Just so that you don’t give me one of those blank looks hidden by a frozen (though well-meaning) smile the next time I say ‘hi’ to you in passing, I thought we could get to know each other better.
That way, we don’t have to fake it!
I’ll keep it simple and tell you 11 random facts about me:
1. I’m Scandinavian
Born and bred in Helsinki, I’m what’s locally known as a bare-foot Helsinkian. I belong to a linguistic minority called the Finnish Swedes. That means I’m Finnish but unlike most people here, I have two native languages: Finnish and Swedish.
I grew up between two cultures as I have one parent from each, and I have been bullied and singled out, at times, for my Swedish cultural heritage.
2. I went on a real-life adventure when I was young
I up-and-moved to a foreign country and got married there when I was 22. I met my husband face-to-face IRL for the first time at the airport when I landed. Before that, we’d been cultivating our beautiful friendship via the wonder of the interwebs.
People said I was making a mistake and that it wouldn’t last, that he’d turn out to be some creep who just wanted my money (not that I had any) and that I didn’t know what I was doing, yadda yadda. The whole nine yards.
But here we are. He’s still my best friend and our marriage turned into a teenager just last year!
3. We bestowed our daughter with an unusual name on purpose
All my life, I’ve been correcting people and spelling out my names (first and last!) and their pronunciations to people. That’s what you get for having Polish heritage thrown into the mix– and let me tell you, changing my name after getting married didn’t simplify things at all!
My husband also fell to the same fate of repeatedly having to explain his name. So, we figured it was a family tradition and gave our daughter an old Nordic name that dates back to the 1100s.
4. Horses are my thing
Give me a 1500 pound horse and I can have it dancing like a ballerina, but learning how to drive a car had me in cold sweats (and I got my licence at age 33!).
Someone told 5-year-old me that horses can gallop and I practically started riding on the spot. Haven’t looked back since. Sure, I’ve had a generous gap since I last was a “regular” at a stable or had a horse to train, but learning doesn’t just happen on the spot and I’ve kept up ever since that first ride many decades ago.
Now, as it turns out, our daughter is also besotted with horses and she started riding even earlier than I did at 2-and-a-half!
5. I have a weird, rare allergy
I have a rare form of something called a cold allergy (cold urticaria). The usual response I get to this is, “You’re joking, right? You just don’t like the cold”.
Sadly, no. If I’m exposed to cold enough temperatures my body has an extremely strong allergic reaction where my throat starts to close and it gets hard to breathe.
My skin also starts burning and I start looking like a puffy tomato. I’ve even had my hands swell up painfully from holding a cold drink on a hot day. Total bummer.
The causes for this aren’t really known and there aren’t any cures. Anti-histamines in doses fit for a horse are some help, but mostly it’s just keeping away from sub-zero temperatures.
6. My favourite weather is foggy
There’s nothing like a good fog to set the mood. I get energised by that kind of mysterious, subdued atmosphere.
Having lived by the sea for most of my life, I’m no stranger to waking up and finding the world blanketed in an ethereal mist.
Another thing I love about coastal weather is the smell of the ocean – that salty, tangy smell that resembles no other. The winds in winter are something I could do without, though.
7. I have a serious addiction to chapstick!
It’s to be found in every pocket of every jacket, at least one pocket in every bag and squirrelled away in any corner of the house where I might need a top-up.
If you try to come between me and my chapstick, you will be facing the business end of a hissy fit.
8. I often feel useless as an artist
If I don’t start doubting my abilities as an artist at least once a week, something’s off.
Usually seeing someone else’s awesome work has me turning around to face my own output and going “what s#*&”. Flipping papers and stalking out of the room included.
But I’ve gotten pretty good at powering through even the worst bouts of desperation with my mantra of “do your own thing, just do your own thing, just do your own #%)&(?# thing!”. Seeing sappy but encouraging posts on social media is my balm, though I’ll be hard-pressed to admit that if asked point-blank.
My favourite fall-back in desperate times is to declare, “I’m just a glorified housewife!” whilst secretly wishing that my husband will emphatically refute that statement (which he does, bless him).
8. Big Foot got nuttin’ on me
I’ve always had big, muscular calves, more suited to a dwarf than a human, and wearing high boots was never an option. I’ve seen baby seals that are slimmer than my calves.
As if it wasn’t difficult enough to find even remotely comfortable shoes before getting pregnant, now afterwards, it’s almost impossible. I’m still in the process of redoing my whole arsenal of shoes after the pregnancy because none of the old ones fit anymore.
I trundled to the hospital to give birth in the only shoes that would allow my feet entry – my husband’s Crocs. Everything else felt like I was trying to put on doll shoes and even his Crocs were tight.
Thankfully, the swelling went away, but the slightly larger feet I was left with have pushed me even beyond the largest ladies sizes. My go-to shoes are my too-big yellow ankle wellies that I have a love-hate relationship with – they’re uber comfy to wear but so big that they pull the socks off my feet.
9. I dream about being filthy rich
I fantasise about having so much money that it’d be disgusting how rich I’d be. I’m talking swimming in my moolah, like my homeboy Scrooge McDuck. Although, I full well know that even if I didn’t have to work, I’d get bored, find some way to spend all the money and start working.
I’m happiest at the stables or on a farm, where the work never ends. My mentality is suited to the kind of work where the to-do list is endless and getting through it is more of a lifestyle than an end goal.
This also makes me uniquely unsuited to being just another employee, because I need a purpose for my work if I’m going to truly commit.
9. I’ve been poor
I was raised by a single parent, so things were never lavish at our house.
But it was after I got married that we really hit hard times. Like not having money for food and begging a hot meal from the neighbours poor.
But I’m a stubborn bugger and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
10. I henna my hair
People often notice my hair colour and every time I tell them it’s henna, I get that same blank look, like I’m an alien claiming I colour my hair with octopus ink.
Being sensitive is part and parcel of life as an empath and highly sensitive person (HSP) for me, though, and I’ve been sensitive to stranger things than chemical hair dye.
11. I always wanted to be a t-shirt designer
Ever since I discovered textile paints I’ve loved painting t-shirts. For most of my life, it was all hand-crafted and home-made (and a lot of them looked like it!).
Now, finally, I’ve found a way to be an actual t-shirt designer and I love it. Legit, this is my dream come true!
I love spreading positivity through wearable messages and making t-shirts that are unique artworks rather than mass-produced designs with no soul.
That’s all, folks! Did you learn something new?