The Calm DURING the Storm

There is a lot of tension in our country lately. While Houston hasn’t even begun to recover from the devastation left by Hurricane Harvey, Floridians (and others) are trying to figure out what we need to prepare for Hurricane Irma. Hurricanes are stressful for everyone and considering many people are either living below the poverty level, are unemployed, disabled, don’t have a savings and are otherwise having difficult time mentally or financially, a hurricane can cause extremely unhealthy levels of anxiety and stress. Many of us don’t have the money it would take for gas and shelter to leave the areas we need to evacuate from.

I didn’t write that to make you feel even more stressed but, rather, to put things in perspective and ask you to approach one another with compassion as we prepare for this storm. If you are able, reach out to a neighbor and make sure they don’t need a ride to the grocery store or some help bringing plants or yard furniture inside to a safer place. Surely at this time we will need one another to be the calm DURING the storm.

I wanted to remind everyone of a few simple grounding/calming techniques. If you attended our July support group at The Jacksonville Women’s Center you’ll remember we made “Grounding Boxes” and filled them up with items to engage our senses and help us re-focus and stay grounded.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Find the Rainbow: name objects of each color of the rainbow that are around you. Do this until you feel yourself relaxing.

2. Five Senses of 54321: Name 5 things you can see right now (a lamp, the view out of your window, etc.), name 4 things you can feel or touch right now (your clothing, a pencil, your desk, couch, etc.) name 3 things you can hear right now (the hum of the AC, birds, music), name 2 things you can smell now (pine trees, the fabric softener from your clothing, your stinky beloved pet, etc.), name 1 thing you can taste (a mint, piece of candy or gum)

3. Describe your environment: Look around and describe what you are seeing, without judgement, just observation. Describe objects, numbers of things, colors and shapes.

4. Repeat safety information to yourself. For example: I am in my room and today is September 6. I am safe right now. I am in the present. I can take care of myself and this feeling will pass. I have what I need in this moment.

5. Use a strong sensation to help you focus on the moment. Example: Push your palms together, pinch the skin between your thumb and pointer finger, suck on sour candy or a strong mint, put an icecube on the inside of your wrist or face. It can also help to take a cool or warm shower or bath.

6. Make your own “Grounding Box” and fill it with the things you love. Things that calm you and can help engage your senses. Some examples of what to place inside your box: essential oils, lotion, mints, candy, textures you love (playdough (bonus because it smells!), rocks or something you can twirl), photos that make you feel calm-and anything else you can think of!
Pray, don’t find fault with the man that limps,
Or stumbles along the road.
Unless you have worn the moccasins he wears,
Or stumbled beneath the same load.

There may be tears in his soles that hurt
Though hidden away from view.
The burden he bears placed on your back
May cause you to stumble and fall, too.

Don’t sneer at the man who is down today
Unless you have felt the same blow
That caused his fall or felt the shame
That only the fallen know.

You may be strong, but still the blows
That were his, unknown to you in the same way,
May cause you to stagger and fall, too.

Don’t be too harsh with the man that sins.
Or pelt him with words, or stone, or disdain.
Unless you are sure you have no sins of your own,
And it’s only wisdom and love that your heart contains.

For you know if the tempter’s voice
Should whisper as soft to you,
As it did to him when he went astray,
It might cause you to falter, too.

Just walk a mile in his moccasins
Before you abuse, criticize and accuse.
If just for one hour, you could find a way
To see through his eyes, instead of your own muse.

I believe  you’d be surprised to see
That you’ve been blind and narrow minded, even unkind.
There are people on reservations and in the ghettos
Who have so little hope, and too much worry on their minds.

Brother, there but for the grace of God go you and I.
Just for a moment, slip into his mind and traditions
And see the world through his spirit and eyes
Before you cast a stone or falsely judge his conditions.

Remember to walk a mile in his moccasins
And remember the lessons of humanity taught to you by your elders.
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave
In other people’s lives, our kindnesses and generosity.

Take the time to walk a mile in his moccasins.

 ~ Mary T. Lathrap in 1895. The original title was Judge Softly.

The calm DURING the storm. You got this.

~ Carmen