9.13.2011

how to prepare for for life's inevitable difficulties

We went to the zoo last Sunday.

Well, we tried to go to the zoo.

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About an hour away from home, on Alberta's busiest highway, we got caught up in traffic stalled due to an accident about a kilometer down the road.  That is when our car ceased to function.

I like to tell people that while my car isn't pretty, it works pretty good.  Well, I guess that's not entirely true.  It is about fourteen years old, suffers from the scars of vandals, and still shocks people that we can have two kids and a two door sport model, but I like to think in terms of environmental footprint and ability to park in small spaces. 

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Though my car's normal mechanical reliability lapsed, it really doesn't matter what we drive or what precautions we take because that thing that they say happens, happens all the time.

Being stranded for several hours with the kids just outside of Calgary on the south side of Airdrie while The Man sorted out the car and tow got me thinking about what things we do to prepare ourselves for when things don't go according to plan.  Being a mama, I've usually got a snack, a few bandaids, kleenex and a tampon in my bag along with health numbers and an emergency spot of cash.  But, really, none of that was going to help us get through the next few hours and alleviate the children's fear and disappointment. 

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For us, this time we were stuck in the box store district and had no lack of our material needs.  We were actually lunching on sushi and mini cherry pies while watching the tow guys and for vegans having to eat on the roadside, we were pretty darn lucky.

Still, spending several hours in parking lots or cruising Wal-Mart, however, was an incredibly poor and depressing use of time, so the kids and I decided to walk into town a bit and see if we could find a movie theatre or playground.

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This involved a fairly major walk, particularly for such young kids, but both of them were not only up for the walk, they were excited.  Not too long after crossing an incredibly busy and noisy intersection, we discovered Airdrie is actually a lovely, peaceful place.  We didn't find a movie theatre or playground, but we did make the best of it and found much to do and inspire us

We almost forgot we were supposed to be at the zoo instead.

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I was incredibly proud of my kids.  And myself, because I realized that we had taken the much more important steps previously to prepare us for the metaphorical rain on our parade than worrying about whether we packed the umbrella or not.  We were physically and mentally ready for anything.

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So, if case you ever have a broken car or find yourself in bad weather or, heaven forbid, worse, here are some things you could be doing now to make the best of a future bad situation:

- Be in the habit of looking on the bright side and teach your kids how to do it.  A little daily thinking positively practice will help you prepare for when you really need it.  It'll probably make your life better too.

- Be in good health.  Eat well, get enough sleep and stay hydrated.  It's much easier to deal with troubles, and especially with children, when you aren't also desperate for a nap.

- Be in good shape.  You may have to walk.  Maybe far.  And carry kids too.  Having a good baseline of strength and endurance could mean a whole lot one day.

- Condition your children to walk.  There are various ideas about how long a child should be able to walk without assistance (I once read in a Waldorf information packet that a mile per a year old is completely reasonable) but whatever number you come up with, just being able to walk for an extended period of time is a desirable for everybody, children included.  If you can, park the car and walk to the store, library or school instead.  Walk outside every day for at least 30 minutes.  Walk as a family.  In addition to being good exercise, it enhances mental health and can get you more connected to nature and community.  I can't think of a single good reason not to go out for a daily walk.  So do it. 

- Dress comfortably.  How do you know when you should be dressing for disaster?  You don't.  So live comfortably. I'm not going to say what works for you, but you know and should stick to what feels good to you and forget about what is in style this week. Fashion isn't always comfortable and if you are going to be stuck someplace when you least expect it, I'm sure you'd rather be wearing clothes and shoes that are made for living in rather than being looked at in. 

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You can't be prepared for every disaster, but the suggestions above are life enhancing all of their own not just handy bonuses when in an unexpected situation.  I'd like to hear you suggestions too of how to live well whether or not it goes according to plan.

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9 comments:

  1. Great post!I could not agree with you more.

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  2. Yes! A good attitude goes a loooong way.
    ~Michelle
    www.falafelandthebee.com

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  3. Thanks for sharing this post, it kind of gave me positive energy as i am going through troubled times due to lot of domestic issues.

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  4. I liked this one alot (and the last one). Here's my account of something like this that happened not so long ago...
    http://lazuligreen.blogspot.com/2011/06/adventure-on-winters-eve.html

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  5. This is kindof specific, but I'd put on the list "Avoid Debt As Much as Possible"

    When something bad happens, there is so much peace of mind knowing that we have enough to fix the problem, or if we don't have enough right at that very moment, we have credit enough to take care of it and pay it off in good time, not have it hanging over our head for the next months... or years... This is especially true when getting laid off. The less debt you have, that's one less thing to worry about each month when bills come due!

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  6. Had to have a little laugh to myself at this post as it was only last month that the kids and I were in a similar situation! We actually got to our destination when the radiator blew, decided to do a quick bush walk before ringing the 'car guy', took a wrong turn and our little bush walk turned into a 4hr journey, on our return car towed and we started what turned out to be a 4.5hr trip on trains buses and foot trip home....complete with bag loads of 'stuff' from the back of the car!
    We approached the day as an unexpected adventure! Every time another hurdle was put in front of us the kids would announce 'all part of the adventure, hey mum!'
    I too was so proud of my kids and their positive attitude!

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  7. I am new to your blog this morning. i came because I was told I would read lots of sewing tips. but honestly this is the best tip ever. i am reading sheperding a childs heart (don't totally agree with everything) but yesterday we talked about how to help our children deal with failures

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  8. Enjoyed your entry very much! I have been embracing this lesson ever since I had kids! We now dress from the feet up....the right shoes are important, the wrong shoes can ruin your day. Function over fashion always :) So nice to see that your kids accepted the disappointments gracefully and had a remarkable time making an adventure of it. Great post!

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