I would love to share with you what I did to make my recent road trip with my family fun for myself and how our family survived driving over 2500 miles through Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and back to our ‘home sweet home’ in Southern California.
“Life incidents can have a significant effect on your states of mind. If something powerful happens then your belief in yourself is increased.” ~Ken Ward, from Mind Mastery
Let’s recap: We traveled through Six States in Seven Days and I experienced Nine States of Mind in the Process.
I set out to share my experience going on a road trip with my husband and three teen-aged boys and explain why it was so worthwhile that I would highly recommend that you do it at least once in your life. I ended up learning a lot about myself, my abilities, the unique family dynamics that I have taken for granted and how much it all means to me.
I wanted to parallel the “Six States” we visited with different “States of Mind” that one goes through when a) going on a road trip and b) making big life decisions like choosing a college and experiencing empty nest syndrome. I did some research on the differences of feelings versus states of mind. I had the idea when I realized that I had to be in a certain mindset to even tackle the concept of going on a road trip at this point in my life. Anyone who has been on a road trip knows what I mean.
There is a level of adventurism that is different when transporting oneself over long roads to get to a destination with many points in between over taking other modes of transportation.
There is a spirit of freedom that is involved. A sense of anything being possible ensues. I was in a special state of mind, going through cycles of many thoughts and feelings on my road trip. I have held off completing the “saga” and writing the “end” of the trip for many reasons.
Now it’s time to look at the effect the many states of mind had on me and my family:
The States of Mind
I felt like I was in a State of Dilemma when I was making the plans to go on a family vacation with little funds and very little interest from the family in terms of what to do, where to go, and how and if we should take this trip at all. Was it the right decision? After all, our son would most likely choose a California school, but he had been accepted to three out-of-state schools. Shouldn’t he at least visit them before he decided? What to do? What to do?
Even though making the trek and going on the long trip was a challenge it had many benefits. We mostly looked forward to getting to visit our beloved relatives. It is the one thing that we all wanted to do. We all enjoy visiting New Mexico and had wanted to go there for a while. We love everything about it, the hospitality of our relatives, the fun places to go, things to see, and especially the food we love to eat.
That is what made the trip worthwhile for the kids. I wish we could have spent more time there. The dilemma was in the work it took to make it all happen and the state of mind was a tough one because I added the stress of trying so hard to make everyone happy in the process.
Along the way, I observed some animals and birds that I considered to be omens. You might think that is strange, but it is just what came to mind when I saw these things and it added to the drama of the experience for me. When we were getting on the freeway for the first leg of the trip, I saw a black crow perched on a post on the corner at the on-ramp. I thought it might be a bad omen and I prayed that we would have a good trip. Later on after we had our first night in Nevada staying overnight with my mother in law, I felt better after seeing a doe running along the side of the road and that brought me a sense of peace. On the way to New Mexico driving through Colorado Springs, I saw a band of wild horses running through a range. It was quite a site to see and it was exhilarating. It was another omen, it was a good feeling that something was happening.
I felt like the true journey was just beginning and that I was on special mission. Through it all I felt like there was more I could be doing. Until we got to New Mexico and we were on the third college tour. Knowing that after this we could relax and just hang out with our family and then head home, we went to the gift shop.
Quote seen on a book in the New Mexico gift shop – after trying so hard to make everyone happy. . .
“If you want to be happy, just be.” ~Tolstoy
Is it really that easy? Can I just be? Be happy? Be content? Be satisfied.
Road Blocks and Obstacles
When things didn’t go well at the very start of the trip I felt like I was in a State of Despair. I was trying so hard to get things to work out as planned and I had to push myself hard in many directions. I needed to be assertive and calming at the same time. I was under an incredible amount of pressure. We had to be in Colorado at a certain time. All the college tours were scheduled appointments. We didn’t have any flexibility other than missing the tours and just seeing the colleges on our own.
It was interesting that the problems I had with Hertz were a matter of customer service and the failure of the company to meet my expectations. I had set high expectations for myself in planning and executing this trip. Hertz has a goal of providing a quality customer experience. My goal became to provide the best experience possible for my family. One thing I learned in this process was to expect the un-expected. I also learned that even when there is no flexibility, I am still capable of bending.
My Measure of Being a Good Mom Depends on the Level of Joy Experienced by My Least Happy Child
Being in a state of despair led me to being in a State of Confusion since I was having to make so many decisions that affected everyone and I was dealing with different attitudes and hormones while trying to make everyone comfortable and happy. I learned a lot about being prepared and having faith, in myself, in my family in our own abilities, as well in that which we cannot control.
When things went according to plan, I was in the State of Relief. This came about after being helped and receiving tender loving care and nurture from my mother in law on that first night.
I Can Always Depend on a Little Help From My Family
I relished in the comfort of knowing what to expect from our extended family. I loved being able to rely on certain things. I depended on it. I knew this trip was about visiting colleges – B-o-r-i-n-g!! We didn’t have the money or time to go to an amusement park, zip lining, fishing or river rafting while on the trip. I needed to make the connections with family be the attraction. They did not disappoint. I was relieved and enjoyed being in that state for a while. I think I am still there. Our family is awesome on both sides! The kids feel love and support from everyone. We are truly blessed. It’s never perfect, nothing ever is going to be perfect. But we appreciate who we are and where we came from.
This is How I Made the Trip FUN for Me!
One of the highlights of the trip for me was getting my nails done by my cousin, Shauni. She made a special appointment for me and while I was getting my nails done, her husband cut my son’s hair. They have a great shop, it is a nail salon and barber shop called Cool Claws and Hot Heads. Shauni has always made me feel welcomed and special when I am in town and it wouldn’t be a trip to New Mexico without a trip to see her. What I love most about getting my nails done by Shauni, is the chance to have one on one time to talk and catch up girl to girl on what is happening with the family. She is a busy working mom like me and we are doing many of the same things. We love to dish!
While we were there the whole family came over to my cousin’s house for dinner. That was about 30 people! I told the boys everyone would come to see them. It is an amazing show of support and solidarity when four generations of family show up to see you whenever you are in town. I used to think this kind of thing happened when my parents were visiting to show respect for them. They were very hospitable and when people came to California to visit they would stay at our home. I thought they planned these big dinners for special occasions. I expected maybe a handful of the close relatives to come, but I was overjoyed that everyone who lived in town and could make it came over to greet us. It is a big, affectionate, loving and supportive family. The love is deep and strong. We have been through a lot, we have lost a lot, and we celebrate with intention and gratitude when we are together.
Family support came in handy especially for our son in making his decision on what college to choose. Everyone in New Mexico wanted him to choose UNM. My cousin in Colorado, was encouraging about CUB. But they all gave him such positive and nurturing advice. They had his back and are proud of him no matter what he chose. It has to be his decision. Having family support is invaluable. I needed to be with them. I needed a big dose of that strength and fortitude. I think it will last for a while.
What Did I Learn From All of This?
The best take-away? I wasn’t in this alone – I had lots of help, mother-in-law, husband, kids, cousins, friends. I had the positive reinforcement that I needed. The purpose of the trip was to visit colleges and decide on which one our son would attend. I tried to be positive and guide him in making an informed decision without making the decision for him. It was completely successful on that front. I give the other boys credit for hanging in there purely for the ride. I think they got a lot out of it that will come into play later in their lives. For now, they showed their support for their brother. They showed respect to me and their Dad. The enjoyed the time spent with family. I still have the feeling that I owe them one. . . but I can always fall back on the guilt trip of labor pains and dirty diapers!
One of my regular states of being is the State of Awe and Wonderment. I am blessed every day that I can see the beauty in things. This was particularly evident the day we drove through the many different terrains and mountains. It was an amazing day. The sky was so clear and I will never forget how perfectly beautiful everything was and how impressed I was with the way the scenery changed so rapidly. It was like fast forwarding through my life. I felt like I was fast forwarding through life the past few years. Everything has changed so much since my parents passed on and my children have grown. I just needed to catch up. I was finally able to catch up on this trip.
Seeing the beauty in everything, I learned to appreciate nature and the feeling of being a small yet integral part of something so big. This became evident in my role in my family as well.
Some parts of the trip were heart-stopping and crazy and I found myself in a State of Excitement and Anticipation! This was the case during our Wild Rocky Mountain drive on the way to Fort Collins, Colorado. It was a quick ride much like the roller coaster of life with its ups and downs twists and turns, exhilaration, excitement, and even its let downs and disappointments. Through it all we discovered the thrill of adventure and teachable moments. I practiced patience and trust. My husband was my hero and I was reminded why I love him so much.
At the pinnacle of the ride, at the top of the Rocky Mountains, I was immersed in a State of Fear. We were driving through a snowstorm in Vail, Colorado and even though I was terrified on the inside, I remained calm on the outside. Our traverse through a difficult situation gave me the feeling of being able to conquer anything. I gained self-confidence and regained composure and respect for my partner in life and our kids. Our family as a unit stuck through it with grace. Getting over the mountain, seeing what is on the other side, the roller coaster ride, the snowstorm, are all metaphors for what is about to happen with our oldest son graduating from high school and going away to college, as well as our families adjustment to growing up and moving on in life.
Along the way I discovered a new mantra,
“I will wake to a new day.” I will. It is a new day.
After going through all of this I found myself in the perfect State of Enchantment and Bliss. I was pretty proud of myself for pulling it off, being able to spend the time with the family and eating our favorite foods, and for making the most of the situation. The good feelings started when we were in Boulder, Colorado. After settling in to a wonderful hotel and relaxing a bit, my hubby and I went on a tour of the Celestial Seasonings plant. It was the perfect place to unwind and re-energize!
Kicking back and hanging out in Boulder on Easter Sunday with the boys was another highlight of the trip. I enjoyed walking around town looking at shops, and taking in the ambiance of the little college town. The best part was going into the LUSH store and getting hand and wrist massages and learning about natural skin care products. Luckily the pretty college student was more than happy to help me and the three boys! I never get such great service when I go shopping alone. Hmmm, wonder why?
I think I managed to share with my family the best part of road trips. It’s the fun spontaneous side trips that are meant to be enjoyed just for the sake of having fun. Driving into New Mexico, I took some awesome pictures of the beautiful evening sky and sunset. For me, I had reached my destination at that point. That was a sight that I had on my list. There is nothing quite like it.
This leads me to where I ended up as a result of this undertaking, I am happy to finally reach this destination in the State of Contentment and Accomplishment. It wasn’t enough that our son was accepted at a college and was making the decision to accept an offer with support from loved ones, but it was in appreciating each other in the process and learning how much we love our home and its stable environment. We realized that appreciating the best qualities of each member of the family, recognizing that we take each other for granted at times, blessing the fact that we need each other and complement each other, loving the little things that makes us each unique and valuable is what we gained by taking this journey together. It took going away to realize that. To emphasize and instill that in the minds and hearts of my children meant the world to me.
It was worth every dime it took and every mile we drove to achieve that level of knowing and to settle in to that state of being.
I have always said if you can dream it, you can be it. If you can imagine it, you can make it happen. If you can see yourself in a place, you can go there. This trip was difficult because we went to different places to “try them on for size.” We went for the purpose of trying things out to see how it feels to be there, to see if our son could make a go of it there. Trying new things was the name of the game. We were breaking out of our comfort zone. We were all imagining ourselves in a new place. We were trying on a new learning environment and living space for our son and imagining a new family dynamic at home. It became a new rung on the ladder of development for me as a mother and a wife, for us as a family. I learned through this entire process that it is time to change my state of mind. Now I know how to do it. And I know what state of mind I have transitioned to. I am not afraid anymore. I am confident. I know I am not alone in this. I am compelled and excited about what is ahead. I can do it. I am open to new experiences. I have grown up a bit. It might not happen without bouts of dilemma and despair, fears and woe, wonder and awe, excitement and anticipation. It will be with a sense of relief, love, nurture, accomplishment, confidence, grace and contentment.
This is who I am. This is how I operate. It is all part of the journey. It is all part of a process.
It is my time to shine.
More on the States of Mind
If you want to learn more about ‘The very important difference between a feeling and a state of mind,” Here’s a great excerpt from a blog called Positive Juice:
“Feelings are temporary. They change and morph both gradually and quickly, often without us even realizing it. States of mind, however, are much longer-lasting and pervasive. You could consider a state of mind to be another kind of feeling, but there is a very important difference. Some examples of feelings versus states of mind:
* Joy versus contentment. * Anger versus resentment. * Sadness versus depression. * Love versus being in love. * Envy versus jealousy. * Delight versus appreciation. * Embarrassment versus shame. * Sureness versus faith. * Annoyance versus exasperation. * Urgency versus desperation. * Acceptance versus resignation. * Disgust versus hatred. * Relaxation versus peace of mind. * Hope versus optimism. * Desire versus longing. * Fear versus paranoia.
Feelings are part of life, both good and bad. They happen whether you like it or not, and you have very little control over them. States of mind are very different. They shape your longer-term outlook about what you are [and aren’t] supposed to do. The secret is that, while you don’t have much control over the feelings you have, you do have the ability to shape your state of mind.
The negative feelings will happen; in fact, as feelings, they are beneficial to experience–because they pass and you often learn something from them or gain a sense of perspective. But when negative feelings like anger and sadness turn into states of mind like resentment and depression, you’re in trouble.
A lot of the time, you can see when the transition from feeling to state of mind happens. If you become angry, for example, and then for days afterward, you anger is provoked much more easily than usual… that anger is becoming a lingering state of mind–a generalized resentment. Folks who suffer from this resentful state of mind [and there are quite a few out there] are the kind of people who act as though they want everybody else to have as bad a day as they are having. Their state of mind heavily influences all their interactions, and they respond to others from a place of resentment.
Some states of mind can be very good for a while. Appreciation, for example, is a very positive state of mind to have. Contentment is equally positive. Remember, these states of mind influence what you project to others… so a good state of mind is an awesome way to tap into positive energy. But even positive states of mind are good to change once in a while. You don’t want to project appreciation when someone has just had something horrible happen to them, for example.
The more you get to know yourself, the more you’ll know when it’s time to change your state of mind. So…the $50 zillion question is, how do you change your state of mind?”
If you would like to read more about Miz Meliz, serendipity and being an Adventuress,
I invite you to read The Spirit of Adventure!