The awkward turtle

Celebrating the failings of a successful person

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Dating tips for the romantically impaired

1. Always be yourself: yes, it is true, you should never try to be someone you’re not and that is a truth I take in earnest when it comes to the dating world. Even though myself is slightly  very geeky, slightly arrogant and painfully sarcastic, I nevertheless use this as my opening offer personality in the world of dating…I’m currently single.

2. Don’t flirt: flirting is an absolute no-no in unsuccessful dating. You should always aim to steer away from any sexual undercurrents in your conversations, how else will you be sure if they like you for you? Do this even at the risk of seeming prudish, frigid, and lacking a sense of humour.

3. Never show humility: why would you want to give the impression that you are a nice person who acknowledges that everyone is human, in other words, not perfect. It is imperative to go to extreme lengths to protect your perfect persona even if this undermines tip 1.

4. Lay your cards on the table: Complete transparency is important when you meet a new romantic candidate. It removes any sense of mystery which might add to your allure, and cuts the getting to know each other process in half. It also tells the person that you are not a game-player, even if game-playing is fun, there are essentially no winners.

I have recently come to the realisation that I am the anti-dating guru. Everything that I sincerely believe about dating – i.e those points previously addressed – has left me questioning whether I know anything at all. At 22 years old I should be in the prime of my life, I will never again possess such a tremendous combination of feminine prowess and girlish innocence, and yet whilst confined in the bloom of my years I have not mastered a way to channel these mythical powers. I have however, succeeded in pushing any potential suitor away; I am consistently, and persistently, a reluctant Juliet. I once found myself on a date by refusing to acknowledge that it was such an arrangement. The suitor took me to a Muay Thai gymand as one who has always been in awe of martial arts, I enjoyed myself immensely. After an hour and half sweating, punching and kicking, Mr Suitor decided it would be a nice touch for us both to get in the ring; a bit of rough-and-tumble if you will. Bearing in mind I’m rather competitive, boisterous, and know how to throw a punch, is it surprising that the romantic tussle he had envisaged ended with me landing two punches to his face? That was the last time I saw Mr Suitor. For the record he did message me, I guess it took my willingness to punch him for me to realise I was just not that into him.

Now Mr Guy I was into. So into in fact, that I forgot all the tricks that come instinctively to me when I want to ward off unwanted prey. Needless to say I did not leave a customary 2 days to reply to his messages, the likes of which had been applied to Mr Suitor, because in my mind it made sense to be prompt when you like somebody. I also found the need to be right, or appear clever, to be very important to me; I corrected him on the etymology of the word karaoke – by the way karaoke is a Japanese word, it comes from kara meaning empty and okesutora meaning orchestra – at risk of revealing my true geek colours too soon. And I managed to misinterpret him on more than one occasion because I was too proud to admit I didn’t know what HAM stood for (for all those equally ignorant of this acronym it means Hard As a Motherfucker, not as I guessed, Amsterdam. When I was 12 I did call it Hamsterdam so it came as the only logical answer).

Mr Guy soon lost interest in our short-lived textation, and whilst I did spend the first 3 days of silence berating myself for not trying to be a more easy-going, coy, and uncomplicated human being, I soon smiled to myself as the energy I would have to spend trying to hide my inner freak would be exhausting. Plus I honestly wouldn’t want to be any different.

ps. When asked the dreaded question, “So why are you single?” I’ve found the answer, “There are worse tragedies in life” to be a tad on the heavy side.


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Why I think the Universe is against me

One day after celebrating the milestone of finally purchasing a flight to Thailand, I sit down to watch the News only to see the very aircraft model I will be flying on being reported for “Safety Concerns”. Cue the world crashing down around me….

BBC News report:

17 January 2013 Last updated at 14:48

Boeing 787 Dreamliners
There are 50 Boeing 787 Dreamliners at airlines around the world

All of Boeing’s 50 flagship 787 Dreamliners have been temporarily taken out of service amid safety concerns.

The US and European aviation agencies said planes should be grounded while safety checks are carried out on their lithium ion batteries.

They are worried that the batteries could leak, corroding vital equipment and potentially causing fires.

Boeing said it stood by the integrity of the Dreamliner, which has been in service since October 2011.

Grounding aircraft on this scale over safety concerns is rare. The last time the FAA ordered a general grounding of an aircraft model was in 1979, when McDonnell Douglas DC-10s were grounded following a fatal crash.

Continue reading the main story

Who owns Dreamliners?

Source: Boeing

A string of issues in recent weeks have raised questions about the 787.

Dreamliners have suffered incidents including fuel leaks, a cracked cockpit window, brake problems and an electrical fire. However, it is the battery problems that have caused the most concern.

On Wednesday, an All Nippon Airways (ANA) flight made an emergency landing because of a battery fault and fire smoke in one of the electrical compartments.

ANA said the battery in the forward cargo hold was the same type as the one involved in a fire on a Japan Airlines Dreamliner at a US airport last week.

battery was taken from the ANA Dreamliner which had to perform an emergency landing this weekSafety inspectors are looking at a battery taken from an ANA Dreamliner earlier this week

Airlines complying

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said that airlines must demonstrate battery safety before flights can resume.

The authority added that it had alerted the international aviation community of its airworthiness directive, so that other authorities could take parallel action to cover the fleets operating in their countries.

The European Aviation Safety Agency endorsed the directive early on Thursday.

All eight airlines currently flying Boeing 787s have grounded the planes.

  • All Nippon Airways and Japan Airways have grounded their combined fleet of 24 787s

  • United Airlines, the only US airline currently operating Dreamliners, said it would immediately comply with the FAA’s directive and would begin re-accommodating customers on alternative aircraft

  • Chile’s LAN announced it would suspend its three Dreamliners from service in co-ordination with the Chilean Aeronautical Authority

  • Indian aviation regulators ordered Air India to stop operating its 787s

  • Poland’s Lot Airlines, the only European airline currently flying 787s, was due to launch its 787 transatlantic service this week, but cancelled a return flight from Chicago to Warsaw on Wednesday

  • Qatar Airways, which currently operates five Dreamliners, said it had grounded the planes and was “actively working with Boeing and the regulators to restore full customer confidence in the 787”

  • Ethiopian Airlines said it was taking its 787s out of service as a precautionary measure


Things I'm forced to tell myself:
  1. None of these faults resulted in a crash or fatalities
  2. All flights/emergency landings were completed professionally and safety, testament to the capabilities of the pilots
  3. My airline has grounded the offending plane model
  4. Everyone is working overtime to avoid losing money! 
  5. Did I mention I am going to Thailand 🙂 

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Tap Happy, Fly Happy

“This self (your ego)… possesses some terrifying information. It knows that if it’s lucky, it’s destined to grow old, get sick, and lose everything that it’s grown to love. Then it will die. This is a shortened version of what the world has offered you, which probably leaves you mystified and flabbergasted at the absurdity of this thing we call life.

Into this bleak picture, which inspires fear and even terror, I’d like to introduce a concept that will eliminate the terror. I want you to know that you needn’t subscribe to the idea that you are only this collection of bones and tissues, destined to be annihilated in an aging process.

You’ve emerged from a universal field of Creation that I’ve been calling intention. Life itself is eternal, and you spring from this infinite no thing called life.” – The Power of Intention by Dr Wayne Dyer

Last week I took a step backwards on my road to recovery in a manner that completely caught me off guard – are there any other types? I was making a casual enquiry into flight prices with a travel agent I’ve used before. Instantly, from when I outlined my request, I heard the saleswoman switch-on in the girl who was supposed to help me. I suddenly felt pressured and panicked into buying her offer – “this is the last seat” – and connected that to my already negative feelings towards flying, in the end I thanked her for her help and said I wasn’t quite ready to commit to which she replied “you probably shouldn’t ring around agencies then”. I felt bullied and then my old friend victim-mentality showed up pawning for a scrap of sympathy: “I’m sorry”, I whimpered, “I’m a nervous flyer and I haven’t flown for a while”. At the sound of my own confession I felt myself insides crumbling, so making a timely phone exit I ran to the bathroom. Facing the weakness in me reflected back in the mirror I let out a guttural cry, made even more painful by the freshly applied mascara seeping into my eyeballs. I was a mess and more so because I was so convinced that I had made no progress.

Since then I have thrown myself into obsession seeing what I could do next to beat this thing called fear. What I’d like to do is pull it out of me and give it a good kicking, instead it looks like I’m going to have to talk it out. Violence unfortunately is not the answer.

So now I find myself knocking at EFT’s (Emotional Freedom Technique or tapping) door. Ever since I saw my mum, a nervous all-around traveller, putting it to practise and publicly humiliating me simultaneously, I have shunned any thoughts of EFT. For one it looks stupid. Secondly my mum told me to do it. Some maturation and a lot of desperation later, I have taken back my mocking comments, somewhat reluctantly, and joined the tapping sensation. EFT works in a similar way to acupuncture unblocking energy points in your body. It is easy to use as it works in deep conjunction with your emotional psyche as the source of resistance against your body’s positive energy; in other words it allows you to re-programme your interpretation of emotions and is directly tailored to the individual. With roughly 3 weeks to go before I am due to get on a plane I am surrendering myself to EFT and I have been surprised at the results. Fear is hard to measure; when someone asks you to rate on a scale from 1 – 10 the intensity of fear I often think “I’m either scared or not, right?”. Wrong. I know I’m still scared of flying but the level of panic that I can experience varies and I’ve began to notice that I can still breathe when I picture myself boarding a plane and sitting in a claustrophobic space in the company of a complete stranger who, with any luck, is wearing deodorant.

EFT diagram

EFT diagram

You begin by doing your Set Up on the Karate Chop which is the basic outline of your problem. As mine is directed towards fear of flying I would say: “Even though I have this fear of flying I deeply and completely accept myself”. You continue with the script as you tap along the different body parts. I have seen various techniques for this but the type I like is a progressive script that way it adapts to your resistant subconscious which is never too far away to remind you that you are scared and who are you kiddingPenny Waite’s Happiness Untapped website gives a good example of this, as it addresses my initial scepticism of EFT which was that how could a physical therapy be a match to my cognitive self-sabotage?

I haven’t quite mastered EFT yet but I will continue with it even if it puts me at risk of being that crazy girl on the plane who taps and talks to herself!

Three sites to help sift through mountains of literature on EFT:


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Shadow city

Strolling along the pavement, headphones on, a crisp wind whipping around my torso, I catch sight of the shadow of a psychopath brandishing a huge carving knife in one hand. I frantically search for the shadow’s master and finding that there is no such being ahead of me I safely assume he is at my rear. I throw my arms up to shield me from the last image of my attacker as I swing my body around to face him. To my dismay there is nobody behind me, I am left alone embarrassed and relieved. I glance down at the empty water bottle in my hand, I look back at my guilty shadow mocking me.

No Ti, you are not walking through a haunted forest, your shadow is not a mass murderer. Just another figment of your imagination.

shadow city

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Aviation education

Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out.
– Karl Augustus Menninger

Step 1: Know your enemy.

Planes get a bad press. They are giant masses of metal, heavy and inflexible that glide through the open air at incredible speeds and dizzying altitudes. They flout our understanding of the laws of nature as they are ultimately unnatural. They groan and shake in ways that make your blood grow cold and have been told to spontaneously  combust, crash, fail, rip apart, the culmination of which are the stuff of nightmares. With all these preconceptions of catastrophe with which I associate flying, the only sensible option remains to find out to what extent this is true? I need to distinguish FACT from FICTION.

I read a post written by a private pilot and psychologist Basic Principles of Aircraft Flight, which gave me great insight into the technicalities of flying that as a passenger I never knew, and also the tools for my rational cognition to override my irrational. What I appreciated most about the article is that the author does not attempt to disguise the posed risks of flying, he acknowledges that if something does go wrong during a flight it can go very badly indeed. I found the honesty refreshing though because it meant I took more comfort in the reassurances he offered.

Even with all the engines stopped an airplane can glide back down. Of course, it won’t glide as well as a sailplane, and it can’t climb in an updraft, but it won’t fall like a rock either. Its altitude will be traded for airspeed, and the airspeed will generate enough lift to fly it back down to the ground for a safe landing.

You can also rest assured that pilots are specifically trained to fly an airplane with any number of engines—including all of them—not working. (And on jets, if an engine catches fire, built-in fire extinguishers will put out the fire.) Getting back to the ground after an emergency might be scary, but you will likely survive.

The facts laid out reminded me of a few things: primarily that the pilot is trained and makes decisions for the best and safest flight and landing possible, secondly that I am not the only person who wants to survive!

On a train journey the subtlest whir of an engine or obscure groan can set alarm bells ringing in my head. I imagine the transportation as a live vessel and the creaking or scraping of metal against metal as a seeping wound that marks the impending destruction of the train/shuttle/plane that carries me. The author outlines some of the common sounds you would hear during a flight ie the engine throttle back when levelling off for cruise, or the whirring of flaps and spoilers as they are extended for descent and landing. With this collected information I can build a flying context that is unthreatening to my rationale which whilst is still not able to cope with the unexpected, can at least feel more control over discomfort.

The most beneficial part of this article is the author’s aviation knowledge combined with an awareness of the psychological impact of panic. I have read tons of literature on panic attacks and often scoffed at the people who recommend telling yourself to stop. Well genius, if it were that simple I would have been cured by now. Here the physiological reaction to fear is explained which is one that once triggered cannot be reversed by mere verbalizing, so I will sign off with this last copy & paste extract:

The part of your brain that causes you to panic when you feel the discomfort of turbulence is a primitive part of the brain that understands behavior, not language, and that has been conditioned to equate emotional distress with physical danger. When your body feels the first bumps of turbulence, your brain interprets it as a danger and sends out the signal to pump out fight-or-flight chemicals that cause physiological arousal.

Now, at this point you have two options.

If you believe that there is a danger, and that you have to do something to fight against it, you only encourage your brain to keep on pumping out more fight-or-flight chemicals, and eventually this process escalates and you fall into a panic. Moreover, you can’t stop the panic by telling yourself to stop panicking. As I said before, the part of your brain responsible for the panic doesn’t understand language. It only understands behavior—and this brings us to your second option.

The only way to stop the panic is to act in a way that tells your brain that there is no danger. So stop fighting. Instead of fast, shallow breathing take long, slow, deep breaths. Instead of staring around in a frenzy, close your eyes. Instead of clenching the arms of your seat, loosen your grip. Relax all your muscles and just sink down into your seat. This behavior will tell your brain that you are not in danger, and subsequently your brain will shut down the fight-or-flight chemicals—and you will experience a calm relief.

Furthermore, the next time you experience the first bumps of turbulence, remember what you have read here and tell yourself, “It’s OK. This is distress more than danger.” Take your hands and feet off the “controls” and let the plane fly itself. Take slow, deep breaths. Close your eyes. Relax your muscles. And then any of the first sputters of fight-or-flight response will just dissipate.

 Happy flying 🙂

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A New Year For Conquering Fears

The New Year  is here and this month I have one goal to take precedence above all others; to conquer my fear of flying. The aim is to fly out to Thailand for a month in February to fulfill a promise to a friend and a long-enduring desire to explore South East Asia. For almost 2 years I have experienced panic attacks, something that first occurred on a flight in Colombia and which has since been triggered on trains, in underground tunnels, or in crowded situations without an obvious exit route.

Edvard Munch's 'The Scream of Nature' sums it up pretty darn well

This is what I look like on the inside during a panic ‘moment’

This pass month I’ve already experienced a difference in my train journeys, I no longer get the sweaty palms and I know when to expect a certain jerk during my usual route. I can now sit back and look out the window sometimes without even any music on. When I do feel the tightness of breath or the tension building in my muscles I remember to breathe, – inhale for 3, exhale for 4 – click ‘play’ on my Ipod and close my eyes.

I am conquering the trains.

Flying is a different beast however. I have always held a casual dislike of flying but ever since the first panic attack I am now the proud owner of a crippling fear. For one thing I am trapped for a prolonged time, (11 hours + to Bangkok), once you’re inside you cannot leave until you have landed again. I am convinced I will be on the plane that crashes; we’re all statistics right?? I already imagine I know what it feels like to die, that is what I experience when I have a panic attack so why would I want to endure that feeling ever again? Then there’s the turbulence: my stress levels exasperate, my palpitations increase to countless beats per second, my palms are so sweaty I cannot even grip them together for comfort. I try to focus on all those good words, those good thoughts, breathe, but my mind is spinning. I am going to die and I can’t even process my dying thoughts. BREATHEI go through cycles of this the entire flight. Music will not save me. If I plummet to the ground my family may never recover my body. I am not ready to meet my Maker, what if He’s angry with me?

Disclaimers: I cannot draw, those are not breasts depicted but me strangling myself (clearly)

Disclaimers: I cannot draw, those are not breasts depicted but me strangling myself (clearly)

This is what I anticipate will happen when I fly which in turns makes me anxious before I’ve even arrived at the airport = anxiety.  In addition to that I am paranoid, superstitious, claustrophobic, pessimistic, soplistic 

But it has been over a year and I have dreamed of travelling, exploring, discovering for as long as I can remember so I accept my 2013 challenge.

Follow my journey to overcome the irrational (rational?) fear of flying

Proposed methods: plane education, counselling, tapping, hypnotherapy, drugs 

Sharing is caring so any fellow flying-phobics are welcome to comment 🙂

Panic Attack Symptoms
Panic attacks are characterized by development of several symptoms which may include:
  • pounding heart, increased heart rate (tachycardia)
  • chest pain (you feel like having a heart attack)
  • sweating, chills, or hot flushes
  • shaking and trembling
  • nausea
  • stomach cramps
  • muscle aches and pains
  • dizziness (feel lightheaded and unstable)
  • fear of losing control, paranoia
  • fear of dying
  • hyperventilation
  • a sense of suffocation
  • derealisation (distorted sense of reality)
  • depersonalisation (feeling disconnected from your body, like you are in a dream)