Wednesday, April 6, 2016

What could I write a book about?

The prompt asked the following question: If you could write a book on any topic, what would it be?

This made me think that I am already blogging continuously about my children and all their funnies and quirks. I am sure these blogs could become a book and that parents or parents to be might even find it useful - especially if I would not only describe something that happened , but also researched some related topic and wrote us some tips and advise - or just enjoy comparing my stories with the quirks of their children.
Even when we think our kids are the most adorable and inventive little tykes, turns out some other child already did something similar, and some famous celebrity already wrote a book about this and is making billions...

I also have a marketing blog, in which I write about different topics that have to do with my work as a marketing communications specialist. This too could probably turn into a book, but keeping this as an up-to-date- professional guidance book might prove difficult, because the profession of marketing communications is changing as I type these litters, with the digital media driving it to change in many fast ways.

Another topic I could probably wrote about is the difference between Germany and Israel - as I have lived in both countries and I am an Israeli married to a German - so I live the cultural differences every day. I recall outlining seven topics  - but I am not sure I can recall all seven. Let me see...

 


1. First of all there is space - Germany is just bigger than Israel. Israel is 22,000 square Kilometers, the size of Germany's Hessen state alone. This means everything in Germany is bigger. The Germans have more room.

1.A. Driving and parking - Germany has the famous highway network, which allegedly has no speeding limit - Germans are definitely better drivers, but Israelis are better parkers. I see this issue as a subtext of space perception. In Germany there is just more space to park in. Therefore, there is no need for exceptional parking skills in Germany. The parking problem in Israeli cities is more acute than in German cities (with the possible exception of Berlin). Germans also do not tend to enter the city center with a car, as the train and tram infrastructure is very good. Israelis on the other hand are very adept at parking in the most unconscionable places and very tight spaces.

2. Time and speed - Time is grasped differently in Germany and in Israel. In Israel one is always in a hurry, under pressure. In Germany there is a time and place for everything. We simply do things faster in Israel and even if it means things are less organised, they will work. The chaotic atmosphere is in fact productive and conductive of positive results. Germans take it easy - the pace is slower. When I moved back to Israel after two years in Germany, it took me 3 months to come back to snuff in terms of speed at the workplace.

2.A Infrastructure and improvisation - The infrastructure is better in Germany. For example: trains and buses are organised and actually show on time (OK its not Switzerland, but still, the time-table is mostly adhered to, in most places... I am advised its gotten a lot worse since I lived in Germany). Public transportation in Israel is always late. Sometimes buses come in groups...the drivers must have taken their coffee break together. Or they are racing each other to the last stop, so if one has stopped at a certain location the other race participants do not bother to stop and pick up passengers...

Telephone cables in Israel just hang loosely on the walls, especially in older houses and this makes for a big visual mess. Handymen in Israel are usually people who learned the trade on their feet, from daddy. In Germany everything is more established.

2.B. Education and Certification - The system of educating professionals is more rigid in Germany than in Israel and training takes longer. Its also harder to be accepted to a workplace in Germany, as you need the right certificate. In Israel you may have a chance at a certain job if you make the right impression in an interview and regardless of your training.

3. Order and hierarchy - The Germans have a saying "Ordnung muss sein!" it means order must be! Orderly activity is part of the German cultural DNA. If you follow the instructions you are given, you may predict the result with a high chance of being right. Certain steps will lead to certain results, as expected 1+1=2. Hierarchy is not questioned in Germany , simply obeyed (see next point).

But in Israel there is always room for improvisation. Hierarchy is always questioned and independent thinking is encouraged. "Chutzpah" or cheekiness is part of the Israeli cultural DNA. The writers of the book "start Up Nation" maintain that this cultural DNA in Israel is what nurtures innovation. In Israel there is room for doubt, sometimes 1+1 is not 2 but  rather 2.5. If you were instructed to bring 3 letters, a clerk might just ask for 6. In Germany you need a meeting to cut your hair or even visit a friend, in Israel you just walk through the door.

4. Obedience (and papers) - Germans are an obeying folk. It might seem macabre to write about the Holocaust in such a blog, but I am certain that Hitler and his cronies would have been less successful if the German cultural DNA did not contain a strong component of obedience. Authority is not questioned. If you are told to produce certain documentation, then you must do so (people who do not have the right papers cannot get a job today and back in the days of World War II the right papers could have saved your life!).

5. Noise and Quiet - I already mentioned that there is time and place for everything in Germany. The hours of rest (13.00 to 15.00 on weekdays and Sundays) are a serious matter. You could be evicted from your rented apartment if you use your vacuum cleaner on a Sunday - because of the noise - certain "noise" limitations such as this example are actually included in the renting contract. You do not  hear a lot of noise on the street in Germany. Neighbors' quarrels are such a phenomenon in Germany that there is a TV show about this.

In Israel everything is noisy. Cars are always hooping and people shouting as they call each other on the street. Hebrew is spoken in a louder tone. To a German, two Israelis having a conversation sound as if they are arguing. The only time a German makes more noise than an Israeli is when he or she is drunk!

6. The fun factor, motivation and aspiration - Israelis are an ambitious people. They are willing to take risks and promote themselves and have an attitude of a "know it all". Success is a driving factor, as is financial status and well-being. We live in uncertain times, so we might as well push for the top!

In Germany the biggest motivator is the fun factor. In Germany the word for fun is "spaƟ". Germans work in order to put aside enough funds so that they can sponsor their hobbies. The free time, the time for fun, after work (Feierabend - a term translating to "an evening for celebration" is the term for after working hours) and on weekends is the reason Germans go to work. Give a German his pension and his hobby and he is content. We live in uncertain times, so we might as well have some fun and enjoy ourselves!

Well, I can write a blog about Germany and Israel and the cultural differences... :-) You can count 6 or 8 different factors (7 is the average...)


Thursday, March 10, 2016

A challenging prompt - What's the toughest thing you've been through recently? How did you get past it?

I am facing two tough challenges that are in some way linked, as one is one of the drivers for the other.



One challenge is helping my son find his equilibrium at school, the other is starting my own, work from home business. I just do not want to be so away from home. Although I cannot say I missed out on my children's lives, I can say they have a pretty stressed out mom and that is something I wanted to fix for both their benefit and my own.

A high number of working hours, including extra time and stress at work and on the road (driving in Israel is a BI____CH...) simply does not help a person remain calm, even is one is fulfilling oneself and working at an altogether satisfying job.

In the last year I have reduced my driving considerably and have been much more available for my children, and especially for my son, whenever I was needed. This is a great and rewarding experience and the stress levels have been reduced. I am less angry. Its not all rosy though - founding one's own business is hard and its a scary challenge - having to sell my services again and again, and having to prove time and again to clients that I am worth the money they pay me. Its also hard to earn good wages as a freelancer.

Its a long process to find my own equilibrium. To find out what exactly it is that I want to do and what services I wish to offer an dhow much I can reasonably expect to get paid. I am now starting a more systematic approach towards my business and I look forward to being able to write about my success is the next few months. Baby steps. Think, plan, do. One step at a time and the goal will be reached.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A prompt for deep thinking - Do you think there's life after death? How do you think this belief impacts your life today?



I believe I saw an interesting concept in a movie once. the film suggested that what happens to you after death depends on your beliefs. so if you are a viking and believe in Valhalla, you will get there after death. And if you are a Christian and believe in heaven, you will get there. the film took this further by placing a Christian with a group of vikings at the moment of death, resulting in the Christian's ability to save them all. I believe the film is called "Erik the Viking" and it was a comedy.

I think we can also take this concept a step further, by saying that out beliefs regarding death do have an impact on the way we live. After all, our time on this planet as living beings is short and limited. We do not know what happens after death, but we do know people who die do not return, so death seems eternal. (Some believe we return in other forms, or as other people - but never 100% the same - I have not heard of a belief that a person simply returns to the living.)

Though it is natural that we let death affect our lives, it being such a prominent and inevitable  end to this life, we should probably not let it overrule living, that is depressing. One should make the most of life, while it lasts, but first of all for the sake of life itself! Sometimes I think I have wasted parts of my life. But that is not true, all our experiences add to who we are and what we are able to do from now on . Like anyone, I have regrets. certain moments I wish I could go back to and change, do something different. The best way to live is to use this acquired knowledge is to remember it for future use, if a similar moment comes along, I will be able to do things differently. We cannot go back. Looking forward and making the best of it is the way to go.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

What will the world be like in 50 years time? Try to be optimistic about it!

In 50 years, if I live that long, I will be 93 years old! The time to wait until then is longer than my current time on this earth. There are so many things to complain about...from daily chores to global warming, so its a bit hard to think of an optimistic prediction for this earth.



We live in an era of dynamic change. My profession - marketing communication, did not even exist 10 years ago as a true discipline of its own, and even now there are positions that still also mix secretarial or accounting with MarCom. Not to mention that when I graduated from university 18 years ago and I started my career, the profession simply did not exist. Hey, the Internet was just started out and email was a novelty on my first job! I even remember operating a Telex machine on one of my summer jobs as a teenager (Telex machines came even before the fax...).

When I think of all that has already changed in the world during my adulthood I feel positively ancient, although I am but 43 years of age! But this era of change, which is only becoming faster and faster (My eldest son was born before the smartphone, but my daughter was born into the iPhone era) I find it most difficult to write about any prognosis 50 years into the future.

I ask myself, will it really look like one big modern space station? Will the new modern city look like a scene form Star Trek? Or perhaps we will deplete all the reserves of our planets so that my children will have to move back to caves! and how shall we live without fuel and electricity? When I was a child, many TV series dealt with this theme, the depletion of the earth and return to ancient lifestyles alone side some innovative technologies...put a super hero or a mad scientist into that scenario and you have a promising concept for a TV show in the 1980's...

While I am trying to write about the future, I find myself mentioning the past more and more. Well the future is truly unknown, that's the whole point, isn't it? I want to hope that in 50 years time, when my children are adults in the middle of life, just as I am now, they will be able to indeed live in a better world. A world in which many differences and conflict would have been settled. A world in which religion and faith were not abused by extremists and politicians. A world that combines modern technology with good old traditional community and communication. A world that is not all cold modernity, but also warm nature, a world with more freedom.

Its a world in which we use innovation for the benefit of mankind and the preservation of the earth and its resources. A world, in which we know how to better look after our world and all the people in it. We can each do out bit to work towards such a future. Recycle a bit, learn about other cultures, smooth over differences in one's own circles and educate your children towards values of empowerment, sharing, assistance and development. Take your baby steps that will eventually accumulate towards the goal, one by one. These wishes are not just fluff! But I also hope that 50 years is enough to realize some of these objectives, I am a realist, but one can stop for a moment, and simply hope.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Earthquake!

I have not written for a week! Its been a whirlwind of work!
The prompts , I am happy to discover, are taking on a more creative writing streak, now that the holiday season is over! yeh!

The prompt was:
First it was slow, then a violent force ran through the house and everything started to shake.  Your first reaction was to...

and I wrote:
Scream! Earthquake!!!!!!!!!!!!



The second thing I did was start running scenarios in my mind, as I mindlessly started looking for the children. What do all the safety experts always say? Hide under the table, stand inside a doorway, leave the building ASAP! Where are the kids??

Everything started crashing down around me. I felt heavy, I could not move! I was trying to run but could not get away! I felt slow, sucked into a terrible new reality. Everything was ruined! the house in shambles! Where ARE the KIDS?????

I call for help and my mouth is dry with dust as debris continues to fall! I cannot see anything! I am stuck in a dark hole, but I am not crushed! The mind begins to ask questions again. Why am I not crushed? what is holding all that cement over my head and not letting it all crash down on me? there is no pain.

I feel as if I am floating away and there is no one in sight, its all a dusty fog! I hear from the distance the voice of my son, muffled and far away..."Mommy wake up! mommy!!!"

I feel that I am being pulled out of my dark hole! Saved! By my own wonderful and brave son! They are here! the rescuers. I am being pulled and shaken about. I feel myself shaking from side to side, just like the last time we had an earthquake here, which woke me up - shaking from side to side, lulled to wakefulness in my bed..."Mommy! Mommy! Wake up!" The voice is clearer and nearer now! I am seeing the light...everything is going to be OK (just like my initials...ha ha)!

And... then I wake up!

Another new day! Kids to school, breakfast to prepare, get dressed! Its cold but the sun is shining!

Like my motto: Everything is going to be OK!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Quality of life indicators.

the prompt was : "If you knew you only had 6 months to live, how would you live your life differently? "
Well I think this is a question about one's own definitions as to the quality of one;s life...
Here is my answer.



This is a hard one, because what its essentially asking is what I would try to fix into my daily routine, and also what adventures or dreams i want to fulfill.  Its the two extremes of unfulfillment and lack of satisfaction.

So how would I make my life more satisfying int he twp extremes: baby steps and small routine changes vs. the BIG ONE?

The BIG ONE would be to travel and see the world. Just take some time off to see special places that I think I will only be travelling to after I retire from work or when the kids grow up (hey maybe I can go travelling with them then...if they will have me). India and the far east, south america, Australia, Alaska/ south pole...

On the other hand I think that I would like to leave something behind me, for posterity - so maybe the BIG ONE would be to actually take the time to write ab book, only I do not know what I would write about...

The smaller routine changes would be to make more time for my kids, stress out less, learn to relax, take a weekend or two off with my husband alone, see more theater performances, and see more of my friends. I guess that writing in this platform is also a small change I have undertaken on the road to the "writing a (GOOD) book" dream...

I believe that the small changes need to be undertaken even if one is not sick, we need to stop and remind ourselves that quality of life is important! But its easier to preach this on the keyboard than to actually practice it...

The BIG ONE is indeed a quantum leap, but perhaps it too can be divided to realistic chunks...like writing these posts, I could undertake to travel to one place at a time, its just that right now our vacation time is all booked up with annual family visits, I hope in a few year's time e will be able to vary the destinations too...In the meantime, finding the energy to drive out with the family for an outing is sometimes a challenge after an especially busy week...

There are also things I would NOT change. I would not change where I live or my family ties. I love my kids to distraction and cannot imaging my life without them or mother hood (even thought I do not always enjoy the cores this role entails). I would not wish to live in another era or be a different person. I am very blessed in so many ways.

Brain in Hyper-Drive Mode (or a nice way to say that I am not good at relaxing...)

The daily prompt was:
You lay there in bed and toss and turn and can't fall asleep.  All you can think about is..."
After a crazy ending to 2015, I have returned to write again...



I am not a good sleeper. I sleep lightly and awaken almost at every noise.

Sleeping with a partner can be hard is he has a bad night of "the snores"...

Being a mom to young children does not help, I hear them even from the distance between my room and theirs.

So, why can I not sleep well? I think its because my brain is always in overdrive, or should I call is hyper-drive? (Or should I refer to it as warp speed - inspired by Star Wars? Or was it Star Treck? See how my brain works?) I am just thinking and talking to myself non-stop all the time, and this most certainly does not stop at night.

Its not just thinking or mental overdrive, its also physical. Its hard for me to sit in one place if I am not doing something. There is always a "bone to pick" with my apartment and its unruly overflowing and untidy feeling. There is always some cloths to fold, things to organize for the kids, toys to pick up, dishes to wash, a washing machine to start and so on...every evening I can look at the kitchen with satisfaction, having left the sink empty and the counter clean, only to know that tomorrow is a new day with a new mess.

But lets get back to my hyper-drive brain activity: I could be imagining a story and telling it to myself, then sadly not writing it and losing it in the morning.

I could be thinking of a blog post for my online diary about my children or my professional blog, an then I do get up to write it, so I delay sleep and the written version is NEVER as good as the one i had thought of while lying in my warm bed.

I could be imagining a conversation with my husband, well actually a monologue to be honest, my monologue, and then its hard to remind myself that he did not hear what I had said an that the talk had never taken place.

I could be stressing about a task I did not complete or something I need to say to my boss...

Its not always stressful or bad, this overdrive of thoughts, but it always is! and sometimes I just want it to stop so that I can have some piece of mind, literally!

I dream of going off to a 10 day silent meditation course, so that I can learn to clear my mind and finally turn of the hyper-drive mode, but then all my duties sand especially my being a mother to small children all come back flowing and streaming and my thoughts are carried away and the brain returns to its usual hyper-drive state, until the next time I dare to pause for a millisecond to think about meditation again.

I do sometime wonder how is it  that I have not yet totally collapsed into a nervous wreck! Or that I am not the most thin of women, considering how many calories the thinking process allegedly consumes. I guess I consume enough calories (including the left over food from my kids, any dietitian, experienced mom or nutritionist will tell you what a fatal error that is to your waistline...).

My hope is just as crowded as m y brain, so its not easy to get piece and quiet here. We are a family of four and my husband is a collector, so the apartment is overflowing with books, DVDs, children's toys, my clothes, kids clothes for the upcoming 3 years, LP records and to much bed linen...

I think writing is a therapy for me as an outlet to my overworked self and hyper-driven brain. although it means sitting in front of a computer yet again (like I need to do for my work)  it is a relaxing and fulfilling activity. Who knows, I might be a published author one day...

Never give up! Keep writing, it slows down the hyper-drive if only fr a short 15 minutes...