Lost And Found Within

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

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

a-forest-road

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

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

into-the-spruces

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

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

light-through-pines

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

dead-but-alive-in-autumn

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

autumn-soul

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

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

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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

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

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

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

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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. ❤

The Seasons Within

Hi, everyone. Are you also looking outside and wondering what is happening with the weather? On this farm the weather is really important. We have temperature and precipitation measuring devices all over the place and apps in our phones. It’s a topic on the lips of my partner and his father every day. It is strange, though, how we go through all the seasons in one day, sometimes even within the span of a couple of hours. Or less! And to top it off, I have gone and caught the flu. My partner and daughter had it last week. But it’s good that we take turns, so there is at least one functional person keeping this house running!

I would like to share with you some thoughts I had last night, when I just couldn’t go to sleep, regardless of being dead-tired and feverish. I got out of bed and fetched my journal to empty my mind (and it worked! Yay!). But this morning I continued thinking about it. Growth. Ambition. Getting things done according to plan. But sometimes it just doesn’t work out, does it? No matter how hard we try, in spite of our best intentions and planning. I was frustrated that I couldn’t get my next instalment of My Love For The High Coast published. I had written in my Editorial Calendar that I will publish one piece from the series every week, and one week had passed since the last one. But my mind and body craved bed and sleep and the harder I fought the sicker I felt. So I wrote in my journal and came to the conclusion that even though I would like to think that I can be at peace with things and accept them as they come, as they are, I still continue pushing myself. Too hard. Way too hard.

I tend to come to a stand-still, which is something I am sure we all feel from time to time. Nothing happens. We’re not necessarily taking a step backwards, but we’re not going forward, either. Kind of like with the weather right now. It’s spring, but the world is yellowed and gray. We have sown the first seeds of the year but they won’t grow when temperatures drop below zero at night.

All these things spun around in my mind, and I then wrote this is also part of the process. This is also the journey. Maybe this is what matters right now? The seemingly insignificant. The stand-still.

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All that grows has stages of appearing still, not moving. At those times, deeper processes are at work, though. The mysteries and hidden wonders of life. And in these moments, perhaps we are to remain as we are? Take a breath. Not even reflect. Just be and watch.

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Because that which is not visible or even discernible needs energy, too. And if I keep digging, keep pushing, I disrupt the balance. The balance of nature, which I am a part of. The seasons within us and around us. I can’t affect the weather, but I can try to understand. And I thought about the chaotic fluctuations between warmth and cold, snow and rain. Maybe nature is finding its balance, stabilising itself. And maybe that is why I find this time of the year most taxing, usually suffering depression and anemia and having to take a ton of iron and other supplements to raise my blood levels. This year especially–I can’t remember having dropped this low. Not in this way. Just a month ago I had a scare; I felt nothing and the emptiness nearly took my breath away. I was pale as snow, washed out gray and ashen!

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So maybe we are all finding our balance right now, thawing out of winter. Spring will arrive, just as surely as that awful moment of nothingness passed. A warm breeze will sweep across our fields, the earth will soak up the sun, regain its energies. One day soon we will wake up to buds on the trees, and the world will burst with those first vibrant sprouts. Nature will shine. I will shine.

It’s all a process–it’s another season of life. And I’m a part of it.

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