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Tragedy or Treasure?

Hello, health seeker! I'm really happy to be here this week and share with you some good news. But first, I want to tell you a story. It's a 2,000 year old Chinese parable that was first told to me many years ago. It goes like this:

A poor Chinese farmer worked his small farm with just one horse and his son. One day the horse ran away. His neighbors came by and said, "How unfortunate! What bad luck.". His reply was, "Maybe bad, maybe good." A few days later the horse returned with several wild horses. "Ah, what good fortune!", said his neighbors. The farmer calmly said, "Maybe good, maybe bad.".

While trying to tame one of the wild horses, his son broke his leg. "Oh, no", said his neighbors, "What bad luck". Of course, the farmer replied, "Maybe bad, maybe good."

A few days after the accident, the Emperor ordered that all the young men in the farmer's village report for military duty. The son could not and was allowed to stay behind because of his broken leg. The other villagers said, "What a good thing that this happened.".

You can imagine how the farmer responded ...

I am not a poor farmer with only a horse and son to help me, however I had something occur this year that reminded me so much of this tale. As some of you know and as I've mentioned briefly, I was planning on driving back to the east coast from the west coast beginning April 1. I have been doing my cross-country drives for eight years, spending part of the year in the northeast and part in the Pacific Northwest. There are certain things I do on each coast, places where I do contract work, and people I visit along the way. This year, the Universe had other plans for me and my fully packed car broke down barely 42 miles into my nearly 4,000 mile trip and 15 miles from the California border. I had the car towed to the dealer and three days later I was told I needed a new engine and it would take at least a month because of COVID related chain supply issues.

What was I to do?!? I had friends expecting me to swing by and spend a few days. My siblings were expecting me in Florida to celebrate my Dad's 93rd birthday. I had a contract awaiting me in a Boston, MA hospital. I had given up my rental and it was no longer available. I was now out in a very rural part of southern Oregon with no means of transportation. My insurance company said they couldn't reimburse me for a rental since my car was not in an accident. The dealer said they had no cars available for me to use. I decided to sit tight and figure out a way to make the best of 30 days or so. I flew out to Florida and celebrated with my family of origin, fully expecting to return to Oregon and retrieve my car soon after.

I'll jump ahead a little here and report that I picked up my car six days ago -- five and a half months after it broke down! Of course I am celebrating, but what happened during those 170 days is truly remarkable. While I had several people urge me to rant, rave, and rage during that time, I chose not to. I was cared for in ways I couldn't have imagined.

The contract in Boston fell through which would have been difficult for me if I traveled all the way back there and then, had no work. Instead, a recruiter I had never worked with before found me and got me a contract at a local hospital. The contract had its challenges, however it served a purpose in helping me get more insight into the current problems with the healthcare system. This, in turn, tied in perfectly with a six-month Wholistic Nurse Coaching Program that I enrolled in. Not only did I now have the time and space to work on the lessons and homework, but I found out that there was a strong Mindfulness base which has been part of my area of expertise for nearly 30 years!

Speaking of time and space, I was offered an affordable and adorable cottage to rent surrounded by fields, cattle, deer, turkeys, vineyards and down the road from my daughter. The couple that own it have become sweet friends and I cherish my time there. In the meantime, the hospital gig was about 35 miles away ... and I didn't have a car. Since the hospital was surrounded by a lovely neighborhood, I found an en suite to rent within walking distance to my work. In fact, since this was the closest to what you could call a "city" (using the term loosely), I could even walk to a grocery store less than a mile away.

As far as transportation was concerned, I had friends or family drive me back and forth a couple of times between my rural Shangri La (or as Merriam-Webster describes it: a remote, beautiful, imaginary place where life approaches perfection. It's not in my imagination, but it's pretty wonderful.) and my contract work when I had 3-4 days off in between. I also drove around in a little ole' farm truck from time to time that was loaned to me by a friend and I rented a car (and took advantage of a one-time, special discount!) one week when I just needed to get around a bit and take care of some business. I also noticed that not having wheels readily available right outside my door meant I didn't just "take off" when I felt bored or wanted to "escape". Much like learning to "sit" in meditation, I deepened my ability to simply stay.

Was it awful, annoying, maddening, or unbearable? No. There were times when I felt some frustration, but these were my main takeaways:

  • I can't control uncontrollable conditions (such as parts held up on a dock in some far-away location), but I can control how I respond to them.

  • I can focus on something that feels good or be grateful for and let go of whatever "problem" exists about which I can do nothing.

  • When I focus on what's going well in my life, I seem to get more of the same.

  • I'm not going to change something by throwing a fit, pleading, begging, or demanding.

  • I can choose to either be without something I want and feel miserable, or I can be with something I want and be perfectly okay. What do I choose to focus on?

  • I'm in trouble if I think that if "they" would do something different, I would feel better. It's up to me to do something that will help me feel better and that might activate something different in others.

  • My meditation practice reminds me again and again -- if I withdraw from the world for fifteen minutes a day, my vibration rises naturally and I can get more comfortable with detachment. I can change my view point and start to see the fun and opportunity in a challenge.

  • We are not built to be unhappy all the time. There are always moments where we can find joy even though we might "think" we are in a crummy situation.

I'm sort of making plans for the next month or so -- we'll see what actually unfolds. Since this is my Happy, Healthy Habit newsletter, you might wonder what this long story has to do with health? Everything! Pushing against whatever doesn't seem to be going our way can be extremely stressful. It can trigger the release of cortisol, which over long-term (five and a half months?!?) can disrupt most of your body's processes and cause anxiety, weight gain, digestive and sleep problems, headaches, and memory impairment, to name a few. I encourage you to release resistance when it's not making you feel good and see if you can gravitate toward something satisfying. As always, remember to be care-full. I get it -- sometimes it's hard to see the solution when you're in the thick of the problem. If that's where you are, send me an email. We can set up a Discovery Session and look for "another way".

Happy Healthy Habit Hump Day,


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About the Author




Barbara L Cummings, MS, RN

is a sassy Queen-ager whose mission is to co-create a happier, healthier life with and for others.

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