We had the good fortune of connecting with Beate Walden and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Beate, how do you think about risk?
Risk-taking is a choice of being ok with failing when you really think about it. It is Beowulf going down into the lake to fight the monster, not knowing whether he will come back. It is Hamlet asking the question: ‘To be, or no to be, that is the question.’ It is Camus’ quote: ‘Live to the point of tears.’ It is the inner journey of equanimity and non-defeat.
Jumping out of an airplane, I better not take unnecessary risks such as jumping without a parachute.
In business and life in general, we cannot assess risks before we start a process. It seems to me that in any life lived, we have an intuition, a convergence of all things that are ‘our life’, and we step towards that with our goals and dreams, ambitions, and joys in mind. Once we do that, we are in risk-land. No way out and no way back. We are asked to build an incredibly robust inner world that can slowly and eventually faster-paced cope with failure.
Now, contrary to hitting the ground when you jump without a parachute, in our daily lives we do not know when the fall is coming. So at any given moment, it is possible that we encounter adversity and troubles. Continuously learning who we truly are, tripping over stones, not knowing where the road is taking us, falling flat on our faces, and then standing up and in our truth of knowledge and intuition, that is the great risk journey all of us are on. This inner journey is so very valuable. For neither our physical appearance nor the most beautiful home will survive the journey out of this life one day.
In other words, taking risks is unavoidable. And beyond that, it is a gift we give to ourselves.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
In my first dispensation of life, I was a recording artist in Germany, with countless performances and songs written. I was a fiddler in a Country band, and yes, I wrote Country songs in German and performed with a band all over the Country. When I was eleven years old, it was our like-the-von-Trapp-family’s 1976 performance at Disneyland that sparked my love for the United States. I spent as much time as I could in California, New York, Colorado, and Florida in the coming years. I thought I would forever be young, invincible, and have my own book of rules.
Lo and behold, that ended in the next epoque of my life. A new language. A new culture. New humor and ways of doing things. We had moved to Los Angeles. My son was born with major medical challenges, and my young mother’s heart was devastated. It was my first experience of existenial fear so big that it nearly squished me. I lost track of music, I lost track of meaning, I had to rewire my brain into some sort of feeling of safety.
I found a profound feeling of home while looking through a lens of a professional photo camera. Oh, the worlds that opened up and I was privileged to step in to through these photography years. I realized that seeing the world through the angle I chose, the distance I awarded myself to the place or the subject, created a new map of inner worlds previously unknown to me. I wished to see everything photographed to reimagine my world. I found this to be a deeply revelatory experience. I photographed a lot of eople and their mannerisms in order to see and feel and disect this human experience.
The Masters Degree in Spiritual Psychology further unlocked my artistry. The awareness of all my ancestors’ worlds living on inside of me as me changed my disciplines of attention.
Through practices of meditation, mindfulness, silence, and dedication I have arrived at a place where my whole life has become a liberated meditation, a deeper attention to what I experience, think, feel, and is coming towards me.
In essence, I have been finding my artistry in listening, mothering, violinning, song writing, poeting, photographing, spiritual psychology-ing, moving, traveling, speaking, and writing.
As a catalyst for human development through different approaches. I employ my knowledge and energy at Sister Code, a retreat and speaker series for women of all kinds. Born out of desperate Covid times, we encourage radical sisterhood through practical skills, trust, confidence building, and community focus.
At Songmaker Sessions and the program of AMPLIFY we do the same through Song Writing and finding your own inner voice.
I have learned that everything is possible if you ‘only’ come for your own place of reference (that is a really big task) . Yet in order to develop that own place of reference, you need to go through it all… all of your and no one else’s life’s offerings. Whether you consider them good or bad. As Shakespeare said: ‘There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so’.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Ok, let’s imagine my best friend from New York comes to town. I would first take her to Katsu-Ya in Studio City for a great evening sushi meal. Let’s indulge in some amazing food to get ready for the next day of hiking in the Angeles forest. Walking along the stream and under trees to a waterfall, we take in the beauty of California’s nature in this state that seems to have it all. Afterward, we would head to Maru coffee on Hillhurst Ave. in Los Feliz for a great cup of coffee. Hopefully, we will be able to sit inside then and enjoy the artistic and simple ambiance. I would definitely want to head to the Broad DTLA to take in some great art. Hopefully, we would get tickets for a bit of thought-provoking talks at the UCLA speaker series the following day.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have had such a tremendous amount of help, visible and invisible. I have received help when I asked for it or when I did not even know yet I needed some. My most influential mentors and friends and colleagues have been first and foremost the poet David Whyte. I have studied his work in the corporate world, his poetry, and now his leadership programs for almost 20 years. His Invitas Institute is at the forefront of creating a different conversation in life and leadership. The support I receive through his words, his actions, his vulnerability, and accountability are too diverse and multitudinal to list.
Valerie Presburger, my friend of 20 years, has taught me about Pilates, child-rearing, the inclusion of four very different cultures and languages into one woman. She has been my greatest supporter and champion of my ever-changing work and life. Valerie has been a part of my four moves -can you even imagine? – to different homes and has hiked Machu Picchu with me on our 50th birthdays. Not only is she an inner and outer beauty as well as an incredible Pilates coach, but she is also an advocate for women and their continued health.
Following Shakespeare’s counsel of: ‘Listen to many, speak to a few.’, my husband of 25 years Chris would be the one to speak to. His deep love and considerate voicings, his deep reverence for music, and the language of the soul have brought unmeasurable depth and beauty to my life. His marriage of work and his relationship with himself and with me is a true symbol of strength, perseverance, vulnerability, and love.
Tree Image: Beate Walden Poppy Fields: Valerie Presburger Sistercode image: Courtney Fortune Image of the kids w/ photographer: Leslie Darwin O’Brien