In the days between the years I like to look back on the past year. I go over what I am grateful for, what challenges I encountered, what I am proud of, and what I would like to get better at in the future. And then I dream and think freely about what I want to experience next year.
A rich year full of unexpected answers that were there all along
2017 was an incredibly rich year – rich in experiences, meeting wonderful people, great views into the distance from mountain tops, and insights into the depth of my own being. In short: it was everything I wanted, because that’s what I live for. I decided to travel. For one thing, because I simply like to travel, but also because at the beginning of the year I did not feel at home anywhere. I wanted to use the trip as an opportunity to get to know myself better, find out what I wanted to do and find my new home.
I received the answers to my questions during the trip, much earlier than I had anticipated. And they were both unexpected and at the same time always there, deep down in my heart.
The biggest challenge
I discovered that I am both bolder and more sensitive than I thought. That I enjoy being visible, and that I can easily see the good in others. That I have so much to give, and that I can give the most when I follow the flow of the moment. That these are good qualities as a photographer, crystal healer and artist. That these are also good qualities as an employee. That I feel comfortable in all of these roles. That I like closeness and at the same time like to spend a lot of time with myself. That I can face great challenges. That I never run away from them, that I always want to master them. That, too, I think is a great quality. It gives me confidence to know that I can do that. But I also really enjoyed going the other way. The one on which everything flows with ease and joy. The path that makes my heart sing. The challenge here is to trust that all the practical details will be solved once we dare to commit to this path, even if we can not yet see how in the beginning. And that they can be solved with ease.
2018 – Focus on the path that makes your heart sing
Next year, I want to focus even more on this challenge. I want to do more of what makes my heart sing. Listen even more to the voice in me that say „Oh yes!“. With or without explanation. This is the way home on the inside.
The way home on the outer level has revealed itself to be part of this inner journey. Again, the answer was unexpected and yet it was there all along. There is a place that makes my heart sing when I think of it. It is a small town on the east coast of Sweden. Life is wonderful that way, isn’t it? I am very curious to see how everything will pan out in the new year.
If you have tips for me, which work place in Sundsvall and surroundings might appreciate my above named qualities, I would be very happy to hear from you.
ENGLISH – May was an eventful month for me externally but also emotionally. I thought I had been prepared. Since it was my last month in Sweden, I was almost planning on spending that hour I had at the central station on my last day in tears.
But life is full of surprises, and the big meltdown came a week earlier instead, during my weekend in Stockholm. I had had the strong feeling that I should go. First I thought it was to meet up with a friend. That fell through but the feeling I should go to the capital one more time remained. I decided to make this weekend a little practice in spontaneity and solo traveling.
I thought that the whole logistical side of it, the planning as little as possible, would be my big challenge this weekend. It turned out to be the easy part. I got a hotel no problem, and the couple who drove me up to Stockholm asked if I wanted to go back with them on Sunday. Those had been my main concerns beforehand, no matter how many times I told myself that the worst thing that could happen would be that accommodation and transportation would be expensive if I booked them last minute.
It was only on Saturday that I realized that the real challenge with this trip was something entirely different. After having walked around all morning and early afternoon (which is my way of connecting with a place), I decided to go back to the hotel, take a nap, and then maybe head out again towards the evening. As I was lying there on my bed, a thought suddenly appeared: what a strange weekend, ever since I left the house on Friday, it’s been as if I were invisible.
That thought triggered an emotional wave that I hadn’t been prepared for. That’s when I realized that I had come with expectations, too: That I had had this strong feeling I should go to Stockholm because there were people waiting here for me. Encounters that were somehow significant, and wanted to be made before I left the country.
That’s what usually happens when I am going somewhere by myself: I end up meeting new people, and I don’t even think it has anything to do with me in particular, it’s just what happens when we’re untethered from our everyday life and any roles we might (think we) have. It’s the traveler’s spirit that opens us up and makes us easy to approach. But this time: nothing.
The couple I came to Stockholm with didn’t really talk to me. When I tried to start a conversation, all I got was monosyllabic answers. It didn’t bother me much at the time, since I’m generally more uncomfortable with forced small talk than silence.
That car ride in the beginning of my trip tied in with everything else that far: the only people that had talked to me were waiters and waitresses at the cafés I’d been to, and even those interactions could hardly count as conversations, they were always kept to a minimum. I even recalled one specific situation that hadn’t paid much attention to at the time: I had been standing in line at a store, and the cashier was being super chatty with the customer before me. When it was my turn, all he said was something like „That’ll be 35 kronor“. That was all I got from this person who had just been über friendly and social!
Seeing how everything that had happened up until that point had made me feel completely invisible or unwelcome at best, really hit me. At first it only hurt, and I didn’t understand what was going on. My instant reaction was to question myself: what had I been doing wrong, what kind of weird vibes was I sending out to make people feel that they didn’t want anything to do with me?!
It was only in the evening that things started to make sense. I began to understand that this wasn’t a mistake when another thought entered my mind: there is only one place that has had the power to make me feel so completely invisible, lonely, rejected. And that’s Sweden. That’s when the fog started to clear: this was exactly why I had to come to Stockholm one more time, and this was also why my plans to meet up with a friend here had fallen through.
Up until this point I had mostly been thinking I was leaving Sweden because I just didn’t have the feeling I should stay, and that I was drawn to other places now. The thought had never occurred to me that if there are places and people that we fit in and connect with effortlessly, that the opposite is also true: there are places where we can try as hard as we want but we will never be able to force that sense of belonging.
I had been able to see this about other areas of my life: that my belief that life is hard had attracted both relationships and work places into my life that fit that belief set. Somehow I had managed to overlook the fact that the belief in the necessity to struggle also had made me choose a place where that was true for me as well.
Don’t get me wrong, I feel a deep love for Sweden and I have many pleasant memories from my time here, and I am grateful for everything. Just like I have many pleasant memories and much gratitude for the work places and my relationship that I let go of last year. That’s the thing that made it impossible for me to question anything but myself for so long: there is good to be found in every person and every situation. That will always be the case because life is complex. Yet all the good things will never be able to make up for when something essential is off. There is no judgement in that. It just what it is. And when it comes to loneliness and feeling rejected: that was something that had also always been there for me, from the very beginning when I first came to Sweden. I just hadn’t really wanted to acknowledge that. That weekend made me do it.
The truth as I see it is this: there is a place where we belong (maybe there are several, maybe it changes throughout life). Life gives us signs to point us there – including other places telling us „This isn’t your place“. The thing is, though: we need to choose what to do with these signs. We are free and able to choose something that is not right for us.
That is what hurt so much: the realization that I had been stubborn to insist on making something work that never could. Like I said, I’ve had this realization twice in the past year, with work and with my relationship. And every time I had one of these insights, I thought „OK, I get it now, I can see what I’ve been doing“.
Clearly, I have more blind spots than I thought. So as much as there was relief in seeing that it was not anybody’s fault, and that it was not me sending „weird“ vibes that made me unapproachable, I was mainly feeling the pain that I had suppressed for as long as I had insisted on playing the struggle game. The pain of being rejected and insisting on trying to fight that rejection.
For me, it’s wanting to be liked by everybody that triggers this kind of behavior: if there’s someone (or, apparently: a place) who doesn’t seem to like me, I tend to not want to accept that. Instead I start to try to figure out ways to change it. But the truth is: we are no blank sheets of paper. We come here with different qualities, and that means that we are good matches with some people and places who in turn have their unique qualities. Other combos are just not great. There’s nothing to be done about that and it’s nobody’s fault. And it’s not rejection in the sense that we aren’t loved or lovable.
Like I said, there is good to be found in everything. The pain I felt that weekend was part of the healing process. It was probably important, too, that I had false expectations, because would I have gone otherwise? Not so sure … However, there was not only pain this weekend, there was a whole lot of good, too: it was above all an opportunity for me to see how much I enjoy my own company. Maybe that’s confusing (or maybe it’s just confusing when trying to put it into words) but I was not only feeling lonely and rejected, I was also feeling very content with being who I am and with being with just me. That means a lot to me.
And then, on the way back it finally happened. I met a fellow traveler in every sense of the word. Her name was Hidaya, and we talked, played each other music, sat in silence, and it was all there: that instant connection where you know you get each other. We met up one more time later that week in Gothenburg, and I am sure it wasn’t the last time. And this, too, is part of my Sweden experience. It’s one of the many gifts I’ve been given. Thank you. For all of it.
ENGLISH – A little recap in pictures of the month that just swooshed by. I spent most of it with my friend’s La and C. in Tollered, Sweden outside Gothenburg. Summer in Sweden is really something, and we were blessed with sunshine galore. The wedding of La and C. made this particular May extra special, of course.
DEUTSCH – Eine kleine Zusammenfassung des Monats, der einfach nur so vorbei gerauscht ist. Ich habe die meiste Zeit mit meinen Freunden La und C. in Tollered verbracht, einem kleinen Ort bei Göteborg. Sommer in Schweden ist wirklich etwas besonderes und wir wurden reichlich mit Sonnenschein gesegnet. Die Hochzeit von La und C. hat diesen Mai natürlich noch besondererererer gemacht.
ENGLISH – The day after the wedding I took the train to Hamburg. It was my friend Conny’s birthday on Monday, and since we’ve been living so far apart for the past years, I really wanted to be with her on her special day. And yes, those are cinnamon buns, but no, I can’t claim any credit for them.
DEUTSCH – Am Tag nach der Hochzeit ging es weiter nach Hamburg. Connys Geburtstag war ja am Montag und weil wir die letzten Jahre so weit voneinander entfernt gelebt haben, war es mir diesmal wichtig endlich mal wieder an ihrem Ehrentag dabei zu sein. Und ja, das sind Zimtschnecken, aber nein, ich kann mich leider nicht mit diesem Federn schmücken.
ENGLISH – Next I returned to my grandpa’s house once more. Unpacking and repacking. And enjoying the flowers in the garden!
DEUTSCH – Als nächstes bin ich noch einmal zum Haus von Opa zurück gekehrt. Um aus- und umzupacken. Und die Blumen im Garten zu genießen!
ENGLISH – Now I’m with my friend Lena. She has a light and lofty apartment, great taste and is very artistic. She lives in Bockenheim, and I really like the neighborhood with it’s cafés and little shops, a lot of them in pretty little courtyards. Lena once said to me that Frankfurt may not be the number one tourist attraction among the German cities but it’s a great place to live. That’s a pretty good description, imho.
DEUTSCH – Jetzt bin ich bei Lena. Sie hat eine tolle helle Wohnung mit hohen Decken, sehr guten Geschmack und eine künstlerische Ader. Sie lebt in Bockenheim und mir gefällt es hier sehr, mit den vielen kleinen Cafés und Lädchen, viele von ihnen in hübschen Hinterhöfen. Lena sagte mal zu mir, dass sie Frankfurt nicht zur Touristenattraktion Nummer Eins unter den deutschen Städten benennen würde, aber dass es zum Leben sehr schön ist. Das trifft’s ganz gut, finde ich.
PalmenGarten Frankfurt, Germany
ENGLISH – When I was little my parents would take my sister and me to the PalmenGarten sometimes. Can’t say that I have any special memories of it (I was a real homebody as a kid, I probably would have spent all my time in front of the tv if I had been allowed), but when I realized that it was only a ten minute walk from Lena’s place, I decided to go. I’m glad I did because I have become more of on outdoorsy person over the past years (it’s hard not to become one when you live in Sweden). As much as I love big cities and the liveliness in the streets, I feel like I need to see a little green every once in a while.
DEUTSCH – Als ich klein war machten meine Eltern manchmal Ausflüge zum PalmenGarten mit meiner Schwester und mir. Kann zwar nicht behaupten, davon besondere Erinnerungen zu haben (ich war echt ein Stubenhocker, hätte am liebsten meine Zeit vor dem Fernseher verbracht, wenn man mich gelassen hätte …), aber als ich entdeckte, dass er nur etwas zehn Gehminuten von Lena entfernt war, entschied ich mich ihm einen Besuch abzustatten. Bin froh darum, denn ich bin inzwischen doch auch zu einem Draußi geworden (es ist vermutlich unmöglich ein Drinni zu bleiben, wenn man in Schweden lebt). So sehr ich große Städte mit ihren belebten Straßen mag, ab und zu muss ich dann doch mal ein bisschen grün sehen.
ENGLISH – On Friday I visited my friend Line. It was about time: I finally got to see her baby, meet her fella, and see their apartment for the first time. Since the weather was great, and Line is a woman with a plan, this half-day was a mini vacation in itself: we walked down to the harbor, ate asparagus, took a boat down the river, got some ice cream, walked back, did some barbecuing on the balcony.
DEUTSCH – Am freitag habe ich endlich mal Line besucht. War auch höchste Zeit: habe zum ersten Mal ihre beiden Männer getroffen und ihre Wohnung gesehen. Da das Wetter weiterhin großartig war und Line eine Frau mit Plan ist, war dieser Nachmittag sowas wie ein Mini-Urlaub: Spaziergang zum Hafen, Spargel am Wasser, Bötchenfahren, Eisessen, Spazierganz zurück, Grillen auf dem Balkon.
SVENSKA – Älskade La ska gifta sig! Såklart att hon måste få en möhippa. För att fira i Las anda krävs det följande: umgås med fina vänner, skratta mycket (några tårar är absolut tillåtna), äta en massa god mat och mest av allt: njuta av naturen. Las väninna Tove hittade det perfekta stället som möjliggjorde allt detta: Kajkanten på Vrångö utanför Göteborg.
ENGLISH – Lovely La is getting hitched! Of course we had to throw her a bachelorette party. Celebrating La-style means hanging out with great friends, laughing (crying is ok, too), eating a ton of food, and most of all: enjoying nature. Her friend Tove found the perfect location for this shindig: Kajkanten on Vrångö, one of the islands of the southern Gothenburg archipelago.
DEUTSCH – Die liebe La heiratet! Da darf ein Junggesellinnenabschied natürlich nicht fehlen. Feiern à la La bedeutet mit lieben Freundinnen abhängen, lachen (weinen ist auch erlaubt), jede Menge essen und vor allen Dingen: Natur genießen. Las Freundin Tove hat dafür den perfekten Ort gefunden: den Kajkanten auf Vrångö, einer der südlichen Schäreninseln Göteborgs.
SVENSKA – Tack La för att du finns och berikar våra liv med ditt ljus – inte bara denna helgen. Och tack att du har så fina vänner! Tack Tove att du fixade ett härligt boendet (och massa mer). Tack tjejer för en underbar tjejhelg. Och tack Håkan för Kajkanten. Vilken glädje att få uppleva hur det känns att få se solnedgången på ön och sedan vila huvudet under ett vackert tak. Helt klart bättre än att behöva lämna ön med sista färjan.
ENGLISH – Thank you, La, for being La, and for shining your light on us – not just this weekend. And thanks for having such wonderful friends! Thank you, Tove, for scoring this awesome accommodation (and so much more). Thank you, ladies, for a great girl’s weekend. And thank you, Håkan, for Kajkanten. What a dream to be able to see the sunset on Vrångö and laying our heads to rest under such a pretty roof. Much better than having to catch the last ferry to return to the mainland.
DEUTSCH – Danke La, dass es dich gibt und du unser Leben mit deinem Licht berreicherst – nicht nur an diesem Wochenende. Und danke, dass du so tolle Freundinnen hast! Danke Tove, dass du so eine tolle Unterkunft organisiert hast (und jede Menge mehr). Danke Mädels für ein tolles Mädelswochenende. Und danke Håkan Kajkanten. So schön erleben zu dürfen, wie es ist, auf der Insel den Sonnenuntergang zu sehen und sich unter einem so schönen Dach schlafen legen zu dürfen. Viel besser, als mit der letzten Fähre nach Hause fahren zu müssen.
It has been quiet around here, I know. I think our slow internet connection at home is the main reason, but also I went through a rough patch where I didn’t feel like I had anything to share here. Things have turned around faster than I could have imagined, and I am feeling inspired and determined to breathe some life back into this blog.
We finally finished building our greenhouse last week (no pix yet), and sowed a bunch of vegetables on the patch of land Peter has been preparing – with more help from his family than from me, ehem. I blame the long office days due to the commute … so, thanks Birgitta, Stefan and Felix! The patch shrank somewhat from our original megalomaniac outline when we had to face the reality of the hard physical labor involved when preparing the soil … Pix soon to come.
Also, I seem to have found the holy grail (yup, once again) when it comes to health/nutrition. It comes in the form of two books (by the same genius authors, Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon), namely Nourishing Traditions and Eat Fat, Lose Fat. I know, the latter sounds like it’s just another dieting book but it is really more about health in general than (just) weight loss. Hopefully I can keep the momentum, and write an entry just about those (which is the least they deserve).
What would a post be without some pix? Exactly.
In May …
In June …
Totally not motivated to sit at office any longer on a Saturday afternoon, even less motivated after discovery that cute cat pictures still on camera, not computer. No other recent pictures, so words only. Bear with me (hate blog posts without pix, worse than posts with only cute animal pix).
Writing about cute animals instead. Cats, ours. Minus one penis, luckily not holding a grudge – phew! Enough about cute cats.
Officially a member of Stöde Form now (only took 6 months, not due to elaborate application process but to simple procrastination process). Working at the store/café once a week and getting lots of tips and inspiration on gardening and mushroom picking. Great stuff!
Purchased seed starting set. Want tomatoes and peppers, need greenhouse, though. Planning on planting tomato and pepper seeds tomorrow as motivation to build greenhouse.
There. Update in 150 words or less.
Yup, it’s definitely fall. I am still not used to the fact that that doesn’t mean gray, rain and mud (hello Bremen, ’sup Gothenburg). Nope, here it means yellow, sun and more yellow.
This is what our little corner of the world looked like yesterday:
From now on, that’s a date worth remembering. It’s the day we bought the house. Yay! We are still determined to move in before September 1, so from here on out we’ll be busy packing and cleaning like maniacs.
The deal with the house has felt so right and so real the whole time to me that making the down-payment (this past Monday) doesn’t even seem like that big of a milestone. The house has felt like ours the whole time.
Not even the fact that we’re still waiting for an appointment with a chimney sweeper (who, we hope, will tell us that everything is OK because otherwise things could suddenly take a turn towards pretty pricey …) can change that. Like I’ve been saying: I have come to the conclusion that I’d rather be excited about things than worried even if not everything is settled yet. If everything works out, then great – I did not waste any time worrying. If things don’t work out – then at least I had those moments of excitement and happiness. Anything can change at any time anyway, so.
The plants in our apartment, which we once again abandoned for a trip up north, remind me how powerful and amazing life is. If these little guys can bounce back like that, so can I if for some reason things with this house don’t turn out as I imagine …