When Emergency Strikes, Don’t Have Too Much Baggage

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Whew! My heart-rate is just coming back to normal. I had a near-death experience this evening.

On a dark and stormy afternoon, I was in my work vehicle driving away to leave my day job and heading to my night job at the gym to teach a yoga class. My iPhone siren blared that the weather was threatening impending doom of flash floods and we were all in danger in the metropolitan area! I ignored it and kept on trucking, lest I be late for job #2.

Going up the hill to get onto the freeway, several cars ahead of me were stalled. My usual route was completely submerged in rainwater. I applied my foot to the gas pedal when suddenly an 18 wheeler came flying down the hill towards me, sending a rivulet towards my work car. An eddy whirled around and my car (which was already on the fritz and was deemed “totalled” last month) suddenly broke down. Water flooded the engine and an “!” red light lit up a warning.

It all came down to panic and drown, or swim out and survive. I tried to open my driver’s door of the Taurus, but water flooded into my seat. I opened the passenger side and lost all of my books and  notes. I barely recovered my lunchbox, purse and empty bookbag. I managed to close the door, thus sweeping in more water. The windows were cracked because the A/C had gone out months ago. I’m sure rain flooded in the windows by now.

The inner mermaid of my soul arose and I swam to the sidewalk, thighs deep in black urban city water. At that moment, I dropped my iPhone underwater on the street. I took a deep breath and fished for it. (Hours later, it started working again, thanks to Mr. Otterbox!).

With my purse, lunchbox, and empty bookbag, I waded waistdeep to the nearest parking lot, full of public transportation buses. It was still pouring down torentially as I made this bold attempt to safety. Meanwhile, I was flailing my arms in the SOS position above my head, begging anyone to help. No boats were nearby, and that’s precisely what was needed. I tried not to blink too hard because my contacts were getting soaked and I almost lost them. I’m pretty blind as a bat without glasses or contacts.

Lightning flashed nearby and I thought, “Oh, my God! This is the end! I’m going to drown, get struck by lightning, or get hit by a truck.”

I started to climb into the abandoned public safety bus to wait out the storm. Just then, a man and his little daughter barely drove up to my rescue! I hitchhiked a ride with them back to my parents’ house nearby by way of the interstate. I prayed to God he wasn’t a serial killer or anything. I had my loaded gun just in case, but really he ended up being such a Good Samaritan! I even tried to pay him all the cash in my wallet, but he didn’t take it.

Once I made it to my parents’ house, I dried off, peeling off the wet clothes and putting on spares my mom keeps for me. They fed me and my family. My husband and son greeted me with open arms, and considering I was so shaken, I fell into them.

If I could’ve been a turtle, I would have taken the car with me, putting it on my back. But all I could muster were three measly bags of possessions. Even that was too much! I lost my journal in the flood and several notebooks full of important information. The trunk had popped open so I’m sure someone got all of my clothes and my 2 yoga mats out of the back.

I called a supervisor from my parents’ house and explained the emergency. He was still stuck downtown and drove up to the street nearby with two other stragglers from the office. They saw the Taurus and said it was still very much under water and unable to be towed. I begged the supervisor to salvage my journal and notebooks if he could.

This whole experience taught me a few valuable lessons. For one, don’t have too much to carry, especially in a crisis situation. Two, possessions aren’t people and can be replaced. Three, listen to your dreams. More on that in a sec. And four, it’s ok to rely on strangers for help. And don’t forget to pay it forward yourself!

I awoke from a lucid, horrible nightmare at 4 AM this morning. I had escaped two violent tornadoes and was hiding from both of them in different places. Maybe my dream was a psychic intuitive premonition that something weather-related and awful was about to occur today. I left a cryptic message on my gym’s Facebook page about why yoga was cancelled tonight.

I’m making peace with the fact that my clothes in the trunk, yoga mats, and notebooks (including my sacred journal) are now gone with the flood! I’m also making peace with not having a work-assigned take-home vehicle. I guess I’ll be shelling out my own gas money four days a week for a while.

Moreover, I made peace with God during the emergency. Somewhere between swimming on the streets, avoiding lightning striking nearby, and hitchhiking, my adrenaline skyrocketed! God protected me after all.

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“The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.”- Henry David Thorough, Walden

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Just Go Hiking!

I have recently had many doors shut on me professionally, even though I am still gainfully employed. Last Thursday, I made up my mind to begin a new journey (that which I cannot specifically say on here at this point in time).

However, I did take the first step towards that new goal today.

In passing conversation at work, I spoke with one of my colleagues by the proverbial “water cooler.” I told her of my career woes and glass ceiling.

She said I was far too talented to stick around this place for the remaining 14.5 years I have until retirement. I thanked her, but said I may have something new on the horizon. She advised me to keep it to myself and just let that flower bloom. Then she began this story:

I was visiting with my cousin before she died. My cousin’s son was friends with a young man who, like you, was very intelligent and talented. He got his degree from UAB in graphic design. He would always complain that he couldn’t get a job with his degree. He applied so many different places but no one would take him on.

This young man loved to hike. He would go hiking all the time. One day, he decided to book a trip to go hiking in Colorado. The young man went on a long hike up a mountain. When he climbed down the mountain, he was at a rest area for hikers taking a break. He looked on the bulletin board near the water fountain and saw an ad for a new company that was hiring. It was for none other than a graphic design job at an up-and-coming company. Fate had willed the young man to go hiking at that time to read that very ad. The company was just around the corner; you know how Colorado is!

He wiped the sweat from his brow, ate his protein bar, and went inside the building. The company boss was in at that time and met the young man. He said, “We don’t normally do this, but you can meet with me in my office.”

A few weeks later when the young man returned to Alabama, he was visiting a relative in the hospital. He had to step out of the hospital room to take a phone call. The graphic design company had offered him a position after all!

The young man moved to Colorado and enjoyed his new position. Being an avid Star Wars fan, he was so pleased to find out that his new graphic design company worked with Disney on the newest Star Wars film. The young man was delighted to be in the right place, at the right time, in a job position made for him. He even played a part in creating the newest robot, BB8.

All of this was possible because the young man went on a hike.

So, just go hiking!

I needed to hear this story today more than anything. When something that I am meant to be doing now was suggested to me by my husband, I felt a huge spark. I even broke down crying last Thursday when I made this decision because I felt relieved and pushed in this direction.

But in the meantime, maybe I’ll just go hiking!image


“…some taller mast of a pine, a shingle tree, or a more perfect hemlock than usual, standing like a pagoda in the midst of the woods; and many others I could mention. These were the shrines I visited both summer and winter.”–Henry David Thoreau, Walden

 

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UPDATE: The secret I couldn’t share in this post was that I had applied to law school to begin classes in January of 2017. As fate would have it, the dean of the law school admitted me for this August and I started classes early. It’s everything I’ve dreamed of and more!

Ease On Down the Road…with Detachment and Tranquility

To say I’ve been stressed out lately is an understatement. I know that everyone stresses out some, whether in traffic, or over money, or in social situations. Mine has been work and hobby-related as of late.

This week in particular, I’ve been suffering with anxiety, trying to cope holistically without anything to numb the neuroses. I’ve been implementing yoga, deep breathing, meditation, long walks outside, and adult coloring with markers. It seems we are all faced with demanding minutiae each day that pull at our beings like annoyances, but how we react to the external stimuli determines how much stress we swallow down when it’s all said and done.

I took a break from working this morning to leave my desk. As I let my iPod go on shuffle mode, a long time song popped up to play. It was one I learned in summer theatre camp half my life ago. The song was “Ease On Down The Road” by Michael Jackson and Diana Ross from The Wiz.

ease on down the road

There’s nothing like a little MJ to soothe this very own MJ (my initials too).

I started listening to the lyrics while shaking my booty and it hit me! The song is about detachment from materialism and focusing on mindfulness. It may have been great disco years ago, but there’s a deeper level of advice given by the Prince of Pop and the Queen of Disco.

“Ease on down the road, don’t you carry nothing that might be a load…

Let’s keep moving on the road that you choose don’t you lose no ground…

‘Cause there may be times when you think you’ve lost your mind and the steps you’re taking might be 3 or 4 steps behind but the road you’re walking might be long sometimes. You just keep on stepping and you’ll be just fine…

There may be times when you wish you wasn’t born and you wake one morning just to find that you’re alone. You know that feeling only lasts a while. You just stick with us and we’ll show you how to smile.”

Do we feel entitled to a better life? Being raised in the US, I feel like the American Dream is something we all strive for, like better living, more belongings, fame, fortune, beauty and popularity. But this is all a societal illusion, propagated by the man, big greedy corporations, the media, puppet-masters, and probably the Illuminati. JK

I just realized that I’m not getting any thinner or younger. I recently had a mental meltdown about failures in my career such as the crippling feeling of the glass ceiling. I will never get promoted, never get transferred to a different office, never get a better work vehicle, and never get a better job. Is the grass always greener? I think what the song is telling us is that Dorothy is trying to make her way to Emerald City (greener grass) but she is not focusing on having fun along the journey down the Yellow Brick Road.

The Yellow Brick Road for me has been bumpy these past few years. If I follow the advice of the song, I will implement mindfulness, simplicity, minimalism, and non-hoarding. Does each yellow brick I step on Spark Joy? Am I finding relaxation along the way with the poppy fields of life?

Maybe “Ease On Down The Road” should be my new mantra. It might cure my stress-related IBS-D and help me to lose weight. A laissez faire attitude, a.k.a. sprezzatura helps insulate the anxious ones among us from sweating the small things.

I’ve been a Madonna fan since early childhood. The old brood isn’t making wonderful new tunes all the time these days, but every once in a while, she will pop out a gem.

madonna superbowl

The 2012 song “I Don’t Give A” featuring Nicki Minaj has become one of my other shake-it-off type angry cheers.

I don’t give a fu-u-u-u
I don’t give a fu-u-u-u
I don’t give a fu-u-u-u
I don’t give a fu-u-u-u

Wake up ex-wife
This is your life
Children on your own
Turning on the telephone
Messengers, manager
No time for a manicure
Working out, shake my ass
I know how to multi-task
Connecting to the Wi-Fi
Went from nerd to superb
Have you seen the new guy
I forgot the password
Gotta call the babysitter
Tweetin’ on the elevator
I could take a helicopter
I don’t even feel the pressure

I’m gonna be OK
I don’t care what the people say
I’m gonna be alright
Gonna live fast and I’m gonna live right

I’m moving fast, can you follow my track
I’m moving fast and I like it like that
I do ten things all at once
And if you have a problem
I don’t give a

You were so mad at me
Who’s got custody
Lawyers suck it up
Didn’t have a pre-nup
Make a film, write a song
Gotta get my stockings on
Meet the press, buy the dress
All of this to impress
Ride my horse, break some bones
Take it down a semitone
I forgot to say my prayers
Baby Jesus on the stairs
Gotta sign a contract
Gotta get my money back
All the biters have to go
Standing in the front row

I’m gonna be OK
I don’t care what the people say
I’m gonna be alright
Gonna live fast and I’m gonna live right

I’m moving fast, can you follow my track
I’m moving fast and I like it like that
I do ten things all at once
And if you have a problem
I don’t give a

I tried to be a good girl
I tried to be your wife
Diminished myself
And I swallowed my light
I tried to become all
That you expect of me
And if it was a failure
I don’t give a

I don’t give a fu-u-u-u
I don’t give a fu-u-u-u
I don’t give a fu-u-u-u
I don’t give a fu-u-u-u

Shots fire
Anything you hear Nicki on: that’s fire
You don’t hear them bums on nothing, that’s fire
Tell ’em catch buyer
In the Bugatti, 10 grand, one tire
Ayo Madonna (Yes, Nicki), maybe I say you original, don dada
In that, yeah Gabbana, and the, yeah Prada
We Material Girls, ain’t nobody hotter
Pops collar!
See I really can’t relate to your Volvo
And you can’t get these shoes at the Aldo
When I let a dude go, that’s his loss
I was cutting them checks, I was his boss!
Yo, I don’t give a f-u
Curse nor bless you, never let them stress you
Yo, I ain’t a businesswoman, I’m a business, woman!
And I’m known for giving bitches the business, woman

I’m gonna be OK
I don’t care what the people say
I’m gonna be alright
Gonna live fast and I’m gonna live right

I’m moving fast, can you follow my track
I’m moving fast and I like it like that
I do ten things all at once
And if you have a problem
I don’t give a

There’s only one queen, and that’s Madonna
Bitch!

I don’t give a fu-u-u-u
I don’t give a fu-u-u-u
I don’t give a fu-u-u-u
I don’t give a fu-u-u-u”

I apologize for profanity but I love the song! I reiterate it to myself when I get snagged on a pesky problem at work or in other areas of my life without an immediate fix. It forces me to live in the present and not to give a f*ck about worries I can’t control.

So let’s take a page out of Madonna and Michael Jackson’s lyric books and practice detachment, tranquility, contentment, mindfulness, sparking joy, and whatever other New Age concept you want to throw at the wall and hope it sticks like al dente spaghetti.

MJ and Madonna

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“In any weather, at any hour of the day or night, I have been anxious to improve the nick of time, and notch it on my stick too; to stand on the meeting of two eternities, the past and future, which is precisely the present moment; to toe that line.”- Henry David Thoreau, Walden