The Light In The Darkness

As promised, here we go on a Friday again. On a particular Friday, that I have definitely realized it is autumn time. Time, when the day gets shorter, temperatures colder and life moves inside the houses here up north of Europe.

The darkness of the season can be overwhelming, whatever form it takes. I have just moved back to the north part of the globe from year-round sunshine, and the shortness of daylight had to remind me of itself.

But as in anything, we have the chance to pick our side, pick our way of approach. This week of the autumn I have picked the colourful leaves, all those artistic lights that shine in the dark, pumpkin spice and coziness made of candle light.

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Colours of the wind. Maple tree in Finland.
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When the leaves get dark, the other colours shine brighter. Valon Kaupunki (The City of Light) -event, Jyväskylä, Finland.
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Lights bring the darkness alive. Valon Kaupunki (The City of Light) -event, Jyväskylä, Finland.

The light in the darkness is our being. Our light that shines from inside. We can present it as art, as in this last weekend’s light festival in my home town Jyväskylä in Finland. We can spread warmth around with flavours and smells such as famous pumpkin spice and make ourselves cozy at home with candles and our loved ones, to enjoy and to make most of the season.

I have heard myself say so many times that the darkness can be tough during the winter season. This time, I throw myself to embrace it. It is time for change. It is time to lay something so bright on a dark canvas.

Be creative!

Yours,

Enlightened Satu in the cozy dark

Change for 2014

It’s been a while that I haven’t been posting. For me this pause was most of all time to search something new in myself. I felt the need to understand me more, and through this process, simply get new power on sharing new stories again.

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The last sunrise I saw in 2013

I had awakening times over the holidays. During one week, I visited all the three places I consider my homes. Jyväskylä in Finland, Paris in France and Frankfurt am Main in Germany. Three different cultures, languages, lifestyles, group of friends and stages of my past life.

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French stage – delicious snails

They say you need to know your history to understand the present and to plan the future. The important thing is to understand these points in all levels, starting from the largest one – the history of the world, to understand the dynamics around, the situation of your own country and culture in this frame. The knowledge of your own culture will teach a lot about behavioural aspects and give the power to be proud of your roots.

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Wild berries is one of the privileges in Finnish forests, I learned to bake a berry pie à la Mom

Knowing the history of your own family, will help you realize partly how you have become the person you are, and the reasons behind your parents’ and other family members’ choices. It is important to remember that regardless of which choices your family has made, you are you, the only you in the world, and in today’s world you have the ability to choose the change if you wish so.

That brings us to the final one, our very own personal history. Which way have I developed during my life? Which kind of choices did I make? Which mistakes did I make? How did I overcome them?

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Sometimes the light blinds you, sometimes guides
Eiffel tower in Paris, France

Staying in my childhood home in Finland is always awakening experience. Every single time I learn new about my past. Seeing the world, grows my respect towards my roots, and all the people who have walked part of my path with me.

Paris put many questions in my mind. Why did I do certain decisions in life? What came out of them? How did I grow up during those periods of time? Answering these taught me about my decision-making and behaviour in a big picture.

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Re-living your past path makes you know yourself more

I finished the travelling week in the present. I see my path, I see this place and time that I have ended up in. There are things I like, and things I want to change for the future. I have ideas, plans and energy again but as we all know, only the future itself will tell the result.

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Find the balance of the presence and the future – enjoy today, building your future

Happy new and very successful year 2014 for everybody!

Power from the memories

“Instead of getting nostalgic, we should capture the power of good memories to create our future even memorable.”

Last week I visited again my home town, Jyväskylä, in Central Finland. I had real luck with the specially nice weather according to the season, colourful trees and so much sun. Here are some pictures to feel the very autumn going on, and few words about the feelings I got during my stay.

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The central church of Jyväskylä in autumn colours

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Modern views of the town

We tend to get nostalgic thinking about the past, childhood, university times. And even more there’s a memory effect when we visit those places. I think it is important to remember the past, to learn from the mistakes and keep growing. Never forget. Instead, it is needed to forgive the past in order to move forward and to live now and in the future.

Visiting my childhood town becomes weirder and weirder every visit. I’ve realized that I’ve grown far from those moments and it gets always harder to think about going back.

It is a sign that I have found my present life and future path in another place. I have built my new home elsewhere. As for now, I focus on remembering the past, and taking the power of those memories to grow my present and future.

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And for the closure one culture difference, Finnish go to sauna a lot. Here is one more innovative way – a sauna-on-board boat in the harbour of a lake.

Losing my food religion

There is something a bit personal, I would like to share. At the age of 14, I started being one sort of a vegetarian cutting the red meat out. My point for this diet all those years ago was to protect animals and to stop the misbehaving towards them. The years passed by and the actual bettering of the world got out of my eating and partly vegetarian diet became just a habit. And it grew stronger every day, like a religion that I couldn’t break.

Now ten years later, something cracked in my head when I heard my friends around talking about this delicious Spanish jamon iberico. How many tastes and experiences have I missed during all my trips?

Thoughts rolled in my mind few days and on one French-Italian picnic I did something for everyone’s surprise, side of all the smelly cheeses, I tasted a piece of some delicious southern meat as well. And it was good.

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The actual eating part wasn’t hard at all, physically I felt very fine during and after this meat experience. The whole thing was in the end a mental issue. It was the breaking-a-rule part, finishing the commitment that I had promised to myself, that made me feel guilty. I lost my religion.

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Finally coming to my senses, from now on I will keep eating healthy, preferably local and eco-friendly products, but also meat included with little amounts, by supporting fair trade. With these points in mind I will do much more good.

We as humans create lots of rules and regulations for ourselves based on surrounding believes, religions, laws, trends and endless other reasons, and many of them we don’t even need. It can be anything from a new fashionable diet to push a career at work. We should be an advanced species enough to analyze, what is the best for our well-being and the nature around.

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Now enjoying fresh and very local strawberries back in my original home
Jyväskylä, Finland

Belonging

Belonging to something is a big and important part of our lives. Cultures and all the groups around give us the privilege to fill the life with connections and caring.

We all belong to many subgroups, such as bloggers, surfers and teachers. But talking about deeper connections, we start to understand ourselves, how we have become the persons that we are. Also, we learn to see behind the actions of others and respect the different ways of living.

The surrounding people and areas have the biggest effect on our lives. From our parents, we get the genes and the heritage of the family history, and from school mates and teachers, we adapt many skills for life. All the people around us influence the way we grow to be. The city, country, cultural and linguistic areas and also different unions (such as European Union) build a part of us with their history, religions, laws and habits.

The main parts of one’s behaviour, attitudes and believes come from the culture they are born in, one gets raised to live following certain laws, and one’s morals in life are likely to be based on the believes of the main religion of the country. For example, even if I don’t belong to a specific church anymore, the cultural background of Christianity in Finland stays in me – I believe it is a right thing to do to be good to one another and respect the life around without destruction.

Every single person on this planet is unique with their personal background. But regardless of all the differences there might be, we all belong to one big group – human beings of this planet. All the same. We all have thoughts and feelings.

It’s natural for a human being to gather a group around, to have a stronger feeling of belonging, such as we see the cities, countries and different cultural areas as the result of this behaviour.

But a human also moves, gets attracted by diversity and wants to improve. Since in the end we are all the same, I personally don’t understand the self-destruction of societies and the whole world in general. Limiting moving by countries borders, manipulating thinking, blocking creating and in the same, making slower the whole evolution of a human being.

A very wise friend of mine put this question in my mind with awakening words: “Isn’t it just absurd that one human being born in a certain place in a certain time cannot move free on this very planet because another creature just like him/her has decided so?”

I’m wondering if there’s a solution for us to live in peace in full diversity without made limits, power of cash, wars and poverty. The Earth is a beautiful place to live and learn. Shall we ever give a proper chance for us to improve, succeed and most of all – belong to this place and time together?

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The silence of the midsummer’s nightless night // Keuruu, Finland

My home Finland

Last week, I flew back to my home country Finland. Since I have been staying abroad a long time already, during the trip to my home town Jyväskylä, I realized and understood many things of Finland that foreigners have told me that surprised them.

The surroundings, habits, and lots of other invisible things of a culture make a place or life feel home. For a visitor it is all different. Sometimes a shock.

This time I took a place of a foreigner and tried to see Finland with their eyes. How do they see Finland? What will surprise them?

Since I have been dealing a lot with people from south of Europe, let’s take one pair of those eyes. Here are some thoughts, I have heard that have amazed or surprised those foreigners, and that I confirmed during my visit.

Wow, it is actually warm here!
Yes, the summer exists in Nordic countries as well. It might be different but it is summer. Temperature was +24 and the sun was shining when I stepped out of the plane.

The trees are so small.
In southern Europe as well as central Europe the trees seem mammoth size next to these little ones.. Road trip view.

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What did the bus driver say??!
The Finnish language belongs to Uralic languages (sometimes heard Finno-Ugric languages). It is completely different from bigger groups for example in Europe and Americas, that also have influenced each other. An example, an English word ‘centrum’:
Centro = Spanish
Centro = Italian
центр (Tsentr) = Russian
Centre = French
Zentrum = German
Centrum = Swedish
Keskusta = Finnish

Nokia 9km
A little village Nokia close to Tampere (the 3rd biggest city in Finland) is much more known in the world probably than Finland itself. Even a road sign ‘Nokia 9km’ could be a funny touristic sight for a foreigner.

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Does anyone live in this country?
During the bus trip, the view was much just nature, nature and nature. Forest, thousands of lakes and some forest again. A house or two every once in a while. There are only about 5,2 million inhabitants in the whole country, so there is some space for the nature as well.

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22.00 and the sun is still up?
Up north (as well as down in the very south) for half a year, there’s light. North of Finland enjoys the nightless night in the end of June, also a little bit more southern the sun stays up almost all night.

Because Finland is my home, I am used to certain things. When you go far, you see close. I’ve been around and now I see so many beautiful and special things of my original home, and I appreciate them a lot more. Go far and learn to respect your roots!

You have to travel far to see close – Introduction to exploring

You have to travel far to see close. I heard this quote many times since a kid, but understood the true meaning only when I actually went far. And by this I don’t even mean physically travelling to the other side of the globe (which I also did). Even in your own home city you can explore something very far from your everyday life.

We are used to repeat our days. We have habits in everything, the route to work as well as which milk we choose in the supermarket next door. Even a little change can open your eyes, in these examples changing the car to walking one morning (meaning another route) or going to another supermarket that might not have the same milk brand.

Anyone may start exploring physically close but travel very far in the mind. Of course, abroad it’s more likely that several different things hit you that you’ve never thought of before. A holiday to the beach resort might not be the most culture shocking choice, since it is designed for you to feel EXACTLY as at home, most of the times also the travel guide speaks your language. If the purpose of the trip is to relax and have everything as easy as possible, ready package vacation is the one to choose. In this case though, the culture of the country doesn’t really open to you.

How to explore a new culture then? In the end, it takes very little effort. Most important is to keep your mind open, give a possibility for the new ways of living introduce themselves to you. Meeting the locals is a very good start, also when visiting your neighbour city in your own country. There’s always someone who is ready to show you the insights of their culture. Locals are likely to bring you to places that you otherwise wouldn’t find, make you taste something you’ve never heard of, and teach you a part of their history and beliefs.

Listening, hearing, seeing and feeling this new world will make you compare it to your home culture. What do I like better here, what I prefer at home? What could we learn from each other? You might learn a new language, or improve one. Interaction with anything different from you will give you so much, make you grow and think. It will make you richer.

Here I have some examples what kinds of things you could explore. All the pictures are from my travel archives of past years.

Exploring the miracles of nature, temperature changes, different landscapes and extreme experiences in it, getting to know the history and art, changing points of view and interacting through other visions and thoughts, tasting new flavours and sensing the vibes:

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Amazing view of Mediterranean sea. I was introduced to Sicilian culture by a local family, I ate fresh melons from their backyard, improved my Italian and explored the history of the area.
Erice, Sicily, Italy / August 2012

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Freezing moments with -30C degrees, glittery snow in the air. My home but always an experience to feel it.
Jyväskylä, Finland / December 2012

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White river rafting – feeling the great power of the nature, understanding our mortality, living full with adrenaline.
Rotorua, New Zealand / March 2011

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Going back in time, feeling the ancient. I found this place to visit thanks to my Sicilian friend.
Segesta, Sicily, Italy / August 2012

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Fresh provoking art on shirt with the happy owner – me, Spr Fkr
I participated open doors of the museums of modern art in the downtown of Los Angeles and changed points of view with a local, talented artist.
Los Angeles, California, USA / Februay 2011

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Interacting with the visions of the greatest artists of all times in Louvre museum. I have visited several times, but I never get enough of the master pieces in it.
Paris, France / December 2011

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Delicious bruschetta bread after a burning day by Mediterranean sea. ‘On a holiday’
Terracina, Italy / August 2011

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A very special flavoured liqueur from Finland, tastes similar to liquorice, just saltier. Definitely a must! A ‘little-piece-of-home’ present from a lovely friend visiting me this weekend.
Frankfurt Am Main, Germany / February 2013

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Vibes of a lake in the silence of a  nightless night. In the middle of all chaos and experiences it is important to stop and reflect.
Keuruu, Finland / June 2008