A couple of weeks ago we went on a vacation to Colorado. We had been looking forward to it for weeks—making plans for visits to Rocky Mountain National Park and Colorado Springs, as well as spending time with dear friends in Denver.
But when the time actually came to explore the Springs, there was a torrential downpour, forcing us to take shelter in our vehicle. Then the next morning we had to scrap our plans for the national park due to our friends’ kids getting sick. While we quickly came up with a back up plan to visit nearby mountain sites, the on-and-off rain showers made our sightseeing less than ideal.
Thwarted plans are usually something very difficult for me to deal with. Usually I think I have everything perfectly scheduled to maximize fun. Any change in plan means the day is ruined. On my worst days, this means a grumpy Kara, with my husband usually receiving the brunt of my frustration.
As I’ve written before, I’m married to an un-planner. He believes there’s no use dwelling on things we can’t do, so we should enjoying the things we can do. For the last couple of years, I’ve tried to follow Adam’s advice lead, not focusing on the things I can’t change or control, and concentrating instead on the things I can control—namely, my response.
Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes not so much. But our trip to Colorado was one of the more successful times. Although things didn’t go according to plan, I remained optimistic and realized that even though we didn’t get to hike through Garden of the Gods or go high up into the mountains to see elk or bears, we had a great time being together. I focused on the people around me, particularly my children and husband and the friends we traveled to see.
More than just ensuring we had a peaceful trip, the experience and how I responded to it made me recognize something profound. I realized that while it’s good for me to want to create magnificent memories with my husband and kids, my words and actions have a much greater impact and will be remembered far longer than any fun itinerary I have planned. When I choose to love, even when I’m not happy that circumstances have changed, I’ve found that the love between us grows. We find peace and joy in just being together versus ticking the boxes off my plan.
Whether or not we have memories of seeing the grandest sites or doing some of the most adventurous things, the memory I most want my husband (and kids) to have is that I love them. I may not be in control of the weather or untimely sickness, but I am in control of how I respond.