When the post on The Sun Always Shines After The Storm was published, some of the readers emailed me with comments that touched me deeply and inspired me.
I thought to myself … Wouldn’t it be great if I wrote a follow-up post that included other people’s thoughtful insights and wisdom on the ways storms define us?
At the same time, I happened to come upon and watch “An Evening with Patti Smith” that took place at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, FL. Something that Patti Smith mentioned about her experience with grief and loss made me search for an interview she had given many years ago.
Here is a quote from that interview:
Sometimes in your life voyage, the waters are very calm and steady, then all of a sudden a storm whips up and it’s turbulent and you have to get through that storm and just keep on. Even though it’s a simple metaphor, life is really like that. You have to be ready to embrace it all.– Patti Smith, Singer-Songwriter, Musician, Author, Poet
I took that as a sign to continue with the guest post on The Storms That Define Us.
I went ahead and reached out to a handful of people. I have known all of them for a long time; I respect their perspective and wisdom. They have seen their fair share of storms.
I asked if they could write a short paragraph on what got them through the storms of their lives and what they have learned about themselves while navigating these storms.
I am deeply grateful to Kathy, Marci, and Linda for accepting the invitation to share their experience and insights with us.
Here is what they wrote:
The Only Way Out Is Through
During one of the worst times of my life, I learned to let go of trying to control the uncontrollable. This didn’t happen overnight, by any means. I believed that if I didn’t “steer the ship” – take care of my young sons and where we needed to be – we would crash. And that did happen, only what crashed was me. I had no more mental or emotional strength to be strong. I needed help.
I found that by opening myself up to receiving help, help appeared, often in ways and from people I never expected. I learned that the strongest and bravest people are those who are willing to face the darkness and go through that scary tunnel of pain – not alone but with help. “The only way out is through” became my mantra. By “going through,” I walked into light, and joy again. Letting go saved my life.
– Marci Diehl, Writer and Editor
You Have To Uncover The Hidden Damage And Deal With It
During Hurricane Sandy, we had to evacuate our home. Ten inches of water flowed through the main level of the house. When we returned to the house, the water had subsided, but in the aftermath were important lessons on weathering a storm.
Storms do damage that is not always obvious to the naked eye. Walls, cabinets, and appliances harbored hidden damage. I learned that you need to gradually uncover the spots that have been affected and deal with them. A storm is much bigger than one person can handle. Neighbors came and lugged soaked rugs outside. Friends offered assistance to clean out the aquarium scented abode. My fiercely independent self learned to be open to help and to ask for help when tasks were overwhelming.
The human spirit is amazingly resilient. Sandy was devastating, and yet we were able to recover. In hindsight, the storm shook us out of our complacency and let us reimagine and remodel the space we call home.
Retired Teacher, Active Learner
Storms Rarely Go As Planned But We Learn From Them
There are actual ‘nature’ storms and other types of life’s storms accompanied by dark clouds. Both kinds involve preparation, navigation, and the aftermath. When I prepare for life’s storms, I gather my supplies and resources. They can include physical objects, other people, or preparing emotionally for what’s about to happen. Assuming the storm comes, there is the navigation phase. It’s a time to be grateful for the resources I’ve gathered and use them as fully as possible.
Do storms ever go as planned? Rarely. When the clouds dissipate and the sun shines brightly, I exhale deeply in the aftermath. Hopefully, I have grown, learned a lot, and, most importantly, survived. My resilience is visible, and I am changed. I might also be damaged. But it’s those scars that hopefully make me more compassionate, understanding, and brave for when the next storm arrives.
As I read what these strong women wrote, I can see the common themes of courage, resilience, lessons learned, and the willingness to ask for help emerge as components to navigating storms successfully.
True, storms rarely go as planned, but we can learn with each passing storm. And, yes, when powerful storms hit, some of the damage they cause will be hidden from plain view. We will deal with the obvious and do our best to repair and restore.
Eventually, we have to pull back the layers and uncover the hidden damage, which, if left unattended, will cause us even more pain. We can pace ourselves, but we need to deal with it.
At some point, we realize that asking for help does not make us weaker. On the contrary, it makes us stronger and grateful.
Ultimately, the only way out of a storm is through it. We can try to outrun and even hide from them, but some storms are ours to travel through. They are our hero’s journey, and when we look back at them, although they still speak of loss and grief, they remind us of our strength and resilience.
What came up for you as you read through the post? How have the storms of your life defined you?