25. Oktober 2019

The Storyteller

Birgit Amelung lives in Berlin with her husband and small daughter. She is a freelance strategist and concept developer for international brands, directs commercials and designs videos. But that’s by no means all. Birgit’s passion project is HER Berlin––the German branch of HER GLOBAL NETWORK, an international nonprofit network for women which is represented in over 20 cities worldwide. Since becoming a member in 2016 she has organized regular events and dinners on selected topics, all with a focus on emotion and honest exchanges of views with other women.

Birgit is also co-founder of ART PERSPECTIVES, a new platform for modern culture in Berlin. Founded in spring 2019, the platform supports women artists and fosters diversity in the arts, connecting art with fashion, technology, and digitalization in a model that goes beyond classic gallery presentations.

In her private life Birgit loves making up stories for her small daughter. With subjects ranging from funny robbers to thrilling trampoline competitions, her tales are told as bedtime stories or––if she is traveling––as voice messages. Her husband provides the illustrations for the characters, like the friendly pirate Captain Ispy. “A friend of ours told us recently that we should write a book,” she laughs. Who knows… We meet up with Birgit Amelung in Berlin for the White Cube Art Project and realize straight away that she’s a doer, not a time-waster!

How did you feel when you were being photographed in the White Cube?

Safe. I felt very comfortable.

One aspect of the Cube is to present the personal “rough edges” or quirks of the personalities in the photos. What are yours?

I’m impatient, quick-tempered, and a perfectionist. I can’t bear standing still and inertia; they’re my bugbears, so I have high expectations of other people. I’m very emotional and wear my heart on my sleeve; I can dance on the table for joy, but I also flip out if something really annoys me.

What’s your personal passion? What makes your heart beat faster?

Music––like Xavier Rudd or electronic beats that pick you up and shake you around. Music sends waves of happiness through me. And dancing! My trip to Burning Man last year was just magical, and I still get goosebumps when I think of it. Time spent with my family. Yoga. Images and stories that inspire dreams. Colors. Being in the flow, when energy and ideas fly around like sparks. That tingling feeling when a fantastic project works out. Talking about everything under the sun with my brilliant friends. That special chemistry you sometimes experience with people. Traveling. The ideas of Eckhardt Tolle, which changed my life. A new car!

What makes you laugh?

My daughter, my husband, my friends.

Do you have something funny to share with us?

The conversations I have with my daughter are hysterical, but pretty impossible to describe to outsiders. That incredible little person makes me laugh every single day and inspires me to be funny and goof around. It’s wonderful.

Is there anything you couldn’t live without?

The people closest to me. Music! Good food. Movement. My essential oils. Loving and being loved!

How did you become what you are today?

What am I? I think people are constantly changing. In the same way, life always has something new in store for us. In the past few years I’ve also been shaped by painful experiences, but in a good way! I learnt to keep my distance from negative energies and negative people and surround myself with people that do me good. I know who I can truly rely on, and I really don’t care what other people think about me and my lifestyle as long
as I’m happy about it myself. I’m convinced that everything has a positive side. Even what seems to be the worst possible solution points out a new path to travel, makes you stronger, and clears space for something new. Life isn’t always comfortable, but we grow the most when we leave our comfort zone. At the moment I’m more excited than ever before about exploring myself in more depth, and I’m taking the time to do it. From career coaching to spiritual travel, I’m always open to new input and soak it all up like a sponge, then evaluate what I can take away from it. Today I’ve become far better at handling situations where I don’t feel good or experience negative emotions. The key is to stay true to yourself and not allow yourself to be too influenced from “the outside.” Right now I really feel I’ve arrived––with my family, my friends, my career, and everything else I do. I really love my life, and that’s a great feeling.

What inspired you to bring the HER network to Germany?

I used to talk to my friends about setting up a kind of networking platform for women in Berlin. I love working with women and wonderful things can happen, but when everyone has a full diary it’s so hard to make time and space to talk at a different level. A friend told be about HER and hooked me up with the Swedish founder. At that time HER was still in its infancy; I think the very first dinners had just taken place in NY and Stockholm. I loved the name and the international focus. In August 2016 we held our first dinner in Berlin with 14 women, on the topic of courage.
We now have over 200 women in the German community. HER is a passion project. Our core team is small––there are three of us right now––and we all work for it on a nonprofit basis in our spare time. It’s sometimes a huge challenge to fit everything in, but ultimately that’s what gives HER its authentic charm. It’s grown completely organically, nourished by pure passion for the subject.

Do you always have a movie running in your head?

Good question! I do think in pictures a lot, and if a job requires me to come up with ideas, I really do see a movie playing out in my mind. But I’m also able to approach things in a very analytical and structured way and make decisions based on facts and figures.

Tell us about your favorite movies.

“The Sea Inside” and “Biutiful” with Javier Bardem––what a great actor.
“Inception.” Amazing script! “Cherry Blossoms––Hanami.” Those gorgeous images from Japan are unforgettable. I’ve never been to the country, but since seeing the film I really want to visit Mount Fuji. I also love the documentary “Searching for Sugar Man,” and the soundtrack is fantastic. Series? Breaking Bad, Narcos, Sons of Anarchy. Stranger Things!

How has being a mom changed you?

It hasn’t changed me as a person, but it’s certainly honed my judgement of what’s important and what isn’t. If you already have a certain level of energy and you’re a “doer” by nature, you’re not suddenly going to lose all that just be3ause you’ve become a mother. I’m still the same person that loves her job, steps on the gas and loves new challenges. But now I deliberately plan breaks from my work, which I never used to do. In fact, the whole aspect of wellbeing has taken on enormous importance for my family and me. I’ve become far more picky about how I spend my time, and who I spend it with, and about who I put my energies into. “Surround yourself with people who feel like sunshine!” is a motto I now stick to religiously.

Is there anything you’re afraid of?

Sickness. Death. I’m scared that people that are close to me, or even I myself, might be taken far too early. I try to enjoy life mindfully, be grateful for what I have, and not to complain too much or get upset about insignificant things. I love life and just want to make the best of it, together with my nearest and dearest.
But I’m also terrified of climate change. I keep thinking of the movie “Interstellar,” where the earth is ravaged by climate change and famine and people have to look for other planets to settle on. Sure, it’s fiction, but sometimes I wonder how far away we are from that scenario. Could it become reality for our children and grandchildren? The first signs are already there in politicians like Donald Trump and the fact that people like him can gain power in the first place.

How important is travel for you, and what happens to you when you travel?

Travel is first and foremost a huge source of inspiration and strength for me, but it can also be very tiring because I have to travel a lot for my work. I’m always happy when I can spend four weeks in a row in Berlin. On the other hand, I love being on the move and absorbing the energies of other cities and places; I get a real high from it and return full of new life and exhilaration. I also love traveling with my family, just spending quality time with them and doing what we feel, a long way away from our heavily planned routines. I try to combine work and personal travel wherever I can, so my family comes along and we add a couple of days at the end. Whatever way I choose, I just have to get out every few weeks; it’s in my blood.