Thank you all so, so much for being so happy with me about the finishing of my thesis! I still cannot believe it is done (I am slooooooooowwwww ), and I am also still completely exhausted. I feel as if a mill stone has been taken from me, and now I realize how much I have been squashed into mash underneath it. I feel somewhat detached from everything around me.

Right now, it is just half past 10 pm over here, and I am on my way to bed already. Very unlikely for me – usually, I go to bed long past midnight. I even fell asleep in the tram today, and I was constantly freezing (what always happens when I am tired), so I will just acknowledge these signs and get some rest. (Please notice the learning progress that has taken place with things like signs and rest during the past months! )

And of course, life is going to go on with a vengeance soon again. I still have my remaining final exams to take, but before that, I have a piano recital next weekend for which I have been preparing as well during the past weeks, and some research projects that want to be taken care of. I am very excited about that! So you see, I will not get bored or wonder what to do with my free time. Too many plans!

For now, I will leave you with this beautiful little short movie my friend recently showed me. She told me that she had to think of me immediately when she watched it (and we have never even met in real life), and that she thought I might like it. And I did! I more than liked it, actually – I absolutely loved it. It probably is one of the most wonderful and touching things I have ever seen, and it made me cry (every single time of the 20 or so times I have watched it so far – this is from somebody who usually cries once every 5 years or so, on the average). I love the music, the design, and the story.

The little movie is called “The Silence beneath the Bark”, congenial to the silence I currently feel within myself. It tells about the trees … I hope you like it as well!

Now, it is bed time for me. Sleep well or have a happy day, wherever you are!

I am back home – back to the cosiness of my own place, the otherwordly clarity, tenderness, and complexity of sound my grand piano delights me with, and a nice surprise.

Actually, I am not the biggest fan of surprises – the idea of being in a situation and not having the slightest idea of what to expect, plus being under the pressure to react immediately and adequately to it and not being able to get away … No, thank you. Also, what pleases the one frightens the other, and many things other people may find or consider pleasing – “Hey, look, I baked a cake for you, and I want you to try it immediately!” ”Whee, we have a surprise party at your place!” ”I thought I would just come over, isn’t that a great idea?” – elicit a strong need of playing dead with me.

Moving on …

This surprise was a really nice one. If you have read my blog long enough, you may remember that I have quite the serious humidity problem in my apartment. In other words: My apartment is wet. Rainforest, washkitchen wet. This is not only uncomfortable and unhealthy for myself (I was starting to develop breathing issues), but it also gradually wrecks my grand piano – accoustic pianos do not like a high humidity of 70 % or above, and that was what I constantly had in my apartment.

~ at least it did not rain from the ceiling ~

The reason for this is that I live in an old house which is not optimally insulated. One of my neighbors just moved out because her apartment was full of mold, and she had to throw away half of her furniture because it was mildewed. Another one has mold in her kitchen and another room – this is the one I spoke about changing apartments with, but it turned out her apartment was no better than my own. At least I do not have mold, for some reason, probably because I air properly.

By recommendation of my piano tuner, I had bought a dehydrator a year ago, to go against the humidity. With having it run 24/7, and fetching 10 to 15 liters of water from my living room air every day (!), I got the humidity down to a nice mid 50 %. Over the months, I realized that the amount of water was gradually decreasing, and while I had to empty the water container twice a day in the beginning, I was down to twice a week in the end. I think that I somewhat dried out the complete apartment because there was not so much water coming after anymore. My landlady, however, did not believe me and said it was just due to the weather, and while that plays a role as well, it is not a sufficient explanation, since summer, autumn, and winter were very rainy this year.

Anyway, the ultimate test of whether or not I would have to consider a move was my two weeks of absence (and not dehydrating) during the Christmas holidays. I actually expected to come back to a washkitchen again. But when I opened the door, my apartment awaited me warm and dry, and the hygrometer showed incredible 49 % humidity.

~ this is almost too low ~

So it seems that I can stay in my apartment. This is nice because I really like my apartment, and for Heidelberg standards, the rent is very cheap – I could easily pay a much higher rent for an apartment half the size. However, the utilities make it rather expensive again: My energy company just sent me the most horrible electricity back pay bill I have ever seen in my entire life, and also increased my monthly energy expense. But anyway, if I moved, I would most likely end up with housing costs comparable to my current ones (lower utilities but higher rent) and a smaller or very peripheral apartment, and it is not easy to find an apartment suitable for a grand piano anyway, not to mention all the additional costs and stress coming from moving itself. So I will just stay here.

I also love that this apartment has a big kitchen.

I hope you all had a happy and smooth transition! I started into the new year with a new haircut , a sinus infection , and some plans and wishes for the upcoming year . I am very excited about this next part of this year because this year will bring a lot of changes in my personal and professional life, with me finally transitioning from studying to working life, and many of my friends certainly or probably moving away and scattering across the planet.

My last New Year’s resolutions were centered around getting eating and nutrition right, finishing my studies, improving my piano skills, caring better for myself, educating myself in areas of interest, and keeping up blogging. Looking back it is time to strike a balance.


I can happily say that I did pretty well on this one: During the course of the past year, I more and more developed a sense of which foods to eat (in which proportions) and which foods to avoid to feel healthy and energized, and so I start this year with a feeling of knowing how to feed my body.

Moreover, my stomach and gut have recovered after cutting out dairy, gluten, soy protein, sugar, and “white” carbs, although it took many months, and I could carefully widen my food spectrum and reintroduce foods that used to give me cramps before – legumes, brown rice, and kale. I am looking forward to continuing this adventure into the world of real food. This is the kind of experimenting I like.


Ahhhhh … Not finished yet. In the end, everything took much longer than expected, and due to having (several) side jobs – research assistance work in two departments, statistics tutorials, and piano lessons – I often did not have sufficient time and energy to work on my thesis as much as I would have liked to. However, 100 pages are written and re-edited already, and additionally, there already exist an extended references list and several appendices and graphics to insert in the end.

I think there are about 30 to 50 more pages to write, due to the large amount of statistical analyses I conducted with the data, and then the whole thing will finally be finished. With the final exams still to come afterwards, I will need some more months to graduate, but that is okay.


This one was fine as well – surprise surprise! Admittedly, I did not start to play Bach as I wanted, but I learned a couple of new pieces and refreshed some old ones, and also my technique and touch have improved a lot. Things I found very challenging in my first years of playing come rather easily to me now, and I also learn a lot and take great pleasure in teaching piano lessons myself. Based on principles of learning and memory psychology I know from my psychology studies, research into piano practicing and playing techniques, and the knowledge and experience of my wonderful piano teacher, I have developed a quite unique style of teaching which focuses on how to practice with efficiency, and also contains elements of tai-chi (inspired by my own piano teacher) and mindfulness practice. This teaching style I then adjust regarding to my students’ individual needs and current state of playing, and I am happy to say that they enjoy the lessons a lot and learn very well.


I got better with this, but there is still room for improvement. Overall though, I have learned to relax and to handle stress better. My bathtub may or may not have played a major role in this …

Anyway, I still have to listen more to my body when to stop. Especially by the end of the last year, there was a lot of work and social events going on, and I ended up with a migraine shortly before going home for Christmas. This is the ultimate sign that it is too much. I also think that I may have developed something like a body memory for exhaustion over the years, so I have to be careful not to slip back into that state of burn-out I have been in until less than two years ago – I tend to be more susceptible to exhaustion now than earlier in my life, but I know that, by learning myself well and applying good self-management strategies, I can be productive at a high-quality level. Saying “no” more often, and learning to let go of my ideal of perfection and not to feel responsible for everything, seem to be the next steps into the right direction.


I have not done this to the extend I would have liked, but to some extend. Thankfully, due to my profession, I somewhat have a warranty for constant learning, but I would like to widen the scope and read more about things which are not on the current to-do list.

Topics which I have deepened my knowledge on are psychometrics, social cognition, language and communication, self-concept and identity, motivation, and nutrition. However, some more reading in general would be nice …


As you can see, this blog still exists, and I am happy to still be in contact with my beautiful blogging friends. A big thank you again to all of you, because without your help, I would have never been able to collect so many participants for my diploma thesis study!

On the other hand, my post counts of the past months and my very reduced blog-reading and commenting almost fill me with shame. Now that I have more time for blogging during the holidays, I realize again how happy it makes me to be a more active part of this wonderful community.

* * * * *

So you see, the balance of last year is a little mixed, but rather positive overall. It is time to announce my plan for the new year! (You may have guessed it from my blog title already …) In a nutshell, it is this.


Why work-play balance and not work-life balance, as it is usually called? Well, playing is important for a healthy and fulfilling life! Moreover, playing contains activities you take pleasure in, while life can very well be nasty sometimes, regardless of whether that is related to work or not. And work can also be satisfying, actually, if it is work that suits you. But in this juxtaposition, on the “work” side there is everything that has to be done, while on the “play” side there is everything that is voluntary and fun. I could also have called it “should-want balance”. However, both sides are a potential source of happiness, but in different ways: Happiness coming from the work side is satisfaction due to getting things done, while happiness coming from the play side is joy due to engaging in blissful activities, just for their own sake. The balance is important to experience both kinds of happiness in life.

Most of my life, the scales always inclined towards the work side, and playing came short given everything that had to be done. From now on, I want to try my best to keep the scales more balanced, what means: More time for blissful activities!

The idea for this, I have to admit, does not originate with me but rather with my family. As it were to give me a broad hint, for my birthday this year, I got a package from my parents and grandmoms containing this.

This is a Wii, a PlayStation Portable, and games. When I opened the package, my first thought was, “Where shall I ever take the time from to play with these?” And at the same time, I had an eerie feeling something was not at all going right in my life, and the presents in front of me were telling me what it was.

A few days later, I set up the Wii. It was a weekend evening, I had worked on my thesis for a couple of hours (which I usually do on the weekends because the weekdays do not tend to leave me enough time to get something done on my own things), and was being in this unpleasant condition of being too exhausted to relax with a book or at my piano, while it was still way too early to go to bed. When feeling like that, I cannot even watch TV because having to sit quietly makes me more nervous and tensed and gives my hyperactivity and tics (weird, I know).

Anyway, I started with making Miis, these little characters you can build on the Wii, and two hours were happily spent creating myself and my family and closest friends. Here is my Mii.

~ my Mii visiting the Fuji mountain in the Wii Party world traveling game ~

Then, I started to play Wii Sports Resorts. It was great fun, and it made me happy that all my family-and-friends Miis were also around all the time.

~ catching Ma during skydiving ~

I soon discovered my love for cycling, archery, swordfighting, and – above all – tabletennis. From then on, I played for an hour or two every evening, and made some very exciting discoveries: First, I realized I actually exercised – after 10 minutes or so of playing, I was in t-shirt and boxers and still sweating, and my arm muscles were stiff (so I started to strategically switch games to grant them some rest). Second, and even more important, my exhaustion went away: While I would have just dragged myself through a dreary evening before, too tired to be able to make use of myself, I had finally discovered a way to actively restore my energy – playing. Afterwards, I was refreshed enough to practice the piano or read a book before going to sleep. So, the point of the story is that devoting more time to playing actually makes me more productive, energized, and happier overall.

What are your plans and wishes for the new year? Do you play enough?

The pre-Christmas season is always so busy, and I actually long for being able to really enjoy it some day! But probably this is not going to happen, since it did not happen in the past 15 years or so …

Anyway, I at least bought a little illuminated snowman who now sits on my window sill. He even changes colors every few moments! I love snowmen because they are so cute and may stay until the end of February, while Santas have to disappear when Christmas is over.

Tomorrow, I am going to jump on a train and go home for visiting my parents. I have not seen them in a year, and this was the longest time I have ever been away from home. Can you imagine how much I am looking forward to seeing them?

Hi friends! Here is a sign of life after some time of absence from the blog sphere. I am still existing!

Some of you have already emailed me to tell me that they missed me and to ask me how I was doing. These emails made me happy and smile a lot. Just know that when you do not hear or read from me, this does not mean I have forgotten or abandoned you, it just means that I have a lot to do. And I will always be back as soon as I can. So this is what I have been up to …

Life has been busy as always, but even more since Christmas is coming closer. This week somewhat was the last chance to run studies before Christmas, since people are gradually getting into this particular mindset resulting from a mixture of elevated alcohol levels due to constant mulled wine consumption, elevated adrenaline levels due to rushing and running errands for Christmas preparation, and elevated spirits due to the other-wordliness of the season. There are psychological effects that can only be found and replicated around Christmas, probably wrecking data quality by augmenting error variance and producing invalid results.

For me, this meant that I was quite busy during the past two weeks to get everything done in time – my supervisor has given me the honor and responsibility to conduct his studies over here while he is in New Zealand, and since he wanted me to collect data for some study, I had a deadline. So, we skyped and exchanged countless emails on the study design, I worked on materials he sent me, and then had to organize everything: doing testruns, collecting a sample for pretesting and gathering feedback on the comprehensibility of the instructions and items, putting the study up with studies from other researchers since we usually share labs (and of course, all labs were already taken until mid December), and finding a budget for paying the participants (which meant begging my way through the whole department). Then, preparing the lab and the study materials such as questionnaires, sampling lists, flyers, billings lists, and so on.

Anyway, I really enjoy this job. It is not mainly a job for money – most importantly, it gets me into actual research business, and I learn so much. I work with high self-determination but also high responsibility, and I really enjoy the challenge. So, I am totally in my element with this. And the best thing is that, due to all my commitment and contributions, I will be on the paper when the stuff gets published – what is likely to happen, since the current study is a follow-up to a previous study which already yielded some interesting results, and both will be published together in one article. You know, the number of your publications is the current in the academia of empirical sciences – this is how the game works, and although this is not the most fortunate condition, you just need publications when you want to sustain in the field. Therefore, having publications – preferably in reputable journals – is a good thing.

Of course, there are also my piano students, and I keep playing myself. And in the meantime, I try to get some work on my thesis done, more or less successfully. The idea of getting it finished this year unfortunately was rather unrealistic, so my new, more realistic goal is to finish it in January, especially since I will present the whole thing in the colloquium at the end of January next year.

Apart from this, social life has kept me busy as well on most evenings (when I would blog and do relaxing things otherwise). There were birthday and goodbye parties, the Christmas dinner of the personality psychology department, the Christmas party of the social psychology department, and various visits to the Christmas market with friends.

Last year, I took you with me on an extended tour over the Christmas market in the inner city. (Click here to relive the ultimate Christmas market experience.) This year, I went up to the Christmas market at the castle with a couple of social psychology friends.

~ the castle Christmas market ~

~ the castle being Christmas-y ~

From the castle terrace, we could enjoy a view over the city beautifully illuminated by countless lights.

And of course, we enjoyed Glühwein, a hot mulled wine sweetened and spiced with oranges, cinnamon, and cloves, that people traditionally have at Christmas markets probably not only in Germany.

I am very blessed now with having such awesome friends! Two of my best friends are also in social psychology, and since we all live for what we do, whenever we meet, it is just a matter of time that we end up with psychology discussions. Over drinks this week, we started collecting ideas and planning upcoming experiments which we will hopefully start conducting by the beginning of the next year already.

~ the three musketeers ~

Finally, after so many months of sagging, just getting along somehow, and worrying about my future, I am finally confident that things will turn out well. I know that great ideas do not come from one person alone, but result from the most inspiring interaction with other people. Especially in science, it is crucial to connect, exchange, and discuss ideas, and for that, you need people who you can totally trust and who would never backstab you. With my lovely co-musketeer ladies, I now have a couple of research ideas going to be pursued in the time to come, and I am looking forward to that like nothing else.

However, all of these things going on were a little too much in the end, and I ended up with getting a migraine the other day. I spend the whole day in bed with curtains drawn and a towel on my face to exclude the light, after returning home from the institute around midday, and then slept for almost 20 hours. Now I am feeling a little better, but having to stay at home to recover ironically gives me an opportunity to update my blog. (This is something for the upcoming New Year’s resolutions – no late-night working and no driving-myself-to-my-limits anymore, and taking more time for other things instead!)

It also gives me an opportunity to provide you with a sick stomach recipe, because my tummy was feeling really weird and I needed to cook something that I would be able to eat without getting myself into trouble. I chose ginger against the nausea, winter squash (I used kuri squash because it cooks down to a nicely mealy consistency) for comforting and easing my stomach, tomatoes for soupiness, and chicken for unproblematic satiety – when I am sick, alone the idea of eating eggs or seafood makes everything worse. Actually, I had made a big batch of this in the morning already, and boxed it since I had a lab day scheduled (which I then had to cancel), and this was good because I could just eat from it throughout the whole day, whenever I woke up and felt hungry, and then went back to bed and continued sleeping.


4 servings


butter or oil
2 tsp of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium-sized winter squash (I used kuri squash, but you can also use kabocha or butternut), peeled (according to kind), seeds removed, and cut into pieces
500 g (1 lb) chicken breast fillet, cut into pieces
500 g (1 lb) tomatoes, chopped
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 pinch of ground cloves
1 pinch of ground cardamom
1 handful of fresh cilantro


In a big pot, heat some fat and roast the ginger until fragrant. Add the pumpkin and roast it for a minute, then add a little water and cook the whole thing covered for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken and tomatoes, season with salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom, and cook everything on low to medium heat for 20 minutes. Finally, throw in the cilantro and cook openly until desired consistency, then serve or box or whatever, but anyhow, enjoy!

What kind of food or dish agrees with your tummy when it feels like doing somersaults?

Here I am again! Work load, exhaustion, and finally getting sick have kept me from blogging during the past days, and I feel in need of a holiday! Actually, I have not had a real break since Christmas last year, because my jobs and studies are keeping me busy, and I also worked on most weekends because those are usually the times when I finally come to my own things. The progress with my thesis is not as fast as I would have liked, due to all the other stuff on my schedule – organizing and running experiments for my student assistant job, statistics and piano teaching, social life – that affords its time and partially also drains energy.

Since it is not possible to take a couple of days off in a row, what keeps me going is island hopping: To stay calm within troubled waters, it helps to have little islands of peace where you can anchor every now and then, whenever you need it, and find some recreation and tranquility of mind that fuel you to tackle the next episode of your life story.

I try to have island time every day, at least two or three hours, and if there is an opportunity, I may even have a whole island day. So today, I am just showing you my favorite islands.

* * * * *


This one is perhaps the most important island for my mental and spiritual health because it not only relieves my mind from the ongoing clutter and chatter but also serves as an emotional outlet. After an hour of piano playing I feel refreshed and content, and it also makes one of the columns my sense of self is grounded on: When things do not go so well in other parts of my life, the piano is still there and gives me happiness.


I am very sensitive to sounds and noises and hear everything more intense and also hear a wider range of pitch compared to most other people. When I was a child, I noticed my dad coming home before he entered the house, because I could hear from the inside how he stepped on the door sill and burrowed into his pockets for the keys. I could hear what my parents were talking about in the dining room two levels deeper while playing in my room above. I wake up when the flower next to my bed drops a blossom. You get the idea.

Therefore, being in the city with all the people hustling by, sitting in the tram or in a train with scraps of chatter filling the air, or working in the office against the backdrop of keyboard tapping, mouse clicking, and the noise from the main street coming up through the windows, is very tiring for me and gives me a headache.

Music helps with this and works as a protecting cocoon I put around me: I basically change hundreds of simultaneous, competing, and irregular noise sources against one constant, predictable, and pleasant source of music, and that is the whole trick – fading down the world around me.


Since I have started mindfulness practice almost two years ago, it has become a reliable source of energy that is available anytime. I usually spread moments of mindfulness practice throughout the day to prevent the stress from piling up, and this works very well.


This is a new one: Until recently, the idea of lying down on my bed or even taking a nap during the day has seemed rather unattractive and deterrent to me. Now I do it. Just 10 minutes of lying on my back, feeling warm and comfortable, and relaxing all my muscles works wonders.


Thanks to mindful eating practice, I am finally able to enjoy my meals and experience meal times as recreation times. Whenever possible, I do not eat while doing something else anymore, but take 15 minutes or so for just enjoying a meal, and I feel that the food agrees with my tummy much more. Additionally, I am still very careful to stick to compatible foods what basically is lots of vegetables, a lean protein source, healthy fats, reduced carbohydrates, and little sugar.

~ office lunch: lemony turkey roast with tomatos and parsley ~

At home, this is very easy, and on office days, I usually take a lunch box with food I have prepared the night before, along with a bottle of almond milk and a big thermos bottle with tea.


I am taking more and more pleasure in cooking and trying around with various ingredients and seasonings. Cooking is creativity, and when I cook, I like to go to my spice shelf and open some jars and sniffle to find out which flavors might go well together, or I just compose everything in my head.

~ two boards of my spice shelf (there are more …) ~

By now, I have developed the habit to set up a stew, a pot roast, some kind of goulash, or a big pan with several servings of stir fry in the evenings, so I always have nice food at hand I can pack for a lunch box.


I am no person for heavy exercise – jogging, biking, weight lifting do not make me happy. But I need my daily moving. Earlier in my life, I used to do yoga regularly – the sun salutation, directly after getting up. I loved it because the alternating bowing and stretching of all muscles and joints really made me wake up. But then, I got an elbow joint inflammation – due to eating foods on a daily basis I did not know I was allergic against at that time, and this gave me chronical inflammations for many years, some of them being in my joints – that resulted in the mucosa producing free joint bodies which against shredded a nice part of the cartilage. Since then, my elbow joint has been a constant source of concern, and I cannot burden my right arm anymore. So, walking is my favorite kind of exercise now. I have always liked it, because it challenges my body without draining my energy resources, and it is so meditative. So I just decided to make walking my favorite kind of exercise.


Real friends are the people who just like me how I am. I do not have to pretend anything when I am with them, I am just perfectly alright. If I am tired and exhausted and not at all entertaining, they still like me. They care for me and want me to be well. They leave me on my own when I need it, but they are constantly there for me. I have a handful of friends like that, and that is perfectly enough. You know, friendships are about quality, not quantity. Spending time with my friends feels like stroking my heart.

~ dinner with friends enjoyed the other night ~

We talk, cook together, enjoy a glass of wine, or watch a movie and discuss it, and the most important thing is that we mutually respect and appreciate each other. There is criticism sometimes, but it is aimed at getting to know oneself better and being more content and in peace with one’s life. Or to just sustain and get through the things that are challenging currently. I am blessed with these friends.

* * * * *

So, these are my islands that keep me from being gripped by the drowning flood of life. What are your islands?

In the face of greeting the cold, I want to share some pictures from a street festival that takes place every year at the beginning of autumn in the inner city. So you see, these pictures are a couple of weeks old already, and I have not posted them in time due to other stuff that had to be done.

Usually, I am not overly fond of street festivals because they are so crowded and noisy (Christmas markets, however, are an exception), but this year I went with two very good friends, and we had a wonderful time on one of the last warm and sunny weekends of the year.

The city was filled with people and music, and all along the pedestrial road and on the squares, there were stalls were you could buy food and a lot of other things.

~ such as these cute little animals ~

~ or exotic lamps ~

~ or Tibetan singing bowls ~

~ or wild garlic pesto and fresh bread ~

It is a traditional thing in Germany to enjoy fermented grape juice in early autumn. This stuff is sweet, sparkling, and slightly alcoholic, and called “Federweisser” when it is made from white grapes, and “Roter Sauser” when it is made from red grapes. The white one is more popular, though.

It is traditionally enjoyed with “Zwiebelkuchen“, a savory pie made with onions, eggs, bacon, and cream.

In front of one chocolate shop, there was a little table set up, and they offered free hot chocolate shots with different flavors.

My friends got one each, but it was not for me because it was make with milk.

We made our way through the whole inner city, and several delicacies were enjoyed along the way (again, not by me).

~ I think this was macadamia maple something ~

~ nutella crêpe ~

~ do you see the nutella wanting for freedom? ~

After all the bustle everywhere, we were happy to find some tranquility in a quiet alley.

~ Buddha statue and prayer flags in the yard of the ethnological museum ~

Then we were ready to throw ourselves back into the crowd. At the inner city train station, a DJ was putting on music, and people were chilling, dancing, and having fun.

~ the train station kiosk had smileys on the menu ~

We headed down to the riverside road to make our way back.

Next to the castle, the old bridge is the most famous emblem of Heidelberg.

~ the gate of the old bridge ~

Next to the bridge gate, there is a bronze monkey holding a mirror to remind people of the vanity and illusionary nature of the world. You can put your head in there, and there always is a group of tourists standing around the monkey and waiting for doing that. But we finally had the monkey for ourselves.

~ the monkey has two mouse friends sitting next to him ~

The most enjoyable part of the whole festival, for me, was the flea market along the riverside road. People sold everything from old tumblers and dishes, cutlery, toys, and grammophones, to vintage clothes, books, and a complete set of indoor furnishing (which I wanted very badly – for myself – because it was so lovely ). I did not buy anything, but just strolling aroung was great fun.

After several hours of walking around, we were very aware of our feet, and ended up chilling in the courtyard of the university mensa.

Now, the warm days are over, and I always wear my winter jacket when I go out. It will not take long until I start heating up my clothes again before putting them on … Hello cold!

Phew, those past weeks have been busy, and I did not manage to get around the blog world as much as I would have liked to. So here is an update for you to see that I am still alive.

My thesis is making progress, and this elevates my spirits. More than 60 pages are written and proof-read already, and those are the most elaborate parts that required a lot of reading for me to be able to write them. In total, I have about 190 articles, book chapters, and books in my references list, and I cannot believe I have actually sucked in all of them during the past months. The upcoming method and data analysis parts should be done more quickly because I have protocoled the steps of data evaluation quite thoroughly, and tables of coefficients and statistical output are already there, waiting to be fit in.

The fact that a lot of experiments are currently running at the department due to the start of the winter term, and I am involved in terms of lab shifts and in part also with regard to preparations, accompanied by teaching statistics tutorials and piano lessons, has resulted in me devoting most of my evenings and half of my nights to my own scientific endeavors, and since this is the time I devoted to blogging and blog reading before, here you have the explanation why you saw so little of me recently. Well, I am doing my best to keep this blog going somehow and also come around to read your lovely blogs. If I have to choose because of lack of time, I usually go for the latter option, but still I know that I have not been the reliable reader and commenters I would have loved to be. I am very sorry for that, but I hope you can understand.

On other notes, my carpal tunnel thing is kept under control, thanks to all your lovely suggestions and the little cushion that now always lies next to my laptop. Piano playing also helps a lot with this as well because it is the perfect training without any strain, so I just decided to prescribe an hour of playing to myself every day, as a kind of medical treatment for my vexed nerve, regardless of other scheduled (work-related) activities. It is funny that when I started to see it like this, it suddenly had so much more legitimation compared to an activity I only do for fun and recreation purposes. But it also serves those purposes for sure.

The piece I am currently playing is the one I have embedded at the beginning of this post (if you have a habit of listening to the music I post, you might actually hear it right now, while reading this) – very much to my dear blogging friend Chopinand‘s pleasure, I suppose. I know that this is one of his favorite pieces and assume that he can play it perfectly himself – he even has the sheetnotes in the header of his blog – and he may have waited for me to finally start to learn it. Well, now I have, and it is so much fun! Actually, this the first of Chopin’s Etudes (which are quite challenging technically) I come to play – I played some Nocturnes and Waltzes before, and also tackled two piano concerto movements which I have not finished yet. And yeah, all those pieces I should refresh by now … Anyway, you see, I just love Chopin’s music, it gives me such a feeling of coming home emotionally. And knowing that there is enough music composed by Chopin to fill my whole lifetime of piano playing provides a wonderful security. I also want to play more pieces by Bach, Beethoven, Rachmaninov, Debussy … in the future, but I have 70+ years left to do all this. The journey has just begun.

Right now, I am enjoying a glass of Pinot blanc to celebrate the progress of my thesis, and decided to just take this night off.

What has made you proud of yourself recently?

Thank you all for your kind comments and helpful suggestions regarding my carpal tunnel issue! I have taken some measures meanwhile (for once, this does not relate to psychological measurement theory I am dealing with every day otherwise ).

For working, I am alternating the rocking chair in the kitchen …

… and the sofa bed in the living room, so I have a change between sitting at the table (straining for the arm, but relieving for the back) and working with my laptop standing on a tray in front of me (relieving for the arm, but straining for the back).

I got amber oil for slathering on my arm, for irritated nerves and aching muscles.

When I sit at the table, I put my arm on a cushion so my arm does not lie on the hard table surface. This little cushion I already had when I was a baby, and while it is too small for putting my head on it now, the size is just perfect for a table cushion. So, the times when the little cushion had merely decorative functions in my bed are definitely over.

All of this has helped to make it a little better already, and extensive piano playing may also play a role in that. The prickling and numbness are still there, but they are not getting worse, and I do not have pain. And all of this is while I have not even reduced my productivity, what makes me happy a lot.

Thank you all again for your kind concerns!

My body just gave me a stop sign: For four days now, three fingers and half of the palm of my right hand are numb and prickle. You can imagine that I was quite upset, because having some serious issue with my hands is my worst nightmare: I already envisioned my hand rotting off, so I could never play the piano again.

When it did not get any better, I saw a neurologist at the hospital the other day, after some work at the institute. (When I was finished, no medical practice was open anymore, but I knew I had to clarify this to be able to get some sleep later on.) After two hours of waiting in the emergency department, I got a 10 minutes check from head to toe. Now I know that I have (1) neither a brain tumor (2) nor multiple sclerosis. However, I have a serious irritation of the nerve that runs along the downside of my right forearm, which quite certainly stems from working at my computer many hours every day and putting my arm down on the table while typing, reading, or marking in pdf files, so that all the weight of my arm comes to rest upon that nerve. I have to look after it and relieve it now, otherwise I will risk paralysis of my hand. If it does not get any better, I have to see a doctor again.

I am currently experimenting around with different positions of my arm while working. Apparently, the nerve is irritated at the whole length of my forearm, from the ball of my hand to the elbow, so however I put it, as soon as it lies down for more than a few seconds, I already feel the numbness and prickling increasing. You can imagine this is quite annoying, especially having to use the mouse without my hand touching the table. I have dragged my laptop to the front edge of the table now so I can type with both my arms in the air completely. This is, of course, more exerting in the long run, and I often have to make breaks and let my arms just hang down to relieve them. But at least I can type at all – everything else would be fatal! And in the future, when the nerve has gotten better again, putting the arm on a pillow while working might be a solution to prevent it from coming back. This is a tricky thing because it affects an activity that is so central in what I do professionally, and therefore almost vital for my future existence. But it is a definite sign to look after me and do not push too much.

Do you have signs of wear from something you do or did at lot, and now have to deal with them in long range?