• From Ocean Swells To Real Wilderness

    Tiina Kivelä

    I’ve been back to Lapland for about a month now and damn it’s been a grey month. This month, there’s been one sunny day. One! Polar night is not even here yet, but already the darkness is wearing me out. I miss Morocco. I miss Switzerland. Anywhere with sun. It wasn’t this bad back in the days when I didn’t know of any better – but now when I know that there’s more options… Oh it’s hard.

    With this honest introduction, greetings from the Northern blues. With the weather and half-functioning foot, when I mostly stay in and read and work and browse things social media… It’s hard to stay smiling and positive these days. But it’s easy to keep on thinking. The first avalanche news of the season (I can’t really believe we talk about this the way we do – the first of the season) made me again think what the hell are we am I doing? Did I just book a winter camp in the Alps, for steep skiing and real mountaineering (and the sun)? Do I really, voluntarily, take the risk? Yes, I think I do. Though it’s difficult to describe clearly why so (except the sun part) – for me it just is the only way to go. The thing which motivates me and which keeps the (head)doctor away.

    And things have many sides. Before the news of the avalanche, I hadn’t heard of Hayden. But now I know, about him and his thoughts and writings too, which are interesting and very though provoking. Of course I would have liked to get to know him and his writings some other way. Nevertheless, this week I read this by the late Hayden and it made me thinking even more.


    I’ve also experienced how mountains strip us down to our true selves. We see who we are, and we see who are partners really are, and they see us back


    I’ve been also sorting photos of the past year. Checked the pics from Switzerland and thought how grateful I am for every single moment I’ve experienced there. I’ve thought about the mountains and people I’ve met there, and after little reflecting I have to say I like the effect these things have had on me. Then Morocco and the warm sunny days

    And today I stumbled on the video below. When compared with the articles I’ve recently read in Finnish newspapers about Morocco, a country full of young people without job, money or hope, potential terrorists, the video paints a rather different picture of the country. The articles are good and telling the truth too, but I’m that kind of person who likes to know the whole picture – see videos like this and remember my own trip to Morocco. World and these issues are complex and almost always there is some kind of hope – a different side to the story. How about we gave more people surfboards? How about we’d give them an example that there are other possibilities too?  And what if we talked more about this side of the story too – about the potential and different way of living – would it help? I don’t know – but in one way, I see again new purpose for my own writing and adventures. Pictures and stories I want to live, take and tell.

    In Morocco, I was living in a kind of a bubble I admit. But still, I was living the reality of that bubble, which was Moroccan in its own way. While there, driving back to the Agadir airport, my driver played both Justin Bieber and local radio station. In the ocean, I swam with other tourists and locals with or without burkinis. There were big new resort and apartment complexes being built by the coast too I saw (let’s not og into detail what this mean really and how positive the foresight really is for them). I was really experiencing the Moroccan life, real life (first I was going to write here I was living the Moroccan life, but then I read this and came to think again that I really didn’t live like a local there, I rarely do – I was a experiencing it as an outsider, visitor). I am kind of a nomad now, local away, and luckily now I’m finally ok with that. As long as I can share the experience with someone – the locals, other visitors and with you when writing this.


    our belief in inextricable human connection is one of our most renewable sources of courage in the wilderness – we want to believe that despite our differences and despite the need to brave the wilderness, we don’t always have to walk alone


    Now when I think back my travels, I really realize how and why I love travel so much. For me it’s the best way to see more, experience more and connect with other people, all kind of people. Feel the connection and prove that it really exists, out there on the road even. You may not identify it right when it happens, but it’s there, especially if and when you stop, pause, breathe and reflect. It’s ok to be local and outsider too, and hopefully also remember responsibility and respect.

    Recently, I’ve also heard from many people that they thought I travel and live the way I do with someone else’s money. And that I don’t choose something just because I don’t want it – not because I can’t afford it (which is the reality, btw). Many seem to think that I have some kind of magical fund (or parents or a man) supporting me financially. Unfortunately, I have not. I have an education though, the free Finnish one, but I work hard for my money and lifestyle now. I am privileged of course, white girl from western country, but things you see here and in my Instagram feed are funded by hard work by me, myself and I – they are a result of hard choices and many times sacrifices too. I don’t own an apartment. Right now I don’t even rent one. I can’t afford a car (which would btw make life up here so much easier) and I fly with the unreasonably scheduled flights because they are the only ones I can afford. For another example, I lived in Zürich with my savings from the previous winter and I do use my credit card a bit too much to my liking.


    Trade-offs are not something to be ignored or decried. They are something to be embraced and made deliberately, strategically, and thoughtfully.


    I need to choose and compromise a lot to be able to live like this. We all have, except for the very few who can have everything. Maybe. I’m kind of sure no-one can have it all really. With my lifestyle, I also hear a lot people saying that maybe just haven’t found my place yet. Like I should really and which has caused me some stress earlier. Or what it’s even more worrying, they propose I’m running away from something, more than else from myself. Ok, that might have been the case years ago and in some situations right – sometimes I just need some time in a beautiful place to clear my head – but now it’s almost the opposite. On the road, especially when traveling solo and moving from country to country alone, you are extremely open to yourself and your feelings and your own problems. And if and when you are going to survive it all well, you have to be extremely open and nice to other people. Wherever you go or wherever you stay.


    it can actually limit the opportunity for growth and reflection if you don’t stop, pause, breathe, and reflect


    I do know some people simply can’t choose. They have to stick to what they are given and for what they are born to. And I don’t know if it’s because of the travels or what, but the older I get the more I feel like I need to make my choices as wisely as possible and understand to be grateful for being able to choose. And more than else I wanna share the experience, tell my part of the story.

    Right now, if I could, I’d choose coffee by the Atlantic Ocean. Apparently it’s the season of good swells. But for now, I have to be happy with just the cup of coffee and watching the gray northern landscape. Hoping it will turn white soon so I can make snowballs and roll down the hills like a panda in snow. Yes, I do like these kind of light funny flicks too. I do have a humor, which you might not easily guess of my serious talk (joking is btw one of the hardest things to master in foreign language).

    I’m also preparing well for the coming winter season. Book trips, buy some essential stuff for mountains and my coming apartment (at some point I’ll have it again, maybe) and do some squats for the skiing and push-ups for the rope sections. And yes, I do some reflecting too. Now when I have the time to stop, pause, breathe and reflect. Thought I can’t wait to get back on the adventures – taller than ever. Because if this reflecting and the books on personal growth I’ve been reading don’t help me grow, a lot, then I don’t know what.

    If you managed to read this far, well done. I get back to growing now. See you later!

    Where: World

    Quotes: 1 & 4) Hayden Kennedy, 2) Greg McKeown, 3) Brené Brown,


  • BLOG
  • Notes & Inspiration From Wilderness


    It’s the transition season now. Not anymore summer and not yet winter; when everything just slows down. Including me, now more than in years. This week, I’ve taken a comfortable position on a sofa I’ve gotten myself near enough, to take my doctor’s prescription seriously. Add some coffee, wine, work, books and films, and I’m all set. Focused on listening and reading some amazing women and men, admiring what they are doing, hoping to get inspired and find my flow soon again. I may never be as badass as these people in these, but I can learn something from them; more than anything I’m now up for learning and getting forward (and like someone said, do some awesome stuff – thanks for the support, dear friends). And if it isn’t clear enough, brand videos and sponsored content work way better for me than any business forum.

    You may wonder where’s all my activities and well, they are waiting because my body said stop girl. Soon after which, I walked out from doctor’s office with an antibiotics prescription and order to keep from training for two weeks (aka erysipelas). Maybe I was cheering the good marathon recovery too soon. Though I’d say this is rather a result of generally too exhausting life the last months. It’s a limited amount of crap a human body can take and I guess mine just had enough. I was taking care of me but not enough – though I’d like to point out that there’s a limit how much a person can take care of. This is not all my fault, I hope. Now I have to deal with the consequences and oh boy this demands different kind of strength from me – patience isn’t my strongest point and having injury on my foot, one of the most important parts of my body, really challenges me. But, it’s a good lesson and next time I’m wiser, hopefully.

    Since I can’t move much, I try to find enjoyment in other things, like reading and these films. And just in time this week, post carried me the newest book by Brené Brown (yes, that Brené Brown). And wow, after years of constant change, starting over so many times and generally just being me (and experiencing the world around me), the book really hits the nerve. Hopefully, the book will also give me tools to better cope with life and work and sports.

    And while not there yet, who knows, maybe this site turns into book and wine blog – I’m even going to a book and wine fair this month as a blogger (more of which later) and I’m planning some major changes to this site. I’m also back to school, taking some University courses on Design Management and thinking how it can be already 9 years since I started there…

    It’s kind of strange to be back, and so far the most remarkable lesson has been to realize that I know and can a lot already. It’s really been 9 years, so no wonder.. There’s so many ways to learn and so many sources for information these days, that university isn’t the only place where to learn something important. It’s also funny to see the difference between we, who pay for studying the course, and the normal students who are paid for studying. Sorry but many could change their attitude radically and at least a year abroad with open heart would do good for so many. But again, it’s also good to work and study with people so different (or well, basically very same since all the students are Finnish). It gives new perspectives and definitely a good start for learning something of real management.

    Now, it’s Friday, past 5pm and I’m ready to open a bottle of wine and see another surf film. C’est la vie. Take care and talk to you later.


    Tiina Kivelä

    FI: Terveisiä sairastuvalta. Joko juhlin kivutonta maratonia liian aikaisin tai elämä muuten vain päätti pistää stopin viime kuukausien raskauden päätteeksi. Muutaman päivän takaisen lääkärikäynnin jälkeen tuomiona ruusu, antibiootit ja parin viikon urheilutauko. Ei mikään helppo resepti, kun liikkuminen on juuri se mikä pitää pääni ns. kasassa. Mutta kuten ystävät ovat kannustaneet, kyllä tämä tästä ja ainakin nyt on aikaa keskittyä paremmin muihin juttuihin, kuten lukemisiin ja lasku- ja seikkailuleffoihin. Eikä aikaakaan, kun olen taas tekemässä mahtavia  seikkailuja. Toivottavasti.

    Kun en voi liikkua, yritän keskittyä muihin asioihin, joita voi tehdä sohvalla takan ja WiFin vaikutuspiirissä. Töiden lisäksi olen lukenut ja katsonut (surffi- ja lasku) videoita ja kaivannut lunta. Yhdessä yöpöydän kirjapinon ja avoimen yliopiston opintojen kanssa toivon videoiden kannustavan hyvälle kasvu-uralle myös tällaisen väsyneen kolmenkympin kriisissä kärvistelevän naisen. Tai ainakin näin toivon; yleensä kyllä nämä toimivat paremmin kuin mikään business forum ikinä.

    Kenties tästä sivustakin tulee hetkellisesti todellinen kirja-ja viiniblogi; olenhan muutenkin jo suuntaamassa kuun lopussa kirja-ja viinimessuille bloggaajan statuksella. Tähän valmistautuessamme kerrottakoon että tämänhetkisenä lukemistona on Brené Brownin uusin, ja viinilistalla ovat täyteläiset punaviinit, kun hailakat ranskalaiset rosét ja keveät sveitsiläiset valko- ja pinot noir viinit on vaihdettu paremmin vuodenaikaan ja paikallisen Alkon valikoimaan sopiviksi.

    C’est la vie siis. Pitäkää itsenne ja toisenne ihmisinä ja näkemisiin taas pian!

  • BLOG

    Tiina Kivelä

    Hello, Tuesday. Survived the Monday and the work flow is on again. And wouldn’t it be a good time to talk about work too, like this remote work of mine? How in the h*ll I could today again wake up, swipe open my phone and start working in my pyjamas? Well, quite easy really.

    I bet some of you, first stuck in traffic and then drinking the free but not so good office coffee, wonders how I do this. And could you do it? Well, let me tell you how my remote work works. Not perfectly, but good enough still.

    With my current main project, remote work option was a non-negotiable pre-requirement, which in the end came to be the only choice (hello people, I’m still looking for the flat in Rovaniemi). Luckily, the company agreed to this and now I’ve worked remotely almost a month already, first from Zürich and then from my parent’s place up north (yes, I’m that millennial).

    The nature of my work, and the shift in work life trends and culture, as well as technological development in general, means that the physical location rarely matters for me (and ever heard of the digital nomad trend?). I can work wherever, whenever, as long as I have my phone, laptop and WiFi available. And even though it’s obvious not everyone can work like this, I’m sure there’s more and more who do like this or are interested in doing the same. So here we go, a lengthy story on how my remote work works.

    Psst. The tip number one is good coffee, so grab a cup and read on then.



    Like the saying goes, the dream is free but the hustle is sold separately. One of the most important basic requirements for remote work is good organizational skills, from all sides. You have to be good at managing yourself. You need to know what you are doing, why you are doing it and how you can make things happen. And then, you just do it and make things happen. Remote work means more responsibility for your own actions, but also more freedom to do things your own way.

    I have some hacks for myself, but as a basic rule, it’s all about finding the most suitable practices for oneself. Personally, I prefer keeping my calendar and project plan at hand, both digital and the more traditional (Moleskine) versions, on to which I add more “layers”; practices and gadgets and apps and coffee. To keep me organized and focused at all times. In addition to the paper and pen, syncing my phone (iPhone SE) and laptop (Macbook Air/Pro) and apps is a must, as well as sharing and syncing my calendars (iCal and Google).



    One of the biggest challenges of remote work is how to make the information travel and communications go smoothly. For me, there really shouldn’t be any secrets inside the team/company, to make the remote work really work, and information should travel well and fast.

    First of all, rather than being overly protective over the information, one should be bravely open; communicating, reporting and adjusting regularly. It’s good to systemically keep track on what you are doing and show it to others, be it co-workers, management or your clients. Remotely this doesn’t happen as easily as in traditional offices, but luckily there’s many hacks and solutions which ease the pain.

    And hopefully, your company/team understands what it needs to have to make it work – a culture of trust and responsibility. I share, but only when I can trust that everything is handled with appropriate care and respect.


    For sharing, there’s no single way or app or browser extension to do this, as long as you do it. But when looking at my technical helpers, I’d say Google Drive is very good for filing and sharing, and Evernote for notes and organizing. I also like to use Dropbox for files, Slack for communications, and Basecamp and Trello for project files and chats.

    But that’s only the files and memos; how do I communicate with my team and make the information travel directly between people? How to be open and communicate effectively and successfully between teams, and have productive meetings remotely? Well, Nokia isn’t connecting people anymore, at least not in my circles, but I have few new hacks for this too.

    My go to solutions for one to one communications are Skype, Whatsapp, Messenger and Facetime. And for the advanced meetings and conferences and all team communications, I prefer  Slack or Google Hangouts, JoinMe, Phone.com or appear.in. Moreover, I happily (though some may say stupidly) share with Google and iPhone too, letting them dig into my emails to find the boarding times and hotel bookings and then transfer the data directly into my calendar. This way, my phone and Siri works as my little assistant, sometimes more trustworthy than a real assistant (and it’s way cheaper).

    Psst. Try to say good night to Siri… She also communicates better than some people.

    Tiina Kivelä


    In remote work, you have to say goodbye to the more traditional office social cultures and circles. Funnily enough, even for an introverted unsocial Finn (me), I find the lack of social interactions one of the hardest parts of remote work. Very rarely, if ever, I have company to chat with, right when I’d need it. Not to mention the desire to reflect and brainstorm casually.

    In my previous job, my colleagues were my best friends. In the office, it was easy to catch up in few seconds what everyone was up to in and out the office – and what was going to happen next weekend. No fear of missing out in there. Moreover, having different expertise, strengths and weaknesses working together in the same space made creative problem solving and brainstorming easy, almost natural.


    Working remotely from my own small corner (right now by the fireplace at my parent’s place) I’m missing a lot from that social environment.  The struggle is real. Nevertheless, I try to think that very rarely you are so good friends between colleagues, as I was previously. And very rarely your work is your whole life, your biggest passion. Quite the opposite really – you need social circles to plug off from work. So am I really missing out when not in the same office with everyone else?

    After all, remote work saves me time from other things (like commute and dressing up) and there are many other social interactions I can occupy myself with during that extra time now (hello TED talks and podcasts). And I have the opportunity to choose my company and occupations better. I might miss the Friday drinks with the colleague I don’t any other common interest than Google Analytics hacks. But I can have a Friday drink with the friend I haven’t seen in years instead, and we’ll not talk work. Or if we talk, the chat will most likely bring fresh, inspiring new viewpoints to the subject.


    My work requires a certain degree of creativity and flow moments. And I’ve come to the conclusion that for me forcing is not the way for great results. Moreover, I know I need a good balance between my work, physical activity and rest to keep the productivity levels high (and just to be a nice person to everyone). Luckily, remote work has some perks to make this happen easier than a traditional office job.

    I always keep in mind self-discipline and management and what I’m really paid for (unfortunately, it’s still not mountaineering or skiing) but I don’t see any problem, almost the opposite, on utilizing the freedom of remote work to plan my days as I like, and wing it when needed and possible. When my head starts to feel too heavy with thoughts, I take my running shoes and go for a run; before, middle or after a work day. And if and when needed, I take the meeting call while walking in a forest.

    For organizational reasons, I keep a list of things I need to get done during the day, and meetings are compulsory, but basically, I don’t care when and how something is done, as long as it gets done. Luckily, my boss cares neither.


    Tiina Kivelä



    True to the digital nomad trend, I like to work in public places, cafés and shared offices. Which brings in some extra challenges when it comes to the security.

    To secure my work, I’ve come up with few solutions during the years. First of all, for the physical gear, I now prefer working in special remote work dedicated places like cafés and shared offices, which have thought the needs of freelancers and modern nomads. Which let me store my stuff securely during breaks etc. In Zürich, I ended up working in the public river baths even. These offered tables, safe lockers and excellent options for a little swim in between work. Though big problem in there remained to be that laptop doesn’t like the sun as much as I do.


    When talking about security, we shouldn’t forget the things in our heads, laptops and clouds neither.  You don’t want your thoughts and words to end into the heads of someone whom they don’t belong. Moreover, please note that others, your co-workers, and clients, share with you things which they trust you keep safe and private.

    So please, let’s share but let’s do it responsibly and securely. My personal go-to solution for the internet and laptop security is an F-Secure Freedome package (which btw includes VPN, so I can also watch my favourite shows without the country restrictions), but again you may just find the best solution for you.

    Tiina Kivelä



    Even though I had planned something quite similar, I didn’t know that my time in Lapland would really end up being 100% working holiday for the first months. But when my apartment hunt for the first months resulted in nothing (I blame the students and Airbnb), I just decided to let it be and concentrate my time and energy to something else. Mostly, to the work itself.

    I’m not an artist or 100% creative, but I do like the idea of residencies and creative breaks. I think changing the perspective from time to time suit us digital nomads, travel professionals and other knowledge workers more than fine too. Almost nothing strengthens the professional toolkit more than travelling and working from different places. At least not as easily and funnily. So I keep on living off my suitcase for some time still.

    In Lapland and other places in Europe, the infrastructure for remote work is quite good almost everywhere, and it’s just getting better every month. And even though the living is quite expensive (I wouldn’t try this with Southern European or Asian salary) the overall life quality makes the working holidays in this part of the world quite a good option.  I always try to pick something from every place I visit and stay in, and use it for my work too. When I soon fly back to Switzerland and further on to Marocco, my work travels with me easily. In Marocco I’m not planning to work, but I’m sure I get some good ideas from there too.


    But why the holiday in here? On one hand, calling this “working holiday” reminds me that the reason I really do this is overall well-being and making the most out of what I have. I want the lifestyle which makes me happy; good amount of family, friends, hobbies, mountains, good healthy food, adventures, coffee etc. And with remote work, I can make it happen, the life of which I don’t need to take holiday from.

    On the other hand, I many times work in places where I’d also spend a real holiday (which I have less than the average person). And it’s amazing how much you can really do in between working, in the evenings and especially on the weekends, if and when you focus on making it happen. For me, it took Switzerland (and good friends) to understand that life is really meant to be lived and even though work takes the minimum. 37,5h of my week (in Finland) I still have 130,5h to spend doing something else than work. And that’s the holiday part really.

    Nevertheless, I want to point out that remote work is still a work. The hacks mentioned here help me to survive the work load and I try to do my best to focus on the good in my location independence. But honestly, distance sucks, and the dream really doesn’t come free. Digital nomadism isn’t as sexy as it sounds, at least not in my reality. For me, it’s mainly just the solution which came up when I couldn’t find a “traditional” job from the places(s) I wanted to live and spent most of my days in.  It’s closest my dream job I’ve ever gotten, and I have the life I don’t really need a holiday from. But it’s still a work with deadlines, challenges and moments of frustration. I don’t say this to encourage people, but to be honest. It’s a nice lifestyle, but like almost everything else it requires prioritising and sacrifices.


    I’ve here talked lengthily about my remote work hacks, struggles and perks. Hopefully, you had enough coffee. And as I’m always on the look for even better things, I would like to end this by putting up a challenge for everyone still reading this and extra interested in the subject.

    I would like to ask you to think if there’s something you could do to make remoter work even better? Do you see here the potential for services and products to offer for remote workers? Or know of better remote work hacks than I do? Maybe you have a company with remote workers whose life and work you would like to make easier (and this way make them even more productive)? Or do you work in administration, planning or DMO and wonder how you could attract more remote workers and make your place more livable for us remote workers too? Please think these and then think what would be the better solutions.

    Again, commenting is free, so please leave your comments below or email me directly, with your ideas and solutions or just with anything you would like to say on the subject.

    Oh and btw, doesn’t this place below look like a place you would like to do some remote work, have a meeting or a nap? Seen last December in LAAX, Switzerland. Maybe this winter I’m back there, working remotely.


    2016 Laax Tiina Kivelä


    FI: Pari sanaa etätyöstä ja tästä nykyisestä elämäntavastani, näin tiistain kunniaksi. Niiden töiden vuoksi en nyt valitettavasti ehdi kääntää koko juttua suomeksi, mutta jos jotakuta kiinnostaa sama juttu suomeksi, niin heitä viestiä ja katsotaan jos saisin suomenkielisen etätyöjutun aikaiseksi myös.