Back to School – FIN 270 Modern and Contemporary Finnish Architecture and Design at the University of Toronto 


I love to learn. While I may have left formal post-secondary education more than two decades ago, I have continued to be a lifelong learner both formally and informally. The University of Toronto’s Finnish Studies elective courses have always been on my learning wish list since both my parents emigrated from Finland to Canada as well as most of my family were born and continue to live in Finland. When I read about the Finnish Studies and the Embassy of Finland to Canada’s brand new course in Modern and Contemporary Finnish Architecture and Design, I knew I had to enroll. I grew up surrounded by Finnish design and on a construction site too. I believe both inspired my love of architecture, design and photography. I work professionally full time, I decided to audit the course by creatively using three vacation days to attend this class to learn more. My first class completed and I am very excited about the lectures and guest speakers including a few who will travel from Finland for this course that celebrates Finland’s 100th anniversary of Independence. Finland is a young nation but it has made an amazing impact through its architecture and design in both Finland and around the world. Look forward to all my learnings and sharing my insights in the weeks ahead. Join me on the journey. Tervetuloa.

FIN 270 Modern and Contemporary Finnish Architecture and Design at the University of Toronto 

I love everything Finnish and I love to always be learning. This autumn I am creatively using three vacation days and heading back to school. The University of Toronto Finnish Studies Program in partnership with the Embassy of Finland to Canada are introducing a brand new course – FIN 270 Modern and Contemporary Finnish Architecture and Design to celebrate Finland’s 100th year of Independence. Finnish Architecture and Design is well known throughout the world and is forefront in Finland’s identity. The course will welcome guest lecturers from Finland which is very exciting. Since I don’t need an undergraduate credit, I decided to audit the course which means all the joys of learning without the stresses of studying, assignments and exams. If you love design and architecture or everything Finnish, definitely consider joining this course or one of the other courses offered by the Finnish Studies program. I am very excited to learn more about Finnish Architecture and Design and hope to share some of my findings and insights along the way. 

First Impressions 

On our daily travels, we interact with many people including those we share space with on our commute to work, to the barista we purchase our coffee from to our team members and prospective clients. It takes 1/10 of a second to form a first impression based on facial impressions and non-verbal communication. Do you smile and make eye contact? Do you cross your arms and come across at standoffish? People tend to trust their gut reactions when meeting someone. What impression are you making to others on your travels? 

Palliative Care is about living well 

Palliative Care is about living well. 

Dr. Desmond Leung is a Palliative Care Doctor at the Freeman Centre for the Advancement of Palliative Care at North York General Hospital. I have known Dr. Leung for the last six years and am lucky to be able to volunteer with him on the NYGH Palliative Care Steering Committee. For National Hospice Palliative Care Week, Dr. Leung was interviewed on CBC’s Metro Morning with Matt Galloway as he works to change the face of Palliative Care. Amazing interview. Please take time to listen to it. 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/programs/metromorning/palliative-care-1.4106136

Oprah’s Lifeclass on Gratitude 


“Focus on what you have and you will always have more” ~ Oprah.

Five years ago today, my sister-in-law and I saw Oprah live when she brought her Lifeclass to Toronto, Canada. As a lifelong Oprah fan, this was a dream come true. Only when Lifeclass began did we know that the theme would be gratitude. I knew immediately we were meant to be there. 

I reflected back on my notes from the Lifeclass on Gratitude and share a bit of my food for thought with you. 

* Gratitude Journal – What five things are you thankful for everyday. Power in the words.

* Change your state of being and start to be grateful. 

* You see your life as a gift. Look for the blessing.

* Gratitude – you can change your contentious. If you are thankful for what you have, you will always have more. Life in the present. Embrace the now. 

* PAIN – Iyanza Vazant – Pay Attention Inward. Get grateful in all paths along life. Each stop will teach us along the way. Pay attention to how we respond to the stop.

* Gratitude – We cannot be grateful and hateful simontanously.   

* Giving thanks helps you connect to what you deserve ~ Tony Robbins

* Wherever there is appreciation, there is duplication. ~ Bishop James

* Gratitude = abundance ~ Deepak Chopra

* Gratitude can be a lifesaver when you do not have anything else. 

* Change the story from pain to a gift

* You get what you tolerate. Change your story. ~ Tony Robbins

* When you are a giver, you will always have gratitude 

* Operate from a new belief life happens not to me but for me. If you have been down that road, you can reach people that others cannot. Share your story ~ Tony Robbins 

* Everyone’s story is either an absolutely warning or an example. 

* Everything we go for, we learn something ~ Bishop T.D. Jakes

* The energy and attitude you bring to your past and how you describe it. ~ Oprah 

* Saint and sinner exchanging notes. Use our keys to open up our prisons and to do something great to escape. Who you are matters and gives people HOPE.

* Flood yourself with positive moments. Give them an experience 

* “Live to give” – I am more than my circumstances ~ Tony Robbins

* Attention, Appreciation, Affection – ways to give to children ~ Deepak Chopra

* Energy you bring to the room – your presence is enough ~ Iyanza Vanzant

* I am the universe – infinite potential

* Best lesson on gratitude – go back into your own life where you can be more grateful and appreciative 

* All is a gift. Hope you can leave here and rethink how you see your life. 

* Clear understanding others are teachers – appreciate people everyday 

* Whatever I seed will grow. 

* Your inner vision makes your special.

* Always remember everything connects to gratitude. 

Grateful I had the opportunity to enjoy this special day and thankful it has kept me focused on finding gratitude in the simple joys of life. 

What are you grateful for? 

World Cancer Day 

Today is World Cancer Day. Thinking of all those currently battling this awful disease and the many loved ones that are sadly no longer with us. Talk to your Doctor about screening and when it should begin for you. Learn what symptoms to look for and listen to your body when things just don’t feel right. Early screening can save lives. Try to adopt healthy lifestyle changes. Little changes can make a big difference. Advocate for someone who can’t. If a family member, friend or someone you know has cancer, show up. Call, visit, drive them to their chemotherapy or radiation appointment and keep them company, drop off a home cooked meal, send them a card, a care package or do something that just brightens their day. Please don’t disappear because you are feeling uncomfortable and don’t know what to say. 

“What Cancer Cannot Do – Cancer is so limited … It cannot cripple love, It cannot shatter hope, It cannot corrode faith, It cannot destroy peace, It cannot kill friendship, It cannot suppress memories, It cannot silence courage, It cannot invade the soul, It cannot steal eternal life, It cannot conquer the spirit.” Unknown 

What I Know For Sure 

Happy Birthday Oprah!

Seeing Oprah live was always on my bucket list and thankfully I have been lucky enough to see her twice. Both amazing inspiring experiences after watching her on TV for many years as well as reading her magazine since inception. I always enjoy reading Oprah’s “What I Know For Sure” page ~ the final one in her monthly magazine. On one summer holiday, I rediscovered Oprah’s Top 20 (http://www.oprah.com/spirit/The-Top-20-Things-Oprah-Knows-for-Sure) and that had me pondering what I know for sure so I wrote my own list. I wrote this in September 2010 but it still rings true today. Enjoy!

  • That life is not always fair and does not always turn out as you dreamt and imagined but it can still be special.
  • Do things for others without the expectation of getting something in return.
  • Sometimes people in your life need time to themselves to deal with things on their own and may be out of touch but that does not diminish your friendship and relationship with them. Real connections always just have that special chemistry that picks up just where you last left off no matter how many weeks, months or years go by.
  • Cherish those special people in your life because you never know when they might not be with you anymore.
  • There is no greater feeling than when one knows who they are, what they value and what their purpose in the world is and are comfortable living their life by their own compass and not the one set by others or society.
  • In the modern society we live in, everyone seems to want everything now. It is okay to be someone that takes their time before rushing into things – life, careers, new adventures, relationships or children. You must live your own life by your own timetable. Everyone’s journey is different and for some people that just takes longer.       
  • Memories are so much more important than material things. I so treasure and cherish all the memories I have and they sustain me when times are challenging.
  • A smile, a welcoming gesture, laughter, unexpected telephone call, note or email or a simple hug can help ease the stresses of the day and offer hope to those who need it.
  • Spending time with my family and friends, laughter, food, wine and being in nature – these simple things make me happy!
  • God never gives you anything you can’t handle.
  • Knowledge is power! I am thankful that I love to learn.
  • You always need to have something to look forward to. This is where being organized and a planner comes in useful because I am always making plans to enjoy!
  • That “me” days are very important – it is okay to want time by yourself or just be a bit lazy – do not feel guilty! When your body needs rest, give it the rest it needs – your health is most important and we all need balance in our lives. When one gives all the time, they need to take care of themselves too – take time to re-store your body and spirit and nourish your soul.
  • Listen to your gut, heart and intuition – too many times we try to use our head to rationalize things and I definitely do this. It is hard when one thinks too much but truly if you listen to these three things you will always know the answer.
  • That people can be cruel and mean to others but it is really just them trying to cover up their own insecurities. One does not need this negative energy in their lives. Surround yourself with positive people and stop spending time worrying what people think. We should be busy living the life we want because life is short!
  • That no matter if you are size 4, 8, 12, 16, 20 ~ your true friends will love you just the way you are.
  • Manners, being classy and formal communication never go out of style.
  • Being a member of Junior League has inspired, empowered and made me a better person. I know the experiences I have had will enable to me to make an impact throughout my life to my family, friends, my community and anything I choose to involve myself in.
  • Emotional intelligence, the ability to build relationships and get along is so important. One can teach a bright person to do anything but attitude and passion come from within.
  • On a flight to Vancouver in 1996 just after my great grandmother died, I sat next to an older gentleman and he gave me this insight to life – many people view life as three parts – school, work, retirement where we pursue pleasurable activities. Many go through life like this but to truly enjoy life fully we should have all elements throughout all of our lives. How little did I know at the time that this would prove to be one of the best pieces of advice I ever got. It inspired my blog post New Beginnings ~ https://finnspirit.wordpress.com/2015/09/07/new-beginnings/.
  • My dad’s travel rule “If you want to bring it, you had to be able to carry it” made sure I was able to do things for myself and be independent.
  • Only YOU determine your attitude, thoughts and actions. I want to live with joie de vivre! 

What do you know for sure?