We don’t get offered crises, they arrive.
-- Elizabeth Janeway
“The great crises of life are not, I think, necessarily those which are in themselves the hardest to bear, but those for which we are least prepared,” Mary Adams wrote in her 1902 self-help manual Confessions of a Wife. It seems astonishing to think that over a century later her very true observation about being unprepared for crises probably resonates in many women’s hearts. At least it does in mine.
Well, as the coffee brews we anxiously eavesdrop on the news, weather and traffic reports, recalibrating our way to work while checking email and the “squawk on the street” for what happened overnight. Like a mother prairie dog instinctively poking her head out of the burrow to measure the vibrations of miles to minutes before the buffalo stampede, we simultaneously attempt to both ignore and answer this vague but increasing urge to be “prepared.” But our dogged determination to shrug it off wins again and combined with the world’s deafening static we can’t decipher the spiritual dots and dashes of our soul’s desperate Morse code: Get Ready. So we begin to “feel” this confusing unease as the “fight or flight” response even while we’re standing alone in our own kitchens.
Because the reality is we are not prepared. We know this. Babe, we're not prepared for anything. To put it in the nicest possible way, we're about as ready for the unexpected as we were in the third grade, crouching under our desks during the air raid drills.
Truth or Dare: If there was an urgent pounding on your door at 10 pm and someone in a yellow emergency vest told you to evacuate your entire household in five minutes because there was a gas leak at the power station six blocks away, how do you think you’d do? I didn’t do very well; or rather, as I remember there was a woman in her nightgown standing in the middle of the street rolling a screeching cat in a carrier while crying because she couldn't get the other two out in time. She didn't do very well. It was hard to tell who was more relieved when the all clear was signaled a few minutes later, the gas man or my family who didn’t have to admit that I belonged with them.
It was a very humbling experience. I'd always thought of myself as a woman of calm composure. Clearly when these particular chips were down, I did not pass the Emergency Broadcast test. God knows I wish this wasn't true. Which is why I've been pondering this in my heart for months.
I’m speaking for myself, of course, but I wondered afterwards if a lack in my emergency preparedness skills could explain why I became unglued so easily. Perhaps the fact that we know we're not ready to handle the unexpected is the reason so many women instinctively anticipate the worst outcome from any situation.
Yes, the world is frightening and seems to become more so each day. But how much more do we frighten ourselves with our imagination rather than the outside circumstances personally affecting us at any given moment? Perhaps this is because our inner equilibrium is in freefall.
Here’s what I’ve learned and share with the seeker in you: Being scared is a “sacred” warning signal sent to keep you and yours out of harm’s way. Being scared is a primordial instinct meant to keep you alive in dangerous situations until you can get out of them. Being "scared" is Heaven's "heads up." Think of it as a spiritual shortwave radio frequently processed through a woman’s sixth sense—your intuition or sense of “Knowing.” I’ve come to realize that the more scared I am about any situation, challenge or circumstance, the more imperative it is for me to acknowledge and face it and learn to overcome it, one way or another.
I believe deep in my soul that being “prepared”—Emergency Preparedness 101—has become a sacred imperative for the most important rite of passage every woman might have to ultimately face, and face alone. Babe, we have to learn the skills and training to become our own first responder. We may find ourselves in situations where no one's able to come immediately. And others may depend upon us.
My prime directive now (and you are more than welcome to join me) is to become the calmest, most capable woman in the midst of any challenge or crisis in which we could find ourselves. The more mayhem that surrounds us, the calmer we’ll become, anyplace, anytime, anywhere and then, we’ll be able to spring into action. Because when we are prepared, when we trust in Spirit and our ability to rise to any occasion and when we know what needs to be done “just in case,” we will be exactly the women that Heaven will call upon in an emergency.
I’m going to take a first aid course this summer. The American Red Cross, which responds to a human disaster every 8 minutes, offers online and community classes. (www.redcross.org/take-a-class/first-aid) Will you do the same? If you are a skilled EMT, registered or practical nurse or physician, can you invite friends and neighbors over to your house for a first aid demonstration, followed by a pot-luck barbeque? What a way to put the “home” back into the Homefront.
This Memorial Day we remember with deep gratitude the valor, bravery, and heroism of the men and women of our military who put their lives on the line every day to defend us. We remember those who gave their lives to protect us and our families. And we remember and give thanks for the families of our military who share their loved ones so generously with our nation to safeguard us and preserve our freedoms.
When I pray for courage and protection, my band of angels are the Navy Seals and U.S. Military special forces. God bless you and God bless America. I gave up praying to cherubs a long time ago.
Now I guess it’s time to make the potato salad.
Sending dearest love and blessings on our courage.