The Calm Before the Storm

It is a sunny crisp morning–a stark contrast from the past few days of rain, heavy winds, and awful humidity. I sip my coffee and gaze at the six unopened gallons of water sitting on the counter next to several packages of flashlight batteries and two boxes of candles—hurricane supplies that the radio and television commentators insisted we have on hand as the Category 4 Earl was hurling directly toward Cape Cod.

Never being one to fret over the weather and in fact being quite the opposite—relishing a good storm for the drama of it– I protested when my husband went to the store to stock up. As a person mildly suspicious of the media, I had long since believed that on air weathermen churned up their stories just to get the viewing audience to stay tuned. After all, the more viewers the larger the advertising revenue.

So I awaited the storm going about my daily routine while those around me literally spent days battening down the hatches—boarding up windows, testing generators, filling their grocery carts to the brim as they worried, watched and waited for the onslaught that never came. No doubt we live in a fear based culture buying into what “big brother” is selling at the moment. Although no one truly knew the magnitude of Earl’s wrath, the hype became so massive that it paralyzed most.  Few were taking the time to remember the ocean always has the final say—as does the wind and soaring temperatures.

Someone once told me that the definition of FEAR boils down to FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL. How much time is wasted dreading what might happen rather than living with what is actually happening?

It occurred to me that the real storms of life offer no time to prepare– they just come and we are made to embrace them– such storms as illness, death, loss of relationship, to name a few. We live through the ordeal using past trauma’s as our guide and are simply made to be IN the hardship, pain and grief until it runs it’s course. Unexpected is the way of life. We have few options but to heed Robert Frost’s advice when he said: “The way out is through.”

Take precautions, yes, but then meet the challenge. If we pay attention where Mother Nature is concerned we will be gifted with small secrets and large lessons. Accept the mystery as a catalyst for change. The unexpected makes everything new and fresh so that there is a calm not only before but after the storm.

31 thoughts on “The Calm Before the Storm

  1. Hi Joan – Thank you for starting this blog! I’ve read all your books and love reading about your thoughts and ideas. You’ve been a huge help through some very tough times of my own and I really appreciate your words. Many thanks to you!

  2. I’d like to thank you for the efforts you have made writing this post. You have been enlightening for me. I’ve forwarded this to a friend of mine.

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  4. I would like to thank you for the time you took in writing this post. You have been enlightening for me. I’ve passed this on to one of my friends.

  5. Hi Joan, I’m looking forward to the Online Retreat you have promised. I’d love to be able to come to one of your U.S. retreats. I’d love to meet you. I’ve read all four of your books and enjoyed them all–especially the first three. They really spoke to me at a particularly difficult time in my life. The way you express yourself on paper is wonderful, Joan. Whether it be in your books, or in your news letters, I feel you are talking one-on-one with me. I’m sure you are just as approachable in person. Thanks for sharing, Joan. I don’t think you realize what a blessing you are. Lilian

  6. Joan,
    Thank you your insights and reminding passages from Joan E. I have read all of your books and thank you for pushing the boundries we create, taking to the adventure side of life, reaching inside for that which lies deep, and for helping so many align their energies. I have gained so much from you and treasure knowing I have so much to come.
    I am so very glad the storm turned away and all are safe.

  7. You always have such beautiful words arranged in a manner that is quite unique and uplifting. I enjoy your blogs (and have read all your books) as you are indeed a gifted writer, so please do keep on writing. I especially liked your blog about “self-esteem” which reminds me of statement made by a local psychiatrist (my employer at the time), who was also a personal friend of Eric Erikson, the psychiatrist. when my employer said, “I will never allow anyone to work for me who does not possess “dignity.” I thought it a bit strange to make a statement of that magnitude, until I realized he was absolutely right. I believe Dignity and Self-esteem are one and the same, because it would be hard to have one without the other. Each person possesses unique qualities, and must be aware of and be proud of their own worthiness, and deserved
    respect, but one must first respect themselves, thus allowing others to recognize this quality.

    I always get something meaningful out of your blogs and your writings, so keep them coming.

  8. Your work surely doesn’t miss out in relaying useful information to readers. Nothing is superior than learning something new from reading. Thank you for communicating your knowledge with us.

  9. Hi Joan, I hope you are well and write a new blog soon to tell us about the trip to Scotland you took in early October. Have a great weekend and enjoy the beautiful Fall. It’s really pretty here in Ohio. Joyce

  10. Any chance Joan will plan another retreat in the state of Washington or Oregon. I just couldn’t arrange my schedule last April for her visit.


    Lenna Mulka

  11. Dear Joan,
    I too want to thank you for blogging. I await each feed eagerly as finding your books led me through a stormy time with my husband after we lost our business in the difficult economy. I will hang on to your words about staying calm through a storm as I am now riding out a very difficult relationship with a new daughter in law when I should be relishing the time with my first grand daughter. We don’t always have warning of theses stormy events in our life and your words of encouragement stay with me and will help me through. I too am hoping to attend a retreat very soon. Please keep writing and sharing your thoughts and wisdom

  12. So painful but so good to know that ‘I am on my way through’ yet the eye of the storm is very difficult to navigate .. Do others have advice on how to best ‘be’ with this enormous challenge?
    I am full if wonder at the process, such heartache, such grief but amazement as angels seem to jump on my shoulders and pick me up at the right moment.
    I am at a critical time where I can see the finish line but the obstacles are very large and not friendly. I can’t fight them.I have courage, I have faith but how do I best deal with the bitterness and the anger of the other party which I need to confront in order to complete this journey?
    anger that I need to confront in the other party in order to

  13. Joan
    I lived on the Cape last year for my year by the sea and read all your books and my journals by the fire.I am now back teaching overseas at the ripe age of 67 and want to be included in your blogs to keep my options open and to remind myself i will return to the Cape some day and maybe eventually meet you. I would recommend everyone to take a year-it energizes and restores just as your books do so keep blogging!

  14. Hi Joan,

    I enjoy and appreciate your blogging. I have read all of your books this summer after my son introduced me to the first one, A Walk on the Beach. It was required reading for a class he was taking at Ohio University on women and aging. Since then, I’ve been hooked. As I read each one I felt like I was talking with a friend. I’m planning to take a weekend at a cottage in nearby Hocking Hills for A Weekend to Change Your Life. Thank you for writing these books and keep blogging. Your books are so encouraging and validating and have motivated us to grab hold of our own lives again.

  15. Hi Joan,

    I’m so thankful you’re blogging. I have enjoyed/loathed the truth of your books and the things you’ve learned and passed on. Your books led me out of a very dark depression related to my husband’s job loss and the relocation we had to make as a result. It also led me to Africa as a volunteer for an amazing organization that I now advocate for yearly. I have no idea if I would have had the courage to do the things I’ve done for the past few years since reading your books…or even to have finished the laundry some days. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  16. Dear Joan: I am so thankful that you are blogging. Please don’t stop! Your words and wisdom are valued and treasured for their womanliness, their humanness, and their inspiration.

    My friend, Rita, and I attended your Cape Cod retreat very spontaneously in May, 2006. It was a highlight of our lives. I treasure the notes I took in the soft gray notebook you gave us, the photos I have for memory, and the gift of your teaching that weekend. Rita and I were in our forties then and in our fifties now. Rita is earning her doctoral degree from Ohio State University (isn’t that fantastic?) I’ve earned a master’s degree since that time.

    Today, I posted a message to Rita’s FACEBOOK wall, that we must be spontaneous again in this decade and attend one of your retreats! It can’t come too soon for me.

    Now that you are blogging, the next step is Facebook. You can do it. We need you Joan…all of us…women on our unique journeys, full of pain and full of joy.

    Kim Gignac

  17. Hi jOan
    I have just read your book, A alk on the beach. I live in New zealand and am very task focused and shy but this probably comes across to people as “I have no time for you”
    Your book has changed the way I se my life. I read it in two days. I am so excited about whatever lies ahead for me.
    Best wishes, Jane

  18. Hey Salty Lady! Enjoyed your words regarding the hurricane that never was! You are right on regarding the weather reports and the media, the hype is so scary. I am entering another chapter experienceing the calm, learning that FEAR which I may have shared with you years ago, False Evidence Appearing Real, is a challenging lesson to learn. My daughter recently went through a difficult divorce, she’s a single mom, lives in S.FL, raising a nine year old son, a six year old daughter, has her PhD in family counseling, is an Autism Coach for the School System. Being a Mom and Grandmother has had ist’s fearful moments, however, she will survive just like I did. I would sit here in my own home years ago, on my own after a 35 year marriage ended, would repeat again and again “This too shall pass.” It did, just like old Earl passing through Cape Cod! Blessings to you and your family. From another Salty Lady..

  19. Dear Joan,
    Thank you for your great insights, as always, on the calm and the storm. I thought of you as I heard about Earl heading your way and glad it did not turn out to be the disaster they were predicting.
    Your blog also reminded me about being calm during the storm, just like the eye of the hurricane right in the center is the calm area. Through each phase, before, during and after, there is calmness. Having been through a very stormy part of my life, I can truly attest to the calmness now. Thanks for the reminder!

  20. Joan this is truly a profound post. We are dealing with several of life’s challenges and you’re so right, there’s nothing you can do to prepare for them except hunker down, wrap your arms tight around your family and friends and plow through. Each time we make it through one of life’s storms, I believe we are stronger, more resilient and have more understanding and acceptance of others. Thank you once again for touching my heart. Enjoy your time in Iona. Hope to make that retreat sometime.

  21. Joan,
    Excellent advice, I too, live on an Island at times, and have survived many assaults by the media that never happened.
    I know it can, BUT, it hasn’t yet.
    We are promised a way thru the storms of life, and only grow during the process.
    Thank you for posting::)

  22. Joan: I am living this now as my attorney forcasts a legal hurricane from my former employer. But I am pushing forward and opening my new office, maybe I will have unused hurricane supplies sitting on my counter too. Thanks for the Robert Frost quote -“The way out is through” – this is my new mantra.

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