2018: A Year in Review

I’ve done a lot of moving around and re-settling. Whether it’s taping the corners of packing boxes for reinforcement or rolling up my clothes to save space in the suitcase….. I’ve honed the art of “pack n’ go.

This is a pretty long post, and I’ve tried my best to keep it as ‘short and sweet’ as possibe. Here are my geographical movements of 2018 and my resolutions for 2019.

January 2018

I was working 12-14 hour days, and living in my 11m² office. It actually wasn’t too bad, and made me dream of building a tiny home and driving around the USA.

(Side note: The reason was that my subletters in my Berliner flat got pregnant immediately after I left…. details below.)

Freshly moved into the office in Berlin
Sharing the office during the day with my intern Aleksei…. in this picture I’m forcing him to do eye relaxation techniques, to not overwork his body while working. 🙂 He could also work flexibly from home or from Russia when visiting family.
The office was quite cosy at night, with a quiet back courtyard allowing me to sleep with the window ajar. Behind the desk is a little loveseat couch with arm rests that folded down.

Why was I living in my office in January last year?

I had left Berlin at the end of 2017 in a panic, having flown at my stepmother’s behest to help out with my father’s physical and mental health. I subletted my 2-room flat in Berlin to a young couple who later ended up not paying a deposit and ceasing rent payments. She, a young Tokyo-born Japanese, became pregnant shortly after I left for the states. He, having grown up sharing the London city streets with rats and vermin, probably ended up accessing German social services to pay for their unplanned, quick-way-to-get-a-visa baby. (I know that sounds harsh, but birth control in Germany can be obtained for free without health insurance, and the morning-after pill is only €20 or so over-the-counter. And…. oh gosh, this is awful, but…. even after the baby is born it can still be returned to the hospital in a “Babyklappe”, like a late-night book deposit for library returns.)

German law protects the vulnerable very much. In this case, I was considered a “landlord” and a pregnant woman “vulnerable”, even though I was simply renting the flat myself and only planned to be away for a few months. It was difficult to kick them out, despite them having stopped paying rent etc., because she was pregnant. It was horrible for me, both morally and financially. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for them, either.

The “subletters from hell” left end of January. My friends Leyla and Gürhan moved in.

I left my Berliner office at the end of January to meet with a client in Philadelphia. I had managed his Amazon business as well as that of others during Q4 2017. This client offered me a generous share in his company, but I turned down his proposal because, after working with him more closely, I found he lacked solid business acumen.

February 2018

I visited dear friends in Philadelphia. They give me hope that couples can stay in love despite years of marriage and in spite of children. 🙂 Their two cuties below are kids I babysat ages ago in Germany. They are full of charisma and spiritual wisdom well beyond their years!

Trip to the coffee shop down the road. I’m sporting earrings made of lava stone and banana leaves, gifted to me from my dear sister-friend Jana
I love the little streets of old, central Philly — they remind me of parts of Europe

Later in the month of February 2018, I headed down to the Orlando area in northern Florida to visit family, relax, and continue working remotely. I rented a little lake home through Air BnB as a belated birthday present for my Mom. It was wonderful. We enjoyed good food, good live music, views of the water and time with our cousin J and his family.

The little getaway Mom and I enjoyed near Sanford, FL.
Mom & J and fabulous, delicious home-grilled food
My cousin J’s family and I went out for a nature cruise… that family is so ‘normal’ (as in mentally stable and healthy and creative and loving) that it’s almost shocking! Are we really related?! 🙂

After the lakehome retreat, I rented a different Air BnB that was a little more my style…. the Sunshine Ranch in Osteen, Florida.

A pretty peacock perched outside my porch
Pausing my ‘”jour fixe” (daily meeting) with my intern in Berlin because, well, this kid was really cute.
Enjoying the sun in one of the many chilled-out hammocks on the Ranch

March 2018

In March, I invited my friend Micki down to the Ranch for a week and a half to celebrate her birthday, and as a way to show her some of the kindness she and her family showed me the previous year. (Or maybe that was in February? I can’t remember exactly…)

Me & Micki being goofballs on the beach
That’s the last time I saw her wedding ring.
Cute Belgian boys cooking quiche for “the gang” on the ranch
My virtual assistants in the Phillippines sent me a belated Christmas present… that’s so sweet of them! And was very befitting to frame the happy memories in Florida.

The Belgian boys were doing WOOFing, where they exchanged farmhand labour for room and board. They ventured off up north, and I continued to enjoy jam sessions by the camp fire and yoga-healing sessions with beautiful, spiritually-attuned Luba who runs the Ranch with her husband River.

The Belgian boys continue on their bike trip through the USA

I enjoyed more working and kayaking in Florida, and visited my Dad whenever I could make space in my schedule.

The nature of Florida is breathtaking.
I thought I was going to live in Florida… or at least make it the state of my residency and enjoy less income tax, so I bought a car. It was a lemon, to say the leaast.
Driving through a ‘nature preserve / restoration area’ with my Dad. The area had been contaminated by too much agricultural fertilizer a decade or two ago.

I drove from humid Central Florida to Western Florida to visit my cousin Dawnie. She and her husband had just moved into a new home.


She was driving something cute and small and supposed-to-be-flashy, but we both agreed it was really hard to see out of, and that made it kind of dangerous.

I then visited my “little” cousin Jake in Pensacola. I was amazed at how he’s grown up… he has his own business, a nice girlfriend, a starter home in a pretty sketch neighbourhood (“sketch” equals two or three gunshots heard on a weekly basis) and now the first baby of our generation is expected end of January 2019!

(Note: Baby Jack, named after our now-passed grandfather, is a healthy and beautiful little boy of about 6 weeks as of publication.)

In the middle of March, my friend Micki decided to take her dog, take off her wedding band, and drive eleven hundred miles to Asheville, North Carolina to meet up with the Belgian Boys. (I know, it sounds like a country song.)

I drove up there to meet with them. We all rented a cabin for the weekend. (I know it sounds like the start of a scary story… and it was a bit gruesome in emotional ways, but I won’t delve into details. If you’re curious as to the details of how that fateful weekend really transpired, get in touch with me.)

Driving around Asheville, NC
There was something magical and full of clarity in Asheville. The air was crisp and clear, similar to that of Rome but without the pollution of stagnant, human regret.
The perfect large grounds for a writer, now become an open space park…. the water depths of his sould reflected in the nature around him.
We were hiking, the 4 of us humans and Micki’s dog. They found this dead, hollowed-out tree and instantly everyone knew that it was prime real-estate for me…. a little fairy haven. I meditated in it. I expored it. I enjoyed it. People who know me, know that I would choose a fairy-home over a yacht ALWAYS. (Not that I’ve ever been presented the option…. I’m just sayin’ 🙂
It was a pretty big hole. I fit inside easily.
My healing ring of power even lit up when I touched the tree. ….Okay, maybe it was just the angle of sunlight intercepting the crystal, but I thought it a good sign.
Just one of the magical parts of this tree…. how is this not simply amazing ?! I could have spent the entire afternoon sipping tea and admiring this amazing tree.
Maybe it was due to less oxygen on those elevated mountains…. or maybe it was it was some other reason. I felt clarity in that place, though. I called my mom and my maternal grandmother for advice, and they supported my decision. “Spring cleaning” my list of friends isn’t easy, but keeps life moving foward in the right direction.

April 2018

I stopped by my cousin J’s house in Florida on March 31st. I called back my mother to learn that my Aunty Gina passed away unexpectedly in a car accident, well before her time. I was with family when I received the news, and was travelling to visit family in the UK. I then returned to Berlin to wrap up a few things and spend wonderful, quality time with dear friends.

My friends Leyla and Gürhan greeted me at home with loads of delicious, fresh, low-sodium food and stories to share. Leyla and I would have a delicious, luxurious sitting-too-long-but-it-doesn’t-really-matter breakfast on the balcony in the morning as a regular habit.

At the end of April, Leyla whipped up a masterpiece to help celebrate my birthday. We hauled a bunch of delicious vegan and vegetarian food from the fourth floor (without an elevator, of course) to the back courtyard. We hauled unneeded furniture up from the cellar and had an amazing garden party with my best people in Germany.

So delicious. There was even more.
“Alles Gute Naví” — hand written with love and delicious healthiness from a busy mother of two who somehow managed to bake the cake and decorate it and haul it over to my place in one piece ! <3
Pictured next to me is the baker, the mother, the wife, the uni student, the part-time job-holder and the dearest, kindest sister-friend I could dream of: Jana
Playing with old furniture from the cellar

Toward the end of April, I packed up my Berliner office and moved to a new one with a shower, closer to my friend who made that delicious cake. On the day I picked up the keys — maybe it was my actual birthday, I can’t remember — my friend met me, brought me a candle in a sweet treat, and took me out to a delicious meal in our neighbourhood, my favourite neighbourhood, the “kiez” I spent many years in, right on the borderline between West and East Berlin, the place I met Leyla in her restaurant: Friedrichshain.

Birthday dinner
“Before” pictures of the office
What a sweetheart…. celebrating on my day by bringing a brownie / cake thing and candle, too!
The ‘after pictures’ of the furnished office

May 2018

I think it was in May, perhaps in June, when I took a quick trip to Western Ukraine. I landed in Lviv then took a bus to Ivano-Frankivsk. The city used to be called “Stainslawo” but was changed recently, to be named after a Ukranian writer and historical figure, Mr. Frankivsk. (The next Western city to be renamed, I will petition it to be renamed after a female historical figure… it might be in Latvia or Sweden. Or Minnesota.)

In front of the Lviv art museum
A techie entrepreneur friend showed me around and brought me to the best, most innovative sides of Ukraine. I must admit, I was impressed at how modern the country is…
A delicious, puffy croissant with salad and cheese, coupled with an Americano coffee at “Lviv Croissants”, a chain café.

I flew back to Berlin from Lviv and had a layover just long enough to grab my suitcase from my cellar, grab a beer from the local “Späti” (kiosk) and take a quick swim in the river.

No marked bus stops or time tables in Lviv… and ‘public’ workers like bus drivers and janitors don’t wear uniforms! They wear plain clothes and the only way to know what their job is…. is because they’re doing it.
.There was a city-wide festival during my time in Lviv. My hotel room was above the largest city square that was one of the locations

I moved stuff from one office to another. From one basement to an attic. My Berliner-shower-office became comfortable, I packed up my bicycle and shipped it, along with a few boxes, to Bristol.

June 2018

I moved to Bristol and stayed with my sister Kate and her family whilst searching for a flat.

Nephew #2 of 3…. we’re experimenting with the fake tattoos I was selling on Amazon

July 2018

I found a coworking space and a flat, signed the contract and somehow managed to get a bank account in the U.K. I took Nephew #2 to the high street and did some perusing around charity shops to furnish my empty new (rental) flat.

Then I set about arranging furniture and painting. My cousing Kristiana did an internship in London for the summer, and came over a couple times to visit and help paint. Thank God for family! (They’re free labour and free hugs!)

the upstairs with kitchen and door to the back courtyard / patio
Replacing the crappy halogen lightbulbs with something nautical and natural
If I entertain, then I unfold the table. Usually, it’s folded up over in the corner (below) and I have my desk and therapy chair here for bioresonance and reiki sessions.
Recognize the secretary desk from the charity shop? (in this picture, I’m doing xmas cards)
Chopping some veg for dinner

And the downstairs with street access door, guest room and bedroom and water closet

So….. painting directly on top of glossy paint, without sanding or priming, was a bad idea….
Recognize the charity shop couch?
My decór is sparse, but interesting… the Henry Matisse sketch in the corner is something I bouht in a charity shop. My nephew kept arguing that it was a picture of a naked lady, and I shouldn’t have bought it. The animal-safari prints are something I found next to the dupster (and cleaned thoroughly with bleach!) and the black wooden carving was something I brought back from Cameroon.
My twist on a veggie English breakfast (including leeks and vinegar)…. I might do a post on this later 🙂

August 2018

Toward the end of August, I went with my sister’s mother, Grandma Mary, to a big family wedding in Straßburg, France. It had been ages since I was there last!

The happy couple, so sweet, 3rd and 4th in from the left.
Nephew #2 …. starting to become my favourite!
My sister Kate is the one toward the left wearing blue and white stripes.
Classic French style in the streets

France was lovely! The sunshine and fresh breeze and delicious wine and bread and cheese…. oh my!

September 2018

I then went to Berlin for awhile. I stayed with friends, met with friends and had a lovely, enjoyable time.

“Anke the Dentist” as many have heard of her, with her boyfriend Marcel.
swimming point access about 5 min. walk from my flat in East Berlin
The ‘beach’ (without swimming access) at my old college, the HTW-Berlin. A few months later, this college held a joint effort with the same college my cousin Kristiana was attending! What a small world.
My balcony really grew in after the summer, didn’t it? 🙂
My friend Leyla put on a wonderful spread… fish, stuffed tomatoes, soup, salad, zucchini mini burgers…. so delicious!
Another delicious dinner

October 2018

It was actually end of September I believe, or maybe early September, when I went back to the states. My dad had fallen and received surgery to repair his leg.

My dad was convalescing in Mankato. But why stay with friends when I could go camping?
The nature of MN is beautiful
My mom has EVERYTHING for baking…. I love her kitchen!

I flew back to Berlin in October for a couple weeks, then back to Bristol.

November 2018

With time, my breakfasts become more ‘standard’ British…. the Black Tea arrived, but the Coffee remained.

In Bristol, I rolled up my sleeves and set to work:

  • Amazon selling in Germany and France ceased and largely dissolved…. taxes still to be filed next year, of course.
  • I held a ‘Launch Event’ to promote the opening of my holistic therapy clinic Gracenote Therapy, and to explain what Bioresonance is. (It’s very popular in Germany, but not yet in the UK.)

December 2018

I enjoyed some socializing and time with my sister et. al.

I remember making myself a dress and matching hat out of black, plastic trash bags when I was younger…. this Nephew #2 is fast becoming my ‘favouritve’ 🙂

Then I went to Italy on Dec 25 to meet up with a good childhood friend to travel together a week and a half. We spent the majority of our time in Sicily.

Elixir or poison? Perhaps they’re both placebo… in an art museum in Catania, Sicily, Italy
I saw a couple sundials here and there on the ground…. but couldn’t figure out this pillar.
Humans were everywhere in Italy…. and nature simply ignored or taken for granted, it seemed.
Such an amazing tree!
The tree’s roots sprawled and spilled into the earth surrounding … much like the Roman civilization
We rented a car and drove up Mt. Etna, a VERY active volcano
found a cave during a hike
we discovered abandoned dwellings

I miss the pastries and espresso still, after one month!

I’m now happy and healthy back in Bristol, with some solid new year’s resolutions for a calmer, more focused 2019….. a step into a new chapter of life.

Thank you for continuing this wonderous adventure with me!

<3

2 Comments

  1. Rivara

    What a year, Navi! It’s so cool to see everything in pictures after having heard about them. It was a blessing to have seen you twice last year! My 2018 and my self truly wouldn’t have been the same without you 🙂 Many wishes for abundance in 2019. <3

    • Naví

      Oh Riv, you are SUCH a sweetheart !!! I only wish I could spend more time with you, more often… it’s uncanny how deep our friendship goes, and that no matter the distance or tribulations, it only brings us closer together. <3 Thank you for being in my heart and in my life. I love you so much !!!

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