As the autumn darkness is crawling in, I want to look back to brighter days and be thankful for all the colors in my life. I happen – and am happy – to live in maybe the brightest neighborhood of Oslo. There are neighborhoods with richer architecture and posher buildings, where streets are full of beautiful blond people. There are neighborhoods closer to the lakes, the nature and the forest with the festival of autumn colors happening right now. But I would claim that no neighborhood is so full of colorful houses and lively crowds as Gruneløkka, the hipster hood.
Let me prove my point with these photos taken in August, when the air was already chilly, but when the sun was still shining and sending our spirits high. May the light and colors brighten up your autumn mood!
With all the events of the past weeks I have neglected my photowalks in Oslo. But I still feel the need to share its beautiful corners and lovely streets. So today I want to present my favorite neighborhood – Gruneløkka. It became hipster recently after having undergone the gentrification. It used to be a cheap and shabby area with weird population, then it became popular among artists and students for its cheapness, and now – as it usually happens – it is a neighborhood with many restaurants, cafes, bars and small shops. Which are mostly quirky, vintage and small businesses, but the big chains have appeared here too in the past couple of years squeezing the small owners out of the area. Gruneløkka, or shortly Løkka, is full of life and attracts people from other parts of the city for eating out or hanging in its bars.
Maybe, not everyone has a dream city, but I have always had. One of them was – and is – Paris. That case when your dream of Paris is bigger than the city itself. I have been several times in the City of Light, and still my thirst has not been quenched. Of this I was reminded recently when a book title started to pop into my eyes.
The book title is “A Paris Year” by Janice MacLeod. It appeared in several places, like a little case of synchronicity. The book is partly a journal, and partly a visual memoir, filled with photos and author’s drawings. I just have to get this book in paper and hold it in my hands. And imagine that this is my journal from the future. Because it looks like the author is living my dream.
I am a lover of all things French and a self-proclaimed student of art of life. I say, of art de vivre, because for me this form of art is developed by the French to its best expression)) In this post I want to share what I have learnt so far from them and the impressions of our road trip in the South of France.
The start was here, in Perpignan, and I was slightly unimpressed by it. There was not enough Frenchness there to my taste, which is touristic and brought up by the classical images of Paris and Provence. That changed when we came to Montpellier, a pretty city, totally unknown to me. It had all the elegance of the French city, the signature architecture and the color scheme, and I immediately fell in love.
The backyards of Oslo are charming and mysterious. They are hidden behind wooden doors or iron gates. Some are simple, with geometric shapes of facades. Some are full of life, with fountains, gardens, romantic benches under the trees. When I walk through my favorite neighborhood of Gruneløkka and pass by the gates, I always slow down and peek into the backyard, wandering at its secret life, imagining how people use it. Do children play there? Do they make backyard parties there?
Once when I was on a photo walk, I’ve seen an open gate – and after a moment of hesitation I sneaked inside and stood there. Just a backyard, just a girl with a camera. But that joy of explorer was reaching to the stars, as I stood there, happy as a child. After that I wondered if I should sneak into more backyards, waiting by the gate until someone was passing through 🙂 That would guarantee me a status of a local weirdo, I guess. I decided to wait on that one, and just make photos through the gates and doors. That day became an adventure for my explorer spirit.
After I have caught an explorer excitement about the city where I live here, I was inspired to share the collections of things that catch my attention. Like my collection of backyards, or balconies, or details of Oslo. In my first years in this city I was sharing my collections of doors, old cars and lights of Oslo on Facebook. Then when Instagram came, and I have seen shots of the beautiful doors, I was again running around the city looking for the pretty doors and facades. My friend even mentioned that I should post more photos of myself than of doors (but I disagree :)).
I also want to introduce the idea of micro exploring. That concept came to my mind yesterday, but I would not be surprised if it already exists (as it often happens with some ideas occurring to me :)). A quick search of blogs here on WordPress led to the Ted talk by Alastair Humphreys who introduces the notion of micro adventure. A further research is to be done. But here I am not to claim the originality of the idea, but to speak my heart about it. I feel that this is what the world needs right now. Or maybe, this is what I need right now :)) A shift of focus. The discovery of beauty in my immediate surroundings.
Why I am so afraid to feel my negative emotions? Why when I feel despair or anxiety rising up do I want to run and hide, to distract myself, to do anything but avoid feeling what I feel? I am not a good runner in sports, but I am a very good runner from my fears. Isn’t it generally a human condition? We try to stop ourselves from feeling the way we consider negative. But what if we stop stopping – and start exploring?
Feeling is healing, I have recently heard in a yin yoga class. And I loved that thought. But I am so good in suppressing the feelings I don’t like – even though I consider myself very self-conscientious and in touch with my inner life. But it shows in situations where I face really uncomfortable emotions that I have no interest for self-inquiry. I just would love to switch the channel and be in a totally different state. As much as I respect Tony Robbins and all that philosophy of quantum leaps and switching states, I want to answer to that call for facing my emotion. I feel that it can bring me closer to my true self.