Recently, I received my first ticket in 39 years. Back in 1983, it was for speeding in Batesville, MS. I wasn’t supposed to be in Mississippi or in the car I was driving, but that’s another story.
This time, I was about 50 yards from my house in downtown Memphis. There’s never much traffic, so I eased up to the 4 way stop, saw no other cars, and moved forward. Immediately, there were flashing blue lights in my rearview mirror so I pulled over to let them pass. They didn’t.
A very kind police officer approached my car to tell me I’d “failed to come to a complete stop”. I expressed surprise, said I was sorry, told him about my decade’s perfect record, and gave him my license.
Soon he returned to give me a “citation”. I thanked him for his kindness and giving me another chance. I wonder what he thought about my joy. Citation: “a summons, especially to appear in court”. This definition was not on my mind’s radar.
For decades, I’d annoyingly bragged about my rosy record. Truth is, I’d not been stopped, until that day, for other things I’d also permitted myself to do because everyone else does them.
Two weeks later, I arrived home after a busy day. I was carrying too many things including my phone as I was talking to my sister, Marilyn.
It was the Monday after Thanksgiving. My calendar’s pace had accelerated because a last minute, much needed, vacation had been sandwiched between a ridiculously impossible to do list and the action packed holidays. In my mind, I had no time to come to a complete stop.
Our two pups greeted me with love. After a quick potty break outside, they politely sat for their treats. While still moving at the “necessary to accomplish a ridiculous amount of things” pace and still talking to my sister, I put two treats in my hand. One for Belle, my 11 pound, 16 year old malti-tzu and one for Louie, our son’s 85 pound three legged yellow lab rescue who needs meds 6 times a day. One of the treats in my hand had his seizure meds inside.
In my haste, I gave them each other’s treats.
I realized it immediately and told my sister. Thanks to her swift thinking and encouragement, I had Belle at our vet around the corner in minutes. The vet induced vomiting, started meds and fluids. He said they’d keep her overnight.
Again, I thought this would be a warning for me to slow down. Instead he told me Belle might not make it because of her age and the dosage. Belle had received 10 times the amount of Kepra for her weight. The dosage was lethal.
I watched as my beautiful, little, furry muse slowly drifted into a sleep she might never awake from, because of me.
The Emergency Room
Two weeks later, my husband, Art, and I went on our first real vacation in many years. That’s a luxury anytime. This time a spiritual guide and friend, Bee, encouraged the adventure for the benefit of our marriage. Traveling together is our relationship’s zen.
After a long day of travel through storms and delays we arrived in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Art chose to rest before dinner while I wandered through old town and galleries for a few hours. It was all so beautiful.
I met Art for dinner by a warm fireplace at the hotel. We were so excited to have made this happen with Christmas just 12 days away.
When we returned to our room, I didn’t feel well. I had a bit of numbness, vertigo, pain, and weird sensations here and there. It was bad enough that I mentioned getting medical help, but decided it was just all of what we’d gone through to get there.
Morning brought a different story. I was not OK. I called a medical professional who told me to call 911. We were only 6 mins from the hospital. Art got us there quicker than that. I immediately was taken into triage for possible heart attack or stroke.
My body had brought my self to a complete stop. She had had it with me and my pushing through everything.
For the next 5 hours, I remained calm and surrendered. I can’t imagine a better team of medical professionals or hospital to be in, on the vacation I’d felt so desperate to go on, than Christus St. Vincent. Even the exam room curtains were a thoughtful picture of the mountains.
~The night of the traffic citation, I went online and paid my fine.
~The morning following Belle’s overdose, the tech called to tell me my tough little pup could come home. She remained groggy for three more days. The thought of having possibly killed her changed me.
~ Thankfully, I had not had a stroke or heart attack. The rest of our vacation was a bit slowed down from the original plan, but it became just what we needed. I am still not sure what happened though I know part of it was my lack of rest, too much stress, and my life long pattern of not coming to a complete stop even when life’s signs tell me to.
~Combined, the three situations came with an expensive financial price to pay,
but the stop sign, the wrong meds, and the ER each could have had tragic endings.
I’m so grateful they didn’t.
~I see patterns in flowers, trees, words, rhythms, etc.. I knew there was a pattern within me, perhaps environmental and/or genetic, influencing my behavior. I asked a couple of experts, my older sisters, Marilyn (Mares) and Sherry for their insights.
Me: “Mares, do you remember me taking naps as a kid? Did I rest?”
Mares: “I have no memory of you ever napping or resting. You were always outside, or visiting people, or doing something. I don’t even remember you ever stopping”
Me: “Sherry, do you remember…”
Sherry: “No, you were always entertaining us to help keep everyone happy so our family would stay together.”
~Now is the time in my life I was meant to notice this. I’m learning that my version of slowing down is the “not coming to a complete stop” kind.
~My desire to learn to come to a complete stop and learning to intentionally rest might be surprising to some. I have habits that include writing poetry, meditation, stillness, quality sleep, and silence. I now see that I’ve become a disciple to my disciplines and routines. That’s where the gift of even a slight shift around this will alter my life. For me, to learn to stop is to learn to rest within, to restore and reignite what is weary, what I most dream of, the wholeness of my integrity, honesty beyond pleasing others with my yes’ and no’s, and so on…
~Last night, I began a class led by my dear friend and mentor, Jen Trulson, called “Rest to Remember: a 21- Day Dare to Rest Journey”. Today is day 1.