Tag Archives: snow

A Lesson in Resilience

cherry tree resilienceOne of my brothers still lives on Cape Cod, the place where my 5 siblings and I grew up. This is noteworthy for two reasons – first, he is a scenic photographer – he captures amazing shots of nature; second, Cape Cod and New England has had snowstorm after snowstorm this winter. This has created one of his latest works – the amazing flowering cherry tree in his front yard in each of the four seasons. Amazing flowers in spring, great dense green leaves in summer, amazing fiery reds and orange foliage in fall and the bare brown trunk blanketed under epic snow in winter. This bold tree is resilient; it shows up powerfully in each season. It inspires my intention to be more resilient.

The lesson from the cherry tree is that we too are capable of shining no matter what happens. We are resilient to handle the seasons – and by seasons I mean the constant changes in our lives. We meet sunny days where things are going our way – we flower, we shine. We meet stormy days that seem unfair, unrelenting and scary. When we are intentional and determined about connecting to our inner greatness and strength – to the power deep in us – we find we have access to amazing resilience. This helps us show up strong and committed to life, regardless what comes our way.

It still amazes me that this tree can survive in temperatures from minus 10 to nearly 100 degrees. It stands there and faces what comes, doing what it does best – living its truest self. It doesn’t lament the rains or wind. It doesn’t give up when it snows. It doesn’t wish that its leaves would remain all year – it allows them to change color and sends them off to make room for new ones. It partners with life; it allows life.

We however, like to plan and control everything in life. And when things don’t go according to plan, we find fault. We get angry. We blame. We quit. We feel at the affect of our world – at odds with it.

Or, we could learn from this cherry tree. We could see that we have the strength and resilience to see the blessing in every event, and not to fight with life but live it as it is delivered. “Anyone can be cooperative, patient and understanding when things are going well and life is good. But it is the noble man or woman who can behave with grace and compassion, and even kindness, when times are bad,” shares Garr Reynolds, blogger of Presentation Zen. My intention is to be noble and act with grace, compassion and kindness regardless of what happens in life.

Resilience, or grit, is what enables us to show up committed to life when life sends snowstorm after snowstorm. Resilience is what enables us to show up big to life when our idea didn’t work, the relationship failed, or the job was lost. As the great Japanese proverb says, “Fall down seven times, get up eight.” We can choose to bounce back – we can choose to see what was, understand it, learn from it and get back into life’s driver’s seat. We, like the flowering cherry in my brother’s front yard, can just keep on keepin’ on. Resilient. Strong. Committed. Determined. Intentional. Living our greatness and ready for the next moment of life – whatever that might look like.

Find your resilience role model – nature, a pet or even a person. Mine is this amazing cherry tree. Let it share its wisdom with you; learn from it and let it inspire you to be intentional and purposeful about living powerfully, positively and resiliently no matter what comes your way.

Managing the Chill Mindfully

Screen shot 2013-12-17 at 4.31.33 PMClose that door, it’s freezing out! has been the most often heard command in my house this week.  It has edged out, No candy canes before dinner!, Don’t throw ice at your sister!, and even the recurrent Put-on-your-snow-boots-we’re-gonna-be-late!!!!!

Welcome to winter in New England – five plus months of chattering teeth and cracked lips, drippy noses and numb fingertips.  The cold here is called biting for a good reason.  The wind has teeth and its nips can hurt.

This morning I took a quick drive downtown to run errands, nestled cozily in my car’s seat warmers.  I parallel parked and pushed the door open, gasping as a frigid shock of air flooded the driver’s seat.  Heaving myself carefully onto the slippery pavement, I skated to the curb, searching out salty spots to plant my feet.

Making my way to the bank, I skidded over the brick sidewalk, involuntarily tightening my lower back muscles with a shiver and tremble, reflexively recoiling from the cold, adjusting my balance to stay upright while defending a blast of wind.  I hustled into the bank and scuffed the salt off my boots, relishing a few minutes of warm reprieve before heading back into the bluster.

As I walked out the door and stiffened immediately, I realized I was fully engaged in an internal battle against the cold – clenching my body so much my back felt achy.  The discomfort triggered my mindfulness practice.  I don’t need this discomfort.  It’s only here to tell me something.  And I’m listening carefully to what it’s saying. 

I took a deep breath, inhaling frigid air into my warm lungs, releasing it as steam through my mouth.  Warm steam.  I could produce warmth.  I relaxed my tense muscles and took a few steps, continuing to walk that way until I noticed my lower back aching and mindfully melted the contraction again.  Thich Nhat Hanh would’ve been so proud of me.

This time I envisioned warm blood flowing freely through my body, heating up my skin and keeping my muscles loose.  Cold isn’t bad.  It’s just another way of being.  Be comfortable, I thought over and over.  I considered my young children who dive into the snow hatless and spend hours digging out forts from the plowed white heaps along the driveway.  Why is it they don’t seem to battle the freezing cold like adults do?  Maybe it’s because joy trumps discomfort.  They’re not surviving the storm; they’re reveling in it.

I walked with this thought for a block or so, doing my best to fill up on joy, when another blast of wind surged, stopping me in my tracks.  My head lowered, my watery eyes squeezed shut, my hands plunged deeper into my coat pockets.  Be one with cold, be joyful in the cold, I urged myself, this time out loud.  I looked up and caught the eye of another soul braving the single digit temps.  “Brace yourself,” he warned.  “The Almanac calls for a harsh winter.”  I smiled and tried to feel thankful for all of the opportunities I’ll have to practice mindful freezing this year.

I climbed back into my car, the radio tuned to Christmas music.  “I really can’t stay…  Baby, it’s cold outside.”  You can say that again.

Wool, Wood, Water and Warm: 4 Elements You Need in an Emergency

The lights went out with a thud as the wires were pulled out of the house when an ice-laden tree fell on the line. All night long in the ice storm that hit here in the northeast last week, I heard branches and trees crashing in the woods. It would be the start of four days without power.

I stoked up the wood stove and kept it burning the whole time. My life was focused on getting trees out of the road, drying wood, and staying warm.

Huddled under the comforter on the couch by the stove at night, I realized that my lifestyle has increasingly removed me from old-fashioned know-how. It was too late before it dawned on me that I could put all the food in the freezer outside on the back porch to keep it frozen. It was too late to go back and ask the wood stove salesman a few more questions before buying a "convection" stove (it couldn’t keep the home above 50°F when the temperature outside was in the teens). It was too late to store water in the basement.  What know-how I had came from my parents, who taught me much about woodstove fire safety (more on that below).

Earth, fire, water, and air. Here’s how I was reminded that it behooves to pay attention to these elements as part of emergency preparedness:

Earth: The wonders of wool

It was always wool that kept me warm. Anytime I strayed from it I was cold. One wonders if this is because it handles moisture so well, absorbing 50 percent of its weight in water without dripping and 30 percent without feeling damp. I slept in my wool slippers.  My wool comforter kept me warm every night, even waking up to a house at 47°F. My outdoor boots that are wool-lined kept my sensitive feet (they got frost-bitten some time ago) warm; the others I have didn’t.  My wool sweaters were my uniform, as other fabrics left me chilled. Wool is incredible; no home should be without it. A lot of it.

Fire: The dangers of wood

Generating heat with wood or petroleum is dangerous and requires know-how. Case in point: My parents taught me that when clearing out the embers, you shouldn’t put them outside for at least 24 hours, as the wind could pick them up and start a fire. I was grateful for that wisdom as I had to clear out the stove on day two of the outage. If you have children, help them think things through about fire so that they know how to be safe in an emergency. And investigate  solar energy; it makes total sense for safety.

Water: The waste of flushing

I was astonished that it took a full two gallons of water to flush the toilet. I knew it somewhere in the recesses of my mind, but the reality of the waste hadn’t sunk in.  Sorry, but I am now and forever implementing "if it is yellow it’s mellow, if it’s brown it goes down."  I don’t want the wasting of that many gallons of water on my head. Read up on this and other ways to conserve.

Air: The worries of warming it

Keeping indoor air clean
and healthy is an everyday priority, and during a power outage even more so. Many died from carbon monoxide poisoning in the aftermath of this storm because they tried to stay warm using kerosene, their gas stove, or a generator that wasn’t vented properly (and one family died because the vented fumes went into the house via the soffits).  Candles — especially scented candles — cause a lot of soot and indoor pollution, too. Try  candles made with beeswax, which is a natural air purifier. (Note that emergency officials recommend against candle use during power outages for fear of fire.)

Gaiam Life – Your Guide to Healthy, Green Living


Read more of Annie Bond’s posts on Gaiam’s ‘Stream of Consciousness’ blog.

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