On the Radar

Intrepid Real-life Ninja: Ea Holm

Ea Holm with Thor and Sif

“Ea’s a real-life Ninja!” says a friend of mine. I can’t agree more. I knew of Ea’s adventures through our Rolfing sessions, and had always been curious and amazed that her life seems so free from the rigidity of what I had known life to be. Very glad for this chance to find out more.

Hop-scotching from Denmark, Tokyo, New York, London, Hong Kong – in an off-sequence way bought an apartment even before she arrived Hong Kong, finished school, starting her practice in her mid twenties and Ea continues evolving since.

We cover Aerial arts, bodywork and clients, relationships and grief-processing.

Sit in with us and enjoy.

  1. Hello New Adventures
  2. Soft-Landing London
  3. From Rolfing to Aerial Arts – Hong Kong calling
  4. Plans of the Unexpected
  5. Healing and the Hardest Grief

Karen Tsui, Where My Heart Leads: How long have you been in Hong Kong?

Ea Holm, the real-life Ninja. A rolfing professional. Former aerial arts instructor.

It’s 11 years now. I was in New York for six years, very on and off because I never had a proper visa to stay there. So I had to leave once in a while. And then I went to London, where I actually did a bachelor’s degree because when I left Denmark, I never finished my bachelor’s degree. So I basically didn’t have a bachelor’s. So I went to London, did a bachelor’s degree and worked as a massage therapist. In New York, I had taken my massage therapy training, which was a very good, a very high qualification for massage, which was really, really helpful for me in London to have that. So I had my own massage business. And then I went to university. 

Where did it begin?

I am from Denmark. In Denmark, I was studying music, because I was trying to become an opera singer. That was really, really important to me. And then I started to have some health problems that were affecting my voice a lot. So in a sort of stroppy fit I was like, “I’m leaving Denmark! I’m leaving singing. I’m never doing this again!” And that’s when I left. So I left in a bit of a dramatic way where my dreams in Denmark didn’t work out. 

So was that around your Early 20s?

Yeah, that was when I was 20 years old. And back then when I was sad, I didn’t know what to do with my life, I had this dream that I went to Hong Kong. And I was happy in the dream. I’ve never been to Hong Kong, and it was humid and it was warm and everything that Denmark is not.

Did you have any concept of Hong Kong? Why would it pop into your dream?

I was really fascinated by Asia. 

For some reason, both Japan and Hong Kong were somehow very fascinating to me. I’ve seen pictures, but not actually pictures of Hong Kong, mostly highways and skyscrapers. 

That just came out very clearly in my dream. I didn’t go to Hong Kong straightaway. But yeah. That was when that idea went into my head. (Wow.) And then instead, I went for a very short trip to Tokyo to find my Asian dream. 

And there I met a guy. My last four days in Tokyo, I met a guy. We met out partying, and we were probably out partying for about four days. And then I went on a plane and left and I went to Sydney where I was meeting some friends. And he was then moving to New York. So he wrote to me and said, “Do you want to come?” And that’s how I ended up living in New York. I basically flew over to have a relationship with a man I’d known for four days.

Was there nothing at home to like, kind of keep you in Denmark, so to speak?

No, I was really ready for a new life. So I was sort of like up for anything. 

1. Hello New Adventures

So how was New York?

New York was fun and fast. And ageing.

Ageing, but you were so young when you were there. 

I was so young, but I felt before I left that if I don’t leave now I’m going to age really fast. I should get out.

What made you get that sense?

I think it was just, I found it hard to sleep there. 

The energy’s very harsh. People are very, very harsh. And in the beginning, it was hard for me to take. 

I was kind of bubbly, happy Danish Girl, like, you know, friendly to everybody. And actually, you can’t be friendly to everybody on the street in New York. Weirdos are gonna follow you. If you try to talk back, answer some people who talk to you because you’re polite. They’re just gonna follow you all day, you know. You can’t do that. You have to be, you have to turn quite harsh. 

I think that energy got a little heavy for me at some point. I mean, I didn’t actually leave because of that I left because I couldn’t get a visa to stay. But after that was determined – that I was going to leave, it was quite clear to me that like, it’s probably quite good to leave. Because this place – it makes you too hard. Like it makes you a little bit rude. A little bit rough. 

I was in New York for six years, very on and off because I never had a proper visa to stay there. So I had to leave once in a while. And then I went to London, where I actually did a bachelor’s degree because when I left Denmark, I never finished my bachelor’s degree. So I went to London, did a bachelor’s degree and worked as a massage therapist. In New York, I had taken my massage therapy training, which was a very good, a very high qualification for massage, which was really, really helpful for me in London to have that. So I had my own massage business. And then I went to university. 

In New York, I also did massage after I finished, but it was sort of like freelance, but in London, I sort of had my practice. I wouldn’t call it my business; It was literally just me and I rented a room hourly. And then I had clients and I wasn’t working for somebody. 

2. A “soft-landing” in London

How old were you then?

So I would have been 26. Mid-twenties was when I came to London. And then stayed there for four years. So three years for the degree and one year extra where I was doing so great in my business that I didn’t feel like leaving.

What were you studying?

It is quite weird. I studied linguistics, which is one of the most useless things you can study, I think. Everyone thinks you’re going to learn a lot of languages, but you don’t learn a single language. You literally just learn different theories about languages and you learn how to see patterns in language data, and compare it and make theories on it. So it’s very nerdy in a way. In a way very mathematical. And if you have a type of brain where it’s easy for you to see patterns, you’ll do very well.

So did you do well? 

I did very well. And that’s why I stuck with it. Because after I didn’t really know what it was when I signed off.

After I started, I was like, this is really weird. I don’t think I can use this for anything. 

But then I got my first assignment back, and I did really well. And I thought, maybe I should stick with this because it might just be a really easy way of getting a bachelor’s degree. Since that was my main aim was just to have a bachelor’s degree, I wasn’t really too fussed about what it was going to be in because I really didn’t know which direction I was going.

And then seeing patterns actually has really come up in your work!

Yeah, exactly. Like being being a little bit of OCD with like, “Things have to be in that place” (anatomically.) It’s actually very useful in my work as a Rolfer.

How has it informed some of your choices and some of your work?

Like from my education, like the seeing patterns, definitely I can use that a lot in my work. Relating to like, my, my way of making choices, I think that’s more just from my mom, to be honest, that I just – if I have an idea, and I get a good gut feeling, I just go for it. I’m not too like, should I, shouldn’t I. I literally always very clear when I get some idea that this is what I need to do. And then I just do it. I think that’s just my mom. Very, very gutsy woman.

What was your experience like in London?

London was, in a way, very kind to me. It was easy for me to get started there. It was very easy for me to build up my massage practice. I kept meeting people who kind of helped me on the way randomly. I made a very good friend in my studies who really helped me to get rid of some of that New York hardness I had built up.

How?

Oh, he was just very good. It was my gay best friend. He was very good at taking it slowly. He would he was Italian and Ethiopian, he would always take my arm and be like, “Now we stroll, stop running.” And he just forced me to walk slowly.

And sometimes he forced me to skip class and which I would never do and be like, “Now we go and just have ice cream.” Instead of having class it just literally taught me a little bit – how to have fun, how to be a kid, how to live gently, I’d say.

And then I also went to see a psychotherapist in New York, in London, who really helped me on that path as well. She helped me a lot on how to see things from other people’s perspective, how to always consider well, their situation could be this so act with kindness and so on where it was very much in my New York spirit to just be like, “No, it’s like this. And I see like this. So that’s how it is,” so that was that made a very big shift in me – My best friend and my psychologist.

So leaving Denmark, you didn’t have all those kind of garbage in a sense.

Yeah, I definitely learned a lot of a lot of hardness there (in New York). I wouldn’t say I was perfect back in Denmark. I was kind of a confused teenager, but definitely I had more of a kind approach to life in Denmark.

How does the kindness outwards relate to kindness starting with ourselves?

Well, that’s the thing, right? That if we, if we give other people the benefit of the doubt, we might also be kinder to ourselves. If you’re always like, “Why is this person doing that? Why is he walking so slowly? Why is he in my way?” and you might think, well, his leg might be hurting, you know, then you also can give yourself when your leg is hurting, you can be a little bit kinder to yourself and say, “It’s okay, you can. Yeah, you’re in people’s way. It’s okay.”

What experiences in London kind of gave you back more of your humanity? 

Yeah, I think I just I just had really close friends. We were just really… it was sort of like I got a second chance of youth in a different way where it wasn’t so much like wild partying and so on. 

It was just very, a nice community, a nice group of people who are now spread all over the world. So I don’t really have anything in London to visit now. It was like a soft place to land after New York I would say. I did not enjoy the weather at all. Did-not-enjoy like the city, the weather itself, that wasn’t actually something I enjoyed. But I enjoyed my friends, my work my, my life. 

3. From Rolfing to Aerial Arts – Hong Kong Calling

So what made you decide to leave that kind of comfortable, nurturing, soft landing in London?

First of all, most of my friends were leaving anyways, because the university ended. And then I had actually, I had met a guy that I fell in love with, who was a Rolfer. And we started dating, and he started to teach me stuff, especially because he wanted me to work on him. So I actually learned an incredible amount from him, which I’m very grateful for. And he encouraged me to do the Rolfing training. 

Now things didn’t work out between us. And when they didn’t, I was like, it’s my time to go, because you’re going to start something else. And then you’re going to meet another something, something else was there keeps being something that stops you from going to Hong Kong, which has been like in the back of my mind since my dream when I was 20 years old. So I thought once he and I broke up. I thought, okay, it’s the time to go. You go do your Rolfing training in Munich, and then you go to Hong Kong.

How long have you been doing Rolfing now?

I’ve been doing Rolfing for 11 years. So I basically finished my training and moved to Hong Kong. So what really drew me to it was, I was really bored doing massage, I was really bored just kind of doing patterns with people’s bodies at the end, because I’m, like, coming with the same problem every single week. And it’s not getting better, you know, I’m just I felt like I was just like a maintenance person.

And then when I met my, my ex-boyfriend, and I was like, Oh my God, this man is making changes in the body. This is like, this is what I want! Like he’s actually making a difference in people’s lives. Like, you know, when you’d leave after the session, you’d feel it feel kind of like a different person, even a different outlook on life. And I was like, This is what I want to give people. I don’t just want to like, give them a rub and a little chat. And then off you go, you know?

You mentioned you’re looking into counselling…

Rolfing is very physically hard, it’s very physically demanding. So I always have the thought, oh what do you do when you get older when you can’t actually work physically like that anymore? And I always in the back of my mind thought I’ll probably do some psychology course and some type and try to transition into that. And once I looked into it, I realised you actually need like a full on master’s degree, actually you need to do it properly. So once I looked into it, I started to think about doing it properly. 

Basically, I want to be able to, to not work physically when I get older. 

And I feel like in my Rolfing work with some clients, not with all clients. But with some clients, we already get into some, they end up telling me some quite personal things. And I very often felt like I would like to help them more, I would like to be able to dive into that. But a lot of what they teach us in Rolfing is you can listen, or for empathy, and so on, but don’t try to be a psychologist. Do not try to dig into the things because things might evolve in a way that you don’t know how to handle because you don’t have the training. 

So I’ve definitely had times like that where I felt like I want to say something but I do not go there. And I kind of want to go there. So yeah, first I thought about it just as a way to help the particular clients who bring something. But then as I could feel I’m getting older, It’s getting harder sometimes to work the amount of hours I do so I thought maybe I should actually think about it as a transition into something. Something where I can sit down in the future at some point.

There must be like, several different modalities that also kind of tap into kind of, would you say like subconscious?

Well, there’s a lot of approaches within psychology and counselling, a lot of different, like, different styles, different ways of doing it, and different schools of doing it. And this particular degree is a general degree, you learn a little bit about each of them and you you learn enough to be a counsellor, but without following a specific one, you can take bits from each or afterwards, you can then choose to go more in depth into one of them. So it’s very general. And since I didn’t feel like I knew which approach I like better, I thought, let’s just go with a general one. 

And the reason I chose counselling and not psychology is basically because of my high school. In my high school, you could, you could choose language track or math track, and I chose language. And when you choose language, you don’t have a physics, math… There’s a lot of the science subjects you just don’t have. And to actually get into a degree in psychology, you need to have those science subjects. So if I was going to do psychology, I had to basically redo high school courses. And I was, I was not really keen on that. And then I realised with counselling, you don’t need those. So cool. So that’s why I chose counselling over psychology. You can charge a little bit less than a counsellor, but that’s fine by me.

You also do aerial arts. Where did that come into the picture? 

Oh that came out of the blue. I have actually sort of stopped performing now and I only teach a little bit on my rooftop in Lamma Island. I don’t I don’t teach them in a studio anymore. 

This is how it was I was in London. And as I was about to leave, I went to New York to visit friends. And we did a flying trapeze class together, which I hadn’t done before. It was just a completely random – it was my friend’s birthday, and we went to do that. And I was like, “Wow, this is cool!” And then I got obsessed with just looking for a flying trapeze place.

What is a trapeze?

A trapeze is where you have two platforms up high, and then there’s a bar – there’s a guy hanging from one bar from his legs, and then the flyer will then swing out from the from the other bar, do some flips in the air and get caught *Clap* like by the catcher from the other bar. 

So that takes a lot of space – and it actually takes a lot of people to run a class. 

So when I came to Hong Kong, I was like, “Where’s the Flying Trapeze school!!?” And there is none because it’d be crazy expensive running a flying trapeze school here. The amount of space you’d need, and yeah, it wouldn’t really be feasible cost wise. 

But in all my Google searches for that, I found aerial arts school because that obviously comes up when you put trapeze in. And then I thought, well, if there’s no flying trapeze, I’ll do this. And then I just started taking classes as a student, and it had just started in Hong Kong, that first aerial arts schools have just opened. So it was all very, very new. There were not many of us in class, we kind of became very friendly with the teachers, we started hanging out doing whatever we felt like, training together. And I got quite obsessed. And then when I finished my job in the clinic I was working in, I finished to start my own practice, then that’s when the aerial school moved to a location where there was an extra room. So I basically started my practice in that room. 

And that meant that I put into my rental contract with them that I could come in and practice in the mornings when nobody was there. When nobody else was using the studio, I was allowed to go practice I paid an extra fee to be able to do that. So that meant I just came in like three hours before work every day and practice, practice, practice, practice, practice. Because I got really obsessed with it. And before I knew it, I was doing shows.

Wow. So you started aerial arts in Hong Kong with your instructors?

Yeah, I did. And I learned that I did all the things I tell people not to do, I learned from YouTube. (Oh, you did?) Yeah, I did. We all did that. Hong Kong instructors did as well because there was really no one here who had really gone to a three-year circus school program. So we were all sort of just figuring it out. (Wow.)

What’s the allure of aerial arts for you?

For me, it was particularly because I had almost had a lot of dance inside me. I’d hear music and I would already choreograph in my head, but my feet cannot dance very well, they’re really, really useless! When I tried to do turns on the floor, I fall over, like, I’m really not a very good dancer! 

And I could never do the things that I had in my head. And so when I found aerial, I could. I could actually express my emotions to music, and it actually looked decent somehow, taking my feet on the ground out of the equation was the was the key. So for me, it was just that all this dance I had inside me that I felt stuck; it had had an outlet all of a sudden. And that was amazing.

What was it like doing shows in Hong Kong like for aerial arts?

Oh, it’s really quite exciting. It’s fun. It’s, I’ll say in Hong Kong, it’s easy in the sense that the clients, they are generally not looking for really difficult ,strenuous tricks, they generally want pretty poses, the hair flowing around the fabric flowing around you know? And you can actually make something very pretty with very easy tricks. So you can make it without being that level. And it was really fun. We were treated well, generally, you know, they take good care of you, you’re given a room to sit when you wait for the shows that give you some food (sometimes.) And yeah, it was it was quite a positive experience. 

Sometimes, of course, you’re, you’re worried about rigging, because a lot of these places. Rigging is how the attachment point is set up so that you don’t fall down and die. 

Of course, that’s always a concern, especially because there’s between me and Chinese riggers, there’s a language barrier. So you’re trying to kind of make sure that you’ve actually gotten the specifications you have asked for that there is enough capacity to hold the weight you have asked for up there. In some venues, you can’t check it yourself because it’s too high up like it’s already set up. So you can’t get up there. So you have to sort of trust. And that was sometimes I had a little bit anxiety about that. I usually didn’t have anxiety about my own ability to hold on. But I would have been excited about the rigging sometimes.

At what height do you guys typically perform?

Most venues in Hong Kong, I’ll say we use a silk there was six to eight meters. And so you sometimes go all the way to the top, but you’re usually like a meter or two down from that. But I have done some concerts where the highest I was up was 21 meters. And that was that was a little, that was a little tough. 

What’s the kind of level of development you feel for aerial in Hong Kong versus neighbouring Asian countries.

I think neighbouring Asian countries is very similar. I know that in like in in like New York or London or so on you have you have proper circus schools where you do a degree in circus, you can do a bachelor’s degree in circus. 

And it’s like seriously three years of hardcore training from the best coaches. And that’s obviously a whole different level than what we had. 

But yeah, I feel like in Asia, it’s, it’s kind of growing similarly. I have a few Facebook friends around in Shanghai or Vietnam, it looks like it’s quite similar to here, the ways it’s growing. 

I think one thing that does concern me a little bit about the way it’s growing is a lot of people are starting studios, and they are not always so aware about the safety with the rigging, like what they actually need to have safe rigging. And that can that can scare me a little bit. Because it’s so popular now in Hong Kong, there’re so many studios. And sometimes I get a little bit worried when I see videos on Instagram. I’m like, I don’t know how that was put up. That’s that that’s the only thing that I find worrying. But otherwise, I find it really wonderful that it’s just spreading so much, and people are enjoying it so much. I’m seeing so much talent in Hong Kong now. Some people I’ve never met, people that are like the new generation.

So aerial really gave you expression or creativity that you didn’t have, and how might that relate to your work, or your life?

I felt like it was feeding me. Like when I was when I work on clients, I’m giving out a lot of energy to the clients. And the aerial fed it back into me, it was like a stress relief, almost a meditation. Because when you when you do it, you you have to concentrate so much, because obviously if you don’t concentrate, you can fall off. And if you fall off, you’ll break your neck or something like that. So that that level of concentration and then at the same time when you’re in the zone with the music and you’re free-styling it’s almost like you go into a meditative state. And I’ve always been terrible at actual meditation sitting still meditation, I always sit and go, when is it finished? So this was like that. That was really my meditation was was doing aerial.

Over the years, in massage and Rolfing, how do you feel you have evolved? 

I’ve definitely learned a lot more about how different everybody’s reality is – not just mentally, but also physically, that one person might come in like looking like this and like completely bent over and be crooked and say, all my friends told me I should come but actually I feel fine. They have no pain.

And then you have someone where you can only find the tiniest little imbalances, but in a world of pain, and that you really need to, to only keep only measure people’s, where they are in their body to themselves. Like you really cannot compare. I don’t like the idea like our arms should lift then with however many degrees and so on. There’s no standard. It’s whatever that person’s standard is, it’s what they feel like in their body. It’s how functional their body is. It’s how happy they are in the body, how pain free they are. That’s the standard you should be working with, rather than a than too much of a this is how it should be in the human body. You know?

Yeah. Do you feel like you’re seeing different types of cases over the years?

I find it quite interesting. I find like I get the people that I need to learn something from. (From their bodies?) 

From their bodies, like I will often get people with the same problem at the same time. So I’ll get three new clients with an SI joint problem and I’m like, Okay, I guess I’m supposed to get better at SI joint problems now. And then I learned a lot from them. And I learned things from one that I can use on the other, and so on. Yeah, I find it often that I will suddenly have an influx of people with the same thing going on.

I think that is kind of how it works.

I’ve definitely learned a lot more about how different everybody’s reality is – not just mentally, but also physically. You really cannot compare. I don’t like the idea like our arms should lift with however many degrees and so on. There’s no standard. It’s whatever that person’s standard is, it’s what they feel like in their body. It’s how functional their body is.

Ea Holm

You are sort of attracting the clients that you need to learn something from and that you’re ready for.

Recently I’ve had more clients in recent years with sort of chronic pain, inflammatory conditions and so on where I’ve really had to learn that it is so different from person to person and you must enter into that person’s reality to help them. That you can’t just be like, Oh, this stretch is good for that. But it’s like, but for that person, that stretch really is going to make the condition worse. And to really respect everybody’s reality for their body. If that makes sense. That’s something that I in recent years have really understood. And I think that’s that was the influx of more chronic pain people that made me understand that.

I feel like working on chronic issues is really deeper, too, right? 

Yeah, yeah. 

Do you feel that like in the work that you do, you can enable them to also take responsibility for their own wellness as well?

To some degree, yes. It really depends on where they’re at in their journey. But with most people, they feel empowered when you give them some homework to do, or that you, you maybe give them a cue. After the session, I’ll have people stand up, and I’ll try to see what I feel like they’re missing, I might say, breathe into this place, or try to imagine your head is lifted up like this. 

And for some of them, that those cues can really give them something they can hold on to when the session is over, so they can go, Okay, this is starting to come back. Okay, I’m gonna think about this. Or I’m gonna, you know, I’m going to use this little cue that I got. So for some people, that’s very beneficial, very empowering. Yeah, for some people, it’s just sort of I’ve often talked to people about their diet, and so on, even though I’m not a nutritionist or anything like that, but people will ask me thinking I know everything. And once in a while, you can actually see that.

I remember I had a client that I don’t remember I made the most amazing changes with, and I was actually a little bit frustrated.

Then a few years later, I met a friend of hers randomly who was like, Oh, you’re that you’re this person. And she was like, you made a huge change in her life. And I was like, really? Yeah, you changed her diet, her life, completely. And I was like, Wow. Okay. I felt like I actually kind of didn’t achieve what I wanted there. But yeah, some, it seems like sometimes the conversations you have with people actually makes them makes them want to make different changes or seek, it’s not that I definitely tell them, You must eat this and this and this, but they might go look for someone who will actually tell them what to eat. Sometimes I’m able to give them that that motivation to do that. (Signpost)

How fulfilling do you feel with like what you’ve pursued in your life, I guess going back to you know, like the beginning of you know, just pursue whatever makes you feel very fulfilled. 

Yeah. Well, that’s the thing that’s very interesting that I kind of fell into bodywork. It wasn’t something that I dreamt about during my whole childhood. It was just sort of random that I fell into it. And I actually feel like it is such a blessing. You know, I’m actually really enjoying it. I really like when you, when you see people, they felt something shifted in their body, and they go, Oh, that’s really nice. Alright, well, I can breathe in here. That’s really fun. I’m gonna keep doing that, you know, this, then feels really good. Of course, it can also be frustrating when you’re stuck with a client and you’re not getting the changes that you want. But that’s part of life, right? That’s that’s how you learn.

4. Plans of the Unexpected

How did you fall into bodywork?

Oh, that was in in New York, because I was constantly trying to get a visa. So basically, it’s quite difficult to get a working visa in New York. And at some point, after 911, they got quite strict on letting people in and out of tourist visas, which is what a lot of people, a lot of us did that. We went into non tourist visas and just worked illegally. And there was lots of jobs illegally as well, it wasn’t really a problem. But after 911, they suddenly started stopping everyone and saying, What are you doing here? Why are you staying? So why are you coming so often? So I thought I need a visa of some type. 

I researched a lot of different options for schools that would be affordable to pay for because I wasn’t actually intending to go to the school, I was just going to sign up for a school to get the visa. So I found this massage school and I was like sweet, I’ll sign up for that. I had to pay the first tuition fees for the visa to get activated.

You were planning to not pay the rest of the course!

I was. Well, I was just sort of let’s see how it goes and see how if the visas can stay active. But that was right when me and the boyfriend I had in New York we split up. I was so, so sad and depressed. I was crying, crying, crying. It was like the end of the world for me. And to distract myself, I thought, why don’t you go to the school. You’ve paid for it anyways, just go classes, it’ll distract you, you won’t lie here and cry on the sofa all day. And I was staying with a friend. And that friend was also having trouble in her marriage. They’re fighting all the time. So I actually couldn’t really stay on this sofa all day. It was quite hectic and miserable. 

So I took these classes and just sitting there learning anatomy became my lifeboat for this broken heart. It was just literally what I needed. Just I would just sit there and memorise muscles. It just gave me purpose and meaning. And so I went through almost all this schooling, it was a year and a half of schooling that I went through, without even thinking I was probably going to use it for work, just because I was interested and I liked it. When we got towards the end, I’m like, Oh, I might actually work as a massage therapist. So I really fell into that. That was completely random. I didn’t intend to do it. I discovered that I liked it as I did it.

It’s kind of like how you got into the linguistics program? 

Yes. It’s like, I want a bachelor’s, but I don’t know what I want to study. And I would look at the list of things. It’s like, No, no, no, no, that sounds hard. That sounds complicated. And then linguistics just sounded like something with languages, and I like languages. So I didn’t realise that it’s not quite what you learn; you didn’t learn any languages. So that’s what I signed up for. And I had quite a wrong idea of what it was, but it worked out for me. 

So you kind of followed what you like, or love, or potentially interested in.

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And then sometimes it’s just luck as well. With massage school, I think it was very lucky that that’s what I went for, and not some other random type of training that I maybe wouldn’t have enjoyed. 

What do you love about Hong Kong? 

Oh, I love so much about Hong Kong. 

I love the nature. I love the city. The heat, I’m never cold here. I know that people don’t like the heat and the humidity. And it can be a little bit much at the height of summer. But honestly, overall I’ll take it over cold any day – Any day. And I love the mountains. Denmark is completely flat. And I’ve always been fascinated by hills. Love the beaches, there’re palm trees. You know, it’s just the nature is so incredible. There’re trees growing out of buildings. It’s the nature is just taking over everything. I love it. And then right next to all the nature you have the city full of opportunity. 

And it is even though it’s like a roaring huge city, you have this gentleness I find. There is this I think especially during COVID It’s so so clear to see this. The sense of responsibility for the community, which is just so beautiful. You know, like here, you don’t have people arguing they don’t want to wear masks. There’s really this, Well, I wear the mask to protect my neighbour. That’s just a given. And I think that’s like something we’re really missing in the Western world.

5. Healing and the Hardest Grief

You asked me about the, my losing my dad and so on in the questions. With that, I would just say that I think it’s really important to sort out your shit with your parents early. 

Because we just, we just started to sort it out like two months before he passed and I feel like it was such, if we had had a little bit more time we had actually had the chance of a much closer relationship. But we were both stubborn for many years. And the relationship wasn’t that close.

Who moved first?

I’d say he did, actually. But so one of the big obstacles to us being close was his wife that she was mentally ill and he was denying it my entire childhood. 

It was very gradual, her mental illness came. So I will say when I claim she was mentally ill when I was like 12. I think that everybody just thought I was a jealous stepdaughter. But I actually was right. And of course it was fair that he denied it back then. But he denied it much, much longer into her illness where it was really clear to everybody and that was really what was in between us. 

She didn’t like me, and I didn’t like her. And that he wouldn’t admit there’s something wrong with her that was like the barrier between us and them. So at some point, he admitted it. That was when we started to soften where he was like, Okay, yeah, she is really mentally ill. And I’m actually a caretaker now. And it’s actually really hard. 

That was when we started to soften a little bit, but it was still very hard for me to see him because she was always there. And now he couldn’t actually not be there because she couldn’t leave her alone. 

So, two months before he passed, he actually came to Hong Kong to visit me. Because he had asked the government, if he could get a space for her in a care home so he could go visit me for a week which was something he had, he always said, I can’t leave her so I can’t come. You know, so that was really his reached out the arm was to say, Okay, I’ll ask. I’ll ask for a place in a home for a week for her so I can come. 

And that was really the turning point where we started to have some conversations we shouldn’t have had many years before. It was just the beginning of us both melting. Then two months later, he passed. 

Was it was really sudden? 

Yeah, yeah, he was quite fit and fine. I mean, he would walk around Lamma Island and no problem in the hills. He was chopping wood for his fire every day. And he actually got a stroke while chopping wood. So that was Yeah, so it was quite sudden, he was 69. Good health, still playing football every Sunday, you know. So it was quite a quite a surprise. Nobody expected it.

But in a sense, sometimes it’s like when the time is, is the time it will happen. Right? Like it’s almost like there was no. Like, I don’t know what you could have done.

Oh, no, I couldn’t have done anything. Yeah, it was it was more than I would have loved for us to have a little bit more time to enjoy this softness we had suddenly built between us. And this is understanding of each other where we had both just been like, stubborn before, you know. 

But at least we at least we got there before he passed. That’s that’s definitely something I just wish we’d had a little bit more time. Yeah, I don’t think there’s anything I could have done to speed that up. Because he needed to come to the conclusion that it was okay to put her in a home for a while to actually give me the time that I need it.

So there was closure, which is great. 

Yeah, it was it was Yeah. Yeah.

What about Thor that passed?

That was the hardest grief of my entire life. I mean, very different grief from that with my dad – they were very different. Because he was like my child, he was with me 24-7. You know, he was on my body or he would be around my feet. I would never not hear his breathing, or smell his scent, or feel his little nose, pop my leg, you know, he was just, and he was like, my son, really.

So losing him even though you know, they’re gonna go before us. You know, you know, dogs are not like children, they’re not gonna live after you. But it still was the hardest thing I’ve had to go through. And I was so happy that I was closed down for business when he actually passed because I would have, I would probably have needed to take two months off to to recover.

Are there tips or things that you feel like, you know, like would be helpful for people who are kind of going through that loss?

Yeah. Which I mean, for me, it was really important to not try to distract myself. To really let the grief be there.

To go, Okay, I’m feeling this and this is an expression of love, to not think it’s Yeah, you feel terrible. You’re crying, and it feels like your soul is just like crushed.

But instead of going, oh, let’s watch a movie. Let’s do this – to literally just sit with it and sit and talk to him and write about him and I have this little pendants now with his hair. I have one with his ashes. And those really helped me. To go for walks and talk to him and pretend that he’s there. That that really helped me, even though it might seem a little crazy. So I still put his little the towel he used to eat from down when I feed my other dog Sif. Just because I feel like I’m still doing that to honour him. And I think it’s just important to let yourself do those things that can seem a little bit crazy because they’re actually really helpful for processing the grief.

Do you feel you’re sometimes getting signs that he is around? 

Yeah, yeah, I sometimes get this little those little flying white things on my on my walks that just look like his first I always see that as a sign that he came to visit me on the walk. Yeah. He died of pancreatitis of old age. So it was to be expected. But it’s tough. Very tough.

Well, that’s the thing – I kind of fell into bodywork.

It wasn’t something that I dreamt about during my whole childhood. It was just sort of random that I fell into it. And I actually feel like it is such a blessing. You know, I’m actually really enjoying it.

I really like when you, when you see people, they felt something shifted in their body, and they go, Oh, that’s really nice. Alright, well, I can breathe in here. That’s, that’s really fun.

Ea Holm

All photos are from Ea Holm unless otherwise specified.
Date of chat: Saturday, February, 2021 over the internet.

Read on: Ea also shared her experience growing up in a commune in Denmark.