Today, the clothing shown is from my closet. Just after hurricane Irma, a reader sent me a note saying, “Hi, I live in Alabama, and wanted you to know I am thinking of you and praying for you and all Floridians dealing with the storm. I know it must be very difficult. Here in Alabama, the weather is really nice. My family and I are planning a cook out. I feel guilty enjoying it, knowing that so many people are suffering.” I’ve been there. In fact, we, my family and I, were in the direct path of hurricane Irma’s “eye” the most dangerous part of the storm. To say we were stressed would be an understatement. We sat in our home, hunkered down, knowing the Keys had been almost completely obliterated. Next, the storm headed up the coast, people’s properties were battered—heck just a few miles from here the damage was very severe, downed power lines, flooding, trees uprooted into people’s homes—friends were with out power for days, no gas, grocery shelves nearly empty…people who had evacuated, sat in traffic gridlock, trying to get home to survey the damage to their homes, while here, in my little villa, we came away completely unscathed, we didn’t even loose power for an instant.
As I ventured out, the day after the storm, with bugs and birds having resumed their songs, my neighbors and I breathed a collective sigh of relief. We shared a sense of jubilation and guilt, how lucky we were! Back at my keyboard, I wondered could I, should I, resume writing about eyeshadows and the latest in fall fashion, or should I write about the trauma we had just experienced? Should I write about the tole such events take on our lives, the stress, and the struggles some of us are enduring? In the days before television and radio, it might have been months before the outside world would know of a disaster. People would have gone on with their lives without knowing of the suffering of their neighbors, say 100 miles away. Today, however, we turn on the television and hear about a myriad of disasters, murders…all manner of horrible things…and if we spent our time living in deference to everyone’s suffering, we would not be present to our own lives and blessings. And, if you are like me, the stress would ultimately wear down your health rendering you incapable of helping, even yourself. This is not to say we should not be compassionate. This is not to say we should not help. This is not to say that we should not pray for each other. We definitely should, and I do. I am a firm believer in volunteering and have put my money where my mouth is. I have been on post disaster teams, I’ve donated money, food, blood and household items, and continue to do so. I think we must help when called upon. Offering our prayers as well as giving what we have to a cause is both powerful and necessary. Yet, there have been times in my life that I was so immersed in other peoples problems and lives that I was not tending to my own needs. I did not notice the blessings God had given me. I did not address my own issues, nor allow myself to look at, let alone heal my own wounds because I was so involved with everyone else. Over time, my body revolted, and for several years, I was sick, just well enough to care for myself and my family. Still, I volunteer, donate to, and pray for people in need, people who are enduring hardships, and people who struggle. I have come to see that after life’s crises, comes renewal and new growth. Having weathered many a storm at this point in my life, I see that things don’t stay bad forever; life is constantly changing and moving. Each decision and step builds upon it self, and each moment we move further and further away from the epicenter of our crisis. So to the woman in Alabama, I responded: “Dear friend, Please don’t feel guilty, nor should you not enjoy your day. Thank you so very much for your prayers—I believe prayers can move mountains. Love your family and friends. Help where you are called to help, give from deep in your heart without expecting anything in return. Live fully, live well. Know that every life must endure storms, but after every storm, the sun shines again.” I know this may seem a bit cliche, but it is heart felt. We must live our lives to the fullest. Today, we are dusting off the camera, and putting on some fancy duds. I’m going to talk about my favorite eye shadows, skin care and my new shoes, so stay tuned.