You want to know the concept of HYGGE

The concept of HYGGE [hoo-ga] – a Danish term, and I grew up in Denmark – is an interesting one to define in English.

It looks like this: family and/or friends visiting with each other over a meal or a drink or coffee, hosted in a home, anytime of day, with candles lit (do not confuse with a romantic dinner), conversation going, sharing stories, relaxing into time.

It feels like this: happy to be alive, enjoying the moment, comfortable and content, happy to share, warm and fuzzy, ‘this is where I want to be’

Obviously, families and friends gather much around the holidays and the concept of hygge is often connected to holiday gatherings. However, you find hygge throughout the year, within homes, among families, big or small, or among friends (part of the hygge is that you are familiar with the people you are with), over a cup of morning coffee, or afternoon tea, or a glass of wine, or a full meal – the concept does call for some food or beverage sharing and lit candles.

Now to the important part: you LIKE to be together and you are open to share the listening and talking part. You choose to be in the moment and to enjoy the conversation. You may talk about memories or future plans BUT you are here now, sharing of yourself as others share of themselves. When you talk the next day or the next time to the same people, you tend to say about your time together: “det var hyggeligt!” (You are expressing how ‘hyggeligt’ it was, meaning the sharing was nice.

Trying to transfer this concept to my life here in California is a challenge. It always seems like most visits with people, even holiday get-togethers, are more about networking than sharing. Conversations revolve around job, money, success, and competition. Seems like most folks are always on the job.

A BBC article on the subject


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Art Making, Experimentation, not Perfection



I’m doing art with first and second graders. Making masks. One hour a week they get to create art. Why not one hour every day? They’re all over the place, experimenting, figuring, wondering, and playing. They dig in without fear or doubt and just DO. This is not a skill – it’s a natural drive with these youngsters.


A drive that is ALIVE and not craving perfection. See what happens when this is added, when this is colored, and when this is cut away. What to rely on than your own gut feeling and emotional investment? Such pure love for creation.

However, the making of Art is a process, first and foremost, and not a finished and perfect product. Who will make a masterpiece? The one who has practiced endlessly, who has experimented forever, and who has an open mind as to what the finished product may be. Then, new territory will present itself.

How come we as a society accepts hours and hours of practice to perfect playing an instrument; to perfect a dance; to perfect a song; and most of all: to perfect athleticism on the field, on the court, and on the track, etc.? Why is art making – the visual arts – not accepted at that level?

At least accept it as the language it is!  A medium of expression; of bringing out one’s soul; and thus of getting to know oneself. With a different perception of art making – not expecting perfection in one try but anticipating a new insight of oneself and here, I’m not addressing the first and second graders, who may experience their own soul subconsciously through their art making, but I gather, not quite on a conscious level yet – I’m talking about any person, at any older age, creating art.

I do not expect every person to do art, as I don’t expect every person to learn a language; what I’m looking for is a different perception of art making, focused more on the process than on the product, which by the way is made in the spirit of oneself as a first or second grader. That is how I do my art and I do not do it to perfection or in the spirit of how others want art. When I see art that I like it’s because I know that language – I express similar emotions in similar ways as the artist behind that art.

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Twenty years ago my husband asked for a picture of me. I went to a professional photographer to have a picture taken; however, how could I represent myself through one picture? With all that I do; with all that I am? Therefore, I brought four different outfits to represent the full person that I am (the perception of me, whether by myself or by others).


Split identity? Not really. Just facts about being a woman. I am still all four women; however, mostly the wife and artist part. My children are all parents themselves. The career woman never really materialized. I guess the artist was too strong and needed to come out.

It has been twenty years, plus the child rearing years, so another twenty years on top of that (I had my first child in 1977), and to be a woman in our society today is still not on par with being a man. I’m talking about the perception and the expectations of womanhood. How to be/have it all as a woman.

#manwhohasitall on Twitter is asking the same kind of questions to MEN that is normally asked of women. Read it and you will get the picture:

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Projects, projects, projects


Karen Blixen (aka Isak Dinesen) 1885-1962

This woman inspires me with her theatricality. Her short story collections like Seven Gothic Tales, Winter’s Tales, and Anecdotes of Destiny are stories of deep and diverse humanity, superbly staged with comic and tragic under- and overtones. Her style of writing defies genre categories and most resembles myth and fairytale with a dash of Shakespeare.

Some of her stories were published after her death; either, they didn’t fit the theme of her collections or they hadn’t found their final form. One such story is CARNIVAL. This was an early tale of hers and was originally intended as a puppet play. No wonder this story feels like a play. Ever since I read this tale the first time – and as a story it is quite confusing (had to read it several times, just to know what was going on) – I have wanted to turn it into a play. Also, I have wanted to paint the 9 characters that are in the tale.

I am ready now. This is a project that has been brewing for a long time and one that I will stick to! A year ago I started to write my novel about a small town and five months into that I got stuck. I know it is still there and I may take it up again, but my heart burns for the Carnival project. I am ready to finish that.


Arlecchino (Harlequin) and Pierrot

In the story you have four men and four women who are dressed up for a Carnival Ball. The four women are dressed as characters: Arlecchino, Pierrot, Søren Kierkegaard, and La Dame aux Camélias. Arlecchino and Pierrot are figures from Commedia dell’arte, La Dame aux Camélias is a character penned by Alexander Dumas, and finally Søren Kierkegaard is the famous Danish philosopher.

kierkegaard-2 mucha_la_dame_aux____as_photo_by_hithriel-d48jm66Pierrot_(Gilles)_c.1718_19_3052

Søren Kierkegaard, La Dame aux Camélias, Pierrot

The four men are merely dressed up: one as a futuristic Harlequin, one as a Venetian Lady in brocade, one in the color of Magenta, and one in the color of Chinese Yellow. The ninth character is an intruder who violates the party.

I want to turn this tale into a modern play with modern people where gender is fluid. I like the element of the intruder. Perhaps, that person will be a hard core corporate business element. I want all the roles to be played by any gender, any ethnicity and any age. OPEN.

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The Unknown is Scary

UnknownWhat is the unknown? Something we don’t know; something we haven’t tried before; something we cannot imagine; something that is hard to accept; or maybe something that is too far beyond our comfort zone?

I’ve had to reflect on the unknown these past few days, as an erratic and devastating wild-fire roared through rural communities, only half an hour north of where I live. As you may know California is bracing itself against more and wilder fires than ever before because of our extreme dry conditions. Lake County which is just north of Napa County (where I live) has had five large fires already and this latest one took out several communities and half a town.

The thousands of evacuees fled fast to save their lives and at least 500 of them ended up here in Calistoga, at the north end of Napa Valley. Red Cross set up an evacuation center at the Napa County Fairgrounds that are two blocks from my house. My community has donated a ton of necessities like bedding, food, tents, and simple love and listening and today, I heard the song “We shall overcome” from the fairgrounds.

The worst part is that these folks don’t know whether their house still stands. They cannot go back, as the highway is closed until the fire has been contained. Not knowing is very scary. Many did not have time to bring anything and even less time to think about what to bring. A strong reaction is forthcoming.

I am in their shoes. I live in similar conditions. Dry California. I’m thinking what would I bring? And then I consult articles on exactly that subject. I have gathered the papers, photos, and electronics that I would bring. And of course, our cat. Still, I have no insurance on my ‘stuff’ and some things are heirloom items.

Imagine what I would do if I didn’t have a house to come back to? Yes, you may have family or maybe friends that could house you for a while, but afterwards? I happen to have a very favorable rent and I know, I would not find that again – not here, not in Napa Valley. Perhaps many folks need to leave the area like I would have to.

But this is where the unknown comes in.  Where, what, how, and when? This is no small task! Where to start? How to imagine what to do? And when is a good time? Set in your ways, in your community and in your own skin, it is daunting to think about the unknown ahead of you!

My advice is to accept the situation, because you cannot alter it! It is not your fault that you are in this situation, but it has happened and you need to deal with it. Sometimes you need to face the unknown, however unpleasant that is. Then a good thing is to be open to a different situation: you are not in control but something will come of it. The best thing is to not crouch down; to not restrict; to not protect what you knew and what you had.

Jumping off that cliff into the unknown is hard, very hard, but it will make you stronger and more resilient and even more flexible.

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Every Monday, A Blog


Yeah! I’m back! Have not been on WordPress since July. August was all about vacation time. Now, I’m back, start of the Arts Season with dance performances, art exhibits, theater plays, and so on – I love September! Also, my birthday month.

I’ve been painting, though, and that is exciting. The print above is by me: a print, upon which I painted with pastels and put on Instagram, so manipulated the colors. Love it. Letters are in my blood.

I went to my native country, Denmark, in August with my whole family: two sons and one daughter and their spouses and six children among them. We stayed in a vicarage on a small island south of Funen – the middle island of Denmark and where I grew up. What bliss to be family for five days without TV or internet. We biked, hiked, swam, fished, played, ate, drank, laughed and shared Danish words.

Family days on Lyø

It’s tough to get back to reality or daily life. Our time together is how I would like my every day. However, our society is not made up of village living; on the contrary, money is to be made in the large cities.

Now back and out of my sorrowful mood after separation withdrawals, I pledge to write a blog every Monday. That makes me happy, too. Working with words. At the same time, I want to write a short story every Monday on my other WordPress site:

weekly stories

Thank you everybody for your interest in my blogs and stories.

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Lessons from Writing Boot Camp

Following are the most important lessons from my Writing Boot Camp:


I am a writer who likes to discover. I jump and I leap right in to a text to see what happens… therefore, I have many texts! My challenge is to think design, basically plot for a story. What do I want to make happen? Figuring out plot points. Creating a plot along a narrative arc. Missing a plot is missing a sense of purpose.


Beginning. Character in the midst of everyday life. Some kind of disruption, perhaps a person from the past. Sensual protagonist goes on a journey. Pass through gates, one crisis, another crisis. Climax is reached. Decision must be made. All seems lost. Protagonist will fail? Resolution, whether good or bad. Fulfillment. A new kind of Normal.


Two large categories and one small: General Fiction and Genre Fiction and then Literary Fiction. General Fiction is that specific story, basically, I spin a story, my story, that specific story. Genre Fiction is a story held to a genre like sci-fi, romance, western, crime, mystery, historical and so on. Literary Fiction is what we all read: the classic stories that last.


My relationship with something Specific. Not my whole life. One specific and unique experience that changed me. High degree of uniqueness. External and internal journey. My specific relationship to that dramatic experience. Based on truth. Written as fiction. Needs a plot.


To write for the Body and not only for the eye of the reader. Think action. Think body language. Internal/external. Internal action are thoughts, expressed through narrative. External action is dialogue, expressed through characters directly. Narrative tells while dialogue shows.


Having material for memoir, play, novel and short story I need to get organized. A file for each project, whether on my computer or in drawers. Because I like to see and feel what I have written I like hard copies and because I want my material accessible I have cubby holes for each project. Which project do I start?


I can work on characters for one project while working on a plot for another. My writing informs my projects. I cannot actively write the story out for more than one project at a time.

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