Because your battery life is important, too

I don’t always pay enough attention to the battery life of my phone.

And it turns out that I also don’t always pay enough attention to my own battery life.

I recently ventured out to Atlanta for a work trip and had quite an interesting experience. Living in Dallas and then Orange County and then back in Dallas, I don’t typically use public transportation much—or ever, really. I had to use the bus system once when I was in Portland, and I ended up getting a ride back to my hotel from a stranger because I struggled to get on the right bus in the first place and then missed the stop at which I was supposed to change buses on the way to the convention I was attending, so the ride with the stranger seemed like a better option. I also let another stranger from the convention take me to the airport the next day.

I lived and wasn’t kidnapped, so it’s fine.

This isn’t from Atlanta, but it’s from the day before, so it’s relevant. Plus, I love these gals with my whole heart.

If you’re not from Atlanta or haven’t ever been there, you might not have heard of the MARTA, but it’s a train (I think they might have buses, too) that starts at the airport and has a bunch of stops to different places with multiple lines. To someone more familiar with public transportation, I’m sure this sounds like no big deal, but I’ve taken the DART train in Dallas maybe once in my entire life, and the bus I took when I was at Texas A&M went from a stop near my apartment to campus, so it was fairly simple.

I don’t know my way around the Atlanta airport, so it took me a sufficient amount of time and many questions to people I didn’t know to find out where exactly the MARTA stop was. My plan was to take the train all the way to the end of the line and then take an Uber the remaining six miles or whatever it was to my hotel. It seemed like a smart idea at some point in time.

And then real life happened.

When I got off of the plane, my phone was at 44 percent battery. That seemed sufficient enough. I purposely didn’t use my phone much on the 40-minute (or something like that) train ride, but somehow it was at 6 percent when I got to the final station. I immediately opened the Uber app to arrange for my ride, and it said the driver was only a few minutes away. But apparently getting to the pickup location at the station was more complex than the driver expected, and he got lost. He called me to let me know that he was trying to get to me but that it might be better to get a different Uber.

Not an option—I was at 1 percent battery at that point.

I prefer traveling with my sister. The MARTA adventure would have been more fun with her.

I knew that I didn’t have time to call for another Uber, so I asked him please not to cancel the trip and still to come pick me up. I left the app open to follow him and make sure that he was still on his way (and also so that I could know when he arrived), but I was pretty nervous that the phone would die at any second.

I felt really helpless. I was in a big city I know nothing about, and I couldn’t even consult the Google for anything because my phone would for sure die if I opened anything else.

In what I still deem as a miracle, my phone survived until the Uber arrived. As soon as I got in the car, though, it died. I threw up all of the praise hands to Jesus to thank Him for me not having to resort to asking a stranger at the station take me to my hotel, because I was pretty sure that there were some people in the area who likely weren’t as trustworthy as I would hope that they would be.

I realized something about myself—I was more concerned about the battery life in my phone than I’ve ever been about the battery life in my own life. When my phone got down to 1 percent, I wanted to give the phone as much rest as possible so that it didn’t expend all of its energy. But when I get down to 1 percent, I don’t always allow myself the rest that I should.

It’s easy to get going so fast and take on so much that we forget to take care of ourselves. It’s common to love others as much as we can but then not love ourselves enough. I know that I’m often guilty of this. But the percentage left in my phone isn’t as important as the percentage left in me.

These are my people.

Thankfully, I did get to take a vacation with my parents and sister and spend some time at the beach in Florida. We used to come here a lot when I was a little kid, and I came again about five years ago. It’s nice to be back. It’s a different beach and lifestyle than I got accustomed to in California, but it’s still peaceful and relaxing.

I’m excited for when I get back home, too. There are so many changes that have been going on in my life in the last couple of years—and especially in the last couple of months—but it will be nice to be back in the classroom and get back to a sense of normalcy.

I love people—and I mean that. I think it’s truly important to be there for people and to make sure that they feel valued and loved. But I’m also learning (yet again) that it’s absolutely essential to make sure that you feel valued and loved by yourself, as well.

I guess all of the reminders about getting enough sleep at night are actually pretty legit. After all, you don’t want to be struggling and feeling like you’re constantly operating at 1 percent.

And you want to make sure that you’re fully charged when you get to where you need to be.

Because sometimes you just want something good to happen

I really don’t like trite expressions, such as “when it rains, it pours.”

Especially when they’re true.

As I mentioned last week, things have not exactly been super pleasant in my world lately, and this past week was certainly pretty rough. I’ll spare you a lot of the details, but let’s just say that it was filled with a lot of pain and discomfort and hydrocodone and other medicines. I just want it all to go away.

I spent the majority of the week on my sofa (my company was really great about letting me work from home all week), and I didn’t drive my car much at all. I wasn’t feeling up for going anywhere—walking is a bit painful right now—and apparently you aren’t supposed to get behind the wheel with certain meds in your system. But Sunday was my dad’s birthday, so I drove out to my parents’ house to spend some time with him.

But I had no idea what was in store for me that day.

After I left their house, I drove toward my all-time favorite froyo place. My appetite has been pathetic all week—everything sounds gross and makes me nauseated—but I needed that froyo. On the way, though, my car radio suddenly went out, all of the dashboard lights started flashing and freaking out, and my steering wheel suddenly locked up. Something similar happened a couple of months ago, and it turned out to be the battery. Because I just got that battery, I didn’t think that was it, so I was a bit concerned.

I somehow managed to turn that brick of a wheel a few times and navigated my way to the froyo parking lot (I have my priorities in line), and I pulled through a space and got out but left the car running because I figured it wasn’t going to start back up if I turned it off.

I got my cup of heaven and hustled back to my car and said a quick prayer that I could get it to the Firestone across the street. Thankfully, I did, and the fellas there told me they thought it might be the alternator, though they didn’t actually give it a detailed inspection. They gave me a quote for what it would cost, but I called my car guy because I just got a new alternator about a year ago. The Firestone people said I could leave my car in their lot until I got it all sorted out, so I took an Uber home until I heard back from my car guy. When I finally got to talk to him later, he told me he could take care of it but that he needed my key.

Dag nabbit.

Dear car, I’m sorry if I took you for granted. Please come back.

My relaxing time at the pool was cut short, and I scurried upstairs to shower, change, and call for another Uber to take me to get the key to him. That’s when I met Earlene, an interesting woman who has a story for everything. She’s even had her own fair share of kidney issues. She drove me all the way out there and then waited in the car until I came back so that she could take me to my brother’s house so that I could spend some time with him, my sister-in-law, and my adorable niece. (I’m actually really glad I wasn’t the one doing the driving, because I began having tremendous pain and had to take some of the medication that I’ve grown to hate.) Earlene is a very kind woman—if you ever meet her, for the love, please ask her how excited she is about her 40th high school reunion cruise she’s using her Uber money to pay for next summer—and she offered me a lot of encouragement.

You’re on the upside now—I can tell.

When she said those words, I felt a little bit of peace. And I really hope she’s right. I’ve been trying to remain positive with so many tough things I’ve gone through over the last year, but I feel like they tend to pile up all at once. It’s not easy for me to ask people for help sometimes, and I already felt like I had been causing inconvenience to people with all of the help I needed while I was in the hospital, but now not having a car makes things even more difficult. I’m thankful for Uber, but I’m also pretty sick to my stomach at how much money I spent Sunday afternoon. (After my ride with Earlene—also, please ask her about her theories on the JFK assassination, because I guarantee you’ll be intrigued—when I left my brother’s house, he dropped me off at a Kroger near where he lives so that I could get some needed groceries, and I had to take yet another Uber to get home. I was Ubered-out.)

I know I have a lot in life for which I need to be thankful, and I am. At the same time, though, I think it’s OK to admit that life can feel like a never-ending storm at times. There’s a country song that says “every storm runs out of rain,” and I’m going to believe that. I’m also going to believe that Earlene is right about me being on the upside.

I talked to my dad and then my sister at the end of the day, and my conversations with them reminded me how much the issues with my car don’t actually matter in the grand scheme of things. Sure, the situation is quite frustrating and will likely be expensive, but what really truly matters are the people in my life. I still got to spend time with my dad on his birthday. I still got to see my mom, whose love is bigger than life itself. I still got to laugh and enjoy precious moments with my brother and his family. I still got to see my sister this weekend and make a bad day better by talking with her. My car might stop being there for me, but my family never will.

And their love is the sunshine to any storm that comes my way.

Encouragement from an Uber driver

Every once in a while, you need a stranger to tell you something to make you really believe it.

And sometimes that stranger is your Uber driver.

I recently met someone for dinner and was ready to leave almost immediately after we sat down. Sure, he is a really nice guy, and I can pretty much talk to a wall if I have to, but I simply didn’t want to be there. My mind was elsewhere, and I wanted to go home.

And of course I had to be the one to say, “I probably should get home soon.”

He asked me if I was sure that I didn’t want to go anywhere else. Yes, I was sure. I had taken an Uber there simply because I didn’t want to deal with the parking in the area, and he suggested that I ride in his Uber and that we could just drop me off first. I suggested “no.”

Thankfully, my Uber driver was practically there, so I didn’t have to wait long before hopping in the car and escaping that evening. That’s when I met Josh, a sage I wasn’t expecting. He asked me how I was doing, and I said I was sort of alright. Then he asked me why.

Josh, you just opened a can of worms, buddy.

I gave him a condensed version of my evening, followed by a very abridged explanation as to why my heart hurts and why I think it shouldn’t anymore. Then I asked him questions, and he told me how he met his girlfriend (whom he’s been dating for almost three years) and how special she is to him. And he told me that there’s a guy out there who thinks the same of me but doesn’t know it yet and that, when I meet him, I’ll know he’s the one.

And even though I had only known Josh for about four minutes, I believed him.

Right before I got out of the car, he turned around to shake my hand and told me it had been a pleasure chatting with me. Then he said, “Just keep the faith, Natalie. That’s the most important thing—you have to have faith.”

That’s a good word, bro.

And sometimes you hang solo.

I don’t know what the future holds. I know that I’m going through some tough stuff that I feel like I should be over by now, and I don’t understand why it still hurts, but it does. Honestly, I sometimes feel ridiculous that my heart doesn’t feel mended, but I can’t seem to change that right now. I have to believe that Josh is right, though: I need to have faith.

Faith that someday it won’t hurt anymore. Faith that things will happen as they should. Faith that I will be fine flying solo forever if that’s how things turn out. Faith that there’s really only One I need, anyway.

Sure, it’s difficult to be single sometimes, but I think I also need to remember how great it can be, too. I mean, there’s a lot of independence gained and a lot of times when you have to learn to be brave in situations when you really want someone there to hold your hand. And I get to choose what to eat for dinner every night and what will be watched on the TV, so that’s a plus.

Life often happens in ways we don’t want, but we still have to face those situations and choose how we respond. I hope I can take Josh’s words to heart and always respond by keeping the faith. Faith gives us hope, and faith is also a huge part of what love is all about.

I hope you’re able to meet someone who gives you hope, or I hope you’re that person who offers it to someone else. It’s nice when we can lift one another up and provide encouragement when it’s needed most.

Because that’s a love that can be shared with everyone.