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March 2006
Success Harmony Newsletter


As part of tax season, I was sorting through all sorts of receipts to sort out business expenses from other expenses. This task isn't usually my favorite thing to do, but when I came across the receipts from a week-long trip across the United States with my Mom, I slowed down and actually took a look at each receipt. Each piece of paper reminded me of a moment along that trip and I realized that trip passed by much faster than it should have.

My Mom has always wanted to take a cross-country trip through the United States. A few months ago, we had the chance to take a cross country trip from New York to California. Seven days on the road, almost 3000 miles. The weather was great. We planned out the trip to cover around 500 miles each day, less if we were really interested in exploring some spot along the way. Each day, we planned two or three stops within 20 miles of the major highways, and that gave us a chance to get a feel for each state we passed through. We got up early and went to bed early. My cat went along for the trip and passed the long hours in the car in deep sleep, curled up on the lap of whoever was driving at the time. We saw gorgeous sunrises, beautiful sunsets, fall foliage in the Blue Ridge Mountains to die for. We visited Abraham Lincoln's birthplace, petroglyph ruins in Arizona, Einstein's stomping grounds in Princeton. On a plaque outside one of the cafes along the famous Beale Street in Memphis, there was the best life philosophy I've seen to date: "Eat. Drink. Boogie. Repeat."

There was only one problem with this trip. It appears that I was there, but wasn't really there. My body came along for the trip, but my mind was elsewhere. My husband and I were just in the midst of closing on a large, very complicated transaction. The closing was to take place less than two weeks after the trip and there were many details left to take care of, negotiations to finish. As a result, I spent many of the otherwise idyllic hours on the road yapping away on the cell phone or brainstorming on a strategy to ensure that the deal wouldn't go off the rails. I don't know that I could have really spent less time without jeopardizing the success of that transaction, but I probably had the opportunity to set some of the worrying aside more often and just enjoyed this opportunity to see places I might not ever see again, and to spend time with my Mom. How many more opportunities do we get as adults to take one uninterrupted week of time with our parents? Oh, sure, wherever there is family, there is dysfunction. Mom and I certainly had our fair share of quiet times in the car, the kind when the driver resolutely stares at the road and the passenger finds fascination with a speck of dirt on the passenger window that seems to keep her occupied for hours on end. But even so, family is family. Friends can sometimes be replaced, but family cannot. We take them for granted while they are around, because there always seems to be another day to catch up on what we miss out with them today.

In this hectic pace of a life, I sometimes find that there are more questions than answers. I may feel that there is just too little time in the day to accomplish what needs to be done, and too often it's the time with friends and family that seems to be the first thing to get set aside. They love us so they will understand, it's easy to think. But will they? Or will they eventually come to assume that they should move on to others who actually give them the importance they deserve? What is then left at the end? A healthy bank account but nobody to share it with? A vacation in a great spot but while we have little energy to enjoy it? Kids who spend more time with their video games than with their parents? No wonder so many kids and adults are on mood-altering drugs, prescription or illicit. Just trying to escape, aren't they? It doesn't seem quite right.

There is this cliché that everyone knows. "Stop and smell the roses." Maybe it is just as simple as that. Except that I would add just one more thing to the saying: "Stop, smell the roses, and notice the look and smell for just long enough to enjoy it." It isn't enough for the body to go through the motions of actions that are supposed to bring us balance and joy. If our minds are still elsewhere, not even the best massage in the world will ground us, not even the best conversation will lead us away from the chatter of our to-do list in our mind. I've heard it said that, when we die, our inbox won't be empty. So maybe we don't need to be superheroes, trying to accomplish just one more thing at the expense of a healthy meal or a time to connect with those we care about. Whether it is just a short stop to scratch the cat behind the ears, a short "I love you call" to someone who is overdue to hear it, or the time to admire the colorful spring tulips blooming in the neighbors garden, it may be just those moments that slow us down just enough to remember why we do all the other things. With each moment enjoyed, there comes the yearning for more moments like that. The more moments there are, the closer they join together, the greater is the feeling of gratitude for simply being alive.

On the next cross-country trip, I might just keep the cell phone off. Look, doesn't the cloud up there look like a unicorn?

Sunshine and smiles,


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"Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot."
Charlie Chaplin

"In the presence of greatness, pettiness disappears. In the absence of a great dream, pettiness prevails."
Robert Fritz

"A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes."
Hugh Downs






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© 2002 Pavla Michaela Polcarova, CPR Coaching Services, Vancouver, BC, Canada