Essential Oils and German Sales

For a while now, I have been using essential oils around the house in place of OTC remedies. I got into them through my sister in the US, who was selling them as a sort of side venture. She teaches yoga as her main job. After talking about the oils to all and sundry, and having friends and strangers ask me how they could get them, I decided that I might as well try to make a bit of money to cover my oil “habit.” I have had some success, but I have also learned a lot about how Germans view money, sales, and commitments over the past few months.

I had assumed it would be really easy to get the oils business moving here. People are very open to alternative, natural treatments. My regular GP often offers me homeopathic and plant-based remedies before she gives me the “real” drugs. And it is true, most Germans that I know are very interested in essential oils, especially when they see how well they are working for us. When my older girls had issues with ADD and concentration years ago here in Germany, the therapist (and psychiatrist) quickly offered them various versions of ritalin, which surprised me. We were sort of desparate at the time, but the medicine was not a great choice for either of them. Now we are battling those issues with an oil mixture. I have had huge problems with sleeping in the past year or two. In Ireland the first thing they did was offer me sleeping pills. Here we tried all sorts of other approaches first. When it all failed, I finally was able to get a prescription for Ambien, but only if I promised to take it no more than once a week. I get it. I don’t want to fill my body with chemicals and I certainly don’t want to do the same with my kids. So I am trying something else. And I was never a believer in the homeopathic remedies, for example.  Continue reading

Playing Monk in Switzerland

It’s unusual for me to find that it’s my turn to blog and not have a topic or two that I’m bursting to write about. When that happens, I virtually leaf through Spiegel online and its English section, The Local and Deutsche Welle. My Facebook feed also sometimes triggers some inspiration, so the common piece of news that has led me to today’s topic is Switzerland’s vote to reinstate an immigrant quota.

I’m not actually setting out to discuss this disturbing vote, but I’ll summarize it here: basically, a very narrow majority of Swiss (50.3%), mostly in the rural German parts of the country, have bought in to the fears that Switzerland will become overcrowded if they don’t put a cap on the number of foreigners coming in. That cap has been set to 80,000 immigrants. The short-sighted truth is that these voters succumbed to some scare-mongering thinking that these immigrants were only refugees, migrant workers and benefit-sucking immigrants. Sadly, Switzerland’s history of keeping refugees out is just as disturbing today as it was during the Holocaust. 284,200 Germans currently live in Switzerland. That’s second to Italians. As Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has said, this referendum is going to “cause a lot of problems for Switzerland.” Continue reading

Strengthening my German Core

One of my earliest challenges of post-partum life in America was searching for an equivalent of Rückbildungsgymnastik here in America or post-partum pelvic floor training. (There’s no easy translation.) The likes of Stroller Strides and specialized pre- and post-natal personal trainers who could help burn all of that baby fat were easy enough to find, and while I wouldn’t mind losing the 3-month bulge which might raise an eyebrow of “is she or isn’t she” to a stranger, the only similarity that these exercises share to Rückbildungsgymnastik is the post-partum descriptor.  Continue reading

They don’t teach you those words in German class

I enrolled in an intensive course (a must-have when you plan to live in a foreign country and need to assimilate, FAST) within three weeks of moving to Germany. It met five days a week, five hours a day. The learning curve was steep. It was great. Within two months I was able to speak to the Turkish girls in my class who didn’t know any English. That was a rewarding day, when we realized we could speak almost freely with each other. It was easy to make friends after that point.

When you take an intensive course, you learn what you will need to function in your new country of residence. You learn a lot of daily vocabulary. You learn how to grocery shop. You learn telling the time and reading bus schedules. You don’t learn Graphic Design language. And you most certainly don’t learn Yoga language.

As someone who currently teaches English for a language school and understands how the classes and teacher assignments work, I know that I can’t just sign up (or even ask) for a “Yoga German” class. These are highly specialized in terms of subject matter, and there’s just too great a chance that I’ll get a teacher who has never practiced yoga and is teaching out of a yoga deck of cards. It’s way easier, and cheaper, to do the self-study in this case. Continue reading