A Small Step in a Fresh Direction

We’ve all experienced those times when the best laid plans in life fell apart. It’s okay to grieve and grouse, but then it’s time to take a small step in a fresh direction. It’s basically that or drink a lot of wine, give up or die. This post tells you which option I chose.

We all have dreams! As a dreamer, I have lots of dreams! Have you ever felt stressed when you know you should be feeling lucky and thankful? I’m referring to those moments when everything in your rational brain knows one thing to be true, while at the same time, another voice is grumbling inner sounds that resemble the famous mumbling teacher in every Charlie Brown television special?

Despite the fact that looking back at what might have been is unproductive – unless there’s a specific lesson to be learned to move forward – I feel a bit like a puppy chasing its tail as I reflect on the last year.

Winter in the Northwest can be a bit of a bear, and last year, Central Washington saw more snow (I hear) than in the last twenty years. I’ve only been back here for twelve. It was also colder than when I lived in Wisconsin! So this past spring, I decided last winter was my last winter in a cold climate, and I started applying for jobs in Arizona (where I have a solid network of friends), California (where I lived for six years), and Texas (where two of my best friends live.)

And then it happened. My best laid plans went up in smoke. Last month, my knee surgery was postponed, and the dream job, with the huge salary and benefits amazing enough to make a grown woman cry with joy fell through. I came in second. It’s mid-September now, and I should feel incredibly lucky – but instead I honestly feel a little bit (okay, a lot bit) like engaging in high levels of grousing.

I really shouldn’t be complaining. I mean, I am really lucky! I tore my meniscus on the job 18 months ago and I had a Washington state claims manager who fought for me to have my case reopened and receive a second opinion. He even warned me not to move out of state until I had my surgery because he feared I might not actually get it once I left Washington, and he wanted to see me healthy again. (WOW!) I was assigned an exceptional physician for my second opinion. I was accepted by the exact surgeon I wanted, despite the fact that he rarely accepts L&I. My long projected recovery is due to the fact that I have no arthritis in my knee and the surgeon will be able to stitch my injury up in such a way that will result in a perfect knee ten weeks from now. I am employed at a job where I make a difference to thousands of students and teachers. I have a roof over my head, basic needs met, family and friends, three pets I adore – the list goes on.

But the other side of the coin: I lost a dream job and dream house, with a hot tub for ten, in Phoenix. I haven’t even had my surgery yet and I’m looking at a recovery that includes crutches for six to eight weeks. It’s mid-September. And the thought of spending another winter here makes me want to cry.  But I don’t cry. I take a deep breath and murmur quietly to myself like the teacher in Charlie Brown specials. I watch hurricane aftermath coverage and read social media posts about people who are battling life-threatening illnesses and I feel worse. Because despite the fact that another year passed me by without my dreams materializing, I know that life truly could be so much worse.

And so I do the only things I can. I send out resumes, connect with former colleagues on LinkedIn, hug my pets, thank my loved ones for caring and pull out boxes of Christmas cards to start addressing. Because if I’m stuck in a full leg brace, in a cold climate for yet another winter, at least my holiday cards are going out on time this year. It’s not Phoenix, Los Angeles or Dallas, but it’s a small step in a fresh direction. And hopefully it will silence the disappointment and grumbling sounds in my head.

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Responding to Hurricane Harvey

As pictures pour in from the catastrophic conditions in Houston and Southeast Texas, naturally, the nation and the world want to help. It’s hard to hear the dire warnings and see the people who are “luckily” escaping with their lives and maybe a family pet or garbage bag of belongings. Thankfully, fellow Texans, emergency response teams, the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, and others, have called upon every resource available to help.

Perhaps like you, watching the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and the torrential rains that followed, leave me wondering how I can help from 2500 miles away. From a physical standpoint, the most needed resources are money (to legitimate charities), blood (to the American Red Cross), volunteer hours (if you are nearby) and of course goodwill and prayer. Here are a few organizations that are participating in hurricane relief efforts:

As a life coach, I’m also asking what I would have done if I had been in their shoes – or how I would have coached a client to prepare for a pending disaster, even before the warnings sounded.

Here’s one way to prepare yourself: Set aside two weekends to disaster-ready your life. The first weekend, create a drill whereby you (and/or your family) receive evacuation orders, assuming you will have nothing physically left when you return. What is most important? What will you need? How will you prioritize it? What is your game plan for evacuation? Make a physical list. Don’t worry if you can’t find something on it, just make a list of what you need / want.

The second weekend, pull together everything on your list. What important documents you will need? Are there photos or meaningful family items that you would be devastated to lose? Scan them, buy a jump drive and save them. Try to get as much of your life as you can on a jump drive or pulled together in a small safe or special place. Take pictures of items you will want to turn into the insurance company.

Earlier this year, my home was robbed. I was gone an hour and eight minutes. This summer, the region where I live was heavily impacted by fires and my sister’s property was within a mile of properties being evacuated. In 2015, my parents’ home caught fire. Crimes, accidents and natural disasters happen quickly. As a life coach, I help people prepare for the worst so that if it happens, they have the resources to recover the documents, memories, photos and other items they need and that mean the most to them.