Saturday, 19 January 2019

When Did I Lose My Edge?

People have been posting then and now pictures of themselves with the theme Ten Year Challenge. I have got very few pictures from that time that would be in digital form so this time I am not posting an old picture of myself. Instead I am talking about a notion I made today. Ten years ago when I was in my late teens I had lots of guts to open my mouth and tell my opinions. Back then I wasn't afraid to argue. Neither was I afraid of being wrong. If someone asked me about my goals those where high and I was sure I would meet them sooner or later (meaning in a year or two). In the beginning of 2019 I have got more confidence in some issues but then again I am a bit sad about losing that healthy arrogance that made me trust my own opinions.

I graduated from high school spring 2009 and began my studies at the University of Helsinki. I had been interested in arts and history of the Nordic Countries. After lots of pondering I thought that in the theological faculty I might be able to develop further all the various interests I had that time. One of my ideas was to become the first female archbishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. The fact that I had never even read the Bible from cover to cover didn't much bother me. I bough audio Bible and decided to learn the word by listening. After one year of studying I moved to Lapland and began my studies at the faculty of social sciences. Social sciences turned out to be a great decision. I had enjoyed my studies at the theological faculty but social sciences offered me ways to see how the different phenomenons are twined together and how we are in the society.

When nineteen I was not afraid to write strong opinions. Nowadays I am more careful which is both good and bad. About ten years ago I visited in a contemporary arts exhibition and I was devastated by the low level of works. Never did ever occur to my mind that my own level of thinking and seeing would have been limited. Well, at least I was frank back then, said what I thought and that was that. Now as more mature I try to be constructive and see the good sides in everything. If I doubt something, I am afraid to say it out loud because someone might get hurt. It is a sign of adulthood to see many sides in everything, to have more empathy and understanding. But I might have lost the courage to say when shit is shit, not wonderful shades of brown with interesting scent. It would be healthy to be able to react more spontaneously at times.

I am not suggesting that as grown-ups we should be saying every thought that comes to our minds without any processing. But there is personal power in believing your own capacity to form well constructed opinions and use your voice. To begin a discussion that benefits both those pro and against. Point is not to attack verbally of otherwise against other people and their work or personality. Instead of that it is fruitful to take part to conversations that are on. After year or too opinions might have changed drastically and I might not agree with the opinions of the 19, 25 or 28 year old self. That is called growth. I think we are sometimes afraid of changing. Fear of coming to other thoughts can become a factor that stops us from living in the moment and moving. Decisions are born in current climate and we can't predict what is coming tomorrow that might change us. Past ten years are a good example, lots have happened in that time. Some of the themes are the same but facts have changed, there is new knowledge and ways of thinking. Not to talk about each and everyone's own personal life that has taught a lot.

No one is as clever as a first year University student, said some professor in the beginning of the studies. By the time we come softer and less edgy. But there is also uncertainty, the knowledge that my knowledge is limited. Understanding of the mass of knowledge and issues that have not been searched properly. Would it be too much of a cliche to quote Socrates: The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing. So I know next to nothing and I knew even less in my late teens. Yet I thought that with hard work and persistence I could become what ever I wanted. Let it be archbishop or other career path. I saw that those are only people who work in such positions, not saints. I thought that those given the mandate to write art critiques in magazines are human as we all. Maybe more experienced than I was but still the same. So why could't I do it too? After all these years when did this sissy come to picture? One who places words so carefully that ends up saying nothing.

That carefree teen and high school graduate could teach me a lot. And I could tell a thing or too to make her life better. Different sort of confidence has occurred in past two years. Maybe in our twenties we go through a process. First we are confident, know everything about everything, we are active and fearless. Then we begin to see that we are changing, learning new about our self and about how the world goes. We become quiet observers little by little because we are not so sure that we are going to stay the same forever. It takes away some of the edge. But then we loosen the grip a little bit, accept that what we think today might not hold tomorrow but still we have our roles to play. At least I don't think as much what people are thinking about me, or whether they like me or if I please them. I pay more attention to what I actually think about world and it's phenomenons. I use time to ponder if something really feels great and if I enjoy and like it so much that I want to put my time and effort in it. Own role and interests begin to have more meaning than just reacting to what is directed to me.

Ten years ago everything was possible and achievable. Now I know more about what world has to offer and I am aware that I can't be or become excellent in everything. Great deal will be left unexamined by me. But I can find out what interests me the most and be part of it and learn as much as I can. Have opinions, express those and change what I thought was final.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Let's Enter To 2019

Pale January Wednesday and second week of the new year 2019. I am still processing past year and all that happened. It was a good decision to calm down in December. Usually I take a bunch of projects before Christmas because I want the holidays to feel special. Past season I realized that Christmas comes with less. I have always had an ideal that Christmas should be just for reading eating and sleeping but then I get carried away with decoration projects and such. Because I was travelling in November I didn't have the inspiration to start anything Christmas related before the trip. And after the trip I just felt better to take all my old decorations from the storage and start enjoying the season without extra fuss. Holidays are a short period in the whole year and thus a bit tricky. When putting on all the decor it already begins to feel that just after few weeks one has to take it all off. It is sad really, to see that effort, create the bling and magical atmosphere for a week or two.

After I took down the Christmas ornaments home felt empty. But that was not sad emptiness, it was space for thoughts and new. I don't personally see the point to start big projects in the beginning of the year. It is still too cold and dark to begin new hobbies or lifestyle. Only new year's resolutions I made are to do with cooking, skiing and reading. I want to ski more this winter season. I used to love skiing as a kid and teenager but past ten years or so I haven't found time nor energy for that. Last week when I finally took my skis and headed to the tracks I enjoyed it very much. Compared to evening walks skiing cleared the mind better, I concentrated completely to the motion, one ski in front of the other. After an hour I found the rhythm that was somewhere hidden to my spine. I asked myself why don't I do this more often? It is also excellent exercise to gain strength to upper body and get rid off the bad posture that comes from working on computer, reading and crafting. During the holidays I spent time cooking. I chose recipes from a cookbook that had been unopened since I bought it. New tastes were inspiring and it was pure luxury to eat something you have ever tasted. I learned that blueberries and dijon fit perfectly together when accompanied with other ingredients. Best treat is great food from proper ingredients and I am going to treat myself often this new year.

Past year I read a lot and this year I plan to read even more. Reading has become to mean a lot and I have forgotten the time when I mainly watched TV and DVDs. I am already reading fifth book for this year and it seems that good books have not ended. 2018 brought so many new authors and works to me and this year has started with great promises. Instead of even trying to write to my blog about all the works I read I have planned to introduce my reads on Instagram with longer texts than usual. Time permitting I could write more finished thoughts on my blog about some of the books and maybe write short notes monthly about what I have read. One idea could be to list all books in the end of the month and then write more about one of those. It could work. Anyways I wish to be part in many thought provoking bookish discussions this year on social media and why not here in blogs too. I have seen some close their blogs and concentrate on Instagram but I still believe in longer and more processed writing, well based opinions, articles and views.

I have kept a pause in quilting and will continue it until the days are longer. I have one bigger idea I want to complete this year and it will demand sketching and planning so I get it to be as I see it in my mind. Now I have been knitting accessorizes and it has been one way to relax and clean the mind. I would love to do more smaller projects this year with recycled materials. I have some interesting stuff waiting for ideas. Maybe it is time to study the trends and get inspired of the colours and shapes that are trending this year. Who knows what this so called crap in my storage turns out. I am always so delighted to find out the possibilities of materials that some see as ready to garbage. When reading the news and plans about slowing climate change it seems that it is about time to see the potential in the material we already have in this world before making any new.

When 2018 began I had very little idea what it would bring. Back then I wrote to my blog about high hopes that the year would be better than the last one. Before I  had felt I had lots of thoughts I wanted to express, discussions I wanted to take part but felt no courage because there had been an atmosphere where people's good meaning discussion openings were twisted. I am not an island and it matters to me what people are thinking. I don't want to cause any harm or anxiousness to anybody. Some social media platforms seem to live from the fast and strongly expressed reactions. I am not a person who acts like that it is out of my character. I need to think over before I publish so I get the issue expressed in a way I can stand behind, explain and discuss about. It is one reason why I think blogs have value even these days. There is space and time to write, sleep one night and re read the thoughts, is this the thing I want to say and is this the way to put it so people can catch the idea and process it forward. Writing about books was one form to take part to current topics and that is why I think that compared to 2017 past year went better. What comes to the other major happenings in 2018 I got to work a longer period in an inspiring place and I had possibility to save money and travel to New York. When the year began I had no clue that it would be the year I got to fulfill one of my biggest dreams what comes to travel. New York seemed so far away mentally and impossible to see but there I went.

Keeping in mind these lovely surprises that the past year gave to me I am being even more positive about 2019. Who knows what can happen. It is not all about our own effort, it is about luck too. I am trying not to pay attention to things I can't change on my own will, I let things go as they go. I will be active and use my courage where it counts.

Once again I want to wish you a Happy New Year, Peace, Love and Understanding, as well as hope and active spirit to work for a better world. Let's be idealists, world needs us.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Complete List of Reads: Total 62 Books

Criticism is not the only way to write about literature and reading experiences. When I began my journey with 52 books reading challenge I decided, that I am not going to play a literary critic. I wanted to concentrate on the thoughts the books provoked and positive notions that I picked on the book while reading. Every single one of these books had something to give for a reader and I had a privilege to read great literature through 2018. There is a place for criticism too in the world and I believe writers and creatives can get that from other sources. Criticism and cynicism are a quick way to look smart and well read. To concentrate on praising is often connected with naivete and lack of knowledge. To praise is to show that you as a reader actually enjoyed what you read no matter how others took the book. In a way you become fragile, someone can take out the carpet by showing how the work you enjoyed is in fact unreal or cliche and what you thought is wonderful and touching becomes shameful. But who is to say what is authentic and worth experiencing? It might just be that what the author is writing is a new opening that only few can sense. Maybe it is not the experience of majority and that is why the work gets the badge of unreal.

It is known that there are gatekeepers in the cultural world, not every work gets published and the reason might not be in the quality but the resonance with the current pattern of speech and acting. Books can challenge and change our thinking if we don't grow a thick cover between us and the world. Through reading these books I have moved forward in my life and found new ways of thinking. Even the books I didn't cherish that much taught me something. It is worth pondering why a certain work doesn't speak to you. In this pile of 62 books (I went over the goal with 10 books) there were works that people seemed to enjoy a lot according to social media. But I myself struggled to read the same appraised works. Not because they were not any good, but because my own background and current situation. This is something to acknowledge personally. Then there were works that took a place in my heart and spoke directly on issues that have been going on in my own mind. The situations described were familiar and thoughts relatable or the author gave something to chew and process forward, a new way of thinking and seeing. It is old fashioned to think that there is a number of books that work for all, classics that everyone everywhere would enjoy and find important. Sure some works last time better, but we can't know which ones.

What happens next year has an influence on how we see the past works. A book that has laid forgotten might have a new relevance. Some classics shone brighter than others in 2018. Our lives are not the same and the books we need to read are not the same either. During a stressful period of time there is a need to read a book that gives an escape. Then one day we need a challenge and turn into that over complicated book that opens up in a a new clear way like never before. Book I love today might be a book that I can't understand after ten years. That is why I needed to focus on writing about what the books had to give to me in 2018. The conclusions tell about this year, discussions we have had and my personal life at the moment. Instead of lifting up books that everyone should read, personal reading experiences might lead us to the tracks of finding literature that has meaning to us in our life's. Like minded bookstagrammers have given me plenty of excellent recommendations. Books form families over periods of time, discussions we people can't have together because we are separated by time and distance.

I read this thought provoking article from the New York Review of Books by Tim Sparks. Is Literary Glory Worth Chasing? (27.10.2018). Sparks introduces Giacomo Leopardi's thoughts about what affects on the critique the work gets in it's time and in which terms it is possible to earn appreciation for your work. Check the article from here:

Below you can find the complete list of books I read in my free time this year. These are not in the same order I read these because I had to edit the list from various lists, books that I blogged about, books that I only introduced on Instagram and books I just read and wrote to my notebook. 2018 was a wonderful year what comes to reading and finding new favorite authors. It was also exciting to find paths from book to another and read both new releases and old classics I had never heard before. I am positive that 2019 will be equally wonderful, my must read lists guarantee that there will be no empty moments coming.

1. Lidia Yuknavitch: The Book of Joan
2. Carmen Maria Machado: Her Body and Other Parties
3. Franz Kafka: Kootut kertomukset (complete short stories)
4. Cheryl Strayed: Wild. From Lost to Found on The Pacific Crest Trail (Villi vaellus)
5. Truman Capote: In Cold Blood (Kylmäverisesti)
6. Françoise Sagan: Bonjour Tristesse (Tervetuloa ikävä)
7. Leo Tolstoy: Anna Karenina
8. Alice Walker: The Color Purple (Häivähdys purppuraa)
9. Susan Sontag: Stories
10. Albert Camus: L'étranger (Sivullinen)
11. Donna Tartt: The Secret History
12. Saara Turunen: Sivuhenkilö
13. Leena Parkkinen: Säädyllinen ainesosa
14. Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar (Lasikellon alla)
15. Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451
16. Julian Barnes: The Only Story
17. Anna Gavalda: Fendre l´armure (Lohikäärmetatutointi ja muita pintanaarmuja)
18. Leena Krohn: Kadotus
19. Peter Kimani: Dance of the Jakaranda
20. Sara Stridsberg: Drömfakulteten (Unelmien tiedekunta) and Valeria Solanas: SCUM 21. Manifesto (SCUM manifesti)
22. Anton Chekhov's Short Stories
23. Tove Jansson: Dockskåpet (Nukkekaappi)
24. Tove Jansson: Sommarboken (Kesäkirja)
25. Karen Blixen: Den afrikanske farm (Eurooppalaisena Afrikassa)
26.- 28. Anton Chekhov: Sakhalin Island (Sahalin)
29. F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby (Kultahattu)
30. Michael Ondaatje: The English Patient (Englantilainen potilas)
31. Anil's Ghost (Anilin haamu)
32. Sara Stridsberg: Beckomberga. Ode till min familj (Niin raskas on rakkaus)
33. Tuula Karjalainen: Tove Jansson. Tee työtä ja rakasta.
34. Violette Leduc: La Bâtarde (Äpärä)
35. Rupert Thomson: Never Anyone But You
36. Lauren Elkin: Flâneuse. Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice and London.
37. Jean Rhys: After Leaving Mr Mackenzie (Herra Mckenzien jälkeen)
38. Nefertiti Malaty: Ei äitimateriaalia
39. Hannu Rajaniemi: Summerland (Kesämaa)
40. Eeva Turunen: Neiti U muistelee niin sanottua ihmissuhdehistoriaansa
41. Martha Gellhorn: The Face of War
42. Truman Capote: Breakfast at Tiffany's (Aamiainen Tiffanyllä)
43. Ossi Nyman: Röyhkeys
44. Anne Garréta: Sphinx (Sfinksi)
45. John Steinbeck: Of Mice and Men (Hiiriä ja ihmisiä)
46. Elif Shafak: Three Daughters of Eve (Eevan kolme tytärtä)
47. Jenny Offil: Dept. of Speculation (Syvien pohdintojen jaosto)
48. Danielle Lazarin: Back Talk. Stories.
49. Anilda Ibrahimo: Rosso come una sposa (Punainen morsian)
50. Henriika Tavi: Tellervo
51. Tara Westover: Educated (Opintiellä)
52. Roland Barthes: La chambre claire (Valoisa huone)
53. Susan Sontag. On Photography (Valokuvauksesta)
54. Silvia Hosseini: Pölyn ylistys
55. Sapfo: Iltatähti, häälaulu
56. Eeva Lennon: Eeva Lennon, Lontoo
57. Anna Kortelainen: Hyvä Sara! Sara Hildénin kolme elämää
58. Sisko Savonlahti: Ehkä tänä kesänä kaikki muuttuu
59. Pentti Holappa. Ystävän muotokuva
60. Mirkka Lappalainen: Pohjoisen noidat. Oikeus ja totuus 1600-luvun Ruotsissa ja Suomessa
61. Audre Lorde: Your Silence Will Not Protect You
62. Marja Tuominen and Mervi Löfgren (edit.): Lappi palaa sodasta. Mielen hiljainen jälleenrakennus