Who's driving anyway?

Every now and again life takes our breath away, sometimes literally. Where do we go from there? Whether we perceive our lives to be a series of fortunate events, or a crash and burn to the grave is up to us.

I've often struggled with the balancing of letting go of the story and holding on at the same time. These experiences have shaped me, grown me, and quite literally, stopped me dead in my tracks at times. It’s not always been a smooth ride. It’s been wrecked, rebuilt, burned to the ground and rising from the ashes … over and over again.

My purpose has gripped me by my ankles and drug me through a ditch more times than I can count.

They said don't speed, you'll wreck, and I did over and over again in true rebel fashion.

Tori, don't speed. Pay attention.

I was barely 19 years old, and Sophie barley a year old. I dropped her off and was free for the weekend. I pulled over to take my shoes off, propped my left foot out the window of my almost "brand-new" used Toyota Camry and took off. Blinded by the light blaring. I rolled right past a stop sign before peeling out onto the highway. Never checked up. In an instant, what felt like less than half a second, An 18 wheeler going about 65 mph. smashed into the rear of my car catapulting me into a ditch.

I looked up and the truck driver was standing at my car window, crying. He was in disbelief that I was alive, however, I was not. I had no care in the world, well almost no care in the world. Sophie's car seat that had been in the back seat, was to the right of me, nearly in the dashboard. Sophie would have been dead had she been with me. I had only just dropped her off minutes before. I remember this wreck like it were yesterday, but not in fear of my own life - in fear of hers.

Tori don't speed, pay attention.

Or was it 21... flying down the highway in the midst of an anger fit- the kind that makes you want to go 90 mph in a speed trap town on a lunch break, and I was. There was a small truck going much slower. Must have been going the speed limit. I jerked the wheel of my red Chrysler 300 to the right and lost all control of the vehicle, my car flipped three times in a bare corn field directly across from my mother's salon business. A slew of people, including an ambulance and my mother - who had seen it happen, arrived and I was rushed to the emergency room. Not long after checking my vitals, and being examined by a doctor, a nurse came into my room. Gleaming with a smile she announced "The baby is fine!" What in tarnation? Oh yeah, sex. I did do that a few months ago. Not exactly the way I intended to break the news to my parents, or to myself for that matter. 6 months later Kobe arrived.

Tori, Pay attention.

I am! I am! in 2010, after a short lived marriage to Kobe's father I enrolled in culinary school at Louisiana Culinary Institute. Sophie, Kobe, and I moved to Baton Rouge, about 3 hours from my hometown. A lot happened during that time, but I'll save that for another day. Let's get back to wrecks for the sake of staying on task.


The night before my first day of school I had another auto collision. A man driving around 40 mph ran into the front of my Expedition. The car was fixed. I was fine. Everything was fine. For the record - I was paying attention this time.

Fast forward to 2016. After working a 12 hour double and a hella busy night, driving home in a heavy down pour I hydroplaned. I reached for the volume dial, by the time I looked up I was flying through a massive barbed wire fence just past a bar pit near the Mississippi River. The fence post (equivalent in size to a grown man's leg) shot through my windshield and grazed my arm before coming to a complete stop.

When I came to, I reached to turn the interior light on in my freshly detailed Subaru Tribeca, and was quickly reminded of the fence post, mud and barbed wire that was nestled so close. Once again no injuries.

Mindfulness was once a far cry from within reach, obviously.

What changed?

I started paying attention to the things that light me up, and got to work. Little by little, piece by piece.

On the pursuit of wild game, in nature, gardening, harvesting, and preparing food mindfulness is within reach. This is where the flow state exists in my world. I am no longer a prisoner to my inability to focus.

When I am "in the kitchen" I am able to play with multitasking, and creativity which comes more natural for my own good in some other areas in life, such as driving. It works in the kitchen.

When I'm hunting I go into an almost meditative, or sometimes obsessive way of being. I study animals moves, patterns, natural habitats, their predators, and then I watch them for days and days at a time. I am 100% present.

The more I honor my true nature the better driver I become. I don't think it's coincidence at all.

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