Monday, July 7, 2014

All Gratitude And No Joy

…is about how I summed up my feelings about summer in general and this moment in particular in an email to a faraway friend today.

I'm grateful to be making money, but sick and tired of working every damn and day and how busy the island is. The same gratitude goes for Charlie's business, I glad they're keeping busy, working hard, but very aware that the other side is that I never see him.

I'm also grateful for my family and friends, of community, but sometimes I wish I lived somewhere else all by my lonesome. With so many events and occasions ahead, July is already a month written off in advance, full with no empty spaces available.

(Awesome tote from Epicenter!)

I'm grateful for my garden, and the amazing abundance in which things are growing, but I'm exhausted by the weeding and the hand-watering and the prospect of putting up produce.

(Wonderful amulet gifts from kind and generous strangers ♥)

I'm grateful for my health, but tired of all the effort I need to be putting into keeping my body nourished and well-oiled and stretched and exercised.

I'm grateful for the long days and short nights, but weary of the equally long hours of work, short hours of sleep.

As discussed before knowing something is not the same as feeling it.

When there's no time or space to enjoy the good things in life, I still feel grateful to have them, to be part of them, but I don't feel the joy.

Overall, when I'm tired and weary and over-worked and thin of patience,  I have to remind myself to stop, to relax to watch and listen.

In the summer, my joy sits under the leaves, hidden but fat, like a berry, or a squash, waiting to suddenly get big and be revealed.  It hides in flowers as a neon-yellow bumble bee, and hums outside the windows as a hummingbird.

It appears suddenly at twilight in the warm air not cooling, or a sudden misty rain shower right before it's time to water.

It wanders through the yard as fawns and turkey chicks, as curious chickens testing the fruit trees and their tiny, bitter fruit.

In a room full of people, it suddenly fills everything with the golden late-afternoon light, moving us all away from our schedules and into the present.

It hides somewhere between saying yes, and saying no, often invisible, always hard to find, but appearing frequently enough to assure me that it's still there, waiting patiently for this hectic, expectation-laden season to be over. And for that, I'm grateful.

(The single most joy-making thing in my life right now: 14 wild baby turkeys wandering through our yard!)

How's your summer going? Joyful, I hope?


  1. Definitely know what it's like to work and bike commute and have side projects going on simultaneously. Balance is so tricky! Hope you find a good cup of tea and little stretches of time to nap in the woods.

  2. Dear Milla,
    I am new to your blog so I hope you don't mind my chiming in. That feeling you describe in this season of too much is very familiar to me (although mine always hits in the spring and especially in the fall.) When I get to feeling overwhelmed and worn thin I tell myself to take "little sips": small moments or pleasures that are all there is to be had in the course of an otherwise hectic day. I'm sure you don't need to be told that, I just thought I'd share it.
    Thank you for the lovely photographs. They gave me a few moments of happiness.
    Cheers from New Hampshire,

  3. Oh gosh, I know this mid-summer burnout well. My girlfriends and I were all remarking that something strange must be happening, as we're all experiencing energy-deficiency and weird physical symptoms - and I realized it has to be this peak of summer busy-ness that sort of always sneaks up on me (a side effect of embracing summer's freedom so openly, I think!). Hubs and I realized that all our precious time not spent antsy in our cubicles has been filled to the brim with activities to take advantage of these warm and sunny months, which means little time for recuperation. I have to make an effort during the week not to stretch myself too thin,

    I adore your tote so much!

    Hope you get some much-deserved downtime over the next while!


  4. Rakas Milla. Oikeita ja kauniita sanoja oikeaan ja kauniiseen hetkeen <3
    Jutellaan syksyllä :) Pus

  5. Oh my gosh those baby turkeys! My summer is the same - still struggling for answers re my stomach illness. Hopefully I'll get there soon.

  6. Milla dear, my heart goes out to you, as I know quite well what you are talking about, although so far my own summer is mainly about enjoying the warmth and freedom, seeing some close friends at last, and not being very productive (nor making much money). I am in fact lagging way behind my own creative calendar, which should be undermining the joy, but not yet, I guess ;o)

    I am, furthermore, completely in love with the way you convey your own current mood and life, in a strong and poetic way, both visually and through your writing. In fact I think it's one of the most beautiful I've read from you, and that means a lot.

    Finally, it's hard to say which is most enchanting, the wild baby turkeys or your lovely, flowered, short-dress self.


  7. I adore your pictures and the way you talk, show and write about your own mood and life at the moment. Knowing exactly how you feel leaves me with huge feeling how lucky we are even though our life is out of balance at the moment Somehow our life finds the balance again after a while. Sometimes already after writtien and posting about it. Or maybe because we need vacation :-)
    Milla close your eyes and take a deep breathe, exhale and enjoy what you see when you open your eyes.

  8. So true! Happiness during my working day is an hour alone with books, notebooks and a hot choc or coffee. On the weekends I can do what I want but I long for weeks in the country ... which I do get a few times a year.

  9. these pictures are, well...lovely!

    you're more than welcome to swap lives with me. mine is anything but hectic, i'd call it pretty damn boring right now. on the upside, my complete lack of anything to do has given me some reading time. i'm almost done with the summer book and have thoroughly enjoyed it thus far :)

  10. "All Gratitude & No Joy"--I can't tell you how much your post resonates with me. At my house we call it "the summer noose." You can feel it tighten as yet another weekend in July gets booked up to the brim, until you've choked the life out of a season that should be more full of life than any other. Hold onto the gratitude even if you can't find the joy right now--the worst would be to fall prey to that other lovely summer phenomenon that rears it's head when we are blessed with what feels like too much good stuff: summer guilt!

  11. July is definitely like there here on the mainland (and the peninsula of West Seattle), so at least you're not alone in the constant, almost expected, overextending of attention, energy, and time. The power of 'no' is an epic thing, but of course if your livelihood or the livelihood of dependent animal and people is entirely dependent upon 'yes' it's hard not to resent that lack of freedom to find joy. It sounds like sleep is the first thing. Good sleep, and the chance to recharge your creativity.

    And less weeding. Always.

  12. I'm happy to see you took the time to take these lovely photos, Milla. It's a pleasure on its own, I think, you were enjoying the beauty of everything you captured, while framing and zooming your lens. You two work so hard, that's very admirable. Too bad you don't always get the rest/space to enjoy it in return.
    I fear weekends filled with social obligations and another made up excuse that I already have plans when I actually have not, but just want to have the feeling that I'm free and can enjoy my very little free time:-/
    Your title is really applicable. And by the way, that outfit looks great on you!

  13. You need to holiday from Summer my petal. To be grateful for a life that you are not feeling joy things need to change, or is this a phase of life that transitions with the season? I get a sense of angst in this post, but also knowledge of all that is great in your life. And yes, I love your outfit. :) perfect pastels.
    Steve is an environmental planning manager by the's kind of like planning our living environments (cities, rural, parks, reserves, utilities) for the present and future; trying to combine ecological, social, economical and growth needs into the best outcome for all of those aspects. It took me about 10 years to understand all of that, when I first met him I thought he worked for Greenpeace. I may have been drunk though. love you. x

  14. Vaikka kuulostaisi kuinka kliseeltä; veit sanat suustani.

    Kaupalla on turistikausi. Norjalaiset, japanilaiset, amerikkalaiset... tulevat ovesta sisään hämmentynyt ilme kasvoillaan. "Anteeksi, missähän on se jännittävä kaupunginosa nimeltä Kaliio? Se missä on niitä trendikkäitä kahviloita, designia, liikkeitä...tapahtumia, ihmisiä?"

    No tuota.. Kun te olette nyt Kalliossa.. mutta Helsinki on kyllä aika hiljainen kaupunki, että juu, on täällä kivoja putiikkeja, mutta on ne vähän liioiteltuja ne lehtijutut ehkä kuitenkin.. (ne joiden varjolla voi sitten nostaa vuokrat taivaisiin..).

    Kun tämä on tavallinen kaupunginosa, jossa mä asun. Jossa käydään kaupassa, pestään pyykkiä, eletään arkea.

    Menisitte kotiin.

    No, enhän mä tietenkään noin sano. Vaan piirrän kärsivällisesti karttoja kuittien taakse, merkkailen rukseja turistikarttoihin; tuolla kannattaa käydä, tuo on mukava kauppa, tuolla on Hakaniemen halli josta kysyitte..hymyilen hymyilemästä päästyäni.

    Illalla menen ruokakaupan kautta kotiin, potkaisen kengät jalasta, nostan kissan syliin, linnottaudun nojatuoliin. Ulla Lena Lundbergin Jää oli paksu kirja, muttei tarpeeksi paksu jotta olisin saanut kadota sotien jäljkeiseen tuuliseen saaristoon, aina armolliseen syksyn tuloon saakka.



  15. Ainiin, ja sain aikaiseksi ryhtyä pikkuisen kirjoittelemaan minäkin. Ja huomaan kuinka valokuvaaminen onkaan kivaa, tosin pitää vielä sitä opetella..

  16. Oh girl, don't I know what you mean! I feel that way quite often, grateful but no joy. You had some great metaphors in this post that I will use next time I need to explain how it feels (or doesn't feel). My reasons are a little lengthy to discuss here, but it's a hard one, that state. Almost as if all the things you are grateful for only make the lack of joy more painful, like you should enjoy those things you're grateful for. I'm sorry to hear summer is such a busy and unjoyful time for you. It's not my favorite time of year either, it always feels so restless and a bit empty. I'm still trying to put that feeling into words. For now, much love!