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. ❤

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

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

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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.

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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.

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Those Little Things

Good afternoon my dear friends and readers!

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

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

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

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

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! ❤

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

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. ❤

Walking A Frosty Wonderland

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

frosty-leaves

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

electricity-box

diggers-in-the-fields

workers-in-the-fields

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

sun-glow-through-frosty-maple-leaf

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

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

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

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

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sunrise-over-farm-building-in-frost

frost-covered-logs

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

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

cello-in-messy-room

me-and-my-cello
Photo by Jay.

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

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

Staying True To Yourself

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

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

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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.

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

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

wind-blown-web-threads

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

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

rowan-berries-in-water-puddle

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

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

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

Not again. Never again.

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

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

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

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

 

To Be In The Moment

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

And then the rain came.

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

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

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

park-bench-vanha-rauma

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

park-mushroom-vanha-rauma

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

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

rowan-of-vanha-rauma

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

kuninkaankatu-vanha-rauma

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

isokirkkokatu-goto-restaurant-vanha-rauma

beauty-salon-vanha-rauma

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

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

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

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cobble-stone-foliage-details-vanha-rauma

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Autumn, Fire And Rainy Days

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

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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

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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.

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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. ❤

The Meaning In The Journey

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

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

autumn-reflection-reed

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

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

autumn-colours-on-branches

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

dew-frost-spruce-branches

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

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

autumn-rowan-berries

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

shimmering-web-branches

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

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

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

autumn-forest-shimmer

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

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

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

 

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

autumn-tarn-wonderland

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

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

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

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

Much love. ❤

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.

birch-trunk-autumn-colour-blur

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.

one-red-leaf

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.

autumn-thoughts

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. ❤

Layered Perspective

Hey everyone! It feels like I haven’t participated in the Weekly Photo Challenge for ages, when in reality I skipped only one. They took that break, too, and to be honest, I did check out the challenge before this and just couldn’t figure out what to do. Even in the midst of creativity exists moments of fogginess.

For this week’s challenge, as I put together the images for my initial idea, another one struck me, and instead of getting torn between which one to choose, I decided to do both. By comparison to my usual posts, it’ll be much less of a photo bomb either way. Haha

layered-age-of-tree-stump-above

While on a photo walk yesterday, I wandered through a clearing, and at first I didn’t take much notice of these stumps. I had the 55-250 mm lens mounted, as well, and was searching for mushrooms and a spot where to take some self-portraits. On my way back, I switched to my wide angle (10-18 mm) to capture the forests around me for my next blog post. It’s funny that it never occurred to me to take photos directly from above. But then, when I remembered this week’s photo challenge, instantly my eyes scanned the clearing to finally stop on these stumps.

I was very little when I heard that these ring formations you see when a tree has been cut tell the story of their age. I didn’t count them, but if I make a wild guess — around sixty, maybe? What do you think?

layered-age-of-tree-stump-angle

I find it so fascinating how trees, unlike us, grow their skin layer by layer, instead of shedding the dead cells as new forms. But then they need all those fibres to drink and nourish them so that they may grow into the tall and magnificent pines they once were.

layered-aged-wood-and-lichen

Just like with driftwood, the longer the wood lies exposed to the elements’ able and artful hands, the more defined the texture in these signs of age becomes. And another life form might even make a home on its surface.

Very often in post-processing I play around with layers. I either merge one or more photos with different Lightroom edits, then use various blending options; or I use filters and other fun things in Photoshop to get the result I want. Or both. How much or little I do depends on the quality of the photo — as in, how well I managed to get the settings right as I shot them, haha. A good quality photo with sharp focus where it was intended and not too overexposed or underexposed is so much more gratifying to work with. But I would still say I can fix an underexposed photo better than an overexposed one where all the colours have been washed out. I am actually developing a habit of purposely shooting certain photos underexposed, too.

While editing the next photo below, I wanted to enhance the texture seen through the droplets, and it took me a few tries, but I was so happy and excited about the result I felt it would be so perfect for today’s challenge. Not only because of how the natural layer and magnifying effects of the water, but also because of how many different layers, filters, and other tweaks I worked with to enhance that texture.

non-layered-original-exposure-leaf
Original, unedited. / ISO 400, 250 mm, f7.1, 1/200 sec.

layered-photoshopped-exposure-leaf

Isn’t autumn just so beautiful? To walk through nature right now is both incredibly peaceful and invograting at the same time.

Have a most wonderful Thursday, dear friends and folk, and I’ll be back as soon as I can with more photos from yesterday’s walk. Much love. ❤