My name is Maud Marion Laird Eriksen and I was born in the far north of Norway in the summer of 1971. I am half Norwegian and half English, but grew up in Norway. When I was 33, I emigrated to Sweden. This is where I live now, in a suburb south of Stockholm called Flemingsberg.
I am married and have two children born in 2006 and 2009. I work at the University of Uppsala as a lecturer in Ethics at the Department of Theology/Religious Studies. I love my job, but I still don’t quite know what I want to be when I grow up. There is so much I want to do!
From the summer of 2017 to 2019, I took leave from my university job to train as an organic gardener; a two-year course at Skillebyholm in Järna, Sweden. Those two years were fabulous. It gave me wonderful new friends, insights and competence. I don’t actually work as a gardener now (although I loved the months I spent working at one of Sweden’s classiest garden centres, Zetas in Huddinge). I do, however, garden in my free time. I am also working towards combining my two fields of ethics and gardening in my research. I have lots of ideas of where this might take me… I will leave this as a cliffhanger, though, as I am still developing my directions.
My background means that I have three active languages: English, Norwegian and Swedish. I never know which one to use when writing as “me”, that is, out of a specific context, such as work in Sweden, or with my Norwegian or English family. The languages are all mine. Although my Norwegian is my preferred and best language, it does not mean that my identity and personality necessarily is best represented in Norwegian.
In choosing what to use as my main language in my Krikonkraken project, which is the name of this site, I decided to use English. This will open up the site to people (friends, family and maybe some others) outside of the limited linguistic community of Scandinavia. However, while you can expect English posts for the most of the time, do not be surprised if you come over posts in Norwegian or Swedish…
I have wondered about whether or not to develop my project under a pseudonym in order to keep my anonymity. I finally decided that I will be public and myself, and not be shy or scared about it. It is, in many ways, an exercise in confidence. This also means that I am going to challenge the distinction between work and life. This will not be a private blog. It is not to be read as a diary. However, I want it to be a personal blog – where I can feel free to write about what interests me and what bothers me – without having to distinguish sharply between the professional and personal me.
One of the reasons for the name of this project, is that “Kraken” is a giant octopus – and, as most of us know, octopuses have eight tentacles. The site is structured by help of the eight themes that you can read about here. They are not prioritised or numbered, but all belong in my life and are aspects of what I have to offer. (I also found that I needed a ninth “tentacle”, for posts I couldn’t categorise).
I am the “Jack of all trades, master of none”, but have decided to see this as an asset. The many interests and to some extent competences all intertwine and challenge and enrich each other. They are all important to me, and little I do can be done without me using skills or thoughts or images from one area as a resource in a different area.
A further aspect of the Kraken, beyond being a scary, giant octopus with all its tentacles, is that it is a mythical being. The Kraken is one of these animals that are almost-true-but-still-a-myth-and-no-one-quite-knows. Such beings are attributed lots of symbolism, and I see Kraken as a symbol of what scares me. I have had several rounds of severe depression in my life, and am learning to cope with my anxiety, perfectionism and (recurring but no longer constant) feelings of low self worth.
My point in not keeping this a secret, is that it isn’t a secret. My colleagues know, my students know and my friends and family know. It is so much a part of who I am, for better for worse, that I don’t want to deny it or hide it. Rather, I want to show how the darkness can contribute to the light, and how it can be a creative force. Not the depression in itself. It is just hell on earth. But there are nevertheless aspects of living with mental illness that are a creative force.
My life is spent in a constant fight not to be dragged under water by the monsters of darkness, and to create and conserve enough energy to swim and float. When I last was ill with depression, anxiety and exhaustion, my garden turned out to be the best healing medicine I could have. The life, the growth, the hope, the goodness and energy of the garden saved me this time.
Krikon in Swedish, damson in English, is a wild plum. It does not seem to have much do do with Kraken. For me, it represents the garden and is a symbol of resilience, of growth, of life and happiness, of the relative safety of ground under my feet in opposition to the big and scary sea of the Kraken. Also, on a sillier note, Damsons are most often purple, and that is my favourite colour.
The double name Krikonkraken itself also involves multiple aspects. Apart from sounding rather attractive together, they represent ambivalence, complexity and difference. In my experience, these are all aspects of deep creative and reflective forces. They are also complementary to each other. A little like Yin and Yang, or like the photograph above. I took the picture at one of my favourite places on Earth: Engholmen outside of Grimstad in Norway. Here, sea and land, night and day, quietness and noise, darkness and light all play together in the beauty of sunset by the sea.