“She drank alone…” Journal entry

She walks– arms crossed, cold hands tucked into armpits, chin tucked into chest. The familiar dark ink pool spreads around her feet. She bends down this time. Curious? Her reflection- just fragmented spirals. She slips! lurching upward and backward, around. The black ink fills her mouth. Hog-tied, she lets out a fluid-filled silent scream. A…

For my aunt Siv

These two women- my great aunt Helga, and my aunt Siv, had the most compassionate impact on my life. Helga- she taught me to follow my heart- MY HEART. Mine. Siv- she taught me to stay neutral and in joy and embrace children as fully formed human beings to be celebrated, not moulded. I remember…

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

Decades are significant. 60 years ago my mother became a mother. 50 years ago we moved to Canada from Sweden. 50 years ago, my mother started to write letters home to Sweden.     30 years ago, my mother’s second grandchild was born. 10 years ago, I had my ear to my mother’s chest and listened as…

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: 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…

Mamma- a portrait.

“If You Forget Me” I want you to know one thing. You know how this is: if I look at the crystal moon, at the red branch of the slow autumn at my window, if I touch near the fire the impalpable ash or the wrinkled body of the log, everything carries me to you,…

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…

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…

Why do I keep the journals?  Is there any value in the pain contained within?

Why have I kept all my journals/sketchbooks? Yes- they are filled with sprinklings of magical memories about raising children- that is definitely the best part.  But they are also filled with extraordinary pain, confusion, stupidity… I pull out an old journal from 1991, and sit and smile and laugh as I find little scrawls about…

Perhaps I am simply an explorer.  Not seeking answers…

I sit on the 23, heading home… leaning my head against the window.  The bus is full.  It’s damp outside and damp inside.  I have a seat, a warm seat on the left side- I always get a seat as I always get on at the first stop.  No need to anticipate and worry about…

Until we meet again… dropping off Asterix 

Letting go In order to hold on I gradually understand How poems are made… – Alice Walker   Recall September 24, 2017: Well, I did it.   Finally.  It was time for Asterix’s cremation. I pulled my parrot out of the freezer this morning and placed his wrapped body (decorated with a drawing by my…

Good night, Asterix.

I have been very aware of late that my parrot is aging.  The lifespan for domestic African Greys is about 28-32 years, whereas in the wild they live to about 60. I have always thought Asterix was born May 19, 1989.  That has always been my story, but it may have been earlier?  My memory…

You are motherhood. You are the greatest mystery.

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 Journal entry November 8, 2016: 8 years ago today, my little brother held my mother’s face and spoke sweetly, guiding my mother.  I laid my…

A reminder that sometimes it is OK to do less.

I have been slow all day– I am trying to allow myself time to stop without guilt, to allow this feeling of weariness, this reminder that sometimes it is OK to do less. What is this weariness?  Yes, I am recouping from a flu and yes, I have many multiple projects going at once, yes…

A mother’s eulogy by Beverley Pomeroy

by Beverley Pomeroy (posted with permission from author) Well, it’s a difficult thing to have to write a eulogy for your child.  Where do you start?  How do you end?  How can you possibly sum up your beautiful child’s life in 8 minutes? Do you get up and read it yourself…or do you get someone…

Slithering pancreatic serpent. #griefprocess

In November 2007, Dr. Ebrahim sat knee to knee with my mother.  I was on the other side of the little examination room.  I recall it was a sunny day.  I think it was.  Grouse Mountain shone in the background.  I think it did.  The room seemed turquoise.  Friendly.   We found a mass in…

Here’s to us crawling to the finish line…

Touch me life.  Not softly. – Maya Angelou And my GOD, life has touched us this year. Here’s to us crawling to the finish line, scraped, bruised, hoping.  Here’s to our successes and our fucking failures, to finally resting and to re-entering labour. Here’s to the vigil keepers, the rent seekers, to the quiet and the loud…

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…

“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.   Our gift to you: Free PDF version of DRAWN TOGETHER, THE BOOK by Roar and Kat Thorsen! LINK

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. Life/ death.  The extremes? Or two sides of the same coin or exactly the same?  For…

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

Today you are a newborn and you are starting fresh! Draw a baby. Draw brainstorm bubbles above “your “head. Write about what it may be like to start fresh.  Releasing anxiety and hesitancy. Brainstorm central themes in your life.  Just let it happen. Be willing to be a beginner every single morning. – Meister Eckhart…

SOME PORTRAITS OF GRIEF.

For me, it is impossible to quantify grief.  To qualify it.  To define it.  It comes as a surprise. It comes as a wave.  It comes suddenly.  Or it comes on slow.  It can feel like nostalgia, anger, sadness, gratitude, drowning.  It can be triggered.  It can be low grade.  It can be reassuring.  It can…

In place of death there was light.

I am preparing myself to draw my mother’s “death mask” from the photo my son took after she passed on November 8, 2008. I have been preparing for awhile. I know the process will be an important and necessary one for me personally.  I think about it often.  It’s not about needing to work on something…

I thought my achy body was grief but perhaps it is birth.

Journal entry December 26, 2015 The surprise Christmas release by LCD Soundsystem epitomizes my achy-boned, sentimental, full of love and nostalgia, time to transition Christmas. I both celebrate and honor and am in awe that this was the first Christmas without both my kids in the same room or even the same town. I want to…

A letter to my father, 3 years later, at our favorite table.

Dear Pappa, Sitting at our table at Lions Gate Hospital Cafeteria. — Three years later now… you died on October 25.  How can this be real?  You and Mamma seemingly immortal.  Yet- — I would love to break down- my heart feels too big for my chest cavity.  I want to curl inward. There was…

When grief is like a wave crashing on shore…

I attended an event last night at the Vancouver Public Library. I am so glad I went alone, for not only could I soak in the event itself (as I am passionate about this case), but I could really sit in my personal grief. This was the room I sat in with my Mom as…

Self-imposed exile- let it go, let it go.o

Curled up in my chair in self-imposed exile.  Wrapped in old knits. Loving less interaction. Loving not working on my to-do’s. Happy to be doing less. Should I worry and fret?  Feel guilty? No.  Nah. Let it go. Let it all go. So fatigued- let it go. Heavy grief dreams these days- let them go. Dreamt about…

I know in my heart though, this is healthy grieving. I am processing.

I dreamt of my parents last night. On awakening, I was drenched in that deep sweat of walking through symbolic dream time. My mother passed away November 8, 2008 and my father October 25, 2012, but in this dream my mother was still alive as Dad was nearing death. I was in my parents’ home…

Contemplating death, loss, hope, acceptance…

Release Leap of faith Acceptance Peace Honorary Karin Roar Life rough on the seas Sacrifice Mother father daughter love Death Release Hope Promise Defence Loss Rose Thorn Thorsen Memorial Cycle Allowance Honor New beginnings Immortal Bud Blossom Farewell Dedicated to my mother Karin September 17, 1936 – November 8, 2008 and my father Roar August…

Grief hits me when I least suspect it, with a solitary evening walk…

All of a sudden, all I want to do is organize mom’s closet, as she lies on the bed and chats with me, the parrot cuddling her hand, Tobey on the floor below, with Grey Gardens on in the background. Grief hits me when I least suspect it, with a solitary evening walk, letting the dog…

Sunday morning visit with my mother.

It’s Sunday morning. I’ve been up awhile. Dog is walked. Pot of coffee almost gone. Parrot loud. Rest of the household asleep. Making pancakes. On Sundays, with Corrie on in the background, I make pancakes and visit with my mom. She’s there with me and we can talk freely about all the wonderful trivial things…

I thought I was holding on to this ONE life I knew. #journal

I thought I was holding on to this ONE life I knew. My heart feeling the weight of  having died a thousand deaths. I thought I was the tree, whose roots dug so deep, So deep that it was surely invincible. I thought I was the tree that houses the egg, the chick. Providing a…

Losing heart… Fix or accept?

So— things haven’t gone as planned.  It’s not working out as I hoped.  My mom’s shattered dove and pot above tell the story.  When they broke, I cried.  I cried yesterday— alot. Broken-heartened, dis-heartened… But I found myself surrounded by love and support from my kids (Anna and Julian) and together we dug deep into our…

I could hear her heart stop.

I could hear her heart slow then stop. Then she flew. She flew straight down to San Francisco. She flew straight to her mother and aunts. She became everything.

Saying goodbye to the life of Riley.

Riley aka Mr. O’Riley 1998-2014 My beautiful cat, Riley, passed away peacefully on January 1, 2014.  He wound down slowly all last year and passed away surrounded by love and his favorite people.   He loved the outdoors, so we placed him in the earth in a beautiful spot.  [Special thank you to Darcy for…

The darkness is not always there. But the mask slips at times. #journal

I’ve been trying to write a post for days.  And those that know me know that it’s unusual for me to have to pause in the process.  But I have become stuck. There’s a pain in the chest that reminds me to pay attention, to try to figure it out.  My journal- usually filled with…

A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.

Weighted and achy heart today on Mother’s Day.  Missing Mom is an expected constant in my life.  But I am so blessed to have been loved so completely by her.  The pain now is, therefore, beautiful. Revisiting some favorite photographs. A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for…

“Leaving behind in autumn’s advent…” My father’s last tax filings.

I filed my father’s taxes and submitted his will.  All is done.  All is wrapped up regarding both my mother and father’s paperwork.  How very strange. There was no probate as my father died with no savings, no life insurance, no assets… but I am left massively rich, with a full heart and peaceful soul.  Their…

My parents’ skeletonized forms… #Journal ramblings on the seabus…

  March 4, 2013 I cannot help but see my parents’ skeletonized forms.  It does not scare me.  It fascinates.  I am hyperly aware of Dad’s skeletal hands holding a pen.  Mom’s sunken crevices in her skull as she applies makeup.  It’s not grotesque.  There is still the vibrant flesh of life covering, but it…

The umbilical cord. Mother-daughter journal series. PART 3: Because you are only a seed

AS I MOVE FORWARD INTO NEW CHAPTERS IN MY LIFE, I HAVE DECIDED THAT IT IS TIME TO FOCUS FULLY ON ME. (Hello, me!)  IT IS FINALLY TIME TO PROCESS MY RELATIONSHIP WITH MY MOTHER AND ALL THE DELICIOUS, SCARY, INTERESTING, HEART-WARMING, DEEEEEEEEP EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENTS, BLOCKAGES, PATTERNS ETC. THAT COME UP. FULLY READY.  EXCITED. —…

The umbilical cord. Mother-daughter journal series. PART 2: IDENTIFY THE FIRST MILESTONE

AS I MOVE FORWARD INTO NEW CHAPTERS IN MY LIFE, I HAVE DECIDED THAT IT IS TIME TO FOCUS FULLY ON ME. (Hello, me!)  IT IS FINALLY TIME TO PROCESS MY RELATIONSHIP WITH MY MOTHER AND ALL THE DELICIOUS, SCARY, INTERESTING, HEART-WARMING, DEEEEEEEEP EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENTS, BLOCKAGES, PATTERNS ETC. THAT COME UP. FULLY READY.  EXCITED. THE…

The darkening cathedral: processing the emotion of missing. #grief #saudade #journalexercise

I feel myself intertwined in the confusion of grief again.  It’s caught up to me and it wants to attach itself to my muddled brain as I try to sift and mindmap my next steps and make necessary changes to achieve emotional and financial balance in my life.  So as I am prone to do,…

Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens. #journalexercise

What does heaven mean to you?  Write it out.  Find a song that reflects your words.  Play it over and over again until you are done writing. I miss my Mom. I miss my Dad.  Just the simple every day.  Watching Dad light his pipe.  Eating Mom’s food.  Making a fresh pot of coffee to…

These days when I dream of Dad, he is walking. #drawntogether #fatherdaughter

These days when I dream of Dad, he is walking. I also feel peaceful and protected.  It feels very much like: I find myself mesmerized when I drive by sites of beauty and sentimentality.  Yesterday afternoon, the trees glistened in the sun as I drove west on Hastings in Burnaby.  Wet with raindrops, they were…

I miss the mundane to-do lists from my Dad. I miss the supply run. The putter of routine.

From Drawn Together: My every-second-day visits are full and busy.  Fold the laundry, pack the clean cutlery and Tupperware into the cart, add the clean laundry to the pile, shove in the old envelopes, check if Roar needs any printouts, pack up the car with the dog and computer and journal and purse and sock…

Saudade: the emotion of missing. #grief

Saudade is a unique Portuguese word that has no immediate translation in English.  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.   Saudade is the…

Change. What does it mean to you? #journalexercise

Change.  What does it mean to you? Write it out.  Collect images that reflect your thoughts. Journal: Sometimes I long for stability and sameness.  Change is the constant though.  I have learned to not fight it, learned to embrace it, and go in the direction that feels right in the heart and in the mind….

A pencil box. Regarded with reverence.

UPDATE!  OUR BOOK IS READY! Go to: DRAWN TOGETHER — 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…

Dad’s last day. #livinguntilwesaygoodbye

In keeping with Dad’s wishes, I documented our last day together. I came up early in the morning yesterday and spent some hours by myself with Dad before the rest of the family arrived for our daily vigil. I set up the space  I had an intense need to offer some kind of guidance for…

Dad’s inner work… leaving one’s ‘self’ to enter nakedly with no agenda. #livinguntilwesaygoodbye

Dad is working.  I can tell.  Deep internal work.  Letting go of his physical body.   I haven’t seen his eyes today. They remain closed as he concentrates.  His color good.  He’s a strong motherfucker. We, the family, continue to putter around. Simply being a loving presence near the person, holding their hand, sending loving…

We’ve become a band of gypsies. #livinguntilwesaygoodbye

VIGIL: a purposeful watch maintained, esp at night, to guard, observe, pray, etc. Recall: Document it.  All of it. We remain at Dad’s bedside.  Today was a peaceful day for him.  His medication was increased so he is not in as much pain as yesterday.  Only when he is moved.  Other than that, he sleeps soundly…

… the proper sorrows of the soul. #grief #journal

There is a sanity to grief… given to all, [grief] is a generative and human thing…it acts to preserve the self. – Kay Jamison Absolutely drenched.  Wrenched.  And drenched.  I spent the full day with Dad today after his morning procedure when I “could” have been home finishing our manuscript and “should” have been trying…

JOURNAL: process out the stickiness

Working on the book, I find myself falling into expected dips of low energy.  Stickiness.  I ride the waves of excitement and melancholy.  I remind myself that it’s ok to take a break and to journal out those moments that feel heavy.     You don’t lose her all at once; you lose her in…

Books as life rafts.

For fun, I just did the Holmes and Rahe Stress Test and my result was: You have a high or very high risk of becoming ill in the near future.  Duh.  Doh.  Funsies.  How do I deal with stress?  Acknowledge it.  Use books. I was just digging through my book pile and I realize there are certain…

Desperately seeking Karin… #journal #grief #arttherapy

As I work on the book with Dad, I am drenched in memories and find myself obsessively looking at photos of my mother.  She’s around 20 in the photos and just starting her adult life. I am loving it, but it’s also overwhelming.  Knowing the path that lies ahead of her… Last night I walked…

Anxiety from anticipating/processing loss requires pulling out the tool kit. #journaling

I’m working on a book with Dad and it’s a beautiful process.  It’s about maintaining connections through art and with art. But as Dad goes through his past, and I take dictation and notes… … I am filled with nostalgia for a life passed, I am filled with the heaviness of missing my mom. I…

Mnemosyne : Greek Goddess of Memory and Mother of the Muses. Love letter to my mom.

A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.  ~Tenneva Jordan

Weekly artist series: Week 9 Part 2 SUE COE: A mother dying

Week 9 Part 2 Sue Coe The Last 11 Days is a group of charcoal drawings Sue Coe created from July 20 to 31, 1995 depicting her mother as she lay dying with cancer. The drawings reveal Coe’s private struggle with her mother’s illness and eventual death. [source] I’m not a big fan of the word “resonate.”…

Weekly artist series: Week 5 Part 4 of 4 STORYTELLING #FaithRinggold #arttherapy “She flew straight to San Francisco”

Week 5 Part 4 FAITH RINGGOLD As we have explored Faith’s art, we see it is one of STORYTELLING. Take a moment from your life.  Using a full page in your journal and simply an HB pencil, tell the story. See also: 35 PART daily journal exercise Weekly artist exploration/journaling series INTRO Weekly artist exploration/journaling…

Part 32 of 35 daily journal workshop. GRIEF. #arttherapy

LOSS.  What does that mean to you?  Are you scared of it?  Is the fear of losing someone or something preventing you from living now?  Have you experienced such profound loss that grief overwhelms you, and indeed, now shapes you? Write it out.  Or draw it out. There are no easy answers.  There is just…

Woman-Artist-Pain-Power. The #FridaKahlo series.

Frida Kahlo is an icon and muse that I return to again and again.  I am infused by Frida and I consider myself a Kahloist.  She epitomizes the artist and woman in pain.  As I was going through my divorce, I was driven to draw Frida as a child.  The medium I chose (or it…