When my brother and I were little, we used to join a crowd of cousins our at our Grandparents’ ranch in Caruthers, California, and play outside. It was a hot and dusty place, but full of things to do. We would build fairy castles in the cotton field across the street, run after the dogs in the alfalfa field, pick fruit from the grape vines or crab apple tree or climb the rafters in the barn. We also broke off pieces of old dry wall in the barn and used them as chalk. We would color the barren, country road full of chalky pictures and map out boundaries for games of tag. One of my strongest memories though, is watching my brother and the other little boy cousins run straight into a Dust Devil — on purpose!
“A Dust Devil is a whirlwind that typically occurs during hot, clear conditions. The whirlwind becomes visible because dust is caught in the vortex created by the air currents. Dust Devils range in size from several feet to several hundred feet in diameter.”
~ Carol L. McClelland, Ph. D.
The Dust Devil my brother and cousins ran into was not very big or wide, but certainly taller and bigger than we were. I remember being nearby, though not directly in the spin. I could still feel the sting of little rocks or dirt clods pinch my skin as it passed by. I could only imagine what the boys were feeling, but I don’t think they cried. The little boys were brave and always full of energy. And, they were highly competitive, often daring one another to take big risks like capturing black widows, or running into Dust Devils. The older kids would often shoo them away from danger when they could. But, those boys were like Max in “Where The Wild Things Are.” They were “Kings of the wild things,” having an adventurous romp!
As I think on Dust Devils, I think about how changing weather is a great metaphor for our emotions, especially during times of life transitions. Sometimes, it might feel a lot like we are walking into a Dust Devil when life feels a bit crazy! Or perhaps we have a lot of energy, yet we feel scattered about where to go next, like a whirlwind that doesn’t travel a straight path. I winds itself all over the place. At these times, our emotions call for some serious grounding. We need to find something stable and secure to hold onto and let the chaos pass.
When change is looming in our lives, we may feel a bit foggy or confused. It’s like watching a Fog Bank in the distance. We may wonder about the pending change and watch to see if the fog changes direction. Will it roll in and come closer to me, or will it keep it’s distance and stay at bay? At times like this, we begin to prepare for possibilities, but usually, we don’t expect the fog bank to disrupt our lives. It could just as easily vanish.
Perhaps we feel VERY confused about our life or a certain situation. Things may feel more like Dense Fog — so blurred that we can’t make out the details of our next steps. When this happens, we need to take some time out and wait for the situation to clear up a bit before we decide what to do. Once we are more clear, we can move forward.
Maybe we feel gloomy about some situation, like a cloudy, Overcast day. Stay with your feelings. If you can feel your emotions, you can move through them. If you avoid them, you might hold them in your body, which creates dis-ease. Find a friend, coach or other professional to support you as you work through your emotions. I remind people I coach that they do not have to do it alone.
I live in Washington state, so naturally, I think about Rain. Rain can be viewed in two ways. 1) We can be refreshed and renewed by rain, just like we might be feeling nurtured by love and support we are receiving in our lives. Or, 2) we might view rain as a metaphor for releasing sorrow or pain regarding our life or situations. I think rain can be healing either way, and is usually followed by growth.
As a Deaf person, I don’t hear the sound of thunder, but I still see lightening. I imagine when we have emotions pent up inside that need to be released, they come out like Thunder and Lightening! At times like these, we need to find a safe place to vent and let ourselves purge and rant! Take a strenuous walk, hit a pillow or use your voice to roar! It helps to move the energy so you don’t become volatile at the wrong people, the wrong time or the wrong place.
Have you ever felt like a Tornado was coming right at you? Maybe it feels like two or more forces heading straight your way causing you to feel in turmoil about a situation. How do people weather tornadoes? They find a safe place to wait out the storm. So, too, we can look for or create a place of safety to wait out the chaos or danger and evaluate our situation.
As a kid, I loved to listen to the patter of Hail when it came down on the roof of our car. As a Deaf adult, I no longer hear hail, but I can see and feel it. I am still intrigued by the rhythmic patterns it creates on everything it touches. We know there are times in life when we need to take cover and stay out of the way of what feels like emotional hail. Hail stings, and if big enough, can cause real damage. Occasionally, drama happens around us that intrigues us like hail, and wants to draw us in. At these times, it’s important to stay attentive and pay attention to our own thoughts, rather than what is going on around us. Don’t allow yourself to be pulled into someone else’s crazy emotional weather.
Sometimes, we feel cold, frozen, detached or we just don’t care about our life or situation. We feel like Frost. Actually, being objective and detached is sometimes necessary and useful. Other times, it can stifle our growth. We need to decide for ourselves what the best approach is to our situation.
In the winter months, we see snow where I live. Snow is usually welcome at first. It gives us time to get off the grid, hunker down and spend alone time focusing on our inner world. The quiet gentleness of the snowfall leads us into a hibernation of the body so we can sit with our soul. It can be a welcome reprieve from the hectic pace of the holidays. But there are times when we situations happen in life that make us feel like we are snowed under! This last winter season literally kept my family housebound for 7 days! It felt overwhelming after a while and we were eager to see nature bring on the thaw! Waiting for the big thaw is often the hardest part of the season and our emotions. But it always comes. We need to learn to trust this and relax in knowing the thaw will come. Patience is required.
The Ice Rain that usually follows snow is not so fun. Ice storms or freezing rain are brief, but common here in Pacific Northwest winters. Similarly, our emotions can sometimes feel icy. At these times, we may feel wary, not sure where to put our next step because every option looks slippery. But this is when it is most important to listen to your inner-wisdom and trust your instincts. Don’t be in a hurry to move forward. Wait until the ice melts before you take action.
Once spring returns to our lives, we can see occasional rainbows. Rainbows often leave us in awe. In the same way, we may experience awe at the potential that lay ahead in our lives — a new baby, a new job, a new relationship. We may recognize the beauty of our situation because we are looking at the light from one aspect that is shining through the downpour from another angle. These are joyful and hopeful emotions.
If you are feeling invigorated and refreshed by events in your life, and enjoying a new level of energy, this is much like the Wind. If, however, you feel buffeted and worn out by the unrelenting forces of outside events blowing your way, find shelter and support that will protect you from these forces.
On those days when we look up and see White Puffy Clouds in the sky, we usually feel calm and at ease. White puffy clouds with a blue sky background are usually fair-weather friends. When we feel happy in our lives, it’s is much like this. I love the feeling of skymindedness on white, puffy-cloud days. I think beyond my simple life and often go deeper, feeling connected with everything around me. It’s a feeling of Oneness.
As I end this post, there is Bright Sunshine shining in the sky. It is summer and I am feeling joyful, warm and radiant! This is how we want to feel. Yet, our emotions don’t always match the actual season we are in. It may be a beautiful day outside, but we may be feeling like we are in a volatile mixture of dark, stormy days and beautiful sunny ones. We need to remember that just as predictable or unforeseen changes of weather happen, our emotions can also predictably or unexpectedly change as we go through life transitions.
If you are going through a life change or on the verge of one, I offer Life Coaching, guidance and tools to help you make your transition journey smoother. Take the FREE Life Change Assessment by clicking the button below and learn where you are in your cycle of change.
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* Weather analogies used in part from Nature’s Wisdom Deck: A Powerful, Insightful Guide for Exploring Life’s Changes, by Carol L. McClelland, Ph. D.