As a child, I spent my summers here, in Mecklenburg with its many pine forests and lakes. In the forests there were mushrooms, blueberries and mosquitoes. Back in the 80s, the pines were used for resin extraction. A pot was attached to each tree, into which resin ran through a small wound in the bark. To me it looked like there was a honey jar hanging from each tree.
What else has happened Right now I’m sitting in front of the stove to get warm. Two days ago it was still 30 degrees and hell broke loose at the lake. All of Germany seems to be gathered here to pretend for a short moment that Corona is over. ♥︎ Yesterday my grandma told me about the war and how she experienced it as a child. It makes me sad to see that so many important memories are being lost little by little.
Yesterday the book arrived – finally! I left the box in the hallway for an hour and a half, because I did not dare to open it. It’s such a special moment when the book eventually stands in front of you and goes off into the world. But also time flies. My time in Hamburg is already over again. Tomorrow I’m leaving for Grandma’s.
What else has happened The big city hums and whistles, squeals and roars, shouts and chatters, barks and rumbles. I realize how quiet it actually is in Finland. And more relaxed. Here, many people with busy schedules have a lot to do, need to catch the bus, want to do some quick shopping, or just want to pass by here quickly. I love the big city anyway. ♥︎
Last weekend I worked late and had to turn on the light for the first time, around midnight. Meanwhile, a new generation of frogs hops the long way from the lake to the forest. I myself packed up and headed out. Into the big wide city. In Hamburg, it gets really dark at night. That feels strange and unfamiliar.
What else has happened I arrived last night, completely famished because I didn’t dare take off my mask all day, at the airport or on the plane. It’s so much louder here in the big city. And there are so many people. ♥︎ Next week I’m going to the small, little German version of Finland. To Mecklenburg to my grandma.
Time flies. And already the hay is cut again, every day the blueberries turn a little more blue and the evening skies are colored in pink-purple, as summer skies in Finland like to do. And I sit at my desk and plot big things. Parallel to the book release of my book »Die gute Mappe (The Good Portfolio)« next week, the Portfolio Academy will also go online. This is the place for illustrators and designers who want to tweak their portfolio to bring together commercial success with artistic fulfillment. 🥳
What else has happened At the same time, the feedback challenge is running on Instagram. If you still want to take part, follow this link. ♥︎ Next week I’m flying to Hamburg. I haven’t been to the big city in a long time and I’m kind of scared. All these people!! And all the noise and the subway and the cars ... Also I’m wondering how smart it is to travel with the Covid-19 delta variant on the rise. But it’s my grandma’s birthday and I haven’t seen my family for a long time. ♥︎ Hopefully there will be still raspberries outside when I’ll get back.
No time, no time. There is a lot to do right now. So many new plans, so many things to do. And already half of the year is over. True to tradition, I have picked midsummer flowers. And promptly discovered that the first blueberries are already ready.
What else has happened So many new plans are being hatched right now. Sometimes I feel the great need to bury my head in the sand, like an ostrich. But then it goes on. Step by step. ♥︎ In two weeks I will fly home to visit my friends and family. That feels pretty crazy ...
The longest day of the year is already over. Since yesterday, the days are getting shorter again. The strawberries do not care. They still get so much light that they grow gigantic. The clover blooms turn the meadow white. Hundreds of bumblebees buzz like little helicopters. Sometimes one gets lost to my desk. A friendly visitor.
What else has happened I’ve moved. The freshly painted floor has not yet dried. That’s why I’ve moved to another room that turned out to be even nicer. A pleasant surprise. ♥︎ The public saunas are open again. Sauna sweating with swimming in the lake and drying in the summer sun. The best thing ever.
The Finnish summer is beautiful – and short. It’s all about not missing a single day, making the most of every ray of sunshine and dancing barefoot across the meadow as often as possible.
What else has happened Next week I am moving. That’s why I’m preparing everything in the new room. The floor got a new coat of paint in light gray, a nice contrast to the orange-brown of the timber wall. ♥︎ The Portfolio-Challenge is done and was a great success. I’m happy!
Right now it is thundering and lightning outside. Cool breezes sail across the lake, heralding the rain that will come after the storm. They smell of summer. Outside it’s so green and full of abundance. The Finnish summer is short. But so intense and full of contrasts that it makes me feel more aware, more alert, more alive.
What else has happened Due to the thunderstorms there are a lot of power outages happening. IIt is strange how much our online life depends on electricity. And how entangled everyday things are with it. ♥︎ Every morning I ground my feet on gravelly paths. Feeling connected to the ground that holds me makes me happy.
It no longer gets dark at night. There are flowers everywhere. And it is warm. With it also come the mosquitoes. I still walk barefoot in the meadow in the morning, wildly paddling my arms to drive them away. Another kind of morning yoga.
What else has happened I am preparing to break new ground. It’s exciting, but scary at the same time. And far outside my comfort zone. ♥︎ Nature changes so quickly here. Everything is preparing to enjoy the summer intensely and with every breath. I still have to get used to that.
Everything is in bloom. But the new blueberries are already here, only they are not yet blue. The jackdaws are picnicking in large flocks on the freshly mowed meadow, looking for earthworms. They live in the neighboring trees, whose hollows are now all already occupied. The bird real estate market seems to be quite tight lately.
What else has happened I realize that I tend to underestimate how much work some things are. At times I’ve been annoyed that I overestimate myself. Then I realized that this is a pretty good thing. If I knew how much work it was at the beginning, I wouldn’t even start. ♥︎ If you haven’t registered for the free Book Launch Portfolio Challenge yet, join us here!
It happened. Exactly on my birthday last week the trees exploded. *Kaboom!* All of a sudden everything is green and lush. The rain of the last few days was sincerely greeted by blades of grass. Green arms were raised in the air and everyone tried to be taller than the others.
What else has happened After the old book is before the new book, and besides, after the old book always comes the marketing for the old book. And that’s pretty time-consuming and very exciting right now. So many new things that need to be learned. ♥︎ At night it is now already light until midnight. The white nights are already here.
May 13th 2021 ♥︎ Haukijärvi, Finland
Month 15: Birthday celebrations
Today is my birthday. I turn 41. Whaaat? How can this be? My last birthday was not more than three weeks ago. Why is time flying so fast? I begin this new year in life with the intention of meeting each day with thoughtfulness and celebrating the small moments of joy. Therefore, I should have a conversation with my inner squirrel, which always drives me to hurry from A to B. »There are enough nuts for everyone, little squirrel. No need to rush.« ;-)
What else has happened For the book release of »Die gute Mappe (The Good Portfolio)« there’s a free Portfolio Challenge. Would you like to take part? Please do! You can find more information here (although in German). ♥︎ Madame Spring has finally decided to arrive in Finland. The last three days have been so warm that you can sit outside in a t-shirt. Pink-pale skin quickly turns red. Freckles celebrate great parties on noses and cheeks. Feet breathe a sigh of relief during their first walk on grass.
After every big project an even bigger void is waiting to be entered. Maybe this time I’ll manage to avoid the valley of tears with joyful courage and optimism. The easiest way is to just start a new project. That’s what I did: Sey hello, Pferdemädchen-Comic. I’m also waiting for spring. This morning it snowed again. Slowly I am getting impatient.
What else has happened Since a few weeks I have been writing a blog about the »good« portfolio and how to position yourself as a professional creative. You are very welcome to have a look (it’s in German though). ♥︎ Even though it is still snowing, it is already light outside until half past ten at night. The white nights are almost back. So soon!
The book is in print! The last seven days have therefore been very busy and have been completely lost in the deadline stress. To be honest, I have hardly left the house at all. Fortunately, it has rained, snowed and stormed. So there weren’t that many good reasons to go out either.
What else has happened Besides that not much. ♥︎ Yesterday I celebrated with a chanterelle pizza. ♥︎ Parallel to the book, the revised book website has also gone online. From now on, I will post an article on the topics of portfolio and positioning there every Thursday. ♥︎ The first days after such a big project feel very strange. It takes time to get used to the idea.
The last few days a warm spring breeze blew across the brownish fields and dusty roads. The buds on the trees already foretell it. Soon everything will be covered in a juicy green. But not yet. It feels as if nature pauses once again for a moment before taking off.
What else has happened The frogs have awakened. Bravely they hop their way down to the lake to bring another generation of frogs into the world. ♥︎ The cranes are also back. Their calls sound like dinosaurs. ♥︎ Tomorrow it‘s supposed to snow. And that, although I already had my first official Chucks-day – a nice change from the past thick-winter-boots-months.
All of a sudden the sea ice has disappeared. The lake sparkles and ripples in the sun. Just a few days ago, the whooper swan we met on the evening walk was still slithering across the ice. It looked actually pretty funny, because it was not as majestic as usual.
What else has happened The book is about to hit the home stretch. With every new book I’m surprised how long this final editing and proofreading takes and how exhausting it is. Shortly after the book is published, I quickly forget about it, only to be surprised again the next time.
Suddenly, it started snowing again, with a few innocent flakes at first, but they quickly turned into a flurry of snow. Still the clean white of the lake ice has gotten dark spots. It’s no longer safe to walk on it. Only the swans still dare.
What else has happened You can see from the foot prints on the ice that our swan neighbors are already pretty busy, exploring their old habitat. All the other birds are also coming back. ♥︎ At night the sky shines already until nine. The long winter night is over.
Slowly but surely all the snow mountains have thawed away and flows in small streams and rivers towards the lake. Rubber boots are the best shoe choice. Flocks of magpies and gangs of sparrows gather in the trees and bushes. The Whooper Swans can be heard quacking for a long time before they then appear in the blue sky.
What else has happened The meadows and fields are still gray-brown, but it is clearly noticeable that inside a green storm is rising, which will soon break loose in flowers, leaves and stalks. ♥︎ At the moment I’m working in the third round of editing. Smaller production issues still need to be resolved. Soon the book will be done. Probably next week :-)
These are probably the last days when it is still possible to walk on the lakes. The ice is melting and small ponds of dew are forming on the lake ice. The Whooper swans are coming back and are drawing big circles in the sky. The daylight currently stays until half past seven in the evening. I am happy to see so much light.
What else has happened I also spent last week painting the stairs in the blue house. It was interesting to see how scared I was of all the steps involved. And it was also nice to see that it was quite an easy job: removing the carpet and moldings, filling the holes with wood filler, sanding the stairs and finally painting it – in a beautiful glossy light-grey.
A few days ago, I was sitting in the office kitchen with my morning coffee and it suddenly struck me that I could hear the birds singing outside again. All summer long there was tweeting, twittering and trilling outside. Over the winter it became quiet. With the returning light also comes the hustle and bustle – among birdies and people.
What else has happened Some days are still very dark and gray. Others shine in white, blue and golden sunshine. Now and then thick fluffy flakes of snow fall from the sky. But it seems that no one is anymore impressed by it. Everyone is waiting for spring. ♥︎ Snow slides off the roofs in great avalanches. Keeping your distance is the safe choice here as well.
It thaws. Nevertheless, the lakes are still frozen. Because the snow has melted, the ice is now visible and looks like glass. The perfect time to go ice skating. The lakes seem to feel the spring as well, they stretch and groan. It feels like walking on the top of a thunderstorm. Under your feet it rumbles and thunders.
What else has happened Walking across the lakes is much faster than walking through the forest. This is very practical. ♥︎ With each day the book becomes more finished. I realize that I can’t imagine what it will be like without the book as a daily task. But the next book is already waiting to finally come into the world.
The book is slowly but surely heading for the home stretch. It makes me happy to see how it turned out. It’s still slippery and icy outside, so I rarely leave the house. It’s good for the book. The last steps are going easily.
What else has happened After many weeks, you can now see the grass under the snow again. In some places it peeps out from under the white ice cover. ♥︎ It’s a transitional phase. Spring is not quite here yet, but winter has already gone.
Exactly one year ago today in Hamburg I packed the last box in the green Rosinante (my 20 year old Volvo), brought Minzi (my balcony peppermint) to my friend Vera and I left for the big wide world. I can hardly believe that a year has passed. What’s next, where is the journey going. I don’t know right now. And that’s ok.
What else has happened It has been raining for almost a week and the temperature has risen above zero. The white snow became this dirty whitish ice. ♥︎ It’s penguin weather. Some also call it hip-breaking weather. It’s safer to sway like a penguin, shifting your weight from one leg to the other, instead of casually bouncing along merrily.
Blue and white dominate. In between, the yellow of the sun occasionally blends into the color palette of the landscape. In the snow it becomes visible how many animal neighbors live in the area. Nights are cold and lit by stars and their reflection in the snow. Yesterday my feet needed some time under my warm blanket to thaw.
What else has happened The main character of my picture book »Hoch hinaus« is a moose named Erasmus. Curious and adventurous, he leaves his forest and explores the world. I have found his tracks. ♥︎ Yesterday I sent my book’s first draft to my amazing editor Barbara. My to-do-list fits on one A4 page. It is almost done. ♥︎ Above you see last May compared to now.
The air shimmers and sparkles in the sunlight. It is cold, the snow is dry and fluffy and with every breath of wind ice crystals are swirled into the sky. It feels like walking through glitter. The shadows are long and deep blue. Through them the landscape gets contour and depth.
What else has happened The book will be ready by the end of February. It is getting time. I notice how I’m starting to »verschlimmbessern« it. ♥︎ For you non-German speaking people: German offers this very cool word, if you make something worse by trying to improve it. This is called »verschlimmbessern« = to improve something badly or to up-down-grade something.
Ice crystals fly through the air like confetti. The air sparkles and dances. Before me lies the lake like a vast white meadow. The shoreline no longer exists. Just keep walking into the pristine expanse. It is easy to forget that a whole universe lies beneath it. The snow is deep and soft and reflects the miraculous colors of the dawn.
What else has happened Three weeks ago, the landscape consisted only of contrasts of white and black. Now colors are coming back. The sunsets glow in violet, apricot, pink and purple. ♥︎ The book is in the final stages of soon seeing the light of day. The last meters are incredibly exhausting. Soon! Soon it will be done!
I’ve probably shoveled more snow in the last week than in all the previous 40 years combined. The snow is light and powdery, like little feathers of ice. It makes everything smooth and velvety. But it keeps on snowing. More and more snow. There’s hardly any room left to shovel it to. Not so small little mountains pile up at the edges of the paths. Every shovel needs to go over the mountain. I will look like Popeye in the spring.
What else has happened This morning a golden sun shone into the office. As soon as the sun appears, everyone here at Arteles is outside. Sunlight is precious. Still, you can clearly notice that the days are getting longer. ♥︎ Yesterday I dug my car out of the snow: a big shovel and a broom are now the tools of choice. Good old Rosinante bravely starts up every time. As a Swedish old lady she probably knows how to handle snow well.
Everytime when I walk through the snowy forest, I think of a story that I loved to listen to often as a kid. It’s the story of Mr. Fox, who, on his way through the fairytale forest, swipes a basket of treats which belongs to Borstel, a hedgehog child, who is supposed to bring the goodies to the sick Mr. Eagle Owl. But the thieving Mr. Fox does not get far. Here’s a link for those who can’t wait to find out what happens. ;-)
What else has happened It feels great to look at the result after an hour and a half of snow shoveling. It’s oddly satisfying. It has been snowing hard for some days now. There is almost no space left to push the snow. ♥︎ At noon, when it’s not snowing, the sun colors the snow in shades of apricot, pink and orange. Still: Now, in the winter landscape, I keep realizing why the flag of Finland has to be blue and white.
It may be that it’s just because there’s so much snow right now that makes everything look brighter and more beautiful, but I feel like the light is coming back. I felt it a few days ago, that suddenly there was this lightness, as if something was lifted out of the gloom. The snow makes everything quieter, more peaceful. Even the neighbor’s dogs bark a lot less when you walk by.
What else has happened Snow shoveling is both an early morning workout and meditation at the same time. In a strange way, it feels very soothing. Pushing the white mounds of snow back and forth calms me as much as cutting dough and letting sugar drizzle. ♥︎ It has been very cold for a few days, around minus 20 degrees. It’s so cold you can hear the air tinkling. Cheeks freeze. Words sound as if spoken through thick pillows.
The year began while I was sitting on a snowy bench and little clouds of steam rose from me into the winter night. After three firecrackers and a few wohoo-shouts from the far neighbors, everything went silent again. The trees, covered with icing and powdered sugar, whisper softly to themselves. When the wind gently brushes over them and a few ice crystals sail to the ground, you can hear a bright, clear tinkle.
What else has happened A few days ago I found a moose track. The steps were about a meter long and the footprint as wide as my sturdy winter shoes. I followed the trail and after a few hundred meters across a field, a small, dense forest appeared. Other tracks, of hares, foxes and deer, followed the edge of the forest. Only the moose did not. He broke through the heart of the forest like an icebreaker. ♥︎ Happy new year to you!