Just spent an inspiring and heart-warming weekend visiting relatives. In between vivid conversations and laughter, I also took some moments to time-travel through their extensive family photo library. It was wonderful to dive into old family history as far back as 1908. To visually follow the path of my grandma, see how she lived her life… from huddling in bomb shelters in 1942 to attending christenings and weddings of the next generations throughout the years. I also saw my dad growing up in these photographs. His kind personality already shining through on the yellowed photographic paper…
At times, I miss my grandma so much (even now, 18 years after her death) it becomes hard to breathe. Frida had so much strength. She gave without boundaries. Her genuine laughter brought sunshine and happiness to everyone around her. No matter how tough her life was at times (and it was damn tough, believe me), she gave her heart to everyone around her. To this day, she is the source of my strength and my greatest inspiration. My uncle told me this weekend that Frida used to say “If I had cried every time I decided to laugh instead, I’d have been in deep trouble.” I still need to mull this sentence over for a while… for there is some profound truth in her simple words.
In the years to come, I am planning to write at least one book about Frida’s life. I copied a good portion of my relatives’ family photo archive. It will help me to remember my grandma more vividly, not just through my eyes but also through the eyes of others… and to weave all the things I’ve heard about her into a story you and I both will enjoy reading and remembering.
Here is a bit of exciting news: I’ve been invited to the ‘Aeschbacher’ talk show on Swiss TV!
For all of you who want to watch the show, tune in on SRF 1 at 22:10 on Sunday, the 15th of April, 2018.
The show will be in Swiss German, but hey, it might be worth hazarding a look even if you don’t understand the language 😊.
It’s been one of my dreams to be invited by Kurt Aeschbacher. His show has been around for decades and is still going strong. I’ve always loved his integrity, his kindness, compassion, and his ability to be confrontational with respect, thoughtfulness, and style. He obviously cares about the human beings behind the stories he presents.
The theme of our show will be “wie neu geboren”, which translates into “like being born again”. A perfect fit for me, plus the other 3 guests have fascinating life journeys to share with you as well.
Ahhh, I have to admit, I am giddy with excitement for this dream to come true. I am deeply honoured to have been invited and am looking forward to my chat with Mr. Aeschbacher.
Now I only hope I won’t look like a zombie on national TV, since my cats have been waking me up at 5am every morning for the past few weeks, and the dark rings under my eyes are beginning to take over my entire face.
In case you miss the talk show while it’s airing on TV, you’ll be able to find it here later on under “Ausgestrahlte Sendungen”.
Change is life. And, for me, the thought of heading into the unknown is invigorating. I am ready to dive in once more, leave this safe harbor, to simply trust and see where life will lead me.
While selling and giving away our belongings, I am amazed yet again by how little I truly need when it comes to material possessions.
As the apartment becomes gradually more empty, the cats enjoy chasing each other through the now vast, open spaces and I treasure the freedom of a light load. I feel like I can breathe again, as well as focus more easily on what really matters.
I miss my wife and am looking forward to joining her soon on the other side of the planet. Until that day – in seven weeks – the cats and I will be glamping in front of our large windows overlooking the city of Zurich. I’ll gaze out over the rooftops and give a toast to this beautiful place where I have found home and friendship twice already.
It is spring! Finally!!! Now that the sun is back, birds are singing, and trees are blooming, I feel energized to the point of dancing down the street. I’d do cart wheels as well but am being held back by reason. No matter how bright the day, I’d still end up breaking my neck. The only time I can do acrobatics is when a cockroach flies into my face or I accidentally walk into a spider’s web.
I got my fair share of exercise nevertheless. For two days straight, I’ve been running around selling furniture to prepare for our impending move. Now I’m home, enjoying an evening of writing. And I’ve opened the windows wide… letting inspiration float right in… on those golden rays of sunshine.
A couple of weeks ago, I took part in the annual ‘LGBT Talents’ event in Paris. I was deeply honored to have been invited as one of the panel speakers for one of half a dozen inspirational workshops on offer that day. I love speaking at this kind of event. It makes me happy to be able to inspire. To be able to lend strength and support and let others know that, no matter how difficult the deck of cards we’ve been given, we can find our way through and nevertheless play a more than decent game of happiness and personal success. I have no recipes or perfect solutions. All I can do is lend my perspective and be authentic and honest in sharing my own – so far quite challenging and unique – life journey.
Our panel was fantastic. My fellow speakers Alexandra, Rica, and Thomas were engaging, positive, and truly themselves as well. I was delighted to meet them as we talked about “The Issues of the Lesser Known Letters” in LGBTQI+. All of us didn’t hide behind phrases. We were right out there – offering to the audience all of who we are.
My personal highlights of the day were, first, a keynote by Antonia Belcher who told us about her life and difficult transition of setting free the woman who had been hidden away and trapped inside her male body for decades. She told us about her amazingly supportive family. About her open-minded children. And about her wife, who had married Anthony many years ago, then decided to remain by her husband’s side after discovering and coming to terms with the fact that he was and had in fact always been Antonia. So they got married a second time. Former husband and wife now being wife and wife. Still dedicated to supporting each other and spending life together as they always had been, come what may. Call me an incurable romantic. I had tears in my eyes throughout Antonia’s tale. Not even so much because of the hardship she was gently describing, but rather because of her beautiful resilience and conscious decision to face life with positivity, love, compassion, and dignity.
My second highlight of the day was connecting with the workshops’ participants throughout the day. I met wonderful individuals and was inspired by their bravery and quest to be true to themselves. Thank you so much to the organizers of this event for an unforgettable, enriching day!
From 2005 to 2009, I divided my time between serving customers at the dive center and guiding them in the Big Blue. Being back in central Europe at the moment, I know more than ever that life is infinitely better the more ocean I have around me. Things shift back into perspective. And I am reminded of what is truly important. Apart from being a universe of boundless beauty and tranquility, underwater is also where I began to see more clearly…
Watching coral reef life became the perfect metaphor of human daily life. For example, tiny fish who defended their territory taught me how important it is to stand up for yourself no matter how giant the opposition may seem. The myriad of reef fish and other critters in all colors of the rainbow mirrored the infinite diversity of life on land… of human life… Nothing was perfect. Life was even cruel, unpredictable.. Yet to a neutral observer like me, hovering motionless only a few feet away, observing quietly, this was the most delicate and beautiful web of individuals I had ever seen.
Then, there was the interaction amongst divers. Developing a stronger sense of self first was crucial to being able to take care of others.
When I became an instructor, teaching underwater taught me even more about life. The SCUBA instructors’ mantra “stop, think, act” turned out to be great advice no matter the situation or environment. Because, when something goes wrong during a dive or in life, it’s never just one thing but a multitude of smaller and bigger difficulties and challenges that need to be addressed and navigated. Prioritizing is key. Step by little step, we remove one obstacle after another and what seemed insurmountable at first all of a sudden becomes manageable.
Yesterday, I was invited by the Zurich Insurance Group to give a presentation on diversity, inclusion, and transgender, combined with reading from my book Paralian. There are no quick fixes, no recipes, no instruction manuals. But I do believe there is nothing more valuable than personal experience. So that’s what I gave, as always striving to be straightforward and honest… and simply sharing my journey whilst leaving space for people to come to their own conclusions.
It was a great evening!
The organization was superb.The audience was delightful and the questions I was asked during the Q&A session were thought provoking. Thank you so much to my awesome audience, to Zurich Insurance Group, and to the PrideZ team in particular, for welcoming me with such warmth and enthusiasm. This was definitely a highlight for me as a public speaker and an event to be fondly remembered!