It was interesting: As soon as we had crossed the Greek border, Luca and Lou wanted to interview me about the Gods’ names. Funny enough, this is just what they had chosen to learn about with Anton! Anton is their online learning tool. It consists of a lot of questions about all kinds of subjects, and distributes stars and crowns when you get the answers right. They decide what they want to learn about. So right then and right there, it was Jupiter, Minerva, Venus and the other Gods. Which gave me the opportunity to translate the God’s Latin names into their Greek equivalent – after all, that’s what I was interested in as a kid and thus remember until today.
Learning by experience also means that we visit Mount Olympus and recall that this was Zeus’ seat. We visit the Oracle of Delphi and learn that Apollo killed the dragon Python there who then turned into a snake. We read the tales of Daedalus and Icarus, and of King Minos of Crete, and of Theseus killing the Minotaurus (brutal, they are!). And of Theseus’ father Aegeus who thought that his son had been killed and threw himself into the sea – which is why the Aegean Sea is called the Aegean Sea. The very sea that we are looking at right now...
Luca and Lou are eager to hear the historic sagas, and to learn with the tools on the iPad and laptop. And then suddenly, they throw all electronic devices on their beds and run off to explore the camping site we’re staying at. Because they regulate their physical activity like they regulate their interest in learning: All by themselves.
The tools Luca and Lou currently use for learning:
We have not seen much of Albania yet. In fact, we crossed the border over from Montenegro, bought a SIM card in a small shop that only took cash (2'600 LEK) and directly moved on to Lake Shkodra Resort – a camping site that „meets the highest standards“ (see picture above). Meaning: it is better than what you usually get in the country – tourists will be pleased. We offered ourselves a "comfortable" start.
We heard a lot of Albania so far. It is supposed to be beautiful. At the same time, we have been warned that there is waste laying around everywhere, even at the most splendid spots. People from Montenegro consider Albanians to be really poor. And to have a very strange language. THAT is true! When I asked the sales person in the first shop I entered what „thank you“ means in Albanian, she said something unpronouncable that seemed to be the elf language spoken in Middle-Earth! The places are called SHKODËR and QARK FIER and GIJROKASTËR and MELGUSHE. From Slovenja to Montenegro, I managed to understand quite a bit thanks to some chunks of Russian I learned thirty years ago. But here? No chance! It is completely fascinating. But it does not make me feel any more at home.
This morning, I was taking a shower. Again, something inside of me was glad that there were such good sanitary installations. And then I realized that this was exactly where separation begins: in our heads, with a certain arrogance, with me thinking I am different or at least used to something different. Just then, I heard the local staff cleaning the showers chatting away. Somebody laughed at something someone else had said. And it struck me again: We all laugh at the same things! We all have the same hopes and fears! We ARE the same!
The world is inclusive. We just all too often forget. Albania is a good place to remind me of that. I am open to everything we will experience in this unique spot on mother earth.
Learning by experience: Luca’s and Lou’s - and our- biology lessons consist of determining plants by picture with the help of an app (Pl@antNet).
We have learned so far: The tree carrying banana-like fruits is a magnolia. What looked like an olive bush really is a plant named pittosporum tobira nana (or Japanese Mock Orange). And today, Marian made the aquaintance of a real Paulownia tree – he only knew the wood so far, using it to build the furniture in our mobile home (well, in his first attempt... We ended up using bamboo – which warps, too).
Nature is a huge miracle!
Since our program should be done on an empty stomach condition, we mostly do our practices in the morning. I prefer to go outside or to the driver’s cabin, while Karin does her asanas on the floor of our mobile home.
The children are used to our habits and keep on snoring even during our AUMs. Let’s hope the neighbours can also get back to sleep after wondering about the strange exotic bird in their surroundings.
To a world full of love, light and laughter!
PS: If you wonder what kind of Yoga we are practicing: We follow the programs of Sadhguru, which starts with Shambhavi Mahamudra Kryia, tought in the frame of the Inner Engineering programs. If you feel like trying it out for yourself - we have each received gift certificates to give away to people who want to join the Inner Engineering Online course.
There is a strong wind outside.
Whenever there was inner movement or turmoil in our family during this trip, the weather outside would reflect this. We had our worst drama in a night of very heavy rain. On every critical day or night, when we felt tense and there was a new development going on, I remember exeptionally strong winds shaking our mobile home, shaking our very life.
„As within, so without. As without, so within.“ This universal law applies to everyhing. Also to the weather.
Well, it’s not a drama right now. Things have calmed down very much. We deal in a more conscious way with our inner disturbances. The phase I (Karin) am in right now is a phase of disorientation. I just came back from a week in Switzerland, where I took a dive into my "old" world, worked, met some friends and enjoyed that very much. Now I feel like in empty space. As we drive along the roads, I keep asking myself „What the heck am I doing here?“.
When you are on a two-week-holiday near the seaside, you enjoy the sun, the fun, diving in the sea, you try out new activities like stand-up-paddling, you visit the national park nearby, it is all new and exciting. When you have seen and done it all, you go back home.
When you are on a seemingly limitless trip, there also is a moment of „seen and done it all“. You do not feel like swimming in the sea anymore. The next national park does not exite you very much. Visit a museum? Get out of it! But then you do not go back home. You ARE home. And yet, you are not. Disorientation.
Before we left, a friend in Bern told me that there would be a crisis occurring around the eighth or ninth week on tour. That we would question everything and ourselves then. And that once we passed these critical weeks, we could go on forever.
I have learnt that phases of disorientation offer all possibilities. Every direction is open to you. They are not easy to stand. But they lead you to the next level. Quite curious how this will look like.
Another question we hear – or see in the eyes of the people we’re talking to – is: What does this journey do with your family and your relationship?
We have not felt ready to answer this question so far, since it was not clear to us either. It is still not clear, it’s still work in progress. Yet, we now realize there is a development and where it could lead to.
Even before the journey started, I (Karin) knew it would be tough to be so close to each other for such a long time. Therefore, I did not only look forward to the trip. Marian, on the other hand, was longing to go as soon as possible, expecting it would be an experience full of joy and adventure.
These two views collided in the beginning. It WAS tough. We had days and whole weeks when we fought and argued with each other. The energy was tense most of the time. Marian thought I should be more involved, help more, have more fun. I thought he should better understand the immense process we were all going through, have less expectations and see that I did my best all day long. We basically blamed the other for the mood and the misery we were in.
The climax was a night when I seriously felt our relationship would break apart, that it would not stand the pressure. We talked long this night. And this night, something happened. The next day felt like a fresh start. We kind of let go of accusations and expectations. Marian and I both accepted how things were for the other one. We took – and gave each other – the freedom to feel what we felt. We allowed ourselves – and the other – to have different desires. Marian accepted that I wanted to be free enough to feel and behave like I wanted to. That I wanted to spend time in Switzerland when I had professional assignments that required my physical presence. I accepted that Marian had felt imprisoned living in the city and the apartment we lived in before. I accepted that I served him as a trigger to feel that he had to do everything by himself.
Being triggered – feeling the feelings – taking the chance to look at old wounds and fears – taking responsibility – owning it: That is the cycle it took for us to consciously overcome the crisis. We know there will be different phases, worse and better times to come. Yet, we now feel that our relationship gets stronger as we go along. This trip is like a steamer for us: unprocessed wounds and issues from the past show up faster and stronger than before. Sometimes, the steam is too hot and the emotions explode. But then again, we also develop in fast forward.
What about Luca and Lou? Well, they mirror us. They are tense when they feel we’re tense. They are relaxed when they feel we’re relaxed. At the same time, they do not seem to be affected too much by the drama. It’s like they understand – not always taking it easy, but always easily forgetting and overcoming even the most dramatic scenes. They know. I feel our children will not have to go through the same cycles of being hurt, being triggered and being healed like we do. Good for them!
And as days go by now, they are more and more filled with joy and adventure.
Did I really write in the last blog that it helps children to be busy when they have a pool, a playground or other facilities around? Well, get out of it!
Yesterday, we arrived at a (or probably the only) free camp in Croatia – a cozy little place where you are free to park for the night, with "nothing" around than pure nature. As soon as we stopped, Luca said that his Forschergeist – researcher’s spirit – was awakened: He and Lou eagerly got out of the car to put their special researcher’s pants on. They took their compass, their magnifying glass, a rope, red disinfectant (which Mia sure needed for her knee!) and plaster with them. And off they went, exploring the surroundings. And they sure detected an x-amount of riddles, traces and mysterious spots!
Children do not need anything to play. Their imagination creates the greatest stories. How could I forget in my temporarily limited mode of thinking!
One of the goals of our journey is to get to know other places, people and cultures. Right now, we mainly get to know other places. It is tougher than expected to meet local people and their traditions.
Here on the Croatian island Krk, for example, wild camping is forbidden. There is no agritourismo like in Italy, i.e. local farmers that rent their place out and cook authentic meals for their guests. So we mostly check into camping sites. We have the choice between small, family led camping sites and the big camping chains that offer all conveniences. Here, Luca and Lou are more likely to find other children to play with. Or they have playgrounds, pools and other activities that are interesting for them – which gives Marian and me some space for ourselves and some time to work. When you are so close to each other all of the time, these moments are pure gold! The contact with locals, of course, equals zero. Big camping sites are Little Germany at that time of the year. Which makes us ask ourselves whether we are really traveling the world or just making a very prolonged holiday.
Right now, it feels like the latter. I sit here with my latte macchiato with a splendid view of the calm sea. Instead of feeling guilty, I consciously decide to enjoy this to the max. There will be other countries, other seasons and other opportunities to feel closer to land and people.
We have just arrived at a small, calm and beautiful agritourism close to Punat on the island Krk. I should feel great. We have finally arrived at a campground that I like. However, I do not. And I feel that I want to write why.
I was sitting in the shade, chilling, going through my Facebook feed and reading lots of shocking things – today mainly about the burning Amazon. I feel hurt, hopeless and sorry for my kids. I know that I am supposed to focus my attention on the positive in order to create the positive. However, I am not able right now. There are two actions the world needs the most right now: raising consciousness and planting trees!
I want my kids to enjoy nature today as well as in ten years. If we continue the way we are doing now, this will be impossible. It feels ironic for me to think about the feedbacks I often receive, telling people that we travel with the money others save for their retirement. If it comes to that topic, we think about a lot of financial measures to have a life in the future after we will stop working. However, if we do not change our impact on the environment, our biggest concern won’t be our pension fund but enough air to breathe, clean water to drink and fresh food to eat.
No one – neither the rich nor the poor – will be able to breathe, drink or eat money. We will not reach our retirement (if we need to retire at all) – definitely not our kids. In fact, the best investment we can do is to plant trees. If we invest half of our savings in planting trees, this ensures that we can at least use and enjoy the other half.
Let’s go ahead, for our planet, our kids and the generations to come. Let’s inspire, create the new - passing the Trumps and Bolsonaros of this world.
We put our website address on our mobile home for a reason: We invite people to inquire about us, our journey and the background of our journey. We want to answer questions. And questions there are! One of the most frequent ones is: Don’t your children have to go to school?
No. For a year or more, Luca and Lou are off school. And they learn a lot in that time: They get to know other countries, other people, other cultures, other ways of life. They expand their horizon.
So what about the school curriculum? Well, we see to it that Luca and Lou regularly write, read and do maths: They write postcards to their friends at home. They read brochures of the places we visit. They calculate how much the coffee we drink at the Croatian beach bar would cost in Switzerland (14 Kuna : 7 = 2 Swiss Francs). This allows them at the same time to learn that other countries have different currencies and different prices. Also, they are allowed to google every question that occurs to them during the trip. Where are we? Why did they fight here during World War One? Why is the sea salty? Is the huge butterfly we saw really a butterfly or a moth? What is the difference between the two?
The only challenge lies in our own reactions that sometimes occur. When we worry, for example, when 21:7 results in 4 or is impossible to calculate for Luca in the first place. These situations only lead to one thing: Us reflecting ourselves, our expectations and our own conditioning. We learn to let go of these.
To learn from experience and be lead by interest: This is our motto. That means that we consciously do not follow the regular school curriculum. The German neurobiologist Gerald Hüther expresses exactly our philosophy when he says:
„You could ask yourself what is more important for your child: To have an education that helps him or her to live a happy life? Or an education that helps him or her to be successful? That is not the same! People who are extremely sucessful are often presented to us as shining examples. But few of them succeed in staying successful for a long period of time. (...)
So parents have to decide: If their child should be successful, they need a good school education. If their child should be happy, they need a good formation. This can not be learnt at school, but in daily family life.“ (You can read the highly informative interview here in German.)
In our view, leading a successful life is leading a happy life. In this sense, we close this blog with another quote by Prof. Hüther: „The most important task parents have today is to save their children from the pressure that is put upon them by society.“
We are doing our best.
PS: The canton of Bern, where we lived, leaves parents the responsibility for their children. It has home schooling friendly regulations. If a family is on the road for more than three months, like in our case, things get even easier: All you do is write a letter to the headmaster and sign out of school. That's what we did. Yes, we were lucky. But honestly: Stricter regulations would not have stopped us. Where there is a will, there is a way.
PPS: In the beginning of this year, I was happy to interview Prof. Gerald Hüther on the power of words and an appreciative communication between parents and their children. You can watch it here (in German).