I still can’t quit Facebook, despite being aware of its harmful effect

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The mass exodus from Facebook is real. It is obvious that people don’t log in, share or comment as much as they used to. Facebook  has become uncool.

Cambridge Analytica was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Even celebrities like Elon Musk  and Will Ferell have hit the delete button. But this isn’t what made Facebook unpopular. As any avid Facebook user will tell you, it was evident to everyone that Facebook was spying on us even before the evidence became public.

Though Mark Zuckerberg has apologised to  Facebook users, it still feels like the social platform is playing psychological games on its users. I get all tensed and reluctant  before logging in. People and pages I have unfollowed show up on my feed, and it feels like information I’m not interested in is constantly being shoved down my throat. Why? The Facebook algorithm is clearly taking the piss out of its users.

Facebook has become like the nasty next-door neighbour that you don’t like, but are obliged to greet on a daily basis.

Still I have no plans to delete my Facebook account. Why?

I am not ready to give up on the Facebook groups

Throughout the years I have joined a number of common interest groups, that I am honestly not willing to give up . They are not just information gold mines, but genuinely great digital communities for sharing your passions, thoughts and insights.

Back in 2015 during a dark phase in my life I deleted my Facebook account. My life immediately transformed for the better. My stress levels dropped, I made new friends and focused on myself. It was like a huge weight was suddenly lifted off my chest.

It was also like the ‘virtual reality’ lens was finally switched off and I could see the real world around me. I felt liberated.

However after three great months of abstinence I decided to join Facebook again because I missed those online communities (especially my Hong Kong photography groups). But most importantly, as soon as I started taking freelance writing work, sharing my work on Facebook was seen as crucial. I simply couldn’t afford staying off Facebook.

I use Messenger- a lot

Having made friends and acquaintances from around the world, I never use people’s phone numbers to contact them. It just has to be online.

You are right thinking this sounds lazy AF. Surely there’s Skype, Viber, Whatsapp… and what happened to e-mail…?

Facebook has dampen my social skills.

The thing is that until now everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, had Facebook, whereas not everyone used the same messaging platform. It takes time and energy to trace down people digitally, and Facebook made that so much easier. (The downside being,of course, that you waste so much time wishing people you don’t really care about happy birthday, instead of contacting those that you do care about.)

Now that this is changing, I am willing to explore new platforms as my primary messaging platform. I suspect that as soon as I do that, I will communicate in a much healthier way with others, and give priority to people I genuinely care to contact.

Fear of Missing Out

Even though FOMO is clearly the reason why everyone should quit Facebook right now and never look back, it is also the reason why some of us stay.

And by FOMO I don’t mean browsing other people’s carefree look-at-me pictures but rather knowing that the mommy group from your child’s school is having all the important conversations on their Facebook group page.

That’s right, Facebook still has me by the balls.

In any case, Facebook is bad for your mental health

I often have vivid flashbacks of life before Facebook. I am so amazed at how simpler things were before this social media craze.  I realize that insidious platforms like Facebook and Instagram completely changed every aspect of how I saw myself and how I saw others.

Joining Facebook was like putting on goggles-I started seeing life through a blurry lens. What’s more, when I signed up I didn’t realise I was giving up something I wouldn’t be able to get easily back (despite being ‘free’ to do so): my freedom.

There’s no doubt that Facebook is damaging our mental health, as social media addiction pushes us on the brink of a mental health crisis.

But when push comes to shove, it’s up to us to fight back and just say no. It’s not easy. You don’t ask an alcoholic to give up addiction by drinking less.

But I hope that I manage to take longer mental strides away from Facebook’s mind control practices, at least until a less domineering substitute becomes available.

Freedom is a state of mind

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry and Meghan’s wedding was splendid, but, let’s be honest, it gives women the wrong message

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I am a huge Harry and Meghan fan, but when the two finally tied the knot last Saturday I admit I let out a sigh of relief. The 24/7 wedding coverage can finally now stop and life can bounce back to normal.

Naturally, ‘fairytale’ is the word that best describes the whole affair. The bride looked sublime walking down the aisle in an Audrey Hepburne-style Givenchy wedding gown in a star-studded ceremony. The couple gazed into each other’s eyes in sheer adoration, and soon  jetted off to start their charming life together, no doubt already packed with royal duties such as touring the Pacific islands or inaugurating charities in Africa.

If I am honest, being a royal sounds pretty awesome.

At the wedding party the bride broke tradition and gave a speech, while she declared herself a feminist and an advocate for gender equality on the British Monarchy’s website.

And here is where I kinda feel that the frantic royal coverage should pause for a second, and the media should take a minute to self-reflect. Because it’s one thing to marvel at the blessings of this beautiful couple, and another to try to brand them as role models for young people and ambassadors for modern values .

Because they are not. And as someone who has in the last months wrote extensively about Meghan Markle’s life and romantic relationships (it was work, I swear) I must say that Meghan’s Cinderella love story isn’t something most women should look up to. Simply because it gives a message that is not only depressing, but obsolete and false.

And frankly, it isn’t feminist either.

It is the message that if you wait long enough you’ll eventually find your Prince.  That divorcing someone to focus on your career is the way to go, because your career can lead you to more powerful men.

Don’t get stressed if you’re pushing 40. Mr. Big can always cover IVF expenses and you’ll soon get twins. Bam, problem solved.

In short, you can have your cake and eat it too.

Most single career women I know that are Meghan’s age would rather stay in and watch Netflix than go out on another Tinder date. They meet more sleazy married guys who see them as easy prey than eligible bachelors who are willing to reward them for all those years of holding out and kicking ass at work. Many guys their age, especially if they are professionally accomplished, will often look for a younger partner.

Moreover, there is no guarantee that if you focus on your career goals, life will reward you with a great man. It could happen, but it is also a possibility that it will not happen.

We keep hearing about how men today like strong and independent women. Gender equality? Sure, but if you never have any house chores to divide, or fights over whose turn is to take children to karate class or splitting the bills, what’s the point?

Harry and Meghan have embarked together on their very blessed life. I wish them all the happiness in the world, but I believe that they should enjoy their privilege humbly and without too much fanfare. This would be not only the most honest, but also the most royal-like thing to do.

 

Three Films For Triad Film Buffs

As a freelance writer I am asked to write “free samples” a lot. Even though sometimes  prospective clients are legit, and they end up offering me wonderful writing opportunities, a scarily large number isn’t. Quite often, scammers take my work for free and disappear. 

This morning I was asked to pass a 2-day test to be considered for a writing job. The “test” was in 3 stages and, amongst other writing tasks, asked me to read a 200-page academic book on Philosophy, and then write a 5-page summary of the book. For the life of me I can’t imagine why a Marketing agency would ask writers for such a long, academic article. 

Below is a sample I wrote a while ago for a travel and lifestyle blog.  This sample landed me a gig for the Culture Trip, which was an overall positive experience. So, I guess not everyone who asks for a free sample is a fraudster. 

But still, it makes me sad how vulnerable and susceptible to exploitation freelance writers are .

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Young and Dangerous was the ultimate 90s hit

 

In the early 80s and throughout the 90s, in the dawn of major political changes, the Hong Kong film industry experienced unprecedented cultural proliferation.

This change was part of the wider “East Asian Miracle” which brought about increased cultural production in the region, divulging the need to define Hong Kong identity. In the decade heralding the 1997 handover to China, came an increased interest in the colony’s affairs, as well as the Cantonese language and distinct culture.

A new wave of triad films were made in Hong Kong featuring fast-paced action scenes in the city’s busy streets. The following three films bring together gangster narratives and Hong Kong urban imagery, while they are inextricably intertwined with the city’s colourful cultural identity.

Young and Dangerous (1996): A true 90s classic, Young and Dangerous and its five wholesome sequels became a popular tv series. A mishmash of action and comedy, the film follows the lives and adventures of young and hip Triad members that dream big in the streets of Hong Kong. Andrew Lau’s Young and Dangerous is an entertaining film which nonetheless does not go overboard with gangster violence. It gave birth to the “Triad Youth” genre which stylized “Triad boys” lifestyle, and made youth around the world dream about Hong Kong adventures.

Election (2005): On a different tone, Johny To’s Election has been dubbed “the Godfather” of Asian cinema. A true gangster film for those who love the original genre, Election, peruses the Triad hierarchy, and examines its customs and laws with crude bluntness.  Hong Kong triad members are summoned to elect a new chairman through a “democratic” election, which sparks lethal rivalries between its two main contestants, Lok and Big D. This is a film that scrutinizes the conflicting elements of ancient religious beliefs and traditions with modern Triad lawlessness and raw violence. A fascinating contradiction, just like the city of Hong Kong.

Infernal Affairs (2002) Tony Leung’s Infernal Affairs narrates the heart-rending story of an idealistic police cadet who infiltrates a triad with the purpose of exposing its secret dealings with the police. The brave man risks his life to nose out the “mole” in the Hong Kong police department.

Does the story ring some bells? That’s right, Martin Scorcese’s “the Departed” bears a chilling resemblance to the original Hong Kong film. Tony Leung’s 2002 film (it took two sequels to tell the whole story) is a fast-paced, stylish cop drama that delivers great performances by its main characters. But unlike Scorcese’s version, most of the action takes place out on Hong Kong’s busy streets, crammed shops, vertigo inducing high-rises and cramped Tsim Sha Tsui blocks. A real treat to watch for those who love the city.

 

 

Keep your calendar open: From January to December there is always something cooking in Hong Kong, and that’s not just the treats for the Hungry Ghost

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From Hungry Ghost to Chinese New Year and Dragon Boat there is always a reason to celebrate in Hong Kong. Unlike the Western religious celebrations, the Chinese festivals are rife with colour, dance, music and shared excitement, while they faithfully preserve the ancient beliefs that generated them. In this part of the world, it is all about fierce dragon parades, romantic lanterns, festive cakes, joyful music and a great vibe, as families and friends all get together to honour the remarkable Chinese traditions.

Here are the major annual Chinese festivals that have crowned Hong Kong empress of Chinese Culture and its fascinating centuries-old customs and beliefs.

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The Big Festival: Lunar New Year or Spring Festival is Hong Kong’s biggest, happiest and most glamorous annual extravaganza, which has been rightly described by Forbes as “Thanksgiving, Christmas and Western New Year’s all rolled into one glorious occasion”. It is certainly a lot louder and busier than Christmas, with people celebrating en masse outdoors in the beats of the carnival and the dragon dances, instead of quietly curled up by the fireplace. It is the time of the year for Chinese people to visit home and reunite with their families, and then take to the streets to enjoy the traditional Chinese performances and the magnificent fireworks. Even though as a tourist you are often advised against travelling in China during this particular period of time, it is a once-in lifetime experience if you are feeling intrepid enough to join in this absolutely massive celebration. Colorful Dragon dances and carnival processions, exuberant flower markets, festive horse-racing events and the world’s most jaw-dropping fireworks displays over Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour iconic skyline,are some of the major highlights of this endless party that in total lasts for about 23 days .

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The Romantic Festival: From ancient Greece to the Aztec Empire, nearly every culture has practiced lunar worship, acknowledging the powerful impact that the Earth’s only satellite has on every living creature on our planet. And thus it is no coincidence that the Chinese Moon festival takes place during Autumn, when the moon is closer to the Earth creating a “supermoon” phenomenon. Once a harvest festival dating back to the Tang dynasty that worshipped the powerful harvest moon on the 15th day of the 8th month, it was also considered to be a symbol of female energy as this was personified in the Moon Goddess of Immortality,Chang’e. With all the Moon bathing, the candles and Chinese lantern displays it is undoubtedly the most romantic and quaint event of the year. Other highlights of this beautiful celebration include carnivals, a fire dragon dance and gorging on scrumptious mooncakes.

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The Sporty Festival: Dragon Boat Festival: Also known as Tueng Ng Festival, Hong Kong’s Dragon Boat Festival is the Summer’s most anticipated cultural highlight. It takes place near the Summer solstice, on the 5th day of the 5th Lunar Month, and it is scattered all around Hong Kong.  There are different theories regarding the origins of this centuries- old festival, one of the most interesting being that the festival originated from the ancient Chinese Dragon Worship. The most prevalent theory has however been that the custom was created to honour the prolific ancient Chinese poet Qu Yuan, who drowned himself after being banned from court. The boat paddling, is symbolically performed to distract fish from eating his dead body, and for the same reason, people also throw Zongji-rice dumplings-in the water. (It is perfectly normal, however, if in the spirit of the festivities you enjoy the delicious Zongji yourself.) In Hong Kong the races have gradually become really competitive as the racing tradition has been passed from generation to generation. The festival is rife with traditional Chinese imagery: Colourful boats with dragon heads and tails decorated with flowers paddling in the beat of the drum, the cheering of Zongji-appreciating crowds, and a unique carnival vibe, all make the Dragon Boat Festival one of the most iconic Chinese celebrations of the year. Every year the event attracts thousands of visitors and more than 140 participating teams, while its reputation has spread around the world, with its most famous siblings being the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in New York, and the London Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival.

And the Spooky One:  In Hong Kong and in China in general, commemorating the dead an important part of life. Instead of flowers, it is not uncommon to bring fruits, meat, snacks and drinks to the grave of the deceased, as well as to burn incense and paper money or anything else a person can use in the other world.  The Hungry Ghost Festival that takes place every September in Hong Kong is meant to appease the spirits of the dead that roam the earth for a whole month, (the entire seventh month of the lunar calendar.) Bearing fascinating similarities with the Mexican Dia de los Muertos,(which is also related to All-Saints and Halloween) the Hungry Ghost Festival has ancient Chinese roots that reflect the worldwide belief that during certain months of the year the spirits can access our world, and so it is important to make sure our ancestors and malignant spirits don’t get hungry or angry.

The Festival takes place all over the city with paper money and incense burning on pavements and corners of residential buildings, accompanied with lighted candles and food offerings, that eerily remind us that we might not be able to see them but they are among us. Some of the Chinese superstitions to keep the ghosts away and to avoid attracting malevolent spirits include advising people to not cry, whistle, or hold and open umbrella.

 

The Ding Ding Tram Is Proof that Hong Kong Heritage Matters

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When in October 2015 a government proposal to scrap the Hong Kong tram in order to ease traffic congestion was put on table, the public reaction was overwhelming. For many Hong Kongers the Tramways-otherwise affectionately known as the Ding Ding- has been an integral part of the city’s history and just like the Star Ferry and the Peak Tram it belongs to a cultural heritage without which the city would be poorer.

But the tram is not only a charming British hangover that reflects the city’s past. It has traditionally been the most affordable and most environmentally friendly means of transport. Furthermore, its existence as a cultural symbol of Hong Kong has great emotional value for a large part of the local population that do not want to see rapid modernisation and technological innovation destroy the few remaining historical treasures of the city.

In a world that changes with whirlwind speeds, there are still some things that remind us that we sometimes need to slow down and reflect on who we are. Ding Ding is just that, a dear reflection of the Hong Kong’s identity.

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Brief History: The tram was first introduced in 1904 by the British Hong Kong Tramway Electric Company and twenty six single deck trams were imported from England. At the time the trams offered first class and third class seating. A few years later they were replaced by the iconic double deckers we all know, that until today belong to the few remaining double-decker trams in the world. For many older Hong Kongers the tram was the very first transport they ever used and they hold fond memories of those early rides. Unlike bus conductors, the tram conductors were nicer to the people, allowing them to jam in.

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and the Peak Tram-Chatham Path

By the mid 1950s the number of tramcars increased to 146 and they were completely remodelled.The 1950s antique tram 120 is still in use today and it passes through Shau Kei Wan, Happy Valley and Kennedy Town. The 1970s introduced major changes to the tram service.  The tram panels were rented out for advertising purposes, a practice that has since rendered them the chicest and most fashionable means for eye-catching advertising in Hong Kong. Furthermore, female conductors appeared, and class distinction in trams was abolished.

Today,the tram fleet consist of 163 tramcars, two of which are antiques. It is not uncommon to see fully painted ads on trams bodies, a practice that brings life and colour in the busy streets, and attracts art lovers and creative spirits from around the world. The antique tram no 28 is unique with a rare open balcony design and light bulbs that make it glitter at night,  and it is used exclusively for city tours, parties and promotional events.

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So, what are you waiting for? Hop on! The trams, being slower than other means of transport such as the MTR, are less busy and are one of the best ways to see Hong Kong.

The service is pretty straightforward, it goes East and West on the Hong Kong Island, and runs along some of the best parts of the city such as the historic Sheung Wan, the business centre in Central and the commercial Causeway Bay. The passenger can get a good idea of the different aspects and dynamics of the city on a single tram ride. If possible, grab a seat at the front row of the upper deck for breathtaking views of the imposing architecture and the fascinating street life.

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Today there are no tram conductors but your Octopus Card will grant you unlimited use of all Hong Kong’s transport, and you can also use coins. A four day pass is also available that allows you to hop on and off as much as you like.

Taking Tram Journey to a whole new level: Realising the trams immense cultural value, gave birth to a number of different services and creative ideas. The TramOramic Tour is a comfortable and stylish way to see the city on an open top 1920s tram and offers plenty of spectacular 360° snapshot opportunities. It also provides seven thematic journeys including Colonial, Art, Foodies, Shopping and Nature, where passengers get to choose their own itinerary based on their specific preferences and interests. 

Party On a Tram?  One thing that Hong Kongers know how to do well is party. You can party everywhere in Hong Kong, in the streets, at the beach, on a junk boat, on a helicopter and why not, on a vintage open-top double-decker tramcar! This is probably one of the most romantic ways to experience the legendary Hong Kong night lights and the city’s extraordinary festive vibe. Enjoy fine champagne and the city’s balmy nights, as the tram trundles through the bustling streets. Bespoke tram parties and events are available.

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And the most famous Tram of all: The Peak Tram funicular that carries passengers from Central to the Victoria Peak was built in 1881, and it was the first tram in Hong Kong. It was constructed to speed residential development on the hills as well as serve the privileged residents of the Peak,which before that were carried on the mountain by local bearers on sedan chairs. However it was considered a revolutionary form of transport in Asia, and for many today it is the city’s emblem.

Once you are at the Peak take some time to visit  the Peak Galleria where the Hong Kong Trams Station Museum displays valuable Tram memorabilia  including rare old photos and route maps.

I originally wrote this travel guide for Mavel

Netflix’s Love Ending Was Sloppy and Unfair to Fans

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As you’ve probably already heard, there’ll be no more Love on Netflix. It’s hard to see why Netflix decided to kill Judd Apatow’s seemingly successful series . I however feel that all in all, the gritty romance of Gus and Mickey deserved a more sentient finale.

I watched the whole third final season on a binge and was somewhat disappointed by the hastiness the producers decided to wrap up the story. Let’s not forget that last season ended with Mickey finishing things with ex Dustin behind Gus’s back after a frantic chase at the farmer’s market.

The third season felt like it fell short compared to its  predecessors.  For all its soul-searching, it didn’t compensate with hilariously candid action. Mickey’s emotional woes resurface when she finally meets Gus’s parents, but by that time viewers wonder why would anyone want to be serious with someone as wayward and unpredictable as Mickey.

She takes great offence at one of Gus’s careless comments about the relationship (which really isn’t that big a deal compared to the things she has done not so long ago behind his back). This incident eventually triggers the next phase in their relationship, ie. taking things to the next level with Gus.

Perhaps the producers really didn’t have the time to give the couple a more comprehensive finale. But a wedding doesn’t really feel like an organic part of season 3, but rather a forced way to wrap it up. The -problematic-dynamics of their relationship are still there: She is the hot girl dating a less hot guy, who naturally dances to her tunes.

For a few scary moments the final wedding episode even had an awkward Big Bang Theory vibe about it.

The ending didn’t really explain how an impromptu wedding is the solution to keeping Mickey’s  several addictions at bay. What’s more, there seems to be a gaping hole, where the whole Dustin karma should have returned to move the story forward.

The highlight of the whole season is without a doubt Bertie’s much anticipated new romance. “Bertie’s Birthday” is hands down the best episode of the final season, and the one that truly reflects Love’s original spirit. It’s such a relief to see this girl meeting someone more compatible than needy freeloader Randy.

It also gives a final positive, (and why not,also feminist), message: The key to finding love, ladies, isn’t to make safe choices and date less good-looking guys. It is rather to be open-minded, and allow yourself to meet people in whose company you feel great, and who make you want to be a better person.

 

 

 

 

 

Debunking a few Parenthood Myths

This is my third year into motherhood so I feel morally obliged to share some insights. It has changed my life immensely and it has been by far the biggest blessing I ever received, but I wish there were more sincere aspects of the hurdles of first time parenthood on the web to prepare women for this life-changing experience.

So here it goes, debunking some myths:

“Balancing career and motherhood will sort out itself ”: The African saying “It takes a Village to Raise a Childprobably sums this up best.When you decide to start a family and you are a professional person, the first thing you need to do is look around you and identify what is your support network. Are your parents or your in-laws retired and willing to give you a hand once you return to work? Can your salaries afford you a nanny or daycare, and would you feel comfortable leaving your new born with strangers for nine hours per day? Obviously these are questions that should be addressed beforehand.

Breast is Best. Ok, this is such a sensitive topic. Obviously breast is best. But sometimes I feel I agree with the French on this one. You should always do what keeps you balanced and sane. You are an intelligent human, not a feeding machine. Couples today, eager to be the best parents possible, go to extreme lengths to prolong breastfeeding, and are very proud when little Sofia, that has a mouth full of teeth and can speak sentences,pulls mom’s blouse down in public to drink milk. Stop feeling a failure or guilty if breastfeeding did not work out or you simply did not enjoy it.

Early Potty Training. Just like breastfeeding potty training is another topic that sparks lively database and attracts the most condescending and smug  comments from parents that trained their baby as soon as he could hold his head up. Enough with this madness. Sooner or later they will learn, and rest assured, they will not go to school wearing nappies.

Playdates: As a new mother I felt obliged to take my daughter to playdates way before she was interested in engaging with others or even inclined to liking others. I would say that toddlers from the age of two onwards are likely to look for the company of children but earlier than that, I am sorry to say, but it is a waste of time. Yes, it can be also a social opportunity for the mom to meet other moms but don’t expect to get a second for an adult conversation,let alone an intelligent conversation of any kind. Most of the time you will be either pretending to tell off your baby not to scream, cry and throw things down (and pretend in front of others that there is some logical explanation for that “This is totally because she didn’t have a nap today”) and, secretly planning your escape when she gives her best and loudest performance. “I ll take her home for that nap that we were saying”.

I take care of my baby while I work from home. Since I became a parent I came across this urban legend of the professional (usually a mom) that works from home while she takes care of her baby. Even though I am not familiar with the specific working arrangements of every person this sounds like the equivalent of trying to write a text when you are driving a motorbike at high speed. When I work I need to be able to focus on what i am doing, which is virtually impossible with an awake baby in the house. If however someone offered me the kind of job that you can do while taking care of a baby, and paid me with real money for it, i would take it in a heartbeat.

The second one will be a breeze. I left my favourite for the end. In life you can never keep people happy. When you are single people want to know when you will tie the knot, and when that happens they regularly interrogate you when are you planning to get pregnant. Just when you thought you have ticked all the boxes and they will finally leave you alone, there is the question of the second baby.I once had a mom that tried to convince me that having two kids is easier than having one just because they keep busy playing with each other. As a new mom of one, I thought it was one of the most outrageous arguments I had ever heard.  Even if it holds true for some part especially when the children are older, the popular idea that the second baby is a breeze and it will simplify your life is ridiculous. Sure, you already have all the know-how but that does not make the 3am feeds any easier, or lessens the overall responsibility of raising another human being.

So have more kids, but because you welcome the joy and the hard work, not only to provide the first one with a play mate.

Losing the extra weight: What I have learnt

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Being someone who has always experimented with weight loss, I have my own observations that I would like to share. With the exception of my post pregnancy weight where I had to shed around 28kg or 62 pounds, my main concern has always been the last stubborn five kilos (10 pounds), the result of love for food, loss of motivation and ignoring the caloric value of certain foods. I have never consulted a nutritionist or a dietician, (even when I successfully shed those 28 kg) but I always had a good general idea of the things I should and should not eat and I made my own diet plan according to my personal judgement.

Disclaimer: When you must lose  more than 6-7 kg it is best to visit an expert and get a a professional diet plan. The dietician will give you the right food combinations to cover your nutritional needs while cutting down on calories, and inform you about your personal ideal pace of weight loss.

However no dietician can make you thin, you are the the only person that can do that. Your motivation is your best friend in your weight loss journey, your driving force without which your goal cannot be achieved.

Below are some tips that I hope will help you keep it up and succeed.

Honesty with the scales: I myself have noticed that the times I tend to put on weight are those that I avoid stepping on the scales. Even though you should avoid obsessing over a number (numbers can lie) you still need to be honest about weight gain. No you are not “bloated” every day and it is impossible to gain significant muscle with little or no weight training, so just  be brave enough to admit that those pizzas and buckets of pop corn have turned into body fat that you now need to get rid of.

And now what? Relax.Once you get a cleat picture of the amount of extra weight that you want to lose, take a long deep breath. Success in weight loss requires that you are focused, yet relaxed. Stress, obsession, worry and impatience are only obstacles. The popular role model of the lycra clad  woman in a constant obsessive fighting mode against fat is likely create more stress and waste of your vital energy. Acknowledging that these extra pounds do not change a thing about you being a beautiful, sexy, intelligent person, but you would feel  so much better without them, is the way to start your journey.

Weight loss journey. Weight loss in a journey whether you need to lose 4 or 64 pounds. It is a change of attitudes and the realisation that healthy eating and exercise is a way of life. In fact, you need to accept that excessive eating and, unhealthy foods will always make those extra pounds creep back on. Unfortunately, the older you get, the more you have to watch your diet and eat clean.

Weight Plateaus: Embrace the idea that they exist. If there is one thing to be said about weight loss this is that is is not linear. It might appear that you are dieting for one or two months and the scales has not moved. The truth is that your body fat is a result of long term eating habits and what you need to do is to readjust these habits- in the longterm-to eventually find your weight where  you want it to be.

Learn to say no: Myself being Greek means that I come from a culture where throwing food away and not emptying your plate is the gravest of sins. I still remember as a young child my mother coaxing me to eat the last piece of bread “because children in some places in the world die of hunger”. Having this attitude makes it hard for you not to transgress, especially if you have a partner or child that orders pizzas and heaps of french fries and then does not finish them.Take responsibility for yourself and learn to say no to food. Are you willing to eat all the food available in the restaurant or all the food sold at the supermarket to rid the world of hunger? I thought so.

So do not give up. Weight loss is above all an attitude and a mental state . If you get there with your mind, the body will follow.

The one that got away: advice for broken hearts

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We all have one that got away. Even the most happily married, the most seriously committed. We all have one person that did not succumb to our charms and did not fall in our trap.

There are those who have passionately condemned this person as a troubled commitmentphobe, an asexual loser, a victim of her/his own ignorance and thus have found peace in their own bitter verdict. And there are those who will endlessly wonder on a rainy night what really happened, what really went wrong and burden their minds with whys and what ifs.

If you belong in the second group a word of advice: Don’t waste more energy. It is a fact of life that we all have one that got away, and don’t flatter yourself that you should have been the exception. Yes, you liked that person and yes you felt a special way when you were together. But think of it this way, especially if you are a lady: Love is like an online buy. Imagine for example that you are web browsing on Zalando and while you browse, let’s say shoes, you find that perfect pair of Italian design heels, the perfect color, the best leather. Do you know what really makes it irresistible to buy?

It is not on sale and if it is there is a special warning attached to it that this item will soon sell out. The item oozes adrenaline and desirability. With sweaty trembling fingers you reach for your credit card, even if this item is a bit “out of your league” financially. You follow me so far? Just when you are about to click “buy” you change your mind and decide to wait a bit longer, your finances in mind making you have a bit of a guilty conscience. After having a few rounds around the house pretending to be busy you go back to the computer,credit hard in hand, determined. It’s now or never. In absolute horror you realize that your shoe size is sold out. You cannot believe how it slipped through your fingers just like that. No pair of shoes will ever look that perfect.

But please do realize. Just like shoes, the one that got away’s irresistible charm is his unavailability. It’s the missed opportunity and the non existent scenario. And in case you tell yourself it was you that “pushed the person away”, this is not true either. You don’t need to push a person away for them to want to stay away from you. It is perfectly normal and it happens every day.

All this might sound harsh and unfair but dear friend one thing is for sure: You are a million times better off tonight eating peanut butter off your tv remote, I can promise you that.

And if your hopeless romanticism still doesn’t allow you to find peace in your heart, don’t lose faith. You will always have Paris.

Updates on Life in Sweden:The Stockholm Syndrome

Lately I have reconsidered almost every aspect of my life in Sweden. Everything that bothered and frustrated me the first year when I was child-free has now transformed into a big convenience. First of all I don’t mind living in the suburban multinational company Legoland anymore. True, there is no metro station nearby and not a pub in miles, but it does not matter anymore. For one thing, I rarely take the baby downtown nor have the urge to do so. And as for pubs, it sounds a bit obscene even for Swedish standards to push a trolley into a bar. I no longer whine about the bad restaurant food in the area, as for the last months in an effort to fit in my clothes again I have embraced green vegetables and water.

The only two establishments that I frequent multiple times a week, the supermarket and the gym are around the corner. I am finally giving in to the Stockholm syndrome. It took me a while to get here, but here I am turning into a Swede as we speak. Last year I had all these Whys and WhatIfs that made my marching through the snow even more challenging. Not anymore. I quit reading the Local.se as well. How much better can this get?

Parenthood lessons Chapter Two: Giving up on all the above and the below: sugar, booze, skinny jeans, second thoughts , the Local, ironing and the urge to keep things tidy and clean all time.

Embracing : Chaos.

Urge of the Week:
Claire2