Resolved

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? I have developed the habit of setting goals and planning for reaching my goals, and making resolutions is part of the strategy. However, I am not good in making commitments, so my resolutions often end up as wishes.

This does not mean I wouldn’t reach my goals. You could argue that a good plan is flexible enough to catch a chance and that making a useful resolution is not so much about ‘what to do’ but rather about ‘where to go’. It focuses the mind. I found that not keeping resolutions very often is a sign that the goal was not clear. E.g., like many people I used to make resolutions like ‘do more sports’ or ‘lose weight’. With resolutions like that you set yourself up to failure. Nobody wants to do more sports or lose weight. We want to be fit, feel sexy or release our back pain.

With the goal in mind, keeping resolutions becomes much easier. If you want to learn about setting good goals have a look at Frau Junge’s post. Making resolutions should not be something you avoid because you found you never keep them. Thinking about the direction of your life and whether you are heading where you want to end up is useful. And the beginning of a new year, with the pages still blank, is a good time to do so on a regular basis. Just be careful to set resolutions which are meaningful to you and help you reach your goals.

The most important resolution I made for 2016 is to actually check items on my bucket list. This list currently holds 116 items, and only no. 116 is already done (tried water ski; my left knee is wracked now, but it was fun). I still put stuff on the list whenever I feel like, and I have been working towards some of the long term items (such as performing with my favourite artists) as well as on my patience towards the items I cannot influence, like becoming a grandmother. This year I promise myself to turn to some of the adventurous, cool short term items.

I also decided on my next field study. You will learn more about it in due course.

If you want to, feel free to share your resolutions in the comment section.

Back again: Stroke of Midnight

Ah, a new year! I love this part of the year, when everything seems possible just because I had to buy a new calendar. It feels as if with those 365 new blank pages life gets a reset.

Of course, that’s bullshit. Nothing changes just because the majority of mankind now uses another year when writing down dates. Nevertheless, the end of the old year has been a great opportunity to party ever since. At least until I became a mother of a son who hates parties. And who suffers from anxiety partly bound to time passing by, which makes celebrating New Year’s Eve more of a crisis intervention rather than anything else.

Hence, I spent last night at home. We watched ‘Dinner for one’ together, just as every year. We had nice dinner ourselves and then I was reading a book while the son did whatever he does when he is online with his programming community. At midnight I went down with the neighbours to have some firework, and then made some more food before we went to bed.

Did I mention that I hate that? Although, not hating, no. I am lazy, I like to be on my own and I love spending time with the son. But, that’s not how I want to meet the New Year. Ever since, I wanted to spend New Year’s Eve at a fancy cocktail party with live music and people dressed up in long dresses and suits. I never did. And I have no idea why. Except that I did not throw this party myself. And I don’t know people who do throw parties like that.

But that’s what I want to do on New Year’s Eve: Wear a beautiful dress, drink Cosmopolitan and dance with a gorgeous man when the band plays love songs. And at midnight, we watch the firework and make plans for the next 365 days.

Harvesting

I love Autumn. Which is easy when it is hot like summer, as this week in Northern Germany 🙂

I love everything about it. I love the amazing variety of colours. I also like the fresh greens of Spring or the deep blue of a Summer’s ocean or the bright white of fresh snow. But my favourite time of the year is Autumn. It is still fairly warm and the days have enough sunny hours to prevent you from thinking ahead to depression February. I celebrate my birthday in Autumn. So maybe I like it because it was the first shade of light I saw.

But most of all, Autumn is the time to bring in the harvest. It is a time when people get back to working routine after their summer vacations. I use to go through my to-do-lists and decide what I want to accomplish before the end of the year, and what to let go. And that makes me work on very focused. It is always an active time, but different from Summer when being busy and having fun is more of a social pressure you have to obey to. In Autumn, you can take care for your own goals again. Harvesting has elements of both: earning what you seeded, and preparing for the next year by bringing in the first new seed.

Hence, I use Autumn to discuss project ideas which might be realised in the next year. And I try to close whatever possible before Winter comes. I have no idea why I am still so close to the change of seasons. Maybe it’s the legacy of farming people in my family history – although my grand-grandfather was the last farmer (I talked about my family developing through the generations from farming to academia in another post). Anyway, sometimes I think, that’s also why I don’t like to eat right after waking up. I normally feel like working a few hours before having breakfast. Like, you know, before you can have your cereals, you have to milk the cow.

I’m thinking of attending university dressed up on Halloween. Is that too crazy for a lecturer? And, would you join me and wear costumes in your jobs?

Cheers, Nae73

Saying Yes

I mentioned elsewhere that I am taking acting lessons, didn’t I? This year is about improvisional theatre, and we started this week with a great first lesson. Our teacher has created an environment where everyone seems to feel safe and comfortable to try out new things. She gave us a homework for the whole year, and that is: say yes.

Those who often say No may be safe, but those who say Yes have more fun.

I laughed, because one of the movies I totally like is Yes Man, where Jim Carrey is cursed to say yes to everything and ends up happy, making lots of other people happy, too. Every time I watch the movie I feel like ‘I should totally do that’. And I never do. While I am happily accepting clients to bother me with demands for unpaid extra services, I would not drive an hour and a half to party. That’s so silly.

At the end of the movie, when the curse breaks, we learn that saying yes includes knowing when to say no. But you can switch the habbit of being against things.

I am curious where this term might lead me, saying yes. What should you say yes to?

Cheers, Nae73

Can I swap everyone’s gender, too?

I just realised that I do not have enough male friends. Or: I only know handsome guys and smart ladies. But I’d make for a poor Penny anyway. So, with the cast change I’d have to turn TBBT into a tale of female nerds.

Which would be:

  • Me as the ‘not crazy – my mother had me tested’ Dr. Dr. Sheldonia Cooper. And R. as my lovely partner who accepts me as I am.
  • A. as Dr. Leonardine Hofstadter. Smart, nice, but with a tendency to servility.
  • The wonderful, creative K. as Howard Zarah Wolowitz, and Mr. R. as her surprisingly successful husband.
  • J. as Dr. Rajesh Simone Koothrappali. She’s better when she’s not talking, too.
  • Who could live next door and just be pretty? … Mhm… Oh, that would be my boss S.

Coming to think of it: I am the casting director! Instead of a transgender season I could have a casting where my (male) friends have to tell me which role they want. Is there an English word for the German ‘Besetzungscouch’?

And then I would love to play Leonard’s mother 🙂

Cheers, Nae73

Whiskey Sour

15 years or so ago, my best friend decided that she wanted to be a barkeeper. She was hanging out with this guy who had his own bar and soon she was working her ass off for him. She also tried to jump off my balcony when he left her, but that’s another story.

When she had recovered, she started learning how to make cocktails, and she also practiced how to make a show from mixing. It killed my illusions about Tom Cruise when I learned that for show barkeeping they do not use the actual bottles required for your chosen drink 😦

I can’t remember when I had my first Whiskey Sour. Bourbon, sugar, lemon juice. And a cherry. What a fresh kick! It makes the classy Bourbon look hot, and that’s pretty much the way I like life. Most barkeepers use too much sugar. But I prefer it Sour. 

The weirdest one I had in London, at The Hoxton. They serve Whiskey Sour with egg white. That’s disgusting. It was an interesting opener for my date, though, drinking egg white. Maybe that’s why they do it…

I have some more guilty pleasures.

  • Baileys I can’t withstand. If you like it, too, have you ever tried Häagen Dasz Baileys? If you really want to spoil your diet: there you go!
  • Coca Cola. Real coke. With sugar and caffeine. Not this crap with artificial sugar which gives you cancer and diabetes. And not Pepsi!
  • Red wine, dry. Preferrably from Italy: Chianti or Bardolino. 
  • Cosmopolitan: The occasional alternative to Whiskey Sour when I’m out with the girls.
  • Guinness. I miss Great Britain.
  • Pina Colada: The sweet holiday feeling.
  • Capuccino. Unfortunately, you rarely find a really good one.
  • Earl grey tea with some milk. For when I try once more to reduce my coffee input. Or to feel brit.

Interestingly, I just realise that coffee is not on the list. That’s a sign for an addiction, I guess, drinking it anyway.

It’s 8.30 am at my place, time for breakfast. Now I want Bourbon. Damn.

Cheers, Nae73

A world without FGM

I think the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a great move. It raises awareness in a fun way, and there is nothing wrong with entertaining people if it makes some of them think twice. I wish I had come up with an idea like that. There are several causes and ideas I find worthy to support: equality, democracy (as long as I am not Queen), mental health, to name but a few; and there are things I passionately fight: stupidity, racism, environmental pollution. But my heart beats for women’s rights. Not because I am not aware that many men needed support, too. But because I happen to be a woman. And I think it is reasonable to put your energy into something you can attach to emotionally. When I studied education, I learned about child abuse and the unspeakable tortures some kids go through. And I decided I did not want to work with victims. I wanted to prevent people from suffering, and that’s what I subscribed to ever since.

I turned to women’s rights, became a self defence teacher and learned more about the social structures which support violence. I learned that the urge to control female sexuality, or the group’s reproduction, is part of many, many cultures. Sometimes it happens quite subtle, e.g. by calling women sluts when they are too active. Sometimes it’s more obvious, e.g. making women wear scarfs. Sometimes it is masked as care, like allowing your son to stay out late with his friends while telling your daughter’s boyfriend to bring her home on time. But the most disgusting, horrifying, brutal method to control women’s reproductive power is female genital mutilation, also know as FGM.

If you never heard of it, you might be shocked when you learn that FGM in its various forms includes cutting off a girl’s inner and / or outer labia and / or clitoris with a razor blade, or scissors, often enough on the floor, without anesthesia or any basic hygiene. Well, at least in most countries. There are practitioners in Germany, Great Britain, the US (for example) who carry out this procedure in their clinics. Can you believe that! The girl is then closed again, sewed up with a tiny hole left for her urin and monthly blood. This causes pain and infections and requires her to be cut again for giving birth or even having sex. I cannot think of many tortures like that. The thing is that in societies which practice FGM parents have to do that to their daughters. ‘Intact’ women are regared unworthy to be married, hence to stay part of the community. It takes a lot to break up such complex situations.

I adore those activists who talk about their own experiences, like Waris Dirie, and I support a few women’s right’s organisations financially. I wish I did more. A world without FGM is a goal worth fighting for. A world in which no man or woman has to be afraid to be attacked for who they are is a worthy goal. Not one person can save the whole world. But every person can make it a little better. Find your cause and act on it! Be it human rights, environmental protection, animal rights, or even something seemingly banal like making people laugh.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by all the things that need to fixed. Then I remember Mother Teresa: We can do no great things – only small things with great love.

What is your cause?

Wonders, Nae73