Winter light part two, or how to make the best of it.

In my job as a photographer I get to be out and about a lot - but a big part of the job is also computer work. Editing photos takes hours and hours, and when the days are short like they are now, I sometimes find myself never seeing any daylight at all (I'm sure most of the Norwegian work force can recognise this). So I've decided to shift things for the better. I'll spend the mornings outside with my kids, and work in the afternoon when its dark. That way, Mr. Payne can also be free to spend the light hours working on his amazing fantastic cordwood cottage up in the forest (will post more about that). 

Today, Falk and Wolfie and I went for a walk in the woods, there's an old road that has been cleared now, so it's perfect for everyone to explore. When we came back, we all made bonfire pancakes for lunch in the garden and enjoyed the last rays of sun. It would be super appropriate with a nap now, feeling rosy cheeked and full bellied, but I guess my work is calling me... This life ain't so bad, after all.

To the sea.

This weekend: I went south, to a little house right by the sea, sans kids, to hang out with one of my favourite people and the friend I've had the longest (since I was 11!). Plus a dog. Absolutely needed and absolutely wonderful.

Winter light.

Being busy at work and generally tired from winter and life has made me take very few photos of our everyday life this autumn and winter. Now, slowly and surely, I can feel my energy and happiness crawling back to me, and I've more and more been back to what I always did before - wander the fields and forest with my kids and camera in hand. And although winter is hard, with all its darkness, the short spans of light are so beautiful. 

Wolf moon.

Today is the the first full moon of the year - a full moon that has been called the wolf moon from the olden days. It's a moon of connection and love, of caring for your pack and appreciating the support we give each other.

My little wolf is definitely one of connection. He is such an abundance of love and craziness and laughter and rambunctiousness, it is a roller coaster. I keep thinking about how worried I was about him when he was born and I learned about his condition, and then I see him now. So strong and nutty. Nothing to worry about there!

Xxx

Unconditional love.

She's only seven years old, but in wolfhound-years that is old age - they tend to give in a lot sooner than smaller breeds. She is still in good form though, a bit stiff on her hind legs, perhaps, but shows every sign of health and happiness, steals foods like always, runs around in the fields as always. We soak her in. Snuggle up on the floor in front of the fire, kiss and whisper and do that lovely telepathic transmission you can only do with animals. Our Billie, she is so lovely, she has been here through the whole journey.

The end of a year.

Wow, what a year it has been. 

I'm writing this as I sit in my kitchen, the fire is lit, my dog is sleeping next to it, I have a glass of beer next to me, Daniel Norgren is playing on my stereo. I am alone in my house. My children are in the house next door, with their father - except for Ronja, who is with her father a little further away. If you had told me a year ago that my situation would be this, I wouldn't have believed you. I probably would have thought it sounded wonderful, and scary, because we were struggling then, but I'd never believed it to be possible. I was so determined to stay in my marriage, to push and push and push through, to not give up, and it was costing us a lot. I had already failed in a relationship - with Ronjas father, years ago, and I had decided to never let that happen again. And although it was obvious that some sort of break was needed, I still couldn't see it clearly - yet. I was too set on my decision, and it felt like a huge failure to admit defeat and split up another family with children involved. My expectations and dreams for this family did definitely not include divorce. 

And yet, it happened. A few months down the line, the end came, there was no more road to walk. We were done. We had tried long enough. So with spring came definition, a closure and a new beginning, tears and grief and relief, excitement and exhaustion, hand in hand. To make the breakup smoother for the kids, we still lived together for another seven months, until he just recently moved into the farm next door. It was a hard seven months - straining on all parties - but worth it. And now, we breathe easier, are happier, see each other more clearly, appreciate each other more. Talk about things more honestly and without resentment. Hold no grudges. Dare to connect with each other again. It feels nice. It feels like all the struggles were worthwhile, like we had to walk that path to get to where we are now, like this was where our natural current led us. 

It has been a hard year, maybe the hardest one in my life so far, but it has also been the one where I have learned the most, where I have seen myself the clearest, where I have grown to love this woman the most. I have found hidden treasures in me, and sadness, and secrets, and I understand her better now, I embrace all that she is more. I have room for all of her. So yeah, midlife crisis/cliché or not, I don't give a shit about these things anyway, you walk the path you need to, this year has given me such growth, it has been a wonderful adventure. I have found my feet this year. And although I'm still tired, because it costs to have a year like this, my reservoirs are on the low; I am so full of love and life and good vibes for the future. Like my core is strengthened, I have no fear. 

Thank you, 2016, for being really hard and colourful and beautiful.

And thank YOU - for reading. I send my love into the ether and hope your year has been fruitful, too. Xxx

Lately:

Some photos from the last month:

Christmas preparations / carrying lanterns and taking buns to the neighbours / picking this years Christmas tree from the forest / dog snuggles in a clean house / Christmas lunch / out walking in the sunlight (no white Christmas this year either) / general chilling out after the bustle of Christmas has settled.


Hope you had a good one!

Xxx

Thankful.

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From yesterday morning, on my way to my last job of the year! This year has been so many things, from completely draining to absolutely amazing. My work has definitely been one of the great adventures of 2016.

So thankful! ⭐️

Saturday.

We had the most beautiful weather today, mist shifting with sun shifting with mist again. Such gorgeous light. Finally we were all home at the same time during the daylight hours, so we had the chance to be together outside and make the horses' grave nice. We put hay in a circle where they are, and stones in a medicine wheel formation, and the trees we're planting will be in the middle of it.

I still can't get my head around the fact that they are both under there, my beautiful horses. We miss them. There's a screeching silence, a gaping hole on the farm now they're not here. An absence very much felt. Still, today I felt more at peace with it than I have before. Like the shock of it has subsided a bit.

And we had a lovely day, and I have felt that tingle again slightly, that blissful ache in my chest telling me that I'm on the right track. That I'm on a journey where my heart walks beside me, happily holding my hand and agreeing on the destination.

Waves.

It's been one of the toughest, most heart-opening weeks of my life. Bottomless lakes of tears, a pulsating heart chakra, waves of grief pouring over me. We have lost both our horses this week, and last night they were buried together, in the garden, under a starry sky. A big machine came up to the farm to make a hole for their soft bodies. They are resting together, I can see the fresh soil covering their grave from where I am sitting now. In spring we will plant two trees there: a weeping willow and a horse chestnut.

I just walked the trail of sorrow, from their stable to the places they died and to where they are buried. Saw their footprints in the mud. Remains of their last meal of hay. Tufts of hair, piles of poo, marks from their gnawing on posts, an empty water bucket. I howl, I weep, I sigh. It never feels empty.

I am so thankful for having had them in my life, and yet I have no idea how to deal with the loss. The longing for their sounds, the way they smelled, the warmth of their bodies. Their presence, their soulfulness, their beauty.

I just let it wash over me.

When your favourite chicken dies.

I left the door to the chickens open today. It was sunny and warm and I figured they could use some sunlight, and they happily came outside to check winter out. And then, a few hours later, I found our favourite chicken, Berntadotte, dead outside my window. The fox had been here. There were feathers on the ground, no chickens to be seen anywhere, except her. 

Let us just take a moment for Berntadotte: She was the only survivor of a fox attack where she used to live - at our friend Bernt's house (thus the name) - so he gave her to us. She was the cuddliest hen we've had, you could pick her up and stroke her, she was so friendly. I am so sad.

We found a little over half the flock in the barn, two were hurt, one had to be slaughtered, and we are still lacking eight chickens. 

It's tough learning sometimes, this farm life.

Milestone.

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The two on the flanks have been away for ten days, traveling with their dad to his family in Portugal and England. I have been home with the youngest and the oldest, and to be honest it has been heaven. I feel two years worth of tired in my soul and my bones. Two years ago, that's when things got really difficult in my marriage, that's when that feeling of bliss in my chest disappeared. And then there was all the stuff with Wolfie, and the intensity of self employment and general life with four kids. So now, things are settling down. My ex husband is moving out today, seven months after we split up, and finally, we can high five each other and say "we did it". He's renting the farm next door, the kids will have an even bigger kingdom to roam, and I'll be expecting that feeling in my chest to return any time soon.

Farm life.

It ain't always the rose colored dream people think, but getting out there in the cold and dark winter, feeding animals and making sure everyone is okay, with a baby on my back (who loves it), is pretty romantic in its own quirky way. And then going back in, to a warm kitchen with the fire going, feeling how your body just really started and that it works! - well, that's pretty darn awesome in my opinion.

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We are stardust.

In times of challenge, for me the way to go is always this: Look to nature. Simplify, clarify, strip down to the basic elements, the materials you consist of. Air, water, stardust, earth, silence, fire. Hands and heart and intention. Love what is close. Be here now. 🌕

Twelve.

You are strong and smart and sweet and beautiful, and I still feel the same as I did the day you were born: that I won the lottery, that I was given an amazing privilege to be chosen as your mother. So thankful that you picked me!

And today, you are twelve! My brave wonderful Ronja, I love you endlessly. Happy birthday!

In the hospital, part two.

I've made a post like this before, when we came home from the hospital a bit over a year ago, after having been there for three weeks, our first three weeks together. We have come a long way since then, and now, we have done it, we have faced and overcome a big obstacle. His surgery.

We were admitted on Tuesday, to get settled in and talk with the doctors. We talked about anaesthesia, about risks, about the things they would do in his mouth to close his palate. About pain and blood and medication. I needed all the details, to play it in my mind and be as prepared as possible. The main person was happily ignorant of it all - he acted like he owned the place, playing and running and charming everyone. It was strange; his last day and night before his correction, his last hours with an open palate. Going to bed that night, I felt at ease, ready. I felt calm. 

The morning after was heavy, the hours waiting for the operation passed so slowly, and Ulv had to fast, so I was constantly nervous about him feeling hungry and me not being allowed to feed him. It went so well. This guy just takes it all in his stride. 

And then, the nurses came to pick us up. I was going into the operation theatre with him, so I wore a white overall which reminded me of a beekeepers suit. Wolfie sat on his daddy's shoulders through the corridors, so happy and excited and open. The lump in my throat grew, I had to remind myself to be brave, to not lose face in front of Wolfie, to pretend. And I did, all the way until he slept his strange artificial sleep, and then my dams broke and I cried, all the way back to the room. Tears and snot and fear and waiting. And trust. I felt the trust, I hadn't expected that. I knew he was in the best of hands. Someone wrote on one of my instagram photos, You place your heart in the hands of others, and I thought that was so beautiful and so descriptive. It's exactly what it felt like. You have my child now. And these people took care of him so well, and they did magic, they created a palate for him. It's surreal!

After what was a hard time waiting - but not as hard as I thought it would be - they came to pick us up. The surgeon herself, standing in my room, saying it was over, and that it had been smoother and easier than she had expected, that it had gone so well. Me hugging her and rushing over to wait outside the intensive care unit, to be let in. And there he was, still asleep, blood dripping from his mouth, tubes here and there (even one in his nose, like when he was a baby). 

Five hours later, he was running in the corridor, laughing and being a clown, making the nurses question why he was really there. And that was how it continued: He was crazy strong and active and happy. A small mouth surgery isn't enough to stop this guy!

Here are some photos from our days there.

And then we came home, on Saturday, and it felt so good to be back, and to take in the fact that wow, we did it. It's done!

Now we have to take time to heal. Thank you for all the love you have sent to us! It means a lot.

Love from one happy and relieved mama.

Xxx

The operation.

It's coming up, the day I've been preparing for and dreading for over a year. Tomorrow we will go to the hospital in Oslo, and on Wednesday it's time for Ulv's palate surgery. I remember thinking about it instantly after we found out he had a cleft palate - that we would face surgery one day, that I had to let that happen. And we are here now, and it's not a distant idea anymore, it's a reality coming up very soon. 

I'm scared. Scared of him having the anaesthesia, of feeling him fall into artificial sleep in my arms, of giving him to strangers who are going to cut and sow in him, scared of waiting for him to wake up, of that stillness in between. I'm scared of him feeling pain and feeling disoriented, of all the medicine he will have in his body. I'm scared of letting go.

But I know, my rational brain knows, that we have to do this. That it's for the better for my wolf cub. And when we're out on the other side, we'll have faced another challenge together, it will be behind us, and I'm looking forward to walking away from it, to close that chapter. 

I hear myself saying I love you to him more than usual, I hug him tighter, I cry more, I sense him stronger. I remind myself that the truly brave are soft at heart, and try to let these emotions in. I am opening the door, and there's a wind coming in, and it doesn't feel good, but I'm letting it in. We're doing it.

Please send love and light and strength to us on Wednesday morning. Thank you.


Wolfie was born with a rare condition called Pierre Robin sequence (PRS). It's not a syndrome, but a chain of events (a sequence) that happens in the womb. The lower jaw is not allowed to develop properly (for reasons unknown), and that presses the tongue up into the palate, thus preventing it from closing up. The babies with PRS are born with very small lower jaws and open palates, and this creates trouble in breathing and feeding. The upper airways are usually smaller than normal, and the tongue does not get enough space in the jaw, so it falls back and obstructs the air flow. In Norway this is often corrected with a nasal tube, which Ulv had for almost four months. His jaw had then grown sufficiently so that he could breathe fine without obstruction. The open palate means that the PRS babies cannot breastfeed (they can't create suction/vacuum), so Ulv was bottle fed with a special needs bottle and I pumped for him for the first six months. He eats solids like a normal child. The open palate is usually closed in surgery when the child is a year old. You can read more about Wolfie and his first months on the Zoo Payne section, here.

This is me, now.

Still in transition, still trying to make new pieces fit into this life, looking at the older ones, shifting things around. Rethinking this farm, this home, my plans. Trying to make the everyday work with the father of my children while falling in love with someone else. Trying to make space for everything. Always being honest, staying true, sometimes slipping, always getting up again. Feeling the earth under my feet. Holding my kids close. Drinking a lot of coffee. Staying up too late.

Learning how to love, all over again, this time with myself as the source.

Xxx