<24 Hours Later or What I Learned Post-Car Accident by Chel Wolverton

The past 24 hours have been crazy. I had a great evening and was feeling happy (as evidenced by a quick photo before getting in my car, smiling no less!) and in an instant it all changed. 

I no longer have car. It's weird. I felt weird when I realized I became a driver again and a good one. It feels weird to know that I won't have my own car again for at least a couple weeks, if not longer.

Seconds and my world exploded with pain and confusion and the aftermath of that explosion is a lot of navigation of bureaucracy.

I'm not seriously injured. Let me tell you - I'm beyond grateful the events unfolded the way that they did. There were a lot of missed worse chances in that mix and I'm pretty happy with the outcome...to the extent that I can be. I can breathe and I can walk. That's a pretty good deal.

So what have I learned?

  1. It reinforced my life lessons for dealing with change. Plenty of changes to navigate and staying glued to one thing won't help.  Forward.
  2. I'm adamant more than ever that we should be open and forthcoming about how we feel, who we are and what makes us happy with the people that we love and care for. 100%, remember?
  3. Science rules all in life and death and physics is the master of car accidents. We puny humans are just along for the ride. Skin and bones wrapped up in fiberglass, metal, and concrete. 
  4. This one is rather obvious. Things will hurt. It will suck. Advil is my friend. I was sore near my spine where the seat broke, now my knee is forming a huge bruise from impact. My ribs ache a bit and I have a vague headache I'm paying attention to. Ouch.
  5. I lost a lot of filters. I said something very blunt to someone today. It was something necessary with a mix of context and caring. I still am not sure how it was taken, but hopefully I'll find out.
  6. The emotional roller coaster is going the full gambit of ups and downs. I've done: happy to be alive, tears born of disappointment and fear, anger at the loss, sad about things I haven't yet done, frustration at the other driver, eagerness to let people know I care, desire to be close to other human beings, the need for an adrenaline rush to know I'm still alive, terror because of replays and bad dreams, delight at coffee, pleasure in the sunshine and cool breeze and sleepiness to process all of the other things.
  7. I have people who love me. I panicked because my phone wouldn't work to make calls last night and posted to Facebook instead to reach someone. I'm loved. I'm sure of that. 

I've spent a great deal of the day feeling like I've missed doing something important that I can't quite put into words. It's actually a conflicting feeling and isn't helping with the emotional roller coaster part of things. Maybe I'll figure out what it is at some point and handle it.

Say what you need to say in the moments that present themselves to you. Don't wait for everything to be just so. Be you, open and honestly. Tomorrow is promised to no one. Today is life.

xoxo, Chel

Passion and Strength by Chel Wolverton

Those aspiring to enlightenment
are advised to hold in their hearts
the reassuring truth that
the inside of the universe is vast enough
to contain comfortably
all the paradoxes;
all the pieces of the puzzle
that we have not yet touched.

-Stephen K. Hayes

I’m passionate about a number of things. I’m also a strong person. I don’t doubt how I feel. I don’t question my feelings often, if ever. After leaving the dark at 1 am, I went on to a place I should have never ventured and then moved back to Boston days later. I couldn't have done that without both - passion and strength combined.

Some people in this world dislike when women demonstrate passion (physical or emotional). As if the show of emotion weakens strength. There is something fundamentally wrong about our presumption that a woman's passion and intellect must oppose each other.

Humans are multi-layered individuals. Within there can exist a duality of wanting to be alone and being perfectly fine with solidarity and yet wanting a connection with another human being in a committed relationship. Each of those desires can co-exist in the same individual, male or female.

At different stages in my life, it has been that combination of passion and strength that helped me make tough choices, to bring me back to where I needed to be. I must be able to wield both, not just one or the other. I happily embrace both now in many aspects of my life. I make no apologies for that. 

Fiction Writing Challenge: Love Story From a Favorite Song by Chel Wolverton

A departure from my writing as you may know it or have come to know it these last few weeks. I decided to take a writing challenge. The challenge was to write a love story about your favorite song. It seemed the perfect invitation as my favorite music has been playing in my head during runs and this story was dying to get out.

You’ll notice a few song verses scattered throughout rather than just one. This is because no one song fit the story I’m telling below. I cheated a bit on the challenge to make the story what it is now, but I suppose that’s what the “creative” in creative writing allows me to do here. The songs you’ll see mentioned are mostly by my good friend, Matthew Ebel, a extremely talented, geeky, fun piano rocker located in the Boston area. We met years ago and I’ve carried his music around with me quite a bit. (Yes, there are others and yes one is a JT song.)

His music and the songs below are well worth a few minutes of your time to listen. (If you are a Hitchhiker’s fan, check out Goodbye Planet Earth especially.)

It’s been a very long time since I’ve shared my creative writing with anyone, so welcome along for that ride.

###

The airport was packed full of people and noise. It was 3 pm on a Thursday afternoon. She was flying away - after planning for three months - it was just about boarding time.

People were starting to crowd around the little lane constructed by some posts and a large rubber band. It’s amazing, she thought, how people can’t wait to get on a tin can for 5+ hours. Airports are definitely a place where patience isn’t a virtue.  Awaiting the call for first class, she sat in a seat trying not to think of the day past and the tears that came so easily when no call came to her cell phone.

When she arrived at the airport she put the phone away knowing that her hopes would keep her glancing at it and she couldn’t handle much more of her imagination running away with her sanity. Phone away, headphones on, music playing, she sat back and watched the people at her gate as her mind wandered.

Two weeks ago a notice was given, she’d held it inside until she couldn’t bear not saying something anymore. She was leaving. Running away isn’t much like our heroine in this story but for once she knew she wouldn’t be able to move forward if she stayed. 

“I’m going to travel for a while, start in Ireland, walk for a while and see what happens before moving on to other places. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before, though I don’t think that it'll change anything for you one way or another,” she told him that night.

He had looked shocked. The blood drained from his face. While his face said he was both surprised and not particularly pleased, his voice was calm and cool and accepting of her choice. She hadn’t known what to make of his response. She still didn’t, though now the scene in her mind evolves into pain each time she recalls it.

“It’s probably for the best,” he had remarked. There was no hiding the hurt in her face. She’d never been good at hiding her emotions anyway and they had agreed on 100% honesty. Never only 90%. And frankly, “probably for the best” wasn’t the response she was hoping to hear.

Even with the promise of 100%, she still held some things back. In this case she never mentioned the hurt she was feeling. She might prefer the honesty, but this time she wanted to avoid a fight and experience a long goodbye more than the pursuit of honest conversation.

Static crackled. “We are now boarding all first class passengers.” Picking up her pack, she glanced one last time to the waiting throngs of people before slinging it on her shoulders and heading toward the rubber bands and door to another life. 

In the air 4 hours later, “Tenneesse Never Cried” played in her ears, tears stream down her face...

“I wanted to run
I wanted to fly
and I didn’t want to abandon
all that we had…"

Her phone buzzed - the text reads “How are you doing up there?” Her closest friend knows she’s going to be struggling to feel confident about her choice right about now. “I’m okay, but I’ll talk with you when I land.” She still needed some space from everything she’d left in her now former city. “Okay, but do call me,” the next text had read.

Her tears dried and she drifted off into a fitful sleep, suddenly in a different time and a different space, gentle sunlight cast the room with a glow, windows open with crisp fall air creeping through. She recalls the warmth beside her in that morning, the feel of his hair against her cheek, his head resting on her chest, facial hair scratching her skin, his arms wrapped around her. Tender moments play through her dreams like a film and yet, reality intrudes - and the light faded out. The plane had shuddered a bit and she was awake and a fresh wave of both heartache and tears washed over her. 

The flight attendant saw her awake and walked over to ask if she’d like to have a bite to eat or something to drink. She opted for the drink, a good strong Irish whiskey would serve, after all a flight to Ireland should include whiskey, should it not?

Her drink was delivered as one of her old favorite songs started in her ears.

"Please come closer, I don’t mind.
There’s room for two in here, just crawl inside.”

She began to recall their first meeting. The startling desire to embrace him. The smiles exchanged. No words were said by either. Nothing remarkable had happened other than their meeting. And a feeling that something had happened that changed everything for her, even if she couldn’t name it at the time. She’d think about that moment for the weeks to come. It stuck with her as a constant buzz.

Next shuffle was mid-way through when a flash of anger hit her again, mixed with a heady dose of fresh pain.

"She could scream at you until her vocal folds sever,
while you’d be diving headfirst into your next endeavor.”

Aye, that pretty much said it all. She had felt like screaming a few days after letting him know she was leaving. His reaction to her plans had filled her with hot anger. Fear of everything that would happen if he embraced that change - deciding between the known and unknown isn’t a trifle. It takes courage, courage that she had always had. She had tried to push the anger down and reach for understanding as much as she could, but there were moments when she felt rage in response to his fear.

She heard the warble of announcement through her headphones and the next shuffle that they’d be landing soon. Trance-y music filled her ears and the song made her recall departing each other after a long afternoon full of passion and snuggles.

"Loving me is not
convenient, no,
but its worth the time
or so I’m told."

The words made her feel more regret at not being more understanding, at not letting go of her anger more easily than she had been. That, perhaps from his point of view, he had tried his best to find his way through.

Letting the music play, she thought it’d be good to distract herself with a bit of reading. At some point she knew that she had to let the memories exist without leaving herself in them for too long. It might be best to try for that now. She’d have plenty of time over the next few months to drift back through them.

Before long the plane touched the ground with a jolt, her attention span was short but reading helped take her mind off things. Approaching the gate, the plane came to a stop and the familiar chime rang throughout the filled passenger cabin. Up and ready to move, she grabbed her pack and prepared to step off the plane. The flight attendant seem preoccupied with a short call and static came across the speakers before she announced due to some confusion at the gate there’d be a short delay in deplaning.

When the doors finally opened, she managed to be the first off the plane and as she approached the terminal she could hear a thread of music filling her ears. Checking her phone, she saw that she hadn’t forgotten to turn it off after pulling out the headphones. She was looking down as she stepped into the terminal, and when her attention turned to navigating the people waiting to board the plane she’d just left and oddly, people were staring at her. She stopped in the middle of the gate area when she noticed a familiar face standing in her way, a friend who couldn’t possibly be standing there. 

“What are you doing here?” she asked with awe and perhaps a bit of anxiousness in her voice.

“This.” He started to play a piano in front of him and soon the air filled with music again and his beautiful voice and violin strings as well. Turning to see a second friend adding his talents to the mix, those feelings turned to confusion.

Familiar music filled the air as the song's first verse comes out of the speakers: 

“Said all I want from you is to see you tomorrow."

Her face full of questions, she jumped as she felt familiar arms wrapping around her from behind, the alarm subsided as a warm voice in her ear, speaking the song from the first word.

"And every tomorrow, maybe you'll let me borrow your heart
And is it too much to ask for every Sunday
And while we're at it, throw in every other day to start"

After the first verse, she pulled away to look in his eyes, feeling both elation and anger. Anger won. “You let me go. Without a word. I gave you every chance to say something, do anything. Especially last night. No, just no. I finally accepted the world around you wasn’t going to change, that you wouldn’t let it. How are you even here?" she blurted out that last bit trying to buy some time to think.

He took her hand and swung her around back around to face the crowd, hugging her to him and started to whisper in her ear again. Once he started to speak, the music started to fade a bit on her, but filled in the spaces between what he had to say.

“I remembered what you said about about the flights you chose and decided to beat you here. I knew if I were here, that if I put this effort into being here and bringing these guys with me, you’d at least hear me out,” he explained, “I’m here. I’m not scared anymore. I’m more scared of what my life is without you. I not to stop you, but to go with you. You just have to say the word and I’ll follow. We’ll work through things together, there will be rough patches, but there will be joy and laughter."

Her anger started to subside and tears streamed down her face, her head fell forward onto his chest. Taking that as a yes, a smile filled his face. When she looked up at him, tears and light filled her eyes. She nodded her head slightly, his smile widened and they turned together, hand in hand, to listen.

###

I struggled a bit on how I wanted to end this one. I knew when I began writing that I didn't want to place the focus on who this couple is, their names, their faces, how exactly the relationship started, the circumstances surrounding "probably for the best", or even where they would end up a few years from this time. It's meant to be a short, a story about how songs can be interpreted many different ways by individuals listening and this is how my brain played out said story.

The song that I began to write to was "Not a Bad Thing", but as I wrote, I realized several songs fit the story I was trying to tell better than only one. Thus the creative license. I also considered many others, since I've multiple favorites, including Black Lab's Ghost In Your Mind, which haunts me when I hear Paul start to sing. I've included a video of that one below, just for fun.

Grace in moments of darkness by Chel Wolverton

It was 1 am and I was smack dab in the middle of nowhere, except for the fact that I was sitting in front of my momma's house.  No one was home, unusual in itself given she loves being at home, out in the woods, playing video games or cooking.  Everything I owned was in my car.

Looking out the window, I felt nothing but panic.  I grew up running around in fields and in the woods out in the dark with nothing but fireflies lighting my way.  But this time, I couldn't breathe. Not because it was dark, but because it was so empty.

I transported myself out of some misguided sense of direction some 1300 miles away from Boston, where I'd spent 4 months of my life making strides in business and meeting people who made me think. Then I left.  There were numerous reasons including a life altering decision that seemed like the best choice given all my options.

Most of my life I've faced one challenge or another.  Nothing special, plenty of people have faced darker roads.  But mine kept leading me back to those small towns that I desperately hated.

A smattering of small depressed towns just trying to keep the lights on.  I grew up with a hearing disability that kept me from hearing my teachers, parents, friends and family a lot of the time.  I loved mathematics and reading, because equations didn't have emotions and the books did.

I had a child just after I turned 17, married and then left 10 months later when it turned abusive. I've worked in a law office (where I quit after finding out we were defending a child molester), in more than one factory, and owned steel toe boots.  My last job before starting my own business was working a temp job at Teleflora during Mother's Day.  I processed credit card numbers by hand for 6 hours a day.

###

I had to make a choice that led me to that moment at 1 am. Life happened. When life happens, you learn quickly (well, some of us do) that it's important to cut yourself some slack, turn painful experiences into valuable lessons, and use them to help you grow.  It's difficult. Most change we resist is.

A handful of lessons from change: Learning acceptance is a valuable tool. Rolling with the punches will save your sanity more often than not. You will need kind, loyal, and "punch you in the face with the truth" friends to keep you straight.

When faced with scary next chapter type choices, we often argue with ourselves what's right and how we'll make everything be okay.  The idea of destroying everything we have in the moment for an inkling of what we want feels scary and wrong. We hope that we're making the right choice to make ourselves (eventually) happy. The key to being okay with making such choices is about being okay in each moment. (Not the moment three months from now.)

Then there are painful "choices".  The ones that hurt and rub our skin raw.  Losing someone we love through death or by their own choices. These painful choices that we have some control over, yet no control over. 

Sometimes we realize there isn't a way to have the things we never knew we wanted until we did know, just that moment.  And then like the wind the chance disappears leaving us grasping for what we've lost. Offering everything, but giving nothing and suddenly we know it's time to walk away. The pieces of heartbreak make us feel as if someone has shattered our sense of courage and we just can't handle much more without flying into the most vicious rage. 

But then the grace makes a return appearance.  Things get melded slightly differently and we have an understanding of all the pieces and what they mean to us and those around us.  

We will still hurt.

We will carry over pieces of those hurts over. The ones and twos of life that stack higher in the next column and add up to more strength than we knew we were capable of.  We grow and shift with each equation.  In the end, the sum of all parts can be strength, courage, fearlessness.  A hard won warrior's strength to face anything and make the best of what life asks.

All from moments in the dark.

5 Chel Favorites by Chel Wolverton

I felt like sharing a few things I love that I hope you will as well. 

1. The 1920s. Beautiful era. JT's Suit & Tie brings this back the right way. Plus the moves. Directing is here is really well done. You don't expect Jay Z to rap in the middle, but it works oh so well.

2.  Jazzy love songs. It's not Etta, but damn Cyndi does a fantastic job here. Oh heck, listen to Etta's and then listen to Cyndi's. I fell in love with this song after watching two of my favorite characters get married after 9 years of show....thanks, Hart, really.

3. Union Sq. Donuts. Look if you haven't had a Maple Bacon donut at least once, you haven't lived. Oh, and Brown Butter Hazelnut and Malted Milk Chocolate. Mmmmm. ALL THE DONUTS. (You're welcome.) #cheatdaysFTW

4. Happyish. I blew through Season 1 and am obsessed. You should try it (1st epi free here). I've laughed every episode, nearly spit out my drink multiple times, and watched a porn star compare porn to corporate America. Not to mention, this so nails agency life in a shockingly accurate way (in real life it's less funny). I can't put into words how perfect this is for most of my friends to watch. Plus Bradley Whitford. (Thanks, Lauren!)

5. Rucking. If you follow me on social channels, I've been talking about this ALL WEEK LONG. Ahem, #sorrynotsorry, but if you're wondering what rucking is and have a minute, watch this. It's pretty simple and has great benefits. I can't wait to get started this weekend. :D

Share some of your favorite things below with me please. Always up for fun and new things to read/watch. Hope these make you laugh and/or smile.

xo - Chel