When the Sky Really Is Falling

I rushed into Great Clips a couple of Saturdays ago to try to fit in a trim between errands. With one look at the waiting crowd huddled hip to hip, I knew I wouldn’t stay, even after I gave my name. I stepped out to my car and took a call from my realtor.

“You have water on your kitchen floor,” she reported.

“Have you looked in the basement?” I wondered out loud.

Yep, the sky was falling. Or leaking. Two hours north of us. But it was still our sky and our heads. Or rather, our ceiling and our floor.

Never mind that this came days after a young driver hit my car. I wished I were Chicken Little and Henny Penny and this was just a case of worry about an acorn falling out of the tree and an imagination that the sky was falling.

Keep Calm and Carry On, right? That phrase is all over the place—on mugs, on jewelry, on Pinterest, on our tongues—but do you know its origins?

Apparently, the British government created it for a war-time poster to boost morale if Germany invaded Britain. Others in a series were used, but not this one. The message resurfaced in the past decade with reproduction posters and tongue-in-cheek parodies.

For my own recent emergencies, I wish more for my  “Fruit of the Spirit” wall art to remind me to temper my reactions rather than a coffee cup to minimize them. Temperance just doesn’t sound as catchy as, Keep Calm and Carry on, but it certainly lasts longer than an understated slogan when the sky really is falling on top of you.

Like a friend who surprised herself with a calmer-than-usual reaction to pumpkin muffins dumped into the bottom of her oven, I surprised myself with this attribute I’ve been working toward.

Moderate Passion But Still Act in the Moment: Sky-falling emergencies bring panic, frustration, even anger. Moderation and self-control brought clear thinking about what to bring. I knew we were going to have to drive north immediately, clean up, assess any damage and make repairs to our house. I acted by creating a list  (fans, a stack of old towels, a bucket, a step stool, even toilet paper and drink bottles) and gathering the items, and those actions moderated what could have been extreme reactions.

Small Amounts of Stress Bring Strength Over Time: Tempered glass is created through a process of heating and then rapidly cooling the glass that makes it five to ten times stronger than normal glass. My husband said this recently, “We’ve suffered through this for so long, we can suffer through anything.” He’s right.  I didn’t just stay calm when that young man hit my car, I brought new strength to the situation, turned the wheel away from his oncoming car, prevented more serious damage, and stepped out of my car with actions that I’d like a stranger to use with my son if he were ever in the same place.

This, Too, Will Pass: My mom’s saying may be better than any of the “Keep Calm” ones.  And I may add, that after the emergency has passed and calm returns, you will prize the calm much more. The passing of the “Oh no, not again,” with our sky-falling leak began as soon as hours later when we stopped the flow and began the clean up. With the help of neighbors, our realtor, a contractor and another trip to our house for repairs, the emergency proved more manageable and less severe than expected.

About the time we cleaned up the pieces from these incidents, I took my kids to a trampoline park. The last time we’d been to one of these places, Kirsten had an injury that affected our whole vacation. But I suggested it anyway. First of all, I missed out the last time, and I wanted to just be free from the challenges and jump. And secondly, I wanted my daughter to revisit her earlier painful experience and value the strength that she’d gained.

Even if we feel like Chicken Little or we face very real things, problems are solvable. And, you and I are more resilient than we think.


1 Comment

  1. Camille
    Apr 30, 2013

    I’ve missed some of your last entries and so hadn’t heard about this catastrophe. I hope it is all over with no remaining damage to house or soul! Can you update my e-mail so that your e-mail reminders of your posts go to my new e-mail, not the magcare one? Thanks! And feel free to call anytime, things are not nearly as crazy during the day as they used to be when everyone was little. In fact I just registered N for kindergarten. That is a strange feeling. Everyone keeps asking what I’m going to do with everyone in school. Get things in order!!! And then work on many different aspects of our family history. Looking forward to it.

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