Posts Tagged ‘get a life’

Spring means VACATION!

April 17th, 2018

Time to get away

Have you got time for a spring break?

Or, are you skipping the possible vacation opportunity?  Are you working through your vacation time?

Although our family is taking less vacation together, my husband and I will be taking a week off together.  How about you?

The temptation is to keep on working and go on holiday “later”…

Many of us are tempted to skip our holidays, or, at least check our work emails often while at the beach or in the hotel.  After all, nobody wants 1,000 emails to go back to work to.

But psychologist have found it vital for our health and well-being if we can completely shut down for a while, even if it’s a 48-hour break from emails, and a change of pace and scenery.  Have you planned your vacation for this year?  Decided to skip it the summer holidays and work while “nobody is in the office”?  A quote below shows the importance, or lack thereof, of vacations in different countries:

“The online travel agency Expedia conducted a survey about vacation time in 2010, and according to their data the average American earned 18 vacation days—but only used 14 of them. Every European country included in the survey reported both more vacation days earned and used. France topped the list, with the average worker earning 37 vacation days and using all but two of them. And according to Expedia’s data, only 38 percent of Americans said they used all of their vacation time, compared to 63 percent of French respondents.” http://www.usnews.com/science/articles/2011/08/17/the-benefits-of-taking-time-off

Your physical and mental health depend on R&R

Studies have shown that we need to take time away from the daily schedule of work for our health, whatever that place and activity might be.  It is the “other” that causes restoration and growth.  For example, new places make new mental neuron synapses grow and rest the overused “pathways” of much used tracks of thinking in our brains. This, of course, also promotes creativity.

Not only that, but when we go on holiday, stress levels are reduced and therefore, productivity increases with a break in our work.  Employers should be sending their team members away more often just for better productivity—and for better creativity.  The employees return to work relaxed, healthier, and ready for more challenges to be overcome, more new ideas to be generated.

Your need to relax — or you might find it difficult to do so later on

It has been shown that, depending on your actual stress level at any point in time, it will take more or less time to unwind and really relax.  If you go for too long without a break working at t high stress level, it becomes increasingly more difficult to wind down.  Eventually if this goes on for too long, you will be unable to “remember how to relax,” and may be in danger of burnout.  Therefore, even long weekends with no emails are recommended to keep you “in practice”.

Take the long weekend off, at least!

In Europe, we have movable feasts coming up:  Ascension, Pentecost and Corpus Christi.  May people take these three and four-day weekends off and do something special.  Nobody expects any emails to be answered, most people even TURN OFF their cell phones!  This was also done from Thursday night to at least Monday night of the Easter weekend holiday.  If you live in Europe, these weekends can also help you wind down a bit.  We will be taking advantage of these holidays, too.

Your family relationships matter, and spending time with family builds the relationships

Finally, it is important to remember that the reason you are working is less important than your relationship with your loved ones (or something is very wrong).  Take the time off to build your relationships with your significant family/friends, doing things you all feel are enjoyable and relaxing.  It is the time spent together in the end that matters, because those are our key relationships.

SO: Just do it.  Take your Spring Break!

I work only for about thirty minutes each day, clearing emails and doing triage so my return to my business and to teaching at the university is not so stressful.  Of course, I do not check mails from Friday-Monday morning on holiday, ever.  I have a friend who gives herself x number of coupons during a vacation to look at emails.  Try these or something else that works for you.

However, you deal with your responsibilities, take your vacation time off; limit the amount of time on work-related activities such as emails while you are away; and do things with those people you love; and finally, have fun this spring!  There is only one Spring of 2018, after all.  Enjoy!

Patricia Jehle      patricia@jehle-coaching.com    www.jehle-coaching.com

 

Some News

February 13th, 2018

It’s cold, although Lent is beginning

What’s new?  It’s a new month, and soon it will be the season of Lent and that hails the coming of spring.  Time for a check-in!

What’s new for you?

I am doing quite a few new things:

Starting a new semester teaching Negotiations

This semester is one of the semesters where I will be trying new practice negotiations, one of which I will write myself.  Teaching negotiations is one of my favorite courses to teach.

Speaking three times with three different topics at the American Women’s Club in Zürich

I have volunteered to speak on sustainable eating (March 12th), on bouncing back after a set-back (March 13th) and I will give a Reformation Tour (March 14th).  What a wonderful opportunity to share some of my passions!

I’ve recently been to quite a few interesting events

January 17th I went to the 13th Wirtschaftssymposium Aargau– an excellent afternoon of speakers and networking.  For me the highlight was André Blattmann’s talk on security.

January 18th Was the SVC Prize Award Ceremony for best SME in Zürich- with the Schibli Group winning a much-deserved first prize.

Then I took a helpful Case Study Writing course for professors at the FHNW.

On February 1st I was able to be part of the audience in TEDx Selnau and one of the talks I enjoyed most was that of Dr. Lijin Aryananda’s discourse on simplicity in development (of robotics, mostly, but it can be extrapolated to most problem-solving issues)

TEDx Selnau was a highlight this month

I will go to a few more exciting events in the near future, all before Easter!

In two weeks, I will once again attend the Geneva Writers’ Conference.  Each time I return with ideas and new writing projects.

The weekend after that I will attend the Forum Christliche Führungskräfte in Fribourg.

A friend of mine, Hoger Hendrichs will be heading up a new effort for Christian startups in Switzerland, and I am very much looking forward to it:

christianstartupnetwork.ch

Supervision is on the horizon

I will continue my journey of extending my qualifications this fall, and I am very thrilled about it.

But some things remain the same

I still love (and do) coaching

I had hoped for one or two more clients and that has happened, and I continue to enjoy each session and every new issue and client.

I still love learning and writing

My love of learning has been re-confirmed again in the case study writing course and the other courses I have recently taken.  I still wish one could be paid to learn; I’d earn a million.  Writing is such a passion of mine, I blog, I am in the midst of writing books, and now I am working on case studies.  Even the few podcasts I have done have been a joy to write.

I am and will be a Hygge fan

I now ask myself the kind of mindful question that a Dane may ask.  Hygge is all about coziness, but it is a very mindful way of life.  As the weather takes a colder turn again, I am happy that tonight is “Pancacke Tuesday” (Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, literally “fat Tuesday”).  As a family we eat way too much: scrambled eggs, pancakes with maple syrup, and fried bacon.  After all, tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, and the start of Lent.  I read in a book that Lent means spring (or spring is on its way).  So, time to finish fattening ourselves up for winter.

Well, that’s my news, what’s new with you?

Patricia Jehle patricia@jehle-coaching.com  www.jehle-coaching.com

Healthy Work

February 5th, 2018

A heathy work environment can make you a very productive person

Are you working “healthy”?

January is a month where we turn away from eating and turn to healthy living.  We often take on new exercise regimes, maybe we change our eating patterns, we often do not drink much (or any) alcohol, and so on.  But what about at work?  Are we working “healthy”?  There are at least four aspects of work that can be heathy – or not, and here are some things you can do about each aspect:

A Healthy work environment?

How is the light in your workspace?  Can you add a daylight desk lamp to give you more energy?   Can you take a break and walk outside in the daylight for ten to fifteen minutes each day?

How is the eating situation?  Do you have access to healthy fresh lunches and snacks?  Do you need to make a plan to bring food from home?  Are you drinking enough water or healthy drinks, and avoiding sodas?

Are you able to get fresh air into your office space?  Can you “air” the room a couple of times a day to regenerate the oxygen levels?  If not, go take that walk!

Are you moving enough?  Research says you are more productive if you work in shorter bursts and then move a bit in between.  So, do you work for 45-50 minutes and then go get a drink at the water cooler, or go up and down a couple of flights of stairs?  Can you walk to where you eat lunch, if you eat out?  What else can you do?

Unhealthy work relationships?

How are your work relationships?  I have a friend who when one part-time colleague shows up, her environment changes so much that she feels very uncomfortable.  She has decided to avoid working when that colleague is there, if at all possible. I have another friend who was being used against her will for “office politics”.  She finally left that company, because she could not easily change the situation.  So, are you in a relatively good relational environment at work?  Yes?  Good!  If not:

  • Can you change the situation- either work at home more, work in another office space, or something else?
  • Can you talk to somebody about it who can help you change the situation?
  • Can you live with it?

If not, maybe you should start looking for a new situation, especially if the situation is making you feel unsafe, making you have sleepless nights, or making you ill.  My friend chose this route, maybe you should, too.

Are you working too much?

Some people may have to put in a long week every month or two, but if you are doing this consistently, you may be heading towards burnout.  Think about what you consider normal working hours.  Think about this, and then google the normal work-week for your country.  Are you within 10-15% of that “normal” amount most of the time?  Then I would not worry too much.  But when you are working 50+ hours a week consistently, most months of the year, consider what you can change, and do it fast!  Maybe you need a coach to help you find ways of optimizing your way of working, maybe you need to delegate more.

No vacations?

There are many people who really do not take their vacations.  Maybe it’s from fear of not getting everything done in time, or fear of getting too far behind while gone, or fear missing out on an opportunity.  When people make decisions based on fear, there is usually something negative (and possibly unhealthy) going on.  Watch out!  This can be a red flag!  Maybe you need to talk about those fears and find ways of getting around those issues.

We all need time away.  I have a friend who is (finally) taking 16 days to go away with her husband and leaving their business to be run by the team.  This is a first and she is hopeful it will become a more routine (at least once a year) activity. My friend really needs a break, as most business owners do.

When was your last vacation?  Did you take all your vacation days last year?  If not, why not?  Vacations are healthy ways of getting back not only energy, but also your creativity, which is needed for your work.  We usually come back from with fresh perspectives after a good holiday.

So, how are you doing at work, health-wise?  What do you need to change?  How are you going to do it?

Have a healthy work week!

Patricia Jehle   www.jehle-coaching.com patricia@jehle-coaching.com

 

2018 Word for the Year

January 16th, 2018

Good team and other relationships are key for success

What’s your word for 2018?

I usually choose a word like hope or presence for the year to remind me what’s important and to keep me on track. Do you do that?

My word for 2018 is RELATIONSHIP

This is a word I can apply to all my life: work, family, church, friends, and “free-time,” and when it comes to decision-making, it will be a filter I use to make my choices.

When it comes to family and friends, I will attempt to choose for relationship and not activity. What helps our relationship? What helps others and their relationships? Activity for activitiy’s sake is going be a red flag for me this year. I hope it will be for you, too. The “Why?” question will be asked by me a lot. Why am I doing this? What benefit does it offer others and our relationships?

When it comes to work, I will continue to teach in as relational manner as the system allows. I will continue to work on building good rapport will colleagues and team members. I will be a team member in the best sense. These are my work goals.

In some ways, relational coaching is just a given. But I will continue to make the coaching relationship a must for my business. I will ask myself how I am doing with my client relationships and what can I do better. I will do what I encourage my clients to do: reflect.

As I continue in my further education as a coach and lecturer, I will make relationship as much a goal as possible. This weekend I will be trained to write and teach case studies, and the weekend is a team learning effort so I look forward to learning together with a talented and diverse group. As I look to becoming a supervisor, I also am thrilled to be working with a group of diverse coaches who are moving forward.

Even the books I read and the fun things I do with friends and family I hope to use to enhance relationships this year. I have just bought another Henry Cloud book; this one is Boundaries for Leaders. I am looking forward to this read very much!

Again, what is your word for 2018?

Relationally yours,

Patricia Jehle            www.jehle-coaching.com     patricia@jehle-coaching.com

working together gives us better solutions

Healthy, sustainable Eating

January 13th, 2018

A double pyramid to help you eat healthily and sustainably

An Eco-Friendly Diet that’s healthy? What’s that?

After this week’s earlier blog on good decisions and the placebo effect, especially regarding healthy food choices (http://www.jehle-coachingexpat.com/2018/01/11/placebo-effect-and-decisions/ ) I started thinking about meat (and other protein) eating and I started researching on the ecological sustainability of high-protein diets and the recommendations of the UN and medical associations.

While doing my little research, I came across the “double pyramid”, which shows the effects of what we eat (diet) on the environment and comparing it to the updated suggested dietary pyramid used by the UN and medical authorities.

I assume we all want to be healthy and for the world to be a better place, and one of the ways we can help these goals is to care about what we buy in general, and specifically, what we eat. I personally think we need to eat a more sustainable, but yet a healthy diet, and it’s a viable choice, both environmentally and financially.

So, here’s what our eating footprints look like, depending on our general diet: Vegans (though I could never claim to be one) have the lowest carbon and water footprints. Just saying. This is followed by vegetarians and then omnivores. I am an omnivore, but I readily will give up eating meat or other animal/fish proteins for days on end. This excludes our own home-grown eggs from our (free range, very happy) chickens, and Swiss milk products. I do live in Switzerland and come from Minnesota, after all.

Having said that meat eaters have the highest carbon and water footprints, it can also be said that most dietary recommendation pyramids now say we should not eat so much meat, especially red meat, anyway. And if you cut your meat eating down to twice a week, you already halve your footprint levels. That’s not too bad, considering it is healthier, anyway.

I did note that coffee and chocolate are not listed on the pyramids, and find that not so helpful for my personal lifestyle.

Coffee and Chocolate

After a quick google, I found that black (UGH!) coffee has 21g carbon footprint per cup and the latte (MMMmmm!) 340g- gasp and sigh. The water footprint is high, one article said 20 049 m3 per ton of harvested coffee just for the growth, and that does not include roasting containers and any other preparation. But maybe we should be buying at least a FairTrade version.

Deforestation aids to adding to chocolate’s carbon footprint, so we should really only buy sustainable fair trade brands. In Switzerland, the UTZ seal is important (for both chocolate and coffee). Regarding chocolate, one article says “Cadbury estimates that 169g (6 ounces) of carbon dioxide equivalent are emitted into the atmosphere for each 49g (1.7 ounce) Dairy Milk chocolate bar. This calculation includes emissions from the production of raw ingredients such as cocoa, cocoa butter, milk and sugar, and from packaging and distribution, but not from land-use change.” http://www.wri.org/blog/2015/08/how-much-rainforest-chocolate-bar

Maybe a diet after Christmas would be in order for me, but first we have to eat all the chocolate in our house, and there is quite a bit left. Anybody want to come help?

A sustainable Diet

Now, let’s go back to the suggestions. Here’s the low-down on my interpretation of the double pyramids:

What to eat a lot of:

Local and seasonal fruit (and dried version) and vegetables, bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, legumes, olive oil (- which for me is local), nuts, and milk products and eggs. For those who don’t have good olive oil, try something else that’s local and healthy.

What to eat a little bit of:

Fish and seafood (see the wwf list for what is healthy and not over-fished), local chicken and other poultry. They put cookies here, interestingly enough, too. I like cookies.

What to eat once or twice a week, maximum (SORRY!)- and the list is rather the same, surprisingly:

Sweets, “bad” fats, and red meat

That’s it! Al we have to do is the good old rice, vegetables and beans thing, which I have known and done since college days. I bet we all know this. Luckily I bought a new (to me) Moosewood cookbook recently to jazz up my vegetarian cooking.

Tonight we will be eating chili and rice. What about you? So, let’s eat healthily and sustainably for a better world and a better life!

I raise my carrot to you and to our better health!

Patricia Jehle www.jehle-coaching.com    patricia@jehle-coaching.com

 

 

 

Placebo effect and decisions

January 11th, 2018

Mind over Matter

Get out of Your Own Way and make sure you are making good decisions

I recently read an article that said that January is the month where you and I would most likely spend (waste) money on bogus health products, so watch out! This is the season of getting our lives in order, of losing those extra Christmas and New Year holiday pounds, of starting new self-improvement programs, and the like.

When I put cynicism aside over our overzealous resolutions to improve, is there some truth to these efforts and ideas that we can indeed change, or is it really the placebo effect at work.

 

Is there a Placebo at Work?

My medical-student daughter says that the placebo effect is real and very helpful in a lot of cases. This means if you decide to spend a lot of money on a bogus home remedy of sorts and you believe it’s going to work, it probably will. This means of you follow x diet for so many weeks, it is likely to work if you believe in it.

So, what do you believe in? What’s your go-to remedy for x, y, or z?

My nephew is a convinced user of mega-vitamin supplements with zinc, etc. to enhance his immune system. I have got to admit that I use something similar when I travel or feel a cold coming on.

The real question is what is at work, the vitamins and mineral, or a placebo? The other question is if it matters or not.

And does the placebo effect continue to diets and such?

My next thoughts lead to eating habits and diets, as this is the season of shedding our extra pounds, or at least attempting to do this. I have to admit I really don’t believe in diets, as I have seen friends and family do the diet yoyo – and I, myself, have been rather stable in weight for the past several years, even during chemotherapy. As and aside, I had hoped to shed a few pounds during therapy, but alas, it was not to be, sigh.

So, at least for a time, does the placebo effect work for diets? And what is healthy, anyway? Are carbs all that bad, and is sugar a “drug”? Now, here is my layperson, non-expert opinion:

Diets don’t work, instead we should eat, move and live healthily.

According to Mayo Clinic this is hwat you should be eating for a normal 2,000 calorie eating plan:

  • A variety of vegetables — dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy and other
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt and cheese, and fortified soy beverages
  • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds and soy products
  • Oils, including those from plants, and those that occur naturally in nuts, seeds, seafood, olives and avocados

Including:

Vegetables 2 1/2 cups a day
Dark green 1 1/2 cups a week
Red and orange 5 1/2 cups a week
Legumes (beans and peas) 1 1/2 cups a week
Starchy 5 cups a week
Other 4 cups a week
Fruits 2 cups a day
Grains 6 ounces a day
Whole grains ≥ 3 ounces a day
Refined grains ≤ 3 ounces a day
Dairy 3 cups a day
Protein foods 5 1/2 ounces a day
Seafood 8 ounces a week
Meats, poultry, eggs 26 ounces a week
Nuts, seeds, soy products 4 ounces a week
Oils 27 grams a day
Limit on calories from added sugars, solid fats, added refined starches 270 calories a day (14% of total calories)

Thus, I would have you note that grains and starch foods are BIG on this list, and I find it interesting that so many people I know are scared of those foods. It’s not those foods, but the processed versions that are really bad. Another aside, for those who know what they are, Twinkies still exist. I saw some last week in a Target store in Seattle. I know that many of you are off all sugar, but unless you are diabetic, this could be a bit extreme. A little sugar is not going to hurt you, unless you are addicted to it, as I am to coffee and salty foods. BUT, so you know, the Mayo Clinic only allows a normal snickers bar worth of sugar a day. That’s all. Luckily, I don’t like many sweets and can forego this, but many friends have sweet-tooths.

One other thought on bias

Our biases are rampant and the goal is to become aware of them (and our assumptions) and take them into consideration when we make decisions. When we make un-considered biased decisions or decisions based from fears we are most likely to make poor decisions and mistakes. So, we need to ask ourselves, or better get the help of others to ask, what are our biases, our assumptions, our fears. We must move beyond t these to find the solution and make the best decisions.

Which decisions and why?

Whether it’s diet, activity, health, or future, let us make good sustainable decisions based on truth and not a placebo effect. 

Have a healthy rest of the week and weekend!

Patricia Jehle

www.jehle-coaching.com     patricia@jehle-coaching.com

 

Burnout!?!

December 12th, 2017

BURNOUT, it is not all the employee’s fault!

 

Too much stress can lead to burnout

A few Fridays ago I sat with someone and we talked through some of the stress she is facing at work. It’s a lot of stress, and I cannot imagine how that company system is going to continue. The level of expectation on employees and the speed of change is no sustainable.

 

You see, the company has decided to take the term “Agile” and apply it to everyone and everything in the whole company: work faster, smarter, more flexible, ever more responsibility.

Agile can be difficult when applied to a whole company

Except there is a big problem: people are human and there is a limit to the speed and efficiency they can reach and work at in a sustainable manner. At my friend’s work place burnout is common and heart attacks and strokes happen, and not just to “fat old men”.

 

This expectancy of ever more perfect employees is a worrisome pattern in many of today’s leading companies. Agile is not just for R&D/Tech., it’s an excuse for companies to use and abuse their employees. Yet their employees are the company’s most valuable asset, and many of them are now sick with burnout and other stress-related illnesses.

 

Here is what the World Health Organization says about burnout:

“Over the past 20 years one of the most significant changes to workplaces in industrialized countries has been the relative decline in permanent full-time employment and a corresponding growth of what has been termed precarious employment or contingent work arrangements… Widespread and often repeated restructuring/downsizing and outsourcing by large private and public employers has increased insecurity amongst workers previously presumed to have secure jobs.” All this causes burnout. “And burnout syndrome includes the following three dimensions:

emotional exhaustion;
depersonalization; and
reduced personal accomplishment
http://www.who.int/occupational_health/publications/newsletter/en/gohnet2e.pdf

Locally speaking, according to KMU Magazin, (nr. 2, 2009), Switzerland has a burnout bill of over 18 billion francs! That is an amazingly high number! Companies need to realize that this phenomenon is not about the individual employee, but about the company culture, the company system and when there is a seriously high level of long-term, stress-related illness and burnout, the company needs to look at itself and ask some questions about how they “do business”!

So, what can be done about this problem:

  • First, have healthy expectations of yourself, your co-workers and your employees.
  • Second, allow a culture of failure and learning become the norm. Let yourself – and your team – grow from mistakes instead of trying to be like robots.
  • Third, when people start to experience burnout, do not shame them, but instead, help them to get the care they need as soon as possible.
  • Finally, create healthy work expectations and systems. Remember that you and your employees are humans, not machines.

This is just a beginning, but a necessary one to starting off towards sustainable growth and development, instead of using and abusing employees until they are not of any use to anyone anymore.

Here are some (non-exhaustive) signs of burnout:

  • You hate Sunday night because you have to go to work in the morning
  • Tiredness (often with insomnia), stress-related health problems, difficulty concentrating
  • Emotional problems like irritability, resentment, apathy, boredom
  • Making more mistakes than you usually do, uncommon procrastination
  • Conflicts are increasing, needing to prove or defend yourself in an unhealthy manner
  • Use of unhealthy coping mechanisms (drugs/alcohol, food, shopping)
  • Withdrawal, inner emptiness, depression

Even though it is not just the responsibility of the employee, if you are starting to experience burnout, here are some things you can do:

  • Focus on your (home, not work) relationships– talk about your feelings and frustrations with trusted friends and family.
  • Do things that you can change, be in control of (google Coveys’ list of things you can change).
  • Choose to believe that your (good) actions will lead to (good) feelings—in other words, fight against negativity with positive actions, not just words.
  • Accept yourself as good enough and be realistic about your goals and expectations
  • Pay attention to your emotional and physical needs. Listen to your body and give it some good care.
  • Maybe you need to do some soul searching about what (and how) you are doing for work. Maybe you need to change some things. Take time to reflect on this.

I wish you a very healthy – and – sustainable month and 2018!

Patricia Jehle            www.jehle-coaching.com                patricia@jehle-coaching.com

 

 

 

Happy Samichlaus Day!

December 6th, 2017

Today is the Feast of St. Nikolas

Samichlaus visits children with a donkey and his companion, the Schmützli

On December 6th in Switzerland, Samichlaus (the Swiss German St. Nick) visits children’s homes and brings bags filled with peanuts, chocolates, gingerbread, clementines, and other delights. Sometimes he and his helpers, the Schmützlis, come and secretly drop off the goodies. Sometimes whole (and in our village’s case, schools) classes of children head to the forest to meet Samichlaus and his Schmützlis. Sometimes he visits the house, comes in and reads from his book about being naughty and nice. Often he comes with a donkey, too, to carry his bags of goodies.

I like the Sixth of December for many reasons: first and foremost, there is no Santa at Christmas bringing gifts; but also, I prefer this Samichlaus and have had very positive experiences with our local ones who have visited our family over the years as our children grew up. Our children had very congenial ones who asked for (musical) concerts and read from their books in a compassionate manner. It was hard to be afraid of these handsomely dressed bishops with their amazing costumes.

Samichlaus is almost the antithesis of commercialism. He shows up only with a bag of treats and talks about how the children have done the past year, not about what i-thing they want from him for Christmas. It is a great relief for me as a parent and a better focus on the Reason for the Season, in my point of view.

But my adult children do not ask for visits from Samichlaus anymore and we do not (yet) have any other children about who may. So the a this year we will celebrate on our own, with the chocolate, peanuts and mandarins in a bowl and have a “light” Swiss supper of homemade vegetable soup, Swiss nüssli (lambsears) salad, sliced meat and cheese—and Griitibänz with Swiss Aargau Gingerbread for dessert, to be eaten with the bowl of goodies. And, in our family we drink hot chocolate with all of this. The recipes I use for the Griitibänz and Gingerbread are at the bottom of the blog today, but first let me explain the Griitibäanz. These are men mad of (sweet, white) bread dough that you can buy specifically on the 6th of December here in Switzerland. As far as I can tell, he represents Samichlaus. We dunk the pieces of bread in the hot chocolate and it’s delicious!

Here are the recipes, the first from “Swiss Milk” and the second from the Aargauer Landfrauen:

Gritibänz:

  • 500 g flour here you can use “Zopfmehl”
  • ½ TB salt
  • 1-2 TB sugar
  • 75 g softened butter
  • ½ block of fresh yeast (21 g), crumbled
  • 2,75 dl milk,lukewarm

Mix all ingredients together, preferably with your hands and then knead about 10 minutes. Let it rise until it is doubled in size in a warm, draft-free place. If your kitchen is cool, warm the oven a little and put it in there. I make four-five men from this amount of dough. Shape the dough into a log of about 10 cm and cut the bottom for legs, the arms are also cut (be careful not to cut through the log) and then tiny cuts are made for the neck. Experiment and have fun. Some make female ones, others add stocking caps, etc. Use raisins to decorate, but cut holes for them, or they will just burn during baking. Paint them with a beaten egg and bake in a 200°C oven for 20-30 minutes until done (the bottom should sound hollow when done).

Enjoy a Swiss bread-man!

Aargauer Gingerbread:

  1. flour – 500g (I use half-white and the other half spelt (Dinkel)
  2. sugar – 500g
  3. cocoa powder – 3TB
  4. Lebkuchengewürz – 1 packet (from the Swiss store)– or a mix of 1.5-2t cinnamon, 0.5t clove, 0.5t nutmeg and a dash of cardamom
  5. baking powder – 1TB
  6. milk – 5dl (a half a litre)
  7. canola (Raps) oil – 4TB

Sift dry ingredients together and then mix everything together in a bowl. I put the dough on a cookie sheet that has baking parchment on it. Bake in an unheated oven at 180°C for 30-40 minutes. As it cools you can butter it, or after it cools you can decorate it as you wish. We eat it plain, often with tea.

A favorite snack in Advent in my canton

Happy St. Nick’s, Swiss-style!

Patricia Jehle       www.jehle-coaching.com               patricia@jehle-coaching.com

 

 

 

Happy Gratefulness!

November 22nd, 2017

Thanks!

Tomorrow is the USA’s biggest celebration: Thanksgiving. It lasts four days, but tomorrow is the official holiday. ‘Tis the season to be thankful! I realize it would be beneficial for your – and my – health and well-being to really take some time and count our blessings, but this year I am rather sad about a few circumstances, and yet I am grateful about many others.

 

I have family and friends who are ill, very ill indeed, unemployed, underemployed, and others have major issues like depression and deaths in the immediate family. These are hard circumstances and they make my mini ups and downs at work seem rather weak. The kinds of work issues I have can usually be “overcome” with a little bit of reflection and change in my thoughts and behavior.

 

My friends and family have other bigger problems, though. Thinking one’s way out of stage three cancer and other major problems is unadvisable. Instead, I need to “be there” for my family and friends as much as I can, though I am often far away from them. This is hard for me, being so far away. Maybe you can relate.

 

Even though your (and my) life is sometimes hard, it is still important to make that shift from “pity party” to thankful thinking as much and as often as possible. Because this can be difficult to do, I have given you some ideas:

 

Here are SIX things we can all do to be more grateful:

 

1-Visit someone that has made a positive influence in your life and specifically thank them. I was thinking I might try one a week before Christmas—tea is always good at these times, which reminds me of “A Cup of Christmas Tea”, a wonderful book/poem about relationships: http://www.amazon.de/Cup-Christmas-Tea-Tom-Hegg/dp/0931674085 – the gratefulness journal and jar I have already talked about in previous blogs, so I won’t go there.

 

2-And do remember to smile– your body will feel happier, so smile. The world may just smile with you, and even if they don’t, you will feel better. Your body reacts to the way you carry it, and this includes smiling (or frowning).

 

3-Set a gratefulness alarm and do something. My nephew-in-law, for example, takes a photo every day at 3pm and it’s become a kind of portfolio of his various projects. He posts the pics on Facebook—and I am quite pleased to see them. We, too, could do this: take a photo every day at a certain time of something that we are grateful for. The dog, the warm sofa, the cookies on the table, the fire in the fireplace.

 

4-Keep track of how many times you gripe in a day/in a week, and for every complaint, think of two positives that have happened. Keep everything in a positive balance. It is very easy to get into the negative thinking habit and this little check-up might help to keep you thinking more positively.

 

5-Thank someone like the postal carrier, the garbage collector, or whoever else you may feel is overlooked, but essential to our lives. Thank the bus driver or the the cashier. It will make both your days.

 

6- Remember to ask yourself what you are grateful for, preferably every day. I do a gratefulness check at the end of the day- what am I grateful for, and what can I improve tomorrow. I usually write my “thankfulness list” down and put the paper in a gratitude jar that is my kitchen.

 

Here is my Thanksgiving Gratefulness list for tomorrow: Family, near and far; Friends (ditto); a great slash career: lecturer/coach/writer; cool students and clients; I love my dog; my creature comforts (home, health, food); Swiss public transportation; and the amazing fall weather we have been having; not to mention books and further training this fall.

 

What’s on your gratefulness list?

 

Of course, it is also a good idea to take time this weekend and think about what you are grateful for — and what you can change in your circle of influence.

 

Wishing Happy Thanksgiving to all, those in the US, and those who are not. Think of all the things that you are thankful for and give thanks.

 

 

Patricia Jehle            patricia@jehle-coaching.com                    www.jehle-coaching.com

 

Take time to give thanks

Have a Hygge Time!

November 15th, 2017

A walk can help you think and enjoy the weather

 

Hygge: A quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture)

  • Oxford Dictionary

 

My Danish “Hygge” ancestry must be calling me this fall. As the days get shorter and colder here in the northern hemisphere, my thoughts turn to cozy activities and the, things that make me happy in the wintertime:

 

Fires, tea and cookies and continued dog walks

 

Our wood stove is firing up and warming the living room with its radiant heat. The windows in the stove shine with firey golden light. We take great pleasure in the comfort of this stove in the winter months. While we watch the fire, we drink cinnamon tea and eat (Christmas and other) cookies, preferably homemade ones. This morning the frost shown silver on the grass as I walked the dog in the “early” morning light. It gets light at about 7am at the moment, and the sun disappears from the village at about 4pm with darkness arriving just after 5pm. Activities like lighting fires in the woodstove, drinking tea and cookies and taking walks when it is light are part of my seasonal Hygge time. These comforting activities give me and my family great pleasure during fall and winter.

 

Warm woolen mittens and other cozy clothes

I have finally gotten out my flannel lined chinos, my woolen pants, my thick winter socks. My boots have been waterproofed once again. I love these Hygge-days for the comfort of fluffy woolen clothes and the fact I can wear my boots again. I long for some REAL snow, here in the Swiss midlands, where it is still as green as green can be. Maybe a visit to the snowy mountains is in order.

 

Home made soups, casseroles, and fondue

I have discovered soup season again this fall, making turnip, pumpkin, beetroot and other soups. At the moment the crockpot is cooking some bone broth, too. And of course, there’s always chili con carne. I make mine with black beans, and not kidney beans, and topped with Edamer cheese. Soups warm a soul like nothing else can on cold rainy nights.

 

Friends, meals together and game nights

Now is the time to get together for warm meals with friends and family. It’s time for hot-dish. Where I come from hot-dish is what one calls a casserole in most other parts of the English speaking world. My sons say that hot-dish is just another word for leftovers, and often this is true. With all of these foodie nights, there come also game nights. Last year friends introduced us to two rather “Indie” games: Coup and Hanabe. Both are quite fun, and then add “Exploding Kittens” and “Dominion” and you’ve got an evening of laughter and silliness mixed with some strategy, too. This past weekend my daughter and her friends joined in playing some of these games in our cozy kitchen.

Long ago, in Minnesota, we read our favorite (short) stories together

Why not spend a night with a few friends reading short stories together? I did this once and that wonderful experience has accompanied me for over a quarter of a century. I suggest you try it. Hygge is meant to be shared with other people, and why not a meal (or cookies and tea) with story telling afterwards?

 

Whatever you choose to do, if you want to do it the hygge (pronounced “hoo-ge”, I have read), way you must find a comfy cozy way of doing something that brings you warmth and comfort, and then you share that activity with others. The coziness is meant to be a communal feeling.

 

Wishing you many hygge moments this fall and winter!

 

Patricia Jehle       patricia@jehle-coaching.com        www.jehele-coaching.com

 

ps: for recipes, just write me!