On the 32nd Road of Life.

And I assure you, the roads after 30 don’t end up in the dark tunnel, the way we feared it in our sweet twenties. 

Looking back at myself from my twenties, I remember that thinking about becoming thirty felt like the end of the world and the very end of life. I thought nothing more would be coming after that and everything should have been achieved by then. 

We are generally influenced by all the mid-twenty year’s old rotten stories, 30-under30 list, all the achievements of others like getting married to the perfect match and starting their own family. The fear of missing out made it hard to breathe, didn’t it? But we need to understand that, their goal does not have to be ours. Their timing does not have to match with ours and that’s totally okay. We need to be kind to ourselves. Moreover, the tenth page of your life could already be the first page of someone else. Some of us are more privileged than others therefore this whole idea of comparing yourself with others does not really help. 

And just because you don’t have what everybody has at the same age, it doesn’t make you less accomplished. It only means you are born to do extraordinary things and fulfil some other purpose. 

I can happily say that turning 30 has been a true blessing. I am more at ease with myself, I found my purpose, my focus and I learned that “life at 30” has been entirely different than how I imagined it to be when I was 20 years old. To me, this realization has been eye-opening. Never was I able to take myself so seriously before.

And honestly, for me, taking a hot bubble bath instead of wearing uncomfortable high heels on a Saturday night is way more satisfying. 

Tell you what? In order to grow steady, you must first kill the pest that shunts your growth. And therefore growing might feel like breaking at first. Don’t give up.

Stop worrying about yesterday. It is already gone, the decisions are made and there is no way you can undo things. What about tomorrow? Well, you don’t know what might come. We can’t know the future. All we have for certain in our hands is present. The time of now. Today is all you have got. Today is where you can change things. Today is where you can choose to make a difference. Today you can smile at someone to make their day better. Today you can be kind and today is all you have in your hands. This is the moment where you are able to have all or nothing. Yes or No. Good or Bad. Happy or sad. It is your choice. What or whom you let win over yourself, now you get to decide. 

I am not standing at the farther end of life already and I too am like many of you, still a traveller of life. But based on whatever I learned about life so far, I would say, take that step now that you are always thinking about but never had the courage to do so. Well, honestly! What could happen in the worst case? Your life won’t end there, right? Then go for it, please!

In the worst case, you will fall. But even if you fall and things didn’t work out you will still learn something. Only because you have one way in front of you it does not need to be the right one. Life sometimes takes us to different destinations. Way far away from what we expected. And you know what? That’s beautifully perfect. 

Please, stop finding excuses for not wearing that amazing red dress. If you love it, then wear it. 

If you fear you are growing old, then let me tell you, growing older is a privilege. And we should treat every wrinkle like a treasure. You are perfect the way you are. Start complimenting yourself and others because what else can make someone happier than receiving a sincere compliment? 

Get up and live life! Create an identity for yourself beyond your job role. You are not what you do professionally. It does not have to be that way, always. 

We have got one life. Let’s please not spend it only trying to fit in, doing things only for validation and acceptance. We can do better than that by finding and living our own purpose.  

And if you are still not convinced, let me stop with a small story. When I travelled through Cuba in 2019, a wise old lady told me; “Darling, always count your age by the numbers of memories, not by the numbers of years.” That has stuck with me and it always brings a smile on my face whenever I ponder upon my journey of life. 

So forget about your age, forget about every number you believe defines you and live your life to the fullest.

You can.

You will.

End of story.

Go, make it happen while I make mine happen. 

And oh, here is to my 32nd birthday. Cheers!

Lots of Love,

Astrid

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Mind your tongue

Your language has power – use it wisely.

Language shapes the way we think. When we talk, we don’t only talk to each other. We use our language. It doesn’t matter where you are from and which national language you are using. What matters is how we use our language for ourselves and others.

How do you want to talk about yourself? And why can’t you use the same words of kindness, and love for yourself as you use for others?
Currently, I learned a lot about Emotional Intelligence and it made me even more aware of how important our language and the communication skill is. If it is in a small conversation like we have it at the coffee kitchen in our offices or a debate in front of 1000 People. How we use our language is how we present ourselves to the world. And it makes no difference if you are talking in person or writing it. Wrong words or the wrong use of words can hurt people anyway.

Are you mindful of the language you use? What is okay and what is not? Have you ever thought about how you communicate with people and how it could make them feel? Are we in some topics specifically walking on toes to just not make any mistake but forget about how we offend others by talking without caring our language?

Do you know there is already a movement of its kind that encourages people to be mindful of the language they use? Have you heard of “inclusive language”? I too was unaware, until I stumbled upon it and the idea itself impressed me a lot.

An active way of doing it is choosing inclusive language as a solution.
I would like to start with the definition of inclusive language.
It is the language that proposes to avoid the use of certain expressions or words that might be considered offending or alienating to particular groups of people.

Now to dive into this topic we need to go closer into these words and their use. Because what word we use is a decision, not only a habit. We own 171’146 words in current use in the English language according to the Oxford English Dictionary. So why do we only use the one we know for certain things without thinking twice about their meaning.

Did you know, your words can be hurtful? Can make you less approachable? Might be offensive?

Can create an inclusive environment? Can we promote kindness and compassion?

To give you some examples of what I am talking about and let me start with a negative example.

I know a beautiful autistic boy but, I still love him.

What sounds wrong in this sentence? What feels wrong for you? All in all, it is not a bad sentence, it is not meant to hurt anybody, not the boy, not his family, actually no one. What do you think, why it will still hurt him? Why he might feel he is doing wrong or feeling unwanted? Let me explain.

Does it matter if he is a boy or a girl? Why can’t I just say I know a beautiful boy and I love him? Does his disability makes such a big change if I love him or not?
No one in the entire world should be called by his disability or be reduced to it. Did this sweet innocent child choose autism? No, of course not.
And then there is this one small word which changes the whole meaning. BUT. If you think about yourself, how many times someone used this small word and it hurt you. Deeply. I love you BUT. You did a great job BUT. Language can hurt, even if we are not wanting to hurt. It can happen. mistakes can happen.

So let me rephrase this sentence now in two versions. First version if it needs to mention autism and also here I want to admit it is good to talk about it, to make the world aware of it to make these important topics normal and include them in our knowledge and share awareness. It is needed to, but it is important, to use the right language. Because no Person with autism (or anything else that troubles the person dealing with it) deserves to be reduced on that. The second Version is without mentioning that, showing the meaning for the first sentence in inclusive language.

I know a beautiful child who has autism, and I love this child endlessly.
or
I know a beautiful child whom I love endlessly.

Do you feel the difference? Now that we removed this negative meaning and pointing out to something that isn’t needed because it is painful.

Words may not intend to exclude or hurt others but mistakes can be made. And these mistakes can have a significant impact on other people. So it is important to be mindful of how we communicate to help create a supportive and inclusive environment.

Try it for yourself, how does it makes a difference for you and for others in being aware, what language you use. I would love to hear your story or experience in the comments below, but please in the inclusive language if I may ask you.

Thank you, dear reader, for giving me your time today, I hope I could give you something to take with you on your journey.

Love what you do,
Astrid

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Kissing 2020 a goodbye with moist eyes and a smiling face

This year was truly special to everyone. The world turned upside down in a way we were never aware of. And that is not only because of Covid which changed everything in 2020.

For those whom we lost and those who have lost.

In the early  2020 the world lost wonderful souls in an helicopter accident. Two of these beautiful souls  were Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi Bryant. To me, it was a huge shock since I adored Kobe Bryant for a long time. He was such an inspiration not only on the basketball court but also as a human being. This accident that  took these souls away too soon also changed my outlook towards my own life. 

“Everything – negative, pressure, challenges- is all an opportunity – for me to rise.” 

This quote from Kobe Bryant will forever inspire me. 

And yes, he lives in thousands of hearts and his message has to be spread over and over again. I won’t stop following my way until I reach what I have set in my mind. An inspiration is gone but his spirit is still here. 

On April 4th, a beautiful woman gave birth to wonderful baby girl named Sara. – who was born still. This unexpected loss, the shock and the pain that followed again showed me how thankful we should be for what we got. She is a true inspiration, while she is healing she is still able to share love and joy and she inspires me everyday. To all of those who lost someone this year I want to say, you are in my thoughts and prayers.

2020 will forever be remembered. It is a year full of ups and downs. A year we never really thought could happen. This year challenged us in many ways.

Professionally. 

Meetings were done remotely and “You are on mute” isn’t just a phrase anymore. Homeoffice isn’t just fun while staying at home instead of our offices. For some of us felt like small private heaven initially but  turned out to be the opposite for some of us.

What are your experiences? Let’s play a small game? challenge. Share your best Homeoffice picture of 2020 and use the hashtag #homeoffice2020

Mentally. 

I am happy and proud to be a part of the masquerade 2020. I don’t want to miss telling my kids in a few years what was happening when the world turned upside down. This wonderful world has been through way more than this and it always found a way to heal. But we also got a warning. We have to be careful for, our loved ones and the environment.

But this time is also painful, we are far  from our loved ones and that’s why it is even more important to ask each other, “How are you?” 

Personally. 

Travelling, meeting friends, visiting a concert, was just not possible, many plans got cancelled. It might be tearful and sad but we should be grateful for what we got. For me, this year had a lot  to offer. I took a step into a whole new world, I have never been before.

Personally I want to say “Thank you” to all our health care workers around the world who are fighting this pandemic.Thank you for staying strong. 

A lot of things broke my heart this year, but exactly these things also gave me strength. The will not to give up and the power to keep going on, even when the destination was undecided. This year has been hard but I am thankful to be here and to make this experience and grow.

This whole new world

In August I got an opportunity to work for Test Master Academy.

At the Test Masters Academy Test Leadership Conference I got the opportunity to write about my personal experience.

After these amazing sessions, I led my own Interview Series for TMACL2020 with speakers.

After a whole month of writing about the conference and interviewing amazing speakers I got another opportunity to write an article for Tea Time with Testers magazine titled 

“Do we need Batman if we have Testers?” 

This experience awakened my passion for writing which I always loved and did with so much passion and that’s the main reason why I am sitting here today writing this first Blog.

Did my first conference talk  for #testflix 

This came to be while I was expecting it the least. I got another chance and I did my first ever public talk.

I remember the day, when I got the message on 10th September 2020, asking if I wanted to be a part of the Testflix Bing  in November 2020. All I had to do was to make an 8 min video about a topic I found important. Well I am not a tester by profession. So I felt pretty overwhelmed. What could  I talk about? What topic would help a tester? Why should someone even want to listen to my talk? But I didn’t hesitate and agreed to present my talk. It could not  be that hard right? I came up with topic which I found important for testers but was not much talked about – Emotional Intelligence. What an honour for me to start something completely new with The Test Tribe.

The topic I chose is really close to my heart and in 2021 you will hear more about it from me, so stay tuned.

It was a blast being a part of this amazing and one of its own kind event. 

All in all I want to say Thank you 2020,

for all the lessons you taught me, good and bad. For slowing down and giving us a little bit of silence. For bringing up new opportunities and a fresh start. 

For teaching me that in every negativity we can find something beautiful. We just need to look closer and open our hearts.

For changing my mind and showing me new ways. For making me realise what I truly need to be grateful for.

Thank you 2020, without you there would be so much missing.

Hello 2021! I am totally ready for you.

Cheers to you and Happy New Year. Stay safe and Love what you do. 

Yours,

Astrid

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