Oh Irma, how I hate you, and I love you

Nothing like a monstrously large hurricane to get you back into the swing of things!

After a 5 week long summer vacation, I was ready to come back home, and get back to work. Unfortunately, Nature had other plans…

Hurricane Irma arrived in Miami 9 days after I got back home. This means that less than a week after landing in Miami International Airport, I was in full Hurricane prep and evacuation mode.

Admittedly, I’m not one to freak out easily. Born and raised in Miami, I’m used to hurricanes threatening our shores, then veering up to the Carolinas, or in more recent years, bypassing Florida and going into the Gulf (thanks Climate Change).

But this hurricane was different. I contemplated staying around home, at my moms or maybe a friends place on higher ground, but having two cats seems to create more difficulties in finding safe shelter, since most people, like me, are allergic to cats.

Thankfully, my dear friend and former neighbor De, had moved up to Ocala, into a 2/2 house. As soon as I called her, she knew exactly why I was calling, and told me she had dreamed about us coming. She already had it all figured out. There was plenty of room for us and any family members who wanted to come, plus the kitties could comfortably hang out in the enclosed Florida room, since she too is allergic to their adorable dander.

While everyone remembers the traumatic tales of blown out windows, flooded homes, and demolished properties, I always have fairly fond memories of hurricanes.

I’m blessed that I’ve personally never been to badly affected by one, and even if I’m speaking too soon (with the high probability that my apt is flooded as I type), my memories of this hurricane are already filled with good times.

Since De moved here to Ocala, I have yet to come visit her and her adorable 19 month old baby. I was with her throughout her entire pregnancy, one of the first to visit her after she was born, and I even helped her pack and move up here.

But in the year she’s lived here, there was never “enough time” to come visit. The busy day-to-day life never seemed to allow a long weekend or several days to come up. But thanks to Irma, both Jon and I have been enjoying lots of quality time with dear friends for a very long weekend.

Of course, I wish there wasn’t a hurricane destroying most of my neighborhood and surrounding islands and municipalities, but that doesn’t mean I can’t also be grateful for the extra down time, tons of laughter with the baby, and delicious home cooked meals we’re making everyday.

Life is never exclusively black or white, this or that. Like this moment here and now, there are two very true truths - I’m very happy, grateful, and calm, AND I'm worried and dare I day it - scared.

With the excessive polarization happening in our country, I feel this is the most important lesson needed. To understand that nothing is ever absolute, and if someone is trying to tell you it MUST be one way or the other, they’re either lying to you, themselves, or both.

It is perfectly possible to be sad, and experience joy. To be practical, and experience peace.
Most often, we can’t feel these conflicting emotions simultaneously, but we can transition from them with relative ease and grace when we simply give ourselves time to let them pass.

When we make room for the both-ness, which is a much more accurate image of life, we can know that we are not lying to ourselves, but merely acknowledging the reality of the situation.

It’s ok to stop worrying for a minute, and celebrate the present moment with a kombucha tasting, because you’re so happy to finally have met your friends brother, who is also brewing and selling kombucha. It’s ok to check in with everyone, feel the concern for their well-being, then continue making lunch, and playing with the baby.

Feelings/emotions are meant to move us, not keep us frozen. For this reason, to be truly relaxed and experience peace and joy, we must ALSO make space for the stress, and unpleasant experiences of life along the way.

Because neither is exclusively good or bad, they are all relative. Stress, fear, and worry is what got me to raise my Tempurpedic bed on cinderblocks, get in touch with many friends and family, and spend 10 hours in traffic evacuating to Ocala.

Joy, calmness, and being able to stay in the present moment allows me to enjoy the yelps of laughter as the baby plays with “the meow-meows”, relish long philosophical conversations with wise friends, and share my insights as the breeze keeps me cool in the Florida room.

Opposite truths can - and do - coexist. Both are necessary; both are useful. By demonizing one, you instantly negate the validity of the other.

Hurricanes, like wildfires, are actually beneficial in Nature. They stir up nutrients deep within the waters, and cool down excessively hot land and waters. So while it may disrupt our human lives, the more we continue to warm the planet with fossil fuels and unsustainable practices, the more disasters like these will keep doing their job, of keeping the planet as stable as it can.

Like the waters deep within me, the desire to write and share have been stirred up. May the cooling effects of this massive storm cool my tendency towards perfectionism, which often keeps me from sharing in the first place.

My biggest and constant prayer, is that our excessive preparations be in vain. May all being affected by this storm find the calm within, savor the quality time with themselves or whomever they’re hunkered down with, and safely weather the largest storm in the Atlantic Ocean.

For those of you outside the affected areas, please, donate to the charities you feel help the most. While the Red Cross is the most popular, and does great work, others I love to support are Distributing Dignity and Undies for Everyone.

If donating is outside our your budget, prayers and love are always appreciated, and if you’re ready to take it a step further, let’s start taking climate change more seriously, and voting for representatives willing to move to a more sustainable economy!

For those of us being affected right now, breathe often and breathe deeply. Cherish every moment that doesn’t need to be more stressful than it is. And if, heaven forbid, you are in real, immediate danger, keep breathing, and follow your gut to safety. May we all get through this safely. Amen. Aho. All One.