Friday, March 24, 2006


Those of you who followed my trip across country two years ago may remember the email I sent out titled 15 minutes ahead of the tornados about my drive from Oklahoma to Dallas. Ever since I moved to the Austin area I’ve been happily telling people that while Texas does get tornados they never come to Austin. That, of course, was just asking for trouble.

Last weekend, late Sunday night, they started warning that tornados might be headed for Austin. There were things showing up on radar that looked very scary. At least one tornado had already touched down in this storm’s path.

Fortunately, the storm started to fall apart right before it reached here. We still got heavy rain and some areas of Austin had small hail. But it was nothing like what they feared might hit. And I found myself thinking of that trip 2 years ago when I was driving 15 minutes ahead of the tornados.

I often get caught up in feeling as if I should be accomplishing more. It’s only when I stop and remember where I was a year or two ago that I realize how much I’ve done. On that trip, 2 years ago, I didn’t know where I was going or what the circumstances of my life were going to be. I still carried the weight of all the negative things anyone had ever said to me. It wasn’t until Austin, some of you will remember, that I realized I didn’t have to feel guilty about wanting to have a coffee maker! Those of you who were getting my email back then will remember how surprised I was at how easily I fit in everywhere I went and the respect with which I was treated.

I mention all of this for a couple of reasons. One is that I want to show how important it can be to stop and look back and compare where we were to where we are now, to give ourselves credit for how far we’ve come. Because I think it’s way too easy to get used to what we accomplish and discount it, thinking that if WE could do it, how impressive could it be? We find it way too easy to focus instead on what we haven’t done that we think we should have accomplished by now. It’s way too easy to forget that we are on our own path and there may be no clear road map for that path. That we can’t compare who we are and what we are doing with what anyone else is doing because we are all different and what we need may be completely different from what is right for someone else.

I mention all of this also because it is so important to realize that we all carry assumptions about ourselves and those assumptions may be all wrong. And the only way we can discover that is to step outside our comfort zones to challenge those assumptions.

Some of you know that I lived most of my life believing I was tone deaf—until I decided to try to play the violin and discovered that within 24 hours I could play Beethoven’s Ode to Joy perfectly in tune.

It was only when I made this cross country trip that I discovered I really could trust my instincts and my intelligence and my resilience.

Two years ago, as I out ran those tornados, literally 15 minutes behind me, I wondered if I was out of my mind for making that journey. Now, two years later, I am so very glad I did.