We first met Ursula a couple of years ago in this cover profile we did, that was pre-Covid. Since then, a lot has changed in the world. We seem to be more fearful and more separate from each other, but not all of us. Ursula is one of those indomitable spirits that make the world fit her, rather than her succumbing to whatever is happening in the world around her. Hers is a world of constant expansion; at 63 and single, she is fearlessly moving outward with no sign slowing down.
Earlier on, she gave up her career at Porsche to be a full-time mother and wife. After her 25-year marriage ended and her children were grown, she created a new life for herself. Her life now is about connecting with others, sharing beauty, exploring and learning without boundaries and always spreading positivity. In a world where we have become hesitant to connect, she is rushing ahead to hug, embrace and love the people in her ever expanding life.
What have you been up to since we last spoke to you two years ago?
The world was a very different place two years ago but, in those two years, I have continued to live my life with the same outlook and desire for joy, love, and connection. Helping people be less fearful and nurturing their anxious hearts has been of greater importance to me than ever. My dream of living half a year in Italy, the other half in California has come true despite the pandemic. In 2020 I went from not leaving my home for 45 days to returning to Italy, fully immersing myself into life at the piazza. What I found wherever I went was a huge need for connection. People were starving for hugs, touch, and soul connection without a screen between them. In Italy, it was so easy to connect. Italians are gregarious, full of love and warmth. I felt so lucky to be in this environment both last and this year. Being creatively active is healthy for me. When I sculpt or paint, I am so immersed in my work that everything else fades away. It is therapeutic and makes me calm and serene which is a state of mind I can then share with those around me. It has been wonderful to meet many new people in these past 2 years, wishing and willing to share their experiences. Hugging has never been more important.
“Not living in fear has been important to me particularly since post-divorce”
How has the pandemic been for you and your family?
My kids live with life partners. I live alone but nobody could escape the physical and emotional stress of this pandemic. It created so much fear. Not living in fear has been important to me particularly since post-divorce. When those unsettling news kept coming, my need to be grounded and happy became even stronger. I religiously followed a protocol of herbs and vitamins to keep my immune system strong. To reduce stress, I reduced the amount of reading about Covid. Restructuring my days, reframing my thoughts, being spontaneous, letting go, were driving forces for this time in lockdown, but not easy. Everyone in my family had a different experience but thanks to technology we were able to share them and feel supported by each other. Sharing memes was a hysterical way to make us laugh. To create a rhythm for the day, I decided to cook a delicious lunch every day without going to the supermarket. One day I felt lonely, so I put my kids’ old teddy bears at the table, with place settings, and pretended to have a party. I danced the Soul Motion dance on Zoom and struggled with the anonymity of the screen. I had Zoom moments with friends every day but never loved it. No touch, no scent; it is so sterile. When I did not leave my home for 45 days, I found out that I can be alone without being lonely. I loved those days with no plans. Struggles with friendships over “what is Covid all about” started surfacing and that took time and introspection to maneuver through. This pandemic brought a lot of things to the surface that, when not dealt with, make you anxious and frustrated but confronting them is not easy. Being generous, open-minded, and empathetic became more important than ever to me. Great challenges, great lessons.
How are your children?
My older son has started to work again (video production), but the many months in lockdown were difficult. He is physically active and his work normally takes him to many places. He is very outgoing and loves interacting with his clients. Covid restrictions make his work very different now, with so many rules and restrictions. He tries to stay positive and adapt. My younger son, who had left LA to embark on his first career (in virtual reality), literally the day of lockdowns had his interview canceled on arrival and needed to find work. Through serendipity, he was hired by a landscape/gardening firm. During this temporary work, he realized he loved the outdoors, getting his hands into dirt. It was so beautiful, his revelation that his soul would die if he sat in front of a computer all day and that being outside and working with plants could be essential to his wellbeing. This revelation was a gift of the pandemic to his life and changed its course forever. He now lives in Austin, TX and works for a firm that creates beautiful living green walls. This is a really positive Covid side story.
“I get the best of both worlds: the hot summers in Italy and the mild winters in California”
Where are you living now?
I live in Florence, Italy from April to October, and in Manhattan Beach, CA, USA, from November to April. I get the best of both worlds: the hot summers in Italy and the mild winters in California. The old-world lifestyle in a tiny country and the modern life conveniences and beauty of the vast American landscape.
What are the life lessons you learned living in Italy?
The Italians are role models in resilience. They are gregarious and full of joy and love you up. They are an inspiration to the world. Their warmth and generosity are genuine; authentic, not fake. They were one of the hardest hit countries, yet they continued to hug and share. Somehow all the little stores and family-owned businesses and restaurants survived the lockdowns. People rarely complained; they shared their fears and distress or loudly disagreed about Covid but, in the end, they had an espresso and agreed to disagree. ‘Tutto andrà bene’ is their motto — ‘all will be well.’ It is a contagious mantra.
“The Italians are role models in resilience”
What are the problems you encountered in Italy?
Not so much related to Italy, I found it challenging to create a new life for myself in a country which language I did not speak at first. To meet new people and grow friendships is challenging, especially when you add the language barrier. Italian is not an easy to learn language. It took me four years to really get settled but I feel I am there. Bureaucracy is out of control in Italy. And things go slow. You can’t be in a hurry. It can take 15 minutes to buy a bundle of carrots at the farmers’ market. Coming from the States, where everything is instant and efficient, that can be challenging, but I learned to fully embrace it for life should never be rushed in the first place.
What are the things you like about being in CA vs being in Europe?
My American friends. The gorgeous beach and ocean in LA. The beautiful coastline, vast spaces across the state. My home in which I have lived for 35 years. The climate. The amazing modern food of shared plates. The American convenience. Lots of parking with supermarkets, valet parking, efficiency. The American people in general (I am German) are tolerant, easy going and cheerful. The luxury of endless possibilities. Anything can be done, manifested. In Italy, so much is stuck in old rules and laws.
What are your next travel plans?
April 15 I return to Italy which has so many places I don’t know and want to explore. I hope to return to Greece and Portugal, countries I went to as a kid. I like to spend August in Arcachon, France, with bestest friends, like I do every year. And living on a small island for a while.
“I got the bug of learning new things, especially this year”
What does the new year have in store for you?
I got the bug of learning new things, especially this year. Want to continue to learn, and improve my sculpting, painting, and Italian. Want to give back, whatever that looks like; it’s a work in progress. Want to explore Italy more, so many beautiful places to see. I know I have a TED talk in me about divorce without drama, conscious uncoupling. I need to find time to write it and the courage to present it. To this day I am terrified of standing on a stage. And believe it or not, I would love to be a waitress at a little café on an island, Greece or Italy. What would that be like? I imagine it would be a wonderful, eye-opening experience. I hope to see my sons more often. I hope to bring them to the piazza in Italy, eat ice cream and pasta with them and show them the beauty of a sunset above the bridges of Florence. And I hope the new year will bring me my next soul mate.
What are your three life non-negotiables?
Being kind and respectful as well as being respected no matter what skin color or beliefs we have. Living with beauty (unrelated to financial circumstance). Living with love, inner happiness, and hugs.
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