I have intended to write my blog for this week all day. Admittedly, I’ve been shoulding on myself. In my defense, I am in North Carolina, in the path of Florence. By the time you read this, the unknown will be known, and most of the event will be over.
However, right now I am tapping my foot and waiting on Florence. Someone on Facebook said that waiting for a hurricane is like being stalked by a turtle for four days. I so get that! I know that there is devastation out there, and I am on the edge of the band that could get 12-18” of rain and 60-80 MPH winds. I’ve determined that the waiting and the unknown are a huge distraction!
I began to think about what part of the situation is getting me agitated. I am not being urged to evacuate. I have water, food, candles, and flashlights. My iPad, iPhone, computer, and Kindle are fully charged. I am ready and am not worried about losing some electricity.
When I face a situation that I want to figure out, I start with the things that I know. I know that I am probably going to lose electricity. I know that it is going to rain a bunch. I know that it is going to get really windy. I am okay with all of those. I’ve faced rain, wind, and a lack of electricity many times. It’s familiar, and because I’ve done it before, I feel sure that I can do it again.
Then I move to what I don’t know. I am in my new condo, and I’ve never been through a big storm here. I am pretty sure that I don’t have leaks anywhere, but I don’t know for sure. I have not seen how water flows around my condo during a storm. My little condo and I have not survived a storm together, and I am not completely confident about its performance.
A lack of trust when facing a new situation or working with a new person is completely normal. We feel uncertain until we’ve had a chance to see everyone and everything in action. Trust isn’t given automatically; it’s earned. Once I’ve weathered this big storm in my condo, I will feel better about the next storm.
I also don’t know what to expect with 60 MPH winds. Will the roof blow off? Will all the trees fall? Is my beloved Honda Pilot named Amber in danger as she sits out in the open in front of my condo? Should I move her up the hill? Once the deluge starts, will it be too late? Once again, I will know the answer to all of those questions in the next 48 hours and be more comfortable the next time a storm blows in.
So what could I do about the unknowns? I could go knock on a neighbor’s door and ask if they’ve been through a storm here before. I could go online and read about past hurricanes’ effects on NC. (That was not a great idea. Twenty-six people died in 2016 in NC during Matthew. 680,00 people were without power.) Still, I’d rather be prepared.
The other thing that is getting me more agitated is The Weather Channel. I know they are making sure that people understand the dangers. (See notes on Matthew above.) However, the doomsaying has been going on for days. I look out my window, and it is still and sunny, yet I’m anxious because the meteorologists keep scaring me!
I just heard a Weather Channel person say, “It’s only going to get worse from here.” I feel sorry for them. They have to keep talking and keep me riled up while the turtle is stalking us all. A turtle really is a great metaphor. I can hear a Weather Channel person saying, “Look right here. You can see where the turtle’s right foot has moved slightly ahead of the left foot.” Honestly, it’s tough on all of us.
Of course, I could turn the TV off. I have for several extended periods today. When it’s off, I’m afraid that I’m missing something. What if the turtle finds a jet pack? What if it starts stalking someone else? (Sorry, South Carolina!) What if the turtle’s tornadic rabbit friend catches up and passes it? What if I miss some potentially LIFESAVING piece of information? Ack!
Yes, that’s all internal dialogue that I control. And yes, I’m working on controlling it. But the waiting and unknown are getting to me.
The best thing that I did today was go over to a friend’s house and help her hang some drapes. We chatted and laughed while we stuck the hooks in the pleats and then hoisted the heavy drapes up. Of course, reaching out to others is usually a good solution for whatever is going on. Everything feels bigger and scarier when we are alone. Even connection on Facebook makes me feel better.
What’s the learning here?
1. Follow the juice. That’s a coaching phrase that I also apply in workshops. If there are energy and enthusiasm behind a subject or topic, follow it! I could not get myself motivated to write about the topic I had chosen for this week, so I changed! I followed the juice and wrote about the thing that was uppermost in my mind and having an effect on my life.
Sometimes, we just have to do things that we don’t want to do. However, we can usually modify the task and take on a part that is less distasteful. For example, I have two boxes of miscellaneous stuff left to unpack. I can’t face doing them all at once, so I take breaks from other work and put away five things. In small doses it feels like a reverse scavenger hunt. I have to figure out where each little thing goes. Everything has to have a place! There is some juice behind everything having a place.
2. Reach out. Everything is less scary and daunting if you do it with someone else. My friend and I had a great time hanging drapes yesterday. After we hung the drapes, we moved the cars in her garage to make room for some outside stuff. We got the gas grill, trash cans, and potted plants in there. It didn’t take us long, and it was fun to do together.
My mom lived with us for 10 years before she died. She and I did some awful and easy tasks together. They were always fun because she was fun. We laughed through carrying heavy furniture and putting sheets on beds. It was all better when we were together. Positive people help in every way.
3. Minimize the negative. Of course, I need to know what is going on with the weather. Florence is a threat, as are tornadoes caused by Florence. However, I don’t have to stay plugged in all day. I have alerts set up on my phone so I don’t have to get caught up in the frenzy.
In life, there are lots of people with Weather Channel syndrome. They like to dwell on the terrible things that might happen and always expect the worst. First, don’t be one of these people. Second, stay away from them.
Keep in mind that newscasters’ goal is to get you riled up and keep you that way. It makes their numbers better. Small doses of news every day is a good idea.
4. Worrying doesn’t prevent anything. I am in my second day of writing now, and Florence has been significantly downgraded for us. Winds will top at 35 MPH, and expected rain is 8-12”. It’s good to prepared for the worst, but worrying about it only exhausts a person.
5. Check in. It’s always a good idea to check in with yourself when something is bothering you. It’s a good idea to start with solid facts that are provable. Don’t allow any assumptions to sneak onto the list. “We are all going to die” is an assumption. “We are probably going to lose power” is a fact.
The next step is to catalogue the unknown. Once you have the list, what can you research and move into the factual column? Some things are just unknown, and you have to wait for the answer, but we can usually minimize the list.
Lastly, check in with your emotions. What are you feeling, and why? Awareness is a huge first step. Once we know what and why we feel a certain way, we can usually do something to improve the situation.
Sometimes it’s a values issue; we are not acting in alignment with our values. Sometimes, it’s the influence of outside negative influences. Whatever it is, we have to define it before we can deal with it.
The turtle is almost here. I am ready and calm. Really, that’s one of the great goals in life and a hallmark of a great leader.
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