Staying True To Yourself

Hello dearest friends and readers. I sat down last night to write a post but it took me long into the small hours of the morning, and in the end I went to bed close to tears. Not only because I was just tired, but because in spite of planning for an earlier bedtime, my tasks drag out for so much longer than they normally do. On top of that I am haunted by this impression I get nothing done, and all those photo and art/craft projects I planned have fallen completely to the sidelines.

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The “big” road that goes toward Lappi town and Rauma.
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Our farm as seen from where you turn off the big road and into the village.

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I took these photos a couple of weeks ago and meant to post them to show you what our little village looks like. Since then, most of the leaves have fallen to the ground. Some trees hang on to them stubbornly, still, but those birches in the last photos are now completely bare.

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We have also had so much rain coming down that the creek next to the fields below the house has flooded. After clearing the meadow I showed you some photos from in a previous post, some of the hay and weed piles remained in the meadow. With all that rain, those piles ended up partially in water and it was so much work to go down there the other day to get it onto a trailer. I walked through water halfway up my boots to the river bank to move it closer to the tractor. Old Fergu (the 1960’s Massey Ferguson) would have gotten stuck if we had taken it into the flooded areas.

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Last week I took a few days break from Instagram to focus solely on painting our bedroom-to-be. I don’t know what is up with me this autumn — usually I am so full of energy and inspiration that I don’t even have to try. Instead I feel like I am moments away from losing my mind. So I put everything else on hold to be able to paint one room. As I write it, it looks so silly but the only way I get things done right now is to grab onto whatever motivation hits me as it comes. Not a moment later, or I lose it. So that is one of the main reasons I haven’t updated. I didn’t even take any photos of the progress because my singular mantra was paint paint paint. Get it done.

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Of course, now it has come to a stand-still again. I was missing some things to fix the wooden panelling around the closets, and then I waited to go into town. Even knowing I would lose my momentum. I can’t put into words how frustrated I am with myself right now, haha. If I don’t laugh at it the frustration would turn into annoyance and I would end up in tears — which can help. Do you ever find that after having cried, all that which was bundled up inside you disappeared with the tears?

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This bird ran around in the forest next to one of our fields, burrowing down into sand and dirt, only to run along again and disappear. I have no idea what bird it is — do you?

So much is coloured by the strange grip melancholy has on me lately, but sometimes it is like that, isn’t it? In spite of our best efforts, in spite of maybe having had a really productive and energetic period, these lows arrive when nothing works. Not even photography. Either I haven’t felt like it, or I have forced myself outside only to come home and be overwhelmed by disappointment. More so than usual. Which I know is because of my mood.

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But I love taking photos after rain. All that dew covering the world outside wraps nature in a mystical mantle and I feel like I enter another realm. The sun may peek from behind steely clouds, but the light is mellow. Sombre. Captivating. In tune with my soul, which I sometimes think is toned in blue. As the days grow shorter I sense a change within me, but it also brings the challenge of keeping balance. A challenge in which I seem to have lost the upper hand. Instead of becoming immersed in a world of ideas and projects, I have this autumn slipped right through a rabbit hole to find myself all but apathetic. With only sporadic yet sudden and unpredictable onslaughts of motivation.

So despite my adoration for sombreness, I didn’t like any of the photos I took in the past week and almost deleted them completely. At least I managed to shake myself enough to say you will get past this, be spontaneous but not rash, be impulsive but responsibly.

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Chaos. That is what I have felt a touch of in the past week. Thoughts flit from one thing to another — a million and one things can go through my head in one day yet by the time I go to bed I remember none of it. Only that I had so many things to do and not even a fraction got done.

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Aspen trees are my absolutely favourite trees. I just love them so much.
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And the rustling sound of these leaves in the wind is unlike any other.

So last night I battled with myself whether to write or not. Even though I want to share my journey in all its colours and shades, I can’t help but ask where to drawn the line. Is there a limit?

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During those days, when I hardly looked at my feed on Instagram, didn’t sit down to edit photos nor did anything with my photography or my artistry, I wondered about trying to find a job to earn money. The thought made me ill. I have never and doubt I ever could be motivated by money. Even if that money would allow me to get new camera equipment so I could stop stressing about my current camera not being capable of certain things, or the fact that the best lens I use right now isn’t even my own. Not even that trumps the lump in my stomach I got at the thought of going into a workplace to do my nine-to-five. I have done it and every single time I end up having a mental breakdown.

I mentioned these thoughts out loud the other day to someone, and I instantly felt that familiar outsider sensation. Like there is something wrong with me. Why can’t I be like others and just go to work? I managed to squash it quickly, but in that brief moment I wished my words back and felt so incredibly small. Insignificant. Inadequate. Just a failure. In spite of the person passing no judgment and offering only encouragement.

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The thing is, if I do not have the freedom to change my position or my surroundings when I know I need to, I feel trapped and can’t function. I am that sensitive and I can’t seem to do anything about it. I spent years and so much effort trying to fit into the traditional work place and I still suffer from how deeply it disrupted my own sense of self. When I have to fight to be myself on a near daily basis — to me that is a strong enough reminder how capable we humans are to change. Even change that is not in tune with who we are. And it breaks my heart when I think and wonder about how many of us force ourselves into careers and jobs to secure a pension for when we get old enough to retire. That we would have go through half a lifetime (and more) and many times not even then be able to do the things we really want.

I am fortunate, though. Truly blessed. I have a partner who doesn’t mind me not going to work — and we can live on his income. It worries me all the same. That I am not doing my part, even if I know he doesn’t think like that. In spite of having reminded me time and again that it really is all right, these thoughts and the accompanying sense of inadequacy wells up inside me when I think of how I contribute nothing toward paying the bills. I can’t put money into my daughter’s fund. On top of it all, I have a loan from my studies in Sweden which I am supposed to begin paying back next year.

When I came back home before Christmas last year, my entire being was convinced I would figure it out within a year. That I would by the end of 2017 be in a position to at least start paying off my loan. Yet here I am, with a little over two months left of the year, and the reality is close to suffocating. In spite of all this, I also know I won’t give up. Isn’t it strange? I still believe it will work out in the midst of my doubts and the odds seemingly stacked against me. That belief is the one thing that keeps me above the surface, the one light that I aim at the shadows when they begin to drag me below. I can’t explain it, nor do I understand it. But I will hold on to it all the same and continue. I have given up too much in my life to do so again. And it has been at these exact times, when all has felt impossible, that I have dropped everything and run away.

Not again. Never again.

If chaos is what I am right now, then so be it. I have my family, I live on a beautiful farm, I can walk out the door and be embraced by nature. I have you. And even if I am disappointed in my camera, I can still capture the journey with it in the best way I know how.

I will leave you with the last two verses of a poem I read a couple of years ago. The Guy in the Glass by Dale Wimbrow. I hope your week has gone well and I wish you a lovely weekend ahead. Much love. ❤

You may be like Jack Horner and “chisel” a plum,
And think you’re a wonderful guy,
But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum
If you can’t look him straight in the eye.

You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartaches and tears
If you’ve cheated the guy in the glass.

 

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The Meaning In The Journey

Good morning, dear friends and folk! When I got up this morning, Loke had left me a little present on the dining room floor. Sometimes, if I get up really early, he is still so tired that he doesn’t come to greet me, but if I myself hadn’t been so tired in spite of getting up later, I would have understood why there was no happy bubbas anywhere in sight to tell me good morning. He was very, very ashamed of his little accident.

For many days now I have meant to do a blog post, but as I sit here with my big cup of coffee and write, my mind is so hazy I can’t even remember all the things that have gotten in the way. And the photos, which I have wanted so badly to show you, didn’t get ready until last night. I can sit with photos for hours spread out over a few days, but I don’t think I so far have spent this much time on editing as I did with these. So today I thought I would be sharing a lot of photos. I had hundreds but managed to scale it down to about twenty. I am splitting them into two posts, though, since the words once again took me in another direction.

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I think I have mentioned that very often I like mellow colours and tones in my images. So it’s so rare that I touch vibrance and saturation on the colour bars in Lightroom. Other than to take it down, of course. Now that autumn is here, I realised this and subsequently how little I know of bringing out colour. Either I mess up the saturation so that it feels like everything is screaming at me, or if I want to make a specific colour pop, another suffers. Am I making any sense? And then I want to keep it true to the colour palette we see with our eyes, while still adding my feelings into it.

It’s difficult to look up tutorials; I basically just have to sit with the sliders until my heart does a little somersault and I know it’s right. No tutorial can tell me which settings are in tune with my emotions, nor any of these thousands of pre-sets for Lightroom I have noticed are around. Kind of like how no one can tell us what our purpose is — we have to figure that out for ourselves by searching within.

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To have a purpose in life, as many have mentioned in books I have read over the years, is so important — if not the most important thing. Without it we seem to float through the motions as the days pass. I like to think of it as a compass by which to navigate. It gives us direction, and in any situation, if we have that, we will look at solutions that will keep us steady on our feet. When there is a fork in the road, it will give us a hint which one might be the right one to choose in order to stay true to our purpose. Our true self.

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All that said, I am not yet entirely certain of my purpose. Still I don’t think that is an uncommon thing, and especially not since I for so long have tried to dance to borrowed tunes and loaned ideals. I have wanted to appear to be on the right path, know what I want, do the right thing. Oh, those perceived expectations and notions. But I can honestly say that I am coming to be at peace with that it’s okay. We all do what we in any given moment think is right, don’t we? We go by what we know today and try to make the best of it. As we gain experience and ability to shift our perceptions, we move. I don’t know the right formula for it, but I do know all these paths — steps through failure and success — I have taken lead me to where I am today. Because I was meant to. Because I needed to.

To make mistakes, to realise a choice I made wasn’t the best but yet necessary is part of the journey I believe, and it is only recently I have been able to stop to release a breath and forgive myself for them. Some of them. Self-forgiveness is such a hard thing, don’t you think?

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Ever since I got up this morning I have been coughing and I still have this congested feeling in my chest. As I said, last night I finally finished editing all these photos, and first I thought I would have a date with Poldark — the newer British-American BBC series about a man in 18th century Cornwall who comes home from the war in America to find life quite changed. I love the music, the scenery, and the mood in it. But. Then I opened up a new draft and decided to eat my carrots with dip sauce and write instead. Just as I began, Jay came to tell me he needed my help outside. So I spent the remainder of my (very late) evening among rumbling machines and whooshing grain. The mist outside was so thick I could see the pillar so clearly when shining the flashlight out into the night. We both thought of what marvelous photos that could have produced, yet neither of us know how to photograph in complete darkness.

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My job was to stand ready to run and shut hatches when the silo was full. Jay sat up close to the rafters and shouted down over the noise when it was time.

The grain dryer has been going day and night and we have used up so much fuel it’s insane. It has been so wet here, and before we transfer the grain to the silos the moisture has to go below a specific number. Jay showed me how to use the knifty meter and how to start the necessary machinery to get the grain moving in order to be able to take a sample.

It is like a maze out there, with all the stairs to the different levels and all the silos within the building, which has been expanded over the years to house more silos. I would bring my camera out there if it weren’t for all the dust. However, Jay just got a camera meant to withstand dirt and even water — he submerged it in a sink full of water and took a selfie! Haha. So I will see if I can borrow it and show you around.

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As I walked around between one of the containers the grain goes through before entering another pipe system and to look up toward where Jay was, awaiting his signal, I had much room for thoughts. While I have to ask Jay to pace himself sometimes when I’m out working with him — he gets so excited about explaining and very often spices it up with storytelling — once it’s time for the actual work, I can be alone with my thoughts. I really love that about this part of farm work. Sure there is a lot of bureaucracy — rules and regulations to abide by — administrative work, and the general business side of it, but since I am actually not employed nor am I listed as a worker on this farm, there are aspects I never deal with. But I do want to learn and it is part of life on this farm. Jay’s mother did these things, too, even if she also had a job to go to.

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While I might not be sure yet of my purpose, I still have a feeling. It’s kind of like I can sense that compass, but with the daily challenges of my past and on the days I struggle extra hard, I sometimes think of it as fumbling through mist. I might catch glimpses of shapes and silhouettes, but then they move just out of reach to distinguish. They are there, though — I sense it. And that is what keeps me searching. Can you relate?

Before I go on to await my first practice session with driving the harvester, I would like to show you one more photo I forgot in my last post from my walk through the forest.

 

Since I have talked about it so much, I think you might remember my search for that forest lake? This isn’t that. But as I drove out of Lappi that day, after a few bends in the road I passed this little tarn. On my way back from the walk, I stopped here and took a few photos. Do you also remember how I said I felt I was meant to be met by failure to reach that lake on my first attempts? When I saw this little tarn, with only one little summer cottage to the left (outside the frame), I knew I had found my backup. If I can’t reach that lake in the forest, this will be the one. I was so amazed by how clear it was, which my editing doesn’t really show, haha. But how beautiful it is.

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There have been many times in the past I have been so focused on the search — the end destination — that I haven’t stopped to see what lies along the road. That day on my way home I first drove straight past the tarn, but then my foot eased off the excelerator. Something inside my chest tugged. I couldn’t leave it behind. I had to stop. So I reversed onto the shoulder and stepped out to truly take it in. Trees, bushes and tall grass stood in my way, but the shore was right there, I had but to step right through. So I did, and I sat down on the edge in the wet undergrowth. That was when I noticed the murky shadows of sea weed — so well defined in the clear water. A thrill of excitement and gutting fear went through me as I tried to imagine myself getting into that water. I honestly don’t know if I will be able to do it. But I am going to try, so long as I don’t let these colder days become my excuse not to.

It’s that feeling I have to cling to, those faint whispers of the child of creativity that so long ago stopped coming by to tap my shoulder, after too many times having been told not now. She is there, though. I sense her, and as someone said recently, as I shared briefly of these thoughts in a post on Instagram, you will dance again. I believe so. With all my heart. And this time, I will keep dancing until we both move as though I never stopped. As one.

Part of this journey are you, dear friends and readers. When I sit down to write and share my thoughts, hopes, and dreams, I feel I am connecting to that part of myself I have neglected. I may not update as regularly and often as I used to or as I like, but so very often during my day I think of things I want to tell you and show you. And when you share your own reflections, your own dreams and inner yearnings — that means so much to me. It strengthens my belief in that to give of ourselves, just as we are, is something to be treasured. It is treasured. So my deepest, heartfelt thanks for all your words. I read and cherish them and will answer as soon as I can.

I wish you all a wonderful weekend, and if all goes well, I’ll be able to finish the other post before next week starts.

Much love. ❤

The Seasons Within

Hi, everyone. Are you also looking outside and wondering what is happening with the weather? On this farm the weather is really important. We have temperature and precipitation measuring devices all over the place and apps in our phones. It’s a topic on the lips of my partner and his father every day. It is strange, though, how we go through all the seasons in one day, sometimes even within the span of a couple of hours. Or less! And to top it off, I have gone and caught the flu. My partner and daughter had it last week. But it’s good that we take turns, so there is at least one functional person keeping this house running!

I would like to share with you some thoughts I had last night, when I just couldn’t go to sleep, regardless of being dead-tired and feverish. I got out of bed and fetched my journal to empty my mind (and it worked! Yay!). But this morning I continued thinking about it. Growth. Ambition. Getting things done according to plan. But sometimes it just doesn’t work out, does it? No matter how hard we try, in spite of our best intentions and planning. I was frustrated that I couldn’t get my next instalment of My Love For The High Coast published. I had written in my Editorial Calendar that I will publish one piece from the series every week, and one week had passed since the last one. But my mind and body craved bed and sleep and the harder I fought the sicker I felt. So I wrote in my journal and came to the conclusion that even though I would like to think that I can be at peace with things and accept them as they come, as they are, I still continue pushing myself. Too hard. Way too hard.

I tend to come to a stand-still, which is something I am sure we all feel from time to time. Nothing happens. We’re not necessarily taking a step backwards, but we’re not going forward, either. Kind of like with the weather right now. It’s spring, but the world is yellowed and gray. We have sown the first seeds of the year but they won’t grow when temperatures drop below zero at night.

All these things spun around in my mind, and I then wrote this is also part of the process. This is also the journey. Maybe this is what matters right now? The seemingly insignificant. The stand-still.

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All that grows has stages of appearing still, not moving. At those times, deeper processes are at work, though. The mysteries and hidden wonders of life. And in these moments, perhaps we are to remain as we are? Take a breath. Not even reflect. Just be and watch.

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Because that which is not visible or even discernible needs energy, too. And if I keep digging, keep pushing, I disrupt the balance. The balance of nature, which I am a part of. The seasons within us and around us. I can’t affect the weather, but I can try to understand. And I thought about the chaotic fluctuations between warmth and cold, snow and rain. Maybe nature is finding its balance, stabilising itself. And maybe that is why I find this time of the year most taxing, usually suffering depression and anemia and having to take a ton of iron and other supplements to raise my blood levels. This year especially–I can’t remember having dropped this low. Not in this way. Just a month ago I had a scare; I felt nothing and the emptiness nearly took my breath away. I was pale as snow, washed out gray and ashen!

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So maybe we are all finding our balance right now, thawing out of winter. Spring will arrive, just as surely as that awful moment of nothingness passed. A warm breeze will sweep across our fields, the earth will soak up the sun, regain its energies. One day soon we will wake up to buds on the trees, and the world will burst with those first vibrant sprouts. Nature will shine. I will shine.

It’s all a process–it’s another season of life. And I’m a part of it.

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