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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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