Some of you might recall my very long commute to the university. I drive a total of one hundred and eighty miles each day.
It is amazing how we humans adapt.
If someone asked me a year ago if I would mind spending each day three hours in a car in order to get to and from work, I would have laughed in their face and said "no way!".
And yet here I am today, doing exactly that which at one time seemed unthinkable to me.
I have mixed feelings about this crazy commute. When it pours down with strong winds, when it is dark and the traffic is heavy, the drive is a terrible ordeal. I arrive at my destination exhausted, my body tense and my mood somber.
And yet, there are times, when the complete opposite takes place, such as this week.
As the days grow longer, I am currently gifted with absolutely stunning views that pass my car windows almost every day.
Setting out, I can watch breathtaking sunrises, which bathe the low lying landscape in pastel nuances of a winter dawn. With only a touch of frost, nature carries a gentle hue of white and yet the arctic air which has swept over the country holds a promise of heavy snowfall.
Turning into the second half of its reign, the Ice Lady is determined to tighten her grip. Until snowstorms prevent me from driving all together, I enjoy the unblemished beauty of an early morning drive - my daily simple pleasure and a true natural wonder.
(All images taken with my old Nikon Coolpix during a recent drive to work)
I sit here with my cup off coffee, watching another midwinter morning unfold through the windows. It is going to be a cold but a sunny day, it seems. I am alone in the house, an occurrence quiet unusual to me presently - it is welcomed, but the perception that it will only last a few hours is also very comforting.
I do not miss the solitude of the single life at all. I miss perhaps having more time to write.
Time and its relativity is indeed what occupies my mind these days. Just a year ago I still lived in the white house on the hill, having an entirely different future ahead off me. It is only a year and yet it feels like another lifetime all together. Since I met the man to whom I have given my heart forever, I try to savour every single day as it was my last - I want my days with him to count and to be meaningful, as very soon we will be apart for months.
Our separation is on my mind constantly, even though I try to push it away. It will only last four months, yet because the past ten since he came into my life come across as an eternity, a time span longer than a week feels endless to me.
Thus comes May, I need to reorganize my life and have some projects planned to occupy my reality. One of them will be our garden. Our garden is wild and untamed and lets face it - barren. It needs desperately some attention and I will definitely be sharing with you this progress as soon as winter moves into spring.
I type this while I enjoy my morning coffee from a cup that was a Christmas gift from the children. I can say in no uncertain terms that it was the best gift I have received for a very long time - maybe ever - due to the sentiments with which it was given. It is a handmade cup with colourful drawings and writing all around. It states "Zuz, the best stepmother" and the word "dad" is written within a small red heart on the side. I still get teary eyes and a warm fuzzy feeling within when I hold it. I will never be a mom, something that is by now painfully obvious to me and this cup symbolizes that this as close to being a mother as I will ever be. It also reminds me of that single fact that families come in many different shapes and sizes and that I and Sammy have found ours.
Sammy, my bellowed feline companion is still around, if any of you wonder. He has fully adapted to his new home and has found new routines in an every day life. New places to nap at, new windows to watch the world from. New people to greet in the evening and new adventures to look forward to.
He - just like me, misses very little of the white house on the hill. The occasional sunset and my fireplace. That is about it. At times I miss some of my things in storage, still it is amazing how little we humans need to be happy. Material items and possessions bring only temporary satisfaction. Happiness lies in the things we do not own, but those we borrow and those we give away - joy, laughter, company and unconditional love, all locked into simple pleasures.
At times I lie awake in the night terrified. I am scared of loosing the happiness that is so infusing me today. I wonder so what I have done to deserve having so many wonderful people in my life all of a sudden and the thought of loosing them brings out the worst in me - my insecurities which arise from so many failed relationships and so many hardships in my past. Thus I fight a battle currently with myself, growing on a level I never had to before, simply by realizing that I am good enough and I deserve to be happy. Furthermore I try not to let past mistakes cloud my judgment and rule my present - I am learning how to trust again.
I have realized that I have spend my whole life looking for the ultimate security and it is dawning on me today that such thing does not exist. As the morning outside grows into the beginning of a new day, I will try to do the only thing that is my true prerogative - to seize this new day as it was my last and accept that life is unpredictable - which ultimately is its greatest allure.
"One has to abandon altogether the search for security, and reach out to the risk of living with both arms. One has to court doubt and darkness as the cost of knowing. One needs a will stubborn in conflict, but apt always to total acceptance of every consequence of living and dying."
Morris L. West
There is something noticeably different about our daylight. Almost one month since winter solstice, our day has already increased by fifty minutes, a difference that can certainly be perceived.
This past weekend as I stood in our kitchen preoccupied with my own thoughts, the silhouette of our birch suddenly caught my eye, as it stood illuminated by the setting sun, against an evening sky defined by peach and iris blue coloured hue. The day has aged into twilight, my favorite kind of light. I love the time of dusk, with its contagious stillness and enchanted atmosphere.
As I stood there watching, the surroundings grew the hue of tangelo. I had to walk out, camera in my hand, witnessing a natural wonder, while the beauty of the first visible mid winter sunset unfolded through the barren trees in our backyard. The amber coloured skies created a sense of preview of what is to come, as winter moves into the second half of its reign.
I think and I feel, in alternation. And then sometimes I write about it here, if my feelings and thoughts agree and the product can be described in a coherent manner.
After confiding in my friend Elizabeth recently about my fears and my less than flattering reactions to those fears, she send me a link to a text which contained the following:
"Full moons are often a time of madness on the planet. The crazies come out of the woodwork, people are more accident prone, impatient, reckless. At the heart of it, though, the hidden is illuminated – on both a personal and a collective level- and that can drive many of us to emotional extremes.
Cancer is a nurturing, subjective, and family-oriented sign. It is highly intuitive, its feelings are easily hurt, and its energies are focused, directed. It dislikes emotional confrontations and, like the crab that represents this sign, it retreats at the first sign of conflict, withdrawing tightly into its shell."
I had to smile with amusement reading this as I could not better describe myself indeed and I recognize the way I am ruled by the moon and its cycles.
I feel has been used before to shortly summarize the sign of Cancer. My feelings are my greatest asset and yet they are simultaneously my greatest drawback. They give rise to my creativity, sensitivity and intuitive perception, making me see the world so vividly, while I notice hidden details that others might not see. Yet, when passionate emotions overtake me, they cloud my judgment, causing me to throw logic out of the window, shutting down my intelligence, while I become temporarily insane - and even cruel.
I wonder if we all harbor within us conflicting forces, which define our personality, making us unique and special. I assume we all carry an angel and devil within and at all times our actions are a product of an internal struggle between the good and the bad inside us. Sometimes the light wins, sometimes darkness take over.
I can be weak and scared. I am not always unconditionally good and I can certainly be selfish and possessive. Yet, I know I can also be loving and warm, empathetic and altruistic, pure and generous. This is human duality, defining our species, making us so extremely intriguing and so very dangerous as well.
I believe that no one is all good, as well as no one is all evil. I guess what decides which category we fall into is the way we choose to handle those opposites within us, allowing one or the other win the internal conflicts. By acknowledging fully and completely that we posses both positive and negative qualities, we can create a balance within ourselves and strive to always follow the light through the darkness of our lives.
Ever since I was a little girl, I found amber to be a fascinating stone. Admiring the jewelry worn by my mother and grandmother, I was spellbound by the golden colour and the imperfect texture, with all its small inclusions and trapped life forms of the Eocene period. It reminded me of a time capsule, as it preserved moments of the past forever.
Today I too have in my possession purchased amber jewelry, yet it has been my wish ever since Scandinavia became my home, to find raw amber on the beach.
I never did.
Me And My Find
Having recently moved to the westbound shores of the wild North Sea, I finally got my childhood wish granted. As we took a stroll along the surf on Christmas day, after a night of strong winds, glancing casually down, I suddenly spotted a large stone below my feet. After having picked up so many brown coloured stones before, only to end up in disappointment, I knew immediately this was different - I knew I have found my very own amber.
I keep it in my jewelry box and cannot help but feel it between my fingers almost every day. It is light as a feather, its surface is rough and uneven and when I hold it against light, it sparkles like fire. Over forty millions years old, it is the oldest item I will ever touch. A product of natural wonders, in my perception it reinforces the relativity of time and the incredible value of the short time we are given.
My Amber, found on the shores of the North Sea on Christmas Day 2011
Although only at the onset of January, very slowly we are approaching mid-winter.
However, looking at my surroundings, nature looks more as if we have stepped into March. This season the snow has been absent, as well as sub zero temperatures, tricking the natural process to speed up.
Roses are in bloom, trees and shrubs are covered by new shoots and the grass by spring flowers, such as daisies. And the crocuses I planted in my new garden this October are already pushing through the ground.
Still, according to the calender, spring is months away and all we can do is hope and pray that indeed this winter will be mild. After two years of arctic conditions we need a break.
My state of mind currently mimics nature.
This year I want winter to last forever. Yet it seems to move forward with light speed, each day and week hurries along, bringing spring and eventually summer, ever so close, yet again underscoring the fact that everything is relative. Least of all time.
Thus feeling currently as if I am running out of time, my every spare moment is almost exclusively spend with the man I love and his family, explaining my lack of posts and visits. Comes summer, I will be forced to do without him for months, a thought which fills me with sadness and my eyes with tears.
Fortunately, as always when something wears heavy around my heart, I find my solace in nature. As yet another full moon shone its platinum shine in my view this past weekend and I relished in its enchanting beauty, I was reminded of the fact that everything comes in cycles and that a full life is a delicate balance between darkness and light.
"Courage to let go of fears and insecurities, courage to take a leap of faith, courage to surrender to our destiny and ultimately courage to give into love and to life itself, despite the incredible uncertainty of the future.
And I intend to be courageous with a fiery passion, as passion is what I do best."
The above lines were the final sentences in my post almost exactly a year ago. Today they feel so ominous, as they are the very essence of the experiences, which defined 2011 for me.
Brand new twelve months await and as we enter January and our reality is once again a pristine canvas, so much has the possibility to unfold.
Being in an entirely different place than I was a year ago, I still wish to be courageous with passion, as I will truly need a lot of both to get me through 2012. I know without any doubt that hardship awaits, but I hope that it will be lessened by the love and happiness that fills my heart.
A few days back, when I brought the large case filled with empty containers back into the house from our garage, in order to pack away our Christmas ornaments, a sudden movement within one of the boxes startled me. A dark small shape jumped into my view, only to disappear deeper into the trunk, small feet scurrying within the case, under all the tinsel and ornament crates, causing me to hold my breath and freeze with surprise. I grabbed the case and carried it quickly outside, far away from Sammy's proximity (the cat). Removing all the empty boxes one by one, I finally reached the bottom of the trunk and the small culprit, that has chewed its contents into pieces. A little mouse stared right back at me, its eyes dark like two onyx buttons, the nose pink and ears drawn back. Crouching in the corner, paralyzed by fear, it stood still long enough for me to get a few snapshots, watching me intensely before vanishing into the shrubs through a small hole in the case.
I had to smile with amusement, as this was my first close encounter with a mouse ever. Contemplating this I realized that even though considered vermin and a nuisance, mice are actually very symbolic animals.
Having a distinctive place in the Chinese horoscope, a mouse or a rat stands for frugality, determination, perseverance and courage and even new beginnings and rebirth. And then there is the fable of The Lion and The Mouse, a favourite of mine ever since I was a child.
Thus I guess my chance meeting with a cute rodent was indeed allegorical. A small vivacious animal that found enough courage to look me in the eye, as if to remind me to be courageous myself, embracing - with fiery passion - all that awaits down the line.
I was born under the Tatra Mountains, to a Czech father and a Slovak mother. I grew up in Sweden and lived almost ten years in North Carolina.
More than a decade ago my line of work took me to Denmark, where I live today. My home, which I share with the man that holds my heart, lies in the northerly part of a Danish peninsula, in the proximity of endless, wide and pristine westbound sandy beaches, surrounded by the rough and untamed North Sea.
My writing is defined by reflections on my cosmopolitan past and my intriguing present. Ultimately I try to convey in words and images my personal thoughts and feelings about life itself, with all its magic, natural splendour and the beauty of simple pleasures.