No Wonder You Were Afraid to Ask #28 – Trine Standerholen- Women’s Advocate and Artist


The artist and all around awesome person, Trine Standerholen, was recommended to me by a friend who I interviewed before. I am so glad Trine agreed to share her life with my Websphere. Sit back and enjoy her story and please check out her art.

“I live in Lillehammer (direct translation: “little hammer”) in Norway, which most people know for hosting the winter Olympics in ’94. It is beautiful here; lots of nature and steep hills. I’ve lived other places in Norway too, but this is, without a doubt, my favorite place so far. It feels like home here.

If you hop on the train and ride it for 45 minutes, you will find yourself in Hamar – the town in which I was born, and have lived most years of my life. Growing up, I got to know my fair share of grief early on, and was forced to deal with it because the grief would not let me be. It has taken a long time to heal my wounds, but when I worked through the worst of it, I discovered that all my experiences gave me a unique perspective on life that I could utilize to help other people out of bad situations. So, I started studying Social Work and graduated in June of this year.

I am 33 years old now, so it has taken me some time to get to where I wanted to go. At an earlier point in life – which quite frankly lasted a while, I didn’t even know where I wanted to go. But I am here to say: don’t give up, don’t give up, don’t give up. Because no matter how shitty your circumstances are right now, life is not static, it’s dynamic, which means it always changes, and it can change for the better for you too.

At the moment, I work part-time at a women’s shelter, where women, men, and children who have been subjected to violence in close relationships can have a safe space to live, come talk and receive guidance.

Diving into the heavier subjects in life on a regular basis takes its toll if I don’t unwind, so in my spare time I make little trinkets and cards that I sell on my Etsy site from time to time, which you can find here: I also make music sporadically – mostly to blow off steam and vent, which you can find here: I also have an Instagram where my username is @tinytrine, where I basically just post whatever I feel like at the time.”

This can be purchased online.
This can be purchased online.

One thing that Trine is really proud of is, “That I always work really hard on myself and to stay in touch with how I think and feel, no matter how painful it is. I am also proud of how I admit to mistakes I make, apologize and try to make things right. I could be a lot better at accepting compliments; I am working on learning how to say “Thank You” with grace, instead of picking apart the compliment I just received.”

In closing, Trine shared this story, which she said described her life. “My grandmother inspired me to be creative. She was a marvelous seamstress and stayed up late after work to sew. She also loved to draw, which she didn’t do that well, she admitted. But she loved it, so she kept at it. Her stubbornness has really inspired me to do what I love because I love it, not necessarily because I am good at it, throughout my life.”

My Grandmother
My Grandmother

Check out Trine’s amazing responses to the bonus questions. Try to tell me we are not all connected after you read them.

What one word would people use to describe you?


What is your favorite novel and what does it say about your mind?

My favorite novel is One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The reason why I love it is that it mixes magical elements with realism – a lot like how my own mind works in day to day life. It captures this intangible, delicate excitement of how anything is possible, and of how passion devours the lives, minds, and hearts of many of the characters, with various outcomes. I love it when people completely loose themselves in their passions, in the moments they are in, and I love it when it happens in my own life too.

How important is music in your life?

Music is of vital importance in my life. I listen to music all the time, even when I sleep. I started playing the guitar when I was 14 when one of my high school teachers urged me to. He introduced me to Ani DiFranco and taught me some tunes. I used to practice 6 hours a day in my room – it’s gotten a lot less with the years, though, and I suppose my progress have stagnated somewhat, but I still love to compose and record some tunes once in a while.

Is there a non-profit or cause you would like everyone to know about?

I would like to talk a little bit about women’s shelters, which is called crisis centers here in Norway these days. The reason for the change in name is that not many years ago it was believed that women were the ones who got subjected to violence in close relationships, but that is not necessarily the case; men also get subjected to violence in close relationships. Crisis centers are free, and provide help 24/7 to people who experience psychological, physical, material or sexual violence in close relationships all around the year. People can call in to receive guidance, come to live temporarily in the center while they figure out the next steps they are going to take, or come in to talk one-on-one with a trained professional to process emotions and experiences. They can also get free advice from a lawyer to get informed about which rights they have, for instance after a divorce from their partner. Violence in close relationships can happen to anyone, no matter how much money they make, where they come from, who they know, what they believe, or how they look. What I want to accomplish with writing this, is to urge anyone who is experiencing being isolated, degraded, hit, or scared by their loved ones, or anyone who knows somebody who is experiencing any of these things, to seek out crisis centers. You can get protection and help to get out of this bad situation, and have a good life after this very difficult time in your life is over. It takes courage to get help, but if you think about it, can things get any worse than they already have been so far?

Give money to the beggar on the street or tell them to “Get a job!” Which one are you?

Give money to the beggar. But, I would like for society to give them some actual help. Money can only get them so far. Many people from Romania come to Norway and end up begging in the streets. The “upstanding” citizens often look down upon them, not considering what their situation may be. Often, people seem to be suspicious, thinking the beggars are pulling one over on them, that they’re not really THAT poor, but just trying to make a quick buck. My question then is who on earth would choose to beg on the street if they didn’t have to? Some people have also said they see people who beg for a living changing out of nice clothes into shabby looking clothes in parking lots amongst other places, so again they think “how poor are they really”. But, thrift stores sell really nice looking clothes for a cheap buck these days, and people who beg are smart, cause they’re like you and me, and probably figure that in order to get the money it is efficient to wear shabby clothes because then they look the part. In Norway, we have relative poverty, and I find it interesting that Norwegians who are poor never have to defend themselves when they wear nice clothes, whereas people from other countries who beg for a living who wear nice clothes have to. No one should have to defend the fact that they are trying to make the best out of a bad situation. Anything that makes you feel better is good. Life on the streets is hard enough as it is, isn’t it? How would we like it? It could just as well be us.
I talked to a beggar on the street a while back, and he told me he had come to Norway because he’d heard that Norwegian jobs paid well. There were no available jobs where he came from in Romania, and he had 3 kids to feed, so even though it was hard for him to leave them behind, he didn’t see any other option. So he came to Norway, but there were no jobs for him here. Therefore he was forced to beg in the streets, but he had made so little money that he had put himself in debt instead of earning money to send home to his family. Also, knowing the Norwegian language is a prerequisite to getting a job here, in most cases. And there are a lot of social norms we adhere to as well, but that we never really speak of. So, when someone who is in a financial bind comes here to earn money, but they don’t know the language, and people won’t talk to them or inform them of which expectations exist in this particular society, how are they supposed to improve their situation?

What do you think is the meaning of life?

This is going to sound cheesy, but I think the meaning of life is to learn how to love ourselves exactly the way we are. I also think that is simultaneously the most challenging thing we can attempt to do, because, in order to love ourselves, we really have to look inward and work on ourselves.
Name a kid’s movie or cartoon you wish your life could really be like?
Sometimes I wish my life could be like the Powerpuff girls, because the bad guys are so well defined in that show, and the Powerpuff girls always get the bad guys at the end of the day. It would be nice if life was that easy sometimes. In real life, the bad guys are most often victims themselves too, having had a rough childhood in various ways, and being pushed to the side and forgotten by the people who was supposed to love them the most. And people are also so complex; filled with darkness and light alike. Good people can do bad things, and bad people can do good things. But then, what constitutes a good or bad person?

Do you ever talk to inanimate objects?

Oh yes, I talk to plants and just to the air around me sometimes. So when I need to air things, I do it literally, and I find it helps.

Do you enjoy hugs?

I love hugs and believe they are medicine, as long as they are genuine and wanted by both people involved in the hugging, of course.

Are you curious about what goes on behind closed doors in other people’s houses?

Sometimes I think about that, but mostly when I am doing shifts at the center and the phone doesn’t ring, because I know the reason why the phone doesn’t ring isn’t because violence isn’t happening, it’s because the people who are being subjected to it are too scared by their spouse, or general situation to make the call. Other than that I don’t really think about what goes on behind closed doors in other people’s houses, I just wish them well and hope they are happy.

Do you collect anything?

I collect coffee cups, but only one of each design that I like. I see no reason why I would want to have a set of matching coffee cups because I treasure each one of the individual designs so much more when I only have one of each.

What do you think is the key to a healthy relationship?

I think the key to a healthy relationship is to communicate openly about what’s important to you, and being open to the viewpoints of the other person. Having similar core values in life is also important in my opinion. I think John Gottman has a lot of accurate and enlightening thoughts on relationships, and if you are interested in checking out his thoughts on relationships, type in his name on YouTube.

If you won the lottery what 3 things would you do first.

1. Get airplane tickets so my boyfriend James and I could go see each other more often than we do now.
2. Pay the debt all my closest family and friends have
3. Start a shelter with an educational program for immigrants who have no legal rights to receive any kind of help from the government, because they have no papers. It would be free to stay there, but firm ground rules and everyone would have to help and respect each other while at the house.
If stereotypes are often true, why do people have such an issue with them?
I’ve thought about this a lot, and my conclusion so far is that stereotypes are like a caricature drawing – they pull out and underscore certain traits that a group of people seem to have in common and express a lot. True or not, though, a group of people is made up of individuals, and each individual is a complex universe in and of itself. The caricature, meaning the stereotype, misses out on the real picture with all the other variations and nuances that every person in the group contains. After a while, even though everyone knows a stereotype IS just that – a stereotype – people can start accepting the caricature as the real picture while missing out on who they are as individuals. And what we want more than anything in this world is to be seen for who we truly are. Not being seen for who we make us feel rejected, and angry and we wonder how anyone can put us in a category; diminishing what makes us feel special as individuals. We all put each other in categories whether we like to or not, though. Our mind simplifies how it perceives the world that way, and makes information processing a lot more efficient for us.

Do you watch too much TV?

I don’t know if I watch too much tv, but I watch a lot of it. I have learnt so much through watching tv; I learnt most of the English I know through tv, I’ve expanded my horizons and thoughts through watching tv – both documentaries and fictional shows, and I’ve gotten so many ideas through being inspired by what I’ve seen on tv, that lead to creative pursuits in real life. I think it has become a prestige thing not to watch tv these days, and that’s alright of course, to each his own. But I think there are constructive and destructive ways of doing anything, and tv can also be a constructive medium, not only a pacifier.

What one song have you listened to more than any other?

So many! When I find songs I really enjoy, I often play them over and over and over again. Same with albums I like. And it takes a long time before I seek out something else to listen to as well, I just want to hear the song all the time, and when I can’t, I hum it everywhere I go, so in that sense, it’s always with me.

If you started your own religion, what would 3 tenets of it be?

1. You shouldn’t be true to any other god than yourself, because you are your own god, in charge of your own destiny.

2.You should always respect and love yourself, and if you do not, you should seek out whatever action or thought that can make you feel better and get you closer to loving and respecting yourself. This includes putting your own needs first and fulfilling them before you fulfill anyone else’s needs. This can be equated to the oxygen masks in airplanes. In an emergency you should always put on your own mask before you attempt to help anyone else, otherwise, you will be out of the air and unable to help anyone else. More so than this, self-love is of great value in and of itself and does not need to be justified.

3. You should find 3 things you genuinely appreciate about yourself daily.

If it was life or death, what one thing would you give up for the rest of your life. sex, access to the Internet, your favorite food, TV, your best friend.

I would give up my access to the internet, hands down. It would probably feel horrible for the first couple of days but I’d get used to it fairly fast if I got to prepare for it beforehand.

Tell me about a time you hitchhiked?

I hitchhiked with an old teacher of mine in high school while on a class trip. For some reason, we split off from the rest of the group, and I had a whim; “why don’t we hitchhike back?”. I thought my teacher would say no for sure because I thought he was a boring man, but he said yes, and we were lucky enough to catch a ride with a really nice lady. Later he told me he had been a teacher in a war-ridden area in the middle east before he started teaching at the high school I went to. He turned out to be the opposite of boring.

If you are an interesting person or know of any, who might be a great read, email me at

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