The Beauty of the Beast

6 March 2018
Julie Twist Durham Personal Development and Positive Change Specialist

As the “beast from the east” hit the UK in March 2018, the extreme weather unusual not only for the time of year but also for many years, has affected people in terms of safety, disruption to travel, loss of earnings and much more. However for me, born and raised in the North East of England, I remember a common phrase “The North wind doth blow and we shall have snow” and we did, lots of it.

In light of the adverse weather conditions for two days, some face to face sessions were cancelled and rearranged to the following week without charge to clients. It was a decision made taking into account weather warnings not to travel unless necessary and the importance of their safety alongside my own however, rather than viewing the impact of cancellations as a negative, I choose to view the situation in a positive light.

My reflections

Over this period of time, I found my thoughts turning to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as for many their basic psychological needs such as food, safety, a roof over their head, heating etc., will not have been met for one reason or another.

Yes I had to leave the car at home but rocking the hat and wellie look walking to the shops meant I saw people I’d not seen for a while providing the opportunity for a good catch up. Getting the bus into work for a couple of days was more than ok; I chatted to people whilst waiting for the bus whom I would never have met had I driven to work. It’s surprising once we get chatting how much of a small world it is and how much we have in common with each other.

Yes I lost part of my income due to the cancellation of sessions but aside from acknowledging the fact my basic needs are most certainly met, it gave me the opportunity to catch up on some of the “boring” behind the scenes work of running a business and being more proactive on social media.

However more importantly, it has provided the time and opportunity to write this article, something which I really enjoy but has somewhat fallen by the wayside lately. Having several ideas and topics for writing new articles, I was initially unsure which one to start writing first, that was until I looked out of my window at home and saw the beautiful snow drifts……

When I was a Lass

I was taken back to childhood thinking the amount of snow dealt to us by the beast from the east wasn’t too bad compared to the more frequent, heavier snow conditions which I remember quite often lasting throughout the whole of winter. Growing up in a house with only a coal fire, no central heating meant waking up to ice on the inside of the bedroom windows let alone the outside. As we lived in a house opposite a field, it was also common for drifts to be as high as the bedroom windows and all too often we opened our door to a wall of snow.

Only twice do I remember being sent home from school as a result of the heating not working. Our day regularly began with porridge made with hot milk for breakfast before setting out for the walk to school with lovely homemade ginger beer. Despite the cold this was such an adventure in itself, walking up the drifts, down the drifts and sometimes getting lost in the drifts and having to be pulled out.

As a family, we would clear pathways to our house and neighbours houses, dig our car out of the snow (quite often higher than the car itself), before setting off on foot and again through the drifts with food for the elderly relatives in neighbouring villages. On our return we would then play out in the snow sledging, building snowmen, throwing snowballs, making snow angels, walking the dog etc., making the most of our time in the snow.

As this weather was more of the norm for us, we were prepared, always dressed appropriately and of course, there were of times when our car journey had to be abandoned followed by a long walk home or to relatives houses.

Power cuts were also very common hence always having a stock candles to hand and whilst home made broth cooked on the back to back oven, we toasted bread and crumpets on an open coal fire listening to the radio (PP9 battery operated). We played games such as Monopoly, Drafts, I spy and card games; all bringing out our competitive side and quite often for the one’s not happy loosing briefly going in the “huff”; we would at times bring out the photo albums laughing as we recounted our shared memories and experiences.

All pre mobile phone, pre internet and pre social media meaning at worst we were unable to watch TV which on reflection was a small price to pay in return for such quality times spent with family and friends, all of which are fond memories of my childhood which I will always cherish.

The choice to see the beauty of the beast

Whilst growing up I was oblivious to the psychological impact derived from this human interaction however, as an adult and as a result of my training I am now aware the human brain is wired for interaction with others, and it’s now crystal clear how these life experiences played their part in my needs being met and the positive effect they had on my psychological wellbeing.

It’s also been refreshing to see on both TV and social media pictures and videos of so many families spending quality time together and adults in touch with their inner child sledging, snowballing and building some really impressive structures in the snow.

I decided to see the beauty of the beast from the east; the beauty of the snow drifts out of my window at home; the beauty of camaraderie that evolves in times of adversity both locally and nationally, which as a child and growing up was the norm for me and so refreshing so see that it still lives on in society today; something I hope continues for many years to come.

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