In the Aftermath

Growing-up in Florida, you get used to tracking storms. Should I stay or should I go is commonplace in the midst of an approaching hurricane. Many of us know what it’s like to stay and/or to leave, along with the fear for people on the other end. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the fear of the storm that we lose sight of what is happening in the moment. I know it’s not just people in Florida who go through fear of natural disasters. There are earthquakes, tornados, fires, tsunamis, landslides, floods, and erupting volcanoes just to name a few other natural disasters that can have effects on how we choose to live. What we do when we are faced with these natural disasters says a lot about the people we are choosing to be. We will see the best and/or worst in ourselves if we dare to look at the thoughts that move through our heads. As I write this, Hurricane Dorian is hovering over the Bahamas going 1 mph. 

Just a couple days ago the track was aimed to move through Florida and I was consumed with the thoughts about the people I loved. As I sit here thinking about residents of the Bahamas, I’m brought back to evacuating from Hurricane Katrina and wondering if my ex-boyfriend and his family were alive since they lived in-between Biloxi, MS and New Orleans, LA. I remember searching every website trying to find out if each family member was alive. The feeling of dread haunted me when I didn’t see everyone’s name in his family reported as safe. I remember my shaking fingers as I dialed the number listed and talking to my ex’s father as he told me that they still couldn’t find his brother and how his house was leveled. 

Now, I sit and think about all the loved ones, families, friends, co-workers and community members who are going through those same fears of losing people, homes, and their communities and I know for some, the next few weeks and months will be the longest of their lives.

I think about all the people who have been affected by these natural disasters changing their lives and what it does to them anytime they see another one hit the news. In all the sadness and devastation, I can’t help but remember all the heroes who come in and step up. The first responders whether it is their career or just the power of their humanity that shines through to be there during and/or in the aftermath. The best in humanity is the only place I can find peace in these situations, so that is where I do my best to focus. 

I learn a lot from nature, so watching human reactions to natural disasters is fascinating to me. It shows us what is in the hearts of the people around us along with what we are made of ourselves. We are not perfect, I’m not telling people to shame themselves for everything they are not doing. It is important that we are honest with ourselves. This is how we will best serve the people suffering around us. We can’t let ourselves shut down or ignore what is going on inside of us. We need to be conscious of who we want to be. How can we help decrease the suffering? We are not all first responders. Some of us are better in the aftermath of the storm after the dust is settled and it’s time to re-build. We all have special skills that can benefit humanity. What are yours? 

  • Is it giving people hugs?
  • Is it a listening ear?
  • Is it writing or playing music that helps people cope?
  • Is it having money to help survivors with food, water, clothing, housing, etc.?
  • Is it having time to volunteer at shelters or passing out water and supplies?
  • Is it writing with compassion that will help inspire the humanity in others?
  • Is it encouraging others to spread their gifts?
  • Is it your hands and strength to help communities re-build?
  • Is it your prayers and the positive energy you are able to send out into the world?
  • Is it your ability to be a friend to support others who are on the frontlines?
  • Is it fundraising?

The list goes on and on because there are so many individuals needed to help a community of people recover from the aftermath of natural disasters. What’s important is that our humanity shines through, no matter what that looks like. We are accountable for our thoughts, beliefs, actions, and reactions. How will you serve humanity in the aftermath? 

  • Will you choose to be the best version of yourself today?
  • Will you choose to use your unique skills to help others?
  • Will you choose to serve humanity with the love and compassion that each individual deserves?

Hug your families, loved ones, and friends. Be grateful for what you have in this very moment—Even if all you can do is focus on one breath at a time.  Take stock of what is truly important. 

With Love and Gratitude, 

Rachael Wolff

Upcoming book:

Letters from A Better Me: How Becoming an Empowered Woman Transforms the World (click the title to find out more)

What Now, Irma?

After taking our unplanned road trip to Georgia, we got to experience some of Irma for ourselves. Since the kids won’t be going back to school until Monday, I decided to wait out some of the chaos of worrying about gas stations having electricity and/or gas at all. I also would let all those desperate to get home to have the road. I really didn’t want to be on the road with so many people who were so exhausted and in fear of what they would find on the other end of their drives. I know it was hard enough keeping my focus as I left Florida.

Many of my friends went home to be stuck without A/C in 90°F weather, no gas, and limited food and water. Many wishing they would have stayed up this way a little longer. Lots of my Naples friends are without cell service, so I sit and wait for limited communications through Facebook and other sources. I see pictures upon pictures of damage and devastation to areas I’ve grown up. Though most of my friends and family were lucky during the storm, their battle with Irma is still not over and won’t be for a long time to come. Her damage was extensive and many areas outside of what we see on the news were affected. Truthfully, how do we even begin to cover it all?

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As I sit here, I wonder about going home. There is now a rising river that may cause problems on my journey. UGH!!!!! Seriously, I thought it would be good to let some time pass before going back, and now it might come with a price. I’m once again faced with: Do I go now? Do I wait? I’m sitting in utter disbelief of all the problems Irma is causing. Deaths are not over; now we have heat exhaustion and issues with carbon monoxide poisoning from generators getting us. Some of my single mom friends are struggling to get food because it is cash only, and they don’t have any cash. Tears are filling my eyes as the words come out.

I’m very guilty of sitting on the outside, thinking that once a storm is over it’s done. Without having people on the inside it can be difficult to see how hard it really is in the aftermath of it all. I’ve been through many hurricanes, but not one that has caused this much widespread damage. I can’t stop thinking about all the areas that are being hit by natural disasters now. All the fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, and flooding are consuming my mind of how they affect each individual person having to go through them or have family and friends going through them. The thoughts and feelings are overwhelming.

To love is to recognize yourself in another.

– Eckhart Tolle

I will keep my heart in a loving place. I will keep praying for all those who are suffering. I will continue to love openly. I know that my love is more important than my pain. I won’t try to hide from my feelings and pretend they are not there. I’m proud to feel all the feelings that are going through me. I don’t want to be numb for this. I need to be able to show up for my family, friends, strangers, and myself in the most loving way possible. This is how I will get through.

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff ©2017