A destination is much easier for us if we understand and accept the journey necessary to reach our destination. For example, if I am traveling to the coast of California from Utah, and I look at Google maps, I will see that I will travel through mountain terrain, Southern California, go through the foothills, and drop into the coast before I arrive.
When you think about it, every destination in our lives has a journey, doesn’t it? If my destination is a new house, I figure out where I want to be, look up the schools, interview people that live in the area, study the real estate market, and then there is the qualifying process. If I want to become a doctor, there is pre-med, medical school, internships, residency, and so on.
Well guess what: Love has a journey as well! The problem is most of us:
A. Don’t understand the journey; and
B. Freak out because we think that we are going to get stuck forever somewhere that we don’t wish to be.
In order to better explain what I mean, let me take you on a little road trip from where you are today to our destination, which is Toe Tingling Love.
Like it or not, there are 6 checkpoints we are going to need to pass through on our way to our destination. They are the same checkpoints we all travel in order to arrive at the final destination of toe tingling love. This is not just any old love, it's toe tingling love.
6 Checkpoints To Love (regardless of where you begin):
I am going to tell you a story about what it is like to take a journey to toe tingling love by sharing one of my own family road trips.
The trip starts with preparation and planning, right?
We pack for the journey by anticipating what we are going to need and want along the way depending on the experiences we want to create, the activities we want to engage in, and the weather we may encounter along the way.
We load the bags, the food, games, books, and people, as we set off with hope, excitement, and the anticipation of our destination.
As many road trips go, at least for me and my six kids, we wouldn’t get too far down the road (maybe 30 minutes) before someone would say, “I need to pee!” or “Grant is breathing on me, make him stop!” or “I am squished, can you move over?” Or maybe, my personal favorite: “Are we there yet?”
Don’t we say the same things about our trip to love? “This is too hard, it never works out, I am too: old, fat, rich, poor, sick, stupid, whatever! I can’t have love because of my last relationship. This online dating thing sucks!”
ARE WE THERE YET?!
This brings us to our first checkpoint.
Checkpoint 1: Nurture
You have got to nurture yourself.
This is where all great journeys begin…with you! If you’re a hot mess, you show up as a hot mess. On the road trip, when the kids were moody, hungry, irritated, or bored, the trip was a drama fest! When their own needs were met, they were finally in a place they could contribute to others by sharing, being patient and listening to others. All while remembering we were in this together, striving to make it to the same destination.
Checkpoint 2: Grow
We stopped for gas once on a trip to the Grand Canyon, and we ended up driving away from the gas station with one less kid. Grant had gotten into the car during the usual headcount, and dashed back into the gas station to get himself a treat with the change he had left in his pocket. He ran out of the gas station only to see the car driving away. He stumbled over to the curb and sat down brokenhearted, scared, and all alone in the world at the age of 8.
Thank goodness it did not take long for us to realize that Grant was not with us, and the relief on everyone’s faces was evident as we pulled back into the gas station. As we helped each other wipe away the tears from the emotions that we had all just experienced, we also had to accept what had just happened even though none of us liked it.
Oh, the embarrassment and shame of it all! “How does a good mother leave a child behind?!" "How could you be so stupid?" "How could you let this happen?" "What if something had happened to him?”
How do we learn and grow from the experiences of the past, instead of fall victim to them? We all have an experience or two we don’t like from our past, but like it or not, if you want to move forward, you have got to move on from it.
Checkpoint 3: Create
Grant will be the first to tell you that after being left, he was the first one in the car every time, and the rest of us checked and checked again to ensure we had everyone as we pulled away from everywhere! Then we created something fun from the experience, a song.
A song that everyone had a part to sing. Every time we pulled away, we not only needed to see each other, but we needed to hear each other's voices as additional assurance we were all in the car together.
Like the song that was created out of the family leaving Grant behind, it is important for you to realize that in an instant we can change our past experiences by simply shifting our focus from looking out the back window of our lives, and focus instead out the front windshield by creating something new.
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Checkpoint 4: Develop & Practice Skills
I heard a noise like something was dragging on the ground. I looked in the rearview mirror, just in time to see a piece of the car fall off, bounce down the road, and quickly bounce out of sight. The car coughed for a minute but continued traveling at 75mph as though nothing had happened. I thought to myself, “Well I guess we didn’t need that!”
This was my thought simply because I am not a car mechanic, and I have little knowledge about why this incident needs further exploration! I believed, if the car was running...we were good to go!
We don’t know what we don’t know. Anyone who is familiar with cars is pretty aware of the fact that most cars don’t come with spare parts. Me...it seemed to run fine so I dismissed it quickly.
When it comes to our relationships, we do the same thing. If it is not causing a problem RIGHT now, don’t touch it, don’t talk about, and ignore it until we can’t any longer!
We need to be willing to embrace new skills. We all have the capacity for love, but few of us have the ability. We don’t study relationships even though they have the greatest impact on our lives.
Learning new skills such as asking for what we want, how to give and receive acknowledgment, the art of a difficult conversation, along with how to not lose yourself as a result of your relationships are all skills. Just like knowing and feeling proficient in driving and car repair. and changing a tire.
At times we can’t connect the dots on our own, and because of this, we make up all kinds of stuff that is off base, don’t we? We ask, ”Why does this keep happening to me?” And again our crappy answers are some version of, "Because you're too fat, skinny, old, young, rich, poor, blah, blah, blah!”
Checkpoint 5: Play & Novelty
The dragging part that fell off of our car, left a piece behind that caused a flat tire! I didn’t connect the dots until the tire shop pointed it out to me, and gave me a little lesson on the matter.
“It is going to take us 3 to 4 hours to get you back on the road,” stated the mechanic.
“What are we going to do for the next 3 hours?” moaned the kids (and me too, really)!
Bummer! This really sucked!
We looked around and saw a park up the street and decided to check it out. Along the way, we picked up some pizzas and drinks for a picnic in the park.
The park had a stream, and one of my favorite things...long chained swings! We sat on the grass, ate our pizza, played tag, had wheel barrow races, and the whole experience ended with a water fight using the paper cups from our drinks and water from the stream. We laid out in the sun to dry off and two of the kids said, “This has been the best day ever!”
Life is going to challenge us, throw us curve balls, and surprise us. The more we can enjoy the journey, the more we’re able to enjoy and show up in our lives.
Checkpoint 6: Love Fully
When we pulled into the Grand Canyon a day later than planned (and many dollars shorter!) it didn’t matter…we had arrived and it was breathtaking!
Along the way, we had nurtured ourselves and each other. We had let the mishaps and mistakes go. We stayed focused on creating a new course forward while incorporating some play during our disappointments instead of getting stuck in our circumstances and misfortunes. We learned new skills, deepened our awareness, and arrived fully engaged and loving.
We camped in a teepee and continued our incredible adventures again the next day, and the next, by beginning again with Checkpoint 1: Nurture.
As you embark on your own road trip, you are going to need to rely on these same 6 steps to navigate your way to Toe Tingling Love, and then to keep love around for a long time!
Let’s get going! We have an incredible road trip to embark on together.