Goodbye coach, hello friend

photography by Mia Makila © 2017

Narcissa, today – photography by Mia Makila

I have been resting all week, trying to collect new energy since I am starting my new job next Thursday. I am saying goodbye to an old lifestyle – both to the good and the bad that comes with being a free artist (but totally and utterly broke). Earlier today I met up with my job coach, who’s become a dear friend along the journey. I felt a little sad when I realized it would be the last time I’d see her like this on every Wednesday afternoon. She shared my feelings. “I think it’s sad that I won’t see you every week”, she said, “but now I don’t have to be your coach, now I am simply your friend.” It brought tears to my eyes.

Sitting across from her at the table, at times behind my camera, I couldn’t stop studying her face. There is so much life in Narcissa’s face. Her eyes are filled with sparkles but also with sudden hints of sorrow at times. She can look serious and playful at the same time. I love that about her. There is an intelligent depth and creativity to all her thoughts – always with various degrees of mischievous and witty undertones.

photography by Mia Makila © 2017

When I first started to see Narcissa once a week, to get consultation and support in my quest of finding a ‘real’ daytime job, I was in a pretty bad place. I had gone through many difficult processes in my therapy work – and my physical health was a mess. On our first session she said: “I see how much weight that other people have put on you, you carry so much that isn’t even yours to carry. I will help you unload the weight – and if you should fall, I am here to catch you.” She was like an angel. And she did not lie. She picked me up a few times until I was strong enough to stand on my own two feet.

A few months later, I started making art again, after my long hiatus (due to the awful creativity blockage). She had given me so much strength and confidence and it shows in my work too. There is a new focus in everything I do. Narcissa has taught me the importance of taking things step by step. That way, the focus is uncluttered and steady, instead of being directed at the wrong things, things that used to drain me of all energy.

“You are an inspiration to me.” She said. “What you have achieved in a short amount of time, is very hard and almost impossible, not all people can do what you’ve done. To have you as my client has been a true honor.”

photography by Mia Makila © 2017

photography by Mia Makila © 2017

Suddenly, Narcissa is bursting out in a big laugh. I try to get my camera ready for a shot, but I’m too slow. I get a picture of her smile. I love her laugh. It’s pure and real and comes all the way from her toes. It makes me feel happy.

It is now time for us to say goodbye. She gets up from her chair, fetches her jacket and her sunglasses. This is it. This is the moment when I lose a wonderful job coach – but also when I win a new friend. I am so grateful for everything she’s done for me. I can’t wait to be there for her, like she’s been there for me. She gives me a warm hug and wishes me luck with my new job. Then I watch her go. She takes an old chapter of my life with her and disappears around the corner.

Goodbye coach, hello friend. ♥

photography by Mia Makila © 2017

© 2017 MIA MAKILA

Hide and seek

Spring is playing hide and seek. It is sunny. It is snowing. Melting. Sunshine. More snow. I am always sensitive to seasons changing and I have a hard time adjusting to the various climates right now. I have weird dreams at night and I remember the smallest little details. It’s not pleasant, but I will use them in my art for sure.

“The Queen” by Mia Makila, 2007

Everything I do right now, is connected to my creativity. I live and breathe art. I study art, I am making sketches, research, scouting locations for more photo projects, painting, writing, networking with other artists. I feel like I have overcome such a barrier lately. Sure, this feels like my natural state – but it wasn’t that long ago that I wasn’t making art or even planning projects and visions. I have already fulfilled my new years’s resolution to “find the pulse of life”. I feel it. I am the pulse.

My self confidence is growing. The self-esteem as well, but it takes longer for it to grow. What other people stole from me, I have reclaimed. I am still struggling with my sexuality and how to trust, relax and free myself from bad associations. But I am working hard to heal myself in every way possible. I have always used my ambition as a self-empowerment tool – it keeps me afloat even in times when I am deep into self doubt and despair.

Just like spring – my self esteem is playing hide and seek at times.

Life math

There is something beautiful in leaving old processes to begin new ones. The space in between is filled with growth and courage – and works like a bridge for the new challenge. It’s poetic. I’m leaving my old life behind. The life of a starving artist, trauma recovery and building a new home for myself.

I have made a list of all the new processes I have in motion right now (all 9 of them) and orginized them in order of priority. I know what I have to do next and where I am going. You could say that I’ve finally got my shit together, three years after the break up where I had lost everything including myself. It’s been two years with Johnny even though he’s been my best friend for more than four. I stated to paint again two years ago after the 6 years of creativity blockages. Life is the sum of all the experience and dreams you’ve ever had. The mistakes you’ve made are just as important as the creative visions of a future self. They are the gravity for who you were, who you are and who you will become.

I can see all three versions of myself so very clearly. Right now I’m not so full of regrets as I was last summer. I’ve accepted my past and closed the door to the shame, regret and blame. None of that is important now. I’ve wasted too much time on the wrong things and people. I can’t afford more wasting. After all – I only have one life. Only one future where I can make up for two decades of endless tears.

Time for a new focus

I feel like I have healed more in these last 6 months than I thought was possible. I have been so focused on my inner journey and finding the way back to my creativity – but I am here now. Healed. Home. Making art.

It is time for a new focus. And I want to use all the knowledge I have collected on this journey and return all the love I have received from you all during the worst years of my life. I am full of gratitude and love.

The Swedish writing project I am currently working on is a perfect beginning of this new focus – on helping others, through what I learned while helping myself. I used to believe it was up to me to help everyone in need – it was the psychological codependency nerve being triggered by people who needed help. But this new focus is different. It is healthy and constructive. It makes me feel like I didn’t go through my personal purgatory for nothing. I don’t look for meaning in religion or external signs. I create my own meaning by never letting my wounds define who I am but simply what I have survived.

Grapes

I am in bed, eating grapes and working on my writing project. Missing Johnny. I am thinking about how much my life has changed in just a few months. Perhaps you have noticed it too.

I’ve got a little distance to the painful things in my past – and the distance is a great place to explore the past from a new perspective. I used to feel so stressed, all the time. Stress. Stress. Stress. Even if I’ve been deeply focused on my creativity lately and haven’t had time for anything else, I don’t feel stressed. I haven’t watched TV in a week. The apartment is a mess. But I have something more important to focus on right now. And I have been waiting for this moment for almost 7 years. SEVEN YEARS! Nothing or no one can ever come between me and my creativity ever again. Only dementia and death.

It is like everything is starting to come together now. My therapy notes have become the foundation on which I base both the new mythology in my art and the ideas for my writing project. To be a ‘crazy notebook lady’ turned out to be not so crazy after all. And it’s like things just click now. Old abandoned digital pieces are suddenly interesting to work on again.

The discovery I made this week, that my skills in PhotoShop have improved so much that I don’t really need to paint anymore because I can express myself the same way through my digital art, has unloaded a heavy weight on me. I don’t feel haunted by the thought that I need to hurry, hurry, hurry with the paintings still in progress. I have enough digital works for an art show. If I finish the paintings until it’s time for the art show it will be a nice bonus, but I don’t feel pressured to finish them.

I am eating grapes and feeling like the world is mine to conquer.

The reward

After I launched the new site, I sort of crashed. I’m exhausted. So I took yesterday off to rest and collect new energy. I am finding clarity in so many things now days – in my creativity, my health and when it comes to love and happiness. I feel awake and present. Engaged with the world around me. Even though I lost a lot of things things year, the things I gained are priceless to me. And I gained them through each loss.

I lost some dreams. I lost a tooth. A lot of hair due to stress. I lost part of my family. I lost opportunities. I lost money. I lost both a sense of control and myself for a while.

With Johnny, earlier this year

With Johnny, earlier this year

But I also lost the last PTSD symptoms, which used to rule my every day life. I lost many destructive and false self images. I lost the connection to my inner Lolita, who used to love feeling submissive. I lost the survival strategies that made it possible for me to live my life without constantly being prepared for a new catastrophe. I lost my dance partner in the destructive, psychological dance of death. I lost a lot of stupid distractions. I lost the creative blockage. I lost the heavy burden of carrying other people’s responsibility and judgement. And all those losses have liberated me from so much fear, pain and suffering. It brought me closure. It gave me a chance to be myself, without being afraid to make other people uncomfortable. It made it possible for me to finally accept Johnny’s love without wanting to push him away – and for me me feel at home in myself, in my art and in the love I share with Johnny (no wonder my new digital piece is called ‘Homecoming’). It makes me feel more at peace. Balanced. Centered. More alive.

What a beautiful reward.

‘Acceptance’ is more about letting go

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work in progress – “Out of Reach”

I’m getting nowhere with the clinics, I’m frustrated but I’m slowly recovering. The health care system in Sweden at this point is basically following the trend of the DIY movement; Do it yourself. But I’ve become pretty good at figuring out how to treat myself and I know what medical care that works and what doesn’t. As long as my health is improving, I don’t care if I have to play doctor, I hate hospital milieus anyway.

Part of my self-treatment is to let go of the stress from this summer. It’s been a lot. I have some heavy decisions to make when it comes to how I want to build my nearest future. I also have to go on defining myself as an artist – I have a feeling that I have to let go of some things to be able to push through the struggles I’m dealing with in my creativity. Something is holding me back and I know exactly what it is, but it’s hard to accept.

It’s my audience. You.

Perhaps I have to kill some darlings – your darlings – in order to continue working with my art. I know I will lose a lot of admirers, fans and collectors if my work took a different direction, if my focus point would shift from the things that brought me success and appreciation – to a whole new genre where I’m not familiar with the audience. But that is the privilege I have as an artist, to reinvent myself and my expression over and over again throughout my career. I have changed so much since my early works and my art is changing alongside my personal metamorphosis.

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Early works:

Semi-Paradise

Semi-Paradise by Mia Makila, 2006

Alone In Hell

Alone In Hell by Mia Makila, 2006

Holiday In Hell, 2007

Holiday In Hell, 2007

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Works from 2014-2016:

"Not a Phallus" by Mia Makila, 2014 [digital]

“Not a Phallus” by Mia Makila, 2014 [digital]

The Screaming Rug by Mia Makila, 2016 - digital.

The Screaming Rug by Mia Makila, 2016 – digital.

"A Binary Dream" by Mia Makila, 2016 [digital]

“A Binary Dream” by Mia Makila, 2016 [digital]

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My life used to be a very private version of Hell. Chaotic. Dramatic. Painful. Everything in either black or white – but at the same time burning or in flames. Now, my life is full of love, longing, sensuality and stillness. I’ve found a harmonic grey-scale (visible in my latest digital works) within the black and white.

As I am thinking about all this, a title for a future art show emerges. That is evidence that I am on the right path. Acceptance is more about letting go than it is about finding new answers. I need to accept that I can never go back to being the artist I once was – and I can’t force myself to be the artist I would love to be even though it doesn’t come natural to me. I just have to let go of my timeline of success and failure and accept the artist I’ve become, going through all that. The artist I am. Now. Celebrated for my past achievements – but not forced to live up to the expectations that came with that. I have big plans for my future art projects, but I need more money. So let’s start there.

I’m letting go of your expectations of me. Thank you for loving my art so far. It has meant so much to me. But I have to have the freedom to reinvent myself from time to time  – and you are invited to follow me on my journey, it will be a roller-coaster ride for both of us I’m sure.

The Superpower

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We had another long and amazing talk about creativity. I love these discussions, I need them, I crave them. We continued talking about why we aren’t being creative right now. Why he’s not writing, why I’m not into the flow of painting. We established that being able to bring magic to the world by making art (in whatever form) is like a superpower. This superpower makes you special, makes you stand out, it elevates you from the crowd, it makes you fly, high above reality and everyday life.

But here’s where we have different approaches to our superpower. I am more comfortable flying than I am being grounded. Johnny is more comfortable on the ground than up amongst the clouds. He’s comfortable with the idea that he can fly, whenever he wants to – I am uncomfortable with the idea of having to land and spend time in the real world waiting for that special moment when I’ll get to fly again. “A superhero is a superhero because he can transform himself from an ordinary person into a superhero when he needs to. If he would be up in the air all the time, flying around, he’d just be a crazy person, flying without a cause, without a mission”, Johnny said. It made sense. I haven’t seen it like that before.

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I need to accept that I can’t ask from myself to be creative all the time and to not judge myself whenever I can’t find that flow. I need to be grounded at times in order to be able to transform and illuminate myself. I can’t be on a superhero mission all the time. Then it wouldn’t be special or the most private, intimate and wonderful thing I get to share with myself.

I have been forcing myself to use my superpower when all I needed was to be grounded and wait for the right moment to fly. And I’ve been afraid of crash-landing. Of broken wings. To have my superpower being taken from me. I’ve been afraid of losing my direction amongst the clouds. Of flying too high. To get burned by the sun. I have been confused about how to use my superpower and when – or when to stay grounded and enjoy life on Earth.

I have to learn how to use my superpower in the correct way. Then I’ll be able to transform myself when the right moment appears. When I’m on a mission to create magic – something rare and beautiful that isn’t a product of expectations or pressure, but the expression of freedom and joy. Just like flying.

From my own death to a new creativity

3 days until my love will come. I’m starting to feel like myself again, it’s a nice feeling. The seasons are slowly changing outside my window, it’s unusual cold for being the last summer month. I enjoy the cool weather. The grey skies and the melancholy. It feels like home to me.

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I’ve been resting for weeks or perhaps for a small eternity, that’s how it feels anyway. I’m tired of resting and watching TV series. But I’ve been studying art and I’ve thought a lot and hard about my own art. It’s been good for me. I don’t want to overthink things or to overanalyze, but it’s like with everything in my past – I’ve been going through life without reflecting on what my true voice sounds like because I have been so busy pleasing other people. I know that at some point in my career, I started to make art for my fans, for gallery owners and collectors, instead of making it for myself. Something that was so private and intimate suddenly became corrupt and compromised in public. I know exactly when it happened. Even which painting I was working on at the time.

This struggle to get back to my art, especially painting, has been long and hard. Just like a trauma can happen in a second but will take a lifetime to overcome, it takes a lot of time to heal a compromised creativity and an abandoned inner voice. I regret the way I deviated from my path to go where I wasn’t supposed to go. I got so lost. I ended up so far from myself. From the expressions I had inside but didn’t allow to come out. I got used to the resistance, to the silence of it, to the feeling of being dead and buried underneath the fear and the doubts.

From my diary 2011:

“It is more natural for me now to not be creative than to create and make art. My paint tubes and brushes are stored away in transparent storage boxes and waiting for this mental paralysis to be dissolved so I can use them again. So I can go back to how things were before.

It’s like all of me is stored away in an invisible, transparent storage box that separates me from my true identity, and from my desire to create. Like in a coffin, because I feel dead in so many ways. It is not an exaggeration or emotional debauchery – but an honest feeling rooted in my inner core. “

I know how it feels like to be dead. I know that the real death is not and the end of our lives but comes in the same colors and textures as life itself, but without your own sense of vitality. It doesn’t happen when you stop breathing, it happens when you stop believing in yourself, when you separate yourself from your core. And the way back is awfully long and painful.

At least I know what it’s like to die and to be awakened and resurrected, all in a lifetime. I have many important things to tell. I need to use that in my art. This phase of finding my true artistic voice after letting go of an older version is so unbelievably scary – you have no idea. But it has to be done. This process is just as private and intimate as the creativity itself. I’ll let you be part of it, but please know how vulnerable I feel to share these things with you.

But it’s an important and genuine part of my art and should not be undisclosed or forgotten. It is part of the substance to my future paintings and who I will become as an artist.

Counting the days

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I woke up to a cloudy day. It’s still hot but at least the sun is not too bright. I feel somewhat cloudy too. I’m totally out of sync with my emotions, it’s been an intense month with a lot of emotional discharge. I feel a little worn out. Johnny will be here in a few weeks, so I want to feel centered and energized before his arrival. I need to isolate myself for a while, like I do whenever I need to find that perfect sync between mind, body and heart.

Even if my inner batteries are running low, I feel strong and in control of my own destiny. I know where I am going. I am aware of my own behavior and choices. And I’m still working on my art – and it means everything to me. I feel so inspired. I’m growing as an artist, I feel like I’ve reached a new artistic level. It doesn’t happen a lot, perhaps only a handful of times in a lifetime. But it has happened now and it makes me feel proud. I know I am without competition in my style (both here in Sweden and internationally) – and in the way I use my trauma to express female sexuality and the integrity of the soul. It makes me feel confident and like I really matter as an artist, like I make a difference somehow.

My creativity is leaking into every area of my life now days – even my relationship with Johnny is a beautiful creation that we’ve both been working hard to maintain and add to with everything we are and have. It’s our own little piece of heaven – our home in the world, even if we are separated by an ocean. I can’t wait to have him here with me. We are counting the days.

But first I need to meditate and recharge. I have so much I want to accomplish, so much I want to experience – but so little energy. I think that my art could be the perfect place to get in sync with myself. I feel grateful. Where would I be without my creativity? Even the thought of it is unbearable. I feel lucky – and I know my creativity will save me, every time I need to be saved. That is why I never need to be saved by a man or anyone else. This is what makes me strong. This is part of my core strength. It’s what will keep me going, no matter what. But I owe it to myself to keep it safe and in sync. So that’s what I have to do now.

One step at a time

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My very first day at the gallery was amazing. I really need this right now. To be part of the world outside my own studio again. I’m sure this will inspire my work as well.

But I’m worried about my new collection of paintings. The painting process is so much slower than I first expected. It’s not that easy to build a whole new life for myself, to improve my self-esteem, overcome PTSD and trauma, while starting a new serious long distance relationship – and at the same creating a new body of work to restore my art career. I have to give it more time. I understand that. But with this speed of the painting process, I won’t be able to promote a new collection of artworks in at least 1-2 years. So far, I have three paintings and maybe 15 digital pieces to show. But my goal is to produce 10-15 paintings for the next show, that I’ll probably make in my hometown or in Stockholm.

When I’ll get more used to this new routine of working in the gallery, I’m sure I’ll find a way to balance the creativity with self-discipline and fun time. I know I have to work harder than this to make it, but I have to continue to take one step at a time. Otherwise, I’m just gonna end up being overwhelmed and exhausted. And I won’t allow that to happen again. This time, things will be done in the right way, in the right order. This time, I know so much more about myself and  about my creativity than I did before. I’ll make the past failures work as a guideline for my future success.

Sad stuff from the time I couldn’t make art

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Drawing from 2013

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FROM MY DIARY:

September 10th 2013

“Dear art.

Where have you gone? I miss you so much. We are one. You are me – and I am you. You are my voice and my best friend. You helped me when I needed it the most and you pushed me out of the big depression in 2008, I know it was all your doing and I am so grateful. But lately, I’ve been having all kinds of new feelings towards life, myself and – you. So we could start over, forget about depressions and gloomy things and just go nuts, what do you say?”

January 4th 2014

“My darling, it’s silly that we should avoid each other like this. I know things have been very awkward and painful between us for a long time – but I’ve never lost my hope about us. Remember the magic we created together? All that glorious beauty and powerful statements? I think about all the times we pushed paint around on the canvas together. A thousand shades of pink. Baby blues. Mars Black. And the warm flowing colors of fire. I feel curious about how it would be like to meet somewhere again. We have both changed I’m sure. We are older, wiser, survived great pains and passions that have carved our characters into new shapes and temperament. I long for you. I miss you. And I miss us. Will you connect with me once more, if I asked you? I know we still got it. I can feel it within myself, the sparks and fireworks when we connect. I am here for you, waiting for you, as I have been for many years. I will be in my studio tomorrow. If you come to me, I will love you for as long as you need me. Let’s tell our stories. Come to me my love. Tomorrow.”

May 30th 2014

“Dear art.

Its been a while since I wrote a letter to you. But this time I have something important to tell you. I can see how I have forced myself upon you, how I’ve tried to use to just to make money and how brutally I have treated you because I’ve been too stubborn and my ego is too big. I know I’ve been hating you, even wanting us to part forever. I’ve used my frustration to push you away because the pain has been unbearable at times.

I hope to hear from you soon.

/Mia”

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Can you now understand how wonderful it is for me to finally be able to unleash all the creativity I have inside me?

7 years later.

A new direction

I took the day off to rest. I’ve been working hard on the painting this week and I’m a little rusty – it’s been a long time since I was able to have this kind of deep focus. I get easily drained. But I am not complaining,  I feel really happy. My mojo is working, I feel sexual and inhibited while painting, even though the painting is very controlled and well balanced. But there is so much happening inside me. At night I have these dreams where I’m finding new rooms in my house,  rooms I didn’t know about.  That’s how it feels like inside me right now. I’m finding new space to occupy. New land to conquer. More of me.

I’m letting go of all the bad energies, I’m not holding on to any anger, regret or bitterness. Perhaps that’s why I’m taking this painting in a new direction. The original theme was rage, but it’s just not there anymore. I’m trying out some new things, both in my technique and in the themes. I have such a big treasure chest of a private mythology now since all those years in therapy. The symbols of the mythology is slowly getting integrated in my art. It is really exciting. My new art is more personal. I feel naked, but in the best of ways.

I finally have a title for my new work – “The Core”, and I think it’s a transitional piece. Something that has both my past and my future in it. A new Era is coming and a new artistic language is emerging from my core. I’ll let it speak up. Loudly and proudly.

Turning shame into pride

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This week has been really intense. I’m in this new place where everything is finally starting to come together. My life has been really fragmented for so long, but now it’s like all the pieces are finding their way back to create a more solid shape. There are still some cracks and gaps to fill, but it’s just a matter of time until I find whatever is missing.

I am really happy I made so much research about shame, vulnerability and fear of failure/success, because they were all tangled up together inside me – one thing fed the other in a very destructive way. I feel so liberated. Where I used to feel shame, I now feel a sense of pride. I had lost the joy of looking at my own art – it made me embarrassed and uncomfortable. But now I feel very connected to my artworks and I feel happy looking at them. During the years of blockages and artistic drought, the characters in my art turned into my enemies. They were never as perfect as I wanted them to be. Not expressive enough. Not as alive as I wished they could be. My art made me frustrated. It pissed me off. Made me depressed. I don’t see it like that anymore. I feel really proud of what my mind, eyes, hands and soul can create together. I try to not judge it and to let it be whatever it is without wanting it to be more than it is; more perfect, more expressive, cooler, more playful, creative or more intellectual. It is what it is and I created it, it is part of me. It is something to be proud about. It is the part of me that makes me really special. I will try to remember that more.

The new painting (still without a title) is sitting on the easel in my studio right now and I am in love with it. I can’t wait to work on it tomorrow again. I’ve missed this feeling of love and intoxication in the first stages of making a painting (before you feel done with it and start thinking about the next project).

Day 1

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Work in progress

It’s the first day of my new journey where my creativity is the main focus. I’ve been painting again for the first time in a very long time. All the hard work I’ve put into my self-empowerment has paid off. The anxiety is gone. It was there whenever I stood in front of the easel for over 6 years. Today it felt smooth and easy to paint. I wasn’t scared, I didn’t feel any pressure and my mojo created that sweet flow I’ve been longing for. I started with the face, like I always do. For the first time I gave my Lolita demon green eyes, the same shade as mine. Perhaps my art will be more personal from now on. I feel so much closer to myself now. More connected. I’m sure it will be visible in my future creative projects as well.

I tried to create time blocks so I could practice self-discipline and focus without distractions. One hour at a time, where I’m totally focused on what I’m doing – no multi tasking, no looking at my phone or talking to other people. After an intense hour I take a little break and then go back for another hour of intense painting. I think it will work.

I’m so drained. My eyes hurt. I will rest now and continue painting tomorrow.

I feel really happy.

I can hear the demons whispering

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Something is happening inside me. I can feel new life running through my veins. Fresh blood. An intoxicating rush of red rivers underneath the surface. The essence of my life. Red. Glowing. Beating. Like it should be.

The sensuality of spring is inspiring. The newness of time, the texture of growth, the birth of a season – of life itself. A thin veil of protection, then exposed and raw in its delicacy. True vulnerability is the source of any greatness. I close my eyes but my world stays intact – there’s no darkness behind the light. Not even a shadow.

I can sense new artworks being born inside my mind like soft dreams but with such clarity that I immediately surrender to it’s pull. I hear my demons whispering inside. I am about to give birth to new life – just like momma spring. I can feel it. They want out of me. And they will take little pieces of pain with them – pain that will never return to my inner world.

Redefining my “creativity blockage”

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Some of the artworks I’ve done during my so called “creativity blockage” (I couldn’t make  them all fit). This makes me confused – this is what creativity blockages looks like?…

One of the best things about the human mind is that we have the power to change the way we look at things – and the new perspective will present us to a whole new world. We can go from being in a bad place to a good place. We can be sad and then something will make us laugh. We can be wrapped in negativity – but if we untangle ourselves from the gloomy and judgmental mindset, we are able to see things from a more positive viewpoint. This what I’ve been doing lately, and it’s definitely becoming my new hobby.

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I got this new easel as a birthday gift when I turned 30. That’s when I just stopped having fun when I was painting, and the creativity process turned into a struggle – and 6 months later, I stopped working all together. I felt blocked, and it would last for almost 7 years.

I have been thinking a lot about my creativity blockage lately. I don’t feel blocked anymore – I am simply waiting for the right time to start working in my studio again. I want to feel ready. I am almost there now. The creativity blockage lasted almost 7 years, but was it really a blockage, perhaps it was something else?

It felt like I was in a war with myself. Forcing ideas, self-loathing, wanting to change my style because I thought it wasn’t good enough, feeling disgusted by every single brush stroke that seemed wrong, the stress, the identity crises – who was I when I wasn’t making art? I also saw my career slip away – and I let it happen. Since I consider my art to be an extension of myself – a big part of me was missing. I felt cut in half. I felt amputated. I felt desperate and confused. And very sad. It was almost like a friend had died. I felt nauseous just walking into my studio. I felt scared. Scared of the constant failures. I worked. I cried. I screamed. I hated whatever I was working on. It always ended with me painting over the thing with black paint and then throwing it in the garbage. And then I cried and screamed some more. It was the worst kind of torture an artist can imagine.
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Stockholm, 2011 – one of the most painful years of my life. My creativity had abandoned me – or was it me who had abandoned my creativity and perhaps even myself?

I wrote this in my diary in 2010:

“It is more natural for me to not create now than to be creative. My paint and brushes are stored away in transparent boxes and waiting for this paralysis to disappear so I can use them again. 

It’s like all of me is in this invisible, transparent storage box that separates me from my true identity, and from my desire to create. A coffin if you like. For I feel dead in so many ways. It is not an exaggeration or emotional debauchery – but an honest feeling that is rooted deep inside in my core. ” 

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The making of “My Neighborhood”, 2012 about the three buildings where I lived together with the abuser.

2012 was a real turning point for me. I was diagnosed with PTSD and that’s when I began my inner journey in trauma therapy treatment. I slowly began to come undone – and layer after layer of pain and fear started to melt away. Things started to make sense and I could see that everything in my life was all wrong. My relationship, the environment, my behavior, feelings and thoughts. Everything. I could see that I had abandoned myself completely. I knew I had to change everything in my life. I knew I had to be brave enough to say goodbye to everything I had ever known to be real and true.
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Now I am here. Living a new life. With a new way of looking at things. And I have decided to look at my creativity blockage as something that was painful but so very helpful. When I stopped painting in 2010 – I didn’t really stop making art all together – instead I was exploring digital art. I didn’t really consider it art at that time. I was just playing around in PhotoShop. But with time, I got really good at it. During my creativity blockage, 2009-2016 I’ve made over 70 digital artworks. I am considered to be one of the finest digital artist in my genre. In 2013 my digital artwork “The Crash” was included in an all-digital group show at Strychnin Gallery in Berlin.
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When I put my career to sleep I suddenly had all this time to spend on myself. If I hadn’t been blocked I would never had the time to work so hard to overcome the PTSD and the traumas. I would still have all that cluttered chaos inside my mind. I feel very grateful to myself that I had the courage to change everything I needed to change in order for me to be happy again. It’s been such a long journey. I’ve also had the time to ask myself what I want to do with my life, who I want to be and what really matters to me and what I can live without. And now I have found a more honest place for my creativity. My art will be more personal from now on. It’s been an incredible time of awakening and self-empowerment. I feel very lucky to have reconnected with my core again. Through the process of growth and enlightenment I have also found my true love.
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With Johnny, 2015

When I look back the creativity blockage I can see it wasn’t so much an artistic blockage as it was a self-abandonment. Somewhere along the way, I stopped believing in myself. I was punished by haters and started to project their hate onto myself. I shrunk into myself. I started to believe I wasn’t even worthy of my own success. No wonder I just stopped working as an artist.

I am slowly reclaiming my creativity, my talents, my strength and my success. I have learned so much from this involuntary hiatus and I will use it as experience to add to my future career. And I will never abandon myself again. Ever.
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And when I look at all the artworks I’ve done during this blockage (around 150) I can’t help but smiling. THAT was a blockage – really?

The destructive doubt

Step by step, I am deconstructing myself in order to find understanding and acceptance. In each step, I am healing a little bit more. During a period of only a year or so, I’ve dismantled old survival strategies, destructive behavioral patterns, I’ve demolished false self-images, fantasies, old belief systems, I’ve explored and confronted concepts such as fear, guilt, shame, control, power, anxiety, worry, vulnerability, dependency, suffering, trauma, sexuality, trust, home, integrity, thinking styles, health, strength, awareness, destructive relationships, freedom, victimization, law of attraction, peace of mind, meditation, letting go, starting over, change, psychological projections, the core, self sabotage, happiness, creativity, failure, success, pride, connection, mental paralysis and passivity – and love.

It’s been hard work. A LOT of hard work. And after I’ve filled nearly 15 notebooks with therapy notes and self-therapy notes, in only two years – I’ve cleaned my inside from the chaos and pain of two traumas. The pain will always be there of course, but it’s not an active pain. I think I have to write a book about all this – I want to share my knowledge, especially with younger women who could identify with what I’ve been going through.

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My latest challenge and concept to break down – so I can get to the core of it and apply that knowledge to my consciousness and awareness – is ‘doubt’ – or self-doubt. And I think it’s the essential ingredient in most self destructive thoughts, behavior and perception. Whenever there is a doubt – there is a sense of loss. A loss of belief, trust, acceptance or faith. And if we’re talking about the belief, trust and faith in oneself, the doubt will lead to insecurities and suffering. It’s the moment where you start to doubt yourself that can lead to damaging decisions – or the consequences of not making one at all.

Imagine the doubt as a meteorite coming right at you. Now imagine its impact – and how it will change your thoughts, behavior and feelings just like a crater changes the surface of the Earth. The doubt-meteorite is an interruption of a flow of thoughts and behavior – and a disruption in our confidence and self-esteem. This is very destructive.

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The impact of the doubt-meteorie will create thoughts like “am I good enough?”, “perhaps their abuse is my fault after all?”, “am I really worthy of love and happiness?”, “could somebody really love me?”, “can I really do this?”, “what will other people think of me?”

Every doubt comes with a little fear. To overcome self-doubt – we need to examine that fear in order to rebuild whatever it destroyed inside us. Doubt can be good and can carry a lot of important information – like if we have doubts about a relationship, situation, a job or in things we know we need to change in order to be happy. But self-doubt is nothing but destructive. Believing in yourself and the things you do, will protect you from the any approaching meteorite inside your mind.

Killing distractions

Last night with my friend Jasmina, talking about self-empowerment and changes.

I am still mentally preparing myself to really focus on my art again. I feel like an athlete, warming up before a big performance. Part of this preparation is to be aware of distractions, and kill them, one by one, in order to create a clean space, both mentally and physically, where it’s just me and my creativity. It’s harder than I thought it would be. It’s like most of every day life is about distractions. Random thoughts and worry about things that are out of my control –  I call this behavior‘mindlessness’ (the opposite of mindfulness). But it’s also the constant checking my email, Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. I call this ‘dumb-dumb-time’ because it’s just a random, mindless routine without any purpose at all. It’s such a waste of time – but yet so easy to get sucked into and suddenly you’ve been scrolling and scrolling away precious time you could have used on something more important.

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I don’t watch TV, but I do spend a lot of time binge watching TV-series which is OK but not during the best hours of the day. I will need to change my routines. I stopped watching regular TV 10 years ago, and it’s such a big relief – I used to be a slave to the weekly TV schedule and had to interrupt whatever I was doing to watch a show. Now, I am also free of disgusting TV commercials. It’s like a detox when it comes to manipulations.

Killing distractions is like vacuum the every day life. To clean out all those things without any good in them, or at least minimizing it. I need to stop being lazy and sacrifice the false sense of ‘freedom’ I feel when I’m not doing anything. That kind of ‘freedom’ just makes me a slave to my meaningless and passive routines  and stupid habits. And a guilty conscious about what I should be doing instead. I am also cleaning out self-doubt, bad self-esteem, negative energy and negative thoughts. I’m learning how to stop caring about other people’s judgments and idiocy – it just creates a victim mentality anyway. Totally toxic and destructive.

I will keep working on this new mindset. I’m on a killing spree – and I’ll get each and every of those distractions which are standing between me and the focus I need to be one with my creativity again.

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The importance of role models

Made with Square InstaPic Some of my favourite role models: Anne Shirley (the main character in L.M Montgomery’s novel Anne of Green Gables), Ingmar Bergman, J.K Rowling, Pippi Longstocking, Frida Kahlo and Edvard Munch.

Last week I made a list of my role models, to see if they have anything in common – and what that would say about me. What I found was actually quite surprising. My role models are a mix of artists, fictitious characters and creative personalities (I also included some scientists like Stephen Hawking and the whole institution of NASA. The Weta Workshop in New Zealand is the perfect example of the meeting point –where creativity, imagination, absolute dedication and respect for make-believe worlds come together) but they did have a great deal in common.

Most of them are survivors of both internal and external struggles; depression, anxiety, overcoming illnesses or some kind physical purgatory but also the struggle of maintaining their core beliefs and integrity in a society which doesn’t allow much space for that kind of genuine spiritual freedom. They refuse to victimize themselves although they are emotionally or physically crippled in some way – instead they embrace vulnerability and use it as a source of raw material to put into their work. Almost like a testimony of human nature – somewhere between the horror and supernaturalism of life itself.

My role models are ambitious, curious and focused and all that is woven into their creativity. They use it boldly to express themselves and to be seen in a world with closed eyes for whatever is painted outside the lines of conformity and any approved ideology. They are brave and courageous in that sense. As a teenager, I was obsessed with Madonna and her song Express Yourself was like my own private anthem of who I wanted to become and what I wanted to achieve in life; “Express yourself, so you can respect yourself”. My role models are individualists who are celebrating their true nature instead of hiding it behind mainstream ideals and ideas of appropriate decorum, perfectionism and conformity. They follow their own path. Uncompromisingly. They do things in unconventional ways and add humor and depth to it. Like Pippi and the way she goes about scrubbing her wooden floor. The boring task of house cleaning turns into a fun adventure. It is liberating.

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 The most striking feature my role models have in common – is their need to create magic. Reality can be harsh, raw and unforgivably hard at times – and the antidote is and has always been the product of human imagination. Religion, occultism and the fantasy worlds of artists, writers, musicians, dancers and actors have served as escapism and vicarious truth and realities since the dawn of humanity. Nietzsche claimed that “no artist tolerates reality”.

Anne Shirley in L.M Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables (1908) creates her own magical worlds which allows her to escape the painful reality of being an orphan – and the misfortune of being a misfit with a deeper intellect and more vivid imagination than society allowed for a young girl at the time (doomed with red hair and all).

The need for instant transcendence and transformation is translated in the artist’s imagination and creativity as a gateway to a higher level of living and existing. A ‘homemade’ space of total freedom and a place where magic is allowed to happen without any threatening consequences and the adamant qualities of real life.

The artist creates a Universe in which he/she is both God and the vulnerable mortal, but with a sense of control of his/her own destiny. Like Alexander in the opening scene of Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander (1982) where he is seeking magic beyond his own boredom of passing time (and ultimately the waste of life).

The results of my research about role models really surprised me –  I suddenly realized how much of them I can see in myself. I share a lot of qualities and strength that I admire and respect in these people. It kind of shocked me to see how much of them was reflected within myself. I am ambitious, brave, creative, I too am overcoming traumas and hard times without accepting the role of a permanent victim. I am searching for that spiritual freedom by following my own path. And I never thought I would discover just how important magic is to me. It made me think of the years of creativity blockages and mental paralysis – where I created my own worlds of magic at home – with interior decorating almost like backdrops or settings – where my imagination could run wild and free, until I was able to create art again (any moment now).

My “winter room” (which was featured in a local interior decorating magazine) in 2009:

and this is in my next home, a house in Stockholm, it’s the same room that I just kept transforming over and over again (2009-2014):

It is important to examine our role models and what they stand for – because it will expose something very vital about ourselves. They are there to remind us who we really are, beyond all the crap we are going through in life. They are our spiritual family where everything makes sense in the most comforting way.

And once in a while I get messages like this on Facebook:

Learning how to say “Fuck it!”

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I’m slowly making progress in my process of self-empowerment.
I’ve made so much research about fear of failure – and fear of success that I now feel confident in my awareness about these mattes (both my weaknesses and my resources and strength) and I feel ready to embrace failure and welcome the benefits of making mistakes in order to become wiser and better at things.

“People who succeed have the courage to fail.”

– Richard Sudek

But the most important and valuable thing I’ve learned about fear of failure – and success, is to say “fuck it!” when it comes to what other people think or say about me and what I do. To not apologize for who I am or for the decisions I make in order to reach success. To not censor myself in order to make other people feel more comfortable or superior And to not feel responsible for other people’s opinions and judgment. Just “fuck it!” – I am who I am and I feel damn proud of myself! I’ve accomplished many amazing things already and I will achieve so many victories and successes in my future. The shame and humiliation of a possible failure – or the fear of being punished for being successful is slowly fading.

Fuck it!

Goal Blocks

I’m currently planning my comeback as an artist and and the long journey to success by breaking down the essential steps to be able to be more creative and to rebuild my career after the 7-year hiatus (due to creative blockages and being all burned out). It is important to do this slowly and methodically, otherwise I am putting my health and my whole future career at risk. If I rush it, I will just end up burned out again. It is frustrating, but I accept it – and now it’s just a matter of improving my self-esteem before I can get into that focus and flow that is necessary when striving for success.

In his book Outliers; The Story Of Success (2008), Malcom Gladwell states that it takes 10 000 hours of practice and preparations before you become really, really good at something – and add talent and a willingness to work extremely hard to that and you’ve got the recipe for success. Here is the ironic part: while being depressed and passive in my art career for so many years, I haven’t really been completely passive when it comes to creating art.

Because I couldn’t paint anymore (I just completely froze, every time I stood in front of the easel), I started to explore digital art instead and I’ve practiced and learned so much during these years and I’ve become really, really good. Since I started digging deeper into the digital media in 2012 during my creativity blockage, I’ve created over 60 digital artworks! While I was crying and being depressed because I couldn’t paint – I was slowly became an expert of making digital art. Funny.

And, I’ve also spent at least an hour every day writing on my blog – and I’ve been blogging for 11 years now, which may not be a big achievement in itself, but I have become very good at expressing myself through writing. It feels completely natural for me to write every day now – just as natural as painting or creating digital pieces.

And finally – if I hadn’t been depressed and creatively passive during these last 7 years, I wouldn’t have spent so much time binge watching so many American movies and TV-series and become this good at English.

So it all worked out fine in the end. I might have lost many years working as a successful artist – but now,  I’ve collected knowledge, practice and cleaned the mental palette of old energy, mannerism and distorted self-images. I’ve grown and matured both as a person and as an artist.

At some point 7 years ago, I just stopped believing in myself – and that is the true death to an artist or any creative person. I will never make that mistake again. Nothing and nobody can stop me from achieving all my goals and dreams now. This is my time to not only rebuild my old career – but to design and create a new one.

Slowly.

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A slow process

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Suddenly I don’t know what to write here. I have so much to tell you., but perhaps I’ll save it all for a future book, I don’t know. What I’ve gone through these last few years has been overwhelming and fascinating. A journey from being totally lost within myself to a place of inner peace and enlightenment.

But I’m not gonna stop writing or posting. I still have a lot to tell you here. I am still slowly approaching my art and my creativity. And it’s a big deal for me. I have to say that I never thought it would be so hard to come back after being burned out and blocked. It’s all connected to losing the connection to myself and my core, but as long as I am making progress in my self therapy work, I am also getting closer to my creativity -and I’m finally losing the heavy weight of expectations, self doubt and the feeling of constant failure when things are not going my way.

I can only paint for a few hours until I’m drained and tired. But it’s OK, I’ve accepted it and surrendered to this slow process of finding the right energy and focus I need to be able to get into the wonderful flow of creating. I really miss it.

The Smile Room

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I spend my days trying to move forward in every area of my life. Mentally, emotionally, sexually, artistically, romantically, spiritually and practically. I get drained easily.  It’s so much hard work I’m doing at once. But it has to be done and nobody can do it for me. I am no longer a victim of my past, but an explorer of my future. I understand that I have to take a ‘real job’ in order for my career to get started – I am simply too broke to work as an artist right now. I wouldn’t even be able to afford having any art shows.  It’s very hard for me to adapt to the real world outside my own studio. I am not equipped with the social skills that is required – I don’t even know how to act normal, I mean, to tame my wild brain and to just go with the flow without rebelling against every single rule that someone else has set up for me to follow. I wish I could get brainwashed and become fit for a non creative job so I could get the damn money I need to get my career going again. I feel frustrated, and my ego is bruised. But I have to get back into the art world again, and there is no other way to get there.

But I am not complaining. I feel happier than ever – stronger – but also more vulnerable and naked in front of myself. The self therapy work I am doing about shame is really helpful. I’ve never realized how much shame I’ve been carrying around with me. I’m also making research about the connection between shame and humiliation and guilt and punishment – and I have found some very shocking truths about myself. I love when I shock myself  like that. It’s called a psychological breakthrough and that’s when I know I am on the right track. Where I am moving past something, when I am moving forward and beyond.

I talk to my boyfriend in California every night. It’s funny how the phone line has such a perfect and clear sound, no static noise or interruptions – yet we have an ocean and half a planet between us. But only that. Emotionally we are so connected and entangled in each other that it feels just like skin on skin – but on the inside. I fall asleep with a smile. I wake up with another.

My mind has opened a door to a smile room I didn’t know existed before. Or maybe it’s in my heart. I am not sure.

I have the love – and a new sense of inner strength. The only thing I don’t have right now –  is money.

Staring into the eyes of life

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Georges de La Tour, La Madeleine à la veilleuse,  1640 – 1645

I am trying to focus on my art again, but I am constantly being interrupted by this overwhelming feeling of being really present in myself – and how that feeling is weaving itself in every moment, and ironically I’m suddenly not sure if I am present in the moment or just within myself and detached from the world outside my own mind. But everything feels different now. I used to be withdrawn because I lived inside my head – now I am living with it as a great companion trying to figure out how to relate to the world. I am centered, but not in the state of just being – I am still layers away from connecting to the real divinity inside myself. The place where fear doesn’t exist – a place where I am accepting everything about myself, the situations I am going through and people, without any judgments or desire to control any of it. I’ve learned that being in control is to accept not having any control at all – and to embrace that notion instead of being intimidated by it.

For the first time in my life I am also exploring how I feel about my own mortality. I used to live so close to the  darkness that I thought Death was just another word for Life. But now I live in a perfect greyscale – and for the first time I am actually scared to die and to lose the people I love. It was so much easier to live in the dark where loss was an everyday experience in some way or another. I lost my dignity so many times a day, my self respect, my value as a human being, I lost my creativity, I lost faith in myself as an artist and I lost myself over and over again. There is nothing more painful in this life than self abandonment because every external abandonment becomes unbearable – then you don’t have anything, not even yourself. I am grateful for having rescued myself – from myself.

I am going through an overwhelming process of healing and being in love with another soul that I connect with in every way possible. I am filled with warm clouds – and so much hope.