Posts Tagged half term

Sunday Column (461)

No train on Monday. This week was half term, and I damn well enjoyed myself. Sorry, but I really did. Let’s start with last weekend, when on Sunday we went off to Bracknell to the UK’s longest water slide. A bit of shopping first, and then we headed to the pool, which turned out to be a bit disappointing and the slides a bit dangerous with both boys falling off the rafts inside the slides. Nevertheless, the swimming was fun, lots of water plays and two tired boys at night. That night I managed to sleep close to 10 hours myself and prior to that we had a great steak and chips evening in the Beef Eater adjacent to our Premier Inn. What a way to start a short vacation, and despite previous experience, the Premier Inn was really nice. And unlimited chips too (so much about my diet 🙂 ).

On Monday and Tuesday we were in Legoland. I so desperately wanted to stay in the hotel, that we decided to do that over half term and we chose an adventure room. It was fun, a great themed hotel room, a riddle to open the safe for a toy, and two days of rides and food. What not to enjoy? The possibility to spend time with my two boys and the wife was great. I haven’t had that for a long time and feel like I have been away too much travelling recently. But that is going to stop for a few weeks I suppose, that’s what I think anyway. So time to make up for it and even go down a roller coaster ride. Really? Yup, I did, but I didn’t enjoy it at all. And if I am not mistaken, it was the first time I ever went on a roller coaster. I know…I am a bit of a chicken when it comes to fairground rides. The Ninjago ride/game was great, despite the 90 minute queuing time and the laser ride in the pyramids was fun as well. Probably my two most favourite rides. Yes, Legoland is a great place to be, but after two days, I was done with it. I had enough to be honest. I was “lego-d” out. The most fascinating bit was probably the Star Wars exhibition.

The last day of my half term we went to London to get the boys new German passports. With Brexit lurking and the world being a not so safe place, you never know which passport will be best in the future. So off we went and also spend a sunny day on the Southbank. A boat ride, a relaxed swing on the exhibition in the Tate Modern and lots of tube and train journeys. Just what the boys enjoyed. We skipped the Emperial War Museum and saved it for a rainy day. Yes, another successful day, and three tired out boys in the family 🙂 Time to go back to work, so I did exactly that on Thursday. Not without having a huge pizza and some wine on Wednesday. Back to the diet as of tomorrow, right?!

At time of writing I am still looking back at the experience. What a fun packed week, and when leaving the house on Friday morning after my run, the boys and the wife were still asleep, catching up on the much needed sleep and dealing with the experience of the week. What fun we had! Even a few days away can make such a difference and on the back of it we ignited the Lego fun again. My wife organised a new shelf to organise the Lego and I got myself the BMW R1200 Lego Technic motorbike to build for the weekend. The boys and I put it together on Saturday and on the way I explained them how engines work, mechanics works and what traction for wheels is like. Time to get my hobby car, the Jaguar. Maybe next spring depending on the situation moving forward. We shall see.

As they say, life happens when you are busy making other plans.

And as I read the papers, the noise around a no Brexit deal is getting louder. There is a chance for Brexit, maybe even later than 2019, and there is a chance for a no Brexit deal or even a no Brexit. Two options to not go ahead, or really one to go ahead without a deal and one without a Brexit if that makes sense. I believe that slowly this country comes around and realises the implications a Brexit might have, and that already a lot of banks moved to Europe in order to avoid the uncertainty.

Uncertainty, whether one is out of a job, looking for the next step, waiting to hear about some results, or living in a country to exit a union, is never a good situation. It is, as it says, uncertainty. A situation where one doesn’t know what happens and naturally humans seek security and certainty. Yes, we also need uncertainty, and the 6 human needs clearly show it, but mostly in a controlled fashion in forms of adventure or entrepreneurship. We don’t want to live with constant uncertainty, at least most people don’t. In other words, living in a country with an uncertain future and having an uncertain future, is a combination that doesn’t make life easier. Should one stay or should one go, carry on or do something new? With every uncertainty comes opportunity and as my boss used to say, change is good. Life is good too, did you notice that? Where focus goes, energy flows.

I watched a video recently where, in an experiment, people were put on a line and everyone who had to never worry about money, always had food, always could go to school, never had to worry about a roof over their head etc. took a step forward for each of those priviliges. Priviliges they cannot even pat themselves on the back for. Having a warm home, enough food and the ability to learn gives my children a head start. I am glad I can provide that and hope that in the future I can do even more. Because they are my first priority in life, and nothing should ever change that.

So before I go on about uncertainty and priviliges, I look at the upcoming sun, with a mind like water, and trust that the universe will help me to get where I am supposed to be in the future.

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world,
Volker

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Sunday Column (409)

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Having a week off is nice. Isn’t it? You are able to connect with yours, yourself and your family. You focus on the very important things in life. And you realise your biggest hobby is actually writing. I spend a few nights just drafting ideas. Drafting this blog and think whilst doing it. It is my outlet, my sanity my idea of fun. I am not good at taking pictures, not good at videos, not patient enough for miniature modelling, but I do like to tell a good story and develop, and challenge people. Meet me 🙂

The day before going on PTO (I adopted this term over the years, having worked for a few American companies), is always hectic. You want to finish everything you can and cannot finish. And just as I was heading out the office more things kicked off. You have this moment where you think that you must stay and fix things. But you have a team, and they will do a good job, and you are not irreplaceable. So it took me the weekend to put together some thoughts and guidance, some additional finishing touches, and I was off to slowly relax for half term. You never finish. And you need to let things go. A few texts and emails on Sunday night confirmed that people could do without me. Not permanently though 😉 And I shall see the outcome tomorrow.

A relaxed weekend, tired kids, anniversary dinner (nice Thai), and loads of ice cream, followed by a Monday drive to York. On the way a burger at BK with 1,680 calories. WTF?? I didn’t believe it and felt really bad. Or was that for the whole meal? Sitting most of the day didn’t help for me to feel sluggish. I feel like I put on a few kilos this week. Anyway, we went through York after we arrived on Monday afternoon, a nice walk, the Minster, some pub food (just to top up) and a nice Yorkshire ale. We also met an old work colleague of mine. I met him in York 8 years ago, he worked with me in London for two. He now moved back to York. Anyway, York is mystical, a nice town, a bit spooky, old, yet charming and lovely. We loved staying in a great AirBNB just five minutes walk from the city centre. Great. The leaves were turning, it was cold but not too cold and we had a great time.

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However, somewhat the kids saw it a bit differently. Not sure what is driving them at the moment, but they just wouldn’t listen. Not the most fun part on half term. They had to touch and climb and question everything. We tired them out going to the railway museum, which I thought would take half a day. However, we ended up staying the whole day and took pictures that looked the same but different to 11 years ago, the last time my wife and I went there.

Wednesday ran away a bit. Another museum, a lot of walking, a late lunch and a stroll through York. It is a lovely city, great for shopping and discovery at this time of year. The boys got a toy and couldn’t wait to get back to the house. I soaked in the autumn atmosphere. Thinking about work a bit to be honest, why certain people buy and don’t buy. I thought about motivation and what attracts us to certain brands.

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It is the feeling we associate with a brand. It is the smell of the pizza you only get at Pizza Express. The feeling of being welcomed in a warm cosy pub. The feeling and smell if you sit down in this brand new car. The joy of eating this chocolate bar or what we remember when we last ate this cheese. Maybe it is sad but that’s also what attracted us to spend time in York. For the wife having been here with her family many years ago. For me having worked for a York company and been up here many times; and as above for the wife and I to visit 11 years ago. Couldn’t you just imagine one of our boys to study here?

Anyway, we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. It was a fantastic break. A much needed wind down, yet you never really wind down within a week. A great time to reflect, to see things in a different light. I came back with lots of todos how to change things at work and in my daily routine. There is a book to finish. That’s what those breaks are good for.

One last word. I read, in a museum, that Andy Warhol once said, in 1965, ‘In the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes’. How right was he? Through twitter, social media in general, we all get these 15 minutes at some point. When we shine, get a few likes and are famous for a moment. I had those moments, and everyone did. We are enabling sharing and opinion pieces widely these days. We are all a bit famous and known for what we do. We are heard. Is anyone listening?

So I finish this blog whilst watching one of the boys playing transformers on the ipad, the other one building a LEGO model. They are having so much fun. We looked at some soldiers one can paint and build a war game with (Citadel/Wargames). The kids seem to enjoy that and were quite good painting those figures given their age. It is an interesting concept to get them involved into, and why not, just because I never have been doesnt’ mean it is the wrong thing to do/. I can see the appeal, and whatever it is, they do enjoy a good game. I keep trying to get them into chess but drafts is winning out right at the moment. Never mind.

Have a great week, for me it is back to work tomorrow.

Best,
Volker

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Sunday Column (373)

It was half term this week. That meant I took a few days off to spend with the boys and the wife of course. It was great. Three days of ‘peace’ and happiness.

On Monday we went to London and the Natural History Museum. Again. Yet every time we go, the boys seem to understand a little bit more about earth quakes, lava, dinosaurs and so on. It was great, and Rohan’s best part of the museum was how life is created as a dot within a mother’s womb. Then evolution….we must go back again soon.

mother's womb

Having had some time to myself, I decided to shut down my productivity blog ‘tidwows’ this summer. The content finishes end of March and I shall move it under my blog’s pages as an archive. The decision was made to focus on other things that are going on in my life. Life is fluent and I enjoy working on new projects.

With my second book on productivity far from being finished, I just don’t have the time to maintain two blogs and two separate sections of productivity, e.g. one on a blog and one in a new book.

Regarding our car buy…or not buy. We have been thinking a lot. There seems to be a lot of new SUVs coming out this year. Whilst I enjoy the thought of having a new Skoda Superb and drive it for three years, then get another new one etc., from a financial point of view it might make more sense to buy used and drive a car for longer. Or does it?

Having done some research, looking and offers and realising it is a huge financial burden to add a monthly payment to our outgoings, we decided to put our decision on hold until later this year. Our beloved Seat Alhambra works well and is ok to drive for another year or so. Yet, for longer distances, like going to Scotland or Germany, it would be nice to have a more comfortable car. And then again, Ford offers a better deal with better car features….decisions.

The challenge is of course that the new car deals are very appealing. However, if you have the money to buy a used car, or nearly new, out right, it doesn’t stack up to buy new. And financing a new car makes sense if the interest rate is lower than the one from the bank….anyway. Decision made for now. Yet of course we keep looking 🙂

There aren’t many other news this week. I kept up my 5 am routine when being off and also added some additional milage to my running. I noticed it more than anticipated, but won’t have time to keep it up. Even a 5 am start doesn’t allow more than 10K before work 🙂 I think however that this is enough, twice a week. I tried our new elliptical trainer which wasn’t too bad and worked on different muscle groups. I might just alternate between swimming and cross trainer. Oh, and I did eat too much this week 😉

Going back to work was fine, having two days in the office is just enough to get on top of things, go through your emails and catch up on 3 days you missed. Sounds fun, yet all set for next week. It is unbelievable sometimes as to how much you are missing in only three days. Never mind. And given next week’s activities and schedules, it is going to be very busy. Full steam ahead!

The weekend passed quickly. Given it was half term, there weren’t any kids parties. So that was good. A relaxing weekend to finish off half term was nice. My wife decided to spoil me with nice food and I did my part in choosing a nice wine. One tries 😉 A few errands and play time with the boys.

Also the week I discovered Blinkist, which is a tool that summarises non fiction books. So within 20 minutes I can read the main and important content from a non fictional book and get the gist of it. I like it. The only challenge is can I make it work for £5/month to read enough books? Or in other words, how many more non fictional books do I really need to read?

We shall see.

As with most decisions this week it is down to patience and time. Time will tell and patience will pay off. Fingers crossed anyway. Yet patience, as you all know, is something I have little off. But one tries :-p

Have a great week,
Volker

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Sunday Column (346)

Starting the week with a day trip, whether to Paris or anywhere really, sets you up for the week. A little bit like a 5am routine for the day, a day trip to Europe is for your week. You feel energised and ready to take on the world. It is that feeling of accomplishment, the feeling of achievement. That’s why I enjoy doing what I am doing. That’s why I enjoy productivity, sales and leadership. Because you know you are the one moving the needle.

Of course, given it was a 15 hour day, it was tiring too 🙂 Yet it was a successful trip, and it is what I enjoy really.

So the rest of the week flew past. No punt intended. I noticed my 12K from the weekend, some early training for my Dawn Wall (see last week for context) exhausted me a bit more than anticipated. However, and this isn’t a moan about the man flu, but there are a few bugs going around. So far I have avoided to be off work or feel bad, but something seems to be lingering around for a few weeks. I am certain it all comes out, literally, given recent stories at school, when we break for half term tomorrow. Yet, with some more nice weather on the way, I am eager to do more training outside. Just difficult at 5 am as it is a bit dark still, so my 7.5K on Thursday on the treadmill was a pleasant ‘walk in the park’. Again, a feeling of achievement to be able to do your run first thing.

Another mile stone this week was our 8 year anniversary. Sometimes hard to believe that you can spend over 10 beautiful years together with as little fights as my wife and I have. Who would have guessed anyone would ever be able to cope with me for such a long period of time 😉 I guess that makes her extra special. My wife is a very special person and we have experienced so much together, ups and downs, yet it has been a wonderful time so far. And I am more than certain there are many more years to come. I love you Jenny.

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On that note, one sometimes wonders if there is a higher force that sorts out your partner. We know people come into your life for a reason and people leave it for a reason, I mean not dying but entering your life, you learn/laugh/chat together, then they disappear forever. Some stay and some are your life time partner. Is that all down to chance? Why do some never find a perfect match?

I guess this is a philosophical question, similar to who do you meet at university and where do you find your first job. This can determine your whole career and 50 years ahead. The small things in life, the piece of chance, luck or destiny that shape your life. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Let’s not get sentimental…yet the picture above shows our new family partner. We picked him up on Friday – not really a replacement for Rosie, and it never can be, but my wife always had cats, and the last cat we had to re-home because of the dog. I am sure he will settle in fine, and the kids will love him.

The end of the week marked the start of half term. I was actually off from Friday! The kids needing the time off. So do I to be honest. It has been a long time since my last break with lots of changes since. So just before we really hit Q4 I am taking a week off. My parents arrived with lots of wine, filling up the shelves. Plus it gave us an opportunity, my wife and I, to celebrate mentioned anniversary. They are staying for a few days which gives the kids and us a great chance to spend some quality family time together.

As I grow older family time becomes more important. Not that work becomes less important, it is more that other things take priority. I am still working on my career, probably always will, but being able to see my kid’s harvest festival performance, being there when they need someone to talk to or just reading about the ‘burgling cat’ before going to work. Those precious moments are never there to return.

That is life. And I really loving it. I love to be in the middle of it, falling on my back, like a dog in the mud, and really enjoy life for the reason of love and friendships.

Buddha bless,
Volker

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Sunday Column (295)

It is November. Time keeps flying and only another 6 weeks to Christmas. Wow. I just had a week off with the family. Nothing was planned but staying at home at half term, taking care of the puppy, spending time with the kids.

Having a puppy is great yet hard work. Potty training, entertaining, particularly if you cannot take it for walks yet. Chewing on anything, playing with the boys’ toys and generally just wanting to be entertained. A 3 year old too forceful, and a 5 year old too shy with it. We made a lot of progress and in less than 2 weeks time we can take her for walks. I cannot wait.

What I enjoyed most about the time off? Getting on top of things like putting away the firewood for the winter. Cooking. Sleeping. Running. Sitting in the living room, putting the fire on at 4pm, having a glass of wine, chilling out, trying take aways… Not everyday though 😉 Doing some minor DIY things. As mentioned, thanks to the dog we couldn’t really go anywhere for long.

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We managed to clear the loft out a big. Old toys, cloths and baby stuff. Something I was looking forward to for a long time. It feels like we made the cut, we moved on. We don’t have babies anymore. We have two boys that are growing up. Now we got a puppy. With 8 months they should be ‘grown ups’. So from mid next year I can say that I have a 4, 6 and 1 year old child. That’ll be nice 😉 And the cat. Yet it has to be seen if Hänsel will hang around. And the wife is talking about dog number two already…let’s see what is there to come.

In the meantime I focus on the NOW. The very moment I enjoy spending with the boys and the family. Building Lego, going swimming, polishing the car or tidying away the firewood. Whatever it is and whatever we can do as a team. It is nice to create shared experiences. Things they will remember for years to come.

And in a subtle way you teach them about life. That the old toys from the loft going to people that have no toys. That cannot afford toys. And that there are people that don’t have hot water or warm houses in the winter. Those little things we keep forgetting and we must remind ourselves and our children about. Every year, coming to Christmas, I reflect on where we are and what we can do for others. And I do want my kids to be involved. In school they teach them Africa doesn’t have any money. But it isn’t only Africa, it can be in your own country too. We too often forget.

But don’t let me get too sentimental. After all we still got six weeks till Christmas. And then another year will commence. I got the feeling 2015 will be a year full of positive changes. I can’t put my finger down yet but anticipate that whilst a lot of things change, for better or for worse, we will see a very positive outcome from it, even if this is still years away for us to realise.

I also managed a great MTB ride and a few runs. So trying to stay active.

Have a great November,
Volker

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Sunday Column (294)

There are few joys as great as having a baby. You do the poo duties, you don’t sleep and you have to teach them things over and over again. Let me tell you, a puppy is not much different. At night time a puppy cries for its mummy, and you have to let it get on with it. It breaks your heart but after a few days it stops. No sleep, whilst worrying she might pee or poo into her den (cage). That of course happens, accidents are prone to happen. So is poo or pee on the floor, so thanks for putting in laminate earlier this year, carpet would have been a disaster. Getting up at 5 am, my daily routine, had to change. I cannot go running whilst a super hyper puppy, which has yet to get along with our cat, is jumping on and at me. So running moved to the evenings and poo duty to the mornings, sitting in the kitchen catching up on work. We make it happen. A content puppy to your feet, chilling out – after 3 poos (!), and jumping on my freshly washed pink shirt. Nice. We love her to bits though.

Wow, I got this blog post off to a good start, didn’t I. It is difficult, yet one has more experience these days, to not shout at a puppy when an accident happens. Not to loose your temper when things go wrong. Trying to make her sit or stay or anything is hard work but after a week we are making progress. It is actually very pleasing to have a puppy (or dog for that matter), this true companion that wants to sit with you, keeps you company and brings you lots of joy. And above all things, this puppy will only stay a baby for 8 months, not 3 years 🙂 On that note, if you are considering getting a puppy, make sure your kids are ok with it. We have one that is a bit shy/scared but makes daily progress (which makes you think that you made the right decision on adding a dog to the family) and we have one that is super hyper thinking it is a toy (which makes you think we should have waited another year). Either way, it is a great challenge for the family, a new chapter and overall we really enjoy having Rosie here. And she is more pleasing than the cat really.

Rosie

I personally start looking forward to taking her for long walks and chill out after work. Instead of sitting down and get comfy after dinner, I get some “exercise” and some nice fresh air prior to going to bed. That will wind me down after work – that is the theory anyway until it starts getting wet and windy like this week, snow and the like. Surely, I will keep you posted.

But what else happened this week? Not much compared to the above. Three conferences, lots of work and deals and trying to wrap things up before I was off for half term next week. I might have to do some work next week, just to keep on top of things, as a restructure makes me even busier than before. Having said that, I really enjoy the remit and products I am selling, adding value to the industry I work in. Great stuff! And a conference this week I do believe I made a difference explaining what it is all about. Let’s at least hope so.

As of next week I haven’t got much planned. Repair my bike, get new firewood stacked in the garage, play and train the dog, play with the kids, check the lego set for Christmas we got from eBay is complete, chill out with the family, have a dog trainer, go to the vet, watch a few movies, get a hair cut and just do all those things that need to get done and I have been putting off for a while. Like clearing out the loft. And cooking for the family. Going for walks. And I will be sitting here next week realising I didn’t do all those things I was hoping to do. But that’s life, isn’t it?

So I hope you all have a good week.
Volker

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Sunday Column (259)

Routine. Let me start this post with talking about routine. One is set in one’s routine, set in one’s way. We all are. From the breakfast we have to the bed time routine. Mine hasn’t really been any for the past 10 months. But now I am back to establish my 5.15 alarms, exercises and regular trains.

It means you need to establish your regular night times, hours in bed, undisturbed sleeps, alarms and regular fitness routine. All that whilst still getting used to a new job. It has only been three weeks yet it feels like three months. One could say I am busy but in a good sense. I am really enjoying it! I am still very excited!

Then I saw an interesting graph this week. Focus: the things that matter and the things that you can influence. So based on the graph we really should only focus on the intersection of what we can influence and what really matters. I guess this is part, if not the basis, of productivity.

matter and control

Of course that all ties in with routine too. Whilst focusing on my daily workout and focusing on the right exercise for core strength, ankle support and muscle toning, I also need to focus on cardio and the right, healthy food. Nothing seems disconnected. The half pint more at night causes a slight slump in performance the next day. I am getting there, a challenging path still in front of me, well worth at the end. A few weeks or months down the line I will be proud of sticking to this new routine, seeing and feeling the results.

It comes a bit at a price. I have been unproductive on my train journeys into work and instead caught up on sleep. Nothing is disconnected. I am finishing my coaching this week for the foreseeable future and made a lot of progress. I still need to focus on more implementation and continue to work on some things. Yet over the last few months coaching helped me a lot in terms of focus, which now is integrated into my routine.

Last but not least it was half term. I have been jealous about the activities my wife came up with for the boys. Bowling being one of it I missed, poppadoms another. Seeing the pictures I wish I could be with them all the time. It makes my heart sink thinking about them growing up and one day living their own life with us not being there all the time. We need to learn to let go, guess another process to learn. We cannot hold on to time and development just for our own sake. We cannot hold their hands forever or think they stay young all the time.

I guess that’s it for the week. I spent the weekend holding on to what I can and enjoying whilst I can. And getting fit, see earlier post.

Have a great week.

Volker

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