Time love, it’s only a change of time: 2016

the end of a year always feels like a true new beginning. but before the new begins, i want to reflect on what 2016 taught me. so here’s what i’ve learned:

getting to the end of your twenties feels a lot like freedom.

Finland in the summer is made of incomprehensible beauty.

cats are weird. i already knew this, but 2016 has made it more apparent.

political grief is a real thing, but neither brexit nor trump’s presidential nomination will be the worst thing to ever happen to you, nor to the western politics. you are privileged. keep moving forward, don’t let them shake your values, don’t let them take away your belief in the goodness of the world & the people in it.

food is complicated. living according to ones moral beliefs & values is complicated. your best effort is enough.

grief is a lot like fear (as C.S Lewis once wrote). grief is weird.

unthinkable loss brings out the best in some people. the amount of love is astonishing.

yet. some people will fail you. you can choose to hold it against them, or you can choose to understand that death scares people, you can choose to forgive.

loss of a parent makes you feel abandoned.

books can mend you. and they will.

moving abroad is filled with so much bureaucratic shit you will never be afraid of it again.

people are kind.

there’s incomprehensible beauty everywhere in the world.

living abroad is just living. you will change, but only gradually, only in ways you experience. to others you will remain the same. your life will also stay the same. you will still remain you. and that’s a good thing.

you should always try to see live music. it is the purest form of joy there is.

you will endure. and you will heal.

so here’s to 2017. i could hope for less pain and turmoil, but that is not how the universe works. the universe gives and takes the way it pleases. and all we can do is endure, learn and heal. so from 2017 i wish Love, adventure and as always, opporturnities to grow.

I’m inside with my friends
We build fires and pretend
That the night could just bend on forever
While outside in the frost
Are the wolves and the lost
And we sing to the dogs or whoever
Singing don’t let me into this year with an empty heart
With an empty heart
Don’t let me into this year with an empty heart
Josh Ritter – Empty Hearts

xx Satu

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Careless man’s careful daughter – thoughts on one father-daughter relationship in the midst of grief.

I was never a perfect daughter. I let my parents be sick with worry while I’d be running around like a wild child, associating with people I really shouldn’t have. I didn’t ask permission; to alter my appearances in ways that would leave permanent marks on my body, to what kind of boys I should or should not kiss. I didn’t have a curfew but if I did, I would have failed to follow it. Ever since I was young, I made sure my parents knew that I was in charge of my own existence. I knew how to dress myself on a cold winter day or what was a proper bedtime for a 10-year old. I made it very clear from a young age that I was going to travel the world and get as far away as possible from the small city, in the tiny country I grew up in. I was stubborn as shit. (I still am.) And for the first 25 years of my life, I believed I was inherently different from everyone in my family. I was adventurous, wild and independent.

I was never a perfect daughter, yet I longed for perfect parents. I ran around like a wild child and blamed my parents when they couldn’t tame me. I hold grudges on the tiniest things so long they grew into something big and heavy and hard to carry. There’s probably nothing special in this story, a kid wants the perfect parents and yet judges them more harshly than anyone or anything else in the world. Thus the parents, due to being just humans, fail by default. Isn’t that what we all do? And then we grow up. By the time I hit my mid-twenties I started to not only recognized my own faults as a daughter (I did not believe to be a perfect person, but before I had never really thought about my own personal responsibility in my relationship with my parents) and the humanity of my parents. I learned to forgive, myself as well as my mom and my dad.

I believe this is one of the fundamental journeys we take in our twenties, the shifting relationship with our parents from simply daughters and sons of mothers and fathers to something more equal. What happens in our thirties? I don’t know yet, I haven’t reached that far. What happens when one of your parents dies in the midst of your twenties? Well, I’m trying to figure that out.

My dad died last August. Two weeks later I packed my belongings in an unnecessarily big suitcase and moved a thousand miles from home to a new & strange country where I will be living until next summer. My grief didn’t fit in the suitcase, my grief inhabits the entirety of my world. It didn’t sit next to me on the plane, it was the air we flew through. I doesn’t sleep on the floor next to my bed crawled into ball, it is the fog that surrounds this whole city. I am not a perfect daughter, and I’m trying to let go of the regret of not being so.

My dad was not a perfect father. If I try to sum up our relationship, the first thing that comes to my mind is a Taylor Swift lyric, in which she sings “You made a rebel of a careless man’s careful daughter.” Despite proclaiming to be independent and adventurous, paradoxically I have always been overly careful and anxious too. I used to relate to this lyric by thinking all the people in my life I believed had made me that rebel, the boys I kissed at thirteen, the girls I called my sisters. But the truth is, that rebel has always lived within me. I didn’t run around like a wild child because someone else made me so. I didn’t proclaim to be independent from my family since I could talk because I was different than them, I was like that because I am the careless man’s careful daughter, because I am the not-so-perfect-daughter of my not-so-perfect-father. If I am like anyone else in this world, I am the near-perfect image of my dad. This is what I realized on the day he died. I found myself staring at the bathroom mirror, trying to find a hint of the father I had just lost within myself.

What I realized then, is that we don’t just look alike, but that everything I thought was so different and unique about me were exactly the things I had such a difficulty to accept in my dad. If I am adventurous, wild and independent, it’s because that’s who my dad was. My dad was a restless man, always on top of a motorcycle, traveling around the country. When my parents were younger, my mom would travel with him, but when they became parents of three children, my mother stayed home when my dad could go on adventures for days or weeks at a time. My dad needed his independence, it was at the core of his existence and he was incredibly stubborn about it. Just like I have always been, proclaiming I was old enough to do what I wanted when I was barely a teenager and definitely did not know how (or didn’t want) to make the best life decisions.

I am restless and stubborn in the exact ways my dad was. I write this sitting a thousand miles away from my family during a time in my life when I desperately need them close to me. But I just don’t know how not to be stubborn as shit. I made a decision to study abroad and then life fell apart. I couldn’t let go of the parts of me that make me my father’s daughter. He would have gone, I thought. He always did go whenever his restless, rebellious existence demanded so. And so I did too. But if there’s anything I’ve learned in the two months as a half-orphan, is that I carry my father with me wherever I go. That it was him all along who made me a rebel of a careless man’s careful daughter. And that despite of our shortcomings, I am grateful of my imperfect father and the flawed, wild daughter he raised me to be.

– Satu

Being gray: thoughts on veganism

I’ve been a vegetarian for almost three years. If you’d known me even five years ago, my sudden dietary change would most likely confuse you. it’s not that I was ever a meat lover, quite the opposite. I used to have a very narrow diet. I was fearful of meat and only ate very specific kind (mostly minced or chicken). I didn’t like vegetables and ate very few fruits. I never really liked food. I had a very neurotic relationship with food and a very unhealthy relationship with eating. Although I never liked most foods, I always had trouble with eating. My relationship with eating was a roller-coaster of bingeing and starvation, which reflected on my weight that would go up, up and then little down and up again.

In early 2014 I suddenly stopped eating meat, and by meat I mean all meat; red meat, chicken, and fish. It was a choice that I had been wanting to make for years. I didn’t want to contribute to the meat industry or over fishing, I wanted my food choices to reflect my ethical and philosophical beliefs. But until 2014 I had not been able to do so. Because I was afraid, I was afraid of narrowing my diet further and I was even more afraid of failure. If I decided to become a vegetarian then that would mean there’d be more rules to my eating and if I failed to follow those rules, I’d be a failure. Eating was already a very guilt ridden activity for me, I was afraid to give myself more ways in which I could fail with food.

Why were things suddenly different in 2014 then? Well, it actually wasn’t a sudden change at all, even if the cutting out meat happened with one single decision. The time was ripe because of combination of things. In the past few years I had started to eat better and a bigger variety of foods (thanks to some new friends who liked to cook with me and introduced me to a whole new world of delicious foods). I had begun a journey to body positivity and started healing from my unhealthy, guilt-ridden relationship with food and my body. I lived on my own for the first time and that meant I had my very own kitchen and more time & space to experiment with food. I was in a safe and secure place to begun my new, meatless journey. Being a vegetarian has really helped me further heal from my food neuroses and eating habits. It has made me more body positive, healthier and overall a happier person.

Well, if vegetarianism has had such a positive impact on my life, why haven’t I gone fully vegan?! Dairy and egg industries are just as cruel to the animals and damaging to the environment as the meat industry. How do I justify my non-veganism when I know this, and claim to not to eat meat because of these exact reasons? The answer is simple, because I’m flawed. Just like all humans are. I still have my issues with eating and food, and I don’t think I will ever get completely rid of them. I have anxiety and suffer from clinic depression, both which affect my eating habits too, and the capacity to always be able to make the ethical choice. I believe choosing what not to eat is a privilege. And I have privilege, of course, but I also have my baggage and just like everyone else, I am just trying to do the best I can.

But does the issue of cutting out animal products have to be a black and white issue? To me the issue is a spectrum, not black and white but with gray areas in between. Veganism is at the one end of that spectrum. It is definitely achievable and attainable to a lot of people, but not necessarily for all. And I don’t believe that just because someone feels like they cannot, for whatever reason, achieve veganism, that they should not try to make the small changes they can. The truth is, every change counts, every effort contributes a little less towards the suffering of animals and our planet. Furthermore, I believe that although veganism is a great form of activism, there also needs to be overall structural changes within out societies and in our world if we ever want to live in a world where us humans, don’t collectively contribute towards the suffering of animals and the destruction of our planet.

The Vegan Society defines veganism as ”a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” I do believe in this philosophy and I haven’t got stuck into my comfortable vegetarianism. Every day I try to make the most ethical choice I can when it comes to my food and other consumer habits. Sometimes it’s easy, and when it’s not, I still am just doing my very best. At the moment I am not myself buying any animal products, even if I occasionally might consume them. Who knows, maybe one day I will be fully vegan. If you had told me ten years ago that I’d be a vegetarian, I wouldn’t have believed you. It’s a journey, some are able to make that journey with one jump, and others, like me, take a little more time, but I’m on my way.

But for now, I’ll be gray.

– Satu

What do I give a fuck about?!

I’ve seen this quote People will make time for what they really give a fuck about on social media lately. Or maybe it has been circulating sites like tumblr and instagram for as long as such sites have existed, but lately I’ve been thinking about it a lot. What do I make time for? What do I give a fuck about?

The truth is, I don’t always make time for things I care about. But if I don’t make time for such things, do I then really even give a fuck about them? I know people say life is short, and sadly it sometimes is, but if we live like we expect to be old, then it’s actually really fucking long. Surely it’s limited, which is the very beauty of it, but it’s also, hopefully, 70 to 80 years for you to do and be million different things. Yet time is precious, you really should make time for the things you give a fuck about. But I refuse to think that just because I don’t prioritize something right now, I don’t care about it.

I started this blog before fall semester begun and I have not been very good & active blogger. I want to be. I will try to be. But I am also writing my BA Thesis, trying to improve my Swedish, studying complicated theories related to International Relations, trying to figure out my plans for my exchange year and see at least few people I give a fuck about once a week. Those are the things I prioritize now. I wish I could include more. I wish I could keep my apartment tidier, I wish that instead of waking up early to study I would wake up early and go for a jog. I wish I had time to see friends living afar, or at least have long phone conversations. I wish I could go see movies and bake more. I wish I would have the energy and inspiration and the time to blog more.

Lately I have been giving up on things that I don’t really give a fuck about. I don’t watch much TV anymore. I might watch an episode or two of The West Wing in two weeks, whereas before I could watch a whole season in a weekend. I spend less time online. I do less grocery shopping and I rarely sleep late. Lately I’ve been valuing my time more. Doing things that either make me a better person (studying) or that really make me feel good (reading for pleasure & listening to podcasts & coloring). And with this new appreciation to my own time I wish to begin blogging more. I have written down million ideas and I really do give a fuck about this blog and writing and creating. I think people try to make time for what they really give a fuck about but they don’t always succeed. But I’m getting better. Time is our real currency, may we all be rich with it, but also use it wisely.

-Satu

ps. I’m going on a little adventure to Northern Norway in few weeks. Stay tuned for some Arctic Adventures!

New beginnings

Every year, when summer slows down & the nights begin to gradually grow ever so dark and cold I get restless. It’s the beginning of Autumn, the end of Summer. People who love the heat & light try to grab it, hold it, keep it here just a little bit longer. But I love Autumn, the dark, cold nights, the rain and changing leaves, heavy boots and big warm sweaters. I am ready let go of summer almost before it has even truly begun, and I get restless.

To others it is the New Year, the first day of January that marks the beginning of a new era, but for me it has always been August/September. Sure, it’s the beginning of a new school year, but even during the years when I haven’t been a student and my day to day life hasn’t changed drastically from summer to fall, I have felt the itch of a New Beginning. This year has proven to be no different.

Last year was one of the hardest years of my life, and all that dark made it almost impossible to focus on anything except the day to day, to keep going even when going got tough. I stopped doing most things I love. I rarely picked up my camera, I abandoned my old blog, I read very few books and I spent most of my time inside, by myself. But things are looking up, grief is like a wave, it comes and goes but as time goes on, the waves slow down, the bad isn’t as bad anymore.

I’m ready to start doing the things I love again. New semester is beginning, and I’m excited. It will be my last year doing my undergrad. I’ve picked up my camera again, if just to take silly pictures of my self & stuff around my apartment. I’ve begun to jog and exercise, I’m trying new recipes, I’ve shared adventures with friends, I’ve read something every day, I’ve felt less tired & more happy, I feel anew. And I’m ready to start blogging again. A clean slate. Autumn’s here.

-Satu