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.

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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.

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kimbala-fikus

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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.

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filling-the-pot-with-mulch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Staying True To Yourself

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

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

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I took these photos a couple of weeks ago and meant to post them to show you what our little village looks like. Since then, most of the leaves have fallen to the ground. Some trees hang on to them stubbornly, still, but those birches in the last photos are now completely bare.

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We have also had so much rain coming down that the creek next to the fields below the house has flooded. After clearing the meadow I showed you some photos from in a previous post, some of the hay and weed piles remained in the meadow. With all that rain, those piles ended up partially in water and it was so much work to go down there the other day to get it onto a trailer. I walked through water halfway up my boots to the river bank to move it closer to the tractor. Old Fergu (the 1960’s Massey Ferguson) would have gotten stuck if we had taken it into the flooded areas.

hay-on-a-trailer

Last week I took a few days break from Instagram to focus solely on painting our bedroom-to-be. I don’t know what is up with me this autumn — usually I am so full of energy and inspiration that I don’t even have to try. Instead I feel like I am moments away from losing my mind. So I put everything else on hold to be able to paint one room. As I write it, it looks so silly but the only way I get things done right now is to grab onto whatever motivation hits me as it comes. Not a moment later, or I lose it. So that is one of the main reasons I haven’t updated. I didn’t even take any photos of the progress because my singular mantra was paint paint paint. Get it done.

a-forest-road

Of course, now it has come to a stand-still again. I was missing some things to fix the wooden panelling around the closets, and then I waited to go into town. Even knowing I would lose my momentum. I can’t put into words how frustrated I am with myself right now, haha. If I don’t laugh at it the frustration would turn into annoyance and I would end up in tears — which can help. Do you ever find that after having cried, all that which was bundled up inside you disappeared with the tears?

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This bird ran around in the forest next to one of our fields, burrowing down into sand and dirt, only to run along again and disappear. I have no idea what bird it is — do you?

So much is coloured by the strange grip melancholy has on me lately, but sometimes it is like that, isn’t it? In spite of our best efforts, in spite of maybe having had a really productive and energetic period, these lows arrive when nothing works. Not even photography. Either I haven’t felt like it, or I have forced myself outside only to come home and be overwhelmed by disappointment. More so than usual. Which I know is because of my mood.

rowan-berries

But I love taking photos after rain. All that dew covering the world outside wraps nature in a mystical mantle and I feel like I enter another realm. The sun may peek from behind steely clouds, but the light is mellow. Sombre. Captivating. In tune with my soul, which I sometimes think is toned in blue. As the days grow shorter I sense a change within me, but it also brings the challenge of keeping balance. A challenge in which I seem to have lost the upper hand. Instead of becoming immersed in a world of ideas and projects, I have this autumn slipped right through a rabbit hole to find myself all but apathetic. With only sporadic yet sudden and unpredictable onslaughts of motivation.

So despite my adoration for sombreness, I didn’t like any of the photos I took in the past week and almost deleted them completely. At least I managed to shake myself enough to say you will get past this, be spontaneous but not rash, be impulsive but responsibly.

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Chaos. That is what I have felt a touch of in the past week. Thoughts flit from one thing to another — a million and one things can go through my head in one day yet by the time I go to bed I remember none of it. Only that I had so many things to do and not even a fraction got done.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not again. Never again.

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

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

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

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

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 cafĂ© 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. ❀

Re-channel Focus And Gain Inspiration

In my last post I wrote about perception and about getting distance in order to gain insight and appreciation for what you do, in fact, have. In light of that and the odd sense of emptiness that can come after you feel you have accomplished something you set out to do, I am going to focus on my life today in this post.

After I published Shaped By Thousands Of Years I thought “Okay, which adventure do I go for next?” I browsed some photos, visited some blogs and sites, and didn’t really do much else that evening. Although I did get rather excited when someone tweeted my post on Twitter, then freaked out because, well, I wanted to thank the person and I get anxious when I get eager. But I won’t go into that now. The next morning after Loke’s morning round, I took a big cup of coffee and sat down in the home office to look at my Google Calendar (which was a suggested goal to set up that I snatched off Daily Post’s newbie blogger advice page).

As I sat there staring at my schedule I felt totally scatter-brained. Where do I even begin? What do I do? I had my instructions right in front of me, all the photos picked out for several posts, a journal full of material and inspiration from the past two years, but it didn’t matter. I was simply stuck. And thoroughly bummed out because I couldn’t find the cable for my DSLR to transfer some photos from last winter. I had to have what I didn’t have. Typical.

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But I got the winter tyres changed, so cheers!

Glancing at my journal now for that day, I see a lone word on one line shouting at me in All-Caps: FAIL. The lines that follow consist of me writing myself back to sanity, focus and reality. And before I went to bed that night, after admitting it’s all right that I didn’t get any work done on my blog, I wrote myself a goal for the following morning. I would get my butt out of bed one hour early, before the rest of the clan, and take Loke and my camera outside, get a bunch of photos, but also enjoy the moment for what it is.

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Despite a crisp couple of degrees above zero it was a gorgeous morning; we stayed in the early hour sunshine for almost an hour before I went back inside to make some coffee. (I do love my coffee, a little too much, perhaps.) Later that day I went into Rauma, a very charming town that I will have to show you at some point. Old Rauma specifically, which is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

While in town I got myself a replacement cable and later that evening I found the old one. I laughed. You think you have looked everywhere and then you haven’t. Either way I could finally get my photos transferred, plus the ones I took yesterday morning.

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Loke hears rustling in the grass. A field mouse?

And yesterday evening I went outside to take more photos, because I was so excited about my remote shutter that I have been wanting to get for ages.

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Getting outside and staying there with my best buddy and my camera got me some of that distance I needed to rechannel my focus and gain inspiration. So once again this morning I went outside, but a little further. Down to the river that runs at the edge of our fields to the (I think) west. I have been there before but that was almost three years ago, when I was juggling studies, thirty-hour work weeks, and taking care of a huge house while keeping myself together in-between therapy sessions to treat my social phobia, panic disorder, PTSD. Now I came in search of the tranquility I remember finding there, and found it. That and so much more.

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One hour and a few dozen photos later, Loke and I wandered through the forest and walked home. On our way up the back road I stopped to take some more photos but eventually made it home. I got my customary cup of coffee and went a little crazy with the edits, thus the wild colors. I have no idea what I am doing but there is so much cool stuff you can do with RAW format. I love it.

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The field work is about to commence and soon I’ll get to spend my afternoons here, bouncing around in the seat of an old tractor.

Even though I am no longer in a work place, nor in school with times to keep and assignment deadlines to meet, I have plenty of things that fill up my day. And all the opportunities in the world, I just have to reach out and take them. Most days I believe it, most days I reach for it, but some days are more challenging than others when it comes to staying focused and sticking to my goals. We tend to reach for more and much further than what we can possibly achieve in one moment, let alone a day or a year. I wrote in my journal two years ago that all the things that last take time. I’m not sure what I meant by that at the time; judging by some other things I wrote in that entry I get the feeling I was frustrated with myself because I kept failing at something (and possibly half asleep because some sentences truly don’t make sense). But looking at it now, I see something that means sustainable results come after continuous effort has been made, again and again, over a greater period of time. Like me finally finishing my eligibility for university studies, at the age of 36. After years of trying and failing because I gave up and didn’t stick with it. But this time I did, by not accepting that voice that told me I couldn’t do it, I wasn’t clever enough, I wasn’t good enough. Instead of convincing myself I can’t do this I kept telling myself I can do this. I will do this.

So today I want to tell you that it feels so damn good to stand at the edge of these fields and remember how hard I worked to get here. Right here. I made it. And I am home.

An Idea Takes Shape

I was looking out the window a couple days ago–blue skies, spring birds chirping, glorious sunshine–and missed my home town with a vengeance. Even more so I wanted to get in my car and drive out into the magnificence of the High Coast, attempt the second stage of the High Coast Trail. I thought about how spoiled I became during the two years I lived and studied in HĂ€rnösand, Sweden (one of the many places of my childhood), having the World Heritage of the High Coast in my backyard.

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Gorgeous, isn’t it?

I can’t say I don’t live close to nature, now. My partner is a farmer and we have acres upon acres of fields and forest. I have but to step outside the door and walk in any direction to get my fix. But strolling through rural farmlands and forests is not the same as braving the wilderness. Flat pastures can’t compare to the steep rise and fall of forest covered slopes, and even though a softly curving hill filled with swaying wheat and barley is beautiful, it isn’t as magnificent as standing on top of a mountain to be awed by the vast ranges and realise how small we truly are. Yet we accomplish great things.

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So there I was with the pull in my chest, wanting so badly to go hiking, but then I got an idea. I may not be able to go trekking right now, not physically, but I have quite a lot of photos from my various adventures, and I am finally blogging, so why not combine the two and write about it? There are too many photos and thoughts to share to fit into one post, so to further my idea I decided that I would make a series–a blog series. Spread it out over a few posts. And I will call it My Love For The High Coast. Great!

To honor One Step At A Time I will set the goal to not get carried away with plans and structure. I know myself well enough to understand that the bigger the project the further it stretches out before me and the higher the chance becomes of me drowning in my still-lacking time management and organisational skills. But bit by bit is how we learn. And that is my motivation.

This is the beginning, then; the first stage and the introduction to a hike back in time. A trek through the past two years. Some adventures were smaller, shorter, and some bigger, longer. But they all meant the world to me.

I will begin with a long one, a hike that took me and my trekking companion, Loke–my beloved dog–nine whole hours (and perhaps even more) to complete. But–that is another post. Until then…

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“Hiking, you say? Nine hours, you say? At least you had boots for the occasion! Nutcase.” – Loke, 1 year old and ever eager to explore.