Copyright O Magazine

Grit and Glory

2020 took a lot of resilience and even more Sisu.

One of the best compliments you can give a Finn, is that they are resilient. I’ve been told this several times in my life, all of which where at the most appropriate times for me to hear it.

I always remember being resilient, it just seems to come to me. Most likely it comes from that good ol’ Finnish Sisu. Sisu, if you aren’t familiar is a Finnish concept of grit and tenacity, loosely. Stubbornness is said to be a part of it too, I don’t know if that is true, because I know when I’ve had enough and am ready to make some changes. Sisu, to me, is so much more, it’s about finding joy in the everyday. It’s about living a life on your terms and taking care of mind, body and soul.

Brené Brown explains the way to resilience as “Joy collected over time fuels resilience.” This could be said about my last few weeks. I took a much needed break form work, Three weeks. I went to Michigan by way of Chicago. I took a weekend at a spa retreat, I vistited family. I replenished my soul and refilled my tank. It really was the reward I needed to give myself for working so hard last past year.

Bernés definition of resilience is my definition of Sisu, or what we Finns surround ourselves with, the collected joy in the everyday. For me the best collected joy is sauna. The very act of a proper Finnish Sauna, HOT Sauna for 10–20 minutes followed by 10–20 seconds cold plunge is very hearty and very Sisu. COVID-19 has made that part very difficult. I know I’m not alone in having the things that ground me, restricted. However, it has been a gut punch at times.

As silly as the cold plunge sounds to people, it does have its benefits. I’m not just saying that as a proud Finn, I am, but not only. Sauna has proven itself as immune system boosting. So much, so that Tony Robbins daily partakes in a sauna with cold plunge. It has also proven its self beneficial to Rheumatoid Arthritis and chronic skin aliments, as it brings blood closer to the skin and increases circulation. This same increase in circulation also benefits in increasing our immune systems.

For me though, It’s about the relaxatition and tension reducing factor. There is nothing that aids a good night sleep like a Proper Sauna.

The Finns also forage for their food, or at least some do. Even in Modern Day Helsinki, there are areas sed aside for berry foraging and such. Maybe this is where my other joys comes into play. I love cooking for myself. The whole act of mindful cooking, being fully present in the process. From meal planning, finding the perfect recipe, finding a new produce stand to get vegetables from, cooking while thinking about nothing else. Sitting down and enjoying, lately that has been accompanied with putting on sweatpants and watching a new series on the streaming services.

Writing has always given me a sense of purpose, a way to express the random short thoughts in my head and piece them together to create the bigger plan. Thats where I discovered my desire to convert the school bus, more on that as the pieces fall into place. Writing has always been accompanied by sitting in a coffee shop, COVID has made that a challenge. Although I did recently discover one of my old standbys has covered outdoor seating and a strong wifi connection. I also found a desk at IKEA for new writing experiences at home, that will convert later into something for the bus… gotta love that Swedish Engineering.

Sometimes its a matter of time for me to figure out the best next course, as there is often a plan B, C, and, most likely, D. This was the approach I took when things in Portland got really rough. Other times, like when dealing with my cancer diagnosis, I stepped off stage for a bit and let others I trust gather the information needed to proceed, Thanks Dad for this one, I dont know how I would’ve gotten through. Then there are times like 2020. 2020 relied on Good ol’ basic Sisu, put your nose to the grindstone and do it. Everyone else is in the same boat as you, you signed up for working in an ER you trained for this, do it.

The one thing that this nose to the grindstone, this do it at all costs, for your community has led me to is a distrust in people. Aside from my small of group of people I interact with and coworkes, the general public’s calausness has lead me to this distrust. I have found joy in this too. Joy that the ones I do allow close have grown into stronger allies. Coworkers that I have foraged a tight bond with.

The joy comes in traveling to see them, the ridiculus text meassages and chats knowing that they are on the same page as me. “Really gays in PV right now, really?” Back to traveling though. My sister has a mantra “experiences over things.” This, Im sure comes from when we were growing up, we took a vacation every year. Although I don’t remember any souvenir I bought, I’m sure I did buy some though. I can still tell you about the time we camped in the UP when it snowed in October and one of our friends sleeping bag melted on the space heater when where playing a game. Or the time we coasted into Michigan from Canada because Dad didn’t want to buy gas by the liter. All of these things have anchored my sense of adventure which keeps me resilient. There is always something to look forward to. You just have to plan it or dream it.

Resilience has always been a non-negotible for me. That is definitely the Sisu in me too. Every obstacle in my life has always first been approached with Sisu, the nose down, get it done attitude. Life sometimes is not easy. Im glad for that though. In those challenges, comes great rewards. I also find out the most about myself in those challenges and experiencing those joys.

The latest for me is working out. I’ve been with my trainer for a little over a year now, the training we have accomplished in my basement over FaceTime with little to no equipment has sparked me to work on my own, to listen to my body. Thanks COVID! Lately it is telling me to work out, even on days that we don’t meet. To me, this is where I need to be, where I feel the most actualized, the most resilent. Doing something good for you until it feels right and your body praises you for it by asking for more.

Resilience too, has been me being open and listening to my body and soul. I have started painting. I’ve never painted before aside from Art in Middle and High School. I had a dream one night so vivd about painting the auroa of a psych patient that I had to do it. There is such release in that. Im not the best, but with practice Ill get better, and the giving of that energy to the universe will keep me resiliant too.

2020 was tough. At many points I was just going through the motions to get through it. Three weeks off, time to recoup, my mind, body, and soul are telling me its good, 2020 wasn’t as bad as I made it out to be. I shared amazing experiences with really good friends. I was able to be there to help a friend pack up and start over after his spouse died. I was able to help people explore new things about themselves. I was resilient.

Resiliency, it’s the best compliment I’ve ever gotten, as it is my True North.



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