Humans of Ängsbacka is a photo project of portraits and interviews collected at Ängsbacka course & festival center.

Lidia, 30 years old from Spain © Ken Buslay

“I was living in Barcelona, working in the art world which involved a lot of competition, elitism, judgement and pretentious behavior. Real human relationships and true interest were rare in that scene. I was living with the boyfriend I had been together with for nine years, outside the city with two cats and in the eyes of society I guess I was supposed to be grateful for the life and job that I had. But to me, it felt automated, not chosen and I wasn’t feeling alive at all. 

When I left my hometown to go to Barcelona and study art I wanted to expand myself, go into my heartspace and strength. But university and the work I did afterwards blocked my own creativity and made me go far in the opposite direction. I went into acting from my mind and from structure. About three years ago I began to realize this, then started to make first steps back to myself and began to see the options for a different life. My longing to challenge myself, brake out and explore outside of the box or comfort zone I had built for myself, grew very strong and it still is. I started to open new doors to find my potential again, visited a humanist therapist, took theatre and yoga classes, got involved in spiritual activities and learned about art therapy. I wanted to consider all the possibilities life had to offer and really feel alive again!

I decided to quit my job and all the structure I had. That started with not living together with my boyfriend anymore, all the way to going to a place with another language and mindset. When looking for a community to volunteer in the nature, with a strong focus on personal development, I found Ängsbacka – which felt like life was clearly telling me this is where I need to go. I stopped waiting for my boyfriend to take action with me, stepped into my strength and went alone.

Being here feels like an ongoing therapy to step more into myself, my authenticity and strength. Underneath the patterns, shame, guilt and fears that I had built up, I slowly began to find my truth within. It had been a very long time since I had been in contact with that true version of myself. Living here, I sometimes take that for granted today, but I actually know that it is not. The beautiful guidelines of this place like conscious, open, non-violent communication, sharing or reflection of triggers make it such a great place to break your habits, find and then be yourself without being judged. Ängsbacka has allowed me to explore my sexuality, the way I perceive love, power, responsibility and much more.

I also found my spiritual path again, which I had already been on when I was a teenager. Generally, it feels like I am back in this stage of life again; expanded, exploring, shiny, full of strength and believing in it. I am so happy to be back on that path again! I feel in the right place at the right time. 

The community has been essential for all of my processes here but right now I feel a bit apart from the others because now that I feel more in contact with myself. I want to give time to me and my creativity that is coming back. When I arrived here, I wanted to get to know everyone and have that close family feeling. I joined every activity and workshop, spoke and listened to everyone and almost didn’t spend time alone. But this can become very energy draining in the long term and carries the risk of forgetting about yourself. I still appreciate the community’s presence but I became more active in my choices on where I focus my energy to explore closer.  I didn’t like living inside the city because there are so many stimuli but at the same time I was afraid of having too few if I moved out to the countryside. Community living is creating a great mixture of both qualities since everyone brings something new and the energy never gets stuck. 

Everybody comes here with the intention of exploring themselves and it is so magic how people find and mirror each other in that. It is so much fun to play with other kids that want to play the same game as you! Without judgment, in a safe place where you can dance freely and crazy without a drop of alcohol for example. Or if you discover wanting to scream every five minutes you can do that, or free yourself in any way you can think of. And the challenges that come up between us, we can solve them in a way that is feeding us in our personal growth. I feel very held here, able to bloom. And at the same time I see that Ängsbacka is a playground and at some point I need to leave and shine my light in the world outside of this bubble. I guess that’s the whole point of it. At the moment, I am in the tricky process of finding out if my time here is finished for now or if there is more to discover for me here at the moment.

When I do leave, the most important thing to bring with me is to stay centered and aligned with myself, in contact with my truth, aware and attentive to the signs that I am being given. Sometimes I can feel this flow of energy and aliveness inside as if the universe was communicating through me. I want to continue choosing myself and what is good for me. I also want to bring the open, conscious and non-violent communication as well as practices like meditation and sharing. All this is potentially going to be more difficult to keep in an environment that isn’t as supportive as the Ängsbacka community, but I will face the fear of getting stuck in a dead living mode again and stay aware, choosing what keeps me alive.

I have so many things to celebrate about this year, so many things to be thankful for. My adventure doesn’t finish here, it’s just starting.”

 Keep tuned next week for a new story from Ängsbacka!

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