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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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. ❤

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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?

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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.

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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? 😀

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Something Special

Hello my dear readers. I just sat down with a cup of coffee in front of the screen. On the other side of my window behind it a million tiny snowflakes whirl around the sway of our spruce hedge. I keep thinking about all the words I write and leave behind, erase, change, and suddenly don’t feel like using. It reminds me once again on how I at times have wondered if I should schedule my posts. My inspiration to write comes and goes, and now it has been… two weeks since my last update. So if I did write this way then I might keep all the things that fill my mind and these drafts, the photos I take that I want to share, and spread them out so you get more regular updates, even when my mind goes quiet and my motivation to shoot dwindles. What has me hesitating is that I write so very much from my feelings and impressions in the now, and it would feel like giving you Monday’s news paper with your Sunday morning coffee.

I’m hoping to throughout this coming year figure out just which way to blog is the best for me. Maybe this is a process all bloggers go through until they find their very own rhythm?

Now, however, I’m going to tell you about something very special, something I have been wanting to write about since before my trip to Sweden but was too overwhelmed to find words for.

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Photographs of my mom when she was little. I just love her outfits.

I took this photo very late one evening earlier this month, after having waited and waited for the new battery to my brand new camera to be fully charged. After many months of slowly letting go of the prospect I will get a new camera any time soon, Jay completely blew me away when he decided to sponsor me. And not in a small way, but he got me my dream camera. The Canon 5D Mark IV. I have had it for almost a month soon but as I write this my whole body wants me to shout out loud. The first couple of days I didn’t dare to take it outside. We had such miserable weather — slush, then ice, then snow, then rain and more ice — and I was so afraid I would slip and break the camera. Silly, I know, but there you have it.

Instead I took photos inside the house, which is something I have been so bad at before. Even if I tried and had almost let go of the fact my old camera didn’t handle higher ISO all that well, which is needed in dim lighting — especially on moving targets — somehow I lost the feeling for it. But now it’s fun again.

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Our spruce hedge, viewed from the living room window.
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Lilli tried to keep his attention by saying “candies!”

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My parents bought two cats not too long ago. This is Tobi (or Tobidoo, as they call him), and his sister, who mostly ran away whenever I got close, is named Potts. Or Pottis. They weren’t too sure of Loke when we first arrived, but after he sniffed and buffed their butts all was well. Haha I have many names for Loke, too. Bubbas or Pumpas the most commonly used ones. Do you also have a million different names for your furry babies?

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When he is told to stay put.

When I left for Sweden I wished so much I would have gotten an opportunity to capture the northern lights — now that I had this awesome camera to do it with. Even a star struck sky. However it feels like it snowed almost every single day I was there, which I of course only loved. I wanted to visit so many places during my stay in Sweden, too — places my grandparents grew up in. For many years now I have known both my mom’s biological parents are from Ångermanland, but what I didn’t know was that my dad’s mom is from around here, too. And through life’s mysterious ways, Mom and Dad ended up in Stockholm suburbs, where they met some forty years ago now.

Ramsele, where my dad’s mom was born, is maybe a two-hour drive from Ramvik at most but I have never seen it. Ljungaverk, where my mom’s biological mother is from lies a little south and inland. I mention biological since my mom was adopted. She has never met her biological mom, but we have been in contact with her biological dad since I was little. Sidensjö, where he was born, is a smaller place close to the town of Örnsköldsvik, about an hour north from Ramvik. I don’t know but I wonder if this is why I feel such a deep connection to this region? As though the very spirit and soul of these lands have left an imprint on our genes which are carried down in the intricate yet massive data sheet of our DNA. More interesting still is how my biological grandfather has Finnish ancestors. I find these things so very fascinating and I hope I will make it to these places I mentioned next time I visit my parents.

One day when the snow just kept coming down, I took Loke for a walk toward the Ramvik bay. As kids, my brothers and I would come here quite often. There is a very small beach which over the years has gotten a little more sand (by the looks of things), and the cape has served as our destination for adventures. Ramvik isn’t a very big village but it has so many beautiful houses. I had to check up what the laws said on photographing peoples’ homes, and it is allowed so long as I am shooting from a public road. Luckily no one was out with their gardening gloves. 😉

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ramvik-bay-and-cape

To be honest, I spent most of the two weeks in Sweden in my parents’ house. I did meet up with my friend a couple of times for coffee and dinner. It was so cozy and I have missed her so much. We are terrible at keeping in touch, but when we do meet it’s like no time has passed. I feel so blessed to have found a friend like that.

As I already wrote about in my previous post, I went on a 600 kilometer day trip with my mom and brother. We didn’t do another one like that, but I did go for a drive with my parents on the other side of Ångermanälven. The afternoon sun was so incredibly beautiful and I wish I had photos to show you the breathtaking scene that unfolded over the broken ice on Ångermanälven. I stopped the car and got out to take photos only to realise I had left the memory card on the kitchen table. This is so typical of me, but I have now bought a second memory card which I will always keep in my camera bag.

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This photo was taken from underneath the High Coast Bridge. To get those photos I missed out on the day I left my memory card, I went back to the other side of the river. The clouds managed to amasse before Mom and I arrived, but I got out anyway. To stand underneath this bridge when cars and semi-trucks pass overhead is a little frightening, but I can’t help but feel humbled in the face of something so incredibly larger than myself.

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We drove up to the High Coast Hotel. I wanted to see if I could walk up the mountain to get some photos, but with all the snow it was too deep to walk in. Instead I climbed up a few meter tall pile of snow created by the ploughs and the view was just as spectacular from there.

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The High Coast Hotel

Growing up with winters far harsher than the ones we have these days I’m not a stranger to frozen fingers, but this past year even the slightest chill leaves my hands next to non-functional. Mom and Dad had a spare pair of those touch gloves, which I got to keep, but even with gloves on I have only to be out five minutes before the tips of my fingers start going numb. It doesn’t actually hurt while I’m still in the cold, but once I get inside and start warming up — the pain is excruciating. I think this is one reason behind why I have sat behind the windows in longing, watching the beauty of January from the safety of warmth. Mom said I could try a really fatty cream, which I have yet to put to the test.

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Earlier this week we got the warning of an incoming snow storm for today. The winds this morning were definitely a little stronger than usual, but the snow didn’t pick up until midday. Our internet also dropped out, which was due to carrier switch. And I had to take Lilli to the doctor since she has been home all week with a terrible cough. There is no inflammation or infection in her body, though, and the fever went down earlier in the week, so she is back on the sofa and resting.

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After two weeks away, I am so happy to be back home. There is much less snow here, but if this snow storm continues that might change. And I am more than content with all the photos I managed to get from the short walks I took with Loke a few times a day. Now we need to wait for his jacket to arrive with the post. I always forget something at my parents’ house after my visits. This summer I left my camera cleaning kit, and now I left Loke’s jacket. Out of all things. Luckily we only have a couple of degrees below zero.

I hope to get better at updating as this slumber begins to leave my body. Until then I will leave you with a couple more photos from one beautiful morning in Ramvik, and I wish you all a good weekend! Many hugs and much love. ❤

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The light on those trees and mountains ❤

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A Magical Drive Into The New Year

After I finished picking out the photos for this post and began counting them I started laughing. Why do I even do this? I already know I have too many, so knowing how many won’t matter.

But, hello, dear ones! I am taking myself out of my social media silence and I’m putting my blogging pants on again. My holiday is over and as I write I am still recovering from a two-day drive from our farm to my parents house in the mid-north of Sweden. Usually I take the ferry between Turku and Stockholm, but not this time. Instead I braved the icy roads of Lapland (the big Lappi up north). I left at nine in the morning on Tuesday and arrived at my parents’ house at eight on Wednesday night. The tyres may have stopped their vibrating but my bones were still buzzing. I don’t know if you have experienced this (or even have the possibility, if you live where winter tyres are not needed), but some winter tyres have these tiny little metal buds on them and they are very noisy on asphalt. Additionally (apparently) they make the car vibrate? I carried all my luggage into my parents house right away, because it was seventeen below zero, and then went to lie down on the kitchen floor. Flat on my back. Arms and legs stretched out as far as I could reach. All of me was shaking and somehow a flat and solid floor beneath me was what I wanted. It was the strangest feeling.

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The original plan was to leave at the end of last week, but one thing after another prevented it, so it wasn’t until Tuesday morning this week Loke and I stepped out into a crisp, hazy winter sunrise to take a few deep breaths before getting in the car. Loke took a wild dash around the farm as though he knew it would be a couple of weeks before we’re back home again. I have to say that in spite of being such a dork, Loke has immense patience. I can’t imagine anyone else being able to travel in a car with me for over twenty-four hours and not be driven to insanity by my oh-wow-look-at-that-I-have-to-stop-to-take-a-photo-oh-it’s-so-beautiful.

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Loke’s face, haha.

When I packed the car I put all our luggage into the backseat and filled up the baggage space with soft blankets and Loke’s bed. He got to travel like a king and only seemed disturbed once, at a point when my eyes seemingly stopped working and rolled around in my head until I started making loud noises while slapping my mouth. I had every intention to stop the car to have a power nap, but you know those P-pockets along the road where you can stop the car? They are nowhere to be found when you truly need them. So howling just had to do. (My dad rolls down the windows and sticks his head out if he gets tired. I was already half-icicle, though, so it wasn’t an option for me.)

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It’s quite amazing how quickly the snow cover changed and grew as I drove north. Only a couple of hours away and the blanket of snow was visibly thicker. The area we live in is called Satakunta, which I creatively will translate to the Rain Domain. In Finnish we say it either rains water or snow. There’s no actual verb for it’s snowing. I guess the Rain Domain is visited mostly by falling water. At least lately. But a little further north I began fighting the urge to stop and take photos. I knew that once I start, I can’t stop.

the-blue-road

I came across this sign that read The Blue Road. As I drove I thought about what it meant. For a while I wondered if it literally had to do with the colour of the road. In this light it really did look blue. A deep-ocean blue — you know that almost black-blue? Yesterday I consulted Google and read that its name comes from that it follows a water course all the way from Norway through Sweden and Finland, and then finally into Russia. I love to stumble across things like these. To at first, unbeknownst to facts, wonder in cluelessness of its meaning and then visit google to find out what it might actually be. I think in this day and age, with a world of knowledge at our fingertips, it’s too easy to look up answers without first getting to ask questions and ponder them in ignorance. So to me, in that moment, knowing the light here is very special this time of the year, I thought why not? Wouldn’t that have been so cool, though? A road being named by the light that hits it during the winter months.

This reminds me of something. Did you know that in Finnish, aurora borealis is called fox fire? Revontulet. I looked it up last year and found out that it comes from an old belief in the Fire Fox, a god of some kind streaking across the tundra and hitting its tail against the ground, which is what people believed ignited those fiery lights in the sky. I thought it was the most amazing tale. Honestly it touched me so deeply I spun off names in my head for a brand name for my photography. I’m letting it live its own life for now, though. I have found that these things usually come together by themselves, in their own time. One morning I will shoot up from bed and shout of course! And then I’ll know.

magical-sky-over-icy-road

beautiful-skies-and-snowy-fields

I stopped a lot in a short span of time before the sun set. The colours in the sky and the resultant light playing over the vast sheets of snow took my breath away.

fjärdens-kaffestuga

picnic-table-by-frozen-lake

Loke and I stopped by this coffee cottage (which was closing as I pulled in with the car) to have our dinner. I don’t think it was even four in the afternoon yet. I had sandwiches packed, and Loke got a bowl of dry kibbles mixed with some wet food. He eats the kibbles if he is ravenous, so to make it more attractive I mix in a little something to give it more taste. At least I imagine it tastes better. And Loke seems to enjoy it more that way.

snow-laden-trees-in-twilight

vibrant-winter-miracle-twlight-skies

When I stopped at the P-pocket to step out with my camera to photograph this sky, a big semi-truck pulled in behind me. I had to get back in to move my car forward, and then I sat a moment talking to myself out loud. I was so annoyed. Why did he have to show up right there, right now? I wanted to shoot this sky so badly, so in the end I got out and jumped into the snow to run around the truck. After that my toes didn’t unfreeze until I stepped into a scalding hot shower at the hotel in Oulu, hours later. I am so thankful Jay persisted to talk me into staying over the night somewhere and not sleeping in the car, which I said I could. Now I know I wouldn’t have, because it got really really cold. Oh, and when Loke and I arrived at the hotel room he had his very own bed waiting for him and a bag of goodies!

I wanted to sit down with my laptop that evening and write a blog post to tell you about my upcoming adventures, but after the hot shower my eyes just wouldn’t stay open. I fell asleep almost instantly as my head hit the pillow. I love that feeling. Especially after a long period of having trouble falling asleep no matter how exhausted I am.

The next morning, at six on Wednesday, I went downstairs to the breakfast buffet to eat a big breakfast. For a couple of years now soon I have been skipping breakfast — somehow I feel a big glass of water and coffee is enough. Breakfast makes me sluggish and my mind foggy, but since that buffet was included I thought I would at least give it a try. I may have overdone it, though. I ate two small deliciously crispy croissants, a little bit of yogurt with musli, and one piece of toast with salty, melted butter, marmalade, and cheese. It was so tasty and almost worth the nausea afterwards. Haha

wind-mill-turbines-in-frozen-sunrise

The drive from Oulu to Happaranda, the first little town on the Swedish side, takes about two hours — with my driving, at least. Since it was still dark when I set out I didn’t stop for more photos until I was in Sweden. This photo was taken just outside of Happaranda, and those wind mill turbines looked so mystical in the wintry haze.

I didn’t think to exchange money when I went through Happaranda. I actually got lost trying to find a clear spot to photograph the bay area in the misty sunrise. But the snow. I haven’t seen this much snow in what feels like forever. And the snow ploughs have created huge drifts and walls when ploughing the roads, so it was nearly impossible to get to a spot with a clear view. I gave up and turned the GPS on to navigate myself back onto the E4.

frozen-roads-and-snowy-forests

more-frozen-trees

The temperature meter in the car flipped out at the start of the trip, so all throughout the drive I think it showed me the temperature of the engine. As such I had no real idea of how cold it was outside. But looking at the trees in their frosted coats, I figured it was several degrees below zero.

Before lunch I decided that I needed to find a Forex to exchange money so I could have something to eat. And in case I would need to fill up the fuel tank again, even though our Volvo is very economical and has a massive tank. And I still haven’t re-fuelled it.

Google told me there was a Forex in Luleå, which is situated just a little off the E4, so I used the navigator to get me there. It was amazing to drive through the forests in this area. And the roads, though ploughed, were still white. I wish I had thought to take photos. Not only of the landscape here, but also of the city. People were out walking on the big frozen water and even cars were driving on it. They had ploughed pathways out on the lake! The thing is I got terribly lost. First my navigator took me in circles, so I had to stop in the end and walk. I went into a small food shop to ask directions, and it wasn’t until I stood at Forex that I realised I had no idea how to get back to the car! I walked the streets in search for the car on feeling alone and did find it, but in a brief moment of panic I feared Loke would freeze to death before I could find the car again.

frozen-snowy-trees

The funny thing is that by the time I got out of Luleå, I was so stressed my stomach had tied itself in knots. I could barely eat the mashed potatoes and grilled sausage I bought from the service station along the road. I ate a couple of mouthfuls, forced several more until half was gone, and then left the rest. I drove on in pain for an hour before it dissipated. I am not big on making New Year resolutions, but I have promised myself that I will truly work on being in the moment this year. Life is unpredictable. My moods are unpredictable, and they sway all over the map. Lists and hours of writing in my journal won’t change the seasons and weathers within me, nor how I really deal with them. I read through some posts from last year, took some time to re-read your comments, and I feel so blessed to have such wonderful readers. Your encouragement and your support has meant and means the world to me.

magical-light-through-wintry-birches

snow-and-more-snow

old-shack-covered-in-snow

I am also so thankful to Jay for suggesting I take a couple of weeks to myself. This Christmas was very different, yet so amazing. I got the bedroom done, finally, and then with Jay’s help we got some other cleaning projects done, but in the end he suggested we get a cover for the doorway into the anxiety room. So I bought curtains from IKEA which Dad helped me put up on the day before Christmas Eve. All of us — Mom, Dad, Jay and I did cooking for our Christmas dinner, and Jay’s mom brought some dishes, too. She made her amazing sour milk cheese. So good. Dad boggled at the amount of food laid out on the table, but when we all sat down to eat on Christmas Eve I was so happy it was finally done. I hadn’t run around like a decapitated chicken to get the house sparkling, there were still a lot of mess in some places, but we had the most wonderful time. I really shut the rest of the world out and focused on our own little unit. It was so needed.

frozen-silver-birches

more-frozen-lakes-and-forests

frozen-lake-and-snowy-forests

Now, for the next couple of weeks, I will focus on only me, my photography, and travel around this magical place of my childhood. Take your time, Jay told me. And I will. I will try my hardest to not feel guilty for indulging time away from my family to do something I love. To let go and just enjoy my own peace and quiet. To get in the car and drive to wherever, whenever. And if I don’t feel like moving an inch, then that is all right, too.

soft-winter-glow

snow-covered-spruce-in-sun-glow

low-winter-sun

I intended to write this post and share these photos yesterday, but one night of sleep didn’t help me recover from the drive, so I spent the day taking short walks with Loke up and down the road outside the house and editing all the photos from our road trip. We had twenty-one degrees below zero yesterday. The insides of my nostrils froze when I breathed, but I kind of love that feeling. It reminds me of days when my legs were shorter and my layers of clothing much thicker than now. Days I flew on skiis across the frozen river without a thought of the depths below. Careless and innocently unaware of how thick the ice is and how much weight can it really take before it breaks? It won’t give, but I still fear for it.

high-coast-bridge-in-snowy-haze

beloved-ångermanälven

I took the camera with me on our morning walk yesterday while the coffee was brewing. When I powered it up, it told me I had no memory card, so I went out again after Loke had done his business. And oh, this river. Beloved Ångermanälven. I can’t explain what it is about this place that moves my soul so deeply. Its quiet, melancholy beauty. I will spend many mornings here and just breathe in.

my-parents-house

red-panel-and-frosted-window

Today I will go into Härnösand to find myself some gloves I can use when I’m out there shooting. As of right now some fingers are still swollen from the icy love bites from these northern winds. Even in still weather the air here burrows into the skin like a thousand needles. In spite of it, I don’t feel cold. There’s something very different about walking through a couple of degrees on the plus side, sleet and black landscapes as opposed to this icy chill hovering over pastel-white mountains and valleys. I feel oddly yet pleasantly warm in its cool embrace. Only my hands suffer.

I hope you all had amazing holidays, that your New Year was peaceful, and I look forward to continuing to share this journey with you this year. Welcome, 2018! Much love and many, many snowy hugs to you all. ❤

 

 

 

 

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. 😉

soft-winter-light-over-fields

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

magical-light-over-our-house

more-soft-light-over-fields

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?

tomte-marschall-torch-holder

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. ❤

jay-coming-to-talk

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.

red-currants-in-sunset-depth-of-field

magical-sunset-and-depth-of-field

dead-plant-in-magical-light

colourful-lichen-and-branches

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.

jay-in-soft-light

soft-light-on-old-barn

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.

digger-on-the-road

muddy-trenches

pipe-for-wires

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.

trailer-full-of-muck

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.

logs-and-magical-light

winter-apple-in-soft-light

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.

maple-seed-pods-in-soft-winter-light

magical-bokeh-and-branches

magical-bokeh-and-spruce-branches

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.

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.

waiting-for-guests

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. ❤

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.

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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

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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.

 

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.

dancing-veils-of-mist

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. ❤