There are days that arrive — some anticipated and others landing with an unexpected shock—that can stop us from even walking out our front door. Whether it’s the literal Winter outside our homes or a metaphoric one in our souls, relationships or circumstances, we all have ice storms and snow days that play havoc with our lives.
In the ancient of days, before the weather channel, snow and ice would get to sneak into town more often. You’d wake without warning to a landscape to enchant you, possibly being the answer to a fervent grade school prayer, or to ruin your day, depending on where you needed or wanted to be.
These days, we have somewhat better warning systems for the physical world, but our personal worlds lack automatic systems to alert us to impending storms, times when we must cope with being “iced in”. We have to build those systems ourselves, or at least lay in the supplies and plans for those iced-in times, if we want to turn them into “snow days”. And we all loved snow days when we were kids.
The practice of a positive life encourages us to be prepared for those unscheduled times. With a little preparation, we can weather being iced in; ready to take advantage of a “snow day”. Just like a physical snow day, getting through the metaphoric counterpart with grace and comfort can depend on prior preparation.
My home sits halfway up a high hill, and is reached by “turning off the main road onto the dirt road, cross the bridge, up the 45- degree inclined one-lane cement driveway, go about 400 feet up through the woods and around the curve to the right”. It takes little imagination to realize what even a small amount of ice or snow does to our ability to get off the hill. The world can be humming along, roads plowed and scraped, and we’re not going anywhere.
All too often our hopes and plans can be iced in– locked in place by conditions that make it just as impossible to move forward as it is to get down off my hill after an early morning ‘Wintry Mix’. Its often frustrating or just plain annoying to be unable to get on with what you want and need to do–to have a day’s plan—or worse— a week’s, month’s or even a year’s worth of plans, dreams and hopes put on hold. How can we weather the storms that will come, sooner or later? How do we turn being “iced in” into a snow day? There are three basic things to do before your storm season:
1. “Check the weather”
Whatever the type of your plan —financial, social, travel, career, academic, relationship, or personal development— they’ll take place in some sort of environment. Even if that environment is simply your own interior world, it has seasons and patterns. Keep an eye on what’s going on.
If you’re the person who “lives up on the hill”, making sure that the key players in your life understand why you may be the one person who can’t – for good reasons—“make it in” can go a long way in damage control.
2. “Stock up before the storm”
Don’t get caught fighting the crowd for “milk and bread” hours before the storm hits. We all have a pretty good idea of we need when we can’t “get out”. The equivalents of snow shovels, cocoa and even sleds can be bought and put away for the future.
If you aren’t sure what you need for your plans — sit down and make a list. Your lists might be anything from backup baby sitters to things to do instead of raiding the fridge when your emotional world crashes. Figure out what you need to have on hand, invest in it and let that worry go.
3. “Expect the unexpected”
While you don’t want to empower worry or angst, forecasting can be very useful. What might come up? What’s your worst-case scenario? What do you – and those around you – do if, say, the power goes off in the middle of an ice storm for more than a day? Or if you and your spouse both lose your jobs at the same time?
Perhaps preparing for the worst may mean allowing yourself to envision losses that would be the “Perfect Storm” of your life. What can you do for yourself and those around you to cope or make ready? These may be so overwhelming to consider that you may wish to get professional advice in making plans to cope with them. It may be as complex as long-term financial planning or as simple as letting your best friend know you’ll be there for them when their storms hit.
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…..
Every place has some sort of bad weather; every life has its storms. There is no life so protected, so well-ordered that sorrow, pain, and setbacks don’t occur in some form. “Ice and snow” will show up eventually –now’s the time to do what you can to turn that ice storm into a snow day.
There will be days when you will just have to let it go—you and the plans you thought to carry out on this icy day aren’t going anywhere— but since you did your homework ahead of time, laying in tools and toys for your “snow day”, now’s the time to watch that DVD, build that ship model that’s been quietly waiting, or to call your sister in Florida and tell her all about the fun she’s missing.
Ice and snow are going to show up sometime; but if you prepare, you can take the day for what it is, deal with the change in plans, shovel your real and metaphorical walks, and perhaps enjoy a cup of cocoa, knowing that you did your best, and that Spring is just as inevitable as the snow.
How do you prepare for, and deal with, “snow days” in your life?