Mom, Me & Europa!

On Tuesday August 29th Iceland Air Flight 532 left Toronto International Airport at 9pm and my Mom and I were off on another adventure.

We had decided earlier this summer to travel to Germany and visit relatives.  Our family is changing quickly over there in Deutschland!  Many of them are getting older and we also have new little people coming in!

Before venturing over to Germany to be smothered with love and more Kaffee and Kuchen than I would ever eat here in an entire year, we made a plan to take a 2 day layover in Iceland.

If you are planning on visiting Europe I strongly suggest you take advantage of Iceland Air’s “free layover up to 7 days” promotion.  You will not regret it.

This piece of the earth is like nothing I have ever seen before – warm geothermal pools, breathtaking waterfalls, mighty ocean waves rolling onto the jet black sand, glowing green grass, spewing geysers, volcanic craters and lava rock for miles.  It is an absolute piece of heaven.  The Icelandic people are gracious and the country is filled with talented artists.  They take great pride in their hand crafted work.

Our first day we indulged ourselves by spending 4 hours at the Blue Lagoon, relaxing in the geothermal seawater and applying a silica mud mask to detox our pores and leave our skin feeling soft and supple.

Waking up on day 2 we were energized and ready for a serious Icelandic adventure.  We rented a Fiat 500 five speed “cinco centa” and cruised around for 12 hours that day.  We saw the Golden Ring, the South Shore and made it to Reykjavik just in time for an authentic Icelandic meal.

Day 3 we flew to Munich.  I pleasantly surprised myself on this visit.  I understood and spoke more German than on other visits.  It was emotional for me to hear old war stories told by my 88 year old uncle and to be reminded of how much my parents and their generation have been through in their lifetime.

Our family is really amazing.  Generations of people who had their livelyhoods taken away by the  hardships of World War 1 & 2, every single one of them built a new life, re-invented themselves and created better lives for their family.  I found myself appreciating all the little things that I grew up with.  How they make their own coffee and take it in a thermos to go.  How they cook from scratch with fresh ingredients.  How left overs are always enjoyed the next day.  How how they wash out and re-use plastic and glass containers.  I remember, when I was younger, I thought my parents were crazy for their constant attention to saving pennies and re-using things until they fell apart.  I thought this was a “war baby” syndrome or something.

I see it all quite differently now.  My cousins have the same behaviours, 2 and 3 generations later.  Their conversations are so interesting.  They have a genuine concern for the planet and for human rights.  Their discussions are about conserving energy, urban gardens, food share programs and education for children and refugees.

Germany takes care of their people.  Their economy is strong.  They have programs in place where German citizens can volunteer to assist refugees to learn the language and help them integrate into the German society.  One of my  aunts is actively involved in one of these programs and is helping a family from Eritrea to learn German.  She works with them to fill out official forms and applications. She accompanies them to official government offices, to doctors’ or dentists’ offices. She “invites” them for dinner, buys the ingredients for a meal but has them cook the meal by following the German recipe.

These observations and conversations made me feel even more proud to be Canadian, a country that is made up of immigrants.  We are diverse and accepting of all people, no matter what race, religion or sexual orientation.  Germany is the same.  Here is how Angela Merkel herself described Germany’s values, “democracy, freedom, the respect for the law and the dignity of human beings, independent of their origin, skin colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political position”

When I left to go on this trip with my Mom I was pretty stressed out.  I was consumed with my work and truth be told I was working from a place of desperation and pressure.  Two things that I now recognize I created myself.  I think that many of us business owners go there!  We push, push, push to be the best and maximize on results.

This trip gave me a gift.  I received a bird’s eye view of on how I chose to live.  Although my day to day life is important it can also be small.  The stress and pressure that I put on myself is often because I only see my own little world.  I forget to look at the big picture.  I forget that there are events happening in the world which are much greater than that I am.

I think it’s important to understand where we come from.  Listening to the memoirs of the “senior” people in our lives can help us gain perspective and decide how we want to “be” in the world.  Get clear on what we stand for and to not only live by our true values but also by the values our family put in place for us.

I don’t have all the answers but I do know that when Iceland Air Flight 525 from Frankfurt landed back in Toronto I was a different person and that’s a good thing!

Monica XO

  1. If you would like to see pics from our adventures click HERE to see our travel album on FB.


Audrey Marton

Wonderful words of wisdom! Your insight re the tendency I believe many of us have to focus on our ‘own little world’ rings true – and not just for business owners. Thanks for the reminder to open our eyes, ears and hearts to the bigger picture. On a personal note, my aunt who will celebrate her 85th birthday on Thursday, is now in Iceland with her daughter, having taken advantage of the free Iceland Air layover enroute to Hamburg, Germany. Great minds think alike:)

Teresa Paul

Great great great post Monica!!! Having a European background too, yes, I totally get this. Listen to our ‘seniors’, don’t be so quik to hit the drive thrus, save and conserve a little more and get out of our bubbles that we throw ourselves into. Work smarter not harder and remember the words your uncle told you too!

Thanks for sharing girl.

Monica Graves

Love your comment Teresa! I think you’re amazing and you’ve mastered my Onkel’s advice… can I be your grasshopper? XO

Jennifer Schanck

Loved reading this.

Here we work to live. In Europe they actually live, in the moments.

It’s hard not to get caught up in that here. Deplugging often helps. We are so attached to our phones life is passing us by.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *