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  • Writer's pictureMo Reynolds

Finding My Inner Finn

My first winter in Montana was less than magical.

The blanket of snow suffocated me and by March I was beginning to lose my mind.

I walked into work one day when it was snowing AGAIN and my fellow teachers smiled and teased me.

I was not in the mood.

I burst into tears, helplessly declaring, "I can't take it. I just can't take it anymore."

Clearly, I had not found my Sisu.

I want to be clear on one thing: I do not recommend this book due to its writing. Perhaps it is the translation, but some of her phrasing is cliche and the books definitely smacks of elitism and privilege. In her efforts to be understanding that we can't all just amble out our door and take a walk in the forest, she suggests a compromise and we simply stroll a shoreline nearby.

Well, Katja, we don't all live in Helsinki, home of forests and shorelines.

But, it is the message of the susi that captured me, this Nordic idea of inner resilience, strength, and grit. I think grit and gumption would be the two American words that land closest to "susi."

My great great grandmother was an Oklahoma homesteader, living in a sod house and birthing 12 children on the windy, unforgiving plains of Oklahoma territory. That is grit. And that grit gets passed down. Surviving hardship and trauma embeds something in our marrow and that passes on. That inherited sisu from my Great Great Grandmother Sullins went her to her daughter, holding her together to raise her young siblings and go to nursing school when her husband got TB. Her sisu grit passed to her daughter, my grandmother with double hip dysplacia, a tongue like knife, and the will of iron that saw her through a depression and starting her own business when her husband broke his back. And her sisu? My mom get it, surviving being left by her husband to build a thriving business and ensure that each of her own gritty girls graduated college.

I hope I have it, even if I don't live in Finland.

Since reading this book, I've been walking in the cold snowy weather twice a day. I've been looking at life and embracing challenges as simply problems to solve. I've moved more and sat less. And, yes, I've researched digital nomad visas in Finland and have flight trackers watching fares to Helsinki.

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