Thursday, March 18, 2010

Disaster management

The backstory of a book I have been alternately working on and abandoning, both with equal passion, is that several of the main characters work in disaster management. As part of the process I have been researching how people react in disasters, mostly as it relates to the medical field and there has been some interesting new research since 9/11, Katrina, and now the Haitian earthquake.

So what makes a person react well? According to research, it is the ability to be in the moment. A person must react quickly, without first weighing all of the potential outcomes of their actions. Stop to think about what might happen and you fail in a crisis.

Right. I have always thought of myself as someone who is reliable in a catastrophe. In some ways I am. I'm organized, and though I might temporarily freak out and cry, I usually pull it together and move on pretty quickly. I am a doer, practical as all hell, and a pragmatic thinker. But the thinking thing is what gets me in trouble. I am not an in the moment thinker. I am a forecaster.

Like right now, I catch myself trying to plan for all of the potential pitfalls that could happen during the next few months. Am I prepared if my Dad passes away? What if the house contract falls through? What if something happens before Girlie's birthday sleepover? Or next week? Or while we're in Boston taking a look around? Will my new place have a big enough dining room for my beloved table? What about the artwork?

For most of my life, my forecaster personality has been an asset, one that has helped me avoid some disasters. But now I can see that it is getting in the way. So instead, I am trying for a little paradigm shift. Dealing with today, making decisions only on the facts I have on hand, and then moving on.

Today I had to take our dog for some blood work because she has been ill all week. It seems a little much on top of everything else. I felt the what if's creep in. Girlie has a few friends coming over tomorrow night for her eighth birthday party sleepover. What if the dog gets worse?

And then I stopped myself. If something is really wrong with the dog, I'll deal with it when the lab results come back. Right then in that moment I will make the best decision I can, and then I'll move forward. Disaster managed.

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