Making myself a priority

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January 31st is finally here. This is the day that 1099s are due, and it’s generally one of the longest days of the year for me. But this year is different, because this is the year I said ‘no’ to all of the last minute requests to prepare 1099s (or at least advised they wouldn’t be completed on time). This is the year that I’m prioritizing very differently.

Like many women I know, I have put the priorities of others above my own for as many years as I can remember. I have put the wants, needs, and happiness of others above my own, all by my own volition. But this is the year I prioritize myself. I’ve been working at this for a while now, and I’m down to only two rules.

1. KEEP A CLEAR CONSCIENCE. Since I have to live with myself and the choices I make, I don’t do anything that will keep me up at night. This is about emotional stress for me much more than work stress, and it’s toxic!

2. THERE ARE NO RULES. This one will take a bit of explaining, but it’s the fun one 😁.

At some point we all have events in our lives that change us. The one that changed my life the most, the catalyst for the extreme changes of the last few years, was actually a horseback riding accident. Now, don’t get the wrong impression — my horses are very well trained, and the accident was entirely my fault (no crazy horse to blame)! 

It was a beautiful Saturday morning in July in North Carolina. The heat and humidity become so oppressive by 10:00 AM at that time of year, we thought it best to start our ride early in the day.

Diamond, my lovely Bay Gelding, was having a great day. It was common for him to rush the trails we were riding because we were close to home, but today he was taking his time and enjoying the ride as much as I was. So when we reached the grassy opening at the top of the hill heading towards home, I asked my niece beside me if she’d like to canter a bit (that means moving at a faster pace, for you non-horse people 🏇). 

About halfway across the field, with the wind in my hair and a grin spanning the width of my face, my belt got HOOKED OVER THE SADDLE HORN. I was bent in an awkward position, and Diamond started to get nervous. I could feel him grow uneasy and his back begin to drop beneath me. Still, I couldn’t stop to calm him because we were moving too fast and I was hooked.

Diamond and I are on the right.  Different day, same horse.

As Ashley rode up on us, Diamond panicked. I felt him begin to buck, and the next thing I remember I was laying in the wet grass, struggling to inhale enough breath to whisper 9…1…1.  I couldn’t move, and although I’d hit the ground many times over the years, there was no comparison to the pain I was feeling in that moment; taking a single breath required serious effort.

That’s when the angel appeared over me. No, wait — that didn’t actually happen…that was everyone else! I didn’t have any epiphanies or out of body experiences during the first ambulance ride, nor during the long (second) ambulance ride from Catawba Valley Medical Center in Hickory to the Spine Center at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital in Raleigh. And I still didn’t have any revelations while lying in either hospital bed dying of thirst for many hours (even being denied ice while they determined exactly which bones I had fractured). 

That’s right, my most vivid memory was about thirst, because apparently the drugs took care of most of the pain 🤤. Ultimately, my perspective was changed by a culmination of experiences and realizations that formed when I became aware of my surroundings at the first hospital. During the month I wore a body brace that looked like a turtle shell, and throughout the year it took to get back to a place where I could walk with minimal pain, I experienced so much personal growth and transformation.

I’m so glad the hard part is out of the way, because now I get to have some fun! This morning I’ll be walking around Medellin, Colombia, taking advantage of this beautiful life and taking tons of pictures to share!  But just so you don’t have to wait, here are a few pictures from yesterday.  One from dinner (you can guess) and one from my apartment window.

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