What Do You Say After You Say Hello?

“When Mike first meets Pat (in the first 10 seconds or at most 10 minutes after they first set eyes on each other) Mike`s Child senses exactly what Pat`s Child is up to.

Since the Parent is older and presumably wiser in some ways than his offspring, it is his duty and responsibility to control his Parental behaviour. Only if he brings his Parent under control of his Adult can he accomplish this.”

Eric Berne, What do You Say after You Say Hello

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

Lifestyle Month: Book Recommendation: Yes Man (Danny Wallace)

The story of a man who was going to say “Yes” to absolutely everything – every request, every suggestion…

Extremely funny (think certain email scams, fundraisers, invitations which were extended out of sheer good manners, projects which seem way beyond your capabilities…), provocative at times, but also very philosophical and thought provoking.

Is YES really extending our horizon (by making us do things we wouldn`t otherwise do) and giving us the freedom to do things we really want to do (but may be scared of, if offered the choice), or is it actually narrowing our freedom by taking away our choice entirely rather than extending it?

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Lifestyle Month: Book Recommendation: Heavy Drinking – The Myth of Alcoholism as a Disease (Herbert Fingarette)

Published 1989, I`m still finding this book highly relevant – it`s available on Amazon from 1p + £ 2.80p&p.

It explores whether excess consumption of alcohol should be termed a disease or not, and whether total abstinence would be the way forward or too ambitious a goal. It asks a lot of difficult questions, which I`m finding highly inspiring.

Calling alcoholism a disease, rather than a behavior disorder, is a useful device both to persuade the alcoholic to admit his alcoholism and to provide a ticket for admission into the health care system.

The classic disease concept admirably suits the interests of the liqueur industry: by acknowledging that a small minority of the drinking population is susceptible to the disease of alcoholism, the industry can implicitly assure consumers that the vast majority of people who drink are not at risk.

If loss of control is triggered only after the first drink, why should the alcoholic have any special difficulty mustering the self-control to avoid the first drink? Why should abstinence pose a problem?

Or if we do recognize evidence of control, we decide the drinker in question cannot be a “true” alcoholic. We then minimize or discount that person`s drinking problems because the labels “alcoholic” and “disease” do not seem to apply.

Finally, the disease concept poses a frustrating paradox for drinkers who do seek treatment: They are told that they are unwilling victims of a disease that destroys their ability to manage their drinking and yet that they must strive to exert absolute self control and that only total abstinence can save them.

Instead of viewing heavy drinkers as the helpless victims of a disease, we come to see their drinking as a meaningful, however destructive, part of their struggle to live their lives.

Thus, he comes to see himself as the victim, even though it is his wive who has to endure his drunken outbursts.

Conversely, once a drinker`s overall quality of life is used as one of several measures of success, total abstinence is not necessarily a sign of success. Over time, the controlled drinking group on average reduced their drinking far more than the abstinence group. For heavy drinkers who are trying to address their problems the concept of controlled drinking can have the salutary effect of acknowledging human fallability.

Book Recommendation: Happy Money

This is a gem of a book which I was lucky enough to have purchased as a hard copy so I can force this onto every single one of my friends.

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It`s about why it isn`t the amount of money you own that can buy you happiness but the way you spend it.

1. Buy experiences rather than material goods

Apparently, the most expensive item we buy in our lives, a home, does not make us any happier, while buying experiences such as socialising with friends or going on holidays does.

Makes total sense when I see the direct comparison, but personally, it`s an area I struggle with. To me, having my own home means security (I can`t be evicted, and if I`m ever in need, it`s an asset I can sell), and security is an experience which I value extremely highly. My dad however said they can take your home but but not the memories of your holidays.

2. Make it a Treat

Don`t buy the best things all the time, so you don`t get used to and stop appreciating them.

This one also makes total sense, but as so many, I often fail putting them into practice. Food items in particular are so affordable that it`s much too easy to, for example, have a bar of chocolate or a latte on our way to work every day. It stopped being a treat many, many moons ago, there may even come a sense of entitlement and then, when we have to let them go (i.e. a weight loss regime, or closure of the coffee shop) we sulk.

Or take holidays – so much more exciting for someone who hasn`t been for years than it is for someone who is used to getting away twice a year.

3. Buy Time

It`s okay to take a lesser salary if you can work closer to home and spend more time with your family. It`s usually not worth it to take a better paid job if you have to spend three hours to get there. And although it is, at least in my circle, regarded as snobbish, it`s also okay to hire a cleaner if you would find it hard to make the time to do your chores yourself, or if you simply detest housework.

4. Pay first, Consume Later

It`s so easy nowadays to consume immediately and put it on a card to pay later, but personally, II ever fflt comfortable with this.

There is also a lot to be said about delayed gratification. Apparently a nice holiday or Christmas (for most) gives much more pleasure while we are anticipating it than it does after it happened, while we remember . 

Also, if you pay for something in advance, when it finally comes, it will almost feel like a freebie. Think holiday paid at the time of booking rather than at the time of going, or a mobile phone bought outright rather than in installments via contract.

5. Invest in Others

Giving makes happy, be it time or be it money. Research shows that shopping was a much happier experience when people were given money to purchase something for someone else rather than treating themselves.

However, giving needs to be voluntary, e.g. charity donations rather than tax raises, or spontaneous gift giving rather than dutifully fulfilling expectations on certain calendar days.

Kindle vs Paperback

How do you prefer to read?

I`m torn between Kindle and paper. When it first came out, I thought I`d never buy a Kindle, but eventually, I did, and from then on bought everything I could electronically (apart from cookery and other picture books).

Over the last two or three years however, I`m slowly going the other way again. I often find myself paying more for an e-book than a second hand paperback, plus, I cannot pass it on to other people. Graphics, particularly those with small font, are often illegible on Kindle, and while it`s usually (but not always – see picture ` below) better on my tablet, I do not want to add yet another thing to do on a computer screen.

Anyway – I started to buy paperbacks again. Although buying from Amazon, I often have to forego the buzz of instant gratification, £2.81 (1p for the book plus £ 2.80 p&p) compared to the £4.99 Kindle edition is hard to beat. Slowly, my shelves are starting to fill up again after I worked so hard to downsize my book collection.

Why, by the way, is it so hard for some people to part from their books?

I`m starting to prefer paperback again, although I still wouldn`t want to dispense with my Kindle – I like the portability, the ease of buying foreign without paying postage and waiting for ages, and yes, very often the instant gratification. At first, I also said I like the space on my shelves, but I think we now have a library that`s quite reasonable, and I have to agree with my husband that books displayed on a shelf look nice (just not as many as we once had).

Samples from my Kindle and the same pages on my tablet:

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1.000 Paper Napkins…

… (that`s 7kg!) arrived within a massive parcel from Good Old Germany today.

Bought largely unseen, this beautiful collection once meant for crafting will now be used for my food photography… One different napkin every day for three years – theres all sorts of themes – summer, elegant (just look at the black and white photo of the cutlery!!!), Christmas, Halloween, even football. I`m feeling inspired and also a bit pushed. 🙂

Now that all my colleagues had their holidays and while I`ve also got my EMA (End of Module Assignment) from uni due mid September, I expect to be working a little less over the month of August, and I plan to really use this also for my cookery (which, in my case, always includes taking photographs).

BTW, I still haven`t blogged about the course I`ve been taking in February (!) about receipe writing (morning) and food photography (afternoon), have I? I must!!

I `ve been working halfheartedly on my cookery book for about a year now (I started in July 2015), so now it` s time to move it to the next level, refine the receipes and photographs, start writing them up “properly” and maybe (but probably not yet…) make some first attempts at designing the pages.

At the weekend, I`m going to have another go at the tomato and feta stew, and, beside a little surprise, I`m going to post this in my food blog (and link it to here!) if I finally end up happy with it 🙂

Once again, ganz, ganz vielen lieben Dank fuer all das tolle Material, liebe Ruhrpottperle!!

Zeugnisse / School Reports

Gemessenen Schritts ging Senhor Cortes vom einen zum anderen, verkuendete mit seiner ueblichen strengen Miene die Gesamtzensur und haendigte uns mit geradem Blick das Zeugnis aus.

Freudlos und bleich nahm mein strebsamer Banknachbar das seine entgegen und hielt es in den gefalteten Haenden wie eine Bibel.

Kichernd liess der Klassenletzte, der braungebrannte Liebling der Maedchen, das seine zu Boden fallen als sei es ein Stueck Abfall.

Pascal Mercier, Nachtzug nach Lissabon

Tolles Buch uebrigens… Dabei hab ich es nur gelesen weil es um Lissabon geht.

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The English translation is supposed to be rather poor, but although I`ll probably not do a better job myself, I`ll try:

With measured steps, Senhor Cortes walked from one to the other, sternly declaring the final marks, and, looking straight into one`s eyes, handed over the certificates.

Pale and without joy, my ambitions neighbour received his and held it in his folded hands like a bible.

Giggling, the bottom performer, tanned crush of the girls, dropped his to the floor as if it was a piece of trash.

Book Recommendation: Sexual Politics in Iran (Janet Afary)

I found this book in a charity bookshop. I had a long journey ahead of me and nothing to read, so I walked in and grabbed this just because it was there.

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What a fascinating read!! It`s mainly a book about women. It talks about courtship and marriage, widowhood and divorce, temporary marriages and multiple wives, homosexuality (mainly in men), but it also touches on women`s rights in general, such as the right to work and education, the right to vote, about female political activists and about veiling, and how all of this has changed over times since the 19th century.

Packed with fascinating information and not to be read quickly, but I just could not put this down!

Temporary marriage fascinates me. The fact that men can get married for just a couple of hours to a prostitute so they can have legitimate sex with her; or women to their driving instructor so they can be alone with them in a car. It would also allow the driving instructor`s brother to chaperon her during travelling because they`re now related.

And apparently, Ayatollah Khomeini had a female employee who needed to learn to drive (in order to work for him), but he himself was generally not in favor of women driving, which the employee didn`t want to disrespect. Khomeini said to her you can seek advice from any cleric on any religious matters, and he gave her the name of a cleric who did support women driving. The female learnt to drive and was not considered disobedient because she sought advise from a cleric who allowed her to take driving lessons.