This blue marble

– and yet it spins

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New beginnings

newcareerMy new Copenhagen slow life got to an even slower start thanks to the coronavirus. Not only did I get the chance to focus on only one job project, I found myself without a single airline booking, business or private, for the first time in 20 years. What did I do? Wake up at 7 am, have a stretch and a breakfast smoothie, and read a book before work. Go for mid-afternoon runs. Run brainstorming workshops using MS Teams and a virtual post-it note and whiteboard app. Run meetings with country operating company management via Zoom. Everybody has to use video, otherwise it’s so easy to multitask and not be properly present in the meeting.

And I have been rethinking my career. What do I like about my work? What don’t I like? In which circumstances and environment do I perform best? And, most importantly, what is the impact I want to create on this planet and the living things on it? I love the work I have been doing until now, but is it time to stretch further? Would someone believe it, and give me a chance to try?

I have lists of base-case jobs and stretch jobs. There are lists of organizations in Denmark, and elsewhere in the EU. Lists of headhunters. Even a list of alternative cities around Europe, ranked based on most livable -rankings, expat quality of life, job opportunities, and taxation. For the first time in my life I am really using LinkedIn, beyond just updating my CV and liking one or two posts from my network. Two trustworthy friends are also helping me out: a notebook from UN City which I received from my sister, and granpa’s 1970s mahogany-handle Ballograf Epoca pen. (In case you have one, too: I discovered it likes Caran D’Ache ballpoint refills).

(Copenhagen, Denmark; March 2020)

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There are no travels on my calendar, for the first time in 20 years. My only planned travel is to the grocery store, the market, and the healthy living shop, twice weekly. Is it bliss? Perhaps. Yet, traveling has not always been bliss, either. Here is my list of recent mishaps:

2019 No mishaps. Would have been total bliss in Spain, but my grandfather passed away while I was there.

2018 Earthquakes on Bali. It just kept shaking, for weeks. We were lucky to not be on Lombok or the Gilis.

2017 Seriously infected blister on foot in Namibia. The doctor was concerned about bone infection and gave me a heavy dose of near-last-line antibiotics. I could not walk well for a week which meant boat duty every day (observing dolphins, not so bad!).

2016 Post-op recovery on Bali. I had a torn meniscus and my knee ligaments were generally mangled by too much running.

2015 Dog bite on Bali. Spent half of my time there chasing rabies vaccines across the island, as stocks were low. Even if I had been immunized for rabies previously. “WHO protocol”, I was told.

2013 Appendicitis in Berlin (and a centipede bite in Kenya). I had surgery on day 2 and spent my week-long holiday at the Charité, on the 20th floor, either in the psych ward (why?!) or the post-op, filled with dying cancer patients. It was… interesting.

There was also a work trip to Stockholm once, where I crashed in a Segway on a karting track and had a mild concussion. The next day I found out I had two broken ribs, thanks to the pain that shot through me when I laughed.

All these calamities were minor. I was hospitalized only once. There were no repercussions, and I am still alive and healthy. Also, there were good times every time. For example when I was permitted to leave the hospital in Berlin and cleared to fly home the same night, at the end of the holiday (see here for the full post):

“Outside of Charite university hospital, I heaved myself grimacing into a taxi after my sister.
She: “schloss Bellevue, bitte.”
Taxi driver with big eyes: “jetzt?!”
Me in bad German/Dutch/English: um… Ich will laufen (‘lopen’ means ‘walk’ in Dutch but ‘run’ in German)
Taxi driver: “JETZT?!”
My sister: “no she means walk, spatzieren”
Me feebly: “ich habe Urlaub in hospital… Ich muss zurück nach Finland heute abend”
Taxi driver decides it better to stop asking and just drive the crazy tourists.”

(Copenhagen, Denmark; March 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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Spotted: spikey

Spotted in the Helsinki airport baggage claim hall bathroom. Along with a bunch of other cute animal friends. This bathroom, like the other ones at the airport, is also decorated with wonderful birdsong which seems to make them more spacious and fresh. Ambiance matters.

(Helsinki airport, Vantaa, Finland; October 2019)

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Walking meetings rock

cowsdkThe prettiest work meeting location. Lots of energy for performance indeed. Why do I not conduct walking meetings much more often? As my primary office (aside from home-office) is in London, I should really try to remember the beautiful little park we have across the street.

(I thought our Copenhagen office was in the middle of an industrial district – until my colleague showed me these meadows and cows.)

(Copenhagen, Denmark; June 2019)