‘It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.’

Oriah Mountain Dreamer


This is the last of three posts during my break this summer which combines the profound words from the beginning of ‘The Invitation’ by Oriah Mountain Dreamer with pictures from a beautiful calendar which our company gave out many years ago. It features watercolours of lives during the Viking Age. Never having the heart to throw away the calendar I welcome the opportunity to show these images here accompanied by the inspiring words of Oriah, who I recently came across here on WP. Since I am just back from my long visit abroad, I am at last connected to wifi and look forward to your comments about this series of posts, words and pictures. Wishing you all a very Happy Sunday!


97 thoughts on “COURAGE

    1. I was struck immediately by the quotation and can’t wait to read the book…your words here drives it to the top of my list! So glad you enjoyed the post and thank you very much for your comment, Teagan. hugs xx

      1. It’s been a long time since I sat down with it. Your post reminds me that I really need to do something like that. Stress and the politics of working in DC have become too much. There’s an “invitation” to something more, right there on my bookshelf… Have a good new week.

  1. “I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments”: I love that statement… Gladly, I can say, I can…. To the point that I prefer being alone many times… I am not sure if itΒ΄s 100% a good thing. But, definitely feeling at ease when we are alone ourselves is a good thing.
    Love this post, dear Annika. So much to ponder ⭐ xx

    1. Thank you so much, Aquileana…Oriah’s words are definitely ones to ponder and reflect upon. πŸ˜€ As for preferring to be alone at times – I feel that is 100% okay!! I know of no other way to be creative, thoughtful, to work than alone! Of course, alone is always best when you know ‘with someone time’ is around the corner. ❀️

  2. Annika this is an interesting post and I have liked most comments here.
    A beautiful asking and awaiting for much more beautiful answers is amazing.
    The images are also wonderful.
    With Great LoveπŸŒ·πŸ’—

    1. Shiva, thank you so much for your kind words. It is a huge asking I agree and requires us all to look deeply within ourselves. I’m so glad you liked many of the comments – I feel honoured and humbled by them and it’s wonderful to ‘converse’ with so many lovely people around the globe. Warmest wishes for a peaceful Sunday for you. πŸ˜€β€οΈ

  3. Welcome back, Annika! I hope your vacation was filled with fun and relaxation. The posts of this calendar are wonderful; the pictures are beautiful, almost as much as the words. Profound poetry in these. I hope we’ll hear next about your holiday πŸ™‚ Have a great rest of your week!

    1. Thank you so much, Julie and it was a wonderful holiday! πŸ˜€ I came back to a garden full of weeds and lots of pots barely surviving so starting to sort these out! I’m not posting about my holiday just yet as the next one is a guest post about Family Histories on Adrienne Morris’s blog – keep a look out on Sunday! Something a bit different…

      Thank you for your lovely words about this series of posts, I love how you see poetry in the quotations and realise you are right – thank you for pointing it out. My week is getting by the day as my spirit seems to have been reunited with my body at last!! Tomorrow is a BIG day as my son gets his GCSE results – both excited and nervous! Warmest wishes and wishing you many Happy Writing/Editing moments. xx

  4. I too, have enjoyed all your holiday posts, Annika. The paintings are lovely – I especially love the jewel-like colours.
    I had never heard of Oriah before. What challenges she sets! Being true to oneself often means disappointing others which I find very difficult!

    1. Oh wow! Clare, that is a wonderful observation about the colours being jewel-like – I can see that now you mention it – a beautiful description.πŸ˜€ I’ve read Oriah’s words here many times now and yes, blimey, the hugest of challenges whilst also accepting everyone as they are, without pre-judgements. How often don’t we want to please others and in the process lose a bit of ourselves…it’s easy to fall into this trap and I’m sure I’m as guilty as many although at least I’m conscious of it now and trying to make changes where possible. Time seems to make it easier to be yourself and worry less about others.I reckon along the way you meet your own ‘family’. Many thanks for your lovely reflective comment and sharing your thoughts here. πŸ˜€β€οΈ

  5. I’m a bit embarrassed to say I hadn’t known of Oriah Mountain Dreamer before your inspiring summertime posts. THANK YOU. The words are beyond special. They are entering my heart, and the artwork along with them.

    1. Pam, I’d never heard of her before either…I know what you mean though, it just feels as if she should have been part of our lives earlier! πŸ˜€I’m so glad you enjoyed the series and your warm words have added a special glow to my day. ❀️

  6. I’m not surprised you kept the calendar, Annika. The illustrations are delightful and it was a nice idea to show them in your absence. Welcome back. Hope it was a lovely break for you. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    1. Jo, it was a very special, magical break…always hard to settle back though. I came across the calendar earlier this year and anything unusual, memorable my first thoughts go to the blog! My son is so used to me uttering these words he now says them first! πŸ˜€

      1. My husband’s the same- wanders round pointing saying ‘bridge challenge? stepping stones challenge? small round pebbles challenge?’ Mildly annoying at times πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  7. Reblogged this on Nehal's World and commented:
    My heart fills with respect for this inspiring Lady Oriah ! Words of wisdom written many years ago, Like sufi poets and ancient Indian Rishis. Wish to explore more ! πŸ™‚

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed this series, Mary Ann – it’s been a joy to share them here! πŸ˜ƒ The holiday was as wonderful and gradually adjusting to ‘normal’ life. It always seems to take a little while.

  8. Anonymous

    Until now I had never heard of Oriah, but his words are an inspiration. Together with the fantastic colourful pictures depicting viking life your posts have been an uplifting experience. Thanks Annika and i hope you had a great break.


    1. Thank you, Mike, I had a truly wonderful, magical holiday! πŸ˜€ I’m so happy you found the posts an uplifting experience, that was my intention…Oriah’s words are full of wisdom and I was happy to come across her words to match with the paintings; their depiction of the everyday life is a joy to behold.

  9. Thanks for leaving us with these beautiful words of wisdom and images while you were on vacation. Much to ponder. Welcome back friend. I hope it was a blast! πŸ™‚ xx

    1. Thank you so much, Debby – it’s lovely to be back and I had a brilliant holiday…lots of variety which is always the best! πŸ˜€ I’m so glad you enjoyed this series of posts and that the combination worked so well…my break seemed the perfect time to release them.

      1. Yes, what a great idea to leave these inspirational posts behind for us. while turning off comments. I’ll have to remember that for my next vacation. πŸ™‚ xx

        1. Without wifi it is the only way I could manage without being swamped with comments on my return. At Easter I didn’t even turn on the comments for the last in another series and I got a bit of a ‘ticking off’ by Diana (only kidding!!) – she was right though. People did want to comment on them and the last post seems the perfect occasion to turn on comments, especially when timed when back home! πŸ˜€

    1. Thank you so much, Andrea…yes, my summer did indeed have all these things! πŸ˜€πŸ˜€ The colour of the landscape at times breathtaking, crystal clear blue of the sea and sky, the latter which seemed to be a giant dome over us, sweeping scenery. The variety of the hues of the green of the forest never failed to astonish me…a wonderful feature and experience. As for wisdom…that I hope to have gleaned from some of the books I read, the people I talked with…It’s lovely to be back and ‘chatting’ away here! πŸ˜€β€οΈ

  10. Oh Annika, I love this. I’ve already followed her on Facebook. So thought provoking and such a way to get those hard questions across as to what really matters. The images are beautiful also, I am fascinated with the Vikings and their history! Welcome back, I’ve missed you! xo

    1. Lana, how great that you already follow Oriah on FB – I’ve just started to follow her on Twitter (I don’t have Facebook). I adore the quotations I have printed here and find deeper, further meaning on every reading…they really challenge us to look deeply within ourselves with absolute honesty. Oh, these paintings were just perfect for you and your interest in Viking history – isn’t it wonderful to see their normal lives portrayed with such care, detail, colour and skill?! Finally, also many thanks for the welcome back, it’s brilliant to be back and particularly connecting again…trying to catch up! hugs πŸ˜€β€οΈ

        1. Lana, I’m not sure if you’ve told me either – please do remind me? Recent family connection? In the UK they only teach about the Vikings brutality so I especially liked to share these pictures.

          1. Oh, it is just that I have mostly Scandinavian roots, which I rather knew before I did my DNA on I had spent many years doing genealogical research, and I already knew that my father’s side were primarily Scots and Scots-Irish, and my mother’s side were primarily English. The only surprise I had in my DNA was a wee bit of Russian. I ordered my great-great-grandfather’s military records when he served in the Mexican/American war. In a time when people were not that large, he was over 6 ft. with blonde hair and blue eyes. My primary English surnames are Greenwood (the above listed grandpa) and Strickland. I was in touch with a UK blogger a long time ago who was related to the Greenwood family also (don’t know if it was the same). I know there is a Greenwood Forest there and I’ve often wondered if they all lived there at one time. My Strickland cousins have worked meticulously to get back to Sizergh Castle (don’t know if they have been successful at establishing those roots). I love family research and I hope to do more of it someday.

            1. Wow! That’s in depth and fantastic amount of research and what a wonderful rich family history. I hope you get a chance to focus on this even more at some stage…a book in the making perhaps?? πŸ˜€πŸ˜€

              1. There is one interesting thing in all that history that I wish I had the time to explore: I had a father and son in my family tree that broke apart and fought on different sides in the Civil War. I’ve often wondered about that story, and thought it would be a good one to tell. Sadly, I will never have the time to find out and write about it, but I know I will always wonder.

  11. Welcome back, Annika. Beautiful images – I like how colorful and graceful they are and can understand why you love them. When I was working in mental health with poor young families I used to give a framed copy of this poem by Oriah Mountain Dreamer to the parent(s). It encapsulated my approach to counseling and my respect for their strengths and capacity for living from the heart. It’s one of my favorite poems ever and I loved reading it on your beautiful blog. πŸ˜€ ❀

    1. Diana, what a wonderful, thoughtful gift to the parents and they were lucky to have such a wise and gentle counselor. I am sure these words brought much comfort and strength during their difficulties and for life in the future. Her words address the very heart and soul of an individual – not easy to honestly look at oneself but given the time it gives one the steps to live a more fulfilling life. Thank you so much for your interesting, illuminating and kind comment.πŸ˜€β€οΈ

      1. Many of my clients were terribly poor, Annika, which often left them feeling diminished. My intention was to honor their value as human beings and the richness of their souls. That poem said it all. ❀

    1. Thank you so much, Bette…wishing you a peaceful, joyful week too! πŸ˜€β€οΈ PS. I saw so many monarch butterflies on my holiday; magical and I couldn’t help but think of you!

  12. Wise words, Annika. I’ve been slowly making my way through Siddhartha by Herman Hesse again, which is something I do every decade or so. I took it with me on my backpacking trips this summer when I disappeared into the beauty and peace of the wilderness, including two times by myself. As I noted in my blog, the book reminds me to live in the present, recognize the interconnectivity of all things, and find value beyond the materialism that seems to dominate so much of our lives. While I agreed with each of Oriah’s four statements, the last was particularly relevant given my recent trips into the mountains by myself. –Curt

    1. Curt, I imagine you find great peace in your own company…your trips up the mountains must be amazing and I smiled at your ‘light’ reading! πŸ˜ƒ I’ve never read Siddhartha but following your excellent words about it, I have now added it to my reading list. During the summer away it was very much a matter of living in the present, surrounded by nature which seems to ‘speak’ as much as any verbal exchange and although not camping, living simply with so much less than normal. It’s a bit of a shock to come home…do you find that too? How do you cope? Many thanks for your deep thoughtful comment, Curt!

      1. In ways, Annika, backpacking helps me appreciate home in a different way, for example, having a toilet as opposed to digging a hole out in the woods! Our life here is relatively simple, living out in the woods as we do. I enjoy both hitting the trail and returning home. Each brings its own type of joy. –Curt

  13. My curiosity with each post has mounted as I have been wondering whether these paintings were done by the same Dreamer who has summed up the philosophy of life so beautifully! If you ask β€˜can you disappoint another…can you betray your soul…can you live with failure…can you stand with me even in the center of fire…or be alone with yourself’…it turns you back to your own self, to search within, to introspect and find the answers…a mammoth journey of self-discovery! Loved the inspiration.
    Many thanks dear Annika for sharing those words of profound prudence and the beautiful paintings of the bygone era. So glad that you didn’t have the heart to throw those calendars away. I have been reading and re-reading the poetry that introduces us to what is life!
    I am happy that you are back in body…spirit follows when we immerse ourselves in words. πŸ™‚ Have a wonderful Sunday!

    1. Balroop, the paintings are by a Swedish artist but I had been looking for some words to match them and when I came across Oriah’s words I knew these were a perfect! Oh yes, the calendar is safe, tempting to frame some prints but it’s just a matter of wall space! Oriah asks intense and profound questions of us all, as you so rightly point out and ones that can be uncomfortable, difficult even. I’ve found new parts stand out upon each reading, new meanings deciphered. Eerie. I heeded your wise words and took time out for some writing yesterday…feeling much better and grounded. Thank you! πŸ˜ƒβ€οΈ

  14. No truer words. People get wrapped around perceptions and lose track of what’s important. I wish everyone would re-evaluate based on these words.

    Who do you work for that published such gorgeous pictures?

    1. Jacqui, wouldn’t it be great if everyone took a look and heed of these words – what a different world it would be! πŸ˜€ It starts with a few and I have a feeling her words and wisdom is becoming better known all the time. ❀️

  15. Thank you Annika! You have given me so much joy with your posts spanning the holiday times.
    To introduce us to Oriah, a most remarkable author and woman. Your beautiful quote I copied first time but today I did a search on the net and found an extra-ordinary woman. Am ordering a book today. Thanks to you.

    The art depicting Viking era and their trading as far as Persia are stunning in their execution and colours. They all seem so happy. 😊 .
    Welcome back !

    1. miriam, thank you so much for your wonderful comment!! ❀️ As an artist yourself I thought you might look closely at the paintings, they are a uniquely gentle representation of Viking life, full of joy. With so many pictures to chose from it made sense to post them in a series over the summer holidays; it just took a while to find the right words to accompany them.

      Wow! I’m so happy you liked Oriah’s words so much and that you’ve ordered her book. You’ve inspired me to buy one too…just can’t decide which one!! Her story alone touches me deeply and like me, she suffered from the debilitating illness of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – a much-misunderstood illness.

      Ahh…thank you so much for the greeting upon my return. It’s lovely to be back but slightly disorientating after such a long time away (not that I’m complaining!!). πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒβ€οΈ

      1. πŸ˜ŠπŸ¦‹ Of course you are not complaining. I must say that I still am gradually coming back, this morning I started driving on the right side desperately hitting my hand in the door to find gears ( shifts ) until the brain went into gear.:)

        I did see that Oriah suffered Chrinic Fatigue syndrome, an illness that finally won proper recognition. Often combined with sudden traumas. Hope you found coping mechanisms.

  16. Annika, I remember a few years ago having read the Oriah Mountain Dreamer. As with most things with I was busy with something else and put it aside. It was wasn’t until you brought it back to me that I recall reading it.. I think the drawings for the calender is what really makes these words come alive again. I can see framing these paintings after the year has run its course. Thank you for these post… jc

    1. JC, sometimes you come across writings for which your soul is just not ready and whose wisdom needs a quieter reflection.πŸ˜ƒ I’m so happy to bring this reminder of her words – as I’ve never read her writings before they struck me deeply. Oh, there has been much discussion what to do with the prints – I’d love to frame them but it’s a matter of wall space (and little of that with so many bookcases everywhere!!). All safely stored away for now. Many thanks for your interesting reflective comment. Warmest wishes for a good week ahead. πŸ˜ƒ

    1. I made the same mistake until I discovered Oriah is actually a woman who changed her name later in life following a debilitating illness…her writings are mesmerising and inspiring – luckily she’s written quite a few books which I plan to check out! Many thanks for your lovely comment. πŸ˜€

      1. That makes it more interesting. Her words are like those of sufi and our ancient rishi. Please share names of the available books and publication. Thanks again. I wish to reblog this post on my blog. May I ?

    1. Ditto, Jill…time alone is a treat! πŸ˜ƒ I never could understand anything else. I’m so happy you’ve enjoyed these posts, it is a joy to share the wisdom of her words with these colourful delightful paintings. hugs & warmest thoughts xx

  17. Annika, Opening and then reading these posts has been like receiving a beautiful box of chocolates that have a heavenly taste. Thanks for introducing me to Oriah and I so enjoy every time you share Nordic art.

    1. Ahh…thank you so much for your touching comment, Bernadette…to be able to share these ‘treats’ is a joy! ❀️ I’m so glad you’ve been able to enjoy and savour them. xx

  18. Agree, these words stand out and have drawn me in. I was told by a blogging friend to have the courage of my characters and take the next steps to send off my novel! I love these Viking illustrations and what a great idea to use them! Welcome back from your travels.

    1. Yippee!! πŸ˜ƒ Congratulations, Georgina, on having the courage to send off your novel, it’s never easy and I wish you the best of luck!! Please let me know when you hear anything (and I’ll also be following for news on your blog!). The peace and depth of love for life in these illustrations are wonderful and coming across the calendar recently it seemed clear that they should be shared and the blog was the natural place! Thank you, it’s lovely to be back…now have had a few days to settle down.

      1. Thanks, Annika, I pressed the send button yesterday! But now am checking through a tricky bit of the novel later on as had some feedback on making it a bit clearer! Need to hone a bit more and be detached and think of reader! Those illustrations are so beautiful. Will post soon but am really trying to prioritise the novel now!

  19. PeterR

    Three inspired and inspiring posts, Annika. I think I need to print the words out, go to a quiet corner away from the distraction of the screen, and read them with care, thought and love.

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