On July 2nd we packed our bags, loaded the van, and took off for Colorado. We were embarking on a journey, the ultimate in living the integrated life.
By combining our summer vacation with a series of meetings and conference, I was able to take what otherwise would have been three separate trips and combine them into one mammoth adventure.
This is the story of how I survived.
I turned stress into an adventure.
I hate flying with my family. They don’t do anything wrong. It’s just that taking 8 people—and their load of goodies—through security is not the easiest thing in the world.
So I decided that in addition to saving $10K in airline tickets and rental car fees, it was in our best interest to eliminate the one thing that typically starts our vacations off on the wrong foot (aka, Dad losing it).
We decided to drive.
Driving, rather than high stress, would be a challenge. It was something to accomplish. It was a road trip adventure.
I turned daunting into determination.
I don’t have to tell anyone that the prospect of 15 days on the road with Teresa and our 6 kids was daunting. I know this because I heard it at least 27 times before I left. It was easy to get overwhelmed just thinking about taking the trip.
Instead of getting overwhelmed, before I left, I made up my mind that I would do everything within my power to make this an incredible experience for my kids. It would be time together, lessons learned, and fabulous memories.
By deciding to look at the experience as a wonderful opportunity rather than a daunting task, I was able to mentally set myself up for success.
I turned boredom into an investment in self.
A 25-hour drive isn’t necessarily considered the epitome of vacation for most people, so we planned a series of fun stops along the way.
The City Museum in St. Louis might have been the best, though the Colorado Rockies game on the 4th, followed by one of the best fireworks shows ever, turned out to be great. And, of course, the kids shared a couple of iPads to watch movies, listen to music, and all sorts of other things.
But that still left 25 hours of driving, so I decided to invest in refreshing my mind. I took the time to think, to listen to podcasts, and to “read” (audio books, of course). This was an invigorating experience, allowing me to do everything from going brain dead to getting things off my mind to intellectually challenging myself.
This may have been the most relaxing time of the trip.
I turned boiling emotions into a blog post.
Three-quarters of the way through our four-day road trip, we all started to become a little stir crazy and little things started getting under our skin. I needed to vent.
For about seven-and-a-half minutes I boiled and vented. This just made the problem worse.
Luckily, I found a way to redirect my frustration as a stumbled across the realization that our story would make for a great blog post. Just the act of methodically crafting the story in my head allowed me the objectivity and time I needed to decompress.
It’s funny how the trash from one part of your life can become a treasure for another, isn’t it?
I turned pain into a sacrifice.
Our first day in the Vail valley was filled with excitement as we headed off to the Alpine Slide. The entire day nearly came crashing down during our first trip down the mountain. I raced down the track, trying to catch my son, and leaned too hard into one of the corners. The slide tipped over and I slid 15 feet, bare skin scraping the sides of the half pipe and acting as my only brake.
Needless to say, I was a mess. My entire right side was torn to shreds: my arms and legs were pretty burned up.
I decided to gut it out. We had come too far and this was too much fun to let a little pain ruin our day. The kids and I continued to race back up and slide down for the rest of the day.
That night, I paid the price, coming down with a fever and feeling intense pain as my body attempted to heal. Over the course of the majority of the remainder of the trip, I was a bit crippled, but I found great joy in trying my best to still make the best I could out of the trip for the kids.
I turned frustration into laughter.
The first two hours of our trip home were a nightmare. We knew the trip would be difficult, because we were planning to accomplish it in half the time. We were up early and packed by 6:30 AM, and on the road by 6:40. I was so proud of the kids.
It was all downhill from there.
Within no time at all, sweet Catherine was carsick and pale green. One stop. Still sick and getting worse, we decided to stop at Starbucks to make good use of our second stop. With coffee in hand and everyone having had a pitstop, I was sure that we would now hit the road for a long stretch of time.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. A mere 20 minutes later, the only other adult in the car (ahem, Teresa) announced that she needed to hit the next rest stop. That detour was followed by a breakfast stop and another carsick breather.
In a two hour period of time, we traveled what seemed to be about three city blocks.
So I decided to laugh. I made jokes, funny faces, and just sat back and admired this uncanny ability to make light of a situation that normally would have driven me bonkers.
I don’t have a clue how I did it. In fact, regardless of how much I’ve tried I have never been able to accomplish this before. My only guess is that after two full weeks of making a great vacation out of a potentially daunting time, I had trained myself to cherish (and laugh about) the moments.
This is only half the story.
It took just as much discipline to check into life with my family as it did to check out of work. In a follow-up post I will share those lessons and how I found ways to truly integrate all aspects of this life through this vacation.