Magical Roadtrip

            Roadtrip!!  I don’t think there is a word in our car-centric society that evokes more nostalgia than this one.  We all have memories or great stories about roadtrips with our families in our youth or in our early adult lives when we set out with friends for a grand adventure.  Last week when our little family set out on a roadtrip toDisneylandI was struck by how much the roadtrips of my youth differed from today’s jaunts with my family.  First off, there was the matter of seatbelts, or lack of, in my younger days.  We had a station wagon and all four of us kids just piled in the back and claimed our corners and we bounced around back there with our toys and played games like “I Spy”, and something else we made up that had to do with naming the colors of cars that we passed.  There was a lot of laughing and just a few arguments that generally had to do with someone invading someone else’s “space”. 

 Fast forward to last week’s trip…we are a 21st century, seat belts locked, techno-geared up family.  Ginger, the youngest, has her own DVD player, I have my Kindle and my husband, Gordy has his I-phone for checking texts and e-mail during pit stops.  (We stick to our no calls or texts while driving rule, especially since we have a teenager who will soon have a license of his own.)  And speaking of the teenager, Shaun, wins the plugged-in award simultaneously playing games on his laptop, listening to music on his i-pod and keeping up with his texting.  I like to think of it as multi-tasking training for the future.  Just as I was having a wince of nostalgia for a quick game of “I Spy”, I thought of my mom and you know, as resistant as she was to technology, I think she would have preferred today’s set-up to the raucous rides of my childhood. 

             Now on to destination Disneyland!  Personally, I have mixed feelings about Disneyland.  I am not by nature an amusement park person.  I don’t really care for a lot of the rides, mostly because I get dizzy easily and am a big wimp!  I have no patience for crowds or waiting in line, both of which are a given just about any day at Disneyland.  However, there is a charm and dare I say it a certain “magic” about Disneyland that sets it apart from other amusement parks and I can not resist taking my kids there.   It is amazing when you think about the imagination, planning and technology that went into designing the park.  And that I think is the key to what keeps bringing me back.  There is a sense of wonder, of “how did they think of that?”  This particular trip the crowds seemed a little less than normal and the lines shorter, which meant time too get in more rides and for the first time we even stayed late for the fireworks, which was well worth the wait and the tired feet!  And good enough to impress a 14 year-old boy, which isn’t easy!  All in all it was a good trip and yes, I will go back, but not for at least another couple years.

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A Day of Nothing

            One of my daughter’s favorite books right now is called “Nothing To Do” by Douglas Wood.   In it, a young boy revels in the possibilities life offers when there is a day when nothing is on the calendar.  A world of free time, play and exploration awaits him.  Children, no doubt, are wired to experience the world in this way, but as adults, are lives are so busy and hectic that sometimes we need to be reminded to slow down, be in the moment and just enjoy life.  Reading this book made me wistful for one of those days.  Imagine, nothing on the calendar, no grocery shopping or laundry, no kid shuttling, no must get this done today or the world will fall apart feelings.

 

            Then, the unimaginable happened!  I turned the page on my planner and there it was, a Monday with nothing on the calendar!  And to sweeten the deal, it was my birthday.  What better excuse to have a day of nothing, than your birthday.  My husband had made coffee already, the kids were on the good behavior program and I got to enjoy the newspaper relatively uninterrupted.  Then, with no agenda looming, it was off to thelandofBarbie’s with my daughter.  As the sun got higher in the sky, the thought of an adventure took hold and we (my husband, 3 year old daughter and I) piled in the car and headed toward the beach.  Once we were on our way, I discovered I had left my watch at home and that my phone battery had died.  What better way to stay in the moment than to let go of time!  A picnic sounded nice but, as is common this time of year, the beach was overcast and a bit cool, so we opted for lunch at one of our favorite restaurants right on the beach.  By the time we finished lunch it was warmer and some joyous time was spent running up and down the beach, creating avalanches in the sand and poking at seaweed. 

 

            Back at home, I enjoyed a little siesta, possibly brought on by all that fresh sea air, but more likely due to the glass of wine I partook at lunch.  While I enjoyed my peaceful respite, my husband, with a little help from the teenager and toddler, prepared a wonderful dinner complete with brownies for dessert.  With only a quick check for Facebook birthday messages and e-cards, I didn’t linger on-line that evening, but rather read books, had conversations and didn’t even look to see what was on tomorrow’s calendar.  Some people would call it a mental health day, but I prefer to call it “a day of nothing”.  With school out for the summer, I am looking forward to more days of nothing!  Try it yourself and see what adventures evolve.

Why not me?

            Inspiration is often found in the most unexpected places.  Last night at a small radio station sponsored concert with Gavin DeGraw, a singer whom I was vaguely familiar with, a phrase that he said got stuck in my head.  “Why not me?”  Retelling his story of how he was inspired by this phrase would never come across as entertaining as his was, but suffice to say at the time it got him to adopt the mind set of “Hey, if others can do it (in his case, make it big in the music industry) why not me?”   How simple, yet how profound these three little words can be.  That is not to say that talent, hard work, and dedication are not also part of the equation in accomplishing goals, but a positive mindset can get you over the hurdles.  So we may not all become rich and famous like DeGraw but when facing a roadblock or some lack of confidence it is a handy phrase to keep in your back pocket.

             My first, “Why not me?” moment was back in high school when it came to my attention that there was an escape route from the little Wyoming town where I grew up.  If other kids could go to out-of-state college, I thought, “Why not me?” Now part of selling this plan to my parents entailed picking a major that I was sure could not be offered at the University in the town where I lived, thus a devotion to the fashion industry was born.  I did love the fashion industry, but I have often wondered since then if a driving force behind choosing a major in Textiles and Clothing was the prospect of getting out of town.  But choosing to get out on my own right after high school set me on the path that has led me to where I am today.

             Shortly after getting away to college my second “Why not me?” moment occurred when I discovered running and the thought of entering a race crossed my mind.  Yeah, me, the so far most unathletic kid of the family.  I pushed myself though.  If other people could run 10k’s then,“Why not me?”  Over the next 20 years I ran many 5k’s, 10k’s, a couple ½ marathons and marathons and while I never made it to the Olympics, or anything close, I gained a lot of self-confidence and fortitude that has carried me through many a tough times.

             At the age of 43, right after getting married for the second time, my husband and I discussed having a child.  The odds weren’t exactly on our side and there were naysayers in the wings, but I had always wanted a second child and I thought other women were having babies in their forties, at least according to the news media, so “Why not me?”  That said, there were a few “What the h-e-double chopsticks was I thinking” moments during my soon thereafter pregnancy.  They are but a memory now as that healthy little bundle of joy has got our hearts wrapped around her pudgy, little fingers. 

             Granted, it is harder to grab those “Why not me?” moments as we get older and the naïveté of youth is worn thin by the harsh realities of life, but I am still looking to the horizon waiting to grasp that next big bubble that floats my way.  Who knows, if Stephenie Myers can have a dream about vampires and turn it into a bestselling book series and movie deal, then, ”Why not me?” ….minus the vampires, of course, I’m pretty sure that’s yesterday’s story. 

             And, if you haven’t had any “Why not me?” moments yet, then, “you better get on it!”

 

bugs in my teeth

The last couple weeks I have been giving my running shoes a break and have been getting out on my bike.  The area where I live is somewhat of a mecca for road cycling.  A lot of pros come here to train, including Lance Armstrong, in his heyday.  Being the rebel that I am though, I like to hit the road on my..gasp!..mountain bike.  Yes, I said the road, not the dirt.

            My husband announces pro mountain bike races (now those are some real athletes) and can talk about the sport all day long. My son rides at this place called the Dirt Club.  Me, I’m just a wanna be.  I like the look and feel of a mountain bike without all the adrenaline rush of riding down a steep mountain at 60 miles an hour dodging trees and gopher holes.  My status as a non-adrenaline junkie was brought home to me the other day when my 3-year old daughter asked me if I had ever broken a bone, to which I replied, “no.”   She thought about it for a minute and then bouncing and stuttering with the sheer brilliance of her insight she replied, “I know, when ‘they’ made you, ‘they’ must have used some really strong glue!”  Not to break the spell of her new found wisdom, I agreed wholeheartedly, but inside I was shaking my head.  Oh, the sad truth is that I have never broken a bone because, wimpy girl that I am, I don’t often put myself in precarious situations.

But I do enjoy riding my bike, the feel of the wind in my face and the bugs in my teeth…for me, it’s all about getting outside and having fun!  

…..oh, unless it’s tarantula mating season around here, but that’s another story…

the athletic chick hatches

Yes, it sounds like an oxymoron. How can one be both wimpy and athletic? I blame it on genetics. I was born a wimpy girl, all skinny and gangly, not high on the coordination scale either. I never made it up the rope in P.E., never could do more than one pull up and was never in the top 10 for dodge ball team selection. When I was about 9 my mom signed my younger sister and I up for gymnastics. Or, let’s put it this way, she signed my younger sister, who actually showed some athletic promise, up for gymnastics and I was signed up so that she wouldn’t have to go by herself. It was an embarrassing debacle from the beginning. While I did manage to master somersaults and a headstand, I never could learn to do even a basic cartwheel. (this, of course, would also rule out any chance of a bid at cheerleading later on) After several months of torture and a bad fall off the uneven parallel bars I gave it up. Going out for a sport in middle school or high school? Far too intimidating for a wimpy girl like me. Once in my twenties I gave in to some peer pressure and tried softball. Again, not pretty. Hitting the ball not only takes coordination, but also a certain amount of strength, something I was sadly lacking. Catching the ball didn’t go to well either, and trying to catch a ball and hold a beer at the same time, not a chance.
Redemption, of a sort, did come while I was in college. Determined to not become a victim of the “freshman 10”, I began exercising and discovered that not only could I run I actually enjoyed running. Back at home for the summer between my freshman and sophomore year and buoyed by my new found sport, I signed up for my first 10K run. Now I guess I should regress a little and let you know that I grew up in Wyoming and that this was the early 1980’s when the running craze was just getting going. So, finding a 10K to run meant driving for 2 or 3 hours to Colorado, a much more hip state. This particular race was a trail run, not particularly scenic, just dry brush and pasture fences. Things were going pretty well, not much competition around me, when I looked around and noticed a group of runners in the distance, but parallel to me on the other side of a fence. Lightbulb! I had taken a wrong turn. Now I had to backtrack and get on the right side of the fence. The good news was that even with my wrong turn I wasn’t the last finisher. That was motivation enough for me to sign up for another race. And, motivation to shake my wimpy girl image…an ongoing challenge it turns out.

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