It’s a day in November and we are talking to Karina Di Lucia. She is sitting in her cosy, inviting kitchen in Ersmark outside Umeå, a wood hob is visible in the background and her dog is sleeping on the floor beside her. We are talking about Villa Insikt in beautiful Innansjön, about Karina's business and about her thoughts on nature and health.
Karina was born and raised in Norrbotten, up in Malmberget. Her roots are in Västerbotten, in Innansjön, on her father's side and in Abisko on her mother's side. She trained as a nurse and midwife, and later she underwent specialist training in psychiatry. After moving around Sweden, she landed in Umeå about 30 years ago. She also trained as a physiotherapist. Karina has worked as a relief midwife, in maternity care, in A&E and in the Armed Forces. She started working in student health care at Umeå University at the end of the 90s, first as a nurse and eventually as manager of Villa Insikt Innansjön, as Västerbotten Chief Medical Officer and as Head of Operations. “I have a very broad background, but I usually say that I have always worked with people in one way or another. Some baulk and ask what have I actually trained in, but all my jobs have been about the human condition, the body and the soul!” Karina, who takes a holistic view of humanity, sees a trend toward an increased interest in complementing physical training with rehabilitation activities, such as yoga and mindfulness. A holistic training path means that you focus not only on exercising your muscles - but also on optimising your diet, sleep, mental health and social life.
After the years at Umeå University, Karina felt that she wanted to start her own business: “I felt that I have so much I want to share, to reach out to more people. So then I went and started my own business. This was 2014. Many people wondered if I was really being wise and asked if it was a good idea to leave a permanent post. And just replied yes, I am doing this, I am following my heart!'.
Villa Insikt is located in Innansjön, an elongated village by Göksjön, which in turn is connected to Stora Bygdeträsket, Västerbotten’s largest lake, with a waterfall about 200 meters high. “The wooded area to the north, the open landscape and the lake to the south,” says Karina, “it is so beautiful, it is open from Villa Insikt and reaches down to the lake”. It has a nature reserve, Fäbodskogen, with old-growth forests. Some of pine trees there are very old, there are dry trees and fallen dead trees. The old trees are twisted and look like works of art. Bjärnberget is just a few kilometres away. "It's really amazing, nature here is so incredibly special with old trees and large rocks. Apparently they were thrown there by giants long ago!” Adds Karina and laughs. Bjärnberget is a pilgrimage for climbers who want to go bouldering.
"Innansjön has a fabulous nature, and when I bought Villa Insikt, that was when I decided I would also start by demonstrating the health effects of nature. Of course, it’s great for ordinary physical training, too, that you are moving about. But it should not be forgotten that you don't always have to have a treadmill to train. I have always been interested in nature and outdoor activities, being out in one way or another, and then I thought that fitted really well when I bought Villa Insikt. At the time I had digital detox in mind, but I also wanted to use nature - walking, stopping, using your senses”. At Villa Insikt, Karina offers forest bathing, yoga retreats, digital detox, mindfulness, stress management and talking therapy. “At Villa Insikt, we spend a lot of time outdoors. We eat out if possible, take reflective hikes, go on wonder walks and have conversations. We talk about whatever the groups want to talk about. People can also book time for individual meetings and conversations. I only take small groups, at Villa Insikt there are six beds. What I want to do is promote health and to demonstrate nature's health-promoting effects and inspire others to be out in nature. For we live in Västerbotten and probably think everyone is already outside. But that is not the case!’
“Many people think they don't have time for reflection and recovery, and it's precisely those people who need to give themselves time for recovery. Instead of falling into that trap, I would like them to just go out into nature and do nothing. Or read a book, listen to music. Find out that brings you peace. I want to spread the word, because I know what amazing healing power nature has, but I also know the importance of small conversations, of sharing thoughts, reflecting, writing. Nature is free of charge, in one way or another it is almost everywhere. And here in Sweden nature is fantastic and you don't have to go far to find it”.
/Text: Sara Kåll-Fröjdö & Maria Hofman-Bergholm, Yrkeshögskolan Centria, januari 2021.
/Photo: Carina Dilucia