Sunday, 29 November 2015

The Advent Forest

It was supposed to be very stormy this afternoon in Amsterdam, but now the wind is really getting harder. It will be another noisy night upstairs sleeping under the roof. It gets here often more windy and rainy during the night and then it sounds like the big trees beside our house could fall on top of our bedroom. The rain can hit so heavily the roof that I'm thinking the roof will leak in any minute. The people in Holland have always been fighting against the water and building protection against the flood. It is often rainy here in the winter and the rain is more heavy than I'm used to.  

Because of the weather, we spend the first Advent sunday indoors. Our kids went to a birthday party, so it was a quiet day. I wanted to start to get slowly prepared for the Christmas time. I bough two little christmas trees and set the fire on the first of the four advent candle. In Holland they don't really pay attention to advent-sundays, but this tradition to burn the candles we have in Finland and also in Germany. 

The window looked like in the picture above this morning, but now it is a little bit different atmosphere after a few decoration tricks.

I miss the snow. I had to create a fake snow for my little trees by the window. I wrapped them with a wintery looking material. Trying to get on winter-modus. 

I was also cutting some tree looking forms from the paper to make my own advent forest. I do these trees in almost every winter using old magazines. It is funny how I want to bring the forest inside the house. Just some own rituals to make a rainy season more cosy.

Now off to stormy dreams!

Thursday, 26 November 2015

The focus point

The one thing is sure: the sun goes down in the evening and it will be back in the morning, sometimes hidden, but still giving a bit of light. When the sun is gone in the evenings, looks like this absence is pointing out the darkness, saying to us it's time to rest. What will happen during this process between the sunrise and sunset or other way partly a question mark. Even if we plan things, there is always a risk that things don't work as we planned or as we hoped. The challenge is how you face or handle the situations. 

Last night, before I went to sleep I saw the full moon shining and lighting up the roof terrace. I had to check if I had left the lights on, because it looked so bright. The terrace seemed to be like a theatre, waiting for the actor's of the night to come and play the drama. And it's true, you don't even most of the time need any actors. The drama of life itself is sometimes keeping you awake or you are processing what happened during the day in your dreams.

I have slowly learned to give some time for myself, my feelings and  reactions on things. I have learned which things give me the strength and energy and most of all: don't let your energy be stolen. The person who spends the whole 24 hours a day with you and your thoughts You know who you are better than anyone else.

We are different and it makes everything more interesting, challenging, unexpected and rich. 

To be able to live and see the different looking sky every day. I often first have a look how the sky is in the mornings before doing anything else. This sort of small ritual can give the feeling of strength and  a sense that you are connected to to the place, time and yourself. A peaceful start for a new day. 

What we see, how we see, what we want to see and which are the things we don't want to see. Eyes open, eyes closed...we choose the direction and the focus point. 

Sunday, 22 November 2015

A secret charm of Germany

I found a couple of memorycards, which included a lot of photos from the time we were living in Germany. During those six years we were living in Schwäbisch Hall, in the South part of the country(Baden-Württenberg). It is a small town from the middle ages. A lot of History, traditions and breath taking Nature and a little bit of a touch of the mediterranean influence in every day life. This is a little longer post, but I just wanted to show many pictures of this beautiful town and it's surroundings. More photos than text.

Cafe am Markt (cafe beside the marketplace)

Market square ( a big market every wednesday and saturday selling vegetables, fruits, cheese, flowers, fish..)
There was every Summer outdoor Theatre on the big steps of the St. Michael's Church. 

A tasty Cappuccino in a Cafe/Bar Ilge by the river. Many italians living in south Germany: many italian restaurants and ice cream bars.

St. Michael's Church and the silhouette of old the centre

There is a lot to see in this little town. Our visitors really liked the atmosphere with lovely houses in the old centre and inviting cafe's and the local culture with many Museums. Schwäbisch Hall is also a very green town, surrounded with high hills and nice walking or cycling paths beside the green river valley.

The river Kocher

Sometimes the water level was so low that the river turned out to be the big, inspiring playground for the children.
Other times the water level was very high in a rainy season.

We had a nice garden and a cute terrace in our home. Sometimes I miss it too. A lot of space to play football, have a grill party or just have a quiet coffee and read a book. A nice HOME.

It was great to have a walk near the River and hear the sound of the running water. You could also rent a little rowing boat in the summertime and enjoy the view. If you follow the river by walking or by bike to the direction of the Town park (Anlagen Park)and further you will soon see the Castle of Comburg (Schloss Comburg) which used to be a monastery in old times. It was a nice destination for a family walk. Kids loved to run there around, it was like an adventure and you will have nice views from the little windows from the castle. In the wintertime there was also classical concerts in some evenings.

A view from the Ruins of Limburg, on the horizon you see the Castle of Comburg

The most inspiring thing for me in the area of Hohenlohe, where we lived, was the hilly landscape. Even if it sometimes felt a little bit too small to live down in the valley, I always lost that tight feeling when I climbed on top of the hill and saw the big landscape around. Then the whole world was again reachable and you did not feel stuck in the same place too long. 

A view from Einkorn, the highest hill nearby. There is a nice restaurant, playground and a beer garden on the hill.

One more great destination for a historical walk outdoors is the outdoor museum Wackershofen nearby. A short drive by car or by bus from the town centre. It is a big park where they brought and rebuild some old german farm houses. You can go inside the houses and see how people lived long time ago in farms. There are also farm animals and few restaurants where you can eat traditional food. 

The Winter is almost there again. My friend from Germany just sended me a message that it was first time snowing in Schwäbisch Hall last night. A cool season and almost time for the traditional Christmas Market. A cosy season with warm drinks (glühwein) and food.

Germany is quite a big country in an european scale and has a big variety of lifestyle and nature, which I think makes it a very interesting destination to travel. I experienced more the Southern way of living, which I was told is a little bit different than living in the North part of the country. A bit more relaxed I think! I am happy that I had a chance to live there and learn to like the language, the people and the beauty of Germany. I was sceptic before I moved there, but everything turned out to be much better than I thought in advance. Better to be open and let the culture surprise you. 

Füssen, a charming town near the Alps

Forggensee beside the Alps.  A local sailing club.

Schloss Neuschwanstein, a Castle which gave also inspiration for Disney stories.
The Alps are so near in South Germany which makes it so easy for making a hiking trip or doing different sorts of winter sports. Beautiful views in every season and a strong presence of the Nature. 

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Dear Helsinki

The longest period of my adulthood so far, I used to live in Helsinki - Finland. It is a place where I studied, got new friends, worked, learned to be independent, had fun, made mistakes and was trying to find out who I am. It was more like living in a moment and not worrying too much about the future. From that perspective the Future was often so far away. There was a big feeling of freedom.

I was shortly visiting Helsinki last weekend. I did not have time to see all my old friends, but there will be other times and places when & where we can see each other again. Walking beside the sea and seeing the houses and familiar spots made me happy. I did focus this time just spending time at Kaivopuisto, a park area near the sea, and did not really go to shopping streets. I just wanted to say "Hi" to my old home, Helsinki. I wanted to feel the strong wind, smell the fresh air and feel if there is still a sparkle between me and Helsinki.

The sea and being able to see the far away horizon are very important to me. At the same time I am a little bit afraid of the strength of the huge water element. Looking at the horizon and the endless movement of the sea can give hope and give a feeling everything is possible. This trip was a bit melancholic one and I think the big reason for that were the news  from Paris, which I heard just before my trip. That was partly the reason why I wanted to have walks by the sea and then go back to the safe home of my good friend. It felt I had never been away from Helsinki, like I could go next week again to see my friends and have a coffee at the old market hall. The tragedy is that the personal and common feeling of safety can be attacked by violence and hate. Everything can be changed in a very short moment, everything can be unfair. The emptiness behind the acts of war or terrorism, the selfish explanations behind hurting other people emotionally and physically or killing them...are sad

To find a connection again with yourself, with your real emotions, with your friends and family. Forgiveness, friendship, respect and being able to be happy for others or give help when it's needed.

The biggest gift for me, when I walked around in Helsinki alone and spent time with my friends..even had a big night out, was that I felt accepted as the person I am & how I understood again where I come from. It made me feel again a little insecure, because my deepest emotions were touched. I felt again the same way as I used to, like I was living in my home country again. The connection was not lost. 

I love the rocky landscape by the seaside in Helsinki. There are not as big sandy beaches like in Holland, but the meeting point of the rocks and the water is beautiful. The best spot to have a picnic in a warm season. I will be back more often, I promise!

Thank you Helsinki for being you and giving me good memories again!