01 Dec Keeping My Swedish Roots Alive with Linnea Dunne
Keeping My Swedish Roots a Life
Keeping Swedish Roots alive when you live overseas is hard. My guest Linnea Dunne is author of Lagom, and Morning Rituals books. She also is editor, mother of two and self-confessed feminist and has spent the last few years to campaign to repeal the 8th amendment in Ireland. Linnea is originally from Sweden and we sat down to talk about her journey on how she found herself living in Ireland and how she keeps her Swedish roots alive.
How Did You Find Yourself in Ireland of all Places?
Linnea says “I was 19 then graduating from secondary school and I wanted to go away, I wanted to improve my English and I wanted to just, you know, Live a Little So, so to speak So myself and a friend packed our bags and went to Dublin. Now, that’s a very long time ago now.
And I only stayed originally for three months, and then went back to Sweden and hated it, and went back to Ireland again, and then went back and forth a few times and eventually went back and met my now husband. And we ended up going to London together and spending 10 years there, but when I was pregnant with our second child, we move back to Ireland.”
Tell us about your books Lagom and Morning Rituals?
“First book is about Lagom and the Swedish art of balanced living now, Lagom isn’t in Sweden, a concept or an idea of a way of life that people strive to. It’s just a word that really happens to encapsulate the way people live and the culture of society they’re very well, and, and that goes from everything. Everything from the social democracy and the welfare state, huge middle class and sharing and looking after each other.
I mean, in reality, nowhere is perfect like that. But I think in Scandinavia and in Sweden in particular, that very much has been the case that it’s a fairly equal country in many ways. And but then, even if you look at design, you look at functionalism you look at the way people live their daily lives.Lagom word means not too little, not too much, but just enough, Click To Tweet
It’s about striking that balance and, and it can sound a bit boring, I suppose. But it’s also about I think it gives it a little bit of freedom from constantly going over the top.
So I guess there’s a mindset of looking into what you need, doing the research, finding the thing you need, and then that fish and it’s very much about functionalism. So the functional is her heritage in terms of designs as a lot I think about the cultural mindset of Scandinavia as well. And That we find the thing that does the job, rather than something that’s flashy, or that’s been to show off, that makes sense.
So that first book is about, it’s about lagom on what it says about Swedish culture, but also how,how people can maybe try and apply that to their own lives to find balance Click To Tweet
When I asked about the second book Morning Rituals, Linnea continued “ Gök utta means early morning. That is a very old tradition of rising early in the morning in the kind of village communities in northern Sweden primarily, and to get together and listen to the first bird song. So what this word and what it talks about is this notion of if you if you get ahead in the morning, if you rise early and you enjoy a little bit of that piece before the rush of the commute and all that stuff.
Then you can kind of you can go about your day, feeling perhaps a little bit more centered and grounded and calm. And, and and the book looks at the many ways in which people do that now I think there’s there’s be, there’s been a recent trend in people rising early and curating their morning’s more consciously.
So rather than getting up at the last minute rushing through breakfast, getting the kids out the door, whatever else, and getting up half an hour to an hour before that, and maybe doing yoga or taking some notes writing about gratitude, whatever it might be, to kind of have a little bit of luxury time for yourself when before the city wakes up.”
Comparing Irish and Swedish Culture
Linnea “I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently because I’ve been writing about some relevant subjects and I don’t know what it is. That makes me like the place so much because in some ways, it’s it’s surprising politically, it’s a place that I find quite frustrating and I’ve been very active, for example, recently in the abortion rights movement when we had referendum your last year to legalize abortion, and, there are a lot of different things in terms of politics that I that I strongly dislike in that I struggle with. But I think there is something about the culture and the way that people live together andthe kind of old style community Click To Tweet
that you don’t really see in Sweden anymore. That I think we’re losing more and more in the Western world is probably still more visible here.
When something happens in Ireland, when somebody, somebody dies, somebody gets really sick, the way that the communities and the families get together, and that’s not just immediate family, that’s your second cousin, and your aunt’s best friend. And people just kind of get together and carry each other in a way that I think is quite rare these days.
Another aspect of that is the pop culture, which has, you know, pros and cons, because drinking too much and everything that goes with that can, you know, it’s not always great. And certainly not great for society either in many ways, but, but the pub culture is very different here to anything you would ever seen in Scandinavia.
And the pub is like the sitting room and people come together, there’s not lots of loud music and, you know, you sit down and you talk and the company sessions are real.There’s something really, really lovely about that when you get together, you have a point and people just charge and you can be best mates with somebody in a very short space of time because people just open up.
So it’s a very genuine and warm culture that way and I love that and that’s quite different to Sweden, I find it takes much longer to be close friends with somebody in Sweden.”
Talking About the Women Rights in Scandinavian Versus Ireland
“I think it’s, it’s hard to look at the situation for women here without thinking about the greater context. Now, obviously, as you say, it’s miles behind in many ways, like because of the Catholic heritage, which is the strong and kind of you can see traces of it everywhere. And I mean, there were Magdalene laundries were so called Loose Women were locked up and factory doing slave labor for the church until 1996.
And there are new things being revealed all the time about what went on behind closed doors, in the name of religion. So there’s a lot of that, which is quite dark, very dark history. But at the same time, I think there’s quite a strong desire now amongst the younger generations to deal with us, not just not just move on in violence, but actually to actively deal with it, to deal with the trauma to talk about is to remember it, but also to build something new.There's kind of a strange, strange shift happening at the moment. Click To Tweet
I think it would be interesting to see where that lands but of course, in terms of like living here, parents, myself and my husband have found us and when it comes to organizing childcare, and the logistics of having two kids in school. And there is like the whole system is effectively built around the notion of all families having a parent who is at home full time.
Even if that’s not the norm anymore, it’s still much more common than it is than in many other parts of the world, I think. I think it’ll take a while for that to disappear. And I mean, still, the childcare system is not upgrade. It’s very expensive, and it’s not regulated in the way that I think it should be. Yeah, so there, there is a lot left to do.
But then I also think there are different ways of looking at us. And many of the feminists that I know would say that, yes, we want affordable childcare, absolutely. We also want a system where you should be able to afford to be at home with your children, if you want to have kids, and you want to be at home with them, whether that’s because you have to do extended breastfeeding, or because that’s the type of life you want to live.
And we shouldn’t devalue the work that mothers do in the home. And that’s another side to it.Where in Sweden, for example, which is miles ahead in terms of gender equality in so many ways, and I’m not paying that down. Like that’s really, really important. But it’s not easy in a world where we’re in a society where you pretty much need two salaries to live a life of the same standard. Ask your friends and the people in your neighbourhood to decide not to work, and be at home with your kids and lose the whole salary because that’s the that’s what happens.
Obviously, if everyone can go to work, which is great. And there’s quality childcare, they’re brilliant, then it doesn’t really give you the choice to stay at home. Oh, yeah. And then you have Well, what’s the solution? You can’t start to you can’t take away the childcare for the sake of being more fair for everyone to suffer.”
Talking About the School System in Ireland
Linnea explained that majority of the schools are run by the catholic church in Ireland. “ In Dublin, things are changing, changing fairly quickly and we have our kids in the school It’s run by educate together, which is an organization running a number of core educational, nondenominational schools.
So it’s all about the values of equality and accessibility and equality in terms of everything from class, to gender, to religion, culture, everything. Of course, we’re very lucky to have had to go places for our kids. And that’s good. And these schools are massively oversubscribed, and there’s still a shortage of them everywhere throughout the country. So it’s changing.
But the problem is that technically, you have a right to if you sign your kid up for a school that you think seems nice, but it’s not your religion, whether that’s Church of origins, the Protestant church or whether it’s the Catholic Church, you have a right to say that your child should not attend religion class, which is not religion class about different religions. force, religious practice.
So when they go into their communion and confirmation and all that, and but what that means in reality is that your child might be the odd one out, your child is left to sit reading for an hour, you know, there’s there is not really a system set up for these schools to actually cater to students who aren’t religious.
There are all kinds of implications like if you go to a Catholic school, obviously, those values are there not just in a, in a strict practicing religious sense, but the values of that throughout the education as well. But this is changing its I mean, it’s, it’s slow. Another issue is that so much of the land and the properties and everything in Ireland, it’s all still owned by the church. So even when, when you get a new school, they’ll struggle to find the right place or to find the land or a building for that school, because it’s all owned by the church.”
Your Swedish Roots
Asking Linnea if she identifies herself as a Swede still or something else, “ I very much identify as Swedish and but it’s definitely something that it’s been a bit of a journey for me, I think. Like many other Swedes when you first move abroad, and like when I moved over here, I After a few years, I had a few Swedish friends. But Originally, I didn’t hang out with any Swedish people at all. I was saying, yeah, it seems to be like that.
That’s the way with so many people. And even when we moved to London A few years later, and I was there for 10 years, it was only when I became a mother, that I sought out here the Swedes. And that’s, I think that’s so common. It’s when you realize that you have this other little person, and you’re going to raise them and you start to think about what it was like for you. And you want to give them what you had.
You kind of reflect on who you are, where you come from your culture, all that stuff. It suddenly becomes so much more important. And I speak Swedish to my kids. And so in terms of reading Swedish books, all that stuff, and I think it probably reinforces my Swedish identity as well. Also I think when you raise kids in a culture that you’re not old, and you become it’s almost highlighted how much of an outsider you are, in a way.
Like when I previously when I was living in Ireland, before we had kids or even when we were in England before we have kids, and everyone assumed I was Irish, because of my accent. And then now because I speak Swedish again everyday to my kids, my accent is starting to show a little bit more than maybe she’s from somewhere else.
Where are you from? What’s that accent? So number one, it’s kind of, I’m giving it away, but also in how I am with my kids and you know, parents in cultures and the way that half now my son’s school is very multicultural. So there are kids with parents from all over the world. But in many other contexts, it will become evidence that I don’t know these cultures and these traditions that they’re talking about, you know, half the time you’ll get something from this Google about something we’re meant to do.
I’m just looking at, what is this? I don’t I’ve never heard of this. What are we meant to do? Because it’s not the goal. I come from. And then I suppose I feel even more Swedish because I’m not that. So what am I? Well, I’m Swedish. And this is, this is what I’m used. And this is what I want to get my kids.”
How Do You Keep Your Swedish Culture Alive?
Linnea agrees that she has wonderful parents who travel over to Ireland very often so her kids have a great relationship with their Swedish granparents. “ They’re great. Like we see them a lot considering we don’t live in the same country. And they really have to give the kids that we just go through because they’re so involved in sending them stuff and you know, which is lovely, and was my husband always says that we live in a very Swedish House.
I don’t think that’s true. I think it’s a wild crazy mix of everything. But there’s certainly a lot of Swedish culture here in how we I don’t know how how we eat what the house looks like. And the way I am obviously,I think you pass on your code culture through the way you talk the way you are the way you think Click To Tweet
about clothes and activities and everything. So in many ways, I think it’s the subtle things first, I’m a huge fan of fear. That’s me.”
Linnea continues explaining what “Friday Cozy” means. “In Sweden, after work every Friday. Most families or gangs of friends, whatever would get together and have Friday cozy. Is what it means literally, which is when you just hang out together on the Friday night you kind of you don’t really make an effort because it’s all about not making an effort and it being simple but it’s still the effort to not make an effort so like a shared commitment to just having this relaxed evening and you can have Swedish tackles maybe which is nothing like the authentic Mexican tacos.”
What Would Linnea Change About Irish Culture for Her Children?
Politically Ireland hs been very conservative in terms of values and liberal in terms of financial policy for a very long time. And there are a lot of people who earn a lot of money, one way or another, some ways more legitimate than others and who’ve been doing so for a long time. And a lot of people who are struggling.
I thought about what you said earlier about how your friends in London were Irish would kind of chip in and make sure that people could cover rend and stuff. It’s interesting that the Irish are known the people who give the most charity. And I think that’s what it is plugging a gap.
It’s the fact that there is no system. When people fall through the cracks, there is nothing there to help them a lot of people can’t afford private health insurance or if they can, it’s the kind of policy that doesn’t really cover anything. And the public health system doesn’t look after them. I think this kind of breeds a certain sort of mentality in people. And whatI want for my kids is to grow up to feel that giving to others and thinking about others, Click To Tweet
is valuable in and of itself and is a very important aspect of humanity and being human on this earth but also.
That there is a community around them that we carry them as well as the fact that it goes both ways. As part of the campaign to reveal the Eighth Amendment last year, and we had that community was very much a political family of people who were working really, really hard together, but also helping each other out and supporting each other people who will do anything for us.
Obviously, when you’re part of something like that your kids get to see that and I’m hoping that with the different campaigns that are going on, and the movements that are going at the moment because it feels as though there are so many things that are going on in the world at the moment there are so crazy like climate change being the very obvious one.
Like if we’re going to change things, then who knows what the world is going to look like in 10 years? If we’re still here? I think capitalism is going to crumble. And that will change everything.”
What About Sustainability in Ireland?
Great Thunberg being mobilizing masses to protest about plastic waste, green house omissions and climate change was is happening in Ireland. “ That mobilization that you’re talking about is happening here as well, because of, thankfully, you know, everyone can see what’s happening around the world.
And there are a lot of young people who are very active in with extinction, rebellion and various different eco movements. But the problem is that there is no shift in terms of the system and there is very little investment from the go. There is no political will to change or infrastructure. Houses are old, not well insulated, pipes are bursting as they are from the 1900’s.
People drive more here than in Scandinavia, there is no cycling paths and the infrastructure does not support the change.”
Are You Having a Swedish Christmas?
Linnea laughs as she needs to blend in the Christmas Eve Santa coming and bringing presents and then the Christmas Day he comes again brining presents. Her kids are asking questions but she hope she is going to get away with it again this year. She loves Dublin on Christmas and says it is the best place to be.
Connect with Linnea
Linnea Webiste http://www.linneadunne.com/
Purchase Good Morning Rituals book : https://www.amazon.co.uk/Good-Mornings-Morning-Rituals-Wellness/dp/1856754014
Purchase Lagom Book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lagom-Swedish-Art-Balanced-Living/dp/1856753743
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