3 Life Changing Lessons From My Summer Vacation

This week my family had our first real family vacation.  My wife and I have been married for 10 years but this was the first time that we had not been too broke, too pregnant or too busy to actually get out and do something.  During the past decade we spent 5 years as students, 5 years starting a business with four babies coming into our family during that time.  So here are 3 lessons that will last me a lifetime from my summer vacation.

 1.  Turn around once in a while and see where you've been.   The reason we chose California is because I grew up in the Bay Area until I was about 11. I haven't been back there for about 20 years.  For me it was an amazing and emotional experience to return to the first church I ever attended, my old elementary schools, the place where I got my bike stolen and to visit the neighbors across the street. (as a side note this neighbor is the one whole stole my bike to teach me a lesson).  Reconnecting with my past was invigorating and gave me a lot of insight into who I am and who I have become. Good, bad or ugly…. I think it's good to sometimes revisit the ground we have already traveled and remember how we have gotten to where we are.

2. Stop focusing on all the things that could go wrong.    My wife was very reluctant to do a road trip.  I grew up in a family that would drive cross country every few years.  She didn't really have that experience.  It took some explaining and convincing before she decided that she could go along with it.  This was a tremendous leap of faith. She had all of these ideas about how our kids would hate it in the car or wouldn't sleep in a strange place and on and on.  But none of those things happened.  The kids were as close to perfect as you could want on a road trip.  I have to admit some mild disappointment that I never got to yell "Don't make me pull this car over!". Not even once!

Then there was the amusement park we visited. When I was about my kids' age my sisters were forced to bring me along with them to this same park. They hated that no matter what they tried, I would not get on any of the rides. One of them would have to sit with me while the other rode a roller coaster.  I was convinced something terrible would happen if I got on the ride; the ride would break or I would go flying out or any of a hundred different, horrible things. This time though, I rode with my kids on everything. I did this despite all of the terrors that were bound to happen.  Guess what? None of them did!  A mere 25 years later I was enjoying rides that would have paralyzed me with fear and produced a large puddle of urine.  My wife and I learned that when we focus on only what can go wrong we miss all of the wonderful things that will go right and are frankly a heck of a lot more likely.  Fear, doubt and focusing on what could (but probably won't) happen keep us from happiness.

 3. There is joy in the journey.  We drove to along the Oregon/California coast on the way down there.  Many stretches on this road had just a single lane and the speed limits were low.  There are lots of little towns to drive through… slowly.  It is definitely not the most efficient way to get from here to there.  I learned that the most efficient is not automatically the best.  I can't imagine a more beautiful route to take.  Winding up and down beautiful mountains as you look west into an endless ocean was breathtaking. We had experiences that you can't have when you are driving your car as fast as it will go. Sometimes it's ok to slow down and enjoy the scenery, especially when you are with people you love.

So there it is… What I did for my summer vacation.  I think that remembering where and who I come from, focusing on what can go right and enjoying life's scenery will change me and the way I practice.  It reminds me of a quote I have on a plaque in the clinic which says: "In all of living have much of fun and laughter.  Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured." (Gordon B. Hinckley, 1996)

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