It was a normal morning, me sitting at the computer responding to emails, dogs napping on the window seat, and light gray clouds beginning to gather in the sky. They didn't look threatening and were keeping the heat of the sun at bay, always a welcome reprieve during summer in the desert.
Lost in reading emails, I was abruptly startled by a large gust of wind that shook the house and had the large mesquite tree outside the window hanging on with all its might. I quickly stood up from the computer in time to see the landscape outside my window disappear in a fog of dust. The wind screeched at a high velocity as the plants near the house thrashed against the windows, and I could hear the sounds of things not tightly secured being blown all around.
I hurried to the large bay window in the bedroom to check on the horses who were in the arena, about 50 yards from the window. I saw faint shadows of their bodies slowly disappear as a dense cloud of dust turned the world outside into a blurry brown wall of dirt. The wind howled, dust pelted the windows, and the inside of the house was oddly quite and still. Quite a contrast!
Checking the local weather on the computer I saw large clusters of storms with heavy rain heading our way. My next glance outside showed the dust storm slowing. I knew this was my window of opportunity to check the horses and the rest of the property.
Stepping outside I noticed the wind had slowed to a stiff breeze. The wind chimes in the tree where still pelting out a harsh tune, yet the dust was moving off and the world was coming back into focus. A quick survey showed that everything and everyone had weather the dust storm fine.
I'd gone outside with a rush of adrenaline pumping, ready to quickly get things cleaned up and horses moved to shelter before the rain hit. I discovered everything was in its place and remained secure. There was nothing to do but move the horses. Oddly enough, I felt a little disappointed that there wasn't a need to spring into action quickly, as I was primed and ready to go.
As I stood there feeling all this, I realized that when you're prepared, when you've done the work necessary, and secured things correctly, you can easily weather the storm. In fact, it gives you time to experience and enjoy the storm. I stood for several minutes and enjoyed the cooler breeze, the beauty of the clouds gathering, the smell of rain on the air, and the rumble of distant thunder. I noticed the calmness of the horses as they gathered at the gate, amazed that after the dust storm they'd just experienced they were calm and peaceful. I felt the calm and the serenity of the moment too.
After I was back in the house, listening to the first drops of rain fall on the roof, I pulled from my experience a few key points to weathering life's storms.
Four keys to weathering life's storms:
Know where you are, and where you are going. A clear path, and a clear vision will be your navigation in any storm.
I knew the end result I needed to create, and the steps necessary to achieve it.
Keep perspective. Things look and feel different in a storm; emotions can run high, thoughts and fears can run away with you, and illusions can cloud reality. Stay present in the moment and clearly see what is happening. It's the safest way to navigate any storm.
I was tempted to rush out and move the horses in the middle of the storm. For those that have ever tried to move large animals in a safe and orderly manner amidst fierce winds, limited visibility, and dust pelting your face, you know the futility in this and the danger you create for yourself and others. Knowing the difference between perceived and real danger was important. You'll often make matters worse when reacting to perceived danger, creating a storm within a storm.
Know what is important. There are distractions present in every moment of your day, confusion present in life's storms. Remain clear on what is most important, and your next steps will be certain.
I could have been distracted by all the debris that had blown into the yard, the remaining hay from breakfast that was now scattered in the neighbors yard, or the blanket of dust that had filled the patio and covered everything in sight. But I knew the most important task was to make sure everything was secure and ready for the rain the thunder was telling me was just a few minutes away.
Be prepared. There are times you'll know when a storm is advancing, and there are times one will catch you by surprise. The best way to be prepared is to take a pro-active approach to life. Create life by choice, not by chance. You'll stand in your power and hold your ground during times that blow others over and knock them off course.
Unaware a storm was approaching, I went through my usual morning routine of making sure tarps were secure on the hay, tools where put away and secure, and all doors and gates were closed. A routine I was thankful for only a few hours later.
Life's storms are inevitable. How you choose to prepare for and navigate them influences the experience you'll have. Will you be a victim of your preparation and navigation or will they empower you?