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Posts from the ‘Career’ Category


The night before we left Boston to spend a year on Rødøy, we got cold feet. Sitting among 6 giant duffle bags, we asked ourselves, “Why are we doing this?”

We had a good life and had no need to escape anything. Instead of staying on that path, I resigned from my job and we set off to live on a small island north of the Arctic Circle for a year, with nothing planned beyond the year. It was crazy.

That night, we proceeded to work out all the necessary steps to reverse course. Despite the last minute doubts, we stuck to the plan. And it turned out to be the best thing our family has ever done.

6 months after we came back from our year off, the children are happy and well adjusted socially and intellectually. Kristin is teaching part-time at a private school in nearby Cambridge, and she loves her job. The app I started writing, Voice Dream Reader, has acquired a passionate customer-base around the globe, reaching top 10 grossing educations apps at one point or another in 48 countries. That doesn’t make us rich, but we live comfortably while my work gives me profound satisfaction: I feel closely connected to my customers and I’m making a small but positive difference in their lives.

I’ve changed. I think. It’s difficult to tell because I’m hardly a neutral observer of myself. When I talked to companies about jobs after I came back, I smiled and nodded but my heart just wasn’t in it. Meanwhile, I kept going back to work on my app even when sales had not taken off, stubbornly tolerating being unemployed far longer than the old me would have. Perhaps, the knowledge that we could live happily with less gave me strength. At the same time, I’m a lot less stressed about things, and I sometimes find the level of stress around me incomprehensible. I’d like to think that I became a better person.

But even if we did not end up at a better place after the year, we would still do it again without hesitation. Because we had an amazing year that is a treasure of experience and memory. For that we’re deeply grateful to Rødøy and everyone there. For the rest of our lives, in good times and bad, this year will be a reference point for what life could be.

Here are the photographic highlights from our year living on Rødøy, and below are some representative blog posts:

Island Scenery



Happiness is People

After a year living on an remote island, I confess to having had no moments of epiphany. I haven’t made big, dramatic new discoveries about myself or the world around me. But if I have to point to one learning, the experience has helped me see more clearly that the most important thing in the world is to surround oneself with good people. Read more

Your Whole Life at a Glance

On the many hikes after I just arrived here on Rødøy, I thought a lot about life. Perhaps it was because I had to walk by the graveyard at least twice a day. The nursing home is right next to the graveyard. I wondered what they were thinking, staring day-in and day-out at a destiny that sucks.

Read more

A Broken iPhone App in the Wild

Around November last year, I embarked on a project that I may someday regret. I started programming, to build an iPhone app. Then, it morphed from dabbling to an obsession. I originally allotted no more than 10 hours a week to the project, then, for two months, I pour nearly every minute of free time into it. Read more

Why Am I So Damned Busy?

A friend of mine wrote me a long email lamenting his lack of time, and he wrote that it’s not just him but it’s a chronic problem of our time:

“..As I drifted in and out of these conversations, I kept noticing how many times people said things like: “Oh yeah, I just wish we weren’t so busy,” or “We’d love to do more of this kind of thing, but there’s just never time, you know?”, or “life just moves to quickly,” “or life just gets in the way and pretty soon five years have gone by.”

Read more

Beta Testers Needed for My iPhone App

In a previous post, I wrote that I had been spending about a third of my free time writing an iPhone app. Actually, I’ve been a little obsessed by it. Most of my evening time after the kids go to sleep has been sunk into the depth of Objective C and iPhone. I’m happy to report that it is now ready for beta testing. Read more

The Life Report

I love David Brooks. For those of you who don’t live in the US, David Brooks is a columnist for the New York Times. (He’s apparently a big fan of Norway, judging by this piece.)

Before I get to why I love this guy, I’ll tell you what I don’t like about him.

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The Lion, the Fish, and Objective C

“What does that guy do?” I know many people on the island wonder about that. Norwegians tend not to be openly nosy. Only a few people directly asked me, and my first answer is, “I’m spending a lot of time with my children.” Well, an obvervant person would see that the children are in school, save for one daddy day — which is really one half-day — for each child. Read more

Reversal of Marital Roles

The biggest change since we came to the island was the reversal of roles between Kristin and I. It is bigger than the isolation, the climate, the scenery, the people. When we lived in Boston, I worked and Kristin for the most part took care of the children. Now, these roles, plus a few more, are flipped. Read more

Time Management for My Time Off

In 2000, my wife and I met and fell in love in Lofoten, a group of islands even further to the north from here. Later that year, I went to Oslo and lived with Kristin for 3 months. Kristin taught school then, just as she does now, so during the week I had the daytime to myself. That was the last time I had such an abundance of free time. Of course I don’t regret those 3 months in Oslo; but I did learn something about myself and free time: without time management, I get nothing done. Read more