I love staying at our cabin at Bjørnfjell in Northern Norway. It is a beautiful place near Swedish border with a very special landscape of large stone hills. The vegetation is limited to short trees, mousse and different kinds of mountain herbs and berries. Summers are really nice up here, with light days and nights, so it‘s not at all scary to be here alone. Staying alone for some time can be very revitalising, specially when you feel for some extra space or time to reflect and reconnect.
I decided to spend a week here and leave the Internet univers behind me for a while in order to explore other exciting universes. In this post I want to share how it went and what I experienced during my one week cabin stay.
I love to gradually move into the small everyday routines of the cabin life. It happens naturally. Mornings usually start with walking out barefoot, finding a lake or a spring, while brushing the teeth. Breathing in the sharp mountain air and diving in the cold lake must be one of the best things in world! If it‘s not super cold and tons of mosquitos I go for some outside yoga movements and deep breaths to feel into the body and make my spine happy. Next rituals are setting the fire in the oven and enjoying a big cup of something warm, usually mint tea or dark dripped coffee. My total favourite is the Swedish organic dark roasted. I like to stare into the fire and soak in the heat. Sometimes I read a little until I get hungry which does not take too long.:) Breakfast is usually a bowl of oat yogurt, granola, dried plums, tahini, nuts, cinnamon and apple or banana. Other times roasted rye bread with coconut oil, cinnamon and honey which tastes almost like cinnamon snails!
2. The beauty of not checking.
Check, check, check, check, check. It looks like we are checking all the time. Checking emails, Instagram or Facebook, checking the time, or just checking for the checking‘s sake. The more we check the more we have to check. We‘re trapped!:) I have to say that checking totally distracts me from whatever I am up to. Plus, it feels dull. This phenomena simply disappeared up in the mountains since there was no wifi there and I din‘t care about the time so much neither. The result was that I felt more calm and focused on what I was doing. I also got better at what I was doing. Multitasking is messing up with the brain, that is a fact, but still, it‘s somehow difficult to avoid it. Maybe trying a one day not checking experiment is a good idea?
3. Silence creates a sacred space.
I am a great fun of silence. I can be silent for a long time and really enjoy it. Feeling into the silence, noticing all the nature sounds outside, listening to the cracking wood in the fire place. It feels almost like silence opens a mysterious door into presence. Suddenly, you have a chance to hear yourself, hear your breathe and notice your feelings. Exciting! On the other hand, I also enjoy listening to the radio or putting on some music. I dream of having a vinyl player at the cabin and listening to classical music while there is a snowstorm outside!
Cabin stay is a also great opportunity to read. I like to read different things from random magazine articles to books which I have always wanted to read. One of them was Dalai Lama. I really enjoyed getting to know this great personage better and learn about his loving way of thinking. Here is one of his great statements which I think can be used by everyone, in any challenging situation: The strongest weapons are love, compassion and courage.
4. The creativity boost.
A total creativity boom always happens to me during the cabin time. New ideas flowing in, things becoming easier and turning out well. New recipes popping up in my head, the feeling like I could draw everything in the world, not ever wanting to stop. Sleeping feels boring, while the thought of a new day feels exciting and joyful. Things are fun. I believe that creativity is our natural state. Once we feel like it is gone, we need to adjust something in our life to let it flow again freely.
5. Amazing food.
I really enjoy discovering new exciting tastes and ingredients, as well as creating new recipes. At the cabin I often lack some ingredients so I just have to improvise and this is how new recipes are born. Cashew milk pancakes with berries, spicy soups with wild greens, veggie burgers with too much chili dressing, nettle omelett and of course different chocolate treats like vegan Snickers and chocolate spaghetti. (Find the recipes below.) Sometimes I like to imagine a scenario where the only food left at the cottage is rice and olive oil, the weather is too bad to go out and the shop is closed anyway. So I have to eat only rice and oil for the entire week. This idea really makes me excited and curious. I might try it out one day.:)
6. Shopping adventure.
When I want to buy something I walk to ICA – a small supermarket in Sweden. It‘s a nice 40 minute walk in a vast landscape, passing other cabins, lakes and small hills. It is such a rewarding feeling to finally reach ICA and buy stuff. Sweden is very good at organic produce, so pretty much everything I buy is organic which I am super happy for. It‘s funny how you appreciate all you bought even more after you had walked long and carried everything on your back.:)
7. Moving is a mood changer.
It always feels amazing to move. Walking, hiking, running, yoga, dance, any movement. It does something magic to you. Great things start to happen in the body, the energy flows freely, more oxygen gets in, the good hormones are released in the blood stream and the result is feeling great. Realising that, any time I feel unfocused, tired, uninspired, stressed or in any other way disconnected, I get up and move! At the cabin I love doing yoga often during the day, everything from 5 to 50 minutes. I am always impressed by the clarity which comes afterwards. Again and again.
The landscape at Bjørnfjell invites to hike. It‘s so beautiful and never ending. You can walk long time without meeting a person, drink water from the springs and just soak all the nature beauty in. I like how the body naturally starts to breathe deeply when walking up the hills. It feels cleansing and energising.
8. Doing what we love? When? Why? Who decides it anyway?
One of the absolute greatest things about the cabin life is that you have time and space to do what truly makes you happy. For me it is drawing, cooking, hiking and yoga. I believe that it is crucial to find time for these passions since they nourish something important in us, which can lead to some great things. Moreover, it creates a very nice inner feeling which you radiate all around toward the others. Let‘s never trade our playfulness, excitement and passions for the heavy, super serious and very important real life, as society rules require it. I don‘t mean being ignorant and selfish, I mean taking care of our creative and playful self which wants to be noticed, kept alive and nourished. If you had 4 hours only for yourself how would you spend them? What is the biggest thing you want to do but have no time for? Can you do just a bit of it?
9. The impossibility of getting bored.
There is always something to do at the cabin. Fetching water from the lake, washing the dishes, swiping the floor, making fire, cooking, hiking, drawing, or just watching the always changing sky, experiencing the presence. In fact, I think that it‘s impossible to get bored here or anywhere else, because life is just way too exciting! There‘s something happening now right where you are, just noticing the moment, the sounds, the views, your feelings, your heart beat. You being alive, a part of the reality which you created. How are you feeling? How do you want to feel? How do you want to make others feel?
10. The luxury is relative.
What does living a luxurious life mean at all? One of the definitions of the word luxury is: a state of great comfort or elegance, especially when involving great expense. or a pleasure obtained only rarely. The synonyms are: joy, delight, bliss, blessing, benefit, advantage. Now, for me luxury can be waking up at a simple mountain cabin, enjoying a big cup of fair trade coffee by the fire place. Bathing naked in a pure mountain lake after a hike in a beautiful landscape. Putting a handful of coconut oil into my hair and massaging my head long time while listening to an audiobook. If I was to create a personal definition of the word luxury it might go like this: a state of great inner comfort, joy and elegance, while involving creativity, ease and common sense. a pleasure which can be definitely obtained more then rarely. How can you create a bit of luxury in every day life?
11. The feeling of being at home.
Creating the feeling of being at home can be such a powerful and satisfying process. Looking at the place and discovering its potential. Sometimes just small things are enough. At the cabin, I started by cleaning the place, washing the floor, opening the windows and removing couple of things to create more space. Then I made a fire in the oven, cooked a cup of tea and rolled out my yoga mat on the floor. For 15 minutes I let my body navigate my movements and breathing and created some space in myself. I felt at home both in my body, at the cabin and on this planet.:)
12. The small big things.
I loved staying at Bjørnfjell and I want to come back soon! Coming closer to nature and to ourselves feels always very good and leads to moments of clarity and new ideas.
Now, why don‘t we make some Snickers bars?
for the crust: 2 Tbsp buckwheat flour, 2 Tbs peanut butter, 2 tsp agave, pinch of salt
for the caramel: 6 dates, 4 Tbsp water, good pinch of salt, 2 tsp lemon juice
for the chocolate cover: melt 40 g dark chocolate of your choice together with 1 tsp coconut oil
1 cup salted roasted peanuts
To make the caramel, blend the dates with water, salt and lemon juice until smooth and spread it over the crust. If you soak the dates in advance, it will be easier to work with. Finally, cover with chopped peanuts and cut into bar shaped pieces.
In a bowl melt the chocolate together with coconut oil and start to cover the bars with chocolate. This is fun. The best way to do it is to place the bar on a knife and pour the chocolate over, letting the rest of chocolate drop back down into the bowl with chocolate. Set aside on and let it cool down until the chocolate becomes solid. Enjoy!!:)
for the sauce: 1 tsp Tamari or soy sauce, 1 tsp apple vinegar, 3 Tbsp honey or agave, 4-5 Tbsp coconut cream, 4 Tbsp cacao powder, pinch of vanilla, 1 shake of Tabasco-optional but amazing!
freshly cooked spaghetti
grated dark chocolate for the topping