Tired Of Being Tired

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

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

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

distant-contemplation

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

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

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

light-shining-through-the-window

loke-and-I-watching-eachother

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

beautiful-green-plants

kimbala-fikus

lovely-fern

zamiakalla-the-wardrobe-plant

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

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

new-pots

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

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

me-and-a-bag-of-mulch

filling-the-pot-with-mulch

planting-with-care

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

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

paint-and-brushes

pearly-shimmering-paint

me-mixing-paint

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

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

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

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

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Change And Acceptance

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

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

chilling-with-loke

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

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

our-snowy-maple-tree

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

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

loke-showing-his-love

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

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

loke-in-depth-of-evergreen

manta-the-rarely-seen-farm-cat

snow-covered-farm-buildings

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winter-sunlight-on-our-timber

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

loke-questions-what-I-am-doing

on-a-walk-with-loke

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

magical-light-in-the-forest

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

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

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. ❤