Category Archives: Challenges

Responses to daily prompts and various writing and photo challenges.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Refraction

Hohensyburg ruins near Dortmund, Germany
Hohensyburg ruins near Dortmund, Germany

Seeing light refracted through treetops is one of the most peaceful and comforting experiences for me.


Gluten-free in the Eternal City – Week 8

Last week the translation work kicked into gear again. Yes, that’s right, after almost three weeks of delays, schedule changes, and week-long radio silences from the contractor, we’re now finally back on track and it looks like I might be able to finish all the work in time for the August 3 deadline. I’ve been feeling very productive and useful, and happy to find out that my work might be handsomely rewarded even sooner than I initially thought (next month).

On the other hand, me being swamped with work resulted in less exercise and a less-than-clean household, Oh well. It also temporarily prevents me from setting a couple other, smaller goals, but they’re always in the back of my mind, and if I find time to do them although they’re not on the weekly list, so much the better.

So this is how I did last week:

1. Continue exercising at least 3x a week in any way I can. → Did one home workout, and not much else. The weather got to be unbearably hot, precluding my usual long walks around the city. Also, we have no A/C in the apartment, and exercise in such sweltering heat did not feel particularly auspicious. I had a brief walk and an afternoon spent in a park yesterday, but that was about it.

2. Continue gluten-free, clean and healthy. → On this point I feel particularly pleased and proud of myself. I continue to feel nothing but good effects from my dietary restrictions, but I might need to add some vitamin supplements into the mix, especially with the combination of more work and exercise ahead of me. Despite bombarding my body with fresh fruit and veggies every day, my immune system seems to be dipping for some reason. It’s a well-established fact, however, that no amount of healthy food can give your body all the vitamins and minerals it needs, and you need to supplement from time to time.

3. Avoid giving myself negative points. → After starting the week all positive and bubbly, my stomach suddenly bloated up to 3-months-pregnant status in what I suspect and hope to be pre-period preparations. But instead of taking it in stride as something that normally occurs to me, I heaped copius amounts of insults and self-disgust on my body. I calmed down after a couple days, but I’ve obviously still not learnt to accept my new German protruding tummy status.

4. Clean any of the windows while the shitty weather lasts. → Nope. And now I’ve got work as the perfect excuse.

5. Think about introducing a health/fitness category to the blog. Just think about it and maybe put down a few ideas. → Did just that – thought about it. And will continue to think some more, until I alight on an idea that strikes me as both fun and viable. So far, I’ve thought about writing gluten-free meal plans/suggestions, recommending certain brands and products, reporting on my culinary successes, describing my exercise routine(s), and just generally ranting about food. If any of you out there are interested in the same topic and would like to read about these and similar fitness/health oriented topics, please leave me some feedback in the comments below, I’d really appreciate it.

Building Rome – Week 8:

1. Continue exercising at least 3x a week in any way I can.

2. Continue gluten-free, clean and healthy.

3. Avoid giving myself negative points.

4. Clean up sections of the house, bit by bit. 

What are your goals for this week? Let me know so I can cheer you on. This is how some of my pals here have been doing:

Sharing my world – Week 28

Sorry I didn’t make last week’s post, Cee, although I thought the questions were really great. Here’s to another week of sharing.

Have you ever been a participant in a parade? What did you do?

No. I went to a couple parades during my time in the States, and was bored out of my skull. I’m sorry, my American friends, but I fail to see the point of those things.

If you were handed free opera tickets, would you go or sell them? Why?

I’ve loved opera from a very young age, and at one point even had a box seat at the Croatian National Theatre. So, of course I would go if I had a free ticket. Finding somebody to go with me, however, would probably prove difficult. 🙂

Why did you start your blog?

Hmmm, a few different reasons. I started out with the idea of writing a travel blog because I’ve been traveling quite extensively in the past 10 years, but I soon realized that I wanted to write about more than just where I’d been (although that still remains one of the basic tenets of my blog), and that I also *needed* the writing as an outlet. I spent the greater part of my life writing, starting from an early age, and I’d stopped doing it altogether around 2006, when I entered the world of work. I felt like I was missing an important part of who I am, so that’s how I got here.

What is your favorite tradition?

I was brought up in a household of very few traditions. There are two I remember most dinstinctly and fondly from my childhood: going out with my father every Sunday, he to play footbal with his friends, me to play with those friends’ kids, and then coming back home for lunch which my mom had meanwhile prepared; and putting up the Christmas tree and decorations on Christmas Eve. The latter survived until this day, and is probably my only proper tradition. Now that I’m building a new home, in a new country, and with a new man, any traditions we might have are yet to be created.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m grateful for the company of open-minded people and the opportunity to travel and see new places.

I’m looking forward to sorting out my administrative paperwork here in Germany, and hopefully bringing my translation work nearer the end.

Not all roads to Rome are gluten-free – Week 7

I’ve been away for 4 days and now I’m slowly catching up with y’all’s comments, posts, and progress. Some really nice comments have been coming in in response to last week’s BR post, and I have to say it gives me great pleasure to meet new people taking part in this challenge and cheering them on. It helps me come out of my little shell/bubble seeing other people striving for the same goal – we’re all just trying to take charge of our lives and make them better, one step at a time. And some of you have made significant progress since the last time I checked on you, so – yay us! 🙂

Last week’s big piece of news was the announced attempt to weed out gluten from my diet. I’m happy to say not only that I haven’t given up on the whole concept, but that I’ve actually started to embrace it whole-heartedly. That said, my attempts got screwed up during the weekend when we were away to celebrate a friend’s birthday in a remote corner of Eastern Germany where the word ‘gluten’ still hasn’t entered the locals’ vocabulary. We were staying in the Best Western hotel chain, but gluten-free was not an option, especially not for the buffet breakfast. This wouldn’t have posed so much of a problem if we hadn’t also been set up to go canoeing/kayaking for the whole day on Saturday, which meant I really had to get a lot of food and carbs in me for breakfast. So I did what had to be done, and chose not to dwell on it or give myself negative points for something wholly out of my control.

So, back to Western capitalist civilization :), it’s far easier to find gluten-free options. I’m trying out a couple different brands available here to see whose products appeal to me the most. Also, thanks to Instagram and Twitter, I discovered a British brand called Freego ( which delivers in Europe, and they have some amazing looking things that I’m dying to try out. Of course, it’s not cheap to go gluten-free, but it’s also true that we find ourselves cutting out some of the other food options that we’d been spending money on before, and which were not healthy at all – salty snacks, bakery products, sweets – so it all balances out in the end. I would definitely say we’re not spending more on food now with this regimen change. And my boyfriend has decided to join me in the effort – he’s severely reduced his gluten intake and might even go all the way with me.

So this is the update on last week’s goals:

1. Continue to try and get exercise at least 3x a week, be it in the form of pilates, home workout or long walk. → I didn’t do any home workouts last week, but I went for a long walk twice, and spent Saturday canoeing, which gave me enough muscle pain to not feel bad at all about skipping the workouts.

2. Try and eat as cleanly as possible – no gluten, reduced dairy intake, more fresh fruit and veggies, healthy snacks, simple treats. → Apart from the weekend getaway mentioned above, I found it very easy to stick to this point. Especially now that so many delicious fruits and veggies are in season, it’s super easy to surround myself with healthy options and not feel bad about anything I eat. I also noticed that, with the reduced gluten intake, I eat smaller portions, feel less hungry, and consequently eat less in general. I honestly don’t feel like I’m depriving myself of anything.

3. Avoid giving myself negative points. → Once again, I feel like I did very well on this point. Ever since I made the dietary change and started exercising regularly, I have fewer reasons to find fault with myself.

Building Rome – Week 7 (“You are far too smart to be the only thing standing in your way”):

1.  Continue exercising at least 3x a week in any way I can.

2. Continue gluten-free, clean and healthy.

3. Avoid giving myself negative points.

4. Clean any of the windows while the shitty weather lasts.

5. Think about introducing a health/fitness category to the blog. Just think about it and maybe put down a few ideas.

Have you decided to change anything about your life lately? Do you have any goals for this week? Any interesting gluten-free recipe suggestions/recommendations? Let me know so I can commiserate, share and cheer you on!

Other people striving to do better:

Building a Gluten-Free Rome – Week 6

Running a bit late with this week’s goals as I’ve been swamped with work. Last week all work on the translation project suddenly stopped (and nobody answered my emails for 5 days so I didn’t know what was going on) and I found myself relaxing and having again more time for myself, which I used well. I read more, devised a complete workout plan, went for long walks, caught up with a few friends from home, and had a lovely weekend. Since Monday, however, the translation work has been up again, and I should stay busy until the end of the month.

Another thing that came to pass was the decision to drastically reduce my gluten intake. It didn’t really happen overnight, as I’ve been trying to figure out what my diet should be for the past few months, especially since I started gaining weight, and am now sporting a belly (wish it was beer!) and bra bulges that I’ve never had before in my life. I’ve also been struggling with indigestion, bloatedness, and overall swelling, heart palpitations and shortness of breath after meals, and other minor fun stuff. So I’ve been messing around with food, trying to figure out which type of food was bothering me the most, how long it took me to get hungry after a full meal… hence the food diary that I mentioned in my previous post.

So after much pondering, consulting, observing, and weighing of options, as well as some useful pointers from a friend who suffers from some of the same things, I figured I should try and eliminate gluten from my diet. I didn’t say right away that I would go completely gluten-free because I know myself well: if I try to go cold turkey on something, it usually doesn’t end well. But if I give myself a bit of time to get adjusted to a different set of ideas and habits, I have a better chance of success. I’ve started on this journey only two days ago so of course I don’t have any tangible results, but what I can honestly say is that I feel slightly better, even if only mentally: I’m not so bloated, I haven’t had cravings, I’ve eaten less. Let’s see how it goes. Of course, I’ll keep you posted on my progress and results.

This was last week:

1. Continue to try and get exercise at least 3x a week, be it in the form of pilates, home workout or long walk. → Yep! I worked out at home twice (with my newly designed total body workout), and I went for two 2-hour walks.

2. Clean the living room windows. → The only honest-to-god reason I didn’t do this is that the sun shone so brightly every single day of the week (and you can’t clean your windows in bright, direct sunlight), and by the evening I was busy doing other stuff. Then the deluge-like rain started on Saturday and has been going on non-stop ever since, making the whole attempt pointless. And since we’re away for the weekend, it’ll have to be left for next week. No biggie, really.

3. Avoid giving myself negative points. → Here I did as well as last week, no worse and no better I think. The fact that I can’t remember specific instances of beating myself up for something is already saying much.

Building Rome – Week 6:

1. Continue to try and get exercise at least 3x a week, be it in the form of pilates, home workout or long walk.

2. Try and eat as cleanly as possible – no gluten, reduced dairy intake, more fresh fruit and veggies, healthy snacks, simple treats.

3. Avoid giving myself negative points.


Sharing my world – Week 26

Sorry for the late entry, Cee, I wasn’t feeling the writing this week.

Is your refrigerator organized or a mess inside?

I’d say it’s pretty organized because we have to keep it that way – it’s too small for the two of us. Looking forward to getting a nice big fridge so I can forget a veggie or wrapped up leftovers at the back of it.

If you could be famous for one thing, what would it be?

I don’t really know that I’d want to be famous in the first place, but I guess it’d be ok to be famous for inventing something useful and helpful in everyday life.

What one thing have you not done that you really want to do?

I’ve never fired a gun, and I’ve always wanted to try my hand at a shooting range. Not that I feel like I need the skill in my normal life, it’s just a marksmanship thing.

Where do you eat breakfast?

These days, at the dining room table, while I check my emails, blog and social media. I used to eat in bed whenever I could, especially while I lived alone, but it doesn’t seem like an appealing idea where I live now.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m grateful to have finally gotten my vindication over the inert, inept and illiterate HR department of my future employer, who are now realizing there are no, and there never had been, any barriers to hiring me.

I’m looking forward to going away to a lake region in east Germany next weekend to celebrate a friend’s birthday. I hope the weather holds out.

In Rome – Week 5

This is how I did last week.

1. Maintain a 3x per week exercise schedule for the duration of the translation gig (appr. 2 weeks). It can be either pilates or workouts at home, or a combination of both. I only worked out once, at home on Saturday, after I was finished with my first deadline. I was exhausted beyond belief after pulling 10 hours a day and wading through 30 pages of badly written text with sentences running on for 5-6 lines. Then on Sunday, of course, I was so sore I could barely move. But at least I walked for 4 hours yesterday, so I feel I haven’t done too badly for such a gruelling week. And hey, I held out for 20 seconds doing the plank! (May not seem like much, but for me it’s a huge milestone.)

2. Publish 2 posts per week. I did 3 again, thanks to the weekly photo challenge.

3.  Avoid giving myself negative points. This one was tough as usual, but I think I did pretty well. I did berate myself a bit for letting some work-related stuff get to me and taking it personally, but I got over it pretty quickly by just focusing on the work ahead.

4. Read at least a few pages every day. → There were a couple nights when I was so exhausted that my eyes closed as soon as my head hit the pillow, but the important thing for me is just to finish the book at some point, no pressure.

This week’s theme is Metamorphosis, and boy isn’t that appropriate in my case. Although to be honest, the whole point of this challenge for me is metamorphosis, but it could also be the catchphrase for my life in the past few years, so as far as I’m concerned, metamorphosis is every week’s theme. 🙂

Building Rome – Week 5:

1. Continue to try and get exercise at least 3x a week, be it in the form of pilates, home workout or long walk.

2. Clean the living room windows.

3. Avoid giving myself negative points.

I wanna feel the change consume me
Feel the outside turning in

I wanna the feel the metamorphosis
And cleansing I’ve endured in
My shadow