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  • Sonja Lembke

Happy Now – Deciding to Stay

After the stressful month of January, I had wanted to go home earlier. I had made that decision throughout February, then March has brought many beautiful memories; and suddenly the reason why I had wanted to go back to Germany earlier became void.


January had been very stressful for me and as a consequence, I decided to leave earlier. I thought, considering the high workload, that I needed a proper break between gap year and beginning my studies. Due to an English exam I wanted to take happening in Germany in June, I fixed my leaving date to the end of May. This decision was very difficult to justify to myself and it kept me in a bad mood for most of February. I had many talks with my parents, friends, and co-workers. When I had finally admitted to myself that this was best for my mental health and that mental health is a valid reason to go earlier, I talked to my organisation, my house-coordinator and the office and my leaving earlier was settled.


In the middle of February, I received my second dose of the covid vaccine. This time, I didn’t have any side effects whatsoever, not even a sore arm. I feel very lucky that I have had the opportunity to get vaccinated so early due to my position at Corbenic.


At the beginning of March, other volunteers from the Friends of Waldorf Education and I had our online middle seminar. The seminar provided much food for thought in the form of interesting conversations, an inspirational walk, and good music. Our tasks included drawing a mood curve of the past months, designing a paper of hobbies and self-care ideas, and analysing our relationship with our Community. It was good to exchange experiences with other volunteers from other Camphills and it gave me some time to reflect about the past time of my voluntary year.


Within the last two months, I got to see how Carnival and Easter are celebrated at Corbenic. On Shrove Tuesday, Corbenic held a pancake race: two people race each other, a pan with a pancake in hand, simultaneously trying to be faster and flip their pancake more often. I lost my race by a hair against my roommate. We spent the afternoon crafting costumes for the Carnival dance in the evening which we enjoyed together with the other houses of the main house. Mullach’s interpretation of the motto “Kings and Queens” featured the boys and me dressed as the band Queen and the other girls as card game Kings. On Palm Sunday, our house missed the traditional boundary walk because of confusion about the time change. Luckily, there were other Easter traditions that we could enjoy together with the other houses: on Good Friday a few residents and volunteers installed a tableau vivant of the crucifixion and on Easter Monday we went for an outing to Kinloch Rannoch. After having decorated the house and baked a cake on Saturday, we had a nice lunch and an easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday which the residents enjoyed very much.


Musically, I feel like it is going very well. At the beginning of March, I had the opportunity to give an interview on Heartland FM, thanks to a staff member who connected me with someone from the radio station. They even played two songs from my new EP “Ways” (you can still listen to the interview and my songs via this link: https://www.heartland.scot/on-demand/moonlight-drive-with-chris-stanton-04-03-21/ (minutes 23-40)! Of course, I have been super nervous before and during the interview but I am very happy with how it turned out. Listening to my own songs on the radio felt surreal and I am truly grateful for this amazing experience. In the near future I have a few concerts coming up and I am currently writing new music, so stay tuned!


After having lived together for seven months, my roommate and best friend at Corbenic, Hanna, left at the end of March. The two weeks preceding her leaving have been the best so far. We tried to spend as much time as possible together: going on outings, enjoying movie nights, cooking and eating, listening to music and singing to our favourite songs. With another co-worker we climbed the Schiehallion, which had long been on her bucket list. It was much fun climbing the boulders ascending to the summit and there we had a picnic. A few days later, we went to the beach for her last outing with the whole house. We had fish and chips, played football, and even went swimming in the sea. Following the official leaving outing, we had another with only co-workers close to Kinloch Rannoch. The four of us set out for a very adventurous walk, with Hanna playing the tour guide. The weather has been very indecisive that day, changing from sunshine to ice rain and snow in seconds, but that didn’t stop us. I had been very sad when Hanna had first told me the date she was leaving, but all this time, I could still be in the moment and enjoy spending time with her. When it was time to say goodbye at the airport, however, a deep sadness overcame me and I realised that the era of being roommates (and watching “Gone with The Wind” and singing “Double Trouble”) had come to an end.


I had just dried my tears, when the residents came back from the workshop and one of them came to me, crying and saying that he missed Hanna, making me cry all over again. I hugged him and at some point, I wasn’t consoling him anymore but he was comforting me. The comfort that I received from the residents was heart-warming and gave me an even bigger appreciation for the residents and the work with them. I knew that I could learn things from them before but I wasn’t aware that they have so much to give emotionally too. This experience has awoken a whole new joy in me for working with the residents, so that it doesn’t even feel like work that much anymore. Consequently, the stress, the reason why I had wanted to go home earlier, has vanished. But even more importantly, I am happy now. One of my favourite outings with other co-workers has consisted of simply going to the co-op, going for a walk, driving, listening to music, and talking, which proved to me that it doesn’t matter what you do but with whom. When I am with the people here, I can just live in the moment. I wished that this could last and a few days ago, I realised that I had the power to make it last. I didn’t care about the English exam anymore and so I made the decision to stay.


Now, I am in a good place. I am still missing my roommate but it doesn’t hold me back from enjoying my remaining time in Scotland. I have found a new joy in working with the residents because I have experienced how much they can give back to me emotionally; and I cherish the time with friends because I know how soon it can end. Only now that I consciously decided to stay am I starting to realise the full value of this unique experience.

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