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Monday, September 11, 2017

How Can You Prepare for the Unknown?

Waiting and wondering seems to be the theme lately. Depending upon where you live, you wait and wonder about different challenges. In the northwest and far west, you wonder about wildfires. In Idaho and Mexico, you wonder about earthquakes. In the Houston area, you wonder about rebuilding and how you’ll recover from Hurricane Harvey. If you’re in the Caribbean or Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama, you wonder what Hurricane Irma will bring to you and/or those you love in its path. There are other challenges globally that affect millions of people. Some of them are natural disasters. Some of them are terrorist plans, or saber-rattling from countries threatening war. Others are actually engaged in war, sometimes with their own citizens.

No matter what the threat, we’re called upon to somehow, be ready. That isn’t always so easy to figure out. Do you leave your home? If so, where do you go? Are you facing something that your government will help you navigate? Or is that part of the problem?

For me, Hurricane Irma has grabbed my focus as I think about how to keep family members safe in Florida, especially my 94-year-old mother who doesn’t intend to leave The Villages in central Florida. Luckily, my brother and his son have gone down so that she won’t be alone. They are as ready as they can be. My sister and her husband in Gainesville, and my niece and her family (and their restaurant) in Gainesville have had to get as ready as they can, not being sure what Irma will be like by the time she gets to them. 

My colleagues and I who have a conference planned in the Atlanta area next week have to wait and wonder whether we can proceed or not. Irma is predicted to head north through Georgia, but we don’t know whether that will mean flooding, power outages, and/or closed roads. Actually, there have been some predictions that Irma will head north to Tennessee and bring rain, wind, and tornadoes to our area, or if it will be further west. 

Not knowing is one of the hardest things about getting ready. If you have a pretty good idea about what is likely to happen, it is easier to prepare for it. When there are a lot of unknowns, and when the timing isn’t clear, it makes it tough to prepare. 

When you don’t have the answers, you can only guess, and do what you can. For humans, anxiety tends to accompany the unknown. We worry about what will happen to us. We worry about what will happen to our communities. We worry about what will happen to those we care about. 

I find that the best way to deal with that anxiety is to do what you can to prepare. Plan for contingencies as best you can. Use your “what if” problem-solving abilities to have multiple plans and resources. Reach out to others who may not be as good at planning as you are. Remind them of what sorts of things need to be done. Ask questions to make sure they are as ready as they can be. Offer your assistance or a place to go if you can. If you have the capability to help others, reach out. If you hear of resources that may be helpful, pass them along. 

The waiting and wondering is always the hardest, I think. I always feel better when I’m taking active steps to plan or handle a situation. The waiting and wondering tends to shatter my focus. It’s funny. When I’m in a situation when I’m waiting and wondering about something I’m facing, it’s hard to understand that others may be just going through their daily life as usual. They may not be aware that your community is flooded; that your community is on fire; that you’re unable to escape a dangerous situation.

I guess we all live in our own bubble, where the things we’re facing are #1 on our list. Others may have their own catastrophes or difficult situations to deal with. Those are things we may know nothing about. They may be trying to rebuild from the last catastrophe. They may be burying a loved one. They may be fighting a terrible disease. They may have just lost their job, or no longer have a place to live. Their only transportation may have broken down for good. 

Whatever challenges you face, please be aware that there are others that are facing something different. No one has the corner of the market on the biggest disaster. We each have our individual perceptions and perspectives of what we face and how ready we are to cope with whatever hits us.
There’s a lot of pain around us these days. Whether you’re actively experiencing it or not, please be aware that there are those who are stretched beyond their limit. Give them a hand when you can. Help them in the ways that they were there to help you and yours when you were faced with pain and challenges. 

We survive bad situations best when we help each other. If you are experiencing bad times, reach out for help. If things are okay for you, reach out your hand to help others. If you need somebody to talk to about your experience, I’m here to listen, and if possible, to help you connect with the resources you need. You can contact me through email at Linda@InnerResourceCenter.com or call me at 865-983-7544. 

Good luck waiting and wondering!

P.S. This was written over the weekend, 
and today the remnants of Irma are supposed to begin to hit us with high tropical storm winds and heavy rain. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has closed roads and campsites in preparation. And, in order to be timely, and make sure this gets sent, I’m sending it on Monday this week, instead of Tuesday. Be well, whatever you are dealing with.

Warmest wishes,


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