This morning, I fell off a ladder.
Well, not actually a ladder, a step-stool. It was one of those metal ones you get at Home Depot with two stairs.
I was in my storage unit in front of the carport where I park my car at my home. Feeling pretty full of myself that I was up extra early to take care of this spontaneous task before the (unusual) intense Southern California heat kicks in today, I was sure I would be able to get in and out of the storage unit, collect the few things I was looking for, wipe my hands clean in celebration of my little accomplishment, and call it a day. It was a beautiful morning, clear, blue sky, birds chirping, peaceful. I had moved my car back a few feet to give myself room to move boxes and such into the front of the parking space. Recently my son, John, who takes the goal of organizing things as seriously as I do, helped me expertly reorganize this storage space a month ago and I knew things would be logical to find. When I swung open the two storage unit doors, I saw that the two items–the bronze/glass lamp I was trying to get (the one that I thought I wouldn’t be using for a while, if ever again…clearly I had forgotten how versatile it was) was at the back of the unit, and the lovely, canvas-painted picture of a Spring scene (which reminded me of my hometown in CT…why had I put that in storage anyway?) was right next to it. There they were–tempting me to figure out a way to get them as they stood, shining brightly, against the back of the storage unit wall.
So I said to myself, no problem, I’ll just, for a moment…hardly ANY time at all, get a teeniest, weeniest, little lift by standing on the top bar of the stool (not a stair!) for just the 1 second (long enough, right?) to swing/lift my knee into the storage unit. Afterall, sometimes in life you just need to improvise a little, so I thought, why not!
Well, you can probably figure out what happened next:
A milli-second into stepping onto the top bar which was maybe 5 feet high (and probably the instant before my brain registered that I was foolishly trying to use the top bar as a stair), my body twisted, I felt the stool collapse below me; in slow motion, and as if it was happening to someone else, I saw my body slamming against the concrete and I hit both my head against the front bumper of the car, and my back as it initially hit at an angle/wedged between the bumper and the ground. During these seconds, the classic “my life passed in front of me” happened. I wondered…”How bad could it be? It’s only a step-stool” …then, “How I will explain this to my kids”, “Is my head bleeding?”, “Did I break my back…will I be able to walk again”…”Maybe I’ll lose consciousness?” The visual slow motion effect stopped. I sat there, dizzy and shaken up, for what seemed like five minutes (although I suspect it was about a minute) and saw that I could move, but I was having a little trouble breathing and the back of my head hurt, as did my tailbone and my back between the base of my shoulders and and my shoulder blades. I knew it was a doozy and kept saying, “Don’t panic, don’t panic, don’t panic…you’re OK…you’re OK…you’re OK” and wondered what to do next.
I sat there feeling like the idiot I was for standing on the top bar of the stool, and ever so slowly decided to move ever so slowly to see if all my limbs worked first (they did) and to see if my head was bleeding (it wasn’t). I wondered if there was a paramedic around if he/she would tell me not to move. But I didn’t have my phone around me and I wasn’t sure anyone would find me for a while. For a moment, I was sort of grateful no one was around to see me because if they did, they might panic…and then I might too. Then I realized that was a ridiculous thing to wish for since I didn’t know yet if I was really hurt. Still calming myself down, slowly, after about 5 minutes, I gathered my keys, and walked back into my home, taking some ibuprofen to help prevent any swelling(?), and breathing slowly, drinking water, and reevaluating my priorities for the day.
I was quite satisfied that the lamp and canvas picture could wait for another day (heck, right now they have completely lost their appeal!) when I have proper tools (a real ladder), and….help!
Like many women, I love my independence. It feels good to know that I can take care of many things on my own. It’s an important character trait for anyone to be self-sufficient. But there’s a limit–and sometimes it’s important to swap out the temporary thrill of handling something on your own to be sure you are using your senses.
Having spent some time in recent years learning how NOT to be Superwoman, my step-stool (aka ‘falling off a ladder’) fiasco this morning surprised me. I realized that although I have a good plan for my life, once in a while I slip up and try to do too much. Even though I wrote a book which promotes the benefits of creating a collaborative shared-meal plan(–emphasizing asking for and taking the help of others in your home/in your life to help make your 1 time a day shared-meal plan a reality–) it’s very easy in our busy lifestyles to fall into the habit of doing it all yourself.
We have to come to our senses if we are to preserve our good health–and I mean physically and emotionally. This isn’t about compromising your personal strength or integrity or being any less of a powerful woman, or a powerful man. It’s simply that there are times when it just makes sense to wait and ask for help, including at work (why have to prove you are smarter than everyone else) or at home (a few extra hands lightens the load with just about any maintenance/chore in the home…so why is it 10pm and you’re still washing the dishes”), and, of course when keeping to a shared-meal ritual (one meal together every day is totally achievable, with a plan that includes people working together).
Don’t wait to ‘fall off a ladder’ to ask for help. You could get really hurt (or worse), you could be burning yourself out, or you could be living in a state of constant discontent with your life because you always feel over-extended.
Ask yourself, “What do I have to gain?” by asking someone for help (in my step-stool bang-my-head case), I could have gained a nice visit with my son, lots of laughter and hugs, and we could have shared a meal together. Alternatively, “What do I have to lose?” (my health, my sanity, my joy…to name a few things.) It’s quite natural to ask for help really. It’s modern-day living that allows us to do so much on our own, that we forget that fact.
I guarantee you you will feel better when you take a closer look at the things in your life in which you really could use someone else’s helping hands.
Just ask for help. (And while you’re at it, offer yours.)
At the very least, you’ll avoid a sore back.
If you’d like to learn more about ways to develop a shared-meal ritual, gaining the help of people in your home, or with friends outside your home, join The Shared-Meal Revolution! Explore my website here for information about the book and for helpful information to get you started.