We just returned from camping, again. We made it most of the trip without storms assaulting us, until strong winds arrived unexpectedly; my husband ran to stop a canopy from a neighboring campsite that tumbled across the road. It was a standard 10′ by 10′ canopy; what he didn’t realize was that I was holding down the 10′ by 17′ canopy in our own campsite.

Our campsite neighbors had left their camp without securing it. We had secured ours as best we could, staking down everything, but there are times when the winds are too much and those stakes start to pull up. At one point, I could see the poles on the opposite side of the canopy pull up off the ground completely, but I held on for dear life and it finally settled down.

Sometimes we know to brace for the wind; we see the signs, we know it’s coming, and we do what’s necessary to remain strong in the face of adversity. And sometimes, we see the evidence in the distance and it still catches us off guard.

Remain strong in the wind.

I’ve recently been dealing with some strong winds that broadsided my mental strength. Ones I should have seen coming, but didn’t. Ones that are hitting me at a time when I am usually in need of mental rebuilding; I go through this process every summer, but this year has been unusual in that I’ve been dealing with the ongoing challenges of sorting out my mother’s estate on top of the emotional upheaval her death brought, in addition to the pandemic. I know during these times that I am not as strong as I am, normally; I’ve come to accept that there are certain times of the year that drain me physically and mentally. Those are the times I’m vulnerable against the unexpected winds.

Years ago, faced with the same challenges, I’m sure that unexpected wind would have resulted in me just giving up on the things that actually build me up and make me strong. It’s taken far less in the past to make me simply give up and give in. This journey is incredibly hard work, but examining what makes me tick, and what makes me strong, has had perhaps the biggest positive effect in my life.

When the winds came, I buckled down, hung on, and even though I wasn’t at all happy about it, I’m slowly making it through this particular storm. I’m not giving in.

On an elemental level, even though I know I’m at my most vulnerable when my resources are low, I’m far stronger, now — both physically and mentally — than I was previously, even when I felt strong. I know the power of the word no, now. I know how to draw the line and set boundaries. I know that protecting myself against unfair situations is the best thing I can do to fight for myself, regardless of what that might look like to anyone else.

I know the storms of life come up; sometimes they’re in the forecast, and sometimes they just show up to shake things up. It’s not about winning or losing. It’s more about buckling down and doing what’s necessary to move on.

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