• Life Begings on The Other Side of Despair

    ,Maybe all the very good things require extra effort.

    Around the end of March last year, I worked the last days of my seasonal job of that winter. Which wasn’t a great time to finish a temporary contract with no new contract waiting.

    Right then, pandemic happened and most of the country (Switzerland) went into lockdown. Which meant closed shops and tourism and distance requirements (this rule should be kept though, pandemic or not; greetings from an introverted Finn). To make things even worse for me in person, also my permit was tied to the previous work I had. This solved eventually just fine, but required way more paperwork and innovativeness than in other circumstances. 

    During the pandemic, I haven’t been entitled for any additional support nor helping adjustments; except the help (and bikes) I got from my family. (Extremely grateful for them and very aware what kind of privilege I now have.) For me, there wasn’t any kurzarbeit (the Swiss/German system supporting the firms and workers in a crisis like pandemic). Nor was I entitled for unemployment benefits. I also didn’t have any holidays previously not taken to allow me to take a breather. (I would have really needed it. Then and now.)

    From Big Plans To Small Victories

    Spring of 2020 and the following year was a difficult one. Although the pandemic didn’t affect me the worst. Pretty far from it. After the year, I may even say that the year was one of the best I have ever lived. Challenging, difficult and tiring, yes. But also exciting, rewarding and full of pretty nice moments.

    Apparently, over the years I have effectively build up a good resilience reserve. And may I say, a bit of native sisu as well. 

    2020-2021 helped me to grow and develop my person and skills tremendously, and it helped me to see that I really was, and still am, on the right path for me. In 2020 I also managed to make enough effort for the requirements of a more permanent residence permit and my official Master’s degree. Though as the global style went, no big parties for those achievements.

    Last year in February/March, when the pandemic started, I had big plans  – or may I say wishes – for the year.

    I wanted to make big steps. I wanted go visit Lapland in spring, to ski nordic and celebrate my dad turning 60. I also planned to make a second, a bit longer, visit to Lapland in summer. To run and volunteer in Jukola orienteering relay under the midnight sun in Rovaniemi, near the Arctic Circle, and to make an inventory on my things still in a storage in Lapland, to finally get the last essential pieces to Switzerland. And in Autumn, I was planning to celebrate the wedding of my dear friend in Lapland, and see the many babies born to my friends in 2020.

    Well, as you may easily guess by now, none of that happened. I still have my stuff in the storage in Lapland and haven’t seen the babies, who by now are already boys and girls walking around.

    In 2020 I also hoped for many things to happen in Switzerland.

    In summer, with my new road bike, I wanted to bike few Alpine passes or at least the Grosse Scheidegg in Jungfrau Region. With my mountain bike, I wished to make trips to Lenzerheide and Flumserberg.

    On foot, I was planning to run, if not the whole Via Alpina across whole Switzerland then at least some stretches of it, and stay a night or two in the mountain huts on the way.

    More than else, I waited 2020 to gift me with free weekends, or at least Sundays. To have more free days together with the person in these pictures. (For a year before the spring of 2020 I had worked basically every weekend and holiday, while he was and still is mainly working on weekdays and having the weekends and public holidays free.) 

    Well, also those things didn’t happen. I executed very good plan b’s though, and between the springs of 2020 and 2021 managed to do many great adventures. I biked, hiked and ran many nice tours, and even swam few times in the lovely Swiss lakes. I also got into sauna once, despite not having my own and the public saunas closed for the pandemic reasons. And I celebrated my first proper Christmas in Switzerland, free from work with my dear Swiss family.

    Most happy I have been, despite all the challenges, about how I also managed to work enough for my money. First, it required me to do some random babysitting gigs. Then, it required switching my German studies to a whole new level; intensive and practical learning alongside working when I was happy to spent a busy summer waitressing (without any proper education and just a few days of previous experience). In autumn, I did a brief stint in remote sales project work in my home office in the mountains (yes, for a while I was also part of that trendy group of people working in the mountains during pandemic).

    It Could Have Been Worse

    With those random jobs and ad hoc schedules – on top of the pandemic – it was impossible to realise my initial dreams and plans for 2020. 

    But when I write this in the spring of 2021, when I again for about a month have had mostly free weekends and extra uncertainty similar to last spring, I can’t help thinking that there’s been certain beauty in everything. I don’t support the all positive vibes bs, nor the idea that every good thing requires hell a lot fight and struggle. No pain no gain works sometimes, not always.

    In my life, I am now mostly grateful for what I have and have gotten; to experience and to keep. Which is pretty damn lot, in a global picture at least. I mean, I have also have managed to live this far without the virus in my body.

    And during the two March 2021 skitours in the pictures I really realised how I really know how to live my life well. Also, I understood that while it’s all the time becoming more pain in the * to ski with the over 10 year old ski-binding-boot set-up, it’s on the other hand very sustainable, responsible way of skiing. Especially if and when combined with powder turns well earned by skinning and bootpacking instead of carving groomers after a lift assisted uphill. 

    And how that living well most of the times requires the effort, the challenge, the tiring uphill and scary unknown causing stress and worry. One time you are rewarded with a fluffy powder run and a cold beer after sauna. Another time it’s a dream job and a new language learned (my latest learned language comes with the ability to chat comfortably with the local population, and that’s great). 

    Funnily enough, I also found myself in Lenzerheide this spring. Though not with bike (yet) but with nordic skis and permission to visit hammam. Grateful for that, yet hoping that this year doesn’t turn as challenging as the previous. So that I finally get to Lenzerheide with my bike and that I get to spent more weekends with this butt. 


  • BLOG
  • Life Well Lived – Rethinking The Greatest Passion

    For many, it was cold water swimming. Or sourdough bread baking. In the Nordics it seems to have been knitting fluffy beanies and Icelandic sweaters. In Switzerland, it was Nordic skiing. The biggest trend of the pandemic winter 2020/2021.

    For me, the trend was not any of the above mentioned old loves of mine (though I have been thinking of getting back into them soon again, and I have skied nordic nicely lot this winter too). For me, the trend of this pandemic winter was rethinking my greatest passion. (And some other stuff but about those some other time.)

    During the past decade and a half, I though my biggest passion was travel. I studied a Master of Science degree with specialisation in Tourism Research. I worked in hospitality and tourism industry from guiding and service to marketing and research. I traveled for fun and work, not a lot but still a good amount. No backpacking in Asia, but surfing in Morocco and clubbing in Berlin.

    Then came the pandemic, lockdowns and travel restrictions. A brief stint back in travel SaaS business and experience economy happened too and especially my longest time – during the past decade and a half – in one country . (For about one and a half year now, I haven’t traveled outside Switzerland nor much longer than in 100km radius from my home base – moved once though, with about 100km moving distance.)

    For me, the pandemic has been marked with the realisation that I do not miss travel itself much. I do miss some things only travel makes possible. And I miss the biking in Copenhagen for the best Danish pastries and I miss eating tapas in Granada watching moon rise above Alhambra and Sierra Nevada mountains. But I don’t miss much travel itself nor working in travel – it is the other things, related and not related to travel I miss.

    It is living and breathing different places and cultures. It is learning about those. It is challenging myself with foreign exciting stuff and steep climbs on mountain sides. It is is the learning, the personal development and empowerment – living the life well and making my best to make the good life possible to myself and others I am the most passionate about.

    Luckily, living well has been possible during the pandemic as well (maybe even more now, for also certain amount of solitude and the distance to other people and crowds is important in the very good life of a introvert like me).

    Staying in one place, I have been able to impress myself with other cultures and practice my language skills, challenge myself and develop multiple personal and professional abilities and traits. It is also been a good possibility to get rid of some habits not good for me, and of  things which do not support me on my path toward my dreams (again, no big crowds nor closer than 2m distance to strangers, thank you.)

    I have also been blessed with a long stay close to my most loved one and enjoying the everyday (as far as the restrictions allow) with the best people, and a damn good of a support and ass kicker bubble. And my bikes, skis, shoes, digital devices,  pens, papers, books and coffee machines have been here too, helping me to get the most out of my capabilities and this life so great.

    At some point this website and my blog was supposed to be a travel blog. Then a lifestyle blog with lots of travel and outdoors. Then it kinda went to sleep, with the so many things and changes happening during the 2020/2021 pandemic. But now I thought to wake it up more regularly again. With less travel and more developing, learning and exploring. Flashback stories from the past year and new stories from the adventure ahead. And more importantly, many many snapshots of life well lived. Because that is my greatest passion.

    Yes most likely a lot of biking too. Because that belongs to the life well lived like enough sleep, food and water. And we seem to be almost in the season already.


    biking tiina kivela mtb

    enduro bike tiina kivela

    mtb tiina kivela

  • BLOG
  • When Nothing Is Sure Everything Is Possible

    I am not the first to say what a time to be alive. Also in here, where the mountain tops turn pink for a short moment at sunset (not always but enough often still) and the forests and alpine pastures are sprinkled with brave little spring flowers.

    The ski season (resort one) ended abruptly last week, about a month before the normal end. The little sports/outdoors retailer and ski rental/service I have worked for this winter has been closed from public since this Monday. Following the orders by the authorities, to fight the covid-19 more effectively.

    Like many, I don’t have new (day) job from April on and everything is suddenly so scary and worrying.

    Nevertheless, I hold on to the outdoors and main parts of the lifestyle I have. The lifestyle which kinda is the caring social distancing advised. I am not in quarantine and in Switzerland we don’t (yet) have to keep indoors. We can still explore outdoors – which I am very very happy – and other places still open as long as we remember to keep the distance to other people, not meet in big groups.

    And we can do that especially as long as we remember to do our best to not end up as one of the patients of the already struggling healthcare system. (Outdoor people, especially note that, please.)

    For a Finnish woman with very hermit habits everyday, it’s easy to follow the rules and live nicely with the restrictions. Of course I am worried how I pay rent next month and how it all goes with this and many other things. But still I am doing pretty fine. And the good in bad, I if someone am used to live through and survive tiny catastrophes and constant uncertainty (maybe at some point can also offer you some book tips and other advice on the subject).

    I yet don’t know what exactly I will do next, how I pay the rent and how long I can keep going this freely in my backyard and around Switzerland. Especially I don’t yet know how I could help the best way possible in this situation – I don’t have healthcare skills nor yet even know well enough the local language – but in Instagram I have already started by sharing as much as possible  the good vibes and views I have everyday (especially for the ones who can’t currently go out) and I try to also be more active in my blogs and business offerings.

    Write new stories, share new tips, publish more photos and maybe even my drawings and other creations.

    That’s what I can do pretty well and I hope it can also somehow be of help – or just tiny bit of joy – for someone.

    While also, I just wanted to say this: Take care. This too shall pass.

    When nothing is sure everything is possible.



    Engelberg Titlis Swiss Alps Tiina Kivelä

    Where: Engelberg, Switzerland