As I am writing this I am sitting on the top of a mountain in northern Ethiopia (3300m). The town nearby is Lalibela and worldwide known for its wonderful churches that were carved out of the mountain. Some carved more than a thousand years ago.
Since I left Zanzibar about a month ago I have been traveling quite a bit. From Zanzibar I caught a plane to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We had the president of Zanzibar on board who went for some meeting to Addis. This gave us the wonderful opportunity to fly around and right over mount Kilimanjaro after having stopped at Kilimanjaro airport. From Addis I flew over Heathrow in London to Toronto, Canada. I had near been to Canada before and was positively surprised. I heard Canadians speak about Toronto, as if it wasn’t there most beautiful town and still I enjoyed it a lot.
Seemed to me as if it was a City in the US, just more green, more pedestrians and even friendlier. I stayed in Kensington market which gave me the opportunity to walk to University of Toronto early in the morning for class.
There I took a one week hypnosis training with Mister Hypnosis himself: Dr. Mike Mandel. To put it shortly, it was mind blowing and had the potential for changing life. Mine as well as those who will profit from these learnings in the future.
After that amazing week I flew to Berlin to meet my brother, some friends and take care of some stuff. Three days later I left for Cologne where I had another business training. I met my parents, grandma and a good friend and his family. After three days I left for Berlin again, where I met Alex Dahms of ‚One Million Good Thoughts’. We recorded a great interview for the next ‚One million Good Thoughts‘ edition this summer.
I also had to clean up my former office at ESCP Europe and had a little farewell party at the Campus, met some more friends I hadn’t seen in ages and went to business conference for digital nomads ‚DNX‘ organized by my podcast guest Markus Meurer. Great people, great audience, great day. It was definitely worth it.
Only eight hours after the ‚DNX‘ ended I was on my way to Frankfurt to catch a plane back to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to meet Judy. We had planned to go on a three weeks vacation.
The winter season in Zanzibar was a dream that came true I would never want to miss. Still it was a whole lot of work. Judy doing her best in the Zanzibar health sector, working and teaching in three different hospitals and me building up the Lodge, mainly creating and installing processes.
When I go there I will do several things different, but for the first times I still had to learn a lot. Now I have a place at the Indian Ocean that keeps growing and expanding with a great team at work. And Judy will start her new position at the University Hospital Bern, Switzerland in July.
First it was time for some vacation for us. As I am planning some Ultra Mountain Races in Switzerland over the summer I wanted to be up in the mountains somewhere. Judy who has a personal history with Ethiopia wanted to visited the country for the first time in her life and since most of the country is above 2500m above sea level it was the place of choice. We started in Addis Ababa in a runners camp of Haile Gebrselassie whom you might know, then went on to Gonder and the Simmiens mountains for a week, where we went above 4000m for several times and I climbed the highest mountain in Ethiopia.
Now we are for some days at Lalibela to see the gorgeous historic monuments they crafted here decades ago. After we will visit Harare, the ancient muslim center of Ethiopia and then will go on to Zanzibar before we leave to Switzerland for the summer, where I will work on the online programs for happylife.coach.
I can tell you, as beautiful as traveling is, sometimes I need to rest a bit to be able to process all the learnings. I don’t know how it is in your life, but it might make sense to go for a change every once in while. And may it be only to become aware that you enjoy what you already have.
By now, it is a while ago that the story I am about to tell came to an end, a story about trust, thankfulness and the ability to let go.
I moved to Zanzibar for the winter 25th of October 2016. While still adapting to the island life and getting used to the work that needed to be done, to open our Lodge fully by December, we found somebody feeding on the garbage at one of the houses in the village.
It is quiet normal to see a lot of animals (well a lot of cats and every now and then a dog) searching for food. Amongst them are always a lot of kittens and puppies since pets don’t grow very old in Zanzibar and they reproduce quiet active.
There was a difference though. This time it was one single puppy and it didn’t run away in an instant. Although very afraid of humans he was curious enough to stay around and started playing with us in pure joy.
I posted a sentence the other day saying: „A friend is someone with a soul that resonates with your own.“
That was the sentence that came to my mind when I thought about that dog and how our relationship was going to evolve over the next 6 month. It happened to be, that we adopted that little skinny doggy and made him be our lodge masquot from that time on:
Back to November 2016:
I clear him from literally hundreds and hundreds of ticks, clean him all up and fead him as much as he likes.
Within hours he absolutely trusts us, changes his posture and his behavior towards people in general. Was he a scared and shy dog yesterday, he happens to have the sweetest character and turns out to be the Lodges happy soul.
Unfortunately he becomes very very sick during the first 3 week and becomes even skinnier during that time. I seriously fear that we might loose him right away and start to care of him 24/7. Now he is (other than planned) allowed to sleep inside the room and although that is very untypical in Zanzibar he is allowed to join us everywhere. From that day on he doesn’t miss a single tour to the mangroves, snorkeling or the island.
All of a sudden it is impossible to leave him anywhere alone. As soon as we try, he sneaks out and tries to us. I end up being accompanied on every step I take.
Although not planned before, I have a (dog)friend all of a sudden. He manages to survive his sickness and starts growing and growing.
He is coming with us on mainland trips, to Daressalam, lake Malawi, lake Tanganyika as well as on safaris. I guess, he might be one of the very few dogs in Tanzania to have ever been on a safari at all.
Now my biggest problem becomes the thought of leaving him on this own when I will leave Zanzibar for weeks and months. After all a travel by plane with a dog will not be the easiest and cheapest way to travel.
By March 2017 we have our current team for the Lodge complete, I give responsibility to the team, start to leave him with the team during the day and now he is allowed to leave the Lodge on his own, since he is not approaching other people anymore and always comes back on his own.
He starts sleeping next to the night-guard, is fed by our kitchen staff.
He remains the proudest dog in the village though. Always tail and head up. He is not afraid of anyone and still he somehow figures out to whom he could go and to whom not. I never see him near other people he doesn’t know. He goes to the beach with our guests and shows up on his own.
He has grown a lot and is around 7 month old. Everything seems to have worked out. I am confident, he will manage to be a happy dog when I leave. I am so happy that I will be able to come to Zanzibar and have Django waiting for me in the future.
By now it is end of April. The Lodge is up and running, the team is working smoothly, Django feels at home and does a lot on his own. In 7 day I will leave for a training in Canada and we are in the middle of the rainy season.
He still doesn’t like water and chills with Judy and me who doesn’t have to work to day all day long. It truly feels like he knows it is the last weekend together with both of us, as if he wants to say goodbye.
What I don’t know, is that is really is a goodbye. In the evening the sky clears up and it stops raining. Django runs out to chase the cat. I finish my dinner, turn around and there lies Django. Peaceful, without any sign of stress or pain, but dead.
We have no idea what happened and will never know…
So the last week in Zanzibar truly becomes a week of saying good bye. It feels like loosing a close friend and digging his grave in our little valley at Caveman Lodge is not how I pictured my last week here.
It becomes a week of facing my own fears, my own sadness and my own mistakes. Letting him go teaches me a lesson on life. Everything that comes, will go, it is just a matter of time. Don’t be attached and enjoy to the fullest what you want to enjoy, the moment you have it. When it leaves you, be thankful that you had it before. You will loose everything anyway, at the latest when it is time for you to go.
Enjoy now! Be thankful for what you have.
And a safe travel to Django…
I am sitting a my Computer, checking mails, process bookings for the Lodge, record Podcasts and am planning my milestones for 2017. Then one question hits me:
Do I really want to keep writing stories on my blog? Yes!
Good, but what exactly? I wasn’t sure.
Since I shifted my focus on recording and broadcasting my German and my English podcast on a regular basis I missed out to write any articles. The main reason for that is that I am so much more spontaneous when talking. I am able to think about a topic, sit down to list some notes, start recording and the episodes evolves while I am talking. When a thought slightly shifts because I mention another dimension of the same problem it feels and it sounds natural to the listener.
When writing an article though, I always thought that I was expected to write „the perfect“ article. According to my own standards I often didn’t meet those and therefor created frustration in my mind.
While resonating about that, I thought about the time when it became so hard for me to write. I didn’t figure out yet what exactly it caused. I only know that there was a time when my expectation shifted and I tried to write not only an interesting story but a really good article, simultaneously in English and in German.
That was not the reason for me to start a blog though. I never meant to write news articles. I wanted to write stories from life and for life. I wanted to take you on the journey to the happiness through simplicity. A journey of life, where mistake are to happen, were experiences are to be made. I don’t aim to tell you what to do, I want to collect examples where it did work and where it did not, for me or for others.
What conclusion you are drawing from that will be up to you.
I will take my blog back to the roots of blogging. Writing a web-log about life and dreams and inspiration. Since I started to write, I created a life I would have only dreamed about 5 years ago. I am taking you on that journey and very much appreciate your thought and opinions.
Back to blogging! About the simplicity of happiness!
Hi there, I am back in Berlin for some days. I spent the last month in my Zanzibar home after having spent all winter in a skiing resort in the Swiss mountains.
Custom officers keep asking me about my crappy passport but I always tell them, that although it might not look new on the outside, it has so many stories to tell in the inside.
Just like I want my life to be.
Not shiny on the the outside but full of memories in the inside.
For those who want to learn more about how I managed to live the life I dreamt about, I created a webinar. It doesn’t tell you what to do, but helps to ask the tough questions and create the surrounding you need to truly thrive.
If you send me an email with the topic “Your Happy Life” you can participate for free.
June 8th 2016 6:30pm CET. (this time in English)