Something Special

Hello my dear readers. I just sat down with a cup of coffee in front of the screen. On the other side of my window behind it a million tiny snowflakes whirl around the sway of our spruce hedge. I keep thinking about all the words I write and leave behind, erase, change, and suddenly don’t feel like using. It reminds me once again on how I at times have wondered if I should schedule my posts. My inspiration to write comes and goes, and now it has been… two weeks since my last update. So if I did write this way then I might keep all the things that fill my mind and these drafts, the photos I take that I want to share, and spread them out so you get more regular updates, even when my mind goes quiet and my motivation to shoot dwindles. What has me hesitating is that I write so very much from my feelings and impressions in the now, and it would feel like giving you Monday’s news paper with your Sunday morning coffee.

I’m hoping to throughout this coming year figure out just which way to blog is the best for me. Maybe this is a process all bloggers go through until they find their very own rhythm?

Now, however, I’m going to tell you about something very special, something I have been wanting to write about since before my trip to Sweden but was too overwhelmed to find words for.

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Photographs of my mom when she was little. I just love her outfits.

I took this photo very late one evening earlier this month, after having waited and waited for the new battery to my brand new camera to be fully charged. After many months of slowly letting go of the prospect I will get a new camera any time soon, Jay completely blew me away when he decided to sponsor me. And not in a small way, but he got me my dream camera. The Canon 5D Mark IV. I have had it for almost a month soon but as I write this my whole body wants me to shout out loud. The first couple of days I didn’t dare to take it outside. We had such miserable weather — slush, then ice, then snow, then rain and more ice — and I was so afraid I would slip and break the camera. Silly, I know, but there you have it.

Instead I took photos inside the house, which is something I have been so bad at before. Even if I tried and had almost let go of the fact my old camera didn’t handle higher ISO all that well, which is needed in dim lighting — especially on moving targets — somehow I lost the feeling for it. But now it’s fun again.

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Our spruce hedge, viewed from the living room window.
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Lilli tried to keep his attention by saying “candies!”

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My parents bought two cats not too long ago. This is Tobi (or Tobidoo, as they call him), and his sister, who mostly ran away whenever I got close, is named Potts. Or Pottis. They weren’t too sure of Loke when we first arrived, but after he sniffed and buffed their butts all was well. Haha I have many names for Loke, too. Bubbas or Pumpas the most commonly used ones. Do you also have a million different names for your furry babies?

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When he is told to stay put.

When I left for Sweden I wished so much I would have gotten an opportunity to capture the northern lights — now that I had this awesome camera to do it with. Even a star struck sky. However it feels like it snowed almost every single day I was there, which I of course only loved. I wanted to visit so many places during my stay in Sweden, too — places my grandparents grew up in. For many years now I have known both my mom’s biological parents are from Ångermanland, but what I didn’t know was that my dad’s mom is from around here, too. And through life’s mysterious ways, Mom and Dad ended up in Stockholm suburbs, where they met some forty years ago now.

Ramsele, where my dad’s mom was born, is maybe a two-hour drive from Ramvik at most but I have never seen it. Ljungaverk, where my mom’s biological mother is from lies a little south and inland. I mention biological since my mom was adopted. She has never met her biological mom, but we have been in contact with her biological dad since I was little. Sidensjö, where he was born, is a smaller place close to the town of Örnsköldsvik, about an hour north from Ramvik. I don’t know but I wonder if this is why I feel such a deep connection to this region? As though the very spirit and soul of these lands have left an imprint on our genes which are carried down in the intricate yet massive data sheet of our DNA. More interesting still is how my biological grandfather has Finnish ancestors. I find these things so very fascinating and I hope I will make it to these places I mentioned next time I visit my parents.

One day when the snow just kept coming down, I took Loke for a walk toward the Ramvik bay. As kids, my brothers and I would come here quite often. There is a very small beach which over the years has gotten a little more sand (by the looks of things), and the cape has served as our destination for adventures. Ramvik isn’t a very big village but it has so many beautiful houses. I had to check up what the laws said on photographing peoples’ homes, and it is allowed so long as I am shooting from a public road. Luckily no one was out with their gardening gloves. 😉

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To be honest, I spent most of the two weeks in Sweden in my parents’ house. I did meet up with my friend a couple of times for coffee and dinner. It was so cozy and I have missed her so much. We are terrible at keeping in touch, but when we do meet it’s like no time has passed. I feel so blessed to have found a friend like that.

As I already wrote about in my previous post, I went on a 600 kilometer day trip with my mom and brother. We didn’t do another one like that, but I did go for a drive with my parents on the other side of Ångermanälven. The afternoon sun was so incredibly beautiful and I wish I had photos to show you the breathtaking scene that unfolded over the broken ice on Ångermanälven. I stopped the car and got out to take photos only to realise I had left the memory card on the kitchen table. This is so typical of me, but I have now bought a second memory card which I will always keep in my camera bag.

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This photo was taken from underneath the High Coast Bridge. To get those photos I missed out on the day I left my memory card, I went back to the other side of the river. The clouds managed to amasse before Mom and I arrived, but I got out anyway. To stand underneath this bridge when cars and semi-trucks pass overhead is a little frightening, but I can’t help but feel humbled in the face of something so incredibly larger than myself.

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We drove up to the High Coast Hotel. I wanted to see if I could walk up the mountain to get some photos, but with all the snow it was too deep to walk in. Instead I climbed up a few meter tall pile of snow created by the ploughs and the view was just as spectacular from there.

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The High Coast Hotel

Growing up with winters far harsher than the ones we have these days I’m not a stranger to frozen fingers, but this past year even the slightest chill leaves my hands next to non-functional. Mom and Dad had a spare pair of those touch gloves, which I got to keep, but even with gloves on I have only to be out five minutes before the tips of my fingers start going numb. It doesn’t actually hurt while I’m still in the cold, but once I get inside and start warming up — the pain is excruciating. I think this is one reason behind why I have sat behind the windows in longing, watching the beauty of January from the safety of warmth. Mom said I could try a really fatty cream, which I have yet to put to the test.

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Earlier this week we got the warning of an incoming snow storm for today. The winds this morning were definitely a little stronger than usual, but the snow didn’t pick up until midday. Our internet also dropped out, which was due to carrier switch. And I had to take Lilli to the doctor since she has been home all week with a terrible cough. There is no inflammation or infection in her body, though, and the fever went down earlier in the week, so she is back on the sofa and resting.

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After two weeks away, I am so happy to be back home. There is much less snow here, but if this snow storm continues that might change. And I am more than content with all the photos I managed to get from the short walks I took with Loke a few times a day. Now we need to wait for his jacket to arrive with the post. I always forget something at my parents’ house after my visits. This summer I left my camera cleaning kit, and now I left Loke’s jacket. Out of all things. Luckily we only have a couple of degrees below zero.

I hope to get better at updating as this slumber begins to leave my body. Until then I will leave you with a couple more photos from one beautiful morning in Ramvik, and I wish you all a good weekend! Many hugs and much love. ❤

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The light on those trees and mountains ❤

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Learning About The Moments

Hello dear ones! I checked the weather map this morning after waking up to strong winds grabbing at the house. They warned of hard winds in this area and outside the snow is creating a thick veil of fog. Somehow there’s something very cozy about sitting inside when the wind howls and snow whirls through the trees outside the window. And I always feel so safe in these old, wooden houses.

On Sunday morning just gone, my mom, brother, Loke and I went on an adventure, and once again I meant to write about it earlier but I keep forgetting how these road trips zap all my strength and energy.

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If sitting still and crammed into a car for hours is strenuous for me, it is even more so for my mom who has arthritis. But she loves adventures, too, and when I asked if she wanted to come along on this trip she of course said yes. She had an SLR when we were younger and has filled many pages in our family albums with photos. Now she uses her phone and happily shoots from the seat in the car, so the photos with me in it are courtesy of my mom.

One of our first stops was at a frozen lake with the most beautiful view. I got out to climb a snow drift to get a better view, but when I wanted to get down on the other side it didn’t occur to me that the snow wouldn’t be as packed down there. Loke whined in the car when I gave out a shout as I went straight through at least one meter of snow.

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I started laughing as I sat there in my hole in the snow. Mom called out and asked if I was all right, which I of course was. I got snow into my shoes and inside my coat, which I didn’t realise until I had sat in the car for a while and the seat and my pants were all wet. Haha But I got great photos!

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You know, this area we drove through was one of the most beautiful on the entire trip. Ever since the road trip with my brother last summer I have wanted to go back toward the Norwegian border, toward the fell mountains to take photos. Now when the world here is covered in all this snow, I got an image in my head and decided to go chase it. All along the road Mom and I ooh-ed and aah-ed at the breathtaking sights. Driving a white road lined by tall spruces in their snowy coats, leaf trees bowing beneath the weight of the snow, is so incredibly magical. It’s like being embraced by winter itself. A sense of warmth and peace spreads through every limb in the body and I didn’t even stop to take photos. I wanted to continue along that road into eternity.

So often I have both read and heard that it’s not the destination that counts but the journey. It’s so true, too, I have found, but I also forget this so easily. When I get an idea and the inspiration to move, I sometimes become so focused on reaching my goal that I only give glances to what happens around me as I work toward it. In spite of knowing each step holds valuable experience in itself. So often along the drive I saw such beauty, but I only stopped a few times. I knew that we only had so many hours of daylight, and since we left two hours later than I initially planned, I would have had maybe one hour at our destination before sunset. A thick sheet of clouds also hung from the sky so the light was very mellow to begin with, which didn’t matter so much. I love the melancholy, too, that the landscape is wrapped in when the sun doesn’t shine.

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Jämtland, the province in which my destination was, is so beautiful. It’s not all that different from Ångermanland, just more. The mountains a little higher, the valleys a little deeper, the lakes a little more to count. Or at least it feels like that. And then of course the fell mountains to glimpse on the horizon as you near Östersund. Åre is situated in Jämtland, which might be if not the most popular winter holiday destination, then very far up there. My brother and I drove past Åre on our way to Norway last summer, and it sure was spectacular to me, even without its winter outfit.

These last photos I’m sharing are from Ragundadalen, about halfway to our destination Gräftåvallen, which lies about 100 kilometers below Åre.

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After having some coffee and sandwiches at this rest stop, we drove on until I had to pee so badly I feared I would wet my pants. Haha Then I wasted precious time driving around a small community called Brunflo trying to find a toilet. We were in stitches by the time we found a service station where they had four toilets. Brun is brown in Swedish, and I commented on that no wonder it’s called that; people have been driving on for hours and they come here bursting at the seams in search for a toilet and find none. I have a very childish sense of humor. 🙂

When we finally left Brunflo, the sun was disappearing behind the brief break in the clouds, and even though I knew by then we would be arriving after dark, I drove on. All the way up the mountain that looked nothing like what I had imagined. In all honesty I saw no fell mountains within our reach, only those towering on the horizon, far too far to reach on that day’s trip. At the top outside the small resort, I stopped the car and didn’t even get outside. My brother took Loke out to leave some poop on top of the mountain, and then he had a pee in a snow drift before we drove back down. Mom laughed at the fact we had driven 300 kilometers for this, which is funny. We also looked at renting a room for the night to maybe salvage the trip and take the next day to drive around, but my brother had to be at work at eight the next morning, which he said his boss would probably be okay with, but I drove us back home anyway.

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I have a tendency to think at times like these about purpose. That pretty much anything we do, things that happen have a meaning. Especially when I drove 600 kilometers there and back without barely getting out of the car. I didn’t take photos up on that mountain when I so easily could have, but I just didn’t feel like it. When I sat there I thought that this trip wasn’t meant to be about reaching a destination or a goal. I didn’t come here to find the visuals to fit the image in my head. This was about looking at how to be in the moment, how to savor the journey. The people I was with — spending time with family I don’t get to see very often. And believe me, we had the greatest time. We talked about everything imaginable and laughed so hard my face hurt. And before settling in for the drive home, we stopped at Brunflo again to get some dinner.

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After a couple of months of feeling like my passion and motivation for all things photography and going on adventures had slipped away, I am so incredibly thankful for this drive. I talked a little with my brother about these things when I picked him up on Saturday night, and he, too, has felt his own inspiration for drawing (which he is so amazing at) has abandoned him lately. Maybe this is just truly due to the seasons within us. The winter in our minds. We, too, fall into hibernation and need to do so. Our minds are capable of incredible things, we as humans have so much power and energy flowing through us, but can we expect it to be constant? Is it natural? Is it nature’s way?

I look at the river and the mountains outside my window and it lies in peaceful rest. The tall birches don’t attempt to sprout buds, no animal out there pretends it is anything other than winter. The water slows its course beneath the ice. Just the same our thoughts and actions need a little extra time to unfold.

I wish you a continued great week. Much love. ❤

A Magical Drive Into The New Year

After I finished picking out the photos for this post and began counting them I started laughing. Why do I even do this? I already know I have too many, so knowing how many won’t matter.

But, hello, dear ones! I am taking myself out of my social media silence and I’m putting my blogging pants on again. My holiday is over and as I write I am still recovering from a two-day drive from our farm to my parents house in the mid-north of Sweden. Usually I take the ferry between Turku and Stockholm, but not this time. Instead I braved the icy roads of Lapland (the big Lappi up north). I left at nine in the morning on Tuesday and arrived at my parents’ house at eight on Wednesday night. The tyres may have stopped their vibrating but my bones were still buzzing. I don’t know if you have experienced this (or even have the possibility, if you live where winter tyres are not needed), but some winter tyres have these tiny little metal buds on them and they are very noisy on asphalt. Additionally (apparently) they make the car vibrate? I carried all my luggage into my parents house right away, because it was seventeen below zero, and then went to lie down on the kitchen floor. Flat on my back. Arms and legs stretched out as far as I could reach. All of me was shaking and somehow a flat and solid floor beneath me was what I wanted. It was the strangest feeling.

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The original plan was to leave at the end of last week, but one thing after another prevented it, so it wasn’t until Tuesday morning this week Loke and I stepped out into a crisp, hazy winter sunrise to take a few deep breaths before getting in the car. Loke took a wild dash around the farm as though he knew it would be a couple of weeks before we’re back home again. I have to say that in spite of being such a dork, Loke has immense patience. I can’t imagine anyone else being able to travel in a car with me for over twenty-four hours and not be driven to insanity by my oh-wow-look-at-that-I-have-to-stop-to-take-a-photo-oh-it’s-so-beautiful.

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Loke’s face, haha.

When I packed the car I put all our luggage into the backseat and filled up the baggage space with soft blankets and Loke’s bed. He got to travel like a king and only seemed disturbed once, at a point when my eyes seemingly stopped working and rolled around in my head until I started making loud noises while slapping my mouth. I had every intention to stop the car to have a power nap, but you know those P-pockets along the road where you can stop the car? They are nowhere to be found when you truly need them. So howling just had to do. (My dad rolls down the windows and sticks his head out if he gets tired. I was already half-icicle, though, so it wasn’t an option for me.)

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It’s quite amazing how quickly the snow cover changed and grew as I drove north. Only a couple of hours away and the blanket of snow was visibly thicker. The area we live in is called Satakunta, which I creatively will translate to the Rain Domain. In Finnish we say it either rains water or snow. There’s no actual verb for it’s snowing. I guess the Rain Domain is visited mostly by falling water. At least lately. But a little further north I began fighting the urge to stop and take photos. I knew that once I start, I can’t stop.

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I came across this sign that read The Blue Road. As I drove I thought about what it meant. For a while I wondered if it literally had to do with the colour of the road. In this light it really did look blue. A deep-ocean blue — you know that almost black-blue? Yesterday I consulted Google and read that its name comes from that it follows a water course all the way from Norway through Sweden and Finland, and then finally into Russia. I love to stumble across things like these. To at first, unbeknownst to facts, wonder in cluelessness of its meaning and then visit google to find out what it might actually be. I think in this day and age, with a world of knowledge at our fingertips, it’s too easy to look up answers without first getting to ask questions and ponder them in ignorance. So to me, in that moment, knowing the light here is very special this time of the year, I thought why not? Wouldn’t that have been so cool, though? A road being named by the light that hits it during the winter months.

This reminds me of something. Did you know that in Finnish, aurora borealis is called fox fire? Revontulet. I looked it up last year and found out that it comes from an old belief in the Fire Fox, a god of some kind streaking across the tundra and hitting its tail against the ground, which is what people believed ignited those fiery lights in the sky. I thought it was the most amazing tale. Honestly it touched me so deeply I spun off names in my head for a brand name for my photography. I’m letting it live its own life for now, though. I have found that these things usually come together by themselves, in their own time. One morning I will shoot up from bed and shout of course! And then I’ll know.

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I stopped a lot in a short span of time before the sun set. The colours in the sky and the resultant light playing over the vast sheets of snow took my breath away.

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Loke and I stopped by this coffee cottage (which was closing as I pulled in with the car) to have our dinner. I don’t think it was even four in the afternoon yet. I had sandwiches packed, and Loke got a bowl of dry kibbles mixed with some wet food. He eats the kibbles if he is ravenous, so to make it more attractive I mix in a little something to give it more taste. At least I imagine it tastes better. And Loke seems to enjoy it more that way.

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When I stopped at the P-pocket to step out with my camera to photograph this sky, a big semi-truck pulled in behind me. I had to get back in to move my car forward, and then I sat a moment talking to myself out loud. I was so annoyed. Why did he have to show up right there, right now? I wanted to shoot this sky so badly, so in the end I got out and jumped into the snow to run around the truck. After that my toes didn’t unfreeze until I stepped into a scalding hot shower at the hotel in Oulu, hours later. I am so thankful Jay persisted to talk me into staying over the night somewhere and not sleeping in the car, which I said I could. Now I know I wouldn’t have, because it got really really cold. Oh, and when Loke and I arrived at the hotel room he had his very own bed waiting for him and a bag of goodies!

I wanted to sit down with my laptop that evening and write a blog post to tell you about my upcoming adventures, but after the hot shower my eyes just wouldn’t stay open. I fell asleep almost instantly as my head hit the pillow. I love that feeling. Especially after a long period of having trouble falling asleep no matter how exhausted I am.

The next morning, at six on Wednesday, I went downstairs to the breakfast buffet to eat a big breakfast. For a couple of years now soon I have been skipping breakfast — somehow I feel a big glass of water and coffee is enough. Breakfast makes me sluggish and my mind foggy, but since that buffet was included I thought I would at least give it a try. I may have overdone it, though. I ate two small deliciously crispy croissants, a little bit of yogurt with musli, and one piece of toast with salty, melted butter, marmalade, and cheese. It was so tasty and almost worth the nausea afterwards. Haha

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The drive from Oulu to Happaranda, the first little town on the Swedish side, takes about two hours — with my driving, at least. Since it was still dark when I set out I didn’t stop for more photos until I was in Sweden. This photo was taken just outside of Happaranda, and those wind mill turbines looked so mystical in the wintry haze.

I didn’t think to exchange money when I went through Happaranda. I actually got lost trying to find a clear spot to photograph the bay area in the misty sunrise. But the snow. I haven’t seen this much snow in what feels like forever. And the snow ploughs have created huge drifts and walls when ploughing the roads, so it was nearly impossible to get to a spot with a clear view. I gave up and turned the GPS on to navigate myself back onto the E4.

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The temperature meter in the car flipped out at the start of the trip, so all throughout the drive I think it showed me the temperature of the engine. As such I had no real idea of how cold it was outside. But looking at the trees in their frosted coats, I figured it was several degrees below zero.

Before lunch I decided that I needed to find a Forex to exchange money so I could have something to eat. And in case I would need to fill up the fuel tank again, even though our Volvo is very economical and has a massive tank. And I still haven’t re-fuelled it.

Google told me there was a Forex in Luleå, which is situated just a little off the E4, so I used the navigator to get me there. It was amazing to drive through the forests in this area. And the roads, though ploughed, were still white. I wish I had thought to take photos. Not only of the landscape here, but also of the city. People were out walking on the big frozen water and even cars were driving on it. They had ploughed pathways out on the lake! The thing is I got terribly lost. First my navigator took me in circles, so I had to stop in the end and walk. I went into a small food shop to ask directions, and it wasn’t until I stood at Forex that I realised I had no idea how to get back to the car! I walked the streets in search for the car on feeling alone and did find it, but in a brief moment of panic I feared Loke would freeze to death before I could find the car again.

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The funny thing is that by the time I got out of Luleå, I was so stressed my stomach had tied itself in knots. I could barely eat the mashed potatoes and grilled sausage I bought from the service station along the road. I ate a couple of mouthfuls, forced several more until half was gone, and then left the rest. I drove on in pain for an hour before it dissipated. I am not big on making New Year resolutions, but I have promised myself that I will truly work on being in the moment this year. Life is unpredictable. My moods are unpredictable, and they sway all over the map. Lists and hours of writing in my journal won’t change the seasons and weathers within me, nor how I really deal with them. I read through some posts from last year, took some time to re-read your comments, and I feel so blessed to have such wonderful readers. Your encouragement and your support has meant and means the world to me.

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I am also so thankful to Jay for suggesting I take a couple of weeks to myself. This Christmas was very different, yet so amazing. I got the bedroom done, finally, and then with Jay’s help we got some other cleaning projects done, but in the end he suggested we get a cover for the doorway into the anxiety room. So I bought curtains from IKEA which Dad helped me put up on the day before Christmas Eve. All of us — Mom, Dad, Jay and I did cooking for our Christmas dinner, and Jay’s mom brought some dishes, too. She made her amazing sour milk cheese. So good. Dad boggled at the amount of food laid out on the table, but when we all sat down to eat on Christmas Eve I was so happy it was finally done. I hadn’t run around like a decapitated chicken to get the house sparkling, there were still a lot of mess in some places, but we had the most wonderful time. I really shut the rest of the world out and focused on our own little unit. It was so needed.

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Now, for the next couple of weeks, I will focus on only me, my photography, and travel around this magical place of my childhood. Take your time, Jay told me. And I will. I will try my hardest to not feel guilty for indulging time away from my family to do something I love. To let go and just enjoy my own peace and quiet. To get in the car and drive to wherever, whenever. And if I don’t feel like moving an inch, then that is all right, too.

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I intended to write this post and share these photos yesterday, but one night of sleep didn’t help me recover from the drive, so I spent the day taking short walks with Loke up and down the road outside the house and editing all the photos from our road trip. We had twenty-one degrees below zero yesterday. The insides of my nostrils froze when I breathed, but I kind of love that feeling. It reminds me of days when my legs were shorter and my layers of clothing much thicker than now. Days I flew on skiis across the frozen river without a thought of the depths below. Careless and innocently unaware of how thick the ice is and how much weight can it really take before it breaks? It won’t give, but I still fear for it.

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I took the camera with me on our morning walk yesterday while the coffee was brewing. When I powered it up, it told me I had no memory card, so I went out again after Loke had done his business. And oh, this river. Beloved Ångermanälven. I can’t explain what it is about this place that moves my soul so deeply. Its quiet, melancholy beauty. I will spend many mornings here and just breathe in.

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Today I will go into Härnösand to find myself some gloves I can use when I’m out there shooting. As of right now some fingers are still swollen from the icy love bites from these northern winds. Even in still weather the air here burrows into the skin like a thousand needles. In spite of it, I don’t feel cold. There’s something very different about walking through a couple of degrees on the plus side, sleet and black landscapes as opposed to this icy chill hovering over pastel-white mountains and valleys. I feel oddly yet pleasantly warm in its cool embrace. Only my hands suffer.

I hope you all had amazing holidays, that your New Year was peaceful, and I look forward to continuing to share this journey with you this year. Welcome, 2018! Much love and many, many snowy hugs to you all. ❤

 

 

 

 

Dressed In Winter And Taking A Holiday

Hello, dear ones! It has been way too long since my last post, but not for the lack of trying. Somehow it seems like nature and I are in sync, both stuck in a phase of trying lately, and the results we aim for don’t get realised at all. I look out the window and feel a sense of connectedness with the winds, with the earth, and the snow now falling once again, as opposed to rain the past couple of days. Nature appears to be struggling with its attempts at dressing our fields and forests in winter. We have had some colder days, and earlier this week on Tuesday, I drove Lilli and myself through a whirl of snow into Rauma for her art school. There was so much of it I felt myself drifting when staring out the windscreen at the large and hypnotizing flakes being hurled at us. But we made it there and home. And the next morning we woke to my spoken wishes the evening before come true —  magical soft sunlight over a white, crisp and misty winter wonderland.

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I forgot about my coffee and threw my coat on, then spent over an hour walking around the farm as I aimed my lens in all directions. The air was so invigorating. Oh, and there is no way I could ever possibly describe in words the light that hits these buildings, and the mellow warmth in the tones reflected in spite of the cold. I feel like I could live in winter for an eternity and never grow tired of it. What drains me — and others, I’m sure — about winter these days are all those in-between days, when there is no snow yet no bare ground, either. Just a sea of grey slush. Makes me wish in the most deepest and secret parts of me that we lived even further north.

But, of course, I can’t move the farm. The entire village, even. Three hundred years of history and heritage isn’t something easily walked away from. And it’s just one of those cozy-feel day dreams, anyway. It wouldn’t even take a day to drive up to those vast, white rolling hills and mountains, and that is a blessing in itself. Not to mention our farming wouldn’t work up on the tundra. I suppose we could become reindeer farmers? Not sure Jay would buy into that, though. Haha

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I think it so very easily happens, no matter what we wish or dream about, that we begin taking it for granted. Especially when we struggle. Life is so full of ups and downs, and when we enter those valleys the dark can press us so heavily that we forget to look at the beauty of it, too. This is where I have been for some time now, wandering through a deep and gloomy haze, but for the past couple of days I sense an adjustment. I am getting ready to accept that this is where I am. Now. I am tired, exhausted even, and uninspired most of the time. I get sucked into a vortex together with all my better judgment, my plans and creative ideas, yet when I try to grab at even one thing it scuttles off into the fog and leaves me empty and crestfallen. The smallest setback leaves me standing at the end of the world, or makes me want to go to bed and sleep until it’s all over. In many situations it seems all that negativity I used to carry around, ghosts of old, and bad habits converge on me and I buckle under their attacks.

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I looked at this ladder up against the window to what is to be our bedroom, and I thought to myself I didn’t even take it back after I cleaned the windows. It has been sitting there for a couple of months, now, if not more. But do you know what I also see? That old birch and how I love looking at it when I get my morning coffee. I have so often taken photos from that window, and that birch always makes every image so beautiful.

I think it’s one thing — a good thing — to be able to turn toward the good things, to count our blessings. But something I struggle with is to look those ghosts of mine in the eye and just let them be as they are. I often treat them like my worst enemies, like diseases I need to abolish, demons to be exorcised. Or simply just problems and flaws that need to be fixed. That, in turn, leads to frustration and anger which I bombard myself with. The harder I fight, the harder they fight, and maybe it isn’t so strange I find it a losing battle. Those ghosts are me. Some say kill them with kindness, and I also remember from my childhood days what my Dad used to read from the Bible about loving our enemies. I never was told and I never could have grasped in the first place, anyway, that we could be our very own worst enemy. But I have learned this in later years, so maybe I should try to stop exiling those wailing wraiths in the deepest recesses of my mind? Maybe I should treat them with kindness and compassion? After all, they are reflections of me at times when I felt neither. I could try and see the strength in their survival, their persistence and perseverance, in spite of the anger and hatred they have been and are victims of. At one point in my life they were a bigger part of me and they helped me survive, if maybe not in the best ways.

To love the most when it’s deserved the least could possibly be the greatest power there is, but the hardest. I think that is especially true when it comes to the self. I have so often wondered how do I love myself, anyway? What does it mean? I still can’t grasp an answer for that, but perhaps it’s a start to stop trying to divide myself, which seems to be exactly what I do when I look at those parts of myself as a problem to be fixed.

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Oh, you know, I have started this next paragraph now several times over — each time with something different — because I keep zoning out when I look past my screen and into the snowfall outside the window. I want to tell you about what I have been up to these past couple of weeks, the ups and downs, my stress-induced ulcer and the deep doubts I have felt in pursuing this creative and artistic lifestyle, but as I mentioned further up I am lost in this vortex where I can’t grasp things. I start to write something and then forget what I was getting to. This is my way, but it’s so much more intense lately, and probably the very reason why I haven’t updated. But after that beautiful winter morning, and all the photos I took, I have little by little managed to summon motivation to write in spite of the time it takes.

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At one moment, when I stood on the road behind our barn on that magical morning, I heard the call of swans. With the white haze and glow from the sun I had trouble pinpointing where they were, and when I finally got the focus of the lens to agree with me, they were so far away. I do remember thinking, though, that I’m not the only one out doing things in the last minute. I’m not actually sure when birds emigrate or if swans even do, but a couple of more groups like this one passed over my head while I was outside that day.

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Another big motivator right now in writing this post is to give you all a sign of life, but also to tell you that I have decided to consciously take a Christmas holiday. I will be doing the same with Instagram — perhaps more importantly with Instagram, since lately I have felt such an obligation to post, and that wasn’t at all why I started sharing my photos.

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It’s so strange how when I write these big posts and get to the end I feel like I haven’t said what I really wanted to say. But, once again, it’s probably a case of that incredible inability right now to link things together. I can’t even make sense of the words I have written. I want to erase it all and just post the photos, but at the same time I don’t want to hide this part of me because it’s very possible this is just one of the seasons within me. One of the cycles which I go through from time to time. So instead of closing the doors and telling visitors she can’t see you right now, she’s not doing well, I just want to say this is me, too. I’m not sick. I’m not unwell. I’m just a little all over the place right now. I want to be okay with the way I am at this moment in time and let myself be just like this.

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And at last I want to thank all of you who have signed up to follow my blog. I don’t think I expected any more than just a few, even if I hoped. Either way it has really meant so much to me you found something here to capture your interest. I also enjoy so much to see your thoughts and reflections over what I have written, the photos I have shared, and it warms my heart that you are still here, even if I am absent for longer periods or in spite of my texts being a little messy — at times more so, haha. Even you who don’t comment and give me a like. Thank you. I look at the traffic to my blog and no matter how much or little reaches any of you, I am thankful for the opportunity to connect.

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A big hug to all of you. Have the most amazing Christmas holidays, and I will see you in the new year. All my love. ❤