“Be a goldfish,” and other lessons from The Great Storm of ’21

This past weekend, we diligently prepared for the snow storm that was headed our way. We bought food, water, supplies, and firewood. We went to my mom’s to pick up Chris’ dog, Ace, who would stay with us while the basketball team traveled to New Orleans and then to Conway, Arkansas.  We took food to mom, and tried to convince her to come back with us to stay during the greatly anticipated winter weather event.

She declined, and said she would manage just fine. Reluctantly, we returned and awaited the first flakes of snow that would fall. We had no idea of the blizzard that would come, and how it would shut down our entire state.

Fortunately, before the storm arrived, we watched the series, “Ted Lasso,” on AppleTV+, and it would be his example and words of wisdom that would propel us through this trying time.

I don’t want to give anything away, and I encourage you to watch this series if you can. It is funny, uplifting, and demonstrates the power of a positive attitude.

The basic premise is that Ted Lasso, an American football coach, has been hired to coach a futball team in England (futball= soccer).

With the encouragement of our son, Chris, we began watching “Ted Lasso.” The ten episodes flew by and left us wanting more (and happily, we discovered it has been renewed for two more seasons)!

With everything going against him, Ted Lasso always finds the silver lining. The three most important things I took away from the series are:

  1. Be a goldfish
  2. Be curious, not judgmental, and
  3. It’s the hope that kills you…

Chris shared a story with us about the first lesson: Be a goldfish. He said that during one of the basketball games, a player made a bad play, and one of the assistant coaches yelled, “Be a goldfish!”

We had no idea what this meant until we watched the show.

The entire quote is:

“You know what the happiest animal in the world is? It’s a goldfish. It’s got a 10 second memory. Be a goldfish!”

What great advice! When you make a mistake or mess up, be a goldfish! That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t learn from your error—-you just shouldn’t dwell on it. Put it behind you and move on. Don’t let your mishaps and mistakes define you. Be a goldfish!

Later in the show, Ted mentions a quote by Walt Whitman:

I had to think about this a bit. Judgments are assumptions, not truths. Being judgmental doesn’t feel good. It’s a negative state of being.  We should try to put ourselves in the shoes of others, listen, and find out all the facts—-maybe that’s the “curious” part (and maybe that makes us seem nosey…it’s a slippery slope). But being curious, and digging up facts is better than making a quick judgment against someone, and it’s much more compassionate.

During The Great Storm of ’21, our neighborhood email group has been busy! Topics such as power outages, the color of water, the lack of water, the bursting of pipes and the need for firewood have all been discussed, mostly in an informative, positive manner.

But, there was an email thread that went awry, when the behavior of teenagers was questioned, as well as their parents’ direction (or lack thereof). Things escalated, unkind words were exchanged, and an email feud for the ages commenced. Of course, I was drawn into the drama, and read every sentence, but the whole time I was thinking about the quote from Whitman which Ted Lasso shared, “Be curious, not judgmental.” In this day and time, those are wise words which we should try to follow, while also trying to be a goldfish!

Towards the end of season one of Ted Lasso, the phrase, “It’s the hope that kills you,” came up. (You’ll have to watch the series to understand the context, and it’s important that you know, he didn’t say this). As our electricity went off and on, and off and on, and off again, and finally on, those words repeatedly rang in our ears.

One night, while Brian was standing in front of the fire, sans electricity, we were talking about the outages. Earlier in the day, the electricity came on for a mere 10 minutes, but it was in those minutes that we raced around trying to do some things we needed power for. We embraced every second, not knowing when it would end.

And then it did.

As we reminisced about our time with lights, and a quickly microwaved cup of hot chocolate, Brian dryly stated, “It’s the hope that kills you.”

It was truly one of the funniest moments of this week. It summed everything up. We spent hours and hours dreaming about having all the conveniences electricity brings. We longed for it. We planned what we would do when our long lost friend came back to us. And then our friend returned, but ever-so-briefly. And when he left us in a flash, we were devastated. Our hope had been shattered. We were crushed.

In those devastating, tiring, unrelenting moments of cold air, and foraging for low-maintenance food items (snacks that didn’t have to be heated, a scoop of peanut butter, a slice of cheese) we realized we were blessed. We had a roof over our head, a fireplace, sustenance for our hunger, and water for our thirst.

And we still had hope.

After all, we were goldfish. We put the past behind us and looked ahead, knowing that eventually a normal existence would return.

With a frozen swimming pool being the biggest problem we face, we understand how fortunate we are. Yes, we’ve been inconvenienced, and irritated, and longed to watch mind-numbing TV shows. We wanted better food choices, but were content with what we had.

We spent hours watching the birds, and through them we learned so much. They worked all day, searching for food, and they didn’t fight over the seed we put out. They shared (until the blackbirds and bluejays came along). For me, I was constantly reminded of this scripture:

The birds were curious. They lived in the present. They didn’t give up. They didn’t let the weather defeat them.

They were goldfish.

So at the end of a very LONG week of living in sweats, and pajamas, with messy hair, and going to bed at sunset and getting up at sunrise, I have learned so much.

As I worried about my mom, who was alone and without electricity, a sweet friend and wife of one of the SFA basketball coaches contacted me. She had a four-wheel drive vehicle, and grew up in Wyoming, and this storm was nothing she couldn’t handle! She took hot coffee and soup to my mother, and also took her devices to her house, and brought them back completely charged.

What a blessing she was, and her comment when I thanked her was simply, “Well, she’s part of the crew.” How fortunate we are to have an extended family with the SFA Basketball coaches and their wives.

And what a blessing it is to know Our Heavenly Father always provides.

So at the end of this trying and tiring week, I hope to always keep the simple philosophy of Ted Lasso. To try to be a goldfish, and to remain curious rather than judgmental.

And as far as hope goes, I’ll always agree with Emily Dickinson:

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches on the soul,   

and sings the tune without the words,

and never stops at all.”


Prayers for warmth and safety to you all…

“I wish you good spaces in
The far away places you go.
If it rains or it snows may
You be safe and warm and never grow old.
And if you need someone who loves you, why
You know I will always be there.”

~Gordon Lightfoot



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