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Planting & Watering Against Storm Anxiety

If you’ve ever read a word on this blog, I’m sure you already know that I struggle with depression and anxiety. Most of the time, that anxiety is generalized. In my definition, that means, my brain encounters nearly all stimuli from a position of anxiousness first. I’ve developed some adaptations to curb anxiety related to planning and obtaining food. The tool I want to show you today is a storm reserve inventory.

Living in Oklahoma, I am no stranger to severe weather. But it was my stint in Florida that organized my storm reserve. We moved to Florida in June of 2017. That October, a hurricane decided to head our way. We had lots of time to prepare and worry about its direction. My sister took me to Firehouse Subs and bought two pickle buckets, thus the storm reserve was born.

Back in Oklahoma, we don’t have a storm shelter or cellar. We have an interior closet. On the long outside wall of the closet stand four large and full bookcases. On the door side, we have a hall where we shut all the doors and sweat out storm threats.

The storm reserve is a tool that helps me know I’m mostly prepared for a summer or winter storm. Ice here is nearly as dangerous as tornadoes. I approach storms in phases.

Phase 1: Storms will come eventually.

I set up my inventory and buy what I can by sneaking items into the normal grocery budget. These items are set aside in two pickle buckets and a plastic tub in our storm closet. Throughout the year, I aim to rotate out expiring things into the normal course of the house. My food reserve is based on feeding five people for three days without power or water.

The items in yellow are missing from the inventory. They are aspirational, in the case of a camp stove or camp plates, and logistical in the case of food. The inventory is the ideal. Items in pink are things 1) we have in somewhere in the house but not in the storm closet, or 2) we need to track carefully.

Also during this phase, I sort our safe to ensure that documents and items of personal value are in plastic bags and organized.

Phase 2: Storm is likely today.

On days when a storm is really likely, I perform a few tasks that make me feel like we could get on with things after a damaging but not deadly storm. First, I backup my hard drives, the kids’ devices, and my phone. Second, lock the safe and any medication cabinets. Third, I try to fill out our deep freezer in an effort to save the food in case of power outage. Fourth, I gather the pink-shaded items from the inventory list. Fifth, I pack a go-bag. Here’s what I put inside:

  • all keys relevant to my life
  • wallet
  • small survival kit
  • laptop
  • kids’ devices
  • cords
  • the notebook that orders my life day-to-day
  • copy of most vital documents

Every item goes into plastic storage bags. Two-gallon Zip-locs are a personal favorite, comfortably fitting my laptop in its sleeve.

Sixth, I have the kids place a long-sleeved shirt, pair of long pants, and rain jacket in the storm closet. I also have them line up socks and a pair of tie-up shoes outside the closet if they are off for the day.

Phase 3: Storm is imminent.

We put on long clothes, if we have time. Then we get in the closet and wait.

I am under no delusions that this plan can prevent a tornado or keep one from turning my home into matchsticks. But it does help me do something. That tiny handful of control in the middle of so much uncertainty is an important aspect to managing my storm anxiety.

As I’ve written this entry, a funnel has tried to form north and west of our home. We are not in the direct path. We are watching and taking precautions and living life.

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