My dear grandma Frida. In the picture, I am sixteen and Grandma is seventy-four. She was the steady rock of my childhood. Frida survived two world wars. The love of her life got run over by a train, shortly after they married each other and had a child. In the very conservative Germany of the 1930s, she raised the little girl all by herself, then found another man who was very kind to her, married her, and gave her another child – my father.
Her daughter was taken from her due to a surgeon’s error. He was supposed to simply take out the appendix of the young woman, but in the process cut her liver, causing her untimely death.
Frida’s then only son married a woman who, due to her many neuroses, made my Grandma’s life a living hell for many years to come.
No matter what happened, however, Grandma stayed strong, positive, supportive, with unshakeable good humor and compassion. She was my sanctuary. No matter how much trouble I had, getting accepted by my peers, Grandma let me know without a doubt, I was a good person and worthy of being loved.
In her eighties, Frida broke her hip bone and in a gradual decline lost her good health. One evening, we sat together and looked out the window at the full moon. Already only skin and bones, barely able to lift her fork, she gazed out the window with a smile on her face and said, “Isn’t it a beautiful world we live in?”
My amazing Grandma, her strong heart and soul, will always remain my greatest inspiration.
Very early on, I started writing short stories and poems. It seems, I have started writing my first book at precisely the right moment… and in the process am finding meaning. I love how writing makes me happy, while at the same time enabling me to give something back to the world. It’s for life. I don’t think I will ever stop writing now.
The ocean – vast, energetic, calming, countless shades of turquoise and blue, salty, invigorating, and simply enchanting. For many years, I had been less than beautiful whenever I immersed myself, looking much like a drowning poodle. When I finally became an Advanced Open Water diver, something clicked. In a matter of days, I went from wearing nine pounds of weight to zero. I will never forget the freedom of being truly weightless, silently gliding through the depths. In my room, I was greeted by a whale shark cake. One of my best friends in Switzerland had contacted the hotel in the Maldives and asked them to bake it for me. What a beautiful gesture of support from afar! I ran to the kitchen to organize plates and soon my fellow diving students, our instructor, and I celebrated our success in style.
Sometimes we meet people for only moments, and they inspire us our whole lives. In 2004, I met the gentleman in the red sweater at a birthday party. He was the retired dad of the birthday girl, and had just hit seventy years of age. Being a true Swiss mountain boy, he had never left his home country until he reached retirement. Not long after his last day at work, when he was sixty-five, he informed his family, he would go on a trip. The adventurous senior packed a small backpack and took a plane to Sydney. Not speaking a single word of English, he followed a group of teenage backpackers to a hostel. An idea formed in his mind, and a few days later he asked them, if they wanted to buy an old car together and drive through Australia for a few months. They could help him get around. He had been a mechanic his entire life. In exchange for their help, he would make sure their car survived the trip. They all ended up exploring Australia for many months, in a rusty old van, having the time of their life together. During our short conversation, my friend’s charming dad had us all in awe with his tale. Whenever I am scared to face the unknown, I remember this friendly, positive, old man in his bright red sweater, and off I go, happily plunging ahead towards new horizons.
In 2003, I asked one of my friends to transform my entire apartment into a work of art. I gave him the poem “The Road not taken” and trusted his imagination. My friend came up with an intriguing graffiti, transforming the walls of my entire home into a colorful wonderland. His visual story culminated in this piece, on the living room wall. Robert Frost’s poem crossed my path when I was just fifteen. I believe in the road not taken. I believe in seizing the moment and exploring life. Sometimes great, sometimes hard, I wouldn’t want to miss any of the experiences I was fortunate to make so far.
Being a writer is fascinating. At first I was only able to write in total quiet and isolation. The slightest distraction threw me off balance. Now, I am more focused. I am getting more done. My writing is developing and I can see a stark contrast between the first few chapters I wrote and the subsequent ones…
My dream is to keep writing, get ever better, and hopefully in a few years be able to live full time as a writer. There is so much I can imagine writing about. I love reading fiction, but concerning my own writing, I am more interested in reality – people’s lives, struggles, and courage.
My notebook accompanies me wherever I go – either in electronic form on my iPhone, or in the form of Hemingway’s favorite notebooks. Thoughts come and go, some of them seemingly important… but if I don’t capture them immediately, they slip my mind as quickly as they materialized seconds earlier. Sleeping in, and cuddling with my loved ones in the morning helps to get me off to a good start. I have incredibly vivid dreams since I started writing.
A few hours of reading a book follow. Being a writer, I am still the crazed bookworm I always was, easily devouring three books a week.
My own first book is slowly shaping up. I am writing parallel on my 2nd and 3rd drafts. It’s a good life and I am profoundly happy.
Homelessness has always been a blessing and a curse. Growing up homeless in body, family, and country I often felt a great longing inside of me, a loneliness beyond words. No amount of time spent with people could extinguish that. Over the years much of my nomadic existence was a search for home, a search to belong. In the end home was inside of me, and in the people around me who made a difference… and home was in the ocean. No other place, no matter how comfortable I felt was ever truly home. It is the ocean, the endless shades of turquoise and blue that slow my heartbeat to a confident, peaceful pace. I cannot think of anything more invigorating and soothing than diving beneath the surface, feeling the Big Blue with all my senses. Then I move on, in search of new encounters, too curious about the world to be able to remain at peace. Eventually peace will have to be inside of me so I can carry it with me wherever I go. I would say I am about halfway there…