HOW DO WE PICK UP THE PIECES AFTER A DISASTER?

When a landslide destroyed our home several years ago, I had no idea how to pick up the pieces.  I learned.  The biggest lesson I took away from it is that we are not alone.  Everyone has significant setbacks in their lives.  How we handle them is what matters.  The good news is that we can turn things around.

Our journey began when I discovered that a landslide had torn through our home.  At first, I was in full blown emergency, reactive mode.  This is where you think on your feet, checking to make sure everyone is okay, dealing with true emergencies, calling for help and getting to safety.

I wasn’t functioning very well at that point.  I was running around trying to figure out what had happened and who to call for help.   In our case, friends from church helped me that first night.  One of the women took me to her house.  Church members gathered to sit with me.  We shared some snacks, had a cup of coffee, talked about what had happened, and finally put me on a sofa to get some sleep.  It’s important to get that time to decompress and take in what has happened.

In the morning, my husband returned from out of town and we met at the house.  The fire department had been there and told him that the house was condemned – red tagged.  It was a staggering moment.  Nature provides a defense mechanism – shock.  It cushions you from the blow, but also blocks your ability to think clearly for a bit.

During this period of uncertainly, you’ll need to summon your inner strength.  A mentor of mine, Susan Crum, calls it G.R.I.T.  It helps to tap into your faith, resilience, inner direction and tenacity.  After Susan shared that with me, I added the word TRUE – the reason underlying everything.  To me, that meant drawing upon our sense of purpose in the moment.   That along with a strong faith in something larger than ourselves gave us the resilience, motivation and persistence to deal with what lay ahead.  It also helped us look ahead rather than be drawn back into the disaster.

Your natural instinct is to re-establish routines as soon as possible, especially with kids.  Something about the structure and normalcy of daily habits helps you believe you can get through anything.  And the actions involved also help prevent depression and fear.  A psychologist at church gave me my first list of suggested daily actions:  sleep 7-9 hours daily, eat well, exercise and breathe deeply, laugh, learn, talk, help others, say thank you and surround yourself in beauty, prayer and meditation.

With a structure to your day, you can begin the process of moving forward.

  1. Focus on what you most want next. This is not about your most forward looking goal or life purpose.  It’s about what you need right now.  So in our case, we knew we wanted to get our own home again.  Our animals were all over the San Fernando Valley and we wanted to be together again.  That gave us focus.  We had research to do to find out how we could do this, and we came up with a plan.  It helps to begin thinking forward, away from any negative experiences.
  2. Take an inventory – what do you have with you, what you have left where you were, what skills do you have, who can you call, that sort of thing. Even if you have lost all of your physical belongings, you have talents, abilities and resources.
  3. Grab a pen and start to journal. Allow your mind to yield up its treasures, ideas.
  4. Find all the resources that are available to you in your area. Reach out for help.

Once you have even the beginning of a plan, you can pick an action and take it.  Look for at least one thing you can do today to move closer to your goal – to feel the way you want to feel when you achieve it.  You want to feel that way NOW, not in the distant future.  Take action.  Do something that helps you feel that way right now.  These actions will continue evolving.

I found it helped to start with what lifted my spirit.  Seeing our family back together again came first.

In addition to knowing how you want to feel when you get what you want, imt’s also important to know WHY you want what you want.  These feelings are the energy of your blueprint to bounce back.

Write down your plan.  Draw a mind map of what you will be doing and then work that plan every day.  Keep at it.  Keep sowing the seeds.  Persist.

For us, these were small steps in the beginning.  It was important to stay focused and keep track of our progress.  It helped to surround ourselves with other supportive people.  As we got back on our feet, we took on bigger projects.

Be kind to yourself.  This doesn’t happen in a moment. And it doesn’t necessarily happen smoothly.  Humans are messy creatures.  We carry a lot of baggage with us.  If you get stuck – which I did – you need to take a look at what’s stopping you.  Use meditation, centered prayer, walks in nature, art and music to connect with your Highest Self.   Then ask for clarity in your purpose and guidance.  Look at your belief systems.  What you are telling yourself can throw a monkey wrench in your plans.  It helps to have people to talk with – a community group, a coach or counsellor, a master mind group – people who love you unconditionally and believe in you before you can believe in yourself.   You may have to do this on your own, but you do not have to do it alone.

The sooner you can get in touch with your purpose and create a plan to follow, the faster you will bounce back.  Those first steps toward feeling better turn into bigger things.  It’s important to celebrate those steps in a positive direction and revise your plan as you see new things emerging.

When we stop dwelling on the negatives, excuses and pain…when we stop telling ourselves or others the negative story, we can start writing a new positive story.  After a disaster or significant setback, you have an opportunity to discover a new story.

It’s not unusual to discover that YOU have changed.  What you value changes.  You may be motivated to accomplish something greater and do something that makes a difference to others.  Embrace it.  It is possible to be blessed by disaster.  It is possible to find rainbows over ruins.  You can bounce back from setbacks.

About the Author:  Susan Sherayko is a 3 time Emmy nominated executive in charge of production for a daily morning show, mindset coach and author, “Rainbows Over Ruins” in which she shares her journey after a landslide destroyed her home.  For more information on how to pick up the pieces after a disaster, check out Your Survivor’s Guide: 12 Tips to Gain Inner Peace available FREE at http://www.GiftFromSusan.com

 

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HOW WELL WILL YOU REBOUND AFTER A DISASTER?

How prepared are you to rebound after a full blown natural disaster with catastrophic consequences?

I wasn’t prepared when it happened to me.  I left for work on a rainy day and came home to find a landslide had gone through my house.  The fire department arrived and “red tagged” the house, indicating that the structure was condemned.  They allowed us to grab a few things. We rescued and slowly rebuilt our lives.

Are you prepared for the tornado that rips through your home town?  Or the mudslide that sweeps away everything you own?  Or the fire, flood or earthquake that drives you from your home for days or even weeks?     Although these disasters are different, they have some things in common.  They are all encompassing –they affect you physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  They come fast, unexpectedly and you slip into survival mode.

Each and every one of us will face major setbacks.  The question is not so much “if” it will happen, but how well you will handle it.  The good news is that you can train yourself to respond quickly in an emergency, on automatic pilot, and provide yourself a solid support structure to help you rebound as quickly as possible.

WHAT PHYSICAL PREPARATIONS CAN YOU MAKE?

Make a checklist of what you might need for a variety of time frames or in different scenarios.  Numerous examples are available from the Red Cross, FEMA and other online sites.  We’re talking the basics.  Medicine.  First Aid.  Food.  Water.  Shelter.  Clothes.  Games. Tools.  Computer.  Communication.  Finances.  Fuel.  Power. Skills to barter.

At the very least, pack a couple emergency To-Go bags.   We never know when disaster will strike or where you will be so it’s a good idea to have one at home, one at work and one in each of your vehicles.  The bags you grab as you escape should include a first aid kit, any medications needed by you, your family, your pets; food and water, critical items such as your computer, cell phones, contacts, money, batteries, and flashlights.

If you have enough time, you can think through what you will need for more than an overnight stay.  How will you prepare food?  How much water can you carry?  Do you have a life straw to purify water once you run out?  What will you sleep on?  Where will you go?  Who can you stay with?  What clothes will you need?  What tools and protective gear might prove helpful?  What about credit cards?  How will you pay the bills if you are gone for a while?  Do you have enough fuel?

Start thinking through “What If “scenarios and do some “If – Then” Planning.  This is a great exercise to do with your family, friends and community.  What would you need for a few hours, 3 weeks, or to rebuild?  Do you have an escape route?  Transportation?  What if someone or something is injured?  Do you have a first aid kit?  Do you know how to use it?  In some cases, you’ll need to stabilize a situation before you can move.  Can you call for help?  How can you get to safety quickly? What are you going to take with you?

Start making your lists and gathering those things long before it’s an emergency.  Even if you don’t have to leave your home, you may need this kind of preparation if services are not available for a time.  Fuel, heat, stoves, light, power and water services can all be disrupted.  Most of our lives are connected to power in some way.  What will you do without it?   Can you generate it?

Practice new skills you may need so that you can react automatically if a situation presents itself.  Take advantage of classes to learn first aid and CPR or how to use tools.

HOW CAN YOU PREPARE BEYOND WHAT YOU HAVE OR CARRY WITH YOU?

Prepare for longer situations.   Once the food, water and cash run out, what do you do?  Being prepared for long term situations gives you confidence and helps you bounce back more quickly.  Do things to be more resilient. Fear and a sense of devastating loss accompany disasters.  Being ready and able to face challenges dissipates fear.  Being ready to jump in and help others helps you as well.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO BE MORE RESILIENT?

Have a supportive routine that you can re-establish as quickly as possible after a disaster.  Routine, daily actions help us keep our sanity.  The following list is recommended to prevent depression during a crisis : exercise, eat well, sleep 7-9 hours, find something to laugh at every day, talk to someone you can share your thoughts with, learn something new, be in beauty or meditate, and be of service to someone else.

Learn a skill that you can trade for necessities.  Learn carpentry, something manual.  Plan your finances around diversification — from where you store your records to multiple sources of income.

Get physically fit, manage your weight.  Eliminate bad habits so they won’t be in your way.  You may need your body to sustain you through some touch terrain.  Join a hiking group or a sporting team.

Get active in your community.  You want to know the people in your immediate area so you feel comfortable calling them in difficult times.  Know what your local government has in place.  Know how you can be of help to others.   Take part in survival and other community preparedness days.

Do things with your family.  Play problem solving games; schedule times when you don’t have anything electric with you.  Play games that have a winner and a loser.  Resilience develops in the face of failure.  Have fun learning survival skills together.  Camping is fun and teaches important skills at the same time.

Finally, focus on more than your Outer Game.  Become aware of your Inner Game – listen to yourself.  What are you saying to yourself?  Develop positive self-talk now so it’s in place when you need it.  Learn to meditate; do centered prayer.  And if you are at all religious, connect with a church or any center.  In our disaster, it proved to be one of our most important resources.

Cultivate the inner keys to bouncing back:  faith, resilience, purpose, persistence and your relationship with your true self. 

If you are proactive now and embrace positive change as above, you can do more than survive a disaster, you can bounce back and thrive.  To explore more, claim a free copy of “Survivor’s Guide: 12 Tips to Gain Inner Peace” at www.giftfromsusan.com.

About:  Susan Sherayko has been the executive in charge of production for “Home and Family,” a daily television show that airs on Hallmark Channel, for several years.  She is also a mindset coach and author, “Rainbows Over Ruins,” in which she shares her journey that began after a landslide destroyed her home.

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Are You Struggling to Get Through a Disaster?

A few years back, we found ourselves in the same situation facing the reidents of Montecito, California right now.  We had a mudslide come through our home.  It was a mess.  We faced financial ruin, physical and emotional losses, fear (lots of fear) and the uncomfortable feeling of not knowing where to go for help.

Fortunately we had a great church community  They were our rock during the worst of it.  Government help was not available.  Insurance money was not available.  As I said, it was a mess.  But we got through it.

That’s really my message here.  You can do it too.  You can survive and, more than that, you can go on to thrive.  That may be so far from your mind.  It’s more likely that you are feeling overwhelmed with no vision of a future at all.

But I repeat.  You can get past this disaster, regardless of the circumstances.  You can survive, rebuild, refocus and go on to thrive.  You can make choices to let go of anything that isn’t working in your life.  You can embrace what you loved and reincorporate it into the new lifestyle you create.

9781452592619_COVER.inddI write about our journey back in my book, Rainbows Over Ruins. What’s important to know is that we not only survived, we now feel as if we are thriving.  The finances worked out in a couple years.  We have a new community, with new friends and business opportunities.  Our home is closer to what  we had always envisioned, but never imagined achieving.  Our lifestyle fits us to a “T.”   And I feel as if I am at the apex of my career.  It’s a far cry from the night we stood outside the house that was filled with mud and looked on helplessly at the boulders piled from ground to rooftop behind the house.

I went on to create a 12 episode podcast series, “Bebuilding Your Life: Moving from Disaster to Prosperity.”  It’s on iTunes and Stitcher.  It’s designed to take you through the steps to get past a disaster.  There are some wonderful people who participated to help others by sharing their own experiences.  There’s no charge to hear that information.    image-43253.jpg  I also wrote a free Survivor’s Guide with tips to help you get through this experience.  It’s available at http://www.GiftFromSusan.com.

These are all available to help you get your feet back on the ground  If you are reading this and have friends going through this experience, please share this post with them.  It’s very lonely on the down side of a disaster.  Help seems so far away.  And if these shares can help inspire someone to begin to rebuild, they will have served their purpose.

Please stay in touch.  Let me know how you are doing.  Share your questions.  Working together, we can plot a course to move past these life events.

I believe in you,

Susan

 

 

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Me/We/Do/Be

I know the title to this post looks a bit odd.  It’s actually the title of a book written by Dr. Randall Bell.  I had the pleasure to meet and speak with him after he appeared on Home and Family – the show airs on Monday.    I was in my office listening to the show feed when Dr. Bell began his segment.  I had to stop and listen.

He was speaking about why some people become perpetual victims after a disaster, while some survive and others go on to thrive.  As he talked, I heard his words echo those I had written in Rainbows Over Ruins.   It felt as it Dr. Bell was talking about me!  I just had to go meet him after the show.

If you don’t know, my book is a personal journey through such a disaster experience, while Dr. Bell’s is an explanation of the rich habits that accompany the phenomena of what he calls “post traumatic thriving.”  He interviewed and studied the experiences of thousands of people to arrive at his presentation of these four cornerstones of success:

  • Me – our personal growth in knowledge and wisdom
  • We – our developing relationships with positive people
  • Do – our actions and level of productivity
  • Be – our continual journey on the path to becoming

Me/We/Do/Be is available in bookstores now.  If you are looking for suggestions on how to get past a disaster that’s affecting your life, or in the midst of building a dream project so you can go on to thrive, Dr. Bell presents some very practical ideas.  Take action on them  and you may find yourself thriving soon.

I believe in you.

To Your Success,

Susan

 

 

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So Many Faced with Rebuilding Right Now

Twelve years ago, Peter and I were faced with rebuilding our lives after a mudslide swept through our homes after an extensive period of rain.  Six months later, I watched as Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and I wept.  By then, I knew the challenge of starting anew.  It took 18 months to recover, but we did it.   We went on to find a lovely ranch overlooking a valley, enhance our careers and feel good about our lives.

Yet last week, a huge wildfire swept through our old neighborhood of La Tuna Canyon.  As soon as it was safe, we went back to see old neighbors and survey the damage.  All these years later, it made me sad to see the barren land, with only a few structural elements to show that anyone had ever lived there.  And on this day, the land was blackened by evidence of fire sweeping through the canyon.  For whatever reason, we become tied to the soil we inhabit and I hated to see it so lonely.

I cannot help thinking about all the people who are going through this now.  The news has been filled with Hurricane Harvey, the La Tuna fire, an 8.1 magnitude quake in Chiapas.  Today, we wait to hear how much damage Hurricane Irma will deliver.  It is a scary, uncertain time for everyone in the midst of it.

That’s why I’m writing today.  I’ve been writing and speaking on rebuilding after disasters ever since we went through it.  I want to help people get through the worst, get past what happens and start moving forward again.  Although my book “Rainbows Over Ruins” is for sale online through Amazon, most of my thoughts are given for free.  There is Your Survivor’s Guide: 12 Tips to Gain Inner Peace and, perhaps most apropos for the moment, a podcast series:  Rebuilding Your Life: Moving From Disaster to Prosperity.  These episodes take you from the moment when you’re packing to escape to those magical moments when you are ready to put it behind you and move toward a new future.  Once you are ready, I’ve created a course, Manifest Your Dreams, as a road map to identify and achieve the new goals that emerge after a significant loss.

The best news I can share is that you can do it.  You can recover and build a bigger and better life.

If you are in need, please check out the podcast, or if you have friends and family who are going through this right now, please share a link with them: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/rebuilding-your-life-moving-from-disaster-to-prosperity/id975055547?mt=2

image-43253.jpgIt’s available on both iTunes and Stitcher, as well as my website (under the podcast tab): Susan Sherayko.com.

Whatever the circumstances for you and your loved ones, you can get through this.  Join hands with other in community and you will find a mutual support system.  Keep your eye on the future and your feet moving through the next step.  The Quakers have another suggestion: Pray and move your feet.   My prayers are with you.  You can do this.

I believe in you,

Susan

 

 

 

 

 

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Technical Difficulties

I just realized that the link I provided in my earlier post cuts off in mid podcast. I apologize for any inconvenience that may have caused.

The podcasts can also be heard at http://www.ssherayko.libsyn.com.

Thank you.

Susan

 

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Maintaining Momentum While Managing Crisis

 

waterwheelDo you know this law of energy? “An object in motion tends to stay in motion unless a force like friction or resistance steals it away. ”  I came across this while thinking about the power of flywheels.  Flywheels?  That’s right.  I am contemplating the best ways to maintain forward momentum while managing any number of crises that may come up in both personal and professional life.

Historically, when I’ve thought about building momentum and productivity, it has been from the perspective of developing the tools and systems that support these qualities.  My own story is about surviving a disaster, a landslide, and going on to not only rebuild our lives, but to improve them dramatically.   I’ve written a book, produced podcasts and created a course designed to help people understand that they can do this as well and lead them through the process.

What has surprised me after a year of managing a series of crises is that it is as important to the long term survival of the lifestyle and businesses you create to also come to grips with how you maintain your momentum when friction and resistance occur.  And they will.  According to the laws of physics, it is impossible to build a perpetual motion machine.  Energy will bleed away unless you are actively maintaining and watching for cracks in the systems you have built into your operation.

I am still developing my understanding of how to maintain momentum and manage crisis at the same time.  However, I believe I can share a few insights that may prove helpful to you when and if you find yourself in such periods.

  1. The basic success principles hold true. Know your purpose, your why and your prime directive.  This is your GPS system to keep you on track and provide your anchor when stiff winds blow against you.   Master the art of positive self-talk.  It will give you the discipline to stay focused in a positive direction and help you be more resilient and resourceful.
  1. Plan well. Plan the intended flow of your activities, schedules and calendar.  Then go back and plan for the unexpected so you can be prepared with a Crisis Game Plan.  Buy insurance.  Stay up to date on what’s happening in the world around you.  For example, three times this year we have had to pay attention to union negotiations and determine their potential impact on the show.   Hold strategic planning sessions and build “What do we do if” scenarios.  If you have a game plan, it will reduce the uncertainty of your situation.  You will have What-If options defined.

I had the opportunity to speak with one of the producers of The Amazing Race at an Emmy event years ago.  He told me about the depth of their contingency planning for each episode.  I was impressed. It took a lot of work to anticipate all the things that could go wrong with 12 people running around the world, catching flights, losing things, missing connections or running out of money.  It’s a good lesson to apply that kind of planning in your play book.

  1. Establish systems and routines. We established regular systems and routines and each person in the company quickly learned where they fit into those systems and what they were expected to contribute to keep the daily machine running.

I am really thankful for these systems.  During the past year, the show has gone through several challenging situations.  They were unplanned and our attention needed to be focused on them.  We had to manage the crises coming from so many directions that we did not have time to be proactive.  A good team, the systems and routines held it together.

  1. We didn’t stop.  We didn’t let crises interfere with our prime directive to deliver one new 2 hour show per day, 5 days per week, 52 weeks per year.  At differing times, we were frustrated and angry, producing in spite of broken hearts, and always uncertain of the outcome.  Our professional team kept it going.  They have never failed to “get ‘er done.”  They persisted in the face of numerous personal tragedies affecting them, their co-workers and the company and continue to give their best.
  2. The show’s creator frequently spoke to me about the importance of “keeping it fresh.” During the two daily production meetings, ideas were examined from a variety of perspectives, but finding the new and unusual was important.  And I imagine that the excitement of keeping it fresh also helps us when we are dealing with problems.

What I have been writing and creating applies from a crisis management perspective in both personal and business scenarios.  If you are going through such situations yourself, feel free to download my Survivor’s Guide: 12 Tips to Gain Inner Peace and apply the tips you find there to them.  It’s available at www.GiftFromSusan.com.

Personally, my goal at the moment is to keep positive energy flowing into our work and reduce friction and resistance, so that we are that object in motion that stays in motion.  Keep pushing on that flywheel.  It appears to be a key to maintaining momentum while managing crisis.  Enjoy the tips — and use them.

I believe in you,

Susan

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