Claudia Goetzelmann has a knack for seeking out the hidden beauty in people and in situations, even in death. She also has an implicit trust that life will support her.

How does she use this to express her passion? Through photography, and coaching women through midlife transitions.

If you listened to my shortcast a couple of weeks ago, you will know that I danced with the idea of going into photography when I left school. I allowed myself to be persuaded that this was not a good idea and my life took a very different path.

A Calling For Life

Claudia’s passion for photography started a lot earlier in life. At just four years old she started taking pictures with a little Kodak camera which is still a treasured family possession. Maybe it was this long romance with photography that eventually gave her the courage to follow her dream career, even though she was strongly advised against it by her German parents:

“You love something, you keep it to your hobby otherwise you will lose your passion”

At first she heeded this advice and went into social law. However, no matter how positively she looked at that career path the free spirit in her could not endure it. Photography was calling her and when the opportunity arose she took it to divert back to her dream career.

Culture & Travel

The opportunity was to go and live in Nigeria with her German boyfriend. It wasn’t a big plan that had been deeply considered before taking action. It was more like one of those ‘go with the flow’ moments. Having made the decision she notice how she was suddenly surrounded by African culture. Even in her home town in Germany she started noticing it.

Once in Africa, Claudia earned a living by teaching German. She used her leisure time to explore her passion for photography by visiting tribes and connecting with people while taking pictures. Back home in Germany, the images were taken up and displayed as huge panels at the Munich Stock exchange that was visited by the Nigerian ambassador. This launched her career as a commercial photographer and gave her the opportunity to travel the world experiencing life on four continents.

In our conversation, Claudia unveils the inside story of photography. It is so much more than just travelling to nice places and taking pictures. For me, this was a fascinating exploration into a world I never experienced first-hand with my short-lived sojourn with photography.

Exploring Death

After lots of travel, Claudia finally married, settled in San Francisco and built a solid career. Then totally out of the blue her life was thrust into a crazy mess when her partner unexpectedly ended their 13 year marriage. She hadn’t seen it coming. So she was suddenly confronted with a burst bubble and had no idea how it happened.

The life she thought she would lead was gone. Not only did she loose her husband, she also lost friends and connections. It felt like death had come knocking at her door.

However, instead of getting lost in depression or anger. Claudia took this soul-wrenching experience and turned it into an opportunity to explore something new.

The feelings of facing a death, inspired a curiosity for the process of dying and a recognition of the power of honouring these endings. She took this further by reading and exploring more about it and then decided to train as an End Of Life Doula. (In case you are unfamiliar with the term, Doula’s are people that support others through their end of life transition into death.)

“ It totally spoke to me… There is a sacredness and grace to dying that we as a society have let go of.” 

Bringing It Back To Life

Claudia wanted to explore and support people to rediscover this sacred awareness. While training she realised that much of what she was learning could also be applied to other phases of life. She wanted to bring the knowledge back into the now so that people could discover and work with it before the end. In particular she was interested in applying it to midlife transitions.

By the end of 2018 Claudia completed a Spiritual Life Coach training and founded ‘Permission to Bloom” her coaching service. Today Claudia is an empowerment coach, supporting women through that midlife transition.

As I am sure you will discover in listening to this podcast, Claudia and I were enjoying each other’s company and the conversation flowed naturally. We continued chatting long after I stopped recording and, like many of these chats, it took a bit of pulling in to fit the time frame of a podcast.

I do hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did and that you gain some valuable insights from it. If you would like to work with Claudia or explore her photography (included the mentioned portfolio of older women) you will find all the relevant links below.

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