Minimalist Monday: Trains, Oil Trucks, And Being Mindful

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you had a wonderful weekend!

I have to apologize for missing my usual Thursday post but the new school year schedule is a little demanding right now. I will do my best to keep my two posts a week going but I know you all will be understanding as to when I can write 🙂

Today I thought I would share with you a little bit about my life dealing with trains, oil rigs, and my attempt to be more mindful.

My Ah Ha Moment:

It was this past Saturday morning just before sunrise. You know, that really peaceful time right before the first rays of sun peek out over the horizon and the birds start to chirp. I was in my car driving to my trainer’s house for an early morning workout. I was feeling very peaceful and had just turned on the radio to find a station that was playing Irish folk/light rock music. Nice. Then I saw it: a train. All tranquility left my mind left in a flash. As stopped to wait for the train I glanced at the car clock. 5:24 am. I was supposed to be at my trainer’s house at 5:30 am. “Really, really!” I said out loud. ” This is Saturday, my day off , for crying out loud” I sat back and glared at the train as it passed. I know this outburst at the universe seems a little excessive, and it was. My trainer would have been totally cool with me being late as long as he knew I was coming . My outburst comes from years of dealing with trains and oil rigs as part of my daily life. This incident on an otherwise peaceful Saturday morning was an ah ha moment for me. I saw myself acting as a really big rat in the rat race and I heard a call for change within myself.

Nemesis number one: trains

When I first started teaching in Hudson I rather looked forward to my country commute when the weather was nice. An early morning drive through the country gave me some quiet time before starting the day. It didn’t take long before I learned that  my commute was 40 minutes only if there was not a train. Then it was anybody’s guess as to how long my commute may be. I used to stop and wait for trains in my home town of Greeley from time to time.  A minute or two and they would be gone. No big deal. I had no idea what trains were really like. How they stop on the tracks right in the middle of the only entry into town and just sit there. Sometimes backing up, and then pulling forward as they unload or hook up cars. 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, there is no telling how long you are going to be at the mercy of the train.  Sometimes, there is a way around the train as it sits there, side roads further on down that cross the track. This is always a gamble because this alternate route into a town is almost always blocked from view and there is a good chance that you may drive several miles just to find that crossing blocked as well.  When you are sitting helpless staring at the sitting train it is impossible not to notice how dirty trains are, the smoke, the graffiti,  and the general area around the tracks which is usually filled with junk, unused train cars, and old sets of tracks in disrepair. It is a rather depressing sight. For 12 years I crossed two such sets of tracks each day. One in a town named La Salle and then again in Hudson. There were days when I got stopped by a train both places or once heading to work and once coming home. I think if waiting for trains was consistent from day-to-day I would have learned to deal with it better by now. It was, and still is rather unpredictable. Sitting, waiting helplessly as the train teases me, moving a little forward and then a little back. Always, there is somewhere I need to be.

Nemesis number two: oil trucks

Of the two nemesis I have on my commute, oil trucks are probably the bigger of the two. Oil trucks are big, you can not see over or around them with any ease, they often form long caravans that are impossible to pass, and they almost never drive the speed limit. That is really a good thing because the last thing we want is an accident involving an oil truck. Even so, 40 minutes behind a line of trucks refusing to go over 45 or 50 miles an hour can get old pretty quickly. That is the pragmatic side of why I dislike oil trucks but there is a bigger underlying issue. Northern Colorado has become a fracking mecca over the past few years.( Fracking is a method of drilling for oil that is controversial due to the fact the process has been known to cause earthquakes, contaminate ground water, and increase pollutants in the air. It is popular because it produces a lot more oil much more quickly than traditional vertical drilling.)   The entire state is producing oil like crazy.  In fact, they are horizontal drilling throughout my neighborhood and under my house. Even though I own my mineral rights I have no voice in the matter. I periodically receive letters asking to lease my mineral rights . Eventually, I will be forced pooled. My home, my land, and I have no voice. That is what I see every time I see an oil truck. Short sighted vision for the future in favor of short-term economic growth and no voice.  My driving is particularly unmindful and angry around oil rigs.

Events leading to my ah ha moment

Thursday was the first day at my new school. I knew there was a possibility  of  a train ( Of course, I have to cross a track to get to my new school in Keenesburg.) and oil rigs were a given factor so I left extra early. What I did not realize was on that day major road work began on the road I needed to take to make room for the increased traffic due to oil production. All right, I can handle that. Except cars purposely started racing to the front where the lanes merged and cutting everyone off . 15 cars cut to the front of the line before I took it upon myself to straddle the white line so no one else could get through. 20 minutes to get to a light not even 1/2 mile ahead. I still had over 30 minutes to drive.

On Friday, in order to avoid that fiasco again, I took my old Hudson route. Sure it would be a few miles longer but it would save time, or so I thought. Yep, the La Salle train. Stopped dead on the tracks not going anywhere for a while. To go back to my original, more direct route would have taken another 10 minutes,  plus the 20 minutes at the light followed by the rest of the drive.  I drove around the train taking me an additional several miles out of my way but getting me to work on time in the end.

Then Saturday morning came and I found myself yelling at a train like a crazy lady in the peace of the early morning. I have had many outbursts over the years in moments of frustration without much thought. ‘”Thankfully, after this outburst I got a glimpse of what I had become. Uptight and angry about things I can not control. Believing the most important thing in my life was getting from point A to point B and not enjoying everything in between.  Not hearing the birds, not seeing the sunrise or the sunflowers, or the corn. Not being grateful that I have a job or that I have the luxury of having a trainer helping me to meet my fitness goals. . Feeling trapped instead of seeing have more time to just be in the moment.

Earlier today ( Sunday) I was happily driving to church when I was stopped by a train a few minutes before the service was to begin. Yes, I have often said the universe has a sense of humor. I took a breath, realized the church would still be there when I arrived and smiled. Being Greeley, it passed quickly by.  I am sure I will have many relapses with mindfulness while driving  but as someone once said “The journey of a lifetime begins with a single step.” In my case it may be a single commute. 🙂

As always, I would love to hear from you!

Thanks for stopping by the blog 🙂

Until next time,





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