The sound of steps on new ground

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A week in the clouds

Now it is almost two weeks since I, Torunn, Astrid and Andrine travelled to New York together. I must admit that there already is a bit unreal that we were there, among the skyscrapers, and I think we all agreed that New York is a city we would visit again. Since I traveled to Baltimore to meet Elizabeth, I lost two days. I also spent one Sunday shopping in New Jersey, on a large shopping center just outside the city. In spite of this, I got the chance to go to Broadway (Phantom of the Opera), walk on times square, took a boat trip around Manhattan island, walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, took the subway to random stops, and took the elevator up the Empire State building. We also ate at different restaurants recommended from Tripadvisor, and on the way to the last restaurant we went to, an American actually asked me if I knew what it was, although he had been there before . We talked to each other while we walked togehter, and by coincidence he was placed right beside the table where my friends waited for me. This was in fact the restaurant that had the best food.
The very last day, when we should fly home in the evening, we also had the chance to see a little more of the city.
I had to find a scrapbook store and went by myself again. I proudly found the “the ink pad” (it is terribly easy to find in New York, so I had a good time with my map reading.) where I found so much great stuff that I almost got tears in my eyes. My ATM-card also shed some tears when it involuntarily got $ 300 leaner, but since our community believes dieting, so do I.
Is there anything negative to say about New York, you might wonder? I am sure there will be something, and I also have to mention something myself. What I found a bit annoying, was how everyone was kind of precisionist. I do not really know whether this attitude should be attributed to New York in itself, but I will mention it.
The first thing was when we were at a restaurant recommended by TripAdvisor. I did not bring my passport or driving license, naturally enough, since I am terrible at keeping my things in place. Considering that I`ve lost my passport before, I’m not very keen to experience it again. I brought my ATM-card , and I thought this would suffice.
But when I and my friend Torunn wanted to order a glass of red wine to the food, problems arose. To our disbelief, we saw that they “had to check the cards”.
With many “I` m so sorry ” the owner of the Restaurant at last came back with the cards in her hand, and told us the issued ID was not good enough. Andrine and Astrid had a driving license and were served what they wanted. I felt like a two-year old, and did not like that. Exactly there and then I felt irritation from the meaningless adherence to the rules tapping the door for my facial expressions, but I calmed down any frown by remembering that Americans have been through trauma (9/11), and this might have led to paranoia which is perfectly understandable.

Three cute girls on top of the Empire S. From the left:Torunn, Andrine and Astrid

The same paranoia had stretched all the way to Maryland, where the same thing happened again. I and Elizabeth were on the Annapolis Maritime Museum, but after going through a security check (I saw many of these in the U.S.) we were told that I couldn`t get in, since I did not bring my Norwegian passport, which meant they couldn`t know who I was. The lady who said this had a stern, serious voice, so we cleverly pulled back, while I quelled the familiar rebellion over what I found an inflexible system.

Some politicans have said: If we are to protect you, it can lead to restriction of freedom.

Bought from ‘ the ink pad “
English: From top left: Midtown Manhattan, Uni...
English: From top left: Midtown Manhattan, United Nations headquarters, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Times Square, the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows – Corona Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Lower Manhattan with the Staten Island Ferry (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I think this was the difference between USA and Norway that was most clear.
Another cultural difference, was how people approached one another. I found that people were more “themselves” than I`m used to in regards to the Scandinavian countries. People didn`t seem to be afraid of talking to strangers or to show real emotions. If somebody was in a foul mood, it did not seem they tried to cover this with a smile. An example is when I asked a women in a box outside the subway about the system she shouted to me in anger: “Look at my ugly face while I explain this” when my eyes started to wanter in another direction.
A different lady in another hatch screamed at my friend Astrid when I, Andrine and Torunn went through an open gate next to the subway entrance, since we had suitcases that didn`t go through. In Norway we don`t watch the gates, and if we had the people working there would probably have let us through without a fuss, but in USA it is apparently different.
Again, I have to remember that they were really afraid after 9/11, and that might make them extra careful about certain things ( .
I collect refrigerator-magnets, and have already added the two I bought in NY
Overall I had an amazing trip. I liked that the city was so diverse: That you can find and do just about anything. It was also fun to travel with friends, and even through I often lacked sleep (poor room-mates, who had a difficult time sleeping themselves since I took a shower early in the morning or when I wrote on my blog early the morning).
My mood was still raised through the trip, and I feel extremly lucky to have seen this magnificent city.

The sound of a defensive arrow

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My fingers are freezing. Several people around me are sitting with their sleeves drawn down as far as possible, to keep the trinkets of warmth alive. The air-condition is spitting out its icy message: ‘I’ll make sure no drop of sweat manifests itself on your forehead’. I register it and think about the irony. Outside it’s actually quite warm, much warmer than it would be in Norway, but it seems people would rather feel cold than warm. I’m at the bus from Baltimore to New York and have for three hours read a book about self-harm.

Reflections are important for me

Several times I had to just stop and let my eyes rest on the view, since some emotions rose in me. It was some sense of happiness, growing in me after reading about different treatment-approachs ( to self-harm and problems with emotion regulation).

I also grew fond of the author, because of his integrity and obvious respect for his patients. He truly cares about them all, and this compassion awakened his ability to creative new thoughts that elegantly weaves into well-known models. He made them rich partly because they associated with other ideas. Together this was pure mind-candy for my psychology-hungry state of mind (who said not working was great?).
The spider-web of associations made my thoughts light up with memories of people I’ve met. So many of them have shown me love, and I feel gratitude curling itself like a cotton nest in my stomach.

The reason for putting the book aside and writing down this now, was because I read about a lovely metaphor that I just had to share with you. My heart immediately reacted with speeding up its heavy thuds, since what I read made perfect sense and resonated within me.
Maybe you will like it as much as me ?

Defensive walls in a bloody war

Imagine a wall def20130916-173515.jpgending a city. In the book this safety-precaution was compared to the defensive walls in the movie ‘the lord of the rings’. In one battle scene a city is on the brink of invasion by the orks. This means that every boy and man have go into battle regardless of their preferences or experiences. Even a little boy, shaking in his boots so that the too huge helmet clatter, must defend the city against the enemy. Everything looks hopeless until the elves suddenly appear. They help them so they survive and win, but only until they can fight for themselves.

Different constructions
The author of the book compares the war to defense. Their defense is iron-wrought pillars gathered from cuts that colored its surface. Sometimes their enemies (thoughts, emotions, memories or people they can’t trust) are lurking and they try to cement their construction with the few materials and resources they got or collected. Examples of the defensive actions can be to distract the beasts with carving their skin, believing this piece of art will awaken the hunger of the beasts. Like martyrs they settle for contributing what little they know and can do.

If the enemy has been inoculated against bloody fingerprints the fierce fighters can jump over the walls in full destruction-mode (By acting out and possibly hurting both friend and foe). As the enemies draw closer,the unexperienced heroes of war, become afraid and desperate. This in turn colors the type of defensive strategy they unmask. Often they go from mental to continually concrete and physical types of defense (from denial and avoidance to self-harm or violence). Ignoring the orks will sadly mean feeding the orks with their souls. For an eternity.

Is it really strange that they use the only defense they can think off when it looks like the20130917-093800.jpg walls will not hold ? When one feel control slipping away, ‘irrational things’ like cutting themselves might be the only mechanism they had that brought relief.

Think about the samurai’s from Japan: By killing themselves, they didn’t have to face the shame of losing against their enemies. Further; What about all the lovely people who tries to hide their ‘dark’ emotions because they think people will shunt them if not? Isn’t it understandable that instead of letting other respond to their emotion, they rather run away from it than to face it, especially when considering the addition burden of trauma many have in their pasts?

A child who misbehaves and gets punished for it might harvest their own baskets of anger. Is it strange they can be terrified of their parents ‘discovering’ they’ve been cutting their skin, when they sometimes believe they always do wrong and deserve what they get?
What can we therapists do ?

When a patients shows you the honor of telling about their shameful thoughts and actions, try to not be the ‘enemy’ who wants to breach the walls. Let them see that you come in peace, and wait until they feel safe enough to look over the wall for a bit, thereby letting us discover their battle scars from earlier war-zones. Remember that they naturally can be extremely sensitive and guarded after such experiences .

It’s sometimes easier to attack first than risking getting an arrow in your heart, and our job is to respect that and fight along with them, just like the elves.


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More on self-harm

Sofia Åkerman, Humanist forlag 2011
-En selvbiografi om spiseforstyrrelser og selvskading-

other Norwegian pages: – informasjonskanal for ungdom
Drevet av barne-, ungdoms- og familiedirektoratet

Psykisk Helse i Skolen
Opplæringsprogrammer i psykisk helse

Si det med ord
Drives av interesseorganisasjonen Mental Helse Norge.
Lavterskeltjenester for mennesker som trenger noen å snakke med eller skrive til.

Klara Klok
Spørreside for ungdom og unge voksne i aldersgruppen 10 – 30



To Elizabeth

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Sometimes mere words are not enough to explain the effect certain people can have on you. The moments that forever stick to your memory might be little things like a smile, a gentle touch or something said with warmth. Sometimes these little examples start adding up until there Read the rest of this entry »

The sound of beautiful music

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Dear Elizabeth

Happy birthday!

I want to dedicate this post to a girl who means the world to me. I was so lucky that I got the chance to meet her in June, and I cannot underline how much that meant to me. She lives in Baltimore, but our friendship is close no matter how many oceans separates us. She works as a pianist, and plays a lot of concert in addition to teaching. Her whole family are hard-working musicians, so they have travelled together many times to create moments of magical music.  

Some years ago, I  just knew her from description, and I didn`t know more than to make an unclear picture. Shrouded in mystery, and undiscovered by me.  At that time, I wasn`t too eager to study the picture in detail.  

A true beauty, in heart, mind and appearance

ElToday I see the picture clearly, and have realized that she truly is an uncommon piece of art. She is like those paintings you put in the central rooms, so that everyone can admire the beauty.

Her beauty is not just physical, but also mental. Mixing an unbelievable kindness together with a brilliant mind, has lead to a rare kind of woman. She is that woman one feel privileged to have encountered, and that woman one can never forget.  

I have now known Elizabeth for four months, but I feel like we share a lifetime together. I have been lucky, and have really got to know her, and I have had the chance to let her soft words soften my pain.  I want to jump up and down in the air when she finishes a new project, and want to put myself in the middle if someone should try to hurt her. She is so full of compassion that mother Teresa would have been envious, and tops that off with talents, intelligence and a wonderful way of sharing her thoughts.

She takes time, when there is none. In a period this summer, she had literally not ONE evening that she could use with friends or herself. She has still made time for yoga, thinking about her life, in addition to produce music, teaching her students, arranging concerts, travelling to another countries and helping her family. And still, she often feels she should have done more.

She described the hectic period herself:  

It is something of an event childbirth. The pre-birth pains are awful (though tinged with some excitement), there are moments of fear, the experience is overwhelming, but it brings something really joyous into the world. 

Me & Elizabeth

Thank you for giving me so much hope and happiness when I needed it most. By just listening without pointing fingers and making me feel bad, you made me realize, I still deserve to be on this earth. You are a natural «helper» who automatically knows how to respond, and in addition you have a gift that you luckily share with the world every day. Its heart-warming to see, how your eyes sparkle when you talk about experiences, and I am very proud of everything you have accomplished these lasts months.

You have so many good sides, but you don`t see them in the dark. Don`t you know you are a girl who cries because others have suffered? Remember when you heard this song and told me about the suffering people had endured in the war? You see others like no-one else, but are not conscious enough when it comes to your own beauty. You strive for perfection at work and in life, but don`t see that you were perfect from the beginning.

You love too teach, and feel pride every time your students move forward on the road you have made for them.


Here is a little story, if people still don`t see what I mean: She once played the piano for a men dying of ca

ncer (lymphoma),  He wanted to hear classical music for the last time, and she said yes to 

play for him. While she played, her tears streamed since she could see how much it meant to him. She made it special.

Elizabeth, you are one of those stars that shines with a strange intensity. Your energy spreads its warm wings over those around you.

I care for her very much and hope you will shine like you never have before. You have so many wonderful years ahead of you, and I will be there if clouds try to hide your light.

One of her performances, together with her brother


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on facebook:

Borowsky: Northern Lights

Her own blog:
Around the World On 88 Keys