This is not a halloweeny post

3 November 2011

… it’s a bit late anyway … Halloween has passed us by completely. On October 31st, we spent a happy 9 or so hours on the road travelling home to Lyon from Germany. A drive that long kills all my inclination to dress up as a pumpkin or a witch. Instead of getting mentally ready for halloween over the weekend, Rolf and I went to a fabulous wedding in the North of Germany while the kids were at their grandma’s. You know, I love weddings. We are very lucky to we have been invited to at least one wedding per year over the last decade. Sometimes, weddings pop out of nowhere, quite unexpectedly, like this one and I love those even better than the ones that have been planned years in advance. Unfortunately, we have now reached an age where most of our friends have either tied the knot (in the last decade) or don’t fancy getting married, so we might not get invited to a wedding next year. But I am still hopeful, for one of those ‘popping up out of nowhere celebrations’.
This recent wedding was a lovely affair. No bell-bottomed wedding singer on a hammond organ, nor silly games or 250 drunk guests, but just a small and dignified group of people, small enough to get an opportunity to talk to everybody. I particularly loved the celebration, which clearly reflected the couple’s priorities in life: We spent five hours celebrating the marriage by eating divine food in a wonderful restaurant. This was totally up our street. Thank you again for inviting us! (I know you will be reading this… ).

Having had a good time in Germany we’re now back to everyday life. I have been working on my project in earnest for a couple of months now and I spend about 6 hours every day in the office (i.e. at the kitchen table with my macbook). I do this despite being prone to giving in to temptation (coffee morning? Shopping? Enjoying the lovely autumn weather? Cleaning windows?) and my advanced degree in procrastination. What keeps me working is a marvellous concept called ‘The pomodoro technique’. It’s a rather simple technique: You work for a 25-minute interval, then take a five minute break. (The five minute breaks are perfect for keeping on top of things in the house: hanging up washing, cleaning the toilet or making appointments). After working four of the 25-minute intervals, you take a longer break. This technique works wonders: You can easily sustain concentration and achieve results over the 25 minute interval (I sometimes log my progress), while the 5-minute break ensures that you don’t totally exhaust yourself mentally. I can now work a full day without feeling totally drained afterwards. If you are as challenged as me, try it, it’s magic.

I am going back to work now! My long break is up and the next 25-minute slot is waiting. I am working on a presentation right now, revisiting Emotional Intelligence. As part of my background research for this presentation, I watched an interesting presentation on empathy. It’s not rocket science, but it’s presented with passion and I think it just illustrates how much (or maybe how little) it really takes to see more than one side of a situation. I suppose what it boils down to is always awareness. So, if you’re interested in a quick 18-minute experiment, here’s the video:
TED talk by Sam Richards: a radical experiment in empathy

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