When I started this blog I made a decision that SaimaaLife would include both material and immaterial side of wellbeing.
The reason behind my decision was simple: I think wellbeing IS both. It comes from inside but also has its material side.
After writing my blog for some time it became clear to me that the main thing I'm talking in my blog is the things IN you. The mental, immaterial stuff in life.
So I questioned my decision of taking material stuff on board.
This winter I was there again. Pondering what I want SaimaaLife to be.
At the same time I found Sustainably Chic´s online shop for sustainable accessories. I fell in love with La Petite N-Kay´s organic wool headband and necklace and also this forest green organic chain and lace headband/bracelet.
I decided to make an order but the next question was: whether to post about my new accessories in my blog or not?
While working on my wellbeing I had lost my desire for "unneeded" material stuff in my life. Somehow naturally I had started to take steps towards a simpler way of life. Life where I only buy things that I really need or things that were in some other way particularly meaningful to me. I didn't need to get something new and pretty just to make me feel good because the sources of my wellbeing were something different. It felt good.
So what´s the point for that kind of a blogger to post about accessories?? Stuff that I think we all can agree that we can live without?
Because we all need material things E-V-E-R-Y S-I-N-G-L-E D-A-Y.
And what kind of stuff we live with DOES matter a lot for our physical and mental wellbeing.
So it IS worth to look for material things, like clothes, that support your wellbeing and help you to be your natural and relaxed self. I concluded.
When the mail brought me the package from Natalie and I wore this green headband and put Globe Hope´s white tunic and winter jacket and my mom´s handmade scarf on me... Well, I smiled.
This looks so me!! I screamed to my husband while standing in front of the mirror. "I´m again a step closer to look like the person I feel that I am inside! I feel so good in this outfit!!".
At that same moment I remembered my project to find a natural looking style for a +30 working mother. I´m getting there! I thought when we went to take these photos with my husband.
I definitely want to inspire my readers to beYOUtiful and find also material stuff that can help them to get this easy and happy feeling that I have now! I thought while standing in the sun after our photos had been taken.
I may not write typical product posts or reviews in SaimaaLife in the future but I DO want to post about brands and products that have helped me to feel good in my body and mind.
And yes, I may also post about accessories and other stuff that we can also live without. Because sometimes, many times actually, a thing that is meaningless to some is very meaningful for another.
And just because practical experience has taught me that extremes aren´t that good for your wellbeing and happiness.
Especially not when you´re looking for a sustainable and natural way to be well and happy.
I started the habit when I was 14 years old. It was my first summer job in the restaurant business. Because of my work I was on my feet 8 hours a day.
I told my mom about my tired feet and she told me to lift my legs up for a while. I did it and felt immediately relieved. After that it became something I did every day after work.
I worked 6 summers as a waitress during my school and university years. During that time I developed a pretty strong habit of my leg lifting ritual.
After graduation my work was not physically tiring anymore. But mentally it was. I soon realized that my habit is a good way to cool my overheated brains too.
Then I became a mother. Sleep debt and puffy eyes became my everyday companion. I noticed that I react to sleep debt also with my feet. One day I remembered what runs in our family; varicose veins. A thing that most women would like to avoid, just like cellulite. So do I. That´s why I kept on lifting my legs up on my maternity leave too.
My tired feet were also one reason why I started practicing headstand.
To keep my feet (and mind) light.
Then last autumn when I was planning my first yoga based stretching and relaxation classes I stumbled into a relaxation exercise almost identical to mine while going through a big pile of books for my class. The only difference was that I hadn't lifted my legs up TOTALLY up to rest against the wall. I had used pillows and such instead.
I did the exercise and almost straight away felt the magic of it: all the heaviness and tiredness started to fade away from my feet. The feeling was just heavenly!!
So after that I tweaked my habit a bit.
A small change, but a significant one if you ask me.
And this is the way I´m going to lift my legs up for the next 20 years to come!
I hate that feeling: the feeling of inadequacy as a parent.
Even though deep down in me I know that I am a pretty decent parent, there are moments when the voice inside my head is saying: You SHOULD be better.
I´d like to close my ears because it simply harms my wellbeing and prevents me from enjoying my parenthood wholeheartedly.
Life has taught me that it´s not that easy to be a working parent and balance between millions of things. So I´ve learned to be more merciful and compassionate towards myself and to remind myself that good enough is enough. It has helped me a lot.
But what I especially hate about the feeling of inadequacy is that it always comes back. It feels like never ending battle where there seems to be only temporary peace. It´s frustrating!
Couple of weeks ago on a Saturday afternoon it happened again.
Our girls were taking afternoon nap and my husband was having coffee on the couch and looked a bit sad. "Is there something bothering you?" I asked.
I feel like a bad father. I don´t play enough with the children. When Liilia asked me to play with her yesterday I answered I can´t because I need to work. I felt such a lousy father after that! He answered.
But you ARE a good father! I´ve seen what a great father you are! And you DO play with them too. Of course all parents could play more but hey, what´s enough? You have your job, you´re helping me with the blog and you do a lot of other things for our family. What more COULD you do with the time and energy you have?
I don´t know? But I feel that I SHOULD do more. I SHOULD play with them more.
I took a cup coffee too. I started to think how many times I had refused to play with our girls during that week.
Many. Because Mom needs to get this work done today. Because mom needs to do the laundry. Because it´s already late and mom is tired.
Then it happened. The feeling of guilt was there again. The feeling that I am not enough.
I have tried many ways to feel good about my parenthood and learned that adding reasoning to what you feel helps.
Why did I say no to my children? Did I make a reasonable choice?
More often than not I've noticed that I actually have quite good and valid reasons to say no. It is parents´ duty to do things so that family life can run smoothly. Everyone needs clean clothes, breakfast, dinner, evening snack, good night sleep and time outdoors. Everyone needs time to rest too.
Then I remembered the 80/20 rule again: If in the long run you're doing fine 80 % of the time, you don´t need to feel guilty for those 20 % when you're not at your best. I felt a bit better again.
I also remembered what I had concluded about a year ago when I was struggling with these same feelings of guilty and inadequacy: That children don´t need you to be with them all the time. All that they need is that you are there for them when they really need you.
That is still what I truly believe in.
I continued my thinking process and ended up making a confession to myself. I confessed that honestly I am not that good at playing with our children. At least indoors. Sometimes I even prefer working over playing with them.
First I felt bad but then I realized that I have my own things what I like to do with our children. I DO like to build things with them, like playing with legos. I also like to bake with our children. And what I especially like is to play outdoors with them.
But wait a minute! I did all those things with the girls during that week!
So maybe I shouldn´t feel guilty of saying no to some of their playing requests?
I have been learning mindfulness over the years and little by little become better at gently pushing away other thoughts when I want to concentrate on the most important thing of the moment. Like playing with our girls in this case.
For many years I had also worked for living less on autopilot on my everyday life, learned to seize the meaningful moments of life more and prioritize them in practice in my everyday life.
It has brought more quality to time spent with my family.
And I believe that it has brought more quality to our children´s and my husband´s life too, and helped me to be a better mom and wife.
So maybe it was not about minutes and hours. I HAD TRIED to give my children all my presence and attention when I had been with them during that week. All that I was able to be at that very moment.
Maybe that's enough.
After our conversation me and my husband decided to do something together as a family the next day. Something that we all would enjoy.
We went kick-sledging on the lake, did some ice-fishing and after that ate some warm sandwiches with tea by the fireplace.
When I went to bed that night the feeling of inadequacy was gone and the peace of mind was back again.
Before I fell asleep I still said to myself the words that had helped me many times before to feel good about myself:
All that you can do is to try your best.
Trying your best is enough.
YOU ARE ENOUGH.
After those good news I started to think what kind of people Dalene and Pete Heck, a Canadian couple behind this travel blog, might be.
In December it was set that Hecktic Travels would visit us.
Back then we were also planning a new layout for SaimaaLife. We ended up having a very simple one. We were happy with the decision, but because I had not seen that kind of layouts very often I was a bit uncertain about our choice.
I surfed to Hecktic Travels website.
For my surprise I noticed that Dalene and Pete´s blog had a lot of visual similarities with our forthcoming SaimaaLife blog. Simple layout, lots of space for photos and no annoying banners. I loved it!
Visiting their blog increased my confidence about our layout decision. It also gave me a good feeling that we might have something more in common with this couple.
In the beginning of January I started to think more about their visit. I went back to their blog and read Dalene and Pete´s story about the reasons why they travel. I remember thinking that they are brave for sharing their story with the world. I know from my own experience that it's not always the easiest thing to do if there's some personal hardships involved.
After reading a couple of their posts there were no doubts about Dalene´s storytelling skills. They just hook you up! And the photos...well, they were just amazing!
As a person who wants to learn some storytelling and photography I was sold. I was even more eager to meet this couple. The fact that National Geographic used to be my favorite magazine during my university years and Hecktic Travels had won the National Geographic Travelers of the Year 2014 award was a cherry on the cake.
Finally in February they arrived. And yes, from the first moment on it was clear that we didn´t need to worry about awkward small talks. We were carried away by the conversations basically about everything. Fun stuff but also difficult stuff.
During Dalene and Pete´s 2-day visit we had time to have a trip to our family´s favorite place on Lake Puruvesi - the Petri island. We walked on the lake, drank some fresh lake water, tried some fishing and shot an underwater video.
Then it was time for a relaxing lunch by the campfire.
I thought how grateful I am for the chance to meet people like Dalene and Pete. People who are so genuine and down to earth. People who don´t try to be anything else than themselves.
It matters so much what kind of people we surround ourselves with.
Do we surround ourselves with people who bring out the best in us? Or the worst?
With people who encourage us? Or who bring us down?
Or with people who let us to be ourselves.
That kind of people we should surround ourselves with.
After our friends had left I also thought how happy I am that we created SaimaaLife´s Life in Finland product.
I can already now say that it has given us a lot!
We haven´t had many visitors but that's just good. It's better to have less. More quality than quantity so to speak. That you can have energy to also give something back to them.
We definitely hope to meet Dalene and Pete again some day. Before that we will follow the journey of Hecktic Travels online.
Now we´re just happy that we had a chance to walk a moment with this inspiring and warmhearted couple!
Some people seem to think alike Check out Dalene and Pete´s post about their visit with us.
Six months behind and three months to go with our family´s "living in a countryside experiment".
Like I wrote last December, I've been enjoying the peacefulness and feeling of security here a lot. We have felt ourselves warmly welcome to this village and it has meant a lot to us.
During past six months I´ve learned that a chance to just open the door and go out means quality of life to us.
We have enjoyed that enormously! I´ve been able to let our children to play outside and do my own work indoors without having to watch them all the time. Or to wear whatever I want and go out too, split the wood, shovel snow or just play with the kids.
Altogether, this possibility have meant more time outdoors for our family.
And I haven't yet found a reason why it would be better to spend more time indoors than outdoors!
So we´ve enjoyed a lot living in a house instead of an apartment building.
And I´m happy to announce that we will be living in this very same house also next year!!
From next September till the end of May this house will be our home. After that, we´ll see... Let´s hope that things would work out like we would like them to. Keep your fingers crossed! I´d love to see all the ideas that we've got while living here in the middle of nowhere (almost) to come alive