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It's never too late for your dream job!

How do nature photography, nature coaching and feng shui consultations fit together as a new career step?

Some­times it takes time to pre­pare a second career path. The first impulse is sud­denly there and then the ques­tion 'what do I do with it'? On a trip, Astrid Hartwig notices a modern build­ing com­plex in Hong Kong whose spe­cial shape gives her pause in the hustle and bustle of the met­ro­pol­is. On site, she learns that the archi­tect designed the build­ing accord­ing to the Fēngshuǐ prin­ciple. This first con­tact with the Daoist har­mony teach­ings from China is the start of an excit­ing second career for Astrid - with her com­pany 'Soul of Nature'.

A fulfilling professional life - but what else is there?

The impetus for Astrid's first pro­fes­sion­al career comes from her photo-loving grand­fath­er. As a child, he gives Astrid an old Voigtländer camera. With it, she takes her first detailed photos in nature. Then as a young woman she steps into the pho­to­graphy industry, coupled with a degree in sports - her second pas­sion. On her trips around the world, she com­bines her enthu­si­asm for sports with nature pho­to­graphy. She finds out­stand­ing ele­ments of nature while moun­tain biking or sail­ing. Trav­el­ing is also part of her job as a man­ager in the pho­to­graphy industry. A job that is fun and where she gets to meet many inter­est­ing people. So why start some­thing new? But the topic 'Fengshui' is always on her mind, and she stars to study more about this philo­sophy.

What is 'Feng shui' triggering in my mind?

"While study­ing the mean­ing of life and med­it­a­tion prac­tice, I met my feng shui master. With her, togeth­er with a small group, I did my train­ing as an ener­get­ic Feng-Shui con­sult­ant. For more than 1.5 years she taught us the basics of this more than 2000 years old teach­ing. She went into topics such as the his­tory of Feng Shui, the Yin and Yang teach­ings, the Ba Gua of the Com­pass School, as well as the 'Five Ele­ments school'. Topics such as color theory and kin­esi­ology, what hap­pens while being on a 'power place' hike, and how the Feng Shui prin­ciple is applied in busi­ness and land­scap­ing were other excit­ing classes. All this was very new to me, but I was fas­cin­ated right away. And so learn­ing was fun - even after a busy day at work."

What does a ‘positive energy flow’ mean?

“The goal of the Feng Shui prin­ciple is the ancient art of cre­at­ing har­mo­ni­ous living spaces for people. The flow of energy is dir­ec­ted in such a way that one's atti­tude towards life is pos­it­ively influ­enced. At the begin­ning of the course, this sounds very vague at first, per­haps even simple.”

But Astrid real­izes that link­ing the many factors togeth­er is a very com­plex task. How­ever, her under­stand­ing grows within the train­ing years and the dif­fer­ent pro­jects she designs. Enthu­si­ast­ic about the sub­ject matter and with the desire to delve deeper into the sub­ject, Astrid then takes the second step. She takes up fur­ther train­ing as a Dharma Qi Master. The award­ing of a Master title stands for expert­ise coupled with wisdom of life and is only ever awar­ded by a 'wise' Master.

How do I put theory into practice?

"During the course of our stud­ies, we applied the know­ledge of the vari­ous classes to real pro­jects. These exer­cises - some­times it was a garden, a store interi­or or a res­id­en­tial build­ing - were very help­ful in put­ting theory into prac­tice. This is how I finally under­stood the Feng Shui concept of the 'Bank of China' build­ing in Hong Kong. The archi­tec­tur­al concept with its sharp edges and peaks gen­er­ates 'neg­at­ive cha energy'. Build­ings and 'com­pet­it­ors' in the sur­round­ing area are dis­turbed in their energy flow. These, in turn, have res­isted with their own Feng Shui meas­ures. For the Chinese it is import­ant that a build­ing has a pos­it­ive energy flow. Above all the employ­ees have to feel happy and relaxed while work­ing there. Neg­at­ive energy fields from out­side should flow past the build­ing and not get inside in the build­ing. During the course, we ana­lysed many other examples, which was very excit­ing."

How do I gain experience?

During the first years after her 'Dharma Qi Feng-Shui Master' degree, Astrid con­tin­ues to put her former pro­fes­sion, her travels and nature exper­i­ences first. The decision to step into self-employ­ment is not an easy decision. Mean­while friends ask for her advice and are enthu­si­ast­ic about Astrid’s sug­ges­tions.

"The pos­it­ive thing about the prin­ciples of feng shui is that I can apply them to all areas of life and work. The concept works for dec­or­at­ing an apart­ment, home archi­tec­ture, land­scap­ing, a doctor's office, a large office floor or a small busi­ness."

Why is the 'engagement' with a client important?

Unlike 'trend' interi­or con­sulta­tions, Astrid wants to design indi­vidu­al har­mo­ni­ous places for her cus­tom­ers, which cor­res­pond to their per­son­al­ity. The inter­ac­tion of people and nature is an integ­ral part of this mil­len­nia-old teach­ing.

"If my cus­tom­ers accept this prin­ciple and seek changes in their envir­on­ment, then I have to act with a cer­tain sens­it­iv­ity. Togeth­er with them I create the appro­pri­ate recom­mend­a­tion for a tar­geted change in their spaces. A change on the ‘out­side’ always comes along with a change ‘inside’. Life should be a flow­ing pro­cess."

What can a photo of nature do?

As a pho­to­graph­er, Astrid has cap­tured many of her travel exper­i­ences around the world. Motifs such as water­falls plants or vol­ca­noes are import­ant themes for her. Through her stud­ies, she has become aware that these photos of nat­ur­al ele­ments can provide an import­ant impulse for other people. Posi­tioned at the appro­pri­ate place in the room, her nature pho­to­graphs can have a pos­it­ive influ­ence on the flow of energy. As a result, it enhances the well-being of this person within the room.

What was and is important to me in my profession?

This is the ques­tion that Astrid uses as an impulse for her second career. Finally, she starts her new busi­ness ‘Soul of Nature’ com­bin­ing her expert­ise as a nature pho­to­graph­er and as a nature coach with her Feng Shui con­sulta­tions. Astrid no longer looks for a full busi­ness sched­ule but rather for excit­ing new tasks and places. Most import­antly she wants to work with people in such a way that her Feng Shui pro­jects gen­er­ates a lot of joy - for both sides. Astrid finds it most ful­filling that she can trans­fer her pos­it­ive exper­i­ence of nature to her cli­ents’ pro­jects – in a mind­ful and soul­ful way.

"It is import­ant to me that even at 60+ I can work in my second pro­fes­sion for a long time. I am very motiv­ated by the fact that my cus­tom­ers seek and appre­ci­ate my expert­ise on a 'person to person' level.  Also, a bene­fit of my long time first career. Par­ti­cip­at­ing in vari­ous art fairs with my nature photos is also a way to get in con­tact with new cos­tumers. The fin­an­cial side of my new pro­fes­sion has a dif­fer­ent status now. Joy and enthu­si­asm come first. Finally, a lib­er­a­tion that comes with age."

What is a ‘nature’ mandala?

You cer­tainly know man­dala graph­ics that you color with pen­cils. While doing this it cre­ates a calm­ing effect. This pro­cess of 'con­cen­trat­ing & doing' is also the way to create a man­dala 'in and with' nature.

"To lay a nature man­dala also means to sur­render com­pletely to intu­ition and to create one's indi­vidu­al man­dala with beau­ti­ful nat­ur­al products such as leaves, flowers, shells and stones. In con­trast to the pre-prin­ted man­dala graph­ics and thus lim­ited struc­tures, here you can expand your own bound­ar­ies, in both the prac­tic­al and spir­itu­al sense. Through this unusu­al "exer­cise" an inner cent­ring suc­ceeds, and a pleas­ant peace of mind occurs."

Some­times it takes a booked ‘nature walk’ to exper­i­ence and create some­thing good for your­self. If then in addi­tion Astrid cap­tures the nature man­dala as a photo. For sure the photo can always than be a peace­ful focus point in a busy life.

“Do you want to break new ground?"

This is a ques­tion Astrid asks her cli­ents. Her own curi­os­ity about the bank build­ing in Hong Kong triggered her second career path. Some­times the paths with an unknown des­tin­a­tion are the most excit­ing. And some­times such decisions can only be made by heart. When the 'Qi' - the invis­ible life energy that anim­ates every being and every cell - can flow pos­it­ively in the envir­on­ment, then the trans­form­a­tion is there. The first import­ant step is: open your mind to engage in a new path in your life.

Name:  Astrid Hartwig

She is: now - nature pho­to­graph­er, 'nature artist', feng shui con­sult­ant adven­turer / in her 'old pro­fes­sion­al life' - key account man­ager

She likes: start­ing the day grate­fully & in a good mood, yoga exer­cises / med­it­a­tion, wallk­ing bare­foot in the garden - prefer­ably through the sand to the sea, listen­ing to the chirp­ing of birds & saying hello to her plants

She can be found in: the beau­ti­ful city of Cologne, along the Rhine River in Ger­many

She admires: Elisa­beth Mann-Borgese, marine research­er / eco­lo­gist, writer, who worked for the inter­na­tion­al marine pro­tec­tion organ­isa­tion well  into her old age

Her WIASOLA tip:Live and enjoy your (own) life, be there with your heart and enthu­si­asm, be open to sur­prises

Her favor­ite books from Meike Win­ne­muth:

  • 'Das große Los'
  • 'Bin im Garten'

Her 5 favor­ite power places  of and in nature:

  • Water­falls in Ice­land
  • Tree house in Tiger Per­i­yar Nation­al Park in India
  • 'Na Pali Coast Trail' on Kauai, Hawaii 'The Golden Rock' with the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda in Myan­mar
  • Swim inside a sacred tepui moun­tain, in Canaima, Venezuela

Her next museum des­tin­a­tion:

  • the GUGGENHEIM Museum in Bilbao, Spain

To be found under:

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