Browsing the archives for the storm tag

Self and the Storm

family, Spiritual Journey

Within a storm of uncertainty and chaos, there is a center of me that stays out of the wind and cold. A part that watches – a part that is learning. Normally, I am often concerned with how others around me are doing, and one person having a bad day used to cause me to spend tremendous energy trying to change that.

Today I heard myself letting my daughter’s issues be her issues and not affect my own enjoyment of the day. Not that it was anything major – we are still learning how to be with one another. And that means living with one another’s quirks and foibles, and really it’s about recognizing boundaries.

Watching the Storm Gather

When I watch a rainstorm, I never get confused as to where I stop and where the storm begins. The border between the storm and I is usually a pane of glass between us, or the edge of the porch, or at the very least my skin and (hopefully) my hat. And yet when others have their own stormy periods, I seem to forget that distinctive boundary – and let their problems become mine.

But boundaries are our friends, and when they function, they can be the shelter between us and the storm that rages outside. Learning about myself and being willing to learn from mistakes helps teach me about myself – it shows me what I can and can’t accept, for instance. For instance, as I learn what helps me stay healthy (for example, my photography), I can then make decisions about how valuable it is.

The purpose of having boundaries is to protect and take care of ourselves. We need to be able to tell other people when they are acting in ways that are not acceptable to us. A first step is starting to know that we have a right to protect and defend ourselves. That we have not only the right, but the duty to take responsibility for how we allow others to treat us.
–Robert Burney

And sometimes, that may just mean letting a storm stay outside, or letting an unhappy teen be unhappy until they choose otherwise – while making the bast choices for myself along the way. Today worked out well, and I think the boundaries helped keep the storm at a minimum. More importantly, it let me be available for my daughter when the weather cleared up – something I would have missed if I had made the momentary storm become more important than it was.

How do you keep from getting soaked by someone else’s storm? How have you learned to take care of yourself?

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Twitter and the Hurricane Ike Community

Life as it is, Twitter

Hurricane Ike passed through this area more than a week ago, and the effects are still very present. I sat in a McDonalds today – the only one in the area that was open – and listened to a mother explain to her young daughter that they couldn’t watch anything on TV at home because they still had no power, but now they could have a hot meal. But while there are still bumps in the road ahead of us as we clean up, what I will remember from Ike is the night of the storm itself and the community that kept me company.

Watching Ike Through the Night

After the height of the storm – about the time I had taken this photo – the power had gone off shortly before and the waiting began. But I was in touch with so many people that night, i was able to sit in my living room in the dark with my computer and phone and candles and participate in a conversation about the storm – we shared stories of when we lost power, the noises we heard as trees broke and crashed, the fears as one of us thought their house was on fire. We had each other through the storm.

A couple of situations underscored this comforting community for me. I had been following on Twitter the National Hurricane Center’s @HurricaneIke account and they were correcting news errors about tornadoes and sending links to show radar imagery. They even shared the way the downtown buildings were creating blind spots and false indications of tornadoes. A calm voice of reason and knowledge. But turning on the radio, I found other voices that were not as calm, callers that were alone and frightened and isolated from one another except for the radio, all in the dark as I was, but without the reassuring chatter of friends and experts as we on Twitter had with one another.

The next couple of days saw a near-collapse of the cellular voice and data networks in the area. Calls may or may not work at any given time, but the SMS-based technology of Twitter kept us still in touch. We knew who had power and who didn’t. People with power were opening their doors to the people without, and we knew the condition of the city as people checked in with their zip codes. (This also lead to someone messaging me on twitter to check on their brother as they realized I lived in the same neighborhood.) Messages got out about who needed help, and what people were doing to pass the time in the heat of a city with no air conditioning. Tips were given on how to check for power, or where generators could be found, and what sort of nails would best hold tarps in place.

The final way this community worked for me was when I started searching those messages on Twitter hashtagged with #ike, so that they could be viewed as a whole. I got the idea to search for my zipcode as well, and found others that lived near me that had also shared their stories and community during and after the storm. I added them to the list of people I follow on twitter and my own community on-line grew to include the people in my geographic community.

I even found the way to express some of my own feelings from the tweet of a neighbor:

HughesJW: Today I’ll try to take a step out of crisis mode and begin finding a new normal. Still grieving loss of old normal, #Ike.

The final irony is that this new community on Twitter, the same internet service that has had so many availability problems, turned out to provide the stability that we needed to get through this storm together.

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The Choice to Abandon Myself

Life as it is, Spiritual Journey, Vulnerability

While I was in Dallas for my daughter’s hospitalization, I attended several support meetings. In one of these, someone read a small chapter of a book. It didn’t hold my interest, but caught me in the last sentences. They said in effect:

You may feel abandoned by those who you counted on. But we still have choices – only we can decide whether to abandon ourselves.

And this hit me pretty hard. Because I had been feeling pretty abandoned by my former bride and her decision to leave the state and move thousands of miles away while I raise two teens, one of whom has special needs. But it was that last idea – the one of abandoning myself that I had never looked at.

But it certainly fit to some degree. I had gone out and bought a video game to escape into from the hotel room after the first few days. In very little time, I found myself wanting to play rather than attend to phone calls I needed to make or e-mails that needed to be written. I told myself that as hard as everything had been, I deserved these breaks. I needed the escape.

Looking at the word, I found the following:

a·ban·don
tr.v. a·ban·doned, a·ban·don·ing, a·ban·dons
1 – To withdraw one’s support or help from, especially in spite of duty, allegiance, or responsibility; desert: abandon a friend in trouble.
2 – To give up by leaving or ceasing to operate or inhabit, especially as a result of danger or other impending threat: abandoned the ship.
3 – To surrender one’s claim to, right to, or interest in; give up entirely.
4 – To cease trying to continue; desist from: abandoned the search for the missing hiker.
5 – To yield (oneself) completely, as to emotion.

It was this first definition that caught my attention. Sure my life was difficult, but one of the things that keeps it difficult are all of the things I keep telling myself I will do – and then never get around to doing. Or worse, doing the first 95% of the task, and then deciding that was enough for now – time to go play a game. And then never returning to the task….

Isn’t that abandonment? In that first definition it talks about duty and responsibility as what is being spited in this stuff. An I saw my poor inner child being left behind, not by others but by myself.

So this past week, I have been trying to stay in the present moment with myself. Paying bills when medical expenses has stripped the accounts to the point that there isn’t enough to go around. Making calls, sending FAXes and signing documents that need it even though it hurts to do so.

And in doing so, I have been reminded that this shit hurts. Nothing like turning into the storm and trying to hit the waves bow first (to avoid being capsized) to see just how big they are and want to be somewhere else. No wonder I keep wanting to escape! Abandon ship!

But me and my life is the ship….

So maybe there are those who captain their lives and navigate storms and fair weather and this just seems like basic lessons. Captaining Onje’s Life 101 is a course I never saw advertised. Are some just born with this ability? Or does it take something opening our eyes to the way things are to show us what we do to ourselves?

I don’t know, but I believe there is hope through the storm. After all, look at the word, “abandon” when it stops being an action and becomes instead a thing of substance. That is, a noun:

a·ban·don
n.
1 – Unbounded enthusiasm; exuberance.
2 – A complete surrender of inhibitions.

Imagine being able to captain a life like that. Until then, I need to keep bailing and staying at the helm.

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