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Spring – Portrait 8/52

It’s that time of the year again. You know, the time of no mercy. Everything is uncovered. Naked. Not beautified by the soft white snow anymore and not in bloom yet. Just uncovered. Being true and a little bit ugly. Very vulnerable, staring at you asking “do you still love me?”. I look like this, I’m not always pretty, so do you still love me? Grass is brown and doesn’t even look like grass, graced only by the random pieces of rubbish. Sharp sun rays shine through the windows and reveal the dust and finger/ nose-prints. Do you still love me? I’m your life, I’m naked. Do you love me?

Yes we do, life. We love you. More than ever. Seeing you like this, a bit dirty and a bit worn out makes us want to hug you.

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A week of goodness

I really enjoy curating these posts, hope you like them too!

First off, how to answer when someone asks “what do you do” and you are self-employed. From now on I will say that I photograph awesome families. End of story. No more talking about “small business”.

This video of a black hole in action just flipped my brain upside down. And you know, we are MADE of this stuff?

The oldest living things in the world. I want this book! For nearly a decade, photographer Rachel Sussman has been traveling the globe in search of the world’s oldest living things. From the Mojave Desert to the Australian Outback to Greenland’s icy expanses… Capturing portraits of life forms so relentless they’ve managed to survive eons of planetary change. It’s not just a visual feast… it’s also a powerful reminder of what the future might leave behind.

On making time. I love how David duChemin writes that time is not found, it is made. “You put the big rocks in first. If you don’t put the big rocks in first, the pebbles and the sand – the small inevitable stuff that might seem so urgent but isn’t ultimately important – will fill your life leaving no room (again!) for the big project, the trip to Africa, the book you wanted to write this year. “I just never found the time!” Of course you didn’t, because you never made it.”

Journaling prompts from Natalie Norton. Love this. I scribbled down some to start with in my pretty red journal.

Making friends in adult life. Now, I’m very grateful for social media and internet, but I have to admit it’s so easy to hide behind them. And for a while I’ve had this nagging feeling inside that I should make more connections in my immediate neighborhood, so this resonated very deeply with me.

The most important thing for this week was nailing down our family motto. Feed the white wolf, hug the black wolf. I’m really excited about it. What happened yesterday morning: we were getting ready to go out and it was slow and annoying and I started to raise my voice. Ingrid looked me straight in the eye and said: Mom, I think it’s time to hug the black wolf. So I did. That was SO powerful.

Happy weekend!

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Breastfeeding, naturally

Bella is 16 months old. Her favorite word is “vauva” (baby), but the first word she ever said was “tissi” (boob). Sanna knew she will breastfeed Bella from the beginning and sure enough, it came naturally from the very first moment. It’s a very easy flow relationship. No set times, no timers, no counting and no worrying. It’s the way to fall asleep, to calm down, relax, to charge batteries. A Swiss Army knife of mothering.

This session is a part of my personal photography project “Milk for Toddlers”.

Are you breastfeeding a toddler/ preschooler? Tandem breastfeeding?

I would love you to be a part of this project!

I am making a collection of breastfeeding images which I hope will help normalize breastfeeding children beyond the first year.

Things to consider:

You will need to live in or around Helsinki, or Lahti, Finland. (But please contact if you live near Wroclaw, Poland, I will be probably visiting this year and might be able to schedule a session or two).

The complete project will be made public on the internet and potentially in other mediums. So this means you will need to sign a model release stating you are OK with this. Mothers who take part in the project will receive a photograph of their nursing relationship.

If you are not a nursing mother but know someone who is –  please pass this on!

If you would like to take part please contact me at karolina@halituli. com with the subject title Milk for Toddlers.

Thank you!

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Feed the white wolf, hug the black wolf

For the last week or so we’ve been working on our family mission statement. Yeah, there. Go and laugh :D Sounds awfully corporate and blah-blah, eh? I know. I will write more about the process in the near future, as it has been fascinating and eye-opening for all of us. On top of having the mission/ purpose statement I wanted to have an overarching motto, something that we can easily refer to in difficult moments. And it just jumped at me this Sunday when one of my friends shared an article from a Polish magazine. It re-tells the old Cherokee legend of two wolfs.

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life:

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.”It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

I got excited and told this story to Hannu and Ingrid (Alvar didn’t seem to care, busy demolishing my bookshelf). Hannu liked it, but Ingrid immediately asked what happens to the black wolf. Caught me off guard, of course. Kids are gifted like that. I was a bit like “hmmm…. ummm…. I don’t know… He starves?”. Sad face. I tried to cheer her up: come on, it’s a good story! And he is not like a real, REAL wolf? Metaphor (uhm, good luck explaining that to a four year old)? Nope, no dice. It’s wrong. We cannot starve the poor black wolf! He needs food and hugs, no matter how nasty he appears to be. Oh. Bummer. There went my perfect motto. But after she said it like that it started to be that proverbial stone in the shoe and the story didn’t sit right with me anymore. Also, I don’t believe suppressing negative feelings helps in the long run. So we left it there.

I woke up the next morning and Ingrid’s words came back to me. The black wolf needs food and hugs. Of course he does! It works on so many levels. We need to feed the white wolf, so that he becomes strong. And we need to hug the black wolf so that he is not constantly hiding around every corner waiting for us to become distracted or weak and jump to get the attention he is looking for. Feed the white wolf, hug the black wolf.

Feeding the white wolf means actively bringing the good stuff into our lives. First and foremost taking care of our bodies. Sleeping a good night’s sleep. Eating good, nutritious, home-made food. Exercising daily. Getting out of the house for the sheer purpose of breathing fresh air and feeling it on our cheeks. And breathing it deeply. Inhale. Exhale. It means surrounding ourselves with people who care about us and love us.  It means expressing gratitude for people in our life, for the simple joys and pleasures. It means exercising our minds- reading good books, learning new things, seeing new places. It means accepting who we are and accepting that we are enough. It means dreaming and making these dreams come true. It means following our distinctive voice and sharing it. It means helping others. It means staying in the present, looking for beauty, light and wonder in our lives. Actively looking, eyes, ears and minds open.

Hugging the black wolf is not easy, for he is a tricky beast. He will be angry and will not want to be hugged, kissed and embraced. He will try to slip away. But we must try. When we feel the anger, envy, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority rising- we acknowledge it. Let it wash over. Find the center of that feeling, find the reason. Stand still, let the black wolf jump. Then slowly embrace him. He will struggle and will tell you are an idiot and wriggle away. Do not give up. Fight back with kindness. He will eventually cuddle in my lap and we can cry together. It will become easier to hug him as we go on about our life and complain less (not at all?). When we stop comparing, because comparison is the death of joy. When we don’t engage with people who bring us down. When we don’t gossip. When we hug out instead of lashing out to child experiencing melt-down.

And I think then both wolfs can leave in peace in harmony. Fed and hugged.

Gosh, my kid is smart. Love you honey :)

^ the b&w is from my Instagram feed. You can follow me here: karba

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A week of goodness » halituli - […] most important thing for this week was nailing down our family motto. Feed the white wolf, hug the black wolf. I’m really excited about it. What happened yesterday morning: we were getting ready to go out […]

Portrait 7/52: One

My little baby boy turns one today. At 21:30 to be precise. Happy birthday my sweetie pie :)

The year of 2013 started with waiting. Weeks and weeks of waiting. My mind was all made up that Alvar will be born in February . The due date was 23.3, but my reasoning was that Ingrid was born 4 weeks before her due date, so I was sure, 120% sure that this little one will be born even earlier. But he took his time. And we waited. And waited. And waited. I think this was the longest winter in my life. I remember thinking of calling all my past doula clients who went over the due date and were getting antsy and apologizing if I ever said “just be patient” or some other such rubbish. These last weeks were truly a torture- hypertension, a lot of extra weight (really, A LOT), constant check ups and, most annoyingly, very frequent contractions. I lost count of how many times I got up at night, woke up my husband and almost went to the hospital. Not fun. My mom flew over from Poland- it was great to have moral support and just knowing that she will take good care of Ingrid (and the dog) when we leave to the hospital. We thought she will stay a few days, ended up being over three weeks. The lazy Sunday morning started with kids ringing the doorbell in search for candy- the wonderful and quirky virvonta tradition of Palm Sunday in Finland. Then around 10am I felt tired and went to bed. Woke up to some contractions, but decided to absolutely disregard them as it happened so many times and I didn’t want to ring yet another false alarm. But they continued. At some point my husband said “you know, they are pretty regular and long now”. So I called my doula and the hospital and they both said it would be a good idea to come over. I thought they were all crazy, but decided to pack and go.  And so he arrived indeed. After six hours of fairly intense, but in some ways easy labor (the “easy” was being supported by my wonderful team of hubs and Anu) and a messed up birth (messed up by the doctor of the butcher variety) he arrived. It shook my world and turned it upside down. It left me shattered. Quite a few unnecessary medical procedures were used during the pushing stage and after all that I felt that my body failed me, again. It took months, very long months to recover physically.

But bigger than that was the shock of being a mother of two. I don’t think anything prepares you for that- for the positives and the negatives. First off, it’s amazing to realize that it is in fact possible to love two people so fiercely. And so differently. When I think about my children I can literally feel it differently in my heart. Alvar’s love is creamy, flowy and ticklish. Ingrid’s love is sweet, with rounded but firm corners, a bit like candy maybe.

It’s so surprising to realize my children are two different people. I mean, of course I know it on a conscious level that they are different, but I still kind of expected the same things to happen. So it came as a surprise that he likes his pram, hard-boiled eggs and bread, and that is not diggin’ the day nap routine.

His smile is like sunshine. It’s completely contagious, he smiles and I cannot help but smile back even if I’m having a bad day.

Alvar, my sweetest. Please keep smiling and being the bubbly you. You are curious. Brave. Gentle and loving. Soft. Squishy. Stubborn.

Love you so much.

Disclaimer: it was *extremely* difficult to select photos for this post. So it’s fairly random and haphazard collection of my favorites.

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Brooke - Beautiful tribute to a beautiful boy! I enjoyed this series of images so much.