The Santa Anas wreaked absolute havoc in our yard.
Do you ever get tossed by “Devil Winds” in your life?
Here in Southern California, our Santa Ana Devil Winds lately tossed everything pell-mell and pummeled our back yard with leaves, branches and chaos. I felt the same inside. I am absolutely terrified by the sound, the shaking glass of the windows and the looming threat of our neighbor’s untrimmed swaying giant of a tree that moans, snaps and bends over us like Godzilla stalking Tokyo.
The gigantic tree behind our house is terrifying in the wind. It belongs to our neighbor and so we have no control over getting it trimmed.
This is an actual physical threat that disrupts my sleep as our room is located on the second floor, with only a flimsy roof between us and it. Our sturdy house that has withstood earthquakes with ease, feels like a folded paper boat among the swells of a tidal wave. Our cats go crazy, I go crazy, and only Mark remains calm, having lived his entire life with Santa Anas.
Physical Vs. Emotional Fear
Since the terror comes from a physical source, I can take what steps I can. I move into our quest room, which doubles as my sound studio. This feels safer as it is an interior room on the first floor, cocooned by the rest of the house and has the added benefit of sound blankets shielding me from the racket.
Disaster may very well still strike, but taking action has helped my compulsive mind deal with the fear.
Later on I pondered my reaction and realized that emotionally, I also have phantom Santa Anas that pummel my emotions and self-esteem. And I try to do the same as I did with the physical threat. I hole up, safe from the scary world by isolating, distracting with food, diet thoughts or endless hours watching reruns of Survivor.
When is Safe not Safe?
In our fight or flight world, I used to be self-programmed for flight. Avoid people who might make me feel badly, avoid situations where I might fail. Cover up feelings. Don’t admit the wind is out there. Stay safe under the emotional sound blanket provided by Robot Aliens. Cocoon like a swaddled baby using ice-cream as a thumb to suck.
Trouble is, by holing up and denying my emotional fear, I didn’t go out and experience the world or my possible part in it. I always assumed I was no good. I always felt that good things came by luck or via the auspices of others and that bad things were what came from me.
How could I ever learn differently if I never tried?
Fear is real
These days we can experience fear in real life, like I do from the looming tree, we can experience it in movies and VR, we can also experience it in the prison of our mind and habits. Like well done VR, the prison of our mind feels real. Our heart pounds just as hard. Our palms sweat. Our warning bell voices caution or berate us.
How do we overcome and break out?
First, by admitting we feel it. Whoa, there Laurie, that is SCARY. Yep, it is. But which is scarier? Never being you in the world, never getting to experience life? Or letting a feeling flow through you?
Just because you feel it, doesn’t mean it’s permanent.
Second, take one small step toward your goal or wish or dream. Search for an online writing group. Find a singing teacher. Research charities that could use your help. Find a recipe that you would enjoy eating.
Thirdly, imagine the step after that. Signing up for the writing group, contacting the singing teacher, picking the charity that most speaks to you, writing down a shopping list for the recipe. Sit with this for awhile. Is it overwhelming? Is the tree still looming? Imagine the next step every day until it feel familiar. It might take weeks or minutes.
Then take that next step and repeat.
It also works for hard conversations, for inner work, for allowing yourself to feel what’s real for you.
Devil Winds are not easy, inside or out, but you are worth the risk to discover how to fly despite them.
With some work, thanks to Mark, peace and Zen is restored to our backyard