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I deleted my blog.
I deleted six years of blogging.
I deleted over 300 entries.
I let go.

It took a lot of time. As I removed the posts, individually,  I drank nettle and fennel thea, and let my eyes rest on the crisp white surface on the world outside these old windows. Chop wood. Fetch water.
Do what needs to be done.
If I learned anything in the forest it is this: do what needs to be done.
Even when you´re scared or have doubts or don´t really know what needs to be done, just push through, work hard with your hands, my hands where dancing over the keyboard, it was nice.
Kind of like chopping the head of a chicken. Definitive. Necessary.

I also deleted my facebook account but I´m still on instagram

It took me a lot of time to finally realize that what had once been liberating and creative had now become a cannonball tied to my wrist. Being stuck in a story. Tied to autofiction/creative fiction, the genre that has no ENDING.

See, stories cannot be like that. They need to have a beginning and an ending, you need to finish the chapters and close the book. Not because you´re constantly “reinventing yourself” (read: as if thats a bad thing) but because you CHANGE.
Everything changes all of the time. That´s the second most important think I learned in the forest.

The written word fixates. This is the power of it. But as I have lived like this I have become more and more flexible – at the same time more clear, robust, there, than ever.
How to transcribe that?
How to transmit it?
It´s so contradictory.

I couldn´t.
You know this, you´ve seen how I´ve gradually written less and less in this space- and more and more in my secret, hidden manuscript, well tugged in between my many essays and projects on this computer. I´ve written over 400 pages on nature and spirituality, norse mythology and, well, um, me. I still believe in the power of the written word and in the importance of having a voice, using it, I just also believe that some stories are not linear and cannot be told in such a fashion (even when you try) and some stories are more like a carrier bag of acorns (i.e ursula le guins carrier bag theory on fiction) and my carrier bag has been full, I needed to empty it.

“Tell the same story again and again until you understand it” the ghost said but I think I understand it now.
That´s the why.

*

A couple of nights ago it was the dark moon, then the thinnest, most fragile new moon.
I was sitting on a big iceage old rock in the darkness, gazing over the moonlit landscape, I was there with a friend, we were just there to observe.
To sit still on a large rock.
To observe.

That´s where I´ll be.

But you know, I know you know, you whom have followed me for all these years and have witnessed – that I love you and that I am very grateful, so grateful!
We have buildt trust and a little bit of community, strangers connecting is really one of the most powerful things on earth. For your reading pleasure I give you this. These are the lines along which I am thinking currently: this is well written and interesting.

I also, as always, recommend that you read some Ben Hewitt. He is very down to earth in his writing style. Down to earth is good.

Also if you read german or know anybody who does I recommend my book about our first year in the forest.
You can also buy it in danish of course.
I recommend it because I´m proud of it. It took me some years to tell the story, then understand the story, then to be proud of it. If anything I have come to realize that stories takes time.

And in order to tell them properly you need to sit quitely on large rocks, sometimes for a little longer than you anticipated and sometimes you have to let go if you want to hold on.

 

Why are you online (you shouldn´t be)?


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First of all:
Since moving into the woods I´ve realized that people seem to have very strong opinions about how it should be/how we should be/how we should act/think/communicate.
Why?
I think it´s because moving out is in contrast and therefore “has to be” the opposite of living in society. I think that´s why.
I often meet this  line of non- argument: “Since you live in nature you should be spiritual, grounded, happy and detest technology”.
Well. I´m not and I don´t.
As if technology is impure, dirty, and modern people aren´t spiritual, grounded or happy.
It´s says a lot actually…. if you look to the way we´re “supposed to be” when we live like this.

My point being: I refuse to take the role, live the fantasy, be the opposite- since I believe this very thinking is what fucks it up for all of us.
Polarized.
Either/or.
With us or against us.

We are who we are and we live as we please. We´re not pushing a lifestyle. We´re not selling anything. We´re just trying to negotiate with society, with modernity, with ourselves.
I´m just just a woman trying to make amends. I´m just a woman seeking out an alternative.

This is very important to me and I find myself repeating it again and again.
We are NOT fulfilled, authentic, whole or happy, we havn´t found “the good life”.
I think “the good life” is a lie. I think life is supposed to suck, sometimes, I don´t believe in paradise.

But I DO think this lifestyle is better than the one we had before. Better for us and yes, for the planet. I think the modern lifestyle is unsustainable for both the planet and for most of the humans. There. I said it.

Second of all:
We´ve become pragmatic. More than anything.
It´s kind of clever this internet. It gives you access to information and youtube videos. We were not experts when we got here. We need to learn stuff. Plus I´m a writer. This is wired into my existence. I need to communicate. I do not feel guilty about this however I admit that it is hard to administrate the internet. The first year here we lived without internet in the cabin and I often look back on that year and I miss it.

Third of all: Why are we supposed to be “holier than thou”, consistent and “better”?
I think this narrative is suppressing and I wont comply. There´s so much bullshit in the world already lets not create unrealistic stories.

I am not a consistent human being. I do not try to be. As Walt Whitman put it

“Do I contradict myself?
Very well.
Then I contradict myself.

I am large.
I contain multitudes”

That was the long answer.
The short answer is this: It´s how we earn our money. We have decided that we can´t live completely without money (= gasoline, coffee ect) so we need to get some and this is how we get some.

Why do you share your story/why are you in the media?

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  1. Because you wouldn´t know that some sort of alternative existed if people like me didn´t tell the story.
  2. Because I´m an attention-whore/because I can´t stop being a storyteller/because I´m haunted by this weird need of selfactualization, recognition, succes.
  3. Because, allthough this began as a definitive selfish move (”get away, get away, before we die, run to the hills!”) we have become rather concerned with the more ideological, ecological and political challenges our world faces. Rising social inequality, injustice, facism and hate… to stay silent is to betray our moral human duty.
    Yes. That IS how I see it.

What does it mean to live off grid?

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Living off grid means different things to different people.
In my opinion living off grid means being AWARE of what grids we are connected to and actively choosing between them (the electrical grid, the road networks, the money grid, the communications grid ect).
See, all grids have a price. And all grids have their advantages.
We are off grid (electrically) but online (communicationwise).
No biggie.
The first year in the forest we detached ourselves from as many grids as possible but as we became more and more pragmatic we “opted in” and “opted out” according to our needs, wants and ideologies. As I said: we negotiate.To us the off grid life means doing as much as possible ourselves. Taking down our own trees, making our own fires. It´s a framework for our thoughts. We want to be independent. We want to be free to choose.

How can you take part in a society that you are so critical towards?
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Think about it.
Think.
The consequence of this question is imperative.
(you can only be a part of society if you accept and reinforce the status qou?)

 

What role does loneliness play in your current life compared to in your old life?
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It´s a good question and it´s kind of hard to answer.
I don´t think we´ve ever been more social than we are here in the forest- which came as a big surprise to me.
In the summertime our land is buzzing with guests, woofers, volunteers. We often hang out with our neighbours, help each other, eat dinner together… but it´s never planned, it´s never organized, scheduled and it dosn´t have the element of “forced sociability”.
See, we came to the forest because we´re a little strange. We´re a little off and a little weird.
Out here it´s ok… which makes it a lot easier to hang out with people!
Yes, and sometimes it is lonely and boresome for the kids and sometimes, during winter, we get the cabin fever. Everything has is ups and downs. It´s the intensity of all of these feelings that make us stay here.

What do you miss most about civilization and Denmark?

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Well. We´re still a part of civilisation, we´re still a part of modern life, I think we are all born into a cultural and normative context, it´s in our heads, we can´t escape: we are all children of our time.
I miss kebab and french fries and all the cultural events (that we never had the time or the money to attend anyways), live music and such. There is something absolutely stunning about the feeling of being a flock… together with other human beings.

What about the kids?

The kids are doing fine 🙂
The older kids are not living at home anymore- they are out in the world, doing their thing, experimenting as they should.
They are not super keen at having their pictures taken and I respect that.
Our first year in the forest was magical, we sat around the fire each night TALKING to eachother. We needed that. And the children were taught basic humans skills (building a fire, building a house, how to kill a rooster) it gave them selfconfidence and a real sense of teamwork.
The first year was also extremely hard. It was hard. No doubt about it. But it was worth it and I know they are proud of what we have accomplished. Together.
See our story in pictures here.

Regarding the logs for your house… how did you do it? Did you take down the trees and let them dry before you build the house?

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We´ve buildt two houses.
The first year we took down trees and built the house with them directly, but the trees were dead, killed by an evil beetle, and stood like normal trees, only they were bone dry.

Jeppe notes: “However they got wet while we built and the house settled a lot. Too much really.
I would build with green wood if I were to do it again, and simply leave ample room in the notched corners and around windows and doors for the house to settle and shrink. That’s what people used to do, and it works well. Also green wood is so much easier to work with than old dry logs…”
Due to various reason (which you can read about in my book) we decided to leave the original log cabin and build a new one. This is the house we live in now. It´s buildt out of the material of a very old cabin that we took down plus whatever scrap material we could get our hands on.
Jeppe is dreaming about building a third house.
What are your visions for the place you live now? Do you rent the land, are you still Danish citizens, do you want a larger community?

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Our vision is to become as self-sufficient as possible. We´ve realized a couple of things though.

1. We can’t be self-sufficient with coffee, chocolate, sugar, salt spices ect and we are not ready to live without these things.
(I do believe however that we must all lower our standards of living as a result as climate changes and social unrest, I think this imperative and I admit that not being willing to live without the above is an expression of double standards)
2. We have slowly moved from a vibe of “cabin in the woods” to a vibe of “small homestead”.
This is not necessarily what we want (to run a small farm) which is also why we have chosen to not have larger animals anymore (instead we buy meat from our homesteading neighbour).

Regarding the community. We´ve learnt a LOT about this and the current situation is this: we do not expect anything from anybody. We adore our neighbours, we like to hang out with them, we help each other but building community is not our number one priority, we like the metaphor (and the pragmatic sensibility) of the neighbours.

We are swedish residents and Danish citizens.
We do not rent the land. We are allowed to live here for free.
How about the Captain, what happened to him?

He inherited his money and drifted away on a sailboat. I often think about him.

How about the future- do you think about it or is it one day at a time?

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Yeah, I think about it. I know that we can never go back to a “normal” lifestyle again- but I also know that it hardens the soul and makes you feel unfree if you live through long-term plans.

Do you want to be self-sufficient in the future?

We thoroughly enjoy working in the garden, making our own produce, collecting wild edible plants, canning, drying ect. but there is also a sense of necessity to it and a sense of resilience.
So yes. We want to be self-sufficient but, as mentioned above, we don´t think it is realistic FOR US to ever be completely self-sufficient. We like to trade and barter. We like to have the time and energy to also write and make music.

Why have you chosen not to move to one of the preexisting eco-communities?
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I think these places tends to mirror society too much. And more often than not you need a lot of money to buy or build a house and there are all kinds of rules, regulations and pressure to conform and eat together ect.
I respect what the ecovillages are doing but we also needed to take a more fundamental step.

Did you finish your first house and does anybody live there?
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Yes, our friend lives there and plans to finish the building this summer (the upper roof needs fixing and doors and windows needs to be attached to the frames that we made)

PS. You should totally buy my book


POST SCRIPTUM
this is written many years later: we have now moved south to a milder forest where foraging is easy and where we feel more at home (beech, oak, alder, rowan, elderberry and roses).
I have since deleted six years of blogposts on this blog. Like closing a book. 

The story is this:
Jeppe and I first time met when we were teenagers. Many years later we reconnected and it didn´t take us long to get married (two months).
I had 3 children from previous marriage  and soon we added a fourth to the bundle. From there on things got crazy.
“Normal life” had us screaming and shouting and crying and trembling- so one day we decided to run.
And ran we did.
Into the wild.

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We ran to a little cabin in the woods called “Svensäter”. We had made an arrangement with the owner of the land- to live in that little cabin while we built ourselves a new one. From the ground. Out of natural materials.

Building a shelter seems to be the most basic of all human needs. We wanted to reconnect with the most basic of all human needs.

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To do so we needed help. Someone to teach us the stuff you don´t learn in school. His name is Jo but we called him Captain. He lived 10 years in a tipi in these woods, as a wild man.
We reached out online- he grabbed our hands and he helped us. We owe him much.
He became our neighbour. He lived on a small farm nearby. Our vision was to create a community of families living in the forest, helping each other.

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It was a time of great optimism and joy.

first freedomWe felt free. And unafraid.

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Every evening turned into nights around the fireplace. We were talking. As a family, for the first time, really talking.
We talked a lot about society and the life we had before.
Those were magic nights!

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We wanted a garden, we wanted to grow most of our own food. Allthough Svensäter was a beautiful place, located in a river valley, surrounded by mountains from where the wolves did howl (I kid you not) – we soon came to realize that the soil in the Swedish forest is not at all like Denmark.
We learned that you must grow soil just as much as you must grow vegetables. We learned about forest farming, permaculture and hugelkultur raised beds.

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These were our first crops. They were very green.

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Our relations changed. The kids were not just kids, their efford mattered. We depended on their help.
They grew. They took care of each other.
I will, to this day, claim that children needs to be needed and that what we did changed their life to the better.

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And what he did changed his life to the better.

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Slowly a house began to emerge from the forest floor.

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We were heroes.
But also, underneath all of this – a growing crisis. Who are we, what have we done, is this even allowed? We dealt with the past. And the present. And the future. In a way this experience was a full blown family therapy session that lasted for a whole year. It was very intense.

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We had to figure out new ways of doing everything. The dustman don´t come to the forest, what to do with the trash? And the laundry? I washed it in the river and it took forever…. and then came autumn.

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Everything became wet and foggy and cold. We had to hurry. Soon winter would come and 6 people living in Svensäter did seem quite unrealistic.

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My sister came and lived with us for a couple of months. Everybody worked on the house. We had to get it done! (this is my sister and my daughter and some girlpower!)

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And the people of the forest came to help us too.

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Winter came. We lost morale. It was time to face some hard realizations. Friendships were put to a test.

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Minus 25 degrees celcius. Six people at Svensäter. People from the forest would come to our place for coffee and cake. Every day.

We felt that we had to choose. Family first.
We decided to move. We left Svensäter and gave the almost finished building to the community.
Svensäter continues to be a place for many people. A portal into the parallel world of the forest.

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It was hard to walk away. One of the hardest thing we´ve ever done.

In the midst of the hardest winter, on a dark cold winternight we had a family meeting. We decided to stay in Sweden and continue this lifestyle. But we would find another place that suited our needs better. Somewhere with better soil. Somewhere that was not the center of a community. Somewhere not quite as harsh.

We decided to enroll the kids in school. We decided to get electricity. We decided to get internet. We decided that we needed more space.

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Our neighbours (hence forward called “the angels”) let us live in their guesthouse for a little while. We needed to regroup.
As the ice on the lake slowly began to melt (you have to listen to this. It is so beautiful!) we found our friendships again, we found each other again, we found…

they found cabins

an abandoned cabin the woods. And a barn.  Facing south.
We were inspired…

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… to begin again.
We would take down the cabin and the barn and use whatever material that wasn´t rotten. We would build ourselves a home.

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He cut down trees and worked very hard- but he also remembered what raw experience had taught us. You cannot work too hard. You cannot drive yourself off the cliff.

soweto trailer park

Friends gave us two trailers and we created a trailerpark to live in, while we took down the old houses.

our outdoor kitchen the forest can be a jungle

We had a gypsy home in the middle of the jungle.

to dismantle the old cabin

And the work began.

still taking care of the little one

Same procedure as last year.

we made a sign

A new era began. We were better. We knew more. We had learned from experience.

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Everybody was in it together.
We had established ourselves in the forest and connected with the broader community.The younger kids began in school and part time daycare to learn the language and get some friends (also homeschooling is illegal in Sweden). We worked according to schedule, we knew what to do.

But then two things happened.

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These boots were made for walking.
The twins turned 17 and it was time for them to enter High School. It was important for them to meet new friends so we enrolled them in a boarding school system they have here in Sweden. A “Folkhögskola”. They would only be home on the weekends.

mommy sick on the couch

I became very sick and had to undergo major surgery (removal of my uterus among other things). This completely immobilized me and I was tied to the couch. Getting a solar panel allowed me to be online and write some.

i got sick but we were happy

We advertised for help- and we got it. Our first “wilderness au pair” was the fabulous Christina. Then came Ann-Sophie and Mikkel, then Pernille and then Josephine. Thank you SOOOO much for your help!!!
Our neighbourgs also came one day, bringing with them a team of woofers (Willing Woorkers On Organic Farms).

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Mother in law also came. Later she kindly donated money for rockwool insulation. We wouldn´t be here without her.

my daddy is building a house

Meanwhile all these changes, people coming and going, sickness and sunshine… little Sigurd grew and a house grew behind him.

entrance

roof

We used scrap material and everything we could find. As soon as the roof was on we moved in. That night, the first night….

lighting the fire for the first time

…and the first time we lit the fire…

wow.

This house in now our home. This is where we live.
We taught our children to do things themselves, we taught them teamwork, we taught them how to overcome stuff and we taught them to be proud.
I´m proud.

Here´s some pictures from our house.