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Tangled Days and Healing Responses

Though we got up on time for that special day not much after that seemed to go well. We were in Ottawa for a medal ceremony and scheduled to fly home that night. Or so we thought. As I dressed to go out for breakfast Paul checked the flight information on his computer only to realize that he had mistakenly booked for the next day. Yikes! That wasn’t going to work for either of us. We decided to call the airline and change the flight, but after breakfast. Paul dressed and as we were about to leave I realized his shirt was on inside out!

Back in the hotel room dressing to go out for the ceremony, the agent on the phone with Paul was most helpful; but the $1,700 change fee she wanted to charge was not! “No,” she answered when Paul asked her, “going to the airport and waiting on standby was not an option.” The original tickets cost half that amount so we had to find another way but as Paul was trying to explain this the portable phone he was using went dead, and we had also now run out of time. We didn’t want to be late for the ceremony.

It’s very difficult to relax when you think that doom is waiting for you and your underwear is uncomfortable - more about the underwear in a moment.

The 'worry of doom' I could do something about. As I waited for our guests to arrive at the ceremony I played the ‘what if’ game. What if we had to stay another night? What calls would I have to make, who would I have to apologize to and who would I have to ask for help? What if we had to pay the $1,700? That would certainly mean a huge dent in our finances, could we recover? Would we have to borrow the money? What if we went to the airport and tried to change the ticket there? If that worked, great, if not, we were back to our original two options. And so I settled letting the worry go. I knew all the options, the worst-case scenario, and that I would live no matter what happened.

The underwear, well, turned out I was more than nervous before we left for the ceremony. As Paul had done with his shirt earlier my underwear was not only inside out, it was also askew. Happily, I had the opportunity to change before we went to the airport to try our luck in person.

The line was short at the ticket counter but the wait was long. There was a customer already at the counter and one man waiting in line ahead of us. He fidgeted the entire time. The customer at the counter eventually left and two young women sauntered over. The agent took them. The man in front of us was upset and let his annoyance be known. As he came back he looked at us and said he was going to leave to telephone the airline, and reluctantly offered us his spot at the head of the line. We suggested he stay put and make the call, see who came through first.

As he waited on his cell phone, he kept saying he was never going to get through. I suggested that he have a more positive attitude. I had been saying the same thing to Paul. Don’t get discouraged, imagine us going home tonight, and that all is well. Even if it wasn't going to do anything for our bank account it was soothing my nerves and making the long wait a little more bearable. Before his phone call was over the gentleman in front of us was called to the counter and seemed to have gotten what he wanted and quite quickly.

We were next. With a deep breath we approached and Paul relayed our dilemma to the agent. He checked his system and said we could get on the flight we wanted but it would cost $150. Were we willing to pay that fee? Heck, yeah!!!

Just about the time the transaction was finished another agent came up to inform everyone that there was bad weather along the Eastern seaboard of the United States. It was likely that all flights to New York would be cancelled. “What about Washington, DC?” I asked. “The weather is in that area too but nothing has been cancelled so far,” replied the agent. Well, I could do nothing about the weather so I had to continue my practice of staying centered on the positive.

The flight was delayed so I got more reading done in the terminal. We finally boarded, pulled away from the gate then stopped. The Washington airport was now closed but hoped to reopen soon. We would sit in the airplane on the tarmac, engines off, for another hour. I got more work done, more deep breathing and meditation, and lots of positive talk - both to myself and with Paul. In the end we made it home that night.

As I thought about that day I realize how difficult it is to have to face one adversity after another and remain positive. The gentleman in the line up was showing me how I would look if chose not to be positive. He demonstrated annoyance, impatience, and the inability to relax or treat other people in a civil manner. None of this bodes well for managing difficult situations and ones we can do nothing about.

Chronic pain is like that. You have to work with what you have to keep your stress level low. Your body needs to use its reserves for healing and pain management, not for managing stress. Record a guided visualization and keep it on your phone. Carry something to read that is inspiring and uplifting. Be extra careful with the words you speak and notice the ones that are running through your head. When all else fails notice your breath, as you breathe in and breathe out.

I’d love to hear your story about a time you were able to maintain your ability to stay positive despite the difficulties facing you. Share your story on Facebook and inspire someone else.

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