Five Steps to Help Rebuild After a Mudslide

This coming February, it will be 10 years since a mudslide swept through out home and changed our lives dramatically. Once again, mudslides fill the news in the wake of heavy storms after years of drought and fire damage. The plants that hold our soil to the surface of rocks have been destroyed and with their loss, people face serious challenges as well.

In a matter of moments, our lives as we have known them are swept away.   It is hard to believe as we survey so much loss and destruction around us that we are standing at the edge of a creative opportunity that will enable us to not only survive, but thrive.

It is a process that can take considerable time. Having lived through it, perhaps these suggestions will prove helpful now:

  1. Find help. Although you will have to do this on your own, you cannot do it alone. In the immediate aftermath, you will need to take care of your safety and shelter before everything else. Seek out those who can assist in your rescue and recovery. You want a support system to get you through the profound grief, fear and shock that immediately follow a disaster, as well as resources to rescue what you can.

Peter and I found our church to be our strength during this most difficult time. Members put us up, helped us find temporary homes for our animals, and helped us rescue our belongings and get them to a storage facility. They prayed with us, cried with us and gave us the emotional strength to carry on.

  1. As soon as possible, begin to focus on what you want The recovery process takes time. Knowing what you want provides a mental anchor to which you can return regularly as you work through each step.

Peter and I knew we wanted a home and space for our family of animals – horses, dogs, cat, bird and fish. We were able to focus first on everyone’s safety, then places to live in the immediate time period. During that time, friends from church permitted us to use rooms, pipe corrals and other storage places until we could get on our feet. It took about 6 weeks to find an independent rental home and another 1 ½ years before we found a new permanent home.

  1. Once you have your focus on your desired results, your goal, you can begin to examine where you want to go and identify the resources you have to move toward it. One of the big surprises for me was that this does not happen overnight. More is swept away in a mudslide than your physical possessions. Over an extended period of time, you will go through stages of looking at physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of your life that have been affected. I found that taking an inventory of these various aspects enabled me to examine what was and was not working in our lives up to that date and then recover, rebuild and recreate what we desired with our goal ever before us.
  2. In the immediate aftermath, your surrounding circumstances may not give you any reason to believe in a brighter future. However, you can create one. You can use your natural skills and abilities to yield even better results than you had before.

I found I could do this by learning more about the mind. Current scientific research finds that the default position of the brain is to fall into negative beliefs of loss, despair and hopelessness, and the litany of “it won’t work, it can’t be done.” We are all familiar with this voice in our head when we are feeling down and out.

So the best thing you can do for yourself is to cultivate the habit of positive possibility thinking using affirmations and Afformations. I used these along with neuro-emotional work with a chiropractor, myofascial therapy with an occupational therapist, hypnosis and guided imagery.   The most powerful work I did to maintain my mental and emotional health throughout this time period involved asking positive questions, journaling, meditation and centered prayer.

My book, Rainbows Over Ruins is a story of recovering, rebuilding and recreating after such a disaster. If you would like to read about someone who has been there and gotten through it, pick up a copy. It’s available on Amazon.

Wherever you find yourself today, know that if I can do it, you can too. You can get past these losses by keeping your goals in front of you as you work through the process step by step. If you have questions, reach out to me. I am open to helping you think through your steps to recovery. May you find as I did that deep within every crisis lie the seeds of infinite opportunity.

To Your Success,


Posted in