Requiem for a Certain Era

Published on October 30, 2006 by in Writing Coaching

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From: ” Hotel Rubschen Braunwald”
Sent: Fri, 20 Oct 2006 16:26
To: Tedd Determan

Salü Monique & Tedd,

Danke das Mail und Eueren Beitrag eine Suche nach einen Investor.
Doch, die ist jetzt vorbei, Heute haben wir den Vertrag abgeschlossen.
Das Rubschen geht jetzt in andere Hände und wir sind ab 01. November Privat.
Neueres wissen wir im Moment nicht. 

Viele liebe Grüsse aus Braunwald

Horst und Rosli,

My friend Tedd forwarded me this news the other day. “What?” Mieshelle asked, some time afterward, upon seeing my face. She admitted later that she thought someone had died. She wasn’t far off.

“Rubschen,” I said. “It’s sold.”

That’s all I needed to say to her. For readers, however, I will add the following deciphering: the email was addressed to one of my best friends and a Feroce entrepreneur coach, Tedd Determan, who lives in Washington, D.C. I was with Tedd, crashing a World Bank party in DC, when he met his future wife, Monique. This was about 1998. Later that year, I was delighted to be able to share with Tedd the Hotel Rubschen, and Braunwald, a village in the mountains in the canton of Glarus, Switzerland. Tedd fell in love too; there was more than enough to go around.

The authors of the email, Horst and Rosli Pfannenmueller, are — were —  the owners of the hotel. Onkel Horst, wise-cracking brother of my German mother and now a Swiss citizen, came to Switzerland when he was 17 to be an apprentice chef, and bought the hotel in the early 1970s. He is, until November, the virtuoso Michelin-starred chef of the Hotel Rubschen, and Tante Rosli is the Tasmanian Devil-like whirlwind of energy that handles —handled — everything else. For me, in a life full of moving from place to place, seldom to look back, and after a decade, in the 90s, of losing one German relative after another, the Hotel  Rubschen had, until now, held the distinction of being the longest continuing place of return in my life.

My aunt and uncle’s email was a reply to Tedd and Monique, who had once again written Onkel Horst and Tante Rosli, as part of Tedd’s efforts to find a buyer for the hotel whom we would know, as opposed to a buyer we would not. Efforts in which I did not participate. Why not? Perhaps because I wanted to allow my aunt and uncle to let go, in private, of the container in which their very lives had been lived. Perhaps because I had no ideas. Perhaps because denial is a sure way to avoid feeling pain and as long as I stayed out of it I could be largely unaware of anything troubling happening.

Rubschen, light of my life, grill of venison loins, My mountainous dream, my child-like self. Rrrrrub-schen. The tip of the tongue, to further paraphrase Nabokov, sputtering Teutonically on the palate till the R elides into the ub as preface to the schen so like the chen (I see at last) that makes diminutives of Germans’ beloveds. A secret I was always eager to share with my closest friends.

So often have I gone there and seen in the unchanging mirror of those mountains, those paths, that place, how I have changed and not changed. If I could bottle the optimism and good-feeling I have felt over and over, on every arrival, as I glide from train to funicular and then begin the gravelly walk from Braunwald village to the hotel, I would be a rich man, even if I was the only person ever to nip at the bottle, before secreting it back in my desk drawer.

I remember myself there as a young boy, scampering up boulders during walks, reveling in being likened to a goat. I remember driving there at ten, with German friend of the family Harry, who thought my mindless repetition of a sentence I’d spotted in his pfennig Westerns, Zum Teufel damit – “To hell with it!” was the height of hilarity, and I recall the pride I felt in being entrusted for two weeks with the job of bartender – bartender! I returned with cousin Mike at thirteen, the pictures (rather than my memory) showing us riding like princes on the electric cart, and capering about with my uncle, none of us of course aware that Mike had nine more years, seven of them good.

At sixteen, reading outside as I suntanned my vanity in the liegestuhle, falling in love with the waitress Claudia, notwithstanding the obstacle posed by the endearing mutton-chopped waiter Hermann, who watched me demonstrate Chinese push-ups in the restaurant, went into the kitchen, and returned rubbing his nose, his tiny black eyes gleaming. At twenty-two, I was just done with college, bracing for a very large change.

At twenty-six, I was back after the disappointment that was a federal judge I’d clerked for, writing almost non-stop the story of now-gone Mike and I, praying for cloudy days on which I could stay inside with my manhood and adventurousness unimpugned by my aunt, on better days solo-climbing in just a few hours the serrated symbol of Braunwald, Ortstock mountain, realizing quite late that the pretty young Portuguese woman, a seasonal worker at the ritzier Hotel Bellevue, a friend of the Portuguese who worked at Rubschen, was a lonely newlywed and had seen in an American an exotic glamour, even rescue.

I wrote a short story after this trip, my second. “An American at the Hotel Rubschen,” it’s called. The narrator is Jorge, one of two brothers who works at the Hotel Rubschen. He meets the eponymous American when Herr Pfannenmueller asks him to go down to Braunwald village to fetch his nephew, who has just come up on the funicular. It is raining, but the American declines the offer to ride in the electric car, insisting on the longed-for walk, knowing that in the morning “the mountains will come out to play”. The first half (or two-thirds?) of this paragraph is representative of the place, the rest the license of fiction:

The hotel was smartly dressed, like an obedient Swiss child, with maple-colored wood-leaf shingles and red storm shutters. There were two floors of rooms above the restaurant. On sunnier days the sonnenterrasse was full of hikers who lounged at tables in the shade of the umbrellas that now stood dormant in the rain, and children who ran around them, and dogs who collapsed to sleep beneath them with their sides heaving. The American was greeted with a happy red face from Herr Pfannenmueller, who had just left the kitchen and was still holding a handmixer from which batter slowly dripped, and with a great storm of energy by the aggressive Frau Pfannenmueller, who hugged him tightly and clucked her tongue and welcomed him to the Hotel Rubschen where, she said to him, “you can rest your broken heart.” I struggled to understand more of their German, but the bastard Swiss dialect, like most bastards, resisted closer inquiry. I watched the American’s sure gestures and wry smile and wondered what the others would think. Rita and Rui, who loved American rock singers, Joze, who preferred the bottom of his beer glass to social discourse, lovely Emilia, who so loved new things.

I never saw any of that summer’s Portuguese workers again, but each visit back proved that between the Portuguese and Rubschen there was a match made in heaven. I returned when I was thirty, taking a break from working unhappily in the law, accompanied by my supportive and patient friend Rachel; I recall feeling grateful when she cut short a hike to the green, snow-fed lake Oberblegisee, leaving me to a memorable experience of solitude as I sat by the lake in the fog, feeling I was looking at my life from a great height.
At thirty-one, there I was again with Tedd during my first Braunwald in the snow and my first torn-up knee too, and a few years later to watch Tedd and Monique consecrate that ground in marriage, and finally last October, with Tedd and Monique and Mieshelle, who said it was like the place of her childhood dreams, that she didn’t know such places existed, and has ever since supported my dream of returning to live not far away.

Braunwald. It’s worth pointing out that when I have wanted to envision in my mind a scene of calm and happiness, or feel in my body peace, I have referred to that state of inner peace and happiness as “the Braunwald of my mind.  I loved it in a rare way, I loved it unreservedly.

And so the sense of loss I felt reading that email. Braunwald will always be there, at least, as long as I am here to be conscious of a there, but the absence of my relatives and my uncle’s food and a place that has always been mine means things will be different now.

Here it is again in English:

The era has now passed . . . Rubschen will go now into other hands . . .

Many loving wishes from Braunwald,

Horst und Rosli

For more information, see www.braunwald.ch.

Who’s coming with me?

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Reflections on Life and Work

Published on October 27, 2006 by in Career Coaching

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This is the first in a series on Making Life and Work Easy and Effortless.  Future articles will focus on adding creative tools to shift from struggle to easy, fun, and effortless, in all arenas.

Lewis Carroll wrote, “Alice in Wonderland,” in 1865, as a critique of the Victorian era in which he lived.  In this classic story, Alice being plunged down a rabbit hole becomes a metaphor of life.  In the movie, “the Matrix,” before Neo starts his hero’s journey, he is asked, how far down the rabbit hole he wants to go.  The rabbit hole symbolizes our journey into the unknown.  Both Alice and Neo don’t have any idea of where this journey will lead and what they will face.  But they proceed anyway.  Neo’s guide on this journey, Morpheus, acknowledges that “nothing is as it appears.”

When I was growing up, I was indoctrinated with the philosophy or belief that work would have to be hard.  The only way to prove my worth to my family and society was engaging in hard work.  My father always used to ask:  “Are you working hard or hardly working?”  The message that I heard loud and clear was that only by laboring, struggling and painfully working could I prove that I was worthy to live.  ‘Hardly working’ implied negative connotations, similar to being a sloth, an unproductive member of society and being lazy.  That was taboo in my family!

But what if the reverse were true?  What if nothing is as it appears?  Just like in Alice in Wonderland or the Matrix, there’s so much more.  But because I bought into the idea that work had to be drudgery, I would never uncover the real truth.  Do you ever see people around you that encounter a day effortlessly?  They’re constantly smiling and resonating with happiness?  What do they know that we don’t?  What if we based our next minute, our next hour, our next day, our next week … (you get the idea) on ‘hardly working?’  What would happen?  Really?

If we go back to our early years, our curious childhood times before we bought into the concept of work being hard, we may find clues to this ‘hardly working’ philosophy.  It is very interesting that we never operate in a vacuum.  Yes, our family embeds us with some interesting values, but many times they are a mere reflection of the society at large.  How do children behave before they’re socialized to conform?  As I watch young children at play, their actions are effortless.  They interact with their peers, with legos, blocks, dolls, soldiers, or tanks in an imaginative manner.  These children are productive as they engage their total being in creativity.  They have no predetermined outcomes, no preconceived notions; they just play and do what comes naturally.

How can we recapture unfocused play from our childhood years?  Play with no goals, no expectations and do things effortlessly?  Can this even happen for us as adults?  The first natural objection to this course of thinking is using the word, ‘play.’  What does the word play conjure up?  Perhaps, the same thing that creativity elicits.  Play equals creativity equals laziness equals fun equals being unproductive.  If fun ever enters the equation, twinges of guilt enter the picture.  Typically, employers believe that employees are here to do the job and make money.  Fun doesn’t enter into the equation.

Bernie DeKoven explores this concept of fun in his article on Executive Update Online, “Discover the Fun of Work.”  He explains that in the early stages of every organization, there is excitement and passion and fun as visions manifest into reality.  However, as the organization grows in size and profit, this early workplace milieu seems to dissipate and it’s much harder to recognize that fun ever had existed.  Does this sound familiar?  Is your organization a fun place to work?  Are you challenged and stimulated in productive ways?  Or are you just there to collect a paycheck?

One of my former roles in the corporate world was working with human resources.  We were asked to examine what incentives or bonuses would motivate employees to become more productive.  We discovered, just like, Alfie Kohn in his New York Times article, “For Best Results, Forget the Bonus,” that money is not the motivating factor.  Research studies in the field of social psychology demonstrate that poorer performance results when people expect to be rewarded versus others who are not expecting any incentive.  The research confirms my previous experience in leadership roles.  Individuals are not motivated in long-term ways with external factors.  Rather motivation occurs intrinsically, from within.

The same holds true for parenting.  When children are unmotivated to perform in school, what do parents do?  I have personal experience working with unmotivated children.  Unless, they decide it is in their best interest to complete an assignment, it will never happen.  Depriving children of rewards will never alter their behavior.  The same applies to employees.  What happens when managers threaten their employees with disciplinary measures alone?  In many circumstances, the employee spirals downward and ultimately is fired.  What if managers uncovered the root of the behavior?  What was really causing the issue?  Was the position the wrong fit for the employee?  Were there other factors?  Are employees feeling valued?  Are individuals having fun?  Clues are everywhere if you just listen and observe and ask questions.

Research supports that workplaces that exude fun sustain passionate, dedicated employees who are much more productive than their counterparts in traditional stressful work environments.  In the book, “Work Like a Dog:  Fifty Ways to Work Less, Play More, and Earn More,”  Matt Weinstein and Luke Barber demonstrate from firsthand experience that “at companies that intentionally start bringing play in, the stress levels go way down.  People get a much stronger sense of corporate loyalty” and they gain competitive advantage in their marketplace.  Matt Weinstein is the founder of Playfair, Inc., a management consulting firm that helps business people recapture the gifts of childhood with laughter and fun while building stronger teams.  As the baby boomers step aside in the workplace, all the new generations, X and above, have different expectations.  They want to be challenged and have fun.  So, the sooner, employers start changing the current paradigm of work, the sooner, we will start seeing more happy, productive employees.  But don’t take my word for it, ask your employees.  If you are part of an organization, ask yourself, where do you want to work?  If the answer is a stimulating, challenging, fun environment, then how can things change?  Will you need help in this effort?  Who can help you within your organization?  Who can help you outside your organization?  Resources are available, but the first question to ask yourself is “do you want things to change?”

“The true object of all human life is play.  Earth is a task garden; heaven is a playground.” – G.K. Chesterton

“Play is the exultation of the possible.” – Martin Buber

Ready to shift paradigms?

 

Wanda Ropa

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On Freedom

Published on October 19, 2006 by in Metaphysics, Spiritual Practice Coaching

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Sometimes I get messages in my meditations that are muddled and sometimes they come in boldface, 14 point font. Yesterday was one of those days in which the message was loud and clear: “Resist nothing. Resist no-thing. When we become no thing, we can become anything. This is true freedom.”

This reminded me of an exchange I had once with a Zen Buddhist monk who asked me, “Laura, if you could be anywhere, where would you be?” I replied, “Here and now.” And then he said, “When you accept the moment, you have total freedom.”

All the spiritual teachings point to the “now.”  They say that everything we desire – peace, joy, freedom, abundance, and love – are in the present moment. So why do we resist the “now” if what we want is in the “now”? I think the answer is: desire. When we desire, we’re not here – we’re over there. Desire moves us away from the present moment. It says that what we need is in the future or in the past. 

The Buddha said that what prevented him from attaining enlightenment was that he was too determined to get it. In other words, he desired it too much.

To stay in the “now” we need to cultivate a state of being – not doing. When you accept the “now” – you are in a state of being. When you don’t accept the now, you have moved into a state of doing called resistance. The Power of Now,

The cultivation of a state of being – not doing – is a difficult concept for our culture to accept because we’re conditioned to be so achievement-oriented. We measure our success and self-worth according to what we have accomplished.  Yet, the more you are in the state of being, the more you will get done!

So how do we reconcile this wisdom with the principles of life coaching which are all about action? The trick is to have goals and to aspire towards the life that you want while maintaining contentment for the life that you have now. Without contentment, you won’t magnetize the goals because you’ll be in resistance. In the extreme, resistance takes the form of fear, depression, anxiety, among others. On a subtler level, resistance takes the form of boredom, dissatisfaction, or simply a desire for more of something. If you aren’t walking around in a state of total bliss, you’re in some state of resistance.

The irony is that in order to get what you want, you have to not want it. In other words, you can’t be in a state of want. You just need to “be.”

So go be. And be free!

(For more on this subject, I highly recommend The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Tolle is an authentic spiritual teacher and a great communicator. I like his book because it speaks the Truth while distilling principles of Eastern spiritual wisdom in a way that is accessible to a Western audience.)

Om sat tat om.

Laura (Swami Adityananda)

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Are you one of those people who is ernestly watching what you eat and exercising yet weight is not coming off? Being a health coach and weight loss coach, I have come across so many clients of late who are suffering from food allergies that cause their bodies to retain fluids and weight unnecessarily.

The most common allergens: Wheat, dairy, soy, corn, caffeine, chocolate and sugar!

You can get tested for food allergies through blood tests or through applied kinesiology. Check with a local holistic health practitioner that you trust or to whom you’re referred by someone you trust.

And did you know about something called Systemic Yeast problems? This is another reason why some people don’t lose weight. You can read my article “Crave Sweets? – On the Mood and Weight Rollercoaster? – Perhaps it’s Not What You Think!” at Diet and Wellness Coaching.

It will open your eyes to yet another important health epidemic! You may also write to me via our free coaching consultation and ask for my Health Questionnaire. It’s free and may be one of the most important things you’ve ever done for yourself.

To your health!

Coach Christina

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I really love this life balance tip, and I think it is one which bears repeating from time to time.

“Who I am is ENOUGH!”

My friends, I don’t know about you, but in this fast-paced, consumer society of capitalism and racing to the top, most people are walking around feeling as though there is somewhere else they need to be, or someone else they need to be, or that who they are and what they have just doesn’t measure up.

It is so vital to feel good about yourself and your life WHILE you are “going for more gold”

It is so vital to be in a place of peace, acceptance, even gratitude for who and where you are. Being in acceptance does not mean that you don’t try to make changes or improvements. It simply means that you are at peace and in joy just as things are now, AND, that you are happy IN THE PROCESS of working towards being, doing and having more.

I used to spend my life feeling “not enough”. I used to believe I had to prove something. I used to compare myself bitterly to other people and always felt as though I came up short.

It wasn’t until I truly began to embrace all of myself and my life as it was that I then seemed to make big leaps forward.

Most people truly want peace of mind, but they are usually so busy striving for this or that thing or experience or way of being, thinking that THEN they will have peace of mind.

Now I’m not speaking about people in abusive relationships or oppressive situations where there is threat or danger. I don’t believe anyone should accept that kind of situation, nor stay in it.

I’m really speaking about personal growth and personal achievement issues.

My fondest wish for you is that you know that you are ENOUGH just as you are right this very minute! You are good enough! Sure, you may want to spend time improving and growing. And, I guarantee that that growth and improvement will come much easier when you are loving accepting and supporting yourself for who you are, while on the improvement road.

This can be done, and in the process of life balance coaching, clients find that place inside themselves where they realize they can be happy with themselves and they absolutely can and wil create lives they love!

Cheers,

Coach Christina

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