There is so much wisdom we can gain by taking in the lessons passed down through the generations. Generations of public figures, leaders, and community members, but probably most importantly from our own family members. My Great Grandfather was a wonderful man living in Norway – he wasn’t a celebrity or even all that well-known. But to me and every other person he opened himself up to, he lived a remarkable life sharing resources, knowledge, and power with anyone in need. 

As an albino living in Norway at a time when Hitler was threatening to invade, my Great Grandfather had to rely on his gut and utilize his ability to strategize for the worst. He was a planner, a prepper, a survivor, and a thriver. He had compassion for those at risk and also realized with his skin condition handicapping certain abilities, he might be considered a target for the Nazis too. Through his thoughtful scramble and passion to live, I learned three life-altering lessons that have shaped my own personal fight to not just survive but to live a life fulfilled.

Lesson 1: Plan Ahead and Prepare for Change

Something that not a lot of people realize about albinos is that their eyesight is usually affected by the condition, my great grandfather was no exception. But not being able to see well enough to read or drive a car didn’t hold him back. Nope, instead in a time when having a driver was unheard of, great grandad planned his trips to town ahead of time and would schedule and pay someone to take him on his errands. He was resourceful, finding others to read to him or help in any way he needed when he needed it. Why did people help him? Well, we’ll get more into this later but to quickly summarize, he helped them back in return. 

For a man with limited senses, he was always staying on top of the news and lived life aware of the changing circumstances around him. For instance, he paid attention to not only whisperings but subtle clues to forecast the financial downturn we all know as The Great Depression. And what did this man do in response? He prepared. He stocked up. And served as a provider of odds and ends for not only his family but his friends. He went to town and purchased bolts of fabric, thread, and buttons to make clothes, various sizes of shoes to have on hand for his children, all 12 of them, to wear and grow into, and non-perishable food. 

My Great Grandfather’s forethought saved his loved ones from going without through the entire Depression. No one went hungry, naked, or wanting for more than they had. It’s this forethought that taught me to plan for the journey ahead, no matter what that is, and to be grateful for everything I have even through hardship.

Lesson 2: Serve and Support Others

Earlier on, I told you that people would drive and read to my old great grandad and now to further explain why. My old pops was a man for and of the people; he valued education and staying in-the-know about not only the horrific world events that were threatening his home but what else was happening around them. What new things were being made or discovered? Who was leading what country and how well?

To help keep himself and his neighbors (more like the entire community) aware of current events to protect themselves as well as, to educate and entertain a sheltered city during a time of ultimate chaos, he, his children, my grandmother one of them, smuggled radios. Under their dresses on their bikes, they snuck radios for the people in town. They were courageous, and he, specifically, always put his family and loved ones in front of everything else. Nothing could stop him from supporting and providing for others; when new laws and regulations went into place, he adapted. A skill I seem to have keenly picked up from him

I think of the many times, I too have innately adapted and planned for transition and even downright unwanted changes that I couldn’t control. Having the ability to operate on the fly can save you a lot of heartache, blood, sweat, and tears; and in my Great Grandfather’s case, lives.

Lesson 3: Create Your Own Community

In return for the protection he offered, his community answered back by shielding him as an obvious target for a now Nazi-occupied Norway. Everyone knew if he was taken away by the Germans he would never be seen again. This, the man that thought of others before himself; they couldn’t and wouldn’t let this happen. 

One night, he did get arrested. His neighbors and friends alerted the local sheriff who was somehow able to convince the police to release him.  Of course, my great-grandmother was afraid but she too had faith in the extension of family they had built. It has always been articulated to me that family can be people of choice just as equally as blood relation. 

Creating a community of my own to spend time, celebrate, and grow with has been something I have been crafting the majority of my adult life. And as a nomadic entrepreneur, I have the unique opportunity to build that community with folks around the world. Avery and I have relied on our families both biological and relational throughout the years to transition and adapt in life changes we definitely weren’t expecting and we couldn’t bre more grateful for the support and love we both have received. 

All in all, I wanted to share with you the power that stories have on us. How much they shape our mindsets, what we believe about ourselves and our capabilities. Even when the stories didn’t start with you, they make a home in you and weave themselves into the story you are writing about yourself right now. 


Article By: Amy Nubson

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Finding my voice made me feel at home… made me feel calm.

– Amy Nubson