Yesterday afternoon I took a drive up along Ångermanälven. The plan was aimless driving and spontaneous images. Usually when I want a photo trip like that I go alone. Somehow I feel more free to do those spur-of-the-moment stops, and get lost in my own little world when I do not have to keep others in mind. Seeing as this holiday in Sweden is soon coming to an end–we leave on Sunday night to drive to Stockholm and the ferry–I also wanted to make the most out of these last days.
To my father, nature and the outdoors has a different meaning. He loves it, but he would rather pick mushrooms or fish or take some sausages to grill. Do things. Not sit in a car and wait for someone to pick random routes based on a feeling. And once the purpose of the trip is fulfilled, he goes home. So when he wanted to come along, too, I was surprised. My mother is a little more like me–she sees beyond a forest, beyond the trees and lakes and mountains. Colours and light, magical moments–she gets them, too. But she still laughs at me when I suddenly dive down and fall into the strangest positions to capture whatever catches my eye.
So off we went. Lilli, my mother, my father, Loke and I. We were out for over four hours and not once did I feel restrained from following whichever wonder that grabbed me. And we all enjoyed those hours.
I usually fill up my posts with lots of photos. Today, I am only sharing one. And perhaps not the most usual subject, either.
Hey, everyone! I hope you are having a good Tuesday so far. I am ever so slowly getting organised for Lilli’s and my holiday in Sweden. There has been a lot of work around the farm lately–with the fields in particular–so I rescheduled and adjusted this trip many times before I could actually book our tickets for the ferry over. And now I have to make sure all my work is done before Thursday.
For the past couple of weeks I have been walking around our fields checking the growth and documenting any inconsistencies. I have a map with me, and my phone. For every thing I find worth noting, I have to mark it on the map with a code-ID, which I also have to add to the photo I take. I spent several hours clearing the memory on my phone since I very soon ran out of space. I had well over a thousand photos from the past couple of years and so many issues with iCloud and syncing. So in the end I just made a backup on my laptop and then deleted my entire phone and iCloud library of photos. There has to be an easier way around this, I’m sure, but I ran out of patience. Haha
Today I would like to share something with you that I have worked on for a few weeks now. I have been practicing and exploring the possibilities of Photoshop and working with layers, and it is so much fun. I love it so much. It seems there is no limit to what you can do and the possibilities appear endless to me. So this is something I will continue practicing a lot, so that I can shape my photographs into works of art.
You might recognise the photo from a previous post. I combined it with another photo from my visit to Skule Mountain earlier this summer. I wanted to merge my two biggest loves as far as places go–the High Coast and our farm–and bring out the feeling I get when I am there. I could have kept going, but I read a quote somewhere a long time ago, by an artist whose name I cannot seem to remember. He or she basically said that there is no such thing as a finished painting. At some point you just have to decide to stop. Admittedly, I scrapped my first attempt and started over, due to some unfixable mistakes I made in the learning process. I do have to say I am very happy with it, though, even if I could do so much more, but I am letting it go now.
And below are the originals, sort of. The landscape photo I used in my artwork was a little more zoomed out than this one.
I wish you all a wonderful Tuesday and I’ll try to get my take on the latest photo challenge done before tomorrow. This upcoming photo challenge, whatever it may be, will take place while I’m in Sweden, so that will be very exciting.
Hey! I actually made a deal with myself that for this Midsummer weekend, I would leave my computer alone and spend all weekend outside. No writing. No editing. No photography. There is nothing wrong with being passionate, but my brain has gone into overdrive. Just a couple of days ago, as I stood chopping rhubarb for homemade jam and pie, I started feeling so nauseous the entire world started spinning. I had to go lie down and fell asleep almost instantly.
For the past few weeks I have found it difficult going to sleep at night and then I wake up five to six hours later, ready to take on the day. As a result of falling behind on my rest I just keep getting more and more scatter-brained. I know these bright nights and long days are partially behind it, but it’s my tendency to become obsessively submerged in my passions that is the real culprit. So I said to myself take a step back and just be. Lilli went with her grandmother to spend the weekend, so I couldn’t have had a better opportunity to merely laze around and do absolutely nothing.
I took a blanket and a drink outside and lied on the lawn with Loke, and it was so wonderful to just be there. The sun warmed my skin even if we had a really cool summer day yesterday, and I listened to the wind and the swallows as they whooshed past above us. I even made the jam and the pie, which turned out absolutely delicious. But I forgot to leave my phone out of my reach. So while going through Happy Midsummer Eve wishes and photos on Instagram and Facebook–and squeezing my own in there–I started thinking about when this tradition started, and how did they celebrate it, say, a few hundred years ago?
As some of you may have noticed, I have a tattoo on my forearm. I got it my last semester at Härnösand Folk High, after almost twenty years of wanting to get one but never finding it was the right time. In it are Odin’s ravens, Huginn and Muninn; Yggdrasil; and Thor’s hammer. And in rune-inspired font are three words–strength, courage, and wisdom. This symbolises all things that are important to me. It also serves as a reminder how in the end I never gave up, even when I thought I had. So last night, just as the sun stood at its lowest, I threw on my warpaint and ran through the fields. I don’t know where it came from, but I just knew this was something I had to capture, something I had to do. And as I sat here by my computer, as I said I wouldn’t, editing the photos I took out there, Jay told me you’ve got guts, I’ll give you that.
I do. I have courage. I think I always had. I just wasn’t wise enough see I was the one holding me back, nor strong enough to break down the walls. So now I would like to share the vision that seized me last night and had me flying through the fields to capture.
Be louder than your fears. You may have noticed I have this in the header section of my blog. I also have it with me these days in the back of my mind. On the days I have to step out on the battlefield to challenge myself it is my banderole. It is the beat of the drum as I stride forward, head held high and knees shaking. Engraved on my heart too because no shield and no armor is of any use if I want to change. I have to let those challenges hit me so I can feel them, receive them, understand them.
Fear. I sit here and think about it, how it once ruled my entire life. Fear doesn’t seem to come alone, though. It isn’t just fear; it is a lack of belief in one’s own abilities. Not much sense of self. The strange need for confirmation and praise from others yet never, ever believing it. No matter how many compliments or how much encouragement I got, the voices and words of criticism and degradation I had ever heard in my life won. One phrase I seemed to love to use once, the one phrase that resonated all through me was you are such a fraud. I used to be mindful of and so very careful with every single word I spoke because sooner or later this new cheerleader or supporter of mine would find out how very wrong he or she was about me. One day soon, he or she would see me for what I really was. A fraud. A poor, pathetic excuse for a human being. Harsh? Yes. But that is how I truly saw myself.
Trust. I didn’t trust anyone. But how could I? I was wholly convinced anyone and everyone I ever came across would betray me. And I never even gave them a chance to prove me wrong. I was always right. It was easier that way–better that way. At least I wouldn’t be disappointed. Which, funnily, I always ended up feeling anyway.
Hope. The crushing weight of hope lost. Yet it never died. Deep down, some part of me never, ever gave up hope. Hope is an odd thing, because no matter how hopeless things seemed, how hopeless I felt–hope was the glowing ember that always ignited and kept me going. I actually used to hate that feeling before things started to turn. With that sense of self-irony I would tell myself oh, what the hell, I love failure and rejection anyway, so why not give it another try? What could be more fun than being totally crushed? The more the merrier! I also used to think it was my stubbornness, sometimes I still might. I remember comparing that sense of keep going as a cogwheel mechanism deep, deep down that forged ahead on the absolutely worst days while I was being dragged behind on a line. I was on the ground, got pulled across gravel and dust and through muddy swamps. It never, ever stopped.
So how did it all change? How did I turn it around? These are questions I have asked myself a lot. During my last weeks at Härnösand Folk High, I spent so much time trying to go through my past few years to pin point the pivotal moment. I couldn’t. I still can’t. And, I think, that is because that magical moment doesn’t exist. Rather, the magic lies within a formula of many different moments. A sequence of moments that lead me through the haze until the day I realised I could see clearer. I think of it as the mist on a cool morning after a previously hot, baking day. How do you define the single moment in which it dissipates? I didn’t even know the mist was lifting, and so I didn’t think to keep an eye on the process. Until I noticed I could see across the distance.
This is where my journals have become so important. And they confirm my belief that it is a formula. A series of moments–motions–that lead to insight. It is all a process, and I take it all–one day at a time. One step at a time.
I have already mentioned I went back to Sweden a couple of weeks ago to accept a stipend. The gesture moved me so deeply, like a confirmation of all the challenges I have met, all the obstacles I have overcome in the past few years. After receiving the message about the stipend, I thought that now I want to write about this. I had wanted and meant to for quite some time, but this gave me that last push. It also inspired me to write this and the next post in Swedish, too. Since about the age of eighteen it feels like I have travelled all over this planet, and because of that I seem to have become more comfortable with English than my own mother tongue. But at the Folk High I received so much encouragement and support writing in Swedish that I wanted to do it also as a gesture of how grateful I am. And this is exactly what Härnösand Folk High is about–an atmosphere of acceptance and equality. Not even always through spoken words. It is more like walking into open arms and being embraced. You are surrounded by all that which is needed for you to find your own inner voice and to strengthen it.
I wrote these posts before I left for Sweden, and I had intended on posting them back then, minus the part of me receiving a stipend, since I was to keep it secret until that last day of school and the ceremony. I never did, though. And then I thought I would post it after, which would give me a chance to add some photos from the school. But I forgot. I took a few photos at the very start but then I got lost in the joy of being among all those people again, meeting my teachers and fellow students who still had a semester or another year left. I did however step up in front of the entire school to share the very moment I will share here, too, in the next post. One of many, many moments I got to experience during my time at Härnösand Folk High. One of those many opportunities I was given and accepted to challenge my fears–be louder than my fears.
So with some photos from that day, and a few more words, I will in the next post tell you about a day I got to challenge both my fear of heights and my fear of trusting others. Meanwhile, I would love to hear about any experience or challenge you have had or met which has had an impact on your life. After my time at Härnösand Folk High my belief is stronger than ever that we can learn so much from each other. Even from that which may seem small to us. Some of us go through life and apply these valuable lessons we have picked up and learned along our journeys even without thinking much about it, but to someone else it could be quite the inspiration. ❤