Mercury in Retrograde

Previously on Blue Lakes Deep Forest:

Emma got her visa approved. Emma and Andrew are making plans for 2019 (spoiler: lots of the same stuff as last year but also trips down south). Emma has a new job, it’s an office job. It’s extremely mundane but it’ll do for now.

Oh yeah, I didn’t write about my job yet. One of our dearest friends here in Vancouver went back to Ireland, so I took over his job. I sit in a cubicle, trying to avoid headaches and fatigue. It’s a good job, it pays good and the hours are great. It’s not exciting, but it is what it is and it works for now.

Let’s go through some updates!

3 things I do a lot of right now:

LISTEN TO PODCASTS

Obviously not a picture of me walking while listening to podcast (god, I wish that was me because DOG), but rather the picture is a visual representation of the state I’m in while listening? I don’t know. //    Source

Obviously not a picture of me walking while listening to podcast (god, I wish that was me because DOG), but rather the picture is a visual representation of the state I’m in while listening? I don’t know. // Source

This is new because I’m not a podcast-stan like most people. It started during my unemployment; I just got tired of hanging out with my own voices all day. It also gave me a reason to get out of the apartment, to take a walk and have it being the length of the podcast episode. Now that I’m at my new job, I’ve been using podcasts as a way to cope with the stress that comes along with being new at a place, sitting alone in lunchrooms (out of choice, don’t worry!), walking to and from work etc. I’ve been catching up with everything I’ve been missing these last… years? Some of my favorites include The High Low and Love Stories, as well as loads of Swedish ones (Daddy Issues, Alex & Sigge, En Varg Söker Sin Pod).  

CLEAN

Not a picture of my kitchen, but a picture that sort of expresses how I feel after each clean. //    Source

Not a picture of my kitchen, but a picture that sort of expresses how I feel after each clean. // Source

Yes, cleaning. Jessica from The Little Chapters podcast talked about Mrs. Hinch; an Instagram profile from Essex who is obsessed (perhaps too obsessed?) with cleaning and updates her stories frequently with her just cleaning around the house, doing the same tasks over and over again. There’s something so extremely satisfying and calming watching her do the job with the enthusiasm she has. She’s also incredibly kind and loving; she’s just a super nice person so I LOVE watching her stories now. It’s common knowledge now that having a clean space and being organised is part of self care and the activity of cleaning can have a anxiety-reducing effect. Hence, why I love cleaning. A messy home means something’s wrong. It’s the Virgo in me.

Anyway, Mrs. Hinch has made me take my already existing obsession to the e x t r e m e. A couple of weeks ago I went to the dollar store and bought 5 bottles of spray-cleaners, cloths, sponges and a freaking BUCKET to keep all my cleaning supplies in. I love it. It’s not realistically for me to have a spot-clean home all day every day, but if I can do 15 minutes here and there - I’ll take it. And I’ll thank myself for it afterwards.

TRACK EVERYTHING WITH SPREADSHEETS

Obviously not a picture of my Google Sheet, but that picture would not be aesthetically pleasing. This, however, is the feeling I get FROM my sheet. //    Source

Obviously not a picture of my Google Sheet, but that picture would not be aesthetically pleasing. This, however, is the feeling I get FROM my sheet. // Source

Same as with cleaning, this is not necessarily a new thing. But me and Andrew have been tracking e v e r y t h i n g lately into our Google Sheet. This helps with so much. It’s not for everyone, but it definitely works for us and we find it to be more important during stressful / anxious times. My memory is awful, and Andrew has dyslexia so for us to have an accessible system where we have to write down e v e r y t h i n g really, really helps. I don’t want to show anyone our spreadsheets, because I know people will think we’re bonkers.


Ok, seems like the common ground here is anxiety and how to deal with it. But it’s been February / March, literally the darkest months of the year. We’re all trying to deal, right?

How I Know You're My Person: A Saturday in February
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A saturday in February. We spent the morning watching The Office. Because even though we’ve already watched all the seasons within the last year, we decided to re-watch them all. And this is why I love you. This is how I know you’re my person. We took the bridge over to North Vancouver, then past West Vancouver, all the way to Horseshoe Bay. We just wanted a coffee. You told me to put the phone away, just like I had asked you to tell me a couple of days before. A weekend without the phone, please.

We looked for a place to eat. The sun was shining, it felt like April. We went to a place called Trolls, which is just a regular diner. Known for their chips. I had a shrimp sandwich - it was extremely mediocre. You had chips and chicken fingers so there were no complaints on your part. I sighed and sulked; we always go to your kind of places for food, never to my kind of places. I’m so tired of diners and fries and boring Canadian food. Boring Irish food too, for that matter. I let it go though. There’s nothing I like better than to eat out with you and talk about nonsense. It doesn’t really matter where it is.

We got a coffee in Starbucks, and headed out to the pier. I had a long speech about creativity and vulnerability. That people who are really talented at what they do often lack vulnerability and therefore they stop evolving. They get millions of people to look at their stuff, but no one will remember their actual name because they didn’t really put themselves out there. I spoke about the importance of being personal, of getting people to remember who you are. Of not being afraid of criticism. Surely it’s better to have a few people know about you, I mean really know about you, than having a million people getting your attention for a couple of seconds and then they go back to not knowing where you came from or where you want to go. I used other people as examples, but we both knew I was expressing my own fears.

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We left and went to Lighthouse Park after strolling around for a while, but more on that later. For now let’s just admire this picture of a you looking like the glorious angel that you are.

daily, vancouver, winterEmma Carlsson
The Day That Kacey Musgraves Conquered The Grammy Awards

The snow arrived yesterday. Me and Andrew walked down to Olympic Village, it was our only plan for the day (I love sundays). When we left our apartment there were only tiny, tiny flakes floating around. As we walked through the residential areas of Mount Pleasant, house spotting, the wind caught up and heavy flakes started dancing around in every direction.

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If I ever, for some reason, had to get a truck, this would be the one.

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We went to Craft Beer Market for lunch. We’ve been there a couple of times before, being one of the first restaurants we visited last year when we arrived. There’s definitely sentimental value to the place. We always get the exact same thing. Andrew gets the hot wings, I get the fish tacos. We sat there for hours drinking beer, talking and watching the snow outside the window.

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While eating, I couldn’t resist taking these photos of the cutest little girl eating her chicken wings. I die! I DIE!

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Heading outside a couple of hours later the snow had properly turned Olympic Village into a winter wonderland!

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Outside in the Olympic Village Square, they have these amazing big statues of birds that we had never seen before. The snowy weather made them fit in perfectly.

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This diary-entry-thing is very photo heavy but it’ll have to do. Sometimes visuals are way better than text - sometimes it’s the complete opposite. I loved spending the day with Andrew just walking around, people watching, dog spotting and exploring familiar and unfamiliar areas of Vancouver.

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We took the bus home. Traffic was a bit crazy, and I don’t blame people going a bit crazy when so much snow came in the space of just a couple of hours.

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Andrew arriving home to find his second girlfriend Misty the Mazda completely covered. It continued showing all that night. It was the brightest evening in a long time all thanks to the snow lightning up the streets! We thought about going out in the evening to take some more pictures, but with the heater on inside and tired from the pints of beer and the wet shoes, we decided against it. Plus the Grammys were on, so.

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daily, vancouver, winterEmma Carlsson
You Are Lisa Simpson

If you were to ask me “Emma, do you consider yourself a workaholic” - I would probably say no, since I’m very, very much against the concept of “working” from an idealistic point of view. I preach resting and rebelling against our capitalists society that wants the hustle to kill you slowly by overworking and making you feel like no matter what you do, you’re just never gonna to be good enough. Strive for the impossible, and feel shit while doing it. Basically.

However. All I want to do right now is work. So. Figure that one out (please).

I’m extremely bad at being unemployed, being in this in-between period. I don’t get a rush of energy to search all the jobs and call all the people. At first, I want to do absolutely nothing except to lay on the couch eating baked goods and watch Netflix. After a while of doing nothing however, I panic about doing nothing. After a while, I want to go back to the exact thing I wanted to escape from just a mere couple of weeks ago. I am me, and work is my boyfriend that everyone tells me to dump because he’s making me severely depressed, he doesn’t cater for any of my needs but he pays the bills. So I stay. Because I’m scared of unpaid bills. And I guess I’m scared of who I am without him as well. Without work, I mean.

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Outside validation is extremely important to me. An old teacher of mine said out of all The Simpsons characters I was most like Lisa. Lisa knows she’s smarter than everyone else, but her knowing it herself is not enough. She needs teachers to tell her that she’s smarter than everyone else. It wasn’t exactly my nicest compliment / the one I’m most proud of, but it was probably truer than any of the compliments I’ve ever received, so. It’s something anyway.

Work provides outside validation. It provides me with a problem to solve - becoming liked, becoming an expert at something, becoming better than other people at something. And I love solving problems! But only if other people created the problem. Only if I’m there to impress others, not if I’m there to only impress myself. That’s why I stay at jobs that do me no good, because I’m absolutely addicted to the validation and security they provide.

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But Emma, why don’t you just get a job you like, I hear you ask. And it’s a fair question. That has been asked many times before, often by my actual boyfriend. And by myself every single work day. “It’s not that easy!” And it isn’t. No matter how many white, middle class influencers online tell you otherwise. In order to go for what you want, you have to figure out what it is you want. Then what follows are a lot of even more complicated steps - but just that one step of actually KNOWING what it is you want, can crush you. Because how can we decide on just this one thing?

For me, it’s always been easier to become good at something I’m not particularly interested in. Because if I am interested in it, and I try it and I find out that I’m not good at it, that would be the end of it. So I prefer to play other peoples’ games instead of my own. Because I’m confident that I could do what they’re doing, but better. I am, however, not confident that I would be even okay:ish at my own game. And that is scary.

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This all sound like a lame excuse as to why I’m not pursuing something. But again, I’m not even sure what it is that I want to pursue. I’m so jealous of people with clear goals. “I want to be a lawyer”, “I want to work with coding”, “I want to design buildings” - whatever it is, I’m so, so happy for you that you know and that there is a somewhat clear path for you to take!

I thought I wanted to do feature film work, hence why I studied film for over 10 years and now have a Masters degree in it. But now I’m not so sure. So what do you do when you’ve had a somewhat clear path, but then abandoned it? Not only do you have to come up with something else, you have to deal with the pressure from yourself plus everyone else thinking (probably) that you’ve wasted 10 years and will probably waste another 10 years on the “next big thing”, only to realize down the line that your second choice really didn’t interest you either.

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And while you’re figuring out what would make you happy, career-wise, you have to provide for yourself. You have to pay bills. Most of us can’t take a year off to “figure things out”. And even people that do have that opportunity, spend most of the time off anxiously thinking “I should be doing something else”, so all that off-time never comes into good use anyway.

So I’m sitting here, on my couch, knowing how to move forward but not in what direction. I want to work. I want to give something my all. I want (need) money, not a lot but I need to get by. I have energy to work. I have ambition. I have a big box of great stuff, I just don’t know who to give it to! Sometimes I think I know, and I take baby step towards that place, only to retreat and change my mind. Because it’s scary. It’s way easier going back to what you hated, what was familiar. And I’m a big baby in the shape of Lisa Simpson whose main wish is just to go back to doing homework in the system that raised her not to be a free-thinker but be a cute lil’ successful conformist (no matter how 'liberal’ she wanted to come off as).

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Traditional Cappuccino $4.25
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What follows is a list of things I sincerely enjoy and should do more often:

a) shower
b) use deodorant
c) cut nails
d) brush hair
e) moisturize face
f) moisturise upper arms and lower legs
g) put on foundation
h) powder
i) blush
j) brow gel
k) mascara
l) pink lipstick
m) brush teeth (preferably before applying the pink lipstick)
n) use perfume
o) drink a glass of water
p) take necessary pills (allergy, headache, sinus, fever, vitamins (sometimes) - whatever it is that that day requires)
q) put on fresh underwear
r) black jeans
s) soft sweaters
t) same old shoes (the ones with holes in them)
u) huge fluffy jacket
v) huge fluffy scarf
x) pack a bag with notebook, computer, wallet, pens, book
y) leave the house
z) listen to music without vocals (on your walk to a coffee spot or a park or just around the neighborhood or wherever) because sometimes your own voice in your head is enough to overwhelm almost anybody


A Saturday in January

Hey listen. If you told me to read the previous post out loud to you, I’d refuse because it probably doesn’t make sense, and I’d be too embarrassed. I was writing it with an extremely cloudy mind due to hormones and migraines and stress, oh my. But I’m going to keep it there as a reminder of my imperfection. Or something.

I need to recap some saturdays here. Ever since I stopped working, I’ve been off on saturdays which has completely c h a n g e d my life. Who knew you could have two days off together with your loved one instead of just one? Is this how normal people live? Also, how sad is it that I’m AMAZED at the opportunity of spending 2 full days with doing exactly what I want. Is that really the type of life we should be striving for? I want more. I demand more than just 2 days.

Anyway. We spent a saturday in January, the first one we had off together, at the Riley Park’s Farmers Market. It’s one of two farmers markets here in Vancouver that are open year around.

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Loads of food trucks, but also local businesses showcasing honey, cheese, deli meats and exotic teas. You name it. You can do your weekly shopping here, if so inclined. Eggs, vegetables, bread - you know. We bought maple bacon that was To. Die. For. Apart from that, we were mostly just dog spotting.

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Andrew wanted a plain crêpe. Just sugar, no butter, no lemon, no nothing. This dog, a regular, obviously wanted one too. He was confident that his charm would eventually break a kind customer into submission. He was right.

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Dogs deserve anything they want and more. I didn’t end up getting a crêpe; instead I absolutely devoured these Cochinita YVR empanadas from Marimba. They were honestly one of my favourite dishes I’ve ever had here in Vancouver. Just thinking about them makes me hungry - and I just had lunch.

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After lunch and a nice stroll around all the stalls, we decided we weren’t done with the day quite yet. We went to Main Street which is my favourite part of Vancouver (which is lucky considering we live just next to it). First stop was The Fish Counter because Andrew was still hungry! While he doesn’t eat fish, he does enjoy a good chipper.

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A big portion of fries for $4, who can resist? It’s all in the batter. After The Fish Counter we headed to Liberty - a bakery / coffee shop that reminds me very much of a European fika place. I’ve already showed you a picture of Liberty in my recent post, but I’ll just add that they have the best cinnamon + cardamom buns in Vancouver! As Swedish as you can get.

Oh, and this is how I looked like. In case future me is wondering.

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eat, daily, winter, vancouverEmma Carlsson
The Art of Doing Nothing
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Getting closer to 30 is just as exhilarating as I assumed it would be. For as long as I can remember I’ve been longing for 30. For me, 30 always meant being able to live the “boring” lifestyle everyone claimed I lived anyway, without feeling any guilt about things I should be doing. It’s almost like how babies become a grand excuse to get out of things. “I can’t go to that thing with you tonight, you see I’m 30 now.”

I’ve always enjoyed doing nothing. I played on my own a lot as a child (I know, major surprise there). I enjoyed going on trips or staying over with my grandparents. Their slower pace suited me; there was so much space for all that daydreaming I was occupied with. Anyway. As you grow up, you start realising that doing nothing is not valued by our society. On public transportation you see people working, to save time. Instead of just enjoying the train ride, you could do some work on your laptop, or at least read a book. As technology progressed, this became even more prominent. There are now more and more tools for us to use in order to secure productivity at all times.

I could never be productive all of the time. I get spurts, and if I miss one of those spurts it’s g o n e. On buses and trains I prefer to do nothing at all. At cafes, my favourite pastime is to do absolutely nothing at all. Maybe browse on the internet, maybe listening to music, maybe read or write down some words in my journal. But for me, those activities is just an extension of a daydream. Not something that will actually lead to something. It’s doing an activity with an end goal in mind that I have a problem with, not the act of doing itself.

One of the perks of almost being 30, especially as a woman, is knowing how your body works in seasons, too. You become aware of when you have energy to produce, invent, organise, analyse or when you should simply do nothing other than just rest. Let things simmer. Otherwise the flavours won’t come out etc. My body has worked the same for many years now; there are a couple of hours a day where I can be creative - but not every day. I cannot study or write an essay after 5pm. My brain shuts down.

I remember days in college where me and my friends would all go to Starbucks for an intense study-session, and all I did was just stare at pictures of dogs (probably). I called it procrastination. I thought it was me trying actively NOT to work. We look at procrastination as something negative, and maybe it is. But maybe we don’t always procrastinate just cause we choose not to do something? Maybe we just need that time to be spent doing absolutely nothing at all.

None of those days where I rested instead of working did me any harm. I still graduated. With good grades, mind you. I went to bed early. I avoided all-nighters like the plague. I knew that wasn’t my style, I couldn’t handle it. And this I hold very dear: the knowledge of exactly what my body needs.

Right now I’m not working. I’m in between jobs. I’m taking some time to do absolutely nothing at all. It helps that the first weeks of my unemployment is being spent pre-menstruating and menstruating. Yes I said it. It helps slow things down, it allows me to not rush into things and then feeling like shit because it wasn’t the right type of thing. I know there will be a time when I won’t like resting, where I thrive on being creative and productive. But I know that that time is not right now. And acknowledging your seasons gives you all the power.

Some inspiring articles:

“In a world that has glorified hustling and exhaustion in pursuit of creative production for far too long, my cycle has shown me sustainable creativity is not only possible, but wildly effective.” - Claire Baker
https://wepresent.wetransfer.com/story/claire-baker-periods-and-creativity/

“We don’t have to glorify work. … There are only so many hours in a day, and I’ll be damned if I will work more of them than I have to.” - Laura Jane Williams
https://www.redonline.co.uk/red-women/blogs/a25829735/laura-jane-williams-death-to-the-hustle/


How Can I Write This Title Without Mentioning 2018?
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There are so many stories I didn’t share in 2018. So many moments that went undocumented. Or, at the time I did document them - taking photos and such. But I never shared any of it. An Instagram picture here and there, definitely a couple of stories. But apart from that, no writing. No real reflection.

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I obviously neglected this space on the internet after august. Summer here was amazing. I worked a lot, yes. But I also visited parks and beaches. It made me think differently about Vancouver. It made me like it here. Fall was glorious, with all its colours and Halloween decorations. I nested quite a bit in our apartment, and couldn’t wait to go all-in over Christmas. Which we did.

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From September onwards, up until very recently, my main focus was just getting my visa extension approved. I had to live life with a plan A, B, C and D in mind. I was well prepared to just go home to Sweden. Start my life there again. Or to visit California, stay with my aunt for a while. Either way I quit my job two weeks into January. And that very same week, my visa got approved. The stars aligned, etcetera.

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Now I’ve been home for a week. Resting, mostly. Taking those sick days I never took while working. Forcing my body to r e l a x. I have some saved up money. I have food, I have an apartment, a car, I have a supportive family and friends but most importantly I have Andrew. There is nothing to be worried about, although the outside world and your inner critic try to constantly convince you of the opposite.

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I asked for help during the visa process. I tried not to feel shame while doing so. I was open to people about my struggle; I shared the turbulence with people around me without expecting any emotional care-taking back. The biggest lesson in 2018 was to not take responsibility for other people’s emotions. Only for my own. And I can decide not to worry. Because what good does worrying do?

(Easier said than done, obviously. But practice makes (almost) perfect.)

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In 2019 I intend to be better with sharing. To follow some advice I gave to myself earlier in 2018, to create a scrapbook of memories; not a show reel. Because almost every day I find something to celebrate. Coincidently, I find something to be sad about as well. Why not share it, for future use.

(All these pictures are taken at Chilliwack Lake a couple of weeks ago)

A List Of Noise
  • Cars
  • Netflix
  • Whatsapp group messages
  • Instagram stories
  • Vanlife youtube videos full of skinny white rich vegans
  • My boyfriend going Emma talk to me 
  • My landlord's heavy feet over my head letting me know who owns this place
  • Girls at work whispering about other girls at work 
  • Phone calls I'm not getting but if I did I would let it ring 
list, aboutEmma Carlsson
A List Of Things I Want
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  • Silence
  • Goats
  • Cucumbers from my own garden
  • Lake swims
  • Driving a car on an empty road
  • Puppies
  • Outside showers
  • Local honey
  • A good speaker and open doors, with the music blasting out to the forest
  • A hill to climb every day so my legs burn and my mind clears
  • To be a different version of myself every single day 
about, listEmma Carlsson
SUMMER 2016

In 2016, during the summer months, I moved back home to Sweden temporarily. My plan was to finish my Masters degree at home, get a job, relax with my family and take care of some health issues of mine. I relaxed with my family a little bit, but apart from that everything else sort of fell apart. Life happens and what not. I made this video for school, but ended up never using it. The idea was to film the moments that didn't really mean anything; just everyday moments without any commentary really. My favourite kind of videos? Anyway. Looking back at it now, it's one of the best things I've ever done? Only because watching it now gives me so much joy. I know exactly how it felt like being there, in Sweden, during summer 2016. The clips showcase it so clearly to me. Of course you can't fit a whole summer in a 3 minute clip. Of course I filmed when I saw beauty in everyday life and not just clips of me watching tv or me crying or me wasting my day not doing summer:y things. I want/need to make more films like this. Because it's all in those boring details. It's ALL in there. 

Less Showreel More Scrapbook

The title is a quote by Lucy Sheridan from her text regarding the worry we feel over Instagram/Blog posts; the hesitation to showcase our life due to our "content" not meeting imaginary expectations. Bottom line: let go of comparison and focus on showing a scrap-booked version of your life and not the highlight reel. 

Yesterday was filled with so many of my favourite activities. Me and Andrew left home early to drive south, a block away from the border. Misty, our very charming car, doesn't have a working AC so we were boiling in no time. We stopped at a gas station to get breakfast; medium roasted brewed coffee and a blueberry muffin. Andrew had a kinder egg. We parked up at an RV park close by, to look at a dog show. Growing up I always went around with mom to different dog shows. I love the feeling of a dog show, so even though we don't own a dog ourselves we love to visit "dog events" and just stare. Due to the heat people were spraying their dogs with water bottles and many of them wore cold dog show capes. We decided to opt out of the dog show hot dogs that were served, and went to White Rock instead. White Rock is a beach town named after a - you guessed it - white rock. We had fish and chips on the beach. Reapplied sun lotion. Even though I brought my swim suit, I was too lazy to get it from the car but I desperately wanted to swim in the water so I went in with my under garments. Due to the low tide the water was shallow and so, so warm. I couldn't stop smiling; I was so happy. During the summer months all I want is to be in the water, and this was the first dip I had this year. Tired from the sun, the beach and the food but still not ready to go home we decided to book tickets for the cinema that evening, the new Mission Impossible film. Honestly, I was so amazingly surprised. I had no expectations because action films are not usually my thing, but I loved, loved this movie. You have to see it. On the big screen, with good speakers. I couldn't stop smiling throughout the film, it was so incredibly well made. It was also such a perfect ending of a perfect day here in Vancouver. I didn't take a single photo. Or I did, but they're not worth showing to anyone since they can't possibly convey what was actually going on. Here instead follows three pictures not taken by me but would fit well into this page of my scrap-book-life: 

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Pictures are all taken from Tumblr, credit sources here: mvisional

dailyEmma Carlsson