Skip to content

A Maine Swedish tradition: New Sweden Midsommar Festival

June 24, 2019

The summer before last, I lived with my sister in Northern Maine and we decided to attend the New Sweden, Maine, Midsommar Festival which takes place in late June each year. Its a 2-3 day event, and is steeped in Swedish culture and heritage.  Its a colorful festival filled with beautiful flowers, lots of Maine lupine, and colorful traditional clothing and music.  We went to the decorating of the Midsommar Pole, and stayed to see the children, dressed in authentic Swedish outfits, dance around the pole. They had been practicing for the event for several weeks.  There were wonderful musicians playing lively Swedish music.

What struck me the most in addition to the beauty of it all, was the coming together of all ages to participate and pass along traditional Swedish activities. People came from all across the United States to attend, see family, and join in the Swedish fun.  I grew up in Houlton, Maine, only a couple of hours south of New Sweden and had no idea this festival even existed.

Here is an article about the New Sweden colony itself and how it came to be.

Here is an article published in an Aroostook County newspaper. There is a sweet video imbedded that gives you a real sense of the festival including the great music!

 I have a few hundred images from the special day. Mostly around decorating the Midsommar Pole, the families, the children, dancing around the pole, and people of all ages enjoying the festivities. I have included a few here.  

The New Sweden Historical Society who sponsors the festival each June has written on their FB page that the festival is to “Help us preserve and promote Swedish culture in Northern Maine.”  I would say, you are doing a great job! I hope you had a wonderful 2019 New Sweden Midsommar Fest this past weekend!

Beautiful tradition clothing

Sweet face

flower headdress

those eyes

family affair

making flower wreaths

she glows

decorating the pole with Maine lupine

creative hat decorating

Maine lupine decorating the Midsommer pole

many hands to decorate the pole

family traditions

she was one of my favorite models of the day..

children in traditional Swedish clothing

Maine lupine

Maine lupine

Miss Northern Maine Fair

traditional Swedish music and instruments

the pole is almost ready!

lupine and red socks

Maine lupine

enjoying the festival

last minute words of encouragement

waiting to dance

the team from Maine Public Radio

lupine and more traditional socks

mother and daughter

The decorated pole is ready!

sweet children

The Midsommer Pole being raised


the traditional dancing begins

dancing fun

Swedish dancing

so much fun!

dancing around the pole


Gorgeous Maine lupine gracing the Midsommer pole


The truth is I never felt like a “Survivor”

February 16, 2019

The truth is I never felt brave, badass, or blessed. I never felt like a warrior or a survivor.  To me, “survivor” felt like a word you use when you think you’re going to die, but you don’t.  I never thought I was going to die. Not then anyway…someday, yes, of course.  I was diagnosed, I had two surgeries, I had 4 weeks of radiation and then I moved on. Onward and upward. Whats next?  Let’s do this thing called life.  It was a thing I had gone through, like many other things. It wasn’t pleasant but it wasn’t horrible. It was just a life experience like many others. I wasn’t being brave or pretending it didn’t happen. It just was and now it wasn’t.   I didn’t go to survivor groups, I didn’t talk about my breast cancer unless someone asked. Hell, I even cancelled my health insurance because it was too damn expensive to allow me to have fun doing all the things I wanted to do.  I wasn’t being brave, I had just put it behind me. Or so I thought….

Then, several months ago, the truth of someone who has experienced cancer, began to sneak up on me. Usually, it was at 4am when I rolled onto that breast and it woke me up enough to roll to the other side. Or it was when I bumped myself at work and it hurt more on that side than the other. Or when I was in the shower and could feel discomfort around that breast and under my armpit.  Those niggling thoughts of whether I was still experiencing the effects of radiation or whether there was more going on began to creep in.  I didn’t mention it to anyone. I didn’t really even acknowledge it myself until nearer the end of this past year when I knew I could sign up for health insurance again.  Then I told my partner, my sister, a few friends and family. I really didn’t think it was anything but I needed to have it checked out. And I did. My mammogram came back negative but then, so had my mammogram one month before I began experiencing symptoms the first time around.  So this past week, I visited the lovely caring cancer specialists where I had been previously treated. Just to chat about my symptoms, and other things.

3D model of a breast

I told her, in addition to the symptoms I was having, I hadn’t been as happy these past few months. I have gained weight and wasn’t sleeping very well.  She said, as a breast cancer survivor, I should…..wait, what?  No, that’s not me. I cringed with embarrassment. I didn’t in any way feel like a survivor.  She went on to talk about programs offered to survivors, YMCA free classes and trainings for survivors, etc.  My face was flushed with shame as I didn’t feel any of these things related to me. These were for people who thought they were going to die when they had cancer, and then they lived.

She said, “You know what your problem is?”  No…. I guess I didn’t.  She said, “You haven’t acknowledged your fear, you haven’t dealt with the fact that you had a life-threatening disease and that for the rest of your life you will wonder when or if it will return. You haven’t been above-board with yourself around your cancer or your fear.  And the problem that arises when you don’t do this work, is that you also don’t experience the joy of being cancer free AND….that fear will eventually catch up with you.  It will present itself in your happiness, your weight, your sleeping patterns and more.”  Wow!  Really?  I had to admit she probably was right!  I thought I had moved on, and in many ways I had. I thought I had put it behind me, and in many ways I had. I thought I really wasn’t a cancer survivor because I hadn’t had chemo, I didn’t ( thank goodness) lose a limb, or spend months in the hospital, these things were not part of my cancer story but… I was a survivor, I am a survivor.

I am almost exactly 5 years out from when I first started dealing with doctors around my breast cancer. I am now finally ready to read the books, look at my post cancer food intake, join the YMCA’s LIVESTRONG free 12-week physical activity program designed to help adult cancer survivors…yep, Survivors! 🙂   And I am even going to reconsider the one thing I said “no” to the first time around because, hell, I thought I was perfectly fine the way I was. (God, I sounded smug in that original blog post!)  And, maybe I still am fine the way I am but I will admit this cancer thing has taken a toll on my body and my psyche, and I am going to go chat about fixing some issues that may help me in the long run. I am ready to admit I may have some residual emotional and physical effects from cancer.

And I am so thankful that someone called me on the carpet to be honest with myself. To call my bluff on the fact that I was so far past cancer, I had left it in the dust. To be honest about the fact that at 4am, I am human. A human who has experienced cancer. Better off than some who have and worse off than others.  We can’t judge each other’s experiences going through this or how we deal with it after.  We are all Survivors. And I am thankful for that.



You can find me here:



The Oil Spill and the Art of Self-Care

January 27, 2019

Last year my word(s) for the year was self-care.  And this for me personally does not look like bubble baths and massages although I do love both of those!  What I need from myself mostly for self-care are good boundaries around my time and energy, asking for help when I need it, and utilizing my resources.  These have been some of my biggest struggles, that I have been aware of, since my early 20’s. I’ve gone to therapy to work on these and have worked hard to honor myself with these.

And still, I stink at it.  But I am getting better with very conscious efforts!

So, this year my word(s) for the year, again, is self-care. In fact, if I am honest about it, probably these will be my words for several years to come. I have lots of work to do around this.

Luckily for me I have this friend who is a wonderful role model for intentional self-care. She knows how to do it!  She’s good at it.  And its pro-active!  And she does it in the most kind and gentle way for herself. She reminds me how important it is to take care of ourselves in the best way we know how.

Last year she had an unhealthy experience, and she was relaying to me how she handled it .  And Wow!  I asked her if she would write about it because I needed and wanted to read this, and remember it.  Self-care doesn’t happen haphazardly or without a plan but sometimes when you proactively work at self-care, the Universe gifts you an added bubble bath, or massage for good measure.


This is her story.  Thank you so much, Marsea Spiegel for being such an amazing role model and friend and being willing to share your story.

Oil Spill    

“A few weeks ago, an old defunct oil tank in the basement of the house where I live (I occupy the first floor) started leaking oil.  I woke up one morning, and the smell was so powerful that I immediately opened windows and headed downstairs with a scarf over my mouth and nose.  It was all over the floor and just a stinky, nasty mess.  The following day a haz-mat team cleaned the floor, siphoned the remaining oil, cut up, and removed the tank.  They did a great job. The smell, however, remained and actually got worse.  It permeated everything that was, well, permeable.  My throat, head, and chest were not spared.  Boy, did I get sick.

For the first week I couldn’t sleep in my own apartment.  I had a constant headache and had to take serious action to clean both my house and my body.

The house was a relatively quick fix; two days of deep cleaning with a purifying blend of essential oils (and a good friend) did wonders to improve the atmosphere and lift my mood.  I smudged with sage and ran a diffuser with lemongrass oil.  It was unseasonably warm, and I was able to leave windows open day and night.

Detoxing my body would be more of an ongoing process.  I put a lot of trust into the wisdom of my body to handle this assault and did all I could to support it.  I drank lots of pure water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice; coconut water straight from the coconut; fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice; simple meals of antioxidant-rich vegetables, greens, fruits, and berries; roasted dandelion root and other detoxifying teas; long walks on the beach; daily sauna; oil pulling (coconut oil swooshed around in the mouth); dry brushing; visualization; positive affirmations (“My body is a brilliant detoxifier, and I am cleaner than ever before”); and was grateful for the opportunity to take purification to another level.  It was a nice reminder that there are gifts in all things.

I had planned a weekend at Kripalu Yoga Center before this happened.  To take full advantage of my time there, I decided to gift myself with a relaxing massage first thing upon arrival, prior to the start of my workshop so I could be in tip-top shape.  They had one opening at the time I requested.  In fact, it was the only opening all weekend!  As luck would have it (luck? hmm…) the session was an Ayurvedic Detoxifying Skin Treatment.  I said yes!  It was phenomenal.  The most enjoyable, relaxing, restorative, blissful, and invigorating bodywork experience I’ve ever had.  To say it was exactly what I needed would be an understatement.  It elevated my concept of health, life, joy, you name it.  I decided right then and there that I would bring Ayurvedic Skin Care to my future healing center.  All I could think of was, we all need this.

This transformational session began with a very soothing dry skin exfoliation from head to toe. The therapist wore thin gloves that were at once silky smooth and slightly rough.  My skin tingled, and I could sense my body responding to the invitation to release any and all lingering substances that were not serving me.  The message was clear, and my body’s response was immediate.  My intention of purification was getting full support!  Looking back, I can see how it was, in fact, running the show.”

–Marsea can be found at Aon Wellness Center in Falmouth, Maine practicing therapeutic massage, and energy healing though Attunement.  She is also certified in Lymphatic Drainage Therapy.  Marsea is a certified holistic health practitioner.


Water Photography Session Giveaway

November 11, 2018

woman in water

The idea stemmed from thinking about a woman I know. She is raising two children by herself, holds a full-time job, takes care of her own home, and still finds the time and energy to help other people when she sees the need.  My thought was, “I’d like to gift this woman a water session. I’d like her to have an opportunity to see how beautiful she is. Give her the time and space to celebrate herself.  I’d love for her to feel love and nurtured, for her, from other women.”

Rocks are her grounding force.

I truly love connecting with other women this way.  The water session begins way before the day of the session. We talk on the phone, or over coffee or wine, about what they would like from the session.  What they would like to see, feel, experience? What things from nature or otherwise would represent them? What they are experiencing in their life that they’d like more clarity on?  What they are celebrating or moving through….  We have a general idea of what her time in the water will look like but when the session day arrives, we let things flow. Water, flow…. 🙂   We see what seems to be working. We listen to suggestions from one another, and the two females assisting with the session. We create a beautiful collaboration that hopefully feels just right for that woman, and feels worth the courage it may take to say, “Yes, I am worth this.”

Celebrating you!

In this month of giving thanks, I would like to invite you to nominate a woman to receive a complimentary water photography session on the coast of Maine in the warmer months of 2019.  Tell me her story, it can be in long form or a short paragraph. Tell me why you would like her to win a water session.  Click on over to the nomination form and give her a shout out.

I will choose one woman from the stories that I read, one woman who is nominated by another loving soul to receive a complimentary 2019 water session.  And four (4) other people who write in a nomination will receive a $50.00 gift certificate to be used toward a portrait session or products in 2019.  You have until November 30 to write in. I will announce the winner(s) on December 5.

Ethereal Olivia

I’m waiting to hear these beautiful stories of women…..  Take a few minutes, write a nomination. She is worth it.

~ Some words from women who have experienced a water session

“A gorgeous and surprising experience of co-creating with Nanette and the women who assisted. Whether you are grieving, celebrating, transitioning, seeking, or all of the above – THIS is the portrait session of a lifetime.”

“I cannot say enough about the depth, beauty and other-worldy-ness of this photo session with the gentle & lovely Nanette Gordon – she held my story with tenderness, and created an experience that touched my heart and soul.”

“This experience – the photography water session – came at a time of great shifting for me as i work towards finding and revealing my authentic self. The session was very revealing and provided a level of healing that I was not expecting. I’m very grateful for the beautiful women (especially Nanette) who were part of my journey.”

woman in water


Here is the link to the nomination form, and if you decide you’d rather, Gift Certificates are also available to purchase a full portrait or water session, or give her a gift towards one.

Lots of love and best wishes in this November, Scorpio, month of giving thanks!




Blind Line Drawing for Inspiration

July 18, 2018

Several years ago, I took one of the very few art classes I have taken in my life. It was with a talented artist and my friend, Arla Patch.  One exercise she had us practice as “a great basic tool to shift from left brain to right brain” is called blind line drawing.  It was the first time I had ever drawn anything that I actually liked! And the funny part is that a blind line drawing is done without ever looking at your paper while you are drawing.  It allows you to really SEE what you see versus seeing the logical world that your brain THINKS you see.

This explains it better than I can. All I know is that it works, and its fun, and I generally really like my results!

“The goal of blind drawing is to really see the thing you’re looking at, to almost spiritually merge with it, rather than retreat into your mental image of it. Our brains are designed to simplify — to reduce the tumult of the world into order. Blind drawing trains us to stare at the chaos, to honor it. It is an act of meditation, as much as it is an artistic practice — a gateway to pure being. It forces us to study the world as it actually is.” excerpt from an article written by Sam Anderson.

For me, these types of activities fuel my creativity and get me thinking outside of the box, which I believe ultimately helps me to become a better photographer.  Give this a try.

  1.  All you need is a pencil and a drawing pad, or two pieces of paper.
  2. Place one larger piece of paper over your entire hand, pencil and bottom piece of paper.
  3. I set a timer for 2 minutes, no more or I tend to start over thinking what I am doing.
  4. Sit quietly in front of a scene outdoors or at your table with something interesting and multi-dimensional sitting in your immediate line of new.  My first blind line was of a large pair of scissors sitting on the table in front of me.
  5. Place your pencil on your paper wherever you want to start, cover your hand, pencil and bottom paper with the top piece of paper, and hit the timer!
  6. Do not lift your pencil off the paper until the 2 minutes is up and your drawing is complete.
  7. Take a look! If you like it, Awesome! If not, give it another try with drawing something else!

Let me know how it goes!  I’d love to see your fun results!  Feel free to post a picture here in the comments, or tag me on Instagram @nanettefayephotography!  I’d love to see them!

Here’s mine from the other evening at sunset! I love the depth of field (photographer in me 🙂 ).   I decided to also do a quick 5-minute (I set the timer again), not over-thinking, watercolor on top of the blind line drawing.  Pretty happy with the colorful result!

In addition to Instagram, you can also find me over here! I’d love to chat with you about fun creative activities like this one, or about photography too!

2-minute blind line drawing

Blind line drawing with quick watercolor

Celebrating Summer Solstice

June 21, 2018
maine summer, maine, summer art, maine coast, rosa rugosa,

Summer Solstice art

I’m a Summer sunshine girl. My housemate says its because I spend a good part of my day sitting in the dark editing images on my computer. 🙂  I think I’ve always been a Summer sunshine girl.

Last night, while sitting on the front porch after dark, we decided to get up early this morning to greet the longest sunlight day of the year. Summer officially began this morning, June 21 at 6:07am in the Northern Hemisphere. “I am so happy to see you, Summer! You have no idea!”  We thought of what we might do to celebrate this special morning besides sit and drink coffee on the porch, which is wonderful in-and-of-itself!  And we decided to create flower mandalas with flowers from around the yard.  So, while she got the coffee started, I began gathering Rosa Rugosa petals and Buttercups, and when she came out, she found a few Lamb’s Ear, climbing Hydrangea, and few other flowers and greens. We chatted as we played with the flowers. And we spoke to Sun and thanked her for the things we love and appreciate most about her.

Early morning Summer Solstice

Yard flowers for art

Early morning art

Maine coast Summer Solstice

Our special Maine flower mandala creations.

Happy Summer Solstice! Love to you all!



On Saturday morning, I’ll be on a ferry to a Maine island to photograph a creative woman doing what she does best. She’ll also show me around her beloved island. Are you in need of creative portraits for your website, blog or marketing? Would you love some photographs of you doing what you love to do, let’s connect. 









If you can dream it, you can create it!

February 6, 2018

Manifesting our dreams takes a lot of thought and work and vision.   I distinctly remember the first time I connected the dots, when manifesting my vision really happened to me.  My dream was to rent a little cottage on Moody Beach, Maine for a week with a girlfriend and our total of four daughters.  I verbalized this dream to a counselor I was seeing.  It didn’t end up happening exactly as I had envisioned, which often seems to happen thanks to the Universe’s vision of OUR vision, but it happened! Wow, that was powerful stuff!

The next time it happened, I had made a list on Jan 1 of five places I would love to visit within that year. No plans at all were in the works.  A few months later, I said Yes! and I was on a plane to CA to photograph and crew for a long distance bicyclist for The Race Across America, a non-stop race from Oceanside, CA to Annapolis, Maryland.  The kicker, it was all expense paid so it worked for this newly divorced woman. Later that year, I was asked to shoot a week-long family reunion with a wedding at the end of the week in The Outer Banks, NC. The opportunity included staying in a beautiful lodge on the ocean during the week-long assignment. Win, win. Two dream travel locations I had written in my vision journal on Jan 1, happily crossed off! I love this stuff!

Vision Board Workshop

So, let’s do this together.  On Saturday, March 17 from 10:30am-1:30pm, you are invited to gather with other local women to create your own Vision Board. In this inspiring location on the Maine coast, you will create a vision board to help jumpstart a new project, your business or your life! Due to the intimate nature of the location in Yarmouth, Maine, this workshop is limited to the first 12 people.

Enjoy the morning socializing and creating with other women, and then head home with a tangible, image and word-inspired vision board to place in a spot you see every day.

I hope you can join us.  If you would like to sign-up for the workshop, or just receive more information, please leave me your email address in the comment section below. You may also email me at leaving your name and email address.  The cost of the workshop is $20.00, with all materials included. Coffee, tea, water and a yummy will be available. You may bring a bag lunch if you’d like!

Let’s get started on creating the project, business….life of our dreams.

On the road with Race Across America