Life never chooses a good time to throw a curve ball, does it? It’s been nearly four weeks since we took a swing at our curve ball. Or rather, since it took a swing at me. And since it happens to all of us, in one way or another, I thought you’d appreciate the story and what I’ve learned from it.
It was a Saturday afternoon packed with two birthday parties, one right after the other. My seven-year-old and I had left her friend’s party and were on our way to celebrate with my little nephew. We stopped at a Chevron to fill up on gas and when that was done, ran into the quickie mart for a potty break.
We hustled back to the car and hopped in, not giving a second thought to the F350 extended-cab-with-a-camper Ford truck that was stopped at the pump behind us. It’s Idaho. Trucks like that are a dime a dozen around here.
My car still in park, I made sure that Madison was buckled and buckled myself. Then, before driving off, I grabbed my phone to check my husband’s progress…he was supposed to be bringing the gift and the salad (and our three-year-old) to the party.
I was looking down at my phone when BAM! Something crashed into the back of our Yukon. My head whipped forward and although it didn’t hit anything, I can still remember the sensation that traveled up my neck, to the very top of my head, and then receded.
But then I looked in the rearview mirror and saw something even more horrifying. Between my car and the truck that just smashed us…was a man.
Heart in my throat, I put the car into drive and pulled forward a few feet, thinking to have freed the man who surely was stuck between us.
When I stepped out, to my great relief I discovered that the enormous F350 also had a giant winch on the front…which probably saved that man’s life.
Of course…had said man not jumped in front of the truck – thinking he could stop it – his life wouldn’t have been in jeopardy anyway. But while big trucks are the norm in Idaho, there’s not really an IQ test to drive them.
Now before you think I’m being mean to a guy who tried to prevent the accident…let’s finish the story.
There was no driver in the truck that hit us. No, the driver was the (very) young man who had tried to stop the truck. Apparently he’d been working under the hood of the truck, on the passenger side, when it suddenly started rolling forward. Having more guts than brains, when it started rolling the first thing he could think to do was to try to stop it by force.
I guess I’ll give him credit for trying.
But I’m so glad he had that winch.
Now, you might be wondering how the truck started rolling forward without a driver in it.
You and the rest of us!
The man’s comment was, “it must’ve been in drive still.” Except that…trucks in drive don’t just sit there…and suddenly start moving. And it was sitting when we walked by after our visit inside the quickie mart.
The prevailing hypothesis is that the guy had it in drive, with the e-brake on, was messing around under the hood and hit the throttle, causing it to roll forward.
And you might say well, how bad could it be? A truck rolled a few feet and bumped your car.
I did mention how big this truck was, right? It was no small bump.
But other than being a bit shaken up…and the inkling of a headache coming on for both Madison and I…we were pretty grateful too.
We drove away, made it to the party, (got some Tylenol) and enjoyed a couple of hours with the extended family.
That evening, driving home into the setting sun along the vibrant autumn country roads, I couldn’t figure out why I was so irritable. And when I climbed into bed, I thought the queasy feeling I had was due to the hot dogs at the party.
Until the next morning at church when my head just felt heavy. By noon, it was clear something was wrong. And after advice from a friend whose daughter had recently suffered a concussion in volleyball practice…
A quick-care doc gave me the same diagnosis. A concussion.
“Take it easy,” he said.
“Do you need a note for work?” (Ha!)
“And no running for a week.” (As if.)
After spending the next three days in bed, it was time to celebrate our son’s fourth birthday. I made it to school with the cupcakes and to lunch with his best-buddy-since-birth (helps that the mommies are best buddies too)… and I was toast.
That night my husband took me to the emergency room as I was feeling so bad, I didn’t want to get out of bed. And I missed Kyle’s birthday dinner.
But the CT scan showed all was well…although the ER doc diagnosed “post-concussion syndrome.” Which means the symptoms can persist for days…weeks…maybe months.
“Take it easy,” he said.
What does that mean?!
And so began the road to recovery. Except that the road is really fuzzy. And not just because of my concussion.
“It just takes time,” is not the recovery plan that a Type-A, overachieving entrepreneur wants to hear.
So what do you do when life throws you a curve ball?
Here’s what I’ve gathered from the experience:
“Be grateful…if not for all things, then in all things,” is one of my favorite quotes from Michael Hyatt. I have plenty to be grateful for in life in general, but even related to this accident specifically: that the head injury affected me, but Madison is totally fine. That the truck did have a winch and didn’t smash that foolish man when he tried to stop it. That I have access to quality health care. That the insurance adjustor for Progressive is a kind woman that lives here in town. That my amazing supportive husband picks up the slack without complaint. Ever. That my kids are patient and understanding and doing just fine even though I can’t play with them much, and my head hurts and I cringe every time they get loud.
The Friday after the accident was the day of the shootings at that little college in Oregon. Yes, I have much to be grateful for, and I’ll never forget it.
Greg McKeown defines essentialism as “the disciplined pursuit of less, but better.” There’s nothing like a head injury to force you to pursue less.
I’m an advocate for essentialism in everyday life. It just becomes more important when you’re dealing with a curve ball.
What matters most? Don’t just roll with the punches. Think about what the priority is; what’s most important now, and act accordingly.
For me, in the first week, it was recovery. I didn’t have much of a choice, but it helped to recognize the priority for that period. The second week, I was able to open enrollment for The Boardroom. It might not have been the best choice as I paid for it physically, but after already postponing the launch by a week, I couldn’t leave it alone any longer. The third week, essentialism meant trying to enjoy the kids’ fall break with them. As we continue on this unknown path to recovery, each week and even every day I’m trying to focus on what matters most, and not even think about the rest.
Identify what “the disciplined pursuit of less, but better” means for you.
A curve ball, as a general rule, is not an excuse to give up. Don’t let it completely derail you. Where were you going before the curve ball hit? Don’t lose sight of that. Instead, focus even more intently on that one goal.
What is the next right step you need to take to make it happen?
It might take longer than it otherwise would, but you can maintain the momentum and make forward progress if you stay focused on the next right step.
Take It Easy
The best I can figure, that means to be kind to yourself. Which is something us hard-driving entrepreneurs are usually not very good at. But it’s very possible that the lesson I’m learning from this concussion will live on beyond the pain.
Today, I was able to work all morning. But an hour after lunch, my head was killing me. In an attempt to feel better before the kids got home from school, I laid down to rest…and took a little nap.
I may need to incorporate 20-minute naps into my routine in the future. (Okay, in all honesty I’d rather reincorporate a 20-minute walk or run. But, I’m working with what I’ve got for now!)
It’s often easier to be kind to others than to yourself. So, when you’re having trouble being kind to yourself, try this variation on the Golden Rule.
“Do unto yourself as you would do unto others.”
So that’s what I’ve got, at nearly a month post-curve ball. Do you have any stories of managing your curve balls? Let me know if you’ve got a tip that I missed!
In the meantime, I hope this helps you if (or when) the curve ball gets tossed your way.
To moving forward with focus and grace, despite the interruptions…
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