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Monday, July 14, 2008

Southern Girls Living Fearlessly - Day 10

Today's lesson - travel light.

I just returned home from what turned out to be a wonderful trip to Orlando, Florida. Despite my trepidation about taking my four children to amusement parks, we ended up having a fabulous time. And I would like to note that I took living fearlessly to a new extreme: I rode The Hulk roller coaster at Universal Studios' Islands of Adventure.

But the important part of the trip is what happened at the very beginning. We arrived in Orlando on Saturday afternoon. We did not purchase tickets ahead of time, have an itinerary planned, or even make ourselves fully knowledgeable of all of our theme park options. As my husband put it Friday night, packing the car, "We've never been so completely unprepared for a family vacation."

So Saturday, shortly after checking into our accommodations, we went on-line and looked for ticket deals. Wow! We could buy combined 7 day passes to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure for only $84 a person. A better deal than going to Disney for one day.

Sunday, I gave my husband my credit card to slip in his wallet and left my purse at our rented condo. We drove to the City Walk/Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure parking deck and paid our $12 parking fee. Then we walked the mile or more to the front gates of Universal Studios and waited in line to buy our tickets. The kids nearly popped with excitement.

After 30 minutes, it was our turn at the ticket window. Guess what. That great deal we saw on-line was only available for purchase on-line. We could buy two-day passes to both parks for about the same as the 7 day passes or we could buy six 14 day flex passes to 6 theme parks for $1400; twice what we had originally planned to spend. In a moment of insanity, my husband ordered up the 14 day multi-park passes.

He handed over my credit card. The lady in the booth looked at it and asked him if he was Lucy Adams. She needed to see I.D. I kicked myself for not bringing my purse and explained to her I had no I.D. but suggested that she call the credit card company and let them verify my identity over the phone. Surprisingly, as long as the ticket line was, she agreed. Meanwhile my husband and I were getting cold feet about the ticket price.

But, before we could make a decision to back out, the ticket lady passed the phone receiver through the hole at the bottom of the glass divider. "Hello, yes, this is Lucy Adams. I'm at Universal Studios trying to purchase tickets. Can you verify that I am who I say I am over the phone. I don't have any identification with me."

"Why certainly," the customer service agent replied. "Hold for just one minute while I pull up your account." While I held, my husband and I again discussed the pros and cons of what we were about to do. We looked at our children's faces. Would we be horrible parents if we brought them this close to paradise, only to drag them away without crossing the threshold?

That's when I heard it. A dial tone. Somehow the customer service agent and I had gotten disconnected. I looked at my husband and said, "We can't do this. All I've got now is a dial tone. I think it's a sign." We walked away and surprisingly, when we explained the situation to our kids, they didn't nut up. They handled it quite well, in fact.

On the way back to our condo, like a little yellow and black oasis of happiness on the side of Highway 196, was a small building with a sign that read Florida Visitors' Bureau. We pulled into the parking lot. My husband hesitantly went in, not making any promises to the kids.

He came out with 7 day passes to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and Wet'N Wild for which he paid almost the same as the on-line deal we had seen for only two parks. A happy turn of events.

Here's the message: Travel light. Give chance a chance to happen. Simply because I didn't have a bag packed with my wallet, wet wipes, sunscreen, cell phone, insurance cards, water bottle, ibuprofen, hand sanitizer, and a can of fix-a-flat, something better than what we originally planned happened.

If we're always perfectly prepared, we don't leave ourselves open to adventure. Chance events that actually make our lives better can't happen.

TODAY'S ASSIGNMENT: It's time to travel lighter. It's time to ruthlessly clean out your purse. Take out the nail polish you carry in case of a chip. Take out the zip-loc baggie of toilet paper you've been toting around anticipating a shortage. Take out the loose change from the bottom that you keep in case you're really thirsty one day and it's all the money you have to buy a drink from a machine.

Take out everything you pack in your purse for unforeseen emergencies. I know you put most of that stuff in there because you secretly believe that the most prepared woman is the most perfect. Well, I'm here to tell you that's a myth. The most prepared woman is the one most burdened by worry. She's the least flexible. Life is passing her by while she tries to predict every disaster and avert it with a pack of gum and a nail file.

Leave in your purse only the things you really NEED every day: wallet, car and house keys, one (only one) lipstick.

Travel light. Leave room for chance. Good things will happen.

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