I’m writing this after the 2021 ice storm that blew across the central states, hitting Texas in particular (“after” is a relative term, since so many people are still suffering). It has been…rough. By now, everyone’s heard that Texas’ electrical grid went kaput, and with it, went everyone’s heat. Water lines froze pretty quickly. At one point the weather app was showing that while technically the temperature was 8 degrees, what it felt like outside was well below zero. Three days into it without heat, I woke up colder than I can ever recall being, despite sleeping in five clothing layers and under multiple blankets. Only one water tap was running in the house. Gas was on for the stove, but the ignition was electric. The streets weren’t safe to drive because they were iced over multiple times and even if we had tried to leave, grocery or other supply stores weren’t open. There were not enough warming stations to support everyone who couldn’t keep warm.
And after all that? These are the things that I believe:
I’m incredibly lucky and privileged. Yes, I was cold and uncomfortable, but it never left my mind how lucky we were to be inside, how lucky we were to have food, how privileged we are to have a car that we could turn on and sit in, to warm up.
In a crisis, focus more on what you DO have, than what you don’t. The one running water tap in the house? Grateful for it. The one lighter in the kitchen that would light the stove top so that we could have hot tea? Grateful for it. A full gas tank so that we could go outside and run the car to warm up? Grateful for it. Multiple layers of clothing? Grateful for it. Knowing I’m healthy and strong and can shovel snow? Grateful for it.
People are inherently good. People from our community in California reached out to ask how we were doing and make sure that we were okay. Neighbors went knocking door to door to make sure people had what they needed. When the electricity came back on and the heat came back on with it, pipes expanded and the tankless water heater exploded. Neighbors came to help us shut off the main water and show us how to bypass the tankless and still have access to water at the street level.
Giving back feels better. All of those neighbors who tried to help? They understood this. The best I felt all week was always when I shoveled people’s driveways and checked in to make sure people had food. And I can’t fail to recognize the incredible leadership team for TeamCLCC.com, who stepped in when I didn’t have access to internet, to make sure that everyone in our program was cared for.
Judging people is a waste of time, because we can’t ever really know what someone’s going through. I saw people judging those who were buying a lot of groceries, accusing them of panic buying—but you don’t know what they’re going through. Maybe they had zero food in the house when the storm hit and that full cart isn’t a panic buy, but rather a week’s worth of food for a family. I saw people judging those who were asking if any fast food places were open, as if the person asking was soooo self-centered and lazy to want to eat out during an ice storm—but what if the person asking wasn’t self-centered or lazy? What if that was the only food that person was going to get that day, because they don’t have hundreds of dollars available for stocking a pantry with groceries and they’re purchasing their food day-to-day? I saw liberals from other states judging Texas with “You’re a red state, this is who you voted for, what did you expect?” which is a particularly egregious judgment given that people were, like, dying from all of this. Hopefully, this incident becomes an awakening moment for everyone to work together to create a better energy system. Either way, I’m not a fan of people dying.
Judgment is different than accountability. Judging people involves picking apart someone’s character when it has no actual bearing on your life and it’s done simply to make ourselves feel better, more righteous, more “right.” Accountability is required for those who are in roles they fail to fulfill, and when we see a mis-match between the requirements of a role and fulfillment of a role, we demand accountability. Ted Cruz had a responsibility to be working with the rest of the elected leadership in Texas to make sure that he was helping in any way possible. He was not accountable to his role. He should be removed from office (this isn’t the only reason he should be removed from office, in my opinion, but it’s definitely a big one). #ISaidWhatISaid
This is what we train for. I am tired, and for nearly a week my somatic system was on high alert—stressed, adrenaline up, all of that. Yet, this is what we train for. Times like these are why we “train” in the form of meditation, practicing positive self-talk, regularly facing fears instead of avoiding fears, and establishing courageous habits. This. Is. Why. We. Train. We train when times are better to build emotional resilience and give ourselves a baseline level of strength and fortitude, knowing that when challenging times hit, we will need to draw on that strength when the chips are down. It’s the ultimate win-win: you feel better when you do the things that build you up in your daily life, and, you fare better when things are challenging because you have those practices and habits to rely on. I said this after COVID first hit, and I’m saying it again, now: this is what we train for.
“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training.” —Archilochus. I saw this quote twice within 24 hours from two different sources during the Texas Ice Apocalypse, and the quote itself and its synchronicity hit me between the eyes. What I take this quote to mean is that what we aspire to isn’t how we behave, when under stress—under stress, we fall to our prior conditioning, training, or habits. I see this in myself in the past week. I was, yes, grateful on so many occasions during the week, recognizing how lucky I am to have as much as I do. I was also…resentful, resistant to doing things I needed to do, tired, and irritable. I have prior “training” in the form of conditioning that reacting to the things I can’t control with anger and irritability is a way to feel just a smidge more in control in such situations. It’s a fear-based habit that I spent decades “training in,” and I saw myself going there again, this past week. So, knowing that under stress we will fall to the level of our training, it’s a reminder to me of what *else* I need to train in so that I can show up even better.
Being aware of weaknesses or wanting to strengthen things that are a weakness is not self-harm. It’s not self-harm to be honest about the places where we are weaker and in need of additional training, conditioning, learning, expansion, or growth. If anything, it’s an asset. I don’t need to constantly affirm that I’m good enough, smart enough, and gosh darnit, people like me so that I can shore up my self-esteem. There is freedom in being honest about the places where I don’t suit up and show up, and loving myself anyway, at the same time that I’m committed to showing up better, next time. A commitment to showing up better, next time, isn’t chasing an empty goal or hungry ghost; it’s part of practicing integrity. All of that together is what I base my self-esteem on. I can be humble enough to see where I failed to rise to my own personal expectations and standards for myself, without that meaning that I’m putting myself down.
May we all be willing to take this kind of self-inventory—including ERCOT, Ted Cruz, and everyone in the state of Texas who enacted, enabled, voted for, or propped up a system that would fail so many people.