on Cognitive Distortions and Hint Giving

A couple of years ago, I had a course of psychotherapy. After lostcountofhowmany let downs, disappointments, losses and betrayals I wasn`t coping at all with life in general and becoming increasingly paranoid, always expecting the worst. Never mind the stigma – I`ll be forever grateful that I chose therapy instead of medication (or alcohol, for that matter).

I learnt loads about cognitive distortions (great link – check it out!!) and how to deal with them, and while I, of course, was able to practice this particularly well under the supervision of my therapist, I continued to apply my new skills after the sessions had finished.

One which is particularly relevant to me is reading too much into (interpersonal) things, then behaving as if my assumptions were true and thus creating a negative outcome that`s caused by my reaction rather than the initial situation. While I`m still tending to try too hard to make sense of other people`s behaviour, I`m now also able to pull myself back sometimes.

There was one particular situation where I had to work extremely hard at behaving not only as if my negative assumptions weren`t true but also as if I did not have them. In the end however, it turned out that what I was thinking had indeed been true on this occasion. Someone was throwing me (albeit weak and non-committal) hints, and I behaved as if I did not understand them, carrying on causing drama because I refused to see the signs.

“So did your therapy not cover that?” asked my husband later. “how to recover from the disappointment of a real problem? How to deal with things when, by applying her techniques, you actually made it worse? For life isn`t always a bed of roses, and you cannot always influence other people!”

No, she never covered that. And I don`t think the problem was so much my own behaviour, but my (former) friend`s evasiveness. To most Brits, giving hints only seems kinder than being upfront (also to oneself, as you save yourself the discussion) about bad news, but you have to be clear that the hints are understood, or at least be clearer when asked.

Could I have influenced the situation? No. I`d have saved myself a lot of embarrassment (and maybe preserved a friendship that obviously wasn`t what I thought it was) if I had acted upon the hints, but I`d also forever have asked myself: And what if the assumption I was acting on was not true after all?

Lord for sale!

Were talking about this again today…

Albeit rather bewilderedly, I can now claim to know someone who has apparently purchased a title of nobility. Or, as someone suggested, simply changed his Christian name to “Lord”, so it didn`t cost him anything. Although it only costs £195.oo to become a Lord, Earl, Duke, Sir or Viscount.

The product is advertised to people who seek to increase their social status, and some claim to have received free upgrades on flights, in hotels and restaurants, but some reviewers also bought a title for other people, as a special, funny or romantic gift.

Hm. I wonder how “real” nobility feels about this…

Me and my Hoarder

Me: This set of cutlery is missing two knives and one spoons. I`d like to get rid of it and get out the nice set – the one which is in the box, in the cupboard…

My hoarder (alarmed!): Tthat`s the GOOD one!!

Me: Yes, I know.

My hoarder (looks at me in disbelief): So…

Me (saw it coming and was ready for it): Before you say no, can I ask you something?

My hoarder: Sure…

Me: When did you get the good set?

My hoarder: My wedding. The first one.

Me: How long ago was that?

My hoarder (eventually): 46 years ago.

Me: And who gave you the good cutlery set?

My hoarder: Cannae remember.

Me: But what do you think they wanted you to do with it?

My hoarder (laughs)

Me: Keep it in a cupboard for 46 years because it`s too good to use? Like – till you drop?

My hoarder (laughs harder)

Me: Or did they want you to use and enjoy it?

My hoarder (howling, unable to answer)

So I take it that`s a yes. He can come round, which is why we are compatible, after all…

 

 

Raw, vegan Chia Walnut Pudding

declarations of an eater

The other day, I was cleaning out my cupboards and found half a packet of chia seeds, next to half a pack of walnuts. Both expired last month, and I decided to quickly make them into something now.

I wasn`t quite keen on the chia seeds when I first tried them (hence, they were still there), but just recently, I half read a receipe for something called “turkish delight chia pudding”, and without referring to the book again, created what turned out to be an absolute winner.

ingredients

2 1/2 cups of walnuts

a few drops of vanilla essence

1 heaped tbsp of icing sugar (or other sweetener)

2/3 cup of chia seeds

1 tsb of rose water

nut milk

You can use any nuts, but I had walnuts to use up, and I found them very suitable for the Turkish theme, too.

Soaking the nuts overnight first starts the digestion process and makes…

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Gratitude

Gratitude opens your heart and carries the urge to give back. It however has an evil twin: indebtedness. Indebtedness pays back bregrudgingly, as part of the economy of favours. In contrast, gratitude gives back freely and creatively.

And gratitude doesn`t play by the rules. It`s not the etiquette we teach our kids. Too often, I find myself prodding my kids with “What do you say?” when they`re silent upon receiving a gift or a kindness. When they push out a monotone “Thanks”, they`re only being polite, not grateful.

Barbara Frederikson, Positivity

Photo Editing

I am a massive fan of photo editing. Although it`s sometimes put to me that my photos no longer look natural, I think even the best photograph only ever becomes a real piece of art once the photographer has put his own touch to it: enhanced, changed or created a mood, colour or perspective.

I am, of course, only talking about street photography here, which is the category that I see myself fitting into. Although I`m forever planning to give it a go, I do not deliberately style a scene in order to capture a particular look or mood – I`m far away from the stage where my vision and inspiration comes before the photo. I just snap while going on about my daily life, and then I let the photo inspire me to do something with it.

Its easy, and it`s so fun! I don`t even use professional filters, but would like to, probably rather daringly in some cases, show you some of the original snaps which, with very little work, became the photos I publish, primarily here and on Instagram:

  • Late afternoon jogging session. The edited version looks almost haunted with enhanced light and shadow, but the orignal wasn`t, really.
  • This finished selfie with my cat looks like we were lying in bed, but I`m afraid the truth was rather less cute. This is the only original in this post which isn`t really the original – I cut off the bottom, as I don`t want to show quite so much nudity.
  • Some photos can be changed from average to good just by cropping and removing the colour.
  • Others come to life only if colours are enhanced – the photo that made me money,  plus another two, which were similarly snapped on a smartphone in less than average indoor light conditions (can`t find the original cat photo, so posted a similar one from the same session):
  • Some filters (I think this one was EyeEm) can enhance the effect of light sources which are in the photo, which greatly enhanced the athmosphere in this picture of an old pub in the Old Town of Edinburgh here (apart from cropping out the yellow lines at the front and white van at the back, which were, of course, an absolute NO):
  • More selfies: I`m afraid my hair wasn`t really that red, and nor are my eyes that green, leave alone my skin that flawless:
  • This sunset was rather beautiful, but became breathtaking when a simple Instagram filter made it look as if the sun was still hovering over it:
  • Okay – this one was styed, but the application of colour nonetheless made a difference:

I hope I was able to inspire you, and in any case, I think I`ll be collecting some “before and after” pics like that for a sequel.

This blog is to be taken in lieu of my usual 12 photos of the 12th of every month. If  I would have partaken in this today, you would be looking at 12 photos of me working, studying and doing other boring stuff. Plus, this topic had been planned since a while 🙂

The Grand National

I`ve been living in Britain for almost 16 years now and am generally having a really good time over here. However, there are still things about this culture, which are alien to me – horse racing being one of them.

I now accept it as a given, but still find it impossible how much of an event they make about what takes about 15 minutes – everybody has to inform themselves weeks (or at least days) in advance about who is hot and who is not. Placing a bet is almost non-optional (unless you`re a hater!), even if, like us, you never bet on horses all year and know nothing about them. (We just pick what names we like.)

I`ve seen men watching the race inside the betting shop (who provide free nibbles!) and been invited to barbecues with race-themed dress codes – never mind the red carpets, Royals, celebrities and paparazzi seen in Liverpool.

There`s a racecourse in my home town, and I have been once – it was fun and we won some money, but it failed to get me excited. My sister, who was with me, and is very much into horses, was watching out for mistreatment all the time. And of course, horses fall, get injured and sometimes die, all for our entertainment and making money.

As said, we always placed a couple of bets for the Grand National, but not any longer. A few months ago, my husband has been to the races with a few colleagues and came back upset and downbeat. He had watched a horse going on with what was very obviously an already broken leg, then it fell, and although a screen was put on, everybody heard the gunshot that put it out of its misery. People were leaving, there were children… It was awful, and my husband vowed never again to bet on horses.

I never even watched it this year but couldn`t resist Twitter. Although they were boasting (!) about there being no fatalities for 5 years running (I remember this poor creature well – my colleague had placed a bet on it and felt so guilty for shouting at it in front of her telly!) about half of all horses fell, and did so quickly. Twitter was exploding with hate posts, concern and excitement alike – a rather interesting mixture. The Grand National excites and divides, but ignoring it is not an option.

Almost concluding the matter, I must say that can name at least two guys who appear to be making quite a handsome amount of money on the side just by betting on horses (and football), which is not a thing to be underrated. Everybody likes earning money for themselves, and it probably helps to accept or ignore the downsides of this sport. Brits love betting, and winning alongside your horse or team, of course, will attach them to the sport.

P.S.:

The names are interesting. Eric Berne and others have already written about how names can determine the fate of humans (particularly if named after other people), and what on Earth were they thinking calling a racehorse “Dropout Joe” and “Wounded Warrior”? They both fell – of course. Pardon the pun.

Please Praise the Chef! and: A Restaurant Review

Last night, we`ve been to Dal Patino again, a new and wonderful Italian Restaurant, which recently opened here in Musselburgh.

Up until that day, we had two Italians (a quite down to earth one which specialises in pizza and pasta, and a very swanky one which we can`t afford to eat at regularly). Dal Patino is a small family run restaurant, which finally managed to close the gap and offer something to people like us, who like nice food in a nice ambience, but don`t want to have to keep this for special occasions.

We were walking past by pure chance a couple of weeks ago, peckish and talking about what to have for dinner, when my other half spontanesously suggested to go in and give it a try.

I had grilled sea bass (two fillets!!) with so much on the side that I would have foregone my obligatory side salad, if only I had known. Apart from more salad, potatoes and a whole twig of grilled tomatoes with herbs, there was a large vegetable cake that was so delicious I pointed this out to the waiter and asked what was in it.

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Just a few weeks prior, I had a rather interesting discussion with the chef at my work, and we concluded that people like me are more likely to speak up if they want to complain about food rather than praise it, and therefore, by default, people like him are more likely to hear comlaints rather than praise about their work, which they usually do with a lot of love and passion (This particular conversation was about a lady who had particular dietary wishes, had something special made for her twice a day and liked neither.). After this chat, I promised to myself to really make waves the next time I ate out and found something oustanding. And this vegetable cake sure was.

 The place is small and the waiter waved to the chef (open kitchen), whose face almost split with a grin that went from one ear to the other. He told me a wee bit of what was in it and seemed happy when I said I could eat those cold as well, and they should sell them at lunch time to take away.

Anyhow, with the bill came a brown bag, and guess what was in it:

For me. Just like that. 🙂

I looked over the waiter`s shoulder nd saw the chef waving. Really made my day, and then again the next morning when I had those cold, for breakfast.

When we came back yesterday, we were greeted like old friends, and once again, served a dinner which was both delicious and incredibly photogenic:

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Anyway, bottom line is: Please could you praise the chef. You`ll make for a nice change. 🙂

Lisbon Part V

We always pay a visit to Mercado Da Ribeira, one of the most amazing food markets I`ve ever been to. There`s flouwers and fresh fruit, veg and fish at the back, but most people come here to select some of the delicious bites and dishes from the exquisite international stalls or bars to eat them here and there, with free WiFi with no password being a wonderful intentive to stay on for an espresso and maybe a tiny little piece of cake, each being a piece of art.

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This was a special day and the first time we actually sat at the bar and had a cocktail. I had an Aperol Spritz which included about half a bottle of Prosecco just to myself, and my other half asked for “something with rum” and received something called “Winter Warmer” which was off the menu and raaather stroooong…

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Here we sat for quite a while, took our time, speaking about our life together and posting pictures on social media while slowly getting dizzy…

From here, we first went home to offload some of our stuff, as we`ve been for some shopping…

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And here, I managed to take my personal best pictures of the Ascensor da Bica, mainly due to lack of other people.

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Dinner was in one of our favourite restaurants in Alfama – no pictures. It was busy, and we didn`t want to hang about occupying a table, but Lisbon is not short of places to just go for a drink, so we finally got to try this beautiful wine bar, which was always looking rather nice to us, and where we stayed for quite a while… 🙂

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It was amazing how quiet and civilised this place was, given that almost everyone, who was there, was drinking. This would definitely not have been the case in Scotland!! Scots and alcohol are sooo loooud!!

On our way home we got approached by a man offering us stuff to smoke – a very common sight in Lisbon. They usually stand at Praça do Comércio guising as sunglasses salesmen, but once you`re looking, they open their jackets or hands and show you what else they`ve got… This guy here was rather annoying – he followed us into a side street even though we had already said “no”, and I actually had to become quite cheeky to get rid of them.

And when we walked up the Ascencor da Bica, a fab thing happened. It was 11p Monday night, and it was quiet, but one pub was still open, with a Pope, a witch and a minion standing in front of it laughing. One said Hi, we said Hi back, and the next moment, we were inside and some guy was swirling me around the dance floor. I hadn`t danced salsa in ages and surely gave it a go, and when I finally got a break, my husband was holding a glass of beer and wearing a yellow feather boa!

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At midnight, an international tune was heard and a whole carneval party of what was all locals (apart from us) was singing me Happy Birthday in Portuguese! The door closed, but we stayed till 1am when the beverages were definitely overwhelming me. As for the rest, I don`t think the party was quite over yet 🙂

The lady who is facing us here is important – she was the only one who spoke English, and she has an Air B&B flat in the area. She speaks English and invited us to Santo Antonio day on – 10 June!! That`s so soon!! And she`s gonna take us!!

In bed by half past one.

No photos of the Tuesday, when our plane home went at a very convenient 3pm. My birthday was spent tired, hungover, having discussions with 4 airport security about canned sardines, and definitely not fresh enough for another selfie.

Home at 7pm. Once again, three days away in this wonderful city felt so jam packed with good vibes!! I just love it so much! 🙂