Monthly Archives

April 2016

Good Life

On Running

April 27, 2016
Running in Westerpark, Amsterdam. I remember it was sunny and windy. I remember being surprised I could still run 8 kilometres!

Running in Westerpark, Amsterdam. I remember it was sunny and windy. I remember being surprised, I could still run 8 kilometres!

I never did sports when I was a kid. However, I did run around the fields, climb in trees and jump in muddy puddles and ditches all day long. To shock a little all the non-Finnish readers: I also never went to kindergarten and started school only at the age of seven. By high school I had obviously stopped playing catch outside till midnight and tried to start jogging – that’s how it was called back in the day – to have a little bit of counter balance with spending time indoors and reading. Running felt terrible and I always barely made it to my grandparents’ house, which was two kilometres away from my home. My grandmother offered me an extensive meal and my granddad drove me back home in his car. During the visits my grandparents would point out several times what a tough girl I was to run such a long distance (I think in their eyes I was still two years old) and they also always praised me for all my small achievements in life so far. As a result, I never felt really bad after these failed attempts of trying to become a runner.

Then I entered the university. I was reading more and more and gaining weight at the same time. Finally my boyfriend gave me a gym membership as a birthday present and against all my prejudices, I went to the gym for the first time of my life. It turned out that I loved it and after a while I also started running on a treadmill. I think I started from six minutes at a time, but the day came when I could run on the treadmill for half an hour and it felt good. I started running outside and longer and longer distances. This was probably in 2003. For years I ran almost every day. I never checked on my pulse, I never knew exactly how long or far I had run. People were always very surprised to hear that running was my hobby and most of the times the discussion went around the reasons why they don’t run: “I have bad knees” or the other legendary “I get this terrible ache in my chest if I run”.

Running in Eiranranta, south of Helsinki in March when the ice in the sea has just melted.

Running in Eiranranta, south of Helsinki, in March when the ice in the sea has just melted.

For years my hobby continued the same way: a solitary exercise that nobody wanted to talk about. Then something strange happened. Other people started running too and completely new topics to talk about arouse around running. Now the first thing people asked was: which race are you training for? I had never run to prepare for a race. I have participated in some, especially now that there is such a big selection of running events: you can rock and run, nightrun, mudrun, run in the forest, highways or mountains not to even mention all the marathon races. This is of course absolutely fantastic! Let all people run and be healthy! However, it made me think my running had become somehow inferior and still I had nothing to talk about my running with the other runners, because I was not interested in measuring my performances or going to a lot of crowded running events and eating the gels that make your stomach go upside-down.

Now I have had a long, long break in active running, so I can just tell everyone I run when I can and that’s it. It’s difficult not to add that I was actually the first original running hipster and now that running has become so mainstream, I stopped. What a blessing that I can write it here that you all know! The break and decreased quantity of running, however, made me realise what my running is all about. I run to feel my body is alive and not to go crazy inside my head. It is meditation: an exercise of letting go of all the troubles I happen to have in my life. If I add there any elements of competition or performance – gel or Vaseline – the meditative part is gone. It is not about how fast or far, but about going. I like my running!

Good Life

Don’t Talk to Me. Let’s be Really, Really Quiet.

April 21, 2016
Kamppi Chapel, also called the "Chapel of Silence" on the side of a busy Narinkka square in Helsinki: music to your ears and eyes!

Kamppi Chapel, also called the “Chapel of Silence” on the side of the busy Narinkka square in Helsinki: music to your ears and eyes!

I think something’s gone really wrong in my brain when it comes to enjoying having people and life around me, and still appreciating quiet and silence to the extent that I cannot live without them. Having been born and raised in the Finnish countryside I’m used to having an audible silence descend upon my good night’s sleep in the evenings. In our new home in Helsinki the effect is very much the same – just a distant hum of the city in the background – and I have to admit I love it.

However, every time I walk out the door, I’m slightly disappointed by the absence of people, cars, bikes and urban troubadours who can only play that one damn song with their saxophone and are so lazy that for the three months that they stand playing outside your balcony, they cannot make an effort to learn at least one more song… Even for example Brother John or Mary Had a Little Lamb. Anything?! I think I’ve come to the age when you feel angry that you cannot have everything, including noisy and quiet at the same time. Who would have guessed that this is how your life turns out!

But seriously speaking, research shows that chronic noise is very bad for the brain: “Numerous studies now show that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills and have lower reading scores.” Read more here. I do not find this result very surprising, because it is extremely difficult for me to concentrate, learn or understand new things in a noisy environment, not to mention how it can mess up your sleep. Noise and sounds just get my attention immediately and it’s a struggle to block them off. I have earlier thought that kids do not mind noise as much as adults, but the first weeks when I took my girl to the daycare and when I picked her up and asked how your day was, she’d respond: “Don’t talk to me, let’s be really, really quiet!” We are all of course a little different in this respect (too), as my husband can have music on, watching football while reading.

What I find very interesting is that we also know that noise and sounds do not only travel from your ear to your brain, but the other way as well: from your brain to your ear. Because of this when you switch off sounds completely, you can still hear… what your brain wants you to hear. Spooky, right? Read more (intelligent comments) here. Whatever amount of silence you need, I think we all need it sometimes, so wherever you are, take a moment to find a quiet corner, sit down and listen. Or you could also hop on a plane and come and listen to what your brain wants you to hear in the land of silence and quiet called Finland. We have a lot of silence here: inside the amazingly well isolated houses, in the countryside, in the forests, in the parks, between people. 😉 And whatever you may think, I say there is a lot of beauty in that abundance of quiet.

Amos Anderson museum offers exhibitions primarily on Finnish 20th century art. There is also a small chapel where you can rest your tired feet and mind.

Amos Anderson museum offers exhibitions primarily on Finnish 20th century art. There is also a small chapel where you can rest your tired feet and mind. Quiet is a relative concept: in this chapel you can listen to classical music.


My Spring Style Tips for Colder Climates

April 14, 2016

I love to look for style inspiration – especially in Pinterest. For more than a month already it’s been super easy to find a lot of new spring outfits and ideas. However, a lot of the inspiration comes from warmer climates and as lovely as the skirts, dresses, leather jackets and pumps look like in the pictures, they are far too cold for the Nordic spring… unless you are a teenager. Teenagers can follow and execute the summer trends in -30 degrees or alternatively wear winter boots in the summer. It’s ok, they can do that, I don’t mind, because I on the other hand have been going out in ski pants for the last three months. Going out with a kid to the playgrounds is just utterly boring if you cannot go on the slide yourself every now and then (read: all the time until your child wants to go home).

Well, for the month of January I actually walked around the parks of south Helsinki in my husband’s ski jacket and pants from the 1990s, because I had given up all my winter gear during the five years in Amsterdam. The colours (black and yellow) and style were actually pretty nice and fashionable again, but somehow three sizes too big clothes always give out a baggy impression, no matter how nice they are otherwise. Finally in February, I bought a really good pair of ski pants with an avalanche detector; it’s good to be on the safe side with those toddlers and playgrounds.

From this perspective now being able to go out in jeans and saying good-byes to my ski-crazy alter ego feels extremely liberating. And do not try to force that sportswear trend upon me, I will not get onboard! So what could you wear to make your Nordic April not feel and look like the previous three months? See my tips below.

Do something new with your hair. However, do not ruin your hair just in a spring fever. I will not take responsibility if you do that.

Buy new cool sunglasses, because you need them and they will take you through the summer as well!

Get a thinner beanie so when the sun comes out the woollen one won’t tickle your forehead. Or a floral beanie or a head band!

Get a pair of cool jeans. Try out a new color or model. They might also take you through the summer if it never gets warmer than this. 😉