I seem to remember that the Girl Scouts motto was “Be Prepared”. I like that and, even though I was a Girl Scout for a very brief time, it has stayed with me. I remember collecting badges for completing practical tasks as I learned new skills and found new interests to explore (and let’s not forget the cookies every February). Actually, being prepared is a great motto for living life.
Of course, there are times when all the planning in the world has not prepared for the curve balls that life throws my way. These last several weeks have been an uptick in stress and crisis for me. I’ve had a feeling of being unprepared to navigate a seemingly ongoing storm of urgent requests, crises to manage, and unexpected changes. I keep asking myself if there is some way to be prepared, even for this?
I know that I like preparing – for projects, for travel, for daily meals, and for my regular practices such as meditation, yoga, hiking and writing. I gather materials before starting a project from reading a pattern, testing stitch gauge, to being sure I have the buttons for finishing. For meals, I like to have what I need for making meals ahead because I know I’ll be grazing my kitchen if I haven’t planned and prepared. For my yoga & meditation practices — turn off my phone, lay out my mat with props, choose music, and light candles. My preparations create an ease so that my life is more fulfilling and gratifying.
Most of my preparations have become steadfast habits that guide my day leaving time for spontaneity without my mind obsessing over what to eat or when will I get those stitch markers. Some of my habits have morphed into my personal rituals that are an integral part of my practice or project. Preparing the space, the list, and the plan free my energy for enjoying what I am about to do. I find I can relax more when I have done the preparations. While choosing music, lighting candles and laying out my mat I have already begun my asanas and meditation. After years and years of a daily practice, I no longer need to think about it because the preparing and doing are part of the whole.
So too, when it comes to being happy and healthy — I have practices in place that have created a firm foundation for the rest of my life. Each practice supports those times when plans go awry. The unexpected is not a question of if but the reality of when.
For example, deep yogic breathing is integral to my yoga and meditation practices. After many years, I find myself subconsciously turning to deep breathing when the unexpected happens. The breath helps me relax and clear my mind for addressing what is suddenly present.
Another example is my practice of making lists — I love my lists. So when I need to make big decisions or head out the door for several days, I begin with a quick list. For big decisions, my lists help me weigh in on pros & cons and gain perspective on the whole picture. For travel, a list assures that I travel with most, if not all, of what I’ll need. I find security in my lists — whether a gratitude list or a shopping list — and, like my breath, I can be in the middle of a list before I realize I’ve been making one.
Being prepared when and where I can in my day-to-day is my preparation for the unexpected that is certain to come along and challenge my resilience and fortitude to handle a crisis. When I become overwhelmed by what life is serving me, I know I’ve got daily practices that become my secure river banks in the storm. These storms are part of life with some storms worse than others. What I do daily or regularly are my safety rafts and life vests when I need them for navigating the emergencies and unexpected in life.
Be Prepared — A Good Motto for Life