Woke up, looked at my to do list before the sun rose—another full day planned. Take kids to school, teach a client, meeting across town, skating lessons after school, and dinner at friends. Okay, deep breath, I feel the stress building but I know I can do this as long as I stay on schedule. As I begin to settle into my morning yoga practice, the phone ring cuts through the calm morning air like a sharpened blade. I hear those five words that will change the day and raise my stress level: “Schools cancelled due to storm”.
The problem isn’t the snow storm. Or even the cancellations due to the storm. But, when the storm on the outside creates an inner storm in our minds, then we really have the makings for the “perfect storm,” –an internal maelstrom where we are supremely challenged to find peace in this blanket of white. So, how do we keep it real and keep it calm during the inevitable upheaval of this day?
Keeping it real demands that we take a good look at all the expectations that were dashed due to the storm’s cancellations—from all the activities that are postponed or forgone, to the visceral feeling that the rhythm of our week is disrupted. When I acknowledge whatever the loss is, then I feel grounded in reality. And then I can see the possibility of finding the gift that might be lurking, right here, in between the dancing snowflakes.
To even consider that there might be a gift in this day of cancellations, I have to “let go”—let go of my expectations, let go of the fear that what I had planned to accomplish today isn’t going to happen. This is not easy for a Type A personality like me! So, I breathe in. I breathe out.
Letting go feels counterintuitive, and maybe even counterproductive. But, what prevents me from dropping into the present is our old buddy, Fear. Fear that it won’t get done, fear that things won’t work out for the best, fear that something is wrong with the situation, wrong with us. So, I feel the fear and all the resistance to the fear. Breathing in and breathing out, I become aware that avoiding fear is a habitual pattern—whether the fear is about the storm today, or about the next economic crisis, or about my kids getting sick. Avoiding and resisting the fear is like resisting life. The very life that is here for me now, the life with the sink full of dishes, laundry piled high, the children running wild on a hot- chocolate high. This same life is the one that has a vibrant pulse, one that offers me a moment to reflect and to appreciate what is present. And to find the gift of being available to this moment.
What will this day hold? Maybe the gift is to slow down, to organize the bedside table, to get out there and have a good old snow ball fight. The only way I’ll find out is to be available to this moment, to let it melt. Yes, the snow will melt. And if I can help the resistance to the fear melt, even just a little bit today, then it is a successful day. I might even learn how to pack a tight snow ball– Who knows? Better duck!