The Hurricane Harvey devastation in Houston really hit home for me last week. The Summer of 1999, me and my siblings were across the street with my mom at her friend’s house where we normally spent our days. My mom and her friend were in the kitchen gossiping and laughing. Me and her friends granddaughters playing in the living room making sure we were “where they could see us” lol. The phone rang, my mom picked up, and next thing we saw she was running across the street.
Our house was on fire!
In less than 20 minutes our lives had flipped upside down and a new version of reality set in. We had nothing. Nothing but the clothes on our backs and everything else was destroyed; either by the fire, or the water the firemen hosed in. With no idea what the next steps were, I understood what just happened, but was still too young to really UNDERSTAND.
With 3 kids, one of them just one year old, I can’t imagine what that moment was like for my mother. So I asked her..
Meet Rachel, 56 year old dimepiece, vintage gem, and mother of 5. My mother. The best woman, best person I’ve ever known, and someone whom I’m unquestionably the luckiest person in the world to be around daily. *cues applause*
Me: When you got the call that the apartment was on fire what was your initial reaction?
Mom: Well you remember my mother and father were in that house. She’s the one who called me. She said “Rae there’s a fire here!”. I don’t know why she called me but didn’t leave out of the house (laughs). So I ran over there immediately to make sure they were ok and see how bad it was. I opened the door and the smoke was so bad I couldn’t go in. I yelled into the apartment for my mother and father to come out. That was my immediate concern, my parents.
Me: I remember they were in there. So once things settled what were your thoughts?
Mom: Once everything calmed down I went in to see if anything could be salvaged. I had just finished purchasing all the school supplies for you guys. I had your book bags, everything, but everything was soaking wet. I said Oh god, well that was it. My children and I have nowhere to stay. I’ve lost everything. There’s not much to think about but you know, we’re alive. You don’t know where you’re gonna stay but things, things you can get back, I was glad we were ok.
Me:Who did you lean on through this process?
Mom: It was just us and God. Just me and him. I had to do what I had to do. It was hard, of course it was.I wasn’t working and I had you guys depending on me.
Me: If you could go back to that moment and encourage yourself in that moment what would you tell yourself?
Mom: Everybody’s ok. As long as there’s life…there’s hope. We gonna be alright…and that’s what I always say to myself every time.
Me:What are your feelings about Houston right now?
Mom: It’s devastating because it’s a natural disaster, it isn’t anyone’s fault. It’s hard when things are out of your control. They will recover, that I know. Life is a process of struggle and overcoming. To the ones that have lost their loved ones, I wouldn’t even say “they’re in a better place” because I don’t think that helps anyone. Time heals all wounds and the only thing you can do is stay strong to make it. You can get everything else material back but you can’t get life back. Once there’s life there’s hope, they’re gonna be alright. Once you have life, you have just about everything you need to continue on. Life is motivation.
Thank you mom, your strength is unmatched.
In a moment of loss, devastation, and no idea what comes next; what prevails in my mom, the Harvey survivors, and so many others who have gone through traumatic situations is one word: Gratefulness. There is SUPREME power in being grateful. As I followed the hurricane Harvey story I saw devastation and sadness, but you know what I saw as well? I saw appreciation for what they did have. Appreciation for seeing it through, weathering the storm…literally. I saw children playing and splashing in flooded areas like it was a pool, videos of people thanking God for life in the midst of crisis. I saw people finding humor in the midst of it all and people rejoicing that they had been rescued or found shelter and refuge. Video
So before we “all lives matter” Houston because we too have our own real life disasters and issues, I’m challenging you to take more time to be grateful. It’s so important. It shouldn’t take us having to see or hear about someone in an unfortunate situation, or a “feed the children” commercial to be appreciative and to stop being blind to the plethora of gifts the universe has given us.
Please, don’t confuse being grateful as denying you your natural right to be unhappy or dissatisfied in a situation. There are so many people desperately seeking the good in life, and we too may have been in times where gratefulness might not have been the first point on the agenda. And that’s ok. Start with the small things, and gratitude will start to show you more and more of what you do have, when you stop focusing on what you don’t have.
The Friday before Harvey hit Houston, I stared into my over packed fridge and complained about it not having certain things I wanted and had an appetite for at that moment, and I mean I went on and on every time I opened it. “How is the fridge packed but it’s nothing in it? OMG nobody bought me the….” Let me tell you, If I could take that ENTIRE fridge and ship it to Houston right now I would.
Let gratefulness be the most important choice of your day. Start a list today, list ten things you’re grateful for, add to it every chance you get. Put a few of the things you’re grateful for in the comments now, I’m nosy I’d love to hear 🙂 .
Like a flower, the more you feed it, the more it will grow. We’ll be doing this together. Numero uno on my list: I’m grateful for you reading this.
I LOVE YOU.