I’ll never forget the day I got an email from Minna Dufton, aka Rebellious Bride, Finlands leading offbeat wedding blogger and total free spirit, who encourages brides to be themselves on their wedding day. I remember when reading about her, it seemed serendipitous that she found me. I sent her one of my crazy rainbow light up wedding gowns which she took on incredible adventures.
I am so inspired by her free spirited approach to life, and so grateful for her friendship, and our email exchanges, and that she took the time to answer all my questions about being a Free Spirit. I knew we had so much in common, but didn’t realize until after talking about Free Spirits, that we were both inspired by Pippi Longstocking! For those of you who don’t know who that is, she is the main character in a series of childrens books and movies by the Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. Pippi was my childhood hero– a wild creative adventure loving girl with a monkey and a horse 😉
Here is our conversation, I am posting it in the blog because she is so inspiring.
Do you consider yourself a free spirit?
At 41 I can say I’m definitely someone who lives according to her own wishes and beliefs. I’m an Aquarius and have always been very independent. I’ve never really suited the real traditional way of living or working – I’m at my best when things and people, including myself, aren’t too stuck in their ways. We can all get a bit stuck in our ways from time to time and that’s ok – that’s life! But I guess what’s made me who I am is the fact that I’m a free spirit with my feet firmly on the ground. I did very well at school when I was young and have always had a real rational side to me – so wherever my feisty free spirit leads me, I make sure to take my brain with me.
What are your rules for life?
Never take anything or anyone for granted. Appreciate every moment you’ve got. Love with all your heart. Spend time with children and old people. Learn to listen to your heart! Don’t be afraid to let go of people and situations that no longer serve you. Be fierce in the pursuit of your dreams – you only live this once. Never give up.
What makes you chase your dreams?
As long as I can remember, I’ve always made my dreams come true, somehow! It’s not always been easy but I’m someone who has always wanted to look ahead rather than look back in life. I’ve also been very curious about the world and all that it has to offer me on this special one way ticket… so I don’t believe we should limit ourselves to thinking that the world is just on our doorstep. It is there, too, but we should aim to see a lot further than that while we can. And I guess that’s what they call chasing your dreams! I’ve had a really cool journey so far and I still want to see how far I can go both personally and professionally. Right now my dream is to make a tv documentary about a female big wave rider – a true free spirit and an inspiration to all women.
What dreams have you chased?
When I was a child living in a small town in a remote part of Finland, I really wanted to see the world. My mother took me and my sister on some foreign holidays which really opened our eyes. When I grew up, I knew I had to spend as much time as I could living abroad. So, when I was 19, I left home to live in England with a Englishman I’d met on a holiday in Tenerife – only a free spirit would be as brave as that! I lived in England for 13 years, almost a third of my life. And I’m so grateful for the experience as it’s still with me every single day – mainly through my daughter, who is the biggest dream come true in my life. Since returning to my native Finland I’ve chased every professional dream I’ve had – and reached them. I’ve had my own tv series commissioned, made a number of documentaries that I’ve really wanted to make, won awards, worked in two public broadcasting companies (BBC and YLE) and become the journalist and film-maker I now am. I think a good journalist and documentarist needs to be a bit of a free spirit. In this job you need to be comfortable with being independent.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to unappologetically “be themselves” but lacks the courage to do so?
Ask yourself, what’s stopping you and write you answers down. Do everything you can to get to the bottom of what’s stopping you.
Then let go of everything that’s stopping you! You only get this one chance to be who you are – grab it with both hands and really go for it. The more scared you feel to throw away the mask or whatever you are hiding behind, the more you need to do it.
What is the scariest thing you’ve ever had to do?
Giving birth to my daughter in England is the scariest situation I’ve ever been in. Both of our lives were in danger. I remember lying on the operating table not being able to breath, thinking this was not going to be “The End”. It was one of those life-changing moments where I really hung on to life quite fiercely – because I realised just how much I loved life. I was not prepared to let that go and I knew that after that experience there would be no holding back. Ever since my daughter was born I’ve lived more consciously, been more present in the moment and chased every dream I’ve had with even more fire in my soul. You could say my daughter helped me be even more of the free spirit that I am – because she, too, is a free spirit. Our birthdays are only two days apart and I think that’s super cool.
Did you ever have to decide to go one way or another, and had to follow your heart?
Leaving England to move back to Finland and not go back was such a decision and a very difficult one to make. But as hard as it was, I’ve never looked back. Every day since has been proof of me following my heart. Once you learn to listen to your heart life gets a lot simpler. The challenge is to quiet the mind from listening to all the people around you wondering what on earth has happened to you! People tend to think you’ve changed when in fact you’ve never been more true to yourself. Trust the process and you’ll see.
Any advice on following your heart?
Follow your heart and your heart only. Don’t lose yourself following someone else’s heart. Be careful to listen to what you really want – it is usually the first intuition you get when making a choice. Also, beware that following your heart might not be the easiest path but it is by far the best path. So when it gets rocky, fix yourself and your crown and stay on the path.
Any thoughts on being yourself?
I think the most important thing in life is to learn to love yourself – the way you truly are. To achieve this we really need to learn to be present in the moment and listen to our hearts. I’d recommend meditation to help with this. Once we learn to love ourselves, we soon see that there is so much more love around us. And that’s when we’re usually ready to let new people and things into our lives. So the sooner you learn to be yourself, the better for you, really.
What inspires you?
Talented, creative people always inspire me. I also believe that working with people that inspire you can really help you become the creative talent that you are. Look out for those people. Sometime they can be closer thank you think…
Here are some of Minna’s favorite quotes:
“Do one thing every day that scares you.”- Eleanor Roosevelt
“Tell me not to do something and I will do it twice and take pictures.”- Rebel Circus
“I survived because the fire inside me burned brighter than the fire around me.”-Extramadness.com
“Magic happens when you do not give up, even though you want to. The universe always falls in love with a stubborn heart.”
“Everything great that ever happened in this world happened first in somebodys imagination.”- Astrid Lindgren
“I am the sea and nobody owns me.”- Pippi Longstocking
She recently left Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE to pursue a career as a freelance journalist and film-maker.
Here is her new website: www.minnadufton.com (click on the English language version)
And of course there is still Rebellious Bride on www.raggarimorsian.fi.