Dedicated to my sister, Andrea

Lately, I was inspired by a friend of mine, let us call him Benjamin, to delve more into the topic of philosophy. He, himself, is one of those people you meet, with whom you can talk about anything and anyone! If you do not know such people, I urge to scout for one, and hold auditions, the more the merrier! I found myself being attracted to this kind of knowledge, maybe him as well 😉

After a long day’s work, I usually have time to explore the small, cute kiosk in the main train station of Basel. This one is a bit bigger than your normal kiosk. Entering it, you see stands of colourful, categorised magazines, newspapers and books, knowledge written in German, English, French, Spanish or Italian. When I enter it, I feel little sparks of curiosity  bubbling around my head.

One day, as I was in the kiosk, my eyed dropped on Philosophie Magazine, written in German. In my head, I could hear Benjy rambling about what democracy and meritocracy are and if they really exist.

What intrigued me was of course the theme. The writers in that issue were exploring “Where does New come from?” and if new even exists. They dived into it by analysing and deepening opinions of past and new philosophers. I had decided not to buy the magazine. I wished to figure out an answer that is true to me, without any input or bias from others. Since then, questions like, “What is new?”, “Does New exist?” started bombarding my brain.  Personally, this would have never been a question I would ask myself, yet I found myself really searching for the answers, any answer! And the weeks were running faster than a peregrine falcon!

And so began the long, sometimes frustrating, other times confusing, and the rest of times inspiring story of defining what is new and if it really exists or not.

We call something old. This infers, therefore, that it used to be once new. As we were born in this world we were new to this world, and getting old with every fraction  of a minute. Yet, according to the CIA World Factbook and indexmundi.com there are 258 worldwide births per minute or 4.3 births every second (2016 est.) (PS: here you can find a live count of babies born www.theworldcounts.com)

So being born or having birth is actually quite old, we have been propagating forever! Now, I can imagine a mother reading this and getting furious at what I am saying but looking at this objectively, couldn’t it be true? It might be. It is such a wawawoom statement to make, just to shake the waters. Believing it, however, breaks my heart and destroys my spirits. It is so contra-intuitive to exclaim such a thought! Even when I was writing it down, I felt a bit upset and sick inside. Vomitus alert!

After weeks of deliberation, confusion and so forth, I had decided to buy the magazine for some clarity. Something inside of me, till this day, does not allow me to open it up and read. So, I chose to discuss the topic with friends and colleague.

Benjamin came to the rescue! He gave me a clearer, more hopeful, inspiring and positive piece of his thoughts. He was looking at me curiously, almost weirdly suspiciously and gave me a little smile. He took a breath and said in a rather “I know it all” voice: “Being born might be nothing new to the world, unless you make it mean something. You being born to the world was new to your parents and you! The first time you ate, talked, walked was new to you and your environment.”

Suddenly, I had realised it all has to do with how we perceive the world and what kind of meaning we put to things and events that occur. “The Idea, the Power of New exists in relation to our perception!”, I exclaimed in brightness!

Hmm, doesn’t then everything and the meaning we allow and choose to give to anything happen in relation to our perception?

Now, now… That is enough food for our brain! And you guessed it! It’s your turn! When was the last time a magazine fascinated you? What magazines would you be interested to buy?

Be like Benjamin, be courageous and share a piece of your mind, even your opinion on “New” 🙂 I am curious to know what you think!

She hadn’t allowed herself to feel nervous before meeting him. She kept telling herself that she should keep it easy and cool. The chemistry between them, at least the sensual part, was there. He made sure to remind her how well she looked and how sensual she was. He seemed to be very intuitive. What surprised her is how well he could see through the whole “meaningful desire”, as he called it, on her face when she drifted away in her thoughts and in the beauty of Nature.
Their kisses were long, sometimes soft and sometimes forceful, sometimes sweet and calm other times passionate and alive. Time didn’t exist, time paused. And he didn’t have to say much, she neither. Maybe that’s part of him she consciously wanted to keep a mystery. He himself, said anyways that he was the quitter one. She was the same. “How fascinating”, she thought to herself, “what can happen when introverts come together”. She was fascinated. Yet with every kiss she questioned if this would be something that could last the test of time. She questioned if she could deeply and truly trust him. He was hurt before, she knew that. She was hurt before, he knew that. Somehow they came together and allowed themselves to give in, in the whole chaos of emotions and the cosmos.
She was meeting him at the train station this time. She saw his back waiting for her at the platform. This time he was the one doing the waiting, not a comfortable feeling. With not much thought she gets into his car and trusts that they will have a beautiful evening together. He drove for a while. She talked. His car smelled of wet dog and metal. “It reminds me of my dad’s car”, she said aloud and at the same time regretted saying it aloud. “Usually the dog sits where you are sitting”, he explained. That didn’t weird her out, she knew her way around dog lovers. She touched his hand at the same time he had to change gears. They both laughed. “It’s not an automatic”, he replied smiling. “I still want to hold your hand, we change gears together.”, she demanded smiling back. “Cute”, he said getting lost for a minute in her eyes.
She didn’t want to look away. His blue eyes had captured her. Her, being controlling and rather the anxious type, had to break the eye contact to check the road. He realised and started driving more carefully.
They ended up in a small hill, they laid the green and blue blanket on the floor. “It’s wet”, he noticed opening his beer can. “From our last date, it had rained, remember?”, she replied. “You should have let it dry, otherwise it smells”, he advised. “Oops”, she said in a naïve, naughty way. She couldn’t resist anymore. She kissed him. “I wanted to do this at the train station”, she admitted. “I didn’t know how you would react.” “Well, you said that you want to take it slow…”. “I know I have to. I’m dating in the meantime six of you and it would be unfair for the others if I were to sleep with you”. ”Six? You are on a roll, aren’t you?”, he said surprised. “Yes”, she replied definitively. He continued kissing her and touching her, as if he didn’t really care or as if he wanted to show her that he is the one, she shouldn’t be looking any further. He could, however, at least control himself and not go any further. She allowed him to touch her more than the last time. She was wearing a white, shorter than the last time dress, just to give him a better glimpse of her fit legs. That he couldn’t resist.
They kept talking about nature, their days, their families. They were alone in the middle of nature, with small hills, the sundown and the clouds in front of them. They kept feeling each other, kissing and sharing a joint. Grey clouds were hiding the sunset. He was hoping to share that with her. “That’s ok, we have more sunsets and sunrises together”, she said smiling. He kissed her, this time in a different way, in a way that was desiring and peaceful. She couldn’t resist his kisses. He unzipped her from the back and started kissing it. She started shivering from arousal. Little bites and caresses. Licking her neck and scratching her back made her wet. She let him do whatever he wanted, she was longing for this and was more than ready to simply let go. She touched her right breast. She saw how he was looking at it and got even more aroused. She was practically begging inside that he would kiss it or bite it or squeeze it. He kissed and licked her nipple. An uncontrollable moan came out of her mouth. They were alone, he made sure of that ahead of time and he would look around every now and then worried, to check if there was someone there. He kept kissing her and touching the inside of her thighs. With her next moan, she warned her to be quiet. She was doing her best until he fingered her. “It feels so warm and good down there”, he whispered in her ear. That somehow gave her a certainty and a confirmation as a woman. She bit him on the neck and couldn’t let him go. “No marks”, he warned her. “I’ll do my best”, she replied with that same naïve, naughty look.
The wind was getting stronger. They saw storms in the far right. And they were getting cold. It started slowly raining but they kept kissing. “Maybe we should get somewhere else with less wind”, he said worryingly. So, they decided to go down the hill, on a small bench they had passed on their way. By now it was raining lightly and the intensity and frequency of the lightening was becoming stronger. The sound of the thunderstorm was becoming louder and prominent. He followed his instincts and went on with trying to get in between her legs. She would bite his tongue from time to time because she liked the sound he was making when she did it. It was the sound of a long, deep with a smirky smile at the end “Ugh” sound.
They both stood up, she wrapped her leg around his. Just when he started to finger her in this position again, they heard a car stopping near by. They both stopped and started laughing as if they were two teenagers caught red handed, somehow disappointed yet even hornier than before. They stopped and hugged each other, in his urgent need to hide his penile erection. Two girls were coming down their way, they were loud and all over the place, just like more lively and crazy early adulthood can be. As their voices were fading in the background and she was glancing over his shoulder, he touched the back of her neck, her dress still unzipped and run his hand along her shoulder. With his other hand he grabbed her ass forcefully under her dress and pulled her closer to him. She licked his ear and neck, as if she didn’t really care they could get caught because of his “Ugh” sounds.
The wind was getting stronger, a wild storm was coming. The two girls were running now back to their car. They seized again. The rain was becoming more forceful and soon both realised they need to get back to the car -fast. The rain was coming harder down, the sound of lightening must have triggered some kind of fight or flight reaction in them both. They mirrored each other’s look: rain, car person opposite to them. They knew they were thinking the same thing and started a race back to the car. She felt as if she was playing in an old, banal romantic movie, the ones she always found too kitschy and fake.
They were now driving around. “Want to chase storms with me?”, he asked. “What a concept”, she thought to herself, “It’s not the first time he’s playing this”. Her loud reply was a simple yes without much emotion. He continued driving, somehow carelessly and faster. It was probably the grass and the beer. She was scared and reminded him to drive slowly now and then-her controlling and anxious parts of her. Driving around, they ended up in a dark alley between farms and farmhouses. They got out of the car and simply enjoyed the rain together. He hugged her, he felt her cold, smooth skin, which he so craved. He had chosen the spot very well. The rain was slower now, some tiny little stars were shining above them but he couldn’t take his eyes off of her. They would hear the thunder and would look far in the far horizon in between the mountains, searching for the lightning.
“Is this what you did with your ex as well?”, she asked as she couldn’t handle the ambivalence inside her. “Yes”, he replied boldly and kissed her. He had the nerve to do that. His hand travelled at her back. She never realised that her white dress was now zipped. He didn’t unzip her this time, his hand travelled effortlessly inside the zip along her spine up until her right, smooth, voluptuous butt cheek. He was kissing her harder on the neck and biting her shoulder. She was trying for a while now to stop it, her mind was screaming on the one side “This is no good” and “Relax, enjoy it, let him please you” on the other. She couldn’t resist the temptation. She decided to let go and respond to his wilderness. She allowed her right hand to travel under his shirt, up to his nipple. He had driven hers crazy before, she wanted so badly to care for him as much as well. Her left hand was grabbing his left, hairy and small butt cheek. He got excited -to her surprise- when she was touching his nipple and running her finger playfully around with it.
“I want to fuck you”, he whispered in her ear and drove his finger inside her wet pussy. She moaned a vocal. Bells from the cows were clinging near them. He hold her mouth shut with his other hand and said “Shhh…”. She obeyed, lifted her leg up to his thigh, so he could finger her deeper. She was enjoying this so much, it was feeling so good. She lifted his shirt up. She wanted him inside of her so badly, yet she knew that it would be unfair to the others. Plus it’s not what she bargained for and the wait excited her immensely, she was learning to control that. His nipple was getting harder. She was licking and biting, touching it softly and pinching it. The pain was thrilling for him, the more he would do it, the faster and deeper he would force his fingers inside her.
She couldn’t help herself but moan. Again, he shut her mouth with his hand and pulled her hair from the base of her skull. Her spine bent backwards. She wanted him to get even deeper. “You like that baby girl, don’t you?”. He supported her back, loving having her in this sensual, unique for him position. He pulled her eventually back up, gave her a long, wet kiss and turned her around. He pulled her big ass towards his pelvis, so that she could feel how hard he was because of her. He took his penis through the zip carefully out of his jeans. She couldn’t see much. She touched his penis with respect and curiosity. She could feel his warm, hard, thick penis, which circumference she couldn’t grasp with her small palm. His penis was curved upwards. She wasn’t sure of the length, but she knew she wasn’t enthusiastic about it; either positively or negatively. She didn’t have to stroke his penis long enough. He came with a rough moan after 2-3 strokes. Cowbells were feeling closer now. She felt him hugging her lower stomach, as if he had wished to have come inside her. He kissed her neck, turned her around- this time slower. He caressed her face and kissed her even longer this time.
As she was turning she had noticed three huge cows. After the light dizziness, she could hear the cowbells being more intense. They must have been observing their scene the whole time. They seemed so curious and aroused. She had the sense, they wanted to join. “What a pathologic, weird thought!”, she thought to herself. For her their stare and presence felt violating and criticising, for him it was rather natural and normal. After all, why should only humans observe dogs fuck in nature? The picture of the three cows stuck in her mind and it followed her for the next couple of months.
They eventually walked back to the car. He drove her back to the train station. They said their goodbyes in his car. That’s where they saw each other for the last time. But that wasn’t the end of their summer.

Decisions, decisions, decisions… Some tough, others easier, some made, others to be thought of, some to be acted upon, some to…
Decision-making: it is everywhere and is possible at any time. A person at work or home does it, a person without work or home does it. From how you are dressing up to who you want to marry, from how you eat and sleep to how you behave and talk, from your next big move in a game of “Jenga” to your next big move in life. U do it, I do it. Personally speaking, viewing back, one of the main goals of medical university was just that, expand and better our decision-making skills to health problems.
And, indeed, my decision-making skills are not perfect at the moment but that is eventually OK. By asking colleagues with more experience or finding solutions to the problems yourself, you learn, you take it in as you go, and eventually you feel comfortable enough to make better decisions for your patients and their quality of life. Plus, it is always good to know that studies exist for some cases that can back up your reasoning.
Working on a Stroke Unit, for patients who have actually suffered from a stroke, you find yourself making important decisions about significant problems. The most important are 5 in my opinion (mainly because the rest is basic vital sign stabilisation with pretty straightforward solutions, recommendations and protocols):
1. Does the patient have a brain bleeding or an infarct?
2. If the patient has a bleeding, is (s)he eligible for an operation?
3. If the patient has an infarct, is (s)he eligible for thrombolysis (=breakdown of thrombus, aka blood vessel clot)? If yes, what kind of thrombolysis option would be the best?
4. Does the patient take an anticoagulant? If yes, shall it be stopped?
5. Does the patient need anticoagulation therapy? If yes, which?
When your day is filled up with making decisions, especially when that concerns other people’s lives, you might not wanna burn out early in  the day, for you never now when a hard problem will need tackling.
That leaves us with the following questions:
⦁ Why do we take the decisions we do?
⦁ How can we make better decisions?
⦁ How do we avoid early “decision-making burnout”, so that we make good decisions at the right time?
Αποφασίζω (decide, translated into Greek) = (α) πό (χωρισμός, απόσταση, distance from) + φαίνω (φωτίζω, light up, present), to distance yourself from other possibilities in order to light up, show the way you commit to go on.
Decidere (decide, latin roots) = de (from, off) + caedere (to cut), to cut yourself off from other possibilities by committing to achieving a result.
Eventually, based on what do we decide? Is it a) logic, b) habits and automatisation, c) beliefs, or d) all of the above? Also, is no decision, a decision?
Lately, I have been reading and listening to a lot of Tony Robbins. In this TED talk and through his books, he explains how our decisions are based on 1 magical equation, in which FOCUS = FEEL. He goes on to say that all the important “life-changing” decisions in our lives are driven by our emotions and ultimately by our limbic system. He states that E-MOTION provokes MOTION, ACTION.
⦁ Think about it: What do you want to focus on? On losing weight or do you want to stop smoking? Do you want to change careers or have a family? Do you want to make more money or travel the world?
⦁ Once you find what you want to focus on, you will find the feeling and the why. After all, CLARITY = POWER.
⦁ NFS: If you cannot find the why’s or if you want to find more of them (therefore, probably more feeling and commitment to your decision) do it like in business management and problem solving; ask yourself “why” 5 times. I always imagine a little child pulling my dress and asking “why” continuously 😋 -yes, it can be frustrating at times but it works.
⦁ Even Simon Sinek, an English author and motivational speaker, in his TED-Talk “⦁ How Great Leaders Inspire Action” elaborated on what he calls the “Golden Circle of human motivation” and how inspirational leaders can lead better if they are clear on the “why” and “how” they do what they do. If they lead with that, instead of the “what”, they will lead better. And if they can resonate that with others, including their colleagues and customers, they will be more successful than ever. Those in advertising and marketing know this for years already! This is how they “manipulate” us every day into buying I-phones and cars… This is how Pepsi “used” Michael Jackson’s energy and image in the past to increase sales and profits in a time when Coca Cola was numero 1.
⦁ It is funny -funny as in weird… As I was preparing to write my thoughts down today, I received this in my e-mail:
⦁ “The Management Tip of the Day from Harvard Business Review:
⦁ Whether people change is largely determined by why they change. And they are most successful at changing when they choose to change. This is where coaching can create problems, because it’s often imposed rather than invited. When we feel something is being imposed on us – even if it’s for our own good – our natural reaction is to resist. So if you’re trying to help someone change, your first consideration must be to approach him or her in a way that enhances, rather than dampens, motivation. Focus on asking more questions and giving fewer lectures. Your job is to help people uncover and strengthen motives they already have, so they’re more inclined to take action.”
⦁ So today I ask you: What do you want to focus on?
⦁ And just like a little child I will tap on your shoulder, pull your trousers, skirts or dresses and ask frantically:
⦁ “Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?”

How?
How do we decide what we decide?
I feel that some of my everyday decisions are based on habits or automatisation. These “decisions” are made without me even realising it, making me actually doubt if I should even call them decisions anymore… To me a real decision should ultimately take more energy and focus so that a significant result is achieved. But here is the catchy part: What if I decided not to go through my morning plan, which is made up of my regular habits? And weren’t my today’s “habits” my past’s “decisions”?
Indeed, it took conscious effort and, therefore, serious decision-making for me to establish specific habits of mine. Some I am committed to, others still need work. Some were easy to establish, others I find harder and, hence, still struggling with.
For example, a good habit I had read somewhere was to drink 1-2 glasses of water once you wake up. I let it sink with me for some time and a few days later, during one of those summer mornings, I observed my mom, who had woken up and half-naked dragged herself to the kitchen to have some water. And then it hit me: My mom has been doing this since I’ve known her.
It seemed easy, effortless, logical, and one of the healthiest tips I had never thought of. I saw something being executed, liked it and until today I do it like my momma: water is the first thing I look for when I open up my eyes. I was so into it, I wrote a list with more reasons why I should drink water first thing in the morning. I googled facts about it, read a book about it, watched educational videos about it, its significance and healing powers. Guess what? That list reinforces that belief and strengths my decision and action to wake up and drink water every single day, today more than ever before. If you feel that you need to take up a habit or stop one, I suggest making a decision and listing the reasons why you choose to do what you want to do. Go through it every day! It takes some time, but it is worth it in the long run. And if you love life’s journey, as much as I do, you want it to be a marathon and not a 200m sprint.
As far as harder decisions go, decisions that need more contemplation, there are several techniques out there. People in the business world know them the best. One of my fav’s is the so-called ORAPAPA, because it is easy to remember. It is basically an acronym [adore!] stating the 7 keys to consider when making a harder decision. Works for me so far, hope it works for you as well.
ORAPAPA
O – Opporunities: What are the positive consequences, the benefits you get if you make the decision?
R – Risks: What are the negative consequences, the drawbacks, the possible  “Oh, no! That happened, now what?” moments?
A – Alternatives & Improvements: Are there any? Can you make some things happen to avoid or minimise the risk? Where and what can you improve?
P – Past experience: Ask around. Has someone been in your shoes once? How did they handle it? Use caution: Keep your mind open because not everyone is benevolent, especially when it comes to business or people you barely know.
A – Analysis: Take all the info in, categorise, prioritise. Check for gaps.
Advice:
If you are a leader, don’t take forever with this step. The more you analyse, the more you postpone. Someone needs to make a call. If it is -or needs to be- you, make it; right or wrong, you will probably never know.
If you are a follower, you play a key role with giving the correct info and thinking ahead for any gaps or concerns. Speak up.
P – People: Consider opinions, goals and what will happen to other people; your family and friends, your coworkers, your customers.
A – Alignment & Ethics: My first priority if I were to prioritise this acronym. Think simply: Does this align with who I am and who I want to be? Does this fit to my standards, my code of conduct, my mission?
Hopefully, if you ever need to take some decisions, you can trust your own system or use what I mentioned above. The more decisions you make, the more confident you will feel with them. The more decisions you make, the more easily exhausted you become though.

One of the people that takes important decisions most of his day is President Barack Obama. In a “Vanity Fair” article in 2012, Michael Lewis mentions some of the president’s habits for better decision-making. You are probably thinking, “old news”, but just because it is old does not make it of any less significance. So enjoy! 😉
1. Prepare for tomorrow, today night. Plan what needs to be done and if it takes less than 10 minutes, do it! i.e. check and send email, prepare notes, read drafts.
2. Minimise decision-making burnout by limiting your options on insignificant things. For Obama it is wardrobe and meal options. For Sabrina, it is food shopping – once I have found something I love, I stick to it. I reconsider if the price, quality or competition have changed.
3. Filter the news as much as possible. Just like any other person, there is no journalism without subjective emotion brought into it or some kind of other influence or censorship. Personally, I do not own a TV, although I find it luxurious to watch occasional football games or videos on a big ass screen. I’d rather, however, focus my time and money on more interesting things for me; talk to friends with different opinions over a cup of tea, read magazines on business and health, travel.
4. Exercise. Obama works out in the morning for 45 minutes. It gets him focused and allows him to be more productive during the day. He also plays basketball with the BOB at times. Vasilios D. Kosteas of Cleveland State University, reports that engaging in vigorous exercise (running, aerobics, sports) at least 3 times a week is associated with higher wages, nearly 7% for men and even more for women. After all, exercise is linked to higher energy, well-being and productivity levels.
5. Schedule personal time with yourself and your loved ones. The people you cherish in this world got you where you are right now, so make the time for them no matter what. Plus, keep time for yourself and your growth, your sanity and reflections. Otherwise, you will sooner or later drown in your own thoughts and decisions.
And this article is perfect for illustrating bad habits for bad decisions. So, make sure you have a look 🙂

Pain of others suffering
I entered the room. A lot of people, hustle and bustle. They were his loving relatives. I asked them kindly to go out because I had to examine the patient. So they did.
“You are very popular, Mr. X”, I said smiling.
All of a sudden he broke out in tears. I started worrying…
“Is everything OK? Do you have any pain?”, I asked immediately.
“Yes”, he uttered.
“Where?”, I continued with an emotion of urgency.
“In my soul”, he replied.
Within milliseconds, he broke me; we were both crying like little kids, whose treasured game had been broken…

Pause
Day in and day out we play the “pause” game.
In the clinic we “pause” medications and sometimes we stop them.
When the day is just overwhelming, you just pause to wonder or to take a breath -or  you simply go on holidays.
When you suddenly wanna pee, you just pause the movie you have been watching for the past 60 minutes to go to the looloo.
You can take all the pauses you want, but the matter of the fact is:
Life knows no pause.
Energy always transforms itself.
No matter if you are pausing or not, time is still running…
So, use your pauses wisely & enjoy each day to its fullest 🙂

I was working during a night shift. It was mostly quiet. It was time for the rounds, and as usual I were to visit “problematic patients” and ask the nurses on each floor if they had something new to report.
It was indeed quiet, scary quiet; I felt as if I were the main actress of a thriller movie waiting for something exciting-scary to happen at any time. I was done with my rounds and nothing had happened to my slight disappointment. I thought of chatting for a while with the French nurse of the floor I was responsible for in the past month during the day shifts.
She started complaining about the new computer program and the inadequecy of the management to solve the most banal problems. It was nothing new, they seemed the most popular conversation topics during that time. I apologised for the time-consuming program -as if it were my fault- but it seemed to work; she stopped complaining and smiled at me. I was puzzled as to why but didn’t give any more thought to it. We were soon talking about other things and started laughing, quite louder than usual.
“Mr A!”, I exclaimed suddenly. It was my Don Juan, a 90 year old -or so- patient with a lung tumor and pneumonia I had admitted two weeks ago. He was looking better this week after the antibiotic therapy, the tumor and the Parkinson’s considered. I greeted him and asked him how he was doing and why he was up wandering about at 10 o’ clock.
“I must go to my wife. She has Alzheimer’s and I am worried. The doctor told me that I can go at 10.”, I managed to understand after many repeptitions. You see, people with Parkinson’s disease do not talk clearly, something we physicians  document as “dysarthria”.
“I know the problem with your wife and I understand it is worrisome. But it is 10 o’ clock, Mr Juan… 10 o’ clock at night…”, I replied smirking and thinking to myself “Sundowner again…”.
“Night?!”, he looked at me with a confused smile guessing I might be playing a joke on him.
I nodded yes and showed him the dark moonless sky.
Then, I turned to the nurse and asked her if he was planned for discharge the following day. She looked at me troubled and started going through the archived files trying to find the information.
He was still looking at me, my Don Juan, with a broader smile this time, or at least this is how I chose to interpret it considering what we physicians document as “hypomimia”. You see, patients of Parkinson’s show a decreased facial expression, as if they are wearing a mask or as if they have undergone botox injections.
I smiled back. I told the nurse to check his vitals and I ran a quick physical examination on him. The amazing thing when admitting and already knowing the patient is that in a case of a new symptom, one can clearly state the differences. You see, confusion shall not be taken lightly in the medical practice. It may be a sign of something more alarming ranging from low blood glucose or oxygen, a new infection, a seizure, a brain tumor, a stroke, medication, a heart problem, and the list goes on… Once his vitals and physical were as usual and the patient himself realised it was indeed night, I splitted my sides confirming my first thought.
“Mr. A, let’s get you to bed, shall we? You need a good night’s rest today. Tomorrow, when the sun comes up, you can talk about your discharge with my colleague”, I said and turned my head looking at the nurse. As she was escorting him back to his room, he paused and returned.
“What is it, Mr. A?”, I asked getting more worried this time.
“You see doctor, I am glad I got up. I got to see your beautiful smile.”
I laughed and blushed. My heart and brain were relieved.
“Thank you! Good night Mr.A!”, I replied parting the conversation.
I slept well that night dosing off to the meaning of compliments and honest laughter.
Mr. A was discharged as I heard 2 days later, being content and relieved to go back to his wife.

Approximately a month ago, an amazing man noticed that my vocabulary for food was not appropriate. I cannot remember what kind of food it was exactly but I am sure it was something made out of sugar. In my mind, I see sugar as being one of the silent killers in the 21st century -amongst others- especially if one starts noticing that it is almost everywhere. Hence, I avoid it, whenever my logic is stronger than my emotions, and used to consider and refer to it as “shit”.
Once I had uttered: “That’s shit”, he got upset. “Don’t say that!”, he reacted. I had stroke a nerve and for that moment I had not really realised what he was pointing out. A few seconds later, after a weird pause, he went on to explain his way of thinking. He had mentioned all the people that were hungry and starving at that moment and all the people that were dying due to starvation or suffered under food insecurity, people that would be more than grateful and more than excited to stimulate their taste buds with a sweet surrender to sugar.
I was embarrassed. I was humbled. I now understood. “What a fool I am!”, I thought. He was right. Some moments later I apologised and agreed that he was right.
In fact, as the World Food Program (WFP) states: “There are 805 million (11%) undernourished people in the world today. That means one in nine people do not get enough food to be healthy and lead an active life. Hunger and malnutrition are in fact the number one risk to health worldwide.” Moreover, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United States (FAO), the number of undernourished people has been the lowest between 2012 and 2014 since 1990, making a progress of 8%.
On the same day, I had, unfortunately, made the same mistake again. I got frustrated, he got a bit more upset. I guess this was something hardwired to my way of looking at sugary food. On this second occasion, he actually gave me advice: ” Don’t say that! Say that food is not delicious”. “Exactly! Or not as nutritional or not healthy!”, I contemplated irritably to myself.
Since then I have been thanking this man for the observation and advice, and have been consciously rewiring, reviewing, enriching my food vocabulary. I constantly make an effort to regard food as a present and pray for the ones that have limited or none of it. Below I listed some adjectives to describe food I once viewed as “shitty”. Use them to show respect for the food you have in front of you!
“Shitty” alternatives: not delicious , not nutritious, unhealthy, not tasty, not fresh, not appetising, not appealing, rancid, stale, rotten, unwholesome, not beneficial, with minimal worth/substance, not “pure”
I am working on the list as I go. Please feel free to comment with more beautiful adjectives for food you avoid or dislike. I welcome them 🙂
And today take a moment and appreciate every single bite of food you have!

Taking a simple stroll today around town and with plenty of time on my plate, I decided “Let’s see who is smiling and having a good, stress-free day today!” It is a simple game really: you just start counting people with your eyes and observe. 20 is usually enough to get a rough statistic about the place you live in. 1,5/20 (7,5%) was having a goooood day today! The 0,5/20 is honestly subjective: the person had a smile but I was unsure if it was a genuine one. As for the other 5%, I can still picture her: female, in her 30’s, caucasian, wearing a black shirt and sunglasses, driving one of those “Beetle”-car-look-alikes, with the sunroof popped open, and a broad smile on her face. That was great, but…
What happened to the rest of them? STRESS is definately one of the main key words. That got my neurons firing: Can people in this country be really that stressed out? There are anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs available… but even they don’t do the trick, do they?
Ever looked at a graph of countries and the first thing you were trying to find is if your country is somewhere in there and hope it was doing good? Well trust me, Cyprus baby (#55 on the list), you were doing OK in 2013 considering the competition. [P.S.: My other country, Palestine, was not recognised as a nation at that moment, therefore lack of data]. What am I talking about? In 2013 Bloomberg took 74 nations and based on several factors, they had published the most stressed-out countries of the world. Check the link for yourself.
All in all, it is important to always remember that stress is:
1. Universal
2. Unavoidable
3. Hardwired in our bodies from our ancestors [guess what would have happened if you came across a lion (stressor) thousands of years ago; with no stress in your body, you had better chances being eaten alive than staying alive].
We have all been under a stressful situation. Simply go back to your memory bank, think of the test that you thought would determine the rest of your life, or the fact that you have a deadline tomorrow, and boom! Your palms are cold or sweating, your heart is racing.
Hey, it’s not all bad; small bouts of stress can even be beneficial! They command you to take action and get things done! Yet we all know that CHRONIC stress is a toxic risk factor for our well-being and has baaaad effects primarily on our:
1. mental and physical health
2. relationships
3. finances
4. others
I remember as I was still doing my rotations, the family members of the loved ones who were hospitalised, used to come up to me and go: “What could have caused this?” My mind was running as fast as it could, trying to catch up with the answer, trying to download the causes of myocardial infarction I had memorised for that same year. Before I could even open my mouth to reply, they would start rumbling: “It is stress, isn’t it? And his blood pressure…”
So… How does stress work? And since we know that stress affects our world, why don’t we learn methods to manage it and become resilient to it?

How stress works


I knew before going into medicine that this life will be stressful at times. So what I needed to do -unconsciously mostly- was to find strategies to combat and limit stress and its side effects. Truth is stress is there, in every job, in every post. Anyway, I am a firm believer of the “Law of Attraction” so it didn’t took long to discover MOOC sites like: coursera, edx, futurelearn, iversity, lynda. Even sooner, I discovered Clay and his course “Becoming a Resilient Person – The Science of Stress Management”, which I strongly suggest if you are into the topic. He offers solid advice in a fun way and offers the course again on June 2nd 🙂
Stress according to Robert Sapolsky is “anything that knocks us off our homeostatic balance”, where homeostatic balance is an ideal state of balance in our body (ideal temprature, blood pressure, etc).
But first, how does our body react to stress -for, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction-? We all know the “fight or flight response”, more correctly the “fight-flight-freeze response”. A stressor nowdays, however, can affect us over time. Even if no stress exists, its anticipation can simply activate the same stress response!
Several parts in our brain light up when we are under stress (check out this simple infografic):
1. Our amygdala, part of our limbic system, responsible for emotions and memories (which blocks the frontal part of our brain, responsible for logical decison-making), and activates
2. Our hypothalamus which stimulates our Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and the adrenal glands to secrete the so-called catecholamines, the most popular being adrenaline (=epinephrine) and noradrenaline (=norepinephrine). It also secretes CRH, which stimulates
3. Our pituitary gland which secretes a hormone called ACTH, which itself stimulates
4. Our adrenal glands which produce cortisol, the stress hormone.
It is not surprising that cortisol is highest in the morning, when -for the most of us- our body reacts to the alarm clock (yes, a stressor!). Cortisol now is responsible for increasing the blood sugar (glucose) levels, by blocking insulin (a molecule responsible for increasing the glucose absorption from tissues and therefore decreasing the blood sugar levels, keeping them in homeostasis).
The long-term side effects of cortisol, which is essentially a steroid hormone, are even more serious:
1. Suppression of our immune system increased susceptibility to infections and decreased would-healing
2. Impaired cognition, depression, psychological stress
3. Decreased thyroid function
4. Abdominal fat accumulation, increased weight gain
5. Reduced bone formation, with predisposition to osteoporosis
6. Muscle wasting
7. Increased gastric acid secretion, predisposing to gastric/peptic ulcers, and many more…
In fact, high cortisol levels and their side effects are observed with a disease called Cushing’s disease (or even to Cushing’s syndrome).
Hence, it is significant we figure out how to combat stress with sound stress management strategies. Check them out at sforstressmanagement 🙂

Stress Management

You wake up, curse on the alarm clock, hit snooze, and after 3 times you get up. You drag yourself half asleep to the toilet, wash up and get dressed -if you are a female good luck; you will have probably changed 3 times already. You make your way to the kitchen -which is probably messed up cause… who has the power to clean the dishes from the day before?- and swallow a coffee as fast as you can because, before you know it, it’s already time to go to work… AGAIN… And you cannot even remember where the stupid keys are! AGAIN! This sadly happens to most of us on most days -if you are living alone! Can you imagine living with more than you? Already CHAOS, PANIC, STRESS rule and take over your body!
It is a fact: Most of us go to work ALREADY stressed! Now, we also have our work, our customers, AND our bosses to worry about it ON TOP! Oh, man…!
I can honestly say that the first time at work I felt stressed was my first day at work. Or should I say first week? Or was it more? To be fair, it was a mixture of feelings, most frequently switching from excitement to fear, to stress, to being proud. So I decided I needed to put an end to the negative stuff, especially stress. I dug deep into my notes from the past and found some answers. Before writing this article, I dug a little deeper for us, just to keep us up-to-date 🙂
I cannot STRESS enough how STRESS can kill you. So I hope you and I find these stress management strategies helpful. Please remember, just because it is working for me or others, does not mean it works for you. The list is quite long -options, options ;)- but even if you apply 1/10 of it, you will probably have better chances of limiting the effects of stress -especially chronic stress- than others. Just experiment with a technique for some time -if you are open to it- and see if it is sincerely for you or not.
I. What can I do to release stress in the moment?
1. Learn the physiological signs of stress and acknowledge how your body reacts to it. Do not ignore the signs, i.e. sweaty palms, increased heart rate, neck stiffness, upset stomach. More here.
2. Think of the stressor as an opportunity to grow and move on, rather than something negative. Shift your way of thinking and use the rush you get to focus undeniably to the task in hand.
3. Say over and over: “I got this! Done it before, can handle, time to crush it baby!” Believe me when I say, positive thinking will get you a long way! 🙂
4. Activate your yang, your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) that is. The PNS has the ability to calm down the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which is eventually responsible for the adrenaline rush. How to activate your PNS? A simple on-the-spot technique is the “5x5x5 deep breathing”: breath deep through your heart, feel your abdominal muscles and your chest expanding and contracting, imagine your diaphragm moving up and down. 5 seconds inhale, 5 seconds exhale, for a total of 5 deep breaths.
5. Write down a to-do list, prioritise, strategise. Everything will be clearer and you will be able to focus in no time.
6. Talk to someone you trust, someone who can listen and can give advice. Talking things through will always pave the path for a better understanding. It helps us to see the problem with a fresh eye and get to solutions faster. [PS: These kind of people are hard to find, so when you do, cherish them and show them how much you appreciate them]
7. Promote a calm aura, as if you are the Dalai Lama in the middle of a war zone. Relax your face, relax your shoulders, stand up straight, and keep your voice calm and reasonable. Why? Well, consider the last time someone talked to you in  a distressed tone -for me it will always be the nurses… How did you react?
II. What can I do to relieve/release stress on the long run?
1. Take time to define on paper your code of conduct, your dreams and visions, your values and rules, your ideals, ultimate goals, and beliefs. Be honest and ask yourself these little treasures:
A. Where do I stand today?
B. Where do I want to get to?
C. Why?
If question C does not stir up some emotion inside of you, know it is not the right one. So, keep asking why and you will get there. Finally,
D. How do I get to B? What can I do differently?
Knowing your core self will help your focus and allow you to say no to stressful things that may not even be as important or urgent for you and where you want to be.
2. Practice mindfulness techiques purposefully, intentionally, with an open mind & heart.
– mindful breathing
– mindful STOP: STOP and smell the flowers 😉
– mindful daily routine
– mindful eating: smell, sight, sound, texture, taste, temperature
– mindful commuting
3. Pay attention to the positives, rather than the negatives: think of something or someone that makes you happy or puts a smile on your face.
4. Practice gratitude:
– Write “Thank you” notes
– Write gratitude letters
– Journal 3 times/week about 3 things you are grateful for. I have noticed that the smaller and the more unimportant something may seem to be, the more I am grateful for it.
5. Volunteer (do acts of kindness), give
6. Connect with others and empower your compassion: with people you love, with people you feel can teach you something new, with strangers.
7. Relax:
– Progressive muscle relaxation
– Diaphragmatic breathing
– Guided imaging/visualisation through all our senses to get to our “Happy place”
8. Try destraction methods, i.e. cold showers (not a fan, lol)
9. Have a self-soothing, self-compassionate outlook on yourself: look at your mistakes with kindness, use constructive criticism with yourself rather than cold judgement, see the day as an opportunity for progress instead of perfection. Hug yourself.
10. Be proactive: Plan ahead, use prioritised action lists (what, where, when- even your recreation time!), use if-then statements (i.e. “If it is 20:00, then I will exercise”) and get excited about getting things done!
11. Count your little wins, give yourself a tap on the back, and celebrate your progress any way you feel like!
12. Spend time in nature, in green places.
13. Cherish & nurture your hobbies, recreation and leisure time. If possible do it away from work, and just play and have fun with others (more ideas here)
14. Pray
15. Self-reflect with the help of journaling
16. Use techniques like: Neural feedback or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
17. Search and find a mentor or ask the help of a life coach
18. Define your inspirations, role models and heroes according to what you want to improve on.
Last but not least, what kind of a doctor would I be, if I had not mentioned the following lifestyle changes to consider:
-Nutrition: the what is just as significant as the how
The what: limit salt, sugar & red meat,  eat a “rainbow” of vegetables and fruits, go for healthier carbs & nuts, drink plenty of water
The how: mindfully, without TV, enjoy and talk to others
– Exercise: 30 min/day moderate, aerobic exercise (which means not being able to talk with ease) & weight bearing (yoga, pilates, weight-lifting)
– Sleep: 7-9 hrs/d is considered physiological.
Take care of your sleep hygiene, i.e. avoid exercise, alcohol, smoking, caffeine at least 2 hrs before going to bed. Control the sleeping environment, combat cognitive hyperactivity with breathing or meditation.

I was just chilling in bed when I had suddenly noticed in the background some guys watching TV. And not just anything… It was time for a Champions League game (for the blondies, the uninterested, and the I-got-better-shit-to-do-with-my-life kind of people, this is an article about music and a football game). No, I apologise… Not just A game, The game: Barcelona Vs Bayern München. When living in Germany, you come to realise -fairly quicly- that football and beer are deeply hearted in the culture, one of the similarities between  Germany and home.  ^^
How do I know it was the Champions League? – the Champions League Anthem of course! “What an amazing theme! Power, energy, inspiration!”, I thought to myself. Just what anyone needs to get the adrenaline on the road cruising! Soon a guy started singing: “Die Beeeeesten”. I immediately thought to myself again: “Wow! I must have listened to this a hundred times and I never thought there were lyrics to it!” To be fair, I could only distinguish “The Chaaaampions” part but I thought that was that really.
Curious as I am and in hopes that this will be a good investment in impressing a guy in the future, I did what anyone with Internet access would do nowadays: googled it and then wikied it… With lyrics written by Tony Britten and the adopted 1727-music from Georg Friedrich Händel’s coronation anthem for King George II (Zadoc the Priest), the Champions League Anthem was performed by London’s Philarmonic Orchestra and sung by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chorus in 1992.
This piece of magnificent motivational music belongs now to my playlist amongst others. Waking up to this really lifts me up, gives me confidence and sets my minset ready to play the game of life in a football field where everyone is watching, with the ultimate goal to prevail, take action and win!
There is nothing better than music that lifts you up and speaks to your heart. So spend the time throughout life and collect it. If beautiful memories come to mind when listening to a song, or if it simply resonates with you, then you know it is a keeper!
Patients diagnosed with dementia are advised to -of course, among other therapeutical options- go for music therapy, in particular “preferred music” (personalised music the person enjoys). This can be helpful for the patients and the caregivers, especially when the demented are suffering from behavior-changing symptoms (agitation, anxiety). This form of psychosocial intervention is used to stimulate the brain and remind them of beautiful memories, and eventually calm them down.
Having a grandmother who suffered from dementia, I wonder… “Could this be me being proactive and stimulating my brain already?” I don’t know… Probably… But it is fun for me anyway, so I will keep looking for and singing music like this for as long as I can 🙂 And so can we all!
90 minutes later the game had ended, 3:0. My drunken neighbours were singing songs of comfort and solace for their team, Bayern München. And I? Well, I am still stuck with the Champions League Anthem:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mf9LUNB-JsM
Ce sont les meilleures équipes
Sie sind die allerbesten Mannschaften
The main event
Die Meister
Die Besten
Les Grandes Équipes
The Champions
Une grande réunion
Eine große sportliche Veranstaltung
The main event
Ils sont les meilleurs
Sie sind die Besten
These are the champions
Chorus (2x):
Die Meister
Die Besten
Les Grandes Équipes
The Champions

The most important health habits I have been accommodating to for the past years for my body have been really helpful for my energy levels and health. By sharing them I hope to give you a small insight to my world. Feel free to take up any that suit your lifestyle or any that you feel are important to your bodily organism. The reasons behind them are simple and one does not need to put much thought into it. For the scientific brainwacks out there, I plan to explain why I do what I do on another post in more detail 🙂 .
So, let’s get to it! The main habits include:
1. Drinking 2 glasses of Evian water every morning
2. Doing some kind of exercise in the morning to wake up my body, and then once again, focusing on an area that I want to improve, 2 hours before going to bed
3. Enjoying quality coffee and tea at moderate dosages (2 of each per day on average)
4. Avoiding and eliminating for months whites (mainly bread stuff and sugar)
5. Eating 2-5 of my favorite seasonal fruits or vegetables every day, eating nuts and dried fruits on moderation and salmon at least 1 time every 2 weeks
6. Moisturising my skin every day, doing a face and body peeling once a week, applying a face and neck mask once a week for hydration, cutting my hair every 3 months, using an avocado cream or pure coconut oil every week for my hair ends, taking care of my nails once a week with olive oil after I have cut or filed them.
7. No alcohol, no smoking
I must admit I do have trouble following through sometimes, especially with the habits I must stop. I find myself not being able to resist chocolate cookies at times or crave for shisha smoking with friends 😛 . What I remind myself though in those weak moments is: “I CAN have it. I CHOOSE NOT to. I WANT it. I do NOT NEED it.” That keeps me strong 95% of the time. I would describe it as a consant battle I guess between emotion and logic. Think about it: What must win for the best of you?

A patient of mine, diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease some time ago, gave me this little 61-page book as a gift. It’s a book with words of wisdom – or “Kleine Weisheiten” as they say in German, or WOW as I call it  😉 .
Being it my first gift from a patient at the time, I was truly surprised and in that moment felt more grateful for my job and patients than I have ever been before. I gave her a long hug, tried to hold back on the emotional thunderstorm coming over me, wished her all the best, and every now and then I say a little prayer for her when the corner of my eyes catches the book.
Caring for patients like that and working with colleagues that truly care, truly appreciate how much of yourself you invest into your working life, is a present itself. I guess it is the positive affirmation, the “pat on the back”, the “you saved my life” kind of moments I personally need to keep me going, even if I do so little.
I am grateful to have such support from people I barely know and from people that barely know me. So I guess a small exercise for today, before we go to bed, is to think back -no need to go far, going back to the last 24 hours will do- and check with ourselves:
1. Who has supported me, who has helped me, who has been there for me, who honestly appreciates me?
2. How and why did they show their support? Was it something they said or did?
3. How and why did I feel in that moment?
4. How can I give back or give more?
Finally, say “Thank you” from the deepest part of your mind, heart and soul to ALL of them, because if it weren’t for them, would you be feeling so overwhelmed and proud of yourself right now?
Now it is your turn: How do you contribute? How do you give back to yourself, your body, mind and spirit? How do you contribute at home? With your family? With your children? At work? To friends, your husband or special other?

Want something more in one or more aspects of your life?

Are you open, honest, and willing to take life to the next level?

Are you ready to take responsibility for your own life and turn things around?

I’ve been where you’ve been! Trust me! The road is long and challenging but coaching makes the ride smoother, faster, cheaper and worth the while!
I’m an NMC Life Coaching Diploma accredited coach, with experience in neurolinguistic programming (NLP), and the President of Coaching Support Group in Basel, Switzerland. I’ll help guide you to achieve your desired outcomes!

This is NOT for you, if you:

– want advice and expect me to tell you what to do- this ain’t mentoring, therapy or counseling.

– ‘ve got it ALL figure out.

– ‘re happy with your life as is.

– ‘re not ready to take your life to the next level.

– blame everyone for what happens/-ed in your life.

– ‘re not ready to take responsibility and accountability for your actions &/or decisions.

– ‘re suffering from a mental disorder, diagnosed by a pro MD.

– ‘re below 18.

In this case, PLEASE do us both a favor and find someone else.

Otherwise, go ahead and book you coaching sesh now.

Growing up I remember of fond memories. Dancing around, teaching to people that remained in my imagination, jumping on the bed and singing to my Celine Dion favourite “I drove all niiight to get to you“. Loads of fun and, yes, people thought I was weird but who cares? One memory that resurfaced on the golden pink sand of my thoughts in the past couple of days that helps me make some sense in my journey of aspiring to be a writer was an assignment we had in fourth grade.

It was pretty much straight forward to most. “The traditional games of my country”. The first thoughts that went into MY head: “I don’t know dude! What are you looking for? This is so vast! Where do I begin? What do you want from me?” Although I was overwhelmed, I had to remind myself that it was just an assignment, and I was doomed to write it anyways. Call it my need to get a good grade (which was highly unlikely with the frowny 60 year old teacher I had back then), my need to prove myself to me, my need to not attract unnecessary attention from my parents (they had enough to deal with already), my duty. So I convinced myself “Sabrina, stop it with the “Why me?” thoughts already and get it done!”. I guess I intuitively knew, the faster I could write it, the faster I could go create drama scenarios with my Barbie dolls.

Once I got home, I got my white, lined notebook with the typical “Δεν ξεχνώ και αγωνίζομαι”, translated “I don’t forget and I fight” pictures, I wrote the title of the essay, underlined it carefully and looked at it.

The staring didn’t stop unfortunately. It kept going for a couple of seconds. The seconds turned into minutes and the minutes turned into hours! I had been staring at this piece of blank page for a looooong time. It felt endless and confusing, not knowing where to start. I tried to make a list, trust me! But what was I supposed to write about? Barbie Dolls? I wouldn’t dare! How would I describe the shameless, soap opera and sometimes PG 18+ scenes going on during my playtime? Plus, Barbie Dolls couldn’t have been a game of my country; “Barbie sounds so exotic, someone from the Caribbean”, I told myself.

In the end, I decided to let the notebook be. Ken had swooped me off my feet. My imaginary audience couldn’t wait for the next episode of the Barbie series. And then I got distracted with a book, then some music… I was doing everything BUT the assignment and I absolutely freaking enjoyed it! It was sooo much fun to do anything I wanted, to be free and rebellious!

And suddenly, there it was. The sound of the keys turning on the front door. My mom was home from work. I knew I was in trouble… And it must have been quite late because I could still hear the newsman in the background of the 20 o’ clock news broadcast coming up. I made my way slowly and quietly downstairs, ready to eat. My grandpa was entering the kitchen at the same time, which kind of helped my momentary, embarrassing inability to make eye contact go unnoticed.

We started having dinner, when the dreading question came up. “Sabrina, did you finish your homework?”. In all fairness, it was a surprising question. My mom trusted most of the times that I would have done my homework, so she BARELY ever asked. But I guess mom’s know everything, don’t they? Disappointed and embarrassed I got caught red-handed, I had no choice to come clean. With a whispering hesitating voice, I managed to say “No… I need help with an essay.”

Before I knew it, I was staring at the same white page, with light blue lines and that frustrating title: “The traditional games of my country”. Once my mom saw the title, she gave me the best idea ever: “Here’s your grandpa! Ask him!” And so I did. The interview wasn’t planned, and started off really shallow, boring and rather cold. I knew my grandpa was more interested in watching the news rather than answering my ever-ending questions about what each game was called, why was it called liked that, how it was played, what was its goal… Looking back, I was Curious Sabrina Her Majesty back then. Eventually, I could win him over with personalising my questions to him, like asking him which games he used to play and which one was his favourite game growing up. Once we were both engaged, I stopped making notes. I started writing directly and filling up the light blue lines.

I was aware that we were supposed to fill a maximum of 2 pages of the notebook and at first I was thinking of writing bigger letters to fill up the space and be done sooner. With all this beautiful, new information from another era, though, I couldn’t see myself stopping nor caring about stopping or sticking to the rules. I guess I was being creatively naughty and rebellious, yet again. I will never forget that night. In retrospect, this was the first time I can now remember of connecting with my grandpa and the ability of flow. I didn’t care how late it was, I didn’t care I was tired, I didn’t care I was 7 pages too deep. All I could care about, was the engagement, the energy, the flow, the curiosity and the ability to travel with the power of someone else’s words and stories to their own reality, to different world. In a magical way my grandpa’s stories that night were my first imagination time-travel. “That’s enough”, my mom said when she noticed that it was a wee bit too late for me. To be honest, I don’t remember writing a proper, thoughtful ending, as if I unwillingly didn’t want to put an end to it.

The next morning I handed in my assignment. I was scared to littlest ear bone of my skeleton because I knew I had written too much and I was too tired to re-read all 12 pages, that I just handed in the original work. “Most of it won’t make any sense to him anyways”, I convinced myself and exited the classroom for the scheduled break.

The days went by and I had forgotten about the essay. Honestly, I think I must have had the emotional memory of a fish as a child. Now, I do remember, I was not paying attention in class, when that same teacher called my name in class. “Sabrina”, he said. My thoughts were interrupted and I had know idea what was going on. I looked at him surprised, hoping that he hadn’t realised I was paying more attention to the unicorns and witches in my brain.

In my 25 years of teaching”, he exclaimed, “I have given 2 As, and the last one was 10 years ago”. I was like, “You shitting me? What’s this guy expecting from a bunch of 10 year olds?”. He went on, “Today, I’m proud to give a well-deserved A once again. This written art has taken me back and I thank you for that. Sabrina, can you please come here and read your work out loud?”

In my head, I was lost. And stunned. And humbled. And weirdly calm, peaceful and confident. That’s the moment, that’s the story I know now that makes me writer.