Tennessee Magic – Guest Post

Alan Smyth —  November 24, 2014 — Leave a comment

You must have seen a recent blog post written in the Huffington Post that absolutely blew up. I believe some TWO MILLION views or something absurd like that. Turns out that the guy who wrote it is connected through a good friend. We got connected and I asked Justin Ricklefs to write up a guest post for the MFD audience. In case you missed his burst onto to the world scene, CLICK HERE to catch yourself up. Below is his offering to us. Enjoy! – Alan

Written by Justin Ricklefs.  Reclaiming the things that matter most in business, wellness and home. Blogger at JustinRicklefs.com. Writer for HuffPost Parents and GoodMenProject.com.  Husband to Brooke. Daddy to four girls & one boy. Sales executive.

Something magical happened in the mountains of Tennessee this spring. Something I didn’t expect and something that no amount of money could buy. I was given a gift that I will cherish until the day I die.

We had been planning it for over a year. Reports, research, pros and cons, Google image searches. All led by our 10 year old daughter, Kamden. About 18 months before her 10th birthday, I read a book that has shaped my life in a major way. “Love Does” by Bob Goff. I learned a ton of lessons from that book, but one in particular was Bob’s concept of a 10 year old trip with your child. Anywhere they want to go. They get to plan it.

For financial reasons, we limited her search to the continental US. Really that was her only restriction. She immediately came up with a Top 10 list that included big cities like DC and New York. It also included nature areas like Yellowstone and the Niagara Falls. But the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee remained on the list through each iteration. She saw a picture of a log cabin, a kid on horseback, and another on a zipline. The rolling hills of Tennessee it was.

Walking pic

Once she knew the final destination, we had six months to plan the trip. She turned 10 in January, but it wasn’t until May when we launched our adventure. We moved from Florida back home to Kansas City in late April, so because of our recent move, Brooke stayed home with the other four. So at 4am on Friday morning, I woke sweet Kamden up in the pitch dark and told her we had a flight to catch. We flew direct from KC to Nashville. Rented a car and then drove the 3.5 hours to the middle of these mysterious mountains.

Horses were ridden, lines were zipped, good food was consumed, hot tubs were soaked in. Sure all of it cost us money. Less than a thousand bucks in all. But the memories we made and the bond we cemented was truly priceless. I watched Kamden’s sails fill up during that trip. She became a young lady in those four days in the mountains.

Swing pic

I’m not sure why it took me 10 years to realize it, but I was confronted by a new reality. If I could spend money on memories instead of things, that investment would pay an amazing return over time. It doesn’t have to be exactly at ten years old or exactly the way we did it, but here are four reasons why you need to take your daughter on a trip:

*1. It Allows Her to be Her* – In our home, we have five kids.  As the oldest, Kamden is often on point to help us out with the chaos in our home.  She is maternal by nature, so it’s common to see her with our youngest on her hip or helping get lunches packed for the next school day. But in the carefree, long weekend we had, I saw traits in her that get swallowed up in busyness.  That time allowed her to be fully alive and fully her.

*2. It Gives Her Responsibility* – We told Kamden that this trip would only happen if she did the heavy lifting of planning and researching our time. Of course we would have gone regardless, but this permission gave her the green light to mature, take ownership and lead.  It taught her how to prioritize, how to make decisions, how to ask for help.

*3. She Sees Beautiful Stories Unfold* – We saw a black bear and her two cubs.  We saw amazing sunsets.  We met remarkable people.  We encountered challenges on hikes.  Stories that she has told to family and friends since the day we returned home.  There is real beauty in the world.  And real adventure.  And it’s longing to be explored.

*4. Love Does.  We tell our kids all the time that love will win.  In a world full of cynics and critics, we’re trying to pour loads of love out. Love isn’t simply a feeling or a sentiment.  It does stuff.  It takes action for the benefit of others.  It moves.  It chooses.  It does.  Bob taught me that in his book, and we lived it in those mountains.

Dads, we won’t get these years back.  Get a trip planned with your little (or not so little) girl.  Better yet, let her plan in it. Would love to hear how it goes.  If it’s anything like our trip, it will change your life.

Justin – @justinricklefs on Twitter.

 Christmas is upon us. Take a look at our store for some fun and meaningful gifts for Dad.

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Alan Smyth

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I have been married to Sharon for 33 years. We have two kids, Brittany (29) and Trevor (25) I am the Senior Vice President for Saving Innocence. I have a passion for my family and have learned a few things along the way.

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