Surviving Irene, Weathering Life
With Hurricane Irene on the East, wildfires in Texas and floods in the Midwest, many American have experienced a fight for survival, substantial loss of property, injury and, in some very sad situations, loss of life. Our prayers and best wishes go out to all.
Here in the Kardea Kitchen, we were spared real hardship, facing only power outages. An inconvenience yes, but our 48 hours without electricity had benefits. It became a thoughtful time, a time to reassess, appreciate life’s simple pleasures and, surprisingly, a time to de-stress.
Stress has been implicated as a major factor in the development of heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. It is not only those intense stressful moments that may cause your blood pressure to spike. Chronic stress — that day-in and day-out pressure — also takes its toll.
Medical researchers aren’t sure exactly how stress increases the risk of heart disease. It could be because chronic stress exposes your body to unhealthy, persistently high levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Studies also link stress to changes in the way blood clots, which increases the risk of heart attack. It could be that stress works indirectly, causing blood pressure to rise or contributing to an inflammatory environment in which cholesterol can do its damage.
In his own practice, Dr. Richard Collins, a Mayo Clinic trained cardiologist and co-author of The Kardea Gourmet has found stress reduction programs key tools for preventing heart attacks, particularly among those with known heart disease. In his innovative wellness program, Dr. Collins advises yoga, massage and stress management programs for life.
So, back to our 48 hours without power! Many friends, neighbors and co-workers spent the days without power getting more stressed and as they wondered how they were going to survive. They got angry and worked up over the utility companies pace of repair. They worried about the foods that could be going bad in their freezers. They felt frustrated that their daily routines were disturbed.
Now, my wife and I live in a 250 year old farm house. It did not have electricity or in-door plumbing until the 1930’s. So, for 180 years, the families living in our home went without power. As the notice came that Hurricane Irene was coming, we adopted the mindset that after the storm, we would be living like the generations that came before us in our colonial home — with only a few of the modern comforts of life.
We packed the freezer with ice and we lined up bottles of water. We made sure that the propane tank was filled and the camping stove was ready. We filled the bathtub and two garbage cans with water, and the cars with gas. We made sure that we had matches, candles and cash.
Next, we picked the ripening vegetables — beans, cucumbers, tomatoes — and herbs from our garden. We made sure we had lots of fruit and easier to prepare foods. Finally, my wife made sure that a pot of coffee was brewed and in the thermal carafe (I do get stressed without my morning cup).
When the storm came, we watched its power with amazement. We assumed that the light would go out. When they did, we did not stress. We assumed that the power would be out for three or four day. We were pleased when power came on after two days. We accepted that we would not be going to work until the roads were clear and safe.
As we sat in the dark during the power outage, we reflected that life is made of an endless series of disruptions to our daily patterns. Like surviving Hurricane Irene, we realized that living life long, vital and happy is as much a mindset as it is about physical preparedness. Cheers!
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.” What are your necessities?