As I rounded a slight bend, I saw the coyote…about 100 feet ahead of me. I stopped dead in my tracks. It stared at me; I stared right back. And then it lowered its tail and hustled off, the birds noisily following overhead, warning every creature along the way that danger was coming.
I was spooked. I thought about turning around, walking back to my car, and getting out of there! And that’s when it dawned on me that I had nothing to fear, because nature provided warning signs when danger was ahead. I had experienced this time and time again while on safari in the African bush. Bird and animal species rely on each other for protection against predators. Guinea fowl and baboons alike take refuge high in the trees, squawking and barking alarm calls to warn of leopards or cheetah, just as those birds had done in my urban arboretum. Impala stand at attention, eyes sharply focused on the looming threat, and bark, bark, bark, not only to let the lion or leopard know that it’s been spotted, but to notify every creature in the vicinity that danger is present. And so I exhaled, smiled to myself, and boldly continued on, listening to the birds whose calls followed the coyote further and further away from me.
The parallels to self-care became pretty obvious to me as I walked on. I very much believe that there are directional forces in the universe that guide us along, and I am well-aware that often, for whatever reason, we choose to ignore the warning signs. When it comes to weight and health, the signs are rarely subtle – high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, not to mention the explicit warnings from primary care physicians. Not all of us experience these kinds of warning signs, though. I ballooned up to 283 pounds without ever being diagnosed with anything like this. But there are others signs, too – aches and pains, feeling tired all the time, becoming easily winded walking up a flight of stairs, the inability to buckle a seatbelt around you. These are all warning signs that danger is lurking ahead.
Consider these the universe’s way of looking out for you, like the squawking fowl or barking baboons. Ignoring the warning signs and continuing on the exact same way will likely lead to great peril. Change the course. Take appropriate steps to reverse the outcome. So many people fall victim to accidents or illnesses that are not in their control. Overeating, abusing food and alcohol, and sedentary lifestyles are things we can change. I love reading the weight loss success stories in which people speak about getting a wake-up call in the form of a medical diagnosis. Heed the warning signs while you still can. You’ll be so glad you did!