Friday, November 2, 2012

Hurricane Sandy and a Personal Note

I grew up in New Hampshire, in the foothills of the White Mountains, and have many fond and not so fond memories of living in a semi-rural area. One of the lingering recollections was walking to school in snow storms. And we had many. I recall feeling somewhat like a pioneer, a brave young kid, capable of dealing with any foul weather. I was tough. I don’t remember schools ever being called off-for any reason. In fact, the phrase ‘snow day’ was not in existence during those times. My mother just bundled up my sister and me, making sure we were adequately dressed for arctic conditions, handed us our lunch, and kissed us good-day. My father had already left an hour before to open the store, shovel the side walk so that customers could get in, and make sure the pipes hadn’t frozen. The notion of not going to school or not opening the store didn’t exist.

Enter Hurricane Sandy or any other likely weather disaster. As I listened to the warnings of staying home and hunkering down, I wondered, ‘What is the big deal? It’s just another storm- a little bigger than most and the eye isn’t even coming to Boston and the trains and buses are still running.’ (at 6:30 am). With the mindset of my New Hampshire upbringing, I got dressed and walked to the bus stop for my trip into the office. At the same time, my staff and colleagues were calling me to find out if the office was open, should they come in, what would happen if it got worse. There was apprehension and wondering.

Now, I am no longer the 8 year old, unthinking pip squeak who walked to school, regardless of the weather. I am, after all, an Executive Director, responsible for staff. People look to me for guidance, for direction, for answers. My standards and ideals lead me to straighten up, get going, look directorial, eliminate any whining about the weather. These are my standards and ideals-the shoulds. However, the ‘shoulds’- my standards and ideals- can get in the way, especially, of respect for other peoples’ fears and concerns, particularly about safety. My staff and friends were absolutely correct in wondering about my position. I was not taking into consideration their considerations. So, again, I find myself reconsidering long held beliefs and practices. Re-examining positions I have held. Wondering about what is right, what is ideal, what is truth and what is possible. The Sandy Storm gave me another reminder about being open, about questioning what is the truth. The personal journey continues. Right now, my next step is to meet with staff about reviewing the ‘storm day’ policy. It used to be, “If Filene’s Basement is open then NASW is open.” Time for a new ‘look-see.’

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