Perfect storm: a weather pattern involving the collision of a northeaster, a large high pressure system, and unusually cold Canadian air pushing down plus moisture and warm air pushing up from a hurricane to the south to create a 'once-in-a-lifetime' storm. [dictionary.com] If you're like me, your eyes started to glaze over halfway through that definition. Words like "collision," "unusually cold," and "hurricane" are enough to send you diving under the covers. Different weather patterns coming from different directions having different climatic impacts hurts my brain.
Life for many of us these days feels like a perfect storm. The country is going through the toughest economic time since the Great Depression, unemployment is double digit, home foreclosures are through the roof, and health care is unaffordable for tens of millions of Americans. Toss in global warming, terrorism, and two wars, and the assault comes from many different directions.
Many of us have our personal perfect storms, too, but unfortunately without the star presence of George Clooney playing a lead role. My husband and I have the security of not getting laid off from our jobs because we are self-employed, but we both feel the impact of the economy through our clients. I've been spoiled for many years by not having to do a whole lot of marketing because my coaching practice did well through word of mouth. My reputation hasn't changed, but people's wallets have; I now find myself in the marketing trenches.
Medical costs are out of control and I am at a loss for why the Democrats haven't shoved through a health care reform bill that will actually reform health care. My family's yearly health care costs exceed the average American family income for four people. Imagine the national economic growth if families like mine could spend that money on goods and services instead of paying the mortgage on the second vacation home of some overpaid insurance executive. Do I sound angry? You betcha.
On a more positive note, perfect storms pass and become a memory, a story to retell to future generations. Just as my parents told me about their experience during the Great Depression and World War II (my father's dog tags hang from my desk lamp), we, who are swirling around in today's storm, will come out the other end with tales and lessons of our own. Perfect storms are tough, but so are we.
Already my family has made changes that I believe will serve us well in the future. I value and appreciate what I have more than ever. Some of what I used to think was imperative has moved down on my list of must haves or must dos. Ironically, I have gotten rid of more stuff from my house than ever before; in the wild, raging storm, I want as few objects to care for as possible. A couple of rooms in my house look positively sparse.
We all need to find our own life jacket, our own lifeline to ride out the perfect storm. We may bob around in the waters a bit, we may get tossed to and fro, but the storm will cease and we will still be here. Life post-storm doesn't merely resume from where we were in pre-storm days. It will never be the same, but it can actually be better. I will have fewer things but richer interactions. I may take fewer far flung trips but I will explore interesting areas closer to home. I'll likely dine out less and eat healthier meals at home.
That's my plan. What's yours?