By: Jamie Perillo, LPC
Photo by Tina Woods, Publisher of Natural Awakenings Magazine, NYC edition
Almost a month after Hurricane Sandy, many on the East Coast are continuing to feel the effects. Relief efforts are in full swing and families are trying to piece their lives back together. As Thanksgiving is soon upon us, Sandy is a reminder of all that we have to be grateful for.
Here are a few things I learned from Sandy:
1. Sometimes we need to surrender. In an attempt to feel somewhat in control before the storm I cleaned. That’s right – I vacuumed, dusted, washed laundry, and even washed the floors. Somewhere between folding towels and vacuuming I heard myself saying the mantra I was taught and now end my yoga classes with. “Peace to yourself, peace to others, and peace to those things we have no control over.” I realized I was trying to feel in control of something much bigger than myself. I gave up cleaning, surrendered, and sat down to focus on the moment – safe at home with family.
2. I have attachments. In the past decade social media has changed the way we live and it was magnetized for me during the storm. Fortuitously my very outdated scratched screen, flip phone’s time was up two weeks ago. Deciding to update myself, I purchased an IPhone which allowed me to “stay connected” during the hurricane. I was comforted by seeing friend’s posts knowing they were okay, received updates from my newly downloaded Hurricane app, and texted family members for assurance. Then when the power went out I needed to preserve my phone, so I put it aside. When I did this I noticed something – I relaxed. On a typical day, due to my work, my phone is constantly ringing, voicemails are left, and texts and emails are received. Being away from my phone allowed me to observe my attachment as a quiet stress inducer. I was reminded to put it aside more often.
3. Quiet is nice. When the lights were out and the heat off I had little to do but snuggle under my blanket, read by candlelight, and listen to the radio gently playing in the background. I imagined my ancestors years ago living this simply and relaxed into it. I ate dinner by candlelight focusing on the meal instead of TV in the background, telephone calls, or email notifications. My mind and body felt relaxed devoid of all the regular stimulation – as if I had just left a two hour yoga class. Lesson learned. I will unplug more often.
4. We need to take better care of Mother Earth. She can be uncontrollable, relentless, and sometimes even vicious but she’s also beautiful, healing, and a provider of life. As I watched the trees blowing furiously in the wind I noticed the pine trees in the back yard moving to and fro but not budging. I was lucky to keep most of my trees. The next day as I inspected the damage I realized the trees were here first. The recent weather patterns are speaking to us regarding climate change. It is time for us to listen.
5. In times of great despair and suffering people’s good nature shines. News reports cast images of heroic men and women risking their well-being to help others who could not help themselves. Neighbors came together to offer a hand and friends offered their homes for comfort to those who were affected. Why do we wait for tragedies to express this human part of us?
6. Humans have a great capacity to overcome and heal. In his book, Everything Beautiful Began After, Simon Van Booy writes, “After every chapter of devastation, there is a rebuilding; It happens without thought. It happens even when there is no guarantee it won’t happen again. Humans may come and go – but the thread of hope is like a rope we pull ourselves up with. “
I am reminded we have the ability to overcome, to trudge through the messes and puddles and hurts to grow stronger, rebuild, and to heal. When we do this together, lifting one another up, the results are more than what we started with.
7. Focus on appreciation. We live in a fast paced society that is constantly thinking ahead instead of appreciating the moments we are in – hello Christmas commercials in October? I am grateful for the many blessings in my life, my friends and family. Sandy was a reminder these blessings, not things, are what matter.
Today I wish you to remember when to let go, use your supports, appreciate what you have, and know you are stronger than you believe. To those affected by Hurricane Sandy may the road to recovery be an easy one filled with love, support, and comfort from others.