I just got back from a two-week ‘work’ trip that was vastly filled with love, kindness, and compassion. It was also filled with long days and contrast. If you have been following me for any length of time, you know that I am a big believer in what you focus on is what you create more of. I am a big believer in that we get to choose how to move through any situation that life offers us. I am also a believer in that contrasting people and/or experiences allow us deeper appreciation for when things are going smoothly. Because I have practiced living in a state of appreciation, my contrasting experiences don’t last as long as they used to, but they still for sure happen. One happened on my journey home.
My trip included planes, trains, busses, cars, and boats. I flew into Portland for a week, then bussed it to Seattle for nearly a week. While in Seattle, I was able to check off a bucket list experience by seeing Orcas in the wild!
Then it was time for the long journey home and it became longer than I had planned and/or imagined.
It started out in great fun as I took my first Amtrak ride! Not knowing the procedures of train travel, I told the ticket agent I was new to the experience and what did I need to do next. He sent me to the gate I needed. My ticket didn’t have an assigned seat, so I assumed it was get on board and find one. As I sat to wait for the train, another Amtrak employee came and asked to see my ticket. He saw that I didn’t have a seat and kindly said he would go get me one. He came back with an assigned seat and told me he would come and get me when it was time to board. He was incredibly kind, and I was so impressed with Amtrak’s customer service. Shortly after he walked away I noticed a sign close by that said the area I was sitting in was for people needing special assistance. I am indeed ‘special’. LOL
The train ride should have taken 3 ½ hours to Portland. I was smiling and enjoying a fun trip with beautiful scenery out my window. The conductor announced the stops and people got on and off. We had a couple small delays, but I knew we weren’t too far behind schedule. While on the train, I receive a text that my red-eye (midnight) flight has been cancelled and they’ve rescheduled me for Tuesday afternoon – contrast 1. Knowing there wasn’t anything I can do about a cancelled flight, I return to enjoying the view. Contrast 2… the missed stop. Somehow along the journey I missed the Portland stop!! I simply didn’t hear them call Portland. I looked at each station we stopped at, some were small, and a few were bigger. I didn’t notice the words Portland at any of them. I began to get nervous, pulled up my map on my phone and realized I was getting further AWAY from Portland. Not knowing what I was going to do about it, I took a couple of deep breaths and held back tears that were forming. I asked a staffer what to do, I also had a checked bag that was removed at Portland, and he recommended I get off in Salem as there was staff there. Off the train I go to meet with the staffer in Salem. As I told the staffer my plight, tears started streaming down my face. She was very kind and told me my luggage was safe in Portland, however, the Portland luggage claim closed at 10pm. It was now 8pm and Greyhound wouldn’t get me there in time, nor was there an option to rent a car. I called a Lyft for the 45-minute drive back to Portland. It wasn’t long on my drive to pick up my luggage that my energy shifted back to this being an adventure rather than a problem. I couldn’t control what had happened, but I could sure control how I walked through it.
At the airport, I quickly found out I couldn’t upgrade my ticket which limited my options on new flights out. There were hundreds of people looking to get on a flight due to weather. I was able to book a connecting flight out at 5:00am and arrived at O’Hare at 4pm. As I sat on the floor at the Portland airport overnight, I sat there in appreciation. I was appreciative that everyone I encountered at Amtrak was so kind. I appreciated the fact that the hundreds of stranded travelers were all remaining calm. I appreciated my family and friends who were texting me along the way to keep me company. And I appreciated knowing that my humor would kick in and I’d be laughing in a few days about missing my train stop and the 24+ hour journey home. I was also very grateful that due to my delayed travel, I met a woman going through a very sad time in her life and I was able to offer her some kindness, compassion, and love.
I share my travel adventure with you as a reminder that we aren’t always in control of what goes on around us or to us, but we still get to choose how to move through it. That flow and contrast can happen in the same day and as you focus on love, kindness, and compassion, even the contrasting experience begins to flow better.
Moving forward, I invite you to move through your contrast by:
Feeling your feels! I absolutely knew I would be okay and yet I was frustrated, tired, and uncertain on how I was getting home. I talked to myself during my fears and tears. I was okay with being scared. I initially questioned how I could be so happy about a fun train ride and three hours later being in tears that it wasn’t going the way I expected it to go. So, I reached for a better feeling thought.
Seeking out help. I have a couple of go-to-friends that I texted immediately to let them know what was going on. They are friends that share compassion for the feelings and help focus on the solutions rather than complaining about the problem. So, when you are going through a contrast, find supportive people who are able hold the space for the highest good of all involved coming out of the situation. They are empathetic to you AND will guide you to focus on solutions rather than the problem you are currently dealing with.
Appreciating the moment. It is so easy to appreciate life when things are going the way you want them to go. It’s when things aren’t going as planned that diving deeper into appreciation is integral to living love. Even in your darkest of nights you can find things to appreciate. Sometimes it requires you to go back to the basics that we often take for granted – breathing on your own, a warm bed to sleep in at night, etc.
Mostly, my wish for you is to live LOVE even when you don’t feel like you are experiencing love. LOVE is always there whether you are in celebration or sorrow, it just seems more apparent during the good times. LOVE is always there for you, sometimes it just takes a hard look to see it.
Until next time, enJOY your journey…missed stops and all.
I am in the right place, at the right time, for the right reasons, with the right people.
Words to LOVE BY:
“Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer.” – Denis Waitley
Sounds for the Soul: