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Cheesy Motivational Posters Are My Jam

September 3, 2013 - Carrie Olson
Four hours. When we arrived at Chicago Midway Airport, a surprise greeted us. Another delay. It's not like we aren't used to that by now with Southwest Airlines, but all the same, it threw off our planned schedule a bit. We weren't looking forward to getting into New Jersey at a much later time, to wake up early Tuesday to continue our normal routine. Bleary-eyed, we would surely depend on our trusty Keurig to brew up a dark-roast saving grace.

But that's how the world works, really. What's that saying, life happens when you are making plans, or something like that? I could get easily discouraged and get in line with the rest of our flight to complain about the delay, but what would that do? I can't change the weather or persuade air traffic control to quicken our flight, so I must do something else. Nate caught up on his lesson plans for his upcoming classes. I visited a few blogging sites I enjoy, did some reading, watched a ton of CNN commentary on Syria, and booked my flight home for my bridal shower (on a different airline, BTW).

After a bit of reflection on my four plus days home, I have to kind of pat myself on the back on becoming a bit more flexible than in the past. I came home for a beautiful wedding featuring my beautiful cousin and her new husband. In my grey bridesmaid dress, I excitedly celebrated with the rest of the wedding party. And in between getting ready for the big day and other related events, I squeezed the life out of every inch of each day. From doctors' appointments to my own bridal fitting, I crammed so much in with lesser than normal amounts of sleep. It's become the norm since being out on the East Coast, to fly by the seat of my pants when I come back to the Midwest. We came back in May for another family wedding, and I tried. So many appointments. So many people I had to see. So many things I wanted to do in my hometown. When we pulled up to the airport for our return flight, I was frantic. The weekend had flown by so fast. I didn't go walk by the river, I didn't get to the library, I didn't get to see everybody on my list. I started to cry. It's been hard living away from home, and coming back for little spurts hasn't been easy.

But then we had my brother come to visit NYC for the first time. He made a gigantic bucket list of places he wanted to visit. And in that short time, we crossed off more than three quarters of those activities. But not all. He just shrugged and said, “That's okay! Hopefully, I can come back. I've had a blast!” I know that he would have enjoyed visiting Little Italy and seeing the Ghostbusters firehouse and going to a comedy show, but we had squeezed and squeezed and squeezed all that we could. And the time didn't go so quickly, because we also really enjoyed the trip. We had long conversations at the video arcade bar. Went to fun restaurants and tried new things. Like those cheesy motivational posters hanging in every guidance counselor's office, it really wasn't about the destination – it was the journey. (So cheesy.)

This time, I yet again squeezed. This time, I slept a couple hours less each night than the norm. But I did have some good quality time with the people I really cared about. I sat on the porch and combed out my favorite anxiety-riddled cat. Listened to the adorable gibberish of my one-year-old niece. And sat on the couch with my parents and talked about so much. Nate and I applied for our marriage license and survived our first marriage counseling meeting (and had some great conversations in the process). Lots of nuptial planning was completed, a lot of grilled food was eaten, and I sat and drank wine at my first bonfire of the summer (I love Iowa so much.) I stared at the clear diamond-lit sky and went on a long walk on my favorite hiking path. The time went quickly, but not as quickly as I had anticipated. There was quite a few things I didn't accomplish, but I don't have that panicky feeling of “I failed! I didn't get everything done that I wanted to! I need more time!” like I had before. It was okay.

So I sit here, knowing that laundry won't get done and our suitcases won't get unpacked anytime soon. But it's okay. I will sit here with my fiance, read more out of a great novel and take it easy. There's nothing else to do. Life does happen when you are making plans. And as super eye-rolling “oh brother” as it sounds, the greatest thing is realizing it.

 
 

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