Asides

Sinusitis is a nasty lurgy. I’ve solid experience of this strange disease now, as it has been my (too) faithful friend for more than 2 weeks. It started as a “normal” flu, which then got stuck in the sinus.

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Looks funny, eh? Acupuncture socks – a true ex tempore purchase from the Danish shop “Tiger”, which sells miscellanous stuff you didn’t think you’d need, now in Helsinki too. Anyway, maybe I’ll return these ones, as I fell ill with a flu despite the pressuring treatment offered by my boyfriend.

Then, the dear doctor prescribed me antibiotics and antihistamine, which I took scrupulously for 10 days – for nothing, it seems! Last Sunday the pills ran out and I was still feeling really tired and run-down… Especially at the office: the smallest task seemed like the most complicated project of the year.

Luckily I was mature enough to go and visit the doctor again this morning – and the simple (and so difficult) truth of this life was confirmed once more: if you’re feeling ill it’s because you’re ill.

To my own surprise, I even had a light fever in the morning! And sinusitis is still there, going strong. No surprise. So the doctor prescribed me even stronger antibiotics and antihistamine. As stupid as a feverish person can be, I then biked to the office as I’m “absolutely irreplaceable”, hehe… Anyway, my colleagues were wiser and told me to go home early.

So at 4pm I was already lying on the sofa with woolen socks on, drinking tea and watching stupid daytime TV. A program called “Swedish Millionaire Mothers” just finished, and now there is Finnish Top Model going on. But I’m ill and allowed to do and watch anything I want! I’m only not allowed to get up from this sofa. And the boyfriend is entitled to pamper me – luckily he’s good at it (and I think/hope he likes it too…)

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This is the autumn view from our sofa – not a bad one, at all! Luckily, because the last weeks I’ve spent more time on this sofa than in many months before…

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Baana – the newish bicycle route combining the centre of Helsinki with Ruoholahti. A great invention! Even if it looks very grey these days – like everything here.

However, last Sunday – the last day of taking antibiotics – I tried to convince myself that now I’m perfectly fine and healthy! Little did I know. The sun was shining, so I took my camera and went for a short walk alone – noticing that it’s not normal to sneeze every 5 minutes… Anyway, mentally this was a good thing for me, as I had been mostly inside the flat for the whole week.

We live in the centre, Southern Helsinki, very close to the sea… So I decided to say walk there and say hello to my beloved friend.

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Amazing! I had never noticed these stairs near our flat. It’s so important to walk slowly and look around every once in a while.

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Everyday beauty.

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Jätkäsaari Harbour

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Friends! It’ll be my birthday in the end of October… And this beauty is being sold. Just an idea. 😉

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Jätkäsaari Harbour – this ferry goes to San Petersburg.

IThe sea… Why do so many people love it? We really do, as the BBC article People really do like to be beside the seaside, study says explains.

“Why do we love the sea? It is because it has some potent power to make us think things we like to think.
Robert Henri

I agree! And primitively speaking, it makes us people to feel safe to contemplate the horizon – and know that no enemies are approaching that way.

Anyway, I continued my walk towards Kaivopuisto and noticed – to my big joy – that another “Baana”, bicycle route has been opened here, also on old railway tracks. Great job, City of Helsinki!

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Kaivopuisto – finally at the sea. This view is curious – the water in the front is actually an artificial bond.

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Cafe Ursula – a recommendable place by the sea in Kaivopuisto.

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Sinusitis is a nasty friend but Helsinki can be pretty – even in October

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One of my favourite spots which I pass by when I go running near home. This morning everything looked so pretty with the sun, sea and the green trees.

This Saturday we have excellent weather here in Helsinki. Once again I understood how amazingly appealing the city can be when it wants to… I slept well, went for a morning run and in the afternoon my aunt and the family of my cousin came for a visit and we enjoyed (too much) ice cream and talked about our lives. My cousins live in Charlottesville, Washington D.C., so I see them very rarely. Luckily now they’ll spend a whole year here in Helsinki.

Talking about this and that my aunt suddenly asked me the question:

– Do you like your work?

– No, I answered – with an emphasis.

Before thinking about it, my lips had spoken. Then I started with all the explications: well, of course it’s not that bad, my colleagues are really nice and the subject in itself is very interesting, as we’re working for a better world in the NGO… It’s just the feeling that my job description does not match what I would be able to do. I feel that days pass by while doing a bit of this and that but I’m never able to engage myself thoroughly in anything. My tasks are too fragmented.

I loved the answer of my aunt: “Well, then it’s time to change”, she said placidly and then we moved on to other subjects.

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Change. It seems so simple and so many people are changing their lives all the time. So what holds me back?

“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.” 
― Albert Einstein

I guess my problem is typical: I don’t know what I want. More or less yes, but not in detail. For a half a year now, I’ve been pondering a lot on what I really want from life. Not easy. However, every day I get more and more convinced that, even if there’s nothing wrong with my work or with my life, I really need to react as soon as possible. Otherwise days, months and years pass by while I’m doing something that’s “ok” but not “amazing”.

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” 
― Lewis Carroll

Many of my friends have similar feelings this spring, so we’ve discussed the subject a lot. Everyone has a different situation but in the end it’s all about the same things. Change. I just read 10 signs it’s time to change your job I found, and I don’t fill all of them. However, many things are valid for me too, and this is only one list.

For example I know I’m not performing to the best of my ability. I’d love to do more meaningful things. I also need to get challenged a bit – with myself. Yesterday I met a friend, who also knows my colleagues, and someone had commented that I don’t seem that enthusiastic anymore at work as in the beginning. That is true, unfortunately. I never want to become cynical.

I have also looked for ways to improve the current situation but our organisation isn’t that big and there is quite a strong culture of doing things in a certain way – like in many places. So, change tends to be slow…

Sometimes I also feel that I can’t get enough positive reinforcement to keep my spirits up. This is a typical problem in Finland – lack of positive feedback. They say that everything goes well when nobody says anything.

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” 
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Well, here I am home alone on a Saturday evening pondering on my life and my future. Actually I’m feeling positive and peaceful, as I know the change will come and that it will be for better. These days I’ve had the necessity to spend some time with myself and my thoughts, while normally I’m a very sociable people and spend most of my free time accompanied. Now, I feel that for being able to implement wise changes in one’s life you need to stop, think a lot, imagine the future you want, make lists, mind maps or whatever. Then, some unexpected moment The Change is there and you’ll be ready for it – either it comes to you or you have found it as you knew where to look for…

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” 
― Anaïs Nin

PS: I’ve been also reading a lot of quotes on life and change, as I like this form of concise expression (being un impatient person) and I get many inspiring ideas there. So, here I share a few.

“These woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.” 
― Robert Frost

Change – what a wonderful word

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Today, I took part in a fundraising seminar for NGOs. This was the second work-related (fundraising) seminar in short time, so I’m really getting “educated”… Well, there’s still a long way to become a professional. But the subject is a very interesting, even if the NGO I work with doesn’t do fundraising and I work in communications, not in making people feel the urge to donate.

One of today’s sessions was very interesting. The lecture was given by Riikka Kämppi, the lady who lead the presidential campaign for Pekka Haavisto, of whom I wrote earlier in Is It Possible to Have a Gay President in Finland? In the end it wasn’t, as he got second, but the electoral campaign was an authentic success story.

Kämppi told us that they started the campaign in a desperate situation. The Green Party, Vihreät, had lost in the parliamentary elections, Haavisto’s support was at 3% (compared to the most popular one, the current president Sauli Niinistö, whose support was about 60%).

However, right from the start the goal of the campaign was to win – too much modesty is rubbish. Only that the campaign budget was 100 000€, so I guess many thought the idea was totally crazy.

Sounds familiar nowadays… Credit: Future Fundraisingnow. com.

Kämppi shared some valuable advice with us – and they are valid for many kinds of projects. Here some of them…

  • Be completely honest about your goals, especially internally. For example, everyone inside the Green Party saw the campaign Powerpoints and knew exactly about the campaign’s goals.
  • If your own means are scarce, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Most people are willing and even desiring to do that, when asked in a right way.
  • If you have little money, target it wisely and leave out all the less relevant things. Even if people get angry.
  • Copy the best ideas from others – it’s perfectly fine.
  • Let people participate using and creating different ways and channels. And let them do it NOW, as things go by fast, epecially in social media, and our memory is short.
  • Wonderful ideas get spontaneously born among “your fans”. Social media played a key role in this campaign, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube are very cheap and you can reach an amazing amount of people in short time. As the message spread, people started to make cookies, art work, signs in the snow or whatever with the significant number 2. They also donated a lot of money – the final budget was more than 700 000€!

This flashmob and video was independently created by supporters of Pekka Haavisto. Amazing! Finlandia is kind of a national anthem of Finland, a very meaningful song.

Last but not least, don’t be afraid of conflicts! Kämppi told us that now, when she introduces an idea to people and everyone agrees, she thinks the idea must be too lame. If something makes people strongly oppose, there’s probably something good there. 🙂

Tips for a great campaign

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Today I’ve been working from home office, well, actually from a cafe near our home in Kamppi. The place is called Deli&Cafe Martta and it’s a very comfortable place, owned by The Martha Organisation, a traditional Finnish home economics NGO, founded in 1899, to promote the quality and standard of life in Finnish homes.

They also organise courses on ecological cooking etc – and bake excellent korvapuusti pulla – a cinnamon bun called “slapped ear” for its form. I even found a recipe in English on ScandinavianFood.com.

The smell of fresh bun is amazingly strong here, the sun is shining in and they have brought fresh daffodils to my table… Summa summarum: a hundred times better option than sitting in the boring office!

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Martha Deli delicacies - if you get too hungry to work...

Working from “home” is one of my tricks to fight the spring anxiety. It always arrives more or less at the same time. I get a strong feeling that I want something has to change: I need new ideas, challenges and adventures, traveling away and all that”exciting” stuff. Life seems too routinous and common . I have no idea why this suddenly to me, every spring.

Before, when I got this feeling, I started to look for a new job. However, this time I’m (still) quite happy working in the NGO where I started 1,5 years ago. Everything is relative: some friends say that I should stay here for a while and “get established” while others are surprised that I’ve been in the same job already for more than a year!

Well, I haven’t been changing jobs that much – and normally the reason has not been me, as my previous contracts have been of temporal nature – that’s very typical here in Finland that the university graduates must jump between various temporary jobs before someone gives them a “real job”, with a permanent contract and all the benefits it includes.

I hope this anxiety will go away with small substitutes: walking in the sunshine, working less, hanging out with friends. For example tonight we’re going to Literary Death Match at Korjaamo Culture Factory. There famous Finnish writers read examples from their books and judges choose the winner… The concept is created by Todd Zuniga, the editor of Opium magazine. Interesting.

Ah! Talking about recipes, yesterday I baked excellent bread (baking is a great way to relax too…). The recipe includes whole wheat flour, carrots, dried fried onion, linseeds and of course yeast, water and a bit of salt. Mmm. There’s nothing better than fresh, warm bread.

Bread with carrot and dried onion makes you happy.


Sun, cinnamon buns and spring anxiety

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