• Erica Vernet Knowles

(ep 13 - part 1) How can I have a more fulfilling life after 40? With Kitesurfer Sandra Christmann

Updated: Oct 30








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(ep 13 - part 1) How can I have a more fulfilling life after 40? With the Kite Surfer and Art Powerhouse Sandra Christmann


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How does one find their true passion? What can you do to have a fulfilling life even at an older age? How can one find the best opportunity to help others? Are women who do not get to travel not aware of their privilege? How do women influence women? What does it feel like to be a German woman? What is something you wish another woman would’ve told you? These are all the questions that our interviewee Sandra Christmann answers wonderfully in this first part of the interview! Being acquainted with such topics and spending her life finding her passion, she’s the best person you can go to for these answers.



Collective Drift is taking up AARP's challenge to reinvent what it means to age. Remember, what you do after 50 can be just as amazing as what you've done before 30. It's time to disrupt aging. This is the first of 3 episodes in partnership with AARP highlighting amazing women from around the world who have disrupted aging. Go to aarp.org/disrupt-aging to learn more.


Sandra Christmann is a 52 year old woman that disrupts aging by 1000%! She’s a mother, an art powerhouse, kitesurfer, world traveler and philanthropist. Sandra was born and raised in Essen, Germany. She studied German linguistics, media and Italian in Düsseldorf where she still resides. At the age of 25 she was fortunate to give birth to her favorite person in the world, her daughter Lana. Soon after that, she started working as a PR and marketing manager. Despite being good at marketing, she couldn’t find the necessary drive in it. She wasn’t content with the said job and decided to find something where her heart would feel at peace. Then, many of Sandra’s friends, who were artists themselves, prompted her to direct her attention to art. That’s when she started working at one of the most famous museums, focusing on classic modern and contemporary art, The Kunstsammlung in Düsseldorf. She spent 13 years there as the general manager responsible for sponsoring. After turning 50 years old she made another life changing move. She became the head of strategic alliances for the startup art fair Art Düsseldorf. So don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t get a new job after 50 or that only millennials can work for startups!


Sandra’s true passion surprisingly lies in kite surfing. Despite being told by her daughter about how dangerous of a sport it is and that she must be a bit too old for such a risky thing, kite surfing always came to Sandra as a gentle breeze. According to her, she’s full of energy and constantly looking for new ways to release that energy. Kite surfing over the sea is her favorite method of finding that high. The sport lets her focus on her strength rather than her mind, concentrating on the wind, and her technique to move on and not to collapse. Similarly, yoga is her way of coming down from that high and finding her peace again.


Traveling, especially for kitesurfing, is something Sandra is quite accustomed to. It is something that she considers herself as privileged for despite reaching success on her own. Sandra has been to the Netherlands, Paris, Brazil, Kenya, Portugal, Italy, and Spain for the said sport. Sandra believes that age is just a number, you should never let it limit your potential. What matters is how fresh your mind is and how capable you mentally feel about it. She started kite surfing at the age of 46 with this mindset and is now 52. Of course she observes signs of aging in herself but what is that to stop her?


To Sandra, traveling is a means of opening one’s mind. The places you go to, the people you meet, they all broaden your perspective. So, according to her, international travel is a privilege that not all women get but if they do, it works as a catalyst for broadening their point of view.


During one of her visits to Kenya for kite surfing, she noticed that most children were in school but this was not true for children with disabilities. Soon she started along with her friend Tino hired a teacher and started what is now “KIDIMU Special School for Deaf Children” (KIDIMU). Initially they were sending about 50 euros monthly for food and for the teachers salary. Later this escalated to sending money for medicine and other necessary items; so instead of keeping it on a donation basis, Sandra decided to do things correctly and start a foundation for the school “Aid Kenya Watoto”. Now, the school has grown to such an extent that 50,000 euro is required per annum. KIDIMU is located near Shimoni, Kenya and now has over an area of 10 hectares with 3 buildings. Now, the project has grown a lot and the government has also started offering its support. Starting off with only 6 students, there are a total of 50 students now out of which 40 are boys. So, Sandra wants to focus more on getting girls into the project as there is currently a lack of education for girls in the area.


The primary woman who influenced and continues to influence Sandra throughout her life is her mother. A woman of strong determination and nature. She taught Sandra that you are responsible for the decisions you make. Your life and decisions are your own, so whatever comes with it, the good or the bad, it is your responsibility and you should face it head-on. Apart from her mother, Sandra was very much inspired by her former boss at the Kunstsammlung museum, Marion Ackerman, now the Director-General of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, of one of the best museums in Germany. Marion is also a mother, strong in cultural policy, and of course a role model. Thus, she was the one who inspired Sandra through the professional perspective.



To Sandra, being a German woman means endless possibilities and freedom. You aren’t forced by law or religion to abide by rules, you are free to do whatever you want. The quality of life is amazing in Northern Europe, from where Sandra belongs, especially considering health insurance. Even if you lose your job, you still don’t lose your rights to proper health and well being which is honestly great thanks to the well-developed social system.


Something Sandra wishes another woman would’ve told her is that you are the person who controls your life. It is all up to you, it is your choice. You are the one paving the path to your future so do whatever you feel like but do not run away from the consequences, always stick through it.


In the next part of this episode, the conversation gets even more fun as we find out in detail about all the amazing places Sandra has traveled to during her wonderful kite surfing adventures! Sandra also talks about her view on female strength and what she would love to ask women all over the world!


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Where to find Erica and Collective Drift

www.collectivedrift.com

https://www.instagram.com/collectivedrift/

https://www.youtube.com/collectivedrift


Where to find Sandra

https://www.instagram.com/sandrachristmann/

Art Düsseldorf https://www.art-dus.de/

Aid Kenya Watoto https://www.aidkenya.org/


Places mentioned in the interview

Kunstsammlung (museum) https://www.kunstsammlung.de/de

Shimoni (village) https://www.lonelyplanet.com/kenya/shimoni

Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (museum) https://www.skd.museum/en/

Aidshilfe Düsseldorf (health care service) https://duesseldorf.aidshilfe.de/de


Countries mentioned here

Kenya https://magicalkenya.com/

Netherlands https://www.holland.com/global/tourism.htm

Portugal https://www.visitportugal.com/en

Brazil https://www.visitbrasil.com/

Italy http://www.italia.it/en/home.html

Spain https://www.spain.info/en/


Cities mentioned here

Düsseldorf https://www.duesseldorf-tourismus.de/en

Mombasa http://www.mombasa.go.ke/

Paris https://en.parisinfo.com/



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The Collective Drift platform was created by Erica Knowles to celebrate all women, the beauty of their cultures, and international travel experiences. I believe that women possess magic, that gives them strength and grace to change the world. We learn how to tap into our power in various ways based on our cultural backgrounds and our journeys. Join me and an amazing collective of multicultural, multiethnic, and multigenerational women that are artists, cultural leaders and travel enthusiasts as they tell their stories about their culture, their tribe of women, their passions, their art, and their favorite international experiences. Welcome to Collective Drift.


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