Storm

With a blog/website title of “A Storm You Can Weather” how could I not write when the daily prompt was simply the word, storm.

I love a good storm, yet they terrify me. I love the roar of thunder and the sound of rain. However, lightning is one of my biggest fears. Why is it my biggest fear? My fear of lightning made itself known when I was about eleven years old. My friend and I were swimming in the pool in my backyard when I began to hear thunder. I told her that we should get out, as that is the rule. We shrugged it off a little bit longer, but I began to get more fearful as the roll of thunder was heard more frequently. Finally, I convinced her to get out. We were drying off when we started to think about getting back in as the thunder seemed to have stopped. The sound of thunder was heard in the distance so we decided to go inside for a little bit. We left the top deck and I turned around to lock up the gate. I was standing on the staircase between the bottom and top deck, holding a metal lock in the air as I prepared to put it on the gate when lightning struck. The lightning seemed so close as if it had struck right in front of me and the loudest crack of thunder echoed almost immediately after the lightning. I have never screamed so loud, nor for so long in my entire life. I ran into the house with shaking knees and continued to scream even once safely inside. My sister was telling me to be quiet as her son was sleeping, my friend was laughing hysterically, and my knees were shaking uncontrollably. Ever since then, lightning has enthralled, yet terrified me. I have since been caught in terrible storms and ten years later that anxious feeling still makes itself known every time I see lightning.

While storms are brewing outside every day all over the world, storms are brewing within the people around us. Maybe even within you right now. There are good storms. Storms when life goes crazy but for reasons that bring joy. For example, having a baby. I cannot speak from personal experience, but from plenty of observation, man is that a storm. Your life is turned upside down as you prepare to bring in a new life to the world. Your life is forever changed when that baby finally make its appearance. Then your life is in a constant whirlwind watching that child grow up way to fast. It is a storm indeed, but a storm that you want to sit on the front porch for as you watch in awe. There are storms that bring chaos and sadness. Losing a loved one or losing a job are both circumstances that bring their own unique storms.

Storms are unavoidable. There is not a thing that we can do to prevent or change the nature of a storm, physical or figurative. What we can do, is control the way we react. For me, when I see that first strike of lightning, I begin to tense up and get very anxious. Knowing how it affects me, when I sense a storm coming, I can begin to prepare myself and work towards changing my reaction. Sometimes I practice this and actually enjoy the beauty of a streak of lightning stretching from the sky to earth (from a great distance and in shelter of course). It is the same idea for the storms of life.

I just spent four years of my life studying social work and varying techniques that are applicable to the field of work. One technique that comes up over and over again is mindfulness. Google, (oh so convenient, isn’t it?) defines mindfulness as, “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.” How different would we be if we constantly practiced mindfulness? If we were always aware of our state of consciousness and of our surroundings? How often do we go through a day without noticing a single thing outside of our little bubble?

Life is hard and there is no avoiding that. We are bound to face trials and hardships, we cannot alter that. What CAN be altered is our response to life’s surprises.

This week I over booked myself and planned to do far more than I should have. It was stressing me out a bit and when other things were not going according to plan, I was getting more frustrated than necessary. When I got off of work early today, I decided to just take an evening for myself. After a quick trip to the store, I went home where I watched Netflix, ate ice cream, used a face mask, and just took a breather. In that time I realized how often I stretch myself thin. Better yet, I realized how little I give myself time to just breath. I also realized how it is starting to catch up to me.

People are often times defined as selfish or selfless. You cannot be both, or so I thought. I am beginning to realize that there is a healthy balance. We are called to do unto others. I have been called to serve those around me, particularly children. It is in my nature to want to serve those I love, it is most definitely my love language as far as showing love goes. I chose to go into a helping profession so that I could spend my working days serving and I love {almost} every second of it. As much as I love serving, it is becoming apparent how the lack of serving myself is beginning to affect me. Contempt and Bitterness have never been personality traits of mine until recently. Then, the realization that I can take care of myself AND make serving others a priority hit. It is okay to say no every now and then and just spend a few hours mindlessly watching Netflix. There is no need to feel guilty about taking time to just be alone without obligation to anyone else. In fact, it is necessary. In order to be your best to serve others to your highest capability, you have to refresh. If you are constantly on the go without time to refresh, then eventually you will burn out. Taking a day here and there is far better than burning out and needing days on end to recover.

So, where storms are avoidable, we should avoid them. Why suffer when it is completely unnecessary? But when it is completely unavoidable and you have no choice but to walk into a storm, remember mindfulness. Life is what you make it. Hold your head up high and remember that it is only for a time. You have made it to where you are now, you can keep going.
When it gets too difficult and taking one more step seems impossible, just remember, life is A storm You can Weather.

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