Surviving the Storms of Life
I’ll be honest
— living in the ‘sunshine paradise’ of South Florida has been a
good deal more challenging lately than many of us ever
expected. I’ll spare you the details of the billions of dollars
in damages, the lives lost, and the utter devastation in Central
and Northern Florida and the Caribbean, where entire countries
As our fourth
hurricane in six weeks came hurtling toward our homes and
businesses, a Miami Herald headline summed it up well: “WE’VE
HAD ENOUGH”! This really sounds like life, doesn’t it? There’s
so much about our lives that seems out of our control. It’s
quite easy to see ourselves as victims, isn’t it?
What can we
learn from all of this, whether we are in Miami or Montana?
Let’s consider this from the point of view of living
pro-actively rather re-actively, of being responsible rather
than helpless or out of control.
Six Lessons from the Storms
Life is unpredictable.
No matter how exacting your radar or early your warning, Mother
Nature, just like Life Itself, can take an unexpected turn and
hurt you — even wipe you out entirely. On the other hand,
a storm can also turn suddenly, slow down or miss you
completely, as six hurricanes in a row did for much of South
We can fret
about what’s going to happen to us, or our business, or, we can
be diligent beforehand and have our materials and supplies on
hand at the beginning of the season. We can act early to be as
protected as we reasonably can be and then relax into knowing
we’ve done our best.
It means we can
take our energy back and put it to good use rather than wringing
our hands uselessly. If a storm or tornado does hit us, we pick
up the pieces, do what’s needed and get moving forward again.
2. Modern conveniences are not necessities!
of us take for granted being able to get a cold drink from the
frig, contact our friends and family with the touch of a few
buttons and take a hot shower or bath in a comfortably cool
When you have
no electricity, even a warm cup of coffee or soup is a delicacy
and batteries to read by, a luxury. For much of the world these
are neither conveniences nor necessities, but only a dream. In
everything, we can find something for which we can be thankful.
3. Give something back.
Consider others who may be worse off. It’s natural to bemoan
our losses and frustration at what may seems like an aberration.
After we dust ourselves off and take stock of our own lives and
losses, its time to reach out. It was truly heart-warming to
see the caravans of police, contractors and all types of workers
trucking supplies and aid to the devastated families and
business throughout the Southeast. Many gave generously of
their time, money, clothes and household goods. Many held the
high watch with love and prayers.
What is irreplaceable?
I had the
chance to counsel dozens of families at a Red Cross Center after
hurricane Andrew ripped a wide swath across South Florida 10
years ago. Nearly all household goods and items can eventually
be replaced, but to me, the most heart-breaking stories were
from the people who had lost wedding albums, baby pictures and
family heirlooms No matter where you live, maybe its time to
get at least some of those photos digitized and email them to
friends and relatives in others states.
refugees who must flea to another county .If you had to pack a
small bag with your most precious possessions, what would be in
it? Consider everything you own and make a list so that you
could collect and retrieve these items on a moments notice. And
then reflect on what this small bag says about you?
5. You will survive and rebuild.
It’s natural to feel depressed, overwhelmed or completely
disheartened after any disaster. The effects of traumatic
stress can be far-reaching and insidiously subtle. You may
choose to seek counseling from a clergy member or therapist, or
seek the advice of a coach or colleague. Understanding this is
the first step of a rebuilding that will take time and patience
6 Ask for support or assistance.
Don’t be afraid (or too proud or embarrassed!) to ask for
assistance, or to offer it. Expressing, participating and
sharing anything of value also opens the door for you to
receive. Hoarding may stop the flow of good to you as well.
After a disaster of any kind, seek out others who are positive
thinkers, others who are also rebuilding and spiritually
positive in their beliefs.
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Please feel free to send me your comments or your thoughts
and strategies for surviving life’s storms and I’ll include them
in a future newsletter.