I’m writing this as Category 5 Hurricane Irma gathers strength in the Atlantic. I’ve lived in Florida for over thirty years now, and this is not the first time a massive storm threatened our state. In fact, I’ve lived through several, though never a direct hit (she says while thanking God, and knocking on wood). I’ve prepared my home and family so many times, I can’t count. Often, little to nothing happens. We prepare anyway. No matter how often we go through the drill, it’s still stressful. Some may wonder why people choose to live in locations were severe weather threatens annually. This leads me to wonder, where on the planet does it not? I think we’d all be living there if there were such a place. Obviously, many factors play into where we choose to live and why. So, greetings from Florida!
One can’t help being a bit anxious, waiting for more information as to the storm’s track, wondering whether we have all the things we might need on hand, what more we might do, without doing too much. This year, there’s a potential college evacuation in the mix—Brooke goes to college in Orlando—think a 60,000 member student body evacuating along with Disney, Universal guests and a whole bunch of huge corporations. When will we, at the last minute or sometime before, have to drive out to get Brooke?
I’m trying not to watch the weather channel too much—they are already showing footage of empty store shelves, and the aftermath of other recent storms, only which invites panic. No one thinks or plans well in panic mode—everyone knows that. (Why an insurance company thought it would be good to run advertisements showing storm ravaged homes as people are preparing for a potentially catastrophic storm, I will never know). We all know the potential outcome, what we need are tools to help us navigate though, not drive us to panic. Thus, I am trying my hardest to keep calm and make considered decisions in the face of this major uncertainty and potentially severe adversity.
It’s a funny thing, uncertainty. Life is, by nature, uncertain, yet, we don’t seem to notice so much as when uncertainly is combined with potential adversity. With this situation about five days out, I have the luxury of planning a little at a time. I use a frame work to keep on track and maintain a bit of sanity. My considered approach does not entail sitting around too much, this is a time for planning then action, not analysis paralysis, so you’ve gotta get your game on.
Think about the end goal:
Making it through alive and preferably reasonably comfortably (and with style) is what I’m going for here.
In situations of uncertainty and adversity, it is completely normal to feel a bit of panic, and the desire to do ten things at once, but clearly you can’t, so I start by identifying my end game. Knowing how I hope or want things to turn out helps narrow down the paying field to the key elements. Clearly, I want my family to survive, my property to remain intact and dry, and maintain a modicum of comfort, if possible. (I have made sure our morning coffee will maintain its high standards for starters).
Create action steps:
Now that I have my end goal in mind, I can start to figure out how to make that happen, and lucky for us, there’s the internet so I can start with check lists, and how-to’s for virtually everything, so, when I find myself without experience or expertise in a given subject, I simply consult the World Wide Web. From there, I lay out to do’s and identify priorities.
Back into a time line:
Once I have a general outline of what needs to happen, I back into my time line. For example, Today, five days before the storm, I cleaned out the freezer, and refrigerator. The trash pick up was today so there won’t be any food spoiling in the trash. I also did all the laundry and made a grocery and supplies list. Roger went out shopping for water and nonperishables. We now need to wait to see where the storm goes and whether we need to secure our home. Because we have the basics out of the way, we can deal with the next set of decisions.
Consider back up plans:
We track additional options such as possible evacuation plans, what to do if we are flooded, and so on. While this isn’t a strong possibility, I like to have some ideas in the back of my mind, and work on these possibilities once I have all my other work done.
Continuing to assess the situation as it goes along and modify plans as needed.
Storms, big projects, and life need periodic reassessment, because, as we know, there is one constant in life, and that is change. Sorry to get all Sheldon Cooper on you, but it’s true. Because things are constantly changing, we have to, too. Yes, Virginia, even you.
So whilst I am taking care of business, I’m pretty calm. Working to achieve a goal has a certain zen to it. I take time out if I’m feeling overwhelmed, to collect myself and do a little meditation. I don’t have time for any of the drama or nonsense from the television. My family has always stayed safe and comfortable getting through storms. (Again, knock on wood). When I am actually doing things to facilitate my goals, I feel present; alive. I know there are no guarantees, there never really are. I stare down yet another storm with the recognition that I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, I realize I never know what’s going to happen tomorrow, I just have to do the best I can today.