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

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Today: Journal start date June 11, 1988

Cover 

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Sample Pages

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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

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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

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“Familiar” – a documentary short by Anna Thorsen

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One year ago, my daughter proposed a project. I am so happy I agreed. It was a powerful and transformative experience.

Familiar is a short documentary about my Swedish mother, Karin Thorsen. Her story is told through the letters she wrote to her best friends from 1968-2001.

This project was my daughter’s Grad Film for Langara’s Documentary Film Production course.

Director: Anna Thorsen
Executive Producer: Annat Kennet and Langara College
Writer/Editor: Anna Thorsen
Cinematographer: Anna Thorsen
Lighting/Sound: Anna Thorsen
Original Score: Julian Bowers
Research Support: Katarina Thorsen
Translator: Katarina Thorsen

To watch, go to: FAMILIAR

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Thank you Anna for this transformative experience.

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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

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Today: Journal start date February 21, 1999

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Sample Pages

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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.

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Sample Drawing

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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

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Unnecessary Violence and Ramblings- archiving of my Shadow Work Journals 1986 to present. Sample 21: February 15, 2002

This daily archiving series is about organizing and dating my journal collection. Today’s sample journal starts about a month and a half after J_____ and I decided we were going to divorce. He is living in Vancouver and I am on the Sunshine Coast with the kids.

 See:

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

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Today: Journal Start Date February 15, 2002

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Sample Pages

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Sample Writing

February 20, 2002

It’s early and I’ve been reading in bed. Anna is doing her makeup and Julian is still asleep. I have a tired cup of coffee beside me. My life seems to be a waiting game of sorts. I want to shed that feeling. I’m about to turn 40. I wonder how long I am destined to live? I am alone, that’s OK. But I want to travel and fuck and share and laugh. I want to be mind blasted by love. Magic. I want to see the world with Anna and Julian. I feel full of direction. In my parenting, my studies, my art. But my spirit is tired or asleep or something. At this moment I could easily shed my clothes and go into the ocean and just drift away. But it’s too cold, and I’d just get a bladder infection. No- this house BEATS with LIFE and I am glad to be a mother. Sometimes, though, I have the overwhelming feeling of: “What is it that is happening?” “What is coming?” “When?” 

February 26, 2002

Trying and loving –> then trying not to love. But this didn’t work. So don’t try and let love simply exist. 

Too tired to go to North Vancouver today. My kidneys cry to stay home…

What is my destiny?

February 28, 2002

I have to let J____ go – OUT of my being. Out of my heart and my soul. I don’t trust myself to survive another heartache. With him. With anyone. Why does my heart remain committed to him? How do I turn off the light? Do I even know how to live anymore? Where’s the innocence? 

March 3, 2002

I am profoundly sad for losing him, but also profoundly sad for not letting him go after the affair with M____. I want to undo myself from our history. Our love. I need to stop thinking. I can’t offer him friendship now.

March 7, 2002

I wish there was a way to have total silence. So that J____ and I can experience life without each other. But we are connected through blood… We are engulfed in each other. But there is unlocking occurring. A disillusionment. The disappointment has passed. Discarded hearts thrown against cement walls. Trampled on by each other. But I have shoved my heart back into my chest, bruised but not defeated. Chewed up, but not beyond recognition. Beating, despite. That’s what I don’t understand? How can it continue to beat? 

March 8, 2002

There were two distinct times that J____ expressed to me that he felt a COMPLETE CONNECTION to me: 

  1. When he was in the tub and talked about his deep love for his lover C____ to me while I sat on the bathroom floor and listened…
  2. When he complained about her and their problems while I listened to him on the phone…

But I had removed myself in those moments in order to listen to him speak of his lover- the woman he had been with for more than a year without my knowledge. I split from my soul… and yet he claims to have felt completely connected to me.  Who was he connecting to then?

Psychologically, this is when I broke.

And I realize it was not me he sought– he sought a friend who would just listen. But as a wife, listening to his confusion about his lover, I asked too much of myself.

He didn’t see ME. I could have been anyone. So…

I accept that what I longed for was to be SEEN by him. That I have longed for a life that doesn’t exist. He needs a friend. But I am not the right person. What I need is to be MYSELF when I interact with another person. The alternative is suicide of self.

It is OK to have made mistakes and choices that make me wince. 

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Sample Drawing

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Sample Quote

“Accepting the unacceptable needs no special skills. It only needs awareness.” – SARK

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Unnecessary Violence and Ramblings- archiving of my Shadow Work Journals 1986 to present. Sample 20: October 12, 1994

This daily archiving series is about organizing and dating my journal collection. Several samples have left me a bit raw. This sample, however, is another lighter one … Family life seemingly puttering along in Kitsilano.

See:

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

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Today: Journal Start Date October 12, 1994

Cover

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Sample Pages

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Sample Writing

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Sample Drawing

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Sample Quote

“Myth does to time what metaphor does to space.” – Northrop Frye

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Unnecessary Violence- random archiving of my Shadow Work Journals 1986 to present. Sample 10: September 6, 1999

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. Processing my projections and darkness. There is much joy in the pages. There is also a lot of pain. I try not to judge my younger self – even from last week, or yesterday or 5 minutes ago. Who I was then, who I am now- inseparable. I continue to be sculpted.

See:

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

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Today: Journal Start Date September 6, 1999

Cover

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Sample Pages

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My daughter’s high school…

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Sample Writing

October 19, 1999

Slowly seem to be attempting to get back to actually writing personal thoughts in my journal again as opposed to collecting images and research material. Perhaps I am inclined to do this because of the lines on these sheets or because that is what Universe is calling me to do. But is it really any more “journalistic” to write words than collect the artifacts of my life and interests? 

[Note: There was of course the daily struggles of money, special eduction services, just being a mother, daughter, wife, artist, etc. Life was puttering along on the Sunshine Coast. My kids and I, super happy. My relationship with my parents, great. I was corresponding weekly with my mother in law. The house was being renovated. I, however, was in denial about a lot of things happening “behind the scenes” – wasn’t writing much personal stuff in my journal, keeping a mask on, not knowing that in a year and a bit the marriage was ending and that I was sharing my life partner with another woman. I really actually thought we were happy. I cannot judge myself for my “head in the sand” approach or him. It was the way it was then. So be it. That time resides in these journals. I leave them there. It has shaped us into the so much happier humans we are today. But the pain that was around the corner, climaxing in April 2001, would at times be soul shattering.]

November 9, 1999

Enjoying my upstairs studio! A ROOM OF MY OWN! And despite the first night of guilt and bizarre feelings of displacement and listening to new sounds – we are getting used to the living room as our bedroom and it looks beautiful. 

December 1999 My son’s letter to Santa.

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He opened his gift and it was a large Beanie Baby golden retriever.

“There is no Santa.” 

It was HEARTBREAKING. I was a piece of shit. 

Sample Drawing

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Sample Quote

“His voice, synchronized to the shadow of a pinhead, intoxicates him. He hears a roar where others hear only a squeak.” – Henry Miller

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Unnecessary Violence- random archiving of my Shadow Work Journals 1986 to present. Sample 9: September 1, 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. Processing my projections and darkness.

There is much joy in the pages. There is also a lot of pain. I try not to judge my younger self. Who I was then, who I am now- inseparable. I continue to be sculpted.

Some pages are just… yuck. In particular, the divorce process.

Holy fucking shit. I have come a long way. Big breath in, big breath out and release.

See:

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

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 [My “hard copy” collection- this blog has certainly been a journal as well]
Today: Journal Start Date September 1, 2004

Cover

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Sample Pages

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Sample Writing

September 1, 2004

Interacting leaves me tired. I’ve got to start anew, again. 

September 4, 2004

Maybe this is my lesson. That I can be right. To not diminish my rightness. Recall the Seattle bus incident and dumbing myself down to appease J____.

There is new grief and loss with each lesson learned. Did I waste all that energy silencing myself? Afraid to argue? Afraid to hurt others? Is this not me trying to control?! Is this not passive-aggressive on my  part?! Does it not diminish me when I try to avoid conflict?

September 8, 2004

The feeling of being in limbo is itself a loss. Even if the situation turns out fine. 

September 13, 2004

Can one express anger yet remain eloquently silent?

“I forgive you.” What does this mean? To me it means letting go of the past and its negative power over me. It means accepting all of it – good, bad, beautiful, ugly – and understanding it has shaped me…

Safe space. This is what I have created for myself and my children within the walls of my home. Can I extend this to my interaction with others in my life? 

Therapy notes: I and Other- presence, but maintaining I. Read Harriet Lerner’s “Dance with Anger” and the children’s book, “The Giving Tree.” PTSD, years of process, grieving, trauma, caregiving. Unprocessed grief. How to accept anger, express it, control it. Tactile, values, routine –> MUST divorce, in all its definitions. Art, analysis, family ties, self-confidence, decisions, archetypes, concrete examples, suicide, choices, independence, disentangling.

September 15, 2004

What are my goals?

My children’s independence, to write books, to work with teens, self-sufficiency, quiet life. Muteness.

September 26, 2004

Had a meeting over coffee on the porch at Mamma and Pappa. Pappa and I felt like there was a light directing us back to routine, back to excitement over work.

October 3, 2004

The seven drops [from “The Out of Sync Child has Fun”]

  1. Drop your voice
  2. Drop your body
  3. Drop your TV remote
  4. Drop your guard
  5. Drop your defenses
  6. Drop your batteries
  7. Drop your misconceptions.

Sample Drawing

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Sample Quote

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Man klarar sig i många år på ett ögonblick…

Just a few moments from this past week.

I was gifted 3 very special, very moving, very private days in Stockholm.

It was about family, about grieving, about celebrating, about the city.

 

 

 

 

Man klarar sig i många år på ett ögonblick

– Kalle Moraeus, Sommar Pratarna, SVT24

[You can survive many years on a moment]

 

 

 

 

 

This New Moon is about the heart, your truth, your emotions, and working with what you carry in your bones and blood from your ancestors, your imprinting and your own personal lineage of lifetimes. 

The Power Path

This post is dedicated to my aunt, Siv.

With my Aunt Siv at her apartment in Stortorget, Gamla Stan , Stockholm June 27, 2019

Potato Nose Diaries (1977): Instalment 9- Torpet

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Previously on PND:

Instalment 1: Introduction

Instalment 2: The First Entries

Instalment 3: Do Tendu Jetés en Balance

Instalment 4: Sex Education

Instalment 5: They Don’t Know What It Is

Potato Nose Diaries (1977) Short: I am 15 now

Potato Nose Diaries (1977) Short: The Audition

Instalment 6: The Trip to Paris

Potato Nose Diaries (1977) Short: Steven

Instalment 7: Grad and the Part

Instalment 8: The Letter

Today’s instalment

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© Katarina Thorsen 2018

This post is dedicated to the Carlsson’s, Skååre’s, Hallgren’s, Envall’s.

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Photo by Julian Bowers. Ulriksdal, Mässvik, Värmland, Sweden, July 2009.

60 years ago my mother became a mother. (Karin Kristina Orwald 1936 – 2008)

Decades are significant.

60 years ago my mother became a mother.

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My older brother born Summer 1958

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50 years ago we moved to Canada from Sweden.

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Leaving Grums, Sweden, October 31, 1968

50 years ago, my mother started to write letters home to Sweden.

 

 

30 years ago, my mother’s second grandchild was born.

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My son born January 1988

10 years ago, I had my ear to my mother’s chest and listened as her heart slowed down and then stop.  My brother held her face and guided her through.  Surrounded by family. Her final exhale liberated her soul and I felt right then she flew straight down to San Francisco to be with my daughter who flew home ta few days later.

10 years.

On this day, I am lucky enough to work from home and simply be in my space in peace and joy.  I did what I learned so well from mamma- I cleaned the bathroom, did the dishes, mopped the floors (making sure to go behind the furniture).

I ate food so iconically mamma- pannkaka and cookies and egg.

Drank coffee.  And bit into an apple.

The apple is significant.

Mamma’s full name is Karin Kristina Orwald (Thorsen).

The Emigrant Saga Series by Wilhelm Moberg has so many parallels to mamma’s journey.  And the main character, Kristina, is wrapped in the metaphor her beloved apple tree at home in Sweden and on her death bed holds a ripe apple from her tree in Minnesota.

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The Apple Tree, by Roar Thorsen, 2010

I remember that final year, when I mopped mom’s floors and she lay on her bed and we laughed and shared stories and talked about Pinesol.

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Karin Summer 2008

I love you, Mamma.

This post is dedicated to my cousin, Dan Orwald, who passed away suddenly last week.

My aunt Siv with my Cousin Annika, Dan in the middle and Mamma holding my older brother, Christmas 1958.

On this one year anniversary since Asterix passed, something poignant happened.

In the early morning of September 24, 2018, it will be one year since I lost my beloved parrot, Asterix.

Recall:

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Losing him was deeply painful.  I lost my companion.  I lost our family history keeper.  I lost my parents’ voices.  Taking care of his little body, saying our goodbyes, wrapping him in a little shroud– all felt deeply ritualistic and tender.

Recall:

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I have been thinking a lot about how I might mark this day, an especially powerful anniversary with the Autumn Equinox and the Harvest Moon.

This morning my daughter and I were in the living room, and I said to her, “Isn’t it amazing that not before or since the day Asterix died has a bird landed and looked in our window?”  (I was remembering the crow that landed on the windowsill the day Asterix died and sat there looking in, acknowledging.)

Our cat, Reina, was playing with my china markers and my daughter said, “Reina is channeling Asterix’s spirit!”  (Asterix LOVED playing with my china markers.)

We carried on Sunday morning lounging, me drawing and Squeak, our other cat, snuggling with my daughter.  After only a minute or two we heard a sound, like a knock on the window.  A poignant thing happened.  Our cat, Reina, came into the living room and made a strange and unusual meow.  My daughter checked and she was very surprised to see a dead bird on the rug.

We have not had a cat bring us a dead bird since Riley brought them in when we lived on the Sunshine Coast when he was an outdoor cat.  (We moved from there 15 years ago and Riley retired to become and indoor cat in 2003.)

Reina was shooed away from the bird and we took the cats into my bedroom.  My breath was taken away when I saw my pillow and bedding sprinkled with little feathers, in the sunshine under our window.  A bird had obviously hit the window and Reina had grabbed it.  But this was more that that.  The timing, profound.  This seemed nothing less than magical.  Especially considering my deep connection with birds.

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I went back to the living room and picked up the bird carefully and placed it in a container and placed it in the freezer.  (We have not had a dead bird in the freezer since we wrapped Asterix, a year ago, and gently placed him in there for safe keeping until his cremation.)

Before taking the bird to the park to bury it, I took some photographs.  Thanking this sweet heartbreaking creature for its life and message.

I went alone and walked into the park to find a special place.  A little squirrel guided me to this spot.  I dug a deep hole, gave my thanks and left.

 

“A bird is symbolic of perspective and freedom.  When a bird hits your window the spiritual meaning of the bird is something you need to take notice of.  Due to the fact that birds swoop up high up in the sky, it is believed that birds are God’s messengers – providing a bridge between the spiritual life and the mundane.  They can be a positive sign of great luck.  Since time immemorial, birds are in folklore symbols to many cultures.  Now, to see one single bird that approaches your window peacefully or just sits and looks inside your home – in ancient times was thought to be a sign of the spirit of your dead loved ones.  In some folklore books, a bird hitting the window can mean an angel wants you to take notice. I t could be that your angel is trying to communicate that they are around helping you, and watching over you or spiritually.  Make sure you are aware of the day – it could be an anniversary when the bird appears.  Look up the date, does this day or month mean something?  It is a lovely sign and you can use your intuition to get the right message from the bird.  The message is of a loving nature.  sparrow hitting your window represent emotions, heart healing, socializing, generosity, romance, and the power of spirit.” – auntyflo.com

I love you, Asterix.

Saudade waves.

Saudade describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves.  It often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing will never return.  It’s related to the feelings of longing, yearning.  

I have written about Saudade before.  For example: November 3, 2012 SAUDADE: THE EMOTION OF MISSING. #GRIEF

December 28, 2012 THE DARKENING CATHEDRAL: PROCESSING THE EMOTION OF MISSING

March 7, 2017 A REMINDER THAT SOMETIMES IT IS OK TO DO LESS.

November 17, 2017 PERHAPS I AM SIMPLY AN EXPLORER.  NOT SEEKING ANSWERS…

Today

I felt a tad out of sorts this afternoon, burnt out– sensing the spaces under my wings too occupied, knowing it is time to shush out those taking shelter there.  [Yep- time for new boundaries.]

My anxiety hovered trying to find a place to land.  Then a familiar intense wave of suadade washed over me.

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It is that thick-heart feeling right before a deep cry.  It is a longing to visit times past.

Pulling out old photos provided comfort and allowed gentle tears to flow.  I sat all smiling, conversing with the memories.

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Thank goodness my father loved to record family life.  And thank goodness for these massive albums and boxes of tactile images .

Homework- writer’s group: close your eyes…

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Journal entry:

If I close my eyes, what age do I go back to?

Usually I go back to age six.

But today as I close my eyes, I am 22, alone, crying, New Year’s Eve, 1984.  Though— not quite alone.  I am pregnant with Anna.  I am scared, crying, in a fetal position on the mattress on the floor.  It is midnight and I hear fireworks.  By making a choice to keep my child, I have created chaos in my family. And I am alone, in a weird room in a weird house with roommates I don’t know.

Though not quite alone.

The color yellow is prominent.

The color yellow helps activate the memory, encourage communication, enhance vision, build confidence, and stimulate the nervous system. [source]

I believed then that by being myself, I hurt people.

What I say to that 22 year old, alone but not quite alone, on the mattress in that dark room now is—

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You made the right choice.  By yourself.  You don’t need to thank anyone.  You don’t need to be indebted to anyone.  YOU made the decision.  A decision that made your mother stagger…

Trust yourself.  Somehow you survive.  The impossible is not impossible.  I’M POSSIBLE.  Inside you is the greatest gift.  A child that grows to a young woman who is deserving to live a life untethered.  

Anxiety, fear– all is survivable.  And those times you have felt done with life- you were not done but simply evolving.   You were so young, with no tools.  The child inside you will grow up to be celebrated for her decisions…  

[I want my children to be free FREE FREE FREE of guilt for living their chosen lives.]

Her grief became your guilt.  Your grief can be her release.  

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The second letter. November 5, 1968.

Why when I close my eyes and think about myself at a young age do I find myself immediately at the age of 6?  What makes me go back to that little girl?  That time?

These days I feel tears well up easily.  Not of sadness, but of fullness.  Today I walked home from the bus stop the long way via the heron nests.  I stopped, breathing in the scent of blossoms, looking up at the springtime activity as the birds were busy showing off for each other, building nests.  I was overwhelmed by the beauty of it all– my heart full, knowing that I am ready.  That tonight I would finally commit to translating mom’s letters here in this sacred space of mine, my blog.

I don’t write this blog for anyone but myself.  It is a depository.  A way to journal.  I only write it for me.  Sharing it in the ether gives me perspective.  I get a chance to step back.  To process.  So this is the place for me to translate the letters.

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Sweden before we left for Canada

It is November, 1968.

My mom is 32 , the same age my daughter is now, and she is writing letters home to her best friends in Sweden.  Newly arrived to Canada.  And I am 6.  And she is writing letters.  And I have those letters in a pile here.  I have had them since December 2013.  I have only read the first one.

Previous posts:

Package of letters to Sweden

A letter home. November 1, 1968

Dream. Letters. Thought and Memory.

Writing exercise.

From what I see, as I sift through them, is that they are positive reflections of a young mother sitting at the kitchen table, likely children in bed, or at school, scratching out a connection to her best friends back home.  So why have I left the package untouched in my bookshelf on top of my father’s drawings all this time?  Me- the person that voraciously sifts through historical documents?

What is it that makes me well up in tears as I make this commitment now to go through the letters?  What is it I am grieving?  Remembering?

That young woman at the kitchen table, writing to her best friends.  The words flowing out of her mind, onto paper, into envelope, into mailbox, over the ocean, into her friends’ hand, 45 years later back into envelope, back across the ocean, into my hands.

And so…

Mom’s first letter to her friends was written the day after we arrived in Canada (we arrived October 31, 1968).  Today’s letter was written a few days later.

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Vancouver 5/11-68

Hi!

I was so damn mad- the freezer has mould, so I have stood with my head in it all day scrubbing.  [We had that freezer until 2004].  I guess I didn’t wipe it dry properly and it has been developing mould for 5 weeks.  Now, at least, it is ship-shape.  We have now furnished and decorated the house and as usual every corner is full.  It actually turned out really well.  I am so mad at this wall-to-wall carpeting they have here.  They get dirty just by looking at them.  

If you only knew how gorgeous it is to lie on the bed and look out the bedroom window.  All the mountaintops were totally white this morning.  The restaurant [at the top of Grouse Mountain] is always all lit up.  The gondola is not far from here.  There is also  park not far from here with mysterious totems for the kids and a suspension bridge that swings too darn much.

There are quite lovely things all over the place here.  It is funny that in the house next door there is a two year old girl named Nickolina.  Fredrik’s head is spinning [our friends’ son in Sweden, also 2 at the time, is named Niklas].  Fredrik, by the way, is still saying “damn” whenever something happens.  He throws the toothbrush in the toilet every morning and looks at me and there comes the long drawn out “daaaaaaamn.”  I am not buying anymore toothbrushes until he stops that.  

The meat here is so cheap and juice of all sorts cost just a few cents per can.  Other than that, things are pretty much the same.  Please say hello to everyone at the grocery store, by the way.  I bet there is loss of revenue now that I am not shopping there for hundreds of dollars every month.  

How is Rolf doing without me?  Hope he doesn’t fall out too badly.  Roar is connecting a lamp today and is swearing as nothing fits and he is saying, “What a stupid country.”  You know how he gets when he is going to do something.  

Have any bills arrived?  Please let me know if funds are needed.  (Of course, I mean not regarding you!)  It is a long weekend here, so Roar has three days off.  I guess we will head home to [?] if you don’t invite us on Saturday?  How goes the pyramid scheme?

Do you know that we have 11 channels here to choose from every evening?  We are up to our necks with TV but I have to say there are some beautiful movies.  They run from 10 in the morning to 5-6 AM the next day.  

A response is requested within the next three years, otherwise it is too late.

Karin

PS.  Kiss the kids.  Would give a million dollars to look after them while you are at the gym.

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In Canada, early 1969

Traditional craft: handwoven treasure by “Domestic Intervention Co.”

Being Swedish, I was raised surrounded by beautiful handwoven cloths.  When I think about Sweden, I see looms.

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A personal heroine– Karin Larsson, wife/muse of Swedish artist Carl Larsson, at her loom.

Textile art is in my DNA.  My mother loved to tell me stories about my great grandmother– my name sake, Brita.  Brita raised so many children with little money.  She’d walk to town and check out the latest fashions in the store windows, then go home and weave the fabric and sew the outfits for her children.  Her kids were the only ones at their school that brought along PE strips- cleanliness and freshness always tantamount (a trait my mother inherited).  Sadly, her daughter Kristina, my grandmother, died when I was two.  But my great aunts Helma, Alma and Helga were a huge influence on my love of crafting.  I would love our visits, mesmerized by Helma’s loom in her loom room, Alma’s tapestries, Helga’s button collection.

I love the collection of threads, humble bits, woven together.  Cloth is sacred.  Humble, yet showy.

The art of the bird is to conceal its nest both as to position and as to material, but now and then it is betrayed into weaving into its structure showy and bizarre bits of this or that, which give its secret away and which seem to violate all the traditions of its kind. – John Burroughs

As we process life, whether we do it well or badly, elegantly or clumsily, our experiences weave a tapestry that colors our personality.  It’s a strong, beautiful un-anticipated, splendidly imperfect design.

Check out my weaving journal exercise:

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I keep a large basket of family heirlooms, like this runner.  Our family has shared so many meals on this woven cloth, spilled on it, used it to play, washed it over and over:

This Christmas, I was gifted a beautiful DOMESTIC INTERVENTION CO. handwoven scarf from my soul-sister, Patti Henderson.  

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I was MESMERIZED.  All my childhood memories flooding back as I held the delicate fabric.  I am in awe of this Vancouver artist and her product.  

CHECK IT OUT:

DomesticInterventionCo

Manufacturing quality yardage FOR Specialty yardage made to order all TEXTILES Designed and handwoven in VANCOUVER BC by CHammond @truckstopcutie

DOMESTIC INTERVENTION CO.  by artist TRUCKSTOPCUTIE:

Check out DOMESTIC INTERVENTION CO. on Instagram:

Aaaaaaah- a loom room!!!  DREAMY

About saying yes to life, every part of your life, and finding how to weave them all together.
― Lucy H. Pearce, The Rainbow Way: Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood

You are motherhood. You are the greatest mystery. Karin 17/09/36-08/11/08

Only do not forget, if I wake up crying it’s only because in my dream I’m a lost child hunting through the leaves of the night for your hands… – Pablo Neruda

8 years ago today, my little brother held my mother’s face and spoke sweetly, guiding my mother.  I laid my right ear on her chest and I heard her heart slow then stop. A last sigh.  Then she flew.  She became everything.

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Oh how I love you, Mamma.  I see you more and more in my face, in my body.  I welcome each sag, each wrinkle, each change in my bones.  Your fingers are my fingers (on my right hand), your laugh is mine (and the parrot’s), your worn out recipe book has butter and flour stains and smells like your kitchen.   When I hold Henrik and Vivienne, I feel you holding them as well.  You whirl around the family and your spirit and love fills the room.

I still reach for the phone to call you.  I want to talk to you about cleaners and the latest soup recipe with you.  I want to have you lie on your bed with Asterix as I sort your closet and we laugh at sweaters we have held on to.  I want to hop in the car with you and Tobey or Tina or Milton and walk for hours in the forest hunting for mushrooms.

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I want to pull out all my Molly research and discuss it with you, head to Molly’s grave and have a picnic.  I want to cook with you as the kids lounge in your bedroom watching cartoons.  I want to pull out the furniture and dust behind the couch and weed the garden as we gossip and laugh.  I want to spend full days in Fort Langley.

I no longer pursue your dreams on your behalf; I pursue mine as you truly always wanted me to do.

You feared to lose me, but you never did.

And as I become more and more myself, I become more and more your love.

Look at the legacy you created.

You are love.  You are beauty.  You are motherhood.  You are the greatest mystery.

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I need to process you.  I want to write about you.


Karin Thorsen

September 17, 1936 – November 8, 2008

 

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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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My mother’s tapestry…

Today would have been my mother’s 80th birthday.  It was joyous to celebrate her by celebrating my nephew’s 5th birthday (his official birthday is on the 19th) in my brother’s household filled with kids and mayhem, food and laughter.

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Photo by Anna Thorsen

Our growing family certainly is my mother’s tapestry- her woven threads.

We are the weavers of our own lives, in which each experience can become an important thread used by our consciousness to connect with one another… Turning to the archetypal meaning of the thread, it symbolizes the agent that links all states of being to one another… [source]

My mother often claimed that she was not artistic, that instead she was an artistic director.  She had an amazing eye for design and style.  But… despite her denials- she was artistic and crafty and influenced my love for tradition and craft.

She started the piece below in the late 60’s.  I would spend hours watching her work on it, helping her add stitches, laughing with her as she lost count, rubbing my hands over the texture, copying the images… the unfinished aspect is magical.  One of my most important treasures,  I converse with her now as I look at the instructions and smell the wool.

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Nature uses only the longest threads to weave her patterns, so that each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the entire tapestry. – Richard P. Feynman

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Her basket also contains some smaller unfinished projects.  I love this basket. LOVE.   And so happy to still have it.

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Karin Thorsen Sept 17, 1936- Nov 8, 2008

Photo by Fredrik Thorsen

Snapchat by Anna Thorsen: