Jahresendstoeckchen 2016 / My Annual Review 2016

Well, I certainly didn`t like everything that happened in the wider world, but for me personally, 2016 was absolutely fantastic – best year since a long time. It wasn`t so much about things that happened to me but things that I`ve done, and I think that`s hugely different. Places I`ve seen, things I have done for and accomplished in my career… I was doing wonderful things while I was working part time – cultivated hobbies I`d been neglecting, accomplished things with my photography, started studying towards a degree and finishing my first module with a distinction , went old and new places… it just was a really, really, good year, and I`m excited to say that 2017 is looking like it keeps going into the same direction.

I used to always do New Year`s Resolutions, and then I stopped them and started them again, but honestly, this year`s only resolution is to keep all those things going just the way they are.

Coming soon…

Over the month of January, I will dig out and revamp some of my lifestyle posts from the last year and a half. I`ve written a lot about the things which people are usually wanting to improve (fitness, money, de-cluttering, and a bit of beauty and fashion) now.

A few holiday posts are also still forthcoming – I really wanted to take my time writing about this amazing trip to Israel, but we`ve also been to Crete, Porto and Lisbon, and I didn`t forget my promise to write more about my home town, which is (well, near) Edinburgh.

And that`s for all my new readers. It`s been a great year for my blog, too, and although I don`t know whether you are all actually reading, it`s been great to see it grow, and I`m really committed to keep producing content which I hope you`ll find interesting.

Apologies for the following being in German…

… but we (that`s the group of German bloggers who came here when http://www.blog.de closed down) do this little survey thingy every year.

1. Zugenommen oder abgenommen?
Zugenommen. Aber nicht viel.

2. Haare länger oder kürzer?
Ein ganzes Stueck laenger. Ich wollte mal wieder was anderes, und nachdem ich es oft versucht und wieder abgeschnitten hat, gefaellt es mir dieses Mal richtig gut. Ich hatte fast 10 Jahren keine langen Haare mehr!!

3. Kurzsichtiger oder weitsichtiger?
Wenn man`s im uebertragenen Sinne sieht, auf jeden Fall kurzsichtiger, und das ist gut so. Ich komme davon ab, mich immer so sehr um die Zukunft zu sorgen. Es sind in den letzten zwei Jahren so viele Dinge passiert, die mich ueberzeugten, dass das (within reason!) nicht die gesuendeste und hilfreichste Denkweise ist.

4. Mehr Kohle oder weniger?
Mehr.

5. Mehr ausgegeben oder weniger?
Weniger. Als ich auf ein Halbzeitgehalt runter ging, wurde ich echt sparsam, und da ich das so beibehalten moechte, wird die Differenz jetzt automatisch auf ein Sparkonto ueberwiesen, auch wegen befristet und so…

6. Mehr bewegt oder weniger?
Weniger. Hoert bloss auf. Weil das trotz weniger arbeiten so war, kam ich zu dem Schluss dass ich es gar nicht so toll finden kann. Ich glaube es war eher ein Stressabbauventil. Ich bin ja auch immer dann viel gerannt, wenn ich unter starkem Druck stand.

7. Der hirnrissigste Plan?
Nee, also da stehe ich schon ueberall hinter…

8. Die gefährlichste Unternehmung?
Manche sagen einen permanenten Job fuer einen befristeten aufzugeben. Andere sagen Urlaub in Israel machen. I say: you miss out 🙂

9. Der beste Sex?
Naechste Frage…

10. Die teuerste Anschaffung?
Es gab neue Moebel und Elektrosachen, aber einzeln waren sie alle im Rahmen.

11. Das leckerste Essen?
War wie immer im Urlaub

12. Das beeindruckendste Buch?
Ich finde meine Open Uni-Buecher beeindruckend, und ich glaube sonst hab ich nicht viel gelesen.

13. Der ergreifendste Film?
Auch nicht.

14. Die beste CD?
Bon Jovi Greatest Hits. Klar zaehlt das.

15. Das schönste Konzert?
Sorry – aber auch nicht.

16. Die meiste Zeit verbracht mit?
Meinem Mann und meiner Freundin B. Die ist in der Naehe gezogen und hat auch viel Tagesfreizeit.

17. Die schönste Zeit verbracht mit?
Mit meinem Mann, und  mit Bandora und ihrer Familie in Israel.

18. Vorherrschendes Gefühl 2016?
Sehr gemischt. Es ist so viel passiert, da kann ich kein einzelnes Gefuehl raus picken. Vielleicht immer mal wieder Verwunderung, dass das wirklich mein Leben ist…

19. 2016 zum ersten Mal getan?
In Israel gewesen

20. 2016 nach langer Zeit wieder getan?
Eine Freundin verloren.

21. Drei Dinge, auf die ich gut hätte verzichten mögen?
Nr 20. Brexit. President Trump.

22. Die wichtigste Sache, von der ich jemanden überzeugen wollte?
Meinen Mann, dass ich nach Israel will. Ich hab da grosse Ablehnung erwartet, aber ein grosser Ueberzeugungspitch war zu meiner eigenen Ueberraschung gar nicht noetig. Er hat einfach gesagt fahr, aber halt ohne mich.

23. Das schönste Geschenk, das ich jemandem gemacht habe?
Da muesste man jetzt andere fragen, aber ich glaube, das war wahrscheinlich das Brautkleid, das ich sehr kurzfristig geholfen habe fertigzustellen. Es waere zwar trotzdem schoen gewesen, aber ein paar zauberhafte Details, die der Braut wichtig waren, haette man weg lassen muessen.

24. Das schönste Geschenk, das mir jemand gemacht hat?
Mal ne Weile weniger arbeiten und  mehr Zeit mit anderen Dingen verbringen.

25. Der schönste Satz, den jemand zu mir gesagt hat?
Wiederholen will ich ihn hier nicht, aber es war etwas von meinem Mann, das einen Beschuetzerinstinkt mir gegenueber zeigte, von dem ich manchmal nicht glaube dass er wirklich da ist.

26. Der schönste Satz, den ich zu jemandem gesagt habe?
Nun weiss ich ja schon wieder nicht, was andere als schoen empfunden habe, aber was ich am schoensten fand war als ich zweimal Menschen gratulieren durfte. Einer hatte sich etwas ganz, ganz lange gewuenscht, die andere haette es sich nie traeumen lassen, aber zweimal waren in 2016 ganz besondere Glueckwuensche angebracht.

27. 2016 war mit einem Wort?
absolutelymegabrilliant

28. 2016 leider gar nicht getan?
Bestimmte Leute wieder gesehen.

29. Wort des Jahres?
Livinthedream

30. Stadt des Jahres?
Lissabon. Diese Stadt loest einfach was in mir aus. Ich will da leben!

31. Song des Jahres?
Rockabye

32. Erkenntnis des Jahres?
Man muss auch mal ein paar Risiken eingehen, wenn man nicht auf der Stelle treten will.

33. Beste Idee/Entscheidung des Jahres?
Eine feste Stelle fuer eine befristete zu verlassen. Das passt jetzt (erstmal…)

I`m wishing you…

all the best for 2017, and once again, thank you so much for your support :-))

some more photos from Jerusalem…

… and I`m afraid it is the last ones – quite random, but some quite pretty things among them, which I couldn`t possibly withhold:

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This was from my only visit to an indoor shopping centre, which is located within the main bus station in Jerusalem. I bought one of those jugs for my bathroom and a hair band of a kind that I could never find at home.

 

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A really old fashioned library, stuffed to the ceiling with books. It`s one of those shops which probably sell each book just once. There also were a couple of cats strolling about. I would have loved to stay and browse a bit, but unfortunately, all books were in Hebrew and Arabic.

 

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The old town again. I had avoided it for the last few days, but on my last couple of days, I went back for some serious shopping (and to snap some last few pictures).

 

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I could do a whole blog on graffiti, but here`s just my favourite one – do you see the beautiful woman in the middle section of this Mosque?

 

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This is an Arabic sweet made of cheese, some kind of crumb, saffron, (lots of!!) syrup and pistaccios. I have a very sweet tooth, but here, I had to admit defeat after a couple of forkfuls. I`m sure I would have died happy, but my pancreas was begging for its life.

 

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Next, we went to this coffee shop and bought coffee ground in front of us together with cardamom pods, and then we went to my lovely host`s dad (who lived just round the corner), where I learnt how to brew a real Arabic coffee: you bring water to the boil, spoon the coffee and plenty sugar into the bottom of a cup, pour the water over it, stir and wait until the powder settles – ready. It was so good, we went back and took some home to the UK. My husband especially loved it.

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This guy was living round the corner as well 🙂

 

And here`s some beautiful pictures of a sad occasion – my farewell dinner. We went to the same place where we started on my first day, at Hosh Al Jasmine in Bethlehem. This place is so perfect – the surroundings, the food, the company and the whole atmosphere… It was hard to believe that we were in such a troubled place…

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Yes, this is indeed in Palestine.

The day of my departure was already documented here. The most fascinating holiday in my whole life, and one I would not have had if it was not for some misunderstanding and me half jokingly asking on facebook what I should do with three weeks between jobs. I did not expect to be taking selfies at the Western Wall just a week later, and I cannot ever come near expressing how grateful I am to Bandora and her family for inviting and having me. It was exceptional, and I hope so much you will come to Scotland to see us next year! xx

12 vor 12 in December or: just an ordinary day in 12 pictures

I start work at 9am and live 20 mins away from it. Especially in winter, it would be tempting to stay in bed till 8, but during 8 months of not working mornings, I really grew to appreciate some me-time before work and faithfully set the alarm for 7.

My husband, who is retired and does not want to fall into the trap either, gets up with me. He feeds the cats while I take my shower, and when I come down, he will have coffee ready. I am not a morning person, but the sound of our Gaggia right underneath me is enough to bring me to life.

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That was Leo (below) with his tail.

Still dark outside, but betterment is imminent. Every year on 21st December, I`m having a party inside my head because we`re over the worst and will be gaining 2 mins a day all the way until June.

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I admire Mosili`s work on her planners, and was growing to like the idea of a paper diary again. I liked the clutterfree-ness of smartphone apps, but there is no one app for all my planning needs, so I had to record my stuff in 5 different places, which I could only be bothered -sorry!- to do sporadically). So I bought a planner and now enjoy creatively reflecting the day before as part of my morning ritual:

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Traffic jam:

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The joys of working in a place with a kitchen:

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I rescued this lovely necklace from the Christmas Tombola. Not wanting to buy tickets and then win chocolates and soap, so I just made an offer and bought it. I`m having an old fashioned style phase just now, which can probably be attributed to the music and pictures I`m exposed to at work. I cant wait to wear it, but it`ll remain on my desk until I pay for it.

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Look at that picture!! Do you see the difference to this one?

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After years of thinking “One day, I`ll have one of those, but not yet”, I finally treated myself to an I-phone yesterday. After visiting 5 shops, I manage to secure what seemed like the last one in town – the last one of my desired specs anyway. I actually went back to the Apple-Store and waved it to the guy. Some places didn `t have any I-Phone 7 Plusses at all, so seems like a lot of people in and around Edinburgh are in for a wonderful treat this Christmas.

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So far I can`t say that it`s better than Samsung, but it`s different, which is what I was craving. Smartphones are one thing I really get bored with easily.

All photos in this blog have been done with my new phone, and while I`m really happy in good light conditions and with the portrait mode, I`d still want to pull out my camera in lower light, where it matters. The moment can be over by the time you managed, though (cats!!).

Some studying at night. Statistics comes easy, but Accounts is something I have to work really hard at. I`m glad that I`ve chosen it, though. This course really highlights that I have gaps, but it`s also filling them all at the same time.

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What I`m looking at while working hard…

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Oh, and I was gonna show you what I did with my kitchen, was I? Tadaaaa…

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Transferrable tiles, available from ebay or Amazon in various mixed designs, £8.oo for 26 tiles. We used three packets – two would have been enough, but they are a bit heavy on blue, and I was wanting something really colorful, as inspired by a Jerusalem restaurant kitchen and the beautiful houses in Portugal. Of course, they all use real tiles 🙂

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Was this last picture cheating? Probably… I usually sneak in a selfie, but I forgot, and now, I`ve taken off my makeup. But take a picture of my outfit:

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The skirt is a tight fitting pencil skirt with a fish tail. Charity shopping rocks! 🙂

 

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(Apologies to my non German speaking readers, but this is an entry that I copied from an old blog that I had on another platform. It`s about my childhood experience of the custom of Santa coming on 5th or 6th December with a small gift of the edible kind in Germany, and it can be translated at least semi reasonably here.)

Der 5. Dezember war fuer uns immer einer der spannendsten aber auch schlimmsten Tage des Jahres…

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Redundancy: One Year After

One year ago today, I wrote this blog here: After some 2 months of pondering and then waiting, I was formally offered voluntary redundancy.

The decision of putting myself forward in the first place was a very intense process, but once I had made up my mind, I could not wait to go and was, in fact, terrified of being refused.

After 11 years` service, I was granted voluntary redundancy on 3 December 2015, and I left on the 9th – clutching the last belongings I hadn`t taken home yet, I walked into the unknown, partly sad, but above all, I remember feeling an incredible sense of relief. I felt like a beautiful butterfly who had finally managed to crack its caterpillar skin and was now spreading its wings to fly into freedom.

A year later, I`m gratefully looking back on all the beautiful things which came with something that so many would be terrified of:

I left on a Wednesday. I got offered a new job the Monday after, and it was part time. While not being out of work, I slept in every day with my newly retired husband, watched our kittens growing up, spent more time with friends, got long overdue home projects done, fully enjoyed the very brief Scottish summer…

… and started to study towards a Degree in Business Management. Absolutely love it!! It`s interesting, I learn a lot and passed my first module with distinction. I`m currently studying statistics and accounts, which will both be adding to my CV. I also formed a lovely friendship with a fellow student.

I learnt lessons about work friendships – a few surprises about who did and who did not keep in touch. One particular person was a beautiful surprise, and another an especially bitter disappointment, but also an eye opener about what our relationship was really all about.

I re-thought the meaning and spending of money. I never bought so few clothes in a single year, and I don`t miss them at all.

There was a lot of emphasis on how you look and what you wore in my old work. Now, with most of my colleagues wearing shrubs, superficialities like that don`t matter.

I could reinvent myself in other ways, too. For example, I no longer befriend current work colleagues on Facebook and no longer have certain problems which others keep offloading about.

I love working in a care home. Among other things, it makes me even more appreciating of and grateful for my husband`s and family`s excellent state of health.

It however quickly became clear that this job was not especially fulfilling. Here, I started properly looking for a job and was overwhelmed by all the things that were available to me. I was with my last employer for 11 years, and at times thinking I wasn`t capable of anything else. Just looking proved otherwise.

In September, I took the fantastic job I’m in now. It`s exactly what I was wanting from the start. I love the environment (another care home :-)), the challenges and achievements, I have good managers and supportive colleagues… Can`t help thinking why I haven`t left my old job sooner, but aware I was just too comfy and needed pushed.

Every now and then, I hear stories of my old work. It`s becoming increasingly intolerable, and many more people left, even though they stopped paying the package.

While between jobs, I went to Israel. Yes, really. I`ve been wanting to go there since such a long time, but I`m confident I still wouldn`t have gone otherwise. It was as incredible as I imagined, and I have, of course, been blogging about this fantastic experience separately.

My priorities shifted. I no longer give work so much headspace and importance. I don’t think I`ll ever hesitate again to leave a job I dislike, and I got to know myself better – I had, for example, planned to go to the gym more while working less, but I didn`t, and I finally concluded that I don`t really like exercising, and lack of time was just an excuse.

I feel I grew up a lot (at least on the outside).

More headspace for other, mainly creative, things.

I remember wondering last year where would I be in a year`s time. Just by leaving my work, I have moved on so much in many, many areas of my life, and I`m aware that that`s a privilege of (relative) financial freedom. If I hadn`t been there for so long, I would have had a much lesser package. And would I have gone?

Today is “in a year`s time”, and I`m grateful for everything, almost including the things which made me consider leaving in the first place.

 THANK YOU 🙂