Tag Archives: Fabienne Riener

How to Fab v.2

9 Oct

Well, hello there!

Sometimes life gives you hints that you shouldn’t ignore. In my case that was a number of people saying recently “You know that blog you used to write…”. Also, I recently wrote an article about burnout (here in de and en) that went totally off the charts (over 400k views) and I don’t think I have ever had (and probably never will have) such an audience again, so I thought I’d take this as a message from the universe (thanks!) and re-launch How To Fab. As much as I’d love to write a book or something with more meat, now is not the time for that, and I just love the more instant gratification of writing and publishing that I can have here.

So, after a 3 years hiatus I am back at the keyboard trying to wrangle my thoughts into coherent words. A lot has happened since the last post but a lot has also stayed the same and I am looking forward to explore all the spaces that my life currently consists of.

I will make some small changes to the way I was writing before (and I will only include copyright free images alongside the articles and give due credit), but I am keeping all previous blog posts up here – they may not reflect my thinking now but hey, life is a journey and in order to evolve we must accept that looking back can sometimes be a bit cringe-worthy.

Some of the highlights since October 2013:

  • I successfully completed my psychotherapy training and in June 2015 launched Gedankenklinik (Thinking Clinic), my Life Coaching and Psychotherapy practice.
  • After reading Sheryl Sandberg’s successful book Lean In, I joined a Lean In circle in Berlin and even set up a new one together with a fantastic group of women from all over the world and from different professional backgrounds. We now have over 40 members and our monthly meetings are totally inspiring.
  • I picked up and developed a deep love for core/strength training (me???) and managed to bring back Yoga into my life. Can’t even begin to say how happy this is making me.
  • I continue to feel extremely privileged when friends or colleagues trust me with their personal stories (good or bad) and when I become part of other peoples’ journeys.
  • I FINALLY managed to introduce karaoke to my company’s annual team gathering. I am tearing up when I think about that. So much happiness there.
  • My wheat intolerance went away. Over night. Just like that. Weird.
  • I wrote and recorded a song for my brother’s 40th birthday. Not quite Beyoncé but I have to admit: Making music is dope, yo!
  • I signed up to this magnificent daily newsletter called “Notes from the Universe”. Everyday at around 9am a message drops into my inbox that makes me either laugh or cry a little. It’s like being tickled or whacked by a slightly drunk angel.

I only actually read Sheryl Sandberg’s book after reading her very touching article on mourning after her husband had suddenly died in 2015. And it is also in response to that article that I want to share some of my thoughts and quarrels again. I can’t of course make myself entirely free from ego and narcissistic tendencies here too, but perhaps some of my words will help others with their life, just as I have benefitted from other peoples’ shared stories.

So, everybody: Welcome back! Drinks anybody?

Picture: kaboompics via pexels.com

Happy first blogday to me!

8 May

It’s May. It’s 2012. That means I have been in the blogging business for 1 year. The moment I thought about starting a blog was exactly 1 year ago during a run through Heaton Park on a lovely warm evening. I came back and within 1 hour I was all set up and ready to push PUBLISH (thanks to my lovely flatmate who assured me I probably wouldn’t have to face any legal claims) . I have really enjoyed this year blog-wise and What A Year It Has Been! Live-covering my very own Life Events has not only been great fun, but also absolutely necessary for Mental Health & Safety. There is not a chance in hell I would have been able to predict what 2012 had in store for me and looking back at everything now is actually quite exhausting. Of course there were a number of developments and occurrences that I wasn’t able to report on at the time, and still can’t, but overall it was great to be able to get certain things off my chest, through my finger tips, as it gave me perspective, time and space to think and reflect and every now and then I seem to have said something useful for other people. So, thank you for all the kind words of support throughout this undeniably self-centric process.

Looking back at my first blog actually makes me smile. So much was new then, which now is so old. Sooo 2011! The informed reader will know that the word NEW was lifted to a new level in the past 6 months – oh, how little did I know back then?! – and that I am actually starting to get real sick of ‘new’. Now it’s about ‘Old’. What has left the biggest impression on me recently were encounters with my old self, through simply being in Germany again, through reading old things I used to write, through spending just enough time on my own to go slightly mental (like I have done many, many times before) and through spending time with my family and old friends. I am actually just about, well in a month’s time, to visit Newcastle. ‘Visit’, not as in ‘coming back home’. I am really looking forward to it, but I am also quite scared. There is a good chance I will simply sob for the entire 40 hours I will be there. There is a good chance I w0n’t leave without at least a medium size heart break. I thought 6 months would be a good time, but right now I am feeling quite fragile and knowing Newcastle and its unpredictable temperament, anything is possible.

Fragile? Yes, fragile. As I am settling into the new übercool lifestyle that is Berlin, I am alo realising the stark reality of not having enough friends around me to counter balance a life dominated by work. The problem is not the job, but the lack of balance with other things which is starting to grind on me. I am even contemplating returning from my 12 year old Volleyball retirement. I must be mad. Especially since gravity found me on my 25th birthday and what was an easy jump 12 years ago is now a major physical challenge that will most likely end in tears (for me) and laughter (for everybody else). One thing that has crept up inside my head, and I am sure it’s a result of the amount of traveling I have recently done and a particular strange encounter with an air hostess, is the need for something deeper, more substantial than say, Cocktails or Beyonce lyrics. I am in the middle of reading various books and materials on Philosophy, Ayurveda and Buddhism. And I am thinking about spending my recently acquired flight voucher on a retreat somewhere nice. Possibly a little bit spiritual even.

Where 8 My 2011 was all about the buzz, the unknown, energy & change, 8 May 2012 is about mental and physical grounding, need for stability and substance. I won’t go as far as ‘meaning’ or ‘purpose’ of life – I am seriously not clever enough to understand any of that and I have no desire of building a church around me….Although, Church of Fabbism… and you could all go down in history as the Fabsters. Wouldn’t that be neat? No, it wouldn’t. Shut up and go to work now! Ok…..

Slow. Right…………….Down.

17 Apr

You know what’s great: Balance. And you know what’s missing: Balance. So let’s bring it back.

I’ve had many a moment recently where I purposefully sat down in the office, in a cafe, on the train, in my flat but on a different chair than usual – with a pen, some blank paper and the intention to make sense of what was going on in my life. I started making all sorts of lists (I like making lists) with the big things that I want to sort out – in my job and in my personal life – and with all the little tasks that make up those big things. And just as I got going, I got distracted, did something else for a bit and when I tried to get back to ‘Sorting out my life’, I wasn’t really feeling the swing anymore. Then I started writing an email that I had meant to write for ages, then I suddenly realised I needed to write a speech for my mum’s birthday so I stopped writing that email. Then I suddenly realised I had no more chick peas at home (Panic!), so I quickly put together a shopping list, totally forgot the speech and accidentally closed down the document without saving it….. And at the end of the day, I would have 25 half written emails, some of them with some content but with no recipient (who was that for again?), some with a name in the ‘To’ line but without any content (what did I want to write again?) , with about 15 stickies, 17 To Do Lists and about 15728 browser tabs open, while Twitter alerts kept popping up in the right hand corner of my screen reminding me every 30 seconds that somebody might have just said something super funny that I couldn’t possibly miss.

Enough, I said! ENOUGH!

This is just stupid. Not just stupid but actually harmful. Not only do you not get anything done, you also stress about not getting anything done, so you don’t sleep, which damn sure as hell won’t make you any more productive the next day. So you’re stressed and on top of that you become unhappy – well, I did anyway. Because I couldn’t get to the bottom of anything anymore. All this noise, all these bits of something, all this ‘let’s do something for 5 seconds and then something else and then…’ actually made me borderline depressed, because everything felt so fluctuant, without any real depth. So, the other day on the train, something great happened. My dongle didn’t work (this is NOT a euphemism) and I was OFFLINE. For a whole 5 hours. On my laptop and on my phone (as 3G was also having a fit), so I sat down again and tried to get to the bottom of my little niggles here and there. And I came to the grand conclusion that what I was missing was Balance.

With Balance I mean a healthy mix of many things in my life, in various doses, at various times but with depth, focus, attention and all for one single reason: To make me happy.

And it goes something like this:

Love makes me happy, but as I am not ‘in love’ right now, I happily spend and get all my love through friends and family. They make me happy, because they matter to me, I matter to them – and they’re ace. So I call them or go and see them. Or I watch films with Ryan Gosling and try and pretend to be whichever opposite female.

A healthy body makes for a healthy mind. My body doesn’t like wheat. My head does, but it really screws me up. But that’s old and we’ve known that for a while. But what’s also true is that I feel much better without dairy, sugar, caffeine, meat and technically alcohol. I know that because I did a detox last year and have never felt better in my skin. As it’s up to me what ends up in my fridge / on my plate / in my tummy, I buy stuff that is good for my body, so it’s good for my mind too. This is a 85% rule by the way. Being of the female kind, I do have my days when I need – and I mean NEED – my chocolate, Haribo, crisps and wine. And then I have them. All at once if necessary. But that actually happens less often than I thought. And I certainly don’t let these restrictions unnecessarily spoil a night out  – I am not insane. Exercise-wise I’ve also come to realise that a good mix of outdoor running and indoor Yoga / stretching is a good balance for me. In general, I am not one for high impact stuff, so slowing down usually makes for a better workout for me. Unless I have had too much Haribo during the day and have the energy of a mad 7 year old.

A healthy mind makes for a happy soul. I love learning, finding out new things, knowing stuff, laughing my head off, listening to music – Some of this I get at work, but my work head and my personal head are not one and the same, so I make sure that I leave my work head at work and spend some time in the evening nourishing my personal head. That comes by way of watching a good film / series, listening to podcasts while cooking, reading, taking a bath and listening to classical music or writing this blog.

Focus – There is nothing more frustrating and stressful than losing focus. I am much better at something when I give it my full attention, so no more ’10 things at once’ and ‘I just quickly do this’. I like to know and see the big picture, the road map and the small tasks in front of me. I need to be able to look at them by way of maps, lists or some kind of voodoo drawing that I’ve recently developed. I am like that. I’ve still not figured out the best way of illustrating everything, but I am working on it. And I try and finish one task and then do the next. As much as I can anyway. And not just that, I actively structure my  day so I can cope with the work load and the various dynamics of certain tasks. I end each working day with a realistic To Do list for the next – I try not to put things on there that in total would take more than 5 hours as I need to allow for 3 hours of ‘extra stuff that just happens’. I start each day with 1 hour of quick and easy tasks, like emails. Then I do personal stuff for a bit. Then I go to the office with only bigger tasks at hand. If things are of a scale or kind that I need quiet, I do not go to the office, but either work from home or whichever space I need to be in to be able to focus. Then I work my way through the To Do list. Then at the end of the day, I really go through and empty my mind and everything I didn’t get done, I put on a To Do list (which actually stays the same size that way) for the next day so I don’t end up worrying all evening about doing stuff or forgetting about something. There is always another To Do List – the ones where the big tasks are on. I never put more than one of those tasks on my Daily To Do list – it’s a nice surprise if I manage to tackle more than one in a day, but usually very unlikely. Oh, and I have also switched off Twitter alerts. And I ignore the little red numbers signalling ‘You Have Mail’. And although I seem to have a Pinterest account – it is one social media phenomenon I happily ignore. Nonterest.

And if I am not at work, I try to totally not be at work. When I am in the bath, I AM IN THE BATH. When I listen to a podcast, I try and give it my full attention so it’s not just background noise. And if I keep switching off, I rt……of course, I just interrupted this blog for a 30 mins conversation with my old flat mate. I mean there are important things – like this blog – and there are super important things – like catching up on essential gossip…..so, where was I? …..so if I keep switching off, I try and find out what’s occupying my mind and deal with it. In general, I just try to be a lot more ‘in the moment’. I know that sounds like an awfully buzzwordy thing to say, but it’s true. If you deal with the right now right now, you don’t have to worry about it 2 hours later. And if you know that during the next meeting you can fully focus on the conversation there and then, you don’t have to deal with it beforehand. Focus and concentration is really nice and satisfying. Funny enough, switching off and ‘not doing anything’ can be really hard work. I have become so attached to my laptop, that it is actually really tough to switch it off and put it away – and not give in to the temptation of the old iPhone multi-something-ability. It’s come to the point where I sometimes have to force myself to go for a walk and leave all gadgets at home. And it can take ages for the calm to sink in, without me making a new To Do list in my head and behind my own back. I can be quite sneaky with that. But I am also quite good at catching myself doing it.

Of course all this needs to be offset with a (un)healthy dose of unexpected stuff that throws you way off track and completely contradicts everything I have just said. Only then is everything truly in balance.

Am I a Modern Woman?

29 Jan

Things are starting to feel normal at last. I am sinking back into myself and, a bit like a snake, I’ve shed some old skin. The transition to old-Germany / new-Berlin actually went a lot smoother than I had expected and I have only had one evening so far where I was exposed to the small-minded, persistent German Male that I remember so un-fondly. If the cocktail I was drinking at the time hadn’t been so delicious, I would have tossed it right in his stupid face. I have also recently met with a few friends whom I used to be very close with – 7 to 12 years ago – and within 2 minutes, we were back to our old game and there was this rush of overwhelming inner happiness in realising how much fun we were having and how nice it was to ‘be back’. Interestingly, nobody told me that I had changed, but everybody told me that I had ‘grown’. Isn’t that lovely? (Assuming I was a nice person to start with…and that they didn’t mean that I had become fat).

All this catching up is making me look at myself from a bit of a distance. And for the first time in my life, I am thinking of myself as a Woman. With a capital W. The concept of ‘woman’ has been hovering over me for a while but never really applied to me until now. What I mean with that is that I have quiet a strong sense of myself on a number of levels and would defend my values with a lot of passion if anybody wanted to argue with me against them. Funny enough, most of my values are very liberal so I would never consciously try and force them onto anybody who didn’t share them anyway. I would simply toss a cocktail in their face.

So, Woman. I have a number of amazing ladies in my life who have all contributed of my Sense of Being A Modern Woman. They have all taught me a lot and especially in recent times, I have spent a lot of time talking and listening to them. And thinking about it, I really think that the notion of Modern Woman is quite startling and really very different to, say, 15 years ago. Family planning being one. Hardly anybody is having children in their twenties anymore, not in my world anyway and I genuinely wonder what would happen if the bio clock didn’t exist in its current format. It messes with our gorgeous little heads, that’s for sure. I have also been listening to ‘The Brigade of new Feminists’, the women in the public space who are currently setting the tone for conversations regarding how women should dress, how women should think, how to turn our lives into anecdotes and share them and how we should understand our place in the universe. (These are pretty much all UK women, by the way). Of course, like any proper woman, I have recently read Caitlin Moran’s book, I am grateful that Christina Hendricks has brought Big Boobs back, I watch Sali Hughes make-up tutorials and I follow a number of similar ‘icons’ on twitter, read their blogs or listen to their podcasts. Women are all over social media (or as it’s all very self-centric, it should really be spelled MEdia). They’re fun and witty and smart and cool and intelligent, even within 140 characters, and it’s so easy to get drawn into their stream of banter. But take yourself away from that stream for a moment and you realise the force they have created. I am pretty sure that if it hadn’t been for them, I would not have started writing a blog – because expressing ones feelings is what a woman does these days – so it’s not all bad. But there are elements to all this that have started to jar with me a little bit. The first being a trivial one. As mentioned before I have spent an absolute fortune on beauty products last year. Because, all of a sudden, I couldn’t simply buy that stuff in a drug store anymore, but I somehow felt I had to go to a certain Apothecary or at least buy my products from my beauty salon (which I never had before) to be able to call myself a Modern Woman. Because any women with a bit of cashish and self-worth does that. But these products and the regimes that go with them are so expensive, often extremely painful and sometimes utterly pointless. And now that I am back to basics with that stuff, I don’t miss it at all. Yes, I do like a little Chanel product, these things make nice presents, as treats. But I can’t help but think that this whole beauty regime really has become the new My Car, My House, My Family. It’s now the My Eyebrow Person, My Waxer, My Hairdresser, My Spray Tanner, My Manicurist. Bollocks to that. Men don’t do that shit! Not the men I want to have in my life anyway. And no man has ever complimented me on the shape of my eyebrows.

Maybe I’ve not come across them yet, but I don’t think there is the similar kind of Public Lady Brigade in Germany. And I quite like that…

There are of course other aspects. Careers being one. I have earned my own money for a while now and currently have a job that sees me flying across the world (hurrah!). The world I work in (which I appreciate is NOT the world everybody works in) values strong, intelligent women without making a fuss about it. There aren’t that many ladies in senior positions around, so every now and then I feel a bit like a sparkly unicorn when I enter a room. Generally I feel that women actually have a massive advantage there because if we are good at what we do, we really get noticed. Men listen to what we have to say and not just that, they actively seek our advice and take our criticism. I can’t say that the opposite is necessarily true. Maybe it’s because that as soon as we swing the emotional / social / empathetic stick around, men flap their hands and say ‘She’s a woman, she HAS to know’, either because they genuinely believe that or because they have to admit defeat, because it would be sexist not to take a woman seriously when she asks ‘But how does that make the team FEEL?’. Am I being sexist in saying that I don’t mind being a unicorn? I actually feel more empowered working more with men than women. Maybe because other women can see through me with their wicked female eyes and realise that I secretly listen to pop music in my head during most meetings! Also, there is nothing more disappointing than encountering a Woman in Power who got it all wrong and who acts like the Bitch from Hell. I have met her. She is ugly. I guess the reason there aren’t as many good women in ‘senior management positions’ as men is probably largely due to the whole baby-thing (Hell-Bitches are probably all single and hence don’t have that problem!). Just when you’re at that level, the bio clock comes knocking and takes you on a different path. And even if you want to, managing a career AND a family is fricking hard, from what I’ve heard and seen. I couldn’t do what I do now if I had a family. And that brings me to my next point.

Not only would I not have the energy for my work life as is with a family, I probably wouldn’t have the same energy if I simply were in a relationship right now. Because, when I am in a relationship, I give myself up to some extent. Which means on the job-front I become a lot weaker and easier to break. And you know what: That’s absolutely fine with me. In fact, that’s what I would chose. I don’t consider myself feeble for that in the slightest, but if I had the choice between my main focus being on job or family, I would ALWAYS chose family. Because I am a woman? I don’t know. I mean I would never want 100% family and no job, I think my ideal would be 70% family / 30% job, but I KNOW that if I had the choice right now, I would drop my career in a second. Well, maybe in a year or two (this whole job-related flying around the world thing is new to me and I like it!). When it comes to family, relationships, love – that’s where I am vulnerable. If somebody doesn’t like the presentation I have worked on for the past 2 nights – that’s fine. If I like a boy and he doesn’t like me back, that crushes me. But it’s also what makes me whole. There is a very big heart in my chest and if that doesn’t get used, I am not really happy. I’d like to think that having both a demanding job and a relationship is totally compatible and both would get equal attention from me. That might work for other women, but I know for a fact it’s not true for me. I could have the most supportive partner, who wants me to wow them all in the board room, and maybe I could do that for a bit, but I am a nesting person at heart and I would probably lose the ambition for that quickly. Not because I want to become less visible in the world and give myself up in a disappearing kind of way. But I get more satisfaction out of enabling others and seeing them go from strength to strength than I get from pushing myself ahead. It is actually in that role as enabler / facilitator / nurturer that I am at my best and most at home. I have used this as my Lady Trump Card at work on many occasions and have really made an impression with it. I am probably making big generalisations here but I think men usually have to perform their function at work in a much more one-dimensional way whereas women can wiggle around much more and create a space for themselves where they are comfortable and happy. I personally think that’s great (for women) but I wonder whether that’s not a bit unfair on men? They are people too after all!

Another side to that is adaption. I have always adapted to my environment and to the romantically involved person next to me. With my family that was actually a huge topic when I became single again – the fact that I adapt so much in relationships – but I can’t argue that that’s in my naturel. I like to think of it as being flexible and letting yourself go. The inherent risk is obvious and I have felt the consequences of losing myself a bit too much. But I have also learned and grown from that a lot and I believe that my common sense and my gut feeling usually keep me from people who could take advantage of that in a bad way.

Does that make me Modern? Or Traditional? Or is Traditional the new Modern? And who cares anyway?

In the meantime, until I can lose myself again, I throw myself into work and I happily spend evenings and weekends creating a spreadsheet – with a glass of wine in my hand (which sometimes makes for funny numbers!). And I see friends and I see family and I exercise (Who am I kidding? I don’t really – but probably only because I am not following a person on twitter who tells me to do so) and I go shopping. And I watch as much Twilight as I want. Because one day, I might have to share the TV with another person again and then I probably have to watch football again. So I am making the most of it right now.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I am missing a couple of layers / dimensions / angles in all this Modern Woman Talk. It’s all about Me, Me, Me  and it all feels a bit flat sometimes. But I know that I am not alone in valuing the nurturing side of my personality. The one that wants to take care of things and people. Doesn’t necessarily have to be children, but I guess it’s fair to say that when it comes to relationships, the woman usually takes care and runs the show. And we enjoy that. Or, we do it anyway. Women can be such bullies with their home lives that men sometimes don’t get given the space to get a word in edgeways. I have seen it. I have done it. But I think that caring and nurturing is what can make us women so amazing. We take care, organise and keep shit together. Yes, we can be witty and intelligent and strong – My non-existing balls are A LOT stronger than the existing ones of some of the men in my life – but to some extent these qualities can easily be cold and stale if the heart doesn’t really pump anything into them.

Again, maybe it’s not on my radar, but there seem to be an awful lot of ‘How to be a woman’-esque talks and conversations out there right now. Does the same happen for men as well? Do they share their stories? Or have we shut them up once and for all? Who and where are the male Caitlins/ Salis/ Graces and if there are any, what sort of men do they speak on behalf of? I am genuinely intrigued.

How to operate a lady

12 Sep

This one is for the guys: Having dissected, discussed, analysed and bitched about love relationships with old and new girlfriends a lot this year, I have come to think that I should spill some beans (relax ladies, your secrets are safe with me). There are some home truths that all guys should know about. The stuff some of us ladies don’t like to talk about or will deny to the bitter end. There is a good chance that your current or next girlfriend is dealing with some of this right now, so pay attention:

– We all think you don’t contribute enough to house work. Doing the dishes means also putting the dirty dishes into the dishwasher (not just next to it); doing laundry doesn’t stop with putting things into the washing machine; we also hate food shopping but somebody has to do it; dust is a reality and toilet paper doesn’t actually refill itself.

– To quote good old Jane Austen: “A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.”  You might think we have just met 2 minutes ago, but in these 2 minutes we have already decided whether we will kiss you, how many children we might have, where we are going on holiday and the clothes we will put you in to meet our parents.

– We cause drama and we know it. The problem with you guys is that you don’t listen or talk so we sometimes blow things up just to get your attention. And even if we deny the hell out of it, we totally know when we are being unreasonable. However that won’t stop us. And there is a good chance that we don’t actually want to argue but that we want you to give us a massive bear-hug and tell us that everything will be ok.

– We all have body issues. It’s not about being fat, but if our bodies don’t feel right and we don’t feel well in our skin, this affects everything. Our mood, our sex drive, our confidence. We can’t explain it and we don’t enjoy the whole thing one bit.

– We all have a secret crush on somebody. Whether it’s ‘the one who got away’ when we were 21, the delivery guy, the guy who always takes the same bus, a colleague, a mate or your brother. There is somebody. And he doesn’t look like anything you would expect. BUT, and the but is important: He doesn’t actually matter. He is not a risk to the relationship. His role is to put a spring in our step and to give us a little tickle in our belly. Don’t even think about asking us about him, we will never ever owe up to it.

– The whole baby thing (when you’ve crossed the magic 3-0). When we’re in our twenties, we like to have fun and pretend to be working on a career. If we are in a relationship, we are already busy looking after somebody, so some of us don’t think about a baba at that point. And then we hit 30. And suddenly EVERYBODY around us is having babies. They are absolutely everywhere. And of course they are cute and we want them as well, but that’s when things stop being easy. We might realise that Mr Relationship is not the baby-daddy we want or we realise that there is no Mr Relationship or we are perfectly happy with life as it is and baby can wait a few years, but other people (quite often our GPs actually) are telling us we should get a groove on. Because 35 is the magic number and suddenly being given a deadline can set off all sort of reactions. Some of us panic, some of us think about getting off the pill without telling you, some of us know we want your baby but that the relationship won’t last – it’s hormonal and it can be messy. Some of us are thinking about the b-factor all the time. If we want to or not.

– Some of us have gone home during our lunch break or have ended a perfectly fine evening early – because we needed a poo. Doing number 2 anywhere but in the safety of our own home is simply not an option for some of us and we go to ridiculous lengths to avoid it. Not a great deal to be added to this but I thought I mention it as it’s an omnipresent problem. (I should probably also mention that accidentally farting in front of you can make us instantly suicidal).

– We don’t actually put on make-up, or style our hair, or buy expensive clothes for you. Well, about 25% of this is for you. 49% is for us, 25% for other women, because they actually notice and compliment us and 1% is for crush-guy. Just in case.

– We end up mothering you because your time management sucks, errands don’t run themselves and although you say you like cooking, you never actually pick up the tools and just do it! We enjoy it as little as you do, but if we don’t nag you, certain things just don’t get done and the fear of you forgetting to pick up our dress from the dry cleaner in time for our sister’s wedding (and not 2 days later) causes way more stress than ‘giving you a little hint’. And if we have to do it 25 times, it’s because after the first 24 times, nothing actually happened.

– We don’t really ever ‘take it easy’. We compare ourselves to female friends, we try and please our and your mother all the time (because she judges our every move), we panic about your ex, we want you to think we’re cool and sexy and kind and beautiful and smart and interesting, and the more ‘cool’ we say we are, the more we are probably freaking out inside. Especially if we have a crush on you. Then you truly become our puppeteer and everything you do or don’t do affects us more than you can possibly know.

– We take on different roles and we need you to do the same. Modern times have generally brought about a much softer man, and that’s cool, but sometimes we need you to be a strong alpha male. Most of us consider ourselves to be much tougher than you, but because that requires a lot of work, we sometimes need a strong shoulder to lean against and know that we are in safe hands.

– We love surprises. And romance. A little unexpected gesture or a small gift can mean so much more than the scheduled presents we receive at birthdays and christmas. And…

-…they buy you brownie points. We are natural list makers and we know exactly who has recently picked up the hoover more, who did more shopping, who bought the drinks, who initiated sex (yes, it’s usually you), so anything you can do to get into the good books actually gets you there. We don’t forget. Anything. Ever.

Enough for today. If you are not in a relationship, don’t let this stop you from getting into one. We can be hard work and annoying, we can make little sense and your life hell, but we are also the most fabulous and wonderful creatures. Making a woman happy isn’t easy but if you succeed, oh boy, you’re in for a good time!

You’re welcome.

So here I am

8 May

Welcome to my First Blog!

When I recently started writing a diary again after 12 years I thought that I could share some of my thoughts in form of a blog. There is no plan or agenda, hence this will probably be a fairly random collection of stories from my professional and personal life and, if nothing else, an exercise in digesting some of the things that are on my mind.

I love writing and find it genuinely therapeutic. So even if nobody will ever read this, I am happy in the knowledge to have spent some time reflecting – and undoubtedly in some cases venting.

Why ‘How to Fab’? This is about me and what makes me tick. As tempting as it could have been to give this blog the title ‘Name + Nature = Fab’ or ‘I am Fab – Honestly’, I decided I did not want it to sound like the memoirs of a rubbish soap actress. Good title? You tell me.

What’s the back story?

During the past 6 months I have been on a very interesting journey. Many aspects of my life have changed and I have discovered and re-discovered a lot of fascinating stuff that fills my head every day to the point of near explosion. Some of this will be trivial to some people, but to me this is all very important. To give some context, here are some bullet points most of which will feature in more detail in future blogs:

  • New age: I am going to be 30 this month and I am pretty certain that I am not important enough for that event to stop the world from rotating.
  • New relationship status: Fairly new single after 5 years (this was probably the most important trigger to most of the following).
  • New living environment: I now live in a lovely flat and for the first time in my life share it with another girl, which is just the best thing ever!
  • New mental disposition: It’s all about positivity and happiness. Without trying to sound like a New Age TV psychologist, I believe that a lot of our happiness depends on the way we look at what’s around us. Wherever possible (which is 99%) I chose to start everything I do with a positive mind-set and surround myself with people and things that make me happy. Positivity attracts more good things. Fact.
  • New diet: I’ve stopped eating wheat. I can not stress how life-changing this decision has been. After 15 years of all sorts of wheat-related (as it turns out) pains I finally feel good in my own skin.
  • New ways of learning: For 6 months now, I’ve had a mentor who has introduced me to a number of fascinating news ways of thinking / reflecting / decision-making. After becoming Managing Director of the company I currently work for, I also signed up to a fantastic course called Common Purpose which is all about leadership and continues to broaden my horizon at a breathtaking rate. I also read books again.
  • New wardrobe: KLM lost my suitcase when I went on a 3-week holiday. That was obviously more than annoying but it also allowed me to go shopping like a crazy person and completely renew my wardrobe. I will still never fly KLM again.
  • New hair: Obviously

So, this is a snapshot of what 2011 has had in store for me so far and which is why I am feeling the need to put some thoughts on blog paper. Otherwise I might pop.