An Easter Greeting

Good morning my dear readers. It’s Good Friday and the rest of the house is quiet apart from our freezer humming in the room next to me, and there is a subtle whoosh of water going through the radiators. I just settled in in front of my screen with a mocha coffee. For Christmas last year Jay and I got one of those one-cup coffee machines for ourselves, and ever since I have been almost addicted to using a shot of dark chocolate in my first cup of coffee every day. I have consciously been trying to reduce my caffeine intake, though, especially at night. Some days it works, some days not so well. I read that if you have trouble with your thyroid, caffeine is not good. A couple of regular sized cups a day is all right, but on average I drink way more than that so I thought I would try to cut down, at least until I know whether or not an underactive thyroid is what is causing my tiredness and anemia.

Before I write anything else I really want to say thank you all for the so, so lovely comments on my last post. I know I might be silly thinking this way, but somehow I always end up feeling that with having become so inactive on my blog, and taking forever to reply to comments, I somehow don’t deserve anyone’s attention. I have made friends over the years with whom I have lost contact because I am so terrible at keeping in touch. It’s hard to explain to someone I know why I get like that — it never has anything to do with that I don’t care for them or don’t value their friendship. After a while I feel so incredibly dumb for declining invites over and over, and somehow trying to explain why leaves me feeling like I fraud. I want to get better at this, though, because I do understand silence and avoidance only leaves the other person wondering and questioning if they are at fault. This happened just recently and it gave me a thorough shake and a kind of eye-opener. Any state of depression or exhaustion is a lonely place; I like to have my own space but this loneliness is so very different than choosing retreat when I just need to refuel. Instead of consciously craving to be alone I want closeness but can’t reach out. It’s like becoming trapped in my own misery. I drown in it. The shame takes over and makes that distance all the more difficult to cross. Can you recognise the feeling?

in-my-walking-clothes

To write down how I feel, and to try and paint a picture of what it’s like on the inside is somehow so much easier when I write a blog post. I really wonder why that is. Of course, the language is one factor — I may be able to speak Finnish well, and I have heard so many times how good I am at speaking the language, but it’s only in general conversation. I have no idea what words to use or how to converse about emotional topics in Finnish. Several years ago when I went to therapy, I got to speak with a therapist who knew Swedish. When that wasn’t an option I switched to English when I couldn’t express myself in Finnish. I have actually thought about this a lot lately, that maybe one side to how I am feeling is that I am a foreigner. I may have lived in Finland on and off for ten years now, but I can still feel totally alien. It is definitely my own fault — I have isolated myself out here on the farm and haven’t actively worked to seek a social life outside the family.

I could write so much more on this, but what I wanted (before I got carried away) was to show you that pot I painted, and to share some photos from the past week, and some from before that. The sun is getting warmer every day now and the snow is melting. I can’t tell you how absolutely divine it is to stand outside on the warmer days. Spring really is staking a claim on the earth now, and even though I have been outside so little this year, I still have many photos I haven’t shared with you yet. But first — the pot!

finished-result-of-painted-pot

close-up-of-painted-pot

I really am so happy with the results. I had many ideas on how to paint this pot, but after layering the colours I was so pleased with the texture I didn’t want to do anything else to it. It also reminded me of how much I really love working with my hands, and it has motivated me even further to fight this mind fog so I can do more. For example I have a big IKEA bag full of drift wood I brought with me to Finland last year (and even more in the garage, some up against a wall next to the office, and more in a cardboard box, haha) with which I had many plans and ideas. Some of you might remember the frame I made out of drift wood for a painting last year.

That the light (or lack thereof) can do so much to a person is something which fascinates me and leaves me in a sense of wonder. Some weeks back I sat and went through some photos. I had just come back inside from a walk around the old buildings here on the farm. It was just above zero but the snow dwindled silently and the wet flakes left me with a chill, so I didn’t linger too long. As I sat with these photos I noticed that instead of snow covering the evergreens, there were water droplets everywhere. A mixture of relief and giddiness surged through me and I almost started crying.

 

water-droplets-on-the-spruce-needles

retro-tones-and-dew

Since then we have had some really cold days, with temperatures of ten below zero or more, and others much warmer. One day we had six above. This time is almost holy to me. These fluctuations mark the end of winter and beginning of spring and it’s like every cell in my body comes alive to respond to it. At times it catches me off guard and I become so overwhelmed by the sensation tears fill my eyes. Do you experience similar things? Or is there something in particular that signifies end of winter or beginning of spring for you?

catkins

Another symbol of spring for me are the catkins. I noticed the first ones on a very cold day several weeks ago, and I was so surprised to see them there in a landscape still embedded in snow and wintry shimmer. That day was so magical, though, and I stayed outside longer than my hands could handle. The warmth of the sun on my face had me entranced. The song of birds created the most beautiful symphony mixed up with Loke’s and my own slow, crispy steps across glittering fields.

paw-prints-in-the-snow

me-soaking-up-the-sunlight

I am actually wearing my PJ pants in this photo above, haha. They have been the most comfy pants but I had to brave the shops and hunt down a new pair since the fabric has gotten so so thin. I suppose it doesn’t matter when only Jay, Lilli and Loke are around, but sometimes our kitchen or dining room becomes an office or conference area when there are meetings related to the farming business. I usually make myself scarce at those times, but I still imagine it looks odd for someone to walk around in PJ’s in the middle of the day. 😉 Especially extremely worn PJ’s. Haha

One evening when the sun stood low, I looked out toward the trees where our road leads off the farm. The most amazing light painted the tree trunks and branches in an almost fiery pink/red, and I rushed through the house to gather my camera and tripod. When I got outside, I switched direction and went for our lower fields instead, distracted by the colour in the sky. Ever since I have wanted to show you this ethereal sunset. By the time I was satisfied I had enough photos of it, the sun had dropped lower and the light was gone from the trees.

sunset-over-snowy-fields

Can you see the reflections on the snow? I was in complete awe as I stood there. It was cold but the sun still set rather quickly then, so I managed to get back inside before my fingers froze. It’s incredible how fast that changes now — how the sun’s descent slows down and graces us with these gorgeous colours for longer and longer with each day passing. I was here about a week before this photo was taken to capture the subtle grace of this late winter light. Then I found an icy wonderland behind our storage building and crept around with my tripod in the bushes to get some closeups until my hands were on fire with the cold.

icy-wonderland

icicle-magic-in-sunset

molten-ice

It was after these photos I was in so much pain I didn’t know what to do with myself. Regardless, I have to say they were worth it. With time it seems most pains subside, no matter how deeply they cut in the present, and it is in that transition I think it becomes easier to look beyond and see that even when we have been at our worst, when the nights were so dark, light was there. It kept us company. We were not alone — we never are truly alone.

icicles-on-the-roof-edge

Our house is waking up now, but before I leave I would like to wish you all a beautiful Easter, and show you a couple of photos of the flowers I bought. Getting those plants just made me want even more! 😀

lily-of-the-valley

daffodils

me-and-lily-of-the-valley
Lily of the Valley might be my absolute favourite flower

Once again, thank you all so much for the inspiration you truly give me. I am also so happy and grateful for the feedback you gave me after my request in my last post, and I have already taken some photos to share together with the story of my tattoo, so that might be up next! I would also like to take this opportunity to say that if you ever think of something you would like me to write about or to photograph don’t be shy to let me know. I will try to honour most requests. ❤

Much love, hugs and a happy Easter weekend!

my-tattoo
“Strength, Courage, Wisdom” ❤
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Tired Of Being Tired

Last year I had a really strange experience. I am not someone who can easily take a nap during the day; usually it takes me just as long to fall asleep as the time I then spend sleeping, no matter how exhausted I am. Either way I tried and eventually fell asleep on the sofa. When I woke, I heard Lilli giggling in the kitchen. Groggily I thought I must have really needed that sleep because I hadn’t noticed her coming home from school. I went to turn my head and realised I couldn’t. I could see the room but couldn’t move one fiber of my body. A vague memory hit me of someone who had once mentioned this odd state of being awake while being asleep — I can’t remember what it’s called. But the story was frightening and I panicked. I fought tooth and nail to move my legs and started screaming. The sound echoed in the back of my mind but seemed lodged in my throat, still I didn’t stop until, finally, my surroundings dimmed and I woke. For real.

That feeling of being stuck and unable to move or make a sound — hopelessly trying to reach past the silence, reach through the apparent barrier around me — is how I have felt these past few weeks. So it isn’t so strange the same happened when I started this post yesterday. I wrote — I wrote a lot. So many words yet it’s like they weren’t getting through, like they were not the actual words I wanted to write. They came out in disguise, in a shape I didn’t think them, in a way I didn’t intend them. And suddenly I had written several paragraphs about some topic not at all related to why I sat down to write in the first place.

What it all comes down to is that I am still tired. Beyond tired. Way past exhausted, even, to be honest with you. So completely hollowed out and unbalanced I found myself saying out loud: enough already! Do you ever get like that? Your entire life just seems so upside down and inside out that you could choke on it.

distant-contemplation

A few weeks back I had some blood tests done because I have had swelling in some of my fingers — they were red, hot to the touch, and one finger I couldn’t even curl fully. This sensitivity to the cold made it all worse and, sure, I have experienced this for a couple of years now, but never this bad. Just this weekend I came inside after not even half an hour in the cold and my hands ached so much I was in tears. I stood hulking by the sink as the warm water cascaded over my fingers and felt so damn miserable. I can take Loke for a longer walk, being in constant motion is what I suspect helps keep it at bay, but if I go outside with my camera to take photos I end up in excruciating pain and I hate it. So after one week of swelling, stiffness, pins and needles and something like liquid fire in my fingers, I sought out a doctor.

Among my bigger fears were SLE and rheumatoid arthritis. Mom has suffered these since (I think) her mid-twenties, and I myself was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis when I was fifteen. When I phoned about the results last week, though, they had come back negative, for which I am so, so grateful, because lupus and arthritis are hellish illnesses. However, we also did a screening of my blood levels as well, and it turns out I’m anemic. In spite of having taken iron on pretty much a daily basis since this time last year, when I sank into depression. Last week when I talked to the nurse I was told to call back on Monday, this week. She left a request with the doctor to write instructions for me, since I told her about that I have been taking iron. And other vitamins and minerals. All he had for me was: we will keep an eye on it. And the first time available to re-visit him is in mid-April.

Did I mention I am tired of being tired? I feel like screaming. I should probably leave the house first. I did that once a few years ago and it both did and didn’t help. Maybe because it wasn’t a very forceful nor impressive scream, but that anticlimactic sensation made me laugh. Sort of like the time when I in a fit of indignant rage decided I would try to throw a mug, because throwing things seemed to me be a thing some do when they get angry, and I had always wondered if it actually helped. I made a dramatic exit but came straight back inside to pick up the broken pieces and to apologise.

light-shining-through-the-window

loke-and-I-watching-eachother

All this said, last week on Friday I told myself, out loud, that it’s enough. To start off, I made a deal with myself to not touch my phone for the rest of the weekend, except for phonecalls and text messages. It worked really well, with a couple of minor slips, and on Saturday I spent a few hours in Rauma, both to look for new glasses and to get some plants! I have so often imagined how lovely it would be if I could have lots of plants, but I have felt cursed — they all die on me. Now I was ready to give it another try, and not only do they give a sense of peace and harmony, but some plants really do improve the air. If at any time that is needed it’s during winter and early spring. Both Lilli and I suffer a lot from dry skin this time of the year. And so I did some research to find plants best suited for someone who repeatedly exercises her knack for killing them. Not intentionally, of course.

beautiful-green-plants

kimbala-fikus

lovely-fern

zamiakalla-the-wardrobe-plant

On my way home from Rauma on Saturday I sat with a big smile on my face, constantly peering into the rearview mirror to see the back seat full of brown paper packages. I couldn’t wait to get back to the farm to introduce these beautiful plants to their new home. Loke was so excited and stared with such intensity when I unwrapped the plants. I wish I had remembered to take photos of it.

And then, on Sunday, Lilli and I had a day in Raisio — a little over an hour’s drive from here — to visit IKEA, among other places. Over the years I have always seen so many nice pots there, but can you believe the one time I go there specifically to get pots there were hardly any? At first I was so certain I would be able to dig up some old pots from the nooks and crannies here at home, but they were all wrong sizes, so off we went. At the end of the day I came home with four pots, and we really had a wonderful time.

new-pots

It’s not often I enjoy shopping or spending any great amount of time in places packed with people. IKEA is one of those places that can be so cozy and fun to browse, while at the same time sucking the life out of you. I only have good memories of it though, from when my parents took us there as kids. And when I lived in Australia, I would sometimes visit IKEA to alleviate my homesickness.

After a full day away from home, I was too tired to do anything else, so it wasn’t until yesterday I got stuck into re-planting. It took me a lot longer than planned because I wanted to take photos at the same time. Jay shook his head (all in good humor) when he came into the living room. I had news papers, pots and plants spread out over the floor, and my camera on the tripod blocking the passage, haha.

me-and-a-bag-of-mulch

filling-the-pot-with-mulch

planting-with-care

I honestly have no idea what I am doing, which I am sure you figured already when I mentioned I am an unintentional plant-killer. I have done some research and written down instructions on how to care for these plants (where to place them, how much water to give and how often, etc) but only time will tell if I get it right this time or not. So if any of you have tips or advice for me, I will more than gladly receive it. 😀

Now there are only two plants left without pots, but one of those will be planted this afternoon. I did have one pot that I bought for an ivy which died last November. It sat in its pot still until end of January. Somehow it looked beautiful anyway, and I didn’t have it in me to throw it out. I gave it to the wardrobe plant, as its called in Swedish. It basically means you can put it away and forget about it and it will still survive — sounds perfect for me, right? 😉 So the terracotta pot I bought from IKEA got a little special paint treatment. It didn’t occur to me until after I had painted it that maybe the paint isn’t good for the plant. The chalk paint I mixed is meant for furniture, and the shimmering paint is meant for wooden panelling, so I don’t even know how well it will last. But it’s so so pretty!

paint-and-brushes

pearly-shimmering-paint

me-mixing-paint

Painting really is so relaxing and the pot turned out pretty nice, if I do say so myself. I will snap a photo of it when the plant is in place.

Now I have a little request of sorts, and I would really like to hear what you think about this post and these photos. What did you like? What didn’t interest you so much? Or is there something you would have liked to see/read more of that I didn’t show/write? I figured that just because I can’t spend much time outside right now with my camera it doesn’t mean I can’t still take photos. I’ll just have to get a little more creative, I guess, and then take the opportunities those moments when it is warmer to take my camera outside.

Another big plus with all this is how good it felt to do something. Buying and planting a few plants and painting a pot might not seem like much, but finding enjoyment or even the energy to do something small after long months of slumber can mean the world. And for a while I got to feel a little more like myself and not the tired blob inhabiting my body lately.

Last but not least, thank you so much for leaving so wonderful comments on my last post. Every single time I receive a message in spite of my own shortcomings in replying on time (if at all), I get such a warm feeling. It really, really means so much to me and I truly feel I have your support regardless of what my life looks like or how often or seldom I update. Still I strongly believe it will get better. Many hugs to you my dearest readers. ❤

Change And Acceptance

Hello my dearest readers. After my last post it seems like all the little workers in my mind grabbed their coats and went on holiday. Or not even that – they walked out of the office without any notice of where they were going or when they would return. Maybe it sounds a little odd, I don’t know, but it didn’t even worry me and I followed in their footsteps out the door. If I were to sum up the past few weeks with one word I would describe it as being in limbo, and it shows all around me. Piles of clothes, mountains of dishes, dust and crumbs and Loke’s hairs everywhere. Multiply that with the mess I have previously complained about times a thousand.

I have had a few milder emotional outbursts when my lids have fluttered open to take in my surroundings, but it is like even my annoyance is in a state of limbo. All that frustration I can feel when I get nothing done goes pooff before even half its usual magnitude is reached. I still don’t know whether to call this true hibernation or depression, though. All that I feel — or don’t feel — and this lack of care for the state of this house or my daily doings could also be, if going by symptoms listed on the web, called depression. The thing is I think I consciously accepted I am depleted at the start of February, and it was after that I let go and disappeared. I keep asking myself does it really matter? Do I have to put a name on it?

chilling-with-loke

However, in the past week it has become clear that I was meant to do this. Shut down, turn off, retreat. I had too much in my mind, too many wants, wishes and ideas buzzing around together with needs and pressing necessities. A jitter so loud that I couldn’t make sense of anything at all. So after I last week made an important phone call that had been eating me up from the inside out since early January, I had a moment of clarity.

At the start of the year I received a letter to let me know it was time to begin the repayments of my student loan. I have waited for this letter ever since I finished my studies in December 2016. The way it works is that after completing your studies you get one year respite. I assume it is to give you time to find a job or to do further studies, in which case you continue on as a student and loan taker and don’t have to repay anything until you are completely finished. I knew already, deep down, I wasn’t going to university, but I think somewhere underneath it all I felt an immense obligation to make something happen that would generate an income within twelve months. That obligation was in conflict with my dreams and wishes — my heart’s desire — to build my very own business on my own terms, and I think I subconsciously stuffed the entire affair further and further away from my conscious mind.

our-snowy-maple-tree

So the first instalment was due on the 28th of February, and at the end of last week I finally picked up the phone. I don’t fully get this immense issue I have with speaking over the phone. Part of it, I think, might be that I can’t see the person I am talking to, and I hear voices better if I can see the facial movements of those I speak with. Like an anchor, to connect one to the other. Without that anchor some words become muffled and I seem to miss chunks of what people are actually saying. Simply put: I lose focus when speaking with people over the phone. And somewhere amongst it all I get nervous and start shaking, my pulse goes up and I sweat, too. It really is awful. Usually I sit with the phone so hardly pressed to my ear it’s all red by the time I am done, haha. It can help to close my eyes, to cut off any external impressions that might disrupt my attention. Or I can doodle on a piece of paper. Sometimes that helps, too, but it differs from time to time, mood to mood.

The kind lady on the phone was so very helpful, though, and she walked me through an application for extension over the web. She could watch live from her end as I filled in the details and clicked my way through. When it was done she told me that CSN’s (the name of the student loan company) handling of these applications are automatic, but she could with confidence assure me my loan will now be frozen for another year. The tears welled up in an instant and I cried. Oh, I am getting all emotional again now as I write about it, but the relief I felt in that moment crashed over me like the most divine ocean wave. I think I overwhelmed her with my profuse thank you, thank you so much I am so happy. But I really was. And after I hung up an email arrived to tell me my application had been approved and that my payments for this year have been reduced to zero. Ahhh, can you tell I am so so happy? 😀

loke-showing-his-love

So as I wrote further up, I had a moment of clarity. For the first time in weeks it was like I could see in colours again, and the world didn’t seem shrouded in a haze. I really believe I had to let go of absolutely everything and get back to basics. Imagine you have collected a pile of washing into your arms, you know the one that is so big it keeps falling apart, and you actually have to peer around the mountain you embrace to see where you are going. And suddenly you can’t remember if you have collected all the sock pairs. So instead of running around the house with that tangled ball, I had to drop and spread it out over the floor to see what I actually have to deal with. Now I may have a mess spanning wall-to-wall in our home and in my life, but at least I can walk around with a clear view of it all. This loan was one of those things hidden deep within that pile, and it had festered and spread into so many areas of my life… I can’t believe I just compared a loan to socks and used the word festering. Can’t stop laughing now. 😀

Another big change is that the days are getting longer, the sun warmer, and the birds are chirping. Yesterday I took another slow stroll with Loke down our road through the fields. At first I listened only to the creak of our foot and paw steps. Loke’s made this soft and crisp resonating sound, while my own were more like crunch-crunch, haha. But then I stopped and closed my eyes, turned my face to the sun and this amazing chirp and chatter of the birds soaked right through me. Usually Loke will start sniffing around the ground, but he remained completely still by my side and I think he, too, was listening to the wakening song of the birds.

loke-in-depth-of-evergreen

manta-the-rarely-seen-farm-cat

snow-covered-farm-buildings

frozen-magic-and-an-old-silo

winter-sunlight-on-our-timber

Right now I really hope that I am waking up for real, but at the same time I feel there is still time left to consider the lessons from the past few weeks. From the past months, really. It all began last autumn, and I can’t let go of this thought that there are stages in life, and stages within those stages. Each needs to be given its own time, and it won’t matter if I don’t accept it and keep going anyway — at some point those things I choose to work even harder to squeeze whatever I can out of (or ignore completely) will make their demands.

loke-questions-what-I-am-doing

on-a-walk-with-loke

snowy-juniper-in-sunglow

I especially think of the days I have looked out the window at the magical beauty of sunshine over glittering fields and gazed with longing at the tree line beyond. And how I barely used my camera — my amazing new camera Jay got me. Not even imagining myself there among snow-laden pines and spruces gave me the strength to get up. Still, somehow, I found ways to be at peace with it. This is where I am right now, and in all probability where I need to be. I told myself this so many times during these weeks. Told myself it will pass, just like every other time previously. What I believe and fervently hope is that giving myself an abundance of time will make all the difference; to not use up the steady-but-slow refuelling process by making myself feel guilty for all this non-productivity or inactivity. This will allow my being to truly rest. It seems like the closer to empty I have been, the harder my body and mind has worked to use the little energy in my reserves. Like an engine low on oil will eventually be wrecked, like a fuel tank sputtering when running on fumes.

magical-light-in-the-forest

And little by little I have felt that pull to get up and do things, grab my camera. A couple of days I walked around outside, if only for a short while, but I was grateful for those short little moments. I could tell myself it was enough and truly feel content. At the end of the day, a knowing I’m finding hard to explain rests within me. It may be a quiet and soft whisper, but it’s an encouragement all the same. Maybe it’s that trust that is returning — the relationship I think we need to build with the world around us, that there is meaning in events that at first make no sense to us, that frustrate us or even seem like a nuisance. The events out of our control. I think of it as sailing. I know nothing about sailing, but as far as I have understood it’s about positioning the sails to work with the winds. I imagine you have to feel those winds and know how to set the sails to be able to maneuver the boat in the direction you want to go. Those winds can’t be controlled or manufactured to suit my wants or wishes. But I can give in and work with them. To accept what I can’t do and be okay with what I can do. However little it may be. It’s enough. For now, it’s more than enough.

I’m sending you all my love, and a big, warm hug.

Learning About The Moments

Hello dear ones! I checked the weather map this morning after waking up to strong winds grabbing at the house. They warned of hard winds in this area and outside the snow is creating a thick veil of fog. Somehow there’s something very cozy about sitting inside when the wind howls and snow whirls through the trees outside the window. And I always feel so safe in these old, wooden houses.

On Sunday morning just gone, my mom, brother, Loke and I went on an adventure, and once again I meant to write about it earlier but I keep forgetting how these road trips zap all my strength and energy.

white-road-and-snow-laden-trees

If sitting still and crammed into a car for hours is strenuous for me, it is even more so for my mom who has arthritis. But she loves adventures, too, and when I asked if she wanted to come along on this trip she of course said yes. She had an SLR when we were younger and has filled many pages in our family albums with photos. Now she uses her phone and happily shoots from the seat in the car, so the photos with me in it are courtesy of my mom.

One of our first stops was at a frozen lake with the most beautiful view. I got out to climb a snow drift to get a better view, but when I wanted to get down on the other side it didn’t occur to me that the snow wouldn’t be as packed down there. Loke whined in the car when I gave out a shout as I went straight through at least one meter of snow.

me-photographing-on-a-snow-drift

I started laughing as I sat there in my hole in the snow. Mom called out and asked if I was all right, which I of course was. I got snow into my shoes and inside my coat, which I didn’t realise until I had sat in the car for a while and the seat and my pants were all wet. Haha But I got great photos!

white-lake-and-snowy-tree-dressed-mountains

frost-dressed-tree-trunk

snowy-rest-stop

You know, this area we drove through was one of the most beautiful on the entire trip. Ever since the road trip with my brother last summer I have wanted to go back toward the Norwegian border, toward the fell mountains to take photos. Now when the world here is covered in all this snow, I got an image in my head and decided to go chase it. All along the road Mom and I ooh-ed and aah-ed at the breathtaking sights. Driving a white road lined by tall spruces in their snowy coats, leaf trees bowing beneath the weight of the snow, is so incredibly magical. It’s like being embraced by winter itself. A sense of warmth and peace spreads through every limb in the body and I didn’t even stop to take photos. I wanted to continue along that road into eternity.

So often I have both read and heard that it’s not the destination that counts but the journey. It’s so true, too, I have found, but I also forget this so easily. When I get an idea and the inspiration to move, I sometimes become so focused on reaching my goal that I only give glances to what happens around me as I work toward it. In spite of knowing each step holds valuable experience in itself. So often along the drive I saw such beauty, but I only stopped a few times. I knew that we only had so many hours of daylight, and since we left two hours later than I initially planned, I would have had maybe one hour at our destination before sunset. A thick sheet of clouds also hung from the sky so the light was very mellow to begin with, which didn’t matter so much. I love the melancholy, too, that the landscape is wrapped in when the sun doesn’t shine.

me-photographing-at-rest-stop

Jämtland, the province in which my destination was, is so beautiful. It’s not all that different from Ångermanland, just more. The mountains a little higher, the valleys a little deeper, the lakes a little more to count. Or at least it feels like that. And then of course the fell mountains to glimpse on the horizon as you near Östersund. Åre is situated in Jämtland, which might be if not the most popular winter holiday destination, then very far up there. My brother and I drove past Åre on our way to Norway last summer, and it sure was spectacular to me, even without its winter outfit.

These last photos I’m sharing are from Ragundadalen, about halfway to our destination Gräftåvallen, which lies about 100 kilometers below Åre.

winter-evergreens

snow-powdered-cones-and-needles

frozen-river-landscape

rest-stop-ragundadalen

After having some coffee and sandwiches at this rest stop, we drove on until I had to pee so badly I feared I would wet my pants. Haha Then I wasted precious time driving around a small community called Brunflo trying to find a toilet. We were in stitches by the time we found a service station where they had four toilets. Brun is brown in Swedish, and I commented on that no wonder it’s called that; people have been driving on for hours and they come here bursting at the seams in search for a toilet and find none. I have a very childish sense of humor. 🙂

When we finally left Brunflo, the sun was disappearing behind the brief break in the clouds, and even though I knew by then we would be arriving after dark, I drove on. All the way up the mountain that looked nothing like what I had imagined. In all honesty I saw no fell mountains within our reach, only those towering on the horizon, far too far to reach on that day’s trip. At the top outside the small resort, I stopped the car and didn’t even get outside. My brother took Loke out to leave some poop on top of the mountain, and then he had a pee in a snow drift before we drove back down. Mom laughed at the fact we had driven 300 kilometers for this, which is funny. We also looked at renting a room for the night to maybe salvage the trip and take the next day to drive around, but my brother had to be at work at eight the next morning, which he said his boss would probably be okay with, but I drove us back home anyway.

snow-powdered-evergreen-branches

I have a tendency to think at times like these about purpose. That pretty much anything we do, things that happen have a meaning. Especially when I drove 600 kilometers there and back without barely getting out of the car. I didn’t take photos up on that mountain when I so easily could have, but I just didn’t feel like it. When I sat there I thought that this trip wasn’t meant to be about reaching a destination or a goal. I didn’t come here to find the visuals to fit the image in my head. This was about looking at how to be in the moment, how to savor the journey. The people I was with — spending time with family I don’t get to see very often. And believe me, we had the greatest time. We talked about everything imaginable and laughed so hard my face hurt. And before settling in for the drive home, we stopped at Brunflo again to get some dinner.

dinner-stop-at-sibylla-brunflo

After a couple of months of feeling like my passion and motivation for all things photography and going on adventures had slipped away, I am so incredibly thankful for this drive. I talked a little with my brother about these things when I picked him up on Saturday night, and he, too, has felt his own inspiration for drawing (which he is so amazing at) has abandoned him lately. Maybe this is just truly due to the seasons within us. The winter in our minds. We, too, fall into hibernation and need to do so. Our minds are capable of incredible things, we as humans have so much power and energy flowing through us, but can we expect it to be constant? Is it natural? Is it nature’s way?

I look at the river and the mountains outside my window and it lies in peaceful rest. The tall birches don’t attempt to sprout buds, no animal out there pretends it is anything other than winter. The water slows its course beneath the ice. Just the same our thoughts and actions need a little extra time to unfold.

I wish you a continued great week. Much love. ❤

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.

a-box-of-opportunities

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.

getting-my-consultant-pin

mary-kay-event

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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summer-cottages-in-archipelago

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.

light-garlands-on-cruise-ship

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.

close-up-of-jays-hand

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.

illuminated-frosty-tall-grass

frosted-foliage-clinging-to-a-log

sunlight-filtered-through-frosty-tree-tops

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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frosty-curled-bark

frost-covered-moss-wonderland

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.

frozen-fireweed-in-farm-house-foreground

morning-lit-moon-through-blurred-branches

backlit-frosty-berries

artful-frost-lines-in-wooden-logs

a-layer-of-frost

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. ❤

father-of-the-day
Jay is so handsome in his suit. ❤
entre-snack
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!

my-favourite-light-garland
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.

lotta-enjoying-coffee-steam
Haha, I didn’t even think to change. But I just love this night shirt. ❤

candles-by-the-window

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.

dawn-over-frosted-field

lotta-and-loke-in-field
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.

burning-tea-light-candles

lotta-on-recliner-having-coffee

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.

setting-the-table
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.

lotta-wiping-countertops

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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clean-living-room-window-views
Look how tidy it is! ❤

clean-living-room-entry-way-view

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.

snow-on-maple-leaf

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.

wood-chip-shaft-door
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.

wood-chips-refilled

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.

house-in-twilight

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

Lost And Found Within

Earlier this week I went for a drive into the forests around Lappi town again. My time was limited, and my body ached with weariness from the flu that finally had broken out. I knew it was coming since I had felt so incredibly exhausted without being able to really figure out why. In spite of that, I pulled on a dress and wrapped myself in a coat and my newly finished scarf before heading out.

When I started this post I meant only to show you some photos from that walk through the forest, but it turned into something entirely different. With all these words having poured out of me now, I feel I had a wish to tell you more deeply of what nature and sharing my experiences with you means to me. So instead of backtracking, I worked with it and if you make it till the end, I hope you will have gotten to know a little more about me. ❤

a-forest-road

I remember how I for such a long time worked so hard to somehow blend into the background noise, while at the same time looking on and wishing I had whatever it was that was needed to become part of the crowd. Kind of like one of my brothers. He has this way of talking and being that makes people smile and laugh. Even if I don’t always think his sense of humour is so tasteful. Haha But whenever I was faced with an opportunity to blend in with others, I felt so clumsy and out of tune. Do you know what I mean?

I also remember one time when this sense of being out of step with the entire world, which is no uncommon feeling at the age of seventeen, completely overwhelmed me. I was in the US at the time, visiting a friend. I can’t remember what triggered it, but I took my diary with me into their backyard. Behind the house I could see the forest spread out before me. It was late autumn, the ground was covered in tones of yellow and brown, and I continued down the slope and walked straight into that forest.

into-the-spruces

After some time, I found a little stream and sat down beside it. I opened up my diary and started writing. In the end, I had written a poem, one I have many times over the years tried to find but it seems to be forever lost. I do remember the last line, though. Like the rivers our lives flow by, too many to care about them all.

I don’t know why that particular line has stayed in my head for soon twenty years. Nor do I know exactly what I meant by that at the moment I wrote it. Looking at it now, from where I am today, I think past-me tried her best to justify and rationalise that loneliness she felt. That one person cannot possibly do or be everything all at once. But even when we do, we cannot expect, either, that everyone will notice. Especially not if we are in hiding.

light-through-pines

The forest has always been a place I have run to when my heart has been heavy, and for the longest time I thought of it as an escape. A space for peace and quiet. A moment away from the unfathomable loneliness of being in a room full of people yet feeling utterly and completely alone. Among trees and woodland critters I could forget. I didn’t have to see what I perceived as stark differences between me and others. And there I could escape from expectations and struggles. I would stay until my head was quiet and my heart light once more.

dead-but-alive-in-autumn

Lately, I have thought a lot about what that call into the wild truly was about. What I in my younger years didn’t see. A deeper meaning. The forest and nature wasn’t and isn’t a place where I wander into oblivion to shed burdens and responsibilities. It is a realm of clarity. A place to remember. Out here, I find the pieces of myself I might lose in day to day life. I reconnect and am reminded of what is important and what isn’t. The air, the smells, the sounds — it is like opening a window to let the dust of irrelevance and skewed perspectives whirl themselves away.

autumn-soul

The immediate relief and effects of mother nature’s remedies are so poignant I wonder why instead of being prescribed pills for my depressions and anxieties on almost every first visit to doctors they didn’t tell me fly, little bird, out into the forest and stay as long as you need. Maybe not in those words, haha. But have you ever thought of it? Not all pills affect the central nervous system, but most of them have substances that affect the neurotransmitters in our brains. The very same which are affected when (among many others) we receive a hug, engage in physical activities — or take a long hike through nature.

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Spring is almost like autumn when it comes to the smells, but unlike the richness of earth mixing into a concoction of berries and mushrooms in autumn, the melting snow and ice carries a tinge of winter’s freshness on its winds. There is also something very special about the heat that lingers within the ground in autumn, a kind of summer warmth that still rises up through moss and the ever-growing layer of fallen leaves. I have this habit when I am out there. I close my eyes and breathe in deeply, and then I just focus on my senses. Especially the feel of the air going down into my lungs, the taste in my mouth and what I with my sense of smell can pick up on. I imagine this is how the animals, who have much better developed senses than we do, know when the seasons are changing, and when to move and where to go. Like birds taking flight when winter is on our doorstep, long before we know of its approach.

lingonberries

I feel we need to be out here. As well as evolution makes sure we adapt, that deepest part of us remains something from the realm of wilderness. All things available these days are enhanced and improved for our convenience, yet it seems to overload our senses and numb them. These are just my personal wonderings, but I cannot help but think that it makes sense we suffer so much from mental unwellness when we are constantly getting high on impressions — physical and mental. And then we need more and more and more to sustain ourselves. Until we crash.

roadside-mushrooms

I had this idea about a year ago, that I would one day build a wellness center right here on our lands, and do guided health walks and hikes in nature, near and far. Down by the river, I wanted to build a big logging cabin with large windows and a veranda that faced the ever-wilder-growing lake there, and every morning a yoga class would be held in dawn’s embrace. And I am so incredibly lucky I have friends and family that don’t look at me like I have lost my marbles, you know? But I could really see it. And why not? I am not against medicine — it has and does a lot of good in this world. I do however believe that antidepressants are thrown around far more than is needed, when I with all my heart and soul and head believe a good dose of nature will do the trick just as well.

spruce-cone-shimmer

 

I still feel remnants of that sense of displacement sometimes when I am among others. Far less than when I was younger. I think that maybe with time, I have come to accept it as is and to fight against it less and less. Most importantly, I believe, I keep reminding myself it isn’t something that places me apart, that it isn’t a sign of me being faulty, but rather it is just what makes me me. Do you know what I mean? And the more I let it be, the less I try to cover it up, hide it away, which in turn strengthens my sense of self and confidence when being in the company of other people. In particular when with people who are very different from me. They like different things, or the same things but other aspects of it and perceive the world around us in ways I don’t. Subsequently, I relax and am able to take in and be truly engaged with their views. I want to understand.

 

autumn-sea-of-evergreen-needles

 

In the last few years, with all the ups and down, nearly becoming literally empty but so full of chaos, and to finally begin to piece it back together again, I come to understand something more and more. Trying or even wishing to be someone I am not in order to fit in has been the very foundation of my unhappiness. Through squeezing myself into frames and folds of these expectations I imagined invited inevitable failure and misery from the very first day I embarked on a new endeavour to “correct” myself and be all those things I wasn’t.

 

Maybe I will one day found a wellness center here, or maybe I won’t. Either way I have this immense wish to share what I experience and for others in similar situations to find their way back to their innermost selves, to regain their very own balance and know peace. Happiness.

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I used to think what do I know? I’m a mess and my life is a mess and I can’t even go to work without falling to pieces. What could someone who is so broken as I am offer those who at least manage these simple necessities in life? And I would also think that most likely I am only one among few who has these immense struggles to manage day to day tasks. I belong to the minority, I would tell myself. I did know others exist out there who face the same challenges and fall, but living among people who go to work even when they are sick, who keep clean, tidy homes and meals on the table, laundry baskets empty, beds made, get their kids to sports and events, manage to go out with their friends and still mow the lawn and rake leaves, plant flowers, do crosswords and read the morning paper…  I felt like one in a million. And not in a good way.

At night I would lie in bed as my thoughts screamed how do they all do it?! What is wrong with me?!! And the next morning I would get up and do all those things anyway. I would then go to work, be the best version of myself I could possibly be and smile and be as social as I could muster. Then I would come home and get that meal on the table, do that washing, and sit down by my desk at the end of the day to read through masses of texts in Finnish with a dictionary beside me so that I could get my education. I went through these motions, gave it all and then some for eighteen months straight until I felt a part of myself drift to the sidelines. I watched this woman forge ahead and wondered how she couldn’t tell she had nothing left. No energy, no passion, no joy and no feelings.

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Today, I think I needed to go through all that. I believe I had to truly hit that wall in the hardest most excruciating way possible to wake up. And I did. At first it seemed all of me came alive, and I got myself so lost. I stepped onto paths that lead me through things I am so unbelievably ashamed of but at the same time grateful for. And isn’t it funny how it is when we are as lost as can possibly be we finally find our way?

I used to be so frightened blind by speaking from the depths of my innermost self. And at times I find myself getting anxious about certain things I share, the words I write and leave here for anyone to see. At the same time, I feel such relief, and then I think and hope and wish that, maybe, those very words and experiences will reach and even inspire a thought with someone who needs them. Just as I have read and taken part in thoughts and experiences of others which have given me strength or hope in times when they have been needed the most.

On a wall in my favourite café in Rauma are these words: If your dreams do not frighten you, they aren’t big enough. I chased beyond horizons and boundaries to find that big dream to lift me to heights of happiness and bliss, and I believed the answers were in some faraway distance I had yet to reach. All along, it never occurred to me to look within. But now when I have begun, and it sure can be frightening, I only gain more strength and resolve for every time I do something in spite of the fear it triggers.

I wish you all a wonderful week ahead, and that you make time for yourselves to visit whichever is your place to re-connect and regain balance when it wobbles. Much love. ❤

Being Overwhelmed

Hey, everyone! I hope you are all having a good weekend so far. I got up just after six this morning. Earlier this week we started tearing down old wallpaper in what is to become our new bedroom, and before that it feels like I haven’t gotten out to photograph as much as I’d like to. So when I woke up this morning, I decided to grab my camera gear and step outside. I’m so happy I did. Starting the day outside–that crisp air, the silence, the rising autumn sun on my face and the smells of the forest and our fields–is like chicken soup for the soul.

When I started this post I had no intentions of writing as much as I did, but I feel a lot better after getting these things off my chest, and even if you don’t read it all or only look at the photos, I am so thankful for your visit. ❤

Soulfulness

Do you ever feel like there is so much you have to do, so many things you would like to do, but no matter how hard you try to plan it and structure it nothing seems to get done? And it doesn’t matter if I sit back and see I have, in fact, accomplished a lot. All those things that were so important (to me or to others around me) pile up and pile up. I go through so many stages. First, I sit down and write in my journal; I make a list of all the things in my head. Then I re-write it in priority order. Once that is done I estimate the time the tasks will take, re-organise the priorities if need be, then write up a to-do list with as realistic time frames as possible, because it’s such a great feeling to see all those tasks crossed off the list, right?

And then it works. For about a week, maybe two. Slowly, I skip a thing here or a thing there, thinking I have done so well, and one thing won’t hurt. Suddenly a month has passed, and I am an exhausted, moody mess again. So is the house. And then it goes out over my family, which makes me so sad and annoyed with myself.

DayOne

But here is our new bedroom. What will be our new bedroom. For years now we have slept in Jay’s childhood bedroom. It wasn’t a living area to begin with–it lies door to door with the attic, and didn’t even have stairs once upon a time. The ceiling is really low, too. I can reach it if I stretch upward, and I don’t even have to get on my tiptoes. That is saying something since I am not very tall. And it really looks like a kid’s room–it even has those glow-in-the-dark stars and planets on the ceiling. They are cute, but it was time for our own bedroom, you know? The entire house still needs de-cluttering and some love, but I do try my hardest to take it a day at a time. Either way, when I came back home from my studies December last year, we talked things over and I set up some plans and goals.

This house is nearly 200 square meters (not counting the basement floor, where the shower and sauna is) and the walls on the main floor are almost three meters tall. For someone who is 165 cm, that’s a challenge to work with. I remember the struggle when I put up wallpapers in our living room, so I decided to paint the bedroom. Jay helps when he can, but he has so much else to do that all these renovation projects are more or less up to me to plan and carry through. Jay’s father helped me with some of the wallpapers in the living room and I am so grateful.

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Jay came to help me when I was swearing my head off for not reaching. Tall men are so handy, right? 😉

I often think of the women who lived in this house before me, and even though the house used to be smaller before the addition in the 1940’s, I admire how they kept this place sparkling and tidy. Jay’s mother, for example, is a pro. She kept this house so beautiful always. All the furniture, all the ornaments, all the things gathering dust were spotless. I think Loke is the first dog that has ever lived in this house, by the way, and since he sheds so much hair I have to vacuum at least once a day or it ends up in our underwear. Or my camera! And then there’s all the windows… Worst thing I know! Haha I love this house, though, and all the freedom that comes with living out here on the countryside. So even if I am drowning in all the work, I wouldn’t ever trade it for an apartment. I’m like a captain of a ship–I’ll go down with it.

SneakyLilli

Still I go through these cycles of being on top of it all until I sink so deep I can hardly breathe. I know it’s wreaking havoc on my health–I’m turning thirty-seven in December and I am already getting gray hairs! Not that I mind them. I think it looks charming. But that’s not why they have started popping up, and my restless, light sleeping patterns during the nights get more and more persistent. I start yoga again next weekend, so that is something I know will help.

I don’t carry any illusions of that the house will shrink or that it will ever take less time to clean it all, but I do know that during the two years I studied in Sweden, only the basics were taken care of here. So regardless of all my planning and reminding myself to be realistic and do one thing at a time–I will get it all worked out in the end–right now, I feel like I am coming apart at the seams. I have been back home for eight months now and I was supposed to have gotten things back into order by now.

On top of that, I have to be ready to pitch in with farm work whenever I am needed. Thankfully, the most time-consuming jobs here at the farm take place a few weeks during spring and a few weeks in autumn. And I love doing that job, too. I love my entire life. So that makes me even more frustrated and perplexed when I get so down and moody. Do you know what I mean?

All this while grabbing every opportunity to build on my own personal dreams and goals of a career as a photographer and artist. I am constantly working for those extra special images for an online gallery. I have said to myself that I will have a web shop up by the end of this year–that is my goal. I am currently waiting for Printler‘s (a Swedish online shop for photographic art prints) international launch, which is supposed to happen this autumn. It feels like a good place to start. At first I thought of getting in contact with a printing firm myself, but then I thought of how I am basically no one yet, and to register as a private business right now seems odd. What do I tell them? Hey, I love taking photos and I want to sell them. Can I get a business registration number? Haha Or maybe that is how it goes? I honestly don’t know.

TheStruggleIsReal

All this said, I also know that breaks are needed. If I keep pushing through when I am running on empty, I will end up flat on the floor. It’s finding the balance that for me is the most difficult. Getting into a routine that works. When I feel good, when I have energy, I just go, go, go. Stopping for a break when I have flow is the toughest challenge out of them all. I don’t know if it’s a subconscious thing because some part of me knows how much harder I have to work when I hit those lows, so I squeeze the up-swings for all they are worth. How great wouldn’t it be to learn to hit the pause button at those times and get an overall good enough flow?

WanderingSoul

When I am out in nature, it all comes so effortlessly. I am in harmony with my surroundings and it’s like nature itself guides me on wordless levels. Communicates with a deeper part of me and I don’t think of when or how or where. When it’s time to move on, I move on. It becomes more basic, perhaps. More physical. Instinctual. The course of the sun, the guidance of the wind, the gentle whisper of trees and streams. Jay tells me sometimes to go outside, reminds me it will make me feel better. When I am inside too long it’s like I slowly become deaf to my own self. Does that make sense?

NatureFriends

I heard the strangest noise when I was sitting in the field this morning. It was a call of awareness, to let me know I wasn’t alone. I almost got scared but turned, and this deer came skipping across the ditch from the oat field next to the barley field where I was. We looked at each other, and as I slowly turned my camera, it kept coming closer. For what seemed like the longest time, it grazed along the edge, munched on the foliage there, while looking at me from time to time. I snapped a few photos, and it cocked its head when my camera clicked but didn’t seem to mind. A few shots later, it bounced across the field and disappeared into the forest.

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These quiet morning moments unravel all the knots and tension in both body and soul, and I always come home with a sense of revival. I hope to find it in me to remember this better, especially now when autumn truly is opening its doors to the year’s most vibrant season of burning sunsets and glowing canopies.

I wish you a wonderful evening and great weekend! Much love. ❤

Sauna Evening

Hello, everyone! I hope you are all off to a good start of the week. Friday last week, Lilli, Jay, Loke and I went to Panelia, which is about an half-hour drive from here. It’s where Jay’s mother grew up and where one of her brothers–who is also Jay’s godfather–lives with his wife. I have been there many times over the years and they are lovely people. Regardless, I still get funny when we go to meet with others. Nervous or anxious. And more often than not I have to battle with myself, remind myself that it will pass. Because it does get better. I get so irritated with myself for it, though. A few years ago I would end up staying home, so it has gotten much better, but the feeling–the knot of unease in my stomach–is awful. Do you ever feel like that?

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The tynnyrisauna. Barrel sauna.

I imagine that going to sauna is one of the signifying habits of Finns. Did you know they even have competitions to see who can stay the longest? I think I only went to sauna a handful of times before I moved here, and as far as I can remember, the saunas I visited in Sweden weren’t this hot. My favourite is the sauna at the summer cottage; it’s milder somehow. All that said, when in Finland, sooner or later you acclimatise. Haha

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We had the nicest evening in Panelia. The weather was beautiful, even though it got really cold once the sun set. Jay and his godfather went between the terrace and the barrel sauna for what seemed like hours. Lilli and I sat inside and talked to Jay’s godfather’s wife. She is from Sri Lanka and told me a lot about her family back home. She is the warmest, happiest person. I love just listening to people sharing their life stories–a good reminder for when I get anxious about leaving my home!

Once sauna was done, we grilled and talked in their warm kitchen.

Jay’s godfather is a photographer, and it was so nice to finally get to talk to him about photography. We looked at some of the photos I have taken, and I didn’t know what to do with myself when he gave me so many lovely words of praise. Face to face it becomes like rain on a sunny day, and all I could do was blink, smile, and nod. Haha

Jay’s godfather and I seem to share the same love for light, and he even gave me some ideas and shared a little “secret”. One I will have to try. In the end he offered me his zoom lens to borrow–a lens I have never tried! I was so excited about it and finally got to try it a little yesterday evening. I’ll show you a few of those photos in my next post.

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My beautiful Lilli. ❤

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Since I don’t really drink these days, I am the designated driver. On our way home, we had a police car behind us the entire way. Once upon a time I used to get so anxious I felt like peeing my pants in those situations, haha. And then, when we turned off onto the gravel road a couple of minutes from home, the police flashed their lights. Apparently I was driving too peacefully, which the kind policeman emphasised is a good thing. I got to blow for an alcohol test which obviously came out clear. 😉

Next time, I will try the barrel sauna, too. I couldn’t this time, due to delicate reasons, so I wandered around with my camera for a little while. Do you go to sauna where you live?

I wish you all a lovely day. Much love. ❤