Nov 14, 2014

Why It is Important to Think Critically

In light of the current heated debate surrounding my post on Why I Stopped Practicing Ashtanga Yoga (do note that I didn't call it Why YOU Should Stop Practicing Ashtanga Yoga), I came across this awesome video by my friend Veronica today. She runs a YouTube channel where she discusses literature and related issues, and this clip here on why it is important to reflect the culture you're surrounded by and think critically every now and then is a true gem! In case she talks a little too fast for your liking, you can watch the clip in half speed at Soundslice. A well invested seven to fourteen minutes.

Nov 11, 2014

My New Link Saving Addiction - Introducing


I will not lie: It took me a while to wrap my head around why I would need Tagpacker. To be perfectly honest, I thought of it as yet another social network with no chance in hell. And yet, these days I am not only happily employed there, I'm addicted to it. I don't have the slightest idea how I got by without it.

The concept in a nutshell

Tagpacker lets you save, organize and share your favorite content. It's a bookmarking tool as well as a social network, and of course it's free of charge. It's useful for everyone, but especially people who deal with large amounts of information: Bloggers, writers, students, researchers, journalists, scientists, and anyone with a hobby.

>>At Tagpacker, we believe that managing information should be fun. An easy drag and drop technology coupled with a genius search engine and a revolutionary tagging system will make you love your life just a little bit more.<<
Unlike all the other social media tools out there, Tagpacker will actually increase your productivity instead of waste your time. One of the key features from my perspective is its awesome searchability. There's just nothing like it, and if I were Google, I would buy us out.

How it works 

First, you sign up for free. Personally, I sign up with Facebook, but that's not mandatory at all, just convenient.

Then, you fill in your profile and start saving links.

-> We've made a First Steps on Tagpacker video to walk you through the process. Essentially, we'll provide you with a bookmarklet for your toolbar. All you'll need to do is surf to a URL that you like and hit the PACK IT! button. While saving links, you'll get a chance to comment on them or edit how you would like them to appear on your profile. Now, and this is the important step, you tag the link with whatever key word ("tag") you find suitable, and hit save. There's also the possibility of importing preexisting link collections in HTML-files.

You can find out how this process works in more detail by watching Tagpacker's YouTube videos, by reading our how-to page, or simply by checking out my Tagpacker profile and taking a good look around.

Why it's fun

Over time, you’ll notice that patterns emerge. Thanks to Tagpacker, I now know that while I  thought I was collecting articles on blogging, I am really a sucker for how-tos and recipes. Who would have thought?

And because we only just started out, everything smells brand new. The platform is wide open and all your favorite usernames are still available. Anyone can establish themselves as an expert in their field by collecting links they were going to save anyway.

The catch

The only two things to keep in mind when setting up your profile are:

As of yet, all user profiles are public. This might remind you of when Pinterest started out. The good news is that we’re already working on private settings.

It’s highly addictive. #getpacking and you will know what I mean! Once you're beyond your first fifty links, you won't want to imagine life without it. Plus you'll get to see all the stuff your friends and colleagues care about.

Help us succeed

Like any other startup out there, we depend on your support. If you like our platform, please tell your friends that you do, and please give us honest feedback. We're at least as interested in your opinion as we are in your Facebook and Instagram likes, and Twitter follows. Should you have any further questions or concerns, get in touch via mail [at] tagpacker [dot] com. We’d love to hear from you!

Nov 8, 2014

Why You Should Write A Book Sooner Rather Than Later

Image: New Old Imagery

 Ah, the excuses! My favorites include:

“I don’t have time.” Right.
“I have no desk. I mean, I do, but I can’t work there.” Riiiiiiight.
“I have nothing to say and no one will care.” Big societal trap, especially for women. Most definitely untrue!

Whether you are a blogger or a journalist or neither, here is why you should write your book sooner rather than later:

Your ideas matter

It is hard to believe, and it might sound outrageous, but it is actually true: Your ideas matter! If everyone had kept mum about their beliefs and desires, men would never have procreated. There would be no science, no culture, and no one at all to look up to. Also, we need way more famous female writers anyway.

Your experience is both unique and universal

We are going through life on our own, but also together. You might be the only gay person from a minority background in your provincial hometown, but you are not alone in your country, and certainly not in the world. Chances are that if you have found ways of dealing with depression, other depressed people are dying to find out how you coped. Even if your situation is complicated and your circumstances are special, the rest of us will know how to distill advice from what you said.  

You will have ideas you never thought you could come up with

Writing will make your imagination run wild. One thought will lead to the next and then, before you know it, something amazing will happen, whose mastermind is: you. It's pretty magical. 

Nobody else will

There is really just one way to get it right, and it will be your way. Stop wasting time pondering someone else’s ideas - unless, of course, you are planning on discussing them in your book. Vice versa, unless you are putting out (and I am very much using a figure of speech here), no one will waste their own precious brain cells dissecting yours.

It might get published

It took me 17 years to publish my first poetry collection, counted from its oldest poem to the day I was asked to submit my manuscript. Was my book worth the wait? Absolutely. I love how it feels, smells, opens, and closes. And yet, I was a writer before I got signed, and I will remain one, whether or not I will ever be published again. There is no shame in not getting published, only regret in not trying.

Speaking up is important in the grand scheme of things

Yes, jobs, kids, and dogs are important, too. But surfing the Internet hours on end? Not so much. All these interesting articles will still be there when you are done writing. With the only difference being that you used your time on earth creating something that, perhaps, will survive you. One hundred years from now the people we see on the street will have disappeared. There will be a different crowd walking around. It is on us, today, to pay forward the good and the bad and the ugly.

It will be worth it

The journey is the reward, not the money you will not be making. Published or not, writing a book will prove to yourself that you are a writer. You will learn facts about things you never even knew existed. Writing 500 words per day will get you a novel in under four months. Or 250 in eight. Even to a chronically half-blocked writer like myself, that sounds doable. In any case, you’ll gain a reputation. At least in your family circle.

Oct 27, 2014

Why I Stopped Practicing Ashtanga Yoga

This post first appeared on Yogannina.

I have been out of the Yoga loop for a good six months now. Before I left my studio and mat, I was an avid and dedicated practitioner of Ashtanga Yoga: I had a regular, six day a week practice, had completed 150 hours of Yoga teacher training as well as a massage and injury prevention certificate, was an assistant teacher and wrote a popular enough Yoga blog. I was a vegetarian at first, then a vegan, and in the middle of developing an interest in macrobiotic cuisine. I was part of a dedicated community and a student of a well-known teacher. I even found myself a Yoga teaching husband. I thought that whatever would happen, I would do Yoga.

And then, weirdly, happiness happened. And by happiness, I mean the kind of contentment that will let you rest and relax. Calmness and ease unfolded, and I started seeing my daily practice in a different light. Here are some of my thoughts:

Ashtanga Yoga is a relationship outside of your relationship

It has become my conviction that anyone who practices Ashtanga religiously, and by that I mean six days a week, all year, every year, is missing something vital in their personal life. These people - and I know I was one of them for a long time - are looking for something they will not find on their Manduka mats. Ever.

Exercising on more than four days a week is unhealthy

Studies like this one show that exercising on six days a week for a prolonged period of time is actually detrimental to your health. Every health professional, coach and personal trainer on the face of the earth would agree. No wonder Ashtangis look skinny and tired and hurt themselves all the time.

There is no wisdom in practicing through injuries

No wisdom at all. When you are injured, you need to rest, and probably anti-inflammatories. Surely you can stretch your legs while dealing with a wrist injury, but you should definitely not put any weight on your hands. Again, any health professional would agree. You only have one right knee, one left shoulder, one set of lower back vertebrae. There is a reason why doctors suggest you should rest. There is also mass intelligence. If Ashtanga really had all the answers, everyone on the face of the earth would be doing it. Guaranteed. You are the only expert on your condition, and if something hurts, you are telling yourself to hold off.

Ashtangarexia is alive and happening

The definition of addiction, as I have recently learned during one of Emory University’s online lectures on coursera, is: “A repeated behavior with a negative impact (causing distress of some sort or health problems, for example), where you are unable to stop, require an increased frequency or dosage, and display symptoms of withdrawal avoidance.”

Now, I don’t know about you guys, but after a certain point in my practice, I could check off all of these indicators. I had lower back problems, the pressure to maintain my daily practice caused distress, but I wasn’t able to stop, either, because I was too afraid of taking a day off and losing all the ‘progress’ I had made. The fact that my practice had turned me a into an ascetic hermit without a real social life wasn’t even something I worried about at the time. With hindsight, however, some of what you say and do as an Ashtangi really is a bit cuckoo. I mean, let’s not kid ourselves: You can’t balance your chakras by chanting mantras in a language you don’t speak. Eating garlic when you’re healthy doesn’t make you a bad person. Be kind to yourself. Don’t fall into the rabbit hole of Ashtanga obsession, only to never be seen again.  

If you know you have an issue Yoga cannot solve, seek help

Very maybe, you are trying to work through some intense trauma. Perhaps your upbringing was terrible, or maybe you suffer from an eating disorder nobody knows of. Yoga can have amazing positive effects on our mental health, but there are certain situations in life that point you towards professional help. Both you and your teacher need to admit that while Supta Kurmasana might release day-to-day stress, it’s not at all an adequate treatment for PTSD. Neither are shopping sprees at lululemon.

Authorization equals a frequent flyer reward

This is a line my husband came up with, and he is so right. These days, it seems, what you have to do to get recognized as a teacher is go to Mysore often enough (read: pay enough money), and someone will bestow upon you the reward in form of authorization. This is irrespective, of course, of your level of experience or teaching skills. On average, if I’m not mistaken, authorization will be granted after four or five trips of several months each, at a monthly cost of €400 or so. There are so many students going through the shala these days, that Sharath himself can’t keep track anymore. I have heard of people who were offered authorization twice. Not for free, of course, the authorization itself comes at a price. Later, there’s the added cost of certification, and psssst, it’s expensive. While I understand that everyone needs to make money, a hierarchical fee scheme seems pretty… unyogic.

The tradition isn’t evolving, it’s arbitrary

Sunday as the new Saturday? Changes in the sequence just so that the student traffic in Mysore can be handled more efficiently? Come on! No problem with making changes to your own organization, but why does the whole world need to follow? If you are serious about your Yoga, you will not brag about what pose you’re on, how many trips to Mysore you have taken in the past, how many you will be taking in the future, or how many people came to take your class on any given day. On that same note:

Teaching Yoga isn’t a profession - it’s a side job

I have been warned about this, and I will do my duty and warn you: Do. Not. Quit. Your. Occupation. For. An. Unlikely. Career. In. Yoga. Don’t do it! Yoga is like blogging. It is something that is best enjoyed in small, fun doses on the side. Unless you will be moving to a town where there is not a single Yoga teacher within a radius of at least 50 kilometers, do not open a Yoga studio. You will be losing all your money, and you will be left with no perspective after 35. Do yourself a favor and trust me on this one.

So - do I miss my practice? Sure, sometimes I do. What I miss about it most are its superficial aspects, though: being strong and flexible, looking fit. These days, I prefer to take my dog on forest walks and go for runs. I enjoy the fresh air, and that I get to make my own schedule. When I will return to the mat, it will be on my own terms, in my own time.


Other articles you might be interested in:

Notes on Mysore Rooms, Mindfulness, Feminism and Sex
Why Kino MacGregor's Choice of Clothing isn't Feminist, but a Feminist issue

Sep 20, 2014

5 Must-See Documentaries on Netflix

I'm a big sucker for documentaries. Here's a bunch I recently enjoyed on Netflix:

After Tiller
An insightful documentary that follows the only four remaining doctors in the US that perform late-term abortions after one of their colleagues was assassinated by anti-abortion fanatics. Both the patients' and doctors' stories are heartbreaking, and there's a dire need for successors. 
The attempt at a portrait of the always elusive J.D. Salinger. Thanks to this documentary I know now that not only did he have an interesting WWII biography, he also took a dubious liking to very young women.
Being European, I shake my head whenever I'm reminded that there's no public health care in the US. It's absolutely unbelievable to me that so many Americans still oppose the introduction of medical services for everyone - why?! The Waiting Room does a great job at portraying the physical and psychological distress caused by the lack of affordable public health care.

Brave Miss World
Linor Abargil was brutally attacked and raped a couple of weeks before she won the Miss World title in 1998. She has since become one of the most famous advocates in the fight against sexual violence. The documentary illustrates her struggle, but also how she manages to move forward with her life and finish law school.

The Summit
A K2 exhibition gone horribly wrong... 

Jul 2, 2014

Onto Toronto - Toronto's First Berlin-Style Poetry Collective

Photo: Annina Luzie Schmid

When I first came to Berlin in 2007, I didn't know anyone. I had just quit a depressing internship with a large corporation in Munich. A city that I, on top of hating my job, never warmed up to. Its topography didn't make sense, and to this day the sexist culture that is its yearly Oktoberfest brings tears to my eyes.  Instead of fulfilling nonsensical formatting requests, I wanted to write. I didn't want to move outlines by two millimeters, I wanted to enter short story competitions and blog on Words On A Watch

For a while, family friends had been offering me their holiday home in Berlin as a writing space. They didn't want any rent and said Berlin was the perfect place for young poets. Self-absorbed and clueless as I was, I didn't see the perks of writing groups and didn't believe that Berlin had much more to offer than my hometown Frankfurt. Surely, Frankfurt was famous for its airport and financial district rather than its literary scene, but I had visited Berlin before and could barely remember anything other than Brandenburg Gate and the remaining parts of the Berlin Wall. And yet, I had five months to kill before grad school and nowhere else to go. 

Thus, I moved onto the border between Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain. From there, I set out on long BVG trips to find other writers. Armed with a paper map and the most recent edition of zitty, I travelled from one literary event to the next. After two weeks or so, I found Lauter Niemand, a 'literature lab'. At the time it was headed, amongst others, by Adrijana Bohocki, a fellow poet. Little did I know that Lauter Niemand was the creative hub for a number of now famous contemporary German poets: Steffen Popp, Daniel Falb, Ann Cotten, Monika Rinck, Ron Winkler, and Hendrik Jackson, to name but a few. 

Thanks to Adrijana's encouragement, I spent a lot of time writing. And discussing my writing, too. I had never shared my work with other authors before, let alone with such talented ones. Our weekly workshop sessions helped me understand the importance of continuous advice and support in the development of some one's voice. Writers need encouragement. Female writers especially benefit from the patronage and promotion offered by established networks.  

Last fall, I got the chance to attend one of Donna Stonecipher's poetry workshops in Berlin. This was shortly before I moved to Toronto, and posed another great opportunity to focus on my writing and get competent and valuable feedback on it. 

Here in Canada, I miss a place like that; I miss discussing other people's work as much as the discipline that comes with regular writing homework. In the hopes to find like-minded people, I launched Onto Toronto today, Toronto's first Berlin-inspired poetry and literature collective. Besides frequent writing groups, I would like to teach and host workshops, organize readings, and of course, publish the free magazine that the Onto Toronto blog will hopefully become. 

For this to work, Onto Toronto needs participants. If you are a writer, or know of someone who might be interested in sharing their work, please let them know that we are currently accepting submissions (find out more on how to submit original work here). You do not need to live in Toronto or the Greater Toronto Area to be considered for publication - just write a poem, a story, or submit a photo!  

Jun 26, 2014

For German Readers: Neue alte Seite, neue alte Texte

Die Involvierten unter Euch werden es mitbekommen haben: Ich habe überarbeitet und stelle dort jetzt ab und an neue Inhalte ein. Heute Abend "Auf eine coole Weise war ich immer irgendwie cool" aus 2007, bisher unveröffentlicht. Ihr könnt den neuen Feed direkt auf der Seite abonnieren  - und dann bitte nicht vergessen, Euren Feedreader auf "full article" umzustellen, damit Ihr nicht nach der Hälfte des Beitrages auf den Rest klicken müsst.

In other news hat Girls Can Blog vor einem Weilchen die 300'000 page views geknackt, und das ist ja irgendwie auch ganz nett. Danke Euch! Hätte ich früher haben können, jaja, egal. Wenn ich mit meinem ersten Lyrikband nicht so beschäftigt wäre, wäre hier auch mehr los (behaupte ich jetzt einfach). Aber bald ist Manuskriptabgabe und dann geht hier hoffentlich wieder was.

Jun 12, 2014

"Ich will kein Kind" - eine unpopuläre Entscheidung?

Hier nur ein kurzer Hinweis auf eine Diskussionsveranstaltung des deutschen Ärztinnenbundes, die am 24. Juni um 19.00 Uhr im Beginenhof am Erkelenzdamm 51 in Berlin stattfindet. Aus der Veranstaltungsbeschreibung:

Ich will kein Kind - Eine unpopuläre Entscheidung? 
Das Kinderthema ist ein Dauerbrenner. Bekommen die Deutschen zu wenige Kinder? Oder nur die deutschen Akademikerinnen? Was kann man tun, um die Geburtenrate zu steigern? Was stimmt nur mit den Kinderlosen nicht? Bei dieser Debatte kommt eine Gruppe nie zu Wort: die Menschen, die sich einfach keine Kinder wünschen. Das ist erstaunlich, denn immerhin möchten 23 Prozent der Männer und 15 Prozent der Frauen in Deutschland freiwillig kinderlos bleiben. Sind das alle gefühlskalte Egoisten, konsum- und karriereorientiert, die nicht erwachsen werden wollen und im Alter einsam sind, wie ihnen oft vorgehalten wird?
Dieser unbekannten Spezies geben die beiden Gäste in ihrem Buch „Ich will kein Kind“ – Dreizehn Geschichten über eine unpopuläre Entscheidung“ (Mabuse-Verlag 2013) eine Stimme. Frauen und Männer zwischen 30 und 80 erzählen: Wie sie leben, was ihnen wichtig ist und warum sie sich gegen Kinder entschieden haben. Auch, wie sie mit Vorwürfen aus ihrer Umgebung umgehen und was sie sich von der Gesellschaft wünschen. Die Autorinnen lesen aus den Porträts des Buches. In einer Einführung gehen sie auf Zahlen und Hintergründe ein und räumen mit den üblichen Phrasen auf, die zum Thema verbreitet werden: Nein, die Kinderlosen sind nicht schuld an einer „demographischen Katastrophe“.  Mehr Kinder bedeuten nicht mehr Wohlstand für eine Gesellschaft. Kinderlose sind nicht egoistischer als Eltern, und sie sind auch nicht einsamer, weder in jungen Jahren noch im Alter.

Apr 8, 2014

10 Cool Things to Do in Berlin

My sister will be visiting Berlin this month and asked for insider tips about what to see and do. I compiled this list and thought it might be interesting for some of you out there as well. Full disclosure: All of the places and brands listed here are personal recommendations. None of them have compensated me in any way, shape or form for mentioning them in this post. Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comment section!

walk, walk, walk
I love walking around Berlin. My favorite routes include the following, just click on the bold print for detailed directions:

* Prenzauer Berg Tour *
Hackescher Markt -> Mauerpark (≈ 45 minutes non-stop)
See the Hackeschen Höfe, Prenzlauer Berg, Zionskirchplatz, and the Mauerpark flea market.

*  Sunday Walk *
Bahnhof Zoo -> Brandenburger Tor (≈ 45 minutes non-stop)
See Berlin Zoo and the Aquarium, the Tiergarten Park, Goldelse and Brandenburg Gate)
* Hip and Trendy *
Hermannplatz -> Warschauer Str. (≈ 1 hour non-stop)
See the hip and trendy districts Neukölln and Kreuzberg, Berlin's famous outdoor clubs Club der Visionäre,  Freischwimmer, and Badeschiff and explore Friedrichshain.
* Politics *
See the Reichstag, Berlin Main Train Station, government offices, and Friedrichstraße. Walk along Unter den Linden and see Museum Island and City Hall.
* Cultural Tour *
Viktoria Luise Platz -> Potsdamer Platz (≈ 1 hour and 20 minutes non-stop)
See Viktoria-Luise-Platz, Haus der Berliner Festspiele, KDW, Bauhaus-Archiv, Neue Nationalgalerie and Potsdamer Platz.

ride the 100 bus
If you're pressed for time or too lazy to walk, take the bus. The 100 bus is a sightseeing tour for a tenth of the normal price, pretty much. For 2,60€, you can ride from Alexanderplatz to Bahnhof Zoo and view most major Berlin sights. Try for more information on the 100 and more typical things to see and do in Berlin.  

eat lots of vegan food
Undoubtedly, Berlin is Germany's vegan capital. From lifestyle blogs to meaty looking burgers to fashion, fancy dining and even enitre vegan supermarkets, you can get anything cruelty free. Veggie Love is a great resource for vegan trends, Berlin vegan is the community page to research vegan food in your area - they even have an app for when you're on the go! My personal favorite vegan restaurants include Satyam (sooo good and super affordable) and Kopp's (a little more expensive, best to make reservations). I also enjoy the coincidentally vegan vegetarian platter at Abissinia, an Ethiopian restaurant owned by Dantina, the friendliest owner ever.

go to a concert / the ballett / a reading
Berlin overflows with all things cultural. There's really something interesting for everyone! Before I turned 30, I liked to take advantage of the ClassicCard, with which you can go see balletts for as little as 10€. Even when you're over thirty, though, tickets to the Staatsballett Berlin are inexpensive in international comparison.

For booking concert tickets, there are plenty of options, but I always liked eventim: You can buy online tickets with them for (almost) any event, then all you have to do is download, print and bring them. Easy as pie.

Berlin's literary scene is awesome, too. There's the young and hip Literaturwerkstatt in Prenzlauer Berg's event space Kulturbrauerei, and also the somewhat posh Literaturhaus close to Ku'Damm. The Literaturhaus has a nice café attached to it, where Berlin's rich intelligenzia likes to hang out. With plenty of shops around the corner, it makes for a nice stop after a visit to the Gedächtniskirche and/ or the surrounding shops. Three relatively hidden gems in the same street are Umasan (vegan fashion), lululemon athletica's City West Showroom (Canadian sports fashion and free Yoga classes on the weekends) and Thull + Schneider (fine scarves) - neither of these are for shoppers on a budget, though. If you like your readings a little more indie and underground, try Kookbooks publishing for contemporary poetry readings that often include musical performances, too, and usually end with a party.  

see art
After London, Berlin is my second favorite city when it comes to art. There is so much stuff - from ancient to postmodern, decent to crazy. My personal museum of choice is the Hamburger Bahnhof near the central station. The East Side Gallery (art painted on remaining parts of the Berlin Wall) is another hit with visitors. To get an idea of just how many museums there are, try Museumsportal Berlin for more info, exhibition recommendations and up to date news on what's on.  

shop around Weinmeisterstraße

The area around Ubhf Weinmeisterstr and the Hackesche Höfe certainly is one of the most exciting and convenient to shop in. With a cool mix of international brands and national designers, the younger audience will certainly find something to their liking. Famous cafés Barcomis (bagels! chocolate fudge cake!) and St. Oberholz (wifi!) are nearby, too, and if you have time, you might want to explore the small designer shops around Mulackstr and sample Mamecha's green tea selection.   

get a cheap massage
My favorite place to get a massage in Berlin is with the lovely ladies of Bootsabong. 30€ for 60 minutes of traditional Thai Massage is an unbeatable price even for Berlin standards, and quality and service have always been impeccable. While you're in the area, take a stroll around the shops and restaurants on Bergmannstr. and the Marheinekeplatz. Parlamento Degli Angeli has some of the best pizza in town. If you like your Italian food a little more upscale, try the Osteria No.1 at the bottom of Berlin's Viktoriapark. Tomasa at Villa Kreuzberg offers great brunch. Just make sure to reserve your tables, as all three places can get pretty busy.

do yoga!
Berlin offers Yoga for every taste, and most studios welcome travelling drop-ins (a drop-in class usually costs around 15€). There are also plenty of interesting workshops with visiting international teachers - try the Jivamukti events list. With lululemon having set up shop in the city last summer, there are also opportunities to take free classes on the weekend in one of their Showrooms (Mitte and West). For fancy studio time and English language instruction try Spirit Yoga.

get a hair cut
Berlin is renown for it's avant-garde style, and quite a few of Berlin's hair salon's are different from what you are likely to know. Salon Notaufnahme in Prenzlauer Berg, for example, offers a live DJ and loud club music while you're getting your new look. For Rockabilly styling, try Kaiserschnitt and their 1950's inspired shop in Friedrichshain.

spend a night at Kumpelnest or Kaffee Burger
I know Berghain is all the rave, but I've spent some of my most enjoyable Berlin nights in the curiosity shops that are Kumpelnest 3000 and Kaffee Burger. Both places attract a cool mix of locals, tourists and crazies, and should make for unforgattable early mornings. Don't start your nights off there, though, go as late as possible!

Mar 14, 2014

Image Source:
Immer wieder gut zu wissen, dass es Speakerinnendatenbanken gibt. Was auch immer Euer Thema sein mag, registriert Euch schnell und unkompliziert hier, wenn Ihr daran interessiert seid, künftig Vorträge dazu zu halten. Organisatorinnen sei die Seite aufgrund ihrer übersichtlichen Struktur ebenfalls empfohlen. Man kann nie genug Frauen kennen!

Mar 1, 2014

My Feminist Wedding - 10 Things I Won't Do Just Because

I'm getting married this year, and here are ten things I won't do just because:

Lose weight for a dress
No way in hell will I subject myself to this kind of unnecessary pressure! Everyone knows perfectly well what I normally look like, my partner loves and accepts me for who I am, and the time wasted on counting calories will be better invested in finding an outfit that underlines my personality. And who says it has to be a dress I should be wearing in the first place? No need for white, either. (Although I will probably end up wearing off-white.) There's also the possibility of getting a second hand dress, if you're into vintage. Here in Toronto there's a great charity called The Brides' Project that resells used wedding dresses and donates all profits to cancer charities.

Have a hen night 
Oh, the embarrassment! On average, a group of thirteen women spends their day learning how to mix cocktails, lying around with pieces of cucumber on their faces or running their fingers over some Chippendale's abs. In the UK, the cost of hen nights increased by about 50% from £102 to £157 per person in the past five years alone, with travel destinations becoming ever more exclusive: Las Vegas and Barcelona are the new Manchester and Bristol. And aside from the monetary cost, there seems to be a moral one, too; 43% of British women (and 73% of British men) will lie to their partner about what happened that night. The only way I could see myself bidding farewell to my legally single life - that I won't be missing at all - would be a night in with my friends of all genders. Why limit the fun to my female friends?

Keep my last name just for the sake of it
Within 90 days of my wedding, I will legally change my surname to Oliver's. This is not because I want to become his property, but because I like his name better than mine. Simple as that. If my name would have been cooler, he would have changed his. Since we are a bi-national couple, I believe that sharing the same name will simplify legal matters, especially when we are travelling. Should we ever have kids, I want them, too, to have the same name. However, I will never refer to myself as "Mrs. Oliver Dawson-Clark". I am Annina. Annina Dawson-Clark for friends and family and before the law, and Annina Luzie Schmid for everyone else. I'm eager to continue publishing under my maiden name, because this is how people have gotten to know me, and because a pen name creates what I believe to be a healthy distance between your professional and private lives.

Have my dad walk me down the aisle
This is because the tradition of one man handing me over to another is crazy. I am my own woman. And there is a practical problem, too: I have a biological father that I get along with very well, and also a step dad that I get along with equally well. So, if anything, they would have to walk on either side of me, with my mom and step moms somewhere in the picture, too. Like Jessica Valenti. She and her husband Andrew had both their parents walk them both down the aisle. If I did the same, I would have a procession of five just for myself. Pretty awesome, really. 

Serve meat
I'm sure you have read plenty about veganism and vegetarianism in the past year, so I won't give you the whole rundown on why I think that a vegetarian, mostly vegan diet is the way forward. Thanks to my daily, dedicated Ashtanga Yoga practice, I know of the effects that eating meat and dairy have on my body, and I know that animals do not deserve to die for my indulgence. Given the choice, I oppose serving my guests with platters of death. Veggie buffets tend to be easier on the budget, too, and there are plenty of awesome vegan wedding cakes.

Invite people we don't normally see
There's always uncle Jimmy who your mother has very fond memories of showing her the Roman Basilica in 1973. And your neighbour Cynthia who keeps bringing you cookies because she is lonely. These people sure are nice, but they do not need to be at my wedding. I want to spend the occasion with people dear to my heart. A wedding invite is a lovely gesture, but it shouldn't come from a bad conscience. Our wedding day is not the time to accommodate other people.

Save money on the photographer
My friend Jenn advised me that the one thing we shouldn't economize on is a decent photographer. She had held her own informal wedding in the backyard, with disposable cameras put on tables for people to use... And it didn't go well. Jenn said that while she did get a bunch of nice shots from this, the moments most important to her were lost. Being the photography fiend that I am, it didn't take much convincing; I'm pretty sure the photographer we will hire will end up being the single highest expense in the budget. 

Keep a gift registry
One thing I know is: I won't set up shop as a housewife any time soon. (Even though studies show that most people fall back into traditional gender roles pretty much right after they get hitched.) Rather than pressuring people into spending their money on kitchen supplies we won't actually need, I will ask them for something we will always enjoy: a contribution towards the wedding photos, however small. Like that our guests will help us (and themselves) memorize an important day in our lives. That said, a wedding is only ever the first step of a journey, and never the one goal or defining moment of a woman's life.

Read a gazillion wedding blogs - aaaaaaaaaargh!!!
I have limited myself to two: A Practical Wedding for handy advice and Rock n Roll Bride for a somewhat out of the ordinary approach and pretty pictures. I have stayed away from the other stuff because they tend to reproduce patriarch stereotypes, and also because seeing beautiful things on the Internet has rarely ever done anything for me aside from empty my pockets. I am making sure, too, that it's not just me who does all the party planning and organizing. Oliver and I are in this together, and he has agreed to do his share of the pre-wedding work.

Obsess about every detail
Luckily, when it comes to decorations, my mother-in-law has got it all figured out. She's a table setting tornado with a Master's Degree in Art History, and I won't question her taste. I have not set my heart on a particular colour scheme, flower arrangement or whatever the fuck else it is that other brides obsess about. While I like a good general plan about what happens when as to keep our guests entertained, I trust that some room for happenstance will actually improve the party. Like with anything else in life, really. Letting go usually helps lighten up!  :)

If you would like to get to know Oliver and I a little better, check out our YouTube videos and his tumblr

Feb 18, 2014

Diversity in the Western Yoga Community

Important docu series on diversity in Yoga. And if you're still wondering why you should start practicing, read why Haley gets up at 5.30 every day for her Ashtanga fix.

Dec 14, 2013

Netzfeministischer Jahresrückblick 2013

Heute ist bei mein netzfeministischer Jahresrückblick erschienen. Der Text kann entweder nach dem Klick kostenfrei online gelesen oder im 176 Seiten dicken Jahresrückblick Netzpolitik als eBook oder Printausgabe käuflich erworben werden. Außer meinem sind darin Artikel von Edward Snowden, Sascha Lobo, Dirk von Gehlen und Stefan Niggemeier enthalten. Leseempfehlung!

Dec 10, 2013

Ashtanga Yoga und Tattoos

Letzte Woche ist die neue Ausgabe des kostenlosen Online-Magazins ROSEGARDEN erschienen, zu dem ich einen Beitrag über Ashtanga Yoga und Tattoos beitragen durfte. Als kleines Schmankerl ist dem Text ein Interview mit meinem Lehrer David Robson angehängt, der selbst weiß, wie sich das Surren einer Tätowiernadel anfühlt. Los geht es auf Seite 50, Feedback immer wieder gerne.

Oct 30, 2013

Wer nicht isst, bleibt dumm

Teresa Bücker und Mario Sixtus haben einen Clip gedreht, in dem es um Essstörungen geht. Ein thematischer Dauerbrenner und vor dem genannten Hintergrund dessen, dass das tägliche Kalorienrechnen immer Hirnkapazitäten frisst, die an anderer Stelle konstruktiver eingesetzt werden könnten, auf jeden Fall ein Denkanstoß zum Umgang mit der Problematik. Unter dem Titel "Kriegserfahrungen" hat Teresa ihre Punkte im Film auf ihrem Blog außerdem schriftlich ergänzt.  

Sep 17, 2013

"Überwachte Gesellschaft" - Das erste E-Book zum Alltag nach PRISM

iRights.Media hat heute früh das E-Book "Überwachte Gesellschaft" veröffentlicht. Darin enthalten sind Texte und Interviews, die sich mit der Frage beschäftigen, was die derzeitige Totalüberwachung des Internets durch diverse Geheimdienste eigentlich für unsere Gesellschaft bedeutet. Neben Essays wie "Auf dem Weg zum Überwachungsstaat" finden sich in der Datei auch eine Chronologie der Enthüllungen des Whistleblowers Edward Snowden sowie Einschätzungen zum Thema Datensicherheit in der Cloud.
Das E-Book kann für 4,99€ auf Amazon und iTunes erworben oder - zumindest in Teilen - aus bereits auf erschienenen Artikeln umsonst zusammengeklaubt werden. Es wird im Zuge neuer Enthüllungen aktualisiert werden und steht unter einer Creative Commons-Lizenz, seine Weitergabe ist also ausdrücklich erwünscht.

Aug 14, 2013

It Can Wait

"From One Second To The Next" is Werner Herzog's heartbreaking new documentary on texting and driving. Watch this full length clip to be reminded that whatever it is you think you need to say, it can wait til you're there.

Jul 22, 2013

GCB Tests: The Ruby Cup

The Ruby Cup

tldr: Eco-friendly, cheap, convenient. Absolute recommendation! 

Not too long ago, I received an email asking me whether I'd like to test Ruby Cup, a re-usable menstrual hygiene product developed by a female-run social business. According to the email, Ruby Cup was a healthy, safe, convenient, cost-saving and environmentally friendly way of dealing with your monthly business (or, as coined by Stan, "shark week"): You insert it, leave it alone for four to twelve hours depending on your flow, take it out to empty it, and put it back in. Every month, after your period is done, you boil it in hot water and put it away until next month. Sounded easy as pie.

Originally designed for women in developing countries, the advantages of the cup are obvious for women anywhere: Less tampon waste, less money spent every month, no need to run to the bathroom every couple of hours, no drying out of your vagina's natural balance. And since the Ruby Cup is made of non-allergenic medical grade silicone, it can be used up to ten years. A totally novel concept for me - I had only ever used disposable tampons. Admittedly, I was a little worried about whether I really would be able to do "everything", as the product's 'You can do everything!' slogan indicates. "Everything" to me includes lots of Yoga, upside down poses on the later days of my period, and being generally active just as I would be using tampons.

With the Ruby Cup in hand, I was prepared for a long session in the bathroom to figure out how to place it right. Turns out, inserting it took only about two seconds longer than a tampon would have. The idea is to create a leak-proof vacuum by putting the cup right up the cervix. Depending on your anatomy and preferences, you can then shorten the little knob at the lower and of the cup that you would use to pull it back out (I just left it). If all goes well, just like with tampons, you won't feel a thing of the cup. For me, in the very beginning, I did feel a little more pressure on my bladder, but that went away as soon as I moved around a little; one of the advantages of silicone is that it warms up with your body and becomes flexible. So flexible, in fact, that it wanders right up to where it needs to sit almost by itself. 

Taking the Ruby Cup out was a bit of a dance the first couple of times, similar to when you start using contacts. And I do have to say that even with practice, it is not the most comfortable of feelings. I really had to activate my lower abs and pelvic floor, because it does sit a little higher up than an ordinary tampon would. Working against the vacuum still feels unusual and, frankly, can be quite hard work. But you get used to it quickly and I'd rather spend half a minute longer in the bathroom than keep on spending money for tampons or worrying about tampon strings. I'm so happy those strings are gone! So don't get disheartened if working the cup needs a little practice - I found it was totally worth it.

How to use the Ruby Cup. (Source)
Once the Ruby Cup's out, the bloody cup is a bit of mess, but you get used to that, too. There was just one incident when it leaked due to my mistake (I got that fixed by taking it out and re-inserting it).

By the end of my period, I had gotten used to working the cup with similar ease like I would have tampons. I found the Ruby Cup especially great during the last couple of days of my period. Because you can let it sit for up to 12 hours, I only had to remove it once in the morning and once at night - ideal for travelling (but do watch out for bathrooms where the sink is located outside of the toilet booth - you might not want to wash your used cup for everyone to see.)

The Ruby cup comes at 27,95€ a piece or 45,95€ for a double pack - just order with a friend or give the other one away. You can find the online shop here. They also have an FAQ section.

Have you made your own experiences with (other) menstrual cups? Would love to hear about them in the comment section! 

* Full disclosure: I have not received any money to write this positive review, just a product sample. *

Jul 3, 2013

EntdeckerInnen gesucht!

Noch bis zum 22. Juli können sich BloggerInnen für einen beinahe kostenlosen Kurztrip nach Neuseeland bewerben (Reisezeitraum: Ende September bis Anfang Oktober). Die Teilnahme an der Ausschreibung ist einfach, nur das Kleingedruckte will beachtet werden. Weitere Informationen gibt es hier.

Jun 20, 2013

Fuck Yeah Missy Magazine!

Falls Ihr es nicht längst habt, holt Euch noch das aktuelle Missy Magazine bevor es wieder aus den Kioskregalen verschwindet. Ich finde das Heft ja eh gut, aber die aktuelle Ausgabe ist wirklich ganz besonders gelungen! Danke Chris, Sonja, Stefanie, Katrin und Margarita für so viel erhellenden Input.

Jun 7, 2013

GCB Shares: Get Involved!

Im September findet in verschiedenen Städten wieder die Social Media Week statt. Noch werden Mitwirkende und SpeakerInnen gesucht. Mehr Infos findet Ihr hier.

 “Together for Europe - Advocate Europe”, an initiative supported by Germany’s Stiftung Mercator, promotes ideas that show enthusiasm for the European cause. The Mercator Foundation will award up to € 50,000 to small and medium-sized projects that are innovative, politically and socially relevant, and directly related to real life. Deadline for applications is 30 June 2013, find more info on the programme and how to submit grant applications here.

Project-E sucht immer wieder PraktikantInnen, die gerne für eine Weile in Äthiopien leben und arbeiten möchten.

Das Team for Youth Association sucht ab 01. Juli zwei Freiwillige aus Deutschland, die für acht Monate in Rumänien leben möchten. Währenddessen soll mensch sich direkt für Schulen, Jugendzentren und andere Orte für junge Menschen einsetzen. Zum Abschluss des Programms soll ein einwöchiger "Carneval of Non-Formal Education" gestaltet werden. Weitere Infos bitte so schnell wie möglich per Email beim CGE Erfurt e.V. (, 0361 602 1515) erfragen.

Ebenfalls über den CGE Erfurt e.V. läuft der internationale Trainingskurs „Equal chances for all – a chance for a better future“, der vom 23.06. bis 02.07.2013 in Vranjacka Banja, Serbien stattfindet. Dafür werden noch zwei TeilnehmerInnen aus Deutschland gesucht (keine Altersbeschränkung):
The training tackles the topic of social inclusion and combating marginalization towards migrant and minorities which main objectives to develop how to use different models used for integration of minorities in society. This TC will bring together young people, youth workers and leaders involved in inclusive projects coming from Italy, Republic of Macedonia, Albania, France, Bulgaria, Croatia, Turkey Bosnia and Herzegovina, Spain, Israel, Latvia, Greece, Netherland, Montenegro, Kosovo, Germany and Serbia who are working with minority or migrants or who want to learn and understand how to include minority and migrant youth in social life. Its main aim is to develop the skills and knowledge of youth workers and youth leaders and to make them more prepared to contribute to social inclusion and active participation of minority and migrant youth. 
Die Reisekosten werden zu 70% erstattet, Unterkunft und Verpflegung sind frei. CGE Erfurt e.V. berechnet eine Bearbeitungsgebühr in Höhe von 38 EUR. InteressentInnen melden sich bitte umgehend bei unter Angabe des Betreffs TC Chances13 SB.

Hier könnt Ihr an einer Studie zum Thema Einwanderung in Deutschland teilnehmen und so die entsprechende Forschung unterstützen. 

Call for Papers:

Citizens for Europe is currently inviting submissions for their Open Citizenship magazine. Topic: "The promise of urban citizenship: Lessons for Europe": 
"The upcoming issue of Open Citizenship will examine how we can conceive of a politically active, legally protected and socially embedded citizen beyond the nation-state, specifically in cities. Cities create a shared identity for their inhabitants, provide a clear place of action and are often sites of innovative citizen engagement and active citizenship. In this issue, we will shine a light on what is happening in cities in order to learn lessons applicable to European citizenship and point out emerging challenges and concerns. Can urban citizenship and a local, residency-based organisation of rights and duties serve as an alternative to nation-state and supranational citizenship regimes? How can we appropriately define its scope in terms of civil, political and social rights and duties and how can we position it vis-à-vis national, supranational and even global scales?"
Different types of contributions are allowed: Academic essays, commentaries, reviews, etc. Abstracts will be accepted until June 17th, 2013. Submission deadline for full articles is July 15th, 2013. Please send your abstracts, submissions and questions to: For more info check out their website.

Die Deutsche Nachwuchsgesellschaft  für Politik- und Sozialwissenschaft sucht Vortragende (nur Studierende und Promovierende) für eine Fachtagung zum Thema Sport und Gesellschaft im November 2013 in Kiel. Auch Genderthemen sind willkommen! Einsendeschluss für Papers ist der 14. August 2013. Weitere Infos hier.

In Berlin:

Am 24. Juni findet an der FU Berlin die Gründungsveranstaltung von Academics Stand Against Poverty (ASAP) statt. Eingeladen sind alle Interessierten, vor allem jene, die die deutsche Zweigstelle der Initiative mitaufbauen möchten. Anmeldung und weitere Workshopinfos über, die internationale Projektseite findet sich hier.

May 30, 2013

What's 'Provocative', Anyway?

Here's Laurie Penny saying some very smart and interesting things yet again. Her blog has moved to a new address, by the way, so make sure to click the link and update your reader!

May 29, 2013

Mobile Education mitentwickeln!

Am 11. Juni findet im betahaus in Berlin um 15.30 Uhr ein offener Workshop zum Thema Mobile Education statt. Eingeladen sind Developer, Kreative und Lehrer, die ihre Erfahrungen austauschen und zur Entwicklung von Innovationen im Bereich mobile Bildung beitragen möchten. Für die Teilnahme wird lediglich eine Anmeldung per E-Mail unter Angabe des beruflichen Hintergrundes benötigt. E-mail Adresse für die Anmeldung sowie weitere Informationen zum Workshop findet Ihr hier.

May 28, 2013

Submit Your Session Proposal to OKCon

Photo: Source
The Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) just extended their call for proposals by a week. Submitting is simple and takes barely more than five minutes, given you have an open data related session idea up your sleeve. Find more info on the event and its submission guidelines here, new deadline for applications is 31 May.

May 25, 2013

Notes on Mysore Rooms, Mindfulness, Feminism, and Sex

Photo source:
tldr: Mysore rooms must be safe spaces. Teachers must ensure that and are not supposed to look at their students in a sexual way. For students, there’s no need to suffer through bad and inappropriate adjustments. You can always just leave. Yoga is not a competition/ performance/ beauty contest.
Remember how I said I was going to tie in feminism and Yoga more? Well, tonight’s assistant teacher training gave me my first cue: We learned about how to act mindfully in the Mysore room. And while we didn’t talk about the issue from a feminist perspective, I wanted to give it some feminist thought.
Since a combination of factors makes Mysore rooms special places, teachers and their assistants are responsible for making them safe spaces. Safe spaces are spaces where you can let your guard down because there is no need to fear discriminatory behaviour. They are a concept I first came across in feminist writings. All Yoga rooms - not just Mysore rooms - need to be made such safe spaces. This is not only because certain poses might trigger memories of sexual violence or abuse, but because these rooms work along power structures, too. We might or might not have been aware of that, just like some of us might or might not have been aware of the fact that they’re feeling uncomfortable in down dog for a reason. 
In any given Mysore room, everyone should be able to practice, irrespective of their gender, skin colour, sexual orientation, body type or ailments. We should be able to feel comfortable in our bodies without having to fear even so much as a sexual thought coming our way from teachers or assistants. This is important because thoughts alone create energy - and I’m saying this in the least esoteric way possible, maybe just think of ‘vibes’ instead. That energy will waft through the room and affect its atmosphere, even when unintentional. Similar to aggressive or competitive behaviour maybe, or a strong smell that cannot be contained.
Traditional Ashtanga Yoga Mysore style is a very physical, sweaty practice, that requires one-on-one attention and hands-on adjustments. As someone once put it: “Assisting in a Mysore room is basically cattle roping.” Lying on top of each other for relaxation at the end of a practice is frequent and generally desired. Physical contact is intense, and both male and female assistants need to watch where they’re putting their stuff in assists (*hint*: far away from student bums!). This does not just apply to men: I have heard from many guys that they don’t like feeling female pubic bones rub up their backs, either. And from personal experience I can tell you that putting your chest onto strangers needs some getting used to, too.
So as much as we might like to lead monk-y, chaste lifestyles and think pure thoughts only, I doubt that this is the reality of what’s going on most of the time. In fact, as I just learned tonight, the mind is processing 30.000 automatic, involuntary thoughts every day. And we all know those statistics about how often we think about sex. Very often. So even when looking at half-naked people in a non-sexual way over multiple hours seems like an impossible task for Yoga teachers and assistants, they will have to make a conscious, concentrated effort. Tough one! But as David put it in different contexts: “Yoga is not supposed to be easy” and “your practice doesn’t end on the mat”, right?
Chances are that teachers and assistants will never hear the personal back story of their students in intimate detail. Instead, they will have to assume that what they are seeing in any given person is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. The tip of a rather disturbed iceberg, really. “Never just assume that an adjustment is okay”, is how it our workshop leader put it tonight.
When we think about it, how we approach people makes all the difference. David likes to stress how important it is to be polite with students. And politeness like that automatically respects certain physical boundaries. As soon as these lines are crossed by teachers or their assistants, we students have every right to defend ourselves. And by defend I mean we can refuse adjustments, move our mats, or leave the room altogether and report inappropriate behaviour to someone in charge. There is no need to suffer through bad adjustments! If a teacher touches your private parts, (s)he is supposed to apologize. If this happens frequently, I would advise you to unroll your mat somewhere else. Yoga is supposed to make us feel better about ourselves, not worse.
Which leads me right to last point: It really doesn’t matter what you wear to practice, as long as you feel comfortable in it. If you need high-end sportswear to feel adequate, think about why that might be the case. Surely, there’s nothing wrong with looking good and treating yourself to nice equipment, but please don’t let others create fake needs and silly standards you feel you have to live up to. Don’t even worry about what they might think. It’s all in your head; in any decent Mysore room, no one would even notice, let alone care. Yoga is no competition, and Mysore rooms are certainly not catwalks. Every serious practitioner of Yoga will agree on that. No need to wear make-up, either. It will just melt away. And those heels that you’re wearing to “improve” your posture… once you realize what they are doing to your leg muscles, tendons and bone structure, you might want to consider getting svelter legs by committing to a regular practice instead. A regular practice in a well-attended to Mysore room where you will be welcome for the no frills, sweaty awesomeness that you are.

This post appeared first on Yogannina. The David I refer to is David Robson of Ashtanga Yoga Centre of Toronto.

May 19, 2013

This Is How I Work

Wenn Trotzendorff mich so freundlich darum bittet, einen lustigen Fragebogen über private Gewohnheiten auszufüllen, sage ich natürlich nicht nein. Nach dem Sprung also mehr dazu, wie ich arbeite.