Yes, I know I have been absent from the online publishing world for over two months. Yes, I thought of you daily and kept notes for the many chapters I will be sharing soon. Restructuring my arts business, reworking my professional space, ramping up my life coaching practice, immersing myself in my coach certification program, hosting holiday house guests and handling the various vagaries of life have kept me from the keyboard. I’ll explain all of that in later chapters. Meanwhile, here’s the life lesson I felt absolutely compelled to share today while it’s still fresh. Brace yourself, Bridgette!
During the migration of my computer equipment to my wonderful new life coaching office, I lost access to all of the data stored on my 2TB data drive – a lifetime (57 years) of data. Absolutely no backups anywhere else – its own cautionary tale of the potential in life for gross misunderstanding. All of the intellectual capital from my 30 year consulting career. All of my financial records, all of my machine embroidery designs, all of my pictures, the autobiography I wrote in the early 90’s. Everything means EVERYTHING. The only thing I have access to at the moment is the current version of my Outlook data – calendar, contacts, tasks and email. For that, I am exceedingly grateful.
Imagine the magnitude of the problem like this. You own the public library system in your town. There are four branches. One day, you lose the entire card catalog system and all of the labels on the shelves. The little Dewey decimal numbers on all the books are gone too. The books are still there, but you have no idea how they’re organized or even which branch they’re in. They are utterly scrambled. And, to make matters worse, the codes for the security systems that allow you entrance to each of the four branches have also gotten randomly reset but no one knows to what. So you have to break into all four locations before you can even begin trying to make sense of the books. While you care about all the content, imagine what you most especially need is in a chapter of just one book, somewhere in one of the branches. And you need it before next Thursday when your annual state and city sales tax returns for your business are due.
After two days of failed attempts to get to the data with the help of the drive manufacturer, I hired Ximatic Data Engineering (www.ximatic.com) to try to restore as much as they can. The price, if they succeed, starts at $7500. No, I didn’t forget the decimal point – that’s seven thousand five hundred dollars. That’s if all goes well. They think, given their initial investigation of my drives, that my potential cost should cap out at $8500. And that’s the good news.
My data drive is an exceedingly complex, highly secure, Buffalo RAID5 drive. But a simple power failure – me unplugging it without turning it off – brought all four drive crashing down. It could have failed during one of the many power outages we get in our community. But it didn’t. It failed when I forgot to turn it off before unplugging it and, unbeknownst to me, it was in the middle of re-indexing all the data. It’s like the head librarian threw all the cards from the catalog up in the air and said, “Oh, whatever!” While we still don’t know for certain whether Ximatic will be able to recover anything, based on the facts and circumstances we have reason to be hopeful.
Yes, the documentation for the drive does indicate that it should be plugged into an uninterruptable power source (UPS). But somehow this info never made its way to my brain. Because, if I’d had any idea how serious unplugging it without powering it down first could be, I would have had a zillion warning signs all over the place. But the reality is, even a really good UPS would only provide an extra 90 minutes battery power for hardware as draining as mine. So if you lost power while at the movies, you could still come home to find you and your data were no longer on speaking terms. And, I see a lot of movies so, it was bound to happen someday.
The good news? Yes, there is some but probably not what you’d think. Bruce Schneider, the founder of my iPEC life coaching certification program (www.ipeccoaching.com), says one of the keys to life is believing that there are really no problems or challenges, only opportunities. My current situation is no exception: opportunities abound.
Opportunity Number 1: Whatever happens, I’ll be fine. Massive data loss is an event I’ve feared my entire life. Couldn’t imagine how I’d manage. And, had it happened two or more years ago, I would not be managing well at all. But thanks to the life lessons I learned over the past two years, I’m staying centered, exercising, eating healthy, meditating, journaling, sleeping peacefully, working on my life coaching certification and practice, relaxing, and gearing up should I have to try to recreate all of the financial data my accountant needs to file this year’s taxes. Funny thing is, I was expecting to be able to file by April 15th this year instead of needing to file extensions until October. Now I say, “Hallelujah for extensions!”
Opportunity Number 2: Control is an illusion at best. Blame and self loathing are counterproductive. I messed up. Others may have contributed. But even if I had turned it off before unplugging the drive this time, even if I had a UPS in place, I go to a lot of movies and a power failure during a movie could have landed me in the same place. I will admit to shedding a few tears over this but not very many. Absolutely no beating myself or blaming anyone else. It would be downright idiotic to waste any of my precious time and energy in negativity when I need all the positive resources I’ve got to fuel my spirit, brain and body through a potentially complex and tedious set of tasks. I need all the help from friends I can get. So mostly I’m focused on moving forward with my life, reminded once again that I am never really in control of anything except how I choose to handle what happens.
Opportunity Number 3: My compassion for others has broadened and deepened. Because I have always been paranoid about losing all of my data someday, I have always been absolutely anal retentive about running regular backups. And keeping a lengthy history of those backups. All my data, every week, all the way back to the moment I came out of the birth canal. Last year, when a friend told me she had gotten lax about running backups and as a result had to pay a data recovery firm $1,300 to restore all of her data after a drive crash, I’ll admit feeling just a wee bit smug. Not backing up your data? What the heck were you thinking. Any responsible person backs up their data no matter what else they have going on in life. But the Uncharitable Thought Police are always on alert. And the moment they catch us feeling superior, they have the Universe send us a reminder memo. Hence, I encounter a situation where I understand I don’t have to run manual backups because the drives essentially take care of backing each other up automatically (WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, WRONG). Voila! Deborah’s latest opportunity to replace some arrogance with compassion, further increasing her ability to connect deeply with herself and others.
Opportunity Number 4: Most things are not life threatening, just inconvenient. Sometimes INCREDIBLY inconvenient and INCREDIBLY expensive. But still, at worst, only inconvenient and expensive. All over the world, people are sick, frightened, starving, tortured and dying. My data access issue doesn’t even move the needle on the meter.
Opportunity Number 5: Everything I need is inside of me. I am enough. Many years ago, when I was moving from one consulting position to another, I was in a panic over whether I had copies of all my intellectual capital to draw on in my new position. Because without them, I felt I wouldn’t be able to perform – I’d be worth less. For weeks before the switch, I’d lay awake at night remembering things I’d forgotten, then run around during the day trying to gather them all up. Until one night I had a dream – the first in-person encounter I remember having with an Angel. In perfect King James English (we’re all products of our upbringing) she said, “Do not fret my child. Everything you need is inside of you. You are enough.” This week, whenever I found myself starting to fuss a bit over all I had lost, I remembered all that I have found over the past two years. Health, energy, grace and gratitude. Inspiration, deep peace, lasting joy and meaningful relationships. I found myself. And that is so much more than enough.
Dear Ones, no matter what trials you face in life, remember that you are more than enough. Data will come and go. But you are precious and irreplaceable.
You are loved and loving. You are blessed and a blessing. Namaste.