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. ❤

When Words Hurt

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t overly sensitive to what others say. At times it has felt like that were even more true when others were the subject of criticism, but I later on realised that when I am on the receiving end, I bite down hard and try to pretend it doesn’t touch me. When in fact it cuts to the bone. I just take some time to react. Do you know what I mean? Like I don’t want to face it, or that I try to tell myself it doesn’t mean something is wrong with me — it is just this other person’s opinion of me or of what I do… or don’t do.

thoughtful-in-the-field

So many times in the past when I have found out an opinion about me that made me feel inadequate or that I wasn’t doing all that I should or not doing it well enough, I set it upon myself to do better. So much more than I had to. And it always resulted in abandoning my own dreams.

Some of us, it seems, are able to receive criticism and harsh words and they just roll off like water droplets on feathers. Whereas others, like myself, take them to heart and then try to do everything in our power to gain approval and praise. I should say, I used to.

holding-on-and-letting-go

After my breakdown back in 2014 — quitting my education, going down in hours at work, taking out sick-leave, only to resign and move to Sweden — I had had enough of being weak, being easily influenced, having no sense of self. I simply couldn’t handle even a regular day with regular moods. If I saw no smiles, if the tone of someone’s voice was anything other than light or even happy, I would break on the inside and take it as a personal failure. My entire purpose in life was to make sure everyone around me were content, and if they weren’t, it was my fault. I had to do better. I had to do more.

After years living like a bright flame on a candle, I burned down until there was nothing left to draw from.

But then I started working on it. I wanted to be strong and independent. To live a stable life in which words and criticism, others’ moods or bad days that are such a natural part of life wouldn’t unhinge me.

During this time, I came to understand I had, in fact, been strong. Incredibly much so. So much more stronger than I had to be. Over the years I had built up thick steel walls around myself and tamped down hard on those parts of me that had received so much criticism, weren’t appreciated or were misunderstood. But it was hard work, because I have also been surrounded by empathetic and understanding people. This resulted in a lot of switching back and forth. Walking around like a human mood and emotion barometer to get a reading. How do I act around this person? It was exhausting. Sometimes — and especially in my mid-to-later twenties — I couldn’t tell how I needed to be which caused so much confusion and ambivalence. I would start asking. What can I do? What do you need? Just tell me what I need to do.

letting-it-go-now

That a lifetime of this would go away in a couple of years isn’t something I have had any illusions of. I have consciously told myself it will take time and that I must let it. To force a behaviour that doesn’t come spontaneously is what nearly broke me, and the same goes for getting myself to where I want to be. Where I feel I am meant to be. For myself. Within myself. From the core.

So when I heard today that someone thought I should get a real job, those old, well-used cogs from decades of habitual use began to turn. I’ll start looking for a job. I’ll do whatever it takes. I know I can and I will just have to make it work. Somehow I will. I felt the shut-down. It took over my entire body. Like cold, liquid iron crawling over me and through me to protect me from those feelings of inadequacy. But that mechanism failed somehow and I felt so awful. Like all my emotions and my entire past came flooding over me. Yet I was oddly composed. I told Jay when we got back from Rauma, I am going outside to catch this light before the sun sets completely.

sleeping-fields

Instead of breaking on the inside, and instead of raving and justifying myself as I have in the past, my mind took me to these harvested fields and I had clung to that until we got back to our farm. Let it out. Express it. Let it go.

I used to be full of ideas once, and I couldn’t seem to even stop myself from letting that out in various ways. Some time before my breakdown, I lost all of it. I loved to draw, to craft, to write, to sing, to grab on to any creative outlet and just go for it. Until one day I couldn’t. I was empty. A hollow shell. Even if I felt so full of chaos I might crack open. Those times were my own personal Dark Ages. Music didn’t even move or uplift me as it once had.

Slowly — so very slowly — over the last two years, I have felt it returning. At times it has been like a wild thing crossing paths with a human out in the wilderness. It is curious, it wants to find out, but it isn’t entirely certain of this human. Is it dangerous? Is it a threat? But ever so carefully, it might come closer. And when it does, I get to feel and be that flaming passion to create. I love that. With all my heart and soul. Nothing else I have experienced this far in life leaves me so connected, so open and free as when I get to follow the ribbon of creativity.

watching-the-sky

As I lied there in the field, in-between running back and forth to my camera to press the shutter for another set of timed images (I haven’t gotten a new remote shutter yet), I looked up at the clouds. They were the deepest blue, fringed by illuminated light from the sun. The earth beneath me was cold and the air like chilled wings fluttering across the surface of my skin. I felt oddly warm though. A sense of peace came over me, and I forgot about what I had heard, didn’t get up to press the shutter — I stayed there, unmoving, and just watched the movements of the darks and light above me. I knew then that what had upset me so much to begin with is irrelevant. Words of others are theirs. It won’t change me just as I wouldn’t ever go out of my way again to try and change their opinion. It is entirely and fully outside of myself. Just a passing thing of no substance.

It isn’t what others say that matters, it’s what we do, isn’t it? Words are words and so flighty. They may hurt, but all I can do is to continue this path I have chosen. I know it will be difficult for some to see what I see — especially since this kind of work I do isn’t the traditional nine-to-five and doesn’t produce numbers in a bank account yet. Once it bears fruit that can be seen and touched, it will be accepted, I know that, but I can’t chase those results nor do I want to. I would frighten that beautiful and wild thing out into the wilderness again.

But I also know that what I do is good enough, you know? I cannot shake the sense I am on the right path. It is just a matter of time and I have to and want to be in the now to take it in. I will achieve what I have set out to do, but only if I nurture the connection to that which allows me to create. Belief. Trust. In myself and what I do.

running-in-the-fields

It is now Monday, and another week of opportunities has begun. I wish and hope with all my heart that you, too, dear friends and fellow folk believe in yourselves. Trust in that inner voice, even if it is just a whisper. Even whispers gain strength when moving closer.

Have a wonderful week. Much love. ❤

When Failure Leads To Discovery

Have you experienced that moment of failure that instead of leading to defeat spurs you onwards to try even harder? You set a goal for yourself, and even if you are met by dead ends at every turn, something wells up from deep inside and makes you dig your heels in. Isn’t it strange how sometimes falling down will leave you with such a sense of hopelessness you can’t find it in you to get back up, yet somehow, at other times, it is like a fire ignites within the deepest cavities of your being and you think oh, heck no. I don’t accept this.

Yesterday evening, I decided to go back to those lonely forest roads to make another attempt at finding my way to the lake. This time I asked Lilli if she would like to come along. She told me you know what my answer isOF COURSE! Loke tagged along, as well.

forest-fern-moss
55-250 mm
vibrant-fern-close-up
55-250 mm

Gravel roads lead through this area, and we met a tractor with a big load of timber on our way there. I had already thought that maybe these forests are plantations. Although not all of them seem to be actively harvested. But it would also explain why it’s such a desolate place. Maybe the forest owners have wanted to keep it that way? These are just my own wonderings; in all honesty, I don’t know all that much about how these things work. Still I find it interesting that wilderness exists right in the middle of clusters of towns and villages. And it all surrounds this lake. It seems almost a little mysterious.

 

sunset-through-spruce-branch
55-250 mm

 

We followed one of those forest machine-made paths and turned off a little before that brushy area I stopped at the first time. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the ground was covered in blueberry bushes, and they were so full of berries. I had given up on picking blueberries this season, but wow. They weren’t those little pearl-sized berries, either. They were enormous. And, of course, Loke decided it was an excellent place to have a poop. Haha In the end we had to return to the path when that whole blueberry field sat on a plateu, and the trees below it were so densely clustered I decided to search for another passage.

If I had followed that path the first time, and not stopped to stare at the thick brush of tall grass and raspberry bushes, I would have noticed it continued. So yesterday evening we wandered along that until I saw what were probably trails trampled up by deer or elk. Lilli, Loke and I followed in their steps, which lead us deeper and deeper into ghostly alleés of old and near bare-branched pines.

naked-spruce-branches
55-250 mm
forest-floor-spruce-foot-ferns
55-250 mm

What leads me to believe that this area has not been visited by any machines for a long time are the sizes of these trees, the thick and wild undergrowth, and the irrigation systems covered in green sheets of algea and tiny-leafed floating plants. A miniature landscape of moss and lichen flourished on the banks of these ditches. I have never seen anything like it. It didn’t occur to me to take photos of it because we were met by these at every turn, not even a hundred meters from the lake’s shore, and I became so disappointed I swore. Lilli said loudly MOM! Quit swearing so much.

In a last, stubborn attempt — we didn’t have too much left of daylight — I began to drag felled but thin pine logs which I threw across one of these irrigation ditches to create a bridge. They weren’t sturdy enough, though, and then Lilli started crying when I forbade her to cross. You didn’t even let me TRY! I pulled one of those traditional I am the adult and if I say they aren’t safe it is because they aren’t. I tried already! And she was wearing rubber boots which is not a good combination with slippery old wood.

The funny thing is that on our way back, I managed to lead us a different way than we came, and we got boxed in by these irrigation systems. So we had to jump. The one we crossed wasn’t as deep, nor wide and trecherous as those close to the lake.

rusty-old-tractor-cabin
55-250 mm / Lilli: I wonder what happened to the tyres?

Before getting back on the path, we stopped in a clearing when we saw an ancient, rusty tractor cabin. I took the opportunity to take some more photos while Lilli had a drink. I noticed then that I had forgotten to bring my 10-18 mm, so when I wanted to get some landscape photos, I pulled out the 18-55 mm that came with the camera. I haven’t used it since I bought the wide angle, and while I really was reminded in post-processing why I got the wide angle, I also realised that my photography truly has gotten better. So it isn’t entirely the lense’s fault. 😉

walking-among-pines-and-moss
18-55 mm / I kind of liked that I am blurred in a somewhat sharp setting.
moss-lichen-lingonberry-pines
18-55 mm
blurry-loke-among-moss-and-branches
18-55 mm / Loke rarely is still for more than a couple of seconds, and with the waning light and longer shutter speeds, it was a true challenge to capture him.
loke-in-the-forest
18-55 mm / But I did manage one! Lilli stood in front of him, talking, haha. 🙂
lilli-and-loke-in-the-forest
18-55 mm / Loke is in heaven when he has this many sticks and branches to play with. ❤
sunset-clouds-over-forest
18-55 mm

After this last shot we began our trek back to the car. My disappointment over not reaching the lake had completely settled and I was just so happy for this time with my daughter. As I write, she is most likely having candies and chilling with her grandfather in Rauma. Jay and I will go to get her tomorrow afternoon.

The lake still remains a mystery, but as I mentioned in the beginning, I am more determined now to reach its shores. There is another road that leads past it on the other side — a little further away, though — and I am going to explore what possibilities exist there next time. I do however believe I was meant to come this way first. If I hadn’t, and a clearer path indeed lies on the other side, I wouldn’t have ever discovered these old tree plantations to which I will return to take more photos of. I found them so incredibly beautiful in their ghostliness. Like old souls carrying secrets and wisdom from a time long gone. A kind of sadness clung to them, too, and I felt it as we made our way out of those alleés. I know I won’t be able to forget them.

autumn-aspen-leaves
55-250 mm
autumn-leaf-close-up
55-250 mm

By the time we got back to the car it was nearly dark, and we were all so ready to go home. I always get so tired after having been in the forest. I tried to explain it to Lilli once, because it isn’t the kind of sleepiness that makes me want to find a bed. Just so thoroughly content and relaxed. All that air and the smells of earth, recin — a sweet yet prickling freshness — and even the damp moss has its own charm. Oh, and the mushrooms. I absolutely love the smell of mushrooms. But. Lilli just gave me an odd look, wondering how I can be tired and not tired simultaneously.

I hope to be able to invite you to the next chapter of this search for those elusive shores soon. As I write this, Jay is getting the sauna ready, so I will wish you all a wonderful Saturday evening. Much love. ❤

Searching A Path And Meeting The Mist

Yesterday I went in search of that lake I have been wanting to visit. The wish to go has been with me for many days now, but the battery on our 4WD has been acting up — well, the battery is fine, but for some reason it keeps de-charging, even if we have bought a new one — so it went into the car shop. And when I looked at the lake I saw that the only road-like formations that lead anywhere close to the lake look like paths made by forest machines. But yesterday evening, after not being able to shake the incredible urge to go, I packed my camera gear and took the Volvo. I thought I’ll just go by foot.

I was so surprised when I followed the navigator on my phone and turned onto a gravel road just outside of Lappi town. After a few houses the forest completely enveloped me and there was nothing out there except a few fields here and there.

ThroughTheVeil
I edited this quite heavily to try and emphasise the feeling I had out there.

Once the lake showed up in the Google Maps app, I pulled onto a slab of bedrock by the side of the road and walked straight out into the forest.

The ground beneath my feet was almost bog-like in places, and I called up Jay to let him know where I was and to come look for me if I didn’t call back in fifteen minutes. I love how he knows I will be fine, even when I don’t — it took me over twenty minutes before I called him again and he hadn’t expected anything else. It occurred to me today that every once in a while wolves have been spotted around these parts, so I will keep that in mind for my next visit.

Even if deep, dense and dark forests are intimidating, I was more concerned about the waning daylight and stepping through the moss. I remember when we were little and how my father warned us kids about bogs and where not to step–deep, black pockets of water that will swallow anything or anyone. I have since then always heeded his words when coming across anything that remotely resembles a bog.

Have you tried to use Google Maps when navigating on foot? I find it a little iffy, like it can’t figure out my direction. Which makes sense, since we move so slowly compared to when in a car. According to the map, though, the lake wasn’t even one kilometer from where I parked my car, so I figured I can’t get lost. And I didn’t. I felt strangely guided by my feet which steered decisively in one direction. I did stick to the clearer areas and avoided the thick, black forest which appeared to consume the little light that was left.

spider-web-dusk
With the light metering showing me heavy underexposure I was amazed at how well this turned out.

I spotted water through some trees shortly after I found one of those forest-machine made tracks I had seen on the satellite images. At the same time I realised I would not be able to make it there and back before dark fell, so I turned around. The area between me and the swathes of water I spied was brushy and my instincts told me I would not find a safe passage through there. I decided I will return during the day to find a better path.

mystical-oats-in-mist

For a while now I have had this wish to take a photo where I am in a tarn. The problem has been my wild fear of black water. Mostly because of the unsettling feeling of what might hide in the dark olden depths of these woodland ponds.

I have a distinct memory from my childhood. We were out camping one summer — we drove around in the southeastern parts of Sweden, in Småland — and we stopped in a small town. There was this lake there rich with reed, and a jetty leading out some ways. I ran along it with my brothers and jumped, feet first, straight as an arrow and shot downwards just as lithely.

And I sank. And sank. Deep down into something so cold and frightening. I can’t even put into words the horror that gripped me when I struggled to kick myself loose of that chilly denseness that gripped my feet and legs. That was the last time I jumped into water with my feet first. I have been swimming since then, but I prefer the ocean. I did go swimming many years ago in the lake where Jay’s father built the summer cottage. Jay and I swam far out, and suddenly something cold and bristly wrapped around my feet and I screamed. I have never swam so fast as I did when I flailed my way back to the jetty. Since then, on the very few occasions I went back in, I made Jay keep me in his arms. But it has still been a few years. Maybe it’s silly, and I have rationalised that it was merely seaweed, but that old memory from my childhood became renewed — magnified somehow. Together with the heightened senses I gain when I am in water, I just can’t seem to get past that fear. I do try to challenge it when I can, but in certain situations it goes so deep that I end up giving in to it.

misty-fields

As I drove back home, I came through this field in the middle of the forest to see the mist weaving its way through the tree line and out across the oats. I find fog to be incredibly beautiful, always have. There is something very enchanting about it in the last light. Magical. Like the illustrations from the books I read as a child.

dansande-älvor
I never believed mist to be anything other than airborne water particles. I dreamed and imagined, even wrote stories of how they appeared when gateways between our world and another opened up. Like the atmosphere of the two meeting and the veil being revealed. A young girl who followed a ribbon into the night and ended up in another realm. / Book in photo: “Tomtebobarnen” by Elsa Beskow

After I got out of the car, I stood and watched these fascinating veils, and it looked like they were carried across the grain by invisible beings. An urge to walk into it took over and I strode ahead with a little smile on my face, like the years and years peeled back and fell onto the trail behind me. Something about my walk through the forest just minutes before had turned up the volume to something deeper, something older. Out here, I gain back my sight, my ability to hear and sense what busy, modern life seems to numb me to. Maybe it is all the technology that is the “magic”–the spell. And this — naked earth, naked nature–is clarity. I don’t know, and that is all right, but I think and wonder about it sometimes. More so these days than ever before.

stand-alone-in-the-mist

Whether or not those flowing wisps of white are more than just a natural phenomenon, no matter what my beliefs are, I marvel at the artfulness in it too. The mystical forms that take all kinds of shapes through the haze. I lost my remote shutter for my camera this Tuesday. I forgot I put it on the roof of the car when I got my tripod out for my forest walk, it just slipped my mind, and as I got onto the 80 km/h road on our way out of Rauma later, I heard a scratching noise of something sliding across the roof. In the rearview mirror I saw something black twirl through the air and shatter as it hit the asphalt behind us. Such a typical thing for me to do. And then I had recently, with a bit of luck, found my glasses which I dropped in the forest while taking photos, and didn’t realise until I was halfway back to the car. Can you imagine trying to find black glasses among moss, lingon-and-blueberry shrubbery? Lucky.

With longer exposure times pushing the button on the camera, even with it sitting on a tripod, can create camera shake and blur. I also believe I should have upped the ISO (light sensitivity — I kept it at 100). Either way I really wanted to show you these photos, especially the next one. I found it so eerie yet beautiful somehow. Those shapes in the mist, which are only flowers sticking up in the background or foreground, look like ghosts. Shadows from another time and place. And the flower itself that got blurred still speaks of peaceful solitude. Not very unlike my own feeling out there in the quietness. I wanted to take a self-portrait but couldn’t get the focus. Afterwards I thought it wouldn’t have mattered. If anything, I would have melted into the mist and appeared as just another ghostly spirit.

mystical-shapes-in-mist

I hope to return for another try to reach the lake soon, and during daylight. But the photo I want to take will require either morning or evening light, and I can’t wait too long if I am to get in the water. Soon the temperature will drop closer to zero, and I think it will be enough of a challenge to fight through my fear for those black depths, right? 🙂

Wishing you all a peaceful Wednesday. Much love. ❤

Rest’s Healing Powers

Hello everyone! I hope you are having a good week so far and that all is well with you. It wasn’t long ago I wrote about being overwhelmed and how it felt like I was getting nothing done. And I really have been so exhausted, but couldn’t seem to slow down all the same. So I really want to tell you about the amazing day I had yesterday and why.

autumn-leaf-colours

Isn’t it so strange how we carry around the solutions to our problems but sometimes it just seems like we are too scatter-brained to see it? Well, I am. Haha It was such a simple thing as going to bed earlier and getting eight hours of sleep. Can you imagine it? I’m willing to bet we have all been there, thinking in the back of our heads that I really need to go to bed earlier tonight. And then there we are, finding all kinds of things we have to get done before we feel we can turn in for the night with a clear conscience.

woman-autumn-garden

When I woke up yesterday morning my entire body felt lighter. The puffiness and darkness beneath my eyes had cleared a little, and I went through my morning routine of vacuuming on feathered steps. I even got my daughter up a little earlier so she had more time to get ready. All those things that prevent stress, I did without even thinking about it. So once I had my morning do’s out of the way, I took a shower and then stepped out into our garden with the camera. We have this beautiful line of shrubs next to the old main house (which is more like a museum now), and in autumn it is aflame with all those signifying season colours.

woman-autumn-portrait

Afterwards, Jay had a job for me. I had to drive the big trailer down to one of our fields so he could empty the harvester. It only took me two tries to reverse and turn the big beasts! I was so proud of myself and shared the process on Instagram Stories. So if you haven’t visited me there yet, some of them might still be up. I leave them there for the entire duration, which is twenty-four hours. If not, more will come as I get better and better at remembering to share my day.

rowan-woman-portrait
Aren’t these rowans just such a beautiful part of autumn? Do you have them where you live?
maple-woman-playful
I remember how much fun we used to have with these maple seed pods when we were kids. These were a little too raw still, but it stuck long enough to snap a photo. 😉

While editing photos, I started looking at the satellite captures on Google Maps to begin scouting for my photo project locations. Finland is the land of a thousand lakes and of course I ended up in the part with the least of them! We have lakes around here, but not those big ones, like out east. And Finns love their summer cottages by these lakes, so finding one that is unoccupied was tough. But I did find one not too far away, and as soon as I can, I will take our 4WD for a spin. No real roads lead close enough to the lake as far as I could tell from the map, so it will be an adventure. I will even take Loke with me, some coffee and spend as long out there as I can. I am so looking forward to it. If I can get connection out there, I will let you tag along through Instagram Stories. ❤

forest-road-spruce
I love this old spruce. It is incredibly tall.

Later in the afternoon, once Lilli and I got back from Rauma–she had her art school and I spent that time getting some groceries–I took the camera out again. This time I visited our little forest road to practice my self-portaits in combination with evening sun and backlight. I was quite disappointed with many of the self-portraits, but when I looked at them again this morning my self-critique had softened. It is a learning experience, and I still want to show you the process, which means sharing the whoopsies as well as the succesful photos.

forest-road-woman
I don’t know if it was the shutter speed, focus or unsuitable f-stop. And the disappointment was bigger since I thought to use the dead yet amazingly coloured juniper as natural filter (the flaming blur up in the right hand corner). Just have to keep trying. 😉
spruce-portrait-woman
Here you can see the juniper. And a lot of jitter on the parts of me in shadow. Which is basically everything, haha.
magical-forest-woman-portrait
I was very happy with and proud of this one. ❤

Last night would have been a perfect opportunity to practice that balance. To push pause, even if creativity and energy was way up there. But I got stuck on the road back to the house.

fireweed-dusk
Thanks to Polly Balitro and Jonna Jinton, I am growing an immense appreciation for fireweed. And last night at sundown, these wilting flowers looked like something from another world. Truly soulful. Like etheral spirits. I sat by the side of the road with my camera for what seemed like an age.
flower-blowball-dusk
Do any of you know the name of these?

I sat up till past midnight editing, and only got five hours of sleep, but I can’t say I regret it. In the past few days I have noticed the changes in nature, in the tones and colours. This absolutely magical light falls across the world at dusk and I cannot tear my eyes away. So I imagine my photos will change along with it, which is only natural, don’t you think? Change is all around us and within us. We can either fight it or embrace it. Looking at nature, I will walk into this change with arms wide open.

I wish you a beautiful day, friends and fine folk. Much love. ❤

wheat-field-dusk

Barley’s Beauty

I think most of us have seen a golden field of grain in the wind. Those magnificent waves rolling across hills in the setting sun. I don’t know about you, but it is among one of the most beautiful things I know. So much life. A soulful composition.

In my previous post I showed you some photos from my morning down by one of our barley fields. I can’t say exactly what it is about them that is so special. Maybe it’s those long whiskers covered in dew drops, the sun weaving through the trunks in the forest behind me, climbing above the tree tops. And then magic comes to life–a shimmer of gold and crystal light. Soft tones spoken among the sharp and jagged yet flowing structure.

I just love the artfulness in these fields. I hope you like it, too.

I wish you a lovely Sunday evening. Much love. ❤

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structure-barley-daisies

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structure-wheat
This is wheat, but I loved the contrast between the structure of it and the softness of the birch created by shallow depth of field. And that light. ❤

Being Overwhelmed

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

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

Soulfulness

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

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

DayOne

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

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

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

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

SneakyLilli

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

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

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

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

TheStruggleIsReal

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

WanderingSoul

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

NatureFriends

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

SerenityVibes

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

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

A Beginner’s Thoughts On Lenses

Good morning, everyone! I set my alarm for eight o’clock this morning since Lilli starts later on Wednesdays, but I woke up before seven and got out of bed. Once my eyes open my brain goes ding, and there is little point in staying since it takes me at least half an hour to go back to sleep. But, hey, I got the vacuuming done and put on a load of washing, and now I’m here with a cup of coffee.

In my previous post I mentioned I had been given a zoom lens to borrow from Jay’s godfather. I remember when I bought my Tamron macro lens back in 2015. I wanted a zoom lens but the prices on them. Wow. So I had a look around and stumbled over the Tamron lens. It has a static focal length of 90 mm, and wasn’t pricey at all–it was affordable for me on my student allowance, anyway. I figured it would give me a little of both worlds. And it’s great. Except for this purple-blue-ish aberration that shows up in strong light conditions–especially in backlight.

PurpleAberration
Taken with Tamron AF 90mm. See the purple? The image is a little over-exposed, too, but even with pulling down exposure and removing chromatic aberrations remains. So I have no idea what does it.

I get around this glitch by pulling down vibrance, which works well for me since I don’t like my images very saturated anyway. At least not that vibrant. And then I make up for the colour loss with filters and playing around with colour balance in Photoshop. I love the mellow tones, though, so it hasn’t been a problem so far.

Another thing I really like with my Tamron lens is that it doesn’t get lens flares all that easily. It does get them, they just aren’t that disturbing. Sometimes I think flares can add a nice touch to an image, but more often than not I don’t want them. My wide angle, however, I have come to wonder if it’s awfully sensitive to flares. I don’t know if that’s common with wide angles or if it’s just mine. I haven’t looked it up yet.

Speaking of flares. The zoom lens I got to borrow had quite soft flares. It’s a Canon EF-S 55-250 mm.

barley-sunflare
Taken with Canon EF-S 55-250mm. Just look at that shimmer of bugs! ❤

When I get outside with my camera I can take up to several hundred, but that evening I didn’t even get thirty shots before I went back inside. I had Loke with me to begin with, but since our neighbour across the fields has a female dog–and even though Loke is castrated now–he still is stuck in the habit of going deaf when he catches her scent. So I had to walk him back to the house and lost precious time. Only a corner of the barley field held that last golden light when I finally got down to it.

barley-depth-of-field
Canon EF-S 55-250mm.

What a lens, though. August light is much more gentle and warmer, and evening and dawn light is gentler, but even so I was struck by how soft the images were. These photos are lightly edited in Lightroom, and I added a warming filter in Photoshop. All in all a lot less editing than I usually do. I don’t know, but it feels like everything blends together much more smoothly. What do you think?

barley-foreground
Canon EF-S 55-250 mm.

Jay’s godfather doesn’t use this lens all that much, so I’m so incredibly grateful I get to borrow it. I still looked up Canon zoom lenses yesterday. I remembered only that they are expensive, but seeing the prices again–there is no way I would be able to afford my own any time soon. So I will make the most out of it.

glowing-treetops
Canon EF-S 55-250mm.

Confession time. I have been working myself up to actually getting started on these photo projects I have mentioned, but I still am nowhere close to it. I wanted to take my time to learn more, become accustomed and familiar with how my camera works and which settings are needed for what. I have also read about sharing projects, the details of them, and how it can jinx the getting-it-done part. I also seem to get stuck in the allocation of time management phase. Too much in my head, too many things I want to get done–that need to get done. Prioritising. So I end up running around like a chicken with its head cut off and instead feel like I get nothing done at all. Then I hit this oh for goodness sake DO something already. Do you recognise the feeling?

woman-on-road
Canon EF-S 55-250mm. Sidenote: I have been knitting like a maniac lately. Awesome stress relief. What do you think of my beanie and scarf? 😉

In my next post I’ll share some more on this and photos on a house project I set the goal to get done before autumn. Last weekend we had this end-of-summer celebration called Venetsialaiset. The Venetian Festival. It has been held as a tradition here in Finland for about a hundred years now, and it symbolises the end of the boat and summer cottage season. So in a way, we are now in autumn. And my house renovation goals kind of went partially to crap, haha. So as soon as I have posted this, I am getting stuck into it. Finally.

I hope you’re having a good day so far. Much love, and see you soon! ❤

Sauna Evening

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

barrel-sauna
The tynnyrisauna. Barrel sauna.

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

girl-back

woman-selfie

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

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

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

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

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My beautiful Lilli. ❤

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

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

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