Friday 31 December 2010

Happy New Year 2011

... just organised.

Well, it's established now that we still know how to throw a party and my theory about age, lifestyle and timing issues has been put to the test last night.

All the conditions were right, at least for my side: It's the holidays so I am well rested, it was a planned party so I was prepared. Night owl and sleep organised hubby was rested anyway, only our young movie crazed friend didn't have time off work and since she is still maintaining her student lifestyle the good girl had a few dips in her stamina.

Raclette - Letting people cook their own food!
The party started at 7PM and we had planned for a few experiments so it was expected to go on for a while, what I didn't expect was clock showing 5:40 in the morning when I went to bed. I was a very awake happy bunny which could have gone on and on. At one point I was asked by hubby to shut up and let the poor people leave as said dear friend showed severe black rings under her eyes. Whoops!

So preparation does work, and to have a partner in crime makes things more fun. After so many years together hubby and I have developed our roles so intuitively that even the cleaning up is almost done already. And our experiments worked. We made a Feuerzangenbowle. It is a rum drenched, mulled wine flambé which inspired the only German Cult movie that ever existed. It almost has the status of Rocky Horror Picture Show, and hence needed urgent following-up on. Some ten years ago hubby insisted he didn't like mulled wine and hence the device to prepare this spectacle of a drink was left back in Germany, silly us! Who would have thought that taste changes and one would need it again.

 A profane cooking pot with steam inset had to do, the sugar cone was replaced by a pile of sugar cubes, with a bit of luck a 57% rum was secured from an off licence shop - less would not burn -  and topped up by a leftover of 80% Stroh rum which has a wonderful aroma, and the faint recollection of the ancient recipe consisting of oranges, lemon, cinnamon, clove and cardamom was bang on. And so  we held a match to it and it worked! That smell, the blue flames, the burning ladle for adding more rum to keep the sugar burning and caramelising... bliss. Next year we definitely will have the proper gear!

Happy New Year 2010 to all of you!

Wednesday 29 December 2010


I don't know how the English call these days located at the no-man's-land of time, in German they are named 'between years', and I think it describes it perfectly fine. Christmas is still old year, but those few days leading up to New Years Eve don't count for anything really. And that is the reason why I don't particularly like the winter break. It feels like insomnia. One has a wonderful long night of sleep ahead, and one knows that if one could sleep, one would wake up a very happy bunny, but then there are those restless periods, and the thought: If I sleep now I have still 6 hours, that's still good, isn't it? Well, now it's only 5 hours ... I really have to sleep now...

The Christmas holidays are the same. 10 Days! Bliss! I could get heaps of stuff done, especially that we are skipping Christmas - and then it sort of never happens.

Since the dawn of time I have this weird idea of hedgehogging. Hedgehogging is not just hibernation, it is hibernation with curling into a ball and raising all the defenses. I dearly love my family and friends, but I have this dream of not seeing and hearing anything of anybody, with the computer being my only channel to the outside world. Computer is non-intrusive, it doesn't ring and I don't have to respond instantly, hence I am allowed to slow down my brain. To open an email is like opening a parcel to me. I choose the time, I have my cuppa ready, I zoom into the right frame of mind for that person and then I enjoy. Telephone calls: they never come at a convenient time. The rule in the olden days: Don't call before 9AM (breakfast), between 12 and 1PM (lunch) and after 8PM (news at the telly) don't apply for me. I have an irregular lifestyle, I love it when I get an SMS with an appointment request for a phone call which I then may or may not respond to. 

Oh well, I could just not take the call, but then hubby will, passing the phone on while barging into a precious thought which I just tried to note down and which now is fleeing. Another thing are short notice party invitations. Since everybody has time to kill between years all those 'let's get together for a nibble' parties are cropping up. Very dearly meant, but not for the woman whose only thought is hibernation.

I know: Christmas is not a good time to wish for such a thing with everybody trying hard to achieve exactly the opposite, but it is the only time of the year when I can get 10 days off with just three days of annual leave. So I keep trying without being truly successful, yet.

It all starts at Christmas Eve: Shops are closed Christmas day, so let's buy a few things on Christmas eve and tidy the house at least a bit. One day down!

Christmas day... a gazillion telephone calls, writing Christmas emails, fighting of dinner invitations, friend coming over for afternoon tea and some facebook and telly. A good day actually, a lot of human interaction out of the way, that looks promising for the rest of the time. 

Boxing day, self chosen trip to town. Hubby wants to buy his Christmas present and a bit of fresh air doesn't hurt. Three days down. 

27th dinner invitation to a restaurant.

28th eventually a day on my own. Hubby is still chasing his Christmas gift and a few other gadgets, and hence went out... Then, several SMS, emails and phone calls asking for advice, mum calling... crisis, hence fair enough... I lost track of my article and thanks to blogger's auto-save (how I love blogger) at least it was not lost. Altogether not the calm day I had hoped for, but at least sorted the charity money and some wardrobes...
29th, today: Running late but at least got an idea for a good rant. The rest of the day is for planning a dinner party of my own, it's a tradition that we have it on the 30th and it is planned in... if only the other days would be entirely mine...

30th, I will like it as I like cooking, laying tables and so on. So, no hibernation but a day played by my rules.

31st, tidying house. 7 days down!

That leaves me with a prospect of three days to get everything done that I wanted to do. Like cleaning the fish tank and the aviary, preparing my book for publishing, planning for a photo shoot for illustrations, doing a few illustrations already, cut music for my posing routine, probably start practising a bit, shooting a 'Jeans Tutorial' for ILP. Well, that's possible in 10 days but not in three, and now I am getting into this insomnia-like state of: If I would do that now, then I would at least, but then I haven't..., should I rather..., no probably not a good idea,... sh... getting a headache now...

Well, it at least it only cost me three days of leave! Let's look forward to a break around Easter... Argh...

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Everything Out!

... that doesn't pay rent.

During the latest Christmas dinner a friend, infamously known for his provocative questions, asked me: 'How do you fight?' Hubby, sitting next to me spontaneously answered 'Yes' while I, as spontaneously, answered 'We don't!'.

Given the slight grammatical slip in the response, I have to add that hubby never was able to filter important information out of the noise as it occurs when many people chatter like geese. Nevertheless, I was a bit concerned about the state of our marriage given the discrepancy of response to such an important question. So very gently, as if reminding a family member with a degenerative brain disease, I said: But darling, we never fight...?!

He looked at me like waking up and as spontaneously as before he said: 'Oh, thought he said "fart". We do that!' Heavily nodding his head.

Again, I was a bit concerned about the state of our marriage, but at least the conversation had moved on to a different subject which however turned out to be as interesting for said friend as the previous one. So now we are entering a somewhat dangerous terrain of  perception, reality, and possible embarrassment. The friend claims that for a long time he truly believed that women were not capable of farting.... how sweet, he thought we were like angels! But believe you me, we are very airy creatures of a different kind. We are just a bit more subtle then the usual male, and we usually have better fine motor skills - let's not get side tracked by the question why that might be - and move on to revealing my very personal view on the matter.

Yes, I admit it: I used to be sneaky. One still has to choose locations carefully, though. Crowds are better than small numbers of people, especially when one can move about a bit. In the gym one either needs to be alone on a machine and looking very grim when working out so nobody dares approaching, or one should position oneself close to a group of big blokes, nobody will ever suspect the lady. But the ultimate fart location is the elevator, don't need to explain that, do I?

Noise control however is a must and I had gained mastership. My mum never managed to keep silent and used to jump up and run out of the room ever so often. So the incentive was high to get the hang of it. Imagine my surprise when I operated my finest moves in public and all of a sudden ... Pheeet! Whoops! How? What? Why? I felt like our dog at home who left a fart while sleeping and jumped out of his bed like bitten by a tarantula, eyes wide open of fear of the strange invisible thing in his bed that makes noises. This public incident was the end of my sneaky career. I don't know what happened, but there was no going back.

This new situation needed an entirely new approach. Whereas I used to hate loud music in the gym I now am rather appreciative, and the favourite fart spot has become close to a loud speaker, preferably with big blokes around. And negotiations with the husband became necessary. Previously we were rather considerate to each other,  but there is nothing worse than stomach cramps from those bloody healthy veggie meals. Options are to interrupt the movie, leave the comfy arm chair and blanket behind to visit the only room truly appropriate for the task, or to just let go. You now know the outcome of those negotiations, which brings me back to the state of my marriage: Bloody brilliant, actually! And No! We really do not fight!

Thursday 16 December 2010

Is it Murphy?

Oh my goodness, Murphy's law even has its own website. For about half a year now I have my own version of it:

Since I decided to do the Bodybuilding competition I had more restaurant invitations and food temptations than in the past 5 years together. 

It is truly incredible. We used to very rarely go out for meals - couch potato would be the appropriate term. Once I decided to do something that would give me the figure of a young woman - how wonderful! - and that would need all the determination possible in regard to food control - how frightening! - we all of a sudden started to travel and to develop a social life, including all the associated restaurant visits and food challenges.

Now, that half of the time until due date has passed and only 29 weeks are left over to reach my goal, I find myself in the worst week of all. Two Christmas lunches, a night out with friends, and a Christmas cake party all in one week.

So the thought jumped my mind that I might as well get something good out of it and to promote my blogs. After all I am meeting a lot of people on those occasions,  and now that I got my new business cards... and then I forgot to take them with me. Hmmm! So I at least tried to show off vocally and bragged exhaustively about my 12 blogs when one guy asked... Why are you running "12!" blogs, and before I even could think about it another one said: To avoid the unlucky 13!

Ha, see! Murphy won't get me in this one!

Wednesday 15 December 2010

Advantages of X-mas lunch

... over X-mas dinner, or 'When is a gathering a meeting?'

See, at work we have these Christmas outings with our teams and until last year I was having dinners. Dinner sounds important and sophisticated, lunch is merely a quick bite, or so I thought. There are three advantages of lunches which jump to mind instantly. Firstly, the organisers of a lunch will avoid the discussion of whether or not spouses are invited, secondly, one doesn't have to see for a babysitter and thirdly, one actually gets the benefit of a half day off if the meal is booked for the end of the lunch serving period, stretched nicely with coffee and chat, to then be moved seamlessly into the pub.

The new team with which I went yesterday have researched the matter for a few years now and have developed it's execution to perfection. The location was Salthouse Harbour Hotel in Ipswich, where the atmosphere is beautiful, the food is delicious and the wifi for free. No, I of course didn't use it during dinner, but they have this lovely coffee place with plain view of the waterfront where I like to take my coffee breaks from the heavy work of shopping and which was the place where I did my first flight into the internet cloud. This is the perfect place to wait for the rest of the party to arrive.

Feeling nicely fed after a pleasant lunch I was prepared to go home and to work a bit more... and then we turned right... the car park is left... and then we walked a little bit... and then we turned right again, up the stairs and found ourselves in front of the bar of Isaacs. Did I say half a day off? What followed was about six hours of hard work! I learned about weird feet and hands of my colleagues, which bones were once broken, revealed that for the bodybuilding competition I will have to wear a tiny bikini, and we of course briefed each other some work related stuff. Great thing about Isaacs is that it has secluded corners. Eventually we had an entire room for ourselves which was actually big enough to fit us all in. Tomorrow we will be back to the boss's little office, cold and without drinks served and we will discuss the same all over again - the work stuff, not the feet, only then it will be called a meeting.

Unusually enough I arrived back home later then hubby who was at the movies, and hence I will cut it short now, I have a few chores to attend to which were scheduled for yesterday afternoon, and then work is calling...

Friday 10 December 2010

A gap in the flow

I need a butler, or one of those boxes which didn't make it as an invention at the 'Lion's Den'. It's a box which is to be positioned in front of the house so that the postman can get to it, which is big enough to receive rather big parcels, and which has a lock that only the postman and oneself can open. Come to think of it: Neither the floor lamps nor the protein powder would fit into any box... it would have to be the butler.

Oh.... it's horrible! I love Internet shopping and as soon as I press the button I am starting to get nervous. Tracking the order, remembering which company is using which delivery service, estimating when they might be coming round to our house. Some are bothering my neighbour who is so kind to substitute for a butler, some just shove it through the cat flap, while others are very strict and only leave parcels in a specified place on demand.

What am I going to do? Most of the depots are at the other end of town, it would have been nicer to go TO town for shopping, meeting girl friend for a coffee and having a good time meanwhile. Trouble is that most of the stuff is not available in town, and rather heavy to carry.

There is a new business idea! We need local networks of homeworkers. People who are chained to their houses for a good reason and who have a big garage... a big empty garage - that could be the crux of the project, I don't know anybody with an empty garage... oh well, they could make a bit of extra money from taking on the parcels of us buzzing around types, and even could charge a bit extra for out of hour retrieval of the goodies. I would be happy to pay for it, it's still cheaper than a butler.

Thursday 2 December 2010

Not a Cosmopolitan Gal

The other day I had one of my afternoons off. Not just off work, but off everything. For me that means an afternoon out in town, not talking to anyone, magazine, coffee place, and since a few weeks, my little netbook as well. The woman never knows when inspiration might strike and an article wants to get out; and since I have gained a new freedom in that respect, my handbag got bigger to accommodate this technical little gadget.

On arrival at the coffee place however genius hadn't struck yet so a decision was made in favour of the purchase of a magazine. Easier said than done: I would love to carry the label 'Cosmopolitan Girl' - it sounds so posh, I like the drink... but the magazine is rather, well... I think it's crap. Everything is about relationship advice and silly multiple choice tests. I rather like InStyle magazine which has a focus on fashion. This is more my kind of research, but... was sold out. So in the end it was a Vogue, which is sort of 'one level up'. Everything in there is a bit more on the pricey end and the fashion is nice to look at but often not very wearable. Well, for an afternoon out, it should be just fine.

And now, please! Can anybody please tell me why women with a gap between their teeth are supposedly pretty? There seems to be a new supermodel on the loose, who looks like a pouting rabbit in a wig. Since I saw her on the front cover of the Vogue - and woohoo, that is something - I realise that she is everywhere now. Please guys, tell me that this is not what turns you on!

And others seem to follow. When I eventually got hold of my InStyle magazine I found gaps in the middle, gaps at the side, massive canines, and the overly full pout seems to be in fashion anyway. The girls look a bit like having fallen into a silicone syringe while parents could have saved themselves a lot of money for braces and given the child the opportunity to become a millionaires... although, if curviness runns in your family you might as well have her teeth fixed.

"Bed hair, a gorgeous gap-toothed smile and lots of red lipstick..."

Tuesday 23 November 2010


Festive Season - emotional times! So many expectations, hopes, and anticipation:

'It'll be the same as always, the grandmas will start fighting about who has the best recipe and spoil the Christmas dinner: I'm dreading it!'

'Hopefully this year dad and son will come to a ceasefire.'

'It'll be brilliant, the whole family is meeting for the first time in 3 years, everybody is coming.'

And then on the day, all the hell of emotions breaks loose. One has to keep the kids at bay, the family in peace, and the turkey from burning. With several generations in one house old anxieties break open all too quickly; mums are turned back into girls, and dads have to take on the role of boys again, while maintaining face towards their own children.

There is one emotion in particular that I believe is keeping us from growing up. It is preventing us from letting loose of things we can't change anyway, and achieving things we only dare dreaming of in a silent minute when nobody is around:


It is used in emotional blackmail, keeping us from doing the right things just because there are others who might point a finger if we fail. Embarrassment does not allow for fun, and it goes so far that we even bother whether or not strangers find our behaviour or flaws inappropriate. I have tried to get to the bottom of it and came up with other columns like 'What's the Worst to Happen?' and 'How Embarrassing!'. Still: What is this fear of being unpleasant to others? I might not have succeeded entirely, but I gained at least some insight: It seems that there are two levels of embarrassment.

Firstly, the one easier to deal with: Embarrassment on behalf of oneself. It is sort of a one-to-one relationship with the audience. It is the feeling one gets when having made a mistake or a fool out of oneself - the stinging feeling of somebody laughing about me, or the thought that somebody might consider me a silly cow.

This one can be negated by laughing. Start laughing before everybody else does. At the beginning it still hurts a bit, but it becomes a bit like stand-up comedy. The better one gets the more people will laugh about the joke, and not about the person anymore. Laughing frees the spirit, and one might dare doing new things, even anticipating failure and already preparing for the joke to have it ready and in place if needed.

Well, and then there is the second level. The one that isn't so easy to tackle, because it involves people one either loves or is dependant on. All of a sudden the relationship is a triangle. I'm talking about the 'Behave! You are embarrassing me!' situations. And sometimes the signs are even more subtle. We get to know the likes and the dislikes of the people around us very well, and in order to keep them happy and pleased we all to often tend to take pre-emptive action by NOT taking action. Not singing, not discussing certain issues, not asking a question, not putting our noses out there. Because all this makes us visible, and once we are visible our mistakes are as well.

As soon as there is a third party involved, nothing is easy anymore. Being told that I'm a silly cow - I can live with that! Listening in, while somebody close to me is told that I'm a silly cow and realising that this makes him/her look bad - That is hard to deal with!

Oneself is out of control, everything now depends on the other person. Situations like those display the quality of a relationship on a silver tray. The reaction - embarrassment, defence, acceptance, laughing it away, ignoring - will determine how much one will be able to rely on this person in the future. It is nipping into the essentials of social relationship: Trust!

So let us laugh a bit more then! Let us enjoy the company of others and take them as they are, it might come back to us the same way. If we all would laugh a bit more, the grandmas might even stop fighting, mums would be mums and dads would be dads, ceasefires might be possible and it might really be great if we would all come together - the only one losing out would be the turkey, though.

Thursday 11 November 2010

Live and Let Live

Or: What we can learn from cats!

When our last cat died, a little old black cat from the neighbourhood smelled the vacancy and moved in. On getting in contact with the previous owner it turned out that he was around 10 years old and with her all his life. A slash in the ear and a missing thumb were strong indicators that he knew how to stand his ground, but now that he was getting older he didn’t like the lifestyle change his lady had taken upon her. So when he stumbled over our compost pile with mice, the conservatory with the aviary, and a door with a cat flap, he quickly made up his mind. We called him Vinny.

To his dismay a short time later a stray moved in. At first we thought our Vinny was a mad eater until we saw the white hair that was clinging to the armchair. And then we saw him; a big black and white tomcat. We called him Moritz.

He was a bit pushy, but Vinny didn’t seem to mind too much… plenty of space, plenty of resources to share and every opportunity to stay out of ones way. Or so he thought!

Once Moritz had established that he owned us things got worse. He wanted it all! There must have been a huge fight between the two. Although no visible injuries, Vinny all of a sudden fell into a depression, only ate very little, slept all day, didn’t want to go out anymore and was very grumpy; only wanting to be touched occasionally, but not indicating when this occasion might be. I still have several scars from his attacks.

Cats are not as un-social as one might think. They are even known to live in big cat communities and they have an elaborate system of codes which even work between different species. But Vinny didn’t make any contact for a long time.

So I took drastic action. The house got divided: Upstairs lives Vinny, with night time access to the garden via window, while Moritz lives downstairs with day time access to the garden via cat flap. After giving Vinny a lot of attention and care he recovered and is a lovely cuddle today, although he is still horrified to see Moritz. He usually leaves the house by the front door, strolls around a bit and comes back via his window, with a weird noise that sounds like a dove. Just to tell that he is around again.

The moral of the story?

Vinny had a bad experience and is happy to be back. He enjoys his little territory and when I show him his former kingdom he gets nervous and wants to get back to his castle. So he came out of this mess a little happy cat.

Moritz could have had it all; he could have had a whole house except one tiny spot of the size of a towel where a black little cat would sleep almost all the day. And he could have had it for free, but he didn’t even try. To feel safe he needed the whole territory, and the only way he knew to get it was to fight. Now he only has half a house and the nagging feeling that he missed out on something (he tries to sneak upstairs whenever possible).

I observe the same in people. There are the ones who easily share and often get in return more than they had before. And there are the ones who defend every single bit they have; and for a while they might get away with it; until they meet their master.

It’s the way resources are fought for in companies, the environment is exploited and actually – why wars break loose.

I sometimes ask myself how one can fight the territorial bullies without becoming one. Now I learned that there is hope!

We recently got a third player into the game. He is a funny little character. I just can’t find another word for his behaviour than: Persistent ignorance. A fluffy, white and black, placid chap with a collar and a bell. We call him Bimmel (it’s the German word for Jingle). He has only one interest: Food!

He is doing everything for food, especially the brand of dry food we have; even bracing himself and opposing Moritz. At first he ran whenever he saw him, but coming back quickly to see if there were food left. Now he is not even running far anymore. As Moritz refuses dry food he only guards it without eating, and is wondering why this guy is lurking around in safe distance only hissing from time to time, but otherwise being rather bored.

Vinny knows Bimmel as he is breaking in through Vinnie’s window at night, and these two are getting along very well. And out of this constellation I observed something interesting:

Late evening, Vinny sitting on top of the stairs to be let out. Unfortunately Moritz had decided for a stroll and was in front of the door. Usually Vinny would back off instantly and hide under the bed, but this time he heard Bimmel jingling along and somehow confused the two.

Moritz, totally confused whether to charge upstairs to get Vinny, well knowing that this would mean being told off by me, and having Bimmel standing in his back, not knowing whether or not if this one would give him a beating once he moved.

Bimmel came closer and closer as he had seen me, and I’m basically the same thing as food to him. However, I couldn’t move as I was trapped between the other two. One could tell that Moritz became shorter and shorter to cover his rear. When I opened the living room door for him to get onto his home turf, he very, very slowly edged himself in, visibly relieved that Bimmel didn’t attack.

It must have been the first time in his life that he shared a space with two other cats – and nothing bad had happened. I fed him first and cuddled and praised him, and one could hear the rock falling from his heart.

Vinny: He watched stunned! The first time he saw Moritz backing off, and he definitely found that very interesting.

And Bimmel? Sweet little Bimmel! In his innocent greedy fearlessness he showed the bully where the limits are. And he showed Vinny that there are methods to keep bullies at bay without becoming one. He eventually got his well deserved food - if just this silly jingle wouldn’t wake me every night!

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Diaries and Deadlines

I am sitting here not knowing what to write, feeling generally rather tired and it all falls into the same great picture: 'I am rubbish at travelling', or 'I am rubbish at everything with a deadline' for that matter.

Since new Incredible Ladies Project with its new freedom of publishing whenever I want, I thought: 'Put yourself to the test girl, you have a Diary blog now, so do diary'. For somebody who usually can't shut up it shouldn't be too difficult to write a little snippet every day, and now I am in this weird time warp that is 'the days before a deadline' and I am becoming a wee bit brain dead, unfocused and hyper at the same time. Travel deadlines are the worst. There are so many things that need doing on top of the usual chores and for some reason the closer I get to closing the door behind me the more they multiply.

I may blame it on my grandma. She planted this thing into my head that everything has to be pristine before one leaves the house - in order to be prepared for worst case scenario. This is embarrassing, but I actually do have this recollection of being told: 'Fresh socks and briefs before you leave the house. Imagine you get into an accident and your socks stink and your briefs are dirty'. It jumps into my head like a ghost every time I go on a trip.

I'd really love to come face to face with the person who thought that this would be a great educational story. No no, dear! You only have to change briefs when you leave the house, in case you get run over by a car!

A similar story goes with that the kitchen has to be tidy and the beds needs to be done to army standards. In case of a house fire! Duh? First thing the fireman probably would see is the bread crumbs on the table and thinking: Look at those messy people, the things I see in my job, have to tell wifey, so she can teach the kids to do it right.

I however seem to have lifted this to a completely new level. I feel this weird urge of having to tidy cupboards, do the garden, polish the shoes - and not just the ones I am going to take, ... And at the same time my body seems to rebel by developing runny noses, funny aches, huge hungers and a general urge for sleep. I know that all this will go away the moment I close the door behind me. So why on earth can't I get over myself and not do all those things as if there is no 'after' the deadline?

Well, it IS nice to come back into a tidy house after a trip, the more that there are suitcases spilling out their nasty contents messing everything up. And probably I just like to moan a bit... and it gives me something to write about, it now is even enough to become a column. That's it: Enough!

Thursday 4 November 2010

My Bucket List

I never saw the movie. I didn't know that there was a movie when somebody on Twitter mentioned a bucket list. There must have been something about that one Tweet drifting in the big stream of posts on my screen. Twitter posts live and die with the rules of evolution - the dull birds don't get chosen as mates and hence won't propagate, as won't dull posts. I however still don't understand the appeal of the word bucket list. Since I didn't even know the term I eventually looked it up only to find that it is the title of a film in which a terminally ill patient creates a list of things he is supposed to do before he kicks the bucket.

Now I am wondering why, after quite a number of weeks, I cannot get this idea out of my head. It is an age old concept, so old that nobody even seems to know where it comes from. Ever heard of the saying 'A man should build a house, plant a tree, father a son and write a book before he dies'? Well, that's the oldest bucket list I know of. The English speaking part of the world makes it as old as Plato, who lived around 400 BC, whereas in the German Google world the word is put into the mouth of Martin Luther, a chap who reformed the church in Germany around the 1500s. The lazy buggers left out the book writing, though. I wonder why?

Although this is an imposed list for most of us, and apart from the fact that it is a rather ridiculous one, for the inventor of the list it surely was something very real and to strive for. So why is this idea starting to bug me now, and not 4o years ago during Sunday school when I might have come across this concept for the first time?

Maybe the older one gets, the more confident one gets as well, and actually dares doing stuff, or one knows more about the world and thus is getting more ideas of what the options are. So, without further ado, here is my list:
  • I want to give a proper speech to a big audience
  • I want to be on a stage
  • I would like to be able to dance well
  • I would like to be able to sing without being embarrassed
  • I want to have my own fashion line
  • I DO want to publish a book (the writing part is already done)
  • I would like to win a prize or an award for something I have worked for
  • I would like to have an exhibition with my own paintings and sculptures
  • I want to own my own business and
  • I want to be successful with it
Those things one should write down at the beginning of life, when one still has the time to actually make it. These days one already has to rush it a bit and might have to consider the one or the other shortcut.

Like with my last list item: I always wanted to
  • walk in the footsteps of the great Jane Goodall and do field studies with primates.
Well, one would want to have considered taking up a somewhat different education, wouldn't one? Computer Science is not exactly the right line of business, just a thought...

As a replacement I have now booked a holiday trip to Sumatra to encounter the jungle on a four day track with elephants, to learn a bit about what rangers do to survey the national parks, and maybe see Orangutans in the wild. Not entirely the same, but hopefully close enough. On one hand I am hoping for the most spectacular experience of my life, on the other I am hoping to find some flaws like insects, climate, food, lifestyle, anything that would help me to excuse my straying from the original list item. If I could truly say 'This was a fantastic experience, but I am glad that I didn't make it my 'life', then I could cross it off my list and be happy. But what if...

Maybe this list is not just about doing all those things before it is too late; maybe it is OK to do the shortcut versions just to find out whether or not I took the right choices in my life, maybe this list doesn't just have a checkbox but two columns for 'good choice', or' bad choice'.

And maybe it doesn't matter what the outcome is: All that matters is to know, and to make peace with it before it is too late!

Monday 25 October 2010

How many gadgets does a girl need?

In the olden days a woman needed a Kind (German for 'child'), these days a woman needs a Kindle (Amazon for 'eBook reader'). Those are very practical little devices which can live for a month without being charged, an utterly useful feature for a device when being owned by a scatterbrain, and apparently they can store more books than I ever would be able to read during the rest of my lifetime. This enables considerable reduction of handbag size and is very much appreciated. The turbo version which comes with its own reading light and some electronic wizardry allowing internet access in the remotest of regions - have to see it before I believe it - only weighs a bit over 500 grams, so it significantly reduces the amount of back pain from carrying several books on a long haul flight.

However, Kindles only work black and white, while the modern woman might want to have the colour experience of the all mighty internet and taking full advantage of a gazillion applications on her iPhone when attending to the sapid cappuccino at her favourite coffee place... or even when at home. I now once in a while am catching myself checking dates and emails on this pocket device while curling my hair rather than switching on the computer. But then...

See, there are those occasions for which the iPhone screen is just not big enough. One eventually is meeting the darling girl friend for a nice chat in town to plan the shopping trip ahead and for that, of course one needs online catalogs and maps. Aw... if I would have my iPad now! We could see things in proper detail and could easily decide whether or not it is worthwhile making our way across London to get hold of this lovely pair of heels.

At the end of the day after having exhausted ones budgets, when all the shopping is done and one is on the journey home, still too hyped up to be able to concentrate on reading, with all those wonderful thoughts sitting in the brain... wouldn't it be lovely to just quickly update the blog and to let the world know what a wonderful day one had? The last of the evening sun comes shining right from behind while the train is rattling along, mind is floating... fingers aren't.

The beautiful shiny screen of the iPad which is so appreciated when watching movie trailers and catalogs is really rather useless with light shining onto it and the admittedly rather big keys of the keyboard are nevertheless painted on the screen. Every shaking and rattling of the train makes the fingers slip, typing blind is not an option. Now it would be wonderful to have my pretty, blue, little netbook at hand. How easily would I have transmitted all my thoughts to the world.

In the meantime the initially shrunk handbag has grown to a backpack while my carrying capacity for shopping goods has been reduced to a minimum. That is why I ususally travel together with hubby, the most important gadget of them all.

Wednesday 6 October 2010

The Crazy Old

I am starting to grasp the concept of the ‘Crazy Old’: As there is no dignity in ageing one can just as well go bonkers instead. However much dignity we grant each other, nature is just cruel and does not comply with any ethical rule.

There is this thing about hair for example. It is getting faint in places where it is supposed to be and appears in places where it is not supposed to be. If you are an old professor, going bald on your head, with hair growing from your ears and nose, this might even give you the image of wisdom and importance. If the same happens to a business man, it is just not working in your favour as much. So for the male half of the population things very much seem to depend on standing.

This is not as true for the other half. Some of you might already know that I have spent quite a substantial sum of money supporting the laser business, in order to achieve a non-European level of grooming for good. Being German, one has to be very careful not to give room to any misunderstanding regarding the side of the Channel one feels rooted into, and finding oneself in changing rooms quite often seemed to justify the expense. Now however, the body, with help of nature, is fighting back, just when I thought I had won the battle.

Not just that unexpectedly one feels rather furry in places, the speed of growth is inversely proportional to what happens on the head. If this trend persists, my calves will soon feature a pony tail while my head will go bold. This means that another substantial sum of money will soon vacate my bank account supporting my beauty parlour rather then finding its way into the apple store to get me an iPad.

Well, nobody ever promised me that life would be fair!

Another thing is sleep. Sleep is supposed to be the activity that helps to keep you pretty; it gives your body time to regenerate, they say. Well, have you ever had a look in the mirror and counted the types of wrinkles you have?

There are the fine ones under the eyes and around the outside. They come from squinting – just wear shades more often - or laughing. People call them crows feet, but actually they can make a face quite interesting. Then there are the ones on the forehead. They show the character of a person. Although these lines all look very similar they give different signals to the onlooker, indicating whether one is a misanthrope or a funny person. But then... there are lines... lines which develop into crevices... and those are usually only on one side of the face and the neck.

Just have a look at your favourite sleeping position and find out which bits get tucked in. This funny line along the side of your nose? Sleep! The weird ring around one side of your neck? Sleep!

The one thing that nature gave us to enable success and happiness, that is supposed to make us feel alert, strong and beautiful, it gives us the most significant indicator of age as well: The sleep wrinkle!

One might try to adopt a sophisticated sleeping style with the face pointing straight to the ceiling and a specialist pillow supporting the neck. This however, stressed the hair at the back of the head even more and makes it go bald much faster.

Toldya, no dignity in ageing. Let’s just go a bit bonkers then!

Wednesday 18 August 2010

That’s at least the theory!

I have a theory. It’s the theory that in order to keep life in order, items need a place. For some people this means that they are travelling light, claiming that possessions are tying down and hence are overrated, others build shelves.

I developed this theory as a teenager when I still lived with my parents, where items never had a place; they theoretically had, but nobody bothered to put them there. That was a shame, as unfortunately we were unaware of the luck we had. Imagine a 20 room house inhabited by three people. After my parents had given up the village shop and pub we had more space than some nobleman, whereas today I have to cramp everything into a house with four bedrooms – and I am fully aware of my luck of having a house of that generous size.

Back then nothing had a place. A big deal of my time went into looking for things and I still have a reputation of losing scissors... and still I am desperately claiming that it was not me, but somehow hubby picked up that line at my parent’s house... some things just won’t go away. So now I have bloody scissors evenly distributed all over the house... as soon as one is missing: It was me!

Oh well, that at least confirms my theory: Life is easier if things have a place.

But it confirms as well that just allocating a space is only one part of the solution. Items seem to have a life of their own, and a mind for that matter. They are rarely seen in the allocated space. Socks for example are pretty good in wandering around on their own, and some clothes seem to have a keen interest in exploring wardrobes which are not theirs.

After the most recent shopping trip which gave my wardrobe a substantial uplift I decided to give the newcomers a behavioural training, and saw it a good opportunity to tell off the old ones. Where I had blouses hanging with blouses and trousers with trousers before, I now started to categorise clothes. The rail now goes from ‘summery and maybe still usable next year’ via ‘too good to give away and may grow back into it’ to ‘office use’ and ‘casual love it’. It then moves on to ‘run down but too comfy to throw away and hence for house use’ and ‘sport clothes’.

Only future will tell if they will comply with those rules. For now they are hanging neatly and I am rather proud. There is still the problem of the wandering socks, however. I think I just saw one whizzing past – gotta go, will keep you posted!

Wednesday 11 August 2010

Coincidences! Coincidences?

What is this thing that happens when one intends to go in holidays or has some sort of deadline that is perceived as ‘doing something nice’, and the world goes bonkers.

Under normal circumstances my statistical conscience called hubby would patiently explain to me that all those connections one makes like ‘less time equals more unexpected work’ are mere coincidences, and that only our perception changes, that we put focus on the bad things because they annoy, thus they seemingly weigh more than the good things and hence tipping the scale to the worse.

But it is not normal circumstances: My statistical conscience already has left the country and I am due joining him in something like 24 hours. The first time in eight years I will be away together with him for more than one night. Since I am looking forward to something really, really nice, I am expecting the chaos in the run-up to be horrendous, and I am absolutely sure it’s not just my perception. I am absolutely sure it is actually happening.

It already started before he left: Everything was planned, house sitter organised, briefing for her scheduled, a major migraine left behind me, joyful expectations ahead.

Then Bang!

Friday midnight after a horrible rain shower, hubby comes waking me with the news that he found our old little cat soaked in the garden too weak to move and that he won’t make it. A good hour later I had nursed him into his death. Although he didn’t have to suffer too much, it was nevertheless one of the most intense hours of my life and sleep that night only was short and restless.

And there went the carefully planned weekend training schedule because the next migraine kicked in. The weekend which was to be relaxed as Detlef was to leave on Monday night at 4 AM was now spent with me trying to sort things while behaving like a zombie and a cat burial in the garden... and after another short night on Sunday there went the rest of the carefully planned training schedule.

OK! Let’s see the good thing: Neither we nor the house sitter will have to worry about the possible death of an old cat while we are away!

Now the good times were surely upon me: One worry down, the house all for myself – don’t get me wrong, I love hubby to bits, but there is nothing nicer than not having to fit into somebody else’s schedule for a change – a holiday ahead of me, and at work only two simple tasks to do...

Well, as soon as I opened the office door on Monday these tasks seem to have created offspring. I rarely had so many people wanting some help with something time consuming. On top of it all I seem to be attached to some electric wire: As soon as I touch my hair I look like electrocuted.

So I have another 24 hours during which I still have to get one work task done, a website update to be published, shopping for the house sitter to be performed, backup keys to be delivered to friends, a leaving-do to be attended, a suitcase to be packed and a shower to be taken... oh, yes and I wanted to sleep a couple of hours as well.

And it is always like that! At least at my house it is... If there is anybody out there who manages to organise travels or pre-event phases without going bonkers: Please get in touch, I need to know your secret!

Sunday 1 August 2010

Re-view, Re-group, Re-everything

Why, why, why oh why... is life so strange?
Why do we like unhealthy things better than healthy ones? Why do we rather sleep in front of the telly then to go to bed in good time? Why do we understand how it works and still get it wrong? And finally: Why is it that all the good things I do to myself make me feel good and happy and I am still slipping into comfy behaviour for the quick fix which makes me feel unhappy in the long run?

I am in one of those phases again, and it must be boring for you to read it over and over again. Well, this time I at least seem to have caught it at an early stage; just a good month in, so the harm done is minimal. I however know:

It is time to re-group the brain cells!

It is time to become selfish even towards my sloppy self!

It is time to find a solution for once and for all!

I now decided to see this wavelike behaviour as an experiment: Let’s put this woman into her personal laboratory until all the details are known and analysed to then eradicate the cause of this disastrous behaviour.

Experiments always start with a hypothesis. See, and that already is the tricky part:

How to phrase the problem so that it can be re-searched?

Well, let’s just start with:

‘Everybody strives for happiness and too much comfort leads to unhappiness’

The next step is to define the parts of the hypothesis. So, what is ‘happiness’ and what is ‘comfort’? Let us assume that there are three types of happiness.

There is the momentary one; the taste of an ice cream, the visit of a loved one, the success in an exam or a sports event; everything that gives this ‘high’ driven by endorphins and adrenalin. Once the chemicals are gone one is back to square one, and some might even feel it like a black hole until the next project or ‘nice’ occasion comes along.

Then there is imagined happiness. It is the idea of how life would be... ‘IF’. This type of happiness is closely related to the first one, just that it is stretched out a bit. Whenever we reach a milestone we feel a chemical induced high like in case one, but the content stays for a bit longer because previous experience gets projected into the future, the next milestone is not uncertain but possible and happiness sometimes can even stretch from milestone to milestone.

Ahhh, I just said: ‘Content!’ That is more the kind of happiness everybody is after. It is a general state of well being, one is doing things one likes doing on a daily basis, the social and living environment is in place, and little challenges are keeping it interesting but don’t threaten the balance.

Content seems to be a lesser form of happiness, I however believe that it describes best what I mean to express in my hypothesis. This seems to be the more true that somebody who is not happy definitely is not content either, so at the end it might turn out that it is even more than happiness.

So I am herewith re-phrasing and claiming that:

Everybody is striving for content,
A big hindering thing however is comfort,

and in turning it upside down that:

Content equals Effort

Whoops... how did that come about? You may realise that I am making this up as I go along... so these are real thought processes you are observing here... I am keen to see where else this will lead me and if I can bring it to something that makes remotely sense.

So: Content = Effort would mean the less effort one is putting into life, the lesser the chances are that this person will be content.

I guess it is time now to define ‘effort’. It is quite interesting actually that I rather intuitively chose effort as the opposite of comfort. Being German I quite often use a dictionary to translate back and forth in order to find the best word to describe a thought. So I did that just now for ‘comfort’ and my dictionary delivers words like ‘ease’ and convenience’. This hits the nail quite nicely on the head: Those words indicate that one gets something for almost free, there is no achievement associated with it; one may get a good mark or food or even money but basically for no good reason.

Ahhh.... again! Another good word chosen intuitively: ‘Achievement’ seems to be important for content.

Achivement usually is associated with an outburst of joy about the achieved, which goes along the lines of the chemical driven events as depicted in ‘happy-description’ number one a bit further up this article. This description however we found the least suitable for our hypothesis, so why is this argument coming back to it then?

Let’s see what the dictionary throws at us by looking at ‘effort’. It delivers words like ‘exertion’ but ‘achievement’ as well – Ha! So I intuitively got it right! – ‘accomplishment’ and ‘performance’ are other words along the same line.


This is exactly what solves the riddle - but not the problem, though; human kind has given the same word for something that is a ballast as well as a source of joy, and this shows that throughout history, probably even since the beginnings of mankind, this combination has been hard wired into our brains. We love accomplishment, we love to achieve, it makes us feel good, but at the same time there is the ballast of getting there.

It now dawns on me that happiness can be categorised in a different way as well. I chose a definition that refers to the length of time the feeling lasts. The first group however, the momentary, the instant happiness, can be classed again. I already gave the clue myself in naming the ‘taste of an ice cream’ in the same list as the ‘success in an exam’.

See the difference? They both don’t last THAT long, but one comes effortless the other one not. Those are things that DO make us happy short term but while the latter holds the promise of content if driven further, the first one doesn’t.

We are trading long term content all too easily for short term happiness of the wrong kind.

  • Relationships – we like to go for the fling to get the butterfly feel rather then work for it
  • Fitness – we find a thousand reasons not to do it, smugly telling ourselves that a bit of housework will do the trick, trying to catch two flies with one stone rather then developing a lifestyle that actually will solve a lot of our problems
  • Food – we are falling for the fast version and the immediate sugar rush, rather then learning to cook and getting in charge of what we put through out bodies
  • Sleep – we fall for the simple treat of a silly movie or online chat rather than an early sleep

Every single of those miss-behaviours give us a quick kick, but they keep us from achieving. We are like the four year olds in the marshmallow experiment . They were given the decision between one marshmallow now, or waiting a bit and the promise of the second marshmallow. Most of the kids would eat the marshmallow, and well... it seems we are failing similar tests which life is throwing at us at a regular basis.

I at least don’t seem to be able to make this sort of decisions on a subconscious level. So well then: Let’s bring it to the conscious. Developing routines for the things which happen regularly already worked well for me... it is just a matter of once in a while re-minding me why the routine was established. Routines reduces effort as one only has to put in the effort at the beginning until the routine is learned. And for the rest of it: One will have to ask the conscious question over and over again 'Is this quick happy-fix worth jeopardising the prospect of long term content?'

See, we are even in the lucky position that in a lot of the cases we don’t even have to wait for others to fulfil the promise. We are in charge, we make it happen ourselves. You want to become strong, slim, smart you CAN. You want the better job, the independance, the freedom you CAN have that. You CAN do all this by putting in the respective effort. So re-minding myself of the above and asking myself the question 'Is it worth it?' might eventually help train my subconscious to take the right choices blindfolded, and re-lieving you from having to listen to this all over again.

Wednesday 7 July 2010

Market Value ...

Market Value ...

Or - What comes next?...

Or - Photo Therapy Part Two

On: ‘Vanity’ and going from ‘Cute’ to ‘Hot’

OK, I admit: That sounds presumptuous!

To prove my point I again will use a method that has worked once before: The Photo Therapy! I will prove that while the first photo therapy brought me from ‘frumpy’ back to ‘cute’ the second one helped moving me further to ‘hot’, making the photo therapy a sometimes hurtful but utterly advisable and useful tool for self improvement.

Photo Therapy Part One – A Recap

I have been writing about this ‘cute’ thing occasionally already, claiming that being cute definitely makes life easier in many ways. I think it is fair to say that I was a quite cute girl when I was younger and I surely got my share of attention without having to work hard for it.

cute at age 17

Unfortunately I took a detour through the frumpy department at the beginning of my 40s and I was quite sure that ‘the cute’ was gone.

The smile all too often went stale, and the eyes had lost their spark. I know it because hubby used to call me ‘sparkly eyes’, and there was a long period during which I never heard this anymore. Self doubt was ruling life and I truly believed that ‘cute’ had left for good and with it the fun.

I was thinking a lot about which skill or attribute could give back at least some incentive for ‘liking life’. Assertiveness, helpfulness, style,... Style! Style sounds good and rather simple to achieve. So off I went to explore style in clothing, and then thanks to sport style in posture, and later via the first photo shoot style in expression. Since then my ‘Photo Therapy’ idea was always following me around, driving me, advising, pointing...

As long as the eyes of a woman are sparkling, no man will ever notice the wrinkles underneath!

- unknown -

... and at age 44

Now, 5 years on those pictures are worth a fortune for me. Now that I am looking back I can see that for a while I actually got ‘the cute’ back. Another name dear hubby used to call me when I was all dressed up to go out was ‘ Hey Pretty’. All of a sudden I heard it again, and ‘sparkly eyes’ was back as well.

From the amount of pictures I have sitting on my computer now, it seems that I all of a sudden I must have chased the cameras. Before, there were hardly any pictures of me and most of them rather colourless and dull, now even the not so good ones depict ‘fun’. My newly gained vanity seemed to have done me good.

This however was not a continuous state of mind. The most telling pictures are the ones taken at the first photo shoot in 2007 at the gym. They show me in great shape and confidence. From there live moved forward in waves with a little high in 2009 and then a deep dip during winter 2009/2010.

Like five years back I felt time was running out and I felt just old. And again it was Bodybuilding and pictures taking me back on track. And like five years ago Bodybuilding came first and the pictures gave me the confidence to believe what I was feeling already.

Body Image

Body image is a very weird thing. One might lose weight, one might put on muscles, one might transform: The mind still sees the frump, the big rear, the fat legs, the wrinkles. Pictures are able to transform the mind to the same image that the body already has reached.

All those pictures had already shown a pretty, even cute 45 year old, especially when there was a smile; some of them however, already showed first glimpses of a transformation I never thought possible, and I really wanted to explore that further.



Cute means likable, it makes things easy because people respond more kindly on first impression.

Thing just was: As much as I had been missing to be cute, I now wanted more; I needed an edge to it. Well, there are at least two levels to it, I guess. One is being able to be assertive and receiving respect.

This is a nice thing at work and in daily life situations, but there is one other thing I am sure every woman would find interesting to know: Some call it ‘shelf life’ or ‘expiry date’, I like to call it ‘market value’.

The questions are: If I were not married and available on the dating market, on which price range of shelf would they put me, for how long would I have to sit there, and would I sell at all?

There is one thing for sure: I don’t want to compete with the 20 year olds for whom a cute smile and a pout would seal the deal. They are a different league now and this is not my style anymore, but would I have that little bit extra that would make me attractive enough to give me a decent market value?

Don’t worry; hubby is perfectly fine with me posing those questions. I think he even likes the thought that others might desire what he has, he even moved on from ‘ Hey Pretty’ to ‘Hot Chick’; that I take as a first indicator that a second transformation has taken place.


And then the most recent photo shoot revealed this completely new facet of myself, but the finite clue came from two guys who hadn’t seen me for those five years. They were rather amazed about my change of shape, and the compliments already put me on cloud seven. When a bit later I met one of them again he picked up on the conversation and said: ‘My friend said that you look hot!’


The next photo shoot is already scheduled... and I rest my case!

Monday 28 June 2010

Turning into Mum!

It is official now: I have turned into my mum, or into almost everybody’s mum, for that matter. Weird thing about it is that I don’t even mind.

Whenever I had a problem when I was younger I used to complain about mum-type people. They never seemed to be compassionate, all they came up with was advice while I wanted to shout, scream, cry, tell the story in all the gory details, probably even exaggerate a bit. I wanted to use the full range of theatrical intonation in my voice, and then when everything was said, I wanted to hear something like: 'Oh you poor thing, I know, it’s so bad, I know exactly what you are talking about.' This inevitably would lead to a new round of re-telling the story, wringing it for the last bit of sentiment. Depending on the severity, this could go on for days, talking to different girlfriends, who then would re-tell it between them until it would come back to me. After a while eventually we would run out of steam and the emotional baggage of the issue would have been evaporated into thin air. Some of the problems might not even have deserved that term, so solutions were not actually needed, while the ones needing attention would have been resolved by people with practical thinking in the meantime. Everybody with a common sense would try to move heaven and hell to make this drama stop.

Later in life two things happened: Firstly I moved on to other places and all of a sudden the trusted girl friends had gone, and the older one gets the more difficult it is to find likeminded spirits. And secondly, the ‘cute’ had left the building. See, it helps if one is calling a certain cuteness one’s own. All those rants coming from an ugly face don’t work as well compared to big eyes and a quivering pout telling the story. Unfortunately this advantage fades over time and one realises... Sh... it’s not working the way it used to anymore.

All of a sudden I had to find the solutions myself, or poor hubby had to compensate. He had to listen, and he had to help solve. I only know now, that I mutated into my mum-ish self, how lucky I am to have him. And I got lucky in another respect: I found a mentor! He was the person who patiently listened to my rants for one last time, asked the right questions at the right moment, and made me think.

Well and now that I am done with thinking, I find myself not wanting to rant about things anymore. I want to tackle them head on! Want to get it done and over with. I now find that it is the prerogative of the youth to spend all that time on worrying, ranting and moaning. I am not willing to spend this amount of time on negativity anymore, and although I don’t want to be younger – God forbid – I sometimes would like to have some of the time back that I wasted back then. Now that I am running out of it, I would like to tell all these youngsters... don’t do this! Find a solution and get on with your lives.

Of course they don’t appreciate this advice – I wouldn’t have!

And I am not bothered, really. History, it seems, will stay forever young: It will repeat itself over and over again, and in 30 years time they might read my story and think: Darn... she was right!

Friday 18 June 2010

Becks Blue Fan Photos

Those pictures were taken by a photographer friend during an photo shoot which was under the sign of: 'Let's push the envelope'.

Isn't it weird that as soon as we are on a beach in a bikini we don't mind having our photo taken; well, or at least we find it inappropriate to complain as we are showing off our assets voluntarily, but as soon as we take off the blouse in our home and having a photo taken, it becomes rather awkward.

Given that I am planning to enter a bodybuilding competition in summer 2011 for the first time in my life and that I then will have to perform in less than a standard bikini, on a stage, in front of people I don't know, I just had to grab the opportunity of this shoot and try myself.

During a break my friend just kept shooting (BTW: that the label is to the front happened absolutely accidentally, we were just kidding around), so those pictures are not perfect but I quite like them - and well, I like the beer anyway, so I don't mind advertising it.

It now turns out though, that having the pictures taken only was one part of the whole game. The much bigger question is: What will happen if I publish?

I have bikinis of less fabric than this bra... but it is clearly a bra... hmmm?!?

On the other hand... what is the best - or the worst to happen? People might like or not like it, my employer might ask me to take them off the internet - rather unlikely, though - somebody might really like it and give me a job as a model... dream on girl!

So it is now decided that the world might see my bra... and me in it! And drive safely! The beer is almost alcohol free (0.05%), BTW!

Saturday 5 June 2010

Glamour Pix: Guys VS. Gals

Since I stumbled across Dita Von Teese, and now am planning for photo shoots with various photographers, I all of a sudden find myself talking to them and guys in general about what turns them on. See, the photographers have certain ideas in mind, my muscles are unusual and inspiring for them, and of course they are trying to figure out how far I would go. Actually: I am trying to figure out how far I would go!

There are rather glamorous pictures which I quite like and there are other, very similar ones which I don’t. I could imagine myself shooting something similar in case one, but not in case two. What makes them so different? I decided to think this through scientifically, and I now believe that I figured it out.

I for instance got two photo ideas explained by the guys:
  • Faceless Nude – a naked woman with a gas mask on
  • Feline – woman in lingerie licking milk from a cat bowl

Hmm...?! The only thing that instantly pops into my mind is a thousand ‘WHY?’s
Why the mask? Alarm while having sex? Fetish thing? Lost her clothes because couldn’t see properly through that thing? Why the cat milk? Isn’t she having a cup? Eating from floor is disgusting and diminishing...

If I would put myself in the middle of a room, naked with a gas mask on, I would not expect to be taken seriously, or not to be raped for that matter.

Of course I get the appeal it may have to a guy. It has clear signals: Boobs and arse right on a tray ready to go, while kitty says: See, I am there already, may scratch a bit but won’t fight, take me now!

I always thought that under an evolutionary point of view the guys would like the hunt, but I may have misinterpreted of what hunting actually entails. Hunting for them is all about the kill at the end. It is about tuning in on a signal: the stag, the pattern of the fur, the boob, the bum; tuned in like a missile with a motion lock. Distraction would be disruptive, and when the kill can be achieved without the hunt, even better. By all means: It is a fair way of seeing things! Whatever turns you on boys!

It’s just that this is not working for me, and from what I heard when talking with my girlfriends: it is not for them either. So if I would commit to a glamour shoot I would like to have photos taken which would turn ME on, and not in a lesbian way. Sorry to blow another one of your dreams. Guys: ... it’s rarely the male form that does it for us ladies... Again, it is just not about signals. Don’t get me wrong, I like to see some eye candy once in a while, nice shoulders, ABS... but that is not what gets me going! Actually, it doesn’t even matter what the subjects in a shot are – as long as they work well together. Thus the next bit is about: What does ‘working well together’ mean?

A guy’s ‘Hustler’ is a girl’s ‘Mills & Boon’

Ladies need the story telling! ‘Context’ is the key word here. Context exists in two ways:
  • Context within which a photo is displayed, and
  • Context within the photo itself.

Reverting back to the ‘faceless nude’ and the ‘feline’, one could argue that in a context less set up these women are not in control, they are obedient and subject to potential abuse. Putting them into the context of a fetish photo book or a themed exhibition it makes sense. Context avoids misunderstanding.

Although I am not opposed to any kind of fetish, this is not what I am interested in. What sets my mind into gear is context within the photo:

The story telling!

A well chosen context can put subjects into charge, and the strength of a subject radiates as strength of the image, creating a strong emotion in the onlooker.

Let me elaborate:

Step one: Imagine a naked woman on a meadow.
Instant questions again: Why is she there, and where are her clothes?

Step two: Put a nice shrub on one side of her, in which her clothes are hanging and on the other side you put a lake.
Ah, of course, she is taking an early morning bath. Hmm, I already can feel the first of the sun rays tickling through the last of the mist, and the soft grass under my feet; I can imagine the cold water around the ankles and the little ‘whoops’ moment when it touches the belly button, and then the big, joyful, tingling splash!

Interesting what a bit of context can do, isn’t it? But we are not finished yet!

Step three: Put a bit of greeneries into the foreground as if somebody is watching her through a shrub.

Whoohoo, a bit of voyeurism... Nice! Getting there!

Step four: Now imagine that she knows that she is being watched.
She can feel the eyes as close as touching, her head swings that tiny bit more when the hair is released, she turns a bit more, stretches a bit further, swings the hips a bit more as she walks into the water; she shows this little bit of attitude and she knows... he is there and can’t have it, at least not right now.

And that is the final turn on:
Time delay!

Not being able to have it straight away. The tease! Which brings us back to Dita.

That is total contradiction to what guys need. To a woman, a single picture with the proper framing and a model with the right attitude can tell an entire story... and it will make her happy!

Now I find myself in a situation where I would like to find out what works for both. Scenarios are needed where the signals are strong, but the story nevertheless is being told!

If you can solve this riddle – who knows? I might even go all the way... modelling wise that is!

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Food Personalities

Food really can be a nuisance for some: One can't live with it and one can't live without it either.

After many years of leaning, observing, trying, and experimenting I however think, that I am starting to get the bigger picture. I wrote an article once in which I suggested to become a graser - people who similar to cows nibble small portions throughout the day - and I am now realising that this is only one part of the puzzle.

I so far have indentified at least two significantly different personalities with different needs to maintain a healthy lifestyle: Grazers and accountants (this is in lack of an animal kingdom similarity, at least I didn't find one). No offence to the profession of accountancy, it is meant as a compliment even. While the grazers are eating when they get hungry, and have to stick with little portions because they are actually hungry all the time, the accountant personality is eating at set times.

These are the two extremes which are repeatedly suggested in literature, internet and TV, as the ones to strive for in order to maintian a healthy lifestyle. This can be utterly confusing as the accountant can't comprehend how grazing could ever work and vice versa. So keeping this information in mind the first question to answer for a food troubled mind is:

What type am I?

Or better: What would be the type of personality which I would be able to adopt?

As for me, I am definitely a grazer. Hence the previous article and hence me thinking that my ways would save the day for everbody else. So let us investigate some of the issues the respective groups are facing:

The accountant food personality
The accountant actually has it quite good. They are the 'take 1 hour of lunchbreak' personalities. Only the time and the portion size has to be determined, probably the one or other emergency strategy for travel or social events needs to be thought through, and life can proceed as usual. Since accountant types lead a rather organised life anyway, for them it is no problem to stick with the schedule and once the body gets used to it, things go like clockwork. Hunger will not occur anymore out of hours, and since they take a dedicated time to break they even will have some recovery time after food intake.

The grazer food personality
The grazer on the other hand is leading a different lifestyle. They either have jobs where they travel a lot, dynamically manage many tasks at the same time, and often they are maiden for everything hence attending to other people's needs. Thus there is no rhythm in the daily tasks around which meal times could be scheduled, and energy consumption varies within the day and between days. Given this lifestyle, hunger kicks in randomly, whenever the depots are empty. The task is to see for healthy food provisions readily availabe as there is no time for preparing a proper meal, or taking a proper break. Additionally a proper meal is too much for the grazer, as it has the capability to trigger sleepyness, a feature not appreciated.

Relationship hiccups
So now we want to imagine the once unhappy food junkie managed to find the matching personality and adopt it. All the rules are set, the adjustments are done, and success shows in a healthier and stronger body. That is when one has to address the matter of social environment: meaning friends, spouses, and family in general.

It will be a successful relationship when they are all of the same species, but they usually aren't. A grazer and an accountant in one househould wanting to stick with the social conventions of having mealtime together depicts a setup that is bound to fail. And here it shows why accountants have it that good: Social convention is accountant oriented. The hard work lies and always will lie with the grazers. They will have to determine certain slots during which they will join their counterpart - e.g. twice a week for dinner - and for the rest of it they will have to go separate ways food wise. If they fail to find an agreement the grazer inevitably will get fat by doing the grazing for hunger plus doing the set meals to please social convention.

Which brings me to another hiccup: I already mentioned that the grazer quite often is taking the role of 'maiden for everything' which more often than not includes the preparation of food provisions for the rest of the office working family. Which basically means that the person who will not take part in the meal is supposed to prepare it. And that is a real nuisance. The only solution I can see is to pre-cook, freeze, and show dad how the microwave works!

Bon Appetit!

Thursday 8 April 2010

My Choice - My Challenge!

Having done a lot of mulling and moaning during the past couple of month or so, I have now put a new focus on my sport activities. It was a matter of remembering what it was that brought me to Incredible Ladies in the first place, what it was that made me feel happy and successful and healthy. So on one hand I am doing this for myself, but on the other this brought me back to thinking about the charity side of things as well.

Oh my, I have been so grumpy and jealous, seeing all these celebrities running marathons, climbing mountains, waterskiing through the Channel. All these examples of overcoming fear and challenge taking I found more off-putting rather then inspiring. How is a normal person supposed to compete with that? How am I to measure my success against theirs? I am bound to fail miserably. These guys have a public face, they have a team helping them, they have the best of equipment, and of course they are raising huge amounts of money. Why should I work my bud of, almost killing myself in a challenge, if only about 5 people will pat my shoulder, and if I am lucky I may raise 500 quid. One celeb can cover the efforts of about a thousand of normal people. Under efficiency point of view we should let the celebs do all the fundraising.

And actually, it is not just me claiming the same praise for a similar effort; one is getting measured against these achievements. “What? You only did one marathon? Well, here is a pound, but you know - Eddie Izzard has been running 50 of them in one go – THAT is great innit?”

To be honest: I feel like a resentful arsehole now. Because it doesn’t matter how I compare to those guys... and the poor bloke really did suffer!

It is important that
  • I like what I am doing,
  • that I achieved something that I couldn’t do before, what gives hope that I can replicate that and become even better the next time, and
  • that whatever people give me as sponsorship goes to the charity that matters most to me.

Oh, and there we are with the next rant! The choice of charity – I did Race for Life, Cancer Research; after three years it was almost impossible to get people excited about it: ‘We know that you can do it, why are you doing it again?’

Does it matter? I am collecting money for a worthy cause, for crying out loud!

And then I came across the orangutans and I just knew that is what I want to support. Well now I have to defend my choice because I am not helping humans or children. The extinction of a species... hmm, aren’t their more pressing problems in the world?

Fighting extinction – why does it matter?

I don’t have one of those official, scientific answers to that – all I have is a story.

When I was a kid at school we went to a history museum and all of a sudden I found myself face to face with a strange stuffed bird in a diorama: A Dodo. I always was into wildlife and wanted to visit all the places to see all the animals, and so I asked the teacher where they live. He pointed me to a little label that said: Extinct.

I didn’t know what that meant, and so he explained that there is not a single place in this world where this animal is still alive. That they all got killed hundreds of years ago and that the stuffed ones are all that is left of them. It was the first time that something that grand hat hit my little brain. I had not been travelling at all back then, for me this world was an endless resource; how on earth could it happen that something just vanished. I felt for the first time what it means to be ‘too late’, I felt deprived of an opportunity, and later when I went to university they had a museum with a stuffed Dodo. I visited him often and imagined how nice it would be... just once to see him waddling along between trees.

Later my imagination got caught by Jane Goodall and her Chimpanzees, and of course I wanted to travel to Tanzania and live in the rainforest. And of course I didn’t. Well and many years later I bumped into the orangutans on the telly and edged my way closer to the scene of people actually doing the rescue work. I learned a lot about all the issues which make them an endangered species, and I would not be able to bare the thought, that one day a child would be standing in a museum in front of a stuffed orangutan and asking the same question I asked about the Dodo, only to find the same label attached to it.

And knowing what I know now, about evolution, habitat, gene pools, and so on – Now I know how easy it is to make something extinct. We may be next.

And that is why it matters!

Related Links:
Orangutan Land Trust (OLT)
Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS)
Interview with Michelle Desilets about OLT