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Friday, January 29, 2016

Welcome to Switzerland, 777!

Today was an exciting day for Switzerland! 

At least for people who are interested in aviation! 

Our airline's first Boeing 777 made its inaugural flight from Everett, WA to Zurich, Switzerland! One of my former coworkers was the project leader for this and as such on board as a passenger.

Of course they did not just fly straight home. The pilot suggested...

Photo credit: Swiss International Air Line
...taking a little detour to say hello to the Matterhorn!

Photo Credit: PGG - thanks, my friend! :-)

I was following the aircraft on flightradar24 and Swiss life stream

Photo Credit: Roberto - many thanks!
PS: probably the best feature (for me as a blogger, hahaha): there is WIFI on board of that beauty!!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Interview with my 7 year old boy

You’ve seen those questions on Facebook… I just had to ask them, too! 

Here goes:

1. What is something I always say to you? It’s lunch / dinner time!

2. What makes me happy? Writing, playing "Words with Friends" on the iPad, cooking

3. What makes me sad? When we fight.

4. How do I make you feel? Dunno.

5. What was I like as a child? How am I supposed to know, I wasn’t around?

6. How old am I? Forty-something!

7. How tall am I? 140cm (4'7''), no wait, taller, 150 (4'11'') maybe?

8. What is my favorite thing to do? See question number 2! But I can tell you my favorite things to do: playing hockey, playing iPad and reading!

9. What do I do when you're not around? You go to the office. When you’re at home, you cook and make sandwiches for hockey practice.

10. What am I really good at? Cooking, laundry – duh, stuff that housewives have to do!

11. What am I not very good at? Being strict, not like Daddy anyway.

12. What do I do for a job? Selling computer stuff, answering phones, doing something with the data in the computer.

13. What is my favorite food? That good meat you order at Outback Steakhouse, with baked potato that is wrapped in foil and filled with sour cream.
14. What do you enjoy doing with me? Going to the mall, which is also my favorite thing to do with you!

Monday, January 18, 2016

My journey to deep sleep - the Sequel

You may remember my seeing my esoteric friend last year in hopes of being able to sleep better. All in all it was a partial success, at least I get some nights with almost uninterrupted sleep, but then there are the other ones, still, that I toss and turn and end up getting up in the middle of the night.

My Juice Plus guru told me about hypnosis therapy in a completely different context, and all of a sudden I started thinking maybe somebody like this might be able to help me?

Today I had my very first hypnosis session!

Before getting to the actual counting backwards and finger snapping, we sat, and the lady asked me a bunch of questions about my life, my parents, my growing up, major life events, especially tough ones. 

Of course I mentioned feeling abandoned at the hospital at age five, and my moving to San Diego and back unexpectedly. 

"Tell me more" - she thought she was onto something. "How did your 9/11 day unfold?"

I told her.

It was 6am in San Diego, CA, I woke up to my cell phone beeping repeatedly. Friends from Switzerland were texting me.

"Are you safe?"
"Don't go near tall buildings!"
"You're not in NYC, right?"
"The Twin Towers are on fire!"

I was confused. What were they talking about? I turned on the TV and saw the first plane crashing into the tower. Oh my God, what a distasteful and sick animation! It took me a while to realize that this wasn't an animation. This was real, and this was only the beginning.

"Bingo" she said. "You woke up from your peaceful sleep to those terrifying messages and news! No wonder you could never again go to sleep without being afraid that something bad might gonna happen!"

Come on now, this was a long time ago. I didn't even know anybody who got killed. Quite the opposite, actually. A girl from my Swiss town was working nearby and "escaped". She and her coworkers were running many blocks in their high heels until their boss said this was ridiculous and bought them sneakers. 

"Don't take this lightly" she said. "Even if your head tells you it's over, your subconscious might still be bothered. Plus it wasn't just the horrible events in the New York area, what about your abruptly packing up and leaving? You were THIS CLOSE of making your dream come true!?"

Did she read my blog?

So we went to work.

Lie down, relax, breathe in, breathe out, and as I am counting to 5, your eyes are gonna get so heavy, you'll want to close them,... 

We had to start over because those eyelids of mine weren't getting heavy enough at first ;-)

At some point I saw a scene that I described as the UFO arrival in the E.T. movie. Really! Don't laugh!

"Tell me more, what can you see, is anybody there? How are you feeling?"

I didn't know. Couldn't see anything, except than two really bright spots, really, really close. 

The eyes of a black panther! 

What's going on here, I thought a wolf was my companion?

"A panther, at the beginning of your life's path, that's awesome, very powerful. What is it telling you?"

Nothing, just standing there, staring at me. I thought it was wise. Protective of me.

"So now I want you to imagine a lit, airy hallway. On your left side there's just a long, white wall. On your right side, there are doors. For every year of your life there is one door. Walk down that aisle now. Tell me what you see! How do you feel, who's there? What door are you gonna open?"

I immediately thought of a hospital corridor. I was alone. Of course. Door number 5. My checking in for the surgery when I was five. My Mom leaving me there, crying.

"So you're in your hospital bed now, feeling all alone?"



"Where is the panther now?

Oh my goodness, he's right there, next to the little girl that I was!

"Hold your panther tight, does this feel comforting?"

Very much.

"Is it possible that the panther was there with you back then? Looking out for you?"

I guess. Man, too bad I didn't know.

"Would it have made a difference if you had known?"

Of course! I wouldn't have been alone! We could have had fun!

"Allright. We're leaving this year now. I want you to repeat after me: you weren't alone. You'll never be alone. Your panther is with you!"

Then we went to 2001. She asked me to focus on the positive. The people who cared about me and texted me. The fact that I made it home safely with one of the very first flights to Europe. She pointed out that there was nothing I could have done to prevent these attacks from happening, and that I shouldn't feel guilty for not being there (I never even thought of that!) instead to be happy that my number wasn't up yet.

"Repeat after me: those events belong to the past. It was tragic, but I let go of them now. Awful things will always happen. I'll try not to let them get to me. I'm grateful for being alive, and I will live life to the fullest, having fun, being infectiously cheerful and courageous, taking care of my precious son."

That was about it.

I should expect to be shaken up for a couple of days before feeling more calm.

So I thought, as part of the process of letting go of the past, I'll write this post. 

Of course I also looked up the black panther. She was right. An awesome, awesome guide and guardian! 

Instead of hoarding more Bearistas I should probably wish for a cute, cuddly stuffed black panther!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Use Your Words - Different Countries, Different Customs!

Today’s post is writing challenge. 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.

My words are: 

deviant ~ revel ~ awakening ~ burst ~ sneer

They were submitted by The Angrivated Mom thank you, Steena!

Every year in January, when a new season of "Auf und Davon" (=up and away) starts, I get to think. 

It's a reality show portraying Swiss people who move to a new country. 

You have met my friend Annette and her family in several posts - they appeared in season 2014.

I'm always in awe watching the people in this show. The courage to leave everything behind for good!

At some point pretty much all of them say "you know, you only live once. If you have that dream, you've got to follow it. I can't wait to revel in my new life."

Whoa. Following big dreams require our ways to be deviant from your usual ones, bursting out of our comfort zone. 

In our "first world" we are so high up in the hierarchy of needs that we seem to have the luxury to ask ourselves if this is it.

Normality. Day to day life. Responsibilities. We finished our education, got a job or five, a car, a house, got married, had kids - now what? Isn't there something that's missing? 

A challenge?

For the rest of us it's not always comprehensible. 

There is this family from season 2015 for instance. 

She successfully ran a bakery store, he built up a skate- and snowboard business which was doing great as well. With their three kids, then between 6 and 13 years old, they were living in a nice house in Thun at the base of the Bernese Alps in Switzerland, land of chocolate and watches, low unemployment, low taxes, generous benefits.

Guess what, they wanted out. Abundance was preventing them for being happy.

This family is in good company. About a tenth of the Swiss population lives abroad. (As opposed to 2.7% of U.S. non military citizens). Most Swiss leave because Switzerland has become too crowded (490 Swiss (84 U.S.people per square mile), and because people are too narrow minded - nothing ever really changes around here. 

BK (before kids) they had done some traveling through Costa Rica, and they fell in love with the beautiful country, the friendly people and the laid back lifestyle. 

They wanted to live the simple life. Especially for their children who have been growing up having it all.

Pura vida, yay!

Guess what, as soon as they arrived, they were up for some rude awakening:

  • The new SUV they had ordered well ahead, wasn't ready.
  • Against written agreement, the car dealer didn't accept the check they wanted to pay the car with. They had to wire the money, and the dealer kept saying it didn't arrive.
  • The wife and the younger kids left San José alone and got to their destination by rental car.
  • The house they had rented via internet, didn't meet their standards. Not by far. No light in some rooms, no house keys, filthy furniture.
  • The people who were supposed to sell them the land to build their guest house, suddenly weren't in a rush to sell.
  • When they called, they were always being put off.
  • The little daughter was home-sick and had a really rough time at school in the beginning. Teachers and schoolmates spoke English and Spanish. The Swiss kids? Nope.
  • The husband got sick, had a high fever and lost consciousness. Turned out he caught the dengue virus. Local medical care was not satisfactory, he had to take a day-log trip to the hospital in San José in his critical condition.

And just like that, it was 

pura vida, my ass!

The thing is, you can try and sugar coat it all you want, but if you're Swiss you can't just quit expecting that written deals are being respected, people hold their promises, amenities are available upon request, and apartments in the jungle are spick-and-span. 


Now I'm far from wanting to sneer about them. 

If I wanted to do so, I'd pick the couple who went to Greece in order to finally have more time together. Buying, remodeling and opening a blues bar kind of cut into their quality relationship time. 

Or the family of six who signed a contract to buy a 2 mio resort without having the money or at least realistic investor prospects, but uprooted their kids anyway. The Mom is living her dream of working with the Aborigines in Down Under, while the Dad has been "commuting" between Switzerland and Australia for two years and counting, because - stable income.

As I was saying, I don't mock the Costa Rica family. They seem like very nice people, and if I'm ever there, I'd probably want to spend some time in their "jungelow" in Santa Teresa. 

Yes, you've heard right. They got over the initial shock and made their dream come true! They run a successful guest house business in the jungle and love it there! A former classmate of mine visited them last year.

Of course, their lifestyle isn't exactly simple

They live in a luxurious villa with a pool, A/C, wifi, the works. 

Purchasing power with Swiss money is excellent, which allows them to build more guest houses.

Their children attend international school, along with other expats in the area. 

Soon the oldest son is gonna have to make some tough decisions regarding his education. His options require leaving the beach paradise and either going to college in San José or returning to Switzerland for a 3- or 4-year long vocational training - cause this kind of sought-after apprenticeship is not available in Latin America. 

This is one of the reasons for which Swiss many emigrants
come to realize that everything isn't bad about living in Switzerland and actually move back, part-time or permanently.

I did it myself - although in my case it was clearly 9/11's fault. Plus my good friend's who is now my husband.

So every year in January, as a new season of this emigrant show rolls around, I get to think "what if". Not in a longing way. Just curious. 

For this post's sake, let's try and imagine.

Once I'd finally have obtained "eligible to work" status, I'd be a recruiter for IKEA in San Diego, CA, 

living in a small apartment on Nobel drive

After my experience with roommates and failed dates I'd have wanted to live alone. 

How long would I have been able to pay the rent on my - compared to Switzerland - low salary? 

How would every day life have been able to hold up against my dream of living and working in sunny California?

Would I have been successful in my job in order to advance? 

Would I have met a nice guy, gotten married at the Del, have kids?

I just realize I limited my "what if" to basically the same life I've had here - just there. 

Nothing wrong with that - at all.

But come on now, we're talking fiction here, where was the writing gonna come in, and the party planning? Or both, for that matter - a book deal that'd allow me to write about organizing parties? 

I think I need a retreat to think about things. After all I met my future me in California!!?

Now go find out what my blogging friends' words were, and what they did with them:

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Awesome vs Fabulous

Last night during hockey practice, Lorinda, a dear blogger friend of mine (check out her blog, she likes all things maple and more!) posted this:

I immediately loved it!

Unfortunately it was already 6:30pm, not too late to be awesome, of course, but way past my coffee drinking time, so I postponed this plan to today.

This is what I had in mind:

Drink coffee at home
Drive to the mall
Drink coffee at Starbucks
Be fabulous
Drive home
Make lunch
Drink coffee 
Be fabulous
Play on Facebook
Ignore negativity (is that even an activity?)
Make after-school snack
Drink coffee 
Be fabulous
Hope that laundry takes care of itself
Make dinner
Drink wine
Be fabulous
Go to sleep

Yes, for some reason I thought the meme said "be fabulous".

So this morning - while drinking coffee - I looked at it again, and I was wondering if fabulous and awesome meant the same thing? Officially yes, as it seems.

Still, somehow I thought if I was gonna be awesome I couldn't go to the mall. Fabulous is going to the mall, awesome contains the awe factor, so if I was gonna be awesome, I had to do awesome things, right?

So I decided to go for a run.

Yes, me, of all people. 

I haven't gone for a run in over 20 years. Seriously! I hate running. I am out of shape, and even when I was in college, and we had to go for a 5k run twice a week at school, I hated it. Some people are not made for it. 

But hey, within the last couple of months I have gained so much weight that the only jeans that "fit" are NYDJ - don't get fooled, I said NYDJ, not DKNY!!

While I'm still looking for a way to get rid of 20 pounds, give or take, without having to pass on the five food groups pizza, pasta, enchilladas, chocolate and wine, I figured a little exercise might not hurt. 

So, this morning at 8:36 I went on my run.

Of all mornings in the past two months when it was mild and dry, I chose today. 
-1°C = 30°F The good news is that I wasn't going to break out in a major sweat. Right?

I ran for a minute, then I had to stop and take this awesome picture:

I ran for another minute, then I had to stop to catch my breath. And take another picture.

I ran, I walked, I breathed, I took pictures

I don't know if what I did qualifies as going for a run, but at least I was out in the cold, moving forward, breathing fresh air and feeling not awesome, but kinda proud.

Back at the house I figured there is no time like the present to clean up the garage. 

I am finally expecting my new car that I ordered in June last year, that was supposed to arrive in Switzerland in Q3/15, and I am going to need a bit more space to open the door of said car.

I was feeling not awesome, but kinda proud.

As I was cleaning up anyway I might just as well take our cans, paper, glass and other accumulating, space consuming stuff to the recycling paradise, I figured. 

And that's what I did. By the way, I was still in my workout gear. In the meantime you know me, I am not afraid to go shopping in my PJs, so no problem there.

After taking my well deserved, long shower, I finally felt kinda awesome, yet sore.

I just started the washing machine, when the following message reached my phone:

If Trump is elected president, I'm moving to Switzerland!

Allright. There goes my ignoring negativity. 

I used words like bigot, racist and a****** 
But Jules, the friend I was talking to, is a coffee drinker, so it's all good. Go read her blog, she's an awesome writer!

It was getting late, and I had no plan and no groceries, so I called the Chinese takeout place and ordered lunch, then I drove to school and waited for Mr C. 

I felt really, really awesome when he spotted me, said goodbye to his friends, and ran to my car, beaming! 

"Hi Mommy, why are you picking me up?"

If he was thinking BK or IKEA, he was hiding his disappointment well. 

Turned out he had other things on his mind.

"May I invite J over after school?"

J is the new girl at school. 

She started right after Christmas break, so ten days ago.

I don't know if I have to thank the Christmas play, if he is Mr Nice Guy in general or if it was a love at first sight thing, but he has been pretty welcoming to her and talking about her quite a bit.

He has been trying to invite her twice before, and today it finally worked out!

In order to do justice to my intentions I had coffee of course ;-) 

Plus I was being awesome. 

At least I hope so. It's tough to make conversation with a shy 2nd grader who will answer "yes", "no" or "dunno". 

After a while she told me about her older brothers, about a trip to (the M&Ms place in) London, and about picking mushrooms in the forest. Nice girl.

They did their homework and played some Trivial Pursuit.

Like a real gentleman he walked her back to school where her Dad picked her up. Aaaww!

As for me I made dinner. Veggie pizza. Practically salad ;-) 

All in all it was an awesome day! I have to do it again soon!