Monthly Wrap-Up

So, here we are again.Another month done. Can’ t believe that tonight we dance into May, it’s still quite cold and grey outside.

I am back into writing daily. No, wait. I have managed writing daily for a month for the first time ever. Another big Thank you to Nielle for her blogging challenge! I used to struggle with finding topics and justifying my choice of topic. This month I learned not to explain why I write about what I write, but acually write about it. I plan to keep that habit.

I did not complete my To be read list. I struggle with Huckleberry Finn, which is really hard to read. Twain uses dialects from slave communities and as English is a foreign language for me sometimes I have to read phrases several times to understand them. Instead, I read Catching Fire¬†yesterday. As you might remember I hated The Hunger Games, but I found part II for a few bucks. Critiques were right, it is better than part one, but I still don’t like the language. It’s plain and with no finesse at all.

Sometimes it snows in April

I am still sad. The right song in the wrong moment, and I cry like I lost someone. I still try to understand why that is. Yes, I have always been loving Prince’s music, and I liked his style and looks (MUCH!), but I would not have considered me a huge fan until last week.

Someone once told me we are only sad when someone dies because it reminds us of our own mortality. I don’t know. Loosing a beloved one is a pretty good reason to cry in itself, I’d suggest. But crying for a celebrity might indeed mean crying for the memories we made listening to their work, for all the people we lost over the course of the years, and for the ideals we cling to, not knowing whether they will ever meet us. The other night I was dreaming that when I die and I meet Prince in heaven I can have sex with him whenever I want. I seriously wonder whether that fits into any religious idea of heaven ūüėÄ

However, Prince reminds me that I want to make more out of my creativity, live with more passion and do that from a spiritual ground which makes me trust life much more happily than just because I need to trust life to not give in to desperation, as it sometimes felt in the past years. Beyond his great musical genius, that’s his legacy for me.

Thank you



24 Tips on How to Read More

So, you would like to read more, but don’t know how to find the time? Or you have to read a lot for your studies and would like to read faster? Or you would like to learn more, but don’t know whether you really like to read that much?

There’s a fix for all of you. My tips thererfore fall into three categories: a) Finding time to read. b) Getting into the habit of reading. and c) Reading more intelligently. For those who love to read, have the time, know what to read but just need techniques to do it faster, there are many resources available out there. Just pick a book on speed-reading and go for it. Just remember that it is not about how many books you consume but what you take away from it.

How to make time for reading

  1. The easiest way to find time for reading is to use public transport. You are doomed to sitting anyway, so why not use the time to read something? If you can’t focus in public or don’t want to switch from bike / car / hiking to tube and bus, try audio books.
  2. Read first thing in the morning. Before you get up, read a chapter or a paragraph. Put the book on your bedside table so you have it right where you need it.
  3. Read last thing at night. The above applies.
  4. Read when you are waiting for an appointment. No, not your twitter-feed, but an actual book! Get into the habit of carrying a book or magazine with you (see below).
  5. Switch off TV, internet and smartphone. It’s healthier anyway. Find out how much time you have when you limit media to a minimum. Go one week without TV and online-videos, and you will never again have the problem of ‘finding time’.
  6. Put a book on your coffee table and read during commercial breaks.
  7. Read on the loo. Seriously. Put magazines and some funny stuff into the bathroom.
  8. Take a bath. And read a chapter in the tub before you start your cleansing procedure.
  9. Teach your family that you have ‘me-time’. Take a break after lunch, get on the sofa and read for half an hour. No, they won’t kill each other if you don’t look after them for a few minutes.
  10. Read to your children. Let your kids grow up knowing that reading is fun.
  11. Read to your partner. Yes, THAT kind of stories.
  12. Dedicate some of your working hours (even if it’s only 10 or 20 minutes a week to start with) to learning and development, and use the time to read. Your boss should be happy if you become better at what you do. And if you’re unemployed, it’s even more crucial that you stay up to date with your knowledge and use the time for personal development. Not only will it prevent depression when you feel like you can make use of the unwanted spare time, you will also find new confidence in interviews when you don’t feel like you wasted 6 months.

How to get into the habit of reading

  1. Just read. Everything. Don’t wait for books. Read signs and ads. Read the ingredients of food you buy or cosmetics you use. Not to understand what’s written there (although it might change your buying behaviour massively), but to get used to reading.
  2. Carry a book or magazine wherever you go, so if you have a few minutes you can spend them reading.
  3. Start where you are. If you didn’t read much in the past, don’t start with the 1200 pages of ‘Gone with the wind’. Read something related to your hobby or job. Or read something about the subject you wanted to study if you were smarter / braver / younger. Read a magazine on the topic instead of a book. Make it easy for you to start.
  4. It is perfectly fine to read ‘simple’ literature like crime or romance. There is absolutely no need to read all the great, classic literature if you don’t want to.
  5. Join a book club. Take a look at community centers, churches, the public library, educational facilities or meetup.
  6. Set up your own bookclub. Existing clubs can be intimidating, especially if you feel like you were ‘not educated’ enough. You might not want to¬†run into the person who considers herself a literature professor and compares everything against stuff you never heard of. It might be a good idea to meet with likeminded friends instead and start reading more together.
  7. Don’t let money be an issue. Swap books with and lend them from friends and family, join the public library, read in the corner of a bookstore, browse flea markets. How many books do you make in a week? I bet you spend more on food you throw away than you had to to read one book per week.¬†When you are asked what you want as a birthday present, don’t say your usual, modest ‘nothing’; instead, ask for a book you would really love to read.

How to get through what you have to read

  1. Maybe the most obvious, but also most underrated advice is: Study a subject you are genuinely interested in. Something that excites you and makes you want to learn everything you can. I am always amazed at how many of my students in business administration never read a business magazine or at least watch the news regularly to learn what’s going on in the world of business. Don’t do that to yourself!
  2. You don’t have to read everything. Ask your lecturers for advice where to start. Ask them also: If I would read only one single book during the course of my whole study, which one would you suggest? Follow their advice.
  3. Pay attention to the curriculum. Textbooks normally cover much more content than is required for your module. Compare the content of the book to the syllabus of your module and read the relevant chapters only.
  4. Read the introduction. Many people tend to skip summaries and intros, but that’s where you learn which are the relevant chapters. Most authors give an overview of their findings here. You normally don’t need methodology (unless, of course, you have to discuss methodology in a thesis). You want to read what is the problem and how to solve it. You might not need how the author found the solution. When I am really short of time, I read the first and the last chapter.
  5. Don’t read texts word by word. Are you one of those people who move their lips or speak the words silently in their mind while reading? Then you limit your reading speed down to your talking speed. It is unnecessary to process every word consciously. You know those tests where the letters are mixed up and you can still read the words? That’s how the brain works, it brings order into chaos. Skip words, read every third word only, expand the gap, so that you read only the first and last word of a sentence. Try whether your get the basic concept of a text by reading only first and last sentence of a paragraph. If not, slow down.

What do you do to read more? I’d love to hear your ideas.



What’s up, May?

We had snow this week. Not much, but enough to make me want to snuggle on the sofa with hot chocolate and a christmas movie rather than getting back to outdoor activities. But, with May approaching fast, today I signed up for the 30×30 Outdoor Challenge. I’ve been wanting to do that for a while, and they only run the challenge in May. I grew up on the countryside, but nature has hardly any space now in my modern city-based worklife.

Man cooking at camp
(c) netforever – Fotolia

When I was younger I spent so much time in forests, wandering the fields or sunbathing on the shore. But nowadays I do not even go to the shore in the summer because I hate that I have to drive there, pack everything and then laying there amongst all the other people like fish in a tin. AARRGGGHHH!!!

Positive, Natalie! Here are my

Goals for the next month

  1. Spend 30 minutes outside every day
  2. Re-launch my professional blog
  3. Stick to the habit of daily writing
  4. Spend quality time with my family
  5. Deliver one performance

What are your goals?


Best Read 2016

My favourite book this year I have read so far is Bren√© Brown‘s ‘Daring Greatly’. Brown is a social researcher and works on the concept of vulnerability. Her research suggests that vulnerability is the key to feeling connected to other people.

You might benefit from reading ‘Daring Geatly’ especially if you had to close down and build a wall around your feelings at one time in your life to survive and be able to go on. You know, like, when you feel as if as soon as you tell someone what’s going on you have to crumble to the floor and will never be able to stop crying again. Sometimes it’s hard after such a period to open up again. Bren√© Brown has a wonderful approach to this sensitive topic. It’s ¬†not your average ‘be honest and everything will be fine’ stuff. No. She is very clear that vulnerability is risky, and that you have to learn to distinguish who earns your trust and who doesn’t.

Watch her TED-talk on vulnerability here:

I am a bit of the ‘better careful than sorry’ type when it comes to opening up, and people who open up too fast make me feel uncomfortable. I stepped back from showing myself for fear of becoming one of those annoying professional victims who tell you too much too early. Bren√® Brown remembered me that it is not about being open or not. It’s about stopping to use strength as a shield and being able to open up when appropriate and desirable. And, first and foremost, that there are situations when it IS appropriate and desirable. Because only when you show yourself can people like who you are.



A Bookish Confession

I’m addicted to self-help and personal development books.

When my friends thank me for kicking ass or helping them taking on another perspective to their problem, it’s because my brain contains every approach to self-help ever written. How to survive trauma and other tough stuff. How to overcome addiction. How to boost self-esteem and stand up for yourself. How to find your passion. How to come clear about your values. How to get out of unhealthy relationships. How to find a job you love. How to find a job at all. How to make relationships work. How to raise children. How to let your children go. How to leave behind a dysfunctional childhood. How to deal with mobbing or harressment. How to prevent abuse. How to heal. How to nourish body, mind and soul. How to feel better. How to perform better. How to be yourself. How to live on a budget.

You choose the topic, I read a book on it. And if not on the specific issue, then on something related. Because that is what I’m really good at: Applying basic principles of how people and (social) systems work to other areas. People like to think that their problem, subject or issue is unique. But, let’s face it: That is really unlikely. Chances are someone else solved a similar, if not the same problem before.

But I only know that because I read such a wide variety of stuff, and it all can be broken down to maybe a handful of lessons. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that those lessons are the same for everybody. Otherwise, I would eventually write the book my friends and family constantly demand me to write.

*lame excuse*



Movie Adapation

When I think about my favourite books, there is hardly anything of which I am sure that it has not been adapted into a movie before. In fact, it happens quite often that I read a book only after I saw the movie. But last Christmas I found something which I would like to see adapted. I was looking for a present for my stepfather who enjoys criminal novels set in Northern Germany (it’s a trend here currently). Browsing the bookstore I came across Cay Rademacher. He has some stories taking place in Hamburg right after WWII. I bought one as a present and one for me.

‘Der Schieber’ (English: The Trafficker), part 2 of a series of cases superintendent Frank Stave is confronted with, is the book I’d like to see adapted in a movie. Some refugee kids are killed and he is doing his job. Some personal conflicts added, he has an affair and is waiting for his son to come back from war captivity in Russia, and there you are with the average plot. Why I’d like to see it adapted, though, is that in the time it plays, late 40ies of the 20th century, Stave is walking through the whole city. Walking. No public transport, only the British soldiers ¬†of high ranks occupying the city have cars. Or gas, rather. So Stave walks through the city and Rademacher describes in detail what he sees. And that’s the part I’d like to see in a movie. There are many movies playing during the war, and that’s bad enough. But of the time right after, when houses and systems were still down while people tried to get back to normal life, we rarely speak. And if, then maybe about the time ten years later or so, when the worst was over.

It also reminds me of my Granny who was working for the Americans when they occupied parts of Germany. I only exist because she turned down a job offer in the United States and instead went back home to Schleswig-Holstein, the most beautiful place in the world, only to meet my Granddad.



Books & Music

For me, the link between music and books is the movie. With one exception, which is a ballet performance I had the pleasure of accompanying in Kiel as PR intern. The company is in Leipzig now. If you have the chance to visit Leipzig, you should definitely see a ballet performance there, whether you normally are into ballet or not. However, here is my bookish playlist:

‘Riders on the Storm’, The Doors

Jerry Hopkins and Daniel Sugerman: No one here gets out alive

All the Harry Potter Intros

J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (the whole Harry Potter series, of course, but this one is my favourite)

‘Killing me softly’, Roberta Flack

Nick Hornby: About a boy

‘I see Fire’, Ed Sheeran

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit.

I stole this one. I never read The Hobbit. But my mom loves it, and I love the song. When I hear it I think of my mother and all the people I chose as family.

Have a wonderful Sunday, everybody!