Jag är på lång sikt.

I slutet av sommaren tänkte jag bara en tanke; Jag inte fri längre.

Hela min kropp och själ ropade nejnejnej… det var ju inte den här vägen vi skulle gå tillsammans. Jag var faktiskt inte alls klar med det här att vara min egen. Att styra vad som skulle göras och när. 

Men det var så många faktorer som spelade in i mitt beslut att jobba för någon annan. Det handlar inte alls bara om mig. Och det handlar inte heller om var jag jobbar. Det har inte att göra med hur fina alla är, eller hur roligt och viktigt arbete vi gör ihop. Det kommer fortfarande krävas saker av mig, och jag kommer att vilja prestera. Lägga tiden där den behövs.

Det handlar om att få allt att funka.
Få ihop allt. För mig och mina kära. Viktiga grejor.

nytt 2.jpg

Varje gång jag går in i något nytt, så vet jag att det kommer en storm. Och jag blir rädd.
Rädd för att missa, rädd för att vara fel ute, rädd för att brinna…

Nu är det 6 veckor sedan jag skiftade från att vara drottning över min egen tid, till att inte längre ha Någon. Tid. Alls.
Kämpar med lugnet och balansen. Återhämtning och reflektion.

Mitt måleri lugnar mig, får mig att söka inspiration, gå ut utomhus och att vara kreativ. Utan det är jag vilsen. Hösten behöver därför ägnas extra mycket till återhämtning och skapande för att jämna ut oddsen, för att vara här på lång sikt.

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En frihetstörstande själ. Som inte vill bli bunden. Den är jag.
Jag är fortfarande mitt i processen. Mitt i stormens öga. Jag visste att det skulle bli jobbigt, men inte att det skulle kännas så svårt och ta lång tid.

Jag säger inte att det är fel.
Bara att det är tufft.

Just nu.

Att skapa en trygg känsla.


Jag är rädd för mörker, konstiga ljud och mest för inbrott. Det är ju jobbigt att vara rädd, inte självvalt alls. Vi hade inbrott en gång för många år sedan. När någon tog sig in i vårt hem. Det enda stället som bara är vårt och där vi skall kunna vila och hämta kraft. Vara trygga.

Ärren finns kvar. Jag känner av och lyssnar in. Bedömer nya ljud snabbt som en vessla. Jag behöver massor av trygghet. Är lite av en orolig själ. Så jag jobbar lite med att skapa det där. På olika sätt.

Under året som gått har jag försökt att sakta bygga upp och tänka långsiktigt med mitt målande. Mitt företag. Små steg. Jag vill att det skall finnas med mig länge. Lång sikt och tryggt. Min familj och mina vänner har hjälpt till att kratta gången. Gjort det lättare att vara modig.

Efter sommaren kommer jag att börja jobba igen. Som anställd. Ekonomiskt tryggt. Mitt mål är att hitta ett sätt att kombinera familj, nytt jobb och konstnärsskapet. Målandet är läkande för mig, och jag behöver det. Alltså blir det höstens stora mål, att hitta det där sättet…

Så, för att slippa vara rädd för att glömma bort målandet, eller att det skall prioriteras ner till botten… så har jag omedvetet sökt efter något. Jag vill veta att målandet får en egen plats, som poängterar att det är viktigt för mig. Något som grundar mig.

Igår bestämde jag mig för att tacka ja till ett erbjudande om att hyra in mig i en studio, tillsammans med två andra kreatörer. Wiiiii!

Egen studio har varit ett mål som jag hade lagt 3-4 år framåt i tiden. Jag har resonerat som att jag inte alls behöver det nu, eftersom jag skall jobba heltid med annat och hur skall jag hinna nyttja och allt det där? 

A well… kanske blir det snårigt att få tiden att räcka till allt ändå. Men det viktigaste i den här kompotten är detta:

Jag kommer att ha en plats, ett showroom med flera möjligheter. I höst när jag plockar hem mina tavlor från olika pop-up fönster och från Musselbaren, då känns det fint att kunna samla ihop dem på ett ställe. Ett fint utrymme där jag kan bjuda in och visa upp. Där vi kan ha vernissage och smyg-tittar på nya serier. Där du om du vill, kan få komma och besöka mig mitt i processen av målande och skapande i stort. 

En plats där jag får plats.
Och finast av allt, det kommer att kännas tryggt.
Jag vet det.

Min egen boss

Man lär sig lite varje år. Om sig själv.
Och så gör man lite fel. Det hör till.

Nu ser jag att jag tog det för långt. Jag körde i för hög hastighet alldeles för länge. Inte bara med risk för hälsan, men jag hann ju inte se mig omkring. Missade avfarterna. 

Valde genom att inte välja.

Känslan efteråt var som att min bil hade voltat av vägen. Kört rakt genom räcket och ner för en slänt. Jag hade kastats ut genom rutan och satt nu på gräset. Bilen ligger en bit bort, med hjulen i luften. Jag tror att jag är oskadd, men jag är yr och tilltufsad. Och rädd.

Vilsen och mitt ute i ingenstans.

Jag ville så gärna göra karriär. Vara den där tjejen som lyckades i den kantiga manliga miljön, med vassa armbågar. Jag trodde rätt länge att jag skulle lyckas. Att jag bara behövde jobba lite hårdare. Jag ville vara speciell och ha den där vibben av cool busy working girl. En katt bland hermelinerna. 

Men det skulle ju aldrig hända, för det där är inte jag. 

Den här stora organisationen. Jag blev aldrig riktigt bra på den. Läste böcker om argumentationsteknik och om att identifiera olika sorters härskartekniker, hade ångest över obligatoriska kurser i presentationsteknik (som jag ju inte ville gå på), och sökte mig mer och mer från tekniken och närmare luddiga roller som saknade både mandat och rollbeskrivning. Helt utan ramar.

Det fanns så många tecken där. Och jag försvann inne i det stora huset. Det stämde inte. Jag var inte riktigt rätt för dem. De var inte längre rätt för mig. Jag blev en blek kopia av den högpresterande duktiga flickan jag en gång varit.

Bra kan man tycka. Men det fanns inget annat kvar av mig längre heller. Glöden var borta. Jag tillät den inte, och den hade ändå inte tänkt vara med. Jag började tvivla på om jag egentligen kunde någonting? Ingen annan visste längre vad jag gick för, och själv jag sa ingenting. Jag ville bara få kliva ur rampljuset. Jag hittade inte rätt. 

När jag slutligen tog mitt beslut, och kom igenom det mörka jobbiga av att inte veta vad jag ville göra. Eller hur jag skulle göra. Det var då jag landade i det som verkligen var jag – och då blev hela mitt fokus 50 gånger bättre. Både med konsten men också med sökandet efter ett nytt jobb. Rätt jobb för mig.

Jag har nog inte tagit något sånt här beslut förr. Jag har hela tiden strävat efter att andra skall ta mina jobbiga beslut åt mig. Jag var länge rätt upptagen med fråga andra vad jag skulle göra, och höll alla dörrar öppna åt alla håll av rädsla att missa… allt.

Jag hade ingen erfarenhet av att lyssna på mig själv.
Hade inte självförtroendet och respekten att lyssna på mig.

När jag målar är det inte alls så, då finns där en helt annan respekt och självklarhet. Det är bara jag som är jag. Även om det finns tusentals andra konstnärer som kan äta mig till frukost där ute så kan jag nu inse att mitt uttryck är mitt eget, och min person är kryddan som ingen annan har.

Det är här jag skall vara.

You are creative.

Would you believe me?

Being creative is to see. To find connections between two completely separate things, and bring them into a new combination. To see possibilities. How a few lines of text together with a picture quickly becomes a powerful expression, where the combined message is so much stronger than the two as separates. Being creative is also when you capture that thought, the one that just slightly brushes the top of your head. And when you quickly scrabble it down on a piece of paper before it disappears. Just like that. Without rejecting it. 

There comes a time for evaluation and questioning of the first raw version. But not now. An idea must be able to exist in the phase as a Shitty First Draft. Perhaps you leave it in a drawer for a year to mature. And one year later you find it again and you give it new life. Or it’s just right and you have to take the chance right now with this one.

Well, this knowledge is tricky. But I know this: You are creative when you allow yourself to be free for a while. One thing doesn’t always have to lead to another. 

it’s ok.

I am creative. That’s one thing I know. I know it by how my mind connects one thought to another and I see a link. I have practiced to give my thoughts a lot of space. To allow them to fly around without being valued or refused. I trust that there will come a day when they will work, or lead to something even better.

Some people tell me that they are so far off from being a creative person, even though they would really like to be. ”I’m happy to see that painting is your thing, but I do NOT have that within me”. Or ”I wish I was more creative…”

It’s one thing if you are not-at-all interested, but I would still like to say that we all have creativity within ourselves. Unfortunately some of us were silenced as kids, where grown ups said things like you don’t sing very well, or that you don’t color inside the lines, or that you lack imagination…

That makes me tear up. That something was broken within when you were little.

Creative is one of my value words of myself that I’m proud of and that makes me happy. I would like to spread that feeling to others. To those who want more. Because creativity doesn’t have to involve painting, knitting or writing music. It can be. But it’s also present when you cook without recipe, plant stuff in your garden, decorate your home, journal, write a bucket list, make an outline for a presentation, write a speech, dance or sing. That’s you being creative. One thought gives birth to another. You put them together and try to find the line of argument or the common denominator, or just to see if it looks good together.

I believe that we all have the ability to be creative, but it’s up to you, if you want, to let your mind run free. And if you would like to, we can practice together. Set your mind free, only for a little while. See what you find.

Please believe that.
It’s right there within you. 

Building a brand

So, this is a subject that I have given a lot of thought, over a long period of time. My thoughts around creating a brand have gone hand in hand with developing as an artist. Again, with the purpose of taking myself seriously and trying to do it in a proper way. I seem to come back to that feeling, to be serious... 

My aim is that it shall be visible that there is a part of me in the painting, as well as on the website and in what I share on social media. I also want that feeling to come across in the personal connections I make. A common thread all the way through. 

Malin Årsbog Art is therefore the brand I use for my work as an artist. I have deliberately tried to separate it slightly from myself, but still wish to keep the connection visible. Over time I also want to combine this with more things. 

The reason for my many thoughts on this was when I wanted to share something on for example Facebook. Would I share from my personal profile and try to keep that strictly for my art? That would work as long as I work only with one service or product. Would I then create a new profile or page for my next business idea? And what relationship should I have with my personal page? Maybe drop it?
Perhaps it’s easiest to just give up the control freaky side and just blend it all together. Blend-what-you-do-with-who-you-are…

I’m not yet sure about anything, but what I have gathered so far is that it’s just a matter of preferences. Nothing is more right, and it’s easy to try it out and see what works. Do it in one way now, knowing that it probably will change over time. Ok then. 

It’s all well and good to meditate on this for a while. Because... I just heard the wonderful sentence; a good brand mixes who you are (the person behind) with what you do (your delivery). Nothing to discuss there if you ask me. But what to do when you have multiple brands? Perhaps you want to create multiple tracks in your business. Is there a risk of limiting yourself, or worse, become too shattered and lose the clarity? 

Let’s say you want to start a business where your own personal brand is visible and you want to combine it with one or more of your services or products. Do your want to name the company after the largest brand, or is it better to go with your own name for the long perspective? Or a completely separate company name? Perhaps you don’t want to be limited with just one product or service, but still be clear in the name of your company. Hey, I might want to start a corporate group!

Well, these are things a think about from time to time. Lots of questions, only a few answers. 

To me this is not a one-time only, and I don’t want to pretend I will not change over time, because I hopefully will. Both in terms of the personal development, and also in what I’m interested in working with or creating. So, I will come back to this question for my part. In two weeks, a couple of months and again and again. 

When it’s time to build something new so to say. 

I don't want to fit in - I want to belong

Carefully prepared. And cohesive. This is what I want for the paintings I’m painting right now, that they will go well together. Match. Both the paintings with each other, but also with the surroundings and what is found next to them. I want the paintings to be part of a context. Each of them strong enough to stand on its own two feet, but while zooming out - I want them to look as if they are part of a family.

Which they are.

In the beginning I just paint. Casually. Some paintings are straight from ideas that came to me in one way or another. I'm also inviting the planning phase to the table. It will make sure that I don't lose track of any of the really good ideas. It also plays an important part in the big picture,and points out where I need to add a certain type of painting, or color. To create the balance I'm looking for. 

I make some choices but I don't disregard much at this point. Something very interesting might appear, if I have the courage to keep, and package it in a different way. If I can find a new way to introduce the painting that is the black sheep...

I don't want to paint to make paintings fit in - It doesn't work like that. My wish instead is for them to form the cohesion along with everything else. And hopefully end up in moving someone.

So, what do I need to do to make that happen?

Well, I'm not sure yet. But I read somewhere that when a person tries to force herself to fit into a context, it can create this itch, which can start to hurt. But if she is allowed to belong, and to make her surroundings richer because of her presence and character, then we can start to see new angles. New advantages and gains. 

It takes a very strong and confident context to really see how a person can contribute, instead of striving to adjust her to fit in the crowd of likes. This message stuck with me.

Isn't much easier to be flexible and adjustable? Then I won't have to worry of others thinking I'm high maintenance and difficult. When I fly under the radar. But am I happy? Happy from being nice and adaptable? Will there be a special price for the nicest after all?

I keep coming back to the question - what is it that I want?

After a lot of reflection I start to see the hints. It's in my actions, the way my mind reasons, what I keep whining about when I'm out of hope. There is a purpose to all of that. I already know the answer.

So I try to stay true to my dream, and not to conform into the ordinary path again. I want to paint, and I want to make you react. I want to surprise and come up with something new. Something unexpected. A color, a texture or a new name. I might even throw in a story to go with, to paint the background in words.

Cherry on top.

It's clear that I find my drive in painting for a specific target. Like an exhibition or a commission, or to create a portfolio of paintings to display when someone stops by my house. I don't go for predictable, and even though my collection can't be too all over the place, it must have that edge. 

If I succeed this time, there will be a signature piece thrown in there to mix it up and to balance it out at the same time. Its purpose solely to create a whole and to spread its wings around it all. To make sure the paintings are anchored with their new environment.

It won't all go together. Like people who don't get along. But that's ok. It's the way it is. It's my job to lay the puzzle.

All in its own time.
Every person has her own path.
She just have to find that cherry.

Highly sensitive

This morning, on my way to work I get reminded of my special quality. That I feel things a little stronger. The sun is coming up and the sky is so beautiful that it hurts a little. I listen to Veronica Maggio on Spotify and sing along. Loudly. Yes. My driving definitely improves with loud music in the speakers. I feel so much stronger. 

The lyrics affect me strongly and injects directly into my heart. For a second my throat feels thick and my eyes tear up, and then transforms into pure happiness. Emotional rush.

On my walk from the car towards the office, I feel the scent of autumn and I can see the exploding colors of the maple tree. Bright yellow. One of the most amazing trees I know of. And I say to myself that tomorrow when I have the day off, I will take a long walk in the woods and smell the autumn. I need to hurry up to experience the colors of the trees before all the leafs are gone. Because I know it makes me whole and heals me on the inside.

I feel a lot, and it is both fantastic and exhausting at the same time. One day strong and driven, standing on the barricades full of ideas. For the next day not wanting to even put my nose outside of the door. My brain is flooded and I need time to sort and reflect on what’s been said and done.

Sometimes when all energy is gone and I thing that I can’t or have the strength to do anything, I tend to accelerate even more. Push myself a little extra, perform just one more thing, or trying to take care of one more person. Instead of taking care of myself for a while.

Limitless. Like an overtired child.

Highly sensitive. Or fragile-strong as the two authors Maggan Hägglund and Doris Dahlin describe it in their book: ”Both strong and powerful, full of ideas and opinions, creative and intelligent with strong energy to explore the world, well-formulated and enterprising with a great deal of entrepreneur and explorer at heart. And so sensitive right on the border of skinlessness, with a mind that registers nuances that others don’t even see, that reacts massively of stimuli and with a brain programmed to process all impressions on a deeper level than most”.

I can read the atmosphere when entering a room, and rather quickly get a feeling of it being safe or unsettled. Not only for myself, but also for the other persons in there. It might arise a particular tone that will occupy me and that I can’t wrap my head around for a long time. If ever. Some situations alert me easier that other; like for instance when I feel excluded or if the communication is too quiet. It makes me insecure. It can also occur when a sense a conflict in the air, even if I’m not myself a part of it.

This can definitely be of service in my daily life, but as you can see it also takes up a lot of energy. I haven’t always been this broad-minded about this sensitivity. It was for a very long time my largest issue. I used to hide my feelings and tried to be more like others. I thought it was a defect that I needed to fix, and just shake off the insecurity and the itchy feeling. I longed to be alone many times but I didn't know how to politely decline company. I still struggle with that. It has consumed enormous amounts of energy and created a great deal of stress and anxiety through the years. 

There are naturally quite a few tips and tricks to avoid this brain flooding and exhaustion. Perhaps boring but wise routines for recovery and rest. To find your tribe of equally minded. And most of all to accept who you are - highly sensitive or not. There are a lot of things to learn in this hopefully long life of ours. It’s a pity that some lessons learned take closer to forty years to find out, but if it makes you love your multi-colored mind, it is totally worth it.

As of today my sensitivity is my best quality. It might not fit in everywhere, but you know, I can’t be without it either. Without the highs there will be no lows. And without the low’s I will not be who I am.

A sensitive artist. 

It’s a new week

I took a break, and now I can feel the energy flowing again.
It felt important in a way. To take that pause to reflect and create some space for afterthought and maturity to happen. To me it also came with a calm to consider in what direction I’m heading. I will admit, it wasn’t part of the plan, but sometimes you’re allowed to run free. Now more than ever, I know that this is me. 

It was a natural pause in my painting to prepare for the exhibition, which gave a longing to create again. Just as I had hoped, but never dared to expect. I rather anticipated living in a vacuum a couple of weeks after, not knowing my next step. It turned out the other way around, perhaps because the exhibition exceeded my wildest dreams.  

Where I normally felt uneasy about knowing if a painting was done or not, I now have a new confidence and much less of that dull anxiety. I needed to spread my wings and try them out. I have more knowledge now. On whom my customers are, but also what paintings have attracted them. I have come to find that there is a painting for everyone. Or the other way around; a buyer for every painting. As long as the two find each other, it can be love. 

I’m so crazy touched by the love from all near and dear ones that came to visit me and encouraged me that weekend. My heart is flooding. You know the feeling when you are moved, like when they play that song from the 80’s that you love... the arm hair rises and the throat chokes. 

Well, my entire weekend consisted of those emotions while talking to my friends and family and so many new acquaintances. We spoke about art, and how we connected art to emotions or interpretations of art. A feeling of confidence that meant something extra to a friend, and I realize that both I and the painting was part of that experience. I was connected with the universe that weekend, hippyish but amazing. Or maybe it wasn’t the universe, but pure human connection. The sort of connection I sometimes feel I don’t need, when I have enough with my own company. But that I now understand that I can’t live without. It makes me strong and vulnerable and that my friends is the real stuff. 

What struck me the most was that the paintings that gave me the least trouble making, the ones where I have been true to my style and things had just kept on going; those were the ones that got sold directly. I will take this with me and try to bring it out every time I paint now. Without hesitation. 

A new phase for me, in so many ways. My first exhibition finally done, I have a good work setup with half time employment and painting the rest of the time. Time itself is no longer infinite and I am no longer completely free. It takes more structure and logistics to make everything I have planned out. And committed to. 

I have started to collect new names of paintings. There is a new theme in me, and the words and expressions I am drawn to is a reflection of this. I pick up my old notes of the paintings I never got around to paint then. I will paint them now. I know what will look good and I will start right away. Creativity is knocking on the door, asking if I’m game? 

Outside the air is clear and the colors are like magic. There is a sense of things slowing down a bit, and I have a new chance to keep up. I want to develop my painting and take new steps. At the same time I want to complete the paintings I have promised to do, which is a whole new experience in itself. It’s motivating and it suits me so well right now. 

Just as I hoped I feel the fresh air around me. It’s fall.
My canvas is blank and I’m ready.

Ok. Bye.

I’m very aware of my inability to paint anything new right now. It’s too close to my first exhibition. My brain doesn’t seem to have the capacity to do anything other than preparing. I’m flipping past pretty pictures in Instagram without taking so much as a screen dump. Normally a picture of a nice brick wall would lead me to start up a new painting. I have several canvases at home; it would be easy to get started. But nothing is happening. 

I know what this is about. I’ve been here before. It’s the exhibition, and it needs to be finalized first before I can let it go. And start fresh on Monday. 

Meanwhile I am shopping for hammer and nails, candy for the visitors, and I distribute folders in the neighbors’ mailboxes. Not to mention the constant marketing on social medias. I have planned for transport of paintings, how to pack up for transport, and I have written names and price tags. Soon everything will fall into place and I can be my calm self again. Tomorrow is when the fun starts. It’s time to connect. 

An open exhibition is the traditional way of displaying your art. It’s a good opportunity for the artist to meet visitors and buyers and to be able to see the painting through other people’s eyes. Equally exciting and terrifying.
To be present when a potential buyer sees a painting and while interpreting it, giving it a life of its own. Where I as an artist no longer participate, other than from the side stands. If I adapt to this mindset, I think I will feel less anxious about how others might think of my paintings. 

The alternative would be to perform a digital exhibition with glossy pictures on a website, and a web shop where you could click and buy the painting of your choice. Question is; would it present the same feeling? And what about the in-person connection; is there still a need in the digital case? Theoretically a meeting between artist and buyer could clearly take place via Skype or similar IT-solution…

But isn’t it rather about the surroundings in which the painting is situated in? Whether it’s a modern gallery or a minimalistic and exclusive web site? Perhaps this is the heart of the matter, the general impression you get as a buyer? Although, when thinking about it one more time, the artist is in fact a rather large part of the surrounding.  When buying a painting, you are buying the whole package, the artist work and the history behind it all. Maybe so. I’m still nervous. 

Mostly I’m nervous because I find it difficult to be in the center of attention right now. I’m not sure on which foot I should put my weight; the one with the paintings or the other one representing my own work. In a way my work is already done. It’s no longer supposed to be about me at all. But how does one detach from the painting to become merely the gallerist? 

We’ve had our talks, the paintings and I. One for each painting, like a one-to-one.
Someone explained it beautifully to me that it’s about communication. Saying good bye to the painting isn’t so hard when you’ve had a continuous dialogue throughout the process. The good buy is only the final step. For me the dialogue continues also during the periods of time when the painting have been standing alongside a wall. Waiting for me. Many times the conversation is without spoken words. ”You need something else, don’t you?”  A quiet confirmation. I nod and agree. 

Ending the conversation with: ”You’re ready now, right?”
Ok, bye.

To believe in yourself and your idea

Something has transformed in me. It’s merely a small part of my mindset, but still. It all started when a friend pitched my paintings for another friend, in my presence. A compliment for sure. I humbly replied to questions about how and what I paint. But once we got into prices and sizes, I immediately became insecure in my work. Within seconds I reduced my passion and undemanding way of painting, to quietly whispering that I just doodle from time to time.
I was taken by this episode, and I understood that I needed to make a few changes.

I could see the chain of thoughts; how I initially let myself get inspired by others, let them lead the way and safely followed them. After that I found my own expression, with a pleasant feeling of being on to something. I was still inside my own bubble where no one put any judgment of what I was doing with my spare time. I did not admit to myself or others that any of the paintings were for sale. With time I increased the pace of my painting, and put more pictures up on the website. I slowly got used to the idea and put focus on pricing, naming and more preparations…
What was lacking was the confidence and the obvious thought that this was what I do now. That day in Marstrand I felt embarrassed and it confirmed that I did not take myself seriously. 

I was worried that I wouldn’t be perceived as professional. Not genuine. That became a turning point and I had it. So I created business cards to show myself that I did have gravitas. It was time.

There is something about entrepreneurs that so many of us are attracted to. We want to be that fly on the wall and see all about their planning and new ideas. We want to connect with and watch their journey. Follow them to find out more about how they evolve, and what’s going on behind the scenes.

Are they so inspiring because they do what we feel such resistance to?  That we ourselves wouldn’t dare to do?
Or simply because they seem free?

Free from the ever so suppressing ‘well-I-shouldn’t’, or from being controlled by other person’s rules and guidelines. They have thrown away the Jante-cape and enter their projects with such certainty. This is what they are meant to do. It’s like the subsistence and the results have been written in the books a hundred years ago already. Their work is appealing, maybe since there are so many of us that have our own issues letting go of the comfort blanket and the security we believe we have to keep getting.             

My friend dared to do it, and she did it. She believed in herself and her idea and last week she opened the doors to a new shop, and the customers are arriving in a steady stream. She is an absolute inspiration, and even though I can only see it from the sidelines, her work has such a clear and steady flow. It’s like she was meant to be there all along.

This is what I think happens when you have an incredible personal engagement and brand. It attracts those who dig the person behind, that are amazed by the passion and who want to come along for the ride.

So bring the whole you to the table. As a person, as an entrepreneur and as a friend. When you show up with your whole you in everything you do, your best work, your best relations and your success will be there waiting.
You (meaning: I) should maybe gently get started now. You weren’t probably ready before.
I wasn’t ready before.

Together.

One of my strongest experiences was when I and my family drove in a procession this spring, to the chapel where the funeral of my grandfather would take place. It is the custom of the Norwegian countryside, to follow the deceased from their home to the chapel in a funeral procession driving very slowly. Members of the family and closest friends meet up before the funeral and drive together in a long row. 

We gathered early in the morning. There was rain in in the air, grey low hanging clouds and foggy. We stayed in our cars, gently waving to our cousins and aunts through the windows. Someone attached corresponding crosses on the car tops. It indicated that this was a funeral procession that belonged together. Finally all the cars lined up.

My sister drove our car, with our father beside her. We drove very slowly. I was in the back seat and I couldn’t stop crying. Not because my dear grandfather was no longer with us. I knew that he was ready, he had already told my father; he was taking a trip. Sweet grandfather. 

No, I was crying because I get very touched when human beings cooperate together in an act of respect and consideration, like this day was all about. Oncoming cars not only immediately slowed down, most of them stopped to a standstill until the entire procession had passed by in the other direction. Cars stopped for us over and over during the everlasting drive of 20 minutes. I did not want it to end, and at the same time I had that pressure in my chest. 

There are some unwritten rules around this. You must never break up a procession once it has started, i.e. not pull in between the cars that are a part of it. You must also not overtake a procession when it’s driving slowly towards the chapel. Nothing is more important on such a day. No one is in such a hurry. 

In the same way my eyes tear up when we in traffic move efficiently to the sides in order to give way for an ambulance. We know it’s urgent, if we don’t cooperate things can get bad. Together we are doing what needs to be done. I instantly move my car, and I see that the cars in front and behind me are reacting just as quickly. Like on signal we know what to do. No one hesitates or sleeps at the wheel, we just act. 

I enjoy being a part of something that cooperates like this. 

During certain periods, when I attempt to find myself, I usually reach a point when I want to consociate with another person to move things forward. I’ve come as far as I can on my own. This can be triggered by someone telling me exactly what I need to hear; that I have moved them in some way, just then. I find myself feeling moved, strong and proud. No feeling is superior of the other. They are all in one mix and I slightly lift off the ground. Not by vanity, but by this feeling that I need to take myself seriously now and step out of my bubble. I am motivated to continue outside it, to prevent my thoughts to grow dull and boring, but instead to gain new life. Starting a new phase. 

My idea is that if I share, then you will next time. That makes two persons contributing with an experience. My own experience might not fit you, but at least you will know that there is someone else out there looking for the answer. Someone who knows that it ain’t all that easy. It is a strenght. It’s not just about me anymore. 

Saturday in two weeks is gallery-day; I’m showing my art in Konstrundan together with two other artists. I’m sitting here reflecting on my choice. How straightforward I was about wanting to find a venue where there are other artists displaying together. We are constructing this miniature collective, even though we don’t know each other. Together we want this to become as good as it can. Each of us has our own energy and expression, but in this collective we are making an appearance that might leave the visitor with a bigger experience than if we showed our art each on our own. 

My hopes are to become one experience richer, and to make another hole in my courage belt. Perhaps also to gain one or two new friends. 

Fear of failure

Have you read the book written by the Norwegian hotel king and investor yet? His name is Petter Stordalen.
He firmly argues that if we want to live in a society where people will dare to invest in entrepreneurship and innovativeness, then we must encourage and give applause to the attempts to do just that. But to fail is still covered in shame. Hence the excuses for not trying are everywhere. 

How contradictive. 

We have boosted our children during all times, telling them that they can be whatever they wish, as long as they try, and that they not give up at the first obstacle that appears. That they must rise up and keep trying, if it doesn’t work out the first time. So, we applause our children’s attempts, but how often do we pat ourselves or others on the back once we have fallen, and need the encouragement to dare to go at it again? 

Let’s say that you are on your way to try new things, to find your own way. You might dare to take a path where no one has gone before you. When you gather up enough courage to deviate from your course… you will be hearing naysayers. You will run into people that don’t believe in you, and that will make you doubt yourself and your thoughts. There will also be well-intended people who will encourage and support you, but at the same time trying to keep you from being disappointed, by pointing out all the risks associated with your ideas. 

This last week I’ve been really thinking about why we are so scared and for what really? 

Yes, it is obvious that we get scared when people around us show their concern. It’s in our nature, similar to animals, to react to these signals. My personal fear is about exactly that. That I will do something wrong or make the wrong choices. I worry about someone shaking their head at me, and ultimately excluding me from the group. For no matter how independent and free I might be, I don’t want to be alone. 

Fear can fester in loneliness. 

I believe that so many of us are ashamed when we doubt our own ability. We are taught that we must believe in ourselves, and not to show insecurity. That is why the load gets extra heavy on our shoulders; when we sometimes fail do just that. We are painfully aware that we should just get over it, and stop hesitating. We don’t want to whine about our fear, we’d much rather seem confident and invincible. 

Fear is also a lot about comparing yourself to others. It’s near at hand to feel uneasy about the risk of failing if we keep comparing our work with other, more successful predecessors. The ones we think made it in a first attempt. What we fail to see is their iterations and discarded ideas. Their worries and their doubts. Obviously nothing to brag about, or even admitted in public.

All your ideas will not fly. Not the first time. There will be lots and lots of flops along the way. This is what we call development. But it’s equally important to create your own scale of what’s a success and what’s not. There is a lot of gain in daring to just give it a go. To iterate. 

So if you still like what you do, don’t worry, you just have to try again. It’s ok to be scared. It only showsthat you care about the things you do. 

Personally I share these doubts, and I don’t feel a bit ready, and I have tons of excuses not to start anything. Scared, obviously. 

I wish I could paint and write full time and to make a living out of my art. Then I will open a gallery where I could display my own and other creative people’s art. I would invest my time and money in young and old unestablished artists, and form a creative community. And I think I would like to do it in a new and different way. Or maybe I will just follow the handbook. I’m not sure .It’s hard to explain to others how I picture my way forward. Probably because I don’t have it all figured out just yet. 

I don’t have all the answers, and I’m not sure in what direction I’m heading. But I’m happy to share along the way the things I’ve learned. Because once again, I don’t want to do this entirely on my own. I have surrounded myself with this lovely circle of people who gets it, who also wants to build something together. Success and failure next to one another. It will be ok. Far from perfect. Nice. 

A round of applause for you. And for me.

The Messy Middle

Day two... or should I say, when I’m in the middle of a painting, I sometimes feel some sort of emptiness. It’s blank. Closed.

I doubt how to move forward. Feeling insecure and worried that I might take the wrong direction. Scared to destroy what I have recently started. And I have this sensation of it’s never ever going to be ready. The impatience in not knowing. 

In this moment, there is no given. I know that the painting is not finalized yet. I need to continue. But the immediate risk of a broken painting can block me for weeks. What I used to believe was laziness or lack of discipline. 

What I now identify as fear. 

Is this good enough? Am I on the right track? The paintings I did last year are so much closer to my real style. Am I moving backwards in my artistic development? Who likes what I do, really? Did I put enough time into this? Is this important? 

I’m not really afraid of destroying the painting. I can always start a new one.
No, what I’m actually afraid of – and this took a lot of soul searching – is to fail. To fall and never being able to rise back up again. I’m scared of what others will think. I just want to be loved. I don’t carry that hard-bitten skin. Rhino skin. 

Let’s zoom out slightly. 

The beginning, the middle, the end. It’s no longer a painting. It’s right in the heart of what I’ve been doing lately. My current and ongoing journey. My personal journey. And stay with me on this; if we zoom out even further, it seems as if this is also the operating manual for life. 

Yep. The Messy Middle. Could it be so simple that it is related to turning 40? To question everything. From job situation, to relations, traditions, interests, habits… who am I? 

At first it feels like falling, face first into the dirt. Then it turns into a spin-dryer where it’s impossible to get hold of a single thought, and nothing is substantial. It can be a little dark. Finally there’s a phase of rest. Where the ideas shall only be marinated, not performed. Like farming. The soil also needs a time of rest. Meanwhile you are doing other things. More rest, planning, reflection. 

I sort of understand now that I’m still in the middle. And I will be for many years to come, but in different chapters. Where each part of this personal journey has a similar flow. So, while I’m almost done with this last chapter, it’s only likely that the next will soon come with a new Messy Middle.

I’m longing and dreading. 

One of my wise friends argues that you need to create space for the middle. To back down for a while. Because if you don’t take the time for it, you will never know the meaning of it. Later you can look back with a new perspective. So, if you are curious, let the middle play its part and just see what happens. You will know when it’s ready. You will sense it. 

Beyond rest comes wisdom and courage. The courage to move on. For even if it in the beginning did not seem to be any solution or right path, there will come a day. When you know.
Brené Brown, one of my household gods says: 

If I jump and leap,
I do not jump for the landing.
I jump for the experience through the air. 
Because I cannot predict the landing.