• Bewusst Leben,  Sarines Stöde

    Endings & beginnings … and everything in between

    Aaand there’s more. I think this post will just be an attempt to recap this summer so far.

    We celebrated the summer solstice with a bunch of friends (old ones and new ones) at our house. Since most of them came from Gothenburg and Stockholm, they stayed for several days and we had a little bit of a collective thing going, which was cool. Lots of barbecuing, talking, hiking, even swimming in the lake (the Swedish summer has been more of a „summer“ this year, but that weekend was great). Plus we made flower wreaths, which I am mentioning because it somehow was really important to me to follow this Swedish tradition. As it turned out, my friend La who was coming felt the same way. Maybe it’s because we’re German … Anyway, as we were standing in a ditch that day, picking flowers for our wreaths, a farmer drove by and held up seven fingers. Luckily we’d read The Six Bullerby Children, otherwise we might not have understood that he was trying to tell us that we’re supposed to pick seven flowers and put under our pillows that night to dream of our future husbands. I don’t know if La dreamed of him, but she seemed to have found the guy alright. 🙂

    A few weeks later I went to Stockholm to buy a car. Peter’s uncle is really into cars, but when he bought his third, his wife insisted that he had to get rid of one. Lucky for us, who were looking for one. One that might be better for someone as sensitive to magnetic fields and electrosmog as Peter. The trip felt like a mini-vacation. It might have something to do with Peter’s aunt and uncle having a jacuzzi in their backyard … Plus the stop on my way home at some friends‘ „house“. I say „house“ because they actually live in a church, and a pretty cool one, too.

    And then, the big one: after several weeks of feeling like my days at my job are nearing their end, everything happened really fast. Last week I suddenly had the impulse to quit talking about that I need to move on but start looking. I usually don’t even look at job postings. I believe that most of them are usually already given away within an organization and they just put them out as a necessary formality. But the task of trying to figure out where I’d want to go seemed to daunting at that moment, so I decided I’d at least see if one particular institution had anything interesting up (I really have been wanting to work at this place ever since I moved here). Well, they did. No big deal, it was ONLY MY DREAM JOB???!!! Friday I had a talk with by bosses, and they confirmed my feeling that we’d come to the end of the road (the reason being lack of money, not lack of work). I don’t know how many partings go this cordially – but I can recommend it. All three of us shared the feeling that the saddest part about this would be not working together anymore. (I will really miss all of my colleagues.) They too thought I would be perfect for the job I saw (I told them about the ad), and that this somehow was not an ending but a beginning.

    I spent most of Monday afternoon writing my application for said DREAM JOB. The hardest part for me in the process of applying for work is usually letting go once I’ve sent them, not fretting over how I maybe should have wrote this instead, what if I left out something important, should I have told the recruiter more about myself when I called to ask about the job … Not quite there yet, I need to proof-read (and have someone proof-read). Still, whether this job is meant to be or not – something new WILL come – and I am excited about that.

  • Bewusst Leben,  Sarines Stöde

    Life | Work in progress

    The original purpose of this blog was to document and share my journey as a soul-searcher. I think the main reason I haven’t done that lately (apart from the fact that our internet situation is still kind of a non-situation and I haven’t felt like staying at the office just so that I can spend more time by the computer) is that some things are still too new and fragile to share yet. I need to manifest and live them before I can share them. Does that make sense?

    But spiritual growth for me is nothing separate from physical growth, and I see our garden as a big part of what I want to accomplish in this life. So lately I have been thinking that I want to document that part more, even if it’s just to be able to see how things evolve from one year to the next.

    Last year, our first, felt like a struggle. I was working full-time, and often felt too exhausted to want to o anything at all after work. We picked the heaviest, most clayey spot on our entire land to grow vegetables on, and nothing much grew besides potatoes. This year we’re only growing potatoes on it – and we dug out another bed (much better soil) where we grow other veggies.

    We built a greenhouse last year, and the tomatoes and squash grew into a jungle. The cucumbers died, we watered them with cold water. I made tomato chutney and jam, and lots of squash cheesecake. At the end of the season I got hold of another (a „real“ greenhouse) through the Swedish equivalent to craigslist. The previous owners sold it for next to nothing because a storm had destroyed a lot of the glass. So this year we have two green-houses.

    The tomatoes I pre-grew all died because I didn’t think to harden them before planting them into the green-house. Luckily, a much more experienced gardening-enthusiast down the street sold their excess tomato plants. That way I even got hold of a couple of exotic specimens they had brought home from a vacation. No suqash this year, I simply forgot to pre-grow it. Cucumbers, though, and melons!

    We have been talking about chickens, too. Haven’t gotten further than getting books from the library, though. That’s one of the things that I like about gardening (besides lovely „free“, organic food): there will always be another chance, another spring, another summer, more time to grow.

  • Bewusst Leben,  Sarines Stöde

    Flower power

    I have been thinking about the blog a lot lately, but the task of trying to catch up on EVERYTHING that has happened since I last posted anything has been overwhelming. So I thought I’d let this feeling grow by waiting some more. And then, today, I thought I’ll just get going by not trying to catch up on EVERYTHING but just posting SOMETHING. Like pretty pictures of flowers. Voilà.

    A visit to one of my co-workers inspired me …

    … She had this table with lots of flower arrangements outside her front door …

    … So I got all the vases/jars I had together and started picking flowers …

    … and placed them everywhere on our veranda …

    These are my favorites, by the way. „Skogsvioler“ in Swedish (forrest violets – a little more poetic than „common dog-violet“, donchathink?)

    … apart from lupins, which are also my favorites.

  • Bewusst Leben,  Sarines Stöde

    Northern gardening lesson #1: Pregrow everything

    This is my second year growing stuff on actual soil, not just a balcony and a kitchen window sill. Last year’s lesson: pregrow EVERYTHING. I learned that one by not pregrowing anything except for tomatoes. And those still didn’t ripen fast enough before it got too cold. In my defense, we talked to our neighbors before getting started, and they all said that they never pregrow anything, they plant right in the soil. The rule of thumb up here is not to plant before the summer solstice (21 June), since it can still get below freezing before that (doesn’t happen often but still). That’s cold, man! And obviously summer doesn’t last longer around here just because it starts late, so … you get the picture.

    I label the seedbeds with washi tape. I’m even smart enough to mark the seedbed AND the lid, since, you know, you can put the lid on two ways but that don’t mean the seeds switch place, too …

    So yesterday I planted 192 plus seeds – melon, cucumber, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, radishes, egg plants, the works. Excited to see what lessons this year has in store for me. If I had to guess now it could be: don’t let your cats use the land you want to grow food on as a litter box during the winter if you don’t want them to do their business there during the summer … But hey, I might be wrong.

  • Bewusst Leben,  Sarines Stöde

    Love what you love

    I have been thinking a lot about the meaning of life lately. Probably because the The Path Into The Light seminar is coming up soon. While a part of me says, „You’ll find out there, so why even bother now“, another part knows that I am already on my way, have been for a while, and that the seminar won’t be THE answer to everything (we already know it’s 42 anyway, right 😉 ). So I do wonder, not just about the meaning of life in general, but obviously about the meaning of my life.

    Here’s some random notes on what I’ve come up with so far:

    1. The meaning of life in general is to be happy. Not all the time, obviously, but I do believe that deep down inside, that’s what we’re all striving for – happiness. That part seems fairly banal. The trick, I guess, is the next step. Believing that it is possible to be happy. That seems to be the part where things go wrong when they do.

    2. I have been denying myself a lot of happiness because I can be very judgmental. (See my Yoga Girl book review.) I am trying to change that by promising myself to allow myself to like the things I do. That means becoming aware of the inner censor, the voice that tells you why the things you feel are wrong. Do you have a voice like that? For me working on this inner censor means becoming aware of the fact that there is a conflict – that I like one thing but also have feelings of guilt about liking it. Usually, my feelings of guilt come from some set of beliefs that aren’t originally my own but that I’ve adopted/inherited from others. And 100% of the times I like something I also feel guilty about, I have good reason for liking it.

    3. An good example of how my inner censor is holding me back is that I am the kind of person who really enjoys a lot of different things, and I can be interested in many things, and yes: I can be good at most of the things I set my mind to. I don’t just have one thing I am passionate about and devote all my (spare) time to, nor is there one thing that I naturally excel at, so that it would be obvious that this is my calling. But somewhere along the road I got the idea that that is how things work: you get to be good at one thing, and you get to really like one thing. You have to decide, let everything else go, and focus on this one thing. I could get really worked up over how I seemed to be all over the place, not being able to make up my mind and dedicate myself to one thing. Until the other day it never even occurred to me that I am allowed to enjoy AS MANY THINGS AS I DO – writing, baking, photography, sewing, dancing, gardening, meditating, cooking, yoga, knitting, embroidery, film-making, … If the point is to master a craft, then I will obviously not be able to do that the same way a person could who puts all their time and effort into one craft. But if the point is to do things that make me happy, then why not simply be happy – and be grateful that I have the gift of having many things in my life that make me happy?! It seems so obvious now, but as long as my mind was limited by this belief set that you can only have one passion, one talent, I never even looked at it that way.

    Getting down to business with this inner censor seems to be key to this whole happiness thing. And those of you who are into mindfulness and/or spiritual teachings are probably familiar with this concept – that we are not our thoughts and feelings but really the observers of them but that we are often unaware, and act as if we were identical with our thoughts, feelings, etc. For those of you who aren’t already into this „stuff“, I can highly recommend Eckhart Tolle (and I think I’ve done that before here on the blog). I find it makes life a lot easier = happier.

    So for now I’m working on (gosh, that sounds hard but it’s work AND it’s not hard – another contradiction in terms according to my inner censor/know-it-all) just doing what I love as much as possible – whatever that may be. I will share as much of it here as I can.

    Have a great Sunday, everyone!

  • Bewusst Leben,  Sarines Stöde

    Crochet booties

    I love the fact that I can turn this

    All of these babies are thrifted – and all of them are 100% wool. Not a fan of synthetics.

    into this

    Yay for colors.

    I got the idea from this book with crocheting/knitting/embroidery projects by Sanna Vatanen.

    Oden and Freya are digging my booties, too.

    That is one enthusiastic cat.
    Make that two.
  • Bewusst Leben,  Sarines Stöde

    Boho bedroom curtains

    I keep hoarding fabric – luckily, I am also still riding that wave where I keep making stuff.

    About a third of last week’s bounty. The other day I decided the only reason for me to be allowed inside a thrift store for the rest of the month is to drop off stuff, not to drag home more. We’ll see how long I can last …

    My most recent project: curtains for the second bedroom window.

    I used these (thrifted, what else) as inspiration.
    My idea was that if the two curtains had the same shape, I would be ok with the fact that they have different patterns/colors (I like having pairs of two, it’s a feng shui hang-up I guess).
    Well, as you can see, the curtain I made myself doesn’t quite have the same shape as the original. The half-circle simply turned out too long, covering too much of the window. So the crocheted strings to tie things up was my lazy-fix.
    Maybe this type of crochet-lacing is becoming my signature or something – I did it on the curtains for the closet, too.

    After initially worrying I might have gone too far with this one (too much going on, pattern-, color-, crochet-trimming-wise), I realized that I really do like the over-the-top-too-much-ness of it. I guess it’s officially time I fess up: I really dig having too much of everything when it comes to mixing colors and patterns, styles/crafting techniques. In fact, it’s barely enough.

    Speaking of too much is never enough: I can never have enough plants, either.

    My excuse for buying these guys was that they were compensation for Peter’s plants, which have been mutilated by Oden and Freya (our cats, not the god/godess their named after).
  • Bewusst Leben,  Sarines Stöde

    The Holmberg Bag

    I am sure I have mentioned my obsession with Karin Holmberg. Well, her art, that is. The other day I embroidered this purse inspired by one of her designs.

    The bag, the thread, the fabric & the buttons are thrifted.
    I love how little (time, material, know-how) it takes for these kind of embroidery projects. I mean that in a good way: all you really need is some fabric, thread and a needle.
    One can obviously create very elaborate pieces. But you don’t have to. I love the fact that even the things you create on the way to get to that level (if that is you goal at all) turn out great.
  • Bewusst Leben,  Sarines Stöde

    Yoga Girl Book Review

    Yoga has obviously become very popular, which is great, but I am a sceptic when it comes to pretty much anything being mangled by mainstream media, and thus being stripped of all its deeper meaning, and being turned into a fad. So when I first saw Yoga Girl enclosed in a (Swedish) women’s magazine, I assumed the book had to be one of those trendy lifestyle books with pretty pictures and pseudo-insightfulness, probably penned by some IT-girl (or really: a ghost-writer).

    In other words: exactly the kind of book I would never spend any money on but that I would definitely check out at the library. A guilty pleasure, just like the magazine it came with, which I would never buy, either – but definitely read at the hairdresser or a doctor’s waiting room.

    Gosh, I am grateful for the Swedish public libraries – and my good sense to give in to this particular guilty pleasure. (Note to self: stop judging. Accept your guilty pleasures as pleasures, no need for guilt.) I ended up reading Rachel Brathen’s story in one sitting, even staying up past my bedtime (which is something I never do, I get really crabby when my sleeping pattern gets messed up).

    In hindsight it feels like I shouldn’t be surprised at all by how much I loved the book, despite the fact that it is so popular. Some things really are popular because they are great! There is something so true about some things that they strike a chord with a lot of people. Yoga Girls is one of those completely justifiedly popular things.

    Yeah, there are the pretty pictures of the gorgeaous Rachel Brathen on the stunning beach, radiating health, joy, strength, the whole package. And tons of stylish boho outfits, that sent me right off into that consumer frenzy, where I felt like I couldn’t possibly feel good about my own yoga practice (leggings with holes in places that make them impossible to wear in public much?) anymore unless I treated myself to at least one new outfit.

    But I get it: the visual appeal of pretty much any product is more important than ever. Who wants to read blurbs, right?! Also, the concern with appearances does not necessarily have to be an exclusively consumerist thing. No, appearances and material wealth obviously don’t make us truly whole and happy. However, I do believe that once you’ve embraced the concept that you already have everything you need within you to experience joy and contentment, this will affect everything around you (externally). Brathen’s story is one big, fat affirmation of this belief.

    I can’t count the times I thought I really wanted something – but it would only happen once I’d „gotten over it“. I can still appreciate those things, but my happiness doesn’t seem dependent on them anymore.

    Brathen’s biography thus far is obviously the suff great stories are made from, with her transformation from a severley self-destructive adolescence to enlightenment, healing, and, yes, wealth and a life on a dream of an island. It is maybe not so strange that someone – Brathen – who clearly has the ability (the courage?) to go all in for something, can do so in either direction. Being a rather careful person myself, the effects of my life choices are naturally less extreme. But even I can confirm that Brathen is right (at least about me) when she writes that we all carry this wish inside of us to be wild and live adventurous.

    I have had a feeling for the past few years as if I had this parachute inside of me, but that I am afraid to pull on the rope that would open it. Afraid to know my actual size, my actual greatness. Brathen’s story is encouraging, and makes me dream of all the things that might come if I allowed them into my life. There are never enough of those kind of stories.

  • Bewusst Leben,  Sarines Stöde

    Boho bedroom

    A friend asked me to show some pictures of our house. Since the bedroom has been my latest project, and the only one that I am not done yet happy with, I started with that. Voilà:

    The canopy is made of coated silver thread. A life-saver for my electrosensitive boyfriend, but also very cozy and decorative.
    The bedspread was a gift from my mom. Love it, most of all the strong colors. One of the reasons why I will never have one of those all-white houses, as much as I admire them in magazines and on blogs.
    I’m not very skilled at sewing. Basically, I am good at pillowcases. I made these from a fabric I had bought in Gothenburg three years ago. I am a big believer in feng shui and decluttering – but sometimes you gotta hoard stuff until the perfect use for it magically appears.
    Those night stands are two of my deeply cherished thrift-store treasures. On the more expensive side for being thrifted, but definitely worth it.
    Another thrift-store project. Since we’ve stripped the house of as much electricity as we could, we’re using candles instead of electric lights for the most part. After coming home from yet another thrift-store raid with a bunch of candle holders that I had no idea what do with, I suddenly remembered this tray (also thrifted), and a few other candle holders I had collected over the years, and got the idea for this blue-blue-green „still life“. I often light it when I do yoga in the evening.
    Those kind of rag rugs are very typical here in Sweden. I love them: great against the cold floors, and very cheerful. Thrifted, of course. So is the drawer chest (it is an IKEA, though) …
    … and the chandelier.
    This still life makes me want to believe that devouring interior design blogs and magazines finally rubbed off. Candle holders, tray, big jar: thrifted …
    … Decorative vials: gifted (by a friend who remembered me admiring them at IKEA).
    Let there be light.
    The smell of this jacinth is incredible: at first I thought one of my vials was leaking. Love this way of growing them without soil in water, being able to see the roots all long and tangled. From what I understand this is a pretty brutal method of growing them, though. Going to give this bulb some rest next year and bury it in the ground.
    Finished this thrift’n’craft project today: curtains for our hand me down closet that came without doors. Big improvement, somehow it seems to be one of my superpowers to keep the inside of my half look messy no matter how neatly I fold my clothes.
    My sister-in-law gave me this awesome boho crocheting book for Christmas, which inspired my making of the curtain.
    Oden. Usually he prefers to lie under the bed …
    … but sometimes we can make him see the point of lying on top of it.
    The window sill is pretty popular, too.

    Ok, I am starting to post cat pictures. Time to go home.

    In case you’re wondering: yes, some of those pictures are taken with a different camera. After realizing that 1. we spent less money on Christmas than anticipated, and 2. that we regret the things we didn’t buy more often than we regret the things we did buy, we came to the conclusion that it was time for me to get the thing I had been pining for for several years now: an SLR. I bought it second-hand, of course, and I am really happy with it. The body is a Nikon D90, the lens is from an older, analog model. I can’t wait to get an adapter for the M42-lenses I have lying around. If you have any experience with/advice on those kind of adapter rings, I’d be grateful for your comments.