Latest Posts

Coming soon: From Diagnosis to Surgery

Diagnosis to Surgery / being sick and getting treatment in America

First draft / Still to be edited

It’s about a year ago that our crazy journeys began. My first doctor’s appointment was in December, by January I was in ultrasound, by February in MRI, then waiting for surgery, getting mentally into the right space to build my courage and trust. April surgery, recovery slower than other people, sitting here and like you: when I see a ‘trigger object’ (which would be a peanut butter jar, a tin of beans, a big size container of vitamin C, or a large mango) I always thing my fibroid was bigger than that! My gosh. Of course it messed me up. How did I live so long with it? How wasn’t I diagnosed sooner! Wow. And than goodness for my NP, who took immediate action and my OBGYN and the ultrasound technician who spent an hour and a half picking me to get the best image and the MRI guys and the Radiologist who re-visited the MRI images and corrected a previous faulty reading of it, which could have lead to ineffective treatment decision, which would mean I would now still be dealing with the f!

Fallout from the previously erroneously interpreted MRI images. Had the Radiologist not noticed the error then I would have gotten the wrong treatment and that would be leaving me with facing two treatments and longer time of anxiety and I’ll health. Got so lucky! 🍀 

Am soooo grateful!

Tips for pet owners when hiring a pet sitter

I am working on a guide for pet owners to refer to before booking a petsitter. (Petsitters can use this guide to structure their questions, too)

Most important: Give clear instructions in print AND digital format, do NOT rely on spoken instructions (nor digital) alone. Ensure that both you and the sitter have a physical copy to refer to, this will be especially important in the case of a dispute. However MOST disputes won’t ever happen with clear instructions and very clear agreements in place BEFORE finalising a booking : 

1 – Provide the sitter with a full history of the pet.

Tell them if it’s a rescue animal or has any other trauma in it’s history or attachment issues, as it may affect the experience that the sitter has with your pet. We find that rescue pets can be more work to help them feel comfortable, which we don’t mind but appreciate knowing in advance as it helps us tend to the animal better.  

Not communicating an anxious pet’s history is unfair to the sitter and also doesn’t serve your pet as well as ensuring that your sitter is prepared. Keeping animal needs from the sitter can leave them with unexpected burden  i.e the animal may display nighttime crying and barking. Help your sitter find ways to calm the pet. If your pet needs nighttime cuddles, treats or other comforts, please ensure the sitter knows before they commit to their stay.

Please subscribe to my blog for the next items on this list of instructions for petsitters. I will add another couple of items to this list on this post on August 9th, by 7pm Pacific Time. (Apologies for posting 1/2 a post today, the clock is just about to strike midnight and tomorrow is a long day)

 

Become a petsitter: http://sit.rover.com/p2H3j
Hire a petsitter discount code: BIRGITANDJASON20
See our profile: https://www.rover.com/sit/birgit

Rover Petsitter throws puppy : my response

You may have heard the news (here and here) in the last couple of days that a sitter hired through Rover thew a puppy onto the ground.

My first reaction is the same as everybody else’s: This is terrible. The poor puppy! This is awful.

We all should stress the importance of the responsibility of pet owners AND pet sitters to carefully vet each other. Apps like Rover and Wag are here to help reduce the time it takes to find a sitter and streamline the process. Especially where the pet owners for any reason don’t know their neighbours well enough to request recommendations.

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Greeting card from Pankun the cat & Lila his cat sister. (We often create fun ‘greeting cards from the pets we sit, to send them to our petsitting clients via sms or WhatsApp or through the Rover app directly.)

I am not sure that the reporting of the incident was fair or balanced. It indicates that booking a petsitter through Rover is dangerous, when with the right approach it can be safer than hiring somebody who did not need to go through a background check.

I wrote the text below on my local nextdoor.com neighbourhood forum:

People please read reviews and use common sense when hiring a petsitter, irrespective of if your are hiring through Rover, Wag, nextdoor.com, Craigslist, or word of mouth. Interview and meet your sitters (meetings & interviews can take place over the phone/visa Skype or whatsapp chat and do ask for reviews or character references.)

I always stress that over-communication helps prevent a lot of disappointment or worse (nothing will guarantee 100% that your experience will be problem free). Our Rover listing is over-informative for this reason and we rarely accept clients who communicate in 1 sentence messages because it just isn’t enough to create trust between strangers.

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We have had many home-& petsitting clients in the Bay Area since 2014, through direct recommendations, Yahoo groups, Craigslist, Rover and I think not yet through nextdoor despite our occasional posting here.

I think Rover is as good a service as any gig economy app that makes ‘transactions’ quicker and less time consuming but ultimately we all have to continue to rely on our human instincts, too.

I am creating a list of questions to ensure a GOOD Petsitting experience for both  pet owner and petsitter: Tips for hiring a petsitter

{ LINK TO THE GUIDE }

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A final thought: I want to point out that had this happened with a private sitter, one who is not booked through Rover then we may never have heard about it. That this took place within the Rover platform community provides media with far more sensationalism value and makes it much more eye-catching for the media.

Trying out Trusted Housesitters for free accommodation

I recently signed up to Trusted Housesitters and the grand master plan is to first build my profile and make myself a desirable house sitter and then look out for long term housesits in places that I can focus on developing my business, use the time and space to up-skill, network or relax.

I am new to this but will share my progress and how it is going with you as soon as I am in full flow. If you, too, are excited about the idea of a free place to stay for a city trip, vacation, trip abroad or within your home country then maybe follow this link and sign up to Trusted Housesitters.

And don’t forget to read my tips and steps to follow to creating an amazing profile that will get you bookings. ( I better start writing it asap!)

You could use Trusted Housesitters to make travel more affordable & to take the pressure off paying rent while you bootstrap your business for a few weeks. And you could simultaneously sublet your place on Airbnb! Now we are talking not just savings but also profit.

update: August 9th

I was just a few hours ago offered a stay in a beautiful large home in Costa Rica. I am not sure yet if I will accept it. It’s not brilliant timing but the opportunity is just too sweet!

If you use my referral links: As a first time user of each platform you will save some money and simultaneously benefit me. Sharing links like this is called affiliate links. I get a bonus from the company that I share with you. I will only ever share a service / company that I use myself, benefit from and trust.

Becoming a paid petsitter / dog walker in San Francisco, California, USA.

How you can earn $500 (£300) while on vacation – no catch

.. to pay for your flight. (you can read my post or scroll straight to the bottom for the summary)

I have a rented apartment and when I go away for longer periods of time I rent 1/2 of my place out to a longterm lodger who is only in the country for a limited period of time, matching the duration of my absence. Right now I am subletting my place to somebody I found offline, and am using Airbnb as a booking agent to make sure that I get paid and that they & I have a bit of an insurance against things going wrong. This aids me build my reviews and simplifies the financial side: easily, allowing my lodger to use their credit card to make the rent payments, something that can make their life easier than trying to navigate making international bank transfers.

An additional tip is to use Trusted Housesitters to find a place for yourself to stay free of charge while on vacation. If you are able to match up the Airbnb rental & your housesit well, then you won’t pay for your accommodation on your vacation and depending on your rental agreement with your lodger you might make a small profit while subletting your home.

I personally choose to rent my place matching the cost of my actual rent for the space that I sublet, but if YOU feel that you offer good value then you may be able to sublet for a little more than the cost of your rent. I don’t think that this is too opportunistic as long as your place is nicer &/or cheaper than an equivalent stay at a hotel would be. Personally I feel better pricing my place on the lower end of the Airbnb market rate in my area. While I benefit from and need to earn some money I also feel better about myself if my pricing is fair and not exploitative.

If you are even smarter and able to tap into the potential of signing up as a PAID home- & petsitter then you can earn up to $500 – $1000 (£300 – £700) on a 4 week vacation, just by taking care of somebody else’s cat or dog!* For this I use online groups as well as Rover. I like using Rover as it offers some insurance for both the pet owner and me, the temporary petsitter.

Please look out for my article about how to build successful profiles that will help you get the bookings you want!

Becoming a paid petsitter / dog walker in San Francisco, California, USA.

Summary:

  1. Rent a part or all of your home while you are away, use a booking agent like Airbnb or check my upcoming post with a checklist before renting your home.
  2. Book a stay through Trusted Housesitters to save on hotel costs, use this link to set up your profile & check my post of Tips for how to create a winning profile that clients will want to book.
  3. Arrange a paid house- & petsitting stay through Facebook Groups, Yahoo groups or use a booking agent like Rover.com to create additional security & insurance to reduce the chances of something going wrong. Make sure to check my post of “Tips for how to create a winning profile that clients will want to book & pay you”.

* Assuming a weekly petsitting rate of $150 – $250 (£95 – £180), which I typically get paid for standard petsitting bookings. The rate of pay that you can achieve will depend on the location of both your home and the housesitting / petsitting home. Big cities like San Francisco and New York will likely have more and higher paying opportunities than small towns. But this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get started. You never know.

*If you use my referral links: As a first time user of some of the platforms you will save some money and simultaneously benefit me. Sharing links like this is called affiliate links. I get a bonus from the company that I share with you. I will only ever share a service / company that I use myself, benefit from and trust.

Wearing face masks to protect against the heavy smog air in Chiang Mai Thailand.

Surviving the Chiang Mai Air Pollution

Basically the best action is to leave town and return once the burning season is over. That is probably not what you came here to read so I have a few tips that will help but they won’t keep you as safe as leaving the area will.

• We brought with us a multipack of high quality N95 rated face masks from our home country.
• We went to Tesco and purchased several packs of M3 Filtrete filters & followed this youtube vide to install them in our rented room AC unit.

• Wear the face masks religiously

• Looked around for an air purifier but they were outside our budget, in hindsight we should have ignored the budget, respiratory diseases are no laughing matter..

• Keeping doors and windows firmly shut, wiping the floor with a wet towel regularly, placing a wet towels at the door to block the polluted air flow into the room, rinsing in the shower frequently as we bring in pollution on our clothing and body.

That’s all I have for now, do you have any additional tips?

Places to look for N95 rated face masks: Pharmacies, Tesco, M3 shop on Wulai Road

Places to look for air purifiers: Siam TV, Power Buy, Home Depot style store next to Airport Plaza (unmissable, they kind of share a huge open air car park). You can try Big C and Tesco but I didn’t find anything promising in Tesco and hence didn’t take the trip to Big C.

Last but not least:

You will find EVERYTHING on Lazada, you may need a Thai person to help you place an order. There is a good chance that masks and air purifiers will be out of stock for the next couple of weeks. In fact we tried ordering an air purifier a few days ago and it would take 2 weeks to get it delivered. Lazada is a site similar to Amazon and you’ll find just about anything you may need on there. Keep an eye on shipping times. I selected ‘Local’ for the product location to have a better chance of keeping shipping times low.

Here is a link straight to HEPA Air Purifiers: www.lazada.co.th It could be that at some point in the future the link won’t work perfectly but as of March 30th 2019 it works.

PLAN AHEAD! Your lungs are kind of essential and the pm 2.5 particles enter your blood stream and do NOT ever leave it again. 

Breakfast in Chiang Mai – a growing list of where to get breakfast

In short:

Blue Diamond, 7am – 8.30pm (Closed Sunday)

Bird Nest cafe 8.30am – 6pm (closed Tuesdays)

Kanya Vegetarian Restaurant 7am – afternoon

Pun Pun, 9am – 4pm

• Thanin Market (Siri Wattana market), 6am – 8pm

Imm Aim 10am – 8pm

Now are you ready for the pictures and the longer version? I am. This part will take me a moment longer than the list above but I thought I share the list with you, hit google maps and it will take you right to my recommendations. I do have things to say about each of the places that I listed and that will be worth returning to this same URL address for. Please come back for the metaphorical meat on the bone that is going to be a short article on food in Chiang Mai. Helping you find safe to eat foods, healthy foods and distinguish some to be a little cautious of.

I will be back in the next couple of days. You can spur me on by leaving a friendly comment or just hitting all the like buttons that you can find, in case you are feeling economical with friendly comments.

 

From My Daily Journal

Hey kids, I have decided that it is time that I just share a few thoughts with you more often, it is too quiet here on this Blog!

First news: I am in Thailand.

Second news: The air is awfully polluted in Chiang Mai, which is where I am. And I am mainly stuck indoors to avoid the pollution. It’s not just a little bit, the air is currently qualified as hazardous. Maybe we should leave?

Third news: I am going to take Thai Language lessons on italki! Do you know about this platform? It’s a language learning website that hosts language teachers, trained & untrained community teachers, from around the world. I have booked lessons with 2 teachers and am going to try out another 5 that I have bookmarked. I’ll write more about my experience after the first lessons. For now here is a link so you can check it out yourself, in case you are curious.

 (Italki a website for language learning.)

Now it is 9:30am and I have been waiting for Jason to wake up for the last 2 hours. It’s time to put our breathing masks on and take a scooter ride to the organic JJ Market.. The irony: we are risking the hazardous air to go get healthy food..

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And here he is with a drawing that he commissioned an Artist to make of us last week at JJ market.

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The main reason that we need to get to the market today is that I need to get a few provisions that are otherwise not easily available in Chiang Mai (at least not all in one place as JJ Market offers) as I am avoiding MSG because I had a health scare related to it the other day, we ended up in hospital, but in the end all was ok and I worked out that it is the MSG causing the warming symptoms. As soon as I stopped eating food with MSG the symptoms cleared within 24 hours.

But more about all of that later.. It’s time to get ready and get out there before the best stuff is sold! They have been open for 3 hours already! (But my excuse is also that the air pollution is worst in the mornings, so I let J sleep in, while I am getting on it with this blog post & a job application, too….. More story than time..)

Our side hustle & extra income (petsitting)

I can’t write much right now but let me try and briefly sum up this easy side-hustle, that helped me out financially, in a nutshell:

In 2018 we earned about $2500 just with occasional petsitting & pet visiting. We hardly do any dog walking, but I occasionally say yes to a dog walk, after all, that’s a way to stay fit and healthy! Doesn’t that sound like an awesome way to buffer one’s finances? This is something that fits alongside an existing job, maybe to help you save some money for a need or a want or to take control of life and pay down some debts.

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If you would like to sign up and start a profile on the booking site that I use then below is the link where you can sign up. I get a small perk for your signing up, but it doesn’t cost you anything at all, instead I am here to guide you to a little bit of extra financial security!

If you want to become a petsitter and get paid to share some love with dogs and cats then please use our link: http://sit.rover.com/p2H3j

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Articles coming soon:

• How to put together a strong profile that will get you hired on Rover.

• How to stand out from the other sitters. How to adjust your settings to get the clients that you want. How to pick good clients, and more!

If you use this link to sign up to Rover and hire a Rover sitter then I have a brilliant bonus perk for you! You can use this code: BIRGITANDJASON20 to get $20 off your first booking! That’s amazing isn’t it!?

Project German – American Citizenship / Projekt Deutsch – Amerikanische Staatsangehörigkeit

Ahoi, ich bin die Birgit und ich lebe zweisprachig.

Hey, my name is Birgit and I live a bilingual life.

Ich wohne zur Zeit in Amerika aber fühle mich gleichzeitig Deutsch, das wird sich niemals ändern. Dennoch habe ich durch meine Beziehung auch eine starke Verbindung zu den Staaten.

I currently live in America but I simultaneously identity as German and that won’t ever change. However through my relationship I have developed an important bond with the States.

 

Das Jahr eilt jetzt schon wieder so schnell voran. Es ist Mitte Februar und die Winterzeit sollte sich ja eigentlich super dazu eignen endlich wichtige Bürokratien in Angriff zu nehmen, aber irgendwie liegt noch immer alles unbearbeitet auf dem Tisch.

The year is flying by faster than I can keep up with, a blink of an eye ago it was the beginning of January and now we are already passing the mid-February mark. You would think that winter is an excellent time to tackle important bureaucratic paperwork but somehow it remains untouched on the table.

Die Bürokratie, die ich einfach nicht schaffe in Angriff zu nehmen ist die allerwichtigste überhaupt! Ich möchte mich für die Erlaubnis bewerben meine Deutsche Staatsbürgerschaft zu behalten und gleichzeitig die Amerikanische zu beantragen.

The bureaucracy that I have just not managed to tackle is by far the most important one in my life. I am going to apply for permission to keep my German citizenship while applying for American naturalisation.

Das bedeutet, daß ich zwei Pässe haben werde, wenn alles gut geht und mir Deutschland diese Freiheit erlauben wird..

That means that I would have two passports, if all goes well and Germany permits me this freedom.

Daher habe ich mich entschieden hier und jetzt in’s tiefe Ende des Beckens zu springen. Sagt man das überhaupt so? Ich bin schon lange aus Deutschland weg und manchmal erfinde ich ganz neue Wege etwas auszudrücken. Das sah ich vor langer Zeit einmal als Schwäche derer die in Deutschland Ausländer sind. Heute finde ich es lyrisch und interessant. Jedenfalls hier mein Projekt: Ich werde den Prozess öffentlich mit Euch teilen.

Therefor I am going to take the plunge, I am going to share my process and progress (and lack thereof) publicly with you! This is step one. Acknowledging my slowness and formidable procrastination skills.

Falls irgendjemand dies hier liest, dann würde ich mich wirklich so sehr über Eure Unterstützung freuen. Könnte Ihr mir über die Kommentare schreiben, ein kurzes hallo und vielleicht stellt Ihr Euch kurz vor? Geht es Euch auch so, daß Ihr zwischen zwei Ländern lebt und Ihr nach einem Weg sucht Eure Zukunft abzusichern? Es muß auch garnicht Amerika sein.

If anybody is reading this at all, please let me know in the comments, maybe you could say a quick hello and introduce yourself. Are you perhaps in a similar situation, between two countries and looking at ways to secure your future? or send any sign of life via the comments form, and support is so very much appreciated. Because this is a daunting journey to me. Brrr. All hands on deck.

Die Übersetzungen hier sind nicht Wort für Wort und weichen ganz leicht auch ab und an vom Sinn ab. Ich schreibe wie ich gerade denke und das ist jeweils auf Englisch und auf Deutsch etwas anders.

The translations here are not absolutely exact, and the individual paragraph meaning can vary a little, it is all depending on what thoughts come to mind as I type. And what I think and how I think changes a little depending on which of my two languages I think and write in.

Anyhow. I would appreciate your support so much. If you would like to help me find my way you can click like, leave a comment, send a good karma point. It’s free and quick and makes the world of difference.

Wie beantragt man die Beibehaltungsgenehmigung wenn man schon recht lange nichtmehr in Deutschland wohnt und nur noch eine ganz kleine Familie und wenige Freunde hat?

How to apply for permission to keep my German passport when applying for American citizenship, too.

What I am loving in October

I used to write journals all the time and I recently noticed how the absence of journalling left me with a scrambled brain that is trying to hold way too many thoughts, emotions, information, strategies and more.. I have toyed with the idea of trying out a bullet journal for years, pretty much since they first became ‘famous’. So I am finally going to jump on the bandwagon with all you out there for whom this is old news and are already doing it. I followed this video and started my first bullet journal and even so it’s only been a few days my brain is already relaxing, little by little, as I transfer my brain overflow back onto analogue paper. ahhhhh, relief.

It was actually Sorelle who reminded me of bullet journals. When even this digital content creating nomad dedicated a whole video to bullet journaling I didn’t even watch it to the end before starting mine. (I finished Sorelle’s video once I’d gotten my journal started.) Sorelle is a fun, upbeat Youtube Content Creator, creating positive tips for photography and life hacking. (Excuse me, I just used life-hacking….I am not sure I like that term, but let’s leave it here as I am typing between other tasks and maybe it’s not that offensive a term to you anyway.)

This is just such an inspiringly creative music video. I couldn’t look away, and once again regret not having learned French.

On another note, a more self improvement, life optimising one: these two videos below really helped me see the world a little bit differently this month. Don’t judge them before watching. I think both contain valuable insights into our human struggles and how to be more in control of our life.

This 5 second rule has really helped me this month, I had a few days on which I felt like a low, sloth like, slumping, gloopy thing and focusing on Mel Robinson’s 5 second rule actually helped. Really. Of course it won’t fix chronically depression, but pause a moment (!) I do believe it can help. Because even when in a slump sometimes we have the ability to override the brain and just do something. Little things are more than no things. Run with that when life seems too hard to anything at all. If your accomplishment is to do the dishes and clear the table then that’s a great start.
Maybe you are a step ahead and your accomplishment is to grab the keys and go out for a 10 minute walk despite the unwashed hair (or maybe you washed your hair first as well, wow, double score!).. Or if things are even better you put all digital distraction at arm’s length (out of reach) and sat down to write the Epic list of all things that need or want to be done this month! That’s amazing. And now you can use the 5 second rule and every time you do start one of those epic list items!
Tidy those bills, arrange them in chronological order, tackle the topmost one. Make a call.. Do that stuff. Do the coursework, one task at a time.

OOPS, that got out of hand fast. Well, as you can tell, I am a fan of the 5 second rule as well as of the bullet journal. What life changing stuff in such small steps.

What I loved in September

1
Because laughing is medicinal:

I came across this on one of the last days of September, it is a little corny but I was just reminiscing about the Acupuncturist who gave me my first series of Acupuncture treatments and was able to affect me so much, at a time when I felt needles couldn’t possibly make a difference to my situation. I often think back to that time and recall our conversations. As I recalled the troubles that caused my emotions and equilibrium to flutter he would always say “Sit with it.”

That advice, as simple as it sounds, was always the hardest to follow. But he was always so right! As I am now facing a whole shopping list of troubles I wish I could revisit those acupuncture appointments, those conversations that would always end with the same advice, always being good advice: “Sit with it.”

2 “I have a problem” … “Sit with It.”

I am actually receiving acupuncture from a highly qualified Chinese Medicine doctor, and have been since the first month of the year. His work has been astonishing, but he never listens and then tells me “Sit with it.” So now I need to remind myself to reign in my emotions, my life flutters, and be still, allowing it all to be and stop trying to fix it. It appears unfixable, it has to fix itself. Life, time, health.. (Yes, I know I have power to influence change, but I also know that too much trying affects the outcome negatively. Some peace, acceptance and stillness is needed.)

I will later (maybe today, maybe in a few days) add a few other items to this ‘favourite things in September’ post, unless I forget, which might happen.

3 Work Life Balance is serious business.

This video by Matti Haapoja might at first glance not exactly relate to me or to you but then again I think it does. I seem to lack an ‘off’ button, I am always worrying, nonstop, always trying to better myself, and if I am not actively ‘doing’I am engaged in telling myself off for lack of ‘doing’. In effect I never have time off. Always trying, hustling, planning, solving & preempting problems.

4 Learning from other people’s experiences:

Most of these 29 tips that Sorelle gives are relevant to most people. And if not to you then to somebody you know. Simple life insights, worth taking note of.

I realise this is a little unusual for me to reference Youtubers who are younger than I and are kind of in the business of ‘lifestyle’. But wisdom and meaning can be found everywhere, it doesn’t matter if they re 10 years younger or older than I am.

5 More humorous medicinal content:
And because Ylvis made me laugh SO much, here is a second video by the Norwegian brothers.

6 Keeping Age at Bay: 
I seem to be at the age where I just ‘by chance’ find content like this: Face Yoga..

7 Learning about Passive Income is never wrong! 
I might take Roberto Blake with a pinch of salt, BUT there is value in his videos, of course you will still have to take action, but he is good at inspiring and helping along on the journey to independent income alongside or entirely without a traditional job. But it’s work, don’t be mistaken to think that there are any quick shortcuts.

(NONE of the links on this post are affiliate marketing by the way, I am just sharing my September favourites with you. Let me know if one or some of these resonated with you, too.)