The Storm Before the Calm

Breathing through the storms of emotions and letting them flow

Photo by Marcus Woodbridge on Unsplash

We usually talk about the calm before the storm. Today I am aware of the opposite within me. The storm before the calm.

I recently returned from a wondrous trip to Baja to be among the grey whales there. It was magical, being among these incredible magical creatures. Being graced with their presence right beside us, having the calves even come close to our small boats to allow touch. 

And now I am home and have been so very unsettled. Restless. Difficulty focussing. Unable to complete tasks or begin the never ending projects that seem to be part of being home.

Perhaps it is partly because I was in such a magical place. Re-entry from vacation has always been challenging for me. Even now, I find that to be true, when I don’t have to go back to work, given that I am retired. 

It can be hard to go back to whatever “normal” is after such a wonderful experience. It can be hard to go back to having to figure everything out each day for yourself. One can get spoiled having your day planned for you, your meals prepared, your adventures planned and taken care of. Being able to shed the responsibilities of self care for a brief time. Having someone else take care of life’s details for you for a moment. 

I have been so unsettled since coming home. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Being settled can be overrated, I think. 

And yet, it has been so uncomfortable living with the feelings that this brings. 

And, I find, I have added to the discomfort by trying to pressure myself to just get on with it, get back into the routine and structure, get back to life as it is when I am , once again, home alone. 

Pressuring myself to get over whatever was going on. Get past it. Pull up my bootstraps and deal with it.

That simply did not work. 

So yesterday, I let of of the expectation of getting anything done on the never ending list. Just let go. Sat there. Talked with a friend, which helped ease some of the angst of some issues that have been coming up more for me lately. I let myself share a bit. And I was heard. I am grateful. 

So then I let myself hear me as well. And just took the pressure away of needing to do anything yesterday. Gave myself permission to simply be wherever it was that I needed to be. Even if I didn’t really know what that was.

And this morning, I woke up calmer. I seem to keep re-learning the lesson of listening to whatever is going on inside and simply letting it be. Letting the storm pass through. Being still in the center of the discomfort. Realizing that simply riding out the storm is all that I can do in that moment. 

I think that this is part of what aging is teaching me more and more. To allow whatever is going on inside me to simply be. To allow space for internal emotions and feelings, even if I am not able to name them immediately. To allow space for my spirit to express some of the storms inside , storms that have passed through me all of my life. Storms that may have lessons that will not be named for a bit. Storms that are part of my journey in this life.

During the whale trip, I asked the guides if they ever cancel the whale watching for a day because of the weather. Oh yes, they responded, when the wind reaches a certain strength, the lagoon is shut down for the day

Maybe we can learn from that. Maybe we can learn to shut down all the other parts of life, as much as we can, and simply watch the storm and be with ourselves until it passes. 

Storms are part of weather. Storms are part of life. Storms are part of us. I can appreciate grey skies as much as the beautiful blue skies. They actually help me appreciate the blue skies even more. 

Grey skies help me go within and get quiet to hear and listen to whatever the current storm may be about.

I have more to explore, as I continue this aging process.

Some of my current storms are beginning to get names. 

Turning 70 next month. This one really stirs me up inside.

The fact that I lived out of a duffel bag for a week while on vacation. And that was all that I needed. Then coming home to a house full of stuff, much of which I do not really need. The urge to purge is real. More and more as I age. Time to let go of what is unnecessary. So I can appreciate more what is right in front of me, so I can travel light on this final path before me.

Having an experience on my trip of getting an infection that I knew needed to be treated soon. Having been able to see a local doctor who came to the hotel to treat me and prescribe much needed antibiotics. The kindness of strangers. The importance of being paid attention. The ability to take care of myself enough to know when I needed a doctor right then and there,

The experience of having fairly significant periods of pain from this infection, of having to wait for a few days (and having judged that this would be ok to wait for a few days, also with the help of a fellow guest on the trip who happened to be a nurse). We were a 6 hour drive away from the town we flew into, and 6 hours away from a local doctor. The challenges of how to live with some pain and still enjoy each day to the fullest. To not miss one whale trip out on the boats.

 Perhaps this is a lesson in living with the changes and challenges that aging can bring. And keep on enjoying what we can. While we can. 

To acknowledge the pain and struggles that are real. And keep on living as fully as we can. Ride out the storms until they pass. Be still, be quiet, and keep breathing. Keep living. Keep enjoying this exquisitely beautiful life, storms and all. 

One thought on “The Storm Before the Calm

  1. Thank you Jo! I appreciate your wisdom. I relate to the “urge to purge” and the feeling of overwhelm when there feels like so much must be done but the motivation, desire, or energy to keep doing is just not there. A quote (don’t know who the quoter was) I stumbled upon once went something like this,

    “She often felt tired, not because she’d done too much, but because she’d done too little of what
    sparks a light in her”

    I find myself consumed by responsiblities of looking after a house and recently dealing with medical providers and insurance companies. I wish to be five years old again! Play in the mud, run, daydream, pretend, cuddle a cat, draw pictures, get lost in a story, the feeling of innocence….

    I”m sorry I sent you a text in the middle of the night. I thought I had scheduled it to be sent at a reasonble hour. The meditation attached to that text was in my morning Calm app and it hit the nail on the head in how we can reduce burnout by spending more time with activities that make us feel renewed.

    I like the idea of naming our storms! One of my current storms could be named “DME ICD Hell.”

    After a little rocky start, I’m soooo glad your trip to be with the whales was fufilling for you! I hope you’re planning your next adventure!


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