The Road Less Traveled – My Journey Abroad

I have no idea where this is going, but I know it’s important to release it into the cyberspace cosmos.

My wife and I met on a set of fateful circumstances, and coming out of a major life transition it was quite easy to “jump ship” and stay abroad after our initial time spent together on the canals in England.

We were madly in love, and had harnessed this incredible flow and synergy that is hard to describe. I suddenly became a step father to a beautiful new soul daughter, decided for one full year to stick to a code of 6 things (no TV, gossip, processed foods, and a few others) as I was evolving at rapid pace in this new strange land and documented it all via “Lessons from Abroad.”

The winters were long and the days were dark, but with us landing right after a good snow arrived you got the magical crunch and beautiful reflections  from the moon against the white snow.

Everything was new! Everything was possible!

I started writing a lot, and we eventually launched a blog site and life long vision we called Solgave.

We, or at least I, decided that it would be a great idea to branch out on our own. It would be relatively cheap to start a new business in the US, and a great chance for our blended family to solidify the roles and harmony of the three of us (and coming baby would make four)

So we went!

My wife and step daughter went through the immigration process that I went through here (although more comprehensive, more costly, etc) and we took some ideas from our mind, plans from paper and launched a professional animal care company that would go from nothing to semi finalist of an entrepreneur based accelerator competition called the NWA Startup Cup within 6 months!

My god, were we moving fast.

We went from living at a tiny  place on the lake in Grove, Oklahoma until we could find a small apartment in Fayetteville, Arkansas. We grew fast enough that by December we were in a small house in a nice neighborhood close to Gabi’s school and momentum was definitely on our side.

At least until around the end of that year-beginning of the next year…when plans fell through to get my wife and step daughter back to Norway for a well needed visit  for budget reasons.

It would not be until the summer that we could afford to go when meant approaching a full 1.5 years away.

This was a tough time on our marriage, on our identities, on our spirit. I can empathize with all things she struggled with living abroad. We were landlocked, and in a pocket of the country they call the “bible belt’ that just means more traditional conservative values and a more fundamental stance on Christianity and it’s role in our government and individual lives.

Due to a compromise and agreed plan, we decided to shift from a very expensive vacation for our family, and just move back the summer of 2014 versus planning it one year and coming the summer of 2015.

That pace means we were dizzy. Literally, dizzy.

We were growing through efforts in marital counseling, and facing things every couple does the first year or two.

Sunniva and I had not been apart much since the day we met. Based on my calculations (roughly) we, on average, are together 21.5 hours per day since we  met in London.

Compare that to your average working couple who don’t co-own a business and work together, who travel apart or just have hobbies that don’t overlap, and you get the same time that couples together 10 years have spent together.

Yep, 10 years.  I’ve done the math.

So we left our business in the care of competent hands, and we come to Sweden to explore life here. Both our dream Solgave Project, and even establishing professional animal care.

Today I’m drifting in my sense of “purpose” and a feeling of a slide backwards.

These are natural feelings for a person who had finally achieved independent success (not working for others, creating a brand you built from your creative space) and had a family of his own.

But this is what marriages are about. What parenting is about.

Great sacrifices.

When you come from different cultures, have children of your own, children you bring in as your own, grandparents on two separate continents, and ideas about how to proceed forward that are sometimes cloudy, you get confusion.  You get blockage of “flow.”

Right now, we are trying to redirect our sails as a couple who have spent the same time as most of you that have dated or been married for about ten years.

We have experienced SO MUCH of everything.

The pendulum swings the same distance when it comes to the good and the bad (possibilities at least) in relationships. Our highest highs and deepest connections came with a swing the other way when you are out of balance, and we kept pushing the envelope of comfort zones in each other and adding variables that brought new challenges. The lowest lows.  The darkest shadows. We’ve seen every corner of the metaphorical workings of each other’s minds.

That’s why work with soul mates is literally “tough” work.  You are constantly seeing sides of yourself, that force growth. Force hard looks. It’s exhausting at times, and very rewarding when you see the changes and keep evolving.

I believe that marriages take as much work as we put into child rearing. You have to put their “needs” first of course, but you can’t disregard the essence of the union and the essence of what each individual person needs to have “purpose.”

I’m an artist.  I’m a dreamer. I’m a father.

I’m back where we were in early 2012, struggling to find income just for food and petrol, and wondering how and what we launch here in Sweden.

We share space again with her mother, who is on the main level in a large Swedish farm home we share.

When the resources are there, we decide who gets this farm long term and how to proceed further.


The Great Sacrifice has been made by each of us now, and so we start again.

It’s freeing, and scary, and confusing, and inspiring, and frustrating, amazing, and tough.

I’ll continue being honest about our journey on our blog site and my new site that is examining the Scandinavian culture from American eyes 

Follow me on Instagram @americaninscandinavia as well!

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

One thought on “The Road Less Traveled – My Journey Abroad

  1. Those of us working on marriages these days I’m convinced have a new breed or definition of compromise than those of past generations. We’re trying to figure out how to evolve the union so that both spouses can participate in the rearing of the family while advancing and expanding our intellectual capacities. We are seeking a new definition of balance and maybe that’s why it’s so hard. We are pushing for the redefining of roles and I think that’s a damn good thing. But to quote my dear friend, JR, “It’s hard, yo”! Society is far more comfortable with gender roles being defined as Men bring home the bacon and protect the family while Women stay home and take care of the kids and the house. That is so wild to me because look at nature and you see example of females who help in the hunt (acquisition of resources) like the lioness. When she is out hunting the lion stays home and watches after the cubs. If the lion is out hunting, the lioness stays with the cubs. Makes sense, right? Hears to the struggle to help use all learn how to grow stronger partnerships and become better human beings.


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