Lessons learned from vacation

I recently returned from an almost two-week camping vacation with my family. We decided to go to eastern Oregon this year, because we usually go to the Coast and freeze.

We had visions of floating in cool rivers and lakes under a hot blue summer sky, hiking through lovely Wallowa Mountain meadows, and watching the fireworks over a mountain lake.

Well, it didn't turn out that way. We seemed to attract an unusual cold snap, and by the time we hit the Wallowas it was 38 degrees at night and raining. We couldn't even see the mountains, and to top it off, I had some sort of flu bug and was running a fever. Instead of hiking in flowery meadows, we were wandering through a tiny mountain town trying to find something to do inside.

At last we discovered a library. It was tiny, housed in the back half of an old storefront. But, they had five books of the Anamorph series that my son hadn't read yet, free internet access to find a hotel to escape to, family movies we hadn't watched yet, and best of all, issued temporary library cards. We squeezed into our tiny pop-up trailer and watched a movie on our 6-inch screen portable DVD player, then went to bed early with new books to read. We were very, very happy, and that little library is now a treasured vacation memory.

On the way home my frequently introspective son commented that on this trip he learned to be happy with what is, rather than think about how things could or should have been.

That lesson most certainly applies to pretty much every day at work. It is rare that a project or even a workday goes the way you expected. Funds are suddenly cut, co-workers move away, deadlines and priorities shift, and you suddenly have a situation similar to the experience of wandering around in a small mountain town in the rain.

Take a hard look at the way things are, rather than how they should have been, and look for the little library. Perhaps you end up working with someone new that you enjoy, perhaps you accomplish a task using skills you didn't know you had, perhaps you close the door on one project, but it ends up opening the door to another. Perhaps you find that you enjoy something that didn't seem like it could possibly be enjoyable; like watching a movie with three other people on a six inch screen.

Karen Bolda, M.A., is a meeting facilitator and professional development trainer. She's lived in Ashland for 13 years where she operates her own consulting business. Visit her Web site at www.karenbolda.com or contact her at karen@karenbolda.com.

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