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During the winter months there is nothing I love more than to spend a day tracking. I've learnt so much about nature by doing this. Evidence of bird and animal life is everywhere, how they move; where they sleep; what they eat. The white Hare lays still after a fresh snow fall, venturing out only after the second or even third day. The Älg plods through the terrain, rarely cutting a straight line. The fox leaves a pearl necklace of tracks, depending on the speed it is travelling, while the wild boar follow in each others tracks, creating a well trodden path and ploughing the snow with their bellies. Mice move through the snow leaving a tunnel formation, while birds print the snow with their wings and their feet. Small rodents, squirrels, roe deer, fallow deer and wolves become less camouflaged in wintertime, their tracks giving away their secrets.

The Black Grouse, rarely seen for more than a second or two suddenly are in full view. The five birds I captured with my camera this week were busy eating the small buds in a birch tree. The elusive Capercaillie left his tracks where he too had eaten along the way, breaking off top succulent pine needles.

As I myself move slowly, observing nature's recent history, this provides me an opportunity to reflect on the tracks I too have left behind me over the past year, and think about how I wish to move forward through 2024. The old year was a good one. I have learnt that happiness and joy come from the small successes in life, the value of nurturing and nourishing friendships and relationships, and how to measure personal fulfilment with emotions and not material possessions. My latest book (to be released in Spring '24) follows my personal journey of self healing through nature. I practise Forest Bathing daily, I spend time outdoors as much as possible and I take enjoyment from small pleasures. Having lived a very materialistic and fast paced professional life in my twenties and thirties, my forties saw me move permanently to Sweden, follow my dreams of renovating properties and opening my own business. By the time I turned fifty I crashed and burned. I was unhappy, unfulfilled, and unhealthy. I have spent years re-wilding myself, literally! Getting back to nature, feeding my body and mind as organically as possible, and peeling back the layers of anxiety, trauma and fear that life's events cloaked me in, was an arduous process. It has been therapeutic to write about my experiences and I can't wait to share them. I hope that my book will inspire and help others who may find themselves in a similar position.

For those of you who haven't read my other books I would suggest that you start with Fully Booked which starts in 2006 (the latest version reprinted in 2023), discusses how I came to settle in Sweden, renovate an old property and run my first of three B&B´s. My second book, Where the f**k is Blönduòs? was inspired by several trips I made to Iceland, including a six month journey in wintertime. It follows closely my break down following a nasty burglary, the affects of vicarious PTSD I suffered over a ten year period, and unhealed trauma from childhood. Iceland was to provide me with solitude and safety. It did that and much more. It wasn't however a miracle cure to all my problems and after some months of returning home I again found myself in a spiral of panic attacks and suffering. My final book in this series, Friluftsmys, holds the key to true healing and happiness. A combination of natural therapy , forest bathing, eating sensibly, embracing the weather and learning to forgive, Friluftsmys is the all encompassing term I use to describe my adopted way of life.

It is with hope that I continue to learn from my old footprints as I carve out my future path. Unlike the Hare, I don't intend to sit still for long, instead stride forwards with confident steps, leaving a trail of friendship, support, and hopefully entertaining and inspiring books along the way. Happy New Year. #emmastrandbergbooks #palamedespr #prscribe #mentalhealthawareness #friluftsliv #mys #sweden #selfhelp #drivingiceland #icesar #bedandbreakfast #ngp #fullybooked #wherethefuckisblonduos #icelandroadtrip #forestbathing #naturetherapy #outdoorlife


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