October 26 2020.
Following the Government’s tightening of Covid-19 restrictions, the Board has unanimously decided to cancel all activities, including Monthly Meeting on November 2 and the December 7 Christmas Meeting.
The decision was taken at the Board Meeting on Monday, October 26. It was supported unanimously by the Executive Committee leaders at the meeting that followed the Board Meeting.
The Board will monitor the situation and resume activities in the New Year if the pandemic situation permits. We will keep you informed.
We regret having to cancel these events, especially the Christmas Meeting as many members were looking forward to it. But the covid-19 situation is challenging.
Your safety is our main concern. Stay safe, stay healthy.
Autumn is the season of the soul. If spring is about rebirth and new beginnings, autumn is about reflection and preparation. This year, we leave behind a spring and summer when the pandemic dominated our lives. Now we transit into a new season where we do not know if things will get worse or better. Autumn’s message? Reflect and prepare.
The word autumn comes from the Latin ‘autumnus’ meaning ‘the passing of the year’. It also represents the passage of life, as poet Rita Dove wrote: ‘In autumn we watch the past leave us, leaf by leaf.’ Centuries ago, the third season of the year was referred to simply as ‘harvest’ or haust, a word that comes from the old Norse word ‘høst’ – ‘to pluck and prepare’, implying farm work. In the 17thcentury, as more and more people migrated to the towns, less people were involved in harvesting. So the terms ‘autumn’ and ‘fall’ – signifying falling leaves – came into usage.
Whether it is coping with harsh winter or hard times, autumn teaches us that preparedness cushions adversity. But autumn is also about stunning beauty. ‘Every leaf is a flower.’ wrote author Albert Camus. Marilyn Monroe famously said ‘Designers want me to dress like spring, in billowing things. I don’t feel like spring. I feel like a warm red autumn.’
Jotunheimen’s gorgeous red autumn is captured by Ambassador of Ireland, H.E. Keith McBean, as you can see in his pictures in a new section of the Newsletter. Heartbreakingly beautiful, autumn is nature’s final burst of joy, her grand finale as leaves turn colourful, fruits ripen, apples turn to cider and pumpkins plump up in good cheer. There is much to reflect, prepare … and enjoy!
Stay warm and cosy, safe and healthy
September 10 th 2020
Touch is the oldest of our senses: the first to develop in an eight-week foetus. Is it any wonder then that during these touch-taboo times, we miss cuddling babies, hugging children and embracing our family and friends? Physical contact is key to feeling human. Touch goes deeper than skin, which is why we say a particular speech or gesture, music or art touches our heart, our soul.
Why is touch so important? Neuroscientists say that when we are touched, our brain release molecules (dopamine, serotonin, endorphins and oxytocin), popularly called the “happy chemicals”. These give us feelings of joy, motivation, well-being, trust and bonding. Social deprivation inhibits these chemicals, contributing to depression, anxiety, stress, lethargy and loneliness. Absence of touch worsens the sense of disconnection – a side-effect of this pandemic.
Researchers recommend eight hugs a day. Of course, some cultures and personalities prefer less contact. When the one-meter social distancing rule was introduced, the joke was that some found it too close. Will touch become socially extinct? Most people are caught between two strong evolutionary impulses: caution and yearning. The instinct for self-preservation tugs against the longing for the magic of touch to sparkle our lives again. After all, touch is a sensation that lingers long after the contact.
Touch is the oldest, but scientists rank sight as the foremost of our senses. So, I look forward to seeing you at the extremely interesting events for the autumn season organized by our creative committees. Thanks to your enthusiasm, Special Events Committee’s tour of Deichman Library was overbooked in four days. What a happy problem to solve.
Stay healthy, stay safe!
August 17th 2020
We leave behind a disturbing spring and an undisturbed summer. We know not what autumn and winter will bring. For six months, the pandemic has dominated our minds, our activities and our movements. It continues to do so.
But life continues … as it must, and as it will. Babies are born, work life adapts, and Zoom weddings take place. Adversity does not end activity. Human beings are inventive and resilient, like dandelions squeezing through the cracks of pavements to soak up the energy of life.
Perhaps more than ever, this summer made us realise the gap between the natural rhythms of life and the relentless pace of the digitized, globalised world we live in. The sound of lapping waves, chirping birds, rustling leaves and falling rain, in contrast to clacking keypads and the ceaseless pings of emails and text messages.
Six months into the pandemic, we still wonder when and how it will end. The normal that we once knew may be the ‘World of Yesterday’ to quote Austrian author Stefan Zweig’s powerfully moving 1942 memoir. Perhaps there is no going back. There is only going forward to an evolving new normal. The English stage actor Simon McBurney said recently, ‘We need perhaps to think about the world differently, think about a new beginning.’
As the Forum’s new season begins, our activities resume thanks to the joie de vivre of our group leaders and members. The advice given by the health authorities about hygiene and social distancing must be followed. As for events, please read on. We will also inform you by email about dates and venues.
I look forward to seeing you in person.
Take care and stay safe!
On June 19th 2020,
We emerge from our cocoons in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime experience. There are difficulties to overcome. It has made us sad and anxious, given us new impressions and insights. We feel a renewed appreciation of many good things that we tend to take for granted. Yet, it is too early to absorb and analyse the full impact of this pandemic. Going forward, there will be changes, big and small, temporary and permanent. The big question is Will global society undergo a much-needed transformation on issues like inequality and climate change, or will we revert to business-as-usual the minute things return to normal?
Like everybody else, we in the Forum long for the return of normality, long for our meetings, events and activities, long to be together again, to listen to each other’s stories, to sympathise, laugh and learn from one another. Ours is a network of friendship, of companions who read, chat, cook, walk, learn skills and spend time together, listen to speakers who broaden our minds, reflect on art and culture, visit unique places, experience traditional culture and modern architecture. Not doing all this together leaves a big vacuum. So, we look forward to autumn with hope.
Now summer is upon us. The seaside and mountains call. Nature is healing; nature encourages introspection. Albert Einstein said, “Look deep into nature and you will understand everything.” He spoke from a philosophical and intellectual, spiritual and scientific standpoint. At the poetic level, author Ben Okri captures it beautifully: “When society pauses, nature sings.”
I wish you good health and cheer, peace and harmony as you enjoy the sights and sounds of nature.
Have a wonderful summer! You deserve it.
Notice in May 2020:
Who could have imagined the world being stopped by a tiny virus, two thousand times smaller than a grain of salt? We don’t know yet the legacy of Covid-19, neither the scale of suffering nor the long-term consequences. But, this too shall pass. Humankind has always shown ingenuity and solidarity to overcome adversity. A Covid-19 vaccine will be found. This virus is highly contagious, and so is fear. We must remain optimistic, however hard it is. Optimism is key to raising community spirit, as well as boosting our immune system.
Keeping daily routines also helps. Studies show that queens and nuns live long because they follow routines strictly. Routines reduce anxiety. Stress intensifies in situations we cannot control. Like now. But then again, we can control how we choose to respond to the situation. Creativity is a superb stress buster. Any form of art, writing, baking, needlework, or gardening stimulates the brain in a different way – and distracts it from worries. Instead of harbouring anger, fear and frustration, we stay healthier by channelling emotions into days filled with routines: exercising, reading, listening to music, learning and creating.
Gunnel Anita sets a great example. She spent this difficult time diligently learning new skills to revamp our website. It’s ready now. Please take a look at www.iforum.no
Another piece of good news in this time of social distancing: for the first time, we have conducted a Board Meeting in cyberspace with a Silicon Valley video conferencing app. It worked well. We were so happy to be together, doing something new, discussing and seeing each other.
I long to see you all. Until we meet, be safe, stay fit and take good care of yourselves!
President Notice on March 29th, 2020.
Daylight savings started today so we are one hour ahead. I am sure you know it, but this is an opportunity for me to be in touch with you, to say my thoughts are with you and hope that you and your loved ones are OK.
This is a good time to do what we once did so often – pick up the phone and chat with friends in the International Forum. We are all in this together. We can learn from each other, get tips and ideas on how to spend time well, what creative endeavors to undertake, what to read online, what radio programs or podcasts to listen to or what to see on Netflix.
There are so many creative ladies in the IF, I am thinking we could have an exhibition of IF “lockdown” works. Nothing is impossible. As they say, the impossible takes a little more time. And right now, we are blessed with time.
Keep well and Take care,
Notice after March 12th 2020.
Heeding government advice regarding the Corona virus situation, all International Forum events are cancelled until further notice.
There is no need for us to panic or stress, but every need to take basic precautions such as washing hands, social distancing, proper nutrition and adequate sleep.
Our daily schedules are disrupted, our lives literally on hold, and yet, looking at what is happening elsewhere in the world, we are privileged.
Hope you and your loved ones are safe and well.