Nature’s Surprises

September 2011

This month I’ve been thinking about my theme for 2011, which as you may recall is “Opportunities and Experiences.” One entirely new experience for me just last week was an earthquake. The 5.8 magnitude quake hit while I was outside taking a walk with Harley (my cockapoo). We were standing in the park near my home when I suddenly felt dizzy. After a few seconds, I realized the ground was rolling beneath my feet. My heart was pounding in fear; the undulating earth and dull rumbling lasted about 15 seconds but it seemed much longer. There was no warning, and although I felt very tiny and helpless, I was in awe of the force beneath my feet. My fear turned to fascination.

Another opportunity to be reminded of Nature’s power presented itself this weekend in the form of Hurricane Irene. Unlike the earthquake, where I had no prior experience to draw on, Irene snapped me back to 2003 when a hurricane named Isabel destroyed our home. Memories of the devastation and loss from that disaster came flooding back as we watched Irene’s steady crawl up the east coast. We spent all day Friday filling and positioning sandbags (my resident Boy Scout had 1,000 on hand for just such an occasion); tying down lawn furniture; carrying things to higher levels from our downstairs living areas; and stocking up on batteries, food and fuel. But that was light work compared to the constant battle with the fear (not helped by the Weather Channel’s dire predictions of havoc and storm surges and destruction of coastal areas). So, as we hustled to do the outside work, I was also doing a lot of “interior” work. It came down to doing our best to prepare, recognizing what I could and could not control, and not letting fear overtake me. We remembered lessons learned from Isabel, and thought ahead to prevent as much damage as possible to our home and property.

Work is often like these two experiences. Sometimes new problems we cannot expect suddenly present themselves, and we must decide how to handle them in the moment. We can view such times as opportunities to learn and see problems with a new lens. And often work situations trigger old thought habits, fears, and memories. In those times, we must work through our feelings and thinking in order to face what is before us. We can draw on the insights from our past, while using present resources and future thinking to deal with the challenge. Sometimes we just show up and do our best. If I can support you in that work, please let me know. Meanwhile, I hope that the remaining days of summer are without any more surprises from Nature.

Warm regards,

Sharon Keys Seal

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