When Words Hurt

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t overly sensitive to what others say. At times it has felt like that were even more true when others were the subject of criticism, but I later on realised that when I am on the receiving end, I bite down hard and try to pretend it doesn’t touch me. When in fact it cuts to the bone. I just take some time to react. Do you know what I mean? Like I don’t want to face it, or that I try to tell myself it doesn’t mean something is wrong with me — it is just this other person’s opinion of me or of what I do… or don’t do.

thoughtful-in-the-field

So many times in the past when I have found out an opinion about me that made me feel inadequate or that I wasn’t doing all that I should or not doing it well enough, I set it upon myself to do better. So much more than I had to. And it always resulted in abandoning my own dreams.

Some of us, it seems, are able to receive criticism and harsh words and they just roll off like water droplets on feathers. Whereas others, like myself, take them to heart and then try to do everything in our power to gain approval and praise. I should say, I used to.

holding-on-and-letting-go

After my breakdown back in 2014 — quitting my education, going down in hours at work, taking out sick-leave, only to resign and move to Sweden — I had had enough of being weak, being easily influenced, having no sense of self. I simply couldn’t handle even a regular day with regular moods. If I saw no smiles, if the tone of someone’s voice was anything other than light or even happy, I would break on the inside and take it as a personal failure. My entire purpose in life was to make sure everyone around me were content, and if they weren’t, it was my fault. I had to do better. I had to do more.

After years living like a bright flame on a candle, I burned down until there was nothing left to draw from.

But then I started working on it. I wanted to be strong and independent. To live a stable life in which words and criticism, others’ moods or bad days that are such a natural part of life wouldn’t unhinge me.

During this time, I came to understand I had, in fact, been strong. Incredibly much so. So much more stronger than I had to be. Over the years I had built up thick steel walls around myself and tamped down hard on those parts of me that had received so much criticism, weren’t appreciated or were misunderstood. But it was hard work, because I have also been surrounded by empathetic and understanding people. This resulted in a lot of switching back and forth. Walking around like a human mood and emotion barometer to get a reading. How do I act around this person? It was exhausting. Sometimes — and especially in my mid-to-later twenties — I couldn’t tell how I needed to be which caused so much confusion and ambivalence. I would start asking. What can I do? What do you need? Just tell me what I need to do.

letting-it-go-now

That a lifetime of this would go away in a couple of years isn’t something I have had any illusions of. I have consciously told myself it will take time and that I must let it. To force a behaviour that doesn’t come spontaneously is what nearly broke me, and the same goes for getting myself to where I want to be. Where I feel I am meant to be. For myself. Within myself. From the core.

So when I heard today that someone thought I should get a real job, those old, well-used cogs from decades of habitual use began to turn. I’ll start looking for a job. I’ll do whatever it takes. I know I can and I will just have to make it work. Somehow I will. I felt the shut-down. It took over my entire body. Like cold, liquid iron crawling over me and through me to protect me from those feelings of inadequacy. But that mechanism failed somehow and I felt so awful. Like all my emotions and my entire past came flooding over me. Yet I was oddly composed. I told Jay when we got back from Rauma, I am going outside to catch this light before the sun sets completely.

sleeping-fields

Instead of breaking on the inside, and instead of raving and justifying myself as I have in the past, my mind took me to these harvested fields and I had clung to that until we got back to our farm. Let it out. Express it. Let it go.

I used to be full of ideas once, and I couldn’t seem to even stop myself from letting that out in various ways. Some time before my breakdown, I lost all of it. I loved to draw, to craft, to write, to sing, to grab on to any creative outlet and just go for it. Until one day I couldn’t. I was empty. A hollow shell. Even if I felt so full of chaos I might crack open. Those times were my own personal Dark Ages. Music didn’t even move or uplift me as it once had.

Slowly — so very slowly — over the last two years, I have felt it returning. At times it has been like a wild thing crossing paths with a human out in the wilderness. It is curious, it wants to find out, but it isn’t entirely certain of this human. Is it dangerous? Is it a threat? But ever so carefully, it might come closer. And when it does, I get to feel and be that flaming passion to create. I love that. With all my heart and soul. Nothing else I have experienced this far in life leaves me so connected, so open and free as when I get to follow the ribbon of creativity.

watching-the-sky

As I lied there in the field, in-between running back and forth to my camera to press the shutter for another set of timed images (I haven’t gotten a new remote shutter yet), I looked up at the clouds. They were the deepest blue, fringed by illuminated light from the sun. The earth beneath me was cold and the air like chilled wings fluttering across the surface of my skin. I felt oddly warm though. A sense of peace came over me, and I forgot about what I had heard, didn’t get up to press the shutter — I stayed there, unmoving, and just watched the movements of the darks and light above me. I knew then that what had upset me so much to begin with is irrelevant. Words of others are theirs. It won’t change me just as I wouldn’t ever go out of my way again to try and change their opinion. It is entirely and fully outside of myself. Just a passing thing of no substance.

It isn’t what others say that matters, it’s what we do, isn’t it? Words are words and so flighty. They may hurt, but all I can do is to continue this path I have chosen. I know it will be difficult for some to see what I see — especially since this kind of work I do isn’t the traditional nine-to-five and doesn’t produce numbers in a bank account yet. Once it bears fruit that can be seen and touched, it will be accepted, I know that, but I can’t chase those results nor do I want to. I would frighten that beautiful and wild thing out into the wilderness again.

But I also know that what I do is good enough, you know? I cannot shake the sense I am on the right path. It is just a matter of time and I have to and want to be in the now to take it in. I will achieve what I have set out to do, but only if I nurture the connection to that which allows me to create. Belief. Trust. In myself and what I do.

running-in-the-fields

It is now Monday, and another week of opportunities has begun. I wish and hope with all my heart that you, too, dear friends and fellow folk believe in yourselves. Trust in that inner voice, even if it is just a whisper. Even whispers gain strength when moving closer.

Have a wonderful week. Much love. ❤

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Being Overwhelmed

Hey, everyone! I hope you are all having a good weekend so far. I got up just after six this morning. Earlier this week we started tearing down old wallpaper in what is to become our new bedroom, and before that it feels like I haven’t gotten out to photograph as much as I’d like to. So when I woke up this morning, I decided to grab my camera gear and step outside. I’m so happy I did. Starting the day outside–that crisp air, the silence, the rising autumn sun on my face and the smells of the forest and our fields–is like chicken soup for the soul.

When I started this post I had no intentions of writing as much as I did, but I feel a lot better after getting these things off my chest, and even if you don’t read it all or only look at the photos, I am so thankful for your visit. ❤

Soulfulness

Do you ever feel like there is so much you have to do, so many things you would like to do, but no matter how hard you try to plan it and structure it nothing seems to get done? And it doesn’t matter if I sit back and see I have, in fact, accomplished a lot. All those things that were so important (to me or to others around me) pile up and pile up. I go through so many stages. First, I sit down and write in my journal; I make a list of all the things in my head. Then I re-write it in priority order. Once that is done I estimate the time the tasks will take, re-organise the priorities if need be, then write up a to-do list with as realistic time frames as possible, because it’s such a great feeling to see all those tasks crossed off the list, right?

And then it works. For about a week, maybe two. Slowly, I skip a thing here or a thing there, thinking I have done so well, and one thing won’t hurt. Suddenly a month has passed, and I am an exhausted, moody mess again. So is the house. And then it goes out over my family, which makes me so sad and annoyed with myself.

DayOne

But here is our new bedroom. What will be our new bedroom. For years now we have slept in Jay’s childhood bedroom. It wasn’t a living area to begin with–it lies door to door with the attic, and didn’t even have stairs once upon a time. The ceiling is really low, too. I can reach it if I stretch upward, and I don’t even have to get on my tiptoes. That is saying something since I am not very tall. And it really looks like a kid’s room–it even has those glow-in-the-dark stars and planets on the ceiling. They are cute, but it was time for our own bedroom, you know? The entire house still needs de-cluttering and some love, but I do try my hardest to take it a day at a time. Either way, when I came back home from my studies December last year, we talked things over and I set up some plans and goals.

This house is nearly 200 square meters (not counting the basement floor, where the shower and sauna is) and the walls on the main floor are almost three meters tall. For someone who is 165 cm, that’s a challenge to work with. I remember the struggle when I put up wallpapers in our living room, so I decided to paint the bedroom. Jay helps when he can, but he has so much else to do that all these renovation projects are more or less up to me to plan and carry through. Jay’s father helped me with some of the wallpapers in the living room and I am so grateful.

HelpingHand
Jay came to help me when I was swearing my head off for not reaching. Tall men are so handy, right? 😉

I often think of the women who lived in this house before me, and even though the house used to be smaller before the addition in the 1940’s, I admire how they kept this place sparkling and tidy. Jay’s mother, for example, is a pro. She kept this house so beautiful always. All the furniture, all the ornaments, all the things gathering dust were spotless. I think Loke is the first dog that has ever lived in this house, by the way, and since he sheds so much hair I have to vacuum at least once a day or it ends up in our underwear. Or my camera! And then there’s all the windows… Worst thing I know! Haha I love this house, though, and all the freedom that comes with living out here on the countryside. So even if I am drowning in all the work, I wouldn’t ever trade it for an apartment. I’m like a captain of a ship–I’ll go down with it.

SneakyLilli

Still I go through these cycles of being on top of it all until I sink so deep I can hardly breathe. I know it’s wreaking havoc on my health–I’m turning thirty-seven in December and I am already getting gray hairs! Not that I mind them. I think it looks charming. But that’s not why they have started popping up, and my restless, light sleeping patterns during the nights get more and more persistent. I start yoga again next weekend, so that is something I know will help.

I don’t carry any illusions of that the house will shrink or that it will ever take less time to clean it all, but I do know that during the two years I studied in Sweden, only the basics were taken care of here. So regardless of all my planning and reminding myself to be realistic and do one thing at a time–I will get it all worked out in the end–right now, I feel like I am coming apart at the seams. I have been back home for eight months now and I was supposed to have gotten things back into order by now.

On top of that, I have to be ready to pitch in with farm work whenever I am needed. Thankfully, the most time-consuming jobs here at the farm take place a few weeks during spring and a few weeks in autumn. And I love doing that job, too. I love my entire life. So that makes me even more frustrated and perplexed when I get so down and moody. Do you know what I mean?

All this while grabbing every opportunity to build on my own personal dreams and goals of a career as a photographer and artist. I am constantly working for those extra special images for an online gallery. I have said to myself that I will have a web shop up by the end of this year–that is my goal. I am currently waiting for Printler‘s (a Swedish online shop for photographic art prints) international launch, which is supposed to happen this autumn. It feels like a good place to start. At first I thought of getting in contact with a printing firm myself, but then I thought of how I am basically no one yet, and to register as a private business right now seems odd. What do I tell them? Hey, I love taking photos and I want to sell them. Can I get a business registration number? Haha Or maybe that is how it goes? I honestly don’t know.

TheStruggleIsReal

All this said, I also know that breaks are needed. If I keep pushing through when I am running on empty, I will end up flat on the floor. It’s finding the balance that for me is the most difficult. Getting into a routine that works. When I feel good, when I have energy, I just go, go, go. Stopping for a break when I have flow is the toughest challenge out of them all. I don’t know if it’s a subconscious thing because some part of me knows how much harder I have to work when I hit those lows, so I squeeze the up-swings for all they are worth. How great wouldn’t it be to learn to hit the pause button at those times and get an overall good enough flow?

WanderingSoul

When I am out in nature, it all comes so effortlessly. I am in harmony with my surroundings and it’s like nature itself guides me on wordless levels. Communicates with a deeper part of me and I don’t think of when or how or where. When it’s time to move on, I move on. It becomes more basic, perhaps. More physical. Instinctual. The course of the sun, the guidance of the wind, the gentle whisper of trees and streams. Jay tells me sometimes to go outside, reminds me it will make me feel better. When I am inside too long it’s like I slowly become deaf to my own self. Does that make sense?

NatureFriends

I heard the strangest noise when I was sitting in the field this morning. It was a call of awareness, to let me know I wasn’t alone. I almost got scared but turned, and this deer came skipping across the ditch from the oat field next to the barley field where I was. We looked at each other, and as I slowly turned my camera, it kept coming closer. For what seemed like the longest time, it grazed along the edge, munched on the foliage there, while looking at me from time to time. I snapped a few photos, and it cocked its head when my camera clicked but didn’t seem to mind. A few shots later, it bounced across the field and disappeared into the forest.

SerenityVibes

These quiet morning moments unravel all the knots and tension in both body and soul, and I always come home with a sense of revival. I hope to find it in me to remember this better, especially now when autumn truly is opening its doors to the year’s most vibrant season of burning sunsets and glowing canopies.

I wish you a wonderful evening and great weekend! Much love. ❤