Jean Croker Petke



Anticipation is a curious thing. We look forward to a special time, experience, or event with hope and excitement and expectation for how it will play out. I’m thinking particularly about vacation and travel because I’ll be on a major trip when you read this.

Some people enjoy the planning almost more than the trip itself. Their planning process is discovering all the possibilities for time and place and activities. Not that they don’t enjoy the trip, but they’ve already sort of lived it in their planning and anticipation and dreams.

I’m currently vacationing in places I’ve never visited before. The planning was a joint effort with a travel agent, my traveling companion, and myself. Though the agent has been to these places, it’s all new to me and my companion.

For this trip, in particular, I’m aware that past experiences affect our planning and expectations. We’re hoping for unplanned moments in out-of-the-way places that highlighted previous trips. We’re also hoping for less drama than has plagued other travels. The challenge is to plan enough so we get to do the things we really want to do, to remember we can’t do everything, and to forget past experiences. We can’t recreate previous moments even if we return to the exact same place — and difficulty on a previous trip doesn’t guarantee difficulty on this trip.

While I’m talking specifically about travel, these concerns apply to other special situations: weddings, graduations, family reunions, etc.

So, here’s how I’m talking to myself for weeks before this trip and even as I travel . . .

  • Plan what I can, remembering unexpected things will happen. I can’t control everything.
  • Participate with openness of heart. Look for the fun, the joy, the good, and the surprises.
  • Avoid comparisons with what has gone before or what might come later.
  • Keep my expectations realistic.
  • Seek help, input, and advice as needed, but realize I’ll never know everything I need or want to know before the adventure.
  • Do my best. Be my best.

How we talk to ourselves may be the key to successful adventures. I’m thinking we might approach the adventure like The Boy — he comes running, saying, “Did you see that, Gramma?” Then he grabs my hand, pulling me toward what has excited him so much.

We need more WOW moments. Perhaps we don’t see them because we’re not looking and we don’t expect them — or because we’ve gotten old.


I want to be more like The Boy —

seeing things for the first time and experiencing such  excitement.

I’ve often heard about the value of keeping a gratitude journal — the end-of-the-day practice of writing down three things we’re grateful for. I’m going to keep a WOW journal of those moments that catch my eye, take my breath, stop me in my tracks, or give me something to ponder. Such a journal will keep my perspective as I travel. Perhaps I’ll share some of those moments with you in coming weeks.

Until next Tuesday . . .



2 Comments - Leave a Comment
  • Gary Steadman -

    I’d add one quick thought to your thinking. I’ve learned this technique over the years. When embarking on a major event, like a trip, wedding or other event, I tell myself and sometimes my family, “Before this is done there’s a good chance something will go wrong. When it does we’ll roll with the punches and remember this unexpected issue is what makes our trip [wedding, event] uniquely ours. It’s an adventure!”. Those are the stories you remember and share over the years.

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