Surviving the Storms of Life

August in Florida has a daily ritual that Floridians take with a grain of salt. It's the daily storms that pass by and that are filled with more electricity than in a 4th of July fire works display. It's no wonder they call Florida the "Lightening Capital of the World". Because rain clouds can be literally feet away from you and dump a huge storm on the people across the street and meanwhile your side of the street remains dry. It just depends on where you are located at the moment to the degree you get rained upon.

The other day, the clouds were trumpeting and announcing the coming of a storm, or so I thought. Most of the people remained in the pool which totally surprised me. In Charlotte, at the very sound of thunder, we all jumped out of the pool for the next 20 minutes. Here though, they wait for the serious stuff, the lightening. That's what signals to the people here that the real storm is on the way.

The storms here remind me that many people are going through different degrees of their own personal storms. The older I get, I see how life is full of hardships and triumphs. There isn't a time where anyone has just "made it" unless they've died and gone to heaven. Life is full of ups and downs, big storms and tiny rain clouds that we get through with little or no effort.

In my own circle of friends and family, my 28 year old cousin Paul has brain and testicular cancer. He is having the fight of his life in North Carolina while the rest of his family flies out from Oregon to be with him. His girlfriend Christine, has been with him through the whole ordeal. Chemo and radiation treatments are a lot to handle for a young couple.

My brother just found out that he has skin cancer. The prognosis is good, but it seems to come at an unthinkable time. He just sold his house and he and his family have 2 weeks to be out of the house and settled in somewhere new.

My niece's boyfriend is being sent to Kuwait. My good friend just put her mom in an assisted living facility. Another friend is having a difficult time dealing with her new step son. Another friend is trying to find a new career which is proving to be difficult.

Everywhere I turn, I see people dealing with the stress in their lives. It seems that everyone has different degrees of difficulty at different times. But in every case, I see people rising up to help the people who are going through the storms. It seems that we get the strength that we need to help others when they need it. And in our days of difficulties, if we review the rough times we've had, we can see how others have helped us through as well. Maybe it was just a kind word. Maybe we took our friends kids for the afternoon if they were at their wits end. Or maybe we helped someone financially in their darkest hour.

If you read any motivational book, any bible or religious work, we should know now that we are here to serve. We are here to help others through their rough times. We are supposed to help those less fortunate than us and those who need a helping hand. And what about those people who always seem to be enduring difficulties? Perhaps they are in our lives to teach us a lesson. Perhaps we can be a constant reminder to them that supportive people are a blessing in our lives.

When I consider complaining because I sprained my ankle this week or that I'm now squashed into an apartment while we find a house, I'm reminded about the people who are really suffering. I may be having some of those inconvenient rainy days where it's thundering, but the lightening hasn't hit. We're all healthy. We're talented and we have friends and family that love us. We have our whole life ahead of us.

For my friends who are in the thick of the storm, I know that I can reach down deep and help them somehow. I know that I can send a card, an email, or even send up prayers on their behalf.

I know that this is how you build self esteem in people. I know its how you get people thinking about how great their own lives are. Just get them to start helping others and soon, their own attitudes have shifted to a sense of gratitude.

Who can you help today? What kind word can you give to a person today? Do you have any extra money this month that you can send to a needy family member, like a college student?

How about your neighbors? Is there anyone quietly in need that you've sensed that a warm cooked meal can help? Did anyone lose their parents to death? Can you send them a card? Is there a mother struggling with a difficult teenager? She just might need a word of encouragement and not another piece of criticism.

In our media driven society, it seems that if you're not 25, gorgeous and on TV, then you're not a star. But in REAL life, as a member of a community, each person can be the star to those around them. And there is no better feeling, then to be able to actually help someone else.

And when the thunder and lightening come into your own life, you'll be ready. The thunder won't bother you much, and for as for the lightening, you'll get a chance to see how awesome your family and friends really are. They'll step up to the plate and surround you with care.

What a beautiful place to be, in the eye of the storm.

Mary Gardner is an Executive Communications Consultant and Coach. She works with, coaches and trains individuals, sales teams, executives, and celebrities. She enjoys seeing the best come out in people and has fun in the process. Mary is married to Sway and is mommy to Jeremy 5 and lives in Orlando, FL.

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