It rained here near Stockholm last night. I know, Minnesotans right now are soaked, but here we are in a heat wave and a drought. It hasn’t rained since May in most areas in Sweden, and if there has been any, it was too little to nourish plants. They are reporting 61 independent wildfires in Sweden right now, with 4 of them being too big to be extinguished. There has been a fire ban on for at least a month, which means when I camp I have to bring things that do not need to be cooked, as even my little gas camp stove is illegal. My friend, Evelina, who lives here, commented that it is so dry, pieces of glass can create a magnifying effect and start fires.
Farmers are suffering, and there is talk of government help, but the people I talk to don’t seem to know exactly what that means. The main concern is the crops for the animals, and having enough food for them to survive the long winter. There were no true spring greens from anyone’s garden this year, and it is hard to find fresh produce in the stores.
It has been hot here, with highs this last week being a consistent 30-31° C (86-87.8° F). I know that doesn’t seem hot for many Minnesotans, but remember it is normally around 24° C (75° F.) Sweden does not really have air conditioning because it doesn’t stay hot long, and nights
usually get cooler. The house where I stay for example, doesn’t even own a fan. That is common. Busses and subways are hot and humid and bring on instant sweat. I have been finding beaches all over to visit just to bring my body temperature down for a few precious hours. It is interesting to me, as I didn’t have air conditioning in my house in Red Wing, and rarely turned it on in my house in Stillwater (more for humidity than heat.) But the lack of fans and air circulation really creates a difference in the experience of the heat. And Swedes are talking about the weather! I haven’t experienced that until this week.
Yet there are many bodies of water here. Stockholm is part of an archipelago, and there are many clean, beautiful lakes to be found here. It is an interesting juxtaposition-to have so much water yet see the
plants be so dry. But I find when I am hiking that the land is also very rocky in many spots, kind of like you would see near the north shore. Lots of moss and shallow-rooted trees breaking through the rocks.
Yesterday, I went to one of the islands called Lånholmen. Although it’s an island, it is part of the archipelago, and is very easily accessible as if you are just crossing a river. There is a great harbor here that contains mostly wooden boats (pictures below.)
Even though it is very hot for Swedes, they are all still actively outside, as summer is precious, and many are still on holiday. Most people get 6 weeks of holiday here per year, and they treasure it. Many people take their holiday in the summer, when they can enjoy the beauty of the country and relax after the midsommar parties.
Last night, I went to an outdoor social dance and my friend Evelina taught me how to bugg, which is a popular Swedish traditional dance that is similar to a swing, but the steps are in a straight line instead of at an angle, and is also a bit more contained for those who are not professional dancers. Even though I love swing and salsa, this had a different feel to it, and was a bit challenging for me to follow the leads properly with many of the spins. But I tried, and people were very friendly and helpful as they taught me what I was doing wrong. 🙂
But it was hot, even with the outdoor atmosphere, so the ferry ride back across to Stockholm to take my train home was lovely and refreshing.
I hope this finds you all well and happy. Enjoy the summer weather, and if you are enjoying what I have to write, please comment! It’s so fun to get feedback from all the people back home. Now, I’m off to another beach, this time near Farstra Strand, then perhaps another round of dancing tonight.
Living in a big city in Europe so far for me has been a test of patience and an encouragement for me to SLOW DOWN. It takes 30 minutes on average to walk, bus, or take the train to anything I want to do or see. 5 miles? 38 minutes. 3 miles? 28 minutes. I have found it a bit of a waste of time and a test of my patience. I have to transfer just often enough to not feel comfortable burying my head in a book. It is too loud to listen to my audio books or music (my sensitive ears get sore from loudness in my earbuds.) Today, I found my Swedish flashcards at the bottom of my bag. What a great solution! I can pay attention to people, landscapes, and my next transfer while also learning the language that I told myself I would.
I am learning a lot about the differences as well of where to purchase things! The current flat at which I am staying blew a fuse the other day. The nearest hardware store is 30 km away. I talked to some people in town and showed them what I was looking, and they directed me to the grocery store. Who directed me to a different store that I didn’t understand because I couldn’t find it.
I decided it was too hot to keep in the downtown (84+) and I’d just wash the dishes by hand and find a different plug for any kitchen electrics. I went to the train station to renew my pass, and my credit card didn’t work. He sent me to the machine to buy one, which also didn’t work. Then I was sent across the street to a convenience store, who was able to process my credit card and my pass. I finished my transaction, started walking out the door, and on a whim, asked if he knew where I could get a fuse. They had one in the back that was extra, and gave it to me!
I was so grateful. It has actually turned out a few times on this trip that when I get frustrated because things are not going well, something easier and better comes along, if I just keep my patience.
To celebrate and reground, I decided to walk to a nearby lake (3 km away) and go for a swim. The trail I
ended up taking was beautiful, and I found another series of biking city trails through parks that I can start using on a regular basis to get places and to exercise (think Cannon Valley trail in Red Wing or River Road trail in Minneapolis.) Here are the pictures from the more rustic areas and Söderbysjön (sjön =lake).
July 4, 2018
Today is a high-energy day and I am glad for that. I have had a few in a row that were more challenging as I merge myself into a new culture. I am being well-guided and am finding just the right people to get me to my next opportunities! I will be hiking the Sörmslandsleden trail for a few days, then will be housesitting for 3 weeks. That will give me even more opportunity to immerse myself into one area and be present with the people and the culture. I have learned/remembered these few things over the last few days.
1. Every interaction with another human is important because opportunity is everywhere. For example, saying hello to a person in the shared kitchen led me to an potential business opportunity as well as reviving my will to learn Swedish. Borrowing a pencil from a woman led me to a conversation in which I learned the best place to start my upcoming hike.
2. There are people in every city looking for a deeper connection. I think we all want to connect deeply as humans. It is part of our drive to feel loved, accepted, and part of community (no matter what community means to you or what aspect of community.) I know from experience personally and through helping others that when we feel strong in ourselves, we can feel stronger in our relationships. As we let go of fear or insecurity and gain self-confidence, relationships of all kinds become easier and more fulfilling. By loving ourselves, we accept others as well as feel love they are returning to us.
3. Doing my own self-care in the morning is doing something. I got into this space where I felt I was
“wasting time” every morning by stretching, working out, and studying Swedish. I would think “OMG-the day is half over and I haven’t done anything!!” It is a good reminder that even though I hadn’t checked “things” off my list, self-care should be on my list. At the top. Every day. It’s part of the beauty of having a flexible schedule. That also means when I am feeling discombobulated, I do some tapping work for myself. I really love this Emotional Freedom Techniques process. It’s so powerful. Because I am still working on my certification, I am also still offering sessions for $62.50 for an hour. I encourage you to schedule your self-care as well! You can book here, or contact me if you need a different time.
Enjoy the pictures of the spaces I have been working in Stockholm.
June 29, 2018
I arrived in Iceland at Keflavík airport on Tuesday morning after weeks of preparation, itinerary making, and double-checking only to find that I never looked at or printed directions to my hostel where I was spending the next few nights. After a few moments of berating myself and trying not to panic after I found that the hostel is over a 45 minute drive away, I asked at the information booth to discover the airport has wi-fi for free. A few minutes later I booked a bus direct to and from the hostel. Sharing this story in a group later that evening, I found one of my new friends from Mexico had his credit card frozen when he tried to get his ticket, even though they knew he was leaving the country. He called his bank and they told him it would be 8 hours before it was reinstated. He called a friend, who texted him a picture of a credit card he could use for the day. Another woman I met got lost while walking through town after dropping all her luggage off at our hostel. Her receipt from the bus said that she was dropped off at Central Hostel-to which she showed up to and found out it was not the correct place. She asked what other hostels the bus service would drop people off, looked at all the pictures of those hostels online, and found her way back. She had texted me asking the name of the hostel, but I replied about 5 minutes after she discovered the answer herself.
The point? We all run into challenges in our lives-and no matter how overwhelming it may seem at the moment, there are resources everywhere. Often it takes us remembering to ask others for help. I know many people (me included) that hesitate to ask for help because of a feeling of weakness, perception others will think we are stupid, or a variety of other things. However, don’t you feel good when you get to help a friend, a family member, or a stranger on the street? Most things we need help with are not as much of a burden to another as we perceive. By asking, we also allow others to feel good and happy about being able to help. Or, if it is a challenging request, others also have the option to say “no” and practice their own boundary-setting.
Most adversities and challenges we experience are really not the end of the world. We may perceive them as such in the moment, or even during recall years later, which can limit us from tapping into resources of all kinds. I know sometimes when I forget to stop, breathe, and ponder my other options, I can fall into panic, anxiety, and negativity. Then I just run around in a fight/flight manner and block my mind from coming up with solutions because I’m in such a fear state. But when I pause, realize that I’m safe, that I have everything I need-even if it is not my plan or on a time/place/schedule of my choice-then I can be in the moment, enjoy the opportunity to problem solve and ask for help if I need. Now that I also can tap (I am still doing 1/2 price sessions to teach others BTW, and you can book here) to calm my system down, I find that things become simple. Perhaps not easy, but simple. And that makes all the difference.
In the last few days, I have had an opportunity to meet people from all over the world. I forgot to get permission to post pictures that include them, so I will have to share my own for now.
I’m in the airport on my way to Stockholm. Now I get serious about settling in, finding work and living situations, and re-learning the Swedish I seem to have stored away in the back of my brain.
June 15, 2018
I just finished about an 18 mile hike on the ice age trail, which runs from Taylors Falls, MN/St. Croix Falls WI to Michigan. The purpose of this hike was to test out all of my gear that I’m bringing to Sweden with me for camping, make sure I’m okay carrying 30+ pounds on my back over rough terrain for a long distance, and to try to settle my mind.
I picked up the trail at Highway 8 and 35 in Wisconsin, hiked 8 miles into a camp near Lions Park, and spent the night there. It turns out all my gear works wonderfully, and I have enough strength and stamina to handle excursions such as this. On the way back I took a detour on the Trail of Myths. This was a 2 mile up-and-down hike through some lovely old values with ferns, rivers, and lots and lots of up-and-down hill stretches.
One reason I wanted to post about this as well as posting pictures is the similarity of landscape between here and Sweden. As I’ve mentioned to many of you, there’s a reason why our Swedish ancestors my Swedish ancestors settled here. I included couple pictures of my previous hike in Sweden, as well as my current hike here in St. Croix Falls. It’s lovely to feel so connected to both places at once and realize that the similarities if I get homesick, all I have to do is run out into the woods and pretend I am back in Minnesota.
Unless it’s snowing. Then I can just look at the snow and pretend I’m in Minnesota. I’m on the countdown and have 8 days until I fly out. It’s been hard to leave my massage clients and close my offices. I’ve started saying my final goodbyes to many of my friends and am facing the final goodbye to my family and those closest to me soon. However, I am confident this transition will go smooth. I’m excited to share with you everything that I’ve learned and am learning about as I explore culture differences in aspects including health, healing, and relationships. It’s become very clear to me that one of my specialties is to help people emotionally reengage in their personal, professional, and societal relationships.
I’ve started studying how we view touch as an American culture and am curious to remind myself and to get a deeper understanding of how touch is viewed in other countries. Touch is so important for physical, mental, and emotional growth. I am clear that I will have to do my own healing work around what happens when I am suddenly no longer able to receive the same level of touch that I am accustomed to (hugs from family, friends, massages, and so on). I know it’s a challenge for many people when they break up with significant others, have a death in the family, move away to college, and so on, but this will be my first real experience in many years dealing with a sudden shift in close relationships.
Until I am there, I can only guess at what I will experience, how the meaning and feel of home will shift for me, and how much I’m going to have to use my EFT (tapping) tool to help process. It
makes me happy to share my experiences with you as I travel, and look forward to the continued journey together.
June 3, 2018.
I just finished taking a 3-day advanced Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT a.k.a. tapping.) class. This class came at the perfect time–not only is it powerful at releasing stress and emotions from the body for my clients, but is easy to use on myself as I process my own emotions and feelings about moving to Sweden.
I just finished moving out of my townhouse on Thursday at 3 pm-just in time to drive to Milwaukee and take this amazing class. My life before this class had looked a bit chaotic. For example, I included a picture of what it looked like as I sorted my books from my home and offices into piles and categorized them for future reference in bins. It was also challenging for me to release a lot of stuff that I had been hanging onto-from yearbooks to my kitchen table.
Luckily, in this class I was taught advanced techniques to work with stress from past or current situations. I spent spent the majority of the 5-hour drive back from Milwaukee processing and doing my own tapping work around my emotions relating to moving out of my townhouse, giving up my cats, leaving my clients and my friends and my family, and closing my businesses. It’s amazing how much more calm and at peace I feel. It’s also amazing that I can fit my whole life into a 5 x 8 storage unit. It felt great to cleanse and let stuff go. Letting go had challenging moments, and I had to keep in mind that yes, although I could have sold my kitchen table- it was easier to drop it off and donate it to someone who could use it.
In this process of letting go, I have also been reminded of what is truly dear to me. Tapping has helped for sure. My passion for helping others let go has magnified exponentially. I have decided to become a certified EFT practitioner because the mentoring that comes with it will help me assist the people I love (clients, friends, family, etc) so much more. I am offering 1/2 price sessions for anyone who is interested in experiencing the power of EFT and learning it for themselves.
My contact email will be the same, and you can use the phone number on my website to reach me via google voice while I am in Sweden. I look forward to hearing from you all.
April 28, 2018
I’ve been doing a lot of research about my upcoming year to Sweden. There is so much to research, including licensing, visas, and travel restrictions. There are many options-do I get a job, work for room & board and explore, or go to school? How can I learn what it is I want to learn in life, have fun and explore, stay within my budget, and still support myself all at the same time?
Some days it seems exciting and new and full of potential. Other days it feels scary, impossible, and as if I should just forget about it and stay here in the United States, where I can still travel and learn, although with a culture I am mostly familiar with. Yet I’ve realized that the feelings that I’m feeling are not exclusive to my travel plans. We all have moments of questioning our lives. Are we on the right track? Have we done what we want in life, or are we regretting choices? What would have happened if….? Sometimes we feel stuck, hopeless, frustrated, angry, and a myriad of other things often all at the same time.
I’m a bit adverse to blogging, but it feels like this is something that’s going to be important to not only keep track of my own experience of life for my own learning process, but to share with others and to remind people that it is possible to heal. I feel like it will be a great platform to share how other cultures interact with each other through touch, emotion, and healing. I also hope everyone that reads these will either gain insight on themselves, learn something fun to try, or explore a concept from another area of the world. So here we go. I have given my notice for my apartment, I have given a minor notice to both my Workspaces, and most of my clients know I will be leaving town for a year. I only hope my experiences encourage others to be present with themselves and to grow in their own way as well.