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.

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You can read the book here:

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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

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Today: Journal start date June 22, 2012

Cover

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Sample Pages

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Sample Writing

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Sample Drawings

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Sample Quote 

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Father, daughter, Fenrir, Gleipnir and “Drawn Together”- the book: 6 years later.

Wow.  October 25, 2018 will mark the sixth year since my father passed away.  I am so aware of all the dates in October… so aware that he was winding down.

Interestingly, more October connections: on October 12, 2005 (13 years ago), my father drew for the first time after his life threatening stroke (September 21, 2005).

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My father, the Viking, my greatest cheerleader, infused in me the joy of creating, the joy of hard work and the importance of never giving up.

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And so we wrote a book together.  And on October 15, 2012, as he was navigating the fog of morphine, surrounded by reminder posters on the wall as to where he was and what year it was, we pressed send to the publisher.  We marked the occasion by signing the inside of our favourite book that inspired the project.

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On October 25, 2012, the morning of the day he passed, I played this Swedish lullaby, sung by his favourite actor, into his left ear.  Over and over again.  Sleep, my little heart.

 

Six years.  Why does it feel so significant?

In our Viking heritage/ Norse mythology, the number 6 represents the leash Gleipner.

Gleipnir was the name of the super strong leash used to hold the dreadful Fenrir Wolf. The Fenrir Wolf was one the monstrous children of the trickster god Loki. The dwarfs had made this extraordinary leash.

The Fenrir Wolf only agreed to try the leash if Tyr put his hand in his mouth. The wolf bit off the right hand of the god Tyr. Tyr gave his name to Tuesday. Gleipnir consisted of six items:

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2. The beard of a woman

3. The roots of a mountain

4. The sinews of a bear

5. The breath of a fish

6. The spit of a bird

The Vikings explained that the Gleipnir was the reason these six items no longer existed. The Fenrir Wolf will not break loose from Gleipnir before Ragnarok (the end of the world). source

I kind of see my father as Fenrir and the stroke as Gleipnir.  And my father has broken free now, and devoured Odin.  But there is so much significance to this myth that I will write about at a later date.

I am moved to share our book in full today:

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From the heart- a 15 day journal exercise Part 14: Dying Contemplation

I am re-reading Stephen Levine‘s A Year to Live- how to live this year as if it were your last as a personal exercise schedule to take time to slow down and truly listen to my heart.

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Recall:

Part 1: Catching Up with Your Life

Part 2: Practice Dying

Part 3: Preparing to Die

Part 4: Dying from the Common Cold

Part 5: Renewing Evolution

Part 6: Famous Last Words

Part 7: Fear of Fear

Part 8- Noticing

Part 9: A Commitment to Life

Part 10: Fear of Dying

Part 11: Fear of Death

Part 12: The Moment of Death

Part 13: The Act of Dying

Part 14: Dying Contemplation

1. Journal exercise:

What makes you breathe in and breathe out in a full-hearted  way?

For me it is ART.

And so it was for my Dad.

I was so blessed to witness the healing power of art as my Dad thrived at his extended care facility, carving out a life for himself.  He had purpose, routine, passion.  He had reclaimed his emotional life through art.  And he created till the end.  With a full heart.  What can be greater than that?  Wow.  Deep breath of gratitude.

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2. Capture chapter highlights:

Our story opens with the last breath and closes with the first…

The last breath of life leaving the body behind.  The connection severed between the light body and the heavy body.  The end of this life…

Let yourself die.  Let go now.  Hold to nothing.  Trust the process…

Float free in your original spaciousness…

Watch as something slowly approaches.  It is the first breath of life.

– Stephen Levine

3. Explore another source regarding listening to the messages from the heart:

I was screaming into the canyon
At the moment of my death
The echo I created
Outlasted my last breath

My voice it made an avalanche
And buried a man I never knew
And when he died his widowed bride
Met your daddy and they made you

I have only one thing to do and that’s
To be the wave that I am and then
Sink back into the ocean

– Fiona Apple Source

4. Today’s angel card(s):

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From the heart- a 15-day journal exercise Part 6

I am re-reading Stephen Levine‘s A Year to Live- how to live this year as if it were your last as a personal exercise schedule to take time to slow down and truly listen to my heart.

Recall:

Part 1: Catching Up with Your Life

Part 2: Practice Dying

Part 3: Preparing to Die

Part 4: Dying from the Common Cold

Part 5: Renewing Evolution

Part 6: Famous Last Words

1. I copy a panel from The Song of Roland

This panel– I copied a panel from the book and drew it with china marker and oil pastels and olive oil of Siberian Pine– is so comforting for me as it reminds me of the beauty of caring for my parents.  It eases my heart.

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Read this book!!!!!

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2. Capture chapter highlights:

What words would you actually utter as you expelled your last breath?

This stage of growth, of looking ourselves squarely in the eye and recognizing the work still necessary to become whole, the hearts to be touched, the amends to be made, and the thank-you cards to be sent, is painful and life-expanding for everyone…

Prepare now for death so as to intensify and fulfill your life.  Don’t imagine your endorphins are going to do it for you “when the time comes.”  When the time actually comes, what is found then will be what is found now…

We die the way we live.

3. Explore another source regarding listening to the messages from the heart:

“He smelled the garden, the yellow shield of light smote his eyes, and he whispered, “Life is so beautiful.”

Yes, he thought, if I can die saying, “Life is so beautiful,” then nothing else is important.”
― Mario Puzo, The Godfather

4. Today’s angel card(s):

Angel cards

You can read the book I created with my father here:

DRAWN TOGETHER 

(page contains PDF link) 

We were drawn together on Saturday- and now I know why…

I love family.  And we have shared so much- all the life markers, the ups and downs of life and through it all there is that special glue that connects us.

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Illustration by Björn Berg. Emil i Lönneberga by Astrid Lindgren.

We had an impromptu get together at my place on Saturday- somehow ALL of us (niece, nephew, brothers, sister in laws, daughter, son, daughter in love, parrot) were together in my creative mayhem- my crowded delirious delicious chaos.

It’s not unusual for us to get together, but this day felt a bit deeper and very special.  I was so aware of a feeling I couldn’t name- joy, love, gratitude, what?

I looked around as I sat sewing my nephew’s Cookie Monster costume and smiled, watching the hurricane of activity as everyone ranging in age from toddler to adult was talking at once, doing something, playing with something, eating chicken! ribs! cupcakes!, being real loud and hilarious.

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Chaos meets chaos in the name of LOVE!  I felt the strong presence of mom and dad and that they were celebrating with us.  Celebrating family.  I felt Tobey’s spirit walking around snuffling for scraps.

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And I really had this sense that we were drawn together for a reason– if nothing else than to just BE together.  But in my heart I felt there was something more.  I had a smile on my face all Sunday and just had to send a message of love and gratitude to the family today, acknowledging there was something magical about it.  It definitely was not a typical family dinner.  The palpable connection and vibe harkened back to our vigils around Mom and Dad during their final days.  We were all together celebrating our connections.

And so now, we cut to about an hour ago and I receive a message from my cousin in Stockholm that my mom’s brother, my uncle Olle, passed away peacefully on Saturday surrounded by family.

Is this why we were drawn together on Saturday!?

It’s amazing- a family drawn together.  Souls celebrating, acknowledging.

My uncle was so funny, so loving.  The rest of us were frequently doubled over in laughter.  And often woken by his late night cook offs in the kitchen.  I recall he was so worried that I would get lost in 1984 when I hopped on the train to visit my friend outside of Stockholm.  When I arrived at Huddinge station, he was sitting in his car, ensuring I had arrived OK.  In 2009, when my son and I were taking the bus to visit my cousins at their summer cottage, Olle walked us to the bus stop, bought the tickets and thrust chocolate bars in our hands for the trip.  He loved history and he influenced my love for American literature- introducing me to the likes of Miller and Heller.

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Photo by my son Julian Bowers of my uncle during our visit in 2009.  Olle looks out his apartment window over Stortorget in Stockholm.

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My aunt and uncle’s apartment is the yellow building on the left. PARADISE!

Say hi to Mamma and Pappa, Olle.

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My mother, Karin, and my Uncle Olle.

An homage by my son, Julian:

My great uncle Olle passed away on Saturday.

I only met him once during the half a week I was in Stockholm, but he was a really wonderful and warm person and he was one of the many things that made my trip to Sweden in 2009 so phenomenal.

A story mom’s fond of telling is his bashing around in the kitchen at three in the morning to make himself a full dinner. I can relate to this habit.

When I went to Stockholm, he was living across from the Nobel Museum.
“See that place?” he asked me.
“Yeah, I went there yesterday,” I said.
“I’ve never been there in my life,” he laughed.
“OUR FAMILY HAS HAD THIS PLACE FOR TWENTY YEARS,” I said.
“I’ve been meaning to go.”
“IT’S…RIGHT THERE.”
“Ehh, I’m not in a rush.”

I always thought that story was funny, but in hindsight, I appreciated the fact that he wasn’t too concerned about rushing in to doing things if it wasn’t necessary. It doesn’t matter if he ever went or not, he was obviously relaxed and satisfied with how his life was going and it was wonderful to see someone content with the flow of life as opposed to fighting it. He was a comforting human being to be around, just judging from the few days I was able to see him.

I took this photo of him in his apartment.

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Dedicated to Olof Orwald and Aunt Siv, cousins Annika, Dan, Gunilla, Tom and their families.

Interestingly, today it is 48 years since my family arrived in Canada:

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Leaving Grums train station October 1968.

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“Always, remember, you are the best.” No, you were, Pappa. #toliveuntilwesaygoodbye

My greatest cheerleader was my Dad.

4 years ago today, his heart stopped beating, but his spirit lives on.

His pep talks were the best.

“Always, remember, you are the best.”

No, you were, Pappa.  

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Our gift to you:

Free PDF version of DRAWN TOGETHER, THE BOOK by Roar and Kat Thorsen!

LINK

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The best corner in the world- Lions Gate Hospital Cafeteria, our favorite table, with snacks and coffee and Tobey beside us.

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On Autumnal endings and beginnings in October

This is such a beautiful tender time of the year for me.  The autumn is both a time of loss and renewal.  My parents passed in the autumn, yet autumn is a time of new possibilities and fresh starts.

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Life/ death.  The extremes?

Or two sides of the same coin or exactly the same?  For isn’t one simply the other?  Is the dark abyss before birth and after death simply the same graceful infinity that unites EVERY thing in this finite universe?

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The overhead horizon.  They want to say something, the dead.

They smoke but don’t eat, they don’t breathe but still have their voices.

I’ll hurry through the streets as if I’m one of them.

The darkening cathedral, heavy as a moon, ebbs and flows.

– Tomas Tranströmer, Deep in Europe from For the Living and the Dead (translated from original Swedish by Don Coles)

Avlyssnad horisont.  De vill säga något, de döda.

De röker men äter inte, de andas inte men har rösten kvar.

Jag kommer att skynda genom gatorna som en av dem.

Den svartande katedralen, tung som en måne, gör ebb och flod.

– Tomas Tranströmer, Djupt i Europa from För levande och döda.

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Recalling this time of year with my father:

October 11, 2012

Dad and I spent the evening in emergency to replace his catheter.  We watched the debate and laughed and talked about life.

October 12, 2005

Dad’s first sketch after his September 21, 2005 stroke:

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October 13, 2012

My father is dying.  I accept it.  He unwinds before me.  I let him go.  But losing my best friend is more painful than I anticipated.

October 15 2012

My father’s last writing:

 

And though at times, the wave hits me and that drowning saudade washes over me,  I know that without the grounding of loss, I would not have the air with which to fly.

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. – George Eliot

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Read Drawn Together (free PDF):

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Woot! @BigDrawVan at @strathcentre turned out beautifully!

Recall: BIG DRAW VANCOUVER

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IN THE MIDST OF COMMUNITY CENTRE ACTIVITY, WITH KIDS PLAYING BASKETBALL AND COMMUNITY MEMBERS OF ALL AGES WALKING THROUGH, DRAWN TOGETHER WORKED OUT BEAUTIFULLY.  WE HAD THREE TABLES SET UP IN THE HALLWAY(!) AND THERE WAS A  GREAT TURNOUT!  THE BUSYNESS WAS INVIGORATING AND PARTICIPANTS WERE AMAZING!

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HUGE THANK YOU TO ALISON DONNELLY WHO FACILITATED THE COLLAGE PORTION!

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‘Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.’ Journaling exercise

Today you are a newborn and you are starting fresh!

Draw a baby.

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Draw brainstorm bubbles above “your “head.

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Write about what it may be like to start fresh.  Releasing anxiety and hesitancy.

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Brainstorm central themes in your life.  Just let it happen.

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Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.

Meister Eckhart

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A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born. 

― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Recalling an alternative version of the exercise: What makes an object sacred?

My father’s last pencil box.  It will remain untouched.  It contains his favorite drawing tools like the black pencil crayon and his instant coffee spoon and his rolled up hand towel that he used to brush eraser bits away.

I went into Staples today and felt the weight of missing Dad.  He and I loved shopping for stationary together.

I miss our coffee dates and his to-do lists, but I am ready for the next chapter.  Ready to keep going.

What makes an object sacred? Write about it for 15 minutes.  Draw.  Add thought bubbles.  Pull out key words from your journal entry.

Big Draw Vancouver Oct 1! Join me at Strathcona Community Centre for DRAWN TOGETHER

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I LOVE teaching drawing!  

Join me on for BIG DRAW VANCOUVER on October 1 2016 10:30 AM-12:30 PM PT at Strathcona Community Centre in Vancouver BC (601 Keefer) as I host a two hour drawing session!  

My fabulous artist friend, Alison Donnelly, will be co-hosting!

Try out chinamarkers on newsprint, add to a community art project using wheatpaste, join in as I run through some simple drawing lessons!  You can finish some of my pre-prepped drawings, or draw whatever you like!

Creative Process! Experiment!

Join for the full two hours or drop in!

All ages and FREE!  

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CHECK OUT:

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Same tools, same instructions, all equal, all different. O.W.L.

The OWL is a POWERFUL image and I use it all the time in my work.

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The form of the OWL itself is very conducive to teaching the principles of drawing.

The direction quickly create an engaging and intense gaze, drawing both the student and the observer in.

By Aug 24, I’ll have led approx 225 people ages 10-92 through the O.W.L. drawing exercise since June 2!  It’s not just about drawing… It’s about paying attention to the inner critic and anxiety, about empathy. Connection.  It’s about observe/wait/listen and reflective listening.  We share the room, use the same tools, hear the same instructions, all equal, and yet delight in all the differences.

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” – Henry David Thoreau

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Photo by Rick Magnell

 

The OWL often appears in my personal work-

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