I'm an American expat, writer,Youtuber, photographer. and old-fashioned romantic in love with celebrating the simple joys of daily life. I appreciate timelessness, the natural world, and a slow life lived with simplicity and intention. When I'm not photographing families or  slowly traveling the world and writing about it in a little notebook, I'm happily grounding myself in nature and cozying up with my sweet husband.


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reindeer in finnish laplands Finland by Helena Woods Photography

My Lessons Learned from Nature: Lapland, Finland

Clumps of foamy soap bubbles cover the trees like giant wads of cotton. The snow here in Lapland Finland is powdery crisp and blindingly white. Acting as a natural light reflector, the snow casts a white haze through our cabin window. The glittery snow falls steadily, and the forests surrounding us are all incandescently white. In Finland, there is nothing but trees: towering pines and silver birches.

I sit on my cabin porch looking out over the frozen lake and peel the thin papery layers of bark from the shedding firewood I collected earlier.  The bark peels and curls in thin, waspy sheets, revealing layer upon layer of neutral oranges, tans and whites. I peel it off, using the shreds to start a fire later, until the smooth, clean wood exposes itself. I run my finger along its smoothness: not a splinter to be had. 

As I sit in the silent snow, looking out over the lake, I am reminded of the importance and vastly underrated power in shedding one’s past self.

Just like trees and animals, we, humans, also need to schedule in time, or at least allow ourselves, to shed our past, so we can continue to grow.

lapland finland tree bark and shedding one's past self

If there is one permanence in life, it is our impermanence.

All things in life are ever-evolving, constantly in a state of flux. Just as the Finnish tree peels its bark in the winter, I find myself shedding and releasing my own wounds and memories so that I can make room for newer, lighter, more abundant ones. 

We can only carry so much weight.

When we release and let go of the weight, just as the trees do with its bark, we can become new again. Lightness can once again be exposed.

I sit here in the snow, surrounded by snow-covered wood, stroking the smooth wood of my firewood and contemplate the shredding I’ve released here on my trip to Finland. Without technology – I left my phone back at home – in the silence of our little cabin in the quiet woods, I am able to become more aware of what is missing and what is needed in my present experience. Silence does indeed hold all of the answers…if only we have the courage to look at them.  Technology is our greatest distractor from the soul work that needs to be done.

Here are 5 ways that I have let go and shed my past self during last week’s trip to the Finnish Laplands:

5 Ways You Can Let Go and Shed Your Past Self

1. Take a walk and sit in silence

In the silence, even more so when we connect and ground ourselves in nature, it is easier to become aware of our past patterns, beliefs and self-inflicted stories. By practicing mindfulness in our daily lives, by observing our thoughts rather than being in them, we can acquire our deepest, most resonate truths. 

One of my favorite books that explores this topic in-depth is The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. 

2. Do a body scan

Pay attention to where the heaviness is located in your body – how does it feel, how can you release it? Ask your gut.

3. Ask for help

I am always asking the Universe for help. We have an infinite support team that is always available to us for communication and guidance.

I am personally not religious, but rather more spiritual and consciousness-focused, however, I do pray to “Archangel Michael” when I need to a cord-cutting ceremony which helps release soul contracts from people.  

You can ask for help from the Universe, God, Source, your highest self, the Holy Spirit, your inner voice etc. We use labels to apply these esoteric concepts in an attempt to understand them and fit them into our lives. But the label itself doesn’t matter. Use whichever word resonates most with you. Our intuition/gut/inner guidance system is universal.

4. Forgiveness

It is so important to forgive. When we hold onto things tightly, we end up building resentment and bitterness and that only hurts ourselves in the long-run. It’s so important to release trapped emotions – my favorite book on this is called The Emotion Code. I do this by expressing and feeling unconditional love, acceptance and forgiveness for the person that has caused me pain.

You can write a long letter to the person you wish to emotionally and mentally let go of. Then, finish it off by allowing the letter to burn in the fire. It’s especially helpful to do this during a full moon. Working with the lunar cycles can help speed up and cement your desires. I know it seems kind of woo-woo, but I personally find a lot of enjoyment and pleasure when I connect with the Earth and the planets. We are all connected. You can read all about that here!

5. Tap it out

EFT, Emotional Freedom Techniques, tapping is a form of energy medicine where you tap the meridian points with your forefingers whenever fear or emotional resistance pops up. I learned how to EFT tap from Gala Darling on youtube and have since removed numerous random phobias, paranoias, fears and emotional blocks that have held me back from an abundant and more peaceful life. Once I tap a fear out, it never pops back up again. It’s wild. 


And so I breathe. I think of the emotional clearing, forgiveness and acceptance work I’ve done these past three days, and I feel appreciate this simplicity, this quiet moment. 

I crumple the curled, wafer-thin shreds of bark in my hand and study them, before opening my palm and allowing the wind the usher them forwards. 

Photographs from our time in Lapland, Finland

Our Lapland, Finland Winter VLOG


How I Let Go and Shed My Past Self in the Finnish Laplands

March 2, 2020


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I'm Helena! As a creative storyteller, I document magical, emotionally honest family and children's portraiture. A lover of childhood, fairytales and natural light, I photograph families across the world. I'm the ultimate Disney nerd, and I'm obsessed with cats and expressing my love for the simple joys of slow, daily life.

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Helena Woods is a destination newborn and family photographer based in France and New England and travels worldwide. She is known for her natural light, modern classic, and emotive photography style.










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