Posts Tagged House

Sunday Column (417)

Please accept my apologies for the late publication of this blog – the scheduling let me down 🙁

Merry Christmas.

We have been, and are celebrating, with our families today. So I have already written the post and by the time you read it, I hope you are sitting down, chillaxing after a fat turkey dinner, glass of sherry or wine, maybe a cheese board, and you are creating an experience and memories with your families. That is what Christmas is about. Having a good time and spending some amazing time with your loved ones. For years to come you will look at your pictures from Christmas, remember the moments when the kids unwrap the presents, the sound of the fire and the taste of cheese and wine. There are so many experiences you’ll remember, the funny and sad stories. Moments that matter.

Christmas, end of year, is time to reflect. An amazing year it was. It started actually with an interview on the first day back after Christmas in 2016. This year was for me to create my life. To find out what I want to do and how I want to do it. Given the recent developments, I mapped out what I want to do what I shall focus on moving forward. And the reasoning for anything is around a few things that are very important for me: values. What I value. What I cherish in life and what is important to me. And my career is important to me. Lots of things to do, so much opportunity out there.

One value for me, without any question, is family. I want to have the flexibility to see my boys growing up and make the good night story more often than just at the weekends. Or the school pick up. At least once a week I’d like to be at home and be there for them, around them and help them grow up. I want to be their sounding board and advisor, friend and lecturer all at the same time. That is important for me. And, it is important for me to allow my wife to go back to work too. That will hopefully happen early 2017. So more change to come.

Another value is energy. I want to put energy into things and projects where I get energy back. I enjoy working with people that work hard and put a lot of energy into things to make them work. Honesty. Trust. Not being able to funnel your energy into the right direction or not being able to funnel energy whatsoever, just doesn’t work for me. So a part of 2016 is learning about my energy household, about meditation techniques and on that note I concluded more than 365 days of daily meditation. It helped me a lot!

This year saw my oldest joining middle school. The youngest going into year one. Those are big steps. I don’t believe how quickly or too quickly they grow up. Whichever cliché you think it is, we don’t have enough time to see our kids grow up. See earlier point. My wife re-trained and is ready to go back to work. Life is moving on slowly but surely. You would have noticed me mentioning the driveway a lot, yet it is a completion of the house for now. All work has been done, the next few bits and pieces are repairs and cosmetics, some plastering, some decorating etc. After 4.5 years we are finally done with the house and the outside in a way we wanted to have it. A great, satisfying feeling. I can sit in my chair, have a glass of wine and happily say we are done with the house. A very satisfying feeling. We have good health. My wife even ran a marathon. We are surrounded by family. What else can we ask for?

We saw Trump’s election this year. We saw Brexit. Latter resulted in me sending off for the naturalisation this week, to become a British citizen. I love this country, love living here, so might as well have a British passport in order to be 100% sure I can stay. Most probably I can anyway, but after 15 years it was about time to get this sorted. The likelihood of me moving back to Germany is very slim. And Trump – I follow politics and I am a bit concerned, yet we have to evaluate as we go along. As anything in life, there is a German saying, nothing is eaten as hot as it is cooked – let the news die down, see them taking office and see how much they actually do of what they threaten to do. Yet, given the German history, I am cautious to not ignore early warning signs. Fingers crossed.

At the same time we see terrorism in Germany and I am glad I don’t know of anyone being affected. I lived through 7/7 in London in 2005 and that is over 10 years ago now. We almost expect terrorism daily and luckily not much is happening. Let’s hope that we will see less of it rather than more. Paris, Madrid, London, Berlin….why can’t we all live in peace. Aleppo. I feel better by donating £50 to Unicef for some winter blanket, shoes and cloth for a child. But I am still very detached from what is actually going on. I wouldn’t say bubble wrapped but distanced. Fortunately or unfortunately. Trying to explain to your kids that having a turkey for Christmas, presents and the fire on, sitting in the warm and enjoying ourselves is something that they shouldn’t take for granted. I am trying. We should value every little thing in life and cherish those moments we create. Share the love whilst it lasts. Enjoy the good moments, and cherish them.

We also had a few nice holidays. Nothing fancy but great memories for the children. Memories and experience that matter. York in autumn. Centreparks. A few days at at the beach, Scotland with the MIL. The kids do not care if it is Cacun or Littlehampton, and when they are older I hope to show them more of the world. At the moment we are struggling to communicate some basic principles of what the European Union is or that the world is round. And just because Power Rangers are in New York, doesn’t mean going there we will see them 🙂 The world isn’t that simple, or maybe it is and we lost touch with the simplicity of it by making it more complicated than it should be. Anyway.

What I wish for in 2017 is simple: more time with the family, more happiness and health – latter is key to anything we do. Nothing is more important than health. So I continue to run my 20K a week, doing some weight training and maybe take up swimming again. We encourage the boys to take on different sports. Food is key too. What you put in, results in energy and output. Bad food will result in diseases. Very simple, so making sure to choose the right ingredients, cooking and eating healthy is in stock for 2017.

And maybe this is the same tune I had on last year. Sunday Column 364 and 365 talk more about sick bugs which we seemed to have avoided this year, at least the nasty stomach ones, so far. I also talk about my exercise routine which I kept up throughout the year, and still even then the work life balance wasn’t 100%. Guess it never is. And I do talk about the driveway LOL.

With that closing, thanks for being a regular reader of my blog and thanks for your support and help throughout the year.

Have a Happy Christmas, great start into the New Year and I hope that you are as excited as myself to embark a new journey in 2017. A year where I like to look back to and say it shaped my future. Yet every year does 🙂

All the best and stay safe and well,
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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Sunday Column (269)

Oh yes. I started writing this post early in the week, as I normally do. For the first time in many years I had a good wash rather than a hot shower, however the boiler has now been fixed and we are back to modern times. A weekend passed at which we had a family bath: hot water and one by one got a turn. Youngest last. I also spent a lot of time trying the best method on how to make fire. This should be an instinct to men really, yet we are not living in a cave any longer.

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Someone suggested we should put a fire guard on the wall for the boys to stop playing with it. The thought never crossed my mind tbh, as the stove is that hot and we explain at length not to touch it. Actually, I showed Colin how to use matches and when we get our axe, he will learn how to split wood. Others might disagree. When I grew up I was so scared of fire but at the same time so curious. I made loads of them. On a building site across the road I set paper on fire, lying awake all night being scared the fire was out, and as it was forbidden, and I didn’t have any experience, I was scared to talk to anyone about it.

Education is key. Kids will be kids and they will play with fire, or will try cigarettes, or beer when they are under age. Of course the impact of fire can be horrendous yet I am a strong believer that they need to learn. And I don’t let them light the fire or move hot logs, open the door or leave matches lying around.

Whilst I am of course justifying myself here, I am also thinking of something else: the influence and comment on social media, which is to no offence to the above. I just read a chapter on productivity suggesting we are wasting a lot of time and listen to a lot of noise. This is certainly true, yet over the past three month I improved on a few things.

Firstly I don’t check my social media or emails at the weekend that often anymore. I am deliberately tuning out, also making it less of a habit during the week. Working in the space will certainly mean to not being able to completely stop checking in, tweeting or updating Facebook, but I am getting a lot more selective. Feedly is also being reduced again massively.

The reason is time. Learning how to organise, prioritising and making sure you put important things first, shows you how much time you waste, trying to be up to date on everything that happens. That in return means you might never really focus on the things that are important or important to you. A simple learning in time of information overload, learning to filter the information we get.

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Then there was my birthday. Nothing of overly importance and just a step closer to 40. Not there yet though. My wife treated me to a few goodies which was very nice and kind.

However the best birthday present came this weekend: a new couch and arm chairs. We now got our living room back. Less echo in the place, a place to come home to. A kitchen work top. A new espresso machine, furniture back in place and our spare bedroom back to how it should be. Yes, we finally finished the place. Still some smaller. It’s to arrive but the majority is done. Thank god!

The laptop replacement arrived and seems to be working fine. The boiler works. The aerial got repaired. I think it is all done now…fingers crossed.

I will post some impressions later in the week, just to give you the heads up on what changed. For now I am getting over the last symptoms of a heavy cough I had this week. I went to work on Thursday and coughed from train to conference to office until I decided to best go home. No sleep etc. but hey, you only get that when you have kids 🙂

I am better now.
Things will be ok.

Have a great week,
Volker

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Sunday Column (268)

Short weeks pass quicker they say. After a stunning and great wedding last weekend, we went back to work on Tuesday. I went for a run on Monday, then again on Wednesday, trying to get back into shape. I enjoy my exercise and don’t mind the early mornings as much.

I also got introduced to proper Indian music – rhythmic style 😉 I played it all over this week, kind of motivating!

The house is coming along nicely. The builders have left, the kitchen surface is due to drive next week and the fireplace and decoration has been done. We are getting somewhere. Unfortunately we have to do some more essential work, including repointing and replacing the cladding. It is never ending but hopefully we got most things done before the winter comes 😉

My pride, besides the whole place really, is my Sonos sound bar. An ease to put music on, stream radio or enjoy the sound of the TV. Also, of course, my fish tank with the fishes recovering. Only one fish loss so far, so fingers crossed. We get there at the end. Plus, I cannot wait to get the new couch, sit in front of the fire and listen to music. Three things that will just go well together.

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We spend the weekend cleaning our place, testing the burner, buying coal and wood logs, cutting the grass (after getting our lawnmower back) and all that without the boiler working. That one gave up on us Friday night. Wow – what else can happen next?

Reflecting on the last few weeks we have been busy and stressed. It is difficult, particularly for the wife, to entertain a 3 and an almost 5 year old whilst having builders in. No matter how patient you or the builders are. That and not having a functional kitchen makes it difficult. The amount of take aways was disgusting to be honest, no use of the gym in the garage and no 7 minute circuit work out.

This is hopefully due to change; saying that I did come down with a cold and the cough the boys had for the past few weeks. Deos it ever stop??

It is nice to ease back into a routine, if slowly, into a familiarity with new surroundings. For us and the kids. Even they were stressed by the changes – their house was taking apart! With it all being back together again I am looking forward to next week. A normal sized one, yet with a three day bank holiday weekend to look forward to and spend lots of time with the family, the kids in particular and enjoying the new place.

Stress over. Moving on.

Have a good week,
Volker

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Inspirational Thought: Your Body!

Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live. ~ Jim Rohn

I love this quote. More inspirational than spiritual, after all you are leaving your body when you die.

Your body: it is unique and the only body you have. Take good care of it.
If all else around you dies, or is dying, your body is still there.

It is like a house for your spirit. If you treat it well, the spirit will live in it for a long time.

Take good care,
Volker

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Sunday Column (208)

What an eventful week. We still trying to get our little “terrors” to give us enough sleep. We utterly failed Sunday night but Monday night was one of the best sleeps in ages. Could be due to me having a successful fast day again. I am still trying to not eat on Mondays but the past two weeks I was busy with things. Never mind.

Sleep. Eating. Exercise. I managed a few running sessions by taping my shins so that the pain is relieved. It worked quite well. Eating wise I am still, for many years, trying to find the right mix and balance. The summer is easier as fresh salad is nicer and more widely available. With varying home times and evening events, I don’t seem to get a routine. Lunches are usually healthy yet media lunches are still on every now and then. Guess that and my love for wine doesn’t help. Overall I drink a lot less than I used to but due to my size I easily overindulge without noticing. Change4life, the government awareness scheme, points out nicely that it is not about being drunk but the sheer volume of booze you put through your systems or attack your organs with. At least my fruit salad regime in the morning seems to work well 🙂

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The house. You know when buying a house that you have to do some work. You don’t expect the heating to stop 5 months after having it “redone”, at the same time to replace the fridge and hoover? Luckily we don’t need a new boiler but a leaking pipe and low pressure in the system called for another plumber’s job. Despite the kitchen tap and some other small things that need done, we cannot complain. Just always happens at the same time. Never mind. I guess that is what savings are for but they only last a while 🙁

I made another trip to Africa…at least on TV. This time for a documentary on the legendary race from Paris to Dakar. As a young boy I dreamt of crossing the Sahara or Russia with a motor bike. It never came to fruition and now my wife opposes me getting a motor bike. Might get a mountain bike though. Anyway, the competitors said that once you go to Africa it gets under your skin. You cannot forget it or ignore it. I wonder if that is about the birth place mankind will always feel connected to? I don’t know, but the rally sparked my intend again to get the Land Rover, mountain bike and get out there to adventure the world. Soon followed by my two boys. Camping, hiking, biking, outdoors. I want to feel alive because I am.

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Regarding feeling alive, I watched a BBC Four documentary about a person that survived the Holocaust and his children researched his last step after his death. I will probably write more about that, but if you haven’t seen it, check it out. Six Million and One on BBC iPlayer. It had me in tears several times, maybe not so much because of the Holocaust but because of the way they interacted with it and the love they shared amongst the siblings. Definitely one to watch.

I am planning to write another extensive Germany post. I haven’t written one for a while. I think I found closure in my love-hate relationship with Germany at my last trip. This is very nice. I also got a reply from a friend who I sent a card a while back to find closure. It is nice to see that things are working.

Work was quite busy this week. I enjoy it being like that, and find that working from home is more productive as you get less interruption. So maybe Ms. Mayer Yahoo! needs to rethink her statements. My new commitment for a club looks promising also. I will join another one in 2 weeks to make a final decision, but I am convinced I found what I was looking for. It is an extra time commitment but also a very rewarding work. Final decision in 2 weeks, so watch this space.

My wife had her birthday this week, so we managed a few take aways and she went out with the girls. I spend Saturday morning running errands with Colin and going swimming. Proper me-Colin time. I enjoyed it a lot. At the weekend we had some good friends over for the famous Ballueder cheese fondue. What a great time.

Time overall seems to fly. February went with the blink of an eye and before we know it, it will be Easter. Then my birthday, half term, summer. Time. One of the few things we never get back, one of the few things we really need to use. Carpe Diem.

I seem to write about that each week how I keep getting this urge to get things done. At work. At home. At extra curricular activities. When I am old and grey I want to look back to a life and say “I made something out of it”, I managed to help people achieve things and along the way I had a good life. And two boys that by then will have their own kids.

Wouldn’t that be the ultimate fulfillment?

Have a great week,
Volker

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Sunday Column (187)

This week started alright I thought. Slightly hung over from Saturday I didn’t feel well on Sunday. But it was Sunday to Monday night that I found out that it wasn’t the booze but some evil virus that made me feel sh@t. A stomach bug.

Two days off sick. Or, as it happens these days, home office from your bedroom in between sleeps and toilet visits. My boss had the cheek to say “you look good being sick”. I didn’t feel it 🙁

20120929-201129.jpg On Wednesday I went back to work. Not only did I feel better but I also didn’t have a choice. We got a new water tank and thermostatic valves fitted. No water, no toilet flushing 😉 But as I said I was much better anyway. By time of writing my oldest seem to recover and we wait for the wife to be sick. The youngest had some symptoms already, maybe that was it already? Maybe it wasn’t. A bit of a gamble.

Unfortunately, I had to cancel my trip to Madrid. I haven’t seen my staff there for a while and had some good meetings lined up. Also I wanted to meet our new staff. Never mind, you cannot force things. And looking at times of visits to the bathroom, I am glad I wasn’t sitting in an airplane taking off at the time. I shall meet them all again soon.

Enough about the bug. I am glad we got another thing off our todo list for the house. We are getting the standard we want slowly but surely. We still need to get an outside vent fitted (soon), the garden sorted (October) and the downstairs loo (soon-ish) replaced. And decorating which hopefully will be done with grandpa early November. We are getting there. I feel very homely and comfortable. Definitely the right move.

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At the weekend we sat down with neighbours which are in our age group who have two little girls. Not only are we on the same wave length, we also have similar life styles and problems: what to decorate, what next to do in the house, when to see the kids when working late all week…. It is a great life we have but on the other hand we are working very hard to have it.

Now I have a problem with our local dry cleaner. They replaced one shirt already. Now they couldn’t remove another stain from a shirt and I am convinced they put new stains in my shirts. I have to make the decision now to find a new dry cleaner or give them another chance. I think it will be the former.

Colin started to really like school too. I am glad he does. Also, he now plays by himself with his train set in his room. This is such a great development. Scary to see them growing up so quickly. Rohan is a chirpy one, repeating lots of words and wanting lots of cuddles. Nice 🙂

I am very balanced at the moment. I think the change of weather, real autumn storms and rain, plus the sickness, make you a bit reflective. Balanced, not stressed. Harmonised, not hectic. Hope that makes sense. Whenever you are sick, at least for me that’s true, you start going inside yourself. I ask myself why am I sick? Why now? Why me? What does my body or spirit need? And I find out more about myself. I grow stronger out of it. I calm down for a bit, I strengthen up, I come back stronger!

Let’s all have a great week. No travel for me, but probably travel each week from the following week.

Have a good one.
Volker

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New door mat

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Room with a view

Not the greatest picture but this is the view from the rear windows. It’s green, peaceful and quiet.

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Sunday Column (159)

This week passed very very quickly. Not only were the kiddies ill last weekend, I also had some stomach issues from Tuesday which made my travel to Milan rather unpleasant. But I spare you any details 😉

However, the most amazing and thoughtful moment came when flying over the Swiss Alps. Once flying into Milan, once when flying back out of Milan in the sunset. I always seem to get a bit sentimental. You look down on those huge mountains and realise how small you are as a person. How unimportant you are in the overall “earth eco system”. The view is a treat. It is terrific to see the sunset over the alps, the mountains covered in snow. Potentially areas where no one has ever set a foot before.

And whilst I sit on the plane, thinking how small I am in relation to the mountains and the world, beating myself up for only being human, I think of my family. The huge responsibility I have for my kids. I am the “go to person” for them. The entertainer, the trainer, the coach, the person for comfort. They look up to me. In their little ecosystem I am number two (after my wife) to teach them how to live their life. And I feel big, overwhelmed from so much responsibility that the responsibility I carry at my job seems small.

Perspective is the right word I guess. The angle you look at things will change your perspective. Whether a glass is half full or half empty. Whether the weight you carry is too much or just right. Whether the job you are doing is great or just normal. Whether the house you are buying is the right one or a bottomless pit.

I am not telling you anything new. I am just reflecting on the little things in life I often don’t realise until I think about them. When flying I try to work little and use the time to relax, brainstorm, sleep and make notes about my life. It is “me time”. Time solely to myself, no internet, no disturbance. That is true for flights without turbulence of course 😉

When I looked through my notebook on this particular flight I found that the “dream house” I drew on a flight back in March 2011 is very similar to the place we hopefully end up buying. It is just missing the basement. Is that the law of attraction (LOA)? I think so.

That is why I constantly dream the future. I dream hoping that the future I dream of will manifest. It is going to happen. I think that I am at a pivotal point of my life – privately as well as career wise.

Let’s get ready to fly!

Have a fantastic week. I hope you enjoyed mother’s day and the weekend with your family as much as I do/have done.

Best wishes,
Volker

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