Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"You've obviously mistaken me for someone who cares."


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...or "this girl knows how to party"...


Thank you for all your nice comments on my last post. C. is better. After five agonizing days in bed. And a ride in the ambulance to actually get to see the doc and find out he's got a slipped disc. He is taking a bunch of allopathic medicine, and while it's working wonders, we are looking into alternative solutions too. The doc himself pointed out that the meds were just a means to an end, to get him moving enough for his spine to readjust.
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He's gonna be alright. No surgery. No MRI's. (Hopefully.) Just some pills and stretching. And a slightly terrifying insight into old age.
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I realized too, after my last few posts, that I bitch a little much about summer around here. Summer is an intense time. Intensely busy. Intensely social. Intensely bright. Intensely lived.

As an introvert, it's only natural that it wears on me. In the summer, I hold my cards close to my chest. I keep more secrets then ever. I go on hideout walks and sneak into empty parking lots after work to have five minutes of quiet time with an ice cream cone and a copy of The Nation. No really, this is actually what I do for fun.
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Each year I feel like I get better at dealing with being me. Being myself regardless of circumstances. Making the most how I want to be in the world.
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This forced "vacation" around C.'s illness has afforded me some valuable insights, into how to cope with summer stress.  Call them my summer resolutions, if you will, and remind me of them, next spring, lest I forget.
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1) It's important that we take a brake. And that C. and I spend some serious time together (even if it's laying in bed together watching Planet Earth and eating popcorn because one of us is too sick to be left alone).

2) I'm happier when I spend my social time with people who's company I genuinely enjoy, feel stimulated by, can tell my mind is expanding, even if it's sloshing around in some alcohol.

3) The creative things I do, are not only sacred, but actually keep me sort of sane. I need to make time for them.

4) That I be present, pay attention to where I am right now. To stop dreaming of fall and fall into the last month of summer headfirst.
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This isn't just sound self-advice for summer, it's sound advice for life.
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Because at my worst I'm often learning the most, gathering skills that'll come in handy in easier times as well.
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So even with harvest season on hand, I'm inside, making zines and experimenting with leather and writing weird short stories until the wee hours. But just for tonight.
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I'm rejoicing in the insanity of fresh food abundance, experimenting with recipes and making weird preserves, not fretting over how much there is to do, still, after a long day of making and doing.
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I'll go to parties, to dinner, to brunch, because often do I end up having a ton of fun and I can always go home. I feel like I have so much more fun doing social things, the summer things, when I give up my social anxieties and just do what I want, whether it be partying all night, or going home at nine.
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Because, and I would do well to remember this more often, I'm not a self-contained organism, but part of a pack, a whole species of yammering, laughing beings.
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So I'll make an effort to hang out with friends and talk about making, DIY, work, money, ideas, question things.
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Make the most of it. All of it.
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Make crazy big plans and tiny resolutions.
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And once C. can walk again, we'll continue to take our post-dinner stroll to the beach.
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We may return with more meaty posts soon. In the meantime:

How's your summer life, your social anxiety, your sense of self, your and your family's health? Because you weren't mistaken, after all; I do care.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Boats And Birds

Mercury in retrograde was shockingly gentle on our family. Hardly anything broke. Hardly any misunderstandings happened. Hardly anything was lost. The opposite actually. Things fixed, relationships cleared up, of old confusions sorted out, things found, among them my wedding ring that's been missing for six months!

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However, it doesn't take much to derail our best laid plans during summer's wear and tear. On Wednesday, C. hurt his back really bad and hasn't been able to get out of bed since then (or turn on his side for that matter), all the while I'm supposed to be busting my butt to make most of the summer's money flowing in.
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I was in the middle of a mess of writing, working on my shop, doing preserves. I felt defeated. This too? Now what? WTF? We'd been on a good run, things coming in, working out, appearing out of nowhere when needed, if only on their own momentum and faith. 
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(A stranded baby seal. They get so tired they have to come onto the beach to nap. If you ever see a seal pup on the beach, stay away, call Marine Mammal Strandation folks. Don't go pet its head 'k?)
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I felt like sitting down on the floor like a kid and crying.

Thoughts running through my head, like so many fluttering, panicky birds. "I need a vacation. I need a break. I can't do this."
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Instead I got on the phone. I called friends, neighbors, I called C.'s mom. Amelia worked a day for me, my mother-in-law came to watch over C. so that I could go do stuff, a friend picked her up from the ferry, brought necessities and plums and pickles, another friend made a house call for massage.

I don't usually ask for much, I like to be strong and self-sufficient, I don't expected others to bear my burdens. But when absolutely necessary it's a great comfort to be carried and supported.
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I still need a vacation. I still need a break. But in the meantime, I do my breathing exercises. I paddle around the bay for a few minutes every once in a while. Or pretend that my photo shoots are actually nature walks. Or make fancy meals to avoid doing tedious chores.
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Summers go fast. They simmer over and fizzle out. In some ways our lives here resemble nature's frantic cycle.
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And when they're over, we'll miss them. But what I wouldn't give right now for some cool autumn air.

Happy High Summer!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

"And then you realize that you have all this space..."

...was what Amelia had to say about tattoos. And she's got a point. I still gotta complete my moon-phases-project on my arms, but already I'm planning for other, greater and crazier tattoo projects. And this time, my ideas are definitely a lot more laissez-fair than ever before.
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There's some animal tattoos I'd like to get on my back, a plant tattoo for around my arm and maybe some more words opposite the ones I got last time. So many people ask about it and while I've kind of developed a stock answer the inevitable question "What does it mean?". And while Brigit's original idea for another seven words would kind of be in perfect symmetry, I think I'm gonna leave "I like big butts and I cannot lie." for someone who can truly pull it off.

However, I have actually been considering "Despise rules and see through fools.".  It pretty much sums up my life philosophy, such as it is, pretty well. 
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Other potentials are some quotes from Tove Jansson and Truman Capote. Or maybe Nicole Krauss. Or maybe another one from ol' Japhy Ryder...see you have a lot of space, but the possibilities are also endless. 

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Constellations, birds, plants, morse code, bones, triangles, dots, lines, names.
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The list is as long as my arm. And my leg. And my torso. And my other arm. And my other leg.

You get the picture.

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I could get another compass. I could get a magpie. A hive of bees. The key to the attic of the house we lived in when I was little.  I could get all of Ursa Major and Correa Borealis under my skin.

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I could get the co-ordinates to here, or somewhere, or anywhere.


I think of tacky and puzzling and ridiculous things and inside jokes I could get tattooed on myself.
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The trouble with tattoos isn't that they last forever, but that it's so hard to choose which ones to get.
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Most people, no matter how silly their ink, don't really worry about their tattoos, or feel regret over them. They become part of your body. Over time, one may wish to change and remove them, but unless you decide to become a completely different, you just accept your youthful folly as a part of your self.


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Because holy s***, tattoos are awesome, funny, meaningful.
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Because you only live once and if regretting your ink is the worst thing you gotta worry about you should be so lucky.
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Because unlike love, having a stupid tattoo is never having to say you're sorry.
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Imagining those crazy different tattoos everywhere on your body is like discovering those parts all over again. I could have one on my thigh! Between my scapulas! Over my heart!
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This is the only body you'll ever have, might as well make the most of it, right?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Be Kind, Unwind


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I consider myself lucky. I have the most amazing husband, live in an awesome place, have lovely friends, eat great food, have what I consider abundant resources, a beautiful life. But sometimes in the summer, I need to keep reminding myself of that.
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Living in a tourist destination within a tourist destination and working in a tourist-y trade, gardens, long nights, boat rides, endless visitors who think your whole life is a vacation, starts to wear on me right about now.
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This is the time of summer where I'd just as soon as move somewhere far more desolate. The Olympic Peninsula and Iceland come to mind, but I think the switch may as well be here, just a little further from civilization. It's been a long time coming. We shall see how that pans out. But do remind me of all this come next year.
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In the meantime, I feel blessed to able to amble in our friend's lovely labyrinth of utterly magical plants, any night, every night if I wish, on my way home.

It doesn't take much really.
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Ten minutes of walking around aimlessly, watching our bees (because surely they are our own sweet bees-no one else has any around our neck of the woods) feast on the blooms, watching and marveling at plant-friends and I feel, a heck of a lot calmer, better, more ready to face the world, to tackle the tasks necessary for another day.
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Sometimes I do walking meditation, or a small mantra under my breath.
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One of my all time favorite meditation tools in busy, taxing times like these, is a simple exercise aimed at letting go of the unnecessary emotions our egos push on us constantly.
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Instead of wallowing in irritation, self-pity, emotional tiredness, you encounter each feeling that comes to mind by naming it and then sending it on its way.
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You see them coming, recognize them, acknowledge the weaknesses in your character, or the circumstances beyond your control that lead to them.
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Impatience. Frustration. Sadness. You name them, look at them objectively and let go of them rather than just sitting in their negative sphere. In meditation you're supposed to let go of the good ones too, because you're dodging the traps your mind sets to keep you occupied and not empty, but when I'm just unwinding from my day, or getting ready for the last part of it, I encounter those feelings as allies passing by.
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Love. Joy. Delight. You acknowledge them and hold onto them dearly, but also don't dwell on them, just walk on, content with what you've got and what you've let go of. They're just feelings. They don't define who I am.
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In the Labyrinth this exercise is easy to perform, but I try to remember it other times too, when I feel sad or low energy, it helps me keep on the right track.
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If you haven't, you should try it sometime.
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How's your summer? And how do you unwind from it?