Thursday, March 10, 2016

Interview with Tiina

Yes, that's Tiina with two i's! And the person bearing this name is as exotic as her label.

I met Tiina last year during the Vancouver blogger-meetup. Tiina was the most interesting woman there -- smart, well-dressed and elegant. She's naturally quiet, like me, and still waters often run deep. The more I learned about Tiina, the more I liked her and when I returned home, I became a regular follower of her blog.

Tiina was born in Finland (which makes her a Finn) but she lives part of the year in London, England. She's multi-lingual and multi-cultural. Tiina takes pride in her Nordic home which offers free education and health care to everyone. Finland is a more egalitarian society with less income inequality than here. Finns care about each other, which is something I miss: years ago, Americans were more community-minded than they are today. We'd be better off if we moved in Finland's direction.

Tiina's English is so adept you wouldn't know it isn't her first language. In fact, Tiina teaches foreign languages so her proficiency is professional. She's married to a German man which gives her even wider cultural understanding. Befriending Tiina is a great way to expand our own horizons since listening to her European perspective is thought-provoking.

One of my goals with these interviews is to probe people's thoughts on topics rarely discussed out loud. I like how honest Tiina is with her answers. That candor matches who I met in person and makes the interview compelling reading.

I hope you enjoy the interview. And go visit her blog!

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How clearly do you believe we see ourselves?
Depends on how honest we are about our neuroses. I’m pretty honest about mine.

Can you trace who you are today back to your childhood?
Of course. But my childhood does not define me. There is a scared little girl desperate to please, as well as the angry teenager in me, still. But that’s not all I am. Unlike the scared little girl and the angry teenager, the middle-aged angry woman that I am today is in charge of her life and doesn’t have to take any crap from anyone.

Parents are usually influential. Were yours?
Absolutely. Yes, my parents had a huge effect on me.

What was your mother like?
Very beautiful and stylish, painfully shy and lacking in self-esteem, not very flexible and totally without a sense of humour, not an easy-going person at all.

Your father?
Your basic chauvinist pig momma’s boy who never amounted to anything.

Do you believe people are naturally nice or mean?
I’m the kind of person who always prepares for the worst, so I guess I expect people to be mean. And if they turn out to be nice, then it’s a pleasant surprise. But I don’t trust people easily, and I expect people to have hidden agendas and their own prejudices, and I think anyone can stab you in the back. Most of the time I just don’t care what other people think about me because it’s beyond my control anyway, and I just can’t please everyone, can I? And if someone doesn’t like me, then that’s their problem, not mine.

What experiences led you to that belief?
Probably my relationships with my parents, as a child of quarrelling divorced parents, then not fitting into my father’s new family, my experiences at school and at work. I learned very early on that people cannot be trusted, especially if you compete for the same resources, i.e. parental affection or at work.

How much daily interaction do you have with men?
I have taught men from all walks of life, from factory workers to big bosses. I have no problem with them, any more than I have with women. At work I’m the boss, and if need be, I can cut a man down to size.

How do you feel about femininity?
I haven’t really thought about it. Ever. I guess I’ve always been what you’d call a girly girl, but I’ve certainly never been helpless, or felt that being a woman somehow restricts me. I also speak my mind and swear a lot, so maybe I have a lot of so-called ‘masculine’ traits. I come from a long line of strong women who never saw femininity neither as an advantage nor a disadvantage. For example, my paternal grandmother, a huge influence and a role model in my life, used to run a car dismantler. That was a rather unusual business for a woman in the 60’s, but she had never any problems asserting authority over the half a dozen men who worked for her. In my family it was always the women who made decisions and ran their lives as they saw fit.

Were you encouraged by your parents to become feminine?
Oh yes, my mother used to dress me in frilly dresses and encourage me to look nice. I was bought very girly toys, and my father thought I should have become a nurse…

Is femininity a good or bad thing for women?
There are probably some cultural differences at play here. In American culture culturally conceived ideas femininity and masculinity as well as  how they are presented in your looks play a much bigger role than in Finland. For instance, American women in public office look so incredibly polished and feminine in a very traditional way. And female celebrities seem to see themselves also as sex objects. Now, I’m not saying there’s none of this in Finland, but we are way more relaxed about how our politicians and celebrities look like. Finnish women are probably also more comfortable speaking their minds and take it for granted that  they are treated as equals.

When did you start paying attention to the clothes you wear?
I have always paid attention to clothes. My grandmother told me that when I could barely walk and talk I had selected my summer outfit all by myself: it had to be a two-piece, bikini, and red.

Do you enjoy thinking about fashion?
Sometimes. And sometimes I find it very frustrating. These days mostly frustrating because I think most fashion designers are a bit clueless about what a woman actually looks like. I wonder why…

What styles appeal to you?
I like sophisticated, lady-like clothes, with a bit of a punk / rock attitude. And I hate fast fashion and I won’t even touch anything made of polyester.

Do you enjoy caring for your hair?
I hate my hair. My hair has a mind of its own, and every morning I have a bit of a power struggle with the hair. I usually lose.

What are your favorite TV shows?
I love Downton Abbey, I loved Mad Men, and look forward to seeing the second season of Black Widows (a Finnish thriller about 3 women who get rid of their abusive husbands by blowing up their boat).


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Thank you, Tiina!


  1. Ha hahahahahaha! That last photo sums up Tiina's great humour!

    I loved this interview. It really reflects the person I met in Vancouver. Learning more about her childhood and her (strong) opinions was very interesting. That woman has a backbone! : ) I like it.


  2. Thank you so much for this interview. Tiina is very special and I love knowing more about her. Great questions.

  3. Thank you so much, Ally, for your great introduction. I found your questions interesting and I feel honoured to be included in your series of interviews.

    Just to clarify, in the U.K I don't actually live in London, but in Canterbury, which is a small town about an hour away. But close enough, perfect for day trips to London whenever I feel like it. Actually, I think I may have omitted that bit of information on my blog, too, oops... And here's a link to Black Widows trailer, the link you have goes to the Swedish remake. I should have included this with my answers, my bad...

    Thank you again for the wonderful interview.

    1. Thanks for the clarifications, Tiina. The Swedes re-made a Finnish TV show? Never would have guessed that. :)

  4. Thank you both for this interview. Tiina has such a sharp mind, as well as a fab style. Great to get to know her better. xox


  5. lovedthe interview with her!! she sounds like a fab friend.

  6. Loved this interview! I'll definitely have to stop by Tiina's blog. She and I share many of the same thoughts/opinions on things.

  7. Great Interview! Tiina, sounds like someone I would like and and who would interest me. As she does in this very well done interview. I love speaking to people from outside this country,, especially now!
    Thanks for posting this thoughtful piece!
    xx, Elle

  8. Fantastic interview, Ally. I really admire how, in almost (if not "every") post where you describe a fellow blogger or other person in your life that matters to you, you speak so highly and kindly of them. That is a wonderful, endearing trait and no doubt speaks volumes to how much you treasure and appreciate your friends.

    ♥ Jessica

  9. Wonderful interview. I love Tiina's name :) It was fun reading about her. I'll have to check out her blog.

    xo Azu

  10. Thank you for this enjoyable interview with Tiina . I have followed Tiina for some time but it was interesting to find out some more about her early years and her thoughts on why she is the strong woman she is today.

  11. Like Jill, I've followed Tiina's blog for awhile so really enjoyed learning more about her. You're fortunate to have met her. I like her no nonsense attitude. She rocks!