Sunday Column (250)

Whilst this might not be the last post of the year, I wanted to start reflecting on 2013. I have been off since Friday, and will be back to work on the 6th of January. Now I have time for my family, my parents and mother in law who are staying with us for Christmas, I might get the odd lie in, and I can spoil the boys rotten. Yes, I look forward to Christmas!

Maybe it is my German nature but we got it all planned out. Massage, hair cut, shopping, shopping ordered, shopping and food planned for the holidays. Deliveries to arrive, last presents to be wrapped and slowly winding down for the big day. The day when the kids are so happy and full of joy to get all those new toys. And daddies and granddaddies love it too!

Xmas Tree

Unfortunately there have been some downers put on Christmas. Nothing too much to worry about, but when I entered the year, things looked different. I was, as far as I was concerned, in a secure, well paid job. This ended (un)expectedly due to what I would refer to as “big buys small normal course of business“. Hence it wasn’t that unexpected really, and as they say, things happen for a reason and turn out for the better.

Of course this overshadowed most of the year, put a lot of pressure on us as a family, both financially and emotionally. We got over it, partly at least, and we hope 2014 turns out to be back on track. Less restrictions and maybe more treats from which we currently abstain from. But we don’t know, do we? And, in all fairness, we don’t do too badly. I don’t look back in anger. I drew my conclusions and in the time in between jobs, I had the fantastic opportunity to work with some smart minds from the publisher, agency and broadcasting side. An amazing learning curve. Thanks!

But drawing this year to a close, I look at something more important that I learned. Something I hadn’t realised, had I not been in between jobs. Weekends get a new meaning. Working from home get a new meaning. Being up all night comforting a baby and then winning the pitch the next day – all this gave me more meaning. The learning is that my priorities have clearly changed in favour of my boys, and my family.

When I was in between jobs I didn’t take (but had) the time to take the kids to school daily or relaxed with them, or played with them. I was in survival mood. Normal I suppose, yet not great. When I found a job, I only had a few days before I started. So all hush hush.

little-girl-with-xmas-pkg

But since then, being able to engage with them, becomes so much more important. More important than it ever had been. Now when I work from home or come home early on a Friday, read them the good night story, they love it. Of course it is because they are older and more engaging, but so am I. Because I started to realise that those two boys are the most important thing in my life, and I would do anything for them. Of course I keep forgetting that once and again if they kick me and whinge and don’t eat or want the iPad or mummy or….but hey, that’s exactly it.

Children teach you life all over again, make you question why you have rules and which rules are valid, which ones are important. They make you feel at home, they cuddle, show emotions and are naive when it comes to Santa Claus. I was fortunate enough to watch both boy’s nativity plays this year and it was fantastic. I sat through both of them, beaming from ear to ear. I am fulfilled. I am happy. This is important to me, no matter who calls or sends me an email – they can wait. Prioritising, being able to juggle work and life, is the challenge, particularly with a 3 hour daily commute. Yet thanks to an understanding employer and modern technology this isn’t a problem for me, and it makes me a better employee too.

2013, for me, means I uncovered that family is the important job of all times. That I can finish my emails once they have gone to bed, and that they give me the strength to excel in my job, pitches, show emotions and at the end of the day work so much harder to provide so much better for them. The sooner I achieve my goals, the sooner I can go home and see them. For realising that, I can only thank my old work I suppose. For being able to view the world differently during my time off this year.

Three years ago in a blog post, I quoted Reinhard Mey’s song about the apple tree, quoting Martin Luther: “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” The hope that the world exists past us is one of the greatest gifts.

The text from Reinhard Mey’s song in German can be found here but translates something like this:

I don’t know where to start,
I have so many thoughts, my heart is full of joy,
So many feelings inside me at the same time:
Joy, humility, thankfulness.
In mother’s arm, who holds you quietly,
You start looking at this world.
This is your first morning, and I think,
What a present is this child!

If all hope fails,
With you I start all over again.
And we can achieve unachievable things together,
You are the apple tree I plant.

Look around you, you are now part of that world,
Which constantly questions itself,
Where humans destroy their environment,
Where they ignore all warnings.
A place of contradictions, rich and poor,
Full of hardship and indulgence at the same time,
A place of wars, a place of suffering,
Where humans miss nothing else than humanity.

You are a light in an uncertain time,
A way out of the hopelessness,
Like a signal to continue on our way,
To continue with the challenge (of life).
Where doubts are and despair,
that is where a child makes you forget all about it.
In a world which is chasing daylight,
Children are the only hope we have left!

Now what will 2014 bring?

I might just write about that next week, shall I? I have more goals. Last year I wanted to get involved in more charitable work, and next year will see that being increased. I plan to turn a few knobs up a notch. It is going to be a very exciting time.

And, it will be my fittest year ever, as I have lost almost 10 kg this year, despite being sick for the past 8 weeks and not being able to exercise, I have more big plans.

Have a fantastic Christmas, a great time with friends and family.
Give them an extra hug tonight and remind them, that you love them.

Peace with you all.

Volker

PS: If you haven’t seen this video yet, it is a nice way of companies giving something back to their customers. In a special way.