Hurricane Ida and Nora

Wasted Worry

I know this may seem insensitive to those who went through Hurricane Ida in the United States or Hurricane Nora on the mainland of Mexico, but I was upset we didn’t get a hurricane. Let me explain.

Early last week, Windy.com showed a possible wind formation for this past weekend. Last Thursday NOAA made it official that there would be a tropical storm or hurricane. For three days, I obsessively monitored that latest information about the storm. How big would it become? How would it affect my city? Would there be rain or wind or both?

Windy.com

Prepare for the Worst

After living in a hurricane path for six years, we have become accustomed to hurricane season. August and September, we stay on alert. We watch the sites for notifications of storms. We are fortunate to have scientific bodies who monitor potential storms, their possible direction and intensity. We prepare for potential storms. The first few storms, we really didn’t know what we were doing, but now we know what to expect, what to purchase, and how to prepare. Just like making sure there is an ice scraper in the car and that the snow blower is in working order before a blizzard, we are able to prepare for a possible hurricane. My husband and I are blessed to have the money and means to buy and store extra food, water, and gasoline for a generator.

Hope for the Best

We prepare for the worst and hope for the best. But do I really? I did prepare for the worst, but I think I found myself expecting, and dare I say, wanting the worst. I found myself obsessed with the hurricane path. Tropical storms are interesting creatures. As much as technology and science can alert us to a storm, it is not an exact science. The forecast fluctuates as many variables, like hitting land or moving over warm waters, can change the direction and intensity of a potential storm. I, stupidly, found myself becoming angry when the storm diminished in intensity and moved away from being a threat to my home. Why is that?

Accept the Situation

Accepting the situation was NOT what I was doing. I had invested so much time and worry into the storm’s path that when it was not going to hit, I could see how much worry I had wasted. I was being an obsessed drama queen. My expectations of where, when, and how the storm was going to hit were not met, and I was angry. I was trying to control the uncontrollable. Once again, I found myself planning, worrying, and expecting instead of just living. I was angry at myself for being obsessed about a storm that never arrived.

Keep Living

This is what I forgot to do. I was focused on controlling the uncontrollable or being so focused on worry that I put my life on hold. I waited on, anticipated, the storm. I didn’t go places. I didn’t do things. I told others that I may not be able to make commitments the following week because of the storm. I put a big pause button on my life waiting for something to happen, which never materialized. And I was kinda angry because of all the time and focus I wasted.

What in your life are you waiting to have happen or to be resolved before you move forward? How much time and effort are being spent focusing on things you can not control? What parts of your life are you putting on hold until something beyond your control is resolved?  Breathe. Prepare for the worst. Hope for the best. Accept the current situation which may be one of uncertainty. And keep living.

le boat boating

Loving Life’s Imperfection

Back in the day I had a, thankfully, short-term obsession with Tyra Bank’s America’s Next Top Supermodel contest show. What I loved was how the judges looked at a super-tall, super-thin, super-perfect woman and focused-in on her one flaw. Perhaps it was an oversized mole, a gap in the front of their teeth, or a slightly crooked nose. I know what you are thinking. “How dare these judges focus on the minor flaw of these otherwise amazing specimens of female beauty!” But it is not what you think. The judges did not focus on the flaws to criticize them. They focused on the flaw because it was what made them interesting, unique, and memorable. It was their imperfection which drew our eye to them. It was their imperfection which made them truly beautiful. Over the years I have hung on to this premise to help with my own issues of accepting my body, and over time bit by bit I have accepted the skin I’m in. What I have been noticing lately is how my expectation of the perfection of life is also not achievable, and how the imperfection of life is also the thing that makes life interesting.

Almost 20 years ago, my husband and I had an amazing honeymoon. We visited four European countries in two weeks. What is interesting is when I think of our trip, I don’t remember the amazing meal we had in Grote Markt Brussels Belgium, the five-star hotel we stayed at in London, or touring the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. What first comes to mind is “Brugge Kaput”; two words that both ruined our day and made for the most memorable day of our honeymoon.  My husband and I love boating so part of our honeymoon included a four-day trip on the canals of Holland in our own houseboat. Much of this trip was an adventure like realizing the first river we had to cross was the busy Amstel filled with enormous container ships, learning how to navigate using a guide all in Dutch, and running across unexpected points of interest like the Belgium witch-trial museum.  Out of all of these adventures, the first thing I think of, the first thing that comes to mind about our entire honeymoon is “Brugge Kaput.”

le boat boating
Le Boat boating tours

We were on the last day of our houseboat adventure. We had just spent the last hour floating past idyllic farm fields and came into the last town and the last bridge before getting back to where we rented the boat. We had planned to spend a quiet evening anchored in the large lake nearby then returning the boat the next day. Throughout the journey we had come across bridges and locks, learning to honk our horn to alert the attendant then pay a few guilders for the attendant to let us through. We came up to the final bridge, honked, and waited. And waited. And honked again. And waited. This went on for quite some time before the grumpy old attendant showed up and talked on and on in Dutch. (side note: all the guidebooks we bought said that English is common in Holland. It is not. English is common in Amsterdam but not in the small towns we were visiting.) The words we caught were “brugge” which we had learned meant “bridge” and “kaput” which I learned from my German father which meant “broken.” The bridge was broken.

We finally understood that the bridge was down but should be working the next day. We went into this tiny, tiny town to find a phone to ask the boat rental company what to do. Option 1 was to go back the three days we had just traveled. Option 2 was to wait it out. We decided to wait it out, but not to stay in this town which seemed to consist of a broken bridge and a small store with the phone we used. Although we were tired from traveling, we decided to sail back the hour or so, past the now monotonous farm fields, to the larger town we had seen on the map. What a great choice!  The town had an actual marina and included in the small fee was the use of bicycles. We road into town, explored the shops, almost got hit by a bus, and had an amazing day. The next day, we once again motored past the same really-boring-now farm fields we had passed twice before. Out of everything we saw and experienced on our trip, I wouldn’t change this adventure for anything.

Next time you are having a bad day, next time your best laid plans are ruined, breathe. Find the beauty in what is happening versus what you wanted to happen. Look for the silver lining and be in the moment to enjoy the wonder of what will unfold.

trying to control the uncontrollable

When Control Is Out of Control

Margie was the best hostess. She greeted everyone at the door. She passed appetizers and offered drinks. Margie ensured that everyone had a good time and that absolutely everything was perfect. The problem was – this was not Margie’s party. She was a guest at the party like everyone else and yet she acted as if she owned the place. Margie is a control freak. She needs to be in charge. She needs to be in control. I used to be like Margie.

trying to control the uncontrollableWhen I was in the height of my Type-A days, I was a major control freak. I felt responsible for the feelings and actions of all those around me. I felt responsible for ensuring everything within my view went smoothly. My body ached due to the weight I put on my own shoulders. I was in a constant state of alert watching for something to be out of alignment for me to fix. My adrenals worked overtime as the stress I created never receded.

Finally on day while I was out with a friend, I finally realized how far my desire for control had gotten. As I talked to my friend, a stranger’s towel five feet away from me was picked up by the wind and almost fell in the water. I gasped and lunged in vain for the towel. My friend called me on it and I finally realized the extent my sense of responsibility had gotten. I was no longer living my life. I was living solely to care for everything and everyone around me. Realizing my desire for control and responsibility smothered my ability to enjoy life, I had to make a change.

Why do we feel we need to be in control all the time and in every situation?

For Margie, her intent was not to be rude to the actual hostess. The reason Margie took on the responsibilities of the hostess, and the reason many of us do it, is to feel safe. If she could ensure everyone was happy, no one would attack her. If nothing broke, she couldn’t be blamed. If nothing went wrong, there was nothing for her to feel guilty about. If she took care of everything, then she was safe and secure. Control is a security blanket in a scary uncertain world.

Did you know there is a better way to feel safe? Do you know there is a more relaxed way to be productive?

Instead of holding an iron first around everyone and everything around you, try letting go. Control binds us keeping us closed off and small. Releasing our feeling of responsibility and misbelief in the power of control, we can actually find real contentment.

If we turn to nature, we see that it does not fight to control. A maple tree does not feel responsible for its saplings; the tree naturally releases seeds trusting they will fare well. A stream does not try to direct its course; water simply flows the path of least resistance. A bird does not create an exact flight plan; taking flight the bird trusts its internal guidance system and adapts easily to new wind currents and obstacles.

Next time you catch yourself trying to control the uncontrollable, next time you feel tightness in your back as you strain to make something bend to your will, take a breath. Relax. Wait. Instead of forcing what you believe must happen, relax into the flow of what is emerging. We always have choice and action but instead of misbelieving we can create the outcome, relax into the truth of the situation and then like the river choose the path of least resistance. You will find that things happen for the better, with less effort, and in amazing ways you could not have imagined. And you fill find a love of life again.