This blue marble

– and yet it spins


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The end of a hundred-year-old shed

There once was a little shed in the back of the garden. Its back was bent from carrying two layers of roof, shingles and tiles, for a hundred years. Its pair of black-painted doors were hanging at the gable end like crooked teeth. The decorative trims were more bare wood than white. On the garden side, the flower wallpaper in the milk maid’s room was peeling. Through the years, the colors of the flowers had slipped away from the greenish white base.

The shed had housed hay carts, race carts, and, later a car. No maid had lived in the little room for sixty years. The only thing properly standing was the timber skeleton inside. It was time for the shed to go.

First went the roof. Tile by tile, revealing the shingle underneath.

“Will you bring a bulldozer and one of those iron swing balls you see in cartoons?” I asked my father.

He would not – instead he carefully removed each vertical siding plank and placed them in a pile. “Your cousin is going to use these to heat up his farm buildings,” he said.

Finally, when only the timber skeleton was left, the bulldozer arrived. And when it was done, the hundred-year-old shed was gone, and Nature was back.

(Loviisa, Finland; August 2020)


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The first 90 days

Lovely ones, my intention has always to keep work away from this blog. But with coronavirus, travel bans, and a highly reduced social life in a city where I have barely built any social life, this is where my focus goes right now. And please allow me to just for once speak up and state that the first 90 days in a company are a mental and physical challenge.

Actually, I am only 30 days in at the moment. The increased need for sleep is obvious. At the same time, I wake up at 5.30 am and am unable to sleep. On Thursdays, my leg muscles are giving up the game as I once again bike 8.5 km uphill to the office in the morning. Bus and train is out of the question because of coronavirus, and because they are a slower option. Last week I checked out an electric bike from the office and took it home, and back the next morning. I hope one like it can fit it into my financial plan by christmas as it will dramatically reduce the amount of sweat, time, and work required to just begin the working day. Although this week everyone in our Danish offices around the country were sent home due to an increasing coronavirus count. For how long? Who knows.

But the work itself is interesting, and my new colleagues are wonderful. And as I find myself right in the middle of internal politics and process improvements, this little book by Michael D. Watkins is very helpful. Because often it is not enough to just sit down at your desk and do the work – instead, it is equally important to be strategic about the first steps and tasks, in order to make a runway for success instead of a path of potholes.

(Copenhagen, Denmark; September 2020)


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The end of slow life, still in Copenhagen

Lovely ones, I survived my first week at the new job! What a major adjustment to have to go to the office at least 4 days a week, for the first time in nearly 10 years.

And what better way to treat oneself than to have brunch in the old town of Copenhagen with a friend who came all the way from Sweden to see me.

Biking to the office every day, and having brunch in Copenhagen on a Saturday: ten years ago when I was married in Finland and had just left my science career, I would never had imagined this to be a normal week in my life at the age of forty. But I guess “unpredictable” is also the very definition of life.

(Copenhagen, Denmark; August 2020)


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Party dresses for life

Lovely ones, still a few weeks of slow living here in Copenhagen, before everything changes once again. Meanwhile, I am unpacking my boxes and discovering things from past lives.

I used to have an academic career, in biomedical research. In Finland, such a career requires several full-length evening gowns. Oh yes, doctoral thesis defenses and other appointments are serious events. When I moved to the business side of things, I recycled most of my gowns – save for two. The soft purple one is the one I wore on my own PhD defense dinner (can you tell my color season is soft summer?).

Instead, I doubled up on cocktail dresses for all the business-related evening events. I packed them all in a box before moving to Denmark. The past two years I have managed more than well with just one dress, bought at Copenhagen airport one morning, in a hurry before a flight to Rome.

Lessons learned? One dress is manageable. Two or three is sufficient. And watching all these hang side by side, I conclude I now have party dresses for life.

(Copenhagen, Denmark; August 2020)


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About inspired living

Some years ago I made a vision board. For months I hunted for inspiring images and tore them out of magazines. Finally, I tacked them all onto a cork board, added a few handwritten words to define exactly what I was calling forth, and my vision board was done.

Then I discovered that I had systematically left out the most wonderful images of them all: images of strong, creative women in the most amazing places or moments. I had been so focused on selecting those pictures that illustrated the goals I wanted to envision, and these women just… were, themselves. Most often, the image size was too large: a full A4 magazine page. These women did not fit in – rather, they stood out. So I stored them neatly in a plastic folder, in my sideboard. I forgot about them.

Years later, while unpacking my boxes here in Denmark, I encountered the folder again. I spread out the women on the floor. Together, they were still magical: strong, purposeful, creative, doing exactly what they wanted to be doing. Even if in reality most of the photos were staged for a fashion shoot (the center photo is actually an ad for Zalando), the impression they give off makes my heart sing.

There, on the floor, the women just…fit. I made a collage, easily a meter tall, and took a photo. This time I won’t forget. I won’t forget what I aspire for. And I will hunt for another cork board or cardboard, big enough to accommodate these women, because I now have the perfect place for them inside my walk-in closet. This is where I will greet them, first thing every morning.

(Copenhagen, Denmark; August 2020)


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Living among boxes

One sunny evening in August, a van arrived outside of my door. There were boxes, lots of boxes. Some furniture, and paintings. I had not taken a look at them in two years. And all had to be carried up and unwrapped.

I am living among boxes again. It has been nine years since last time around, and back then I spent the best of three years with at least a handful of boxes stacked somewhere in my apartment. For quite a while, two boxes even served as a sofa table. There was just too much life to unpack, back then. The last few only disappeared when my mother firmly took me shopping for a sideboard, which ate up my office and creativity items.

That sideboard is now here in Copenhagen. Somewhere along the way, its door got torn out by the hinges. Life batters us all up along the way. Some things are repairable, others remain broken but functional. I am still waiting for news from the manufacturer whether this sideboard will ever bear a door again, or whether the now-visible chipboard inside needs to be patched up with a piece of pretty wallpaper.

I am still patching up my own self. Sometimes it feels like a lifelong procedure, and if it is, it will be okay. Perhaps that is how it is for all of us, and we just do not speak about it much.

(Copenhagen, Denmark; August 2020)


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Flying in COVID-times, part II

Still six months ago one could order Kyrö distillery’s world-famous gin-and-tonic cocktail in Finnair business class. Now, going home there was no business class and no alcoholic drink service, only sachets of Kyrö distillery’s hand disinfectant gel. Times change.

The disinfectant came with a surface wipe for devices, armrests, and tray table, as well as a little booklet reassuring the passenger about the safety of cabin air. Perhaps it was required, as the two-by-two -seated Embraer 190 was packed with passengers going to Copenhagen.

For a while now, taxis in Copenhagen have had a protective screen between driver and passenger. It does lack in style compared to old-fashion limousine screens with little shuttable windows. Guess there is no going back in time.

Also, the screen carries a big bottle of – you guessed it – hand sanitizer. And as of mid-August, wearing a mask in the cab became a requirement, both for drivers and passengers.

(Copenhagen, Denmark; July 2020)


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An asylum by the sea

If the inhabitants of Lapinlahti mental hospital would have been well, I had envied them for their backyard views. Sitting there by my own free will, sipping my café-bought kombucha, I hope it gave them at least a tiny millimeter of peace and hope every day.

The Emperor of Russia gave an order to build an asylum for those needing psychiatric care, and Lapinlahti opened its doors in 1841, among the first mental hospitals in Europe. Until 2008 it has housed patients, and so so many individual destinies, hopes, fears, illusions, and disillusions.

The house is nestled in the nook of a shallow bay, surrounded landside by lush green parkland. Such a lovely place to find oneself when one is lost. Unfortunately it is never quite that simple.

(Helsinki, Finland; July 2020)


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(Nearly) no coronavirus

Over here there really isn’t much coronavirus… the cases can still be counted on two hands. And yet we are only an hour’s drive away from Helsinki. Naturally, if I would bring coronavirus with me from Denmark the entire town would know about it within a week.

Five weeks in this beautiful green bubble have gone by fast. Wish I could stay longer. Waking up to cranes in the wheat fields and crows in the spruce trees corrects my priorities every morning.

(Loviisa, Finland; July 2020)