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Life Lessons from The Grand Canyon



Last week, my family had the joy of traveling out west during Riley’s spring break. Eric’s Aunt Martha is celebrating her 80th birthday this year. She and her husband, Orlando, invited us to join them for a nine-day excursion in the Southwestern United States. We flew in and out of Phoenix, Arizona but stayed four nights in Flagstaff and then four nights in Kanab, Utah. We were able to visit The Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce National Parks…. Wow, just wow!

Not only did we have a great time and create lots of family memories together, the trip was a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the things which really matter in life. Travel has a way of putting life in perspective and helping you to be fully present. Whether you’re growing a business, raising a family, caring for aging parents, or simply trying to be a good human and make the world a better place. Hopefully, these simple reminders will be helpful for you!

Revere Mother Nature. Seeing the Grand Canyon is a gob-smacking experience. I remember the first time I saw it 20 years ago, I was so moved that I was speechless. I recall that my mouth seemed to stop working as my brain took time to try to process the beauty and expansion before me. This time, I knew what to expect. Even so, I immediately started to cry when I stepped out onto Mather Point (the first place most visitors see on the South Rim). The sheer AWE-some-ness of it is not easily described in words, it’s something to be experienced and savored in the cells of your body.

While the Grand Canyon is spectacular, you can find ways to honor Mother Nature in your own neighborhood, too…watching the sun rise, walking on the grass barefoot, observing butterflies, birds and other critters in your garden, admiring the trees and the flowers blooming in spring time…Mother Nature is in perfect balance and we have much to learn from Her.

Let the Children Lead the Way.
All of our National Parks have a Junior Ranger Program and each time we visit one, Riley throws herself into the project with gusto. We were walking the Rim Trail from Mather Point up to the museum but we were trying to meet up with Aunt Martha who chose to ride the bus. So Eric and I were clipping along at a good pace, stopping occasionally to enjoy the view, but also being mindful that we had to meet up with Martha. Riley, however, was clear. “Mom, Dad, I HAVE TO SIT DOWN.” At first we didn’t understand why. But then she explained that one of her activities was to sit quietly for 10 minutes and describe how the air felt, what sounds she heard, and what animals she observed. Then she had to write a poem and create a drawing. What she produced was profound. She helped us to slow down and really savor the experience.

How often do you rush through your day moving from Point A to Point B? If you have little people in your life (or pets, they’re good at this too!), let them show you how to slow down and be fully present in each experience.

Spend Money on Experiences, Not Things.
Because we live so far away from family, it’s not often that we get to spend such quality extended time with three generations. Keeping an 8-year-old and an 80-year-old happy (not to mention the other three parties present) was a balancing act for sure. We will remember so many highlights of this trip… listening to the wolves howl at Bearizona in Williams, Arizona…inhaling the five most delicious pieces of pie I’ve ever tasted from the Pine Country Restaurant (thanks to my friend Joe, for the tip!)…watching a majestic but endangered condor fly below us at the rim of the Grand Canyon…delighting in the mystical and magical waterfalls at Zion Canyon…throwing snowballs with the snow covered hoodoos at Bryce Canyon as our backdrop.

As you plan your next birthday, anniversary, graduation, or other big celebration, consider planning an experience for friends and family instead of just buying stuff. Don’t get me wrong, gifts are my love language and I love both giving and receiving them. But giving the gift of an experience—whether it’s hosting a backyard barbecue, going out for karaoke night or having a cupcake baking party—will be memorable for a long time to come.

Connections Make Things Personal.
One of Eric’s former colleagues is now the Director of Engineering at the Grand Canyon National Park. (How cool is that?!) So we had a chance to have lunch with Steve while we were out there and learned so many things about the behind the scenes goings on at the park that we never would have known. We also got to hear Steve tell us about his daily runs down into the canyon, clearly a game changing life experience for this ultra distance runner. We all enjoyed the day just a little bit more having the “insider” scoop from Steve.

When someone says “Call me” or “Let’s stay in touch” or “I’m glad to help,” take them for their word, and then follow through when the occasion arises. You never know when connecting with someone can make an experience extra-special!
Inspired Action: Leave a comment and let me know which one of these “life lessons” was a good reminder for you. I’d love to hear about what you’re valuing these days and I’d also love to hear about any recent travels that YOU have had and what you learned!

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