The book of my life
Updated: May 1
Welcome to My World of joy, happiness, success, failure, fears, the valley of tears, and much more.
A little bit about me:
I am Swiss-born and live in Zurich. I love the heritage of my Swiss-German mother from Zurich and my Swiss Italian father from Gandria, Ticino, with Italian ancestors far back.
Business-wise, I am very Swiss German: Punctual, to the point, straightforward and precise.
Private my Italian side reveals itself. My joy in life is filled with peals of laughter and talking with my hands.
I have gone from growing up filled with love, trust, and liberty, to have it all, to being broke, and back again to success!
My positivity is a key trait that is always mentioned by my friends, clients, co-workers, or random people I am meeting.
I am embracing life with all its incredible opportunities and wish you to do so too!
My story is encouraging and proof of how one can go from having it all, to falling and to having the power, courage & strength to be strong, convinced, and raise back up again! I am a happy mother of two grown-up children, a delighted grandmother, and passionate about every aspect of life. I had a lucky, joyful family life; a fancy house, a cozy vacation house, classy cars, splendid and unforgettable vacations, fabulous dinners, and parties when step by step it started to collapse.
Childhood and early years
Imagine you are a year and a half. You feel you are loved and safe. And then, one day your life changes completely. You wake up in different surroundings, with different people without your parents and siblings. That has happened to me. My parents divorced when I was a year and a half old. From then on, I lived and grew up with my grandparents. The personal contact with my siblings stopped. Back in 1958, the law in Switzerland was harsh on divorced women. They usually lost custody and the children were taken to a children’s home.
My grandmother would not allow this to happen to me at a young age and took me in. Both of my parents seemingly had forgotten about me. The few times I met my mother, I was not even allowed to call her mum.
My grandparents revealed to me much later that I stopped talking for two years! I was not aware of this. All I remember is feeling lonely during my childhood, despite being surrounded by love.
Both my grandparents loved me, accepted me the way I am, and gave me the freedom I needed. They inspired me with their kindness, wisdom, and generosity. They also instilled in me the belief to never give up, be grateful for each day, and be kind to and help others. I was and still am a free spirit.
My world was a small world. As a child, I grew up in a community of the poor in Zurich. We all had not much. I only later realized this fact. We would play outside until it grew dark. There was no demand on how to be dressed, but there were strict rules on how to behave. The school was important but without the pressure of achieving top results. I wanted more. My dream was to study economics at the University of Zurich, but this dream was shattered. My grandparents had no extra money and my mother did not want to support me. The working class had to stay the working class. I felt demoralized and started to do the minimum at school. What next, did I ask myself? What should I do?
I chose the hotel industry and graduated with excellent results. More than one language was required, so I got myself to study English in England and worked as an Au-Pair in an Upper-Class family with four children I had to take care of. Within a year and a half, I acquired my English Proficiency Certificate and English driving license. It was a life-changing moment. Out of fourteen Au-Pair, none has achieved the Proficiency Certificate or a Driving License. In 1977 only a few foreign students were taking the exam. It was something extraordinary to achieve during that time. The family who hired me as an Au-pair opened my world to Art, Classical Music, Outdoor hiking, and the better things in life. They treated me like a member of the family. I knew who I wanted to become. It inspired me. I set my goal to achieve a lifestyle similar to theirs.
Motherhood. This word did not exist in my mind when I was 20 years old. My best girlfriend and I spoke about our future life and our dreams. For me, it was clear to achieve an outstanding career. What had happened to my mother, her divorce, losing her children, her life, my siblings, and me, was not what I wanted to repeat at all.
Well, we make the plan while God makes others. I got married just a week before turning 25. My husband and I had good jobs and worked hard. We lived in a fancy apartment, had many friends, and had a lot of time for our hobbies. Life was good!
Then I got pregnant and had to give birth to a stillborn baby seven months into my pregnancy. I felt devastated. While recovering in the hospital, I looked at my life and realized that my career was unimportant. So what was my calling then? I wanted to have a healthy child. I became a mother at 27. I still feel the joy flooding my heart as I held my daughter for the first time in my arms. It was indescribable.
I resigned from my job and threw myself into motherhood. Back in 1984, I was going against the mainstream. Women liberated themselves by choosing to work over being stay-at-home mothers. I loved spending time with my daughter. Reading books to her was our favorite time. I remember her constant questions. She always wanted to learn more and more, and dive deep into whatever her mind focused on. To answer all her questions, I had to buy one book after the other. Seeing her grow in the best filled my heart with delight. Giving her what I missed during my childhood was my desire. When she turned two and a half I considered taking a part-time job. But then my girlfriend approached me during our village festival and asked me to put my hand on her belly. Curious and laughing, I did. She was pregnant again. We were joking I could get pregnant quickly and we would deliver our babies at the same time, in the same hospital.
Long story short. My girlfriend and I ended up spending three days together in the hospital. No one could believe it! I am still laughing right now. What an extraordinary time it was. I felt grateful for having been talked into another pregnancy.
My son got delivered three weeks early and a few hours after his birth, he stopped breathing. I caught him right then and turned him upside down with a sinking heart while running out of my room to find a doctor. Fortunately, he took his next breath within a short time. His free spirit and adventures have made me laugh and cry. From the age of one, he always needed something to drive. It started with a Big Booby Car, followed by a Bicycle, on to Skateboards, Snowboards. He was unstoppable. Luckily we were living in a small village near Zurich, surrounded by forest, where life was overseeable. People would tell me where he is and what he is up to. Usually no good. Makes me laugh even now. I dedicated myself to staying at home for ten years and never regretted it.
Being a mother of two gorgeous children, happily married with a side career as a fashion model, which came as a surprise to me through my husband, made my life extraordinary.
I had a happy, joyful family life, houses, prestigious cars, splendid and unforgettable holidays, best friends, grand dinners, and parties. I got the best things in life and I loved it. The goal I set for myself at 20 years old was achieved. And I lost it all.
My husband started a new business with two partners. When the partners dropped out, he asked me if I would build the business with him. The idea of going back to work startled me. But then I realized my chance and agreed. We built a distribution business serving sports- and fashion shops from scratch. We both were greenhorns in this particular business. None of us knew how this market worked nor who our clients were. We started small, got an office, and placed our first order. My husband worked hard and was driven to be successful. We made it through the first year. Luckily, we received help from the German distributor selling the same brand as ours.
I remember our first trade fair in Zurich when we spoke to everyone visiting our stand. That's precisely when we hit unknowingly the jackpot and the first major client for our brand. On the second day after I have spoken at length to someone who appeared to be different than all the others in the way he was dressed, him wearing bikers boots, a leather jacket, and trousers, long hair in a ponytail, one of our competitors asked if I knew the person I had just spoken to. “NO”, was my reply. “He has given me his name, and we have set an appointment for next week”. Then all I saw was astonishment in the face of the other. “What,” I asked. I got told that this was the Number 1 client to have in our Market. To be a greenhorn is sometimes beneficial. Since I had no clue who the person was, unlike our competitors, I did not run toward him or overreact with joy or need to persuade him to order our brand but treated him like any other person which obviously suited him. Even years later, this was a running joke between the client and us.
Then as we constantly grew our business, we needed larger business premises and a website. Times were changing fast. Clients wanted to know more about us. I had to learn to work in the new age of computers. Thinking of it now, the first one we bought and installed, I had to ask where to turn it on. Embarrassing that was.
My main task was the back office which was great since I could do all the work when my children were in Kindergarten and school. Gradually I started to work more. I loved the challenge, the responsibility, and the world of business. Only then did I realize how much it meant to me. We hired our first employees. My workload increased. Besides being the CFO of the company, I joined my husband when key clients had an appointment with us. In addition, we both went to visit the sports and fashion fairs in Switzerland, Germany, and Barcelona. We were hunting for additional brands to distribute and observing how the market evolved. I loved to emerge in this creativity and the talks with the designers/suppliers a lot. Once to twice a year the new collections were presented by our suppliers as well as the strategy they wanted us to apply. These were held in the USA, Germany, and Greece. There we would meet worldwide representatives. These important meetings were an opportunity to exchange knowledge, and strategies and create friendships, present our needs, see the new collections, and have a relaxed time.
Once a year, we would take our children to the USA. We would then meet with our brand supplier and their sales team for one day. The remaining time of our two weeks stay was our family vacation which we all enjoyed the most. We all have the best memories of that fantastic time exploring Los Angeles, La Jolla, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and San Francisco. One day at La Jolla, we saw baby tiger sharks in the waves hitting the beach. We could not believe our eyes. The children went to tell the lifeguard. He explained that these baby sharks do no harm. The children were in the water within no time laughing out loud. My husband and I were hesitant to go into the water. I still remember sitting at the beach while looking with amazement, watching our children running in and out of the water, their hearts filled with joy. We made jokes about who would join them first. I knew how my husband always wanted to win so I bet a bottle of Champagne. Did he go? Yes! Sure so! He never shied away from a challenge and joined the children. I stayed outside and watched the baby tiger sharks surf the waves with the rest of my family.
The knowledge I gained throughout these years of growing a company supported me in all my future endeavors. My job required me to face and overcome challenges such as late product shipments from overseas and customer complaints. To work meticulously through contracts, summarize all client orders, and shipments to clients organized correctly and within their delivery time. Adjusting to different working cultures allowed me to refine my organizational skills. I was challenged many times by the brand suppliers, our clients, and our employees with their needs, their demands, incorrect or late shipments, quality issues, and more on a personal and business level. I learned to manage it professionally underlined with facts, strength, and charm to find a for both sides positive and agreeable solution. I am forever thankful to my husband who saw my potential and asked me to join him and fully trusted my judgment.
The Crash with 50 years old, when the fairy tale collapsed
Due to economic reasons, I began working outside our company. Within a few years, I became one of those 200% working mothers. For a bit more than 6 years, I had 100% jobs while still working 100% for the company we owned. The jobs were both demanding. Particularly, the last 100% one I took on as "Assistant to the President" of a Swiss Cosmetics Company in September 2005. The workload took nearly all my time. In addition, I had to co-run our company.
One day in September 2007, after meeting a designer in London, I was sitting at my desk at the Swiss Cosmetics Company. Something did not feel right and I could not figure out what it was. Do you sometimes have a feeling of uncertainty in your stomach? One you cannot put your finger on? I had to get out of the office and take a walk. I was deep in thought. That year I turned 50 years old and we also celebrated 25 years of marriage, Yet, I did not feel happy. My marriage did not feel right anymore. I felt like a working horse without love nor being appreciated. In 2004, my husband had a motorbike accident that resulted in severe whiplash. He became a different person and lost his will, his drive, and his passion for our business, work, sport, and for life in general. Whatever we did as a family to support him fell on dry ground.
While walking and thinking, I remembered the ceremony when my son received his graduation certificate. I had been sitting between my mother-in-law and my husband. During the ceremony, I realized this was not fitting anymore. The feeling that hit me suddenly was "to run away." My batteries were low. I was exhausted. Despite that, I carried on. To not give up was second nature to me. That's how I grew up.
Then at the end of September 2007, my life started to scramble into pieces. I remember that moment my life fell apart as if it is today. I was lying on the floor of my new apartment., lost and lonely, tears were running down my cheeks. I realized that all I had worked for until that moment had crumbled. I was heartbroken; my marriage fell apart, our company had to be liquidated by me and I lost my well-paid job, too! All within two weeks. At this moment, I vowed that no matter what, giving up was no option.
For about a year, I was living a lie similar to Lady Jasmine Francis from the movie Blue Jasmine, played by Cate Blanchett. Remember when she had to move in with her poor sister after her husband had gone broke? When she met this stunning man on the airplane while still pretending to be wealthy, instead of being vulnerable and telling him the truth? Finally being caught by him as a liar and losing this relationship? I behaved the very same way. Whenever I left the apartment, I dressed up wearing my expensive shoes and handbags. I smiled, still pretending I was successful even though I wanted to cry and scream out my misery.
But one day it was too much to bear. I could not go on like this anymore. Even in Switzerland where one is not supposed to fail. In reality, I had depths to pay, sometimes not the amount of money to make ends meet.
From then on all changed for the better. I lived an authentic life. It was also the time Airbnb started. My son suggested renting out his room to generate extra money while he was away in Australia. I remember the moment when I joined Airbnb in 2012 and exactly when I received my first booking. This first guest is still my best friend. Step by step, days felt normal again for my son, our German Shephard Maximiliane, and me. The constant pressure on how to pay all the costs and depths was finally lifted off my shoulders.
The challenge with hidden purpose
I wanted to attend a 4-day event in London six years ago, and I made it on stage despite the obstacles I faced upon arriving there. Imagine you are feeling happy and looking forward to your four days event "45 days to stage" in London to overcome your fears of public speaking. You embark on your flight while feeling good. All I wished for was to drop my suitcase upon arrival and then, "guess what?” My room got canceled at 8 pm on Friday, the day of my arrival. I stamped, screamed, was nearly into tears, and felt devastated.
But I was determined to find a room. I approached a stranger sitting on a bench outside a Pub at the corner and asked about the whereabouts of the next hotel. Thankfully, the person responded to my inquiry and instructed me to walk down the road for a short while. I followed his instruction and went into the first hotel I came across. My hopes got shattered, even worse. The receptionists informed me that, "London is all booked." It was due to a bank holiday and a world championship boxing match.
It grew darker and darker and colder by the hour while I was still walking down the street, nearly losing hope. Finally, I found a room for one night only instead of five. I went to my room and, despite feeling tired, I forced myself to check the internet for available rooms and did not give up until I found one for four nights which I could afford. How happy I felt!
Saturday, I left the event early to get the room. I was arriving at 07.30 pm at the place when my nightmare started again. The room was not available for me. It was double-booked! I sat down in disbelief. Luckily I had the phone number of someone I met at the event. I called her and explained my situation. Even though we only met at the event, she invited me to share her room with her for two nights. I could not believe my luck and felt overwhelmed with gratitude!
I used my "nightmare" as my pitch on stage on Sunday morning. People asked me how I managed to stay in my power and not give up. It would have been less heartache and easier to take the next flight home, which was never an option. Each time, I am challenged by a certain situation, the quote my beloved grandmother used to repeatedly tell me, comes to my mind: "Never give up. Calm down. Pray for a solution and guidance" was ingrained in me. This belief got buried during my time of success. I had forgotten all about it during my fairy tale life. Only my downfall and the feeling of sadness and hopelessness have given it back to me. I shared this jewel of advice and the result was that two of them asked to be coached by me.
My professional coaching journey had begun.
Finding myself, my purpose, my freedom
The first stepping stone
After losing my job due to reorganization, and facing my marriage failure, all at the same time, I decided to visit an elderly home and asked if I could have lunch with a lonely resident for the coming three months, I had to work in the company during the notice period. I had no intention of spending more time than necessary with my co-workers. An 84- year- old, well-groomed man, was pleased to have lunch with me. That was the best decision I took in my moment of despair. He helped me understand more about life and its meaning, gave me inspiring books, and talked about his life journey. We stayed in contact for many years until he peacefully went home (his saying).
The second stepping stone
The 84-year-old man was a friend of the famous Amma, the hugging saint from India. He told me to meet her during her event in the Zurich Area. Meeting her and being hugged by her was an emotional rollercoaster. Tears were running down my face, and I felt warmth, joy, and love in my heart. The unconditional love a mother gives to her child. She healed my heart and was the initiator of my spiritual journey.
The third stepping stone
In Munich, I attended a weekend practicing meditation at a Zen House. We were a group of people who connected effortlessly with each other. Reinhold, our coach, presented us with a week in a Monastery on the Island of Ibiza. All of us agreed. To live in a monastery was not my goal nor my piece of cake though. The room was too small, the bed was tiny and the shower did not allow me to turn around, which made my children laugh out loud. I loved our early morning meditations, the energy-filled places on the Island, the old Sufi dance, the singing of Mantras, the shared peals of laughter, and the journey to my inner self. This week in November was captivating.
The fourth stepping stone
After I lost another job due to reorganization, I attended an event in March 2016. It was led by the American JT FOXX. The evening was becoming particularly interesting when IMN Zurich got launched. The IMN strategy was tempting because I needed to be surrounded by different people, all driven by success. I became an active member of IMN Zurich. Cédric Vinclair, the president of IMN Zurich, challenged my stage fright in London at the 45-day to-stage event and forced me to pitch in front of approximately 250 entrepreneurs. This, was an eye-opener and an opportunity, too. My professional coaching was born.
The fifth and last stepping stone
2017, at 60 years old, I lost my last job due to a disagreement about the future of the company I worked for. Not again, I thought! Knowing it had nothing to do with my qualifications or work ethic did not make it any better. The daughter of the owner hired me as her "Assistant” to support her in modernizing the company. We established a close relationship and together we visited every single client personally and modernized the IT System. All went according to plan until she got pregnant. She was not allowed by doctor's certificate to work from her fourth month into her pregnancy. This was devastating. Without her, I was unsupported by the elderly team members. What’s worse, with her father we had no common ground. A female in his world had no saying. The tension between her father and me grew. She did not return in due time. I wanted to continue with the modernization. He wanted to have it the old way, which he understood. There was no way to continue for both of us.
When I phoned the daughter to break the news, she wanted to help, and keep me. For me, this was heartwarming. I still love her for that. I decided to accept the loss of my work, move on, and focus on my coaching. Take it to a new level.
In the meantime, I needed some income. For me, it had always been easy to find work, no matter my age. This time it was different. My 400 applications landed in the bin. 62 was too old. Finally, I got a job. Well, to cut the long story short, it failed. I got hired by a well-hidden psychopath and stopped working within six months. It was time to think of my future, my dream. I had to ask myself why everything failed with my jobs and why I kept my coaching as a side job. I loved it, enjoyed it, and it made me feel fulfilled. It was plain in front of my eyes. I needed to immerse myself in what I loved most.
Within a short time, I sublet my apartment, packed my hand luggage, and traveled for three months. Finally, I was free and met with people, some of whom I had not seen in 40 years. I accepted the invitation to Indonesia, given to me by my first Airbnb guest. Bali was on my itinerary, my dream destination. There, I visited an ancient holy place, a well constantly filled with water for thousands of years, and like a pilgrim, took my bath to heal. Ditching my fears, I swang on a swing held by two palm trees above and over the large, terraced rice field.
At 4 am, I hiked up Mount Batur with a torch in my hand to reach the top before sunrise.
Free with 62 years
Returning home, I started fresh with a new apartment, new furniture, and finally, my focus on being a Coach and Therapist.
You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. Steve Jobs
Looking back, I see the dots connected in a miraculous, phenomenal, and meaningful way. Losing my job and quitting my very last one was a blessing in disguise. I had the entire time to educate myself, invest in my future, and, most of all, spend precious time with my grandchildren. Sharing peals of laughter, reading books to them, building Lego towers, and seeing them grow up is something no money in the world can buy. Time is precious. Shared time, even more so!
Going the extra mile, continuously learning, and surrounding yourself with positive people make it all worth it. I realized that one should have a burning desire and be passionate about one‘s dream, whatever it is. I understood how children and our families suffer when we as mothers shake. It is only the moment when we find our safe ground, stability, inner joy, and freedom that they start to feel safe and happy again.
It was a bumpy, challenging road and, sometimes, still is. Yet it was all worth it. I see life, its twists and turns differently now. From experience, I know exactly how it can feel when everything falls apart. In despair, when life falls apart, and you seem to have no more strength left and would give up for good, it is the best and most healing time to look out for and help others.