Mich Lundgren

Unraveling the Root

I haven’t talked much about genealogy lately, it’s been shuffled to the backburner a bit as I tackled other projects. I think I got shy after I had a piece published with the National Archives at the beginning of winter, talking about the research I did to find out what happened to my great, great grandfather after he gave my great grandmother (and her siblings) up for adoption in 1916. It was a big undertaking, and there’s a mystery remaining in that branch that I revisit every few weeks.

Over the weekend we wandered down through Olmstead and Dodge counties, where some of the family roots lie. We didn’t do anything specific, it was just an initial spring voyage, but with the release of the 1950 census, I am definitely itching for more deep research, in the field this year, something we weren’t able to do last summer. Just a few weeks ago we spent time at the Pioneer Room in Hastings, and it made me excited to visit places where my family comes from, since there’s no real history of us here. Maybe we’ll change that, leave some kind of legacy behind. Who knows. We were led there by Rylan’s love of architecture and history, and after a late night digging into local historic houses, we headed in for answers and the seeds of another summer project, studying the beautiful buildings we are surrounded by.

As I ran out of my own family mysteries to solve (there’s still Hattie – but my grandma has been chasing Hattie for longer than I’ve been alive), I’ve been excited to pursue other local history, and I’m so glad that my kids share that passion with me and are willing to indulge my roadtrips through history – but I am also really looking forward to building friendships and discovering connections with other adults.

I’m offering a beginners genealogy workshop later this month – if you’re curious about how to begin, or overwhelmed with how to get anywhere, I would love to help guide you in the right direction.

The Void

I think that the worst part of this depression is that it caught me off guard. Life was so great, and then it wasn’t.

Despite applying all of my tools, despite showing up through it and trusting – it has me in its grips, and I just want to surrender, I want to stop trying to hold my life together, and let it all fall apart. It wants to SO BADLY, why must I fight? Why do I have to fight for faith in what never seems to fight for me? This is the story of my life. I bend myself in unnatural ways to prove myself to someone who will never see me or have faith in me.

I’m angry at the sky, but my anger is not as big as my desire to not. There is the part of me still aware of the life – but there is the weight of no longer caring. I want to want it, but I want not. I want nothing. Logically I understand this is how depression works, numbing the mind so it no longer has to feel the longing or the joy of the spirit. I cannot want it because in recognizing that I had it, and that I genuinely don’t know how to get out of this, the pain is too much.

I’m not asking for advice, or offers for help. The help that I need is not something that is available, and quite honestly it is a burden when people offer what is not helpful to make themselves feel better. I appreciate that people care and want to be of service – but it is exhausting performing the role of the graciously suffering. I have to help myself, and I will, just as soon as the magical & inaccessible switch flips in its on good time, on its own damn schedule. Until then – I will keep showing up, keep laughing, keep using the tools – and hope that soon I will want again, before my life is once again ashes.

I just don’t want to be silent. What I really want is to scream my soul directly out of my body, and then bring it back in again, refreshed and ready to love living. But this is not the ghost town, and we do not conduct our civil selves in such a way – so I’ll post this blog post that nobody will read, and go about the business of existing.

The Void

There is a point, where spring is scratching at the door, that the cold of winter no longer just hurts my tender, not-meant-for-Minnesota flesh. Instead it becomes a vaccuum within me, an ache so deep that I can barely move.

There have been times in my life that I’ve craved fruit, or meat, something my body is telling me it needs desperately, and I’ve cried for the urgency of the need for specific sustenance. This is how I feel at the edge of winter, my dried-out skin feels so confining, I feel like that one chick from Dr. Who – moisturize me. But it’s not my skin, at all – it’s my soulbits. I want the freedom to step into the night and hear bugs. I need to drive with the windows down, sink into a river, I need to breathe air that doesn’t instantly initiate postnasal drip.

Please come to here, spring. Before I crack.

Here or There, with Raven

Just before the world changed in the face of coronavirus, I had given myself permission to explore more freely, without consideration of income potential. During that time, I found myself on Rev.com, where (to my absolute and overwhelming delight) I was transcribing an episode of Minnesota Bound’s Made for the Outdoors.

Be still, heart, I’m trying to think words.

If you grew up in Minnesota, with no cable but a big love for the great outdoors – you know Ron Schara and Raven. That man’s cadence makes my entire soul swell with emotion. There’s never just one thing for me – and that’s true here, as well. My mom put books in my chubby toddler hands, she brought me to college and the clinics, and gave me music, and all of Video Update’s best middle section indie crap. I am well honed.

There’s no single thing, certainly. Still, there at the top of the pile is Ron, in waders, and sun-baked. He made me love a story – about anything, which truly is at the root of my everything. Have you ever cried over a non-fiction account of a species of fish? Do you not weep at the lifecycle of a mayfly? If not, you have no idea what you’re missing. To be so moved by the painfully beautiful, in the most – so so most – mundane parts of the world. Or so they seem. This is what the voice can do – it can bring the world into sharp focus, in ways we never thought to look. My heart beats to this tempo, it is precisely this that made me a wanderer, a romantic, a storyteller, an artist.

While I was giddly transcribing the episode, I was entertaining daydreams of someday working for Ron Schara Productions – not as a faceless, nameless transcriptionist behind the (perfect, ok, perfect) captions of S5E5, but as a real life somethin’ or other.

But that’s a silly dream – I don’t need to work with the man himself to be inspired by him and to act on that inspiration. I can’t sleep tonight – that happens after sleeping off the sick for days on end. I’m bursting with excitement for the coming spring, and for all of the many projects that I’m excited to pick up again, now that the sun will start inching back into my life again. I can’t wait to lose myself somewhere, in waders, smiling, sun-baked – and telling stories.

Bremer Shenanigans

Note : There is still some time to book a fall family session – BOOK HERE

You know when you meet someone, sometimes, and you just know you mesh? That’s how I feel about Mandy. Little butterflies from the first meeting – I want to know this person. I suspected she might be a little weird and delightful. Even better than that feeling, is spending time with them and having it confirmed – YUS. A little weird, a lotta delightful. Cup filled. These guys are the best, it was so fun to just hang out, act silly, make memories.

I also love the way they love each other – with ease, with laughter.

Hastings Halloween

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We had SO much fun this Halloween. Not just on the day, but putting together costumes was also a blast. Rylan and Callie decided to match, and the fox head (Ry’s favorite animal) happened after, as a result of our reading His Dark Materials – so Rylan went from a wizard to being Callie’s fox daemon/familiar LOL. Shawn found this mask and decided he wanted to be an 80s slasher film villain – if you haven’t seen the ridiculous video we made, it’s on Instagram and hilarious to us.


I desperately need to get behind the camera again. I have missed it SO much. Whenever I go thrifting, I see so many things I would love to shoot with a model, but I don’t have anyone I can call up these days to go be weird with. So I just pass them by. Hopefully in the coming months I will be able to build up more of a community and WILL have those friendships that allow for shenanigans and art. I’ve been talking for years about wanting to do an art co-op (like…a decade of years) and I’m finally just going to START, just show up in the studio and invite others to join us. It’s very scary – anyway, onward to the magics.

Downtown

Callie ran to hug the Grinch like she was running into the welcoming arms of her long lost bestie. Which is. I mean. Reasonable LOL. This kid is so delightfully strange, though we seem to have a steady track record of weirdos in this family.

I love living in a small town, so much. I love knowing people as we walk down the streets, bumping into neighbors, and friends, and strangers with potential. I love that I asked the owner at Vintage Inspirations if we could borrow a broom, and she was right on board – that was better than the broom itself, which was also super freakin cool. I just feel lucky and happy and in love with life.

Tiffany’s costume was simple and amazing, so I had to make her stand in bushes. The compositions are terrible and yet she looks powerful AF lol and I had to mess with the edits a bit because they were just neat.

And then, the chaos of us:

Allowing for Bliss

Yesterday I was feeling off – and I was tempted to call it a loss, curl up and watch Bones.

Instead, I decided to get in the car, regardless of how I was feeling, and drive to somewhere. I didn’t really care where. I quickly felt better, and we started following curiosity. We made many stops, all unplanned, as things caught our eye – and an amazing day unfolded to meet us.

Lebanon Hills Regional Park

We didn’t spend much time here, because I promised Ry there would be no nature on this adventure – he’s a bit burned out after a very full summer. However, we passed by this park we visited once last year and decided to swing in to peek at the beach. On the way in we spotted a fox, Ry’s favorite animal, so that was pretty wonderful. We also strolled over to the bridge to peek at a lily pad blanketed pond, where a blue heron stood among the huge, curling leaves. The beach is so peaceful, and I’m looking forward to going back.

Nicollet Commons Park

Jack has been asking to go to Hot Topic for a while, so we set our sights (and GPS) on Burnsville center. On the way they kids spotted what looked like a little water play area down a hill, and then up the block I saw a store (Ficus & Fig) that called my name – so we pulled around the block to the parking garage and decided to walk around. The little water area turned out to be the amazing Nicollet Commons, which I’ve seen mentioned on Facebook and didn’t seem very impressive – but it was. We had so much fun playing here, and I love that they had quiet music filling the air – we all wish we had something like this closer to us and plan on going back soon. We walked from there up to the “mall” (which felt like a modern, small town main street, similar to some buildings in Stillwater) and it was such a beautiful building. The store is your standard issue gift shop, filled with too many beautiful things that I want and do not need – but I still love wandering though them, taking it all in- and love that my kids always enjoy themselves.

Burnsville Center

Burnsville Center has been dying for a long time – and it always feels eerie, dirty, and depressing. It was no different this time, but I was relaxed and in no rush to get anywhere – so I took the time to take photos (more over on the very dorky liminal spaces project page) and enjoy the vibes that exist only in half-living spaces. We had so much fun, a great meal at Lucky 13, which was full of vintage snapshots. I was super sad to see that F.Y.E. was closed, however, since it is the only mall store I actually like. We’ve enjoyed many fun times in the big arcade at Burnsville Center, as well, and it was very strange to see it empty, still illuminated by black lights.

Finding Delight Anywhere

On the way home we had to stop for gas and drinks – and spotted this train car with Raven graffitied on the side. That’s Jack’s favorite animal (apparently this is a bit of a theme) – so of course I had to force him to stand awkwardly in front of it. I’ll spare him the sharing of those – teenagers lol. But then I asked Callie if she wanted to whip out our old friend Reagan, who has been long-neglected. The results cracked me up.

These are my favorite kind of days – nothing planned, magic everywhere. In addition to all of these adventures – it just seemed that everyone we met had such a wonderful energy to them, I chatted with so many people in passing, and just felt happy. The world felt light.

Life’s a Beach

For the past few weeks, we’ve headed to Wisconsin to spend time along the river. Last summer we didn’t have our own vehicle, which made me reluctant to drive anywhere not essential. More than that, I was just generally depressed – I’m sure covid played a role, but I was mostly just tired of my own bullshit.

This summer has been absolutely amazing, just immersing myself in life, spending time soaking up the sun and my kids in all of their chaos and joy.

One thing I haven’t been doing enough of is taking photos, even with my phone. I can honestly say I don’t regret it, I’ve been so caught up in the moment that I simply forget. I am going to try to do better, however, and am putting systems in place to support that desire.

We’ve been doing a lot of rock collecting, learning about the rivers and creeks in our favorite places.

Just blissed out.

Fries

I didn’t live in my body for the first 33 years. That sounds crazy – but it’s true and something I didn’t even realize until I recognized that I WAS in my body, for the first time. The disconnect was deep, oftentimes flat out dissociation. I didn’t understand my body, couldn’t care for my body.

There was exactly one way I could be in my body – using food to cause myself pain. I didn’t know I was doing that, either. My body was otherwise completely foreign. I ran away to my head in childbirth. I ran away to my head when I hurt. Even during sex, I was pretty much entirely in my head, worrying, preparing, bracing myself. Every single thing that took place with my body was something I hid from, disconnected from. The disconnect was profound, in ways that as a teenager led to bullying and the deepening of shame. 

 A couple of weeks ago, I had to run errands and driving alone down the road gave me some quiet time to explore a new space that was forming in me. A space left by the slow extraction of some toxic roots. At first, I was just looking at objectively at this space, but then the more I stared into it, the more upset and afraid I became. My brain kicked into anxiety mode – and then this:

I’m thirsty, I’ll get a diet coke at McDonalds. I deserve it.
I’ve been fasting and doing really well for a couple of days, I’ll get fries, too. I deserve it. 

Brain is friendly, amirite? Always looking out.

French fries hurt me, I know this. Somehow, they are still regarded as a treat. So I got some and they tasted so bad, just greasy and filmy. Then suddenly my brain…was… honest, man. It revealed itself. Eat them. You deserve this. I shoveled more into my mouth. So gross. I could feel them sliding to my stomach, instant pain, instant brain fog. You deserve this.  

Over the past six months, I have learned to step into pain, to see it as a waymarker towards the things that need healing. I have learned how to sit with it and allow it to rise and do its work. Acknowledge, Assess, Heal, Embrace, Release. Whatever work is necessary with each bit of hurt. But it’s a practice and this void in me is the biggest thing I’ve ever confronted. 

In this moment, I saw, for the first time, how I used food to force myself out of my head and into my body, when the pain of cycling thoughts, bad stories, and heartbreaking truths was too much to bear. It is still shame and pain, but it is physical and tangible and easily discounted. It gives me a chance to find places to set the blame for the pain. My brain gets busy on a new and familiar story that I don’t need to worry about – autopilot self-loathing, autopilot promises to eat better, autopilot shit talk about my inability to stick to anything. Woo relief. 

I think what was different this time is that I had actually been living in my body for a while. I’m learning to talk to dis bitch. I’m learning to give a shit about it, to recognize it as not only myself, but JUST AS IMPORTANT as my mind and my heartpart and spirit. That you can’t be just a spirit ignoring the vessel. That the vessel itself is magical and gifted and (I still shudder to say, maybe even) beautiful. That as you evolve, you have to fucking literally embody your identity. You have to BE IT. I don’t mean you have to change to match – I mean you have to look in the mirror and recognize it, and fucking adore it. You have to choose to listen up and honor what it whispers back in wisdom, desire, or truth.

It’s not perfected. It’s a practice. We are always growing and that is the magic of being alive. 

And I guess that’s the story of how french fries helped me level up?

#thanksmcdonalds 

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