It’s January 2020. You can imagine that I thought a while whether there is -at this point- need to go back to my year 2018 and conclude the small post series that I started almost a year ago. My intention was to write this, and a few following -last- posts already in spring 2019. But life happened, as it often does. Now I can only say that I feel that there was a reason why things didn’t go as I planned. Why I write this not until now – whereas I’ve already moved on to the next phase in my life, and with SaimaaLife.
Despite it’s already January 2020, I found it important -at the bottom- for myself to make this last leg of this journey. Also, sharing it with you is so very meaningful to me. A year ago, I wrote that this will be an emotional ride for me. Naturally, big emotions are involved when the story is about big life changes and decisions. However, with acceptance, warmth, and gratitude I can already now look back to everything. It feels calming and good inside me, and that’s the most important thing.
But, here we go, back to the summer 2018.
In Finland kids have almost 2,5 months summer holiday from school. It is good for them but for many parents it causes difficulties; how to combine work and childcare. My solution was partly to keep the kids with me. No, it was not the ideal situation, and despite the calm athmosphere of this photo, you can imagine that reality was quite different. But work needed to be done, and money to be earned – no matter how much I would have wanted to spend holiday with the kids too.
In summer 2018 I had been entrepreneur for about 3 years. Even though I saw, and had experienced, good side of it, in summer 2018 I remember strongly doubting whether entrepreneurship was my thing. The first years had been so hard! I remember the moment in summer 2018 when I warmed up yet another ready-to-eat meal for myself (and the family). It was so far from the life that I wanted to live. Also I realized that I was at that point already deep on the red zone of my energy level and wellbeing.
I basically smoke once a year. In summer 2018 I did that – and more than once. When I look at this photo and go back the feelings that I had, it frightens me. Theretofore I had lost all my feelings, I didn’t feel joy, but I didn’t feel pain either. I lived on “a survival mode”.
“Mom, look I picked the first blueberries from the forest! Let’s go to pick some more together!” “Sorry, dear. Mom needs to work.” it felt so sad, SO sad.
Still there were some good things related to both private and work life. In 2018 I worked for example for Hotelli Punkaharju and took care of their international tour operator relationships. It felt wonderful and inspiring to meet travel professionals from different countries and notice that over the years I had developed for myself expertice and skills that I now could use to help other companies.
Summer 2018 was also time when I had my first SaimaaLife follower meetings face-to-face in Saimaa. It felt so unreal and gave me so much good! Here, I am with Maribel ja Angel at the Punkaharju ridge area. They came all the way from Spain to visit Saimaa, my home region and meet me.
Beauty of Finnish summer – That gave me a lot in the middle of all worries and tiredness. I breathed in the magic of the nightless night and looked for the small, peaceful moments to have some moments of rest. I also grapped on the few day offs that I was able to spend with my friends. Naturally, we headed to the lake nature too during those days.
By the beginning of July it became clear that tiredness was not the word to describe my state of being, “exhaustion” was. That’s why I hadn’t had even energy to plant any seeds to my boat garden in spring 2018.
In concrete, the stop came while I was trying to pick red currants at my parents’ farm. If you want, you can read more about this stop at the end of my post here.
To realize that I had -for the second time- burned myself out and -for the second time- sank to a deep depression was crushing. However, at the same time -while being as small pieces- I somehow felt that in my life these second rounds were just needed so that in the long run I would reach the hilltop with myself and life in general.
All I needed was to accept what had happened and one tiny step at a time, very humbly, start to build my way up. And do it in a way that there would not come the third round.
Already in 2016 we had talked with my husband about moving separately. Then we didn’t have money to do that, but in 2018 we had. Also the situation was that all other ways had been used to fix our marriage. With so little energy that I had it felt almost impossible to do the moving. However, I knew that it was just something that needed to be done so that we all could feel better in the future. So it was time for me to start to say in concrete goodbye to our family’s home.
While visiting Helsinki with the kids I looked at Tove Jansson’s post card at the Moomin shop. I imagined her life and decided that no matter how challenging and hard my future would be, I would survive and find my way up. Somehow. Lastly though, with my Finnish sisu.
My new address was clear. I’m forever grateful for the family who allowed me and the kids to move to this forest cottage nearby. No one had lived there before so there was a lot to be done. We shared the workload; my husband and his friend cut the trees around the cottage and I did cleaning and other work inside.
There was a lot of work and especially when it was really time to move, I felt anxious and afraid. However, all the way from the beginning I had sensed that somehow there was a good energy at the cottage, and my mind always calmed down when I was there. I leaned on that feeling to overcome fearful thoughts and moments.
Little by little the cottage started to look and feel like home. I remember the morning after first night with the kids at the cottage. How I promised myself -and to my sleeping daughters- that we would create our own wonderland and small family to feel good and safe together.
At the end of July I was able to have a small holiday myself too. We took all the joy out of it! It felt wonderful and was so much needed! I allowed myself for a moment to “forget” everything else and just breathe in sunshine and relaxation for the forthcoming autumn.
After moving, kids started to spend every other week with they father. It was a new situation for me to have time just for me. I was surprised how being alone didn’t actually feel anxious – in fact, I enjoyed it a lot. I felt so light and free! I did night swimming alone at the lake, I sang out loud on a terrace, danced in the kitchen and listened to summer wind and waves. Lived like the Swedish fairy tale character, Pippi Longstocking.
However, that lightness lasted less than a week. A bit earlier we had got to know that my father’s leukemia had relapsed. A day after we got information that there wasn’t anything anymore that doctors could do for him, my condition collapsed and I ended up to the hospital. Nothing special was found. Only afterwards I realized that it was my sensitive body and mind which was reacting to the news about my father.
At the same time I processed my marriage. I went through our old photos and thought how in us two persons who were in overhand knot with themselves had ended up together and together achieved even tighter overhand knot. Together we had experienced basically everything else except drugs. However, we were also a couple which had overcome so much together and done so great things together and as a family. We both had grown a lot and thought that if we only could let go of all pain caused to each other and meet each other in the middle as persons we truly had grown, there would be a chance for us still to live happily ever after. For one day, in August 2018, at our friends’ wedding, we were able to do that. I didn’t know then that there we would take the last photo of us, but now when I’m looking at it, I am happy that we got that one day. And I’m forever grateful that my kids have the best father in the world. He is a man that I highly respect and hope him all the best and much love for the future.
School started. I still had very little energy and little money too. But as I had promised myself, I continued building my way up one little thing at a time. I learned new things if needed and I taught new things also to my daughters. Afterwards, I can say that all those experiences were so very meaningful to build my lost self-esteem and belief for the better future.
Then came the day when my father died, 23th of August 2018. I saw him for the last time three days earlier. My mom sent us children a message that if we would still like to see our father, it would be time to do that. At that moment I took a paper and pen at home. I wrote a letter to my father. I wrote , without thinking all the words and things that I felt I wanted him to hear from me. After finishing my letter I drove straightly to the hospital in Savonlinna. On my way I was afraid that I would not manage to go there before it was too late. Luckily, I managed. I was able to read my words to him and he was still able to hear and understand all of them. We talked a few words and looked each other on the eyes.Then he said, “Mari, it is time for you to go.” I left, and the next time I came back after three days – after getting in the middle of the night a message from my mom that our father had just died. There he was in the same bed, still looking the same, now just eyes closed. At the same time I felt that in fact he wasn’t there anymore. His soul had flown away, and a part of it was also in my heart. I felt deeply grateful that I got the chance to say my last words to him. It all felt so very merciful in the middle of the big grief.
After that started new time at the life of my mom and us, six children and our families. There was all funeral arrangements to be done, grief to be sorrowed and our farm -fields, forests and all- to take care of and think about their future. The lost was big, but quite soon it became clear too that passing of our father had started to bring us others closer to each other. It brought comfort to the last days of my summer 2018.
As seen and heard, all colors of life were strongly present in my life in summer 2018.
One of the most meaningful things during that time was also an assignment that my pshychologist had given me a year earlier. It was about life values. Shortly, it included about 500 words, all kinds of. In a few rounds, given time to think a day or two, I needed to exlude all other words so that in the end there would be only 5 words left. My words were: Joy of Life, Energy, Compassion, Touch & Grow.
When I saw those words, I knew that they really were my words – my values.
I summer 2018 I realized that one of the biggest reasons for my second burnout and depression was that especially after becoming an entrepreneur, and partly already during years before, I had little by little lost all those 5 values from my life.
As strongly I realized that what I needed to do, what direction to guide my life, was the path where those 5 values could be actualized better. That journey I started when I moved to the forest cottage in summer 2018.