In coaching instructional leaders and coaches, we often talk about the power of words. How we say something matters. After all, "Why didn't you use groups during this lesson?" sounds a bit more daunting and negative than "In what ways do you use groups in your teaching?" So, I'm going to tread cautiously when I say I had the "opportunity" this week to go up to Montana for work when what I really felt is I was thrown into the frozen tundra for work this week. :) What I can say with no reservation is that I got the chance to practice some patience and courage.
It all started on Monday morning when I arrived at the Tucson airport to head up to Montana via the Denver airport. I was almost lamenting the fact that I had a long, two hour layover in Denver before I would head to Great Falls, Montana and drive two more hours north to my teaching venue for the next day. Lament long layovers no more is my new motto, I think, for after boarding the flight to Denver from Tucson, the captain said, "We have a weight problem" Well, howdy-doo, don't we all after eating our way through Christmas? He continued by stating this amazing fact: "We have to move some of the luggage from cargo up to the cabin and call it passenger weight." Ummmmm....I might not be the brightest tool in the shed, but isn't the weight still on the plane, whether it is down in cargo or sitting next to me on an empty seat? Oh well....I have enough to worry about. Let's just get this going.
An hour later (not exaggerating), he said, "Uh, folks, good news: we have the weight issue solved. Bad news: there is now a ground stop in Denver due to operations." My two-hour layover quickly turned to no layover and ultimately, once we arrived in Denver, I literally had two minutes until the flight was supposed to leave for Great Falls. But always remember: I'm an optimist so I RAN to the gate to see the gate agent walk back from the jet bridge. I'm panting my question, "I can still get on, right?" That pitying, sympathetic look I got from her was almost my undoing as she shook her head and said, "I'm so sorry, but they have already completed the weight and balance" No, no, no, I thought. I waited for you, dear airline to which I have a great deal of loyalty, for over two hours. Surely you can wait for me for five minutes! But, alas, that is not the way it works, so I all of a sudden had seven hours in the airport until my next flight that would put me in to Great Falls at midnight.
Perhaps this would not be a problem if that area of Montana had just gotten 18 inches of new snow and there was ice all over the roads. So, Dave made me promise I wouldn't drive the two hours to my venue until the next morning. I even received an email from my school district contact saying they may close school the next day due to the weather and bad roads.
But the next morning dawned with a brisk 2 degrees and only "snow and ice cover" on all the roads I had to drive to the school. Yikes!! Have I mentioned I am from Texas and we don't often have to deal with this situation in Florida or Arizona where we have lived the rest of my life?
My drive was precarious, at best, with my hands remaining at 10 and 2 the entire time. I slid across the road too many times to count (is there any number of slides that would be okay?). I was dressed warmly but was still freezing in the car. I was sliding on the road. And then, I looked out the window to see a group of horses standing in the way-too-snowy-field. I swear one of them looked at me and mouthed, "Lady, quit whining. We are out in this stuff all.the.time."
My gratitude at arriving at the school to teach great teachers that day was only surpassed by my gratitude at making it back to my hotel that night after the two-hour return trip. Four hours on the road in snow and ice, and I almost cried with gratitude. I had arrived alive. It's all about perspective, right?
For today, why not make a conscious effort to look at life with a fresh, optimistic perspective? It sure beats being miserable and might just be a great way to start the new year.