In this interview I talk to my high school friend Andi Rondestvedt who moved with her family from Switzerland to California three years ago. Andi is a german teacher for children and adults and a real expert of life! : )
Andi lived in California during an exchange year at the age of 16 and that‘s when she fell in love with the sunshine state. She loves the people, the openness, the weather, the sun, the ocean, the special vibes she feels… But first she went back to Switzerland, became an elementary school teacher and married an American – not from California : ) - with whom she lived in Switzerland for 8 years.
«There came a time, almost like a midlife crisis, where nothing except family and friends felt right anymore. I needed a challenge and I needed to find out what I really want», Andi
The plan to move to California was that challenge, that Andi was looking for. To build something up from 0. But it was a long journey to get there. The first time they had to move back, because they ran out of money, but they came back a second time.
«If you have a dream and you feel it in your heart, that this will be the right way for you, it will take a lot. It wasn‘t like I had a dream, I moved here and I felt joy, it was quiet the opposite. I had many moments of doubts, but now I feel joy when I look back to what we did and what we accomplished», Andi
Andi says, that she always focuses on what brings her joy. Like sitting in the garden and enjoying the sun. Among everything else, we agree with eachother, that you can always do fun things within your possibilities. Your mindset and your feelings are not connected to the circumstances. You can train your mind with meditation. You can train to notice, when you have a negative thought and replace it with a positive thought. Negativity is often connected with the feeling that life is happening to you and you don‘t have any control, whereas the other side is to consciously have and share positive feelings.
Andi says that it took her years to get where she is today. She emphasizes that you really have to stick to meditation or any kind of positive new practice that you do and that you have to be patient. Living through all the hardship that Andi experienced and feeling like there is always a reason behind everything helped her become stronger and to be more aware.
But what if you feel like those things aren‘t possible for you? When you don‘t see any hope? For Andi the most important thing is to start looking inside yourself, figure out what you fear, who you really are, what you want and to always have faith. Try to step out of your own feelings and look at yourself from the outside and see your struggles as the biggest chance to grow as a person. It‘s a matter of if you want to accept this gift or not. Everybody has a choice.
When me and my 9 year old daugther were bickering with eachother one evening, she suddenly said: «But mama, didn‘t you say we can always choose our mood? So why are you so angry right now?» And we both took a deep breath and continued the evening in harmony.
It‘s not about neglecting or denying negative feelings, it‘s about letting them come up but then also to move forward. It‘s about knowing how you can take care of yourself to get out of the bad or sad or angry mood. Change what you can change right now and feel as good as you can feel right now.
«Focus on the positive without denying your feelings. You decide what kind of character you are. You are the main act, the director and the producer of your own life movie», Ronja
The same situation can be so different depending on how you perceive it. You are the master of your life and you create your life.
The second time Andi and her family moved back to California they had to put the plane tickets on the credit card, they moved in a one room apartment above the garage of a friend and her husband had a job where he earned 600$ per week. It wasn‘t easy at all, but believing in a higher more intellligent power helped her through it. The situation didn‘t change overnight but Andi had faith every single day.
«The hardest times made me the strongest. We need to open our mind and just take the gifts that come our way. Pray for what you need and then also notice what’s coming your way. I did what had to be done to reach my dream. If people do good to other people it will all come back to you», Andi
I myself experienced a lot of grief when some of my friends died at a very young age. You could say that those were extreme sports like skiing and therefor risky, but it all changed when my sister‘s best friend died at the age of 25 of a heart attack, at home, at the phone. That‘s when I realised that you don‘t have to die in an avalanche, you can die any time, right where you are. From that moment on I didn‘t have any fear anymore and as long as I‘m alive I want to do things that bring me joy and I want to spend time with people that I love. You can either choose love or fear. If you feel trapped right now, think of it as just temporary, you don‘t have to know all the next steps, just the next stepping stone. We can‘t control the outside world, but we can control ourselves. Take good care of yourself first, meditate, think about what you want, who you want to be and what you‘d love to do.
What if you don‘t know what you want? What if you know that you want something else, but what? That‘s a difficult place to be in and Andi has experienced this too. She says what can help is to check in and see where your talents are and where your joy is. Finding out and journaling about what you love to do and then follow this feeling of joy and talent. Andi believes that we have a talent for a reason.
«Connect with what gives you joy and what your talents are, that gives you a clue», Andi
To achieve your dreams, you sometimes have to combine things. Like a boring job with part time building up your self employment. If you‘re open for everything, opportunities will show up, even or especially where and when you don‘t expect them. If you feel really crappy, write down how you show up in life and find out what you could change. Listen to positive people and surround yourself with that.
«The best thing that could happen to anybody is to just lose fear. You are really free when you‘re without fear. When you know that nothing bad can happen to you», Andi
We wrapped up our conversation by talking about the things Andi does when her energy is low and when she finds herself in a negative mindset. The answer to that? She pampers herself.
With meditation, hot showers, taking a nap, sitting outside in the sun, sitting in front of the fire with a blanket and a glass of wine, playing games with the kids, connecting with people and friends, doing something good for somebody else…
When you‘re in anger or pain or fear, your mind and body are calling for attention and the best that you can do is to give it that attention. Even when you haven‘t got much time you can always do some deep breathing and simply be aware of being alive.
For Andi it‘s her faith, that has always helped her. She says: «You can‘t pray and be afraid at the same time. If people don‘t want to pray they can just have positive thoughts or practice gratitude. Be grateful, you can‘t be afraid and grateful at the same time. Find what‘s true for you, not everybody has the same belief.»
In my Joy Challenge I ask you to write down 100 things that bring you joy. Small things like the sound that snow makes when you‘re walking over it or the feeling of sunrays on your cheeks, you‘ll be amazed how many things come to mind and you‘ll get aware of all the things that bring you joy. This list will help you get through low moments because you‘ll always know what you can do to bring back joy.
When Andi is feeling low in the morning she asks herself why she should get up. And then she waits for the answer. Like making breakfast for the kids. Or any of the things mentioned before. It really helps tapping into that inner dialogue with yourself.
During my interview with Darrin he sayed that he asks himself everyday: «How can I make a difference today». Another thing you could ask yourself is: «Who could I surprise today».
Starting your days with a positive mindset is the best thing you can do for yourself and everyone around you! : )
You can watch our conversation here:
This is where you can find Andi:
Resources and people that we talked about during the interview: