• Living Out Of A Suitcase With Mixed Feelings

    Tiina Kivelä

    Technically, I’ve been living out of a suitcase for almost four months now. One third of a year. I’ve had more or less permanent residencies during this time though, but the suitcase has stayed in the middle of a room all this time, in one form or other. And at this point, I’m a bit tired of this. First world problem, I know. But still – this not easy and I’m looking forward to December, when I’ll finally have a place for my stuff and myself, more of less permanent.

    On one hand, I’m wondering what I’ll do with all that personal space I’ll get with the flat. And what I will do with all that stuff in the storage still, which I haven’t needed the past 17 months. On the other, I can’t wait to have a place in where to rest properly. To have a place where to sit down and reflect, close to my books and coffee mugs and history. Hotels are nice, like the one I’m now in Helsinki, but they aren’t the same (and they are damn expensive in the longer run). It’s been an accidental experiment and important lesson this nomad life. An eye opener for my privileges, and misfortune. It’s a privilege, this freedom, but I’ve also been misfortunate – having had to move and start over so many times.

    Before I get my stuff out of the storage, I try to find enough time for a good reflection.  I’ll not read KonMari or any of the “how to have a good life as a woman” books out there (which seems to be a massive trend now, this women’s wellness). Instead, I’ll think how my grandmother used to organize her life in tiny places and around essential routines. I’m planning to make a list of the stuff I’ve really missed and needed, and also to built enough self discipline that when I’ll open the boxes, I’ll easily throw sell/give away the stuff I haven’t even remembered owning. I may read book or two about personal growth too (not the KonMari though); about how to identify and execute the essential, and just manage the hustle better. But I’ll not get overly stressed about straight lines on top of my chia bowl…

    Yes, you may noticed I have a few issues with the women’s wellness trend – I mean, I’m all about wellness, just read below, and all my post of nice hotel rooms and spa’s I’ve spent time this year. But making wellness another highly stressed way of live, and add more pressure to lean in and have it all… No thanks. I run my marathon but I’ll also drink my beer. Without regrets.

    Tiina Kivelä


    I’ve come to notice that when you live out of a suitcase, you are kind of a drifter, no matter how cool it may look. Day by day, it gets easier to leave, to move on and not care too much. Which, essentially, creates almost an unbearable lightness of being, as Milan Kundera has put it in one of my favorite books. You don’t really have your own space this way; the only space you can and will claim is yourself. Or that’s how I feel about it. While being overly connected in one way, and so happy for all the technology and money and freedom, which allows me to keep contact to my friends and loved ones wherever I am or they are, and travel and move this much, I feel overly disconnected. I can and I go as I like. Unbearable lightness, that is.

    I don’t seem to be alone in this. Some say comfort is the new cool. That more than ever, we seek to regain connection and comfort. For ourselves and others. For some, this creates new business opportunities and others try to remake a remake of the office before another remake. And for someone like me, this is shown in the way I turn into comforting things, familiar things; solitude and stories and food and even wine. Nature and sleep and good design. Things which soothe and reduce the stress and noise in the head.  Things which make me physically so tired that I forget how mentally trained I am. Remember the marathon?

    Research at the University of Oregon concluded that exposure to sunlight and outdoor views correlated to about 6 percent fewer sick days than those without

    I’m still looking for the good place to live in. Not sure I even need to find a place, but something is missing here. It doesn’t need to be a place, maybe it’s other way of moving on. But something, something can be done better, like always. Maybe I start with the sunlight exposure. And outdoor activity possibilities.

    These days, me and my suitcase are exploring Helsinki. Browsing books and listening good writers in Helsinki book fair; drinking wine and tasting food (there’s Applenzeller cheese – grüezi!) in wine & book fair, and having cocktails and meet-ups with local friends. Helsinki is still not my cup of tea, quite far from it, and I’m afraid it never will be. But like always, good people and good moments make it bearable. Some book and wine tips will follow here, for sure, and maybe, hopefully, some bar & restaurant tips too.

    Tiina Kivelä

    Yesterday, I arrived in Helsinki during a heavy snowfall. In the evening, I walked to the restaurant to meet a friend, along snowy Aleksanterinkatu, to Senate Square and the Cathedral, which stood there like an ice queen, opposite the cozy looking restaurants with candles and beautiful people.  It was snowing still, big fluffy flakes, and the scene was a bit melancholy, nevertheless lovely, fusion between Nordic Noir and Leo Tolstoi: “The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience”. Then I went and had some awesome cocktails which had their literary references right with my friend.

    On my way to sleep I stopped to get a falafel-halloumi pita from Fafa’s (my Helsinki late night routine for years already), before returning to my suitcase. From there, I picked my pyjamas, sat down to browse the books I bought from the book fair, and tried to think something which would read cool and thoughtful in here. But in reality, I was just happy I had food, a big comfy bed and warm shower. I thought I needed a good rest and I knew I’d gonna get it the next few nights. And luckily, others had already said what I needed at this point.

    Like my altime favorite Tove Jansson has said, snow also looks (and really is) cold, but if you make a snowhouse of it (like the snow lantern or igglo), the house will be warm. With the same logic, maybe this “cold” life can also be warm, if I make it warm. I don’t know yet how, but I’m on my way. Wish me luck. And please, if you have any tips of how to make this kind of life more bearable, share your thoughts. Me and my suitcase would appreciate. And maybe there’s someone else struggling with the same things as I. So hi – you’re not alone.




  • BLOG
  • But I’m Hiking In Lapland

    Tiina Kivelä

    Despite the recent efforts and wishes I still haven’t seen any tickets to Switzerland with my name. Luckily though, the sun started to shine in Lapland as well. And on top of that, the first snow arrived with glistering frost and magical landscape. Yay! They’ve also opened the first “stored” snow Nordic skiing tracks in Rovaniemi, so it’s not so bad being here either. I haven’t been skiing yet, but I’ve enjoyed the weather and posed well for selfies while hiking in Lapland – exactly in Pyhä-Luosto National Park in the pictures, for example. [Strava data]

    And please, let me have a fashion blogger moment in here. May I introduce: my cool new jacket! It was damn expensive, but as it’s 6 years since my last shell jacket I kind of needed badly a new one. Moreover, this practical beauty (and apparently a bit of eco too) is finally a jacket which is long enough to cover my butt (no fitness blogger butt selfies in this blog), and it has long enough sleeves while being lean enough. Quite naturally then, it’s the kind of self-care I deserve, especially with this color (still a rare find in women’s collections).

    This week I’m having few more days of this and work, followed by weekend in Helsinki, for some books and wine and urban training (Helsinki Book Fair, some wine & food fair which has no english name, running, swimming and sauna). Maybe I find and can then tip you another cool remote working place in there too. In the series of which, I’ve moved myself into a new office up here, so less remote work in the coming weeks. And I have to say, if something, constant change is permanent in my life. It’s not light, but it has some good sides too. At least I don’t get bored easily.

    Now I’m plugging off to sleep the Monday blues away. Take care, enjoy the sun while you can, and talk to you later!

    Tiina Kivelä

    Where: Pyhä-Luosto National Park


  • BLOG
  • Winter is Coming & I wish I’d Be In Switzerland Now

    Tiina Kivelä

    Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot of autumn in Switzerland – that awesome indian summer, which according to the messages is there again. This time though, I’m myself back to Lapland – I clearly didn’t think this through when signing for this work gig last summer. While bathing in Zürich, it was hard to remember that the long and dark winter was waiting. And right now, it’s very hard, if not impossible, to not forget the kaamos, as we call this dark period in Finland.

    In Lapland, my least favorite season is this late autumn, October and November. Up here, it’s the season which develops from 50 shades of autumn to 100 shades of grey, ultimately leading to pitch black polar night. Some years, early snow and crispy clear, sunny late autumn days soothe the pain a bit, not to forget the nordic skiing if and when snow arrives early. And there’s stars and moon and northern lights – signs of sun and light somewhere. Though not this year, because of the never ending overcast. It’s definitely one of the most challenging periods, and this year doesn’t seem to make exception.

    During the years, I have developed quite good survival skills for this season though (might have some resemblance to hygge). I exercise and spent as much time as possible outdoors, preferably during midday, to get as much natural light as possible. And I try to date people as much as possible – this is not a good time to be alone (thought reading, netflix, knitting and ski movies aren’t bad options either). I drink moderately, if any, alcohol, and try to get at least 8h sleep per night, take additional vitamin D and make the dreams come true as far as credit balance permits. It’s time for daydreaming, and while others hunt game, I hunt for last minute flights. Somewhere like Switzerland.

    Nowadays I try to avoid thinking “what if” too much. Rather, I think how to do it. Nevertheless, sometimes I can’t make it, no matter what. And then only option left is daydreaming, the what if. And so, below my tips on what to do in Switzerland this time of the year (fyi that’s what I’ve been dreaming). Maybe you have better options than I have, and can even make it. Maybe my dream could be your reality. So, my pleasure, you’re welcome. Free of charge. But if you want to give something in return and happen to have some kind of magic recipe for getting there conveniently and cheaply, let me know – I would really like to make it there too. As soon as possible.

    Tiina Kivelä

    If I’d be in Switzerland, I’d start from my normal landing city, Zürich. In there, I’d stop for wine on a boat during Expovina, and maybe do some window shopping too. Then, I’d pretend I could effort every day like this, and go to Markthalle, eat simple hangover breakfasts like the one below (I really didn’t have hangover then, but it does look like it, I admit), and eat excellent burritos in the city.

    After Zürich, I’d take the one hour train to Bern. In there, I’d first and foremost visit Berner Weinmesse (Oct. 13th-22nd).  Yes, I know, it’s after the Expovina, in a matter of fact right now, so hurry up – but like said, we are dreaming here so we don’t need to care about the facts too much).  After wine, or well I should really do it before, I’d do some people watching and remote work in Einstein Café and shop a bit mountain gear.

    There’s no Switzerland without bathing, I’ve come to realise, and so I’d consider going to Valais to do a crispy wine hike and combine it with a spa day or two in Leukerbad, or to another region for an excellent bad, like Rigi. Of course I’d also take a dip in the natural waters like Aare river, but this time of the year a heated pool and sauna is more than nice compulsory addition too. Maybe all this would include some yoga too. And moments like this.

    Tiina Kivelä

    Finally, after few days of wine and pampering, I’d end up in my Swiss home region, the Jungfrau Region. To say hi to my friends and continue up to the mountains, to get the balance right after all the wine*. Up there, I’d enjoy the hopefully clear technicolor days like last year, run down the hill in the style of sound of music (maybe), hike up and stay a night or two in the winter room of some of the huts. If I’d be lucky, I’d taste the first snow, and if not, there’s always the eternal snow waiting up in the mountains – maybe I should already visit the Jungfraujoch as well. And of course I’d take a concerned look on the melting glaciers, and learn more mountaineering tricks.

    All this, with the sun, would hopefully provide me with enough energy and inspiration to survive rest of the year until another ski season. And if you bring my tips into action, I’m sure they delight you too. If not, there’s something wrong with you then 😉 People, go to Switzerland, especially during the off-season. Or wait. You can also leave it all to me. I’ll go book my tickets now…

    Tiina Kivelä


    *I’ll gonna do a poor northern woman weinmesse version in Viini & Ruoka -expo in Helsinki Oct. 26th-29th. So if I manage to find the reasonably priced flights to Switzerland, it’s gonna be lots of wine then. Didn’t I just mention the moderate amount of alcohol?

    Where: Berner Weinmesse 13.-22.10.2017, Bern

    Expovina 2.-16.11.2017, Zürich

    Huttour, SAC & my tips for a tour, Switzerland

    Inspiration for mountains: Alpinsight