An inspiring story from my parents or how I learned to be brave

written by Paula Hartmann 


I have a very inspiring story for you today. Every year on April 7th me and my family celebrate our arrival in West Germany in 1989. 


I grew up in East Germany in a small city near the Polish border. This part of Germany was under a communistic regime, which means my family was poor (seen from today’s standards), no citizen was allowed to travel to a different country and there was no freedom of speech. 


My dad wanted a better life for us and decided to leave East Germany which meant a lot of trouble with the authorities. Early in the morning on April 7th 1989 my parents, my sister and me stood on the platform of the train station with four suitcases. This was all we were allowed to bring for our migration. 


My parents weren’t allowed to bring any money and we were not sure if we would ever see our other family members again. They told us that once you leave the country, there was no chance to ever re-enter. 


It was a very emotional day for all of us. 


We arrived in West Germany and got a starter kit of 100 Mark (equivalent to maybe two week’s of groceries). We moved into an asylum and stayed there till my dad got a job and we were able to get our own apartment. 


Up to this day I’m in awe of my dad’s courage - to move to a place he had never seen before with two kids, 100 Mark in his pocket and nowhere to stay. His determination and strength bring me to tears. I’m actually tearing up right now, while I’m writing this to you.


Now, why do I tell you this?


From my own experience I can say that we often don’t go for our dreams, because we’re afraid of what will happen, if we do. 


Our fears are that we might have to struggle for money for a while, we might have to give up our standard of living, we might not know where we will end up or if it will all work out. We’re so afraid of leaving our comfort zone that we don’t risk anything. We don’t change our lives, because we’re terrified that we’re gonna loose something. 


But the biggest loss is to never have tried anything new. To stay exactly where you are: in your apartment, in your city, in the same old job, doing the same kind of things with the same old people. 


Don’t get me wrong. It’s ok to not change, if you’ve found your heaven on earth. But if you want a better life, you have to risk something, no matter what age you are and no matter how much money you have on your bank account. 


If my dad can build up a new life from scratch with literally no money, so can you. 


Your dreams matter. 


If my dad would have stayed in his comfort zone, I know that I would not write this email to you today. This one decision influenced my life tremendously and it will influence the life of my child and my grandchildren. My dad did not only do it for himself, he planted a seed of courage in my family and the belief, that everything is possible, if you just follow your heart. 


I want you to ask yourself today:


  • Do I make decisions based on love or fear? 
  • Where am I holding back because I’m afraid to loose a certain standard of living?
  • What do I really want and what is holding me back to do it?
  • What is my excuse to not go for it? 
  • Am I able to trust life to care for me if I go for my dreams?
  • And do I believe that my desires are there for a reason?


Trust me, your dreams are not random. Your soul is speaking to you through your desires and it’s time to take them seriously. 


I believe in you and your “crazy” ideas. 


Go take the risk, embrace the adventure and always follow your joy.


So much love, 

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