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For my birthday I would like you to save money

Instead of receiving gifts and cards I would like you to use my referral link to sign up to Transferwise

so that at any time in the near or distant future you will save a generous amount of fees compared to using traditional banks to send money within the US or between countries from wherever in the world you are. Using Transferwise saves a lot compared to using Paypal. You can use it to send money or open a borderless bank account and receive payment to it.

It’s as simple as it sounds, or even more simple. As a birthday gift to me but also to you I would like you to sign up to Transferwise with my link https://bit.ly/2BYvvYv, especially if you get paid in USD but live in another country and are currently losing money on exchanging your USD into your own currency.

I recently came across a post of a Digital Nomad Facebook group member asking how a person based in South America can get paid in USD. The group members offered a lot of different answers but the simplest and most money saving one of them all was Transferwise. You can open a USD currency account with Transferwise even if you are not based in America. It’s worth exploring.

  • You can register with your home address.
  • For example if you are based in the EU, then this is your primary location and you first open your Transferwise borderless account with your EU address.
  • Then once this is all set up you can add a UK and US account, able to receive and hold £ and $.
  • Each account will have its own account numbers that are fully functioning and you can receive payment into your Transferwise account just like as if it was a traditional bank.
  • Please let me know in the comments if you are having troubles setting this up and I’ll try to help you out..

45 for 45 project

This is my proposal: I hope you are going to enjoy helping me celebrate my 45th birthday by being one of my 45 strangers who’ll take a joyful leap to celebrate this next big chapter in my life.

I am challenging myself to approach 45 people I don’t know to ask them to be participants in a whimsical photo project. I am hoping that a little bonus gift to myself will be that I will grow more confident in approaching strangers.

I will share the photos, possibly unedited, on my instagram page @BirgitDeubner (please leave a friendly comment there & share your photo)

If you (stranger participant) would like a free digital copy of your photo then the best way is this:

  • Leave a comment on my instagram page under your photo &
  • THEN send me your contact details in a direct message on instagram so that I know how to get the photo to you
  • (OR if you don’t have instagram you can reach out to me via the contact form here on my website.)

(Ways to receive your photo: email, WhatsApp, FB messenger and apple messages are the best options. I do NOT send sms text messages I don’t have a data plan on my phone. I only make calls using wifi. This also saves me in the region of $400-$1000 per year on cellphone fees. I recommend it.)

I had an illustration made on fiverr- and it’s so cute

I just got this little illustration made of Jason & our favourite Chihuahua. The illustrator also creates works in more pastel & girl colours. I absolutely recommend commissioning an illustration if you want to surprise somebody. The turnaround time on my order was less than a day. I am so amazed.

  • You can use my link to get 20% off your first order. I didn’t have a discount code when I placed my first order and 100% think it was worth paying full price.: https://bit.ly/2AhLcZf
Illustration, line drawing of Jason holding Fig the Chihuahua
Jason with Fig the Chihuahua

I paid $12/£10 and think that’s such a bargain. You could print your own greeting cards from your illustration, send virtual greetings to family you can’t see right now or use it for your website/social media etc. Why didn’t I do this sooner?

  • AFTER using my 20% discount link above: You can come back to click on this link to find the illustrator who created this first illustration: https://bit.ly/36B7i55

(prices vary depending on how many figures are in the image, how many colours, etc. For 1 figure it is actually JUST $7 total – at time of sharing.)

It’s so easy to place an order. I was nervous and put it off for ages, but then all it took was just 1 good photo + basic instructions. 

(I included a 2nd photo but made sure that I renamed the files to DRAW THIS ONE & REFERENCE ONLY. I don’t think he needed the second photo.)

These were my instructions: 

  • “I would like a line art drawing of Jason & the Chihuahua. You can EXCLUDE the mask if that is possible. (I am including a second photo of the Chihuahua in case it is helpful for drawing her.) Let me know if you have any questions. “

For some reason I didn’t but I could have specified colours as well. The next time I might do it like this: 

  • “If you are using colours for the illustration, please use happy pastel colours.”

That’s it. 


Dog emotion and Cognition

Today I found out about a 7 week course that starts today, on April 14th 2020, on the evolution of dog emotions and cognition and I think you may be able to take it for free, as long as the course material is released all at once, rather than spaced out over weeks, which they often do.)

I copied the course’s syllabus below for you:

“Dog Emotion and Cognition will introduce you to the exciting new study of dog psychology, what the latest discoveries tell us about how dogs think and feel about us, and how we can use this new knowledge to further strengthen our relationship with our best friends.”

https://www.coursera.org/learn/dog-emotion-and-cognition?

Syllabus

  1. Course information: “Dog Emotion and Cognition is a course designed to introduce the exciting new science of dog psychology to any level of dog enthusiast. In learning about dogs you will be introduced to evolutionary and cognitive theory, learn about experimental methodology, see how dogs compare to other species, and even have the chance to try some of the cognitive games you learn about with your own dog. The course is a great introduction to the field of animal cognition and animal behavior but is also relevant to anyone interested in human evolution or even dog training. When you finish you will think about your dog in a new way, will be ready to apply your new knowledge, and will be prepared to take higher level classes in the evolutionary or cognitive sciences. “

2. The Paradox of a Best Friend That Evolved From Our Worst Enemy: This module will provide an introduction to cognitive psychology and evolution, while having direct application to your dog. At the beginning of each lecture, Dr. Hare will suggest an optional reading from his book The Genius of Dogs, as well as free Dognition games to play at http://www.dognition.com/mooc. Dr. Hare discusses how our evolutionary relationship with dogs is a puzzle. He describes the meaning of cognition and what it looks like with modern research on animals. Last, he discusses what Dognition is and how can be used like a laboratory for the class. 

3. How Biology Studies Cognitive Evolution: In this module, Dr. Hare describes how the internal processes of the mind are studied through experiments. He explains how animal problem solving is best explained as scientists work toward better understanding the topic. Next, he describes the ecological approach to cognition through an evolutionary lens, which involves Tinbergen’s four levels of analysis. 

4. Dogs Are Cognitively Remarkable: In this module, Dr. Hare describes how dogs are cognitively remarkable. He begins by explaining theory of mind, which, when viewed through the ecological approach, suggests that social problem solving drove primate and human cognitive evolution. Next, he describes how good dogs are at understanding communicative intentions, especially compared to apes. Dr. Hare has three hypotheses to explain the remarkable communication found in domestic dogs. 

5. Evolutionary Accidents and Survival of the Friendliest: In this module, Dr. Hare explores three of his research studies he’s done with foxes, New Guinea Singing Dogs, as well as research on wolves. He describes how early dog-wolves may actually be a product of natural selection rather than artificial selection, contrary to popular belief. He introduces a hypothesis called Survival of the Friendliest, which may explain how dogs, bonobos, and modern species evolved in contrast to close relatives, such as wolves and chimpanzees. Last, he relates the high level of social tolerance of these species to human by looking at human self-domestication. 

6. Problems That Dogs Can and Cannot Solve: In this module, you will learn about the genius of dogs. Brilliant examples of the canine mind will be explored. Dogs seem to be capable of inferential reasoning using the “principle of exclusion” as well as learning new words by imitating humans. Next, Dr. Hare discusses dog’s abilities to understand physical problem solving compared to other species (hint, this isn’t most dog’s strong suit). Last, he will discuss how dogs are not cooperative breeders, do have a relaxed social system, and are excellent hunting companions for humans. 

7. Finding Your Dog’s Genius: In this module, Dr. Hare will discuss the common myths of breed differences and what research (including citizen science Dognition data) has actually been done to understand potential differences between breeds. You will also listen to Dr. Hare debunk “aggressive dog breed” stereotypes by learning about the literature and studies that have been done on dog aggression. He poses an interesting question about the actual culprit for the dog aggression problem, which is not even a dog! Next, he will explain how important understanding dog cognition is to training strategies. Dr. Hare will discuss how, unfortunately, not all cultures love dogs, and some see them as food and pests. He suggests ways that humans can live with dogs for mutual benefit. Taking all that you’ve learned into account, Dr. Hare then discusses how Dognition is revolutionizing what we know about dogs and how beneficial it could be to your relationship with your dog as well as for science! 

8. Final Exam: The final exam covering topics from all modules.

https://www.coursera.org/learn/dog-emotion-and-cognition?#syllabus


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How I accept payment around the world – as a self-employed freelancer.

Save money on sending or receiving money internationally (USA, UK, Europe, Japan and more).

I think almost everybody will nowadays have a Paypal account (if you don’t have one I still recommend that you get one as it opens so many side income possibilities that otherwise either remain closed or take longer to get paid for, and in some cases it can cost more money to get paid outside of Paypal.)

But moving on from Paypal for now I wonder who here reading this has opened a Transferwise, borderless account? Transferwise is a really great alternative to Paypal, depending of course what you use Paypal for. The company started in the UK, founded by two friends who wanted to create a cheaper way to send money back to Eastern Europe. At first I was quite sceptical if it is safe and spent hours googling the company and verifying that I wouldn’t be falling for an expensive hoax or scam.

The first time that I saw how much using Transferwise can save somebody was when my Spanish friend was about to return to Spain. She was in the process of closing her UK bank account and had just started a standard bank transfer between her two accounts. She must not have paid close attention to the fees before going ahead with the bank transfer and as she hit send she realised just how much money she lost in the transaction. Luckily she was able to cancel the process and reverse the charges. Next she tried Transferwise and it saved her hundreds.

I since compared Transferwise rates with the cost of sending and receiving money via Paypal and as much as I am a longtime lover of Paypal for convenience, Transferwise wins hands down and saves significant money compared to any other service that I know of.

This picture is a clickable link to Transferwise whom I recommend.

I am currently waiting to interview for a job with an Advertising company in Vienna, Austria and if I end up taking the job I will request payments through Transferwise. An additional appeal of Transferwise is that I can just hold my money in the account in the currency of origin without exchanging it for the currency of where I currently am (in my case that is America) and instead I am planning on leaving the money sitting in my Transferwise borderless account until I visit my friends and family in Germany when I’ll draw the money at a cash machine using my Transferwise debit card.

Even if I won’t draw the money out of the account in person I can choose to not exchange the Euro until I see a favourable exchange rate. I haven’t checked but I am quite sure with Coronavirus the rates are fluctuating a lot, having this borderless account will allow me to bide my time and wait for a good moment to exchange and transfer to my account in the USA or my account in the UK.

I still live between both countries but that is a story for another time.

If you think you might like to explore Transferwise’s borderless account or just use it to send money from one country to another then please use my link. I sincerely recommend them and personally have found the team at Transferwise responsive and helpful when I first opened my borderless account.

By using my link you will get your first money transfer fee free (up to £500, it may be a different number in USD, EURO, Japanese Yen etc.) I will receive a small financial perk ONLY after you have used your account to transfer and save money. The perk that I will receive comes at NO cost to you in any way but will aid me in living my life and writing future helpful recommendations.

I only recommend services and companies whom I genuinely feel strongly that they serve a positive purpose or function and if in doing so I can benefit by gaining a commission then I think that is a wonderful bonus and reward for taking the time to tell you what helped me in no small measure.

Do you have any questions?
Please use my link to sign up, ideally right away and when you first use Transferwise to send / receive money please get back to me and let me know how much it saved you. I would love to hear.

this image is here because I am probably going to use it to link this article to Pinterest, and a simple graphic might be better than just a photo of myself with a Chihuahua. I don’t know. What do you think?

My Daily Corona Goals

In the last 3 weeks I have gone through the stages of ultra pragmatism, preparation, anxiety, stress, mild manic and to be honest all those emotions and more continue to take it in turns cycling through me. But last night I thought about how time is precious, there is no knowing how this will all turn out but in the meantime I can take a little more control over what is here within my reach right now.

So here I present my first of my Daily Corona Goals. I am really just playing around but I do want to use my days better and I want to learn to be a better graphic designer (I am not a graphic designer, but I need to work on this skill for our business purposes & my digital media offering services anyway, now is a great time.)

Recommendations

Websites that I use regularly and who offer discounts and affiliate rewards

Some Companies give their users a reward when they share their experience and links to the the company signup or purchase options with their friends and network. You can read more if your scroll below the list of my affiliate links.

But before you go, I want you to know that I ONLY share what I have experience with and would recommend to you without a reward, too.

  • Rover You save $20 off your first booking (use this link within 10-14 days of intending to use it) and
  • Trustedhousesitters You get 25% off your first year membership price and I get a free month, maybe 2 when you sign up.
  • Thredup : Second hand clothing shop. Huge selection. I bought most of my clothes there in 2019 and 2020. I receive $5-$10. You receive up to 50% of your first order if you sign up and make a purchase within about 14 days. (I need to check time frames)
  • Skillshare: An online learning platform for creative and entrepreneurial skills for a flat annual fee. With my link you will get 2 free months of use of Skillshare. You do have to give them your payment details before you can trial the service BUT you can cancel and not pay anything when your trial period is over. I personally LOVE Skillshare. So I have a subscription.
  • Transferwise It really is the BEST for sending money abroad. I once wrote them a personal love letter. I am not joking. They are cheaper than bank fees and when you transfer more than ~$100 you will save compared to using Paypal. Anything over $200 you would be mad to use Paypal, sorry Paypal. Transferwise has saved Jason and I a lot of money over the last 5 years. Recommended.
  • Audible: I will soon share a link to this as March and April 2020 look like great months for learning things.
  • Airbnb You get up to £34 off your first booking. After using this link to sign up you have 30 days before this offer expires, so use the link close to your planned trip. I get £15 if you book a stay and £8 if you try Airbnb experiences. I have been an Airbnb host since their first year in business. I have nothing but good experiences.
  • Couchsurfing, they don’t pay me anything but I still recommend it. Ask me Q’s if you have any. This is my profile there: https://www.couchsurfing.com/people/across7seas
  • Dropbox: We will both get an additional 500MB free storage if you use my Dropbox referral link and add files to your Dropbox. Dropbox has been my storage space of choice for over a decade. I recommend it.
  • Kit.co I list everything I use, try, enjoy here it is a website called KIT & if you use any of my listings to make an order I will get a tiny percentage without this costing you anything extra. If nothing else it is a good list of products that I personally use and recommend with or without being rewarded for it.

For example Rover, Jason and I sometimes look after other people’s homes and pets for payment. We find between 50-75% of our clients through Rover. When we get booked to housesit and look after somebody’s animals we get paid. If we share the link to the website with you and you hire a petsitter or sign up to become a petsitter within 14-30 days of clicking on the link we receive a small commission. We shared something that benefits us with you, so it may benefit you, too and as an extra bonus we also get a small reward. Some give out a few dollar, some give me an additional free month of membership.

I thought I make a list of all the companies that give a reward for the referring person (i.e. myself, Birgit) when somebody uses my links to sign up and become an ACTIVE user / customer. If you decide to use any of my links then please let me know how your experience with these companies is. I am happy to coach you to creating your profiles or how to use the service I am recommending. I am ONLY sharing websites, companies, services, products on this post that I have myself tried and use regularly. (Or would use more regularly if I had more time.)

We got our first housesitting cancellation because of Covid-19

We just got our first booking through Trustedhousesitters. Hurrah.

Within hours of our plans being all set we received a cancellation due to the home owner’s out of town plans being cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. Our Trusted Housesitters client of course no longer needs to travel.

This isn’t a big issue for us as we aren’t travelling and are only on the platform to build our Trustedhousesitters reviews from our home base for future travel plans on the horizon. Usually we only petsit for payment. I could imagine it would potentially be much more difficult for people who were firmly committed with long distance travel plans.

As I started typing this post we also heard from 2 of our regular paying clients that they are cancelling their travel plans for April and the foreseeable future. For us this now means losing out on our side-income that we luckily are not relying on. The situation is starting to become a bigger deal than expected.

It made me think about how many people’s plans for income and travel around the world are now up in the air, how many more expenses may be incurred by sitters and hosts as sitters might cancel and leave hosts without somebody to care for their pet, and hosts might cancel and leave sitters without a place to stay. This is going to be quite a stressful time for a lot of people.

What to do? There isn’t a whole lot that we can do but I would suggest to lead with strong communication:

  • Get in touch with your host / sitter and check in with them, are their plans looking stable?
  • Try to come to an agreement around what would happen if they cancelled, do they have an in-law unit you could stay for a specified period of time while you figure out what to do? / Try to not leave your sitter stranded, they spent a lot of money to reach your home and made a commitment to your home- and pet care.
  • Simultaneously make a backup plan just in case something changes last minute with your booking. You should always do this as unforeseen circumstances do happen.

Backup Plan tips:

  • As a host: Find a pet boarding place for your worst case scenario.
  • As a sitter: make sure to bring your credit cards as you might end up needing them to pay for alternative hostel or hotel accommodation (which may also be restricted) as you navigate unforeseeable situations.

The Coronavirus outbreak may cost a lot of us a loss in earnings, some discomforts and additional expenses (I bet the sale of vitamins is through the roof; put that on my list, Vitamin C.). There isn’t a whole lot that we can do about it, except keep calm, communicate with our sitters and pet owners and housesitting hosts with compassion and understanding and brace ourselves for some inconveniences.

We are still busy doing our accounting for 2019 so we can file our taxes and get back onto a health insurance plan to cover us for all eventualities in the coming weeks, probably months. Make sure your medical plans and payments are up to date. I hope that the global health situation will very soon begin to calm down, that medical experts and strategical teams work out the best ways to safeguard us all so that the steep spike in infections can be curbed and everybody who does need medical care can access it. I also wish for America that healthcare facilities will operate at cost rather than for profit. I know this won’t ever happen. But we can dream.

Where are you? Have your plans been affected by this global health threat?

Let me know in if you lost your housesitting booking or if a sitter cancelled on you. Did you get enough notice or are you now stuck? (If you read this in the future: I would still like to hear how this affected you.)


If you would like to save 25% on a membership with Trustedhousesitters please use this link: https://bit.ly/2WNqRnd *

If you want to get paid to petsit then you can use this link to sign up as a sitter on Rover OR as a pet owner you will save $20 on your first booking. **

I would love to hear from you. What were your petsitting-housesitting experiences during Covid-19?

*I will receive an additional month for everybody who signs up using my link. You save money by using my link.

**I only receive an affiliate perk if you complete a booking within a few weeks of using my Rover link, if you take longer then you still benefit but I’ll not get a perk. That’s ok, too.

Coronavirus affects Trusted Housesitters – and Local petsitters on ROVER

In today’s post:

CORONA VIRUS, PETSITTING CONTRACTS & A LOT OF QUESTIONS

At the time of writing it is March 10th and news of Corona Virus affecting every walk of life are becoming more frequent. People working from home, will need less dog walking services but maybe more food delivery services. Dogwalkers & Doggy Day care facilities will lose income, maybe some will close down, depending on how long this situation stays. To me it is looking like this is just the beginning and a lot of people will be affected for quite some time to come.

How will house- and petsitters be affected by the Corona Virus?

I imagine we will soon hear about the first short notice cancellations of sitters and/or homeowners, as people may choose to not travel to limit their exposure to possible infection or simply to mitigate the effects of a ‘just in case’ scenario. We would probably all prefer to be sick at home in our usual environment than in a faraway city or country, especially while so much is still unknown about the progression of catching and the manifestation of the CoVid-19. Wash your hands people!

Let’s get to the points or rather questions that this brings up for me:

Have you got any, and if so what kind of, insurance policies that you have put in place, atop before the time of booking your pet sit? In the case of housesitters through Trustedhousesitters, who often travel abroad for their housesitting / petsitting bookings: Do you have a contingency plan? Is your flight refundable? Do you have money in your budget to cover the cost of staying at a hostel or hotel instead of the free accommodation that you were expecting? For all of us, local house – petsitters and international house – pet sitters alike: Do you have a contract and if yes, what does it cover? Will you get compensated for incurred expense or loss of income, for those of us who are paid for the majority of their petsitting engagements?

MORE QUESTIONS:

Ethically, would you take money from people who cancel a booking with you, a cancellation that can cost you hundreds of dollars, pounds sterling or Euro, and/or result in significant loss of income? Is it something that you discussed at the time of booking? Did you have the what-if-emergency-conversation? Do you have a contract and does it contain a ‘what-if-clause’? Would you differentiate between a cancellation made due to preference and one made due to let’s say an immovable mountain need such as that your client might be elderly or otherwise in an immunocompromised category and hence truly be safer to not take any risks that for an average healthy person wouldn’t even be considered a risk? 

I will leave you with a lot of my questions. I am very interested in hearing your thoughts, experiences and feedback. 

Do you usually have a contract or just a verbal agreement? We use contracts and I will talk a little more about this in my next post. Until then, thank you for stopping by and joining the conversation.

(I will also cover in my next posts how this will affect home- and pet owners, please hit follow this blog/website to be notified when the next post is out)

Affiliate links below:

Affiliate links benefit me, never cost you anything and on this occasion save you a nice amount of money.

If you sign up & create an account with Trusted Housesitters through this link you will receive 25% off your annual membership: www.trustedhousesitters.com/refer/RAF256550/

If you sign up as a paid petsitter or as a pet owner with ROVER and create an account and USE it within a few weeks of signing up then I get a bonus (applies to both pet owners and petsitters/dog walkers signing up) and you can also get a $20 discount on your first booking (this applies to pet owners.)

This code gives you $20 off your first booking : BIRGITANDJASON20 And this is our signup link to our profile, but you can book with anybody and it still benefits us:

https://www.rover.com/sit/birgit

My father passed away 4 months ago and I only just found out

Klaus Deubner was my father. He once denied it in court. I lost him more than once. He passed away almost 4 months ago and nobody thought to tell his daughter. Like as if this was something that I had no right to care about, feel pain about, need to know.

Klaus Deubner, my father passed away on October 25th 2019 and I only just found out yesterday. Nobody thought of telling his daughter that he was now gone from this earth. Lots of things to say, lots of emotions and lots of speechless, wordlessness.

The photo above shows him and my mother on their wedding day, so much future ahead of them and little did they know what a mess it would turn into. At the time of their wedding I was almost 4 weeks into my status as an embryo. My father would love me so much when I was born. …

(Grieving in no particular order, just fragments passing through my mind and I have no reason to keep them private.)

His cells and DNA co-created mine. He gave me my core life principles and then offended the very ethics that he taught me to live by.

Somehow as family members pass away, maybe I am being released from some of the burdens of the past that shaped so much of me and continues to affect my experience of life in ways that aren’t that desirable.
I have good memories, too. For those and for all the missed opportunities I cry. For the gaslighting I feel anger, I didn’t deserve that. As my friend said, we don’t know what he went through, but neither does he know what it put me through all of my life for him to abandon me so long ago and taking my father from me.

I cried a lot, so often, for decades. Right now new tears and grief mixes with old. I don’t even know the people who are now mourning him, missing him. I don’t know what holes he left in the world, I don’t know many of the ways in which I grew to be like him because I never had an adult relationship with the man, my father, Pappa, I don’t even know how to spell this German endearing word for dad, is it one p or two?, that’s how long ago he left me.
I know some of the things I do and love are inherited from him. I fold my toes under whenever I sit somewhere. I love to eat the crust of bread more than the soft inner parts, I dream and love stories, I am an artist as was he, I am affected by the full moon as was he, when I look into his eyes, the ones I see in memory, I see myself in his soul, his soul when he was a young man. His eyes were brown and mine blue, his hair brown and mine blond, now brownish.

I don’t know what facial features in my 40 something year old face look a bit like his did when he was my age, I last saw him, briefly 20 years ago. Locked out of his life once more, that time I didn’t insist or keep trying to find love. Love should be given freely not begged for. How sad really.
But you know what gift I got? His birthday date is the very date that Jason and I first kissed, it’s the date that we began our story and it turned out to contain a lot of love. All the love I always deserved.

I just can’t get over how anybody could not have loved the child that I was, and how anybody could abandon me when I was a child. I was cute and adorable, kind and I had so many talents just no confidence, I was perfect and loveworthy and nobody ever told me that. I am now telling it to myself.
He took me into urban parkland, which felt like forest to the 5 year old me, and built me forest dwellings with branches, leafs and sticks. He shared my secret daydreams and read me stories at night, he treated me with so much love and then just disappeared like as if I had never existed. I know he was thrown out for being a drinker and causing us debt, I accepted all my life that he was thrown out, until now, I don’t accept it anymore. He left because he took love with him. He took my love and my heart and his and never came back into my life.

There were occasional times when I could see him and many more times when I couldn’t. Gaslighting became a feature: It somehow became my fault that we didn’t have a relationship. That’s a lot to accuse a child of. Then he stopped opening his apartment door when I came to visit him. He denied being at home when I asked him about it on the rare occasion that I got access to him. But somebody buzzed the main house door open for me when I rang his apartment bell. How could there have been nobody inside? Gaslightling. I was told it was my mistake. Never would they not let me in. But they didn’t let me in and I know that.

So many weird experiences of rejection. Until at one point I never saw him again. Tried one time when I had just turned 18-19. Promises. So many promises. Then silence. None kept, all promised withered.
Tried again with Glenn, my boyfriend, in 1999. Got close, it ended in rejection. It ended with promises of a day spent together, I was so excited, and yet nobody answered the phone when I called to ask why they hadn’t come to pick me up. Hours passed. I felt so embarrassed to keep calling, I felt like I didn’t deserve to make such a fuss. But the message was clear: we don’t have the guts to say no to you, so we pretend we are saying yes until all the actions send the message we really want you to hear. It hurt a lot. I had arranged a separate flight back to the UK than Glenn so that I could spend this time with my father.


Stopped trying. I am glad Glenn was there with me back then, it was a difficult experience.

I thought I was over it. But every year a new wound opens and a new pain needs healing. I think you can never really get over losing your dad. I seem to lose him in regular intervals. They get longer but they still appear, always unexpected. And now I lost him again. And this time he is gone forever, a deeper more final forever than the other final forevers that came before.
Am I sad that I didn’t get to see him again? I can’t answer this honestly. I was sure that I had given up all hope and that I had completed accepting the rejection. But it hurts fresh when the one you are a physical cellular part of didn’t even think to let you know that they were dying. When nobody thinks of letting his daughter know that now he’s gone. Maybe I was hoping something tiny would be left for me, a letter addressed to me, explaining that he knows this didn’t go as it should have done, letting me know that it hurt him, too but that he didn’t know how to fix his error, however grave, of his past. Or just a photo of me that he kept all of his life. But maybe he didn’t even keep a photo of me.

That hurts. I wish he kept a photo of me, it would make my heart feel less like it is combusting with sadness and a pain I can’t describe.

I have to make my own life. I wish I had had a child. I had the opportunity but wasn’t ready for it. Now I wish I had a child, to pass what I know about being a human being onwards.

Like it was my father who taught me the guiding principles that lead me through my whole life: Don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do. I also learned empathy from him, all life has feelings, don’t hurt it. It’s him who taught me this. Klaus Deubner shaped my whole life philosophy and the values that I am so proud of living by.

He was a great father, he just stopped being my father too soon. 6 years was not enough. I deserved more and so did he.

I now grieve for the father he was for those 6 years, the father he could have been, the father I always needed and didn’t have and also for the people whom I don’t know, whose lives he left gaping holes in. I am sure they are out there, hurting. I am sorry for all this pain we all felt and until October 25th, none of it was necessary. All we needed was more love.

I wish he left me a little oil painting that he made just for me, with a note and with an old photo of us together. I would be happy with that as my inheritance, it would let me know I was loved, at least a little, after all.

Are we feeling it this year? Thoughts on Christmas #1

I don’t know what it is like for you this year, Christmas, are we feeling it? How much do the realities of our lives personal and global affect how the next days play out? Put on some nice music, grab a book, make a nice dish that smells nice and don’t worry if your Christmas is the picture book perfect one. Let’s remember just this: This is a good time to remember to be empathetic and kind.
 
If nothing else then: Sharing is a profound action within reach of each and every one of us. The below is written a little more with my UK life in mind than my US life, but applies probably exactly equally as much wherever you read this. It’s not so different in America.
 
Sharing time, kindness, care, food, gifts if you have them, donate to those in need. If you have it then go drop of £20 at somebody’s (a stranger’s) door step you haven’t met but you have noticed they have kids and they appear to live precariously on the precipice of the abyss that callous politics have created. Just leave it in an envelope in their mail box or wedged under their door. It may mean they can put the heating on, it may mean somebody eats.
 
I have thought and then heard my thoughts echoed: we are reverting back into a semblance of Dickensian life, where the poor are treated with cold, hard callousness and where the possibility of escape from dire poverty is ever more elusive for the many of the many poor.
 
Let’s remember when we feel lonely or “It’s not ‘christmassy’ enough” we can make our own Christmas with those aspects of the tradition that really have an impact. Let’s take more care of each other, that includes objectionable people whom we wouldn’t want to befriend, but they, too deserve some warmth and food, a helping hand.
 
It’s not ‘christmassy’ enough because we might just be focusing on the wrong element of Christmas and in doing so are forgetting that all we really need is some time and thoughtfulness.
 
Leave the last minute plastic shopping and make something delicious to eat, it doesn’t have to be gourmet to be the food that helps make a memory.
 
p.s. are you alone, no friends or far away? It’s ok. You are not alone, we know you, we hold you in our hearts, there is a space for all of us. Try enjoy the solitude and the space for wonder that it can offer when we can see it from the right angle.
 
Go to midnight mass, doesn’t matter if you are religious, it’s a thing, it marks the time of year, they may have some Christmas decorations, you may feel lonely in the sea of people, look around you, who else is alone? Enjoy the love people have, even if it is not for you. It’s good to see love exist, we see a lot of the opposite all year, use it as a reminder of good.
 
Now I totally rambled. Sorry. I am a goof. I always delete these stream of consciousness posts after a short while, I never leave them up because who has the time to read this mess of thoughts. But I’ll just leave this here. This is who I am: sometimes a mess of words.
 
With love to you all.
Grab a book
Tune into some classical music for the heart and soul
It’s not too late, fold some paper cut-out-stars
 
Breathe. Exhale longer than you inhale.