Cat Calling The Kettle Black

Body Shaming has become some sort of popular pastime where it seems that everything goes. In a time where everyone posts selfies, celebrates who they are or pretend to be, those who prefer to look on do exactly that. Depending on the day, I am on both sides… Usually more on the preferring-to-look than present myself side (introvert), but on a confident day, I’ll bust out a selfie. And if the lighting is right.

The issue I have with both sides of the judging medal is that people will always criticize. Even if they wrap it in a fancy compliment. I received just that (without the fancy)… One might label it catcalling, which is also a form of body shaming (and sexual harassment at that)… And it made me feel everything but confident. I agree that there are quite a few issues with social media and you have to truly consider what you want to put out there because it will be out there. But then you also have to be confident enough to shoulder the echo like a champ. The remark I received came from a friend (thankfully in a private message, not in public, which I believe he wouldn’t do) and it sparked this entire domino-effect of thoughts in my head.

Do you remember the Watzlawick story of the guy who wanted to hang a picture and needed to borrow a hammer from his neighbor? When he set out to borrow the hammer, he started to have doubts about whether his neighbor would even lend it to him. If the situation had been reversed, he would’ve let him borrow his immediately. And he goes on and on in his head and warps up this entire scenario about what the neighbor might do or think until he is so caught up in his self-destructive unhappiness that he stomps over, knocks on the door and when the neighbor greets him with a friendly “Hello”, he yells “You can keep your stupid hammer”. Well… that’s kind of what happened here.

I was offended at the comment he made instead of taking it as a compliment. The thing is that I can’t take catcalling as a compliment. I beast myself almost two hours a day, five days a week. For me. And only me. On a bad day, even a rude “compliment” can turn into an intra-head back-and-forth discussion of why men these days (generalizing) cannot simply pay a gentleman-like compliment. Why does it always (ALWAYS) have to be “Nice t!its, nice a$$, hot damn”… Catcalling is very construction-site and I condemn it. Deeply.

It makes me feel like I’m working out to be objectified. I don’t believe that even those girls (or guys) who put themselves out there in a lot less than fully dressed aim to be objectified. It’s less likely that they will be receiving honest and polite compliments, and they might even get a kick out of dirty catcalling, but deep down, it’s harassment. And nobody deserves that. And it’s never “OK”.

Rant over.

#30DayWritingChallenge

Day 29: It was supposed to be “What is the biggest barrier between you and full honesty in your journaling?”, but I just did that… so, there we go.

Photo Travel Plan

I’ve been making a list (story of my life) of what photos I’d like to take of a certain place (ahem). It then occurred to me while watching a Nat Geo documentary that I could expand my photography bucket list… Why not? It’s never simply a photo, but the journey itself. The planning, the excitement, the boarding of a plane and getting to the first location, finding enough peace to enjoy it before planning the next stop. Here’s a first draft list of photographs for me to take (photos used here except for the feature image, which is mine, courtesy of Royalty-free (Create Commons CC0)  https://pixabay.com/ (until I can replace them with my own ;) ) :

Asia

Taj Mahal (I like reflections)

At the bottom of Mt. Fuji (which looks impressive by itself), there’s a forest called Aokigahara. I like abandoned and mysterious places and this forest is notoriously named “suicide forest”. People go in there with tents if they are still contemplating, and sometimes leave strings of colorful bands wrapped around trees to find their way back out in case they change their minds. It’s said to be one of the quietest and most eerie places on earth. Visitors without an agenda would rub each other’s backs down with salt upon exiting the forest in order to get rid of evil spirits that may have attached themselves in search for an escape.

Bamboo tree alley, Japan

Skyline of Shanghai

Rice terraces, China

Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Ta Prohm Temple, Cambodia

Myanmar

 

Europe

Manarola in Cinque Terre, Italy

Lavender fields in Provence, France

Santorini, Greece

Norway Fjords

Geyser in Iceland

 

South America/ Pacific

Easter Island/ Moai

Colorful homes Caribbean Sea

Salt Flats, Bolivia

Iguazu Falls, Argentina

 

Africa

Deadvlei, Namibia (ever since I saw “Cell” with Jennifer Lopez… creepy movie, great cinematography)

 

North America

Northern Lights, Alaska

Slot Canyons, Arizona

Chicago train tracks

Door County, Wisconsin

Yellowstone, Wyoming

24 and counting, with most destinations in Asia… One continent I haven’t been to at all, but am feeling more and more attracted to in photography and travel terms.

 

#30DayWritingChallenge

Day 28: A journey

End of Day

The evening has started and I’m curling up with my TV quiz shows. I used to think that only “old people” watch those… which is probably true. But shows like Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune do help in language learning. Since I’m done studying (for now), I don’t make enough time for acquiring new language skills (actively). Of course I learn and practice every day through interacting with native English and Spanish speakers, and I feel that English has become more than a second language to me. When I first started watching Jeopardy, I didn’t even understand the questions… and they are sometimes still over my head, but I’m getting better and am ecstatic whenever I know an answer the contestant doesn’t. Even if I have no idea what drawer I had to pry open in my brain to find that kind of information.

Speaking of old… I got Chinese takeout the other day and the fortune cookie reminded me that age is a matter of feelings, not years. What a stupid thing to put in a cookie! I expect legitimate wisdom, not something I already know. And not enough with that, but I made sure to throw the message out with its Chinese leftovers. Apparently, I wasn’t thorough enough: After the dishwasher was done gurgling and splashing and puffing, I put the dishes back in their respective resting places. One fork had a message for me though… It was like the fortune cookie had looked at me while I read it the first time and thought to itself “No.. nope… She didn’t quite get it yet. She thinks she has, but… we have to take a different approach here”. So it attached itself to a utensil and survived several cleaning cycles. What a trooper! When I pulled out the fork, I saw that cookie message looking up at me, in hopeful expectation holding its imaginary arms open, yelling “Tadaa…Huh?! Huh?!” Yeah, well, fork you too!

I watch a lot of Netflix shows as well. Most of them in English, some in Spanish since I don’t want to lose what I’ve worked on for so long, but a lot of idioms and structures comes back quickly. Most of my languages I expanded passively by listening to and watching shows (after I had built a good basis abroad). I don’t have to interact with my Netflix shows (although I do) and I have yet to finish The Walking Dead, Twin Peaks, Bates Motel, and The Killing (perhaps a bit one-sided at this point). But at least I was able to scratch Haters Back Off and Saving Banksy off my diligent Virgo watching list.

Reading… yet another list. I’m still working on Stephen King’s IT, but should finish it within the next week or so. I’m really hoping it will end better than it is now… I’m fighting through each page and just hanging on after 500 pages because I’ve committed… I can’t abandon it now that I’ve gone past the half-way mark.

Running, Body Pump, workout classes in general and cycling: My bike has been broken for a couple of months now and I dearly miss it. It’s sitting head up in a room with the washer and dryer and waiting for its destiny. That bike has carried me across LA several times (Pier to Disney Hall and back), up my favorite streets, along the beach as well as to work and back. He’s my buddy and I will fix him (said every girlfriend ever).

#30DayWritingChallenge

Day 27: Something that makes you feel better

Hold my door, damnit! (1/2)

It’s raining and thunderstorming… My favorite ambiance to read and write in. It makes it difficult to think of things that upset me, but dont’ fret… with a little effort, I can come up with something:

  • Stupidity

In the sense of people (even me, but seldom [coughs]) making statements about things they know nothing about. I am avoiding politics, but it would be the easiest example for this upsetting bullet point. Lord Orange just hits it home every time. I lose respect and can’t take them seriously, and I don’t like that.

  • Not meeting my own goals or thinking I’m falling short

I went running this morning and the Florida weather is getting more and more humid and hot. I’m a slow runner and am just looking to improve a tiny bit and stay in shape, even if it means one second faster than last week… The one second is never enough though. I always aim higher and end up disappointed on most runs. I also set my alarm for 6.30 this morning to avoid the crazy heat, but snoozed until 8… way too late to run because the heat is almost unbearable for me. Tomorrow, I tell ya, tomorrow!

  • Cockroaches

So maybe Florida isn’t the State for me… I do like the weather in comparison to colder States (except Cali, hah! Surprise!) and  countries and if I don’t go out running. The downside is bugs… cockroaches. I now have bug spray against mosquitos (after a long discussion of me saying “oh, I don’t mind… it’s only a few months”… It’s not. It’s Florida!) So we took care of the mosquitos (there is not one spot on my body that does not have a mosquito or gnat bite). But cockroaches… they are creepy! I’m now armed with a spray can of Raid in every room, ready to fire. Bastards!

  • Ignorance

One of my pet peeves. I don’t like being very direct, but in a battle between directness and ignorance, directness wins. I think there is always a reason why we avoid certain things… for me, I avoid direct confrontation and arguments at all costs, except for the cost of ignorance. I don’t have change for that.

  • Impoliteness

Pisses me off really. I said I wasn’t direct, right? Well, as far as impoliteness goes, I just can’t tolerate it. I avoid impolite people, and I’m getting good at identifying them…which doesn’t help, but moves things along faster. I am old school and greatly appreciate, almost emphasize, when someone knows how to treat people. I believe it has a lot to do with your education and general… ummm… travelness?

It’s still raining. A distant thunder rumbles and lightning follows. I’m calm.

#30DayWritingChallenge

Day 26: Something that upsets you

 

Smells Like Home

As a child, I had this toy slime called “Gak” (80s and 90s, baby). It came in different colors, but my favorite was the white one. It had a certain scent to it… earthy and artificial. Whenever I think of the slime, I remember my room with the stereo system next to the window, equipped with empty cassette tapes ready to record my favorite songs off the radio, boy band posters on the wall and a sense of shame in the back of my head when I ran to the ice cream van at age 12 once the bell chimed in our small town gossipy German street. I watched My Girl several times that summer. Eating ice cream.

The scent of fog also does something with me… Artificial fog. It’s weird and I will try to understand it myself and then explain. In 2012, I visited Universal Studios Hollywood for the first time, and Halloween Horror Nights became my ultimate go-to. It takes place on select nights September through November and employs artificial fog (for dramatic effects in certain areas, obviously). I could stand in the fog for hours and be a happy camper. I believe it’s the sensation of being in a different world, with a (great) hint of danger, but knowing nobody can hurt you. The smell of dampness combined with the sweetness of cotton candy and the distant cloud of grilled burgers is right where you walk from Super Silly Fun Land and Minion Mayhem through little France or the streets of London toward Universal Plaza (yeah, I know the layout in my sleep). The fog is the strongest in those streets… and on the Studio Tour when you’re chased (on foot) through the backlot. Jurassic Park has the same special fog effects, which makes it one of my favorite attractions. Again, being emerged in a world where you get a sense of danger, but with a security that nothing will happen to you, is the ultimate olfactory thrill.

Yankee Candles, Bath and Body Works and all things fall: Once my favorite season rolls around, I’m unstoppable. Home Sweet Home, Autumn wreath, Spiced pumpkin, Cinnamon stick, Marshmallow Pumpkin latte, Salted Caramel Pumpkin, my hairs stand on end, my pupils enlarge, my hands grab a tote and I push old ladies aside with my coupons. I have no control over myself come fall. Basically anything cinnamon, perhaps a hint of vanilla (and sometimes coconut), but cinnamon is always my go-to. If I must analyze this notion, I would say it’s my teenage years and American culture personified. The best Halloween I had was at a sleepover with some of my girl friends in High School, watching scary movies and eating the candy we had just harvested trick-or-treating (although you’re technically not supposed to past the age of what? 10?11?).

For me, everything stands and falls with a smell… attraction in a partner, comfort at a work place, restaurants, cars, my home most of all… and yeah, me. I have no idea what I smell like. That’s for others to judge, but with all the pumpkin and marshmallow and cinnamon and vanilla, I’d say I smell like fall. And adventure… Kidding… Just fall. American fall. At a country home. In October. At night. In the fog. Yeah.

#30DayWritingChallenge

Day 25: Your favorite smell

Ventral Striatum Stimuli

“Do you know any jokes?” – “I know one, but I forgot how it goes”. This conversation is always the same with me.  It’s annoying. I have so much useless information stored in my brain. I’m not saying a joke would contribute to the useful side, but I’d rather be able to tell a joke than list all cast members of Two Broke Girls. Or Baywatch. Or Community. All cancelled. But who knows when those might come in handy… I’ll keep them in a dusty drawer for now, just in case.

Did you know that comedy and horror are closely related? For one, in both genres, the viewer looks toward the protagonist to overcome a difficulty over the course of the movie, relatable to real life. Also, if you watch those around you if you’re not jumpy during a horror movie (like me), people usually scream, followed by a relief of laughter. We could get into the whole social function of comedy and laughter, but it would take a bit longer. The “relief theory” is quite intriguing.

But this only on the side (and in an attempt to justify my love for horror and comedy without outcasting myself). What makes me laugh and slap my knees or any knees that are available to me:

5: Any kind of comedy really. Louis C.K. is currently one of my favorites. It’s gotten so far that I’m expecting him to make me laugh and when five minutes go by and I haven’t, I’m just waiting for it… But he rarely disappoints. Physical comedy as conveyed by Jim Carrey, the late John Ritter or Robin Williams appeal to my comedic understanding like no other. I love going to comedy clubs for the entire evening experience and admire the artists for not being afraid of judgement whatsoever… Most probably are, but they’re doing a very fine job concealing/ dealing with it.

4: I’ve been looking for a certain location in LA for a few years now… four years, to be exact. For a photo! A photo that everyone has probably already taken, but I want one too, damnit! I’ve been searching whenever I saw photos taken from that location and finally figured out where it is. The photographers don’t like to reveal that spot because it is pretty sweet, and so I’ll keep the peace as well. Since I’m not there right now, and it was bugging the heck out of me, I asked a local LA friend for advice. It sounded a little bit like this: “Watch ‘Falling Down‘ with Michael Douglas… No… No… watch ‘Falling motherf*cking Down‘ with Michael Douglas””. It made me laugh out loud because it showed so much passion and conviction and was just so natural. It wasn’t the location though… but I see where he got it from.

3: Plays on words always get me. As do bad puns. In that sense, I’m a 70-year-old grandpa who desperately tries to reconnect with his grandkids through bad jokes. Exchanging the first letter of each word (which I do all the time without intention… but people don’t find this funny, it really is just me I’m afraid). I normally keep this to myself… for a reason ;).

2: Seeing or hearing other people laugh. It’s contagious. If someone has a very deep and hearty laugh, you just can’t help but chime in.

1: Whose Line Is it Anyway: I know, it should be part of number 5, but it totally deserves its own category. I adore Ryan Stiles. He doesn’t even have to say anything and my eyes start filling up with laughter tears. All performers’ timing, intonation, humor and general attitudes are just so on point. They never disappoint.

I like “clean” comedy. My friend (the one from number 4) wants to send me to see Bob Saget… I don’t think I can handle it. But I survived Tim Allen at the Laugh Factory… And I’ll watch him once more any old day, gladly. Can’t wait to hit the clubs again.

PS: The ventral striatum is the part of our brain mainly responsible for comedic understanding and laughter.

#30DayWritingChallenge

Day 24: Post 5 things that make you laugh out loud

Run, Baby, Run!

When you’re getting ready to run a race, it’s more than preparing for the distance. You watch your nutrition, schedule, sleep, accommodation, etc. prior to race day. The last thing you want to think about is how to get to the start line, but it’s necessary. After all, there is a good chance your legs won’t let you drive post-race plus the stress of finding parking is something you don’t want to deal with right before the run.

I seem to be out of luck when it comes to Taxi or ride-share drivers. I also never learn. A Lyft-driver in Hollywood picked me up at 5.30 am (race start at 7). After we had dropped off a passenger who was getting sober from his party night out, the driver urged me to take a seat in the front. Here’s the thing: Early runners coincide with late party returners. If you ride share, it’s not pleasant for the early risers. AT ALL!! If there is one thing that screws me up, it’s dealing with drunk people… before a race… or ever. But I digress. I quickly got over my unpleasant ride-sharer after he had been dropped off, obeyed my driver and planted my runner-butt in the front seat. As soon as we started moving, the Lyft driver wanted to take a photo of me and declared me his future wife. Not necessarily in that order. This is not arrogant, this is scary! One of the scariest situations I have been in. Hollywood Blvd was empty at this time of night and if you’ve been there, you know it’s not a good area to just get out and walk. Especially right before a race – you want to rest as much as possible. I should’ve gotten out. But I played along (except for the photo… there is really no reason to take a photo of someone at 5.30 in the morning unless his name is Leo DiCaprio and you somehow wake up next to him on his yacht… or George Clooney and he just left his wife for you… or… you get the point) until I got out, and made a run for it… literally.

This time, I signed up for a race at Walt Disney World. It seemed like such a magical idea. No way something like this would happen twice, right? Yea… I meet very, very strange people. Always. I also meet very awesome people though… it’s a good balance. Unfortunately, this one would fit the former category. I should just be on the phone whenever I board a car in the future. This driver was from Kentucky. I didn’t even ask. After I had closed my door (this time at 3.30 am… race start at 5.30), he whipped out his cowboy hat. I really wish I was joking. From where I live, it’s a good 30-minute-ride to drop-off. In those 30 minutes, the driver told me about his dead daughter whose remains he carried around his neck and which he pulled toward me to touch (as I’m writing this, it sounds extremely ridiculous). She was murdered by her boyfriend. And don’t get me started on the ex-wife. I cannot repeat the words the driver continued to call her and him as we almost touched the guard rail on a fairly empty Interstate 4. It’s essential to keep a positive attitude pre-race, by the way. I swear I was about to put in my headphones, but I was too afraid that he would get offended and kick me to the side of the road, toss me a plastic bottle and yell “it puts the lotion on its skin or it gets the hose again” (Do you think I watch too many horror movies?).

Good girl that I am, I placed the figurative lotion in its proverbial basket and just played along. We arrived on time and I had a ways to walk until the start line. It took my mind off of the taxi-ride from hell. Good thing I was wearing a sweater in nearly 30 degree Celsius weather (I’m not used to these temperatures this early in the morning and usually, you freeze at the start line). I had to dispose of a perfectly likable sweater for nothing.

I’m starting my next training plan… this time for the big one… and another half on the way. Like I said, I never learn…

#30DayWritingChallenge

Day 23: A challenge you’re facing

Those Six Words

An assignment we received in the writing class I’m currently taking was actually fun and comes in handy right now. I remember way back in Middle and High School (either country, Germany or the US), I wasn’t a huge fan of writing assignments, but once we were allowed to be creative, I almost couldn’t stop. Hemingway created the six-word story, which is exactly what you’d think it is. You’re supposed to tell an entire story using only six words. Not nine, not four, exactly six. This way, you’re supposed to jog the creative side of your brain. I still find his example incredible:

“For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.” —Ernest Hemingway

or

“Longed for him. Got him. Shit.” —Margaret Atwood

 

So here is my contribution:

 

  • Slurred words in sleepless nights. Forever.

 

  • Returning in darkness; pink neon signs.

 

  • Dried the rainy road with blood.

 

  • Turned to see myself. No reflection.

 

  • Walked the dog; not my own.

 

  • He left. Me: Wanted for murder.

 

  • Skin on skin: Fried chicken Thursday.

 

  • Turned up radio, drowning basement screams.

 

  • Sun in my face. Almost alive.

 

  • Tonight, you get to be me.

 

  • I approach the surface. Frozen lake.

 

  • Follow for follow, like for hate.

 

I noticed that most of these are dark or dramatic – probably the most fun or intriguing as a writer when it comes to these exercises. It’s incredibly difficult to form entire stories because you have to think yourself into the mind of the receiver/ reader and assume that he knows or doesn’t know the context of your thoughts. You can’t just assume that he knows or understands, but you can’t suggest he’s an imbecile either and spell everything out for him. It does help jog your creative thinking, however.

  • Give it a try! No regrets. ;)

#30DayWritingChallenge

Day 22: 6-word stories

Recalculating

We try to manage, every day. To be who we are, the best we can be, improve, work hard, work out, make life worthwhile. Everyone has their package to carry… We call it baggage, a checkered past (with a negative connotation) or skeletons in the closet if you will; things to deal with. Here’s a snippet of what I’ve learned so far:

Whatever is easy is not worth having… or not worth keeping

Whether it’s a person, a relationship, a job, a toy, a cup of coffee… Wait, an easy cup of coffee usually leads to great adventures. You should never turn down an easy cup of coffee! However, if something seems too easy to get (or too good to be true), it probably is. It’s in our genes to fight for something and to have to earn our most essential necessities: Hunting for food, courting for attention, working to sustain. I’m not much for playing games – either you are hard to get and worth keeping or you’re not. Simples.

It takes courage to stand your ground and take the road less traveled

Sometimes it’s difficult to explain to people why you made the choices you’ve made… Until you realize you don’t have to explain anything. I’m not talking about crimes… I’m talking about “everyday people”, like myself. People usually ask you about your decisions because it never crossed their mind to do something differently than they’re used to. You can try to explain your lifestyle or past or present or intentions, but don’t expect anyone to understand. It’s always ok to inspire though.

You have to break the rules sometimes

I’m all for following the rules, obeying the law, living according to what the big bad society has cooked up for you. You know what, rules aren’t so bad and they are there for a reason. If I say “break the rules”, I don’t mean “break the law”… I’m way too goody-two-shoes and also don’t care much for disobeying the law. However, breaking the rules and choosing a path that normally people wouldn’t go down is very liberating and encouraging. If you have to make ends meet, do what you gotta do. Just never look back and never regret, no B-lines, no U-turns, endure and go for it.

Sharing moments and things with people is worth more than the actual thing itself

It’s a lesson I’m still learning. I like things… But I like sharing those and my experiences with others even more. I like working for nice things and having them as a goal. But once I get them, it’s the best thing in the world to share them with your family and friends. So once I have my pool, I will most certainly sit in it with my mom first of all.

Don’t worry what other people may think

This is a tough one. I’m very self-conscious and think twice or three times about things I post, what I write and details I reveal. If it’s out there, I meant for it to be. It is partly because I am afraid of being judged; I think we all are (some more than others). I admire those who are so self-confident that they don’t have to think about stuff like that… they just put themselves out there. So in a way, this lesson will be an ongoing process for me. I’m adapting though.

You may have more than one soulmate

It started with an episode of SATC (Sex and The City), where the girls decided to be each other’s soulmates if they hadn’t found theirs at a certain age. I then realized that I had already met several soulmates in my life. I think it’s too much pressure to have only one soulmate… the ONE… Plus, then I would’ve already messed that up. I believe you can vibe with several people and recognize a soulmate like a piece to a broken mirror… each piece reflects you in some way but also shows you a side of them and you that you haven’t seen before.

Early hours are the best hours                                          

I love getting up early. There is something about being the first one up that makes you think you are the only person on earth (have you read “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner”?). I get a lot done in the morning, I feel refreshed (even after a bad night’s sleep or overthinking). Early hours are yours and nobody can take them away from you. I also like to stay up late, but I will always get up early. Keeps me on the edge.

In conclusion, go with your GPS, and trust your instincts when it says “recalculating… recalculating… recalculating…” because eventually, you will arrive… You just need to trust yourself.

#30DayWritingChallenge

Day 21: Write about lessons you’ve learned the hard way

My Friend Paul

It was the summer of 2010 and Germany had just lost its semi-final soccer match against Spain. I was pissed. I was also in Germany where we have a soccer culture that will sweep you off your feet. Women can suddenly explain offside play and give you the lowdown on each player’s astrological compatibility. When it comes to soccer, we stand behind our team as one. Every time. And always stronger.

So I was pissed because we lost and I had just moved from Spain back to Germany. It’s funny, but in terms of soccer, there are no excuses. You stand with your country (in a friendly, peaceful way), no matter where you live. And I needed to distract myself, so I went for a walk along the Hansaring (one of the circular streets that make up Cologne).

My mom had mentioned her former colleague Paul a few days back and the fact that he lives close to me. She probably never thought I would go and meet him, but curiosity always kills this cat, so I went. My memory isn’t too clear on what or how it happened, but I believe we spoke briefly, he informed me of his address and invited me over for a glass of wine. It was the beginning of a friendship that I could never explain in its entirety and would never want to miss.

Remember when I wrote about “something that you miss”? And I mentioned “meeting new people”? Paul was one of those encounters. Not that it can ever be repeated because there is only one Smelly Paul. Yes, Smelly… with a capital S. I’ll make the U-Turn back to this, I promise.

He invited me into his apartment and we had a glass of wine (as promised) on the balcony overlooking the city. I was comfortable from the very beginning which surprised me. There was no agenda on either side, it was just two friends having a conversation, which with our differences, a lot of people wouldn’t think is possible. It has never crossed my mind. It’s been 7 years now and he has been with me (mostly via Skype and Whatsapp) through tough times in Cologne, good times in the US, and all the times in between.

Oh, Smelly, right… He earned that nickname when he was an Aromatherapist. He can tell you what oil is good for what and where to get it, the concentration, where to rub it and for how long. That alone is impressive, but he did that on the side. His main field of expertise lies in Aircraft Technology (as an Aircraft Electrician) – (I was never one hundred percent sure, but I asked… just in case… so sorry if I’m messing this up, Smelly, please correct me); he has a degree in Biology, Physiology, and Biochemistry. Oh, apologies, I stand corrected: He also has a degree in massage, anatomy and aromatherapy. When my parents made it possible for me to become a fitness trainer, I had to learn human physiology and anatomy, among many other things. Paul always had an answer. And if he didn’t, he knew where to look for it.

He worked for the Royal Air Force (oh, Paul is a Brit, so we speak English, and he was more or less a neutral companion in the Germany-Spain incident), then became a design engineer in Automotive with Ford in Germany and China, and a lot of other things that I cannot even begin to understand, but you get the picture. He did more than would fit into one lifetime. And people like him (which there are very few) fascinate me.

What I admire about him is that he has been through so much, worked hard all his life to achieve different things in different areas, always eager to learn and master a new craft, but makes it look and sound so easy now.

He inspires me because he encourages me to keep going, persist, push through, but also stand my ground. He is the kind of friend who stays with you until the end, but also doesn’t sugarcoat anything. Still, he’s on your side. If you have a friend like him, you can consider yourself very lucky.

I look forward to the day that we get to meet again, maybe… or hopefully in London next time. I’d love to see the houses that he’s working on (now that he’s retired) and just catch up in person. He has also rowed over 1 million meters and is one of the few people who virtually follow me for all my half marathons. I know I’m lucky to have someone like him in my life. And I’m deeply grateful.

 

#30DayWritingChallenge

Day 20: Write about someone who inspires you