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Sunday Column (500)

Today is my 500th blog post. That makes it 9.62 years 😉 Wow. I have been writing a lot. If I assume that I write about 500 words on average, that makes 250,000 words, similar to a phd thesis I suppose or double the size of an average novel. Oh I love a bit of writing. Thanks for staying with me and reading regularly, participating in my thoughts and life.

Today I want to write more topical…the heat and Brexit! The weather, the British most favourite topic, and I am seriously more British these days than German. Then I flew to Germany again this week for a farewell of an interim Managing Director position I have been contracting for. It was a nice farewell, but with over 30 degrees, just a bit too hot for my liking. Never mind, I survived. Just.

I worry about the weather and decided I write a more topical post about it next week. To spare you with weekly summaries. Maybe you have more ideas on how I can change my Sunday Column a bit, as when I originally started it was about opinions on topics. And I kind of do that whilst reflecting on the week. Yet maybe I need to research topics and give you my opinions on it? Let me think about it.

Let’s look at Brexit. There is a doomsday scenario of food being shipped to Northern Ireland, and border controls taking part of the motorway to deal with backlog of customs. Really? We are preparing for that and a potential additional 3,000 people we might need to employ in order to deal with it? But we have so far failed to negotiate anything with the European Union? The new Brexit minister inherits a tough tasks and of course opinions are divided if the new government proposal is working, but hopefully we agree something with the EU this autumn. Some people seem positive.

As a native German, a British passport holder, and someone who not only enjoys living in the UK but also has his life in the UK, I don’t want a Brexit. I want more freedom for Britain to be in charge of what they can negotiate, and I do want certain rights, but I am not an advocate to leave the EU. Not currently anyway, over time this might be different, as I have been saying for 20 years that the EU will fall apart. But there are so many positive things about it, like the agreements around healthcare, free travel, custom union, cultural exchange, people exchange, and Europe coming together in any aspect. Think about agreements to work with other companies across Europe to foster innovation in healthcare, technology etc., Airbus being a prime example. Wouldn’t it be awful to isolate ourselves?

I am hopeful. I am positive and usually an optimist. Things will be ok, as most people don’t want to be in a worse situation than before, e.g. they will make sure Brexit will work. Will Brexit mean Brexit how 50+1% of the population wanted it. Maybe not. Maybe Brexit 2019 will be a first step towards a new way of working with the European Union which then will continue to be negotiated over the next few years to come. Who knows at this point in time. Stay positive.

And of course we have asked the question whether to leave the country. We have friends that did. But I am about to start a new job. My sons are going to be in a good school, and they have their friends. On the other hand they could benefit from learning another language and getting different cultural influence. This isn’t an easy decision and we decided to stay. For us, Britain means home. This is where my heart is, where I feel home. I have yet to find another country I would like to live in. What I mean is that I wouldn’t want to go back to Germany which would be the obvious choice. I will always carry my accent and heritage, but a return to Germany just can’t be the solution for me. Of course we monitor things and my new job is very international, so I am sure I will be alright.

See, I can fill a Sunday Column on a topic rather than writing to you how exhausting the week was and how pleased I am that the youngest loves cycling. And we went on a cycling tour and had so much fun. That is all still happening whilst everything else is going on.

Life is full of change. Change is happening all the time and the only constant we have. Let’s embrace it and hope it is for the better.

Love and kindness from my corner of the world.
Volkerbrexit

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Sunday Column (427)

This week was different. In a good way I suppose, given it started out with a lovely Sunday meal with the family. We celebrated my wife’s birthday and her finishing yet another half marathon. Well done. I am very proud of her achievements. I originally wanted to eat a salad but ended up with some nice winter warming comforting Pizza – so much about losing weight again. My training is going well, yet before the 24 hour race I should really shed a few more kilos. I guess consistency with weight exercise is needed and more discipline on the food side of things. I am trying. Maybe not hard enough but pushing myself in regards to making sure to complete three 10K runs a week.

On Tuesday/Wednesday I attended an internal conference where eating and drinking healthy wasn’t an option really. I mean, knowing HR is reading my blog ;-), there is always an option, but less discipline I guess. One night to make friends with up to 180 people from our international territory. That’s a lot of people to meet, a lot of networking. A great event though and speaking as well as listening to our CEO was encouraging. I love what I am doing and believe this company is right. We are on a journey and it is a journey I enjoy. People I enjoy. Amazing technology. We are winning. And no, I am not only writing this since HR is listening in. I am writing this as I think there are similarities between my CEO, my MD and myself. This sounds weird, but besides the early morning routines (this sounds weird, doesn’t it), we also seem to understand and enjoy business. Different level of experience of course and backgrounds, and motivations, but overall I can spot a theme. That’s amazing.

I had probably one of the shortest commutes from the conference. It happened in Brighton. So when I got home Wednesday afternoon I caught up on some sleep and then on some work. The next day I was back at my 5 am routine. It killed me at the conference given I was in bed very late and naturally woke by 5, but on Thursday my 10K was refreshing. I started my physio exercises again and taking ibuprofen, so I am hopeful to get on top of my leg pain soon. I also had 9 hours sleep that night which helped immensely to get back to normal.

The remainder of the week was rather busy. A lot of things to organise, conferences to prepare, personal stuff to sort out. Two weeks out from my citizenship ceremony, which I found out is free of charge after all, the government agreed that the status of EU citizens would not change post Brexit. I feel at ease knowing that soon I don’t have to worry about it anymore. No one likes dealing with government processes I don’t think. So putting it all to an end to apply for a passport will be nice. A bit of closure. Britain is home for me. Here is where my family is and here is where I belong.

Trains seem to run fine at the moment. I don’t want to jinx it but since I started my job 6 weeks ago, I can take a direct train again to get to the office for 9 am. That is nice. An easier commute, reliable most days and a more convenient one. However, the train is older and doesn’t cope that well with the old tracks. So slightly more uncomfortable. I find myself typing this blog on Thursday morning. A sunny day, a windy day. The wind woke me up a few times at night. Winter is not quite gone yet, and according to the calendar spring wont’ t start until 21 March. Despite my wife thinking it is the 1st of March. I look forward to the summer, to more fun with the boys. outside, sitting on the patio. To enjoy nature and nature’s warmth. To connect with the roots. But let’s not get sentimental.

Life has been good to us. I am pleased and happy with what we have. My life as a whole. The challenges it comes with. The love from my boys and discussions we have. The challenges we work through as parents. The ‘treadmill weekends’ of going to parties and entertaining the family. I enjoy to be able to help, to make a difference to things. I am content yet hungry for more. I am eager to step up and take on more. And hopefully I will eventually. With patience, consistency and integrity, I am confident to take things further. Life is great.

Have an amazing week ahead.
Best,
Volker

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Sunday Column (412)

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The week started off nicely after a relaxing weekend. Desperately needed. Finally, after 4 years in our house, the work started to get our driveway done. Those who know me know what that means. On the one hand it means that we got all renovation done in the house, yet started over again thanks to the wifey, but it also and foremost means that we soon can park more than one car off street. It will be practical and a feature to the house. Parking is awful in our cul-de-sac thanks to commuters and people going on holidays from Gatwick, parking their car for weeks at a time. We are now independent and Daddy can consider his mid life crisis dream. We shall see. It feels like a long journey in this place comes to an end. We made it ours.

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Whilst we enduring the mild weather, we still get a bit of mud into the house. All be done by next Friday they say. Everything is going to be done some time, isn’t it. No, I am not having thoughts about dying yet, still far too early and too many dreams to finish, but we had a big presentation this week. I knew it would be done by 11.30 on Thursday. I knew that a few weeks ago. The same as I know that some other meetings, next Tuesday, next Friday etc. are coming and going. And they will be over and I will survive them. Some I have prepared better than others and some I have to shine and sell, others I just ‘attend’. My point I am trying to make, and this isn’t different to any other job I ever had, is that time doesn’t stand still. We have all the same time, 24 hours in a day to be precise, and we sometimes start with the end in mind, the task for a presentation. And as we go along the journey unfolds, and eventually we will get there. You don’t let yourself fail, do you? And if you fail, that’s good, as you learn from it. So not that failure is bad but you wouldn’t want to fail on purpose. At a presentation on Friday someone quoted Edison, not that he tried to invent the lightbulb by failing but by trying 1000 different ways. Language is beatiful, isn’t it?

Life is intense at the moment. This is due to work being busy and I am still finding my feet. But I am settling in very well, really enjoying the challenge. I finally find a bit more of a routine and seem to get things done. That’s what I like. And I enjoy being busy. This week I also managed to catch up with some friends, long overdue, which I haven’t seen for a while. That was very nice. I also managed to to do my back in. Despite having pain last week and a massage last weekend, I must have pulled a muscle in my back. Spasm whilst running and difficulties getting out of bed. Ibuprofen and a bit of rest should do the trick, but one feels unable. I find I almost got addicted to running and exercising, so not knowing what to do with myself at 5 am is difficult 😉 I pass the time, don’t get me wrong, I am actually reviewing the next productivity book at the moment, so a bit of extra time helps. Not being able to follow your passion and get that energy out of your system is difficult though. I’ll make up for it. In most areas life seems to fall into place. Exciting.

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Home. That’s the place I am far away from London and work. It is not so much that I am bothered by either, but about having a physical distance to the place I spend my week at. Looking out of the living room window and seeing a lot of green, a lot of trees and being able to walk into woods or fields within 5 minutes of leaving the house is priceless. Nice clouds, lovely sunrises and sunsets. A short drive and we are at the beach. The fire in the wood stove that goes on when we are cold and the gym in the garage for my every day routine. The place I feel safe and happy, confident and relaxed. And so does my family too. Peace. Looking at recent house prices it also seems as if we gained a bit on the house over the years, which of course doesn’t really matter. We are here to stay.

Yet, with the nights getting longer, and it getting darker and colder outside, it is nice to sit down, relax and reflect. Where has my journey taking me? Where have I been coming from? What have I learned? I am content. Happy.

From my little corner of this world, I wish you a nice autumn and relaxing weekends. Not long before Christmas now.

Best,
Volker

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South Downs

Who needs holidays if you are living in paradise 🙂

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Wee man travelling to Detmold, Germany

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Sunday Column (171)

Ok, this week was stressful. But before I speak about the move and all, let’s look at the Venus flying past the sun. I didn’t see it personally but my friend Mitch posted an awesome picture on Facebook:

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After the Jubilee celebrations most people went back to work on Wednesday. I was still off, packing, and getting a new filling for one of my teeth. Not nice. On Thursday the removal van arrived. We then moved on Friday with a very smooth move. There were some hiccups like the guys packing Colin’s suitcase with essential toys but overall it went ok.

However, I found the move very stressful. According to Holmes and Rahe there are a lot more events which are more stressful than moving:

An LCU score over 300 = 80% chance of illness developing (I skipped a few):

Death of spouse 100
Divorce 73
Prison Term 63
Death of a close family member 63
Personal injury or illness 53
Marriage 50
Being Fired from work 47
Retirement 45
Change in health of family member 44
Pregnancy 40
Sexual difficulties 39
Addition of family member 39
Major business readjustment 39

Major changes in financial state 38
Death of a close friend 37
Changing to a different line of work 36
Mortgage or loan over £10,000 31
Major change in responsibilities at work 29
Children leaving home 29
Outstanding personal achievement 28
Spouse begins or stops work 26
Changes in living condition 25
Revision of personal habits (dress, manners, associations) 24
Trouble with boss 23
Change in work hours, conditions 20
Change in residence 20

Changes in school 20

Holmes and Rahe conducted subsequent research which was complemented by epidemiological studies that investigated the direct relationship between illness and stress.

I marked the ones I encountered before in bold. No wonder I got a lot more grey hair over the past years. As so often I believe if you enjoy working and the responsibility that comes with it, you won’t find some of the things that I highlighted as stressful. Nevertheless, an interesting study and conclusion on stressful life events. I somewhat miss flying on there, fear of spiders and generally paranoia / fear of “anything that could happen for the worse”. Maybe I am just paranoid 😉

Anyway, I am writing this post two days after the move and in all honesty I am absolutely shattered. The place we bought was in a worse state than we expected, and we had to do a lot of cleaning before we could start to unpack. Also, the last move was quicker settling in. And I wonder if that is because we now have two little helpers that unpack, want to be useful or just pick anything out of a box. The joys … and how do you explain to a three year old that you never go back to the only place he has ever known as “home”?

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There are a few challenges, a few tears, desperation, shouting, organising, lack of sleep and frustration BUT we keep reminding ourselves that this is planned to be our home for at least as long as the boys go to school. So 20 to 30 years between them going uni and daddy to retire. Wow. So we can take baby steps to improve the place. Be patient.

Enough said. We are happy and that is all that matters. And we love the new place.

I keep it short this week. You saw the pictures and I am sure more will follow.

Have a good week. I will be cleaning and unpacking whilst you are working. A second week off. Yay 😉

Best wishes,
Volker

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new garden fence

Now this weekend, whilst still recovering, I get quick bursts of DIY done.

Today the fence and sowing grass, as we decided to have no veggies this year.

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shelves living room

Our new free floating shelves in the living room.

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work life balance

I think the last time I wrote about work life balance was regarding the entrepreneur and intrepreneur.

A thought I had was when I have been working from home, which happens occasionally, whether I have a better or worse work-life-balance.

And, the answer is difficult. I remember that studying for my MBA we discussed that if you work from home, you should get your own room/desk and area in the house. This way you could “go home” after work and relax, e.g. getting your life.

However, for me as an occasional “working from home” person, it is not that easy. A small house with only one proper desk, it is like you are in your living room all day.

Often, when I discuss that with clients, I get the answer of “I would get too distracted at home” – I agree, some people can. For me it is usually the other way around:

I get up my usual time and sit on the laptop about one hour earlier than I usually do. Then, from a lunch point of view, I eat whatever is around and never really feel hungry, ergo do not have a proper break until the late afternoon. Which is, when I go back to my desk and deal with some work over in the US and end up shutting down the laptop around 7 or 8 pm.

Wow, that makes it a full 11 hour day (only noticed that now). And, my way home is quick. I just sit on the other side of the table and end up being home 🙂

Now, there are two sides to that:
I personally get more distracted by work than by home, e.g. I enjoy working and what I do, so end up working more at home but cannot really escape work physically. But, I have enough confidence to turn things off if it is getting too much.

Finding the right balance is important. And, as long as you enjoy the work you are doing, working from home occassionally is fine. However, I actually enjoy being in the office too – even if I am alone in the office. Just to get away from home 🙁 Is that double minded?

I read “big brother’s” comment about life-life balance. There are so many discussions about what is right or wrong and I believe nothing is right or wrong as long as it works for you (and ultimately for the person you work for). If you cannot turn off the laptop when it’s time and you cannot turn off your blackberry when needed, then you do need to work on your priorities. You need to enjoy what you are doing, that is really the key.

Some more Buddhist thoughst on life-life balance can be found at balamadana.

Enjoy a relaxing weekend.

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DIY continued

Tonight, after a very successful day at work, we did some DIY – then again we did not.

My wife got curtains and our living room really looks stunning now. However, we wanted to get some pictures on the wall but after my experience of drilling through a cable, I will get myself a wire detector. I believe that 21 pounds will be well spent and I can use my DIY skills without worrying about getting an electric shock or getting someone to fix things.

We will shortly post more pictures on www.ballueder.co.uk where we have links to pictures, profiles and everything concerning our life. Very cheesy text I admit.

Have a good night, speak tomorrow.

Volker

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