Blog : Words

A letter to Ideas Island

Ideas Island is a project by Fredrik Härén, an international speaker on business creativity and author of The Idea Book. He owns three islands (two in Sweden and one in the Philippines) and rents them out for free to creatives to help them in developing their ideas. Last week, I got to stay at Ideas Island #2 Vifärnaholme in Stockholm. This is a letter of thanks to the island, for inspiring me during my stay.

Angel Ideas Island

Dear Ideas Island,

I miss you already. I dream about you since the last time we saw each other: the moment I first saw you, shining in the distance. Waking up to peaceful mornings, the sun shining on my face (“I woke up in paradise,” I thought to myself.) The ever-present birds keeping me and my boyfriend M company. The lake, the trees, the bluest sky.

It was like a dream, but it wasn’t, and for that I am grateful. There are indeed places on earth that feel like heaven, and they truly exist. During my stay, time and space didn’t seem to exist, what only mattered was the here and now. My worries weren’t present (maybe I should try to live more like how I did on the island..) For the week that I was there, the purest of thoughts came to me and I just simply felt alive.

Time flies when you’re at the island. I first thought that I would be bored, but there was no single idle moment. I was either thinking of my project, writing an article, cooking a slow meal, having extended fika breaks, or trying to sneak up on the baby seagulls. And everything was enjoyable, even washing the dishes (with a view of a luscious lake, and the sun reflecting thousand of tiny diamonds on the water!)

While on the island, I read an article on on why quiet time is essential to a full life and a quote by Cheryl Strayed struck to me:

“The useless days will add up to something [because] these things are your becoming.”

I liked the idea of “becoming”. What a beautiful word it is in itself, too (Becoming: gerund or present participle “become”, grow to be, develop into; adjective, looking good on someone, attractive, flattering) I like that some things take time and during that time, we learn, we grow, we develop, we shape ourselves and we become, even without being aware of it. I remember thinking of a similar thought a few winters ago: looms are always spinning. Things are happening in parallel to what we are experiencing personally, things always change (and that is good!) Don’t despair when things are not going your way, for you don’t know the whole picture and many things are already happening that will lead to a new situation.

I thought of the creative process and how truly difficult it is. I thought of all the doubts, the second-guessing and the countless hours of writer’s block: which often lead me to think that I am “not being creative” or “not doing enough”. When in truth, it is part of the process and without it, we are not really being creative. In line with this, I should also let go of being a perfectionist.. I need to learn to be gentle to myself.

I am grateful that I am still on the path that I want to be in. A few years ago I had a plan and a picture of who I want to be, professionally and as a person. It wasn’t an easy road, but I stuck to it and now I am becoming that image: I live in Europe (I even have lived in my dream country, Sweden) and I am working in the fields I am most passionate for: the arts, culture, writing, nation branding and promoting Scandinavia and Holland. Somehow I found a way to shape the things I love into a career.

I am also glad that my professional and personal life are not two completely separate entities. I hope I will continue to be close to my passions, and that opportunities will open up so that I can live as close as I can get to my true, authentic self. The one I am happiest and at peace living with. 🙂

Becoming, idyllic, dreamy. That’s the best I can describe the time I was there, and at the same time that is what you are, Ideas Island! May you continue to inspire many others to breathe in ideas, create things for the good, and live out their dreams.

With love,

Send my love to the three baby seagulls!


Just live

It’s what she wants, first of all, and the people she admires — Tilda Swinton, say, or Kanye West — don’t define themselves only by the role that first earned them an audience. One point of guidance came from high school philosophy class. She can’t remember who said it, but it was something along the lines that you shouldn’t decide on your identity; that you should just live and your identity comes later.

– Tavi Gevinson from Tavi Forever

Change to stay the same


Change was another word he used often. He said, “you have to change to stay the same” and it was the way he described the challenge of keeping the life in his art. But change requires work and a lot of risk-taking. To do it continually through a whole long career and at such a late age reflects a tremendous level of energy and endurance.” – MoMa on Willem de Kooning.

In the Mood for Love

In the Mood for Love

He remembers those vanished years. As though looking through a dusty window pane, the past is something he could see, but not touch. And everything he sees is blurred and indistinct.

In the Mood for Love, Wong Kar-Wai, 2000.

The sublime

“In aesthetics, the sublime (from the Latin sublīmis) is the quality of greatness, whether physical, moral, intellectual, metaphysical, aesthetic, spiritual or artistic. The term especially refers to a greatness beyond all possibility of calculation, measurement or imitation.”


by April Capili

Where is that? What is that?
Is that the house you grew up in
Ever lost, demolished, or occupied by others?
Is it the shifting company of friends
You lost in the name of self-discovery?
Or the melting arms and mouths of lovers
That burnt you and always left you lacking?
Is it that accident of your given family
As significant, distant, and strange as ever?
Is it the mystic country you left long ago
That has always belonged to a few who can?
Or this other one you’re now lost in
Where you constantly feel apologetic?
Perhaps it’s the God you never lost
Because was never yours to begin with?
Maybe home is in the arms of a child
Who keeps you where you are and lingers.

A letter to Bilbo

Dear Bilbao,

Thank you for meeting me again, it has been a pleasure, like the last time. Nothing has changed, the puppy Guggenheim still stands, the mountains are still mighty, and the Basques ever so warm. In Bilbao, the air is always golden, and the rain falls gently upon your face like a warm embrace. In Bilbao, summer is forever.

Last time I was here, four years ago, I learned that light always comes after darkness (after watching a Lord of the Rings marathon in my student room). Maybe that is why “Bilbao” is Bilbo in Basque. This time around you taught me to be easy on myself. Cross that bridge when you get (t)here. Maybe that is what Bilbao’s many beautiful bridges are for.

Thank you for my (proxy) family, since my own is half a world away. I loved being a daughter again. Thank you for best friends (both near and far). Thank you for Arrate, the wonder that she is. Thank you for: meluza Bilbaina, glorious red peppers, never-ending pintxos, and my favourite pastry of them all – the Napolitana.

Thank you for keeping all my golden memories safe, and making me smile in my heart knowing that I lived here, it happened, I was happy, it was real. And that I am free. A gentle step on those green fields, a wink at Zubizuri, a small nod at the ice cream shop. A faded dream, a salute to the once-was-there. Dreams burn but in ashes are gold.

I never thought I’ll see you again, but here I am, wishing I could stay longer, wishing I could bask in your warm, drizzling embrace for one more day. But here’s a promise: I’ll carry your sun wherever I go.

Hasta pronto, Bilbao. Eskerrik asko. Until we meet again, and again.


Your own

“Get yourself in trouble. If you get yourself in trouble, you don’t have the answers. And if you don’t have the answers, your solution will more likely be personal because no one else’s solutions will seem appropriate. You’ll have to come up with your own.”

-Chuck Close

Letters Written in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark

Caspar David Friedrich - The Wanderer above the mists, 1818.

“Often categorized as a rationalist philosopher, Wollstonecraft demonstrates her commitment to and appreciation of feeling in Letters Written in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. She argues that subjective experiences, such as the transcendent emotions prompted by the sublime and the beautiful, possess a value equal to the objective truths discovered through reason. In Wollstonecraft’s earlier works, reason was paramount, because it allowed access to universal truths. In Letters Written in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, however, reason serves as a tool for reflection, mediating between the sensual experiences of the world and an abstract notion of truth (not necessarily universal truth). Maturation is not only the acquisition of reason—the view Wollstonecraft had adopted in Original Stories from Real Life (1788)—but also an understanding of when and how to trust one’s emotions.”


“Who knows how we reverberate through each other’s lives?”

This line was stuck in my head for days after I saw Before Midnight. Richard Linklater, the director of Before Midnight and the prequels Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, revealed in an interview the true inspiration of the movies. Twenty-five years ago, Linklater met a young woman named Amy Lehrhaupt and spent a night with her that he never forgot. The memories stayed with Linklater and inspired him to make Before Sunrise. Sadly, she never saw it. Unbeknownst to Linklater, Lehrhaupt died by the time that movie came out, killed in a motorcycle accident a few weeks before shooting of the movie took place.

I found myself saying the line over and over, out loud, like a silent prayer. Who knows how we reverberate through each other’s lives? I found myself thinking of the encounters I had, and the possible reverberations I made. I looked back on the people who made a mark in my heart, and almost felt the ripples in the air.