Butterflies, Duck Parades, and the Calm After the Storm

For the past two weeks, I have written about my experience before and during Hurricane Ian. This week, I want to share the experience of the calm after the storm. This hurricane taught me so many lessons I have needed three weeks to process and share all of them. I promise this will be the conclusion of the “storm trilogy.” I hope that sharing these experiences will be helpful to you the next time you encounter one of life’s storms. 

As I mentioned last week, I kept my blinds closed the whole day on Wednesday as Hurricane Ian passed over my home on the west coast of Florida. I knew seeing severe winds battering trees and perhaps seeing objects flying by my window would not contribute to a peaceful state of mind. Thankfully, the last storm bands moved across my neighborhood at about 2 AM on Thursday morning, just an hour after I had fallen asleep.  

Later on Thursday morning, I awoke to the welcome sound of silence outside my window. When I lifted the blinds to let the light in, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Two yellow butterflies were flitting and dancing right in front of my window! How in the world did these delicate creatures survive hurricane-force winds? Where did they ride out the storm?

When my gaze shifted past the butterflies to the pond in the center of my apartment complex, I noticed two mallard ducks swimming along as if nothing had happened the previous day. A few minutes later, a family of ducks entered the pond creating a colorful parade of green and brown (with a dash of blue) feathers swimming by the fountain. On the far side of the pond, I spotted a bright white egret wading slowly into the water, intent on finding a fish. This beautiful scene outside my window gave me such hope! Somehow during the most adverse conditions, the butterflies and birds found a way to keep going. That continues to be my prayer for those who lost so much in the storm.

In addition to the return of nature, this new day brought blue skies, sunshine, and much cooler temperatures. After a hot summer and after being cooped up in my dark apartment for 24 hours, it was glorious to open all the windows and feel cool fresh air circulating through my home. It was like hitting a reset button, clearing out old energy, and welcoming the new. What a striking and welcome contrast from the day before.

It was such a gorgeous day that I decided to walk through my neighborhood to get some exercise and investigate what the storm had done. Without electricity or internet, I hadn’t seen any of the images or videos that my friends and family had described. On my walk, I expected to see  numerous trees and branches down, but I was shocked when I saw that winds had literally ripped the bark off tree trunks and peeled paint off street signs. I have experienced other hurricanes but never witnessed that before.

As I walked toward a major intersection, I passed more broken signs, fallen branches, and a traffic light that had been ripped from its wire and sent to the ground. That was sobering. When I arrived at the intersection, the traffic lights were still hanging, but apparently, no electricity was flowing to them. Four police officers were stationed there, directing traffic. It occurred to me how dangerous this job was with so many distracted drivers on the road these days. I felt a wave of gratitude for each officer as I watched from the corner. I wanted them to know how much I appreciated what they were doing, but obviously didn’t want to distract them. 

The female police officer must have felt my gaze and my intention because suddenly, she looked right at me. Without hesitating, I waved and yelled, “Thank you!” She gave me a smile and a nod before returning to her duties. It may sound silly, but my eyes filled with tears for the opportunity to express my gratitude. That’s what A Course in Miracles calls a “holy instant.” It’s the moment we deeply understand that separation is an illusion.

I know my tears weren’t specifically about the police officers directing traffic. It was their job, after all. It was more about recognizing how we humans come together in challenging times to do what’s needed to help each other. You can see evidence of this after every natural disaster. This holy instant inspired me. For the rest of my walk, I dragged large fallen branches out of the street so cars could pass freely. Yes, I waited until there were no cars approaching when it was safe to do so. In the grand scheme of things, this was a minor action. But it made me feel good to know that I had at least contributed something to make the situation better.

These are my last few takeaways from my experience with Hurricane Ian. First, no matter what storm is happening in life, remember this too shall pass. There willbe calm after the storm. Second, just like the yellow butterflies, the mallard ducks, and the egret, life will find a way to continue. And third, after any storm or tragedy people will come together to help each other. That’s what we do when we remember, in Truth, we are one human family.

If you are experiencing the aftermath of one of life’s storms, it would be my great honor to help you clear the path and find ways to move forward. I offer Spiritual Coaching Packages and Family Constellations Sessions to uncover what is preventing you from living the happy, healthy, prosperous life you were meant to live. Please look around my website for more information about these offerings and to schedule a session.  

Also, I am facilitating another 2-hour online Family Constellations Group Session this coming Friday, October 21 from 1-3 PM Eastern, 10 AM-12 PM Pacific. Click here for more details and to purchase a ticket.

In the holy instant there is no conflict of needs, for there is only one.

A Course in Miracles ~ T-15.V11:4

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

Calm Before the Storm

We often talk about the calm before the storm. Not only is it a condition we can observe, but it’s also good advice. I’m writing these words the night before a major hurricane is supposed to make landfall very close to my home on the west coast of Florida. Having lived in different areas of Florida since 1992, I’m no stranger to this experience. Over the last 30 years, I’ve learned a few things about living in places vulnerable to hurricanes. 

One, it’s best to get extra water and other necessary supplies as soon as hurricane season begins. You don’t want to be rushing around trying to gather supplies at the last minute when shelves are bare and people are panicked. It can be very stressful.

Two, although meteorologists and computer models do their best to predict a storm’s path, we never truly know where they are going until they actually arrive. Hurricanes can change direction suddenly and without warning, just like life!

The most important thing I have learned is applicable to any of life’s storms, whether they are weather-related or not. We make the best decisions when we are calm and centered. If my head is crammed with fearful chaotic thoughts, there’s no way I can hear the voice for love guiding me to the highest and best solution. In my experience, making choices from fear rarely leads to a pleasant outcome. 

Tuesday, when I woke up, I was very tempted to open my laptop right away and check the storm’s location. Instead, I decided to sit quietly on my meditation chair. In the stillness, I asked Spirit, my higher self, the voice for love, my guardian angels, whatever you want to call that presence, what action would be the highest choice. Was it best to stay home and weather the storm or pack my car and drive to the other side of the state? I was open to either answer, but surprisingly, the one that felt most peaceful was to stay. So that’s what I’m doing.

In addition to having supplies, I’ve done all the things I can think of to prepare. I brought patio chairs, doormats, and wind chimes inside. My electronic devices and backup batteries are fully charged. I placed candles and a flashlight on my countertop where they are easy to find. I made extra ice by filling food storage containers with water and placing them in the freezer. I’ve downloaded two new books to my kindle and a few movies to my iPad. My car has gas in the tank. And I’m getting this story written in advance, knowing a power outage is more than a good possibility. 

Many of the preparations I’ve made have only occurred to me because I am staying as calm as possible. If I had been running around in fear or glued to the Weather Channel, I don’t think I would be as prepared or as peaceful. Am I a little apprehensive about the strength of the storm approaching? Of course! But our weekly online A Course in Miracles study group helped bring me back to center on Tuesday night. 

I am also grateful to the many friends who have reached out to check on me and to let me know they are holding the high watch with me and all those in the storm’s path. What will happen? I don’t know for sure. But I do know staying calm before the storm has been incredibly helpful. 

Are you experiencing rough weather in one or more areas of your life? Relationships, Health, Finances, Career, or Family? It would be my great honor to give you tools to stay calm in the storm and help you release those chaotic, fearful thoughts so you can tap into your own guidance system. Consider giving yourself the gift of a series of Spiritual Coaching Sessions or a Private Family Constellations Session. You can learn more about both or schedule a session by exploring my website

Until next time, may you remember to ask for guidance to release fear and stay calm no matter how big the storm. 

A tranquil mind is not a little gift.

A Course in Miracles ~ M-20.4:8

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