THE CALM AFTER THE STORM
Ever lay awake at night and have an internal conversation?
Maybe it was everything that had been going on, or maybe it was the medium coffee at 4 p.m. that kept me awake.
It’s interesting to me how we break our lives up into spans of time, how we look back on certain periods and reflect. As I laid awake on an air mattress, next to my husband Tyler, in my brother’s house in another state I began to think over all the happenings of the last week. I thought about technology. I thought about time. I thought about life and nature, beauty and love, destiny, purpose, the power of God.
For some reason, I used to think that it was wise to spend my last waking moments of the day going over the plans for tomorrow. I thought that if I could anticipate what would happen and mentally prepare, that I would be ahead of the game. Instead of producing the peace that I anticipated, I was breeding stress, unneeded anxiety, and a feeling of helplessness.
Thankfully, I broke that habit and most days I wake up thankful for the one before and that I am alive to see another. I try to look at each day as a clean slate and I try to take each event as it comes and to accept the unexpected as gifts with purpose. In order to grow we must be stretched, growing often involves feeling uncomfortable. So the unexpected things happen for a reason, to help me become who I ultimately will be.
The internal conversation began with a recap of the last few days:
Friday the 26th: I asked my husband if he wanted to see a play that we had recently heard about. He didn’t really answer me, so I assumed that we weren’t going. After work, he said he had a surprise but wouldn’t tell me what it was. I was frustrated because I am a planner and I wanted to know what the surprise was, mainly because I wanted to know if I should shower and get ready or if I should proceed to pajama town. We got into a little tiff which literally ended in laughter because the whole thing was silly.
We got dressed, drove to a beautiful town, looked at some beautiful homes and attended the play. Unbeknownst to us, the play was a comedy about Nazis. We sat through 20 minutes of Holocaust jokes and we didn’t find them to be very funny. Both of my husbands grandfathers fought during the war and his great-uncle didn’t make it home. The play didn’t sit well with us, so we left.
Saturday the 27th: We signed up to bring food for our life group at church. We needed to run to the store to get a few things and realized that although we had two vehicles, neither of them were choosing to cooperate with us. Tyler spent an hour working on his jeep and finally got it to crank.
His parents came over for dinner and we shared ideas with them and new foods that we had recently found.
Sunday the 28th: The jeep wouldn’t start again. We called some sweet friends who gave us ride. We failed to bring food for our life group but it didn’t matter because apparently we never signed up in the first place. Someone else brought food, it wasn’t the end of the world.
That evening our neighbors came over for dinner. I had never met them before they rang the doorbell. I learned that there is still good in the world, people are kind, and that you can have a lot in common with total strangers.
A friend texted me that morning and said that she and her boyfriend would be coming to town and wanted to stop by. They joined our group for dinner and it was a pleasant surprise to see them, it had been over a year since our last rendezvous.
Monday the 29th: It was a typical Monday and there is nothing to report.
Tuesday the 30th: After working eight hours, I drove two and a half hours to the beach for work. Usually when I travel for my job, I don’t have time to do fun things and if by some miracle I do, I’m usually alone and paranoid about being kidnapped so I admire the beach from my room.
However, that night the sun was going down and it was alluring. I went down to the beach and put my feet in the sand. Most of my recent run-ins with nature involved the sense of seeing. That moment, the sense of feeling was much needed and much appreciated. It was a small thing but it did a lot for me.
Wednesday the 31st: I drove my first hybrid car. I was ten minutes late to a meeting because I couldn’t figure out the combination of commands and had to consult the manual. “Press the start button firmly, hold it down, but not for too long, wait for the beep, keep your foot on the break, push the park button, are you waiting for the beep.”
Thursday the 1st: I had heard that a hurricane was coming but I didn’t really think much about it. At noon we closed the office and Tyler and I headed out to get sandbags. We waited in line for an hour. After that we went to the grocery store, it was chaos. We came home, secured everything outside and then began to prepare for the power to go out.
Friday the 2nd: I didn’t have much trouble sleeping. I was lucky. People in our neighborhood had trees break through their roofs. A co-worker had a tree enter their roof right over her bed, thankfully they had decided to sleep in the living room. Tyler and I drove around to survey the aftermath. There were power lines snapped and hanging in our driveway, roads were blocked, trees were everywhere. One of our trees knocked down a neighbor’s tree which took out a power line.
By 4:00 p.m., our faces were sweating and thankfully my in-law’s power had come back on. We packed up our bags, our dogs, and our food and headed their way.
We watched The Old Man And The Sea and I thought of the Rolling Stones song, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
Saturday the 3rd: My mom, sister and nephew met Tyler and I and we all drove to to South Carolina to visit one of my brothers.
Sunday the 4th: We all got up early to see the view from Ceasars Head State Park. The fog was still in the tops of the mountains and it was breathtaking. We hiked to Triple Falls and through the heat, the sweat, the blisters, the uphill battle we emerged at the top of the mountain and were rewarded for our troubles with the sight of pristine waterfalls.
That night I laid in bed thinking about all of those things. I thought about how crazy it is that you can experience so many different events and feelings in such a short amount of time, how you can see such beauty and such destruction in the same week. I thought about our humanity. How lucky we are to have the technology to be able to travel to the ocean and the mountain, how thankful I am for my health, to be alive, for my family, to have come out of the storm.
I realized that the last time I visited my brother, I had made a decision that would ultimately lead me to meet my husband. I remembered that moment, how real the memory was. I remembered wondering if I would ever get married, I wondered what my husband would be like. It was precious to make that connection as he slept next to me. I was returning to the same place where my journey to marriage had begun. I was returning with the husband that I had hoped for. He is the tangible answer to prayer. It was the closing of a circle. In that moment, I thanked God, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, and I held on to my sweet husband as he was sound asleep.
When Heather was five her parents asked her what she wanted for Christmas, she replied matter-of-factly “a white, faux fur coat.” Her mother didn’t have one, neither did any of the other girls in her Kindergarten class, where this desire came from no one knew. Her parents learned two things: style is inborn and this girl knows exactly what she wants.
Years later she started a blog entitled “Miss Priss 101.” “Miss Priss” was a term she had been called by someone with a negative tone in their voice, she embraced what was supposed to be an insult, turned that negative into a positive and soon after was given her own column in a local newspaper.
She currently works full time in public affairs while mothering three poodles. She is a former mentor with Take Stock in Children.
“The idea of The Renaissance Woman” came to me after a lifetime of culminating events. I’ve met so many extraordinary women who juggle so many things at once. We have things to learn from each other, we should help one another instead of always viewing everyone as competition.”