Hurricane Giraffes, Peaceful Prayers, and Gratitude

First, I want to thank everyone who sent peaceful prayers and loving thoughts my way before, during, and after Hurricane Ian. I absolutely felt them. I am grateful to report I am safe and my home was not damaged. My heart goes out to so many of my Florida neighbors who were not so fortunate. As you have probably seen or heard, Hurricane Ian left a staggering amount of destruction in its path. This was the most powerful storm I have experienced and also one of the most powerful lessons in faith.

Meteorologists and Storm Trackers do their best to predict how powerful a storm will be and where it will make landfall. But with so many variables at play, there is no way to know for sure until it happens. My neighborhood is far enough inland that it is not in a mandatory evacuation zone. However, with a storm this big, I questioned whether or not to evacuate. As I mentioned in last week’s email, Calm Before the Storm, from a peaceful place, I asked Spirit if it was my highest choice to stay or leave. The guidance I received was to stay put. 

I will admit I questioned that guidance later that evening when my neighbor told me he and his mom decided to book a room in Orlando instead of riding out the storm as we had discussed. Fear tried to creep in. With them gone, I’d be on my own. Maybe I should also book a room in Orlando just to be safe? No, my guidance was clear. That night I facilitated our weekly online A Course in Miracles study group, composed and edited last week’s email until the wee hours, and then went to bed. 

The next morning, I woke up early to the sound of wind gusts whipping through tree branches and palm fronds outside my bedroom window. Maybe now it was time to go? Once again, I sat in the stillness and asked for guidance. I received the same answer. Stay put. That seemed like the wisest choice at that point. Many had to evacuate, so I imagined roads would be clogged with cars and gas would be scarce. With the storm’s path still unknown, home felt like the safest and most peaceful choice.

Since I was staying, and Ian was now a Category 4 (almost a Category 5) Hurricane, I made a few more preparations. I moved all of my furniture and belongings away from the windows and placed a chair and a little table in the center hallway of my apartment. This would be my safe zone to sit and read if things got intense. 

I purposely left the blinds closed and stopped watching YouTube videos from local news channels. Seeing things blow by my window or watching news coverage of the very worst devastation would only breed fearful thoughts. I was determined to keep my thoughts peaceful despite what was happening outside. A Course in Miracles teaches that we may not be able to control what is happening, but we can control our thoughts about what is happening. Over the last 15 years, it has given me lots of practice in choosing love over fear. I did my best to focus on the peaceful prayers I was feeling and the outcome I wished to have. 

It was now almost noon. Earlier, I watched a YouTube video reporting that Ian would be making landfall about that time, so I assumed the worst would be over in a few hours. Since I hadn’t slept much the night before, I decided to go back to bed and see if I could relax enough to take a nap. Thankfully, my body and mind surrendered to an hour of sleep.

When I woke up, I had no power or internet service, and the wind was howling outside. With only limited cellular service, I had to rely on text messages from friends in other locations to let me know what was going on. One close friend sent me a screenshot from CNN’s website. It  said my city would experience hurricane-force winds from 3 PM to 2 AM with the strongest gusts blowing from 6 PM to Midnight. WHAT? The worst conditions hadn’t even started yet? This was not what I wanted to hear, but it was very useful information to help me manage my time and expectations. Now I knew I had at least 12 more hours to keep choosing peace. 

My yoga practice always brings me back to center, no matter what is going on in my life or the world. So with the sofa between me and the window, I rolled out my yoga mat and began my practice. For two hours, my mind was focused on breathing and body alignment and not on what was happening outside. That is until I laid down on my mat in final resting pose. I could feel the wind shaking the entire building. That was an interesting sensation! Surprisingly, I still felt safe surrounded by the sturdy walls of my apartment and a bubble of peaceful prayers. Even on that day, my yoga practice left me feeling and knowing “all is well.” 

I would be lying if I said I remained 100% peaceful for the next 12 hours. Fear kept tempting me down the rabbit hole asking questions like: What if a tree limb crashes through my living room window? Was there a tree on top of my car in the parking lot? Would the wind tear off a piece of roof and let water pour into my apartment? 

When those thoughts entered, I reminded myself there was nothing I could do to prevent those things from happening. Why invest an ounce of energy thinking about them? It was better to keep my thoughts positive and peaceful so my experience would be positive and peaceful. Then I could go back to enjoying traveling West with Giraffes on my kindle. Ironically, that novel follows the story of 2 giraffes that survive a hurricane at sea during their journey from Africa to NYC in 1938 before continuing cross country to the San Diego Zoo. I also traveled to a galaxy far, far away with Andor on my iPad. Both were excellent adventures!

The storm finally passed around 1 AM. The silence outside was a welcome relief after 24 hours of wind and persistent rain. Thankfully, I drifted off to sleep quickly knowing the worst was over. The guidance I received turned out to be the best choice for me in this situation. Had the storm come any further north, I truly believe I would have been guided differently. This experience has strengthened my trust in Divine Guidance and shown me the power of choosing peaceful thoughts during extreme circumstances. 

I am extremely grateful for allof you who held the high watch with me. The Course teaches that all minds are joined, and after this experience, there is no doubt in my mind that it’s true. I felt your peaceful prayers and loving thoughts give me the boost I needed to stay calm even when rain and ferocious winds were swirling around me. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you! 

That being said, I don’t know if I would have been as successful choosing peaceful thoughts had the storm hit Sarasota directly. I am extremely grateful I didn’t have to find out…this time. Let’s continue to extend peaceful prayers and loving thoughts to my neighbors who experienced much more trauma and devastation from Hurricane Ian. May those who lost so much find a tranquil place to make the highest and best choices for themselves and their families.

If you would like to feel the peace and healing that comes when minds are joined, please consider giving yourself the gift of a Family Constellations Session. I offer private sessions as well as group sessions. The next online group session is Friday, October 21 from 1-3 PM Eastern, 12-2 PM Central, 11 AM -1 PM Mountain, and 10 AM to 12 PM Pacific. Whether you’ve been through an emotional or physical storm, let’s come together to support one another during this challenging time. Click here to purchase a ticket for this 2-hour miraculous experience on Zoom.

This week, may you find ways to choose peace even in the most challenging of circumstances.

There is no room in us for fear today, for we have welcomed love into our hearts.

A Course in Miracles ~ W-310.2:4

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