The past two weeks from the end of January to Valentine's Day have been spent with my family from Sicily as well as Melbourne, Australia. We have laughed, cried, shared stories and bonded during this special time, something that is often taken for granted by those that live closer together.
The first time I surprised my uncle was 20 years ago for his 70th Birthday in 2000. I really wanted to re-do the 'carramba che sorpresa' (surprise appearance) for his actual 90th Birthday celebration and be part of this amazing milestone.
Without telling even my family in Australia, I took off at the end of January from Zurich. I met with my cousins at the train station in the province of Messina, Sicily, where they snuck me into my Dad's village.
What I love about my Uncle, who recently celebrated their 65th Wedding anniversary with my Dad's sister - he is the essence of resilience, persistence, of the never-give-up attitude, who spent his life trying until he got his first small success, and used that drive to keep pursuing his dreams.
He is a remarkable man who has lived a tough life of poverty in Sicily prior to and after WW2. The sacrifices he made to grow a business from nothing is what I would call 'Old School Education'. What we can learn from him is more than would could learn from the education system. His are those real-life stories mixing intuition with customer service, drive, passion, and desire for a better way of life.
Whilst we all hope to reach old age, we definitely want to get there in good health, and he looks so much younger than his 90 years. I had such a wonderful time bonding and being with all the cousins of varying ages, to celebrate this wonderful milestone age. We spent such quality time sharing stories, which were such a privilege to hear, giving the opportunity to learn and understand how lucky we are today. My uncle and aunt have an extraordinary love that accommodates all shapes and sizes. We need to learn to be patient, kind, giving and forgiving - without being taken for granted.
A week later we were off again as a family to spend a week in Madrid, Spain with my brother and his kids who we haven't seen for 8 years. What a fab way of hanging out together, at the Plaza del Sol which is right in the heart of this wonderfully vibrant city.
We ventured out to Segovia to see the aqueduct which is more than 2,000 years old, together with the Plaza Major and Alcazar. We also went to the ancient 'Imperial City' of Toledo, with its various religious districts and historic bridge, showing that people can in fact live together in harmony, especially if our differences can be put aside.
Exploring the foods at the diverse locations from Tapas, Empanadas, Paella, Tortilla, Seafood and meat dishes, there was a never-ending selection to fill our tummies. There are wonderful views of Madrid from the top floor of El Cort Ingles, with the Royal Palace and Cathedral in the distance. And not to mention having Valentine's Day cupcake up there too!!
If you haven't already been to Spain, add it to your list of places to visit and absorb yourself in the wonderful history of this beautiful Country.
I hope you enjoy the latest Blog about 'When Stress Overwhelms Your Mind', and do check out the previous ones in the Blog-Library.