Since you asked, here’s the story behind my move to Berlin.
Grab a glass of wine, it’s a long one.
A few years ago, let’s say, beginning of 2012, I was living in a beautiful brownstone apartment in Brooklyn, NY, with a dishwasher, basement, and private backyard (for my NYers you’ll know what a gem I had found… plus it had the best shower in the world). I had a fledgeling chocolate company with celebrity clients, a coaching client who I had just helped to receive a half million dollars in start up funding (which I had agreed to take on a partnership role in his company), a thriving social life, and perfectly comfortable romantic relationship which I saw as my ‘forever.’ On the outside it looked all figured out. And, for the most part, felt that way in the day to day. The problem was that it felt figured out, it lacked my physical body… I was choosing to build my life mentally, overriding the aching gut feelings and lack of connection or passion.
Thankfully, and at the time earth shatteringly, it all came crashing down with the first domino: the boyfriend left… then days later, the start up fell apart. The chocolates were still chugging along, but I had no energy left for this, so it too, went to the shelf. My coaching clients also at this time were ending programs. As one of my best gals put it, “You hire a housekeeper to come in while you’re at work, you leave it’s dirty, you come home it’s clean. Perhaps that’s exactly what the Universe is doing for you now.” This advice I took quite literally… I had to get out of my house (structure, normal every day, old ways of thinking).
I looked at what I had. An apartment (that broke my heart every minute to be in since it looked like ‘we’ still lived there but he never came home, yet luckily it was beautiful enough to gain a hefty fee on Airbnb). I had friends. I had creativity. I once had a tremendous adventurous spirit.
I put it out there that I was ready for something new. I did the requisite healing and therapy work on myself. Was now able to see the gifts in this situation, to feel the ultimate love in being released from a relationship that was not serving either of our highest good, to feel the love of my friends and family as I became a seeker with eyes, heart and mind wide open. I became very grateful, not resentful of this new opportunity to truly choose what I wanted and where I was going. But, mostly I saw this as a chance to try this differently.
There had been times in the past when I was at a similar crossroads whether through loss of loved ones or loss of dreams, and hopefully this time I have learned the lesson here. Rather than reacting in fear, pain, numbness, distraction, or anger… I chose to feel it. Feel it all, thank it for allowing me the contrast to the amount of joy I can experience. I let it out in emotionally healthy ways (as confirmed by a professional) so that I could just feel it once, let it move through me and move on.
And, I took to the road. I did yoga in Nicaragua, swam in pools in Florida, drove a convertible with my mom on a roadtrip of the Eastern US, spent time in Boston (by now I had begun seeing clients again, via Skype), ate delicious food in Los Angeles, and was dazzled by the ocean around San Francisco. I was ready to come home to New York.
At which point, the Universe, that tricky devil, took this safety net out from under me. My landlord found my Airbnb post, threatened me with legal action, and I had to get out.
Okay Universe, well played. I had said I was open. I was ready for signs, I was listening. I would do as directed. So, again, rather than fighting this with my brain… I went with what my heart was telling me was right. This was the push I needed to get to the next level.
So, I put all of my belongings in storage. Spent August at the beach in New Hampshire.
Here’s the thing with listening to signs… it can be hard to trust them. It can feel a bit weird to believe them. And when they are telling you to do something like move across the world to a city you’ve never been to or even considered going to before… it really can feel like you’ve gone a bit crazy. But, that’s what I was receiving… BERLIN loud and clear. Through people I would meet, books, magazines, tv shows (International House Hunters, Berlin episode), topped off with a phone call from a long lost friend inviting me to stay with her at her place… in Berlin. Okay, I’m listening. I’m open. Why not, at the very least I get a nice vacation and visit with my old pal.
It felt risky, exciting, fully of potential, possibility, excitement. 5 days later I was on a plane.
The city captured me immediately, but it’s a common story with this place as my friend shared. She said, the Visa was nearly impossible as they need to prove there is no one else in the European Union that can do what you do, so you’re not taking a job away. And we’re in the midst of this economic crisis… blah, blah, blah. Whatev. I extended my stay, rented a great apartment (on Craigslist this time), and if this place was meant to be for me it would work out. I had put my trust in this process and had full faith (and curious interest in this experiment) that something would happen. It had to.
So, I went to the Foreign Visa office, with my German speaking Health Insurance Agent who agreed to help me with this process as I could not speak or understand any German at all, and they will not speak English with you. I had my documents, my business plans, my financial projections, copies of my diplomas, etc. I had planned to move my chocolate business here as well as coaching. I felt very prepared. Germans love chocolate after all. And they love documents.
The lovely gal at the first window looked through all of my papers. Considered my options, made some hushed conversation with my German proxy, and they quickly decided since I had gone to art school, I would apply for an Artist/Freelancer Visa. While my documents were in order, it would take 6+ months for them to decide if they wanted my business. I could be an Artist if I came back on Monday with 4 letters from people saying they wanted to see my art. Visa immediately, on the spot. Game on Deutschland.
So, I said yes. I could always go home.
Well played, Universe. So now, still 2 yrs later, I am living in Europe. Connecting with a bit of family heritage. Learning a new language and culture. MAKING ART to satisfy the creator in me that I had packed away long long ago. Connecting with others who also wish to make big leaps in their life through my coaching/mentorship programs. Working from my laptop in a way that allows me the freedom and flexibility I have always dreamed of. And, to top it off have found the relationship that truly fuels me and fills me with love in a way which I never imagined possible.
My life has formed in a way that I really would not have dared dream possible. Honestly. What it took was for me to ‘get out of my own way’ about it and trust that it was unfolding in the way that served me and the world the best. It’s far better than I could have imagined, and continues to get better and better. In every category.
So, for me, that’s why Berlin. Berlin chose me. And continues to choose me again and again. Berlin allows me to be in and of the world in the way that I wish. With freedom, creativity, flexibility, and possibility.
I hope that you, too, find your Berlin.