Words & Photography by Gunn Kristin Monsen
Nothing clears my head as simplicity, beautiful flowers and the sound of the lake.
I have always been drawn to the lake. Growing up spending all my summers at my grandparents place where I could run to the lake and have a swim any time, has made it so natural. The feeling of heather scraping up my bare legs as I ran the few meters to our hidden place. The joy of the fresh water as I entered the lake to swim in the tiny bay with my friend and the amazing feeling of just existing in the moment. Luxury given by nature so generously and consumed and enjoyed totally natural as a child.
Living in Norway means for many Norwegians having the nature’s scenery as a backdrop to our daily life. The mountains, fjord woods, lakes and long coastline are our natural elements. We are so used to it and may forget sometimes the impact it has on our way of living and thinking. For me a hectic life with no stopping points to catch my breath and the growing feeling of losing the ability to be in the moment, led me to search for the feeling again of my childhood. The beautiful feeling of time just passing as the mind take a break. My surrounding were the same as in my childhood, after settling with my family in the house where I had my summer paradise. Still the nature had lost its effect on me. Being so consumed in the fast pace of my daily life I had no tools to recognize what was so close. My turning point was my first yoga class and starting to practice simple breathing techniques in my life. I discovered myself lying in bed, breathing and suddenly really hearing the sounds from the nature right outside my open bedroom window. The singing birds, the leaves rustling in the wind and the gentle sound of the lake so close to our house. It brought me back to my first winter in this house. My husband and I had just moved from the city to my childhood paradise after my grandparents. The winter was so cold, but still we kept the window in the bedroom slightly open for fresh air. My baby girl was in our bed getting breastfeed and then I heard it, the sound of the frozen lake, like a humming song. It was the ice moving and swaying and it all made a sound deep and wavy. So calming and relaxing. The most beautiful soundtrack to a precious moment. How could I have I had stopped listening to that?
Now summer is here and we have our windows wide open as often we can. Letting the sound of nature surround us, and be the soundtrack to our life. The water sounds different now with its merry sounds hitting the stones around the lake. We swim and take a trip in our old rowboat hunting for waterlilies, the most beautiful white flowers to be picked at just the right moment before it closes its crowns in the evening.
The stillness on the lake and the feeling of running you’re hand through the water as the boat slowly moves along. The seagulls watching us closely to protect their newly hatched babies. All so peaceful. At the house we move outside to live. We eat in the garden, and forget to check our watches in the light of long summer nights. This summer we have been blessed with endless warm sunny days, we feel these days in our bodies when the days of rain pouring down arrive. We are a strange people here in the north, spending so many days of the year inside waiting for these sometimes few, but precious summer days.
I must admit I still have a long way to go in letting myself really benefit from the amazing tool nature around me is as a calming source. I love my job and could do it all my awakening hours, but to do it well I need time to reflect, getting inspired and letting the stress go. I need time to be creative and to let myself be lost in the process. When the mind is filled with distracting thoughts this is really hard. So I slowly give myself more space and room to breathe, getting closer to nature again and letting the sound of the lake inspire me to a life with more presence in the moment. It’s not easy but I am blessed with the most beautiful surrounding to help me on my way.
My dream now is to build a studio in my garden. I have this image of the beautiful light from the lake streaming trough big windows in my studio, soft with a touch of blue tones from the water. Even closer to nature and its magic clearing my head time and again.
© all pictures Gunn Kristin Monsen
More about Gunn, contributor of our NL2, here.
And more of this essay in our NL2 magazine.
Words & Photography by Elise Boreham
I recently had some extended time away from work. It was time that I waited for, planned on and dreamt about, practically all year. Finally, it arrived. My time was mine. At least for a little while. While I love what I do in the world and the time I spend out in it, I realised on this extended break from my usual routine, that time is what I crave most. Time to create, time to rest, and perhaps most of all, time at home.
Sometimes it’s hard not to feel like life is rolling away at an impossible speed. A speed I’m not sure I can, or want to move at. Whilst I would love to work entirely for myself one day, for now I’m stuck with the metaphorical ‘man’. This means early wake-ups, late finishes, and a weekly routine that can at times feel a little monotonous. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. These are choices and actions, and we can change them. But we do still have to live it (and pay bills) every-day, and sometimes that can feel like a lot. In all of this busyness, there has to be quiet and refuge. A place where we can just be, and in our own time. So as my break began and time slowed to a pace I could keep up with, my focus shifted toward home.
Maybe it’s the introvert in me, but I believe home is at the core of everything. I know without question that after a busy day, an anxious week, or a stressful month, that the place I need to go is home. Home is the place where I unwind and recharge, where my day starts and where it ends. That ever-quickening pace the world seems to move at slows, and my world is just that, mine. My family recount to me often, that ever since I was small I have had a penchant for home-making. Rearranging furniture here, moving ornaments there; nothing has changed. My surroundings have always been one of my greatest forms of self expression, and perhaps one of the most enduring influences in my life.
Home is a small piece of the world that is ours to shape, and mould, and nurture. We get to choose what it means, and what that looks like. I believe home and self to be intrinsically linked, a part of the soul. So to make a home your own is a very deliberate act of self-care. Your very own kingdom made by collecting, organising and living, that is true to you.
For me, home is a sanctuary, and so I choose to fill it with things that speak to me. I have a love of ceramics that borders on obsession, a seriously longstanding weakness for linen, and a collection of photo frames large enough to open a small gallery. While they might seem inane to others, these objects hold profound meaning to me. Sometimes it’s hard to explain why we love something, but the key is in the feeling. Fill your home with things that speak to your soul, that reflect you, and these things will fill you up in return. It’s not about having the most things, or the best things, it’s about what these things mean to you, how they speak to you. Build your home with feeling and it will nurture you infinitely in return.
While I love to be surrounded by beautiful things, I also love an organised and clutter-free space. Space to think and breath without the contents of the linen closet crushing you, or the sheer size of your wardrobe overwhelming you. It is all too easy to become stifled by stuff, inhibited by choice. For me at least, this doesn’t feel good. Organising my home has really been about two things; storage and consumption. No matter the size of your space, storage is always an issue. Make furniture decisions that cater to your storage needs, and your home will be a far calmer one. This also means having what you need and love, and ditching (or donating) the rest. Resist the modern-day urge to fill every known cavity with stuff. Organisation has also meant honing my consumption more broadly, considering the purchase of every item carefully before bringing it in to our home. Is it an item of quality? Do I need or love it? Will it add value to my life? Living in a one-bedroom apartment, on a tight budget, I can now say this is a practice I am well versed in.
Home is also in paying attention to the little things. All of the comforts, rituals and routines that make up my world, begin and end at home. Creating this sense of sanctuary is a very deliberate act, and only exists when we take the time to appreciate it. It is warm summer nights grazing over dinner in the courtyard. Sunday afternoons cooking up the morning market finds. The morning light hitting that sweet spot in the living room. Watching our herb garden grow and thrive as each day passes. Home is a place where time should be measured in cups of tea rather than hours passed. A place where you can laze in bed until midday, and not get dressed at all. Home is in all of these things, but you must pay attention, as it is in these seemingly insignificant details that the real beauty exists. Slow down, be present and make time for the things that actually matter, and your home will repay you daily.
Home is what we make it. The more you build it and nurture it, the more it will care for you. Give home your time, your focus, your care and it will give you the world; your very own world. There is so much that we cannot control. My early wake-ups and weekly routine roll on, much of my time dictated by someone else. But home is of our own making. Surround yourself with things that speak to your soul, keep all that ‘stuff’ to a minimum, and pay attention to all of the tiny, beautiful things happening around you. Home is a sanctuary, a place that is infinitely yours. If it isn’t, do everything you can to make it so, for there is no greater place to be.
Words & Photography by Christina Strehlow-
Love this place, the fields, the landscape, the sea so close, the magic light … dreaming that this never ends..at all.
It was obvious that it would be Österlen, we would only find the right house, and when we did, it felt so right. The first summer we spent here was cold, not at all like this summer, and we were renovating the house a lot in a comfortable climate. This summer was the best for a very long time, and I feel so grateful and glad that we can spend so much time here in Skåne, at Österlen, where we are so happy. So wonderful to inhale impressions, views, moments that arise and that you want to preserve, then it’s good to be able to take the camera to remember this instant forever, it never comes again… that’s how I think when I’m shooting these summer moments of our daily life in Österlen- Sometimes I want to shoot so many moments….time is limiting me, but I’m getting better at reacting fast and playing on daylight.
Our house is from the 19th century, and many fine details remained as old doors, low ceilings in some rooms, creating really the old style of former days. We mixed them up with new and modern details. One can say that the whole house is an inspiring place for me and my studio where I can plate everything from product images to my artwork. I really love the light here and the lyrical evenings when the soft light is creeping in and it looks so magically beautiful and inspiring.
The plains, the countryside, the fields, the sea, when you are close to all them, it’s not hard to get inspired and I work at least as much as I rest. I combine both, working and taking breaks. That’s how I want to live, I do not have any trouble to unwind occasionally, take the bike down to the water and take a dip or hang in the hammock and just read. I love to create peaceful worlds through my imagery that feed my soul too, so when I take photos of my daughters, I hardly see it as a job, it is filling me with happiness and energy. This place will always be my inspiration to create, to have my studio here, both inside the house and outside the door, is amazing. If I occasionally lose contact to my inspiration, I drink my coffee ( often 8 cups ), take a walk and look at the beautiful prospect and the inspiration is coming back to me.
Feel so privileged and grateful
© all pictures Christina Strehlow
More about in our NL2 magazine and about Christina here.
Images & Words: Sisilia Tiseli-
Before the day begins…
I do love waking up into the comfort of silence, it is an early morning type of silence, that breed of silence where it is just you and all that is beautiful and natural; the kind of silence that is seen with the eyes and felt only by the depth of the heart. It is at a time where the sky is a deep sea kind of blue, the air is crystal crisp, filling up the lungs with deep sighs of gratitude. Inhaling. Exhaling. Slowly. Sigh. Seconds feel like hours has passed by whilst I enjoy this kind of silence, a sense of peace, just before the day begins.
When I was younger, I was always at a pace where it was on mode “go” and sleeping was a pause between days. The alarm would go off at 5 in the morning, and I am up, ready for the first phase of the day; an hour of exercise, make coffee, shower, drink coffee, getting dressed, blending of smoothie while sipping hastily of black coffee number 2, out the door and walk to train station. At the train station, I mentally go over my to-do list for the day. When the train arrives, it signals that the day has begun. All this happened before 7:30am. This seamless and well-oiled process that was my pre-morning went on for the next 14 years. I had no complains since this pace and structure suited me just fine. However, it wasn’t until recently, that my body yelled halt, and so I had to revisit how my day begins.
Three years ago, I realised how important it was to start my morning in a way that was gentle and mindful. Most days are demanding as it already is, so it was important that the beginning of the day should be treated with much care. I came across the notion of wabi- sabi as well as the idea of “slowliving” and it helped during this time of transition. I instantly recognised that there was a sense of disconnect within myself and everything else. Nature, which was something that I never appreciated, became the line connecting me to myself and everything else. It is with nature that taught me how to slow down, to stop, to enjoy, and appreciate the beauty that was silence. I also learnt to pause and listen, within myself and also all around me.
Before the day begins…
My mornings these days are extremely simple, grounded by a large dose of mindfulness; me, myself, coffee in my comfort cup, favourite linen blanket and silence.The first thing that I do to break the state of sleep after the dedicated call from the alarm is making that first pot of coffee. The process is methodical, but I take a little time for this, since this too is also a much loved part of my morning. During the time that I have my water boiled, I walk outside with a cold glass of water to take long large gulps of the luxurious morning crisp air, and, just, wait. I wait until I hear the “snap” from inside, a sign that the water is ready. For my morning coffee, I use what I call the comfort cup. I have specific cups for my coffee, tea and hot lemon water. I don’t know when this peculiarity started, but it has always been there before I fell in love with beautiful hand thrown ceramic vessels. Ordinary vessels when made with love, is priceless. My favourite comfort cups were made by my dear friend and talented ceramist, Annemieke.
My first act in the morning before the day really begins is to be gentle with myself, to enjoy the little things and to still the mind. Life and the day will be demanding, but starting the day simply and gently is a way to reclaiming a sense of control, a pace that is defined by you…before the day begins.
© all pictures Sisilia Tiseli
More in our NL1 magazine! Available at: coffetablemags,
Words & Images Frederique Peckelsen-
Not all summers are the same. Whilst most people use summers to lay in the sun and typically relax, for me summer is a time to explore and discover. I have the freedom to visit places far away from home, far away from the big known cities and the Western world. There are so many untold stories on our earth, so many unseen places, and I have this insatiable urge to go out and find them and share these stories with the world. I used to love the warm weather. My grandma always asked me when I was going to move to Spain. But then Iceland changed something. I want to be outside in the cold.
The white North has a treasurable silence, that I have found nowhere else in the world. It is the only place that never distracts me from my own thoughts and feelings, but rather confronts me with it. The endless white landscapes brings clarity to my mind. The rough but silent nature is so perfectly aligned with what I feel on the inside. There is hope, in the desolate landscape – as contradicting as it may sound. Its beauty strikes you in your core, as there is no distraction of any kind. Only a very pure feeling remains.
But then again, the North can be as mysterious as the night. The hidden and covered landscapes, and the mystery of what lies beneath and beyond makes way for untold stories. The invisible or the things out of sight fuel my imagination, and make way for a sense of freedom, away from the familiar and the obvious. The North is like home, but it is always far away from today, here and now. And in this way, with both clarity and imagination, the North unites me with my creativity that mostly gets smothered in the more crowded places. It taps into a world of the lost, the hidden, the untold and the forgotten. The North feels like the abandoned lands of epic battles fought in children books. Battles between higher Gods and invisible creatures.
I grew up in a very small town up in the North. I had a childhood full of fantasy, and played in the woods that surrounded our house for days on end. I imagined every tree was a spirit, and that the woods would talk to each other, but they talked in a language unknown to mankind. I played at a little wooden church, close to home. The church was built by Vikings, according to old folk tales. Folk tales and fairytales were not just stories that were made up, there had to be more to them. Since then I have always been on a quest to find most distant and forgotten places, locked between the most majestic mountains. Isolated houses awake my fantasy. Who lives there? What would a cold night, full of storm be like in there? Have you ever wondered? Every time I go back to Iceland, I secretly hope for these colors. There is so much that awestrucks me, but these colors make everything even more magical.
We are all looking for something, chasing it, sometimes even without knowing what it is. I always tend to find ‘it’ in desolate places, because of this ongoing confrontation with my own mind, and the beauty that I’m surrounded by while contemplating it all. As we grow older, we should realize that our option broaden, they do not limit. Learn, practice, put in every extra hour you have. Because if this is that little voice talking, it will guide you toward your final path. I’m looking for sacred places in nature, perhaps because I’m looking for that place within myself. Somewhere where nature is harsh and rules over everything, instead of everything seemingly ruling over nature. There is something so magical about the ever changing but rough and pure landscape of the North. It feels like an untouched piece of the earth, whereas a lot of other places are all altered to serve humans and make life easier. I believe that where we go or what we long for defines who we are, or and least says something about us.
Everyone has that one thing that keeps on calling. But mostly it is very silently. When we are children it is so much louder, and so much clearer. As kids we know exactly what we want, and we are not afraid to say these desires out loud. But then, when we get older, dreams change, although dreaming never changes. But the one thing is, that we don’t take our dreams as serious as we did before. When I was young, I always wanted to be an Egyptologist, an areologist. Of course my options where limited, but as a child I didn’t know what possibilities the world had in store. But I did know I was intrigued by forgotten and untold stories, by undiscovered kingdoms and that I wanted to explore what hadn’t been explored. I wanted to show the world the treasures earth possesses.
© all pictures Frederique Peckelsen
But weirdly enough, as we grow older, our dreams aren’t as big as they were – even though we are more aware of all its possibilities. We think about what would be the most sensible choice, what brings us most money. All of a sudden our options are limited, and we are scared to even say out loud what we desire. I am not saying that everybody should give up their jobs, and build a cabin in the woods (isn’t that what we all would love?). But what I am saying is, listen to that little voice inside. That dream you are scared off. That one thing you fear you will be ridiculed for, or seems impossible to achieve. Has one ever regretted trying to follow their dream?
Essay of our NL1 magazine!
pictures: Michael Schauer in NL1
pictures: Morgane Erpicum in NL1
pictures: Kristoffer Vaikla in NL1
pictures: Davide Rostirolla in NL1
pictures: Gustav Willeit in NL1
pictures: Alexander Kopatz in NL1
pictures: Petros Koublis
pictures: Norbert von Niman in NL1