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.

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…

About Salary Transparency in Britain

I`m from Germany, so for the first 26 years of my life, I`ve been living in a country where one`s salary is one`s best kept secret only to be disclosed to one`s bank and spouse (no, probably not even fiancee).

I used to negotiate my pay every time I started a new job (and then again when I felt I deserved a rise) and remember finding out by pure chance that I was earning significantly less, and then more (same woman, few years later – I got rises, because I asked, but she obviously hadn`t) than a colleague who almost did the same job.

It felt weird coming to Britain and seeing the salary already stated in the advert. My Scottish husband advised me not to question it – if it was written in the advert, it was non negotiable.

I fiercely disliked it, and I had loads of questions. So, did this mean that anybody could look up anybody`s earnings, and will this not inevitably lead to jealousy, comparison, stigma and “assessments” in work and in personal life, e.g. when looking for a prospective husband? Indeed I`m still finding the question “What do you do?” (for a living), and then “What does your husband do?” (I hate this question!! People ask this before they even ask his name or how long I`ve been with him), is posed far too quickly when meeting new people, and it is obvious what this is aiming at.

The longer I live here, though, the more I grew to like this transparency, for several reasons:

  • I don`t need to waste my or anyone else`s time applying for jobs who won`t pay as much as I want to earn.
  • Where adverts are brief, the salary gives a good indication on what level of skills they are looking for.
  • I`m reassured that my salary will not depend on my negotiation skills or gender, and that the male colleague doing the same work as me will earn exactly the same as me.
  • If a mistake is made with people`s pay, the member of staff will become aware of this, because colleagues openly speak about their wage slips, and can then be rectified.
  • Pressure on employers to pay a good, or at least not extremely low, wage, if they want to attract good people (and press)
  • People are more accountable, particularly those with a higher salary, because others know what they earn and expect them to really “earn”** this.

** Note: in German language, the word for “to deserve” and “to earn” is the same – could this be why we are more private about the matter, because there`s more emotional meaning just to the word?

  • The issue of women who only want to marry rich men seems a bit tricky. Instinctively, I dislike like the thought of sussing out each other`s finances at dating stage, but what if this is really important to someone (and I know people to whom it is)? It seems rude to reject someone based on their finances, but if this was me, and you would substitute “lack of wealth” with “strong desire for children”, I would like to know early and say that I may not be the one, rather than splitting over it later on. Or am I wrong here?

BLACK FRIDAY

a Re-Blog from last year. I just find it so crazy.

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As usual, my husband was watching the news yesterday when I came down for my morning coffee.

When I saw the pictures on the screen, along with frenetic screaming of men and women, I paused and watched in horror. People were punching and pushing each other, and then I saw something that looked like a big ball of people, fighting. There were a couple of policemen armed with shields, but they looked powerless.

My first thought was of another terror attack.

“No.” My husband turned round and then said slowly: “This is Black Friday!”

I just don`t comprehend it. Most people say they don`t think it`s a good idea, but when the day comes, they become… obsessed. At 8am I overheard a conversation on the bus about a woman who got up at 4am to get three Kindle Fires, and then she phoned her other half to ask if she should get one for Josh as well, since it was such a bargain. Our computer system at work crashed, and a colleague received a message about discounted computer games. She quickly took orders and passed it on to her relative who was there right now. And a substantial numbers of guests in the restaurant I visited at night took a table for four for just two people, so they`d have space for all those bags.

What is this? I don`t think it`s just about the bargain – there`s bargains all year now. Is it competition, excitement, or simply wanting to be part of something which everyone is talking about?

The Christmas Consumer Madness is certainly alive and thriving: somewhere in or around Edinburgh, a male called Josh will now get a Kindle he may not otherwise have had. If he has a sibling, this kid will now need to be found something of equal value, and of course, they cannot receive less next year. So they`ll get used to getting shitloads, and when they grow up to become the givers, it`ll come natural to be equally generous. Even if bargains stopped, and even if they couldn`t really afford it. Because it`ll be expected now.

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But last weekend, I had a chat which gave me hope. A close friend, who is wonderful but very different from myself in this department, said she wasn`t doing Christmas gifting any more and had already told everybody. She doesn`t want any  more stuff, she decided, and she feels her family don`t need it either. She much rather wants more breaks, so they`ll use the  money to book themselves into a nice hotel over a weekend when all the frenzy is over, and re-charge their batteries. Love the woman! Always did, but her… fondness of things was something I thought I`d never see change. But if she can (and all by herself, her husband swears he has nothing to do with it!!) maybe all hope is not lost.

Stay safe! 🙂

Airbrush apps and thoughts about beauty and perfection

Below, a fab post about a topic which I was wanting to write about, too, for some time.

It`s about apps which beautify your selfies, and about what they do not only to our own self esteem, if we cannot keep up with our own selfies or if they show you “imperfections” of your natural self, which you never cared about before.

I also think it raises expectations which are both unrealistic and dangerous. As Paleica writes, social media became so popular, because it was authentic. But is it still?

There was that rather catty remark from a colleague about a friend, whose facebook photos were always looking so  much better than her real self: “I saw her in the street last week, and she looks nothing like that!” My initial thoughts were to defend her – if you are really that plain, but once in a while, you get a really good photo of yourself, of course, you`ll want everybody to see it.

On thinking a bit deeper however, I don`t think it`s all that cute. The woman who saw her in the street was now, in other words, telling everyone she was an imposter. And imagine she was invited to a class reunion and felt she could not live up to her own selfies. Would she still go, or would she find an excuse? Even though we all know about the apps, we kind of expect each other, and ourselves, to look like that in real life.

What I often think is that there now seems to be an expectation that you photoshop yourself. Everyone can do it, the tools are for free – there is no “excuse”. If you don`t you stick out for being mediocre – not only don`t you look good enough, you also cannot possibly value yourself, otherwise you`d at least try. It`s the same phenomenon which has been raised numerous times in relation to cosmetic surgery. The sheer availability of it has raised standards for everyone.

BTW, apparently, the selfie culture has significantly increased demand for facial surgery…

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Heute stelle ich euch eine App vor, die mich selbst sehr zwiegespalten hinterlässt. Auf der einen Seite finde ich sie genial, auf der anderen Seite aber “horrifying”. Warum stelle ich sie euch dann überhaupt vor? Weil ich selbst bis vor kurzem nicht wusste, dass es diese App gibt und ich denke, dass es nicht schadet, wenn man sich dessen bewusst ist, dass es heute kein Photoshop und ausgefeilte Retusche-Kenntnisse mehr braucht, um entweder das Beste aus sich rauszuholen oder im Kleinen und auf die Schnelle ein sehr unreales, halbwahres Bild von sich zu erschaffen.

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If I Didn’t Post a Picture, Did It Even Happen?

The New & Old: Internet Gold

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In a world with an endless amount of social media platforms and communication outlets, it seems almost necessary to update friends and family on simply every exciting adventure in your daily life. But, only the positive things tend to be published for the world to see, leaving your life story on social media nothing but perfect.

If you do something cool, you post a picture. The better picture the more likes. The more likes, the more popular you feel. That’s the world we live in. Our perceptions of people are often based on their social media presence. How often do you find yourself referring to Instagram or Facebook accounts to figure out what people are doing/who they are dating/where they are in the world. Some people would quickly claim that they don’t participate in this behavior often referred to as “stalking,” but it’s there for the world to see…

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In Defence of the Selfie

(Repost from August 2015 for Youknowwhoyouare❤)

Although definitely a trend that`s been staying, selfies keep getting slagged mercilessly. They`re considered vain, narcissistic, attention seeking or just plain unnecessary.

I like taking selfies. There, I`ve said it. Most of them won`t ever make it online, and they usually get deleted entirely after a couple of weeks. But every so often, I feel a spontaneous need to take a selfie. I don`t keep a diary other than my blog, and I usually don`t find it important enough to blog or mention to others how I felt in a particular moment. But every so often, I want to capture it, even if just for myself.

I took a selfie while I was waiting to go into a difficult meeting. A very carefully made up woman with big fearful eyes, looking vulnerable despite evident efforts not to show it. And this was exactly how I felt, captured accurately, with no words necessary. I also took a selfie after, totally unexpectedly, bumping into someone I hadn`t seen for ages. I was beaming, wind in my hair, and the sun was shining on it. Such a happy picture!! I could almost see myself running towards her like that. Those were both for myself and not put online.

Then, there`s the selfies that want to speak to others. When I go on holiday, there`s usually pretty soon a picture of me raising a glass of something on facebook, and that`s me telling all that I`ve arrived safely, had no problems (that would have taken precedence over this glass of wine), that it`s nice here, and that I`m greeting them. I also posted a selfie from in front of the Sheriff Court where I was called for jury service, telling friends and colleagues: “Look, I`m really getting to go this time, and I`m going NOW!” The same day, I also photographed myself in a fitting room, in a nice summer dress. It was almost hilarious how many likes I got for that, but it was probably quite an innovative way to say: “Just bought my first summer dress for the season!”

Some messages don`t need words; words wouldn`t have conveyed it as well anyway. In all those three cases, they would have seemed rather dull, actually.

What annoys many is those sexy pre party selfies, usually of young and beautiful females. They are generally considered fishing for compliments pictures. I only agree in part. They are fishing no more than making yourself up in the first place. Of course, you do so in order to look presentable to the outside world, but also to feel nice within yourself. And it`s only natural that you`re more likely to want to go out and show yourself if you feel attractive, just as we all know those days where we just want to stay in our bed because we just feel… fat, usually. Selfies and social media, IMO, are merely an extension of this rather than a phenomenon itself. It`s how we behave offline, too.

It`s also natural that you`re more likely to feel sexy when you`re young, but even (or maybe especially) the young and beautiful do have their down days where they think their bum is too big, or their hair is not right, or they are simply not as hot as their ex` new flame. I`m sure it`s very comforting in such moments to look at a good picture of yourself, only taken a couple of weeks ago, which reminds you that you are indeed beautiful if only you smile. Maybe, we should all have a folder of sexy selfies just for those moments – cheaper than shopping and healthier than chocolate!

Oh – and another thing. The last two times I was on holiday I did the unthinkable: I posted a couple of bikini photos of myself (not selfies). It took me a few days and some courage, but eventually, I posted them and it has, of course, been mentioned. I don`t understand (although I half expected it). I post loads of pics that I find beautiful, especially when on holiday. But as soon as those includes oneself, and worse still, one`s own body, that`s considered rude. Why? Tell me. Please. I genuinely want to know.

Me immediately before of that meeting (which went well, by the way)

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Me en route to a rather nice meeting:

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Me retaliating to a colleague via WhatsApp:

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Me at Elafonisi Beach:

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43 Facebook likes for a 40-year old in a dressing room…

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I would have added the Court selfie, but I deleted that. Messy hair 🙂

Why are women so mean about other women`s weight?

I sometimes get the impression they totally relish it when another one puts on weight or otherwise doesn`t look good in this department. (I rarely hear this kind of talk about skin issues or bad hair days.)

Today, I overheard yet another conversation which was just plain nasty. She`s off sick from work, and everybody knows she isn`t ill, so noone who would evoke warm feelings in the first place. Someone asked about her, and someone else said no, she hasn`t spoken to her again, but she`s seen on Facebook that she is currently in Turkey, and there were photos of her sunning herself in a bikini. The moment she said “bikini” the whole focus shifted and became rather ugly.

A women at my old work lost more than half her weight and then put it back on. And some of the women were pleased about it. When I lost weight myself a year or so later, this woman was my inspiration for keeping it off. I don`t don`t want to gain weight again because it doesn`t conform to my beauty standards or would cause me health problems, it`s because I don`t want to make myself vulnerable to nasty comments. I could easily afford another few pounds, but I couldn`t deal with the sneering. I just don`t have enough confidence to be, leave alone become or regain, fat.

I don`t particularly like envy comments either, but I can deal with them because I can see them for what they are. But against fat shame, you`re utterly defenceless, at least in the short term and definitely when you are at an age where you probably have to work really hard to not get even bigger.

I think most women have or had body issues at some point in their lives, and this makes me even more puzzled if I encounter such behavior. I also know women who were big themselves, lost the weight – and with it all the tolerance and compassion they were so wanting for themselves.

Please could someone shed some light? I really want to understand, at least sort of…

 

scared of the telephone

I used to be one of those teenagers who was constantly reprimanded for spending too much time on the telephone. At one point, my parents seriously considered getting me my own number and having me pay for it. (This was the Eighties!) When I was physically with my friends and didn`t need to phone them, we phoned other people, playing pranks. I used to do telephone marketing in foreign languages, and then, of course, I moved to another country and relied on the telephone to keep contact with my family.

Then email arrived and slowly but surely replaced the telephone. I found it less intrusive. Sometimes, I would spend an hour emailing back and forward with my sister, surfing other websites while doing so and munching away without her complaining about the noise. Then came messenger, and then facebook, and phone calls became less and less. Someone once said he didn`t like facebook because it dilutes personal contact by seemingly replacing it. Although I kind of agreed, I didn`t take the warning.

Last year, I was organising my own big birthday party. I never usually celebrate my birthday, but this was a big one, so everyone was invited via facebook. Unless they worked with me, in which case they received a group email.

And then people started to phone me about it and asked for me to phone them back when I wasn`t in. And I was scared. I dialed their numbers willing them not to be in, so I could leave a voicemail, which would then prompt them to leave a message on facebook. Although both were relatives, we never phoned each other, and we hardly saw each other either. It wasn`t necessary. We were all on facebook. I was surprised myself at how stressful I found the prospect of phoning them now; and how relieved when both conversations “went well”.

A few months ago, something happened at work. My colleague texted me on a Sunday before I came back from holiday, and I just couldn`t wait to speak to him, so I asked for permission to call. It felt weird talking to him actually two good colleagues from my own living room, as if we crossed a boundary. We drank from the same cup and spoke about our periods, but we never ever phoned each other outside work or work related nights out.

I wonder how I could allow this to happen. Being scared to telephone people I`m related and close to. And I honestly think social media has done this. If it wasn`t for facebook I would have seen or phoned those two relatives more often. If it wasn`t for texting, we would all phone each other to arrange nights out and would feel less awkward doing so on occasions when texts won`t do. And if we didn`t have email, I`d have those hour long phone conversations with my friends at home much more spontaneously and rather than schedule them just because we can. Phoning feels intrusive now, but it never used to. Smartphones meant to bring us closer together, but I really wonder whether they made us grow further apart instead.

I have one friend who always phones me rather than text or email, and she`s a self confessed technophobe. I sometimes phone her, too, just to prove to myself that I`m still brave enough to do so.

I wonder who`s still visiting friends and family without calling ahead? We don`t. But we used to all the time.

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Political Correctness gone Mad

I had an email today, about a colleague from another department, obviously not known by name, needing something: “She`s always really chatty, with a big smile, always laughing…” Turned out she was referring to the only woman in the entire building (150+ staff) who is black. What`s the world coming to, if you cannot even use the color of her skin to give a physical description?