Check your foundation
What is your foundation?  Ideally, we all have one.  It could be a relationship, our home, our work environment…anything that represents a stable something we can rely on when other things go awry.

My foundation is traditionally something tied to the home.  Having lived all over, my home is wherever my family is.  As long as that foundation is solid, then I have been known to instigate all sorts of chaotic change in my life…knowing I have a stable point of focus on the horizon.

It’s our foundation that allows us each to reach past a point of comfort.  To try new things.  To take personal and professional risks.

But what if that foundation gets rocked?  Right in the middle of chaotic change in the rest of your life?  How do you get back to center?

I had to figure that out in the last few weeks.


The Change

A few months ago, we decided we’d take a look at homes on the market and potentially make a move.  We’ve looked every spring for the last few years, so it was with surprise that we found our dream house and put down an offer.

Our routine was disrupted by the constant coming and going of potential buyers.  A nice problem to have, but stressful.  It makes your home feel like temporary housing…worrying about marks and dings that just yesterday didn’t bother you.

During the same timeframe, my husband was preparing for this year’s motorcycle racing season.  He was gone a lot, leaving much of the buying and selling activity, kid duties and other day-to-day stuff on my shoulders.

I didn’t realize I was taking on more than I could manage alone until I was being buried by the weight of too many commitments and expectations.  My foundation was completely unstable and yet I was stubbornly unaware.  Until the unthinkable nearly became my reality.


Cracks in the Foundation

On the first racing day of the season, my son and I went to Loudon to cheer on dad.  He was moved up from rookie class to amateur this year and this would be his first full race season.

It was a gorgeous day and we had familiar faces all around, including another family with a young child my son’s age.  Everyone was having a great time, talking and enjoying the sounds of little voices and laughter in between races.

On my husband’s second race, we decided to bring the kids over to the starting line to see everyone grid up.  The racers all went around for a warm up lap and then they were off, a strong start to the race.

We saw my husband come around on the first lap and started walking back to our pit area, where we could watch the riders come down the hill and into the last turns of the track.


The Free Fall

A few yards into the walk, I see some of the racers pull up and the red flag being waved.  Over the speaker system, the announcer said “Amateur rider down on turn six.”

I knew.  That feeling you have when one of the most important people in your life is in trouble or hurt.  I was holding my son’s hand and was in no position to reveal my thoughts, but I knew.

We watched every rider come back to start.  Except the one we wanted to see.  Instead, we hurried back to the pit area so that I could leave my son with familiar faces while I tried to figure out what was going on.

Just as I tucked him away with his friend, with assurances that I’d find out what was going on with daddy, I see an ambulance come down the hill.  I ran over to the medical area as fast as I could to meet them.

My husband didn’t know what happened, but we heard he had a high-side crash, where he went over the top of the bike.  His helmet was destroyed.  He was so lucky – most people with helmets that look like that don’t walk away from a crash.

Then I heard that an eye witness said the rider behind him rode over his chest.  I was adamant – off to the hospital in the ambulance.  It didn’t matter if he looked fine and wasn’t hurting, yet.  You don’t mess around with internal injuries.

My son, who loves ambulances, watched his father get taken off the field in one.  He looked at me and said “I’m worried daddy’s not coming back.”  I was too, but reassured him the way you do to protect a child.  It didn’t matter if my foundation had broken wide open – his had to remain as solid as I could make it.


Recovery and Realization

Weeks later, we are all generally okay.  Turns out he only had a sprained elbow and ankle.  He was getting around just fine within a few days.  The emotional injuries are taking a little longer than the physical.

The eye witness had it a little wrong.  There’s video I refuse to watch.  From what I understand, however, the guy did run into my husband.  Not his chest, or his head as we had heard in conflicting accounts.  It was right in the ass.  Just the kick he needed, apparently, to stop racing entirely.

It’s taking time, but the feeling of being in a complete free fall is slowing down.  We are days away from our move, so the last minute preparations provide a much-needed distraction from the what-ifs.

Settling into the new house will do wonders for getting my foundation back to a stable place.  However, as much as I thought moving was unsettling, what I realized the day of the crash was that my angst had little to do with the move.

It had to do with my life partner – my sounding board, my safety net, my cheerleader, my drill sergeant, my other half – being away.  When I thought that could be permanent…well, it wasn’t pretty.

Sometimes, our foundation shifts just when we need it to be the most solid.  Focusing on one thing at a time to get to a place of stability can help.  In some cases, however, there may be nothing to do but ride it out.

Personally, I’m about done with the roller coaster I’m on.  Next time I decide to make a change, I’m hoping for a ride with a little less excitement.


Have you experienced a shift in your foundation, just as you are making other changes in your life or career?  I’d love if you could share any advice you have for getting successfully to the other side in the comments to keep the conversation going.