Top 3 fresh insights from my summer holiday

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A year ago, my husband and I offered to my recently-widowed father that we would love for him to vacation with us each summer. As an incentive, we also offered that we would take him anywhere in the world he wanted to go for the summer of 2013. He chose to go to Switzerland ~ with a big smile on his face.

We recently returned from our incredible 9-day summer holiday in the Swiss Alps. What an amazing experience it was, especially to share it with the two most important men in my life.

Now that I’ve enjoyed a few days to get past the jet lag, I’m realizing that I gained 3 fresh insights from my holiday. They’re relevant for life in general, but they’re also relevant as reminders for us as employees and job-seekers.

#1: When life hands us a detour, it may be giving us the best view of all.

We expected a 3-hour drive from Luzern to Täsch, but the GPS noted at Andermatt that our planned route was closed (probably due to an avalanche or rock slide). We were forced into an alternate route that would add at least an hour to our drive. I wasn’t happy.

We took the alternate route, which led us well into the Alps on little two-lane roads near the border with Italy. Very little traffic. Magnificent mountain views and quaint out-of-the-way villages. Rain and low clouds, but no snow or ice. Some of the best photo ops of our trip (other than the Matterhorn, of course). I was finally able to embrace the detour as a gift, not a burden!

#2: We have resources and strengths that we didn’t know to draw upon.

Switzerland has four official languages: German; Italian; French; and Romansch (similar to Latin). You’ll notice that English is not among them, though many people know a few English phrases.

Since we were driving a rental car, we needed to quickly learn their road signs, too. The red outlined circle on white background with a black car icon in it that means “no motor vehicles allowed.” The red outlined circle containing one red car on the left and one black car on the right, meaning “no passing.” The yellow pedestrian-crossing warning in cities that gives you a count of blind-crossings ahead. And of course, the tiny little supplemental 4-light signal that warns when a train/tram has priority access to the street where you’re driving!

I never would have guessed that my middle-aged brain could quickly learn enough German, French, and “road-sign” to safely drive in Switzerland. Much less that I could figure out how to pump and pay for gas at a station where English was not spoken! We have unknown strengths that circumstances can evoke if we let them.

#3: We have friends and companions that we haven’t yet met.

Thanks to facebook, linkedin, and google+, I have dear friends all over the world. But I don’t think any of them live in Switzerland. Or so I thought before our trip.

On this kind of adventure, I expected that there would be unforeseen events to complicate our travel experience. I didn’t expect how courteous, helpful, and compassionate the Swiss people would be. The hotel concierge who helped us find the most delicious place to have Swiss fondue. The perfect strangers who taught us how to use the luggage carts on the train ~ and how to get our 5 franc deposit back at the end of the route. The tram security person who could have fined us 100 SF per person (about $120 each) because we didn’t know how to validate our tickets ~ and instead stayed with us to our destination, disembarked with us, and demonstrated how to validate the tickets in the future. The kind woman who left a worship service on the national Swiss holiday to give me first-aid when I collapsed in the doorway from heat exhaustion (that’s another story).

There really are times in our lives when we see the best qualities of human beings ~ and who our real friends and companions are.

Nothing earth-shattering in these top 3 insights. But they’ve given me a fresh perspective for my daily life. Perhaps they will for you as well.

Republished with permission. Originally published by Elyse on her employee/job seeker blog in 2013.

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