The Story of Crazy Woman

Sissel W. Robertson

The first time I crossed the Atlantic Ocean, I was an embryo. I was conceived in Detroit and born in Oslo, Norway on Pentecost Sunday, 1952. My mother hemorrhaged and needed a blood transfusion. I had to keep her company in the hospital for a whole month.

 I was cute, but I had colic, which drove my mother to pass me around to various neighbors who were presumably better equipped to tackle a terrorizing infant. I believe those early years imbued me with security and the notion that the world is good and people are trustworthy. I HAVE had experiences to the contrary, but I still harbor a trusting spirit and an optimistic outlook. I rely on intuition. I look for the good in other people and in myself – and find it.

As previously alluded to, my gentle mother was no match for Martha Stewart! My Mom performed her domestic duties absentmindedly, without a trace of creativity or enthusiasm while she evolved into a passionate feminist. She published articles, co-authored books and was in demand as a public speaker, finally landing a prestigious position with the Norwegian government and traveled as an observer for the UN. Supposedly, her mother, my grandmother, was the first woman in Norway to wear pants while skiing!

But my Mom’s true passion was the arts — poetry, fiction, ballet, opera and theater. I am grateful that she passed this passion on to me. I wish she had passed on a little more feminism, but more on this later.  

My Dad grew up on the rugged shore of the North Sea at a remote oil refinery. He was an avid kayaker from early childhood, building his own boats. He was forever an outdoor enthusiast! As a child, I was never allowed to sit still. In winter, every Sunday we went skiing. Not optional! When the snow melted, there was the garden. He paid us a pittance to haul buckets of rocks and to do other light chores. I learned the pleasures of earning and spending. The dishes belonged to my sister and me as this was a condition of our modest allowance, which was our budget for candy. All good!

On weekends and during summer camping trips, we paddled my Dad’s home-made red canoe on every lake, fjord, beach, river and stream south of Trondheim. We fished with success and fried the catch for breakfast by the campfire.  

We visited quarries and mines, looking for semiprecious stones and any rock that caught our eye. My Dad enjoyed making jewelry. We filled our backpacks with rocks. In Norway, I assure you, most of the hills go up! We drank warm Coca-Cola and ate cold waffles.

In late summer and fall, we foraged the woods for blueberries, cranberries and a great variety of wild mushrooms. When the weather was really bad, we visited museums and old churches. Never a dull moment!

If my mother didn’t enjoy cooking, my father more than made up for it. Cooking and freezing all those mushrooms for some future gravy or evening meal, gave him great pleasure. My mother trained him to wear an apron. It didn’t matter. Whatever he cooked, he wore a portion of it. Norwegian cuisine is on the bland side, but my father traveled to remote lands and brought home novel ideas. My sister and I grew up to be foodies. She runs a popular eatery called Hellviktangen in Oslo. My father required much attention and my sweet, wise mother lavished him with the most sincere praise. They were very much in love.

 My sister receives well-deserved praise for her creative presentations and healthy, delicious food! I created Crazy Woman KAYAKS. It thrived for 12 years!

People said so many nice things to me! I enjoyed the attention to the utmost! Money is necessary, but praise motivates! I continually reminded myself, “Remember this! The time will come when…” I didn’t know what and when – but I knew it couldn’t last except through memorizing the sweetness of success beyond my wildest hope!

Long ago my sister and I would bake. Then we played store and sold cookies to each other and to other kids. We mimicked our mothers. How I loved this game!

At age 8, the purchase of two puppets in a Swedish toy store on a camping trip prompted my first real entrepreneurial activity. The puppet prince and princess were carrying on something fierce in the backseat of the old Volvo Station wagon. However you can’t sustain a royal fight without villains. I created a cast of supporting characters, using of old tennis balls, paper-machee, odd and ends and fabric scraps. My Dad built a stage, a wooden box with removable legs. It even had stage-lights! I made up impromptu skits. Suddenly, I was invited to birthday parties for kids, some I didn’t even know. The puppets and I performed in exchange for cake, cash – and praise.

Many years later, I joined the Puppet Team at New Hope Ministries in Naples, Florida where I spent many happy years pouring my heart into everything at once. They saw my enthusiasm and allowed me to run with it. I wrote skits, made props,  costumes and organized rehearsals. A lot of trust was placed on me. I was not going to fail. I also sang in the choir and I worked in the nursery. I never sat still.

Then I heard that small persistent voice tell me to change path. That path went through the swamp – where the brand new Florida Gulf Coast University had about five buildings at the time I enrolled as a degree seeking student. I worked hard – and I was rewarded! Upon receiving a Liberal Arts Degree with a focus on English and Environmental studies, I threw a Graduation Party for 50 people! It was December, 2004. Oh, Happy Day!

Moderation is unnatural for me. After graduation, I said yes to everything! I showed up for everything and found myself serving on three non-profits boards  at the same time. I am still pondering this experience as a study in human nature.

I worked as a writer and editor on a small women’s magazine. As always, I worked extremely hard. Many nights I wrote until the moon turned pale.

Then came another fork in the road — I discovered Montana! After a four-month solo camping trip in 2007, the idea of a kayak business was taking shape.

And the rest is written elsewhere on my website — or it will be written over time as I turn from personal journaling to Blog-writing where others may access my mind and memories. I want to share my experience, the stories of a female entrepreneur, the perks, perils and lessons of starting and running my small business. I will also share my experiences as an expat in Ecuador.  I don’t know where this path will lead, but it seems every journey begins with a website.

The most recent fork in the road appeared three years ago, when I decided that I was burned out on excessive, tedious accounting and increasingly burdensome government reporting requirements. I am not Walmart! I was fed up with never-ending zoning disputes, harassment and business location issues.

I shipped four Eddyline kayaks, my books, paintings and furniture to Ecuador. I sold my home in Estero after living there and loving it for most of my 30+ years there. It’s not a quiet country road anymore.

I’ve lived in Ecuador for two years now. Unless there’s another fork in the road, I have no intentions of leaving.

If I were looking for a job, this bio would have been brief, boring and professional! I am NOT looking for a job!

I miss Crazy Woman KAYAKS, especially miss my customers! I’ll be forever thankful for the best 12 years of my life!!!

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