Savoring in the Face of Disaster

May 4, 2011

I am privileged to create a home on the web for an extraordinary mix of about 400 super-duper smart, compassionate, engaged, insightful women, a number of whom live in the South, where tornadoes ripped lives apart last week.

Nay Nay is one of those amazing women. She lives in Alabama. She volunteers as a set designer for her local children’s theater after work and on the weekends. She checked in with us yesterday.  Her home and business have been out of power since the storm.

We ‘made lemonade’ and went to the beach. It our first extended family ‘vacation’ (someone termed it an evacu-cation!) since my brother and I were children. I remember long discussions here at the Cafe about visiting family during holidays – how hard it can be – so I was anxious to see how this evacu-cation would go.

I am happy to report that we had a great time! It was very meaningful for us to be together. We piled 8 people in a cottage that slept 6. Funny how perspective helps, being squeezed into a cottage at the beach doesn’t seem so bad considering! We returned home yesterday our personal power restored from the resting and relaxing.

I am still processing all that has happened. I have some survivor guilt. The savoring and serving that we are studying here really helped me. I believe that what I need to do to serve in this situation will become apparent. So far, the most important thing for me is the play I’m committed to. Part of me says, “That sounds so shallow!” yet deep down, I know I’m serving from my strengths. Hopefully, people will feel nourished by an evening of entertainment. The play is a comedy and I know laughter is powerful medicine.

Nay Nay, thank you. I learned so much from what you shared, like:

Allowing yourself to rest and be filled up

versus indulging in “Who I am to be safe when others are homeless and grieving?” and not allowing the beauty of what is here to heal you

Practicing honest gratitude

versus forcing yourself to like being with your family (and it’s so great you did – bonus!)

Serving from your strengths

versus rushing out to do what you think you should do

Questioning the mean voices that say, “You are shallow”

versus letting them run the show (Mean voices are never helpful in their undiluted state. Be in dialogue but never to be ruled by their fears.)

Grounding yourself in what you know (which means you’ve been taking care of yourself and have skills to draw on)

versus flying into freak out, drama and hand-wringing

These are good ground rules to remember.

What do you do in the face of disruption and tragedy – locally? Internationally? Let’s start building strategies that are humane, self-loving and sustainable, together.

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