I heard about Hurricane Irma many days ago. Every time I hear of such an event my first thought is, “I hope it does not come here.” Being a person who believes in positivity, I take it a step further and wish good thoughts that it would absolutely blow away. This time, my powerful good thoughts did not work, and I found myself facing Irma, eye to eye, and wondering which of us would win this match.
The few days leading up to one of the worst storms in Florida, one that affected the entire state, seemed very long. There was a lot of preparation to do. Outside our house, which sits on five acres, we had to move equipment, chairs, and various tools used for the property. Everything had to be removed or secured, and it took all six of us in my family to diligently work together to clear everything. We knew that once the winds started, our opportunity to secure the property would no longer be available.
I used my martial art experiences and mindset throughout. I do not know any other way. When fear or worry creeps into my mind, my reaction naturally turns to martial arts. A few times I stopped in the midst of preparing, walked to my bedroom, closed the door, practiced a Tai Chi form or exercise or breathing, then went back to the work at hand. The martial art mindset and practice was refreshing, even though I was sweating from the heat and worried about the unknown. I knew that I had to prepare mentally and internally just as carefully as I was physically preparing for what was to come.
My home is a steel kit consisting of two stories and 3000 square feet. During the building phase several years ago, we actually found ourselves in an unfortunate situation where we lived in this unfinished house for five years without electricity. We had a generator that we ran sporadically if we needed, but other than that, we lived without it.
Losing power in this storm never was as worrisome to me as other things, because of those five years. Electricity is a convenience, and I can live without it (read my steel kit story in my book, The Martial Arts Woman: https://goo.gl/dA1ojZ on Amazon). Many people are fearful of not having their modern conveniences by their sides at all times. My only concern was safety.
After the power went out, we all shared a couple of flashlights, some candles, and a plan as we sat together, listening. After some hours, I fell asleep on the couch which was on the side of the house away from the whipping winds. My family went to different areas of the house, all adjacent to interior safe rooms. I woke up many times to the sound of the wind ripping through the trees outside, only to tell myself to relax. There was nothing more to be done. I had to rely on my steel built home and the hurricane windows that were supposed to withstand winds up to 140 mph.
I finally woke up to realize that the storm had passed. Power was out and my family was still asleep. It was as if I had been in a dream. Water flooded some of the back yard and some of the front. One oak tree in the back split in half. Leaves were strewn throughout. The damage was minimal.
I was, above all, thankful.
I learned a lot about greed during this event. Once people heard about the hurricane, they went to the stores and purchased as much bottled water as they could, without allotting much for the rest of us. The recommendation was to buy enough for your sized family for several days, but many let fear become greed and they bought up as much as they could, leaving little for others. The same happened with gas, and eventually, it ran out.
I also learned a lot about judgment. People on social media bashed those of us who stayed through the storm. Many do not realize that the evacuation zones are there for a reason. Zone A is for those near the water. If those in Evacuation E (the zone least likely to contend with storm surge) try to evacuate while Zone A is still getting out, it inhibits those who really need to leave. Each person/family must weigh their options. If they can stay home safely (hurricane-proofing, boarding windows, hurricane shutters) and withstand the winds, then sheltering in place is a viable option. As in every situation, judgment, especially if you are not in the situation, is a negative energy that does not help anyone.
Mostly, what I learned is that we truly need very little to survive, and what we need the most is each other. Fortunately, I am surrounded by positive, hopeful people who give me the positive energy that I need to push through the most difficult times. This, combined with my martial art mindset, gives me true strength.
Today, as I look out the window with my power on, I remain positive and hopeful for the many people who are still waiting for their electricity to be restored. I am so fortunate and blessed to be safe with my family and still have every belonging in tact.
Before the hurricane hit, I told myself what I always tell myself in very difficult situations.
This, too, shall pass.
Honestly, I am not sure if Irma won this match, or if I did. Eye to eye, I think I have the advantage. I can see a lot more than Irma can. Now, it is time to move forward. Let’s see what obstacles we can overcome and what barriers we can break, today.
This book shares the stories and insights of more than twenty-five women in the martial arts, and how they apply martial arts to their lives.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Andrea F. Harkins is a writer, motivator, life coach, martial artist, and public speaker. She was inducted into the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame in July, 2017. Her book, The Martial Arts Woman, is now available at themartialartswoman.storenvy.com.