Skip to content

Learning to be still

January 10, 2014
Embracing a new tradition need not be fancy.  Our hodge podge collection worked just fine.

Embracing a new tradition need not be fancy. Our hodge podge collection worked just fine.

Recently, there was a linguistics survey from the New York Times floating around that would generate a map of your personal dialect.  The questions are based off the Harvard Dialect Survey, which is a linguistics project conducted by two researchers.  The link for the survey is found at the end of this blog. Friends and family were producing great maps that were spot on for their patterns of speech.

Sweet tea in hand, I sat down to answer the online questions.  At the conclusion, I waited for my own map to be generated.

For those among us who share with me the experience of never finding their name among personalized merchandise at the store, my experience with creating a personal language map was equally as disappointing. This bust was not for lacking of trying; as I attempted the quiz three more times.  All with the same result – no map was generated.

I am guessing any person who grew up on military bases, had a college coach or travelling salesman for a parent, or was the child of Bedouins would have the same frustrating experience as I did with that map.  Because I have lived in many different regions of the country, my linguistic patterns have become a literal melting pot of the vernacular.

Now this might really put a damper on some things – like not having my own map that I can post on Facebook, but in reality, there are some up sides of growing up as a nomad. The biggest benefit is having friends in just about every corner of the world, and never really feeling like a stranger anywhere you travel.  The second biggest benefit is adopting the customs of the locals that best suit your heart.

Ethnically, I like to identify with my Irish roots the most, and we incorporate plenty of Irish traditions in our home.  Yet through all my life experiences, we have assimilated traditions that belong to other groups as well.  Lefse making from the Norwegians, aebleskivers from the Danes, and meatballs from the Swedes are all regular part of our culinary repertoire.  Sauna like the Finns never hurts either.

In the last week, I read an article passed on from some friends regarding a Danish tradition that we are not only adopting, but are also embracing with full spirits.  This new tradition is known as hygge. I highly recommend the article I read as well as the article it is based upon.

Since there is no direct English translation, I love this description by author Helen Dyrbye in Xenophobe’s Guide to the Danes  “<Hygge> is the art of creating intimacy: a sense of comradeship, conviviality and contentment rolled into one.”

That description sounds like bliss to me, which is exactly why we have been practicing hygge in our home for the last week.  Sure that isn’t much of a test run, but the spirit of calm in our home since we conscientiously put hygge into practice has been amazing.  We lit candles in the early afternoon which seemed to stave off the blues of the setting sun and dark Minnesota winters.  All five of us sat in a room together on Sunday afternoon doing quiet things, together and separately. Not since we implemented the required Sunday nap when most everyone was little have we done anything collectively on Sabbath outside of church.

We embraced the coziness of being together as a family.  Last night at supper without being asked, our son lit candles for the table.  As I watched him light each one, I knew the Danes were on to something. A custom that all our spirits needed – not just mine.  It truly is the little things that matter.

For those that know my personal quest to reduce chaos in my life, I believe that God wanted me to read that article for real reasons. I have been moved to tears – happy tears – a few times this week as we have worshipped, fellowshipped, and relaxed together.

For a girl who still cannot pronounce the words “pen” and “pin” and make them sound different, my pronunciation of hygge probably isn’t better.  Somehow I don’t think God (or my family) cares about my diction. We have found the perfect new tradition of “learning to be still” to cultivate and cherish because frankly exhausted, chaotic, and frenetic weren’t working so well.  I am just wondering what took us so long to get here.

Hoping God blesses you with hygge this week!

  1. melissafaithbodin permalink

    LOVE this and NEED this! Thanks, dear friend, for sharing!

  2. You are so welcome. One thing I have learned over the course of this week is that our silly comes out much more (hard to believe) when we are purposefully slowing down. So imagine me right now, with a quick arm cross and a “BAM! Got yo’ back girlfriend!” At which point if my kids were home they would either roll their eyes or roll on the floor laughing. 🙂

  3. The dialect quiz is fun. Thanks for sharing! I took the quiz even though I am English, not American. I don’t speak any particular English dialect but it was interesting to see the results of the quiz: the map generated showed New York and Rochester as the strongest matches, followed by Saint Louis.

    I like the concept of “hygge”. It is definitely beneficial to have some quiet, still time on a regular basis. I like sitting quietly with my cup of herbal tea each morning and reading the blog posts which have popped up in my Reader overnight.

    • Grace – thanks for stopping by. I am glad you enjoyed the quiz, and am tad bit envious you were given a map.

      I love your concept of hygge, and I wholeheartedly agree that we all need more often than we do. Blessings to you – Kandy

  4. Wait! Pen and pin are supposed to sound differently? What about bean and being? No wonder Siri (on my phone) can’t understand me. I’m going to go light some candles now. Excellent idea.

    • Oh my goodness, dear Nancy – I am so glad I waited until I was outside of the school building to read this response. I struggle with all sorts of vowel issues – which is how I know that I was not destined to be a Language Arts teacher. Still and steal sound an awful lot the same in my vocabulary. I refer all things of pronunciation to my North Dakota raised husband. He just shrugs and smiles. Trust me, there is something calming about candles. The Danes are on to something.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Under the sea | kandynolesstevens

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: