Have you ever thought of how fragile, yet strong flowers are? Waking up with first beams of sun, cautiously spreading their petals with trust for merciful nature, yet enduring rains and draughts, strong winds, hails or even snow? And still blooming? Year after year.
That's the first thought coming to us after reading Niina's (Lillalivetandme on IG) interview for Son de Flor. It's quite a long read, though absolutely worth it. Check her account first. Feel all the beautiful flowers and little captured moments. And then meet the author of all those things beautiful.
Who is Niina behind the Lillalivetandme? Why Lillalivetandme? How did you appear on IG?
I am 39 years old and living with my husband Daniel, our two kids Joonas and Eliisa in a little village in the north of Germany. We also have some furry familymembers, two cats called Pelle and Linus. We love them a lot and can't imagine a life without them.
We live in the countryside and really enjoy the slower more calming life it brings as opposed to city living. The daily rush of city streets is not for me.
Our little house has a garden where I grow flowers like roses and lilacs. But most of all I love our house tree we planted in our first year. It's a mulberry tree with big leaves in summer and lots of good tasting berries. Every morning we pick the ripe ones from the ground.
It's wonderful how tall it has grown already! When I am laying on my bed I can see it through my bedroom window in the upper floor. In summer it provides us a nice shadowplace from the sun. I hope to place a bench under it one day, that would be so lovely.
I appeared on IG when my little daughter was just born. It was a way to keep in touch with my friends and family. The account was a private first and had another name. It was "me.niina". But most of the pictures where from my life with her and less about me.
When I started my blog I changed my ig name to match it and made my profile public.
"Lilla livet" is swedish and means little life. So "Lillalivetandme" is about "The little life and me" :) I don't classify myself much as a writer, finding the right words is often so hard. After a year and half I stopped blogging, it was a useful exercise as it allowed me to document my feelings from the heart but in the end it wasn't for me.
When my followers' number started to grow I felt uncomfortable and had difficulties with posting pictures of my daughter. Creating personal content regarding the numbers of strangers felt strange too. At that time my husband and me also talked a lot of the misuse of pictures and I decided to reduce posting about my daughter. I also deleted many pictures with her and other private content. But the first image though is still there and it means a lot to me.
Of course I could have just switched back to private, but I believe we miss chances to meet other creative or like-minded people if we do so.
I would say the change from daily captures to floral, creative ones wasn't that difficult. I think the pictures have always reflected myself but of course I am inspired and influenced by the work of my ig friends. Being a part of the community definitely plays a part in developing my style. There is so much inspiration and it teases out new sides of me.
When I look back at my pictures it looks like I loved the play between light and shadow most. But I am curious how my photography will change in the future, because I am capturing more led by feelings than intentional. I like to change edits like the seasons provides different nature and light and colors.
Where does your daily inspiration come from?
My daily inspiration comes from different little things in life. From moments like a ray of light shining on a certain place in my home. Or the season of course. It is quite obvious I have this thing with flowers.
I must confess being on IG has opened my eyes. There are plenty of things I haven't noticed before IG. I think through the daily inspiration my world has become more colorful. It is funny how blind I walked through the world before.
How did you find out about Son de Flor?
My sister is going to marry this summer. It will be a very natural and kind of country wedding on an Estonian island in the Baltic Sea. When my sister told me about some details of the wedding plans, a picture started to grow in my mind. Eliisa will be one of the flower girls and I wanted a linen dress for my daughter.
I remembered I saw linen clothes somewhere on IG. I found your account and one certain picture of two girls with long hair in beautiful dresses on your feed. When I saw it, I knew I had found that one dress. I couldn't do anything else but leave a comment under the picture because I immediately fell in love with that dress. And so it all started!
Do you have a favorite flower? Season of the year? Song? Book? Sentence? :)
I really can't say I have a favorite flower. There are so many floral beauties in the world. I would say it also depends on the colors which I like.
I love the ones you find on a field or on the sideways. Some may say that some of these aren't even flowers, but I think it doesn't matter as long they have petals. But yes, I must admit, I like roses very much. And any other plant that has little blossoms like baby's breath or lilacs or spiraea. My weddingbouqet was made of forget-me-not and lilly of The Valley by the way which grew at that time in April when we married.
Maybe due to the fact I was born on the Easter Monday in March I feel like spring is my favourite season. The beginning of new life around me gives me so much joy and is such an energy booster. I love how the flowers and leaves grow out of the brown and grey and how the birds sing their lovesongs for each other.
I admire a lot of songs but don't really have a favourite. There are just too many wonderful compositions. My father was a dj when he was young and music was his first love. I grew up with a lot of music playing in the house. So music is definitely important to me and has its part in my daily life. I have a crush on the music of the 50's and 60's and the singer-songwriter of our age and always carry my earphones with me.
I feel a bit odd saying that there isn't a favourite book of mine. I never read horror or crime books, because they scare me and leave me bad feelings. I like to dream away in a positive way. The last book I red was "The light between oceans" by M.L. Stedman. And though it is such a tragic and emotional story I think it's amongst my favourites now.
Oh yes, I have a sentence! It's more a saying of me and my husband. We had several situations in our lives when we just had to admit to these moments "Who knows for what it is worth?”. And from my experience I can say, that most things in life have their meaning and you mostly get aware of them later.
Do you have a little secret that might surprise even your best friend?
Of course I have some secrets, I am quite open and honest. It's rather difficult for me to have my secrets. But for sure I do have some. Maybe this? I still have a soft toy in my bed. It's a violet and black striped pig from Marimekko. I take it everywhere because I just can't sleep without it! :))
Is there anyone in the world who's shoes you'd like to walk in for a day? Why?
I think that's easy for me to answer. I would like to walk in the shoes of my grandfather! In the 50's and 60's he had a flower shop in Helsinki and I would love to know if my love for flowers is inherited. I like to say that my dream is to work in a flower shop instead of working for an insurance.
And then I would love to walk in the shoes of my daughter. As an adult with some life experiences I would be so happy to be able to see all the first miracles again, that probably only children see. Her joy about little things and the worlds wonders sparkling in her eyes make my heart wishful tingling.
Is there a lesson you’ve learnt and living by at the moment?
This question is definitely something I have gave some thought to. I have experienced events in my life, that I have learnt valuable lessons from. To try to live each day fully and care less about daily madness. However it's often difficult to remember this and live by it daily.
The first event was when my son was eight months and my doctor assumed I had cancer. While I was waiting in hospital for the results I watched the women in my room. One had a chemo, the other got her head shaved completely and the third woman was smoking on the balcony. All I could think was "I just had a boy!"
But in the end it wasn't cancer. It was a rare autoimmune illness probably caused by giving birth and the treat went successful.
Afterwards I heard people saying that I was lucky. I should enjoy my life! Being happy would be all what matters. But daily life catched me so fast I didn't even realize it. Life just went on. As easy as that and with the blink of an eye I was back to normal.
The second time was some years ago when I had a stroke. This time it shook my world much more. They told me again I was lucky, because my brainstem was affected and it could have turned out badly.
For me it did though. Because I fell into heavy depressions with panic attacks. I felt like a stranger in my own skin, alone with my feelings and thoughts.
That time it wasn't only me who suffered from the stroke but my whole family. I was drowning in a dark sea of sorrow and pain and no one could reach out to me.
I was at a point I was loosing the true me. I took action and went to rehab for a period of time. Surrounded by others also experiencing difficult life situations I felt understood as a member of this society. This time away although very difficult gave me the breakthrough I needed I started to think about the future again. I knew it was on me, only me could make the changes I wanted to get healthy again and get my life. But most of all I didn't want to loose my family.
With the love of my family and therapies I could recover from most of the damages. And after two years I was back at work.
You know, the stroke thing really was a hard time. And it changed everything. But I truly believe that nothing happens for no reason. And I was just two month fully back to work when I got pregnant. I believe children choose us and the time when they come to us. So I am sure Eliisa wouldn't have come to us, if the stroke wouldn't have happened.
I think tere are many lessons life tries to teach us everyday. Not only through big events. From my experience I can say these things I truly believe in:
Don't look out only for the big luck! You will miss all the little miracles in daily life.
It's your life. Your story to tell. You have the choice. It's only upon you to find the right way to your happiness.
Have faith in the power of love.
I know daily life makes it difficult to live mindfully. And there are good, better and worse days. But it's this one life we have. So let's try to enjoy it to the fullest. With all it's flowers, either tiny or big ones.
Live in the now and only little in the past or future.
What little act of kindness would you appreciate done to you today?
A little act of kindness is so easily done! I like when friends bring me stones from where they were. I collect them in a big glass vase. Or you could send me a postcard. A real snail-mail would brighten up my day. Another lovely surprise would be if you just visit me and say hello! We would have a coffee or tea and I am sure I would find some cookies in my cupboard too. We could go out for a walk after and if there would be a flock of geese flying right above our heads I would be so very happy.
What are you looking forward to most in the coming days/weeks/months?
This is easy to answer! I am looking forward to July. Not only because of my sisters wedding in Estonia. Also because of the holidays we have planned afterwards. We already rent a summer house on the Åland Islands. My roots are there and I am looking forward to spend slow days in the woods picking blueberries and mushrooms, going fishing with the boat or just having a good sauna. We want to visit Tallinn, Stockholm and Kopenhagen with our children this time. I hope it's going to be a wonderful and unforgettable summer.
Anything else you’d like to share we haven’t asked?
How about a little moment when I wore my dress from you for the first time? There was a little paper roll with a poem from Erin Hanson in the pocket..
It was such a surprising moment to me. I felt the words like they were my thoughts. They reflect a big part of my own feelings I have been dealing with the last years and wasn't able to express. I started to look out for Erin and bought her books. I would say I fell in love with her poetry..
Dear Niina, thank you so much for being so sincere and open here today with us. You have a magic gift of story telling and we would love to read your blog one day again! Most of luck with your garden and flowers and keep enchanting us with the fragile blooming photography as you did up till today.. It 's wonderful getting to know you better and all, who still haven't, meet the Little (big) Live of beautiful Niina right here.