Settling into our new home

We are here now. Moved in on May 2, like we planned. This is it, our new home up north. Incredible. The past couple of weeks were intense. So many ups and downs. Frustrations, annoying stuff but also a lot of laughs, small pleasures and quiet, blissful moments in which I wanted to pinch myself to make sure that this is real.

As a first visitor, we had my mother with us for ten days. Our original plan would have seen the two of us travelling to South Africa at exactly the same time for our annual mother/daughter holiday. This has been our tradition ever since I left home – to have one trip each year for just the two of us. As you can imagine, we had a very different experience this time round. Instead of going on a luxury safari and beach holiday, we whizzed about the place together with Klaus, cleaning windows and surfaces, assembling furniture, running errands, clearing out truckloads of cartons, making the place look like a home. All the while we still had two to three builders with us every day in the first two weeks because there was still a bathroom to be finished and our utility room got a makeover as did the outer appearance of the house. We also went on small trips in the vicinity: The city of Flensburg, the beach at Holnis peninsula and Glücksburg castle, as you can see on the images. We shared tasty meals and of course we emptied the odd bottle of wine from our home region together. Funnily enough for the first time ever in her life, mum has taken to enjoying beer. This warms my heart. It’s never too late to try something new. And sometimes, the smallest and most mundane things can hold surprises that are just waiting to be uncovered.

And then of course, there is the story of what went wrong – and this also wants to be shared: One fifth of our belongings is still in Switzerland because it did not fit into the lorry. They called us on the day while they were loading the items and asked us to tell them what should stay and what should go. We had to decide on the spot on a video call with this guy while we saw our furniture standing in the rain in Zurich. The vehicle was already three quarters full when they realized that not all would fit in and of course they had started packing the boxes with books first (like you would) so our choices were relatively limited. It was tough, very tough – to see our designer chairs standing in the drizzle and I got not just a little bit worked up about this bump in the road. I spent a lot of time being angry, wondering how we could have avoided this. Maybe if the two moving companies we used would have coordinated and communicated better…. Now we will have to pay a bit extra to get the remaining items our way. My learning: When moving house across borders, never work with two companies, rather pay a bit more. Chances are, if something goes wrong, each party will want to blame the other. That left me feel frustrated, angry, confused and helpless. And I was angry with myself for being so angry about this all. Klaus asked me one day “what happened to your attitude of having faith in the universe?” 🙂

What I understood in conversations with friends and colleagues is that big house moves like this one usually come with their fair share of things being damaged or getting lost or going wrong or all of the above. We can call ourselves lucky that the majority of things we need are here and that we were able to move in on the planned date, despite the circumstances. Of course it would be great to have our bicycles here, too – but getting all worked up about this a waste of energy.

The house has turned out beautifully – it’s a real gem and I’m super chuffed with how the place looks and feels. It has our handwriting about it and I’m glad to have found a style that balances the old and the new. Treating the old structure and character of the house respectfully while introducing new elements. You will probably not be surprised to hear that we exceeded our budget for renovation works (which already had an in-built buffer of 20%) by another 30% or so due to unforeseen things that needed to be done (hello, rain trench and second bathroom!) and a couple of add-ons we decided for because we wanted our new home to look the part, not only “ok” (hello, yellow sofa and custom-made larder!). Weirdly enough, I found these additional expenses easier to deal with on an emotional level than the hassle around our belongings that were left behind in Zurich.

Now I am sitting here on the kitchen corner bench, at the old table, while the swallows outside (we have several bird families nesting here at the house) are feeding their young. Phoebe the cat is somewhere outside. Thankfully, the birds outsmart and outpace her so she is not a real danger to them while she is roaming her new territory with curiosity, playfulness and confidence. I reckon she has already found her favourite enemy in the big cat with the white socks that does not seem to be overly happy about having to give away part of its patch to a new neighbour.

I enjoy the cosy evenings here but also the morning hours. Usually I start the day with a bit of yoga and a look at the local newspaper before tending to the to do list of the day. Now that the house is nearly finished, it’s time to give the garden some care and attention. The sauna is here (yay!!) and shall be getting another layer of glaze later today to protect it from the weather. Speaking of which, it’s getting warmer now after the cold spell that we had the past couple of days, perfect for being outside. There is a slight breeze like on most days and I hope that we’ll benefit from this in summertime in that it doesn’t get too hot. There is so much to discover here in the area and it’s great that now slowly but surely the restaurants, shops and museums are opening again. There are farm shops, little cafés, Viking museums, beaches, lovely little cities and villages, islands, fjords, you can rent a little boat or a kayak, Denmark is close by… I can’t wait to go on excursions with Klaus to get to know this corner of the earth more intimately. It feels a bit like we’re embarking on an endless holiday.

All play, no work? Well, I don’t think these two need to be contradictory. My new work is – to some degree – also very playful. I just don’t want or need 50 hours of it every week any more. I am helping people discern and solve tough challenges, I am having meaningful conversations, enabling aha-moments to happen. One of the major learnings that I took out of my near-burnout and the “awakening” that got me where I am today is that life does not have to be an uphill struggle.

I don’t have to impress others and fight for attention/recognition/rewards in order to feel worthy any more. I have found out what I really, really care about and I am surrounding myself with people who like the real me. This makes me strong and puts me in a position where I am well equipped to deal with whatever challenge comes along with curiosity, empathy, creativity and collaboration. Vulnerability is the new strength, as it turns out.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and everyone who has supported, accompanied, inspired, encouraged and followed me until here. Thanks for believing in me. Not sure if I would have been able to embark on this adventure or followed through on this crazy idea without your encouragement. I hope this finds you well, wherever you are, and I am sending you a virtual hug.

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