Would I let me?

March 20, 2021

If I was to put my head down here awhile and cry, would you sit quiet and just let me? If I was to tell you that my back hurts and my elbows are painful – would you just sit quiet and not offer any exercise or supplement advice? If I tell you my stomach hurts, my intestines sting, my bladder is overactive – would you just listen and not lecture me on what I am doing wrong, what I should be doing, what I should be checking? If I tell you I just feel depressed and weighted – would you nod, keep sewing your quilt and just allow me to express it – give no advice, just be? Not tell me to go to the doctor – because you understand that my body has been through some things that has made any doctor’s visit make me feel ill, embarrassed? Would you not ask why again, and just hold that? Would you just say amazing if I were to share that I am letting my body just age as it does, that I accept that it is entering the last third? The last quarter? 

Would you accept that I just feel low sometimes – and that’s OK? Would you let me complain and whine and just pour me another cup and just go back to threading your needle with that new colour? Would you listen in silence as I rant about being battered down by work, not because it is over-busy but because I feel uninspired and can’t focus? Would you allow me to mix my metaphors? Listen as I whine about feeling like my optic nerves have clamps on them when I stare at the work laptop and that I feel like I need to put a lid on the myself constantly? Like I am not fully me? But that there are tiny glimpses of radiant light that keep me going? Would you allow me to complain without reminding me to be grateful? Would you allow me to pout?

To despair that my energy for my project is low? That I fear I can’t write, I can’t draw and that I am irrelevant?

Would you put your sewing down for a second and reach out and pat my hand, and smile with silent acceptance? Bring me shortbread and check that my coffee is hot? Look around the apartment and smile – knowing all is well. You don’t need to remind me of that because you know I already know this and that ranting is OK. That I just need to without judgment, without advice, without making me feel like me aging, me aching, that if I got sick would be all my fault – that I would make everyone else feel bad as a result? 

You would just let me rant until I lay my head down again and cried – and you wouldn’t try to fix – just let me cry. Knowing I don’t owe you, or you, or you, or you, or you, or you, or even me, anything. Nothing. I can be expanding, decaying, aching, despairing as much as I need to. It doesn’t matter. None of it does. You would just keep sewing. A gentle smile on your face. Look out and smile at the cairn terrier walking in the lane. At the geese honking on the roof top. At the cat walking across the road, at the raccoon scuttling, avoiding the crows. At the blossoms. The wind. And I would just blubber till I’m done. Done. And we’d both quietly sew, with achy fingers. In gratitude.

 

Journal entry December 1, 2020: I Can’t Write Right

When I can’t write, when I don’t feel right, I feel the black ink of angst/depression well up in my brain. And I pace around and around in there, first splashing in the black ink, then wading in it, then swimming, then oh oh – am I drowning?

Ok, ok. Slow down. Use the ink. Practice what you preach, and pull out the journal. Writing is simply mark making. Make some marks tonight. That’s enough. Quiet the brain.

(Ink, water-colour and coffee doodle inspired by young Princess Margaret in The Crown.)

Any story we write or picture we make cannot demonstrate its worth until we write or draw it. The physical act of writing or drawing is what brings the inspiration about. Worrying about its worth and value to others before it exists can keep us immobilized forever. – Lynda Barry

“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 violent blow to the back of her head.

The angel sings

Do I hear 21, 21, 21…

I’ll give you 21, 21, 21…

Lub dub, lub dub, lub dub.

She floats now… in a soft pool of light, enclosed in a red tomb, bathed in an oxygenated salted sea,

Lub dub, lub dub, lub dub.

A shadow moves across the the field.

She inserts her thumb into her mouth and sleeps.

For Kajsa

 

Dear Camille, I regret…

Dear Camille,

Today is your birthday.

I open my journal to share something with you.

We met in dance class at university in 1983.

We found our way to each through dance, through arts and crafts, through books, through pie.  And through letters.

We intertwined our bodies in the studio and on stage.

I regret we could not express our queerness and ace-ness in the eighties.

We were trying to fit into a heteronormative world.  We had no role models.

We both clumsily lost ourselves and eventually each other.

I regret that I was not mature enough to be fully open with you.

I regret we lost touch as I was caring for my parents and going through hardships.

You died by suicide in 2007.

I regret I could not care for you when you were ill.

Thank you to artist María Hesse, whose art I am deeply inspired by.  By interpreting and altering her work in my journals, I am able to process anxiety and depression.

“I think copying someone’s work is the fastest way to learn.” – Lynda Barry

Admit it- you crave simplicity.

September 30, 2018

Dear Me,

I am writing you this as I sense you need a reminder.

I am writing to remind you that it is OK embrace what you are realizing right now: that the older you get, the more you will recoil from complexity.

It appears that when you face complex chaos,  the fatigue and anxiety that arises is because you are growing up, and that all the complexities and life markers and chapter changes you have experienced to date have helped you develop a better filter.  That is pretty amazing.

Maybe think of it this way- when fatigue and anxiety arises, it is a warning sign.  A sign to say to yourself, STOP.

IT IS OK TO STOP.

Admit it– you crave simplicity.

I have noticed lately that you are daring to take a moment (or many), that you dare to pause.  I have noticed that you need to speak your truth, and that you are trying your best to do that and that you are trying your best to establish clear boundaries.

I remind you it is ok to fail, it is ok to not to buy into other people’s drama, it is ok to pause before saying yes, and it is ok to put yourself first.

And if you find yourself feeling guilty for needing to rest, for declining invites, for taking your time etc., I remind you that- YOU HAVE EARNED THE RIGHT TO NOT FEEL GUILTY.  

Remember that page in your graphic novel where somehow you keep working on your passion project, year after year?

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Not despite of it.  Because of it.

But now, my sweet, let’s forget about all that chaos for a moment.  For you to be able to enter fully into the new chapter that is unfolding, you need a clear head.  You need to be smart.  You need to keep craving that simplicity.

You need to remember that you, my darling, are FREE.

Let’s face it– you have been of this universe for eons, made up of recycled, reprocessed, realigned  bits.  You have been of this particular flesh bag of yours for 56+ years.  From birth, you have been (and continue to be) a lovely, caring, humble, bitchy, strange little creative troll.  And holy shit- somehow you are still here.  You were formed in Mamma’s womb.  And I sense that when your time is up- in your current form- your last word  (probably inaudible, probably on that last breath) will be: Mamma.  

How simple is that?

So embrace simplicity.  What can you do less of today?  Hold the concept in your heart.

Go ahead now.  Pull an angel card- let me know what it says.

Love, Me

The angel card is blank.  <3

If you can, take a day or two to just simply be, contemplate, relax, and take a break from the “doings” of your life.The Power Path September 2018 Forecast

I can feel the planet churning…

And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul. – John Muir

When I am in the forest in Stanley Park, and sit down on the forest floor, I am acutely aware that I am on a sphere.  In fact, I swear that I can feel the planet churning.  I place my hand on the ground- it rumbles.

I even seem to hear the planet turn over the sounds of traffic.

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… your breath is locked forever in my ears where once the name was whispered, and I defy eternity to take from me what is mine! – Gwendolyn MacEwen

Push it. examine all things intensely and relentlessly.
― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

 

Allow nature’s peace to flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. – John Muir

Guilty of intent.

One word… come on, Thorsen— just one word…

If I am to continue to commit to this artist life, answer to my gift, I must at least scratch out one word a day… just one word.

Maybe it is this long winter, or old age, or plain old fatigue from getting up at 5 every day, or maybe it is the rubber band pulling back, preparing for something big…

Maybe it’s not the season of output, but the season of preparing.

But alas my journals have been neglected except for some tired one word chicken scratches.  But I shan’t despair.  Even if I don’t do any journaling every day, I must at least intend to write—

If I carry the book with me, at least I can be guilty of intent.  Mens Rea.

So—

No matter where the journal is— on the table—

On the tub edge—

Or in the shelf in these somewhere— at least the intent is there.

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Input –> process –> output –> rest –> intention –> input –> process –> output –> rest –> intention…

 

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 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 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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Of being age 21 at age 54. Being a menopausal millennial. Journal musings.

Have you ever sat so fully in the moment, teetering on a sharp blade, fully aware of being so profoundly present- wondering if you are living a parallel storyline or path not predicted, not destined, but accidentally claimed?

The world is chaotic and painful, glorious and terrifying, and large- yet each of us spin around our own heart centres- trying to figure ourselves out and how we fit into this play.  I find myself, sitting here, wondering, feeling, not fitting in, not identifying with my age group.  I chew on and ponder aging, imagination, freedom- on being age 21 at age 54.  Being a menopausal millennial.  

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Serendipitously, my daughter recommended the following podcast as she exclaimed, “Mom- this is so YOU!”

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And it is weird.  Now that my kids are grown and parents have passed, I find that I am back to age 21, starting fresh.  21 was the fork in the road and I made a decision, took a direction that was terrifying and glorious and took me through the blood and guts of life with intense responsibilities that didn’t allow me to experience the twenties years of exploring and trying independence.

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Being 21 at 54.

This is not about anti-aging or mourning the young body- oh god know- no, no, not these achy bones and sagging skin that I love- haha… I am definitely physically middle-aged!  Menopause demands humor.  And creates a character in the mirror that you recognize- not as yourself but as your parents.

No, this is about emotionally, lifestyle-y, identifying more as a millenial than as an Oprah-loving woman in her mid 50’s.  I am a menopausal millennial.  

Living as a creative as if there is no other choice… Shedding self-imposed guilt.  I am new- new to this independence, new to choice.  No longer the rock and the glue trying to hold it together.  My metaphoric skin is shed and I am feeling anew.  Drinking out of vintage cups.  Intertwined in the past, present and future.

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So yes, I feel as if I am a twenty something.  With a science degree and post secondary up the yin yang.  No benefits.  No dental.  No car.  Not owning.  Living day to day.  Hand to mouth.  Nose in book.  Always online.  Collecting.  Inspecting.  Investigating.  Inquiring.  Demanding to live creatively.  Exploring new possibilities.  Laughing too loudly.  Moving too fast.  Thinking outside the box.  Living DIY.   Sharing process.  Living with hope, with anxiety, with the UP, the DOWN, the sideways, the prickling joy of why not, invisibly oriented, demanding freedom, demanding identity, a survivor, scarred, alive with possibilities and choice.  DARING.  And now very very hopeful.

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I’ve lived out my melancholy youth.  I don’t give a fuck anymore what’s behind me, or what’s ahead of me.  I’m healthy.  Incurably healthy.  No sorrows, no regrets.  No past, no future.  The present is enough for me.  Day by day.  Today! ― Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer

Related:

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Write for 10 minutes without stopping. #journalexercise

I feel tired, excited, more peaceful- but tired and worn.  I am indeed— worn out.  Maybe it’s muscle memory.  Anniversary grief catching up.  This time last year- JEEEEZUS.

Accepting, surrendering, packing, moving, bankruptcy, no money.  That week with no home.  The incredible support from family and friends.

“You need  to finish your book here,” the caretaker Bill said, as we applied for this apartment.  I recall that sense of trust that infused my heart.  That knowledge that Molly was leading the way.  How else to explain the unique way we landed at Chilco and Nelson?

Tobey has slowed down so much since last summer.  We don’t walk around the lagoon like we used to.  But yet I am attached to the park more than ever.  Its mysteries.  Its seasons.  The life evolving, repeating.

It’s been about Molly for so many years.  12 years almost.  And so life is evolving, altering its course to allow me to step fully into it.

To be the artist I need to be to finish it.

To be the artist I need to be to finish Matthew’s project.

To teach youth (on my terms now).

To facilitate (on my terms now).

To be the mom I need to be.

To be the aunt I need to be.

1o minutes.  Just rambling.  The pen moves across the paper from left to right.  Rides along the creative process.  Attaches.  Moves through.

I am very aware of my excitement, overwhelmingness, embarrassment, vulnerableness as I place myself “out there.”  As I submit proposals that ask for $ that I finally BELIEVE reflects my value.  It is exciting to submit.  Not terrifying.  Right?

The angst is excitement.  Positive churning.

It need not happen— the idea.  The proposal.  It will be what it is.

Such a difficult, beautiful, invigorating year.  Cleansing.  However long it has taken me, I have always taken the opportunities and certainly tried to problem solve.  To figure it out.  To survive.  Kudos.

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As I walked the labyrinth, I repeated the mantra: the question is…

Journal entry- at Xenia Retreat Centre inside the Sanctuary after walking the labyrinth on December 29, 2014 [unedited]

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@ Xenia with Laura.  What a treat!  Thank you!

She picked me up at 7:10 –> Ferry –> breakfast at Snug Cafe.

My hands now cold, limbs frozen, toes frozen, numb and painful.  Reminds of being on the lake in Sweden during Winter 1975 and 1976- skating and skiing with Pappa and Fredrik, toes painful and frozen.  

“Ta av skorna.  Försök att få blod tillbaka i tårna.  Vicka på tårna.  Fortfarande kalla.”

So what happened today?   This book/diary/sketchbook/journal was begun when I started my Connection and Creativity collaboration with Laura.  Now I am back in the sanctuary and ask the question… yes, I can profess, investigate, reflect, beg, recall, invite the question: 

What is the question?

As I walked the labyrinth, I repeated the mantra in Swedish: Frågan är… Frågan är… The question is…  The question is…

And what immediately came up- despite thoughts of “shoulding” around 2015 plans/ where I am now/ what I need to let go of- what came to me was family.  The question is family.  

I knew going into the labyrinth I did not need to dig further.  It felt like the labyrinth was tilted downward.  Angled in descent.  I was walking down hill.

I became hyperly aware of the Viking symbology.  As I stood at the centre in silence, eyes closed… the answer came: roots.  The answer is roots.  

As I exited the centre. I walked out with a new mantra: the answer is roots.  Roots.  Sweden.  Life.  Leaves.  Trees.  Mushrooms.  Torpet.  Fishing.  Ancestors.  Sweden.  Africa.  Family tree.  Upward.  Downward.  

As I worked my way out, the labyrinth now seemed angled in ascent.  

So entering into the roots, exiting into the branches of the family tree.  

Where do we come from?  Where are we going?

BRANCHES: PAST FUTURE

TRUNK: PRESENT

BRANCHES: PAST FUTURE

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I want to keep the past alive for the generations to come.  Our DNA journey.

I know now I need to translate all the letters my mom wrote to Sweden.  I need to read Moberg’s The Last Letter Home.  I need to connect/open space to visit Sweden and Africa with my children.  To fully sit in BC, where my kids were born, where my parents died.  To open to reconnection.  New connection to extended family.  Can the difficult conversations be helped along through a gentle delicious family exploration? 

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1976 conversation at the kitchen table in Sweden w my bestie Anki! I now have this table.

 

In a wonderful turn of events, my little brother invited me to work on our storage room on December 31.  He had already done a lot of the prep and we spent 12 hours together emptying locker 1022.  He then dragged my 400 sketchbook journals, dolls, kids clothes, memorabilia home to my West End apartment.  It is time to re-explore those roots.

Old pen and ink study (Dec 2000) of "Death comes to the monk" from Holbein the Younger 1538. I brought home approx 400 of my "image idea files" (I.e. Sketchbook/journals) and planning to share highlights on the blog throughout the year. An incredible purge and feels so good to have them all in my studio-bedroom now. Letting go of a lot of stuff as we emptied the storage room on the last day of the year was exhilarating.
Old pen and ink study (Dec 2000) of “Death comes to the monk” from Holbein the Younger 1538. I brought home approx 400 of my “image idea files” (I.e. Sketchbook/journals) and planning to share highlights on the blog throughout the year. An incredible purge and feels so good to have them all in my studio-bedroom now. Letting go of a lot of stuff as we emptied the storage room on the last day of the year was exhilarating.

 

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 safe place in which to grow,

and from which to leave.

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I thought my role was to grow deep roots,

and multiple branches,

and rich green leaves.

I thought I felt the a pain of my roots being cut,

my body toppled.

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But I have died a thousand deaths.

And I know now that I am one of the birds.

And as the roots are cut, and the tree is toppled,

My leaves turn to wings,

the wings of thousands of birds.

And I fly.

I fly.

– Katarina Thorsen

Frida Angel