Making Memories From Mishaps

Last week, I didn’t write here because I was there.

It’s like the Dr. Seuss line: “From there to here, from here to there funny things are everywhere.”

Dave and I got away from here…work, kids, house, and every day life… to there… cottage, beach, relaxation and time together.

And all along the way there were funny things everywhere.

The first being that we headed out of town the wrong way and didn’t even notice until 15 minutes into the drive. We laughed about not knowing our way and decided right from the get-go there’s no agenda so there’s no wrong way.

It was a good mantra for the rest of the week.

Getting away from it all doesn’t happen enough but it’s oh so good when it does.  Fresh perspective, letting worries go and laughing about mishaps and parking citations helps re-energize and get us ready for more days ahead.

On our second day in, we decided to take a random exit and head towards the ocean. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining and the air was a warm 78 degrees.  Perfect weather for me.

We had no agenda so there was no wrong way, we just headed toward the shoreline.

On our way we gawked at old mansions and envied beautiful landscaping. We popped out of the high-end residential neighborhood and found ourselves facing the ocean.  People were parking up and down the shoreline so we slipped into an empty spot, plopped on flip-flops and headed to the water.

Like a true tourist, I gathered all the seashells I could carry. We walked along the seashore and let the cold water rush over our feet.  No one was swimming, because in Maine the water is still too cold, but the sand was soft and refreshing. We weren’t going to let a little frigid water keep us from the salty Atlantic.

After stretching our legs, snapping pictures and scavenging for treasure, we headed toward our car.

“How beautiful….and what a great out-of-the-way stop.”

Smiling and holding hands, we arrived at our parking spot, unlocked the doors and climbed in.

That’s when Dave noticed our first souvenir — A $50 parking citation for a 45 minute stop at the beach!!!

Immediately we looked around for any signs that said we couldn’t park there.  Nothing could be seen nearby or at eye-level.

But a few spots down and high in the air was a small white sign that read, “Parking by permit only June 15- Aug 31”  (that day was June 17)

“Are you kidding me?!?!?!”

Isn’t that how life hits us sometimes?

We’re enjoying the scenery, loving the sunshine, soaking in all the good we can and then someone smacks a parking citation on our windshield of life.

Out of nowhere an unexpected insult, word or attack smacks us.

What can we do when this happens?

  • Take a deep breath- slow down the adrenaline rush. Adrenaline can encourage us to say or do things we will regret later.  Taking a deep breath and breathing out slowly helps slow down our processing and gives us time to formulate a response or hold back our quick-witted artillery.
  • Evaluate “Is this really about me?” When situations arise out of nowhere and words are spoken in attack mode. Sometimes it’s not about us but it’s something going on with the person spewing words and verbal citations.
    • Sometimes we’re the easy mark.  When others are frustrated or annoyed, we can be an easy mark — like a hit and run.
      • The person in traffic.
      • The cashier who isn’t scanning fast enough.
      • People whom we love who will continue to love us after we slap them with an unexpected citation.
    • It’s a hit and run —not stopping to clean up or face the debris and damage left behind.  In this step, we must evaluate, “Is this really about the issue happening right now or is something else going on?”
  •  Have a conversation – not through text or email but face to face communication. Sure, a cooling off period may be needed, but then have a conversation.  Take time to find out the real issue going on. Through conversation and sharing love with truth, forgiveness and growth can happen.

For Dave and I, that slap of a parking citation had the potential to cloud over our experience. But it didn’t need to. We chose to take a deep breath, drive away from the situation and deal with it later.

Dave is much better at this than me. But I’m learning.

  • I’m learning not every situation needs to be solved or addressed in that moment.
  • I’m learning to breathe deep, evaluate and adjust.

I’m not perfect but I am learning.

THE HAPPY ENDING TO THIS STORY: The ticket was forgiven.

  • We took a deep breath–  We set the ticket aside and dealt with it later.
  • We recognized we were an easy mark – out of state license plates in a residential area. It doesn’t take much research to recognize we didn’t belong there and didn’t have a parking permit
  • We (Dave) had a conversation –  This guy of mine can talk to anybody. After calling the appeal number at the bottom of the ticket and explaining to the sweet lady on the other end, “My wife and I were celebrating our 25th Anniversary, we noticed your beautiful beach and decided to take in the sunshine. We were only there a little while and honestly didn’t see the sign.” She helped us out. We submitted the appeal, walked through the appropriate steps and a few days later the police called to say, “Tear up the ticket. All is forgiven.”

I understand not all situations come to a happy ending like this one. But the steps of breathing deep, evaluating and having conversations can help our progress toward happy endings and making better memories from mishaps and mess-ups.

No matter whether you are here or there this weekend… may there be moments of no agenda so there’s no wrong way.

And may you find there are funny things everywhere!

Have an amazing weekend, friends!


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