I'm the writer behind the articles on this website, author of fiction books, the creator of the Kate Hildenbrand YouTube channel, and host of the Empty Room Conversations podcast.
I grew up in Germany, an alien in a world that wasn't mine until I sold almost everything and moved to California. Now, the world is my home.
Over the past decades, I have made a lot of mistakes, learned a lot of lessons. I share my story to help you grow without making all of the mistakes yourself.
I spent four years in California, my heart's home, a year in New Zealand, then a year in the Netherlands. Now, I live in a village an hour outside of the beautiful city of Hamburg in Northern Germany. Here, I'll finally finish my bachelor before moving on to the next place—wherever that may be. Mexico, maybe? Through this journey, I have changed from a person I no longer recognize to the growing person I am today. My journey isn't over, literally and metaphorically. Germany won't be the last place I live and I am growing to become a better person every day.
Society has taught us to always strive for more, more more. The constant need to add yet another thing to our life, be it the newest phone or a second vehicle, a new shirt or a branded reusable water bottle, a new kitchen tool or that fancy pair of shoes they advertised on whatever celebrity. Over the past few years, I have journeyed into minimalism. Minimalism and awareness have been the main drive of my personal growth. I am far from where I would like to be, though. I'll share my struggles, my journey, my successes with you while I learn what it means to live a life worth living.
I have shed a good portion of my belongings, as they didn't add value to my life. I have sorted through everything I own and shed myself of most of the excess. I still have way too much stuff (both physically and mentally). It weighs on my mind. Slowly, I am working my way through the mess, the chaos. One step at a time, one item, one behavior, one clinging thought at a time.
My belief is that minimalism and awareness can bring a lot of value to people's lives. Following my journey will inspire you to start your own journey to a better life.
Through growth, I have learned that we appreciate the things we learn about. We can't fight for what we don't understand. I used to call fish ugly and disgusting because I knew nothing about them. I had only seen dead tuna fish. Swimming alongside marine life during our many scuba trips changed my life forever. I saw, first-hand, the effects of humans interacting with nature. I saw the plastic at the bottom of the ocean, the fishing line and weight hanging from the lip of a giant sea bass that was taller than me. I saw the sargassum seaweed displace the giant kelp forests around Catalina.
But, I also saw the sunstars return after they were believed to have vanished from the area. I've played with sea lions at one of their rookeries, searched for octopus in their clever dens, and floated speechless in front of anemone-covered reefs. I will never forget the day a fin whale swam past our boat on the way to a dive site.
How could I see that majestic beauty of such a large animal and not want to save it? How could I see fish spawn, hatch, grow, without loving them. Seeing nature, really seeing it, has changed my life. The more I learn about nature, the more I love nature, the more I want to defend it, fight for it.
My foundational values are Health, Growth, Relationship, Creativity, and Contribution. Not one of those values is where I would want it to be. My foundation is crumbling. Slowly, I am building a new foundation for my life.
While I struggle with all of these values, my health has been the most limiting factor, influencing the other four foundational values, my secondary values, my entire life.
I suffer from somatization disorder which means that my feelings manifest in real physical symptoms. As Joshua from The Minimalists put it, I'm my own canary in the coal mine—my body shows me when something is wrong inside. It hasn't been an easy journey and the hardest part is still ahead of me, but after a decade of searching for an answer, I am glad to have finally found one.
Minimalism, awareness, and therapy are helping me on the path to getting better, to leading a "normal" life. While I hope to never lead a normal life, I hope to be able to lead a life without the constant constraint of this illness. Most days, I am unwell, plagued by digestive issues, stomach cramps, headaches, a sore throat, and extreme fatigue. Most days, I suffer. The diagnosis brings with it a light at the end of the tunnel, a knowledge that I can one day get better and tackle all the projects I want to tackle without fear of failing due to a missed day or week.
Getting better will require a lot of work, patience, and vigilance from me and my loved ones. Getting better will mean more growth. Slowly, I will win this fight.