“There’s a sunrise and sunset every day. You can choose to be there for it. You can put yourself in the way of beauty.” (Cheryl Strayed)

Black Forest

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Während meiner Frühmorgenläufe habe ich verschiedene, teils spektakuläre Himmelsbilder bewundern dürfen. Das könnte mich noch zum überzeugten Morgenläufer machen ;-). Im Sommer war es um ca. 6 Uhr morgens, als die Sonne aufging. Nun ist es gegen 7.30 Uhr. Am letzten Sonntag beschien um diese Uhrzeit die aufgehende Sonne die Bäume auf einmal so schön, dass ich mich entschied, die Stimmung beim Sonnenaufgang am nächsten Tag bewusst zu erleben und mit der Kamera festzuhalten. Das erinnert mich an das obige Zitat aus dem Film “Wild” (es gibt auch ein zugrundeliegendes Buch von Cheryl Strayed über ihr Abenteuer, den Pacific Crest Trail zu wandern). Zurück zu meinem kleinen “Abenteuer”. Als erstes hab ich den Mond verschwinden sehen:

On early morning runs, I have been able to view spectacular sky pictures. This has the potential to make a convinced early morning runner out of me ;-). During summer, it was around 6 am when the sun started to rise. Now, it is around 7.30 am. Last Sunday, the trees have been illuminated by the rising sun in such a beautiful way that I decided to go out to watch the sunrise with my camera the next day. This reminds me of the quotation above from the movie “Wild” (there is also an underlying book by Cheryl Strayed on her hike along the Pacific Crest Trail). I first watched the moon disappear:

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Dann habe ich ein paar Bilder vom Sonnenaufgang und dem Licht in den Bäumen gemacht:

Then I took a few pics of the sunrise and the light shining on the trees:

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Und ein paar weitere herbstliche Bilder:

And a few more autumnal pics:

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Dann hab ich mich mit einer Tasse Tee auf eine Bank mit Ausblick gesetzt, um die Sonne weiter aufgehen zu sehen und dem Wind, der durch das Gras wehte, zu lauschen:

Afterwards, I sat down with a cup of tea on a bench with a view watching the sun rise further and listening to the wind in the grass:

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Schließlich fuhr ich wieder heim, um in den Tag zu starten, glücklich darüber, dass ich es geschafft habe, eines dieser kleinen, schon länger geplanten und so gemütserfrischenden Projekte umgesetzt zu haben.

And I drove home again to start the day, happy to have realized one of these little fun projects I have planned for a while.

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Fortschritte an den Balkonen – progress on the balconies

Renovation

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An meinem Haus gibt es derzeit einige angefangene Baustellen. Eine davon sind die Balkone – die 4 Balkone, um genau zu sein (die 2 Terrassen sind nicht inbegriffen). Es gibt also einige Gästezimmer mit Balkon – das ist toll, aber auch erst mal viel Arbeit. Denn hier ist eine Generalüberholung in mehreren Schritten fällig. Das Projekt „Balkone“ habe ich inklusive der Planung meinem Bruder übergeben, als er seine Bereitschaft zu helfen bekundete. So hatte er ein eigenes Projekt mit Verantwortung zum Planen und konnte sich auch in eine ganz neue Materie einarbeiten: das Schweißen. Ich erzähle gleich warum.

Grob gesagt lässt sich die Balkonsanierung in 4 Schritte unterteilen:

  • Geländer erhöhen
  • Geländer und Böden abschleifen und neu streichen
  • Boden-Unterkonstruktion erneuern
  • neue Bretter für’s Geländer anbringen.

Die ersten beiden Schritte sind nun gemacht – da die beiden weiteren wohl erst nach dem Winter ausgeführt werden, habe ich mich entschieden, jetzt einen Blog-Beitrag zu diesem Thema zu schreiben und nicht erst bei Fertigstellung des Projekts. Denn zu erzählen gibt’s darüber schon genug.

Da die Geländer extrem niedrig waren und ich ja nicht will, dass deshalb jemand vom Balkon fällt, mussten sie zunächst erhöht werden. Dafür hat sich mein Bruder folgendes ausgedacht: In die Balkongeländer werden Verlängerungsteile gesteckt. Als erstes hat er diese Teile zusammengeschweißt. Das Schweißgerät haben wird übrigens ausgeliehen.

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There are many begun building sites at my house right now. One of them is called „the balconies“ – the 4 balconies, to be precise (the 2 terraces are not included). Hence, there are many guestrooms with a balcony  – that’s great, but lots of renovation work first. Because the balconies need a general overhaul within several steps.

I handed the complete „balcony-project“ including the planning over to my brother, as soon as he offered some help. He had a project and responsibility on his own that way and could start with something new: welding. I will tell you why in a second.

The balcony renovation can be divided into four big steps:

  • Increasing the height of the balustrades
  • Painting the balustrades and floors
  • Renewing the supporting constructions
  • Adding new woode boards at the balustrade.

The first two steps have been finished now – and because the full completion of the project might take until next year, I decided to write this blog post now because there’s already a lot to write on this subject.

Okay, first step: because the balustrades have been really low and I don’t want anybody to fall of the balcony, the height needed to be increased. My brother solved it that way: he created extention pieces to be put in the iron balustrades. He welded them first of all with a rented machine:

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Dann wurden von den Balkonen die alten Bretter entfernt und in die Geländer unten durchgesägt, wo die Verlängerungen aufgesteckt werden sollten.

The old wooden boards had to be removed and the balustrades had to be sawed through at the point where we aimed to put in the extention pieces:

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Dann wurden die Verlängerungsteile reingesteckt und das Geländer wieder daraufgesetzt (meine Mama und ich halfen etwas beim Halten des Geländers bei diesem spannenden Arbeitsschritt).

Then, the extention pieces were sticked into the wholes and the balustrade has been put on top again (this was an exciting step where my mom and I helped out a little).

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Die Freude über den ersten geglückten Balkon war groß:

It worked – and everybody was full of joy after the first balcony:

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Im nächsten Schritt wurden die eingesetzten Teile verschweißt. Danach die Schweißnähte abgeflext.

In a next step, the new pieces were sealed. And then, the welding seams were removed with the flex.

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Schließlich wurden die Balkone im nächsten Schritt ganz abgeschliffen. Und dann zwei Mal gestrichen. Da mein Bruder im Sommer nach gut einer Woche wieder gehen musste, wurde meine Mama instruiert, die einen Balkon ganz bewältigte. Und den Job haben meine Helfer dann für zwei weitere Balkone zuende gebracht. Ich war nur am Rande involviert und hab ein wenig beim Streichen ausgeholfen – die meiste Zeit hab ich beeindruckt zugeschaut (oder angstvoll wenn’s mit der Flex ans Schleifen der Nähte ging) und gehofft, dass alles gut geht. Und dass immer alle gut durch Klettergurte gesichert sind, das war mir auch extrem wichtig. Ich hab zum Glück nie jemand am Haus im Klettergurt hängend baumeln sehen und bin wirklich froh, dass alles soweit gut ging.

In a next step, the balustrades and floors were grinded and painted twice. When my brother left, my mother took over and finished one balcony. My helpers did the remaining balconies. I have not really been involved in all this, I have just helped out with some painting. I mainly observed the process (impressed and fearfull when I saw people with the flex) and hoped that everything would go well. I ensured people were secured through their climbing equipment. I am so relieved everything went well so far.

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Super gemacht (clever geplant und kompetent ausgeführt), Lukas. Vielen Dank! Zwei von vier Arbeitsschritten sind geschafft ….

Well done, Lukas (smart planning and competent execution)! Thanks a lot. Two out of four steps are done …

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Der Arbeitsplatz auf den Balkonen war natürlich nicht schlecht, da man so was vom Dorfgeschehen mitbekommt (anders als Leitungen im Keller verlegen, gell, Papa?). Und für die Leute aus dem Dorf war’s auch interessant. Genauso wie für den Touristenbus aus Ostfriesland, der sich zu der Zeit im Hotel nebenan aufhielt. Bei einer Bustour durch den Schwarzwald drehte der Bus morgens vor meinem Haus – Lukas stand schon mit der Flex bewaffnet startbereit auf dem Balkon im 1. Stock. Und ich hab von meinem Wohnzimmer aus einen Stock tiefer gesehen, wie begeistert die 30 Köpfe aus dem Bus heraus meinen Bruder angeschaut haben. Action schon direkt vor Ort, da braucht man ja eigentlich gar nicht mehr wegzufahren zum Sight Seeing… Ist aber verständlich, dass die jungen, fleißigen und Leute hier auf den Balkonen für Aufmerksamkeit sorgen. Richtige Handwerkermodels (O-Ton meiner Mama)!

Susi’s Besuch – Susi’s visit

Renovation

Letztes Wochenende kam mich eine sehr gute Freundin aus Zürich besuchen. Meine Sportsfreundin, denn uns verbinden einige gemeinsame größere wie kleinere Läufe, Radtouren, Wanderungen und Sonntag-Nachmittag-Spaziergänge. Aus diesem Grund ist Susi eine hochgeschätzte Freundin von mir, da es gar nicht so einfach ist, jemand zu finden, mit dem man so gut zusammen Sport machen kann. Ihr Hauptsport ist ja das Radfahren, weshalb sie auch aus der Schweiz angeradelt kam. Unvorstellbare 180km und 2200 Höhenmeter an einem Tag, wenn ich die Zahlen richtig im Kopf behalten habe. Auch die Hälfte wär schon beeindruckend …. Und Susi hatte dennoch genug Energie, hier mitanzupacken und ihre Begeisterung zum Ausdruck zu bringen: bis spät abends hat sie einen Raum tapeziert und am nächsten Tag noch gestrichen. Für Spaziergänge durch den Ort und ausgiebige Gespräche, um uns von den Erlebnissen der letzten Monate im Leben der anderen zu berichten, hatten wir auch.

Es war super, dich hier zu sehen und dir alles zeigen zu können, Susi! Vor allem da du den Prozess bis hin zu der Entscheidung zum Hauskauf, meine ganzen Gedanken und Zweifel hautnah mitbekommen hast.

Hier im Schwarzwald kamen deine Freude und Erfahrung am Heimwerken auch voll und ganz durch.

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Last weekend, a very good friend of mine from Zurich came to visit. My sports friend – we share memories of many small and big runs, bike tours, hikes and Sunday-afternoon-walks togehter. That’s why Susi is a highly appreciated friend of mine – it’s not so easy to find somebody you can do sports with so well. Her main sports is cycling … that’s why she came by bike from Switzerland. An incredible distance of 180km and 2200 meters difference in altitude in one day, if I remember the figures correctly (already half of this sounds impressive). And Susi still had enough energy to help here and show her enthusiasm for my project. She wallpapered until late at night and continued painting the next day. We also went for a walk and had long conversations, to update each other on the past months.

It was great to see you, Susi, and to show you everything. Particularily because you have been involved in the whole process that lead to the result that I bought this house, I shared all my thoughts and doubts with you during one year.

Over here in the Black Forest, your joy and experience in DIY-activities were obvious as well.

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Ein Spaziergang, der bei einem langen Gespräch auf einer sonnigen Bank endete …

A walk where we ended up sitting on a bench in the sun and talking …

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Und sie fuhr wieder los …

And she cycled away again …

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11 Pieces of Rebel Advice

Entrepreneurship

Ich lese ja im Moment nicht gerade viel (ich bin seit März am gleichen Buch und es ist mir wirklich noch nie passiert, dass ich so lange an einem Roman gelesen habe. Auch wenn es ein dicker Schinken ist, ist mir das als begeisterte Leserin ein wenig peinlich). Aber ein wenig einschlägige Unternehmer-Literatur zu lesen, bevorzugt in Form von kurzen Artikeln, bringe ich noch unter. Ein Artikel mit dem Titel 11 Pieces of Rebel Advice That Will Catapult Your Startup Success von entrepreneur.com fand ich sehr cool – einerseits weil ich mich mit dem Inhalt an vielen Stellen identifizieren kann, andererseits, weil ich auch noch einiges lernen kann – und weil er eine lustige Lektüre ist. Nun im Folgenden der Original-Artikel, der oben verlinkt ist, mit meinen Kommentaren in blau (die Bilder habe auch ich eingefügt). Ausnahmsweise nur auf Englisch, da der Artikel in dieser Sprache verfasst wurde.

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I am not reading much at the moment ( I have been reading the same novel since March this year, this never happened to me before. Though it is a book of more than 1000 pages, I still feel a little embarrassed about it because I really love reading). Still, I manage to read a little bit of relevant literature about entrepreneurship, preferably in the form of short articles. One article with the headline 11 Pieces of Rebel Advice That Will Catapult Your Startup Success from entrepreneur.com has been really cool. On the one hand because I can identify with a lot of content, on the other hand because I can still learn something from it. And it’s fun to read it. You can find the original article below, with my personal comments in blue (the pictures are mine as well).

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And here comes the article:

I’m not here to waste your time, and I hope you’re not here to waste mine. So, I’m going to keep this short.

Nothing like a little Ben Affleck in Boiler Room to get us going. (Watch it right now here so you get a grasp on the tone of this piece.)

These are strategies that have worked for me, but may not necessarily work for you, so take them with a grain of salt. Let’s get to it:

Yes, I will take everything with a grain of salt:

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1. F**k off

Make sure the timing is right. I work my butt off — more than 12 hours a day usually. My only true rest day is Saturday afternoon after I do CrossFit for a few hours.

The past two weeks I’ve been stressed out with some major project deadlines looming, Entrepreneur writing deadlines, juggling my other startups, planning for my wedding in October and planning for a trip to Europe in August. I’m not usually that stresed out guy.

I never play video games anymore, but randomly I downloaded this game called Boom Beach on my Android tablet, and have been playing it the past couple days. The game is similar to the old Command & Conquer. It’s been awesome to free my mind, and just f**k off a little.

Guess what happened? My projects were accomplished. My writing is on point. My startups are moving forward and Europe is not going anywhere.

Know when the time is right, and go f**k off — whatever that means for you. It will help your brain to disconnect.

I usually go outside for a run in such a case. If I am already too tired for anything and it’s at least 8 o’clock, a glass of wine and/or an entertaining movie will do it as well.

2. Work for free

Last year, Mark Cuban was persecuted for an old rant about not being able to hire free interns. Apparently, working for free goes against the majority’s thinking. I’ve used it to my advantage my entire life.

Early in my career I worked for free all over the place. It was the single most important activity I did. My experience doubled over night, and I learned how to create enough value at each internship that I eventually was offered a position. I typically turned it down and moved on at that point because I learned as much as I could.

To this day I’m not afraid to work for free if I see an upside. Also, most of the startups I build are bootstrapped. Guess what that means? I work for free. Yippee!

Working for free turns you into a value creating machine. You learn how to create assets that did not exist previously, and it can afford you all sorts of opportunities to work with people you may not have had the chance to otherwise.

During my studies, I did an internship in a small estate agency. I have been working pretty much for free – for a weekly salary of 30 Pounds. But that did not matter. Because I had responsibility, I had been given a project on my own (the creation of a marketing magazine as a project manager, including the design, selling of adverts and editing the content), I have been working voluntarily on it as much as I could – forgetting about time of office hours. I have been so satisfied in the end having finished successfully. And more importantly, I got enthusiastic about entrepreneurship through this experience and had learned a lot – thanks to my boss and other people involved in the project. Since then, I had the wish to become an entrepreneur some time in the future … 

3. Work on multiple projects

Most of the advice out there will tell you to focus on one thing, use all of your energy, blah, blah, blah. I disagree.

To clarify, I’m not talking about multi-tasking, I’m talking about working on multiple projects simultaneously. For example, I have my main digital marketing company (that is spinning out a sister company that focuses on experiential marketing, guerrilla marketing and publicity stunts). I have a handful of startups, and am focused on building my personal brand. I’m writing a book, and constantly helping and mentoring other entrepreneurs.

There are always sticking points and risk with startups. Having multiple things going on at once helps you to constantly move rather than get stuck, and helps mitigate risks. I’ve learned how to prioritize effectively, and allocate more of my time and energy to the projects that demand them.

Yep, I have always been interested in many things. And I will never excel in something as I just do too many things at the same time. But I love being involved in many projects and having the freedom to organize my day the way I want to. At the moment, it looks like this: a LOT of planning for my project, some phone conversations with people who can help me, doing some sports, chatting with a friend on skype for 15 minutes, renovating a bit, and a bit of household in between, and finally doing some translation work to earn at least a little money. Not to forget some writing inbetween ;-).

4. Work whenever you want

My workload fluctuates, but I tend to keep a full plate. One perk of being an entrepreneur is that I can work whenever I want. Granted, I have clients and troops that I have to communicate with and be accessible to, but I can choose when to work for the most part.

Some days I’ll stop working in the day and go see a movie, or hang out with my fiancee and puppy. I like to work at night, and tend to stay up late. I use this flexibility to my advantage to accomplish my objectives during my peak hours.

I love to have this freedom. When I was writing my diploma thesis, I ended up working at night because it has been so calm outside and I felt less distracted. I like that atmosphere. On the other hand, I have become an early bird during the last months. Being woken up by the sun and early morning time are special as well. But I got into that rhythm by being physically active as well and simply too tired to enjoy a long evening. So I have been tired early and simply went to bed.

5. Work wherever you want

I used to have really nice office space, and then I shut it down. It was a waste of overhead and made me feel like I had a job.

I love the nomadic entrepreneur lifestyle. Everything I do is online, and it affords me the luxury to work wherever I want. This is another perk of being an entrepreneur. Take advantage of it. Go work at the pool or beach or at a co-working space with other entrepreneurs. You can even travel the world and use Nomad List to figure out the best places in the world to work.

I say with using a picture:

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6. Ask for more

If you don’t ask, you don’t receive, right? Push the envelope, any envelope, all the envelopes.

I do this in life and as an entrepreneur. For example, a few years ago I was flying somewhere for business. I saw that there were some empty seats in first class. I went up to the flight attendant, turned up my charm  and asked, “What would it take for me to ride up here where I belong?” She chuckled, and gave me a seat. Maybe this is a shallow example, but you get my point.

Don’t be afraid to ask for more. Ask for more from yourself, your team, investors, clients and the Starbuck’s barista serving your double shot mocha venti latte. A funny thing happens when you start asking, you usually receive.

I already feel more self confident having my own project and being able to be 100% authenthic and myself, but this is proabaly still the hardest part for me … something to work on.

7. Bend the rules

Of course, this would be in this list somewhere. Look at this awesome quote I got from Tucker Max:

As an entrepreneur, you always want to learn the rules, but only so you can know exactly how to bend and break them when needed.

Bending the rules will allow you to think outside the lines, and allow you to see the world through a different lens. It is that unique lens that can separate you from the herd, which will empower you to be a stronger entrepreneur.

I like this. I think that we are kind of overregulated in Europe. And it’s pretty easy to sit somewhere and make rules for others. Nevertheless, many rules do make sense and I am not fighting against everything. But I think it’s important to know and question the rules. And I think that NO regulation can replace THINKING ON YOUR OWN and HUMANITY – so they are limited in that respect.

8. Don’t take yourself seriously

This is important. Taking yourself seriously is a sign of inflated ego, and inflated ego is a weak character trait. Make fun of yourself. Share your quirks and awkwardness. Nobody is perfect. This will help build authentic relationships with people and show your true self.

An excellent advice you can read a lot in guidebooks. I had to think of it all the time I put on my rain clothes on the Camino the Santiago. This picture reminds me of it:

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9. Embrace your haters

You will have many haters if you follow my advice. Sometimes they’re undercover haters, sometimes they’re out in the open and most of the time they like to hide behind the anonymity of the Internet.

I have lots of experience with this. Have you Googled my name? Yep. Thanks haters. Who cares. I’ve learned to embrace them. If it wasn’t for the negative online slander against me, I probably wouldn’t have ever started writing. So, thank you haters.

Very wise. Not the point of the author’s advice, but this reminds me of the following Bible verse: “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27 … and there are similar passages)

10. Be controversial

Don’t be controversial just for the sake of being controversial. That’s lame and a waste of everyone’s time. However, if you’re passionate about something, stand up for it. Even if it goes against the norm.

Nobody in their right mind would write the type of articles I write, such as “6 Life Hacks Learned In Prison That Will Maximize Your Productivity” or “How My Life As An Entrepreneur Shaped My Time In Prison.” In fact, some of my closest friends and contacts urged against me sharing so much. Personally, I felt the risk was worth the payout though.

And guess what? It has been.

My “6 Life Hacks Learned In Prison” column has afforded me all types of opportunity. It was picked up by TIME.com, FOX and other notable media outlets. I earned new business. I picked up a new contribution role for another media company and I continue to build authentic relationships with people through my brand.

I totally agree. I have been a rebel as a teenager because I found it cool. I am not doing it anymore. But so often, I realize that I am just not mainstream in what I like, think and how I act. Not because I want to be a rebel, but because my personality and convictions are different. And I want to be myself.

11. Take a stance

Almost in the same vein of the above point, don’t be afraid to take a stance. Too many people are afraid to stand up for what they believe in these days.

This is my favorite Steve Jobs quote:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

I think I don’t need to specify this. I have bought my house and now I will continue working on this project instead of blogging …

Here’s the plain truth, not everyone is going to like you. Who cares? Get over it and live your life without regrets.

This has turned into more of a motivational speech than I planned for. My editor rushed me to finish though, so this isn’t the right time to f**k off. Remember, life is short. Take risks, live without regrets and go download that Boom Beach game (you’ll thank me, it is seriously fun).

If you like and agree with all of this, and even if you don’t and want to create a dart board with my name on it, go sign up on my website. I’m going to start sending off badass, fun, motivational, insirational, 100 to 200 character messages Monday through Friday to help you stay on the grind throughout the week.

Action on the terrace

Renovation

Diese Woche hatte ich wieder zwei fleißige, starke und motivierte Helfer: Lea und Jonas. Das Hauptprojekt war die Terrasse. Es musste noch einiges an Erde ausgegraben werden. Zu dritt haben wir angefangen (bis ich die beiden irgendwann im Stich gelassen habe). Als Highlight kam am Freitag ein Traktor in den Garten gefahren, um Schotter abzuladen, den wir dann auf der ausgegrabenen Fläche verteilt haben.

This week, I had two hard-working, strong and motivated helpers again: Lea and Jonas. The main project was to continue with the terrasse. Lots of digging. The three of us started to work on it (but I let them down later on). And as a highlight, we had a tractor bringing gravel on Friday, before evening the surface out.

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loosening up the soil …. or something like this

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not surprisingly, I preferred the part involving running – under more difficult conditions than usual

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a well deserved end of work beer!

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thanks to Jonas, the digging result looked that properly

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a very kind neighbour brought some gravel with his tractor (so that we didn’t need to drive 30 times with the car trailer).

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as it looks right now

Meine vielseitig einsetzbares Team hat aber auch an sämtlichen weiteren Stellen im Haus für einen signifikanten Fortschritt gesorgt: Balkone fertig schleifen und streichen, Werkzeug in der Garage sortieren, streichen, Tapeten ablösen und sogar ein erster Tapezierversuch wurde gemacht. Klasse!

My very versatile team also made significant progress in various other corners of the house: they finished grinding and painting the balconies, sorted out the tools in the garage, took of wallpapers, painted and had a shot at wallpapering. Great!

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Noch einmal Danke, Lea und Jonas, ich freue mich sehr über den Fortschritt am Haus durch eure fachmännische Arbeit. Und ich fand es super, in den letzten zwei Wochen von (vergleichsweise sehr) jungen Leuten umgeben zu sein, die bald anfangen zu studieren (bzw. am Anfang des Studiums stehen), was bei mir Erinnerungen an meine Studienzeit geweckt hat. Und natürlich hat es mir auch gefallen, das Haus so voller Leben und Energie zu sehen. Es geht was voran!

Thank you once more Lea and Jonas, I am so happy about the progress that has been made through your very skillful work. And I have enjoyed being around (comparably very) young people during the last two weeks who are about to start studying, what reminds me of my studying times – as well as seing the house so full of life and energy. There’s something going on!