1927 - 1970
My grandmother had a dream
I was born on September 30, 1965 in Jugenheim-Darmstadt, Hesse, a beautiful German wine region. My father, Rolf Ruthenberg, was completing his doctorate in industrial engineering at the University of Darmstadt when he met my mother, Karin Baetz. To this day, he still likes to tell the story of their first meeting, and how he was lost the moment he set his eyes on her. (She can still do that today ;-). My mother is still a beautiful and courageous artist of life at the age of 80. And I believe my unshakeable trust in love and existence comes from her.
In love, engaged, married. And I came along. Since then, our family has grown. Divorces, moves and weddings alternated. Today I have 2 fathers, 6 sisters and 1 brother. And everything that once seemed separate, found back together again. Often in very surprising ways.
Here you see me celebrating my first Christmas.
As a child, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents, Eleonore (Lore) and Kurt Baetz, in Bonn. And the Rhineland remained my home until I graduated from high school in 1985. Then I moved out into the world.
Here you can see my maternal grandmother, Eleonore Freudenberg, on a ski tour on the Arlberg, Austria, in 1927. The Italian blood in my veins comes through her ancestral line. She was also an avid sailor and paddler and much more interested in sports than in getting married. My grandfather had to woo her for long time to finally win her over. And she had a dream of a farm in Africa. But my grandfather, Kurt Baetz, a lawyer and director of STRABAG built her a house in the Rhineland. At the age of 70, when her 4 daughters and 10 grandchildren were out of the woods, they traveled together to Africa for a few weeks.
42 years later, life took me unexpectedly to the African continent and reconnected me with a long lost part of my ancestral and spiritual history. Also my passion for water, hiking and paddling and my rather Italian than German temperament I probably inherited from my grandmother Lore. But more about that later …
Why I did not become a pediatrician
When I was three, my parents separated and my father disappeared from my life for many years. A year later, my mother and sister had a car accident that almost cost them both their lives. And what at first seemed to me as if I had lost all of my family, became the beginning of a new one. My mother fell in love with the handsome young doctor who saved her life. And my brother was born.
From now on, stories of ill and healthy people were part of my everyday life. During my school vacations I worked regularly in the internal department of our local hospital, reading to patients, buying newspapers for them, carrying thermometers and pee pots, and accompanying an old lady as she was dying. Her face was filled with beauty when she left. I loved witnessing the light in people’s faces when I was able to help them, and for a long time I wanted to be a pediatrician. But my path took a different course.
After graduating from high school, I learned languages and went abroad. The experience as a project assistant in an international research institute, IIASA, in Vienna brought me into contact with Eastern Europe for the first time and lit a beautiful passion in me for Russia, its language, its culture and the depths of its soul that is still active in me.
1990 - 1994
I always wanted to know deeply
I had always suspected that a wall across an entire country would not last in the long run. And I felt confirmed when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. By then, it was clear that I wanted to study business administration, so that I could then contribute in some intelligent way to the economic reforms in Russia. Berlin, now without a wall, seemed to me to be the perfect place for this. This city between worlds that was reinventing itself was so exciting to me! And of course I did not study 24/7 …
I chose the Berlin School of Economics and Law, and Finance & Investment as my major, because I wanted to understand the essence of mathematics and our financial system. In the end, I had more questions than answers. But it was an entry point.
I wrote my thesis on privatization in Moscow. And I did my research on it directly in Russia during 4 months. Parallel to my studies, I had worked for both DGM – Deutsche Gesellschaft für Mittelstandsberatung and OstWestWirtschaftsakademie (OWWA) in Berlin. And both employers helped me find the right contacts for my interviews in and around the Moscow city government. It was an immensely exciting time. I also met my future husband Vladimir and decided to return to Moscow after defending my thesis and completing my diploma.
That same year, my biological father returned to my life along with 5 sweet little half-sisters who took my heart by storm.
1994 - 2001
In between Stories - Russia
Right after finishing my studies, I moved to Moscow, took private Russian lessons on 5 days a week during 2 months, and fell more and more in love with this country, its language and of course with Vladimir Shkatov.
At the same time, the opportunity came to me to open a subsidiary in Moscow for the Belgian HR consultancy EMDS, which was looking for Managing Partners worldwide at the time. And I jumped right in.
It was a time between stories. The Soviet past was still tangible and visible everywhere. And nothing was the same anymore. A new era had begun. And no one knew how it would all work.
For me it was a rich and fulfilling time. In private as well as business-wise, I experienced Russia and its people as generous, hospitable, touchable, intelligent, subtle and very warm. My company and my family grew and prospered. And we even survived the great financial crisis of 1998 with only a few scratches. I was simply not afraid.
The picture painted by the media always gives only snippets of reality. I lived safely and securely in this vast, wild and powerful country with and without family, for seven years. And I learned to give up on many unnecessary clichés and narrow viewpoints. I also let go of the idea that our western view of life is the ‘more correct’ one.
Here you can see one of the 7 Stalin skyscrapers in Moscow, called the ‘7 Sisters’. This is an apartment building complex on Tanganka in the center of Moscow, where I also lived for a while.
To this day, my heart leaps when I hear Russian, circle over Moscow on a plane just before landing, or finally get back into a Russian cab.
1997, 2000, 2003
Becoming a Mother
In 1997 we got married and our first son was born. I was happy all around and bursting with energy, creativity and drive. It was a great time of development privately and professionally. And I was very grateful for experiencing everything so easily connected and combined.
Our two younger sons followed in 2000 and 2003. All my pregnancies gave me a sense of deep connection and oneness with myself and the little growing beings inside me. And they taught me patience, rhythm and flow.
When my children were born, they taught me one thing first and foremost: delegation. To this day, they are among my greatest teachers. With them, in the body of a woman and as the eldest of 7 sisters, I can experience several times how little boys and growing young men feel in themselves and in the world, what hurts them and what makes them happy and how they look at the world. What a gift!
Becoming and being a mother not only changed my body, my thoughts and my actions. It also opened my heart and taught me to love unconditionally. And it made me truly vulnerable for the first time in my life. After the birth of our second son, I felt an insatiable longing for Germany with its bike paths, organic food stores and good air. And so we returned to Germany as a family. Our third son was born in Berlin.
1994 - 2006
Navigating the Corporate Sector
I invited my Russian friend Natalia Franzusova, with whom I had organized a winter aid project for our partner university in St. Petersburg in my student days, to found EMDS Russia with me as my partner. She accepted without hesitation.
We started with a fax machine and a telephone, sitting on the floor in our office space sublet from the Aengevelt company in the center of Moscow. Our clients were 90% multinationals. They seized the opportunity and opened representative offices, joint ventures and Russian subsidiaries in the largest country in the world, that had suddenly opened up. They were all there, Americans, Europeans, Asians.
The world was coming to Russia. And I founded the first Human Resources Committee of the European Business Club, the lobbying organization of the European business community in Moscow at that time. When we moved back to Berlin 7 years later, I handed over EMDS and the chairmanship of the HR Committee to my successor. And to this day, my work from back then continues to bear fruit. A pleasant feeling.
Here you can see part of our EMDS team after our first big local recruiting event in Moscow. We never failed to celebrate our successes.
In Berlin, I seamlessly joined the management team of a unit of the then debis Systemhaus in the role of an HR manager. Shortly thereafter, Deutsche Telekom took over, and we became T-Systems. I didn’t yet know my way around German employment law, and initially was not so comfortable with works councils.
I think my boss at the time hired me mainly because I am a really courageous person. And the changes ahead of us were huge. I loved my job. And yet, I eventually burned out between management meetings, love life, founding a kindergarten, and making up bedtime stories.
After having given birth to our third son, I took a longer parental leave of 2 years for the first time. I then returned in a new role as Change & Communication Manager, and for another two years actively accompanied the ever new and big changes that were taking place in our company.
Then I opted out. My pulse was racing from too much coffee. And my heart ached. My system could no longer keep up with the balancing act between what my inner self whispered and what my outer self loudly dictated.
In 2002 I joined my husband on a business trip to Austria. We had two little boys at the time and were both working full time in management jobs. And we took every opportunity to spend time together.
One evening there was a tango event at our hotel. Someone was giving lessons. And we both watched. The music, the freedom of improvisation, the passion and closeness between the couples has not let us go since then. We returned to Berlin and booked our first Argentine tango class.
Since then, tango has been part of our lives. It teaches me and guides me and is an honest mirror for my axis, my authenticity, my relationship and communication patterns, my way of being in connection and in relationship. With myself and with another.
My own Business
Already during my years in Russia, I was convinced that there had to be a better way of working together in German-Russian partnerships. We don’t have to shoot each other or get entangled in time and energy consuming dramas.
So I founded Bizzbow and helped Russian and German SMEs to find suitable partners of their industry in the respective other country and a successful start of cooperation.
It was a creative and satisfying time. On the other hand, my family life suffered. I was traveling a lot. I had everything and yet rarely rested within myself. And after a while I realized that I wanted to change something fundamental. I just didn’t know what.
2010 - 2020
Big Times of Inner Science
The change came in the form of a newspaper article. I read an interview with two Berlin Theta Healers and learned about a world outside our minds and bodies that fascinated me. I booked my first Theta Healing session. And I believed that I had arrived. In truth, it was just the beginning.
A little later I did my Theta Healing Practitioner with Carolin Ehlers in Berlin and then also the Master on Koh Phangan in Thailand with Melouka Rankin.
I started offering sessions among friends. And what was only planned as a private research trip quickly revealed itself as the logical next step in my own development and work with people. I had been studying psychology and also more and more spirituality for years, trained in NLP, The Work of Byron Katie and Nonviolent Communication according to Marshall Rosenberg, and started to explore my inner life. But what I was learning now went far beyond that.
I followed my heart, closed my consulting business, cancelled my newspaper subscription, gave up on coffee and dedicated myself fully to exploring the human psyche and soul, our relationship and communication patterns and our conscious and unconscious mind on ever deeper levels. In parallel, my healing and coaching practice developed. And I spent much more time at home and with my family again.
Important teachers for me during these years were Eva-Maria & Wolfram Zurhorst, Chameli & Arjuna Ardagh, Amanda & Krish Trobe, Diana & Michael Richardson, Lency & Chuck Spezzano, Kathlyn & Gay Hendricks, Andrea & Veit Lindau, Thich Nath Han, Marshall Rosenberg, Osho, Marianne Williamson, Vianna Stibal, Teal Swan, Don Hanson, Scilla Elworthy, Michael Singer, Neil Donald Walsh, Barry Long, Matt Kahn, Ron Smothermon, Adyashanti, Abraham (Esther) Hicks, Jim Dethmer & Diana Champman, Anthony Robbins, always Byron Katie and the incomparable Eckhart Tolle – and last but not least the Magician of Love David Deida..
During this time I rediscovered my old love for writing and became a regular contributor to Newslichter and other magazines.
Nowhere to go - but in!
Sometime in early 2017 I was sitting with my friend Hanna v. Glasenapp in her garden in Chorin. She had just returned from a retreat at Chiemsee. And her enormous presence brought me so much into the moment that our conversation was one of the most open and touching since we have known each other. I realized that I would do the same retreat.
I applied, and in May 2017, I walked the Path of Love with its founders, Turiya Hanover and Rafia Morgan. It is considered one of the most intense and life-changing processes in the world today. And for me, it was just that. I then began step by step to integrate into the body what I had accumulated over the years of psychological and spiritual experience and knowledge. And I added the 4-day Walking the Path Retreat for some more integration.
It was the beginning of a deep and intense exploration of emotions and the flow of energies in the human body. In 2018, together with Berlin-based musician and singer Annette Wizisla, I founded the Conscious Sounding Club, where we explore and transform our inner spaces and energy movements with the help of our voices through intuitive sounding and improvised singing with other people.
Turiya and Rafia have been among my most important teachers since then. So, in early 2019, I decided to take a one-year Holistic Counselor – Working With People training with them, where they share a unique combination of modern principles of humanistic psychology and spiritual knowledge of Western and Eastern traditions, as well as the accumulated experience and wisdom of their lives so far.
At one of our modules somewhere in Wales, Rafia once said that we had no idea what we were really doing there. Today I know what he meant. We, 40 men and women from all all over the world, were writing a new story. And it is now writing itself within each of us.
Soul Quest in Africa
Just before my first training module in Working With People, I undertook a Vision Quest into the South African wilderness in March 2019. Along with 10 other women, I set off for the Karoo desert in the Western Cape. When I booked this trip, I had no idea why I was doing it. I only knew that I had no choice and that there was something essential for me and my life to discover. And so it was.
When I first set my feet on African soil for the first time, I felt home. And in the wilderness, under the starry night sky of the desert, I had a deeply moving experience of oneness with all that is, which lives in me to this day.
Upon my return to Berlin, I learned that I have direct ancestral connections to Africa. One of my great-grandmothers was born in Cape Town. One of my great-grand aunts married the son of an African diplomat in Hamburg just before World War II. And it was clear to me that I would pass on the unique experience of the Vision Quest in the Great Karoo to others. My Soul Quest Retreats were born.
In the meantime I have been to the Great Karoo twice more. And even at home in Berlin, Africa with its magic and wisdom is sitting with me on my favorite red sofa every day.
I found my home and the love within me, my voice, my rhythm, and I know why I’m here. My first commitment is always to this inner center that connects me to everything that matters. And what I have learned and found and still continue to learn and find for myself, I share with you from my heart.
Mentor of a New Time
I imagine reaching 120 years old and leaving this body gently while sitting in a rocking chair, happily celebrating my last birthday in the circle of my family and closest friends.
Until then, there is much more to celebrate, to create and to undertake. And most importantly, to be.
I know I am a guardian at the thresholds of life, a world mother, a godmother and a mentor of a New Time. And I am here to tell a New Story. For me and, in co-creation with all of you, for all of us. I know we can do this. And I know that we will figure out how to do it. In our families. In our boardrooms. In our houses of parliament, class rooms and hospitals. At all levels of our cultural, economic, political and social life.