Snow gently falls, but all I can see is the haze it forms in the pre-dawn light across the street and beyond. Bundled up on my porch and safely planted on an Adirondack chair in the corner, I take it all in with peace flowing through me. I sink into the quiet, the weight, the deep holding all around me. And, I realize in one moment, how important this is to my well-being.
I hear a snow plow blade strike the ground in the distance and I am instantly taken back to December 11, 2008 and the huge ice storm that left over 250,000 upstate New Yorkers in the bone-chilling dark, tossing my life into a whirlwind for the next week as I was the front-line person leading the communication and fundraising efforts for our local Red Cross. On that night a few years ago, my husband shook me awake around 3:00 a.m. “Come with me,” he said briskly. I felt a little scared, but got dressed and obliged without a word.
I step out to our front porch and into a world of surreal wonder. Tinkling and crackling sounds are everywhere. Tree branches hit and rub and shudder against each other. I hear the tell-tale pit-pat spit of ice striking every surface it could land on as it fell unrelenting from the gray sky. The light is eery, the sounds eerier. I hear pops and buzzing as power lines go down, crashing into trees and I hear the great groan of splitting tree trunks that have been standing for decades as they give way to the massive crush. I see bursts of light in the sky as power transformers breathe their last gasp in a big display of firepower, then flame out, silent and still.
I needed to hunker down into the holding of the storm, nestling myself in Mother Nature’s arms and flowing with her rhythms and not fighting them.
I walk into several days of 4-6 hours of sleep a night, handling endless media coordination and interviews, managing staff and volunteers, and looking for money. I drive myself hard and am filled with purpose and excitement and give great thanks that I can make a difference in such meaningful ways. But, what I needed most at that time was to do exactly what I am doing now because I always drive myself hard. I needed to hunker down into the holding of the storm, nestling myself in Mother Nature’s arms and flowing with her rhythms and not fighting them.
I love weather, always have. My husband fondly jokes that I should have been a meteorologist. The default station on our TV is the Weather Channel. My favorite nationally televised interview I did for the Red Cross was for the Weather Channel. The first app I downloaded onto my iPhone was enhanced weather. My fascination with the drama of weather made my job at the Red Cross that much more fun and exhilarating. And it made me better.
But, there is a dark side I am only now seeing. Innocent, no intent, but I realize now that I gain significant grounding and replenishment from storms that slow our lives down and turn our everyday lives off for a brief respite. Snow means spontaneous days home with the kids, perhaps cooking a rich pasta sauce, shoveling and sledding, brewing hot cocoa, movies and toasty fires. Rain means big books and cups of tea nestled under blankets for the day. Thunderstorms drive the cats under the furniture and the rest of us to the porch to grab our favorite chairs to watch it blow by. Wind storms breathe life throughout the house and swoosh curtains all night long in a chorus of “ahh”.
I worked at an intense job in an intense environment and was constantly challenged to be “on” and when the weather poured in, we poured it on even more.
I worked at an intense job in an intense environment and was constantly challenged to be “on” and when the weather poured in, we poured it on even more. Ironically, it was those times of weather that moved me into serious action, yet I most needed to be out of action and recharging — rocking on my front porch, or burrowing deeper under the covers, or walking in the warm summer rain, or shoveling winter white.
I never seemed to rest and I stripped away from myself, unwittingly, the best rest I could get by the very nature of the job at hand. I had the best job ever at the Red Cross, I loved it beyond measure, but it was killing me. And now I know another reason why.
The light is increasing, and the clock tells me dawn is upon us. I’ll ponder this a bit more while I shuffle into the kitchen from the porch to brew a pot of coffee and place more logs on the fire. If I’m lucky, I’ll be in pajamas all day.