This blue marble

– and yet it spins


Leave a comment

Corona walks, volume twenty-eleven

Corona walks, alone or with friends, have become a favorite pastime of mine. This crisp September Saturday I strolled Østre Anlæg and Kastellet, my two favorite central Copenhagen parks, for 4 hours with a friend. We talked about living a creative life, hormonal hair loss and what ovulating feels like, how women’s proper dress is and is not described in the Quran (veils are not mentioned, by the way), and where to get good ice cream. Sometimes I want to run a mile when such topics are being brought forward, but today they felt necessary. Especially the ice cream.

(Kastellet, Copenhagen; September 2020)


2 Comments

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)


Leave a comment

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)


Leave a comment

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)


2 Comments

COVID-free and flying home

cphI have not been grounded for as long as 3 months in over 10 years. And because in Copenhagen I was unable to fly to see my colleagues AND to spend time with my family, in mid-June I challenged the lockdown and flew home to Finland for the summer.

In Denmark, anyone could sign up to be tested (or just walk/drive in these days) at any time, so I went for a test which delivered the results just in time for my flight. Over the summer, Denmark further implemented a COVID-19 negative -pass, downloadable and valid for 7 days after a PCR test.

Then I gathered the paperwork needed to back up my re-entry to Denmark: employment contract, rental agreement, and the yellow health insurance card. I packed for a month’s worth of varying Finnish summer weather (I ended up staying longer) and exchanged my previous Finnair cancellation voucher for a one-way ticket to Helsinki.

The airport was nearly shut down, including the lounges. We early morning birds had to choose from 7-Eleven or Joe & the Juice – you guessed it: the latter was where the crowd stood, trying to socially distance while waiting for breakfast. As there was no cabin service on the flight (face masks on during the entire flight), breakfast seemed like a good idea.flightBoarding with a Finnish passport was no trouble, although several other passengers were taken aside to get their paperwork in order. Crossing the border in Finland with a passport issued by the Copenhagen embassy was no issue, either, although on my both sides, foreign passport holders were digging up marriage certificates and work permits and quarantine addresses from their bags. I did not even need to give an address for quarantine nor sign a document where I vouched I would stay there for the first 14 days – such was still required some weeks previously.

Right now, in early August, several European borders are shutting up again after allowing holiday travelers in and out for roughly a month. This is the new normal – at least for another 1-2 years to come, depending on the efficiency and speed of the vaccine efforts. With some planning and luck, travel is still possible in 2020. covid(Copenhagen, Denmark; June 2020)


Leave a comment

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)


Leave a comment

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)


2 Comments

Loosening up

yarn”Pay attention to when it falls off,” the retreat lead told me last fall when she gave me this yarn bracelet. It would serve as a reminder of getting used to living with uncertainty – a topic I gave much attention during that weekend and afterward.

Well, on the last day in April the bracelet fell off. As I was holding my iPhone to photograph it, the phone rang – with a job offer in another company. I took it. And I finally quit my first real industry job, and a journey that started nine years ago, after I left academic research. It is time for another turning point in life, and a new direction.

Seems my Copenhagen slow life is going to be short-lived. After the summer, I will finally need to show up at a local office, most week days. For the first time in nine years, my team and manager will work in the same country and office as I. And I have yet another reason to update my life plan. More on that soon.

(Copenhagen, Denmark; April 2020)

 


Leave a comment

Travel journals

notebooksAfrica, Bali, Bali & Malaysia, Singapore & Bali, Spain. Wish I had written travel journals also from the Brazilian Amazon, Kenya, Nepal, and Crete. And even way before, during my previous life, from Thailand, the USA, and elsewhere. But I am glad I corrected my mistake and began to write. These journals have always served as raw material for my blog posts – and the blog posts may serve as raw material for something else I’m working on.

If you’re curious what journals I use: the two Soumkines on the right hold up well and the paper is sturdy and lovely, but they get quite blotchy in use.

The dark and medium blues are Moleskine Volants. Even those covers get worn out around the edges, but the book holds together well. I love the detachable sheets and always keep a Volant in reserve, in case I run out of pages but don’t need another entire notebook to complete the trip journal. I just tear out the pages I used, staple them together, and paste them to the back with a paperclip. The downside with Moleskine paper is that it bleeds through if you use liquid ink or more wet rollerball pens.

For trips where I know I will write a lot, the Daycraft journal is a winner. It is thicker, the paper is amazing, and the cover is a thick, bouncy soft material that stays neat. The burgundy journal went with me around Namibia and Zanzibar for two months and does not look any worse than it did when we set off.

(Copenhagen, Denmark; April 2020)


Leave a comment

New space

strandBeach, book, bike ride, and ice cream. All I need on a day off.

I lay down behind the tufts of grass, sheltered by the freezing spring wind blowing from the sea, and savored reading a book about journeys and being in constant motion by Olga Tokarczuk. This spring I have been more still than any other time the past twenty years – geographically. The constant motion within my head has been relentless, bubbling and prattling on like water in a brook. It has been a balance of raging frustrations and inspiring whispers.

And yet it has not been chaos, but the creation of something new. I belong to that half of people who discovered in the pandemic a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fill the time saved from no commutes and work trips with life planning, learning something new, and working on a creative project. Once social media filled up with protests of people who, instead of discovering the same as I ran into chaos, fear, and despair, I stopped gushing to people about all the things I could now fit into my day. But I made a daily schedule, and stuck to it – most days. The remaining few ones were reserved for beaches, books, bike rides, and ice creams.

(Amager strand, Copenhagen, Denmark; April 2020)