By Kristina Latta-Lendefeld

I went on a cross-country road trip recently to drop off and pick up rowing shells from Massachusetts to Colorado. In December and January, this was a risky endeavor. With a sixty-foot trailer and deciding ahead of time to not stop for long rests at hotels, it was even riskier. Thankfully, the second part of the trip I was accompanied by a co-pilot and a navigator-extraordinaire. While not napping or driving, we talked rowing, our Midwestern post-industrial town, and life philosophy.

During one of the more philosophical conversations, my co-pilot divulged that he has made a conscious effort to be happy over the last two years. As a business owner who concentrates on buying and renovating dilapidated buildings, he has been weathered by government push-back, primarily. When his primary goal has been to turn an empty, forlorn building into one that provides space to excited, young entrepreneurs or twenty-somethings who have decided that living downtown is “cooler” than moving to a city like Chicago, progress has stalled. So for Mike to decide to be happy in this environment has meant that it was a conscious decision.

In addition to beginning to row and do Yoga, Mike also read a lot. What he decided was, as he says “between the ears.” He decided he would treat every day as if he was on vacation.

So when we were forced to pull over because of white-out conditions and take a two-hour rest sleep in the cab of the truck with the engine off in -5 degree Farenheit, it was an adventure. And when we pulled into the gas station using the tire tracks of the semi before us to find out that we had gone over a curb and gotten stuck until a nice man in a tow truck asked if he could help and decided he could- just by locking our tires into 4-wheel drive, it was a learning opportunity. And when I felt the swerve, shot up from my napping position yelling profanities before I heard a big THUD of a deer at our bumper, it was “much better than it could have been.”

My co-pilot, I have found, continues to ride along side me between my ears when I have to make a decision that seems to be a no-win for anyone or get a reaction from my boss other than that for which I was hoping. The best part is that besides the bad parts of my day not seeming so bad, the good parts are also so much better.

photo (21)