How to Survive and Thrive When A Snow Day Arrives

snow day

There are days that arrive — some anticipated and others landing with an unexpected shock—that can stop us from even walking out our front door. Whether it’s the literal Winter outside our homes or a metaphoric one in our souls, relationships or circumstances, we all have ice storms and snow days that play havoc with our lives.

In the ancient of days, before the weather channel, snow and ice would get to sneak into town more often. You’d wake without warning to a landscape to enchant you, possibly being the answer to a fervent grade school prayer, or to ruin your day, depending on where you needed or wanted to be.

These days, we have somewhat better warning systems for the physical world, but our personal worlds lack automatic systems to alert us to impending storms, times when we must cope with being “iced in”. We have to build those systems ourselves, or at least lay in the supplies and plans for those iced-in times, if we want to turn them into “snow days”. And we all loved snow days when we were kids.

The practice of a positive life encourages us to be prepared for those unscheduled times.  With a little preparation, we can weather being iced in; ready to take advantage of a “snow day”. Just like a physical snow day, getting through the metaphoric counterpart with grace and comfort can depend on prior preparation.

My home sits halfway up a high hill, and is reached by “turning off the main road onto the dirt road, cross the bridge, up the 45- degree inclined one-lane  cement driveway, go about 400 feet up through the woods and around the curve to the right”. It takes little imagination to realize what even a small amount of ice or snow does to our ability to get off the hill. The world can be humming along, roads plowed and scraped, and we’re not going anywhere.

All too often our hopes and plans can be iced in– locked in place by conditions that make it just as impossible to move forward as it is to get down off my hill after an early morning ‘Wintry Mix’.   Its often frustrating or just plain annoying to be unable to get on with what you want and need to do–to have a day’s plan—or worse— a week’s, month’s or  even a year’s worth of plans, dreams and hopes put on hold. How can we weather the storms that will come, sooner or later? How do we turn being “iced in” into a snow day?  There are three basic things to do before your storm season:

1. “Check the weather”

Whatever the type of your plan —financial, social, travel, career, academic, relationship, or personal development— they’ll take place in some sort of environment. Even if that environment is simply your own interior world, it has seasons and patterns. Keep an eye on what’s going on.

If you’re the person who “lives up on the hill”, making sure that the key players in your life understand ahead of time why you may be the one person who can’t – for good reasons—“make it in”  can go a long way in damage control.

2. “Stock up before the storm”

Don’t get caught fighting the crowd for “milk and bread” hours before the storm hits. We all have a pretty good idea of we need when we can’t “get out”.  The equivalents of snow shovels, cocoa and even sleds can be bought and put away for the future.

If you aren’t sure what you need for your plans — sit down and make a list. Your lists might be anything from backup baby sitters to things to do instead of raiding the fridge when your emotional world crashes. Figure out what you need to have on hand, invest in it and let that worry go.

3. “Expect the unexpected”

While you don’t want to empower worry or angst, forecasting can be very useful. What  might come up? What’s your worst-case scenario? What do you – and those around you – do if, say, the power goes off in the middle of an ice storm for more than a day? Or if you and your spouse both lose your jobs at the same time?

Perhaps preparing for the worst may mean allowing yourself to envision losses that would be the “Perfect Storm” of your life. What can you do for yourself and those around you to cope or make ready? These may be so overwhelming to consider that you may wish to get professional advice in making plans to cope with them. It may be as complex as long-term financial planning or as simple as letting your best friend know you’ll be there for them when their storms hit.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…..

Every place has some sort of bad weather; every life has its storms. There is no life so protected, so well-ordered that sorrow, pain, and setbacks don’t occur in some form. “Ice and snow” will show up eventually –now’s the time to do what you can to turn that ice storm into a snow day.

There will be days when you will just have to let it go—you and the plans you thought to carry out on this icy day aren’t going anywhere— but since you did your homework ahead of time, laying in tools and toys for your “snow day”, now’s the time to watch that DVD, build that ship model that’s been quietly waiting, or to call your sister in Florida and tell her all about the fun she’s missing.

Ice and snow are going to show up sometime; but if you prepare, you can take the day for what it is, deal with the change in plans, shovel your real and metaphorical walks, and perhaps enjoy a cup of cocoa, knowing that you did your best, and that Spring is just as inevitable as the snow.

How do you prepare for, and deal with, “snow days” in your life?

11 thoughts on “How to Survive and Thrive When A Snow Day Arrives”

  1. Ruth,

    Thanks for another excellent article. As I said in an email I sent to you, this is a timely post for me. I grew up in Perth, Australia, and I didn’t see snow until I first came to Canada. So the idea of being “snowed in” is still quite new to me.

    This winter in Vancouver we have had the most snow in 40-something years. The city really isn’t prepared for this type of weather, and it has caused a lot of havoc. For example, I live very close to the city and we had to wait over 3 weeks for the snow to melt off the side streets because the council was only clearing snow from the main roads. I have seriously lost count of the number of times my car has gotten stuck, and how many times I have help other people who have gotten stuck, over the past few weeks (side note: it has been a great way to meet the neighbors!).

    What has been evident from the whole experience is how many people aren’t prepared for such events, eg they don’t have snow tires or shovels or extra food in the cupboard. There was even a news story about shovels being sold on Craigslist for exorbitant prices. I must admit I was under-prepared, but I will be ready in the future now that I know it doesn’t just rain here in winter.

    Of course, this just deals with the winter that has been taking place outside my home. I’m also familiar with what you describe as the metaphoric winter that can occur inside one’s soul, but thankfully that hasn’t occurred for some time and it really is a different story….

    Thanks again for the article!


  2. Hi

    I think that what made me wake up to the very real potential of snowy times was my divorce. I certainly hadn’t planned that and all of the repercussions.

    I had to do a great deal of work in a number of life areas and I think that in that whole process I’ve readied myself for future storms – well, to the best of my current ability or awareness.

    Your article has reminded me how important this is. Perhaps I need to have a quick check on the supplies.


  3. At age 53 I moved to Arizona from MI. I never did well in the winters there. So we would dream of a warm climate while raising our children. I’ve been here 1 & 1/2 years and don’t miss the ice, snow, driving, cold, freezing, slush, losing electricity etc.

    It’s suppose to be 7 below in MI Friday and 70 here. That’s how I dealt with it had a plan and worked it. Now we are in paradise.

    I do understand people love winter and snow. I just didn’t.

  4. The location of your home has much appeal to me – away from the hustle and bustle of life. It may sound like an awful lot of preparation work you need to do but I’m betting that it’s worth the trouble.

  5. I always like parables. In your story, you symbolize life with how we deal with bad weathers. In any situation, we should prepare to face the boundaries ahead.
    Great post, Ruth.

  6. This is my first time here but I wanted to say I really enjoyed your article. I am a great believer in the benefits of leading a positive life helping us achieve awareness and gratitude during the good times and reserves of strength and belief for the bad times when we need them most. Thank you sharing this with us!

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