Introducing Anne Sulander

So before we’re even public, I threw in all the social media I could and you’re all hyped up and filled with expectations, right? So let me tell you what’s really in store.

This is a blog about what happens when you get involved with a new hobby and it makes you rethink and reinvent your entire lifestyle. We’re what you might call beginner hikers and it didn’t ”just happen”. It took some effort. Our natural instinct is to stay on the couch, eating ice cream but according to studies conducted by yours truly, when exercise is fun, it happens more often.

This blog is governed by Anne and Heikki, Heikki and Anne, re-branded by some of our friends to Ankki. Disgustingly syrupy, I know. This is Anne’s story (aka The Pen). Another introduction will be about Heikki (aka The Lens).

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I’m Anne, a 35-year-old enthusiast. I’m practically radiant with my ADHD and well, madness. I have tremendous difficulties understanding that I can’t always get everything I want and I’m afraid I’ll end up not grabbing all the necessary opportunities by the horns. Nowadays I do feel successful, based on situations where I’ve really shined. I used to quit everything really fast, on the account of my underdeveloped self-esteem. I’ll let you in on a little secret about how to feel happy… but not just yet. Later.

I’m interested in just about everything in this world, especially hiking, chemical-free lifestyle and developing and improving both processes and people. The former two are regular topics here in the blog and the latter have more to do with my day job as a Technical Customer Adviser at Sonera telco.

I grew up in the sticks, in a house that used to be a convenience store but thanks to my handyman of a  father, you couldn’t really tell unless you were local and old. It was surrounded by woods (and fallen trees with their roots sticking out into the sky, aftermath of the storm ”Manta”). I used to play around the roots until someone told me not to. Adults kept saying they could spring back up because of the tension that remained in the trunk! That’s how I was fooled, with the same kind of jokes I can’t quite get to this day – which can be a bit embarrassing since I’m smart, you know?

Even with the risk of getting bullied daily, I wouldn’t stop talking. My big mouth has gotten me into trouble more times that I can count. When I was little, I used to be sp afraid of the woods, I couldn’t even visit a friend’s house a few kilometers away. I have, in addition to my loud mouth and runaway mind, a very vivid imagination. I used to write in my journal a lot – I wanted to get out of the sticks to become a writer. And if not a writer, a journalist. And if not a journalist, a copywriter for an advertisement agency!

I read the entire library truck from one end to end. When the bullying at school became even more dominant, I lost myself in books and day-dreaming. I’m pretty sure I read all the way until my rebellious stage when I started raging against it all, especially my parents. That’s when I moved out, to the city.

So what’s my relationship with nature been like? Longing without execution. I admired photos, stories and images but I’m not a scout and I have zero experience in hiking or camping. Because my parents are down-to-earth and lived far from the city, I have knowledge and understanding when it comes to greenery but hiking used to be a bunch of mumbo jumbo to me.

I say ”used to” because that’s all in the past. All of it! These days I’m going into the woods. This blog is about freedom but it’s also about the trials and tribulations of starting a new hobby as an adult.

Adults are bashful and self-reliant and they think they know it all by now. If you’re too afraid to ask, you might cause harm or even life-threatening situations to yourself or others. Even though as an adult you probably have a mortgage or something, you also have money for equipment and you could literally waste thousands if you think you don’t have to look up what the best options are.

Because I work as a Technical Adviser, I spend my work days sitting in an office. Had I become a writer, my schedule would probably be more open and my Winters wouldn’t always consist of hours too dark to go for a walk. My job requires my brain to work at full capacity because as a person and as an employee I need to keep up with the times. Absorbing fresh knowledge every day can be taxing. My job is balancing technical know-how and being costumer-friendly at all times. Working in an office also changes your physique – your posture shrinks and your back starts aching more easily. After hitting thirty, the pastries in the break room find their place from your waist fairly quickly, should you choose to indulge. And it’s not nice to break a sweat when simply climbing a flight of stairs.

To prevent my body and mind from disintegrating I starting working out and then looking for a way to relax my mind. My body is more than thankful for its leaner and more flexible form and the brain bows its head in gratitude for all the newfound reading. But it seemed like something was missing. A university degree? A savings account? Feng Shui at home? An expensive handbag? All of those things, sure. But I also started longing for the outdoors, for nature and its forests. So I carefully started taking long walks around Jyväsjärvi and taking even longer bike rides.  All this fresh air seems really good for you, guys!

Little over two years ago, I was struck with an idea: let’s go camping! Let’s get a tent! I didn’t have one and the sleeping bags we had costed about 20 euros in total, so you can imagine they’re not meant for the outdoors. We couldn’t really afford ”real” equipment and my husband wasn’t too keen on the idea of camping. But the idea was there and there it would lay, growing larger than any other impulses and desires. Naturally I was a bit concerned that I wouldn’t know how to do all the things hiking and camping required. What if I end up buying the wrong kind of shoes or a tube backpack and people laugh at me?

After a while the urge grew even larger and in my head I was almost screaming: I want to do this! I justified the hobby to my husband as a chance for new photo opportunities. At the same time Erätaival (Minna, a friend from years ago) held a course for hiking and camping! The price was reasonable and it contained an overnight stay in a tent plus classes on equipment and dry meals. I registered myself and my husband who now realized that he really could take amazing and new photos. There were two enthusiasts now and since we basically lived in a symbiosis, we went together.

Before the course, I decided to keep my cool. I didn’t know what kind of equipment to buy but Minna would let us know, right? However, since I have no self-control, we went tent hunting. A local thrift shop had one and the only reason someone had it for sale, I imagine, is because they couldn’t find a way to fit everything in a single pouch – the poor thing was packed in four separate plastic bags. The same thrift shop also had the very tube backpack I’m using today! For the price of 4 euros. Sure, newer backpacks might have their advantages but the emotional bond I instantly had with this one can’t be broken so easily, no matter how much it creaks when I walk.

After the course we’ve purchased a bunch of stuff for hiking and camping, the latest addition are hiking pants from a post-Christmas sale! And no matter how many high heels are on sale, these days I’m almost exclusively using my hiking boots to get around. They might not be fit for the office but I absolutely love them. I finally understand the saying ”Never buy cheap if you’re poor”.

I tried to make this introduction brief but at the same time I wanted to tell you as much about myself as I could. The tagline for this blog is ”It’s never too late to go into the woods” and it’s more of a reminder to yours truly, but also an encouragement for those who are hesitant about starting something new. Just go for it! You regret not doing something a whole lot more than doing something.

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