Tag: lockdown

Ballueder Thinks (7) – Summer innit?

It’s hot at time of writing. 27.5 degrees in the car, as I wait for my son to finish his karate lesson. The first ‘real one’, face to face, since March, and parents are no longer allowed to watch. Life has changed. Next time I take the bigger car with the air conditioning. We adopt to the new rules of course, as we all do.

Today, at time of writing, we were supposed to go to Ashford, then Folkestone tomorrow, drive to Germany and celebrate my parents 50th wedding anniversary. The government put Belgium on the list of countries to not stay in and if you come from there, you have to quarantine for 14 days. Surely driving through it would be an exception. But it isn’t. Several calls to the government hotlines got us the same answer and it was: if you touch Belgian soil, even in a car, not stopping, you have to quarantine. Loose your income for 2 weeks. Can’t train for the marathon. WTF. This got changed at the time we rebooked…but hey, you have to make decisions when you do.

So with a heavy heart we postponed our trip to Germany, fearing that France would end up on the list soon too. And it did when we were supposed to be out there, alongside the Netherlands. Why risk it? I haven’t seen my parents for 8 months, yet they can’t postpone their anniversary. The original plan was to go on a cruise, which ultimately got cancelled. And our flights got reimbursed. So that’s good at least.

Cut a long story short, we went to Scotland instead. Staying in the Greater Manchester area over night, driving on the M6 through a lockdown area. No quarantine necessary, despite my arguments on the phone with the government, this isn’t the same use case. There are no restrictions to do be on ‘Manchester soil’. Nevermind. I would argue otherwise, but who am I to criticise the government?

Actually I do. I think they properly f* it up. The UK as it was 19 years ago when I was attracted living here, is no more. The handling of the Corona crisis and the amount of dead people speak for itself. The recession and Q2 GDP contraction figures higher than any other country. I am hugely disappointed with the state of affairs and handling of the situation. Nothing screams ‘Brexit will be a mess’ more than looking at the clowns on the top. Never have I felt more passionate about politics in any country. And looking at A-Level results, both in Scotland and England, I can only say WTF again. Sorry, this wasn’t meant to be a political or blog post ranting, but I guess sometimes it just needs to be said. But what’s the alternative?

Maybe it was naive to think we could leave the country in a pandemic in order to travel. Or it is naive to think we are out of the worst, and that there won’t be a second wave. I don’t know. Looking back at the first half of the year, I have been lucky to have work, as a contractor, and actually uncovering opportunities, regardless of the situation. Things might not be as planned, but who had planned 2020 and actually got what they planned for? Hence, I am actually very grateful for what we have, the health we are in, and the prospects we have. It confirms my decision to go freelance. To be my own boss, and make it happen, without relying on others. This is a huge blessing to be honest, even if it is hard. But why would I want to rely on others to have a job at this stage? I am not saying I am not tempted to join a company full time, but that needs to be the right opportunity. Anyway, not pitching 😉

As anyone at the moment, I just like to have a good life and want this virus to go away. Yet we need to think what life would be like if the virus won’t go away anytime soon, or ever? How will our lives, jobs and situation change? Location won’t be an issue once of a sudden. Barbados, New York, Toronto, London, Singapore – as long as you can work in the time zone of the company you work for, you can live anywhere. It also means that education for your kids and living standards, e.g. activities, are key for location preferences moving forward.

There is something else I read in the Financial Times: a lot of people used the lockdown to clear out rooms, cupboards etc. However, a lot of people also cleared out emotional backlogs. I agree. As a matter of fact we cleared a lot of stuff from the loft and garage at the end of last year, and emotionally I have been on a journey to change and clear things out for about a year. I made huge progress, and recently went through some more hypnotherapy sessions. Contact me if you want to find out more, but I find it super useful to clear out any blockages, and explore what is holding me back. My confidence and self awareness took another step up, and I highly recommend anyone doing it. It’s like clearing out your garage, your mental one.

The main reason me bringing this up is as I have been speaking to more and more people experiencing anxiety. The lockdown and loss of human contact, will result in a huge crisis from a mental health perspective. I am super proud of the companies that have worked with me throughout the lockdown to teach their employees mindfulness in the workplace ; one group in particular has done very well by allowing for a weekly session discussing mindfulness, and any mental health issues. The group coaching sessions are ongoing and helping massively to put the lockdown into perspective, whether that is from a mental health or personal perspective. If you or your company employees are effected, and they likely are, you should consider having similar sessions. I am not saying this to advertise my services, but highlight the importance of doing it. Whether with me or any other mindfulness coach or practitioner. The hungover of mental health after the pandemic will be huge; combat it today! Be proactive, you will thank me later.

Our holidays ended up being fantastic. We had splendid weather in Scotland, and hardly any rain. It was warm, and allowed for me to continue my marathon training. I will update everyone properly once it is all confirmed, but the London Marathon 2020 will be a virtual one, and all donations roll over to the next physical one, which I plan to run in October 2021 or April 2022. I prefer the former, so let’s see what we get. I shall update my Justgiving page as soon as things will be confirmed. Bear with me, not a logistical walk in the park for the London Marathon organisers.

I love being in Scotland. It’s a rough terrain, friendly people, good greasy food and lovely ale. Walking, running, or just enjoying the countryside is fab. We rented a wee flat in Inverness and visited the MIL up North frequently, whilst doing our own family things, like looking at amazing forests, Loch Ness of course, or just shopping in town. Visiting a white sandy beach.
Scotland is a lovely country, and if we knew we could work remotely forever, I would go and buy a wee house in the middle of nowhere. However, we don’t know, and there are question marks around some infrastructure here, but that’s for another time. The idea sounds lovely though.

As you can imagine, running your own business, you still work all week. However, I have been lucky as I wasn’t that much in demand, and people respected me being slow to respond. I actually didn’t do much work at all, and we enjoyed a lot of quality family time, a change of scenery, and just doing nothing. Yes. I managed to just sit there, and do nothing. Not like me, but it is so important to reflect, drain your brain and just sit and think. I enjoyed the time off, the company and making memories with the family.

When you read this we are just back. Time to kick-start my 2nd year as a contractor/freelancer and kicking some ar*. I am ready to make a difference, take on more project work, run a marathon and conquer the “world”. Get rid of the virus, spend more time with the family and balance work and life. A holiday puts so many things into perspective, so does Covid, and there will be more decisions coming our way. That’s certain and that it’s certain that I lost all confidence in trust in this government.

For now, enjoy some time off, disconnect and make memories with your children and loved ones. Time you never get back.

Love and kindness from my little corner of the world.
Volker

Habits and Routines – Productivity Tip 5

How to you de-stress? How do you keep fit?

Not only during the lockdown, just generally, you have to ask yourself if having that glass of wine or beer at night to destress is the right thing? What about a healthy routine of exercise of body and mind to make sure you stay sane and healthy?

Make sure to build a routine into your day that allows for plenty of exercise, down time and mindfulness. Whether that’s a solid morning routine or small breaks spread throughout the day. Whatever works for you and your circumstances. I love my 5 am routine, and a nap if schedule allows throughout the day. Regular breaks are important, and don’t forget the earlier tip of not scheduling more than 70% of your available time.

Develop your routines and habits to have a more balanced and productive life.

If you are interested in more tips around productivity, head over to my playlist on YouTube to discover them all.

If you like what you see, you can also check out my personal development course which helps you to align your inner values to your goals and purpose in life. This in return will lead to more success and productivity.

Ballueder Thinks (4) – London & the lockdown

Hello again. I mentioned previously that I didn’t want to write every week. However, I do enjoy the process, and particularly after the loss of my grandma, it helps me to write, and deal with things.

Last week was a bit of a roller coaster ride. A few good news, a few bad news, and Oma’s funeral on Friday. It was an emotional week, with things coming to an end, and new things starting. This weekend is all about processing, drawing a line in the sand, looking forward and making new and bigger plans.

I wanted to thank everyone for the messages I received regarding my Oma.

Ideas come to those who wait. I am eager to tell the world about my latest consulting project, but things aren’t quite ready to be taken to market yet. And, things might still change. So I am quiet, and wait until it is all good to talk about. In the meantime, I am connecting with my network, I work quietly away and enjoy things – as much as you can. I do the school runs, join our family dinners and tidy things in my life. It’s almost as if I make life more efficient, for a smoother start, like tidying a place before a big event. Working with one of my mindfulness groups over the past few weeks, we have been looking at things we are grateful for during lockdown. The summary for me is quality of life, being able to chose when to work and how to work, and when to focus on the family, being in control of one’s life.

Isn’t that crazy? We are admitting that when we work for others, we aren’t in control of our life, and let others and others’ schedules taking over our life. Particularly in sales, we want to close the deal, and we are ready to make sacrifices. I am not sure that this is right, and I have been very guilty of that myself. Covid puts that into perspective for me.

One of my OLD rules was that I had to work, no matter whether I was sick, or even worse the wife and kids were sick. I didn’t understand the concept of taking time off because a family member was sick. I was wrong, so wrong, and apologised to my wife multiple times. It’s the rules we take for granted, we don’t question. Rules we likely inherited. And, as I found out this week, a child’s brain doesn’t question anything until the age of 6. So anything we feed our kids’ brains up to the age of six becomes a rule for them which they don’t question.

On that note, I am deciding to join the London marathon. Part of me wants to do it, given it is London; the other part of me thinks it’s not great for my knees. I will let you know which way the pendulum swings.

My podcast which goes live in 2 weeks, the last one before the summer break, is talking about gratitude as well. What does it mean to have gratitude, and how does your life change when you start focusing on being grateful, showing gratitude? A bit like the Secret, whatever positive energy you send out, you get back. Try it. I have had a gratitude journal for many years, and I learned a lot on how I can fine tune it still. Thanks Lisa.

Also, this week I went back to London. I was a bit apprehensive. Face mask on, onto the train, onto the tube, into an office. Socially distancing. It is all about confidence, and being mindful. Do not touch things unnecessarily. Don’t get carried away and fall back into the ‘old normal’, and appreciate that whilst you are comfortable with a 1 meter distance, others might not. Show respect.

The trains were empty. The tube was. I travelled during the day. How did it feel?
The trains felt fine, just a bit warm around my face 🙂 And on the way back? It was again very quiet. However, in between it wasn’t difficult to find a pub with take away pints in Soho. After a longer business session in an empty office complex, we ended up sharing pizza and beer socially distancing in the middle of Soho, the heart of London. It’s different, it’s what it is, and as a Londoner, you just carry on. Like after 7/7. That’s the British spirit I am just too well accustomed to. We saw some proper Londoners, no tourists, and people like me, foreigners that lived in London for ages. We made it work that summer’s night, drinking and enjoying ourselves, without putting others at risk.

It is of course more quiet, and almost pleasantly quiet. A day out, a bit like “28 days later” if you have seen the movie. The new normal I guess.

Whilst I appreciate this is not going to last, e.g. people will consume more booze and then start being closer to each other too, it can be done to socially distance and enjoy a pint. Let’s see how this weekend works out with us being allowed to go back to the pubs.

Anyway, I have done it, and I can’t wait to go back. That’s the thing. It is the new normal, and I am ready to tackle work and meetings again. But until everyone is, zoom is a great alternative, and does the job. It makes things easier, more efficient and I suspect it will be around for a long time!

That’s all from me this week. Stay safe, and enjoy your pint responsibly with a distance.

Ballueder Thinks (1) – Covid19 Column

Hello.

The regular reader knows that for over 10 years I have been writing a Sunday Column. I kind of replaced it with my podcast, now with some videos on Linkedin. But that’s just not the same.

Let’s face it, I do love writing. No question about that. In my strength coaching profile, ‘writing’ was a number one skill. I am not sure if that is due to my academic background, or due to my intellect. And I am not saying that in any arrogant fashion, but I love thinking about the world, and making connections of how things work.

Just this weekend, I listened to a model called ‘disruption mapping’. Any input that clarifies thinking, any model that helps you to simplify trends is great. More about the mapping soon on my podcast in season 4.

Anyhow, after a few weeks pause of writing about my life, I am back on it. I am not promising a regular column. But if there are a lot of things going on in my head, I kind of need to get them out. And I like processing things that are on my mind through writing. Yet, whilst I write a daily gratitude journal for myself, I want to share my thoughts with you in form of a column.

What I am thinking at the moment? Black lives matter. I am actually speechless that in 2020 people are still thinking that there would be any superiority of one race over another. Whether that is white over black, or one belief over another. This is just something totally incomprehensible for me. Again, earlier this weekend I wrote an article about mindfulness and how it might not fit with a ‘male stereotypical picture’ – again it is totally wrong to think about those stigmas. But, of course, we grew up with that. It reminded me of the movie ‘Philadelphia’ where the ‘white collar, old grey haired lawyers’ sit in the sauna cracking jokes about gay people. This used to be acceptable, but in my opinion is now out of fashion. At least in circles I socialise. So let’s hope that this will once and for all put this inequality to rest, and no more lives will be lost. I am disgusted.

I am also thinking of Covid19. For me, having the Aufbruchstimmung, or in English the Spirit of Optimism, I think it is over. We should get back to work, even if it is 99% remote, and that we need to move on, make decisions and get back to work. Maybe I think it is too easy to do. But what stops us from doing so? Some industries, hospitality for instance, will have difficulties, but some other industries should easily be able to work remotely and do business in a remote fashion, powered by Zoom. Btw Zoom, their share price jumped 90% on going public, good on them. But yes, let’s move on.

And what about my job. Oh….there is a lot I can tell you about. There is this fear of a recession and then Brexit and all. But again, we must think positive, stay fearless and move onwards. It is about making decisions and moving forward. I am in the process of launching something new, adding a new contract to my portfolio and continue with coaching and mindfulness trainings. So I am keeping busy. I will of course share some more news in the weeks to come. But I am very excited. With every fear and downturn, there is an opportunity! To my knowledge, this is what crisis means in Chinese.

I couldn’t give up. Falling down 7 times, standing up 8 times. Let me into a secret. As soon as the tattoo shops will open, I am on there to get this tattooed. Silly? Mid-Life crisis? Maybe. Whatever you fancy, just go for it.
Earlier this year I had some transformational therapy to rid myself of some limitations and limiting belief. I couldn’t recommend this more. I have tried a few over the years, this one was great. There is nothing like experimenting with different forms of therapies. Yes, I have to say that my best therapy is meditation, which I practise daily. Without meditation, and without the love of certain people, I don’t think I would have achieved what I have achieved. Life takes turns, my industry has been full of redundancies and change, but I have mastered it. Without mental health issues. But, looking back, and as explored in a recent podcast, I think I have been sailing very closely to the wind. I sometimes think that my meditation is like a sail that helped me to stay on this side of the storm. Hence, I am so passionate to teach people about it.

And then the lockdown. We are all struggling. Juggling home schooling, family, jobs, progression in jobs, interviews, zoom calls, and the earlier evenings which leave more time for drinks. I have been keeping fit, with 3 half marathons so far during lockdown. I do my weight exercises and added more to the regime, hoping to rid myself of the Covid-Stone. A term I coined for the additional weight I have put on. It’s just too easy to snack all day long. With the return of school runs, I am getting more walking time in again, which is good of course. And, personally, I think it’s a good thing that school returned.

Fingers crossed we are out of the worse and Covid19 will disappear, just burn off over the summer. That’s what I am hoping for. And will we learn anything?

What have we forgotten over the past few weeks?

Brexit.
Whilst the topic is slowly coming back to us in the press, let’s keep a close eye on it. I am still not a friend, but we have to live with it I suppose. A friend of mine posted something awful about the background and intention of the Tories behind Brexit, which I a) don’t want to repeat and b) hope it isn’t true. If it was, I would think this country is going down big time. Let’s hope this isn’t the case. We handled Covid19 very badly from a political and preparedness point of view, so if we handle Brexit the same, this is going to be really bad!

Dom Cummings.
Is he still the Chief Advisor to our PM? This is so bad. Sorry, I am speechless to think that he gets away with it. Not having a backbone to step down and admitting that he f* up. That’s what I don’t get with leaders. I learned early in my life to owe up to mistakes and apologise and trying to make it right. It’s a fundamental lesson I teach my children. For me this says it all about our government, prime minister and political situation. I am actually becoming a big fan of Kerr Starmer, the Labour and opposition leader. There is hope! There is always hope.

And what about ocean pollution?
Will we think about recycling still when Covid19 is over? And how to clean our oceans? Or is that all forgotten? Will we, post Covid19, go back to normal and just pollute our planet, take unnecessary flights, treat others with disrespect and carry on? I hope not. There is always hope.

Over the weeks and months to come I want to pick up more regular writing again. I would enjoy hearing from you what you think. I’d like to hear what your opinion is, so feel free to reach out to me by whatever means works for you.

I enjoy writing.
I want to share.
I want to get you to think.

Thanks, and please stay safe,
Volke

Living in a new world – Days at home (58)

Hump Day, and you know what….I just realised it is half term next week.
That means, that this week is my last week of daily blogs.

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the writing and still do, actually one of my key strengths is writing. That would explain why I have written two books so far 🙂 But seriously, what turned out to be a project for the boys and me, turned into a chore for me at some point.

9 weeks of lockdown for the kids, and counting for the youngest.
10 weeks since I have been to London.

Now, I have enjoyed writing this blog. On some days anyway 😉
Maybe I manage a weekly post moving forward, until we are truly out of this. But no promises!

60 posts. That’s a bit isn’t it. I hope you enjoyed reading about my feelings and thoughts. And how it all went with the family. Actually, that’s more than a year worth of Sunday Columns back in the days 🙂

This week for instance, I was hoping for less work. A bit more focus on the family. But far from it. Maybe I just create too much work for me, or maybe I have too many plans. Whatever it is, there is so much more I want to do.

Yet, I am still looking for one thing, and need your help. Please reach out to me with some ideas. A hobby.

I discussed that with someone on a call this week who discovered gardening for himself. Something practical (e.g. not another blog, podcast or online course), yet not too complicated, maybe not too detail oriented. I love building my Revel models, but I also hate them. Maybe I just stick to those, but maybe something bigger I could build. Restore an old motorbike, but I don’t have space in the garage. Lock picking was suggested before, hmm 🤔

If anyone has any ideas, please let me know. I have learned a lot more about cooking recently and enjoy it, but besides me, vegetarian isn’t the cuisine of choice in our household.

Anyway, those are my Wednesday thoughts. The boys would spend all day on their computer games, yet actually listen well and have been really good.

Nothing to complain about.

And the sun is out!

Stay safe,
Volker

Living in a new world – Days at home (56)

Wow. Welcome to week 9. I sometime wonder, if I had known we were in lockdown that long, would have I committed to a daily blog post?

Sure, I love writing. I love sharing. And, I have time most days to just write a few lines. But not always tbh. But thanks for all the positive feedback.

It’s Monday, a new week. We are coming out of lockdown. It feels like spring is in the air, and I need the industry to kick off some new initiatives now, and recruitment to commence.

What’s the plan? To be honest this week seemed quiet until this lunchtime. It’s good stress, I suppose. Things are moving in the right direction, without me getting any work done.

The boys have been good today, and home schooling is going ok. My wife is at work.

But let’s recap on the weekend. We were allowed out. The boys loved it, and Jenny and I loved it. We drove down to Littlehampton Beach, also called ‘Daddy’s Beach’. Sunshine. Feet in the sea. Long chats and walks. It felt like we are free again, yet social distancing from people. I guess that’s the new normal.

Below are a few impressions if you don’t follow me on Instagram.

I hope you are safe, and I hope you managed to get out a bit this weekend. We had a BBQ too, the weather is getting nicer. So let’s hope this is the beginning of the end of Covid19. An article in the IndependentIndependent suggests the virus will be gone soon. Let’s hope this will happen.

Have a great rest day.
Volker

Living in a new world – Days at home (53)

53 days. That makes it….almost 8 weeks. Monday we go into week 9 of lockdown. However, I get the feeling that business is picking up again this week. Why?

Simple, people are returning to work. The ‘wfh’ worked realise that this is the new normal, and that over time they will return to the office at least for part of their week.

Garden Centres are opening across the country:

It feels like spring is in the air, as people start acting ‘normal’ again and come out and meet others – if at distance. Now all I need is more work coming through. But it all looks promising and hopefully this is the sign of a quick recovery.

How are the kids?

Good, with the anticipation of going back to school in 2 weeks time (older one) and needing more support (younger one), we are trying hard to make it as best as possible. Changes from Monday have helped us getting through the week.

It has been a busy week, a good week, an odd week at times.

Let’s start looking forward, let’s make it happen and let’s stay safe.

Best wishes for the weekend,
Volker

Living in a new world – Days at home (39)

It’s always a long day when you had a glass too many. But that’s fine, the day flew past in the end being busy and in calls most of the day. To be honest, the whole week passed very quickly which is good.

I am hopeful that, as promised by our PM, we will see a plan next week to come out of lockdown, and that it will start week after next. Whilst I am not an expert, that is what I am wishing and hoping for.

This charming picture of me will be the ‘normal’ I think. That’s me going to the supermarket, to work, commute – whenever I go outside really. FaceID on my phone and iPad is overrated I suppose.

Let’s see what happens…..

Anyway, I promised an update on the kids. Another few zoom sessions for the little one, and some more help from us concluded a busy week for them. It’s not easy, and it’s great to see them getting along so well, playing and entertaining each other. Even I have a Roblox and Minecraft account now.

Let’s hope they all go back to school again soon and end up having more time with their mates.

Have a fantastic weekend, stay safe.

Living in a new world – Days at home (35)

How was your weekend?

Ours was great for the most part. Something happened on our walk on Saturday though. We came back with VERY strong hayfever symptoms, almost thinking it could be Covid19. You can’t but panic for a minute. Symptoms all disappeared came Sunday, yet a bit of a weird experience. A good night’s sleep and some antihistamines later I suppose.

I only discovered my hayfever a few years ago, interesting enough I had similar symptoms to this weekend. Then I didn’t know it was hayfever, and thought I was hungover. That wasn’t the case then or now. Moving forward I decided that if there is a high pollen forecast, I will always take my tablets. No more of that malarki!

Other than that….a nice BBQ, nice weather, a chilled out Sunday and the aforementioned walk. We played Scrabble, read a lot and just enjoyed ourselves.

‘Die Seele hängen lassen’, is what you say in Germany. To let the soul chill.

Below are a few impressions.

Now back to normal, yet work is quiet atm. Which is fair enough, given the situation.

If you hear of any contract or permanent roles, feel free to reach out. I have capacity!

Thanks all, and have a wonderful day.

Volker

Living in a new world – Days at home (1)

Hello world,

Since this morning, my two boys Colin and Rohan, are working with me from home. This is, as you all would have guessed, due to the Corona Virus or Corvid 19. So far we don’t have any symptoms, so we are all well hopefully, and my wife is at work. As she is a nurse, she can help people in these challenging times, so it is good that we can help them by staying at home.

Now, whilst the boys have been given homework, and I am still working as a contractor until mid April for now, but also work on my own stuff, these are challenging times to juggle the workload and schedules. However, day 1 went well, and we thought we start a diary. We guess the biggest challenge for everyone out there is that we don’t know how long this is going to last.

Home Office

Today we managed to do all of our home work, including Maths, English, Computing, Reading, SPAG (Spelling, Punctuation And Grammar), Art and we had fun too. Next steps are PE, e.g. we need to get out of the house to exercise and get some fresh air. We can always catch up on anything we need to finish later on. That’s mainly true for daddy 😉

And the idea is that every day, at the end of the school day, we will write a short summary, record a video or share something that explains how we feel and what it is like to live a different life to what we are used to. Also, as time goes on, we update you on how things will change. Will we go into lockdown? Quarantine? Isolation? Whatever term it is going to be, and whatever life has in stock, we will persist and get through that. We are all in it together.

So this was day one, and daddy would like to share a video that was sent to him today. It might not appeal to the wider audience, but it reminds me very much of my home. When I was younger, and sick, and had to stay at home. I would listen to some German music by Reinhard Mey. He shared this video today, and for any German speakers I thought it might be nice to listen to him.

Stay safe out there, and you hear back from us again tomorrow!

CRV