Grace beyond the “hot mess”

Grace beyond the “hot mess”
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January 6, 2018. BLOWING ROCK, NC — I recently returned from a Christmas vacation in Florida.   Somewhere along the way home or maybe even during my stay in the Sunshine State I contracted the influenza virus.

By late afternoon on New Year’s Day, I was in the fetal position on my bathroom floor. My migraine was so intense that I became nauseous. Half of my hair was wet from a half shower and sweat poured in torrents down my neck. Each swallow was painful. Each blow of my red, raw nose burned. My back felt like it had been beaten with a construction contractor’s two by four.

I rolled onto my back, propped my feet onto the bathtub and just laid there.

My pity party lasted for a minute (or maybe 10) and I might have shed a few tears (or maybe 500), but just as quickly I got things under control.  At the lowest point of my day, I forced myself to think of all the things for which I am thankful.

I needed chicken soup for my soul and Ben and Jerry’s for my sore throat.

I stared at the ceiling and thanked God that I had a roof over my head. I looked to my left at my sweet Chihuahua’s face and thanked God as she, sensing my distress, desperately tried to give me kisses.

I said the Prayer of Jabez out loud, as I often do.  I focused on everything in my bathroom and said – out loud – why I was grateful for it. I have running water. My flat iron was a big one.  (Thank you, Lord!)

I knew I needed relief by way of medicine for my symptoms and liquids for my recovery.  I needed chicken soup for my soul and Ben and Jerry’s for my sore throat…

There was no way around it, I had to go to the grocery store.

Hurting just to process the thought of going anywhere, I mustered up the wherewithal to stand up. I pulled my hair halfway through a rubber band and threw on some high-water yoga pants. A wool coat that could double as a tent made me look like a bear. Black clogs (no socks) completed the makeshift outfit.

I put on my “Jackie O” shades and was out the door. I carefully maneuvered the icy sidewalk as it was 20 degrees and snowing. I was, in urban terms, a “hot mess.”

I was chucking items into my cart like I was pitching potatoes.

I marched into the grocery store in a determined haze and headed straight to the medicine aisle. I smiled, imagining how I should just run my arm down the length of the shelf, sweeping every bottle into my basket. Nyquil, Dayquil, Mucinex — I dropped them ALL into my basket with packages of Alka Seltzer and Advil.

I went to the soup aisle, the fruit juice aisle and, of course, to Ben and Jerry’s aisle. I was chucking items into my cart like I was pitching potatoes. To hell with reading every label for ingredients or expiration date (as is my custom).

I made my way to the checkout line and noticed a couple lingering in front of the Redbox machine at the front of the grocery store. I remembered that they had passed me in the aisles earlier. It almost looked as if they were pretending to use the machine. They were glancing over their shoulders at me.

Quizzically, I gave them a second look and realized it was my ex-boyfriend’s former wife and her boyfriend.  He might even be her husband now, but I must admit to not keeping up.   I guess my hazy, sick bubble was so thick earlier that I didn’t notice them as we passed each other a few times in other parts of the store.

It’s not about them, it’s about ME.

I don’t know how it is with men, but for women it’s all about appearances when it comes to the ex, or even to the ex’s ex.

Or at least I used to feel that way. In that second glance, I felt nothing except the need for me to get home and take care of my most prized possession…myself, my health. It’s not about them, it’s about ME.

After a forced smile and a quick, friendly exchange with the cashier, I clip-clopped my way right by the ex’s ex and her man, and out of the store.

Well, not directly out because I was actually trying to exit through the “in” door. I softly chuckled at myself as I almost ran into the glass. The ex’s ex was right behind me and, of course, their smiling eyes were on me as they passed by me – exiting through the correct door.

Someone else has grown to take her place.

Years ago, I would have been absolutely horrified at this scene. I would have worried myself sick (even more than I already was) over their scrutiny and judgement. I would have shamed myself for not taking an extra minute to put on a pair of proper-fitting pants – or at least a pair of socks! I can hear my old self now, “Why didn’t you brush your hair or put on some lipstick???!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

But apparently the person that would’ve reacted that way is no longer present.  Someone else has grown to take her place.

Truthfully, I never felt any resentment toward my ex-boyfriend’s ex-wife. She is an amazing mom to his three amazing children whom I unequivocally loved and adored. I always thought that we – she and I – made each other look good, if that makes any sense.

My physical state was bent and maybe even cracked, but my soul was glorified.

As I wheeled out of the parking lot, I felt the deepest and most gratifying sense of self I think I have ever felt. In that moment, I was one hundred per cent raw and authentic ME. I was taking care of myself and doing it alone.  I felt whole.

My physical state was bent and maybe even cracked, but my soul was glorified. Surely, this is how the Grinch felt when his heart almost grew out of his chest, or how Helen Reddy felt when she belted out the lyrics, “I am woman, hear me roar!”

This past November I listened to Oprah & Deepak’s 21-Day Meditation Experience.  Oprah said, “You are not your thoughts; rather, you are the observer of your thoughts. This is the key to all things.”

After years of meditating and reading the works of Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, Brene Brown and others….After years of watching Oprah and listening, I have been consciously going with my flow, reacting intuitively to situations, situations that have turned into defining moments.  These moments are quickly shaping my life, one-by-one and day-by-day.

Oprah calls them “Aha!” moments. They are moments when your soul recognizes your inner light, regardless of the ego’s influence.

For me, it is transforming.

This past Monday was a day with a few Aha moments. I was sick, but still managed gratefulness for what I had and what was around me. I had a run-in with a ghost from my not so distant past, but still found grace and graciousness, even if I was not very graceful.

Our time and energy and love are too precious to waste on resurrecting unpleasant memories of life lessons or trying to predict future moments where we have no control.  Releasing yourself from ego’s negative talk and becoming more instinctively aware of how you act, react and feel in the moment… well, life becomes peaceful and freeing.

For me, it is transforming.  When you learn to compete with your own conscience and no one else’s, you realize how wonderful your “hot mess” can be.

Edited by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News

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  1. Jackie Barnette

    I look forward to these articles every month. It is very strange for a grown woman to loiter around a Redbox, wait for you to check out and then walk by you gratified at seeing you try to walk out through the in door. She needs to get a life b/c it seems she and her new jerk are extremely immature, plus they have nothing better to do but pretend to use a Redbox.

    1. Jessica

      I am the grown woman and I was not loitering around the redbox. I was using the redbox. I had no idea she was in the grocery store and I was getting groceries and a movie to have dinner with my husband. Thank you.

      1. Evan

        I appreciate these slice of life articles. I believe the article was meant to be more about the aha moment. However, I believe you proved Ms. Barnette’s point. You’re reading these articles because you’re not sleuthing?

        1. Jessica

          The article was sent to me, I did not slueth. I actually think the article is fantastic and have sent the author a note to tell her that is was wonderful. I was merely stating that there was no ill will or malice. I believe I am allowed to speak my truth. I have absolutely no ill will towards a woman that did nothing to me. I simply wanted to state my side of the story.


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