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Thursday, January 23, 2014

The day I got my very first eye wrinkle cream

I was going to post "how to choose an eye wrinkle cream" and say "I have no clue how to decide which of the many, many products might work for me, and I need some guidance here - help me out, dear readers!"

Then I realized that if I am old enough to have eye wrinkles (and I do - they were there, on Tuesday morning, in the mirror, I was actually pretty shocked) then I should definitely pull up the big girl pants and go out there.

So today I went for a quick grocery run. I was almost done when I remembered the one thing I didn't put on the list. If I didn't write it down, I never said I needed it. Right? Also, technically it is not a grocery, so it has no business being on the list at all.

I have to mention that so far I have been pretty low maintenance where skin products are concerned. See?

I don't even own a night cream. So if I am going to start with the eyes, where will it end? There has been the stray grey hair, too. Otherwise I don't look a day over 29. If you disagree, be polite and keep it to yourself ;-)

Once I have a cream, lotion or serum for every part of my face and body, how long will it take for me to get showered, "maintained" and dressed? 2 hours? 3? Gee, I hope not. Who has that time?

On his morning walk, a doctor noticed this old lady. She was sitting on her front step smoking a cigar, so he walked up to her and said,
"I couldn't help but notice how happy you look! What is your secret?"
"I smoke ten cigars a day," she said. "Before I go to bed, I smoke a nice big joint. I drink a whole bottle of Jack Daniels every week, and eat only junk food. On weekends, I pop pills, have unprotected sex, and I don't exercise at all.

"That is absolutely amazing! How old are you?"
"Thirty-six," she replied

Is there something wrong with ageing adding experience of life in general? Nope. It's been all good so far.

Just recently I have decided to still wear jeans and sneakers when I'm 70. Surely there will be a senior lady shape model? Maybe not at Banana Republic. I will always fondly remember the day when we were sent away from the Big & Tall sales guy. "There is nothing in here for you", he said. Well, thank you, we came for our 6 foot tall friend.

So I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

For now I entered that cosmetics store, and it didn't take long until a sales girl approached me. Actually she graduated from "girl" a while ago. Maybe she is even a GILF?

She was really nice, and I guess she has been trough every psychological training on how to talk to customers in order to make them feel good but still convince them they need to buy that product.

Always skeptical about those BEFORE / AFTER pics - is this the same person?
Although it might have been nice if she had said "Sweetie, you don't need anything, go and enjoy your life, see you back in 10 years!" Instead she said "it's good that you decided to start early. Let me show you some rookie products."

I suspect there is no such thing as a rookie product. Just like there is no size XXL condom, no matter what the label says. But hey, always encourage the customer, right?

I had to take only two decisions: *Tube or jar? Cream or gel? So I left after spending 45 bucks for a tube of  eye gel that if nothing else feels cool and soothing. Which beats going to the office with cucumber slices! Plus I can always hope for the placebo effect!?

*Thanks for your help, Christine!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Use Your Words - Blogger Premiere

Today’s post is a writing challenge that I hope you find as much fun to read as it was to write. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.
At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them. 
I’m using:
  • Inspire
  • Create
  • Love 
  • Joy
  • Celebrate
  • Reflect        
They were submitted by: Juicebox Confession - Thank you for another great assignment!

Those words made me immediately think of Christmas. And even though I am dying to include this picture of a miniature Christmas / snow village for which I rediscovered my love this season,

I want go a different direction today. How about a review of 2013?

I could tell you about my lovely Valentine's Date with three younger guys, or how felons created a rainbow for our St. Patrick's celebration. You could learn about Colin's joy when he got the chance to attend Ice Hockey Day Camp for Kids in summer. I could show you how I got inspired to do a laundry detergent craft for Halloween. Boooo! Finally I could re-share how I reflected the choices I made in my life so far.

But I won't serve any warmed-up leftovers from last year. You'll get something freshly made from my new 2014 book:

Last weekend we were invited to two birthday celebrations. My Godfather's 70th and Toni's 80th. Toni is the father of hubby's business partner who died in 2011. I wasn't overly motivated to attend, but in retrospective, both gatherings inspired me to reflect on life in general and how to make sure to make the most of the time we are given on this planet. 

Cocktails, food, speeches, gifts, more food and memories from the past are integral parts of a traditional family bash.

As the speakers reach a certain age they will mention how nice it is to meet extended family members not only at funerals but occasionally on joyous occasions. And right they are. 

They conclude jokingly that they are looking forward to the next birthday party in ten years' time. 

Are they - at this moment - aware that neither the birthday person nor a couple of guests and not even the speaker might be around by then? Don't get me wrong, I hope they all will be around, and they will be happy, healthy and ready to party! However, chances are they will be fed their birthday lunch by a nurse and not even realize it is their birthday. 

Like when my grandfather turned 90. He didn't feel like celebrating, didn't want any guests, he was weak and just wanted to die. A couple of weeks later he actually passed away. 

"You come into this world with nothing and you leave with nothing."

 I thought when I saw him in his casket.

That man whose family arrived in Austria as fugitives from Russian progroms only to get away to Palestine some 25 years later. He fought for the British army and was part of the first steps the newly founded state of Israel took. He lived in a tent and worked hard. So did my grandma who arrived with her brothers from Germany. They met, got married and had two kids - one of them is my mom. 
Granddad with his daughter = my mom
He studied, worked, built a home but decided it wasn't a safe place to raise the kids. Went to Switzerland to complete his studies, got a job and had the family follow. Always did the reasonable thing.

Assembling my playmobil ambulance
His 60th birthday (yellow socks, really?)
Mid 1980s
All of his life he was all about stability, safety and keeping it low key. Can't blame him for not approving of my brother's emigrating to Israel of all places 20 years ago. 

That night in September 2007 my mom and I sat with him after ha had been washed. Although he wasn't a religious man, he spent the last years of his life in a Jewish nursing home, and all the rituals were being performed. 

Was he aware that this was going to happen? 

They say your life flashes before your eyes when you die. 

I hope that when the end credits stopped rolling, he could close his eyes and say to himself "it was a good life".

What if we watched "our movie" today? 

In our life, did we

  • Inspire others?
  • Create something useful?
  • Love unconditionally? 
  • have / bring Joy?
  • Celebrate successes, birthday, anniversaries, "just because"?
  • Reflect on our doing? 
Do we regret (not) having done certain things? Is there stuff that we want to do once we have more time, once the kids have moved out, once we paid off that mortgage..? 

What if that time never comes? 

We are friends with a family whose oldest son suffers from Nieman Pick Type C disease. They know that they only have so much before his condition is going to deteriorate, so they try and soak up every moment. They take trips and make his wishes come true as long as he is able to travel and enjoy. 

Sometimes I think "what about his younger brothers?" "What about my own son?" Just because they are not diagnosed with anything, we can't know for sure how long they will be around. Kids have accidents, develop cancer.  

My grandfather's advise for life was to save money, have a plan, try not to depend on others. When my grandparents were in their mid-60s they didn't purchase new mattresses. It's not worth it, they said. 

Not worth. 

Just like the nice clothes that we never wear because it's not for the usual Thursday. Or the precious wine - special occasions only. Having dinner in the living room? Why, we don't have any visitors?

Now I am not saying we should live every day as if it were our last - certainly not spend money like there is no tomorrow. Nursing homes are expensive, and we don't want that our kids have to pay for it. 

But it doesn't hurt to think about it. What would we do, who would we want to see? Apologize to? Say "I love you" or "I am proud of you?" 

Do yourself a favor and do some of it today! And if something is stopping you, find out, what it is, and why. Deal with it as long as there is time!

"You come into this world with nothing and you leave with nothing." 

Today I don't agree with it anymore. 

When a baby is born, he doesn't own anything - but he has all that he needs to make sure he is being taken care of. He is vulnerable, and he trusts you to hold him, love him, feed him, protect him. 

I guess when you die and reflect on all that you have done, not only can you say that you held, fed, loved and protected a number of people, but that you have created something, inspired others to do and celebrate great things and brought joy into people's lives.

Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Pay it forward

As a former Starbucks partner (employee) I always enjoy hearing those drive thru stories where one person decides to start a chain of random acts of kindness and pay for the customer's order behind them:

These are examples of what two blogger friends did:

Brooke's birthday was full of acts of kindness

Michelle's Village - because sometimes it takes a village

As for me I am always quick about clicking like and commenting "I am in" when somebody posts a pay it forward activity. I was a total slacker on this one, though. January 4, 2013 I posted the following:

As it was January, the month of making resolutions

I went ahead and printed out address labels so I would be ready when inspiration would strike - let's say in February. Or maybe March. Surely people would have forgotten about it by then and be really surprised and pleased. 

Then I got busy. St. Patrick's Day. Earth Day. The frog party. Our trip. Summer break. Colin starting Kindergarten. Colin turning 5 years old. Halloween. Getting ready for our - and other people's - advent calendar. You get the picture. 11 months gone. Ironically I was blogging about getting organized and not procrastinating all the time. 

Time to get going! 

A disadvantage of wanting to do things nicely (perfectly?) like including a craft and a nice hand written card, oh and maybe a picture - is of course you never get around to do it. 

On Dec 11, 2013 I proudly shipped off my packages including a printout of the original Facebook post, a couple hand written lines and Swiss chocolate (what's not to love, right? Especially if you live, let's say, in Dubai, Manchester or Los Angeles.)

Of course paying it forward is not about buying chocolate. So let's see if  I can come up with something else I did in 2013.

Turns out Colin did. As mentioned I did some purging at our house. Threw away stuff. And then there was the cute stuff like the stuffed Barbapapa and the "soft bowling Barbafamily" Colin loved so much as a 1 year old. 

Usually when I ask him about the baby toys, he always, always wants to keep them, claiming he still plays with them. I heard about a little girl who would dance triangles if she got them. (Quote, her mom) This time he agreed to give them to that girl he doesn't even know. I heard she was very happy when she got our box!

Same goes for the Canada shirt. He wore it until he could hardly fit into it - or undress for that matter. It went to a younger boy who actually IS Canadian.

I am part of a group of online mommies who support each other when some of the husbands are insensitive or the kids pushes our buttons. We exchange restaurant and hotel recommendations and post cute baby pics. Whenever one of the ladies needs help with her CV, gets fired or is nervous about a job interview, I am there to help.

My time for charity. That's a lot of hours I could have spent playing with the little guy, having coffee with a friend, taking a nap or blogging. Instead I attended countless meetings, some of them of the disturbing kind, organized events, baked cakes and worked at our consignment store.  

As I will hand over my duties at the yearly assembly in March, I will have to think about something new to do. Oh, look!! 

Oops, I did it again!

Friday, January 10, 2014

January's Secret Subject Swap - the Dream

Welcome to January’s Secret Subject Swap. Again 12 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  
Sit back, grab a cup and check them all out:

Careful, though!
Baking In A Tornado 
My subject is 

What was your most recent dream?
(Either a literal night time dream or a more abstract wish)

It was submitted by Juicebox Confessions - thank you!

I'll have to cheat a tiny little bit about the "recent". I suffer from insomnia, and I usually don't happen to sleep deep and long enough to dream. And if I do, I can't remember. However I do have a dream that has stuck with me for - let me count - 14 years. Here goes:

I walk in a forest. It is a gorgeous spring day. Blue skies, birds are chirping, the water in the creek is gurgling gently, squirrels are running around, everything is really nice and peaceful, you get the picture. 

I am alone, but along the way I keep meeting other hikers, and we exchange a couple of words. Some mention that it is not recommended to cross the bridge to the other side to the river.

Of course the next thing I do is crossing the bridge. On the other side everything is totally different. Cold temperatures, no more greens - only fallen and petrified trees. And rocks. Everything is grey. Wasteland, sort of.

The cheerful creek is now a torrential river, and the whole atmosphere is really distressing. But I am too stubborn to turn around and go back to the other side. I don't know where I am going, but I am going. 

As if my heart wasn't pounding enough before - all of a sudden a grey wolf stands directly in front of me. I almost faint. I never had a dog, and I can relate to cats better. What am I gonna do about the wolf? Surely he can smell that I am afraid. Is he going to attack and maul me?

The wolf approaches me. I can't move. Then he nudges me and walks away. I stand still, transfixed. He comes back and nudges me again. Makes some growling sounds. How scary!! After a while I get the feeling he is not going to hurt me, so I hesitatingly follow him. 

There is no more path. Just rocks. And the water race. I realize I am so lost, and I have no other chance than to follow the wolf and hope for the best. When I stand still for a minute he gets back and circles me. Then we proceed.

After a while the environment gets friendlier. We are back on a trail, there are some trees, the river has calmed down, and it's getting warmer again. From the distance I can see a log cabin. Some people are there. 

Upon getting closer I realize they are not just any people - they're old friends from school whom I haven't seen in years, but who are still familiar. The wolf has taken me home! I turn around and want to thank him. But he is gone.

This was my unforgettable dream. I remember waking up being very confused. It all seemed so real, and I was trying to figure out the message: 

  • Don't cross the bridge when they tell you not to - obviously! 
  • Don't go on a hike alone and without a map?
  • Wherever you go - you'll end up back home?
  • But what about the scary, yet friendly wolf?
After a couple of days I was still bothered by the dream. I had the perfect life, everything was going fine, why was I feeling so confused? 

I went online and tried to "translate" the components of my dream. Riverwolf, forest. Aha, I was in a transitional phase in my life. Really? Why? I felt even more cumbered and arranged a meeting - a seance - with a dream interpreter. I have never in my life before and after reached out to someone like this, but I felt I had to do it this time.

My first impression of the guy's place met the cliche I had in mind. Dream catchers, candles, crystals all the way. But he was nice, listened attentively, asked questions, and it didn't take long and I started to cry. 

We talked about my boyfriend who didn't want to move in with me, and why this was bothering me in my otherwise perfect life. My "guru" talked about shamanism and told me that the wolf represented my intuition. And the dream had showed me that I could trust and follow my intuition, even though it could be scary at times.

I didn't understand half of it, but on my way home I felt calm and relieved. 

Shortly after that I turned 30. I did something different to my hair. A couple of months later we moved into the most gorgeous apartment. A year later he moved out again. Talk about shattered dreams.

When one door shuts, another opens. I was free to go and do whatever I wanted. And I had a dream. Telling you about it would go beyond today's scope though - I might write about it another time. When I reach 300 likes on my new new Facebook page maybe ;-)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sunshine Award

Happy New Year! And what a way to start it: Writer B is me gave me a Sunshine Award! 

The Rules: 

Display the award on your blog. Give 7 random facts about yourself. Answer the questions I had to answer. Then nominate any amount of bloggers you choose up to 11.

My 7 Facts:

I can do better. Here's my 9 facts about me post - just ignore 2 of them and we're good. Right? No? OK, let me start over. I will use the 7 days of the week to make it fun.

#1 - I was born on a Monday. It was snowing heavily, and no taxis were available for a long time. Not sure how my parents managed to get to the hospital in time, but they did! 

#2 - Back when I used to have time to watch TV - that would have been the late 90s - Tuesdays I headed home for my weekly appointment with Dr. Ross. 

#3 - This year January 1st was on a Wednesday. I like to watch the traditional New Year's Concert in Vienna. On Youtube in my PJs. I would not want to go there in person. It's a very formal event. 

#4 - Forth of July 1776 was a Thursday. OK, that's not a fact about me. But it was a Thursday when I arrived in the USA to live and work. Then I got annoyed waiting at immigration...

#5 - Friday night the three of us usually go out for dinner after a hard week's work. This picture was taken two years ago - when it wasn't a frequent thing yet and still reason to have our picture taken by Pasquale, the owner -  at our all time favorite Italian restaurant only 10 minutes from home. 

#6 - We got married on a Saturday almost 10 years ago. Man, did we look young back then! We celebrated in a 1000 year old castle with almost 100 guests.

#7 - We don't mind having no plans on a Sunday and just chill out at home catching up on reading or iPad games.

My Questions:

1. If you could go back in time ten years and tell yourself one thing, what would it be? 

There's more to life than your job. Stop and smell the freshly cut grass, the apple pie and the cinnamon scented candles!

2. What’s your favorite ice cream flavor? 

Mint & Chocolate Chips

3. If you were to take me on a date, where would we go and why? 

As you and your friend Gwen are already doing the Tour de France I would invite you to a Tour de Suisse as well. We have beautiful sights, chocolate and cheesy foods.



There's just one thing, you would need to stay until September. That's when the hockey season starts around here. So after all the touristy things we were doing over the summer we could catch a game.

4. Above all else, what are you afraid of? 

Sickness and death of family and friends.

5. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? 

Quit my day job and finish writing my book. Publish it. 

6. What has been your favorite age to be and why? 

Looking back I regret that I didn't enjoy my childhood more. I always wanted to get older and do the grown-up things. Why??? I can't go back, so I can definitely say that I am enjoying the years since Colin was born the most.

7. Coffee or tea? 

Coffee. I only drink tea when I am sick. Or at the Chinese restaurant.

This is the Sunshine Award so I’ll follow Beth's idea to nominate bloggers who bring sunshine into my life with their fabulous writing:

Juicebox Confession

Baking in a Tornado

Menopausal Mom

The Rowdy Baker

Coach Daddy 

Comic Strip Mama 

Crazy meets Exhaustion 

FBX Adventures

A Cocktail a Day

Measurements of Love

Congratulations, Bloggers and a Happy New Year!