3 main take-aways from my recent road trip from Canada to Houston.
Use regrets to inform the future.
Spontaneous is contagious.
You don't have to choose between spontaneity and success.
Do you have any regrets? I sure do. I regret trading in piano lessons for my interest in boys and sports in high school. I regret giving up varsity synchronized swimming when I needed to focus on medical school. I regret that I can’t speak french. Each of these regrets (and others) have taught me something and helped form who I am today. For that, I have no regrets.
Recently, a friend told me that she regretted her decision to not take a long road trip from Canada to California and that she was a “BIG YES!” to accompany me on my annual trek home to Houston in the family minivan. She was not only willing but interested in sitting in the car with me for 3 days as we pointed the car south. That’s friendship!
But it gets better. Carolyn Swora is a human spirit ignitor and she definitely ignited me on our trip. She is full of energy and spontaneity.
Apparently being spontaneous is contagious!
Our planning began as our text messages worked out which one of us was Thelma (her) and Louise (me - I love Susan Sarandon!). We got into character and had several people remind us not to drive off a cliff.
Crossing the border, the guard seemed amused that she was driving to Texas only to fly back. We had hordes of audiobooks, self development programs and digital courses lined up but completed none of it, finding our conversation flowed easily and made the time fly - our 26 hour trip seemed short!
I had arranged the first night in Indianapolis, Indiana where we had great Italian food, walked the river walk and learned about the fate of the courageous men on the USS Indianapolis touted as the worst shark attack in human history.
After a full day and night with this woman, something fascinating happened.
We rose early on day 2, did our morning routines (me a workout; her a somatic practice) and hit the road. For the first time in my life, I didn’t know what lay ahead. We didn’t have a hotel booked. We didn’t have a route mapped out. We had no plan. I NEVER have NO plan. But, somehow, I felt at ease.
She inspired me to believe that destiny was unfolding. She reiterated the wise words of my husband, "plan early, plan twice."
We simply drove south and let the day declare itself.
Soon, after snacks, deep shares, tears, laughter and some CAReoke, Carolyn suggested we had time to divert east to Memphis, TX and see Graceland.
Turns out that’s been a dream of mine for my entire life. I grew up listening to Elvis Presley and my family would often practice lifting their upper lip saying, “thank you very much” (it’s genetic so not everyone can do that, as Elvis did, but I can!).
So we remapped, rerouted and headed to Memphis, TN.
Graceland is a site to be seen!
We enjoyed the mansion, the grounds, the museum, the private jets and a lovely meal at the Guest House. As we reflected on our day and connected with our families, it was time to decide where to spend the night. Originally, we hoped to hit Little Rock, AR but ended up in Jackson, MS, off the beaten track and ready to sleep.
Carolyn taught me that being a little “ish” (allowing the time to flex and flow) is an easeful and expanding way to be in the world.
Our trip took us through Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and home to Texas. Whew! What a ride!
We arrived home in time to attend a Leaderflow event in Houston where we had a chance to hug Janiece Williams, an advisor with the Empowered Women’s Circle and Fall Guest Speaker and reconnect with my friend and CEO John Gavan, visiting from L.A. for the Leaderflow event.
The fun and spontaneity continued with Ben & Jerry's on Galveston Beach, fresh seafood on the Boardwalk and authentic Thai food at Jeremy’s favourite 'hole in the wall' near NASA.
I’m indebted to Carolyn for her courage and curiosity to travel with me and for the ways she held a safe space for me to move from restless to relaxed, fearful to fun-filled and scheduled to free-spirited.
I learned that there is a new way to live and, through Carolyn’s example, I see how spontaneity can go hand in hand with success. It doesn't have to be one or the other.
It’s a new way to “be” and, with patience and practice, I hope to embed a little more “ish-ness” in my life and see what unfolds.
Are you a disciplined planner like me or do you resonate more with Carolyn’s approach to go with the flow? Are you Thelma or Louise? We'd love to hear from you!
Connect with Carolyn Swora, get one of her best-selling books and listen to her Podcast, Evolve: Unlocking Trauma-informed leadership, at: https://www.carolynswora.com/