The Real Luxury

Many wish for designer clothes or bags – my biggest wish is for life by design. And may the design be my own.

For almost a year I was working in the department store in Oslo that sells the most expensive and exclusive brands. Lately Norwegians have gotten more interest for the high-end products and Oslo started to develop its own area of luxury shopping. Some years ago these streets were filled with kiosks, small shops and cafes. Now in their place there are all the famous fashion names.

Walking past them every day, I had enough time and opportunity to contemplate about luxury. And I came to conclusion that, for me, luxury is not Louis and Gucci, not flying with a private jet, popping champagne bottles. The greatest luxury for me is to live my life by my terms and rules.

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Sunny Coffee Sum-up

Two months ago I was telling you the story that Sunny coffees are not from Norway – and now I have to eat my words.  Guys, the past month Oslo has seen the amount of sun and heat that equals, maybe, to the five years of total sunshine in Norway. We hadn’t been talking about anything else than that. And we hadn’t been doing anything else than doing summer. In Scandinavian style. But I was also drinking coffee. And taking snaps of it. And snaps are for sharing! So here are my sunny coffees, in their summer style – in Norway!

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Easy Living in the Summertime

Scandinavian summer is the best. When it happens. And it happens. This year we have experienced a natural miracle: three weeks of summer in a row! In May. Like never before. It never happens in May. It very seldom happens during the summer too. When the temps go up to 30 degrees – and stay there. When evenings are so warm that you don’t need a jacket. Some say, it’s the global warming, some say, it is the direct wind from Sahara, blowing between the low and the high pressure (can it reach all the way up to the North?). It’s unbelievable, but it’s true. While the South of Europe is cold and rainy – Norway, for once, is enjoying the real summer!

Scandinavian summer is the best because it is never too hot. Only a bit too warm at night because the houses are built for winter, not for summer, no one has AC and the fans get sold out with the speed of light these days. Even though it is burning in the sun, the shadow is always cool and the wind is refreshing. This is the best version of summer I ever know! If it would last for three months, like it does in other places, who would travel to the South? To the full airports, taxis, hotels, packed up beaches. Who? Usually we have to go because we need sunshine. As it is said here: “I love Norwegian summer. It is the best day of the year”. That’s the real reason why we travel. One day is just not enough 🙂 But if it would last  – the rest of the world would come to us in summer! 🙂

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Traveling in Prehistoric Times

There are so many things that make our traveling easier these days. Apps, Tripadvisor, online maps and GPS, travel blogs. And still I wish for more. I wish for an option “to set back all the novelties – and travel like in the old times”. I am not so old yet (well, it depends on the perspective, my 37 is a stone age for the teens :)), but sometimes I feel like a grumpy old-fashioned lady from another century. When I start recollecting, I wonder if there are still many people who could understand what I’m saying. Let’s do it for a while!

Do you remember travelling without google maps? When you had to ask strangers for the way and figure out the instructions in any language. The best were Spaniards. On my feeble and polite “Hablas ingles? Do you speak English?”, followed by their energetic “Si, si, si” – “Where is this place?” they would almost grab my hand and go: “Mira, guapa, todo recto, de recha, al fondo, primera – no, segunda – si”. And I would just read their hand movements and improve my Spanish vocabulary immediately.

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An Attempt at Minimalism

When I worked in the Danish design store of jewelry and living, I liked telling the story behind the product because the story makes it more personal. I would often tell my customers: “When it comes to such things as jewelry, we want it to have meaning: either they are a gift from somebody dear, a heritage, or they have a story you can connect to”. I was not making things up, this has become my own truth too. I would say: “With clothes, I can go and buy some cheap t-shirt and throw it away next summer. With jewelry, I want it to last many years and have some special memory every time I use it. This is why I like when my necklace is a gift, even if I could buy it myself. And it is ok to give presents to yourself too, if you want to mark an occasion that is special for you. It is also ok when they cost some money – choosing and thinking over is all the part of the process. You would not want some cheap thing – it would not have the same value for you over time”.

I have come to realize that my relationship with things has changed. A lot. Growing up in a very turbulent time in Ukraine, right after the collapse of Soviet Union, I was not spoiled by things. I remember wearing my mom’s shirts and my dad’s flared jeans (I was kinda hippie and loved the 70s style). I remember shopping at second hand. My jewelry was self-made necklaces and friendship bracelets which fitted with the eccentric style of my hippie friends. While my girl peers were busy with make-up, pretty clothes and boyfriends, I couldn’t care less about it. I focused on studying and dreamt about getting into the Moscow university, filling my time and fancy with rock’n’roll music, the Beatles, drawing and making up stories with my friend. I was a typical dreamer.

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A Coffee Talk and April Sum-up

It has been a while since we had a coffee talk – and suddenly it is May. Today I wrote my morning pages, saying good-bye to April and realized that I had planned so much for this month – and did so little. No photowalks, no color hunts, no collection of shop signs I intended to go for with my camera. Thanks God to the all the photos I had taken in Rome – they were enough for one month’s sharing (and I still have some in store ;)). These coffee photos were taken just before my trip, in the last days of March. The air was still winter cold, but the sunlight was that of the spring. So everyone went outside to grab a place on a sunny terrace, and there we sat, in our winter jackets, enveloping ourselves in scarfs and rugs – pretending that this is a real spring. Celebrating the light.

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Life Without Instagram

Once I fell in love with the notion of Experimental Life (introduced by Jonathan Fields on my favorite podcast The Good Life Project). It proposes to see our projects not in the terms of succeeding/failing but in terms of an experiment: whatever outcome is, you have collected some data. This gives a kinder perspective on what we use to call “mistakes”. And it also encourages me to test different lifestyle habits without letting it define me. Last year I had an experiment of doing a social media detox and I wrote about it here – later also I went off Instagram for three months. Now I want to share why I did it and what I have learnt from it.

Life Without Instagram
Instagrammers’ hot spot in Naples

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