Don’t comment on my weight, please!

For this year's birthday we went to the Cailler chocolate factory (This has been brought on by bumping into an old school friend who barely recognized me because “it’s the hat – and you’ve grown wider, haven’t you?” Really? I didn’t know until you pointed it out to me! /sarcasm) So seriously, what is it with people feeling the need to comment on the fact that I’ve gained some weight over the last few years? I have depression, my dad died – honestly, a few kilos gained by comfort eating (chocoholic for life, baby!) are the least of my worries. Especially since my health hasn’t suffered and I’ve got the blood results and RunKeeper account to prove it (not that this is anyone’s business but my own).

Honestly, the most annoying thing is that old clothes (especially trousers but also blouses etc, most of which I’ve owned for 10+ years) no longer fit. Even that has an up-side, though: NEW CLOTHES! *g* Still, it’s a good thing I’ve always disliked going into high-street shops because if it was difficult to shop for my “big” bottom (big only in comparison to my teeny tiny teenaged waist), finding clothes that fit my not-thin-but-not-quite-fat shape is next to impossible.
In this article on XO Jane, Emily quotes Tim Gunn and calls women like me (and her) “on the cusp”. I mean, most high-street shops seem to stop at 42, possibly 44 (US sizes 14-16), size-wise, and in plus-size stores 44 is pretty much the smallest they have and often not really flattering on my body.

I’ve had some really good experiences ordering dresses on Etsy, maybe because it’s US-based and clothes are possibly a bit bigger there, or maybe just because cute dresses fit both my body and my brain. (I like looking cute, don’t judge! *g*) And for trousers I’ve discovered (on the opposite end of the moral spectrum in my mind, since it’s mostly big brands) that Zalando has free returns, so I can try out as many pieces as I want in the comfort of my own home.

And even if I was “truly” fat rather than “on the cusp” – isn’t it MY body, on which I, as a mostly competent adult, am the expert? The whole body weight concern trolling is so annoying (by which I mean all those well-meaning people going “but but but I’m just concerned for your health!”), especially because a) health is every person’s own concern, b) you can, as a matter of fact, be fat and still be fit, and c) if it’s just about health, how come women are SO much more policed about their weight than men? All of which boils down to this: Fat acceptance, baby!

A gem of a poem

All Is Well
Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped into the next room
I am I and you are you
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by my old familiar name,
Speak to me in the easy way which you always used
Put no difference in your tone,
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household world that it always was,
Let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It it the same as it ever was, there is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near,
Just around the corner.
All is well.
Henry Scott Holland
Canon of St Paul ‘s Cathedral

This was read at the end of today’s episode of the new BBC “Father Brown” (based on / inspired by the wonderful short stories by G.K. Chesterton). Needless to say, it made me cry, but in a good way. (The show itself is well worth checking out, imho, despite the liberties taken – the heart of it, namely Father Brown himself, is still there.)

Farewell, Papi…

Last week, my father died after a long struggle with cancer. In the end, it all happened quickly, and we were all with him when he passed, which is what he had wished for.

He is now at peace, of that I am certain, and it helps me deal with the loss. Also, so many people have been with us in their thoughts and prayers, as well as at the funeral last Friday.

Family photo

One of the cards we received had this beautiful quote on it, which I tried to translate:

Wenn etwas von uns fortgenommen wird,
womit wir tief und wunderbar zusammenhängen,
so ist viel von uns selbst mit fortgenommen.

Gott aber will, dass wir uns wieder finden,
reicher um alles Verlorene und
vermehrt um jenen unendlichen Schmerz.

– Rainer Maria Rilke, Brief 1908


When something was taken from us which we were deeply and wonderfully connected with, we lose much of ourselves. However, God wants us to find ourselves again, richer for all that we lost and increased by this infinite pain.
– Rainer Maria Rilke, letter 1908

My birthday wish

I’ve really enjoyed being back in Basel, having a proper home (small but lovely) and a good job with a bunch of very nice people. I think 2012 is shaping up to be a good year for me!

The only not-good thing is my dad’s health situation, which is still precarious. But we’re keeping the hope alive, praying and staying close as a family. You saw the tattoo I got – it’s healed nicely and I love it. I’ll get to show it to my family tomorrow when they’re coming to Basel for tea at my brother’s.

With the holiday season it’s also almost time for my birthday on January 5 – and this time I’ve decided to go the charity way: Instead of presents I want to try and raise enough money to sponsor a kid through Eduhaitian, which was founded by two of my fellow volunteers from Haiti.

If you want to help me reach my birthday goal, you can do so with Paypal:

You can also email me and I’ll give you my bank information here in Switzerland.

BADD 2011: Fighting the stigma of mental illness

I almost missed this, but today is Blogging Against Disablism Day, which I first took part in last year.

Ever since my diagnosis (first with SAD -Seasonal Affective Disorder- then also with “regular” depression) I was aware that people might judge me. It’s still much less acceptable to say “Sorry, can’t come, having a bad depression day” than “Sorry, can’t come, have the flu”. However, I was also very glad to finally know what the heck was wrong with me and be able to do something about it. This led me to decide right from the start to decide to always be honest about my mental health, and my experiences have mostly been positive. People usually seem surprised, because they have a skewed image of what people with mental illness are like – because it’s still a topic that one doesn’t talk about, as I discovered when people reacted to my honesty with admissions of their own. It confirmed that I wasn’t alone, that mental illnesses are much more common than most of us think.

Continue reading


It took almost four months, but after a lot of applications and a number of interviews I ended up with a job for a green/sustainable energy organisation in my hometown of Basel. They really wanted me, which was lovely, the team is very nice, and I’ll be involved in an issue close to my heart: creating a future where we only use ‘clean’ energy.

I’ll be the office administrator and also help organise guided tours through participating energy plants starting in May. That’s very soon, so I spent this week running around Basel viewing flats. Very exhausting, but hopefully one of the applications I sent in will pay off and I’ll be able to move in a few weeks. I’m just glad I’m still with my parents in April, because my dad had some bad news about his cancer and needs another operation. This way I’ll be around, visit him in hospital and support my mom.

Altogether I’m very excited about starting this new phase – in a way it feels as if my grown up life only begins now. For the past few years I’ve always been in flux, always known that my situation would change in the not-too-distant future: uni graduation, internship, New Zealand, first real job that I knew would be temporary, Haiti, back to the parents… I never allowed myself to put down roots.

Now, I can look forward to building a more stable life for myself, with a permanent job, a nice flat (two rooms!), in my home town where most of my friends still live (as does my brother).

Still job hunting

It’s been a bit over two months since I came back from Haiti and started seriously looking for a new job. After two years as Office Manager in the finance sector (yeah, I know, not where I had expected to be either *g*) and turning 30 in January it was high time to find work where I could see myself for longer. And that meant not so much changing job description (I like admin work – working in a supporting function suits me) but radically switching sectors.

I’ve always known that it was important to be involved in something I can believe in – after all, we spend so much time at work and so much of it is usually routine, that I need to know why I’m doing it in order to stay motivated and content in the longer term. Therefore I’ve been looking pretty much exclusively in the non-profit sector, both in Switzerland and in the Southern UK (because of my SAD anything further North is unfortunately out of the question) – it’s slow going, but I have a couple of interviews lined up that look promising.

Here’s where I’m looking:
CharityJob (non-profit jobs, UK)
CharityPeople (non-profit jobs, UK)
Cinfo (development aid, Switzerland, paid subscription)
ICRC (International Red Cross, international/Geneva)
Kampagnenforum: Job-Angebote (non-profit jobs, Switzerland)
Eidgenössisches Personalamt (government positions, Switzerland)


Okay, so obviously I totally failed my first attempt at NaBloPoMo. Bad blogger! 🙂

On a more serious note, however, I’m currently glued to the internet (more than usual, that is, or at least in a less frivolous fashion *g*) following the protests in Egypt after Tunisian protesters managed to oust their long-term dictator. Some serious change seems to be in the air in the Middle East as populations reach the point where they no longer accept living under undemocratic governments. The violence is shocking, and my heart goes out to the mostly youthful protesters. I don’t know how long this will go on – but hopefully it will at least result in the Western world stopping its support of dictatorships in the name of stability in the Middle East.

I get most of my news from Al Jazeera’s English coverage, with video, liveblogs and tweets from correspondents. Despite internet and mobile networks being mostly blocked, there’s also quite a lot of updates from protesters.

All of this immediacy is the biggest difference from how it used to be, I think – like during Iran’s Green Revolution we get to feel as if we’re a part of the situation, as if we know those people. The protests don’t happen somewhere far away, tiny images filtered by newsreporters, they’re going on RIGHT NOW, happening to people just like us, people that use Facebook and take videos on their phones. This is a good thing – it definitely makes spin-doctoring much more difficult as both sides are able to get their voices heard, not just those in power.