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Life is a Highway

This is is story about something that happened to me this fall. I started to write about it when it happened but I didn’t finish it because 2023 was quite possibly the busiest year I have ever had. I have time now and so I feel compelled to share it with you.

In October, I was driving home from an all day meeting in Syracuse. Some of you may be aware that I have a full time job in addition to my readings and classes. It makes for an extremely busy life. 

I left home before dawn to attend this meeting. This was not the first time I had left home in the dark to get to a meeting for my job. I picked up a colleague along the way so the drive there was pleasant and easy. My colleague had plans in Syracuse that weekend so she stayed back while I made my way home. 

For information sake, Syracuse is about two and a half hours from my home near Buffalo. I was all set for the drive home. I had a bottle of water, a granola bar and a pear. I cued up a podcast and was ready to go! 

I was barely 4 minutes out of the parking ramp when I heard that tell tale unmistakable really loud noise that accompanies a busted tire. I looked to the right of me on this multi-lane highway identifying the vehicle I was convinced was in trouble. “That guy in the truck better get his tires checked," I thought. The speed limit was 65 mph which in New York State means most people are going 75 or 80. Smugly, I kept driving. The noise only got louder and that truck was gone. My throat went dry when I realized it was me who had better check their tires. 

I was on the far left lane on the I690. I pulled over to the shoulder which was really more of a small patch of road outside of the median. There was barely room to safely pull over. I sat there for a minute registering all that was occurring. I have never been good in a crisis. 

I put my flashers on and called my husband. Always the calm Libra rising person, he says, “Did you get out to look at the tire? Can you drive off the road?” 

Me, the never calm Aries person, took this as an insult. “NO, I did not and no I cannot get off the road!” I imagine I was yelling. 

He then told me to calm down. That was it, he was not going to be the one to help me here. I hung up. I sat in the car as it shook from passers by.

What I wanted was for him to drive immediately, two and half hours to me, to rescue me and solve my problem, to end this minor tragedy I was experiencing.

I did get out of the car after that. As each car drove past, the car continued to shake and I decided it was not safe to be there either. After assessing that my tire was indeed flat, I climbed over and stood in the middle of these two short metal guardrails. This felt safer than the car somehow. Except now when the people passed me by, I got a faceful of dirt and dust plus I could physically feel the velocity of the cars and trucks. In addition, I was feeling that old familiar feeling. My delicate nervous system was slowly frying itself up. My inner yoga teacher knew I needed to breathe and get grounded; my actual body was absolutely not on board with that. 

In near full panic at that point, I called my ex-husband. He is a police officer and in spite of the many ways we have failed each other over the years, he is in fact good in a crisis and always seems to know someone who can help. 

He contacted the local police department where I was broke down to get the name of their local tow driver. Evidently most departments have one, a regular person they call for tows. Fun fact for future use in case you need it. This seemed a better option than Triple A. I was on a state highway and there are rules after all. There also was no shoulder on the side where I was parked. My tire was not just flat, it was shredded. I was really in a pickle.

The best part was that I had two clients that night at home expecting readings. There was absolutely no way I would get to them in time and so I quickly made a couple of texts about that as well. 

All I could think of as I stood there feeling helpless was that I had packed ten pounds of crap in a five pound bag and this was the universe stepping in to let me know it was time to pull back. Ok, fine. When, if, I got home, I would clean it up somehow. 

My ex husband told me to call 911. There was no way I would get off that highway on my own. Fine, I called 911. Oddly, 911 put me on hold but then a lovely operator got on the phone quite quickly. She asked if I was still in the car. I said no, since that didn’t feel safe. She wasn’t sure if my standing on the side of the road was safe. Somehow the small metal guardrails I hid behind did not feel very sturdy either. She asked if I had a red car. I said, “yes, that’s me”. Evidently others had already called to say I was in trouble. That was nice I thought. Officers were on the way she said, but she wanted to stay on the phone with me until they arrived. Just to be sure. You know, because the metal barrier wasn’t all that safe.

The officers did arrive promptly in two cars and they asked a lot of questions. I needed to drive the car off the road they said. I was not on board. The rim would bend I thought. I have no idea about cars mind you but in the moment, I was sure this would really jack things up. The first officer politely argued with me and told me just to drive slow. Drive slow I thought, as cars are flying by at 80 with three lanes to cross?

They were going to flank my car, be my wingmen so to speak. I needed to start slow, and one would have them would come behind me with their lights on and the other would follow slowly going out farther to basically shut down the road. 

My eyes probably grew wide. This all sounded like lunacy to me. Slow down this whole highway at near rush hour with people going 80 so I can get off the busy road? These thoughts floated through my head and many others. My nerves were still on high alert. 

“Ok,” I said. “I guess I have no other options.” They agreed. “The rest stop is just up the hill,” the first officer said. “There is a boat launch right there.” 

If they could get me there, I would be safe for a tow truck to help me out. 

Great. Let’s do it. 

This had Michael Landon from ‘Highway to Heaven’ moments written all over it. Here’s how I saw it:

I needed first, to ask for help. Gulp. Hard enough for me to do. 

Then I need to trust that these two officers would be my wingmen and I could get off the busy highway with my very destroyed tire to the boat launch where a tow truck driver, yet to be named, would come help me get home. 

Sure. Let’s go. What did I have to lose?

And so I started her up. This is the only car I have ever had as an adult that is paid in full. I have had this one since 2017. I have also never kept a car this long. I like the fact that my mother rode in this car with me at some point. In that sense, it is a keeper. 

I drove 11 miles an hour, watching as the police slowed traffic so that I could get to the exit. about 300 yards up. The boat launch was just up ahead as promised. The car and I arrived in one piece and the officers took off. It was the most beautiful October afternoon and the scenery was just glorious at the boat launch. How I went from utter chaos, with high speed passersby shaking my car and dirt in my face just minutes before to this highly serene place was unfathomable.

The boat launch at Onondaga Lake

There even were clouds that looked a little like angel wings to my Pollyanna brain.

You see it, right?

Moments later I was informed the tow driver would be there any minute. Great. While I waited, a man who appeared to work at the boat launch pulled up.

“How long are you planning to stay here,” he asked.

There was no one else in the entire lot which could easily hold 75 cars.

“Um, not sure, I am waiting for a tow driver, shouldn’t be long,” I replied. 

He shook his head at me. “You drove on this way too long.”

Annoyed, I said, “No, I drove on it until it exploded. Just now, on the highway. My tire light didn’t even go on!” 

Why did I need to explain myself to this guy anyway? Judge not sir…

In truth, my tire light hadn’t gone on. Not that day anyway. It went on several times earlier in the year. I even had it checked at my last oil change. They said it needed to be resealed, or something like that, and they fixed it. The light did not come on again. Sometimes, I would argue, most times, you don’t get a warning when things are going to blow up.

I shrugged at him and he got in his truck to leave. Thanks for your help pal, was all I could think.

Just then the tow driver showed up. This was the true Highway to Heaven moment as it turned out. 

He was a super nice guy. He changed my tire in minutes and then, because he was nice, he told me he didn’t like the air pressure in my spare and wanted me to follow him to the gas station to fill it. Given that my spare was 6 years old and I have 150 miles to get home, I took him up on it. 

I had not paid him a single dollar at this point. He didn’t know me. I could have gotten in the car and left him in the dust. 

Of course I didn’t. I followed him to the gas station and he filled my tire for me. I went to the ATM and gave him cash, more than he asked for and he was so gracious. He tried not taking my money. I wouldn’t have it. 

As he left, I went into the station to get more water and use the rest room. 

My nerves as it turned out, were still spun out. “Drive slow,” he had told me. Not to worry I thought, I would really prefer a nap right now, but slow it shall be. 

And so I made my way home. I drove 50 mph all the way home. Even better, a man driving a horse trailer got behind me exiting about halfway in Rochester. I liked knowing I had yet another wingman as I made my way home, in the dark, just as I had left. 

My very Libran husband made sure I had dinner when I got home and a hot cup of tea waiting for me. 

It was so lovely to be home safely. I was grateful for all who had been involved in this situation and was absolutely spent from the 16 hour day I had. 

The next day I took it to the tire place near my house to get new tires. I walked home because it was still nice out and I didn’t want to sit at the tire shop. Also, because the yoga teacher in me knows that movement takes away trauma. It was maybe a 20 minute walk but it did require about 5 minutes on a very busy road. The feeling of the cars swiftly driving by was too much for my fragile nerves. “Too soon,” I thought as I made my way back home.

Why am I sharing this story right now?

Well for one, I have the time to tell it. But also because there was so much learning in that experience for me that I feel compelled to share.

Here are my takeaways:

  • You can only run on empty for so long before your tire blows (figuratively speaking). 

  • Sometimes you do need to ask for help and then trust it when it arrives

  • You don’t always get a warning when things are about to blow up.

  • You can feel like you are at the end of your rope and then a beautiful rest stop is just ahead over the hill.

  • People are mostly really kind and want to help you. 

  • There are some things you can’t do alone.

  • Also, most importantly, our nervous systems need time to recalibrate. Everyday. Not just after times of extreme stress. 

I could go on and on, but these were the big ones for me.

What did I actually do about this? I cut back my calendar and I made more time for me. I had surgery looming and I wanted to be as unstressed as possible as I rolled into that. 

Oddly, my schedule filled up more on the days I was seeing clients. Because those days were limited, it gave me more freedom to also tend to myself. I was intentionally more efficient in doing that. I also realized I need to say NO a whole lot more than I was doing. 

It is New Year’s Eve as I write this, more than 2 months after this happened. I want this as a place holder for me, and maybe for you, that you don’t have to do all the things just because we are starting a New Year. You are great just the way you are. You don’t need resolutions, you don’t need reinvention, you don’t need to climb every mountain. You just need to lean fully into joy and let your body be your guide. It will never let you down, I promise. Give it the time and space it needs and it will serve you well.

I wish you a happy, healthy, well paced, balanced 2024. I hope it is filled with joy and love and learning. I am grateful for each and every one of you.

Love, Christy


P.S. For my Astrology people, this occurred just before the eclipse in October which was in Libra. I am an Aries Sun so this was directly impacting my Sun (Libra and Aries are on the same axis). Also the Sun is my time lord this year so anything that happens to the Sun will affect me more this year. (Wonder what this means? Every year, one planet is the boss of us. Mine is the Sun this year. Anything that happens to the planet in question will affect you more.) There was another aspect between my progressed moon and Saturn in my progressed chart too. This was absolutely a Saturnian moment if ever there was one. Saturn is our great teacher and loves to invite us to slow our roll and recalibrate. Message received Saturn!

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