Tuesday 27 December 2011


Apparently I am an ignorant cow! The last time I have been called names was at the playground, but then: I haven't been really stubborn since then either. 

It was during the run-up to Christmas, the festival of love, and it was at a car park. Car parks and good mood rarely go well together, I however was quite happily minding my own business. This business being to find a got spot. See, I am not good in parking my big trunk. I am fully capable to do all this reversing into a slot thing, but that doesn't mean that I like doing it. Hubby is different. For him it is a sport to be the smoothest, swift reverse parker that was ever seen. I am not like that; my aim is to find a slot to drive through, and as usually slots are aligned in double rows, I needed one where two nice wide slots behind each other were free. 

And there it was, the perfect slot! Unfortunately on the wrong side, typical. The angle much to tight to get in. The plan was hatched to go round and to tackle it from the other side, hoping that no competitor with hubby-like skills would swoop in buttocks first. 

Lucky, I was! Gently and carefully I manoeuvred the snout into the first of the slots, another car in front of me went past, I straightened the car and was half way in the second slot when I saw the rear of a car entering.


This is where the stubbornness came in. Blood pressure rising I decided to defend my slot. I could have easily reversed into the first, perfectly fine slot, but then I would have had the hassle of reversing out of it later. And... I was as good as in already. So I just sat. Admittedly I would have felt better giving up, being the bigger person; ...I wouldn't be sitting here writing about it... This lady however seemed to be perfectly capable to reverse into any other slot, and there were plenty of them. There was only one that suited me. 

She charged backwards a bit, I could hear the motor howling. Rika sitting stubbornly. She tried it again... the poor thing! By then every sentiment for the festival of love must have gone up in smoke. She dashed out, parked two slots down the row... she is good, she was faster in hers than I was in mine... well, maybe I am just really bad... However, by the time I left the car a really red face shouted across the car park, insisting repeatedly that I belonged to the species of milk producing creatures, that I stole her parking slot and that I swooped in from behind.

Well, she doesn't know me; as depicted before: When I drive there is no swooping, at least not in car parks. I however give her that: She could not have seen me. When she drove past, all she would have seen was a car in the first slot. Usually we do not notice if somebody is in the car. Car in slot means: parked! Thus to her it must have felt like somebody swooping in. 

Each person's story represents the truth from their point of view, hence we were both right, and both wrong. There is no clear answer of who should have owned that slot. I used my stronger position to win - I was not blocking the street while waiting for her to give up - but that doesn't make it right from her point of view. There is one thing though that puts her entirely into the wrong: If we were to swap roles in this story, I may have closed my door a bit harder, I may have mumbled some swear words into my scarf, but I would not have called her names. 

And next time I will give up. I now know that I can defend what I think is right, but sometimes it is just not worth it!

Sunday 25 December 2011

The aftermath of Christmas presents...

We don't do Christmas presents! Not anymore.  We actually don't do Christmas anymore. We are an old couple without kids. There is no good reason to clean the house to then mess it up with a tree, the hassle of shopping and cooking and ... and then one has a lot of time around ones hands and decides to go... shopping. Isn't there this lovely new mall where the Olympics will take place? Stratford! Yes, that's it! Let's go!

And then we buy gadgets. Important ones. I actually wanted flat shoes for Lindy Hop lessons. Yes, that's right... FLAT shoes... for me! Unfortunately the trainer insists in flats which I don't really have. I then however, couldn't get myself to buying ugly shoes, so I turned my attention to a wrist watch. Not having worn one in ages I had lost track of the market situation, though.They are either pretty yet impractical, or partly practical but the most ugly, huge monsters imaginable. So I gave up and we entered hubby's temple - the  Apple Store.

For some weird reason items of a certain value have to find an allocation to some sort of event, and hence we each got a little something as Christmas pressie. Ha... we are not doing Christmas, my ar..!!

Now: Each present worth its money has to show its value instantly and my Nano touch which works as a wrist watch  - who needs Swatch & Co if there are iGadgets - is outshone by hubby's little black box, the 'apple TV'. It's not bigger than a sardine can, but shinier and it hooks up with all sorts of other iDevices to play their content on the telly; additionally it offers a lot of other stuff directly via iTunes... don't ask me details, all I know is that there are a lot of colourful buttons to press and then nice things happen on the screen, some of which cost money. I don't think hubby entirely trusts me in this, he enabled the kid protection allowing shopping access only via password. Hmmm...

So now we watch TED talks on the telly. You should really try that with the one where they bring a real human brain on stage with the spinal cord still attached... gives a whole new dimension to Christmas morning.

I had seen Jill Bolte Taylor's talk about a 'stroke of insigth' before on the computer, but I have to say that it is quite different on the big screen. It now becomes a family experience and being able to talk about it afterwards brings new aspects to the talk. For this particular one this means, that I want to know more about the matter. If I could understand better how these two sides of the brain work together and if indeed my suspicion would be right that hormones are causing havoc there, that might explain why sometimes I feel so bloody unfocused. This is a Christmas pressie that hasn't been invented yet: The iFocus!

Merry Christmas, Dears!

Sunday 23 October 2011

Life is a Biscuit

This is a cookie to my American friends. A cookie however, is a typical American species, rather big and sturdy; teeth breaking at times. A biscuit is the more fragile relative from the European continent, rather delicate and pretty. I guess if life were a cookie it might be easier to live, but maybe more boring as well.

So imagine at the beginning of your life, sitting bang in the middle of your perfectly shaped biscuit, nice and round, all smooth, and drifting through space. Soon you will get up to explore and you will find that it wobbles. Quickly drawing back to the middle you will learn where the centre of gravity lies - it is you! As you keep exploring your biscuit you will find that inviting people onto this platform will help to keep the balance. If you all move in perfect harmony, you all have the freedom to explore and to enjoy this life together. You might even discover that attaching other people’s biscuits to yours will make it sturdier.

Biscuits are not easily navigated, though. Harmony might come natural at times, but usually negotiations are asked for. Some people manage perfectly fine for all their lives and live happily ever after, but most of us will find that there are always people, with whom the balancing game does not work. They either move to fast, too slow or into the wrong direction, while others might not want to fix their biscuits too tightly or not tightly enough. Usually this does not happen out of deliberation. We just live at different speeds, were raised in different cultures and use language in different ways. Whatever the reason, all of a sudden the balancing act involves you doing the splits, a lot of running around and continuously being alert.

From all this commotion the first cracks appear in your biscuit... see, told you: Life would be better if it were a cookie, but 'No!' whoever was in charge decided to choose a biscuit.

... and it is getting worse. People will move away from the cracks and will reach the edge. There they will see interesting things: loads of other biscuits, interesting, pretty, cool or idyllic. The ones who daringly peer through the cracks see the same wonderful picture, and some of them may be tempted to risk the jump off the margins or through the crevice.

Drastic action is required, a wall needs to be built around the biscuit, cracks have to be fixed, and maybe it is a good idea to tie some people down.

... and out we get the pegs and the ties, and we hammer them into the ground, and often too late we realise that now it is us who is breaking the biscuit. But what can be done? We keep fixing and fixing. Some cracks we are able to mend lovingly, for others there is just no time and we paint over them.

... and so it goes for a while: short periods of relative happiness when we think that we nailed it are taking turns with frantic repair work, until one day we are exhausted and unhappy and wondering: What the heck am I doing? Life cannot be about building walls and fixing cracks.

 ... and more questions are whizzing through the brain: What happened to my lovely, pristine biscuit? Who is to blame? Could it have been avoided? What to do now?

The answers lie in the beginning: The centre of gravity is YOU! You and you alone will have to be the person to win back stability.

Oh, how often did I try to find the ones to blame? I had to learn that it was Me. I voluntarily did the fixing and building and running, nobody asked me to. People joined my life and without asking them or myself whether or not they were good for my biscuit, I accommodated their needs. I did not make clear the rules that apply for docking to my biscuit. I didn’t even know the rules, so how can I blame others.

The way forward is the simplest and the most difficult task at the same time.

The past needs to be the past. None of what is gone will come back, and hence assessing what is left is the first step to healing. The aim is the truth; no sugar coating, no excuses.

... and then comes the big thought experiment. The right questions have to be asked: Why did I do all the fixing? What am I scared of? As a matter of fact ‘What is the worst case scenario?’ What if I would let go? My biscuit might break – ‘Would I really mind?’, people might leave or fall off – ‘Would I feel guilt, or loss?’ ‘Do I want to desperately cling to people who don’t want to be with me? ... sitting on my fragment of biscuit drifting through space, ... time to think,... time for honesty, ... this fragment would be MY fragment, my responsibility and my freedom. How bad would the worst case scenario actually be? However painful the process: the answer to this question holds all the building blocks for honest negotiations.

... and then the work begins.  Ever so carefully yet confidently a set of rules will have to be established. Balance can only be achieved by negotiation, either through talking and listening, or testing and observing, and although bits of the biscuit might break off as some people decide to leave, one might find that biscuits with edges are actually quite nice to be on. They show style, and experience; they are reliable and easy to dock to. One might even find that more people than expected would like to make an edgy biscuit their home.

My new motto: The first step to avoiding the worst of cases is to face it and to accept it as fate!

Friday 7 October 2011

Male VS Female Cheating

I don't know if this piece of wisdom is of any relevance, but after years of observation I can reveal: Men and women are cheating differently. Yep, they do!

The early stages of a cheat appear to be pretty similar, but...

See, there are only few scenarios out of which a cheat arises. There are the cheating characters, who just can't help it; it's their nature. They come in male and female and I didn't take those into account. As for the others, they usually live in long wearing relationships which either have become boring because none of the partners has evolved, or they have become imbalanced because only one of the partner evolved, or they have become speechless because both partners evolved but in different directions. I guess there are only very few people who make it through by either not getting boring, or by developing into the same direction.

For the cheat to happen it then is important that opportunities arise. This is when first indicators appear that there are differences in the cheating behavior of the sexes. There are the opportunity seeking characters, and there are the ones who just jump when the opportunity is there. We will find both types in male and female, I am however claiming, that females are quite good in creating opportunities in very subtle ways. It will look as if the opportunity was just arising but in reality a meticulously planned strategy was in place to make it happen. A strategy, that is well suited for the cheating male, who usually rather gormlessly stumbles into it.

The differences between the sexes become prominent when they get discovered and it is time to pick up the pieces.

The female cheater will be aiming for one of three outcomes:
  • Leave me all alone, I'd rather be without man (more often than one might think),
  • staying with the old relation,
  • staying with the new relation.
And although she might appear rather emotionally torn, she will consider her options very carefully. Opposed to common wisdom she rarely will go for what her heart, so full of love, will tell her. A change down the social ladder might only be considered when she herself has a quite good income.  Although women are hoping to have found the prince of their dreams, they may have a hunch that this furnace of love will fade and that there is a high possibility that some time in the future they will be stuck in the same boredom or speechlessness again. Should it happen, one will want to be in a good position.

The aim however is always a clean cut. I have never heard a woman say: Oh, I love you all, can't I just pop in whenever my schedule allows?

This seems to be the male attitude in solving the cheating situation. History and other cultures ooze from stories about men with several women, and whenever the conversation turns to this subject the male eye starts to sparkle and a certain jealousy becomes obvious from their choice of words used in said conversation.

The male cheater aims for only one thing: Filling the gaps!

While the woman is holding on to the dream of the perfect partner (... and if she doesn't find it then rather 'no partner') the male has a lazier approach of just collecting women who complement each other.

There is a quote, no idea where it comes from, and it reads: 'A woman should be a lady when in the parlor, a cook when in the kitchen and a harlot when in the bedroom.' The fact alone that this quote exists, shows that women are seen in specific roles and it gives an indication that men quite like the idea of choosing three women if the one is not doing the job properly.

Men however are ... men. A female would not write a job description: 'Be a Casanova in bed, handsome and presentable on social occasions and useful to the household.' Although this is a fine description of her prince, she is quite realistic in her expectations. A woman usually is already quite happy to get 'one' out of the 'three', while doing her best to display the full set of roles expected from her, to satisfy this imperfect specimen she agreed to marry.

What we can learn from that? 'Cheat more', 'Cheat less', 'Don't marry', 'Do marry', 'Have more orgies'... I don't know!

Why don't you tell me?

Thursday 26 May 2011

Just Thinkin'...

Not having been thinking a lot recently, hence my silence on the blogs, but this one crops up again and again:

What's a luxury?

I've been shopping a lot lately... yes, I know: a confession video is long overdue... and yes, a lot of the stuff I don't really need, so I can happily admit to the luxury crime.

But take my cleaner! For some reason I myself still think I shouldn't have one. I am a healthy woman fully capable of removing my own dirt, and potentially I would even have the time for it - but I don't want to!

I want to spend my time differently. I want to explore things, I want to write, I want to meet people and get inspired to explore even more things, and I want to meet people to inspire them - and I am really good at that. A cleaner gives me all these things. So why the heck do I have to feel guilty?

My cleaner is a star, she wasn't as blessed with an education enabling her to do something else. Well, she actually worked in health care but can't do that anymore because it broke her back. Cleaning houses allows her to work at her own pace and she likes to be in the service sector. 

So she is happy and I am happy and at the same time we both do our business.

Could it be that luxury is a term coined out of  envy? Is anything that makes me happy or makes my life easier a luxury, just because I have the money to pay for it?

I call driving a Merc or having a yacht a luxury; not cooking but going out for food I find luxurious... but only because these things are not for me: I wouldn't want to do it and because for me it's not worth the money. 

Now my luxury lifestyle has enabled me to find a new aim in life. All the explorations and networking eventually is going to pay off in proper currency: I enrolled in a course to become 'Personal Trainer'. I have a new career prospect while my dear cleaner earned herself the money to pay for the visa and the trip from the Philippines for her daughter.

Long live luxury!

Friday 8 April 2011

Murphy is still biting

This is a rant! I am not sure if I am pre-menstrual or menopausal, our English summer is taking place during this very week, and I have not seen a bloody bit of it, collecting overtime at work instead, and my bodybuilding competition is getting closer and I am in panic because I just can't focus on it. I had another week during which I didn't train. Great!

Well Mr Murphy claims that everything that can go wrong will go wrong, for me it is more: Pile on her shoulders as much as you can! Maybe it's Murphy's brother biting me.

I have set myself all those challenges, because my environment at home and work was calm and comforting for such sort of thing, and hence I organised my life accordingly. It seemed to be good timing to push the envelope a bit more and to find out where my limits are. Well, I learned that for sure: They are here and now!

See, everything was sorted and discussed at home, work was wonderfully boring and then, all of a sudden home and work changed drastically. I feel that I should be three people: A full time entertainment enthusiast, a full time business woman with a drive for a career and the will to work overtime for it, and the Rika who wants to write blogs, do photo shoots and bodybuilding competitions.

Does it always HAVE to be like that? Really? This is going on my nerves.

I had occasions like this twice before in my life. I had just braced myself to build something of my own, wanted to become a business woman in my own little company, even had visited courses on bloody boring accountancy - and then we moved to England. The second time round I wanted to become an artist/inventor/craftswoman and make that a business - and I got offered the BT-job that initially scared the hell out of me, so the idea died.

Although I am hoping that I can make the one or the other of my recent activities a business, the whole thing was meant to be a self improvement exercise. I wanted to learn some skills and gain a bit of confidence and most of all, for a change I wanted to practice patience and determination. For a change I wanted to be able to stick with something and not give up like the two times before.

It is so easy to say: 'Oh I moved', 'I got a job', ... and hence I give up. Nope, not this time!

Mr Murphy's brother is testing me big time, though. It could not just be the case that my husband would discover a new life  coming June, when the bodybuilding competition is over, so that I could discover it together with him? No, apparently not, it had to happen last fall, just when I had to pull things together.

Apparently it had to happen last fall as well, that new tasks were offered to me at work. I could have said no, but they were interesting and it is nice to be asked. Others have to beg on her knees for good jobs... Those tasks have now reached a culmination point ... two month before the competition. Hmmm?!?!

See, each of these people needed to live my life are in me, and I love every single one of them, just not at the same time.

So, somebody please tell me : This determination thing - where should I focus it on? I feel like burning the candle from both ends at the moment. If I drop one... would I still be determined? Or do I have to pull through all of them to fulfil my initial challenge of self improvement... ah crumbs... let's hope it's just the hormones talking!

On that note:
Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday 5 April 2011

A Columnist

I started reading a book. Nothing unusual, one might think, but for me it is as I have not been reading in a long time: Too much other stuff to do - like writing.

So I thought: Then at least read a book about writing! I had started others of this kind before, but they reminded me of school and off they went into the rear end of the book shelf. This one is different. Although On Writing Well is written by a writer who is a teacher as well. He writes about other writers who do everything the opposite way he does, and is acknowledging those approaches as valid as his own. And that made me think about what kind of writer I might be.

A lot of the things he suggests I am already doing, although not confidently enough. So I feel in good company while learning my skill. But that does not explain what type of writer I am. And then, Monday morning, sorting my little chores for the day, mind floating, it occurred to me that 'I am a columnist'.

Yes, I know, I even have written a book with my columns in it. That is not what I mean. I am a columnist in my lifestyle as well. I always visualised my life as a scene from a sci-fi adventure movie. There is a huge opening in the ground, bottomless, and for some reason hot and glowing... it seems that I have a vivid imagination, I probably should attempt writing a novel. However! My task in life is to get to the other side of this nothingness.

I have observed people building little bits of land right to the cliff edge where they are standing. They do that by learning things which seem sensible at the time. They look for the bit of the cliff edge that suits them best and by staying with the subject and specialising they are building a solid bridge to the other side.

That's not me!

I have been looking for the right part of the cliff several times and my choices turned out to be very crumbly. Then I found an interest and pursued it for a while, building a column in the middle of the vastness. And on I went building column by column, some of them are a bit short, others a bit high. Some I was made building, and they seem to be a bit crumbly, too. Meanwhile I was walking up and down that cliff not getting anywhere, still hoping to find the perfect spot for a bridge. The bridge builders already were far ahead.

And now, in the last phase of my life, I realise that some of the columns stand rather densely, they are starting to become part of a whole. I can jump from one to the next, and from where I am standing I even can see the solid  and the crumbly ones. I have options to choose from, while some bridge builders have hit crumbly ground and have to go back. Jumping is still a bigger risk than going steadily, but it is more fun, too!

So no wonder then, that I have become a columnist.

Thursday 31 March 2011

Unexpected Appreciation

I am not sure if I will get this finished, as I messed up my wrist today while copying and pasting stuff from one form into another. Hence I am typing like a two year old who got hold of an old typewriter: let your hand fall with fingers stretched and hoping for a good random hit. Probably that should be the way to write anyway. I have a hunch, though, that after a while my neck will follow my wrist... oh well, others had greater hardship to bear for their art.

Talking of art: a lot of my thinking still evolves around photo shoots. Together with a new photo shoot proposal I got notice today that the DVD with the pictures of the last one is in the mail, and then another email dropped into my inbox asking for a shoot, too. This lady is in demand and this lady is flabbergasted due to the fact, that in parts she is in demand for reasons which are a bit beyond my understanding. OK, most of the guys like the red hair, the more that it poses a photography challenge - too much light on it and everything in its proximity looks red, too little and it looks dull - I can understand that. And I can understand that my cleavage has advantage points. Although the bosom part of it is rather limited, the muscles seem to make up for it in a good way.

One of the things I cannot comprehend, though, is that quite some attention is paid to the rear end. Oh, don't smirk... the interesting thing is, that it is not any old rear end, but mine, the very one that caused a myriad of tantrums and hysteric breakdowns which poor hubby had to endure, and it is the one which even got its very own article ... and not because it is so gorgeously pretty...

The other thing is the pale skin. I thought people were just kind when they used the term 'fair', my dad used to call it 'cheesecake'. In front of the camera this all of sudden becomes a desirable feature, and from the pictures I can tell: It works.


This is a photo therapy of a completely different kind. It is therapeutic to watch myself through the eyes of a photographer, and all of a sudden I do not see paleness but  reflecting light and contrast. It is an approach to amending the body image which I can only recommend. I find it a wee bit difficult,though, to apply this method to the rear.

Friday 25 March 2011

Getting Shot again!

I need more clothes! If I keep doing those photo shoots I definitely need more clothes. The very first shoot with Babul saw me in clothes which I am not that keen on anymore. When I started 'Project Rika' I was so disappointed to find out that my colour scheme basically was 'dirty', or 'earthy' how it is called, to give the fact that bright colours are not suitable a positive note. See, that is another confidence thing: These days I don't care a ...!
Of course I would not go into a business meeting of undertakers wearing an outfit that would make their eyes water, although that might even be the right thing to do for various reasons... However, I know all too well that in certain circumstances one has to play with the rules. Want money from a banker? Play their game and wear sophisticated!

All those years back I really learned my lessons. I know my shapes and I know the colours that go for which occasions. And like in any other subject: Once you've learned your basics you are allowed to push the envelope and start breaking the rules. OK, it really does help that I don't have to win a reputation ... or a good reputation, that is... anymore, hence I actually have places to which to wear all those colourful things I buy; not just for photo shoots.

And now I need more!

It is starting to become a task to determine which outfits to give to which photographer. Well, Babul is a glamour guy, that is fairly easy as usually not a lot of clothing is involved. The type of clothing to use in order to not end up in the page 3 department is difficult to find, though. Then there is Chris; well, again not a problem. I need to buy a decent posing bikini anyway, which should suit him well for bodybuilding photography. Matt who did the lovely burlesque/theatre style photos which I used as templates for Columnbina already booked the purple corset, asking for everything purple in my book... and Barry is in a 'moody/dramatic' phase which either asks for black or ... well... again... not a lot.

Hmmmm!? Is there a theme developing which goes into a direction of less clothing rather than more...? That could save me a lot of money.

However, at least I have black stuff now. At the beginnings of my journey, black was a forbidden fruit! Black is the colour of the undecided, the thing that always goes together, and which is not questioned in any situation, not even a summer ball. For quite some years I didn't have a single black item in my wardrobe and only a couple of years back it got introduced again, together with vibrant colours. And this will be today's theme: Everything colourful! I hope Rob will be happy with my choice.

Well, spring has arrived after all, Easter is approaching. It should fit the bill.

... and tomorrow I am off to Camden Market - I really need to do a travel blog about it, it is fabulous - and cross fingers I will burn another hole into hubby's back pocket by making the credit card smoke!

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Give March some Relief

It is such a wonderful feeling to be needed and cherrished, isn't it? I however never guessed that the company I work for could not survive without me. If all of a sudden the responsibility for thousands of people is pressing on ones shoulders it becomes a wee bit unbearable... Funnily enough, everybody else is feeling the same; so where is all that work coming from that needs to be done so urgently, as otherwise the company will get into utter disarray?

It is the most hated month of the year: March! End of Financial Year!
Everybody is exhausted from a long winter and everybody is in need of a bit of sunshine and cheerfulness, and then all the nitty-gritty bits about which nobody had cared all year round, need to be done by the 31st. Come 1st April, nobody will care a pound of sugar about it.

And now I am wondering if the people from Comic Relief thought: 'Awwww.... look at all those sad workforces, exhausted from a long winter and overworked, let's cheer them up! We should have a Red Nose Day!' It is half a year after Children in Need, and three month after Christmas. They might even be ready to give us their hard earned pennies for the fun we are providing.

Yeah, right!

See, my company decided to become a sponsor this year and set itself a target. Now, our managers seem to only know one way to reach targets - they set up score cards, meaning targets are broken down into smaller targets and dumped on the units below, and so on and so on. A standard mum would call that: Delegation! And if done right, none of the initial target will stay with the top level where it started, and all the rest is to be done by the bottom feeders of the system... that is me!

Well, to be fair I understand that substantial contributions have been made on the top level, accounting for the 'Relief' bit of 'Comic Relief'. People like me are responsible to provide the 'Comic' part of it, which given that we are in the month of March - see above - is the most difficult of all tasks. 

Additionally our managers don't seem to be really good in maths, which worries me a bit. See, if one would have a target of let's say 1000 pounds but one has only 500 people in the company, and given that a standard donation might be £1, and even if the managers - which traditionally in a company are fewer people than the work forces, although it sometimes doesn't seem to look like it - even if they would add those 'substancial contributions', and given that there are people who would not donate at all... I think you are catching my drift, and even your 5 year old could do the math and see that one has to stretch to make ends meet.

What can I say: As usual, I got called into the game quite late to do a bit of fire fighting for a few untied ends, meaning units who didn't show their face yet. I count that as either good for my reputation - 'She is able to pull those things off' - or as bad for my reputation - 'She always has a bit of time around her hands'. Hmmm?!

However, the important point is that I am late! People already have been donating several times and I am supposed to get into their pockets...

So for next year I have a couple of suggestions: 
  • Comic Relief people: Reconsider the date and do it in April. Ever heard of April fools? It even fits the scheme.
  • Companies: Let the work forces donate just the amounts they wish without making them harass each other, and for a change let your managers make fools out of themselves,...oh...?!

Friday 11 March 2011

Still holding my ground!

My day job is really trying hard to make me not pursue my personal matters, but I am not giving up just yet. So I am sitting in my car right now, scribbling in my little notebook that is supposed to take my brain snippets from the sewing course.

I have to say: Should this happen more often I really have to practice my handwriting. However, today I have to use every minute I can get hold of. So, what is it what I want to tell you...?

Nobody has bought my book during the past two days, but the days are getting longer. Not that length of the days would have anything to do with my book sales... just mentioned it as an observation of approaching spring, and in order to be positive. Eventually I am getting to the sewing  course, taking place in the middle of nowhere, fairly quickly due to the better sight, to then sit in the parking lot scribbling in notebooks, writing material which later may be used in publications... I am going circles here...

... like the rather mushy matter in my head. I started off  this morning at 5AM to make it in time for dance class at 8. Viennese Waltz... that must have given my brain the first unfortunate spin and then the day moved on to organising an event for Comic Relief which, if done under time pressure and when a thousand other task are awaiting attendance, is not a comical affair at all. In a short while I will be thrown into the world of fashion, threatened by the task of amending a cut pattern... meaning  a lot of measuring... that's gonna be interesting. Well, the outcome of it will be, given the messed up interior of my head.

Gotta go dears, the master of scissors and needles is calling!

Ta ta

Thursday 10 March 2011

Still a Confidence Thing

I thought publishing a book would be hard!  Now I have to realise that taking the criticism for it is even harder. I realise that I am becoming utterly defensive... defensive is not good, defensive the way I feel it is the opposite of confident, defensive is counter productive.

So, let's look at the facts!

The book is completely self published,
  • it never saw a native speaker editing it, and hence it probably has as many mistakes as it has words. 
  • it never saw a native speaker editing it, and hence it completely reflects the way I think, act and talk.

In mathematical terms this would mean that my thinking, acting, and talking is rather awkward. Hmm?! True!

Language wise this reflects in a persistent misuse of prepositions, mixing up tenses, and mixing up the phrase structure. I am sure that somewhere somebody has a collection of phrases in which I turned a serious matter into something utterly ridiculous by messing with the English language.

Does it matter? I don't think it does! At least not in this case.

I do admire people like Victoria Coren or Stephen Fry. Oh, the wit that comes from the precision with which words and grammar are used. I have to admit: I never will get to that quality. At least not in my lifetime. I only could achieve their standards by using an editor. But would this be the right choice, I wonder?

If I were to write a novel, in which the story line has to be crisp, the characters solid, their language precise according to the role they play... or if it were a documentary, aiming to be as depictive and focused as possible, then yes, surely.

My book is neither of those. I needed about two years to be able to classify it. I eventually came across a writer/lecturer who, in one of his articles, elaborated on what makes a good memoir. And then I knew, that's what it is. Every story is a momento, a recollection I wanted to keep safe, or a thought that I have been shifting through my little grey cells over and over again. Some of the stories, although it may not seem so, were born out of hard labour. I would have had to pay a shrink a lot of money for the same outcome. So I am asking: How would I ever be able to let an editor touch those stories? This person who would not  know anything about my life, might rightly so ask me what I thought, and what I wanted to express, in order to find me a better phrase... to be honest... I wouldn't know the answer!

Once I had written about it, the problem was gone, I eventually could move on, I had gained another bit of freedom. I guess, that I am just am not willing to look back. Now that I have learned, through those very stories, how to keep my outlook forward, nothing will make me go back just for that little bit of compliance towards the English language.

So the question for me is not how to create the perfectly phrased book, but whether or not people understand what I am saying. An English colleague read the teaser and his instant response was: Oh, that's sweet! I can hear you talk when I read this. And when I explained my dilemma he responded: 'I do understand it perfectly fine!'

What else would I want to wish for?

Wednesday 23 February 2011

An inspirational woman

I have this piece of writing sitting around as a draft since a while, and after having elaborated on my opinion in regard to beauty yesterday,  it feels just right to finish it now. I saw this woman for the first time in a drawing. A painter who I adore had used her as a model. I was so fascinated by the face that I investigated further, found her name and then Google exploded: Just try Carmen Dell'Orefice and google for images.

Why her? There are so many others who changed how we see the world, like Mother Teresa, Jane Goodall or Dian Fossey. I do admire them, I do get inspired by them, but I feel so small compared to what they have achieved. Never will I be able to reach their potential.

So, what is so different about this woman who is just a model, the most vivid depiction of superficial?

She is still there at age 79. She is making her living in a job where age matters, and she still is a supermodel. It shows that beauty is not just an outer layer. Grace is a word often used in context with her name.

See, at almost 50 I am starting to ask myself if I will still be able to achieve what I want. I have so many ideas and wishes and most of them rank around performances and creative stuff. However vain this may sound,  I am longing for a bit of publicity, I'd like to cause a bit of a stir here and there. I didn't choose that as my life's dream from a shop shelf. It came to me quite naturally, and as things are now as they are, it would be quite useful to have a body in good working order with a certain appeal to go with it. And occasionally it feels like running out of time.

You may wonder why on earth I am aspiring to doing all this now, and not some decades ago when age wouldn't have been an issue. Well, interests change:

I will never forget when my mum asked me at age 10 or 12 if I would like to have a subscription of a fashion magazine as one of those traders were at our doorstep. She meant so well and I declined; I feel bad about it now. Money was short at our house and this offer was of an extraordinary treat. I even remember what I did when she asked. It was a searing hot summer and I was weeding the roses in our garden. I guess that I remember so well, shows how touched I was by this gesture, but I was so little into fashion that I declined nevertheless. And today I would kill for becoming a model or being able to design my own fashion... Will I be able to still achieve it?... Of course I will... If I really want to, I will! And this woman shows me that there doesn't have to be an age limit for any business!

And although she is very beautiful, and always was, this is not what makes her success. It is her charisma and her style which make her later pictures even much more powerful than the younger ones, and which have been radiating even from the painting I saw. It is confidence that wins the game for her, and this is not something one has, or has not. It can be gained! It is the confidence that inspires. Well, probably that is what I am actually after: If I could inspire only one person to achieve something they never thought possible... That would be a legacy, wouldn't it? And the age thing? Well, if we could take age out of the equation, then we would gain time. This woman shows that one is never too old to do anything. Only the sky is the limit!

Tuesday 22 February 2011

How important is Beauty?

A new TV show called Beauty & The Beast triggered a thought: How important is beauty to me?

The show pairs a pretty person from an industry promoting beauty with a person who is rather seriously deformed, either by genetic disorder or accident, to see how they discuss the matter. The show is actually quite well made and I was wondering how prejudiced I am.

So I imagined myself in an interview and being asked this question: How important is beauty to you?

And here is my, as usual, elaborate answer:

Beauty is important! It is important because that is how society works. And it does work like this in all cultures. The beauty signals may be different, but they nevertheless are there. Beauty opens doors!

Beauty alone however does not work. A beautiful face combined with a nasty personality is usually quickly uncovered as a nasty personality... the beauty aspect vanishes. On the other hand, a friendly person who is lacking beauty, but has style and panache, and who is doing the best out of what is there, will eventually get the doors to open as well, and they will stay open.

Hence it seems that for a person it is more important to not just focus on beauty as the most obvious and visible asset, but to get to know ones assets altogether. True to the motto: Know your assets and use them to your best advantage.

Additionally it is important to be aware that assets have varying shelf lives. There are the ones which one is likely to keep, like smartness. Only in severe accidents or illnesses one might lose it and then one has problems of an altogether different kind.

There are the ones, like money, of which one should know how they got acquired, how they can be lost, and how they can be regained if one would wish to do so.

And then there are the ones one will lose for sure, like beauty. Age will kill it, and although age bears a particular beauty in itself, it is not of the kind that opens doors. There are no two ways about it, that there will be a time in life when cuteness will have left, and one might want to aspire having it replaced by something more durable by then. Trying to preserve it in desperation quite likely will lead to being a tragic figure... the examples in the media are plentiful.

So yes, beauty is important and if one has it, one should use it as long as it lasts. It however is as important to bank on other assets as well. The ones, who don't have beauty, will have to build those assets a bit earlier in life, which might actually give them an advantage over the formerly beautiful faces later in life. 

Life is not fair? Well, sometimes it is!

Monday 21 February 2011

I learned something...

... yes, I think I did!

See, there are those people out there, who seems to get everything done, they dance through life, everything seems to be so effortless, and success always falls into their lap. How do they do that?

The other day I got a glimpse of it: I had put some iron into the fire from which the prospect developped to do some things I always wanted to do,and then they all happened at the same time. Typical: For once I don't have to work hard to find the opportunities, and then everything is cramped into just a few month. And for once I didn't use this as an excuse to not get started and jumped on the chances provided.

Then panic kicked in: Deadline for book approaching much faster than expected, sewing course turning out to be so interesting that one wouldn't want to miss a stitch and starting to do homework, while book illustrations were screaming for attention; dance class taking up twice the number of hours due to actually not being to bad at it and wanting to stay ahead of the game, while... see above... and then the all demanding training for the bodybuilding competition, for which I still don't have a clue how to pose, let alone doing a one minute posing routine to music, plus getting pricked for vaccinations ever so often as the icing of the cake will be a trip to Sumatra.

All very nice things to have ahaed, but there was an entire decade of nothing really substantial happening... well, we bought the house back then, that was exciting, but after I decided to become a secretary life became somewhat was less thrilling. And now all those things are happening, bearing the prospect of even more excitement in the future, given that this phase would be completed successfully.

So, I decided to get a cold. Feeling rather under the weather I dragged myself to dance class, hoping that hubbys strong shoulders would compensate for my weak legs. And then the amazing thing happened: One of the biggest of my problems got solved!

In the attempt of getting a rest I started chatting with the trainer, mentioned the upcoming competition and my dilema with the choreography and there it was: One of her team had done that before. He choreographed a routine for a bodybuilder about three years ago. Being utterly thrilled about this door opening in front of me, I didn't ask if she won, though!

However, sometimes it's worthwhile to stop bothering and just let things flow. Successful people seem to just trust that things will happen if they are worthwhile to happen, they put loads of irons into the fire and when one is ready to be hit by the hammer, then they go for it.

We will know in a 3 month time, whether or not I will be blessed by success ... but who knows? We might not know until much later,even. Whatever the outcome, I will have met new people, and they will know me. I will have new aliances in this networking game, as will they. Even in case of a failure I might win in the end, as this experience might be just a little piece in a much bigger puzzle which I don't even know yet that I am playing it!

Wednesday 2 February 2011

Politeness backfiring

Why can politeness be so annoying at times? I always thought politeness is a set of rules to make social life easier. One knows how to greet, how to farewell, to talk, to walk, to eat, without offending others. Right?

Nope, actually!

The key word is 'social life'; enter a different society and completely other things are considered to be polite. Hence looking from a different angle, then this implies that those rules of politeness discriminate against individuals who behave differently.

Due to my recent Bodybuilding challenge I have entered this sensitive territory of 'food stuffs'. I have to very carefully monitor what I eat and when I eat it. So for example I do go to restaurants  which have a variety of different food and if I have a days notice, as I then can plan for it. If I am invited to pizza I will join the party for the social aspect, but not eat, as every single ingredient in a pizza is off limits for me. I am entirely happy with it as I am not missing anything. I do not feel like being on a diet, as I am eating balanced and would actually love to eat like this for good. There is just that tiny little hiccup: I am not the norm.

Politeness dictates that the host has to offer food; it dictates as well that the guest has to take it!

In not eating I am breaking this rule and an explanation is requested. This is fair enough, I started the game and I am willing to do my bit to remedy the situation.

This however is where my ranting actually begins: In my experience I not only have to provide an explanation, I have to take the mickey out of myself, I have to put on a show to entertain everybody with my ridiculous ideas, I have to be prepared to go through questioning similar to inquisition, and even after I have done all that, food and drink is offered to me in regular intervals so that I have to feel ridiculed over and over again.

If I would not eat for religious reasons, none of that would happen. One does not touch religion, does one? The politeness rule 'do not offend or tease religious people' trumps over the rule 'one must offer food'. Some years ago vegetarians or vegans had similar problems. Since this type of diet became fashionable and has created it's own society the rules have changed. Unfortunately there is no trump rule for people on a personal challenge.

The interesting thing is that generally I am getting admired for setting myself a task, people are claiming to support me, but as soon as I am touching social convention all this is forgotten. I would like people to understand that politeness is a good thing, but that it has the power to discriminate if not used sensibly. The polite thing would be, to break the rules!

Friday 21 January 2011


Am I religious?

NO! I am certainly not!

I worked hard to not be. There however is this question that keeps cropping up:

What will I leave behind?

It may be vanity that I want to leave a legacy, and not just a material one. There are however so many things which people do, indicating that they feel the same. And that keeps me wondering if firstly, that might be a rather natural thing to wish for and secondly, if that is not basically the main thing about religion? And what is religion, faith, belief, anyway? And why are there so many words for basically the same thing? Do people want to destinct themselves, like spiritual belief is religious, political belief is not, a leap of faith can be anything...?

Those are concepts much too big for my little brain. Philosophers have been fighting about those since man came into existance and started thinking. And yes: I said 'fighting'! Haven't so many wars started with: If we don't defend what we have - estate, culture, beliefs - how can we then leave something behind, where is our legacy? We all want to be referred to as 'our ancesters' by future generations.

So by thinking about my legacy, I may have committed to some sort of belief system. And be it my own... which might, would it be joined by enough other like minded souls, well be a religion... Maybe it's as easy as that!

And what do I belive in? Similarities, understanding, common sense, that sharing can provide 'the whole' for everybody rather than dividing into parts. And in regard to the legacy thing? I believe in the atoms and molecules I am built of. The thought that I will be rotting away one day and that a tree might find me utterly nutritious is rather reassuring. It means that the world will go round without me in it. And if before that happens my corpse should be found worthy enough to take bits and pieces from it  to benefit somebody else, it would make me proud. Well, it would if I were there, but you know what I mean...

The 'me' I am looking at in the mirror every morning is nothing but borrowed molecules from nature:

Let's use it as efficiently as possible,
Let's keep it in good working order, and
Let's join the Organ Donor Register

I did!

Thursday 6 January 2011

Tuesday 4 January 2011