February 12

Driving Challenges

In the middle of a country road last week, I attempted a three-point turn.

It took about nine.

When I was a teenager learning to drive or parallel park, my chest would tighten from the inside as sweat covered palms gripped the steering wheel and I listened as my dad shouted driving instructions from the passenger seat.

“Turn! Turn!”

I felt the same way when he would try and explain a math problem or even how to count change at an early age when I didn’t grasp the concept quickly enough.

When we had fun, we had lots of fun. But he wasn’t a patient person.

I think about him sometimes when I feel boxed in, pushed in corner or have run out of plays. Probably because the same tightening happens in my chest, a rising sense of anxiety that shuts a person down in a way that often appears disrespectful to others. I’ve come to recognize it as a defense mechanism, this shutdown.

Donna, my new friend and prospective client were looking at some really beautiful homes the other day and as we drove we started talking about what we do, who we are and who we want to become.

She confided that right now she knew many women who were doing one thing and dreaming of another. Strong women with successful careers and mothers at home with life ambitions bigger than their children. Women with desires to make a difference, change careers or start a non-profit.

I told her I believe it’s just something that happens as we get older. We may have realized one dream or one accomplishment, but the most fulfilling ambitions seem to be the ones where our pursuits are about helping the hearts of others.

We don’t have to jump off or jump in with all risk and no sense. I’ve done that more than once and it’s not always been a soft landing.

It’s okay to make small, subtle changes towards the turnaround. It’s okay if your three-point turnaround takes nine.

The goal of that driving maneuver is to turn the vehicle around in a very narrow space. That tight, boxed in, constricting grip of a boa, kind of feeling should signal us to start moving in another direction.

As we make subtle changes and tiny turns, we feel the loosening.

We begin to breathe in the air of open country roads that have been begging us to wander. The car moves as we do, forward, backward, then forward again.