30

I turned 30 years old over the weekend and my head has been filled with a lot of thoughts these days, and may I add, lovely thoughts. For me, with the support that I have received, it feels only a blessing to move on to the next decade of beauty.

Today, the 6th of December, it is the Independence day of Finland, a country that shaped my heart and soul. According to my parents, I have behaved independently since a very young age, and to strengthen it, Finland gave me amazing opportunities to continue so.

In my opinion, independence is all about having the freedom to choose. It is a great word to describe the state of being Finnish, and also my state of being 30 now.

To be able to be in this state today, I am grateful for so many things I have experienced over the years, so I decided to take a challenge to write down 30 things I am grateful for. Making this list took quite a while, but I urge you to do the same, it puts everything in perspective. So here we go.

Today, I’m grateful for …

1. the 101-year-old Finland that has given me countless opportunities along the way, eg. in education, health care, social system and safety

2. my loving parents that have always believed in me and given me the freedom to realize any of my dreams

3. my siblings that have given me their unconditional love and support

4. my extended family for providing me a support network

5. irreplaceable friends around the world that have always been there for me

6. comfortable homes over the years that have given me shelter

7. food that has nourished me to be strong and healthy

8. our globe Earth, an unbelievable beauty of species and provider for our basic needs

9. fresh water that keeps me alive and clean

10. my teachers, coaches and supervisors that pushed me to learn and become wiser

11. Team Academy for making me believe I can do whatever I want in life

12. all forms of music that give food to my soul every day

13. the dance organizations that have let me discover my passion for dance

14. the countless books I’ve read that enabled me to experience different settings in life

15. the modern technology that gives us channels to create and communicate on another level

16. diverse cultures that enrich our interaction

17. art, in whichever form, because it allows us to understand our life and world in a deeper level

18. caring strangers that have helped my day one way or another, kept the last metro’s door open, smiled at me in a funny situation, picked up what I had dropped by mistake

19. entrepreneurs that keep our societies running and interesting with their incredible persistence

20. peace warriors that keep fighting for our common justice and well-being

21. history that has taught us lessons how to be better humans

22. big city rush that, with its’ changing faces and monuments, reminds me that I’m part of a bigger entirety

23. the modern travel industry that has made it accessible to move easily to explore our incredible Earth

24. cabin crew colleagues that were my company in discovering all those foreign lands

25. outstanding motion pictures that have inspired me to become a maker myself

26. filmmakers in Berlin that have given me the privilege to be involved in such incredible projects

27. time because its’ changing speed makes me understand the important things in life

28. realness, because in these times of virtual connections and fake news the realness reminds us to live in the present

29. love and kindness that I have been and I am privileged to share

30. last but definitely not least, I’m grateful for a very special person by my side that reminds me to be my amazing self and made turning 30 such a beautiful event for me.

Thank you all for shaping my life so far!

Happy Independence Day Finland,
let this remind us all that peace gives us opportunities to build something extraordinary.

Creating New Culture,

Satu

Your Vote And Smile Make The Difference

Finland will have a presidential election next week, but the advance voting around the globe is already on this week. The ride that I took to the Finnish embassy myself here in Berlin, gave me goosebumps. I rode all the way from the heart of eastern Berlin – Friedrichshain, through the city center with a view of The Brandenburg Gate, to the west of Berlin, which only few decades ago, was just a dream to someone.

By experiencing this road to vote to a foreign embassy, I realized that we have come really far from those horrific times. We do live in uncertain times, in a world that doesn’t promise us much and overloads us with negative news from every social channel. But as a response to all that negativity, we have always the chance to make a positive change. Remember what we have been through as a world, and are still going through. You can start with little gestures yourself, and extend it to your family and friends and all the people you meet and can reach.

The important thing as a society of living human beings, is to connect with one another. We are learning foreign languages to break the barriers, and accepting as well as adapting each others ways of living to build a comfortable common place. We are (also literally) breaking the walls and opening our hearts to new people to enter.

Democratic societies with free elections are one way of making the world a little better, through the leaders. I gave my vote to a candidate that represents the better world for us as human beings in this beautiful nature. My fellow Finns around the world, go and give your own vote for the preferred tomorrow.

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The embassy of Finland ready to receive my vote // Berlin, Germany

And my friends in any country in the world, always take every chance you get, to influence your surroundings to become a little more positive. Smile to the child talking in the bus, help a fallen person back up on their feet, vote when you have elections in your country or area, post positive news and remember to keep your comments constructive in real life as well as online.

Which little gestures do you practice every day, to make this world a little better?

Creating New Culture,

Satu

PS. If you missed my first longer trip to Berlin last November, take a look at my short texts: A Brief Point About Berlin’s History and Experimental Berlin.

Stereotype me!

The latest news, Finland presented its’ own national emojis. There is The Sauna, The Unbreakable (Nokia 3310) and The Headbanger emoji.

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According to this, I should be a naked headbanger rocking to my Nokia tunes in a sauna. Talking about stereotyping me.

These emojis definitely put Finland on the map as a country. But do I want to be stereotyped like this? When I started coming up with some questions why and how these emojis would represent me as a Finn, I realized there is more to these stereotypes than just outside figures.

I love sauna and I still own a good old Nokia phone. My Nokia is unbreakable as the emoji is called and wakes me up when the latest smart phones fail. Sauna is a special way to relax and I really focus on important subjects in my life at the same. To the headbanger emoji, I can relate more on a national level, I heard much rock and metal tunes when I lived in Finland, and I also saw headbangers around. Just, personally heavy music is not my thing and at first, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the headbanger emoji.

People remember Nokia and can relate to the unbreakable message of it. But Nokia is not just an old memory of technology, it tells the world what we can create, how we can push our limits to something new and how consistent work can result in success. It transmits the Finnish strength ‘sisu’, that I also have in me.

Sauna is not just being naked in the heat and throwing water on rocks. This emoji tells about our cultural ritual and perhaps about our closeness to nature, being naked with ourselves.

And what does the headbanger tell? That Finland is the promised land of rock and metal music? That the darkness of the winter and the melancholy of our emotions come out as art? Even though, I’m not the biggest rocker, I see I can relate to the background story, as an artist of life myself.

I think these emojis are an amazing and innovative way of presenting a culture, in tongue-in-cheek way, as they were created. I give my full support. Please, all cultures, create yours!

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Press HERE to read the article about Finn emojis.

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.

Is It The Freedom That Brings The Happiness?

Freedom. What is it? This is the subject the famous Brazilian author Paulo Coelho is writing about in his novel ‘Zahir’.

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Is it freedom to be free from all the possible obligations of the society? Free from work, free from taxes and free from a specific place. Is it freedom to have the possibility to come and go as one wishes, and without obligations to anyone?

In case you’re able to succeed to find all the freedom, will you be happy? Can one be happy free from everything? What is happiness anyway?

I personally think both freedom and happiness are states of mind. You won’t be any freer if you leave your partner, and neither any happier if you buy a new car. The only way is to work on ourselves, develop our own minds. Then even those points would make you freer and/or happier.

In order to experience happiness, we have to be brave enough to let the freedom take its place in our lives, and there’s no space for jealousy or any other disturbing feeling in this process.

One needs to search freedom and the following happiness in full understanding of the universe. We need to be able to give space for everything and everyone around us, enjoy the path of life with patience and stay open for unknown.

What is freedom then in concrete? Is it the permission that I gave to myself to enjoy this beautiful evening by a lake?

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At this point, I’ve come to the conclusion with my thoughts that the freedom is most of all a way of thinking. The concrete side of it is very personal. Someone feels free seeing the sunset solo, someone else when sharing the moment with another one. I feel the freedom when I am able to choose from these two options.

Search yourself, find your freedom and you may start following your path to happiness.

The culture of trust

When I was a little girl, some days we had all doors of our family’s house open without anyone home, us kids playing somewhere outside and running through the house every once in a while. Once I found the neighbours’ cat inside, once a squirrel. I know this sounds very careless way of behaving to some of my friends around the world who always locked their doors many times and prayed on top of that not to get robbed. Just, the surrounding culture is different.

Because of the common trust in the neighbourhood in a rather small town and the Finnish culture behind, free living was the normality. I never found a thief or someone uninvited, just those animals. When all the people around have the same mindset it is possible to create such a trust.

Trust is a big subject about which I have learned on my many travels and cultural experiences. As I am from Finland, I compare my background learned there to everything I experience.

Trust exists on different levels. It is not something you’re born with, you learn to live it from the people and culture around you. For example, my parents gave me the sense of their trust on me and as a respect back to them I’ve always worked hard to keep that trust both ways.

Trust in any community (from neighbourhood and sport teams to a country and the whole world) grow by knowing and understanding one another. The more everyone puts effort and their heart in it, the more trustworthy the being can become.

A human being is not bad, mean, greed or untrustworthy from birth, the influence of the existing world and thoughts and believes of people nearby modify every person to behave in a certain way.

A crash appears when we experience a different way from what we’ve learned. Coming from a place where you have a common trust around, I had to learn through different events that (at least at the moment) it is not the same everywhere. Police, other officials and neighbours might have their own agenda behind every action. Also it is not easy to start trusting if you’ve always been careful.

In the end, we are all the same, and only we as humans can change the existing norms. By creating more truth and trust around us, we can go ahead towards living free together. It acquires lots of patience, openness and most of all capability to throw ourselves to trust.

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Creating art makes you trust your feelings and soul on paper ..or on whatever else

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