We had heard a storm was coming a day before it hit. Schools and businesses closed. The media prepared by naming the event Snowcropolis and giving minute by minute updates.
As it started to snow, we watched our city being transformed into a beautiful winter wonderland. We ran out and played and took pictures of our small dogs fighting the snow drifts. It was all very fun and exciting….for a day.
But it didn’t stop. It snowed some more, then rained, then froze. Then trees and branches started falling. We watched in horror as a huge branch fell on my car and smashed out the back window. After the trees fell for several hours there was silence. And darkness. Darkness that lasted for seven days. Seven days without lights, hot water, TV and worst of all, the Internet.
We found ourselves delving into survival mode. Does the generator work? Do we need more gas? Can we get out of the driveway? How are the neighbors? Is my dad okay? Do we have enough food and water?
We survived the biggest snow and ice storm to hit our state in over 10 years and reflected on some some important life/communication lessons:
1) When things are going well in your life, that’s the best time to prepare for when they aren’t.
Talk about a plan. Find the generator. Tune it up. Read the instructions. Practice. Things will go better if you know what you are doing.
2) Band together and support each other.
We connected with neighbors we hadn’t seen in months. We checked on each other. We asked what we could do for each other. We shared melting ice cream. When one street got power and the next didn’t, we got offers of heat, showers and extension cords. We weren’t alone.
3) If someone offers help, accept it. And, if you need help, ask.
Don’t pretend you can handle everything on your own. There are times when we need each other and times when others need us. If someone offers a hot shower, take it.
4) Humor helps.
We found it was way more fun to find the humor in the crisis than dwell on the negative. We laughed about who could go the longest without a shower, about the dogs refusing to go out in the snow (they took care of business 2 feet from the door), and about the neighbor running into our mailbox because it was buried in snow.
5) Embrace the pace.
Having to slow down and deal with only one thing at a time seemed like a hassle at first, but we settled in to doing every thing a little slower than normal. We took our time because we had nowhere we had to be, nothing we had to do. We were reminded of how overly busy we usually are.
6) Be grateful for all you have.
When the lights returned, I was fascinated with the fact that when you flicked the light switch, the lights came on. Such a simple pleasure. And, oh how we take the simple things in life for granted. Thank God for all you have, every day.
7) Remember those less fortunate.
Struggling for a few days was an inconvenience, but some struggle to survive every day. Help and serve and give when you can.
8) Sometimes just getting through each day is enough.
We spent much of our time making sure we had heat, food and small comforts. We didn’t worry about our “to do” list or what we wanted to buy or have. We got back to basics and just lived each day. And that was okay.
Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home. She is also the director of Washington’s 529 Prepaid Tuition Program.To find out more about Cornerstone’s services and offerings visit:
For more communication tips and skills:
Join me on Facebook for daily communication tips, advice and challenges!