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HEIKO GATJE

“The soup of life from a chef’s perspective”

I emigrated, or rather went on a search of my life’s true purpose from Germany in 2001.

There were several other reasons for this.

At that time I had just given up cycling, which has been a big part of my life and something I have done very intensely for 5 years.

I discovered a new love of mine- windsurfing which I totally fallen in love with.

The predominantly cold climate in northern Germany- where I was living- was amongst other reasons for me deciding to leave.

I found the total overstimulation of fast paced life there exhausting and the ways of how the whole society was structured and expected it’s people to function did not resonate with me at all anymore.

It was just all too much for me. I felt overwhelmed and lost a sense of purpose in it all.

So as it happened, leaving behind the cycling culture was the first step for me to leave all the rest behind too- which I thought of as pure madness.

Constant evaluation of the self and comparison of one’ life status to another- according to parameters that were not at all fulfilling for my vision of life, was just too much for me to handle anymore.

All this racing and pacing, yet nobody questioned anything? Where are we running? What are we trying to achieve and who are we wanting to impress? What’s the final destination? And most importantly- at what cost?

Working a lot, earning a lot, then buying a lot and spending a lot. And in free time going on fancy holidays a lot and partying a lot.

Why all this?

To enrich oneself with the same happiness that one has taken away from oneself, to get back one’s soul that one has sold oneself before.

Apart from few professional athletes, I honestly didn’t know anybody who was actually looking forward to waking up each morning and performing their daily, mundane tasks at work.

My belief at that time was that the reason we go to work is just to earn money. What I heard all my life was : “ you will only be successful if…., you will only be happy if…. you can only be this or that if……only if… if if…”

This was what my mindset was made of.

I was never given the opportunity to think for myself or take responsibility and make my own decisions at school, which is why I left as early as possible. I didn’t understand anything back then, only that I didn’t want to be a victim of the system anymore.

I met a pair of windsurfers, who through their travels in faraway countries, showed me a totally different way of living. I was very inspired by them and motivated to find new ways for myself.

The windsurfers gifted me with a book called “the dolphin: story of a dreamer” which reflected exactly my life up until that point.

I then travelled to South Africa and Fuerteventura and met people who were able to work, were happy, healthy and fulfilled, all without any of the “standard” necessities that I was made to believe one must have in life.

At that point nothing made sense to me anymore.

Despite having very little of what I thought you need to have to be happy, those people seemed happier, more open minded and simply more alive and human. They didn’t need any 5 or 7 courses feasts or any gift wrapping parties. They had enough time and prioritised to show each other affection and interest for one another. I now felt even more betrayed by the society I knew. There had to be a middle way.

From then on, I no longer blamed myself if I only did the things I enjoyed doing.

In the end, it was to be exactly that, which brought me the most growth. I will not forget, however, that negative experiences pushed me the most to make the biggest changes.

So where there is light, there is also shadow and if it were not so, the game would not work.

I stayed on Fuerteventura and always tried to keep the fun in the foreground, or at least something that would lead to that.

I met Laura at a fun Halloween party. Through catering for a small photo shoot in the dunes, which I totally improvised for fun, began my journey of 10 years in film catering in all of the Canary Islands. First for a company and later for my own catering firm. Until I reached Hollywood productions with people such as Ridley Scott.

Then came the idea to buy a land and build a little hut on it. This became a house billing project without construction company, without water and electricity on site and in a stone desert. I had only one employee with whom I had a very special relationship- it was my father. He also believed that it would be much fun to work in a sunny place with me.

But some things take more work first and after comes the fun. We needed 9 months to build the house, as long as you need to wait for a baby. After that, it still continues to grow until

today. During the construction time, me and Laura lived in a hut next to the building site, to not have to pay any rent.

Then came the time for our wedding in Italy, which was a lot of fun, and after came 2 real babies:)

After 10 years of film catering,  the 7lemonhouse project was born. To create a space for like minded people to come together. This idea already existed while we were building the house and now was the perfect time to pursue it.

The reason why we started the 7lemons idea and why I stopped film catering was mainly due to us becoming parents and wanting to spend more time at home with our family.

Look around you! There are so many options that could be more suited to you than the one you already know. From my culinary perspective, life could be compared to a soup to which you add ingredients as you gain experience – cook your own soup if the life you are living does not taste good to you!

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