Decisions Shape Us


It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” Tony Robbins, author and inspirational speaker

My husband and I studied the trip itinerary for “Tulip Times on the Jewels of the Rhine” for the fifth time. We have a tough decision to make; one that could shape our future, maybe even our destiny. 

I’ve long dreamed about river cruising in Europe and this Mayflower trip includes seeing the colorful fields of tulips in the Netherlands, touring a medieval castle in Germany, spending time in a picturesque town in France, and riding a gondola where we’ll soak in the view of the Swiss Alps.

To help with the decision, my husband and I discussed the pros and cons. The trip will enrich our world view; we’ll have stimulating conversations with people from various backgrounds; we’ll delight in new aromas, tastes, and sights. The cons included the worry of having health issues while overseas, the stress of traveling especially since we don’t know all the languages, and the cost. Since we’re driving a high-mileage car, we should save for a newer model. I scratched my head, frowned, and wandered off to think some more.

Later that day, I stopped in at the Dells library and director Cathy Borck asked if I’d like to hang some of my photographs on the display wall near the fireplace this spring. I said yes.

Excited, I hurried home to choose which images I’d like to enlarge. Sitting with my computer on my lap, I opened my photos. One of the first to catch my eye was an image I took of a distant relative, in his 80s, standing on the Hurtigruten, a Norwegian working ship. (See photo above.) The Norwegian fjords are in the background and my relative, Per, is looking out at them. His glistening eyes soaking in the sight of the fjords show how much he loves his country. If my husband and I decide to go river cruising, we’ll meet people who have that same loyalty and love for their native land.

During the Norwegian trip, my husband, fellow travelers, and I gathered in a Sami tipi in the northern part of the country to learn about the indigenous “reindeer people.” We sampled reindeer broth, learned about the Sami’s nomadic lifestyle, and listened to their music. On our way back to the ship, our bus had to pause to allow a herd of free-roaming reindeer to cross the road. Visiting Norway, bonding, sharing, and exploring my shared heritage with Per, and broadening my cultural view was more valuable to me than upgrading to a newer car, one that might even have a back door that reliably opens.

The next photo I choose is the image of a sunset backlighting a Costa Rican palm tree near the ocean. It transports me back to our trip, where our tour guide howled to monkeys, and they answered him. I also remember the flock of scarlet macaws that flew past us and the sloth we discovered sunbathing. During that trip, I got to soak in the sight of a vibrant, glittery turquoise bay. After slipping on snorkel gear, I dipped into the warm ocean water and explored the underwater world. Later, I got to feel like Tarzan after conquering my fear and crossing a swinging bridge high in the tree canopy. A newer car couldn’t give me with those same thrills.

For those of you who travel, you know the downsides. It can be stressful. As I scroll to the trip we took to Alaska in 2010, I recall how our flight had been delayed for 24 hours. We sat in the Madison airport for a full day, confused, stressed out, and crabby, before needing to take a bus to the Minneapolis airport to catch a different flight. Starting out on a trip after not sleeping for a day isn’t ideal, but as I look through our photos, I realize how lucky we were during that trip as well. My husband and I were among the 30% of the people traveling to Denali that got to see the entire mountain top. (Clouds usually obscure it.) 

I was also lucky during a panning-for-gold attraction. I sifted out several gold flakes, enough to add an impressive amount to the glass bubble earrings I bought. And I was extremely lucky to be working out on the cruise ship’s treadmill, looking out the huge picture window, when a whale breached right in front of me. Would I trade those experiences for a shinier vehicle? No way.

My husband and I booked the trip, which we’ll take in May, making a decision that is sure to shape our lives. I’m already happily anticipating all we’ll learn, see, and experience. That is, if our poor old car can make it to the airport.

6 Replies to “Decisions Shape Us”


Amy, you will love the river cruise. We went with Avalon River cruises the first week iof May few years ago. Out travel agent planned 3 extra days in Amsterdam with tours of Keukemhof Gardens, Haier Castle, and Amsterdam. We were fortunate that they had an extended spring and Keukemhof Gardens were unbelievable.
You will love your river cruise!!!
Don and I are going to Norway this fall and looking forward to making great memories!

Thanks for the reply, Vickie. We’re on our last day of the tour and we loved it. The cooler spring allowed us to see the tulips when they were fresh. We traveled with a great group of people and made many great memories.

Loved this one, Amy; it so perfectly captures indecision–the tantalizing tugs of desire battling the weight of being responsible. I’m glad you decided to go with your heart rather than your head.


Thanks for the reply, Gayle, and you’re right that sometimes making decisions based on our hearts is the better way to go.

Sue Berk Koch

Fun post, Amy! Go with your heart is sage advice. Have fun on your trip.

Thank you, Sue. Our “hearts” often have good instincts, don’t they?

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