“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”
When I was 28, I came home from work on a humid evening in May and saw a funnel cloud out the back window. It was huge, not far off and traveling in my direction.
I took hold of my toddler’s hand, picked up my infant son and headed down the hallway. It was one of those every other nights that I functioned as a single parent while my husband was at work. I instinctively pulled the mattress off the bed, dragged it on top of the three of us and spent the longest minutes of my life in a bathtub.
When I emerged from under the mattress 45 minutes later, driving rain fell and the sky was dark as midnight at 6 pm. The power was out. The phone still worked long enough for me to answer a caller checking on us before it also went dead. About an hour later, a second storm came through. Two hours later, the National Guard arrived and sealed off the neighborhood. Fourteen houses were leveled by those storms, starting with the one right behind ours. Our house was untouched.
I gained respect for tornadoes that night. Even though I’d grown up where tornadoes were as much a part of spring as greening grass, I had never had such a close-up, real-time view. I’d never had to protect my children from one and I’d never had one bear down on me while living in a home without a basement. Ever since, storms have held my attention.
Last weekend, there was a spectacular storm in the mountains with hours of rumbling thunder and knife-like lightning. My dog Rosie is terrified of storms and this one was particularly hard on her. Seeing her distress reminded me of how anxious I used to feel about storms.
I still give storms their due. When it clouds up or the air starts to get clammy, I heed the change in weather. But I finally quit automating my fear. I realized I was always assuming the worst and that fear was keeping me from what I wanted.
Perhaps unintentionally, I became intentional. Maybe I had learned something from life, gotten a little more wise and stretched a bit. One day I realized that my fear of storms and my fears about life were standing in the way of a heck of a lot of possible good stuff. So I let fly my doubting thoughts and stated this:
I am not afraid to say my truth.
I am not afraid to love and to be loved.
I am not afraid to enjoy too much of a good thing.
I am not afraid to fly by the seat of my pants and let life unfold as it will.
I am not afraid of the bumps and the bends and the solid walls that will appear in my way.
I am not afraid to leap without looking because sometimes what is just beyond sight is well worth the leap of faith.
Once stated, my fears were far less formidable. From the vantage point one earns with a certain age, my perspective changed. In the time it took to gain a few more wrinkles and a lot more patience, I laid rest my fear of storms and a number of other long-held fears as well.
Truth be told, my irrational fear of storms was the easiest to go. As far as ridding myself of those other fears, I give partial credit to the often-present and various forms of tempests and squalls that I’ve met along the way. Life gives you storms and lets you choose your response. The way I react to the disappointments, setbacks, sorrows, difficulties and other attention-seeking events in life makes or breaks my ability to enjoy the sunny days that follow. There is beauty in it all.
As there is beauty in the changing of weather. Mountain living has helped me to appreciate storm clouds for they often bring rain and rain is always needed. I know that after rain, in due course comes sunshine, and when sunshine follows rain, its brilliance is brighter. I love the vivid colors and spectacular layers that one sees when the sun goes down behind storm clouds. It is then, when a storm is waning and the winds have died that I have seen the most beautiful sunsets.