Allegra, Ruby and I made it through the Blizzard of 2016! I admit that I don’t handle severe weather as well as I should. I get pretty anxious when weather forecast contains words like “monster storm” and “life-threatening storm” – especially when my trusted forecasters at the Washington Post, who are not known for hype, use those words. Weather anxiety is becoming a recognized psychological disorder, which is not surprising, given our obsession with the weather. Checking weather apps is the number one smartphone use.

I’m a firm believer that when life throws a challenge our way, the best thing we can do is look for the lessons. And this blizzard certainly had a few in store for me.

The waste of worry

As the forecast became more and more ominous throughout the week preceding the storm, I had to apply everything I ever learned about what a waste worrying is. I had to keep telling myself that I can’t control the weather, or the power company. (Losing power was my biggest concern. We’re on electric heat, and don’t have an alternate heat source.) As a recovering control freak, that part was really hard, and required a constant effort of reminding myself to trust that all will be well.

Storm preparations

I prepared as best as I could. Extra canned cat food in case we lose power and our raw food goes bad? Check. Bottled water? Check. Fill the empty spaces in the freezer with ziploc bags filled with water? Check. Extra batteries? Check. Extra tuna? Sorry Ruby, even a blizzard doesn’t get you extra tuna, but I did pick up extra treats. Preparing gave me a feeling of being in control of what I could control, and also allowed me to do a better job of letting the rest of it go.

We woke up to a snowy deck on Saturday morning.

Being alone during extreme weather

One thing that I find very difficult during extreme weather is being the only human in the house. Over the years, I’ve learned to reach out to others in the same situation. My BFF and I, who live about 10 miles apart, have gotten each other through hurricanes, blizzards and severe thunderstorms just by talking on the phone frequently throughout the day and night. Another friend and I texted back and forth several times a day. Friends from all over the country reached out via email and Facebook to check on me. Knowing that so many friends were concerned and wished me well made me feel less alone.

The view from our window halfway through the blizzard

How the girls handled the blizzard

Severe weather can also be stressful for Allegra. Ruby is fearless, but Allegra used to have a tough time with snow. Something about the whiteness outside seemed to really disorient her to the point of sending her into hiding. The sound of plows going up and down the road behind our house used to upset her. I loaded her up with Stress Stopper before the storm arrived. At first, she was very nervous, pacing from window to window, and eventually hiding for an hour or two. I was really concerned that this was going to make for a couple of very long, stressful days for her, but after a few hours, she seemed to accept that snow and plows were the new normal, and she did fine. It was a good lesson for me to stop worrying so much!

This is what it looked like with 12 more hours of blizzard to go
This is what it looked like with 12 more hours of blizzard to go

Shoveling. And more shoveling. Followed by more shoveling.

And then there was the shoveling. We got almost 30 inches of snow. From the handful of other blizzards I experienced, I knew that if you don’t stay on top of it, shoveling that much snow can be completely overwhelming, not to mention physically dangerous. I went out five times during the 36 hours the storm raged to keep up, sometimes during near blizzard conditions.

No, these are not snow drifts. These are my neighbor’s three cars.

Shoveling taught me to be mindful of how I moved. I have had back issues in the past, and I made sure I shoveled the way they tell you to: bend at the knees before lifting, don’t twist and toss snow, and, most importantly, use a snow shovel with an ergonomic handle. Whenever I started to grumble about having to deal with this snowy mess, I reminded myself to be thankful that I was physically capable of doing it. In between rounds of shoveling, the girls snuggled up with me to keep me warm.

Our mailbox, with mountains of shoveled snow behind it

After the blizzard

By the time the storm wound down Saturday night, I was able to start to relax. My house had stayed toasty warm, I kept up with shoveling, and even though it wasn’t the most fun I ever had, it gave me a profound sense of accomplishment that I was able to take care of myself and my home.

By today, most of the snow has melted. I still have snow in the shady parts of my yard, but I can see patches of lawn again. Even the giant piles of snow in parking lots around the area seem to be shrinking a little.

I’ll be happy if I never have to see this much snow again, but I’m grateful for the lessons the blizzard taught me. And since the plows didn’t come through my street until a few days after the storm, Allegra and Ruby were grateful that the blizzard kept me home even more than usual.

books banner for posts


27 Comments on Conscious Cat Sunday: Lessons from a Blizzard

  1. Hey y’all – snow is fun for us here in the SF Bay area because we drive to it, it does not come to us, so we never have to shovel it. Tornadoes scare the hell out of me but then again we live in earth quake country and having a little advance warning would be helpful. I still worry that I won’t be able to corral the kitties and stuff them into their carriers in case of an emergency but you cannot worry about things that may or may not come and that you cannot control anyway. Sounds like you and the kitties came out whole at the end of that snow emergency.

  2. Goodness, what a brave threesome. You won through by being sensible it seems, bet you were very glad when it was over though. Did all the right things obviously, photographs are awesome. Perhaps you are “lucky” that it all melted after a few days; it goes on for weeks sometimes doesn’t it and one thinks it is never going to end.
    By comparison, we in the Uk are having a rainy, murky, very windy winter – hard to say which is better – it’s also mild and spring flowers are already in bloom; if we do get a sudden very cold spell they are going to have such a shock.
    Well done anyway, although pretty scary it must at the same time have given you a sense of satisfaction doing all you did, and knowing you COULD do it and so well.

    Congratulations on making such a success of it all.

  3. Weez glad you all made it thru and are okay. It’s just da 3 of us, so when we have storms mommy just hunkers down wiff us and we do a lot of extra cuddlin’. Hope you have a blest day.

    Luv ya’

    Dezi and Lexi

  4. your photos are great, the girls are darling and you did a fantastic job of preparing AND making the best of a not-so-great situation, as I knew you would!!!
    I think I would have enjoyed being the only human in the house 😉

  5. Glad y’all made it through just fine! My biggest weather anxiety is hurricanes. We aren’t on the coast but have been in the past & have gotten reminders that being far enough inland has changed.

    • We’ve had a few tropical storms come through here over the years, which I found very unsettling. I can’t imagine what it must be like in an actual hurricane.

  6. Gosh, Ingrid … that amount of snow is frightening … you did so well keeping on top of everything. It sounds like Ruby is a good “thermometer” of what is going on around you … I wonder sometimes if our pets calmness also helps us during times of anxiety? I am a terrible worrier … sometimes I worry when I’m not worried about something. Glad all is well with you and the girls.

  7. Ingrid, Allegra and Ruby:

    Glad to hear you “weathered” the storm well. . . we got 9 inches here. Going back and forth to work was an adventure, but I had no problems. I don’t mind the snow — I don’t like the ice that sometimes accompanies it (in this storm, there was no ice).

    Have a blessed, pawsome day!! ♥♥♥

  8. While a snow storm can be quite frightening, there is something special about how friends and community pull together. We had a tornado warning this week where I live – weather anxiety is a great term. I started to freak out a bit when the sky turned green – gathered the kitties with me into one area and made sure I had cat carriers nearby in case I needed them. Glad you are okay!

  9. I get weather anxiety when it rains heavily. We have flooded in the past and I remember facing severe weather the first time after Tim had passed. I also don’t drive, so that adds to the stress. I have come to rely on my neighbors, family and friends. I also have a good rapport with the first responders. It’s comforting to know all of these people have my back. I prepare as best I can. I have an emergency plan which includes an emergency pet first aide kit.

    Piper and I love the snow. As Northeastern girls we are missing the snow this year. She loves to watch the storms and even tries to go out in them (which is NOT allowed). She will sit in the window or her kitty condo and watch the snow come down. As a treat we will go out in the snow and play. Good thing she is a black cat.

    This is life on life terms. We can’t control the weather but we can control how we react to it. Not always easy when we are in the thick of it. But that’s when we have to take a moment, reassess our situation, reach out if necessary and remind ourselves we are doing the best we can at this moment in time. When the storms subside we celebrate by playing in the snow or maybe even dancing in the rain.

    You did a great job. Well done! Now go and celebrate! Pipers and I are proud of you.

    • “When the storms subside we celebrate by playing in the snow or maybe even dancing in the rain.” What a beautiful metaphor for not just severe weather,but life in general, Cindy.

  10. I’m glad y’all made it through ok. I have never heard the term weather anxiety, but it is very fitting for what I get during our severe storm season. Of course we had the unusual tornado outbreak the day after Christmas which went right over our it and touched down about a mile from us. I was freaking out the entire time. I had the cats in their carriers in the bathroom and I had lots of pillows to throw on top of us. It was a very scary night. I still feel the panic rise and I cry for those who lost everything as we drive through the areas that got destroyed.

    • I can’t imagine going through what you went through, Janine – how scary! The devastation from those tornadoes that I saw on the news was incomprehensible. I’m so glad you’re okay.

  11. You have such a great attitude! I’m afraid I would be grumbling a lot if I had to shovel that much snow.

    I’m really glad that you, Allegra, and Ruby did well and that you are safe and sound. Please know that anytime you’d like a friend to talk to, I’m more than happy to chat! I’m on Facebook chat a lot. You can also email and I can give you my number for texting. I find it can make all the difference in the world to have someone to chat with when I’m feeling alone.

  12. Allerga, Ruby, Ingrid,

    Made it through the blizzard of 2016! Had some worries, but handled them right. Ruby was the inspiration for you & Allerga. GOOD GOING RUBY!


  13. Hi Ingrid!
    Have you thought about a generator? I’m determined to one day get a solar generator. Not only are they good for an emergency but they can help you with electric bills in good weather as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.