2020 was a crazy year for everyone. I took this crazy year, and made an equally crazy decision for me and my family - I would take all the disruption of COVID 19 and make it work for us. After getting put through the months of lockdown, home office, home schooling, selling my company and a drawn out virtual post-merger integration - all from my living room table - I knew I was not willing to do it the same way again.
We are a smart, courageous family with a lot of advantages - why are we 'stuck' in this small city apartment, with no family, no yard, no nature? If we get sick, will our chosen community here be strong enough to support us and take care of us? Who would risk their health to watch our kids? COVID 19 was a life changing event for the whole world, I was sure it was a positive development towards slowing down, returning to values, going inward. I was sure I was ready for it, and was the kind of mindful introvert who would thrive.
But I did not. A strange thing happened: I did not turn to yoga, or meditation or any of my known supports. I threw myself more and more into my work, into hours of videocalls - and got more and more worn down. I watched family and friends flee to their holiday homes in the woods, saw small gatherings of people, noticed people taking up new hobbies, building things - with no small trace of envy.
My crazy efficiency-driven mind asked: how can I make it work better for me, for us?
I needed a strategy, and this is how it went: When disaster strikes - I will be ready. I will be somewhere with space to move, with the possibility to go outside, with trees and grass and water close by. I will be close to the people who matter most and I will have a set up that allows everyone in my family to thrive. And this led me to Canada.
To back up, I'm from Canada, but have been living in Berlin - in the same apartment! - for sixteen years. This was where I fell in love with my husband, where we made the nest for our babies, cuddled on the couch, threw birthday parties, dinner parties, Nikolaus parties. But our family grew and the apartment did not. And after months of home office, I could not stay there anymore. We were all in each others hair, and literally climbing the walls.
My husband and I chose Berlin for work, for friends, for techno music - but had an agreement that we would at least once, spend a full year in Canada with our two boys. This 'gap-year' was always getting pushed off toward an unknown time in the future, mostly for work reasons. The last around it was "after you sell your company Amber."
Then one day, this thought hit me like a ton of bricks: Wait a minute - I did sell my company! Wait a minute - we are all working from home anyways. Wait a minute - my mom could help with homeschooling. Wait a minute - we could get a house, a real house! Of course, it would be a big change for the kids to leave their friends, switch schools and learn in English, but it wouldn't get any easier as they get older. What better year than this one, where everything is all mixed up anyway?
As soon as the thought hit me, I knew it was the right move at the right time.
Because I was sure, I could lead my family to follow me. This required a lot of trust on all sides - I had to trust that my intuition was right and things would unfold in a positive way. In order to time it well with school semesters, we had to move fast - that often risking order, certainty and structure - everything we knew - for a lot of hypotheticals. Could I shift my business focus to the North American market? Where would we live? Where would the kids go to school - could they get in? Could my husband as a non-resident, even get in? What would we do about a car? What would we do with our apartment here? All our stuff? Would they shut down air travel after we booked our tickets?
We tried to lock down all these answers before we took the jump. But in the end, there was so much we could not solve before we left so we agreed to step into uncertainty, with the belief that things would fall into place, and the universe would support us.
For efficiencies in cost and time and mental load - we decided to travel light. That meant, packing up most of our things and putting them into storage, and travelling just with the suitcases we took on the plane.
We knew at the time, that it was crazy. It cost so much effort to plan and organize, that I sometimes wanted to give up and call it off. But this voice inside me kept me going, reminding me that my job was simply to recognize that this was my time. And so, in the middle of COVID 19, with daily changes in travel restrictions we booked four tickets to Canada and stepped into uncertainty.