Sunday, July 30, 2017

and you blink....

I was writing a different blog in my head last evening.  Zipping along Hwy 367 from Alton with the Hubs on the back of our bike.  Enjoying what had been an amazing day.  Even for a work day.

I was watching the sun starting it's decline to the west of us.  I was relaxed and laughing.  Hubs and I had been making memories.  Ironically, I read something just this morning that summed up my feelings of late.  None of our books are finished and we should all spend our time writing amazing chapters!  It isn't about the happy "ending", it's about the story.

The area we were in is not a particularly safe stretch of road.  It's heavily traveled and a lot of time by vehicles that are ignoring basic safety standards.  There are also more than a few high speed incidents in that area.  So even though we were enjoying the end of a great day, we were also very much on point with being aware of our surroundings.  Being on a motorcycle can often make you invisible. Especially to a distracted driver.

That's when it happened.

In the blink of an eye, a nano-second. The grey car on the other side of the median flipped, axles broken, parts flying, laundry flying, glass everywhere, dust clouds rising from the impact.

Hubs and I are both rescue trained.  Our jobs require it. It is something neither of us ever wants to use. As he pulled the bike to the side of the road we both took off running across all the lanes of traffic.  My job was to call 911, whoever was in that vehicle was going to need a lot of help. I watched cars start pulling off and people start running.  No one knowing if the vehicle would burst into flames or simply lay there upside down.

Not knowing what they would find when they arrived.

I stayed on the phone with emergency services.  They lifted the car and got the young woman out. A child really.

I prayed. I sent out a request for prayers.

I don't know the end result.  I am still praying.  I am fearful for her.

Hubs tried to get them to hear his words.  The panic stricken good Samaritans. He pleaded with them to simply extract her and lay her on the ground.  She was conscious, she was breathing, she was talking.

Please don't move her far, don't bend her.  You don't know what kind of damage she's sustained.  Keep her flat and still.  The words of too many training's echoing in both of our heads.  Me relaying the scene before me to the 911 operator, her voice telling me to have them stop moving her around. No one hearing the warnings.

Hubs was standing near, he watched the man intent on rescuing her scoop her up like a small child that's skinned her knee.  He saw the blood, he saw the moment her head slid back as she became unconscious.  Continuing to plead with them to lay her still, put her gently into a rescue position.

As another woman rushed over and put her head in her lap and held her in a position that was potentially blocking her airways if not damaging internal organs or putting pressure on any fractures in her neck, head or spine.  I cried.

I cried and I prayed.  I'd told EMS, please hurry.  They are trying to help, but they could seriously be hurting her worse.  I prayed that she wouldn't throw up, knowing the angle that they were holding her would suffocate her.

And I prayed for wisdom for those wonderful people that only wanted to help.

I've never seen a car that destroyed in an instant.  She wasn't wearing her seat-belt.  She was looking down at the phone in her hand.  She was merging into traffic off an elevated entry ramp and went over the side.

I needed a prayer army for her.  I needed to know the people that I trusted the most to lift that sweet young woman up could help.  I posted a simple plea on Facebook.  I was trying to be calm.  Watching the chaos and suffering, I needed to find peace. I simply typed Pray!!! I knew those that would, their responses assured me that they did.

Were they praying for that sweet little girl ironically lying waiting for medical on the very median that she'd flown over in her car?  No, how could they, they didn't know.  But all of us need prayer.

Once EMS had arrive, officers had relieved Hubs in his bright white shirt in the fading sunlight from directing traffic around the scene, we got back on our bike and left.

The joy of the day had been sucked away.  Our regular caution when riding was now amplified by the adrenaline rush of the past 30 minutes.  The sun sinking rapidly into the horizon and us still 30 minutes from home.  Riding at dusk gets more hazardous.  People pay less attention as the sky transitions, the sun momentarily blinding you at random intervals.

We were heading home, chilled externally by the cool day - so rare for July in the Mid-West, and internally by knowing all that had potentially gone wrong. Both of us knowing we had done all that we could and also knowing it wasn't enough to protect her from further harm. But St. Louis being what it is, and us being where we were, it was ALL we could do.

During a moment when I was praying silently on the back of the bike, asking God to help us accept what we'd just been a part of.  To be at peace with whatever would happen from there.  To know that we had done all we could.  Just then... on that wide stretch of highway, by then we were on the loop around this big, small city, which was oddly empty a small black Toyota pulled up alongside of us.

In the midst of a swirl of chaos and emotion, I heard a small voice say look to your left.

There in that car were two people that I adore!  They work for my Y.  He's a Pastor at a church in Ferguson or Florissant (I believe), when he isn't wowing everyone with his skills in Kickboxing.  And she's a personal trainer by trade, a life changer by nature. Gentle and kind, they both have a life mission of doing good.  And out of the blue, we are traveling the highway together side by side.

I felt calm.

In her smiling face and his laughing eyes (he's one of the few people I know who's eyes genuinely smile and sparkle when he smiles) I felt calm.  As we waved and greeted each other the moment of fear, grief, anxiety and angst was gone.

I believe God speaks when we are quiet and listen.  I know he does. A long time ago I turned everything over to him.  I was too overwhelmed and collapsing on myself from trying to go against his will. When I gave in, when I softly said "It's yours".

My world opened.

He brought me Hubs.

He has guided me and takes care. You just have to be silent and listen with your heart. Last night, I immediately felt calm.

Today I woke up praying for that young woman.

I also feel there is a lesson to be learned. As I also believe very strongly that we are put where we are for a definite reason. Nothing is an accident.

I am going through a few struggles right now.  There is a stormy sea.  I am trying to navigate and walk a path that is fraught with challenges.

I am making changes in my and my surroundings.  I am writing my story.  I am growing.

The story isn't about the ending.  It's about the pages in between.

Each of us are on a journey.  No one person is more important than the other.  No one person needs to consume all the resources and energy from the room.  My needs, your needs, everyone's needs are great at different moments and less at others. And somewhere in the messy middle, if you are willing, there is a happy spot.

Right now, I'm struggling with things in my bubble that are draining.  There are things going on that are zapping the energy stream.  In the same way a phone charger just plugged in and not charging anything puts a strain on the greater flow of electricity.

I have a task I need to complete today that is draining my energy.  Too much time, attention and energy are being directed into something I cannot change, impact or redirect.  I can't find the phone to plug into that energy stream.

So for a few more moments today while Hubs is off working at one of his branches, and I am getting ready to drive into the city to work at mine, I'm going to savor the quiet.  I'm going to be silent and listen.  Sip my coffee and reflect on the brilliantly swirling chaos that is my beautiful life.

I need to untangle a few pieces.  I need to sort through the path forward. And while I'm at it, continue to pray.

What about you?  Are you writing your story?  Or are driving distracted down the highway of life?

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

14 years down...

When you are that person... the one who never remembers until the last minute.  The one that cannot remember the day of the week or how to plan ahead, it is highly stressful being married to someone that is not.

Hubs and I are celebrating our 14th anniversary today.  I would love to be spending a leisurely day with him, doing things we want to do.  But life doesn't always cooperate.

I woke up shortly before my alarm went off after a very fitful night sleep, I'm afraid to see what my fit-bit recorded, to the light being turned on and being handed my glasses.  Mr. Wonderful had again found the perfect time to go card shopping, because for him that is seriously a thing, and had made a special trip at some point while I was working no doubt to buy my gift and he couldn't wait a minute longer to give me either!

Me on the other hand... I think the last thing I pre-planned was our wedding.  Or possibly the trip to Germany 5 years ago.  I have long since lost the skill that is required for such punctuality. I was always terrible with cards and mailing gifts.  But now, I am so wrapped up in survival mode that I seem to forget the most important things!

In all fairness, his gift is coming.  It's still in New Mexico most likely, but it is coming!  And he is going to love it!

As I was preparing my Facebook post for him this morning, I realized that he's been challenging me to step outside of the very tight box that I have spent most of my life living in since day one!

I mean seriously?  I got married to this adventurous loving man on horseback! And the closest I'd ever come to riding a horse was feeding them at the fairs and in the fields.  They terrify me.  They are huge and definitely have a mind of their own.  Back then, my health was still really a hot mess and the tremors hadn't yet stopped, much less having an ability to speak correctly.  Yet, I climbed on back of that beautiful beast and trusted.

I've been doing a lot of trusting since I married Hubs.  Even before. If you had told me 15 years ago that I would one day strap on a helmet, sometimes without, and get on the back of a motorcycle for a days ride, I would have assured you that you were beyond insane!  And I do mean BEYOND! And yet, I will take any opportunity to go riding with Hubs.  I will drink my wine and let the wind blow past me in wild abandon and never hesitate.

He's coaxed me up to the top of a mountain in a gondola and down a zip line in the dark (I believe that I have mentioned that I am absolutely terrified of heights - correct?), but I assure you he will never convince me to jump out of a plane.  That is one step past crazy and into insanity with no hope of return.

When it comes to myself, I am not a risk taker.  I tend to walk the straight and narrow.  I am more of a fearful person.  Always needing to follow the rules.  Never able to let go.

He's taught me that it's okay to take a chance, a risk, to spread your wings and fly like an eagle. He's been my fountain of courage, strength and love.  From the day I told him I would never trust another man, nor would I ever get married again.  It simply wasn't happening.  

Sure we fuss at each other.  We have moments that we absolutely question (usually only for a few hours at the most) what in the world we were thinking.  And then we talk it out, sometimes via text, because its such a raw, deep and passionate emotion that we can't trust face to face words.   But we always end up back where we started.  Two halves of our whole!

I was married before, I struggled to imagine a future after our children were grown.  Now, I jealously guard each moment.  We day dream about retirement, trips, the next decades... I fear one reason that I struggle with his continual announcements that he'd like to retire is because I don't want to face the fact that my sweetie is older than me, that eventually, I will walk this walk alone.

I need that next 20 or so years... and I fully intend to have it!

I am blessed.  God sent me the perfect person to love for the rest of my days.  I look back on all the days and nights I spent praying and trusting God to do his will.  As I struggled to survive what I thought were the darkest days of my life.  I trusted and walked away as a person.  Between God and Hubs...

Pure Love....

Thursday, July 20, 2017

life's a journey...

Holy COW!  Has it really been almost six weeks since I've sat still in the morning, savored my coffee and done a serious brain dump?  Don't know if you've figured it out yet or not, but that is truly what this blog is about.  It helps me face life, deal with challenges, emotions, think things through, find my own compass.  The past six weeks almost seven weeks have been crazy intense, many things that I love have been sitting dormant, waiting for me to return to me.

I think I am getting there.  I couldn't sleep for almost two straight nights, the cicadas have been roaring, the song of their people is wearing on my nerves.  I am also not a fan of the Midwest heat.  Which if you have followed me for any length of time you already know.  So when the thermostat on my car dash tells me that even though my sweet little air conditioners is keeping me comfy at 70 degrees the air outside is a blistering 103, my mood sinks a bit. And... it's summer.

During the summer I rarely see my girls.  My daughter is a traveling fool in the summer.  Normally it is only a bit sad, this year with my newest grand baby changing almost daily, I am at least thankful she is an avid poster on Facebook. I feel like I am missing out on so much. Fall will arrive and life will slow down for her again.

I haven't had a chance to see my son for over a year.  Again, this is terribly sad for me.  I am "that" mom.  I never fully developed a me that didn't involve that in my "job description".  Who knows, maybe it is delayed empty nest syndrome.  Whatever it was it sure was causing me the blues this past week.

Yesterday, I felt an overwhelming sense of loss.  If I hadn't had so much to tackle, I am fairly sure I would have called in needing a mental health day.  Luckily, I needed to be busy. As I got into my car feeling pretty darn weepy and depressed I thought about calling a few folks, Bluetooth is an amazing invention for those of us with more to accomplish in a day than hours permit. I thought about doing a million things.  Instead I turned up the music for my 40 minute commute.  Hubs has been buying me a collection of new CD's lately, yep some of us still use CD's. Yesterday it was Sheryl Crow's newest.  

Initially I hadn't wanted to listen to it.  Frankly, I tend to shy away from artists that get too political, on either side of the spectrum.  Mainly because I will gladly read your comments, listen to you, speak with you etc, but I am not going to pay you for them. Just a personal quirk, and I'd already read some strong words regarding this album from her.

Luckily, I seriously enjoy her music and this was no exception.  Driving in I listened, rather loudly, to the words, the thoughts, the melodies.  So much of it spoke to me.  To where I am now in my own life, to my own quandaries and struggles. It soothed and uplifted me.

I needed that 40 minutes.

I've been doing a lot of reading in the few moments I've had to myself lately.  I've juggled a lot of minor struggles and some major ones.  I've closed a Y and opened a new one.  I have said goodbye to long time co-workers and welcomed new ones.  I have been working more hours than I thought were humanly possible, on relatively limited sleep and an even worse diet. I'd forsaken working out and I wasn't doing really good with  remembering to drink water.  I was neglecting my Hubs, my kiddo's, and my dogs.  Mostly, I was in survival mode.  My boss keeps calling it a marathon.  It sure felt like a six week sprint, but I totally understand what he was saying.

Three weekends ago I finally took some time off, four glorious days.  My boss insisted that I not answer emails, the phone, text messages, etc unless direly important.  I am thinking he could see the cracks that were forming around the edges. My core staff and I were all starting to get a bit crackly and crabby.  The strain was showing.  I am thankful for a leader that forced me to refocus.

It's been a slow process coming back from that.  It feels almost like weaning yourself from a bad habit. June was the crazy marathon.  July has been about refocusing, about making those changes that need to happen.

Slowly Hubs and I have started to live a normal life again.  I've started to cook, almost thought I forgot how, we are both back on track to continue our healthy lives.  Not the average new American lifestyle. Breakfast is in our kitchen, lunches are usually packed (although today we have the opportunity to have lunch together and a salad from Taze' is definitely going to hit the spot), dinner is being cooked together - eaten together at our dining room table.  Minus a few dozen of our new friends that we find at each restaurant.

Last night was the first time we've worked out together again.  I have been participating in classes at my new Y.  I not only want to support my staff team, I also what to be able to speak intelligently to what each class offers. I rarely go to another Y, habit I guess. As I no longer have a pool, it became a necessity.

Hubs has had learning the proper way to swim on his bucket list forever.  And we bought ourselves a season pass to our local outdoor pool as a gift this year.  I love to swim outside, inside - not so much. And he mentioned again how much he'd love to learn to really swim, to glide through the water as smoothly as one of my B's does.  Well, duh, we work for the Y!  Swim lessons are a pretty common occurrence and the new classes were just getting ready to start.

He asked me to come and swim while he took lessons. Don't forget I've run a pool, so I am very familiar with protocol during class times, and after checking with the guard and an instructor I found out that this pool doesn't allow open swim during class times.  I was feeling a bit bummed until I found out there was a deep water aerobics class at the same time.  Problem solved.

Today, I might be regretting that decision a bit following an intense workout on the QueenAx with one of my newest instructors. My arms are feeling a bit like jelly and I am hoping that the class I agreed to take at 4:45 pm today is going to focus more on the legs - they still have some life left in them.

I keep hearing Sheryl's songs in my head.  Several are focusing on finding yourself.  One in particular with an ironic title of "Roller Skate", feels like it could be my anthem. "I want some attention, I want to put you center stage, I don't want competition, so put your phone away." Sound familiar?  I feel like that mantra has been rattling around in my head.  I am working on being more present.

... she states ironically as her phone goes off with another person calling off and needing to change her plans to go to work...

Take some time for you... gotta run...