Invisible Illness – or how to multiply by three

People who see you in a café or on the street, who talk with you at work or in the shops see a normal young woman. Fairly decent looking, soft around the curves, blue eyes and a quick smile. They see a person whom they probably forget moments later as that’s what we do with
strangers – passersby who don’t occupy a permanent space in our continuum of daily routines.

Quite unremarkably, our daily lives evolve around our own needs, wants, routines – our very own do’s and don’ts. Those passersby wouldn’t “sense” the churn in your gut, the ping-pong match inside your head, the tremor in your hands which you keep deliberately constantly busy or in your pockets; you don’t mean to wave so much when you talk – it’s a means to an end. They wouldn’t notice the wobble in your legs or tightness in your chest, or mourn with you the sudden shorter haircut you just had (as you try to hide the drastic hair loss). FB_IMG_1447633471140

Even those closest to you whom you see or speak to nearly on a daily basis miss the signs – not due to any fault of their own, but rather because you have become a master of guises as varied as your symptoms. One for each day, person and definitely each situation, warranted or not. You know whom you can be weak with and whom not, though given the choice you wouldn’t anyway. So you put on an act.

With no outward, visible, tangible symptoms who would believe you anyway? You don’t ail the same way as they do, bounce back the way they do, snap out of it like they would, spend your times of remission they way the expect, or deal with your relapses as they have advised. So you must be okay.

It is an invisible illness as when you see me you see no scars, you see no bodily fluids oozing out of me in dramatic gushes and you don’t hear  me moan as I hold my forehead, a lady about to faint, softly and delicately. As one ought. But I don’t

It can’t be that bad if you’re out and about, right? It  can’t be that – you ate that burger! It can’t be that bad when you can come to work.

They don’t know that going out is a form of self-medication; they don’t know how walking helps with pain or how socialising helps your mood despite being so doped on the meds they bump into you that you can barely follow a conversation.
Or you just needed a distraction, a feel for normalcy.

They don’t know that the day before that burger you ate nothing because even a sip of water would create cramps so violent you threw up pile and today you are feeling better – and ravenous. You got to take those moments because you don’t know when the next one comes around.

They don’t see how despair each morning when you discovery yet another piece of clothing you don’t fit in anymore as the medication that is helping you also comes with an anthology of side effects and makes your body distort. You win some you lose some.

They don’t see that the smile, quick wit and talent for banter you spout and the non-stop go-go-go you are at work is letting you try to be one of them, not the weak link, show yourself and them you can do it, you are valuable, you can be productive member of society – and that makes a difference for them and you. You are not alone.

Every invisible illness is as different as is every survivor. The coping mechanisms suit our needs, not your wants. Some want, yearn and demand their illness to be recognised, understood and seen so they don’t struggle alone. They want awareness. Some just want to plod along, un-judged and unnoticed. Move on and forget that today it took me an hour to convince myself to get out of bed and get dressed and go out just for a cup of tea so I feel like me, not like a piece of furniture. Some are (admittedly like the writer) stubborn and proud and hate nothing more than to be continuously seen as a patient, as someone who is sick, to be felt sorry for. The attention, pity, disbelief, worry, and resentment, the desperate want to help and want to make it better for you – it all piles up. And many in recovery tend to end up caring more for those wanting to help than helping themselves.

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“Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, puck up buttercup.
So much to look forward to, you can do it.
Try this, you’ll see, you’ll feel different.
It’s a new day, keep your head up.
It’ll pass, just take your meds.
You’re over-thinking it.
You don’t look sick.

It could be worse.
Snap out of it.”

See, that gig I went to? Did you see how I spent half of it crouched behind peoples’ legs as I couldn’t stand upright from pain? Or did you know I took the first sick leave in more than a year just so I could have time start the recovery my way – not yours. If it makes you feel better to scrutinize my way of weaving through this rotten hand I’ve been dealt with, telling everyone she must not be sick because she is walking, talking, socialising, or eating this and drinking that, that is your prerogative. But don’t do it behind my back, don’t analyze me without having a day in a body that is attacking you, or a mind that paints a picture you don’t quite grasp see or a brain that disconnects and connects at lightning speed from one thing to another. Talk to me. Look at me. See me.

If you don’t see me, don’t judge me – I might not do what you expected from me, but I am doing my best to do what is right for me. I am not you – I am a rainbow; and I quite like me.

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Just Like Starting Over

It has been more than a decade since I have been able to listen to without a cringing and, more so, to enjoy the Beatles or John Lennon’s songs by any degree. Ruined by a jealous guy who claimed to be re-born Lennon, the new musical messiah and my knight in a rug. I was 16. And soon enough I was letterswatching the wheels go round and round without ever mounting to anything except all his loving. No instant karma there, except as a torture device, excuse for bad behavior – a tool to twist and shout, order me to get back in line. How dare I buy chewing gum on a free period from school and not tell him about it? It’s
like how do you sleep at night, knowing a day in the life of someone like you made a woman like me feel worthless and insecure, scared and at the same time – curiously fascinated? You were the walrus, the nowhere man that was here, there and everywhere. I had no chance. You said all you need is love – and I gave you all my loving. We dove head on to helter skelter.

In our mixed emotions and thoughtlessness it never dawned that our life together could have been so precious, and we could have grown – spread our wings and fly – and it could have been just like starting over? It rather became the long and winding road, the pressure of constant demand of oh my love, love me do. I was 19. And I didn’t yet know how to say no, I can work it out on my own. I can be me and still be worth something.

For the decade after I used to walk out the room, leave the table for bathroom, change radio channels, skip the song on playlist, talk loudly over each song as soon as I recognized it for what it was. Nobody told me these memories lose their meaning over time, but I know I’ll often stop and think about them. Thinking about the time when you showed up in a rug under the balcony and sang Jealous Guy like your life dependent on it. And maybe it did. Sure felt like it. You were just a loser. you let me down. You did warn me; you were beginning to lose control, acted like a clown.

So how do you sleep? Now the sound you made is muzak to my ears, and you must have learned something in all these years. I know I have. I have learned I am strong, I am 2D11403865-today-beatles-140123.jpgworthy, I am smart, I am a loud mouth nasty woman that would never again tolerate what was said and done. I’m not 19 anymore.
Do I have to keep on talking
till I can’t go on? Well, now I’m 31 and I am no longer grooving up slowly, well over the joker who did what he pleased, and I am reclaiming the Beatles and John, too.

Hello, goodbye and welcome back, gents, I’m sure we can work it out!

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Semper Fi.

What makes a person study, research and thereby devote their life to the worst of humanity?

To trying to comprehend, dissect, analyse, and therewith make known and ensure it’ll never be forgotten – the most horrendous choices mankind has made?

And what, then, makes a white girl Savo gal study slavery and the incomparable work of art, literature, music and encoded ingenious that it withholds and produced, not from more than necessity and determination? Why them?

Empathy? Sympathy? Guilt of white privilege?

However, racism does not define itself by colour solely. Racism is the white skinned jew persecuted for a faith older than recognised humanity, racism and prejudice is putting that extra step between you and the slightly Arabic looking man, racism and prejudice and suspicion based on hearsay is thinking the Ukrainian, the Serb, the Czech, the Russian, the Slightly Different Looking than My Majority (anyone) without the obviousness of root of the basic of the German, the Scandinavian or, at the moment though– in comparison– this is a relatively new phenomenon, of the American origin. None them actual being just one or the other. All of them being more.

How many (of us, they, you, her, he, she, co, ne, ve, spivak, ze, xe, that one over there)  have been judged based on their skin, hair, accent, education, gender, birth vs recognised gender, number of tattoos or piercings, choice of a job, being a stay at home mom/dad, disability of body or mind, their lineage of family, expectations rules rigours rebellion? All of them.

Prejudice does not end in colour. It does not end in religion. It does not end in gender. And it is not one man or woman, one nation or a news channel. Its them. We all contribute, in tiny ways. We might not want to, but we are – impacted, influenced, imparted with and programmed to see, hear, repeat, regurgitate, and learn things in a manner convalescent of the majority around us. We don’t always get to make the choices best for us. Our inner selves. It takes time. Being different. It takes time. To break off a mould planned and designated. It takes courage to make that change, alteration, challenge, admission, recognition, acceptance and profession of our each one’s uniqueness.

And it’s not overnight, it’s not easy – but it is necessary and it is unavoidable.

So, why does a white privileged Finnish gal, with both jewish and gypsy heritage, from Savo area of Finland, living in Scotland, an expatriate and an immigrant with Crohn’s disease and ADHD, gets herself neck deep in studies on inequality, race, gender and privilege? Because she has been prejudiced against, because she has guilt, because she hopes, plans, educates, challenges and prays there is a way for her to make a crack at it. From them. Because reading Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Claudia Rankine, Toni Morrison, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Handmaid’s Tale, Boy Meets Boy, Rock Hudson, Mary Wollstonecraft, Marsha P. Johnson. And my friends, new and old. etc et al ad infinitum. For them. Semper et in perpeetum.

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Working full – or part-time while studying – doable exhaustion?


A discussion on Reddit sparked a wander down a memory lane. Contributor j_icicle enquired  How do people bring themselves to be in full-time work and part-time education at the same time? For this contributor the mere idea seemed inconceivable;

I just can’t see my self sticking with it, I can’t drop full-time work because of rent and life ect but I’ve been doing shit jobs for 8 years with very little increase in pay. My GF would never let me just up and take out huge loans to get my through university and it would be unfair to her if I did.
Taking 4 years out of my life, by the time I get anywhere I’ll be 28. I also get paid to play music a few times a week so I’d have to drop my social life as well as that extra income would be gone.

Child, please – I was lucky to go through big chunk of my studies without having to work but once that option was gone, I worked and I worked hard – there was no question. While studying full time, I had two part time jobs as well as being involved in student advisory body at my undergraduate institution

So many other contributors have lived through it, and they know the reality of it –

I work a full-time job and go to school full-time as well. Is it difficult? Yes. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. You’re just going to have to make some sacrifices along the way. That might be not grabbing a beer with your buddies every weekend due to studying. As long as you remain focused, you’ll be fine. (OhPraiseHim)
In 4 years you are going to be 28. Do you want to be 28 with a degree or 28 without a degree?
Eye on the prize, mate. Little pain now for greater gain later. (Pun_In_Ten_Did)
I am currently working full time and attending school full time. I had the same issue you seem to be having, what’s the point of going back to school if I’m going to be 28 by the time I graduate? If you let that thinking take over, next year you’ll be 29 by the time you graduate instead of one year closer to your goal.
Can it be stressful? Totally. But I keep telling myself that I’m going to bust my butt now so I can have an easier life in the future.
My suggestion is to try going to school while maintaining your full time position. If it gets to be too much, there’s no shame in cutting work back to part time while taking out some loans. Loans can be a great resource if used properly. (DC_lurker)


Once I decided to do my postgraduate and move to a new country (best choice ever – by the way!) I knew I would have to work. I ended up being unemployed for several months but eventually through volunteering I met some good people, got my first job in a new city and never stopped working since. At the busiest time I had 3 part time jobs while studying part time in a university that was in a different city than where I lived. And I was making enough to make ends meet, not to save much or have that “out all night, sleep all day” student life. I had weeks when I would together with the commute work anything between 60-72 hours a week, plus studying time. My friends and family were asking me when do I find time to sleep? August 2014 was my reply – that would be when I have handed in my thesis and I wouldn’t commute, I wouldn’t write, I wouldn’t research, I would just work. Just one job. I would have a regular 9-5 life like so many people and I would love it.

As I put on my penguin gown and listened to the speeches, as I walked in a line, got “capped” and my hand shaken and patted on the back by friend and families, I swore never again – never again would I study as it had drained me dry and it was hard and I had achieved what I was out to get education wise. It was time for a change. I was exhausted.

And now I work. Yet I haven’t really found the haven I was looking for. It’s not the job; I enjoy my work (or aspects of it…).

My jobs have exhausted me more than my studies did; I commute, I work on shift-pattern, I come home, I eat sleep and repeat. I haven’t got much time or energy to socialise, and I seem to recluse myself without realising, making bad excuses for not going out or avoid making plans all together as I know I might have to work. And I have started to consider options. My work has made me see how much I enjoyed studying, how much I enjoyed the reading and researching, the constructive arguing and the writing, the testing my own abilities intellectually. I have realised I long to be back in an University setting; I am a fish out of water without it.  Although there are so many questions to answer before a decision can be made. Questions like; “will someone supervise my idea?”, “is my idea good enough?”, “am I good enough?”, “will I have the energy?”, “will I get bored?”, and so many more, but most importantly – “how will I afford it?”

Is going back to university, working throughout full or part-time really worth it? Would I do it again? The answer is simply yes. I’ve done it, and it burned me out very quickly. But damn did it not also kick my but in gear. I am older now, I’d like to believe I have more discipline and determination and I definitely have learned to skimp and not have the kind of social life most students dream of.

Now I just have to make words into actions. Easy, eh?





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Should you, would you if you could?

A phone call. That is all it takes to change someone’s day, life or even a whole world.

A friend in need is not something to shy away from. There are too many who say I can’t do anything anyway, I can’t change anything anyway, I don’t want to get mixed up, I don’t want to be involved, I don’t want to be blamed… To change even one life is worth every bit of effort even on the risk of losing that person when they cannot see the need themselves yet.

Just a guy by Salzach

Just a guy by Salzach

For years I’ve known an ex soldier. But that is not all he is. He is also an ex-boyfriend, an ex-happy, and ex-bully, an alcoholic, an abuser, liar, he is one to make excuses and to blame others. He is also a great friend, confused, lovable, affectionate, intelligent, unafraid of putting himself in harms way if that means he could help, he is relentless getting the information he wants and if important he does not hesitate to share that information. He will stop at nothing to find a way for others, but fails at this continuously when it comes to himself. He is a good man, and he has a life in front of him that he does not yet understand.

I can’t do much. I’m too far away. But I will always be with him, for him and against him if I need to be. There is so much that can be done with just a phone call, just an email, just reaching out.

Never under estimate what you know is in for what you see on the out. Never underestimate the power of a single word.

Snippets of conversation and steps forward:

…I think he is in serious trouble now. After his friend died and him being the one discovering the body, he’s completely distraught and manic.

I spent an hour with him on the phone today. He was talking about a program he wants to get to get his drinking etc under control. The conversation didn’t go very well and he seemed to be in a very dark place. He had to go to a 7/11 and was to call me back after but somehow possibly due to the storm here we couldn’t get connected anymore.

Last he said in a message through Facebook is that he was on the phone turning himself in. I don’t know to whom or where he was calling or where he was turning himself in and he hasn’t answered me since.

Please check on him when you can and please let me know where he is and what is happening. I’m really worried. He hasn’t been this on edge in a while. I’m scared for him.

… I just got off the phone with him – he is in a mental hospital/rehab unit.  Does not know how long he will be in.

He went because you told him to! He was calm and stable…
… He’s my friend. I’ve been drawn to him since I first met him. He in such a dark place but he knows it and is continuously trying to find a way out of that place but he keeps failing. He’s in a place now that can hopefully help. I told him he needs to stay as long as possible, as long as he has tools to take care of himself, and only leave once there’s a support system set up on the outside once he leaves; he needs AA and therapy, probably for ever, maybe only for a while. But he needs it and he knows it. I told him I’m not afraid to get him committed again if he doesn’t stick to it, and I’m not afraid to get his mother involved…

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The Way Forward in the Form of a Rant

You know the tap in your bathroom or kitchen that no matter how tight you close it keeps dripping and dripping and dripping and eventually you end of screaming at this inanimate object out of frustration ultimately realising your frustration towards that tap is a symptom not a cause? It’s not the tap you’re annoyed with. It’s the dripping that slowly fills you to the brim.

Rather a stale idiom, isn’t it? But it works. My brim came full the other day when I found out things that I just could not fathom any professionals would or even could stoop down to. So I have decided to open the taps full and start all over again. I don’t mind where I go from here, as long as I’m moving.Aija Oksman, MLitt Publishing

Due to disclosure agreements and possible social media monitoring that the company conducts and other rather inconceivable ridiculousness I’ve encountered, I won’t be naming or shaming. But I will quite happily wonder about the future.

I’ve finished my degree. MLitt in Publishing  and am slowly coming into terms of not being a student anymore. It’s about damn time, I think. Difficult part now is to figure out what next?

Is publishing what I really want to do? What in it appeals to me? What kind of publishing would I want to be involved in? Am I corporate material or rather independent publishing type? Editing? Proofreading? Marketing? Translating? Literary agency?

Actually, I know exactly what I would want. I know exactly what I would be good at and where my passion lies. But it’ll take a while to get there, and requires experience and experimenting. Of course in the ideal world I could combine my love for cooking/baking and coffee with working with independent publishing, minority literatures and translations.

One can dream, right?

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Seeking a Friend for the End of the World…?

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An asteroid about to hit the earth and destroy all life as we know it – what would you do? Who would you seek out? What sins would you reconcile, or what sins would you finally commit? What temptations would you finally make sure to fulfill? What past aggressions would you forgive and forget? What is that one thing that you always wanted to or were meant to get done but haven’t so far?

I saw this film, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, tonight and I got to say – I am neither a friend of Steven Carell or Keira Knightley (though to her defense, I do enjoy her mother’s plays – her mother happens to be Sharman Macdonald), I was still happily surprised by this film. Not in the sense that the end of the world is anything to be excited about, but in the sense of some good storytelling.

And as always, a good story gets me thinking – and I do got my thinking onesie on. Am I lonely when I am alone? What would I do if the end of the world was imminent? Would I make a mad dash around the world to get to my family or would I be content with the notion they know I love them, cherish them and have always appreciated every bit of their existence?

Then I read this interesting article – and after, honestly too many, 2014-10-02 22.09.05“you’ll find someone”, “you’ll want to settle down soon”, “you’ll change your mind when you meet someone” even after I’ve explicitly expressed my opinion about procreation and marriage and whatnot – I find it uplifting to not be alone in the idea that being on my own is not condemnable. For example, “if our society still struggles to accept someone on their own – especially if that someone is a woman”(1), it doesn’t mean it’s not all right. I do seek out human contact; I have my friends, I have a family and I have my cats (yes, some call me crazy cat lady). I am alone but I am not lonely. I am alone but I am no actively seeking to have a partner on my side.

I have, in the past, been very concerned about being with someone. The more I tried, the more I realised I would end of in relationships I would feel I was “settling” in or I was unhappy otherwise, just afraid to break it off in the fear of being alone. I would go on dates, get involved and then something dramatically unsettling would happen, or what is worse – absolutely nothing would happen. So what’s the point?

Is there an age limit when those around me can finally accept that if I say I’m happy to be on my own and I don’t want to have kids? I’m setting my sights to thirty – which is a bit more than a year away so buckle up, buddies – I ain’t getting hitched. And those who know me, know my dating habits are not the most conventional as such. Most recent dating ended up in a dramatic bust and then there’s the on-off-on-again music-man that just unravels my head, heart and body in a single word. Maybe I don’t make the safest, wisest or most life-easing choices. But I never have, it seems. The head-first-through-the-hardest-of-stones-attitude runs in my family. I learn through mistakes and I build my personality by doing it my way. It’s really not that I couldn’t find anyone to share my existence with if I set my mind and body to it – I just don’t particularly want to.

Although, what I’ve learned and will keep reminding others and especially myself of, is never say never. So, I won’t say ever never but I will say I am pretty confident that I am just as content being on my couch, reading a book, watching a film, writing a random thought out, designing a book as I am in building my career, planning ahead, working my butt off, as I am on doing all that on my own without a partner to validate me or my efforts.

So, can all those who love me concede I am happy and be happy for me? Well, I could use a more interesting, creatively demanding and based on my education kind of job but hey – nothing’s perfect and it’s all about one step at a time, ain’t it?


1 – Being single by choice is liberating, says Hannah Betts,

Also, read more, if you speak the language, as this is not just an Anglophone thing:

Egoistische Zweisamkeit: Ersatzreligion Liebe,

Moni sanoo parisuhteelle ei kiitos,

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The Pursuit Project

WebsiteThings are moving along nicely.

Saila and I have now started the English version of the succcessful Oman Elämänsä Prinssessa blog, under the titular The Princess of her own Existence. Rather dramatic name, but the story and journey of Saila are just that. Dramatic.

I cannot pretend I know anything about postnatal depression,
but I do know something about self-harm, depression and issues with eating – perhaps that is why I have always felt strongly about Saila’s experiences. And that is why I believe it is a journey worth sharing. Saila has very unashamedly shared deepest personal feelings and shown an insight to the world of a woman, a mother and a wife in the grips of depression. Something too many are still afraid to admit, to speak of and to express as openly as Saila does.

FatherWhat women endure in silence is exactly what Saila expressed loudly and proudly – together with her husband, Timo. They have been a team since the beginning, with Timo eventually becoming Saila’s photography partner. No one ever thinks about the father in these situations, sadly. Therefore, for the Pursuit Project it was clear from the beginning that we wanted to include the father’s perspective. In the sample book this was one spread, but in the plan for the full-length version the father’s contribution will be much more extensive, both in form of his own words and the photography.

At the moment, Saila and I are focusing in creating more space for the project in forms of social media and contacting publishers and potentially also agents. Although, honestly, I wouldn’t mind taking the role of agent here. This project, for Saila as well as for myself is very personal. For very different reasons, probably.

The next exciting part is that Saila is attending the Helsinki Book Fair 23–26th October, and will hopefully be able to reach a lot of people. Helsinki Book Fair10406956_10152820717569273_7258743995735808228_n is very different to the other book fairs that I have been lucky enough to be acquainted with. Another thing the Finnish publishing and Finnish literature are doing right, and the world fairs would have a thing or two to adopt from Helsinki Book Fair. The Helsinki Book Fair is an open doors event, meaning that it is not aimed just for the trade people but invites the public, which directly results into having more visitors, more acknowledgment and more spread. And finally, the Helsinki Book Fair has the policy of actually selling titles at the fair not just representing them, which has a direct correlation to the popularity and spread of the reputation and success of the Book Fair itself.

As the idea for the book begun as a graduate project for the University of Stirling, the final work was submitted as a sample of a book. It was always about creating something necessary, something for where there is an obvious market gap – and even bigger necessity of accessible, first-hand experience. Simple reason why Saila and I are working at creating this book, is to provide those suffering from postnatal depression with assurance that there is a way out, that it is not a taboo to speak out and you will not be stigmatised for admitting you need help. The first step to admitting and accept you cannot do it on your own anymore, is hearing it from someone who has been there before.

Saila’s openness, perseverance and current position as a spokesperson and mental health experience expert are an inspiration.

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With no offence to anyone – But what do you in this situation?

2014-09-27 12.59.12 Is a “no” always a “no”?

Yes. Yes it is.

When it comes to something so personal. So precious. Almost vulnerable. There is no excuse for not understanding that word. When you’re in such an intimate situation – and believe me it has been a long road for someone like, me with trust-issues up to my eyelids, to even get to that point to put myself into that situation with someone – you are supposed to feel safe, pampered, relaxed. Ready to take a plunge, to share something of yourself that not too many (well, what’s many anyway?) have been able to share with you before. Have you ever been in that situation? The first nervous experiences and attempts, the first time you let someone so close, first time you’re willing to share a bit about yourself…

And suddenly it is something else. Turned into evil. Spoiled. The whole experience tainted. You were betrayed in the most ultimate level. It leaves a mark when something like that happens. It takes a long time before you trust again. Before you let someone so close. And the anger, the betrayal, the suspicions, the fear to let go and commit again – to ever allow someone so close again.

But you do. Because that is human nature. We are not meant to be alone. Social creatures as we are it is that very condition that is our curse. Some learn to choose wisely, some fall to the same types over and over again, never learning, not recognising the pitfalls that have been crystal clear since the beginning. Trust is a funny thing. Want and need to share is inherent with us.

So you start seeing someone new. You go out a few times. You share some anecdotes. Candle lit dinners. Walks on the beach. Fireworks. You have that nauseous feeling in the pit of your stomach that some call butterflies. You’ve learned to call it gut feeling. But you convince yourself you’re being paranoid. You talk it through with your very best friends who also convince you you’re being paranoid, and you should give it a go because you deserve to be happy. So you do.

And then comes that night. You’re comfortable. You’re about to share something extraordinary. You’re nervous, glancing around you, taking a fortifying sip of your wine. It’s now or never. Your hand reaches out and…

And then the bastard takes the last piece of pizza anyway like it’s no big deal. Pig.

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‘Espresso Sospeso’ or ‘suspended coffee’; the new pay-it-forward.

Yesterday I spoke of my coffee addiction with a fellow addict. First time in a long time I was told there was no judgment for me drinking more than eight cups of coffee a day (well, I used to – now it’s more like four or five). And that got me thinking of all the new flavoured coffee creations, those with all sorts of creams and liqueurs and spices? Whereas I’m more traditional – I like a cappuccino, espresso and most of the time I’ll opt for just a cup o’ joe so piping hot it’ll put a hop in my step.

Now, I don’t usually partake in “do this get this, do this feel, this pay this feel this, I dare you I dare you not” challenges presented on Facebook or other venues. But recently, I’ve seen a lot of inspirational people turn the ice bucket challenge to something else. For an inspirational example, my friend Inês turned the ice bucket challenge into something more personal, and more beautiful, with a well-explained message on how she would not throw cold or other kind of water on herself, but rather has donated and encourages others to get involved with suspended coffees.


Those unfamiliar with the idea, the idea of suspended coffees originated in Naples, Italy, and has since spread across most major cities. Largely due to the unwavering efforts of an Irishman John Sweeney,a young plumber from Cork who recently himself having experienced unemployment knows exactly how hard it can get.

For those more suspicious, not in first-name basis with “in your face” homelessness and anti-homelessness campaigns, suspended coffees is a way to give with knowing your contribution goes directly to help those in need, with no second or third parties taking a cut, without governmental organisations involved and without any morality preaching. It is up to you what and how much and if you indeed suspend something at all.

So, what do you do? How does it work? What does it mean for those in need? And if you have questions, do some rudimentary research – such as open a link, Google it or, you know, ask… Valid or invalid questions alike can be covered with the rather self-explanatory answer of how the process is rather simple; you walk into a coffee shop, order your coffee and on top of your own explain the barista that you would like to include (insert number here) suspended coffees as well. You pay your own and the suspended coffees, and next time someone in need comes inquiring for a warm drink, they’ll have one waiting for them.

As this heart-warming notion of help is spreading, it is good to be aware of the locations nearest to you. Myself being in Scotland, here’s a list of suspended coffee places in Scotland. But I’m sure there is more to follow?

Social Bite Rose Street, Edinburgh. They are a leading example in Scotland when it comes to suspended coffee. Truly remarkable. And it’s not just coffee.

Stewart’s Cafe St. Andrews Street, Glasgow.

Bite’s and PCs Internet Cafe Main Street Falkirk.

Our Story Cafe St. Andrews.

Moondogs Channel street, Galashiels.

The Suspended Coffees Scotland are continuously looking for more coffee shops to get involved, so if you or you know someone who does run a coffee shop, in Scotland or anywhere, find your local suspended coffee community and get involved. As that hot beverage or a sandwich or whatever you have suspended might be the only thing down on their luck individual gets that day, you can be the reason for someone to lay their head down that much fuller of warmth, even for one night.

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