My Angel Stories…

Real angels ride Harley’s, have scruffy hair, furry arms and wear leather jackets.  I know this is true, because I talked to one once.  I’ll tell you that story in a minute, but first my inspiration for today’s post, my most recent angel story.

So I’m driving down the freeway yesterday morning and start hearing a loud banging noise by my front tire. I maneuvered the car across four lanes of traffic and exited the freeway where I parked to check it out. A chunk of my tire tread was flapping around but the tire wasn’t flat, so I drove to a tire place just down the road. My aunt was with me and we were thankful the tire hadn’t blown or all the tread come off.  The incident brought on a discussion about angels and we began exchanging our personal angel stories.

While my aunt sat inside the tire store, the sales guy and I were checking my tire. I was shocked at how bad my tire was!  I was riding on metal on the inside rim and the tread could be easily lifted. After paying for all new tires, my aunt said that her daily reading had popped up on her phone and guess what it was about. Guardian angels!  We left the tire store and had to change our destination due to lack of time. We decided to go to Scottsdale to shop a little and have lunch.  I parked in old town and my aunt said to look what we had parked in front of. It was “The Angel Store”. OK, so we got the message! Angels must have been taking care of us yesterday.

Angels can make an appearance anywhere!  There was one time I saw what I believed to be angels in a more supernatural form.  I know I’ve shared a little history about past abusive relationships in other blog posts.  One particularly intense story happened at a time I was in the process of moving out to get away from a bad relationship.  I had just broken the news that I was leaving to my x-husband who had been drinking heavily, as usual.  Let’s just say he didn’t take it very well.  After a tirade of profanity and swinging arms he had me pinned on the bed with both of his hands firmly gripped around my throat.  I had reached the point of being light headed from being unable to breathe.  Somehow I was able to escape, so I’m still here to tell about it.  That night I was unable to sleep because, of course, I was a bit traumatized by the experience.  I had tossed, turned, cried, and desperately looked for sleep, to no avail.  The room was dark, but all of a sudden, two glowing outlines in the shape of people were at the bottom of the bed.  One was tall and the other about a foot shorter.  Instantly I was overwhelmed by a sense of complete safety and peace.  All fear was gone and I was able to sleep the rest of the night, no longer the least bit tormented by the events of the day.

I believe angels can be pushy, too!  Another time, I didn’t see any angels, but my daughter had an experience with one.  I was a single parent at the time and my parents kept my two children for me while I was working.  (Side note here, I don’t know how I would have made it without my parents at that time in my life.  They were awesome!)  I had just arrived at my parent’s house to pick up my kids.  My three year old daughter was at the neighbor’s house and saw my car pull in the drive.  In her eagerness to greet mommy, she started running down the steep hill of the neighboring driveway.  A pickup truck was coming down the road and was approaching the bottom of the driveway that my daughter was going full speed down.  There was a big bush at the end of the drive that blocked the pickup truck driver’s view of my baby girl.  The driver had no idea of the tragic picture that I was seeing about to unfold in front of me.  My screams were not enough to stop the driver of the pick up, nor the out of control speed of a 3 year old running down a steep hill.  It was clear that I was not going to reach her in time and inevitable what was about to occur.  My daughter was almost to the road when suddenly, she fell backwards! How does a 3 year old running down a steep hill, fall backwards?  She cried and said her stomach hurt, like someone pushed her down.  I blame it on an angel.

Angels can perform amazing feats beyond our comprehension, too!  One morning during that same season of my life, I had a “shake my head and wonder” experience.  I had dropped my kids off at my mom’s and as I was leaving, mom said something to me.  I can’t remember her exact words now, as that was many years ago, but it was something about being especially concerned for me that day, that she was praying and to be careful.  I had a 30 mile commute into Cleveland and let’s just say, I could make some pretty good time.  I needed angels to be watching out for me, because I wasn’t always the best at it.  Ok, I was stupid!

At one point along the way, the freeway ramp curves around and comes up to meet the freeway on a bridge.  There is very little time for cars to merge into traffic from this ramp before the ramp leads off to exit again.  Drivers coming up the ramp don’t have the best view of the oncoming freeway traffic either.  Add rush hour, a speeding little ice blue Chevette stuck between two semi trailers and not enough lanes, and you have an equation that equals disaster.  I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and I just knew I was about to see my life flash before my eyes.  All I remember was that there was no way to avoid being crushed by the semi trucks.  I slammed on my brakes, felt my car start to spin, closed my eyes and cried “Jesus”.  There is no way to explain how it happened, but all I know was the next minute I looked in the rear view mirror and I was in safely in front of the two semi trucks.  I was trembling so hard I had to pull off the road until I was calm enough to drive again.  How does a speeding car, slamming on its brakes, end up ahead of two semi’s when it had previously been between the back of the trailers?  I can’t explain it, but apparently, I didn’t drive faster than my Guardian Angel could fly.  I say more than a few angels must have been involved in that one.  I’m so glad they didn’t hold back on protecting me because they figured I deserved what I got since I had been speeding.

I suppose you are wondering about the furry armed, scruffy angel riding a Harley and wearing a leather jacket.  I met him one day just outside of Payson, AZ.  Again, it was during that same single parent period.  I was in the process of moving myself and my 3 and 5 year old kids from Arizona to Ohio.  I was driving out of the valley and up the mountain road to Payson, pulling a heavily loaded U-Haul trailer behind my car.  Many of you are familiar with the road and the steep grade just a ways outside of town.  On that lonely stretch of desolate road in the heat of summer, the front of my car started to billow smoke.  Not being a mechanic, I had no idea what was happening.  I thought my car was about to blow up.  I found a place to pull over and I jumped out, grabbed my kids and ran before we all died in the explosion.  As I’m standing in the middle of nowhere with two small children, I had no idea what I was supposed to do next.  Cell phones were not even an idea yet and there were no pay phones or gas stations close by.  I was praying for a little help at this point and here comes this scruffy, furry armed guy with a leather jacket, riding a Harley.  “Oh God, not him!” I prayed, because surely he must belong to a motorcycle gang and would harm me in some way.  I apologize to the bikers reading this.  Keep in mind, this was many years ago and I already admitted that I was stupid.  I actually breathed a sigh of relief as he rode past, but not even a minute later, he was back.  I was petrified as my imagination went wild with the possible scenarios.  But what could I do?  There was no where to run.  I was probably in the most vulnerable spot I could possibly ever be in.  He got off his bike and asked for the keys to look at my still smoking car.  I thought, “Oh God, he’s going to steal my car and everything I own and leave me stranded here!”  He didn’t though.  After he looked under the hood, he said my car had overheated and told me to wait a little while and then drive up the road about a mile.  There would be a drive that would turn off and he instructed me to pull off and drive down to where I would find a garage.  He said that someone would be there who would help me.  Then he left.  My out of control imagination played with the horrific scenarios of following this furry armed biker’s instructions, but not having the knowledge or sense I needed, I felt I had no other choice.  I found the dirt road and drove down the drive and sure enough, there was an old little, white building.  A man came out and looked at my car, added fluid and sent me on my way.  I was safe!

I headed into Payson and grabbed some lunch with the kids before we were on our way out of town.  It wasn’t long before the road got steep, once again and my check engine light came on.  As I checked my mirrors before I pulled off the road, I was totally shocked to see that same biker behind me.  Instant panic set in!  Was it just a coincidence or was he following me?  Had he been watching us as we stopped for lunch?  Was he just waiting for an opportunity to do God knows what?  I chose to keep on driving rather than pulling over, as that seemed to be the lesser risk.  But believe me, I was praying hard the whole time.  I’m not sure how far I drove with the motorcycle following me, but eventually, the road leveled out and a long desolate stretch lay ahead.  Just when I had about worried myself sick, the check engine light went off.  I was so relieved, but to my surprise, the biker was gone, too!  There had been no turn off, no intersection.  He just seemed to disappear and believe me; I had been keeping a close eye on him.  My best and only conclusion was that this must have been an angel watching over me!

Yes, I do believe in angels all around us, everyday.  I think we probably have far more encounters with angels than we ever realize.  A couple morals of this story:  1. Don’t judge a person by their appearance.  2. Don’t doubt the ability of a big God who cares enough to send angels to protect you and don’t be surprised if they ride Harley’s and wear leather jackets.

Hey World, Meet Chloe!

Hey World, let me introduce you to Chloe!  See the cute little Yorkie face peaking out from under the clothes in my closet.  That’s her.  She likes to hide there.  That’s just one of her hiding places actually.  She likes to hide a lot!  Chloe is a rescue dog.  I don’t know what I rescued her from, but it must have been something pretty horrific because she is afraid of everything.  I’ve had her for about nine months now and I think I may need to hire a dog whisperer so I can help her, if there really is such a person.

Chloe is afraid of most sounds.  When I’m cooking, which is often, she stands and stares at me, ready to run out the dog door as soon as a small appliance makes an appearance on the counter or any chopping starts.  She will run and stand outside and watch me through the patio door until she feels it’s safe to return or I call her to come back in.  When I’m getting ready to go somewhere, she knows when I’m about to grab the hairdryer and out the dog door she goes.  Her hiding place then is behind our pool pump.  Cleaning day is an absolute nightmare for her.  She’s afraid of the vacuum cleaner, the duster, the mop, the broom, all of it!  She hides outside behind the pool pump until I call her to come in.  She will visibly shake and pant for quite a long time after all the scary equipment is put away until she is sure the perceived danger has definitely past.  I try to calm her, but it’s to no avail.  She’s so tiny and I worry that she’ll shake herself into a heart attack or have a heat stroke from hiding outside.  It’s summer in AZ and it’s a bit warm right now.

There’s more Chloe is afraid of, but I think you get the idea.  I don’t know what it’s going to take or how long it’s going to take for her to get over her fears.  She is in a good, loving home now.  She gets lots of attention.  There is another Yorkie here for her to play with.  She has never been given a reason to be afraid here.  Life is good for her, yet she is paralyzed by fear.  Her fear robs her of comfort that she doesn’t find in her dusty, hot outdoor hiding place.

Chloe’s perceived threat isn’t real in our house.  Whatever it was is now gone from her life, yet the unnecessary fear lingers.  It controls her actions to the point of hurting herself.  I’m the one in our family that she feels the safest with.  She is almost as comfortable with my husband now, yet her fear has her missing out on loving attention she could be getting from other family members.  She’s adorable and everyone wants to pet her or hold her, but she barks and runs from them.

Isn’t that so much like some of us?  We all have fears and many of those fears at some point in our lives were well founded. But what about when we’ve moved on and are in a safe place and around people who have never given us a reason to be fearful?  Why do we feel a need to hold on to old fears?  We paralyze and imprison ourselves when we do that.  We are afraid to risk letting go of the fear so we can totally enjoy this new place.  We give our power to the fear and enable it to overpower us.  We imprison ourselves and rob ourselves of opportunities to learn, grow and succeed, to give and receive love.

How can I break Chloe of her fear?  Should I force her to face her fear by blocking her from her hiding places?  We’ll talk more about fear another time.  Maybe I’ll get brave enough to share my own, but for now, any Dog Whisperers out there?

Looking for the Fountain of Youth…

I’ve never posted on Craig’s List but if I did, here’s my want ad for the day: “Looking for the fountain of youth, a.s.a.p.!”  If anyone really did find a fountain that would bring back youth, they would certainly build a resort around it and become a billionaire.

You won’t get me on the expensive surgeries that will restore a more youthful look (just yet anyway), but I’ve been a sucker for the beauty product infomercials that claim to have the one secret, key ingredient that will dissolve my wrinkles and bring back my youthful glow.  Save your money!  I can tell you, there is no secret ingredient!

As I approach the birthday that will qualify me to become a resident in an “adult only” community, I can’t help but have a few thoughts on this aging dilemma that I face.  I remember my 30th birthday.  That was the hard one for me and now I have to laugh at myself over that.  Turning thirty was a piece of cake in comparison to what I’m looking at now.  I can’t even bring myself to let the new number slip from my lips.  It’s amazing to me how my definition of what I consider “old” has become older the older that I get.  In my thirties, I considered where I’m at now to be classed as “old”.  Now that I’m here, old is more like when you’re in your nineties, right!

It’s not fair that we don’t have a choice, but have to succumb to the aging process!  But then, just when did life decide to play fair?

It’s just not right for an 18 year old to start getting gray hair.  It wasn’t just a few hairs here and there.  It was one spot on the front left side of my head.  I was a brunette then and had this gray streak that wasn’t a pretty highlight that I paid big bucks for.  When I was in my twenties, someone who didn’t know my name, described me as the “woman with the spider in her hair”.  I bought my first bottle of hair color soon after that.

It’s not fair that I went into menopause at age 40, ten years earlier than the average women does.  Of course, we’ve already established the fact that “I’m Not Average” in an earlier blog post.  I did find some advantages in early menopause though.  Hot flashes weren’t one of them!

What a shock it was when I got contacts for the first time.  I had only been wearing glasses to read, so I never had them on when I was in front of a mirror.  My first trip to the bathroom with the contacts was a literal eye opener.  Where did all those wrinkles come from all of a sudden?  I looked so much younger before I got contacts…  So of course, the contacts had to go!

I learned by trial and error, never let anyone see your face if you have to bend over in public.  I was in my late 40’s and happened to see myself in the mirror as I bent over to brush my hair.  It was a horror show!  Skin just hanging off my cheek bones!  How and when did that happen?

In my Physical Therapy sessions now, there is an exercise that I have to do that really makes me swallow my pride.  It’s called “Inch worms”.  I have to walk on my hands and feet on the floor and my butt in the air.  I’ve said what my face looks like upside down, but to have to see the skin hanging from my arms and around my knees and knowing everyone else that can see that too is torture!  I’ve begged the Physical Therapist to not make me do this exercise, but to no avail…

It’s not fair that body parts succumb to gravity and head south!  The word “perky” is no longer in the description of any body part.  “Tube socks with golf balls in the toe”, is a more fitting description and the rounded hips, well…  the cheek and thigh tend to meld into one continuous mass.  Enough with the disgusting word pictures!

I took up running to try to slow down the aging process, maybe even reclaim some of my lost youth.  Running has improved the appearance of some body parts and I am much healthier than I was a year and a half ago.  I probably am healthier and more fit than I’ve been since my early twenties, but in spite of that, my body still betrays me.  I still spend more time with medical professionals than I would like.  It’s so not fair!

In a previous job, I spent a lot of time working in retirement communities and with clients who I considered to be “old” compared to my stage of life at the time.  It was quite sad actually.  Some were very healthy, but they had let themselves become “old” in their minds.  They saw themselves as “old”; therefore, they were justified in living the stereotypical, “old” lifestyle.  They let their age determine their level of activity and there are just certain things that they just couldn’t do because of it.  The reality was that there was much they could do if they applied a little effort.

Of course, there are always exceptions, but I found that the general mindset was that they were now retired, so for many that meant the end to “accomplishment”.  They would no longer be expected to accomplish anything and any unfulfilled dreams could be let go of.  They no longer nourished those dreams and their dreams were allowed to die.  The reality was that they now had the freedom and more time to realize their dreams.

Life for many had become a waiting game.  They were waiting for the end of life, when the reality was that they still could have many years ahead of them to live.

As I now find myself in this new place, regardless of how old I live to be, I always want to be useful, to have a purpose.  I want to always be doing something to better myself and to help others.  I still want to work toward those unfulfilled dreams.  I’m choosing to not become “old” in my mind; therefore, I think I have found the fountain of youth.  You’ve heard it said, “You’re only as old as you think you are”.  It doesn’t matter how old my outer shell gets.  (Ok, so I admit it’s still kind of hard to say that last sentence.)  I’m young in my mind.  Life isn’t fair and even though my body may betray me, I’m determined to make the best of this aging process.  Like fine wine, I too, will become better with age, so I raise my glass and say, “Cheers!” and “Happy Birthday to me!”

I choose to die living, not live dying.  Who wants to celebrate with me?