A Chance to See Beyond Oneself
As many of you know, I am no longer in Europe. I have been back in the USA for about 6 months.

I am currently sitting in a cafe in Berkeley, a city right outside of  San Francisco, listening to an assortment of piano classics, and contemplating my six months back in the States. It's odd to think back to my time in Austria and Germany. It seems so long ago, a completely different world, like a dream that is hard to recall. But when I reflect on all the wonderful people I met, the memories become alive and vivid and I smile at the thought of all the unique encounters I experienced. I think very fondly of all the friendships I developed, I chuckle at my struggles in learning German and dealing with life in a new environment, and feel sincere gratitude for all the people that contributed to my journey in Europe (especially the families I stayed with).

Since being back in the States I have spent a significant amount of time studying a communication and conflict mediation model called Nonviolent Communication (NVC). I have been attending seminars, workshops, weekly classes, retreats, and practice groups. Additionally I am currently helping an NVC trainer in developing his business. NVC  has offered me an exceptional opportunity to learn how to better connect and empathize with the variety of people I encounter, mediate situations of conflict and tension, and experience getting in touch with my own feelings and needs.

I have also been working with a life coach to transform many of my limiting beliefs. For so much of my life I have been my own worst enemy by choosing to hold on to beliefs of doubt about my ability to succeed in my goals and dreams. I am working to examine my thoughts and words and choose very intentionally to create beliefs that empower me to succeed in experiencing the longings of my heart.

One of my goals has been to explore my love for writing and sharing ideas that inspire others. I have just created a new blog where I will share quote-inspired reflections that are designed to offer hope, inspiration, and motivation. I will be writing several times a week and I would greatly appreciate if you could take a moment and see the website called Stepping Into Wonder and "Like" the Facebook Page.

Thank you for reading, your support has been tremendous for giving me sense of community while I was in foreign countries. This will be the last post...or at least until I decide to go traveling or living abroad again :).

Much Love and Gratitude to All of You
- Karl

About one month ago I finished the A2 Level of the German language courses and decided I would take a week or two to assess what my next step would be before signing up for another class. That "week or two" turned into a month. What I didn't expect was how, what appeared to be, the simple act of "assessing my next step" would throw me into a state of great uncertainty, where everything aspect of my life seemed ripe for scrutiny and reassessment. I'll share some experiences and reflections below about facing life choices and creating a positive mindset.

Life in Austria

After one and a half months in Germany, I moved to Austria (in the middle of September). I have been living with family friends for the past three weeks in a small village outside Salzburg.

It's quite a unique house that is set into the rock of a hill overlooking the region, backing up to a serene forest; next to the house is some of the remaining foundation from a fort that was here in the 1700s. On the bottom floor of the house is a traditional Austrian restaurant that is owned by the couple who live on the second floor, and on the third floor is an attic room where I reside. There is a second building that is detached from that house that is used for additional restaurant guests as well as an old church that is used for special occasions like weddings and holiday masses. The house is set on a hill with a beautiful view of the neighboring region and villages (see photos).

Guten Tag!

And so my time in Germany comes to an end and a new home awaits me in Austria. When I moved in with the family in Germany, we had agreed that I would stay one month; I have also completed the first level of the German language course I was taking in Lindau (Level A1). I am now going to be staying with family friends who live near Salzburg in Austria to continue studying German and begin my job search. I am incredibly grateful for the family's hospitality in Germany and feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to live with them (see photo).

In this blog entry I would like to share some observations that stood out from my time in Germany. Bear in mind that I only lived in the country for a month and a half, so my observations are limited.

I am very grateful for my new life in Germany. Though it is challenging at times living in new country and learning a new language, it has been very rewarding. I continue to take German classes 5 days a week and work part time for the family I am living with. An important step I needed to take in order to move to Germany was to drastically reduce my number of possessions. I discuss my approach to living with less below.

Living with Less

‘It is preoccupation with possession, more than anything else, that prevents men [and women] from living freely and nobly.’ ~Bertrand Russell

About a year ago, I had a realization - I had too much stuff. And I realized that each possession I owned took a significant amount of time to manage and it kept me from being mobile. So I decided to take a more minimalistic approach and I begun decluttering my life.

And so my new life begins in another country on another continent in a new culture with a foreign language.

I arrived in Germany August 2, 2010. I am staying with a family in a small village in the south of Germany, near the Swiss and Austrian border (the closest major city is Lindau). I am residing in a small camper next to the family's house. I considerate it a great pleasure to have my own space, even though it lacks a bathroom and insulation. But I have no complaints, I feel so fortunate to be able to stay with this hospitable and generous family and to enjoy the Bavarian surroundings.

I am moving to Germany August 1, 2010.

The long awaited move abroad will soon begin. I'm already in the process of moving as I have sold most of my possessions and am house sitting until I leave the country. I'm currently finishing up tasks with my job, practicing German, and figuring out all the details I need to take care of before moving abroad. I have dual citizenship with Austria, so I can legally live and work anywhere in Europe (my father is from Austria).

Share your thoughts, experiences, ideas, reflections, etc!