Life is constantly moving, even when you’re not. Whether you are a stay at home mom, a working mom or a single mom, you may be sitting on the couch nursing a baby, but chances are you’ve also got laundry in the washing machine, dishes in the dish washer, an older child and another and another plus another… doing something they probably shouldn’t be doing and a significant other about to come home hungry with dirty clothes of their own, bringing outside stress and additional tasks for you in their wake. The world is a bounding, ever-moving jumble of chaos that starts with the alarm and ends with baby (and/or however many older kids there are, too) finally passing out only to set an alarm for the next day, full of expectations and responsibilities and feeling pulled in thirty directions at once at all times. Rest happens occasionally, usually when the baby is still at the sitter’s house for a brief 20 minutes on the commute home or when someone else is there to watch them while you take a quick 4 minute shower, opting to shave your legs another day.
There is school, daycare, projects to help with, costumes to make for plays, treats to provide for a class of 30, practices to drive to, adults to speak to and at some point you are supposed to remember to dress them, comb their hair and feed them, then remember to shower, brush your hair, and teeth and remember to put a bra on so you don’t look like a crazy homeless lady carting around a van full of street urchins to whatever task comes next on the list.
The house is a constant reminder of your chaos. Everywhere you step are toys, books, crayons, legos, pieces of things the children should not have gotten into but you didn’t notice until it was too late, the sound of laughing followed by a thud and a wail and you run to make sure no one is bleeding, dying or broken. Every time you put something away, you blink and it magically reappears on the floor with about 20 of its friends. If you take an hour to work on a project that does not involve children, you return to find the house looks like a giant picked up your house, shook it, then return it to its foundation while you were in the other room.
The point is, life is busy. There seems to be no order in the chaos by itself and we constantly feel like we have to control this environment that is an ever-changing tempest of disaster waiting to happen through whatever means possible, from lists to planners, apps for organization and putting into practice the creative genius we witness on mom-blogger YoutTube videos all to be left sitting in a pile of toys, clutter and constant half-completed tasks. We’ve read all the tips on controlling chaos. We’ve watched all the tutorials we can on Pintrest and seen all the photos of perfect toddler/child rooms with little color-coded cubbies filled with just enough toys and supplies to fit each one perfectly and we KNOW that none of those things work for more than a day. We can do all we can to organize and it just erupts again the next day.
It’s unending. It’s nerve-wracking. It’s driving us insane and all we want is a little normalcy, a little peace, a little structure and those things all seem like such distant memories and you’ll sooner find a genii in a bottle than find that place of calm and organization again.
Recently, a friend was drowning in the chaos and about to snap. I told her to go outside, find something nature-ish and just breathe it in. Smell the earth, the green of the plants, the sugar of the nectar in the flowers and just take it in, even if that moment only lasts 5 seconds before something breaks, someone screams or the dreaded “thud – scream” happens. A few minutes later she returned to her chat screen to report that some of her plants had grown and some of her veggies were ready for harvest. Even over chat, I could tell her tone had changed and even though chaos was still happening, she seemed more calm. I thought about asking her, “what would nature do” when she said she was about to go crazy. Before I could type it, I began to realize this might actually be a great topic to write about, so here it is.
What would nature do? Here’s 5 things nature does to help keep chaos at bay. We can all learn a few things from the natural world around us and I believe by applying these basic principles, we can achieve a greater peace even in the midst of chaos.
When gale-force winds sweep over a landscape, the trees and plants that survive are always the ones who can bend. In hurricanes, tornadoes, even tsunamis; when the storm is over, the only thing left standing is the tree, plant, grass that bends. By bending rather than forcing ourselves to rail against the reality of the tide, survival is almost guaranteed.
2- Plant deep roots.
Settle into your world. Your home, your community, your immediate family are both the soil AND the flower. Plant deep roots, deep enough to stand the test of time. Compassion, giving, unconditional love, understanding… these are the roots that build strong foundations. When plants dig deep into the soil, deeper than that first, dusty layer of dirt, they reach the rich, strong, nutrient ground that allows it to survive in times of feast and famine, drought and rain. A plant with deep roots can survive an icy winter, even when everything exposed freezes away because it holds fast to the lifestream- the rich, comforting, powerful soil, so it may return again in the spring.
3- Accept help.
Nature can manage without man, but sometimes it helps to have an added push in the right direction. Plants that struggle accept water from a hose just as graciously as it does from the sky and they will thrive in the sunlight, even if they are placed on a windowsill. They do not hold a grudge for being placed in the pot. They don’t spit out the water they have been given just because it came from a watering can instead of the rain. A plant grows tall after being given additional vitamins just the same as it would in soil rich with those vitamins naturally. A plant accepts the gifts it is given by those who love and care for it and returns that gift by accepting it deep into the fiber of its being and flourishing from them.
4- Use your intuition.
Animals and even plants in nature can sense when things are coming. They feel the vibrations in the air, the ground, the change of temperature in the water. They have a deep understanding of how everything is connected and they react long before the event takes place to ensure their survival. When an earthquake hits, when a tornado touches down, when a storm churns the sea and turns a reef into a big swirling deathtrap, the animals and even some plants brace themselves, make changes to their environments and often seem to have solutions for problems that have not yet happened, such as hidey holes deep in a mountainside or far underground, a stash of food hidden away in a strong tree or a safe, dark spot to hide from torrential rain, waves and winds.
5- Be Resilient
When disaster takes an animal’s home, when a wildfire strikes and destroys an entire forest, when a hurricane pummels a choral reef into sand, animals and plants shiver, take a look at the fallout, pick up the first tool they see and start putting things right back together again. They don’t allow damage, chaos and disaster to phase them, to leave them helpless, homeless or without resource. They find what they need and they rebuild. They are steadfast in their ability to move forward no matter what the situation; be it a polar bear who lost her cubs to wolves, a clown fish who lost his home and reef to a hurricane or an owl who lost his home to a summer wildfire. They rebuild, they replace, they fix and restore.
Next time you are stressed, about to lose your mind in the chaos of your life, just remember – “What Would Nature Do?”, take a breathe, feel the earth below you and the sky above, remember the vastness of this universe and how, even in the midst of insanity, there is life, beauty and strength. Embrace your place in this world, share it with others, breathe deeply, out in the rich sunlight or the gentle breeze of a cool day. Let the flow of the ocean’s waves overpower your ears and allow the power of life itself to breathe new life and energy into you.
What are some things you do to control the chaos in your life? Any tips to survive the insanity that you have found to be successful?