Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

Are you just getting back in the saddle again?

August 14th, 2018

Time to get away – and reflect

I have just had a long holiday.  It’s been great, but at least for me, returning to the job can sometimes be difficult. Returning to work can be emotionally and even physically difficult, especially if you have really had a mental break from your every-day schedule, as I have had.  It can feel like you are a deep-sea diver coming to the surface again, facing a foreign world from where you have recently been.  Resurfacing and getting back in the saddle, to mix some metaphors, are tough.

This was the case for me- I was far away, mentally, emotionally and physically from all my work.  Then I came back to a few important deadlines, to a lot of emails, and a messy desk.  I had to resurface fast.  I got back in the saddle and started moving forward.  Here are some things I tried to do to make the re-adjustment smooth; maybe you can do them too!

 

Toss your ideas to the wind and see what happens!

Start on a Wednesday, or even Thursday- or do a “fun” thing first

Make your first work-week lighter by only working a few days, or perhaps schedule something “fun” first, such as a training day, or a team building day where you have no choice but to ignore your email list. This time I only focused on the deadlines.

Alternatively, check the email list immediately when you return (at home – and be brutalwith your triage, no replies, just deletes – reply in the office).  My entrepreneurial niece triaged 1,300 emails after a three-week vacation ended yesterday.  Hats off to her!

Start slowly, with loweredexpectations

Do not plan a really long first day or two, but slowly set and get into your list of “to-dos”; don’t expect to get finished with your list, but try to focus on one or twokey goals for the first few days.  Remember to reacquaint yourself with the team, the space, and the food, too. Perhaps you have a small souvenir you want to put on your desk to remind you of the great time you have just had. Mine is a ceramic teacup ornament a friend gave me at TeenStreet.

Revisit your vacation memories

Speaking of souvenirs, maybe you want to review your photos, or try and make that green curry you learned to make in Thai cooking class.  As a family, we always bring back food and enjoy them later on.  We make a meal to re-live our holiday experience in our own home and will anchor it in our memories.  Alternatively, listen to the music you listened to while on holiday, as you work, if allowed, or as you cook and clean up and do your holiday laundry.

 

Explore to a new place.

Have -or make- future plans, have something to look forward to, holiday plans or otherwise

Not only are we attending a couple of fun activities at the end of the month, but we also are planning a fall trip somewhere.  So, although we will be working, we have very positive activities to look forward to.  This helps when work gets tough, which of course happens regularly:  we can look ahead to the next enjoyable activities that break the work stress.  These plans help make the days pass with positive thoughts.

May your holiday resurfacing be successful and the next holidays be planned soon!

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

R&R Time

July 24th, 2018

Got time for holidays?  Then take a vacation!

Time to get away – and reflect

Don’t skip your summer vacation, if at all possible!

Although our family is taking less vacation than our normal 3-4 week time away from home in July and August, we will still have some holidays.  How about you?

The temptation is to keep on working

Many of us, including myself, are tempted to skip summer holidays, or, at least check out work emails daily 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.  August is coming up and then September.  Have you planned your vacation?  Taken it already? Decided to skip it this summer?

Here’s an idea:  Promise yourself and your partner: once a day email checks, 30 minutes maximum- with a goal of 15 minutes.

Your physical and mental health depend on R&R- that means JOB performance, baby!

Studies have shown that we need to take time away from the daily schedule of work faor our health, whatever that place activity and 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.

Not only that, but stress levels are reduced and therefore, productivity increases with a break in 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 and healthier, ready for more challenges to be overcome.  Your job performance gets better after holidays.

Have some fun on your vacation

Your need to relax or you might find it difficult to relax 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, it becomes increasingly difficult to wind down. Eventually, you might 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”.

Your family matters, and spending time with family builds the relationship. Relationships are key.

Finally, it is important to remember that the reason you are working is less important than your relationship with your loved ones. Take some time off to build your relationships with them, doing things you all feel are enjoyable and relaxing. Create positive  memories. For my family the place and activity is usually rock hunting in the Ticino; for another family or couple it would be another place and pastime.  But it is the time spent together in the end that matters, because those are our key relationships.

Just do it.

So, take that time off; limit the amount of time on work-related activities such as emails; do things with those people you love; and mostly, have fun this summer!  There is only one Summer of 2018, after all.  Enjoy!

Note:  I am taking a few weeks off my blog, as most people are on holiday and I will be, too. See you mid-August! You can still reach me via email at patricia@jehle-coaching.com, but I will only be checking my mail 2-3 times per week.  Enjoy your summer holidays!

Patricia Jehle

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

 

Take off your shoes and pay attention

May 16th, 2018

Time to get away – and reflect

Reflecting

Doing Something for Myself—Enjoying a short break and remembering to take off my shoes at the end of the day and think

Sometimes we have to do something for ourselves, like going to the spa, eating chocolate ice cream, or sitting in the sun.

Self-care is rather individual, unique to each person.  Last weekend I went camping in a VW bus because of the looong Ascension weekend in Switzerland; it was a “we weekend” with my husband and some good “old” friends. I was really tired Sunday night when we returned, but the time, money and energy spent were well- spent on relationships and on fun!

I have my unique set of work and fun passions:  business start-ups and leadership, writing, teaching, meeting with people (“old” friends and gaining new ones) and learning new ideas and concepts.  What are yours?

Now I am taking another short break before a heavy season of correction and meetings, but not in Europe.

What is in it for me:

Friends and family- relationships are key, and we need to care for them. Also, a little “me” time  and downtime is involved, of course.

Taking of my shoes and reflecting on each day:

“Earth’s crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God,

But only he who sees takes off his shoes;

The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

from Aurora Leigh

Take time to reflect

Each day I try to allow myself the luxury of going “home” and relaxing, taking off my shoes and putting my feet up and reflecting on the day, on the things I’ve heard and seen, and the people I have met, and how all this might all change me and give me new perspectives.  Seeing, as in the poem, brings new perspectives.  I – we all – need to take that time to see.  In the movie I saw on the airplane yesterday (“Lady Bird”), it was said that love and paying attention are basically synonymous.  I can agreed.  Let’s love more.  Let’s pay attention more.  Let’s reflect.

It’s not that I will ever have finished reflecting on my life; in fact, I have much more thinking to do – every day.  But short times in the evenings are a way to begin that process which must continue into the future.

So, what about you?  What are you doing for yourself, to grow, to be encouraged, and when are you going to take off your shoes and reflect on your daily experiences?

Have a great week!

Patricia Jehle

www.jehle-coaching.com

patricia@jehle-coaching.com

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

New Years Wishes for You!

December 31st, 2017

I wish you More of what counts for 2018!

More love in your important relationships

Happy 2018!

How we spend our time shows what’s important to us- what is your balance between work, family, friends and self? Who do you want to invest more time in this year?

More joy in your life, in what you do and with whom you celebrate

There is a time to celebrate, celebrate life and anything else. We have a BIG birthday this month and it is with joy that we celebrate it. I can hardly wait to have that time together as a family. What do you celebrate and with whom?

and Especially More peace and contentment

The New Year is upon us full swing and one neighbor told me yesterday that it hardly feels like we had a break, which we (well most of us) did. We get over busy very fast.

I was listening to a podcast the other day and I was struck with the commentator’s note on being able to be interrupted and the value in this, as that is often where life happens. If we go more slowly, we can be more easily interrupted without fluster- and notice what is happening around us.   When we are in a slower mode, we are more likely to be at peace, too. How can you set up your day so you are flexible for interruptions?

Also, I wish you More fun

And laughter and charming stories. I love Star Wars, and am still basking in the glow of the newest episode. What is fun for you?

And More song

There is so much around us and all we have to do is tune in. What kind of music do you like to listen to?

On top of that, I wish you More art

We have a couple of friends who are artists, and another friend whose husband is one. Her house has almost every square inch of wall-space used for art, her husbands and that which the couple has collected together. My husband and I visited her apartment in Paris last October and I went home inspired. I DO have more room for more art on my walls! I even received some more art from friends for Christmas and most everything is up – just have a few more frames to buy and then I get to enjoy those special pieces. What do you do to surround yourself with beauty? There are many ways, with art at home, going to museums, or taking walks in nature. What would you like to do more of?

And Most of all, I wish you More wonderful conversations

We are social beings, and even we introverts need good conversations. Who do you like to converse with and why? Who would you like to spend more time talking with? What kinds of conversations would you like to talk about?

May you have more of what counts and less clutter- both in things and in your calendar, and more of what counts in 2018.

Patricia Jehle

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

Icelandic Tradition: BOOKS!

December 26th, 2017

It’s holiday time! What are you reading? What are you learning?

In Iceland everyone gives (and receives) books for Christmas. I have to admit I am quite jealous of this tradition. So, I took matters in hand and (mostly) gave books this year. Most people who know me at all know I love books and I love to read. Do you like reading?

Some books I am reading at the moment

I have a friend who regularly greets her friends with the question, “What are you reading?” This is one of my favorite questions because it assumes that the person is a learner and a reader. I think we should be both. So the second question that goes with the first is “What are you learning?”

That really leads to pre-questions: Why are you reading these books? What are your goals? What books and articles are you reading that lead you to your goals? Also, what courses, lectures, YouTube videos, webinars might you be “attending” to reach your goals?

My reading and goals

One of my biggest goals is always to work on being a better coach and consultant for my clients, so I am reading coaching and supervision books and am in the middle of a finishing a CAS (certificate of advanced studies in coaching). I am also reading “fun books” – a photo will be attached.

What I feel is key for me and my life/work:

It’s all about people and relationship, and of course that is my mantra, anyway. But I love it. We are all trying our best with “what we have”. Emotions are neutral and only show where the individual is “at” at the present moment. Thus anger and sadness are not “bad” per se, but just signs of what is going on inside of you and me- only our reactions to the environment.

The person (my client, or my student) is a whole being: mind, body, conscious and subconscious. I do not have any effect on one part without affecting another. A person is a “system” and all the rules for systems apply.

We are all constantly learning and changing and change is possible for everyone. We learn via modeling: watching and mimicking others to learn new ways of doing things and responding to our circumstances. Thus, we (I) should make sure I am being a positive model for others, my family and friends, my clients, my students…

And smiling (just like reading) is good for the soul: that is also something I remembered this past weekend.

So, what are your goals? What are doing to reach those goals? What are you reading and what are you learning?

Keep on smiling — and should you want to visit my site: www.jehle-coaching.com –Or join my group on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/7041402

Have a great holiday season!

Patricia Jehle            patricia@jehle-coaching.com

Reading is a joy for me.

A Christmas Greeting from Jehle Coaching, Swiss Expat work and Life

December 23rd, 2017

The time of annual Christmas letters and cards is upon us. This year has been full, although not always of happy and good things, it has been a profitable year, work-wise for Jehle Coaching. I hope your year has also been profitable. In most ways, I am still on “the same path”.

Merry Christmas!

Jehle Coaching

2017 has been a productive year with my coaching business really getting busy! Much has been tried, refined and there is growth. The plans for 2018 are also shaping up, and the networking continues, as well. I had a great year and went to some training, such as Organic Quality Management and a CAS in Coaching from the FHNW-PH. Here is what I have been doing:

  • General business coaching
  • Executive and management coaching
  • Career and job transition coaching (both at beginning and middle management levels)
  • Life and career choices coaching (for young people, but also for those who are making decisions after about 10-15 years of work)
  • Moving into management coaching
  • Expat coaching (intercultural transition and adjustments)
  • Time management coaching
  • Decision-making coaching
  • Conflicts at work coaching
  • Burnout coaching
  • Coaching people with slash careers
  • Start-up business coaching (both regular and for creative businesses)
  • Starting a coaching business coaching and mentoring
  • Assisting friends who are artists and creative (this has been a pro-bono passion of mine)
  • Masterminds (a kind of (small) group coaching)
  • Life Coaching

I still love teaching business communications at the FHNW

It’s amazing that I have stayed with one job so long and that means something: I love it! This year has been no different and I look forward to next semester, and the following school year with great anticipation.

Enjoy the holidays!

Still writing after all these years!

I haven’t stopped and, have two on-going projects (both books in rough draft form, now)– and I do like writing these blogs, too! I expect to be at the next (2018) Geneva Writers’ Conference for some input and motivation.

Still revving up my training and qualification, too! (more a bout that next year)

REFLECT and LOOK FORWARD TO 2018!

Finally, I look forward to this holiday season, where I can step back, take a breath, reflect on the good and the hard, and anticipate a great 2018 to come! I hope you are doing the same. What has 2017 been like for you?

Training is a key to success

May you and yours be blessed this season and throughout 2018!

Patricia Jehle patricia@jehle-coaching.com       www.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