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After Storm

November 13th, 2012

 

Compassion, peanut butter and a beauty bar.

images of collections gathered
imageimageAfter something 'major' happens in my life- or in this case our lives (like the disaster brought on by Hurricane Sandy or past storms like Hurricane Katrina, and Hurricane Gustav hitting Haiti), I have difficulty continuing business as usual. Since it is my newsletter I guess I have the right to take a break, but the problem is more about social media the day after the storm. I am amazed at how some tweeters just continued talking about insufficient ‘stuff’ even though in one post they may say how distraught they are over the destruction Sandy has caused, and then in the next breath start tweeting about their manicure and favorite nail polish shade, a great business collaboration, a trend, etc. or as one stated “it messed her sleeping pattern due to no school" or how another tweeted how her life was disrupted and now she has to walk up 10 flights of steps, S-O-R-R-Y. The day after Hurricane Sandy with limited battery, I had to tweet "I love how it is business as usual for many tweeters, despite the massive damage this storm has caused. Is that tweet really necessary? Come 'on have a heart."

I truly feel this way and I am not afraid to share this opinion one bit. I might be taking it to the extreme, but for me writing about a lipstick or hair product, while many people haven't even showered in four days, or no longer has a shower to use, just doesn't seem that important. In fact, I find it to be very insensitive. I was without power for eight days, limited cellphone service (thanks AT&T) and no cable, but I considered my family and I lucky to have the essentials, thankfully a newly installed generator, and no damage done to our property. Yes, I was inconvenienced, and uncertain when my next propane delivery would be, but realized this wasn't important. In the past, I normally write about ways to keep clean and beautiful during power outages and no running water, but this catastrophic event was different. People didn't even have a place to live, others tragically loss loved ones (some children) due to trees falling or high waters, and the last thing people want to read about is keeping up with the latest skin care products. During these times, beauty shines from ways you can help others, donate your time and effort in anyway you possibly can. This is when you get a natural glow and your heart is rewarded due to kindness given by community efforts and generous hands pitching in either by donating, helping, or delivering.

image: The drop-off station in the Far Rockaways.
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Sitting around on day six or was it seven, I woke up and said this is ridiculous. Here I am, my children are off from school, and we are doing nothing to help. My boys are great kids, but I think many would agree when you pull them away from Xbox you get different creatures all together. Well, that is exactly what I did when they woke up. I shared, today is going to be different; we are going to alert our friends that we are collecting for those in need. They huffed a bit, but then pitched in. Without cable/television, it is very difficult for children to understand what is going on around us without images and pictures of how this storm truly has caused havoc to various communities. You try to paint a realistic picture without scaring them, but at age 11 and 13 the facts are essential. I shared images that I knew they could relate to, like remember that great boardwalk near Aunt Donna's house with arcade games, miniature golf and the 'lazy river' ride you took with Dad and Uncle Dave, well that’s floating in the Atlantic Ocean. And, never mind the boardwalk, Aunt Donna and Uncle Dave don't even know if their house is ok. I tried to conjure up as many visual images as possible, and their little eyes become wider and compassion started to shine --- exactly what you want your children to have. Next, I said we are going shopping and you will each use $20 of your own money to buy items you think a child your age would like to snack on if you were confided to a school gym. I also donated all I had in beauty products like shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion and deodorants to the collection So this is what we proceeded to do and one community service led to another and the boys saw just how great people are and their willingness to partake in the act of giving. My older son's friends got involved and even questioned why we are collecting peanut butter, not realizing how important a lunch staple like peanut butter and jelly can become during a time of need.

image: The destruction in the Far Rockaways
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The kindness even extended further when they saw their dad and a good friend (KM, thank you!!!) personally fill their trucks without room to spare and deliver the items collected to Far Rockaway. The reality was still overwhelming as two adult men became speechless at the sight of what they saw. For these areas that have been beaten to the ground, visual photos have the opposite effect--- it is ten times worse then what is seen on television. I believe, like the pains of war and 911, these images will forever be etched on their mind, and the kindness felt when they dropped off those items to a crowd of volunteers ever so thankful will never be forgotten.

Everyone has their stories, and everyone performs acts of kindness in ways that leave us speechless, but the real beauty - that no Chanel lipstick can ever bring- is the heartfelt message you send to your kids and those in need when you reach out that hardworking hand, chipped polish and all, and say "here this is what we gathered for you" and watch as a smile brightens the recipient's face or the receiver on the other side of the call says "this is a blessing, thank you" as you share what you have gathered for drop-off. This enormous amount of gratitude, this is beautiful, this is what radiates happiness and allows that contagious smile to be passed on giving new meaning and hope to those in need.

I do realize, life goes on and continuing “business as usual” helps people get back to their regular routines where they can share stories with co-workers and start laughing again, this too is part of the healing process and I respect this. I applaud those companies getting involved to give back and make 'tweets count' (aka, Frederic Fekkai!), blogger friends like Aly Walansky who sold her entire line of beauty products to raise money for Brooklynites affected by the storm along with giving away items for FREE to those in need, and others who are offering ways to donate. But we shouldn’t forget what others are still faced with and how displaced they feel not having their normalcy restored.

Be well, be safe,

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To keep the body in good health is a duty...otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong.

—Buddha