Now we would have time to enjoy our home together, but it is difficult to enjoy.
Let me tell you about Johanna …
Johanna and I have been a couple for 12 years, have been working together for 11 years and have been married for 10 years.
She is the organizational talent of both of us, loves long-term and short-term plans and cares a lot about our company structure, feasibility of projects, the numbers and the accounting.
Due to the current crisis, her everyday life has changed much more than mine.
My days are shaped by the work around our house in Miekojärvi: The dogs, guest tours, conceptualizing offers and all work around the house and yard are my main area of responsibility.
Johanna was often on the road for many weeks as a tour guide in Scandinavia and managed the reception of a large hotel seasonally. We were often not in the same place for months and saw us very little. This was particularly difficult for me. We have always tried to find a way to be able to spend more time together and in the past year have changed a lot to make this possible.
To compensate for the times when we don’t have as many tours, we had taken over the guest house in Överkalix (30 minutes from our home). Since the beginning of the year, Johanna has been in the 8SeasonsVilla most of the time and put all her energy into building our new mainstay. As a result, we have seen each other at least often at night, although the time together has not really become any more.
After the crisis has hit us, Johanna was suddenly at home 100% of the time instead of 99% somewhere else due to work. We had always wanted more time together – zack – there it is now, the time, just because of some unwanted circumstances.
Johanna has the feeling that she is pushing into my everyday life here at home and in private, too, a lot has to be reorganized. The first week was particularly difficult for me, every division of work is overridden, everything is different – in addition there is the inner unrest caused by developments in the world and the concern for one another.
Johanna loves to work and drive our projects forward, to pursue short-term and long-term plans and to be on the move – the sudden and total stop has challenged her very much. It was difficult for her to concentrate. This state of emergency and the associated upheaval in all areas of life is very demanding for her and she misses her own effectiveness in doing. Everything suddenly got out of control. It was not at all necessary to put our entire existence and our life to the test in this way and to immediately have to find a new and completely different plan. Sure, April is always the month for annual accounts, seasonal accounts and taxes – but not for a complete check. She and I had to ask ourselves a thousand questions and only for a few we had and we have an answer ad hock.
Johanna has never called so many specialists in all 12 years. Management consultants, tax consultants, credit companies, banks, lawyers, suppliers and of course customers.
To be honest, she doesn’t really like to talk on the phone …
Usually up here in the north meetings are held in person and with lots of coffee, cake and small talk before and after. This is one of the positive side effects of restricting contacts: Johanna no longer has to drive hundreds of kilometres to talk to important people (almost all of them live in the direction of Lulea or elsewhere), but suddenly she can hold meetings via “Skype” or “Team”. Moreover, it had also become clear to her that she has no colleagues and has done many things on her own. Now she is painfully aware of it.
And of course, every advisor with whom she is on the phone has his / her area of expertise and the advice is not necessarily neutral. Lenders want to give loans; banks want money and the lawyers only look at the legal situation and do not factor in the question of whether it is a matter of the heart. Once the final open questions are resolved, it will be a matter of somehow bringing all the advice together and defining a new direction.
The question of where we are now has not yet been clarified, but has become clearer: Much of what worried Johanna could be illuminated and some things are not as bad as expected.
Why we got into this difficult situation so quickly is due to the fact that we focused a lot on March 2020. The last big income at the end of the season was planned, so Johanna could have easily paid the bills that were already on the desk. At “normal” times, the organizers have to cancel us at least 30 days before the start of a trip, this time had long passed and the income was “actually” secure. Nobody would have expected that there could ever be a legal situation where we couldn’t get the money. In our branch (tourism) not all costs can be distributed clearly over the year. March and the times up to Easter bring in important seasonal income that can then be counted against expenditure. After the big investments last year, our winter was exactly planned: 3 big trips bring in the money we can live on. An appointment was cancelled, and we quickly filled the outage with daily touristic tours and the new income from the guest house. Everything would have worked out well.
Now there is no way to compensate. And suddenly invoices on Johanna’s desk, which date from before Corona, remain unpaid. How do you explain that? This is more than uncomfortable! There is understanding for everything after Corona … but for bills from before? Johanna recently told me that she can no longer finance the money for the dogs, that there is nothing left to pay the bills for the food. (We buy dog food in large quantities to get good prices – the invoice amounts are then of course considerable.) This was very, very difficult for her. She was always able to tug everything – not being able to do that anymore initially attacked her pride and hit her deeply.
When I became seriously aware of our situation, I took on the task of organizing the money for the dogs somehow. I was able to relieve Johanna and take a lot of pressure from her.
For her and me, the new situation is now also an opportunity to rethink everything.
Of course, it is always a deeply sad feeling to imagine that the company in which we have invested so much passion and energy could no longer exist – but our common strength to always see something positive in everything helps us immensely. Behind Johanna’s injured pride was the realization that many people suffer from the same situation and that we are not the only ones. That makes the feeling at least “OK” – there is not much we can do about it on a professional level.
Focus on important things
For us, work and life are very closely related and conditional – it is all the more important that we make good, joint decisions for ourselves.
For me, the fundamental question of our future comes somehow more insidious than for Johanna. Here in Miekojärvi it is possible to live in a bubble – if you want to disconnect from the world, you just have to keep your distance from the internet – that’s it!
Now we are together in our bubble, our home. It is difficult. Now we would have time to enjoy our home, but it is difficult to enjoy. It does not feel like a time to enjoy. But despite everything, it’s really nice to be together again at home. It’s just a great place that connects us a lot! You look out, see the dogs, the lake, the vastness and nature! It´s impossible to not enjoy it! The dogs give so much zest for life and show us again and again what we are there for.
Amazingly, we both never have our crises at the same time. If the courage leaves us, we totally collapse under the burden of the situation, one of us is always upright and can support the other one.
Step by step
So, we go on. Step by step we answer all the questions, we will make calls, find new questions, try to clarify old ones, calculate numbers back and forth and ask ourselves again and again where our goal actually has gone and how it can be that we know nothing about the future, when that will stop and what our new goal may be.
Johanna thought for a while: Great, I clarify everything that needs to be clarified for a week, then I can’t do anything anyway, sit out Corona and get back to sewing and knitting.
Now it looks as if we are really working hard again and starting the fight for our entrepreneurial existence. We still hope for a quick end to the crisis. However, we both know that the chances are bad that this will happen, and we rightly try to jiggle these ambivalent feelings in order to find new answers and not to wait for the time for “old solutions”.
That makes us tired – alternately – so that the other one can take on tasks, bring tea and coffee and of course the dogs that don’t know anything about our worries and infect you with their zest for life.
So, we continue …
We, Johanna and Kathi, have always been at the heart of everything we do. Full of overwhelming enthusiasm for life in the north – with all its idiosyncrasies and extremes. Our solutions have always been unconventional, so …
Today the sun is shining and we go out on the lake and surrounded forest. Walking … just like that. And the questions can be patient and wait a bit for US!