2019 – The year of Action

2019 has gotten off to a rocky start but I’m determined not to let all these difficulties and insecurities crush me. Last year I didn’t make traditional new year’s resolutions, instead I choose to focus on gratitude. To have it be a guiding theme for the year. Practicing gratitude is not easy, especially in this fast paced world we live in and for a overthinking individual like myself. It’s something I’m going to have to keep working on because I honestly believe it’s the key to having a more positive outlook on life.
In 2019 my guiding theme is going to be ACTION! Not as in watch a new action movies every week but as in get shit done! I had a bit of an aha moment last fall when I realised that the self discipline I’ve been telling myself I need in order to start certain projects is not going to fall from the sky. I either have to start having self discipline or keep writing long list of things that never get done. So I looked into this mysterious thing called self discipline and it turns out it all comes down to habits and being consistent with those habits, at least according to some. Habits sound much more down to earth and doable than self discipline. Creating new habits is challenging but I believe I now have a good starting point.
My year of action means finishing projects that have been collecting dust and starting new scary projects I’ve wanted to do in a while. It means rethinking how how I choose projects, how I write to-do lists and how I use my time. It also means standing up for what I believe in, even when it’s uncomfortable and even scary. What are your themes or resolutions for 2019?


Belle

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the culture I consume. I’ve been for example asking myself why I like watching costume and period dramas so much and the problematic aspect of watching them as a black woman. There’s this interesting article by Monique Jones where she explains the many things she finds difficult watching what she calls problematic faves. I can really relate to her dilemma. Every time I’m watching shows like The Crown or Victoria, I start thinking about colonialism and all the horrible things that came with it. Do I stop watching them? No. Am I conflicted about it? Very much so.

When I was growing up and watching these costume and period dramas I wasn’t thinking so much about it. These rich white families from centuries ago felt so far removed from my own reality that I watched them with the same fascination as with sci-fi or fantasy movies. But over the years I’ve become more self conscious about it and started analysing them in a different way. Lately though I’ve become even more critical. There are plenty of these dramas being made every year and they often only feature white actors. The few roles there are for people of any other race is often slave or servant. Now some of you will say, well that’s how society looked back then but these depictions are being made in our time. I sometimes feel this is a part of the entertainment industry that can comfortably exclude people of colour without much effort because they can just cite historical accuracy as the reason. Am I saying that the Brits (’cause the make the best ones) should stop making costume dramas? No, this is far too complex but I think we need a wider variety of stories and creators in this genre.

This is why films like Belle are so important. The story about Belle, a daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral. She’s biracial and in his absence she is raised by his aristocratic family. I saw this movie a few years ago and almost started crying because I couldn’t remember the last time I’ve seen a movie like this where a person of colour was the lead but not as a slave or a servant. I’ve seen it a couple times since and I’m still captivated by Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s performance. The fact that this movie is directed by Ama Asante, a black woman gives me hope that things might be changing. What’s also great about this move is that it’s so beautifully shot that  you can watch it just for the costumes (something I do quite often). There’s a few of Asante’s film I haven’t seen yet but I’m really looking forward to see what stories she chooses to tell in the future.


YouTube faves right now – Part 3

 

Teela Cunningham
I’m usually very impatient with photoshop and illustrator tutorials but I find Teela’s tutorials very helpful.

 

Avant-Garde Vegan
One of the most amazing vegan food youtube channels out there. This is the channel I send to people after we’ve had the “vegan food is so boring” discussion. I hope Gaz starts a restaurant soon!

 

Screen Prism
I only recently became aware of the term video essay. I can’t remember how I found the Screen Prism channel but I’ve watched a lot of episodes since finding it. I really like the way they analyse movies and tv shows and I sometimes send links  to friends so we can discuss the episodes.

 

Never Too Small
There’s a lot of channels dedicated to tiny houses and van living but very few about small apartments. This channel shows some incredibly well designed homes with clever use of the small space. After an episode I usually end up on the real estate websites where my dreams are instantly crushed when I’m reminded just how expensive it is to buy an apartment in Helsinki. But I’ll keep on dreaming!

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The collection of collections – Hallwyl Museum

When I was preparing for my summer in Stockholm I made a list with all the castles and museums I was going to visit. Six weeks into my stay I’ve only visited two. One thing I can blame this on is the heatwave but I’ve also experienced a lost interest in walking around castles this summer. I’m not quite sure what’s going on but I’ll have to revisit the subject when I get back to Helsinki.
One place I visited pretty early on is the Hallwyl Museum. I had seen some pictures of the interior on social media and I knew it used to be someone’s home so I was a bit curious. I’m really glad I paid for the guided tour, I got a lot more information than if I had been walking around by myself (I sometimes get lazy with reading the descriptions). There was only three of us on the tour so we got to see more spaces than if we had been a larger group. The rooms are preserved in their original state and give you a glimpse of how the super wealthy and forward thinking lived during that era.
The rooms are as one would expect, heavily decorated and filled with beautiful artefacts.The most impressive thing to me however, is the collections and the meticulous documentation of those collections. Wilhelmina von Hallwyl who did most of the collecting, knew early on that she wanted her home to eventually become a museum. She had every item in the house (as well as the house itself) catalogued. Not only is there an image and a thorough description of every item but there’s stories and personal anecdotes as well. I was drooling over her jewellery collection, there were so many pieces in it I would love to wear.
I’ve never really been a collector of anything, I’ve moved so many times that I’m very picky of the things I own. Maybe that’s why I was so impressed by this avid collector. If you’re ever in Stockholm and are maybe a Downton Abbey fan, I would recommend you to visit this museum.


Ceremonial Blooms

When I visited the Alppiruusupuisto last summer, I vowed to visit the park earlier this year so I could see all the flowers in full bloom. So when the images from the park started showing up in my insta feed I got on a bus towards Haaga. Is it kinda lame? Maybe. But you guys should know by now that if there’s a concentration of colourful flowers in one place, I must go there.

I remember this day quite clearly. I had just handed in a school assignment that had been the cause for several sleepless nights (great course but I hate writing essays!), it was the first of June and weather was perfect so seeing all these flowers almost felt like a ceremonial start of the summer season.

 


A rainbow of gems

When I visited the Munich Residence, I also visited the treasury out of pure curiosity. There was all kinds of artefacts, from jewellery to sculptures. Being a lover of gemstones however, it was the crowns and jewellery with colourful stones that caught my eye rather than the ones with perfect cut diamonds. It was a reminder that there truly is a wide range of coloured gemstones in nature and I started thinking that I have to design jewellery at some point in my life.



YouTube faves right now – Part 2

Cecile Emeke

If you haven’t watched Cecile’s Strolling series, go watch it now! I think she’s done it in like 6 different countries. I remember watching them a few years ago and being so moved by these stories. I could relate to so many of them and it also gave me a lot to think about my own identity in the African diaspora. And for all my feminist out there you have to watch this poem!

 

Jenny Mustard

I’m not a minimalist like Jenny but I find her aesthetic quite soothing.

 

Rachel Ama

My new favourite vegan food channel. She’s got me craving plantain!

 

Dyland Magastar

I don’t have a driving license and I have no plans on getting one yet I’m obsessed with watching these van life stories.

 

 



Big Magic

As someone who usually describes herself as a slow reader, I’m really glad I’ve picked up a reading habit again. I’ve decided to stop beating myself down for being the person who never knows who’s written the latest it thriller and can only list Jane Austen, when asked about my favourite author (so far the only author that I’ve read more than one book). I’ve discovered that I like reading about people figuring stuff out with a lot of honesty and humour. I really loved Shonda Rhimes’ book Year of Yes and I’ve just finished another great one, Big Magic – Creative living beyond fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.

This book gave me a lot to think about and I think I need to buy it (I usually borrow my books from the city library) so I can go back to certain chapters when that crippling self doubt starts bubbling up. Writing book reports was never something I excelled at  but here are a few things that I thought were great about this book. Firstly I love the way it’s written, it feels like you’re talking to a really good friend and she’s sharing stories and lessons learned over the years. I love the way Gilbert describes inspiration as this magical otherworldly thing but reminds you that in order for that to lead to anything, you need to work work work! There’s something about the encouraging but pragmatic advice that really spoke to me.

The other great thing the author encourages us to so, is to let go of perfection, it often stops you from finishing your work or even worse from ever starting in the first place. I’ve often not published or shown what I was working on because on some level I was afraid of what people might think but also that the work wasn’t good enough. So I’m really going to adopt the done is better than good motto. Because by finishing projects you can move on to the next one and the next one. That’s how you evolve and improve.

One thing Gilbert excellently does in this book is to debunk the whole idea that in order to create something great you have to suffer. I think creating can be a great help when you’re suffering but that pain and suffering should be vital to great work is a myth we need to discuss and tear apart.

Have any of you read this book? I’d like to hear your thoughts.


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