When I go out to do observations and quality assessments for youth programs, one of the first things that we look for is their emergency procedures which should be posted in plain view. Emergency procedures let people know which way to go in order to stay safe in the midst of chaos.
We've become so desensitized that we fail to realize that we are in the midst of a state of emergency. When we look at the messages in the media and popular culture, the literacy rate, the economy, mental illness and all of the things that are going on around us, it's a wonder that we haven't all given up.
Since we are in such a state, we need a plan of escape in order to keep our sanity. Here are some procedures that I suggest you practice in order to keep you grounded, balanced and essentially safe...
Self-Care: I've begun to spoil myself because with all of the work and travel that I do, I need to re-build, re-energize and replenish regularly. I get professional massages, pedicures, hairstyling, eye brow arching and personal fitness training on a regular basis. This is a huge change because a few years ago I hardly ever treated myself to any of these things that I now consider necessities. I consider them as such because in order to continue to give my gift to the world in the way that God wants me to, I need to make sure that my cup is not only full but overflowing. What do you, or can you do to increase your focus on self-care?
A Financial Plan: I've come to realize that poverty is a mindset...one to which I have been trapped in for many years and still struggle to be released from the grips of. If we are not focused on financial literacy we tend to spend more than we save, give more than we have, and live well beyond our means, often struggling from pay check to pay check. Now is the time to begin to think about how you might get your finances in order in such a way that you are prepared for the emergencies that can and do emerge every day. Even if it as simple as an old school piggy bank, put aside a little money every day and invest in something that will yield a return. In what ways can you strengthen your financial practices?
A Confidante: Quite simply, you need someone that you can talk to or confide in. My suggestion is that God be the first, but you need someone that you can talk to who you can trust and that is an active listener. When I say active listening I mean not just hearing what you are saying, but truly listening, remembering, empathizing, knowing when to be silent and knowing when to practice self-control. We don't always want someone to offer the solutions, the lectures, or the shoulda's, ought to's, and need to's....we simply need someone who will just listen without judgment, yet be honest and hold us accountable for the goals and plans that we share with them. Who is your confidante? If you don't have one, identify one...if no one meets the requirements...God is always on deck.
A Place of Peace: In an actual emergency, this would be a fallout shelter or some other place that would keep you safe in the midst of a natural disaster or act of terror. The things that we deal with in our everyday lives are just as real and we often need to take cover to reflect and regroup.
It's also important to keep in mind that your environment has a huge impact on your state of mind. I've noticed that my physical environment often reflects my mindset. When I am at peace, my space is clean, organized and creatively decorated. When I'm out of sorts, my place looks like it's been hit by a tornado. If you don't have access to a little cabin or some other serene get away, then your home or at least one space in your home should be your place of peace.
Designate a spot, or if you have a loft like me where everything is in one big space, design it in a way that brings you the serenity that you need. If candles and incense are your thing, then make it happen. As much as possible keep your space clean and clutter free. I personally discourage unannounced or uninvited guests because I know that's what I need for my own sanity. Pick your space, design it to your liking and set your standards and boundaries. Everyone should have their very own place of peace to retreat to in tumultuous times.
So today, I encourage you to write, or mentally devise the first draft of your emergency procedures or escape plan. What are your top three self-care practices? What is your financial plan? Who is your confidante? Where is your place of peace? Write them, type them, put them on a poster board....do whatever works best for you and post them in plain view.
There is no need for a drill like those we used to do in school to practice what we might do in the event of an emergency because the time is now. Device your escape plan and your emergency procedures and practice them regularly.