Hello Helsinki

I’m wondering, how did I end up here? Just to notice that I miss home. Home, such a weird word for me, I thought I would never experience such a thing. I thought I would feel like an outsider everywhere for the rest of my life but suddenly, like a plot twist, I realised that I miss Helsinki. All of it grew stronger while I was visiting Finland during the winter holidays. Home, could it be that even though I’ve tried to find it in more than one corner in this world, it was right in front of my eyes. And I don’t want to twist it, I needed all the memories to come to the point in my life where I could say; MAYBE it is Helsinki where I should be. Maybe, because to be sure is like saying never, that kind of a commitment to one place is too much. I cannot say ‘I would never live anywhere else than…’ that would be self-denial. But at the moment, for this time and place, it feels right. And that is new too, that something feels right.

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I left Finland a year ago because I missed adventure but what kind of an adventure I missed? I think I’ve got it twisted, I’ve always had my way to go, my trademark. Whenever, wherever I can go but what it means to stay? My way to build life has been in ‘go’ not in ‘stay’. Looking from a different perspective, it might seem that you need courage and fearlessness to live in different countries or study in different languages but to me, this is the norm, to me ‘stay’ means courage and fearlessness. I’ve never demand such a thing from myself, I feel that it would take away part of my freedom. And to feel free…freedom is something that I value highly. However, could it be that these two things can be present in my life at the same time? It’s like having my roots on the ground but my head up in the sky. Can ‘stay’ and ‘free’ be merged together or is this a classic example of trying to eat two cakes at the same time?

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I’m willing to try and balance this out in Helsinki. It took me some time and unexpected happenings last year to end up applying for roles back in Finland. And I did put my name into a contract for a new job last week and made the decision to come home. How it is going to unfold from here, I don’t know, I wish though to find a piece of ‘stay’ in me without compromising my freedom. That is the recipe I’ve tried to create and it seems that with try and error I’ve started to find ingredients I need to create a life that smells, tastes and looks like me.

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In Rainbows

I’m still dancing through November (knock on wood). Facebook has been kindly reminding (with the function that tells you; x years ago you posted this) me about albums like Kid A and Amnesiac, but I’m not in the mood for those. Although, I have to confess that when I found out that In Rainbows (FINALLY) is on Spotify, my playlist has been pretty much Radiohead on loop. At least one could view it a bit more ‘light spirited’ compared to Kid A or Amnesiac (I don’t want to disappear completely, however not sure is don’t get any big ideas, they’re not gonna happen any better?  :’D). Past autumn has been busy (as every other autumn I would say) but it is flavoured with me returning my thesis (yay, graduation is one step closer and if everything goes fine I will get that certificate end of this year… at last! what a relief). What I’ve been up to lately in Helsinki is brunches. I’m still figuring out when to do another post for coffee places (there are more than couple good ones in Kallio area), but because I happen to have footage from a really nice breakfast/brunch place I think it is better to stick to that. Plus I have no idea what else I could write about but I still feel like writing. It seemed logical to talk about KUUMA.

KUUMA is a relatively nice place in the corner of Pursimiehenkatu and Albertinkatu in Punavori (I know, am I too favourable for the places here in my hoods? But what can you do, Punavuori delivers one of the nicest restaurants and cafés in Helsinki). I heard about it from my friend (who lives btw in Espoo…) and I thought I needed a tiny yummy break from my thesis and decided to have an all-day breakfast in KUUMA (which translates in English as HOT). And just to be sure how much I like the place, I met my cousin today in there. Here are some pictures from their breakfast and yes, I can warmly recommend. What I have had is an Avocado Toast and Chia pudding with a juice and coffee (awwwww… yes.)

Coffee & Helsinki pt.2

So, after having my first V60 on Saturday (of course at Kaffa) I think it is a good time to write more about Cafés in Helsinki. Next three is going to be from city center area and not in any particular order once again. First Johan & Nyström Coffee. Located in idyllic Katajanokka with a sea view and warm welcoming atmosphere topped up with nice coffee, not more you can ask for? I think I mentioned earlier, my usually ‘to go’ –drink is Latte which is served in nice glass mugs and there are some little treats you can choose to go with coffee if you feel like it. Menu for all the coffee possibilities is projected into a wall and there are plenty to choose from. Similarly to Kaffa you can buy all the necessary accessories to make your coffee also at home and staff is helpful if you need assistance. But for me, it is the atmosphere in here which comes from the location and interior design that makes me go back for coffee in here. Often if I’m showing Helsinki to someone I take them here. Below picture from last summer showing that awesome view and cafe heart I got last time when I visited the shop. How to get here? Easiest way is to take a tram to Senate Square and walk from there to the shop.

Second place is the newest addition to coffee places I’ve visited in Helsinki called Mad Possum. Due to the years in China I like my coffee hot (usually other beverages too like warm water, tea…even during summer time), nonetheless temperature outside. But after walking for a whole day I stepped out of my routines and tasted iced latte. And yes, it was a good choice. You know those times you have to choose what are you going to have and you slightly want to try something new but end up disappointed? This time there were no disappointment in the air, my latte had excellent taste. Besides the iced latte I heard nice reviews of Espresso that my friends were having. Place is small, by square meters it is most likely one of the smallest places I’ve visited in Helsinki. In this case that is not a problem, it separates Mad Possum from other places and creates certain feeling to the place. Once again staff is more than helpful and if you feel like chatting for a longer or not at all there is a room for both. Located near Senate Square in Vironkatu in Kruunuhaka, easiest way to get there is by taking a tram to Kaisaniemenpuisto (trams 3, 6, 6T or 9) or Kansallisarkisto (trams 1A or 7B). Because place is small and I have some issues photographing in places where I could accidentally harass someone’s chilling I only have picture from the outside.

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And last is La Torrefazione, this is located in da spot. Meaning that it is always busy and it is next to Stockmann (oldest and biggest department store in Helsinki). I would recommend this place, if you are a bit hungry but same time would feel like having a coffee. La Torrefazione serves really nice menu of Ciabattas and cakes if you feel like something sweet (also vegan choices, yay!). I would say compared to other two option this is more like a café in a traditional sense where you would just order and move to eat what you wanted in a table you choose (or in this case you take a table that is free). Therefore it would not give so much choices in terms of if you want to know more about the coffee you’re drinking or you feel like chatting with the barista (I’ve never been in here and not seeing a queue to the counter). But it is located in a really good spot and compared to other chain cafés it serves quality coffee (using Kaffa’s beans see my first post on Coffee and Helsinki) and nice range of other beverages and things to eat. It is easy to walk from Central Railway station or Kamppi to La Torrefazione, but if you feel like taking public transportation take a tram to Alekstanterinkatu (trams 2, 4, 5 or 7B).

 

As a bonus, El Fante which is a coffe&wine bar, therefore anytime you feel like having some wine or coffee El Fante is a good choice. Serving Good Life Coffee (I will introduce Good Life Coffee in third Coffee & Helsinki post from Cafes in Kallio area) and located just couple steps from Senate Square it is a good place to visit while sight seeing Helsinki. Link to the map: https://goo.gl/maps/e7VcqrZY5kv

Moderat

I usually don’t like to talk about my experiences in first hand. It seems, well too close like I would reveal too much of myself. I write about my life but there is always certain filters or I write it in a wider perspective that only relates to my life. But Sunday nights experience was something different. There is a certain euphoria to music and I’m just experiencing that for a third day in a row after Moderat’s live gig I saw on Sunday in Helsinki. And I was expecting a lot, it didn’t help that my friend put some gas into fire before the gig and described last live sets he saw with a words that doubled that critical mind of mine with expectations.

1733040772Usually expectations are bad, they ruin everything. It is Russian roulette where you wish that you would not get that bullet. Therefore I try not to expect, life is simpler that way. But for Moderat I just couldn’t do it, too much emotional baggage loaded into every beat, melody or a pause. Little did I know when I found Rusty Nails from my friend’s playlist in 2013 that it would be one of the biggest treasures for that year to carry along with me. And when I heard the first beats of Rusty Nails on Sunday, that extended version topped up with visuals and extremely talented playing I just felt small. Actually I felt small for the whole 2h gig, it is almost impossible to find something that is so well thought and executed with level of perfection with edge that keeps it still real, tangible and close. But all of that just happened and when everyone else was able to at least burst into some kind of a words after the gig my best ‘sentence’ to come up was ‘that was solid’. And I’m still in it, there are only few things that makes me tickle more than that post euphoric feeling after a live music, especially after a live show that strikes and pokes the right way.

And when it pokes it is just a nanosecond and you are on a time travel. When I was little one of my main concerns were, how it would be in space? If I would just be there, flow in there, how it would feel? Not sure would space feel like that time traveling I experienced on Sunday but I think I was flowing. It is that feeling when you just fall into music, and it just moves through you and you completely forget place and time. There it was and I was stunned, you expect but when something goes beyond your expectations, well you’re in post-traumatic shock. And I think I’m still in it, shock I mean. Music, when it is not pretending to be anything, it becomes everything. And that is rare to find.

I have only one pic from the venue, which was taken before the show started. So for this time, I will spice this post with some tracks from Moderat.

 

Coffee & Helsinki pt. 1

So, where to get your coffee in Helsinki? That would be quite hard questions because there are so many good places in here. What I warmly recommend is to leave Starbucks for the airport and dive nicely and smoothly into world of beans and roasters in Helsinki area. These would not be in particular order but first comes my local coffee place which happens to be (lucky me!) Kaffa. Located in the heart of Helsinki, Punavuori (I might be a bit biased with this opinion but let it be) serving everything from, well they have pretty much all possible variations of coffee so name it, they most likely have it. I happen to be a latte girl, so my order is usually pretty simple! Though at some points I do take latte with oat milk, which is an excellent choice also for someone who could not drink dairy products. But why Kaffa then? Well, they have really nice, helpful and professional baristas who make sure that your coffee is made as it is supposed to be made. All of their beans are locally roasted, which means that you are able to choose from couple different blends and therefore have a say in the taste of your coffee. Relaxed atmosphere with possibility to get those cheese croissants (they are just wonderful) and location. Shop is right next to coast, which is lovely during at least summer and autumn time (I might re-phrase this when winter is here…). How to get there? It is relatively easy to go to Kaffa, during weekdays you just take a tram 1A to Telakkakatu stop and you just land there. There is also bus stop Perämiehenkatu for bus n. 14 only a block away from the shop or just a 15min walk from city centre.

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Mood Coffee in Ullanlinna. Similar to Kaffa it is easy to get in to Mood Coffee, 15min walk from centre or tram 10 to Tarkk’ampujankatu and there it is. Okay, so I had a coffee date with my friend on a sunny summer day, we walked in and I went to the counter and said ‘one latte’ (bear in mind this is considered normal in Finland… no rudeness or anything) to my surprise barista asks ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ ‘I’m like, hmmm … one latte’ I get answer back ‘let’s try again, how are you doing?’ I got into Finnish denial of do I have to answer?! Most likely looking like well shocked. After moments of (for me it felt like minutes most likely it was couple seconds) digesting this question, I got an idea to actually answer and well I was good, sun shining camera on my other hand and good friend in other. There are not much more you can ask for (well coffee!!). When it comes to speaking Finnish I just work such a different way than when speaking English and such a normal question in English makes me freeze in Finnish. But back to Coffee, I’m really disappointed if I don’t have that picture on top of my latte. But as my good friend said once when I was more than disappointed of look of the coffee that this picture here is modern art. And I was like, I’ll try to appreciate it! When it comes to my Latte in Mood… well I got a SWAN! So, besides the fact that I really liked the coffee itself, I must say that this is still one of my favourite pictures of those I have had in my coffees. Atmosphere in Mood is Scandinavian, interior design is really industrial with clear and graphic lines. It is nice place to stop by but if you’re looking for a place to ‘hang out’ or this certain type of cosiness this would not be the first choice. There are more ‘you just entered into a living room’ –places in Helsinki. But it is a bit of a change compared to other places around the area. And yes, below picture of the Swan (singing Swan Lake in her head’).

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Well, I first thought I would make all of these into one post but I really can’t make it without writing a novel. Therefore, I came to conclusion to separate the posts by area. Third but not least is Kokko. Located also in Punavuori, but closer to the center. Place is only 5-10 min walk from Kamppi. Kokko serves a really good raw and vegan cakes, like they’re super good. I will warmly recommend the place even when you would be skeptical of words ‘raw and vegan’, it is definitely worth it. Besides that there is nice coffee, like in all of the places Kokko has nice, professional staff spiced up with great design. Here design is opposite to Mood. They have different looking chairs and tables mixed with traditional rag rugs on floor. Really nice, small place to meet with a friend or work a bit while enjoying some coffee and cake.

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Because I happen to live in Punavuori area, there are more than these three I would like to recommend, so here are also additional tips for places to try:

Brooklyn Coffee, best bagels in town and really good muffins! Located in Viiskulma you can get here by Tram 3 or with buses 14 and 18. Link to the map: https://goo.gl/maps/hKtcXap2Dh12

Cafe Kuppi & Muffini similar to Kokko, but serving cupcakes and sandwiches. Located near Kamppi. Similar cosiness than in Kokko. Link to the map: https://goo.gl/maps/ipW68uFqTf32

Il Birrifico well…. not exactly a coffee place but if you’re in a situation where one person of the group is hungry, another one wants coffee and then there is someone who would like to have a beer. You could not go wrong by choosing to enter Il Birrifico at that point. One of my favourite places in Helsinki, you should add this into a list of ‘where to eat in Helsinki’ also. Located in Fredrikinkatu, tram 3 to Iso Robertinkatu and a 2 minute walk. Link to the map: https://goo.gl/maps/v2cWJrBr5CE2

 

 

Elastic Heart

First three pics are from coast of Arabia and last one is from Hietaniemi Square, Helsinki. There is a post coming up of Helsinki, but I just needed to get this post out of my chest first!

Funny how Universe works, you think you’re the same person until something triggers you back to times before and you notice that you’re in completely different chapter in your life. There I was, standing on my two feet steady on the ground and I just knew, I just knew first time in a long time that I had changed and for most of the parts better. It affects us, people I mean. Sometimes you wish you would just vanish parts of memories but in the end every emotion has a purpose. For me it was to seek myself from deep waters, because I completely lost myself in my early twenties. I had no clue who I was, I was so used to please that I felt like an elastic band always finding my way around or stretched to maximum without noticing how it made me feel. And it didn’t make me feel good at all. There I was same time following my dreams and I put so much pressure on myself because I had to feel ‘good’ ‘happy’ because this was what I wanted to do with my life, right?! But still I would find myself crying to sleep, feeling drained and somehow I could not figure out, why?

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It was my growing pains to understand what it means to enjoy your time alone vs. being lonely. And I tasted the lonely part, for the first time in my life I didn’t know who to call or where to go when I needed support. I learned dark side of traveling and for me it was those moments where I had to solely rely on myself, when I just wanted to share that moment with someone else. It is tough to make it by yourself and I’ve always been that person who makes things looks easy. Only those who are really close to me see that vulnerable and highly sensitive part of me. It is not in my nature to do things alone, well not most of the time. I’ve always been that person who gets energy being with other people. But I learned to be alone, I learned that when I stop for a moment I’m able to find that reflection time I need. Time to listen myself, make decisions that I want to do. My passion for writing and reading became one of those things I would rely, one of those things that could make me sparkle even when at some points I felt that all the sparkle is gone inside of me.

Somehow it is that upcoming autumn and my birthday that makes me always wonder about my life. But before I looked back, now I feel like it is time to look forward and find that time for myself in this moment. I’m finally ready to turn that page, or I think it happened already but I didn’t noticed until it was right on my face. And boy, that feels good! There is still more than 100000 things I’m puzzled about, I still don’t know what or who I am, but I know myself a bit better. I know a little bit better how to listen to myself but I think that adventure into one self is a lifelong challenge and I’ve just getting started with exploring. So, here I am as someone I never thought I would become when I was little. I’m actually further than I ever imagined I would be. If I could go back 10 years, I would tell that 17 year old young woman to trust herself and her capabilities more and remind her that it is OK to feel confused, it is part of growing. And foremost, that it is not her job to take care of others feelings, most important lesson is to find that thin line where you take responsibility of your own feelings and actions. Because then you apology and forgive when you are supposed to (for yourself and others) and you know yourself, you love yourself enough to base your judgement and decisions on that love. Love is not a feeling, it is a choice and as you choose to love your partner, family and friends you can choose to love yourself every morning.

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AlienZombies and Other Variables

I’m here sitting by my desk, drinking that almost perfect Kaffa Latte (one of the best places to get your coffee from in Helsinki) and hope to find that missing power to finish my thesis (it is gone for today… I try tomorrow with better success I hope). I’ve been going on and off about my life this spring and seems that I can’t find a solution to that small but at the same time so big empty gap in me. It moves around, sometimes it is smaller… sometimes it feels like it will eat me alive. Like in one of those alien movies where you are not sure are you going to give a birth to an alien or actual human being (applies also to Zombie movies). And no, I’m not pregnant but for some reason this metaphor just came to my mind while I was trying to express this space inside me.

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When I get too much time to think (I love thinking… but as per when I’m sick and I can’t do anything else… end result is… well I think I could put it in phrase of ‘chaotic’) which I had this week due to my migraine… try to think whilst it feels like someone is banging your head with a hammer from the inside. Very happy thoughts. I got a tap better on Tuesday, so I was able to go to my courtyard to pick some food from Foodora guy, who nicely delivered it to me (that app is going to be a disaster for my wallet… luckily I don’t spend that much time home) and spared a smile. This incident already had my lips turning from this 😦 to this 🙂 .

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That moment didn’t last long so as I crawled back to my dungeon I already had that dark cloud above my head. Spending too much time home, while being sick (okay, I will add or in a hospital as it is almost 1 year anniversary of my China hospital experience) is just awful. You go round thoughts like ‘what if I would feel like this every day?’   ‘If this would be my last day, who I would call what would I do?’, yeah it is like someone would have unleashed also all those unfinished things which used to be under control and you would take them for a walk every now and then, with that clear goal in your mind (sometimes not so clear.. but almost there).‘Here I am, lying in bed when I could write thesis, do you have to be so lazy?! (as you could actually do anything else than try to concentrate on anything else than to get back to sleep)’ or how about that one thing you forgot to do on Monday at work? (Like that could not wait until next day).

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Same time you try to be reasonable and caring human being towards yourself so you try to convince yourself that all that crap about not doing anything, well it is actually crap and you should just relax and get better. And just when you have that moment of falling back to sleep usually very very very quiet up stare neighbor is starting a home renovation and it feels in that mind-set that there is at least 10 tables which are so heavy that you HAVE to drag them to right place while moving happens wearing stilettos. Best place to start that conversation with yourself ‘where from now? Should I stay, or leave?’ One can just guess where that conversation was going. So, by time 7 pm on Tuesday, I was hoping that I could just get sleep, wake up on morning and just get to work and hope that migraine is long gone. It was, and I woke up happy to a sunshine and busy day at the office. Feels like I could now have that conversation about future with myself, but I think I will first enjoy my latte, write and colour my colouring book while watching Netflix.

Pics are from Helsinki, I think I need to start to plan a new trip to get pics from somewhere else than from Helsinki.

Plot Twist

Just put a little twist on it! Earlier today I was sitting in a café enjoying that biggest latte they have in house and trying to concentrate on thesis writing after work. I have to admit that I got distracted more than once, mostly due to headache I was going through but also that fact of the weather! It is not even June yet and we are enjoying +20 already! I can’t complain, I just had to dig out my comfy jumpsuit from closet and deal with the fact that I can use this piece way earlier than I thought. Really, my glass was half empty and I thought there would not be time for me to even wear it here in Finland. Someone has proved me wrong again.

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But about the twist, well this weather could be called ‘plot twist’ because I think no one except Finns believes that it is actually happening but smile on my face wasn’t due to this ‘plot twist’ I’m getting quite used to it already (sun makes me smile though…always). Extra smiles for today comes from a) there happened to be two teenagers next to me in café, who would remind me of those ‘golden times’. Yes, I do remember when I had discussions about my average or someone else’s, there is a boy who plays football? There are…many, or how about just that heart-warming conversation about friendship and how whether they were from different school (nowadays it is usually country) they were still friends.

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On that instant I had to send a message to my partner in crime in China (and yes, I have had to answer questions about my ‘twin’, if she hasn’t been with me in certain areas in Shenzhen). She also recommended me a book called Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Nell Scovell and Sheryl Sandberg (and yes, it was a good read…), there is a lot that name can do, for example change people’s reaction on his/her personality. I have my rant post coming about women and working life, but let’s leave it now. Okay, I will add still… please women do not put the break on your career because you might be starting a family in few years. I’ve never thought about the issue from this perspective, before Lean in but I’m convinced that there is too many people driving side roads too afraid to take the motorway.

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As a b) when I got home today, I had a letter waiting for me. I usually don’t get letters and my aunt had asked my new address past week and when I got home I had something waiting for me;

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It is those little big things that can make your day shine a bit brighter than earlier. Then there is that c) and I think I could put it in a nutshell as a happiness. My friend happened to have a birthday yesterday and we had a really nice picnic in Hakaniemi including cake, champagne and friends (I think I should have not burst on to that monologue about Jon Ronson’s the Psychopath test… but I happened to finish it on Monday). There is something about this spring, I haven’t got a bright clue yet what but making Helsinki home has most to do with all those people who have taken me back into their everyday life after my time being in China. I’m so happy that I have those people in my life, making this transformation a bit easier. I’m not finished yet but maybe there is butterflies coming later this year…

Pics are from this land far far away, where sun is shining and people can wear jumpsuits in May!

Gulf of Finland

When you want to publish a post but you have no idea what to write about. My brain is working 24/7 first work, then thesis and after that everything else, I just can’t find that writing flow. Every post I’ve tried to write has been somewhat cryptic and as far as I’m concerned not on a list of ‘you really should publish this’. I just wanted to come and show some pics from last Friday when we had a get together with my colleagues. We went to a small cruise in Gulf of Finland and those views! Pretty, or more likely beautiful I would say! How all of you are feeling about it?

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Gulf of Finland from miladyopri on Vimeo.

Filtered View

When old filter don’t apply anymore. Yesterday night was one of those evening which you just want to put into a picture frame of your memory land and keep it there. It was one of those perfect days, summer Finnish summer, I just can’t describe how it effects on a person (effect is positive). Every damn year, after winter when we get the first sparkles of summer this country makes a completely 180 degree shift from looking like a bunch of zombies from night of the living dead into scenery from fear and loath in Las Vegas (please exclude drugs because Sun is giving us that D vitamin sparks and it shows). So yesterday I happened to had first ice cream of the year (and yes, as a classic I almost dropped it), went to coast and had a glass of wine with one of my best friends since I was in diapers. This existence crises I’m going through with myself is getting comedic aspects and if I would be a bit more of a ‘clever person’ I think I would be already in this ‘zen’ –place, but smart maybe, clever no. So, as I’m trying to convince myself about that fact that, even when I’m in this ‘I don’t know what I want from life, I don’t know who I am’ –phase, there will not be time like this in my future life.

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Time where I’m free to go and do whatever it is I want to do. Like, I could just go online now, buy a ticket to a flight in 2 hours and just go. Time, where I don’t have to think about anyone else while I’m making my decisions considering my life. To be completely honest, I do have my moments of despair where I’m like, what on earth is wrong with me?! But I get back into my usual mood of doing what I want and hope someone is fast enough to catch me or vice versa. This whole ‘trying to figure things out’ –mode has almost driving me insane in last couple years and I’m not sure is it the ‘summer is coming’ –spirit or just some weird notification from brain to me saying you’re mature enough , I had enlightenment in a local bus this week while I was going back to city from work. This thought, that usually is considered as self-evident; every time nonetheless the time and space, life has always directed me to somewhere. Sometimes by a surprise, sometimes by years of hard work and in occasions it has been a combination of those two. Not all experiences hold a special mark for us, but sometimes we were there to teach something to someone else. Some of the moments were painful, exhausting even life threatening, but still every time I’ve walked away with something.

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So, why I’m so worried about me not finding my way? Why I’m so worried that I will not grow to a person I think I’m supposed to? Why I’m scared not understanding myself, others, life? Because from time to time, from places to outer space, I’ve find my way in here. Why I or life would stop into this moment? Because it would not, it would always move forward and I could not return to this, after it changes. Change happens, always but how to remember in all moments that this is not happening again? Taking all out of it, all out of that moment and phase in your life because it is only half of a thing that could change your whole life, without even noticing it. So, I decide to move that filter that has been altering my existence for a past couple years, and try to see my life with a different pair of glasses. And so far, I’m liking it (PS. I still find myself thinking about basically everything in the middle of the night, but it does not bugger me that much anymore).

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Pics are from lovely Helsinki soaking in sun and from first of May celebration plus some last year Shenzhen Spring feelings!