How to Recognize Warning Signs

warning-signWarning signs…if you’d asked me last night what these two little words conjured up in my head, I’d have said “A great song by Coldplay.”… but ask me this same question today and I’d have a different answer. “Oh, you mean like those little red lights that showed up on my car’s dash yesterday that I ignored? The same ones that were there this morning (now four instead of two) just before my car conked out?” Yeah. Like THOSE warning signs.

Blessedly, I had just dropped my two girls off at school. I’d made it about five blocks down the road before coasting to a complete dead stop in the middle of a turning lane. In keeping with my glass half-full sort of spirit, it could have been worse…ALOT WORSE. My kids were safe at school. I had a cell phone on me and it was charged. It was 8am in the morning and i was near my home. I was NOT an hour from home in the middle of nowhere with a car full of kids at 9pm (like i very well could have been and was just the week before).


My friends hubby saw me not minutes after I stalled in the right hand turning lane (literally half way through the turn) and pulled over to help. Just five minutes after breaking down, my ailing car and I were pushed safely out of harms way onto a quiet side street. And there I sat awaiting my night in shining armor (a tow truck – not the guy driving it…)

I sat there giggling at myself a bit. What was I thinking? I’d soooooooo seen those lights the day before. And I HAD had every intention of getting my car checked…hadn’t I? It was on my mind; but not before my 9 am meeting with a friend or my 10 am baby massage class. Probably not before my 3 pm Girl Scout meeting either. But sometime. Real soon. I WAS going to get to that.


O.K., still waiting for the tow-truck-guy about 20 minutes later (and after having a GOOD long laugh with/at myself) my mind abruptly turned from a teasing friend to more like a cross examiner. “How is this like your life?!?!” my mind wanted to know. “What. Me?” Yep, me.

I started looking to other areas of my life for where warning signs might be blinking away in vain, failing to catch my attention. Well, there was the washing machine in the kitchen…it sure has been acting funny. My mind was soooo not satisfied with this answer. “Go deeper”, it begged. OK,  maybe in the slowly failing health of some of my house plants? They could surely use a little extra attention. “Getting closer” my mind offered. Hmmmm…my health? My relationships at work? With my girlfriends? My husband? My kids? My dog??!?!

OMG!!…there could be red light blaring all around me!!!! Did I have my eyes open to them, and even if I did see them, would I respond swiftly to the blinking red lights in my life? Or instead would I let them go by as I had the lights on the car dash just the night before?

It’s not always easy to be completely honest with ones own mind, but in this case I let it all hang out. I fully admitted that unless the lights in my life got to flashing really fast or really bright, I would most likely push them off to the side as well. I mean, come on! Who looks forward to having those lights checked? I’ll be the first to admit it. I DON’T. (At least I didn’t…). In the past, my typical response has been to wait until I am certain something is needing me to attend to it before I stop everything else to do so.


Ahh, I hear my mind saying. Ahhhhhh. Truth. (My mind is always quick to recognize when I’m being really REAL with it.) Truth. Can you see yourself here at all? If you tend to put things off until they BEG for your attention, then you and I have something in common.

I think the busier life gets, so too the tendency to put out the closest/biggest fires. Warning sign become just that…signs that something may or may not turn into a fire or a crisis that flat out demands our attention. Does this sort of waiting make any sense at all? No, not really. Yet my bet is that some of you reading this out there can relate.

If anything, the incident with my car this morning has been a wake up call for me. I can change this pattern in my life if I choose. I can stop right now (as I am stranded without a car for at least a day or two!!) at sit with paper and pen, looking for the blinking lights in my life. I can write them down and give them some attention. I do not have to wait until my plants are dying, my health is failing or my relationships turn south (sounds like a country music song) to attend to these signs.

This week, I hope you will join me in looking for the warning signs in your everyday life that might be vying for your attention. Take a minute and jot them down. Look to your health, your work, your family and your relationships. Has life been flashing at you anywhere in there? What does this warning sign indicate and how might you get this light to turn itself off?

For me it was as simple as a conversation. I read this post to my hubby and asked him, “Are you flashing at me??!?!” Ha. He laughed. Then  after the kids were in bed we had a great conversation about the weekend ahead. We chatted about the many things that pull for our attention and the busy week that we’d just had that was coming to an end. A chat. So nice. And that’s all it took to turn that ‘lil red light off.

Please, learn from my mistakes. Don’t wait until you find yourself conked out on the side of the road to have those lights checked out. Find the warning signs in your life and give them some attention well BEFORE they demand it.

Suzanne, aka Zen Mommy
In addition to mommying to two magical girls born in 2000 and 2003, Suzanne owns a holistic health center in St. Louis, Missouri where she practices as a physical therapist, Certified Infant Massage Instructor and health education teacher. Certified in a number of healing and life education approaches, Suzanne offers parent coaching, infant massage/loving touch training as Zen Mommy Coach and parenting tips through the positive parenting e-Book Yogi Parenting.

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  1. Absolutely beautiful. I loved how you tied real life decisions into your tale. Wonderful job.

  2. thanks writer dad. i’m glad this article is striking a cord with the men!!!

    check out this video response from Journik:

    thanks new friend. so wonderful to read when one’s life/writing touches another. ;p peace.

  3. Wow, ZM! I can’t think of a more appropriate message for ME today. Hmmm… bills, cereal all over the kitchen floor, and no clean laundry… the lights are definitely blinking!

    Thanks for the reminder and for having the grace to laugh through everything. I loooove being able to laugh with you!


  4. ok…here is my video reply to @blueskydrives question…he wanted to know MORE about what my warning signs were telling me. :p
    PS: do u have any flahing and if so…what are they sayiing?!?! inquiring minds wanna know ;p peace

  5. Hi Zen Mommy! So wonderful, I love your story and the message. For me the warning signs are so important since making the transition from country life to city life because it is so easy to get swept up in the super fast current of modern life. Gotta slow down and breathe and get in touch with that inner knowledge a little each day to stay on track!

  6. Angela Estes says:

    Loved it, loved it and yes very timely for me too! I’ve got millions of things to do, respond to and “take care” of but yet I’m not feeling well myself (over did it last week and it caught up w/ me) so slowing down, forgetting all the other to take a rest was exactly what I needed to do. And I love your reminder of choice too – it’s so easy to forget sometimes that we really can choose a different way – a better way of living!

    Thanks again for a wonderful reminder and check in!