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About Me and My Life

My name is Vivi Labo. Born in 1942 in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. That was during World War II - yes, I'm that old.

Grew up with my father who was a lawyer, and my mother, who was stay-at-home mum.

I also had a little sister, who was six years younger than I.  

Despite the war, my childhood was safe and fun.

I didn't hate school, but I didn't like it either.

And because I was not qualified for the higher secondary education, I was quite happy to leave school after 10th grade, when I was 16 years old.

Au-Pair in London

After school, I decided to go to London to work as au-pair.

That was miles away from my comfort zone - but also very exciting and challenging.

Remember, this was in the late fifties. A time when it was not common for most people to travel, let alone work, abroad.

I had only been outside Denmark when my parents and I took the ferry to Malmø in Sweden that had been neutral during the war.

And the only purpose was to buy new clothes and shoes and other stuff - including chewing gum, PINK chewing gum! - that we couldn't get here in Denmark right after the war.

Anyway, I left Denmark on a stormy day, the North Sea was rough, and I became very seasick on the ferry from Esbjerg in Denmark to Harwich in England.

However, the train journey from Harwich to London the next day was very pleasant, also thanks to an elderly and a very friendly couple, who was sitting opposite to me. 

At Liverpool Street Station I was met by my "new family" and from that moment on I enjoyed the most fantastic journey into a whole new world and a whole new way of living, thinking, and doing.

The family - a younger couple and their two-year-old daughter - was really nice. They were Jewish and lived in a Jewish neighbourhood in Highgate, a London suburb.

I loved my new life, and it all made such an incredible and everlasting impact on me.

So, it was very hard indeed to say goodbye after 14 months and return to Denmark. 

Student in Paris

Back home I took a two-year secretary course. That was the shortest education I could think of with good job opportunities afterwards.

Because my dream was to save up enough money that would allow me to study French in Paris for a full year. 

So, some years later and with enough money in the bank, I boarded the train from Copenhagen to Paris, where I arrived at Gare du Nord the next day. That was in April 1964.

Living in Paris was a wonderful experience. 

I shared a room with a French girl in a residence for young female students from all over the world. The residence still exists and is called Union Chrétienne de Jeunes Filles. 

It was, and probably still is, a great place with a lively and inspiring atmosphere, and it wasn't long before I found some really nice and helpful friends there. 

Few days after my arrival I signed up at Alliance Française - an old, famous language school offering many different courses and different levels to students from all over the world.

My French was bad - school French and everyday French are really two different things - that I found out when people did not always understand what I was saying.

So, I started in a beginner class and for the first time in my life, I loved school.

It was all so great - right from the inspiring teachers to the lively atmosphere created by highly motivated students from almost every corner of the world.

But of course - all was not school. There was also plenty of time for sightseeing and exploring wonderful Paris as well as time for outings and cafe life with friends.

It's said that all good comes to an end and for me, it meant going back to Denmark. The year had passed, and my bank account showed zero.

It was hard to say goodbye - really hard. "You will come back", my friends said. Yes, but I knew it would never ever be the same again.

The Prince on the White Horse

On my return to Denmark, I got a secretary job that was OK, but not more than that. So, I was looking for a better job.

At the same time, I was also toying with the idea of living and working in a kibbutz in Israel.

Many young people did that - so the idea was not strange to me.

But then something got in my way... the Prince on the White Horse.

He lifted me up on his horse, and from that moment on we have been riding together through thick and thin for more than 50 years. 

My Prince worked as art director in an advertising agency, and we were married in 1966. That was also the year when he started his own agency. 

He was working really hard.

So was I - as secretary in the most creative and crazy advertising agency at the time.

But then - it was a crazy time due to the counter-cultural movement that swept many countries in the sixties and seventies.

Family Life

As my husband and I were both "Copenhageners with a big C" we had chosen to live in a preserved apartment building in the old part of Copenhagen, close to Kongens Have (the King's Garden). 

We are still in the "happy sixties". People had jobs. People had money. People travelled, bought houses, cars and washing machines.

Everything was up, up, up. And my husband's business flourished. It was all great. It was all fun.

But something was missing. Children. We were longing for children. 

Then one day my after-breakfast cigaret tasted awful. So did my after-lunch cigaret. Thought it was strange until one of my colleagues said that maybe I was pregnant.

And yes, a baby was on its way. Fantastic. Unbelievable. My husband and I were so thrilled. And so were our families.

Our long-awaited son was born in 1970. And two years later we were happy and thrilled to welcome our baby daughter. We were no longer just husband and wife, we were a family - and we loved it.

Because my husband's business was doing so well, we decided that I quit my job to stay home with the children. 

At some point, we found that Copenhagen was not the best place to bring up children. So, we bought a piece of land north of the city and built our dream house.

The place was close to a big forest, where the children could play, climb the trees, build huts and get close to nature. And the nearby lakes were great for fishing and sailing. 

We had a good life. The children were thriving, and we enjoyed living in a small community with nice neighbours and children for our children to play with.

Two Again

At the age of 16, our children went to USA as exchange students. They attended high school and stayed with nice families in Florida - our son in Daytona Beach and our daughter in Miami.

They had a great time there, learned a bunch and returned home one year later with their bags full of skills, knowledge and happy memories.

They resumed their studies here in Denmark, passed their exams, worked hard in jobs, they loved, got married, and had children... our long-awaited grandchildren - three girls and a boy.

Love them, love our outings with them, love to see the world through their eyes.

By the time our children had left the nest my husband and I sold our house and moved back to Copenhagen, where we rented a smaller apartment.

We were now two again, and not having a big house and garden to tend to was actually a relief and freed up time to do more of what we enjoyed and felt for.

Raising Funds

During my years as stay-at-home mum, I had time to do other things apart from looking after my family. 

The war in Vietnam had made me join a voluntary, humanitarian organisation, that was raising funds for relief and school projects in third world countries. 

I worked from home as fundraiser and later on also as editor for their quarterly magazine. I was part of a great team of really dedicated people both here in Denmark and in the local NGOs abroad. 

And because projects in India became my area of work I visited this enormous and fantastic country a couple of times to meet our local partners and see and follow the projects we were raising funds for.

Because we all worked on a voluntary basis and travels were paid for by sponsors we could keep the administration cost down to 2%.

Needless to say that it all made a huge impact on me and gave me an insight that I can't describe in words. 

I stopped working as fundraiser and editor a few years ago because of health issues in my family, but I do still contribute however and whenever I can. 

My Website

In the late 1990s, I got so excited about this new thing - the Internet - that I wanted to use it for something and be part of what I imagined would be a fantastic journey into a whole new world.

I searched and searched, jumped from link to link, and looked at how others were using the Internet.

Having spent many, many hours on reading and much money on dial-up I was finally recommended a book called "Make Your Site Sell" by Ken Evoy.

This book is one of the most inspiring books I have ever read.

I read it over and over again and every time I got more and more excited. And I knew deep down that I had finally found the path, I wanted to follow. 

But I needed to build a website. And I knew I couldn't do it alone.

But I knew that Ken Evoy at some point was going to introduce "Site Build It" with templates and step-by-step guidance.

So, I waited patiently to sign up until it happened in year 2000.

My first website was nothing to write home about. Because I was so eager to put up something fast, I did not prepare properly. I also overlooked some important info and advice in SBI's Action Guide.

So, two years later I deleted the site and started on a fresh - Danish Schnapps Recipes was born.

It's 17 years now since I joined "Site Build It", later renamed "Solo Build It". And I haven't for one second regretted the decision I made back in 2000. It's been a joy. It still is.

If you want to know more, please read my review of Solo Build It.

The Tragedy

One early morning in 2010 while my husband and I were still sleeping, the phone rang. Our son was dead. His heart had stopped while he was asleep.

Rescuers had done all they could to bring him back to life. But it was too late. 

There had been no warning signs up to his death. No signs at all.

He was 39 years old, an enthusiastic sportsman, mountain climber, marathon runner and adventure racer since his early twenties.

He had a good life, a good job, a good family plus an enormous appetite for life. A young man who really lived his dreams to the fullest.

Doctors said that the cause of his sudden death was a congenital heart defect. 

They were probably right but is was difficult to understand how our son could have been so active if his heart was defect. 

Seven years have gone by now, but it's a pain that will never go away. 

The Future

Some time after our son had died, my husband and I moved from Copenhagen to a small village in the countryside, where we now live in a thatched farmhouse from 1856 at the edge of a big forest.

My husband is 80 years old now, but although he retired some years ago, he still works as graphic designer for a few clients.

I'm 74 years old and my hobby is still making flavoured schnapps and working on my website. Another dear hobby is photography.

We live a more silent life now, enjoy the beautiful nature around us, grow our own vegetables and get eggs from our own chickens. 

In the future, I may write and sell e-books to supplement the passive income from the ads on my website. And thanks to SBI and their guidance I know how to put them together and where to sell them.

I have lived a long life and have really so many stories to tell. And even if not many want to buy or read them, I would have had the pleasure of writing down my memories.

Thank you for reading,
Vivi Labo