a look back at 2023 part 1

A Look Back at 2023 – Part 1

The year of change. The gains, the losses and the path forward.

It’s Sunday, the 31st of December 2023. I’m a few days late with Tuesday’s edition, and I apologize for that. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to be kinder to myself, so I am trying to be okay with that. Christmas brought around a health hiccup, and the passing of a dear friend. The last days have not been challenging, but writing has a magical way of helping to heal and process. The original post for this week is below, but first, I’d like to share the memory of my late friend.

On the 28th of December, right as I was finishing off this weeks newsletters, my heart broke when I was informed that my good friend, co-worker, partner and all around wonderful person Antonis has passed away. He lost a short battle with his heart. It still feels surreal, and a part of me wishes that this is just a bad dream from which I will wake up. There’s much to be said about him and the great man he was, to me, he was one of the bigegst possible positive influences in my formative years. From suggesting a move to Cyprus when things were falling apart in Austria, to enrolling me at the school I ended up attending, through countless hours of games, jokes, laughs and smiles we’ve spent together. He was always rooting for me and the things I was doing, and I was always happy when he got to be part of these. The bittersweet realization came to me that the last time we saw each other was at the closing event of TCG in Cyprus. A goodbye to 10 wonderful years of running the show in CY, before we moved to Poland for this year’s biggest project. As we were saying goodbye, we had a heartfelt embrace and short talk about how far things had come. It was a beautiful, fleeting moment, which at the time got mixed in with all the conversations of the night. Looking back at it now, it’ll forever be a cherished moment, even more so that now it was not only a professional goodbye. I hope you rest in peace.

You will be missed, my friend.

Tuesday, December 26th 2023

As another year comes to an end, I’d like to take this week’s issue to look back at all that 2023 brought. The incredible highs, the dramatic lows, the change, growth, bittersweet moments and the hope for a wonderful 2024. This is strong reflection of my year, and next week it’ll be back to the standard format.

It’s crazy to think it’s already the end of another year. I remember as if it were yesterday, that we were sitting in our favorite spot on the terrace in Cyprus, remembering the many moments we shared there until we left in September of that year. As we sipped our champagne, the fireworks went off, signaling that the new year, 2023 had arrived. The last months were already filled with great change, from the move to Poland, the CIM Project and the big launch of Nutrified. We had a few days for our own, to relax, reminisce and puzzle, before we were heading back to Poland to start off the year. I had a chance to see my good friends from school, Filip and Nicolas, chat for a while and catch up. After graduation, our paths split, with one moving to the UK, the other to the Netherlands and me the airport. Even if just once a year, it’s always a special time when we get to catch up. Let’s take a look back at 2023, what it gave, what it took, what it brought and what it meant.

The International Quarter


The start of the year kicked off the globe-trotting adventure of the first few months. After 2 days in Cyprus, it was back to Poland to regenerate from COVID, right before it was off to Austria for back to back meetings. I have a very difficult relationship with Vienna, likely in part due to a lot of un-resolved trauma from my days in school. This time however, I was just in the parts of Vienna which hold many good memories, and because of scheduling, I had a chance to be here 2 times this month. January was an intensive time in the office, jumping between the construction site of CIM, juggling remaining work with TCG, and getting ready for February and March. The month ended with a trip to Warsaw, for a rainy day, mostly spent inside.


The first trip in February was a beautiful coincidence where we got to merge professional with personal. We were headed off to Rejykiavik to see Circulight and FlyOver Iceland, two interactive projection-based experiences which would heavily inspire what we were about to do in CIM. But with a little creative planning, we manged to go right when Natalia was celebrating her birthday, letting her spend some time with her brother who lives in Iceland. The pure beauty of this snow-covered land is difficult to put into words. From the kilometers of snowy white-horizon, to the most delicious, fresh, fried and crispy cuisine at some of the best spots in town, Iceland was a trip to remember. We got to go on a road-trip on one day, to see the most remote church on the island, some filming locations of GoT, as well as the Pacific Ocean. Pictures truly don’t do this justice. We came home right before Valentine’s Day, but instead of celebrating, unfortunately I suffered the second episode of Depersonalization & Derealization. Much worse than the first, the 10 days we had in Poland were challenging. Trying to get through the episode, trying to get out of it, and trying to comprehend what happened. In this time, I was also officially diagnosed with ADHD, which brought along a lot of closure and understanding for myself. Time doesn’t stop for anyone though, and right at the end of my recovery, we were off with Natalia and my friend Paweł to London. It’s been a few years since I’ve been back, and the first time since Brexit. It was surprisingly nice, much nicer than I remembered. In a strange way, it felt like I belonged. It felt homey, and like the place I was meant to be. In hindsight, nothing came of it, but at the time, it was pleasent.
Through an awesome points redemption, we got to stay right at Leicester Square, which was an experience in and within itself. From the buskers on the street, the many lights of the West End Shows, to the troves of tourists coming into M&Ms world.
On the first night, we managed to get some last minute tickets to Cirque Du Solei, which was in town for another two weeks. The show was mesmerizing, seeing what humans are capable of, seeing ‘imagination‘ come to live, it was inspiring.
The reason we went to London was to try out their Michelin rated immersive dining experience at The Park Row – The Monarch Theater. It was super fun to see projection, live story-telling and the gastro experience come together. The team that runs it are great sports, and it was super fun to chat with them afterwards.

Through a fun coincidence of timing, my awesome brother in law Pete was in London too for the day. We met up at a coffee shop not far from our hotels, had breakfast together, and I walked him back to the Square to catch a cab. It was so wonderful to see him, share a coffee and have some time.

After London, we came back to Poland, and it was off to Kielce and Slovakia for work, once again back-to-back meetings and hosting guests from the Middle East. I came back late on Sunday night to Poland, and then on Monday we’d be off with Natalia and my father and mother for a trip to Copenhagen.

At the end of February, we also lost a dear friend of mine, more family than friend, Mrs. HihiHaha. She was 91 years old, and bursting with happiness. She loved life, took it in with troves and always had a positive outlook. She was a gem. She was the best, and left a sun-shine shaped hole behind her.


The Alchemist. At the time, number 12 on The 50 Best Restaurants, now deservedly at Number 5. Through sheer luck and a connection made years before, I managed to secure a reservation to this mysterious locale. It was the peak, a merger between art, food and entertainment, marriage between technology, social commentary and service at the highest level. The Alchemist will get it’s own entry sooner than later, because over the 50 “impressions“, that they serve, they amaze, inspire, shock and scare you. The experience lasted about 6 hours in total, but felt as if we were transported into a whole different dimension. One thing I will always be thankful for with The Codeero Group, were the experiences I’ve got to have. This evening was unforgettable in so many ways, but I think more than anything, it fulfilled a dream I never knew I had: throwing myself, along with my mom, father and partner into a huge ball-pit, as 80s music blared from the speakers, the lights flashed and all of us had a healthy dose of BACs in. It maybe lasted 2-3 minutes before it was time for the final stop at The Alchemist, but the memories will stay with me forever.

We came back from Copenhagen, and with a 18 hour stop-over in Dubai, it was time to head to Bangkok. The first conference of the year was VIV Asia, at Impact just outside of the capital of Thailand. Dubai went by very fast, with a quick meeting with business partners of The Holding and then we shared an intimate dinner with my father at our favorite spot in town. At the time, little did I know that this was the last one.

Bangkok was a blast. Experiencing the Thai culture, the incredible hospitality of everyone there, and the welcoming attitude of everyone was just incredible. The first 2 days were logistics and setting up everything for the tradeshow, organizing last minute prints, arranging for the videography team and getting the badges. This was our biggest delegation yet, counting 12 people in total. The conference went by with smooth sailing. Hundreds of handshakes, countless business cards, and a multitude of conversations. At the event, business as usual, and we could count it as success.

Personally, Bangkok was a breaking point. Following months of building tensions, disagreements and key differences in world views, that one fateful evening in The Bamboo Bar, something inside of me broke and I exploded. I am not proud of what followed, for the war of words that started was the ugliest I’ve ever experienced. Things were shouted which could never be taken back, feelings expressed which had been boiling for months, and when all was said and done; I blurted out one final sentence: I’m done.

I was done. I was done personally, I was done professionally and I was done emotionally. Something had broken inside of me, and I was just done. Shaking from emotions, Natalia helped hail a cab and return back to the hotel. After that night, I’ve spoken to my father maybe three times. Once, where we decided how to proceed with our separation of interests, once to finalize the agreements, and one final time where I drew line to cut all-contact. Leaving all of this behind was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make, but one which was the best for me and my health.

We had managed to tack on a few days after the event for a mini vacation. It was supposed to be a relaxing time, just for the two of us. That evening, it didn’t look like it could. Luckily, after having slept, I knew I wanted to give enjoying this trip a try, and I am so glad I did. We had two more days with my friend Maciej, an avid Muai Thai fight. We explored the city, saw all of the most important temples and sights to see, and in the evening, attended a Muay Thai Gala. To say this was an experience, would be undermining it. I cannot say I am a fan, but it was incredible to see the fighters, at the peak of their performance, fight with each other, only to hug it out minutes later. The respect, the professionalism and the love for the sport were unquestionable. Afterwards, we managed to grab a taxi, and go experience another aspect of Thai culture: the street food. On Natalia’s research, we ended up at Jay Fai. We didn’t know it at the time, but she was cooking both nights we were there. I have to preface this with a few important things: I don’t like spicy food, I don’t like noodles and I’m not the biggest fan of soups. I loved the red, steaming, liquid gold we received. For some reason, the restaurant staff took a liking to us, and allowed us to skip the long line of people waiting, and seated us inside. We devoured the food, eating up every last little bit of it. The noodles, the egg cracked right in, the duck… it was an explosion of flavours, and I think the single most memorable food of Bangkok. Well, next to Mango Sticky Rice of course. That was illegally delicious.
We visited the green lungs of Bangkok on our last day, cycled, took a motor taxi and came back to the mainland city. We explored the shopping mall in the center to get some gifts for family, and got ready for our flight. We had a short stop-over in Dubai, where we indulged in all of our favorites – Le Petit Quotidien’s Avocado Toast, Pickl Cheeseburgers, Shake Shack on JBR and of course a delicious Shakshouka from Bateel. Ah, the mere thought of these really kicks my tastebuds into overdrive.

Back in Poland, it was a short turnaround of 2 days, before I was off to Cyprus to start the renovation of our newest office – 507A. I packed up the office in The Holding, cleared up my things and left the keys on the desk. I got home and packed, the next 2 weeks would be spent in Cyprus creating a new office space.
We traveled together with Natalia’s father Wieslaw, and went on to spend most of our time together, him renovating and building, and me trying to get all materials which were needed in place. In the usual Cyprus way, there would be delays and we wouldn’t finish until the end of May, but made very good progress in March. On the 31st of March the big moment came of handing in my notice. After nearly 6 years, I was leaving my position as Chief Of Staff and only staying connected through TCG’s work on CIM. It was symbolical mostly, as I’d still physically stay on to oversee the renovation of the main office until June, but it still was a big step.

Rock Bottom


In April, my sister Julia, her two kids and Pete visited us for Easter. The first few days, while hectic, were incredibly blissful and I am thankful they happened. I got to introduce Julia and her family to Cosmo, and we got to hang out together with Natalia and Julia and Pete. It was amazing. After that initial happy period however, things shifted. First, Natalia lost her first pet, the beloved Nadine. The passing was sudden, heartbreaking and incredibly challenging. Together with Cosmo we tried to support her as well as we could, but grief needs its time and space. Things turned for the better when Natalia accepted a spot in the Masters program at SPD in Milan, where we would move to in October. She came back from Milan exactly to catch me before I disappeared from the face of the world for the next 11 days. The middle of April would mark the final episode of 3Ds – Depression, Depersonalization and Derealization. In a few weeks I’ll likely do a longer post about these, as there’s very little awareness of them. I thought of myself as fairly well-versed in mental health, yet before my first episode had never heard of them. In essence, the best way to describe what happens is: You become a passive bystander to your own life. It feels as though you’re watching a movie in which you are not played by yourself. You know things are happening, but you don’t understand them. You don’t see them. You loose all contact with the outside world, and suddenly you become an empty shell of a person. If you’re lucky, when you sleep, you’re out. If you’re not, it’s nightmare galore. With each episode they’ve progressively gotten worse. That last one in April, it was the darkest yet. In the waking moments I was aware of what was going on, an episode was happening, yet was powerless to do anything about it. I was sleeping an waking, often thinking weeks had passed, while in truth it were days. Asleep, the terrors would kick in, paralyzing nightmares of such extreme realism that it would take all my energy to try and remember that this was all fake. It didn’t feel that way. Depersonalization and Derealization can occur in many stages and many forms. I encourage you to read up on it to be more aware and be able to catch these signs in yourself or loved ones.

After what can only be described as a two-way trip to hell, on the 26th of April I started to heal. I started to slowly regain myself. My trust into my senses. I started to sleep less. I started to be awake and lucid more. I started jourlanling, noting down things I was grateful for. Suddenly, the mere act of waking up was something that would fill my day with joy. These days were the hardest of my life. They were the basement to my rock-bottom. Right there, I made a decision that things needed to change. That I needed to change.

I started to change things. Step by step. Day after day. Week after Week. Month after Month. The road was anything but easy. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I can safely stand on my two feet again. I am starting to learn what works and what doesn’t. I’m starting to learn to say “no“, and to put myself into a healthy first place. I always could explain the analogy of “Always put on your mask first before assisting children and other passengers“, yet I never really truly took it to heart.

The remainder of the year was an up-hill battle, but in the most positive of ways. There were many successes, many battles won, and many steps in the right direction.

If you’ve read this far, thank you. I appreciate your time and the fact you’ve made it to this point. I’ve decided to take a break here, and come back with Part 2 next week. Every great story deserves a beginning, a middle and an end. This here feels like the best place to break, before the end-chapters, where things turned for the better.

Thank you for being with me on this journey, and until next year friends!

My best from Poland,


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