I don't know about you, but I hate, absolutely hate, when a red emergency light suddenly appears in my car dashboard.
It recently happened when I was in a rush to get to a special event when I was in serious need of what I considered a mini-vacation day.
Food and wine is a casual hobby and I occasionally have the opportunity to be part of a team that puts on high-end outdoor events that feature both.
Flipping rapid-fire through car diagnostics and doing checks and balances to see if the glaring red brake light would turn off, the final verdict according to the manufacturer was to call a tow truck and get the car immediately serviced.
Knowing there was little traffic on the country road route to my destination, in a split-second decision and with a deep breath to anchor in self-control, I decided to very carefully continue on. If I made it there okay, I'd call my mechanic for advice later.
A Day to Remember
I did make it. The rest of the day unfolded with –
• hours of strenuous movement in hot temps with intense sun
• mindfully drinking lots of liquid to stay hydrated
• inability to reach my mechanic or a family member
• sketching out a mental plan for getting the car (and myself) home safely
• a sudden freak accident at the event that involved a lot of guests and EMS vehicles swarming the site
• maintaining calm to help relieve the stress of uninjured guests
• continuing on with the event once it was determined there were no deaths or serious injuries
– until, towards the end of the event, I just had to sit down.
An Odd Experience
My body reacts to pain with rapid heart rate. Although I wasn't in any pain, I'd taken an aspirin earlier to see if that would alleviate the alarming feeling. It didn't.
Team leaders suggested I sit down and hydrate with Gatorade and more water, which I did. It didn't help. Then my body started shaking. As the night-time temps started to cool the air, I was given a blanket. The thought of driving the car home with the red emergency light on added to the anxiety that I was feeling.
Everyone was deeply affected by the pandemonium that happened as a result of the accident and reacted differently behind their "game day" faces. The team leader suggested it contributed to what I was physically experiencing.
As it turned dark and the event set-up was broken down, I continued to sit, drink water and did what I could to self-control breathing between numerous trips to a portable restroom. The shakes continued.
I googled heat exhaustion on my cell phone and found out rapid heart rate could be a factor, so at least I could put a label on what was happening.
Will I Make it Home?
After most of the crew had left the site, I walked a distance with two team members back to the parking lot in the moonlight, backpack on, determined to drive my car home very slowly with emergency flashers on. I knew the roads were desolate at eleven o'clock at night, so probably wouldn't have to engage the brakes very much unless I encountered deer.
My heart rate was still rapid, despite drinking and eliminating tons of water. Luckily my cell phone was charged in the event cell service was available and 911 was needed. I focused on calming my breathing as the miles ticked by, headlights reaching through fog that had settled over meadows of rolling terrain.
As each segment of travel brought me closer to home (mixed with "I can do this" when I started getting lightheaded), I felt a degree of stress lift. I was ready to kiss the ground when the car was finally back in the driveway.
Sleep was disrupted by monster thirst and continuing to hydrate and eliminate. Rapid heart rate and new chest pressure continued into the next day. The shakes mercifully stopped. It helped to debrief recalling the events in a phone call to my mom later in the morning.
Solving a Mystery
While I don't typically spend ten hours straight in the heat and sun while in strenuous motion, I'm in very good condition. What I'd experienced, and was continuing to experience to a lesser degree, was odd and didn't make sense.
Trying to put the puzzle pieces together, I remembered toward the end of the day I'd grabbed unfamiliar cans of what I thought was a cold, carbonated herbal drink that I'd grabbed from a cooler that was on hand for staff.
Doing some detective work, I checked the ingredients online. Turns out this stuff was an exotic energy drink loaded with caffeine and sugar.
When I emailed the team leaders to let them know I made it home okay, I let them know that I felt it was the energy drink that may have been the culprit. I'd learned years ago that my body is sensitive to them in general.
With a thoughtful response, one of the leaders mentioned she had a sensitivity to these drinks as well and that they'd warn people about the potency. It was her belief that since everyone had been impacted by what had happened at the event, it may have been a combination of everything. I agree.
Where the Rubber Hits the Road
Although I've written an SOS Toolkit about how to take care of yourself in challenging situations that's based on personal experience, it's easy to write about experiences in retrospect from a desk.
It's quite another to experience a concentrated series of events that push your limits while remembering to apply the self-care tools you've written about to help others.
The bottom line was to respond with self-control and remain as calm as possible from the emergency light in the car to the events of that day to the disturbing physical reactions I was experiencing.
It's very satisfying to know that just because things go sideways, we can all learn to find that space within ourselves to dig deep and maintain as needed, when needed.
Your comments are welcome.
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My SOS Need it Now! Emotional Feel Better Toolkit™
3 Things You Can Do to Help Yourself Right Now
Do you feel like having control in your life these days is like trying to catch a fistful of feathers in the wind?
Do you feel anxious, frustrated, stressed or angry?
Do you wish that whatever's bothering you would just go away?
Take heart, there’s something you can do. Should you accept this mission, taking steps to claim your personal power requires three things.
Caution: This may fly smack dab in the face of your current beliefs!
1. Go Neutral.
What does that mean?
To take a pass on getting caught up in judging yourself, others, a situation or circumstance.
An Example for You:
Sitting on my couch before the day starts, I can look out and see traffic going by. The way the window is positioned creates a frame for the outside world. I can wake up with my coffee cup while observing a car or truck passing through the “frame.”
There aren't any stories in my head about the vehicles, who’s in them or what they’re doing. It's just about observing what is.
Why is it important?
Like shifting your car, shifting your mind to neutral allows you to choose how to respond. You’re not caught up in your emotions, in a reaction, or judgment. From that space, you can make deliberate choices about where you want to go.
2. Get Centered.
What does that mean?
Calling a time-out with your self-defeating thoughts and actions.
When I was little, my mom would summon us kids and declare Quiet Time. I don’t know if it was because we got totally out of hand or she needed a break (probably both), but we dreaded those words because it meant we had to stop whatever stuff we were into at the moment.
Why is it important?
Quiet Time as an adult is great for your mind, body, and spirit. How often do you make it a priority?
Taking the time to get centered, really centered, allows clearer thinking so you can be calmly effective in your life.
Go Neutral and Get Centered work hand-in-hand:
Both are simple in concept, but take practice to apply. In the words of the iconic song Dream On by Steven Tyler /Aerosmith:
The past is gone, it went by, like dusk to dawn. Isn’t that the way, Everybody’s got the dues in life to pay.
The parallel is that it takes inner work to get your outer reward.
Remember, you can use Go Neutral and Get Centered to take charge of something you can control – you.
When you do that for yourself, through a lens of love and compassion, it ripples. You’re creating an open space to make new choices for yourself.
Zooming out to enfold the bigger picture, when you do that for yourself, it also affects the world around you.
Go Neutral and Get Centered is also a launch pad for beginning to deliberately transform your world.
3. Ask Yourself a Self-Discovery Question:
Are you ready to take another step forward in standing for yourself, standing in your personal power, regardless of what's going on in the world?
I invite you to book a complimentary discovery call with me today.
Just reach out and send a message.
I look forward to listening to you.
Copyright ©2020 Catherine Lenard. All rights reserved.
While there are many variations on the definition of self-awareness, this excerpt from an article by Chopra Center's Leo Carver gives a valuable viewpoint on the difference between self-awareness and self-consciousness:
"The concept of self-awareness is often talked about as if you’re already aware of what awareness is. While the actual definition of the term may be easy to understand intellectually, you have to live it to make it work.
Self-awareness is more than just being self-conscious. These are not interchangeable terms.
• Self-awareness is being aware of your own presence, inside and out.
• Self-consciousness tends to lend itself toward self-judgment and assessment, all too often based on someone else’s perceptions . . .
Self-awareness leads to acceptance as well as a deeper understanding of yourself.
• While self-consciousness is analyzing,
• self-awareness is witnessing.
Higher self-awareness is possible once you cultivate an attitude of love, acceptance, and appreciation for yourself. This is not easy to do, but well worth the effort."
Want to change your life? Self-awareness is key.
Why? Because becoming aware of what you're feeling and doing is a baseline for life change.
Need some help changing your life?
Get in touch.
During a New Year's gathering, a friend, who was experiencing major life transition due to the ending of a significant relationship earlier in the year, mentioned he thought he'd have his post-life figured out by now. As things were currently clear as mud, he said it was in 'God's time.'
Silently translating his comment into my own languaging, I mentioned that's the only time there is. He said he didn't think most people knew that.
Whatever your belief system may be or what you may call a Higher Power, All That Is, Source, Creator, Universe, etc., frustration and anxiety can be soothed when you surrender timing (for what you've deliberately — or not so deliberately set into motion) to that unseen force in your life that’s always in your corner despite your current perception of outside events.
Growth may need to occur within you, circumstances worked out with those already in your life or people you’ll eventually connect with. Resistances you may have to receiving what you’ve asked for may need to be brought into your awareness and smoothed.
Having the self-awareness to remind yourself that things will eventually work out in their right and proper time — as you do your part — can take the edge off frazzled emotions, particularly when there’s been significant change.
Keeping faith and the expectation that what you need and want in your life is coming in the perfect time and way can do wonders in helping you relax into your New Year.
All is well!
PS: Would love to hear your comments. If you have a question or would like to leave a comment, please click on the comment box or social media icons below. Thx!
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