Tag: birthday

Living in a new world – Days at home (38)

The days seem to get longer. Given the occasion, I took today off. Much needed tbh, the last few days have been intense. Having said that, I did attend a webinar this morning which I found very useful. And I made pizza dough too. Tonight is pizza night, mummy is at work 🙂

My day started with a half marathon on the treadmill, and I finish watching John Grisham’s ‘The Firm’ on Prime. Not prime TV really, but entertaining, which is what I enjoy at the moment. I haven’t quite decided what to watch next, but Bosch has a new season out 😉

I like challenging me to a few exercise goals here and there; it was followed by a lot of quality time with the family. And I watched the rain.

On the note of watching, this video was shared on Facebook the other day. I love it, it captures the spirit of these difficult times for me. Beautiful:

As you might have noticed, I have some time today. A new device too, so I must get used to it and type a bit more on the blog today. Apologies.

My online coaching course is 99% there. If you would like a preview, try www.be-better.thinkific.comwww.be-better.thinkific.com. I hope to go live early next week.

That’s about it to be honest. It’s nice to take some time off. Whilst a lot of people have been less busy, I haven’t sat still since the lock-down. Then again, that’s not what I do.

Maybe I have more news about the family tomorrow. 1st of May too! Time to get out of here!

Stay safe, and Happy Birthday Colonel Tom!

Sunday Column (488)

Wowsers. A sunny first bank holiday weekend in May. When did that happen the last time? The BBQ is out, the kids are playing outside, we get the garden in order, be on our bikes, playing football….life is good it seems.

May. Who would have guessed a year ago that this is the date I started another contract work, rather than a full time position. It’s been a h* of a ride but for now I am looking to settle in a couple of contracts and see where the journey goes. My preferred choice is still to do a full time, permanent role, and maybe a contract might lead to that, but as anything in life, you just have to go for it. Things always work out in the end, and contracting isn’t as bad as I thought it might be. I am learning a whole lot about setting up a Ltd., tax, VAT and general business contracts. I am also enjoying more flexibility and freedom, but I am also always on the hunt for something new. Life is funny, and whenever I speak to companies recently, most wait with recruitment until they have had a couple of weeks business after GDPR, the new data regulation coming into play at the end of May, in order to assess the full impact. So contracting is a good thing at the moment, yet of course I’d love to settle into a permanent job again. There aren’t many at the moment though.

In days of Facebook and Instagram people rely too much on social media to remind them about people’s birthdays. Personally, I always made an effort to wish people I care about a happy birthday and put it into my personal calendar. I deleted my birthday notifications from all social channels, so unless you are like me, you will forget. It also saves me getting loads of messages from people I hardly know. It is nice to hear from friends, even if it is a short message or a five minute call, to know they are thinking of you. Separating the true friends from the ones that are not. I was very chuffed to get the calls I did and also, from my wife, a lovely Buddha head that I was hoping to put in the garden for a while. I honestly didn’t think she would agree, but she did. It looks lovely I’d say.

So another year older, more work, more things happening. Where will we be a year from now? Brexit is looming and I am a bit scared of what is there to come. Feeling a bit under the weather this week, particularly on Monday with the horrendous rain, the question of the weather and it affecting the mood has to be asked. Where do we want to be? The change towards the weekend was lovely of course. A wedding reception on Friday night standing outside until late at night.

But is it the culture that’s more important than the weather, job security vs. uprooting the kids. We are at a stage in life where maybe we have all the flexibility and all the necessity to change things all over again. Re-shuffle your cards, deal them new and see what you get.

There are a lot of thoughts around a variety of topics as you can see. But I feel good, and for the first time in months I had a few good night sleeps. Things happen for a reason.

Have a lovely rest weekend,

Sunday Column (389)

Thank you all for numerous feedback on my blog over the past couple of weeks. Some think my blog is too business oriented, others find comfort in what I am writing about personal development. I hope that overall I cover enough common ground to interest most of my readers. It is comforting to hear that one likes the thoughts I put out there, the guidance to cope with what is happening in life. And there is a lot happening. See below.

If you like what you read, please share this post and my blog, I would greatly appreciate it. Also, forthcoming, there might be more topics covered here around personal development and productivity. So watch this space.
I suffered a bit this week. Having started my training for the 24 hour relay race in a few weeks time, meant more runs. Even more runs next week. Delayed and short form trains. New developments at work. And yet, I am trying to stay calm, to cope and make sure my mind is like water. That I have enough thinking resources left to keep my mind above water, to not be irrational, and to cope with the pain and strain on my body. I am toughening up, one would say. Also, the picture displayed, is my new favourite profile picture, taken at a conference in Berlin two weeks ago. 


Then the unexpected happen. I got a letter from my doctors with an appointment to have a small surgery I need to get done, nothing to worry about, but they scheduled it 3 days before the 24 hour run. Decision time. 

I am gutted! The fear of having to postpone surgery for another month or even two given the holiday season, I had to cancel the run. My wall. You remember, the one challenge I was looking forward to. The thing that kept me afloat with the hard training. I am not devastated but disappointed. I feel like letting the team down and also to not being able to do this challenge. Would I have succeeded? Will I do it again next year? What do I train for? Do I scale back training?

I must find a new wall.

Moving on. The highlight of the week was today. Seven. The amount of years since my first born came to us. I feel blessed every day for what a gift he is to us. The challenges he brings, the joy he brings and the unconditional love between us. Character wise we are very similar. We clash sometimes and I can see this developing in hopefully a very close understanding of each other. We can guide him and help him, the decisions are his though. Ultimately anyway. But that is for when they are older. Discussing that with another dad earlier in the week, the boundaries cannot be loosened until they are at least 10 or so. For now they are better off in a controlled environment. 

It is weird to think that my son is seven years on this planet. We were in a different place, physically as well as emotionally, back then. A different part of our life. And now he is part of the life we are living. Looking back, we were so young, weren’t we?

And often, when there is so much joy and fun, there are opposite forces at work too.

There were really sad news. I met an long term industry friend a few weeks ago. We caught up properly, on the industry, his job, family and all. He was saying he will be on holidays with his two daughters I believe. Monday I heard the sad and terrible news that he passed away whilst being on holidays.
It is the second industry friend I lost within the last four years. Surely not the last. We weren’t close but could be. A great guy. A family guy, knew what he was doing at work, yet dedicated to life. Genuine. RIP. Never forgotten.

On Thursday this was followed by more sad news. My friend from Rotary, my mentor and the club’s mentor really, passed away too. He was ill and last I heard he was on the mend. Now, he took a turn for the worse. Bad news seems to trickle in from all ends. RIP Herbert, a good friend and mentor.

Again, it makes you think. It could be over tomorrow. Things might change in an instant. What if. Nobody knows. Yet we cannot think it happens to oneself, yet we cannot think it won’t. Carpe Diem.

To end the post on a positive note: Friends of ours just won a legal better for better treatment for their child. I know it sounds bad that you have to go through such an ordeal. Yet they won. I am very happy for them and their child to have such a positive outcome. Emotions, positive, negative, they are all around us. I have been sitting down a few times lately, drying the odd tear, and thinking how lucky we are. How happy we are. We appreciate what we have, which is so important.

I often fear what would be if….and then remind myself that we must focus on the good things in life. The things that make us great, that keep us going and bring positivity in our life. That’s the key. I don’t want to say to ignore bad news but don’t get beaten up by it. Don’t get sucked into negativity.
Only by beating your fear, by overcoming the fear you might have, you win. There is a bit of risk but no real insecurity. As you will make it work. You will work it out. You will not allow yourself fail. Whatever life throws at you, you will be ready to fight back.

Enjoy life, have a long one,


Sunday Column (372)

Happy Valentines Day. I hope you spoilt your loved one today with some nice lunch, dinner or a glass of bubbly. Or all of it. Being in love is the greatest thing in the world, whether this is fresh or fresh every day for many years. I haven’t stopped loving my wife for many years and Valentines Day, as commercially driven as it is, just helps me remembering how important she is to me. The challenge is that once Valentines has passed, there is in quick succession of my wife’s birthday and then Mother’s day – so she only ever gets flowers in Q1. Just kidding, but I think that those days should be more spread out. I make sure they are of course 😉

Happy Birthday Rohan! My little man turned 5 this week. Scalextric, a group of friends after school and lots of ice-cream, sweets and cake made his day. Boy, was he excited when he came down the stairs. When he went to school. When he came out of school. No surprise he fell into bed early, totally exhausted. He had a fantastic day. So did I. I was exhausted by the end too. However, there is nothing like seeing your kids enjoying a party, playing with their friends and having lots of fun. It is great for them to let go, just being kids!

Happy Birthday Opa!

Happy Fundraising! My wife managed to raise close to 500 GBP for her half marathon so far which she is doing at the end of the month. I am very proud of her. Not only the training, but constantly pushing herself out of her comfort zone to raise money, to push boundaries and make it happen. She was so nervous about it yet done such a fantastic job. I cannot wait her crossing the finish line and then moving on to finish a marathon later this year. Jen, you have done so well!

Happy Feet! Yes, this might sound funny, but I had my first ever reflexology massage last week. I wanted to do that for a long time, and kept putting it off for a few years. Whilst I am not sure if it was me being very tired or the massage, or a combination of both, but I fell asleep during the massage. Yet, the only thing I can say is that it has been an amazing experience. If I say it was like taking drugs, never did I take any drugs really, but that’s what it must be like. An experience I cannot wait to repeat. The body and its parts are replicated on your feet, and by massaging your feet, your lymph system in your body gets drained and pressure releases. It is amazing!

Then, in last weekend’s FT, I read a quote from Simon Blackburn, a philosopher. He was asked ‘what drives him on’ and he answered “Myself. It’s internal, it’s not for money, not for fame; it’s me, it’s what I do”. That quote sums up a lot of my thinking and strongly resonates with me.


I have a lot of drive and I’d be lying if I said that I wouldn’t work for money. As I get older however, it is more about recognition and satisfaction. That of course is because I get a higher salary which automatically eradicates the drive to earn more and more money. Having said that, I am not greedy, but constantly striving and of course want and ‘need’ to earn more cash 🙂 You should make hay while the sun shines, shouldn’t you? I am truly engaged in my job and industry, and I am really enjoying what I am doing. I do that for me. What drives me on is me, the achievement for me and my career. And if that gets rewarded, that is nice and fine, but the inner drive to be successful, to make things happen, that is me! That is the Ballueder drive and conviction. That’s who I am. If I don’t work I work on private projects. On the next productivity book, on some thoughts, some articles, or for my start-up. And I love it, but the drive is internal more than anything else.

I write this as I pull into Victoria Station in London. I am wondering, having lived here for over 10 years, always south of the river, how often I must have passed the bridge, Battersea power station and seen the buildings going up around it. It must have been close to a thousand or two thousand times. And I will do that again, or triple that. I am only in the first third of my career, the first 10 years of where I am going.

But let’s finish the journey for the day. We test drove more cars this weekend, and I think we are coming closer to a decision. I am off for a few days next week, so lots of family time during half term.

Life is good. No complains.

Love and Kindness,

Sunday Column (309)

Early February and if there is no other event than family birthdays that determine February, I don’t know. My dad and my auntie have their birthday, my cousin one removed (?) and of course my wife. It is Valentine’s Day too.

But the biggest birthday, yet smallest in numbers yet, is my youngest son’s birthday, at the same day as my dad.

It is a date and birth-day I won’t forget in my lifetime. It was at the peak of my social media career, just when I moved from (search) agency to media provider, that Rohan was born. Well documented on Twitter and Facebook, he didn’t make an appearance until late at night or early morning to be precise. Quickly he came, and I thought I had all the guts to hold him, would be a confident dad having my second son.

Instead, I was numb, curious yet scared to hold him. Him who one day shall succeed me, be ‘king of the castle’ and carry on the family traditions and hopefully will have kids himself. How could I be scared? Have I not done it all before?

Yet, and most people who have more than one child might agree, the second one is always easier and within a few hours my non confidence was overcome by routine. Cuddles, nappies and calming him to sleep. The ones with more than two will most probably be laughing yet for me, two were enough (work). I am very proud of both of them. Started teaching the older one chess, and both how to behave.

Looking back this week, celebrating his birthday party this weekend with 20 kids, I am amazed how a four year old can be such a charmer, friend, clown and serious person at the same time. Cuddly yet stirn, curious yet determined, angry and pleasant.

Where has the time gone? Where will you be in a few years time? Will you be the monster truck driver, the police man, the fire fighter or just the charming little man I see today? You probably grow to be taller than your dad, smarter and more driven to achieve your goals. Coached by me, nurtured by your mother, I think you might turn into a superhero after all 😉 As long as you be yourself. I will ever only be guidance but you need to live your life and make your own decisions.

Whatever that means for you. Running away with 14, world travel with 16 or elite university with 17 – I don’t mind. As long as you are happy, content and value the right things, the ones we teach you and the ones you come up yourself. Things you value in your life. A healthy mix of traditional and new values, and we hope you retain your charm and openness. Your trust and caution.

Rohan, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to your 4th “anniversary”. I cannot tell you how much I love you and how much it means to me to get those incredible hugs from you. Making up for the missed very first one. Every single day. Every single birthday. As long as I can guide you.


Sunday Column (206)

I have been in Germany with the family this week. A train to the airport, a “funny” train between terminals, a slightly delayed plane (as a family we haven’t had a travel where the plane was on time yet), an ICE train and a small train before Opa picked is up. 9 hours of travel. The boys loved it, were behaved and the ICE train even had a compartment for families. A luxury journey.


It was my dad’s 70th birthday, an occasion to meet the family, the kids to play and bond with their cousins, and all of them to bond with Oma and Opa. We had a good time. We drank lots of wine as we stayed up late chatting away and catching up. Normal I suppose. We enjoyed it. There is a lot of things happening in the family. My brother is building a house, dad got his first ever smart phone. Lots of great food, home cooked meals, fresh rolls (Brötchen) and lots of play with old childhood toys.

The other occasion of course was Rohan’s 2nd birthday, hence the celebration as birthday twins was for 70+2 birthday 🙂 So lots of attention was given to our wee one as well.

Up to a few years ago I wrote a lot about Germany and my love hate relationship. I think that has now passed. I moved on. I actually enjoy coming back as I don’t compare Germany any longer to what I have. Yes they have nicer trains, warmer and better insulated houses, higher quality in a few day to day items, but it doesn’t bother me anymore. I am very happy and content with the life I have, and I moved away from trying to be 100% perfect. I like to think so anyway. I feel like I moved on. I found my own purpose.

Despite that I am not sure whether to speak German or English, to feel at home or not. But as opposed to former visits I just embraced things I enjoy. Like the above mentioned rolls and home cooked food that took me back in time. I can let go. I can and actually do enjoy my time in Germany now. The journey back in time becomes a nice journey. I believe that over the last few years I have settled, embraced what I have and was able to let go and focus on the positive things in life. My outlook is positive in all aspects of life and that is what I focus on. Here and Now. Positive!


Also I was able to switch off from work. I relaxed, felt like I was living at home again where everything is taken care of. Hotel Mama with unlimited wine, food and fun. No worries. At the birthday party I met with friends of my parents who have been some kind of mentors for me over the years. Contacts that helped me grow up and understand the world. People who have seen me through all my stages of life but the last 15-20 years. This is difficult to comprehend I found. Those people used to baby-sit me, nurse me, comfort me, teach me or were just there for me. Now they are 70+ enjoying retirement and grandchildren. They of course loved to see our kids and how I got on in life. Whilst my parents keep them updated, it is nice to personally touch base with them. Again, a much more pleasant journey than anticipated. I actually look forward to going back to Germany again.

My dad used to be a teacher. In 1995 he got the chance to build a new school as a principal. As one of the guests pointed out my dad’s career and reputation as a teacher is amazing. He pushed himself to help others, to progress and have more influence. I suppose that is where I got my drive from and my urge to help others, to help develop others. My drive to succeed, take on new projects, seeing them through and coaching younger people to progress in their life. I guess I learned a lot from you, dad, and never realised it before. Maybe you taught me much more than I have ever realised before. I just hope I will be able to be such a good teacher for my two boys also.


On the fun side: I must look like my dad too. Asking Colin who the person on the picture above was, he said “daddy” not hesitating once. Since then he started noticing slight differences and it is “Opa”, however there is a slight resemblance, wouldn’t you think?

It was nice being back home. My wife and I managed a night out, ate some nice Gyros and we showed C the fresh fruit market. The weather was beautiful with snow and cold winds but it limited us in doing too much. So we just spent the right amount of time in Detmold, hoping to go back for longer maybe next year in the summer. The journey back seemed quick with two brave boys pulling through to the end. They fell into bed being absolutely exhausted. C was still recovering from all the input he received by the weekend. We just chilled out.

I went back to work on Thursday. Lots to catch up. Lots to do. Back to the grindstone. I am back in my routine. Kind of anyway. A few pints with the Hassocks crew on Saturday night and “our home cooked” food Friday and Saturday. It is good to be home. It is good to be settled. We are not creating the memories for our boys for them to experience what I did this week. The circle of life I suppose.

A good week comes to a close. Thank you Oma and Opa.


Sunday Column (165)

What a fantastic week. I think so anyway. I went to Madrid on Monday to support our local office, interview for new people and had a very good and long meeting with one of our clients. I like to be useful and travel to support folk. It makes you tired and I didn’t see the kids, but overall I actually enjoy it.

So I was back Wednesday night to find my MIL (mother in law) staying with us. In order for me to keep up my running training I slept on the couch to run at 6 am on Thursday. Friday I worked at home sitting in a conference call until late. I always seem to be busier working from home than being in the office; no idea why to be honest.

What else happened? As my MIL was baby sitting my wife and I went to our most favourite Thai restaurant in Beckenham. The result was we were home within an hour. Conveyor belt service plus us feeling “too old” to mingle with the locals in the pub, meant we preferred to be home early. Saturday we used the whole day (!) to go shopping. I bought myself a “Buddha hand” as an early birthday present. We went all over the shop (literally) whilst my MIL was suffering with the kids. A knackering day for all of us!

Another thing happening to me was on the flight into Madrid. A bloke, between 60 and 65 I’d say, felt sick. He then went to the toilet and all, and they cleared his row, however the main thing was that I felt so sorry for him. Luckily I have never been sick on a plane. But when we flew into Madrid hitting air pockets and jet streams I really felt so sorry for this bloke. And I felt very helpless too. I hate to not being able to help people who need support.

Never mind. In total I feel so much better since I got new trainers, go running every morning (almost) and eat a bit better. There is still a lot of improvement to be made, particularly when travelling, but overall I think I am doing ok. I haven’t lost a huge amount of weight but I feel better, healthier and more energetic. Fingers crossed I keep it up of course 😉 But I will.

Contracts for the house should be exchanged this coming week. I am off Monday for a special family day 😉 and then have a fairly quiet week ahead. Most of the European offices have bank holidays, however I used the week to arrange a few meetings in the UK that were well overdue. Same for the week after until I go travelling again.

The joys….

Have a fantastic week.

Sunday Column (117)

Another week which felt like it was over on Thursday. Not sure why that was, but – you might have guessed – being another busy week, I also spend a lot of time thinking.

This week, not like most other weeks, I was home early most nights. I went in early a few times for client breakfasts and sorting out a new bank account, but other than that I managed to have a balanced life. That is of course if you ignore time on the HTC and time spend having a glass of wine working on presentations on the couch ;-(

On Thursday I met a good friend. I have only known him for just over a year but we somewhat “clicked”, meaning we really get along well. He just got a new job, a good job. So well done mate.

Then I opened a new bank account with Metro Bank. They are the no frill bank which has no fees but superb customer service. We shall see 🙂 However, I needed a simple additional current account which doesn’t charge any fees and which allows me to put some money out of sight. So for now, exactly what I was looking for.

Now you might have noticed that a few things on my blog changed. I spend some time with Facebook and Twitter integration and already saw an uplift in a) traffic and b) adsense earning 🙂

Most of the family had a cold this week. For some reason it was me that has been spared for now. Not that I felt great but I am still overcoming the cold from Easter, now the new cold I believe just came and left unnoticed 🙁

The weekend weather has been poorly. However, I met with an old friend who showed me around the Beckenham Cricket ground. The first time ever that I even looked at Cricket, lol. I still don’t get the rules 100% but got a lot closer. I think anyway.

We then had a lovely birthday party of one of Colin’s friends. We are entering the time again of 2nd birthday parties, e.g. I remember too well how many first birthday parties we attended last year. Guess that is going to be a theme between May and August now :-0

Sunday was another lovely day with the family. I am enjoying more and more to just “hang out” with the boys and getting up to things. Like riding the train, going for walks or just playing with the train set.

This Sunday we took them to the Christmas Tree Farm. Not like the name suggests a farm of trees but a little park with lamas, goats, sheep, pony, cows, horses….just nice for the kids to see some animals, and just over 30 minutes drive from home. Perfect for a quick Sunday outing.

Unfortunately Rohan and Colin both seem to be a bit poorly this weekend, so we weren’t able to do as much as we wanted. The joys…

Luckily there is a bank holiday tomorrow. So another long weekend. With my booked holidays I am looking at three 4 day weeks 🙂 Happy days for me.

So watch this space, I am trying to put more content and thoughts up.

Cheers, and enjoy your first week of June….

Best, Volker