Everyone has their good and bad sides. We are human, that’s our nature. Nobody is perfect and nobody is the opposite. It seems to me that when we are in a good place, the other side of us is starting to sabotage us. And when we are not in a good place, we feel even worse because we know that some days we aren’t like this, why am I like this now?
When the two sides of us are constantly fighting, it is creating resistance and energy that is stuck. Instead of resisting what we naturally are, if we could just let it be, we would release a lot of energy to our lives. Suddenly we maybe wouldn’t be so low or tired. Suddenly we would find inspiration easier and joy would be more familiar than anxiety. Because everything is eventually about energy… Our energy determines everything in our life. How we see ourselves is also how we see the world. We are huge goggles that we see the world through. And when there is dirt in the goggles we might not know how to let ourselves be happy.
Beatles had it all figured out. Just let it be (happy).
Life moves all the time. In our minds it might move forward, but what if it just doesn’t have a direction? What if it just moves?
It’s a stressful environment to live in a mindset where we are all the time going “forward”. Or think that we have to go forward. That makes life just a means to an end. What if instead of “moving forward”, life would be just “moving”. No direction needed. The movement is already what is needed. Because since we are made of cells and cells are made of atoms and we know that atoms consist of protons, neutrons and electrons that are all the time vibrating and living and they are happy like that, why are we making life so complicated by thinking we need to move forward? We are already moving! All the time!
Everything in our body is moving all the time and that’s the purpose of the body, the cell, the atom.
Why is it then that our mind makes our life miserable every now and then? By making us believe that we are not enough, we don’t have direction, we need to do something different or we need to change? When our whole existence is already happy just being alive? Or maybe it’s not even happy, but just neutral, doing it’s thing, moving. Not forward with a goal in mind, but just moving. And that’s the whole “goal”. Just moving…
Not moving forward or backward but just making one motion after the other. Because when we really think about it, there is no forward or backward, there is just moving.
Our bodies are wiser than our minds, but we are letting the mind often take over a little bit too much…
Today I am going to stop myself every time I realize I have gotten into the mindset of “moving forward”. I am going to stop and take a breather and remind myself that everything is okay, electrons and protons are circling around the atoms in my body, and I am moving. That gives me peace. Imaging and feeling that the body is alive. Starting from the atoms…
It was the end of 2018 when I visited Bali. It’s funny to reflect on it now, two years after… But somehow I’m drawn into that trip right now. Bali seemed a bit blurry to me. It was a time in my life where I couldn’t let go of my inner struggles and actually ENJOY the place. I was stuck in my head and it gave me blurry goggles. Seeing the Bali island in its true glory wasn’t possible.
Instead of feeling bad about not being able to enjoy the trip to the fullest, I have come to peace with it. It was a trip that was ment to be like that for me. I was in my own bubble, wanting to, or actually, NEEDING to control many things. But regardless of the mental absence, I still feel I went through many important lessons during that trip. Be it in my mind or in the physical.
For example, every time I felt anxious or bad, or uncomfortable feelings in general, I let them dominate my life. Those moments could last for hours or even days. I let myself stay very low. And I can understand it now. I didn’t have the skills to rise above those feelings. Maybe that’s why it feels so nice to go through this trip now. Because I have come a long journey from that! Being in those downs, lows, unpleasant feelings, it is impossible to see the bigger picture. And now, two years later, the picture has become clearer.
Due to my description, it would be misleading to leave the text here. Because it was not the only experience I had at Bali; feeling miserable or suffering. I had also great times. But the general energy was low, and I let that be the canvas for my being. Taking unpleasant emotions too seriously led me into believing them. That there was something wrong in me, or in the trip, because I wasn’t just happy all the time.
And that is why I will let this Bali trip always be my teacher. It showed me that like the trip, life is not supposed to feel happy all the time. I experienced and outlived weird growing pains and lows, and it was still (or maybe just because of that) an important and amazing adventure.
After Ho Chi Minh City, our family traveled to Phu Quoc, which is an island that belongs to Vietnam. It is located in front of the cost of Cambodia, and there lives around 100 000 people. It is growing as a tourist island attraction.
We stayed at a hotel resort, where we made some daytrips from. For example, we went snorkling! To get to the place we hopped on a cabel car above the island coast. The island we traveled with the cabel car to was called the Hon Thom island.
They had a pearl farm right under the cable car route; we could see the areas where the shells were collected!
We ate more of the delicious Vietnamese food.
Lotus root chips (also called the”renkon chips”) and coconut ice cream.
Vietnamese rice paper veggierolls with sesame-peanut-sauce and Vietnamese tapas-plate.
And we visited a pepper farm. Phu Quoc is famous for its many pepper farms. Didn’t know that this is how pepper looks like when it’s growing!
Phu Quoc is also an island with some horrible history. They had a war memorial that was a prison museum dedicated to remind of the terrible times during the Vietnam war. It is also called The Coconut Tree prison.
We visited that place and could sense the torturing even after decades of time passed. They had human sized figures displaying the punishment methods they were forced to participate in.
Even though we did see the island a little bit, most of our time passed by at the resort, which is probably how most of the tourists spent their days while traveling to this island… But once we planned to be active, there was many interesting places to see.
It was an island under construction in many ways, and there were lots of new hotels coming together. But in the not so touristic areas of the island you could really tap into the feelings of the laid-back, island lifestyle.
There were many restaurants and cafes which were displaying local artists’ art.
In general, Phu Quoc was a vacation island for a reason. It was relaxing, and the sunsets and the beaches were beautiful.
I traveled to Vietnam in the end of 2018 to visit my family. They had moved to Ho Chi Minh City because of a job situation, and we planned to spend some familytime when my sister and I were able to fly to their new occasional home.
I had no expectations. Other than it’s gonna be warm! And warm it was, and humid!
I got some kind of a picture of the city of Ho Chi Minh (previously known as Saigon), but I got to experience only a fracture of it. The few days I spent in the metropolis (almost 13 million people living there!) left me with a curious attitude towards the historical city, and the country in general.
The first impression: there are scooters everywhere! And so much of them!
The second impression: people seem kind.
The third impression: it’s a city of contrasts: very poor/very fancy.
I got to walk around in couple of parts of the city and it was very versatile. In some corner there was a street food market, in some corner there was a chain hotel.
The city’s feeling was French and Asian. In a way that the buildings were very decorative that reminded of Paris for example, but the traffic with scooters and the humid weather with tropical plants put you right into the Southeast Asian “vibe”.
Ho Chi Minh City radiated appreciation of beauty and also some kind of a humbleness. It must come from the devastating near history with the Vietnam War. Without going too much to that topic, I can only say that it felt like there was a new time developing after tough times. To me that is always beautiful how humanity is able to rise from hard times.
Left photo: Notre Dam Cathedral of Saigon. It’s located in the Paris Square. Represents times when Vietnam was a French colony during 1880-1945 (wonder why it felt so French.. ;D). Right photo: Saigon station. Picture of Ho Tši Minh himself (former president of Vietnam).
The food was very colorful. What I remember best was the Vietnamese crepes, which were filled with all kinds of vegetables and yummy sauces. The fruit were also just from a different planet I was used to having in the cold north.
What I also will never ever forget, is the strenght of Vietnamese coffee. We were in for a treat when our familys’ friend kindly took me and my sister to their coffee place and introduced us to their traditional ways of drinking caffeine. Plainly, with a slow dripper (like in the photo) it was like hard liquor. I think I even got drunk from it (lol).
The other way we tasted it was as ice coffee. That was done by adding condensed milk and ice to the coffee. It was interesting! And much more pleasant for me. The beans most used in Vietnamese coffee is robusta, and that has a unique rosted flavour to it.
As we were in Ho Chi Minh for a short period of time, we wanted to go for an organized tourist trip with my sister to see Vietnam from a different view. We decided to hop on a tour bus one day that took us to a Buddhist temple and to a river tour at Mekong Delta.
This was the part in the Buddhist temple.
This was the part in the are of the Mekong Delta river. We learned that there are several “tribes” living in the river area in very primal circumstances. They make a living from tourism.
After our day trip, we were tired but happy to have seen such different ways of living.
We still had one day left in Ho Chi Minh before other plans, and my family took me to the famous market, Ben Thanh Market. It was full of food and other stuff! My focus was mainly in the colourful fruits and veggies. So pretty!
After seeing some city attractions, taking the tourist tour and visiting the Ben Thanh Market, it was time to pack up my belongies and start the next advernture in the “vacation island” of Vietnam: Phu Quoc.
I was walking to the grocery store. I had my headphones on and I listened to good music. I was in a good mood. Just enjoying the music and the upcoming food haul. I love food shopping!
The next thing I know, two people are approaching me. A man and a woman, and they started talking to me. I am usually quite open to chat with other people, but this time, I didn’t feel like it. I didn’t feel like stopping and I just passed the couple and continued my walk. I smiled and tried to show them the basic “not now, thank you” -gesture (the one useful with face-to-face fundraisers, heh…).
It was a bit weird situation. I sensed some tension from them when I just walked by. I think I was too deep in my world to react quickly enough for them, and since the situation was kinda over after my gesture, I just thought that the best thing to do was to continue walking away.
I still had my headphones on and I kept on walking when I started to hear shouting. I did think that maybe it’s them, shouting, but I didn’t really react.
The shouting continued and I took my headphones off and turned around. There was the woman. She had gotten pretty close to me and she was yelling at me. On the street, full on yelling at me. I was surprised of that aggression but managed to ask her “What is it?”. She yelled back at me some kind of a question.
I told her that “I don’t speak Swedish, I am sorry”. She looked at me sarcastically, and said, “Du ÄR svenskt” (a.k.a. you are swedish). With some sort of pride of apparently looking like a Swede I told her again that “I don’t understand what you are saying”. She continued to yell at me: “Var ligger —-“, (“where is—“), so, she was asking for directions. (I understand Swedish to some degree, but I’m still quite shy with it..:D.)
I told her once again, “I don’t speak Swedish, I am not from here, sorry” and she started to quit. I put my headphones back on and she went away.
The reason I am writing about this is, because, well, it was an interesting situation, and to the contrary of my previous experiences, I felt amazing after this encounter. I’ll explain why.
Five years ago when I had just moved to Helsinki, I had another yelling incident. I was traveling in a tram and I had unconsciously sat on a seat which was for handicaps, elderly, and pregnant women. An older woman started to yell at me because I was sitting in a wrong seat. I got so embarrassed and I told her “I am sorry, my mistake, I am so sorry…”. I felt like the worst person on earth. (Dramatic, not at all.)
When I got home, that incident was still very strongly alive in me and I cried. I felt like I was bad to the bones. For making that kind of a “major” mistake! “You should be ashamed!” It was very difficult for me to experience doing something “wrong”. I took her words as the truth, and even further, to the point where I thought my whole identity was purely just BAD. I felt so shameful.
For me, the reaction from any confrontation has always been an intense feeling of shame. Even with things I haven’t had anything to do with. Because, maybe I did do something…? I have always admired people who are able to defend themselves in an intense situation. People with “thick skin”. Who can just understand that they don’t have to take any sh*it from others because they have boundaries for themselves.
Why I felt so good after this yelling encounter was because I realized that the unnecessary weight of shame or fear of not doing everything like a good girl is now welcome to exit from my life. I am allowed to have my boundaries.
What I also realized from this latest yelling incident was that it was not about me. She had all the rights to be upset with me but she didn’t have the right to yell at me. My part was to realize this and not lower myself to be the one to blame, because I wasn’t the one acting mean. I didn’t have to take that. In this yelling incident, contrary to the others, I could see more clearly. I could see that, hold on. I am not responsible for the other person’s anger. Of course, in this situation I could have been more sharp and stop and help them out, but I didn’t. Does that make me a bad person? Am I obligated to always help? Am I alive to be there for everyone, always? Someone could argue and say, well, yes you are.
But when a person is choosing not to engage with others, are they deserving to be yelled at? Of course not! I realized that we are all responsible for our own emotions. She was angry at me, but was that a reason or a justification to yell at me? No.
We make different kinds of decisions all the time. Maybe they are not always the best ones, or maybe they are! One way or another, we can always learn from them! But while learning, it is not necessary to be yelled at, or to be the person who gets others’ emotions projected onto them.
When that happens, it is our right to understand that you are not responsible for others’ reactions to emotions. You are responsible for doing your best and choosing when to be there for others and when not to. You are not obligated to fulfill random obligations from others. You can, and to some degree, that’s even admirable. But you are not a bad person if you don’t always feel like doing so.
The world keeps giving us situations to practice our boundaries. And I saw this incident as a true life lesson.
So, random person projecting your emotions on me: thank you for teaching me an important insight.
I am not a bad person if I am not always the most helpful person on earth. And it is not a reason to be yelled at, or a reason to feel bad about myself.
1. Rinse and chop the sweetpotatoes into “sticks”: first half the potato, then half again, and again, until you are satisfied with the size.
2. Lay the chopped sweetpotatoes on a tray that has baking paper on it.
3. Pour some olive oil, and add salt, chilipowder and sweet paprika on top of the sweetpotatoes and mix everything with your hands, massage throughoutly.
4. Put the sweetpotatoes in the oven for around 30 minutes in 200 C degrees.
Salt 1 tsp
Honey 1 tsp
Oregano 1/2 tsp
Fresh lemon juice 2 tbsp
1. Mix everything in a bowl.
2. Try the taste.
3. Add more of any of the ingredients if it feels like there is something missing in the taste.
Extra: garnish the dish with chives.
I visited Åland a couple years ago for the first time and I fell in love with the place. The small island between Finland and Sweden charmed me with its carefree vibe and rustic beauty. Last year I traveled to Åland again and I was just as delighted.
Me and my boyfriend spent our midsummer biking around the pretty island and sleeping in cute accommodations.
We took a boat (Viking Line) from Stockholm to Mariehamn on a Friday morning. The trip took approximately 7 hours. After arrival we rented our rides for the weekend from a bike rental right opposite to the boat terminal. We strolled to Mariehamn’s cozy city center where we enjoyed ice creams and soon started our biking journey to our first destination.
Our first adventure was to bike 20 kilometers to our first accommodation. It took us only about one and a half hours, which gave us lots of time to enjoy the surroundings of our first home for the night. We stayed in a guesthouse called Amalia. We had cows as our neighbours and fields as our yard.
In general, during our trip, we saw lots of cows, and I discovered that they are really calming animals. And curious. They really want to know what’s going on when you get closer to them! Animals are amazing.
Anyways, in Amalia we had a small room, just with beds. Everything else was shared with other travellers; toilets, showers and the kitchen. In the morning of Saturday we ate a fulfilling breakfast from their breakfast buffet and I found my new favourite drink; pasteurized apple juice, straight from the applegardens of Åland. It’s so good! ❤
After the breakfast, we continued our biking and headed to the harbour of Långnäs. As we approached the destination, we soon understood that during midsummer (and the weekend) the ferry schedules weren’t that vibrant. We had planned to spend the day island hopping and seeing Åland from the coast, but our plan changed as we discovered that we would have to wait the ferries for looong times. This meant that we would reach our second accommodation only quite late in the night. So, we made a choice to stay on the mainland and biked right back where we had just gotten from… 😀 A little detour and some extra kilometers didn’t luckily bother us. It was a beautiful midsummer day and we had a lot of time to bike towards the next accommodation with a new plan.
This turned out to be a nice option, as we stopped at my old favourite little cafe on the way, Brobacka. We had coffees and pastries. Rhubarb pie and Åland’s pancake. I stayed at Brobacka the last time I visited Åland with a friend, and it was so nice to stop by this time again. It is the coziest little B&B!
After our little fika (coffeepause), our route took us to a restaurant called Smakby, and to a medieval castle right next to it; Kastelholm. These are both popular tourist attractions which were so nice to see! And we got to taste probably the best ice cream on earth; Smakby’s home made old vanilla ice cream. Ridiculously amazing. Btw, Smakby is the “dream project” of the famous chef Michael Björklund, and their focus is on quality local produce. I have been wanting to go there for a long time, so this new “detour” we took was clearly a better route Universe had in store for us. 😉
After eating and enjoying the beautiful area of the old castle Kastelholm, we started our last part of biking that day and eventually arrived to our second home for the night, Stalldalen. This was a hotel close to a brewery called Stallhagen, where we went for a dinner that evening. These two were walking distance apart from each other. (But of course we biked there.) We ate good meals in the evening and had a little craft beer tasting as well. And for dessert, another rhubarb pie with vanilla ice cream.
Came Sunday morning and we were spoiled with an amazing breakfast, homemade kombucha included! After the luxury, we hopped on our bikes and started our last day of biking and headed towards a beach which was recommended to us by the owner of the hotel we stayed in.
There we went on our bikes again, and arrived to a beautiful spot in the middle of solitude. We settled on smooth rocks and enjoyed the peaceful place.
We still had around 20km to bike towards Mariehamn, so we decided not to relax for too long. It was time to jump on our rides again. We drove by cute villages and went from biking in the middle of forests to suddenly biking on Mariehamn’s airport streets. (Google maps isn’t always a friend. :D) Finally we found our way back to the city and rewarded ourselves with yet again tasty ice creams before handing the bikes back in and heading to the boat.
We ended up biking around 75 kilometers that weekend. In Åland the biking is quite pleasing because the roads are in good shape and it is not that hilly. Here is our route in total: Mariehamn to Amalia 20km, Amalia (with the detour) to Stalldalen 35km, and Stalldalen to Mariehamn 20km. In summary, we biked, we ate, we biked, we ate, we biked and we ate 😀 ❤
In the boat on our way back to Stockholm, tired but happy, I couldn’t help to think that Åland had a pretty special place in my heart.
Till the next time then, Åland!
Would love to hear your thoughts about Åland if you have any experiences?
I feel like that place is full of magic and it is full of food for the soul. 😉 ❤
Recently I bumped into a really interesting video about THE spiritual awakening. I wanted to write about it here to reflect on my own journey with it. I find it awesome to be able to talk about this awakening process and its stages by actual names! It helps a lot, at least it helped me a lot.
Some time ago I came up with the term “second puberty” about the whole awakening process, because it truly feels like it. It’s also just as normal and different to all of us like puberty. The reason I wanted to reflect on this topic is that awakening is nothing special, really. It is maybe displayed like it. But it should be more widely talked about, so that maybe it could help a lot of people who go through sudden feelings and shifts in their being. We are growing and it is not always pleasant. Our brain is LITERALLY changing to shift perspective. And it’s something to talk about!
Spiritual awakening, or just awakening, is not something fuzzy, only-for-some-people, it is a part of the human evolution. Some of us just go through it younger and some of us older. We are now living the times where it is possible on a collective level to develop spiritually. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a good example of this evolution (more about it here).
Self-actualization (the highest stage in the hierarchy of needs) is ultimately the spiritual awakening. What it simply means is that we as humans become aware of ourselves, our behaviour and our individual needs. We no longer seek approval from the expectations of society for example, but we start to seek internal balance. We simply start serving our souls instead of our egos (if this sounds weird spiritual hoo-haa, I get it! But, I truly recommend researching more about the topics of the human psyche, ego, awareness, etc. It is such an interesting world!). And, you can always just stay tuned for posts later on covering those topics! ❤ They are coming, I promise! 😉
Anyway, for now, let’s get back to the topic: awakening.
Christina Lopes, The Heart Alchemist, lists 6 stages in the spiritual awakening (here), and I will use them as a base here too, because I found her stages very helpful. The explanations are my own reflections and experiences of those stages.
The wake-up! You kinda just wake up. This can happen slowly or just like that. I started to realize that hold on, there is more to life than the external world we are born into. There has to be! We are not just ment to be robots that go to work, struggle, and die. What happened to me was that I for example didn’t really want to party anymore, I started to be interested in terms like soul and universe and I just felt different. I got curious about self-development.
The Bliss. You start to see life trough lenses of bliss. You get glimpses of bliss, connection and happiness. I started to understand that everything is connected. I wanted to spread positive vibes only and I remember being amazed by how everyone else seems not to understand the beauty of life. Like all we have is this moment! Can’t you see!
The Dark Night. After the bliss times, you are eventually going to face some darker times. This is the time where I started to go through my baggage. From childhood until the current life. It can be heavy. But we have to face the things we haven’t yet so that we can free ourselves. It can feel like the shittiest time of your life, but it is necessary for growth. Maybe you feel like you’re depressed, anxious, loosing it. Or maybe you are growing. You can look at hard times from many perspectives, but ultimately they are in your life to bring clarity and to free you from yourself. I personally felt like wtf, what did I do wrong here? Where did the happiness days go? I was blaming myself about feeling shitty, but now I understand that it was a part of this journey. Of course you need to dive deep for a while. And the more you resist it (like I did by blaming myself), the longer that period is lasting.
The Void. The Void is here to give us a breather. It is the time where we are probably loosing our identities, just feeling like we are completely lost in life. It is the time where you have gotten out of the dark times, but you’re still just feeling very weird about life. Like what is this really all about? Does anything matter? Or does everything matter? I have personally felt so much frustration in this phase. And resistance. This is the time to calm down and give yourself time. Patience.
The Groundedness. You start feeling peace in yourself. You are more accepting and you have more empathy not only for others but for yourself, too. You are more mature. You are coming out of the “second puberty”. You are more emotionally stable and you can handle the highs and the lows of life with strength and understanding. You are grateful.
The Purpose. You are finding deep meaning in yourself which leads to meaningful work in the world. You are finding the things you like, are skilled at and are motivated towards. How cool! You realize you being alive has a purpose and you want to share that. No matter what you do as your work, you are enjoying it to the fullest and finding meaning and joy. You have deep roots in yourself and your light shines not only for you but for others as well. You are basically a perfect human being. Ha! Nope that’s not true. It is just that, you truly realize to take full responsibility of your life and handle things with calmness and joy.
What a ride, huh?
Maybe I am in the midst of the stage 3, 4 and 5. Definitely experiencing all of these stages anyway every now and then. They don’t go linearily. But, as I grow, the line seems to go like this:
So there are dips, but the resilience from the other stages is there to continue the growth again. This whole experience is really personal and not everyone may even go through these stages. Some of us also feel these stages more deeply, and for some it can be very light. So again, like a puberty! I felt puberty heavily anyway!
This was my reflection on the “spiritual” awakening, or the “second puberty”. Would be great to know if you are going through it, too. I really liked the whole concept of the stages. It’s a nice tool to reflect with. And, if you want a deeper take on this, I highly recommend the video from Christina Lopes. She is amazing!