Artist - Freelance Floral Designer
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i Norge

It is strange to be in a place that is both completely foreign and familiar. The changes in the trees, the smell of leaves on a warm fall afternoon, the crisp morning walks, and the quietness of this rural town make sense to me. The desire to swim in every body of water that I come across (because it’s 55 degrees and sunny outside), is ingrained within my consciousness. There is water everywhere, and one understands that each chance to swim could be the last. Because, winter. But, I don’t have a cold-water swimming friend here, to brave the possibility of strange fish or the unfamiliar color of the water. Yet.

I love the newness of a place. It is surreal to go from dog-walking within my normal, it’s morning, and I’m slow to wake up-haze, to having someone speak to you in a language you don’t understand…especially the type of conversation that you’ve had a million times before in your own language. The simplest of tasks transports you to being a child here. It is isolating, humbling. I’m sure it is funny to watch. Yet, there is something to discover everywhere- the way the moss grows, the sing-songy way people speak, the cultural differences, the chocolate. The smallest of wins or moments of language comprehension feel like giant wins in a foreign place. I certainly have developed a deeper sense of respect for the immigrant, and I’ve only just arrived, by choice.

I prepared myself before I got to Norway for frustration and confusion when navigating another country and culture. And I’ve got that. It is daunting to find a job. I have never doubted myself or my non-traditional path enough to give up being an artist (as if it were something you could just un-be). I’m so used to rejection, that I’m surprised every time someone says yes. And I’ve lived for the yes. Yet, the older I get, the more I want a quiet life. A house, my own family, weekends, consistency. The less I want to fight against the current to get by. I want to find something sustainable in the place I want to be, with the person I want to be with. Maybe always choosing freedom to protect what I hold dear, space to create, is not the solution that fits anymore.

I don’t have any big insight. It’s challenging to start over in a new place, but I’m so thankful for the choice to do so and pretty fucking happy, even though I’ve yet to figure out what to put on this blank slate:)

Now, pictures of the simple life:

Sagtjernet, Eleverum, Norge

Sagtjernet, Eleverum, Norge

Katie BrinesComment

“Know the ways of the ones who take care of you, so that you may take care of them.
Introduce yourself. Be accountable as the one who comes asking for life. Ask permission before taking. Abide by the answer.
Never take the first. Never take the last. Take only what you need.
Take only that which is given.
Never take more than half. Leave some for others. Harvest in a way that minimizes harm.
Use it respectfully. Never waste what you have taken. Share.
Give thanks for what you have been given.
Give a gift, in reciprocity for what you have taken.
Sustain the ones who sustain you and the earth will last forever.” 
― Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants


Cross Village, Lake MI

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Reflecting on the 25 Principles for Adult Behavior, by John Perry Barlow, again.

1. Be patient. No matter what.
2. Don’t badmouth: Assign responsibility, not blame. Say nothing of another you wouldn’t say to him.
3. Never assume the motives of others are, to them, less noble than yours are to you.
4. Expand your sense of the possible.
5. Don’t trouble yourself with matters you truly cannot change.
6. Expect no more of anyone than you can deliver yourself.
7. Tolerate ambiguity.
8. Laugh at yourself frequently.
9. Concern yourself with what is right rather than who is right.
10. Never forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.
11. Give up blood sports.
12. Remember that your life belongs to others as well. Don’t risk it frivolously.
13. Never lie to anyone for any reason. (Lies of omission are sometimes exempt.)
14. Learn the needs of those around you and respect them.
15. Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission and pursue that.
16. Reduce your use of the first personal pronoun.
17. Praise at least as often as you disparage.
18. Admit your errors freely and soon.
19. Become less suspicious of joy.
20. Understand humility.
21. Remember that love forgives everything.
22. Foster dignity.
23. Live memorably.
24. Love yourself.
25. Endure.


Katie BrinesComment

Before arriving in Norway I had heard different things from Americans who had visited the Scandinavian country - from the natural beauty and wealth from oil, to their "weird" people who were hard to reach or access. I'm not sure what I expected, but there did seem to be a consensus of respect for the society that Norway has created for its people, by my people - from education to health care to preservation of the environment. 

Though my stay was quite brief, I fell in love with Norway. The landscape was both familiar and foreign to me - the verdant green rolling hills, evidence of an abundance of water, reminded me of Northern Michigan, while the scale and quantity of beauty was much larger than anywhere else I've been before. I saw just a glimpse of the natural beauty of Norway, staying on Norefjell for a couple days and leisurely walking/biking through Oslo for a couple days, but it was enough to know that I want to go back and walk, photograph, and sketch my way around the country. Even Elverum, which I was told by Norwegians is sort of a blasé small town, was charming in my eyes.

Upon my first impression, I found the Norwegians to be a kind, polite, and proud people. They drive politely, walk politely, and move through the world politely, which signifies an awareness of others. It's possible you could interpret this as standoff-ish, if you are used to direct and boisterous cultures, or you could look at it as refreshing. No one rolled down their car window and yelled vulgarities, no one whistled at the countless beautiful women, or looked at you weirdly. But they were inquisitive and eager to share their beautiful country. 

One of my favorite things that I observed is that most people I met had a playful sense of humor, with twinkly eyes and crows feet along the edges. Maybe this was a cultural adaptation to what was once a difficult, pre-oil wealth-life, with many months of winter and little sun. Or perhaps it's the resiliency of a people who understand that what is important in life is to build and maintain a society that is inclusive of differences. Or maybe it's because there are trolls there. Either way, I'd highly recommend visiting Norway.

+ Norefjell

+ Eat Elg if you can, try Brown Cheese...

+ History: learn about the Nazi occupation of Norway and Norwegian resistance during WWII

+ Bike anywhere - always the best way to see a place. Unless you have access to a sailboat, that's cool too.


Oh, and apparently they like to drink. But turns out they are still polite when they do.

Oh, and apparently they like to drink. But turns out they are still polite when they do.

Katie BrinesComment

A little something on Vulnerability by David Whyte by way of my talented friend, Bri Wilson


is not a weakness, a passing indisposition, or something we can arrange to do without, vulnerability is not a choice, vulnerability is the underlying, ever present and abiding under-current of our natural state. To run from vulnerability is to run from the essence of our nature; the attempt to be invulnerable is the vain attempt to become something we are not and most especially, to close off our understanding of the grief of others. More seriously, in refusing our vulnerability we refuse to ask for the help needed at every turn of our existence and immobilize the essential, tidal and conversational foundations of our identity.

To have a temporary, isolated sense of power over all events and circumstances, is a lovely illusory privilege and perhaps the prime, beautifully constructed conceit of being human and most especially of being youthfully human, but it is a privilege that must be surrendered with that same youth, with ill health, with accident, with the loss of loved ones who do not share our untouchable powers; powers eventually and most emphatically given up, as we approach our last breath.

The only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability, how we become larger and more courageous and more compassionate through our intimacy with disappearance, our choice is to inhabit vulnerability as generous citizens of loss, robustly and fully, or conversely, as misers and complainers, reluctant, and fearful, always at the gates of existence, but never bravely and completely attempting to enter, never wanting to risk ourselves, never walking fully through the door.

‘VULNERABILITY’ From CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words

MANY RIVERS PRESS © 2015 David Whyte

Katie BrinesComment
Katie BrinesComment
Born to Build

I used to be jealous of other women - the one who was unafraid to articulate herself in a room full of strangers, whom others validated as smart and strong. Also, the one who was the life of a party, light and fun, able to move within space in her own skin, whom everyone wanted to be around. I hated the woman who needed the attention of a man's gaze or who was so clearly insecure.

I did not want to be seen as pretty. I did not want a man's gaze on me. I wanted to be seen as strong, hard-working, smart, determined. I wanted to be less complicated. I felt naked when someone recognized my sweet and caring side. I felt foolish when I expressed myself with passion. One learns pretty quickly that feeling vulnerable does not feel good. I rejected the traditionally feminine qualities within myself, which I have quite a few of. 

I learned about resiliency this year and I allowed myself time to heal. I believe I learned about courage when I was ready to and because of this I feel the depth of my growth. But what I love most about accepting all facets of what makes me, me, is being able to recognize and accept other people, and specifically, other women. I feel a deep appreciation and gratitude towards women and the work they do. Where I once felt envy, I now feel awe. Where I once judged, I now am ready to uplift. I'm deeply grateful for this and the badass women and men in the world.

Katie BrinesComment
Katie BrinesComment
Late Winter - Early Spring in Savannah, GA

I like to make lists. Not written ones or ones of things for other people to do. No, I dislike those. But rather, lists in my head - lists about things I like, about what I'm thankful for, about my top five favorite bugs, big places I want to go, little places I want to go, books I want to read, subjects I want to learn about...the list goes on and on. Ha. Ha.   

Anyway, here's a list a friend sent to me recently and of course, I love it.

A list of 25 Principles of Adult Behavior by John Perry Barlow

There are at least four of these items that make me uncomfortable when I read them...because I know I have much work to do. Solid list. Keep it humble. Give up blood sports.

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