Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Higher Calling

A road trip with friends sounds pretty simple. Hey, "Want to do a shopping trip in a major city with little girls, together?" Well it didn't quite go like that but you get the point. Up tight me thought it would be a great idea to celebrate the birthday of a friend's daughter by joining them for an American Girl Adventure. Casual fun for 7 year old girls, right? Enter - a lesson in relationships and traveling.

I have 2 children that are easy going. Both are boys. So, by saying that I went on a AG adventure clearly I'm not talking about exploring the depths of Lego Land or Star Wars. I eagerly embraced a celebration in Chicago to help a beautiful 7 year old girl go through the rites of passage at American Girl. Little did I know I should have been earning my Mommy badge all along. Traveling with another family is A HIGHER CALLING. Women traveling together with 7 year old girls, CRAZY. Well, crazy when you are a type A submitting to someone else's itinerary and plans. (or lack thereof....) I had been operating on too little sleep to qualify for being in my right mind. In fact, I've failed right mind membership effective immediately following this trip.

So, here are the new rules that benefit from my lessons learned:

1. Thou shalt confirm all accommodations in advance of travel. Stand in the mirror and say, "Shame on you, shame on you. " When you fail to investigate where you are staying, you deserve whatever you get. If you are closer to 40 than 30, you are no longer capable of sleeping anywhere.

2. Thou shalt calculate the time for all segments of the trip, before making any decisions. There is no excuse for not examining a map, mapquest, and good sense before you get surprised that you are eating at 10:00 p.m. In this day of technology it was proof that I was completely out of order - both in organization and diet.

3. Speaking of eating, thou shalt pack snacks of nutritional nature, bottled water and emergency alternatives for any excursion. Way back in the day when I realized how often I would get caught off guard with extreme hunger when I was nursing - a friend scolded me for not being prepared. She would lose her mind if she know I was traveling 4 hrs. and then some with nada. (I instead purchased snacks at a gas station for the girls, to the tune of what should have purchased a carload at Sam's.)

4. Thou shalt exchange more than phone numbers to establish quality communication. Email has made us lazy about communication. Try this on for size:
A. What do you want to get out of this trip? (Share your goals)

B. What is your budget for the trip? (Are we on the same page)

C. What is included in our "day out?" (Who's handling which expenses for what part of the celebration - including taxi, tax and tips?)

D. How do you want to handle challenges or issues that arise? (Let's hope for the best and plan for the worst. I qualify my attitude is a possible worse case scenario.)

E. What is your definition of a celebration? (You have been around me in the past - How would you like to plan the day?)

F. Do you have any concerns about traveling with me? (Let's talk about them in advance.) (Give me your pet peeves.)

G. Does my desire for an itinerary or agenda bug you? (Danger Will Robinson, DANGER.)

5. In the event that we are traveling with multiple family members - please alert all guests to the elephant in the room. Maybe some families have the capacity to behave in front of guests - but, well - mine don't. I am quietly apologizing for friends I invited over with little regard to the unspoken issues.

6. Keepeth your mouth shuteth.
When you think "well I would" stop thinking immediately. Unless it is your activity and event, shut up. And then, if you can't roll with it, bow out gracefully.

7. Lower Your Expectations.
There once was a Saturday Nite Live skit that focused on dating options for the ugly, "Lowered Expectations." I remember thinking it was so crude. But, you should lower your expectations, have grace and operate in flexibility because that is a mandate in traveling. (God is not through with me yet.)

8. Travel Flush
I plan to blog about an interview with Veronica Webb, one of the first Black Supermodels. I was reflecting on something her husband told her when she went back to work - "The children have to realize that wealth requires sacrifice." My travel experience was filtered through a desire not to waste money. Largely because I did not have money to waste. If I had been flush some of my experiences would have been easier to withstand...and that my readers, is my personal issue. Duh, if you don't have the resources then , maybe you should delay your travel. Money breeds flexibility.

9. Beyonce say's let me upgrade you - but when you are working with children, my new theme is "Let me right size you." We teach children what to expect and I am learning to help lower expectations. Do something small in grand form vs. something large on a wing and a prayer.

10. Speaking of prayer, pray more.
If you know you are high strung and need a lot of grace, pray that God gives you lots of grace to extend to others. When you travel, pray a whole bunch. In fact, stop reading and pray for all of your friends right now. Surely, that's what I should have done. More prayer shall breed more growth into the persons we aspire to be.

I'm not going to let the devil win. One might think I would give up on trips and traveling. I will travel again, with children and with friends. If iron sharpens iron then....I'll sharpen up for my next adventure.

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