This blue marble

– and yet it spins


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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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Midsummer in the country

midsummer-1No shoes were not quite appropriate for the summer photo above. But you see, the grass was still a little cool and dewy from the nightless night.

The sun did not set until nearly 11 pm here in the South of Finland. We ate at a long table out under the apple trees. There were macarons and calvados for dessert. And it never quite got dark. midsummer-2(Loviisa, Finland; June 2020)


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Stilleben with a lamp

apt-2A still life with my landlady’s lamp, a meditation pouf, and a new book case from Ikea. Save for a few pieces lent by my landlady, this case, a new couch, and my Double Bubble lamp, I am living out of a suitcase and a few boxes. Here’s to hoping I will finally get my belongings out of storage in Finland and over to Denmark, after two years of gathering dust.

(Copenhagen, Denmark; May 2020)


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Shopping in 2020

ikeaShopping in 2020 means longer lines to any shop on Saturday mornings than to a night club on Saturday night (and night clubs are all closed anyway). It means disinfecting one’s hands several times a day, and wiping off the smartphone screen when arriving at home. Washing hands before putting food away, and washing hands once done.

Mostly, it means being suspicious of every person one meets – at a time when solidarity is needed more than ever. And it means intentional shopping, for once: carefully weighing whether my need for a couch is worth risking my health. (Yup, you guessed it. I am not one of Darwin’s chosen ones: I went for the couch…)apt-1(Copenhagen, Denmark; May 2020)


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My ride

bikeMy brand new Copenhagen ride: a healthy alternative for public transport especially now in coronavirus-times. Heavy and granny-style, in a color what we in Finnish call “poison green” – but just a touch velvety. Hopefully inconspicuous and less attractive for resale, as bike thefts are everyday occurrences here (so common that each home insurance typically has bike theft insurance specifically included).

The problem is, I like my ride a lot already. It will be such a bummer day when it is snatched from me.

(Copenhagen, Denmark; March 2020)


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Everyday hero

BritaThis everyday hero changed my Copenhagen life. The water here is so hard that one droplet leaves a white ring on any surface when it dries. The soil of the houseplants is turning white after just one month of watering. Tea tastes like clay water and cups need manual scrubbing or 2 dishwasher tablets to clean off. Not to mention the tea kettle which is covered in white sediment just after two weeks’ use.

Enter the Brita filter jug. Now water tastes smooth and almost a little bitter, like rainwater. The tea kettle seems to actually clean itself up slowly. And I bet the rainforest plants like rainwater better than limestone water. The only downside with this little wonder is that it is substantial in size but only filters 600 mL in one go, due to the hefty cartridge size. And the cartridge probably needs to be changed every month thanks to Copenhagen water.

Now if only someone installed something similar in the shower…

(Copenhagen, Denmark; March 2020)


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New views

CPH-4After one week’s intensive writing, spiced up by a proper common cold, I extracted myself from my quarters long enough to go for a walk. Without the ultimate purpose of either obtaining groceries or visiting an apartment up for rent, which had been my only outdoors activities in Copenhagen sofar.

What luxury. Even if the Nordhavn quays were windy. And so I followed my sister’s advice and continued the luxury with an insanely expensive lunch high in restaurant Silo. Up here above the harbor I found business people having open sandwiches and aquavit for lunch, on a working day. Well then, I enjoyed two glasses of Provence rosé and the tales of Mary Kingsley in West Africa. Why not, on a Thursday?

(Copenhagen, Denmark; January 2020)

 


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Sleep stories

There is something soothing about focusing one’s attention on a single voice which calmly and contentedly goes on about unimportant but poetic details. Like fuzzy, friendly bumblebees visiting a strawberry planting, or a base guitarist in a rock band who discovered that flowers were his true calling and opened a flower shop. I discovered the Headspace Sleepcasts when they were launched and have loved them since.

Like someone said, I, too, would love to listen to the Night Town sleepcast lady read a phone book. Who is she? Also the narrator of Rainday Antiques and Slow Train seems to have friends. He does sound a little like Sir David Attenborough. Wish it was less of a mystery!

(Copenhagen, Denmark; February 2020)


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My favorite yin yoga sequence

flowerLovely ones, something quite different for a change: my favorite yin yoga sequence. Why? Because yin yoga complements both daily stress as well as most types of workout, including ashtanga yoga. Yin poses first stretch the muscles open and then go to work on the connective tissue: the fascia, tendons, and ligaments. Not only are knotted muscles relieved, but blood flow into joints increases, as does overall flexibility.

The trick is to find a version of a pose that works for your body. One that is challenging but soft enough to allow you to stay in it for at least two minutes, preferably four or longer. Any stretches that make you grind your teeth and sweat within thirty seconds have no place in yin yoga.

I believe in a yin practice designed for each individual body and its issues, depending on how it is built and how it is exercised. Here is my routine, and why I love each pose. Links lead to photos, instructions, and summary of benefits.

  1. Spinal twist, first gently with both legs bent and perhaps one hand pushing the top knee down. For me this works more on the IT tendon and fascia on the outside of the thigh than it does on the spine.
  2. Spinal twist, the deep version with one leg straight along the spine line and the other bent, knee nearing the floor. Both twists are essential for the health of my back and I sometimes do these in bed, first thing in the morning.
  3. Broken (or open) wing pose. It was not easy to find a visual description of my version. To stretch my chest and shoulders I roll over the outstretched arm with a straight leg, placing the other leg on the outside of the straight one and supporting myself with my free hand. Great pose if you spend hours in front of the computer on a daily basis.
  4. Butterfly pose. This is not for hips or hamstrings, but for stretching the lower back. I place my forearms and elbows on the floor in front of my shins, hands facing forward. I stay for at least five minutes, beyond relaxing my lower back muscles, until I feel the ligaments loosen.
  5. Fire log pose. Stretches first the glutes and then the deep hip and piriformis. Hip opener for lotus pose. I usually lean over to one side, supporting my weight on my forearms and placing my forehead on the top foot.
  6. Half frog pose. Leads into frog pose but stretches different adductors for me, the ones that go tight from running.
  7. Frog pose. The idea is to ultimately have your shins, knees, and thighs on the floor, but I have never seen anyone able to do this. This pose is nearly unbearable for me at times of high stress or anxiety, because it stretches deep groin and hip muscles, where so much emotion resides. I also find this nearly unbearable during my period and tend to skip it at those times.
  8. Savasana, preferably as a heart-opener with a bolster or block under my spine to stretch my chest and shoulders.

(Copenhagen, Denmark; January 2020)