Weathering The Storm
By: Lara Scriba
(4 min read)
Spring is emerging, yet the sun struggles to make its way from behind the clouds, and I yearn for a temperature that will allow me to wear a t-shirt and feel the sun on my skin. Instead, the wind blows, gently rocking the boat, and I stay nestled in my down jacket.
I see tourists hopping off the cruise ships in their tank tops and flowy colorful dresses first thing in the morning. The insistent pace of their walk and the determination in their eyes that the sun will soon arrive is admirable. The scene swiftly changes once the winds pick up and the cloud cover rolls in. A few hours later, the same tourists are now walking down the Malecon, wrapped tightly in their newly purchased Mexican blankets, margaritas in hand, warming themselves inside and out.
I found myself chuckling. I had recently been fawning over a gorgeous flowy dress in one of the storefronts, daydreaming of hot beachy days. But quickly, the gears shifted. I simultaneously zipped up my down jacket a little bit tighter as the wind picked up, bringing to mind a favorite quote.
“There is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”
Living on the water, we are constantly checking the weather and packing multiple layers of clothes with us whenever we head out the door. A vigilance and ability to acclimate to the details of the day, something that comes innately in sailing. Unfortunately, a skill that I realized was sorely lacking when it came to the emotional environment of our crew.
Reaching the end of the school year, morale is low, and let’s just say the clouds are rolling in and, in more ways, than one. A storm is a-brewin’. Frustration has been building, patience has dwindled, and our previous abundant sparks of creativity are simply sputtering.
Our conditions were less than optimal, and that quote rolled around in my head repeatedly for days, knowing it was a clue but struggling with what message was being sent. I knew a margarita and a Mexican blanket weren’t the answer; believe me, I tried.
Bundled up, and an hour into my morning walk, it finally hit me! The weather analogy reminded me of when my son was younger, I used to teach yoga weekly for his little 1st-grade class. One of their favorite parts was when we would start by going around the class, and everyone would give their personal “weather report.” We had a little board that said: “sunny, cloudy, rainy, stormy.” Each student had a chance to share their current weather status and either share a word, feeling, or circumstance of why they chose it and what that meant to them. We would fill the board with their shares.
It was such a beautiful way to start the day and our time together as it informed me of where everyone was that day emotionally and taught the kids to also build their own awareness of what was happening within their bodies. We’d spend time talking about how we could not only take care of ourselves in these different states but how we could also help each other out. Those who were feeling sunny could choose to share their light that day with those who were having a harder day. Those who felt like they were struggling could suggest ways they could be supported or could modify their day to support themselves.
A simple concept that allowed not only a sense of agency in how one could tend to one’s self but also allowed a sense of cohesion within the group. Building emotional intelligence, interoceptive awareness, compassion, and empathy for themselves and one another.
Cultivating a sense of connection, community, and a sense of purpose are a few of the vital elements needed for emotional health and resilience.
This brought me to how as adults, we build in practices to do the same thing essentially. Whether through meditation, journaling, music, or movement, we find ways to tap into our daily inner forecast, allowing us to plan accordingly and allowing us to modify our plans, activities, types of movement, rest schedules, food choices, and connections to make the best of what could be a challenging day. “Dressing” ourselves appropriately to suit the weather and providing comfort for us during times of distress, knowing when to ask for help, or simply celebrating the sensation of the warm sun on our skin.
We check the weather daily before we head out for the day. Can we allow ourselves to do a quick self-forecast for ourselves? Shifting our mindset from “good or bad” feelings or states to simply allowing awareness of what is and then “dressing” accordingly?
So often, I find myself holding unrealistic expectations of myself and others, leading to disappointment and frustration. But when I allow the expectations to fall away and tend to the situation at hand, circumstances transform. The possibility emerges miraculously when shame, blame, resistance, and avoidance are released.
In our lives, there are so many moving parts, and I write this as a way to remind myself of the importance of checking in daily. To tie the habit of checking the weather outside in the mornings, remember to also check in with myself and those around me. A few quick moments to share, connect and plan so that we can make the most of things. The curriculum will eventually get completed, but checking in before we create a daily plan of attack. Allowing plans to shift to suit the situation at hand rather than lamenting about how we wish it were or insisting we stick to a specific schedule or mode of learning and looking for windows of opportunity to support ourselves and one another as we weather the storms together.