In 2018 I grew like a tree. Big trunk and light branches.

©Tam Thi Le Cao

©Tam Thi Le Cao

I’ve only been very personal on Instagram lately and thought I’ll share a more detailed recap of my year. I’ve grown like a tree this year. Big and sturdy trunk that roots me and many more light branches in the crown. I know better what grounds me and gives me stability. Having these roots, I’m able to experiment and explore. I can grow into whichever direction I choose, without losing the ground. I can decide to waste money on weird things like getting my hair curled because I think I have a curly character. Or explore my spiritual me.

I’ve started the year 2018 with a phase of incubation. I went on a solo trip to Barcelona and had the most creative burst ever, which I funnelled into poetry. Damn, I was feeling so artistic, you don’t even know. I read Rupi Kaur for the fist time. She’s one of the most successful online poets of this century. All inspired by her, I spilled tears onto paper and vomited out my emotions. Yes, I was in a good place, but my love life wasn’t. I’ll come back to that gossip later.

This Spanish creative incubation made me publish my first ever eBook. Yellow Sunlight for Your Soul covers poems about Fascination for others, Letting Go and Sex. Download it here and don’t take it too serious. My poetic skilled grew exponentially since then 🔥Looking at it now I’m a little embarrassed. I’ve learned so much more about flow of words, line length and images through words. But that’s how you grow.

After that I’ve teamed up with Sylvie, another female of my green sustainability bubble. With the help of some experts, we published the Conscious Closet Guide. A guide to make it easier for Slow Fashion beginners to find their way around this complex niche. Give it a free download here.

Showing off.

After these two eBooks, I’ve dived into the topic of Female Empowerment in Malmö. At my start-up job Drivhuset I was able to organise a Female Weekend Get Away with my great colleague Josefin. Aim was to gather females that follower their passion, isolate them on the country side in South Sweden, give them some vino and a sauna and see how they can learn from each other. Putting it in German words: I wanted to make them cry. In fact, it worked out the first evening and we all were vulnerable as fuck. I love it.

I’ve went on stage at Copenhagen Fashion Summit, the world’s most influential event for industry leaders in sustainable fashion and participated in the Youth Fashion Summit. There, future leaders teamed up to talk about Global Goal No.5 - Gender Equality in the fashion industry. Standing on stage was the most impactful moment of my 2017. I was able to address Stelly McCartney, the Ellan MacArthur Foundation and the Crown Princess of Denmark. Here is my blog post to recap the event.

© Copenhagen Fashion Summit

© Copenhagen Fashion Summit

© Copenhagen Fashion Summit

© Copenhagen Fashion Summit

Malmö and Scandinavia have given me more opportunity to integrate myself: I’ve developed another networking event for Female Entrepreneurs, was part of an influencer programme run by the city of Malmö, wrote an article for Inside Scandinavian Business and supported various other campaigns or NGOs. Now that 2018 has passed, I feel like I’ve settled in Malmö. And guess what, - I’m onto learning Swedish.


The summer

was just as much of a crazy rollercoaster ride as my love life. I went to a festival that is based on 10 principles, of which some are Radial Self-expression, Radical Inclusion and Leave No Trace. These 10 principles have originated at Burning Man. The festival basically was: Be who you are, enjoy the happy hippies and cuddle puddles, do whatever you feel like, even if that meant running around in adult diapers. Yes, that is true radical self-expression. You can be whoever you decide to be. Some roleplay another person for the whole festival and others try to find their inner self. Everyone is welcome and once we’ve celebrated a whole week of modern hippies, we left no trash behind. I’ve been running around an area of minimum 300 sqm to collect glitter left-overs from the ground. At Borderland Festival, I’ve discovered my inner yellow fox and guys, this was a great discovery. My yellow fox is loud, dominant and doesn’t give a damn about what others thing.

45132933_718637538528910_2494694464975536128_o.jpg
45085141_718640761861921_2886042663692271616_o.jpg
45052720_718640915195239_3659513510028640256_o.jpg
45186810_718636405195690_8978480019613417472_o.jpg
45121862_718641435195187_8676805846069411840_o.jpg
45138177_718640018528662_6307865309101424640_o.jpg
45259829_718641625195168_170905364412235776_o.jpg
45163720_718636251862372_1061778914151497728_o.jpg
45106956_718641628528501_5469150787097591808_o.jpg
All pictures by © Sascha Baridara

All pictures by © Sascha Baridara

After the festival I had to go back to reality

It took a while to get back to society. The festival was simply a parallel universe of peace, equality and consens and it was difficult to leave the mindset of utopia behind. But in September I’ve settled and started studying Creative Writing and Poetry to strengthen something I want to be better at.

After attending Berlin and Copenhagen Fashion Week and being a panel speaker at Madrid Fashion Week, my Instagram got shut down. I literally had a breakdown, an evening of crying and alcohol. Why did I have a damn breakdown because of a digital platform? Well, simply because this platform turns out to be more important to me than I thought. That’s not only where I got the majority of my freelance gigs, but also where I meet like-minded people, funnel my creativity into and start conversations about sustainability. Instagram is my favorite channel and digital place and I couldn’t imagine a Kim without it.

Luckily I’ve hacked the system and found a customer support of 2017 which Instagram shut down. Simply because they can. They just do whatever they want. In the end, it’s Facebook and they will be ruling the world based on their decisions. And if that means to not offer customer support despite being the biggest social platform of the 21st century, they simply do it. I’ve send a bit over 100 emails within 48 hours, as this is the time until all the data is deleted forever. And it worked. They activated my account again. But you can read on my face how entertaining that was:

KimGerlach.jpg
Photo on 2018-08-13 at 11.35.jpg

My emotional journey

© Pim Chu via Unsplash

© Pim Chu via Unsplash

In 2018 I romantically fell for someone for the first time after years again. Until coming to Malmö in 2016, I was too busy with my own life and didn’t feel the need to look for any partner. I was a proud and happy single. But since settling a bit more, I’ve noticed the need to buy a dog or find another human. I still wonder which of the two is the better option. (If some ex from pre-2016 is reading this now, sorry, I didn’t see you as a parent to my children. But probably we together have never seen it like this anyway). I’ve been an official single (with smaller and bigger emotional ties here and there) for six years. In 2018, I crushed on someone I met through Tinder, but after an intense getting-to-know-each-other he decided to slowly and painfully disappear. He had his reasons which I understand now much clearer, but I wasn’t capable at all to see why he turned away. It wasn’t easy but it was the best thing that could have happened to me and my poetry. Damn, I was sooo emotional and so good in putting pain onto paper. I took some time off to go on another solo trip to the US. In Chicago I’ve indulged in the city vibe and matcha lattes, while asking myself why the heck I’ve decided to stay in Malmö. The feeling of loneliness came up after the breakup again. Dog or another human?

Because of my yellow fox, I’ve started saying NO more. To small things at work or bigger life decisions. I said NO to plenty of collaborations for the blog. I’ve said NO to evenings I preferred to spend by myself and I’ve said NO to a great opportunity at work. Kim has learned to say ‘pay me a fair wage for my work’.

And I’ve decided to curl my hair. I’ve been working damn much lately and wanted to treat myself with something that would give me pleasure on a daily basis.

I became an avocado tree parent. My 2018 goal was to practice patients, so I started this project of growing avocado trees. So far, I’ve grown about 20 trees, of which I gave some away. Another 6 or so are waiting for me in my kitchen in Malmö. Fingers crossed the flatmates took as good care as I did.


My Roots.

©Pinterest

©Pinterest

6cded7931587c4818403275afde38f61.jpg


I believe everybody should know what grounds them. According to Maslow (see pic above), it’s the self-actualisation part I am working on. It’s the most difficult need to be fulfilled. Needs like security or psychological needs are very rudimental and easy to be fulfilled in today’s society. But true happiness and satisfaction come from grounding your inner being. Knowing who you are. Knowing want you desire. The school and knowledge of Chakras is something I’m still exploring, but seems like there’s an underlying mutuality in Western science and Eastern spirituality. Either way, I’m using the metaphor of the tree.


To become a more balanced and happier Kim, here are some things I’ve discovered that root me.

  • solo travels at least once a year. To reset everything and be thankful that I’m able to do it.

  • regular yoga to calm my cortisol levels from all the work. And to stay connected to my body.

  • better nutritional intake, especially when there’s no time for it. I tend to eat crap when there’s no time to cook. That unfortunately makes my mental stage worse.

  • Drivhuset. I love this job.


Branches

Once you’re true to who you are, you can explore the crown of your head. Explore what actually gives you pleasure. That could be something within your professional career, a new hobby or a new/old friendship/relationship you want to invest in. In some instances, you explore a new field and branch, but soon realise that this is not the direction of growth. In other instances, you may realise that old branches need to be trimmed down. Or need to be cut down fully. And that’s ok, because those damn strong roots give you the ability to stay in balance.

I’ve grown into:

  • Kim as an artist. Through creative and poetic writing.

  • Kim as spiritual yogi.

  • Kim as blogger. I don’t want to develop that branch much. It’s growing organically but that’s enough for now.

Branches that that I cut or trimmed in 2018:

  • A project where I wanted to create an interactive coffee table book, that explains sustainability. If you are intrigued to pick up this idea, sure go ahead! Take it, it’s no longer mine.

  • Kim as a freelancer. I’ve had a bunch of different freelance and consulting clients but realised one thing: I work best in teams. I cannot deliver great work without collaboration. So for now, I’ve trimmed the freelancing branch but will watch it grow organically too.

  • Kim as Swede. Doesn’t work well. I’m not humble enough and I don’t want to be.

  • Kim with toxic people. Ain’t got time for that stuff. I’ll trust my gut feeling more now.


For the future, 2019 and onwards,

I’m hoping to transform some branches into roots.

© Mark Tegethoff via Unsplash

© Mark Tegethoff via Unsplash

One difficulty of becoming this wonderful tree is the following: da cash. It’s hard to take the time to study again or isolate myself to write poetry that is not yet paying the bills. I actively need to decide to sit down and do something non-productive, that doesn’t result in monetary gains. Many of my branches (blogging, creative writing, spirituality, etc.) are things I’m doing passionately, that are not maintaining me financially. It’s an everyday struggle, to decide to only work 70% and say no to 30% more money in order to find myself. The questions of a multi-project-and-multi-interest-highly-active-and-high-paced-individual like me will for now remain: How to pay my bills.

And you?

What grounds you in your life? What gives you the strength to grow crazy branches? Or have you grown many branches already and are happy with the directions and shapes of your branches?

I hope you got two things from spending 6 min. reading this: Gotten to know me better. And gotten to know yourself better. Take some time to reflect on your tree. It’s the perfect time to do so.


Don’t be a stranger and feel free to reach out to me for a chat or comment. Thanks to all who were part of my 2018, it’s was a great one.

© Alberto Tondo via Unsplash

© Alberto Tondo via Unsplash