2 weeks to go…

The last two weeks before moving to Lisbon now have officially begun… I’m so excited! As a really great friend of mine is getting married (hey! All the best to you!!) in Germany, I managed to sneak in two weeks of almost rest and relaxation in my home town. Actually, this is a brilliant little break: It allows me to have the space to focus on what I’ll do in Portugal, develop some very exciting projects that I have lined up – and also to reflect back on how I used the [more or less] last twelve months to dramatically shift my life and develop it in the direction I want to grow in. I’m really grateful for this, and, if I think back, it is amazing how things have moved on.

Of course, around this time last year, I started my own “happiness” project  (loosely based on Gretchen Rubin’s happiness project ideas). This certainly helped me focus a lot, and turn things around. I still think it is a great book – and one that can help a lot of people turn their life around by focusing on one aspect at a time. Of course, the key is to develop the areas which need development – and then focus one month on developing each area and develop new habits. If you haven’t read her work, please do. You don’t need to be depressed or even sad to use her ideas – even if you are quite content at the moment, using her techniques is bound to bring more happiness into your life.

I know I haven’t been my most productive last year…, publishing only a few articles. But things are also picking up there – and I’m really looking forward to my new environment and freedom to fully focus on the projects I really want to focus on. I’m just starting to work on my 8th book, a new edition of another book needs to be delivered to the publishers early next year – and I still have a lot of articles in the pipeline somewhere. So I’m really excited about finding the space and freedom to focus on these soon.

Alongside the books, I’m also focusing on developing a training and personal development/coaching business (more about that in future posts!). The last few months I have been starting to work on the concepts and ideas that will guide the development – and importantly, help people achieve more of what they want. When I worked as an academic, I ran quite number of executive classes – and I really enjoyed them immensely: Not least, because they were both massively challenging and tremendously rewarding at the same time. After a weekend of working with high powered executives, I always left the class room totally exhausted, but also intensely satisfied. So picking up from there and developing more in that area seems … well. I guess both positively challenging as well as potentially hugely rewarding.

So… there we go… With just two weeks to go, I can’t say how amazingly grateful and happy I’m to be in this space at this moment. And helped by a lot of amazing friends and colleagues who made this all possible over the last year or so. Thank you to all of you – and hopefully see you in Lisbon very soon!

[Picture: My temporary “office” at my parent’s home in Germany. I love the view over the garden – and the sunshine we are having in Germany at the moment. Almost feels like southern Europe!]

Summer Plans

Have you noticed? It is almost summer! Time to make some summer plans… FullSizeRender

Luckily (I guess) I still have heaps of vacation time left before leaving my job. So I’m now making plans what I’ll do this summer… after all, what is a single gay boy (ok, the boy bit is maybe a bit stupid)… so what is a relatively newly single gay guy to do?

Lisbon is obviously high on the agenda. Not least because I have started to learn Portuguese … so it is time to practice those skills. And learn a bit more… more about that in the next post about learning Portuguese! Continue reading “Summer Plans”

Decluttering … Moving Madness

I haven’t moved in a while. During my twenties, I moved every two or three years to a different country. So I guess things just got totally organised every now and then. But since settling down in London in my late 20s, I only moved from a smaller place to larger place…

Letters. Lots of letter.

A photo posted by Urbangay (@urbangayblog) on

… and at the time I really didn’t clean stuff out. I know the claims supporting clearing out and decluttering… and I liked the idea for a while. But seriously… just thinking about it made me prefer washing dishes.

Now the good thing is that I will move. No buts, no ifs. So… things have to get tidied up. And I don’t want to move to Portugal with a van-load of stuff. Now for many things this is pretty easy. After a few days of doing it, … I can say throwing out stuff is quite easy. Yes… I still had some jeans from the 1990s, … and those are now on the way to a charity shop. Books… similar. Yes, they were amazing to read at the time. But really, text books from the 1990s about internet are not the most useful stuff nowadays. So… charity shop, too.

But now I have hit a bit of an obstacle. I have a massive box full of stuff from exes. All sorts of stuff. Love letters, letters when we were fighting (we wrote letters!), small things, emotional things. To be honest, I hadn’t looked at them for quite a while. But… it feels strange to think about letting go of them. In a way, they tell stories about the journey I made, or we made (whomever it was at the time).

As a friend of mine is also moving, I asked him for advice. My first instinct was to clear it all out. I thought, what is the point of bringing all this baggage into my “new life”. In some ways, that makes sense, I guess. But he actually came up with a much neater suggestion: Leave it to last. Then take each item and ask yourself: Does it remind you of something happy? If so… keep it. If you don’t remember, don’t really know – or especially if not, throw it away. I think it sounds like the most sensible solution.

Yes, going through the piles and piles of letters and putting them all in one place, small notes and cards brought back some good memories. And also some bad. At the moment, they now sit, as a big pile, in my living room. And I will keep just a few of the items (mostly letters), ones that remind me of a person in a positive way. And all the others,… well… it is time to make space for some new experiences in my life.

Road ahead: Olá Portugal

ptsignSo it is reset time … and while it sadly isn’t as quick and easy to “reset” a life as it is to wipe a blog out of the digital cosmos, the preparation for the final reset is something that is keeping me very busy indeed…

Over the last few years, I had toyed a lot with, one day, moving to Southern Europe. I used to live in Spain almost 20 years ago, which I fondly remember… and so I tried to figure out if it would be a good idea to return to Spain. In a way, returning to a country I know fairly well seemed like the easy option – and also the option that would have probably been easiest. And Spain certainly has a lot to offer in term of lifestyle, weather, food… and I speak the language reasonably ok. However, I fairly quickly realised that returning to Spain would be a little like chasing my time that I spent there as a student. In fact, I quickly became convinced that, for all the nice memories I have looking back, going back twenty years later would be setting me up to fail miserably. Not only  a lot of things would have changed, but also many of the people I was with there were either no longer there, are married etc etc… so in one way or another returning at least to the same city (in my case Barcelona) would be tricky for me.

As you may remember from previous Blog posts, I spent quite some time traveling around different places in Spain over the last few years. While the main purpose of the travels wasn’t to find a new “home”, the thought always played on my mind. To be honest, I couldn’t really say way, but there wasn’t another place that I felt good about in quite the same way as what I remember feeling the first time I was in Barcelona. Sure… I visited some amazing cities, and many are great, in fact, very pretty, have amazing food and lovely people… but there was always a little something that seemed to be missing for it to appeal as a more permanent home.

In an odd way, until a few years ago, I had never been to Portugal. Odd especially, as my mother, although not herself Portuguese, spent quite some time close to Lisbon when she was young. Thus, I always heard about this “magical” place from when I was a child… but somehow never managed to visit it.

This changed three years back, when I was in Portugal for work, or Lisbon to be precise. It was a rather short stay, just a week, so I didn’t really have much time to explore the city or country. But I remember thinking that I thought it was a pretty nice place. Smaller, compact and maybe a little more quiet than London, Madrid or even Barcelona… but it had a very pleasant vibe. And a good vibe that stayed with me, even when I arrived with pretty high expectations based on the tales of childhood.

Last year, again mainly because of coincidences, I ended up again going to Lisbon. This time I had more time and could explore some more. While, of course, those impressions must be pretty superficial, it confirmed to me that Lisbon is a pretty nice place. And that maybe it is exactly the place that offers all the positive things I imagine in terms of weather, food, culture etc – while at the same time being sufficiently different not to constantly invite me to draw conclusions to my memories of Barcelona (ok, I admit, there are a few parallels I can think of …).

So when I started to “reset” it all, I decided at least tentatively to focus on moving to Lisbon. So earlier this year, I made another trip, looked around and tried to discover more places and get a feel of how it would feel like living there… especially living there on my own, even without friends to begin with.

One of the things I immediately figured out was the need to learn the language, of course. After all, it is ok to stay in a place for a few days and not speak the language. But when making this place home, language is essential. I’m a little bit lucky in that I speak Spanish reasonably well – as luckily both languages share many similarities. On the other hand, I’m unlucky to speak Spanish reasonably well,… as both languages are also quite different. And so knowing the one can become quite confusing when trying to speak the other.

The first thing I did was to look for a course: At the moment, I’m enrolled on a language course in London (lots of fun!). It should provide me with some basics, and hopefully make me fluent enough to understand and talk a bit more than just pointing and using some simple words. During my last stay in Lisbon, I also enrolled in a language course there over the summer. I still have a lot of holiday days left while working out my notice period, so I figured I can put them to some good use and get to know a bit more about the place … and learn the language at the same time.

Roughly… this is where I’m at now: Working out my notice period, trying to fix the date I’ll be able to move, learn the language and find out more about this little country on Europe’s west coast… of which I thought I knew quite a bit, but every time I look, I seem to discover lots of new and exciting things. I hope I can share them with you over the next few months… and, if you have any comments or suggestions… please… get in touch!

Reset!

resetSometimes in life we just need a reset… A real drastic change, where everything old is thrown out – and we make room for all the new, and hopefully better. I’m at such a point right now… and so I have decided to hit the reset button.

Things have been quite rocky on many fronts, especially over the past year or so. Eventually things needed more than just tinkering around the edges, trying to work things out (again) or attempting to fix something that may have been broken from the start. Either way… earlier this year I decided that what I really need is a complete reset. Literally a restart of my life.

Especially on the personal front a lot has happened (as those of you who regularly read the blog know). And a lot of time I spent in a bad limbo … something that rocks the strongest guy in a bad way. With hindsight, it was probably clear that things had to end and everyone had to move on somewhere … but hindsight is a nice thing. Either way, I’m a “happy single” again, and actually feel good about that part of my life.

A few other really important things had also taken the backseat… job, travel for work and problems with the two guys had simply taken over. So, earlier this year I sat down and started to redesign things from scratch. Yes, I literally decided to throw all up in the air and start afresh. Amongst those things that are now on the horizon are quitting my current job and moving to a different city (more about all this in due course).

Of course, putting it all on a piece of paper and calling it a “life from now on” plan is the easy part… now it is time to work on actually putting all of this into action and creating something that (hopefully) resembles the plan a bit in the end.  Sadly, while it is easy to hit the reset button on a website and start afresh, things in life are never quite that straight-forward. And while there is a great romantic notion of simply packing my bags and setting off in my head, I know that won’t quite work. But at least, I now have a direction. And I hope the upcoming journey is the fun part indeed!

To cut a long story short,… this is why this site is also blank (apart from this post). I decided it was time for a reset… a totally new start.