family

GUILT TRIPS: How to ROCK a Totally AWESOME Summer

“Heads!” 

“Okay, that means go right Dad.”

“Who gets to flip it next? Hand it to your brother.”

“Heads! Right again.”

Our family was on a Guilt Trip. We drove to the bottom of our gravel road and flipped the coveted coin to determine our route. Heads - right. Tails - left. On this particular adventure we ended up at a community park twenty five minutes from home and happily spent time with its modest offerings. With childhood abandon our feet pushed the autumn air as we swung into the sunlit treetops. We numbed our tongues with frozen chocolate goodness, we felt the pulse of concern in our chests at the sound of a menacing siren bellowing through the little town, and we were chased home by an ominous black sky and churning wind. 

The kids agreed, this was our best adventure ever. 

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The idea of a Guilt Trip was inspired by an unplanned ten day summer vacation my grandparents took with friends in the mid 1950’s. Spontaneity was their companion, and with eager anticipation they tossed the coin that would determine the course of their holiday. The coin announced a northern route, and their 1950 Dodge began crawling up the map from the Wasatch Front. As they approached the outskirts of Brigham City, Grandma suggested a stop at Maddox for a much-talked-about salad. The decision to pause their drive was unanimous, and the food was delectable. 

After stretching their legs and filling their bellies, they meandered through beautiful Cache Valley, crossed the Idaho border, and entered the relaxed and peaceful city of Preston. They were met with irresistible signs that enticed them to come together with the locals for a small town celebration and rodeo. The foursome joined in the festivities and stayed the night. And then they stayed another. 

They leisurely continued westward and stayed in a couple other spots in Idaho, but then Grandma’s friend suggested going to Oregon to see a relative of his. Grandad had a brother living in Seattle as well, and from that point on, they had an agenda. Their once serendipitous road trip turned into an ordinary visit to relatives. Freedom was exchanged for a timeline, and the magic that had accompanied them at the trip’s beginning slipped through the open windows of the automobile. 

How can such spontaneous outings be so attractive? Maybe it doesn’t come naturally to most of us. I saw myself in my grandparents’ story, but it wasn’t in the exciting, adventurous part of it. Perhaps we have all frantically rushed to and from our day trip destinations, as well as our week long ones. Maybe we have grabbed food from the drive-thru while the wheels were still rolling, taken only one minute bathroom breaks as the gas tank filled, and we’ve raced the ever ticking clock as though the Interstate might disappear if we blinked too long.   

I believe we can enjoy a more passionate and fulfilled life.

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I’ve learned a thing or two from my kids. My daughter and son-in-law naturally found pleasure in their journeys from the beginning. They set out on their honeymoon with an intention to live in the present moment. Instead of hurrying to their destination, they stopped at scenic outlooks, historic buildings, and even an aquarium. They happened upon a charming vacation rental in Cascade Locks and stayed there a night. They walked across the “Bridge of the Gods” from Oregon into Washington, attended a local carnival with an antique wooden carousel, ate blackberries, and visited Shoshone Falls. Each impetuous stop nurtured cherished memories of their new life together.

My heart slows down to a nice peaceful beat and the corners of my mouth turn up when I imagine a trip like this. It invites both me and those around me to be totally present. To beat with the same heart of anticipation and look forward with eyes shining full of curiosity and excitement. It enhances our ability to connect with each other and to strengthen our feelings of belonging. It’s a good place to be!

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Why do we call it a Guilt Trip? Well, in all honesty I have felt some guilt over the years for a lack of enthusiasm and missed opportunities. And do we really have to schedule our Guilt Trips, you ask? I wish I could say no, but it wouldn’t be true. But I choose to be gentle with myself, because when I make a plan to be spontaneous, I still get the results I want. Embracing the unexpected generously feeds our souls and nurtures our most treasured relationships. In this warm and beautiful world and with boundless opportunities, I will let go of the senseless guilt, and instead choose a Guilt Trip. 

Seriously Goofy: Did I REALLY Say That?

DISCLAIMER: I doubt you will learn anything from this post . . . but it just might make you smile.

Have you ever recognized something you’d never noticed before, and suddenly you see occurrences of it everywhere? 

I blame my husband. Completely. A number of years ago he dragged me to a handgun training, almost kicking and screaming. It ended up being a surprisingly good experience. When we got home and people asked us about the trip, we both individually, and with gusto, told them that we had “a BLAST!” 

Not “a great time.” Not “so much fun.” Not “an exciting trip.” No no. “A BLAST!” It just slipped out of our mouths. And then we felt a little stupid — as if the whole thing had been premeditated. Because, of course, the sound of guns makes a blast. 

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Once my husband pointed this out to me, he ruined my life. I notice it everywhere, and when I do, I inevitably start laughing uncontrollably. And people look at me. Like I’m stupid. Until they finally catch on and give a courtesy laugh.  

Let me share a couple of them with you. 

While driving past the snow-covered goat pen and seeing our goat out of place, I asked, “What is that goat even doing?” One of the kids piped up, “Oh. It’s just chillin’.”

Really?

On another occasion my daughter told me that she had looked all over the thrift shop for a blender and couldn’t find one. Then she proceeded to explain that she definitely could have missed it had there been one, because everything just kind of blended in. 

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You think those are bad? Just keep reading. They get worse. 

My husband and I were driving in some pretty bad sleet to meet some good friends for lunch. The more severe the weather became, the more we questioned our sanity. Finally my husband said, “I wonder if we should ask for a rain check.”

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Now. I realize that the expression “rain check” came about from getting future admittance to a baseball game that had inclement weather — but it’s seldom used that way anymore. Just sayin’.

So why do these ridiculous things come out of our mouths? Does our brain have a file that contains related words? Does our subconscious work overtime to make us funny? Is this something we can stop? Should it be stopped? 

Here’s another. And I’m not trying to be irreverent . . . this really happened. One of my boys read about a really strange situation in the news that had ended in someone’s death. We were all a little incredulous and thought he was teasing. We said so, and he said, “No. I’m dead serious.” 

See what I mean? It just spills out. We say these things all the time . . . and it usually goes unnoticed. Maybe we’re a lot wittier that we thought we were. 

One of my married daughters reported this next one. Her younger sister went to work with her at the thrift shop one morning. She was laughing so hard that she had to call home and tell me her “funny.” Apparently the two of them were discussing educational and career opportunities for the future. She has planned to become a yoga instructor for a couple of years. So when she told my younger daughter that she was considering getting a Montessori teaching certificate, she expressed her confusion. “I thought you were going to become a yoga instructor.” My married daughter explained, “You have to understand . . . being a full-time yoga instructor is a bit of a stretch.

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Wasn’t that great? Just watch. When you start noticing these “serious goofs”, you’ll find that some of them will tickle your funny bone enough to make a phone call of your own to share it with someone you love.

This final one is just as silly as the others. My wonderful husband, son, and son-in-law worked really hard last summer to re-tile the floor in the front room and kitchen. The project was finally completed while I was gone for a few hours, and I was delighted with the result. I walked in and said, “Oh my word! I am absolutely floored with the way this has turned out.”

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Perhaps we’ll never know why we say these things. Maybe it’s just me. You may never appreciate the silly nuances of these odd little phrases, and that’s okay. But if it’s contagious, and my writing has brought you to a new awareness, you just may be able to enjoy this sickening use of the English language.