“Coach” Irene

How Tranquil Is This?

Greetings from our forest home in  Vermont’s NE Kingdom. Soo good to be back with you, and wow, do I ever mean it. Don’t get me wrong, I always mean it, but this time is especially sweet.

I reckon you’ve heard something abour Hurricane Irene, and her visit to Vermont. Well, she came, stayed around a while, made quite an impression, and in the process became a huge teacher (and coach) for yours  truly. One of a good coach’s main jobs is to help us learn stuff, or remind us of things about ourselves that we may need to learn or remember – some good, some maybe uncomfortable, but all necessary.

So, as you can see in the photo at the top we have this idyllic brook /waterfall which flows past our deck. When we are here, I switch into gratitude mode several times a day for having the privilege to live in and enjoy this paradise. It is never lost on me, and this is just one blessing. Actually, I go into gratitude mode, very often every day, for all the other blessings, too numerous to mention, bestowed on me. I like to say that my entire life is a blessing, and that “my address is gratitude – I live there 24/7.”

So, when it started to rain early Sunday morning, I wasn’t too concerned, because our cabin has withstood years and years of spring runoffs without incident. But, as the day progressed, with the rain heavy and incessant, and our brook rising and rising and rising still more, I witnessed my mind moving from “no problemo”, to concern, to anxiety, to full blown fear. We could actually lose our home. Really, it was possible.

Just below is a video I took from our deck. I took it shortly before we reluctantly vacated to spend the night just across the brook, but on higher ground, in the cabin and company of our dear, dear friends, Deb and Dan, and their beautiful son (our Godson, I’m proud to say) Ethan.

(BTW, if you are reading this in your email, I don’t think the video will play. You’ll need to click on the title of this post which will bring you to my blog, where you can play it).

Irene Vt. 1st

I remember my state of mind (no mind now, just fear), as I tried to decide what to bring. What do you need if your house is going to be gone?  Toothbrush? (Ha! My dentist would approve); Change of undies and socks? Towel? Passport? ID? iPhone? Some food? What food? Ridiculous!

All my life, when I would see folks who actually did lose their homes in catastrophes in tearful interviews on TV, of course I always felt awful for them, and wondered how they could cope with that, but now that I was getting just the tiniest taste of what it must be like, I didn’t like it at all.

Yann Martel, in Life Of Pi, said that “fear is life’s only opponent; only fear can destroy life”; and Krishnamurti described fear as “the movement from certainty to uncertainty” – an apt description of this event for sure: I felt entitled to be afraid, but not at all happy in that domain.

   I tried meditating – something  I would recommend to my coaching clients, or anyone actually, in such circumstances – and it really did help quite a bit, but I have to say that notwithstanding all of the methods and techniques for  handling stressful, fearful times, nothing even comes close to the benefit of the loving support of family and friends. Thank you Monk, Deb, Dan and Eth!!

Dinner was fine, but appetite missing, and between  board games, the NY Times Sunday crossword puzzle (Eth, you are amazing!) and good conversation the evening passed. “Sleeping” was mostly about lying flat, eyes shut, and listening for the sound of our house collapsing.

Which didn’t happen!!!

At 6:00 AM Monday, we walked down the hill and VOILA!! A HOUSE!! –  lots of cleanup to do, but still there. We were soo lucky! Very, very sadly, many many folks in central and southern Vemont were not so fortunate as we were.

Ah, the sweet joy of sweeping up leaves, clearing debris, and putting your things back in their designated places – the “places” are still there! The joy of switching on the lights and loading a Mozart concerto onto the CD player. The little things, the littlest things, which even I, the guy who imagines he “lives in gratitude 24/7” never thinks about – and that’s my teaching from Irene: Of course it’s the big things, but it’s the little things too.

It’s so hard to hang onto and live in that state of mind, of gratitude and composure, especially in our media driven culture –  just 2 or 3 visits to the internet, talk radio (the fear and hatred box), and news on TV (What? 70 beautiful children murdered in Norway? Where can I find a container to hold that?) I can feel it all slipping away, right back into my old habits.

What can I  do to stay balanced?

Practice Tip: I’ve decided to take on a self observation exercise wherein I will stop what I’m doing 2-3 times a day, just for a minute, take a breath, and reflect on some of the things – not so much the biggies, like my creator giving me another day,  my miraculous sunbeam Laura giving me her love, and you dear reader, for the privilege of being in relationship with you – but the little things: like how really great this OJ tastes, the pleasure of a good conversation, and a hug from the local postmaster (have you hugged your postmaster lately?) Anyway, perhaps you’d like to try this out. Let me know if it works for you.

Dear Reader, I’ll be out of the country for a month or so – back with you in October. Until then, try to keep your balance, and please, be kind to yourself.



About Michael Scott

Michael Scott is a life coach, author and teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area. After spending 35 years in business - coaching found him - and he's never looked back. Michael uses his coaching training and experience, in the service of his clients, as their constant and loving guide towards joyous, fulfilling lives which are genuinely their own. He lives with his dear wife in Sausalito, CA.

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