unexpected

Triumph Through Adversity

Last Friday night was our children’s school’s annual ‘End of year BBQ’. This is an event enjoyed by parents and pupils alike and has built up a good following in our small village school over the years. It also coincided with the first, and only, rainfall we’ve experienced in many weeks.

While there are many things in life we can plan and prepare for, the weather is invariably something that is outside of anyone’s control. While we’ve been ‘blessed’ by very warm, dry weather of late, this is neither in our control, nor necessarily completely desirable by everyone. It has however, made many events this summer more predictable.

End of year BBQ

While thankfully not really being concerned about the weather, all of us school committee members have been keeping an eye on the forecast for grand end of year event for weeks. We often watch the weather carefully at this time of year, knowing how unpredictable and seemingly “cruel” the weather can be. As the day of the BBQ approached, the forecast unkindly teased us, predicting fot that day – hot and sunny – hot and cloudy – rainy – cloudy – sunny – rainy – in a kind of mean loop. Ultimately, we were at the mercy of whatever mysterious force drives the weather, and just had to wait and see. After all, the date had been fixed since the beginning of the school year, the inflatable castles booked and paid for, and the meat ordered… we’d be going ahead regardless.

Five o’clock arrived and it was time to set everything up. It was pretty overcast and a little breezy, but warm – phew. Maybe we’d get away with it after all?! At six o’clock, the families started to arrive. We were ready to start selling food and drink from the get-go. There was the occasional drop of rain from the sky, and everyone was being very British, ignoring the clear signal that all was not right with the sky today. Fortunately, people were still arriving and they were eating, and drinking and the kids were having fun on the inflatables and the water slide. Then the drops became a little more frequent and persistent, like a wasp that wouldn’t leave. An hour into the event it was properly raining, and a few families had already quietly left. The more stoic ones remained; sat at their picnic blankets with large umbrellas and waterproofs, precious burger in hand. Many of the children hadn’t even noticed the rain!

By this point we’d fetched a gazebo to cover the serving area – and the music speakers – and people were increasingly gathering around us. By 7.30pm the rain showed no signs of letting up and the last of the families (apart from the committee and families) had conceded defeat and left. Given the relentless rain, we decided the easiest and safest course of action would be to transfer everything to the school hall to be sorted out the next morning, which ironically forecast a return of the heat and sun.

While the last hour of the BBQ became a wash-out, we still ably covered costs and make a small profit, averting any economic embarrassment. We were astounded and humbled by the support of the families who attended and the wonderful organising team who worked so closely as a result of the unexpected downpour.

Things in and out of our control

Many things in life are within in our control – the commitments and choices we make, organising and preparing ourselves, but some things are just clearly out of our control. The weather is most definitely one of those things beyond our influence. We’ve been spoiled for much of the last few months with tropical weather and had almost forgotten how unpredictable fine British weather can be. BBQ food had even become a staple part of my weekly shop! The havoc the snow caused, just a short time ago, seems like a distant and surreal memory.

Life is full of obstacles and challenges that pop up and bite us, often when we least expect it. How we deal with these can often be very important to other aspects of our lives, including our health.

Dealing with the unexpected

These are a few of the thoughts I have on dealing with the unexpected, with some BBQ related and some alternative examples.

Planning & preparation

Planning ahead doesn’t always eradicate all risks and issues, but it can help. At least having a plan in the first place means you have something to amend if the situation changes!

In some cases, you can even plan around the weather, by choosing the best weather day for a specific activity.

With the school BBQ, the date was fixed, but we were proactive in other areas:
– Publicising the event
– Checking the weather (multiple times!)
– Sending a reminder that the event is still on
– Estimating how many people and how much food might be required
– Getting everything ready for a prompt kick-off
– Selling as much as we could to eliminate wasted stock etc.

Contingency

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing” – various

It’s often a good idea to ‘expect the unexpected’ and to build in a little contingency. In general terms, this could include allowing a little extra time for travel or to complete a task. It could be to order some extra food or have some extra money with you. It could be to plan some wet weather gear e.g. umbrellas, gazebo etc.

Flexibility

Be agile and ready to flex plans if required.

A non-BBQ example: I do my personal and family planning on a Sunday for the week: planning my fitness training and family meals for certain days. Sometimes I flex this as the week progresses, due to weather, changing work commitments etc. It means that the overall plan doesn’t totally fall apart at the first hurdle.

Support

Even with the best laid plans, things don’t always work out quite so. Be prepared to accept help if it’s offered and even ask for help too. This doesn’t make you a lesser person, I actually believe it’s a sign of true strength!
Just remember to be gracious and thank your supporters – and don’t be too demanding ?

Resilience

Resilience is the ability to successfully cope with a crisis and to return to pre-crisis status quickly. In other words, picking yourself up again.

It can often feel like life’s not fair or that we’re the only ones who suffer or face obstacles. This is definitely not the case. Most people encounter challenges and obstacles as they go through life. Finding ways for you to deal with these and ‘get back on the horse’, can make a big difference to your life and ultimately your health.

Wrap-up

While many things in life can be meticulously planned, with some risks and issues mitigated, unfortunately life isn’t always going to be as predicable and ‘fair’ as it could be. The weather, especially the British weather, isn’t known for its predictability and can severely impact the success of projects and events at any time of year.

The school BBQ was fun while it lasted and still made a small profit, so not a total disaster. It’s just slightly (an understatement) annoying that the next day was warm and dry again…

It can often feel like life’s not fair or that we’re the only ones who suffer or face obstacles. Most people encounter challenges and obstacles along the way. Finding ways to deal with current challenges, and past setbacks, can make a big difference to your life and ultimately your health.

 

Thank you for reading. For more interesting articles, visit my blog at www.agelifebalance.com to learn more.