One Milestone down – 150 more to go!

October 29, 2010

Meet the BOOK!

Finally, things are falling into place. This week I received the first printed proof  copy and I couldn’t wait to open the package. What excitement it was to finally see the actual product, a bound book with all the words I once had in my head, aligned in sentences and paragraphs making up the pages, printed in black letters onto white paper. The actual book I am talking about over the last six years! The whole project began in 2004 with the first thoughts and actions. Six years ago! Extremely eventful and exciting six  years.

A lot has happened over the years where this book project has accompanied me along the way vividly engraved into my mind. I was carrying this mental image of a book around with me wherever I went. It was omnipresent. My mind was pre-occupied with it. I scribbled down good ideas and inspirations on napkins or scratch paper and collected all of these pieces of paper in a folder so I wouldn’t forget . To convert such a huge project from the mere mental picture it originally was into reality was an experience which taught me a lot. Not only the work of thinking, contemplating, researching, writing, and editing took a toll on my time management, social life, and (mental) health, but also the fact that I was bamboozled out of my initial (not little) investment, hiring  a supporting writer, did not lift my spirits. This incident was tragic and disappointing and did take the wind out of my sails for almost a year where my manuscript ended up in the desk drawer again. Some day in a spur- of-the moment  thing  I said to myself that I can’t allow crooks and  negative influences discourage me and re-vitalized my mental picture of the final product.  I took the manuscript out of the drawer again and continued writing. I made many friends along the way and I learned a lot about writing, grammar, editing, book structure, and especially the English language.

Now it is done! I hold the product in my hands and it feels like a ton has lifted off my shoulders. I am extremely happy with the outcome and proud of my accomplishment.  

I am glad I can share this with all the people I personally know and the people I still don’t know and yet have to meet. All the next steps are lined up and this stage is only the beginning of a grand journey.

You will be part of it.  The launch will be the next big thing and with it  the real excitement is just about to begin….


Taking a break this week

October 22, 2010

I have to skip this week. The publishing date is coming closer and there will be more changes to the Blog and everything else. Have to put some thought into the issues.   I will be back!

About crocodiles and facelifts!

October 15, 2010

No, I didn’t get a facelift, I strongly hope my current face will hold up for a couple more years, and I am against the killing of crocodiles to manufacture purses or belts….. nevertheless my Blog has undergone a facelift and at one point in my life I carried around  a baby crocodile in my purse ( not made of crocodile skin) .  

About the Blog – there will be more design changes coming up and updates in terms of the book publishing date etc. Stay tuned – it is just about to become exciting. Things are moving along nicely and I have to be prepared for the next steps.  My days are running along in the same format as described in last week’s blog post and again tomorrow, I am off to another audition!

In the meantime please read an excerpt from Chapter 19 “Tales of Mexico” of “To Drink the Wild Air” when we roamed around the Mexican jungle driving back on fire roads from the state of Chiapas to Mexico City in my pink Volkswagen.

On the ride back to Mexico City, we passed a kid by the side of the road selling an iguana. It was pretty common in the rural areas to sell exotic animals on the black market. We stopped to check it out, not that either of us was in the market for an iguana, and then we noticed it was actually a baby crocodile. The kid wanted fifty pesos (five dollars) for it. We bought it. Juan figured he could get perhaps as much as five hundred pesos (fifty dollars) for it back in the city. I understood his reasoning because that was a lot of money for him. However, we were not equipped to transport a 16-inch long crocodile, and the only suitable receptacle we had with us was my purse, which was rather some kind of a Mayan hand-woven shopping bag. My wallet and other important things had to move out and go elsewhere so the crocodile, with his snout taped to keep him from biting, could move in, and on we went. We stopped for the night and took a hotel room, where we let the little crocodile roam loose in the bathroom. Before we went out for dinner, we took the tape off his snout: It was too cruel.

The next day, a Sunday, we made it without any problems to Puebla when the car died again. Thank God, this was closer to general civilization, and we found a shop immediately. While waiting for the car we were lying in the grass right next to a little creek. Juan was playing with our exotic pet, having put it on a little leash and let it swim in the water. This must have stimulated its better nature, and suddenly there was this vicious reptile with an open mouth full of sharply pointed little teeth jumping vertically out the water, chasing Juan’s hand. Juan had damn good reflexes but was a nanosecond too slow when one of the razor-sharp teeth sliced open one of his fingers. After that, we both had a bit more respect for the little brute. Now we had to deal with a broken car, a crocodile in my purse, and Juan’s bleeding finger.

The mechanic didn’t have the part we needed in stock, and we would have to wait until Monday for the car to be fixed. We considered that we were at most a three-hour drive from Mexico City, and that Juan had to be back at work on Monday morning, so we opted to continue our journey by public bus. The crocodile was safely tucked into my purse, but both of us were far too scared to touch it again to put tape around his snout. I prayed it wouldn’t have another fit and chew its way out of the bag. My prayers were not heard. As we entered the already packed bus, I squeezed myself in between all the standing people to find a good spot to hold onto during the drive. At first, the crocodile was quiet and motionless, but then I felt a sudden movement. I ignored it, and a second later, it tried to escape with a big jump from my purse. Juan was not even close by my side so he couldn’t help, but other people noticed my commotion and a woman started to scream. She had seen the head of the croc peeking out of the bag. I tried to grab the animal’s tail and body from the outside of the bag and was lucky enough to have prevented the worst. I pulled it back down and was terrified at the thought that I had to restrain a pissed-off crocodile on a three-hour bus ride. I managed without any further hysterical outbreaks of either crocodile or fellow travelers and was relieved when I finally shoved it into the bathtub at home.

We bought some live mice to feed it, and I was actually scared of it by then. Juan eventually got rid of it before my landlady found out I had a live crocodile wandering around my bathroom.

Birds, Modeling, and a book reading…. an interesting day

October 8, 2010

I always was a high level multitasking individual. This is the exact reason why companies love me. Efficiency, speed, and getting a lot of stuff done within one workday are the pre-requisites to be a good employee. I don’t blame them at all. This is also my personal work culture. In my new life, I expect a lot from myself and I deliver. Most of the times I am satisfied with my results at the end of the day when reflecting back the same evening, sitting on my sofa with a glass of wine in my hand, utterly and rightfully exhausted. I definitely had an interesting day this week, when all elements of my “new” daily routine played a role during my productive 10 hours. Here it goes:

7 AM :        jumped out of bed

7.10 AM:   took care of 6 bird cages with 9 birds

  • Changed the newspaper at the bottom of the cage
  • Talking to my guests, playing with them
  • Cleaned out the food and water bowls
  • Preparing a number of fruit and vegetable Cocktails  


8.15 AM:  preparing my own breakfast – a power bar and a cup of hot tea

8.20 AM:  administration – checking E-mails, regular mail, starring in disbelief at another bill!  

9.00 AM:  getting ready for the scheduled audition for a print commercial I was invited to.

  • Taking a shower
  • Out of my Bird clothes ( Workout pants, T-shirt and sweater)  into business casual
  • Styling my hair, putting on make- up, jewelry and grabbing my portfolio.
  •  10.30AM:   leaving the house to arrive at the audition in time. Another stop at Starbucks. My first breakfast wasn’t enough

11.15 AM: found the location of the audition. Filled out paperwork, posed for the photo-shoot and left again.


 11.45 AM : found four Voicemails on my phone.  My friend Florence from Paris was in town. Took care of the logistics for the evening the same day – took two more bird bookings- returned several  calls from my  office on wheels (my car) .

 12 PM: connected this trip with stopping by at Target. My Vacuum cleaner (22 years old) blew up some time ago. A Bird Hotel without a vacuum cleaner – unheard off – impossible. Bought vacuum cleaner and a microwave (which I never had).

 1.30  PM: Arrived at home again. Changed back into bird care clothing, unpacked the microwave, assembled the vacuum cleaner, and cleaned the house, which was a mess, since the vacuum cleaner was out of order for several weeks.

 5.00 PM:  Exhausted from the house cleaning gig- still with the modeling make up in my face-I went on to do my second run of administration – checking E-mails. Received E-mail from the organizer of our writers group ”interested in reading tonight?” (at our monthly Literature meeting) . I replied with an immediate – YES. No reading material was prepared – checking the manuscript of  “ To Drink the Wild Air” for suitable material to present.

5.30 PM: read the material at home and had a late lunch simultaneously. Took care of some more phone calls.
6.00 PM: changed cloth again,  to go out to the monthly Literature event. Before leaving, I waited for another bird guest to arrive.

6.40 PM: new bird flew in, everything was settled, and I was ready to leave the clean house and happy guests.

7.00 PM:  met up with my friend Florence at the Café Royale in down town San Francisco.

8.00 PM:  the reading went well. It was fun and a good practice run   

9.15 PM: dinner with Florence in an Indonesian Restaurant, catching up   

10.30 PM: took Florence to her hotel and drove home.

10.45PM:  tucked in all my guests – said good night and went to bed myself!  

 Not one day is ever the same.   

Have you ever had a burn out syndrome?

October 1, 2010

It seems that my dedicated blog post day of Thursday silently faded into Friday….  it might go back to Thursday again,who knows.

Time itself is moving faster and faster but everything else moves a lot slower than I had anticipated originally and another delay is in sight for the book. September has passed and I just ripped off another page of my old fashioned wall calendar and now I am looking at the one representing October of 2010. The year just had started!! Yikes!    

Last week I was talking about compassion and the attempt to live every day like it would be my last. This is a stressful thing to do I realize, but it also can be rewarding.

And so it happened that I met a person the other day who is suffering from burn out syndrome the same way I did in 2007. Granted every person has a different experience but when I sat there looking for the right words to describe how I felt when I was in the darkness of a depression and  a mental break down, I also realized that now I know why I had to go through this experience. I guess there is no other reason then being able to help others. I never looked at it this way and ever since it all happened I asked myself “Why me?” and now three years later I got the answer.  I can relate! This is the secret to all compassion.

I was looking for the parts in the book where I tried to describe the feelings of being freaking lost in the world not knowing what will happen in the next minute, hour, week, or month just drifting along in utter confusion and awe observing what was happening to my body, mind and spirit.  

An excerpt from Chapter 24   “The crash” from “To Drink the Wild Air” about the observations when the brain stops working:    

My entire body started trembling, and moments later my hand was shaking so badly, I could no longer click the mouse button. I made myself a mere bystander to my own project presentation and lost interest in even attempting to appear competent, but was still able to manage the situation under immense constraints. An inner fog surrounded me and all the voices I heard seemed muffled; when I looked at my colleagues seated around the room, I only saw grimacing, scary clown faces. This was the very moment I lost the ability to purposefully control my body with my mind, and instead my body merely manifested whatever my burned-out brain was dictating. The meeting ended, but the trembling of my body continued. I had become trapped in all this turmoil and saw everything racing around me at dizzying speeds, in screaming colors and with a loud grinding noise.