Monday, 9 October 2017

On the road

A perfect sunday started with a cup of strong coffee and a nice jog in our local park in Amsterdam. The day continued by car towards the east of Holland, where I swapped to "omafiets" (grandmother's bike)and made my countryside round. 

I always seem to be in a mood of finding little adventures in my daily life. I was listening to a radio program while I was sitting in a car. It was about the Volvo ocean race, the 8 month long sailing competition around the world. This reminded me of the many books I have read about sailing, mountain climbing and other adventures. Somewhere deep in me is a little adventurous soul, but the stories seemed to be enough to feed that curiosity for a long time. Or maybe I have been afraid of planning my own, big adventure :)

I was enjoying the sunny day and admiring all the details, sitting on the saddle of my old "Gazelle" bike, a camera hanging on my neck. A nostalgic feeling hit my mind on my journey and I felt sudden freedom. I chose a route I had never driven before. Refreshing options and delightful sparkles of new views opened before my eyes.

During my summer holiday, we went to Germany for one week. The little town where we used to live is near one of the old pilgrimage routes. Lately many of these old routes have been refound and used again.

Most of us have heard about the famous pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella. The origin of pilgrimage is related to Christianity and was very popular in the middle ages. If you prefer more peaceful options without too much tourists and commercial influence, it is better to find your own personal route for smaller hikes or choose the less known routes. Local or international, always good to find some new perspective and even spirituality in life. The journey can have different motivation every time we go outside or even just plan of doing something. Often the meaning of the trip is something else that we thought and the secrets are opening only if we are willing to take the challenge, no matter how big.

The need to collect the peace and make a journey to our minds, see the changing landscapes by walking the historical routes is popular even nowadays. Many people have a need to get more connected to the environment and to the Nature. This is a good sign and I hope it increases the willingness of doing something good to protect our precious planet.

I feel like every step I take in the Nature, is a little personal story for me. Sometimes I prefer going out just by myself, but it is nice to share the path with someone as well. I am planning on doing more hiking and outdoor trips in the future. The search of peace, silence and surprising elements is a big motivation for me. As I see the whole life as a ongoing path, full of changes and crossings on the way, I also see how the path is changing me and my values all the time. 

Best Autumn wishes, Erja

Saturday, 19 August 2017

By the lake

The summer holiday in Finland is over, but the collection of moments and details from the familiar places will be actively in my mind for the next months. Later all will be stored together with the other lifetime memories from my spiritual Nordic home and reminding me that I clearly have roots somewhere near the big forests, hills and lakes.

It was great to do a bit of rowing by the lake.

Silent sunset late in the evening.

Every time we visit Finland, I want to share something of this background to my children. They have already lived most of their lives in two other countries and now it seems we are going to stay in Holland. The concept of "family roots" or "personal roots" is more complicated for the children from multicultural background. But it is important to learn to be proud of the different aspects of your genes, the language and the culture. Something that is part of you, something that can surprise you in that somehow familiar environment. When I watched my children on our holiday, it felt like they intuitively knew how to play and enjoy the simple elements of Nature. 

Fishing mood

It felt good to talk about the ancestors and to see how the kids were in one sunny day playing stone age and forgot their smart phones for few hours. The peace of the landscape was inspiring all of us and one of the best moments of the day was warming up the wooden Sauna or having a breakfast at the long pier, where the mosquitos were not teasing us.

Playing stone age, but making a modern smoothie from the local flowers. Not for drinking :-)

The water surface looked like a big painting or a gate to the other dimension when there was no wind.

Many earlier times in Finland, we had slept badly in Hotel rooms and visiting too many people. This time the holiday felt like a holiday, because we were more selfish by staying a longer time at the Summer Cottage. We stayed at the Vuokatti in Kainuu, near the area I am originally coming from. The summer was late this year, so we just came at the right time to see all the flowers that I know from my childhood and had some of the rare warm summer days in 2017. 

The wooden Church of Sotkamo.
The whole experience of being in your home country for a while is quite spiritual. When I am away, I seem to forget many details of the Nature and the everyday life. It all comes back during the visits and you are so ready and willing to find all the familiar things those used to make you feel good and still have the same effect on you.

The sandy beach in Sotkamo, many minimalistic treasures to find.

I really like the pine trees and the surface full of arctic berries to pick. Unfortunately they were still too raw to eat.

Our journey continued back to South and Helsinki through the eastern part of Finland. We made a visit to Koli, a high hill area in Lieksa with monumental landscapes around the lake Pielinen. You can have a nice hike in a rocky landscape following the  marked routes. These landscapes has inspired many Finnish artists and the open view is a National symbol of freedom and independency. The geological history of this area is interesting and the National park of Koli is a great place for the outdoor lovers in every season. 

Rocky perspective towards the east and direction Russia behind the Ukkko-Koli.

One other nice stop on our East Finland route was the town of Savonlinna. The Castle of Olavinlinna is located by the water near the city Centre of Savonlinna. This part of Finland has lot of water and lakes. The lake Saimaa is a very big connecting element in this part of Finland. The car drive along the lakes and crossing the Saimaa lake via the historical road of Punkaharju ridge is a beautiful experience.

The Castle Olavinlinna in the town of Savonlinna.
The Finland time ended in Helsinki, which used to be my home for 14 years. It was nice to see my old home street and walk the familiar routes. Unfortunately I did not make many photos in there, but will make another story some other time when I will visit Helsinki again.

The most memorable moments for me were the silent mornings and evenings by the lake in Kainuu. I hope the summer time has been good for everyone and depending on where ever we are and what season we have at the moment...let's not forget to enjoy the peace and energy  the Nature has to offer. 

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Friesland calling

A couple of weeks ago I was walking these silky sands in Friesland,in the north of Holland. We took the Catamaran transportation to one of those beautiful Islands out from the Dutch coastline. This area, " The Dutch Wadden Sea Islands",including five different islands, belongs to Worldheritage. Our visit focused on Terschelling, where we took part in a yearly organized Theatre festival called "Oerol". The whole Island turns into a big art experience during this period and the groups of culture enthoustistic visitors can pop into different locations with their bikes. The Nature is so beautiful and the beaches are comforting big, feeling of freedom is dominant. Even it is a big happening, there is no feeling of oversized masses of party people. The cultural happenings are spread all over the Island, many of them in the middle of the the woods, fields or dunes. The Nature seems to have its own voice and the Theatre plays are composed in harmony with this powerful element. A big part of the Island's Nature is protected and there are no architectural monsters destroying the feeling of pure nature. The built and natural history of the island seems to be in good balance.

I was doing this first time journey in this Festival with my husband and with our two friends. We were on our bikes most of the time between drinks, theatre, concerts and meals by the sea. And because of the speed of the cycling, I did not take as many pictures as I would have liked to. I was the only photo person in our group...I had to be flexible. But I fell in love with the beauty of Terschelling and will come back to one of these Islands again and take some more time for pictures too. 

We went to see an interesting Theatre play in the dunes called "Wind still life" and I think it is still inspiring me. Before joining this performance we had to leave our telephones, cameras and other belongings behind. We listened to this theatrically spoken essay over the time and how we sense it and use it as human beings in this bigger context of natural world. It was magical, we walked over the dunes with the headphones on in silence. On the path we could find signs with numbers, we had to stop to the number symbolizing our age. So the path was marked with us, individuals with variety of ages. We heard about the relativity Theory of Einstein and other philosophies from the same period of history, also some personal sounding experiences from the actors. The time has a different meaning to different living creatures and the life span is individual for everyone. And actually how all that time is stored in your minds as memories. Recalling those visions and happenings we are still somehow there, like all time we lived is always part of us and still present. It is comforting to think, we are the time and there is not just measured time, the life is a forever continuing movement. Nothing will stay as it was, everything is changing all the time.

Street performance - dancers in action

"Zo als het is, blijft het niet" (Nothing stays as it was)The location of the "Wind still life" performance.

Reflecting ball was used to reflect visually the landscape and happenings in there via small hole in a big closed cube, where we were closed for a small period of time during the play. Visually and mentally interesting solutions :-)

The whole experience made me a bit poetic and I will continue from here with this mood, combining the pictures with my texts.

There is no one journey, instead of that many possible ones, crossed, separate and together melted paths. The unique chaos of silent dreams, the visible choices and all shaking moments - the good ones and the bad and the sad. A jungle of journeys during the given time.

Like walking in no man's land, taking off those daily shoes, leaving the weight of them behind. We can be ready for the refreshing sensations and views of the present moment. The sand is so perfect and the windy master artist shaped it so well. I don't want to break the silence of this composition. I know the wind is fast and my marks are wiped away very soon. The relief falls into my heart, I do not want to take the same steps back, I want to find new perspectives and accept the firm kiss of the wind.

The time is a modern totem for us. Impulses of the digital seconds and moving pointers of a clock, how we are used to be organized by measuring the day and dealing it into periods.. like minutes and hours and the fast passing seconds. And in the end, the best measurement of a moment is the rhytmn of our own breathing. The better we use it, the better we can enjoy the moment and use our whole capacity.

Breathing in and out

Cycling along the coast line. 

The harbor of South Terschelling

Decorative looking nets from a Fisher boat.

The Brandaris lighthouse in Terschelling - the oldest lighthouse in Netherlands (from 1323)

Breathing the freedom of Summer!! 

Wishing you wonderful moments :-) Erja

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Seaside spa

The best place to have a face treatment is a windy beach at the Atlantic coastline of the Netherlands. You do not need a special spa day: the moist and salty air, the hard blowing wind and the flying sand will do the trick. If not a professional way to get a smooth and pink cheeks, at least a healthy way to air your mind and to feel, smell and hear the power of the Nature. 

I had it both ways last weekend: first a gentle morning at the hotel beauty centre taking care of myself and enjoying the treatments. Something that I do not normally do, but should do more often. I was  alone and followed my own rhythm of relaxation, did not have to talk to anyone. Even I had a plan of planning some practical things for the next week...I did not hardly do anything. I am proud of that and felt not quilty, just took my laptop with me for no reason :-). The second part of my spa stay...walking at the beach was the best. The wind kissed my skin with sudden attacks and I fought my way through the sand to have my glass of wine at the beach restaurant and enjoyed the beautiful light and views.

The place I went is called Egmond aan Zee. It is not the prettiest beach I have been so far in Holland, but the area is worth to visit and if you walk a little bit further at the beach you do not have to see the ugly architecture. The village is located very near to the sea, just behind the dunes and you can just walk from the main shopping street directly to the sandy beach . It is an easy location for tourists. I used to live for many years in Germany and during my visit the main language I heard was german. I can speak dutch, but it was funny how the people working in the restaurants started to speak german to me, because of my foreign accent. 

After a good night sleep at the hotel, I had a nice morning walk. The night was very windy and I even woke up in the middle of the night, because the noise of the sea was so powerful. On my walk I saw the fresh marks of the night waves, which reached much further along the sand in the dark hours. The old lighthouse is standing in the middle of the village, giving a nice character to the views. 

Small houses side by side at the beach. Some people have summer houses like this in Holland.

The wind is making nice music when moving the masts of the small sailing boats. I love that sound!

The seaview from the dunes. I am standing beside the lighthouse here.

Sometimes is good to be alone and find back to your basic self. To think, watch and listen without any interruptions, demands and routines. To find a place even for a short time to just relax and find the ways and the motivations to make some small changes that will help you to feel better in every day life. I made a little mind map collage during my weekend journey. I wrote down the things that I love to do, would like to do and develop and will use this as a guideline to plan my weeks better. This makes it possible for me to do the things that I would like to do and find even a small spot from my days to focus on. I am a dreamer, so a little bit of planning is always good for me.

Today will be a sunny day and one of the rare warmer days this spring time. I will go and enjoy that!! I know some of my friends are having hard time in Finland now, because there was snow again. I will send my warm greetings to the North and let's hope the warmt will spread all over. Happy weekend!