First, Stop. THEN Turn Left.

Driving to a lunch meeting, a few minutes behind schedule, I reminded myself to relax, knowing that I had already notified my colleagues. My mind began reviewing an article I was completing on time management.

Approaching an intersection I have driven through hundreds of times, I noticed a guy getting out of his car in front of pizza place, carrying a pizza warmer. The next thing I remember noticing was flashing police lights in my rear view mirror.

I pulled over immediately. “Did I do something wrong, Officer?” It was a sincere question, but he was ready for me to be a difficult citizen.

He responded swiftly and flippantly. “Are you serious?” I assured him I was. He proceeded to explain that I had rolled through a stop sign. I was genuinely surprised to hear this. I couldn’t even remember turning left, although I knew from the location of my car that I had done so within the past minute. “What if there had been a pedestrian in the crosswalk?” he barked.

“WAS there a pedestrian in the crosswalk?” I inquired. Subtext of my question: how much did I miss?

“That’s not the point! Give me your license and registration.” I fumbled to comply, feeling a bit shaky now. (That I hadn’t eaten breakfast could have been a contributing factor).

While he walked back to his police car, I said a prayer of thanks aloud. I was grateful I’d been stopped by a police officer, rather than hitting anything with my car. How was I so deep in thought that I couldn’t remember turning left? The irony that I had been thinking about time management was not lost on me.

I felt only mild relief when the officer returned to my car with a written warning instead of an actual citation. I understood immediately that the police officer was a (rather gruff-sounding) whisper from the Universe. In the past two weeks I’d misplaced my credit card twice. I’d missed multiple meals, not wanting to pause from my work to find food. Earlier in the week I had bumped my tire into a curb while parallel parking. All whispers. Clearly my thoughts had been away from the present too many times recently. I vowed to do everything in my power not to give the Universe reason to shout.

Here’s the part where I’d love to tell you that from then on everything was perfect. But I tell you my truth, real and raw, as you know. That very afternoon I almost left my credit card somewhere again. Fortunately the merchant noticed and reminded me to take it with me. Then I accidentally left my laptop in her office. It wasn’t too long before I realized that, I called her, and she kindly returned my computer to me. But still. How could I need more whispers?

That weekend I spent time in quiet reflection (not while driving!) I also talked to a few close friends about my recent experiences and shared my thoughts with them. I knew it was time to take a big step out of my apparent fog.

It’s been over a week now since I have eaten any flour or sugar. In this week I have felt a tremendous surge of energy, joy and clarity. And I haven’t lost or almost lost my credit card even once. Please wish me luck as I enter Week Two.

Now it’s time for me to go pay attention to Hurricane Sandy.  Let’s stay safe out there, people.

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