positive attitude, flexibility, personal growth

Life Is What You Make It

Life Is What You Make It

I grew up about thirty miles from Garrison Keillor’s mythical town of Lake Wobegon, Minnesota. It is therefore quite easy for me to identify with the stories he tells about growing up in the area. His mother had a saying, “Life is what you make it, so make the best of it.” It is sound advice for anyone who wants to optimize health.

One of the keys to “making the best of life” is flexibility. It has been my experience that life rarely progresses exactly as planned. The road upon which we travel through life is not always straight or smooth, but is characterized by hairpin turns, ups and downs over mountains and through valleys, with unexpected potholes thrown in along the way. The key to success in life lies not only in making sound plans, but in having the capacity to make adjustments and move forward when those plans go awry.

This lesson was driven home to me once again last week. Rosalie and I had made plans to take two of our granddaughters to Hot Springs, Arkansas over their spring break. An RV park had been selected and a list of fun activities had been created. Everyone was looking forward to the trip with great anticipation.

Our departure was delayed when a corroded and leaky water line was discovered. Nevertheless, we made it to Fort Smith Saturday evening where the girls had a great time on the park’s playground.

Sunday began uneventfully. I felt that it would be prudent to top off the gas tank, since I expected prices to be higher away from the Interstate. The pit stop completed, we set out for what we expected to be a two hour drive to Hot Springs. Unfortunately, shortly after getting back on the highway the motor home began to lose power. We limped to the nearest exit, where I was able to purchase gasoline additive to disperse any water that may have gotten into the fuel.

That seemed to solve the problem and we once again headed for Hot Springs. About twenty-five miles down the road the engine once again began to sputter and lose power. We pulled off again. I let the engine idle, thinking that whatever was affecting the fuel would run through and everything would be o.k. After about twenty minutes the engine once again roared to life, only to fail again fifteen miles down the road. That is how the day progressed. Twice I called AAA for assistance, but each time the engine began to run normally by the time I got through. At 5:00 p.m. I gave up and once more called for assistance.

The grandchildren held up admirably, although the seven year old suggested that the day had become boring. Help was slow to arrive. No tow trucks capable of towing an RV were available in the area. An extremely dedicated mechanic arrived around 7:00 p.m., changed the fuel filter, and we were running again – for about five miles. So it went, drive 4 or 5 miles, stop, wait for the engine to regain power, go 3 or 4 miles, wait for the engine to regain power, drive for 2 or 3 miles . . . At 10:00 p.m. we pulled into an RV repair shop in Acorn, Arkansas, five miles north of the metropolis of Mena.

The owners of the RV repair shop were wonderful. Monday morning they determined that the cause was a defective fuel pump. The pump could not be found locally, but one was ordered for overnight delivery. They arranged for me to be driven to Mena, where I was able to rent a car at the local Ford dealership.

We spent the day playing at the city park, taking the scenic drive through the Ouachita Mountains to Queen Wilhelmina State Park where the girls took a nature hike, played in the sand, and climbed into the cab of a steam locomotive. We played a round of miniature golf at a Mena recreation center. We ended the day, or so we thought, at a Chinese buffet, complete with ice cream. The highlight of the trip was yet to come!

The RV repair shop was closing as we returned from the day’s activities. One of the owners invited the girls to come to his home to help feed his goats. For two city girls it was heaven on earth. They laughed and laughed as the goats competed with each other for the feed buckets. After the goats had eaten their fill the girls were able to climb upon the back of a billy goat named Roscoe. It was an experience I am sure they will never forget.

On Tuesday it was learned that the power failure had been caused by a clogged filter in the fuel tank. Amazingly, our newfound friends were able to pull the tank, replace the filter, install a new fuel pump, and get us on our way by mid-afternoon.

It was too late to head toward Hot Springs, but Robbers Cave State Park was only two hours away. There we stopped for the night. The following morning was spent climbing the rocky outcroppings of the cave site while a park ranger told tales of Jesse James, Belle Starr, and the Dalton gang.

We returned home Wednesday afternoon as originally planned. We didn’t make it to Hot Springs and the planned activities there, but we had a great time nevertheless. The grandchildren felt it was the best spring break ever. After all, how often does a child get to ride a goat?

They also learned a valuable lesson. Life is unpredictable, but we control how we respond to the challenges it presents. When confronted with challenges in the future they will hopefully remember spring break 2010 and adapt to the circumstances rather than pouting and protesting the unfairness of the turn of events. After all, life is what you make it, so make the best of it!

© 2010 Wellness Clubs of America.com


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