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Giving thanks: How I lost my house and gained clarity of mind

If someone told me three weeks ago that everything I knew would change overnight I would have never believed them.  But that became mine and countless other families’ reality in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

The lessons learned since then have been extraordinary. A strange thing happens when you are forced to deal with trauma. The mind and body almost seem to slow down to process stimuli minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day until you get through it. It is completely living in the present. As my husband said, it’s “from frightening to enlightening.” Life and death become clearer than ever and everything is shown in their true nature.

Superstorm Sandy taught me some important points:

1) Nothing can take away your knowledge, your experiences and your peace of mind.

2) Anything that can be replaced is not worth much.

3) Be flexible, embrace change. Humans are highly adaptable.

4) Receive with honor and pay forward kindness and generosity.

5) Learn from children, who are by nature pure and brave.

6) Never sacrifice the present for the future.

7) Simply saying “I am sorry” is a generous gift.

8) There is always opportunity wrapped within a challenge.

9) Possibilities are endless. Never feel locked down to reality. You can always change.

There was a lot of magic in the days and weeks after Superstorm Sandy. Strangers and neighbors embraced like family and the feeling of “we are all in this together” permeated the city. Everyone humbly expressed their gratitude that it could have been much worse.

Since Sandy, my family has relocated to a very old-school Italian neighborhood and we have all found solace in the local coffee shop. It is a place where men sit huddled in small groups drinking espresso and discussing world events. It took me a full week to pay for my own cappuccino. In the words of Pauly, a local patron, “if you can talk about it then you got no problems.” Pauly had a point. “Fuggheddabout it.”

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