Going Home


The other day I found an old, brown napkin in the pocket of my winter coat. 

It was a folded memory from a cold winter’s eve, a dinner at Jah Bar with my good friend Pete. A night of careless enjoyment – of life, red wine and a seemingly endless stream of delicious tapas being brought out from the restaurant kitchen. Pete’s suitcase was tucked underneath the table. He had just arrived from some faraway Neverland, and was to stay with me for some days. Or weeks, who would know. I had a home to offer – a renovation site turned upside down but nonetheless a home – and we were both excited to be spending some quality time together. 

Pete is a visual artist. A photographer and creator of crazy things. When words catch his attention he likes to visualise them. We talked about life, love, dreams, ideas. He soon grabbed a pen from his jacket and started scribbling down some of my words on his brown paper napkin. I talked about how I wanted to feel, and he drew a cross on the napkin and entered my four words in capital letters, one in each square. As the evening came to an end and we left to head home, tipsy and happy, he stuck the napkin in my pocket. “You keep this one”, he said.

I have worn that winter coat on many cold nights since that evening two years ago. I’ve felt the napkin in my pocket, but never really looked at it. I knew the words. I did not have to look.


I’ve been mid-year reflecting, and the theme of 2017 so far seems to be ‘home’. I’ve been recurrently going home. Home to Sweden, home to mum and dad, home to past. Home to me – my sometimes uncomfortable truths, my fears and wants and needs. But also home to future, home to a new family, home to love. I found the one who gently cracked me open without letting me break. I got him as a birthday gift! Standing in the bathroom of a Hong Kong hotel a week before the big day I finally surrendered and asked for love. Staring into the eyes in the mirror I asked myself what I really, REALLY wanted. “To spend my 40th birthday with someone who loves me”, was the unexpected reply, and a stab in my heart confirmed it was true.

He arrived four days early, running towards me with excitement. Bravely putting his foot in the door. Staying with persistence. Wearing his heart on the sleeve. No, he was not the perfect picture I had painted. I resisted, I wanted to run, but my heart kept saying “stay!”. “You cannot ask for love then slam the door when it three days later arrives at your doorstep!”, it said, and so with panic in my eyes I took a leap of faith and followed him to Vietnam. I spent the strike of midnight of my 40th birthday in a breathtaking rooftop bar in Ho Chi Minh City next to a stranger in tuxedo, feeling…loved. 

Now, nine months later, he is no stranger. I still feel loved, more so than ever, but I also feel safe – safe to speak my heart and mind without risking to loose that love. Safe to be fully me in all my irrational complexity. Relying on that he will capitalise on my best interest. Knowing that I will capitalise on whatever is best for him. That is trust.

I am proud of our love. It inspires me even in my most self-critical moments.


It’s July, and winter is holding Sydney in its arms. For a few weeks crisp clear skies are forcing the temperatures down to single digits during the nights, and my winter coat has once again a prime position in my wardrobe. As I was getting ready to go out the other night I found the old napkin and put it on my bedside table. Yesterday, whilst cleaning, I picked it up, unfolded it and read the four words Pete wrote – “SAFE, INSPIRED, PROUD, LOVED”. Four sides of the same coin. Turning it over, there was a quote: “We’re just expanding – Johanna”. Then, as I unfolded it further, I was astound to read two more words in capital letters, words I had no memory of ever saying: “ACCOMPLISHED SINGER”.

Did my heart silently remember those words as it told me to follow a stranger on his way to Vietnam to perform? 


As I started this blog early last year I was petrified of judgement – not of strangers but of those I love. Petrified that their love would turn out to be conditional, that the honest me would make them turn away. Petrified of hurting someone with my feelings. I had blogged before, but always hiding behind ‘funny’. Pushed forward by an invisible hand I found myself diving into the raw core of the uncomfortable feelings I feared would leave me abandoned if expressed. Like a child testing the boundaries of love. Finally. I guess at some point in our lives not trusting becomes more painful than abandonment, than rejection, than the fear of loosing something we in that case never had. 

It’s been a long time since I posted regularly. I’ve written hundreds of texts and poems, then lost the feeling and left them hiding for no-one to see. Now, feeling safe, proud, inspired, loved, my old craving for acceptance is no longer the driving force. Now, feeling safe, proud, inspired, loved, what is it I want to share and why? Where is ‘home’ for my writing? Where are my words not just adding more noise to an already screaming world? 

Truth is whatever was felt for a second, and it stays true although that second is gone. I need to remember that when I no longer relate to my words and want to toss them away. That they are still true. What’s noise to me may be a melody to you if you’re tuned in to the right radio station.


This is where I am right now. Sitting with the feelings that belong to love, but also with those that belong to change. Both comfortable ones and uncomfortable ones. Taking one step at the time. Slowly, slowly going home. Home to SAFE, PROUD, INSPIRED, LOVED. Home to an accomplished singer and his two teenage daughters. Home to expansion – through challenges and uncertainty and brave leaps of faith.

Home to all that was written on a folded, brown napkin in a tapas restaurant on a cold winter’s eve.

The End of a Love Story


As I am saying goodbye, I’d like to take you back to the beginning – a sunny Saturday in October 2014. I was walking down a quiet residential street framed by beautiful old federation villas, as I saw people waiting on the sidewalk for an open home inspection. I was not in a hurry anywhere, so I decided to join to have a look inside. I love houses, especially old, soulful ones. I love getting a glimpse of who they are and might have been, feel their history for a brief moment. I was not looking to buy a new home, I didn’t even know if I wanted to stay in Australia! I had sold my previous apartment and packed up my life ten months earlier to make the decision to go back to Europe as easy as possible. Since then, me and my two suitcases had stayed with various friends in different parts of Sydney when I wasn’t travelling for work. I guess I believed that with no roots in the ground, the answer would come to me. It hadn’t. Instead my autoimmune condition had gotten worse and I’d become chronically fatigued, to the point of finally, after years of stubborn resistance, surrendering and taking time off work to heal. After sleeping for six weeks I eventually had enough energy to go for short walks. Which brought me to this street, on this day, standing amongst a small crowd of people wondering if I should maybe just continue my stroll. The house seemed a bit dark and worn down, and probably wasn’t that interesting to explore. But the real estate agent came, interrupting my contemplating thoughts, and so I followed him through a narrow pathway to the back of the house together with a dozen other people. 

It was a stabbing feeling. As if something hit me hard in the chest. The second I entered the living room, I KNEW! The situation felt overwhelming, the idea crazy, the experience irrational, but still – I felt CHOSEN! I went home, checked my excel sheets backwards and forwards and backwards again. Talked to my brother. I let my mind join my heart. Nothing changed. I knew it was not rational, but love rarely is. And a few days later, I had a new home. 


I called him Edgar. He was a gentleman of early last century. Once upon a time probably the beautiful, large home of an upper-class family, now split into four smaller apartments.

Those first months he revealed himself to me in all his vulnerability; slightly incontinent with water damaged walls, mouldy kitchen cupboards and the plaster falling off the walls. I could feel his embarrassment as the cover-up faded. My plan was to rest – not renovate! – but I soon realised I had to do it properly. I had to heal us both. 

Edgar became my safe haven, a quiet oasis where I could hide from the world. And so I did. I renovated him by myself. It took me almost a year. Healing and resting, healing and resting. An intimate relationship developed – there is hardly a part of him I have not touched, there is no part of me he has not seen. Bit by bit I brought him back to the glory he deserved, spending endless nights filling his cracks and gaps, and in doing so, healing my own. 

Part of me is proud of the achievement – the strength and persistence in me that slowly, slowly brought a dream to life. But it didn’t come without pain. In his safe rooms, I finally allowed myself to feel so lonely, so tired, so powerless, so afraid. Bit by bit I broke open, letting old and new pain bleed out of me. Bit by bit he put me back together again. Renovated ME! 


I’m letting go now. He is healthy and good looking. I am happy and vital. I know we are both ready to move on. 

Edgar – one of my love stories. One that has changed me forever. A challenging one. An honest one. Sometimes an almost co-dependent one. I feel every feeling when I think of our time together, but as I forgive us both for all the hard times, gratefulness is the feeling that remains. I gave him love, he gave me safety. A safe place to break open and heal.

Yes, that’s what he gave me. The old gentleman on a hill by the water.


My Fear. My Sadness. My Failure.

Today I have had a hard day. And I could do what I would normally do – let the emotions pass in silence or contain them in a piece of art – but today I want them out in their ugliness. I want to share some of the feelings we so often hide, like fear, sadness, failure. I want to be as real as possible about them.

It could be any type of loss or heartbreak, the emotions are the same. The details are not important. But I have a chronic illness – a medically manageable chronic illness. It’s not even that uncommon. I’ve had it for over a decade. It should not have to affect my life as long as I’m on medication, but it has, and up until about one and a half years ago my symptoms got increasingly worse, to the point of me not functioning. I was in a dysfunctional relationship with an illness, and I let it affect every part of my life.

I took a chance about half a year ago. I went off the medication, and to everyone’s surprise, I got clinically well! As in all symptoms disappeared and I felt better than ever before in my adult life! I could exercise again, I was full of energy and felt strong. I recognised myself, my mind and my emotions, the feeling of a healthy body. My blood tests were catastrophical – I was definitely biochemically ill and no doctors could explain what was going on – but they decided to have faith in the possibility of me being an exceptional case and we agreed that I stay off the medicine but under observation, with the hope my body would heal itself also biochemically and the blood values would improve. We went through the risks and I accepted them.

Today, after spending most of the day at the hospital doing tests, the verdict came that my system has finally failed and I will be in a coma within weeks if I don’t get back on the medicine.


And it could be much worse – there are people every day getting much harsher verdicts than that – but we feel what we feel, and to me, this ultimatum tore down a wall of years of trying to be strong and fight and staying positive and suffering only in solitude, and I allowed myself to just feel. Everything.

I cried through all the tests, I cried on the bus home. I cried sitting watching the ocean and I cried walking home. I cried talking to one of those friends who gives beautiful, silent hugs, and I cried talking to another friend who compassionately set my options straight. I cried trying to eat and cried sitting down to share these feelings with you. And I’m not done crying.

I cried tears of failure, of being beaten by stupid illness, of finally being too tired of this shit to resist or fight. I cried for all the fucking hard years and I cried for the deeply rooted fear of ending up there again – a life that is no life to me, being someone I don’t know. I felt forced back into a dysfunctional relationship, deprived of my freedom. And I felt scared, really really scared. And stuck. And lost. And lonely.

And I started the process of mourning the door closed, that a part of my body has finally physically failed, has died, and I will from now on not live without medicine. We just have to make it work.

I cried for my own outstanding ability to fool the world, including myself. I cried because my body is not telling me it’s failing. It’s lying to me. It’s begging me to believe that all is good! And I don’t know how to trust it now, and that frightens me.

And I cried because it felt unfair, that maybe I was only given a few months of remembering who I am, of trusting myself, of feeling free and reconnected with the world. I cried, and I added some tears of self-pity.

I had no idea I had this many tears.
I had no idea I needed them this much.


Of course I will get back onto medication, choosing life, even if I said months back that I wouldn’t and everyone around me was cheering me on. Faced with only weeks left as the alternative I do believe most of you think it’s a great idea if I give in. The month ahead does not seem fun enough to give it all up for.

Maybe I just really needed these tears of surrender, tears built up over years and years of fighting. Maybe this is the beginning of something new and beautiful. It’s very possible my fear is unsubstantiated. I will not allow what was to come back. Maybe I will be strong enough to keep this feeling. Maybe we will live happily ever after, my illness and I. Maybe we just needed this time apart to find ourselves. But that is not the point. Neither are any solutions to any problems that anyone could potentially come up with, nor any comparisons to anything else happening in the world. The point is my tears, my fear, my sadness. My feeling of failure, of hopelessness, of loneliness. My surrender and my acceptance.

Raw feelings, served on a plate of words.
As I have promised you.


I Surrender

sharing my writing


i’ve been twisting and turning the concept forever

its whys and hows and whats

watching it like a gemstone in my hand, shifting colours in the light

until i finally accepted its beauty

without understanding its purpose

I’ve been so resistant to sharing my writing for the last few years. Only a few people have heard any of my hundreds of poems and texts. I’m an incurable analyst, so of course I’ve been trying to understand why. Am I afraid? Am I too hard on myself? Is it my general uncomfortableness with the information overload of modern society? Is it my despise of attention seeking? My need for privacy? Do I fear telling lies? And at this point I would get circular and start over again. Am I afraid? …

I surrender. I’ll try to give you raw feelings on a plate of words, for you to eat if you’re hungry and leave if you’re not. I guess neither food nor feelings care if they’re eaten, once they have been slaughtered and prepared, so I better just serve it.