My mom, Janet Louise Cofield, passed away in March of 2014 from a long private illness. She had a strong passion for her Finnish ancestry and more SISU than anyone I know. Her grandparents immigrated to the U.S. in 1900's and her childhood was filled with stories of little red Finnish houses surrounding a lake. In 2005, we traveled to Finland in search of our ancestral roots and to connect with a family we didn't even know we had. SISU is in the Heart was born in talking with her about the experience in the months and years that followed. This project includes everything that my mom loved-- family, theatrical performance and strengthening communities. This project is dedicated to her life and spirit.
Over the next year, I am researching my family ancestry and collecting stories from Finnish-American families all over the country and relatives in Finland to incorporate in an original play. At the end of each event I will ask one simple question-- What gives you SISU? For me the answer is simple—it’s my mom. Participants will be asked to write their answer to the question on the back of a tiny red wooden house. There are 64 of these, one for each year of my mom's life.
If you’d like to contribute to the project, but can't attend a story circle, please take a moment to share your story, and think what gives you the courage and strength to take on the challenges you face each day.
RED HOUSE PROJECT GALLERY
SISU is a Finnish word that’s not easy to translate into English. The best definitions include bravery, strength, resilience, taking action against the odds, having, guts, or displaying courage and resolve in the face of adversity.