Soaking Up The Beauty Of Early Winter Light

Hello my dearest friends and readers. I woke up at 04:30 this morning. As I sat on the toilet, eyes grainy with sleep, I thought that I would put on some coffee, do a blog post, and then go back to bed. Haha, I don’t know why I get these ideas when I am dead tired, but ever since I uploaded the photos I took yesterday to my computer I have been eager to share them. So I sat down with a cup of hot coffee and got to work. Ever since Wednesday I have felt under the weather, like I am getting sick, and everything takes a hundred times longer than usual, so just before seven o’clock I had only one photo left to save when this awful nausea hit me. I really slid down in my chair and couldn’t move, afraid I would throw up. I just stared at that save-box and thought just think up a name for the photo and save it, then go to bed.

I did and I slept till 11:00! And now I’m here again to photo bomb you. 😉

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I mentioned in my last post that I barely lifted my camera for the past few weeks. After my confession to Jay, talking with my friend, and telling you all about it, I felt light as a feather. It really is true what is said about sharing our burdens and relieving the weight of it. Yet this felt more like throwing it off completely and suddenly it seemed like the walls around me were torn down and I could run out in whichever direction I chose. It’s just incredible how we with our thoughts and perceptions can either create a suffocating prison for ourselves, or a vast wonderland of endless possibilities. And all it takes is a little honesty — with ourselves and others. Just wow. Don’t you think?

So yesterday I spent over two hours outside. First, I took Loke for a walk along our little road that leads toward the neighbours and our mailbox. Jay drove past me at one point to get Lilli from Lappi — she had stayed behind after school to play with some friends. I like having Loke with me, but he gets so impatient if I linger too long to take photos, and since he is still so young and doesn’t always stay by my side, I keep him on a leash. So very often I find myself consumed in taking a specific shot and suddenly my arm flies out when he decides we have been still for too long. I can get so irritated with him at those times, even if I understand how boring it must be for him to sniff around the same scents for too long. He knows when I am ready to move along, and instantly starts skipping in joy that we are finally leaving whatever little cramped space I squeezed myself into to get my photos. Haha

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I love how gentle the light is right now. It’s kind of perfect when I think about it, because when the snow comes, that light dances off the thousands of shimmering crystals covering the lands and I can’t imagine how blinding it would be if the sun stood as high in the sky as it does during summer. Although it can be blinding all the same — you can even get a tan! Which makes me think of what I have heard growing up, about depression hitting us so hard here in this part of the world during these darker months. Yet if I at any time felt weary, it was during spring and high summer. I wondered earlier this year if it’s because all my depots get depleted during the darker months, but then another blogger mentioned how hard and cold the light is in spring, and I have always been sensitive to strong light conditions. I get headaches, bone-weary, lose motivation — I feel like a zombie. But maybe it isn’t just that the light is too harsh. What if the fact that I am outside more during autumn and winter as opposed to spring and summer, and with the help of the reflection off the snow, it is enough anyway? Apparently we don’t get the vitamin D humans need up here in the Nordic countries, but what if we are evolved in such a way to either soak up the vitamin D easier, or maybe we just don’t need as much. And I have heard so many stories from others who suffer spring depression as well, so maybe it’s just a myth? I find this all so very interesting. What do you think?

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We were at a birthday party recently, and afterwards we stopped by the shop to pick up some milk. Jay disappeared for a moment and when I finally saw him coming toward me, he had this quirky smile on his face and two of these tomtar in his arms. They have holders for marschaller, torch like candles that look like a really big tea light candle. Jay thought they would look great in the opening of the spruce hedge to our yard, and I agree. They look so adorable sitting there. ❤

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I actually went out twice yesterday. My fingers are so incredibly sensitive to cold and moisture these days, and they turn corpse-pale and I lose all sensation in them, so I can’t be out for too long at a time or it becomes extremely painful. Not all fingers are affected actually, only some. It’s so strange to see a couple of my fingers look so totally yellow-white next to the ones not affected, and it’s not the entire finger, either, only from the second or last joint down to the tip. My mother has the same problem.

Jay was away on a business trip a couple of weeks ago, and when he came home he had gotten me a new lens for my camera! It’s this amazing little lens; a 50mm with the smallest f-number at 1.8. I used that for all the photos in this post. But what I love the most about it are the beautiful close-ups it produces. Right behind Jay in the last photo, between those two buildings are a few red currant bushes, and when I first tested the lens I took a few photos of them at sunset. So the reason I went back outside was to get some more, because they just looked so beautiful and I only got a couple of good ones the first time. I’m still trying to get a hang of the focus on the new lens — it is a little trickier than I am used to.

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I have also finally started collecting photos to put up on a page called Printler. It’s a Swedish-founded online photo print shop, and it’s for photographers as well. Best of all — they recently went international. I wrote them earlier this year to ask if I could sign up to sell my photos, and they told me that so long as I have a Swedish ID number, I can, which I have. But I wasn’t sure how it would work with taxes and in practice, since I live in Finland. They also told me then that they would launch outside of Sweden this autumn, so in the end I decided to wait. Meanwhile I considered the fact that as a non-professional photographer without a business registration number, you get 30% of the profits, as opposed to up to 50%. If I have understood it correctly. I thought about this for months, and now I have decided that I will sign up. I follow this wonderful blogger and photographer, Jonna Jinton, whom I know some of you also follow, and after having read how stressful and time consuming it can be to have a web shop and handle all packaging and postage yourself, I think that any reduced profit (if there even is any, considering I’d have to pay for the prints, postage and handling if I had my own web shop anyway) is more than worth my own peace of mind. Printler handles all of that. The only thing I have to do is take photos and upload them to my own personal gallery. That’s it. I think it’s a great option to start with.

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After creeping around in the bushes to get my close-ups of the berries, I took a walk down behind the farm. I mentioned we had workers digging around in our fields to put down new electricity cables, and I think that, too, kept me from taking my beloved photo walks around the farm. I’m not as strict with requiring my privacy when I photograph these days, but it still felt awkward to have strangers driving and walking back and forth in our private safe haven. Especially with all the noise from the machines.

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I was so shocked when I walked around the orange digger to find a huge trench cutting through our little road. It made me realise how long it has been since I last walked this way.

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But this digging is done by Jay and his father. Instead of paying hundreds of euros for labour to dig down the pipe through which the fiber cable for our new internet connection will go, Jay decided to do it himself. He and his father also know what lies beneath the earth around here, so they know precisely where it’s safe to dig and where not to. I don’t know if I mentioned that the workers cut through a cable that shut down electricity to parts of our farm, including the heating system that brings the hot water from the barn to our house. On a Friday afternoon. Luckily it wasn’t so cold then, and one of the workers managed to patch it up till we could get an electrician to repair it.

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The sun played peek-a-boo all of yesterday, so I am very glad I went out twice and stayed for so long. I got to capture so much beauty from the softness of these early winter evenings. In fact, it isn’t really only in the evening the light is like this — it is an all day blessing. From early morning till early sunset. Actual winter sunsets are something from another realm. I will make sure to capture some of those moments, too, and share with you. Especially when the frost or the snow stays from dawn till dusk.

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Now we have to get ready for town. Lilli is going to stay with her grandmother till tomorrow, which she reminded me of when I told her we are going into the forest this weekend to collect some things for Christmas decoration crafting. Haha I finished scraping off glue and sanded off some paint yesterday from the wooden panelling around the closet in our new bedroom. (Yes, I am still at it! Haha) I accidentally smeared green paint onto them when I painted the walls several weeks ago. So, hopefully, I will get the last painting job done tomorrow before Lilli comes back, and then I’ll get started on the guest room. Just as long as it all gets done before the 23rd of December, when my parents and my sister come over for Christmas! ❤

Haha, another long post! I will leave you now, though, and wish you a wonderful Friday and weekend. Many hugs and much, much love.

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Daring To Meet Myself Just As I Am

Hello dear ones. I don’t even know how to begin telling you about the past couple of weeks, or how many times I started writing a blog post only to leave it sitting in my draft folder. But I do know why I left it there, and it took me until yesterday to admit it to myself. So now I’m writing a new one — one that I just know beforehand will be long. I hope you will bear with me.

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I’m trying to remember exactly when the delivery man dropped these boxes off at our door, but the past few weeks have been so full of ups and downs that I can’t remember. What I do remember is that when my hairdresser and new-found friend told me about Mary Kay I was sitting in the salon she works in to get my hair done. Over a month ago now. And not too long after that I signed a contract to become an independent skin care consultant. If you haven’t heard of Mary Kay, I’ll just explain in short. The company was created back in the 1960’s by a woman of the same name, who wanted to give women the opportunity to follow their dreams, have a career and the freedom to shape their life in whichever way they desired. Today this company spans continents and the women who have joined and still join have amazing success stories behind them.

What spoke to me right from the start was that freedom. That and the incredible warmth, compassion, enthusiasm and friendliness of every single woman I met during these past couple of weeks. To be surrounded by positive people who genuinely want nothing but to help you and see you succeed is so amazing, and just what I have craved and missed since I finished my studies in Sweden almost one year ago now.

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I was so blessed to join them now. I got to go to a local area meeting to meet a few ladies, get some coaching and see how a skin care class is conducted, and one week later I went with them to an event at the Helsinki airport. The atmosphere was wonderful and the women who held their speeches inspired me so much. I can’t put into words how thankful I am I was given the opportunity to meet them all — it came into my life like a beam of glorious light at a time when I needed it the most. So when I tell you now that in spite of all this I was haunted by immense stress and anxiety on and off since I signed that contract, you might wonder why.

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First, I spent the last twenty-four hours on this cruise ship that runs between Turku, Finland, and Stockholm in Sweden. I have this very bad habit of using snus. It’s a pouch of tobacco used under the lip. I used to smoke, but quit almost three years ago now. Knowing addiction all too well, I shouldn’t have started using snus, but there you have it. It’s a Swedish product and not allowed by law to be sold in Finland. You are allowed to bring in 1000 grams for personal use, however, so every once in a while I take a cruise to re-stock my supplies. I know that once I put my mind to it, I will quit this, too, but for now I am another willing slave under an addiction. The things we do regardless of knowing it’s bad for us.

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One of the things I like about these cruises is the time I get to reflect. I mean, there isn’t anywhere to go or much else to do. Of course, for those who like shopping, there is the tax-free shop. Or if you like to have a drink and listen to live music, there is a place for that, too. There is also karaoke, bingo, restaurants, kids’ play grounds, saunas, spas and even a swimming pool. I always end up sitting in the cafeteria by these windows, with a coffee and my journal. I love watching as we pass through the Swedish archipelago. The most amazing houses dot the shores, and the view really is beautiful.

I wrote several pages during this trip. To be honest, before a couple of weeks ago I hadn’t kept my journal regularly since end of summer. But after I signed that contract I have been writing almost every day. Mostly to convince myself I was on the right track. Positive self-coaching and self-motivation. For every dip and moment of anxiety, for every time I started panicking, I opened up my journal and wrote myself through it. It has worked, sort of, but as I sat with my journal yesterday, the ship gently swaying beneath me, I couldn’t do it anymore. And on my way home, driving slowly through a frozen night, I listened to beautiful cello music and cried almost the entire way. My pulse was so hard and loud when I came in the door to tell Jay we had to talk. My darling man who sponsored me to get the start-up kit for this entire thing. For the longest time I couldn’t get a word past the lump in my throat. While I knew with every fiber in my body that what I was about to tell him was right — what my gut had been trying to tell me for weeks while I stubbornly ignored it — a storm of conflicting thoughts raged inside me. I’m such a failure. I’ll disappoint everyone. I just wasted so much money, and for what? How did I get here after all this time? Why don’t I ever learn?

I told Jay what I will tell you now: I can’t do this — be a skin care consultant — because I don’t want to be. I said yes because I miss and crave friendship and social interaction. People to spend time with, to share common interests and be enthusiastic with. To think that I a few years ago received the diagnose Social Phobia. And here I was, throwing myself into something I really don’t want to do just so I can be around other people.

Jay sat quietly for a while after my word-vomit confession, and my heart seemed to flutter around in every part of my body. Then he said well, these things happen. You have to try things to find out what is right for you and you did try. Remember I told you not to worry about the money. It’s just money and it’s all right. As I write this, I’m in tears all over again. I can’t tell you what a wonderful man I have, what it means to me to have his support while I stumble around and flail about when I lose my way. In the midst of chaos and tumultuous emotion, he is my steady harbour.

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From these past few weeks there is so much to take with me. From this I can learn and grow. And as much as I fought with those thoughts that tried to tell me I was a coward, weak and a failure, I believe there is much more strength in telling the truth no matter what. And much courage in speaking up. Some years ago I would have soldiered on to the beat of the drum of imagined expectations. What will others think of me? What will make others happy? To succeed for the sake of assumptions of what others would see as success. Isn’t it incredible the lengths we can go to, the lies we will tell ourselves to satisfy an imaginary world built on low self-esteem and self-worth?

I remember something one of these inspiring women spoke about at that event this past Saturday. Something that truly hit me, something I haven’t been able to let go of. And what nudged the part of me that tried to wake me up to myself. She talked about self-esteem and self-worth. Have the courage to dare to meet yourself. Look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you are good enough, just the way you are. In spite of what you do or how well you perform.

I fully believe there are two kinds of roads in this life, too, that we are meant to walk on. That main road which will take us to where we want to go, and those side roads we wander down to get perspective on where we are headed. As this woman who spoke about self-esteem also said, but do not linger too long, find someone you trust to help you back onto that main road. And you know what? When I spoke with with my friend about my decision over the phone, she told me to remove the thought from my mind that I have to hold these skin care classes. No one expects this of me. I decide what I want to do and how much, and I will be welcome among them no matter what. Can you imagine it? I felt like whatever remaining knots and bundles of stress and tension left in me whooshed out. Isn’t that just so wonderful? She is such a warm soul.

So it is with deep conviction I believe I was meant to do this. To gain a different perspective and clarity. To understand better how very important it is to me to meet other people — accepting, supportive, compassionate people — to make friends and to connect. And to dare to meet myself, just the way I am. Every single day. To tell my reflection that I am good enough, just like this. Even with the chaos and turmoil. I have spoked a lot of chaotic emotions, but I feel that for every time we face something difficult we learn to accept it that little bit more.

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Oh, this day was so beautiful. The glimmer across our fields today after the night left a thin blanket of snow in its wake — this I will return to, over and over. These photos were taken over a week ago, but it’s just as sweet and fills me with peace and thankfulness after having seen it a thousand times. Filtering rays of soft light through branches dressed in rime. The creak beneath my shoes as I walk across the frozen lawn. A cloud of breath dancing alongside my dog when he runs back and forth in joy, trying to catch a snow ball Jay or Lilli throws at him.

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The small wonders of autumn’s remnants — golden colours scattered across the earth now as we pass into winter. I barely lifted my camera in these past few weeks. Only a few strewn occasions, and what a challenge it was to make myself. But when I did I felt such peace of mind, and I am so happy to finally share it with you.

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Soon I am going to start the Christmas season craftiness with Lilli. For years now I have wanted to make our own Christmas cards to send out and this year, damn it, we will have our own-made cards. And a wreath to hang on the door. I already got the wire to tie the spruce branches together. When I was little, we used to do all kinds of crafting for the major holidays, and I always loved it when my mother brought out the paints and papers, or when we collected things from the forest to craft with. I want my daughter to have these memories, too. Do you have any seasonal decoration traditions?

I will now leave you with a couple of photos from Father’s Day and wish you all a wonderful evening of what is left of this Wednesday. I hope to see you again soon! Much love. ❤

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Jay is so handsome in his suit. ❤
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The food took so long to arrive but we had plenty of snacks and conversation to hold us. 🙂

A Morning Farewell to October

Good morning my dearest friends and readers!

When I got up this morning I had no plans to write a post. My usual morning routine is to make sure Lilli gets to school, and after that I sit down with some coffee to do my daily Instagram post. Over the past few months I have found that it lets me stay in the routine of writing something every day, and to share my love of beauty all around me through photography in a way that doesn’t take me hours. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love blogging and sharing my day with you, but so often it turns into a process that can take up the entire day. During that time I leave my post to do other things and then come back as the day progresses. I know some of you have mentioned that you appreciate this very real way of blogging, and while I am so happy you do, I also want to give you my best, if you know what I mean? Of course, then I get stuck in-between, so maybe I should just let that go fully and do it like this. On the fly, whenever the urge to write hits me, and without any plan or thought whatsoever!

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I got this light garland many years ago, and every year I look forward to the darker months so I can enjoy these glowing roses.

The funny thing is that when I sat down to write now, I only wanted to wish you all a good morning, and to show you the photos I took spontaneously while keeping Lilli company during breakfast. But as soon as I had edited the photos and opened up the draft a flood of thoughts swept over me and I just went with it. It really is so amazing what support does to us, isn’t it? Your encouragement and words of assurance have given me so much strength and motivation. I am so very thankful for that.

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Haha, I didn’t even think to change. But I just love this night shirt. ❤

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I only intended to take some photos inside, but looking out the window and seeing the light frost on the ground, the blush of dawn on a deep blue sky — I reached for my coat and took Loke and the camera with me. Only for a few minutes, since Lilli was upstairs getting ready, and she has a tendency to get lost in her own world, so I have to make sure she comes back downstairs when it’s time to go to the taxi. And I relate so very much to that — losing track of time — so I started getting her up even earlier than before every morning to make it less stressful for her. To start the day with constantly having someone poking you to do this and do that (speaking from personal experience) can set you off-course for the entire day. If I can relieve her of that, I will try my best. Sometimes I fail and see how her shoulders slant under the pressure, and I end up feeling just awful.

But today was a good kick-off! She left with a spring in her step and I’m so very happy about that.

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Loke and I welcoming and saying farewell to the last dawn of October.

Oh, how I love these mornings when late autumn and early winter meet. These very first days of frost — before it has become a daily occurrence to wake up to a white shimmer flirting with dawn. I was so locked up in the prison of my own melancholy that I forgot what a very simple and easy privilege it is to put a coat on and step outside the door. And there it is: so much of what I love, so much of what I missed when I studied in Sweden and kept longing to get home for. But that is true happiness, isn’t it? To pause and take in what we have, what surrounds us every day. How incredibly easy it is to grow blind in the midst of a thousand blessings.

This, too, is changing. I am turning it around now. Just the fact that I slipped outside for a few minutes, that those stifling, restricting thoughts I have had lately not even entered my mind. All those excuses I make that steal away my awareness and thankfulness left me alone. I felt so free.

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So this is where I sit right now, writing you to wish you a wonderful day. ❤ I will take some time later today to reply to your comments. For now I am sending you my love and many hugs. Thank you so much for all that you give me.

Those Little Things

Good afternoon my dear friends and readers!

I remember when I first arrived in Finland, to this farm and when Jay’s parents lived in this house. Some ten years ago now. One of those things that stood out mostly was how they received guests and the entire machinery around having people over for dinner or a special occasion. So very different from my own parents and how I grew up.

One room in this house was specifically designated to the purpose of guests, only, and on all other days the room stood untouched, unvisited. The furniture were from previous generations — either crafted by those who had lived here before, or bought to match that era. I think jugend would be the closest to accurate style of these tables, chairs and cabinets. Lamps and carpets.

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The table and chairs are new, but I have kept that cabinet because it’s just so beautiful. I would have kept the matching table and chairs if it had only had capacity for more than four people. Maybe one day I’ll figure out a way to rebuild or extend it, somehow. 🙂

That room I am talking about is through the doorway you can see to the left, and no longer in use. It has turned into an “anxiety object” — a corner of this house into which we over the past few years have shoved furniture, boxes and just stuff every time we have done renovations or cleaned. Panic cleaned, as I would like to call it. Jay nor I are the tidiest people, and so every single time we have guests over we run around like mad to get the house in order. I have tried to then keep it that way, but over time it slowly falls into oblivion, and then it’s always the same thing the next time we invite people.

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Jay’s mother would get everything done beforehand. The food, the pies, cakes and pastries, and all the cleaning. On the day, she would heat up what was to be served warm, and all she had to do was get herself ready and set the table. Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? I remember the first time I wanted to host Christmas Eve here and I still had things left to cook when the guests arrived! Haha. I can laugh at it now, but back then I was a wreck and it didn’t help when Jay pointed out how his mother had always done it.

We have had some time to practice now, though, and last Thursday, when Lilli’s godparents and their son were to come over, all was ready twenty minutes before the set time of their arrival. I could sit peacefully on a stool and watch the oven. I said to Jay well, what do you know? We’re getting better at this! I did however go into town to buy the cake and buns to go with the coffee this time. I always bake and cook myself otherwise, but this time I decided not to — I simply felt I didn’t have the time.

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Look how tidy it is! ❤

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Even that anxiety, that painful knot in my stomach that usually appears when I feel those expectations of how to conduct myself, how to be social and a good hostess barely bothered me. Of course I know these people well, but that hasn’t made much of a difference in the past. Either way I am honestly so happy about this achievement, which I really feel it is, and in light of how down I have felt lately, I wanted to share some of this happiness and accomplishment with you. I am still so grateful and aware of the wonderful support you have given me, and even if I have had a couple of late nights since last I wrote, I am on track toward catching up on my rest.

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Another thing I have wanted to do for a while now is to take the camera with me when I refill the wood chips that we use to heat up the house and water. The thing is, though, that for one, I am so scared of getting dust onto the camera sensor again, and a lot of it flies around up on the loft when I shovel all that wood around. Another is that my camera isn’t very good at handling higher ISO’s, which are needed due to the dim lighting. The photos turn out grainy, and my perfectionistic tendencies cringe and squirm when I look at the results. It’s actually the same when I take photos inside the house, but lately I have consciously made an effort to try to let it go. It’s so silly that I leave my camera sitting just because a little graininess scares me. And I can still practice so many other aspects of photography.

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In the loft, the hatch to the shaft. At the bottom is a big screw that feeds the wood chips through an iron pipe and into the wood burner.

So the other day I took my camera with me but completely forgot to take my tripod, and lazy as I was, I just placed the camera on whatever surface I could find, resulting in a very, very dirty camera body and shoulder strap. I set the timer and let it snap multiple shots as I worked.

Now that the temperatures are dropping we will need to go out there more often, and when it’s really cold — fifteen to twenty below zero or lower — we need to refill more than once a day. Luckily we aren’t there just yet, and once every other day or two days is enough.

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wood-burner

The snow we had a few days ago is now completely gone, but that’s a good thing since I have some work in the forest. Some of you might remember I planted trees earlier this year, and since then a lot of grass and other vegetation has grown around and over them. So I need to go back to clear it away before the heavy snow arrives.

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I hope you’ve all had a great weekend and I wish you a good start on next week. Much love. ❤

Walking A Frosty Wonderland

Hello my darling friends and readers! I started this post earlier today while listening to some music and going through the photos I took this morning. I finally made it out to capture some frost! And the air right now is absolutely amazing. Rich yet crisp, with a touch of that clean, wintry scent.

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Earlier this year we got some papers from the local council to negotiate the rerouting of some electricity lines in our village, and that we were to get an electricity station on our lands through which these new cables will go. As unesthetic as it is, there wasn’t much to do but to like and accept the situation. At least we got to decide where the thing was to be placed. And so, for the past few days, now that the harvest is pretty much done, all kind of vehicles have been driving up and down our little road, and machines have delved into the fields.

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On a more positive note, however, this has eased the installation of a more reliable and faster internet connection through what we call fiber. Not sure if it’s the same in English? For years now we have had internet problems, and we even switched to mobile internet since it worked better than ADSL. That hasn’t exactly been ideal either, but we have made do. Now though, as soon as all the work is done, the days of our connection dropping out whenever it feels like it are over. Hopefully.

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Today was Lilli’s last day of school before a five-day autumn break. We did intend to go on a little trip, but since the harvest took so long, everything else was pushed forward, and with colder days and frost long past the morning hours, every day counts to prep the fields for winter. This weekend Lilli will spend some time with her grandmother in Rauma, though, and she always loves that. They both do.

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Jay asked me to come photograph the fields and met me to show me where, then ran back to work.
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Jay’s father does the ploughing.

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Meanwhile, I’m working on getting myself back on track. Going to bed earlier, for one. Since I last wrote I believe I hit that wall, and the time for a change is now. Not later. No more excuses or justifications as to why I have to stay up a little while longer to get this or that done. Last night I crawled beneath the covers a few minutes past ten at night, as opposed to two in the morning. I slept like a log for over eight hours, which was long overdue and did help, but I felt almost drunk when I got up, so this sleeping business has moved up to top priority now.

I must tell you how much warmth your words in response to my latest post gave me. I felt the smile all the way down in my toes. It’s like having my very own cheerleading squad and I can’t express in words how incredibly grateful I am to you for such wonderful support. It really means so much to me. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart. ❤

farm-building-in-frost

sunrise-over-farm-building-in-frost

frost-covered-logs

This morning I had every intention to finally get some photos taken I have been planning for some time now, and to write a post about that dream I have had for the longest time and am now pursuing. I took my camera with me when Loke and I went for our morning walk, though, and got stuck photographing a frost-covered wonderland. By the time I got back inside the joints in my hands ached so badly I nearly cried. That’s what I get for leaving my gloves inside and thinking a short walk with Loke wouldn’t turn into anything else but that. Haha So instead I will leave you a couple of photos from this weekend, when Jay joined me in the living room while I was practicing. It will give you an idea of what this new endeavour of mine involves. 😉

(And excuse the mess. Neither of us are the tidiest people in the world. Haha)

cello-in-messy-room

me-and-my-cello
Photo by Jay.

A cello. To me it is the most beautiful instrument in this world — well, I do love all bow instrument. If I say much else I will not be able to stop, so I am saving it for another post. I am curious though if any of you play an instrument or have any favourites? I tried for years to learn playing the guitar but my heart wasn’t in it. It just didn’t fit somehow.

Now, I want wish you the best week and to send you lots of love. Take care of yourselves and each other. ❤

Staying True To Yourself

Hello dearest friends and readers. I sat down last night to write a post but it took me long into the small hours of the morning, and in the end I went to bed close to tears. Not only because I was just tired, but because in spite of planning for an earlier bedtime, my tasks drag out for so much longer than they normally do. On top of that I am haunted by this impression I get nothing done, and all those photo and art/craft projects I planned have fallen completely to the sidelines.

huittistentie
The “big” road that goes toward Lappi town and Rauma.
the-farm-from-afar
Our farm as seen from where you turn off the big road and into the village.

the-road-home

vibrant-aspen-in-rohdainen

fields-and-forest-in-rohdainen

fields-in-rohdainen

road-close-to-home

I took these photos a couple of weeks ago and meant to post them to show you what our little village looks like. Since then, most of the leaves have fallen to the ground. Some trees hang on to them stubbornly, still, but those birches in the last photos are now completely bare.

flooded-field-in-sunlight

We have also had so much rain coming down that the creek next to the fields below the house has flooded. After clearing the meadow I showed you some photos from in a previous post, some of the hay and weed piles remained in the meadow. With all that rain, those piles ended up partially in water and it was so much work to go down there the other day to get it onto a trailer. I walked through water halfway up my boots to the river bank to move it closer to the tractor. Old Fergu (the 1960’s Massey Ferguson) would have gotten stuck if we had taken it into the flooded areas.

hay-on-a-trailer

Last week I took a few days break from Instagram to focus solely on painting our bedroom-to-be. I don’t know what is up with me this autumn — usually I am so full of energy and inspiration that I don’t even have to try. Instead I feel like I am moments away from losing my mind. So I put everything else on hold to be able to paint one room. As I write it, it looks so silly but the only way I get things done right now is to grab onto whatever motivation hits me as it comes. Not a moment later, or I lose it. So that is one of the main reasons I haven’t updated. I didn’t even take any photos of the progress because my singular mantra was paint paint paint. Get it done.

a-forest-road

Of course, now it has come to a stand-still again. I was missing some things to fix the wooden panelling around the closets, and then I waited to go into town. Even knowing I would lose my momentum. I can’t put into words how frustrated I am with myself right now, haha. If I don’t laugh at it the frustration would turn into annoyance and I would end up in tears — which can help. Do you ever find that after having cried, all that which was bundled up inside you disappeared with the tears?

a-forest-bird
This bird ran around in the forest next to one of our fields, burrowing down into sand and dirt, only to run along again and disappear. I have no idea what bird it is — do you?

So much is coloured by the strange grip melancholy has on me lately, but sometimes it is like that, isn’t it? In spite of our best efforts, in spite of maybe having had a really productive and energetic period, these lows arrive when nothing works. Not even photography. Either I haven’t felt like it, or I have forced myself outside only to come home and be overwhelmed by disappointment. More so than usual. Which I know is because of my mood.

rowan-berries

But I love taking photos after rain. All that dew covering the world outside wraps nature in a mystical mantle and I feel like I enter another realm. The sun may peek from behind steely clouds, but the light is mellow. Sombre. Captivating. In tune with my soul, which I sometimes think is toned in blue. As the days grow shorter I sense a change within me, but it also brings the challenge of keeping balance. A challenge in which I seem to have lost the upper hand. Instead of becoming immersed in a world of ideas and projects, I have this autumn slipped right through a rabbit hole to find myself all but apathetic. With only sporadic yet sudden and unpredictable onslaughts of motivation.

So despite my adoration for sombreness, I didn’t like any of the photos I took in the past week and almost deleted them completely. At least I managed to shake myself enough to say you will get past this, be spontaneous but not rash, be impulsive but responsibly.

birch-leaves-whirling

Chaos. That is what I have felt a touch of in the past week. Thoughts flit from one thing to another — a million and one things can go through my head in one day yet by the time I go to bed I remember none of it. Only that I had so many things to do and not even a fraction got done.

aspen-trunks
Aspen trees are my absolutely favourite trees. I just love them so much.
aspen-leaves-and-branches
And the rustling sound of these leaves in the wind is unlike any other.

So last night I battled with myself whether to write or not. Even though I want to share my journey in all its colours and shades, I can’t help but ask where to drawn the line. Is there a limit?

wind-blown-web-threads

During those days, when I hardly looked at my feed on Instagram, didn’t sit down to edit photos nor did anything with my photography or my artistry, I wondered about trying to find a job to earn money. The thought made me ill. I have never and doubt I ever could be motivated by money. Even if that money would allow me to get new camera equipment so I could stop stressing about my current camera not being capable of certain things, or the fact that the best lens I use right now isn’t even my own. Not even that trumps the lump in my stomach I got at the thought of going into a workplace to do my nine-to-five. I have done it and every single time I end up having a mental breakdown.

I mentioned these thoughts out loud the other day to someone, and I instantly felt that familiar outsider sensation. Like there is something wrong with me. Why can’t I be like others and just go to work? I managed to squash it quickly, but in that brief moment I wished my words back and felt so incredibly small. Insignificant. Inadequate. Just a failure. In spite of the person passing no judgment and offering only encouragement.

rowan-berries-in-water-puddle

The thing is, if I do not have the freedom to change my position or my surroundings when I know I need to, I feel trapped and can’t function. I am that sensitive and I can’t seem to do anything about it. I spent years and so much effort trying to fit into the traditional work place and I still suffer from how deeply it disrupted my own sense of self. When I have to fight to be myself on a near daily basis — to me that is a strong enough reminder how capable we humans are to change. Even change that is not in tune with who we are. And it breaks my heart when I think and wonder about how many of us force ourselves into careers and jobs to secure a pension for when we get old enough to retire. That we would have go through half a lifetime (and more) and many times not even then be able to do the things we really want.

I am fortunate, though. Truly blessed. I have a partner who doesn’t mind me not going to work — and we can live on his income. It worries me all the same. That I am not doing my part, even if I know he doesn’t think like that. In spite of having reminded me time and again that it really is all right, these thoughts and the accompanying sense of inadequacy wells up inside me when I think of how I contribute nothing toward paying the bills. I can’t put money into my daughter’s fund. On top of it all, I have a loan from my studies in Sweden which I am supposed to begin paying back next year.

When I came back home before Christmas last year, my entire being was convinced I would figure it out within a year. That I would by the end of 2017 be in a position to at least start paying off my loan. Yet here I am, with a little over two months left of the year, and the reality is close to suffocating. In spite of all this, I also know I won’t give up. Isn’t it strange? I still believe it will work out in the midst of my doubts and the odds seemingly stacked against me. That belief is the one thing that keeps me above the surface, the one light that I aim at the shadows when they begin to drag me below. I can’t explain it, nor do I understand it. But I will hold on to it all the same and continue. I have given up too much in my life to do so again. And it has been at these exact times, when all has felt impossible, that I have dropped everything and run away.

Not again. Never again.

If chaos is what I am right now, then so be it. I have my family, I live on a beautiful farm, I can walk out the door and be embraced by nature. I have you. And even if I am disappointed in my camera, I can still capture the journey with it in the best way I know how.

I will leave you with the last two verses of a poem I read a couple of years ago. The Guy in the Glass by Dale Wimbrow. I hope your week has gone well and I wish you a lovely weekend ahead. Much love. ❤

You may be like Jack Horner and “chisel” a plum,
And think you’re a wonderful guy,
But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum
If you can’t look him straight in the eye.

You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartaches and tears
If you’ve cheated the guy in the glass.

 

To Be In The Moment

Hello darling friends and readers! Sunday is here and I’m wondering where the weekend went. I said to myself on Friday that I would spend my weekend outside, preferably taking some nature walks with Loke, maybe even visit Sammallahdenmäki again. I imagine it’s so beautiful right now — all that moss and lichen crawling over the ancient burial grounds beneath a vibrant canopy. Lilli wanted to go into Lappi to play with her friends, so I thought it was a brilliant plan.

And then the rain came.

sunlit-rain

On Friday afternoon, Jay sent me a message from the fields to alert me to big droplets falling from sunlit skies. Even if his visions and opinions of what is a great photo don’t always match mine, it makes me really happy that he has taken such a big interest. At times it has seemed he doesn’t even notice, but he really does. He just isn’t the kind of person to verbalise or even show it very often. I tend to forget, but then it’s all the more precious when I remember. Do you know what I mean?

I sat in the doorway again to shoot. This zoom lens is amazing, but I have also noticed that I have gotten a little lazy with moving around. When I can get to my targets by a mere twist of my wrist my feet stay in one spot. No change of angle, no circling the scene — this hit me as I sat on those steps. But my camera isn’t waterproof, nor does the lens repel water droplets, so I wondered once again how other photographers manage to capture all these wonderful rainy moments. I gave the old umbrella in our foyer a skeptical glance. I already knew I am far from steady with my hands, so to balance an umbrella while keeping the camera still seemed so daunting, but I did give it a try.

What I thought I would do, then, this weekend, since I have been stuck inside, was to gather some of my rain photos and blog about it. And then I remembered I didn’t join the Weekly Photo Challenge last week. So I looked up the prompt, and when I saw pedestrian, I knew my time had come to finally share my photos from VanhaRauma. Conveniently — or meant to be? — I was in Rauma on Friday, too. I had my camera with me and got a few captures of Vanha Rauma dressed in autumn’s golden autumn tones.

park-bench-vanha-rauma

I love these little “coincidences”. Twists of fate. I release a wish and, suddenly, out of nowhere, there it is. Like the mushrooms I talked about with some friends on Thursday, how I seem to find mostly soggy or frayed specimens. For the longest time I wanted to find and capture a round little fly amanita (fly mushroom in Swedish) without much luck. And then I found one only a few steps from where I parked my car in town! The last place I would have expected to find one.

park-mushroom-vanha-rauma

I can’t even recall how many times in my life I seem to have stumbled into these moments. Let it go, let the pieces fall as they may. Give up the search and whatever I sought has been found. Even blog posts, now that I think about it. They hardly ever turn out according to plan, and most of the time when I make an outline in my head I can’t even begin. So I open up a draft and just write. That is when it all comes together. Maybe not always with the greatest coherence or a neat, red line.

architecture-vanha-rauma

Yesterday morning I was so tired I could hardly open my eyes, but I went straight to work on editing once the coffee was ready. As I sat there, I wrote in my journal if I start the day with housework, creativity suffers. If I start the day with creativity, housework suffers. This is something I have thought about a lot lately. The state of this place slowly falls into mess and disorganisation, and I think right, time to get on top of it again. Once I put my mind to it, I am efficient. But as the floors shine, the sofas are free of clothes, and the countertops in the kitchen sparkle, my camera and my computer stand untouched. There is no mud on my shoes to tell the story of long walks through the forest.

rowan-of-vanha-rauma

Anything that requires a plan, an outline, a well thought out step-by-step schedule swallows all those things needed for my artistry. Ideas and inspiration fade into the background. My entire creative process suffers. I have yet to find the balance, and I sometimes wonder if it is even possible. Just like with those moments when things just happen because I let them go, I know that when I try too hard, look too closely, I go blind. I lose my sense of touch. That feeling and emotion goes numb.

kuninkaankatu-vanha-rauma

Ever since this spring, when I visited Sammallahdenmäki (a UNESCO World Heritage site and Bronze Age burial ground on the outskirts of Lappi), I got the idea to take you on a walk through Vanha Rauma. Another World Heritage site. I thought I would do it during Rauman Pitsiviikko — an annual culture event. Pitsi translates to lace, and this event came about from the making of bobbin lace. It was once a big thing here, and I think it still might be. During Pitsiviikko there are people and markets everywhere, from all parts of Finland. I couldn’t think of a more perfect opportunity to capture the beating heart of Finnish history and culture mingling. I painted up a mental plan in my head of what types of photos I would take and got really excited about it. It seems as though I completed it so beautifully in my head that when Rauman Pitsiviikko rolled around, I had nothing left to draw from, and in the end I went without my camera.

isokirkkokatu-goto-restaurant-vanha-rauma

beauty-salon-vanha-rauma

On both occasions from where these photos are taken I had no plan, no goal. I did want to take some self-portraits and dressed for the occasion, but once I wandered among these buildings that thought vanished.

cafe-sali-vanha-rauma
My favourite café. The staff is so lovely and they have a very tasty selection of cakes, cookies and coffee breads.

symmetry-vanha-rauma

I may be a big lover of nature, but Old Rauma is very special. I have mixed emotions about Stockholm, but I love walking through Old Town and along the canals. Old buildings and architecture like this gives me a feeling of hovering in-between now and then. I imagine horses and carriages, market stalls, gentlemen in long coats and hats, ladies in their dresses and timeless hairdo’s. There is something about street musicians that always adds to this magic. Unfortunately none were seen on this day.

tullin-kaffe-vanha-rauma

cobble-stone-foliage-details-vanha-rauma

 

 

 

Sometimes I wish I could go on these adventures with all things required packed into the car. My camera gear, my laptop, and do my blog posts on moving foot, so to speak. It is when I am in the moment that the impressions of my experiences and senses have most vibrance. They are fresh in my mind and the emotion that goes with it alive.

walking-the-outskirts-vanha-rauma

vibrant-vines-vanha-rauman-kellari

autumn-glow-vanha-rauma

On these days I thought how cozy it would have been to at the end of my photo walk go to my favourite café. To sit there with a cup of coffee and my laptop to go through the photos, then write about it. Still surrounded by the sights and smells.

So, with all this said, I think the definition of pedestrian according to the dictionary is so strange. Boring, tedious, uninspired, uncreative, unimaginative, monotonous. Being a pedestrian is anything and everything but lifeless or uneventful. Being the pedestrian in the moment, no matter the scenery, is to me one of the best parts of any journey. Planning and speedy results are to me dull. But then I didn’t always see it that way. Once I wanted to get to my destination fast and without delay. And of course I still find my way back to drumming my fingertips and drawing deep sighs, checking my wrist watch and wanting time to speed up.

Luckily, these days I do have my camera. I can and even want to capture these moments. Prolong them. Enhance them. Immortalise them. And I think that it is all there in the light and shadows, the tones and stilled movement, even if I can’t always remember every aspect of what it was truly like.

Now, my dears, I would like to wish you a wonderful remainder of this Sunday, and a good week ahead. Much love. ❤

 

 

Autumn, Fire And Rainy Days

Good afternoon dear friends and readers. I hope your week started off well and that you are blessed with “better” weather than we have been lately. I have to say that I actually don’t mind this dusky light nor the rainy days. Somehow it enhances the colours on our vibrant forests and it all feels so mystical and cozy. I am not sure how much longer we will get to keep the leaves though. A couple of days ago the winds arrived — those strong, cold autumn gales which tell us colder days are on their way — and since it hasn’t only been raining water, but leaves, too. It’s such a powerful sight I just stop and stare.

windy-autumn-trees

I tried to capture those whirling leaf clouds but they didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped, and after scaling down five hundred photos to thirty, I still felt I had to take some out, so it didn’t make the final cut.

rain-drops-on-window

I have this immense struggle with being able to perceive how much time something takes. Not only that, I get stuck in each little element, so everything I do seems to take half an age to get done. Do you ever experience that?

I sat down yesterday morning to pick out photos from Monday and write about what we got up to that day, but then I looked out the window and just listened to the soothing melody of rain drumming against the sill. My mind whisked me away. I’ll get some photos of these rain droplets on the window. One thing lead to another, and I ended up on the door step where I sat for I don’t know how long to capture the rain.

rain-falling-over-mossy-roof

wet-autumn-maple-leaves

bare-autumn-bush-and-building

By the time I got back, my coffee was cold and I had to make some more. I don’t know how healthy my coffee consumption is, but editing photos requires a couple of cups. At least. Loke was sleeping on the floor but kept an eye on me, in case I might disappear outside again. He used to be a destroyer of worlds when left alone, but he seems to have calmed down. These days I rarely see him standing on the recliner to look out the window to see where we are.

sleepy-loke-dog

When I finally was able to sit down again, I only got halfway through the photos before we had to get ready for Rauma. Every Tuesday afternoon Lilli has art school, but we left earlier yesterday to have time to run some errands first.

While Lilli went on an excursion with her art class, Jay and I had coffee at his mother’s place. She is on her last year of work and retires this coming spring, so she has been saying she will come out here more often, and to help out in the garden or whatever we might need. I hold admiration for a great many people, for all kinds of things, but there is something about Jay’s parents and others from this generation — nothing seems to slow them down. They find and carry out a thousand tasks in such a way that to me appears seamless and effortless. I do know it isn’t always as easy as it seems, but I admire it all the same.

finnish-autumn-farm-buildings

finnish-autumn-farm

So. On Monday Jay and his father had to clear a meadow full of wild hay and weeds, then burn it. Jay asked me to come down and take photos for his “archives”. He got that “tough” camera for himself to document the work on the farm, but I understand wanting photos taken from afar, so that all of the action can be seen. I hadn’t ever really looked at the farm from this angle, especially not when the fields are bare. It really does look big from here, as a friend told me, and it was so nice to get this different perspective of our home.

loke-dog-in-autumn-field
Loke joined me.

men-on-tractor-in-field

men-on-tractor-in-forest-meadow

Jay found my camera before I could upload the photos. I asked him to come to watch them with me yesterday. These photos turned out great, honey, come have a look! He told me he had seen them already on the camera. Lots of artistic ones, he said with that little funny smile of his. He doesn’t get the point of leaves in focus and the digger and its purpose all blurred out in the background. Haha I explained then that I wanted photos for myself as well, for the blog. He thought I could just blur out the faces, but to me that ruins the feeling in the photo. I did however do that on the top photo for Jay’s father. I don’t know if you can tell — I tried to keep it as subtle as possible. And luckily half the face is hidden behind the exhaust. Haha

autumn-leaves-and-digger-out-of-focus
One of my “artistic” photos. Haha 😉

That “wagon” Jay sat on behind old Fergu (a Massey Ferguson from the 1960’s) is ancient, and meant to be pulled by a horse. It’s amazing and great how they still find use for these “outdated” tools and vehicles, and that they actually work.

So first they cleared the wildness with it — I think it just rakes and rips out the worst of the hay and weed, the tall and dry — then used the bright orange digger to gather it into piles for burning. For this kind of work, I am glad it has been so wet lately. With winds like we had on Monday, I worry it would have spread so easily. But they know what they are doing — I just get the pleasure of running around with my camera to document it all.

combine-harvester

While Jay’s father collected the hay and weeds into piles, Jay took the combine harvester to some smaller fields close to the river to finish some areas left from last week. It has grown unevenly, and some of it wasn’t fully ready. He called it cherry picking and showed me some photos of what was left. Apparently the combine has been having engine trouble, and conks out, so I don’t actually know if he did manage to get the rest on Monday.

autumn-brushy-forest-birch

autumn-rowan-branches-leaves-and-berries

I keep thinking I want to get out and take photos on these darker days. Mostly, I struggle to get out of my head to begin with, but I am also so frightened of the higher ISO (light sensitivity) numbers. This is also why I rarely take nor show photos from inside the house. Well, that and the unbelievable mess everywhere. Haha

When I was out on Monday (and yesterday) I had to use an ISO of either 400 or 800 to be able to keep the shutter speed at 1/500 second to freeze movement. And as far as I have understood it, to get greater depth of field, clarity and colour, I couldn’t use the smaller f-numbers. I used 7.1 and 8 now, for most photos. (On the zoom lens I am still borrowing, I normally use f4 – 5.6.)

After having looked through all these photos now I see that an ISO of 400 I can accept, if I must, but the photos in which I used ISO 800 turned out too grainy for my tastes. I can fix it somewhat in Lightoom, with luminance and colour correction, but it softens the entire image and I lose clarity and sharpness. I did however consider that maybe I just have to work around it by composing images that look good that way, if you know what I mean? To keep that in mind when I shoot, so that a soft, dreamy film suits the composition of the entire image. It’s not a problem if there is no wind and I can use slower shutter speed, but I do have to keep the tripod with me since I am very shaky with my hands.

autumn-aspen

In spite of the gloomy lighting and leaving the house without the tripod, I managed to wander off into the forest. All these colours had me so distracted, and the smells were divine. I ended up by the little river and lost track of time. When I got back, Jay had returned to take over managing the fires.

autumn-branches-over-water

autumn-reflections-in-water

Jay is never surprised when I disappear like that, and I really am so glad I can. In fact, had it not been for Jay asking me to come outside on Monday, I might not have made myself. This strange lethargy continues to hover over me, but when I do get outside it dissipates almost immediately. I don’t know if I can call it lethargy, because my mind is like a beehive. And I can’t relax, even if my butt seems glued to its spot at times. Either way, I can only keep trying to overcome it until I do. And rest. I am at my wits end with these short nights and my brain ding-dong-ing whenever I slip out of my sleep just the slightest. I get moments when I don’t feel like myself at all. Do you ever get that?

smoking-fields

When I got back… No, wait. Haha I went back inside after I took the photos of Jay and his father driving Fergu. My camera had something stuck on the lens and I had to clean it. Jay came inside to tell me when the fires were burning, and I went out a second time. That was when Jay left with the combine harvester and I disappeared into the woods.

I am sitting here laughing so much right now. If you only knew how many times in a day this sort of thing happens to me, or the amount of times I think I have done something when I haven’t. So, you know what? I am not going to re-write all this. I have already been writing on and off for a couple of hours now.

Are you certain you would want to visit a wellness center under my management? Haha

pitchfork-in-burning-hay

man-with-pitchfork-in-burning-hay

man-smoke-and-fire-in-field

At least there would be someone close at hand who could handle a fire. 😉

Well, this has been my week so far. How about you? Have you had or do you have anything special on the schedule this week?

Now I am going to call and make an appointment with my hairdresser. I would like to liven up my hair for some photos I am planning, and if all works out, I’ll be a little more redhead than brunette. I have coloured my hair a lot throughout my life, but completely blonde is something that I can’t seem to take care of, so I promised myself to not do that again. I have very fine strands of hair and I end up looking a little like those tiny trolls you can put at the end of pencils. Haha

autumn-birch-bark-closeup

yellow-rowan-leaves-closeup
End of photo bomb. ;-*

Many hugs and much love, darling friends and readers. ❤

A Serene Awakening In The Mist

Hello dearest friends.

As I mentioned yesterday, I had a date with Jay and the harvester. It’s not by any means one of those bigger models, but it weighs over five thousand kilos and is big enough for someone who thinks a tractor is big. When I sat up in the cabin of the harvester the tractor that usually seems so huge appeared to be oddly little next to it. This is the only harvester I have seen up close and personal, but can you believe it is operated by what looks like a gaming joystick? Push forward for driving forward, pull back for reverse, and the buttons control the tray and the big barrel that grabs the stalks and pull them toward the cutters. I can imagine it’s fun… once you learn.

Oh, it was very tricky and I didn’t get a hang of it this time. At one moment, when I had to reverse, Jay opened the door to step out on the landing to look and tell me when to stop and turn. I have just started to get a feel for the turning circle on a tractor, then this! Haha I was so awkward with my movements that the entire harvester jerked as I tried to maneuver it, and I can’t remember what I did but suddenly that big machine launched forward. If Jay hadn’t held on to the railings he would have flown right off! He took it all in good humour, but I felt so bad. No wonder he didn’t ask me to come back after I went to pick up our daughter from a birthday party. Haha

dewy-webbed-flowers

Earlier this week I had the greatest pleasure and fortune to witness one of the most beautiful and mystical misty mornings, and ever since I have been wanting to tell you about it.

When I left Sweden after finishing my studies, I have had this tendency to compare these surroundings to the majestic forests and mountains of my childhood regions. I have thought of Ångermanälven and its enchanting veils, the shifting tones dressing the mountains and valleys around it as we move toward winter with a sense of wistful longing. While mist isn’t uncommon here, and the forests are just as deep and mystical, I seem to have had it in my head that it isn’t the same. That somehow the spirit of these forests is a different one and we haven’t gotten fully acquainted yet. Does that make sense?

misty-veils-across-fields

Regardless, mornings like these carry a very special magic. When these flowing veils dance on feathered feet over the lands, they bring a quiet with them that seems to turn up the volume to an otherworldliness without definition. An atmosphere of something else entirely, something that at other times can’t be sensed. Have you ever felt it?

That night I was outside working with Jay and stood in the open doorway to peer into the grain container, I swore I could hear women singing. It sounded like they sang in Finnish, but a very unfamiliar kind. I explained to Jay why I went to stand in the corner where the mist couldn’t get into the building. I wasn’t so much frightened than just puzzled as to why I could hear it when the mist flowed past me and not when in that corner. He told me, jokingly, that perhaps it’s time I get my head checked.

dead-tree-in-hazy-morning

There have been times throughout my life when I have been more heart than head, more emotion and unheeded reaction than thoughtful action. Moments wherein I have been like a leaf in the wind (as my father so often called me), but words of caution, responsibility, right or wrong, echoed with every step I took. As a result I always felt a sense of choked delight. As though while I went my own way, my feet felt shackled and my heart torn. Shame. Shame for my dreams, for what I wanted and chased after in spite of those reprimanding voices in my head. I traveled wide and far in my little cage, with my wings constantly getting tangled up in the bars around me.

And for every lecture, for every time I received criticism or was prompted to think about what I was doing — what are you going to do with your life? — that door to my cage I kept rattling slammed into my face. Yet somehow I managed to keep on going. I adapted a way to be, since I didn’t even know how to free myself. I didn’t even know I could.

deer-in-misty-glowing-field

I have heard that people who lose a limb can still sense it there. Wiggle the toes of an amputated leg, feel an itch, even if it’s not there. That is how I perceive this cage I lived with it so long. Now that I am finally rid of it I still feel its remnants around me.

I have to fight just as hard to walk my own way as I did before, only the battle is wanting to, telling myself what I once didn’t have to, what I just knew, yet felt such deep shame for. Get your camera and go outside. Take out a piece of paper and draw. Go explore the forest. How can something that brings so much joy and soul-deep happiness be so exhausting to make myself do? Once I am there in the moment, I let go. I feel the wind on my face, the flow of life around me. But to get there I have to work my butt off on many days.

farm-shed-outline-in-mist

On this particular morning I didn’t even have to conjure the thought process. I looked out the window and knew that as soon as my daughter walked out the door to her taxi, I would join her with Loke by my side.

Moments like these give me strength and energy beyond imagination. On my worst days they confound me but give me hope. Underneath the weight of a heavy heart and bones lies a knowing the feeling will pass. I tell myself that one day I will have done more living than slumbering, and I will have regained my balance once more.

In the meantime, I want to stay awake and alert, even when it seems like all I can do is wait for that mystifying apathy to pass. I want to learn as much about myself and this stage as I can. And I hope with all my heart that one day what I go through can somehow help others through their dark hours. To know it won’t last forever.

vibrant-misty-autumn-colours

thick-mist-sunrise-treeline

To even think I was alone in this put me in isolation. Like I swam dark, deep waters with no sense of direction of the shore. Was there even a shore? Was this to be the rest of my life? Now that I know I am indeed not alone it has helped me to stay afloat when the night closes around me.

dew-drops-in-misty-sunrise

Sunrises, just before they happen, are to me so incredibly beautiful. That rimmed glow of the clouds, the clean golden shimmer kissing the tree tops. Ever so slowly that shimmer melts into a white glow, and when those first rays hit — I can’t describe it as anything other than life. A serene awakening of the cells in my skin.

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sombre-farm-building-in-misty-sunrise

When I sat down to work on this post I intended to publish it by lunch time. It is now past midnight and with the fewer hours sleep I have been getting this past week again, I feel it has gotten to such a point I lose track of time and the trails of my thoughts. So if I seem disjointed or if anything sounds odd, that is why. Haha But I want so badly to share this morning with you that I have returned to these slow-filling lines in spite of my brain constantly begging for a shut-down.

Also, there is something else I have been wanting to tell you about, something I am so excited about. A dream I have carried deep down for the longest time, and recently I grabbed onto it with both hands. But I do want to practice that one-step-at-a-time thing. For the sake of my scatter-brain, too, I know it is easier to focus on getting one thing done before starting another if I want to succeed. And still I want so much, so many things, at the same time and try to do them. I can’t imagine how this must sound, but I will just let it be so. Creativity and inspiration that has been sleeping for so long seems to have an erratic effect on me when it awakens.

farm-building-in-misty-glow

I want to wish you a wonderful week ahead. Good night, and see you soon!

Much love. ❤

The Meaning In The Journey

Good morning, dear friends and folk! When I got up this morning, Loke had left me a little present on the dining room floor. Sometimes, if I get up really early, he is still so tired that he doesn’t come to greet me, but if I myself hadn’t been so tired in spite of getting up later, I would have understood why there was no happy bubbas anywhere in sight to tell me good morning. He was very, very ashamed of his little accident.

For many days now I have meant to do a blog post, but as I sit here with my big cup of coffee and write, my mind is so hazy I can’t even remember all the things that have gotten in the way. And the photos, which I have wanted so badly to show you, didn’t get ready until last night. I can sit with photos for hours spread out over a few days, but I don’t think I so far have spent this much time on editing as I did with these. So today I thought I would be sharing a lot of photos. I had hundreds but managed to scale it down to about twenty. I am splitting them into two posts, though, since the words once again took me in another direction.

autumn-reflection-reed

I think I have mentioned that very often I like mellow colours and tones in my images. So it’s so rare that I touch vibrance and saturation on the colour bars in Lightroom. Other than to take it down, of course. Now that autumn is here, I realised this and subsequently how little I know of bringing out colour. Either I mess up the saturation so that it feels like everything is screaming at me, or if I want to make a specific colour pop, another suffers. Am I making any sense? And then I want to keep it true to the colour palette we see with our eyes, while still adding my feelings into it.

It’s difficult to look up tutorials; I basically just have to sit with the sliders until my heart does a little somersault and I know it’s right. No tutorial can tell me which settings are in tune with my emotions, nor any of these thousands of pre-sets for Lightroom I have noticed are around. Kind of like how no one can tell us what our purpose is — we have to figure that out for ourselves by searching within.

autumn-colours-on-branches

To have a purpose in life, as many have mentioned in books I have read over the years, is so important — if not the most important thing. Without it we seem to float through the motions as the days pass. I like to think of it as a compass by which to navigate. It gives us direction, and in any situation, if we have that, we will look at solutions that will keep us steady on our feet. When there is a fork in the road, it will give us a hint which one might be the right one to choose in order to stay true to our purpose. Our true self.

dew-frost-spruce-branches

All that said, I am not yet entirely certain of my purpose. Still I don’t think that is an uncommon thing, and especially not since I for so long have tried to dance to borrowed tunes and loaned ideals. I have wanted to appear to be on the right path, know what I want, do the right thing. Oh, those perceived expectations and notions. But I can honestly say that I am coming to be at peace with that it’s okay. We all do what we in any given moment think is right, don’t we? We go by what we know today and try to make the best of it. As we gain experience and ability to shift our perceptions, we move. I don’t know the right formula for it, but I do know all these paths — steps through failure and success — I have taken lead me to where I am today. Because I was meant to. Because I needed to.

To make mistakes, to realise a choice I made wasn’t the best but yet necessary is part of the journey I believe, and it is only recently I have been able to stop to release a breath and forgive myself for them. Some of them. Self-forgiveness is such a hard thing, don’t you think?

autumn-rowan-berries

Ever since I got up this morning I have been coughing and I still have this congested feeling in my chest. As I said, last night I finally finished editing all these photos, and first I thought I would have a date with Poldark — the newer British-American BBC series about a man in 18th century Cornwall who comes home from the war in America to find life quite changed. I love the music, the scenery, and the mood in it. But. Then I opened up a new draft and decided to eat my carrots with dip sauce and write instead. Just as I began, Jay came to tell me he needed my help outside. So I spent the remainder of my (very late) evening among rumbling machines and whooshing grain. The mist outside was so thick I could see the pillar so clearly when shining the flashlight out into the night. We both thought of what marvelous photos that could have produced, yet neither of us know how to photograph in complete darkness.

shimmering-web-branches

My job was to stand ready to run and shut hatches when the silo was full. Jay sat up close to the rafters and shouted down over the noise when it was time.

The grain dryer has been going day and night and we have used up so much fuel it’s insane. It has been so wet here, and before we transfer the grain to the silos the moisture has to go below a specific number. Jay showed me how to use the knifty meter and how to start the necessary machinery to get the grain moving in order to be able to take a sample.

It is like a maze out there, with all the stairs to the different levels and all the silos within the building, which has been expanded over the years to house more silos. I would bring my camera out there if it weren’t for all the dust. However, Jay just got a camera meant to withstand dirt and even water — he submerged it in a sink full of water and took a selfie! Haha. So I will see if I can borrow it and show you around.

autumn-forest-shimmer

As I walked around between one of the containers the grain goes through before entering another pipe system and to look up toward where Jay was, awaiting his signal, I had much room for thoughts. While I have to ask Jay to pace himself sometimes when I’m out working with him — he gets so excited about explaining and very often spices it up with storytelling — once it’s time for the actual work, I can be alone with my thoughts. I really love that about this part of farm work. Sure there is a lot of bureaucracy — rules and regulations to abide by — administrative work, and the general business side of it, but since I am actually not employed nor am I listed as a worker on this farm, there are aspects I never deal with. But I do want to learn and it is part of life on this farm. Jay’s mother did these things, too, even if she also had a job to go to.

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While I might not be sure yet of my purpose, I still have a feeling. It’s kind of like I can sense that compass, but with the daily challenges of my past and on the days I struggle extra hard, I sometimes think of it as fumbling through mist. I might catch glimpses of shapes and silhouettes, but then they move just out of reach to distinguish. They are there, though — I sense it. And that is what keeps me searching. Can you relate?

Before I go on to await my first practice session with driving the harvester, I would like to show you one more photo I forgot in my last post from my walk through the forest.

 

Since I have talked about it so much, I think you might remember my search for that forest lake? This isn’t that. But as I drove out of Lappi that day, after a few bends in the road I passed this little tarn. On my way back from the walk, I stopped here and took a few photos. Do you also remember how I said I felt I was meant to be met by failure to reach that lake on my first attempts? When I saw this little tarn, with only one little summer cottage to the left (outside the frame), I knew I had found my backup. If I can’t reach that lake in the forest, this will be the one. I was so amazed by how clear it was, which my editing doesn’t really show, haha. But how beautiful it is.

autumn-tarn-wonderland

There have been many times in the past I have been so focused on the search — the end destination — that I haven’t stopped to see what lies along the road. That day on my way home I first drove straight past the tarn, but then my foot eased off the excelerator. Something inside my chest tugged. I couldn’t leave it behind. I had to stop. So I reversed onto the shoulder and stepped out to truly take it in. Trees, bushes and tall grass stood in my way, but the shore was right there, I had but to step right through. So I did, and I sat down on the edge in the wet undergrowth. That was when I noticed the murky shadows of sea weed — so well defined in the clear water. A thrill of excitement and gutting fear went through me as I tried to imagine myself getting into that water. I honestly don’t know if I will be able to do it. But I am going to try, so long as I don’t let these colder days become my excuse not to.

It’s that feeling I have to cling to, those faint whispers of the child of creativity that so long ago stopped coming by to tap my shoulder, after too many times having been told not now. She is there, though. I sense her, and as someone said recently, as I shared briefly of these thoughts in a post on Instagram, you will dance again. I believe so. With all my heart. And this time, I will keep dancing until we both move as though I never stopped. As one.

Part of this journey are you, dear friends and readers. When I sit down to write and share my thoughts, hopes, and dreams, I feel I am connecting to that part of myself I have neglected. I may not update as regularly and often as I used to or as I like, but so very often during my day I think of things I want to tell you and show you. And when you share your own reflections, your own dreams and inner yearnings — that means so much to me. It strengthens my belief in that to give of ourselves, just as we are, is something to be treasured. It is treasured. So my deepest, heartfelt thanks for all your words. I read and cherish them and will answer as soon as I can.

I wish you all a wonderful weekend, and if all goes well, I’ll be able to finish the other post before next week starts.

Much love. ❤