10 years of Em

Ten years ago I was a 10-year-old swedish kid with new bangs (didn't we all want to be hannah montana at some point?) that looked awful because my hair wanted to be curly.

So beanies were my thing. And stripes were also my thing. Glasses were not my thing because they were annoying and so ugly, ugh.

But most importantly, I had just watched Pirates of the Caribbean for the first time; our parents hadn't bough the newest Harry Potter movie yet so I cheated and only read The Half-Blood Prince because I was lazy and impatient and not that much into Harry Potter anyway to read all the books (lol don't kill me); and I also wanted to be an elf because Legolas, duh.

Stories were important.

I wrote secret songs that I never told anyone about (I still do that!!) and made up stories that my classmates could read from the bookshelf in our classroom.

Back then, my storyworld was the forest behind the school. It was a cemetery for all the little dead animals I'd stumble upon and hold funerals for, but also a place of magic spells, tree-climbing, very bad archery, tragic pinecone wars, daydreams and snow castles.

I spent way too much time thinking about what other people thought about me, and often I just wanted to escape. I was a very happy, active, funny, silly child, but there was also a lot of sadness and hurt.

I was afraid of growing up, but I wanted to be older so that I could stand up for myself, help other terribly shy kids and be taken seriously for once. I wanted to say that I was going to be a storyteller without someone smiling at me in that disbelieving, condescending way.

Well... 😂 Not much has changed... But I'm on my way to becoming that woman my kid self wanted me to be. I'm on my way to becoming the person my kid self needed me to be. 

I'll embrace the journey. Life's an adventure, and I am happy to be sharing it with you.

Learning, you see, is all about being vulnerable. 

So yup. I'm a storyteller. 'Cause I want to be. Guess who's smiling now?

Aw yeah.

What I learned at three years old

The past week has been hard. Writing, filming and being with friends and having conversations with my family has been very rewarding, but I can't ignore the fact that I haven't been ok.

I don't usually talk about my dad, because it's a tricky thing to explain. I wish I could be more open about it since I'm definitely not the only one struggling with a thing like this. But it's something that causes me a lot of guilt, anxiety and stress because I feel like I can't express myself in a way that's worth sharing.

But after reaching out to get professional help for my various mental issues, I've had to face the truth that my childhood wasn't easy, and that I can't keep ignoring that I am different because of it and expecting myself to be normal.

Nobody should treat themselves like I treat myself. I need to finally allow myself to take it easy and process what I've been through, or I'll keep getting worse and worse.

On Tuesday it was seventeen years ago since my dad passed away.

And already I feel the need to clarify: I have a dad, who's very alive and who's support and love and wisdom I wouldn't survive without. He adopted me and my little sister years ago, and oh what a relief it was to finally be able to have two parents to sign permissions to go on school trips or take us to the doctor.

But even though life has been good for many years, it's been proven by research that children who have lost someone so close at such a young age go through a much longer grieving process and will most likely struggle with some sort of mental health problems.

Our brains are so vulnerable when we're young. One day my mom who's super smart and has studied this sort of stuff explained to me that my brain will probably never look like somebody's brain who didn't suffer a childhood trauma. My brain has grown differently, and while the brain is an incredible organ that constantly heals itself, mine will always be a bit broken. A bit off.

It's inevitable. Such small brains are not supposed to understand death, but I was forced to face it.

Such small hearts are not supposed to carry such a heavy burden, but mine has. And if you've lost someone, you know that burden like this keeps growing day by day if you don't take time to go through the pain and process it fully.

Yet the world is full of parentless children who suffer much worse than I do. Maybe that's one of the reasons why I haven't been willing to face my own grief, because I always compare my pain to those who are hurting so much more.

But it's like with the oxygen masks in airplanes. I can't help others before I've helped myself.

I can't pour water from an empty cup.

I was three years old, and I still remember the night my dad died. I still remember the nightmares--how I used to wake up in the middle of the night screaming my throat raw, or how I'd stare at dark shapes on the walls while I was playing with my legos, or how I used to hide in the bathroom when I was absolutely convinced that something out there was coming to hurt me, and hear angry voices yelling at me.

Is this okay to put this out on the internet?

My childhood was happy, but it was messed up and complicated.

I don't want to live in a world where any child feels the kind of fear that still causes me to tremble and sweat just trying to write about. For so long I'd pushed these strange feelings to the back of my mind and done everything I could to forget they ever existed.

Now that I'm older, I am so grateful by the amount of compassion, clarity, understanding, emotional strength and positivity all this pain has given me. It's like all the tears I've spilled have stretched my heart to be so much bigger and fit so much more love than it ever could have if it hadn't once been so full of sorrow.

When I was a child I had such a strong passion for living, no matter what I'd been through. There were many days when I was scared, angry and couldn't think clearly because my mind was so clouded by so many emotions that a kid that young shouldn't be feeling.

But on most days, I frolicked through forests, climbed trees and wrote stories about fantasy lands beyond imaginary mountains.

Moving forward is the only way to live.

And I am convinced that the main reason I write stories today is because my messed up brain wouldn't know how to live otherwise.

I don't know who I'd be today if I hadn't once been the girl without a dad.

I could even consider myself more blessed than most. See, I have two dads; one guardian angel somewhere else to watch over me, and one right here to remind me of the important things that I am meant to do, and why I have so much to give, not despite of what I've been through, but because I have been through so much.

At twenty, I can allow myself to cry myself to sleep when I miss him. I can allow myself to sit  and cry while I write about him. I can finally allow myself to sort through the memories, the flashbacks, the deep sorrow and the pain from seventeen years ago.

At three years old I learned that life is temporary. That it's short and scary and bad things happen suddenly. But now I know that love, joy and compassion are forever.

And I also know that I have a tendency to be cheesy when I try to turn something depressing and sad into something worth smiling about. But cheese is great. Happiness is cheesy. I like my life with some cheese on top.

Have a happy Saturday!

With lots of hugs and totally not tear-filled eyes,

Self-love Milkshakes

The best things don't come easy. One silly example from real life is when today I had to go buy groceries (despite feeling all sorts of under the weather both in my brain and everywhere else) because I'd been so busy during the weekend to realize I'd been running out of food. Adulting...

But the reward was making a banana chocolate milkshake when I got back home.

I'd like to say that today was a good day. In many ways it was, because I did everything I possibly could to make it that way.

I get scared when I do really well at something (being productive and writing lots), because I immediately start worrying that something has to go wrong soon. And it's really a self-fulfilling prophecy followed by a loop of negative self talk and self doubt that never ends.

But this milkshake was a way for me to show myself that I deserve good things, even on not so good days. Life can be good to me and I can treat myself kindly without worrying that the good feelings are going to end.

I feel really good about writing. Writing is such a blessing. It could be such a source of stress in my life. Writing is freaking hard!! But it's the polar opposite.

I feel so good when I get to type my thoughts out, and finally see myself. Mirrors are overrated. I reflect by watching my words. And today my words told me I needed to give myself a milkshake, for no particular reason. 

Just because I'm me.

Ha, you should see me now, self-hating Em from yesterday! Look at me and my magnificent milkshake! Nothing can bring me down! With the power of chocolate and Scrivener, I am invincible! 

Reflecting on 2018 🎆

2019 will be better...

I filmed this video on Jan 2nd, but didn't get to editing until now, because I felt it was too personal to share. I make a lot of private videos about my life and the little moments that I keep to myself, but for some reason I felt like I had to post this today. But next week you'll be getting two writing videos! :D 2018 was very tough. It was also very good.

I had some incredible moments and gained some of my favorite memories and made amazing new friends. So even though it was super hard, I wouldn't change a second. But I can make 2019 even better.

Happy New Year!


Darkling by K.M Rice

Very early this morning I finished reading Darkling by K.M Rice, a book I've wanted to read ever since I found Kellie's youtube channel a couple years ago. But I honestly couldn't have expected to be blown away like I was.

Darkling is a short novel about a young woman called Willow, who is sacrificed by her village to the darkness looming in the woods. Morrot hasn't seen sunlight in five years, and the villagers are dying one by one from famine. Those who try to escape either fall to their deaths because of the glaciers around Morrot, or freeze to death.

The moment I stepped into the first scene of Darkling, where Willow wears her mother's wedding dress and then walks into the dark woods, I knew I wouldn't be able to do anything else all day.

Darkling gripped me, imprisoned me within its pages and wouldn't let me go until the very last words. And I couldn't have loved it more.

The story was sort of bittersweet, and Rice's writing is very cinematic and visual--it's clear that she's been doing screenwriting as well. Descriptions don't drag on and everything feels concise and to the point. I just couldn't stop reading until I was on the last page and basically crying because OH MY WHY DO GOOD BOOKS HAVE TO END SO QUICKLY (when the meh ones just drag on and on...).

The mood is very dark and gloomy, and when the mysteries of the darkness begins to unfold, you will find yourself gasping out loud. Willow's thoughts were constructed in a realistic way that I deeply connected to, and I found myself wondering how far would I go to save my village?

K.M Rice has said that Darkling was inspired by a dream she had.

But after reading this, the story of Darkling feels like a dream I had.

Thank you, Kellie, for making me be one book ahead of schedule in my goodreads challenge 😂

Also, go and listen to Midsummer's Song, the song in Darkling that Eurielle composed. It is a wonderful piece of art and I can't get it out of my head.

Comparison and Creativity

It's been a while since I really opened up about my writing struggles or wrote about my progress. I have felt like I just keep repeating myself way too much and not getting anywhere. Ever.

But I realize now better than ever that stories, like everything else in this world, has their own time and place. They can be rushed, but something else in the process will end up taking ever more time and effort later down the road.

We also can't put out stories into molds or cookie cutter forms just because it's what most stories look like. Truth is, every storytelling process is different and if you keep comparing yourself to other writers all the time, you won't get anywhere.

For me, comparison came in the form of looking at other people finishing projects and venturing into the world of publishing, while I was just always working on the same book. I felt like I needed to get this one story over with and start something new.

A couple times, that's what happened. I started my fantasy book in 2014, and during that time I've finished two other novels, some short screenplays and a novella. But nothing else felt right. I just don't have the same passion for any other project like I have for this one.

I could spend the entire rest of my life exploring this magical realm and the people who dwell in it.

But then there were also the moments where I forced myself to follow a strict structure and try to make this story fit a specific mold, just so that I could one day publish. I love story structure! I love analyzing movies and books and finding plot points and figuring out story arcs!

But that kind of structure made this specific story feel bogged down, sad and not magical at all. In any other story, YAY. But this one has a magical structure of its own.

I've loved spending all my life learning about writing techniques, honing my craft and becoming a more efficient storyteller. But I think I've arrived at a point in this journey where I need to trust the wings I've been growing for so long, and just let my words fly on their own.

I may love control. But I can't control this.

I couldn't be happier to have grown up with such a magnificent, uncontrollable beast of a story. 

I didn't cry!

I went home to my parents house last week to celebrate Christmas, but before that I had my own little birthday party weekend which I spent baking a cake (and not eating much of it 😂) painting, making clay candlesticks, writing on my fantasy novel and walking outside. 🎂 In Finland it's tradition to visit graveyards around Christmas, usually on a Sunday. And as my birthday fell on a Sunday in 2018, that's what we did. I had the best birthday in my life. I didn't have an age crisis and I didn't cry a single tear!

Hope you enjoy this little video. It's the longest I've made yet, and sure took a lot longer to edit (crazy long).

Happy New Year!