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.
the-farm-from-afar
Our farm as seen from where you turn off the big road and into the village.

the-road-home

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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.

flooded-field-in-sunlight

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.

hay-on-a-trailer

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.

a-forest-road

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?

a-forest-bird
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.

rowan-berries

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.

birch-leaves-whirling

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?

wind-blown-web-threads

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.

rowan-berries-in-water-puddle

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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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. ❤