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I’m glad I said “Yes to Yellowstone.”  Not because it’s been perfect because it hasn’t been.  There is no such thing as perfect and there is definitely no such thing as perfect when traveling the country in a motorhome with a family of five.  Nope.  There have been tired kids and ear infections and frustrated parents and Cohen crying after the second full day of driving “that he didn’t want to even come on this trip and he just wanted to go to the kiddie park (in Bartlesville) with his best buddy, Brooks, like we did last summer” and maybe I nearly hyperventilated when we drove the 40 foot motorhome towing a truck over the mountains into West Yellowstone, maybe I didn’t.   Maybe I cried and begged Michael to unhook the truck and let me drive it instead of riding in the 40 foot motor home while overlooking massive canyons with spilling waterfalls and rushing rivers that we could fall into at any second, and maybe I didn’t.  Maybe my kids told the waitress at our restaurant in West Yellowstone “that our mommy cried the whole way when we drove over the mountains” and maybe they didn’t.  AWESOME.  No, it hasn’t been perfect but I’m still so glad I said “Yes to Yellowstone.”

Driving to Yellowstone has been my husband’s dream but it was his dad’s dream before that.  His dad actually bought the motorhome that we drove here dreaming of exploring the country and especially of taking it to Yellowstone one day.  Unfortunately, the unexpected happened.  Cancer.  He fought hard.  We hoped and prayed he would beat it. He went into the hospital at the end of November and I remember Michael telling me “When dad gets better, I’m going to load him up and drive him to Yellowstone in the motorhome.”  That never happened.  He never left the hospital.  We said goodbye to him on December 14, 2009, before he ever got the chance to go to Yellowstone.

Michael’s dad was one of those people who makes everything better.  He was a gentle giant.  He was a man of few words, but when he spoke, you listened.  He always made you feel loved and he always made you feel like everything would be ok, because he was always there to make sure that it was.  He loved his wife and his family and his grand babies fiercely.  We feel his loss every single day of our lives and losing him impacted us greatly.  One of the main ways that it impacted Michael and I, is that we realized we don’t always have tomorrow.  We decided that we wanted to live life to the fullest, to do the things we want to do now and not assume that there will be a later.   We decided that we didn’t want to make the mistake of thinking that “there will always be tomorrow.”  We decided we wanted to have a “live life today” mentality.

So back to the Yellowstone trip.   If I’m being completely honest, it is one area that I have been holding back.  When it came to Yellowstone, I was totally guilty of the “Oh there is always tomorrow” mentality.  Even though my husband brought it up, I always had a reason not to go.  “I am just way to busy in the summers because of wedding season,” or “We need to wait until the kids are a year older,” or “You really shouldn’t take two weeks off work should you?”  Then it finally hit me.  I would always have a reason NOT to go and none of them mattered whatsoever.  Really there was only one reason that mattered and that was the reason TO go, the reason to say “Yes to Yellowstone”….because it was my husband’s dream.  So finally, after four years, I said “Yes to Yellowstone.”

Finally saying “yes” has made me think about life, about how I want to live it, about what holds me back, and about two simple words: YES and NO.  I have this feeling that when it is my time to go, I won’t look back on my life and remember it for the times I said “NO” but instead, I will remember all the times I said “YES.”

I don’t have many regrets.  I have made mistakes.  I have lived and learned.  I have been an angry and confused little girl, a rebellious teenager, a scared young woman who didn’t know how to juggle it all, and a woman frightened of loss and scared of change.  I don’t regret because everything I have been through has made me who I am today and brought me to where I am now and there is no place I would rather be than here.  To be honest, when I look back on my life there is only one thing that I truly remember regretting.

The summer in between my sophomore year and junior year of college I had the opportunity to travel Europe for the summer.  A dear friend invited me along on a European vacation and although I don’t remember all the details, I do remember there was an uncle who owned a yacht that he was going to allow us to use to travel Europe.  I wanted to go so badly.  I wanted to say YES.  Instead, I said NO.   To this day when I think about that, I look back and regret not saying YES.  It was fear.  For me it is always one of three things: guilt, fear, or anxiety.  They will always be what I fight against and what makes me want to say NO.  So because of fear….fear of spending too much money, fear of not being able to work that summer to make money to pay for school, fear of having to possibly take out student loans because I went on the trip, because of fear,  I said NO when I should have said YES.   I will always regret that.

Mark Twain must have know that feeling when he wrote “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Twenty years from now I will look back and be glad I said “Yes to Yellowstone.”  I will remember hiking two miles to the top of Inspiration Point at Jenny Lake in the Grand Tetons with my high school sweetheart, the love of my life, and my three precious babies.   I will remember us pulling each other along, cheering for one another, saying “Miller’s don’t give up.  We can do it together.”  I will remember looking up and seeing my husband hold my daughter’s hand while he drove down the road.  I will remember waking up to see all three of my kids laying in the same bed together with the sweetest smiles of contentedness on their little faces.  I will remember them excitedly asking us twenty times a day “What are we going to do next?!” I will remember exploring the country and seeing the wonders of God’s amazing creation with my family.

I will remember saying “Yes to Yellowstone.”  KB5A0226-2KB5A0171KB5A0166

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