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The Benefits of Hurricane IRMA

I R M A

I= Intelligence

R= Respect

M= Motivation

A= Awareness

For those of us that live and love Florida, Hurricane IRMA created quite a scare. Not only for our personal safety and for the safety of those around us, but also for our homes, businesses, and belongings. For some of us it threatened to take our lives and/or livelihood, and for others it actually did just that.

I’ve read posts asking for and offering assistance. I’ve heard about the “go fund me” pages, read about the outpouring of donations coming from businesses and individuals near and far, and have reached out with the help of many others to support our community with personal care goodie bags. The “human connection” I’m witnessing touches my heart, and makes me feel even more connected to Naples. For me and Rick this has been our home for more than 13 years.

As I’ve read the FaceBook posts and talk to many people around town, I keep reminding myself of the countless lessons I have learned over the past few weeks. (And although it seems like life has been interrupted for many months, it really has only been a few weeks.) I realized that while IRMA was scary, destructive and horrible, it was also AMAZING! Yes, I said AMAZING… and here’s why.

It brought people together. People talked to each other. Neighbors are now friends. We had a chance to connect with old friends, contact family that maybe we haven’t talked to in a while. Met new friends, and so on.

We spent “quality time” (albeit, in homes or shelters, lit by beautiful candle light, bright lanterns, and flashlights of all kinds) playing card and board games, re-introducing ourselves (and children that only know electronic based games) to charades, reading actual books, coloring, and did I mention talking without the TV, ipad, and every internet based distraction possible.  You may have prayed, laughed, cried, consoled, joked, and shared your thoughts, not only on social media, but in person… to one another… like the old days.

The aftermath of destruction, has been even more enlightening. Our beautiful Naples suffered pretty significant damage in some areas. One of the best descriptions I have heard was from my friend Donna; “Cosmetically Naples is without make-up right now…. looking a little rough and worn out from the storm but its authentic heart, soul and spirit, are shining bright and glistening through in the light.” Donna is one of the most positive people I have EVER met, but she is right. We’re all tired and feel slightly haggard. One minute we may feel happy that many of us are ok and it wasn’t worse, and the next minute feel horrible for someone living only a few minutes away that lost everything. The emotions of it all are exhausting and confusing.

But as I said in the very beginning, IRMA is also positive… think of “her” this way…

I= Intelligence We have all gained a sense of intelligence from this experience. How to prepare, what to do and not to do. New phone apps to help us stay connected, what insurance we need, papers are important, evacuation plans, etc. We’re learning if what we did to prepare was good, or not good enough. We’ve gained insight and inspiration that we as a community can and will come together to rebuild our homes, our city, our spirits, our businesses, and our lives.

R= Respect-  We have gained a deeper respect for one another, for our planet, for our bodies, for our property. We can look into someone’s eyes and offer a smile, a nod, a hello, and know we have all experienced something much greater than ourselves. Even if our own lives and livelihoods are “ok”, our “normal” is definitely not the same today as it was a few short weeks ago.

M= Motivation- Many of us are motivated to get our own lives back on track. To make sure things are where we need them to be. Whether dealing with business or personal things, we are motivated to get through the “clean up” and move forward. Some of us are motivated to help those that need something, anything, everything. Whether it’s offering assistance to clean up a yard, or offering a home cooked meal, a place to stay, helping to pack up donations, or collect funds, we are motivated more than ever to connect and stay connected.

A= Awareness- With Mother Nature’s cruel- life altering storms we have become acutely aware that we can’t control everything. We can control our responses, our reactions, and our behaviors before and after situations occur. We have become even more aware of our limitations and our strengths. Finding out what we are truly made of, and what is important to each of us. We are more aware of our neighbors and surroundings, maybe even seeing things through “new eyes”.

The question is, what happens next? What happens when most of the trees are carted away, school is open again, and the news stations find somethings else to talk about? Will we still keep the intelligence? Will we loose the respect? Will our motivation continue? Will we still be aware? I for one will work to continue these things. While I am BEYOND grateful that our home, business, friends and clients are safe and accounted for, I am humbled and in awe of this new “normal” and know that I can

Pier at Sunset in Naples, Florida

never go back. I hope you join me on this journey… there’s too much to do and a short time to get it all done.

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