by Caroline von Fluegge-Chen
“David! Put your jeans on!! I think patients are at the door!!! Hurry!!”
I never thought I would utter those words in my own office. Good grief!
The back story:
Last Monday, the morning Irma was brewing, my husband and I left the house at 4 AM as it started to rain and headed to Buckhead to babysit the office. We packed an air mattress, pillows, blankets, charged laptops, enough clothing for a few days, the dog, and an assortment of random food from the fridge. Admittedly, I had watched too much of the Weather Channel storm coverage, but I wanted to be prepared.
Two days earlier, a patient was speculating (for a reallllly long time) how my office could flood…again. She was lying down and completely unaware that my positive energy of five minutes earlier was now a tornado of anger, fear and frustration as I stood over her back. I decided not to adjust her because my soul, intention and heart were not in healing mode. The last thing one should do is mess with your chiropractor’s headspace. I quietly walked to my office and sat…and waited. When Holly informed me the patient was still here, I adjusted her but admittedly, it was not my best work.
My mind was racing. In 12-years of being in this building, Balance Atlanta had flooded 13 times due to exterior drainage issues. Each episode was a major pain in more ways than one. Would flying debris and scaffolding from the construction site across the street break my windows? Being in Buckhead with possible power outages, would there be looting of anything not anchored down? One violation of HIPAA equals a 10K fine x thousands of patient files strewn over Atlanta = I’d be the newest cast member to join Orange is the New Black Fulton County style. By nature, I’m not a Nervous Nellie, but from experience, I couldn’t count on the leasing office to keep me informed so I took matters into my own hands. Balance Atlanta is my baby, my livelihood. Irrational fears? Most likely. But I don’t take chances.
I knew my head was in the toilet as I ruminated over the weekend what may happen if Irma’s wrath was as nasty as Jim Cantore’s people were projecting. When I am annoyed with myself, I dwell. And then I snap out of it because being annoying is really annoying. I realized I cannot control someone’s words or vibe. We are human, we absorb, we react, and most of the time we are not particularly aware.
Guilty on my end, too. No doubt. I decided to do the opposite of staying in fear. I looked inward and asked myself what brings me tranquility. The weekend took a turn for the better.
Water. Open air. Trees. So David and I went to the lake and swam. That was clarity. Long distance cycling. Why had I not been riding? The lamest answer ever: I didn’t have a good bike rack. Dismantling my bike was a pain. I didn’t want grease all over the seats. So I bought a top notch bike rack and got on the saddle. I rode and rode and rode feeling the power of my legs. That was freedom. The next day, I visited a meditation center in Decatur I was meaning to check out. Focus. Breathe. Relax. Be aware. Let it go. Expand. Bring light. That was peace. The answers are within us. The trick is not to let external shenanigans throw us off course repeatedly. #miyagi.
By the time Monday’s rain came, I was mentally in a different place than I was on Friday evening. Air bnb Balance Atlanta was open, the office will be protected, we’re “glamping” in Buckhead.
Yes. Patients showed up…unexpectedly at 8:15 AM. Bang, bang, bang. The door was locked. My husband was in boxers working in my back office…hence the “David put on pants..!!” comment. I was sound asleep because the report of findings room/master suite was pitch black and I was tired from being awake the previous night.
So I stumbled out in my gym clothes, barefoot with bedhead and adjusted a few spines. I couldn’t show one person his x-rays because my mattress was in the way of the computer. I couldn’t believe how many people called to ask if I was open. Dedication is great. But when there’s is a storm brewing outside, even Dr. C doesn’t feel like being Dr. C. #mortaljustlikeyou
When a new-ish patient saw our “master suite,” she laughed with me. “I like you even better now, Dr. Caroline. You’re real.” We spoke for a while because I sensed she wasn’t in a good space. Her dad was gravely ill. I knew how she felt, having lost both of my parents to cancer. No one will understand the pain until they go through such loss themselves. I don’t think the adjustment is where we bonded. We connected soul to soul while we hugged.
And that’s the point of this. Yes. I am real. I pick up energy all day long from others. (So keep it postive…pleaaaase…). Often I struggle to diffuse this mishmash of vibes so my own mind/body/spirit remain grounded. This is something I have to consciously work at. As I said earlier, I cannot control others, I can only manage my own awareness, focus, reaction, and intentions. This is a lesson for all of us.#inthetrenchestoo. And we wonder why we don’t sleep, have neck issues, clench jaws? Mindfulness is not easy. It’s a practice. You don’t get trophy or a FB like. It’s the discipline of learning to be grounded which provides us with the flexibility to weather internal storms.
If you take a look at the pictures, you’ll notice a Waffle House menu. David and I became bored and decided to go out for breakfast. The random assortment of food from home – kale, Greek yogurt, gluten-free crackers were just not hitting the spot on a stormy day. Big deal. I ate a waffle. It didn’t kill me. Life goes on. #keepitreal. The iPhone tripod on my keychain is equipped with a bottle opener, to David’s surprise. He enjoyed an Angry Orchard hard cider and a bowl of Cheetos while on a conference call. #heeatswhathewants. Meanwhile, I was up front hiding behind Holly’s desk keeping an eye on a drunken lunatic who was scoping my office from outside. I decided I had enough. I popped up from my hiding spot and got rid of him. Eventually the police came, a day late and a dollar short, so to speak. #vonflueggehandlesit.
So yes again, it’s about being real. Sometimes people don’t like real. As in…your insurance prob won’t pay…there’s no quick fix…this will take time…I don’t always have an answer…I can’t want this for you more than you…you may need to change your thinking and lifestyle…your body is talking to you…if you don’t believe me why are you asking me…and so forth. I would rather be real (foibles and all) and honest than “winning people over” with unrealistic promises and a whole bunch of hoopla. Ultimately, and kind of progress in life depends on self-awareness, discipline and perseverance. It’s difficult. But oh so worth it when we bust through what we thought was impossible.
I can’t tell you how much that comment, “I like you even better…you’re real” meant to me. I was worth every bit of the hassle of schlepping my home to the office and standing guard for the day. And the hug…yeah, that is the currency of Balance Atlanta…people connecting, relationship, vulnerability, strength, growth.
Epilogue: I was bored of scrolling through FaceBook feeds (now that’s fake news…) so I ventured out for a needed mani-pedi. I went to Whole Foods (underground parking) to buy dog food but ended up with essential oils and soap instead. I was slightly mad at myself thinking about all of things (work-wise) I could have been doing (but didn’t) while trapped in the office biodome for a day. David became hungry for real food. Louie, the dog, hates rain but he needed to poop badly. So we went home. I drove calmly on the highways because I don’t trust those snapping branches and trees of Buckhead. The office was fine. So was the house. The cat was peeved. Oh well. They usually are anyway. Keeping it real. PS: Glad everyone is safe and the power is back on! See you this week!