Journal Style Post – Forgive the Length
I can’t believe it’s been a week and a half since the chaos started. Today is Wednesday the 13th. It’s felt like weeks and weeks and weeks of stress related to national disasters.
I’m from Houston, TX. My sister who lives in Houston left Houston before Harvey hit, but we sat there and watched the water creep up, the levy’s and dams get released, all our family fine but then new concerns of flooding day after day. It was so so stressful – we begged our mom to fly to FL but she wanted to stay. Then watching the devastation. It was so many days of stress, worry, concern, fear, sadness.
We were calling and texting all day every day.
Then after a few days or a week, everyone’s attention turned to the Atlantic where Hurricane Irma was brewing. The prediction of a Cat 5 coming for South Florida led my sister to book a ticket back to Houston and we booked me a ticket back to Houston for the next day.
Saturday 1 full week before the storm my brother in law said let’s buy water, I balked at it and said let’s wait. By Sunday stores were out. It had become insanity over the weekend. So we joined and went and got our food etc.
We were so confident that I was going to get myself and the children out before the hurricane. We booked the ticket and never double checked it.
We were getting inundated by my Houston side family checking on our plan, what was going to happen – after Hurricane Harvey, my whole Houston family was on alert.
In South Florida in my close family we have 12 little ones, 10 under the age of 7 in 4 houses, it makes for awesome holiday and bday celebrations, but when you have So Many Different Personalities you are dealing with, it’s tough to coordinate a hurricane safety plan.
I focused on preparing for my house, informing some of my “with it” family members in the other houses of exactly what I was doing so they could do the same in real time, and just buying extra in case other houses would need assistance.
For Irma, my sister and I packed up everything valuable, and moved it to the 2nd floor for fear of storm surge. We bought water, batteries, snack food for the kids, and packed it all ready to go in case we needed to move inland to stay with family or at my husbands office. I brought in everything from outside, did the usual.
Because I knew I was going to Houston, I packed all my valuables into luggage for my sister and I to take. She warned me numerous times, Look at Harvey, you could come home to NOTHING, pack everything that matters. So I did.
- Every external hard drive that holds a photo, every memory stick that could hold old files or photos, every photo memory stick, every camera. My laptop. The iPads. That was first priority.
- Then important documents. We keep one file organized with passports, social security cards, birth certificates, marriage license, car and house papers, etc. Every important contract related to my company.
- Then notebooks with all the notes from Consultant meetings, important meetings, all our genius marketing plans that we are still implementing for my company, those got packed.
- I packed my infamous to me red dress that I wore when I spoke at Office Depot Symposium. I packed valuable jewelry and bags. Things that I wouldn’t replace easily afterwards.
- Then I didn’t know what to pack.
- The furniture can’t go. So I started moving everything that mattered to me to my second floor in case of flooding. Diwali stuff that’s hard to replace, paintings people have made for me. All the marketing materials for my company that would not be fun to replace. My buddha statues. Miscellaneous stuff that seemed important. But all of it, I accepted if the roof caved in and took it all away. It’s a very very weird feeling to prepare to evacuate an area, and let go of all of your physical attachments. It definitely rocked me. It made me realize how much time we spend on the STUFF, not staying present to the people. The people are who matter, I took my 2 children and evacuated, as long as I had them, nothing else mattered. (I would have liked to have taken my husband with me, he never plans to leave for any hurricanes)
- So I sent half my electronics and hard drives with my sister, Wednesday evening, I got home from their airport after dropping her. She felt so uneasy leaving me. She kept saying I wish I could take you with me, something doesn’t feel right, I should stay. I assured her no worries I’ll see you tomorrow morning in Houston.
- All my luggage was lined up by the front door ready for a 7:50 flight to Houston Thursday morning, I get home and go to check in, and it won’t let me. I try once, twice, it keeps saying you can’t check in yet. Then it dawns on me, Shivani, look at the date. I prayed, God please change it before I look. PLEASE. Turns out, we booked the ticket for a week LATER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THE FOLLOWING THURSDAY!! I was so devastated. So disappointed. So frustrated. I told my sister and from her flight she mobilized the troops and had my entire family on the phone and internet trying to get me new tickets out, to no avail. We kept trying. No tickets. After that, I made peace with it. I thought – I made my bed, now I have to lie in it. My sister said you’re giving up!!!! I had lost hope.
- I was so shocked. I pride myself on being so organized, having everything in such order. How could I make such a careless error? MY stuff was packed for an AWESOME week in HOUSTON TEXAS – a week I’d been craving since the summer. I wanted to go home, eat my moms food, see my Houston family, go back to my old hangouts, work out with my sis, get time with all my family. I hadn’t seen them since november 2016. AND somehow I had f***** all that up? really???
- I had even left my husband Triple Quadruple Extra Ready for a Hurricane, my dining table was organized with: 5 charged flashlights, 5 candles, 5 lighters, 5 matchboxes, 8 iPhone iPad cables (even though he has one phone), 5 charged cell phone boosters with their charger cables, baby wipes, bug spray. Then a basket of towels in case of water leaking in doors. Then 2 boxes of bedding and pillows in case he and his brothers slept at his office. Then 5 Whole Foods bags full of non-perishable snacks. Extra large ziplock bags and garbage bags in case things had to be loaded quickly. 3 plastic big boxes in case for loading and unloading. A cooler. 2 umbrellas. A fridge full of reusable bottles filled with water. A freezer full of ice in bags. A fridge with 2 days of prepared food ready to heat and eat. I had spent so much time preparing for him to be all set up and ready, because he chose to stay.
I couldn’t spend 5 minutes during this week of preparation to LOOK AT MY DAMN AIRLINE TICKET AND CONFIRM IT WAS FOR THE RIGHT DATE.
I’ve noticed since having little kids I make mistakes like these. Somewhat often. Tiny mistakes. Most people wouldn’t notice but I do. Forgetting little things. My little ones occupy both my hands, most of my brain, and so much of my energy, that by evening I’m brain dead and spent, 90% of the time unless I plan ahead and recharge a lot along the way. It’s usually totally fine – these little mistakes. This time, it wasn’t. IT REALLY WASN’T. This time I had made a mistake that would put my 2 children in the wake of a Category 5 Hurricane. It was unfathomable to me.
I honestly don’t know how to be any more detailed and conscientious than I already am. But apparently I need to dig deep and pay more attention. There’s room for improvement there 🙁
- Thursday morning was total chaos. I woke up ready to stay. Got hurricane shutters put on. Sandbags done to my house, my brother-in-laws house, and my husbands office. My children were playing. I had no ticket to leave and no one cold book one. We kept looking. My family kept calling and texting every 5 minutes with options, but when anyone tried to BUY the ticket, it was gone. Airlines said they kept adding tickets – we couldn’t find them. (By the way – I TRULY DO NOT UNDERSTAND how the airlines were so disorganized that before the storm ever came near key west SO MANY FLL flights were cancelled Thursday, Friday, that made No Sense At All To Me).
- Thursday by noon my family said: Please leave for Orlando. Please Go. We have close friends there. My husband said you’re here, just stay, we’ll be fine. And my Houston family also threw their hands in the air and said please make an executive decision. We are sick of begging you. This is your life and your 2 children. Make a decision. It was honestly so tough. I closed myself in my room, silenced my phone for once, and just sat with it. I had to make my own adult decision. My gut said go. Based on the inputs I had. Based on the trajectory of the storm. Based on very well informed people who I respect saying Orlando was safer than FLL. So I decided to go. My luggage was by the door, I packed food expecting an 8-10 hour drive and left.
- My youngest sister in law has a 2 week old baby. I consider all 12 little ones in my close FLL family to be my children. I urged everyone else to go with me, but consensus at that point was impossible. So I loaded who I could with what I could, and left. It was surreal. Just surreal. We left so panicked, stressed, mentally exhausted from the 1000 texts and calls over 3 hours back and forth, burnt out, I had slept badly the night before, nothing was undoing the latent exhaustion from days of fear and concern.
- So I did what I usually do in these situations. I took 10 minutes for me. True Focused Self Care. I needed to recharge and be strong for everyone. I took all my supplements. My Fusionary supplements. Everything for immune support that I usually take (the week’s stress had given me a cold I was fighting off), Vitamin B to give me some energy, Turmeric to give an immune boost, Ashwagandha in Optimal Performance to reduce anxiety, Carb Control so I wouldn’t get hungry on the road. I packed my healthy snacks so I could stay energized – Kind bars, grapes, an apple. I packed 5 bags of my favorite Rishi jasmine tea – green tea, and mint tea after evening starts. I showered, dressed, felt like a normal adult human not a bedraggled mom running away. I had a nice Shivani Pep Talk – “I love driving, I love driving, this drive will be over in no time, it will be easy and simple, it will be effortless. I’m strong, no matter how long it is, I will get there. I will not quit, my strength and resolve is endless.” ……. And I did it. I’ve never done a long distance drive myself alone. My husband always done them. So I was concerned.
- We embarked on the road trip, it wasn’t horrific, we couldn’t find gas, had to stop for a few diaper changes and for my kids stops, but we made it.
- Thursday night after massive traffic jams we arrived to a fresh Indian meal, plenty of comfortable rooms to settle into for a few days, and peace that there was no hurricane coming. Later that night my Miami aunt cousin and family drove in because their FLL flight was delayed from 4pm-9pm then cancelled, so they jumped in the car, drove straight to Orlando, and got there by 3am. So it was a family gathering of sorts.
- Friday was chill, relaxed, we bought food In Case of Bad Weather for the kids, filled gas in the cars, worked out, went out for thai. Still no hurricane concern.
- Saturday we got some info. It turned west. not east. Wow meteorologists and everyone I know was totally wrong. GREAT! Everyone who stayed in South Florida is texting me like they made the best decision and I was the idiot. I knew it would be milder by the time it hit Orlando, so I was still happy with my decision. We made lemonade out of lemons and had some fun with the kids. Got them out of the house.
- Sunday was raining all day. All stores closed, all gas stations closed. Every. Single. Thing. Closed. It was scary. There was a curfew. You could not leave your house. Sunday night during homemade Mexican dinner Every Phone at the table blared a tornado warning. Now we were concerned. One person went outside to listen for a loud train sound coming at us, we scrambled and looked for ground floor places to take cover. The pantry, under the stairs, one bathroom with no windows. There were 22+ of us. We took the babies and children and put them under cover. Everyone was anxious, fear stricken, concerned. We went to bed knowing tonight was the night of the hurricane winds and rain, and boy did we hear it. Rain splattering the windows loudly, everyone barely sleeping or waking constantly, wondering if windows were broken. Wondering if we would hear a tornado, if we’d make it to those spots in time with the kids.
- Monday morning We awoke to no power. No internet. Bad cell service. Everyone feeling so grateful that the house was fine, just some trees were broken. The uncles went out to check out the neighborhood, big trees had fallen, roads were flooded, but everything was passable. We sat outside in the breeze to eat and connect. No internet meant we finally relaxed and talked. I learned about some amazing people whose spiritual teachings I should listen to. A nearby family house had power so we went there for the afternoon to watch Nemo, snack, hang out. By evening power was restored and we moved back for a big Pasta + Garlic bread feast with the entire family. And a gathering to all share what we were grateful for. It was nice to sit as a large family and connect, share all the little things we were grateful, thank our incredible hosts for their hospitality. It was weird how many people’s flights changed to lead this group to be together in Orlando.
- My husband said: Don’t Come Today. Not Sage. No power at home. Still wind. Roads need to be cleared. Grocery stores not open yet.
- Tuesday morning we packed up and hit the road. We said goodbye to our incredible hosts. They were so kind, so gracious, so welcoming, they made us feel like we escaped to an oasis, which was a great break from the initial preparations for hurricane Irma.
The road trip back was smooth sailing. There was a HUGE CONCERN that 7 million + people would try to return back to South Florida, would there be gas? would there be power? would Public be open? My husband said all was fine back in South Florida so we returned.
I am aboard a plane to Houston. Last Thursday sitting there I booked a Tues + Wed ticket to houston in case FLL/Boca were devastated, there was no power, and school openings were nowhere in sight. Driving back my husband and I decided, since FLL was half open/half closed, since we had no power, since everything in our fridges spoiled and was gone, since there’s no school this week, we might as well use one of those tickets and go to Houston.
I was so paranoid that something would go wrong again with my flight, I got to the airport 2.5 hours early (i never do that). I sat at my gate and faced it. I wouldn’t leave the area. I got on. I still thought it might not work out. As I handed the stewardess my ticket I thought it would be for the wrong flight again, I held my breath. Finally … We boarded. We sat. We settled in. I thanked my husband for handling everything and letting us go, and I broke down and cried.
It’s like the whole 2 weeks finally crashed onto me and I didn’t have to be Warrior Mom, Warrior Sister, Warrior Daughter, Warrior Daughter-In-Law, Warrior Driver in 8 hour jams, take care of everyone, keep everyone in the loop, keep everyone fed, keep everyone on consensus. Finally. I didn’t have to be strong for all of them. And I broke into tears. I rarely ever cry. But this storm, this much chaos, this much worry for the safety of my children, this much worry for everyone around me, this much exhaustion, it finally hit me, hard.
I’m hoping for an uneventful rest of this hurricane season.
With Harvey, Irma, Jose, catastrophic floods in India, earthquakes in Mexico, I honestly don’t have an optimistic outlook on that.
My outlook now is life is Short, the PEOPLE are precious, the THINGS are frivolous distractions, in the end I could easily walk away from it all, the Magical Moments are truly what you take with you, Resilience is a Choice. Self Care to survive it all is Paramount. The number of people helping each other, supporting each other, boarding other people’s homes, sharing their homes with people who have no power, that outpouring of love will not soon be forgotten. Collecting moments of joy seems trivial when we do it sometimes, but it’s always worth it, choose joy, choose magic, choose bliss. It’s available to us each and every day, we just choose distractions over that. We obsess over silly things. I know I for one won’t be doing that anymore.
Stay Safe Florida friends. Prayers for all those affected by #HurricaneHarvey and #HurricaneIrma – Much love and light to all while we all recover from all the recent natural disasters that have occurred.
P.S. My detox plan from this last month of extreme stress: Massages at Tao Foot Spa ($35 for 55 mins!), awesome workouts to pour with sweat, acupuncture visit to balance my system, chiropractic care to align again, green juice to replenish all systems and flush out “hurricane snacks”, 2-3 day Ayurvedic gut healing plan after so much stress, supplements back on track, a week of extra hydration to flush my system, this week focused on extreme immune support to support the system after such stress and prevent sickness, and some mind body stuff to reset back to my original self – meditation class, yoga class, outdoor walks in the greenery getting fresh air, and anything else I can think of — feel free to message me if you want to do what I’m doing. I think we all need to heal after this much stress thrown into our bodies and systems.