This blue marble

– and yet it spins

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Stillness, ilam tea, and tales of Patagonia

180southPerhaps once in our lives (or twice, if we are lucky), a simple idea becomes a quest. Not because the idea is somehow once-in-a-lifetime, but because we let it carry us to unknown territory. We listen to it. We jump aboard. And if we use our intuition as much as our brain, we might end up with an impact greater than we imagined. For example, for Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins, deciding to lay a new climbing route in Patagonia in the 60s turned out to become a lifelong mission to protect precious dwindling wilderness. Between the climbing and the planet-saving, there was a climbing gear company renamed Patagonia, another two garment and outdoor companies founded and sold (North Face and Esprit), and suddenly enough capital to buy land, piece by piece, in Southern Chile and Argentina.

I have mentioned the story before. This time I followed 180 degrees down South with a professional surfer who decided to repeat the trip from the 60s, to find his own mission, and to uncover the roots of the story of the two friends who ended up becoming my inspiration for responsible business and protecting the planet.

(Helsinki, Finland; April 2016)

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Looking up

If I were a painter, I would paint the play of light in Stockholm old town. I would sit on a rooftop with a canvas and colors and paint the light of the setting spring sun hitting the ochre and sand colored walls of houses.

But because I am just a businesswoman getting a breath of fresh air after work, with no canvas or colors, I use what I have: my iPhone and my memory.

When was the last time you walked in a city and looked up? Try it. It’s worth it, especially when the sun shines.Gamlastan-3(Stockholm, Sweden; April 2016)

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I need the sea because it teaches me


I need the sea because it teaches me,
I don’t know if I learn music or awareness,
if it’s a single wave or its vast existence,
or only its harsh voice or its shining
suggestion of fishes and ships.
The fact is that until I fall asleep,
in some magnetic way I move in
the university of the waves.

(Pablo Neruda)

seashore-2(Helsinki, Finland; April 2016)



Cassandra-2Our world requires us to constantly know and to feel. It pushes us to question and to process. We must remember, analyze, and accept. Or resist, and act. Each moment we must take a stand, armed with thoughts, feelings, and information. But there are short parentheses where we simply Are, in that space beyond knowing and remembering, between feeling happy and feeling sad. These are the moments when we forget that we have a body in this world, and where things are much simpler.

Mostly this happens when we are in a deep, dreamless sleep. Or when we experience a deep meditative state. My four-legged Zen master knows how it can be done in a wake state. I am convinced I can do it, too, without growing fur and a tail.Cassandra(Helsinki, Finland; April 2016)



yogatoesSamastitihi. The first word  you may hear in a lead ashtanga yoga class (provided there is no opening chant). Samastitihi. Stand at the front edge of your mat, feet together, heels just slightly apart, spreading your toes (if you can – I never seem to manage). Legs engaged, spine straight, arms relaxed but ready for action on your sides, gaze forward. Then push your toes down against the ground.

It’s all about the ground, and grounding. Even if it may look like a call into action. Samastitihi is about finding your balance just by standing still, truly feeling your center of weight settle down on its vertical axis. In samastitihi, a body could grow roots through the mat and into the ground, and leaves from the head. In samastitihi, the body could pull up energy from the ground, run it through the spine, and push it out through the top of the head.

Unless you practise yoga (or do military service), when have you last stood still? When did you last stand with your feet together instead of kind of hanging on one foot, or with your arms on your sides instead of crossing them anywhere on your body? When was the last time you stood still, gazing in one direction only? When did you last stand grounded, aware of how gravity of our huge Earth does its best to pull down every bone in your body while you keep holding your head up high?

Samastitihi is about coming back to the present moment. Being aware of the Earth that pulls us with all its might, but standing straight. It is about standing in a mindful stillness, instead of kind of hanging upright, or running around, or sitting down slouching. And the best thing is, samastitihi does not require a yoga mat or flexibility, only the readiness to steady one’s body and mind and to be willing to say to oneself: “this is me, living this moment, with my back straight and my gaze forward.”

(Helsinki, Finland; April 2016)




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If the sky were yellow

stockholmairOn the ground our world might seem green like the deep green spruce forests. It might be a burnt ochre like the Saharan desert, or yellow, like the fields in August. But seen from the outside, our world is blue. Blue like the sky – even if one is in the sky looking down at the world. So perhaps, then, it is the sky that is blue, between us and the world?

From the stratosphere, our marble is blue because of the sunlight that scatters in the oxygen- and nitrogen-rich sky. If we had more sulphur in the sky our marble would be yellow like Venus – but we would not be able to breathe, at least not with our current physiology.

Yellow is the color of the sun, energy, and joy. It is also the color of warning, both in traffic and on a wasp. Whereas blue is calming, quieting, and heart-rate lowering, like the constant sky and sea. But what if we lived on Venus? Would we then be conditioned to feel calm, secure, and at peace when surrended by yellow?

Random thoughts in the stratosphere above Stockholm on an April evening.

(Stockholm, Sweden; April 2016)

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Borders are a human invention – part II

loviisaforest-1Borders are a human invention. Ownership of anything is a human invention. We cannot function without slicing and dividing this planet into pieces, each claiming ownership of one plot – or several. In society at any age in history, landless people were always the sorriest lot. In many countries owning land is common, whereas in other cultures the divide between land owners and the landless is broad and deep.

But Nature knows no borders. Nature owns everything. And so we must work to keep the borders between my father’s forest and the neighbor’s forest clear and visible. Yet I could not find the borders of our forest if I tried. A rock here, a cleared corridor there. Fortunately we have no fences as animals know of no borders either.

As we walked around, trying to get a feel of which turf and tree is owned by whom, I got a sinking feeling of being a badly programmed human. Because I would easily overlook any border and happily chop off a christmas tree in the neighbor’s forest. And I thought of a passage from my favorite poem in the whole world, “Progressive insanities of a pioneer” by Margaret Atwood:

He stood, a point
on a sheet of green paper
proclaiming himself the centre

with no walls, no borders
anywhere; the sky no height
above him, totally un
and shouted:

Let me out!

loviisaforest.3(Loviisa, Finland; March 2016)

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Spring sunset at 20,000 ft

abovebalticSome take the bus to work. I take the ATR-72 prop plane. Some admire the sunset over the city when going home. I admire the sunset over the Baltic Sea, from 20,00 ft above. And this week was the first week of the year when we flew home before darkness sank over us.

As I sat up there I thought again of the immense trail of carbon I keep leaving behind, and how to be kinder to the planet. To be continued, soon…

(Above the Baltic Sea; March 2016)