Last year was probably the most fun, eventful and earthshaking year of my life so far. In January we were trying to finish university with distance studies from Sri Lanka at the same time we were welcoming friends and guests in a spontaneous bed & breakfast we were running with two employed staff. The spring 2015 we had to take some big life changing decisions, go home to finish school or finish what we had already started here in Sri Lanka.. We had a potential investor visiting us and more questions rose, how did we want our future business to look like? Going slowly, slowly on our own or fast, quick and big from the start with somebody else.
We came back to Sweden with big plans in Sri Lanka and no plans of finishing our bachelor at the time, as you probably already guessed. We didn’t have our own home so we renovated a small cabin without electricity or running water. Petter started working 300 hours a month as a restaurant manager. I was shooting 15 weddings. At our miraculously free time we were either tailing a kitchen wall in our cabin (with the help from youtube) or planning our future Sri Lankan business. In the end of the summer we were exhausted but we knew the work was just starting with our company. Petter surprised we on my birthday with tickets to Paris the same afternoon and the day after he asked me to marry him. We had three fantastic days together in Paris. I shot my last wedding for the season the same day we got home and then we started to pack to move to Sri Lanka. We finally had time to launch our surf & yoga retreat! Two months before we planned on opening, we were crossing or fingers that some guests would come.
We decided it would be fun to travel to Sri Lanka via the states.. Some vacation before the hard work would start again, also so we could network/buy new surfboards/other stuff. We spent some days in California and the rest in New York where we also attended a Nordic Food Festival and a restaurant that sells Petters family restaurant’s meatballs! It was a fantastic trip 14 days trip, inspiring and in hindsight we made some of the most important connections for our future company there. But it was not really a vacation.
Finally in Sri Lanka we had 27 days before we had our first guest arriving. At this time bookings were somehow miraculously starting to come in. We went on a 10 day excursion to the other side of the island together with our surf manager to “develop our surf methodology”. We were surfing and having Skype interviews with yoga teachers, surf coaches and at this time we were getting fully booked for our first weeks. Which was fantastic! But we had to get the villa ready. We had 2 weeks to settle in the villa, getting enough beds, surf boards, yoga mats etc. Remember there’s no IKEA here, beds and mattresses and other furniture has to be special ordered.
The beds arrived with 01:30 am the same day as the first 17 guests. I’m so grateful for those first guest, for all guests, but especially the first ones that kind of help us shape Sunshinestories to what it is to day. Petter and I didn’t have our own home so we slept together with the staff at a open air loft. It was five of us + a stray puppy that found his way to us the first week we opened. We woke up at 5:30 and worked until 10 pm. All of us. We had so much fun. We were so tired.
We were too blue eyed in the beginning trusting a man who we thought was our friend, we hired him and his wife to help cook and clean. We quickly realized we needed more help, I had worked in hotel business before and cleaned the villa 4 hours a day as well as answered all emails, sent out all invoices etc. We tried hiring more local staff, offering good salary and I couldn’t understand why they didn’t wanna stay. After 3 months it turned out that our first employee was “cock blocking” us, scaring away everybody that we wanted to hire because he wanted to control our whole villa. Apparently he was taking 20% + on everything that came in the villa: coconuts, furniture, fruit, vegetable and so on. After he left suddenly it was super easy to hire good people and we slowly built up a fantastic group of people. My big brother came in January and that help a lot, he took over the manager role.
This meant I could stop cleaning! At this time we had moved in to our own house. We had 6 personal guests (family & friends) that was visiting us at this time and we all lived in our new house. They helped us watch the painters etc and I’m so grateful for that but we had zero time to hang out with them. When they all left I kind of crashed. I started laying in bed answering all the emails & bookings and didn’t have the energy to surf or do yoga. Not even any energy to eat. All I wanted to eat was snickers or twix. I had anxiety because this wasn’t the life I had in mind when moving to Sri Lanka, nor was it the life I had made a movie about back in December selling our life as the dreamiest life ever. I was crying a lot and sleeping but without getting more energy. Some emails seemed impossible for me to answer, I couldn’t summon the energy or gather my brain around it. Couldn’t focus for a longer time. Petter decided to hire a front desk that could do all the administrative work like bookings etc to lift it from my shoulders. We had our plane tickets booked home for 29th of April but where thinking of staying in Sri Lanka longer to finish up things like financial statements etc, but instead I was going home alone while Petter stayed and together with Joel and the new front desk kept everything smooth and running.
I went home to my sisters couch. We booked a charter trip to Greece and all I did was laying by the pool, reading or laughing with my sister. Much needed quality time. I hoped to come back well rested and full of energy in time for Petters return to Sweden. So happy to be reunited with my love and we celebrated his birthday with his family, went to Stockholm burger festival together with our favorite couple Ida & Robin. Coming back to our cabin we had a very short deadline of a big freelance job, we had a hectic two weeks. But that was probably the most hectic we had this summer. We decided we would take life slow. And enjoy the summer, Sweden, our family and friends. I only shoot one wedding. Very peaceful. Best summer since I started working at age 14. We were still operating Sunshinestories but Joel & the rest of the crew was doing a great job taking care of it and we only had Skype meetings every other week.
But I was still tired. And fat. Nothing I did seemed to change the fact so a few weeks ago I went to a doctor and said “I have no energy, just getting more and more fat, am constipated and sad when I should be happier than ever, please help me”. They ran some tests and called a few days later saying I had to come back for more tests and then she called again telling me that my thyroid gland doesn’t work properly. In easy words it’s not producing enough hormons to break down food in to energy. It’s called hypothyroidism. It’s fairly common, especially among women. This has probably been going on for many years in my case but culminated this past year. A lot of the same symptoms are the same as for burnout. And reading above text about what it is I have actually been doing the last year I am probably a bit burnt out too, I clearly can’t keep on in the same pace. I need time to rest.
Every cell in the body has receptors for thyroid hormone. These hormones are responsible for the most basic aspects of body function, impacting all major systems of the body. You can think of the thyroid as the central gear in a sophisticated engine. If that gear breaks, the entire engine goes down with it.
Most people know that thyroid disorders can cause weight gain, digestive problems, and fatigue. But did you know they can also cause symptoms like brain fog, depression, dementia, dry skin, hair loss, cold intolerance, hoarse voice, irregular menstruation, and even infertility? – source.
I feel like I’m on the right way. After my diagnosis I got medication, levaxin, and it is helping a lot.. The fist days when starting taking it it felt like a fog disappeared from my brain. I felt like I was actually seeing clearer, I got energy to wake up from bed, energy not to have to nap to be able to stay awake after 5 pm. Feels like I got my life back. I’m a bit sad that I probably will have to take these pills for the rest of my life. But grateful there’s a cure for my condition and thank god that I don’t have a worse decease.
I have realized that I need to change my life and habits to a healthier life. Right now I’m trying 3 weeks without sugar, alcohol, gluten and processed food. I’m also bosting my system with extra help in form of a bunch of minerals and vitamins. And remind myself to take time to rest, yoga and read. Even if my head is finally exploding with creative ideas again and for the first time in months I feel like I have the energy to execute them. It’s all about balance. I’m not back 100% yet, but I will get there.
I’ve been afraid to talk about this with too many people because sometimes when I’ve started to mention it i hear “but you shouldn’t complain, your living the dream life”. Yes, I’m aware that I am very lucky to live this life. Or it’s not luck that has taken me here, it’s hard work, tears and sweat. You never know how someone behind a blog or an instagram profile really feels. I don’t want to get personal on my instagram with 3000 random people. What I share on social media is just a small piece. I choose to show what makes me happy. This blog on the other hand is more for my own sake. Felt so good getting it all out there. Sometimes life spins so fast, it was really nice to sit down here for an hour just pouring my brain out. Work hard, but rest harder. So grateful for my love Petter who is supporting me through this. Couldn’t make it without your understanding and support.