Slow Down and Count the Cats in the Window.

I love driving. I absolutely love it. If I had billions of dollars, I’d probably spend a good chunk on gasoline and a dependable car just so I could drive forever and ever before turning around and heading home. I especially love driving with the windows down when the temperature outside drops anywhere between 50 and 70 degrees. I love letting my hair dance wildly with each gust of wind that rushes through my car as the tires race down the asphalt. A guilty pleasure of mine is to lean the seat back a bit, put my left foot up on the door, one hand on the wheel, and the other out the window. I do this mostly at night or on a back road where there is little to no traffic because, and I’m not always quick to admit this, it isn’t too safe a way to drive. SHHH. But sometimes I just need to let go. Obviously not literally. I’m not going to Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus Take the Wheel” this thing and drive with no hands. Unless of course, I find myself in the exact or a similar situation as the story told in the song. He has control of my life anyways. I’m not going to test Him by doing foolish things. When I say “let go” I mean relax. Breathe. Enjoy the ride.

I was on my way to a movie with my mom yesterday evening and we made a few remarks about the crazy drivers who were, unfortunately, accompanying us on the highway. They were impatient, rude, antsy people who didn’t even want to slow down for those turning off the highway. Mom, in response to one driver in particular who did that very thing, said this, “Everyone is always in such a rush to get somewhere, nowadays.” And it’s true. No one has the patience to slow down even for a second.

I’m just as guilty of this. Even though I love driving, traffic stresses me out. My biggest pet peeve is a snail-paced driver in the left lane. I find myself yelling at them inside my car and throwing my hands up in hopes that they’d see my frustration and move over. (Of course, that only eggs them on and makes them want to stay right where they are. And sometimes they even slow down to a lesser speed. Grrrrr.) I started to think to myself. Why am I in such a rush? Even if I’m going to be late, it won’t drastically change things. At least, it shouldn’t. I don’t know… maybe some people have been late so many times, they could lose their job if they are late again. That can be understood, I suppose. But.. Some reasons are petty and insignificant. And no one should be tailgating someone else or speeding around them to shave a minute or two off of their commute home or to the gas station for a Gatorade. NOT worth it. You won’t make it home if you end up in a terrible accident due to carelessness. Or if you do, someone else might not. Think about that.

I’ve been thinking a lot about stress and how to manage it. I’m probably one of the most stressed out people you’ll meet. Or I was before I started to let go. Stress at work, on the road, and financial stress has been pretty easy to manage lately and it’s only by the grace of God. Because I’m usually I big ol’ spazz and those are the areas in which I worry most. I stress about almost EVERYTHING I’m faced with. But I’ve learned over the past several months that even when things less than desirable happen, the bumps still get smoothed out eventually and it really does end up OKAY. I’m still here. I’m still breathing. It’s OKAY. So now I know stressing doesn’t help. I can’t do anything about it other than pray so there is absolutely no reason to panic. Don’t get me wrong… I still stress. A lot. And I have a long way to go before I’m really letting go and letting God but it’s been nice taking these baby steps to a stress-free life.

This morning I was on my way to church when I was given a test of my patience. There are two ways into town. One of them being the ever-busy highway. (Which has been dubbed one of the most dangerous in the state of Florida.) And the other, a nice, residential back road that runs parallel to the first. Both lead to the same intersecting highway but whichever one you choose to take determines how your drive will be. I usually take the latter. I don’t have to worry about traffic lights or four lanes of idiots. Just me, the pavement, and the houses that border it. It’s very quiet and actually quicker on most days. Unfortunately, you’ll get stuck behind a Mr. or Miss La-Tee-Da going 20mph under the posted speed limit on occasion. There’s my pet peeve! It used to drive me insane. (No pun intended.) That is, until today. I was stuck behind a few cars, all of us inconvenienced by the turtle in the front who wouldn’t put the pedal to the metal. I surprised myself in that I didn’t get angry or throw a small hissy fit. (Probably because I had time to spare today and I was going to be on time whether they crawled or not.) But I had all the windows down and the sunroof open, music cranked up, and a delightfully cool breeze befriending me. I wasn’t going to ignore just how great this morning commute was. So I slowed down, backed off the cherry red car in front of me, and took slow, deep breaths in and out. I felt so relaxed.

Y’all. It was AMAZING. Seriously. I just took in the scenery and the fresh, fall air. I sang at the top of my lungs with the radio and I let myself be HAPPY. I think that is one of the best things you can do for you mind, body, and soul. Control your emotions and let yourself just BE. BE still. BE happy. BE stress-free.

On the way home, the same thing happened. And this time, it seemed like this driver was going slower than the one earlier. But I took a deep breath and thought “why do I need to rush? I’m going home. I don’t need to be in such a hurry.” If I’d decided to speed around them and fly home, I would have missed so many wonderful things.

-The gorgeous wildflowers growing in the ditch beside the road

-The butterflies swarming around said flowers

-The good songs on the radio

-The cool, comforting breeze

-The clumsy, carefree puppy running alongside his master on a morning jog

-The adorable monotone cat sitting in the window of one of the houses I’d passed

All of these things bring me joy. Especially the last one. I become giddy inside when I pass by and see a kitty in a window because I know that home is blessed. Sometimes there is more than one feline enjoying life on the window sill. Which makes me even happier. I would have missed that cute, little fella had I been so eager to get home. And I’m glad I didn’t.

Don’t be in such a hurry all the time. Enjoy the music, the fresh air, the scenery.  (PLEASE. PAY ATTENTION TO THE ROAD WHILE INDULGING IN YOUR SURROUNDINGS.) But never drive so fast that you miss the cats in the window. They may not be important to you, but slowing down should be. It’s healthy. And I strongly encourage it.




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