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This is not a startup article, this is my life.

Fernwehian, the life plan

“I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that thirty years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that.” — Gus Speth, american scientist and advisor on climate change.

Business is personal

I was born unexpectedly during difficult times in my mother’s life, she was a professor and suffered all that you can suffer as a 21 year old working mother who just left an abusive marriage.

She named me Imane (Faith). She believed in me since I was very young, at 6 years old I already understood that half of our problems were in fact side effects of a none functioning education system.

Correcting exam tests until midnight, spending weekends preparing Monday’s classes…My mother was more of a mother to her students than society allowed her to be to her own daughter.

But she was clever enough to know that a great deal of learning, I should do alone to have intellectual integrity very early on as a child.

I enjoyed learning, books were my second parents, my wise friends.

In High School life takes an unexpected turn for us unprepared naive beings:‘Now time to pick a life path’ they said.

Those words were the end of me. I could not believe we were not allowed to learn freely anymore, I enjoyed my Maths class, but also my literature class…I enjoyed languages, music, art but also physics and chemistry.

I was the last in my class to come up with an answer to that demand. I was so late in fact that they had to decide for me:

‘Your grades suggest you should be going for Medical School.’ Said one of my professors, overlooking the fact that my grades are equally as high in Literature, but he insisted, science was the way to go.

Long story short: 4 years medical school was my nightmare. Dropped out despite the ‘good grades’. You can only imagine what such a decision looks like to others, these others that know nothing about us yet seem to have all the answers.

I took 6 months to reflect upon why my good-looking grades did not bring me any satisfaction. I traveled, I spoke to people, I laughed, I read books and it hit me: I may not be meant to specialize, I may be one of those people who want to learn, learn for a living. But for that to happen, I convinced myself I needed Business skills.

Here goes another 5 years, a Master’s degree in my pockets. I spent more time during those 5 years writing and reading than actually preparing for any exams — but I did land on that A list easily. Quite remarkable how you can get grades without giving a damn. If anything showed me how flawed the system was, it was that. Plus the fact that students felt more like prisoners counting the days for what they naively hope would be their freedom — but then most of them sign another contract immediately to secure the rest of their life, without ever taking even a month to know who they are, what they crave the most, god forbids if you ask them what their dream is, that pokemon is long forgotten,

The caterpillar times

“what the What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly.” — Richard Bach

“Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once.”― Paulo CoelhoThe Winner Stands Alone.

Hard times. Hard times. Yet this is the part of my story that made it possible, this is the essence, the birth, the creation — and it comes with frightening anxiety.

Before you make the big jump, before you turn into the graceful butterfly, trust me you will think you’re dying, you will want to quit, you will wonder why everyone else seems to content with their ordinary lives. You will question yourself like you were Nietzsche and you will want to run to your mama. I bet the caterpillar thinks the same ‘what the hell is going on! I was a perfectly good worm, the best of all worms! and now, now I am sticky and yucky and probably dying! goodbye mee!” — that is what the caterpillar said in my imagination.

My friends were jumping one after another to fit those boxes called corporate jobs. Even those friends that were always holding entrepreneurship speeches at Aiesec, even those who did 100 presentation preaching how risk is the only way — they too took the first job with a good pay.

I never wrote a CV, let alone send it. I just physically can not sit and endure my sub-conscious screaming ‘what about your dream? do you! do you!’.

I was so stressed, I isolated myself from people for 6 months and meditated like a monk — when you are that fragile, you can not possibly allow negative energy to come close to you.

I talked to God each day asking for enough strength to successfully become the butterfly. God answered some nights, those were the nights I stayed up writing that ‘Business Plan’ — they should really call it ‘Life Plan’ or ‘Past Anxiety Plan’.

I was running out of money, running out of time, running out of everything really. But I felt alive, so alive, something must have been right in the depth of that chaos. Maybe the chaos is God’s way of creating greatness — kind of like the Big Bang applied to one human being.

After exactly 6 months, standing alone in the arena, my Life Plan was finished. It was finished. I could feel my wings, the caterpillar died, I was no longer questioning in that is my path, I vowed it would be my path and so it will be. But it takes time to get used to the new wings, to really know how your new body and mind function…I never knew that one Business Plan would sum up my life. All of my experiences. Everything I hope to become.

Challenge Accepted

Now comes the fun of learning how to fly. Shit got real and before I knew it I had my superwoman rope on, my plan in one hand, my faith in the other hand.

What is my plan?

fernwehian is this: learning, in its purest form: I went out there and asked people what their dreams were, what skills would help them make their dreams happen — ones they’re not getting anywhere else — I built 3 day retreats within nature, designed each for a particular dream/skill set.Something amazing happens when people who share the same life dream travel together and meet in a setting that is raw, not fake, not perfect, but raw and fragile. We did healing circles, studied ancient wisdom together, we were the school we were looking for. Nature was our inspiration when we would lose sight of our dreams.

After each retreat, we would continue the learning through follow-up sessions open to the public, in which we deepened our awareness about our own limitations and true desires. Together, we slowly worked towardsbecoming who we are. become who you are, that became our slogan.

I was learning 99% of the time, teaching 1% of the time. It was moving, it was real, it was my destiny.

Why this particular plan?

Because I never really want to graduate. Because books are human to me, because I want to know what every ancient book says and I want to learn people’s stories, I want to share their path if possible and watch them turn into the butterfly.

I want to learn with and from people, teach when I can, but mostly learn. I want to break the boundaries between Science, Art and Spirituality — for these 3 have never been separate. In fact, without each other, each one of them is blind.

I believe that learning is the most noble thing I could dedicate my entire life to. It is possibly also the only thing I could endure such hardships for — if you do not love what you do, you would have to quit, because no-one in their sane mind would make the sacrifices you would have to make.

What If I Fail?

But oh darling what if I fly…

and what if you fly too.

That little ‘if’, is the beginning and end of everything. Comfort zones are beautiful, but nothing interesting ever starts there.

So fly, do not fear anything, because what you are seeking is also seeking you.

Thank you for reading. :)

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