Hi, I am Annette. Nice to meet you! Let me give you some information about Onward.

What is Onward about?

Onward is a newsletter about lifelong learning and reinventing oneself throughout life.

What is so fascinating about learning?

We start learning while still in the womb and don’t stop until we die. Learning provides the fuel, the spice, and the honey of life.

Without learning, we wouldn’t survive. We couldn’t walk. We couldn’t talk. We couldn’t write. Without learning, we couldn’t deal with challenges, react to dangerous situations, or adapt to changes, be it due to technological progress, aging, or climate change.

Name one interesting person you know who is not a passionate learner. I bet you can’t!

Learning is a necessity, but it is also a pleasure. Without learning, life would be boring. No music. No books. No sports. No crafts. Curiosity, passion, and ambition would lead to nowhere without learning.

Learning allows us to change course, reinvent ourselves, and explore ourselves and others. Name one interesting person you know who is not a passionate learner. I bet you can’t!

Why do you write Onward?

Because I love learning, always have. Sounds nerdy? Well, I am kind of nerdy. When I was 11, I took my chemistry book on family vacations, not because I had to but because I wanted to know all about the periodic table. At 14, I was obsessed with the question of what encompasses good general knowledge (what in German is called Allgemeinwissen) and gobbled up books proposing a canon of things you should know.  

More than 40 years later, I am still fascinated by learning. And now I learn for a living. As a writer specializing in psychology, I spend my days reading scientific papers, interviewing experts, and being out and about to observe and experience firsthand. Over the years, it has become more and more clear to me how absolutely fundamental learning is to our lives. And I want to share this knowledge with others.

Why should I subscribe?

You will never miss a post! When you sign up for the basic subscription, I’ll send you an email right in your inbox every other week. IT IS FREE.

Each post will focus on a specific topic like “What is a late bloomer, and are you one?” “Learning and passion” “Values - Know your why”. Expect evidence-based information from research studies done by psychologists, neuroscientists, anthropologists, and experts from other fields. But I will also introduce you to fascinating learners. Like the 73-year-old aerial artist who took her first flying trapeze lesson when she was 66. Or the 27-year-old hyperpolyglot who speaks 22 languages.

Want to dig deeper? Sign up for a paid subscription! Subscribers of the paid newsletter ($6.00 monthly or $60 annually) receive two additional posts per month that will provide further insights into the topics, including suggestions for helpful activities, questionnaires, tests, and detailed book and reference lists.

Also, a paid subscription will give you full access to the archive, and you can take advantage of community features, like commenting on posts.

Who are you?

I am a long-time journalist*, published author**, trained economist***, psychology aficionado°, rookie yoga teacher°°, amateur gardener°°°, dilettante skier^, enthusiastic traveler^^ – and who knows what else in the future.

The details:

* When I was a graduate student in economics, I interned at a financial newspaper in Germany. I fell in love with journalism and have not looked back since. Starting as a business and management journalist, I later added biographical and science writing. Nowadays, I mostly write about psychological research, the life of inspiring people, the adventure of being human. I am the US correspondent of Psychologie Heute, the leading psychology magazine for the general public in Germany. My articles have appeared in many other magazines and newspapers in Germany, Switzerland, and the US (including Brand eins, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Scientific American Mind, and Medium).

** Topics that are most dear to me have found their way into books: a non-fiction book about the complex attachments that people form to their belongings, a collection of profiles of renowned psychologists and psychiatrists, and a biography of Joseph A. Schumpeter, the Austrian-American economist who coined the term "creative destruction.”

*** I went all the way to the German equivalent of a Ph.D. in economics. Although I loved the rigor of the discipline and the breadth of topics explored, I never worked as an economist. See *

° In my mid-30s, I started to pursue in earnest a subject that was among my favorites in high school: psychology. I took classes at the Open University (GB) and Fernuniversität Hagen (Germany). By now, I am about halfway through my bachelor’s degree. I take my time – obviously – but still plan to finish my degree in this lifetime. Stay tuned.

°° Having practiced Yoga since the mid-1980s, I enrolled in a Yoga teacher training in 2015 and graduated in 2016, shortly before my 50th birthday. Since then, I have taught community classes, cancer survivors, and friends. I still regard myself as a beginner teacher with all the nervousness and self-doubt that involves.

°°° Give me some flowers, a trowel, and planting soil, and you can observe an utterly absorbed and happy human being. I specialize in container gardening, particularly container water gardening. My proudest achievement: a tiny yellow water lily that lived in a half whiskey barrel and continued blooming year after year.

^ I took my first ski lesson when I was 35 and have kept practicing since. Let’s face it, I am not a natural-born skier – but hey, who cares about speed or elegance when the snow is crisp, and the sun is out?

^^ I love traveling with my husband Niko but also venturing out on my own. My favorite solo trips include a visit to Iceland filled with nature and history, a sunny stay on the Portuguese island of Madeira, and two Yoga adventures to India. I also commute regularly between San Francisco, my primary home, and Cologne in Germany, where most of my family lives, and we have a second base.

More questions? Please feel free to email me at annetteschaefer@substack.com.

Logo & Banner Design by Judy Higgins

Subscribe to Onward

A newsletter about lifelong learning and personal reinvention. From a science journalist who loves to inspire. For people who never stop exploring the world and themselves.


Journalist and book author. Writes about psychology, fascinating people, the adventure of being human. Articles in Psychologie Heute, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Scientific American Mind and many others. www.annette-schaefer.net