The Unpredictable Storm

I woke up this morning to a conversation my wind chimes were having with an approaching storm. It was more of an argument than a conversation, wind chimes furiously slapping against air and wind and rain. Gone were the soothing, hypnotic and cheerful tones. This sounded like a warning and I was all ears.

I pulled back the curtains to see a sky I didn’t recognize. The colors reminded me of what happens when I paint and get lazy, or too involved in what I’m creating and forget to clean my brushes with enough water between strokes. That is to say, the sky was a mix of green, yellow and grey, an eerie, ominous color, the color of no ordinary morning sky.

It frightened me. And it disturbed my peacefulness because I couldn’t predict what was coming. What did Mother Earth have in store for my day? A severe storm, maybe a tornado?

And as I sit and write, still in the middle of the storm, I realize how uncomfortable unpredictability is. It’s unsettling when we don’t know what’s coming next.

In some ways, I see this as a perfect metaphor for midlife. We women spend years building careers, relationships, maybe families, and we get caught in the tide of life. There’s a certain predictability to it all.

Until one day, something makes us draw back the curtains on our lives. And we suddenly realize time is accelerating, our relationships to spouses, family, children–even ourselves–are changing, and we feel different about our lives, our purpose, our interests. It’s like a sudden storm, unpredictable. But the truth is, the storm has likely been on the horizon for a long, long time.

How we navigate the storm is important. At midlife, the things we say yes to, the things we say no to, matter. And as our bodies, relationships, jobs and lives shift to prepare us for what’s next, we must give credence to our feelings, our intuition.

Storms, physical or emotional, play a role in kicking us out of our safety zones. They make us stop and think about what’s important. Who is important. They clear the air. Much of this happens during the storm that is sometimes midlife.

What is your intuition trying to tell you? What is the storm trying to unearth for you?

As I listen to the thunder rattle my house (and my nerves), I can tell you the truth: I’m a little scared. But there is a weird tension here, something between anxiety and excitement. It’s scary and it’s freeing. I recognize the feeling because I spent a lot of time with it following my unearthing, my divorce and reordering of my priorities, several years ago.

It was a scary period, but I got clear on my priorities. I learned to take better care of my self. To speak my mind. To live and love a little more passionately. My storm reintroduced me to my creative spirit, long hidden behind the shoulds and the woulds of ordinary life.

So this morning, when I pulled back my bedroom curtains and saw a sky that made me fear I’d end up in Oz, I took a deep breath.

And then I went into my office and got the only thing of real value to me that I could carry in case I had to make a quick escape–two photo albums filled with pictures of people I love, pictures that record my son’s life and mine as a mother, daughter and friend. And they’re sitting next to me, near my purse and phone. And that’s all I really need as I wait for this storm to pass and my wind chimes to surrender their song.

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