Each stage of our lives is important. Each stage makes us who we are in a very special way. I divided my life into the following 5 stages, for easy reference, but also because some shifts occurred at the beginning of each of them.
From 0 to 10 years of age
I was born in Germany, in 1976, in Frankfurt am Main. Two years later, exactly two years later, my younger sister arrived and thus my family was complete with my mother, father and my sister. Memories of this stage are related to nature in a nice house in a very small village, where we were able to spend many hours outdoors, in the garden, on the streets or in the fields, and do some sports, such as gymnastics and athletics.
And then there were books. Even though I remember having a hard time starting to learn to read, I very quickly became very fond of reading and at some point even set up my own private library.
From 10 to 20
The picture above is from my last year in primary education in Germany. At the age of 10, secondary education starts. And things started to change quite a bit as far as my performance was concerned. From being an A student, my grades turned into Cs and even Ds, being one of the areas I struggled most with foreign languages. Outside of school, nature, sports, books and also music – I learned to play the clarinet – continued to be cherished companions.
But the major shift of this stage took place when I was 13 and my parents decided to move to Spain, in the hope of finding a less stressful environment for a happier life. The awareness of what this meant for me evolved over the years, as with so many other events but, however difficult the beginning of this new life was, it was one of the most important steps which I am most grateful for.
Spain would not be the only country I lived in during these ten years. For my last year in high school, I was able to obtain a scholarship and spend one year in the US, which was determinant in my decision to go to university. My choice fell on Granada and a degree in translation, because it had turned out that I was not so bad in foreign languages at all.
From 20 to 30
Granada, Spain, and Strasbourg, France, are represented in the picture above, the two cities where I spent my university years. After graduating in translation, in four languages, adulthood and the corresponding responsibilities started to make its first appearance. Even though I had loved my studies, I soon realized that being a translator did not suit me, so I finally began to work in a bank on the Spanish east coast where many foreigners needed help in their languages.
The responsibilities of adulthood were covered easily with this job, but something I now call curiosity, but which I called nonconformism for many years, took me over. First I decided to go back to university and study an online degree in East Asian Studies. Then I moved to London for some months which was not the right place for me, so I came back to Spain and back into the banking business.
From 30 to 40
But my curiosity had just gotten started. For my 30th birthday, I traveled to China, which had been one of my passions since the age of 10 (as far as I can remember, according to my mother, it started when I was 5). And a few months later I moved there with the main goal to finally be able to fluently speak Chinese. During the two and a half years of that stay, I started to work as a language teacher.
After coming back home, aka Spain, professionally I moved from banking to teaching to starting a company in fashion with my then-boyfriend. I continued studying, first a master’s degree in teaching, then psychology because I started to become aware of the importance and the influence my inner world had on my life in general.
This process of inner reflection had started before, but slowly took overhand during these years and the more I learned about myself and understood my past, the more I realized that I needed a much more profound change in my professional life to be aligned with my values.
From 40 to …
So, yes, of course, I took a yoga instructor course in India shortly after my 40th birthday to continue the inner journey. My outer journey started to find its unifying thread in sustainable development. First around sustainability in fashion and the Economy for the Common Good. Second, around the Sustainable Development Goals which I understand as a universal language we all need to learn, understand and speak.
I also learned about new methodologies that helped the teacher in me to find tools I considered necessary on this global journey of collaboration and iterative learning, which even combined the inner and the outer world in a process of reflection and action.
So, here I am, preparing the next steps of my journey looking for the others to transform our world.