By Emma Connolly
June 9, 2019: A former missionary nun is using the skills she learned from Mother Teresa while working with some of the world’s poorest people to help under-pressure Cork entrepreneurs.
Saskia Kremer, who grew up in Holland, met Mother Teresa when she was aged just 12 and was so moved by the encounter that she joined her missionary at the age of 18.
However, by the time she reached her early 30s, and having travelled the world to help those most in need, she felt so burned out, empty and drained that she turned her back on the religious life to join the business world.
It wasn’t an easy decision or transition, the now 44-year-old recalls, from her new home in Glanmire, where she lives with her two kids, aged six and four.
“I had always vowed I wasn’t going to give my life to God to be a dried-up and unhappy nun behind bars and that’s exactly what I had become. It wasn’t an overnight decision but I eventually realised that I’d be better off out of that.
“When I had regained energy I started looking for a job in Holland. But recruiters told me ‘there was no place for me at the inn’ since I would just not fit their moulds. I didn’t want to compromise so I decided to create my own job.”
As a nun, she had helped people in distress find support and their meaning in life and that’s what she started to do as a lay person.
“I supported people after accidents or illness to find their purpose and meaning in life, when finding their way back to work.”
There were further hurdles to overcome though after Saskia, by now a mother of two, ended up in an emotionally and physically abusive relationship.
Having ended the relationship, she found herself living in an expensive 80 sq meter apartment on the second floor with two kids.
She felt lost and knew she had to do something radical, and despite having never been to Ireland she rented a house she saw online in Glanmire and moved here in September, 2016.
“I had never been to Ireland before but my mother had been to Ballymaloe House and loved it and told me about the space, nature and friendliness so we decided to move,” she said.
She has continued her business here under the title ‘Burnout to Breakthrough’ and feels more empowered than ever.
“What I’m doing is helping successful, time-challenged business owners and professionals who can’t find the bandwidth, to pursue more lucrative projects and increase their profits.”
Saskia feels her own rich life experience puts her in a good position to help.
“Having my own business for over 15 years, I know the entrepreneurial ups and downs from within, as well as the challenges of being a single mom who went from not having enough time for my family to finding the time and the way to bring my business to the next level, to work less for more, creating a clear path to growth, with clear focused action, without the stress and the overwhelm.”
Saskia calls stress the ‘silent killer’ that most of us aren’t even aware of.
“As human beings we adjust very quickly, since we are survivors. Our body adjusts to new levels of stress and so our tension keeps increasing without us not even noticing it because we don’t take the time to slow down. I hear many people say: ‘Ah, when this is over then things will slow down or settle’. And more often then there is the next event in life that happens: that is just what life is. And we keep going, and slowly we become more and more reactive, responding to one emergency after the other.”
Her top advice to people is to realise that we cannot do things alone.
“Successful people don’t do it on their own! They all have a huge support system. Often we wait too long before we change things around. So before you get to the point where you feel completely overwhelmed, without energy, randomly running from one task to the next and feeling exhausted all the time, lacking concentration, focus, motivation and satisfaction, ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing and for whom.
“Are the things you are doing giving you energy or costing? If it is costing more than what you have, take a serious look and ask for help to change things around.”
Saskia is enjoying life in Cork: “It’s not so efficiency-based as Holland — there’s more breathing space!”
And one easy to implement change for people, she suggests, is to start a gratitude diary.
“At the end of the day, just write three things down for which you are grateful. It can be hard sometimes to find them, but they are always there.
“If we start focusing on the things that we are grateful for, it shifts our energy and opens our minds to see new things and opportunities. It is a way to acknowledge the good things in our lives and the things we have accomplished. When we go to sleep with a grateful heart we wake up so different!”