A Year of Change: 2018

1:37 PM

My #2018bestnine on @astridswanland Instagram

I am writing this in a state that describes just how seriously I take transitions:
I feel sick, have a low grade fever and one of my eyes is weeping from infection.
Thank you, I won't be popping the bubbling at midnight, but cheering with a cup of turmeric tea.
And that's ok.

I am a self-declared change lover, but recently, I have had to admit that the thrill of the new makes me scared, sick to my stomach, truly frightened and nervous. I'm not sure is it ever since I discovered a lump in my breast on January 2nd, 2014 – five years ago – just after the fireworks and promises of a better year. Or is it since I became a mother in 2012, end of the same month and discovered that the world is a danger zone through the eyes of a woman post-partum? I suspect that I have carried this fear with me always, but have allowed it to surface – wash over me completely – now that I truly know how new beginnings are out of my control. They can be the wonderful surprises of new homes, new views and even awards and nominations. They can be about respect and honor but they can just as well be about recurrence of cancer, or something unimaginable. Something... well, new.

I dislike people's tendency to psychoanalyse common colds and other somatic illnesses for deeper meanings. Still, I cannot help but notice the funny timing of waking up with  flu on New Year's Eve after the year I've had.

It's been so good.
Yes, I have felt lucky.

A year and four months in a state of NEAD with metastatic breast cancer (Nead= No Evidence of Active Disease). The same amount of time without chemo and with a head of hair. I have lived in near-normal health. Yes, my life is punctuated with hospital visits for three-weekly treatments, several CT-scans a year and doctors visits as well as an uncountable amount of other tests, drawn blood samples and little health scares here and there. But all of that is so easy compared to life with chemo and advancing disease that I have taken to forgetting the nearly weekly hospital visits.

As a creative artist, I could not have imagined to ever live through a time like this. Especially because my latest album From the Bed and Beyond was in early 2018 already a year old. But 2018 became a time when I was institutionally recognized in Finland and in Scandinavia. In December 2017 I was nominated for an Emma Award in the Critic's choice category, then in January 2018 I was nominated for Nordic Music Price (see the amazing contestant list here) and then came the nomination for Teosto-palkinto. In April, I became the winner of the Teosto Award sharing the honor with Joona Toivanen trio. Having experienced a deep connection with my audiences at shows and online during the From the Bed and Beyond shows, these nominations and the Teosto Award appeared to constitute a moment in which the connection continued to exist. Thank you! What a supportive, restorative, energising, fragile and precious gift it has been.

While I have experienced this sparkling music life in 2018 on the visible part of a wave, there has been lots going on in the undercurrents: For one, I have taken time to see the world with its beauty. I have traveled alone, with friends and with family. I have noticed just how tired and broken I feel and my attempt has been to take a rest. At times I have succeeded, but to be honest, the undercurrent has swept me off my feet a few times, because a huge artistic effort has muffled my insides the whole year: my book.  The process of writing has offered a sobering antidote to feeling like I achieved something elsewhere. And because I am writing about my life and the lives of those who came before me and stand next to me, it has been like traveling with a silent thunderstorm where ever I have landed.

So with gratitude and more gratitude, but also with trepidation, I walk into you, time. The New Year.
2019. I make no promises, but I keep my standards. Just like you both do and don't.

Thank you,

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