SaimaaLife Winter 2018: Survival & Surrender

14.2.2019

Long time no see you here at the blog. My sincere apology. I was about to write a blog story about SaimaaLife year 2018 already in December, but couldn’t make it. Finally last week, on a train on my way to Helsinki, I started to go through my photos of 2018. I ended up selecting about 200 of them. I realized that no way I can include them to one story. So now it will be five that will form together one bigger story:

  1. SaimaaLife Winter 2018 – Survival & Surrender
  2. SaimaaLife Spring 2018 – Rays of Light (& Speed)
  3. SaimaaLife Summer 2018 – Joy of life, Energy, Compassion, Touch & Grow
  4. SaimaaLife Autumn 2018 – The Bottom & Delicate Sprout of New
  5. SaimaaLife 2019 – Gentle Silence & End of an Era

This will be an emotional ride for me but I want to make it with you. While making this, I also process my life situation. So, I do this both for you, and myself. Most of all for the better future.

One of my personal all-time-favorite SaimaaLife blog stories has been Being Imperfect Is Just Perfect. Now you can see a bit the same style. My story are mainly in photo captions so please read them. I’ve included also many links to old SaimaaLife blog stories 2012-2018. I hope you enjoy them! I hope too that my photos and words in this 5-piece SaimaaLife story give something good to your life. 

Let’s start.

This time, last January, it was next to our family’s house. Most often, last winter, it was next to some road between Punkaharju and Savonlinna -in a place where no one could see me. I sat in a car and cried. I felt terrible. Now I can say that the downhill started already a year earlier. In summer 2017 it got worse and in autumn 2017 I found it harder morning after morning to get myself out of the bed. The shades of my life got darker and I felt all the time more tired both mentally and physically. 

I’ve noticed that every year at some point I hear a song that really hits me. In autumn 2017 I heard Josh Groban’s “Let Me Fall”. Partly consciously, mostly unconsciously I knew already then -and felt afraid- that there would be a lot of truth in the song. 

Let Me Fall
 
Let me fall, let me climb 
There’s a moment when fear and dream must collide
Someone I am is waiting for courage 
The one I want
The one I will become will catch me
So let me fall if I must fall 
I won’t heed your warnings 
I won’t hear them
 
Let me fall if I fall 
Through the Phoenix may or may not rise
I will dance so freely 
Holding on to no one 
You can hold me only if you too will fall 
Away from all these useless fears and chains
 
Someone I am is waiting for my courage 
The one I want
The one I will become will catch me
So let me fall if I must fall 
I won’t heed your warnings 
I won’t hear
Let me fall if I fall 
There’s no reason to miss this one chance 
This perfect moment 
Just let me fall
 
Songwriters: Benoit Jutras / Jim Corcoran
 

The sad fact in winter 2018 was that I and my husband had drifted already very far from each other. Or -better said- then it was me. Our marriage had not been easy at any point. For long it was me, who always said that “We will get over this and then things get better”. Then -in concrete during winter 2017- I was the one lost the hope and connection. My husband then took the role that I had had before. Unfortunately, it was too late; I was already gone and too deep in my own exhaustion and anxiousness. Or hard to say, maybe everything would have gone this way no matter what. However, I still hoped deep inside me that I would have been able to build the connection again. But, instead of positive and hopeful thoughts, the loudest voice in my head said “Let’s be realistic, this is useless. We’ve been here so many times and despite the good moments, it always ends up the same bad way”.

In 2015 I wrote this blog story Better Communication with the Help of Nature. Despite the challenges, the future or our marriage looked still good then.

One of the biggest things in winter 2018 that kept me “alive” was cross-country skiing.

Rather said, it was 7,5 km round track in Punkaharju Nature Reserve called “Hakin Kierros”.

For about 3 years I’ve suffered from Fibromyalgia pains. One of the hardest things for me to accept last year was to realize that usually when I was at home, I had pains and when I was elsewhere I had not. The body-mind connection has always been very strong in me.  That is why physical activity releaved my pains and that’s why too I did skiing a lot last winter. The feeling was so good after this full-body exercising in fresh air! 

Also with the kids, I did a lot of skiing last winter. I loved to see their skills developing but I also loved how different kind of relaxing it was for me to ski with them.

Cross-country skiing is also a way for me to take care of my lower back. Read more about it here: Cross-country Skiing. It Works, for Both Body & Mind.

Little by little I have now realized how much ALL KINDS of work I’ve done since I started SaimaaLife in 2012. For example, in 2016-2017 we developed 360°/ VR nature relaxation product to international markets and tested it for example in nursing homes. In the end, I and my husband got an invitation to pitch it to Arab Emirates deputy and after it got an invitation travel to Dubai to build connections and negotiate bigger finance. That was only one big project that I worked for. In the end, in January I made a conscious decision to say NO to Dubai, put our health technology product development on pause and focus on building SaimaaLife travel in 2018. I feel that it was the first BIG very good decision for me as an entrepreneur. Time will tell, whether this project continues at some point in the future.

In winter 2016 I established the company Quality To Life Naturally Ltd. My startup entrepreneurship journey hasn’t been easy. One of the main things has been my slow and “soft” personality that has not been the perfect match with the rhythm and atmosphere of the business world. You can read more about the topic from this blog story: I hear You My Friend. 

At the same time when I consciously said “no” to virtual reality health technology, I said “yes” to continue building 360° / VR content as SaimaaLife competitive advantage. I was so happy to see that little by little also other Saimaa companies had started to open their eyes to the possibilities of this technology. In Matka Fair Trade in Helsinki in 2018 Harjun Portti showed SaimaaLife’s Tour Skating video to the people. It was a big thing and meaningful thing to me.

If you’re interested in, click this link to go the post where this 360° video is: Tour Skating Season on Natural Ice is Here!

In winter 2018 I made the decision to take a loan and invest in high-quality Insta 360 Pro camera so that I could start to sell SaimaaLife 360° / VR shooting services. One of the first work that I and my husband did was 360° Virtual Tour of Hotelli Punkaharju. It was a BIG project but I was happy to hear that the hotel owner, Saimi Hoyer, was satisfied with the result – and so was I.

Here’s the link to the tour: 360° Hotelli Punkaharju Virtual Tour (English)

From this following Finnish version, you find also many still-photos and video clips inside the 360° photos: 360° Hotelli Punkaharju Virtual Tour (Finnish)

With Hotelli Punkaharju I started also SaimaaLife blog cooperation. It meant a lot to me to get their support to my not-so-typical-and traditional work and also a kind of work community that I had missed while working mainly just alone. 

With Saimi Hoyer and Hotelli Punkaharju, we had planned cooperation already when I met my Japanese business partner in 2016. In concrete, I could say that the cooperation started in 2017 when SaimaaLife brought Japanese test travel customers to Saimaa and one of them visited Hotelli Punkaharju. One result of that visit was this blog story:  Meeting in Punkaharju with Finnish Mushroom Queen.

At working life, besides many professionals, who couched my business skills, I got also a confidence boost when I was invited to lecture at University of Eastern Finland about 360° / VR technology and travel marketing. I loved to lecture in my old own home university in Joensuu!

However, when you are at the bottom very exhausted and you work a lot on top of it, something and/ or someone suffers. In winter 2018 -and already in 2017- it was home, kids and my husband (plus my own health). 

We had always shared the homework and taking care of the kids with my husband. I tried to do my share but now I can say that at least during the past couple of years  -after I become an entrepreneur- the burden of my husband got heavier. Beside concrete housework, the bad thing was that because of my personal situation I wasn’t able to give him the mental support and affection that he would have needed and deserved. I regret it a lot even though I know that I too tried my best in very challenging situation.

Luckily we have always had helpers around us. Both grandparents are near and they have helped so much over the years. Also, our sisters, brothers and their spouses have been very meaningful. Here my little sister Marianne and her spouse take care of our kids in Lappeenranta where they were able to make a winter holiday trip.

Many years our family’s financial situation has also been weak. Together I and my husband have made all the decisions related to our family and work life, but I think neither of us realized that how tight our life would be, how long it would stay like that and what all that would make to our relationship. Because we haven’t had a chance to offer so many travels and such to our kids, we’re so grateful that our relatives have been able to help there too.

Somehow I had always seen myself as a mother of three children. It was a deep and long grieving process to let go of the idea that it would not come true in my life. However, little by little in winter 2018 the acceptance finally grew inside me. It relieved my condition a bit.

In this post, you see photos of our old Savonlinna home that is our kids’ birth home: Enjoy Your Clean, and Tidy Home

Last winter I listed positive things of having 5 yo and 7 yo. It helped to catch the gratefulness of what I had, and not focus too much of what I do not have. In this photo, our first-grader was having an outdoor day with ice-fishing with her school that is located by the lake in Punkaharju.

In winter 2018 I also grieved our farm. My father had got leukemia diagnosis in autumn 2017. Right after that my mother and father made the decision to give up all animals. Because you raise oxen about 18 months, we knew then that at the end of 2018 the last ones would leave because there was no person to continue my parents’ work. Since I had had plans younger to become a farmer, the decision was hard for me. I felt guilty for choosing another path in my life in the past. 

My father got that the heaviest leukemia treatments and in winter 2018 they made stem cell transplantation for him too. Then, all looked good.

Winter 2018 was beautiful. I breathed in the beauty of Saimaa nature while walking outdoors. Too seldom I did that. Besides exhaustion, I noticed more and more depressive symptoms in me. It increased my anxiousness. They prevented me to be present in life and to have a connection to life and people around me. I had always thought that the problem is my work -that I work too much- but it was a sad moment when I dared to ask myself for the first time, whether it could be true that also my marriage would cause me depressive symptoms.

Still, I tried to seize the small, peaceful moments in life -and look after them. Already many years before I had found self-compassion to my life. I practiced it too. Read more about it here: Feels Like a Warm Blanket on Your Shoulders: Self-Compassion.

With my grandmother, we had had a long project where she had taught me how to knit woolen socks in the same great way as she did. One of the joys of my life in winter 2018 was to finish socks to our kids. I also started  wollen socks to my husband but they are still unfinished. Damn I’m gonna finish them one day!

SURVIVAL – that is the word that described my winter 2018 the best. The fact was that I survived all the time worse of everything. I felt that my body and mind didn’t recharge anymore even when I did nothing. I tried to cut down work and all responsibilities but felt that nothing was enough. It was frustrating.

I noticed that my muscular condition had got really bad over the years. My weight had started to rise year after year and different kinds of pains in my back and elsewhere increased. Also, my diet had worsened little by little. Sweet tooth that I had suffered before, had come back too.

In life, it is frustrating how seldom you learn something at once. Often you have to go through the same things many times before you really learn and internalize them. Of course, every time you learn something new but rarely enough at once to prevent the same happen again. 

When now I, for example, read how I’ve written in 2014 about the importance of giving each other space in marriage in blog story called Let Nature Be Your Marriage, I feel almost shame that despite all that what we had learned, me and my husband ended up living past years in a way that there was basically no space between us – we worked a lot together, did the family life duties together or with the kids but spent minimum time just two of us or separately with our own friends.

You find more these kind of inspiring Tiny Planet photos in SaimaaLife Instagram. 

For me, in the end, it was our youngest one’s screaming  one day; “If you still fight one more time, I want you to separate from each other!!” It felt awful to hear that and see the sorrow on her face.  After that sentence, the realization really hit me that things could not get any worse anymore. Real changes needed to happen in our family life.

After that day I can say now that I started my mental secession of our family’s home. The thought that our family would not stay together was something that I had refused to think before that. Little by little, after that sentence -and all small realizations after it how our kids had started to react to their parents’ situation- my real acceptancy process began; that sometimes the situation is that it is better for all family members that the family is not living under the same roof. The thought made me so sad though.

Over the years -because of both private and working life setbacks and disappointments- my self-esteem had deteriorated.  I remember saying to my friend already two years ago that I felt that the only way to get myself together and up again would be to put myself into a situation where I could and should learn to take care and take responsibility of all things just by myself. 

Here you can read one of my stories about self-esteem and how to start building it (again): Apple Sauce Philosophy. 

In autumn 2107 I wrote and showed you this cottage, about 2 km from our family’s home. Then the idea was that I would start to use this cottage as my office so that I and my husband would get some good space between us. Naturally already then, one option was that someday it could be something more too. But even in winter 2018, I didn’t dare to say it out loud -or at least admit it for real- that this place would be my future home. 

Here’s the blog story I publish about this forest cottage in 2017: A Place to Breathe.

If survival was one word that described my life in winter 2018, the other one was surrender. The tone of the word for me was both negative and positive including fear, sorrow, and disappointment but also hope and relief.

At the end of winter 2018, I knew that it was time to go forward, but I was too exhausted and afraid to let go of the old and familiar – even though it didn’t make anyone happy anymore. 

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