A Personal Journey

Hello, everyone! I know I dropped off the radar but it seems like I have been in constant motion since Wednesday morning and I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write until now. The past few days have been amazing and I have been longing to get a moment to share them with you.

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In my mother’s living room.
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A gift.

Last week I got a message from the education coordinator at Härnösand’s Folk High in Sweden, where I studied for two years–two incredible years which came to play a big part in the personal journey I began back in 2014. I have had plenty of time now to land and process all the emotions and impressions from the past few days–and since I got her message–but even as I write I am overwhelmed anew. A tangle of happiness, wonder, and such a deep thankfulness it feels like I might lift off the ground. I cannot tell you how many times I have been on the verge of tears or how many words were choked by the emotion that provoked them.

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View from old route E4/“Riksväg 90”.

As I write, I sit in my father’s kitchen, a cup of coffee beside me, and with a view of the High Coast bridge outside our window. It is the most comfy place and I am so easily lost in thought and contemplation. Even though I feel and know the changes I have gone through, even though family, friends, and teachers have seen and confirmed them, I am still kind of gobsmacked that it got me elected for a stipend. A diploma with words of my accomplishments along this journey rests in my suitcase now, ready to travel back home to Finland to be framed. Honestly, I am going to put it on my wall. I both can and can’t believe it, do you know what I mean?

You know, I almost didn’t go. After I was contacted I ran out the door and across the farm to where my partner was in the middle of cleaning our machines. I had to shout over the rumble of the compressor. I told him about the invitation back to Härnösand Folk High and he reminded me of the timing belt that needs changing before any major trips should be made with the car. And there just wasn’t enough time to get the car into the workshop before I would have had to leave. The HFS education coordinator told me I could join them over Skype, so either way I would be with them throughout the event. And so I told her I couldn’t come.

My partner noticed how crestfallen I was, and I kept trying to come up with any alternative or solution to make the trip anyway. He told me you’ll regret it if you don’t go. I don’t believe in regrets, but I knew already on the inside that I hadn’t accepted I can’t be there. I guess I needed to hear that I could risk the fate of the timing belt–and the engine–take the chance. Sometimes, no matter how far you have come to trust in that inner voice, sometimes that little extra push is needed. So I went, and the car and I had a smooth and uneventful trip, all the way from Finland to Sweden.

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I think once again on those words the speaker presenting the stipends gave, how important it is to find your own voice. For so long I lived with those borrowed voices I had collected over the years, and for so long I grew to resent the people behind those voices every single time I met failure and disappointment. So finding my own voice wasn’t only important for me and my own well-being and growth, but I have finally been able to let go of the world of weight my grudges encumbered me with. I can now with complete honesty say I do not feel contempt for anyone, no matter who they are or what they do. We are all on a journey–our very own path to find and establish that inner voice, find our place in this world. Sometimes we walk alone, and sometimes we walk alongside others. When my own voice is strong and clear, and the trust in myself sincere, I have come to see I hear and find it in me to understand and listen to others in ways I never could before.

For this, and for all the other challenges and opportunities to meet them I was given during my time at Härnösand Folk High, and to all the wonderful and amazing people I got to meet–I will be forever grateful. So this is not the end of a journey, it is only the beginning. And I eagerly and with more surety and confidence than ever take my next steps.

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At the top of Skule mountain in the High Coast, Sweden. A sneak peek of the many more photos to come from that evening. 😉

As always, thank you so much for reading and I wish you all a cozy Sunday and a great week ahead. See you soon!

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A Mother-Daughter Hike: Part 3

Hi, everyone! We have arrived at the third and last stretch of the hike I did with Lilli two years ago. Living through this trip as I share it with you has gotten me all excited for this summer. Just looking at these photos coaxed that lovely memory cocktail of sounds, smells and sensations; the heat rising from rock, hovering between the trunks as we wandered, and the cool breeze sweeping in from the ocean–salt, seaweed, and minerals. Even the moss and lichen has its own distinct scent. And the pine trees. Oh, the smell of resin and pine needles is divine.

After leaving the beautiful tarn behind, the landscape soon began to rise. At one point I had to lift Lilli up by intertwining my fingers and letting her step on my palms, and at another climb I got up first, then pulled her up while she found purchase with the toes of her shoes. On the way back, though, she told me she would brave the drop herself and she sure did. I kept my camera stowed away during these moments, though, ready to pounce to the rescue. Once the trail leveled out, I got my camera out again.

Lilli didn’t get tired of me taking photos, either. She was happy stopping and taking it slow, but at a particular moment after posing for a dozen photos in a row, she turned away and pretended I wasn’t there. Hah.

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“Ugh. No more, Mom.”
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Lilli?

My steadfast little girl might not have said anything about getting tired, but hiking across a shifting landscape like this does wring the juice out of you. In a nice way, I think. In such a way that makes taking a break feel so good. So we found a spot with a great view and sat down to take many long breaths. And to refresh ourselves with water.

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This sky used to be littered with those Unidentified Flying Objects – aka dust speckles on the sensor.
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Taking a moment to just be.

As I am sure shows and seeps through my words as I write, wandering nature and adventuring through all that it has to offer fills my heart and soul with joy. Getting to do this with my daughter–I count myself so blessed and lucky to have been given this wonderful human being to guide and nurture. And to be part of, whether close by or from afar, her very own journey in this life.

I may have this sneaky old habit of being very hard on myself, one I do many battles with still, but I only hope that by the time my little girl wants to try her own wings, I have given her a solid foundation to push off from.

On the last stretch, before reaching our turning point, and that preciously needed coffee and picnic smörgåsbord, we both kept our eyes all but glued to the horizon. The views from up here were absolutely breathtaking.

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And this almost concludes our trek through Skuleskogen–for now. At the end of June, Lilli and I will get in the car–Loke will be joining us, too–to begin our road trip. Our first stop is Terranova, a natural science exhibition which presents Kvarken archipelago, elected as Finland’s first natural heritage site in 2006. It is a permanent part of the Ostrobothnian Museum in Vaasa. After that we will travel straight to Svedjehamn on Björkö in Kvarken archipelago, about 40 kilometers from Vaasa, and do a little exploring. I will talk more about that later in another post, since I have exciting plans to document our adventures this summer. In other words, there will be more mother-daughter hikes to come. And then some.

Some Last Words

The famous last words–no, not really. That just popped into my head when I wrote the heading text. I do want to get a little nerdy, though, and I have saved a little for the end credits. In every post I have written I have edited out my tendencies to transform my storytelling into information dumps. So, here we go. Short but sweet.

Did you know that twenty thousand years ago Skuleskogen National Park was covered by a 3 kilometre thick layer of ice? Can you imagine the weight of it? That pressure? Now, think of that melting, moving, sliding. The High Coast in Sweden, in which this park we have ventured through is situated, and Kvarken archipelago in Finland, forms a unique area. Together they are one of the few places in the world where traces of post-glacial rebound are so clearly visible. Flads and gloe lakes, deep crevices, vast rock fields, caves and tunnels carved by Mother Nature’s able hands. And watch that ancient rock rise up, still, at the pace of 8 mm per year. Skuleberget–Skule Mountain–which is right across route E4 from the National Park is impressive and definitely worth a visit. If you are into climbing, they have Via Ferrata facilities.

Lastly, did you also know that this post-glacial rebound process creates around one square kilometer of new land every year? In a couple of thousand years our descendants will be able to hike across Kvarken. It is just too fascinating and powerful to imagine. And too cool information to not add as an afterword.

If you have read this far, I want to thank you for joining us. I have honestly enjoyed writing about this and going through these photos so much, and I can’t tell you how exciting it is to see your likes and follows. Thank you! As always, I look forward to sharing many more adventures with you. Until next time, and see you soon!

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Here you can not only see a gorgeous example of that–if I am not mistaken, do correct me if I am–ancient rock, but also stark traces of my newbie photography skills. Blurr-blurr-blurr.

 

Photography – A Beginner’s Journey

Good morning, everyone! Or, well, it was morning and then I took Loke for a walk and suddenly it was nearly lunch time. Whenever I decide to go exploring I end up losing track of time, especially if I have a camera with me. This time I brought my phone, though, because my camera has caught dust on the sensor again. After last night’s adventure down by the river, almost four hundred photos (and manual settings practice) later, I came home to find most of them in such poor quality I wanted to cry. Not only because of dust, though, but because I simply do not understand my camera yet.

Let me tell you a silly story. This is me in a nutshell–was me. After the hike with my daughter in 2015, I was super excited to see the results of the photos I took. A few photos I had taken of the sky while playing around with manual settings had dots in them. I assumed I had dust on my lens and cleaned it, took some photos, and… no go. Still those pesky dots. So I cleaned again and again, but it didn’t help. So I changed to the lens that came with my camera when I first bought it in 2011 or -12 and… still dots! I jumped online, looked around, a little sloppily I might add, because I was already in full-blown panic.

And then I gave up.

I honestly thought I had broken my camera somehow, or the lens, or both. The feeling was a hopeless and helpless one.

So here is the silly part, the me-in-a-nutshell part–I wanted but didn’t dare to take my gear to a photography shop to get it checked out because I was too afraid I would be laughed back out. That they would ask me how I managed to break it. That they would dismiss me as an amateur and tell me to find another hobby.

After that I lost heart. I would still take my camera with me–sometimes–but I had convinced myself I didn’t have what it takes. The joy I felt rarely returned. I stuck to the presets. Point and shoot. All the while berating myself for investing so much money in something I wasn’t qualified to use.

Even as I write this I want to shake my head at my former self. But I remember the journey still–from there to here. It’s so easy for me to look at all the ways my thinking patterns limited my entire life. I guess it both is and isn’t silly–do you know what I mean?

Tomorrow I am taking my camera to a photography shop in Rauma to get some help. I have bought a kit and read instructions on how to clean the sensor, and I have done so now on a few occasions, but I am in this for real now. And with my scatter-brain I need to see someone else do this in front of me, together with me, so I can learn.

The thing is, I want to take breathtaking photos. I want to create unforgettable images–transform the images and visions I have in my mind, in my soul into actual artwork. And I want them on my wall. Heck, I would love it if you wanted them on your wall, too. But, hey–one step at a time. First I have to want to put them on my wall, right?

In light of that (or lack thereof, hah), I am going to present you with some raw material from this learning experience of mine. These are but a few from my three-hour session by the river yesterday evening. Enjoy! And thank you so much for reading. See you soon!

Lapinjoki – Lappi River

A Shed In The Sunset

Unidentified Flying Objects

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Attempting Spot Removal

…and other things!

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Now You See Me

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After a lot of editing.

Now You Don’t

Sort Of

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Healing, Soothing Sunshine

When I went to bed last night I basically ordered myself to stay in bed today. Time to get better, time to let my body recuperate. Morning came… and I tried. I really, honestly did. How could I stay in bed though when every single nerve ending was jittery with energy? Isn’t that a strange feeling? Have you experienced that? You know you’re sick, you feel it in your nose, in your throat, in your chest and joints. Yet, somehow, you are on your way out the door and into glorious sunshine.

And it didn’t end there. I raked one-quarter of the yard (which, granted, took me a few hours, because it’s a huge yard), cleaning up leaves left from autumn and a ridiculous amount of Loke’s poop.

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I stepped in it! (Who wants to show off dog poop, right? Well, me.)

I went outside an hour before lunch time, and then again just past 3 p.m., after taking my daughter to a friend’s place. I stayed there until I was done with my quarter. Almost till 6 p.m. Madness, right? My nose was running the entire time, but crazy as it seems, I feel so much better. All that fresh air, probably hundreds of sweeping movements with that rake, and a little play time with Loke in the pile I gathered–was the best medicine.

My guess is I will sleep like a log tonight. But first–more photos. I wish you all a lovely day (or evening/morning, depending on where in the world you are).

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I kept getting weird grid marks when I edited, so after playing around with all kinds of settings, I got myself an oil painting. It looks pretty neat.
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When I reached down to gather two armfuls of leaves Loke looked so hopeful that I couldn’t resist. I ended up spreading it out pretty nicely and had to rake it back in again, but Loke loved it.

 

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And the leaves loved my jumper. So do I. (Later this evening my daughter found leaves in my hair. Whoops?)

 

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Lots and lots of thank you kisses from an overjoyed dog.
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And that’s it. See you tomorrow, beautiful gardening gloves, you.