So what exactly is the meaning of sisu? There are plenty of definitions, but the one most agree with is that it translates to the strength of will, determination and perseverance. I often heard it translated as a child as 'having guts.' Other, more thoughtful interpretations say it is not momentary courage, but the ability to sustain an action against the odds - even with repeated failure.
Now you can call that stubbornness, which many Finns are accused of, and you can call that stoic-ness which is also a typically Finnish trait. But I choose to call it persistent: to keep trying until you get it right. That in a nutshell is me. And I'd like to channel that energy to realigning my life this year. To let go of those things that are holding me back and embrace those things that are helping me grow as a person.
Ok, so how do you capture that in a picture? I took the entire week to try to figure out what I could photograph. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that when I think about what this means to me it is captured by my grandparents. Funny thing is I think of my maternal grandparents, who are German. My father is actually the Finn. Nonetheless, that is what I think of. They grew up in rural Nebraska, on neighboring farms. They were sweethearts from about the age of 6 and ran off to get married at 17 across the Nebraska border in Kansas (that wild state of KS - ha!).
But by the time the kids came along, they were heading into the dust bowl. And Nebraska was right in the heart of that crazy thing. They tried to move the family to Oregon twice. The first time Grandpa just couldn't find any work. So he went back to Nebraska. But the second time he found work on a Dairy farm and went back to pack up the family and drive across the states in an old Ford pickup truck shown here (c. 1938). The little girl is my mom.
My grandparents were hard-working, people of few words, and what they said was honest. They lived their lives simply and with love. I think that is a great guide to assess my life this year.