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Friday, October 29, 2010

When Disaster Strikes Webliography/Bibliography

Disaster/Disruption Webliography
2 factsheets from Mental Health America:  Coping with Bereavement

CDC on disaster, terrorist attack, or other public health emergency

For disruption: Harvard prof. Rosabeth Moss Kanter's equation: MTBS = or < MTMD. MTBS is the mean time between surprises, which is shrinking. MTMD is the mean time to make a decision, which better be fast.  Her 4 strategies are Backup; Communication; Collaboration; Values and principles.  These tend to be more organizational than personal and emphasize planning ahead for "surprises."

Problems within an organization's changes

******  General purpose articles
“Change is inevitable; growth is optional.”—Bumper sticker, author unknown. (has a seasonal metaphor)  (The elements that help are worth cultivating; unfortunately this repeatedly leads the reader into a therapeutic situation -- worthwhile if needed, but doesn't suggest ways to do it without therapy.)


In the earlier section of suggestions, Rabbi Harold Kushner's classic book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People  was suggested to me.  Currently Amazon lists it as 4 stars after 171 reader reviews.  A lot of people have found this book useful.

Similarly I found the most help from books with a Biblical viewpoint.  If you consider this a bias, so be it, but I've learned over the years when things are at crisis stage all around me, it's time to look up. (Remember that daughter with brain surgery among other severe problems?) The Bible's little book of Psalms is a great place to start.  These "songs" often express great frustration mixed with praise for help from beyond the world around us.

Beyond Chaos: Stress Relief for the Working Woman by Sheila West includes setting up a special plan to reduce your stress and to understand stress so it can be positive.  Her personal insights and focus on ways to accept chaos without letting it control or damage health earned Zig Ziglar's forward and, recently on the internet, he called it a classic and I agree.  I also suggest it's not just for "the Working Woman" even though West's view came from that background.

Only after the worst of my own chaos was subsiding did I remember having read Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear  by Max Lucado.  It's a great book in many ways, including but also way beyond my specific situation.  I recommend this for the variety of chapters touching on many types of problems and crises. The breadth of coverage doesn't negate how Publishers Weekly says its "precision speaks healing words that cut right to the heart."  It's one of those books you find yourself also wanting to give to other people so they can appreciate it, too.

Like any "bibliomaniac", there's always more to read.  Just found another interesting book on my shelf, When the Squeeze Is On; Growing Through Pressure by Martha Thatcher.  Again checking Amazon's reviews, I'm intrigued by this book's breadth of topics and ways of coping with life's pressures through Biblical biographical studies.  Unfortunately, while the book is available through Amazon, it's no longer in print, so it will be harder to obtain and I didn't find it MeLCat, Michigan's listing of books available within the state for interlibrary loan.


This concludes my First Aid Kit for the various problems that may interrupt life.  I'm sure it won't resolve all problems, but I hope it helps.  Stories, by their very nature, have problems that must be resolved.  I look forward to researching whatever your storytelling program may need and helping your audiences see problems in a new way.


You may also find the conclusions reached on the anniversary of our disaster at When Disaster Strikes One Year Later worth checking.

When Disaster Strikes - Individual Ideas

These ideas came from only one person, but often it was a person who had been through disasters as bad or worse than my own.  Everybody has something to contribute, so I want to be sure and offer these since we all have different things that work for us.
  • Some people work better alone; some work better with company, do whatever works best for you.
  • Get a colleague to be a sounding board and do the same for that person; listen regularly to how much each of you have accomplished and give affirmations for that, but don’t tell each other how to do things.  Knowing you won’t be judged, but will be reporting, means you’ll accomplish more.
  • Your work may drop, especially if you have no staff to take over for you.
  • Put everything related to the problem out of your mind for a time.
  • Keep track of what you have done.
  • Read When Bad Things Happen to Good People - this will appear in the Bibliography/Webliography final segment.
  • If you seem to go beyond ordinary upset into Depression, see somebody credentialed and, if you have medication, take it.
  • Send a group email telling what happened to as many as possible / take every opportunity to write or tell others. -- As a storyteller, who usually doesn't tell personal stories, at first this felt like I was making excuses.  Do it anyway.  You and other people benefit from understanding why you are acting the way you are.  You may think you are acting normally, but it will help others understand why you are NOT.
  • Tell yourself “This may be awful today, but will make a great story someday.”
  • Accept that some days are just bitter, but some days are sweet or simply bland.
  • Know it will get better.
  • My favorite mantra: Sooooooooo watt (that came from a storytelling friend who worked through a fire in her home); another said over and over: Nothing is happening in this moment that I can’t handle – relax and believe it will all be as it should be in time.
  • Soothing music / hum, chant, sing.  In contrast to that, yet another suggested finding some times for silence.  (During those first weeks we found the ROAR! of the fans and drying machines overwhelming.)
I haven't always counted as much on these, but that doesn't mean I didn't try them in some cases.  I did pay extra attention to anybody who had experienced a similar event or worse.  Just trying an idea can be helpful as it means you are making an effort towards resolving your problem.


You may also find the conclusions reached on the anniversary of our disaster at When Disaster Strikes One Year Later worth checking.

When Disaster Strikes - FREQUENT Suggestions

When I asked my fellow storytellers what suggestions they could offer, this is a list of suggestions given by more than one person. 
  • The most often given suggestion was to take breaks in NATURE and fall into rhythm with nature.  I live in a setting where I thought I already was doing this until my husband, Tom, and I had to travel to the north tip of the Michigan "mitten."  It was a work-related trip, but it was also just as autumn's colors were popping out in all their glory.  We returned to our Chaos Central and it didn't take long to return to all the insanity, but we still talk about our gratitude for that trip.
  • Do whatever gives you a sense of well being (chocolate, dinner, a movie, reading, time with an upbeat friend, pets, physical activity etc.) and renews rather than drains you.
  • Get away for short bursts.
  • Do small jobs and focus on 1 accomplishment at a time.  (In our particular Chaos there is a seemingly endless supply of such jobs, listing what was destroyed, and, eventually, putting things back in order.)
  • Try to keep a regular schedule.  My work isn't regular.  Normally I thrive on that, but during a crisis, times subbing in the library felt like a vacation!  Added to that, I found a dance class or rehearsals for a coming show were a help.  It felt insane to do any of this, but it was helpful to have this regularity already on my schedule and it also forced me to really concentrate on something different.
  • Journal, especially gratitude – nightly list 5 things for which you are grateful.
  • Cry. (Giving yourself permission means you won’t have to do it too often.)  I am NOT a person who cries easily.  It was hard for me to do this.  It finally came in church.  I use sign language as I sing as it helps me think about what I'm singing.  I found I became both fierce and tearful as God challenged me to trust His support.
  • Let go a little…it’s o.k. to be overwhelmed and not give yourself a hard time about it; you have grieving to do (possessions also hold meaning and saying goodbye is important).
  • Laughter and humor, even if dark, is needed.  Personally I've always considered humor a major weapon in my toolbox for any problem.
  • See the benefits: After a big CA earthquake, a woman said in an NPR interview that at first she was very sad, especially about photos and special mementos, but then she realized she could put all her remaining “stuff” in her car and be free to travel anywhere.  
Speaking about benefits: I do NOT recommend my type of Disaster as a way to renovate, but it did have that benefit.  Unfortunately I like my surroundings to require minimal attention.  I do NOT have a Decorator gene and am not somebody who moves furniture about for a change of pace.

  • Exercise and eat a well balanced diet of healthy food.  Disasters are by their nature stressful.  You also are more prone to accidents then and it's easier to get sick.  I remember a broken leg happened in our family when a daughter had brain surgery.   As for strained muscles, right now I'm blaming all the heavy moving, but tension may have also played a part. 
That's the suggestions I heard from more than one person.  The next section will have ideas offered by only one person, but still may help you.


You may also find the conclusions reached on the anniversary of our disaster at When Disaster Strikes One Year Later worth checking.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Stories for When Disaster Strikes

Here are three stories matching the disaster theme, but your specific Coping with Chaos theme might need more if I was designing an actual program for you.  I might consult resource books like Margaret Read MacDonald's Storytellers Sourcebooks and the various volumes of Index to Fairy Tales that offer specific subject indexing.  Another great source is Story-lovers S.O.S. put together from the suggestions of fellow storytellers on the international storytelling email list, Storytell.  Two sections there most likely to be useful are "Emotions" and "The Human Condition", but webmaster, Jackie Baldwin, also has a search feature for the site.

The two tales my fellow storytellers agree fit When Disaster Strikes will follow, but by now you may wonder what was my own personal disaster. 

A $4 Part
It all began a year and a half ago when my husband updated our toilet with a $4 part.  We were away from home for two days and returned to a flooded house!  The part had broken, sending six inches of water into a basement loaded with storage, especially books and clothes, and ruining the flooring and drywall in our bedroom, two bathrooms, the hall, and our linen closet. 

The typical question asked at this point has to do with our insurance coverage.  The answers aren't simple.  Months earlier we had seen our agent to assess any possible gaps in our coverage. We were told we had "102% coverage."  Sounds good, doesn't it?  Unfortunately he didn't catch a change to our policy leaving us with only the depreciated value of our personal property.  So most items were worth 20 cents on the dollar.  Yes, our "structure", the things that put together our house like drywall and carpeting were covered, but our belongings were not.  It did us little good to hear things like "I don't even sell policies like that.  I send anybody wanting only that kind of coverage to somebody else." or "Ultimately it's the policy holder's responsibility."  So much for his assessment.

I could say a lot more about what happened, but will summarize and leave room for the other two stories.  ServPro did a great job of draining the basement (we started, but it was more than we could do) and moving our belongings, both our warehouse of a basement and our bathrooms and bedroom.  The bedroom went into our living room, so it was right there facing you whenever the front door opened!  For two weeks we lived with the roar of pumps and dryers.  For about a month and a half we lived in the midst of construction.

Our re-builders, Above Board, lived by their name, both in their workmanship and our confidence in giving them access to the house even when we were away.  By the time they were almost finished, I felt like a homeowner on This Old House getting the summary of work.  They've gone now and we're trying to put our belonging back where they belong.  Getting dressed is still an adventure as things were boxed and moved often without our decisions.  Things needed to move and move quickly!  At times clothing was sealed up to protect it, some went in a spare room, some on a table or rack in our garage, or around the living room/bedroom.  Finding that pair of shoes, blouse, or earrings took creativity! 

Hours doing laundry at the laundromat, where there were extra large washers and dryers, are starting to fade into memory.  It will take a long time for the pain of listing ruined loved books and clothes to fade.  People were mainly supportive, but the comment about turning off the water before leaving home wasn't.  The damage might have been a bit less, but still a lot if we'd been gone just for a day of storytelling.  In summary, I definitely would NOT advise this as a way to get your house remodeled!

So much for my own personal cautionary tale.

It Could Be Worse
When this happened a folktale, often attributed to Eastern European Jewish tradition, popped into my mind immediately.  No matter how bad your disaster, let this story's title help remind you that somehow "It Could Be Worse."

The briefest way I can tell this:
A man finds the noise and confusion from his children, pets, and wife in a tiny house drive him crazy.  He goes to see the village wise man or rabbi.  "Get your ____" (I like to let my audience suggest the barnyard animals) "and bring it into the house."  The man is puzzled, but does as he is told.  Of course the animal is noisy, messy, and a major problem, so he goes back for better advice.  He's told "It could be worse" and again given the suggestion "Get your ____ and bring it into the house."  The man is puzzled, but does as he is told, adding this different animal to the previous one for even more noise, mess, and problems.  Back he goes, this time hoping for better advice.  Again he is told, "It could be worse.  Get your ____ and bring it into the house."   He is puzzled, but once again does as he is told since everybody agrees this is the wisest man in their area.  Of course, the animals, children, pets, and his wife altogether create a house filled with noise, fur, feathers, and . . . well, much worse!  At last he can stand it no more and returns to complain about this insanity!

The wise man smiles and says it is now time to put the barnyard animals back where they belong and clean up the house.  This happens and the house is now filled with the peaceful sounds and smells of his family and their pets and a happy man who knows...It Could Be Worse.

Solomon's Ring
One of the reasons I treasure the networking of storytellers on the email list, Storytell, and also the "social" network Professional StorytellerWikipedia there are various versions, but I'll retell it briefly as it has been most often told to me.

Long ago in the days of King Solomon, the king gathered his wisest advisers and requested a ring that would grant great power; a ring with words having the ability to make someone sad happy, but also someone happy sad.  At last he received such a ring and the powerful king regretted his request.  Engraved upon the ring were the words able to change his happiness to sadness, but also whenever he was sad, could help bring him happiness.  Those words were: This, too, shall pass.

Those three stories, of course, are just the start.  I love creating storytelling programs around a theme, it certainly could be something to fit a particular disaster, with stories added to fit your specific disaster.  That said, I would hope to be able to bring enjoyment and stories on happier occasions, too.

I hope you will also read the sections on suggestions for When Disaster Strikes.


You may also find the conclusions reached on the anniversary of our disaster at When Disaster Strikes One Year Later worth checking.

When Disaster Strikes First Aid Kit

November is a month dominated by the Thanksgiving holiday.  What do you do when circumstances make it hard to be thankful?

Whether it's worry over health of your own or someone you love, a disaster, the irritation and difficulties of dealing with construction, whatever has you Coping with Chaos, this month I want to create a First Aid Kit for whenever you may need it.  This is a bit more personal than I expect most posts here, as my own personal need caused me to create this month's topic.  It also will not be a single post as I will break it into more than one segment.

As a storyteller I will start with stories, my own and others that fit this topic.  The other stories were also popular with my fellow storytellers when I asked them to suggest ways to Cope with Chaos (especially my own).  The next segment will explore suggestions most frequently mentioned.  After that I will add a variety of suggestions not offered by more than one person, but all may help.  Finally I'll list and discuss briefly some helpful books and give a webliography of helpful internet sites.

You may not need this First Aid Kit now.  That's o.k., just know it's here for when you, or someone you know, may need it.

You may also find the conclusions reached on the anniversary of our disaster at When Disaster Strikes One Year Later worth checking.