fish (bleak) grilled right over an open fire, walked and snowmobiled on the sea, and had the best homemade cookies (recipe to come) for our fika, the cherished coffee break in Sweden.  We have also spotted a herd of reindeer (owned by the indigenous Sami in Sweden) that roam freely through Northern Sweden.

Luleå is a city with a population of nearly 47,000.  It is known for Luleå University of Technology, Luleå Hockey Club, and it’s steel production.  It is part of Norrland, one of the three land regions in Sweden.

They have a saying in Sweden, “det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder,” which literally translates to “there is no bad weather, only bad clothes.”  In other words, there is no excuse to stay in when it is super cold or overcast.  I still struggle with this from time to time, but I am a Florida girl.  Swedes have evolved to make the best of any weather conditions.

I was reluctant to head outside yesterday as it was a bit overcast and super cold.  Today was another day.  The sun was shining in every direction, the sky was blue.  We decided to spend it the way most Swedes in the area spent the day, walking and snowmobiling on the frozen sea!!!

We celebrated Easter together with Fredrik’s family in his sister’s family’s cabin.  We ate grilled moose and reindeer from a bbq made in the snow.  Many Swedes own a “summer house” which often consists of a large open room complete with a primitive kitchen, dining, and sleeping areas.  Spring and Easter usually mark the time when Swedes open up their cabins for use.

Easter in Sweden is mostly secular.  The Easter bunny  is not as celebrated a tradition as back home.  Instead, children (boys and girls alike) dress up as Easter witches and go from house to house wishing their neighbours a Happy Easter.  In return, they are given candy (similar to trick or treating on Halloween).  In addition, parents give their children Easter “eggs” that are filled with candy.

FullSizeRender-56Food traditionally served around Easter can vary, but generally consists of boiled eggs, cured and/or smoked salmon, cold cuts (ham, moose, and/or lamb), cheese, bread, potatoes, and pickled herring.

 

Though I long for home every day (especially on holidays), Norrland and Sweden have been my second home for nearly six years.  My boyfriend’s family have always been so kind and welcoming to me.  They have made my holidays here very special.  While I recommend visiting Stockholm and Gothenburg, no trip to Sweden is complete without visiting the many wonders of Norrland.  Hoping everyone back home was spoiled by the Easter Bunny and enjoyed each other’s company ❤

 

March Nurse Feature: A Girl on a Mission

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Kristen and Faces of Tomorrow founder and director, Dr. Brian Rubinstein, making a difference ❤

Our March Nurse Feature follows a super inspiring nurse who has volunteered her way across the globe.  For those nurses afflicted by wander lust, meet Kristen.  She is an American nurse with a background in pediatric, newborn, and maternal health.  She currently lives in Romania with her husband and two adorable girls.  She is a founding board member of the non-profit, Faces of Tomorrow, and when she’s not on a mission, she’s planning the next.

I first met Kristen while working as a travel nurse in California.  She has this super infectious and enthusiastic personality like there is just not enough time to get all the things done in life one wants.  I am happy to call her my colleague and friend.

Where are you from?


I was born in Baltimore, Maryland and grew up in Crofton, Maryland. I moved to San  Francisco in 1999 and still consider it HOME. Currently, I’m living in Bucharest, Romania.

In what area of nursing do you work?


Maternal Child Health. I started in Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital. I worked in various areas of Pediatrics and then started travel nursing at hospitals in the Bay Area.  During that time I worked at UCSF, Stanford Children’s hospital, Oakland Children’s and a few Kaiser hospitals.  I ended up working at Marin General hospital on a travel contract and fell in love with the staff, patients, and hospital.  They offered to train me to work in postpartum, the newborn nursery, and at times the NICU as well as pediatrics.

I love being able to work in multiple areas with women and children. It’s nice to see healthy patients and families at times unlike acute pediatrics.  In addition, I started working at some underserved community clinics with adults and pediatrics to expand my skills and work in community public health.  Being part of the birth of a child and caring for the family right after birth is magical.  However, my heart still belongs to the pediatric patients-it’s my passion.

How long have you been a nurse?

19 years

What inspired you to be a nurse?

I’ve always loved kids and helping others. I’ve worked with kids in various capacities since I was in the 4th grade.  When I was in high school, I had a chance to take a health class and I found it interesting. Then in  college I visited the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D. C. and saw all babies born addicted to drugs. I was crushed and confused. I started volunteering to be a “holder” to comfort the babies withdrawing from cocaine. It was rewarding, heartbreaking, and confusing. It was then I knew that nursing was my true calling.

What advice would you give to a new nurse?

Follow your dreams, continue your education, diversify your skills, and volunteer or work with underserved populations in America and abroad. It’s essential to understand other cultures and to understand the issues within our own cultures and systems. Truly, it can help you be a better provider and empathize and connect with your patients on a much deeper level.

What advice would you give to a tired nurse?

I’m a big believer in self-care. There is a high burn out rate in nursing and without self-care it’s inevitable. I would recommend yoga, meditation, massage, and travel!  It’s not healthy to constantly do shift work, live with sleep deprivation, stressful situations, and the emotions involved with nursing and healthcare related jobs. Actually, I would give the same advice to anyone with any job…self-care is a must!

Thank you Kristen for your contribution!!  See more from my interview with Kristen and on her mission work in my upcoming Mighty Nurse Feature.  There is need everywhere in the world, even in our own cities.  What can you as an individual do to be of service to someone else?  There is an increasing epidemic of drug babies plaguing the U.S.  Find your local volunteer cuddle program and hold and love these babies.  Visit your local nursing home and spend a few hours with an elderly resident that has no family.

“The dedicated enjoy supreme peace. Therefore, live only to serve.”

 Sri Swami Satchidananda