On Saturday, September 3 Categories:

Recently, my husband and I went for an all day birding workshop in Cape May on a bitterly cold, windy day with the highs expected to be in the teens. As I dressed in every layer I possessed, I remembered the motto of a guide we had in Patagonia several years before. "There is no bad weather, just bad gear." Those words have stayed with me and as a result, I have gradually acquired a varied wardrobe of outdoor clothing for all seasons. But I also realized this is a metaphor for how to live. This cold day gave me pause to reflect on the protective gear I need ready at hand to face life's inevitable storms. These are my four essential layers.

Innermost Layer - Keeping the faith is my primal protection. Realizing that ultimately I have no control over the universe, I can only accept life's unfolding and try to meet it with integrity, compassion and gratitude. I have learned that it is important to foster my faith through reflection and prayer so that it becomes an integral part of me and autonomic in times of difficulty.

Second Layer - I need breathing space. Whatever the situation, one needs to breathe. When shepherding my father through his journey with esophageal cancer, I would travel to Boston for his chemo and radiation treatments. I was fortunate to be able to stay in a residential unit they had for cancer families within the hospital itself. However, I soon learned that to maintain my sanity, it was absolutely essential for me to go outside everyday and take a walk. When dealing with crisis situations, we tend to adopt tunnel vision, enabling us to direct all our energy towards the challenge at hand. We need to remind ourselves to occasionally step back and breathe. For me, just being outside, feeling the sun and the wind and watching the clouds gave me perspective, hope, and the space to breathe.

Third layer - Call in the support team! I've learned the hard way that I can't go it alone when the going gets tough. I need my husband's shoulder to cry on, my girlfriends to confide in, and my daughters to hold my hand. Over the years, I've also gathered numerous professionals around me - therapist, life coach, masseuses, and medical doctors I trust. We all need a pit crew to keep us in the race.

External Layer - The roles that we are used to playing can be like those favorite jeans that have molded to our body. In difficult times, it helps to identify the role I need to play. With my father, on one day I needed just to be the loving daughter holding his hand; another day, his secretary keeping track of all the information; another day, his advocate. We cannot be all things at all times. To identify what we can do and do well, makes an overwhelming situation manageable.

When the hurricane hits, it's not the time to go out shopping for foul weather gear. All of these essential layers that I have identified for myself require both maintenance and time to develop. What are your essential protective layers and what condition are they in?

Copyright (c) 2011 Karin Marcus

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Karin Marcus, Professional Certified Life Coach / Retreat Leader
"Let the beauty of what you love, be what you do" Rumi
Karin@Steppingoutcoaching.com 610-667-5247


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