Tag: life

Sunday Column (192)

Actually an extraordinary week that lies behind me.

In the last few weeks my upper back flared up again. Spasm, ongoing pain etc. so I went back to the chiropractor and deep tissue massage which helped loosen it, however the pain is still there and I am back on ibuprofen πŸ™

20121102-075822.jpg Still, I felt like running on Monday. In the night of Monday I pulled a muscle in my lower back lifting R out of his cot. Again. I haven’t had any problems for the past year but it came back. I feel like I am falling apart, pain, limited movement. That was then paired with a very unsatisfying week at work. I don’t get many of those but this week was just not right. Luckily it passed very quickly.

Weeks like these are very tiring. In particular if you don’t sleep either. The boys are ill, the MIL is around, you are out of your routine. Having said that, my MIL gave us lots of space and my wife a well deserved daily lie in. And, the diner we had last Sunday was fantastic. We got live folk music, good food and a few drinks. Just a shame it was a Sunday.

Every time I let myself down a bit thinking what is happening with my body, my ambitions, the downward spiral opens up widely. You see the hurricane in the US and you think you ain’t that bad off. You are alive and breathing. You get on with it. You know what I mean. You are a wonder in yourself. You might not remember how weak and small you were, naked, helpless in your mother’s arms. We came a long way. We are breathing. I can feel my heart beating. I am going to be ok.

The downward spiral then closes. The sun comes up and you give yourself a big kick up the bum. There were positive things this week too. Some really good chats with friends. I found out one got engaged, so another wedding to look forward to. Another just made a big decision re his future too.

And I think after my wife had 27 folk, 18 of which were kids, around for a hallowe’en party, we can consciously make the decision that two kids are enough. I get asked this question weekly. We would love a bigger family but we would have to start all over again. My wife had some trouble with the second pregnancy, so we don’t want to push our luck. Yes it would be nice to have another bundle of joy. But the sleepless nights, dirty nappies, costs etc. I don’t think we should or will for that matter. Life is just getting a bit better and easier again.

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To change the topic a bit. The poppy appeal kicked off big time this week. For my German friends these are the red poppies everyone is wearing on their jackets and we remove them on Remembrance day. We pay around a pound for a poppy, often more, we donate it for the heroes that gave their life in the wars. For us. For peace. For freedom. For Britain and the world. A nice gesture. We are giving things back to the ones that gave for us. For generations. Growing up in Germany people didn’t show much appreciation to their military. I appreciate countries that do. In America as far as I understand it a soldier in uniform who eats in a restaurant never pays his bill. Someone would pick it up for him.

Appreciating where you coming from and what you have. How often does a broken back let you down, the pain in your leg, the ever annoying struggle to sort the most basic things? The imperfection of others.

Stop a minute. I got breakfast bought this week. I bought a few drinks. I showed appreciation, I was shown appreciation. Life gives you back what you give. Full circle. Live!

And on Sunday the whole family went to fireworks and bonfire. I am alive. I am breathing. My family loves me. I am going to be ok.

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Have a fantastic week and watch after yourself.

Volker

Sunday Column (191)

What a fantastic week. At least I like to think so.

Sitting here, thinking what to write, I can only sum this week up as being very good for networking, meeting old and new friends, catching up with industry and non industry peers, and on Friday I managed to take Colin to school for the first time since we moved. Summary over.

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C was asking for me all week, as I was hardly home. Then come Saturday he would not go out with me. The car didn’t start, new battery needed, and I took the train to go shopping for yet another cheese fondue. But he wouldn’t come. Later we went to the airport to pick up my MIL but he didn’t like to come until my wife came along, and boy did we have fun at the airport: the train between the terminals, escalators, the lot.

In reality the week was a bit different to the summary. It was a lot of hard work, yes some jollies, a conference (IAB ENGAGE) and watching Game of Thrones with my wife at night. Still recovering from my cold, I wasn’t feeling too great until about Thursday. So I was glad that on Friday I managed to work from home in order to catch up with the family, some tasks and admin from work. What I really like about working from home is that you actually get a lot of reading and catching up done whilst still being more productive than in the office. Of course that’s only the case if Outlook doesn’t strike.

Yesterday my MIL arrived. Luckily I get along fine with her, and it allows my wife and I to go out tonight for a meal. Instead of anything overly fancy, she decided to visit a famous gastro pub in Ditchlings. Why not. I will publish this probably whilst I am out and about, so will update you on twitter or Facebook accordingly.

On Friday night we had our neighbours over. A retired regional football star and his wife. A fantastic enjoyable night over a few glasses of wine and beer as well as excellent cheese. I enjoy those evenings at home, particularly now that it gets colder at night.

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Whilst we don’t have a log fire yet, it seems to be very cosy nevertheless. With increasing energy prices this of course isn’t too great to have the heating on full, but what should you do?

I got cosy in life too, set in my ways, lots of booze, fun and sleep over the last few months. From Monday I want to go running again in order to get fit and healthy. If you believe it or not, my back is still a bit sore. I treated myself to a deep tissue massage and chiropractor visit this weekend. Good call. My body seems to respond to it better than to shiatsu, so I am back in two weeks.

Whilst typing this sitting at the kitchen table with a glass of wine, my 2 year old climbs on the chair opposite me and laughs. Moments like these are priceless. I love my little family. Tiring but so much fun! Part of me cannot wait for them being older while the another part wants to stop time in their tracks.

Anyway, no need to get sentimental. Life is as it is. You need to accept it, and make the most of it. Live it to the max and also live it to the best of your knowledge. What I mean is healthy and consciously.

I love my life, I love living. I love pushing myself, I like making dents.

I am regaining energy as we speak, roll on 5 am on Monday!

Have a great week,
and don’t get too cosy!

Volker

Buddhist Thought: Liberation!

The one who is very attached to the cave of the body, that one finds detachment very difficult. Those who constantly crave for pleasure are hard to liberate and certainly cannot be liberated by others, only by themselves. Sometimes it is only death that brings a realization of endings, and then the sensual person, deeply immersed in the body, will shout: “What will happen to me after death?” The way toward liberation is to train yourself to live in the present without any wanting to become anything. Give up becoming this or that, live without cravings, and experience this present moment with full attention. Then you will not cringe at death nor seek for repeated birth. – Sutta Nipata

I wrote about dying last week already. No, I don’t hope I am actually going to die. Actually, looking at the quote, I recently started looking after my body in a much better way.

Exercise, food, drink. This is our highest good we possess: life. If you seek pleasure, crave drugs or have any other needs that need satisfying, then you cannot be liberated from your body.

You must live in the present. You must be certain of yourself. Stop trying to become someone else. Don’t want to become anything. Just live the moment to your full attention.

As simple as….

Best, Volker

Buddhist Thoughts – beyond birth and death

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

– Sutta Nipata

Now I might be wrong but this quote is saying to me: if you are truly knowledgeable of anything that is going on in this world, then you must be enlightened. You have gone beyond life and death.

If you are beyond what is happening on Earth, then you might be in your own world. In heaven that is, or in an enlightened state. It might never happen in this life, but we need to practise hoping it will.

I asked someone last week “whether he has had a certain job” – he replied “not in this life, but maybe in a former one”. You ever thought about that? What would you have been? What did you take into your current life?

Best wishes,
Volker

Sunday Column (161)

I think I have one resolution from this week: I give up sleep. I had a good night on Monday night. Tuesday I left early to the airport, the hotel in Milan was awful, and Thursday night as well as Friday night the kids woke us up, stayed in our bed and you just don’t get a good night’s sleep. Luckily my parents were here at the weekend, so I squeezed in a quick snooze to catch up πŸ˜‰ But honestly, I thought things would get better. And on top of it, if you had as much as two glasses of wine, you feel even worse. Not hangover, but just knackered.

What a hectic busy week on top of that! Honestly, I was in Milan and realised that by the time I was back, sleep excluded, I spend 30 solid hours working. Given the rest of the week was pretty normal, I probably came close to about 60 hours this week. I am getting very busy again. But I enjoy that, and I am very productive. It is not about the quantity of hours you spend at work but the output. You remember my presentation about productivity? Or here, a summary of GTD and Productivity. And of course the summary of another great book I read: Bob Seelert on Productivity and starting with the answers.

By the way books. I finished The Personal MBA book. A great book that refreshed some of my MBA Class learnings back in 2004. I don’t believe it has been 8 years that I a) met my wife, b) got my MBA, and c) started working. And I lived in Beckenham for the past 8 years too.

Nicely to the next topic. We are all ready to move, and everyone seems to be happy to exchange contracts and complete. We had a date for late April which might either be pushed back to June (!) or it comes forward to in two weeks time. Wow….it is stressful this whole moving thing. As long as I finally settle this year I am not too bothered when it is. The sooner the better though. Keep your fingers crossed, we might know on Monday…we might not. The constant “not knowing is not great”.

Another book I started reading is “Inside Apple“: after Steve Jobs biography another book about this “fruit company” that I cannot put down. Actually I finished it this weekend. Whilst I wouldn’t want to work for Apple, I can see the appeal a bigger corporation has. If you have seen my CV (link to Linkedin on the right), I am more of a start-up guy. I enjoy building things up, getting things done and manage to do that on a shoe string. However, the more I think about it, and now being part of a bigger company, I see the appeal of a more corporate structure and a more process and outcome oriented corporation. Not that a start up wouldn’t be outcome oriented, but I find it easier changes direction and can re-invent itself new all the time. Not that everyone does though.

Let me finish with my normal moan about customer services. Vodafone again. Every time I take out a contract they decide I need a special service. Last time I had a TV package for Β£5/month, this time it was a sat nav package for the same price. Excuse me, I cancelled my sat nav package in December 2010!!! With 391 million customers world wide, even if only every 10th customer pays Β£5 a month and doesn’t notice, you had approximately 200 million revenue extra per month. Now, I can understand their reasoning but that is absolutely WRONG. The only reason I stay with Vodafone is their superior reception – that is everywhere but our office in the centre of London though πŸ˜‰

Ok, enough of a moan. I quit my Ocado account completely now, so that is done. I had a great weekend with the family, my parents and kids. So all great. Life is great to me, and I am grateful for that. What ever happens will happen. What ever path I chose it will lead me to where my life is destined. I am confident. I am eager.

Have a great week, Easter is coming soon!

Best wishes
Volker

Sunday Column (160)

I started writing this post on Saturday night. I was exhausted because we spend all day running around. In the morning we “ran around” into central London (in the car) to get Colin a new bed. The afternoon we went to our first BBQ party this year, running after the boys. What a fantastic weather we had, a fantastic time and boy, are we exhausted!

There is nothing really like having a pint of lager in the sun, spending some time with friends, and chilling out. England is different when the sun comes out. It is fantastic. We seem to make the most out of it as it is a rare occurrence πŸ˜‰

At the moment things are busy. I am quite stressed about the house and the upcoming move. However, we should get our completion date next week. Fingers crossed. We sorted some last issues out this week. Besides that Rohan decides to wake us up at 3.30 every night. Work is busy but everything is changing with us now being a “new” company. So challenges are there. I have the feeling that the next 3 months will be an up and down, new things at work, the move and then we will finally settle into a new routine as of the summer. We cannot wait. Whilst being busy things are good – nothing to complain about.

What strikes me most in life at the moment however is Colin. He is not only cute and gorgeous but cheeky and loveable. On top of that he learns new words every day. Mostly British expressions although I am trying to speak a lot of German to him. Unfortunately I only see him at the weekend, so my influence is limited. When I watched him on his scooter on Saturday, I realised how grown up he is already. He becomes a little boy, his own character and personality. It is the “normal wonder” of life of babies becoming boys becoming man. Being able to witness this with your own child is amazing. I am very grateful for that.

I suppose that is all for this week. Next week is going to be a very busy one before we are slowly easing into Easter.

Have a great one,
Volker

Sunday Column (151)

Now this week was busy but good busy if that makes sense. Monday started with some really good news. It is good to get confirmation of something really nice. So life is good to us. Thanks.

I had a lot of discussions this week about challenges. As I wrote in several of my Buddhist Thoughts: you come across challenges in life that you need to resolve. If you resolve them you can move on. Sometimes you don’t get new challenges or things overall look like a challenge. Then one needs to decide whether one likes to solve the challenge here and now or somewhere else later. I guess that is just the way it is. I had a few conversations like that this week. For me, I always try to resolve issues first in the here and now. You might not get a chance to resolve them later, so go for it whilst you can. Soaring new heights where you are I suppose.

We humans are the only mammal that drinks milk after we grow out of a child’s age; and we drink milk of other mammals too. I am saying that because we are the only ones that think about the past and the future, and can make relation to each other. And I am saying that based on a discussion with one of my work colleagues this week. We are the only ones that can control our minds. We humans are quite fantastic really. I started listening to “Buddha’s Brain“, a book/audiobook looking at the science of Buddhism and the way we can shape our own thoughts for greater happiness, love, compassion, and wisdom.

Quite fascinating really if you think about it. So challenges as well as us humans controlling our mind shape our future, our thinking and ultimately our actions. And, we are in control. The latter is almost scary. A lot of work on ourselves can result in a lot of power and success. Now we are talking about a perfect state where I would like to be: a balance between the spiritual development, the career development, satisfaction at work and at home, work /life balance and constant challenges to develop. We can do it; let’s just balance it right.

I guess I am drifting a bit. But sometimes it is good to let your mind flow. Some discussions this week showed me that my filters for life are a lot different to other people’s filters of the world. You can agree, disagree and discuss. But sometimes you realise that you are too different. So finding common ground becomes more of a challenge. That is when we start at the beginning of this blog post again. However, I spend two great nights and a good lunch in the company of great minds that think alike….

There is not much I could complain about in life at the moment. Maybe that Colin goes through the phase of “not liking his daddy“. Maybe that we still haven’t sold the house or found a new one. Things take time. It seems we have found a car though. The kids teach me patience each day/night. Almost every day this week I got home at night thinking that I learned something and that things are moving in the right direction. A blessed feeling. A good feeling.

I am happy. Now I need to make more people happy. I am trying. I am trying hard.

Buddha bless, have a great week ahead.
Volker

Sunday Column (124)

This week has been weird. It really has.

I had holidays booked from lunchtime Thursday, so I tried to finish what I could work wise just before. I ended up – without deleting – to miraculous make a document disappear and was typing information back into an excel sheet last minute before I had to leave. However, I finished things off and off I went on holidays….

Leaving work wasn’t difficult as I worked from home on Thursday, giving me some time to wind down. Then, after lunch, I wanted to go to the airport for my booked BA flight to Berlin. However, that didn’t happen.

Wednesday night both kids kept us up all night. Last week the wife was by herself and had a hard time coping, so when one boy was teething this week and the other having a bad cough, we decided that I better stay home.

I was gutted. Still am. I was supposed to stay with an old school friend in Berlin and attend a wedding on Friday of my Vietnamese friend from Aberdeen to his German Vietnamese (now) wife. All to happen in a Scottish / German / Vietnamese environment in Cecilienhof, a more than historic place. I can’t wait to hear how it was, and good luck to both of you.

Did I mind? Of course I did. But would have I mind more if my wife had called me on Friday saying she couldn’t cope? Or if both boys had felt worse? Oh yes!
And, if that had been a business trip, I had to either postpone it or we had to get help. This time I had a choice.

What sounds like me looking to justify our decisions, is probably exactly that. Can you justify any decision? A day before the wedding you tell the couple that they have to change the sitting order, that there is one less friend to attend? But that is life.

Life is greater than a single event. Greater than our jobs, our houses, our possessions. Life is just that: L-I-F-E. You never know what happens, and you have to make decisions, as hard or difficult they might seem. As much as they might influence others, you call the shots, as your priorities are health of your children, your children, your family, then you, then your friends. And, of course, everyone understand.

I saw it from a positive point of view, I gained an additional two days with the boys. We spend quality time in the garden building sand castles, playing with the trains and having a play about.

You know what I learned over the last 2 years, 1 month and 8 days? Life is not only about you, and you alone. Life is for the greater good, for your kids. Life is for the next generation. Not for you or for your parents.

We live in the now, we are here. We can only change this one moment, and we can only make decisions based on the facts we have and the time we have to make those decisions. And that is it. Nothing else.

But in any doubt, your offspring takes priority over anything.

I am still learning.
Have a great week,
Volker

Sunday Column (115)

Now this was, you might have guessed, another wild and quick week. Looking back on what has happened this week I can say that I grew from both a personal but also from a professional point of view. That means life is good, I am progressing πŸ™‚time.jpg

Colin, for the first time, used a potty this week. He is growing up so quickly. His vocabulary is growing by a word a day. My wife says that other kids his age come up with the same words, e.g. “nee-naa” for fire engine, as this is the sound they hear and associate it with. Fascinating. His favourite word is “outside” as he cannot wait to get outside the moment he wakes up in the morning. Guess we just live in the right country for that πŸ™ The sandpit finally arrived on Monday and I was keen on playing with him in it this weekend. Despite the unsteady weather we went for a fantastic walk, played in the sandpit for a while, and went to the swimming pool.

As of my post the other day about food and life (or life and intention and food), I am working hard on my personal development and improvement of my energy levels. I have the feeling that I make a lot of progress given the little time and sleep (regeneration) I have at the moment. Hence my progress seems to accelerate all the time with my regeneration and hours of sleep improving. Does that make sense?

St-Pauls-Cathedral.jpgOn that note, Rohan started to slowly but surely move himself using his arms. He just turned 3 months! A strong boy, less weight than Colin though at his age. So it looks like we are blessed with another energy bundle but quieter, lol. He is great. For a baby I really enjoy having chats with him, e.g. when Colin was that age I didn’t really know what to do. One grows up so much oneself by having children, hence I started the new column “precious moments“.

I guess those were the highlights of the week. Our solicitors threw a party in the Shakespeare theathre opposite St. Paul’s cathedral. Nice to say the least.

Our friends from Essex visited on Sunday and little Katie & Colin had a great laugh. It is great to watch your children engaging with other kids the same age. A lot of fun. At the aforementioned party I ran into two mums and we ended up discussing babies and kiddies all night. Life has definitely changed πŸ™‚ I am getting old, lol.

I hope you have a great week yourself and things are good for you whereever you are. For the future I’ll try to post more often, to share a lot more insights about personal development and progress from an energy point of view. And of course the life of a family man.

Keep looking. The answer is out there.

Cheers,
Volker

Precious Moments (1)

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I thought I start noting down some precious moments. Moments that stop you in your tracks: make you think.

Saturday morning. My 23 months old and I play in the garden. Whilst at 7:30 am it is still a bit cold, the first sun rays start warming us.

It is amazing how with every bit of something new for Colin, e.g. a fly, a noise, a snail etc., he is astonished. With everything new he discovers, I start discovering the world too. Again.

Isn’t the world fascinating? Isn’t it precious to see some simple flies mating in the cold air of dawn? Isn’t life precious to have given the chance to explore that, to value it?

Life is worth it to stop in your tracks and look at the little wonders of nature.

A precious moment having had the chance.