• Mathilde Fongen

Updated: Apr 7

The day I learned I was named after a mountain, I was excited and in awe. Well, it’s not just me, but my family, which makes it all the more exciting to think that Mr. Olsen, back in the day, met a mountain and decided to share its name. He didn't want to be Olsen. He wanted to be Fongen. It makes a lot of sense to me that that's where my surname comes from, because no matter where I am in the world, mountains feel like home.

It was August 2017 when we decided to conquer Fongen. It was a fairly miserable day, in terms of the weather, but our spirits were high as we trudged along a path leading to the foot of it, my father, my brother, my boyfriend and I. The rain, the fog, the cold and the wind whispered “prove yourselves!”. And we did. Normally, reaching the peak of a mountain offers the reward of a stunning view, but Fongen didn’t offer that. It offered us greyness, but it also offered us the joy of knowing that we had finally made it to the peak of the mountain we’re named after. The weather made the experience all the more rewarding.

I’ve climbed mountains since I was wee and even though I see myself as a city girl, the mountains have always felt like home. My family have a small cabin in the Norwegian mountains which I've always considered to be my happy place, a place to escape to, a place to find peace, comfort and joy. We climbed Fongen only days before I moved to Scotland, leaving Norway behind, but it didn’t really feel like leaving home. I moved from mountains to mountains and whenever I feel homesick I can look to the Cairngorms and find comfort there.

Earlier this month I spent a week skiing in the Alps. I hadn't gone downhill skiing for about fifteen years and I was scared and apprehensive, but then there we were and it only took a day to feel comfortable skiing again. That Norwegian cliché really is true, that we're born with skis on our feet and it felt wonderful to be skiing down a mountain again after so many years. I challenged myself and I felt free, and even though I'd never been to the Alps before, I felt at home.

I don't know what it is about mountains that makes me feel so at peace. Maybe it's their unmoving, unbeatable nature, their drama and unpredictability or maybe it's just the sheer beauty of them. All I know is that whenever I don't quite feel like myself, I can walk up a hill and find reassurance there. On the peak I feel my happiest. I suppose I see myself in the temperamental and shifting, slowly changing, unpredictable mountains. The weather capable of dramatic change within minutes. Like humans, no two mountains are the same, and like humans, it's a challenge to get to know them. And maybe you can never truly know every part of them.

One could argue that walking up a mountain doesn't actually achieve anything, but to me it achieves something important. It's time taken to take care of myself, time taken to appreciate the beautiful nature surrounding us, time to do something that doesn't earn us money or success or material gain. It's simply about the challenge and enjoyment of it. It's about wellbeing, and yes, I'll bring this into it again; mindfulness. When walking in the hills you need to be aware of every step, the weather, how you're feeling. You need to respect the environment you're in and act according to everything around you. It makes a lot of sense to me to share a name with the Fongen mountain in Trøndelag, Norway. I've moved a lot and traveled a lot, but I can always find home in mountains.

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  • Mathilde Fongen

Updated: Apr 7

To someone who calls herself a writer, I suppose it’s a given that I find it’s a good idea to write things down, which is why journaling more actively is on my list of resolutions for 2020. In 2019 I learned the importance of taking care of myself and respecting my own needs and as we near the middle of January, I thought I'd write down a few of the things that help me do just that, namely making lists and journaling.

Lists and spreadsheets bring me a tremendous amount of joy and journaling is becoming more and more a part of my day to day. It's simple, but so powerful. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love a good list and spreadsheets, tables, task lists and calendars make me happier than I'm maybe keen to admit. I have on a few occasions made a list of all the lists I need to make. It can be useful and satisfying, but also an important way to sort through your thoughts when feeling overwhelmed or chaotic.

Writing down a point-by-point list of what I need to do, journaling and brain dumping can be incredibly helpful and writing down the things I'm grateful for every week makes me so much more aware of what those things actually are. It's about making things concrete and tangible, specifying what may feel abstract and hard to wrap your head around. If it simply remains an idea or a thought, it’s much easier to become confused and overwhelmed by it, or simply forget. I suppose in essence it’s about awareness and mindfulness.

In the spirit of the post, here’s a list of the things that have helped me in this sense:

  1. Bullet journal (for keeping track, task lists and getting myself organised)

  2. Morning pages (and general stream of conciousness journaling)

  3. Gratitude journal

  4. Meditation (I use the app Headspace for guided meditations)

There’s something about pulling a seemingly abstract thought out through a pen onto paper that feels freeing. Especially in overwhelming moments, that simple act of writing things down one by one, word by word, makes that weight so much easier to carry. My brain has a tendency to want to do everything all at once which never works out very well. That list of things has been in my life for years and it’s an ongoing process and learning curve. Integrating journaling and meditation into my day to day has been incredibly useful in helping me take things one step at a time and one word at a time.

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  • Mathilde Fongen

Updated: Apr 7

I think we go back to our childhood selves when we become adults. With every birthday and every New Year's Eve I find myself saying I feel like I know myself more and I feel more like myself and I suppose that's an obvious thing, since we learn as the years tick by, but I think it's more than that. When I was a teenager, and I think this is true for a lot of us, I was obsessed with being someone else, someone I aspired to be, who I thought others wanted me to be. I wanted to get as far away from that weird child with the imaginary friend as I could, but that's me, that fearless, creative, introspective kid. And sixteen year old 2009 Mathilde was as well, she was just more insecure, more scared and wore too much eyeliner. Through my teens, and early twenties, I forgot about childhood me a little. I'm 26 now and nowhere near feeling like an adult yet, but I do feel like I'm finding my way back to 1999 me, year by year.

2019 was packed with experiences, joy, stress, life lessons and wonderful people. I lost myself and found myself again, at least twice. It simultaneously feels like it flew by and lasted for an age, especially when I look back at what my life looked like twelve months ago. Back in January, I had quite a lot of spare time, perhaps too much. I started a good routine for myself, including yoga every morning and I eventually started to take writing more seriously. This was enormously helped by meeting my wonderful writing friend in April and going to my first writer's retreat later that month. Writing became my priority and through the month of May I took on a writing challenge and started posting poetry to Instagram. I learned to let go of perfectionism and embrace creative self expression. In June I started this blog, which became an extension of that. I'm so proud to be able to say that I, with this fifteenth post, have successfully posted every fortnight since it started (yay me!).

June was an important month, giving me a blog, a second job and a band. The blog has kept me writing, which I've learned from previous years, is absolutely vital for me to do. The job gave me more security and financial comfort. Audiokicks have to be top of the list. They gave me music, belonging and friendship and joining them has meant more to me than I could ever have known back in June. Thank you, guys!

When Autumn came around, I had more work than I've ever had, I was writing more actively than before and I was back to creating music every week. I felt unstoppable, until I was forced to stop. I learned the hard way where my limits are. It turns out working six to seven day weeks, writing a book, being in a band and volunteering while maintaining a social life and putting everyone else first isn't a good idea. So I learned to slow down. I learned to take care of myself. Paraphrasing one of the new friends I made this year: I learned I needed to be less of a dog and more of a cat. I learned to start respecting my own needs.

2019 took me to Copenhagen, Jotunheimen, Edinburgh, London, Oslo, Trondheim and Iceland. I saw Spice Girls live in Edinburgh and fourteen year old me's dream came true seeing McFly live at the O2. I saw my childhood and teenage heroes and discovered a lot of new music. I met some wonderful people, made close friends and grew closer to older friends I was starting to lose touch with (even hearing from an old friend I hadn't heard from in 14 years!). I didn't quite manage to read the 25 books I set out to or run the 10 k, but I did run 7.89 km and I'm now about to finish book #21. I didn't send my book to an agent, but I made a lot of progress on the second draft. I didn't learn how to drive, or start learning Spanish again, but that's the nature of resolutions. They need to change and evolve as life does. We can't know what the year will be, but we can start it with intention. And for the things we don't manage this year, there's time next year. And the year after that, and as long as I'm getting to know myself better and creating a life for myself that fits me, I'll call that success in progress.

In 2020 I look forward to trips to the Alps, New York City and Orkney. I look forward to more time spent with friends, old and new, and creating music both for myself and with the band. I look forward to touring, recording, writing and learning. I step into 2020 with full time work, a band I couldn't be happier with and a novel in the making. I step into this new decade with more knowledge about myself and what I need, with the creative energy of my childhood self. Maybe I'll find some of her fearlessness along the way too. I say this every year, but I truly have feeling this too will be a good one. Happy new year to you all!

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