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. ❤

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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?

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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.

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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. ❤