So Busy

Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days

When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out

Stressed Out by 21 Pilots

During one of my jobs I had to sit down with a colleague to discuss a project we had been working on together. I had made careful notes in preparation for our meeting, while handling other tasks and calculating how much longer I would have to work that day to make up for having to leave earlier later in the week. At the same time I might have made a to-do-list for my after-work grocery shopping and worried about a friend who was not doing well.

As I I walked together with my co-worker to our conference room and politely asked how he was doing, he replied with a frustrated sigh, “Oh, it’s been crazy, I’ve just been so busy, just this constant load of things to do. I’m so stressed, I barely have any time.” He looked disgusted, as if someone was personally inconveniencing him. OK, the fact that I already knew him to be not the most reliable colleague and disregarding of efforts made by others contributed to the lightning-speed reaction in my head. What I thought was, Buddy, I’ve been here twice as long as you, and you think I’m NOT busy? Or anyone else?

Maybe it’s all in the wording. Maybe we react stronger to those who repeat something like the above, while not asking us how we are doing. Maybe both my natural state of positivity and my desire to maintain it drives me to say, I need to finish some things first, but I could get back to you * insert suggestion here *.

I have seen this time and time again, both in the workplace and outside of it, people who visibly do not trouble themselves or rush to exhibit involvement, committment, dedication, discipline, who cancel plans at a moment’s notice or simply don’t show up. They are surprisingly eloquent and clear as soon as they start talking about being “stressed”, while those at their desks rarely do. Why? Simple! One group has time to talk and the other doesn’t.

We all feel stressed or tired, we all share about it. We’re all busy most of the time. Sometimes you do have a hard day and end up talking only about your own experience. But the way it seems to work normally is saying, Wow, I’m just so wiped out from today, thanks for understanding, or I did this and that and now this, I just want to put my feet up, have a nice evening. Because the truth is, most of us are regularly stressed, tired or busy. There are rare exceptions, but I can’t think of any. It’s just the way life is, and the broader issue is how to deal with it and make sure you’re alright in the process.

I also think it’s pretty galling for people with less experience and a poor track record, in any context, to confidently tell someone on the opposite end of the spectrum about the tough time they are having. . .dealing with a sudden busy day, especially when half of what they are supposed to do ends up not being done. Again.

Whenever these encounters happen, I always come back to the same passage in one of Mindy Kaling’s books.

“. . . I do not think stress is a legitimate topic of conversation, in public anyway. No one ever wants to hear how stressed out anyone else is, because most of the time everyone is stressed out. Going on and on in detail about how stressed out I am isn’t conversation. It’ll never lead anywhere. No one is going to say, “Wow, Mindy, you really have it especially bad. I have heard some stories of stress, but this just takes the cake.I don’t believe anyone will ever give me a cake just like that, so I will simply bake my own.

As soon as I stop being so damn busy.

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Journals Are…

Therapeutic.

Easy to keep, take with you and store.

Irresistible! The lure of a blank page, a page that belongs only to you.

Available in every single size, design and layout you can think of.

Easy to customize if you’d rather have something individual. Get a plain one and go DIY.

A legitimate excuse to either buy pens in a variety of colours or grab free ones whereever you see them.

A relief for those thinking what to give you for your birthday or Christmas.

Something you can find around the world to bring back with you.

A time capsule.

A source of something to do wherever you may be.

A possible harmless obsession.

Fashionable! Writing has never gone out of style and every day I see at least one adult scribbling away in a notebook.

There for you to put down whatever you want, without judgement, scrutiny or distractions from anyone else.

 

 

What to Wear #17

I’m feeling very…what’s the word…chill today, and as sometimes happens I don’t want to spend a lot of time putting an outfit together, so I go for one of the pre-set, tried and tested combos that always works, regardless of what I have going on in the office and after Feierabend.

The stone grey jeggings are very comfortable and chic at the same time, so I’ve got that whole From Day to Night! thing covered, or as they say in Russian, from the ship to the ball (I always loved that saying). They are also slightly high-waisted, which is nice in these windy times and, as it turns out, quite flattering, at least it feels that way for me. Add the fact that they are long enough, and I might just start spontaneously singing Hallelujah.

A loose black jersey top accompanies the jeggings, and since they are grey, the whole look isn’t too severe – my small goal whenever wearing black. Sparkling stud earrings for accessories and I’m ready to go.

I’ve stopped to think, plenty of times, actually, that all this might seem superficial. These are just clothes, after all. You read the news, try to make sense of current events and catch yourself thinking, what does it matter what I wear now? You imagine not sitting down to write all this, and that emtying sadness starts creeping around your mind, as if all other feelings related to the aforementioned weren’t enough.

So I ask myself some questions.

Do I enjoy putting outfits together? Yes, I always have ever since I started doing it. Do I enjoy the space of time the process gives me? Yes, not only is it relaxing, it makes me think, it’s another way to get my creative juices flowing, to examine memories, recall ideas, savour anticipation. What will happen if I put an outfit together? I will put it on and wear it. What’s more, it’s a guarantee that I’m definitely going outside. And if I go outside, I will do things, see my friends, take pictures and get that hard-earned Franzbrötchen.

That’s all it’s about, really, getting from one moment to the next. No harm in looking the way I like while doing so.

 

What to Wear #1

Yep, the dark cherry/magenta/or is it dark fuchsia dress with the three quarter sleeves. It’s tailored very nicely, but it does look better without that sneaky winter flab around the waistline and hips, which I have hopefully (begun to) shed (a little). On the other hand, who cares, I want to wear it and I sure as heck will. Always liked that A-line skirt, slightly 50s, though it’s a wee bit short for tights, so no tights, let’s get the box of leggings down. I love rummaging around in there.

It’s funny how you sometimes come back to the things you wore practically “Eight days a weeeek” as a child, and thankfully they are available and acceptable as adult clothes now. I did want to walk to work, and it might be windy in this windy city of Hamburg, so leggings definitely are the better choice (no desire for a Seven Year Itch situation here), plus if it does get warmer during the day and stays sunny, I might pop out to the park during lunch with the book I’m dying to finish, almost 640 pages, but what do you expect from a Swedish crime thriller like The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler.

OK, let’s go with the flower-patterned leggings. I think those flowery high heels in the Love’s Just a Feeling music video by the one and only Lindsey Stirling imprinted themselves on my brain tissue. Figures, shoes. She directed the video, atta girl, I think I’ll watch it again after I’m done here, her creative energy and drive are just so uplifting. The light pink blossoms with the darker bits on the petals pick up the hue of the dress and I always thought the turquoise-ish of the other flowers was a good contrast to dark cherry/magenta/or is it dark fuchsia.

The dress zipper is gold, so I guess that means the same for accessories (pet peeve). Gold hoop earrings from Claire’s and those three rings I can stack up, one small round stone on each – fuchsia, turquoise, dark beige, each one picks up on the flowers on the leggings too. I can wear these with so many outfits, because the rings harmonize with each other and as long as one goes with the outfit color scheme, I can get away with wearing them all.

Oh yes, shoes, always important, “Come on, feet” – Labyrinth is such a great movie, maybe I’ll watch it after I watch Love’s Just a Feeling. It’s too warm for boots during the day, but it’s still chilly around the ankles in the morning, and who likes being chilly around the ankles? Leg-warmers for the walk it is, the 80s never went away, but as I told a friend recently, one practically always has a scarf at hand in this city, and leg-warmers are essentially scarves for the legs! Genius! Layers! “Onions have layers. Ogres have layers… You get it? We both have layers.”

Monday Diary: Rise Up Lights and Beauty and the Beast Trailer

Seriously, just try this, and see if you can ever stop thinking about this phrase in a new light (feeble pun!):

As shared on Girl Gone International Facebook
As shared on Girl Gone International Facebook

I first whispered and then just said this out loud to myself, and it works! Burning questions follow this entertaining linguistic trick. Do British people have an easier time switching to “razor blades” in their mind as soon as they hear themselves speak because of their accents? Do American accents still work nonetheless? Do various Aussie accents unwittingly get imitated as a result? If so, are they existing accents? Do we unconsciously try to Australian-ize our pronounciation (without really being able to, except after several episodes of McCleod’s Daughters in my case) as soon as we attempt to rise up lights? And most importantly: what will happen if an Australian simply says “rise up lights”? Life’s profound mysteries.

The internet was not done with us today, nor is it ever. A momentous event has taken place and I’m still fanning myself from excitement. Uploaded seven hours ago as of the time this is being typed and with close to half a million views already, I add my own click(s) to the official full-length movie trailer of Disney’s upcoming live-action version of the animated classic Beauty and the Beast. As soon as I hear those first piano bars from the opening track, despite having heard them thousands of times before, I’m gone.

If the teaser trailer already had me in pieces, this further gem makes me wriggle like an over-excited child and think, “OH MY GOD, this is real!” I can only hope that we will not be disappointed by the movie after the mood both trailers have successfully harnessed, and that Belle didn’t drop that candelabra after her first glimpse of the Beast. If there is one thing I’m certain of, it’s that I can’t imagine anyone other than Emma Watson playing our book-loving, plucky, dreaming heroine in this version.

“I want adventure in the great wide somewhere/ I want it more than I can tell…”

It was a Monday of joyful, thought-provoking discoveries, and with all this talk of the supermoon, which I currently can’t see because of foggy Hamburg conditions, I’m in a witchy mood and will look up scenes with Piper Halliwell from Charmed on YouTube.

 

Sunday Diaries: Brunch Time

McDonald’s in Italy now has a Nutella burger on their menu. That was the first thing I saw in my Instagram feed when I scrolled through it on my phone as usual on Sunday mornings. I just want to ask, why go pay for something you can make just as easily at home, probably spend less money on and which simply seems…weird? I mean, a burger is not something I will always make myself, so I might go somewhere for it, but spreading Nutella on bread has not gone up astronomically in terms of levels of difficulty, I hope, unless I missed something. But hey, marketing, competition, whatever works and if it does make someone happy.

I spread some (non burger patty thick) Nutella on a warm, crisp bread bun myself today and it was deeply satisfying. Due to watching Crazy, Stupid, Love (and some of it was indeed stupid, though some was love because of Steve Carell and Julianne Moore) until late last night, getting up occured somewhat later and I did not have time for what I term as the breakfast before breakfast – eating a bite before getting to your late breakfast or brunch date so you won’t faint on the way. But then a glass of juice must be included and since the café wasn’t far away, I figured I’d manage. It is Sunday in Hamburg, and those who aren’t still asleep after a Saturday night out are most likely making their way to a brunch.

The cafébar Gloria is located in a beautiful street in Hamburg called Bellealliancestraße. Cosy, residential, inviting and with multicolored buildings following each other, it makes for a nice pre-brunch walk in these fresh winter temperatures. The Gloria is red, easy to find and hard to miss. With 20 years of existence behind it, it’s clearly a favorite neighborhood meeting point and I’m excited to try the brunch buffet with my friend. And what a buffet it is. Roughly 15 euro with a glass of champagne or orange juice included for all you can eat – fresh bread, small croissants, fruit, various cheese, butter, jam, potato salad, cooked red beets (Russian roots seal of approval), smoked salmon, just to name a few choices, and very prettily arranged. Almost floor-length windows let in the sunlight of this clear, cold morning, and the atmosphere is relaxed, welcoming, as I listen to the snippets of conversation around me in French, German and English and dig in to my food. The staff is quick, attentive and smiling without seeming stressed. As I lean back and sip my fresh peppermint tea, I think again about how much I enjoy being part of a morning crowd like this, and that I will have to come back, because there is no room for the homemade cheesecake that my friend warmly recommended.

One once again idyllic walk around the glistening Alster river later, and I make lunch for the next day at work, only to discover that I had forgotten to defrost the meat I needed for the dish. But the internet saved me with this trick that actually worked!

One could have made a Nutella burger, but I’ll leave that to the pros.

 

 

Sunday Diaries

It’s logical that most of these will probably start with what I was thinking about after I woke up, since lying in bed on a Sunday morning is a luxury I like to enjoy when I have it. A bit of daydreaming, a bit of music, a bit of reading, getting the brain whirring if the spirit so moves you, before you can’t deny that you do have to get up and eat, for breakfast is also a beautiful and wonderful thing.

So I don’t grab, but normally, even gently reach for my phone (dropping it once was enough), that handy purveyor of things entertaining, and scroll a bit on YouTube. Grace Helbig’s review of this year’s celebrity Halloween costumes got me sniggering and put me in a slightly sarcastic state of mind, which lead to typing in some words in the YouTube search bar that had been simmering at the back of said mind. These words were benching dating. This new word for age-old behaviour has apparently been setting both the dating world and the internet ablaze for quite some time now, unfortunately, and we are never too old nor too uncreative to find a label that might take at least some of the sting off those “What the hell?” moments.

One of the first videos that popped up was this snippet from The View upoloaded in June of this year. “Well, it’s kind of poopy, but what are you gonna do,” host Whoopi Goldberg says matter-of-factly. “It’s poopy,” she continues, “Well, I think it’s just a ball of **** to do that to somebody.” I’m neither a fan nor an expert on this particular show, but as usual Whoopi confirmed my hope that as long as I came across this video, she would be the one to say what needed to be said.

Scrolling through a few other videos and remembering the numerous articles I had read on the subject in the past few days, it was both strange to seemingly re-identify a known problem, narrowing down the more general “not calling/ texting/ writing/ dating back” actions somewhat to a description that fit a repeating MO, and saddening to see just how easy it is to set someone on the path of emotional turmoil. Was there a little bit of relief involved at finding some kind of words that seemed to box in what so many were going through? I’m not sure. Whichever way you spin it and however you try to categorize it, it still boils down to mistreatment and disappointment. Both facts of life.

But that was enough for now of letting benching occupy my thoughts on a day as precious as Sunday, so well-scrambled eggs on sliced tomato and bell pepper, with a bit of cheese, as well as toast with jam, followed my musings, nourishing ideas for a possible future blog post.

It’s very easy to give in to staying at home on a Sunday that is a bit grey and automatically makes you think it must be cold out there, but my determination to combat these yearnings today won over. The world is your oyster if you have the right shoes on and cover yourself where you can get cold. Or, in this case, my trusty Alster river walk was once again my oyster. A not new, but re-confirmed piece of wisdom: going outside, moving, breathing, looking, thinking, listening to music, observing, taking pictures and feeling what must only be creative adrenaline of your very own is most often the right decision. I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were still plenty of autumn colors to snap and fill my Instagram with, and no matter how many times I have been here, the area just keeps surprising me. Venturing in to the side streets you see along the way is a good way to branch out, and I think how much there is still left of this city to discover. It’s a comforting thought. Damp, dark, sometimes moss-covered tree trunks frame turn-of-the-century villas and yellow leaves flutter against the almost white sky.

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This local blend of urban, historic and nature provides a lot of joy for kindred souls I spot along the way, silently strolling along with headphones on, like me, giving each other a glance sometimes and what I like to think is a small, secret smile of acknowledgement. Walking to the soundtrack of your choosing is a film-esque experience right there, especially for a person with a quickly romantic imagination, and spotting a house that immediately makes you think of Pemberley (even if it does look different, but I can’t travel to England right this second, so let’s make the best of the already wonderful things we have) makes you tingle.

Bumping in to a friend out on her jog was a pleasant surprise. After some chatting I watch her run on with light, energetic movements, and feel suddenly happy, hopeful that we, or at least those I know, are all doing something today that is making us content, peaceful and just what we want to be in this moment.

And why would anyone want to know or read all of this, you might ask? Well, isn’t that the reason why we blog?