Do I know who I am?
Now that I’m back in Norway I meet people I know, literally, everywhere! It’s quite the contrast from Sioux Falls where I can leave campus in my pyjamas, confident I’ll get away with it without stumbling upon anyone I know. (Not that I do it on a regular basis, but it has happened, and I did get away with it.)
One thing that gets me every time is that people say “I didn’t recognize you” or “Wow, you’ve really changed” Of course, depending on when you saw me last, I have probably changed quite a bit — and so have you!
I wrote a blog post about my time as a “punk” a while ago, and looking at this picture, I, sort of, see what people mean. But people still seem confused. At one point I was even asked “Do you know who you are, Maria?”
Do I? Know who I am, I mean.
Yes, that’s exactly why I’ve tried all those hairstyles. Because I don’t have my identity in my looks. I want my voice — personality, talents and gifts to represent me.
I believe the most important thing a woman can have is her voice — and that voice is who she is — regardless of how she looks.
I never tried to change my voice through my looks, but the way I looked changed the way I was heard.
And that makes me angry.
It makes me angry because people are so good at drawing hasty conclusions. When I had short hair everyone seemed to assume I was gay, when I was into bodybuilding they thought I used steroids, and when I had dreads the cashiers told me to empty my pockets before leaving the store — as if I had suddenly turned into a thief.
Imagine what our world would be like if we could see past people’s looks and instead listen to what they have to say.
Flashback Friday and Reflections
Today it’s been precisely a year since I laced up my spikes for the last time as a college athlete. In September I wrote a post explaining why I made the decision to quit track and field all together, CLICK HERE to read it.
I have to admit that the thought of letting go of the one thing I’d always been good at was scary, and even if continuing down the same path was out of the question, I was terrified I would regret it later.
But now, a year later I’m so proud and happy I made the choice to let go and start following my real dreams instead. Sometimes I even ask myself why I didn’t make the decision earlier, but then I have to remind myself that track was my ticket into college here in the US, and that my time as a competitive track athlete has taught me many things I can use in my filmmaking and life in general.
I also believe that where one door closes, God opens another.
Since I “retired” from track I’ve directed and produced a feature documentary, a 20-minute documentary, a video for TV, 15 video stories, won a Jury Award for Social Impact at our first film festival, and had the opportunity to bring attention to a big social issue in South Dakota by showing “Over the Bridge” at multiple events and by talking about it in the media.
I think that sometimes you have to let go of something to let God show you what you really want and where to go.
Have a blessed Friday all,
Looking back at some of my weirdest projects
I have, through my 22 years on earth, realized that I often end up adding small “pointless” projects to the bigger and more important stuff I do. Looking back, I don’t see why I even bothered doing half of it, but I had fun during the process, and that’s what matters, right? Here are some of the weird things I’ve spent a significant amount of time doing throughout the years.
When I was about ten I desperately wanted to learn how to walk on my hands, so I practiced day and night and didn’t care whether I found myself alone in our living room (where I often crashed into my mom’s plants and window decorations) or if I was at a shopping mall, out in the streets, in the middle of the school yard or in a public bathroom (I suppose I didn’t understand the word “unsanitary” back then…) This sort of behavior didn’t exactly earn me any elemantary-school-popularity-points, but so what if people called me a “show-off” or if they grew increasingly annoyed with me? Haha, I had a goal, and no one was going to keep me from reaching it.
However, the skill of handwalking did come in handy when I got a stress fracture in my ankle last year: (Click to start video)
On April 1st 2006 I made the decision to stop drinking soda (pop) for no other reason than to test and see if I could do it. I still haven’t had a sip of it, so I’m actually heading towards my 10 year anniversary!
The year after, I decided I wanted a six-pack. Yup, a decade before instagram and fitness even became a thing I came up with that strange idea. I talked one of my teammates into an ab-challenge where we had to do minimum 200 sit-ups a day for about a year. In retrospect, I realize that we didn’t really know anything about muscle building, nutrition or fitness, but that didn’t stop us from making it a part of our daily schedules. One day I wanted to test how many reps I could do non-stop, so I “just casually” ended up doing 1108. Again, this was all just for fun…
When I, five years later, went into the “sport” of fitness, all those crunches suddenly became a little useful, sort of:
Then when I was about 14 I wanted to become the master of L-seats. I won’t judge you if you’re not familiar with such terms, because it’s not a skill I expect from the average person. But an L-seat is kind of a modified handstand where you support yourself on your hands, lift you legs up straight in front of you, and hold them there for as long as you can. My record is a little over 2 minutes. I challenge you all to give it a try (because it’s WAY harder than it looks, and my current level is probably at less than 10 seconds.)
Track and field has kind of filled all the gaps in between these “projects,” and when I retired from competitive sports last year, I started directing most of my attention towards filmmaking. With the exception of a brief vegan experiment earlier this year, I’ve tried to stay away from all “projects” outside school and film — which has been wonderful!
But Karen, Brittany and I have now decided to give up sugar and junk food until the summer break starts. Now that it’s official there’s no turning back until May 20th. Wish us luck!
#ThrowBack to High School
I was looking for an old e-mail yesterday and suddenly came across this video. It’s the B-roll footage from a (very bad) short film I was in, my junior year in high school. “Luckily,” I don’t even know where I can find the actual film anymore, haha!
I want to give myself A for effort, but I still don’t understand how I could possibly think that any of this was a good idea. I mean, the stunts weren’t exactly complelety without risk … and I did it for a school project that didn’t even matter that much. But oh, what don’t we do for the art?
I just got back from Walmart, and will have to read a chapter for tomorrow before I head to night class. So talk to ya later!
About my time as a “punk”
Before I start, I want to apologize for my lousy blogging lately. The truth is that my days have mostly consisted of school work, and if I’ve not been sitting in class or at the library, I’ve been running around shooting different stuff for future film projects. In other words, I’ve been very busy and haven’t had that much to write about.
The important thing, however, is that I’m back!
A few days ago, I posted this picture on instagram:
And to my big surprise, several students and even some professors (!) had seen it (which, by the way, is kind of ridiculous… because I have a relatively modest amount of followers on Instagram, and I never collect more than a two-digit number of likes)
“Wow Maria, I’d never have guessed you used to be a punk kid!”
“Did you really have dreads?”
“You have tattoos and used to have crazy hairstyles… what else don’t I know about you?”
“I can’t believe you were a ‘bad girl’ Maria”
Okay okay, please let me explain. I was never really a “punk kid.”
To make a long story short. All the way through high school I had stuck with the same “tight-ponytail-look-that-makes-you-look-like-an-Eastern-European-gymnast.” Combined with my classic gray sweatpants, zipped hoodies and sneakers, I had found my trademark, and never felt the need to change any of it. At the time, I was more or less a full-time athlete, so I could actually get away with looking like I belonged to a boarding school in the former Soviet Union.
However, right after I graduated high school, I was forced to take an extended break from my whole track lifestyle because of a bad leg injury. During that time, I felt it was about time for a change. I was terribly disappointed that my whole career as an athlete seemed to go down the drain, and I didn’t want to be reminded of the defeat I felt when I realized I might never get back on the track. So I decided to (drastically) remove my whole image as a “sports-fanatic,” and went to the hairdresser with the clear message of “Do whatever you want with it.”
For some reason, I like to change my appearance slightly depending on what I do and where I’m at in my life. After the sports nerd phase, I went through a brief hippie phase, before I became a fitness athlete. (which is when I cut my hair) I’d work out twice a day, pursue ripped abs and bulging veins inside of a world where food was merely a collection of amino acids, carbs and fats. Some might consider that as a little “punkish,” but that’s about all there’s to it. And I’ll have to disappoint you if you were hoping for some well-deep symbolism behind it.
The dreadlock picture in the upper right corner was taken for a photo shoot, and I only kept them for a short period of time, so I wasn’t actually a pothead or anything (at least not for the most part, lol jk)
When I posted the picture, I guess I should have considered that most people here in the US didn’t know me up until 2014 — no wonder why I suddenly got placed inside the “former punk category” Haha!
Well well, there you go! 😉
Now I better get back to my homework.