Category Archives: True Stories

More Fragile Than We Ever Imagined

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So often in life things turn out far different from how we imagine them to be. Often, what we count on and believe in with all our heart turns out to be far more fragile and unsure than we ever imagined. Sometimes, it only takes a few days or weeks of intense pressure, or a break in familiar routine, for the walls of the temple of our hopes to crack and crumble, debris raining down all around us… leaving us to wonder why the beautiful structure we had built had looked so formidable and strong… yet turned out to have walls as thin and treacherous as an early-winter layer of ice on the pond of our desires. Reality always comes with a twist. Plans we make go up in a puff of dust, because life – more often than not – has other plans. Maybe our path is supposed to be far more challenging. For us to grow and learn from past mistakes we were only vaguely aware we were making. Maybe reality checks need to hit us with the force of a raging tsunami, tearing us up and away by the roots, so we can reawaken to what’s truly important, move forward, and build a better foundation, forever being more aware and appreciative of what we have been blessed with.

The Life Of A Show Diver: Part 1

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Once you have worked underwater, you’re forever changed. It never lets you go. Every day, every minute, I am longing to dive again, to immerse myself, to ride exhilarating currents, to marvel at the beauty of underwater existence.
After working for many years as an instructor and guide in the Indian Ocean, I came to work in an entirely different environment: In ‘The House of Dancing Water’ in Macau. It was magic of a different kind, yet just as breathtakingly beautiful. In my latest article for TheatreArtLife I am giving you a first glimpse of what it was like to work there as a show diver…

Being Grateful

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Lately, life has run away with me a bit. Too many things happening all at once… some of them rather surprising and turbulent. Yet again, I was reminded to never be sure of anything. Everything can change in a heartbeat. We can lose and gain all we hold dear from one second to the next. I guess, the universe felt it had to shake me awake a bit, “Hey little bi-ped, don’t get too self-assured, don’t take things for granted. I’m am lending you some moments of happiness. Enjoy them while they last.” So I am trying to do just that. A friend of mine said a while ago, he copes with life by being grateful for everything. He is grateful for all the good that comes to him. But he is also grateful for all the blows life deals out, because they, too, teach him, and shape him into a unique, continuously growing human being… and he uses whatever cards life has in store for him to nurture his creativity and be productive.
I am indeed grateful for many things. I’m grateful for all the love and friendship I’ve been lucky to experience so far. I’m grateful for comical moments like these, when our little boy Nacho stubbornly stares me down at breakfast in hopes of getting that little piece of croissant. I am grateful and I am hopeful.

Which Way To Go…

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I’d love to hear your honest opinion:
While writing the first draft of my second book, it’s becoming clear that I need to make a decision whether it should include me as a character or not.
As you might know already, the book will be a collection of stories about the animal companions I’ve shared my life with and how they have inspired me and helped me grow as a human being.
It will focus on moments when these animals and I forged a special bond, when each of them taught me something… about them, about life and, in turn, about myself.
At the moment, I am not quite sure how to proceed with the overall concept. See, because the animal stories are connected to my life I am not sure if I should tie in my being transgender or not. In a way it has no real relevance to my friendship and experiences with these animals. But of course first a little girl is together with those animals and over the course of time she turns out to actually be a boy. As the years pass and other animals come into my life, we go from “she” to “he”.
Somehow it wouldn’t be quite truthful to refer to myself as “he” as a little kid when I didn’t yet consciously comprehend who I truly was.

I feel there are two ways of writing this book:
1) If I don’t want being transgender to become a theme in this book at all, I need to create a fictional character, just any kid who grows up with those animals and learns from them. Then it’ll be rather fiction than non-fiction.
2) I leave it as a book telling the story of my animals and me. The book will focus on the animal characters of course. But it will then be a semi-autobiographical piece as well. And it will be necessary to somehow gently add being transgender… (or will it?) … to be as authentic as possible.

I am totally torn, because I don’t want to be stereotyped in the future or even now as a “transgender author”. But I am also aware I have powerful things to say that can potentially make a difference. I have a unique view of the world which maybe I should simply own up to. Then again I’ve always seen myself as “not just transgender”, but as a human being who is the sum of his experiences. All my life I’ve fought stereotypes and felt that it is mostly our obsession with labelling other people and ourselves that creates the most trouble for humanity and prevents inclusion.

So what to do? Any thoughts dear friends and readers? I won’t hold you to it. I could just really do with some honest input and gut feelings from people who can still see the wood for the trees.
Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts with me either here in open discussion or in a PM! xoxo

Trust Your Children

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Two of the most common questions people ask me are: “When did you know?” and “How did you know?” In a way, I always knew. Even as a three-year old child I instinctively thought of myself as male. My body was female, but I knew I was a boy. This was no clearly defined thought but rather pure instinct, a state of being. Whenever I went somewhere new, I seized the opportunity and immediately introduced myself to the other kids as “Stefan” instead of “Stefanie”.

Over the years, like all of us growing up, I was told who I was supposed to be. Thankfully, and due to all the many tantrums I threw, my parents did let me wear boys clothing at least. I remember each time my mom sent me into the ladies room, I wanted to rather go to the “boys”. Without fail, as soon as I walked into the “ladies”, the flustered females I encountered wanted to throw me out because from the looks of me they thought I was a boy. I secretly loved this, but didn’t really consciously understand why it gave me so much satisfaction.

After puberty, when the Internet took off and I had access to more information, I finally read about transgender people. The fog lifted and I began to consciously understand who I truly was. The mosaic pieces of my childhood fell into place.

There are different kinds of knowledge. There is knowledge based on instinct and emotion. Our souls leading the way… And then there is knowledge based on reflection, education, experience, and comparing ourselves to others…

From own experience, I can only encourage all of you: trust your children. Even if they have no way to put into words yet what they are feeling, they know who they are from a very early age. Be their safety net, love them no matter what, let them be true to themselves, and let them reach for their very own stars!

The Odyssey of Publishing my 1st Book

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In my latest article on TheatreArtLife, I share how and why I ended up self-publishing Paralian. What else can you do when your first publisher dies, the second gets arrested, and the big ones you dream about are not interested in a no-name like you. I imagined I’d show up at their doorstep and one of them would surely make me an offer, if only I pitched my book well enough… Of course it’s not that easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is. The truth is, I’ll have to keep on writing good books. Then maybe, if I really work my butt off, one day I’ll find a literary agent who believes in my work. And then, hopefully, this agent will find me a publisher who will say, “Yay! Thumbs up!” and will be interested in long-term cooperation…
Read the full article here.

One Fish At A Time

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So much is happening, so many things to think about and organize, focussing on writing my second book has been hard. It’s tough enough as it is, finding time during regular day job days, but even on my days off I have been distracted lately. Every morning, I get up with the best intentions, but then stuff needs to be done, I think, overthink, and get angry at myself for not being able to do it all, not being stronger. I lie awake at night, dreaming and plotting. When I wake up my thoughts are already racing, months ahead of the present…
I miss my wife who is working on a cruise ship on the other side of the world. When she is with me, I am truly home. It seems writing and creating is something I do best when the words flow from a source of deep happiness and belonging.
I miss you so much my love.
I tell myself to get a grip, take things one fish at a time, be disciplined, concentrate, and keep on writing no matter what. Only to put so much pressure on myself that it again becomes almost impossible to focus on the task at hand. I need to find a balance between letting go and being dedicated to my dream. I need to relax and trust myself. Trust that I will finish this book, even if not within the time frame I have set for myself… because art is not an emergency… and life happens.
Better to write well and take all the time I need, instead of writing obsessively fast, ending up with something I know I could have done better. Still, today, after pouring my heart out to you all, I will take a shot at chapter nine of seventeen…