Book Review: Sabbatical of the Mind: The Journey from Anxiety to Peace by David L. Winters

Goodreads is my number one source when it comes to discovering new books. I log on nearly every day to see what my connections have been reading and have rated as excellent, and naturally, these books are slowly added to my to-read list, which is now at 1,268! One other way I find new books is by entering Goodreads’ giveaways, where I was lucky enough to receive this book.

Sabbatical of the Mind: The Journey from Anxiety to Peace is David L. Winters’ journey in temporary unemployment, a search for a way to reduce his anxiety, and his successful re-entry to work. To be able to give my opinion accurately in this review, I need to start with what I didn’t like about the book. I feel guilty saying this as a Catholic but, for me, it was just a bit too religion based. I don’t mean this in any disrespect to the author and his religion. I guess, as someone going through anxiety myself, I just didn’t find God as the answer as plausible as he did. It made it harder for me to relate to Winters and as a result, I didn’t get as much from the book as I originally thought I would. However, I have to admit there were times I was jealous of his strong relationship with God. To have that comfort must be a real help.

On the positive side, Winters is a good storyteller and his simple language made the book easy to read but didn’t diminish the struggles he was going through. I felt that he provided a very good build up to where he is today, not just by recalling his sabbatical, but also through stories of his past and the various times he began to realise his anxiety was becoming a major problem.

Winters doesn’t endorse taking a sabbatical. He very much so keeps the story to his personal experience, why he took it and how he made it worthwhile. Nevertheless, he has sold the idea of a sabbatical to me. Not necessarily in the form of taking months off work, but remembering to step back from the stress and looking after my mental health from time to time.

I can’t overly recommend this book as it really wasn’t for me but I would recommend it if you are looking for stories of spiritual guidance.

Book Review: Sabbatical of the Mind: The Journey from Anxiety to Peace by David L. Winters

Book Review: Sabbatical of the Mind: The Journey from Anxiety to Peace by David L. Winters

6 Things To Do This Autumn/Winter

Some people have begun slowly retreating themselves inside, like reverse vampires, now that autumn is here and winter is fast approaching. While you won’t find me running around outside in -5 weather, you also won’t see me spending my time moaning until Spring arrives. Autumn/Winter can be good for you too if you let it. Here are 6 things you can do to perk yourself up!

Rehaul your wardrobe. Throw out anything you haven’t worn in a couple of months and use the space to build the wardrobe you want. A new season is always the best time to give yourself the makeover you’ve been thinking about for ages.

Take advantage of the dark nights. No doubt Netflix will feature high on your agenda but also put some time aside to read the books you always wanted to, learn a new language or take up a new hobby.

Enjoy nature. The sun always draws us outside but autumn and winter have a lot to offer too. You are never too old to crunch in the fallen leaves or build a snowman. Take some Instagram snaps to document the changing seasons – send them to your friends so they can also appreciate the beauty.

Berlin in Autumn

Berlin in Autumn

Crunch leaves. This is something I will never grow out of. This and snow, which also makes an appearance this time of year. Although, it has been very warm for November, do you agree?

Make someone smile. Christmas is the season of goodwill, so why not spread some of your own. There are some people who do not enjoy the season for personal reasons. Make someone smile this year. No doubt even a simple gesture will be appreciated and believe me, it will bring you much more satisfaction than any present can.

Get yourself that gym membership. Most of you will have this in mind as a New Year’s Resolution, but there is no time like the present. The gym is dry and warm and you will look rocking by the time the sun shows it rays again.

Gaining Confidence in September

Last month’s confidence post was such a hit that I just had to make it into a series of some sort. Admittedly, I was nervous publishing the first post as I wrongly presumed that people would just see me as pathetic. However, things went the opposite way and I actually ended up overwhelmed by the amount of support from everyone. Last month I wasn’t so hot confidence-wise, but there were some things I was proud of and felt the need to share, if only for the reason to remind people that no step is too small. Again, please feel free to share any steps you have made recently in the comments section.

I managed to head my first team meeting without stumbling over my words too much.

I set up an appointment for the doctor without apologizing for my bad German.

As a follow on from last month, I managed to wear some of my most daring lipsticks to work. Hello, Mac Heroin!

I went and had boots which were waiting around for a year to get reheeled (I was too afraid before as it meant speaking about a new topic in German).

MAC lipstick and lip liner in 'Heroine'

MAC lipstick and lip liner in ‘Heroine’ –

Gaining Confidence Step-by-Step

This is one of those posts which just popped into my head and I wanted to get down as soon as possible, so you will have to excuse me if it is not very organized. I was thinking a lot about confidence, how important it is and, like me, how there are so many people out there who strive to have it. My idea of having confidence is being able to walk into a room if people I don’t know and be able to socialize and even make a few acquaintances/contacts during the time I am there. At this stage, I still find it hard to even look people I know in the eye when I am speaking. One day, hopefully, I will reach that level but until then, I need to learn to be happy with the small steps I make. So basically, I wanted to write this post to reach out to people like myself who also have problems in this area. I wanted to remind them that small steps are the way forward, and to be proud of each one you take. I am going to try to do this by posting each month the positive steps I have taken to be a more confident version of myself. Let me know if you find this useful, and I would love to hear about your steps in the comments below, or by in a similar post you have written.

This month I have:

I felt confident enough with my body to wear cropped tops.

I felt confident enough to wear lipstick going to work.

I felt confident enough to go on a night out without drinking alcohol.

And finally, most importantly, I was confident enough to believe in myself, communicate my skills successfully across to others, and land myself a great promotion in work.

Confidence quote

Picture by Anne Adrian via FlickrCC.

8 Things You Should Know When Moving to Berlin

I have been living in Berlin for nearly four years now. I came here on the back of an unpaid internship with three suitcases and four nights booked in a hotel and like many expats, not one word of German. To say aspects of integrating here have been a struggle is an understatement. It can be tough and very stressful. Now it is my time to give back to the people and offer my top tips for anyone planning on moving to Berlin and who are lucky enough to read this.

1. Book your Bürgeramt appointment online. When you arrive in Berlin, it is required that you register at your local Bürgeramt. The Bürgeramt is a sore point among foreigners as locals alike, as you can find yourself sitting in a waiting room for hours at a time waiting to register. Skip the queue by booking an appointment online (website in German).

2. Do your research before going to any Amt. There is no way of getting around going to the Bürgeramt in Berlin, and the Finanzamt if you plan on working in the city. There are forms to fill in and it is rare to find an employee who can speak good English, or wants to for that matter. Save yourself a lot of hassle by researching information online before your appointment. Most forms can be found online and websites like Toytown Germany often have step-by-step guidelines how to fill them in, as well as information on what you need to bring, on their forums. It also helps to smile and be polite and speak as much German as you possibly can. If they know you are trying, they will be more willing to help and may also share their sprinkling of English with you.

3. Be sure to have back up living arrangements. Unless you are lucky enough to have somewhere lined up to live in Berlin, be prepared for days, if not weeks, of apartment viewings. Apartments are rare these days in Berlin and viewings can often begin by waiting in a queue of thirty people to even get into the hallway. We were lucky enough to find somewhere in a couple of days of arrival but believe me, that is a rare occurrence. Book into a hostel or a short-term apartment while you look and have some money put aside in case you need to prolong your stay.

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The Mall of Berlin. Read a full post about the shopping centre here.

4. Research what you are looking for in a bank. There are many banks in Germany whom offer quite different perks and services. Before you sign up to one bank which you will then be unhappy with, shop around. For example, Sparkasse fees are only €3 per month, while Deutsche Bank fees are €5 per month. However, Deutsche Bank offer services in English.

5. Open an account, get a tax number etc. as soon as possible. This is particularly important if you are coming to Berlin to work. While the aforementioned activities are relatively simple, they can also take longer than expected. Plus, moving to a new country can be expensive. You do not want your first paycheck delayed because you do not have all the necessary information ready.

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The Reichstag. Photo via FlickrCC.

6. Book an internet provider as soon as possible. We live in a day and age where it is almost impossible to function without internet access. If you agree with that statement then make sure that you call up your chosen internet provider to set up a connection as soon as possible. If your apartment is already wired for an internet cable you should not have much of a problem and most likely will receive a box in under a week. If your apartment needs to be wired for internet, unfortunately you could book looking at a wait of up to a month.

7. Enroll in a German class. While it is possible to live in Berlin without knowing any German, if you plan on staying in Berlin long term, your life will be much easier if you at least have the basics. Something I wish somebody had told me was that free German classes are available for immigrants at the local Volkshochschulen. The course covers levels A1-B1 and a free final examination is provided at the end.

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Viktoriapark. See a full post about the park here.

8. Don’t be afraid to ask. At the end of the day, you can do as much research as you want online, but it may not have the same value as asking somebody a simple questions. Berlin is filled with expats (many whom you will probably find at work) who have been through the same process and are happy to help. The Germans are also a pretty friendly bunch will be sure to assist you with any pesky German documents.

What I Am Giving Up For Lent

Lent is upon us again and I have spent the past few days deciding what I could give up this year. Religious or not, many people seem to partake in Lent. I think most people see it as a kick start to make a positive change in their lives, quite like New Years Eve. We can use these 40 days to kick a habit niggling away at us for a while now, hopefully in a way that the chosen habit is rid of for good.

Last year, I attempted to give up bread and failed miserably. I also recently purchased a panini press so I know I will have the same luck this year. Probably the only time I have been successful was when I decided to give up meat which you can read about here. Two years later and I am still a pescetarian.

This year, I am going to attempt to give up fizzy drinks. I originally announced on Twitter that I would just give up Coca Cola, but after reading this post, I think I will go the whole hog and cut out fizzy drinks in general. Admittedly, I don’t consume fizzy drinks that much, just at the weekends. Still, they are not good for you at any time, and the vain person inside of me wants to see if cutting them out altogether will have a positive effect on my skin.

It will be hard, but I determined. The biggest obstacles will be when I am tired because I don’t drink any hot drinks like coffee to give me a perk, and when  I go to London in March because I planned on drowning myself with Lucozade. Tune in 40 days from now to see how I got on.

Organising 2015 With The Help Of A Little Friend

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I think this is the first time I have ever been excited about a piece of stationary. I bought this pretty diary in Karstadt yesterday for a bargain price of 3.50 euros. Its bright colour and plush cover are sure to cheer me up while I wait for dreary January to pass. This is going to be the key to my life throughout 2015. It will contain all appointments, blog schedules, birthdays, etc. to save my brain the hassle of having to remember every little thing. I am also going to use it to note any upcoming events in Berlin which I might be interested in attending. Four years I have lived here now and not a year has passed when I haven’t missed something I was dying to go to simply because I forgot it was on. One of my resolutions for this year (even though I said I wasn’t making any) is to actually do/see things I really want to, even if it is on my own. There is no point in missing out on life because of forgetfulness and fear. Let’s see can I get this under control and really enjoy 2015!

Have you made a similar resolution in the past? Let me know how you got on with it in the comments below.

What You Need To Know About Owning A Cavalier King Charles

I have been sitting on this post for a number of weeks now simply because I couldn’t decide how to write the intro. After much pondering, I decided to produce it the same way I would any form of public speaking – short and sweet. So, here it goes.

Let’s begin by giving a little background on this post. Below are a picture of my dogs, Bella and Mona. They are both Cavalier King Charles. Bella is the mother and Mona is her daughter. They are the best dogs in the world. The sad part is that they live in Ireland and I only get to see them twice a year. For those of you who are wondering, because I have been asked this question before, they do remember me when I come home.

Bella is lying on the mat, and Mona on the tiles.

Bella is lying on the mat, and Mona on the tiles.

Continue reading

The German Language Still Plagues My Mind

life_is_too_short_to_learn_GermanThe German language and myself have had a love/hate relationship since the moment I set foot in this country. I want to learn the language, but the language is using all of its powers of resistance not to enter into and stay in my brain. This struggle is coming to a 3-year mark soon.

 

Some of you may remember my post ‘Ich spreche nicht Deutsche’ from back in April 2012. It has been one of my most popular posts to date which soothes me in that I am not the only German language idiot out there. Things were pretty bad back then, but how have they progressed over time?

 

I still can’t speak German very well. No surprises there. I took German classes to get myself up to the B1 level but decided to take a break from going to language school at the start of the year. My Lord has it been hard to get back into things. So many promises made to myself have been broken – getting a tandem partner, speaking German with friends, self-learning from books. Such laziness and lack of motivation on my part has made it that I cannot blame anybody else for my lack of skills. The only thing I actually do on a regular basis is play the Duolingo app which I highly recommend.

 

This is the point in the blog post where I would usually ask for tips in how to learn a language. However, this is not what I need now. Instead, I would be forever grateful if somebody could give me tips on how to motivate myself and to shake away my insecurities in speaking in front of other. Hit the comments section please!

 

Protein, Pescetarianism and My Love of Food

Yesterday I got a bit stuck when looking for a blog post to write. Frustrating because I hate writer’s block. I considered doing a post about what I eat instead of meat but initially decided against it because I am by no means a nutritionist or an overly healthy person, and did not want to provide misleading information. In the space of a couple of hours, three things changed my mind. Firstly, my good friend Helen argued that there is no harm with just putting out there what it is that I eat. Secondly, it is a little irking having to listen to people question what I eat and just presume I munch on leaves all day. Why not put some of my favorite foods in writing for them to read? Thirdly, I love food and really want to incorporate the topic more into my blog. I reckoned it would be a good intro to more regular postings about what I eat, where I eat and the many tried and failed cooking attempts I will battle against along the way.

Right, so what do I eat besides those bland leaves to ensure that I get the protein meat eaters fear us pescetarians/vegetarians/vegans do not get. Well, I still eat fish and that is a really easy way to get required nutrients. A 3-ounce portion of cod, salmon, tuna or trout each provides about 20 grams of protein. I also still consume dairy products because I simply could not live without milk which gives me approximately 8 grams of protein per cup. Eggs have become a staple in my diet and even meat eaters will be aware of how much protein these bad boys offer (up to 6 grams depending on the size of the egg). As they can be prepared in so many different ways and be added to so many meals, it is really quite simple to get much of my protein from eggs. Tofu features often in my diet and is something which I actually liked some time before I choose not to eat meat anymore. It may sound gross to some but don’t laugh at the 48 grams of fat which can be sourced by eating just 100 grams of fat.

So, there is a brief guide to my protein intake in a nutshell. Nuts. Where I also get protein. Get the bad pun there? Now I briefly want to show you what I ate for last night’s dinner. Calamari rings. I have been craving these lately although the thought of eating them actually doesn’t sit very well with me. When this happens, I do what I do best, and mask the not so enticing food item. The last few times I ate the rings they were with chips and were covered in curry sauce. Not healthy at all. I combated my fear though and incorporated them into a relatively healthy dish. The oven baked calamari were placed onto a salad of lettuce, cherry tomato, cucumber, sweet corn and grated carrot. Some plain boiled rice was thrown in as well because it was left over and there is no point in wasting food. I had no dressing though which was a blessing in disguise because I wanted mayonnaise. It’s not very nice to eat a dry salad so I poured some soy sauce and hot chilli sauce over the top and voila, a horrible looking meal which was actually really tasty! Any suggestions on how it could have been better are most welcome!

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