Sunday, August 25, 2013

White water rafting during our fantastic vacation!

The Hypnosis Show

All summer long, my husband Bob and I had been struggling to find the perfect spot for our annual family getaway .  Our goal? To carefully accrue our precious time off at work so we could tack on a week's vacation following our daughter Jessica's wedding on August 10 in Virginia.

Bob's original desire to spend a week touring civil war sites throughout the south did not meet with raucous enthusiasm from my 16-year old daughter Melissa...or me.  While I enjoy American history as much as the next guy, the thought of spending our afternoons under the hot summer sun on a civil war battle field, when we could just as well be at the beach...well, you get the picture.

As the weeks inched closer to the wedding, we still had a planned week off with no place to go!  We had been to Disney countless times, same for the Jersey shore. What's more, the myriad of suggestions I provided as an alternative were either deemed:

1. Too expensive by my hubby
2. Too boring by my daughter

Finally, one evening as I scrolled through pages and pages of hotel listing at nearby beach towns, Bob made an "out of the blue" suggestion.

"Why don't you Google the Great Smokey Mountains in Tennesse?"

"Tennesse?" I exclaimed with skepticism. "What in the world could be in Tennessee?"

I typed the unlikely vacation idea into the search engine, and immediately, Google showered me with pages and pages of results for a place called Gatlinburg.

With interest, I clicked on a link, only to discover a town that offered white water rafting, zip lining, amusement parks, arcades, hiking, alpine sledding, a zoo, a wax museum, dozens of restaurants to tap anyone's taste buds, and no shortage of family-friendly evening entertainment!  Upon further research, we discovered some terrific hotels with a host of amenities, offering accommodations that didn't empty our bank account.

When we suggested this seemingly terrific place to Melissa, her response was, you guessed it...

"It sounds boring."

Further conversation revealed that the boring aspect of Gatlinburg did not involve all of the wonderful involved doing all of the wonderful activities with .....(egads) HER PARENTS!

Hmmmmm. Who could we bring with us on our journey that would:

1. Keep Melissa company
2. Not drive us crazy

"I know!" exclaimed Bob.  "How about if we bring the boys?"

The boys, my dear friend Angelica's sons Chris, 16, and Brandon, 14, had become a part of our family over the past year. But would they want to spend a week with us in Tennesee?  The answer, after speaking to their mom....a resounding YES!

So, the morning after the wedding, we packed our three teenagers into the back seat of the car...and away we went!  Each activity-filled day passed much too quickly as Bob and I relished in the kids' adventurous spirit. Our last night in Gatlinburg found the five of us in the audience of a small theater, waiting with anticipation for Guy Michaels, a self-proclaimed hypnotist, to make his entrance.

In response to Guy Michaels request for volunteers, Bob, Chris, Brandon, and I enthusiastically jumped from our seats and ran onto the stage with Melissa, who left the safety of her seat a bit more reluctantly.

Guy Michaels sat each of his "subjects" in a chair and instructed us to sit back, tilt our head and attempt to relax.  He told us to visualize a spot where we felt at peace, an outdoor spot, a happy place. I struggled to find this unspoiled place of perfection.  I imagined various places in my world - the beach, the pool, my patio - with none giving me the serene sense of satisfaction that Guy Michaels had asked us to find.

I should have relaxed.
I tried to relax.
The truth was, I simply could not relax.

The more I heard Guy Michael's voice, the more my daily worries crept into my thoughts, barring all attempts to embrace a hypnotic state.  Feeling like a failure, I dutifully followed Guy Michael's instructions to leave the stage and return to my seat, where I discovered my daughter who, like me, could not find the happy place of hypnosis.

Disappointed, I wondered why the attempts at relaxation resulted in negative images flooding my mind. I felt lucky to be on a fantastic vacation with people I loved, yet I could not escape the stress that plagued my life back home.

Troubled by my mind's refusal to let go,  I instead turned my attention to the nine people who remained on stage, slumped over in their chairs in a hypnotic state...including Brandon, Chris, and Bob.

Melissa and I instantly forgot our failure as we focused on the scene that had unfolded in front of us.  A middle-aged woman had fallen asleep on Chris's shoulder, yet he seemed unaware of her presence. In the meantime, convinced that Bob would break out into his trademark "rock the rafters" snoring, we struggled to stifle our increasingly loud laughter.

As the show progressed, Guy Michaels had his "subjects" act like piano players, dancers, kittens, and body builders. He had them sunbathing on the beach (Chris really acted the part by taking off his shirt), shivering in the rain, and roaring like dinosaurs!  Watching my mild-mannered, couch potato Bob strutting around the stage resulted in panic-stricken laughter that had Melissa and I wiping tears from our eyes.

When the show came to a close, the "subjects" claimed not to remember anything....statements that were not entirely true. Had they been hypnotized? We'll never quite know.  Bob simply explained that because he felt so relaxed, he didn't mind hamming it up for the crowd. So maybe he had, indeed, slipped into a hypnotic state.

As for me, for that delightful hour, while watching the antics of my hubby and my two favorite boys, I embraced a pure, unadulterated place of joy and just laughed and laughed and laughed.

And the laughter knocked the negative thoughts from my mind.

And the laughter kept my stress at bay.

And thanks to the laughter, finally....

I relaxed.

Hmmmm.....perhaps I had been hypnotized after all.

Chris (center) and Bob strut their stuff during the hypnosis show

Brandon becomes a dinosaur during the hypnosis show

A middle-aged woman unknowingly fell asleep leaning on Chris during the hypnosis show