• Going Happy Places – Upgrade My Winter 2017-2018

    Tiina Kivelä

    While daydreaming in the middle of this November darkness, I thought it would be a good idea to write down a bit more about the dreams I’m planning to make reality this winter season. The dreams for which I’ve joined the #skierssquatchallenge (thanks for the inspiration Sandra), and for which I find the motivation to explore running the icy remote small town roads in pouring rain like Rocky.

    For this winter, I’m already past the first first half of the preparation project. Because these dreams really need  preparation and work to turn to reality. I’ve done the squats, gone running and nordic skiing, and lowered the spending and alcohol intake (after the wine fair that is). Unfortunately, I can’t have the long high altitude weekend hikes from last year. Those were the secret for surviving last winter and spring and even the marathon, and they were just so fun. But I do hope the other activities and even a bit more structured plan (I even have kind of a bullet journal now) will do good as well.

    This winter and the year coming, I want to really improve my mountain skills, both when it comes to skiing, running, skitouring and mountaineering. I wanna do some more “things I wanna do before I turn 30” things like the marathon already finished, and concentrate on my wellbeing, for common good (hello future employers and cooperators, I’m thinking of you too in here).

    Nobody climbs on skis now and almost everybody breaks their legs but maybe it is easier in the end to break your legs than to break your heart although they say that everything breaks now and that sometimes, afterwards, many are stronger at the broken places.


    Tiina Kivelä


    Talking of the dreams I have for this winter, one of the biggest is to spent more time in my happy places. First, in December I’m going to Switzerland to get my stuff, meet lovely people, and hopefully enjoy some December Swiss pow.  Then I’ll continue to Austria to catch up with some awesome mountain babes, and enjoy as much glühwein and raclette as possible, as it’s the Weihnachtsmarkt -season.

    After the reunion with my dear Alps, I’ll hopefully hop on plane back north for Christmas or at least New Years. Hopefully, because no tickets bought yet. As the sad story goes, Germania doesn’t offer the direct flights from Zürich to Rovaniemi this winter. Therefore, I have to consider more carefully when I have time and money to fly, with the expensive Finnair transfer flights. Especially during the extremely busy Christmas season, when charters are filling every airport in Lapland and Christmas tourists the regular flights.

    I haven’t been up here for the holiday season in two years, and I’ll have a brand new apartment then, so I kind of would like to be here for the holidays. But again, it might become too expensive and also, working for Santa for 4 months now I’ve had enough of this Christmas by now. The sun and cheap wine of south wouldn’t be a bad option either…

    After the holidays and turning to 2018, wherever that will be, I’ll get down to the Alps again in January, to go skiing in La Grave. Booked the camp through Boundless Betty again (not paid ad, just a honest recommendation) and I really hope this will improve my skiing and mountain skills a lot. Of course I’m going there also for the raclette, and to hang out with amazing women again, because why not. Alps are always a good idea.

    Then, depending on the work situation, I get back north north or stay south the rest of the winter, doing as many weekend adventures as possible before the spring ski mountaineering season comes into play. This will include a longer hochtour/hauteroute tour, and some cross-country skiing I hope. Plans and funding aren’t clear about these last ones yet, but fingers crossed (and work to do) there’s gonna be good trips like these later in the winter and spring too.

    Finally, and since my birthday is waiting in May, I also hope to squeeze in (and find the money for) a longer trip this winter (fyi: spring in south means winter in Lapland). Number one destination would be Colombia, for catching up with friends there, learning Spanish and experiencing the Colombian multisport scene. And more than anything else, to enjoy the sun, lack of which I’ve suffered hard this autumn. My friend also said, when inviting me there, that I should show with my experience how Colombia is a destination for a adventurous woman solo traveler. Ready for the challenge, but again let’s see if there’s enough funds and holidays for that.

    Finally there was the great glacier run, smooth and straight, forever straight if your legs could hold it, your ankles locked, you running so low, leaning into the speed, dropping forever and forever in the silent hiss of the crisp powder. It was better than any flying or anything else, and you built the ability to do it and to have it with the long climbs, carrying the heavy rucksacks. You could not buy it nor take a ticket to the top. It was the end we worked all winter for, and all the winter built to make it possible.


    2017 Tiina Kivelä


    This winter my plan is to write more, about my training and plans and projects, in here. I’m not sure how many is interested really, but still. To tell you, whoever is interested, what it takes to get to the final stage, to do those long climbs ahead, and stay alive those great glacier runs.

    First of all, even if you don’t do freeskiing or the other kind of adventures like I do, I think you could get good tips from my basic endurance and strength training, just to make your everyday challenges like work more bearable, and your body to handle all that more conveniently. Second, for the fellow mountain people, I hope the avalanche stuff and insights on how I view and manage all the risks help you to get forward in the mountains as well. Finally, I hope my insights on how I generally balance my life with my full-time job, all this travel, exercise and relationships, could be of help for someone else. Even if just letting you know that you’re not alone.

    Like already said, last winter didn’t go so well in the end, so I hope this time I know how to do this better. This winter I’m really going to upgrade. Be it doing like the Swiss Tourism tells me to do in the video below – to upgrade my winter in the Swiss mountains (check! – booked and the skis are waiting me there already) or just doing everything better this winter, wherever I am.

    Tiina Kivelä

    I do have few extra challenges this winter though, like the non-existent direct flights and still unknown future since my current work project ends soon. But I hope that knowing I need to keep better eye on these things, I manage to beat those challenges and travel to the highest mountains and unknown territories more than once.


    the fun of skiing was to get up into the highest mountain country where there was no one else and where the snow was untracked and then travel from one high Alpine Club hut to another over the top passes and glaciers of the Alps. You must not have a binding that could break your leg if you fell. The ski should come off before it broke your leg. What he really loved was unroped glacier skiing, but for that we had to wait until spring when the crevasses were sufficiently covered.


    Tiina Kivelä

    Let’s hope those springy glacier runs will be good and if interested, follow my journey here, in Instagram or Facebook.

    Let’s do our best to upgrade everything this winter.

    Where: Berner Oberland, Switzerland

    Quotes: Ernest Hemingway

  • BLOG
  • 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
  • How My Remote Work Works

    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