Posts Tagged Freedom

Sunday Column (457)

Monday Monday. Oh yes, nothing like a 2 hour drive in the taxi on a Monday morning to Heathrow. Longest ever; normally it takes 1.5 hours max. So a bit of adrenaline this week to get to my flight, which ended up boarding late, and everything was fine. Being rushed I ended up grabbing the wrong breakfast and feel just so much better about the week ahead 😉 BBQ Pork for breakfast. Yeah 🙁 Calm, breathe. Life is good, and fingers crossed, I have yet to miss a flight. 25 trips this year so far. That’s on average every other week, and more to come. Wow, the most I have travelled in years. And I keep saying it is getting less, but I haven’t got any more news on that at the moment. I believe it isn’t actually the travel as such but doing an additional job that takes focus away from what I wanted to do in the first place. However, I know there are changes on the horizon, and hopefully they will be good for me. One must believe that moving forward things will turn out the way they should. Believe in the future and that the dots will connect looking backwards. And they always will.

Weekends. Trying to spend more bonding time with the boys we went on a long walk down Littlehampton beach last weekend. It was nice and we all just love being close to and at the sea. The noise of waves coming on shore and then the water disappearing into the pebbles. It is great and calming, it makes you feel far away from home, on holidays. Balancing life.
We also upgraded to the latest iPhone 8 this weekend. A bit of a hiccup, we had to go twice as only passports or UK driving licenses are accepted for having a credit agreement – no German driving licenses or ID cards. But we got there in the end, and it was probably the first time I used my UK passport for something official. The new phone is great, but not much of an advancement in comparison to the 7, and just a slight improvement from the 6s I had before. The main differentiation is water resistance, wireless charging and an improved home button. Having a hardware contract with Apple now, means we are eligible for an upgrade from 12 months and have a 12 months pay monthly deal with Vodafone. This gives us the opportunity to get a new iPhone every year, something I always aimed for. But nowadays the innovation year on year is getting smaller, hence the need to upgrade yearly is less. Anyway, let’s speak about that in a year’s time, as technology and face recognition will move on.

In terms of data, it was easy to restore the iPhone. Everything gets backed up in the cloud but my gratitude journal didn’t. Since February I have been writing a daily gratitude journal which seems to have vanished. This is a bit of a shame. It is a great practise to reflect once a day on all the positive things in life. I wondered if I ever look back at it…guess for now I won’t 😔 I will no longer trust an app, but instead will write the journal on Evernote. Maybe it is my fault for not backing it up properly and then restore it, but then again if it isn’t an obvious process in the app. Never mind. The NHS app I used for 5 years with my BMI/weight data has also vanished, but luckily I had a back up in Evernote. I just love Evernote! So for anyone who hasn’t seen my posts about it, please do use Evernote to track everything. I write my blog on it as it syncs cross device and I can edit it on the go, then copy and paste it later. I collect my Thursday Flash links in it and take all my meeting notes on it. Evernote for everything!

Germany. If short, I stayed two nights in Germany, Hamburg, this week. I went for a walk after work as I still can’t exercise, go to the sauna or gym. I overworked my back after the initial minor surgery, so I now need to wait until it heals properly. It takes longer of course. I reflected on my relationship with Germany, thought about whether I could live there again. I like Hamburg, enjoy the organised life and the city is just georgous. However, I also feel like that about Munich. In Germany, the cities are nice and green, not too big, and one can find a good life life balance within the city or close proximity. It is just right. But it doesn’t feel right. Just because things are ticking all the boxes doesn’t mean they are right for you. Logic doesn’t always prevail. Does that make sense? If your mind isn’t in it, it doesn’t make sense.

I suppose you can achieve the same in the UK but maybe not in London, maybe in smaller cities, or only at a price that is reserved for the few. Yet, I am very happy with my life in London, being able to have the best of both worlds, balancing both village life and city career. Germany yet somehow doesn’t appeal to me anymore. The latest elections aside, and the negative movement towards right wing politics, Germany is just another country – and where I grew up in. After moving to the US 25 years ago, I learned what life could be like in a wide open space and I enjoyed something bigger than what I had at the time. Germany, and to a certain extend Europe, is a place that can get too small. And if not physically, I feel like I couldn’t permanently live in Germany, as it would be too small for me. Not sure if that makes sense. Sometimes village life gets like that too, and without the escapes to London, it might not be for me either. Freedom – that’s what I associate with the open space I experienced. Like the pubs in New York that just have space. Or you find a 20 lane bowling alley in the middle of town with 15 pool tables. The space you have, the freedom you feel. And, as Europe moves towards Brexit, maybe Europe is just not the place to be in a few years time. We shall see.

Those are my thoughts this week. Of course there are more but I don’t want to bore you. Interesting chats about politics with a taxi driver in Germany. Booking of my next trip to Belgrade, Serbia, which will be new experience.
There were days I took the kids to school and felt very privileged to spend more time with them. They are my purpose and priority.

Another busy week and a week of no travel ahead. That will be nice and I have lots to do with the team this week in London.

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world,
Volker

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Sunday Column (411)

trump

When a week starts with little sleep, you know it is going to be a long one. Hey ho, no surprise then. Additional to little or bad sleep came a virus. Nothing serious but I caught myself drifting away in meetings and just falling asleep. I felt knackered all week but surprisingly pulled through. Tough lad 😉 I couldn’t stop exercising, needed my daily early morning fix. To top a Monday after a busy weekend, we had a trespasser on the line and it took me 3 hours to get home at night. Some kid wanted to go on YouTube and ran on the tracks. WTF? To not miss my appointment with the embassy, I was worried and panicking about trains on Tuesday morning. But I made it and soon I have a German ID card. Why? See below. And I wondered then, whether this week could be any more eventful…

The non reliability of train services is something I am fighting since I moved to Hassocks. The challenge of not knowing whether you make it home or when. The “no control” of what’s happening and the “no information” drives me potty. Our old place, Beckenham would have been a 60 GBP taxi ride, this could have been done. Hassocks is more like double that. So far I always managed to get home and that’s the main thing. Having said that, I shouldn’t jinx it, but I am sure it is fine. One day the train companies won’t strike, the company will understand the needs of their customers and so on….anyway. I am learning to not get annoyed about it and accept it. Not always easy though. Yet whenever there is a delay, plans and meetings need to be re-arranged and cancelled. This shines a bad light on me. But I made it home every night. Not like others. The news about the tram accident hit me this week, how awful. Too well do I know that bit of the tracks, having lived in Beckenham and used the tram regularly.

Coming back to trains for a minutes. I am not accountable for Southern’s f* ups but I am responsible for my own work. I worked on the train Monday night, got a seat (commuter experience I suppose and a bit of luck) and got a lot done. There is a silver lining. You trade that with no dinner, not seeing the kids and an early start the next day. Another bad night sleep, it was a few times my youngest woke me this week due to nightmares or needing the loo. Thanks R, anytime 😉 At least it is not our new mattress which I believe is great: less back pain unless I sleep beyond 8 hours, which doesn’t happen very often. I can live with 6 hours sleep but would prefer a good 7 hours now and then. Never mind, avoiding alcohol and eating little keeps me focused and productive. I like to think so anyway. My exercise on top and energy is flowing. I am winning first thing in the morning, so how can Southern take that away from me? They can’t and won’t. I resent them. I am not even hating them, they are just not worth my time. So I stop writing about them, shall I 🙂

delay

I haven’t shared my thoughts about the new Macbook yet. My watch is great, an expensive fitness tracker with some nice features. Exactly what I wanted and I am enjoying it. Then I am debating to get a new Macbook. But the tiny one is not very powerful, yet enough for what I do. The Pro is nice but not necessary, too powerful almost but has this nice bar. Is it really useful so? I bet it is but not for me. So balancing that it comes down to my tax return next year and timing. Maybe the Macbook Air gets a facelift in Q1 and I get a new version then. Or they stop productions it. We shall see. But nothing out there that excites me but our new stove fan, which essentially just circulates hot air. However this is useful if your wood burner is buried in a hole in the wall like ours. So that was a good investment. Speaking of which I had to buy a new rucksack for work. My current one, after the first one broke within warranty, broke again. This time outside warranty. I opted for a cheaper version, why buy the same again if I anticipate it not lasting longer than 18 months. Bad quality, overpriced. Amazon review is not pretty.

Just when I thought I covered the week and wanted to congratulate the first female president of the United States….I was equally shocked to when I woke up and saw the results as when I woke up and saw the Brexit results. Donald Trump winning the election. Is that the dawn of a 4th Reich? Will he be as bad as people make him out to be. Surely not, one would hope. But we said that before. I am scared a bit. Markets are down. Brexit. Now Trump. What has the world come to? An article I shared on Facebook points out what we have been seeing for a while, something I strongly believe in. As we humans going through phases in our life, following patterns, so do nations, so does the world. Up and down. From liberal to radical and back. As if each generation needs to re-learn what we just been through. As if we cannot learn from the past. And some don’t. The article I read can be found History and Brexit and Trump:

Challenges for people seem to be the following:

1. They are only looking at the present, not the past or future
2. They are only looking immediately around them, not at how events connect globally
3. Most people don’t read, think, challenge, or hear opposing views

Isn’t that scary. And analysis shows it isn’t really the blue collar, low income class that voted for Trump. We cannot pin it down to intellect, probably American working class has a lot more common sense! Adolf is long out of most people’s mind. Most Americans (no generalisation intended, but I remember conversations when I lived in the states…) won’t even know about the 3rd Reich, or even think that’s just something in history that happened. And it did. But how could they learn from it given the distance they had to it. They are too far away, even Europeans have difficulties remembering it, which is even worse. I am scared. I am afraid that the things that changed in this world and made this world a better place come to an end. The fall of the Berlin wall. The end of the wars. Stabilisation in the Middle East. Peace across the world, or the majority of it.

history

When I grew up I was dreaming of things based on what I knew. I now know things have changed. Technology has advanced. I dreamed of having two phones, one downstairs and one upstairs, to make private calls. I had no idea that I wouldn’t have a landline today. We cannot anticipate that things stay the same, so maybe change is good. We must be hopeful and we must believe in better. Look forward as Tim Cook said, moving forward together. That the human kind, which is a surviving kind, will pull through and will ensure us surviving and creating a better world. It strengthen my belief that it is down to us to make things happen, take massive action, to educate and to explain this to our children. We have to take on the challenge and responsibility for generations to come. I tried speaking to my 5 year old on Wednesday morning, and he asked if the world cracks when the “bad man” wins. I kissed him and said that love will always win, and that the world won’t fall apart and that we humans are a surviving species. And here is another dad trying to explain things to his daughters. And from one dad to another, let’s hope our children understand and never differentiate people on the basis of gender, race, religion, belief or origin. Never again. Aaron Sorkin’s letter is Vanityfair.

I am putting in for a British citizenship, hence needed the ID card. I am hoping to create a better future for my children. I want to stay in the country I love. That is what I am hoping for. What I cannot control is people and people’s decisions. Or maybe I can. I guess anyone reading this post will be influenced by my thoughts. Maybe I should go more public trying toI will continue to observe this thought.

We could discuss life purpose and all, but I guess that’s for another time. This post is a lot longer than anticipated. But what a week? Most people will get on with their daily life, go to work, do what they always done and end up shrugging their shoulders, thinking Trump is only in America, far away. We cannot do that and make the same mistake that in my view the Americans have done in the 2nd world war. We cannot wait until late to get involved. We must be aware and step in soon enough to stop anything awful happening. That is what scares me.

I am not someone for praying and above shows there can not be any evidence to do so. Yet I would suggest us all to pray, to gather and hope for the world to turn better again. And hopefully it will, one day anyway. We must believe in the love and the good in people and help educate the world. I fear to answer to my children in a few years time, and I cannot not be accountable for this world going to shambles. We must take responsibility for our nation and world. Everyone together, baby steps, and forward together.

Before I ramble on, I better stop. I am sad, not even angry. 9/11 passed this week. 11/11 passed this week. Lets not forget.
It’s the end of the world as we know it. Times are changing. Let’s hope and action for the better.

God bless America. God bless the world.
Volker

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Sunday Column (285)

Steve Jobs loved Bob Dylan. I started listening to him after reading Steve’s biography and recently heard that the first album he ever listened to was Blood on the tracks. So I downloaded it in his memory and realised I really enjoy this album.

Going back in time. Looking at the counter culture in SF in the 70ies. Hippies. Campervans and independence. Life was good. Life is great. We just need to make it happen. Yet I am not living in the past, quite the opposite. I am living in the now with a strong future outlook. We can only change things in the now, laying the foundation of the future.

Another week passed with 5 am starts. It is getting better to get up. One morning I go running, 5K, and the next I do some circuits and work, or as on Tuesday end up watching postman Pat with the boys. I don’t do this to be super productive only but to gain back time. I come home from work around half 7 on a normal day. Before I know it I spend the evening not doing much, having my tea and go to bed at 10; staying up longer results in me watching rubbish on TV, my brain just ain’t working that late anymore.

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So I gain 90 minutes waking minutes. Enough time to exercise and shower or to write on a blog post or review a few articles. I even fixed a squeaking door at 5 am, whatever comes to mind, whiteboard sessions etc. There is plenty to do. This also means I can start working on the train or follow up on anything I didn’t do in the morning. If I keep up this routine, I won’t compromise on sleep (6-7 hours are plenty), I get enough exercise (3×30 min/week + bike at weekend), and I should be able to get more things done. However, the transition period is tough, it takes 60 days to form a new habit. Wish me luck.

For the next few months I am hoping to be more proactive over at tidWOWs which is my productivity site. You won’t see much, but might have noticed that I published a book on productivity which also was available for free this week. Plan is to move it into the public domain and make it available for study, research and public editing, very similar to a Wikipedia. I will of course keep you posted on progress.

My wife and kids were visiting grannie in Scotland over the last week and I had the house to myself. It is quiet without them, yet it is nice to be able and just do what you want to do. Cleaning some bits in the fish tank late at night, turning the lights off in the hallway or leaving bits and pieces lying around as reminders. All of those things that ain’t possible with small people being around. And of course a PJ day. A day filled of movies, pizza, snoozes, doing nothing and plenty of it. I got bored eventually but still enjoyed the freedom to do it.

That’s really it. Not the most exciting week, but hey it is still holiday season. We are moving into autumn. It is getting colder, the bike stand is out and the fire has been on a few times. My most favourite season.

Have a great week,
Volker

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Sunday Column (274)

This week was a “back to the roots” week. Back to work, busy days, lots of progress, having fun. Yet, as so often, I am thinking of my boys and found this amazing song by German artist Reinhard Mey. I must have listened to it a hundred times but only this week the meaning became really clear to me. I am not alone with my feelings, balancing work and family, yet enjoying both!

Vaters Nachtlied (Father’s Lullaby)

The translation goes roughly like this:

I’m sorry, I could not come home sooner,
We had a difficult negotiation at work, man oh man, lasting until after eight!
Well, you took Benno Bear and Fritz Fuchs to bed
And Cookie Monster too? I have thought a lot about you.
Were the grandparents over, has it been a good day?
And you blackmailed your mother again for an ice cream?
And I? Oh, I’ve only read the stock market report,
and whilst doing that I was thinking about, how I can glue your boat.

Then Doctor Schulze-Wüstefeld invite me for a working meal,
I moved from “one bum cheek to another”
There was “spicy venison stew,” how gladly would I have instead
Had a bratwurst with you and sucked licorice.
Then I completely forgot to laugh at a joke,
Which Senator Kühn thought was very funny,
I was probably just thinking about beating eggs for pancakes
meanwhile one has chosen me for the board of directors.

It is true indeed, since I am here, not only have the balance sheets improved,
the growth rates are doubled, and the index rose.
Today would have been the day to repot our pumpkin,
And then I would have liked to show you how to sow radishes.
Maybe I landed my biggest deal today,
Perhaps the major order of which the whole company dreams,
But certainly, I have not sung with you at bed time,
And a day that never comes again, I failed to be with you.

Now the regular reader knows two things about me. I enjoy working and if I hadn’t had family I would probably do that all day. The other is that I have family and love being with them, trying to be a good dad. Balancing those two powers can be difficult at times, so days like the one I listen to in the song make me think: about both sides! I am not alone with my feelings, it is totally normal and I get a lot of reassurance from the song and speaking to other dads. I guess it is “back to work” this week, a full on one but really enjoyable one too.

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This week we also got a delivery of logs for our wood burner. It might sound funny but I felt like a child. It was exciting to stack wood for my own stove, making sure we have enough for the winter, which actually I am not. It Is only June and the weather should get warmer before it gets colder, but hey, it is an exciting thing to do. A bit of self sufficiency, independence. Roll on winter, or before that our camper van trip, Hippy, self sufficiency, independence. Roll on the 60ies 😉

There has been one other thing on my mind. And I try not to elaborate on it too much. Friday marked the 70th anniversary of D-day. This is a long time since Britain and the US invaded occupied France to free it from Germany. It has been a dark chapter in Europe, Germany in particular, but it also is history.

Speaking with my 5 year old, asking whether they discussed D-day in school, he said yes. Not that he would really understand. Understand that he is living in a free Europe, being half Scottish (and don’t get me started on the independence campaign there) and half German), growing up in England, and that the privilege to live in a peaceful Europe is down to the brave men who fought in the war. The allies, yet also the resistance in Germany and other countries. But foremost thanks to the guys who on Friday remembered their comrades and all fallen in the Second World War.

Without those I would not be sitting here, working in London, enjoying what I have. I am grateful for that. Grateful for the freedom, peace and opportunity we as a generation need to understand where it is coming from, accepting and remembering the past but letting go of it at the same time.

I think this is a good way of closing this week’s blog. A bit sentimentality about love and war. About how life really is and that there is always something better, something greater, and more opportunities to grasp. Yet, not ever to forget the opportunity we have today, being grateful for what we have. That counts.

Buddha bless.
Volker

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Buddhist Thought – Love as a Motivator

Love

If Love is your strongest motivator, then fear will disappear.
You will feel free.

Trust Love.

Share love and you will get loved.

Have a lovely day 😉

Volker

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Buddhist Thought: free at last?

The Buddha said: “When a person has thoroughly understood the world, from top to bottom, when there is nothing in the world that agitates him anymore, then he has become somebody who is free from confusion and fears and tremblings and the longings of desire. He has gone beyond getting old and beyond birth and death.” – Sutta Nipata

Imagine you knew everything.

That means that nothing is unclear, worrying or unknown. With being free of any fears, confusion or desire you have nothing to think about.

You become truly free. Enlightened.

Buddha Bless.
Volker

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