I am writing this post on Tuesday, not knowing if I will be able to post in tomorrow, as scheduled.
You see, I live on a sailboat in Clear Lake Shores, Texas—between Houston and Galveston. On Saturday night at a party, I mentioned that I plan to visit family in Michigan in two weeks, and one party-goer became very alarmed, letting me know that there is a disturbance in the Gulf that might hit at that time.
The next day, I read in my Galveston County Mommies group that there was a tropical storm that was expected to hit on Thursday. “If you stay, be prepared,” one member cautioned.
And so we prepared. If the storm were to hit on Thursday, we would go grocery shopping on Tuesday, to make sure we were stocked up.
And then Monday happened. The sky went gray. The winds picked up. And NOAA decided that the storm—now named Bill—would hit that evening. We questioned this, but when we got a phone call from the local school district that all events were cancelled due to flooding, due decided to make a trip to the store.
The store was madness, plain and simple. People were frantically filling their carts with potato chips, cans of meat-product, or anything else they thought they would be needing. There was no bottled water to be found, although I heard rumor of fights breaking out over gallon jugs.
Fortunately, we had calmly made a list before shopping. We knew that it was the storm surge that would be our greatest challenge, and it could easily lead to us losing power. The biggest challenge with this was powering the bilge pump, so we had plans for that, including extra batteries and a generator. With the generator, we would likely be able to power our built-in refridgerator, but that was not a sure thing. So we made a list of 5 days' worth of foods that did not require refrigeration or cooking. Bottled water was on my list, but after looking at the situation, we realized that we could fill our gallon jug from our shore water, and fill our 100 gallon water tank, which had not been sanitized (so it would need to be boiled on our propane stove).
After our planning, we waited. We sat up, drinking our wine, until 11:30 that night. Our daughter, bored with the inactivity, put herself to bed at 10:00! Finally we retired, figuring that Bill had passed us by.
The next day if was gray and the water was somewhat high, but it was cool out, so I figured I could put in a good day's work moving. We had just bought our current boat, and were in the process of moving from our old boat. I emptied the bathroom, and then most of the kitchen, while watching the water slowly climb. I decided I would head back when there were 2 inches of freeboard on the docks.
Then, around 2:00 p.m., the marina cut the power. The water was high enough that there was a danger of electric shock. Right after that, the rain and wind picked up. I decided to call it a day, but I could not pull the boat in and get off, before it was blown away. Seeing one of my friends on the dock, I yelled for her to help me, and then I drove back to my boat and climbed up the boarding ladder my husband had attached to the side.
Drenched, I changed into some pajamas and warmed up and relaxed a little, while my husband attended to the generator, which kept our pump and the fridge running. It quit a few times, which required some emergency repairs.
And then the rain stopped. We had a few more sprinkles, but the water was clearly receding. We still had no power, but we were cautiously optimistic that we had made it. Of course, there were rumors to the contrary.
So what did this relatively minor storm teach me about life and this thing we call preparedness? This week I learned:
1. I learned that fearful predictions are meaningless.
We thought the storm would his Thursday. When it was over, we thought it would hit again. And none of this meant anything. We think we can predict the future, and that by being afraid and thinking through the worst case scenario, we can avoid it. This is not true. We can only be prepared to use the tools we have, when the time comes to use them.
2. I learned that I have tool that I can use.
Our best decisions came through improvising. Our fixes to the generator, my husband's decision to put out the ladder, and the tarps that we decided to put up at the last minute...They all were decisions we made, using the knowledge we have. When the storms in life hit, we also have tools and knowledge that we can use. Trusting intuition is key.
3. I learned that some preparedness is key.
We did heed the warning signs and stock up on foods that would help us in our situation. We did fill our water tank, install our generator, and buy fuel for it. In life, too, it is important to think ahead and develop tools that will help you to weather the storm. These tools may include self-care, social skills, methods of questioning limiting beliefs, etc.
4. I learned that the storm will end.
While we thought it would last for days, Bill ran off as soon as he came, falling short of the many dire predictions. And in life, there is no way to know how long the storms will last, and the sunny day may be only a couple hours away.
Take these lessons from the storms on the seas and the storms in your life, and you will be more than ready to weather them. Remember that there is always a rainbow and a receding of the waters!
For help gaining the tools to weather the storms in your life, consider an individual e-mail, chat, or Skype session.
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