Valentine’s Day is still two days off, but the electricity is still on so I’m sending my Valentine to the world a bit early. I thought followers of this blog, my North Georgia neighbors, and my Self could use a little extra TLC this morning, as our area is predicted to receive up to a foot of additional snow, sleet, and freezing rain. Pine trees and power lines are expected to start toppling like bowling pins. Blessings to all the road crews, utility workers, and emergency personnel who weather the storm on our behalf.
Seven years ago on February 14th, I experienced the power of positive thinking despite the bleakness of a situation. Growing up outside of Buffalo, NY in the “belt buckle” of the snow belt, we were used to five months of dicey weather. But in the days before Valentine’s Day, we really got whomped. Six. Feet. Of. Snow. I was already making plans to move South (wonder why?) and had proactively taken my old Honda into the shop for preventative maintenance. Honda owners are encouraged to replace the timing belt, water pump and hoses every 100,000 miles, so I invested $1,100 in fixing the car up for my move later that Spring.
Outside my apartment complex, the parking lots were in desperate need of plowing. When the maintenance man knocked on my door to request I move my car into a vacant garage, I complied. Having little depth perception and a reputation for shearing off the side mirrors (this one was jerry-rigged into place with epoxy and wood), I took a few minutes to carefully back my car into the narrow garage space. Phew!
Ninety minutes later, there was another knock on my door. My neighbor exclaimed “The garage fell in and all the cars are trapped!” Sure enough, the nine bay, flat-roofed structure had collapsed under the weight of the snow. My CRV, being the tallest of the bunch, took the brunt of the structural damage. The roof of my car had caved in, in the shape of a “V” that reached all the way to the headrest. And my driver’s side mirror was sheared off. Dang! I’d been so careful…
The insurance adjuster came out after the debris had been cleared and my car moved back into the (now clean) parking lot. It was already an old car, and he was ready to total it, but for not a lot of money. I begged him not to, since only the roof and mirror were damaged. The engine was still a workhorse, and I’d just sunk all this money into it. He just shook his head. Then he peered inside to write down the mileage and saw the one word sticky note I’d pasted over the tachometer:
You see, I’d been privileged to hear the Dalai Lama speak at the University of Buffalo a few months earlier. After tickets sold out within thirty minutes, I was sad that I wasn’t going to get to attend. But a massage client, the Dean of IT, told me “Of all the people I know, you would most enjoy this. So I’m gifting you one of my complimentary tickets. Please join my wife and our friends for lunch, and then the talk.” What I took away most from the great spiritual leader was his modeling and promotion of warm-heartedness. It’s a rarity in this high tech, commercially driven society, but you know it when you feel it. I felt it the first time I scoped out my new town, and wrote about Ernie and Bert renewing my faith in humanity. https://overtlysimple.wordpress.com/2012/04/08/ernie-bert-renew-my-faith-in-humanity
Mr. Insurance Adjuster said he’d get back to me in a few days. That night, alone on Valentine’s Day (yet again), I cried into my pillow. It seemed that all my plans to step into a new life were being thwarted. And I’d been so careful about not ruining yet another mirror! Eventually, I remembered that I have the power to change my thinking to “This is a blessing in disguise.” “No it’s not. This is a disaster. There’s no way out of here now.” More tears of doubt poured out.
Well, that internal battle of good and evil went on for more than a few minutes. With Grace, I came to understand that sometimes despite all of our best preparations, unforeseen circumstances will yank the rug out from under us. The only thing we continually have control over is our response to those situations. “This is a blessing in disguise…” finally won out and I drifted into a calm sleep.
I believe a combination of my “Warm-heartedness” sticky note and his own late night thinking changed his mind – my insurance company awarded me $4,000 in damages, without totaling the car! It cost $200 to have an auto body shop pound the roof back into place. $50 for a perfectly good secondhand mirror. I painted over the paint scratches myself. With an unexpected $3,750 in my pocket towards moving expenses, I headed South with the thaw. My $500 insurance deductible was even returned, and was a pleasant surprise in my new mailbox! My old Honda has crossed the 200,000 mile mark, so is ready for the same preventive maintenance. Like me, it’s a bit battle scarred, but still starts right up each morning. The dimpled roof causes people to question what happened, which is an opportunity to share a wonderful story!
Think: What recent events have you worried about involving situations or people who are beyond your control? Is there a better use of your energy than worrying about what may or may not happen? Or rehashing something that happened in the past?
Say: Tell yourself “I don’t know why yet, but this is a blessing in disguise.” As many times as it takes, until you believe it.
Do: Take steps towards positive ways of changing your own thoughts, your own actions, and your own life.
Share this post with three or more of your friends. If it has been helpful to you, it may be what someone else also needs to hear right now.
Write your comments below. Best of all, share your own story.