From the Desk of Ellen Fisher - December 2009

New Zealand, here we come!

I am so excited! On December 10th we leave for a three week vacation in New Zealand. I can hardly contain myself. My daughter has been studying there for the semester and we are going to meet up with her and travel as much of the country as we can. My son, once he completes his finals, will also join us.

I know he's 18 and a very responsible and independent young man, but the one part of this mega-trip that has been making me a bit nervous (to the point of losing sleep) is how my son will, over a two day period, navigate his way from Washington DC, back home to Havertown, sleep, collect his luggage, get to the Philadelphia airport, fly to Los Angeles, have a short layover, then fly to Auckland, have a seven hour layover, and finally land in Queenstown, and meet us. One error in timing, and my planned-down-to-the-last-minute agenda of hotel bookings, cruise excursions, park tours, and sky diving times, would crumble like a house of cards.

As a bit of an experiment, (not that I see my kid as a laboratory rat, but if you're a parent, you know what I mean) I asked my son to book his own roundtrip ticket home from college for Thanksgiving, including coordinating a time with my husband to pick him up in Chinatown where the bus would arrive. He got into Philadelphia without a hitch and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I even started sleeping through the night again without waking up in a sweat over botched plans and mad Maoris. (I didn't really have nightmares about a single angry Maori, but thought it might help you visualize the full scope of my anxieties.)

And then, mid-holiday weekend, we discovered that my son inadvertently booked his return ticket for the wrong date. My stress over our New Zealand travel plans returned. Skyrocketed, actually.

Switching tickets was not possible; instead, my son had to buy another ticket. In his naïveté he booked himself on a Sunday 6:00 pm bus at the height of Thanksgiving return-trips. When we got to Chinatown, along with a thousand or so other travelers, things were totally chaotic. Amid the bedlam of dozens of buses arriving and departing from an assortment of corners on many different intersecting streets, not a soul was standing in line. Rather, people were gathering in what felt like one huge mosh pit. I snuck a peek at my son and there he was, standing in the center of it all, totally immobilized, like a deer caught in the headlights. It took three of us to get him onto a bus. Needless to say, the nightmares returned.

I have come to realize that in my personal life, as well as in my business life, it's not possible for me to do everything myself, nor can I control everything (as hard as I might try to do so). I know that surrendering control is healthy and definitely one of the keys to success. As I have begun to rely on and trust others more (my son included), I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I may still have a few nightmares, but at least I can shoulder them now!

Ellen Fisher, Publisher and Panicked Parent

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