My wife made me very proud last weekend. She managed to walk 26.2 miles, the Moonwalk, a marathon, during the night, no sleep. That is a fantastic achievement. She has been training very hard for the past few months and she really deserves an applause of finishing and raising money for charity. Well done!
For myself I feel a bit under the weather. The changing weather, no one believes it’s actually summer, some virus and a lot of work don’t help me getting back into my routine. Another bank holiday this weekend, a day trip to Milan just don’t get you into the swing of things. Anyway, I am not complaining, just the opposite. I have probably never been happier in any job nor in life in general. That is a good sign I suppose.
The shed is finished and the camping equipment is here. Now we need to test it of course. A lot of returns and exchanges via Amazon partners made me realise how much stuff gets actually sent by partners and not Amazon itself. Rude customer service with awful English and offers to take a discount to avoid returns, shine a bad light on Amazon. They tried their best to calm me down and enforce their T&C and customer service standards on their partners, but with little success. For me, having had a few negative experiences, it is clear that anything that is not shipped by Amazon will be avoided unless it is a low value item that I keep regardless whether I am happy with it.
We should really return to the brick and mortar stores, look at things, maybe pay a bit more for less hassle. I am learning. Still. Maybe eCommerce isn’t the holy grail after all? I think it is but why bother with the hassle of trying to be charged £24 for a return of a suitcase to Germany that was bought on Amazon.co.uk. In the UK I can ship it for £6 or get free return on the Samsonite website which is only marginally more expensive. I learned. And I let Amazon know. That’s all I can say. Still waiting for the refund, and Amazon telling the seller off. You haven’t heard the end of it yet….
Milan was a nice trip as always. A bit short. Flight in at 6 am, back for 7 pm, three meetings, a few calls. Wow. I actually enjoy those days but they feel you a bit knackered the next day. I wonder why Next week I do Amsterdam, train to Eindhoven, back to Amsterdam, flight home. Yet I also got a few days off too. Might just be what I need.
The time with the boys is precious. I managed to work from home two days this week. Whilst I spent most of the time in my study, I managed bath time once and breakfast 4 days this week. That is good. The neighbours complain about the noise in the garden after we got a trampoline but I think they are just picky as the kids can see over the fence 😉 Never mind, we moved it for the peace of the neighbourhood.
Life is wonderful. Let’s hope the weather continues to improve and we have an awesome summer. Half term next week, and hopefully some more quality time with the boys. The first BBQ is done yet we haven’t tested the tent yet. Maybe tonight….maybe next weekend.
Last but not least a good friend died this week. A family friend. It came very unexpected, so the news was even more shocking than it normally would have been. May you rest in peace, you enriched many lives, not only ours!
Have a good week,
What a week lies behind me. There was an awakening moment this week, when I realised that, boarding a plane to Rome, the eternal city, what my real and most important purpose in life is: to look after my family. This might sound obvious. Yet, when you have a moment like that, realising that actually you are living the happiest life you could have ever dreamed of. You can still improve but hey, this is as good as it might get. Start enjoying it now. Enjoy the now. And I do. Every day!
It was a revelation this week. An obvious one.
This helps. It helped me making it through this week. Leaving Sunday afternoon instead of morning to a conference. Waiting for hours for a flight back from Rome, arriving home after midnight. Being able to share moments with friends and industry peers. Sharing moments. Sharing the now. The joy. The stuff that stories are made of. To sit down on a 2.5 hour late flight to realise it doesn’t matter that the flight is late. It’s you who decides and takes the 100% responsibility for your decisions and your life. You decide how you feel.
That moment when the captain said that there is no food on the plane, that they were late as the plane had some technical problems, the plane then collided with some ground vehicle, then the crew came from stand by and …. Could anything else have gone wrong? Probably not. Should I have changed the plane to an earlier one, a Heathrow bound one, should have I….
It doesn’t matter. Yes, I was a bit more tired the next day. But I saw the boys. I got my hugs and kisses. I listened to their stories. I heard about them playing with friends, building Lego and building dens. That is their most important thing in life. They don’t care if I fly BA or Easyjet or come home at 11 or 12. They are asleep. They care about me being there for them, when they need me. And damn do I hope they will need me for quite a few years to come.
I want to be there for them to ask me advice about their first love, their first fight, negotiation or any major decision that might be there to come. I love you both so much. And one of the reasons, if not the main reason I do what I do, is because of you.
There was something else this week. I was at an amazing conference in Rome. Great networking. Great contacts, selling, etc. But, as a matter of fact, my ex company, a pioneer in the field of clever data decision making, spoke about the ‘Mars mission’. Shortly after someone from a different company suggested that he wanted to be remembered to be the person who launched the first mission to Mars. A non return journey. Certain death. Yet, since becoming a father he reconsidered whether he would go himself.
It strikes a cord with me. You cannot be right thinking to leave planet Earth in a suicidal mission to got to Mars. If you like to sacrifice your life there must be more important things that one can do for mankind here on Earth. Surely, there are better ways of wasting life than flying to Mars. To gain honour, to die on a mission that might one day lead to us moving planets. What problem are we trying to solve? We destroy a planet to have a reason to move to another? That’s BS!
Don’t waste your time and energy to live a dream that is not reality when there is so much left to be done on the status quo here.
Maybe I am missing a point. Maybe I just care too much about what I have. About what I enjoy. My life with my family. I am probably the happiest person ever with two boys, a loving beautiful wife, a house in the countryside and a place and life worth living. And on top of all that I enjoy the job I am doing. I wake up every morning and love what I do, with whom I work. And I live the little wins. And the big ones. And we are winning, and that is amazing.
Enough for this week I suppose.
Have a good one. Look around you and value what you have. Stop chasing the future. It is now. Happiness is happening. Just now. Right here. Don’t miss it.
Love and kindness from my little corner of this beautiful, blue planet.
Exciting times. At time of publishing I will be networking with the international digital industry. In no other place than Rome. I haven’t been to Rome for a long time, yet probably don’t get a chance to see much either. Let’s see. Of course I report back next week.
Despite my hatred about the commute, the train had been on time once this week, I also enjoy the community of commuters. The chap that confirms the train is stopping at our station despite the wrong on-train announcements. The guys in the morning for the daily chit chat. Yet, the moment we get on the train it is “each to their own”. We get on with our things. Sleep. Reading. Writing blogs. Internet banking. Emails. Whatever is on the list that day.
A lot of ladies put their make up on and I am still debating whether I mind it or not. I suppose I am not too bothered, yet I wonder what people would say if I shaved on the train. Surely that wouldn’t be acceptable.
I get a lot of reading done on the train, yet this week was all about recovering. I had my first Kettlebell class which was more exhausting than I thought. Now I am trying to fit in a Kettlebell routine into my exercise plan, as I now have the garage free of stuff. My den. Yet my new shed is still not finished, so the overall project would have taken two weeks longer than anticipated. A bit annoying. Great craftsmanship yet no delivery on time.
As you know I have very high standards when it comes to customer service. And again, I was surprised twice this week. The first time that my insurance didn’t kick a fuss or made it extra difficult to repair my phone. So I got an exchange and will pay my excess, and the cheque arrived already too. Wow!
However, Apple of course wasn’t a problem. Their online chat was great helping me when I ran into problems restoring the phone. It is all set now, I hope anyway. Yet Vodafone once again managed to piss me off!
I contacted them on the 24th of April for a “copy of my contract”. They said they send a pdf which they didn’t. I called again on Saturday and they explained it takes 24 hours. Monday they told me I should email them, however it was on my file but delayed due to the weekend. The email team got back to me asking for security details and never got back to me after that. My tweets to VodafoneUK_Help rang through, then again another email and 10 days later I had my proof. WTF?? Seriously, that is rubbish.
Then two days later a call centre agent tries to upsell me on Vodafone. Sorry, but sort your sh* out and call me (I am sure you have my number) and apologise first, then offer me a deal and make sure I am not leaving you guys when my contract is up. And it is up very soon! I then, upon request, emailed them again with that story. Give me some free stuff and make me happy I said. Let’s see what they answer.
Why I am still getting annoyed at them? Because I am helpless and in no position to actually change their behaviour, yet I am dependent on what they tell me and how they treat me. And they can treat me however they like, can’t they? Maybe I should contact Watchdog or some kind of website or TV programme and really go after bad customer service. Whilst not trying to overlay my high standards on every thing, as otherwise I would get too frustrated, I do expect more respect from a brand like Vodafone. Guess not.
Also this week I booked some time off. Plan is to go camping. Putting all those little things in the Amazon basket that we might not need, camping gadgets, is exciting. Will I enjoy it? Yes, I think so. It will get me out of my comfort zone and as long as the boys love it, I am sure I will. I just hope the dog is ‘out of’ season by then.
A catch up with a good friend and a great networking night left me a wee bit ropey on Thursday. A good night though. Some proper high level networking which is great. Being a bit tipsy definitely helps to chat, connect, and ‘speed date’.
Hey, and that was another week. As normal, the usual working hours cramped into less working days.
Last but not least Cameron won the election. Not a bad result, given all other leaders resigned. He seems to be our best choice currently, so let’s carry on for another 5 years and see.
Have a great week.
I fell in love twice this week. The first time was unexpected. We planned a night out with work and went to watch Sweeney Todd, in the ‘Harrington Pie and Mash Shop’ – which literally was what it said on the tin. A fantastic show, sitting on benches, watching a great display of this classic play.
Unfortunately it was so intimate that I couldn’t sneak out during the 2nd half to catch the second last train home. Hence I left in the interval. I was a bit gutted yet promised myself to visit a play again soon. Maybe in Brighton or Haywards Heath. Did I re-discover my love for ‘old fashioned’ culture?
The second time I fell in love was, after endless repeats, the Bach Cello Suite No.1. I was made aware that Steve Jobs chose that piece for his funeral. So I downloaded it, curious whether I would like it. I knew it, heard it before many times. Whilst it sounds cheesy, it gave this piece of music a new meaning knowing that Steve loved it. Or maybe he didn’t and someone just chose it for his funeral. Not sure. The story sells. And the piece is lovely 😉
Valuing classic plays and classical music is one of those amazing things we don’t appreciate enough. Maybe I only notice it more with age. To be able to immerse ourselves in a full blown artistic performance, enjoying ourselves, soaking up the performance or enthusiasm playing a piece of music that is many years old. Yet, after all those years it has some fantastic life left, a touch of love and greatness, allowing for us to indulge. I love immersing myself into music.
There of course were more things I fell in love with. The breakfasts I had with my boys. Hearing their previous day’s stories, experience and what kind of ‘card’ they got with their sweeties. Sharing their experience of exploring the world and making their little experience matter more to me than things that matter when I step outside the house. This love of them and love from them is so pure one cannot touch it, describe it or put it into words, a play or piece of music. This is unique.
Once one realises this unconditional love, inner bond with one’s children, it is like realising the ‘why one lives’. There are two important days in your life. One is the day you were born. That was this week too. The other is when you realise why. And that happened the last few months too.
Often one doesn’t realise but when one starts examining what makes you happy. And you realise it isn’t the house or the car or any material value. It is the sheer love and happiness you receive by accepting the challenge with your family each day. Giving your boys undivided attention, being with them in the now, responding in real time to their requests.
Being able to realise the love you experience when you do, is the moment you are happy, and being able to cherish the moment and not realising it when it is far too late, is a gift. This gift is greater than any present one could receive. You cannot measure it in money terms.
Now for me this comes also with a few conflicts and challenges. That is around commitments. Commitments that doesn’t allow me to be there in the moment; things that stop me from concentrating and being there in the moment. Things, that quite frankly, pre-occupy my mind. With an unfinished shed, lots of transformational changes in my life and at work, this can be quite a challenging time. Yet the shed is almost finished, things sorted and day to day life can slowly creep in again.
Until the next time, when I realise I am pushing boundaries again.
That’s what I do.
That is what I enjoy!
It has been a fantastic week. A good week. With challenges. Yet with satisfactions, love and affection.
Have a great week ahead my friends.
Mid April, Easter holidays are over, and the kids went back to school. A trip to Germany, seeing Oma and Opa, and a visit by Granny. The boys are spoiled, in a good way, and before we know it, the boys will be off for their summer holidays. They are growing up very quickly.
Germany, on the other hand, for me was another realisation that I moved on. Literally. 14 years in the UK, never looked back, I cannot say I would anticipate to ever go back and/or live in Germany again. Nothing bad about the place, but the things I value are just not there. Luckily, my other German expats confirm my feelings – suppose it would be the same the other way around, when you get used to a way of living, that’s it really.
When we were in Germany, I copied my dad’s old Super8 movies onto my hard drive. Sure, the seventies and eighties were crazy, dad’s cheesy film music doesn’t help, but looking at those movies I am wondering how my kids will grow up and remember their childhood? 30 years from now they might write a post, an article or speak to someone about how they grew up. We are not much into taking videos, yet they might look at the thousands of pictures their mum took of them. And they will piece their own video together.
What will they remember? How they came down the stairs, daddy writing this post on his iPad, the dog stretched out on a chair in the living room, them asking, why I am so quiet? Probably not. But they will remember the trips to Germany and Scotland, the campervan, the excursion to the farm and all the other experiences and common trips we created. Legoland, maybe Disneyland one day.
They might remember sad experiences, deaths, accidents, bad grades in school, or when they got in trouble. I do. Yet looking at the Super8 movies one cannot help but think that the world was ok then, more peaceful. Yet it wasn’t. It was when wars were happening, the nuclear reactor Tchernobyl exploded and I fell out with mum and dad, just like any other kid in puberty. And so will my boys with me. Let’s hope it is for a short period of time only.
We are living in more peaceful times today. Yet, media tries to tell us life is more dangerous focusing on the bad and awful things. That’s how our mind works. That is how some scams work, luring people into donating money. However, we need to focus on the good things. Yes, life in the 80ies and 90ies was more peaceful. We didn’t have daily, hourly, minutely distractions from text messages, what’s apps, emails, Facebooks and so on. We didn’t even have mobile phones.
Can you imagine? Sitting on a train for an hour and having no clue what is actually going on? When the train arrives, not able to work on your emails, or call the wife? Unthinkable, yet also a huge distraction from what we do. Balancing that less peaceful life is today’s challenge. I am still on my Facebook detox for the month of April despite attending an event there for which I signed a lifelong NDA. Never mind. I don’t miss it but when we wanted to sell our shed via Facebook my wife had to take care of it. I probably only reached out to friends that are really close for their birthdays rather than writing on everybody’s wall, and I spend less time just killing time watching useless videos on Facebook. I will go back on, as Facebook is a connection platform, a tool to stay in touch with people.
The weekend was colder again, yet we were blessed with some sunshine. May the first days of summer remind you of the great days to come.
Bliss. Life is wonderful!
Love and happiness from my little place on this planet,
We are back from holidays and since Wednesday I am back at work. Whilst it is great to be away, it was nice to come back home. A record driving time thanks to an early start resulted in a chilled out afternoon prior to going back to work. It feels like spring is finally on its way. My hands are still sore from the cold, and yes, I did put the fire on again this week.
Grateful. I think that word came up a few times in discussions this week. Grateful for a job, a good health and the ability to raise the kids, have kids, have a healthy family and a gorgeous dog. To have had a great and safe journey, no problems with the car, or traffic or forbid an accident. I stopped taking things for granted. Ever since the, at the end positive, diagnosis and uncertainty earlier this year, it seems as if we shouldn’t. I am almost a bit more spiritual as a result of it.
Interesting enough I listened to Tim Ferris’ podcast this week where he interviewed Glenn Beck. I wouldn’t have heard of him, but in a nutshell Glenn was an alcoholic and his life was in a mess by the time he was 30! He turned it around and became a well known TV figure in the US, a celebrity and made millions. What a great story.
I am writing my own story. So are you. Every day of your life! Every day you should evaluate whether or not you are doing the things that are taking you forward, achieving your goals. What have you done to get where you have got? Are you being successful? Then don’t stop doing that and take it to the next level, improve on it rather than slowing down as you reached a certain level. Don’t take things for granted.
For the ability to serve, we are truly grateful – Rotary. For the opportunity to be grateful, I thank my wife and my family. Life seems content at the moment yet as you know me, I am not content, ever…really 😉 But that’s a different story.
For me personally, I am getting a lot clearer on what I want to achieve in life. This includes a healthy lifestyle, a great future for the family and myself. Define ‘great': positive, loving, caring, grateful, helpful….we define it together, as a team. The Ballueder team, as I like to call it.
What I learned this week? That our dog is still pretty much a puppy and that rushing her into becoming a well trained dog won’t work. I also learned that spending more quality time with my kids is super important and I got so much more back. It is very nice to spend so much time with the family. It was so nice to be able to spend more time with them during the day being off work. I get to know them so much better than just seeing them at the weekend and partly during the week. I am blessed and grateful.
I also realised that travelling with kids and dogs for long distance in the car is less painful than anticipated. That the Euro to pound (GBP) ratio is awesome for stocking up on wine and salami. I “calibrated” that my attitude towards life is right and in line with what people would expect. I learned that there is a lot more I want to and I will accomplish in life – starting today!
With those thoughts, I want to leave you for the week. Easter and the four day weeks are over. Let’s get cracking!
Have a great one,
PS: I still haven’t checked Facebook for the past 10 days. So apologies for anything I didn’t miss. Facebook however starts sending me messages, one a day, making sure I don’t forget about the 1000 of messages, updates etc. I ‘missed’. Times of change.
A week with snow, long drives and mixed feelings lies behind us. Happy Easter.
We spend a few days with my parents in Germany. The long drive, and the crossing via the Channel Tunnel’s train, went very well, given our 3 little companions. Latter includes the dog which of course was terrified but coped very well. The boys behaved fantastically.
The kids loved spending time with the grand parents and exploring Germany. I am still hopeful they pick up German at some point, becoming more familiar with both the country and language. They genuinely enjoyed the trip. We had some snow, spend quality time as a family together and quality time as a couple whilst Oma and Opa were baby sitting.
It is good to be back in Detmold. Good to see that I still like it and that things are still the same but evolving. Could I consider moving back? I would be (emotionally) able to, but no. I am very much settled in the UK, my life and family are there. That’s my home. Yet, and I never thought I would say that, I like the little town of Detmold.
I heard good and bad news this week. The bad news is that my old teacher died of cancer suddenly. He was diagnosed with it about a year ago, I heard, and died about three weeks ago. Only about 4 years ago, maybe less, I visited him and he said to me “I always knew that you wouldn’t stay in Germany, Mr. Ballueder”. We had a “closing chat” without knowing it was our last encounter. He helped me through my A-Levels when I was struggling in German, struggling in life I suppose, after having spent a year in the US as an exchange student. He was a great man of his profession. A true mentor. May he rest in peace.
On the positive side of things, and I am not sure I remember the whole story, but when I was in 3rd or 4th grade, so about 1985/86 we had a refugee into our class. I remember being friends with him, playing with him, and we might have had him over for lunch a few times. If I say I remember we helped his family I might be making this up. But that’s the memory I have of the time. Now he showed up in the local newspaper supporting some Iraq project for a charity associated with some football tournament. It fills me with joy to see that people that came to my country with probably not much else than the cloths they were wearing, to turn into someone helping others and using the opportunity of a new start.
Whilst not a refugee myself, having moved to a different country, I also used the opportunity to become who I am. It is a new start, a new opportunity if you can start afresh. One must use it! And wanting to contribute and make life happen is a great opportunity that I feel sometimes gets lost if you are stuck in your own rod and your day to day life. Being able to break free is good. I hope that makes sense.
As so often the good and bad things are in balance. Life cycles I suppose. The good and bad things, the help to support and the unintentional closures. One must love life. One must accept its ups and downs. Use the opportunities one has. Meet with people one likes. Seeing my grandma, now almost 95, next to her great grandson, not yet 5, is an amazing picture. Old and Young, Ying and Young, Good and Bad, Hot and Cold.
I enjoyed my week off work.
I love life! I am positive!
With best wishes for the remainder of the Easter weekend, I leave you with deep thoughts of people that come to your life, where you make a difference and who make a difference in your life. Often those move on, sometimes they stay. But everything that happens in life, any person coming into your life, happens for a reason.
Grab the opportunity whilst you are on it.
Love and Happiness,
Sitting at 42,000 feet writing a blog post and face timing the family is new. It was my first in flight wifi experience, a day after the still unreal Germanwings crash. No one expected a Germanwings flight to crash, nor any heavy regulated European airline in Europe. I feel for the families and friends of the people that died. On the flight home we got confronted with more terrible news on the cause of the crash. It leaves me speechless.
Being connected in a plane is a new experience. For my kids, both under 6 years of age, this will be normal. My eldest is asking for the iPad daily to play and started asking to own a phone. I understand that but my parents told me that I wouldn’t be allowed a computer until 10th grade, that was 16 years of age in Germany. Life has changed and the technology advancement is accelerating. What seems new to us who haven’t had iPads or phones 20 years ago, seems normal to the youngsters.
How must my parents feel who were around my age when personal computers came to life. My dad, I remember vividly, used a manual board to arrange the different classes for the teachers, allocating rooms and making sure there was no overlaps in the timetables. There are programmes today but even Excel would have been so much easier. Having no Sat-Nav when driving somewhere new? How well has Uber served me this week in Stockholm. A new city but the same, easy to book and easy to pay taxi service.
Being a bit of a Geek and working in the tech space, I enjoy technology advancement. I am debating to get a fitness tracker, e.g. a Jawbone or Fitbit. Latter doesn’t sync with Apple health, former’s model with a pulse sensor hasn’t been released. I guess in a year or two I buy an Apple watch. How couldn’t I?
Quarter one came to an end this week too. It has been busy and Friday we celebrated. I had a glass to the end of Q1, my colleague his leaving do. Unfortunately the restaurant we wanted to go to burned down just minutes prior to us going there, just opposite the office. We easily found an alternative.
A Hassocks dads’ night out, a catch up with friends and family, and lots of time with my boys over the weekend. Sounds like I did nothing really but to be honest, after another busy trip, on which I was lucky to catch up with a very good friend, I was cotent to take it easy. I have been travelling a lot lately, working non-stop as it seems, now is time for some downtime. Easter break. The fire has been on whilst it is raining outside. Summer time started. The dog is content at my feet.
I hope you get some time off, to spend time with your family and loved ones, and let life sink in a bit. Let things calm down a bit and give your loved ones the attention they want. They need. You need.
Have a great week.