Surviving an East Coast Snowstorm Taught Me the 5 Keys to Life

The East Coast got hit with its first snowstorm of the season recently and I got caught driving in the thick of it, coming home from my company’s office.  30 miles which normally takes me 45 minutes took me 3 and a half hours. It wasn’t the time that was the issue; it was the sheer terror of every second of the 3 and a half hours. The roads were a mess, it was rush hour and cars were sliding all over the road. After an hour, my windshield wipers froze and were covered with snow (it was only 25 F degrees). I could not see out of my windshield at all and had to pull off the road 3 times to clean them off – knowing that it was dangerous and that another car may lose control and hit me – but I had no choice since I could not see out the window! My navigation system took me on highways, off highways, on dark snowy roads, on a long unknown journey around all the accidents. A white knuckler the entire drive.

As you can imagine, many thoughts went through my mind during this long drive. But the thought that got me through it all was – I AM GRATEFUL. I’m grateful for my SUV that I bought purposely for New York snowstorms. While other cars were slipping and sliding off roads, I was solid as a rock. I was grateful for the text messages coming in from my parents and a special someone with support, wishing me safety and knowing they were checking in to see how I was doing (even though I didn’t dare respond!). I knew their love and energy was finding its way to me.

I also sent my collective strong vibes out to ALL the drivers. I wasn’t just praying for my safety, I was praying for all of our safety, and suddenly I became less fearful. Knowing that I had the entire population of drivers traveling home to safety in my universe somehow made me feel calm. I started to coach myself along the way: “You got this! xxx miles to go until we get to the exit! Good job, keep going, little by little, you can get there!” By the last 2 miles I was a manic version of Oprah yelling in my car to all the drivers around me: “You got this!! Wooooo!!!! Dude behind me – you got this! Lady, in the car over there – you got this! We are all gonna make it home safely! Keep going! Go, go go!!!!! We got this!!!!!!!!” And thankfully I did make it home safely – shaking, sweaty, heart pounding, but safe. AND I WAS EVER SO GRATEFUL!!!!!

Interestingly a friend of mine pointed out to me that this experience was a metaphor for our journey through life:

  • The unknown dangerous roads
  • Taking it little by little;
  • the need to be connected to others
  • Keeping a positive attitude
  • And most importantly gratitude

If we use these five points to guide us through life each and every day, we really do have the keys to higher knowledge and the steps to take us through both the good and bad times.

Life is a journey through UNKNOWN DANGEROUS ROADS

Our ego mind is always trying to keep us safe and in our “comfort zone.”  When we decide that we want more in life and we begin to venture outside of our comfort zones, the world appears as if it is filled with unknown dangerous roads. This is an illusion that our mind creates to keep us thinking small. Step out onto the road and the beauty you will find will far outweigh the dangers.


There is no need to go full force into any particular venture. Take it one step at a time, let yourself get used to the new uncomfortable space you may be entering into. There is never a rush although the mind will tell us this to scare us back into our safety zone again. There is a lovely quote by Henry David Thoreau: “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” It’s your journey, take it as slow as you need to go and enjoy it along the way.


I love the quote by William Butler Yeats: “There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t met yet.” We have a need as human beings to be connected to one another. Studies have shown that people who feel more connected to others have lower rates of anxiety and depression. We are not in competition with others, rather we have a need to connect. Many times our minds go on autopilot and immediately go into competitive mode, being better than the person next to us, claiming the most space, highest salary, not letting someone into our lane while driving, etc.  However, life is abundant and there is more than enough for everyone. Being connected to people is where the true magic lies.


Attitude will get anyone through the most horrific situations. Again, our minds will tell us otherwise just to get us back to our comfort zone. That day, I saw many cars pulling off to the side of the road during the harrowing drive. I also thought about pulling off the road. Although I was grateful that others pulled over, as some did not have good control over their vehicles, I thought about what would happen if I pulled over. The snow was not due to let up – I would be stranded, alone, on the side of the road probably throughout the night. So, I began to give myself a pep talk, out loud, as if I was coaching myself, which kept my attitude positive and strong. Having a positive attitude has cured people of diseases, gotten them through some terrible times and also sky rocketed them to major success. Now I do not advocate having a positive attitude 100% of the time because that would be forcing something that isn’t true or helpful. It’s OK to be negative every now and then. I like to use the 10% rule – its OK to go to the dark side 10% of the time! Remembering that we have control over what attitude we bring to life each day gives us a tremendous amount of power.


Ahhh…my favorite one of the list! People really underestimate the strength of gratitude. Every day we have the superpower to appreciate what we have in life – the beautiful people who love us, all that we have created (our jobs, homes, families, vacations, gardens, etc.) and all the wonders around us. Do you know what happens when we are grateful? The universe gives us MORE of what we are grateful for! Take note: I am not grateful because it’s a “manifestation” trick. No, not at all. That just happens to be a really awesome byproduct of being grateful. I’m grateful just for the sake of being grateful. We ALL have this superpower. Make sure you utilize it – especially during very stressful times.

So now you have the five keys to life. What will you do with this new knowledge? It got me through a harrowing and dangerous snow storm. These keys have now become my daily guide through life – and I do not need another snowstorm to remember them. Gratefulluy they have become integrated into who I am.

joanne newborn
Joanne Newborn is CEO & Founder of Newborn Evolution LLC. She is an Executive Leadership Coach and Consultant working with Organizations and Dental Practices around the globe. Her Superpower: Interpreting Senior Leadership’s vision and strategy and translating it to achievable goals to ALL levels of an organization from C-Suite to Middle Management to Individual Contributors. She and her team are Transforming Organizations’ Visions into Results through Leadership Coaching,Training and Consulting. Using a unique blend of Eastern & Western Methodologies in her Coaching practice – she combines hardcore Business Strategy with Jungian Theory and Eastern Philosophy. She has Coached clients on every continent with the exception of Antarctica and has her MBA from Penn State, her ACC from the International Coaching Federation, is a DiSC Certified Practitioner and a DEI Certified Coach. She can be seen speaking at conferences on Leadership around the US and at Universities and Colleges. You can connect with Joanne on LinkedIn or visit her website.

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