How did you come to be here in Switzerland?
I'm originally from Harare in Zimbabwe where I lived until I was 23. My sister lives in Switzerland and I first visited Switzerland in 1990 with a charming Swiss guy who had been working in my native Zimbabwe. I was young and naïve and went to live with him in Lausanne. However my first taste of the Swiss winter had me praying he would be transferred back to Zimbabwe! After eight months we returned to sunny warm Africa and got married. Unfortunately the relationship was already less sunny and we divorced soon after. During the brief but whirlwind marriage I officially became a Swiss citizen.
Fast forward to 2005 with another charming man in my life and I found myself once again living in Switzerland. My husband Kai and I decided to settle down in Zurich after enjoying an amazing summer in Weggis with my sister, who lived there with her Swiss husband. I fell in love with the lakes, the grassy hills and the incredible mountains. I've lived here since 2005, now in Baar, canton Zug.
What did you find most challenging at first?
I've lived in Germany, Bali, Thailand, India, Australia, America and Africa and travelled extensively. I consider myself a nomad, and staying too long in one place has not always been the best set-up for my spirit. It also took me a while to get used to the more reserved attitude, even among the expats. Africans are some of the friendliest, most open people you can meet, so the social culture shock did take some time to get used to. Another challenge has been the winters, but this last winter was the best one yet.
How have you coped with your new surroundings?
As a personal development coach, meditation teacher, motivational speaker and now author, my work has always given me great flexibility. However with weak German, I adapted my sessions to be more energy and less dialogue based. But I soon discovered that most Swiss people speak English far better than I could ever speak German! I also become tougher skinned to deal with the sometimes unfriendly service in restaurants and shops. I was not surprised at all to hear what happened to Oprah Winfrey, as I have often had similar experiences. Having said that I have also very often encountered helpful and friendly people and the warmer I become, the easier living here becomes.
Do you feel that the Swiss have accepted you?
I don't need people to validate me. I use every negative experience to learn something valuable about myself. I think it's more about me learning to accept the Swiss than the other way round!
What do you miss most from other places you have lived?
Apart from the sunshine, there is so much that always needs to been done here. In all the other countries I lived in I could afford to hire almost full time help around the house. Cooking, shopping, cleaning, ironing and other errands being fully taken care of by someone else: I miss that the most.
Is there anything you wish you had known before you arrived in Switzerland?
I wish I had known how addictive the Swiss chocolate would become, very bad news for my African booty. LOL
How much of a connection do you still have to Zimbabwe?
I only have aunts, cousins and my grandmother still living in Zimbabwe, I have not been back there since my mother passed away in 1997. I carry the spirit of Zimbabwe deep in my blood, bones and smile, so visiting there has not been a strong pull or priority.
What made you decide to write a book?
I've had this book inside of me for more than 10 years, but had only been writing it in my head. As a personal development and meditation teacher and coach, I felt a deep call to share some of my personal discoveries that have made my own life quite remarkable, considering my childhood story and where I come from. I have always enjoyed writing and found it also got me in touch with clarifying and defining my thoughts, ideas and ultimately my simple, yet effective, personal growth teachings and tools.
How has being in Switzerland influenced your work and writing?
Before I lived in Germany and Switzerland I did not fully understand how people in such great conditions could be anything other than happy. Yet we don't realize how repressive wealthier cultures can be beneath the material abundance. The need to fit in is strong and you have to be ballsy to break out of the box and walk to the beat of your own drum. I have had a lot of eye opening experiences here that have given me great material for my book.
What are your long-term goals?
I would love to get back on the road and live a more nomadic lifestyle again, but of course keeping a base in this wonderful country. I am working on building the "Love Silence" community so I can again offer Retreats and workshops in beautiful locations like India, Bali, Hawaii. I also would like to help the city people in places like New York, Paris, London. I dream of having rejuvenation centers in the city, where people can meditate, reflect, contemplate, brainstorm, do yoga, eat power foods, get body treatments that enhance mind body and spirit connection.