A new chapter in life usually starts with something uncomfortable. Loss, gain, and stagnancy can all result in discomfort. Really the most uncomfortable part of it all is uncertainty. We want predictable. We want routine. Even adventure and spontaneity hold elements of predictability. It is the point in our lives when we learn to embrace uncertainty, that some of our most beautiful chapters are written. Often disguised as loss or stagnancy, those chapters have yet to be titled. It is then that the beauty of change occurs.

In October 2018, Hurricane Michael graced the Gulf Coast with its presence. Life as we knew it was gone that very day. We spent the morning as usual with the added element of prepping the yard and pets, and by evening time we were in a state of emergency defending our property from looters and eating food off the grill as fast as it defrosted. Many people lost homes, vehicles, businesses, jobs, and loved ones. Although my family was rather fortunate, our lives are very different than they were before the storm. It was two days before we were able to chainsaw our way to the main street. On the third day, we verified the safety of my sister, step-children, and mother in law. On day five I drove two and a half hours out of town to get phone service and verify that I still had a job, despite our office building being destroyed. On day 10 we got phone service. Day 14 we got water and were able to take cold showers. Day 22 of Florida heat and humidity, we got power. That felt like progress, but it is far from over. The county’s schools started back after Thanksgiving. Despite the hardships, we were blessed in so many ways during the aftermath and to describe each silver lining would be a book, not a blog post (and I hear those who were not affected by the storm are tired of hearing about it). Plus, it would take away from my point, so I digress. We experienced a disaster, everything is still changing for us, and 10 months later, I have sunk into stagnation.

Being at home has given me the opportunity to bond with my now six-month old baby and my 10 year old (who turned 10 on 10/10, the day Michael hit), and to grow closer to my husband and step-children. Despite these perks, I seem to be at a stand-still in a lot of ways. I am still working from home because there is no office space available, I rarely interact with adults, and have had no changes in home repair after our roof was complete last December. Noticing that I was feeling somewhat stuck, my awesome husband decided to help me take the first step down a path I’ve had in mind since I was 13 years old. He bought me a camera. Not just any camera, but a DSLR that I can use shoot portraits part-time. And so it begins!

The storm didn’t cause this to happen, but it was a change agent that eventually started me down this path. I didn’t recognize the potential such a catalyst could have in our lives. I didn’t see it as an opportunity, at first. But now, I look back and am able to recognize that these changes were our opportunities. I will not resist change, but embrace it and use this to take me off autopilot. I am ready for this journey! We might all benefit from occasionally taking a closer look at our own situations to recognize the potential for growth. Seven things we dealt with in the aftermath that we could all do to elicit change in our own situations.

  • More sleep – studies show that increasing the amount of sleep we get provides physical and mental benefits. When we do this, we have more energy to put towards things that can change our lives for the better. Oh, you get a full 8 hours each night? *ehem, nerd*… Believe it or not, during the hurricane, the people effected reverted to bed time at dark and rising with the sun. That sleep cycle was so refreshing.
  • More water – yes, I know. This is obvious… but is it though? Log your water for a week. You may be getting way less water than you think you are. I continue to struggle with this and honestly, I don’t even know why because I love water. We got cases and cases of water delivered to our door steps after the hurricane, and I truly appreciate that!
  • Meditation – I’m sure everyone’s heard the saying that “if you’re too busy for meditation, you need it more. This can be achieved through fresh air and introspection. Spend some time in a meadow, on a beach, or just seated in the natural light of your favorite room in the house. I’ve said before that sometimes we just need grounding. Take a look at grounding using 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 countdown.
  • Social media black-out period – seriously, this should go without saying that sometimes social media weighs heavy on our mood. There are a lot of individuals stirring up drama for other people. Give yourself the gift of a social media black-out. A week, a month, or even a year. The rejuvenating benefits are definitely worth it. This is one of my favorite things about being on a cruise and was certainly my favorite part about being thrown into a state of emergency.
  • Affirmations – speak nicely to yourself. Whether you tell yourself that you can or you can’t, you’re right. Our whole community came together and created #850strong because affirmations are effective. I have recently started a gratitude journal to keep my negative thoughts at bay. I really don’t want to be in my own way when it comes to my photography business, or anything else for that matter.
  • Exercise – get your endorphins up! Slow yoga challenging each muscle group separately allows you to slow down and focus on one thing at a time. Fast yoga gets your heart going (duh, it’s fast). Maybe you just need an extra walk in the morning or add on an extra class. Of course, not just once… it needs to become a habit. Work at it. Whatever level you’re on, level up! (Is level zero a thing?)
  • Adventure – Our whole area code was an adventure after Michael struck. Try something new! A new hiking trail or lake. Maybe go to a festival or art exhibit. Be spontaneous! This is one of my favorites. I love a good adventure! With my photography, I’ve found myself exploring my town more than I used to. It’s refreshing!

Potential is often hidden beneath something more often seen as inconvenient and uncomfortable. Whether you’re dealing with change at this moment or feeling a bit in a rut, find your catalyst. Step out of your comfort zone and recognize when life has become stagnant. Change is a good thing! Embrace it!

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