I am obsessed with a photo of Lucy Knisley. So I had to sketch it.

I am obsessed with a photo of artist Lucy Knisley.

So I had to sketch it in my journal.

Those eyes. That spirit. That talent.

I am, by my superficial definition, an ugly person.

“I often stood in front of the mirror alone, wondering how ugly a person could get.”
Charles Bukowski, Ham on Rye 

I embrace my aging and postmenopausal expansion of body.

More accurately- I am trying to embrace my aging, ugliness, and expanding irrelevant body but…

INSIDE I feel like Lucy in that photo.

OUTSIDE- old, grateful, done. An old comfortable, crumpled, filled with aches and pains, flesh envelope.

INSIDE- I am young. And beautiful. Like Lucy.

And free.

My mind dances. A happy sponge.

I’ll take it.

The body.

My body.

It ages.

And I thank it.

One day it will be done.

Until then, I am grateful for it carrying me through this strange and exquisite life.

Dear Richard: corresponding with Richard Selzer, M.D.

I was going through some old journals two days ago and in the one dated June 2, 2002, I came across printouts of a very special email correspondence.

Background:

In the mid 90’s, I was told about a bookstore in Seattle by my dear friend, Patti.

My (then)partner and I went down to Seattle a while later and when visiting the shop, my partner found a lovely little book:

Mortal Lessons by Richard Selzer, MD:

In this collection of nineteen unforgettable essays, Dr. Selzer describes unsparingly the surgeon’s art. Both moving and perversely funny, Mortal Lessons is an established classic that considers not only the workings and misworkings of the human body but also the meaning of life and death. [source]

 

I loved this book. Read it many times.

One particular passage made me weep:

I stand by the bed where a young woman lies, her face postoperative, her mouth twisted in palsy, clownish. A tiny twig of the facial nerve, the one to the muscles of her mouth has been severed. She will be thus from now on. The surgeon had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh; I promise you that. Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had to cut the little nerve. Her young husband is in the room. He stands on the opposite side of the bed and together they seem to dwell in the evening lamplight, isolated from me, private. Who are they, I ask myself, he and this wry mouth I have made, who gaze at and touch each other so generously, greedily? The young woman speaks, “Will my mouth always be like this?” she asks. “Yes,” I say, “it will. It is because the nerve was cut.” She nods and is silent. But the young man smiles. “I like it,” he says, “It is kind of cute.” All at once I know who he is. I understand and I lower my gaze. One is not bold in an encounter with a god. Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth and I am so close I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate to hers, to show her that their kiss still works. Richard Selzer, Mortal Lessons: Notes on the Art of Surgery

Why did this passage move me so deeply? In the late 70s and early 80s I had several surgeries (and radiation treatments) for a parotid gland tumor that wrapped around my left side facial nerve and the threat of facial nerve damage looms. Always looms.

Eventually my younger brother and Patti read the book as well and folded it in to their creative work. And we began collecting Selzer’s work.

 

Patti, ever the diligent sleuth/creative, found Dr. Selzer’s email address. In 2002, my brother visited Dr. Selzer in Connecticut to explore the potential of a collaboration. He had a glorious visit and had Dr. Selzer sign the inside of the Mortal Lessons book.

I then connected with Dr. Selzer through email and what followed was a short-lived exchange of letters. My marriage was in the midst of unraveling and this correspondence was a sweet interlude during a very painful and transformative time.

Excerpts from some of the letters in the June 2, 2002 journal:

June 7, 2002

Dear Richard,

At my brother’s encouragement, I am writing your directly. I do hope that you don’t mind. As I write this, I am sitting on the ferry heading home to Roberts Creek… I have put aside my psychology studies and read your manuscript. I know that Nabokov detested readers who see themselves in the words they read, whose hearts bleed in recognition. I admit I have felt embarrassment at being that kind of reader. But why? As Anthony Burgess writes about Shakespeare- to see his face, we need only to look in the mirror.

I read your words in “The Atrium” and they are the exact ones I needed at that moment. In this moment…

… Working with the families of the missing and murdered women this Spring, my thoughts have been centred on death…

Death has always been strangely reassuring to me (personally). I can write with sincerity that I am not frightened of my death – BUT what scares me is leaving my kids…

I read your words and cried. Could one become blind by seeing too much? I have experienced intense sadness in the past year, and during that year I often walked alone in the woods to lay down in the moss – being one in the forest – rehearsing your dream.

… I am blessed to love reading. For it takes me to places far beyond what is possible in “reality.” And today I spent time in the atrium, observing you, through your words. Thank you.

The ferry is docking.

Love Katarina

June 8, 2002

Very dear Katarina,

You cannot imagine how touched I was to read your letter to me. I can see precisely why your brother loves you so much. You have a great heart that is both open and vulnerable.

I had not heard about the disappearance of the women of Vancouver, but now I know. It is a chilling tale. To take part in the healing is your destiny; I believe it will guide you for the rest of your life.

Your words about my “Atrium” serve as reassurance that I have not miscalculated in writing that piece. Just to think that I have you for a reader is thrilling. 

Love Richard

June 8, 2002

Dear Richard,

Thank you for your kind and inspirational words. I do feel like I’m riding a thrilling wave of learning. To connect with humans hungry to explore circumstance is wonderful. That is what I admire so much in your spirit! It is truly exciting to witness some of your creative process. The manuscript, the photo of you on the park bench…

Time for coffee on this early Saturday morning. I like this time of the year, day and week. The kids sleep in, the sun shining through the greenery, the birds singing and I have my coffee and mountain of books strewn on my bed. 

Love Katarina

June 9, 2002

Dear Katarina,

It is so good to imagine you lying on a bed bestrewn with books, one of which is “Down From Troy,” a variety of intimacy I don’t often enjoy.

Warmly, Richard

June 11, 2002

Dear Richard,

My brother and I wrote our Canadian Citizenship exam yesterday. We knew we arrived at the right place when we saw a line up of dozens and dozens of people from different nationalities lining up clutching their papers. It was surreal and wonderful.

The process took quite a while and as I was waiting in my seat, I pulled out my copy of “Down From Troy”… the page opened to:

For the more than sixty years that he lived on the continent of North America, Grandpa remained blissfuly stateless. The idea of citizenship never occurred to him, neither in Canada, which he had entered illegally, nor in the United States.

Miraculous coincidence. My copy is beginning to bulge with post-its… Many things I want to ask you, discuss, share! You’ll have to excuse my obvious enthusiasm. 

All the best to you,

Katarina

June 11, 2002

Dear Katarina,

In you I have found my ideal reader. It is infinitely touching to me, the way in which my words echo in your heart. Fate was looking over my shoulder when she decreed we should come together. You are one of those things for which I am grateful to your brother. Please don’t hesitate to write to me as often as you wish. 

In warmest friendship, Richard

June 12, 2002

Dear Richard,

I woke with a start this morning… my dreams were heavy with images of people I love, morphing into ones I didn’t know, words swimming around me: subatomic physics, Feyman’s Sum Over Histories, ethical issues in psychology… all the while I was spitting out little white pills that formed on my tongue – some the size of a tic tac, others the size of a pinhead.

I had fallen asleep with your book beside me. I recall the heaviness of p. 51: Whatever their true domestic drama, it was not naked but clothed in civility. Whatever their secret disappointments or resentments, each of their mouths was closed upon a pill of silence. 

It is precisely this civility I have fought against, played into, cursed, embraced, uncovered, shied away from, discovered, torn apart, understood…

It’s a beautiful day. I picture you in the library… I can smell the books.

Cheers, Katarina

June 12, 2002

Dear Katarina,

Yes, I am in the library, daydreaming away the afternoon. My mind is not mine to control; it wanderers whithersoever it listeth. It was always thus. It’s because I was a changeling. It was your lovely message that brought me back from… where was it? Scotland! I’ve never been there except in the novels of Sir Walter Scott, but I’m sure that the Scotland of my imagination is more “Scottish” than the real one. This wool-gathering can turn one topsy-turvy. I sometimes wonder if something really did happen or whether I dreamt it. One’s grip on reality loosens after a while. But then, what IS reality? Certainly it is not the truth.

You are lucky for all sorts of reasons, but the two I’m thinking of are that you are engaged in study of a new discipline; nothing is more satisfying to the spirit than mastering a new art or craft or field of endeavour. The other is that you have passed through the flames and come out whole with new understanding of yourself, having shed the falseness of a former life.

I have to tell you two things, One is that our correspondence will end up in the Archive of my papers at the University of Texas in Galveston. One day, it will be read by others. I can say that I’ll see that doesn’t happen, but whenever I’ve tried, I find I can’t sort. I just thought I’d better tell you that I’m no longer Richard Selzer but “Richard Selzer.” There is a woman in Finland who was quite horrified to think that her letters to me weren’t going to be private.

The other confession is that there is a woman, also in Texas, who is engaged in writing my biography! I have tried mightily to dissuade her, but she persists… if you prefer, I shan’t give give her your address. 

Please write to me again soon.

Affectionately, Richard

June 12, 2002

Taking a break from studying… both kids made it to school today – my son’s weekly migraine is looming, but he wants to make it today as it is his last chance to talk to a girl in his science class who he has had a crush on since September… in his pocket is a beeswax candle and a cinnamon stick – and ancient love booster recipe that I gave him before he left.

What is reality? “Not the truth…” concepts I have been struggling with and fighting against. And finally I accept! How often I have cried, “is this not real? and this? and this?!” There was much camaraderie when I read your words: “Things do matter, I am not opposed to owning property…”

Re: emails not being private – I have no qualms about that. Myself, I am an avid journal/image-idea-file keeper and ALL gets inserted, much to my mother’s concern. I am in full support of correspondence being kept for future eyes… I love books of letters, private diaries.

Given the choice between two discoveries – that of an unknown play by Shakespeare and that of one of Will’s laundry list – we would all plump for the dirty washing every time.  (Anthony Burgess)

How exciting and bizarre it must be to have a biography written about oneself! Where does truth fit in there? If you would like her to have my email address, please feel free.

I am in awe of the “writer.” My art is the 2-D visual. Do you process your thoughts, then write? Does it flow through you? Are you a careful writer, going back, correcting, changing? Or is the final product simply a dictation of what you have already worked out? And the “surgeon” in you. Does your writing parallel your art as a surgeon? Oh, for a simple few seconds, to see the human body as you have seen.

Love, Katarina

June 13, 2002

Dear Richard,

Having spent hours in the garden, I took a break on the porch and started rereading your book, “Raising the Dead.” Your command of the English language astounds, for it is not only storytelling, but word-plays. When I teach drawing, I tell my students – you must be able to extract a small segment of your drawing, any segment, and have the composition work within those limits.  I feel that technique of analysis works with your sentences.

I love when I read and have to put the book down and pace the room in excitement before getting back to it. I am completely humbled and gratified that I get to be the reader and not the creator. Creation can be exhausting.

Is that the torment of the artist? To always have to be the creator and not the observer of one’s own work? I struggle with the need to create that which I already know, see, feel INSIDE. To interpret and regurgitate in order to see it, see it, see it. But as creator, I am always a step behind. The process of creation includes a time delay between the internal conversation and the actual act of creating the work. The real vision spills out ahead of me into the dark abyss of eternity and I am left behind scampering and clawing, desperately trying to capture the minutest glimpse of what I have already experienced just a spit second before.

I love to fantasize about the writer’s palette of words. It is often theorized that “Lolita” in the guise of a prepubescent was actually the English language. Nabokov, being Russian was new to the language and he adored it, coveted it, explored it dangerously. 

Here comes my cat with a garter snake in his mouth. Must be a signal to get back to work!

Love, Katarina

June 14, 2002

How to speak about the creative act? It deliquesces while you are still applying pen to paper, or, I imagine, brush to canvas. It is, in that respect, most like a moment of ecstasy, physical or spiritual. Nor can it be recalled with any exactitude. The bright colours of retrospect cannot be precisely applied, only approximated, as you so powerfully expressed it. 

What moves me most is the human body. Last evening on the shuttle bus, I sat next to man whose cheek was gray, pocked and fitted as though a Satyr with sharp hooves had danced across it. Had such a cheek ever been kissed? I wondered. And thought Apollo chasing the nymph Daphne who, just as he caught her, metamorphosed into a laurel tree, thought of the lustful god pressing his ramous mouth not to wet warm flesh but to the ridged bark of the tree. What’s more, at that moment, I wanted to lean toward the man and kiss his cheek — just to see. It is the unspeakable length to which the true artist will go in search of the truth. 

Whatever else can be said of my work, it cannot be said that I have shirked the body to dwell upon the soul. I’ve never been able to distinguish between the two. And it is particularly the malformed, afflicted and even repulsive body that is the most revealing of what is called the soul. Precisely through the declaration of its vulnerability. Through the flaws and fissures and festering of the flesh, the soul swims closer to the surface where it can be glimpsed. The soul is only visible as it wears the flesh. Otherwise it is a pallid wasp.

I was wondering if I should erase all of the above. No, I’ll let it stand, and count on Katarina to forgive any unintended offense.

Love, Richard

 

The New York Times June 15, 2016:


Unnecessary Violence and Ramblings- archiving of my Shadow Work Journals 1986 to present. Sample 47 and 48

This daily archiving series is about organizing and dating my journal collection, as well as acknowledging the self-directed violence as important therapeutic shadow work.

During these journals, I am 32-33 years old.

See previous samples:

Unnecessary Violence Project Explanation and Sample 1 Oct 21, 1992

Sample 2 Date Dec 15 1994

Sample 3 May 16, 2000

Sample 4 August 14, 2002

Sample 5 June 13, 1990

Sample 6 August 23, 2019

Sample 7 December 17, 1995

Sample 8 October 23, 1995

Sample 9 September 1, 2004

Sample 10 September 6, 1999

Sample 11 November 6, 1989

Sample 12 October 23, 2001

Sample 13 October 22, 1993

Sample 14 April 20, 2013

Sample 15 January 31, 1997

Sample 16 January 5, 2012

Sample 17 January 1, 1992

Sample 18 June 14, 2000

Sample 19 November 29,2000

Sample 20 October 22, 1994

Sample 21 February 15, 2002

Samples 22-37

Sample 38 February 21, 1999

Sample 39 July 15, 1997

Sample 40 August 26, 1997

Sample 41 April 21, 2014

Sample 42 January 2, 2002

Sample 43 January 13, 2007

Sample 44 June 22, 2012

Sample 45 December 16, 2004

Sample 46 June 11, 1988

IMG_2552

Today: Journal start dates November 25, 1993 and April 3, 1994

Covers

IMG_3796

Sample Pages

IMG_3799

IMG_3800

IMG_3801

Sample Writing

November 25, 1993

Panic! The panic of seeing all too clearly the magic of life, of Universe and realizing I’m taking all of this magic for granted. My children are creatures of God and I was the blessed vehicle that allowed their passage into this world.  I yearn to relive the intensity, the reality, of their births over and over again – yet I know that I must let them grow, to let them move somewhat farther away from me – who after all is just a vehicle, a provider, a counsellor, to let them move into themselves– and not burden them with my mourning. The memories of their past, their present, their future rages inside me – I try to piece the confused bits into something tangible, cohesive…

Desperation at letting the miracle of our lives go unrecorded, unacknowledged.

And through all this viewing – through all this providing and participation in parenting – I am slowly discovering the true me – the me that can and will be – the potential me who has discarded the sore, festering scab of an exterior and let’s that glowing white inner core be free to live and shine.

My art is my life, my life is my art and what comes out on canvas, what manages to come out, despite (or rather because of) housework, the wifedom, the motherhood, sometimes captures a minute glimpse into the bacon sizzling, crackling whirlwind of my mind. I listen to my brain – just allowing no thoughts – just feeling it – and the loudness threatens to deafen me. It’s like a Lynchian electronic crackling, frying skillet, industrial booming.

I feel and hear heavy, wet, congested breathing of a bio-woman inside a large black and red and orange cave. She is so large that she is the cave – the vagina at once exterior and interior, entrance/exit, key/quay and lock. She breathes laboriously and yet the “quiet” is deafening. When I run my hand through the cave pools, I feel no temperature. The ideal temperature – the temperature of breast milk, of yeast swelling in the container of milk, ready for flour, ready to be pushed and beaten and poked and prodded into the swelling belly of dough – the food of the soul, the food of cellulite fat assess that are glorious…

Shouldn’t we beg to be able to nuzzle into our mother’s breasts and curl up in a fetal position and float, beautiful pure in a perfect-temperature liquid pool, a bubble of peach-pink liquid, a hazy skin with beautiful cloud-shaped biology? A red-glow somewhere in the distance – the unknown of life to be – the beauty and purity of life within ourselves, our own private womb world… Fed by a candy cane of smooth, thick, viscous liquid – obliterating the memory of tearing, crunching into death with jaws full of teeth that cause so much pain to the things we seek to crush. The mouth that can spew so much hate, so much misdirected venom, yet the mouth that can drink the milk and that can kiss slowly, sweetly innocently, voraciously our lover, our partner, our friend, our lifeboat…

November 26, 1993

Î want to stop biting my nails. But obviously not all of me wants to give up the “habit” – as my nails are chewed beyond short, beyond reasonable. My world is spinning too quickly and I guess the nausea is constantly a threat. I eat myself, I eat my hands for they must be occupied at all times. They ache to work! Work! Work! If not on art, then writing, cleaning, hugging, rubbing, scrubbing, knitting, drawing, wiping, designing, destroying. Am I punishing them when I take a few minutes off to rest?  

November 27, 1993

Oh to be a heroine in a Spaghetti Western– strong taut body, packing a rifle, protecting my turf – alone in a desert wilderness of stinky, sweaty men – curls cascading down from a bun on top of my head, eyes blazing black with lots of eyeliner, mascara, perfect complexion and pink soft large lips – innocent, yet fully cocksure, Is that a noise outside in the quiet desert darkness? Fling the door open and shoot. Blow that motherfucker’s head off!

December 2, 1993

Instructions: to relieve neck aches, the headaches that plague me since the first operation for my parotid gland tumour.

Lay myself down on a soft pillow-like table. My neck gently hanging downward so my head hangs off the table.

Do a small incision at the base of the skull.

Pull out the spine easily like a cooked fish.

Gently scrub the spine with a comfortable scouring pad. Hang to dry.

Meanwhile, lift away the sore muscle tissue to reveal the scapulas, and give them a simple scrubbing. Slice away sore, red throbbing muscle and discard.

Saw away wrecked tendons and replace with new healthy white glistening ones.

Place clean muscle, enhanced with healthy tissue, back on the scapulas.

Gently snap the spine back into place.

Sew up incision and do some gently strokes up and down the spine with the palms of the hand.

December 12, 1993

Promise me nothing you son of a bitch. In this war zone of iron-lung glue, I heave up boundless enigmas of speculations. It ain’t taught, in this hot little twat, how to love thy neighbour. Enter at your own risk and thereby risk nothing. Separate the substance into soluble and insoluble constituents by percolating. Use it at the proper time as your foresaw it. Change from liquid to solid state, clot and curdle, set and solidify. Arouse yourself. Lixiviate, anticipate, coagulate and masturbate.

I attack because I am the future. 

December 21, 1993

It is bedtime and I will suck in a breath and attempt to release the guilt I feel for being who I am.

April 6, 1994

To my kids,

If you are reading this right now – know how much I love you, have always loved you, will always love you… The enormity of this love is beyond comprehension. Know that I am so honoured to be your mother, that I want nothing more from you other than that for you both to grow and live and love in true happiness – happiness within yourself – and joy for what your life is (your lives are). I hope I will be there to witness you both grow into old age. I will continue to learn from you always. Continue to be humble by this task and gift I have been given – i.e. the role of being your mother. Thank you. (How old are you as you are reading this?) Good night.

June 29, 1994

I hereby kill the artist within me – the artist that threatens to split the very essence of my living body. I can no longer sustain this dichotomy of two lives: one of mother/one of artist. The artist in efforts to be heard is strangling the host. Threatening me with insanity… lashing out at those closest is the latest manifestation of the disease. Now the artist wants to sabotage my goodness. My inner peace is gone. So I hereby kill you, oh artist, you fucking leech, you egomaniacal destroyer. You destroy in attempts to get me to create. Well, fuck you! I commit you to suicide. Your voice is silenced. 

Sample Quotes 

IMG_3798

IMG_3803

Unnecessary Violence and Ramblings- archiving of my Shadow Work Journals 1986 to present. Sample 46: June 11, 1988

This daily archiving series is about organizing and dating my journal collection, as well as acknowledging the self-directed violence as important therapeutic shadow work.

During this journal, my daughter is 2.5, my son 0.6 and I am 26.

See previous samples:

Unnecessary Violence Project Explanation and Sample 1 Oct 21, 1992

Sample 2 Date Dec 15 1994

Sample 3 May 16, 2000

Sample 4 August 14, 2002

Sample 5 June 13, 1990

Sample 6 August 23, 2019

Sample 7 December 17, 1995

Sample 8 October 23, 1995

Sample 9 September 1, 2004

Sample 10 September 6, 1999

Sample 11 November 6, 1989

Sample 12 October 23, 2001

Sample 13 October 22, 1993

Sample 14 April 20, 2013

Sample 15 January 31, 1997

Sample 16 January 5, 2012

Sample 17 January 1, 1992

Sample 18 June 14, 2000

Sample 19 November 29,2000

Sample 20 October 22, 1994

Sample 21 February 15, 2002

Samples 22-37

Sample 38 February 21, 1999

Sample 39 July 15, 1997

Sample 40 August 26, 1997

Sample 41 April 21, 2014

Sample 42 January 2, 2002

Sample 43 January 13, 2007

Sample 44 June 22, 2012

Sample 45 December 16, 2004

IMG_2552

Today: Journal start date June 11, 1988

Cover 

IMG_3745

Sample Pages

IMG_3747

IMG_3749

IMG_3751

IMG_3760

IMG_3768

IMG_3771

Sample Writing

June 22, 1988

It’s hard to keep up with the daily grind of living. Right now, just finished cleaning the entire apartment and that is a spectacular sense of relief. I know my life is “obsessed” with cleaning and children and cleaning children. But I really don’t mind. I really want to let go of dance. It gives me a gut ache thinking about performing, etc. Not until I get my son off the boob… And I get my energy up. Feel run down. Taking on too much in my head. Time to clean out the attic in my mind and start anew… Must stop biting my nails. And also allow myself to keep this journal going. Always have an insidious notion that someone is analyzing it and critiquing it whereas it’s really just a daily record of me.

Sample Drawings

IMG_3746

IMG_3754

IMG_3759

IMG_3761

IMG_3763

IMG_3764

IMG_3772

IMG_3773

Sample Quote

“What is the price of an afternoon when a small girl is soothed in your arms, when the sun bolts through a doorway and both you and the child are very young?” – Dorothy Evslin

IMG_3775

Unnecessary Violence and Ramblings- archiving of my Shadow Work Journals 1986 to present. Sample 45: Dec 16, 2004

This daily archiving series is about organizing and dating my journal collection, as well as acknowledging the self-directed violence as important therapeutic shadow work.

See previous samples:

Unnecessary Violence Project Explanation and Sample 1 Oct 21, 1992

Sample 2 Date Dec 15 1994

Sample 3 May 16, 2000

Sample 4 August 14, 2002

Sample 5 June 13, 1990

Sample 6 August 23, 2019

Sample 7 December 17, 1995

Sample 8 October 23, 1995

Sample 9 September 1, 2004

Sample 10 September 6, 1999

Sample 11 November 6, 1989

Sample 12 October 23, 2001

Sample 13 October 22, 1993

Sample 14 April 20, 2013

Sample 15 January 31, 1997

Sample 16 January 5, 2012

Sample 17 January 1, 1992

Sample 18 June 14, 2000

Sample 19 November 29,2000

Sample 20 October 22, 1994

Sample 21 February 15, 2002

Samples 22-37

Sample 38 February 21, 1999

Sample 39 July 15, 1997

Sample 40 August 26, 1997

Sample 41 April 21, 2014

Sample 42 January 2, 2002

Sample 43 January 13, 2007

Sample 44 June 22, 2012

IMG_2552

Today: Journal start date December 16, 2004

Cover

IMG_3704

Sample PagesIMG_3706

IMG_3708IMG_3713

IMG_3715

IMG_3716

IMG_3717

IMG_3730

IMG_3731

Sample Writing

IMG_3722

IMG_3724

Sample Drawings

IMG_3712

IMG_3719

IMG_3721

Sample Quote

“… do not guess, try to count, and if you cannot count, admit that you are guessing.” – G. Kitson Clark

IMG_3705

Unnecessary Violence and Ramblings- archiving of my Shadow Work Journals 1986 to present. Sample 44: June 22, 2012

This daily archiving series is about organizing and dating my journal collection, as well as acknowledging the self-directed violence as important therapeutic shadow work.

Today’s journal spans poignant time. My father, Roar Thorsen, was unwinding and had just a few months left to live. We shared a deep friendship. We were working hard on our book knowing time was of essence.

2-back-cover-photo-of-roar-and-katarina

You can read the book here:

img_9525

PDF VERSION: Drawn Together

My son created this beautiful short documentary as part of the process:

 

See previous samples:

Unnecessary Violence Project Explanation and Sample 1 Oct 21, 1992

Sample 2 Date Dec 15 1994

Sample 3 May 16, 2000

Sample 4 August 14, 2002

Sample 5 June 13, 1990

Sample 6 August 23, 2019

Sample 7 December 17, 1995

Sample 8 October 23, 1995

Sample 9 September 1, 2004

Sample 10 September 6, 1999

Sample 11 November 6, 1989

Sample 12 October 23, 2001

Sample 13 October 22, 1993

Sample 14 April 20, 2013

Sample 15 January 31, 1997

Sample 16 January 5, 2012

Sample 17 January 1, 1992

Sample 18 June 14, 2000

Sample 19 November 29,2000

Sample 20 October 22, 1994

Sample 21 February 15, 2002

Samples 22-37

Sample 38 February 21, 1999

Sample 39 July 15, 1997

Sample 40 August 26, 1997

Sample 41 April 21, 2014

Sample 42 January 2, 2002

Sample 43 January 13, 2007

IMG_2552

Today: Journal start date June 22, 2012

Cover

IMG_3521

Sample Pages

IMG_3526

IMG_3527

 

Sample Writing

IMG_3525

IMG_3531

IMG_3532

IMG_3533

IMG_3534

IMG_3535

IMG_3536

IMG_3541

Sample Drawings

IMG_3529

IMG_3537

IMG_3538

IMG_3539

Sample Quote 

IMG_3530

IMG_3542

Unnecessary Violence and Ramblings- archiving of my Shadow Work Journals 1986 to present. Sample 43: January 13, 2007

This daily archiving series is about organizing and dating my journal collection, as well as acknowledging the self-directed violence as important therapeutic shadow work.

See previous samples:

Unnecessary Violence Project Explanation and Sample 1 Oct 21, 1992

Sample 2 Date Dec 15 1994

Sample 3 May 16, 2000

Sample 4 August 14, 2002

Sample 5 June 13, 1990

Sample 6 August 23, 2019

Sample 7 December 17, 1995

Sample 8 October 23, 1995

Sample 9 September 1, 2004

Sample 10 September 6, 1999

Sample 11 November 6, 1989

Sample 12 October 23, 2001

Sample 13 October 22, 1993

Sample 14 April 20, 2013

Sample 15 January 31, 1997

Sample 16 January 5, 2012

Sample 17 January 1, 1992

Sample 18 June 14, 2000

Sample 19 November 29,2000

Sample 20 October 22, 1994

Sample 21 February 15, 2002

Samples 22-37

Sample 38 February 21, 1999

Sample 39 July 15, 1997

Sample 40 August 26, 1997

Sample 41 April 21, 2014

Sample 42 January 2, 2002

IMG_2552

Today: Journal start date January 13, 2007

Cover

IMG_3479

Sample Pages

IMG_3483

IMG_3484

IMG_3485

IMG_3486

IMG_3487

IMG_3488

IMG_3489

IMG_3492

IMG_3494

IMG_3495

IMG_3497

IMG_3498

Sample Writing

IMG_3501

IMG_3502

IMG_3503

IMG_3504

IMG_3505

Sample Drawing

IMG_3491

 

Sample Quote

IMG_3490

IMG_3480

Unnecessary Violence and Ramblings- archiving of my Shadow Work Journals 1986 to present. Sample 42: January 2, 2002

This daily archiving series is about organizing and dating my journal collection, as well as acknowledging the self-directed violence as important therapeutic shadow work.

See previous samples:

Unnecessary Violence Project Explanation and Sample 1 Oct 21, 1992

Sample 2 Date Dec 15 1994

Sample 3 May 16, 2000

Sample 4 August 14, 2002

Sample 5 June 13, 1990

Sample 6 August 23, 2019

Sample 7 December 17, 1995

Sample 8 October 23, 1995

Sample 9 September 1, 2004

Sample 10 September 6, 1999

Sample 11 November 6, 1989

Sample 12 October 23, 2001

Sample 13 October 22, 1993

Sample 14 April 20, 2013

Sample 15 January 31, 1997

Sample 16 January 5, 2012

Sample 17 January 1, 1992

Sample 18 June 14, 2000

Sample 19 November 29,2000

Sample 20 October 22, 1994

Sample 21 February 15, 2002

Samples 22-37

Sample 38 February 21, 1999

Sample 39 July 15, 1997

Sample 40 August 26, 1997

Sample 41 April 21, 2014

IMG_2552

Today: Journal start date January 2, 2002

Cover

IMG_3402

Sample Writing

IMG_3406

January 3 2002

Let go of J_____ and all your hopes and illusions of what you wish. What you think you need. Let go. Open your heart. Allow feelings – embrace them, then let them go.

Self–forgiveness. All is OK. Pain to light. All will be as it should. You don’t need to try. It is time to stop dwelling. Analyzing. Just live now. Ana accept you are wonderful and your place in your life is yours…

For four years my heart has been breaking, till finally it did break, Wide open. Now it’s simply QUIET TIME…

January 3, 2002

I am a painter again. But it is different now. I have been fighting the realization for a long time, though it has been obvious in my work, that the arthritis has affected the quality. It is really physically hard to paint and do details, it has been for a long time… But I don’t care as long as I can express in a new way within those limits. The trees themes are giving me new ideas and directions. 

January 5, 2002

My broken heart tells me I deserve better than to have experienced what I did. It is not easy to be happy around him while I’m mending. I don’t want to have low self-esteem, but I do when I am around him. That’s just the simple truth. He wants to see me express high self-esteem. Well, he certainly challenged the hell out of me and I’m doing the best I can. 

January 6, 2002

Rode to the edge of my pain last night and this morning, and didn’t shy away from awareness, of looking at myself, my need for control, my resistance to painful experiences., my shyness, my aggressiveness. I ride the edge and ride through layers of anger and frustration and other emotions that are actually directed at myself and the way I live.

As I open further there is a glow of love. A personal understanding that there is no such thing as a soulmate for me. We die alone with our own souls bared. There is a universal connection to all things, but the soul is alone until it leaves the body.

January 9, 2002

I am so glad to divorce. I accept now that our marriage is OVER.

Sample Quote

“Understanding is the ultimate seduction of the mind. Go to the truth beyond the mind. Love is the bridge.” – Stephen Levine

IMG_3405

Unnecessary Violence and Ramblings- archiving of my Shadow Work Journals 1986 to present. Sample 41: April 21, 2014

This daily archiving series is about organizing and dating my journal collection, as well as acknowledging the self-directed violence as important therapeutic shadow work.

See previous samples:

Unnecessary Violence Project Explanation and Sample 1 Oct 21, 1992

Sample 2 Date Dec 15 1994

Sample 3 May 16, 2000

Sample 4 August 14, 2002

Sample 5 June 13, 1990

Sample 6 August 23, 2019

Sample 7 December 17, 1995

Sample 8 October 23, 1995

Sample 9 September 1, 2004

Sample 10 September 6, 1999

Sample 11 November 6, 1989

Sample 12 October 23, 2001

Sample 13 October 22, 1993

Sample 14 April 20, 2013

Sample 15 January 31, 1997

Sample 16 January 5, 2012

Sample 17 January 1, 1992

Sample 18 June 14, 2000

Sample 19 November 29,2000

Sample 20 October 22, 1994

Sample 21 February 15, 2002

Samples 22-37

Sample 38 February 21, 1999

Sample 39 July 15, 1997

Sample 40 August 26, 1997

IMG_2552

Today: Journal start date April 21, 2014

Cover

IMG_3374

IMG_3375

IMG_3376

IMG_3379

IMG_3381

IMG_3382

IMG_3384

Unnecessary Violence and Ramblings- archiving of my Shadow Work Journals 1986 to present. Sample 40: August 26, 1997

This daily archiving series is about organizing and dating my journal collection, as well as acknowledging the self-directed violence as important therapeutic shadow work.

See previous samples:

Unnecessary Violence Project Explanation and Sample 1 Oct 21, 1992

Sample 2 Date Dec 15 1994

Sample 3 May 16, 2000

Sample 4 August 14, 2002

Sample 5 June 13, 1990

Sample 6 August 23, 2019

Sample 7 December 17, 1995

Sample 8 October 23, 1995

Sample 9 September 1, 2004

Sample 10 September 6, 1999

Sample 11 November 6, 1989

Sample 12 October 23, 2001

Sample 13 October 22, 1993

Sample 14 April 20, 2013

Sample 15 January 31, 1997

Sample 16 January 5, 2012

Sample 17 January 1, 1992

Sample 18 June 14, 2000

Sample 19 November 29,2000

Sample 20 October 22, 1994

Sample 21 February 15, 2002

Samples 22-37

Sample 38 February 21, 1999

Sample 39 July 15, 1997

IMG_2552

Today: Journal start date August 26, 1997

Cover

IMG_3365

Sample Pages

2020-05-17 14-08

IMG_3366

IMG_3367

IMG_3369

IMG_3372

IMG_3371

IMG_3368

 

Unnecessary Violence and Ramblings- archiving of my Shadow Work Journals 1986 to present. Sample 39: July 15, 1997

This daily archiving series is about organizing and dating my journal collection, as well as acknowledging the self-directed violence as important therapeutic shadow work.

During this journal, I was maintaining the veneer of a happy marriage, but struggling behind the scenes with events that threatened the nest.  I was accused of having “too high standards.”

What hurts the most in all these pages is my inability to maintain healthy friendships. My issues with my mother and my husband had me pulled thin in two seemingly opposing directions, though looking back, they were very similar people. I had no ability to make the two of them deal with each other instead of using me as buffer.

In a need for control and a need to express anger, I was a terrible friend, expressing unnecessary bitterness and misdirected anger in my letters. And their letters back to me are understandably filled with hurt and confusion.

My boundaries were rice paper thin. Today, I forgive myself. And send out an apology to all those I have hurt.

 See previous samples:

Unnecessary Violence Project Explanation and Sample 1 Oct 21, 1992

Sample 2 Date Dec 15 1994

Sample 3 May 16, 2000

Sample 4 August 14, 2002

Sample 5 June 13, 1990

Sample 6 August 23, 2019

Sample 7 December 17, 1995

Sample 8 October 23, 1995

Sample 9 September 1, 2004

Sample 10 September 6, 1999

Sample 11 November 6, 1989

Sample 12 October 23, 2001

Sample 13 October 22, 1993

Sample 14 April 20, 2013

Sample 15 January 31, 1997

Sample 16 January 5, 2012

Sample 17 January 1, 1992

Sample 18 June 14, 2000

Sample 19 November 29,2000

Sample 20 October 22, 1994

Sample 21 February 15, 2002

Samples 22-37

Sample 38 February 21, 1999

IMG_2552

Today: Journal start date July 15, 1997

Cover

IMG_3354

Sample Pages

IMG_3356

IMG_3355

IMG_3358

IMG_3359

IMG_3357

Sample Writing

July 25, 1997

Dream upon me, the theatre of the soul.

July 29, 1997

Sitting at the pool in Grand Pacific Hotel in Victoria. The kids are in the pool confronting some other kid about something or other… Seems they are resolving the conflict OK. Dropped Anna’s bestie off after our three days together. It is exhausting for Anna to be “on” all the time. J_____ is at the TV station. He was in a serious mood today and I always try to figure out what I can do to get him to feel better. But I should give myself a break and allow him his emotion. He and I tend too much to want each other to be HAPPY all the time. 

Sample Drawing

IMG_3360

Sample Quote

“as the spirit wanes the form appears.” – Charles Bukowski

IMG_3361

 

 

Unnecessary Violence and Ramblings- archiving of my Shadow Work Journals 1986 to present. Sample 38: February 21, 1999

This daily archiving series is about organizing and dating my journal collection.

 See previous samples:

Unnecessary Violence Project Explanation and Sample 1 Oct 21, 1992

Sample 2 Date Dec 15 1994

Sample 3 May 16, 2000

Sample 4 August 14, 2002

Sample 5 June 13, 1990

Sample 6 August 23, 2019

Sample 7 December 17, 1995

Sample 8 October 23, 1995

Sample 9 September 1, 2004

Sample 10 September 6, 1999

Sample 11 November 6, 1989

Sample 12 October 23, 2001

Sample 13 October 22, 1993

Sample 14 April 20, 2013

Sample 15 January 31, 1997

Sample 16 January 5, 2012

Sample 17 January 1, 1992

Sample 18 June 14, 2000

Sample 19 November 29,2000

Sample 20 October 22, 1994

Sample 21 February 15, 2002

Samples 22-37

IMG_2552

Today: Journal start date February 21, 1999

Cover

IMG_3326

Sample Pages

IMG_3327

IMG_3330

IMG_3331

IMG_3332

IMG_3333

Sample Writing

February 21, 1999

Back home after a wonderful, intense weekend in Vancouver at our beloved Rosedale. Recall my conversations with J___. A new time in our life, the need to develop the ego, to cut my umbilical cord that ties me to my guilt to mom.

February 23, 1999

In March I go for a mammogram- my first and it does well up a lot of old memories of the parotid gland tumour. I do not want to find myself using this moment as an escape from the guilt as I continuously feel around mom. I hope I can also simply forget about it and not have that little kernel of “hope” that something is wrong, so that I am “released”… sickness is a “way out” from guilt. It always has been.

March 9, 1999

Oh, precious life! I am reprieved – healthy and well! Julian and Anna are doing so well at school. J____ is undergoing a change, a new awareness… I watch Julian’s chest moving up and down as he breathes, as he sleeps. Hear Anna’s sweet call “good night!” And I don’t need any more than this – just to love, to tend this family, and to create some art.

IMG_3353

Sample Drawing

IMG_3328

Sample Quote

“he sat naked and drunk in a room of summer night,
running the blade of the knife under his fingernails, smiling,
thinking of all the letters he had received
telling him that the way he lived and wrote about that–
it had kept them going when all seemed truly hopeless.
putting the blade on the table, he flicked it with a finger
and it whirled in a flashing circle under the light.
who the hell is going to save me? he thought.
as the knife stopped spinning the answer came:
you’re going to have to save yourself.
still smiling,
a: he lit a cigarette
b: he poured another drink
c: gave the blade another spin.”

– Charles Bukowski

IMG_3334

Unnecessary Violence and Ramblings- archiving of my Shadow Work Journals 1986 to present: Samples 22 to 37, Composition Books and To-Do Lists

This daily archiving series is about organizing and dating my journal collection. Today’s samples are a series of composition books that served more as to-do lists. They merge work with daily life. [Deeper journals were being recorded elsewhere on large drawings and mind maps.]

 See previous samples:

Unnecessary Violence Project Explanation and Sample 1 Oct 21, 1992

Sample 2 Date Dec 15 1994

Sample 3 May 16, 2000

Sample 4 August 14, 2002

Sample 5 June 13, 1990

Sample 6 August 23, 2019

Sample 7 December 17, 1995

Sample 8 October 23, 1995

Sample 9 September 1, 2004

Sample 10 September 6, 1999

Sample 11 November 6, 1989

Sample 12 October 23, 2001

Sample 13 October 22, 1993

Sample 14 April 20, 2013

Sample 15 January 31, 1997

Sample 16 January 5, 2012

Sample 17 January 1, 1992

Sample 18 June 14, 2000

Sample 19 November 29,2000

Sample 20 October 22, 1994

Sample 21 February 15, 2002

IMG_2552

Today: Journals, Composition Books between April 2014 to October 2019

April 6 2014

Procrastination Rules

  1. Get a composition book – just get it
  2. Collect some writing and drawing supplies – don’t need to use them
  3. Collect all your to-do’s in a basket- if they fit in a basket
  4. Make a book pile – impressive
  5. Grab a coffee and your phone
  6. Collect some shit to eventually glue into your new composition book
  7. Go on Instagram
  8. Reheat the coffee

Slingshot Metaphor: I’ve been mulling over the image for a few days now. I recognize a theme happening for so many of us right now, certainly for me – feeling like I am being pulled backwards, just when I thought I had it all figured out and within my reach. Being pulled back into revisiting so many triggers from the past, reconnecting with so many people from the past. Weighed down by the same old fear of not being able to make ends met. Humiliated of not being able to access funds that are waiting. Feeling undervalued, not ready to ask questions. All this stuff/imagery/photos/film/video memories being revisited yet again. I want to say “Alright, I leave you now. You’re not serving me anymore.” I am being pulled so taut, so thin, so vaporized. Until finally there must be a true letting go and I will shoot forward  from past the past the past, to new heights. SEE YA. 

November 24 2014

IMG_3279

IMG_3280

Moss in time… in time… the root overtakes the bone and pulls it down past the moss and the rock and the roots and the decay away and overlay and sun though the leaves offers pockets of hope and the shoot and the root crush under the boot. Here. Hear! HEAR! HERE!

February 20, 2015

IMG_3281

February 20, 2015

Sitting at Starbucks at Cornwall, waiting for Anna. Julian is out with his friend. Tobey is in the car and Asterix at home in his cage. I tend to keep those 4 in my thoughts all the time – checking in. Tobey is definitely aging quickly and writing it down makes it more real and inevitable. He’s just so representative of my connection with Pappa especially as I compare their two journeys of winding down towards the end of life.

224762_2053487698974_6501851_n

I feel tired, excited, more peaceful, but tired and worn. Fridays tend to be so. Reflecting days. My days. So the body inevitably relaxes into migraine mode. I am worn out. This time last year – Jesus Christ. Accepting surrendering, packing, moving, bankruptcy, no money. No home.

” You need to finish your book here,” the caretaker Bill said as we looked at our potential apartment.

I recall:

IMG_3282

May 29, 2015

“Every true story ends in death.” – Ernest Hemingway

June 12, 2015

Will I ever be able to pay my bills with ease, to travel at leisure, to feel successful, to never worry about money because my ideas/projects flourish? Do I stay on this oasis island that is me: asexual, isolated, alone, alive, anxious? I LIKE IT HERE. 

July 2015

IMG_3285

IMG_3286

July 10, 1015

Repeated patterns, finding your true self, understanding the root causes of why you find yourself repeatedly in the same situation and how over time we are able to change the pattern, break the cycle, to create a new perspective, a new route, to look at the same situation with new eyes to alter the thoughts process by a simple 180 alteration to at least try a different way…

IMG_3315

July 27, 2015

Act as if… Dear me,

You now stand fully naked, fully present, fully you.  Gone are the shackles that pulled you downwards into self-doubting, crippling anxiety.  No longer do you hesitate before expressing.  But most importantly, no longer do you collapse in shame and doubt after you expressed yourself.  

Speaking your truth used to cause you to feel like you were choking on amniotic fluid.  Felt like it came at a price.  

Now you can breathe in and breathe out with open mouth, open nostrils, open sinuses, open throat, open heart, open eyes, open mind without fear.  

You release your truth, your art, your work onto and into the world and receive back the conversations/communications with an open and fearless heart- a heart that is ready to dialogue.  

Your work used to require boundaries.  Your life used to comprise of self-imposed boundaries to protect your heart from rejection and loss.  But now you are boundless.  And so the work you have built on awakening creative expression in others- a gift you truly were born with and have worked so tirelessly to deliver- takes on a new level on a global scale.  You are not in need of accolades.  You are simply expressing, thereby allowing others to feel the same freedom.  It need no longer be frontline work (in person), it is a new principle and way of living.  

Full presence.  

You have taken all the heartache, all the joy, all the blood and guts of life and built a mission and vision that has created true abundance.  

You will never be anxiety-free and you will never not have heart-shattering challenges, but you now have a giant delicious toolbox with which to meet those challenges and easily process, die into them and rebirth from them.  You are truly living with ease.  

All is as it should be.  

Congratulations.  

Love, me 

July 2015

IMG_3287

IMG_3288

IMG_3316

November 2015

IMG_3317

June 2016

IMG_3291