A Chill Pill From Mother Nature


I had a bad night Saturday night. Up late as usual and then off to bed for a good night’s rest. But rest was not in the stars for me on Saturday night.  As I lay in bed, five dogs snuggled close by me, my mind was alert and whirling with activity. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t stop worrying. Everything I could think of, and stuff I’d moved to the back of my brain, came at me. I couldn’t breathe normally, and then I started breathing rapidly. My head actually started to ache. At 3AM I gave up the ghost and came out to the computer. I also hit the fridge for some Cherry Garcia ice cream. I wrote for an hour. I posted silly things on Facebook. I finally was disgusted with my food binge and crawled back into the bed.

Morning came a few hours later. Sunday loomed ahead with so much work to do. I was anxious. I called my sister and complained for an hour. This is unlike me. But I think the lack of sleep over the last few weeks had finally gotten to me. My normal stress, which I handle well, because it is stress I like, writing deadlines, promotional things for the shop, planning events at the shop, all fun things, was not the culprit. Something else was bothering me and I while I couldn’t define exactly what it was, I had a few things to choose from.

I do know I was exhausted.

The last few weeks brought extra issues to my home. My house had damage from a storm that raced through the neighborhood the week before. The awnings over my front window and doorway were hanging from the impact of a huge limb that fell from a loblolly pine so tall above. The limb nailed the 1940s wrought iron supports and the metal awning over my picture window and doorway. It dislodged and bent the 1940s wrought iron railing on my front stoop. It shattered brickwork and worst of all, it pulverized my large concrete garden frog statue. There was just a pile of green dust where the statue had stood.

“Who will turn into your Prince Charming, now that your frog is gone?” My good friend tried to humor me.

My insurance agent was not so funny. “A thousand dollar deductible.”  I think she was hopeful with her next sentence. “Hold off filing a claim until you get an estimate. No sense filing a claim if it turns out to be under the deductible limit.”

Having her remind me of my deductible came just as I was worrying about paying rent on my three shop spaces. Bad news. I was already in denial on the cost to repair my split rail fence that dropped to the ground from rot a month ago. I could not stall off the storm damage.

Drive by my house and you see hanging awnings and a pile of wood in the front yard. Not the cottage look I strive for.

Then I got the estimates. The estimates are so high, that the deductible now seems a bargain. But it is still a grand out of my feeble purse. Counting sheep; one hundred, two hundred, three hundred, my sheep are holding green bills, … a thousand. Hmmm. That didn’t help me sleep.

“I am frigging freaking out!” That was my charming greeting to my sis before my hour pity party. “Can’t seem to get it under control.”

“You need to rest!” She is concerned the late hours I keep writing and planning shop events are taking a toll on me.

I don’t think I have gone to bed before 2 AM since my husband died three years ago. That is when my creative journey began.  Most mornings I am still up writing at 3 AM, sometimes at 4 AM, a continuation of my evening into the wee morning hours. The dogs yawn and pace waiting for us to head towards the back bedroom. It never seemed to bother me to keep those hours.

That was until this past Saturday night, when I couldn’t sleep, because a panic attack made my head want to explode.

Then last night, Sunday, at 7 PM, another storm came in. I looked at the metal awning dangling in front of my picture window, damage from last week’s storm, and hustled all the dogs into the sunroom, away from the window. Just in case the wind gave the awning its final push through my window I wanted us out of harm’s way.

I shut down my computer. There was thunder, very little rain. Within five minutes the lights flickered, went out, came on, and then went out for good.

Great! Ninety-eight sweltering degrees outside and I am in the dark. The A/C is dead. The dogs and I start to pant. But then a small miracle started to happen. I began to relax.

I took the one flashlight that had batteries in it, and searched for the other flashlights to load them with new batteries. I wanted to be sure I had plenty of light.

I worried about the remaining Cherry Garcia melting during the power outage, so I opened the freezer, grabbed the still ice-cold container, and stuffed my face. I ate the ice cream without guilt.

The book I wanted to read, and never had time for, was on a table by the couch. I grabbed it, my flashlight, and large lighted magnifying glass, and read for an hour. The dogs were close by, curled up on the couch and the chaise.  I opened a window and a bit of evening air, while warm, was fragrant, as the slightest breeze came into the room from the wind blowing outside.

I started to feel my body relax. My tense breathing from earlier was becoming easier. I was trapped in my house without power and could do nothing about it. My mind let go of the demons that were haunting it. A new worry, however, picked at me. “When will the darn power come on?”

But this worry was one I had no control over. I couldn’t change anything. I couldn’t do anything in the dark, except enjoy the dogs, read my book by flashlight, and finish my ice cream. I just had to relax and wait it out.

I went to bed earlier then usual. The dogs joined me. Instead of burying ourselves under quilts to be comfy in the A/C, we all lay on top of the quilts, hoping to stay cool. I pushed up the window and could hear a soft rain and crickets. A relaxing sound compared to the downpour earlier. Somehow within in minutes I was asleep.

At 4 AM, my hound dog, Annabelle, jumped off the bed and started pacing and growling. She does this when she wants to eat grass. I stumbled down the hallway, flashlight in hand, and just as I grabbed at the kitchen door to let her out, the lights came on. It startled me so, it took me a second to realize the power had been restored. Annabelle went out and I ran around gleefully turning on my window A/C units. Four other dogs stayed on the quilts in bed.  They saw no reason to move at 4 AM.

I let Annabelle in. She waddled back to the bedroom. I went to the computer.

“Lights are on!” I e-mailed my mother. She’ll have that message when she wakes up in a few hours. “ I have never been happier!” I finished my e-mail to her.

Happy? You bet.  My power outage forced me to relax.  The power came back on just as the house was getting uncomfortable. Mother nature stopped me in my tracks, forcing me to take a time out. A crew from Georgia Power saved me before the heat in my house became unbearable. In those hours of darkness, I saw the light. Things have a way of working out.

It is now 5 AM Monday morning.  I am getting ready to crawl back under the quilts with five dogs by my side. My house is once again delightfully cool. I am finally relaxed, thanks to a chill pill from Mother Nature.

Barbara Barth, CEO of Life


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