Reminders to slow down this Fourth of July and all year long
It had been a fabulous weekend! Our daughters were in Atlanta helping a friend celebrate her 13th birthday. My sister, Heidi Hovland, made an impromptu trip to Huntsville, Alabama to spend some quality time with our mom and me.
We had a jam-packed visit. Heidi came in late Friday night, flying into Nashville, renting a car and heading straight to North Alabama. On Saturday, we enjoyed time at the Huntsville Botanical Garden and Bridge Street, a girly lunch at Connors and a lovely dinner (my husband, David, got to come to this one) at Grille 29. On Sunday, I introduced Heidi to our Church with an 11am service at St. Mark’s Lutheran, which was followed by grocery store runs, library runs, a workout and other must-dos.
After a full weekend, I drove Heidi back to Nashville to catch her return flight to New Jersey. We left at 5:30 am Monday and had two solid hours of sisterly heart-to-hearts. The drive there was wonderful and relaxed. I mentioned that I had to be careful. Tennessee State Troopers would be out in force; after all, it was a long Fourth of July holiday weekend. They would be watching for speeders and drunk and distracted drivers. Fortunately, Heidi and I hit the road early enough to avoid feeling rushed. We soaked in the incredible scenery between the Rocket and Music Cities.
I dropped Heidi off at the Nashville Airport with time to spare. We said our goodbyes and, for me, it was off to the races. My ADD kicked into high gear. Instead of focusing on the two-hour journey ahead, I started a growing to-do list in my head: Fold the laundry, paint the bathroom, walk 7 miles, etc… Suddenly the relaxed mentality with which I had driven to Nashville transformed into an anxious, gotta’-get-back-to-Huntsville-as-soon-as-possible mindset.
Somewhere south of Cool Springs, Waze rerouted me to avoid a horrible standstill on 65 South. Waze is the magical traffic and navigational app designed to save users time and money. It redirected me onto a two-lane highway in Maury County. My mind raced. So, too, did my car, speeding past the beautiful scenery. I paid little attention to the goats, cows and classic red barns dotting the landscape. I also failed to notice the reduced speed limit. After all, this was just a detour. I was saving so much time.
Until a Tennessee State Trooper passed me in the opposite lane. I looked at my speedometer. Time suddenly slowed down. I tried to, as well. I watched him from my rearview mirror as he did a u-turn, flipped on his flashing lights and sped ahead. Another driver, also from Alabama, and I both pulled over. Two-for-one!
It had been decades since I got a speeding ticket. While not an outrageous speed violation, it was a violation nonetheless. And it cost me $247.50. When the trooper handed me the ticket, I told him he hurt my heart. He smiled, but didn’t care. I was one of dozens he would likely stop during the holiday weekend
This happened on a day I had taken off of work. I had no reason to rush. Even if I did, the time and money it cost me wasn’t worth it. No excuses.
The officer was kind, professional and patient. He told me I could appear in court on August 18th and could probably avoid the ticket if I went to driving school. “In Tennessee?” I asked. “Yes, in Tennessee,” he said. It looks like I’ll be forking over $250.
I was angry with myself, but fully accepted the blame and costly consequence. I always tell our girls: “Do what you’re supposed to do and bad things are less likely to happen.” It was time to take my own advice. I made a renewed commitment to slow down, on the literal and figurative roads of my life. I had to slow down the spinning wheels in my mind and the speeding wheels of my vehicle. After all, our time on earth is limited and I don’t want to miss a moment with my mother, husband, our children or other family and friends. Plus, follow the rules of the road and we’re all more likely to stay safe, right?
Shortly after I resumed my ride, I stopped at a gas station. Power Ball was up to $121 million. Before I went in, I called my husband to deliver the bad news: “Don’t get mad at me, but… Oh, and by the way, I’m buying lottery tickets.”
“Why not,” he responded. “Today’s your lucky day.”
Happy Fourth of July, everyone. Thanks to all of our service men and women who continue to secure our nation’s independence and freedom. A special thanks to the police officers, sheriff’s deputies and state troopers who monitor us on the roads in an effort to keep everyone safe and remind us to slow down — on the roads and in our lives.