Farewell competitive freediving

One can only do so many things at one given time. To me that’s been a tough lesson to learn. I love keeping all my different ideas afloat, giving them a push every now and then and never quite saying no to the though of acting on them. It can be frustrating for those close to me and now I’ve come to terms with that it might actually be holding me back. For many years it was a functional and fruitful way of living, right now it’s not.

So.

I’ve decided to let one of my most long lived dreams go to rest: To be a professional freediver. To compete, get sponsorships and teach freediving. To have my life circling around the ocean through this sport.

I think that deep down it was never really something that I wanted to do, but the thought of it was so… alluring. To be that strong athlete, focused and calm, with a clear purpose.

After 14 years of on-and-off training and competing, ranking at best as 3rd in the world, participation in five world championships, setting Swedish records, completing dozens of competition dives and thousands of training dives, I’m now officially saying farewell to the arena of competitive freediving.

Just as freediving once was key to setting me free and setting me apart, giving me that edge I so strongly needed, it is now keeping part of me hostage. I want to keep diving, I just want to undo my ties to the competitive side. If the thought of training for another word championship is going to keep popping up in my mind, I’m going to keep toying with that idea, putting my energy into the field of freediving, when what I really want to do right now is to root myself even more in my chosen field of work as a food-growing gardener and steward of resilient ecosystems.

Thank you all, it’s been a splash, and I could never ever have done it without you ?

You can always invite me along as your mascot ?

The Chaltén Massif in Patagonia

It rains in our alpine paradise. Where yesterday the sky was blue and the evening had a golden glow, a light drizzle is now hanging in the air. We hide inside and try to make smart plans, skimming info from all other climbers we can find, turning the pages of the guide book back and forth. This route maybe, or this?

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We’re abruptly figuring out just how many factors we must take into account when planning what granite spire to (try to) climb. In Patagonia the weather that matters is not just if it’s sunny or rainy. It’s winds and temperatures and days of sun vs days of rain. It’s the aspect of the rockface, the depth of the cracks, the amount of ice and snow, the temperature of the rock, the humidity of the air. Is the approach over a glacier or in skree? Can you rappel the route or will you be going down an unknown face? Will your gear freeze up? Can you back of anywhere should the weather turn bad? Do you walk in and set up camp closer to the spires, or is it more efficient to do a monster day from town all the way up a mountain and back down again in one push?

From El Chaltén we can se the spires of Fitz Roy and friends soaring high, a dreamy skyline of grey, brown and white. That is, if it’s not raining. And most of the time Fitz Roy is clad in clouds anyway, being a tower that creates its own weather system. It’s original name, Chaltén, means ”the humid mountain”. (It wasn’t until 1899 that someone proved the mountain wasn’t just a volcano, spewing out smoke).

Tim and I have no intention of trying to climb this famous mountain. We don’t have the skills not the equipment or the time to do it. Plus, when I look at the full Fitz Roy range and my eyes come to rest on Poincenot I know that’s the one. That’s the most beautiful of them all. I wanna be an ice princess, climbing and hacking my way up that spire! It’s so clean, it’s lines so neat. Another year, perhaps. One can never have to many dreams…

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To achieve a dream it’s a good idea to go about it all in small steps. I know that I need to keep on practicing my climbing skills on both rock and ice to be able to competently and safely make my way up those beautiful high walls. This time around we will therefor first try our luck on smaller peaks like Guillaumet, De L’s and Medialuna. Some 500 meters of climbing in proper icy alpine conditions is enough for now. I’ll save my first vertical kilometer for later. The approaches alone will be strenuous, with tens of kilometers of walking up sandy trails to thalus slopes and over glaciers, 8 hours or more one way.

It all sounds like a very fun day or two in the mountains, non?

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Ah. The alpine paradise. Patagonia. The Chaltén massif, home of Cereo Fitz Roy, Cerro Torres and other beauties. It’s a true pleasure being here in this real world Narnia. You see, it’s not just the mountains which are special, it’s the whole scenery with gnarly old southern beech wood trees, a gazillion of yellow flowers on spiky bushes, a blue green glacial river snaking the bottom of the U-valley below us and condors soaring above our heads. It’s a drop dead beautiful place. If we get to climb, that’s great. If not, we’ll happily enjoy the natural magic.

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//Your little andinista

Climbing in the Bugaboos

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Bugaboos. Bugaboos! Granite spires in all directions. Glaciers melting into streams. Frozen lakes and thawing ones. People dressed in colorful outdoor gear with helmet compatible hoods and crampons dangling in their hands as they come back into camp. Toilet huts built on site from granite blocks, with a view of the Bugaboo spire itself. Small patches of grass and slow growing green cushions flowering with purple, red and white beauties.

It’s magic. I didn’t know much before we came up here, not about the size of it not the natural splendor. It’s so freakin beautiful! I thought, granite – I like climbing granite. Mountains – I like climbing mountains. I love the view, the bird perspective, the far away from everything feeling and the fact that you can only trust yourself and your partner to stay alive. We are climbing safely, but the days are long ones, with approaches, climbs and rappels leading us into 8-15 hour adventures. Active days. Full on days.

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Climbers descending the col at night, with Snowpatch on the left and Bugaboo on the right.

Beep, beep, beep! 5 or 6 AM, not super early but still early… We eat porridge and drink coffee in the morning, pack our gear, water and snacks: Nuts, bars, boiled eggs, carrots, then head into the alpine environment to practice mountaineering. Trudging up the steep snow to the col between Bugaboo and Snowpatch takes us about an hour, then we keep on walking over the glacier to the beginning of our chosen route. Gearing up with harnesses, ropes and trad racks, stashing crampons and ice axes for the return, or packing them to go. The person on the sharp end of the rope begins the ascent of the first pitch and the rock climbing is on. Through cracks, flakes, blocks and slabs we go, up, up and away.

Ah! It’s good to be here, amongst silent rock giants and moaning glaciers, with people whom you appreciate and love. The hours pass without us noticing. Already 3PM? Huh. We climb on. Some days we’re back at 6PM, some at 9PM. We boil water and eat freeze dried food. Devour it, hungry after many hours of pushing ourselves mentally and physically. Our tents stand on a hard granite surface at the Appelbee Dome camping. When the chit chat and planning for the next day slows down we brush our teeth and crawl into our sleeping bags, hide from the wind inside the thin tent walls. The camping is a silent one, most people wanting to go to sleep early and rest well before the next day’s undertaking.

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There’s a mental simplicity underlining the time spent up here. There are no cafés to go to, no food to shop for, nowhere to drive, no computer screen telling the state of the world. When we are up here, we are separated from the normal everyday life. It makes a difference even for us, Tim and I, who for now are living like nomads. Though it can be straining to be up here, to carry those 35 kilos on our backs when walking in and to push up to summits 3000 meters high most days, the simplicity balances the effort made.

Then comes a resting day. No alarm goes of. When the sun hits the tent it gets to warm in the down sleeping bag and we crawl out. Get water. Boil it. Make coffee. Stretch. Eat. Swim. Talk about stuff, life, adventures, getting older. We’re still looking for what to do with our lives. Acknowledge that this is a pretty good way of spending a week. It feels longer, with a string of new strong memories binding each moment together. This place, magic.

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IMG_7342For me, still struggling to fully get back from my knee injury, these days have made me smile. A lot. I could walk uphill for 4,5 km, gaining 950 meters of altitude, with a stupidly heavy backpack on my shoulders – and the knee felt good!

I could hike up the col with crampons and axe, walk the glacier, then simulclimb the Westridge to the Pigeon Spire and reverse the whole thing – and the knee still felt good!

I could hike up to the foot of the Crescent Spires, lead a 5.6 called Lions Way, scramble down a scree-turn-to-snow-slope – and the knee was not even on my mind!

I could climb an 8 pitch 5.9 called Wildflowers and really go for it as a team together with Tim, leading every second pitch. Most memorable was leading the last, strange 5.9 to just below the summit, stemming and pinching and jamming my way up flaky grooves, slowly formed through endless weathering of the hard granite. I lost my way in all the different flared cracks. It turned into a 5.10. Still, I pulled myself together and got through. Proud, thirsty and tired. And guess what, the knee still felt bomber.

If I would ever get injured again, I’d do the same thing. Rehab. Hang in there. Then get back into nature ASAP and let it work it’s magic. It’s been nearly a year and a half since I did my ACL surgery, another six months and all the nerves that can grow back will have done so. Then I’m gonna be ridiculously strong, because right now I’m STRONG.

Ah.

 

Life, Permaculture & Love

For years I’ve used permaculture as a tool. For years I’ve been wanting to share this way of thinking with my partner Tim. Finally, five years into our relationship, I got the chance to bring him to a permaculture course in Australia. Two full-on weeks with an international group of students and a myriad of teachers. It’s been intense on so many levels!

In all honesty, this course allowed me to reinstate my belief in our relationship. I’m sure there are others like me out there, people who are struggling to fit their permaculture life with their love life. The following thoughts are for you. I wish you all good luck!

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PDC reflections 1 – day 2

Passion can make you angry. Passion can make you righteous. Passion can bring you close to people but also push them away.

As I sit here and listen to all the people attending the course, and the teachers presenting it, I feel both at home and far, far away. I see myself there, a few years back, teaching with that flame burning through my words, my face, my posture, out onto the participants. The recognition makes me itch on the inside. I didn’t want to be that teacher anymore. I wished not to be perceived as righteous, since that meant scaring people away with my fire, but I could tell that sometimes I did. Were those few a worthy sacrifice for the larger group that went away empowered by the idea of permaculture? I’m not sure. And so I stepped down, outwards, to give time for reflection and to calm my mind.

I feel that there’s a huge potential in bridging worlds, left and right, academia and hands-on, but I can’t do that if I position myself to far into either of those spheres. Like an acrobat dancing the line, I wish to fall in and out of balance, in and out of those contradictions. To continue to be an agent of change and reflection, I need to be humble enough to listen to what others have to say, and strong enough to present my own view in a thought-through way.

Being here at this PDC, with persons who have been teaching a lot, allows me to zoom out during the lessons and observe the layout and the way the other participants react to it. It’s a rewarding process.

PDC reflections 2 – day 4

Much like with the freediving community, it feels good to be back with the permaculture community. I guess I need to take time outs in many different areas at different times.

Being here, observing what I have learned since the PDC back in 2010, I feel very empowered and glad about my own development. So many of the areas we touched back then, which were related to gardening, food, buildings, heat sources etc, are areas in which I have had the chance to hone my skills. The hardest nut for me to crack is still the people part of any system. So many ideas about community are circling around, being implemented in different places, and I just haven’t found a model that I thing might work for me, and for Tim, quite yet. Today we went to Patrick – Artist as a family – plus a small community garden and then to David and Sue’s Melliodora. Patricks places was around 1000 m2, established 8 years ago, and filled with diversity. Melliodora is about 8000 m2, established over 30 years ago, and filled with even more diversity. It gives hope to see these semi-urban places, knowing that I don’t feel like I would fit well with communal living, but that I want to live in a good neighbourhood. It might be in the countryside, or it might be just outside the city in a spot with good communications for coming and going, for inputs and outputs.

PDC reflections 3 – day 7

Through bringing us to all these different places, I am amazed at how well the course has been planned. The benefit of seeing an implemented design in all different stages and of all different kinds and qualities gives such a added depth to what we are learning during the more theoretical sessions. This is what I missed while partaking in my first PDC back in 2010 in Jordan with Geoff Lawton. Being a good storyteller and an empowering lecturer, he still got his points through, but the sublime, emotional part of being submerged in a permaculture landscape gives you a deeper understanding.

I also very much enjoy having a string of teachers passing through the course. Compared to an ecosystem, David is the philosophical, wise old tree who brings balance and depth. Sue is a mature, clever animal, social and cheeky, moving through our group spreading nuggets of laughter and wisdom. Angela with her soft voice but mental steel is the shepherd steering us through the course, adding missing links of info when needed and maintaining the group structure. Beck with all her in depth knowledge of ecosystems and cycles keeps a cool surface but underneath we can see her rebell nature bubble and thrive. She is also our shepherd, sharing the work with Angela, making sure that we all get access to the information a PDC contains, so that even though there are ten or more co-teachers, there is a clear learning outcome at the end.

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Staring each morning with a yoga session, we clear our minds and loosen up our bodies after a much needed night of sleep. A simple breakfast in silence, then karma yoga in service of the ashrams daily needs before we enter the classroom again. We use the largest yoga hall for our indoor sessions, everyone seated on the floor using low foldable tables and cushions and blankets. The teachers use a whiteboard and a projector, then swap over to using different materials and resources to convey the knowledge and experience, such as using an A-frame, drawing to scale with a scaled ruler, or taking soil samples for testing. During site visits, we get to hear other designers speak about their way of permaculture, how they have set up their systems, what sizes and budgets they have, and what has worked well compared to what has been challenging through their process of establishment. We get the full scale, from projects in their 5th, 8th, 11th, 14th and 30th year, which allows a for a richer understanding of how things might or might not develop. Back at the ashram, its forested surroundings lends themselves perfectly to exercises of reading the landscape. As we wander about with David, we learn more and more about what to look for and how to use our intuitive reading abilities handed down from our ancestors. From geology to trees, from topography to waterways, from soil structure to weeds, from wind patterns to human interaction, we see the landscape with new clarity. Layers over layers of information surround us, and using our eyes, fingers, noses, tastebuds, feet and skin we react to what we meet. Drawing conclusions from all these layers, an internal picture emerges of what has passed in the years gone by, what is happening right now, and what might come.

I let all this information fall into my already established mental framework. Back in 2010, it felt as if a made a huge reconstruction of synapses to allow for everything that I am and everything that I know to reiterate its place inside me and to form new pathways in between all these areas. I felt empowered from being allowed to use all that I am, not only the specialised knowledge that I had gathered from continuous studies within the educational system. It matters that I was planting carrots and onions and tomatoes with mum and dad when I was a kid. I matters that I was a leftist activist roaming the streets as a young adult. It matters that I have a huge chunk of technical knowledge. It matters that I have traveled and marvelled at the landscapes I’m in since my earliest memories. In a way, permaculture allows me to be me, and that is a very empowering gift.

Having a day of in the middle of the PDC allows for reflection. I feel that I couldn’t have made a better decision on which PDC to come to. This time, its not mainly about what I can learn from the full on experience, it is so much more important what Tim can get out of it and even more so what we as a couple can gain. In a shady corner of my heart, there is a little scared voice whispering: “Klara, are you really yourself truly and fully when you share your life so intimately with this Tim-person? He is not passionate about the big picture in the same way you are. He will not push you to find an alternative way, to build that new regenerative branch from our old society which you have been dreaming of your whole life. If you want to be that agent of change, can you really be with someone who is less keen on challenging himself and taking steps to reach that far flung goal?”

Silence. The voice is shrinking, transforming itself into a nurturing soup of philosophical love. The topics we are covering and the conversations they enable between the two of us are creating a new balance. Tim is entering further into my world view, my view of the world that I’ve been carrying, always. Permaculture isn’t changing me, but it has brought me a conceptual framework which allows me to express who I am through the words and ideas put forth by others who came before me. Now I get to intentionally and intimately share this view with Tim in a much more profound way, and our conversations are yielding a more solutions based mutual future. I have dreamt of this shared experience since the two of us first became a one, but knowing that I have no business trying to push anyone else into the sphere of thinking where I feel at home and where my future is blooming, I have moved slowly. It’s a delicate thing, love. After spending five years together, the opportunity and will to join in for a PDC arose through the mutual desire of a long journey. We have now set out on a 16-months long nomadic voyage, and permaculture is a part of it. The scared voice inside me was whispering: “This is it. This is the point where you either make it or brake it. Submerge Tim in your world of holistic thinking and see how he responds. If ge gets it, your safe. If he doesn’t, there is an alternative truth about your relationship.”

No. I never dared speaking about this fear with Tim. It felt as if it would do more damage than good. I’ve been thinking, “he must also have his fears about being us”, and then looking at the strong base we have built with our love for each other through nature, simple living, climbing, camping, traveling, cooking, and being active in so many ways, it seemed much wiser to let the whisper be left alone in that corner. I would have been concerned if it had grown stronger over the years, but it hasn’t. It just another balancing constant, I guess. By nature, I have an intensely questioning mind. This voice is simply another part of it, making sure that I stay on track through life, giving me a little scare but also providing a reality check. Are we compatible or not?

I’m so ridiculously glad that he gets it. We are safe. The base has grown even stronger, and now the next level awaits us.

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PDC reflections 4 – day 9

This was important. This was worth all the money, time and energy spent on the planning leading up to these two weeks and the immersion into permaculture during these two weeks. This was a key factor, maybe t h e key factor, in letting me know that Tim and I are a good match. Looking ahead, I can now rest my mind knowing that Tim has had a full on experience with permaculture design, and that he now knows what its all about, and that we can now share this way of systems thinking to plan our entwined future.

It’s a harsh thing to say, “do this or I will leave you”, but in essence, that’s what I did on a personal-mental level. I knew I needed Tim to understand at least the basics of permaculture for me to be able to plan for a long life together. Some things are just more important than others. I will never need to turn him into an avid freediver, because I can meet him on the rocks instead of in the ocean. We don’t have to work together side by side every day or have the same opinion on all subjects. But with permaculture being so strongly linked in with my core ethics, there was just no way that I could keep on leading a joint life, with Tim not knowing about those ethics and how they impact my life. Since 2010 I’ve been using permaculture as a framework through which I observe and analyse the world. It helps me to stay in line with my ethics and to view every decision from multiple angles, so that I know I can stand up for whatever I decide to do.

When analysing my relationship with Tim, I saw that we were aligned in most domains, but that I had a stronger emphasis on systems thinking in relation to my place in this world. I live with the mental framework of a compulsive analytical do-gooder. I can’t change that, but I can harness and use it as a strong beneficial quality of my personality. I need my life to fit with my personality, thus, I need Tim’s idea of our mutual life to fit with my personality.

I have a very strong need to understand my own patterns, so that I can tweak my way of living to provide a positive outcome through those patterns. Any pattern can lead to regeneration as well as degradation. I will not stand for degradation, will never accept that I can’t change whatever is going on into a regenerative force. That is also true when it comes to my relationship with Tim. Of course I have no intention of trying to force him to be different or to change, but I can strongly encourage him to take part of a piece of my world so that he can then make a facts based decision regarding wether or not he likes that part, and wether or not he would like to include it in his own life. Luckily enough, he chose to say yes when I said that I needed to take a Permaculture Design Course together with him. Luckily enough, he enjoyed it and learned new things. Luckily enough, I can now share myself more fully with him. Luckily enough, I can now say with renewed confidence that I believe in our mutual future. It’s not that I didn’t love Tim when he didn’t know what permaculture was all about, I just love him so much more now that he does know.

PDC reflections 5 – the aftermath

Two weeks, that’s often a short period of time. But boy, these two weeks have felt like two months. I’m such a course junkie… I love the intensity of just flooding your head and heart with information of all kinds and then see what comes out on the other end.

In a few words:

  • I want to keep living with Tim
  • I want to keep being a semi-nomad
  • I want to keep teaching permaculture
  • I want to keep working with creating regenerative landscapes
  • I want to work both in Sweden and in other countries

Thank you for sharing my thoughts.

Thank you Tim, David, Sue, Angela, Beck, Kelvin, Kim, Dave, Alessio, Jermy, Shahar, Ben, Kate, Katie, Clare, Kat, Liane, Stanley, Osti, Laura, Oana, Sylvain, Atma, Karly, Patrick, Joel, Ian, Mike, Lisa, Rod and all you others who took part in the course. You changed me.

Klara

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New Zeeland’s South Island. Two months of exploration has come to an end. The verdict? Yes, of course I liked it.

I grew up in a temperate climate in Scandinavia, a part of the world where population density is low and access to nature is high. I have learnt through the years that I dearly value that scene as a backdrop of my life, so whenever I come to a place with similar conditions it’s an instant love affair.

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Troy, Tim and Klara at the farewell BBQ on the beach 🙂

The South Island was in that sense exactly what I hoped it would be, wild and perfect. We started and finished with climbing sport routes on limestone up at Paynes Ford, Takaka, Golden Bay Area. Tim was living there for a full 9-month climbing season back in 2008, so it felt like a home coming. “Hi everyone, I’m back! This is my wifey Klara. Klara, meet everyone.” We camped in his old spot, went to the same old supermarket, got a library card, danced away at the Mussel Inn, went swimming either at the swim holes or in the ocean etc. It’s very nice to be able to do that with your partner, to share old memories and build new ones at the same site. By now, Takaka is not only Tim’s place but also mine.

The climbing camp where we were living is called Hang Dog, and Troy – the manager – is Tim’s old friend. He was thrilled to have a solid climbing partner back at his door step, so while I continued with rehabbing my knee, managing basically the ten minute walk out to the crag and maybe two climbs each day for the first few weeks, Tim and Troy were killing it. It was so nice to watch Tim regaining his strength after having had half a year of muscle deterioration due to an inflamed lung and all that came with it. So much of who we are together as a couple relates to being active, which means that the past year has been an odd one for us. I feel grateful for being back in my body, and I’m grateful that Tim is back in his. Being strong, flexible, adaptable and agile both in mind and body is a virtue to me.

The fact that Tim is so much taller than me and thus climbs in a different style has been a bit of a tricky mental issue for me. Since 2011 he has been my partner for at least 80% of the time when climbing outdoors. I’ve seen him on the rocks for years, performing different moves. When I try to mimic them and use the same beta to climb past a crux, it is more often than not a failure. With the analytical, logical part of my brain I understand perfectly well the physical reality behind why it is so (monkey index etc), but for the emotional part of my brain, frustration is not far away. I want to! I WANT to CLIMB up there, get past that section, figure out the moves, do it clean. But – I’m not the same length as Tim.

When climbing indoors at the bouldering gym back home, there’s usually quite a few people of different length and strength around, and so I can watch and learn together with them as well. There will be someone who uses mostly the same beta as me, and I become a better climber from being able to find my own style.

While climbing with Troy at Paynes Ford, I had the chance to spend many hours together with a very strong climber who was a bit taller than me, but who still used most of the same beta. I would find my way through cruxes mimicking Troy, and then watch Tim do it completely different. It felt a bit like learning a new language, realising that your not stuttering anymore, your actually talking in complete sentences, able of putting them together á la minute without first constructing them in your mind. I come out of New Zealand a better climber, and that makes me happy and proud. Its a great feeling, evolving. My current plateau for leading is an Australian 20/French 6B, which brings me right back to where I was before my knee injury. At the end of our two months, I’m now back to climbing some four-six routes every day, depending on the status of the skin on my fingers rather than the status of my knee. If I’m still for too long, e.g. riding a car for a day, my knee still stiffens up, but as long as I stick to my rehab routine – 45 min every second day – it comes easily back in shape.

Phew… 😀

In all, New Zeeland and all the wonderful people we’ve been spending time with have treated us very, very well. It was a relaxed and happy start of our 16 months journey. Rejuvenated, we’re now crossing over to Australia for the next four months. Hasta pronto, little island!

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Tim and Troy attempting to do 23 23’s in a day. Looking sharp in tights…
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Tim was my belay bitch when I did Klara’s Quest: One climb of each grade starting with a 14. Came all the way to a 19 before I fell of. Happy knee, happy Klara!
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Beach life. Sunsets. Silliness.
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X-mas at Hang Dog: Scruffy climbers from all over, a long table full of food, a big fire, slack lines, home made rum etc etc.
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We tried to climb in the Darrens. That obviously didn’t work out to well. Rain, rain and rain for two weeks during our road trip, haha.
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So many happy moments in the presence of big old TREES!
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Foraging for food. New Zeeland spinach omelette for brekkie. Yum.

Tio månader efter kollaps

Förstår ni vilken resa det här är?

Av en smärtsam anledning så har den 18e i varje månad blivit en dag att minnas.

Den 18e november 2015 var jag och bouldrade på Fabben. Det var ett roligt träningspass. Jag var stark och glad. Klockan närmade sig nio och det var dags att avrunda, men så skulle jag bara visa några andra ladies en beta på ett svart problem som jag nästan, nästan hade fått till. Upp med vänster tå här, korsa över där, skicka hit… Woosch! Där föll Klara. Där föll Klara och hon landade så fel att hon vek sitt knä bakåt. Fitt i helvete vad det var obehagligt! Jag vrålade till och rullade runt på mattan, djupandades på ren rutin för att hantera smärtan, klöste av mig skorna och rullade bort från väggen. Försökte känna efter, testade att böja, testade att stå, det gick asdåligt. Linkade in i duschen och spolade hela vänster ben med iskallt vatten.

Satte mig i trärummet och lät tårarna rinna medan Tim kramade om mig och snälla klättrare försökte hitta kylspray och lindor. Peter som just hade åkt hemåt fick rycka ut och komma och hämta oss med surfbussen och så rullade vi till akuten i Mölndal. Kring midnatt hade jag fått min första dom: Inget brutet men skador på ligamenten i vänster knä. Sjukskrivning i 2 veckor. Hem och vila, sedan återbesök hos sjukgymnast. Vi som skulle åka iväg i 15 månader om bara några veckor! Noooo..!

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Den 18e februari var jag tillbaka på Ortopeden i Mölndal för att bli opererad. Det var inte bara en liten stukning jag hade åsamkat mig själv. Efter att ha fått göra en MR-scanning innan nyår hade läkarna konstaterat att främre korsbandet var av och att det fanns skador på meniskerna. Jag läste på allt vad jag kunde hitta om korsband, pratade med mina vänner som var sjukgymnaster och ortopeder och konstaterade att jag ville göra en operation. Så där låg jag nu i en varm sjukhussäng, fick nålar i armvecken och droger i blodet. Räknade baklänges från 10 och fnittrade ”Det här är som att svimma när man fridyker!” Sedan stängdes medvetandet ner.

På uppvaket grinar jag igen. Jag har aldrig varit skadad på riktigt innan och nu väntar en lång rehabperiod. Jag är säker på att jag kommer bli bra, det här är ingen konstig skada, men det är tungt att vara en sprallapa och veta att de närmsta 8-9 månaderna kommer att gå i ett dämpat tecken. Jag vill ju klättra och springa och dyka och leka som vanligt. Jag vill ju alltid allt. Skit också.

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Den 18e april har jag avklarat min första vecka tillbaka på jobbet som trädgårdsmästare på Botaniska. Två månader efter operation är jag där och rensar, sågar, krattar, skyfflar. Jag är alldeles lycklig över att det går så bra, att jag trots en ghetto limp kan utföra mitt jobb och får vara tillbaka i trädgården igen. Ortosen har åkt av bara några dagar tidigare och vänster ben är illans spinkigt, men vad gör det? Jag får vara mig själv, ute i det fria.

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Fem månader senare, den 18e september, ligger jag och guppar i Medelhavet och asgarvar tillsammans med mina fellow vattendjur, Linda och Sofia. Vi har just avslutat våra sista, goa träningsdyk ner i det djupblå. Vi har gjort vårt bästa för att vara redo inför VM, och nu känner vi oss starka som satan. Jag har haft hela 7 träningsdagar här i Kalamata och har nått en platå på djupet kring 57 meter. Det känns helt absurt roligt. Hur kan en kropp fixa att gå från kvaddad till 80-90% funktionell på sju månader? Jag blir blank i ögonen när jag tänker på tiden som gått.

Jag har redan vunnit mitt VM.

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Allt som händer från och med nu är bara bonus oavsett hur det går. Jag är så jävla stolt över mitt psyke, att jag i samtal med sjukgymnast, fridykarvänner, Tim och chefer någon gång i maj kom fram till att jo, om jag bara tränar som jag ska så är det helt ok att åka på VM och tävla, även om mitt knä inte är helt återställt. Planen är satt, och jag verkställer den med iver.

Det är tio månader sedan jag skadade mig. Inte i min vildaste fantasi hade jag kunnat tro att det där klätterpasset skulle leda mig tillbaka ner i havs famn, men det var precis vad det gjorde.

Livet är bra fantastiskt.

Jag älskar att leva! Jag älskar att jag låter mig själv FÅ leva. Jag älskar att vara här, just nu, 200 meter från havet och med världens bästa landslag runtomkring mig. Imorgon ska jag ha en riktigt rolig första tävlingsdag!

 

Back on the National Team in Freediving

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto: Aleksander Nordahl, www.aleksandernordahl.com
Kielstraumen and Bekkasundet, Bergen, Norway, 2016

I’m a freediver.

Five years ago this was what came out of my heart:

And where was she? In a small fjord in Sweden, gurgling with happiness together with her freediving friends. She said: I too wanna go down with the weights! And so the rope got pulled up again by strong arms, the others watched her while she breathed in – and out – in – and out, and then with a big smile, she nodded and the rope was set free. So was she!
Soaring through the cold sea, down, down, her body vibrating from the speed, her eardrums going : pop : pop : pop : with every equalization, her eyes looking out into the darkness, visibility better than most days, she saw the thermocline passing by, the stinging jellyfish with their long tentacles spread out horizontally as if they were imitating the sun with beautiful rays shooting out from its centre. She saw the rocky grey wall, and thought – this is our own fantastic Green Hole, we don’t need to fly to blue holes in other parts of the world when we have this magic place to come to!
She hung down there for just a few seconds, then pulled once at the rope and started her swim towards the surface. Strong, smooth kicks, eyes semi-closed, just looking at the rope every now and then, and sensing the light coming back as she moved upwards. This was her world, right there and then, she was alone inside the most beautiful element on this planet: Water

Peace. Kick. Ful. Kick. Ness. Kick. Glide.
Breathe!
Alive! So alive!

Five years ago was the last time I was training for a World Championship. I had hubris. I had recently been crowned the worlds third best female freediver.

Five years ago I was crying at that WC because I couldn’t relax and reach my goals in the depth. Hubris…

Five years is not a very long time, yet it felt like an eon passed before I could go back to deep diving just for myself, for fun, for the bliss.

Something finally clicked inside me last year, allowing me access to myself and to the depth again. I calmed down like an excited electron coming back to an inner shell, after emitting sparks and energy further out. I had been spinning for so long… IMG_9792P1090246

This spring I came back to the competitive arena at the Swedish Championships, where I snatched a bronze medal in the only discipline me and my knee were fit to compete in: static apnea, aka ”holding-your-breath-while-lying-still-face-down-in-water”. That dive planted a first seed, a first thought of wanting to compete in the worlds this year with the women’s team. But I pushed it away, thinking my ACL, knee and leg wouldn’t be strong enough by September.

Still the seed grew inside me, and I joked about it with the ladies with whom I would like to have a team, and with the rest of my freediving crew here in Gothenburg. Then Tim said, ”you love freediving, you should go!” Thanks darlin.  So then I asked my physiotherapist what she thought and she said ”GO, you’ll be stronger than ever by then!” Oh. Wow. This lead to asking my bosses if I could have extra time of from the Botanical Garden and they said ”YES, that’s great for you, we’ll make it work!” Oh.

Really? I can go?
I can go!

HELLO! HELLOOOO SWEDISH FREEDIVERS! I WANT A SPOT ON THE TEAM!

I did another qualifying dive in the pool, not pushing it, just getting the score of a DYN, aka ”dive-as-long-as-you-can-with-fins-in-a-pool”. And that was that. Now the qualification window has closed and I’m in, back on the national team for the fifth time together with Linda and Sofia from Fridykarkommunen.se. I couldn’t have hoped for better comrades in this upcoming adventure! Come to think of it, these women are probably the first reason for me wanting to compete this year, because I trust them fully, I trust them with my life in the water, and I know we will rock together!13116245_516252981919290_7241338310897114731_o

I’m glad that my knee injury gave me the chance to grace myself with another shot at a playful, harmonious competition in freediving. Going back to compete in Kalamata, the same place as the last WC I was at in 2011, feels like closing a circle.

No crying this time 🙂

//ze zealion

Ethical living, free living

I want to live!

I never wanted to slip into some kind of sustainability expert guru role that scared people away. My goal was to stay a speckled animal, to be both in the normal world and in sustopia. But the more I went for being an example of the ethically correct ways of acting in the world of today, the more confined and separated I got. The more I tried to show with my actions ways of lessening your impact on this Earth system, the more strangled I got. I’ve had so many issues with money and how it’s made, with shame and why more of us are not ashamed of our actions, with the consumption society and endless growth, with individualistic ego trippers, the shortsightedness of man etc.

I wanted to live in a righteous way, but without using outdated religious assumptions. For some time I was also appalled by natural science and it’s love for details and blindness for the larger picture, seeing that the world view I grew up with and came to love also had its flaws. Unexamined assumptions, so potentially positively powerful but for the most, harmful…

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I don’t believe anymore that there is the One True Idea that will appeal to everyone. For sure I was hoping for it, for the unity it would bring. Growing older and continuously traveling the world and submerging myself in various human cultures, I was looking for the similarities that would serve as examples of us all being more or less the same. And sure, they are there. Family. Love. Fulfilling work. Leisure. Freedom. And I was thinking, Yes! We all have the same mental and bodily roots, we could all want to save ourselves and the biological blanket which covers this pale blue dot spinning in space. And I was thinking, Yes! All we need is an evolution of our mutual consciousness and we’ll get there, all we need is free education for all so that we can speak the same symbols and words and meanings! And I was hopeful and strong and young, and I was the one who had to spearhead this change. And everyone I had met along my adventurous road of life had said ”Whoa, little lady, how did you dare do that? How could you swim so deep into the ocean on one breath? How could you walk across Spain? Solobike through Europe? Move to another country all alone? Live in a tent for months? Your such a strong young woman… I never even dreamt of doing any of those things. I mean, I never even had the thought enter my mind.”

And I pitied all the small, scared souls with no brave and great dreams. I did not understand that their dreams were just as brave and great but that we came from different backgrounds and probably with a different persona from day one. My soul is a lunar landscape, is the ocean, is a mountain range. It is wast and hugely unexplored and tantalizing and fantastic. It makes me curious and I want to get to know it, so I set out on all these physical adventures to be able to get to that point where body and mind are a singularity and the crossover is real. I need these experiences to function. Many others do not, they crave not the extreme corners but find their soul in other aspects of life. I thought, I must take what I have learned from being an adventurous soul and use it to my best ability in the every-day-work I will carve out for myself.

You see, I was fearing the takeover of the ego and an egoistic path, fearing that I would not be doing enough good in this world if I stuck to my adventure life, I said to my self, to my soul: Enough with the flying and the traveling. Start acting responsible where you once came from. Go home. Work with what you’ve got.

Engineering. Permaculture. Ethical banking. Urban gardening. Foraging. All responsible areas. I took them very seriously and lost myself along the way.

That decision of responsible acting, to more actively give back to society, was the start of a long internal journey in an ethical and moral landscape, inherited by me from a long tradition of thinkers from around the globe. I have loved and hated this journey. I guess it’s not over yet but at least I have passed one of the most treacherous stages, where I have been confronting the idea of being able to carry others along with carrying myself through life. I know now that I can’t. I will always continue to lend a hand when needed, but the rest each person must face themselves.

AndesI feel like I’ve been crossing over a high mountain pass, starting out strong and fully fueled up, coming up to the pass for a short break, taking in the view, seeing and mentally noting down the surrounding peaks I would love to climb in the future. Heading down on the other side I enter a new valley of life and it’s different and takes me by surprise. I’m tired as I come down to the flatlands again, I slip and fall and snap my knee backwards, but a slow river is calling me and I strip of all that I carry as I sink into its waters. I let this liquid carry me, I let everything be ok. I roll over to hold my breath in the crystal cold, and I finally enter the landscape of my soul as a free mind.

“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.”
― George Gordon Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

Gardening the Planet

We all want and need things in life. The ”wants” can differ in all directions, wanting a job or a phone, wanting a girlfriend or a new life. Emotional needs like feeling special and wanted intermingle with physical needs such as food and shelter.

Having had the opportunity throughout life to figure out some of my own wants and needs, I tend to also go meta level to try to see the patterns of these wishes so that I can make them happen more easily and often.

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Just below Cerro Rincon, Silver Mountains, Argentina.

A huge need for me is to live my life in an adventurous way. Pushing my own limits is a constant source of energy, and the opposite – not pushing – is draining. That’s why I freedive. That’s why I climb. That’s why I surf, go long distance cycling, go paragliding, hike for weeks and do all kinds of personal athletic challenges. It’s also why I study, study and study some more – my brain is always in need of new facts, new input. That’s why I started a company and put myself in front of hundreds of students and listeners as an educator.

But, that last bit of starting a company is – in retrospect – also the point when things started getting a bit complicated a few years back. It turned out to be less of an adventure and more of an eroding experience. I turned out more stressed and less free. Sure, it gave me a huge chunk of experiences and new wisdom plus a weird, organically composed human network to tap into, but it also dragged me towards the center of the mass where I really don’t feel that I belong.

This, on the other hand, this is where I belong. In places in nature where most people would think they are about to die, because they’re out of air or just to tired to hold on.

I’m an edge person. I hate being stuck in the middle of something, be that a group of people or an area of science. The way I kindled my little company to life was very much in an edgy way, but in the end the entrepreneurial gravity started tugging at me, spinning me inwards. I was choking and leaking, unable to reset my navigation.

Here’s two important clues as to what happened:

  • I was working solo ==> Not feeding my brain enough, that is: To few deep work relations, to many shallow ones.
  • I was working odd hours ==> Not feeding my personal social adventurous life enough, but instead draining myself of energy.

So what do you do in that position? Keep on going, hoping that you’re soon over the hill and that on the other side you’ll be able to hire colleagues, get a work space and set a routine for your working hours so that you can also have some ”free” time again?

Nah. I did one of my meta level zoomed out analyses and figured it was better to go low key with the entrepreneurial stuff, get a job at an established workplace and start honing my skills and up my experience in the field where I have finally realized that I want to be (even though I have yet to discover on what step in the hierarchy I shall place myself).

That field could be called something like Gardening the Planet, in the most regenerative way possible. I am sure I will get there, and it will be together with others. Meanwhile, I will also hold a large space for adventure.

So here I am, about to start my second season at the Botanical Garden in Gothenburg. I actually feel like I own all my titles now, that I AM a gardener, an engineer, a permaculturist, and that even though I don’t have a paper stating that I’m an adventurer, that doesn’t matter because I’ve always been that. I’m still ranked as the best female freediver in Sweden of all times. I still biked all the way to Gibraltar to look over the strait at Africa while chatting with monkeys. I still moved to Argentina and became una andinista. Those experiences will never go away, and I will be forever grateful to myself for being so annoyingly stubborn that I keep on setting myself new, odd goals.

This summer, we will be swimming for 10 days in a fjord somewhere in Norway, our equipment stuffed on SUP-boards. I am so looking forward to this little adventure and the gardening season, before the larger 15-months adventure goes boom in 2017.

Oskar, Klara and Eric swimming with a longboard in Gullmarsfjorden, 2009.
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Forza! Norway, 2012. I had gotten stung by a wasp, my left foot supersized, unable to squeeze into a pair of climbing shoes. Hiking in flip flops was the alternative option.
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This summer, MounTim will come with me, the sealion, on an ocean adventure… yay!

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Balance

Sometimes I think that climbing and freediving are just two sides of the same coin, and that that’s why I’m so drawn to them. Both activities include close interaction with the elements (e.g. rock or water), a strong mental focus, physical strength, the need to perform and relax at the same time, mostly small scale equipment, an individual performance coupled with the need for a team, and the feeling of being free and one with nature.

But then, when I start to compare how these two activities makes me feel, in my mind and in my body, the differences are abundant.

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Rock climbing, to me, is about the flow and repetition of a differentiated set of small details and small moves. Your hip turning ever so slightly towards the rock face, allowing you to reach that next crimper, then your momentum can be shifted over to your left foot by adjusting your balance on that tiniest of holds, just a small rocking movement and you’re there… You tie into the rope and narrow your world down to what is of the essence of right now – the features of the rock face measured against your bodily and mental capacity. The most beautiful climbs are set in a mental state of flow. You know that you do not know what awaits you up there, and you relish that feeling and succumb to it. Freedom is being fearless.

Freediving is an entirely different set of repetitive movements. They’re larger, more simplified. You are a wave. Punto y final. The pattern of freediving is less complex when it comes to what muscles you use and how you move your body, and so it calls for less mental activity. While practicing freediving, you get to know your own breath before and after a dive, and you familiarize yourself with its impact on your state of being. You get to know your own inner landscape, because during a breath-hold, that’s all there is to see. The only way to escape from meeting yourself is to surface again, and why would you want to do that? A freediver longs for the depth, for the intimacy it provides. Freediving is meditation and thoughtless contemplation. With this self awareness, you walk through everyday life a stronger person. It’s a simple and beautiful gift.

Freediving calms your mind, rock climbing activates it. They both lead to a state of flow, but for different reasons. I cherish them both.

The trick is to understand how to do both without constantly loosing your essential climbing calluses from swimming in the ocean for too long 😉