Summing up

With the year coming to an end I wonder what all happened. I am a bit wary of odd numbers for no reason at all, so years with odd numbers have always made me wonder if they are going to turn out all right. I have to say that 2013 has definitely turned out to be a good one – so far, there are a couple of hours to go.

For one thing, my grandmother turned 100 the year 2013. She is smart, wise, and still independent. It is stunning that the First World War did not seem to mess up her epigenetic coding although she experienced it when she was only one. Neither did WWII or the holocaust, where she lost friends and colleagues. The revolution in 1956 found her working hard at the hospital as a radiologist, as did the following communist regimes. Now, 24 years after the Wall has fallen, she still discusses politics, takes an interest in her great grandchildren, and delivers spot-on advice on work, family, and love.

We have had our share of births and deaths in my research group as well. Lilly is our second PhD baby and I think there are several more to come. Although sometimes I wonder whether working with children and families actually is conducive to wanting to have children of your own. In research we too often focus on the problems that need solving, such as preventing child behaviour problems as we aim to do in our new trial. Or how problems in the couple relationship in the transition to parenting can be alleviated.

We have also published work about the guilt and shame associated with having a child with bedwetting, which makes me think of the death we have had this year: Eva Österlund Efraimsson, a co-tutor colleague. She fell off the brim of a mountain, on a tour with her husband and one of her sons. All four of her children sang at the funeral that took place on the family grounds in beautiful weather. She was insightful, supportive, and funny, and we miss her.

The sabbatical in Melbourne was the major event of this year. Our children have adopted remarkably well, although they all managed to get into trouble on account of their talking back to teachers or disrespecting rules. They were very surprised when their actions warranted consequences, such as detention during lunch brake, because their perception was that they were only explaining themselves. Well, I think it’s useful to see that the Swedish way is definitely not the global way of treating children. I also think it’s a good skill to know when to keep quiet or at least know that choosing not to will have consequences.

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Photo: Fanni Sarkadi, Sydney 2013

It is not very often in a researcher’s life that a truly original or good idea surfaces. I did have one such idea this year, the one about shifting the curve that I discussed during a coffee with a professor. The article is now accepted for publication in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, coming soon, and I hope it will receive interest and will be discussed and used in the field of public health. I still have this shivering feeling that it may all prove to be wrong, but that’s how science advances.

I am lucky to have mentors whom I trust and who really wish the best for me. One piece of advice I have received this year is that the only thing determining if I achieve what I want from now on is courage. I have always thought of myself as a courageous person, speaking my mind, making my decisions, taking the consequences. But I think my mentor meant a different type of courage:

“…Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. 

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.


It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”

Although I also thought this was a quote by Nelson Mandela from 1994, it is actually from ‘A Return To Love’ (1992) by Marianne Williamson.

One thing I have learned this year is to give myself time and space to step back and consider things just a little before jumping to a conclusion or starting to solve the problem. I will now take a walk and have a think about this one.

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