Sometimes You Have to Think Zebras.

Via Kate Bartolotta
on Dec 14, 2011
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“When you’re in Texas and you hear hoofbeats, think horses not zebras.”






I’ve had a headache on and off for two weeks and a day.

Mostly on.

And not just a “headache,” but a “please just let me lay here in the dark and don’t talk to me” migraine. Sitting quietly in the dark hasn’t been an option. I have gotten migraines before, maybe once every other month or so. They usually respond quickly to massage, some iced black coffee, and some restorative yoga.

Not this time.

So I played stubborn. You will not beat me, migraine! I will not yield! Instead of doing what I needed to do (get an adjustment, call my favorite massage therapist, go for acupuncture or even take some Excedrin Migraine) I decided I would try and ignore it, even though it was making me increasingly miserable.

Then yesterday, it was too much. The funny down-side of the Pathology class I just finished is that if I’m not careful, it makes me a bit of a hypochondriac. I started thinking about brain tumor symptoms. Why yes, I am having coordination problems! And sometimes I do struggle to find the right words. And the headache is the worse in the morning! And…hmmm…let me check…I am having trouble swallowing.

So, as I am driving thinking about all this, I get a little panicky. Oh my God, I’m dying! How will my family manage without me? What about all the stuff I still want to do? And on and on and Adele came on the radio and then it was all over and I started crying in my car over my soon to be cut short life, and my brain tumor, and all the things I still need to do.

And then the rational part of my brain overrode the wild imaginative part of my brain and reminded me:

1. You don’t have coordination problems. You need to pay more attention to what you’re doing.

2. You are struggling for words because you have too much on your mind.

3. You are having trouble swallowing due to the amazing power of suggestion.

4. It’s a migraine that you are not addressing properly. It’s not a brain tumor.

So I relaxed a little. Still feeling a little hyped up by my “near death” experience, I started thinking about my foolishness and decided maybe it isn’t so foolish after all.

What if lived as if we were dying more often? What if we said, “screw having a bucket list, if it’s on the list–I’m getting to work on it today!” It’s been said before, more eloquently than this, but it’s important to remember that we only have the present moment. Most likely, any rumbling you hear is horses and life is going to continue on tomorrow the same way it did today. Is that what you want?

What if once in awhile you let yourself feel that exhilarating zebra rush of Carpe Diem, dive into ice water, this day is a magnificent gift and I’m going to suck the marrow out of every second feeling? What if instead of talking yourself out of it, you ran with it, and did something spectacular?

It’s good to relax into the present moment. It’s good to have a peaceful contentment of the every day. It’s also good to remember (and never forget for a second) that our lives are too amazing to take for granted.

Last night, I caved and took some Excedrin Migraine, layed on the couch with  Sex and the City season 4 and some ginger tea, and called my massage therapist. Stubbornness is overrated, and I want to be ready for the zebras.

(Photo: Wwarby)


About Kate Bartolotta

Kate Bartolotta is a wellness cheerleader, yogini storyteller, and self-care maven. She also writes for Huffington Post, Yoga International, Mantra Yoga+ Health, a beauty full mind, The Good Men Project, The Green Divas, The Body Project, Project Eve, Thought Catalog and Soulseeds. Kate's books are now available on and Barnes & She is passionate about helping people fall in love with their lives. You can connect with Kate on Facebook and Instagram.


7 Responses to “Sometimes You Have to Think Zebras.”

  1. \”Stubbornness is overrated, and I want to be ready for the zebras.\” haha!! This made me smile. Glad it\’s just a migraine, but hope you find some relief soon.

    (P.S. For a moment I thought the sciatica was being caused by a tumor on my L5 vertebra! Oh god WebMD is dangerous).

  2. Brianna says:

    This is very nice Kate. Even though the experiences of things like migraines and other physical setbacks are difficult to deal with, they are good reminders of change, impermanence, the shortness of life. I think part of maturing is learning to develop that rational mind, but not letting it take over completely. It's as though we have to learn to be mothers to ourselves, but find balance between the fear that holds us back and the experiences we need that make us feel alive (like jumping into ice water).

  3. hahaha!! Step away from Dr. Google! Feeling much better today, thanks! Hope your exam went well!

  4. Andréa Balt says:

    Before this zebra goes to sleep like she means it, she wanted to tell you that she gets you and she thanks you for the hypochondriac smile of the day.

  5. Thanks Andrea!! Mwuah! Get some sleep!

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