Almost four months ago I did my first tattoo. A day before my birthday. I’m really proud of it. It makes me smile every time I look at it.

It is beautiful. It is empowering. It is me.

“What is Sisu?”

“Sisu is a key word of the Finnish language. It’s really difficult to translate: stamina, balls, putting-up with something, toughness, gritting your teeth…something along those lines, maybe.

Sisu is magical, it’s a force that takes over and empowers its carrier with the ability to perform beyond human capabilities.

It’s a non-aggressive, rather passive, introvert thing: Finns don’t usually invade other countries, but they are the fiercest imaginable defenders.


Sisu means doing things until they’re done, not because they’re important, but because they need to get bloody well done and because you just don’t bloody leave anything unfinished. It’s not about what others might say if you don’t do things properly; it’s about what you think yourself.

Sisu is about being tough, not flexible. It means to never give up, to find more energy as the situation turns more desperate, to become stronger as the odds gets worse. It’s much like a turbo charger that kicks in when the going gets tough.”

From the book “From Finland with Love” by Roman Schatz

“Why on my right wrist?”

On my first trip to Finland one of my Finnish friends taught me how to do cross country skiing. I lost the count of how many times I fell down in the snow. I injured my right wrist in one those falls. However, I was eager to learn. I continued to try and fell down. After every fall I was standing up with more energy than before. My friend look at me and said “You have sisu.” I smiled back. It was a great compliment.

When I need to find my inner strength I just have to look down to my right wrist. It’s that easy.

Photo taken by Cláudia Mendes in Martim Moniz, Lisbon, Portugal, December 2012.
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6 Responses to Sisu.

  1. ritins87 says:

    que awesome 🙂 duas coisas que adoro, palavras sem tradução e tatuagens! também tenho muito orgulho nas minhas.

  2. Hello there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my myspace group?
    There’s a lot of folks that I think would really enjoy your content. Please let me know. Thanks

  3. Hi
    se more about SISU at my page – it has a long history

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