Fortunate strokes of serendipity and the power of positivity

Suitcase with pink smoke

I have an unfortunate tendency to think negatively. While I definitely live my head in the clouds and have always dreamed big, when faced with big changes, I'm always prepared for the world to end. When I first moved to Stockholm, I said to everyone that I’m not going to find any close friends and I’ll come back to Finland in a year. In the very beginning of my Master’s studies I was casually reading through some of the articles for our first course on a Sunday night. I shouted to my roommates that academic consumer culture studies are complete bs and have nothing to do with real-life marketing and that I want to go back to living my working girl life in Stockholm. When graduation was approaching last spring, I announced pompously how hard it is to find a job and that my ultimate fate is to end up as an unemployed marketing graduate living in my parents’ sofa. My best years were over and I never should’ve resigned from my past job. Apocalyptic safe room filled with Campbell’s soup and soda cans, I’m coming for you.

And look what happened. I had the best years of my life so far in Stockholm, made some amazing friends and fell in love with the city that first seemed so distant. I also grew to love consumer culture studies and still think the professor of that first course, Sofia Ulver, is one of the most inspirational power women I’ve come to meet. And I did find an amazing job and did not spend a day as an unemployed layabout with broken dreams and tedious day plans. Thus, I’ve slowly come to realize that even though I have a tendency to prepare for the worst, life has a tendency of working out in the end. So put on your rose-colored glasses and always believe something wonderful is about to happen.

Pink smoke

Because life is full of fortunate strokes of serendipity. Another professor said it’s moronic to make decisions based on gut feeling and intuition. Somewhat true for market intelligence but I believe our best trajectories of life are not all paved with mere calculations and critical thinking. They also need a little foolish faith in the power of positivity. Wisdom and wonder, as Arianna Huffington would say.

Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.
— Roald Dahl

Positivity doesn’t have to mean you obsessively repeat fluffy affirmations in front of a mirror, only to find out that success and happiness doesn’t arrive by your door by just listening to the rants of Tony Robbins and starting to bullet journal. But it does mean that you start to look at your life from a brighter angle. Seeing opportunity instead of opposition. Celebrating achievements instead of drowning in downturns. Negativity narrows your mind. Positivity brings you resources. Resources to broaden your sense of possibility and purpose, build more value and find meaning. Finding that subtle touch of awe and amazement in the everyday.

So yield to your inner daydreamer and count your blessings. Let you choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.

❤︎ Vilma

Ps. Would you like to find a concrete tool for pursuing to live a bit more positively? Try The 5 Minute Journal, either in the physical or digital format. I prefer the former.

Summer of sweet beginnings

Hello and hälsningar från Helsingfors! The blog has been on a hiatus during this past month and a half. A hiatus full of life changes, new beginnings and a few bittersweet goodbyes. So let's have a little recap!

Vilma Komulainen in Botaniska Trädgården, Lund

I finished the thesis with Meri (with good grades, happy to add), graduated as Master of Science in Business and Economics, celebrated the accomplishment on numerous occasions, enjoyed the last bits of our carefree life in Lund and said goodbye to Jordabalksvägen 52 and the sunny side of Skåne. And for me, this was also the last goodbye to my two and a half years in Sweden. A year back, my aim to come back to Stockholm after finishing the degree was set in stone. But life has a funny way of surprising you. So, after two cities, three apartments, two jobs, one degree and countless experiences later it was finally time to say: adjö Sverige och tack för allt.

Uspenski Cathedral, Helsinki

And then I flew to Helsinki, took my earthly belongings fitted neatly into two suitcases to an itty-bitty summer studio in Vallila and started a new job the next day. Settling into Helsinki and back into the office life has been easier than I thought, although these past weeks have been rather busy. I'm starting to find that homey feeling in this city that honestly always seemed a bit grey and sluggish to me. But there's so much beauty and bliss in having your longtime friends near you, getting to speak your own language all the time, sharing the same culturally-bound humor with the people around you and starting a life that doesn't feel so temporal. 

My fortunate run with amazing workplaces continues (following my previous thoughts around applying for jobs and purpose-led career planning) and I'm happy to say I have yet again found myself doing the things I love with a team I have a lot of fun with. I work with content creation and employer branding and giggle over a cup of coffee on a daily basis, so pretty much the perfect combo for me. My only concern is if I ever will grow to be a chipper little lady conquering the early morning alarms. Probably not.

Senate Square, Helsinki
Tori Quarters, Helsinki

Yesterday I finally had the opportunity to play tourist in my own city, the best weekend activity I know. I walked around the city center, taking pictures of the main sights together with a bunch of enthusiastic group travelers,  ate a crepe cone in the harbor only to be it rudely stolen by a seagull (classic rookie mistake) and delved into the history of Helsinki in the city museum. A perfect day in the cityscape.

So the start of this summer has been busy, quick and eventful but I've definitely already learned that there's more shades to this subtle city. Here's to the homeland! I think I might like you a little.

❤︎ Vilma

VK Vlogs ∣ Part 5

Summer is officially here! Last week we took a few days' break from the thesis and enjoyed the +25 degree weather outside. We catched the rays in Stadsparken and Lomma beach and enjoyed an amazing Sunday brunch at Mejeriet. I'm so happy we get to spend these last weeks in Lund in the same sunny weather we had when we first moved here.

See you on the next one!

❤︎ Vilma

Just breathe

Vilma Komulainen in the beach in Lomma

I personally am not the biggest fan of every self-made online entrepreneur’s favorite word hustle. Life definitely sometimes brings situations where you need to push yourself and hustling is about taking action and working hard towards reaching your goals. All great things right? But sometimes I think the word is used to describe a lifestyle of 24/7 overachieving. While our Western wealthy lives became free of physical labour and worry about survival, we became obsessed with success. And often people define success with metrics like money, status and power. And those metrics are reached by hustling. By working 70-hour-weeks, being a busy busy bee and having a 5 am morning routine with 15 different steps. What about metrics like balance, sense of calm and content? 

Because with those metrics, becomes better work. It’s not the amount of hours you put into a project, it’s how you use those hours. And how you bounce back from work and play. The mind needs to rest for new perspectives to pop up and a sense of purpose to stay clear. If you continuously buzz in the busy beehive, you easily lose the focus, the point of view, the bigger picture. In those moments of lost in hustle, it’s important to realize, reflect and redirect. Realize where you are, reflect if it’s making you happy and if not, redirect the path. But in order to do that, you need to be able to stop and breathe.

Realize, reflect & redirect.

When I’m stressed or sad, my best trick to feel better is to go for a long walk (as you saw on my Stockholm post). All the worries feel a little less worrisome after breathing some fresh air and letting my thoughts run free. I think we’re so busy listening to all the noise and creating all the noise that we have forgotten how to listen to ourselves. Listen to that gut feeling, that tickle in your heart, that sense of pure happiness. And those tickles are not created by money, status or power. They definitely are not created by burnouts and overbearing bustle.

Beach sand and blue water

Why is it so hard for so many people to sit still? To breathe, delve into their thoughts? My challenge to everyone is to take an hour walk within the next week, alone, preferably in the nature and definitely without headphones. Sit for a while on a bench or a rock mid-way and just look to the distance. See what happens.

❤︎ Vilma

VK Vlogs ∣ Part 4

Last week's vlog is a shorty since the thesis keeps us pretty busy. The days are made of coffee, typing, computer screens and study halls. But soon... Soon we are finished! Fortunately the beautiful weather keeps us reminded that summer is only a few steps away. 

Without further ado, here's last weeks' vlog with a few clips from the library life, afternoon walks and Eurovision viewing party. 

Until next time!

❤︎ Vilma

Stockholm i mitt hjärta

Stockholm City

Stockholm, the city of the buzz and the beauty. The perfect combo of big city chic and peaceful, scenic Swedish archipelago. Of Södermalm hipsters and Stureplan stekare. My home away from home.

I lived in Stockholm for a year and a half. A short stay in the scale of life but so much more meaningful to me. I experienced so many great moments, met a lot of amazing people, worked for exciting brands and most notably, dare I say, grew a few inches taller as a person. Because you know, I never planned to move abroad. There even was a time, a long ago, when I didn’t even plan to move away from my hometown Turku. I quite liked my comfortable little bubble in Finland. But nonetheless I found myself moving across our Northern pond. And oh am I so grateful I did. They say that usually the path that seems the scariest ends up being the most freeing of all. This was definitely true for me. These were some of my greatest years, and I surely will miss Sweden and most of all my dear Stockholm. 

Because Stockholm has that certain magic. I’ve talked about this with a lot of my friends in Stockholm and I know they understand what I’m talking about. That magic embodies itself in the moments when you just feel so in the right place on a random Tuesday afternoon, going with the green subway line with thousands of other commuters, looking at the short glimpse of waterside over Centralbron. Or when you decide to walk from Kungsträdgården to Söder after a long day at the office, just to enjoy the breath of fresh air and the beautiful scenery. Or when you’re having after work drinks in some of Stockholm’s amazing outside terraces with people you would have never met unless you had decided to take the leap. The leap to do something outside the comfort bubble.

In the midst of my nostalgia and going through mental memorabilia, I wanted to leave you with my top picks for spots in Stockholm that were especially memorable to me. Gamla Stan and shopping malls surely are nice but Stockholm has so much more to offer.

My favorite spots of Stockholm:

Stockholm City Hall

1. Norra Mälarstrand and Mälarpaviljongen

I have a thing for riversides and long walks. The route from the City Hall to Rålambshovsparken was one of my favorite places for this, even when I lived all the way in Sundbyberg. Stop by Mälarpaviljongen for after work drinks on a sunny day and enjoy the atmosphere by the water. You can even take a cooling plunge from the bar’s dock!

2. SoFo and Norra Hammarbyhamnen

I lived in Södermalm’s SoFo area for the last half a year and loved every second of it. SoFo is filled with cute little coffee shops, restaurants and edgy clothing boutiques. I never thought of myself as a Söder tjej but once you’ve strolled the streets of this southern island, you just feel at home. As I said, me and riverside walks have a tight romantic relationship so of course I had a go-to walking route right by my apartment. This route by Norra Hammarbyhamnen from SoFo to Tantolunden was where most of my thinking happened. Often I even suddenly found myself walking around the entire island, continuing to Södra Mälarstand and Slussen. 

Tuletornen

3. Tuletornen and Sumpan, aka Sundyberg

My first apartment was a brand new studio in Sundbyberg, with big windows and Carrera marble countertops, located in the twin towers they called Tuletornen. It was the dream. I had the sweetest landlord who arranged me an air mattress and kitchen utensils before I got my furniture from Finland, drove me to Skatteverket and helped me get a painting up on the wall. I really grew to love the peaceful little Sumpan during my first year. And that apartment… I will be forever happy if I ever get to live in a place like that again.

4. Skansen and Fotografiska

Out of all the touristy places in Stockholm, Skansen and Fotografiska are my absolute favorites. I went to Fotografiska a lot, and it’s the perfect place for some artsy inspiration and a nice glass of wine with a great view. Skansen then again is the perfect mix of an outdoor museum and an animal park. And occasionally, the perfect space for a summery Out of Office -event.

Kungsträdgården Cherry Trees

5. Kungsträdgården T-bana station

My favorite subway stop. It’s the end of the blue line, which I took to work, so I passed through the gates of Kunsträdgården t-bana almost daily. It’s also the most beautiful one in my opinion. I love the assemble of relics, the water element and the street lamps it has in the side of the hallway. And when you come up, you see the amazing Kungsträdgården and the cherry trees. The heart of Stockholm, in all its beautiful buzz.

But now, it’s time to say yes to new adventures and find new scenic walking routes. Helsinki, see you in three weeks!

❤︎ Vilma