This year has challenged us around the globe. A year that has caused a global standstill, a year that has shown us our vulnerability and made us aware of the illusion of a predictable future. A memorable year that also taught us a lot and inspired change.

As I review it month by month, the following images come into my mind:

I’ve lived in Cologne for 20 years now and actually went to a formal carnival event for the first time in January, following an invitation. It was a lot of fun and looking back the pictures look like from another time.

Already during this month I had such an uneasy feeling about the incidents in China, which I followed since the beginning of the reporting. My first thought about the pictures there was that we should reconsider and adjust our interface between us humans, animals and nature, especially with regard to our eating habits. So I followed it intuitively and decided at the end of January to completely stop my already reduced meat consumption.

And while the Carnival season in Cologne was in full swing in February, Thomas and I went hiking on the beautiful island of Madeira and really enjoyed our time there. It is “usually” the only week of the year when Thomas’ gym is closed for three days and it has become a ritual for us to escape the Carnival hustle of Cologne and start the spring refreshed. Shortly before the return trip from Madeira, we already felt that it would be better to be at home than somewhere in the world traveling.

And less than two weeks later, the first lockdown was there mid-March. Lockdown, a word we had never known before in this social context. A roller coaster of emotions: Closing the company, seeing customer contracts canceled. All this happened like a movie in fast forward. It definitely hurt in the first days. Looking back, I noticed this controlling behavior, such as my insistent questions at home: “Did you wash your hands?!?! Or the mainly mentally produced slight scratching of the throat after the intensive consumption of media and numbers. This was accompanied by consciously experiencing how strongly thoughts affect us and how important it is to perceive them and to take good care of oneself and one’s thoughts. And I remember my initially committed attempts really wanting to understand everything in detail.

Then in April, some easiness came into this topic. I gradually unplugged from the informational podcasts. Information fasting was a good way for me to interrupt my mindfrom searching and getting rest, again and again this year. There wasn’t too much to know now. I did not want to become one of another zillion experts in Germany, the constant talking and thinking about this new virus was also little helpful for me. The recommended behavior was quickly clear. Until today, not much has changed about the rules. Besides, there were and are other issues in life.

The weather was like a gift for the soul and so we could perceive the silence, the blooming of nature, the chirping of birds and the unusual silence in the skies all into the month of May. With my bicycle it gave me pleasure to be on the streets completely safe and in an almost car-free city. The world has not seen that before. Seen from this perspective: truly, what a gift!

In the middle of the month, the lockdown was over, Thomas opened the gym, and very slowly liveliness returned to the city. Professionally, it was time to take a closer look at the areas affected by the lockdown. What does still make sense, what do I continue and what do I leave behind? Letting go of the old brings energy into the new. Paying more attention to coaching. Yes! There was just a lot more energy there for quite a while. Besides, I’ve been wanting to offer an online reading for a long time from my book. Now is a good time. But some thoughts like: “I don’t know how to do that exactly, all the technology and “stuff”…? And,who knows if anyone would be interested? And anyway, what if …? were present. And these are exactly our true helpers when we listen and catch ourselves putting things off. Because behind all these excusesare blocking beliefs, we give meanings to our thoughts. It happens unconsciously: In my case it was the fear of rejection or of criticism and of showing myself more publicly. What if…?

It was time to further grow. I invested into myself! These investments are the most valuable. With the help of coaching and a program to build up my online coaching business (It should also become finally international) I recognized and said goodbye to some of my blocking beliefs and came much faster into action in June. For me it was another proof how fruitful coaching and reflection work is again and again for myself. Out of the old familiar repetitions and programming into the new. Of course there was alot of work to do. But with joy and willingness it does not feel like that, because it energizes you once you are in yourflow.

The summer brought some lightness during times of this pandemic. My round birthday was coming up in July. What to do? How to celebrate? Celebrate at all? Formally, yes, it was allowed. But these formal permissions often didn’t feel right to me this year. The decision was easy: “We’ll travel to my parents to Croatia, they live nice by the sea.” My sister and her family would be there, too. That’s great! And in a moment of silence on my balcony, the picture was clear as to how I wanted to celebrate: I wanted to invite my family to a brunch at the nearby beautiful hotel Berulia. The eight of us had a great day together and I had a very special birthday. I am very grateful that all this was possible.

Waiting for my guests - Hotel Berulia Brela (private photo)
Waiting for my guests – Hotel Berulia Brela (private photo)

A week later, back in Cologne, my favorite uncle died unexpectedly (in Bosnia-Herzegovina). Traveling, combined with corona test, certain restrictions, the funeral the day after next…it was not impossible, but much more complicated than “usual”. After I had decided not to travel ad-hoc, I found a special farewell ritual for myself: with a fire bowl on the balcony at the same time of the funeral. I could say goodbye although far away, still very close to himand in a very personal way. Farewell rituals are important. And this year I felt that the restrictions for saying goodbye to loved ones was by all means the greatest challenge for those affected in the world. Everything else can be done later. Saying goodbye cannot be postponed.

In August, I published another article for momentum magazine about the role of “travel companions” (as I call them in my book)for cancer patients: read here. And then I met an impressive young woman, Denise Rudolph. She interviewed me about my book. A first interview experience in front of the camera. It was a lot of fun. I was inspired by Denise’s commitment to simply putting her ideas into practice. Our interview will be published in early 2021, another new experience this year. August became my “Book Month”, quite spontaneously and unplanned. Together with the publisher – Carl-Auer Verlag – I donated copies of my book to the “LebensWert association” at the University Hospital in Cologne and I was able to make a contribution to those affected and those accompanying cancer patients.

Book donation for LebensWert e.V.
Book donation for LebensWert e.V. with GF Uwe Schwarzkamp in Cologne – (private photo)

In September it was finally time: My online reading on social media! My own volunteer project. A completely new experience to be present live online and read from my book. I hadn’t read it since the last reading in April 2019 – my own book is not on the list of books to be “reread” – and it was once more interesting for me to look at my own journey and the messages in the book, another year had passed. I felt like I was really connecting with my book for the first time, I mean the work itself, and beginning to really appreciate it for the first time. What a process, two years later. I booked a “virtual assistant” for the first time and I was assigned Elisabeth – I was lucky. All the technical issues, organizing and promoting the reading, Elisabeth took care of it all, following my new motto: “Who else can do this?” A small and very powerful question. The answer is to give work away! We can only get better at what we do if we have support. And with people around us who can do something much better than we can.

At the end of September, my seminar was allowed to take place at the University Hospital in Cologne under strict hygiene measures, and I was happy: I can do more than I think! I love this open seminar concept. At that time, however, the tension rose in the university hospital and the whole organization, there were again clearly more infected people. The seminar could still take place. I am grateful and I was allowed to gain more new experiences this year: When do I give seminars with protection masks, distance, strictest seating arrangements?

October is here. Somehow everything has come together. However, it got noticeable, the mood in Cologne tightened further. I canceled my flight to Croatia. I had planned to visit my parents again and go to the sea. This year is the year of weighing, what has to be and what can I do without, again and again. I decided again for letting go of my intentionand not to stick to mental plans. With this attitude it is easierto handle. Remain flexible.

In November I worked on my new website, grooved more and more into the formats of online coaching. And then it’s here again: This second lockdown hits us with our company reconnect respectively Thomas with his gym again. Well, this year is demanding…The interesting part this time is that the first experience prepared us together for the second differently. Accepting, developing ideas, continuing, pausing and further preparing the companies for tomorrow with confidence.

And now comes the very best: Thomas started cooking in the first lockdown. He never did that before! He was always good at picking up food for us or taking me out to eat. Despite the lockdown, he had enough to do with his business, but evenings were free every day (and again) for the first time. And so he started back in April, trying his first experiences with asparagus dishes and fish (for us) or meat (for himself). In this second lockdown, he started researching new recipes. I’m still excited about these changes at home. We have hadfish in salt crust, homemade pizza, fresh fish with broccoli and almond slivers, tofu burgers with avocado cream or for me vegetable pans, all served very neatly. I have now willingly handed over the kitchen to him. Crises have huge change potentials, crazy…the look at these potentials is worthwhile.

It’s December. This website goes online. I’m slowing down the year, surely coming to rest. Everyone around me is doing well. Thomas and I have made the best of this year. And, my godchild just became a young mother, my longest friend in years Claudia a grandmother. It’s amazing. I am touched. Life goes on.What a beautiful sign at the end of the year. We have so much to be grateful for.

This challenging and very “special” year is also coming to an end. Many things were different, the external conditions have challenged us and also encouraged us. There were days when a dull feeling and heaviness accompanied me. There were days when I felt the restlessness of others. There were days when I wanted to find many more answers. There were days in lockdown when I was touched by the loving creativity of the smaller retailers in my neighborhood. There were days when I wondered how long it would go on like this? Until I remembered: Life offers us a stage to learn and grow and we always have a choice…on any given day…we have a choice of what we want to do.

This endingof the year will be quiet. For many of us for the first time perhaps quite different or even contemplativeand reflective, in the true sense ofthis holiday season. Wishingeveryone a peaceful Christmas, a quiet end to this year and a happy and confident transition into the New Year.

Cologne, December 21st, 2020

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