Out of Fear Came Relief
You may be among the millions who experienced hurricane Irma first hand, I was too. For the first time in my life I evacuated my home to be safe from the hurricane and that was a very sobering experience.
As I watched the storm grow into the largest and most intense hurricane we’ve ever seen, I watched as it approached the Caribbean islands with a lot of concern for my friends who live in St. Thomas, St. Croix, Puerto Rico and the Florida Keys. Then it didn’t take that projected turn to the northeast – rats!!!
Now it’s moving toward Florida and going to affect everyone in the entire state – none of which has happened in recorded history and it is back to a Category 5 hurricane! Finally it reduced in strength a little and moved across the Florida Keys.
Next Irma heads toward southwest Florida making a turn to the north toward Tampa Bay where I live, projected to possibly remain a Cat. 4 perhaps reducing to a Cat. 2 – this is Saturday morning and we’ve been watching this storm for a week already with horrified eyes and hearts.
Saturday morning I get a text from my oldest son advising me to pack as we are leaving and heading to northeast Florida. Shortly after that I get a call from my daughter with the same message and telling me she will pick me up in a couple of hours!
At this point I admit, I got a bit flustered because I thought I had the rest of the day to get everything together and my house in order before I went to my son’s house. In two hours time I made decisions that had the potential to impact me for the rest of my life. I had to decide what was really important to me. My important papers and a few irreplaceable pictures were in a ziplock bag in my suitcase and I surveyed what were the other items I would take – some clothing for possibly a week and several other items – my grandmother’s cameo (only important to me), the embroidered handkerchief that I got in Bunaro Venice, Italy for the women in my family to carry / wear on their wedding day and other things many would consider just random stuff.
I was packed in one small carry-on suitcase, tote bag, computer bag and a bag of groceries (truly a bag lady at this point – ha!) and as I walked out the door, I looked around with the possibility of never seeing any of my belongings again. A sobering experience!
Once we evacuated, all of my children were scattered across the state and my sister in Tallahassee with the storm heading her way. All I could do is be present, let go of worry and control. Yes, I was definitely concerned and would have preferred all of my family be together, but once your children are grown, you can express your preferences and then trust them to make the best choices for their families. All of this is the reminder that the only control you have in life is what you do, say and actions you take – the rest is totally out of your control.
The rest of the details are irrelevant at this point. All of my family and friends survived the storm – the ones in St. Thomas, St. Croix, Puerto Rico, the Florida Keys and throughout the entire state. Many experienced a lot of damage and destruction all around them, others a loss of power for many days – most of the state experienced loss of power at some point during the storm.
As I reflect on this experience, the anxiety of the unknown is agonizing and extremely stressful. Experiences like this bring out the best and the worst in people – it gives the world an opportunity to see who you really are. I clearly know who I am and what is important to me – the rest is just stuff in varying varieties!
Have you experienced a life changing event that gave you the opportunity to pause and assess who you really are and what is really important to you? Perhaps you don’t want to wait until the event comes along – pause and do some deep reflection and see what shows up!
The times, they are changing and on a daily basis. I encourage you to embrace the change and treasure life’s constant flow.
Margaret Martin © 2017