Light is Increasing in Saimaa! (even thought Wintertime is Getting Closer here in Finland)


This year I’ve published only two posts here at the blog. Yes, my plan was to write less and work on other things in 2019, but I have to say that this little amount of stories was not my intention. Later on, I’ll go back to the year 2018 in a few stories because in my (and in SaimaaLife) it was in many ways “a turning point year”. However, since my blog break will continue, I want to share this one post with you now. 

By the way, you know what? This first photo is taken on a day when Japanese TV group of NHK visited at my home in Punkaharju. Soon, I and my friends are on TV all over Japan!! It feels unreal!! I think I realized the whole thing only when I saw this Japanese program ad.

But now, some photos, happenings, thoughts, and feelings since last August. Again, it has been life in its all colors here in the middle of Saimaa lake nature!

Last August after summer holiday a new kind of everyday life started when I moved under my own roof from my marriage. Partly life change was a relief but partly I struggled with big fears and anxiousness about the future. 

An unexpected hard hit came when on 23th of August our dear father died. Leukemia won. The grief was big in our family. In my life it also strengthened the awareness of my roots and willingness to know more about them. My desire to forward the spirit that my father had had and that was grown also into me from our farm already in my childhood, strengthened in me. 

Autumn 2018 will stay in my life also as a time when I started to recover from my second depression and burnout. When kids were with their father I found myself with my mother and her Jonas dog. We watched movies together, talked and I made long walks with Jonas. I really found the concept of “Animal Therapy” then. I’ve said to many that after last autumn and winter, Jonas dog is not anymore “it” to me, Jonas is “he”.

I learned new ways to recharge and process my emotions, but I also took all my old ways in a more active use. The Aimless Wandering and Wondering in Nature Technique was one.

The highlight of my autumn was THE first SaimaaLife Travel group organised with the Japanese tour operator Finntour and Yukie Tonuma. These Erie-sans were so inspiring women!! I was happy to see how they enjoyed all things we had planned for them with Asaka – like Saimaa crafts shopping in Savonlinna and mushroom excursion guided by “the Finnish mushroom queen” Saimi Hoyer at Hotelli Punkaharju. Cottage life they were able to taste at Naaranlahti Resort and the entrepreneur Janne Hänninen took them for boating on the lake Puruvesi. The group visited also my home. I offered them for example my homemade chaga mushroom tea and told about my everyday life in Saimaa as a mompreneur.

Here you can see more photos and read about Hotelli Punkaharju. It’s Finland’s oldest hotel and I just love it! I sleep like a baby in their beds and I could eat their food every single day – especially have breakfast there!

Right when I thought that things could become a bit more steady, a water pipe damage at my home revealed. It was definitely a setback to a situation where I had very little money and little energy aswell.

We were still able to enjoy Christmas and New Year at our forest cottage home. It felt wonderful! When kids left their father, I breathed in deeply and long, opened Excel and started to make finance planning for the following year.

I was surprised to notice that by all things and emotions experienced in autumn, I noticed that my new year started with a new kind of relaxed and trustful inner feeling; I felt that I needed to control life less, instead I trusted that no matter what would come on my way, there would be a purpose in it in the long run. I felt that the main thing to keep my focus with was to be honest to myself and make choices that would maintain or increase the peace of my soul. It would bring good not only to me but also for all and everything around me.

For 3 months me and the kids lived in an apartment that was in the old village school were my mother and her brothers had studied when they were kids. Those months I focused on stabilizing my personal and company finance and just taking care of myself. In the evenings me and the kids read books together and did all kinds of simple things together in our small home. It felt wonderful. Also to notice that our wellbeing and happiness was not attached to any physical place, was an empowering experience.

One of the most valuable skills that I practiced a lot during that time was self-compassion.

I could only smile when Asaka sent me a message from Tokyo and showed me photos of a travel brochure where she had been able to negotiate our Saimaa content. After so so many years of work setbacks, it felt amazing to feel that this maybe was the first sign that the head wind was about to change to tail wind for us!

I worked to other companies to get money while Asaka worked on SaimaaLife and increasing the Saimaa awareness in Japan. I would have wanted so much to  do the same and make more 360° videos to watch with Virtual Reality headsets but I needed to contain myself. After all, this phase was needed in my life both personally but also so that our common project could grow to the next level in the future.

Winter turned into spring. After the deepest grief my mother and us, 6 children, started to learn more things that our father had used to do. Forestry was one thing. Getting to know our own forests better awakened my interest towards it. After all, I had applied to become forestry engineer years ago. With my little sister Marianne we decided to go to a course that was planned for new forest owners who wanted to learn to take better care of their forests. I felt so inspired and knew that NOW I would be in the right path in my life! 

For long I had planned to go and just lay on the ground in the forest. On one spring night, during full moon, I did that. The moment was magical and the feeling of connection in every level so strong!! 

I wanted to offer the same experience to others too, and started it with our spring SaimaaLife Travel group while we were on a Parikkala train station. It was so fun!

Finally me and the kids were able to move back to our forest cottage.

Moving happened two days before Japanese travel group was coming. Those were hectic days and I remember how while unpacking I was preparing my life story material to share with the group. They had asked me to draw my life line to show them. Now I can say that ALL people should draw that and see what kind of a line they would have and what things inside it! 

Here’s the recipe for my favorite mushroom soup that I offered my guests.

Our second SaimaaLife Travel went perfectly. I was so happy to take this group to Tynkkylän Lomaniemi which is one of my favorite places in Punkaharju. 

If you ask me, the highlight of the travel was this! At Tynkkylän Lomaniemi -with the guidance of the entrepreneur Jukka Heikkonen- each group member was able to plant their own tree plant. That’s something I did in my family’s forests while I was a child. Cherishing nature connection as its best.

It brings me big pleasure to be able to offer the same simple, yet amazing experiences to SaimaaLife guests. I’m passioned with sauna so naturally also this tour included having sauna many times – combined with swimming. Naturally is the best with swimming too 😉

Here’s a link to my story “Naturally in Natural Waters” if you’re interested. About having sauna I’ve wrote this: “My Love Letter to Finnish Sauna”

Like during previous years, also this year, my SaimaaLife followers have supported me in the middle of my life challenges. It feels so amazing that for example this beautiful Japanese woman, Kirie, came to Saimaa already the second time to enjoy our nature and see me! Also, the fact that it’s not only women who I feel share this life journey with me, feels a world to me. After all, in the end, we are in the same boat in life -all humans. Having courage to support and share life’s joys and sorrows with each other – that’s the thing that makes us all feel better and more connected.

Ability to get to know different nationalities and cultures through my work is also something that I love and that helps me to overcome the hard working days. Here’s Petra, my German follower, visiting me. Truly, all people are in the end the same – no matter what country they live or what culture they are coming from.

Here’s also the recipe for this recipe of my mother: The Simplest (and The Best) Rhubarb Pie. 

During the past year, I’ve particularly stopped to notice when I’ve been able to bring people to get a connection with nature (and I believe very often through it to themselves). On this day I was grateful to be able to offer this experience to Aya Ogawa, the Japanese handmade ceramic artist.

During the past year, I’ve consciously put myself to experience new things, see new places and meet new people. It has done so good! Like this ice-hockey match with my kids, my sister and her spouse in Lappeenranta. Also at the beginning of summer, I updated my own style to look more what I felt inside – it gave me fresh feeling and thoughts as well and helped me to process what I want from my future and who I really am nowadays.

New friends – yes, the past year has brought many new friends -like-minded people- to my life. Stina is one of the dearests among them. I could not imagine my life without her anymore. Or her delicious food! 

Talking about good food and friends. Another beautiful personality that I got to know was the Finnish singer-songwriter Aino Venna. Also, without her, I could simply not live anymore! She is not only extremely creative and talented but also has businesswoman and entrepreneur side – just like I have. Today we can say that we are not only friends but also each other’s work coaches. I love it! Besides, one of Aino’s passions is wild food. For example, this salad here, that she made, was simple yet delicious!

After my father’s passing I’ve learned to appreciate my loved ones and be really present with even more. It has been such a good thing. Here we had such a nice evening together with my grandma when she taught me how to repair wollen socks.

When me and my husband decided to move separately, it was unclear whether we would actually divorce. In both of us there was still a hope that we could still build the bridge between us. There were many kinds of phases during the past year but little by little it became more likely that we would finalise our divorce. As one thing to that direction we decided to put our Savonlinna town home on sale. I thought I would grief that a lot but eventually I felt more that it was already time to let go of that part of our history.

I consciously made time and space to myself to go through all hard emotions and fears related to my new kind of future but I also consciously grabbed on all light and happy things. One meaningful thing for me was to be the speaker when the mental health association of my home town turned 40 years old. It was such an honor and the good feedback strengthened my feeling that talking about these topics and sharing my experiences is at the heart of my personal life mission, and the reason why I exist in general.

Life continued to give lemons in the same way but at some point, during the past year, I noticed that they didn’t take my mood down anymore as they had done before. That was one sign that told me that I was healing from my second depression and burnout, and that I would never Experience the 3rd ones since something BIG had finally changed inside me. It felt great!

I focused on strengthening my new life path in many ways. One big thing was to make more time to spend relaxed time with my kids. In summer 2019 we found camping places and their tiny rental cottages. Here we are on a 4-day holiday trip at Tykkimäki amusement park that included also visiting Helsinki to see our friends.

With both of my kids, I made a holiday trip separately aswell. For an ex-workaholic like me, it was a big thing to notice that FINALLY, I had learned to give myself permission to “forget” all work stuff and To do’s in general and just spend free time as I wanted. With Liilia we made a holiday trip to Tampere to visit Särkänniemi amusement park. Great memories to cherish!

Already last August it had become clear to me that I want (and I felt what was needed) was that I take a long step further from all SaimaaLife things that I had done since I started the journey with it in 2012. Simply, just so that I could “see closer” and separate the things to focus on the future and the things to leave out. When Savorak Laiturit -Finland’s 3rd biggest dock company (located in Saimaa) wanted me to come and develop their brand and communication, I knew that THIS IS IT. I thanked nature for the tail wind it showed to me. I enjoyed (and enjoy) working for them but also it was a big thing to me and the girls to get their dock. For years -because of the lack of the money- I had not been able to offer my kids travels or anything, but now I was not only able to have a real holiday with them, but also bring something to our home that gave also to them a great joy.

Well, this photo tells all. I would have not wanted to make my travel to Swedish Lapland with any other person than my little sister Marianne. She has always been the closest to me of all my dear siblings but after our father´s passing our relationship has grown much much more closer. It’s been a big thing and also brought comfort to notice how many things beautiful can grow from sad and hard life events.

Thank you Maija and Oscar for your invitation! Katterjokk and its surroundings were amazing and definitely a small “hiking bug” bite me 😉 You do such a great work in NOLS by taking people to nature and teaching them wilderness (and life) skills! (Photo: Oscar Manguy Photography)

Well, this is another photo that tells all. Loved to share this moment with my sis, but also loved to notice that clearly I am a kind of a person whose life goes in a way that the older I become, the younger I feel myself mentally. O´boy I want to encourage people to grow to this same direction. The same life can become so different when you can free yourself from the restrictions of your own mind!

This photo is also very meaningful to me. I had an intuitive feeling that I want to go to Lapland but I didn’t know that I would find peace in me there. Peace with many things but as one big thing peace with my divorce. “I am ready and I want to move on and open a new page in my life”, I noticed saying to myself. All grief and pain was away and instead I felt acceptance in my heart and deep gratitude for the journey that I had been able to share with the father of my children as a couple. Also, that our relationship now was good even though our marriage had come to the end. Besides all that, I felt deep acceptance and gratitude about life in general – My life and future may not be the most ordinary one, but it would be MY kind of a life. I felt no need to fight against it anymore, but desire to open myself to it more. (Photo: Oscar Manguy Photography)

When the Japanese TV group visited us, I remember it felt still a bit strange to talk just about me and the kids living in Punkaharju. However, after my Lapland travel I had no more difficulties to say that I am a single parent and a divorced woman. It felt good to be able to do so and feel that this is my life now and I am inside out OK with it. My happiness was not bound to a relationship anymore. The past year had definitely showed me that I had been able to grow to find it from so so many other things and people in life.

The same life continued but somehow it got different as I “settled down” to the life that had started almost a year before. I began to prepare next autumn and wintertime by freezing wild blueberries and all kinds of berries and work on the things that I saw needed to do with my company next. 

I continued strengthining my skill to enjoy little, beautiful moments and making time just for myself. But also I decided that in the future I wanted to keep making more time to my friends and opening myself up to new experiences.

If you’re interested, I recommend you to read this old story of mine: Connection is Why we are here”.

“I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” -John Muir-. My connection to nature, and myself, I promised to cherish. Since these moments had brought me to the life and peace that I was able to experience in the end of summer 2019.

Feel free to read and see my story “Meeting with trees”. 

Also, this might give you thoughts ans ideas to develop your own tools to feel better both mentally and physically: “Simple Stress Relief Technique with the help of nature sounds”.

In the beginning of August 2019 me and my sis still made a short travel to Puumala – one of the lake nature pearls of Saimaa. With the help of my new friend and warm-hearted person, the Finnish actor Jarmo Mäkinen and his family we were able to visit many different kinds of saunas. That travel gave me much inspiration – after it it was good to finish summer holiday season and head my mind to the new autumn!

After Puumala visit, on my birthday, 8th of August 2019, I published this:

“The first photo is taken in July 2018, the second one in July 2019. I remember that day last year; my mom called and asked whether I would come to pick red currents for the winter because the season was soon over. I felt exhausted but went anyway thinking that maybe picking berries would give me some energy – I had always loved doing it though. However, after sitting in the berry bush only for about 30 minutes I realized that I simply cannot continue. I barely had energy to sit and breathe. I took a photo of myself, looked at it, and heard the voice inside me saying ”Mari, how did you end up to that state again?!? NO, NO, NO this is not the life you wanna live or the dead eyes you wanna see!!”

A year has passed by now.

Yes, it has included many heavy things; moving to an own house, learning to be a single parent, financial stress, my dad’s death, big water pipe damage and so on. However, the year has also included thousands of small and big changes in the way that I act and think and what kind of decisions and choices I make in life, both work and private life. All born from the moment in the berry bush, where -after realizing my lousy state- I gave myself a compassionate mental hug and said ”I will rise from this exhaustion and depression, and I do it in the way that I will never ever come back again.”

Well, here I am now. Turning 39 year old today.

Naturally, I don’t look at my current life everyday day as happy and fresh as I looked on the mountain hiking in Lapland a couple of weeks ago. However, it is true that BIG & GOOD change has happened in me in a year. It feels wonderful, and the best feeling comes from the knowledge and just gut, intuitive feeling that many changes are now here to stay. Finally.🙏

The quote of Socrates says,

”The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

It is so very true. Today I realized that after the day in the berry bush, I actually started to put that thought into practice; I RE-DIRECTED A BIG AMOUNT OF MY ENERGY. So, I could say that ”one secret” behind the change behind these two photos is the thought behind that quote. Wise words from Socrates to keep in mind (and put into practice) 😘

Mari 🌿”

So, what I want to say to you is that light is increasing in Saimaa even though wintertime is getting stronger.

I hope that sharing this post and my journey during the past year, gives you too a trust and hope that no matter what happens in your life, you will survive. And not only survive, but also give you experience that the events which may cause you grief and pain, may turn out eventually to events that help you to find a natural way to a life that includes a deeper state of gratitude, wellbeing and happiness. 

After the past year, for the first time in my life, I can say that my own two feet carry me. My roots are stronger and deeper in the soil of Saimaa lake nature than ever. Let the wind blow also in the future – I will bend but not break. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that in your heart. It’s something that can help you to fly wherever you want – or just be still, breathe peacefully, and feel that while doing so you have everything and no need to go anywhere.


As I said break here at will continue, but meanwhile I continue publishing updates every now and then on SaimaaLife Facebook and Instagram. Feel free to follow The story there!

With love from Saimaa,


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