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!


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.

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Re-start

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)



A project

Tomorrow I will go see a doctor – not because of my health, but because his secretary won’t be able to work for a month or two and I might be hired part-time to fill in for her. If it works out, it’s both good and bad. Good, because I’ll be able to earn some money instead of having to sign up for unemployment, and bad because it will probably take some focus away from finding a permanent job. Still, it’d be pretty stupid to throw away a chance like that – working in a doctor’s office definitely is on my list of ‘jobs that make sense’. 🙂

In other news, my dad wanted to put together my Haiti journal as a booklet of some kind to show people that are interested (ie. family members *g*). But seriously, my dad’s computer skills are very limited, and I simply could not face the prospect of my dad shoving nasty website print-outs in people’s faces (sorry, Papi!). So I offered to put something together myself, with pictures and everything.

I’ve barely started, but already the temptation to start editing and adding is very great. I’m determined not to do it, though, to let my journal stand as it is, just prettified with some of my photos. And possibly a map or two. And reading recs. But other than that, NOTHING, I tell you, nothing! *g*



Two important definitions

It struck me that I should probably explain two rather important words which form the basis for many ‘issue’ discussions: Privilege and intersectionality.

Especially the first one is vital – if one doesn’t understand privilege, how can one understand the mechanisms of oppression, prejudice and marginalization in all their different forms (racism, sexism, disablism, homophobia, transphobia, etc.)? But intersectionality is also rather important, not just to understand that people can be part of several marginalized groups at once, but that it’s also possible to be disadvantaged in certain areas while still discriminating or holding privilege against others. In discussions with friends, that often where I run into a wall: a poor white person might be economically disadvantaged in comparison to a rich person of colour, but they still have the advantages that come of having white skin.

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