Not Even a Tropical Storm Can Stop Me

Whew! We’ve had some wild Texas weather this week.

Tropical Storm Hermine (not sure exactly how to pronounce it) rolled through here a couple of days ago. What started as a surprise storm in the Gulf of Mexico ended up slamming Mexico, then slamming Central Texas. We got some winds, but  mostly a lot of hard, driving rain for two days and two nights.

I live outside of Austin in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. I can see Lake Travis from our back yard, and I walk to and near the lake nearly every day. We got a lot of rain and the lake level has risen measurably since the storm. Because our town is up on a series of hills, we avoided any major problems with flooding. However, they experienced a lot of flooding in certain areas of Austin.

Anyhoo, I was sitting here in my home office, working away as the storm rolled through. Not realizing that family and friends from the East Coast were seeing all these stories on the news about “floods and mayhem” in Central Texas. And also not realizing that they were trying to reach me, weren’t able to get through on the phones, and were growing increasingly agitated and concerned.

Here I was, happily working away, oblivious to the storm, totally focused on the projects I wanted to complete that day. Although I must admit, I did step out on the back porch from time to time to check out the storm. And I watched the Weather Channel at the top of the hour, every hour,  to see the latest radar and updates.

(As an aside: I’m a huge weather junkie! Maybe because we had some close calls when we were kids with tornados and even a hurricane?  I’m fascinated with weather, storms, hurricanes and volcanoes. I guess I’m living in the right place, because we tend to get some crazy thunderboomers rolling through here from time to time. In fact, the Texas state museum in Austin shows an interactive film entitled, “Wild Texas Weather”.  ‘Nuff said.)

Later in the day, my parents finally got through, and then my brother, and then a few friends. They were relieved to hear everything was cool in these parts. I was somewhat amused to hear of their concerns. But at least I have family and friends who love me, right?

I realized later that this was a good example of compartmentalization.

The ability to compartmentalize can be a boon to your efforts to reduce and even transform stress. We all go through days, weeks or months when we are experiencing extra stress or negative emotions based on events that have occurred, or additional projects or workloads, or some personal or family situation that demands more of us. It can be easy to fall into feelings of being overwhelmed, or not being up to the challenge, or even self-pity.

Rather than give in to these feelings and allow them to overwhelm you, why not try a different tack? Here’s what I do:

Take a few deep breaths and relax. Visualize that your present responsibilities, projects, and challenges are a series of boxes, sitting up on a shelf in your mind’s eye. Decide which “box”, or project, you should work on next. Take the box off the shelf, open it, and get to work.

When you have pushed that project as far as you can for now, close the box, put it back on the shelf, and take a short break. Do some deep, gentle breathing and clear your mind. This helps you change gears. Then reach for the next box, open it, and get busy.

In cases of truly challenging personal or family issues, such as a serious illness or a relationship ending, allow yourself some time each day (or multiple times per day) to recognize, affirm and actually feel the fear, grief, anger, or whatever emotion is associated with this challenge. In other words, allow yourself time each day to open up that particular box and wallow in the emotions, immerse yourself in the problem, and think through what you can do about it. Don’t deny the fact that you are going through a very tough time. Give yourself permission to whine and moan and hurt.

And then…. close the box, put it back up n the shelf, and get going with another, hopefully more positive box or project.

You will find that this approach can help you better direct your focus and energies. You’ll get more done and feel more in control, even as the storm rages around you.

You Can Do It!



13 Responses to “Not Even a Tropical Storm Can Stop Me”

  1. dale bell Says:

    I love stormy days and going out side to watch the weather.
    You can not be more right on when you talk about compartmentalising and puting the box away for another time.

  2. Rob Northrup Says:

    Glad to hear that you weathered the storms OK!

    You are so right the ability to get “in the zone” and compartmentalize is so crucial to productivity. I used to program computers for a living and this was a job where you could get so immersed in a task that you “wake up” and eight hours have passed.

    I find the same is true of some writing projects as well, but you don’t tend to get as deep. Unless you are writing completely from your mind and no external research is needed.

    Seize the Day,
    Survival Rob

    Is Your Family Prepared For A Financial Crisis or Natural Disaster?

  3. Bryan Says:

    I like the box idea…I think we all tend to get a little overwhelmed with our issues and responsibilities

  4. Steve Chambers Says:

    I think compartmentalization is underrated as a productivity technique. Having the ability to focus on one thing is powerful, and in our increasingly busy lives this does require us to compartmentalize our various activities.

    From one weather junkie to another I’m glad to hear you weathered the storms.


  5. Sabrina Peterson Says:

    I was on the phone with my sister who lives in Houston yesterday and I could hear the thunder in the background during our conversations. I don’t really miss the storms in Tx.

    Sabrina Peterson, NASM CPT, CES
    Corrective Exercise for Every Body

  6. Dennis Perry Says:

    Wow Karen! One of the best posts so far. What a great description of compartmentalization! This is such an effective method to attack almost all areas of your life.

    Also, my wife and I love stormy weather (to a point, that is). When a thunderstorm passes through, we go sit on the porch swing (covered porch, of course) and watch it come through. The dog doesn’t like it too much but we love it.
    Create The Life of Your Dreams

  7. christianhaller Says:

    The recent storms have really brought in some dramatic weather. This often gives me pause think about what I should really be doing.

  8. Dr. Wendy Schauer, D.C., R.K.C. Says:

    After reading your other posts I decided to put a sticky note on my computer that says BREATHE. For that moment in time nothing else matters but me breathing deeply from my belly. Great stress reliever.
    Yours In Health!

    Dr. Wendy M. Schauer, D.C., R.K.C.
    Come Experience The Power of the Russian KettleBell Revolution at Kettlebell Olympia – Home of A Better Body With Bells!

  9. Alam Ghafoor Says:

    I’m glad we don’t have to deal withtropical storms in the UK.

  10. Michael D Walker Says:

    What a terrific topical example of compartmentalization!
    Your box visualization is one I’ll have to try out for myself.

    The Success Secrets

  11. Don Hill Says:

    If you can get around the dangers that storms can bring. They are kind of wonderful. The lightning flashing and the thunder crashing. The contrast of light and dark skies. The colorful rainbow that shows up afterwards.


  12. Boomer Dating Expert Says:

    Hi Karen,

    I admire your diligence combined with providing some wonderful relaxing de- stressing breathing techniques.

    Happy Dating and Relationships,

    April Braswell
    Baby Boomer Dating Expert

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