33 Things You Might Not Know About Me That Shaped Me Into Who I Am

With my 33rd birthday behind me, it’s safe to say I’m getting older. Actually, we all are, even if we are only one day old. That’s the beauty of life. Time passes, we age and life moves on. This doesn’t scare me at all. In fact, I find birthdays the perfect time to reflect on who I am today, where I am and how I got here. After all, every day that has passed so far has shaped me and my life into where it is today.

Because of that, I’m taking a bold leap of faith and giving you the opportunity to get real close and personal with me. I’m sharing 33 things that you might not know about me. All of these have somehow shaped me into the person I am today. I hope you enjoy it.

  1. I am a Finnish citizen even though I was born just outside Stockholm, Sweden. Since both of my parents are Finnish, I am Finnish by blood and hence hold a Finnish passport. I do think I have a lot of the stereotypical Finnish traits, like sisu, reliability and honesty.
  2. I speak four languages fluently and two conversationally. Every language I’ve learned has been spoken in one of the countries I’ve lived in.
  3. I’ve lived in eight countries so far. These are Finland, Sweden, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Portugal, Germany, Brazil and, where I’m currently, France.
  4. I have three brothers. One twin and two older ones. I tried to be one of the boys growing up but I quickly realised I am a girl and want to be a girl. Since then, I’ve embraced #girlpower.
  5. I am a twin. We have a telepathic communication channel (not really). I am one minute older than him (really). This is very important as that means he is the youngest in the family, not me. I call him the evil twin even though he wouldn’t hurt a fly. He’s done the Ironman. I’m incredibly proud of him.
  6. As a kid, I used to play the violin and the piano. I also used to tap dance and dance jazz. But, at the age of nine, when I started riding, everything else disappeared and my love for horses took over. I haven’t regretted it for one second.
  7. When I was 18, I went to a horse university. I thought that is what I wanted my career to be and my life to revolve around. Turns out, I didn’t want that. After one semester, I left and went to study business and marketing instead. I wanted to keep horses as a competitive hobby on the side without the pressure of making money from them.
  8. After business school, when I started my corporate job, I was given a tour of the company office. They showed me a “quiet room” with an armchair and said, I quote, “If you’ve had a rough day, you can come here to cry in peace and quiet.” Not a promising first day.
  9. Before I became The Happyologist, I worked for Sony. First in Germany and then in the UK. I tried a few different roles, from product management to sustainability communications to employee engagement. None of them felt quite right but taught me a lot about me and what I wanted to do.
  10. I didn’t drink coffee until I was 22. That is when I started my corporate job. No explanation needed I think.
  11. I fired my first literary agent. She was trying to get me to write a book I didn’t want to write. Also, I felt like she just didn’t get me. If somebody is going to represent you, they’ve got to get you.
  12. I’m an introvert. I love “me time”. I need time alone. I always have and probably always will.
  13. Despite being an introvert, I’m very comfortable delivering talks and workshops. My biggest one was to an audience of 2000 at TEDxBrighton. My university lecturers used to tell me I should be a TV presenter. Maybe in the future. Who knows.
  14. I’m not a huge fan of parties. Sorry but it’s true. I find them too loud and crowded.
  15. I’m not a huge fan of the cinema either. Again, I find them too loud, the screen is too big and, if I’m being entirely honest, I worry about being able to go to the bathroom in the middle of the movie if I need to.
  16. I love small lunches and dinners. Two to six people is probably the ideal number for me to have meaningful interactions without getting overwhelmed by them.
  17. I have just over a handful of friends. But they are so much more than friends. They are soul sisters. I’ve always preferred deep, meaningful relationships with a select few rather than an overwhelming amount of superficial ones.
  18. My home is my sanctuary. I do not enjoy uninvited guests. However, I do enjoy hosting invited guests and do a pretty good job if I may say so myself.
  19. I have a small hidden tattoo. It’s about love.
  20. I think I might like a second tattoo. Also about love. I’ll keep you posted.
  21. I weigh 10% more now than I did 15 years ago. And I’m healthier, fitter and stronger than ever. Oh and happier. A hella lot happier. Your weight does not dictate your worth. Remember this.
  22. I suffer from motion sickness. On a boat. On a train. Sometimes on a plane. Even in the car if I’m not looking out of the window. It’s not ideal but I’ve learned how to minimise it. C’est la vie.
  23. I’ve had three surgeries in my life. One preventative, one essential and one emergency. Kidneys, wisdom teeth and ovarian cysts. The latter was the most painful one. Thankfully, they are all good now and they’ve all made me stronger.
  24. I was actually born with three kidneys. Yup, I’m part alien. However, the third was removed when I was a baby to avoid future problems. I really hope it went to someone who needed it. If that was you, please get in touch.
  25. I can’t reach my toes. No matter how hard I try or how much yoga I do. It might be tight hamstrings from two and a half decades of riding. My theory is that my legs are too long and my arms are too short. Surely, you agree?
  26. Before I became a dressage rider, I used to be a showjumper. In fact, I even represented Finland in one competition in Portugal when I was living there. I won, perhaps due to beginners luck.
  27. I was in a vaulting team in Brazil. This is basically gymnastics on horseback. My favourite part was running next to a galloping horse and jumping on him in full speed. My lack of flexibility, however, did not bode well for the gymnastic movements once you were onboard.
  28. I have two horses. You’ve probably heard about my current dressage horse Mickey (show name Eurythmic), but perhaps not about Ollie (show name Orlando M├ętodo). Ollie lives in the beautiful Cotswolds in a retirement herd. He is 26-years young and I’ve had him for 21 years. We’ve practically grown up together. I got him when I was living in Brazil. Then he flew Lufthansa Cargo to come to Sweden with me. And then the UK. And then Portugal. And then Germany. And then back to the UK again. He’s a well-travelled horse. He has taught me a lot about life.
  29. The first time I rode Mickey after I had bought him and he had arrived home, I fell off twice. Within the course of ten minutes. He quickly taught me to sit well and hold on tight. He’s one of the most difficult, sensitive and giving horses I’ve ever ridden. When he’s having a good day, he is pure magic. He has shaped me into the rider and person I am today.
  30. I’ve always dreamt of going to ride on the plains of Montana, like in one of my favourites movies, The Horse Whisperer. However, for some reason, I feel like I shouldn’t go yet. I will know when the time is right and will go then.
  31. When my husband and I got married, we merged our surnames to form a new one. We took the first four letters of his (Newsome) and the four last of mine (Halonen) to form our new family surname, Newsonen. It was his idea. I love it.
  32. I like to write poetry. I’m terrified of sharing it. Then again, I don’t have to. But one day, I’d like to.
  33. I’m slightly nervous about sharing this list. Is it too much? Oh well, it’s out there now. I’ve made a commitment to showing up fully in this world and this is a part of the commitment. I have nothing to hide and nothing to be embarrassed about.

Don’t be afraid of who you are and how what you’ve gone through has shaped you into the person you are today. The good and the bad, the pretty and the messy. It’s all part of the beautiful adventure of life.

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