Life is a boat trip – which kind are you on?

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Do you want to live a rich and exciting life, full of joy, growth and endless possibilities? I have yet to meet the person that would answer this question with no. We all strive to create a life to remember and enjoy. Yet, only very few are ready to give what it takes. Or rather, to let go what it takes! You’ve heard it before: Life is a journey. So I want to choose a boat trip as the metaphor of getting my point across.

(1) If you don’t steer, the currants and the wind will. There’s really no such thing as staying in the same place for a long time. Even if you choose to anchor, the weather and the waves will constantly change, so you better be aware of what’s going on around you. Get used to constant change, embrace it and choose your options wisely. It’s the only alternative to being pulled under by it.

(2) Light boats are faster and more flexible than heavy boats – the less stuff you carry the more easily you can react to changes in plan or weather. Have you ever tried slowing down or changing course on a container ship? It takes… forever! And needs significant resources. It’s a different life philosophy, and maybe not a bad one. But not mine. If there’s too much ballast in terms of ‘wrong’ people, things or circumstances holding you back, you have to be ready to throw some of that baggage overboard.

(3) You have to say goodbye a lot! You can remain in one place for a bit, for sure, but when you’re off to the next one, you need to say farewell. That’s not always easy, neither for you not for the people you have met. But if you stay, you should rather get a house. It’s much more comfortable if you decide to stop moving. Just be well aware that the world will not stop moving around you only because you have decided to.

(4) You need to maintain your vessel. It needs to be sharp, well in shape, fueled and taken care of. In our world: Exercise, nutrition and mental health! Rather stay in the harbor for a bit longer if it needs some shaping up, because one thing is for certain: You only have this one boat! Don’t crash it against the rocks or end up in shallow waters. That would be the end of it.

(5) You constantly have to study maps, listen to the weather forecast, learn new skills and seek advice! There’s no such thing as the perfect situation, you will always be subject to the currant, the wind, the waves, other boats, shallow waters and lots of other uncertainties. If you stop learning and being aware of your surroundings, you might sink!

(6) Most of the fun is the experience itself, not the destination, not the amenities on the boat. It’s the wind in your hair. It’s the feeling in your gut when the boat hits a bigger wave. It’s the thrill to navigate through bad weather. It’s the excitement to encounter new and unexpected landscapes. And falling in love with them. Stop only waiting to hit the next harbor. Instead, enjoy the ride!

There’s many different kind of boats, as there are many kinds of people. Some sail with the wind. Some like their motor power. Some enjoy the back seat of a large ferry with a predetermined destination. And some are fine with stand-up paddleboarding.

No matter your style, just make sure you choose the right vessel – and maintain it well!

 

“What would my life have been if…?” – About the poisonous force of regret

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Sometimes it hits me, as I’m sure it hits you. And when it does, it shows no mercy. Moments when we tear up in random places, in random moments, just like that, with no warning. My moments are: Walking through Harvard Yard in Cambridge and feeling the centuries-old holy aura of the place take over my consciousness. Standing in front of the Metropolitan Opera after strolling by Julliard Music School in New York. Being a guest at the grand opening of the Salzburg Festival, dressed in my best attire and hearing a world class performance of Orfeo et Euridice, followed by an intimate reception with the conductor and the choreograph. What is it that both hurts and elevates one so much in these moments?

I’m starting to realize that it’s showing two things. Number one: Your passion! I have a huge addiction to culture and the performing arts, and more specifically to music. That was the easy one. But more importantly number two, as a most painful awakening: the pain we feel in our chests in these moments comes from regret. Regret in its most definite and ultimate sense. Regret to not have included into our lives all that is important to us. Regret to not have read the signs and seen all the crossroads in life when they presented themselves.

Does this sound familiar at all? I bet it does. Lets not over-dramatize. Generally I like my life, and I bet you like yours too. We’ve done many things right. And I’m proud of many of my achievements. But what becomes more and more obvious is that our life is limited, and there is always a certain trade-off in decision making. And that you create your own personal “what-would’ve-happened-if” moments along the way.

For me these key moments are: “What if I would’ve”:

  • practiced the piano more thoroughly when I was still on my strongest learning curve?
  • taken a year off after school to travel the world as I wanted to?
  • made a far more conscious decision about my undergraduate studies in regards to both content and school?
  • accepted the apprenticeship as a journalist with that German economic magazine?

The list goes on and on. And so does life and its complexities. But when you pause, just as in a movie, you start seeing all these different realities unfolding before your inner eyes. What if you would paint a different reality, one that would be the result of different decision making in the past? Let’s dream for a second! I’m pretty sure I would be a journalist and artistic adviser to cultural institutions in classical music internationally. Lots of music and art and innovation and change and interesting people around me. Lots of countries, movement, change and challenge…

Where would you be?

In the end, all that matters is that we accept our current reality as one of many possible ones, but as a clear result of our conscious decision making throughout the years. And although it is an interesting play, one thing is clear: For some reason, they were the right decisions for us at that point. We made them as the people we were back then, not the ones we are today. At the best of our abilities and knowledge – even if (or even because) we had less information, guts, and faith. How much we get to know ourselves only over the years!

Is there a sense in looking back and questioning what if? Maybe. Maybe not. It certainly doesn’t change reality. But sometimes a little dreaming is not the worst thing to do and pays tribute to all the complexities of one’s self. Either way, life is incredibly exciting! A little tearing up once in a while will remind us of this, and of how  incredibly grateful we should all be for this unique journey of life – a continuous chain of decisions.

Live it up! And make smart decisions!

Always yours,

Kathrin

Mental Packlist for 10 Days Noble Silence – a first-timer’s review of Vipassana meditation retreats

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It sounds like a great plot to a legitimate psycho thriller. Eight men and fourteen women from random backgrounds are individually invited to spend 10 days at an a old mansion in the woods of Wisconsin, enjoying free service, lodging and dining under the following precepts: To not leave the premises, to have no social interaction whatsoever, to get up into complete darkness at 4 AM every morning, and to spend 11 hours per day sitting cross-legged on the ground, eyes closed, without any movement or reaction, no matter what happens around them. And day by day, people start disappearing, without a warning, while no-one can talk about it…

What sounds like a nightmare turns out to be one of the most eye-opening and life-altering personal development experiences one could ask for. Some brief words of theory in my own humble language: Vipassana meditation, as taught  by S.N. Goenka, was discovered by Siddhartha Gautama (AKA the “Buddha”) and is a meditation technique with the goal of purifying your mind and regaining control from the subconscious and reactive ego auto-pilot that has been generated through your life’s experiences. Translated into modern-time English, you could probably call it a heavy mental workout, or a deep mind cleanse that lets you see reality free from cravings and aversions – all with the goal of becoming a better person, making more objective decisions and leading a happy and self-sufficient life. This is taught in three steps: Establishing a virtuous lifestyle, developing the ability to master and concentrate your mind, and lastly, by using a state of full awareness, feeling the constant change of physical sensations throughout your body to let the auto-pilot of the mind dissipate into thin air.

Sounds pretty amazing, right? It is! But it also is a long and very exhausting journey that requires a lot of hard work and dedication. A journey that is highly individual and very different from student to student, as everyone works with their own reality, body and mental history. To mentally prepare for this experience and to ensure walking away with all the huge benefits of this program, here are my 5 pieces of advice to consider for your ‘mental’ survival pack list.

(1) Be prepared to endure physical and mental pain! Many friends wished me “lots of fun” and “relaxation”, but most of the time it is the exact opposite. The course is designed for you to live like a monk or a nun, no luxury, no distraction, and a very tight and strictly enforced daily schedule (yes, they get you from your room if you don’t show for meditation on time). The goal is to develop equanimity and endurance. Your body is tortured through hours of sitting, your joints hurt badly, and usually you develop some kind of headache or sickness in the first few days – all of your inner and outer self is telling you to stop what you’re doing and run away. Don’t! Just don’t! Keep at it! Try and start again, and again, and again! Be sure that your situation will change, because it surely will. And if you make it to day 10, you will know exactly what it was worth!

(2) Be very patient with your mind! It’s is a pretty wild beast, and as it’s not used to this level of intensity. It will actually drive you absolutely insane, with no way out, causing emotions from frustration to isolation, apathy, fear and helplessness. The apparently simple task of ‘concentrating on nothing but your natural breath’ turns into a Mission Impossible. Before you know it, your mind has again taken you down the path of thinking, planning, imagining, worrying – even playing funny games with you to keep you from practicing, like a little child! The funnier ones that I experienced were putting an old-school hip hop rap beat under Goenka’s spiritual chants, imagining the whole place blowing up in a mid-western tornado while maintaining noble silence and cross-legged posture, and most strikingly, the face of my boss walking into the door to witness the scene including myself in the middle of it.

(3) Stay open to new ideas and influences! Some of the course will feel very awkward to you. There are theory discourses through semi-professional VHS style videos, lots of Pāli words to get used to, and not a lot of bling-bling or flowery entertainment around the messages and instructions. Remember, this is a non-profit, funded only through donations of previous students who valued the experience enough to donate. Don’t let this fool your technologically spoiled mind. Also, people in the course come from all kinds of backgrounds, so everyone naturally feels out of place. Embrace this as part of the experience and don’t let it make you think that you’re in the “wrong spot” or doing it at the “wrong time” – everyone naturally and always is!

(4) Accept your limitations and weak moments as current reality! Nothing can be more frustrating than sitting through a whole day of meditation, feeling that you haven’t made any progress whatsoever. Understand that this realization is actually progress, and its acceptance is a huge achievement for you! The technique teaches you to embrace the nature of change and to remain non-judgmental, including the upsides as well as the downsides. Take a walk, breathe, accept current reality, and try to not judge yourself – as things will change either way.

(5) Don’t start interpreting your fellow meditation students! It feels absolutely unnatural to go through a process of such mind-altering, challenging and unfamiliar experiences and not be able to understand what people around you think, feel or experience. Noble silence includes prohibiting eye contact, gestures, anything that only barely relates to communication, so your social self will start interpreting their silence as not being affected by anything, not feeling pain, not caring, yes even worse: Isolating you! Always remember that everyone is going through their own sets of challenges and that the course is designed to be a very individual experience – a path that everyone has to walk by themselves.

If you’re still reading: Great job! Because I can tell you fullheartedly that it’s worth every second of hardship, and the feeling on day 10 is second to none (the only comparison I can draw is crossing the finish line at my first marathon). I would absolutely recommend this course to anyone who is genuinely interested in personal development, as you walk away with so much from this, including:

  • the amazing concert of birds in the trees during sunrise on my routine walk break from 5.20 to 5.35 AM every morning
  • the smell of spring in the cool air while watching the trees and plants slowly blossom
  • the level of closeness and friendship you develop with your fellow students without even exchanging one word
  • the feeling of success when the silence is finally broken and your face just naturally starts smiling ear to ear and can’t stop
  • the moments of break-through in your meditation practices
  • the insights into your so-called ego and the manifestations of all your past experiences
  • the genuine gratitude for the people preparing meals and taking care of your well-being

And the list goes on and on.

If you are thinking about taking a course, and you can read through this article feeling challenged but excited about the prospect – just do it! I promise, it’s worth it. For me, this is only the start of a journey to develop my mental capacities and to daily improve my ability of applying the true translation of Vipassana – seeing things as they really are!

Please share this blog with anyone interested, and comment with any additional questions you might have, I will be more than happy to answer them. Also, please check out the organization’s website, read the Wikipedia definition or watch this great movie about how Vipassana was introduced to successfully help reduce relapse rates in Indian prisons.

Anicca, anicca, anicca!

Always yours,

Kathrin

US Road Trip Cross Country – from coast to coast, on and off the I-10

Road Trip 2016

For many, driving from coast to coast at least once in their life is part of living the American dream. It’s a very unique way to explore this amazing country with all of its different climate zones, natural treasures, cultures and states – and last but not least, a real feeling for how long it actually takes you to cross it. As I have moved from San Francisco to Miami, I figured there would be no better way of moving my things than driving them myself. Of all the routes to take, only one stood out because of weather conditions during the month of January – the south route on and off the I-10, not having any snow, and hitting California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and finally Florida.

For anyone who is thinking about doing something similar, here are my personal highlights of the itinerary. There’s obviously a lot more to discover, but when thinking about which places to visit, I would highly recommend at least considering all of the below options for your road trip bucket list.

Highway 1 from San Francisco to Los Angeles, CA – If you have never done this drive, have enough time to start your trip in the City By The Bay and are not driving an oversized U-Haul, I can highly recommend this start to your journey. Some areas of it will make you feel like you’re in paradise, it’s the perfect scenic drive, and the curves up high over the Pacific make you feel like you’re flying. Plan at least two days, rather 3 – it sounds long, and as I had done it twice before I did not include it this time, but I promise you it’s worth it! Stops you should definitely make along the way are the Monterey Aquarium and Cannery Row, Carmel Beach and Downtown, Cafe Nepenthe in Big Sur, Hearst Castle, Santa Barbara and Malibu. In Santa Barbara, definitely have a sundowner on the patio of the Four Seasons – it is absolutely gorgeous!

Joshua Tree National Park, CA – Amazing experience, a must-see, you will feel like you’re in another world! Depending on how much time you want to spend in the park, I can definitely recommend the Lost Horse Mine Trail which you should hike counter-clockwise for the right views. It has some strenuous parts, but all in all a nice 3 hour loop trail experience with great views. Also, drive up to Keys View, it’s worth the views over Coachella Valley and Salton Sea. A definite must-see: Sunset somewhere around the rocks, probably around Skull Rock or Jumbo Rocks. There are picnic spaces and campgrounds, and it is incredible to witness the desert go to sleep. Another highlight to close off the day is driving through Cholla Cactus Garden in Wilson Canyon when the lights are low but before darkness, it is one of the most amazing sights on the road south through the park to get back to I-10.

Heard Museum and Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, AZ – Great places to get an understanding of the culture and nature of the Sonoran Desert. The Heard Museum exhibits Native American and Hispanic cultural artifacts and history in a very unique and beautiful setting. They offer free tours by the hour, and the guides are amazing and very knowledgable. Secondly and although surprisingly expensive for its kind with $25, the Desert Botanical Garden close to the Phoenix Zoo explains and lets you experience the different habitats in a great way. When I was there they were just hosting a light exhibition that lasted until after sunset – unfortunately I wasn’t able to stay for that, but from my last day’s desert experience I can only imagine how incredible that light installation between the cacti must have looked when the sun went down.

Petrified Forest National Park and Painted Desert National Park, AZ – This is actually a solid detour north, but in my view absolutely worth it! Even the drive to Holbrook was a great experience as we traveled from cacti through snowy Tonto National Forest back down into the steppe. It’s best to start on the south end of the park and work your way up north. It’s hard to find the right words to express the amazing beauty of this place, but let me say this: Imagine 20 million years old petrified conifers, scattered across mountains that look like Indian teepees with the most unique forms and colors, all concluded by a view into a desert valley that is covered in a red like you’ve never seen it! If you’re up for one more monument and a little additional detour while you’re at it: 3 hours east, you find the El Morro National Monument, a limestone natural fortress that had hosted an ancient pueblo village on top of it and inscriptions of early Spanish generals and Western settlers that have passed by it over the years. The visitor center is the starting point for two great hikes there that give amazing views over the surroundings and into the inner base of the formation.

White Sands National Monument, NM – Yes, this is the sight where the first atomic bomb was tested, still being an active missile test center which they occasionally close the park for. Not this day though! The monument consists of a widespread area between the two mountain ranges, where the wind moves the world’s biggest gypsum dunes from side to side. They are completely white and look like the most amazing sand you will ever have seen! The Alkali Flat Trail at the end is a must-do and leads you in a marked loop into the absolute “lost in the desert” experience, although you shouldn’t take the name for a description, as it leads up and down the sand dunes and is everything but flat. 3 strenuous hours, but a great workout and an amazing experience! There is also a 4.30pm guided sunset stroll where a ranger explains more about the different animals and plants and their survival strategies. Sunset on one of the dunes concludes the day – before February and after May, you can even bring a drink and have it while watching the gypsum wonderland go to sleep.

Carlbad Caverns National Park, NM – Probably one of the big tour highlights – the biggest and most beautiful cave system in the United States, if not in the world! Definitely be in the caves before 12pm if you want to hike in and out, as the full tour is a 4 mile round trip, and the hike back up is pretty strenuous, comparable to walking up 80 floors in stairs. Usually, they also have elevators that get you in and out much faster, but they were out of order when we went, and I can not imagine it to be the same experience as hiking in. The cave is absolutely mind-blowing! One of the rangers that we talked to called it the “last frontier” of exploration on earth, and after seeing the amazing formations and the atmosphere in the Big Room, we felt extremely humbled. The cave is also host to a huge swarm of bats in the summer time, and an amphitheater on top of the cave entrance lets guests witness the swarm flying out to hunt at sunset. If you feel like more cave experience (or if you don’t want to do the full detour to get to Carlsbad), the Sonora Cave right off the I-10 is also great, with knowledgable guides and a more touch-and-feel approach to the experience.

Mississippi Plantations and New Orleans, LA – You cannot do this drive without spending at least one day in New Orleans! If you are driving in early, I would definitely recommend to visit one of the sugarcane plantations along the Mississippi. In earlier days, there had been numerous of them, but six were preserved and are now open to the public with museums and guided tours. I have visited Laura and San Francisco, both were great but I must say that the quality of the Laura tour was better. In New Orleans, try to get a hotel right on Canal Street close to Bourbon Street, as you can walk all of the French Quarter including Frenchman Street, the French Market and Jackson Square from there, and the trolleys to the Garden District leave right in front of it. Clear lunch and dinner favorite is Cafe Amelie close to Jackson Square. For the musical experience at night, make sure you don’t get pulled into the next tourist trap on Bourbon Street but do a little research on Yelp or ask the concierge for suggestions. There’s some amazing jazz and rock bands out there, but you need to find them and not have the tourist hunters find you too early.

St. Augustine and the Castillo de San Marcos, FL – Never heard of it before? Let me ask you this: Are you seriously thinking about missing out on visiting the oldest city in the United States?! This super-cute little pearl right on the Atlantic Ocean is home to a fort that is operated as a National Park with all the information and educational exhibits that come with it. Twice a day, they even shoot one of their cannons, following a classic old Spanish canon maneuver that includes five dressed up soldiers. It’s very impressive, not only for history lovers. The town around it has beautiful little allies with cute shops and bars (and unfortunately is also home to an addictive gelato shop on the main street). After taking a stroll, you are invited to visit the pirate museum close to the visitor center by the fort. Definitely a great last stop before hitting Miami!

Of course there were many more incredible places and moments that you could hit on the way, like Austin in Texas, or Disneyworld in Orlando, but it’s tough to capture everything, and a lot is obviously very much subject to taste. Also, I excluded San Francisco and Miami as the start and end destinations on this list – honestly, they would both be worth their own blog posts!

For everyone who is planning to do a similar road trip: ENJOY! You will love it! Come back to this post and leave some comments on your own experiences, I would love to hear from you. And: Safe travels out there!!

Weather update: Heavy love showers in Northern California

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It’s raining. And it has been for days! Heavy drops are hitting the window as I’m sitting here writing, in the usually sun kissed city of Palo Alto. It is a long awaited blessing for California and its drought, and like San Francisco, I have been showered with so much love over the past days before my final goodbye that I feel my love tanks are bursting – with no emotional drought to harm me ever again!

One of the most beautiful and unexpected love showers happened yesterday night. Hoping not to embarrass anyone, including myself, I want to share what was said during my team’s goodbye happy hour, when everyone got up one after the other to talk about what they had learned from me in the past two years – not to make myself look great, but to give you a window into how incredible and close to tears they made me feel this last night.

Here they go.

“I have learned from her that you have to fight and work hard for your goals and dreams, give it your all and never let go. She shows as a living example that it’s possible to have both the career and the life of your dreams.”

“It’s not all about building businesses, you need to enjoy your life around it too and embrace it with traveling, culture and exploring the world, and she gives both business and life 100% like no one else.”

“She believes in the ability of every single employee that walks through the door. It’s that belief and the positive energy that she puts into building a team that have made her a true leader.”

“I have learned that passion and business efficiency are not opposites but can and need to be complimenting each other”. “She is a straight-forward business woman on the outside, and a wonderful caring human being on the inside.”

“She taught me how to lean in, keep my head high, own my message and be the expert, no matter how intimidated or junior I might feel – just like she did it herself when she started at a young age and had to pull through in front of C-level clients.”

“She taught me how to put my abilities to the test in any moment. It’s not about getting ready when needed, it’s about being ready at all times.” “She was my corporate compass and taught me how to always be myself while adjusting the intensity of it to the moment.”

Reading through this, I’m tearing up again, as I can’t be prouder of all of them! Of the team we have built in the last 24 months with its incredible talent and personalities. Of the energy and pure dedication that all of them put in, and the trust they gave me in letting me try and make a difference in their careers. Of the courage to stand up and say these things in front of everyone. And of the incredible leaders that are now taking over the ship and are writing their own success stories in a 2.0 version of what we got started together. And through this all, I forgot to tell them what I have learned from them over the past two years. So here it goes, team.

I’ve learned that if you have the right people in place, anything is possible. I have seen people put in energy and dedication to an extend I have never dreamed of. I have learned what it feels like to be backed up 100% by your superior and your next level leadership team. I have felt trust, commitment, energy and dedication, and I have seen how much easier it is to achieve things together. I have learned to trust and let go. I have seen talent thrive, individuals grow and successes built, and while they keep thanking me for that, I know that if anything, I had only ignited their fire to be their true and successful selves that would teach me back my own lessons.

I have learned a lot for myself, my career and my life. What on earth could be better? I could not be more lucky and thankful for my team and my colleagues. On top of everything, I have spent my last days with the most amazing friends anyone could ask for, who have opened their houses, have fed me until my eyes glazed over, cooked a 5 star BBQ for all of my friends at my goodbye party, drove me around the area and, all-in-all, made sure that saying goodbye today will be the hardest thing in the world for me!

California, this is not a goodbye, but a farewell! I am full of appreciation for everything you did for me, and for the wonderful people I was able to meet and work with. ‘Tis a hard one to leave you, but I will surely be back.

So, fare well for now. Thank you for everything! And… let it RAIN!

Always yours,

Kathrin

 

 

“Who have I become?” What 2 years in San Francisco did to my values

Innovation-values-page-imagePersonality tests. Everyone will have taken at least one in their life, either have been assessed by one to see if there’s alignment with the organization they’re applying for, or as a tool for increased self-awareness. One of these tests is the Hogan Values assessment, which, through a series of questions, determines what really drives your actions and creates your inner compass. It measures the importance of the following values: recognition, power, hedonism, altruism, affiliation, tradition, security, commerce, aesthetics and science.

I am in the fortunate position to have taken this test twice: Once around the end of 2013, and now again at the end of 2015. Two years apart. Two years that took little Kathrin out of her industrious and traditional Northern German environment and put her into hipster-techy flower-power San Francisco to radically californianize her.

Let’s start with the consistent piece: I’m clearly driven by recognition and aesthetics, while commerce is more on the low end. So to call it out: Nothing has changed about me needing tons of positive feedback, wanting lots of beautiful things and art in my life, and not really caring about money too much (and let me make very clear that I hope my boss doesn’t read this right now…)!

Now lets get to the interesting changes:

(1) My need for “power” got cut in half, while my sense for “hedonism” doubled. In other words, I exchanged control against fun. Does that sound like the old Kathrin Peters? At all? Sounds a lot more like California sun to me. As I have been a total control freak for pretty much all of my life and needed to have influence on over anything that touched my immediate circle of concern, I take that as very good news! Or maybe I’m just getting… older?

(2) “Altruism” more than doubled. Means, I suddenly care about world peace. Seriously, if I look back on the last two years, I have been touched and impressed by so many non-profit organizations in the Bay Area, and yes, I do catch myself tearing up much more easily when being confronted with poverty and the uneven distribution of wealth in this world. It’s a great thing to contribute and help change things to make others’ lives better. Honestly, I’m pretty proud that this measure went up!

(3) “Security” and “tradition” went down to insignificance while “science” went from insignificance to being a core value. Wow, I really feel like a social rebel looking at this – taking chances like others take vitamins, and not being driven too much by traditional expectations or a given framework that has been established around me. But how did that science piece happen? MBA? Watching too many TED talks? Or just being right in the center of technological innovation in Silicon Valley? Either way, I guess I can feel save to call myself a risk-taking nerd now.

As funny as this all may sound, it is incredibly interesting how things change over time, and how rapidly you develop as a person when you expose yourself to the world. Who knows what Miami and the East Coast will do to me in the coming weeks and months? I’m determined to take the test again in two years. Maybe I’ll suddenly be off the charts on commerce when living the Miami lifestyle? Or security go up when I start feeling at home there? Tradition be more important as I become older?

Who knows. The beautiful and inspiring key message is that through interacting with the world and making choices, you will likely help shape and develop your character and personality to become who you truly want to be. Apparently in my case for now: A reckless hedonist.

Happy testing!

Yours truly,

Kathrin

The curse of 6 weeks off – where did my purpose go?

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How would most of you feel about the prospect of having 6 weeks off work? Pretty good, huh? Pictures come up in your mind of pure relaxation, traveling, resetting your focus, getting some long needed errands run, living into the day. How awesome does that sound! And yes, that is mostly what I had in mind when planning this current period – after all, it was the holidays, and on top of it, I needed to find and furnish a new apartment across country, get acclimated to a new city, and wrap things up in California. Six weeks didn’t sound that long to me back then.

I’m now half way through, and I can tell you, I can’t wait to get back into purposeful work! No doubt about it, resetting, relaxation and detaching is absolutely essential and very much needed once in a while, and I’m very glad I am taking my time. But is it also slightly overrated to just do nothing and living into the day? It may sound horrible, but… I’m done! Don’t need more for now. More than ready to get back, thank you! Is that scary or relieving?

I am sure many of you have felt the same thing at some point. Unless you have a clear goal or purpose for your time off, be it traveling around the world, learning a language better, going through a full cleanse, a meditation workshop or whatever it may be, days can get very long once you have arrived in a state of relaxation and ease. And guess what happened: I am filling my days with an artificially tight schedule now, including a ringing alarm in the early morning, exercise, studying Spanish, reading on personal development, write on my blog, researching on potential further education programs, watching a set of TED talks, and encountering one Miami neighborhood per day. Get stuff done!! And still, something’s missing…

Don’t pity me too much, it’s obviously still complaints from a happy place. I now have three fantastic last weeks ahead of me, including an amazing road trip cross-country. But yes, I can’t wait to finally be productive again!

I’m not sure how I will look back on this time after a couple of months. If my guess is right, my brain will fool me into thinking how amazing it was to have so much time at your hands, and that I should do that again very soon. The truth is, I realized I need a purpose and goals to feel good about myself. Like Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “life is a journey, not a destination”, and it is about time to accept that being on the run is not the worst place to be – as long as you stop once in a while to make sure you’re running into the right direction!

Ready… Set… and soon to GO again!

Yours truly,

Kathrin