When Life Tells You to Slow Down

October 22, 2011

On the heels of my previous “my life is so busy” post.

Friday afternoon 4:30pm:
Graham had been home from school for about half an hour.  His first grade class had a potluck that night and I was racing to finish the salad that I was assigned to bring.  He asked me a million questions, I suggested he play downstairs.  I tried to pick up the mess in the house and asked him to put on his shoes and jacket.  It was one of those days when a simple request required multiple asks and a lot of patience.  By the time we got in the car to pick up his brother at preschool, I was at the end of my rope.  “Graham, you are almost seven years old, I should not have to ask you so many times for your help.  I promise I will do less yelling if you do better listening, all right?”  Of course, he said yes.  He always says yes.

Down our hill we went.  We stopped at our major intersection.  There are always a lot of cars at that time of day yet it seemed that there were even more than usual.  The clock was ticking.  I was still tempering my annoyance at the time it took to get out of the house and mentally steeling myself for the night ahead with Randy out of town. So much traffic…oh here is a break…time to turn and

CRASH.  In that moment when your life is suddenly out of your control, I turned into oncoming traffic and head-on into a silver car on a rainy day that I did not see.  A sliver of a split second where I realized that my breaks were useless and then poof! airbag. smoke. pain. graham’s cries. panic about picking spencer up. pain in my hands. guilt. fear. being that person blocking a busy road with an accident. apologizing. what if. crying. nose bleeding. consoling. accepting help from strangers. looking a person you just hit head-on in the eye and mouthing “i’m sorry”.  All of it was awful.

When that kind woman (Brooke – wherever you are, thank you) came to my open window and asked if I was all right, I knew my nose was bleeding and my hands hurt and my poor Graham was terrified by the smoke coming from the airbag, all I could say was that I had another child to pick up and I needed to get there.  Slowly the pieces fell into place.  The car was un-driveable.  I had to wait for the cops to write up a report and a fire engine to come with firefighters to check out my hands, and a tow truck to take my poor battered car away.  Brooke suggested, gently, that I call the school and arrange for someone to pick him up.  I looked at my phone.  I scrolled to “p” – sure the number was under “preschool”, right?  My addled brain could not make sense of how and who to call.  I could sense Graham’s rising panic in the back seat and so I did what moms do.  I held it together.  I spoke calmly to him, told him he was about to meet real live police officers and fire fighters.  I searched for the number of the preschool and gave permission for my dear friend Deb (thank you Deb!) to pick up Spencer, then I started to process what had happened and how the next few hours were going to go.

At the end of it all, we are all right.  The poor woman I hit, with two boys in the back, is fine.  My car was towed to a body shop where they will fix the crunched front fender and hood.  Randy is flying home a day early from his high school reunion.  We are car-less at the moment until he arrives, but we live in the middle of the city and have plenty of things we can walk to.

Prior to the crash, I wasn’t texting, looking at my phone, talking on my phone, or even listening to music.  I was just hurrying.  My brain already four things ahead of where I actually was.  If this is not a slap in the face, I don’t know what is.  Time to SLOW. DOWN.  We are fortunate.  My hands ache but there is nothing broken, just some abrasions and some jamming from the air bag.  My nose bleed was because of impact, not a broken nose.  I have no bruising, cuts on my face, or whiplash and actually, the semi-permanent crick in my neck seems to be gone.  Much more importantly, my beautiful brave son is completely safe and unharmed.  Graham can be timid.  He is afraid of loud noises and things that are unfamiliar.  He likes to stick to routine.  You would think that a car accident, one that sets off the air bag with a loud BANG!, and blood coming out of his mom’s nose and hands, and the stress of wondering how we were going to pick up his brother, and police cars and fire trucks – you just might think that all that would send my little man over the edge.  Not to mention that we would not be making it to his potluck.   But after a quick cry and a few requests to get out of the car, he calmed down.  He smiled at the police officer, he accepted the sticker the firefighters gave him with delight.  He came to understand we weren’t going to make the potluck and moved on.

Once home, the boys both set out to draw me pictures because my hands hurt.  I couldn’t hold them close enough.  I read them countless stories.  I called Randy four times.  I replayed that moment of impact hundreds of times asking “what if” until my head hurt.  Universe, I am listening.  I really am.



  1. I’m so glad you are both OK. Look after yourself!

    Comment by Phebe — October 22, 2011 @ 6:35 pm

  2. holy shit.

    I just spun out skidding S-es over two lanes on the freeway with my kid in the back too–only we didn’t crash, and I keep replaying it in my head trying to figure out how we didn’t crash. I was following a big truck and there was road construction and they put a big cement barricade in the middle of my lane and they put the sunset in my eyes glaring off my dirty windows. There was no exit for several miles until we crossed a bridge, and then I could finally flip out.

    Comment by Diana — October 22, 2011 @ 6:43 pm

  3. Thanks for the reminder for us all to slow down and breathe…. I’m glad you and your brave little man are OK:)

    Comment by The Fromagette — October 22, 2011 @ 6:48 pm

  4. So sorry that you had to go through this but I’m glad you and your son are okay. I always find it hard to slow down, but it is so important and I hope you will be able to just enjoy the things that really matter. Take care!

    Comment by Anna — October 22, 2011 @ 7:12 pm

  5. Glad you and the boys are okay. See you soon. Love.

    Comment by marilyn — October 22, 2011 @ 7:16 pm

  6. Tears rushed to my eyes. :) I am always relieved when nothing terrible happens. But I see, that for you, a lesson occurred. A teachable moment. It is better to go slow. Easier to be kind…to yourself. :)


    Comment by sharon buffington — October 22, 2011 @ 7:20 pm

  7. Dana,
    I am so glad to hear you and your son are ok.
    I hope you enjoy the rest of the week-end with your beautiful family.

    Comment by Charlene — October 22, 2011 @ 7:45 pm

  8. So glad to read you and Graham are okay! Isn’t it interesting that sometimes we really need big, loud messages to remind us to listen? And I agree with the comment above, don’t forget to be kind to yourself!

    Comment by Amanda — October 22, 2011 @ 7:53 pm

  9. I am so glad you were both okay!

    The overstressed mind is a scary thing; I had a very similar car accident a few years ago…no cell phone, no distracting music, just my very overstressed brain.

    Take care.

    Comment by Lori — October 22, 2011 @ 9:13 pm

  10. Dana,
    So glad that everyone was okay. I got tears in my eyes because it reminds me of the days I tell myself to slow down and enjoy my babies (3 years old and 1 year old) and how we can all get caught up in things that seem important at the time, while ignoring the things that actually are. Thank you.

    Comment by Courtney — October 22, 2011 @ 10:33 pm

  11. I am so very very glad that the only things broken are the car and your crazy busy pace. I wish I could have been there for you, to help and also to just give you a great big hug and a shoulder to cry on (I’ve been in a rollover – that shook me up). Hoping Randy is home now to be that hug and shoulder for you. Graham is a great little boy and you are a terrific mom and I am super relieved that you are both here. I want it to stay that way. Love to you and the family. xoxo

    Comment by Jen Yu — October 22, 2011 @ 10:43 pm

  12. Thankful you all are okay.

    Comment by Cathy — October 22, 2011 @ 11:12 pm

  13. Oh my … I am so glad that you and Graham are ok. It’s a good message for you and a good message for all of your readers. I hope you are taking it easy this weekend with your sweet family.
    Big hugs to you and your boys!


    Comment by angie — October 22, 2011 @ 11:14 pm

  14. So glad to read that both of you made it home that night. That made me realize that I need to relax also and rush less when I am driving around town.

    Comment by Helene — October 22, 2011 @ 11:36 pm

  15. So glad you are both ok. It is good to be reminded to slow down. Why are we all in such a hurry? Take care!

    Comment by Kelly — October 22, 2011 @ 11:58 pm

  16. Oh dana, I am just so glad that you and the boys are alright! Car crashes are insanely traumatic things for adults, let alone kids. I think that this should serve as a reminder to ALL OF US to slow down…I know I’m guilty of rushing through life…but why?

    Comment by Joanne — October 23, 2011 @ 12:38 am

  17. So glad that you and Graham are OK. I have been meaning to send you an e-mail since I ran into you outside Kids on 45th a few weeks ago. Hopefully we both can slow it down a bit and find some time to grab a bite/drink or take a walk soon. hugs!

    Comment by Kelly — October 23, 2011 @ 12:45 am

  18. I’m so happy that everything ended up okay and no one was more seriously hurt. How scary and nerve-racking that all must have been!
    I can’t tell you how happy I am that you shared this story! What you just replayed for us here is exactly what a typical afternoon might look like in my house…w/two boys [7 & 9] with loads of activities and me over-scheduling myself always. I am constantly spreading myself too thin. Losing my cool. Running late for everything.
    It really is time to slow down. Thank you so much for reminding me of something I already knew in my heart but needed my mind to follow.
    So glad you’re all safe!

    Comment by katie — October 23, 2011 @ 1:22 am

  19. Dana, I’m so glad you and your boys are ok – that everyone is safe and just the car is banged up (well, hope your hands are getting better). How sweet of the boys to draw pictures to make your hands better. You describe so clearly what our rush/rush lives are like and we all need to take a breath and concentrate. I had a moment like that a few weeks ago when I nearly drove through a red light because I was on autopilot, too busy thinking about everything, with my dad and son in the car – thankfully nothing happened. Keep safe Dana.

    Comment by Charlotte — October 23, 2011 @ 2:19 am

  20. I’m glad to hear you, Graham and the people in the other car are all safe. Just yesterday I was almost hit by two cars swerving into my lane, and luckily I was able to stop just in time…it really makes you aware of the present and makes you realize just how many things you have on your mind other than what’s going on right this moment.

    Comment by melinda ke — October 23, 2011 @ 2:22 am

  21. I am so glad that you and Graham are ok. Silver cars are very hard to see in the northwest especially. I will never buy one for that very reason. Hope you can calm the post accident shock and find room to slow down and cut the stresses. Sending hugs and positive thoughts to your family.

    Comment by phoo-d — October 23, 2011 @ 3:20 am

  22. wow! So scary, and I’m so glad to hear that you are all ok.

    Comment by Deb — October 23, 2011 @ 3:36 am

  23. Dana, I don’t even know what to say… I read the title of your post, and immediately thought I should read it carefully, because I often feel that I’m doing too much, rushing too much. But I never imagined that it was something so serious

    I am so glad you are not seriously hurt, and no one else is – what a painful eye opener!

    You will be running the video of what happened in your mind over, and over, and over for a long time, and it won’t be easy to cope with it. But, you are already using what happened in the right way, slowing down, and listening to the universe…

    many hugs going your way…

    Comment by SallyBR — October 23, 2011 @ 12:39 pm

  24. Oh, Dana. My heart sank when I read this. I am so glad you and the boys are ok. No guilt or looking back. Lesson learned. Hugs to all of you.

    Comment by Shelly — October 23, 2011 @ 2:42 pm

  25. Dana – thanks for sharing your story. So glad you are both alright. How terrifying! A great reminder for all of us busy moms to slow down and be present.

    Comment by Lisa — October 23, 2011 @ 2:45 pm

  26. Dana, I am so glad you are both ok. You are right that sometimes the universe has to hit us over the head. Fortunately, you got the message and appreciate you reminding all of us that we need to slow down. Hopefully you had a quiet weekend as was able to enjoy some time at home relaxing and being with family. Take care~

    Comment by Deborah — October 23, 2011 @ 4:07 pm

  27. Oh goodness, so glad you are all OK. Yes, deep breath & hold those boys close. xo

    Comment by fresh365 — October 23, 2011 @ 5:30 pm

  28. Oh my gosh, Dana! Thankfully you are all okay! You just brought tears to my eyes. I’m listening to the universe too. Thanks for the reminder. oxox

    Comment by Denison — October 23, 2011 @ 5:36 pm

  29. What a scary story. I’m so glad you and your son are ok. You won’t forget that feeling for a long time. Just remember to slow down and think. We all get too busy, in too much of a rush. Just be grateful no one was hurt.

    Comment by Joan — October 23, 2011 @ 8:15 pm

  30. How terrifying.

    So glad that both you and Graham are okay. Hope you are taking care of yourself, not beating yourself upfor what happened, and are taking a much needed break.

    Comment by Emily — October 23, 2011 @ 9:55 pm

  31. oh dana, so glad you guys are ok. I hope that good can come from this in some way, though I am so sorry you guys had this happen. Wonderful and inspiring writing.

    Comment by sara — October 23, 2011 @ 10:36 pm

  32. I welled up in tears reading this post. I am so sorry you both had to go through that and so so thankful you are both ok. But gosh, haven’t we all been there? We perpetually spread ourselves too thin, are too hard on ourselves, and just keep pushing faster and faster. You have reminded me to slow down tonight, take time for myself, family, and friends. Hugs from the east coast!

    Comment by Clara — October 23, 2011 @ 11:48 pm

  33. Oh dear! I had tears welling up reading that. Lots of emotions. I felt your fear and your pain. But, mostly, I feel relief. You’re ok. Your lovely little boy too. I’m so thankful for that, Dana!

    Tons of hugs your way today. xoxoxoxo

    Comment by redmenace — October 24, 2011 @ 2:06 am

  34. oh dana, i am so terribly sorry to hear about this horrible accident. but am so, so, so relieved to hear everyone is fine. hope your hand is healing and again, thank goodness no one was seriously hurt. slowing down is always a good thing…thanks so much for the reminder. sending hugs and kisses your way. xoxo.

    Comment by g. — October 24, 2011 @ 2:37 am

  35. wow– a wake up call indeed but grateful you came out of it okay and that you are in tune enough to see the lesson that was there. be safe!

    Comment by meredith — October 24, 2011 @ 4:30 am

  36. So scary!!! Lord knows I’ve had some really close calls, one involving a silver car on a rainy day that I nearly didn’t see. So happy to hear no one was seriously hurt, hope your hands heal soon. Good reminder for us all to be more present to the moment! My boys got extra snuggles after I read this.

    Comment by Mara — October 24, 2011 @ 4:36 am

  37. What a terrifying experience, but so glad you are all okay.
    Get well soon!

    Comment by Annika — October 24, 2011 @ 6:43 am

  38. I’m so glad it wasn’t worse.

    Comment by Michelle — October 24, 2011 @ 6:50 am

  39. Wow Dana! I am relieved to know you and Graham are ok. Thank you for sharing. Hugs to you and your boys.

    Comment by Lisa — October 24, 2011 @ 3:07 pm

  40. So glad you and Grant are both OK. It’s interesting how sometimes we need a literal smack in the face to slow down. Again – so happy no one was hurt!

    Comment by Monique — October 24, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

  41. Thank you for sharing your touching story. Since we share the same name, it took me a nanosecond to relate to what every morning is like in my house. We all need to slowdown and unplug. I think this is why we turn to cooking – it’s real, it’s love, and it forces us to slow down. Keep on cooking!

    Comment by 90210 Farmgirl — October 24, 2011 @ 5:14 pm

  42. So glad you are all okay, but I imagine you are very sore! Taking my time today and remembering your message!

    Comment by EileenQ — October 24, 2011 @ 5:19 pm

  43. Dana and Graham, I’m so glad you’re okay. I know only too well this kind of message from the universe. I had one not long ago. It feels good to slow down. Take a breath. And another. And another… Hugs to you all.

    Comment by Rachel — October 24, 2011 @ 6:21 pm

  44. Dana,
    I cried as I read this, because it sounds like me, always rushing, hurrying my two kids. I am so glad you are alright, and I hope your hands feel better soon. Love your blog, you seem like a great person…wish we lived close and could be friends…Lori from Canyon Country, CA

    Comment by lori — October 24, 2011 @ 8:23 pm

  45. i’m so glad you two are alright! and i get the message here; i do. you’re such a good writer & i really enjoy your blog. and i share the sentiment of lori’s comment above mine – i wish we lived closer and could be friends.

    Comment by megan — October 24, 2011 @ 8:29 pm

  46. I’m so glad that you and Graham and the other driver and her children are all fine! I too am always hurrying with my three kids- this is a post is a wonderful reminder that being somewhere on time is never the most important thing- thank you for sharing your story.

    Comment by Emily — October 24, 2011 @ 9:34 pm

  47. So glad to hear you are both okay! Hope the accident hasn’t left you too sore, and I hope you’re able to find the time to slow down and pamper yourself a bit!

    Comment by Pasket — October 25, 2011 @ 12:29 am

  48. Oh Dana I am so glad you are alright, what a scare! I know so well the hurried feeling and appreciate the reminder that we all need to slow down. Take care and feel better soon.

    Comment by Kirsten — October 25, 2011 @ 1:30 am

  49. Thinking about you. I wanted to stop reading your story because it was so hard to read – I could feel your stress and hurt/worry. This is a lucky lesson, like you said and I took it as one for me as well. I could have easily been you in that situation.
    Thanks so much for sharing your honest story – you have saved more accidents from busy moms and helped people think about things.
    Thinking of you – don’t think about the past, just move on in a better way!! :)

    Comment by The Healthy Hostess — October 25, 2011 @ 3:16 am

  50. Oh Dana – what a scary time for you and Graham. I am so relieved that you are both okay and that the other mom & kids were okay too. I hope you heal physically and mentally quickly. Thanks for sharing your story with all of us so that we too can learn that all important “slow down” message.

    Comment by Cathy — October 25, 2011 @ 4:30 am

  51. Dana–the way you recounted your crash was very powerful. I keep thinking about it–especially when I’m driving with my little ones in the back. Thanks for sharing and making us all slow down and be more present in the moment.

    Comment by Andrea — October 25, 2011 @ 4:23 pm

  52. I am so glad everyone is ok! Thinking about you and your family and thanks for helping us all realize we need to slow down and enjoy the important things in life. xoxo

    Comment by Maria — October 25, 2011 @ 5:17 pm

  53. thank you for posting this, as scary as it was to read. this could be me, most days of the week. thank you for the reminder, i am so glad you’re okay!

    Comment by natalie (the sweets life) — October 25, 2011 @ 9:26 pm

  54. SO frightening! I’m so glad you and your family and the others in the accident are all okay. The burns and abrasions from those air bags can be nasty!

    Comment by Heather — October 25, 2011 @ 10:51 pm

  55. I’m very glad to hear that you are ok and on the mend and that your son did so well with all of it.
    We all seem to have wake up calls at some point. Last year I was busy rushing around trying to get groceries that would please everyone, planning lunch and trying to make it home in time for swim lessons; just generally being anywhere but where I was at that moment. I ran over a raised concrete parking block and thought I scraped the bottom of my car. I was embarrassed but drove home, hoping I didn’t do any damage. I got home and when I got out of the car, there was milk running out of the wheel wells. A gallon jug of milk had bounced up and burst and my trunk and the back floor of the car were covered in milk. We had to take the car apart and it took me days of scrubbing to get the smell out. Anyhow, I don’t mean to compare it to your accident but it sure was a good lesson in being present.
    I hope that soon you can have some time for you as well as everyone else. Thank you for posting this – it must have been hard but I’m sure it has made a lot of people think.

    Comment by Luann — October 26, 2011 @ 10:41 pm

  56. First, I’m so glad you were both ok. Now, I’m thinking of all the times I’ve not been as focused on the road as I should be when hurrying around town. Realizing how many times I could have easily done the same thing.

    Comment by lisaiscooking — October 29, 2011 @ 12:56 pm

  57. Oh, my. What a fright. The important this is that all involved are okay. I was involved in a nasty accident several years ago, Dana, which I don’t need to go into, except to tell you that you will be fine and you will heal inside and out. I remember just sleeping a lot, giving my body time to heal, and my mind as well. Rest.

    Comment by Penny — October 30, 2011 @ 2:08 am

  58. Hello there,
    I just found your blog and read this entry about your accident. It brought tears to my eyes, and i’m so glad that you , your son, and the folks in the other car are OK. thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Linda — November 1, 2011 @ 4:20 pm

  59. I’m so happy to hear you and your boys are okay. What a scary experience.

    Comment by Ashley — November 2, 2011 @ 2:53 pm

  60. [...] couldn’t have come at a better time. Posts about letting others see you for your true self, slowing down in this over-scheduled world we live in, and accepting who you areand not who you are not. All [...]

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