Palliative Care Training

The other day, I had the privilege to attend a Palliative Care training course. I`m saying privilege because I did not really need it, but that is another story.

One thing that came out was semantics. Apparently, Palliative Care is now often paraphrased to make it sound less harsh – professionals may speak about ongoing care or supportive care or continuing care. This however can lead to the family being confused about what kind of care (and outcome for their loved one!!) they can expect.

I know an example from my own life, from when my father was sick. His Catholic faith was very important to him, so there were repeated visits from a priest, and he eventually agreed to receiving the 5th Sacrament. This used to be called “the Last Rites” but is now re-termed Krankensalbung, or “the sacrament for the sick”. Like the term itself and unlike the English equivalent, the German Wikipedia site makes no reference to this being a sacrament for the dying, and that `s what his wife very fiercely insisted on. She was still talking about Christmas and all the holidays he had promised her after the sacrament was given, and when the priest addressed this with her later, she did not allow him to ever come back. Doctors were equally coy about his prognosis, and although I could read between the lines, I wished they had used clearer words to help her accept it sooner, too.

Another thing that was brought up was the lack of communication between patient and family. Often, the patient says to the practitioner “I know that I`m dying, but I don `t want them to know.” And then the family comes and says “We know that he is dying, but we don `t want him to know,” or “we don `t want him to know that we know.” I think that`s so sad, as it probably leads to so many important things not being said. This short film about the topic made me cry.

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

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?

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…




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

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.


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:


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

On Past Injuries II

Quite a while ago, I wrote about reacting to past injuries, and even though I know them so well, I was failing to name examples.

Ever since I wrote this blog, however, I started to pay attention, and I can now not only add examples but, much more importantly, discovered that I could heal from some.


The first situation where I realised that I was reacting to past injuries was my fierce hatred of Country music. It was the kind of music my dad liked (apart from a few other, for me equally unacceptable, genres), and he plaid it particularly often and particularly loud because he knew it grated on me. Long car journeys in particular – anything I could not get away from. And when I complained, he laughed and turned the volume up. It was a power trip, and maybe a punishment to his teenager slagging his music, and it got me to hate it to this day (where it probably would have remained a simple dislike otherwise).


Another example where I`m reacting to past injuries is my own birthday. I had 8 until I overheard my mum saying that she hated my birthdays with all the gifts, cakes, parties, children, grannies and merrymaking. I had 4 more (which I had ceased to enjoy) until my parents decided that I was too old, and that was fine with me.

Even when I was an adult and able to throw my own parties, I never did – there were half hearted gift exchanges with family, because it was the only way to for them to retain their own righ to receive, and that was it.

A couple of years ago, I turned 40, and I decided to celebrate it. At that point, I felt blessed with very many great people in my life, but only few of them had actually met. It was mainly meant to be an opportunity to bring the mall together – and I had such a ball!! And I celebrated the next, which was much smaller but an equally beautiful day, and when it came round again just recently, I got properly excited about it because people actually made a”deal” about it – mainly new ones, who didn`t know I disliked my birthday, and some others thought I had changed my mind. And I discovered that I probably did – after skipping 28 of them because of what my parents said and did when I was a child…


Another really important thing is perfume, and how it can remind me of the particular good or sad times when I was wearing it. I`ve been known to give perfumes away just because I couldn`t stand the memories I kept associating with the smell. (But this works vice versa, too – I know which one to wear if I want to wear confident or sexy or fresh or happy.)


And then there are two… really silly things – the ones which actually inspired me to pick up this blog again.

I`m still too embarrassed to mention either in a public blog, but someone had hurt me very much, twice, with things which for others are probably absolute trivia.

One instance involved a particular brand of cosmetics. I was not using the brand myself at the time, but I was given them as a gift later and had to pass this on, as I was unable to use it without flashbacks (yeah, that`s probably the right word – I`m not just thinking of the injury, I`m having proper flashbacks which bring me so down that others actually comment on my low mood). The fact that I recently bought myself not one, but two, lipsticks from this make, shows me that I`m really and truely over the person who injured me. It`s one of those products which tingle on my lips and remind me that I have it on, and it`s nothing but a great feeling.

The other one involves a food. It was used to neglect, be stubborn towards and commit an act of absolute cruelty against me, or at least so I saw it at the time. I could no longer enjoy this kind of food. It had no taste whatsoever, just injury, fat and calories. Adn a whole 2 1/2 years later, there comes someone else and turns the whole thing round. Whatever happened back then, that person did the polar opposite. I feel healed, and I will never ever eat this kind of food again without this particular happy memory, which totally erased the other one (although the memory is still there, it no longer hurts).

And maybe that`s the secret. Rather than avoiding the triggers, re-expose myself in a pleasant situation and simply replace those memories with something upbeat.

I`ve got a candidate for that on my shoe shelf. Horrible memory, which I cannot summarise adequately in a three liner (I just tried). I never wore them again after that night. They are of cream suede, and they still bear the black marks of a drunk man`s shoes where he kicked them about in a night club.

I should wear them next week. I should plan a whole outfit around them and make them feel and look absolutely amazing – and then remember them for that…

about new shoes

My brown boots are getting worn, so I bought myself a new pair. I`m still not taking this for granted. I`ve also got a pair of tan boots, two pairs of black, one grey and one blue.

When I was still financially dependent on my parents, I had one pair, and there was no point in mentioning if they started looking shabby. If a hole appeared, or if the sole came of, I`d be careful not to wear them in the rain, but I still had to wear them for I didn`t have any others. Pumps. If it rained I`d just wear summer shoes so my feet didn`t get wet, even if it was February. Or my trainers, which were meant to be for PE only. If I wore those outside I could not let my mum catch me under any circumstances, for this was much worse than summer shoes in February or boots with the soles coming off.

I remember a horrible story from school in which I was slow getting dressed after PE and I had to run in my trainers to catch the bus. Back home, I noticed that I forgot my shoes, which were my only ones. The next morning, I went to the school secretary, and she said yes, they were found, but the cleaner has binned them because they are broken. She thought they were maybe left intentionally. I started to cry and said they are the only ones I`ve got, and I`ll not be getting new ones just because I`ve lost them. Miraculously, my plastic bag appeared from underneath her desk with my shoes inside. I can`t remember whether I was more grateful or more embarrassed, and I have no idea whether anyone has contacted my parents and what they would have said. It was a rather wealthy kids` school, and this was because we couldn`t afford the bus fare to go to the more mainstream one either.

When I started to earn my own money, I vowed never to wear old shoes again in my whole life, and I hope I`ll never have to.

Funnily enough, people who know me now think I look expensive. Because I moved to a new country, they don`t know how I grew up.

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 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?

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?

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

29. Wort des Jahres?

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

31. Song des Jahres?

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 :-))