This winter, Bordeaux’s been hit by some serious storms. Literally.

This is the story of what happened during one of them…

Winds were clocked up to 105kph (65mph) and the rain was coming down so hard on my roof at one point that I was certain the ceiling was going to come crashing down.

As the rain subsided at one point, I heard a strange banging sound. It didn’t stop and it sounded close so I went to investigate.

Our front gate had been blown open, the lock busted.

It was 1 am.

I’m a night owl so, even though I was tired, I was feeling somewhat alert.

The first thought I had was to fix the lock. But, I’m not a locksmith and, even if I had the skillset, I didn’t have the tools.

But, here’s the thing. For some reason, I fixated on this solution. I convinced myself, in that moment, that I SHOULD have had the skill. I got frustrated with myself that I didn’t have the right tools in the garage and with the home supply store for being shut-in the middle of the night so I couldn’t buy a replacement lock.

I sat in the strong winds and started to tornado through worst-case scenarios.

  • Someone was going to break into our house if I didn’t fix it quickly.
  • The wind would blow the entire door off which would cost us lots of money to repair.
  • I would probably have to stay up all night holding the gate closed until my husband woke up to help me.

A car alarm went off a few blocked away which didn’t help.

As I continued to catastrophize, I got really tired and decided that Plan B – to sit in front of the gate holding it closed all night long – was my best option. In my best dramatic Jewish mother fashion, I told the world I would sacrifice myself to save my family.

And, then a better idea came.

To practice what I preach.

To STOP

S for Stop
T for Take a breath
O for Observe what is happening
P for Proceed from a calmer place

It worked!

If I could hold the door closed with my body weight, then surely I could find something in the garden, garage, or house to hold the gate closed.

I grabbed a fire log and a wooden palette that had been lying around since last Spring, waiting to be taken to the dump. I jimmied them up against the door and tested their hold.

It felt like it had been hours but only 10 minutes had passed.

Here’s the thing, the sense of urgency had caused my fear and anxiety to arise.

That’s totally normal. Fear and anxiety are there to protect us.

But, I started to let them lead and that wasn’t helpful.

I had gotten so caught up in trying to find a solution to the unfeasible solution I had come up with – to fix the lock – that I had neglected to search for other, more practical and possible solutions to the original problem.

Has that ever happened to you?

Reminding myself to STOP let me step back into the leadership role.

Next time that you find your thoughts swirling like a tornado, I hope that you remember to stop.

To use one of the mindfulness activities that you have in your toolbox to recenter yourself.

So you can find the solution that will work to move you forward through a situation.

Because remembering to stop will save you so much unnecessary stress!

Trust me.

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