Archive for May, 2011

On my last tour through Europe I had four people who have had cancer, two who have had heart surgery, and five who lost their partner due to a major sickness. It is mind boggling how much sorrow, pain, and loss a small group of just 20 travelers from across the globe can experience in a relatively short period of time. I am not mentioning here all the other problems and challenges that the group further shared with me, e.g.: problems with their kids, chronic health problems, fears about their future, business and professional challenges, etc., I am only focusing on “major” stuff here. I admire and appreciate every single one of them as they, despite their challenges, still have a spark in their eyes and a lust for life. They all defeated their own inner “victims” and focused instead on life and living. They left behind the notion of “that we cannot do much to change things” or “turn things around again” and instead pushed themselves back into life and embraced the joys of being alive – one of the biggest being: to travel. I take my hat off to all of them and feel honored to have been able to show them around Europe for a couple of weeks.

We all think that what happened to us in our life is unique and that no one can understand us or fathom what we had to go through. But when you start talking to people and listen closely you will realize that practically most people faced at least one major challenge of some shape or form in their life: whether a health challenge, the loss of a loved one, economic and financial crises, or otherwise deeply painful experience. This clearly shows us that no matter how old we are, no matter where we come from, and no matter how well off we are, we will face one, if not several, traumatic incidences during our lifetime. Thus life cannot mean trying to avoid the unavoidable but rather learning how to deal and then swiftly overcome the hurdles that present themselves throughout our journey through life. I am in the lucky position – and I have carefully chosen this adjective – to say that I, despite my relative young age, have been able to experience several traumatic situations – and those of you who have followed me throughout the years know how big and difficult they were. Of course they were all very painful – and if I claimed differently I would be a liar (or otherwise mentally ill person) – and very hard at the time, some of them even challenged my core beliefs about life, why we are here, and what to make of our existence on planet earth, but they turned me into this calm, leveled and trusting individual that I am today, so much so that I am showing other people how to have faith, trust and expect the best for their lives.

When going through tough times, know that you are not alone on this planet; know that most other people also have gone and will go through very challenging times; know that you most likely will come out of your current situation as a stronger, deeper, wiser and more grounded person. This experience will help you lead a more fulfilling life in the years to come as you will naturally focus on the important issues in life and disregard the not so important ones. Your mind and thoughts will shift rather naturally, believe me. Whenever you meet a person who, despite great challenges and bleak predictions focuses on the beauty of life, do your utmost so that their energies will rub off on you – you can only benefit from that ;)

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Over one billion (!) people watched William and Kate’s wedding on Friday, April 29th. A fairy tale became reality – an “average” girl turned into a princess. Something we all deep, deep down daydream about – that someone picks us up and pulls us out of our average, mundane, and maybe even miserable life and through a magic kiss turns us into a beautiful princess or charming prince. When do we ever see a Cinderella story to come true? Never, right?! Wrong!

There are Cinderella stories happening all day every day – we just have to see it. Such a story is unfolding right in front of my eyes, so instead of writing about William and Kate, I much rather would like to write about Laverne and Ellen. I am currently guiding them on their tour through the Alps. Laverne is taking his Ellen on a tour through Europe – it is their honeymoon. So might be inclined to say that this is not such a unique love story; well, only because you do not know that Laverne is 76 years and Ellen is 72 years old. They just got married a few months ago and Laverne wanted to show Ellen “his” Europe. Last time he was here was as a soldier in the 1950’s where he got to travel through and learn to appreciate Europe. He never had a chance to come back again – until now. Both were married once before; Laverne for over 50 years and Ellen for nearly 50 years. Both took care of their sick partners for decades and both lost their partners a few years ago. Both live in rural Wisconsin and happened to bump into one another through a divine providence.

Throughout their trip they have not left each other’s side once and whenever I look at them they are holding hands. Laverne keeps saying that he is the luckiest man on earth to have found Ellen and to be able to spend time with her. He couldn’t even remember how it feels not to take care for somebody. His wife was suffering from MS and was sick and needed help for thirty of their fifty years together with her final ten years being bedridden and needing constant attention. Laverne said that it never crossed his mind to ever leave his wife he was just there for her, despite having to work on his farm long, long hours and also running a tractor repair business on the side – apart from raising his children. He did not have a single to himself for some thirty years and wasn’t able to travel since his return back to the US from Europe in the 1950’s. His heart was yearning to travel and to explore but life’s circumstances forced him to stay put.

Not only was he taking care of his wife but also he had to overcome a few major health issues – cancerous tumor and a heart attack, apart from a big accident. All of these sent him straight to hospital – weeks, months and years of personal fights but he never forgot to laugh and to say ‘the hell with it’. When you talk to these two little angles you do not see a trace of bitterness or anger in their eyes – all you see is happiness, excitement and love for each other. To have met them on my journey has been a blessing indeed! Thank you Laverne and thank you Ellen.

As you can see a ‘William and Kate’ miracle is happening all the time – just choose to see and choose to experience yourself and you will!

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