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Voices within & leaps of faith

Inner voice.

You know, that internal intercom thing that crackles into life every now and then to make public announcements of all kinds. We’re aware that it’s there, yammering away. Sometimes catnapping. It IS as fickle as a cat. But what is it exactly? A divine whisperer, the devil’s advocate, your evilish ego or just your thoughts that are accidentally on speaker mode.

Sometimes it reminds you of things that you have put into the procrastination drawer.

Sometimes it tells you to go. Or to stay.

On rainy days, it seems to remind you of things that you’d rather not even remember.

In arguments, it’s nice enough to take your side.

I think the inner voice is the version of me that sees BEYOND, but is not allowed to tell me. It is my soul speaking to me in fragmented whispers. It is knowledge in a pure form.

When it tells me something, I’d better listen.

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Without a tribe

When they say that a man is a social animal, I am not 100% sure it applies to Finnish folks.

In fact, I have often wondered why the very first settlers ever decided to stay. It is pretty damn obvious that they must have arrived here sometime between July the 15th and the day on which Jaakko throws the cold rock into the lake*), on one of those lucky indian summers where you get more than just the midnight sun and your hair actually dries between the “occasional” showers. They must have dragged their boat ashore and after an awkward silence, one of them must have said …

“[Grunt] eh, this isn’t too bad”.

Crickets.

And that would have been the extent of the conversation.

You see, I think our ancestors were banished from one of those Mediterranean countries where the people are hairy, the coffee is strong, family comes first, village comes second, and it is delightfully warm all the time. So, I’m pretty sure that all the villages over there used to have a village grump or two. You know, some bearded lumbersexuals, a squinty-eyed woman with too many secrets (& herbs), or a hermit that never got the hang of the local language and continued to order the espresso in grunts. Isn’t it quite plausible that at some point the jolly beach people of the future Riviera and Ibiza decided to gather up all these sourpusses, put them on a strong and study boat and … well, then gave the boat a hearty push.

Well, thanks for the all the hair, at least. I’m not sure how useful it is while floating around in the Mediterranean Sea, but it’s probably what kept those poor bastards alive when the first summer turned into a soggy autumn and finally to a blood-curdling white-out of a winter.

Enter SNOW. “[Grunt] What fresh hell is this?”

Finnish people, not the most sociable lot, they say. I’m pretty certain that the village grumps scattered minutes after the boat touched the shores of my homeland and lived on to establish the major towns of my beautiful country, … which is also why the names of our towns often sound like swearwords (Tampere!)

But that’s all imaginary history. Today, there is a thought that has been haunting my waking hours. And the thought is this: without a tribe, I shall perish. Without a herd, I will forever be a lonely nerd. The thought is saying that these imaginary ancestors were dead wrong. Hermitry is not an option. The lone wolf is a dead wolf **) Much like our ancestors, the lone wolf cried at the moon. Alone. (Have you heard any of our popular songs, btw? Very much the same thing.)

For a year or so, I have been involved in a social experiment (of my own devising) in which I retained only my 2 best friends and dropped out of any/all social circles I ever knew, yes, even Facebook. I was not invited to any parties, I attended zero girls’ night outs, I got only 2 happy birthday wishes, nobody liked my posts anywhere (including this blog) and you know what …  it was oddly liberating.

But the thing is … now I miss having a tribe. So, perhaps even a thoroughbred Finnish woman like myself is a social animal at heart. Maybe the sense of belonging and relatedness outweighs all the friction and noise? Maybe being a loner, the one who doesn’t need anyone, was never the choice.

Could it be, that we, the Finnish, have evolved from village grumps to … just “villagers”? Is this why have somehow managed to become less hairy than the tanned & happy folk who sent us on our way? To be more socially presentable 😀 ?

The trick is, you can not really choose a tribe. The tribe will choose you. And if you are lucky, the tribe is filled with people whose eyes sparkle with the same colour as yours. All I can do is move my hut a little bit closer to the village and see what happens.

*) 25.7

**) The legend of the lone wolf is epic, of course (the T-shirts .. not so much), but maybe in real life, the lone wolf wandered around the woodlands and tried to strike up a conversation with the elk and the occasional badger, never really finding kindred spirits with whom to share a toothy laugh and a carcass of two. Also, he was most likely a involuntary vegetarian, settling for moss and bark and pretending it was a tasty rabbit.

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Timing

When do I know
To let go?

When it’s too cold,
Should I release my hold
And swirl to the dirt
In my red autumn skirt?

When I grow weary
Of the same scenery?
Then, is it my time
My fingers to unbind?

Is there a whisper, like a breeze
To tell me “dear girl, pretty please
everybody’s already gone
It will be freezing by the dawn”

How can I tell
When to bid farewell?

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Deep sea creatures to the rescue

For the first time in my life, I am hoping that a strange, reclusive sea creature can help me. I never thought that I would pray to the gods of the sea, meet Ursula the many-tentacled witch, let alone have personal dealings with Mr Cuttlefish, my potential savior. But here I am, putting my trust in his eight arms and two tentacles.

BROADCLUB CUTTLEFISH

The story is this. I have been feeling a little bit under the weather lately (the weather in question being “temperate coniferous-mixed forest zone with cold, wet winters”, hahah!). I hate to be under the weather. I’d so much rather be over it already.

Anyway, our western MDs with their white coats and haughty dispositions got nothing for me. Zip. It is obvious and disconcerting at the same time to realize that there are common ailments that modern medicine knows diddly squat about. I’m talking about stress-related heartburn, but I could just as well be talking about so many other things.

Having finally come to the inevitable conclusion that there is no precision pill, no quick fix, no easy way out, I have had to to take matters into my own hands. Take charge. After months of careful study and excruciating self-analysis, I have realized that my problems are not specific, they are SYSTEMIC.

In fact, now that I think about it: MOST PROBLEMS ARE. How many real problems do you have that are just ripples on the surface of your inner wellness pool? If you have a real predicament, it is most probably a systemic thing. If it is not systemic, it is most probably not even a real problem (in which case, you should just forget about it!).

Most importantly, I have realized that systemic problems are fixable, but not with speedy, lightweight methods. Oh no, sir. 

Isn’t it one of the signs of our times that we expect there to be a speedy resolution. Some detour to which money grants access? 

Well, prepare yourself for a shocker. Even if there exists a detour, you should NOT take it. 

If you have a problem (work, self, health, family, money …), and you are tempted to fix it with something that is easy and convenient. Don’t do it, because …

1. Speedy methods will never ever fix the problem, they will disguise it and enable you to live with the problem even longer, thus making it worse.

2. You must take responsibility for yourself. Nobody else will. Commit to solving your problem. Don’t expect others to do it for you. If you keep waiting for others to fix your issues, you are placing your one precious life in the hands of others (who may not get round to fixing it).

3. The process of fixing the problem the right way, no matter how long it takes, is probably one of the best things that can happen for you. You will learn new things about yourself, and about the people around you. Plus, your capacity for empathy will double in size & you get free karma points.

Enter Mr Cuttlefish, i.e. SEPIA C30.

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Alternative approaches to medicine attempt to cure the entire system, not just provide band-aid solutions (see point #1 above). Yes, I’m talking about homeopathy. And yes, I have heard the joke about how diluted/deluded the homeopathic meds are 😀 Personally, I like to entertain a delusion or two per day. It keeps me sane. Well, one of the pretty round pills I got from a local practitioner contains SEPIA, the special “secret weapon”of Mr Cuttlefish. I find this fascinating. But more about Mr C-fish in the next blog. For now, it is sufficient to state that I find it both amusing and intriguing that I should need help from this salty creature.

The IDEA of treating the system appeals to me and echoes everything I have read about stress-related heartburn. At the same time, it stands in direct opposition to the approach of every doctor I have met.

Of course, a systemic make-over is not just about homeopathy. It’s about changing almost every aspect of my life. Mr Cuttlefish is just my backup. Yup, he’s got my back … wait … did he just puff out a cloud of ink and disappear on me?

Fixing the system requires a complete reboot. I now find myself on a lonely stretch of “the high road”, which happens to also be the long and winding road.

  • I am learning to cook from scratch and eat the right stuff (according to invaluable advice from a couple of nutritionists).
  • I am learning to see the world in a new way (how the chase for profit has made this world unhealthy for humans).
  • I am learning mindfulness and balance (with the help of Andy, the creator of the Headspace app).
  • I have abandoned every indulgence I have ever had (sugar, caffeine, alcohol, gluten, and red meat).
  • I have had to accept that I will not feel healthy for some time now (systemic problems take the same amount of time to heal as they took to develop in the first place).

And even though I recommend it, I must admit that it is taking everything I have.

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It is also, the only way.

“Just keep swimming”, said Dory to Nemo. Right now, that’s the best damn mantra for me. You know, sometimes, when I walk among the people in a busy street. I imagine myself as a fish, just swimming along, with no deeper meaning or thoughts. It gives me strange comfort.

Who knows, maybe I crave the life of the cuttlefish. Maybe they will help me, one of their own kind.

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Does happiness have coordinates?

What is the #1 happiest place to live in?

Vancouver? No, although I’d loooove to move there, like right now. Wellington? Amazing steaks, great grassy hillocks! Tampere? Almost, almost, but too few restaurants for health nuts.

C’mon, you know that happiness is not a geographical place. I wish I could set my navigator to “follow the sunshine” or “direct me to my bliss”. But no, apparently this is still some way up the roadmap.

Based on how we are living our lives, the happiest place must be … drumroll … “somewhere over the rainbow”. The promised land where dreams come true. Tomorrow. Some day. Some time.

To get there, you need to be worthy, right? You need to bring your A-game and work like a mad viking horse. Your road shall be paved with blood, sweat, tears, caffeine, heartburn, a couple of spells of insomnia, and (if you are lucky) the company of small green men, but… when you bust your ass and finally make a break-through and succeed, you will get there! Hello rainbow land!

Or so I it must be, because everyone is so concerned about success. 

Let’s repeat it together: once you succeed, you will be happy.  

I have been working out, you know. So I can run all the way to the end of the yellow brick road, then somehow (perhaps with the aid of suction gloves) climb the rainbow and finally rappel down to the land where “troubles melt like lemon drops and bluebirds fly”. I have overdosed on high-priced café lattes and spent a lot of money on antacid meds. So far, I have made it all the way to the rainbow and I find myself being eyeballed by suspicious elves guarding their pots of gold. Doesn’t look promising, let me tell you.

And now! NOW I get this piece of news from TED: Explorers finally confirm what I have suspected to be true all along! The land over the rainbow is a hoax! If you do reach the rainbow, manage to wiggle yourself on top of it, and … let’s say … base jump down, what you find is this graffiti on the wall: The cake is a lie! And … get this … a whole bunch of new brick roads of various hues leading to every imaginable compass direction.

(At this point, you may wonder why people won’t just walk under the rainbow? I have no effing clue. The person who invented the land OVER the rainbow didn’t want it to be that easy? Or maybe it was the elves. They do look a bit iffy.)

Nevertheless, the point is: happiness, bliss, completeness, whatever it is that you are looking for, cannot be found with grit, perservance, or “sisu”. The age-old mantra “work hard – succeed – be happy” is the biggest scam ever!

TED says: “If happiness is always on the other side of success [a.k.a. rainbow], your brain never gets there”.

Why, you may ask? It’s very simple really. If and when you do achieve success, your brain has already readjusted your expectations. Once over the rainbow, there are just more brick roads to follow.

The number #1 place to be might just as well be Vancouver. Or wherever you may be right at this moment.

Now, stop the multitasking, scrolling & scanning of text and read the following sentence three times:

There is a correlation between happiness and success. If you are happy, you will work more productively and for this reason, you will succeed. Carlo agrees, too.

The explorers suggest a new mantra: BE HAPPY, WORK IN A BETTER FRAME OF MIND, SUCCEED.

Instead of waiting for delayed gratification in the form of the mythical land over the rainbow, you have a bigger and more challenging task at hand. You have to find out what happiness is for you. Right now. Being in a #1 place for you (physically, emotionally, spiritually) is a good place to start. A silly proverb says: If you are unhappy, MOVE! You are not a tree. Move to Wellington! Move to a new social group! Move to a new job! Move your body! Move your beliefs! Be moved by other people! Just move.

Just in case you were wondering, here are the TOP 10 happiest places to be (according to OECD’s Better Life Index 2014). And this is no hoax:

  1. Australia
  2. Norway
  3. Sweden
  4. Denmark
  5. Canada
  6. Switzerland
  7. United States
  8. Finland
  9. Netherlands
  10. New Zealand

Or, maybe the following list is more important:

  1. Your summer cottage’s pier on a crispy autumn afternoon
  2. The arms of your loved one
  3. Smoke sauna in the dead of winter
  4. A meadow deep within the arms of a forest
  5. Under the covers when you are really tired
  6. In a bubble bath all by yourself
  7. In a fast car, driving to a faraway destination
  8. On a quiet beach with a picnic basket
  9. Right here, right now
  10. Inside your favourite book

You decide. Here’s Tampere, my hometown.

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Copyright: Alexander Savin.

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5 tiny things to hope for the Summer ’14

First off, the slogan “the summer of ’14″ just doesn’t do it for me. A total amount of zero butterflies in my stomach. No activity in the tingle department. I swear to god, there hasn’t been a good “Summer of” number since the 90s.

Nevertheless, one must lumber on and have Faith. They say that worrying is like praying for things you don’t want. This post is the exact opposite, because writing down tiny hopes is like sending out scented invitations. Right? Right.

So, 5 tiny things to hope for … “The Summer of ’14″

1. A scenery that will make you sit down and just stare. Could be anything, but it has to extend. To the horizon, if possible.

2. Laughter that will make you cry happy tears and make awkward piglet sounds until you are breathless.

3. A day when you can let go of the steering wheel completely and just go where the garden paths take you.

4. A night when you can’t stop talking about this epiphany you had. Wine included.

5. A “whimsical romantic getaway” sans sand, needles or ants in places where they should never be.

There it is. Five tiny things that are, in fact, BIGGER THAN LIFE ITSELF.

Elice

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Monday morning

Slowly, Monday opens her eyes and blinks away the purple fog. The glass shoe is in glittery pieces on the black laminate floor, the charmed wine bottle is empty, her hair is a mess, and judging by the keys on the night table, the magic carriage is a Ford Fiesta. Carefully, she feels around with her left hand. THANK GOD. A sigh of relief. The beast is still sleeping next to her.