Lessons Learned and IRMA (Part One)

Yes, we left Miami behind and with it,  “IRMA“. This was not an easy decision to make, but we now know it was the right one. Our apartment is as secured as we could make it, we followed all instructions…..but I am still worried.

We drove without stopping to rest until we left the Florida peninsula. The governor had lifted all tolls, so the Turnpike was a bumper-to-bumper, slow-going ride. At time we were going 8 to 10 miles an hour!!! We did not witness any incidents of road rage or major accidents. People, I am sure, were too involved in their own flight. It was more important to continue moving than to cause more delays.

Gasoline was available in all service stations. They were crazy, but we did not witness any altercations, everyone waited in line for gas or food or the bathroom. State troopers and police were on hand to make everything run smoothly. Still, it was incredible stressful and nerve-wrecking. An experience of a lifetime!!!

It took forever to get out of the Florida peninsula. Turning West, we found as many cars as there were cars moving North. We had reservations at a hotel in Pensacola, but never dreamed we would take that long. When we finally arrived, it was all we can do: take a hot shower and collapse……slept like logs. We got late check-out and after that we sat in the lobby still resting before moving on.

Drove to New Orleans, still encountering heavy traffic. Lots of cars with Florida licenses, I wondered if they had a place to stay along the way. Every hotel, motel and B&B along the way was full to capacity. It was strange to keep driving knowing we had no clue when we can get back home.

Thankfully, we had a special place to stay in the city. The daughter of a dear friend, family really, who opened her home to us. We had a lovely time and are so grateful!!! After that, we arrived in Houston, to spent time with our son. Here we are for the forseeable future…..a short time, we hope.

Now, here is what I learned from my first major hurricane experience:

1- Always plan to evacuate, even when you are securing your home and getting ready to stay. You never know what Mother Nature has in store, all weather forecasters can do is predict. That is not criticism, it’s a sad reality…. look what is happening in Jacksonville, never even mentioned when Irma was approaching Florida.

2- Once you have decided to leave or ordered to leave, plan on flying out. Do not even consider driving, unless you are young and healthy and full of energy. Trust me, evacuation by car is no picnic. You can be stuck for hours or days on the road. Now, if flying is not an option, please make reservations in hotels along the way, it will be impossible to just walk into any of them and get a room. Reservations can always be cancelled!!!

3- If you decide to stay, listen to all directives from authorities. If you don’t lose power, keep tract of the storm as it moves into your area, take cover when needed and make sure you have all you need with you when you do. This can safe your life, stuff in your home can be replaced!!!

4- There is nothing you can do once you have evacuated or decided to stay. Keep calm and relax, you have done all you can. You now have no control of the situation, only of your reaction to it. That will make the difference.

5- It is a sad truth, but I have now reaffirmed my belief that it is in dire situations when humanity is at its best. I cannot thank enough our family and friends who kept in touch, offered help and prayers and kept us hopeful. I saw calm and helpful folks on the road and service stations, people helping people…it was wonderful. Wish it was the same when times are happy!!!

Finally, I am certain that this experience will help me continue with my project to give away, throw away and donate things I really have no use for anymore. I am more convinced than ever that a simple lifestyle will be a happier lifestyle for me and my husband. At the end of the day, we are safe, we didn’t lose our home, we are healthy and grateful. We’ll see what our way back brings, what lessons will teach us and what we will find when we get back home.

P.S. Photo 1: view from my balcony…..Photo 2: my balcony, my happy place…hoping it has not been too badly battered.

 

Don’t Take Yourself too Seriously…..

After all, not everyone does. How many times have we heard this? How many times have we really consider that fact? For one, I have and countless times. As you probably do, I ignored it. Now, that has changed, like so many other things in my life. It is simple.

We, as a society, are so self-involved, so preoccupied with our self-importance that we fail to see that others do not really care about our opinions, our rules or our dictates. In this time and age, you would be ignored unless you are a celebrity, or a trendsetter or a politician. Yes, people imitate and take seriously the most unlikely people.

Most people have strong opinions about everything and assume others do. If not, they assume those others do not know anything. These opinions are taken very seriously and expressed in no uncertain terms. Unfortunately, those listening also have their strong opinions. I have learned that there is nothing to gain by admonishing anyone on the right or wrong way of doing things. Nothing to gain about expecting others to adhering to rules you find essential. Really, is it a wonder why some of us are not laughed at out loud more often or worse.

Yes, continue to do things as you seem fit or as you like. By all means, you have to live life in your own terms. Do not expect everyone to admire you or follow your lead or accept you are right. On the contrary, most may just roll their eyes, laugh condescendingly or they will yell and insult you. It’s the way it is, accept it and move on.

Never mind what others think, dress as you like, do what you love. The problem is not that, the problem is that we do not respect anyone’s opinions, we don’t allow anything we disagree with to be expressed. People want to be taken seriously all the time. Their opinions are the right ones, their views are sacrosanct. Anything else must be excluded, made fun of and suppressed.

How sad!!! How are we going to grow intellectually and spiritually and socially if are never challenged or contradicted? How are we going to make this a better world if do not engage with the ones we disagree with? So, yes, be yourself, but don’t take yourself too seriously. Above all, respect others and their right to differ with you. It is that, in my humble opinion, the cause of all the hatred in the world today. Do not tell me it’s the lack of love, you cannot love what you do not respect.

 

Lessons Learned and Yard Sales

Last weekend, my daughter organized a Spring Yard Sale. After spending weeks getting everything together, pricing, etc., we dropped all the goodies for sale at her cousin’s home on Friday. On Saturday, earlier than my usual wake up time, we left our apartment and headed to Vivi’s home.

She had already set up the tables, chairs and was waiting for us. Everything was unpacked and displayed. Water containers with lemon slices and plastic cups were set up in the shade……it promised to be a very hot day. People were already waiting to check out the stuff for sale.

I have to admit, garage or yard sales are not my thing. Staying out in the heat and sweating are completely against my better judgement, but this was important for Camille. What else could I do, but enjoy the adventure. I was also in charge of the money, sort of the banker. Big responsibility, but it allowed me to stay out of the sun and try to sell anything. Not very good at that and haggling is another trick I have not mastered.

So I took a large cup of lemon water, put my chair in the shade and observed the girls in action. Soon, they were selling, haggling, taking money for me to give change. Camille was smooth and collected, very friendly. She talked about everything with the potential buyers, got to know a bit about them and tried to find out what she could sell them.

Many came already for some specific item, others browsed and looked things over. Those were the ones that bought more!!! Haggling, as I said, it’s not my strength and I cannot sell water to a thirsty man, but my daughter can do this with such ease. I was impressed.

Once we got back home on the Sunday, counted our profits and ready to give away what was left…..I reflected on what did I learned. We always learn wanting to or not. So here it is.

I learned that you must never underestimate the power of young women out on a mission. Never, ever think you can teach them, but not learn from them. It was something I am sure I have learned before, but after years of being a mother…..I have conveniently forgotten.

I learned that a glass of lemon water in your hand can lead to conversation. Can start an exchange of ideas and can make you wonder why didn’t you think of that before.

I learned that sitting in the shade, under a canopy of trees, can offer more than comfort. It can attract others and soon laughter and chatter will surround you……you’ll be completely at easy with strangers.

I learned that no matter how much you think you know about something, there are people who would present you with another view, another twist to the story or another solution to a problem….and you just met them!!

I learned that age has nothing to do with anything and at the end of the day you have found so much in common with young women that could be your daughters. Just listen, watch their passion, it’s refreshing.

I learned that politics can be discuss in harmony, without offending anyone. There is not need for insults of any kind, there is a better way because we all are looking for the best for those we love.

I learned that I would do this again in a second because life is short and everything we enjoyed should be repeated.

Thank you, Camille, Vivi and Karina