August 14, 2013

The End Of An Era.

When I was a little girl, I drew.

I drew my dreams. Anything and everything I could not have at that given time, but could imagine in my dreams.
I drew with pencils on paper.
I drew my first apartment, the clothes I wanted, the future I imagined. The way I wanted to look.
I became absolutely proficient at drawing horses, as their romantic symbolism fueled my young mind.
As a teenager, I continued drawing, mostly escapist pictures for my girlfriends. Ethereal looking women, dreamy, with large eyes, full lips and flowing hair - they were a hit with my teenage peers.
Growing out of my teens, I moved to oil and over a few years created oil paintings, some of which still adorn the walls of my parents home, and until recently, my own walls in the white house on the hill.

As I became an adult and as my dreams shattered, I realized that life was hard and unforgiving, which took the fun out of drawing and painting and I stopped. All together.
Work and carrier took over.
Living took over to some degree as well.
Sometimes I wondered bewildered - how I could I no longer wish to paint and draw, something that was almost second nature to me...?
Yet, I knew deep within that a personal era has ended and nothing would be the same again.

And then, many years later, when life turned around and I entered a period of search and discovery once again, resembling a teenager in so many ways, but being an adult trying to find her purpose here,  I found something new and novel into which I channeled my creativity.
Writing and photography.

And as luck had it, I discovered blogging and my creativity turned into an outlet, enabling me to share my pleasure and pain, and my own life in the process, with millions of strangers.
Well, at least with all of you who are still around to read these few lines.

The last five years of my life, the ones that I have exposed to the world quiet publicly through my blog, has been the most defying years of my adulthood.
They took me through so many adventures and in such an intense way, it still makes me smile and ponder the incredible serendipity of life.
How much can unfold if we are only willing to find the courage to walk out on the limb and let it happen.
Let life happen.

Writing my online diary has been an incredible journey and I want to thank all of you, who are still here reading my last post.
Just like with my painting and drawing, I have reached an end of an era and find no longer a purpose nor need to continue.

I no longer find escape nor solace in writing - something I NEVER thought would occur. Yet my life has changed and thus so have my needs.
I no longer crave a creative outlet, as I have found my safe harbor, which grants me my dreams.

It took me half a lifetime to get here, but I have arrived and I have found my purpose in this life and my search is over. Instead I now devote my time to living.
And in some very odd way, my need to draw and paint has returned - not because I want to visualize my dreams, but rather document them coming through.

My dear friends, I do not write this post as a good bye, as experiences have taught me that we never know what lies around the corner.
Yet for now, this will be my last post before I stop writing indefinitely.

I want to dedicate it to all of you who have stuck with me through the years and who always had something nice or encouraging to say when I needed to hear it.
I would probably not be where I am now had it not been for all of you.

Thus all that remains to say is a big THANK YOU.
See you on the flip side.

xoxo
Zuzana

May 20, 2013

Here And Away.

Unintentionally, I have granted this diary with my absence.
Since my last post, cold spring turned into almost an early summer; trees, shrubs and bushes went from bare to green and bursting with bloom; the sun has gained in strength and our days grew longer, giving us several hours of extended light.
The best time of the year has indeed begun and I intend to enjoy it as much as I can, in the company of my family and foremost the man that I love, before his duty takes him away from me for months to come...

Thus forgive me that I am here now, but gone again. This is not a good bye however, this only to let you know that I will be back very soon, my dear friends. 

April 27, 2013

Scintillating Sky.

Gone are the unrestricted views I once had at my disposition in the white house on the hill. I still recollect fondly the captivating light shows that from spring to autumn played out in front of my windows.

These days, wide planes surround my home and our house is nestled between others, hidden from view, lacking it as well.
However, despite these limitations - and to my surprise - the obstructed horizon can nevertheless offer subtle demonstrations of natural splendor.
Just like the other evening, when twilight enveloped our surroundings and the final rays of the setting sun illuminated the three dimensional clouds.

Camera in hand, I walked around the house, capturing the scintillating spring sky in every cardinal direction, reveling in this early "white night" sneak preview...

Beautiful sights indeed always await those who take the time to notice.





















April 19, 2013

Raising The Old Anchor.

For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. 
Steve Jobs

These days my mind keeps retuning to a time in my past, more than two decades ago. I was working at a university laboratory, fresh out of school, on the second year of my employment. Only twenty two years old, I enjoyed my life and the infinite, undefined future that laid ahead.

The laboratory had many members, anything from students and senior researchers to professors. Two of these were senior lab analysts, my colleagues - jovial, kind women, to whom I turned with questions and problems, when I was still very insecure in my profession and held very little experience in the science field. At that time, they have been employed there, at the same place, for over twenty years. I recall my infinite incomprehension of this fact. To me that time span accounted for a whole life time and the idea of being at the same location for such an eternity felt absolutely unimaginable. Indeed, about three years later, I left for the US, to work with my current employer.

Thus today, however outrageous that idea once seemed, I am exactly in their shoes, having worked for the same laboratory for twenty one years. There has been one relocation, the one that took me to Denmark, when my employer decided to go back home - but overall, I have been educated, trained and directed by the same man almost my whole professional life.

He brought out the hidden talents in me, gave me the opportunities to use my imagination and my skills and established an environment for me where I could thrive and flourish, excelling in the field of science with an incredible speed and endless success. He turned my work into my life and together with his wife, the couple became my best friends, a substitute family to a young girl far away from home. They became people I could - and still can today - count on one hundred percent to be there for me, should I ever need it.

Today I am one of the senior analysts in the lab.
I know where everything is, how everything works, as I am partly responsible for the overall running of the place. It is to me the young students turn with their troubles and problems. I am free to do whatever I like, I take days off at my fancy and decide my working hours. My work has always been the only constant in my life, something safe and secure. No matter how much my personal life changed, my professional life never did.

And yet, we all know that nothing ever stays the same, no matter how much we want - or expect it to. Along the way in life we make decisions that take us on novel paths, setting us on journeys that defy our world.
Thus all the choices I made in recent years in my private life slowly caused changes in my line of work as well, without me even noticing. At the onset, they were only ripples on the surface, but in time it became painfully apparent to me that the place of my employment, the one that has been my secure shelter and a solid anchor my whole adult life, has sadly played out its role...

In two weeks I will start a new job, for the first time in two decades. The emotion that encompass my being when I think about that fact is a wild mix of joy and fear.
There are days when I feel excited and happy about the prospect of a new start. I will still work in the research field, but my long commute will be cut by two hours every day, giving my personal life more freedom. However, the new position comes with responsibilities and a firm promise of hard work. I can not even recall any longer how it feels to work for someone else than my friend and my mentor and I wonder all the time whether I will be able to take direct orders from someone new - and whether he will find me competent in my skills.

Thus there are days when I wake up with a knot in my stomach, riddled with profound fear and anxiety, absolutely terrified and full of regrets. It feels as if I am to leave home again, for the first time since I was twenty, leaving my family for good, knowing I will miss them terribly.
I have made many outrageous changes in my life, but never before have I been so apprehensive about altering anything as I am today.

Somewhere deep within though, in the core of my very being, I know that I need to take this step, however scary it might seem. I need to say my thanks and my farewells and set out sailing anew.
I expect nothing and am prepared for everything, knowing hardship is linked to every change and things might get a lot worse before they get better. Yet hardship is what makes us grow and flourish, experiences have taught me that.
I believe that worst life is life lived with fear and I refuse to let fear of the unknown prevent me from embracing the very beauty of it. I try very hard to remember my own personal belief stating that change is what fuels our reality - I hope I will never get too scared to realize that.

Thus I have decided to raise my old anchor, the one that is rusty and buried in the depth of the sea, not having been moved for a very long time - a life time it seems. Yet the ship is still sail worthy and the ocean is open wide, thus lets sail into the unknown one more time.
I am confident that great adventures await.

Images: Photobucket

April 13, 2013

Dawn By iPhotography.

My daily run is slowly becoming a favorite part of my morning.
Not just because I love the exercise, but mostly due to the incredible natural beauty that meets my gaze. Watching a still landscape waking up to a stunning dawn is the most perfect way to start a new day.

I run with my iPhone in the pocket.
Initially, this was to check the time and provided me with a sort of security, as I venture into deserted fields. However, it has become a tool to document the enchanted beauty of panoramic views at sunrise.

Sadly, my little Nikon ceased functioning a couple of months ago, thus until I buy a new pocket camera, my phone seems to be a suitable substitute. Considering the quantum leap that technology has taken just in a few decades, I view every capture I snap with it as a true marvel. Ten years ago no one ever thought that a phone would be substituting point-and-shoot cameras.

My very first camera was made by Kodak and today it would be considered as ancient at the very best, but in 1982 it was a modern gadget. Of course, viewed with today's eyes, the pictures were of limited quality, nevertheless, I was fascinated by its simple process and by the sheer possibility of being able to the capture moments in time.
Unfortunately, when vacationing in the south of Europe one summer, I left it on the rooftop of my parents car at a rest stop. When I realized this some three hours later, I had to accept that it was lost forever.

Since then I have own many cameras - some inexpensive, some of better quality - yet my love for photography only grew.
Almost every day I take pictures of something that entices me, either using my beautiful Canon or my phone. The fact that I can take hundreds of shots and view them instantly will never cease to mesmerize me - anyone can be a photographer these days.
Still, I can at times get slightly sentimental recollecting the anticipation of the old film processing. Taking pictures in the past was just like a box of chocolates - you never knew what you were going to get.

Below: Images of an April dawn taken with my iPhone during my recent run, please click to enlarge.






And here below a sentimental walk down the memory lane - the old add for my first camera.:)

April 05, 2013

Siberian And Sunny.

Snowdrops
Our first vernal month goes down in history as one of the coldest ever measured. Air streaming directly from Siberia has kept the atmospere frigidly cold and the ground snow covered - but our skies have been unusually sunny for weeks at end, accounting for a seventy year old record.
I have mixed feelings about the cold weather. Indeed it is unbearable when winter is endless, yet I rather have cold, sunny skies, then warm, rainy air.

Nevertheless, a change of seasons is in the process and spring has gotten one foot in. The sun is gaining in strength by each and every day and despite the temperatures hoovering around zero, I decided to bundle up and take a walk in our new neighborhood this past weekend.

We live at the outskirts of the town and thus very quickly I found myself leaving the residential area behind and I begun walking among empty fields. Despite the flat lands, the views came across as absolutely enchanting, my gaze tracing an endless horizon, as the vital sunshine warmed my face. Listening to the singing of the lark, a bird song so significant of these parts, I realized that vernal bloom was covering the surroundings and that unmistakable sense of spring saturated the air. That undefinable yet so tangible perception of awakenings at winters end.

My Walk
My hour long walk inspired me to take up running, something I gave up on last autumn. Thus just before sunrise, every morning this week, I set out onto the frost covered ground, into Siberian conditions, to greet a world that was still asleep. With the moon setting in the west and the imminent sunrise in the east, I ran on a path among barren fields, marveling at the natural beauty.
And as always, nature put my mind to ease...

A lot is occupying my thinking these days, some of the thoughts fill me with anxiety.
Somewhere deep within me there is a sadness gaining hold. The seasonal shift means that summer is getting closer and so is the departure of the man that I love.
Once again, we will be separated for four months and already now this weights heavy on my heart. Having tried it before is actually not making things any easier. Oddly enough, harder. I can only take consolation in my own strength, that one that I found last time around. And in the profound love that we share.

Thus new projects are being planned in my mind, to keep me occupied, the spirits up and the sinister thoughts at bay.
Gardening is on top of the list. 

Forgotten Hyacinths
Our garden is beautiful, but in a simple way and I definitely am not a simple gardener. There is a total lack of vernal bloom - no spring flowers adorn the flowers beds, something I truly miss. And yet, cleaning our greenhouse the other day, I stumbled upon a forgotten pot, left behind by the former owners. It was full of blue hyacinths. The bulbs have survived the winter and were blooming despite the lack of watering - I took it as subtle sign that everything will be well.

I am also planning to undertake a project involving a mural painting. There is a spot above the Provence inspired stove area in our kitchen, in form of a little alcove in the wall. It absolutely screams for a tranquil French still-life. I am indeed excited about the prospect of reviving my old hobby - painting. Right now I am in stages of planning and preparations, in search of suitable paint and motif.

Danish Passport
I have officially become Danish and that leaves me with a sense of a bittersweet finale. A door is closing upon the first half of my adult reality. Yet simultaneously another one is opening wide.
I went to a photographer having a picture taken for my new driving license and passport. I had to gasp when the photographer returned the images to me, as I met the gaze of a middle aged woman. What happened to that young girl that used to smile at me for a decade, every time I opened my old Swedish passport? I guess she is forever gone - but maybe that is not such a bad thing.

Aging used to bother me quiet a bit. It still does and probably always will, yet I have started to slowly surrender myself to time.
Would I like to be twenty again? I am not so sure. Life is short, yet the magic lies in its ephemerality. I have done exactly what I was suppose to do and what I wanted to do. I have no regrets and no need to go back in time.
Ultimately I will happily trade my youth for the privilege of unforgettable experiences and priceless knowledge.

Endless Views Near Our Home

The Same Views At Dawn - The Setting Moon
The Same Views At Dawn - The Rising Sun

March 29, 2013

Vernal Light.

Vernal Sunset
Evocative natural beauty.
Attempting to savor and enjoy its transcending magic, I tried to capture and convey my experiences in images rather than words. These might - in their simplicity and simultaneously their complexity - more adequately describe my recent encounters than any lengthy writing.
Sometimes silence is golden.

Thus I present to you my tribute to the returning light and my fascination with the time of vernal twilight, the evening sky and the celestial objects adoring my views currently.

Happy Easter everyone - I shall return with a more profound writing next week.
Until then, may these images speak more than words.

Almost Full Moon
Moon Rise
Sunset From Our Garden

Driving Home
Solar Power Upon Dusk


March 22, 2013

Spring Snow.

Crossing the vernal equinox this week, we have officially entered the second season. Winter however seems to think otherwise. The Ice Lady never leaves voluntary and fights to the bitter end to remain in reign in my part of the world.
Her wrath is endless and currently absolutely fierce, making this March one for the record books as the coldest ever meassured.

Nature and animals yearn for spring and so do we. Everywhere I look, there is a pristine blanket of spring snow and the easterly winds blow arctic air over us, keeping the temperatures below freezing.

The only vernal sign is the light. The sun is raising earlier and setting later by each passing day. There is something altered about the daylight as well, as it slowly turns platinum instead of golden.

Despite the final fury of the winter, a point of no return has been reached and that universal feeling of an approaching seasonal shift can clearly be perceived - the best time of the year has already begun.



March 15, 2013

Moody March.

Our Fire
We are mid March and the subzero temperatures are back. The brief taste of spring at this month's onset disappeared as fast as it arrived - lady Winter is not ready to quit just yet.
As we all know, the first vernal month is capricious and moody. It can switch between seasons at its own fancy, testing our patience and tolerance. In my native language, there is a rhyme that describes this third month something like this; March, lets get back to the fire.

And that is indeed my favorite spot currently. In fact that is where I am sitting right now, typing away.

Our house came with a wood-burning stove. Even though it can by no means match the beauty of my old fireplace in the white house on the hill, it does what it is suppose to do - it creates a cozy, warm spot in our living room. Equipped with a glass door, it enables me to watch the fire. I love everything about it - the scent, the sound and the hypnotic dance of the flames that so easily make my mind travel in time and space.
This feature is one of the reasons why I fell for our house at first sight.

Beam Of Morning Sun
There is yet another illumination defining my perception currently; the increasing daylight.
The light - whether it is the lack or abundance of it - is my infinite fascination with the European North. I love the incredible shifts that the seasons here provide. The winter and the summer differ about eleven hours when it comes to light - and we are only in southern Scandinavia.
Our home does not have any spectacular views of either sunrises or sunsets, still the bay windows of the north facing kitchen can offer alluring morning views. Recently, during a winter dawn, the young sun emitted a beam of light, shooting straight up across the purple sky like a solar laser, creating an unforgettable moment.

View Into Our Living-room
The house is starting to look like a home. It is amusing to watch my belongings emerge from all the boxes, being mixed with my husbands possessions. I have not seen my things for the past year and a half and it is infinitely exciting to realize that our items fit together so very well and that we both have similar taste in interior design.

Sometimes I have to smile when I think about how one single decision, the one that I took against all odds and the one that made my family and friends question my sanity - took me here. Today no one any longer doubt my abilities to choose, even if it took me a while to get my choices right.

My phone chimes as a text message arrives from my stepdaughter. She is out with her friends and I am sitting here, in the warmth of the flickering fire, waiting for her to come home safely.
She is my responsibility today, as are the boys, while their father is once again away through work, an occurrence I am slowly getting accustomed to.
Her text is full of affectionate words that touch me almost to tears...

I experience a momentary flashback to when I was a teenager and my own mom was waiting for me and my sister, to come home from a dance, or a party.
My husband's daughter is as carefree as I was then and I am as worried sick, as my mother was.

Text From My Stepdaughter
It is not easy to be a step mom and half of the time I have no idea what I am doing. I move constantly in an uncharted territory, being thrown into a substitute parenthood of three teenagers, who two years ago did not even know I existed. I find it difficult at times to relate to my role - I am not their mother, nor will I ever be, yet I participate more than just a friend in their life.
Furthermore I missed out on their early years, I never seen them as babies or children and just jumped into a life in progress - I do not know the first thing about raising kids, least of all teenagers.
In the end of the day though all I can do is to trust that my love and good intentions are enough... The touching words in my stepdaughters message are at least a good indication that I am on the right track.

A log falls over in the fire and Sammy shifts in the chair opposite me.
All of the Sammy (aka Batcat) fans will be happy to learn that my feline companion is doing superb. He survived the move without any problems. The initial shock of the relocation lasted only a couple of hours and already on the first day, Sammy happily roamed the house, searching for his new favorite spot.
On sunny days he can be exclusively found napping inside one of our southbound windows. Watching him sleep this way is extremely soothing, as no one can relax and enjoy life as the felines can.
One day I hope he will let me in on his secret.

Our "Sammy boy"

March 08, 2013

Baby Birch.

Those of you who have been reading my writing for a while know that I am a nature lover. Most of all, I love trees - birch trees in particularly. There is something almost elf like in their shape and the texture of their alabaster bark.

I have had a special relationship with birch trees in Denmark, it seems.
The westerly panoramas of my white house on the hill were lined by a row of them. Additionally, there was a stunning tree that adorned my easterly view. I was so fascinated by it, that I documented its changes over a course of four seasons. Those images are all that remains as a testimony to its existence, as it was cut down by my neighbors shortly before I moved, much to my great shock and disbelief.
When I moved up north, there was an old birch growing in the front yard of our old, rental home. I loved to watch it shift throughout the year from my favorite spot in the kitchen.

Walking around our new property the other day, I was overjoyed when I found a very young, baby birch next to the greenhouse. It has the most beautiful, paper thin, ivory bark I have ever seen and in the shine of the late winter sun it stood out almost illuminated against the azure blue sky. The slim branches carry already buds, which will turn into catkins in about a month, announcing the arrival of spring.

This time around this birch belongs to us. Its fate is in our hands and it is safe. I find it very exhilarating to know that once again I can watch - and document - the seasonal changes of a stunning tree, completely undisturbed, hopefully for years to come.