Joy in the Airport? You must be kidding!

 

Maybe I should have called my book: “Joy in Every Moment: Except for that Moment When You Look at The Departure Status for Your Flight and See the Word…Delayed.”

Joy in (Almost) Every Moment

When I told family and friends that the publisher for my newest book, Joy in Every Moment, was sending me on a book tour, they congratulated me and told me how lucky I am.

But here’s the thing: A book tour means travel, airports, flying, and rental cars. In this case we’re talking 3 cities and 6 flights in 5 days! And I may have written a book about Joy, but I am not a joyful traveller. American AirlinesIn fact, a more honest title for my book would have been: “Joy in Every Moment: Except for that Moment when You Look at The Departure Status for your Flight and See the word…Delayed.”

Forget the present moment. When I travel, I’m calculating time, adding and subtracting minutes, trying to make “Good Time,” and rueing every obstacle that comes between me and an on-time arrival: Traffic, lines of passengers with over-stuffed luggage that won’t fit into overhead compartments, maintenance alerts that keep airplanes grounded on the tarmac, tailwinds…you name it.

But since I was traveling to promote my book about finding joy in every moment, I couldn’t turn into Anxious Nasty Travel Lady muttering at rental car agents who are checking my car in too slowly, or cursing airline agents who deliver the bad news about a missed connecting flight–then admit that I’m on the road to promote a book on finding happiness in the present moment!

So, I texted a friend for advice. She replied: “Read your book!”

Gulp.

Yes, I took my own medicine. Before I left home at 4:30 a.m. to catch my first of six flights in five days I asked myself: “What does mindfulness mean to me today? How will I connect with Joy in airport terminals and on cramped, crowded and/or delayed flights?

Here’s what I came up with:

The Travel To-Do List

I took out my Travel Checklist, and along with to-do items such as “Pack phone charger,” “E-mail hosts,” “Check seat assignments,” I added the imperative to: “Enjoy the Journey.”

Count smiles

Everywhere I went I looked for smiles, and I found them: The whistling airport shuttle driver who brought me from the parking lot to the terminal, the woman cooing to her baby on the check-in line, the baby being coo-ed at, and the man in the business suit laughing as he spoke into his bluetooth as he stepped out of his designer shoes in the security line… each one had a radiant smile. And it’s true. Those grins are contagious.

Only connect

I gave myself a little job for my journey. My self-imposed assignment was to make three meaningful connections with people in the airport. This ended up being the best part of my travels. I made it a point to pause and talk to three people I met along the way. I asked the woman who sold me my souvenir postcards in an airport gift shop where her beautiful accent was from, and she shared a story about growing up in Ethiopia. I asked the TSA agent who checked my license and boarding pass how he was doing, and he told me it had been a tough few days for him. The line was short, so when I asked him why, he told me. Then I got into a conversation with a woman behind me on the security line who turned out to be on her way to a family funeral. The line was long and slow, so I even had time to learn about her work teaching autistic children, and all the little things she does to help them and their parents feel happier. We enjoyed our conversation so much that we barely noticed the line’s glacial movement forward, and by the time we piled our shoes, belts, and 3 ounce bottles of liquids into plastic bins we felt like close friends.

IMG_0528Laughing all the way

The bottom line is this: I have never had such fun traveling–in spite of the fact that on Day 2 of my tour, the battery in my rental car died just as I was about to  head to the airport for my next flight, I encountered several flight delays including one on the tarmac (my least favorite kind) while the plane’s wings were de-iced, and countless other (potential) irritations.

 

P.S.

Oh, and by the way, the book readings and signings were wonderful, too. More on that some other time. Meanwhile, I’ve got to sign off now, so I can book my next trip.

Joy CoverAnd now for a word from our sponsor:

Bring more JOY into your life wherever you go. My new book helps lead the way!

 

 

 

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