124 of 1000 – Travel

Me, “Travel, however you can, wherever you can.Tip 18.b

I’ve chosen this as my final tip. As we approach Mother’s Day I realize it is time for me to wrap things up and begin my next project – 100 Dads 1000 Tips 1 Million Reasons.

There was no great strategy in choosing this tip, as is the case with all of my selections. I reviewed the list and selected a tip that resonated with me. Travel happened to be the tip on this day.

Having recently been introduced to the world of travel, one thing I know for sure, life can be much more than we believe. The older I get the more I realize how big the world really is. My view, my “fish bowl,” still provides little insight as to what is possible or available in this life. 

As a child I was not expose to travel, or possibilities. A twenty-minute drive was a big day, an entire day! Even in terms of food, restaurants, nothing was adventurous. We were a meet-and-potato family.

Our excursions consisted of a Sunday drive where conversation was generally forbidden, and Dad was sure to veer off the road. Travel was not something we did, discussed or imagined. Those around us didn’t travel. I really never heard of it.

As a parent, I was not drawn to travel, and did not have resources to do so. I did want Michael to be aware of the world and the opportunities it held.

I had a global map in his bedroom and one framed in the living room. Our end tables had maps, and I decorated with international pieces and exotic animals where possible. I wanted Michael to aspire to travel, even though I was unable to facilitate it.

When raising Michael, we didn’t have much disposable income. We did do mini excursions often. We travelled in our own way.

We did hikes, visited beaches, theatre and museums.  We saw Shakespeare in the park, registered for fun summer camps and participated in winter sports. Adventures in bug collection, butterfly chasing, and tree climbing were fun and memorable. Michael’s Grandmother even buried treasures with him. He had a good childhood despite my restricted thinking.

Now with the internet, the world of travel can be even more visible. Options, goals and dreams can be further explored and defined. 

Since Michael’s injury, because of Michael’s injury, travel has risen in priority.

On the day of Michael’s spinal cord injury, he looked up at us and said, “If there is anything you ever wanted to do you should do it. This could happen to anyone.” It was that sentence, that moment, and those words that caused us to consider – what did we want to do?

After Michael’s recovery, we dove deeper into that question. We found travel to be the answer. Big Mike and I wanted to see more of the world. We wanted to prioritize adventure. We wanted to make more time for fun, exploration and fine food. We began to live deliberately.

I hope others can find their sense of adventure without the help of a spinal cord injury, or serious incident. I hope the exploring the wide-world is on everyone’s radar, topping the list of must-dos.

I for one appreciate every opportunity, fine meal and authentic cuisine I experience. I cherish each sunrise, sunset and unique flower I can find. I love to travel and to imagine.

I wish everyone, young and old, happy travels wherever and whenever your resources, or imagination, will take you.

106 of 1000 – Christmas

Surprisingly, not many Moms made comments regarding Christmas specifically. I reviewed my tips and found a message from one of my all-time favorite people, my friend Joyce.

Joyce, “Christmas should not mean endless gifts that in the end become overwhelming to children. A couple of good quality and “asked for” gifts is better than endless things that won’t be used.Tip 4

Christmas can be a controversial topic, peppered with intense emotions on both ends of the spectrum. With mixed feelings on the matter, I’d like to share my parenting practice regarding the season, which is much different than my personal feelings – as was the case with most of my practices.

Christmas was not the best time of year for me as a child; however, I did not want that to be Michael’s experience. I believe my feelings should not be the backdrop, or the foundation, in Michael’s childhood. I wanted Christmas to be great for him, magical, free from fear, sadness, and alcohol. I delivered.

Behind the scenes, I was bitter, cynical, critical and sad. I was visited far too often by Christmas past, but refused to let that spill over into Christmas present or Christmas future. I now know this to be compartmentalizing.

My feelings and history were put in a box and the hope for Christmas present and Christmas future took center stage. Christmas was about Michael, not my unresolved issues.

No different than any other day, Michael came first.

During the Season I was in “Meryl-Streep-Mother-Mode.”I did it all. I did it well. I did it annually. I did what was right for Michael.

Christmas was happy, joyous, celebrated and child-focused. We made beautiful memories. It was wonderful and precious. I did not shit on the Season.

As for the presents – Michael being an only child we worked at not spoiling him. He did not want for anything, but we assigned meaning and practicality wherever we could. We did not provide too many meaningless gifts.

One year we purchased an in-school “Healthy Lunch Card” as a gift. This “Healthy Lunch Card” had 10 lunches to be punched after each purchase. This was a gift he was very excited to get – still, one of my favorite ideas. (Big Mike thought it was mean, he was prone to be far more indulgent, likely an inherited trait from Mama D.)

Other gifts would include things like winter clothing, ski passes, youth camps, books and theatre productions. Where we could, we tried to gift experiences.

Of course, Michael did get toys and useless, impractical things. Surprisingly, maybe not surprisingly, those items were often not as fun or as meaningful.

As for giving – since the very early years, Michael independently bought presents for others on his own behalf. With twenty dollars and a visit to the Dollar Store, he could cover it all. I recall each year being so impressed with his thoughtfulness and his ability to stretch the money (don’t know where he got that).

As a teen Michael volunteered in our community Christmas drive, and as an adult he continues to give in meaningful ways. He is generous and loving when sharing with those he loves.

I am forever grateful to have found the therapy and self awareness that enabled me to “compartmentalize” my feelings on Christmas. I am proud Michael will not have haunted ghosts of Christmas past interfering with his happiness and celebration of the Season.

In the end I guess I believe, Christmas is not so much about your feelings but about your actions and intention (unless you have fabulous feelings and beautiful memories). One thing I know for sure, even if you feel broken, you can deliver magical, memorable Christmas’ so long as you put the children first.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!