House Hunters International (in Paros)

Just a few photos from the recording of House Hunters International that came to visit me for five days when I still lived on the Greek island of Paros last summer! The show premiered in the US a few days ago apparently but will go on repeat several times in the next few months if you're interested in watching it. I haven't had a chance to see it myself yet. It was a bit of a vulnerable time for me, as I had just found out that I was pregnant when the team came to record the show. Can't say that I was in my best of moods. Tired as you know how a pregnancy makes you, and I felt quite sick from time to time. But somehow we made it through that challenging but fun week. (which of course got even more challenging as we had to act according to a set script).

My plan was to continue running a bed & breakfast + yoga retreat centre + holistic health coaching business from that beautiful little island. But the unexpected pregnancy made me decide on moving home to Sweden for a little while.

Life is a never ending adventure so I am going to head out on a longer trip with my lil' family starting next month. We're going to the West coast of the US, Asia and beyond. And while I may no longer be living on a beautiful Greek island doing retreats and welcoming clients to stay in the guest house, I am still working as a Holistic Health Coach and welcome clients any time of the year, no matter my location. And if any of you are ever interested in staying in the guest house on Paros, just email me and I'll put you in touch with the lovely owners.

I hope you new readers will enjoy following me along on a continued journey of self exploration and exploring the world. We're just waiting for our two months old baby boy's passport and then we're out of here. Road trips, beaches and palm trees awaits.

Create your paradise

You know how the different religions speak about heaven and hell. How we get transported to the darkness underground if we don't behave according to rules. And how we get to hear angels sing and feel the bliss of peace in heaven if we have lived decently.

I believe you can experience both here in this lifetime. I have met people who have deliberately chosen hell. By their negative mindset, their constant complaining and the bitterness they have accepted in the human roles they play.

And I have met people who live life as if they had found heaven. Their continual gratitude and ability to see and seek out the good puts them on what annoys the pessimist, a smoother path with more fluid flow.

It's about not letting problems consume you. But rather, see what can be learned. Where does life want to lead me with this? There's a lesson in everything we ever encounter. It's about appreciating the simple, the sound of birds, the scent of flowers, the kind acts of another. It's about feeling alive in each moment and welcoming whatever comes at you with open arms.

I want to live life as if, this, was the final destination. The only destination. For whatever happens in the future, this right here, is the only thing that exists, right now.

And this right now is 100% perfection.

This right now is the life you have created.

Motherhood

Three weeks ago this little man fell out of me like a slippery bag of sausages. Yea, that's what it felt like. And well, he didn't really fall out, I more pushed him out with all my physical and mental power. Standing up, using all my legs strength to push out and downwards. Gravity being my best friend in that semi stressful moment. Tired after 24 hours of labour, I decided to push with all my life, just to get the baby out and be done with the pain already. Risking ruining both holes at once. I pushed through a thick mental barrier of fear that momentarily had inhabited my mind (afraid of destroying all future opportunities to ever be able to have sex normally again), but quickly and non-destructively he tumbled out in between my legs. Falling towards the floor: head, shoulders, body, legs, all at once. Our doula just had time to throw her hands out to pick him up a few cm's above the floor. The relief! - when we could determine that, yes he is alive, seems healthy and happy and super hungry! And yes, my va-jay-jay and rectum are still in perfectly usable condition. That moment of relief....

Thank you universe... Thank you from the bottom of my bottom, I mean my heart.....

Three weeks. Everything is different. Never have I been peed, shat and puked on like this before. Never have I felt more like someone's private 24/7 cleaning, laundry and food servant. Waking up at all odd hours in the night to get back into my milk machine duty.

Rowan's father on the other hand is the one to most often dance/sway/sing baby Ro to calm when he is crying for no particular reason as I may be too tired to get up and move on my feet. A milk cow and a dance monkey, that's who we are now.

On the other hand, normal every day life pre-baby never offered this many spontaneous laughs and magical moments. Constantly amused and amazed by all the weird, funny and cute things a tiny newborn creature occupies himself with daily. The faces he makes. The way he sometimes attacks my boobs with hands and mouth as if he were a predator. The way he sometimes acts so weirdly grown up. The way he always want to stay near us. Calms down and stares at us with his beautiful big eyes when we sing for him. There's great healing power for hardened adult souls in the sense of feeling so utterly needed. In seeing yourself in someone this magical and perfect.

We share bed all of us, Rowan close next to me. Every night as we go to sleep, I feel immense gratitude for having this beautiful milk monster lying next to me, pushing his tiny little feet against my stomach. The exact same way he did while he was still in my belly, but from the other side this time. I have mostly gotten used to the 2-4 nightly occasions when he wakes up to feed. Managing to fall back asleep relatively easily after feeding him. I've always prioritised 7-8 hours sleep for myself, and I still do. Just that it now takes me around 10-12 hours to get in as many hours. We normally go to sleep at around 11pm, and by 9-10 am, I have hopefully gotten the total desired hours. If I lack hours, I make sure to nap while he is sleeping during the daytime. Often times, all three of us fall asleep together in the middle of the day.

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To get enough sleep is so important in order to function well. Lack of sleep makes you more prone for letting frustration get to you. Tiredness drains you and you automatically become less focused and less intelligent as your body and mind fight to stay awake. It's easier to get into a silly unnecessary argument with your partner if you haven't gotten enough sleep. Reversely, it is much easier to stay clear-headed and calm in stressful moments if you feel rested. Knowing this, it's super important for both of us to make sure that the other gets the hours we need. We both need to feel as strong and awake as we can during this testing period. The most challenging parts are the brief moments when baby cries out for no apparent reason, like newborn babies sometimes do. You know they do it, it's part of the extraordinary huge mental and physical development they are undergoing in this early stage, yet you feel helpless in the moment, and the emotional investment makes you additionally tired. You would take all the pain in the world for him not having to go through it. Have to keep reminding yourself that this too will pass... it's a developmental phase and there's nothing wrong with neither him nor us. In fact, we're all extremely lucky to have each other.

Breast feeding works so well. He literally latched on a few minutes after he fell out of me three weeks ago and has been hooked to my nipples ever since. Loving the connection it creates. And being able to grow and nurture my son through the means of my body, it is quite amazing. He is growing so well. We have got a pump and bottles but I rather be his personal milk cow all hours of the day now at least the first few months. I'm sure time will tell when we're ready to move in to a new phase.

So grateful that both my partner and I are able to stay home to share the work this newborn baby era requires. I often think of all single mothers who raise their kids alone. It's not an easy job, this baby thing. I totally understand my previous self who didn't want to head into this life of less sleep and less time for yourself. I get it even more now than ever, that having babies, may not be for everyone. It requires huge emotional, mental and physical investment.

For me, the time was right only now, it wouldn't have been earlier. It may be that I get forgetful and a bit dazed from not getting as regular sleep as normal. And it may hurt my heart and soul when he cries out for what seems like no specific reason every once in a while. Yet these are all the exact things my life is meant for right now. I have always loved my life, always been grateful for what I have. And it's amazing to see that after all the years, I have yet arrived to this next level, getting a chance to experience what proved to be the greatest meaning of life. The greatest challenge, of course. But to build and devote my life to my own family - that is exactly what I want from this chapter in life.

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The adventures we are going to have together... it feels like life just has started. 

Prams and wraps

Baby prams are great! We had initially thought of only getting around with sling carriers, which are so awesome and as we like having our boy close, so perfect for body contact. But then we got this stroller or pram or whatever they're called from my sisters friend who no longer uses it (thank you!), and it makes moving around so easy, for another sort of purpose. We're having a 5 km walk every day now since a few days back and that is just amazing for a body that's been quite passive during the last few months of pregnancy and obviously the first two weeks of motherhood. Feeling healed and ready to get moving again. So grateful and utterly amazed by the human body, how flexible and adaptable it is. Thank you thank you thank you. Tomorrow it's three weeks ago he arrived.

The roads are quiet around here. Almost no traffic except for the random tractor that passes on their way to other fields.

This was from earlier today as we walked to the store to pick up a box of Naty's organic nappies size 0. Rowan is growing exceptionally, but mainly length wise, so his little bum is still tiny and the reusable ones are still way too large for him.

Probably won't bring the pram with us as we set out to travel in a few weeks though.

This is the sling wrap we use and which will join us around the world. Made by a great little conscious company.

He has grown so much since this photo above was taken, a week ago...

baby rowan

Looking forward to soon bringing this mini person out on a journey. Just have to wait for: A) Fatherhood to be registered by the tax office B) His name and two surnames to be registered by the same place C) And thereafter for his Finnish passport to arrive. He is automatically getting Finnish citizenship as his mother, despite having been born in Sweden.

Our son is around 50% Finn, 25% Brit, 12,5% Scottish 12,5% Togolese/Nigerian and then a bit Irish in there too.

 

Finally here!

It's been a while. Our beautiful son Rowan was born here at home on June 18th, only a few hours after he was due. Perfectly timely. And perfectly perfect in every imaginable way. After a few hours out in the garden and then in the birthing pool, he was finally born in our bedroom, next to our bed. It was the most challenging day. Full of love, pain, laughter and tears, as every birth should be I imagine. Such a grand test for the mind as well. The only pain relief I chose was a glass of prosecco on the 23rd hour, to give me an additional kick of strength to help push him out after a long tiresome day. And of course all the motivating reminders and encouragement by my super supportive partner who was as much part of the labour as I was. I want to share the whole long birth story with photos one day, just a few thoughts in the meanwhile:

This was from the day before due date, the day before it started. I felt strong and good. We were so ready for the adventure that is childbirth. We knew it would be the greatest challenge of our lives, we knew there would be pain. But we were so ready to finally dive into the process that we had envisioned and spoken about for so long.

My wishes for the birth were:

- Birth at home. In the company of my partner, his mother, his brother and our doula. Family style. Being close to people who love and care about your child as much as you do. As opposed to being at risk of being in an environment with people (doctors, nurses) who want to rush you or have you do things for their convenience, for the sake of time, money and space pressure. Not everyone would choose their mother-in-law to be next to you as you give birth. Mine happens to be a really cool one, besides she's given birth many times before, one of which was a home birth (my partner). Neither my mother nor grandmother were alive to attend unfortunately. But I fully believe in the comfort and peace that it gives a woman to be surrounded by only good energies during birth. Surrounded by love and care. And that it is massively beneficial to have other strong, caring women's support on the day where you essentially wish for all your ancient feminine power to come through.

- Get to know the process profoundly. I had so many questions. What does it mean to give birth naturally? I knew that the female body is made for this. But what part would be the most challenging? What revelations would I discover? What sort of power would it bring from deep within me? How would I handle the fears that potentially would pop up? One of the affirmations I wrote down a few weeks before birth was: "I look forward to feeling the process fully" - which is something I momentarily may have regretted asking for, while in the midst of the most intense contractions 22 hours into labour, 2 hours before our son was born. But it did give me the full on experience I now, afterwards, am so grateful to have gotten a proper insight into. Would have never wanted it any other way. There were a couple moments when I shouted: "Why the hell have I put myself through this bizarreness? Never ever again!!"- but interestingly I now am already looking forward to our next birthing experience. Would I give birth at home without pain relief next time as well? Hell yes! This experience only reaffirmed my belief that hospitals only are needed when you are sick. That by learning how to control your mind, you can win over your fears. And that I would never want to give away my own strength and power into other people's hands if I really didn't need to. We women are capable of so much more than often is believed. I have so much to say about this but saving it for another time. Also, I now have more experience, and can imagine the next opportunity to give birth to give me additional meaningful insights. Learning and growing and doing things real and raw are what I live for, after all.

- A sunny day. It's been raining here this summer approx 75% of the days so far. We were so lucky to wake up to clear skies and sunshine on the day that the contractions began for real.

- And please not too much tearing. Feeling incredibly lucky to not have had to stitch anything. Got a couple light tears, but none which needed stitching. I can imagine this to be one of the most common fears women have. For many weeks prior to birth, I had envisioned my vagina to become super big and flexible. It was also one of my affirmations that I read out loud to myself during labour. Perhaps that was helpful. Either way. We came out of it with minimum damage which I am utterly grateful for.

The first half of the 24 hour labour was quite calm, gentle and harmonic. The second half was increasingly intense. The membranes didn't break before the 23rd hour. And the pressure on my bottom parts was obviously deadly painful when that big bulging water balloon pushed with each stronger contraction. When the water finally broke, I got re-energized and our baby boy was born relatively quickly with a few pushes.

But more about all that another day. It's funny, back in the day I used to find it weird that people would share something so intimate and personal as their birthing experience online. Now it feels like the most obvious thing in the world. Especially as an unmedicated home birth ties back to so many of my other holistic world views and my life philosophy as a whole.

He is so perfect. Mesmerizing and beautiful. I can imagine every mother on the planet saying that about their kids. And of course they should. All children should be loved unconditionally.

Our son is as calm yet determined as we had imagined him to be through the mostly quietness, and occasional extremely hard kicks that we felt through my stomach while he was still in there. He stares at us with such depth and wisdom already, and we look so much forward to be able to speaking to him one day. For now we're enjoying all the cuddly hours we get to spend with him in this adorable mini size. Can imagine time to start running really fast if we are not paying attention. Full presence is one of the most important things we are going to give him.

Thank you universe for this gift!

You can follow me on Instagram for more (almost) daily updates.

Healthy version of sausage and mash

If it was 1995, this would probably have been a plate with mash and sausages on top. Probably a good squirt of ketchup on it too. Luckily I'm an adult now and can educate myself and make sustainable and healthy food choices. This is my 2017 version of sausage and mash potatoes:

For 2-3 people

Oven roasted carrots:

5-7 carrots
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme

Clean your carrots and slice them lengthwise in four or six pieces. In an oven pan; pour olive oil, salt and herbs. Add carrot sticks and mix all together with your hands. Making sure to cover all of the carrots with the oily mixture. Put into the oven at 200 C for about 30 minutes. Make the mash in the meanwhile.

Leek and garlic mash:

5-7 potatoes
1 small leek or 1/2 of a large one.
3 garlic cloves
salt & pepper & nutmeg
1 tbsp olive oil
1 dl butter - 1/2 cup
1/2 dl oat milk - 1/4 cup

"I live by the belief that consuming a little dairy sometimes is better than too often. Most days I go without it completely, other days I like splurging by adding organic butter or organic cheese from grass fed cow or goat into meals. This way I appreciate it much more, considering the environmental and animal welfare impact it has to consume them. Both my body and mind feel much better when I'm not overdoing animal products. I almost never buy animal milk and instead opt for a plant milk when milk is needed. Organic cultured yoghurt every once in a while, although better option is to get the much needed probiotics from sauerkraut and other fermented foods. Finding your golden balance to what feels best for you is important. As long as you are aware of what you're doing and what impact it has."
"I never peel my potatoes before cooking them. There is lots of fibre and minerals in the potato peel that is a shame to waste. Just wash them and cut off any bad parts. When using organic or home grown produce, there isn't the same risk of getting chemical contamination, which makes it ok to leave the nutrient rich peel on. Same for carrots."

Clean your potatoes and chop up in small cubes. Put in a pot with water, a teaspoon of salt, and leave to cook on medium heat for approx 15-20 min. I like cooking gently at lower heat rather than high. This keeps more nutrients, and there is also nothing wrong with under-cooking vegetables and keeping them a bit firmer, while this also helps preserve more nutrients in them. While the boiling is happening, turn on a sauté pan on medium heat. Add olive oil and finely chopped leek, the green parts as well as the white. Sauté for a bit, add in chopped garlic. Salt and pepper. Turn down to low heat and cook until soft. Mix often and make sure not to burn the leek or the garlic.

When your potatoes are done, remove water out of the pot. Add in the butter and mash with a hand masher. At least that's what I like using. This way you'll keep a bit of lumps and texture to the mash which is nice I think. Mix in the warm leek and garlic into it as well. A bit of milk. Mix in nutmeg, and more salt and pepper if needed. Leave under lid till your carrots are done.

Caper sauce:

1/2 dl capers - 1/4 cup
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp oat milk or milk of your choice

Use the same pan that you used for the leek and garlic, to not waste any of the good flavours. Medium heat in the pan, add olive oil. Then mayonnaise, some oat milk, and lastly the capers. Mix well. When the carrots are done in the oven, take the herbal oil from the bottom of the pan and pour this into your sauce for even more flavour. Mix again.

Place the mash on the centre of the plates. Pour a bit of sauce around it, and place the oven roasted carrots atop. Sprinkle garden fresh parsley on if you'd like. Serve with a crispy salad.

Eco friendly nappies

Got the organic reusable nappies but no baby yet. Did you know that it takes a regular diaper/nappy about 500 years to break down and fully decompose? And that each child that wears regular disposable diapers, contributes to 1-2 tonnes of waste to landfill over their lifetime.

The plastic, synthetic polymers and chemically treated cotton that the regular disposable nappies are made of aren't only harsh and unnatural on your baby's bum, but they also contaminate our ground water.

I'll tell you again in a few months, but I definitely like being connected with what I use and the waste I create. And being conscious and constantly curious about how we can waste less. We're planning on going with these washable ones for most part, and have eco-friendly and biodegradable disposable ones as option for travel.

These ones come from Popolini, an Austrian brand. Have heard they're real good. Will tell more in a few weeks.