Some people defy definition. It’s not something they do willingly; not something they hold over their head over a point of pride, no, it’s a matter of complexity.
When you’ve spent your life growing up in a place like Norway, followed by Hawaii, only to land in Portland, no doubt there’s quite a level of complexity lying beneath the surface.
This is who Bettina Elisabeth Filius is. And her story isn’t a story filled with nothing but fun times frolicking through Norwegian meadows, sitting on Hawaiian beaches or gazing upon Multnomah falls. There’s hardship there. Yet, like every person, hardship helps make up who we are.
“I have seen some of the worst humanity has to offer,” she begins, after explaining several extremely traumatic incidents that happened to her both in childhood and during her time in college, “yet I have also had the fortune to experience some of the greatest wonders of the world.”
It takes a lot of mettle to recover from some of the things Bettina described to me, and yet, like so many others, she has come through it with a view on life that people who have been through less would be envious of.
Her worldview even comes through when asked what she does for a living. She literally answers in nine words, then continues with, “My position allows me to interact with people from all levels of our organization, from our guys in the field to our top-level executives, and build and manage relationships with suppliers across the country. I live for the days where I feel like I’ve helped someone out or brought a smile to someone’s face. My role is constantly evolving and I am always learning new things, which I love. As long as there is room for me to continue growing and learning I am happy.”
Bettina doesn’t define herself through the same lens you or I might. As a matter of fact, she says exactly that when she flatly states that she doesn’t define herself by her job.
“I am a feminist, a gamer, an immigrant, a sexual assault survivor, a world traveler, an activist, a movie geek, a microbrew connoisseur, a witch, a mother, a lover, a friend,” she says.
Yet through it all, through the trauma, through the depth of character, the wealth of life experience, she makes time for humor, coming out of nowhere as she says that she as has a soft cartridge in her nose, so it is completely “squishy.”
“Very useful if I should ever decide to take up boxing,” she says.
Still, I doubt boxing is in her future, especially considering she finds little to stir up her anger about life in Portland.
“After moving to Portland, I found myself surrounded by a circle of open-minded, politically engaged people who are just as eager to get together for a round of games at Guardian Games as they are to go berry picking on Sauvie Island or check out a band playing at a dive bar that happens to also serve the most amazing pizza,” she says.
Does this mean – after all the grand adventure – that Portland is home?
“Portland is where I found my tribe,” she says with finality.
Surely, the diverse tribe that makes up the shining City of Roses is proud to have adopted such a complex, thoughtful PDX Person like Bettina; a Scandinavian rose, if you will. Welcome home to your new tribe, Bettina.
William Bessette – PDX People Contributor
William Bessette is a journalist and freelance writer who has been covering politics, entertainment, culture and travel for over thirteen years. When he’s not profiling Portland-area restaurants and residents, you can find him reporting on national and international travel and eco-tourism through his travel brand, Floppy Hat Adventures.