Monday, December 10, 2018

The World Won't End

As I am writing this, it is the second Advent Sunday and I have not written (let alone made/bought) a single Christmas card. I am also not making any photo calendars this year as I feel I am lacking a good "theme" for them and don't want to hastily patch something together just for the sake of it. Will the world end and my friends commit suicide if they don't get a card from me in the post this year (I could always claim they got lost...ooops, did I just say that out loud?!)
Despite the fact that I baked like a maniac again these past weeks (which is no chore, however, as I seriously enjoy it) I am really determined not to get stressed in the run-up to Christmas. Presents for the 3 people I am gifting something to (my parents and my godchild) are wrapped and the small pressies I am exchanging with a handful of friends are organised as well and I am giving shopping areas and popular Christmas markets a wide berth. Somehow, all my evenings in December got "booked" weeks ago, which ended with me decorating cookies late at night, but I don't mind it. I just don't want to add any unnecessary stress on top of that and deliberately stop to thing if it's worth the hassle. I want to enjoy my nicely decorated flat and have enough time to sit in my comfortable lounge chair with a cup of tea or coffee and not just run around in a frenzy trying to get things done that nobody expects from me, really. 

Monday, December 03, 2018

Been There, Done That

As previously mentioned, I learnt the "hard" way that it's not quite the same renewing your frequent traveller status due to business travel during the week as flying around every other weekend is. NOT reflected in the statistics above are 2 free flights I redeemed with my miles (Bukarest and Sofia respectively), by the way. Let's just say, I certainly did my part in keeping Austrian Airlines up and running...erm...flying this year, this time with my own money Will I do it again in 2019? Nope. Definitely not with this frequency. While I will probably always love travelling and exploring new places for as long as my mind and body allow me, I have realised that I want more down time at home in between, for getting things done, catching up with friends and appreciating beautiful Vienna.  I do already have 5 (!) flights booked for 2019 at this stage and have more plans, but am really trying to avoid flying somewhere 4 weekends in a row as I did this May for example. 

Monday, November 26, 2018


Recently, I immersed myself into various strengths-based personality tests and communication models at work and was particularly intrigued both by the overlap and consistency among them when it came to my own test results. They all seem to agree that empathy, curiosity and adaptability are among my top strengths. What I find more surprising is that I'm also apparently perceived as an "achiever" by others, an attribute which I would not have used to describe myself. I once more became aware that - at least professionally - I have changed SO much over the past 20+ years and if you had known me then or been my coworker you would probably hardly recognise me as exposure to an American corporate culture in a competitive environment has really toughened me and made me quite resilient. Deep down, I am still same old me with the occasional attack of imposter syndrome, but I have learnt to sell myself better (apart from the fact that "bullshit bingo" has become second nature for me...) and to take any form of unsettling change in my stride. It's still not always easy, but you might sometimes even think I'm a pro...
Work-life aside, it really feels good to not obsess over somebody (occasional lapses aside!) 24/7 when you know they probably don't think of you at all, but to be able to think straight and focus on life as such instead. Not always as easy to execute, but for now it suits me fine and feels way better than compromising with somebody who does not treat me the way I want to be treated. An achievement indeed!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Chill Factor: 9/10

As the year is drawing to an end, I am coming to the realisation that 2018 definitely has been the year I felt I have both grown up - as stupid as it may sound - a LOT and felt as happy and alive as I have not in a long time. Not only happy, but also extremely chilled, too.
It's incredibly empowering to give toxic and negative people a wide berth and learn how to stay unfazed by them so you can focus on what makes you happy and gives you energy. This holds true for your professional as much as your private life and saves a lot of time that would otherwise have been (ab)used for worrying and analysing. Not compromising (as much) and letting actions, not words speak when it comes to deciding how much time to spend with a person really does pay off and ultimately makes you like your own company so much more. I realise I sound like a cheap self-help manual, but, hey, it only took me 46 years to practice what I have been preaching to others on many occasions. Not saying it's easy, but definitely worth trying.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Win Win

The weekend I got back from Hong Kong I tackled something long overdue: putting my "retired", but theoretically functional photo printer complete with spare cartridges on the classifieds platform of my choice and while I was at it, also added the old little tube TV from my spare bedroom that had been sitting there unused for years. I did not want any money for them, so I marked the ads as "for free". Within minutes I was bombarded by e-mails (see the screenshot above for a small portion of them), the printer being particularly popular, and that same evening the ad went live a nice lady who lives in my district came to pick it up. A few days later, a friendly young gentlemen whom I had prioritised as he actually wrote a very polite e-mail complete with correct grammar (unlike the monosyllabic e-mails of the majority of interested people) came to pick up the TV.
As always when I give away things for free (in the past: furniture, old cassette tapes, random things I won in prize draw...) I feel this immense sense of gratification: with minimal effort I managed to declutter and rid myself of objects I did not have use for and made someone else really happy. I'm now motivated to continue on this decluttering mission. If not online, I will just get rid of things via our building's unofficial "flea market corner" by the entrance, where everyone just puts the things they don't want anymore and is free to pick up somebody else's stuff if they like any of it. So far, I have only ever been on the contributing, not the receiving end, but I love the convenience and simplicity of it.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Adventures with a Safety Net

Last week I was in Hong Kong, a city I had already visited in 2004. Since then, I found it has become "japanised" and probably to an even greater extent, "koreanised" a lot. Every other store seems to be a cosmetic one (I wish I could remember what was AS popular before, i.e .what these chains replaced) and I was delighted to even find several branches of my favourite Korean cosmetics brand.
Far Eastern countries are my favourite holiday destinations and would definitely not say no if I got dispatched to either Tokyo, Seoul or Hong Kong for a year on a nice expat contract. I have repeatedly thought about quite what attracts me to them so much and think that it can be summarised as: exotic, but safe and familiar at the same time. While these cities might be way busier than cosy little Vienna and I don't really understand any of the local languages, it is easy to navigate them with everything written in English on public transport and subway exits usually numbered and lettered following a very logical and foreigner-friendly system. Even if you get lost somewhere late at night or encounter an unexpected problem you feel safe and locals are friendly and helpful even if they only speak rudimentary English. It might sound rather adventurous to some people who don't travel much at all to visit those countries as an individual traveller and I sometimes get asked if it was not difficult to get around since I didn't know the language, but in fact it's actually an "Asia light" experience all the way and I am assuming that countries like Laos, Cambodia, or Myanmar might be the really brave choices. Then again, for all I know, their capital cities might have Korean cosmetics stores popping up as I type this...

Monday, October 29, 2018

Can Do!

Whereas at the Firm I worked with a lot of people who had no shortage of confidence and believed they were incredibly SMART and AMAZING (caps intended) as the company also kept reminding them, at Household Name, I am often surprised at how baffled people often are if somebody does something that is not within their actual job-description and that they assumed only experts could do. I sometimes facilitate workshops (the picture above is from the most recent one) and it's clearly no rocket science that I do. I would never regard myself an expert by any means, but I just watched other people do it and try to deliver what the person who commissioned it would like as an outcome. In fact, I am almost embarrassed when somebody congratulates me on something that I don't think is a big deal at all and always want to should "YOU can do it, too, you know! You only need to try it." I never received any formal training as a trainer, nor as a facilitator and have often rendered "services" that might well be called "coaching" or "mentoring", my main approach (arguably, the only one) being to use common sense and negative definition. By that I mean that when designing a workshop I just think of the many boring ones I have attended myself where the day felt endless and I could not see the point of the exercises. I don't force others to do what I would hate as a participant myself and that seems to go remarkably well. Sometimes I think I should offer a workshop with the goal to empower others to have a go at things they otherwise would have hired an "expert" for...
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