I believe the Universe is constantly sending us signs. Signs to guide us, and signs to help us understand. All too often however, we have so much noise with the activity of our everyday lives that we don’t see those signs. That’s one of the reasons I love road tripping so much – the stillness of the open road time and again has presented so many signs that have helped me create a more authentic, adventurous, and fulfilling life for myself.
My road trip last week quite frankly sucked. I had all but given up finding any sort of sign, but in the end, the sign was there and it was a doozy. I’ll get to that later.
My last post was about the first two nightmarish days of last week’s road trip dealing with scorching temperatures and gridlocked traffic. Suffice it to say that when I wrote that post my nerves were frayed and I was anxious to get to the Midwest where I no longer had to worry about the weather. Famous last words.
When I crossed the border into Iowa I was flooded with relief — relief that lasted all of ½ hour. The sky dramatically went from a poetic ceramic blue to an ominous jet black. Within minutes the granddaddy of all storms hit. Lightning bolts seemed to be hitting the highway in front of me and wind felt like it was going to pick up Princess Leia the Prius and fling her across the Interstate. With next to no visibility from the pounding rain, I pulled into a gas station parking lot where I waited for close to two hours for the slow moving severe thunderstorm to pass.
Unfortunately, this storm was lollygagging on the exact route I needed to drive, leaving flash flooding in its wake. This means that the rest of the day involved me leap frogging with the storm. I’d catch up to it, and then have to wait it out at a rest stop or gas station until I could get on the road again, only to catch up to it yet again and have to pull over and wait it out a second, third and fourth time. I was so relieved when we reached our hotel that I nearly wept when Yoda and I walked into the lobby. Unfortunately, adding insult to injury, it turns out that I mistakenly made my reservation for the wrong month. Thankfully they had a room available and let us stay.
The next morning I woke up at 5am and checked the radar on my phone. A huge storm cell had just passed, and an even bigger one was on its way. The weather forecast showed that the thunderstorms were once again slow moving and were continuing along my route to Wisconsin. I leaped out of bed and loaded the car in record time. I wanted to beat the huge storm behind us. My heart was racing and I was in near tears about the weather forecast when walking Yoda before we started driving. And that’s when I finally saw my sign. We walked around a non-descript building next to the hotel and there we saw a couple wooden cutouts of a cowgirl and cowboy holding a sign that said “Cowboy Church.” One of my all-time favorite road trip experiences was during my five month road trip when I met an Alabama cowboy named Wade who taught me the importance of living with the cowgirl spirit. Here again was a reminder of that: I needed to be brave, courageous, and power on through another day of difficult driving. I needed to have faith and embrace my inner-cowgirl.
Once on the road, I quickly caught up to the storm cell ahead of us. This led to a second day of leap frogging with the storm. By the time I finally reached my parents’ Wisconsin lake house, my hands were shaking and I was in near melt-down mode.
Here’s the problem with that: Yoda by nature is a very anxious dog. He feeds off my emotions which makes his anxiety escalate. Given that my natural set point seems to have always been a low level worrying state, he’s been a great dog for me to have because I’ve worked hard over the years to keep my emotions calm in order to keep him calm. It’s rare these days that I get as amped up as I did on this road trip. But because I did, by the time we arrived at my parents’ house and got Yoda out of the car, he took all the fear and anxiety he had spent four days absorbing from me and started to run around at record speed. Unfortunately, now that he is older, when he runs that fast he has a seizure. And that’s exactly what happened – I caught him as he went down and held him in my arms until he regained consciousness. As I cradled him urging him to breath and come back to me, the cowgirl at the Cowboy Church popped to mind. I needed to channel the cowgirl spirit and freaking calm myself down because now my emotions were hurting my dog.
I haven’t stopped thinking about that wooden cowgirl in the week that I’ve been here at the lake. Over the past year I’ve let myself slip into a lazy routine and I haven’t taken as many risks in life. I don’t want life to become stale like it used to be. Perhaps it’s time that I start acting like a proper cowgirl again and lasso in some changes. Yoda and I are gearing up for the rodeo, whenever and wherever it may be.